Opening Up the Identity Conversation

Men should have the same right to opine on gender issues as women. Having an identity doesn’t give you total authority over certain issues.

Source: Christian Alejandro Gonzalez, Rejecting the Left’s Conversation-Ending Identitarianism | The American Conservative

Agreed. And first principle.

But let’s open this up:

  1. Atheists and agnostics should have the same right to opine on religious issues as the faithful.
  2. All Americans should have the same right to opine on Veteran’s affairs as those who have served.
  3. All people should have the same right to opine on accessibility issues as do those with disabilities.
  4. People of all ethnic backgrounds – including those of us who find ourselves insensitively lumped into the derogatory catch-all category of “white” – should have the same right to opine on racial issues as do people of color.
  5. People of all sexual preferences – including monogamous heterosexuals – should have the same right to opine on sexuality as those identifying themselves as lesbian, bisexual, gay, transgendered, queer, asexual, or polyamorous.
  6. People of any one culture should have the same right to experience and adopt aspects of any other culture as those who are born into or who have hereditary ties to that culture.

The minute you start quashing debate about any of these issues, you have killed democracy and ended the American experiment. That’s a line we cannot afford to cross, even at the cost of causing offense and even hurt feelings.

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The Comey Dilemma 

The discussions about the Steele dossier — which Comey recounts for the first time in his book — are among a number of explosive revelations in “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership,” a 304-page tell-all in which the former FBI director details his private interactions with Trump as well as his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Source: James Comey’s memoir: Trump fixates on proving lewd dossier allegations false – The Washington Post

I am conflicted about Comey and his memoir. On the one hand, Comey may have information and insights that could help us better understand the character and motives of the current Oval Office occupant.

On the other, I am uncertain of Comey’s own character and motives surrounding his actions around both the Clinton e-mail debacle and the Russia investigation. To what degree is Comey serving the Law, the Constitution, and the Republic? To what degree was he driven by the unseen hand of personal ambition or political design?

We simply do not know.

Fortunately, the issues upon which Comey expounds need not be adjudicated in his memoir. We have Robert Mueller, his team, an as-yet-neutral Justice Department, and a small but elite corps of independent journalists on the case.

But we need to know about James Comey. We need to know how much he can be trusted. And, ideally, we need to know before the wheels of history have made the question and Comey aught more than a footnote in the drama of the Siberian Candidate.

Dances with Soviets

The president was boasting of the “great intel” he receives when he discussed intelligence provided by a U.S. partner.

Source: Trump revealed highly classified information to Russian foreign minister and ambassador – The Washington Post

I cannot help but think about the Gipper at moments like this.

Ronald Reagan is spinning in his grave with such speed that we can almost hear it in Oxnard.

This is No Longer about Trump, or Congress

I believe that many of them are deeply conflicted. That in the leather chairs of Capitol Hill at the end of each of these long Spring days, there is no shortage of Republican legislators sitting alone in their offices or committee rooms, drinking scotch, and cogitating on their futures.

I suspect that there may be a few who have taken campaign coin from Trump or his supporters who are wondering exactly how long they need to “stay bought” before they can begin responding to the popular cry.

And, in the end, I think most will need irrefutable, impeachment-quality evidence to shift their support.

No, Mr. Frum. This is no longer about the President, or even Congress. It is now about the facts.

The future of President Donald Trump, of the Republican Party, and possibly the nation, now lies in the hands of Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller and relies upon the moral fortitude of a small handful of men and women at the Department of Justice, and their ability to ascertain the facts in the face of a President who seems determined to hide them.

Freedom’s Silent Verse

“Lady Liberty” by Jorge Pintado

The point of America was to make a place for all people who need and love liberty, not just the people we like. To love America is to love all who seek its shelter and would guard her treasures.

Let us ever repeat the words of Emma Lazarus engraved on the foundation of the Statue of Liberty. But let us not hesitate to remind the tempest-tossed that the price of freedom is a commitment to defend the freedom of others – even those with whom you disagree.

Eyes Wide Open

The explosive rise in the U.S. incarceration rate in the second half of the twentieth century, and the racial transformation of the prison population from mostly white at mid-century to sixty-five percent black and Latino in the present day, is a trend that cannot easily be ignored.

Source: The First Civil Right – Hardcover – Naomi Murakawa – Oxford University Press

Princeton’s Naomi Murakawa begins her provocative new book The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America with a jarring statistic: “One black man in the White House; one million black men in the Big House.” Her premise is even more jarring. Rather than blame postwar tough-on-crime conservatives for the incarceration epidemic, she documents a case that lays our current prison problems at the doors of the Truman, Johnson, Carter, and Clinton administrations.

If there is one shortcoming with Murakawa’s analysis, it is that it focuses on the federal prison system. What this book begs for is a companion volume – or, indeed, library – to document what happened at the state prison and local jail systems in America.

Nonetheless, this book should be a clarion for us to examine the Incarceration Nation issue as a bipartisan matter. I have little stomach for identity politics as it exists in America today, but victimhood fatigue or ideological differences must neither blind us to uncomfortable facts, nor deter us from the search for answers.

We have too many people in prison, yet we cannot afford to retain dangerous people on our streets or return them there once paroled. The time has come to find a better path that addresses these two challenges than simply more bars, more walls, and more guards.

To Arms?

What we’ve seen in Paris this weekend is not an attack, or an incident, or a tragedy. It’s war, and war, like it or not, is fought with guns. Because terrorism works precisely by striking at random, it’s silly to expect the police to be able to protect everyone at all times. When there are men out there teaming up to kill you, the rational and prudent thing to do is to at least make sure you have a chance to fight back.

Source: What Happened in Paris is War, and the Only Way to Fight a War is With Firearms. If You Live in Europe, Get a Gun. – Tablet Magazine

Food for thought.

Let me say up front that I don’t think you end terrorism simply by arming your populace. Terrorist use a range of weapons and tactics, and a pistol – even a .45 – won’t stop them all.

But it is pitifully easy for a terrorist to acquire a gun, even in countries where private ownership of firearms is strictly circumscribed. All a terrorist need do to inflict dozens of casualties is to find someplace with no cops, release the safety, and open fire.

Let us, for the moment, ignore the author’s overt point and delve into his meta-message: in a war against an enemy able to bypass formal national and civil defenses to inflict casualties against the populace, government monopoly on the ownership of firearms is inadequate and perhaps indefensible.

At the very least, this opens the door for auxiliary and private security forces, with trained and licensed personnel, to carry firearms. Would the Copenhagen attacks have succeeded if Dan Uzan had been armed while standing watch outside the synagogue? What if the guards at the Bataclan had been packing, and had known what to do when trouble showed up toting AK-47s?

France, much less Europe, is not ready for an armed populace. They probably won’t be until we in America can find a better way to retain our firearms as a bulwark against tyranny while eliminating accidental deaths and curtailing gun homicides. Accidental gun deaths in the US last year claimed five times more lives than the terrorists did in Paris last weekend, and that alone inveighs against just selling a gun to every man-Jacques in the street.

But the asymmetrical threat of terror demands asymmetrical responses that, if nothing else, raises the difficulty and cost of terrorist acts. Armed protection in public gathering places is a good start.

But the real issue is that it is time for the leaders of Europe to stop relying upon time-honored tools forged to meet different threats. It is time to get creative and a little ruthless, to come up with ways to make terror too costly for ISIS to imagine. And the answer is not airstrikes. How many more innocents must die before Europe truly understands that armies, police, constraints on speech, and appeasement of Islamists do not constitute a defense against the most serious threat Europe faces today?