Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Roy Moore Is Heavy Favorite In Alabama Senate Runoff

A new poll shows that former judge Roy Moore has a landslide-size lead in the runoff to decide which Republican faces the Democrat Doug Jones in Alabama’s special Senate election. The poll by JMC Analytics found that Moore currently has a lead of almost 20 points over Luther Strange, the sitting Senator appointed to fill the seat of Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

The poll, which contacted Alabamans from across the state, found that 51 percent of respondents who were considering voting in the runoff favored Moore. Thirty-two percent planned to vote for Strange with 17 percent undecided.

The big surprise from the poll was how ineffective the Republican endorsements of Strange have been. President Trump carried Alabama with 62 percent of the vote last year, but his endorsement of Strange seems to have had no net effect at all. The poll found that 51 percent said that Trump’s endorsement made no difference. The remainder were split almost evenly between those who said that Trump’s endorsement helped Strange (25 percent) and those who said it hurt him (23 percent).

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) fared even worse. Forty-six percent said McConnell’s endorsement made no difference while 45 percent said it made them less likely to support Strange. Only 10 percent seemed to value McConnell’s endorsement.

Sixty-eight percent self-identified as evangelical Christians. Roy Moore, who is considered a hero by many Christians for his battles to keep a monument to the Ten Commandments in the State Supreme Court building and for his refusal to uphold the Supreme Court ruling instituting same-sex marriage, has a definite advantage among Christian voters. The poll shows Moore with 58 percent support among evangelicals.

Luther Strange has been bedeviled by several corruption scandals. Strange, the former attorney general of Alabama, was appointed to the Senate by Gov. Robert Bentley who was forced to resign in disgrace. Strange, who was in charge of the investigation into Bentley’s extramarital affair and the ensuing cover-up and abuses of power, has been accused of delaying the impeachment proceedings against the former governor.

Strange and many other Alabama politicians also took donations from two companies that are accused of paying outright bribes to state legislator Oliver Robinson. The $360,000 in bribes were associated with an Alabama coal company’s attempt to avoid paying for the EPA cleanup of a toxic site.

Finally, Strange s the subject of an investigation into two felony campaign finance violations. An ethics hearing was originally scheduled for August 2, but was moved to August 16, the day after the initial primary election.

Moore was the top finisher in the first round of polling with 38 percent to Strange’s 32 percent. Pre-election polling had showed the two men in a virtual dead heat. Since neither candidate received a majority, a runoff was scheduled for Sept. 26. The general election will be on Dec. 12.

The new poll was conducted among 515 likely voters and the margin of error is 4.3 percent.

 Originally published on The Resurgent

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Unbelievable! Trump Surrogate Calls Slavery and Civil War 'Good History'

You might think that racial controversy could finally be dying down after President Trump’s statements last night that “love for America requires love for all of its people” and that “there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry, and no tolerance for hate.” If so, you would be wrong. This time the blame doesn’t lie with the president, however, but with a Trump surrogate who seems to think that slavery was a good thing.

The Trump supporter in question is Katrina Pierson who was the national spokesperson for Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. Pierson appeared on a Fox & Friends segment with Ainsley Earhardt and Wendy Osefo, a “social justice” activist. Two minutes into the discussion on the removal of Confederate monuments, Pierson went off the rails.

Osefo: This is not a symbol of patriotism. This is a symbol of hatred and division and, while it is a piece of American history, it is not necessarily the good part of American history. It is nefarious. So it doesn’t deserve a place on state grounds. It deserves a place in museums and that’s where they need to be.
Pierson: It absolutely deserves a place because bad history is still good history for this country.
Osefo: Slavery is good history?
Pierson: Where we are today, where we are today, absolutely!
Osefo (still more incredulously): Slavery is good history? Absolutely?
Pierson: During those times, during those times, think about this for a second: Where would we be today if not for that Civil War?
Osefo (still more incredulously): Where would we be without slavery? Are you even serious?
Pierson: Would our children even know how special and wonderful this country even is?

