Trump hopes for the Hollywood ending

trump-press-conferenceHollywood tells all kind of stories. One of the staples of the “Hollywood ending” is when the main character delivers a speech that changes the course of events of the tale. It’s the Aesop’s Fables morality moment where we all come to the same collective understanding that whatever had been happening up to that point was wrong. At the conclusion of the speech, nearly everyone has their road-to-Damascus conversion, admitting the error of their ways and vowing to make a change for the better.

Those moments make for some of the best stories, because we want to believe if the characters in the story can make a change for the best, we all can. Unfortunately, for many, art does not reflect reality.

trump-quote-on-mediaDuring his first press conference since the inauguration, Donald Trump verbally castigated the vast majority of the national press corps and the mainstream media for their creation of fake news. He called them out, right to their faces, vacillating between charismatic humor and stern scolding. He told them how disappointed he and fellow Americans are with their tone and willful obfuscation of the truth. He acknowledged that he will make mistakes and would expect the reporting to be bad; conversely, he said when he does something well, he would expect the media to report something good. Instead, as he noted, the press will take something good and make it sound bad and then take something bad and make it sound worse. He called that fake news.

Then, in a surprising moment of both sincerity and clarity, President Trump stated, “I want to see an honest press. I started off today by saying it’s so important to the public to get an honest press. The public doesn’t believe you people any more.” Had this been a Hollywood movie, the violins would have swelled and we would have been shown a montage of faces all coming to the realization they have been wrong. They would have turned to each other with reflective expressions, before standing and applauding the president for reminding them of who they are. What would follow, after a slow fade, would be a voice-over from one or more reporters, reading from their latest pieces, apologizing to their readers/listeners/viewers for abdicating their duties as dispassionate reporters of facts. They would beg for forgiveness, hoping to convey their sincere change of heart over how they had lost their way.

Sadly, this isn’t a Hollywood movie. The reporters, who would likely gush over a similar scene on the silver screen, were completely oblivious to the message. The hurt feelings and bruised egos were on display across the dial following the press conference. All they cared about was playing out the infantile schoolyard game of, “Oh, yeah, well I think you’re a big, stupid, poo-poo head!”

Am not. Are too!

Beyond the content discussed in President Trumps presser, what he told the media about their role and responsibility was a bulls-eye. The Founding Fathers understood the need to have a free and unfettered press to keep government honest. They toiled for months to craft the Constitution, built on the concept of three separate but co-equal branches of government. These three estates — Executive, Legislative and Judicial branches — were designed to have a specific set of checks and balances to ensure no branch could overrule the other.

But, in face of major concerns from several states about the need for greater constitutional protection for individual liberties, James Madison went to work on drafting the first 10 amendments to the Constitution. The Bill of Rights, as they are now known, lists specific prohibitions on governmental power, with the first protecting, among others, the freedom of the press. Many misinterpret this to mean, the press must publish whatever someone wants heard. This is absurd. There is no “right” to be heard. What the amendment secures is the protection of the press to be free from harm or imprisonment for saying/printing material that might be unfavorable to the government. None of the amendments are there to give people privileges; they are there to declare unalienable rights, which cannot be infringed upon by any part of the government.

As it relates to the press, the framers of our Constitution recognized, even with checks and balances in place, politicians could collude together to avoid following those enumerated rules for how our government should function. By granting the press immunity from government prosecution, they created, in effect, a fourth estate, which exists outside of government. They reasoned, when politicians might be tempted to act outside of the bounds of the Constitution, the press would shed light on those actions and the American public would be informed. Knowing the press is free from government persecution, the members of each branch of government would feel the weight of the all-seeing-eye of providence pressing down on them, helping to keep them on the straight and narrow.

Unfortunately, we have been witness to the slow erosion of the line separating the press and government. It’s become more important to curry favor and keep getting the invites to the social events, rather than being objective with the facts. News is no longer reported. It’s crafted. It’s honed. Impressions can be made by leaving certain facts out while embellishing others. The purveyors of news have, for the most part, become mouthpieces for the sides they like. When members of the press choose the party they like over the party they do not, it is impossible to expect an objective reporting of facts. For all intents and purposes, the majority of the national press corps and the mainstream media has morphed into a propaganda wing for “their” side — the majority of which leans Left.

There is nothing wrong with writing opinion pieces, but that is not the role of the press. I do not classify myself as a “reporter” or a “journalist.” I am not just giving a chronology of events as they occurred. I do look at the facts, then I filter them through knowledge and experience. Once I have had a chance to digest the context, I provide my own thoughts and ideas, tempered with logic and reason, on the news of the day. Like a skilled debater, I am trying to convince my audience, through explanation and illustration, that my point-of-view is solid and above reproach.

