It seems that every week we can expect news of an event worse than in the week before, and this has been going on for months. Just starting a list with the invasion of Ukraine and the revelations of Russian atrocities, we have been subjected to a cascade of bad policy decisions, undermining of essential institutions, lies upon lies from politicians, and more atrocities. Every time I have started on an article an other disaster has displaced the topic from my mind, so to get going again I simply record my thoughts about all of them.
The War in Ukraine: None of us at the Chesapeake Observer has felt ready to write more about the war in Ukraine. We have expressed ourselves on Biden’s failure of deterrence that let Russia think it could get away with the invasion, and the U.S. continuing failure to provide sufficient military support to defeat Russia without fighting to the last Ukrainian. Since so much has been written by others we have little to add — though we do recommend some articles appearing in places that others might not follow as we do.
The Roe v. Wade Draft Decision Leak: Much the same could be said about the leak of a draft decision of the Supreme Court. It is a rape of the institutions of government, and I cannot understand why outrage at this infamous act has been so small. I have yet to read a condemnation of the leak by a Democrat, all of whom seem to welcome it as an advance opportunity to intimidate the apparent majority. Justices of the Supreme Court are left to their own devices to contend with maddened crowds surrounding their homes while the press connives with extremists in the House of Representatives to threaten the most senior Justice, who is also the only African-American on the bench.
Pelosi Denied Communion: Then we have the spectacle and scandal of Nancy Pelosi on Morning Joe, lecturing her own archbishop about the Catholic Church’s moral teaching. Her teachers in Catholic schools should be ashamed not only of how badly they instructed in Catholic doctrine, but even more for allowing someone so incapable of giving a rational explanation of her position to graduate.
Pelosi excused her support of abortion by claiming that other Catholics are insufficiently committed to ending the death penalty, which she noted “is also condemned in the Catechism.” As to doctrine, she failed to understand the difference between an action declared on the highest authority of the Church to be “always and everywhere a grave sin” — abortion — and an action that the Church held to be needed only in exceptional circumstances — the death penalty. As to logic, she committed the tu quoque fallacy — you did something bad, too. For a more thorough discussion of Pelosi’s errors, I strongly recommend an article in Crisis Magazine that dissects her interview point by point.
Even worse than Pelosi’s response, in terms of undermining the Catholic Church, is the inaction of far-left Archbishop Cardinal Gregory of Washington DC and my own Bishop of Wilmington, who are allowing Biden and Pelosi both to continue to receive communion in their dioceses. This is an open declaration of war with the Archbishop of San Francisco who has jurisdiction over the sinner and her offense. Nor have ever I heard my own pastor condemn elected officials who promote abortion, even though it has become the elephant in the room for all Catholics.
Arrest of Hong Kong Cardinal: The silence of the Vatican when the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) arrested Cardinal Zen might top all of this as shameful. Several years ago the Vatican signed an agreement giving the CCP control over the official Catholic Church in China, with the result that minors are excluded from church services, sermons and readings must be approved by the Party, and all members are put under surveillance. The Vatican accepted this rewriting of the dogmas of the Church, despite the protests of the former Archbishop of Hong Kong Cardinal Zen. On May 11 Cardinal Zen was arrested along with businessman and dissident Jimmy Lai for their efforts to aid those who had protested the CCP’s tightening grasp on Hong Kong. Still silence.
School shootings and related matters. As many commented about the retired police officer who fought back in Buffalo, “it takes a good man with a gun to stop a bad man with a gun.” The left’s response to the Buffalo shootings and the deaths of 21 in the Uvalde has been, as usual, to use the event to promote its political agenda. If we were as willing devote resources to protection ahead of a threat as we are to lament murders of children after the fact, mass shootings in schools could be made even more rare. Our sheriff in Talbot County, MD has armed deputies at every school, and has promised to keep them there no matter what laws woke legislators pass to prevent someone from being traumatized by the sight of an officer in uniform patrolling the corridors. So one place to lay blame appropriately is with those who have prevented armed police from being stationed in the schools — and with police officials who hold their officers back rather than attacking and eliminating the shooter.
