The Attack on Democracy – Protests vs Riots
While clashes between police and the public continued well past the curfews in cities nationwide, tensions subsided in some places as a second week of protests over George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody got underway.
Some cities, however, experienced another night of chaos. In New York, hundreds of protesters walking over the Manhattan Bridge were met by a blockade of police officers who had refused to let the group exit the bridge. At Lafayette Square in the District, protesters who threw water bottles and shook the fence separating them from a line of law enforcement officers near the White House were met with pepper bullets and pepper spray. And what was an hours-long peaceful protest in Portland, Ore., turned ugly after police shot off tear gas and flash bangs.
Here are some significant developments: *President Trump accused the protesters forcibly removed by federal law enforcement near the White House of setting the fire that damaged the basement at St. John’s Episcopal Church as part of the week-long unrest. Trump again used the word “thugs” to describe Black Lives Matter protesters and people who have damaged property and looted stores.
*In his first public remarks on the US protests, Pope Francis urged people not to “tolerate or turn a blind eye to racism and exclusion in any form,” and called for “national reconciliation and peace.”
*Defense Secretary Mark Esper urged military personnel to “stay apolitical” as troops are increasingly called in to assist local police responding to protests, looting and riots in cities across the US.
*Hundreds of protesters massed outside Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti’s official residence, demanding that the Democratic leader defund the police and fire the city’s police chief, Michel Moore.
*Current and former US intelligence officials have expressed dismay at the similarity between events at home and the signs of decline or democratic regression they were trained to detect in other nations. “This is what happens in countries before a collapse. It really does unnerve me,” said Gail Helt, a former CIA analyst.
The Crisis Crisis
The Politics of Fear: Where the latest emergency justifying expanded government power will lead — based on previous instances
In the political response to the Covid-19 pandemic, everything is proceeding just as economist Robert Higgs has foreseen. But that doesn’t make it any easier for him to watch it.
“I have an overwhelming feeling that I am reliving a bad experience I’ve lived through several times before, only this time it’s worse,” Higgs says. “I have no doubt that even if the current situation plays out in the best imaginable way, it will leave an abundance of legacies for the worse so far as people’s freedom is concerned.”
Higgs sees government, as usual, vastly expanding during the crisis, and he’s sure that it will not shrink back to its former scale once the crisis is over. It never does, as he famously documented in his 1987 book, “Crisis and Leviathan: Critical Episodes in the Growth of American Government, and in later works exploring this “ratchet effect.”
By surveying the effect of wars, financial panics, and other crises over the course of a century, Higgs showed that most government growth occurs in sporadic bursts during emergencies, when politicians enact “temporary” programs and regulations that never get fully abolished. New Deal bureaucracies and subsidies persisted long after the Great Depression, for example, and the U.S. military didn’t revert to its prewar size after either of the world wars.
Besides charting the growth of government, Higgs identified the fundamental psychological cause. He recognized the political significance of the negativity effect, also called the negativity bias — the universal tendency of negative events and emotions to affect us more strongly than positive ones.
The Undiscussed Crisis
The current US budget deficit could soon exceed a record $4 trillion. The massive borrowing is being driven both by prior budget profligacy and a hurried effort by the Trump administration to pump liquidity into a quarantined America.
The shutdown has left the country on the cusp of a self-inflicted economic collapse not seen since the Great Depression.
Americans may soon have to service a staggering national debt of about $30 trillion — nearly $100,000 of debt for every American.
Democrats and Republicans can blame each other, either for spending too much or for too little taxation, or both. But both sides will agree that managing such an astronomical debt requires several frightening choices.
One, Americans would be forced to live with permanent near-zero interest rates, or perhaps even negative interest rates.
We are already seeing how the current low interest rates punish those who were thrifty and put away money in savings accounts. Negligible interest rewards those who borrow but forces savers to look for returns in volatile real estate or the risky stock market.
In other words, there would be little interest paid out on the federal debt. The selling point for investors would be that the US at least honors it bonds and debts and is safer than alternative global investments.
America would become a permanent debtor that avoids paying much interest to anyone who lends it ever more money — on the cynical rationale that investors have no other safe place to put their money.
Two, Americans, who are already taxed heavily at the local, state and federal levels, would simply have to pay even more. Top earners might pay a real tax rate of 60% to 70% of their incomes to government, with deleterious effects on incentives to create or earn further wealth.
Gasoline prices are at astonishing lows, so some have advocated yet another federal fuel tax increase, a national sales tax or a wealth tax on the rich. The problem with constant increases in taxation is the ensuing culture of even greater spending that inevitably follows and the destruction of individual incentive.
Three, the government could make draconian cuts in spending, focusing mostly on entitlements such as Social Security and Medicare, along with defense, where the bulk of federal expenditures are found.
