A Tipping-Point in Race Relations

Friday, November 21, 2014, my eighty-first birthday, was to have been a happy occasion, featuring a great dinner with friends at Tulsa’s finest German restaurant and many cards and letters from far-flung children and grandchildren.  But a late email printout detailing events in Geneva, Switzerland, took a bit of the luster off the day.

The email I received was a copy of a thirteen-page document filed with the 53rd Session of the United Nations Committee against Torture, meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, from November 3-28, 2014.  The title of the complaint was: “United States Compliance with the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment.”  It was subtitled, “Written Statement on the Police Shooting of Michael Brown and Ensuing Police Violence Against Protesters in Ferguson, Missouri.”  It was hand delivered to Geneva by Michael Brown’s parents: Michael Brown, Sr. and Lesley McSpadden.  .

The cover page of the complaint asserts that the complaint was submitted by the Brown family, who hand-delivered it to Geneva, as well as organizations called HandsUpUnited, Organization for Black Struggle (OBS), and Missourians Organized for Reform and Empowerment (MORE).

In a CNN interview, Brown’s mother insisted that, “We need the world to know what’s going on in Ferguson and we need justice…  We need answers and we need action.  And we have to bring it to the U.N. so they can expose it to the rest of the world, what’s going on in small town Ferguson.”

But, all emotion aside, what are the facts?  We know that, on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, Jr. a 6 ft. 4 in. 292 lb. black teenager, was identified on videotape as the individual who engaged in the robbery of a convenience store in Ferguson, Missouri, a suburb of St. Louis.  In the video, Brown is seen taking a box of Swisher Sweet cigars (valued at approximately $49.00) from the checkout counter of the convenience store, a 2nd degree theft under Missouri law.

As he and a friend prepared to exit the store, Brown is challenged by a store employee who attempted to lock the door before the two could leave the premises.  However, Brown prevented the clerk from locking the door and as he and his accomplice walked out the door, he grabbed the store clerk by the lapels and shoved him backward into a display rack.  And when the store clerk continued to protest, Brown turned and approached him in a threatening manner.

Minutes later, Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson, a fugitive from justice on a theft charge from Jefferson City, Missouri, were seen walking defiantly down the middle of a street near the convenience store they’d just robbed.  Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, on routine patrol, arrived on the scene and instructed Brown and Johnson to “get the [expletive] off the street.”

At that point one must assume that Brown, having just robbed a convenience store and assaulted a store clerk, feared that he was about to be taken into custody in connection with the robbery he’d committed just minutes before.  With that thought in mind, he decided that he would not allow himself to be arrested and taken into custody, with a potential jail term to follow.  Instead, when Officer Wilson prepared to exit his police cruiser, Brown attacked him and forced him back into the vehicle.  Having been physically assaulted by a young man, much younger and stronger than himself, Officer Wilson was then justified in the use of deadly force.  However, as the officer prepared to unholster his sidearm while seated inside his vehicle, Brown reached through the open window and attempted to wrest the weapon from the officer’s hand.  A struggle ensured during which two shots were fired, one of them striking Brown in the wrist.

According to Officer Wilson and several eye witnesses, Wilson then exited his vehicle and attempted to take Brown into custody.  At which time Brown, who had been walking away from the scene, turned and charged the officer.  Certain that he could not survive an attack by a man 6 ft. 4 in. tall and weighing nearly 300 lb., the officer fired four additional shots before Brown dropped to the pavement.

But this is not the story that Brown’s fugitive friend told police and the media.  According to his version, Brown was walking toward the officer with his hands in the air, attempting to surrender.  An autopsy showed that Brown had been shot six times in the front of his body.  What is not clear is the source of the unsubstantiated charge that Brown was shot in the back.

