All posts by vocemlibertatis

Reflections on the Life of my Mother

Today, we laid my mother to rest.  These were the remarks – which I did my best to get through – at her funeral today:

Where do I begin to reflect on 82 years of my mother’s life in a few minutes?  Or even the 54 years that I knew her as my mother. She was not one to promote herself or be the center of attention.  You would never find her on the front page of the paper.

She invested herself in her family, close and extended.  She loved her family.  She loved the history of her family – both hers and those of her husband.  She spent countless hours researching genealogy and compiling family history, photographs, letters and stories.  I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be her partner in research and we often enjoyed talking about the latest find or the frustrations of dead ends in the family tree.  I remember fondly going to Frankfort, KY to the library looking for hidden secrets from the past about their lives of those who came before us.

I was especially overjoyed as we discovered the location of the graves of Dad’s early Kentucky ancestors hidden away on private property.  Mom was excited to find it, but was no Indiana Jones.  When we discovered from the land owner it was covered in dense weeds and overgrowth, Mom decided that was not for her and waited in the car.

Over the years, Mom compiled over a thousand family records with hundreds of pages of records with a family tree going back to the Mayflower and beyond.  I am blessed with this treasury of records and history that I will seek to flesh out and extend in years to come so that her gift to her children and grandchildren will last far into the future and inspire many generations of her descendants.  Beyond records, there are stories which I have shared with my children and will be shared for generations to come.

Mom had many passions.  Those passions touched the life of each person here.  One of Mom’s greatest passions was family.  She wanted the best for us. She wanted us to excel and exceed in school and in non-school activities like 4-H.  She taught us her passion for music, which has been a life-long love of mine.  She introduced me to a variety of music and gave me love for classical symphonic music.

She wanted us to be able to do things that she had been unable to do as a child, including travel.  However, that did not include flying. Mom had an impending sense of doom about airplanes.  I would end up not flying until age 37.  Even then, I would not tell her ahead of time that I was flying.  I would call her once I had landed to let her know I had safely arrived.  This became a regular habit for every flight I have taken since.

This was not Mom’s only phobia. I cannot count the number of times we had to return home on the way to church, a school event or a trip because someone MIGHT have left the iron or the toaster plugged in.  Mom was not terribly concerned about navigation before a trip began.  In fact, she would often say “all roads lead to the same place,” but once on the road, she was convinced we had missed – or would miss – an exit on the interstate and, as a result, we were doomed.

Mom was excitable, sometimes at minor things, but sometimes major ones.  This could be most challenging at times. However, she was focused on the important things.  Mom believed that her first duty as a mother was to lead us to Christ.  She was devoted to her churches and family. Her love for the Lord was evident.  She encouraged us to read Bible and was quite insistent on church attendance and being active in youth activities – such as Sunday School, youth groups and church camp.  She was heavily involved in Bible Bowl, which was obviously a clever trick to get kids to read their Bibles.  It succeeded.

As a young child, I was not fond of being read to, although I was interested in books. She encouraged me and taught me to read them myself – well before I went to school.

Although uncommon in some families, talking politics at the dinner table was common practice in ours.  This engendered for me a lifelong love of history and politics.  She helped me learn the names of all the Presidents and Vice-Presidents by number of their Presidency by age 5.  I was probably one of the only 5 year olds intently watching the 1968 presidential election returns with my own electoral map.  She made a family tradition of watching the returns and having hot dogs in the crock pot for the long evening.  We often had peanuts as well, but this became difficult in 1976 since Jimmy Carter was a peanut farmer.

Mom had a strong sense of fairness.  When we got in trouble and deserved it, she let us know we deserved it. However, if we had been treated unfairly, God help you. She fiercely defended her own. However, she would often look to Dad and say “what are you going to do about that?”

She taught me important lessons about people – who they are as children of God and their value as human beings.  I remember her being upset at the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Now Mom was no fan of Mr. Kennedy, but she knew that violence and injustice were never a solution and that we are all children of God.