This is the problem with the mainstream media. Too many have become covert op-ed writers, not interested in just laying out facts, but instead, creating a narrative, disguised as news, meant to sway the audience. The moment a journalist moves in that direction, they have willfully abdicated their role as reporters of the truth.

It’s not too late to hope for the Hollywood ending. But, as long as the press corps believes their role is to shape the news rather than report on it, they will continue to be manipulated into defending their egos when their machinations are revealed. The more the press loses their mind over the actions of Donald Trump, the less the public will believe anything they have to say.

President Trump challenged them to provide the truth to the American public. If it were a movie, that’s all it would take.

Two sides of the same coin

Building on my most recent piece, I want to explore further the current climate within the electorate. Without a doubt, the last two (and soon to be three) election cycles for president are no longer about record. We are not interested in the most qualified, either. We don’t care about experience or integrity. All we care about is which candidate is going to make us feel something.

When I say “we,” I mean a rising majority of those who even bother to vote. Personally, I still hold tight to the belief that record and consistency matter. I dislike identifying with a party, often choosing to describe my views as either Constitutionalist or Originalist. Whenever the government wants to do something, I ask, where does the Constitution provide for that? What was the intent of the Founding Fathers as it relates to such an idea? We have volumes of writings (the Federalist Papers) that provide the context of every word in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. If anyone wants to take time to read their words, you will immediately know how they felt about the role of government.

Regardless of how someone looks, whether they are short or tall, male or female, black or white (or any other shade), I care only about the content of their character. Do they follow through on their word? Are they honest? Do they conduct themselves as though they understand they are a civil servant and not a lord over their own personal fiefdom? If their position on any given subject has changed, can they identify the moment when new knowledge or experiences helped to reshape their views?

In some ways, it’s similar to choosing a mate. I love my wife. Though it started with feelings we had for each other, we didn’t base our relationship on just those. We stayed together and grew stronger because of so many shared views and interests. But, she is not a clone of me, nor I of her. As shocking as this may sound, we don’t agree with each other 100% of the time. We can rub each other the wrong way. We each have our own interests that are less appealing to the other. Yet, she is my best friend in the whole world. I love her intellect, her wit and her sarcasm. Our incompatibilities far out-weight any dissimilarities, but it took time and effort to dig deep to make sure we were basing our future on a rock solid foundation.

We all know or have experienced relationships built only on a shallow view of the other person. Whenever we have opted to put importance on the physical (or the monetary), those relationships disappoint and fall apart. The halls of family courts across the nation are littered with couples separating over “irreconcilable difference.” How many of them realized only after getting married that they really didn’t have enough in common to build a life around? They didn’t take the time to look at their situation logically and reasonably. I’m not saying emotion or passion isn’t a factor, it just shouldn’t be the only one!

In 2008, we saw the first case of this phenomenon in politics when a young, naive and relatively unknown junior senator was able to capture the imagination of the electorate and rocket to the presidency without any in-depth vetting or qualifications. Barack Obama was young, articulate and exciting. We heard over and over about how historic it would be to elect the first black president in the United States. We put looks over substance and it was exciting! Record voter turn-out showed the country was caught up in the euphoria of such a candidate. He became as much a celebrity as he did the leader of the free world. He based his campaign on hope and change and the masses loved how that made them feel.

Enter the seven-year itch.

The electorate has soured on the surface layer fluff and no longer has any excitement for their chosen mate. The problems of seven years ago are either still in place or are much worse. The national debt has doubled from a little over $9 trillion to almost $19 trillion, the workforce participation race hasn’t been this low in over 30 years and 45% of those who do work are not even paying a dime in federal income tax. We are speeding headlong into a complete collapse of the healthcare system due to the exchanges going bankrupt because of the failed ponzi scheme that is the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Illegals pour into our nation unfettered, loan wolf attacks from terrorists are rising and civil unrest in many cities is reminiscent to what led to the riots of the 60s.

That’s when the next “looker” catches our eye from across the room. And just like seven years ago, the electorate is glomming onto the candidate who most makes them feel something. Instead of hope and change, we now just want to make America great again. Fueled by massive unpopularity for anyone else considered to be a career politician, the celebrity candidate, who also happens to be an outsider, is like the bright colored bauble hypnotizing the glee-faced toddler. It doesn’t matter what positions Donald Trump has held in the past, it only matters what he says he’s going to do. And contrary to some pundits out there, he is building a huge coalition of followers across several key demographics who themselves want to feel great again.

I have no crystal ball. Should Trump win the nomination and then go on to win the presidency, he may turn out to be exactly what this country needs to pull out of the socialism dive and get back to the tenents of the Constitution. Or he may turn out to be the accelerant that brings our nation crashing to its knees. There is no way to know for sure.

