If there is one thing I have learned in becoming a new father, it is to have greater respect for my wife.
Now if you have been following my blog at all then you know that I am a conservative -- I always have been and I always will be. That means that my first inclination is to nod to past experience and the lessons of history. But when it comes to childbearing, it strikes me that we in America are just now beginning to figure out how to do this right.
Maybe it's because hospitals just now seem to be making their facilities more celebratory and comfortable than utilitarian and medicinal. Maybe it's because in the baby classes that we attended my wife and I heard several return participants say that the curriculum had changed significantly in the past few years. Maybe it's because men from my parents' generation tend to not be familiar with the importance of paternity leave, or even why breast-feeding is preferable to the bottle. Maybe it's because only in the past year has the military decided to forgo fitness tests for new mothers and give them the time off work that they deserve.
It might be a combination of all these things. What I know is that we as men have historically not given nearly enough credit to the women who have carried, delivered, and raised us. I struggle to understand, particularly now, how any man could have witnessed a woman spend nine months going through three trimesters of chaotic body changes, watch her push through hours if not a full day of excruciating labor, observe her forfeit proper sleep for months if not years, and then have the audacity to tell this woman that she cannot vote. What were our ancestors thinking?
Combat is another one. If you've been in the room when a child was born, or even seen the film The Back Up Plan, then you know exactly what I'm talking about. With any birth there is no shortage of screaming, crying, spilled blood, frantic people running around, and collateral damage. For me it's the closest thing to war I've seen since Afghanistan. Any woman strong enough to push through this is more than capable of being a soldier if she so chooses. And yet we're just now recognizing that fact.
Of course, I love Father's Day and I will cherish this as my first. I look forward to seeing my dad set up his Bluetooth Death Star and I can't wait to see what my wife has bought me from ThisiswhyImbroke.com. But I'm under no illusions about my responsibilities versus hers. Every weekday I show up for my routine job, enjoy interaction with my network of friendly coworkers, and fulfill my responsibilities to further our department's programs. For the most part there is limited crying and not a lot of crap to deal with.
My wife's life is another story. Right now she spends her entire day in our home going through an endlessly repeating cycle of inserting nutrients into a small human who loves to spew them right back out from a wide variety of orifices. This isn't a pleasant process. After a day spent disposing of a cornucopia of smelly forms and textures, my wife doesn't even get to sleep much. Even when she does it's usually just for a few hours and then she has to either feed the baby or hook herself up to a contraption that looks like it belongs on a farm. She does this tirelessly, without complaining, and then I show up after holding a few bottles and change a diaper or two, and somehow I get a whole holiday in my honor. The true story is that, while at home on maternity leave, my wife is the one doing the real work.
I do enjoy Father's Day and I think we as dads deserve it. But this year, as I celebrate my first, I am also thinking about Mother's Day and its importance. I think we should reconsider it.
I'm convinced they deserve a week.
A day after the horrible events in Orlando, Americans are again finding themselves in the traumatic and painful wake of a domestic terrorist attack. Yesterday the President remarked that we would all find out more regarding the killer’s motives and intentions, but based on initial reporting we already know what to expect. A radical jihadist with familial ties to the Taliban, and explicit support from ISIL? Anyone living in the United States can finish that narrative. The Boston Marathon, San Bernardino, Umpqua College – the story is becoming all too familiar and all too frequent.
“Senseless” is a word already being utilized to describe the mass murder. It certainly feels that way, and from our Western perspective we struggle to imagine why anyone would ever do such an appalling thing. However, this event wasn’t random and it certainly wasn’t incidental. What occurred was a premeditated, purposeful act of hate originated and planned by a known enemy. The United States is at war with ISIL, and as Sunday’s events agonizingly showed, they are certainly at war with us.
This is the reality which Americans must accept – while our opponent may be Syrian-based, the war we are fighting against them knows no geographical bounds. ISIL’s social media propaganda solicits support from over 48 countries, and every year they bring in far more recruits than our military air strikes terminate. Domestically, the FBI is managing over 900 active investigations into ISIL-related activity, including at least one in every American state. For ISIL, this is total war.
The front lines to this struggle are not merely towns like Fallujah or Mosul. They are familiar cities like Orlando and Los Angeles. Popular nightclubs, sporting events, public transportation, universities, holiday festivals – all of these otherwise enjoyable and peaceful venues are now potential targets for attack. And worst of all, such attacks are being carried out by an enemy most Americans would otherwise never encounter or know much about. What, the mournful residents of Orlando must be asking, did we ever do to them?
It doesn’t help that in a war against ISIL, our government’s leaders rarely frame it as such. Not only should they be accurately portraying the enemy we face and preparing us for the threat, our leaders should be doing everything they can to empower the US military to fully exterminate ISIL. Right now they are not.
The truth is that America can do more, and we should be doing more. This sentiment has been frequently articulated by Republicans and the right, even to such extremes as former presidential candidate Ted Cruz claiming he would “carpet bomb ISIS to see if the sand glows.” Presumptive nominee Donald Trump has said much of the same, advocating both a freeze on immigration as well as the targeting of Syrian civilians to punish terrorists. But these aren’t strategies as much as they are tactics. Simply killing more ISIL members won’t defeat their ideology or stop radicalization, and barring immigration while spreading the violence to civilians will only serve to radicalize more of the 1.6 billion Muslims living in the world.
