Mitt Romney, Right and Wrong

Two things always strike me when I think about Mitt Romney.  One, I wasn’t totally crazy about him being the Republican nominee for president in 2012, because I never thought that he was conservative in the native sense–that when he tried to make his appeals to those of us on the ideological right, he spoke the words well enough but it wasn’t his natural inclination.  That really wasn’t surprising, considering that he had been a Republican governor in a solidly Democrat state, and he wouldn’t have gotten elected there had he not been more of a down-the-middle moderate.  To take on Barack Obama and win, I thought that the GOP would have been better of nominating someone who had the fire of conservatism burning inside of him–but that year, the pickings were pretty slim (probably because all the other A-listers were too afraid to take on the Obama machine and lose), and in the end Romney was the one who seemed best up to the challenge.

The second thing I remember is also the thing that made me happy to vote for him, in spite of my misgivings:  Of all the men who have run for president, Mitt Romney was probably the most decent.  In his personal life, he set an exemplary example.  A faithful husband and father, he also gave generously of his time and his fortune, and used them both to make the world he lived in a better place.  He was the kind of man who not only would fund the construction of a neighborhood playground out of his own pocket, he’d also show up to help build it.  Moreover, Romney too his faith’s admonition to love thy neighbor personally, taking his own time to help people in need and not rely on a charity or some government agency to do it for him.

Of course, that didn’t stop the Democrats from painting him as a monster straight from central casting.  In the course of a rough-and-tumble election, by the time they were through with him, Mitt Romney was a murdering robber baron who humiliated a gay student in high school and hated   the family dog so much he strapped the poor beast to the roof of the car, Aunt Edna style, while taking the family on vacation.  In spite of everything, however, Romney remained a gentleman, as befitted his character.  That’s why it was so heartbreaking when he lost to Obama, a man who could only pretend to possess the same moral fiber that Romney did.

So when Romney has something to say about the current political climate, I tend to pay attention.  Today, he took to Facebook to comment on the recent terror in Charlottesville, and how President Trump handled the aftermath:

I will dispense for now from discussion of the moral character of the president’s Charlottesville statements. Whether he intended to or not, what he communicated caused racists to rejoice, minorities to weep, and the vast heart of America to mourn. His apologists strain to explain that he didn’t mean what we heard. But what we heard is now the reality, and unless it is addressed by the president as such, with unprecedented candor and strength, there may commence an unraveling of our national fabric.

The leaders of our branches of military service have spoken immediately and forcefully, repudiating the implications of the president’s words. Why? In part because the morale and commitment of our forces–made up and sustained by men and women of all races–could be in the balance. Our allies around the world are stunned and our enemies celebrate; America’s ability to help secure a peaceful and prosperous world is diminished. And who would want to come to the aid of a country they perceive as racist if ever the need were to arise, as it did after 9/11?

In homes across the nation, children are asking their parents what this means. Jews, blacks, Hispanics, Muslims are as much a part of America as whites and Protestants. But today they wonder. Where might this lead? To bitterness and tears, or perhaps to anger and violence?

The potential consequences are severe in the extreme. Accordingly, the president must take remedial action in the extreme. He should address the American people, acknowledge that he was wrong, apologize. State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors who were outraged to see fools parading the Nazi flag, Nazi armband and Nazi salute. And once and for all, he must definitively repudiate the support of David Duke and his ilk and call for every American to banish racists and haters from any and every association.

This is a defining moment for President Trump. But much more than that, it is a moment that will define America in the hearts of our children. They are watching, our soldiers are watching, the world is watching. Mr. President, act now for the good of the country.

There’s a lot to ponder here, and Romney makes some points that I hadn’t considered before.  Is it possible that Trump’s words could diminish the views of America by her allies, and as a result threaten our national security?  Possibly–and the potent fact underlying that possibility is the unique position of the presidency, which is seen as not only a bastion of great power but also moral leadership.  In not being unequivocal in his initial denouncement of the white supremacists in Charlottesville, I agree that Trump wounded not only himself, but the office he holds.  Words matter, and I still find it unbelievable that nobody in the White House–least of all the president himself–understood the gravity of the moment well enough to know that.

Where I take issue with Romney, though, is in this:

State forcefully and unequivocally that racists are 100% to blame for the murder and violence in Charlottesville. Testify that there is no conceivable comparison or moral equivalency between the Nazis–who brutally murdered millions of Jews and who hundreds of thousands of Americans gave their lives to defeat–and the counter-protestors.

