Trump, His Wall, and the American Nightmare

Trump wants his wall, and his current $5.6 billion temper tantrum is an object lesson in playing to the lowest common denominator in American politics.

When I was a child in the late 1970’s, I would regularly visit family around Pittsburgh who made their living in the construction industry. More than a few times, I would meet workers who could barely speak English who were on the work teams my family members would supervise. Invariably, their stories would be about coming north in March to find work, stay until October or November, and return home with money to make it through the winter months. They would talk about cousins who did the same kind of thing in other parts of America, only they were farmers. I knew they came here illegally, but I also knew that part of the reason why my own family was able to make as much money as they did was because of the low wages these workers were willing to accept for low level labor.

Today, I know some people might accuse my family and their employers of being racist for taking advantage of illegal migrant workers, while others would say we are part of the illegal immigration problem. But, my family is an illustration of how this works, a fact that even Trump should be fully aware.

Poor Politicking

Right now, we are watching a battle of political wills between the House and the Oval Office, and as is all too often the case, both sides are wrong. Failing to fix our immigration system while leaving the border as it is now is just as wrong as trying to build a wall (again while failing to fix our immigration system.)

Like it or not, there are many jobs in this country that need to be done at exceedingly low rates, if companies want Americans to be able to afford the end products, whether its fresh produce or buildings, among other things. Before 9/11, President George W. Bush was acutely aware of this, and was preparing to approach Congress with plans for a guest worker program – something that probably would have looked a lot like what Sanctuary Cities were meant to be. It either would have protected migrant workers whose only crime was crossing the border without a visa, or it would have given short-term visas out to anyone who simply wanted to fill low wage labor jobs on a seasonal basis. No matter what, it would have exempted employers from meeting minimum wage requirements with these workers, otherwise it would have defeated the purpose.

The Politics of Fear

That all ended on 9/11, because our focus shifted to keeping terrorists out of our country. Since then, the fear has been kept alive, but now it’s being expanded to include criminals and drug cartels south of our border. Those fears are both of a statistically small group of people – the media and the nature of digital news is why it’s been easy to lionize these threats.

Toddler Tantrums

Now, we have Trump saying he wants to build his wall, and the temper tantrum over it is heading toward the two week mark. He says he doesn’t want to look foolish by cutting a deal – something he sold himself on for decades – but the fact is that this tantrum is what truly makes him a fool.

Reality Checks

First, it’s insane to think that the $5.6 billion he’s fighting over now will be the total bill, no matter how much anyone says it will be. If he would be able to build a wall along the entire border (he can’t, without bending laws of physics and international laws surrounding waterways), there is no way it would only cost that sum. Just the prototype panels cost $2.4 to $4 million each, and putting all of them together wouldn’t cover more than a mile. Don’t get your calculators out to start figuring out how much it really could cost because the prototypes were erected on open land. The cost will be far greater because Trump’s wall will have to be built through unforgiving territory that hasn’t had any man-made barriers all along because the topography did the job on its own. Also, bear in mind that no matter how much Trump wishes it so, the places with the highest levels of illegal crossings can’t have barriers at all anyway because they are waterways. Sure, he could build a wall on the US shorelines, but it would need to be far better than any of those prototypes since it would need to withstand flooding in wet seasons. We’re not even going to get into issues with border towns and businesses straddling the line, and how devastating a wall would be to those residents.

Hypocrisy Reigns

Nancy Pelosi has said that building a wall is immoral, and maybe that’s only partly right. But, it’s not about what she thinks. Trump is the embodiment of hypocrisy with this, because we already should know he has repeatedly reaped the benefits of cheap illegal labor. That includes laborers for Trump Tower itself, and maintenance of his property. Maybe Trump thinks he should get a pass for the Trump Tower workers, since they weren’t from south of the border – they were Polish. But, he definitely doesn’t get a pass on the housekeepers.

American Character

Pelosi was wrong to say that a wall was immoral primarily because she truly doesn’t understand the level of hatred Trump has ginned up across the nation. He has made an art form of playing to the lowest common denominator, and has exploited the hatred of the “other” at every opportunity. We used to be the nation that bought really bad music because it would help pay to feed starving children in Africa. Now, we’re the country that says starving children and families from Venezuela are hell bent on destroying us by attacking our border. It’s true that there have been skirmishes between rock throwing desperate people and heavily armed members of our military, but if anyone is going to hard sell that the rock wielders are a security threat, they need a vacation in a padded room.

