Category: Constitutional Rights


Can’t go very far today on social media and not find a reference to, or a conversation about “Civil War 2”.

In fact, a repeat of the Civil War has been the topic du jour for the last couple of weeks.  I have given the potential of one a lot of thought, only because I find the idea very disturbing.  It’s not easy to comment on, or write about.  I have been a student of military history for most of the last 30 years.  I have read many books on World War I, World War II, the Korean War, and going back to the Franco-Prussian War of 1870, and even before that, the Austro-Prussian conflicts of the 1860’s.  I am not an expert. I don’t consider myself one. I am, however, well read on the subject, and I do know what I am talking about.  I understand diplomacy, power politics, and influence.  I also understand how wars come about, and I also understand how they can be stopped.

So, back to the subject at hand.  The reason many people are talking, Tweeting, writing, and Facebook-posting about the possibility of a second Civil War, is because this country, at this point, is as about as divided as it was back prior to the first Civil War.  The political divide in this country right now, appears to be deep and wide.  Well, it is if you are on social media.  It seems that the most intense arguments about it are on Twitter, or Facebook, or Gab.ai.

The most common arguments I see regarding the Civil War, and the potential winners and losers, comes from many a right-wing person, based on the assumptions that because the Left is so anti-gun, that, they would have no idea how to operate a firearm, and the good patriots on the Right would be able to defeat the Left without working up a sweat.  Then there is the Left, where they assume everyone on the right is a simpleton, and incapable of having enough brain power to figure out how to fight.  Granted, those are broad, general statements, but they are true in that broad, general sense.

I will get back to the above premise in a bit, but first a discussion of the possible catalyst that would start this war.   First of all, lets look at the last decade or so.  We spent eight years under an administration that, at best, was questionable in it’s respect for America, and it’s people.  We were “bitter clingers” or, as coined by possibly the most unlikable presidential candidate in history, “a bunch of deplorables.”  We spent eight years being lectured to, told our values were silly, and stupid, that we had no idea about anything, and that we were racist, misogynistic, homophobic, transphobic, xenophobic, and on and on.  Middle class, blue collar, white America was bad. In fact, we were so bad, as to be beyond redemption.  It was this kind of attitude many Americans, me included, were tired of hearing. Donald Trump, as we all know, was elected simply because everyone was just sick and tired of the condescension from the people on the Left who considered themselves our moral, and ethical betters. (full disclosure, I am not a Trump fan, nor did I vote for him)   So far, it is Trump, or rather, the Left’s reaction to Trump being elected that is driving most of the Left’s fits at the moment, and many of them cannot see their way past it.  Right now, their hopes are on a “blue wave” in November taking Congress from the GOP, and “fixing everything that is wrong” including impeaching Trump.  Would that be the event that starts the conflict?  The thing is, on some levels, the conflict has started, and has been for a number of years now, it’s just a matter of if and when the first shots will be fired. Right now, it is a war of words, and is being fought on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media outlets.  Many folks are content to lob insults at one another, spread “fake news” and generally be disagreeable.  Right now, the discussion is all hypothetical, and I hope it stays that way.

What would that conflict look like?  Who would be on what side, and how would the sides (there would be multiple sides in this, trust me) organize, and along what lines?  First of all, lets make one thing clear:  The Left would have the advantage in the early part of the conflict, simply because they are organized.  Very organized.  It’s undeniable, and if you dismiss that organizational ability, you do so at your own peril.  The Left, at the very least, would be able to pull together an organized front initially.  In fact, many Lefties on Twitter, and Facebook, are certain that they would be victors without firing a shot, simply because their ability to organize and bring many resources to bear on a given issue, or event, or place, would discourage the Right, and bring even more people to the Left’s cause.   On some level, that may be true.  However, the one thing the Left does, is they believe in their own intrinsic superiority, both moral, and intellectual, and they believe the Right is incapable of having even the basic knowledge needed to fight back.  A large majority of the Left is college educated, and from that is where they draw the assumption that they know better.  What they continually underestimate is the fact that people on the Right are also capable of organizing.  Also, there are many people on the Right who are more than capable of bringing together large numbers of people to a cause.  The Right does not organize like the Left does, they never have.  The only part of the Right that does have any organization, and can put large numbers of people “in the streets” are the Pro Life groups.  Look at the “March for Life”. It brings upwards of several hundred thousand people to Washington to march in support of ending abortion.  Additionally, there are other marches in other cities across the country, each one organized locally, by other anti-abortion groups, that are part of the national movement.   The Right, while at a disadvantage initially, would be able to ramp up an organization in a fairly short amount of time.

I have been reading quite a few articles, and tweets, and FB posts about the potential for such a conflict, and the one thing that strikes me is the dismissive attitude both sides display toward their would-be opponents.   The Left assumes the Right is a bunch of uneducated rubes, incapable of organization, and they can defeat the Right at their leisure.  Conversely the Right believes the Left is a bunch of “soy boys” that are too afraid to pick up a gun, and if they did, they wouldn’t know what to do with it.  The Right also assumes that because many veterans tend to lean to the Right of the spectrum, that they have a distinct advantage as far as tactical, and strategic knowledge, and therefore would be able to defeat the Left at their leisure.  Furthermore, the Right also believes that if armed conflict were in the offing,  many on the left would run scared, unable, or unwilling to stand up and fight.  It’s dangerous to make those assumptions, about either side.  In general, when it comes to war, there is an old axiom: “No battle plan ever survives first contact with the enemy”.  That means, that any plans, assumptions, ideas, or knowledge of your enemy’s intentions, as well as any strategies for taking on the enemy go out the window, and need to be revised as soon as the fighting starts.  Both the “Right” and the “Left” are going to be surprised at what their opposite numbers bring to to the battlefield, as it were.