But we are not increasing the odds of a successful relationship by never going beyond the superficial. Trump followers are in the infatuation stage. It’s how our brains are wired. The reward pathways increase our excitement and joy when stimulated. The better something or someone makes us feel, the more we want it. Like lab rats, we will keep pressing the lever that releases the pellet for as long as the reward is delivered.

Make America great again! Who doesn’t feel a sense of pride at that slogan? We don’t care if the answers for how he will make that happen are shallow and superficial. It feels good and it feels like winning and we all like to win. George Patton once said, “When you were kids, you all admired the champion marble shooter, the fastest runner, the big league ball players, the toughest boxers … Americans love a winner and will not tolerate a loser. Americans play to win all the time. I wouldn’t give a hoot in Hell for a man who lost and laughed.”

Well, we’ve watched Obama laugh (bow, fold, cave, lead-from-behind) and we don’t like it. We want to win. But Obama once made everyone feel like we could all experience hope and change in our lives. Now we are trading that slogan in for the new one because we want to be great…again! The underlying driver of this year’s primary is the same as in 2008. It’s two sides of the same coin.

What no one really knows is whether or not we are playing heads they win, tails we lose.

 

The Ivory Tower of Pisa — Welcome to PCU

The 2015-16 school year started a few months ago. It was my turn to spend a day offering my wisdom and experience in the day-to-day activities of the students. As I walked into the first classroom, I felt like I had been transformed into the role of Arnold Schwarzenegger in the movie, Kindergarten Cop. Everywhere I turned, it was mayhem. One girl kept yelling, “Mine!” Another child was sprawled on the floor, refusing to listen to anyone. There were three boys in matching shirts shoving a fourth, telling him his color didn’t match and he couldn’t stand with them.

As I made my way through this throng of wild and emotionally charged students, I found the teacher. To my surprise, she wasn’t doing anything to rein in the chaos. Instead, she issued one affirmation after another about the importance of feelings and embracing them. She continued to let the students know, free expression of their emotions is what made them special.

Befuddled, I left to see if I could help with phys ed.

When I arrived, I saw a group of students shooting baskets. Some were going in easily. Others could not even hit the backboard. After a few moments, the coach blew his whistle, called them over and told them how outstanding they did. He reminded them that results are not what mattered, but that they tried real hard. He then added, declaring someone a winner was tantamount to saying everyone else was a loser, making such a statement both hurtful and unfair. As all the students smiled, he concluded by saying the important thing to remember was being part of one big village where everyone remembers their place. At that, he handed each of them a gold star and told them to get changed.

I headed for another classroom, hoping I’d be more help there. As I entered, I was delighted to see the topic being discussed was the formation of our nation and the role the Founding Father’s played in developing the Bill of Rights. The teacher was discussing the Second Amendment. As she talked, I realized she was quoting it incorrectly. She told the students the amendment called for the right to create a militia and only those in the military had a right to be armed. She smiled sweetly and added that it made sense to let the Army have that power and the Founders were very smart to make sure no one could take away the means for the military to protect the people. I began to interject, but was quickly shushed. She told me the First Amendment didn’t give me the right to create a climate of disagreement within the room. She said the Founding Fathers understood a need for harmony and to create a safe place to be free of harassing ideas and hurt feelings.

I turned on my heels and left. I couldn’t believe what these first-time students were being taught. I headed to another room, my thoughts whirling through my head. This time I entered a room where the discussion was basic economics. On the board was a lone stick figure, drawn rather large and with a big sack in his hand and a dollar sign on it. Next to it was written, “The 1%.” Underneath the figure, as though perched on the top of a pyramid, two lines created a triangular wedge, where dozens of smaller stick figures were drawn. None of them were holiding anything in their hands. Next to them was written, “The 99%.”

The man teaching the class then explained that there are a select few in the community, represented by the lone stick figure, who were lucky and able to take home more wealth than others. He went on to caution them not to think that the 99% work less or not at all. On the contrary, he told them, many who are not as fortunate work even harder, but have more of their money taken away by the 1%. Because of such fortune, it was only right that those with less should get their fair share, to create an equal and balanced society. He said it was important, in a healthy society, that those with exceptional gifts, should give to others, based on their needs.

I interjected. I pointed out that wealthy individuals in our country, by an overwhelming majority, had earned their wealth through hard work, long hours and taking risks on innovative ideas. Because of that, they are able to provide jobs to many others. The teacher was polite and allowed me to finish. He then addressed the class. “See boy and girls? This is what we’ve been talking about. This myth of success is designed to keep the 1% from sharing with those less fortunate. They don’t want to give back to others after so much was given to them.” He shook his head with an air of condescension. “Boys and girls, let’s illustrate and you tell me which is fair. When Johnny goes out to the playground, he has all the kickballs, while everyone else has none. No one but Johnny can play. But, if Johnny gives a ball to each student, everyone gets to play. Which way is better?” The room erupted with cheers about Johnny sharing with everyone.

