A Conversation on Race

In his chilling account of the social and economic turbulence in which we now find ourselves – an essay written for the May 11, 2020 edition of The American Spectator, titled “A Time to Hate” – Rabbi Dov Fischer sets the stage by quoting from the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3:

To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven;

A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that
 which is planted;

A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up…

A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

These are all part of the human experience, the realities of life that most of us encounter during our lifetime.  We’re born, we grow up, we plant, we harvest, we create new life, and if we are so blessed, we play a positive role in the lives of others.  On the other hand, some of us die in infancy or childhood, some of us waste our lives on drugs and alcohol, and some of us lead lives of “quiet desperation” from beginning to end.

Rabbi Fischer goes on to say that he believes most people have the potential for goodness and that he has always tried to find the good in people, until they ultimately prove to him that they have no capacity for good.  Sadly, as he follows the daily reports of violence and looting by Black Lives Matter, Antifa, and other Democratic Party “auxiliaries,” he is now forced to admit that he has “learned to hate.”

How many times will we have to hear of the untimely death of another black man at the hands of police officers because the victim chose not to comply with the lawful orders of the arresting officers?  How many young black men will continue to ignore their parents oft-repeated caution, “If you don’t want the police to shoot you, don’t resist arrest!?”  And will the racial hatred and violence resulting from the brutal murder of George Floyd provide us with a much needed turning point in race relations?    

In the 401 years since the arrival of the first slave ship at Jamestown on August 13, 1619, we have made significant progress in race relations.  But all of that progress was wiped away in just eight minutes and forty-seven seconds when George Floyd resisted arrest and Minneapolis police officer, Derek Chauvin, placed a knee across his throat, cutting off his air supply and killing him.     

As it did when Clayvon Martin lost his life while assaulting a neighborhood watch volunteer in Sanford, Florida, on February 26, 2012; when Eric Garner died while resisting arrest in an altercation with NYPD officers on August 9, 2014; when Michael Brown lost his life while attempting to kill a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri, on July 17, 2014; when Freddie Gray lost his life in police custody in Baltimore on April 12, 2015; and when Alton Sterling was shot to death while resisting arrest in Baton Rouge on July 5, 2016, these episodes created a call from all sides of the political spectrum for a “long conversation” about race and race relations.  But when do those conversations begin?  Have any of us, black or white, held such conversations with other members of our community, black or white?  Probably not.  If others are holding such conversations I haven ‘t been invited to participate.  

Since 1988, I have lived in the middle of the Cherokee reservation in eastern Oklahoma, the largest Indian reservation in the nation, comprising all or part of fourteen Oklahoma counties.  But the Cherokees don’t riot, and they don’t loot.  They are gentle, hard-working, peace-loving people.  And because of the extent to which whites have inter-married with native Americans, it is often impossible to tell which of my friends and neighbors carry Cherokee blood and which do not.  Because inter-marriage between whites and those with native American bloodlines has been commonplace for nearly two centuries, those with a substantial amount of native American blood speak of it with pride.  Unlike the white liberals who are offended by the names of sports teams such as the Redskins, the Indians, or the Braves, they carry their Indian blood with pride.

What Americans of European descent cannot fully appreciate is the ethnic epiphany that all black children experience.  Like white children, black children and native American children begin life convinced that once each year, in the early spring, a very large rabbit visits every house in their neighborhood, leaving behind quantities of colored eggs, chocolate rabbits, marshmallow peeps, and plastic eggs containing small amounts of cash.  It is a belief system that all children share and which they continue to hold until, at some point, someone blurts out the truth of the matter.  There’s no such thing as an Easter Bunny.

But the favorite of all children is a gnome known round the world as Santa Claus, or Saint Nick.  He is their favorite nocturnal visitor because he is the most generous.  He can be counted upon to unload a treasure trove of toys and gifts far beyond anything the Easter Bunny or the Tooth Fairy might deliver.  What most kids find so “cool” about Santa is that it’s possible to write to him at the North Pole, listing everything their heart desires, and then expect that most, if not all, of those wishes will show up under the family tree on Christmas Eve.

But learning the truth about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy is one thing.  It is a brief disappointment that soon passes.  But what about black children who can see at an early age that they, because of the color of their skin, are different from white children, and that, because of their skin color, they can expect to be treated differently in most professional and social settings.  That racial awakening comes at an early age and is constantly reinforced throughout their lifetimes. 

How can they not wonder, were the black children they saw romping playfully among the bloated corpses floating in bloody Rwandan river waters in 1994 their distant cousins?  And why are black people around the world still wearing loin cloths and living in mud huts, when those of European and Oriental descent enjoy all of the comforts provided by 21st century technology?  Surely, they must wonder by what cosmic miscalculation their skin color plays such a major role in where they live, how they earn a living, and what they might achieve in their lifetimes. 