Remember, this month’s film review; I assign a film to watch each month—and give you a link to it; you’re invited to email in your comments—and we’ll review it on the last show of the month. Share the link with your friends or tell them that they can find the link on the Blog section of FrontlinesOfFreedom.com.
The movie for this month is: Fort Monmouth
Please send me your thoughts about the movie: Denny@FrontlinesofFreedom.com
“If successful people have one common trait, it’s an utter lack of cynicism. The world owes them nothing. They go out and find what they need without asking for permission; they’re driven, talented, and work through negatives by focusing on the positives.”
The West Point Graduation is Tomorrow
The US Military Academy’s response to COVID-19 has dramatically impacted the graduation ceremony for the Class of 2020. The Academy plans a special celebration to be broadcast via livestream to provide a wider opportunity for graduates and all Americans to be a part of this unique and historic celebration. The broadcast will celebrate the Class of 2020, highlight West Point, and will have special messages from the USMA leader team, 50-year affiliate class members, and notable graduates. The ceremony will take place on the Plain and President Donald Trump will deliver the commencement speech as originally planned prior to the pandemic. Please save the date of June 13 from 9:30 am to 1:00 pm.
The US Space Force now has an official flag.
It was presented during a closed-door ceremony in front of President Trump, becoming the first new service flag in more than 72 years, the White House said.
“Space is going to be the future,” Trump said during the event, according to pool reports.
“We’re now the leader in space.”
Officials in attendance included Gen. John “Jay” Raymond, the new branch’s chief of space operations and head of US Space Command, and Chief Master Sgt. Roger Towberman, senior enlisted adviser to the Space Force. Other attendees included Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Air Force Secretary Barbara Barrett, and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Gen. Mark Milley.
“It’s a very historic moment,” Esper said.
“The United States has been a spacefaring nation for decades, but we know there are adversaries in the last several years that have weaponized space,” he said. “They’ve made it a warfighting domain. And so with the establishment of Space Force and establishment of Space Command, the United States is now doing what it needs to do to protect our assets in space and ensure that space remains the heavens by which we not only protect America, but we sustain our economy, we sustain our commercial capabilities, we sustain Americans’ way of life.”
The flag bears the image of the Space Force seal. Raymond noted that the North star is uppermost on the design, signifying “our core value, our guiding light.” The seal was unveiled by Trump in a tweet in January. While the central delta symbol reminds many of the “Star Trek” Starfleet Command logo, it has a military history.
Jari Villanueva is a retired bugler from the US Air Force and retired Director of the MD National Guard Honor Guard. He continues to serve veterans by helping provide information about Taps and buglers through his website: https://www.tapsbugler.com
Here is a video of Jari sounding Taps on Little Round Top at Gettysburg.
Bad News for Hong Kong
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that Hong Kong does not warrant more favorable treatment than mainland China, setting up potential US actions that could damage the city’s status as a
global financial center and trigger a further deterioration in relations between Washington and Beijing.
Pompeo’s declaration could pave the way for President Trump to impose on Hong Kong some of the same economic penalties that he wielded against China over the past two years.
In a State Department release, Pompeo said he had notified Congress that Hong Kong no longer enjoyed the full range of political freedoms that China had promised residents when it regained control of the trading center from Great Britain in 1997.
North Korea is Not Playing by the Rules
Our government has charged 28 North Korean and five Chinese individuals with facilitating over $2.5 billion in illegal payments for Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons & missile program as part of a clandestine global network operating from countries including China, Russia, Libya & Thailand.
In a 50-page federal indictment unsealed in Washington, DC, the Justice Department accused the individuals of acting as agents of North Korea’s Foreign Trade Bank, in what officials say is the largest North Korean sanctions violations case charged by the US.
Working for the FTB – which is North Korea’s primary foreign currency bank and under sanctions for facilitating nuclear proliferation – the agents allegedly set up more than 250 front companies and covert bank branches around the world to mask payments transiting the U.S. financial system, including through several Chinese banks and for equipment from Chinese telecommunications giants Huawei Technologies Co. and ZTE Corp., according to charging documents.
Those charged include two former FTB presidents, Ko Chol Man and Kim Song Ui; two former co-vice presidents, Han Ung and Ri Jong Nam; and Han Ki Song, who allegedly who operated FTB’s covert branch in Thailand and served as a member of North Korea’s primary intelligence agency.
Looking back at the Vietnam War
The Iran Deal Waivers
The Trump administration is ending sanctions waivers that allow Russian, Chinese and European companies to work on sensitive Iranian nuclear sites, dealing another major blow to the Iran nuclear deal and raising the prospect of covert advances in Tehran’s nuclear program, according to US officials and documents obtained by The Washington Post.