Nor is it the story that Brown’s parents told in their testimony before the U.N. committee in Geneva.  According to their account, “Midday on August 9, 2014, Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black male, was walking down a small street in the middle of an apartment complex with a friend when they were approached by a white police officer.  According to his friend, the closest witness to the afternoon’s events, the officer approached them in his SUV police vehicle, told them to ‘get the [expletive] off the sidewalk,’ which then escalated into a confrontation.  After a struggle, the officer began to shoot the teen.  Brown ran away, as he was hit by the officer’s bullets.  The officer chased the teen on foot, and according to multiple witnesses, even after Michael Brown raised his hands to surrender and begged the officer not to shoot, the officer continued to fire.  No witness reported any orders given to Brown as these shots were fired.”

 Nowhere in their testimony is there a hint that Brown and his friend had just committed a strong-arm robbery of a business establishment.  Nowhere in their testimony do they speculate about their son’s state of mind… how he may have concluded that he and his friend were about to be arrested as suspects in a felony crime and, in an effort to avoid arrest, attacked and wounded a police officer.  Nowhere in their testimony do they mention that their son was first shot in a struggle over the police officer’s handgun.  Nowhere in their testimony do they mention that their son’s friend, Dorian Johnson, himself a fugitive from justice, may not be a credible witness.  And nowhere in their testimony do they suggest that the officer told the boys to “get the [expletive] off the street.”  Instead, they testified that the officer told the boys to “get the [expletive] off the sidewalk.”

The Browns testified that, “The teenager was hit by at least six shots, according to an autopsy performed by a pathologist not affiliated with the government.  The autopsy further revealed that the final shots included one that entered his eye, and another at the top of the head, which may have indicated his head was lowered as he collapsed or kneeled to surrender.  The intentional, arbitrary killing of Michael Brown, shot to death by Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson, amounts to torture under Article I of the Convention.”   

Was the pathologist “not affiliated with the government,” an expert hired by the Brown family, a credible witness?  And is it even within the realm of possibility that an experienced police officer would “execute” a teenager, in cold-blood, in broad daylight, as he knelt to surrender?  Is it not more reasonable to conclude that Brown was shot in the top of his head at close range as he lowered his head to charge the officer?

But now the nation is threatened with a massive outbreak of violence if the St. Louis County grand jury refuses to indict Officer Wilson.  The demonstrations and rioting that have followed the shooting are a blot on the black community.  And if the grand jury concludes that Officer Wilson acted in self-defense, which they likely will, we can expect unprecedented violence in the streets where the black community in and around St. Louis will loot neighborhood business establishments and burn many homes to the ground.

Brown’s mother told a CNN reporter in an interview, “We need the world to know what’s going on in Ferguson and we need justice…  We need answers and we need action.”

Justice?  Answers?  Action?  These are not what the professional race hustlers want.  What they want is revenge, not justice.  Nor are they going to like the answers they’re likely to get from the St. Louis County grand jury.  And while the “action” they want is the indictment of Officer Wilson, the only “action” they will get is a lot of grief raining down on the heads of black people across the country as they loot and burn many of the businesses where they work, and burn their own neighborhoods to the ground.

And while we can all empathize with the Brown family for the loss of a son, Brown’s parents should be ashamed of themselves for allowing themselves to be so blatantly used and taken advantage of by professional race agitators, the attorney general of the United States included.  But then, it’s not every day they’re treated to an all-expense-paid trip to Geneva.

If black people across the country are looking for something on which they can vent their anger and outrage, the killing of Michael Brown is a very poor choice.  They would be better advised to take a closer look at Barack Obama’s Chicago, where black-on-black murders spiked to 516 in 2012, the second time homicides have surpassed 500 since 2003.  And they might want to take a closer look at white liberals and Democrats who have raised their expectations to the skies and then did nothing of substance to help them achieve the promised social and economic progress.

At this writing, the St. Louis County grand jury has not handed down either an indictment of Officer Wilson, or a finding of self-defense.  And while it is understandable that members of the grand jury, whose names and home addresses are almost certainly known throughout the black community, are afraid to hand down a ruling that would exonerate Officer Wilson, the obvious jury nullification debacle of the O.J. Simpson trial and the violence that occurred in South Los Angeles in the wake of the Rodney King police beating is still far too fresh in the minds of the American people.  We are at a tipping point in race relations and we should all be very afraid.

