Making a Point with Hypocrisy

The latest example of political hypocrisy couched in moral outrage is the insistence, polite as it may have been, for Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave a local Virginia restaurant.

The restaurant staff recognized Huckabee as a member of a party of 8 and called the owner. She came to the restaurant, discussed the situation with her team (some of whom are gay), and took a vote to ask Huckabee to leave.

The hypocrisy is outrageous.

Their argument was, surrounded by conservatives who supported Mr. Trump, they felt duty bound to wave their liberal progressive (and in this case patently biased) flag in seeking to have Huckabee leave.

There is no doubt in my mind this same staff held a Kumbaya hand-holding, weeping gathering of outrage when the Supreme Court upheld a bakery’s refusal to make a cake for a gay wedding.

There is no doubt in my mind this same group wails and moans at the mistreatment of the GLBT members of our society by some conservatives.

Yet they see no hypocrisy in asking a person to leave based on who they work for? It is the most childish, immature, and idiotic thing they could ever have done.

What’s next, do restaurants post a list of acceptable political positions for admission to their establishments next to the daily specials?

Does Trip Advisor add a new column called Political Position to their restaurant reviews?

Do you ask each guest their voting record, political affiliation, or position on issues of the day?

Instead of using an opportunity to demonstrate to Huckabee their professed rainbow-colored inclusiveness, they did what they despise in others. They denied a person a seat at the table because of a difference of opinion.

sit-in3There is no difference in this country between denying someone a seat based on politics, religion, or color of their skin.

None. The confrontation might have lacked the violence of the Civil Rights struggle, but the principle is the same.

What would the outcry be if Huckabee came in and asked to be waited on by heterosexual conservatives only?

To be clear, Huckabee is the face of the worst administration in the history of the Presidency. Her promulgating the myth of fake news and her revolving door rationale for the President’s irrational and erratic policies is obscene. But to lower oneself to their level of behavior reinforces the prejudicial attitude of those support such policies.

When you are in a public service industry, and you so despise cases such as the baker/wedding cake decision, you must exemplify tolerance not promulgate more intolerance. Instead, they missed an opportunity to demonstrate there is value to progressive liberal inclusion.

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Hiking as a Metaphor for Life: Learn, Earn, Return

Hiking is the perfect teacher for understanding a life well lived. Each hike begins with enthusiasm and naivete` about what lies ahead. For those first few steps, one is filled with energy and the hope of discovery.

Prospect_rock.jpg

Trail descriptions never match reality, much like one’s plans for the future. Soon the trail turns rocky and muddy, slick and slippery with gnarly roots grabbing at your feet. As the mountain looms off in the distance, peeking over the tops of impossibly high-trees, the trail now steepens. Legs strain, lungs work to keep up with the higher oxygen demand, and the heart pounds in your chest. One’s thoughts turn to self-recriminations, questioning your decision to follow this desolate, lonely, and painful trail.

After willing oneself onward, a slow, almost imperceptible change takes place. The heart adjusts, the legs find a rhythm, and the trail effort takes a less severe toll. This is the learning time. You come to understand a slow, steady pace, ever forward, with the occasional rest, is the way ahead.

You put trail miles onto your boots and hike on.

On the peaks of New Hampshire’s mountains, the dreaded Whites so infamous to those who hike the Appalachian Trail, it is the last mile that tests a hiker’s mettle. For some peaks, there is a 100, 500, or 1000-yard scramble over boulders as you pull and push yourself, ignoring your screaming leg muscles and pounding chest.

For those who harbor a fear of heights (why are you hiking?) there is the added terror of looking back down over boulders that would hardly notice your tumbling body, should you lose your balance and bounce down the mountain.

But you carry on. Any goal worth pursuing comes with doubt, difficulties, and despair. To succeed on a hike, as in life, you must accept that nothing is easy. Also, understand there are no insurmountable obstacles unless you convince yourself to give up.

Just when it seems you cannot take another step, the trail levels out, the view opens up, and the pain and sweat of the effort fade from your thoughts.