The irony here is that at least a few conservatives in the US are taking this opportunity to point out the failures of socialism in Venezuela, while simultaneously playing like Seinfeld’s soup server when it comes to the opportunities offered by freedom. It is yet another example of the cement ceiling mentality that believes the US has reached its apex, and cannot grow business anymore. Or it really is just racism, if these people choose to ignore the statistics that show a majority of immigrants tend to build businesses in America – all we have to do is let them do it. Also, it’s worth noting that sooner or later, someone will probably point out that the dramatic drop in migrant workers from the south taking US dollars back home really did contribute to the collapse of Venezuela, and is part of the financial woes of other Central and South American countries.

The Reality of a Wall

But, back to Trump and his dreams of a wall. Sadly, there are still people out there who are picturing something majestic like this:

The reality is more like this:

Either way, it’s important to recognize that walls aren’t a one-way device. Both China and Berlin have used their walls to keep people in their boundaries. It is foolhardy to assume that the same is not true in the US, especially now as we are dealing with a government shutdown in order for Trump to get money to build one. Doubt that? Try applying for a passport today. You can’t, because Trump’s temper tantrum over the wall has caused that office to be closed.

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Trump, His Wall, and the American Nightmare

Congress is in Session – Hypocrisy Time!

As the 116th Congress gavels into session, it’s time to think about the level of hypocrisy we’re going to see in the coming weeks and months.

If you were paying attention at all, beyond the obvious attempts to end the government shutdown, the House is focusing on a wish list of legislation. Most of the items will be dead on arrival in the Senate, but that doesn’t mean anyone should be dismissing these ideas immediately. Two items in particular shouldn’t be dismissed by Republicans just because they are coming from across the aisle.

10 years of tax returns

Tempting as it might be to continue to “protect the president’s tax returns” game, Republicans need to seriously think about this bill in terms of future Democrat nominees. Picture a future with Mark Zuckerberg or Oprah Winfrey running for the presidency. Seriously, this does need to be considered, since we’re dealing with a former game show host in the Oval Office right now – sorry, but it is the truth.

So, do we really want to see future candidates of that ilk managing to hide their financial dealings when they run for the highest office in the land? No?

Like all legislation, it is important to remember that it will be the law regardless of who is in power, until it is repealed or rendered null by the courts. (Just a hint, but it’s not likely that this kind of law will be considered unconstitutional.) It might sting a bit now, but failing to pass something like this soon could have disastrous effects in the future. If Zuckerberg and Oprah didn’t scare you as examples, think someone like Cher!

Protect the Mueller!

More than a few Republicans have been salivating at the thought of shutting down the Mueller investigation into “Russian collusion” by Trump. Right now, it is important to remember procedure on the Hill. The first shot has already been fired across the bow, even before Nancy Pelosi was officially elected Speaker of the House.

She said impeachment isn’t out of the question.

Scoff if you like, but impeachment is still similar to our regular criminal court system. The House starts the ball rolling, and arguably takes up the job of the prosecutor. There is discovery (i.e., investigation) initiated by that chamber, and then it is turned over to the Senate which theoretically acts as judge and jury.

So, if Republicans kill the Mueller investigation before it is done, they are just begging for Pelosi and the Democrats in the House to start impeachment proceedings. Sure, they might not do it, but is it really worth the gamble? If Mueller is stopped, the House could just tell him to continue anyway, but this time as the start of the impeachment process. That means they could also severely expand the scope of the investigation. (Just a hint here, but that’s something the Republicans really don’t want to happen.)

Confused? Angry? Don’t feel bad about that. Those are just typical reactions to the realities of politicking on the Hill. It’s not pretty. It never was, and never will be. But, at least now it has become somewhat predictable. No matter what, it boils down to political hypocrisy.

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Congress is in Session – Hypocrisy Time!

Ted Cruz and His Re-election Woes

Many conservatives, particularly on social media, practically brag about the fact that they ignore the media if it’s just a little left-leaning. So, it’s safe to say many of them wouldn’t know Ted Cruz’s re-election campaign isn’t doing as well as it could.