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Halloween Candy at the White House

The Congressional Medal of Honor (CMOH) was created in 1861 during the early months of the Civil War.  It is the nation’s highest military honor and is awarded for “personal acts of valor, above and beyond the call of duty.”  Since its inception, 3,469 CMOH have been awarded, more than half during the Civil War when acts of “uncommon valor” were more loosely construed than in subsequent wars.

Of the twenty-eight presidents who’ve served since the CMOH was established, only eight have had no military service, including a group of six consecutive presidents covering the period from March 1913 through April 1945.  Those six were Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.  Roosevelt was afflicted with polio and would not have been accepted into military service under any circumstance.

In more recent history, seventy-four CMOH have been awarded since 1992.  Bill Clinton awarded thirty-eight during his eight years in office (22 of which were awarded, deservedly, to Japanese-Americans, even though their friends and relatives were being held in internment camps), George W. Bush awarded eleven medals during his eight years in office, and Barack Obama has awarded twenty-five CMOH in less than six years in office.  And although I would not wish to accuse Obama of having anything but the most honorable of intentions, it sometimes seems as if every time he feels the need for a bit of face-time with the TV cameras he passes out yet another CMOH… almost as if they were Halloween candy.

On January 20, 1993, the day of the inauguration of George H.W. Bush, I attended an inaugural ball honoring the living recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor as a guest of the military officers who comprised the Honor Guard for the CMOH recipients.

The inaugural ball was held in the Grand Ballroom of the Capitol Hilton Hotel, in Washington, and as my lady friend and I stood at the center of the room, surrounded by a host of men and women in formal attire, I couldn’t help but notice the beautiful blue ribbons encircling the black satin collars of many of the honored guests, and the magnificent five-pointed star that dangled just below the black bow ties of their formal attire.

We were surrounded by no fewer than fifty-four Medal of Honor recipients, all gathered in one room, and as I attempted to envision the heroic deeds that those men had performed to merit those medals, a cold chill ran up my spine and the hair stood up on the back of my neck.  It was a great honor for this former field artillery corporal just to be in the same room with them.

What causes me to recall that very special evening was the recent news that Barack Obama has awarded the CMOH, posthumously, to Lieutenant Alonzo H. Cushing, who was fatally wounded at the Battle of Gettysburg on July 3, 1863, in the decisive battle of the Civil War known as Pickett’s Charge.

Cushing, a classmate of General George Armstrong Custer, graduated from West Point in early June 1861.  Although he and other members of his class were not scheduled to graduate until May 1862, the need for infantry and artillery officers… in both the Union and Confederate Armies… was such that the graduation of the Class of 1862 was moved up to June 1861.

At the Battle of Gettysburg, Cushing served as commanding officer of Battery A, 4th U.S. Artillery.  He was mortally wounded on July 3, 1861, just twenty five months after graduation, on a hilltop near the town of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  The objective of the Confederate forces, under command of General George E. Pickett, was a spot of ground called Cemetery Ridge.  It was an ill-fated and ill-conceived military assault that history has recorded as Pickett’s Charge.

According to historical accounts, Cushing was wounded three times.  His first wound was caused by a shell fragment that passed through his shoulder.  His second wound was caused by shrapnel that struck him in the abdomen and the groin.  The abdominal wound was said to have been so severe that it exposed his intestines, which he then held in place with his hand as he continued to command his troops.

As he did so, a superior officer instructed him to go to the rear, where he could receive medical attention, but Cushing refused to leave and stood by his guns.  However, because of the severity of his wounds, he was unable to make himself heard over the sounds of battle.  As he was held erect by his First Sergeant, who communicated his orders to his cannoneers, Cushing was fatally wounded when a bullet entered his mouth and exited through the back of his skull.