To stand where only your feet can take you. To look down on the immense beauty of the forest, rivers, valleys, and mountains of New Hampshire, Tennessee, Virginia, or any place in the world is to achieve a measure of success.

This is the earning level. Your efforts to climb the mountain, like your efforts to achieve something in life, offer a reward. During the hike, you learn. Summiting the peak, you earn. But, the lesson of the mountain is not over yet.

After enjoying the moment on the peak, you must complete the journey. Hiking down a mountain has its own challenges. You’re tired, aching, and looking forward to a rest. Yet, on the way down an opportunity opens to encourage those you meet on their own way up.

Here is the part where you return to others what you’ve learned and earned.

A simple, “you’re almost there,” “the view is worth it,” “keep going, you’ll make it,” can offer so much to those still making their way on the trail, and through life.

When you reach the end of the trail, you’ll understand, in a microcosm, what a successful life is. Hiking a mountain, as in life, you learn, you earn, and you return. That is as it should be.

At the end of your last trail, if you can say you followed those simple rules, you’ll have lived a full life.

Tweeting Away while America’s Reputation Burns

If we are paying Mr. Trump’s presidential salary based on the number of tweets he sends, we are getting our money’s worth. If it is on the quality of the tweets, not so much.

nero-fiddling

“Children are being used by some of the worst criminals on earth as a means to enter our country. Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world. Not going to happen in the U.S.” (https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1008708576628625408)

Which, duh, is WHY parents are deciding to risk their children’s lives in fleeing the crime and corruption for the sanctuary of America. An American detention center, no matter how horrible it may be to us, is better than the conditions from which they flee.

And like it or not, much of the disarray in many of these South and Central American countries resulted from American policies. During the post-World War II era, when anti-communism was the prevailing mood, America supported right-wing, non-representative governments who used the training, weapons, and resources we provided to suppress dissent.

Which was fine with us as long as it was anti-communist.

We do not bear sole responsibility for these conditions. People must seek democracy through their own efforts, not just with American assistance. But, these people risking everything to make it to America should be treated according to the law.

The policy of separating children from parents who illegally enter the country is not new. It has been in place since long before the Trump administration. But the current zero-tolerance policy takes it to an entirely unintended level.

I won’t presume to know the motivation, but I suspect it is less than honorable.

Zadvydas v. Davis (https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/533/678/case.html) is a 2001 United States Supreme Court case which clarifies and limits the time an individual may be held pending a deportation hearing absent any other circumstances or when no country will accept their return.

If those coming here, illegally or not, cannot return to their country of origin or face the possibility of execution or torture if they are sent back, the case sets the limits on their detention. One analysis puts it this way

Does the post-removal-period statute authorize the Attorney General to detain a removable alien indefinitely beyond the 90-day removal period?

No. In a 5-4 opinion delivered by Justice Stephen G. Breyer, the Court held that “the statute, read in light of the Constitution’s demands, limits an alien’s post-removal-period detention to a period reasonably necessary to bring about that alien’s removal from the United States” and “does not permit indefinite detention.” “Based on our conclusion that indefinite detention of aliens in the former category would raise serious constitutional concerns, we construe the statute to contain an implicit ‘reasonable time’ limitation, the application of which is subject to federal court review,” wrote Justice Breyer. (“Zadvydas v. Davis.” Oyez, 18 Jun. 2018, www.oyez.org/cases/2000/99-7791)

Previous administrations separated children from newly apprehended illegal aliens. They then complied with the court decision. Absent mitigating circumstances, and subject to federal court review, the individuals were processed and reunited with their children. If returning them was not practical or if it was likely to result in civil rights violations they should be released, but they still face the legal obligation of applying for asylum or other lawful means to remain here.

Here’s a perfect opportunity for the President to force the Democrats hand by seeking their cooperation in finding a solution to those who cannot be returned but are guilty of only one thing, seeking safety for their children.

It is also a perfect opportunity for those who espouse the Evangelical Christian philosophy that purports to care about their fellow humans. Let’s see how many of those organizations step up to sponsor those families in need. If protecting the unborn is the work of the Lord can embracing those already on this earth be any less so?

