Explaining the School Shooting

Explaining the School Shooting
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

Opinions about why the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School occurred have come in a flood. Even more suggestions and demands have been offered about what needs to be done to keep such a tragedy from ever happening again. Practically all have missed a telling point that appeared in an obscure political cartoon.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. Image from Wikimedia Commons by Formulanone, public domain.

The poignant message arrived in what really wasn’t a cartoon. To merit that designation, there would likely be a caricature of the targeted subject, maybe even a photo of the person featured with a wry or compromising smile followed by appropriate commentary. No, what I’m referring to is a very few words published in an obviously solemn type style. Its words follow:

Dear God: Why do you allow so much violence in our schools?  – Concerned Student

Dear Concerned Student: I’m not allowed in your schools.  – God

Whether a daily mention of God in school would have kept Nikolas Cruz from killing 17 people can’t be known. But there are numerous other cultural changes over the past 50 years that should be factored into whether there will be more tragedies like the one just headlined in Florida. These, too, should not be ignored.

I think of broken families, the widespread abandonment of instruction about moral absolutes, violence featured in movies and video games, drugs administered to the young that lead to distorting their reality, and intense focus on the mass shooters that can easily result in copycat crimes. With the general breakdown of moral principles, I sometimes wonder why there aren’t even more splurges of violence.

Of course, there are many who blame the gun used in such a crime. But no gun ever jumped up from a table or escaped from a gun rack to perform by itself. Someone put it to use. The late Bob Lee, my deceased good friend, once wrote, “Blaming guns for crimes is as senseless as blaming pencils for misspelled words.” He was correct.

I’m a great admirer of the Constitution of the United States. Among its Bill of Rights (the first ten amendments that are considered by many as a portion of the original Constitution itself) there is the very sensible and needed Second Amendment. In part, it states, “…the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” Proper authorities and due process should take that right from someone who has abused it. Take it from someone who is mentally sick – yes. Keep it from young people who don’t know how to use it – yes again. But taking guns from law-abiding, sensible people isn’t the answer. Criminals will always find ways to obtain a gun in our free country. And, as the erosion of moral standards continues, there will be more, not fewer, mass shootings.

John Adams served as our nation’s second president. The Bill of Rights had already been added to the Constitution when he held the office. He had no difficulty accepting the full Constitution as the supreme law of our land. But he knew it wasn’t enough, that even it didn’t guarantee the freedom and tranquility decent people desire. He believed, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” Because so many Americans are not “moral and religious people,” shootings such the recent tragic event in Florida occur.

No matter how admirable it may be, a Constitution won’t prevent a repeat of the horror just witnessed. It won’t erect a barrier between ordinary citizens and those who are sick, criminally bent, or depraved. John Adams was correct. A return to exposing young people to the need for religion and morality would surely diminish – maybe even terminate – the type of horror just visited on the children and teachers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Understanding Donald Trump

Understanding Donald Trump
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

For about ten months in the early days of the Trump-for-President campaign, Sam Nunberg was one of the real estate Mogul’s campaign advisers. Before the November 2016 election however, the candidate and Nunberg had a falling out, not over anything in the political realm but over Trump’s charge that his adviser had violated a confidentiality pledge.

Image from Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

Nunberg hasn’t completely disavowed the positive attitude he had about the man who became president. But he does render an opinion about Mr. Trump when asked for one. After the recent flurry of negotiations over the new spending budget, a writer for the New York Times sought him out for perspective about his former boss’s modus operandi. Here’s what Nunberg offered:

The misconception is that the president does not know what he does not know. In my experience, the reality is that the president knows what he does not know and does not think he needs to know it. He’s a C.E.O. The tiny details are for his staff.

That says a lot about the man who now occupies the White House’s Oval Office. He’s not interested in the details. For him, the goal is to make a deal, not to fret over the minutiae. Unfortunately, one of the details within the latest budget deal is its increase in the already enormous national debt.