The Confederate soldiers under Pickett’s direct command were almost exclusively from Virginia, with supporting troops from Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, and Tennessee.  And while the Union forces lost about 1,500 killed and wounded, the Confederate casualty rate was over 50% of their total strength.  Pickett’s division alone suffered 498 killed, 643 wounded, and 833 wounded and captured… a total of 1,974 casualties.

The division commanded by General J. Johnston Pettigrew, which marched on Pickett’s left flank, suffered losses estimated at 2,363, including 470 killed and 1,893 wounded.  The division commanded by General Isaac R. Trimble, which marched in support of Pettigrew’s division, suffered 855 casualties, with 155 killed and 650 wounded.  The brigade commanded by General Cadmus M. Wilcox, which supported Pickett’s right flank, suffered 200 killed and wounded, while the brigade commanded by Col. David Lang lost approximately 400.  It is estimated that total losses during Pickett’s Charge came to 6,555, of which at least 1,123 Confederates were killed, 4,019 wounded, and a good number of others wounded and captured.

And while Lieutenant Cushing and other members of the Union Army fought bravely and valiantly, the same can be said of the sons of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia who fought valiantly during Pickett’s assault on Cemetery Ridge.

On the Confederate side of the battle line there was much less attention paid to decorations for valor.  On October 13, 1862, the Confederate Congress in Richmond, Virginia, approved legislation creating a wartime award called the Southern Cross of Honor.  The statute was titled, “An Act to authorize the grant of medals and badges of distinction as a reward for courage and good conduct on the field of battle.”  The text of the act read as follows:

The Congress of the Confederate States of America do enact, That the President be, and he is hereby, authorized to bestow medals with proper devices upon such officers of the armies of the Confederate States as shall be conspicuous for courage and good conduct on the field of battle; and also to confer a badge of distinction upon one private or noncommissioned officer of each company after every signal victory it shall have assisted to achieve. The noncommissioned officers and privates of the company who may be present on the first dress parade thereafter may choose, by a majority of their votes, the soldier best entitled to receive such distinction, whose name shall be communicated to the President by commanding officers of the company…”

However, Civil War historians tell us that the medals and badges of distinction were never conferred upon any officer, non-commissioned officer, or private, in spite of the fact that NCOs and privates of any victorious unit were given the right to confer the award, by majority vote, on one of their fellow soldiers.

The concept of a Southern Cross of Honor was revived in July 1898, some thirty-three years after the end of hostilities, at a reunion of Confederate veterans.  The United Daughters of the Confederacy were authorized to confer the medal on any Confederate veteran who was found to have provided “loyal, honorable service to the South…. in recognition of this devotion.”

Although the last verified Confederate veteran died in 1951, the Commonwealth of Virginia continues to make it a Class 3 Misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of not more than $500, for any person to wear the Southern Cross of Honor, “when not entitled to do so by the regulations under which such Crosses of Honor are given.”

Lorenzo Cushing’s story is a gripping tale of heroism and there is no doubt that his courage in battle deserves to be recognized and commemorated.  However, the question arises, is it entirely appropriate and in good taste, 150 years after Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, to continue to rub salt into old wounds by commemorating the valor of Union soldiers who killed and wounded large numbers of other Americans in a civil war?  Is it not time we relegated the Civil War, the saddest chapter in American history, to where it belongs: the pages of history?

Would it not be more appropriate to erect a monument to Cushing’s bravery in the town square of his hometown, Fredonia, New York?  Of course, such an event would not provide a photo-op for Obama, a man who lacked the courage to wear the uniform of the United States, even in peacetime, but who now insists, unashamedly, on being called the “commander in chief.”

Of the seventy-five CMOH awarded since 1993, thirty-eight were awarded by Bill Clinton, a Vietnam War draft dodger, while Barack Obama, a man who used a forged draft card as part of his identity documentation when he ran for president, is on a path toward awarding 35 CMOH during eight years in office.  Were Clinton and Obama really concerned about the courageous acts of men in battle, or were they more interested in the photo-ops provided by passing out the CMOH as if they were Halloween candy for heroes?  We’ll never know, but what we do know is that men often do very uncharacteristic things when they are motivated by a guilty conscience.