Perhaps Joel Osteen and the other money-grubbers wrapped in Biblical clothing can re-task their mega-church money machine and put the resources to better use than buying jets and building huge temples.  Turn the sincere but sad gullibility of their contributors to something of actual value.

The right-wing Christians who support the President can welcome those in need into their homes as the Bible so instructs. In Leviticus 19:33-34,

“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

You gotta love the Bible, there is a saying for every occasion. It’s like the original Hallmark card. I’m sure if I look hard enough I can find some chapter and verse that instructs us to offer illegal aliens up as burnt offerings that are so favored of the Lord.

Clearly, the government of the United States must control and prevent illegal immigration. Drug cartel members, other criminals, and those who seek to harm the United States and the American people should be apprehended and returned, when possible, or detained if necessary.

But that is not the case with the overwhelming majority of individuals fleeing with children.

To read Mr. Trump’s tweet, he makes it seem as if every person crossing the border with children is a diabolical criminal. He ignores the reality that most are desperately seeking safety for their children from conditions which most of us could never imagine. If recent history tells us anything, it’s those cages hold a host of future valedictorians and potential academic excellence. They appreciate the opportunity of America in most cases. They add to the quality of America.

He gets part of it right when he says, “Has anyone been looking at the Crime taking place south of the border. It is historic, with some countries the most dangerous places in the world.” That, Mr. President, is precisely why they come here, to escape such conditions.

ct-children-border-patrol-facility-photos
Image from Chicago Tribune

Follow the law, and the court decisions, as they are intended. Screen the individuals within the 90-day period then reunite them with their children. The specter of uniformed border control officers guarding children in cages is not the image we want the world to see of America.

If you want to flex your Presidential muscle, point it towards the countries where these conditions exist and threaten to cut foreign aid unless reforms take place. Use the bully pulpit for something other than castigating the FBI, the Justice Department, your predecessors, or the failed campaign of a former candidate whose time has passed.

We do not blame victims of crimes, we seek to help them and target those who perpetrate the crimes. Most people coming across our borders with children are victims, not criminals, and we should remember that when we enforce policies. If we can’t separate the chaff from the wheat in 90 days something else is gravely wrong with our country.

It would appear someone in the administration came to their senses and convinced the President to issue an executive order. After spending weeks trying to find an excuse that worked and blaming the Democrats and Obama for the problem, the President did what he said he could not do.

Which sparked this gem of a tweet,

My Administration is acting swiftly to address the illegal immigration crisis on the Southern Border. Loopholes in our immigration laws all supported by extremist open border Democrats…and that’s what they are – they’re extremist open border Democrats…Democrats want open Borders, where anyone can come into our Country, and stay. This is Nancy Pelosi’s dream. It won’t happen!” (https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump/status/1009844059211366401)

Among other things, Mr. Trump and I have a vastly different definition of swiftly.

No one wants people to enter this country illegally or with intent to do harm.  Nor do we want people to come here for the sole purpose of taking advantage of our generosity. But, this country has usually found a way to absorb those with little hope in their own countries. We’ve not always done it, the refusal to accept Jewish children before our entry into World War II is one glaring example, but to say categorically we should have a zero-tolerance policy is inhumane and contrary to the spirit of America.

How this all plays out, and whether Sessions and the Justice Department can renegotiate a settlement in the Flores Decision (Reno v. Flores507 U.S. 292 (1993), remains to be seen. But if empathy and a humanist approach to dealing with these matters are scarce with this administration, follow-through is exceptionally rare.

Sessions proclivity to use Biblical references as legal arguments will fail in a court founded squarely on the principle of separation of church and state. If ever there was proof needed for the wisdom of the forefathers in this matter, nothing better has ever come from the words or actions of a government official.

P.S. If we are going to use the Bible as an authoritative source for justifying these “zero-tolerance” policies, I offer this., another Biblical gem from Leviticus 20-10,

“If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife–with the wife of his neighbor–both the adulterer and the adulteress are to be put to death.”

I have a suggestion for where to begin. We can sell tickets to “cast the first stone.”

