Category Archives: Culture

2nd Amendment advances as 1st Amendment retreats

Here is my column that ran in the Washington County Daily News earlier this week.

Our country is engaging in cultural and civic (not civil, yet) war that is challenging some of the national principles that used to be held inviolable. As we watch the 1st Amendment make a confused retreat, we are seeing the 2nd Amendment make a vigorous advance.

The 1st and 2nd Amendments refer, of course, to the Constitution’s prohibition of the federal government from infringing on our natural rights to speak (among other things) and to keep and bear arms, respectively. But they are also used as shorthand to express our collective support for the underlying natural rights.

While the practice of our 1st Amendment right to free speech has ebbed and flowed throughout our nation’s history, the general ethos has been robust support for people to say anything they want as long as it does not drift into defamation or incitement – and even then we have generally been very generous with where that boundary lies.

I am reminded of a comment by Jim Croce: “I don’t care, as long as they don’t be putting their hands on me. I don’t mind people talking and saying different things. Everybody gotta say something.” That pretty well sums up what our attitude used to be about people speaking their minds. Now we are seeing the onset of outrage mobs that seek out people who express opinions with which they disagree and try to destroy them personally and professionally. This is the so-called “cancel culture” where we no longer meet objectionable speech with more speech. Instead, these mobs consider contrary opinions to be so fundamentally immoral that they must not be spoken, and the people speaking them must be ruined to force adherence to the current, if fluid, orthodoxy. What is even more chilling is that the opinions being canceled are views that were mainstream as recently as a few months ago. Support for law enforcement, standing for the National Anthem, celebrating Independence Day, honoring George Washington, etc. are things that were commonplace and integral parts of the national psyche. Now such views are just as likely to attract an online or physical mob to your doorstep. There has been a very rapid and scary retreat of our collective support for free speech.

Meanwhile, support for the right to keep and bear arms is exploding. I recently witnessed a couple of protest marches in suburban communities. In both cases, firearms were plentiful and visible in the hands of both protesters and counter-protesters. Furthermore, as the mobs and the elected Democrats who support them defund the police and force law enforcement into a defensive crouch, The People are taking the hint and arming themselves for personal protection.

Across the nation, federal background checks, which serve as a proxy for measuring the sale of all guns, were up 69% in June versus last year. Background checks specifically for handgun purchases were up 80% over last year. In many cases, people are buying multiple guns at a time with Small Arms Analytics and Forecasting showing a 145% increase in guns sold in June compared to the same month last year. The June estimates are on top of similar trends for April and May. According to industry analysts, roughly 40% of gun purchases in the past few months are being made by first time buyers. A quick trip to any gun store will find empty shelves and depleted inventories.

At the heart of the surge in gun ownership are two trends. First, there is the general concern for personal safety. Democrats are echoing the mob’s demand to defund the police and several cities have already started the process. With fewer police with fewer resources, law-abiding people are empowering themselves to defend themselves and their families. The old saying that “when seconds count, the police are minutes away” has become a stark realization for many people.

Second, Americans are watching Marxists and anarchists violently take over parts of our country. Often, they are doing so with the permission or support of government officials. We are witnessing the violent overthrow of portions of our government with the intent to rebuild something that is no longer American. The right to keep and bear arms has always been the last resort for a free people to ensure their right to self-governance. An armed citizenry cannot be easily subjugated.

Our natural rights, as secured in our Constitution, are the bases and guardians of our government and way of life. While we continue to push our nation toward our founding ideals, we must never surrender the ground we have fought so hard to gain.

 

2nd Amendment advances as 1st Amendment retreats

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

I am reminded of a comment by Jim Croce: “I don’t care, as long as they don’t be putting their hands on me. I don’t mind people talking and saying different things. Everybody gotta say something.” That pretty well sums up what our attitude used to be about people speaking their minds. Now we are seeing the onset of outrage mobs that seek out people who express opinions with which they disagree and try to destroy them personally and professionally. This is the so-called “cancel culture” where we no longer meet objectionable speech with more speech. Instead, these mobs consider contrary opinions to be so fundamentally immoral that they must not be spoken, and the people speaking them must be ruined to force adherence to the current, if fluid, orthodoxy.

