Monday, December 4, 2017
Tax Reform Lays an Egg
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
December 4, 2017
In an episode of Friends, which if you didn’t see first run decades ago, you can still see in its myriad reruns, the character of Joey, an actor, describes to his friends something called “smell the fart acting.” This is where the actor has a challenging line to recite and he gives a look of, well, smelling a fart, in order to buy the time necessary to recall the complicated line.
This, sadly, is how I have come to view the current tax reform debate, which, having passed the House and the Senate, two versions of the legislation have been sent to the Conference Committee to iron out the differences. Not only are the individual house’s bills complicated, and each longer than 400 pages (short in Congressional parlance), but both baffling and, I think, not serving the average American citizen as much as they could. Numerous business reporters admitted their own confusion with the bills. Were I in either house, I would be casting a nay vote for various reasons.
While I support strongly the call to reduce corporate taxes form the current 35 percent to the 20 percent agreed upon by both houses, and clearly it would encourage many companies to repatriate back to the United States - to the tune of $4 trillion according to President Donald Trump, thus giving rise to revenue, the cuts for the non-corporate entities, you know - people - do not go deep enough. In fact, there is discussion that President Trump, who has been the biggest cheerleader for the 20 percent corporate tax rate, might be willing to compromise to 22 percent if more permanent cuts were made for the people. I would also like to know, how, according to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), maintaining a corporate rate of 20 percent will bring $4,000 into each household. And even on the 20 percent there is a disagreement as to when to implement it. The House version says 2018, which I support, while the Senate version says 2019, which makes no sense to delay the cuts.
The key word there is “permanent.” The House bill calls for permanent cuts to both corporate and individual tax rates, which I support. The Senate bill has those individual cuts expire in 2025, which I do not support. Pay attention, folks, this is not a good thing. Ultimately, with an elimination of certain key deductions, and then the expiration of the individual tax cuts, citizens’ taxes would rise exponentially with little protection currently enjoyed with the deductibility of mortgage interest, school loan interest, medical expenses, charitable contributions, as well as the state and local taxes (SALT) that have pitted the two coasts against the middle of the country.
Keep in mind, the loss of the aforementioned deductions is supposed to be offset by the nearly doubling of the personal exemptions and thus eliminating the need to itemize when filing taxes. Naturally, I applaud the doubling of the personal exemptions, but decry the loss of those deductions that drive people to contribute to some charitable organizations over others, not to mention the loss of SALT that smacks of double taxation. If practically doubling the standard deduction to $12,000 for single people and $24,000 for married couples is designed to offset the loss of certain deductions, say so, so people understand that. Supposedly the average family of four with an income of just under $60,000 annually, will “enjoy” a tax windfall of $1,182 or $22.73 per week.
It is shocking to me, as a conservative, and certainly a fiscal conservative, that the Republican Party, the party that espouses fiscal conservatism from high atop the mountain, is glad handing, back slapping and congratulating each other for bills that will raise the deficit an additional $1.4 trillion while cutting the legs out from under middle-class taxpayers. Make no mistake, the Obama administration was far more egregious in raising deficits more than $10 trillion in eight years, but two trillion wrongs do not a right make.
This is a bad tax reform bill by both houses. For while I support the House version pertaining to corporate rates and start time as well as permanent cuts for individuals, I do not support the House bill keeping the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) mandate alive. It is the Senate bill repealing that mandate, which I fully support. No longer should people be taxed for not purchasing a product they did not want to begin with. By removing the mandate, the people can make that decision for themselves - whether or not to procure health insurance.
I support the Senate bill again in raising the Child Tax Credit up to $2,000 per child, while the House only calls for raising it to $1,600. I also support the Senate version on the highest tax bracket being 38.5 percent versus the House version at 39.6 percent. This is negligible - split the difference, make it 39 percent and call it a day. Although, quite frankly, why it should be any higher than 25 percent for individuals in the first place is beyond me. Oh, right, the pork barrel spending and riders glomming onto what should be straightforward bills in the first place.
As an aside, these riders should all be eliminated. If a bill can’t pass muster on its own, then perhaps it is not very good legislation in the first place and should not become law. Bills with giant price tags and murky, bloviating language only confuse the citizenry, which many members of Congress actually prefer. Members like this because they can then explain the language to their constituents telling them why it is good for their district and secure their own reelection. I’m starting to think term limits are not a bad idea, but that’s a different column for another day.