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A Tweet a Day, Keeps Rationality Away

In the latest tirade from the Commander-in-Chief, the President whined,

Why was the FBI’s sick loser, Peter Strzok, working on the totally discredited Mueller team of 13 Angry & Conflicted Democrats, when Strzok was giving Crooked Hillary a free pass yet telling his lover, lawyer Lisa Page, that “we’ll stop” Trump from becoming President? Witch Hunt!”

Aside from the blatant inaccuracy and disingenuous nature of these words (let alone the second-grade grammar), there is something more troubling on display. In the words of William Shakespeare, a man who knew the power of words, there is this,

“There is no darkness, but ignorance.”

words-have-powerThe mark of a person is not made by their words but by their deeds. Yet, words offer a window on a person’s character. How one expresses yourself—the tone and timbre of the language—is an elementary part of one’s approach to life.

With emotional and intellectual maturity comes the wisdom to understand the necessity of choosing words carefully. A rational and respectful person learns to make a point without resorting to infantile name-calling.

It would seem with the president we see evidence of intellectual dystrophy and emotional immaturity. Not generally a concern for most who have little international influence, frightening in the case of a man with sole determinant authority to launch nuclear weapons.

History is the arbiter of success and failure. When history reviews the Trump Presidency, the self-serving blaming of others for all things he’s failed to accomplish or been taken to task for will rise to the surface as one of his most glaring defects.

To stand idly by, wringing his hands in-between writing sophomoric tweets, as children are torn from their families is the epitome of disingenuous cowardice. If he seeks to be perceived as even the least bit Presidential, issue a Presidential Executive order halting the policy of separating the children and see who challenges the order in court.

I can guarantee it will not be a Democratic challenge.

The one truth is nothing is permanent. This too will pass.

The President, for all his braggadocio, claims of success, and superlative laced tales of his performance, along with his constant complaining about everybody not on Team Trump, would do well to heed the admonition of Ozymandius by Shelley.

Ozymandius

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

 

Percy Bysshe Shelley

 

Notorious Ain’t the Word for Her

If you haven’t seen the documentary, RBG, do yourself a favor and see it. The story of Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s life from her birth (as a first-generation daughter born to immigrant parents), to her perseverance at Harvard and Columbia Law Schools when women were not considered intellectually or emotionally “strong” enough to be lawyers, to her appointment to the United States Supreme Court is remarkable.

Ruth_Bader_Ginsburg_2016_portraitShe argued six cases before the United States Supreme Court, prevailing in five. Each case brought gender equality closer to a reality. One case she argued concerned a man denied Social Security survivor benefits for his deceased wife. She took the case and argued successfully before the court, demonstrating that discrimination based on gender is always wrong.

The most striking point of the documentary was the deep and abiding friendship and affection she shared with the late Antonin Scalia. One would be hard-pressed to find two more diametrically opposed legal points of view. Scalia, the strict constructionist conservative, and Ginsburg, the progressive liberal, often clash in their opinions. Yet, they maintained a genuine friendship. Among the many things they share, Scalia was also the child of an immigrant parent.

Their ability to argue their positions forcefully, rationally, and with reason, yet separate the personal from their professional responsibilities, epitomizes the best balance of what a Supreme Court should be.

They perfected the art of compromise. Not of their legal approach to the law, but in their recognition it is the consensus of legal thought that produces the most sound and beneficial law.

Our Declaration of Independence derived from a consensus

Our Constitution derived from a consensus

Our Bill of Rights derived from a consensus

In the current political climate of demonizing those with whom we disagree and idolizing those with whom we agree, we deny the one thing that preserves our system of government, the art of compromise and consensus.

The case Ginsburg argued before the court where she did not prevail (cases are not won and lost, it is not a sports contest. Even the final decision is called a Majority Opinion, not the final score) concerned equal pay for women. The court decision was based on the status of the law at the time which limited the time in which a complaint could be made.

Despite Ginsburg’s argument that victims of such practices do not learn of the problem for many years, the court took a strict interpretation of the law and ruled against the plaintiff and Ginsburg.

Recognizing the inherent inequity of the law, Congress passed legislation addressing the issue, and President Obama signed the bill into law. Congress reached a consensus, and the President concurred.