But most of us have black friends and acquaintances who have not allowed their skin color to be an impediment to their success.  Some are physicians, business owners, and executives; some are college professors, and some are scientists and engineers.  These opportunities are available to everyone in America.  The difference between the successful and those who are less successful is that their parents understood the formula for success in the modern world and had the wisdom to see to it that their children’s skin color would not be a major factor in their success or failure.

Those parents understood that, in order to achieve social and economic success in 20th and 21st century society, there are certain requirements that must be met.  Children must be in school, on time, every day.  They must behave themselves, they must obey all the rules of classroom decorum, and while they’re in the classroom they must pay close attention to what the teachers are attempting to impart. 

Outside the classroom, they must be on their best behavior, they must stay out of trouble, and they must faithfully complete all of their homework assignments.  When they’ve completed their schooling and entered the work force, they must develop a work ethic that has them at their workplace every day, on time, appropriately dressed and groomed, and prepared to give their employer at least eight hours of their best effort in exchange for eight hours pay.

America is a land of unlimited opportunity.  All that is required to achieve great economic success is to follow the simple formula outlined above.  Failing to take advantage of educational opportunities and the failure to stay out of trouble are not part of a winning formula.  To acquire a lengthy police record by age twenty or twenty-one is not the way to “make it” in America.

So, who are those thugs, black and white, male and female, who fill the streets of Portland, Seattle, Chicago, and other major cities on a nightly basis?  They are the unfortunate children of parents who have failed us and who have failed their own children.  It is they who make it impossible for us to confront racial issues honestly and forthrightly. 

Men such as Barack Obama and Eric Holder have been especially insistent that we have a national conversation about race, but it is impossible to have an open and honest conversation with men of such questionable character. 

Since the day that Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation, Democrats have been interested in nothing more than black votes, no matter what price they had to pay to acquire them.  Until African Americans fully understand the sinister nature of their relationship with the Democrat Party, we can never have the kind of honest conversation that politicians of both political parties, black and white, insist that we have.  It is, and always has been, the responsibility of the Republican Party and Republican elected officials to see to it that all of our black citizens are fully aware of their post-Civil War political history.  Unfortunately, our Republican leaders have not been up to the task and the American people are now being forced to pay a huge price for their inadequacy.  

Paul R. Hollrah is a retired government relations executive and a two-time member of the U.S. Electoral College.  He currently lives and writes among the hills and lakes of northeast Oklahoma’s Green Country.

Posted in Today's Misinformation | Leave a comment

Vetting Kamala Harris

As a two-time member of the US Electoral College, I have researched the issue of presidential eligibility quite thoroughly and I believe I have developed an understanding of what the Founders intended that many in the political world still refuse to acknowledge.

Most significantly, the Founders rightly understood that the most influential factor in a child’s upbringing is the parenting he/she receives as a child, and that the cultural, philosophical, political, and religious influence of a child’s parents fundamentally establishes the direction of his/her future conduct and intellectual development.  Accordingly, what the Founders feared most, and what caused them to limit access to the presidency only to “natural born” citizens was the fear that a future president… during his formative years and during the years in which he was developing intellectually… would be exposed to an environment or an ideology which might cause him to reject the values and the principles embodied in the U.S. Constitution. 

That is why the Framers understood a “natural born” citizen to be a person who was born to parents, both of whom were US citizens at the time of his birth.  That requirement provided no absolute guarantee that we would not one day find a dedicated socialist in the White House, but it provided at least some insurance against such an occurrence.  To understand the Framers’ concerns, one need only examine the leftist political influences that caused Barack Obama to seek to “fundamentally change” the government and the culture of the greatest nation on Earth.  

Another example of what caused such concern among the Framers is Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), who, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Governor Bobby Jindal (R-LA), failed to meet the “natural born” standard required by Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution.  Born in Canada, Cruz’s father was a citizen of Cuba who, as a teenager, was a member of the Cuban resistance headed by Fidel Castro.  He made his way to the United States in 1957, enrolled at the University of Texas, and graduated in 1961with a degree in mathematics.  Later, after being transferred to Calgary, Alberta, by his employer and acquiring Canadian citizenship, he and his wife became parents of a son, Raphael Edward “Ted” Cruz, the current junior senator from the State of Texas and a leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. 

During that campaign, the American people were led to believe that the Cruzes, both father and son, were solidly anti-Communist.  But that’s only what we were told.  What if the opposite had been true?  What if the elder Cruz had been a dedicated Communist, a Fidelista in sheep’s clothing?  And what if he’d spent decades indoctrinating his son behind closed doors in all the benefits of life in a socialist Utopia?  His son, a conservative firebrand in the U.S. Senate, would have become the prototypical “Manchurian Candidate.”  It is precisely that sort of familial background that caused the Framers to limit access to the presidency only to the “natural born.”