And let’s not forget that the tax bracket figures are merely the federal rates. There’s still the issue of SALT. The Senate bill, which I have supported heretofore, loses me on SALT because it wants to eliminate the deductibility of state and local taxes as well as mortgage interest. This will definitely impact those people living in high tax states - the coasts, as well as Illinois - causing their taxes to rise unnecessarily. Of course those voters could take matters into their own hands and start voting for supposedly more fiscally conservative candidates. I know, never going to happen. The House version isn’t much better, preserving for property taxes up to $10,000.
Back to supporting the Senate bill for its preservation of the medical expense deduction and the student loan interest deduction, as the House bill eliminates both. The loss of these deductions will impact those on the lower end of the economic spectrum. Then it gets worse for graduate students who are slated to have their tuition waivers taxed, according to the House bill. This is money graduate students never see. For example it cuts the tuition bill in some cases for an out of state student to an in-state rate for work the student performs as a teaching assistant or a research assistant, it also lowers the tuition in-state students pay and private school students pay for those same jobs.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), an architect of the House plan, said the provision would put graduate students on the same playing field as part-time college students.” (12/01/17)
That is an absurdly punitive “provision” in the House tax plan. The use of the word provision, initially employed by Brady, would intimate that taxpayers were going to be provided with something, when in fact this is a deleterious proviso that will hurt graduate students. When I was a graduate student, I remember what it was like living on less than $1,000 a month in the late 1980s.
And while graduate students may feel the heavy boot of the tax man, teachers are also facing their own pain. Another proposal would no longer allow teachers to write off the supplies they purchase out of pocket. This would be a terrible blow for teachers, most of whom are already underpaid. I know, as a teacher in both public and charter schools, I spent a small fortune on both classroom supplies as well as things students needed.
There are so many other aspects of both bills that the average American will never know about unless they dig into the weeds - even I have not read the nearly 1,000 pages of proposed legislation. Nine economists and/or economics professors who served one GOP administration or another had a letter sent to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin printed in The Wall Street Journal. Their letter was riddled with ambiguities, guesswork, and assumptions from so-called experts.
And while members of both houses claim they want fairer and flatter tax structure there is still plenty of pork to go around and favors for special interests. There are special deductions for microbreweries, orange growers, even private jet companies, as well as $10 million for a South Korean tuna canning company located in American Samoa.
For those keeping score at home, that’s three points for the House bill, five points for the Senate bill, and zero points for the tax paying people of the United States. While no bill is perfect, these aren’t even close. With a self-imposed Christmas deadline looming, the conference committee must hammer out a compromise, which quite frankly should take all the points I support from both bills, keep the deductions, double the personal standard deduction, drop the corporate tax rate to 22 percent and every tax paying American wins.
Failing that, once the calendar reads 2018, all significant work ceases. Fear sets in. Next year, 2018, is an election year for the whole House and one-third of the Senate. How will voters perceive this vote or that vote by their representative or senator? Any member unwilling to do their job for fear of losing it, should not have it in the first place. Do your jobs. Serve the American people. Return to us our money with the deepest possible tax cuts. And when the Democrats ask, as is their mantra, how will these tax cuts be paid for? Simple - cut spending. Cut out the pork, eliminate bills with riders that couldn’t stand on their own, strip illegals of every penny they are stealing from the United States people via government largesse, and actually follow the Constitution.
By the way, what will you do with an extra $22.73 per week?
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.
Wednesday, November 1, 2017
The Land of Dead Immigrants
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
November 1, 2017
Yet another foreign-born import to the United States struck hard at his supposed country of choice on Tuesday, October 31, in New York City, just blocks from the site of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.
And while two people were shot, the weapon of choice from this Uzbekistani-born terrorist was a truck rented from Home Depot on October 22. This truck sat at his home in Paterson, NJ and was used for a test run before the actual murderous act was carried out, specifically on Hallowe’en in an effort to maximize the carnage. Sadly, eight people were slaughtered, with another dozen injured, in the worst terror attack on New York City since that fateful clear, crisp, Tuesday morning, September 11.
But it could have been far worse as this Muslim extremist, who shouted Allahu akbar during his craven, wanton disregard for human life. His plan had been to continue his reign of terror to and on the Brooklyn Bridge, to bring the city to its knees. His name need not be mentioned - he will not be martyred here; and fortunately, he is still alive to answer for his crimes against humanity. He has been charged with terrorism, committing violence with a motor vehicle, and for providing material support to ISIS - the terrorist organization to which he said he took his proverbial marching orders, pledges his allegiance, thus debunking any nonsensical "lone wolf" theories, and requested a flag of to be hung in his hospital room following his surgery. He expressed no remorse, took pride in his acts of terror, adding he wished he could have created greater destruction of life.
