The NYT Gets Hysterical

For the first time in 95 years, the New York Times has run a front page editorial. The subject? Guns and how we need to get rid of them. And it is a distillation of the moral panic we are having over guns right now.

The attention and anger of Americans should also be directed at the elected leaders whose job is to keep us safe but who place a higher premium on the money and political power of an industry dedicated to profiting from the unfettered spread of ever more powerful firearms.

So many problems squeezed into one paragraph. First, it is not the job of elected leaders to “keep us safe”. Or at least, it’s not their only job. Their jobs is also to “secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity”. It’s also to exercise restraint when the public is hysterical and hence clamorous to be lead to safety by hobgoblins who dance in the blood of the slain. We responded hysterically to World War I with the Espionage and Sedition Acts (without a front page editorial from the NYT). We responded to Pearl Harbor with a hysterical internment (without a front page editorial from the NYT). We responded to 9/11 with a hysterical Patriot Act (without a front page editorial from the NYT). Must we respond hysterically now?

And the idea that politicians oppose gun control because of money and power from the firearms industry is disgusting. According to the NYT and their allies, gun control opponents are perfectly willing to countenance the slaughter of thousands if it means a few thousand dollars in their campaign war chest. And what about the tens of millions of Americans who oppose gun control? What about the conservative and libertarian writers who oppose gun control? And frankly, what about the NRA, which has millions of members and a higher approval rating than Hillary Clinton? Where’s our bribes?

As I said the other day:

Saying that your opponents are fine with killing is the reaction of an insane person, not “the paper of record”.

I’m tired of hearing this crap that the only reason we don’t get gun control is because of NRA bribes. It’s possible to oppose gun control on principal or because it is not popular with the American public or your particular constituency. Bernie Sanders, to his credit, tried to make this point in the Democratic debate. It basically ended his candidacy.

Today’s liberalism shares a heritage with yesterday’s communism. One of the principle things it has inherited is the belief that their ideas are intrinsically scientifically right and that if anyone opposes them, it is because they have been deluded by a shadowy conspiracy of counter-revolutionaries. For the commies, it was bourgeois. For the liberals, it’s the NRA.

We’re only two paragraphs in and the NYT already needs to get a damned grip.

It is a moral outrage and a national disgrace that civilians can legally purchase weapons designed specifically to kill people with brutal speed and efficiency. These are weapons of war, barely modified and deliberately marketed as tools of macho vigilantism and even insurrection.

Now we get the distraction on assault weapons. Assault weapons are a tiny tiny portion of violence in the country. And “assault weapon” itself is mostly a marketing term used by gun manufacturers. There really is not much of a difference between a handgun and an “assault weapon”. In fact, most assault weapons are of lower caliber and lower power than a revolver or handgun. Even our government admits that the 90’s assault weapons ban — which mainly banned guns that looked scary — had no impact on gun violence.

The assault weapons ban is a touchstone for what the real issue is: a culture war. The gun grabbers don’t like assault weapons. Wanting to ban them is about signaling, not reducing violence.

And what’s the point? Is the point that these terrorists might have killed a few less people if they’d had rifles and handguns? Or restorted to bombs instead? Is that really what we’re talking about here?

After conceding that gun laws may not stop criminals, that the Constitutional challenges are formidable and that terrorists in France obtained weapons without a problem, they say this:

But at least those countries are trying. The United States is not.

You will never find a moral perfect statement of: “We must do something! This is something! Let’s do it!”

Certain kinds of weapons, like the slightly modified combat rifles used in California, and certain kinds of ammunition, must be outlawed for civilian ownership. It is possible to define those guns in a clear and effective way and, yes, it would require Americans who own those kinds of weapons to give them up for the good of their fellow citizens.

The “clear and effective way” last time was to go through a catalog and pick out weapons that looked scary. And note that last part: gun confiscation. Hanging out there all pink and naked.

