Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Conservatives shouldn't support Trump

I like the slogan on Donald Trump's hats: "Make America Great Again."

The sentiment strikes a chord with most conservatives, who fear that our nation is in the midst of a great decline. A recent article in Fortune magazine highlighted several reasons to worry, noting that some say we're "overstretched militarily, ill-prepared technologically, at-risk financially, or lacking dynamism in the face of influential, new competitors."

So when a legendary billionaire comes along promising to reverse all of that, people take notice. Everyone from Alabama's Senator Jeff Sessions to the New England Patriot's Tom Brady have been seen sporting Trump's hat.

But while conservatives should certainly support the message, we shouldn't support the man.

Before conservative readers dismiss this opinion as just another attack from the Republican Party establishment, know this: I'm one of you – a movement conservative who thinks the party's bosses have wheeled and dealed our nation to the precipice. I regularly write about how the establishment is embarrassingly weak, often at odds with true conservatism, and sometimes even traitorous to the party's own platform.

I'm no late-comer, either. When I was 20-years old I briefly left college to work on Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign in 1996 (even then the establishment dismissed his warnings about illegal immigration and ridiculed his proposal for a border fence).

To paraphrase Barbara Mandrell, I was tea party when tea party wasn't cool, and I've been in the movement ever since. So you won't see any Bush, Christi, or Kasich bumper stickers on my car. But you won't see any Trump stickers, either.

It's not that I find Trump's proposals or even much of his rhetoric unsound or distasteful. We need that wall, and I'm tired of playing nice with liberals.

What I have a problem with is Trump's liberal record – an extreme liberal record that should disqualify him from being the conservative party's nominee for president.

For instance, one of the most egregious violations of liberty in recent years was the Supreme Court's decision in Kelo v. City of New London. The justices ruled that eminent domain could be used to seize private property not just for public uses like building roads or bridges, but to sell to developers in hopes of gathering higher taxes from whatever they build. Want to keep the farm in your family? Sorry, they said, the county can seize the land and sell it to a Ford dealership.

So what did Trump think about that decision?

"I happen to agree with it 100 percent," Trump said on Fox News after the ruling in 2005. "If you have a person living in an area that's not even necessarily a good area, and government ... wants to build a tremendous economic development, where a lot of people are going to be put to work ... now, I know it might not be their choice, but move the person to a better place and yet create thousands upon thousands of jobs and beautification and lots of other things, I think it happens to be good."

So much for private property (by the way, New London seized the homes, but the development was never built).

Then there was that time Trump said he was "very pro-choice" during an appearance on "Meet the Press" in 1999. He also wrote that he supported an assault weapons ban in his book, "The America We Deserve." Members of the National Rifle Association, and those who pay attention to this issue, know that such a ban would actually grab most rifles used for hunting and home defense since the definition is so vague.

Trump also told Larry King that he was "very liberal when it comes to health care" and that he even believed in "universal healthcare."

Trump was even a registered Democrat as recently as 2009, and let's not even count how much money he has donated to Democrats, or shall we say, contributed to campaigns to defeat conservatives.

Sorry, Trumpsters. You cannot square those words and deeds with conservatism. And while we should always welcome converts, we shouldn't trust them to be our leaders until they've proven themselves beyond a campaign.

Meanwhile, we can make America great again, but we'll have to do it without Donald Trump.

Friday, September 11, 2015

What did 9/11 have to do with the Iraq War? Probably more than you think.