A product of the Diversity Visa Lottery, sadly signed into law in 1990, this murderer is a legal permanent resident of the United States, with all the rights afforded an American citizen, save for voting and running for public office, including Miranda rights, according to Judge Andrew Napolitano of the Fox News Channel.
This Diversity Visa Lottery selects roughly 50,000 people from countries of slight representation in the United States for permanent resident status prior to their being vetted. This is an absolutely insane concept. There is a reason the countries of origin of these people are represented with such small numbers in the United States - they are, for the most part, hostile to the United States, have such weak controls over their own people that to vet them properly, would be a virtual impossibility. Ostensibly, this is an open door for radical Islamic extremists.
Upon hearing this miscreant, this vermin, was a product of this ridiculous, anti-American Diversity Visa Lottery, President Donald Trump called for its immediate dissolution - post-haste, calling it “a Chuck Schumer beauty.”
Schumer (D-NY) immediately took to the Senate floor to berate Trump, not the terrorist, nor the faulty legislation he supported. Schumer whined that Trump was politicizing this tragedy. In the dictionary, under hypocrite, there is a picture of Senator Schumer, who a mere five hours following the tragic horrors that befell Las Vegas on October 1, was standing in the well of the Senate Chamber calling for greater gun control and more restrictions against honest gun owners.
President Trump did not politicize this issue, first because it had been signed into law by President George H. W. Bush - a fellow Republican; nor is it political to demand more stringent vetting of those seeking to enter this country for any reason, from any country. Any member of Congress not seeking the most strict possible vetting of potential immigrants is clearly not looking out for the best interest of the United States or its citizens.
It is painful to listen to liberal politicians supporting the legalization of the more than 12 million illegals in the United States, and ultimately a path to citizenship. It is just as painful to hear those same elected so-called leaders talk about how this country is a nation of immigrants and we should be more welcoming of all who seek refuge here. It is painful because these elected officials have forgotten the history of the United States.
They seem to have forgotten the millions of immigrants ushered in via Ellis Island from Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Russia, and numerous other Eastern and Southern European countries wanting to become American, learn English, serve their new country in myriad ways, open businesses, raise the American flag, and have their children educated in American schools. Sure, there were those who participated in the seamier side of life, and yes, there are those who have immigrated today with the best of intentions and are successful Americans. However, far too many are monsters who would do harm to their adopted country, segregate themselves from the rest of American society while plotting against the nation that opened its doors to them, and do not pledge allegiance to the Stars and Stripes.
This is why it makes perfect sense to terminate this Diversity Visa Lottery immediately, and President Trump agreed. “I am today, starting the process to end the Diversity Visa Lottery,” said Trump. At the same time, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), who, to be fair, did call the murdering terrorist’s actions, those of “a depraved coward,” then called for greater gun control. How about banning rental trucks, Mr. Cuomo?
How difficult is it to understand that the more strict the vetting of all who wish to enter our borders the more safe everyone will be - so we should not be the land of dead immigrants.
“We have to get much tougher, much smarter, and much less politically correct and do what’s right to protect our citizens,” said Trump, who also called, and rightfully so, for the ending of “chain migration. We’ve been waiting to do this for a long time. This person brought other people with him, and that’s not acceptable. We need strength; we need resolve; not Democrats who are obstructionist,” continued Trump.
“What we want is merit-based immigration. We want people who are going to help our country, keep our country safe. These animals get away with so much,” said Trump, calling for the death penalty for this terrorist.
Should he be tried by the State of New York, he will not face the death penalty, as one no longer exists in the Empire State. It would be preferable for him to be tried in federal court, where he would, in fact, be exposed to the death penalty.
This 29 year old piece of human debris deserves nothing but life in front of a firing squad for the calamity he caused and encourages others to perpetrate in the future. Governor Cuomo indicated this murderer was “radicalized domestically,” yet another reason for concern about who is slithering into this country under the guise of being faithful to America. To those liberals who oppose the death penalty, just tell them it is a 261 month abortion.
Justice needs to be meted out quickly and swiftly so this terrorist is not forgotten in a dank cell eating up American resources for the next 25 years before being given the needle. Executing terrorists for killing people on American soil whether citizen or tourist as six of the eight killed in New York City were, should be a no-brainer, but left in the hands of those in Washington, DC, no brains are often what we are stuck with.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. Born and raised in northern New Jersey, in the shadows of the World Trade Center, Horn was a working journalist 10 minutes from the Pentagon on September 11, 2001.
