Conservatives cannot afford to sit this election out

Conservatives can begin the reconstruction phase of our embattled political movement next Wednesday morning, but right now the “Shining City on a Hill,” as Ronald Reagan once described our nation, is illuminated for all the wrong reasons. It’s on fire. The insatiable flames of unchecked government growth are burning straight through the materials that built our shining city and made it the greatest in history – individual liberty, free markets, and traditional values to name only a few. Hillary Clinton’s answer to this five-alarm disaster is to flood its streets with gasoline by increasing the government’s size and cost, expanding its control over the individual and the markets, and eroding or erasing the values that have made our land so different than the rest of the world. While this catastrophe unfolds before our eyes, conservatives must ask themselves this question next Tuesday: are you going to help her ... or are you going to help stop her? To those of you who cannot stomach voting for Trump, I completely understand your reservation. Many conservatives within the ranks of our movement have been early, frequent, and aggressive critics of Donald Trump, both the man and his ideas (or lack thereof). I’m very proud to have been part of that faction, although I stopped just short of declaring #NeverTrump. I have have repeatedly written that he isn’t a conservative, and that all past and present evidence indicates that he’s an unprincipled reactionary. Yet he does seem to hold at least a few…

Tim Kaine is either ignorant, apathetic, or a coward about abortion

Hillary Clinton has either selected an ignorant man, an apathetic man, or an absolute coward as her running mate, at least when it comes to the abortion issue. The only question about Tim Kaine is this: which is he? Shortly before the former Virginia governor was chosen as the Democratic Party’s vice presidential candidate, he was asked on Meet the Press to explain how he can be “personally opposed” to abortion but still remain politically pro-choice. Let’s take a look at Kaine’s full answer: “I’m a traditional Catholic. I’m personally opposed to abortion and personally opposed to the death penalty. I deeply believe, and not just as a matter of politics but even as a matter of morality, that matters about reproduction and intimacy and relationships and contraception are in the personal realm. They’re moral decisions for individuals to make for themselves. And the last thing we need is government intruding into those personal decisions. So I’ve taken a position which is quite common among Catholics. I’ve got a personal feeling about abortion, but the right role for government is to let women make their own decisions.” Setting aside the nonsense about being a traditional Catholic (the Church is clear on the matter, regardless of what its liberal members like Kaine say), what a mess. His babbling attempt to defend the indefensible is nothing but a word salad of shaky arguments that we’ve heard before. Looking back, one may recall how in 2008 then-Senator Barrack Obama said the question of…

We’re as mad as hell … but are we going to take it anymore?

The past few weeks may appear to be another sad chapter in the senseless conflict between black and white in our country, or as some believe, between black and blue, but the only color Americans like me have been seeing lately is ... red. We’re angry. We’re angry because we tell our children to obey the law, but then watch as our nation’s highest official repeatedly sidesteps our nation’s highest law so he can singlehandedly change our immigration system. So are we now supposed to tell our children that -- to put it in Nixonian terms -- something isn’t illegal of the president does it? We’re angry because we teach our children that ignorance of the law excuses no one (“Ignorantia legis neminem excusat,” the ancients said), but then listen as our nation’s top investigator explains how Hillary Clinton clearly broke (cough!) obeyed the law because she didn’t know any better than to spill classified information all across the internet. So are we now supposed to teach our children to plead ignorance whenever they’re caught doing something wrong, rather than to accept responsibility for their actions and the accountability that comes with it? We’re angry because we raise our children to respect the police, but then we see good cops cussed and killed for simply doing their jobs ... jobs that most either couldn’t or wouldn’t perform even if policemen got paid what they deserved. We hear calls for justice, but we see actions that seek impunity. And to add…