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No, Ted Cruz is Not Eligible

On October 31, 2014, MinuteManNews.com published an article by Greg Conterio, titled, “Yes, Ted Cruz is Eligible to Serve as President,” Over the past seven years, since the day Barack Obama crawled out of the political cesspools of South Chicago, I have written numerous articles on the question of his eligibility to serve as president… the longest of which is a comprehensive 13-page analysis of the term “natural born Citizen” titled, “The Obama Eligibility Question .”

Now, as we enter the 2016 campaign season, with Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA), mentioned as potential presidential candidates, a great many Americans remain confused about the definition of the term “natural born Citizen.” Although each of these men are eligible to serve as governors, as U.S. Senators, as members of the U.S. House of Representatives, or even justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, none are eligible to serve as president or vice president because they are not “natural born Citizens,” as required by Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution.

Cruz was born in Canada to an American mother and a Cuban father; Jindal was born in the U.S. to a father and mother, both of whom were citizens of India; Rubio was born in the U.S to parents, both of whom were citizens of Cuba; and Santorum was born in the U.S. to an American mother and an Italian father. Under provisions of the 14th Amendment, all are “citizens at birth,” but none are “natural born” citizens because of their non-citizen parentage.

Aware that Senator Cruz was born in Canada to a Cuban father, Conterio relies on language contained in 8 USC §1401 to support his contention that Cruz is a “natural born” citizen. That statutory language defines a “citizen at birth” as “a person born outside of the United States and its outlying possessions of parents one of whom is a citizen of the United States who has been physically present in the United States or one of its outlying possessions for a continuous period of one year prior to the birth of such person, and the other of whom is… not a citizen of the United States.” At no point does the statute mention the term “natural born Citizen,” nor does it attempt to show that the terms “natural born Citizen” and “citizen at birth” are synonymous.  To the contrary, when the Founders inserted the words “natural born Citizen” in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution, as a principal qualification for those who wished to serve as president of the United States, it was their intention that all those born with any taint of foreign allegiance should be barred from the presidency and the vice presidency.  Hence, the term “natural born Citizen.”

Under the 14th Amendment, all those born in the United States to American citizen parents, as well as those born to foreign nationals or parents of mixed nationality, are “citizens at birth.”  In other words, all “natural born” citizens are “citizens at birth,” but not all “citizens at birth” are “natural born.”  However, Conterio contends that the terms “natural born Citizen” and “Citizen at birth” are synonymous, just as the terms “dog” and “domestic canine” are synonymous.  That simply is not true.  Those terms are no more synonymous than the terms “apple” and “orange.”  But then, Conterio goes on to argue that, “Based on U.S. law, the terms ‘natural born Citizen’ and ‘Citizen at birth’ are synonymous.”  However, in the next breath he reverses course, saying, “The Founders said ‘Natural Born Citizen,’ and the U.S. Code says ‘Citizen at Birth,’ which mean two completely different things.”  So which is it?  Either the terms are “synonymous,” or are they “two completely different things?”  They can’t be both.

What many who support the eligibility of Cruz, Jindal, Rubio, and Santorum refuse to consider is that there are only two jobs in all of America that require the incumbents to be “natural born” citizens.  Those jobs are president and vice president of the United States.  Every other job in America, in government or in the private sector, can be filled by natural born citizens, by citizens at birth, by naturalized citizens, or, in some cases, by non-citizens with work visas.  Those who agree that there are several categories of citizenship, but then argue that the Constitution puts no unique requirements on candidates for president and vice president, have an obligation to explain what they see as the difference between a “natural born” citizen and any other kind of citizen.

 In his analysis, Conterio relies heavily on an April 3, 2009 memorandum prepared by attorney Jack Maskell of the Congressional Research Service (CRS). The Maskell memorandum, which has been widely discredited, was produced for one reason and one reason alone: to give political cover to members of Congress who voted to certify Obama’s Electoral College votes, knowing or strongly suspecting that he was not eligible for that office.

