BY JOHN SHAFFER
The US Senate voted in favor of the Born-Alive Abortion Survivors Protection Act last week by a margin of 53-44. The Act came about in reaction to the recent push by several elected Democrats concerning infanticide. Had Virginia Governor Northam not ruminated aloud about the possibility of killing babies who survive after a late-term abortion, perhaps no one would have thought it necessary to pass a bill attempting to save those babies. Other Democrats and commentators came out in support of Gov. Northam, and New York and other states have taken steps to legalize abortions to the point of delivery, so it is not hard to understand why Senators who are appalled at the prospect of elected officials giving sanction to killing babies who survive abortion would want to take legislative action. Back in 2002, the Senate approved by unanimous consent the “Born-Alive Infants Protection Act”, which stated that a baby born alive after an abortion is legally recognized as a human person; therefore it is without question that killing such a baby clearly is infanticide and therefore is a practice that already is illegal, yet apparently that illegality had not stopped the support for the practice.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Most of us have heard of the Jussie Smollett case. The Chicago police have charged him with faking a “hate crime” which he attempted to blame on some unidentified supporters of President Trump but which was, they charge, perpetrated by Mr. Smollett himself and people he hired. The details of the story as first presented by Mr. Smollett always smelled a bit fishy, and the local Chicago media and most conservatives who commented on the original story pointed out inconsistencies and circumstances that made it unlikely that the incident took place as the “victim” claimed. Supporters of Mr. Smollett, and the national mainstream media believed him at that time, and some still do, but the significance of this story is not that someone faked a “hate crime,” because such crimes have been faked by the hundreds in the last couple of years. Even one actual “hate crime” or politically motivated attack is too many, and the country does not need additional ones hoaxed up by the political right or the political left.
The significance of this story is that many who believed Mr. Smollett’s account weren’t satisfied with wanting to bring the perpetrator of that alleged assault to justice, or even with standing in solidarity with Mr. Smollett as a victim. No, those “believers” immediately and with certainty blamed President Trump and his supporters for the outrage committed against Mr. Smollett. And it wasn’t only activists – many Democratic politicians, including several who are running for president, unquestioningly accepted that the story was true, and did not hesitate to blame the President and those who support him. Those candidates, and the mainstream news media, did not even qualify their opinions with the word “alleged” or one of its variants. They believed Mr. Smollett’s words and charges, and were never skeptical or suspicious of any detail, and the media and the candidates used the the story to hammer the President, a man whom, for all his faults, was not out on the streets of Chicago that night with a noose and “an unknown chemical substance” prowling for Mr. Smollett or anyone else. He could not possibly have committed the attack, yet was blamed for it anyway. And it bears repeating that: A) the incident that Mr. Smollett claimed took place was manufactured by him and people he paid; and B) the President and people wearing MAGA hats had nothing to do with it.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
We traditionalists lament the loss of many qualities and conditions that once were common but have been disappearing in recent years, but there is one American tradition that never seems to go away, and that is the mounting US national debt, which just crossed the $22 trillion mark. President Trump and the Republicans, not without merit, clobbered President Obama for the ballooning debt during his eight years in office – but we have surpassed the $20 trillion, the $21 trillion and now the $22 trillion marks since President Trump took office, and the annual deficit for the current fiscal year may come in around $900 billion, which should be pretty embarrassing for any President, especially a Republican one.
Sad to say, it doesn’t seem to make much difference what party controls Congress or has the White House, the debt climbs anyway. Furthermore, we consider it a “victory” when a year’s budget deficit is less than the previous one – even though all that means is that the debt continues to rise. We had a brief period during the second term when Bill Clinton was President and Republicans controlled Congress when there were budget surpluses, but in the Bush years they soon disappeared with the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, and, later, with the prescription drug benefit, and continued to grow in the Obama years with Obamacare, the auto bailout, the stimulus package and much more.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
The first time we wrote about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was after she unseated 14-term Congressman Joe Crowley in the 2018 primary election. We were aware that she represented the leftward course of the Democrat party, but we had no idea that she would become the intellectual, spiritual, moral, and public relations face of the party so rapidly. A media favorite, she has already reached the iconic level of being known by her initials, same as FDR, HST, DDE, JFK, and LBJ. She is the “go-to” person for every issue imaginable, and as the de facto leader of the Democrats in Congress and everywhere else, her public statements have been frequent and highly-sought. The “freshman class” of the present US House of Representatives includes 59 Democrats and 29 Republicans. We doubt if the other 87 in combination have received as much media attention as AOC has.