So, lets now look at the premise that many on the Right think fighting the Left would be easy, because so many are afraid of guns, very few of them have military experience, and, they would be less than willing to engage in a pitched battle of any kind.

First of all, on the subject of guns, shooting, and learning how to shoot:  Learning how to shoot a gun, in all honesty, is not hard.  My oldest son, a six year Army veteran, and combat veteran as well, could take any group of people who know nothing about weapons, and teach them the basics in one morning.  By afternoon, he could have them shooting.  Within a week, they would be shooting well enough to hit their target at least 50% of the time. Within two weeks, it would be 75% of the time, and 50% of the hits in the “X” ring on the target.  To be honest, in combat, that could be good enough.  Shooting is like anything else, the more one does it, the better one becomes.  Anyone on the Left who is skittish about guns, could have those reservations overcome within an hour.  The same with anyone on the Right as well.  The operation of many semi-automatic rifles is pretty simple from the standpoint of the user.  Load the magazine.  Insert it in the weapon. Pull the charging handle to chamber a round.  Take off the safety.  Aim.  Squeeze the trigger. “BANG!”  In an afternoon’s time, most anyone unfamiliar with a rifle, would be familiar enough to operate one without guidance.    Let’s also remember that ANTIFA, for the moment is aligned with the Left.  The Left, in addition to being supremely organized, also has their “militia” if you will, in the form of ANTIFA.  ANTIFA is the left’s street brawlers.  ANTIFA is the core, they are the “true believers”, and it would not be a big transition to go from pipes and baseball bats, to AR-15’s and AK-47’s.  They would be the first to fight, and they would fight with zeal.  If all of ANTIFA, however many members they have, were to be turned loose, they would be a force to be reckoned with. Many of the members are hard liners, and committed communists.  If the country ever got closer to a conflict igniting, ANTIFA would require little in the way of provocation.  The Right has no such organization.  One may be inclined to include neo-Nazi groups as “Right-Wing” but, those groups are so small, and would actually, in my opinion would serve their own goals in such a conflict.  The same could probably be said for ANTIFA, but at the outset, the would be aligned as much as they could with the rest of the Left.

The US Military.  How would they figure in this conflict?   I would leave that to people out there who have served, and know their fellow servicemen and women.  However, in a general sense, and based on what I have witnessed while visiting my son at various Army bases (Ft Hood, Ft Sill, Ft Benning, etc)  and heard from my son, as well as friends and other acquaintances who have served, the military would most likely stand with the American people.   For the most part, military personnel tend to lean right, they all come from different backgrounds, and there is no guarantee that all military members would align with the right.  There are many people in uniform, and veterans, that align to the left.  It’s a given.  Remember Spencer Rapone, the West Point cadet, who had “Communism will win” written inside his hat, and he displayed that for a photo which quickly went viral?   Right there, that is proof that not all members of the military have the country’s best interests in mind.  That leads us to the veterans.  Again, same thing.  I know one veteran, a former Marine, who is a hard-core leftist.  He spent 8 years in the Corps, leaving in the mid 1990’s.  If there is one, there are many more like him.  I still think, however, that many vets would align with the side that wants to preserve this country as it has been, vs the side that would wish to transform it to something else.  Many of the vets that I have met over the years (I met quite a few, actually) have always been supporters of America, the Constitution, and the people.  To a large number of them, the oath to “Defend the Constitution” is sacred, and is something they committed themselves to, even after hanging up the uniform.

Let’s also be real here for a bit.  Much of the clamoring, writing, and speaking about the possibility of a Civil War, leaves out the reality of what such a conflict would bring.  For starters, any kind of conflict that starts, is likely to spread unless the military is called out to put down the insurrection, and put it down quickly.  Once the violence spreads, it would be difficult to contain, especially if it is over something that has inflamed the passions of both sides.  We can count on a few things:  Food shortages would be almost immediate.  The inner cities would be the first to run out, followed by outlying areas.  The rural areas where the food is grown, would be set upon by mobs of city dwellers looking to feed themselves, and their families.  Street fights, and fighting in urban areas would be intense. Many people would be killed, simply trying to escape.  As the conflict spread, there would be widespread damage to infrastructure. Initially it would be the buildings in the neighborhoods, and as the fighting became more organized, and the sides began to align, damage to infrastructure such as roads, railroads, bridges, power and water distribution, oil and gas facilities would increase as each side sought to deny the use of such facilities to the other.  Additionally farms would be destroyed, crops burned, livestock killed in order to prevent the other side from having an adequate food supply.  The destruction of farms would resort in massive food shortages almost immediately,  and a famine in very short order. In short, if the conflict were to last more than a year, tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands of people would be dead. Hundreds of thousands more would be injured. Millions would be displaced.  The numbers would only increase as the fighting went on.  The continued fighting, would only draw more and more “ordinary” people in to the conflict as a means of providing for themselves and whatever is left of their families.  In order to survive, many Americans would align themselves with which ever side offered them the best chance of surviving without having to fight.  Its a normal human instinct to seek out shelter, and sustenance in times of trial.  Many people fight for it, others acquiesce to whatever power is in charge in order to survive another day.