The counter-protestors have a name:  Antifa.  And their manifesto is quite clear.  Some of them desire anarchy, while others are dyed-in-the-wool Communists–but what they have in common is a desire to crush any opposition to their own views and their agenda.  They use violence to punish and to terrorize anybody they view as an enemy–and that enemy could just as easily be an innocent bystander as it could be some KKK sympathizer.  To them, a “Nazi” is anyone who doesn’t agree with their point of view.  And once labeled as such, they have no reservations about dealing out what they see as appropriate punishment.  In short, Antifa has no regard for law and order, and only disdain for Constitutional rights.  Perhaps Donald Trump’s timing in criticizing them was bad, even offensive–but it doesn’t make him wrong.

Also, in granting Antifa a moral stature that they don’t deserve, Romney is inadvertently encouraging their cause.  This, in turn, will only serve to encourage their methods.  It guarantees more violence, which will keep escalating until they also kill someone.  And in doing so, they will feel entirely justified.

Good men and women should stand against all political violence, and make clear that it will not be tolerated.  I’m afraid, however, that Mitt Romney may have muddled that message.

ACLU Tosses Second Amendment Under the Bus

The American Civil Liberties Union is a group that was founded to protect the constitutional freedoms of Americans. The ACLU website brags, “For almost 100 years, the ACLU has worked to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States.” Yet there seems to be one freedom that is too controversial for the ACLU to protect.

After the Virginia branch of the ACLU aided the alt-right groups that participated in the riot in Charlottesville last weekend, the Wall Street Journal reports that the ACLU will not defend the right of “hate groups” to march with firearms. The group will also consider the potential for violence when considering whether to work with potential clients.

“The events of Charlottesville require any judge, any police chief and any legal group to look at the facts of any white-supremacy protests with a much finer comb,” said Anthony Romero, the ACLU’s executive director. “If a protest group insists, ‘No, we want to be able to carry loaded firearms,’ well, we don’t have to represent them. They can find someone else.”

There were many pictures of the white supremacist marchers openly carrying guns, which is legal in Virginia. At this point, it is unclear if any of these guns were fired during the riot, but photographer Zach Roberts did photograph an alt-right militant using a pistol to provide cover to the white supremacists who savagely beat Deandre Harris, a black special education teacher, with metal poles.

In an online statement, the ACLU said, “If white supremacists march into our towns armed to the teeth and with the intent to harm people, they are not engaging in activity protected by the United States Constitution.”

The question is one of intent. How can the ACLU determine whether marchers are peacefully exercising their Second Amendment rights or using guns to intimidate political opponents? Without evidence, the answer to that question is in the eye of the beholder.

Until they show intent to break the law, white supremacists have the same rights as any other American. The ACLU has recognized this for decades. As far back as 1978, the group defended the right of neo-Nazis in to march in Skokie, Illinois.

The problem seems to be on the Second Amendment, where the ACLU has long been ambivalent. The group historically considered the right to bear arms to be a government right to arm the militia. In 1980, the ACLU said, “With respect to firearms, the ACLU believes that this quality of dangerousness justifies legal regulation which substantially restricts the individual’s interest in freedom of choice.”

The freedom of speech and the right to bear arms are both enshrined in the Constitution that the ACLU claims to protect. These rights apply to neo-Nazis and Klan members just as they do to every other American. The ACLU has said that it would continue to deal with requests for aid by white supremacist groups on a case-by-case basis, but it is disingenuous to protect one right and not the other, even after Charlottesville.

No right is absolute. Just as freedom of speech does not include yelling “fire” in a crowded theater, the right to carry is subject to reasonable limits. It should be up to state and local governments to learn from Charlottesville and, if they see a legitimate need, enact constitutional legislation that restrict weapons under certain conditions. Virginia law already contains restrictions on the right to carry in certain circumstances.

If anyone, white supremacist or otherwise, abuses their right to bear arms by using legal guns to commit crimes, they should face stiff penalties. If this gunman, who used his gun to aid in the assault and battery of Deandre Harris, can be identified, he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, including the loss of his Second Amendment rights if he is convicted of a felony.

If the alt-right had not exercised their right to freely assemble and speak their minds, the Charlottesville riot would never have happened. In spite of that, the ACLU is not denying First Amendment aid to racist groups. Why should the Second Amendment be any different?