AOC’s latest public pronouncement is “The Green New Deal,” which in keeping with the current fashion we will identify as “GND.” AOC, assisted by extreme progressive Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts, introduced GND, and it almost immediately was endorsed by most of the big name candidates for the Democrat nomination for President. By the way, almost all of these folks also have endorsed “Medicare for All,” and are undaunted by that $32 trillion price tag over ten years, and also want to end private insurance, so it should come as little surprise that the cost of GND is something that doesn’t concern its sponsors.
by John Shaffer ~ email@example.com
Last week we wrote about New York State’s recently enacted Reproductive Health Act, which legalizes abortions up to the point of delivery. This makes the Governor of that state and the legislative advocates of the measure appear pretty callous toward unborn life, but they must be at least a little troubled by the idea of killing a baby at the point of delivery, because they defend the practice by declaring that although legally late-term abortions can occur for any reason, most of them are due to severe fetal deformity or imminent threat to the life of the mother. The main problem with that claim is that the Alan Guttmacher Institute, which is a pro-abortion group, states: “Data suggest that most women seeking later terminations are not doing so for reasons of fetal abnormality or life endangerment.” We add that if a baby is killed as it is being delivered, it still must be delivered, meaning that whatever risk there was to the life of the mother because of delivery, it would continue to exist.
The most unchallengeable opinion we have heard on the subject comes from Frank Stephens, a man who has Down Syndrome, who in his testimony to Congress eloquently defended his life, and who this week told an interviewer “I don’t want to make abortion illegal. I want to make abortion unthinkable.” We emphasize that Mr. Stephens has a condition which, if the laws introduced by the Democrats are enacted, would perhaps make a future Frank Stephens a candidate for an abortion.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
One of the major obligations of government is to protect its citizens, and the most vulnerable of them generally receive greater protections. That is why we have strict laws with severe penalties for those who harm children. It is why there are “hate crime” laws, which were established to give an extra layer of protection to those deemed at risk from certain types of threats. It is even why we have laws protecting livestock and animals from cruel treatment. We have specialized laws to protect the elderly, to protect people who have witnessed criminal acts; and even though sometimes it may put the innocent at risk, we even protect those accused of crimes, requiring high standards of evidence and burdens of proof. But in New York State, now there is one group that not only receives no extra protections, it doesn’t even receive protection at all. We are referring to unborn children.
New York State had a reputation for being a relatively “easy” place to obtain an abortion, but actually allowed abortion only up until 20 weeks of a pregnancy, and also required that the abortion be performed by a doctor.
Earlier this month, the New York State legislature passed and the Governor signed a law, the “Reproductive Health Act,”which legalizes abortion at any time during a pregnancy, including, believe it or not, immediately before birth; furthermore, the new law allows non-doctors to perform abortions, and for all practical purposes allows abortion not only at any time but also does not require a medical reason, but states that “every individual who becomes pregnant has the fundamental right to choose to carry the pregnancy to term, to give birth to a child, or to have an abortion.”
by John Shaffer
The hot topic this week is the incident at the Lincoln Memorial, which actually was a very insignificant event, sort of like a Seinfeld program, “about nothing.” Oh, the allegations were ferocious and played into the prejudices of “good people” all over the country, but the truth was something very different indeed.
First, the sensational allegations of a bunch of “MAGA-Hat wearing, privileged, white Catholic kids” from Covington, Kentucky, in Washington for the March for Life, “mocking and harassing” a “serene Native American, Vietnam combat veteran.”
The progressive left jumped in with both feet, as did the mainstream news media, the anti-Trump faction of the Conservative movement, even the Catholic Diocese representing the Covington group. They saw ninety seconds or so of video which showed one of the Covington kids “smirking” as he was “in the face” of the Native American, who was pounding a drum as part of a ceremony.
Of course, the full version of the tape showed precisely the opposite: that the Covington Kids were essentially minding their own business on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, when a small group of progressive activists began shouting insults, most of which are so vile they cannot be repeated here. The Kids did not attack their harassers, nor return insult for insult, but, with the permission of their chaperone, sang their school’s fight song. This went on for some time, and then the Native American advanced toward the Kids (not the other way around), “got in their faces” (not the other way around) and pounded his drum quite close to the face of the “smirking” youth. Who, by the way, responded by “smirking” and nothing else – he nor any of the other Kids did not commit assault, battery, mayhem, threaten, attack, insult, ridicule or otherwise disparage the drummer.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
When we were at college long ago, actually about fifty years more or less, we became acquainted with a special type of baseball fan. Like most fans, they loved and supported their teams when they were winning. Most fans would continue to try to boost the team when they were having an ordinary season, but these particular fans did not like it when their teams were losing or were average – they were vicious in their criticism, and believed or felt that their teams, if not the best, had to be the worst. If their team fell just a couple of games below .500, they described it as the worst team ever – they stink, they reek, they are lousy. If they won, they were the greatest, but when they lost, they were the worst, and contemptible, besides.