I will never forget as a young child the first time I encountered someone of a different skin color from that of mine. I was at a Christmas program at East Side Elementary School and seated next to an older African American woman.  For some reason, I was afraid and moved as far away in my seat from her and as close to Mom as I possibly could.  I’m sure it was quite embarrassingly obvious. She did not shame me, but quietly explained to me that this woman was a very nice woman and that some people have different skin color.  It didn’t make them any less of a person make them someone to be feared. She later shared about her friend in college who was African American.  She told me about the unfairness of how they couldn’t take her to some restaurants and how that made her friend feel.  I have never forgotten how she quietly dispelled my ignorance and fear and taught me love and the equality of our human condition.  As irony would have it, I decided to follow Christ after a presentation by African American singers who did a presentation on the history of the old spirituals and the faith of their ancestors.

In light of this, I remember being horrified as an adult when Mom was going through old family pictures and showed me a picture of her father in Klansman robes.  She calmly explained that in the 20s, nearly all the men in the community were members as that was the Klan’s heyday in Indiana.  As the Klan was exposed with the fall of D.C. Stephenson, he greatly regretted his involvement.  In this, Mom taught me that people are not only not defined by their skin color; they are also not defined by their mistakes.  She exhibited that to me time and time again. She was often an instrument of God’s mercy and grace when I needed it the most.

Mom’s fairness was not always peaceful.  As a child, I was, with the exception of a brief growth spurt in 4th and 5th grade, always height challenged.  As a result, I was often picked on and sometimes bullied.  One particular day in the neighborhood, there was a boy in the neighborhood who was a giant (at least in my eyes).  The other kids feared him and he used them to pick on the smallest – me.  The teasing was pretty vicious and I ran home crying.  Mom was hanging clothes on the clothesline, as was routine in the days before dryers were common.  I told her what had happened and she told me go back.  Now this was not what I was expecting. I tried to explain to her about the giant boy, but she insisted that I go back.  I walked back, apparently very slowly.  To my surprise, she was already there – with other parents.  They separated the other children from the bully.  Mom brought the two of us together and said now you to go at it. I was horrified.  I kept thinking, “Mom, do you not see how big he is!”  We stood there facing each other for seemed an eternity. I finally took a swing and landed a punch – which surely could not have hurt as I was small and terrified.  To my shock, he turned and ran away.  Mom, of course, knew that would happen. She knew that I had to learn to face my greatest fear and confront it.  Following that day, I never had another problem with that boy. Though others still feared him – as he always was big and strong – he always respected me and we never had any problems.  To this day, I have no patience for bullies and those who prey upon the weaker and believe it is our duty as children of God to stand up for them and fight oppression.  I owe that to my Mother.

While the last few months have been very hard and Mom was not the same person she was in earlier years, there were flashes of who she was that would come back from time to time.  At the end, she was unable to talk in any meaningful way. Dad and I had been with her for some time.  She tried to talk, but all that she could muster was “baby talk.”  As we laid her in bed, I kissed her and told her I loved her.  As clear as a bell, she said, “I love you too.”

The next day, I stopped by before coming home to Indianapolis. She had been asleep all day.  While I was there she woke up.  They brought into the main room and gave her dinner, but even with me trying to help, she would not eat.  However, in a moment of complete clarity, she looked at me and said, “I know it sounds crazy, but I’m afraid to swallow.”  I told her I understood.  She had a couple of amusing moments that night.  Since she could not eat, I took her for a ride up and down the hallway in her wheelchair. We were followed by one of the residents who was convinced I was making an escape with Mom and that I needed to take her with me.  I explained that we weren’t going anywhere, but she remained adamant.  When we returned to the table, Mom told me, “I don’t know what that woman’s problem was. You tried to tell her.”  She was quite concerned about who was going to do the laundry.  I assured her it was being taken care of.  She also was quite adamant that she was not going to follow “that man’s rules” whatever those were!  I guess I come by it honestly.  As it was time to go, I kissed her and told her “I love you.”  She replied “I love you too.”  Those were the last words I heard her speak.