Nonproliferation experts say the waivers, which are supported by US allies in Europe, reduce Iran’s incentive to enrich uranium at higher levels and provide a window into the country’s atomic program. But Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and a group of lawmakers led by Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., pushed to exert more pressure on Tehran and eliminate the vestiges of the Obama administration’s signature foreign policy objective.
Pompeo will “end the sanctions waiver covering JCPOA-related nuclear projects in Iran,” said an internal State Department memo, using an acronym for the Iran deal.
Under the 2015 agreement, Iran agreed to limit its nuclear program in return for the lifting of economic sanctions that had ravaged its economy. Though Iran had complied with the deal, the Trump administration walked away from it in 2018 and reimposed US sanctions as part of a “maximum pressure” campaign on the country.
Despite leaving the deal, the Trump administration has acknowledged that some parts of it are useful, such as an agreement to modify Iran’s Arak heavy-water research reactor to block its pathway to the development of nuclear weapons using plutonium. The waivers the Trump administration decided to end had allowed outside companies to continue those modifications without facing sanctions.
God Loves Us
Scott McChrystal is a retired Army Colonel, Chaplain. Here are some of his insights that I think you’ll find appropriate.
Does Your Character Reflect God’s Love?
Love is patient and kind; love does not
envy or boast; it is not arrogant
I can’t recall a period in my lifetime that reflects the disunity we’re presently experiencing in America. The lack of civility and the hateful words and tones that permeate the airways is heart-breaking. The loss of life and the destruction of property seems so counter to the America I know.
Where do we turn? Like you, I have my opinions—some very strong ones in fact. And I will express them hopefully at the right time in the right way and with the right heart.
First, however, the Lord has put a check on my spirit and has led me to reflect on the condition of my own heart. Jesus sums up the Christian faith, Old Testament and New Testament, by two simple commandments—love God and love people (Matthew 22:37-39).
That’s what I’m trying to do—to reflect on the condition of my own heart regarding obedience to these commandments, particularly regarding the way I treat others.
Love for others: The first few verses of 1 Corinthians 13 describe what genuine love looks like. I’ve been focusing on verse four shown above and asking myself these questions as they relate to my thoughts, words, and actions during these turbulent times:
Don’t get me wrong. In no way am I saying to cave in or become a doormat for someone to walk over. I’m simply asking myself “Scott, how are you doing with God’s command to love others?”
How about you?
Some Words of Wisdom by Ret navy Capt Joe John:
Have Americans and US Businesses Been Oppressively Restricted To Oppose COVID-19?
I Talked To A Man Today . . .
I talked with a man today, an 80+ year old man. I asked him if there was anything I can get him while this Corona virus scare was gripping America.
He simply smiled, looked away and said:
“Let me tell you what I need! [pause]…
I need to believe, at some point, this country my generation fought for [pause]…
I need to believe this nation we handed safely to our children and their children [pause] . . .
I need to know this generation will quit being a bunch of sissies . . .
that they respect what they’ve been given . . .that they’ve earned what others sacrificed for.”
I wasn’t sure where the conversation was going or if it was going anywhere at all. So, I sat there, quietly observing.
“You know, I was a little boy during WWII. Those were scary days. We didn’t know if we were going to be speaking English, German or Japanese at the end of the war. There was no certainty, no guarantees like Americans enjoy today. And no home went without sacrifice or loss. Every house, up and down every street, had someone in harm’s way. Maybe their Daddy was a soldier, maybe their son was a sailor, maybe it was an uncle. Sometimes it was the whole damn family…. fathers, sons, uncles . . .
Having someone, you love, sent off to war . . . it wasn’t less frightening than it is today. It was scary as Hell. If anything, it was more frightening. We didn’t have battlefront news. We didn’t have email or cell phones. You sent them away and you hoped…you prayed. You may not hear from them for months, if ever. Sometimes a mother was getting her son’s letters the same day Dad was comforting her over their child’s death.
And we sacrificed. You couldn’t buy things. Everything was rationed. You were only allowed so much milk per month, only so much bread, toilet paper. EVERYTHING was restricted for the war effort. And what you weren’t using, what you didn’t need, things you threw away, they were saved and sorted for the war effort. My generation was the original recycling movement in America.
And we had viruses back then…serious viruses. Things like polio, measles, and such. It was nothing to walk to school and pass a house or two that was quarantined. We didn’t shut down our schools. We didn’t shut down our cities. We carried on, without masks, without hand sanitizer. And do you know what? We persevered. We overcame. We didn’t attack our President, we came together. We rallied around the flag for the war. Thick or thin, we were in it to win. And we would lose more boys in an hour of combat than we lose in entire wars today.”