In a wide-ranging interview in National Review, a former Texas SWAT officer criticized police for taking so long to move into the school in Uvalde. Despite the almost universal protocol demanding immediate action to neutralize an active shooter, local police took up to 45 minutes to assemble, plans and finally intervene. The SWAT officer stated in a situation like that in Uvalde “… the only priority in my life is stopping the shooter. The second priority of my life is staying alive long enough to stop the shooter.”
Even with proactive policing where I live, our police departments are constrained by funding, and in other jurisdictions with many more and larger schools the funding required to maintain a large enough police presence in every school might be impossible to obtain. Therefore, I have another suggestion — those who care about protecting the children should volunteer to take up arms in their defense. To be effective, these volunteers would require training in firearms, law and threat assessment similar to that police receive, though the training could concentrate on tactics for immediately engaging and eliminating the threat of an active shooter. These volunteers, possibly not even uniformed, would be present solely to respond to shootings, not to enforce other laws. A collateral benefit of having a larger cadre of citizens with such training would be greater protection against riots and shooting throughout society.
Establishment of these “School Guardians,” to borrow a name from the Space Force, should be undertaken by civil society and should be governed by the principle of subsidiarity. In other words, the responsibility for protecting children is properly borne and carried out by the community in which they are growing up. One alternative, community by community, is to hire enough police officers to protect schools continuously. Failing this, it remains for volunteers from the community to receive appropriate training and take on the duty. Community charitable organizations, like our MidShore Foundation, could well provide the funding for training, and even offer grants to working mothers and fathers to replace income lost by taking up “Guardianship” rather than paid employment. Others might volunteer for the common good of their community, and in Talbot County we have countless such hours volunteered already in a wide range of social service activities.
These guardians would require careful screening as well as training, to ensure their fitness and willingness to use deadly force if necessary. Under state law in Maryland, only active police officers (and retired who requalify annually) or security employed by the school district are allowed to bear arms in schools. The employment qualification could likely be met with an appointment and nominal pay, or state law could be changed (less likely in let-em-loose-from-jail Maryland). Parents dedicating themselves to protecting their children might also be more motivated to attack the gunman immediately than police have been. That appeared to be the case in Uvalde, as parents pleaded for police to intervene.
Of course, establishing such effective protection in schools is more expensive than expressing horror at the deaths of children and sympathy for loved ones. It requires doing more than making it harder for “other people” to obtain firearms for lawful purposes, and it certainly runs against pious beliefs that all psychopaths can be identified with Red Flag laws, more mental health programs, and background checks. I suspect that few of those who are so willing to impose tighter background checks or ban “that kind of weapon” would support community grants to pay for teams of “Guardians,” or even entertain the realistic thought that to deter violence requires clear preparation to use it. Children in communities that withhold protection would be at correspondingly greater risk than those in communities that are prepared to protect them.
It needs to be kept in mind, however, that children are far safer in school than they are in the streets of Democrat-controlled cities. According to recent CDC data, 394 children were murdered by firearms in 2020 (this does not include accidents or suicide), and 230 of them were black children. The number can only have grown since then. The Associated Press counts 169 deaths in 23 years attributable to school shootings, which is an average of 7 per year. 387 more children were murdered by firearms in 2020 than this average, most in gang-related killings in their own, poor neighborhoods. It is proper to feel empathy and sorrow when some school children with publicized names and faces are murdered by a psychopath. It would be even more virtuous to have the same reaction to the needless killings that have grown since the actions of irresponsible demagogues have caused shootings and homicide rates to spike in big cities. The right response to this is to vote out the State’s Attorneys, Mayors and other officials who have defunded police and put criminals back on the streets.
A former member of the FBI Hostage Rescue Team also analyzed the delays in police response typical from Columbine to Uvalde. He made the following recommendations, which could reduce innocent deaths in all active shooter situations:
“Adhere to the lessons that have already been learned.” Responders must advance to “sound of the guns.”
“Resist the current “noise” about stripping police of funding, equipment, and proactivity.” Effective response is enhanced by getting surplus military equipment, including armored vehicles, semiautomatic weaponry, and ballistic clothing/equipment.
“Local law enforcement must gather and retain institutional knowledge of likely targets.” He required SWAT teams to conduct on-site surveys, because “homefield advantage may serve as a margin of victory.”