Thursday, October 12, 2017
Hollywood Hypocrites Harbor Handsy Harvey
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
October 11, 2017
Normally this is not my bailiwick - Hollywood and its machinations, because, quite frankly, I don’t give a rat’s tuchus what happens in the Gomorrah of the 21 Century.
What attracted me to this story, being labeled a scandal across the press, is the hubris with which Hollywood behaves in protecting its own, and in the case of Harvey Weinstein, the feigned outrage over what clearly has been the worst keep secret since Bill Clinton’s marital peccadilloes.
The feigned outrage comes from, for starters, both the Clintons and the Obamas who count Weinstein as dear friend, an individual who contributed many tens thousands of dollars to all of their collective campaigns over the years. It took them more than five days to condemn Weinstein, a financial donor, yet called for increased gun control about five hours following the horrific Las Vegas slaughter of October 1 that claimed the lives of 58 innocents. This is the same Hillary Clinton claiming to be “shocked and appalled” by Weinstein’s actions, yet threatened to destroy the cadre of women her own husband harassed, or worse, for decades.
The entertainment industry, as a whole, has harbored Weinstein, a known serial sexual predator accused of misconduct, molesting, fondling, harassing, and even raping numerous women from within and even outside the vaunted walls of Central Casting.
Only now that the plethora of his dirty deeds has become overtly public, as opposed to the decades-long covertly public with a wink-wink offered at every turn when so-called comedians would reference Weinstein in their award show monologues, are those who became famous under his label speaking up and out. By the way, these comedic lemmings, men, should not be given a pass - implicit by clearly knowing what they knew and for as long as they knew it. When, in ultra-liberal Hollywood did rape jokes, or at the very least, sexual harassment jokes become acceptable? Oh, right, when protecting one of their liberal own - it’s all so incestuous in La La Land - makes my skin crawl.
Apparently it did not make the skin of the Obamas crawl, as their daughter Malia enjoyed an internship under Harvey the Harasser. “Harvey Weinstein is a wonderful human being and a good friend,” said Michelle Obama, only proud of her country since 2008.
Many in the Fourth Estate are calling Weinstein’s victims brave and heroic for coming forward and speaking out. My question is, what took them so long? Make no mistake, not one of these women should have been victimized, and they are victims, yet they remained silent for years, and even decades for the benefit of lavish Hollywood lifestyles and the roles of a lifetime. More than three dozen women, actresses mostly, have announced their victimhood in recent days, including, but not limited to Rosanna Arquette, Dawn Dunning, Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lawrence, Gwyneth Paltrow, and Mira Sorvino.
Some of these women did attempt to come forward and were either silenced or not believed, such as Rose McGowan, for example, declaring Weinstein raped her years ago. Twitter even suspended her account for roughly 12 hours after McGowan posted her accusations. British actress Lysette Anthony also levied the same accusation. Some, like television reporter Lauren Sivan, then a local reporter in New York City, were not even in the industry, and subject to Weinstein’s perversions in ways that decorum prohibits mentioning here.
Yet others covered up Weinstein’s criminal behavior while publicly lauding him, much akin to the accolades heaped upon film director Roman Polanski, accused for years of raping a 13-year-old girl in 1977. Meryl Streep called Weinstein her “god” while pontificating about Hollywood virtues, while condemning President Donald Trump vehemently with vim and vigor. “Hanoi” Jane Fonda, knowing of Weinstein’s criminal history, said she was “ashamed I didn’t say anything.” By the way, where was Fonda’s shame over her traitorous actions toward our troops in Vietnam? At least she is consistently terrible.
Still others prostituted themselves in defense of Weinstein - and in one particular case, literal defense of Weinstein. While in accordance with American jurisprudence, everyone is entitled to a defense, yet taking up for Weinstein has been Lisa Bloom. Bloom, daughter of famed feminist attorney Gloria Allred, is herself a feminist jurist, defending accusers of actor Bill Cosby and former Fox News commentator Bill O’ Reilly. It seems counterintuitive for Bloom to defend Weinstein and his actions, which are damned indefensible, but she herself has been accused of offering hush money to several of Weinstein’s victims. Hypocrisy at its level worst.
Bloom is not the only one to receive a payday from Weinstein. As indicated before, he contributed heavily to both Clintons’ campaigns over the years, including $250,000 to the Clinton Foundation. Hillary Clinton had the audacity to say she contributes 10 percent of her income every year to charity, and that ill-gotten money would be part of it. First of all, money contributed to the Clinton Foundation is neither earned, nor is it part of her income. Additionally, she said the money was spent, so it could neither be returned nor contributed elsewhere. Clinton should keep her word, for once, chisel open her wallet, and after the moths fly out, actually make the charitable donation on her own, and not from the pockets of donors.