At the outset the fighting, once started, would be contained, if you will, to the groups of “true believers” on both sides.  Many average Americans would do their best to avoid conflict, for the simple reason that many of us are not willing to pick up arms against our neighbors.  I could not see myself holding my neighbor and her husband at gunpoint.  This is a lady, despite her politics, bakes my family Christmas cookies every year, and is one of the nicest people I know.  I couldn’t see myself facing down the gentlemen who own the auto repair shop behind me, or opening fire on them.  Could I really shoot Mr. Carson down the street?  Would  Bob and John and their wives be combat ready if I were to call on them to join me in attacking our neighborhood enemies?  What about Leon and his kids? Would they launch pre-emptive attack against the rest of the neighborhood?   I can’t comprehend a battle between people, that despite some differences, are actually friends.  These are people that share back porch cookouts, walk their dogs  together, and cheer on their kids on the local high school sports teams.  This is where the ultimate price would be paid.  Those who push the prospects of another civil war, are those who are ignorant of it’s costs, and assume it would be an easy victory.  Whatever victory there would be, it would at best be Pyrrhic, and far from “easy”

That leads to another consideration.  IF American were to plunge into all out Civil War, the international community would hardly stand by and watch.  By that I mean there are several countries, China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea to name a few,  that would actively do what they could to continue to sow chaos, ramp up the fighting, and even support the Left with weapons and materiel.  Any one of the above mentioned would cheer at the prospect of a divided America, fighting itself, and leaving itself open to eventual conquest, or, at the very least, destroyed so much, that it becomes the worlds largest 3rd world country.  The price to be paid, should such a thing happen, is unfathomable.  This is where I have my issues with those who talk so openly, and casually about a “2nd Civil War”.  Of all I have read, no one has given any consideration to what would happen once the international vultures started circling the American corpse.   It would be inevitable that our enemies would love nothing more to carve up what is left of this country, and erase American influence and culture from the world.  The Chinese would most likely be the first to arrive, only because they have the most capabilities in that regard.  Moving troops by air, or by sea, is something they have the logistics for. China’s influence would either take the form of support for the left leaning forces, or as an outright belligerent.  Taking over and subjugating the American continent, would allow China to dominate the world. Europe, pretty much prostrate already, wouldn’t have much to say in the matter.  What about Iran?  Iran would, and if you don’t believe it, you are foolish, use it’s Hezbollah-linked mosques and other groups to carve out it’s own sphere of influence, perhaps even mobilize, and import jihadists to join the fight in an effort to defeat both sides, and spread Islamic dominance to the Western Hemisphere.

Speaking of the Western Hemisphere, an American Civil War would have lasting, and powerful economic impacts on the rest of North and South America.  What would Canada do?  Close its borders to refugees?  Americans wishing to avoid the violence and conflict would be streaming both north and south to get away.  Imagine a war in a country of 340 million people, and the sheer number of refugees that it would produce.  It would overwhelm both Mexico and Canada, and their respective Immigration ministries. Both countries would have to close their borders with the US within a few months of start of hostilities because of the sheer number of people trying to get to safety.

Yes, this is a doomsday scenario, but, a renewed Civil War could not be anything but that.  It wouldn’t happen in a vacuum.  It wouldn’t be a lark, or something that would be settled in a couple of weeks.  The first Civil War lasted four years, and consumed vast amounts of treasure, as well as millions of lives.  In today’s USA, it would be even worse, because of the much larger population, and it’s diversity, as well as the changes in the world in the 150+ years since the first one began.  In 1861, China was far from a world power, Russia was  a European Power of sorts at the time,  and Iran was known as Persia, and was a monarchy.  In the last 150 years, China is the most populous nation in the world with the largest military.  Russia is resurgent, and flexing muscle worldwide.  North Korea is a hermit kingdom, but, if given the chance, would love to have some influence, and Iran is the regional power player in the Middle East, and is more powerful than it ever has been, and is looking to expand it’s influence.   These are the countries that would not only benefit from an America in chaos, but would also be the ones most likely to take a piece of the continent for themselves.

So, how about this.  Let’s stop pretending a renewed Civil War would be a minor conflict, that would be easily won by one side or the other.   Let’s look at it for what it would really be: Wholesale destruction and death on a scale never seen in this country before.  It would be end of the United States of America, and when the smoke cleared, it would be a nation of destroyed cities, starving and decimated people, and a  powerless government, with the real possibility that a large chunk of the country being occupied by a foreign power.  Let’s quit kidding ourselves, and lets get off of the stupid path toward conflict many seem to be eager to set us on.  Let us start calling out those who wish to put us on that path.  A country that is headed toward a civil war, has a dark, and dangerous future that nothing good will come from.  At best, it would wreck the United States of America for at least a century.  Does anyone really want that?  I know I don’t

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

For the average, run-of-the-mill guy, such as me, the political and national events that have taken place since the 2016 election have been quite a bit to follow.   I have been through at least 8 elections since  I was old enough to vote, so I have seen quite a bit of politics, and political theatre since then.  I have also been around people long enough to be disheartened, if not downright scared of the divisions in this country.

What makes all of this worse, is the fact that everyone, on all sides of the political spectrum are like two people having an argument, and both are shouting at the same time.  No one is listening, and that’s not to say that “listening” is the cure-all here, but, it’s a senseless way to be, and completely pointless.  The winner of any of the political argument these days (if there is such a thing) is not one that presents the facts, makes their point, and persuades the other person the validity of their position;  no, it is the side that yells the loudest.  In this year, we have had a scandal-riddled presidency since day one, heck, since before Day One.   But, what are the meat of these scandals.  Are they real? Are they not? Does any one know what the facts are?  I am not picking a side here, mainly because I don’t know what is right, who is right, and whatever.  Is Trump acting, well, badly?  Yes, he is.  Are those that dislike him acting badly?  Yes, they are.  The problem is, it is so hard to separate what is real, and what is “Fake News” that many people like me walk around in a state of confusion trying to figure out if the next Washington Post “bombshell” is exactly that, or is it just another “I know a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a guy, who knows a girl, whose cousin’s wife’s sisters’s fiance knew someone who works in Washington and they saw something in a memo, but only read part of it.”