The deal produced some outspoken dissenters among GOP House members who form the hardline Freedom Caucus. Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said, “The swamp won and the American taxpayer lost.” He added, “This is the second largest spending increase in a decade. It is not what we said we would do and we’re going to have to fight harder to get things back on track.”

Fellow Caucus member Mark Meadows (R-S.C.) criticized his GOP leaders while terming their complicity an example “caving in.” He repeated what his Ohio colleague had stated about the GOP leadership caving, the swamp winning, and the American taxpayer losing. Freedom Caucus members were always willing to steer funds to the military. But adding to the already record-setting $20.5 trillion national debt is something they surely did not want.

Making America great again has long been Donald Trump’s slogan. A respected high-level Trump employee now in retirement did his very best to suggest the way to accomplish the goal contained in the “great again” slogan. At Trump headquarters in New York City, he passed along a suggested follow-up to explain in simple terms how America could indeed be made great again. His suggestion, short and easily understood by anyone, stated, “America became great not because of what government did, but because of what government was prevented from doing by the Constitution.”

You never heard Donald Trump say that either because it never got to him or because he didn’t want to tie himself to its wisdom. Maybe he doesn’t agree with its good sense. Maybe it’s because he never thought he needed what it said to win the election. Maybe he doesn’t know much about the Constitution that he and every member of Congress swears to uphold. Or maybe it’s one of those pesky “details” left for staff members to fret over. The many underlings know that they dare not cross the line by suggesting that the current president of the United States has adopted spending habits worthy of his political opponents.

Whatever the case, the weight of huge indebtedness has grown larger for the American people, including the nations young people who have had no opportunity to disapprove its enormity or the many unconstitutional programs responsible for its growing burden. The debt is not one of those “tiny details” mentioned by Sam Nunberg. It’s a problem that could America its very existence as an independent nation.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


Threat of ISIS Still Real

Threat of ISIS Still Real
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

During his 2018 State of the Union speech, President Trump delighted in reporting that Islamic State forces had been defeated in virtually all of the territory they had seized over recent years. But even he admitted, “There is much more work to be done.”

American artillery soldiers respond to a fire mission in Iraq. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. F. Cordoba, public domain.

It is certainly true that ISIS forces no longer dominate portions of Iraq and Syria. But what became of the thousands of fighters who waged bloody warfare remains a concern of realists who comment about developments regarding ISIS. One assessment of what happens next was provided by Otso Iho, a senior analyst at London-based Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Center. As noted by the New York Times, this expert reported: “The group is transitioning into an underground organization that places more weight on asymmetric tactics like suicide bombings against soft targets in government-secured areas like Baghdad.”

Iho pointed to a recent suicide attack in Baghdad that killed several dozen and wounded close to 100. The incident occurred at a busy location in the Iraqi capital where laborers gather daily in hopes of being hired by someone.

How many of the thousands of ISIS warriors have discarded their uniforms and are melting into the populations of Iraq, Syria, and elsewhere isn’t known. But anyone who has studied ISIS and its efforts over the past four years knows that the number of dedicated Islamic warriors reaches into the tens of thousands. Some of these who have fled the formerly held caliphate and can be found in Libya, Yemen, Turkey, even the Philippines. Of these, many have joined never-defeated branches of Al Qaeda in those nations.

The number of Americans who traveled to ISIS-held territory in order to become an Islamist warrior number less than one thousand. But, according to Gilles de Kerchove, the European Union’s senior counter terrorism official, more than  5,000 Europeans left their homes and became ISIS fighters. Some perished and a few are still fighting. But 1,500 have returned to their European countries and each can be legitimately by labeled a potential terrorist. America’s vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs General Paul Selva summarized the situation in grim detail:

The thought that these foreign fighters who have participated in this fight now for over two years will quietly leave Syria and return to their jobs as shopkeepers in Paris, in Brussels, in Copenhagen, and elsewhere is ludicrous. That’s a very compelling problem.

The motivation keeping these men tied to ISIS and its determination to establish a dominant Islamic caliphate surely includes the promise of heavenly bliss for those who perish for Allah. It additionally promises the same glorious afterlife for suicide bombers. In other words, the problem presented when ISIS emerged several years ago hasn’t been solved by routing its military arm.