At that point, the exchange became unintelligible with both women talking at the same time.

Since the Trump Administration seems to be having problems in the area of race relations, I will offer them some advice to help prevent further missteps:

  • ·         When someone asks about Nazis, your answer should be, “They are bad. We don’t support them and we don’t want their support.” That is guaranteed to be a slam dunk with no potential for blowback.
  • ·         If someone asks you about the Ku Klux Klan, the same answer will work equally well.
  •        If someone asks about slavery, the answer should be, “It was morally wrong, bad for the country and we are glad it was ended.”
  • ·         Don’t try to justify it.
  • ·     Don’t try to sugarcoat it.
  •       Repeat as necessary.

What of Katrina Pierson’s question about where America would be without slavery and the Civil War? For starters, 620,000 American soldiers, more than all other wars combined until Vietnam, would not have been killed. Without slavery, almost 13 million Africans would not have been ripped from their families and shipped to the New World with about two million dying enroute. Without slavery and the Civil War, the US would not have the enduring racial divide and the animosity between North and South that has lasted 150 years. The South would not have been razed by Federal armies and that destruction would not have impoverished the region for the next 100 years.

If slavery and the Civil War had never happened, America would be even more special and wonderful than it already is. Our children, black and white, would have even more reason to love her and be proud of her.  

Slavery and the Civil War represent one of the darkest aspects of American history and Katrina Pierson’s comments are likely to be one of the dumbest things you will hear this week. It’s only Tuesday though. Who knows what the rest of the week will bring? 

Originally published on The Resurgent

Saturday, August 19, 2017

On Race And Growing Up Southern

The controversy over Confederate statues is something I have thought a lot about. Perhaps unlike many, my experience has allowed my position to change over the years.

I grew up in small town Georgia. I attended an elementary school that was predominantly black. I didn’t realize it at the time, but we were growing up in the shadow of the Jim Crow South. I was in elementary school in the 1970s, less than a decade after the full integration of Georgia public schools.  Lester Maddox (D-Ga.), the avowed segregationist governor, was not even a distant memory.

What’s more, my classmates and I were scarcely a decade and 20 miles away from the murder of Col. Lemuel Penn, a decorated hero of WWII who happened to be black. Penn was murdered by a trio of Ku Klux Klansmen for the crime of driving through Athens, Georgia in 1964. The murderers were acquitted by an all-white jury prompting the FBI to charge the men with civil rights violations under the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

I can only remember two brushes with the Klan. As a high school student, a classmate showed me a Ku Klux Klan ring one day. It was like a class ring, but instead of the school name, it was engraved with the words “Ku Klux Klan.”

In the other instance, I was a college student working part-time at a local pharmacy when Klan members appeared on the town square one day. The Klansmen, dressed in white robes with no hoods, tried to hand out leaflets to anyone who would take them. Even at that point, they were such an anachronism that everyone in the store took turns driving by to gawk at them. No one seemed to be taking leaflets.

The world had changed a lot in a short time. My classmates and I scarcely thought about race. We got along fine as kids generally do. In my youth, we were aware of race, but pushed it to the background. I remember my parents telling me that I should treat everyone with respect, but that the races should not mix sexually.

I would be willing to bet that they have evolved past the intermarriage taboo now. I know I have. I care more about the content of the character of my children’s future spouses than skin color. I would prefer they have an honorable and decent mate who is black, Hispanic or Asian than what is referred to as “white trash” in the South.

My experience taught me that children have to learn hatred. They don’t come to it naturally. A proud moment for me as a father was when my own children failed to even comprehend race as a descriptive characteristic. “Why does anybody care about skin color?” they asked.

For years, I subscribed to the notion that race relations were nothing to be concerned about. No living blacks were slaves and no living whites were slave owners. If that was the case, what was there to argue about?

As I learned about civil rights history and talked to my black friends, my opinion slowly changed.

My family has been in Georgia since the early 1800s. In an undated photo, my ancestors are standing outside their cabin with a black man who is almost certainly their slave.