Harvey Weinstein is a loathsome, obsequious weasel who preys on underlings who believe they are powerless. We have given Hollywood the power of preening self-importance by putting billions of dollars into the pockets of those living immoral lives preaching one set of values, and then selling yet another set of values on screen. This is not, or it should not just be about Weinstein. He is simply an amalgamation of the pandemic of the unholy culture that is Hollywood hypocrisy.
Another example of that hypocrisy is the preaching of anti-Second Amendment rhetoric, yet surrounding themselves with armed guards and security teams. They have the right to have such security, but should not call for the rest of society to abandon their Second Amendment rights, while simultaneously producing the most gun-laden, violence-themed films possible.
Additionally, Hollywood’s hypocrites are busy condemning President Trump, while knowing all along what kind of predator lurks amongst them in plain sight - see the self-congratulatory award shows and Saturday Night Live skits mocking Weinstein and his blatantly less than secret criminal behavior. Let’s not forget a casting couch so stained with tears and other bodily fluids, if it could talk, would scream volumes. Weinstein claims he needs rehabilitation. What Weinstein needs is a prison cell with other reprobates. If rehab is available behind bars, fine.
Those days are over. Hopefully victims of other abusers and rapists will come forward without fear of retribution, whether Hollywood hopefuls, students, men and women from all walks of life - our mothers, sisters, wives, and daughters who don’t have a public forum from which to seek solace or legal recourse. No one should be forced to live in fear, and no bully should be permitted to impose that fear upon anyone, anywhere.
Sanford D.. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.
Monday, September 18, 2017
Keeping His Enemies Closer
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 17, 2017
Frustrated by Congressional Republicans inability to coalesce and actually accomplish the goals they set forth during the 2016 campaign, President Donald Trump has been dining with Democrats in the White House. He has become the Don Corleone of the presidency - keeping his friends close and his enemies closer - especially pertaining to the issue of DACA.
Make no mistake, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) are enemies of President Trump as they speak of him with nothing less than venomous verbiage. Regarding Trump’s decision to end DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), Schumer said, “was heartless and brainless.” Pelosi chimed in calling Trump’s decision “a despicable act of political cowardice.”
Even I am conflicted - somewhat - concerning DACA. Long a supporter of deporting all illegal aliens, knowing how improbable a task that would be to undertake, I stand on the principles of law and order - that those in the United States illegally have broken the law, and lawbreakers should not be rewarded for their illegal acts. Yet, for generations now, illegal aliens continue to garner access to healthcare, welfare, food stamps, public education, free and reduced meals in public schools, in-state tuition at many state colleges and universities - all at the expense to the American taxpayer.
Here’s the conflicting aspect of DACA - the overwhelming majority of the roughly 800,000 “dreamers” in this unconstitutional program were brought to the United States at ages too young to understand, and beyond their control. Many of them are living positive lives having procured education and employment making them otherwise trouble-free and contributing members of society. Yet, they are still living in this country illegally, due to the illegal actions of their parents, relatives, or whomever transported them across international lines into the United States.
Many of the DACA residents know only life in the United States, speak only English, have broken no laws (save for being here illegally), and are simply seeking to remain in the only country they know. Make no mistake, I have not softened my stance on illegal immigration - those here illegally should have absolutely no access to the aforementioned rights bestowed upon citizens and legal residents. By stripping those so-called entitlements away from those here illegally, many may self-deport, while others simply will go deeper underground finding their lives even more difficult and complicated in these United States. If that sounds harsh, so be it - these people were neither invited to the United States, nor do they have a right to be here, illegally. This is still about the rule of law - American law.
Parents of DACA participants should have applied for entrance legally, waited in line as millions before them, such as my own mother-in-law, who took such pride in becoming an American citizen and casting her first vote for president - I know, I witnessed her swearing in ceremony as well as took her to the polling station on Election Day. There is a right way and a wrong way to conduct business, and those who choose the wrong path should not be rewarded. This also includes denying amnesty to those within DACA.
In spite of standing fervently with my principles, reality dictates there is a more than fair chance the dreamers will be legalized by Congress. President Trump took the proper course of action putting DACA in the laps of Congress. Trump understands what clearly Barack Obama did not - the executive branch does not make law, that is the job of Congress - the legislative branch. Even Obama’s own lawyer advised him that DACA, unilaterally enacted with no legal authority to shield these lawbreakers from deportation, would fail if argued in court. Simple concept - Constitution 101 - Article I, Section 8 - “The Congress shall have Power... To establish an [sic] uniform Rule of Naturalization.”