Hillary Clinton must be held accountable at the ballot box

Among the many famous monuments and important offices that populate Washington, D.C., my favorite has always been the Supreme Court Building. There’s nothing actually impressive about the structure itself. It’s just another of the city’s many examples of neoclassical architecture. It even lacks the crowds and commotion that accompany most others, probably because there’s nothing to see inside but an ornate chamber and nine rather unimpressive looking chairs. Still, whenever I walked passed the building during my years working for then-Congressman Bob Riley on Capitol Hill, I’d always pause, look up, and pay a moment’s homage to the four words inscribed above the building’s main entrance: “Equal Justice Under Law.” They were written in letters as tall as a man, and though it may sound exaggerated, my heart would swell a bit whenever I read them. To me, those words meant that it didn’t matter who you were, where you came from, who your father was or wasn’t, whether you were rich or poor, illiterate or educated, powerful or weak, or even right or wrong. In America, it meant that you’d be treated equally before the law. Whatever may happen in our political system, we had that belief, and it was something to cherish, and protect. Yesterday, those words were made a mockery of. Hillary Clinton steadfastly maintained that she “did not email any classified material to anyone” after she sought to hide official communication from public records requests by using a personal email account for state business. Yet the…

Dropping the atomic bomb was merciful, not merciless

Many feared that President Barrack Obama’s recent speech in Hiroshima would descend into just another stop on his worldwide “Apology Tour” of imagined grievances and revised histories. Thankfully, our president stopped short of saying he was sorry for his predecessor’s decision to drop the atomic bombs on Japan and thus putting an end to World War II. But true to form, he did color the remarks with the left’s usual themes of moral equivalencies, multiculturalism, and self-loathing. We were all just bad nations doing bad things, the speech seemed to imply, and dropping the bomb was probably the worst of it all. In fairness, some on the left still criticized Obama for not offering a full throated apology. “War crimes leave wounds,” wrote University of Norte Dame professor Daniel Philpott in the New York Daily News, attempting to lay the moral foundation for a presidential apology. “When a nation’s government places its patriotism and its policy behind a gravely immoral deed and continues to justify this deed, it invites both its citizens and future governments to commit further grave wrongs.” A gravely immoral deed? Tell that to those who were spared from the then-inevitable invasion of Japan, which estimates showed would have cost the lives of nearly a million Allied troops along with 10 million Japanese, who were all training to defend their god-emperor to the last man, woman, and child. So what’s worse? Dropping the bombs and ending the war quickly and decisively, or allowing the battles to drag…

Lifting embargo on Cuba betrays our values

Some of my state’s leaders recently claimed in an AL.com opinion piece that trading with the Castro brothers would be a “win-win-win” for Alabama, the United States, and even Cuba. Truth is, it’d be a shame, shame, shame for us to profit from the continued captivity of that island nation’s long-enslaved people. Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson, one of the article’s four co-authors, believes our nation’s embargo on Cuba is an “isolationist policy” that is “infringing on Alabamians’ right to choose with whom they can and can’t do business with.” Normally, the mayor would have a point. Free markets are a tenet of conservatism, but there’s nothing free about trading with a criminal government that enslaves its people, especially if that trade only enriches the slaveholders. Make no mistake, any dollars flowing in-or-out of Cuba must first flow through the hands of Fidel and Raul Castro. That’s how they’ve managed to become shadow billionaires while keeping a tight lid on their communist pressure cooker for more than 55 years. Another of the article’s co-authors, State Sen. Vivian Figures, D-Mobile, would have us believe that the embargo has “negatively impacted the Cuban people.” Typical. Blame America for another nation’s self-inflicted wounds. Still, normally she might have a point. Free trade usually rewards hard-working people, but trading with the hard-working Cuban people’s slave masters would create the most negative impact of all. For those who think my use of that word -- “slave” -- is too harsh, or perhaps hyperbole, I ask you:…

America’s heroes are born, not made

Near the end of the Korean War novel “The Bridges of Toko-Ri,” an American military commander is mourning the death of some of his best men, but also remembering their strength, their courage, and the devotion they shared for one another. Staring alone out at the morning sea, he reflects on how fortunate our nation is to have had such heroes, and then asks, “… where did we get such men?” I asked that same question many times while researching and writing the book, “American Warfighter: Brotherhood, Survival, and Uncommon Valor in Iraq, 2003-2011.” It tells the war’s story through the experiences of 10 men who, for their actions in combat, were awarded two Distinguished Service Crosses, two Navy Crosses, five Silver Stars, and three other prestigious awards for valor. After each interview I found myself asking ... where did we get such men? Where did we get the kind of medic who’d leave the safety of his armored vehicle to shoot his way through an ambush, killing several insurgents before pulling three soldiers from a burning tank? Where did we get the former cook who singlehandedly killed six Al Qaeda fighters in close quarters combat, the last going down in a blazing face-to-face shootout? Where did we get the Marine who ran into an open ambush in Fallujah not once, not twice, but three times so he could carry his wounded comrades to safety? In an era when the term is perhaps too loosely applied, these individuals epitomize the…