I’ll close with a few bullet points that the NYT did not mention:

  • Gun violence is down. Way down. 50% off its 1993 peak. And if you’re not in an inner city war zone, violence is at level similar to countries that have way stricter gun control. Violence has fallen even faster than it did in Australia after they passed their restrictive gun laws in the wake of Port Arthur. During this dramatic drop in crime, millions of carry permits have been issued and about a hundred million guns purchased.
  • The problem of gun violence is primarily in inner cities, not among rural and suburban gun collectors. This is why assault weapons are such a tiny part of overall gun violence.
  • The contention that more guns equals more violence is only true if you cherry-pick. The contention that Connecticut’s gun laws massively reduced gun violence is only true if you cherry pick. The contention that mass shootings are way up is only true if you cherry pick. The contention that there have been 350 mass shootings this year is only true if you muddy the definition of mass shooting beyond all recognition. Both the CDC and the NRC conceded, in their studies, that the case that gun control will reduce violence is weak, at beast.
  • Given that, the contention that our politicians could unquestionably stop this violence by passing a law is ridiculous. I’m sorry. This is a matter of debate. This is a matter of disagreement. This is not a matter of just pressing the gun control button and having a less violent society emerge.
  • By phrasing it the way they do — as if it were not even debatable than gun control would massively reduce violence — the gun grabbers unwittingly reveal what this: a religion. They believe that gun control will work because they believe government can do anything if it just decides to. And the millions of Americans who oppose gun control are thus heretics.
  • The tale of gun violence is not told in mass shootings. It’s told in the every day violence in our inner cities and the suicides of many fellow Americans. But addressing that is much more complicated. It probably means ending the War on Drugs. It means addressing the cultural decay and the devaluation of human life. It means fixing our broken education, law enforcement and economic systems. Much easier to grab someone’s AK-47 and call it a day, I guess.
  • Did we mention that these were terrorists? Of all the incidents to pick to lose their minds over, the NYT picked this one.

Oh well. Sorry about the rant, but the NYT has basically distilled the hysteria of the last few days and I needed to vent and put all the responses in one place. I hate having to do this every time some maniac decides to kill. You can read a cooler reactions from Jonah Goldberg or Reason or check out the Twitter feed of the indispensable Charles Cooke for more. I’m sure Hot Air and others will have a reply up soon.

One closing thought. The NYT’s front page editorial (and the NY Daily News increasingly deranged covers) are a sign of a movement that is angry because they are not convincing anyone. Every time a tragedy happens, they leap to the microphones, computers and desks to say that now is the time to enact “sensible” gun control and the American public … ignores them.

So is the final straw? Is this the moment when American will “turn their back on gun violence” and repudiate the NRA and finally enact the gun control the liberals wants?

Well, the last time the NYT ran a front page editorial was to lament that nomination of Warren Harding for President.

He won the election by one of the biggest popular vote margins in American history.

No Free Speech For You

As sure as the sun sets in the West, no tragedy can ever pass without the left knee jerking, and more times than not this knee jerking involves limiting or regulating your Constitutional right to free speech.

In the other recent post we had our resident leftest declare that no person of power or influence (whatever the hell that means) can ever report, discuss or opine anything unless it is done in a responsible manner (whatever the hell that means) because these words/opinions just might catalyst some nutjob into horrible acts of violence. What is left out of these ridiculous goofy pulled out of ass declaratives is who determines/defines all these subjective elements, and who decides what punishment is meted out once the elements (however weak or thinly proven) are met. Do we jail these free speakers, fine them, or just pillory them in the public square?

Proving that idiocy is not just reserved for the blogosphere, our current AG has decided to double down on the hysteria;

The day after a horrific shooting spree by a “radicalized” Muslim man and his partner in San Bernardino, California, Attorney General Loretta Lynch pledged to a group of Muslim activists that she would take aggressive action against anyone who used “anti-Muslim rhetoric” that “edges toward violence.”

Here we go again. Drawing an ambiguous line between A and Z, without anything in between, she will throw the First Amendment out the window. Of course, we don’t know what “aggressive actions” means (again, jail, fine or pillory, her choice), what “anti Muslim rhetoric” means (does even identifying jihadist killers as jihadists qualify?) and what on earth does “edges towards violence” even mean? When Trump says he saw Muslims celebrating on rooftops after 9-11, can this observation spur some unstable person to violence against Muslims, and should Trump then be prosecuted for this participation/instigation in the violent act?

