Friday, August 18, 2017

ACLU Tosses Second Amendment Under the Bus

The American Civil Liberties Union is a group that was founded to protect the constitutional freedoms of Americans. The ACLU website brags, “For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Yet there seems to be one freedom that is too controversial for the ACLU to protect.

After the Virginia branch of the ACLU aided the alt-right groups that participated in the riot in Charlottesville last weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports that the ACLU will not defend the right of “hate groups” to march with firearms. The group will also consider the potential for violence when considering whether to work with potential clients.

“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” said Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director. “If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”

There were many pictures of the white supremacist marchers openly carrying guns, which is legal in Virginia. At this point, it is unclear if any of these guns were fired during the riot, but photographer Zach Roberts did photograph an alt-right militant using a pistol to provide cover to the white supremacists who savagely beat Deandre Harris, a black special education teacher, with metal poles.

In an online statement, the ACLU said, “If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution.”

The question is one of intent. How can the ACLU determine whether marchers are peacefully exercising their Second Amendment rights or using guns to intimidate political opponents? Without evidence, the answer to that question is in the eye of the beholder.

Until they show intent to break the law, white supremacists have the same rights as any other American. The ACLU has recognized this for decades. As far back as 1978, the group defended the right of neo-Nazis in to march in Skokie, Illinois.

The problem seems to be on the Second Amendment, where the ACLU has long been ambivalent. The group historically considered the right to bear arms to be a government right to arm the militia. In 1980, the ACLU said, “With respect to firearms, the ACLU believes that this quality of dangerousness justifies legal regulation which substantially restricts the individual’s interest in freedom of choice.”

The freedom of speech and the right to bear arms are both enshrined in the Constitution that the ACLU claims to protect. These rights apply to neo-Nazis and Klan members just as they do to every other American. The ACLU has said that it would continue to deal with requests for aid by white supremacist groups on a case-by-case basis, but it is disingenuous to protect one right and not the other, even after Charlottesville.

No right is absolute. Just as freedom of speech does not include yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, the right to carry is subject to reasonable limits. It should be up to state and local governments to learn from Charlottesville and, if they see a legitimate need, enact constitutional legislation that restrict weapons under certain conditions. Virginia law already contains restrictions on the right to carry in certain circumstances.

If anyone, white supremacist or otherwise, abuses their right to bear arms by using legal guns to commit crimes, they should face stiff penalties. If this gunman, who used his gun to aid in the assault and battery of Deandre Harris, can be identified, he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, including the loss of his Second Amendment rights if he is convicted of a felony.


If the alt-right had not exercised their right to freely assemble and speak their minds, the Charlottesville riot would never have happened. In spite of that, the ACLU is not denying First Amendment aid to racist groups. Why should the Second Amendment be any different? 

Originally published on The Resurgent

'Fine People' Were Told To Avoid Charlottesville Nazi Rally

One of President Trump’s most controversial statements about the Charlottesville riot was his comment that there were “fine people” on both sides of the fracas that left one woman dead. Now new information casts doubt on the president’s assumption that not all the participants in the rally were part of radical groups.

The president’s statement seems to hinge on his belief that some attendees at the rally were not members of the alt-right, but were merely there to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. In a press conference on Tuesday, Trump said, “You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”

A report by the Wall Street Journal casts doubt on the president’s claim that the protesters were not exclusively white supremacists. The Journal cites a source with knowledge of the Monument Fund, Inc., one of the groups that originally obtained an injunction against removal of the Lee statue, who said that their members did not participate in the rally.

“Nobody from our group attended the protests or counter-protests,” the source said. “We all stayed away. As everybody should have done. As President Sullivan of U VA urged people to do. Just stay home. But City Councilors and a coalition of leftist groups invited their followers to show up for counter protests. And show up they did, angry and spoiling for a fight.”

The narrative continued, “If City Council had just said: let the Nazis shout idiot slogans at empty air, ignore them, stay home -- no violence would have happened. The police are unfairly criticized for not stopping the fighting. How could they? These two groups wanted to fight. They found ways to get at each other. These are public streets, they could not all be locked down and cleared of belligerents.”

Contrary to President Trump and some on the right, the Charlottesville rally was not about preservation of historic statues. The rally, as advertised, was a “Unite the Right” rally for white supremacists. Rather than mainstream historians or politicians, speakers included alt-right figures such as Richard Spencer, Mike Peinovich, Matthew Heimbach and David Duke.

On Friday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe urged people to avoid the Charlottesville rally. McAuliffe asked in a statement for people “either in support or opposition to the planned rally to make alternative plans.”