Several of my ancestors were Confederate soldiers. My great-grandfather was captured at the Battle of Spotsylvania and spent the rest of the war in a (damn)Yankee prison camp in Elmira, N.Y. Today, Elmira is forgotten by history, but it was a brutal place in 1864.

The mortality rate among the prisoners was 25 percent, rivalling the notorious Confederate prison camp at Andersonville, Ga. But Georgia was subject to a federal naval blockade that meant that even Confederate soldiers didn’t have enough to eat. Supplies were plentiful in New York, but overcrowding, disease, inadequate protection from the New York winter and lack of food still killed thousands of prisoners. Many of those who survived were emaciated and unrecognizable when they returned home.  

If I feel bitter about the treatment of my grandfather and his brothers-in-arms, none of which I never met, how much more bitter do blacks feel about slavery and Jim Crow? I can scarcely imagine.

While there are no living slaves today, Jim Crow is a recent memory. Older blacks experienced it personally. Younger blacks have heard first-hand accounts of whites-only water fountains and lunch counters, of the Freedom Riders, of lynchings, of the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham in which Klansmen killed four little girls, of the murders of Medgar Evers, Lemuel Penn, Martin Luther King and more.

While slavery and Jim Crow are distant history in my experience, they aren’t so far in the past for my black friends. Even black conservatives like Tim Scott (R-S.C.) have stories of prejudice and “driving while black” to tell. Racism is in retreat, Charlottesville notwithstanding, but it isn’t dead and never will be. Vestiges of racism will probably be around forever.

The world is full of longstanding ethnic problems. There is the black-white divide in America. We also have tension between Native Americans and European newcomers. In Texas, there are still hard feelings on both sides over the Alamo, Goliad, San Jacinto and the border clashes that occurred after Texas independence. In other countries, there are ethnic conflicts that have lasted for centuries between Jews and Arabs, Armenians and Turks, ethnic Russians and their subjugated countries, the Japanese, Chinese and Koreans…. The list goes on and on.

In most cases, people have dealt with these conflicts by dredging up old hurts and killing people because of it. Then the children of these victims take vengeance on the next generation of the other group in an endless cycle.

One way to avoid this vicious cycle is to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Would most whites hold a grudge if their parents and grandparents had been treated as second-class citizens and had to fear for their lives if they acted as normal human beings, as Emmett Till did? You bet they would.

Would blacks and non-Southerners feel protective about Confederate memorials if their ancestors had fought and died under the Confederate banner?  Many Confederates who did not own slaves simply fought to protect their homes from the federal invaders. Sherman burned everything in his path on his march to the sea and Union soldiers committed numerous atrocities on Southerners. In 1864, for example, Union forces forcibly deported 400 civilian women from Roswell, Ga. to the North. Most of these women never returned home.

The point is that both sides have legitimate grievances. If we persist in fighting over the status of biggest victim and inflicting revenge on the other side, then the dispute will continue to fester and grow.

The ultimate answer is forgiveness. The Bible that most of us, black and white, purport to believe teaches that forgiveness heals the victim as well as the perpetrator. The Bible also teaches that race is unimportant, that we are all equal – and equally sinful – at the foot of the cross.

As to Confederate statues, I prefer to keep them, but I understand the point of view of those who oppose them. To me, the issue of statues is unimportant compared to other issues we face such as the national debt, Islamic terror, and the fundamental decay of American society. To me, the disposition of statues of should be a local issue decided by the people of the community, not outsiders with an axe to grind.

Who was more right and who was more wrong is less important than that we now live together as Americans. That’s why it distresses me when my conservative friends take the bait so easily and quickly find themselves in the moral equivalence game between leftists and neo-Nazis who claim to be working toward the president’s agenda.

Solutions to many of the world’s problems would be possible if more people would attempt to understand the point of view of the opposing side. Before making up your mind on an issue, walk a mile in their shoes. 

Originally published on The Resurgent

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