I will always treasure those two nights.  I can’t stress enough.  You can’t tell your loved ones enough that you love them. Hug them, hold them and kiss them as long as you can.  I love you Mom.

Hope for the Hopeless

It is well known that the holidays, while a time of great joy for many are a time of deep despair for those suffering from depression and loss.  It is sadly a time marked with a large number of suicides.  In fact, someone within my circle of friends tragically took their life recently.

The real meaning of Christmas is not gifts and family gatherings, trees or decorations. It is a celebration of hope.  As the prophet Isaiah writes:

The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.

This Christmas, remember those still “living in the land of deep darkness.”  25 million Americans suffer from depression.  Suicide was the tenth leading cause of death and the second leading cause of death for adults between the ages of 10 and 34 years in the United States last year. More than half of those taking their life suffered from depression.

Chances are you know someone battling depression or contemplating taking their life.  Reach out to them. Let them know you care. Let them know that where there is life, there is hope.  Christmas symbolizes that hope. Selfless giving is the real meaning of Christmas. This year, reflect that great light that dawned long ago in the village of Bethlehem.

Deplorables: Donald Trump and The Racist Alt-Right International

By Contributing Author Matt Adams

Hillary Clinton recently gave a speech and discussed the dangers of the “Alt-Right” and racism. This may be the first time many have heard of the term “Alt-Right.”  Is this just a smear campaign by Clinton towards Donald Trump and conservatives?  Is the “Alt-Right” really just a group of internet trolls concerned with free speech or is it actually an ideological phenomenon rooted in white supremacy and racism at its core?  Are the charges levied against the Trump and the Alt-Right by Clinton and the “Liberal MSM” valid?  How extensive is this movement from a domestic and geopolitical standpoint?

Donald Trump’s new ‘Campaign CEO’ is Steve Bannon, the CEO of Breitbart.com, a “news” and opinion site started by conservative Andrew Breibart, who was known for his confrontational style.  Under Andrew Breitbart’s leadership, it helped foment several political scandals during the Obama era, including the Anthony Weiner sexting incident and the ACORN videos.  Since Breitbart’s untimely death, the website was taken over by Bannon.  As popular as it is among some conservatives, Breitbart.com is not known for factual accuracy and are very agenda driven. They often politically incorrect for shock purposes, even to the point of outright racism in some of their reporting, e.g., calling conservative columnist Bill Kristol a “renegade Jew http://www.breitbart.com/2016-presidential-race/2016/05/15/bill-kristol-republican-spoiler-renegade-jew/.” Recently, under Steve Bannon’s leadership, Breitbart.com has been associated with the Alt-Right.

Perusing social media postings, one may assume the Alt-Right is mainly a group of internet trolls making tasteless, racist memes and jokes and harassing people online who disagree with them.  However, their ideological roots are tied to an international white supremacist movement with ties to Putin’s propaganda machine and was the ideological backdrop to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

This is a bold claim.  The forthcoming seeks to connect the dots.

 

The Alt-Right’s Racist Origins

Ben Shapiro, a former Breitbart columnist (who left the organization over the handling Michelle Field’s allegations of being grabbed by former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski), has a good summary of the transformation of Breitbart into a ‘motley collection of white supremacists and anti-Semites’ in a recent Washington Post article https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/08/18/the-breitbart-alt-right-just-took-over-the-gop/?utm_term=.a0b6d8c60b1d. In it, an individual by the name of Richard Spencer states that Breitbart “has elective affinities with the alt-right, and the alt-right has clearly influenced Breitbart. In this way, Breitbart has acted as a ‘gateway’ to alt-right ideas and writers.”