What is even more chilling is that the opinions being canceled are views that were mainstream as recently as a few months ago. Support for law enforcement, standing for the National Anthem, celebrating Independence Day, honoring George Washington, etc. are things that were commonplace and integral parts of the national psyche. Now such views are just as likely to attract an online or physical mob to your doorstep. There has been a very rapid and scary retreat of our collective support for free speech.

Meanwhile, support for the right to keep and bear arms is exploding. I recently witnessed a couple of protest marches in suburban communities. In both cases, firearms were plentiful and visible in the hands of both protesters and counter-protesters. Furthermore, as the mobs and the elected Democrats who support them defund the police and force law enforcement into a defensive crouch, The People are taking the hint and arming themselves for personal protection.

 

Illinois Rep Wants to Stop Teaching History

Destroy history so that they can write a new one. I’m all for teaching all kinds of history. I’m a history junkie and read constantly. But those old white guys did some pretty neat things too.

In a press release received by the outlet before Sunday’s event, the state representative called for the “abolishment of history classes” and demanded that the Illinois State Board of Education “take immediate action by removing current history books and curriculum practices that unfairly communicate our history” until “appropriate alternatives are developed.”

Sturgis is On

Love the bikers.

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Sturgis is on. The message has been broadcast across social media as South Dakota, which has seen an uptick in coronavirus infections in recent weeks, braces to host hundreds of thousands of bikers for the 80th edition of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.

More than 250,000 people are expected to rumble through western South Dakota, seeking the freedom of cruising the boundless landscapes in a state that has skipped lockdowns. The Aug. 7 to 16 event, which could be the biggest anywhere so far during the pandemic, will offer businesses that depend on the rally a chance to make up for losses caused by the coronavirus. But for many in Sturgis, a city of about 7,000, the brimming bars and bacchanalia will not be welcome during a pandemic.

Though only about half the usual number of people are expected at this year’s event, residents were split as the city weighed its options. Many worried that the rally would cause an unmanageable outbreak of COVID-19.

Hanson: Summer of Cultural Suicide

Victor Davis Hanson does it again. Our nation’s cultural stewards are committing suicide right before our eyes.

Take professional sports. Over the last century, professional football, basketball and baseball were racially integrated and adopted a uniform code of patriotic observance. The three leagues offered fans a pleasant respite from daily barroom politics. As a result, by the 21st century, the NFL, NBA and MLB had become global multibillion- dollar enterprises. Then hubris ensued. The owners, coaches and players weren’t always racially diverse. But that inconvenient truth did not stop the leagues from hectoring their fans about social activism — even as they no longer honored common patriotic rituals. All three leagues have suffered terribly during the viral lockdown, as American life mysteriously went on without them. And they have almost ensured that they won’t fully recover when the quarantine ends. Many of their oftenpampered multimillionaire players refuse to honor the national anthem. In the NFL they now will broadcast their politics on their helmets. They will virtue-signal their moral superiority to increasingly turned-off fans — as if to ensure that their sources of support flee.

[…]

Professional sports, universities and the motion picture industry all know that what they are doing is bad for business. But they still believe they are rich and powerful, and thus invulnerable. They also are ignorant of history and cannot be persuaded that they are destroying themselves.

At this late date, all that matters is that the country itself learns from these suicidal examples and heals itself. If the U.S. is not to become an extinct Easter Island, it must rediscover a respect for its past, honor for the dead who gave us so much, the desire to invest rather than spend, and a need for some sense of transcendence.

If we do not believe that what we do today has consequences for our children after we are gone, there are ancient existential forces in the world that will intervene.

And it won’t be nice.

Inmates Save Guard

What a great story about human compassion in even the most trying of circumstances. Huzzah!