He slowly looked away again. Maybe I saw a small tear in the corner of his eye. Then he continued: “Today’s kids don’t know sacrifice. They think sacrifice is not having coverage on their phone while they freely drive across the country. Today’s kids are selfish and spoiled. In my generation, we looked out for our elders. We helped out with single moms whose husbands were either at war or dead from war. Today’s kids rush [to] the store, buying everything they can . . . no concern for anyone but themselves. It’s shameful the way Americans behave these days. None of them deserve the sacrifices their granddads made.
So, no I don’t need anything. I appreciate your offer but, I know I’ve been through worse things than this virus. But maybe I should be asking you, what can I do to help you? Do you have enough pop to get through this, enough steak? Will you be able to survive with 113 channels on your TV?”
I smiled, fighting back a tear of my own . . . now humbled by a man in his 80’s.
All I could do was thank him for the history lesson, leave my number for emergency and leave with my ego firmly tucked in my rear.
I talked to a man today. A real man. An American man from an era long gone and forgotten.
My West Point 50th Reunion
It would be 56 years ago this month that my class graduated from West Point. For our 50th reunion one of our classmates wrote and sang this song.
God Bless The Soldiers
God bless the Soldiers dying young.
In an unfamiliar land,
Slain by war’s impartial hand,
Swept aside by fate before their song is sung.
God bless the Soldiers dying young.
God bless the Soldiers dying old.
In a room above a stair
Fellow soldiers gathered there,
Reminiscing of the times when they were bold.
God bless the Soldiers dying old.
We bring them home, and find a place
For a final note of grace.
From the land they fought to save
Offer them a fresh cut grave
A community embrace.
Then post these soldiers gently to the sod,
Envelop them, and hand them off to God.
God bless the soldiers serving on.
In a tank, or in a chair,
Down a hole, or in the air,
Never knowing if they’ll see a peaceful dawn.
God bless the soldiers serving on.
We gather here, that we may sense
That community, immense,
Calling for us to respond
To that vast eternal bond
Reaching out from the beyond.
The clarion that cannot be ignored
To join them in the Army of The Lord.
Fred Gray ’64
Civil War History
Here are some questions on the Civil War; we’ll post the answers in the next newsletter.
Last issue’s questions:
1. Approximately 20 – 25% of Union soldiers were foreign born, mostly Germany and Ireland. The Confederacy attempted to obtain Papal (Pope Pius IX) aid to limit immigration into the US from which country? Ans. Ireland
2. Can you name more than three nicknames for Confederate LTG T. J. Jackson?
Ans: Old Jack (at West Point), Tom Fool, Old Jack, Old blue Light (at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI)), Stonewall (at the Battle of First Manassas), Lee’s Right Arm (General R.E Lee)
Here are the new questions:
1.Who was known as “the Virginia Creeper?”
2.Who was known as the “Fighting Bishop?”
The Flag Still Flies High
Frontlines of Freedom Gear
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Two quotes to consider.
Word to the Nation: Guard zealously your right to serve in the Armed Forces, for without them, there will be no other rights to guard.
President John F. Kennedy
What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight — it’s the size of the fight in the dog.
Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Programming: You’ll want to tune into the show (live or by podcast).
13-19 June: This weekend we celebrate Flag Day and the Army’s Birthday. Attornies Todd Mosser and Jon Mosley will discuss the Amicus Brief that the Uniformed Services League is submitting on behalf of General Flynn. Then Newsman extraordinaire Chris Wallace will discuss his new book on the use of the Atomic Bomb to end WWII. And Joseph Techovsky will discuss his book on his sniper-scout Marine dad in WWII.
20-26 June: This is our Father’s Day weekend show. Nat’l Gd BG Jeff Merrill will discuss how our military got creative in responding to the Corona virus. Michael LaVaive, the Dir of Fiscal Policy for the Macinac Center will discuss our nation’s economy—we’re really in debt. Then we’ll talk with FoF contributor Fay Richardson-Green about.
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Some Signs of the Times
A sign in a Shoe Repair store in Vancouver Reads:
A Sign on a On a Blinds and Curtain Truck
On Sign over a Gynecologist’s Office :
In a Podiatrist’s office:
On a Septic Tank Truck :
At an Optometrist’s Office :
On a Plumber’s truck :
On another Plumber’s truck :
At a Tire Shop in Milwaukee :
On an Electrician’s truck :
In a Non-smoking Area:
On a Maternity Room door :
At a Car Dealership:
Outside a Muffler Shop:
In a Veterinarian’s waiting room:
At the Electric Company:
In a Restaurant window:
In the front yard of a Funeral Home :
At a Propane Filling Station:
In a Chicago Radiator Shop:
And the best one for last…
Sign on the back of another Septic Tank Truck:
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Lt. Col. Denny Gillem (Ret.)