I tried to explain that taking something that belonged to someone else was theft. If someone chooses to share, that makes them a charitable person, but to make them give away their possessions was the same as stealing. The teacher, with less patience this time, pointed out that it is only stealing if one person takes from another and then keeps it for themselves. But, if someone was helping to redistribute wealth from the more fortunate, then that would be the true definition of charity.

I left. It was disheartening. Everything seemed upside down and backwards. I decided to try one last classroom to see if I would be of any help.

When I entered the last classroom, the teacher had moved all the desks and chairs to the edges of the room. The students were playing some kind of game. My heart began to lift. As I came closer, the teacher continued talking, holding her arms out wide, moving in a slow circle, while children moved out of her way. “Safe spaces are very important. Think of it as your special barrier surrounding you on all sides. It is all yours and only you get to choose what can be allowed to enter. You have the right to stop people from judging you, hating on you or even not liking you. It’s a bullyproof space where you can be safe from anyone different than you.”

The kids’ eyes were wide in awe as they smiled, imagining the power of their own safe spaces. She went on. “When large groups of people share the exact same views, it can be even more powerful. For example, no one likes guns because of how dangerous they are. When we all come together, we can create a safe zone where no one will be allowed to bring in something so threatening.” They were delighted, filling the room with the, “Ooos,” and, “Ahhs,” of children being shown a wondrous, magical object.

My heart fell. What was this person teaching these children? They were not being challenged to see multiple points of view. They weren’t being exposed to various cultural differences or traditions. They weren’t even allowed to hear criticisms or learn how to accept skepticism of their own ideas. They were being fooled to believe they would never have to listen to anyone else who was different. Her lesson ran contrary to the entire foundation of the philosophy of education!

Before I could object, they formed a circle and began to sing, “Safe Space,” from the creators of South Park. As they finished, they were all filled with that same sense of inner pride and empowerment as before. I could not control myself. “Don’t you understand that song is a parody?!”

They looked at me with quizzical stares. The teacher cleared her throat and was polite (too polite) and asked me to explain what I meant.

“Parody!” I yelled. “To imitate something for the purpose of ridicule or satire! It’s meant to get you to see just how silly the notion of a ‘safe space’ is by pretending to be in favor of it. Don’t you see?”

A stern look fell over her face. She put her arms out and came toward me. “You are not allowed in my safe space. It’s time you left.” She continued advancing, swinging her arms. I had no choice to but to retreat from her, not wanting to be hit by her ridiculous gesticulations. “You are the reason we have to protect these children,” she snarled.

I left. I had never before experienced such a display in my life. These students were not being given any of the tools necessary to deal with reality. They were being told their invisible bubble would be an ever-present, all-protective layer, keeping them from having to be challenged, questioned, offended or harmed by anyone, nor forced to relate to different races, origins, religions, traditions or views for the rest of their lives if it made them uncomfortable. They had become cry-bullies, embracing a life of victim-hood and self-imposed disenfranchisement. It was an entire generation of Regressive Leftists, ready to abandon all of the hard-fought gains of those who came before, in exchange for the cozy, warm blanket of their own ignorance.

On my way out, I noticed a poster on the wall with a picture of Shakespeare in the center and the familiar red circle and slash overlaid. Underneath were the words, “No more old, dead, white guys.”

No, for all its similarities, I had not visited a preschool. This was a college campus, where the once shiny Ivory Tower of high-minded, thoughtful and enlightened principles of education had given way to a dingy, leaning, corrupted and crumbling structure, ready to fall under the weight of it’s own irrelevance.

As I left the campus, I recalled the words of Aristotle, who reminded his students repeatedly that the highest virtue in the pursuit of knowledge was courage, because, without it, how could anyone embrace any other virtues at all?

Until we teach our young to be courageous in the face of Regressive Leftist cry-bullies (and their nonsense), the world of Academia will forever remain the final resting place of the weak, the insecure, the petulant, the self-absorbed and the pathetic, always holding a stack of victim cards, with no one left willing to care enough to listen to their plight.

Don’t our children deserve better?

 

 

 

It’s time to remember we are a Republic

As a complement to the piece I wrote last week regarding Chick-fil-A, I wanted to delve into an area that wasn’t specifically mentioned prior.  This area deals with the difference between the actions a private citizen is free, and protected by the Constitution, to undertake versus the actions of our political leaders, who, as still presumed by our Constitution, are part of our representative Republic.