Three Georgia inmates have been credited with saving the life of their guard who suffered a heart attack outside their cell doors.

Mitchell Smalls, Terry Lovelace and Walter Whitehead all rushed to Deputy Warren Hobbs’ aid when he fell unconscious at his desk in Gwinnett County Jail.

Smalls first alerted the rest of the inmates to the emergency by banging on his door. Lovelace and Whitehead then rushed to Hobbs’ side after the deputy managed to unlock their cell door.

Footage shows as Smalls raises the alarm after spotting Hobbs was in trouble by banging on his cell door. Fellow inmates then join in to make as much noise as possible in a call for help.

That noise seems to pull Hobbs conscious again and he managed to unlock the cell of Lovelace and Whitehead who are seen running from their room to help the deputy.  They then called for help using a phone and Hobbs’ radio.

COVID Economy Causing Famine

When some of us talk about balancing the risks of Coronavirus with the negative implications of shutting down our economy, these are the kinds of things we are trying to prevent. Far more people are going to die from the economic shutdowns than will ever die from COVID-19. But please, tell me how you care about the kids.

All around the world, the coronavirus and its restrictions are pushing already hungry communities over the edge, cutting off meager farms from markets and isolating villages from food and medical aid. Virus-linked hunger is leading to the deaths of 10,000 more children a month over the first year of the pandemic, according to an urgent call to action from the United Nations shared with The Associated Press ahead of its publication in the Lancet medical journal.

Further, more than 550,000 additional children each month are being struck by what is called wasting, according to the U.N. — malnutrition that manifests in spindly limbs and distended bellies. Over a year, that’s up 6.7 million from last year’s total of 47 million. Wasting and stunting can permanently damage children physically and mentally, transforming individual tragedies into a generational catastrophe.

[…]

The rise in child deaths worldwide would reverse global progress for the first time in decades. Deaths of children younger than 5 had declined steadily since 1980, to 5.3 million around the world in 2018, according to a UNICEF report. About 45 percent of the deaths were due to undernutrition.

[…]

“By having schools closed, by having primary health care services disrupted, by having nutritional programs dysfunctional, we are also creating harm,” Aguayo said. He cited as an example the near-global suspension of Vitamin A supplements, which are a crucial way to bolster developing immune systems.

[…]

Some of the worst hunger still occurs in sub-Saharan Africa. In Sudan, 9.6 million people are living from one meal to the next in acute food insecurity — a 65% increase from the same time last year.

Lockdowns across Sudanese provinces, as around the world, have dried up work and incomes for millions. The global economic downturn has brought supply chains to a standstill, and restrictions on public transport have disrupted agricultural production. With inflation hitting 136%, prices for basic goods have more than tripled.

“It has never been easy but now we are starving, eating grass, weeds, just plants from the earth,” said Ibrahim Youssef, director of the Kalma camp for internally displaced people in war-ravaged south Darfur.

Armed Protester Shot After Confronting Driver

This is going to happen more and more if the protesters and rioters continue their tactics. People are getting fed up.

The moment leading up to the fatal shooting of an armed Black Lives Matter protester in Texas over the weekend has been revealed in a newly surfaced photograph, hours after the suspect was released from custody having told investigators he shot the demonstrator in self-defense.

Garrett Foster, 28, was shot dead in Austin on Saturday evening after he confronted the driver of a car who had driven his vehicle toward a hundred-strong crowd of protesters marching in the city center.

Foster, who was carrying an AK-47, was shot three times by the driver who then fled the scene. The motorist later told police he fired his handgun at Foster after the activist pointed his assault rifle at his car.

A photograph circulating on social media on Monday shows Foster standing at the driver’s window moments before the fatal shots rang out. The barrel of his AK-47 appears to be pointing towards the floor, however he is leaning towards the car with right arm raised and his hand seemingly placed around the weapon’s grip.

Police, who declined to identify the driver, released the man as they continue their investigation.