In any other place or time, something like that would not stand up to even the most cursory scrutiny.  Making accusations based on a sliver of a rumor would anyone laughed out of anywhere, and their integrity seriously questioned.  But, enough about the media, fake news, and the lot.  It’s been covered enough, and quite frankly, I don’t want to wade through that.

Today, Senator John McCain came back to Washington to vote on the motion to move the GOP healthcare bill for debate.  Vice President Pence had to break the tie.

And the left lost it’s collective mind.  (Or, what was left of it)

What astounds me is the intellectual dishonesty from the Democrats.  They were all over Twitter, and other media outlets talking about how now “people are going to die”.

Because of a debate?

It’s the same old tired rhetoric they have trotted out for the last two decades.  They, the party of “We have to pass the bill to see what’s in it” are now accusing the Republicans of obfuscation.  The whole thing is a joke, and the dishonesty from both sides is unreal.  The party of “Repeal and Replace” has been acting like the party of “We’ll take out the things we don’t like….maybe”.  They tried to repackage it, and rename it, and just keep the ACA in tact.  None of which made any sense.  But, now, the Republicans, by the slimmest of margins have moved their bill to debate.  Progress?  Maybe.

Nothing has been passed.  Nothing.  It’s being debated on, and we are a long way from passage of anything.  Add to that, my Twitter feed (such as it is) as well as Facebook were full of people clamoring for a “single payer system”.

Let us examine that for a moment.

I am not here to argue the economics of it or anything like that, there are others out there who are far more qualified to analyse that than I am.   I do not understand how anyone in their right mind would want a government agency in charge of one of the most personal things that we have as people.  Our health.  Why would anyone want to give control over how they are treated for an illness, or an accident, or a terminal disease even, to the government?  What is it about someone, or a group of people that desires outside control of their lives?   I find the calls for “single payer” is more indicative of what those who express that view, want for the rest of us.  Not for themselves, necessarily, but for the rest of us.  That elusive “them” or “the other guy”  I go back a bit to one my earlier writings “What Do We Want?  Tyranny!  When Do We Want it? NOW!” from last summer, where I talked about how the various groups of people across the political spectrum want revenge against “them”.  “Those people” whomever “Those people” may be.  When they express the desire for this country’s medical system to be “run like Canada’s” I honestly think they haven’t given it much thought.  So intent are they on implementing a system that would punish the rich, and tax to death everyone else, in other words punish “them”, they haven’t given much though to how it would affect themselves.

I am an independent thinker, I always have been.  One thing that will get me angry, and desirous of picking a fight, is someone telling me what to think, how to think, or what to say.  Or, even worse, someone trying to control my life.  I am not talking about being told what to do at work by my boss.  That is totally different.  My job is something entered into willingly on my part, and the part of my employer.  They pay me, I do the work I am assigned.  Do I disagree, perhaps, with policies?  Sometimes, but, in my disagreement, I come up with a solution to make it better.  Maybe they listen, maybe they don’t, but they are paying me to do a job.

However, someone telling me what to say, or think, or telling me what I must believe is totally different.  That is an imposition.  A totalitarian government is not something that most of us enter into willingly.  It is something that is imposed, something that is forced, and complying is mandatory, or punishment is handed out.  That is where I bristle, that is when my back gets up.   The thing about going to a single-payer system, is that it immediately becomes a  politicized single-payer system.  What you get treated for and for how long, or, if at all, is going to depend on your politics.

That should frighten any reasonable person.  It should frighten anyone, in fact.

I can’t even conceive of anyone telling me that I cannot have an illness, or worse, one of my children cannot have an illness treated.  That would make me insane.   A person, not my doctor, but, a person from some government agency,  a bureaucrat from a government agency is going to approve, or deny my treatment, based on how expensive it is, how many years I may have to live, and, yes, even my politics.  In fact, I would gather, in a very short period of time, (about 5 minutes after the legislation is passed) it will be the only deciding factor.

That should frighten anyone, regardless of your political stance.  Tyranny is not good under any circumstances.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a right wing dictator, or left wing.  The whole “If my side is doing it, its okay” argument is stupid, and pointless.  No one should want someone from the  government deciding if they get well, or get sicker, or even worse, if they live or die.    I hear stupid arguments like “Well, if the GOP does single payer, it will at least get done right.”

What the hell does that even mean?

Neither side could do it right, and you cannot convince me otherwise.  The best system we had in this country was the system we had prior to Obamacare.  Don’t get me started on that.  I know way, way too many people who, once they were forced to the exchanges were paying premiums that were higher than their mortgages in some ways, with unbelievable deductibles, and care that was so limited it was a joke.  I don’t want to hear that god-awful abomination of a “health care plan” was a good thing.  I know better, I know too many people, middle class people, who had to sell cars, and houses, and what not just to afford basic health care.

Yes, the previous insurance system in this country had it’s flaws, but, the fact is undeniable, it did work, and it worked for a large majority of Americans.  Spare me the stories of over crowded inner city emergency rooms.  Try to remember that the overcrowded emergency rooms were not the fault of the insurance companies, but, the fact that many of these people were on Medicaid, or it’s state-level equivalent.  I am also not saying the over-crowded emergency rooms didn’t happen, I know they did, I was an EMT for a private ambulance service, and paid many a visit to hospitals and saw the overcrowded emergency rooms for myself.  Yes, they were miserable, but, what is the solution?  Let’s also remember, by and large, no one was turned away, and treatment was not denied.  So,again, what is the solution.  The fact is no one knows, but the politicians of this country seem to be willing to gamble with all of our lives in an effort to fix something that was never really broken to begin with.