Sen. Tim Scott: We Want Clarity and Moral Authority From Our President

Sen. Tim Scott,  the Senate’s only African-American Republican, during an interview with VICE News on Thursday, condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists and joined the beat down on President Donald J. Trump’s comments on last weekend’s “alt-right”/”alt-left” hate riot at Charlottesville saying, what we want to see from our President is clarity and moral authority and that moral authority is compromised:

SEN. SCOTT: I am not going to defend the indefensible. I’m not here to do that. I’m here to be clear, and to be concise and succinct. His comments on Monday were strong. His comments on Tuesday started erasing the comments that were strong. What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happens. There’s no question about that. We should all call that on the carpet. I certainly have.

INTERVIEWER: So does the president have moral authority now?

SEN. SCOTT: I think he has it. He’s losing a part of it.

INTERVIEWER: He has it? You think so?

SEN. SCOTT: Also — he’s, we elected him as President so there’s no question that we gave him moral authority. The problem is that in this situation, in the last three or four days, what we’ve seen is that moral authority being compromised by the lack of clarity, by what we have seen as the, a pivot backwards, which is very unsettling for many Americans, to include me.

Scott also said that he would continue to work with Trump when they agree and speak out when he disagrees with the President.

You can watch a video of the interview below (the excerpted passage begins about 1:20 mark):

Tim Scott is an inspiring genuine Conservative. He was the seventh African-American ever elected to the Senate, and the first from the South since Reconstruction. He speaks with great authority and clarity about modern racism.

Huh? Wolf Blitzer Calls Barcelona Attack a Charlottesville Copycat

Wolf Blitzer should have had an extra cup of coffee before he went on the air Thursday, because he made one of the weirdest, nonsensical statements in a long time.

Blitzer was speaking with CNN’s Chief National Security Correspondent Jim Sciutto about the terrorist attack in Barcelona, and he tried to make a bizarre connection between the attack and Charlottesville, simply because cars were involved in both killings.

SCIUTTO: The final point I would make, Wolf, is just this, in light of the uproar of the last couple of days, five days apart you have a white supremacist in Charlottesville using a vehicle to kill, and here you have attackers at least following the modus operandi of terrorists using vehicles apparently to kill, as well. The shared tactics should be alarming.

BLITZER: Yeah, there will be questions about copycats. There will be questions if what happened in Barcelona was at all a copycat version of what happened in Charlottesville. Virginia. Even though they may be different characters [with] different political ambitions. They used the same killing device, a vehicle going at high speed into a large group of pedestrians.

Here’s the exchange on video:

I’m not trying to be funny here, but I thought Wolf Blitzer was more intelligent that this. Sciutto mentions that both incidents involve the same method of killing, but Blitzer was the one who made the leap outside of reason.

Islamic terrorists have used vehicles as weapons for years, driving into crowds time and time again to inflict as much damage as possible. If anything, the Charlottesville attack was a copycat of Islamic terrorism, rather than the other way around – but I’m not even going to go so far as to claim that theory.

The Barcelona driver and Charlottesville killer James Alex Fields had only two things in common: unhinged, abject hatred and a working vehicle. To try to tie any other threads together – simply because of timing – and call them copycat incidents stretches logic just a bit too far. Wolf Blitzer is a far better news anchor than this, and he certainly has more sense most of the time.

Family Research Council’s Tony Perkins “We are a Nation in Crisis”

Both sides are heated. Both sides feel they have a valid grievance.

After the chaotic scene of Charlottesville, Virginia last weekend, there has, unfortunately, been no time of calm or quiet reflection, in order to ponder how our nation got here, and what it will take to get us all on common ground, again.

While the events of Charlottesville revealed to the world the desperate ugliness of white nationalism, those who represent the counter-protest are quickly burning up any good will that may have been felt by those empathizing when one of their members was senselessly killed.

In cities all around the nation, protesters, made up of Black Lives Matter, Antifa, different Communist and Socialist party members are tearing down flags, destroying historical monuments, and holding city streets hostage.

Even Democrat lawmakers are calling that we scrub away entire portions of our nation’s history, with no regard to how that might alienate some citizens.

They feel they’re in the right. They are the righteous ones.

But what about the average, everyday Americans who don’t want to be terrorized by fringe groups from either side?

Our nation needs an intervention, and for all the focus on President Trump’s reaction to the Charlottesville events, it’s clear that no political intervention will ever be the answer.

Man does not have the cure for the malady of humanness. We never have, left on our own.

Tony Perkins, the president of the Family Research Council released a statement on Thursday, seeking to bridge the divide through prayer.