Nearly everyone remembers where they were 14-years ago this morning, on September 11, 2001, the day America was attacked by Al-Qaeda and we were pulled into a war in Afghanistan.
Many can remember where they were on March 19, 2003, the day our military invaded Iraq.
History has taught that those dates are part of two distinctly separate actions; one was a war of necessity while the other was a war of choice. In retrospect, maybe so, but at the time many Americans sure thought – or felt, rather – that they were part of the same fight.
Don’t think so? Well, bear with me for a moment while I try to explain:
Imagine for a moment the world’s nations as simply a bunch of guys at a roadside bar. One of them, a man named Mr. America, is a prosperous, healthy, and handsome man. He’s blessed, of course, works hard for his family and is charitable in his community (for instance, he buys drinks for nearly everyone at the bar, even those who dislike him, and every time a fellow patron suffers misfortune, Mr. America is always there to help).
So one day Mr. America is having a drink at the bar watching the game on television when someone taps him on the shoulder. He turns around with a smile only to be sucker-punched by Mr. Afghanistan. 
He falls to the floor, out cold. The music stops, and the bar falls silent. Nobody had done that to Mr. America in decades, and everyone was waiting to see what would happen next. 
As he regains consciousness, Mr. America tries to get his his footing and figure out what happened. His lip is busted and his nose is broken. He tastes the blood in his mouth, and rises from the floor, red hot with anger. Through watery eyes he looks to the shady corner of the bar where most of the thugs hangout, and there he is, Mr. Afghanistan, standing proud and defiant, with a smirk on his face. He’s proud of what he did.
The guys standing around Mr. Afghanistan slowly step away, fearing the fight that’s coming. Mr. America walks over to that corner of the bar and proceeds to beat Mr. Afghanistan into a bloody pulp. 
After he’s finished, Mr. America looks up at the other guys in that shady corner. He’s breathing heavy and still reeling from being punched, unsure of who is going to hit him next. He’s not very popular in this part of the bar, to say the least. Could this be part of a coordinated fight? Is he about to be jumped again? He’s not sure, and he remains on edge.
“Everybody sit down and shut up!” Mr. America says. “Nobody do anything until I figure out what happened here, okay? If any of y’all so much as move a muscle, I’m going to start cracking skulls!” 
It's a dangerous part of the bar, full of thugs and near lunatics. Mr. America knows most of these guys pretty well, though, because he does business with some out of necessity. Some own a few gas stations in town, and Mr. America buys a great deal of fuel. He also has a little friend who won’t leave his spot at an old table because it was his grandfather’s seat, even though that part of the bar went bad a long time ago. 
They all do as he says and sit down ... except for one, a loudmouthed bully named Mr. Iraq. He and Mr. America had a pretty quick fight a few years earlier after Mr. Iraq was picking on one of the smaller guys in that part of the bar, one of the nicer ones who does business with Mr. America. Mr. Iraq got his clocked cleaned for that, and has never been able to get over it.  
“You deserved it, Mr. America,” sniped Mr. Iraq. “And there’s going to be more of that coming, because everybody over here hates you. And we’re going to kill your little friend whenever you leave. You just wait and see. ”
Just then, Mr. America noticed what looked like a knife in Mr. Iraq’s pocket.
Now, here’s an important part of the story: after Mr. America had beaten the crap out of Mr. Iraq years earlier, one of the conditions of letting him stay in the bar was they he couldn’t carry weapons like that, and had to let the bouncer search him. But the last few times Mr. Iraq came into the bar, he wouldn’t agree to a search and hassled the bouncer (The bouncer only looked big, and he really depended on Mr. America for nearly everything, even his salary). 
“Is that a knife in your pocket?” Mr. America asked. 
“No,” said Mr. Iraq. “Well, maybe it is. Yes, it is! Wait, no, it isn’t … I don’t know. You’re a bully! Death to Mr. America!”
Just then Mr. Saudi Arabia signaled Mr. America for his attention. “Pssst! Hey, Mr. America, it is a knife … a poison-tipped knife, actually. We’ve known about it for a long time and are all pretty worried that he might use it again, like he did on Mr. Kurdistan a few years ago.” Mr. America looked to the rest of the guys in that part of the bar and many of them nodded in agreement. 
“Death to Mr. America!” Mr. Iraq said again.
Even Mr. Britain, Mr. France, and Mr. Germany – three old guys who use to fight a great deal but who had settled down in recent years – agreed.  
“Oui, oui monsieur,” said Mr. France, who went back to his fruity drink and ignored everything that happened next.
“That Mr. Iraq fellow indeed has a knife, old chap,” said Mr. Britain.
“And we’ve heard that it’s dipped in poison, too,” said Mr. Germany.
“Death to Mr. America!” Mr. Iraq said once more. This time he was joined in his chant by a complete nut job named Mr. Iran.
Mr. America shook his head in disbelief. “Turn your pockets inside out, Mr. Iraq, or I’ll do it for you, and it won’t be comfortable.”
“Screw you! Death to Mr. America!”
Mr. America looked over to the bouncer. “Are you going to do anything about this?” he asked, but the bouncer pretended not to hear him and looked away.
Mr. America sighed. “Alright, everybody step back,” he said, and then did what any responsible man would do. He walked over to Mr. Iraq and proceeded to beat him to a bloody pulp as well. 
After it was all over, Mr. America didn’t find a poison-tipped knife, but he did find a small pocket knife, an order form for a switch blade, and a “to do” list that mentioned something about buying poison and gas and lots of other bad things. Mr. America called the cops to haul Mr. Iraq away, who, along with the bouncer, gave him a great deal of grief for beating up Mr. Iraq.
“You should have been more restrained, Mr. America,” the cops said. “Yeah,” said the bouncer. “I didn’t think Mr. Iraq was doing anything wrong, which is why I didn’t do anything to him. That Mr. America is such a bully.”
Mr. America then started to clean up the mess as best he could, and insisted on paying for whatever damage was caused. The bar went back to normal for a little while, but Mr. America kept having trouble with Mr. Iraq for many more nights.
So, what did 9/11 have to do with our war in Iraq?
Fear and anger.
That may seem like an unsophisticated rationale for a global military conflict, but such is the cause of nearly every fight in the history of mankind, large and small.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Second-hand screens are the second-hand smoke of modern parenting

