We began last week's letter with a report that the Mississippi State Flag bearing the Confederate Battle Flag was recently removed from the US Capitol. While speaking to University students on Wednesday the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, was asked about the flag's removal.
A Georgetown student asked about a recent decision from House Administration Committee Chairwoman Candice Miller (R-Mich.) to replace the state flags that hang in a Capitol hallway with images of state and territory commemorative coins. Specifically, the student said that the decision "renewed, northern Republican reconstruction" and "the erasure of Southern symbols, as well as ostracization of Southern voters by the GOP."
Ryan began by almost laughing off that characterization. "Hmm," Ryan said. "I never looked at it that way."
"Northern re-" Ryan continued, thinking better of repeating the phrase. "That's interesting. Yeah, I'm from Wisconsin, so guilty as a northerner."
Ryan then repeated a line he told reporters last week - that he supported Miller's decision to go with images of state coins in the Capitol hallway. But he went further.
"We discussed it," Ryan said of Miller's decision. "And I thought it was the right thing to do."
Then he offered his stern rebuke of the Confederate flag.
"This symbol does insult," Ryan said. "This symbol, I think, does more to divide this country than to unify this country."
"But I got to tell you, if, in the Capitol, we're going to have symbols, we're going to have symbols that unify people, that don't divide people, and that's just the way we think."
Confederate flag will fly at The Citadel, for now
This week the House Armed Services Committee rejected a measure, championed by U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-Columbia, that would have forced The Citadel to choose between displaying the flag and federal money for its Reserve Officers' Training Corps program.
"I am greatly disappointed that a majority of Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee have voted to keep the Confederate battle flag flying in a place of worship at The Citadel," Clyburn said in a statement. "Americans' tax dollars should not be directed to institutions where it is flown."
The amendment, proposed by U.S. Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., would have barred the Defense Department from giving federal money to ROTC programs at any school that flies the Confederate flag.
The Citadel, a public military college in Charleston, is the only school that fits that description. It has displayed a Confederate flag in its Summerall Chapel since 1939.
"It is not appropriate to fly (the flag) over institutions that train our next generation of military officers, and it is bizarre to allow the flag to fly above an academy when the military services do not allow the same flag to be displayed in servicemembers' rooms," Smith said. "They should have voted to take it down instead of dodging the issue."
Gov. Nikki Haley, who just happened to be on Capitol Hill Thursday to testify to Congress stated that, "They could very easily move the Confederate flag to the museum, which is right next door to where it's being housed now." Haley would happily use her position as South Carolina's top executive to order the flag removed from the Citadel but first, the State Legislature would have to make an exception for the college to a State law called the Heritage Act. "They would need to open the Heritage Act," the Governor said, "just for that specific facility and handle it accordingly."
Last summer, the Citadel Board of Visitors voted 9-3 to remove the flag. However, leaders of the South Carolina Legislature have said that they have no desire to modify the Heritage Act. "The Heritage Act continues to be the law of the state," House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, told The Greenville News. "And until it is changed, we plan on complying with the Heritage Act. That's really all I will say about it."
Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, said legislative leaders, including Lucas, has said they are not interested in amending the Heritage Act. "There's a thousand battles that could be fought with every community park or square, or cornerstone or building or monument," he said. "We would fight those battles ad infinitum. No, I don't think it should be amended."
However, state Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, said the Heritage Act needs to be revisited, "If it precludes The Citadel from removing the Confederate flag," he said, "if it precludes the town of Greenwood from changing its monuments, if it precludes Columbia from changing streets named after Confederates."
In his response to the failure of Smith's amendment Thursday, Clyburn said he wasn't going to stop fighting to remove the flag. "In the coming weeks and months, I plan to give House Republicans additional opportunities to do the right thing," he said.
The following are excerpts from an eMail that I received from one of our readers:
"We, as a Southern people are disheartened. We are used to losing a fight here and there but the tide has turned so heavily upon us (even in the South) that it is almost like the March Through GA all over again."
"I have been to seven memorial service this month and five of them yesterday. They were sparsely attended by the rank and file and even more so by the public. In some ways were are at the same juncture as when Gen. S.D. Lee delivered the CHARGE - our membership is aging and dying and few are filling the ranks. My re-enactment unit and SCV Camp both have the blessing of many youth but a good number of those will depart for college soon - after that, who knows where more will come from?"
"My guess is that Southern people will cease to exist in any cohesive form after our generation passes."
This dear friend wrote from Georgia, not too many miles from South Carolina, not knowing what was at the very moment he was typing was transpiring in our nation's capital.