Since President Trump claimed to wait until the facts were in to make a statement, he may have additional information of “fine people” in attendance at the alt-right rally. If so, the burden of proof is on him. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

When You've Lost Republicans On Fox News, You've Lost Middle America


President Trump’s comments about the Charlottesville riot have drawn condemnation from all quarters of the country. The true extent of the political damage to the president is not fully known at this point, but Fox News host Shepard Smith offered a clue. According to Smith, Fox News, a channel normally friendly to Trump and Republicans, could not find a single Republican to defend Trump’s statements on the air.

“Our booking team — and they're good — reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today,” Smith said on his show Wednesday. “Let's be honest, Republicans don't often really mind coming on Fox News Channel. We couldn't get anyone to come and defend him here because we thought, in balance, someone should do that.”

“We worked very hard at it throughout the day, and we were unsuccessful,” Smith continued.

Throughout his short political career, the president has never had trouble finding Republicans to defend him. On issues from his connections to Russia to the Access Hollywood tape, there were always people willing to go on record to back Donald Trump and excuse his behavior.

While few, if any, Republicans are defending Trump, several are now condemning him by name. On Wednesday, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement, “Through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer. I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.”

“Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world,” Graham continued.

In a tweet, John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “There's no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.”

Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) launched a series of tweets in which he said that the white supremacist organizers of the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville are “100% to blame for a number of reasons.”

“Mr. President,” Rubio tweeted, “you can't allow White Supremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain.”

The list of other Republicans breaking with Trump on the issue is growing. CNN reports that it now includes Corey Gardner (R-Col.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and John Kasich (R-Ohio).

While Republicans have largely stood by the president since his nomination, Trump’s behavior is increasingly becoming a liability to Republicans who must face voters themselves. This is especially true when Trump veers into the emotionally charged world of race.

One of the few things that unites almost all Americans is a hatred for racism and Nazis. With his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides,” Trump has put his administration and the Republican Party firmly on the wrong side of the issue.

The proof is the lack of Republicans willing to back the president on Charlottesville. When Republicans won’t go on Fox News to defend President Trump, he is in serious trouble.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Four CEOs Desert Manufacturing Council As Trump Approval Sinks After Charlottesville

President Trump’s delayed condemnation of the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville seems to be taking a toll among his more mainstream support. In the wake of this weekend’s riots, three corporate CEOs who had been a part of the president’s council on manufacturing jobs abruptly resigned and the president’s approval rating has plummeted to its lowest point ever.

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier was the first CEO to jump ship. In a tweet on Monday, August 15, Frazier explicitly linked his resignation to Trump’s silence on the Nazis who claimed to be part of the Trump movement.

In part, Frazier’s statement reads, “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.” He added, “As CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience, I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism.”

Later on Monday, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich both left the council as well. Business Insider quotes Plank in a statement that says Under Armour “engages in innovation and sports, not politics.”

Krzanich said, “I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing. Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America's manufacturing base.”

President Trump responded to the resignation of Merck’s Frazier with a tweet on Monday that attacked Merck for high drug prices: “@Merck Pharma is a leader in higher & higher drug prices while at the same time taking jobs out of the U.S. Bring jobs back & LOWER PRICES!”

A second tweet on August 15 addressed the subsequent resignations of Plank and Krzanich. “For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place,” Trump tweeted. “Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!”

After the president’s second tweet, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, tweeted that he too was leaving the council. “I'm resigning from the Manufacturing Jobs Initiative because it's the right thing for me to do,” Paul said.
At the same time, Gallup released a three-day polling average that showed President Trump’s approval rating at 34 percent, its lowest level ever, with 61 percent disapproval. The poll ran from Friday through Sunday so it partially reflected the events in Charlottesville.

The American Manufacturing Council was set up by President Trump to allow corporate CEOs to advise him on manufacturing policy. Twenty corporate CEOs remain on the council. One additional member of the council, Elon Musk of Tesla, had previously resigned to protest Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate change accords.

On Monday, two days after the Charlottesville riots, President Trump issued a more forceful and specific statement denouncing the white supremacist movement. It is interesting to note that his tweet attacking Merck came only 10 hours after Frazier’s resignation. The response time after Plank and Krzanich quit was even shorter.

Originally published on The Resurgent

Defending Charlottesville Nazis is Trap for Conservatives

In the wake of the Charlottesville protests, the equivocations among Republicans are already beginning, starting with President Trump. The president, who seldom fails to speak his mind on Twitter, offered an uncharacteristically judicious tweet in the wake of the violence.