But now, just three months prior to the 2020 presidential election, we find that the tendency of Democrats to embrace style over substance rearing its ugly head once again.  As they did with Barack Obama in 2008, they are offering for our consideration a candidate who is not eligible to serve as president or vice president.  I refer, of course, to the junior senator from California, Kamala Harris, who is touted by leading Democrats and mainstream media sycophants as the leading contender to be the Democratic Party’s candidate for vice president in November.

Harris’s mother, Shyamala Gopalan, emigrated to the US from India in 1960 and her father, Donald Harris, emigrated to the US from Jamaica in 1961.  Under U.S. law, an individual cannot apply for citizenship until they’ve held a “green card” for a minimum of five years.  Kamala Harris was born on October 20, 1964.  At best, her mother was a legal non-citizen resident of the US for just 4 years, 9 months, and 20 days when Sen. Harris was born.  Her father was, at best, a legal non-citizen resident for just 3 years, 9 months, and 20 days when she was born.  Neither of Senator Harris’s parents could possibly have been a U.S. citizen when she was born.  Therefore, she cannot claim status as a “natural born” citizen, as required by the U.S. Constitution.

What few Americans recognize is that there are only two (2) jobs in the entire United States… public sector and private sector combined… that require the incumbents to be “natural born” citizens.  Those two jobs are President and Vice President of the United States.   The term “natural born,” by its very nature, implies that the “quality” of an individual’s citizenship must be absolute… totally unencumbered by any modifying terms such as “dual,” “naturalized,” or “birthright.”  Ms. Harris can be Mayor of San Francisco, she can be Governor of California, she can be a Federal Judge, she can even be Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court.  None of those jobs require “natural born” status.  But unless her parents were both US citizens when she was born, she cannot hold either the presidency or the vice presidency.  If she was born on American soil, to legal resident aliens, she is considered to be a US citizen, but just being born on US soil does not make one a “natural born” citizen.  One must be born of two US citizen parents in order to qualify as “natural born.” 

When the Framers met in Philadelphia in September 1787 to approve the final draft of the U.S. Constitution, the physical scars of the War of Independence were still visible all around them and a deep-seated animosity toward all things British colored every aspect of their daily lives.  So, is it even remotely conceivable that, just five years and eleven months after the British surrendered at Yorktown, the Founders would have presented to the states for ratification a Constitution that would have allowed an individual with dual/divided loyalties – e.g. an individual with dual US-British citizenship – to serve as president of the United States and commander-in-chief of the Army and the Navy?  Not likely.  It is a preposterous notion on its face.  To believe that they would have done so requires a willing suspension of reason. 

Nevertheless, the consensus among many in the political/legal world today is that the terms “Citizen” and “natural born Citizen” are synonymous.  They are not!!  So, the question arises, is there proof of the contention that the Framers intended the terms “Citizen” and “natural born Citizen” to be mutually exclusive?  The answer is yes.  It all revolves around the purpose and the meaning of the word “or,” preceding a “grandfather clause” in Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution.

The Constitution requires that, in addition to being a “natural born” citizen and a resident of the United States for at least fourteen years, those who would seek the presidency must be at least thirty-five years of age.  However, the only “natural born” citizens available on June 21, 1788, the day the Constitution was ratified, were children under twelve years of age.  To solve that problem, the Framers added a “grandfather clause,” making it possible for newly-minted US citizens… all residents of the United States for at least fourteen years and all at least thirty-five years of age, but none of them “natural born” because they were born to parents who were not US citizens prior to the Declaration of Independence… to serve as president.  This was necessary until such time as a body of individuals, born to U.S. citizen parents subsequent to July 4, 1776, reached age thirty-five.

Because they were born to non-US citizens prior to the signing of the Declaration of Independence, the first seven presidents of the United States – Washington, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, J.Q. Adams, and Jackson – were all “citizens” of the United States, but none were “natural born” citizens because their parents were not US citizens at the time of their birth.  

However, Martin Van Buren, our eighth president, was born at Kinderhook, New York on December 5, 1782, six years and five months after the Declaration of Independence.  Unlike his seven predecessors, he was not just a “citizen,” he was a “natural born” citizen… the first president, at least thirty-five years of age, who was born to US citizen parents after the signing of the Declaration of Independence. 

A great many patriotic, but ill-informed, Americans refuse to accept the fact that, while the Founders intended that only “natural born” citizens should ever serve as president, there were no 35-year-old “natural born” citizens available during the first 35 years of our nation’s history. Accordingly, it became necessary to provide an exemption of limited duration covering those citizens born prior to July 4, 1776.  All were “grandfathered” and made eligible under the phrase, “or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution…”

Every U.S. president since Van Buren… with the exception of Republican Chester A. Arthur, whose Irish father was reportedly a British subject at the time of his birth, and Democrat Barack Obama, whose Kenyan father was also a British subject at the time of his birth… has been a “natural born” U.S. citizen, as required by Article II, Section 1 of the Constitution. 