If you’re reading this on your tablet while at your child’s soccer game, please put it down. You’re setting an ill-mannered example, and one that’s becoming an all-too-frequent sight in our communities. 
I was recently at dinner with my wife and noticed a couple sitting nearby; both were staring into their smartphones, seemingly oblivious to the evening’s ambiance … and to each other. It was sad.
Before that I saw a group of teenagers standing together at a nearby open-air mall; rather than talking they were all texting. It was perplexing.
More disturbing is how frequently I see elementary school-aged kids tapping away on their tablets when they could be experiencing the world around them. Rather than playing or watching sports, taking-in a performance, enjoying the outdoors, or simply developing an attention span, many children are being mollified with devices. “Leave me alone, kid,” seems the message.  
None of my business, I suppose. You certainly have a right to gaze into those little glowing screens all you want, and allow your children to, as well. But what about when that right intrudes on the activity of others?
This is when good manners are needed.
It’s can be frustrating when parents allow their young children to bring tablets and smartphones to events where their devices become the center of attention, forcing other parents to place the real world into a hopeless competition with flashy electronic games they themselves chose not to bring.
What’s the big deal? Well, here are three recent examples of the challenge “second hand screens” bring to modern parenting:
While at a baseball game with my son, an entire little league team was sitting below us with their parents. Two players brought tablets, so most of the team played or watched video games the entire time. Some aggravated parents tried to get their kids to watch the baseball game, but how can a pitcher working out a fastball compete with the Hulk smashing everything?
At a recent children’s play, a parent allowed her toddler to play games on a tablet throughout the performance. By the end of the evening, the children in the row behind them hadn’t seen much of the show. They paid far more attention to the flashy screen in their line of sight.
And then there was the youth campout aboard the USS Alabama. A couple of the boys brought tablets, so eventually the group sat huddled together taking turns playing some sort of video game. “Boys,” I said. “You’re on a battleship – passageways, ladders, guns, canons – put down those games and go explore.”
The parents who supplied the tablets in all three examples seemed blissfully unaware of the distraction they caused. Meanwhile, other parents fumed.
On one hand, I can sympathize. Nobody likes being the uncool parent who won’t let their kids bring along their favorite devices. And as the father of five, I know how challenging it can be to bring small children to certain events. But on the other hand, we’re parents, and part of our job is teaching our children how to behave in public, how to set aside distractions and pay attention to something or to someone, and how to not interrupt the activity of others, especially in a group setting.
Giving a smartphone or tablet to your child may help you enjoy an event in peace, but it will likely distract other kids, and letting your kids bring electronics to outdoor events may defeat the very purpose that most other families are trying to achieve there.
So what should we do?
As with anything new, our society must adopt new standards of appropriate behavior. The previous generations had to learn proper telephone manners, and then all about second-hand smoke, for instance.
At one theater in Birmingham, ushers shine blinking lights on those who continue to use their devices during performances. That’s a good start. Elsewhere, coaches and event organizers could establish “screen free” policies before certain gatherings or events so everyone knows what to expect.