The system worked.

Every party in power tries to “stack” the court with those who hold similar legal views. Often, it has been the case that justices turn out to be neither as liberal nor as conservative as expected. That says much about the character and quality of the members of the court.

If “Democracy is the worst political system, except for all the others,” consensus is the foundation for our continued survival.

A Supreme Court comprised of those with the same political leanings would do more damage than good to America. As the friendship between Ginsburg and Scalia shows, our consensus of differences makes democracy stronger.

Anything else is a recipe for totalitarianism.

On another note, President Trump once again showcased to the world his fundamental misunderstanding (at best) or his “just doesn’t give a sh*t understanding (at worst) of the Criminal Justice system.

In a Tweet regarding Paul Manafort’s bail being revoked because of a new indictment for witness tampering, Trump wrote,

Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort, who has represented Ronald Reagan, Bob Dole and many other top political people and campaigns. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob. What about Comey and Crooked Hillary and all of the others? Very unfair!

Is it too much to ask that the President of the United States understand the difference between a bail revocation hearing and a criminal trial? Something most high school freshmen could explain.

Then again, how can we expect that a man who can barely form a sentence would understand context and meaning in a legal setting?

I’d suggest the President watch RBG but, with his limited attention span, he’d miss the point.

Could This Be the One?

Under the Heading Giving the Devil his Due.

President Trump has potentially achieved two things no President has ever done before. He’s created an opportunity for the formal end of the Korean War and the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

But, as history shows us, this is not the first time this has been tried. Let’s hope the formal negotiations come to a swift, successful, and verifiable conclusion.

As Mark Twain (allegedly) once said, “History doesn’t repeat, but it rhymes”  We can turn to history for a perspective on negotiations with the Hermit Kingdom.

The number of agreements with North Korea that have been successful.

One*

*(The Armistice ending open hostilities of the Korean War. Technically, the war is still on-going.)

The number of agreements, in particular, those seeking to prevent the nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, that have succeeded.

None*

*The number of agreements made, and broken, by the North Korean are too numerous to count.

This piece from the Arms Control Association (www.armscontrol.org) gives an interesting chronological perspective on negotiations and agreements with North Korea.  I’d include it here, but it would run to almost forty pages.

Click here for the full article https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/dprkchron

If I were inclined to bet, I’d say the odds ain’t good for the world’s greatest dealmaker.  There is hope, and we all should embrace it in the interest of world stability, but the hope is tainted by the reality of this administration.

All we have so far is our unilateral decision to end joint US-South Korean military exercises (a decision that surprised both South Korea and our own Pentagon and Defense Department.)

ChosenI suppose Kim Jong-Un can argue the first step to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula would be the withdrawal of US forces. He seems to have maneuvered us into the first stages without giving much up except an offer to continue talking. (Remember, the peace talks at Panmunjom took two years to reach a conclusion that paused the Korean War in 1953 with a promise of a formal end that has never happened.)

Somehow, in the last few weeks, our new BFF is Kim Jong-Un and North Korea and our new worst enemy is Pierre Trudeau and Canada. This is the frightening reality and mindset of those who are negotiating this agreement.

A success here would be a major accomplishment for this administration. A failure here will make the Iran Nuclear Agreement look like an unconditional surrender by Iran. If it does succeed, we can move all those troops from the 38th parallel and put them on the Canadian Border.

 

Here’s the Policy of the American Business I Would Run

EagleIf you support the president, welcome.

If you despise the president, welcome.

If you pray to God, welcome.

If you wonder if there is a god, welcome.

If you love a person of the opposite sex, welcome.

If you love a person of the same sex, welcome.

If you oppose abortion, welcome.

If you had an abortion, welcome.

If you want a wall to keep people out, welcome.

If you tear down the wall to let people in, welcome.

If your skin is white, welcome.

If your skin is brown, welcome.

If you speak English, welcome.

If you speak Klingon, welcome.

If you embrace the baby Jesus, welcome.

If you worship Allah, welcome.

If you stand for the National Anthem, welcome.