Unfortunately, in the hands of Congress, the right thing cannot be counted upon to be accomplished. The Democrats want the dreamers granted citizenship and voting rights in the blink of an eye - that is wholly unacceptable. The Republicans lack the intestinal fortitude to demand the following - if legalization is a fait accomplis, it should never include citizenship or the right to vote - the price to pay for illegal immigration. Any violation of the laws of the land are subject to deportation. No chain migration whatsoever - the DACA residents are young adults now and should be able to provide for themselves. Their parents or whoever brought them to the United States must be deported, move to the back of the line to qualify for legal immigration with concomitant penalties and fines.
The GOP must demand that any move toward legalization of the dreamers need first include funding for the wall on the southern border of the United States, and increased national security. Secure the funding first - no carrot and stick shtick that sunk the amnesty of 1986 because there were a plethora of carrots, but nary a stick. Additionally, and this need be new legislation pertaining to anyone entering the United States for any purpose - student visas, vacationers, business people, new immigrants - legal residents and new citizens - all must be photographed and fingerprinted. This information should be stored on a national database accessible in all 50 states.
As much of a small government American that I am, it should still be able to keep track of anyone in this country who are neither citizens nor permanent residents. While the overwhelming majority of the so-called mainstream media will react apoplectically, Congress must not kow-tow to this group of unelected, partisan hacks who, more often than not, are attempting to inject themselves into their own stories instead of reporting the news in an unbiased fashion. Do your job Congress - do what is best for American citizens.
Every effort must be made to keep DACA participants from acquiring citizenship and voting rights, thus encouraging more and more illegal behavior from people who have no right to be in the United States. This country cannot house the entire populace of Earth, and people who are granted admittance, must follow the laws if they wish to become part of American society.
Signs carried by protesters demanding equal rights for immigrants are disingenuous. Legal immigrants already have equal rights. Illegal immigrants have no right to anything other than a one way ticket back to their countries of origin. Illegals burning American flags clearly have no allegiance to the country they supposedly wish to join so badly they snuck in. Be American. Take pride in your new country - carry the American flag, not the flag of another nation. Help make America great again.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN.
Friday, September 8, 2017
Not a Sweet 16
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 8, 2017
Sixteen years later and the world as we know it still reeks of terror - and in most cases it is calamitously and pandemically worse as airplanes murderously flown into buildings by Muslim extremists are passe, while the employment of women, children, blades, and automobiles as deadly weapons have become the new normal.
On the eve of yet another September 11 our increasingly fractious civilization is on the precipice of imploding due to a lack of unity against a common enemy, rampant political correctness, and a lack of a sense and knowledge of history.
As we become further distanced from the realities of September 11, 2001, it becomes easier to shrug our shoulders at the war in front of us, and more ambivalent toward the reality that a greater number of people are denying. First and foremost, never forget the dastardly deeds perpetrated not just against the United States, but against humanity as a whole. Never forget that the perpetrators are continuing their mission to bring down the United States, Israel, Western Civilization, and perhaps annihilate all of G-d’s humanity in a suicidal attempt to reach their so-called 72 virgins.
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” - George Santayana (1863-1952)
A brief timeline of the harrowing events of September 11, 2001:
Between 7:59 AM and 8:42 AM four flights take off from Boston’s Logan, Washington’s Dulles, and Newark airports, each headed for Los Angeles except the Newark flight, headed to San Francisco.
8:46 AM: American Airlines flight #11 is flown into #1 World Trade Center - the North Tower - by five Muslim extremist hijackers murdering the 11 crew, 76 passengers and hundreds inside the tower instantly.
8:50 AM: President George W. Bush is alerted to what was initially presumed to be a horrible accident while visiting a Sarasota, FL elementary school.
8:55 AM: South Tower declared secure.
8:59 AM: Towers ordered evacuated.
9:03 AM: United Airlines flight #175 is flown into #2 World Trade Center - the South Tower - by five Muslim extremist hijackers murdering the nine crew, 51 passengers, and hundreds inside the tower instantly.
9:05 AM: President George W. Bush is alerted to what is now believed to be terrorist attacks. “Terrorism against our nation will not stand,” said Bush.
9:37 AM: American Airlines flight #77 is flown into the Pentagon in Arlington, VA by five Muslim extremist hijackers murdering the six crew, 53 passengers, as well as 125 military and civilian personnel on the ground.