A similar trend toward superlatives continues today in the debate over border security. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi disagrees with President Trump’s push for “a wall” or “steel barrier” or whatever it may be called; and that’s fine – political differences mark our debates, whether over Obamacare, or tax rates, or the wall. But the Speaker is not satisfied by opposing the wall, she must characterize it as “immoral” or “ineffective.” Just as those baseball fans did fifty years ago, the Speaker isn’t content with disagreeing with the need for a border fence, she is compelled to declare that the very existence of a barrier is “immoral.”
By J0hn Shaffer
Everyone from the compassionate left to the hard-nose right is weighing in on “the Wall.” One side fears its existence; the other fears what would happen without it
Many of us absolutely believe that the generous benefits that Americans enjoy – such as safety, a robust economy, education, and health care are very attractive, as is the welfare to which illegals apparently are entitled. But we don’t have thousands of Canadians storming our northern border, demanding entrance to the USA. Why not? Because Canada itself provides all of those attributes. Canada, and America, have many things that most citizens in the rest of the hemisphere can only dream of: rule by the consent of the governed; an independent judiciary; honest police officers; militaries that do not insert themselves in the choice of governments; peaceful exchanges of power after free elections; freedom from an oppressive government; the protection of basic liberties and civil rights – not merely in words but in actual practice; a free exchange of ideas; free economies; fair tax rates; and hundreds of other traits that we take for granted but are but dreams for much of the rest of the hemisphere.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
You may have heard that the “government” is shut down, due to the inability of Congress and the President to agree on a budget. The sticking point is “the wall,” which President Trump believes is essential to stem the flow of illegal immigration (and in addition, drugs, criminals and communicable diseases) into the United States.
There are some competing schools of thought on the realities of a shutdown. While no one really wants a shutdown, the conservatives who believe in limited government, and smaller government, tend to believe that shutting down an intrusive, expensive, and officious government for a couple of weeks is not necessarily a bad thing; while the progressive liberals who believe in big government view shutdowns, even brief ones, as unmitigated disasters – because they tend to believe that government is essential to control our economy, our happiness, and our daily lives.
The truth can be found somewhere in the middle, but it is instructive to take a brief glance at the history of government shutdowns, so we can get a better idea of how beneficial or disastrous they might be. There was a 10 day shutdown in 1976, when we had a Republican President (Gerald Ford) and both houses of Congress controlled by the Democrats. That lasted 12 days. In 1977 there were three shutdowns, all between Oct. 1 and Dec. 8. Both houses of Congress were controlled by the Democrats, but there was a Democrat in the White House (Jimmy Carter). Two of those shutdowns lasted eight days and one 12 days. There was one shutdown in 1978 and one in 1979, again with the Democrats controlling both houses and President Carter in the Oval Office. In 1978 the shutdown lasted 17 days; in 1979, 11.
By John Shaffer
This is the last Sentinel for 2018, and as we look ahead to 2019, we also can check the rear-view mirror to review the year now drawing to a close. As far as the newspaper goes, our biggest event was the sale of the paper. We could not have done for thirty years what we did without the the community, and we hope that you continue to provide the same levels of cooperation, support and guidance to the new owners that you gave to the old ones. The transition from one owner to another always brings with it some changes, some growing pains, some nostalgia, and some differences; but the Sentinel has been around since 1871, and each successive owner did things a bit differently from his predecessor, but the paper continued to grow and to thrive with fresh ideas and outlooks and perspectives. We are appreciative that the community embraced us as it did and gave us the opportunity to learn and grow and be a part of your lives. We know you will be as kind and understanding with the current owners.
The year 2018 was full of many big events – fires and natural disasters; terrorism; political upheaval and change; triumphs on playing fields and in science and exploration. The stock markets rocketed upwards, and in the past few weeks have tumbled downwards, causing a lot of anxiety and trauma; but patience is no less a virtue now than it was last year, and the wise investor will not be panicked by bad markets just as he should not be in euphoria over good ones.
By John Shaffer ~ firstname.lastname@example.org
It wasn’t that many years ago, back in 2002 during the G W Bush presidency, when Attorney General John Ashcroft was ridiculed for “censoring” the statue of “The Spirit of Justice” in the Hall of Justice in the US Department of Justice. It seems the statue (a classic sculpture with breasts exposed) was to be in the background of a photo-op and the Attorney General’s office was concerned over the sniggering that would inevitably come from the progressive left were there to be a “topless woman” (aluminum, not actual flesh) in the same picture as the A-G. So, rather than relocating the photo-op, the office purchased some $8,000 for drapery to cover the 18-foot tall statue.