Who is Richard Spencer? In an article back in March of this year, Milo Yiannopolis, Technology Editor at Breitbart and outspoken Trump supporter (recently known for being banned from Twitter for inciting racist trolling of a black comedienne http://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/why-was-leslie-jones-targeted-trolls-n638291, but has become an alt-right ‘celebrity’ of sorts) wrote an ‘Establishment Conservative’s Guide to the Alt-Right’ http://www.breitbart.com/tech/2016/03/29/an-establishment-conservatives-guide-to-the-alt-right/.  In it, Yiannopolis cites Richard Spencer (along with other figures and sites such as American Renaissance, VDare, and so forth) as one of the foundational intellectuals of the newfound ‘alternative right’ movement. Currently, Richard Spencer runs the white supremacist think-tank called the National Policy Institute which is “dedicated to the heritage, identity, and future of people of European descent in the United States, and around the world.” The NPI also publishes a site called RadixJournal.com, which is the “news” and opinion site for the NPI. It has recently published such articles as “What the Founding Fathers REALLY Thought About Race” which begins:

“Today, the United States officially takes the position that all races are equal. Our country is also committed―legally and morally―to the view that race is not a fit criterion for decision-making of any kind, except for promoting “diversity” or for the purpose of redressing past wrongs done by Whites to non-Whites.

Many Americans cite the “all men are created equal” phrase from the Declaration of Independence to support the claim that this view of race was not only inevitable but was anticipated by the Founders. Interestingly, prominent conservatives and Tea Party favorites like Michele Bachman and Glenn Beck have taken this notion a step further and asserted that today’s racial egalitarianism was the nation’s goal from its very first days.

They are badly mistaken.”

The article goes on to cite racist views and policies that the founding fathers and other presidents held and promoted during most of our country’s history, concluding that only with John F. Kennedy do the “radical dissenters from traditional American thinking” find a president whose “conception of race begins to be acceptable to today’s standards.”

Another ‘founding’ site of the Alt-Right, according to Yiannopolis, is The American Renaissance, a monthly online magazine founded by Jared Taylor.  AmRen recently published an article called ‘The Biological Reality of Race http://www.amren.com/news/2016/08/the-biological-reality-of-race-2/’ which promotes a “theory” (if one can call it that) called Human Biodiversity.  The article runs through a gamut of racist tropes and suggests that they are all due to substantial biological differences among races.  It’s essentially Neo-Phrenology.  The fact they cite no scientific literature or research to support their claims should be a given to any rational, decent human being.

There is more evidence embedded in the other sources referenced by Yiannopolis’s introduction to this “intellectual” movement that are just as blatantly racist and bigoted, or more so. Yiannopolis, who calls Trump “Daddy” http://www.breitbart.com/milo/2016/06/19/happy-fathers-day-daddy-donald/, says these “intellectuals” have been “accused of racism” simply because their views cater to “Natural Conservatives” who are “mostly white, mostly male middle-American radicals, who are unapologetically embracing a new identity politics that prioritizes the interests of their own demographic.”  He goes on to separate the Alt-Right ‘meme-brigade’ from their racist, ideological forefathers, but asserts that these “Natural Conservatives” are who the establishment should be most concerned about, politically.

This is outright racism and white supremacy. This is a throwback to a time in American history where white men controlled all the vestiges of power in America, from government to business to even labor unions – or, as Trump may put it, a time from which his conception of American Greatness comes from. These “Natural Conservatives” are the people, after all, from whom @realDonaldTrump retweets quotes from Mussolini and photo-shopped images of Hillary Clinton with the Star of David superimposed.

 

Decent, rational human beings would reject this group outright based on the evidence presented above.  However, there is a further geo-political argument to be made against the Alt-Right for those concerned about America’s stance as a global superpower.

 

The Alt-Right’s Ties to Europe’s New Right and Russia’s Aleksandr Dugin

On Radix Journal’s ‘Critical Reading’ page http://www.radixjournal.com/blog/2016/8/10/critical-reading, there is section dedicated to an ideology called the Fourth Political Theory. It features four books by an author named Aleksandr Dugin. One of the books, “Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Being”, is published by Radix itself.