The West, certainly including the United States, has to expect more terror-inspired attacks.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.


National Debt Missing from Trump’s SOTU

National Debt Missing from Trump’s SOTU
by JBS President Emeritus John F. McManus

I dutifully watched Donald Trump deliver his State of the Union speech on January 30. The president did a fine job expressing his thoughts about what his leadership had accomplished during his first year, and what he would like to accomplish in the immediate future.

Photo Credit: Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead.

I liked all the introductions of heroes large and small. The female helicopter pilot who rescued many, the Forest Service officer whose bravery saved lives, and Congressman Steve Scalise (R-La.) whose successful recovery from being shot at a baseball field last year was very good news. There were more of these special introductions of remarkable individuals, and each was a good break in what can be termed a tedious bit of oratorical excess.

During another departure from governmental matters, Mr. Trump dwelled briefly on the conduct of good Americans when saluting the flag, and when they “stand for the National Anthem.” Without doubt, he used the opportunity to condemn – without naming any – professional football players who have made a habit of kneeling rather than standing during the playing of the “Star Spangled Banner.” What he said was welcomed by supporters but it didn’t address the nation’s biggest problem.

What is that “biggest problem?” I found the speech terribly disappointing in that the President chose to ignore the enormous national debt, now at $20.6 trillion. He avoided the topic while announcing his intention to spend additional billions for infrastructure, the military, the fight against opioids, continued foreign aid, and more. He delighted in noting that his prodding led Congress to approve a new tax measure that would have the government’s receipts shrink by $1.5 trillion. Where the government’s funds will come from to make up this shortfall, and previously accumulated indebtedness, wasn’t mentioned.

Six years ago, Admiral Mike Mullen who had been Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff summarized this very real problem as it existed six years ago. He stated: “A nation with our current levels of unsustainable debt cannot hope to sustain for very long its superiority from a military perspective, or its influence in world affairs.” Correct! But that was six years ago and the problem has only worsened.

It would be easy to produce a list of scary figures about the debt currently endangering our nation’s very existence. I’ll present only one: U.S. debt held by foreign countries totals $6.4 trillion, one trillion of which is held by Comunist China. Does the United States still possess any clout to deal with China’s clear intention to expand its influence worldwide? Our leaders can pontificate all they want about military might, but reckless spending has produced a situation where China holds more cards in the potentially deadly game of international politics.

The Democrats chose Congressman Joe Kennedy (D-Mass.) to offer a rebuttal to President Trump’s speech. In effect, Kennedy told his audience, including large numbers of television viewers, that he would spend even more federal dollars. And he, too, never mentioned the threat posed by indebtedness. As for working together with members of the “other party,” he mentioned a sign held up by one of the marchers cheering the Democratic agenda. It said, “Build a wall and my generation will tear it down.” So much for working together with Republicans. Mark Krikorian of the Center for Immigration Studies remarked, about the Trump speech, “The Democrats are going to be even less disposed to do anything the President suggests, even if it’s in their interest.”

The share of the enormous debt per American is $63,000; per each American family $170,000. Our nation’s partners in crime, the Federal Reserve and the federal government, allow more dollars to be created out of thin air. Those freshly made dollars derive their worth by stealing the value of all existing dollars. That why prices go up for food, rent, fuel, and everything else. Not only is debt robbing our nation’s ability to act in its own interests; it is subjecting all Americans to domination by our central government.

Ignoring the consequences of national indebtedness isn’t good leadership. Refusing to tell the American people they are being victimized by it is unconscionable.

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McManus_2Mr. McManus served in the U.S. Marine Corps in the late 1950s and joined the staff of The John Birch Society in August 1966. He has served various roles for the organization including Field Coordinator, Director of Public Affairs, and President. Mr. McManus has appeared on hundreds of radio and television programs and is also author of a number of educational DVDs and books. Now President Emeritus, he continues his involvement with the Society through public speaking and writing for this blog, the JBS Bulletin, and The New American.