To actually root out ISIL, and to prevent events like Orlando from recurring, the United States needs a better and more comprehensive strategy. We need a thorough, nuanced, and expansive plan of action which will undermine the terrorist group’s support from the ground up. Such a strategy must incorporate an accurate understanding of existing players in the Middle East, recognition of the appeal that ISIL uses to solicit and maintain its widespread support, and bold initiatives which incorporate successful ventures from the past with new ideas for the future. Nothing less will eliminate the fierce and resilient enemy we face at home and abroad.
We owe our prayers, thoughts, and sympathy to the victims of Orlando and their families. Along with this, we owe them our very best efforts at enacting justice for what occurred. In the upcoming posts I will offer an outline of a military strategy which can accomplish precisely that.
“BE IT RESOLVED,” states the preamble to the formal rules of the Republican Convention,” that the Republican Party is the party of the open door.” The preamble goes on to defend the purpose of the rules as to ensure the “broadest possible participation of voters” in its activities and to make the party “open and accessible to all Americans.” The ideological basis of the Republican Convention is thus the purposeful inclusion and tolerance of all American citizens regardless of heritage, race, gender, or religion.
Doesn’t sound like the party of Donald Trump does it?
Candidate Trump recently got himself into trouble for denouncing Judge Gonzalo Curiel on the basis of his Mexican heritage, despite the fact that Judge Curiel is an American citizen born in Indiana. Republican leaders, including some as closely aligned to Donald Trump as Newt Gingrich, have gone on record stating that they do not have an issue with Trump’s questioning the political (or in this case, unabashedly liberal) inclinations of any judge. It is, however, the fact that Trump links such ideology to culture and race that is the larger problem. Despite Trump’s own insistence that many Latinos are in support of his candidacy, his implication that political bias somehow causally follows race or heritage is something the majority on either side of the political aisle finds “inexcusable.”
Such comments cannot come as a surprise to those who have been closely following the presidential race. Trump began his candidacy on a tough anti-immigration stance in which he couched his proposal within stereotypical indictments against Mexicans. In defiance of the first amendment, he then argued for a ban against all Muslims on the basis of their religion alone. And it was Trump himself who stated that Syrian children should not be allowed to live or determine their own destiny if they happen to be born into the wrong family.
If Newt Gingrich’s comments are telling, then most Republican leaders seemed to have believed that Trump would pivot away from such rhetorical nonsense following a nomination victory. Many Republicans may have calculated that Trump’s bigotry was simply a form of pandering to the party’s excitable fringe elements. The fact is, however, that the candidate’s recent comments are simply the latest evidence that Trump means exactly what he says. And even if Trump were to distance himself from his own comments in the near future, Republicans should take this opportunity to decry such behavior and punish it vehemently. Such inflammatory talk should be labeled for what it is – indefensibly opposed to the purpose of the Republican Party, and a cause for disqualification from its nomination.
Those familiar with party guidelines will be quick to note that the convention rules offer no litmus test for the ideology of the presumptive nominee. Given the party’s record of past successful nominations, such a test has not been required until now. But Trump’s pending nomination presents a dire situation -- a revocation of the Convention’s core purpose -- and as a result desperate acts within the confines of existing rules must be taken.
According to Rule No. 12 of the convention rules, for example, amendments may be offered if proposed and accepted by the Standing Committee on Rules prior to the convention in July. In fact, as explained in Rule No. 32 the Republican Convention laws themselves may be suspended on the basis of majority agreement of any seven states. Such an agreement could be reached if party leaders were to work quickly to generate a consensus and a path to nomination for the runner up (in this case Ted Cruz) or an alternative credible candidate who will pledge allegiance to the party’s purpose.
For the good of the party, allegiance to its core purpose, and in defense of Constitutional conservatism the Republican Party's leadership must pursue this course. Should Trump be disqualified, his supporters will no doubt cry foul and declare the will of democracy on their side. But lest we forget, the United States was founded not as a pure democracy but a Constitutional Republic with limits to government and restrictions upon its leaders. The Republican Party in particular, with its frequent conservative invocations of the Constitution and the wisdom of our nation’s Founding Fathers, claims allegiances to this identity. That the same GOP would nominate a man who specifically calls for a rejection of those Constitutional limits is a far greater tragedy than upsetting the temporary will of the people.
We as Republicans are, after all, the party who believes that liberty should exist for all. We believe that a person’s work ethic and contributions to society are the standards by which recognition is earned – not by what race he is or what family he happens to be born into. Ours is the party of Lincoln, Reagan, and Bush – the party that brought America the leaders who declared the Emancipation Proclamation, defeated the ideology of Soviet communism, and pioneered the war on terrorism. Ours is not the party of racism, bigotry, or xenophobia.
It is time we made this resoundingly clear by rejecting the embodiment of such vices in Trump’s candidacy. As such, being faced with his nomination may present, instead of catastrophic and ideological defeat, the opportunity of a lifetime for the Republican Party to put accusations of racism to bed once and for all.
The “Party of the Open Door” can live up to that name if its leaders close that door on the bigotry and racism of Donald J. Trump.