Who is Aleksandr Dugin? He is Russian professor (Moscow State University).  He is a propagandist for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. His ideas have become increasingly popular within the Russian intelligentsia, having served as an advisor to Russian State Duma government officials. One of his disciples is said to be Putin’s favorite journalists. Here is some further reading about Dugin, his ideas, and his influence: http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/mind-games-alexander-dugin-and-russia%E2%80%99s-war-ideas, http://www.nationalreview.com/article/380614/dugins-evil-theology-robert-zubrin.

Dugin “is the intellectual who has Vladimir Putin’s back in the emerging ideological conflict between Russia and the West. At home, Putin uses him to create a nationalist, anti-liberal voting bloc, while abroad Dugin is the lynchpin of numerous irregular networks of anti-liberal political resistance and sabotage.” He is a promoter of Eurasianism, a theory of history which sees human civilization as a conflict between Eurasia (Central Europe, Russia, and Asia) and “Atlantis” (The West.) He has “reconstructed the entire history of the world as a continuous battle between these two factions, from Rome vs. Carthage to Russia vs. the Anglo-Saxon “Atlantic Order” today. If it is to win its fight against the subversive oceanic bearers of such “racist” (so called because their values are foreign imposed) ideas as human rights, Russia must unite around itself all the continental powers, including Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, the former Soviet republics, Turkey, Iran, and Korea, into grand Eurasian Union strong enough to defeat the West.” Through this conflict, the Russian People will finally be realized, though not through conquest but in the death of Russia and the end of the world. “Death is the way to immortality.” The recent creation of the Eurasian Economic Union and the War in Ukraine (where Dugin posed with Russian tanks on the front lines) are but two manifestations of this conflict.

His Fourth Political Theory is the ideological basis that will unite the Eurasian Union. It is a combination of “Communism, Nazism, Ecologism, and Traditionalism.” Dugin founded the Center for Conservative Studies, which he uses to expose intellectuals around the globe to his theories. Through this and his speaking tours, he’s influenced New Right parties in Europe, such as the German NDP, Greece’s Golden Dawn, the Dutch Freedom Party, and France’s National Front, all of whom hold nationalist, isolationist, Fascists or even neo-Nazi political views (the European New Right’s most visible manifestation is its widespread support for the Nigel Farage-led Brexit referendum.  Nigel Farage, of the British Independence Party, recently appeared at a Trump rally in support of his candidacy https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/aug/26/nigel-farage-brexit-hero-donald-trump.)  His internet presence is bolstered through American white supremacist sites, e.g. Radix Journal. If one doubts the connection between the American Alt-Right, Europe’s New Right, and Dugin, in 2014, Richard Spence himself held a European “Identitarian” Conference, hosted by the Polish far-right Jobbik party, where Dugin was invited (but was denied a visa to attend.) On the invitation, Spencer exclaimed “I think the fact that we’re inviting Dugin is expressive of the fact that we want to have a real healthy dialogue with the major currents of Russian conservatism.” https://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/american-white-nationalists-to-hold-conference-with-russian?utm_term=.ywNdyvN90Q#.bpjN3kVJZA

Note, also, that Richard Spencer was at the Republican National Convention inviting attendees to talk to a racist http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2016/07/20/richard_spencer_at_the_rnc.html.  Further, Geert Wilders, leader the far-right Dutch Freedom Party mentioned above, attended the Yiannopolis rally at the RNC, and posed with GOP congressmen for pictures https://www.thenation.com/article/why-dutch-far-right-extremist-geert-wilders-has-come-to-cleveland-to-cheer-on-donald-trump/.