The problem with single payer systems, is that those who advocate for one honestly believe that a single payer system is the only solution, and it is somehow magical, and will fix everyone’s problems.  It is those people who tend to be the ones who advocate for it the strongest, and they are generally the ones who understand it the least.   It is that lack of understanding that makes their arguments so untenable.  Everyone of those who advocate for single-payer always point to Canada, or Sweden as an example of single payer success.   Unfortunately they aren’t successful as their proponents wish they were.

Try showing someone who sings the praises of single payer success in Canada the following articles, and see how fast you are accused of showing them “Fake news”.

Healthcare Wait Times hit 20 weeks in 2016: Report”  20 weeks. Can you imagine waiting 20 weeks for a procedure?  A test? An MRI that might detect a disease process, but at 20 weeks might be too far advanced?  I cannot even comprehend that.   Follow that with this  “Canada Has the Worst ER/Referral Wait Times of 11 Developed Countries“.  Facts take no note of wishes, however, but that doesn’t deter the ‘governement-can-solve-everything’ crowd.   This oft-quoted study by The Frasier Institute just adds more fuel to the fire.  Now, if the average time from referral-to-procedure in Canada is 20 weeks, then, obviously there are those who get care sooner.  At the same time there are those who get it later.   Yes there are this who get treated sooner, but, that does not take away from the fact that on average, for any procedure, the average Canadian can expect to wait 5 months for it to be performed.   Imagine going to the doctor.  You, or a family member has an issue that cause the doctor concern, could you imagine waiting?   If it is something serious (Cancer, etc) five months is an eternity.

Single payer makes no sense to me, neither did Obamacare, and so far, the the stuff being proffered by the GOP.

I don’t want a health care system run by the government.  I want my doctor and I making medical decisions about me, or my family.  Not some bureaucratic pencil pusher.  I don’t want to have to wait months for a test or a procedure.  I also don’t want the government telling me what to eat, or what is good for me, or bad for me.   I also don’t want a judge, or a court, deciding when my life ends (if you think that won’t happen, Charlie Gard should be a wake up call for you) or if I have become “too expensive” and need to be put on an “end of life path”

I just want the government to leave me alone, and let me live my life the way I see fit. I also wish the same thing for everyone else.

What is so hard to understand about that?

 

Or, in 2017, because the election is going to make us wait.

The other night, a group of old white folks got on a stage, and said a bunch of stuff, I am sure you saw it, The Democrat Debate.  Yes.  That one.

So, over the last several months, we have one candidate on the Republican side, and at least two on the Democrat side, that are saying the things the masses want to hear.  All night, during the debate, we heard about how the candidates were going to give us everything our heart desires.  Free Healthcare, Free College Tuition, Free Birth Control, Free this and “Free” that.  But, what was conspicuously absent from their promises of rainbows and unicorns for everyone, was any talk about freedom, liberty, and our Rights.

Why does it seem to me, that any discussion of our Rights under the Constitution these days, results in people sidestepping the issue, or acting as if talking about those Rights is bothersome, and an annoyance.  “Why confuse the issue with Rights” a co-worker said one night at work.  As we go along in this election cycle, which is taking on a decidedly surreal aura about it, it seems like there are more fist-shakers, rabble rousers, and snarling, sign waving people than I have ever seen in my life.  I am old enough to remember the protests of the 70’s, and I don’t ever remember an election cycle where the American people seem so distant from the vision that our founding fathers had.

It seems, that in this America, we are focused on revenge, on sticking it to “the other guy.”  whoever that might be.  We are about reclaiming what we perceive as lost, and  what we perceive as “ours”, and not seeming to care if bloodshed  winds up being part of the equation.  Now, I am not talking about bloodshed for a noble cause, or in the defense of something we hold dear.  I am talking bloodshed in the name of “I am taking back what is MINE!”, leaving the definition of what “mine” means, to whatever fits the bill at the moment.  In every issue, from Illegal Immigration, to Gun Rights, to Abortion Rights, the undertone of the threat of  violence, is slowly starting to become less of an undertone, and more of an overtone. The riots in Baltimore, and Ferguson, MO, are a glimpse of what is to come if things slip further out of contriol.   It is as if, we want these candidates of ours, the ones that we believe believe as we do  to be in control, it seems, but so long as it is the “other guy” who is being controlled.   We want the Illegals thrown out, guns taken away, abortion on demand, the sanctity of life be damned, and whatever we want when we want it. Listening to our candidates, they say the things that fire people up, and get the fists shaking, and it’s not in a good way.  Throughout history, tyrannical governments have found their way to the fore when the people, tired of whatever malaise is infecting the nation, want a change, and they want a big change, and they want the change to serve, not the nation, but their self interests.  They want that “other guy” who is responsible for all of the aforementioned malaise, to be punished.  In the eyes of most conservatives, it is the liberal, Socialist Left, and in the eyes of many liberals, it is the Conservative, Christian Right.

