Why the Wall?

Let’s talk about the wall.

This article is written to accompany a fantastic article just written by my friend and colleague, Ben Sweetwood, which masterfully sifts through the hysteria over President Trump’s recent executive order on immigration. Here at Griffwood Post, we constantly seek to challenge the prevailing narrative of the day. We live by an important motto: if everyone seems to be in agreement about something, be skeptical.

Everyone, and I mean everyone seems to have a problem with President Trump’s idea of building a wall along the border shared between the United States and Mexico. This includes those who are left, right, libertarian, and everyone else in between. Some of the consternation has produced perfectly valid criticisms of the idea that should not be overlooked. But I write to contend that the idea to build the wall actually has its merits.

Those on the right, and those who abhor government spending, criticize the wall for its cost and complexity. The wall will indeed be expensive—and the proposed methodology of taxing a portion of the U.S.-Mexican trade deficit does eventually pass the cost of the wall on to the consumer. However, in context, the tax does have implicit benefits to the American consumer beyond the wall. The trade deficit exists because the U.S. exports to Mexico about $60 billion dollars in goods less than it imports from Mexico. However, the entirety of the U.S.’s annual imports from Mexico total around $300 billion. Now, 20 percent of $300 billion is enough to pay for three walls at Trump’s price-point of around $20 billion per year. So the cost, in context, is not outlandish. This is not to mention the benefit of protecting and encouraging American industries that directly compete with Mexican products. And if there is any American president who can spur the behemoth of the federal government to actually build something on time and under budget, it’s going to be Donald J. Trump.

But $20 billion is still $20 billion. That’s a costly project.

Another valid criticism is the complexity of building the wall. The Cato Institute has done a great job of illustrating just how complicated the process will be. Building a wall along this 2,000 mile stretch of the American southwest means overcoming geographical challenges, replacing existing walls and fences, equipping the wall with proper surveillance equipment and, of course, maintaining it. This is not to mention the inevitably long amount of time it will take the federal government to argue the hundreds if not thousands of eminent domain cases that will be necessary to gather the lands needed for the construction of the wall (much of the land abutting the U.S.-Mexican border is privately owned.) The wall may not be feasibly possible in Trump’s term.

But just because something is complex doesn’t mean it’s impossible[1]. We got to the moon, we can build a big wall.

And, yes, I’ve heard the argument that many if not most illegal immigrants come into the country by airplane, on lawful visas, and extend their stay indefinitely. Obviously, a comprehensive immigration reform package would need to address that. But the cartels, the drug runners, and criminals fleeing Latin America are not buying group ticket packages on commercial airliners. They’re the ones taking advantage of the porous border, and they’re certainly the ones we want to stop first.

I give criticisms from the left credence as well, but they are becoming a bit too ‘one-sized fits all’ to have retained their bite. I also abhor identity-politics and think the hysteria around Donald Trump is contributing to a dangerous narrowing of political discourse.

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Profitable Alarmism

To U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, climate change is “the greatest challenge of our generation.”  And though he characterizes any who disagree as “a tiny minority of shoddy scientists and science and extreme ideologues”, he spends a good amount of time  trying to shutter dissent. To former Secretary of State and potential 2016 Presidential contender Hillary Clinton, climate issues are “the most consequential, urgent, sweeping collection of challenges we face.”

Without a doubt, smart consumerism and environmental protection are important issues. We must be responsible stewards of the planet we leave to our children. But the language of the left on this issue is of a passion more feverish than they show for all other pressing matters of our time, like the increasingly large size of government or the thugs such as ISIS running rampant in the Middle East.

Why is this so?

The more control the left attains, the more successful it is in its ambitions. Thus, the principal ambition of the left is control over our lives at the expense of our personal freedoms. This is not necessarily by desire, but by nature. For the “progressive” agenda to gain traction, it has to be accepted in full, because it requires a willful relinquishment of our individual abilities to self-regulate. Opposition can mean a derailment of the “progressive” agenda, because leftist objectives are focused on an assigned concept of the greater good projected upon the masses; an inherently unfair allotment of a finite pool of resources (money, land, solutions, etc.) determined by a handful of people in power. Conservatism, of course, is also concerned with the allotment of resources, but by the fair hand of the market and with a renewing pool of resources supplied by innovation and individual enterprise.