It’s important to note that we do not live in a Democracy — not a true Democracy.  If we did, we would have to embrace the tenants of mob rule.  If we were a Democracy, then the majority would get its way every time.  There are no minority rights.  If a town consists of 100 people and 51 decide it’s time for a hanging, well, too bad for someone.  The other 49 could cry out until their throats went raw and it wouldn’t matter.  Democracy is two wolves and a sheep deciding what’s for dinner.

In a Republic, the majority rules, but never at the expense of the rights of the minority, which are protected within our Constitution and the Bill of Rights.  No matter how much you may dislike the opinion of someone else, they have the same right to speak their opinion as you have to voice opposition to it, so long as neither person’s rights are infringed.

Our particular form of government goes one step further by allowing its citizens to elect representatives to help manage the day-to-day operations of our nation.  Hence, we live in a representative Republic.

But these representatives have slowly been forgetting their role is to represent the majority of its citizens, with respect the rights of the minority.  In this way, their job as an elected official is to reflect the desires of his or her constituency, so long as those desires do not step on the rights of others.

This is the hallmark of the freedoms and liberties we have in the United States of America.  Think how powerful this ideology is when compared to socialist, marxist, and communist nations.  We actually believe that any individual is free to live however they choose so long as they do not cause harm to another citizen’s right to life, liberty, and property.  We do not submit to the notion that a select few should be allowed to think for everyone else, let alone have the power to enact legislation that infringes on anyone’s rights as defined by our Constitution.

However, as mentioned above, some of our elected leaders have forgotten this principle, choosing to embrace the support of a vocal, sometimes militant, minority regardless of how it infringes on the rights of other citizens.  And though I’m focused on the recent irrational strife between a business in the private sector and several elected leaders, this is not the first time we’ve seen such a clash.  We as citizens of this country need to understand why these incidents are alarming, especially to those who revere the Constitution and hold the ideals of our Founding Fathers as the example to aspire to, not dusty thoughts from which to run away.

Every individual citizen has the right to turn the TV on or off as they see fit.  They can tune into whichever radio station suits their fancy and change the station if something comes on they dislike.  Every American can choose to pay $15 for a pair of jeans or $200.  It’s within the scope of individual freedom that anyone in our country can elect to eat at one fast-food restaurant but not another.

My earlier post dealt rather sarcastically into how some people, who have a different set of core beliefs, have gone far beyond making a personal decision to not spend their money at Chick-fil-A.  In fact, there is a militant minority who are so incensed they feel compelled to label this company as hate-filled and to foster a crusade against them based solely on the same words uttered by our own President.  In fact, up until it became politically expedient to “evolve” his views, President Obama was in lock-step with the same beliefs stated recently by Dan Cathy, even using the same words.

Whether you agree with the belief that the term “marriage” means a man and a woman or you believe it should be expanded to mean any two people in love regardless of gender, neither one of those beliefs contains a hateful element.  To twist it that way not only denigrates the conversation, but also leaves those on the periphery with feelings that range from disgust to apathy.

Is that really the goal of the militant few?  To attack the personal beliefs of another person through hyperbole and zealotry in hopes of irritating everyone else?  Whether you are on one side of the debate or the other, there is a common thread joining everyone together — a sense of agitation.  Those who are in favor of a traditional definition of marriage feel like they are under attack, regardless of whether or not they have stepped foot inside a Chick-fil-A.  Those who favor a more liberal definition of marriage feel like they have to be on the attack to gain acceptance for their view.  In either case, at its best, it’s an irritating situation and, at its worst, elicits anger and hatred.  People not even connected one way or the other are feeling pressure to pick a side — as if this a sporting event where there will be one winner and one loser.

Right now, we are all losers.

It’s not enough for the zealots (and rage-fueled zealotry on either side of the political spectrum always leads to poor policy) to craft a firestorm over a religious difference of opinion, it’s moved toward an orchestrated campaign, including fake tweets, social media spamming of bitter political cartoons and user-created anti-Chick-fil-A posters (which are just as hate-filled as the subject they purport to reflect).  Now we have elected politicians in San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia making monarchy-like edicts that they will not allow another building permit for this business so long as they are in charge.  If you are a militant activist, this may fill you with pride, but the old saying applies, “Careful what you wish for, you just might get it.”

Today, your crusade may be to ruin a private business simply because you disagree with their views.  Do we really want to engage in this kind of mob rule?  Do we want to have our elected officials feel they can infringe on the rights of others simply because it gains them favor from a vocal subset of the electorate?

Take the particular subject off the table but leave the construct.  Let’s play a version of Mad-Libs where the story is locked in place with appropriate blanks for nouns, verbs and adjectives.  What would you be saying if those same leaders made the following statement:

The values of the gun control lobby are not in line with those of our city.  We are not going to allow them to build their anti-gun propaganda facility in our community.  We stand with the owners of assault weapons and will continue to support ownership of the most powerful guns available.