Speaking to the audience at the Muslim Advocate’s 10th anniversary dinner Thursday, Lynch said her “greatest fear” is the “incredibly disturbing rise of anti-Muslim rhetoric” in America and vowed to prosecute any guilty of what she deemed violence-inspiring speech

That is her greatest fear? Gee, mine is another 9-11 style attack on the homeland, and along with that is the fear that PC and this head in the sand administration will tie the hands of those tasked with protecting us to the point where protecting the folks is hindered.

For all the talk that this AG was going to be different from Holder, better than Holder, I just don’t see it. She is an Obama stooge just like Holder, who will protect her boss and his dumb polices to the detriment of her oath as protector of the folks.

I get the intent here, supplicating themselves to the Muslim community is pretty much status quo, but she just crossed the line. The downright refusal to label radical Islam as such, the masquerading of a jihadist attack as workplace violence, these are their shortcomings, blind as they may be, but when they monkey around with my protected Constitutional Rights, there will be push back, count on it.

Someone’s About to Get Audited

An audience members asks Clinton:

“You recently came out to say that all rape victims should be believed? But would you say that about Juanita Broaddrick, Kathleen Willey, and Paula Jones? Should we believe them as well?” the audience member asked.

“Well, I would say that everybody should be believed at first until they are disbelieved based on evidence,” Clinton said, drawing applause.

Click over for the clip and Clinton’s frozen smile. I have to think she was prepared for this question. It’s tough but I think it’s very fair. If Clinton is jumping on the “guilty until proven innocent” bandwagon, that standard would have her husband out of office on a rail.

California This Time

There’s been another mass shooting, this time in California. 14 dead at last count, two of the shooters dead and possibly one at large. It’s very unclear at this point what has happened (not that this has stopped the usual suspects for making political hay out of it). This does seem a bit more organized with multiple shooters in body armor.

I will post updates as events warrant.

They Obviously Don’t Know Who He Is

You got to hand to Obama, rules are for suckers. To make an “awesomeness” souffle you have to break a few eggs, or rules. Here is Obama in Paris at the Climate Summit, treating his host the same way he treats Congress and the American people;

No wonder all the world leaders thinks he is a stooge, who says he is not proud to be an American?

Colorado Again

We’re still learning the details, but some information has emerged on Friday’s shooting at a Planned Parenthood Clinic. It does appear that Planned Parenthood was the target but that no one was killed there because the patients and staff went behind a security door (abortion clinics have developed extensive security procedures since a wave of anti-abortion violence hit in the 90’s). Preliminary reports are that the shooter was talking about baby parts so this does not appear to have been a random attack.

A few little thoughts:

Democrats who are jumping on this to promote gun legislation can go to hell. Colorado has background checks and an assault weapons ban and it’s still not clear what weapons were used. I have lost patience with this business of milking every tragedy for their agenda.

Last week, we got a bunch of think pieces asking why Muslims always have to denounce jihadist violence. We’re already seeing those same outlets demanding that anti-abortion politicians and Christian organizations denounce this act of violence. Of course, many of them, including Mike Huckabee, already have.

Was this terrorism? Well, it wasn’t part of a mass organization to attack abortion clinics. But it is violence directed against innocent people to try to end abortion. So, yeah, I have no problem calling it terrorism.

There has been a recent uptick in attacks on abortion clinics. But, overall, violence directed against clinics and providers is way down from the late 90’s. Keep that in mind.

In keeping with my previous posts, I will not name the shooter. I will, however, name Garret Swasey, the police officer murdered by this lunatic.

Rethinking Wilson

Students at what Amy Alkon aptly describes as “nursery schools with beer” continue to issue demands. Walter Olson compiles the most outrageous ones and John McWhorter, who has some experience with racism, address the broader issue. But one weird thing that’s come up at Princeton is the demand to acknowledge the racist legacy of Woodrow Wilson and remove his name from some buildings.