Whatever the approach, modern parents need to become aware that “second hand screens” are becoming a real nuisance to parents who are just trying to help our kids unplug and enjoy real life.
(First published on AL.com)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

What can we do about abortion? Support pro-life candidates and causes.

Talk is cheap. Actions speak louder than words. Practice what you preach.
We've all heard these idioms before, pointing us to these parallel principles: You must "do" something to change something, and everyone hates a hypocrite. Both admonitions were joined nicely in an email I recently received from a reader who took issue with my pro-life views: "Who's going to take care of those unwanted kids if abortion is outlawed? What have you ever done for unwed mothers? You're not pro-life. You're just pro-birth."
While diluted by his irrational defense of abortion because of whatever quality of life awaits the unborn (a twisted yet popular justification for the practice), the man made a point that all pro-life advocates should heed: What have we done – materially speaking – to help end abortion?
In the weeks since the Center for Medical Progress began releasing hidden videos exposing the horrors of Planned Parenthood, I have offered several suggestions on how to proceed. Praying, for starters, then raising pro-life children to slowly but surely steer our society away from this horror. But among the other things we must do – and right now – is to financially support pro-life candidates and causes.
Have you contributed to a candidate who is unequivocally pro-life, and who pledges to support pro-life policies and laws when elected? 
Have you regularly donated to pro-life causes, like crisis pregnancy centers or adoption agencies that help unwed mothers and orphaned children?
If you answered "no" to those questions, then you've just run afoul of those timeless idioms. Praying and teaching is invaluable. Speaking and writing against abortion is necessary. Taking time to protest is incredibly important (parents in Huntsville recently learned that the city allowed an abortion clinic to open across the street from their children's school, thanks to protestors).
All that helps, but as with any great conflict, we must also ensure that those who are in the thick of battle – our troops on the ground, so to speak – are supported and given the resources they need.
Pro-life candidates need money for advertisements to convince voters.
Crisis pregnancy centers and adoption agencies need money to pay their bills, hire staff, and fund their many invaluable services. Without donations, those services couldn't be offered, and unborn lives wouldn't be saved.
Planned Parenthood's supporters understand this, and they're pretty good at raising money – much better than our side, unfortunately.
A study of tax statements by Human Life International in 2006 found that single-issue pro-abortion organizations like Planned Parenthood raised approximately $9.2 billion, compared to only $552 million raised by pro-life causes like crisis pregnancy centers.
"Nine Planned Parenthood affiliates have a greater income than the leading pro-life fundraiser, the National Right to Life Committee," wrote Brian Clowes, director of research at Human Life International. "And 35 have a greater income than the second-ranked pro-life moneymaker, Priests for Life."
Newsmax recently reported that among Planned Parenthood's major boosters are Coca-Cola, Groupon, the March of Dimes, United Way, Nike, Starbucks, AT&T, and Verizon. Some of our nation's wealthiest families support Planned Parenthood, as well. The Media Research Center found that between 2010 and 2013, billionaire Warren Buffet gave Planned Parenthood more than $231 million, George Soros donated $18.4 million, and Bill Gates contributed $14.5 million.
Dozens of other wealthy families gave hundreds of millions more, adding to a treasure trove of contributions from businesses and individuals of all sizes and incomes.
Among those many contributors were ... you. That's right. In the wake of videos showing their employees sorting through mutilated body parts and slicing into the face of an unborn child to extract its intact brain (it's worth more whole, you see), Planned Parenthood's lobby in Congress fought unashamedly to keep millions of our tax dollars flowing into their vast bank accounts.
Pro-abortion activists weren't phased by the challenge at all; they knew that without money from donors and taxpayers, their incomes would decrease, their influence would wane, and their clinics would shut-down.
The same goes for us.
So, what can we do to end abortion? Try asking yourself, "What am I doing to financially support pro-life candidates and causes?" If you don't have an answer to that question, then it's about time you found one.
(First posted on Al.com)