If you take a knee, welcome.

If you carry a gun, welcome.

If you wish all guns gone, welcome.

If you follow the law, welcome.

If you seek to change the law, welcome.

If you see no prejudice in the world, welcome.

If you see it everywhere, welcome.

If you believe in something, welcome.

If you doubt everything, welcome.

There is only one kind of person I would never welcome to my business. Any person who cannot or will not understand that it is our differences that make America great or would deny anyone the right to hold a different opinion is not welcome.

We need not make America great again, all we must remember is what has always made us great.

Remember that, and the America we all love will endure.

A Murderer as Victim:  The American Blame Game

In all the vitriol, anger, and twisted logic in the debate on guns and violence in America, one vital aspect is kicked to the side, ignored and discounted; personal responsibility for one’s actions.

theymademedoitblogIn our single-minded focus on trying to explain why these things happen, and how to prevent them, we gloss over the one common element. Absent unmistakable evidence of mental incapacity–and almost every shooter who survives a mass shooting is judged competent to stand trial—the individual who pulls the trigger is responsible for his or her actions.

The fact is we may never understand why. We may never find a way to prevent it from ever happening again. We may never come to grips with America’s inexplicable fascination with guns.

We may never accept the demise of the balance of power between our early government—the one without a standing army– and an armed citizenry. Our embracing a concept no longer grounded in reality is one of the stumbling blocks to addressing part of the problem.

But that’s not the point of this piece.

The most important thing we can do is insist on personal responsibility for one’s actions. We need to focus on this from the earliest age, so the practice becomes second nature. Instead, we have parents suing school departments when their kids are taken off a sports team or barred from graduation for violating the rules.

“Oh, my poor (son/daughter) didn’t mean to break the rules, everyone else was doing it, it’s not fair they won’t get to play soccer/go to the prom/attend graduation.  I’ll sue.”

A tremendous parental example there.

The dearth of personal responsibility in America is illustrated by our penchant for blaming everyone else but ourselves for our actions. The most startling example of this is from the father of the shooter in the Santa Fe Texas school shooting.

As part of the idiotic media frenzy, which contributes to the problem, the father of the “alleged” killer said,

“My son, to me, is not a criminal, he’s a victim,” he said. “The kid didn’t own guns. I owned guns.”

A victim? The victims are the ten dead, the wounded, and their families left to suffer because of the cowardly act of a self-delusional individual without one shred of human decency or compassion.

The father said,

“Something must have happened now, this last week,” he told the station. “Somebody probably came and hurt him, and since he was a solid boy, I don’t know what could have happened. I can’t say what happened. All I can say is what I suspect as a father.” (https://apnews.com/70ba9b2e83194fbab13bb26819aed045)

The father says his son was bullied. Bullied? When did bullying rise to the level of justifying homicidal provocation?

By this logic, someone being bullied now has cause to take a gun and kill another human.

Very few people are born evil, but we all have the capacity for evil in us. Raising children to be responsible adults is the ultimate purpose of being a parent. When you fail, the darkness within can rise to the surface.

If you don’t instill personal responsibility early, self-control fails and bad things happen. It may not be the only reason these shootings happen, but it is a significant factor.

This infatuation we have with turning everything into a “syndrome,” giving it a name and using it as some terrifying boogieman is disheartening and self-destructive. Bullying has become almost as frightening as a diagnosis of cancer.

I understand there are horror stories of “bullying” that drove some to suicide. That is a tragedy. But adolescent behavior, that often includes “bullying” of others, underscores my point.

The failure of personal responsibility, by the parents and the children engaged in such behavior, is the problem. Part of this is the false courage instilled by the wall of technology. It’s easy to be cruel and demeaning in the comfort of one’s own home when texting or posting on social media. Tweets and emoji and SnapchatInstagramTwittering is a shield to cowards.

It doesn’t negate the responsibility of parents to pay attention. In our 24/7 technologically connected world, the burden is heightened.

One of the most brilliant philosophers who ever lived, my mother, summed it up in six words,

“Life’s not fair, get over it.”