This may seem odd to some of you. Wilson is frequently rated as one of our greatest Presidents by historians. And just a few years ago, beating up on Wilson was regarded as right wing lunacy by no less than the New York Times. This, despite, as Radley Balko points out, Wilson having an awful awful record on race, civil liberties and executive power:

He dishonestly led us into a pointless, costly, destructive war, and assumed control over huge sectors of the economy to wage it. He seized railroads, food and energy production, and implemented price controls.

He suppressed dissent and imprisoned war critics. Said Wilson, “Conformity will be the only virtue. And every man who refuses to conform will have to pay the penalty.” He signed the Espionage and Sedition Acts, the latter of which made it a criminal offense to “oppose the cause of the United States.” He retaliated against critical newspapers, and directed the U.S. Postal Service to stop delivering mail determined to be critical of the war effort.

Wilson not only continued existing racial segregation of federal government workers, he extended it.

He instituted the first military draft since the Civil War.

He signed the first federal drug prohibition.

He reinstituted the federal income tax.

A few more, from Gene Healy’s book, The Cult of the Presidency:

Wilson believed in an activist, imperialist presidency. In his 1909 book Constitutional Government, he made the case against checks and balances and the separation of powers. The government, Wilson argued, is a living organism, and “no living thing can have its organs offset against each other as checks, and live.”

He ordered unconstitutional, unilateral military interventions into Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico. (He also oversaw military interventions in Panama and Cuba, and instituted American-favored dictators throughout Latin America.)

Wilson believed God ordained him to be president, and acted accordingly, boasting to one friend in 1913 that “I have been smashing precedents almost daily every since I got here.” Every president since Jefferson had given the State of the Union in writing. Wilson reinstituted what Jefferson derided as the “speech from the Throne,” and ordered Congress assembled to hear him speak, giving rise to the embarrassing spectacle the SOTU has become today.

He oversaw a massive domestic spying program, and encouraged American citizens to report one another for subversion.

Healy’s book is very good, incidentally. Wilson is a central figure, with a detailed analysis of his early writings wherein Wilson detailed exactly what he through the President should be and exactly what he tried to make him: a monarch.

And the students are right on thing: Woodrow Wilson was racist, even by the standards of his time. He praised the Klan. He made numerous racist statements. He refused to do anything about lynching. He re-segregated the government, which meant black federal employees got demotions, pay cuts and, in at least one case, were put in literal cages so they wouldn’t interact with white people.

And yet … historians still talk about how great he was because he was progressive and “lead” us through World War I and tried to broker a reasonable peace after the war. That’s all fine and dandy. No President is uniformly awful. But, when you include everything, Wilson was a bad President. A really bad one.

I’ve talked before about the tendency of historians to love Presidents who start wars and crush liberty and look down on Presidents who provide simple competent leadership:

As Boaz notes, the historians favor guys who make for interesting history books. Roosevelt, who turned his back on the plight of European Jews, interred the Japanese, ignored race issues and prolonged the Depression, ranks his usual #1. Teddy Roosevelt, a “progressive” who abused his power, expanded government and slimed the nation of Panama into existence, ranks #2. I have no quibble with some of the others. But ranking the racist, free-speech crushing Woodrow Wilson at #8 is ridiculous. Andrew Jackson was a lunatic who defied the Court to send thousands of Indians to die on the Trail of Tears. But he’s ranked 14th.

The list of Presidents historians regard as great includes the over-rated Harry Truman, the racist Woodrow Wilson, the murderous Andrew Jackson and the “OK, but what did he actually do?” JFK. Meanwhile, Presidents who expanded freedom, kept us out of wars and basically did their jobs are regarded as, at best, mediocre. Cleveland, Clinton, Harding, Coolidge, Bush I … these guys have generally been regarded as “meh” (although Reagan and Clinton have moved up in recent years). I had issues with Clinton and his accomplishments were mainly a result of having a Republican Congress. But ranking him below Wilson and Jackson is ridiculous. Say what you want about Clinton. He wasn’t a genocidal maniac or an unapologetic racist.