Suddenly, it may not sound so appealing to get all excited about government believing they can ignore the rights of some in order to cater to the views of others.  Shouldn’t this worry everyone in our country, irrespective of your views on the definition of marriage?  This way of thinking is not unlike what happened to Jewish owned businesses in Germany in the mid 1930’s.  If you weren’t Jewish, seeing someone else’s business shut down based on a differing religious view may not have bothered you at all.  In fact, you may have cheered about it.  But, look what happened when leadership become emboldened after being allowed to infringe on the rights of a sub-set of the population — a fascist regime came to power with a dictator at its helm.

This is something our Founding Fathers feared above anything else — that a form of monarchy would take root in our own country.  The crafting of our Constitution was a painstaking process for precisely this reason.  Regardless of personal philosophy, the one common outcome each of the framers wanted was to ensure individuals in our country would be able to live a life of independence, freedom and liberty, free from the tyranny of a central government.

Any citizen in our country is free to express themselves and to choose to support or not support any private business.  A gray area begins to form when individuals feel it is necessary to craft a campaign based on exaggeration, anger and spin in order to inflame others.  But there is no mistaking that elected officials are completely wrong to take a position that allows them to infringe on the rights of others.

It doesn’t matter how angry those officials may get over someone else’s personal views, we have the freedom in this country to think differently and spend our money as we want, so long as it does not take away someone else’s rights.  It’s a simple concept, but one that is so hard to keep in mind when someone has really upset you.  The degree to which you truly believe in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights does not get tested when you are in agreement with someone.  The true test comes from when someone is diametrically opposed to your views and you are still willing to fight for them as much as if you had agreed.  Heck, even the ladies on The View understand that.

We should all feel great concern when any politician feels it’s in his or her interest to ignore the Constitution.  That document was specifically designed to tell government what it cannot do.  The rights called out in that document do not come from government — they exist within each of us and come from a much grander place than a man-made institution.  The moment we feel it is okay to ignore its precepts because of an emotional tide is the moment we cease to be a free nation.  To seek the ruin of a business (and the thousands of lives connected to it) for no other reason than over a religious difference is tantamount to endorsing anarchy.  Not a single person’s rights, as defined by the Constitution, have been abused by the words of Dan Cathy (or Louis Farrakhan for that matter).

And by the way, no where in our Constitution or the Bill of Rights does it state you have the right to not be offended.

Personally, I believe that words have meaning and it is not up to the whim of others to change those definitions.  Marriage, throughout the earliest of times, has been described as the union of a man and a woman.  On the flip side, I embrace freedom and individualism and believe there should be legal protections for same-sex unions to give those couples the exact same legal rights that married unions have — shared insurance benefits, survivorship benefits, rights to shared assets, etc.  This makes legal sense and should be enacted and can make for a topic on another day.

Suffice it to say, I want as much freedom in this country as possible.  Am I a hate monger because my definition is different from yours?  Do I deserve to have an orchestrated campaign against me, my family and my business for having those beliefs?  I want to see the same legal benefits for any committed couple, I just do not want to redefine a word and the religious connotations that I have had for my entire life.

But, more importantly, I do not want an elected official to feel as though he or she is the ultimate arbiter — judge, jury and executioner — of the personal beliefs of individuals over which they feel they have dominion.  Regardless of your personal beliefs, you, too, should fear where that leads.

Facts get in the way of the mainstream media agenda

Generally, I would not choose to respond to a horrific event so quickly after it happened. There is still too much to learn and we need to let the investigators in Aurora, Colorado have the time they need to paint the full picture of the story of Jim Holmes.

What I did want to respond to was yet another example in an exceedingly long line of news reporters (and I use that term with the greatest amount of trepidation) who will not let facts stand in the way of an agenda. When something as sensational as a mass shooting breaks on the newswire, the hammerheads come cruising.

I choose that analogy because these reporters are not sharks swimming alone. Hammerheads swim in large schools and when they sense blood in the water, they go into a frenzy. They will blindly thrash and bite at anything that moves, regardless of whether or not what they are biting is, in fact, food.

Case in point: The smoke from the theater had barely cleared when Brian Ross from ABC Morning News speculated, along with George Stephanolpoulos, that the suspect, Jim Holmes, was affiliated with the Colorado Tea Party. During this morning’s coverage, Ross and Stephanolpoulos had this exchange:

Stephanolpoulos: I’m going to go to Brian Ross. You’ve been investigating the background of Jim Holmes here. You found something that might be significant.

Ross: There’s a Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado, page on the Colorado Tea party site as well, talking about him joining the Tea Party last year. Now, we don’t know if this is the same Jim Holmes. But it’s Jim Holmes of Aurora, Colorado.