“We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets [sic] come together as one!” the president tweeted.

If ever there was a time for President Trump to issue a strong message that parses no words, this is it. While the message of unity is appropriate, it is also appropriate to condemn the white supremacists who started the whole fracas.

While radicals on both sides deserve to be condemned, it should not be hard to single out neo-Nazis who march under the swastika flag for specific condemnation. The German Nazi flag cannot be considered to be part of our heritage. Far from it. We fought a world war to keep the swastika flag far from our shores.

Neo-Nazi radicals have the right to their opinion. They have the right to peacefully and lawfully assemble. That does not mean that they should not be criticized and condemned for their actions and the violence that they have instigated.

While all the groups involved in the Charlottesville skirmishing are worthy of condemnation, it is especially important for conservatives and Republicans to denounce the alt-right demonstrators for two reasons. First, in the minds of many people, the Republican Party is already associated with racism. Republicans should take every opportunity to distance themselves from that perception.

Second, the demonstrators explicitly claim to be associated with President Trump and the GOP. There are numerous reports of white supremacists wearing “Make America Great Again” hats and other Trump gear. Former Klansman and Republican candidate David Duke said at the rally, “We're going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump, and that's what we believed in, that's why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he's going to take our country back and that's what we gotta [sic] do.”

Failure to publicly renounce Duke’s words is a trap for conservatives. If Republicans do not rebuke racists claiming to act in the name of the Trump Administration it will be an implicit endorsement of their actions. For once, it would be to President Trump’s advantage to fire off an angry tweet specifically rebuking the Charlottesville Nazis in terms at least as strong as he reprimanded Jeff Sessions.

If President Trump fails to condemn the white supremacists in Charlottesville, it will be a break with the true traditions of the Republican Party. The GOP was founded as an anti-white supremacist party at the dawn of the Civil War with the Great Emancipator, Abraham Lincoln, as its first president. Another Republican president, Dwight Eisenhower, ordered the 101st Airborne to Little Rock to enforce school integration a century later.

More recently, President Reagan specifically excluded bigots from the big tent of the GOP in his second inaugural address. “In the party of Lincoln, there is no room for intolerance and not even a small corner for anti-Semitism or bigotry of any kind,” Reagan said. “Many people are welcome in our house, but not the bigots.”

In modern America, what easier target for condemnation is there than white supremacists rallying under a Nazi banner? If the president cannot find words to denounce American Nazis, it will speak volumes about his Administration and the new Republican Party.


Originally published on The Resurgent

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Ride To Goliad To Learn Texas History

Presidio La Bahia (David Thornton)
“It isn’t what you expect,” people told me. “You’ll be disappointed.”

A lot of people had the same reaction about my upcoming visit to the Alamo. After a year in Texas, we decided to take our family to visit the famous shrine to the Texas Revolution in San Antonio. When we got there, even my children sensed what our native Texan friends had been telling us.

I have visited many different battlefields from the Revolution and the Civil War, but the Alamo was different. Most battlefields are national parks that have preserved the tranquility and dignity of the historic sites. The fact that the Alamo was located just outside the town of Bexar in Mexican Tejas and, after Texas independence, the city of San Antonio grew up around it probably accounts for much of why the Alamo battlefield is different.

When we arrived at the Alamo, we found that, unlike the Gettysburg battlefield, for instance, the Alamo was surrounded by a carnival atmosphere akin to that of a boardwalk. While the actual remnants of the Mission San Antonio de Valero, the old Spanish mission that became the Alamo fortress, were a solemn place, across the street was a Ripley’s Believe It Or Not Museum, The Amazing Mirror Maze and Louis Tussaud’s Waxworks. To us, the festive atmosphere seemed out of place on the site where hundreds of soldiers on both sides had died.

A few years later, we made a brief detour through Goliad, the south Texas town most known to outsiders as the town that didn’t send reinforcements to the Alamo. Goliad is home to two old Spanish missions that have been restored. The two missions, EspĂ­ritu Santo at Goliad State Park and Presidio La Bahia just down the road, are much better representations of the history of the Texas revolution.

In particular, the Presidio La Bahia, which has been completely restored, stands in contrast to the Alamo, most of which was destroyed in the battle. The building commonly referred to as the Alamo was the mission’s chapel, only one small part of entire complex. The Presidio La Bahia gives visitors a feel for what the Alamo would have been like in 1836.