Returning to Wilson, let’s contrast him with his successor, Warren Harding, generally rated as one of the worst Presidents of all time. Warren G. Harding cleaned up much of the mess Wilson had left after the end of World War I, presided over an important arms reduction treaty, repaired some of the diplomatic damage Wilson had done in South America, cut taxes, embraced aviation and radio, promoted anti-lynching legislation and racial equality, released Wilson’s political prisoners and made solid SCOTUS appointments. The result was one of the most peaceful and prosperous decades in American history. He also increased tariffs, restricted immigration and had huge problems with corruption, so it wasn’t all roses. But, on balance, that’s a decent record and way better than Wilson or Jackson. He was very popular when he was in office and mourned around the world when he died. But historians literally regard him as the worst President of all time because of the corruption and his infidelities, problems that don’t seem to bother historians when they consider Clinton or Kennedy or Johnson.

In the end, I think historians tend to rate President by how interesting the books about them are. This goes double for any power-hungry President that Doris Kearns Goodwin has written an overlong (and possibly plagiarized) slavering hagiography of. This is one of the reasons I expect historians to start regarding Bush II in a better light one day. Historically, he’s the kind of liberty-crushing incompetent bumbler they like to write books about.

As for the Princeton business … I’m reluctant to whitewash history. However awful a President Wilson was, he was still a President and still played a huge role in making Princeton a premier institution. I’m fine with acknowledging his awful racist legacy. I’m less fine with pretending he never existed.

Turkeys and Drumsticks 2015

For eight years running, I have taken advantage of the Thanksgiving Holiday to give out my awards for Turkey of the Year and Golden Drumsticks. The latter are for those who exemplify the best traits in our public sphere. The former are for those who exemplify silliness and stupidity. I rarely give them out to someone who is evil; they are reserved for those who regularly make me shake my head and wonder what they’re thinking. It’s a sort of “thank you” for making blogging easier.

We’ll start with the Turkeys of the Year. For reference, the past winners are:

2007: Alberto Gonzalez, Nancy Pelosi, Hugo Chavez

2008: Sarah Palin, Sarah Palin’s critics, Hillary Clinton, Congress, Joe Biden

2009: Mike Steele, Glen Beck, the State Department, Sarah Palin, Andrew Sullivan.

2010: Janet Napolitano and TSA, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, MSNBC, Lower Merion Schools, California Voters.

2011: Nancy Pelosi, Republican Presidential Field, Occupy Wall Street, Anthony Weiner, the Eurozone.

2012: The Culture Warriors, Unions, The Poll Unskewers, Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, MSNBC

2013: Healthcare.gov, the Platinum Coin, the Shutdown Caucus, the National Park Service, Fiscal Cliff Panic Mongers.

2014: Jonathan Gruber, Lamenting Democrats, Barack Obama, Jim Ardis, Paul Krugman

For This Year:

The Presidential Field: Here are your candidates for 2016:

On the Democratic side, a 68-year old political insider with a 30-year track record of deception, vindictiveness and blame evasion, running on her record of having unleashed chaos in Iraq, Syria and Libya. Then there’s the 74-year-old socialist, rejected because his views on gun control are insufficiently pure. Then there’s the “young” guy running on his horrible track record as mayor of a failed city and governor of a failed state. And, because things weren’t surreal enough, there was the former senator who looked like he’d gotten baked on his yacht and accidentally wandered into a Presidential debate.

On the Republican side, you have the reality TV show star with narcissistic personality disorder who has an iffy relationship with the truth and seems determined to insult every demographic he can. You have the brilliant brain surgeon who is clueless on policy and has crackpot ideas about history. You have the asshole Texas senator. You have the President of a nearly collapsed company running on her record as a businesswoman. You have the worst Bush yet, somehow managing to piss away the complete support of the establishment. And then you have a bunch of little guys vying to get 3% support so they can stay in the big debate.

Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, Coolidge, Reagan, Bush I … and one of these guys. Ay, caramba.

So far, the only ones who impressed me are Webb and Rubio (see below). One is out and the other is still in fourth place.