Alarmism is an insidious weapon of the left. Alarmism easily achieves two goals for those who employ it: it creates a reason for those in power to break the rules (i.e. politicians can take more individual freedoms away in the name of the ‘emergency’) and it marginalizes opposition. When the left sounds the alarm on an issue, there’s no time to think, just hand over the wheel and they will steer. Consider the Obama administration’s recent move to circumvent the President’s legal obligation to ratify treaties through Congress by seeking to ratify a climate ‘accord’ with the UN. Or, consider the pervasive dialogue of those in attendance at the 2014 People’s Climate March. According to posters, pamphlets, and stump speeches from many in the crowd, the enemy of the climate is capitalism. Street interview footage available on YouTube shows attendees, when pressed, admitting that they advocate for “a whole new society”… a “socialist” one.

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The Beast Cannot Go Unchecked

How many people did Stalin kill?  If you ask most educated people they struggle with a credible response.  The answer is hotly debated, but we can ballpark it between 20 and 60 million people.  Stalin quite possibly killed more people than the entire world did in World War II.  Think about that for a minute. Okay, now put your latte down and think about it again. Pretty horrific isn’t it? Now add in the atrocities of Hitler, Mussolini, the Japanese Imperial Army, etc. Now ask yourself this question: what would have all of those people invented, innovated, created, cured, built, loved, painted, healed (the list goes on) had they not been executed, murdered, or simply dehumanized and dumped off into some abhorred concentration camp?

Let us come together and agree on what the lesson of the 20th Century SHOULD be.  You cannot let the Beast go unchecked. Folks, it really is that simple.

When I joined the Army in the winter of 2005 I was but a young man searching for my place in the world. The country was deeply divided over what the right course of action should be in the Middle East following the deadliest attack on American soil. I joined because I wanted to gain leadership skills, experience comradery, and to serve this country that I love so much.  As the years passed I found out there was more to being a soldier than what I just listed. At every major training event and deployment my belief in America grew. Each event that reinforced my beliefs can be simply enumerated:

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Stereotypes I Refuse to Accept

Bottom line, for me it is about people. I care about people living and succeeding. Everyone. Our lives are our right; our freedoms are our tools to our happiness and success. This is what I defend.

As a general principal, stereotypes exist about every demographic that should be deplored. I am not discounting their bite.

I am a conservative. There are stereotypes about the right that I can laugh at, accept, and even buy into. Does the Republican Party have a lot of ‘elderly white male’ representation? Sure. Are conservatives wealthy? Some are. Are there outlandish and in some cases deplorable stances taken by a fringe that associate themselves with my same ideology? Of course.

However, I am absolutely and unequivocally rejecting the vitriolic stereotypes of conservatism that are regularly assigned all too often by the left. The legitimacy of those labels end here and now.

As one of few openly conservative students at Columbia University, I sometimes have one of these stereotypes lobbed my way. I can take it, but I won’t accept it.

I will deconstruct these stereotypes one by one.

“Conservatives are anti-minority”

No statement could be further from the truth. Conservatism as an ideology is based upon the notion of the importance of the individual and a government that is limited in its capacity to infringe upon individual liberties. As government becomes larger, it must increasingly rely upon the categorization of citizens to dispense public benefits and collect taxes for the public good. To the government, a system of bureaucracies, you are not the smart, good, hardworking, and capable individual that you, your friends, and your family knows you to be. Instead, you are a white/black/Latino/Asian male/female of the Christian/Jewish/Islamic faith in a certain age group and a certain tax bracket, etc. If you don’t believe this reconsider the information you are required to submit every year on your taxes or the questions asked of you by the U.S. Census.

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Democrats Pay Black Employees 30% Less Than White Employees

The New Organizing Institute has come out with a study that shows that Democratic campaigns pay their black employees substantially less than their white employees.