9:59 AM: The South Tower collapses in 10 seconds after burning 56 minutes. More than 800 civilians and first responders are murdered.
10:03 AM: United Airlines flight #93 crashes into a field in Shanksville, PA when passengers and crew storm the cockpit. There are no survivors of the seven crew and 33 passengers due to the murderous plot by the four Muslim extremist hijackers. Flight #93 was 20 minutes from Washington, DC where the White House and/or the Capitol Building were the presumed targets.
10:15 AM: The damaged section of the Pentagon E-Ring collapses.
10:28 AM: The North Tower collapses after burning 102 minutes. More than 1,600 civilians and first responders are murdered.
5:20 PM: World Trade Center #7 collapses. The 47 story building had already been evacuated and no fatalities are reported.
8:30 PM: President George W. Bush addresses the nation.
While this is not an indictment of the entirety of Islam, a faith claiming to be the religion of peace, roughly 10 percent of its believers are considered radicalized and or extremist. And when dealing with over a billion people, 10 percent is 100 million people willing to murder and/or die for their zealous cause, thus making it the religion of pieces.
The ever growing litany of terror attacks across the globe since September 11, 2001 have been overwhelmingly committed by Muslim extremists in places like England, Spain, France, Belgium, Denmark, Sweden, Turkey, Pakistan, Egypt, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, and of course the United States with both homegrown and imported terrorists. Whether the perpetrators identify as al-Qaeda, Boko Haram, Hamas, Hezbollah, ISIS, Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Taliban, just to name a few - they all have certain indelible truths in common - their adherence to Muslim extremism, desire to eliminate Israel, the United States, Western Civilization as a whole and anyone they deem an infidel.
The enemy is also the Islamic Republic of Iran - a nation that cannot be trusted to keep a lid on its nuclear designs, yet Barack Obama abandoned reality in surrendering $150 billion to a maniacal despot hellbent on the destruction of both the United States and Israel. The enemy is also Syria. The enemy is also Russia, sadly vindicating former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney. Russia is as much an Iranian proxy as China is to North Korea, the other two parts of the current Axis of Evil. North Korea, with its own nuclear designs, threats, and testing is also run by a fat, little, maniacal despot.
The enemy is not President Donald Trump - he is the legally elected leader of the United States, and for those who have animus toward him, there will be another election in 2020. He is not a dictator, he is not trying to kill anyone, regardless of what wingnut members of Congress Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX), Maxine Waters (D-CA), and Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) claim in their hysterical attempts to overthrow this administration.
The enemy is not global warming, despite what mega-hypocrite Al Gore says. If people are being slaughtered by terrorists, they will be dead forever. Global warming, if real, which is debatable, could be combatted with the cooperation of the world’s biggest polluter - China.
The enemy is not the white, male Christian, despite what is being inculcated on high school and college campuses. Through indoctrination, the overwhelming majority of teachers, instructors, and professors as early as elementary school through the highest levels of university life offer a pervasive opinion that a reason for anyone’s failings is due to white privilege, sexism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, and any other -ism and phobia foolishly ignored by this white male. Anti-semitism on campus continues to rise as the BDS movement is considered an acceptable form of bigotry.
The enemy is not Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East and consistent reliable ally to the United States. Muslims and Arabs live more freely in Israel than they do in majority Muslim and Arab countries. Israel offers equal rights to women, the likes of which are not seen in Muslim majority countries where they are virtual prisoners, while Israel has even elected a female Prime Minister, Golda Meir, of Blessed memory. Gays in Israel have more freedom than in Muslim majority countries where many have been beheaded or simply pitched off the roofs of buildings like garbage to their deaths.
The enemy is not Wall Street or wealth. There is no sin in accumulating wealth honestly. Wealthy people hire other people. Wealthy people endow universities, hospitals, and create charitable organizations - all of which benefit many in need.
On this September 11, and every day, we the free people of the world must remain forever vigilant; know who our allies are, and know who our enemies are (not going to quote The Godfather). We must also maintain our faith, as I offer a selection from Jewish liturgy.
“Save us because of Your mercy. Shield us from enemies and pestilence, from starvation, sword, and sorrow. Remove the evil forces that surround us, shelter us in the shadow of Your wings. You O G-d, guard us and deliver us. You are a gracious and merciful King. Guard our coming and our going, grant us life and peace, now and always.”
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN He grew up in northern New Jersey in the shadow of the Twin Towers. On September 11, 2001, he was writing for a newspaper in northern Virginia, 10 minutes from the Pentagon.