Friday, August 28, 2015

Auburn University should sue the anti-religious zealots harassing its students

A small Wisconsin-based organization of atheists sent a letter to Auburn University this month demanding that it abolish the football team’s chaplaincy position, and threatening a lawsuit if the school doesn’t.
“Chaplains are given access to the team as a means for coaches to impose religion, usually Christianity, on their players,” reads the letter from the Freedom From Religion Foundation. “Under the circumstances, the chaplain’s actions are attributable to the university and those actions are unconstitutional.”
Auburn quickly released a brief statement explaining that having a team chaplain is quite normal and that he “isn’t an Auburn employee, and participation in activities he leads are voluntary.”
Rather than going on the defensive, the board of trustees should show these anti-religious zealots what happens when you grab an Auburn tiger by its tail. They should fire off their own letter threatening the group’s officers with lawsuits if they don’t cease their campaign of harassment and intimidation that’s clearly aimed at “prohibiting the free exercise” of religion on campus.
Americans are tired of being bullied by a handful of leftists, whose impact on our society far exceeds their size, any actual grievance, or any legal leg they have to stand upon. Instead of our public officials folding like cheap suits whenever these nuts mail a letter, we should start pushing back and protecting our rights.
As the old football saying goes, the best defense is a good offense. Besides, we’re on solid constitutional ground, and it’s about time we started acting like we were.
Our opponents are fond of quoting only a portion of the First Amendment that reads, “Congress shall make no law respecting the establishment of religion.” They fail to see that its original intent was to forbid something like the Church of England, whose ecclesiastical laws were interwoven with those of the state. It was not meant to prohibit religion altogether. Still, they never seem to complete the amendment’s full sentence, which includes “…or prohibit the free exercise thereof.”
They’re also fond of quoting the “wall of separation between church and state,” which isn’t actually in the constitution. It’s a brief line from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson explaining why he didn’t issue religiously themed White House proclamations like his predecessors. The letter was written in 1802, which was 11-years after the Bill of Rights was ratified protecting our religious liberties. It’s also important to note that two days after writing that letter, Jefferson attended a church service in the House of Representatives. So clearly we have misinterpreted the intended results of the point Jefferson was making, even if we were to grant his letter equal billing with the constitution, which we cannot.
“The constitution was never meant to prevent people from praying,” said President Ronald Reagan during one of his weekly radio addresses in 1982. “Its declared purposed was to protect their freedom to pray.”
So then, have we been effectively using the constitution to protect our religious freedoms, and those of the generations who’ll inherit whatever rights we manage to leave behind? In my opinion, no, we haven’t.
Far too often, we run away scared, fearing lawsuits and professional or personal repercussions. So we stop gathering at convenient locations at our work places. We stop discussing our faith at the water cooler. Far from wearing our religion on our sleeves, we’re nearly forced to hide it in a closet. And now they want to run the chaplain out of the lives of young student athletes who, in some cases, desperately need spiritual guidance during a very challenging time of their lives.
These letters and lawsuits have had a real and damaging “chilling effect” on one’s ability to freely exercise their religious beliefs, especially on college campuses.
So are we going to do something about it?
The Freedom From Religion Foundation should be sued, and if any liberal professors on the Plains join in their effort, they should be sued, too.
Our nation’s young people deserve to be protected from these bullies, who simply want to replace the student’s faith with their own. It’s time we took the ball back, and started making a few plays of our own.