College Students: Have you guys seen Life of Brian? In that movie, the anti-Roman guerrillas spend way more time fighting each other than fighting the Romans. This was modeled on 1970’s left-wing radical who hated the government but hated each other more for “splitting” the movement and being insufficiently ideologically pure. This process is happening with political correctness as they slowly turn on each other.

Think of what we’ve been seeing. Who are college students forcing out of positions of power? Who are they screaming at in public squares? Who are they banning from bringing cameras into their “safe spaces”? This ire is directed against people who agree with them on 95% of the issues. Occasionally, there are real issues. But all too much of the anger is because lectures on European history are too European, because there aren’t enough tenured professors of women’s studies, because someone suggested, maybe, that it wasn’t the university’s job to tell grown men and women what Halloween costumes to wear.

Previous generations of college students protested against wars, against vicious racism and against in loco parentis. This generation is protesting against offenses so trivial they are literally called “microgggressions”.

The Election Media: It’s a little under a year until the election and I’m already exhausted. They’ve pronounced Trump dead at least eight times. They’re bending over backward to not criticize Clinton. And they’re doing nothing to illuminate the issues with their focus on the horse race.

Rolling Stone: Last year, they published a horrifying tale of a campus rape that turned out to be a fiction. The blame laid squarely on them. They didn’t bother to call the fraternity in question. They didn’t bother to talk to the supposed victim’s friends. They didn’t bother to read the rather famous (in Charlottesville) book about a rape that the victim took her story from. That’s horrible. What moves them into mockery land is their refusal to take responsibility. No one was fired. They blamed it on the victim for being a good liar. And now they’re being sued for millions.

(And it would seem the lesson has not been learned. The Hunting Ground, a new and much-praised, documentary about campus rape, has an equally problematic relationship with the truth.)

Barack Obama: He pronounced ISIS contained days before they attacked Paris. His Obamacare is seeing double-digit rate increases and companies leaving because they’re hemorrhaging money. His Iran deal is … dubious. The Democratic nominees are trying to pretend that Republicans have secretly been President for the last eight years. His attempts to gin up support for Syrian refugees infuriated half the country.

Maybe he needs to appear between two ferns again.

Dishonorable Mention: Kim Davis, Jeremy Corbyn, Vox, Everytown USA, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Vox, Bill deBlasio, the NFL, the anti-vaxxers, Sepp Blatter, Greece, Volkswagen, Putin.

Now the Golden Drumsticks, awarded to those who best exemplified what is right with the world. Here are the past awards, the first round from West Virginia Rebel.

2007: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ron Paul, Barack Obama, David Petraeus, Juan Carlos, Burma’s monks

2008: US Military, Jeff Flake, Ron Paul, Republican Governors, Barack Obama

2009: The American Fighting Man, Kimberly Munley and Mark Todd, George W. Bush

2010: The Tea Party, Chris Christie, Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, the Next Wave of Republicans, David Cameron and Nick Clegg, The American Soldiers

2011: Seal Team Six, Mark Kelly, The Arab Spring, the Technicians at Fukushima

2012: Down Ballots, The Sandy Responders, Glen Doherty and Tyrone Woods, Mathew Inman

2013: Francis I, Edward Snowden, Rand Paul, The American Military, The Institute for Justice

2014: Ebola Responders, Francis I, Rand Paul, David Brat, The Supreme Court

For 2015:

New Horizons and Dawn: It was another banner year for science, headlined by New Horizons stunning visit to Pluto and Dawn‘s visit to Ceres. The Philae lander also revived and began providing more data from a sublimating comet. In other science news, rubella has been rendered extinct in North America and polio is on the run.

Spencer Stone, Alek Skarlatos, Anthony Sadler: These are the three men who stopped a would-be terrorist on a French train. Stone came home … where he got stabbed protecting a friend. As Charles Cooke said, we’re a few news cycles away from finding out this guy is Batman.

Amnesty International: In the face of withering criticism and a rising intense moral panic about sex trafficking, they did the right thing: called for the complete decriminalization of sex work for both providers and clients.