‘We are heartbroken over the loss of Mr. Foster last night,’ Austin Police Chief Brain Manley told reporters Sunday. ‘It is actively being investigated and ongoing in conjunction with the Travis County district attorney’s office.’

Officers also brought in a second gunman who shot at the car as it sped off. Both of the suspects’ have a license to carry and both of their guns were seized for evidence, Manly said.

Withdrawal From Paris Climate Change Accord is Racist

Because it’s 2020 and this is where we are. You must sign onto the global leftist orthodoxy or you’re racist.

It’s official – in 100 days the United States will formally withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. The impact of Donald Trump’s decision, taken three years ago, is already being felt by environmental justice communities.

Racism is the driving force behind why certain people and places face disproportionate environmental exposure to toxic substances, adverse climate change effects, Covid-19 infections and deaths. This raises the question: was withdrawing from the Paris agreement also a racist decision? How will this morally incomprehensible policy change affect Black, Latinx, Indigenous and other communities of color?

[…]

So, ask yourself: if the first group of people in the US to truly benefit from efforts to decrease global warming emissions by participating in the Paris agreement are people of color, what else can we call this but environmental racism and willful neglect?

Madison Activists Protest at DA’s Home

Radical leftists eat their own.

Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne is highlighting his identity as a Black man and his family’s roots in the Civil Rights Movement after protesters came to his house for the second time in a month Saturday, this time demanding that charges be dropped against two Black men and calling Ozanne a racist.

Ozanne said Sunday that scores of protesters with speakers, generators and a bullhorn showed up around 7:30 p.m. Saturday and stayed for about six hours blasting music, shouting profanity, chanting slogans, and calling him and even his family a racist — all in the name of pressuring Ozanne to drop charges against Kelsey Nelson and Gregg James.

Nelson, 30, is charged in the looting of Goodman’s Jewelers during the first night of protests in Madison on May 30 over the death George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody five days earlier. James, 23, is one of three men accused of making threats at a State Street bar in June.

[…]

A flier distributed at the “Black Out Block Party” Saturday does not name the group sponsoring it, but was instead aimed at letting Ozanne’s neighbors know he’s the DA and urging them to call his office to demand that charges against Nelson and James be dropped. It’s similar to a call to action put out on July 3 by Sawyer Johnson, a leader in the Madison chapter of the Party for Socialism and Liberation, that identifies Nelson, James and two others recently arrested as “Black revolutionary activists.”

[…]

Johnson responded to requests for comment via Facebook on Sunday night with derogatory memes.

Get this…

With activists questioning the cash bail system or claiming people are being held in jail simply because they can’t make small bond amounts, Ozanne said, “we release about 82% of people on signature bonds.”

82%!

NFL On the Brink

Victor Davis Hanson is on point, as usual.

Given that about 13% of the U.S. population is black, and given that the Black Lives Matter movement embraces concepts like proportional representation, today’s NFL teams hardly qualify as diverse. Social activists might argue that the league should mentor and recruit more Latinos, Asian Americans and Native Americans to better reflect their percentages of our diverse national population.

Perhaps an NFL compromise could ensure that 30% of coaches and owners are nonwhite, thus reflecting current U.S. demography. But then, in reciprocity, the players would match such mandatory demographic diversity — leading to Native Americans, Latinos, Asians, whites and those of mixed ancestry accounting for 87% of the player population. The NBA might also take note.

This progressive model of proportional representation could also apply to over-represented white athletes in hockey, tennis, golf and swimming — sports faulted by identity politics groups as being unfairly over-represented by whites.

Obviously, such racial gerrymandering will not happen because fans value meritocracy over ethnic affiliations.

Or at least they did.

If the multibillion-dollar NFL decides that multimillionaire players have no obligation to stand to honor a collective national anthem, and that there will be separate anthems and politicized uniforms, then millions of Americans will quietly shrug and change the channel.