Stephanolpoulos: Okay, we’ll keep looking at that. Brian Ross, thanks very much.

Now, those on the left will say he did use the words, “…we don’t know…,” as if this somehow should absolve the reporter of such a grievous error in journalistic practice. He wasn’t speculating on what kind of weapon was used or if the suspect picked his targets randomly or not — suggestions that don’t make wild leaps in logic from the facts at hand. In this case, the reporter intentionally made a direct connection to the Tea Party, a grassroots organization that touts itself as freedom-loving Constitutionalists. It is well-known the Tea Party reveres the Bill of Rights, of which the 2nd Amendment is always a target for the liberal left.

Without a shred of vetted information, Brian Ross chose to make the connection for the news-watching audience that Jim Holmes might be a member of the Tea Party. He couldn’t help himself because the agenda has already been established: Tea Party members love guns and are crazy because they disagree with the current administration, making them all dangerous. Brian Ross can’t stop himself from seeing such a connection because he believes in the narrative. Facts are superfluous to what he knows must be true.

Unfortunately for Ross, he was forced to retract his statement and apologize on behalf of the network when it was discovered the “Jim Holmes” mentioned on the Tea Party site was a middle-aged male, more than twice as old as the suspect police had in custody. Apology or not, this is emblematic of what former CBS newsman, Bernard Goldberg, revealed in his book, “Bias: A CBS Insider Exposes How the Media Distort the News.” Goldberg says, in his book, that often the bias isn’t intentional, but results from everyone in the newsroom living in the same thought bubble. This is akin to what psychologists call, groupthink. It happens when a group of people of like-minded views become so inculcated in their worldview that there is no room for facts that run contrary.

Now, if you are writing an opinion piece, fine, let your bias take over. But, when you put on the news hat, you are expected to report the news, not interpret it. Like Joe Friday, “Just the facts, ma’am.”

One additional thought on this shooting and the subsequent reporting from the mainstream media. Not that long ago, Major Hasan, an Army psychiatrist, decided to go on a shooting spree in Ft. Hood, Texas, yelling, “Allahu Akbar!” killing 13 and wounding 30. Not only was there a delay from the media in calling that incident a terroristic act (by the way, the regime made a point of calling it an incident of workplace violence), but also, they made sure to tell the public at large that the Hasan shooting was an isolated incident, focused solely on one disturbed individual.

Why am I bringing this up?

In the Hasan case, the media did all it could to keep his islamic background and his shout of ‘Allahu Akbar’ out of the news, while reassuring folks that it was one individual, acting alone and in a vacuum. They couldn’t even call it domestic terrorism.

Yet, in the Aurora shooting, key figures in the news media, only hours after occurring, had no problem linking Jim Holmes to the Tea Party movement, painting the entire group with the same brush as a mass-murderer.

Until the reporters in the mainstream media learn to stop filtering events through the prism of a political agenda, they will continue to lack credibility. As far as I’m concerned, for most, it’s already too late.

Interpreting the United Stated Constitution

It is argued that the United States Constitution is open to interpretation, thus implying that the words on the paper are not an end in themselves. This suggests that the Constitution is flexible and not concrete and indirectly suggests that it needs supporting documentation in order to explain itself. That supporting documentation would be made up of well-defined comments regarding each of the various points and rights laid out in the Constitution. Without such defining tools to consult, we may end up interpreting away our very liberties that the Constitution guaranties. In order prevent such measures, we must examine how we should go about interpreting the Constitution.

At this point, a brief look at interpretation is necessary. There are basically two ways to go about interpreting something. Either you can do it by seeking the truth about what it was originally intended to mean, as created; or, you may go looking for an explanation that fits your viewpoint, in other words, the one that makes you feel best about the subject in question.

First and foremost, interpretation is only necessary when the piece in question has not been explained by those who created it. Stated differently, if the creator of the piece in question told us exactly what it meant, then there would be no need to engage in the art of interpretation. If that author is kind enough to tell you exactly what it means, then there is nothing to discuss after that. But if the creator is unreachable, and did not leave any supporting documentation behind, then interpretation becomes a requirement for understanding.

When you are reviewing a poem or piece of music, or even a painting on the wall, you will most likely never know what the author intended unless you ask him or her directly. With art forms, there is rarely a time when misinterpretation leads to something tragic. Therefore, it does not matter in the case of art whether or not you ever get the chance to question the designer. In fact, part of the enjoyment of art is to come to your own conclusion regarding the piece in question and no harm is done when your wrong.