Video and Body Cameras: There are legitimate civil liberties concerns when it comes to cops always carrying cameras on them, especially with our culture’s tendency to exploit and shame people doing things on tape. But they are making a huge difference. They not only show when cops do bad things (such as recent horrific shootings in Chicago and Marksville), they exonerate cops who’ve been falsely accused of brutality or sexual harassment. For cities that have implemented them, complaints about police brutality and abuse are way down, both because cops are acting better and because people find it harder to make false claims. There are still issue to work out about when and how footage becomes public. But I think this is a big help on the way to criminal justice reform.

The Non-Crazy Presidential Candidates: Marco Rubio may not get the nomination and Rand Paul definitely won’t. But they’ve injected some much-needed sanity and real debate into the Republican primary. Jim Webb gets a shout-out here too for trying (and failing) to find a moderate stream of Democrat.

Honorable Mention: USA women’s soccer team, the American military, France, Francis I.

Put your nominees in the comments. And have a great Thanksgiving.

Thankful Vittles

Over the years I have written many Thanksgiving posts, with two primary themes. The first being how the Pilgrims, initially believing that communism, a pooling of resources and labor, would best fit their needs. On the brink of starvation and ruination, they changed course and tried a little free market capitalism;

The most able and fit young men in Plymouth thought it an “injustice” that they were paid the same as those “not able to do a quarter the other could.” Women, meanwhile, viewed the communal chores they were required to perform for others as a form of “slavery.”

On the brink of extermination, the Colony’s leaders changed course and allotted a parcel of land to each settler, hoping the private ownership of farmland would encourage self-sufficiency and lead to the cultivation of more corn and other foodstuffs.

As Adam Smith would have predicted, this new system worked famously. “This had very good success,” Bradford reported, “for it made all hands very industrious.” In fact, “much more corn was planted than otherwise would have been” and productivity increased. “Women,” for example, “went willingly into the field, and took their little ones with them to set corn.”

And so it began.

The other theme had to do with George Washington’s Thanksgiving Proclamation, this symbiotic existence of religion and politics separates us as a nation and one of the things I believe make us great;

In setting aside a day for Thanksgiving, Washington established a non-sectarian tone for these devotions and stressed political, moral, and intellectual blessings that make self-government possible, in addition to personal and national repentance. Although the First Amendment prevents Congress from establishing a religion or prohibiting its free exercise, Presidents, as well as Congress, have always recognized the American regard for sacred practices and beliefs. Thus, throughout American history, Presidents have offered non-sectarian prayers for the victory of the military and in the wake of catastrophes. Transcending passionate quarrels over the proper role of religion in politics, the Thanksgiving Proclamation reminds us how natural their relationship has been. While church and state are separate, religion and politics, in their American refinement, prop each other up.

Today, although just as thankful for my good health, wealth, and prosperity, I want to focus on food and what’s on your dinner table.

If your family is like mine, certain foods are reserved for Thanksgiving that we don’t eat at other times, making them traditional. For the last 10 years or so I BBQ my turkey in a Weber. If the entire bird is covered in mayo, to sear the outside keeping in all the juices, it is just as juicy and tasty as the deep fried birds, another good way to cook it. I used to experiment with different smokes (fruit woods, hickory, pecan, even birch) I have found that the smokey taste of contained heat works just fine. I make a sausage stuffing, with an apple/hazelnut a close second. My wife makes a shredded potato dish with cheddar/chives/sour cream and a fruit salad straight out of hand written recipe book from my mom, stuff I have never seen anywhere, you should taste her Christmas cookies. And pies (pecan and mince meat) from a local bakery that has been around for about a hundred years. My uncle was raised in the same town as the Duck Dynasty family, his mom created her own recipe for Louisiana pecan pie, I was hooked and never looked back.

So that’s my Thanksgiving, you got anything to stand up to that?

The Donald’s Imagination

The longer this goes on, the more I think that Donald Trump’s candidacy is designed specifically to wreck the Republican Party and get Hillary elected. Either that, or this is a big publicity game to him. Either way, I’m rapidly losing patience with it.