I wrote about the NFL decline months ago. I’ve been a loyal NFL fan for my entire life. I used to be the guy that, if I could, would sit and watch 3 consecutive games on Sunday and looked forward to Monday Night Football. Within the last few years, I found myself less and less interested. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I found myself tuning in for the Cowboys or Packers when they were on, but looking for other things to do during the other games. There are a couple of drivers.

First, the game itself has changed and slowed down. The inconsistent application of rules, incessant replays, and rules that overly favor the offense eroded the game. I used to know what a catch, or a touchdown, or a pass interference looked like. Now I have no idea. Even in slow motion with the benefit of replay, guessing the outcome of the call has become as uncertain as guessing the outcome of a decision of the Supreme Court.

Second, the activism and antics have become intrusive. I don’t watch sports to get yet another lecture on how I can be a better person or the evils of racism or police brutality or the history of racism in America. I watch sports for entertainment and as a release from the real world. It is fun to get all worked up and excited about something that, in the grand scheme of things, has no meaning in regular life. It’s entertainment and escapism. If I tune in to watch my Cowboys and am just bombarded with propaganda from every approved leftist cause on the planet, no thanks. I’d rather go for a bike ride, read a book, or get working on my “to do” list.

We’ll see how this season goes, if it goes at all. I’ll probably continue to tune in to start. But if it is just four hours of being told how awful America is and how bad a person I am, no thanks. I can get that on Twitter.

Surge in Crime

Sure… criminals run rampant as liberal city leaders demand that their police stand down. I’m sure those two things aren’t related.

Shootings and homicides, which dipped during the initial lockdown phase of the pandemic, are now rising at alarmingly high rates.
In New York, the homicide rate for the first half of the year is up 23% over 2019, led by a huge spike in recent violence. In Chicago, homicides jumped 39% during the last week of June and the first week of July compared to the same period last year. And Los Angeles has seen double-digit rises in homicides the past two months.

People Call for Shawano School Board to Resign After Joke

SMH.

The Shawano School Board is calling on a board member to resign after he posted what he said was “a joke” about the death of George Floyd.

Shawano School Board member Mart Grams wrote on Facebook on Saturday: “You know George Floyd is drug free for 2 months.”

[…]

Grams emailed Green Bay TV station WBAY a statement on Sunday, calling his Facebook post “A joke, period. Anyone can say it was insensitive, or poor taste, but, once the racist cards come out, the raw hatred, we have a very poorly trained generation who cannot deal with the slightest contradiction to what the (sic) are told.”

Crass? Yep. Racist? Nope. Who among you can claim that you have never told or laughed at a crass joke? Are we not allowed crude humor any more? The Outrage Mob has no sense of humor and they don’t want you to have one either.

They Seem Nice

I think of all the images I captured today, this is my favorite. I have no idea what his sign means and she has blinded herself.

BLM Protest in Port Washington

I found myself in Port Washington this evening to check out the scheduled BLM protest. Overall, it was a great display of Americans expressing themselves. It was peaceful and had some funny, some annoying, some touching, and some eye-rolling moments. There are a few pictures below, but here’s how it went down…

The BLM protest was scheduled from 6 PM to 9 PM. I was riding on my bike on the Interurban Trail and swung through downtown Port a little after 5 PM. There were several biker-looking guys getting American flags and a big banner out of their van. I asked about it and they said it was an All Lives Matter sign. They were planning to post somewhere along the route.

The plan for the BLM protest was to assemble at the Port Washington Veteran’s Memorial Park Bandshell at 6, then they would march through downtown for a while before returning to the Bandshell to wrap it up. When they started making speeches at about 6:20 (punctuality is clearly not a virtue to which they aspire), there were about 40 of them there. There were about 60 counter-protesters – some of whom were carrying firearms – assembled around. Some of the counter-protesters were standing close to the BLM folks and some were just standing back or sitting at picnic tables nearby. Additionally, there were several cars and motorcycles that kept driving by with American and/or Back the Blue flags flying.