These are the people who now find home in the GOP that Trump is attempting to mold. It may be political opportunism, capitalizing on a movement using language different from establishment conservatism and liberalism.  It’s doubtful that the Alt-Right online trolls are actively participating in Putin’s propaganda machine.  However, it is telling that Trump has put at the head of his campaign someone who runs a media outlet who the racist Alt-Right has credited for its recent popularity. Trump has openly questioned the necessity of NATO, who Putin sees as its main threat to his Eurasianist vision.  Trump has even stated that he wouldn’t intervene to protect NATO allies if Russia invaded, which plays right into Putin’s hands to regain political control over eastern Europe.  It is no wonder Russia’s media outlets are so pro-Trump.  And there’s difficult to deny the foundational ideological synthesis between the American Alt-Right, European New Right, and Russian “conservatism” promoted by Dugin. Trump’s nativist, nationalist, protectionist, and “law and order” rhetoric is music to the ears of both this international white supremacist Alt-Right insurgence and America’s geopolitical foes abroad. They all have common cause, to fight Western pluralistic, multi-cultural “liberalism.”

Make America Great Again?  The evidence suggests otherwise.

About Matt Adams:

Husband and dog father.  Rust-belt Midwesterner trying to survive in the desert.  When I’m not wasting time on politics and sports, I work to ensure healthcare information systems are working as designed.

matt-adams

A Deplorable Election

Days ago, Hillary Clinton made headlines calling half of Donald Trump’s backers a “basket of deplorables.” She soon apologized for the statement, but only about the 50% portion of the remark.  Mike Pence countered that Donald Trump’s supporters were “hard working Americans.”  He further added, ““Let me just say from the bottom of my heart: Hillary, they are not a basket of anything, they are Americans and they deserve your respect.”

Frankly, it was a stupid thing for Hillary to say and Pence eloquently and smartly responded.  Of course, the media could not let Pence get one up, so Wolf Blitzer of CNN decided to bring back David Duke.  Blitzer tried to get Pence to acknowledge that David Duke was deplorable.  Pence declined and a minor firestorm erupted that Pence would not classify Duke and the Klan as “deplorable.”  However, that was false.  What Mike Pence actually said was that he wasn’t going to engage in name calling. He said that Duke had already been denounced and that their support was not wanted. Of course, we can argue as to Trump’s flippancy on David Duke, but there is zero evidence that Mike Pence has ever supported Klan members or pandered to them.

Anyone who knows Mike Pence and his history knows that Mike does not like negative campaigning.  He rejected it very publicly after his unsuccessful first election effort to unseat Phil Sharp (D-IN) writing an article, “Confessions of a Negative Campaigner” and publicly apologized to Sharp.  He refused to do so when running for Governor.  He has been forced into that role as the VP candidate, but he does not like to lower himself to name calling.  It was a cheap shot and it is an example of what gives journalists a bad name and low regard among Republican voters.

For weeks now, the Trump campaign has dogged Hillary Clinton about her health.  She falls (literally) ill and all there is a frenzy among Trump supporters of proof of their suspicions.  From all indications, she did suffer from pneumonia, resulting from allergies and exhaustion from the campaign schedule.  Trump remained surprisingly quiet and staff and surrogates were threatened to be silent.  Even so, the campaign is dogged with a lack of transparency and calls for release of health records – all the while, Trump refuses to release his tax returns.

It is a deplorable election with deplorable choices.  Hillary Clinton can’t keep track of her stories on emails and won’t divest herself from the Clinton Foundation, even though she says she will do so if she wins.  Trump can never keep any story straight. He has continually flip flopped on immigration, abortion, Planned Parenthood and now climate change.  He routinely just makes things up and is rarely held accountable – likely because there are so many that the impact of a single lie is not that seemingly significant.

When you look to third parties, Gary Johnson asked “What is Aleppo?” when it had been all over the news for weeks as a result of the humanitarian crisis from the Syrian Civil War.  His isolationism was revealed to be cluelessness. Jill Stein is facing criminal charges for playing protestor.  One who is to be the Enforcer and Executor of laws lacks any credibility if she ignores the law.  Then we have Evan McMullin – the only adult in the room.  Unfortunately, however, due to his late entry, he will be a on limited number of state ballots – and, sadly, not on mine although I fully support his candidacy.