So it seems that the attack against our Flag and upon our heritage both at the Citadel and throughout the entire State of South Carolina is about to come in full force. The governor and certain scallywag politicians are either unable to do it, or too cowardly to do it, by themselves. So they have enlisted the Federal government to help them. So our compatriots in South Carolina will from both Columbia and D.C. in what promises to be a relentless tag team effort that will not let up until it has eradicated every last vestige of Southern culture in South Carolina. When they finish with South Carolina, they WILL attack elsewhere, likely Georgia. Instead of Sherman's "March to the sea" (a west to east movement) the attack will start in South Carolina and sweep westerly across Dixie like a tornado tearing up an Oklahoma prairie trailer park. Suit up boys!
Also brought to light was an incident in 1997 when Michael Wayne Haley was arrested after stealing a calculator from Walmart. This was a crime that merited a maximum two-year prison term. But prosecutors incorrectly applied a habitual offender law. Neither the judge nor the defense lawyer caught the error and Haley was sentenced to 16 years. Eventually, the mistake came to light and the prosecutor tried to fix it. Ted Cruz was solicitor general of Texas at the time. Instead of just letting Haley go for time served, Cruz took the case to the Supreme Court to keep Haley in prison for the full 16 years. This case, like his charitable giving record, reveals much about Lyin' Ted Cruz' character.
Ted Cruz is running as the strongly evangelical and Christian candidate. But in his career and public presentation Cruz seems a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues: humility, mercy, compassion and grace. Cruz's behavior in the Haley case is almost the dictionary definition of pharisaism: an overzealous application of the letter of the law in a way that violates the spirit of the law, as well as fairness and mercy."
Unfortunately, Cruz's ascension among his political base is based on tales such as this one and such self-righteous moral fervor. Ted Cruz worked tirelessly to get a guy who stole a calculator from Walmart to serve sixteen years in prison for his crime. Surely, the phrase "compassionate conservative" is an oxymoron and a ruse to get just a few more votes from well meaning people on both sides of the political divide.
The reality is that Ted Cruz is just a mean-spirited man using religion as a cover for his desire to control and punish. And this is why Lyin' Ted chose, of all people, Carly FemiNAZI as his "running mate" on Wednesday. They are two spectacular failed approximations of each other. They campaign alike, too.
Both of them have a fun sense of biography. Ted Cruz comes from the Ivy League and once clerked for William Rehnquist and cynically portrays himself as a down-home duck-huntin' yahoo while Fiorina cratered two companies and blames every economic woe on bureaucracy, despite the latter being impotent enough that it didn't stop HP from using a third party to circumvent U.S. sanctions against Iran during her tenure. She also wants to fight for American jobs, despite shipping 30,000 of them to China, equivalent to half the population of Palo Alto, where her company was headquartered.
Both are great at following a script when it comes to a really good lie. Just as Ted Cruz reliably lets you know that we are one liberal Supreme Court justice away from sandblasting all the crosses and Stars of David off the headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, Fiorina hit her marks over and over again during the debates. Remember the impassioned testimony at seeing a video of an abortion that didn't exist? Then there was the litany of absurd national security moves on day one. After "calling [her] good friend Bibi Netanyahu," she would start pushing more paper military commands around the map than Hitler in the bunker during the last ten days.
But there's one script Fiorina followed that Cruz is especially interested in. The core substance of Fiorina's campaign was this: I, Carly Fiorina, female person, will attack bad-woman Hillary Clinton for you. It makes sense, up until you notice all the ways it doesn't.
A move like this presupposes that conservative women voters needed a feminine mouthpiece to hate Hillary Clinton, instead of relying on everything they already believe in. If you're a woman member of the party you don't need a woman running against a woman avatar of ideas you oppose to clarify the issues for you.
If Carly Fiorina is an alternative, the question is to what? Ted hopes that the short answer members in his party will see is, "Donald Trump." But that dog only hunts if the party members want to be saved from Donald. Based on the outcomes of the last several contests, all being won by Trump in Landslides with Cruz coming in third to John Kasich (in New York City he actually came in 4th behind Ben Carson) it would appear that it is Lyin' Ted, not Donald Trump, that the party wants to be saved from. Maybe thats why on Thursday former House speaker John Boehner called Cruz, "Lucifer in the flesh."
The only constructive thing Carly Fiorina does is to add one delegate to whatever mathematically insufficient total Lyin' Ted winds up with.
AN EDITORIAL FROM ONE OF OUR REAERS
I am often asked why I, a Southerner, Christian, Libertarian, and intellectual, would publicly support Donald Trump; a man of no fixed ideology, no apparent religious beliefs, multiple marriages, visible ties to the Clintons, and whose taste and sophistication tends to resemble that of a nouveau riche rhinoceros. It is a reasonable question.