Several of the BLM speakers then got up on stage and had their say. It was the normal stuff you would expect. Occasionally, some of the counter-protesters would shout out responses and the folks on stage jawed with them a bit. At one point, the counter-protesters broke out into the National Anthem. The BLM folks tried to shout them down by yelling “black lives matter” but gave up half way through.

After about 20 or 30 minutes of this, the BLM protesters set out on their march. They circled around the downtown a bit. Port Washington’s downtown is not very big. I sat and had an ice cream (caramel explosion in a waffle cone) and watched them go by a few times. Eventually they went back to the Bandshell. I walked over there and they were all kneeling, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying. There seemed to be a few more of them, but most of the counter-protesters were making their way to the local eating and drinking establishments. I went on my way home.

A couple of things stood out to me. First, most of the BLM organizers were young, white, and female. They seemed to be more professional agitators than local aggrieved people. Maybe not, but that was my impression. There was one politician in there who referred to her constituents, but I couldn’t tell who it was. Second, I was really impressed by the Port Washington police. They were polite and professional to everyone. They didn’t interfere with anyone having their say but were visible. They were chatting with people on all sides. Really good work.

It was refreshing to see Americans having a public discussion.

 

Blue Flight

What a shame.

In the past week, the number of officers filing for retirement has more than quadrupled on this time last year, with the exodus reportedly causing such a backlog of applications that the department is struggling to meet the demand.

Many of the officers hanging up their badges have cited a ‘lack of respect’ from the public amid national protests against police brutality following the death of George Floyd, and a loss of overtime pay following Mayor Bill de Blasio’s $1 billion cut to the department as the reason, the NY Post reported.

The NYPD said Wednesday that 179 cops filed for unemployment between June 29 and July 6 – a staggering 411 percent increase on the 35 who retired during the same time period last year.

The apparent evacuation comes as an astonishing 503 cops have reportedly filed for retirement between May 25 – the day of Floyd’s police killing – and July 3, according to the department.

That figure represents a 75-percent increase on the 287 cops who retired from the force during the same time period in 2019.

According to the Post, a line of officers were spotted lined up outside of One Police Plaza on Tuesday, where retirement paper are filed and processed.

‘Apparently, the pension section is only taking a certain amount of people per day and I think they are backed up till late July, early August,’ one officer told the outlet. ‘That’s why you don’t see like 100 a day, because they are only doing like 35 to 40 a day, by appointment.’

Columbus Removes Columbus

I look forward to driving by Woke, Wisconsin, in the future.

MADISON – Leaders of a small Wisconsin city named after Christopher Columbus voted this week to remove a monument to its namesake, joining legions of government officials grappling with how to recognize American history while acknowledging its flaws.

The statue of Christopher Columbus has stood in a major thoroughfare at the intersection of two highways in Columbus — about 27 miles northeast of Madison — for three decades.

That’s changing after the Columbus Common Council voted 4-1 on Tuesday to remove the statue from its prominent location and put it in storage until officials can find a new home for it.

The removal comes after a Columbus High School student, Abbi Adams, started a petition following the death of George Floyd, a Black man who was killed by a white police officer who knelt on Floyd’s neck for nearly nine minutes while arresting him.

Court Rules in Favor of Religious Freedom

Excellent.

(CNN)The Supreme Court on Wednesday threw out two job bias lawsuits brought by teachers against their religious employers, reaffirming that religious institutions and schools have a First Amendment right to select their employees.

It’s the latest case to come before the court exploring the relationship between church and state, and in their 7-2 ruling, the justices clarified the class of employees who are barred from suing their religious employers under anti-discrimination law.
[…]
“Today’s important decision does not mean, as some suggest, that religious institutions are above the law or that they have a license to discriminate,” said Richard Garnett of Notre Dame Law School, who filed a brief in support of the schools.
“It means, instead, that a crucial dimension of our Constitution’s religious-freedom guarantee is that civil powers are limited to civil matters and that state lacks authority to second-guess religious decisions and doctrines,” he added.