It is a long 2 months and we haven’t seen the debates yet. Like Hawaiian Limbo, we will indeed see how low can you go. It’s going to be a grim few weeks.

On the subject of “deplorable” and the context of Hillary Clinton’s remarks, please welcome Matt Adams (no relation to me) as a guest columnist to Vocem Libertatis.  He will be detailing the origins of the alt right movement and their relationship to white supremacist, nationalist and the Russian power brokers.

How I Remember September 11, 2001

15 years ago today, I had just finished working out in the fitness center of the American United Life Tower – now One America – in Indianapolis.  I had just showered and was getting dressed when someone said that a plane had hit the World Trade Center.  By the time I got out, many were glued to the TV.  A second plane had hit the second tower. We all knew it had to be a planned terrorist attack.  I immediately suspected, as did many others, that al Qaeda was responsible as they had attacked the embassies previously.  Of course, we soon learned that in fact they were the perpetrators.  We were completely stunned as watched the towers engulfed in flame and smoke and were horrified as people jumped to their deaths to escape the flames.

I shortly went upstairs to work.  Everyone was glued to internet news.  One Tower collapsed and we were completely dismayed.  The second tower collapsed and we were sickened.  We learned that the Pentagon had been hit.  While there was no evidence there was a threat to our building – the 2nd tallest in Indianapolis – we could not help but worry that we might be next and what was next.  Who was safe? How large was this attack?  Were my wife and children safe?  We were released to go home as no one was able to get work done.

The world changed that day in so many ways.  I remember days of no contrails in the skies and no planes overhead. Shortly afterward came the anthrax attacks.  No one felt safe.  We all lived in fear.  We were horrified at what had happened in New York and Washington.  Yet stories of courage came from those hours.  We heard of the bravery of first responders in New York.  The stories of survival from the towers and in the Pentagon.  Perhaps most stunning was the story of Flight 93 and courage of those passengers who likely gave their lives to save others from another attack.

We were unified as a nation in resolve as firefighters raised a flag over the ruins of the towers.  We rallied around the President – who had not won the popular vote in the last election – and were heartened by his grabbing a bullhorn and letting the terrorists know that would hear from us and that they would be held responsible.  Parties didn’t matter. We were all Americans and we had been attacked.

The fear from that day changed us in many ways.  We demanded that the government deal with terrorists aggressively and surrendered many freedoms.  I most cognizant of the scrutiny we now endure to board a plane as I write this in the air today.  We enacted laws like the Patriot Act which gave our government the ability to intrude upon our privacy in a much greater way.

I guess it’s easy for me to reflect upon my own reactions and memories today being in the air on this day.  I certainly had some trepidations about flying today.  However, what happened 15 years ago is so much larger than our personal memories, fears and reflections.  3,000 Americans perished suddenly that day.  They went to work like any ordinary day. They had no idea it would be their last day.  Their families had no idea they would never see their loved ones again.  None of these had anything to do with the complaints of the terrorists.  They were ordinary Americans.

In addition to the ordinary citizens that were lost, many first responders died doing what they were trained to do – save lives, sometimes at the expense of their own.   Many more have died since due to diseases from inhaling toxic fumes and dust from the debris as they sought to find survivors and recover the remains of those we lost.

As we reflect this day on the events of 15 years ago, think about the families who lost and may we be ever mindful of those we love.  Don’t take them for granted.  Don’t put off telling them how much you care.

Also as we reflect on the events of that day, I remember vividly how we came together as a nation.  No one decided to use the national anthem as a political statement.  People realized that as Americans we are all in this together.  We stood as God Bless America was sung and many, including me, were brought to tears.  We did not focus on our differences.  We focused on what we had in common.

I don’t mean to minimize racial divides in our country or the inequities that are present.  We are not perfect and we need to address those issues.  However, need to reclaim that sense of what we have in common.  We need to remember why we pursue justice and equality – because that is our heritage.  We need to remember that those 3,000 died not because of what is wrong with America.  They died because the perpetrators hated everything that unites us.  The dead included many faiths, races, LGBT and straight.