Auburn University is a great place to start.
(First posted on Al.com)

Friday, August 21, 2015

What can we do about abortion? Raise pro-life children.

As our nation’s abortionists brace for the next video exposing the Nazi-like horror that is Planned Parenthood, the prolife community anxiously awaits confirmation that the revelations are having a major impact on our nation’s collective conscience.
“How could they not?” we ask ourselves. The videos show people sifting through mutilated limbs and organs of unborn babies, and then haggling over their quality and price as the slave traders did in centuries past.
Sadly, however, no major change in our collective conscience is coming anytime soon.
“The ‘sting’ video that surfaced last month of a Planned Parenthood official discussing the use of aborted fetal organs for medical research seems to have had relatively little impact either on views of abortion or of Planned Parenthood in general,” according to a YouGov survey taken after the videos were released. “Half the public retains positive impressions of the organization, though negative views have risen,” from 30 to 36 percent.
Only a six percent shift? How can Americans become aware of what’s happening inside Planned Parenthood’s killing rooms without their opinions significantly changing?
The answer partly lies in the values that were instilled in pro-choice supporters during their formative years. Maybe they were taught that an unborn child is just a lifeless clump of cells, as is often claimed, or that a baby isn’t really alive until it’s born. Maybe they were raised to think abortion was a form of birth control, and that unwed mothers shouldn’t be “punished with a baby,” as President Barrack Obama once infamously said. Perhaps their parents disparaged pro-life Americans, too, saying that we’re all religious extremists whose opposition is based upon superstition and sexism rather than any sort of medical science.  
You see, they’re pro-choice because they believe it’s the only rational, scientific, and compassionate position to have on the matter.
More than likely, though, Americans who were unmoved by the videos were probably just raised in households that didn’t care about the issue, or where mentioning something like abortion was taboo. Their understanding of abortion wasn’t shaped in their formative years, as was their understanding of academics, athletics, and even religion. They came to the issue like wet clay, and were shaped and hardened into pro-choice supporters by the hands of the abortion industry and its accomplices on the left. When they see the videos – if they see the videos – many will remain incapable of being convinced away from a perspective that has, somehow, become part of their identity.
Many parents are familiar with the famous verse from Proverbs: “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
So then, what can we do about abortion? We can follow the Bible’s advice and raise pro-life children, and here are six quick tips that may help.
First, break the taboo and allow the issue to be openly discussed in your home. Allow your kids to feel and express their disbelief, indignation, and sadness.
Second, lead by example and show your children how responsible adults support the pro-life movement visibly, vocally, and financially.
Third, never allow a pro-abortion message from pop-culture to go unchallenged. Silence can be misinterpreted as concurrence. Be unequivocal that abortion always takes an innocent life.
Fourth, when they’re mature, share the full horror of what abortion really is. If they’re ready, watch the videos from the Center for Medical Progress with them now.
Fifth, take them to a pro-life event, showing them that we’re not alone.  
Sixth, pray and study the science of life with them, showing them the link between valuing life and recognizing its existence.
These tips go for sons as well as daughters. Please strive to create an atmosphere of trust by promising that, should they ever face an unintended pregnancy, you’ll be there to support their choice to have your grandchild.
Discussing this issue is uncomfortable, but remember, there’s an aggressive pro-abortion community that’s ready and willing to fill the vacuum that your inaction may create.
Meanwhile, pray for strength and patience. There may be a majority supporting abortion today, but if we raise pro-life children, we can leave our nation one generation closer to ending abortion in America. 
(First published on AL.com)