The gist of Maskell’s argument is that “…there is no federal law, regulation, rule, guideline, or requirement that a candidate for federal office produce his or her original birth certificate, or a certified copy of the record of live birth, to any official of the United States government… Furthermore, there is no specific federal agency or office that ‘vets’ candidates for federal office as to qualifications or eligibility… ”

 

No specific federal agency or office that “vets” candidates for federal office as to qualifications or eligibility?  Upon being sworn into office in early January, following each biennial General Election, all members of Congress are required to swear the following oath: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God.”

The congressional oath of office clearly requires all members of Congress to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” That includes all those who would seek to gain access to the presidency without the necessary qualifications.

The presidential selection process provides three vetting opportunities for president and vice president. Unfortunately, all three vetting opportunities failed miserably in 2008-09.  The first occurred at the close of the Democratic national convention, in Denver, when the convention chairman, Rep. Nancy Pelosi, and the convention secretary, Alice Travis Germond, certified Barack Obama and Joe Biden to the 50 state election boards so that ballots could be printed.

Because Hawaii has specific certification requirements under Hawaii Revised Statutes §11-113, Pelosi and Germond certified to the State of Hawaii, as follows: “THIS IS TO CERTIFY that at  the National Convention of the Democrat Party of the United States of America, held in Denver, Colorado, on August 25 though (sic) 28, 2008, the following were duly nominated candidates of said Party for President and Vice President of the United States respectively, and that the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution.”

The certifications sent to the other 49 states read, simply: “THIS IS TO CERTIFY that at the National Convention of the Democrat Party of the United States of America, held in Denver, Colorado, on August 25 though (sic) 28, 2008, the following were duly nominated as candidates of said Party for President and Vice President of the United States, respectively.” Affixed were the names and home addresses of Barack Obama and Joe Biden.  The phrase, “… and that the following candidates for President and Vice President of the United States are legally qualified to serve under the provisions of the United States Constitution” was purposely omitted.

Other than that, all of the documents were identical… even to the misspelling of the word “through” in the second line of the certifications. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that Democrats knew when they nominated him that Obama was not a “natural born” citizen and, therefore, ineligible to serve.  Pelosi was aware that certifying falsely to Obama’s eligibility was a criminal offense, so the question arises, what did she know, and when did she know it?

The second vetting opportunity occurred on December 15, 2008, when the Democratic members of the Electoral College met to elect Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Even though most electors had been warned in advance that Obama did not meet the constitutional requirements to serve as president, all 365 Democratic electors, anxious to have another Democrat in the White House, violated their electoral oaths and cast their ballots for Obama.

The third and final vetting opportunity occurred on January 8, 2009, when the Congress met in joint session to certify the votes of the Electoral College. Prior to that date, essentially every member of Congress had been advised that Obama’s citizenship status was seriously in doubt.  So, if a member of Congress suspected that the Electoral College had erred, it was his/her solemn obligation to make those suspicions known and to object to the certification of the Electoral College vote. Yet, all 535 members of Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike, purposely violated their oath of office by failing to demand an examination of Obama’s qualifications.

Why did they do so? Although we can’t read the minds of 535 members of Congress, we can “bet the farm” that most failed to question Obama’s eligibility because they were terrified at what would happen in the streets of America if the first black man ever elected by the Electoral College was turned away at the last moment on a constitutional “technicality.”  Instead, the double-redundant “fail safe” system envisioned by the Founders suffered catastrophic failure.

But now, with the potential candidacies of Ted Cruz, Bobby Jindal, Marco Rubio, or Rick Santorum, Republican principles will soon be put to the test. We will see whether Republicans, who, unlike Democrats, believe in the strict construction of the Constitution and the rule of law, will have sufficient reverence for the words of the Constitution to deny the nomination to a candidate who does not meet the necessary qualifications.  Knowing Republicans as I do, I feel certain that they will distinguish themselves by refusing to nominate an unqualified candidate.

 

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