The rancor of this election has had little to do with our shared values.  We need to embrace those values – without losing the sense of urgency to address wrongs in our society or wrongfully denying they exist.

Let us remember those who left us that day.  Let us remember the courage of those sacrificed all to save lives.  Let us also remember for whom they sacrificed themselves – fellow Americans of all faiths, races, preferences and genders.  For those in the NFL protesting today, you picked the wrong day. It’s pretty clear you don’t understand what the flag means.  Ask those firemen.

 

 

Re-Launch: I’m back

launch-dec07

 

The silence is over.  I’m back.  As many of my social media followers know, I didn’t disappear and have been very active there.  Unfortunately, life has not permitted the opportunity to write long and more thoughtful articles. It has also been difficult for me to put into useful discourse our current political situation.  As I mentioned in the Writer’s Block post, I’ve had numerous drafts that have not been posted that I just didn’t feel properly expressed our current situation.  Having been sucked into too many meaningless social media discussions, I realize the time for more reflective writing has come.

After many years of progress and change in the areas of discrimination and race relations, our nation is currently experiencing a crisis in race relations – police shootings, shootings of police, riots in Baltimore and Milwaukee, both Presidential candidates accusing each other of bigotry and now the drama of Colin Kaepernick and now other athletes kneeling or raising fists (on September 11th of all days).  I will be posting a series of articles on race relations.  Our handling of this issue is critical to our future liberty.

I’ll also be posting extensively on the future of the GOP and the alt right.  I have the privilege of posting a guest writer on this subject.  Look for it Monday,

An End to Writer’s Block

Sorry for the absence over the last few weeks.  For those who follow me on Twitter and Facebook, you know I have not met with doom or foul play.  Between working on campaigns, despair over their results and having to take care of some matters in my personal life, it has unfortunately left me with little time and a severe case of writer’s block.  I had numerous articles that never left the draft stage.  However, don’t despair.  The stupor has cleared.  Articles will be forthcoming soon.  There is work to be done.  Freedom is on the line. I will not be silent.

Dr. Ben Carson Officially Suspends Campaign

At CPAC to day, as expected, Dr. Ben Carson announced that he was suspending his his campaign for the Republican nomination for President. Two days ago, Dr. Carson announced that he saw no viable path forward and would not be participating in the debate, but did not formally announce a suspension in his campaign. Carson anounced earlier today that he will serve as national chairman for My Faith Votes and pledged to continue to be involved in the election.

 

See Breakng Story from Politico

New Trump Fraud – $5.2 Million Supposedly Raised for Veterans Doesn’t Exist

Trump skipped the debate in Iowa in January to hold a “fundraiser” for veterans after his public spat with Megyn Kelly and Fox News.  His alternative event was controversial as he originally was looking to partner with the Wounded Warrior Project which had fallen under heavy scrutiny over its internal spending.   As this site previously reported, on the DAY of the event Trump registered the domain DonaldTrump forVets.com and directed contributions to the Donald J. Trump Foundation with no specific veterans organizations listed as beneficiaries.

Trumpvets

In fact, some veterans organizations specifically refused to participate declining to be a political prop for Trump.  Trump claimed to have raised $6 million for veterans which included $1 million from himself.  Here is the webpage that was tossed up on the day of the event.  It is still up requesting donations and claims to have raised $1,670,000 online.

Trumpwebpage

 

CNN investigative reporter Drew Hicks investigated the distribution of these funds.   He was told by the Trump campaign that the information was available on their website. It is not. He went to the known beneficiaries and to date has only been able to track down $800,000 that has been distributed.  This leaves $5.2 million unaccounted for.  Where’s the money Donald? Is this how you’re going to take care of our vets?

 

CNN Investigative Report on the Missing $5.2 million

Day 6 – This Was Our Finest Hour