The answer is as simple as it is conclusive and convincing. Donald Trump is the only candidate in either major party whose personal interests are aligned with those of the American public rather than with the interests of the anti-nationalist elite who see America as nothing more than lines on a map and Americans as nothing more than 300 million economic units in the global economy.
The reason I trust Donald Trump, despite all his rhetorical meanderings, is that he is a traitor to his class. Unlike Hillary Clinton and Ted Cruz, both ordinary people who sold their souls in order to be granted a seat at the table of the Great Game, Donald Trump was born a member of the elite and he has always been welcome in the inner circles of both political parties. When I met him in 1988, it was at the Republican National Convention in New Orleans, where he was the personal guest of George Bush in his private suite there. Like the Bushes, like the Clintons, Trump is truly neither Republican nor Democrat. He is a lifetime member of America's bi-factional ruling party.
So Donald Trump was already a man of great wealth, influence, connections and power. He did not need to run for president in order to make a name for himself or to launch a public speaking career at $200,000 a pop. Nor does it make sense to claim that he is running for president in order to assuage his formidable ego. Quite to the contrary, he has been under furious attack and criticism from the media as well as from the wealthy elites his rivals are most desperate to please, and it is only his tremendous ego that permits him to survive it. He is enduring this relentless, bipartisan assault because the ruling party knows he has chosen the American people over them.
Ask yourself this: why did Donald Trump run for president in the first place? I believe that the real reason is that he, like you, is deeply concerned about the current state of the United States of America, and he, like you, fears for its future.
Donald Trump may live in wealthy neighborhoods, but that doesn't mean he is indifferent to the fact that America has endured the largest invasion in human history, 60 million immigrants since 1965. Donald Trump may have filed for corporate bankruptcy four times, but that doesn't mean he is an enthusiastic servant to Wall Street, Goldman Sachs, and the International Monetary Fund. Donald Trump may not be academically inclined or ideologically consistent, but that doesn't mean he fails to understand that it makes no sense for Americans to go to war for democracy abroad while their democratically expressed will is repeatedly thwarted at home.
I support Donald Trump because he loves the America that once was, and he is willing to put both his body and his reputation on the line in order to restore America to that unique state that was the envy of the entire world. That is what he means by Make America Great Again.
If you cannot bring yourself to trust in Trump's words, then you can safely trust in his vanity. It is true, of course, that every recent president has betrayed his supporters: George H.W. Bush raised taxes, Bill Clinton had sex with that woman, George W. Bush embraced an arrogant foreign policy, and Barack Obama has waged war from Syria to Ukraine. Will not Donald Trump do the same?
It is possible, but unlikely. Donald Trump loves to be loved by the American people. And it defies everything we know about human nature to believe that he will throw away that intoxicating populist love in favor of the approval of an anti-nationalist elite whose affections he has already rejected.
Donald Trump not only wants to make America great again, he wants America to be American. That is what distinguishes him from Ted Cruz, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. And that is why I support him.
One of our readers produced a documentary that you must see. Go to searchingforlincoln.com
WILL ROBERT E LEE ELEMENTARY BE RENAMED ADOLF HITLER ELEMENTARY?
Austin, Texas school officials want to rename Robert E. Lee Elementary, and they decided to create an online poll to have the public's input.
The school has received more than 240 suggestions as possibilities to replace the school's name:
Donald J. Trump Elementary: 45 nominations
Robert E. Lee Elementary: 34 nominations
Russell Lee Elementary: 32 nominations
Harper Lee Elementary: 30 nominations
Elisabet Ney Elementary: 15 nominations
Lee Elementary: 13 nominations
Adolf Hitler Elementary: 8 nominations
Waller Creek Elementary: 8 nominations
Dr. Frances J. Nesmith Elementary School: 7 nominations
Guy Bizzell Elementary: 6 nominations
But these are only the top 10. Here are the others: Adam Lanza's School of Fun, Bee Movie, Bleeding Heart Liberal Elementary, Boaty McBoatface Elementary School, Forgetting the Past Dooms You to Repeat It Elementary, Garfunkel, Hypothetical Perfect Person Memorial Elementary School, John Cena Elementary and Schooly McSchoolerson.
The Austin school board will pick the new name on May 23.
Previously we had reported that Montgomery Sibley's US Supreme Court Application to be relieved from Restraining Order which had been denied by the Chief Justice was refiled to the office of Justice Clarence Thomas and Thomas put it on the conference docket. This means that the full Court will hear the matter despite the Chief Justice's objection.