The study, which you can find here shows That Democrats pay black staffers 30%…YES, that’s right…30% less than white staffers. The Republicans have a pay disparity too but it is only 11.5% between blacks and whites AND, the overall pay is MUCH better in Republican campaigns for everyone. Republicans pay their black employees about 40% more than Democrats do, though as blacks overwhelmingly lean Democratic, Dem campaigns have many more black employees. So, what does this say about the party that is supposedly “all about minorities?”

If you are wondering Democrats also pay their Hispanic employees 32.% less than their white employees. Republicans on the other hand, pay Hispanic employees only 11% less than whites. Republicans pay their Hispanic employees 42% more than their democratic counterparts.

Now this is not to say that Democrats are discriminating against any certain group of people. We at Griffwood Post will never use that tactic. However, if they want to attack Republicans, business owners, and America in general as racist because of pay inequality then they have to concede that the big biggest racial inequality happens in their own party.

America Falling: The Impotence of President Obama

A few days ago President Obama finally announced that the United States will commence with airstrikes in Iraq to push back ISIL.

I want to be on board, I want to cheer, I want to put politics aside and give him credit. But I just can’t; it would be a dishonest to myself. The truth is that it’s great that we are finally going to do something in response to this psychotic terror group but it’s all coming a little too late.

As President Obama said in his speech announcing the strikes:

“When we face a situation like we do on that mountain — with innocent people facing the prospect of violence on a horrific scale, when we have a mandate to help — in this case, a request from the Iraqi government — and when we have the unique capabilities to help avert a massacre, then I believe the United States of America cannot turn a blind eye.”

Except, here’s the problem: the massacre has already happened and much of the damage is done. I can pretty much point to any day from the time it was clear that ISIL was a problem (maybe as far back as January) until now, and be able to name an atrocity ISIL perpetrated. To name a few:

On June 27th, it was reported that ISIL was conducting mass executions of Iranian citizens in Syria and then throwing their bodies over cliffs.

On June 29th, ISIL crucified 9 men in Aleppo.

On July 17, ISIL killed 270 people in an attack on a gas field in Syria.

On July 21st they stoned two women to death for committing adultery.

On July 23rd ISIL killed 31 people in a Baghdad suicide bombing.

ON July 24th ISIL took over a Syrian army base and killed 85 soldiers.

On July 30th ISIL celebrated Eid, a Muslim holiday, by releasing a 30 minute video of a killing spree.

On August 7th ISIL beheaded a group of Christian children and put their heads on stakes for display in a community park.

And now on August 10th ISIL killed 500 Yazidis, buried some alive including women and children.

The list goes on…and on…and on…

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Castles and Masterpieces

This summer I was fortunate enough to take a trip to Europe. I visited 8 countries in 20 days traveling by rail. My itinerary included London, Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Prague, Vienna, Budapest, Venice, Florence, Rome, Naples, and Stockholm. It was the trip of a lifetime.

In each city I visited, I made it a point to see the well-known historical sites, art galleries, and seats of government. I visited castles, viewed masterpieces, and saw three different sets of crown jewels from England, the Czech Republic, and Hungary.

As I rounded the corner in a museum in Florence and laid eyes on the Statue of David, or as I set foot in the Louvre in Paris or Hapsburg Palace in Vienna, it struck me how fortunate I am to live in the age of prevalent democracy and capitalism.

Castles were built for the rich, the powerful, and the few. Commoners and peasants were never intended to see them from within. Now, nearly every castle in Europe is a museum, with an entry fee affordable to any tourist.

Masterpieces of art were commissioned by and for royal families or wealthy aristocrats. For centuries, art was the pastime of the supremely wealthy. The percentage of those who could afford to enjoy the masterpieces of Da Vinci, Botticelli, and Michelangelo – nonetheless own them – would have put today’s concept of “the 1%” to shame.