“We are a divided nation that is in crisis. We are no longer talking to each other – only screaming at one another. We are like a married couple in crisis.

“I understand there are strong feelings about these statues given the inflamed rhetoric that is swirling around right now. However, tearing down statues and inciting violence is not the way forward.

“Where are the media’s calls to civility that they issued immediately after James Hodgkinson, a Bernie Sanders supporter and volunteer who came to Washington with a hit list and shot my friend Steve Scalise?

“I’ve dealt with those domestic situations as both a police officer and a pastor. I prefer the route of restoring the relationship rather than having to cart one of the parties off to jail which rarely brings reconciliation.

“What I believe the president should do is call for a time out and call for a day of prayer for America’s healing. I know there are some who will squawk at the idea of a Day of Prayer and Reconciliation — let them instead have a Day of Silence.

“Nothing good can come from the current shouting match that the Left and Right is engaged in – we are bitterly divided and the fissure is only getting deeper by the day.

“I echo the media’s message after Steve Scalise was shot: ratchet down the rhetoric. But I add that we should go a step further this time and let us take a day to seek God and pray for him to bring healing to our nation,” concluded Perkins.

But a nation of imperfect people quickly forgets, and it seems there are no lessons learned.

It is time to seek revival with trembling, asking for forgiveness, first, and then for the help of an almighty God.

This we must do, because every human method of reconciliation has failed, and we can’t take much more.

Psalm 33:12 NIV – “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance.”

‘Fine People’ Were Told To Avoid Charlottesville Nazi Rally

One of President Trump’s most controversial statements about the Charlottesville riot was his comment that there were “fine people” on both sides of the fracas that left one woman dead. Now new information casts doubt on the president’s assumption that not all the participants in the rally were part of radical groups.

The president’s statement seems to hinge on his belief that some attendees at the rally were not members of the alt-right, but were merely there to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. In a press conference on Tuesday, Trump said, “You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”

A report by the Wall Street Journal casts doubt on the president’s claim that the protesters were not exclusively white supremacists. The Journal cites a source with knowledge of the Monument Fund, Inc., one of the groups that originally obtained an injunction against removal of the Lee statue, who said that their members did not participate in the rally.

“Nobody from our group attended the protests or counter-protests,” the source said. “We all stayed away. As everybody should have done. As President Sullivan of U VA urged people to do. Just stay home. But City Councilors and a coalition of leftist groups invited their followers to show up for counter protests. And show up they did, angry and spoiling for a fight.”

The narrative continued, “If City Council had just said: let the Nazis shout idiot slogans at empty air, ignore them, stay home — no violence would have happened. The police are unfairly criticized for not stopping the fighting. How could they? These two groups wanted to fight. They found ways to get at each other. These are public streets, they could not all be locked down and cleared of belligerents.”

Contrary to President Trump and some on the right, the Charlottesville rally was not about preservation of historic statues. The rally, as advertised, was a “Unite the Right” rally for white supremacists. Rather than mainstream historians or politicians, speakers included alt-right figures such as Richard Spencer, Mike Peinovich, Matthew Heimbach and David Duke.

On Friday, Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe urged people to avoid the Charlottesville rally. McAuliffe asked in a statement for people “either in support or opposition to the planned rally to make alternative plans.”

Since President Trump claimed to wait until the facts were in to make a statement, he may have additional information of “fine people” in attendance at the alt-right rally. If so, the burden of proof is on him.

When You’ve Lost Republicans On Fox News, You’ve Lost Middle America

President Trump’s comments about the Charlottesville riot have drawn condemnation from all quarters of the country. The true extent of the political damage to the president is not fully known at this point, but Fox News host Shepard Smith offered a clue. According to Smith, Fox News, a channel normally friendly to Trump and Republicans, could not find a single Republican to defend Trump’s statements on the air.

“Our booking team — and they’re good — reached out to Republicans of all stripes across the country today,” Smith said on his show Wednesday. “Let’s be honest, Republicans don’t often really mind coming on Fox News Channel. We couldn’t get anyone to come and defend him here because we thought, in balance, someone should do that.”

“We worked very hard at it throughout the day, and we were unsuccessful,” Smith continued.

Throughout his short political career, the president has never had trouble finding Republicans to defend him. On issues from his connections to Russia to the Access Hollywood tape, there were always people willing to go on record to back Donald Trump and excuse his behavior.

While few, if any, Republicans are defending Trump, several are now condemning him by name. On Wednesday, Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement, “Through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer. I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.”

“Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world,” Graham continued.

In a tweet, John McCain (R-Ariz.) said, “There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so.”

Marco Rubio (R-Fl.) launched a series of tweets in which he said that the white supremacist organizers of the Unite The Right rally in Charlottesville are “100% to blame for a number of reasons.”

“Mr. President,” Rubio tweeted, “you can’t allow White Supremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain.”

The list of other Republicans breaking with Trump on the issue is growing. CNN reports that it now includes Corey Gardner (R-Col.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) and John Kasich (R-Ohio).

While Republicans have largely stood by the president since his nomination, Trump’s behavior is increasingly becoming a liability to Republicans who must face voters themselves. This is especially true when Trump veers into the emotionally charged world of race.

One of the few things that unites almost all Americans is a hatred for racism and Nazis. With his statement that there were “very fine people on both sides,” Trump has put his administration and the Republican Party firmly on the wrong side of the issue.

The proof is the lack of Republicans willing to back the president on Charlottesville. When Republicans won’t go on Fox News to defend President Trump, he is in serious trouble.

Are A Burglar and Killer the Same?

Yesterday, the President gave an impromptu press conference at Trump Tower to a group of eager journalists who have been manhandled all year by a turntable of press secretaries. They have been waiting to just get the straight story from the horse’s mouth. What they got was something figuratively similar, yet anatomically different, and anything but straight.

It was supposed to be a briefing on his infrastructure plan. Some journalists reported administration staff covering their faces, and refusing to look the press pool in the eye.

He ruined any attempt by our conservative movement to patch together the mess created this weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, and move on. He doubled down on false equivalencies. He claimed (seven times) he wanted to “wait for the facts” before calling out the white nationalists, when he NEVER waits for the facts on anything else. He did it while lashing out as an angry man, not a respectable President.

Most Republican leaders stood strong, clear, and unequivocal against what happened. They named names, and left no doubt. They didn’t try to “balance” the message. Everyone from House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senator Marco Rubio to Senators Cory Gardner and the always blunt Lindsey Graham even trump’s surrogates on cable news made it clear: there is no room for hatred or violence in the Republican Party.

But that wasn’t good enough for the president. He inexplicably felt it necessary to teach us all that all sides are good, and all sides are bad.

The worst dung pile was his claim that the alt-right protest was filled with “very fine” and “good people.” Rather than leave it to general implications, he specifically pointed out the several hundred marchers with tiki-torches and racist symbols from the night before, claiming they were “peaceful,” “quiet,” and saying they were just protesting the removal of a statue to a man who took up arms to defend slavery.

The president thinks both sides have “very fine” and “very bad people,” therefore, we should just drop it. He’s determined to just “say it” because no one else will. “There are two sides to every story.” Even if the story was begun by one side. Furthermore, he seems to think chants of “you [and jews] will not replace us,” “blood and soil,” and yelling epithets and profanities are “very fine.” Because they had a permit.

He was sure to point out several times that the counter-protesters “didn’t have a permit.” Wow. Call the National Guard.

Furthermore, some antifa protesters, as always, infiltrated the spontaneous counter-protests and began fighting, throwing things and getting into tussles with the white nationalists. Oh no. Lock em up for life.

Never mind that the alt-right violated their permit.

When will the equivalency stop? When will the rationalization stop? When will the spin stop? Yeah, it takes two to tango. And while a burglar and killer are both criminals, they are not the same. Rioters and murderers both deserve prison, but they are not the same evil. They both should be called out by name, rejected and treated judiciously, but they are not equal. Sadly, in an age where an admitted sexual predator who makes creepy comments about his “hot” daughter’s body can be considered president, it appears many want to assuage their guilt-by-association with false equivalencies. It makes us sound ridiculous.


When someone brings up the alt-right, don’t respond with “but ________.”

When the president speaks, then contradicts himself, don’t tell us what he meant.

You were mad that President Obama’s administration called Nidal Hassan’s Fort Hood shooting “workplace violence.” So was I. You were mad that Obama wouldn’t use “Islamic terrorist,” for political reasons. So was I. You were mad that he wouldn’t call out Black Lives Matter for instigating anger and riots. So was I.

I am more conservative than most people, but I am apparently one of the few willing to be intellectually honest.

I’m embarrassed. You should be too.

I’m ready for Pence, Speaker Ryan. Save 2018, 2020, and the next 20 years of our political lives.

But above all, save our collective conscience, our dignity, and our souls.