What many people seem to be forgetting, is that the institution of an authoritarian government affects them as well.  Does anyone out there think that the people running for President, especially Sanders, Clinton, and Trump are running because, as President, they would put country first?  Put the people first?  Their rhetoric is about punishing those nebulous “others” however they choose to define them, be it illegal immigrants, gun owners, the rich, or what have you.  It is a rhetoric of class division, racial division, and economic division, designed to pit people against one another, and take our focus off of the important issues. In this day and age of the “low information voter” getting people fired up with rhetoric that doesn’t require much thinking isn’t very difficult. Heck, these days, outrage is manufactured by those wishing to move an agenda forward.  Photos and news footage of angry, fist shaking people shouting slogans, and threatening violence tends to project the image that there are large numbers of angry people agitating for change.  These days, it doesn’t even have to be true, just make it a hashtag, and pretty soon people latch on to it, without even thinking about the facts, or, even considering what the facts are.  The “Hands up Don’t Shoot” is a perfect example.  People are so mired in their insular, self absorbed social-media-pop-culture world that real news, and real events, important events don’t make it past the latest Kardashian gossip, cute kitty video, or viral photo.  Remember #thedress from earlier this summer?  It was the lead story on “Good Morning America”, a stupid story about a dress that is/was perceived to be different colors by different people, was all over the news.  A story, about a dress… something that, even 10 years ago would have been fodder for “Inside Edition” or something similar was the lead story on a morning national news program.  When people are focused on the trivia, the minutiae, and the unimportant, and it masquerades as the important, then anything that really matters (world events, the economy, etc.) gets shunted aside. Additionally, with the ever present “social media” on our phones, and in our faces now, 24/7, the trivial becomes important, because it’s the first thing we see.  It’s distracting, and that, ultimately may be the goal.  Today’s social media, is the equivalent of putting the  comics on the front page of the newspaper 30 years ago, followed by the TV listings, the gossip columns, and then “cute photos” sent in by readers, with the news, and the important stories being the last section.

It is this kind of dumbing down, this kind of media slight-of-hand, that is keeping people from learning and understanding what is going on.  This is where tyrrany starts, it is when ordinary people allow someone else to do their thinking for them, and then mindlessly repeat what they hear without giving it a second thought.  It seems to me, in some ways, that there are people in this country who want someone to think for them, and want more government controls, they want “someone” to take care of things that they could, and should normally do themselves.   Think about the advent of the “self driving car”….  Cool, new, “cutting edge”, technological, and one more thing that does something that the average person generally should have no problem doing.  Promoters of the self driving car, are saying things like:

“Safer than having people drive”

“It can avoid accidents, and, indeed, prevent them from happening”

“Can go anywhere, while you ride along in comfort”

Does anyone see a problem with this?  I would not, under any circumstances, want a self driving car.  However, people are all ga-ga over them, and can’t wait to own one.  I like the fact that I get in to my car, and go where I want, not where the car decides to take me. I don’t want to be a passive participant.  And that is the point.  Too many people want to be passive participants.  They want others to think for them, to tell them where to go, and how they should get there.  A self driving car?  Really? So, once you get in it, you are now at the mercy of whomever controls the programming for the system that controls the car.  I find no merit in such a vehicle, none whatsoever.  Yet, it is promoted as a “safety solution” and something that will put an end to the high number of deaths every year from automobile accidents.  That is how anything that ultimately takes away a bit of your freedom, or your control is promoted.  It is promoted as something that promotes “safety” either for children, or the elderly, or ourselves.  Think about that for one moment.  A car, that is programmed, and even if it is programmed by the owner to travel, the destinations, the routes, and the dates and times, are saved in a computer network somewhere, somewhere, where someone else can get access, and see where you have gone, and how often, and how long you spend there. It is just more information about you, that, can be used against you.  Add to that, how easy would it be for someone who wants to, to change where you are supposed to go? How much power would you have to override that?  What comes next after that? “Smart houses” that record what goes on in them, under the guise of crime prevention? Domestic violence prevention? Fire prevention?

Giving up control over our own personal vehicles and personal space to others, so we can feel “secure” is the wrong road to go down. Technology is cool, and does great things, but those great things are hardly innocuous, or neutral.  They can be used as weapons against us, when they wind up in the wrong hands.  Right now, so much of our lives depend on technology, whether it’s our smart phone, our computer, or our vehicle’s GPS navigation system, that we are exposed in every possible way.  Giving up control over what we hold as freedoms, to those who promise to be better stewards of it than we are, is frivolous, dangerous fantasy.   Many people, however, desire the control, but they want to be on the sidelines watching, they want the control, just so long as it is on others, not on them.  That is not, and never will be the case.  Once an enemy is identified, isolated, and the blame for the societal issues of the day placed on that enemy, it makes it easier for those who wish to exercise power and control.  The people become focused on the “enemy” that they don’t realize that the control is also applying to them.  In their zeal to find a politician who will isolate, and control the “enemy” people don’t realize that they are giving up their freedoms and their rights.

See, it’s not about the “other guy” or “them”,  It is about us.  It is about our society. It is about our country, and all of the citizens that live here.  We cannot afford to elect anyone who desires to take away rights, subjugate a portion of the population, or curtail our personal, and private activities, or worse, subject them to the scrutiny of someone or some group who is given the power to decide if it is an activity that we should be allowed to partake in, based on whatever agenda they happen to be running.   Regardless of whether or not you disagree with abortion, gun ownership, homosexual marriage, or any of the the other issues in our society today, it does not give you, or anyone, the right to prevent those folks from expressing opinions, protesting, or celebrating those issues by using violence, imprisonment, or the threat of such. It seems, however, that these days, there are people who seem to think that using violence is the only way, and don’t seem to shy about expressing that.

Illegal immigration.

Next to Hillary’s emails, and the Planned Parenthood fiasco, it is the one issue in the current election cycle that resonates with everyone in this country.

Every day, in this country, we have people spilling over our borders, entering through our ports, airports, and unguarded seashores, and, even, being packed into freight cars by criminal human traffickers. We have nearly unsustainable levels of people in this country looking for and getting hand outs from the government . It is an issue that is very important to many citizens, it is about our way of life, it is about National Security, and it is about economic security as well.

But, what are we going to do about it?

Well, what can we do about it?

On the second question, as well as the first there are several “schools of thought” if you will on how to handle the crisis.  From the Left, they want open borders, on the Right, secure borders and tougher laws. From Americans in general, there is a “send them all back” sentiment.   Neither side can offer a constructive plan on how to  deal with it, because Americans of all stripes are demanding something be done NOW!