The Framers found it inconceivable that a president of the United States, commander in chief of the Army and the Navy, should ever hold even partial allegiance to a foreign nation or be required to obey the laws of a foreign nation, as is the case with all dual citizens.  It is for this reason that the Constitution limits candidates for president and vice president to those who are “natural born” citizens,and to those who were citizens of the United States at the time the Constitution was adopted.  Were that not the case, and had the Framers considered the terms “citizen” and “natural born Citizen” to be synonymous, Article II, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution would now read, simply, “No Person except a Citizen of the United States shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any Person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty-five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States.” In 2008, Democrats were able to craftily define the issue as one relating to Barack Obama’s place of birth, and to label those who insisted he lacked eligibility by reason of not being born on American soil as “birthers.”  It became the deadly “third rail” of the 2008 campaign, effectively preventing any honest debate of the issue.  Thus, on two occasions in our political history we have allowed the presidential eligibility requirements of Article II, Section 1 to be twisted and contorted to fit the political mood of the day.  We cannot allow that to happen again.  We cannot allow our Constitution to be amended by popular fiat.  If Kamala Harris were to be properly vetted, she would be found to lack the qualifications necessary to the office of Vice President.

Posted in Paul's Prescience | Leave a comment

Time to Act ..

The Tenth Amendment Center, which I follow closely, has most of the answers to the tyrannical challenges to our Republic … it is the Federalist amendment to the Constitution, the tenth article, and probably the most mis-understood and most crucial Bill affecting our Republic in the “Bill of Rights”… “The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.” This most recent article by the Center is just too timely not to share with those of you who are not aware of it … so here it is …

For years, the Tenth Amendment Center has drawn the ire of both the American right and left, but generally for different reasons. To the left, we were neo-Confederates trying to mask our desire to somehow reintroduce slavery and Jim Crow segregation by promoting nullification and state’s rights. We draw the ire of the right for challenging unconstitutional wars and the federal War on drugs.

While we have detractors from both sides of the political divide, the most vocal opposition almost always originates from whichever side hold federal power at the moment.

During the Bush years, we frustrated the right because we stood against unilateral executive war powers, the REAL ID Act, the so-called Patriot Act and more. During the Obama years, the left railed against us because we opposed Obamacare, Common Core, the IRS, the War on Drugs, police militarization, gun control, even the Supreme Court imposing its own definition of marriage on the states.

Now we’ve gone full circle.

Although presidents have changed, our position remains the same: “The Constitution. Every issue, every time. No exceptions, no excuses.”

Meanwhile, the tunes sung by both political movements in the country have switched entirely. The right, once the advocate of decentralization, is now pushing for greater executive power. Meanwhile, the left has suddenly come to appreciate, perhaps begrudgingly, the role of nullification as the “rightful remedy” that people like Thomas Jefferson and James Madison offered to combat federal tyranny.

How ironic that people who for years seethed with contempt for the founding fathers and everything they stood for have suddenly developed an appreciation for the philosophy they fought, suffered, and even died to preserve!

Some have found this flip-flopping amusing, perhaps ironic. To them, it’s a game played between both sides. When one wins, they switch talking points and strategies. In years past, that might have been humorous. But I find no levity in the situation, or the prolonged, rampant hypocrisy.

It’s a game this country can no longer afford to play.

It has done indescribable damage to our political system, our government, and the Constitution. What’s more, it is not sustainable. Calls for defending the Constitution and limited government now fall on deaf ears because Americans who hear it and might have otherwise listened know that those who proclaim it are disingenuous and opportunistic. Adhering to the rule of law is now the trite punchline of an old joke.

The Constitution is not a political buffet. We don’t get to pick and choose which parts of it we will follow and what parts we will ignore because we don’t like them.

For it to have any real meaning or force, the whole document must be followed and its constraints acknowledged. To do otherwise is to make a mockery of the very concept of a written constitution. In doing so we regress to the days of the British Crown that only afforded a “living, breathing” constitution that had no definite meaning beyond the temporary moment

The time will soon be upon us when Americans of all political stripes must decide whether we are going to accept the Constitution as it is written or reject it entirely, because the pretense of federalism has at last come to an end.

If Americans refuse to do this; if they insist on violating it to impose their will on their fellow countrymen, then they invite the very question of why they live under the same government in the first place. We can no longer waver between freedom and tyranny. If we wish to be free, then fight for the freedom of all. If not, then do not be surprised when your opponents use the very same tyranny you would wield against them to subjugate you.

–TJ Martinell, TAC

Posted in Lee's Musings, Pot Pourri | Leave a comment