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An Ode to Cowboy Diplomacy: Why Putin Runs Wild

Sergio Leone’s 1966 epic Western, The Good, The Bad and The Ugly, pits against each other, in clear contrast, the two most basic opposing forces comprising this planet: those who seek to protect the suffering, and those who seek to cause it. In the film’s final showdown, “Blondie” (Clint Eastwood) meets in the cemetery with “Angel Eyes” (Lee Van Cleef) and “Tuco” (Eli Wallach). There is no dialogue, and any noise at all is drowned out by somber tunes of Ennio Morricone’s masterful soundtrack. It’s not that the men can’t talk, can’t shake hands, or can’t try to figure out why they are where they are: they simply understand. They understand who they are: ‘The good’, ‘the bad’, and ‘the ugly’ and that their actions, beliefs, and values will inevitably always come into conflict with each other. Thus, they stay silent. They know what they have to do. As Morricone’s score continues, the men slowly take steps backwards and away from each other, without taking their eyes off of their enemies for a second. There is no sugarcoating it: the men must battle to the death because good and evil cannot both have what they want. They may want to work it out, or play nice with each other, but such a scenario is impossible given the nature of the men at hand. There is no escape for the villainous now, and nor can ‘the good’ run from this test, lest ‘the bad’ should win the day. This, was the way things were settled in the Old West; such is the honor of cowboys.

Today the Associated Press published an article detailing Russian President Vladimir Putin’s refusal to back down or take any responsibility for the murder of nearly 300 people on MH17 by pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine.

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Lawsuit Hypocrisy

As we begin to introduce ourselves over the next few weeks and month you, the reader, will notice that we will often take the time to point out when politicians are well…playing politics rather than being honest with their constituencies.

In this case, about a week ago House Speaker John Boehner announced he would be suing the President for abusing his use of executive action. Political move? No doubt about it. However, it is of note that Democrats responded in shock that Republicans would be so dirty.

During a speech in Texas last Thursday Obama framed the suit as a frivolous political maneuver by Republicans in the face of the Democrats’ struggle to fix the nation: “There’s a great movie called ‘The Departed’ – a little violent for kids. But there’s a scene in the movie where Mark Wahlberg – they’re on a stakeout and somehow the guy loses the guy that they’re tracking. And Wahlberg is all upset and yelling at the guy. And the guy looks up and he says, ‘Well, who are you?’ And Wahlberg says, ‘I’m the guy doing my job. You must be the other guy.’ Sometimes, I feel like saying to these guys, I’m the guy doing my job, you must be the other guy,”

Now, I present to you House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi’s Response to the lawsuit:

“I make of it as subterfuge. As I said they’re doing nothing here. And so they have to give some aura of activity.”

“There really needs to be an adult in that room, of the Republican caucus. I hope the speaker is that adult.”

I mean how dare Boehner challenge Obama for overreaching with his executive power right?

Wait…what’s that? Oh. Let’s take a trip back to 2007 to see Pelosi then:

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Popular Sovereignty

Depicted above is a painting of Charles II, holding in his left hand the “Orb of the Sovereign”, a regal ornament held by the monarch of England during the coronation process. The Orb symbolizes the power of the head of the Church of England. As the name suggests, the Orb belongs to the sovereign – and the only sovereign in a monarchy is the King or Queen.

Sovereignty is the highest authority within a nation. The American Revolution was fought, and won, for sovereignty. Popular Sovereignty is the idea that in a nation of free people, authority is vested in a government by the sovereignty of its citizens, not by a monarch, president, or any single person. As Americans, we consent to be governed. We have designed a system of federal, state, and local administrations that we willingly allow to operate on our behalf. We elect a president to represent us as a nation of sovereign people, and the president is beholden to each of us. We exercise our sovereignty through popular application. Our sovereignty is our birthright – it is instilled at birth, or “natural”, and cannot be taken. The only way we lose our sovereignty is by forfeiting it ourselves.

True conservatism is about safeguarding our sovereignty. After the Revolution, Americans were faced with the task of forming a new government. To function properly, a government must be the only entity that can exercise the authority it has, and it cannot have competition. We need a unified system of leadership, laws, property rights, and recognition on the world stage. Again, this is a concession of power we have made as Americans. Yet therein lies the greatest concern; If government is designed to have no rival, then how can it exist and we simultaneously retain our own sovereignty? The answer is also the mission of conservatism: limits on government.

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