Let’s be honest with ourselves about this issue; and, before you go making assumptions about me, let me spell this out:  I don’t like illegal immigration, and I fully agree it must be stopped, and our border secured.  I understand, that although there are many people coming here to make things better for themselves, there are also large numbers who are here to cause problems, break laws, and do nefarious things, not to mention the very real possibility there are ISIS-types among those illegals. I worked 9-1-1 in a Law Enforcement environment, in a town that has a rough reptuation, as well as being a haven for gangsters, and criminals of all stripes. Telling me that there are serious criminals coming here illegally, is like saying water is wet. Prior to the Obama Administration, ICE was a regular visitor to our lock up.  I remember quite often running names and coming up with criminal histories marked “previously deported alien”.   However, not all of them are criminals, not all of them are bad, and not all of them are from South America, Central America, and Mexico.  Illegals come from China, Russia, Germany, Jordan, Israel, Cameroon, South Africa, Korea, Malaysia, Ukraine, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Canada, India, Pakistan, and, well, you get the picture.  People enter this country illegally every year, from all over. One of the principal points of entry is in the Southwestern United States. but, they enter everywhere.

As solutions go, there are none that will solve the problem quickly.  It is too far gone, and too far advanced to turn around on a dime, and fix.  Regardless of what Trump and his supporters might think, there is simply no way to come to a fix that isn’t going to take a lot of time, energy and money. Fixing the problem, which should be a priority, will be expensive.  It needs a multi pronged approach, there has to be action on three things: Securing the Border, dealing with the millions who are already here, and preventing more from coming in.

Shouts of “Build a Wall” or “Send them all back” are neither practical, or real solutions.  We can’t send back millions of people.  How would that be done?  Do you really want the world to see train and bus loads of people being forcibly removed from the country? Do you really want this country portrayed like that? The “Land of the Free,” packing people in to freight cars, a la, Nazi Germany for deportation to another country?  Look, I know they broke the law, but, seriously, how could anyone with a sliver of humanity in them see that as nothing but barbaric. Who would round them up? Do you want to go there too?  How would you avoid any violence? Because violence would surely result from any kind of forceful measures, and would quickly spiral out of control.  If you are one of those who think it wouldn’t, your are delusional, and devoid of any logical thought. So. lets remove the “send them all back” option from the equation, except for those convicted of crimes.  The criminals can go, we don’t need them.

So, what do we do then?  Path to Citizenship? Mentioning that is like saying someone in the room has the measles.  Is that a “reward” for breaking the law? Perhaps.  But, what is worse; Giving a segment of the illiegals citizenship, or, being seen as a human rights violator right up there with China, Iran, and some other nations?

At this same time, current Immigration laws would have to be enforced, vigorously. The borders, including our ports, coasts and airports, as well as the long border crossings between us and Mexico as well as us and Canada would have to be secured. There would have to be immediate deportation of those that are caught crossing the border illegally.   I have no problems with those borders being patrolled by heavily armed border guards in armored vehicles. Remember, this is OUR country, and we can choose who we wish to let in.

Along with strengthening the border and other points of entry, there should be a comprehensive effort to remove the criminal element, and deport them back to wherever they came from.  Immigration and Customs should be beefed up, and be available whenever law enforcement comes upon someone who has a criminal past, and is here illegally, or, is here illegally, and has committed crime. Upon arrest, and the determination that the individual does not belong here, ICE agents should be on call to take the person into custody, and to a central location where they will be sent back to wherever they came from. Many other countries around the world have strict immigration laws, we need to have them too.  This country belongs to those of us (regardless of where anyone came from) who are citizens, whether they became a citizen last year, or their ancestors did two centuries ago.

Comprehensive, strict, and enforceable immigration laws, and a system to enforce those laws is what we need to enact.  Fixing the problem will take time, probably on the order of ten or fifteen years, but it can be done.  We won’t make the country impervious to illegal aliens, but we sure can make it tougher for them to try to get in, and, make it tougher for those who do manage to get in to stay. We also need politicians not afraid to act, and put the interests of the country above the interests of the party.(whichever party they belong to) Donald Trump does not qualify as “not afraid to act”, his bombast is worthless, his plan nativist and isolationist, appealing only to the xenophobic, and racist among us. Enacting any plan the requires the removal of large amounts of people, would require enacting a police state in this country, which is anti-thetical to anything and everything this country was founded on.

Now, let me make this clear: I am not talking about a blanket amnesty, if there were feasible, agreeable path to citizenship, then it would have to include getting oneself off of welfare, finding stable, productive employment, and staying out of trouble with the law (x number of misdemeanors, or one felony conviction within x amount of time gets one deported, perhaps) .  Once staying on illegally, whether it’s a border-jumper, or someone who over stays their visa, is made riskier, and less attractive, that may force many to head back where they came from.  LIke I said, it’s not going to be done quickly.  The only way to do that is to violate the civil and human rights of millions, and that will just lead to violence, and that is not a solution either.

Also, the next thing that would be necessary, is a stable, and growing economy, and a lean toward energy independence, which would create jobs as well.  A growing economy in Mexico, and South and Central America would also help, as many of the people who come here are poor and with little means.  But, again, this all takes time.   At this point, what we have to deal with is this:

Porous borders, anywhere from 11 to 20 million illegals.  A system the is broken, and has been allowed to languish under the current administration, as well as an administration that has sought to make it easier for people to get here illegally. That is what we have to deal with, and even if we “fix” the system, we will still have millions of people here, that are here illegally, and a solution is needed for them as well.   The very idea of forcing millions of people out of the country is appalling to me.  I don’t like the fact that they are here illegally and have taken advantage of my country, but, at the same time, I don’t like the idea of rounding up people by the millions (and, honestly, how would we tell who was who?) and shipping them off either, so I am at an impasse.  There has to be a workable middle ground here, and it needs to be found. Internal and external security needs to be rebuilt, illegal immigration needs to be brought under control.