Alabama should refuse to house illegal aliens

So now that the president’s halfhearted attempt at border enforcement and wholehearted welcome of illegal alien minors has created another summertime crisis, federal bureaucrats are considering housing thousands of them at a camp in coastal Alabama. “I don’t want to be rude ... you’re not welcome,” said Baldwin County Commissioner Chris Elliot during a teleconference earlier this week with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the bureaucratic fiefdom that’s assessing whether old military airfields near Silverhill and Orange Beach could be used for the camps. None of us wishes to be rude about it, but the federal government created this mess and its only solution seems to be to make it easier, more comfortable, and ultimately more successful for people to enter our nation illegally. Now they want to toss their problem at our doorstep. If the federal government needs to unload its problem somewhere, perhaps it ought to start with one of those “sanctuary cities” like San Francisco or Seattle. Tell them to put their money – and their communities, their homes, and their families – where their mouths are, instead of forcing the rest of us to deal with their blunders. “We evaluate where there is space available,” said Andrea Helling, a spokeswoman with HHS. “We have an operational and legal responsibility to take care of these children. We are looking at all of our options to make the best use of taxpayer dollars.” No, the taxpayers don’t have a responsibility to take care of these…

#ProbablyNeverTrump but #DefinitelyAlwaysSessions

Donald Trump isn’t a conservative. He doesn’t have a strong belief in limited government, individual rights, or the free market. Quite the contrary, in some respects, and this is well established and beyond reasonable argument. So how could a conservative like me ever vote for him? Simple. By not voting for him. Trump said last week that Senator Jeff Sessions is “certainly someone I would consider” for vice president, and that the Alabamian was a “fantastic person” and is “absolutely” on his short list of prospective running mates. For his part, Sessions said that he “would have no objection to serving in a Trump administration ... because I think it could be a historically positive administration.” This is music to my otherwise Trump-tortured ears. Sessions is everything Trump isn’t: someone who understands and believes conservative principles. Sessions has faithfully defended conservatism against attack and has tirelessly advocated for its advancement. He’s humble yet bold, courteous yet steadfast, and he’s selfless, wise, and honest to the core. He’s not only the most decent politician I know, he’s one of the most decent men I know, period. But it’s true that when Sessions introduced Trump at a massive stadium rally in my boyhood home of Mobile earlier this year, I felt nervous about his association with a man who didn’t appear to understand conservatism at all. And when Sessions later endorsed Trump at another stadium rally near my home in Huntsville, I felt heartsick about his embrace of someone who I then…

Trumpism will come to pass but conservatism will endure

Conservatives contend that the Republican Party hasn’t nominated a presidential candidate from our movement’s ranks since 1984, and before that, not since 1964. “What’s past is prologue,” the Bard wrote; the party isn’t nominating one of us this year, either. Whatever can be said of Donald Trump, he hasn’t demonstrated an understanding of, or even an instinctual preference for, conservatism. He certainly hasn’t campaigned upon its principles and there’s no sign he’ll govern with them once elected. Quite the contrary, in fact. Trump’s recent attempts to unify the party have been to say that he doesn’t need conservatives to win, and then to speculate about raising both taxes and the minimum wage. Move over, Bernie. No matter. “It’s not about conservatism or liberalism,” a radio talk show host in Birmingham recently told me. His admission that Trump was basically a reactionary came a day after the candidate dismissively asked, “Who cares?” what political beliefs he actually holds. The better question might be, “Who knows?” And after this primary season, who knows what the party’s voters think conservatism is anyway. “Conservatism means being resistant to change,” a caller to a Huntsville talk show said last week, reading from a dictionary while charging that people like me aren’t boarding the Trump Train because we fear “change.” (Head hits desk.) For the record, his dictionary was defining a personal disposition, not a political philosophy. To the 57% of my fellow Republicans in Alabama who didn’t vote for Trump in our primary: We may…