Celebrating Juneteenth

Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News yesterday.

Proving that nuance and rational discussion is currently disallowed when it comes to debating anything related to race, Senator Ron Johnson stepped into the a hornet’s nest when he offered an amendment to a bill to designate Juneteenth as a federal holiday.

There is currently a bipartisan push to make June 19th, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. June 19th, 1865, is the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to occupy the state and announce that all enslaved people were free. It is regarded as the date when the news of emancipation reached the last of the remaining slaves in the United States. While it is not the date of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), or the date of ratification of the 13th Amendment (December 6th, 1865), Juneteenth has become the anniversary that we celebrate the end of the evil practice of legal slavery in the United States.

The first question to ask is should we celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday? Absolutely. Slavery was the original sin of our nation and we atoned for it with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans in a brutal Civil War. Ending slavery was a seminal moment in our nation’s history that brought us closer to the ideals of liberty and equality as beautifully enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence. It is long overdue that we have a formal celebration of the abolition of slavery.

To this end, a bipartisan assemblage of senators drafted a bill to make Juneteenth a federal holiday. First, we must be clear on what that means. The federal government cannot mandate that Americans celebrate anything. A designated federal holiday simply means that the federal government is giving all non-essential federal employees the day off of work to commemorate the event. Usually, but not always, states and private businesses follow the federal government’s lead. For example, almost everyone gets a days off for Independence Day and Memorial Day, but the same cannot be said for Washington’s Birthday or Columbus Day. The designation of a federal holiday, or lack thereof, has absolutely no bearing on whether or not people choose to celebrate or commemorate an event.

There is, however, a cost associated with the federal government granting a holiday to its employees. That cost is estimated to be about $600 million that the taxpayers have to bear for paying federal employees to not work. In order to save the taxpayers that expense, Senator Johnson offered an amendment to trade Columbus Day for Juneteenth Day. Columbus Day is largely celebrated in the Italian-American community, but overlooked by most other Americans.

Johnson’s amendment set off a firestorm of criticism from the political Right accusing him of surrendering to the radical Left. And the political Left lambasted Johnson and accused him of racism for putting up a roadblock to the Juneteenth bill. Both sides were wrong. Senator Johnson is staying true to form as a fiscal hawk. Those birds are more and more rare in an age of sweeping deficits, trillion dollar spending packages, and mounting federal debt.

In the face of a withering crossfire, Johnson has since withdrawn his amendment and is, instead, planning to introduce a bill to reduce paid leave time for federal employees to offset the cost of adding an eleventh official federal holiday to the calendar. This proposal will likely run into the buzz saw of opposition from the federal employee unions and will never be passed by Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s House.

In the end, we will add Juneteenth as a federal holiday. It will be a welcome and long overdue celebration of the abolition of slavery in the United States. Unfortunately, the taxpayers will be stuck with yet another bill for which we will borrow money to pay.

Celebrating Juneteenth

My column for the Washington County Daily News is online and in print. Here’s a part:

There is currently a bipartisan push to make June 19th, or Juneteenth, a federal holiday. June 19th, 1865, is the day that federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas, to occupy the state and announce that all enslaved people were free. It is regarded as the date when the news of emancipation reached the last of the remaining slaves in the United States. While it is not the date of the Emancipation Proclamation (January 1, 1863), or the date of ratification of the 13th Amendment (December 6th, 1865), Juneteenth has become the anniversary that we celebrate the end of the evil practice of legal slavery in the United States.

The first question to ask is should we celebrate Juneteenth as a federal holiday? Absolutely. Slavery was the original sin of our nation and we atoned for it with the blood of hundreds of thousands of Americans in a brutal Civil War. Ending slavery was a seminal moment in our nation’s history that brought us closer to the ideals of liberty and equality as beautifully enunciated by Thomas Jefferson in our Declaration of Independence. It is long overdue that we have a formal celebration of the abolition of slavery.