Shouts, slogans, screams for mass deportation are not going to solve the illegal immigration crisis in this country.  The only thing that can, is a solution that addresses every avenue in this issue, and takes into account the security, well being, and needs of  American citizens first and foremost.  It has to be that way.  We are a sovereign nation.  We have the right to secure borders, and a secure homeland.  It’s really that simple.

Outside of Donald Trump, one of the biggest issues that seems to take up most of my Twitter and Facebook feed, is gun rights, and the associated Second Amendment legislation stuff that goes along with it. For much of my life, I never paid very close attention to Second Amendment rights, and things like that, always figuring they would always be with us, it’s not that I am against guns, or I didn’t care, I just didn’t pay attention.

Now, guns have never been a part of my life, outside of the odd BB gun.  My dad never owned any, but I did have an uncle who had a few guns.  However, even though guns were never part of my life, I was pretty familiar with them.  Being a military historian, and avid student of World War II, becoming familiar with guns, at least on paper, is part of learning about the history of the conflict.   That being said, I had always wanted to shoot a gun for real, however, being that I grew up here in Illinois, my dad couldn’t just go out to the local sporting goods store, by a .22 and bring it home for me to plink away with.  As I grew up, and became of age, I did manage to get a Firearm Owner’s ID card, but never bought a weapon, because money was always needed for something else.  Anyway, the upshot is, I never really paid much attention to 2nd Amendment stuff, but I did know that anti-gun types were rather irritating.

Fast forward twenty years, and things have changed.  Still not a gun owner, but,  I was gaining a better understanding of what the “gun grabbers” were up to, and what gun rights supporters were doing to counter that.  I began to understand that 2nd Amendment rights dove-tailed with First Amendment rights as well as all of the other rights in the Bill of Rights.  Even more so, I have also had a very strong belief that everyone has the right to defend themselves, by what ever means necessary, and, if that self-defense includes a gun, well, then, so be it. Honestly, a person gets shot breaking in to another person’s house, the, that person had it coming.   Don’t want to get shot? Then don’t do things that will lead to that happening.  Harsh? Well, yeah, but that’s how it goes.  If one intends to harm someone, and that individual gets hurt, or killed, because their intended victim put up a fight, well, then, there is no sympathy, or excuse.   But, enough of that.

A couple of years ago, as my two oldest sons became of age, they relocated to Texas (one because Uncle Sam said so) and, I had always heard that Texas, as far as guns went, was considered by many to be a “free state” in that regard.  Certainly, less restrictive than Illinois.  Two years after they both moved down there, okay, one was stationed there, and the other moved there, figuring he would do better making a living than he would in Illinois (He was right).  We decided to take a vacation to Texas to see both boys, and see the sights.

And get in a bit of shooting.

Yes.  That was the main reason outside of seeing my sons (one of whom was back from his second tour of Afghanistan): Getting a chance, finally, to shoot a gun for-real.

I had never handled a gun, a real one, but, in the late 80’s I was building model guns from model kits that our local hobby shop sold.  They were expensive, but, when finished, they acted like their real life counterparts.  On our first trip to the range, I was about as excited as a kid at Christmas.  I was looking forward to shooting both rifles and handguns, and my better half an I agreed that the kids (my two youngest were in Junior High at the time) if they were allowed to shoot at all, we would rent them .22 caliber handguns.  Full disclosure:  I will admit that I found the fact that one can rent a gun at a range rather interesting, because I had never heard of that before. (Remember, I was rather naive on the “gun culture”) At the first range we went to, we were warmly welcomed.  The employees were super friendly, and they went over the range rules with the seriousness that they required.  The range also had a gun store, and that is where we paid for, and rented the guns, signed the paperwork, and got our lessons on how to load, hold and shoot the 9mm Beretta, .45 M1911 and the .22 Ruger for the kids.  After that it was into the range.

Shooting was fun, I was nervous at first, but was able to handle the weapons with confidence, and I found I also enjoyed helping the rest of the family with loading, and clearing the guns.  Like I said, I had never used one, but I had  accumulated knowledge on how they worked, so I was ready to put my “book” knowledge to real life use. We had a great time interacting with the range staff, and some of the other shooters that were there. I also enjoyed talking shop about the various weapons with the range staff, as well as some other folks there.

It was this trip that moved me from being a passive 2nd Amendment guy, to an active one.  I gained a deeper understanding about guns, the people who own them, and how important those rights are to us.  Not only that I learned that shooting is fun, and it’s a worthwhile activity.  But, I began to understand the Second Amendment even more.  I am a holder of a gun card again, here in Illinois, but after a second trip to Texas this year to see my sons, and my brand new daughter in law, and for some more shooting, I am thinking that moving to Texas would be a great idea……

So, now, I stand for the 2nd Amendment, and I am not passive any longer. I follow what is going on with gun laws around the country, as well as legislation, and I pay attention to those politicians who wish to restrict our rights.  I know now, its a never-ending battle, because, fighting for one right, means fighting for all of them.  I am actively aware of things that go on now regarding gun rights, as well as encroach on free speech, and other rights.   To those who are passive on the issue, or or those who would say “Well, I am not a gun owner, so it doesn’t matter”. I say this:  As Americans, we should be vigilant in protecting all of our rights, fighting for all of them, not just the ones we feel we “are part of”. Because if we fight for one, and not others, we stand to lose them all.