Friday, May 26, 2017

On Body Slamming Reporters, Memorial Day and What's Really at Stake in America

Greg Gianforte won his election yesterday for the open Montana Congressional race.  This victory came on the heels of a misdemeanor assault charge for "body slamming" a journalist from the Guardian.  Gianforte's win is "disappointing" to Democrats who pumped a lot of money into this race while trying to install a folk singer named Rob Quist as Congressman.

Gianforte apologized for the assault--as he should have.  I am not condoning attacking reporters; every person of good will should be opposed to assault on a journalist.  I have journalists in my family so I am particularly aware of the importance of freedom of the press.  And I do believe that we are witnessing a hardening and coarsening of our culture that began long before the last election and has worsened since.  I believe that this hardening is ultimately very damaging to the society as a whole.

As people who read this blog already know, I did not vote for Donald Trump in the last election--nor did I vote for Hillary Clinton.  For the first time in my adult life I voted for a third-party candidate.  I agreed completely with author Brad Thor's description of the Trump campaign as "an embarrassment to clown shows," and I really think that description applies aptly to his administration as well.  I have given up on seeing a genuine repeal of Obamacare, a repeal of Dodd Frank, or even a really good tax plan.  At this point I am just really hoping he keeps his word about not honoring the Paris Climate Accords.  I still believe that Trump has neither the temperament nor the skills to be a good president.

Having said all of that, however, I also am increasingly aware that the media circus that covers Donald Trump and for that matter Greg Gianforte and all other GOP candidates and politicians is in itself a clown show.  Daily headlines about Russian involvement in the last election, bad behavior by the Trump camp and general incivility from our elected leaders are basically smoke screens.  These headlines are designed with one aim in mind--to paint all conservatives as fascist, violent brutes and to make Democrat candidates look more attractive for future elections.

As we look at these headlines, I think we need to not forget that beneath all of the nonsense there is a really serious movement afoot to take this country down a hard-left path from which we will never return.  In just a decade, the left has moved from demanding free healthcare and higher minimum wage to Mark Zuckerberg's suggestion this week during a commencement speech that we should have universal income: “Every generation expands its definition of equality. Previous generations fought for the vote and civil rights, they had the  New Deal and the Great Society. And now it’s time for our generation to define a new social contract. We should have a society that measures progress not by economic metrics like GDP but by how many of us have a role we find meaningful.
“We should explore ideas like universal basic income to make sure everyone has a cushion to try new ideas. We’re all going to change jobs and roles many times so we all need affordable childcare and healthcare that’s not tied to one employer.”

Universal income? Really?  The government should guarantee income so that people can try new ideas?  The last person to posit an idea this absurd was Nancy Pelosi when she promised that Obamacare would free people from "job lock" and allow them to pursue their artistic talents.

Or how about this piece I shared two weeks ago from the New York Times entitled How Homeownership Became the Engine of Income Inequality.  When I shared this piece two weeks ago it was to comment on the fact that the author equated mortgage interest deductions with Section 8 housing subsidies.  But the real point of this article is that in our society homeownership is reserved for the more fortunate while the less fortunate are left out and that homeownership itself is a symptom of inequality.

The author writes, "The owner-renter divide is as salient as any other in this nation, and this divide is a historical result of statecraft designed to protect and promote inequality. Ours was not always a nation of homeowners; the New Deal fashioned it so, particularly through the G.I. Bill of Rights."

The article profiles several families--some of whom own homes and others of whom are renters.  The first person profiled immigrated to the U.S. from Ghana as a child and was initially enrolled in a school in Boston where he faced a lot of discrimination.  However, his parents saw that he was being bullied by white classmates so they took him out of that school and enrolled him in a private academy--an act which paved the way for his future success.  Today he is the founder of a consulting and technology company and his wife is a tenured professor of romance languages at Boston College. The couple's income is $290,000 a year and they recently purchased a $665,000.00 home.  To contrast their success they profile a single mother who earned  $38,000 a year in her job in a non-profit before being fired.  This woman cannot get housing subsidies from the city of Boston.  She is unable to improve her life due to a lack of available welfare.  The author notes that she wears "thick glasses" so I suppose we are to believe that this renders her incapable of improving her life through more traditional means--like finding a mate with an additional income.  She tells the reporter that she may have to move in with family members.

We the reader are supposed to be outraged because our system favors those who have supportive family structures, those with enough ambition to pursue and obtain higher education and those who pursue good job opportunities and marry well.  People who choose not to pursue education, who are not as ambitious or who choose to be single parents do not enjoy the same level of success or the same rewards. When all is said and done, the real villain is our inherently unfair capitalist system which rewards some behaviors and not others and prevents equality of outcomes.

The solution to this unfairness, in the eyes of the New York Times, the DNC and Zuckerberg and the Silicon Valley crowd, is socialism.  If only America could be a socialist paradise everyone would have equality--equality of income, housing, experience. 

When I was reading the article, I thought about what my sister-in-law told me about Venezuela.  My sister-in-law had prosperous friends living in Venezuela when Hugo Chavez took power.  Brenda told me that when Chavez socialized the country, the government no longer allowed one family to occupy a home.  Her friends had to open their home to whomever the government chose to move in with them.  Their property was now the property of the government and the government decided how it could be used.  They eventually left Venezuela and moved to the U.S. but the government had essentially seized everything they owned. 

What Zuckerberg and Company won't tell the American people is that in order to give to those who don't have anything, the government must take everything from those who do.  This is not just in the form of income redistribution through higher taxes--ultimately it is wholesale confiscation of all personal property and wealth. 

In his insightful piece in The Daily Signal, Ricardo Pita summarizes the real impact of a government like that of Hugo Chavez.  He was born in Venezuela and lived there as a child before his parents immigrated after watching leftist schemes destroy his country.  He writes, "Socialism is a scam best understood by those who sell it and, eventually, the ones swindled by it."

This weekend we celebrate Memorial Day and we remember the men and women who fought and died to defend our country against threats to our freedom.  Today, although we have conflicts worldwide and threats from terrorism and here and overseas, the biggest threat to our freedom is not an enemy we can defeat in battle.  The biggest threat to our freedom is the promise of a socialist paradise where every need and desire of every person is satisfied by the federal government.  Democrats have not been able to sell this lie on its own merits, so instead they are trying something else--keeping a media circus going until Americans are so sick and tired of the "embarrassment to clown shows" that they vote in a leftist government with a socialist agenda.

I am not saying we should give the current Administration or the bad actors a pass.  I am saying that we need to understand the bigger issues involved and determine which stories have merit and which are just part of the on-going circus.

Alexandra Swann has a master's degree in history with emphasis on the French Revolution. Her novel, The Planner about an out-of-control, environmentally-driven federal government, is available on Kindle and in paperback. For more information, visit her website at