While there was no major battle at Goliad, La Bahia was the site of a lesser known massacre of Texas soldiers by the Mexican army. Shortly after the fall of the Alamo, Col. James Fannin’s men surrendered to the Mexicans and were imprisoned at Goliad. Santa Ana ordered the execution of the prisoners a short time later. More Texans were killed in the Goliad Massacre than at the Alamo. Their common grave and memorial is just outside the presidio walls.

Today, Goliad State Park and the Presidio La Bahia, privately owned by the Catholic Diocese of Victoria, Texas, both provide good museums with that describe the area’s history in context and showcase period artifacts. La Bahia also features a short video that recounts the Texas Revolution.

Whether you’re a Texan or visitor to the Lone Star State, if you are in San Antonio, by all means, visit the Alamo. From the bar of the historic Menger Hotel, where Teddy Roosevelt enlisted the Rough Riders, to the Riverwalk and Six Flags Fiesta Texas, San Antonio has a lot to offer as a vacation destination.

But don’t be afraid to get off the beaten path. If you’re interested in the Texas Revolution, a side trip to Goliad may be even more enlightening and rewarding.


Originally published on The Resurgent

Friday, August 11, 2017

China May Be Testing Trump In North Korea

China figures strongly into the current North Korea crisis, but exactly how is a matter of dispute. President Trump seems to believe that China is the key to resolving the matter of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, but it is far from certain that China’s interests in the region align with our own.

Beyond the fact that Trump was overtly hostile and, at times, insulting to China during the presidential campaign, China is in the midst of a long campaign to expand its power in Asia and beyond. Chinese island-building in the South China Sea is common knowledge. Less known is how Chinese influence is growing in the Middle East, Africa and even the Americas.

As Chinese military and economic influence grows around the world, the inescapable conclusion is that China has dreams of replacing the US as the world’s dominant superpower. That being the case, it would be in China’s interest to make the US look bad in the confrontation with North Korea. If China can use North Korea to hasten the American decline in Asia, which began with the 1953 stalemate in Korea and continued with Vietnam and the Trump Administration’s decision to withdraw from the Trans Pacific Partnership, it would probably not hesitate to do so.

Aside from their aim of overtaking the United States, a secondary goal of the Chinese government could be to test President Trump. There is pattern of Chinese crises shortly after Republican presidents take office. In June 1989, five months after George H. W. Bush became president, violent repression of the Chinese democracy protests at Tiananmen Square led to soured relations between the two countries. In April 2001, three months into the presidency of George W. Bush, a Chinese fighter collided with a US Navy reconnaissance plane. The American plane made an emergency landing on Hainan Island and the crew was detained for 11 days by the Chinese government. Now, soon after President Trump took office, the North Koreans increased their missile testing. While these incidents were presumably not manufactured by China, they may well have used the events to test the mettle of the new occupants of the Oval Office.

What could be the Chinese endgame for the Korean crisis? After President Trump made trade concessions to China last spring for doing approximately nothing to help with the Korean situation, Beijing may believe that they can win additional concessions from the US if the crisis is allowed to get worse.

If President Trump backs down after having made resolving the North Korean issue a priority, the Chinese will win by default. The United States and President Trump will lose face and credibility around the world. With both President Trump and Kim Jong Un trying to outdo the other’s bellicose rhetoric, at the moment China is playing the role of the adult in the room.

If the US actually attacks North Korea, it would present a problem for China. China has a longstanding relationship with its patron government in Pyongyang. Animosity between the Chinese and the Koreans goes back centuries, but for the past 75 years, North Korea has been a loyal client of Communist China.

In 1950, when American and United Nations troops advanced too close to the Chinese border, China intervened with a massive attack that sent allied armies reeling. Those who doubt that China would do the same thing in 2017 need only consider the unofficial nickname of Korea, “a dagger aimed at the heart of China.” China cannot allow the US or its allies to occupy North Korea.

A US attack on North Korea would require a Chinese response and the Chinese have said as much in an editorial in the Chinese Global Times. The paper notes that “Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time,” but that “it needs to make clear… when their actions jeopardize China's interests, China will respond with a firm hand.”

The editorial says that if North Korea strikes first China will remain neutral. This may be a tacit assurance that the North will not attack without provocation. Then it issues a warning: “If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

Regardless of whether China is goading North Korea forward behind the scenes or Kim is acting on his own, the brinksmanship is a most dangerous game that could easily get out of hand and lead to a major conflict. Whatever President Trump does, on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere, the Chinese will undoubtedly be watching.


 Originally published on The Resurgent