This liberty is unacceptable when considering more important matters such as the Constitution. If we want to understand it, we would be in error to read it with modern eyes and modern thoughts. If we want to know exactly what the founding fathers intended, then it is required that we read the Federalist Papers and other supporting documents prepared by those who constructed the Constitution. We would be poor scholars not to consult their commentary on the document they helped create. Only by reading their own words can we know exactly what they were saying when they wrote things like “A well regulated Militia…” and “…regulate commerce with foreign nations…” Therefore, documents like the Federalist Papers are as important as the Constitution itself. These secondary documents act like a glossary for the Constitution and must be consulted along side it. Luckily for our understanding of the United States Constitution, we do not have to engage in intellectual jousting to find meaning in it. The founding fathers were kind enough to leave papers and speeches to explain exactly what the words in the Constitution meant.

In order to have unity in the federal government, as well as to ensure the liberties provided by the Constitution, we can not approach the Constitution in the same manner we approach art. We must consult the writings of those that prepared the Constitution and observe their explanations. Only then will we know exactly what they expected of the United States Federal Government. In a letter to William Johnson, Thomas Jefferson remarked, “On every question of construction let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted, recollect the spirit manifested in the debates, and instead of trying what meaning can be squeezed out of the text, or invented against it, conform to the probable one that was passed.” (1)

Let us take a look at what happens when the supplemental documentation is not consulted. The Second Amendment states, “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed”. Modern day gun control advocates claim that this amendment applies only to the modern day National Guard and that it does not apply to individuals when it comes to owning firearms. But when we examine the writings and speeches that were taking place during the debates on the Constitution, we find that this amendment refers to every American citizen who owns personal firearms. It does not apply to a standing army of any kind. It refers to people as individuals. Space does not permit me to quote every possible source but one from Alexander Hamilton says everything necessary. He remarks, “Little more can reasonably be aimed at with respect to the people at large than to have them properly armed and equipped;…This will not only lessen the call for military establishments; but if circumstances should at any time oblige the government to form an army of any magnitude, that army can never be formidable to the liberties of the people, while there is a large body of citizens, little, if at all, inferior to them in discipline and the use of arms, who stand ready to defend their rights and those of their fellow citizens.” (2) Here, Hamilton is clearly calling for the right of each individual citizen to own firearms in case their government attempts to suppress them. But why then did they refer to the Militia and not “the people”? Les Adams, who has examined the documents relating to the issue, informs us that the Militia was the term used to represent all the people, or at least all full citizens of the community. (3) Adams quotes George Mason, a Virginian who refused to sign the Constitution because, at that time, it lacked a Bill of Rights. Mason observed, “Who is the Militia? They consist now of the whole people”. (4) The reason the founders did not say “the people” and said “Militia” is because the people were the Militia, and everyone understood that so no explanation was necessary at the time. This has become confused in modern times because many critics have failed to heed the words of Thomas Jefferson when he said, “…let us carry ourselves back to the time when the Constitution was adopted…”

Some may disagree with Jefferson’s argument and complain that if we are always required to go back to the time when the Constitution was created, then this means that the Constitution, along with the United States Government, is unchangeable. They may argue that we will never “move ahead” and they may say that Jefferson’s argument is an egotistical remark concluding that the Constitution is next to godliness in design. Usually, an argument like this comes from those wishing to rewrite or revise government to suit their own needs and desires. The Constitution was created with great care to respect the individual liberties of the people and to restrict the power of government. This must be preserved at all costs and I believe that this was Jefferson’s intention when he said what he did. The Constitution, along with the supporting documentation like the Federalist Papers and other writings by the founding fathers, does not need to be changed. These documents secure our rights and liberties perfect without need for reinterpretation. If we heed and implement their words, we will maintain our liberties and fear not an obtrusive government. Therefore, despite objections, I believe that Jefferson was right when he said what he did about the matter.

Now a time may come, as it did in the past, when the Constitution does need to be revised. Clearly, when the Constitution was created, the horror of slavery was not prohibited. However, in keeping with the spirit of individual liberty, the Constitution was eventually modified.

It may also happen that an entirely new event or situation, which was unforeseeable by the founding fathers, will arise whereby the Constitution and it’s supplemental documents fail to help solve. During the process of reviewing the Constitution and it’s complementary documents, if it is found that the writer’s were in error or mistaken on an issue, or a matter need be added or deleted, then those parts must be re-written through the process of amendment. Although the Constitution is indeed flexible in the sense that it can be changed, it should not be flexible to the point where no one is right and no one is wrong, like in the case of art criticism. By this I mean to say that if there are many interpretations offered to explain a new situation, it is best kept in mind that the best interpretations, will always be those that keep closest to the spirit of the Constitution, to preserve the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

1 Thomas Jefferson cited in: Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 71: Palladium Press
2 Alexander Hamilton cited in: Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 101: Palladium Press
3 Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 200: Palladium Press
4 George Mason cited in: Les Adams, The Second Amendment Primer, P. 200: Palladium Press