We learned from her that one had to deal with life, not whine and cry, and adjust to it. Blaming others for your own circumstances is the childish way out. As one matures, you come to understand that no one has power over you unless you let them.

By the time you reach high school, one should firmly understand personal responsibility.

I know this may not be politically correct, but the way to deal with bullies is to stand up to them. Homicidal violence is never a solution, but a well-placed punch in the nose, even if you ultimately lose the fight, might go a long way to preventing a minor problem from becoming a bigger one.

I may have lost a few fights growing up, but I got my point across.

In Texas, the only person to blame for what happened is the shooter. I won’t dignify him with using his name. Making killers famous for their actions is part of the problem.

There is also the personal responsibility of the father for leaving the weapons open and unsecured. He may be suffering because of his son’s actions, but he also bears criminal liability for it.

If the law applies, he should be charged. If he had any sense of personal responsibility, he’d plead guilty. My defense attorney friends may differ in this but there is a difference between “not guilty” and “innocent.”

Like it or not he has blood on his hands, but I wouldn’t hold my breath for him to acknowledge it. He needed the guns for personal protection. That was important to him.

When his son turned them into offensive weapons and murdered innocent men, women, and children he hid behind excuses. Wasn’t my son, they made him do it. It begs the question about priorities.

That’s what lack of personal responsibility is, blaming the world for your own choices.

It’s time for that to change.  We can do this without changing one law, limiting any perceived Constitutional right, or infringing on anyone’s liberty.

Acknowledging your own actions, not blaming the rest of the world for your personal failures, would be a good first step.

Heel, don’t Kneel

The First Amendment protects us from government restrictions on the free expression of one’s personal and political views. It is different within the private sector.

Employers may limit the exercise of free speech when it directly affects their business.

No one can argue this. To paraphrase Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

“An employee may have a constitutional right to talk politics, but he has no constitutional right to be employed.”

Aside from the legal arguments, there is a more significant issue at stake with the NFL ban on players taking a knee during the National Anthem.

While most Americans, regardless of their political leanings, freely stand during the National Anthem in gratitude for those who fought to preserve our way of life, implicit in that sacrifice is the right to do otherwise.

I often chafe at the inattentive, text-addicted, hats still on idiots who either stand because everyone else is or sit drinking beer when the anthem is played before a game. But it is their right to do so.

Ignorant, rude, or just downright asinine as it may be.

But I wouldn’t want to see uniformed police officers roaming through the crowd and hauling them off for it either. (I might find it momentarily amusing, aside from the serious constitutional issue.)

The NFL situation is different on two levels.

First, if this was an intrinsic element of the game, then the owners have every right to insist players comply.

It is not. It is a moment at most public venues where we pay homage to this nation. Which implies the right to express a different political opinion.

Second, and more critical, this wailing and gnashing of teeth that the constitutional guarantee of free speech has limitations in the private sector and players must comply with a workplace requirement is all a smokescreen to the real issue.

Americans do not like the very public reminder of the persistence of bigotry and prejudice. They do not like their sacred sports game marred by such a divisive issue. They prefer to keep it in the closet on game day, and then ignore it for the rest of the week.

To further illustrate the point, the protest must be working in raising the issue otherwise no one would care.

Which makes the restrictions put in place by the NFL, albeit legitimate under the most common interpretation of the Constitution, more troubling.

While the NFL owners have much latitude in controlling the players when they are “working,” to insist they can regulate free speech, during a ceremony that honors free speech, for the benefit of their bottom line, is troubling.

If it is that important an issue, fire them.

Remember, the first act of American patriotism was to challenge the King’s government for the right of freedom of expression.

Do we seek to return to the times of pledging loyalty to the government as a condition of being an American? Is it that some people miss the days when the government would ask “Are you, or have you ever been, a communist?”

While the NFL issue is minor in the big scheme of things, it is the conglomeration of little things, chipping away at liberties, that cause real damage. This issue may be nothing but a single termite, but termites are never alone.

Let the players take a knee, do backflips, or whatever. When the anthem plays, focus all the cameras on the Stars and Stripes flapping in the breeze above the flag-draped Bud Light advertisements.