Thursday, September 7, 2017
NFL’s Priorities Stand for Hypocrisy
Commentary by Sanford D. Horn
September 7, 2017
While the Cleveland Browns are the most recent National Football League franchise to make a mockery of the Star Spangled Banner, they are actually doing so with the blessing of the league itself. Another NFL season kicks off this weekend, as flags will be raised and unfurled throughout 16 stadiums, yet there will be a lack of uniformity as the league remains silent on those players demonstrating disdain and disrespect toward the American flag and all it represents.
The NFL, in its current spate of political correctness, is quick to fine players for excessive celebration for anything from a sack to a dance in the endzone following a touchdown. And although it seems perfectly acceptable to blaspheme the National Anthem under the guise of free expression, different socks and/or messages on their shoes are flagged for punishment.
The NFL is demonstrating sheer hypocrisy by not demanding all players stand for the National Anthem. After all, fans in the stands are required to do so, hearing this or a similar announcement: “Ladies and gentlemen, please rise, and gentlemen please remove your caps as so-and-so performs/sings our National Anthem.” If it is mandatory for paying customers to stand, why are the players treated any differently? Who are they to receive a special dispensation from standing for the National Anthem.
About a dozen Cleveland Browns players took a knee during their home preseason game on Monday, August 21 versus the New York Giants. Additionally, Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Michael Bennett sat during the National Anthem on Sunday, August 13. And while head coach Pete Carroll said “we should all stand for the anthem,” there were no repercussions against Bennett.
It was just as wrong for former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick to take a knee last season, as Hall of Famer Jim Brown said he thought it disrespectful and that players like Kaepernick are desecrating the flag. Now, as opening day approaches, and Kaepernick is still unemployed, there are players and a so-called sports writer Skip Bayless who are attempting to bully the league into hiring Kaepernick on racial discrimination grounds. That suggestion is a load of crap. Regardless of his race, Kaepernick has been a distraction and for those in the overwhelming majority, fans simply don’t wish to support a team with a malcontent on its roster.
Taken one step farther, the unions representing the Cleveland police officers and paramedics have announced they will defer from holding a large, roughly field-sized American flag during the pregame ceremonies prior to the Browns season-opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday, September 10.
“I am not going to participate, or work with management, that allows their players to disrespect the flag and the National Anthem,” said Steve Loomis, president of the Cleveland Police Patrolman’s Association, and a veteran of the United States Navy. Loomis expressed shock upon learning that Browns management knew there would be players refusing to stand for the anthem, but did nothing to prevent their actions.
The Browns issued a contradictory statement at halftime of the their game versus the Giants. The Browns organization has a “profound respect for the National Anthem, the U.S. flag and those who serve in the military. We feel it’s important for our team to join in this great tradition and special moment of recognition, at the same time we also respect the great liberties afforded by our country, including the freedom of personal expression.” Pure hypocrisy.
So the NFL endorses personal expression when it pertains to something as important as respecting the American flag and the National Anthem, yet rigidly enforces uniform rules regarding socks and shoes. The entire issue is a uniform issue, as in uni = one, one form, as in everyone wearing or doing the same thing - standing for the anthem. Once again, pure hypocrisy.
The NFL and its 32 franchises can enforce a rule requiring its employees, the players, to stand during the National Anthem. If a player wishes to offer personal expression, he should feel welcome to do so on his personal time. Once that player punches the clock, similar to an employee of any other business, they are required to follow the rules as established by their employer, provided they do not require lawbreaking or putting themselves in harm's way. A restaurant employee should not offer personal opinions on issues of the day while serving food to patrons, but once the shift has ended, he or she should be able to express his or her opinion at will. To do so on the clock could prove deleterious to the employer - losing patrons and ultimately income because of a wrong place, wrong time situation. Teams could suffer similar losses when jersey and other merchandise sales slump due to fans speaking with their wallets - refusing to purchase such items representing teams with players disrespecting the flag and ultimately the nation.
Players disobeying the rules should be fined up to the amount of one game’s salary. If players do not like the rules, they are free to find employment elsewhere. The NFL would no doubt disapprove of such enforcement for fear of being called racist when this is not a race issue, but instead, an issue of respect and uniformity. As a business, the NFL is gutless - lacking the intestinal fortitude to do what is right in the eyes of the millions of patriotic Americans, those who wore and continue to wear the uniform, as well as those men and women in blue on the front lines in the cities, towns, villages, and hamlets across this great nation.
Sanford D. Horn is a writer and educator living in Westfield, IN. He is a longtime fan of the New York Giants and New York Jets.