This week, fresh off saying that we should be surveilling mosques and maintaining a database on Muslims, Donald Trump made the assertion — one he has since repeated — that thousands of American Muslims in New Jersey celebrated the fall of the Twin Towers.

First things first. This claim is totally false. The Trumpeteers have fixated on a paragraph from an old WaPo story that described the FBI investigating reports of people celebrating 9/11. But nothing came of that and there certainly weren’t thousands of people dancing in the streets. And it certainly wasn’t on television. You can read Kessler’s long article where he responds to various conspiracy theorists and Trumpeteers claiming that no, this totally happened. But it didn’t. Had Americans been celebrating 9/11, it would have been front page news, not buried in some obscure MTV broadcast or the 15th paragraph of a WaPo story or whispered by someone who knows someone who saw it. The objections are rapidly settling into “no Jews were in the Twin Towers” territory.

But … that’s really beside the point. The point of Trump’s statement is not whether American Muslims celebrated 9/11 or not. The point is that Trump, since the Paris attacks, has been blowing a dog whistle.

Let’s take a step back…

In the 1960 Presidential race, John F. Kennedy was only the second Catholic to ever run for President and the first to be elected. During the campaign and after his election, there were people who openly said that being Catholic meant his loyalty was to the Vatican, not to the United States (this for a man who fought in World War II and acted with genuine valor when his torpedo boat was sunk). Numerous religious organizations opposed Kennedy for this reason and it probably cost him hundreds of thousands of votes. Nixon, to his credit, decided to leave the religious issue alone. But it was garbage. Catholics have long proven to be just as loyal to the United States as anyone else.

As a Jew, I grew up having my loyalty to the United States questioned. Jews, I was told, were loyal to Israel not the United States. People told me this to my face. People said this about my family (which included my father, an Air Force Colonel who stayed in the reserves until they tore the uniform off his back). This clamor grew loudest when the traitor Jonathan Pollard was caught. But it was still garbage.

Similar but less intense bigotry surfaced in 2008 when Mitt Romney looked like he might become the first Mormon presidential candidate. His loyalty wasn’t questioned, but people openly mocked his religion and questioned his sanity regarding the so-called “magic underwear”. Thankfully, by 2012, this has calmed down. But there were decades when Mormons were seen as “the other”, a crazy cult that would do God-knows-what if they ever got power.

Donald Trump is simply continuing this long and disgraceful legacy of questioning the loyalty of a religious minority. This isn’t about facts; it’s about saying, over and over again, that Muslims are fundamentally disloyal to the United States and can’t be trusted. In doing so, he is wading directly into racially charged waters and appealing to a very ugly element of our society. This manifested over the weekend when he retweeted bogus and racist crime stats sent to him by an admitted neoNazi.

It was not American Muslims who attacked us on 9/11 (in fact, a few dozen Muslims died when the towers fell). It was not an American Muslim who tried to detonate a bomb in his shoe or in his underwear. It was an American Muslims who definitively proved that Al-Qaeda has caused 9/11. And we have seen thousands of Muslims serve our country with honor and many die fighting the War on Terror.

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Now, it was an American Muslim who murdered 13 people at Fort Hood. It was an American Muslims who tried to bomb Times Square (and it was also one who alerted the police to the danger). There’s certainly a case to be made for keeping an eye on radicals. But over the past 25 years, we have lost way more people to crazed “right wing” terrorists (Oklahoma City) or white supremacists (Charleston) or our own damned government (Waco) than we have to American Muslims.

As I noted in a previous post, George W. Bush was very careful, after 9/11, to walk the line of denouncing extremism while not casting aspersions upon American Muslims. It was walking that narrow line that allowed him to be as effective as he was in destroying radical terrorists. It’s a pity to see the Republican front-runner abandon this. Because, in the end, it’s not only bad for the War on Terror, it’s bad for the Republican Party. People won’t forget that, at a tense time, Donald Trump was perfectly willing to play to bigotry and prejudice.

But … if his goal is to pave the way for Clinton, it suddenly all makes sense, doesn’t it?