Well, the Attorney General was in a no-win situation. The statue was covered, so there was no embarrassing photo, but instead of enduring some mild sniggering, Mr. Ashcroft was excoriated as a puritanical bluenose with no appreciation for the finer things in life (statuary, that is, not undressed women). Let us flash forward to 2018, when the progressive left that was prepared to smirk and scorn at Mr. Ashcroft now seeks to ban the song Baby, It’s Cold Outside, because it is either sexist or encourages bad behavior, etc.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
The nation is mourning the death of George H W Bush, 41st president of the United States. He passed away at age 94, and surely was one of the last of his kind, and he was unique. He took flight training with Ted Williams (the future Baseball Hall of Famer) and as a member of the 1948 Yale College World Series baseball team, shook the hand of Babe Ruth (another Hall of Famer), shortly before Ruth’s passing later that year. The “Walker” in his name comes from the same man as “The Walker Cup,” awarded in international golf. Mr. Bush is the last World War II veteran to serve as President (along with Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, and Ford. President Carter entered the Naval Academy in 1943 but the war ended before his class graduated in 1947); and except for his son, who served in the Air National Guard, Mr. Bush was the most recent US President with military service. George H W Bush was a successful businessman, Chairman of the Republican National Committee; US Congressman; Ambassador to the United Nations; Director of the Central Intelligence Agency; Vice President of the United States; and in 1988 was elected President. No vice-president since has succeeded to the office. He received over 48 million votes in that election; when he lost the presidency four years later he received about ten million fewer votes, losing to Bill Clinton, who received nearly 45 million both times he won the office. His 1988 victory was the last “landslide” presidential election (claims of the current President notwithstanding). In other words, Bush went from very popular to very unpopular in a brief period of time. Why was this, and, of equal consequence, why is he “popular” once again, now that he has passed?
BY JOHN SHAFFER
Our television screens have been filled with images of hundreds of illegal immigrants being dispersed and repelled with tear gas as they were rushing the border fence at San Ysidro, California. By the way, they came from the caravan that the mainstream media and the progressive left assured us was a “myth” concocted by President Trump to gin up support prior to the election. Interesting that a “caravan” of people whose progress has been visible from its origins in Central America, monitored as it forcibly crossed Mexico’s southern border, traced the length of Mexico, all the way to the California border, was dismissed by the left as an election stunt or a myth, right up to the moment the caravan was tear-gassed, and then it somehow became real. And oh, the shrieking and wailing and gnashing of teeth by the left – as they decry the use of gas. “Unprecedented,” they assert. “America’s shame,” they accuse. “Contrary to international law and the US Constitution,” they claim. Elijah Cummings, who will be a Committee Chairman when the newly-elected Democrat majority in the US House of Representatives is sworn in in January, says we should welcome the members of the caravan and let them cross.
That illustrates the only real political game being played here, for prior to the election the Democrats assiduously avoided mentioning the caravan; they did not want to have to defend it – for that could harm them with moderate voters; and they did not want to criticize it – for that would harm them with the left; so they ignored it or pretended it did not exist. Now that the election is safely won, they can once again unmask their “open borders” agenda.
BY JOHN SHAFFER
While most of the time we all tend to concentrate on the “major” news – recently of course, the election, the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh, the wildfires in California, various antics of various politicians or elected officials, etc., but quite often the “little” stories deserve attention as well. Here’s a couple from recent days that may have been missed but provide insights into our modern value system.
A substitute teacher in Parkway South School District in St. Louis Co. Missouri was either fired, suspended, or reassigned because he thanked the 22 students in his class who stood for the Pledge of Allegiance. He told the students, “Thanks to all of you that participated in that. I’m sure that all of those families who lost loved ones so that we could enjoy the freedoms we have today would appreciate the effort.” However, two students in the class did not stand, and at least one of them told a school official that he was “hurt” by the teacher’s comments. We do not know whether the student considered the possibility that the other 22 students or the teacher might have been “hurt” by his refusal to stand, but we suspect he would be indignant at the thought they might. After all, that would impinge on his rights, would it not? The school says that the teacher was “bullying” the students, and that this was only one in a series of incidents that prompted his punishment. Perhaps there were others and whether the teacher should have been reprimanded we cannot say, but it seems to us that if a high school student has enough awareness of current events and knows even a modicum of American history, and chooses not to stand, he should be capable of understanding why someone might disagree with his decision; after all, the non-standing student, we assume, has a good reason for refusing to stand – and if so, should be capable of explaining why and willing to provide that explanation when confronted.