Bad News on the Economy: It is hard for me to call the 20% decline in the stock market, inflation over 8% and slowing of growth bad “news,” since I predicted all that over a year ago. As I wrote then and other economists now agree, the $1.9 trillion handout that was enacted shortly after the election created an impossible backlog of purchasing power. The handouts of cash were largely saved at the time, possibly due to Covid, and when they came back a manufacturing sector newly burdened by Democratic regulation and still hamstrung by supply chain problems could not keep up. The Fed cut down its purchases of debt far too late and never sent clear signals about its intention to raise rates. coming to its senses far too late, the Fed is effectuating interest rate increases that put a severe damper on investment, including investment in owner-occupied housing. It is not news, but it is nonetheless a disaster that will continue getting worse. And the blame-shifting is insulting to the voter’s intelligence — “Putin-caused gas prices indeed!”
Biden’s Energy Policy: Which gets us to the lying and stupidity of energy policy under a Democrat administration. The most recent cancellation of leases for a large amount of Alaskan oil resources is a good place to start. The explanation given was that the lease would have been bad for the global climate and that anyway, there was little interest in the leases from the oil industry. The first part of that explanation strikes me as true — I am convinced that this Administration puts its fantasies of slowing climate change far ahead of its concerns for the American consumer and national security — both of which are taking a beating as Biden’s minions stop us from producing oil and gas in North America and hand Putin premium prices for the oil he is still exporting to India and other collaborators.
What is not true is that holding back US oil production makes any sense as climate policy. I spent 30 years analyzing and forecasting the effects of a pretty bad series of ideas about how to slow climate change, but no one dared propose a policy like this one. We suffer all the pain of an immense increase in taxes on gasoline, heating oil and fuel for industry, but instead of collecting the revenue and reducing the deficit, we hand it all over to Russia and other countries that want to destroy us. Brilliant!
As to lack of interest in leases, Larry Kudlow and Charles Cooke keep beating me to the punch on this. The real deception perpetrated by the Biden Administration is its coverup of the stealth regulations that are making it impossible for oil companies even to produce at maximum rates on the land they already hold, private as well as public. These stealth regulations do not come up for public policy debate, they are simply issued by regulators at various levels of the swamp and are apparent only to those industry watchers affected by them.
Biden’s defenders have found another way to shift blame, with the term “greedflation.” The old idea of a wage-price spiral has been replaced in the woke generation with the belief that if only companies would not insist on earning profits, all these price increases would go away. Pelosi, of sainted memory, is even talking about price-gouging regulations. Thjs is a favorite topic of mine, which I started observing and writing about during the wage-price controls of the Nixon and Ford Administrations and continued right through its last manifestation. Poor Jimmy Carter gets the blame for almost everything about the 1970s, for the most part deservedly, but the energy shortages and gasoline lines we faced during his presidency were caused by the price control policies of his Republican predecessors. And price controls now would have the same effect. Just think about what will happen to the homicide rate in Washington, DC, New York, Chicago and Baltimore if people are sitting for hours in gasoline lines in the hot summer of 2022. And that is just what they will be doing if Pelosi has her way.
The Memorial Day Concert: We watched the National Memorial Day Concert last night on television, but our reactions were more conflicted than in the past. Although fears of Covid have receded sufficiently that it was live for the first time in two years, the general public still was not allowed on the Capitol grounds to watch. The official line was about “phased reopening from Covid.” To us it was just another example of how the current Congressional leadership is so far removed from the people that it does not trust us on the grounds that we own and the heroes honored in the concert bought for us. To them, Russia and Iraq pale as threats in comparison to those of us who detest the actions of the current administration.
The concert itself was as sincere and patriotic as ever. We were touched and uplifted by the stories and performances, right up to the end when the despicable Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Milley, took the podium to lecture the audience on the points of honor on which he has failed. It is impossible to watch the general who betrayed his own troops and the Afghans who served with them without loathing.
So brace yourselves. The only easy day was yesterday. Tomorrow will be worse, at least until a new Congress convenes on January 3, 2023. If we survive that long as a nation. God bless America.