I did several Google and Bing searches this week and NOTHING comes up to indicate that the Court is about to consider this matter. Every item that comes up trumpeted the fact that the Chief Justice had denied the application.
The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear the matter TODAY. The media is saying nothing. I guess the possibility of Ted Cruz phone number being found in the DC Madame's phone records no longer interests the media? But according to the Supreme Court's website the matter is still on today's schedule:
Montgomery Sibley's US Supreme Court Application to be relieved from Restraining Order distributed for Conference of April 29, 2016.
Title: Montgomery Blair Sibley, Applicant v. United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Docketed: April 1, 2016
Lower Ct: United States District Court for the District of Columbia
Case Nos.: (1:07-cr-00046-RWR-1)
~~~~~~~Proceedings and Orders~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Mar 28 2016
Application (15A1016) for a stay, submitted to The Chief Justice.
Apr 4 2016
Application (15A1016) denied by The Chief Justice.
Apr 6 2016
Application (15A1016) refiled and submitted to Justice Thomas.
Apr 13 2016
DISTRIBUTED for Conference of April 29, 2016.
Here is a link to the Supreme Court website: http://www.supremecourt.gov/Search.aspx?FileName=/docketfilesa1016.htm
ATTORNEY JIM GEORGE - WHY I DEFENDED THE CONFEDERATE FLAG
Since clerking for Justice Thurgood Marshall in the early 1970s, I've returned to the U.S. Supreme Court three times in the service of clients. Each case has been significant in its own way, and each garnered its share of news coverage. But none was as controversial as Walker v. Sons of Confederate Veterans, which I argued.
The facts of the case are straightforward. As it had done successfully in seven other states, a historical society called the Sons of Confederate Veterans applied to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for a license plate bearing an image of the Confederate battle flag. A DMV board initially approved the request, but it reversed itself after one of the agency's senior executives complained, citing a state law allowing the refusal of a design that "might be offensive to any member of the public."
The Sons of Confederate Veterans sued, claiming its right to free speech had been violated. If organizations as diverse as the University of Notre Dame, the World Wildlife Fund and Mighty Fine Burgers are allowed to create Texas license plates, the group argued, then it should be afforded the same opportunity.
The Sons of Confederate Veterans case went all the way to the nation's highest court, where I argued on the group's behalf.
What, pray tell, was I thinking? That's the question that clogged my inbox in the days following my argument. Friends, family and former associates demanded to know why a protégé of the Supreme Court's first African-American justice would go to bat for a cause they believed to be racist.
My answer is simple: Controversial speech is the only speech that truly needs protecting. If there were no benefit to the open debate of contentious ideas, our nation's founders would not have seen fit to safeguard it.
Let's assume the DMV was correct when it asserted, in effect, that the Confederate battle flag is first and foremost a symbol of slavery and that its appearance is likely to offend someone. (Let's also ignore, for a moment, that Texas was a member of the Confederacy, that every employee of a state agency gets to stay home on Confederate Heroes Day and that the Capitol grounds contain several statues of prominent Southern rebels.) Would state authorities be justified in banning the sale of bumper stickers featuring the flag's image?
I believe most of us would agree that no, they would not be.
But what about this case, which deals with specialty license plates? Surely the state can refuse to manufacture a license plate it finds controversial.
Again, I believe it cannot. I believe Texas abandoned that option when it opened the door to license plate designs from anyone willing to pay $8,000, which covers the state's costs.
Today, Texas drivers can choose from hundreds of license plate designs, netting the state millions of dollars in annual fees. Available plates include "Choose Life" (created by the anti-abortion group Texas Alliance for Life), "One State Under God" (created by a Nacogdoches-based ministry) and "Don't Tread On Me" (promoted by the Foundation for Moral Law, a nonprofit with Tea Party leanings).
I believe that the state has unwittingly created a new kind of public forum, to borrow a phrase from Justice Anthony Kennedy. It has opened a 6-by-12-inch space for private speech, plain and simple. The state may own the plates, but only the driver can choose the message that's right for her, and only she can walk out and bolt it onto her car.
If you look around, you'll notice that our world is filling up with all sorts of new public forums. What kind of speech should Facebook be policing, if any? Is Twitter right to ban certain users because of the content of their tweets? These are complicated issues that our legal system is only beginning to explore.
Make no mistake: Modern-day Texas needs to come to terms with its past as a part of the Deep South, and whether or not displaying the Confederate battle flag adds to that debate is a conversation worth having. No good conversation was begun, though, with one side stopping the other from speaking.
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YES, we are still giving a FREE eBook (PDF) copy of the book The Truth About the Confederate Flag to everyone who visits the website - so tell your friends - and your enemies!
Until next week,