When outlets like Alternet can run legitimate stories about someone like Cruz making a major strategic mistake, “Houston, there is a problem.” Like it or not, that left-wing website was spot on when it pointed out that Cruz not appearing on CNN for a debate was literally handing his opposition, Beto O’Rourke, a huge advantage.

CNN already had the hour blocked out for a debate, so they had no problem converting it into a townhall for O’Rourke. Alternet was absolutely right when they suggested O’Rourke will use that time to build himself up, and more importantly, tear down Cruz. Just pointing out to Texans that Cruz couldn’t be bothered to show up for a debate implies that he isn’t particularly concerned with his constituents.

But, this isn’t the first time anyone has pointed out that Cruz’s campaign might be in trouble. Last month Rick Tyler, a former Cruz campaign strategist, said on MSNBC that his former boss might be in trouble this time around. That’s something else that would fall under the radar of those conservatives who are determined to ignore left-wing journalism.

No matter what, it’s difficult to say anything except that Cruz might lose to O’Rourke, and the likely reason for it will be hubris. In this case, both Cruz and conservatives who are choosing to ignore what is happening on the left in Texas are guilty. We’ll just have to wait and see in November if it proves to be a politically fatal mistake.

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Ted Cruz and His Re-election Woes

HotAir – Kavanaugh Is The Poster Child For The Perils Of Politicizing Pain

When my teenage son came home from school today, he announced that his History class was doing something that most high school or college level courses don’t do. They are reading the Declaration of Independence. After his complaints about wading through the archaic writing style, he started asking me about the old Greek triumvirate of persuasive speech and writing – Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. It was fitting, even though it was an untimely interruption during the Senate Judiciary Hearing on Brett Kavanaugh.

I quickly applied the definitions to the situation on the screen, explaining to my son that these hearings should be focused on Ethos, or the character of especially Kavanaugh, since he’s being considered for the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, Pathos, or the emotional arguments, have been ruling the day, primarily because there is a lack of Logos, or logic and reason being applied. It’s an extremely abbreviated lesson for not only the classical Greek forms of persuasion, but also these hearings.

Continue reading at HotAir.com.

Image: By Dan Scavino Jr., White House Director of Social Media and Assistant to the President [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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HotAir – Kavanaugh Is The Poster Child For The Perils Of Politicizing Pain

Senator Jeff Flake and Old-Style Statesmen in the Senate

Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona is currently facing the ire of the right on social media and beyond, presumably because he’s guilty of being a weak traitor.

The problem with that narrative is it discounts something we lost over the past couple decades in Washington. Flake is leaving the Hill, and right now he’s showing exactly why he doesn’t fit in – he’s being an old-style statesman.

First, it’s important to understand the difference between “cutting deals” and simply talking across the aisle. Flake is not in a position to cut any deals with anyone, particularly not in the nomination process of Brett Kavanaugh. In all honesty, no member of the Judiciary Committee has control over what happens next – the debate and vote on Kavanaugh on the Senate floor. That falls on Senator Mitch McConnell, who may or may not take the advice of Senator Chuck Grassley – not Flake – on the timing of the vote on the floor.

Second, it is Friday. Other than being “news dump” day, it is also a time which is difficult for setting schedules. Yes, it is possible that McConnell could schedule debate first thing next week. For that matter, he could try to insist on debates over the weekend. However, that’s not likely. Flake is being attacked for suggesting that the Senate hold off on voting on the Kavanaugh appointment for one week. It’s important to remember that there is process involved here, which can include floor debates. That takes time, and could feasibly take up to a week.

Flake knew both of these things going into his conversations with the Democrat Senators on the Judiciary Committee – honestly, everyone on the committee knew this. People can try to guess why Flake decided to talk about giving the FBI a week to investigate the allegations against Kavanaugh, but regardless of his motivations, it was the right thing to suggest. Arguably, Flake was the only person who could, because he doesn’t have to worry about re-election. It’s true that he was confronted by rape survivors in the Senate building, and that incident may have made him think more sincerely about suggesting the delay. But, while everyone is running around with their heads on fire over what he did, they are forgetting something important.

Kavanaugh supposedly wants to clear his name, but also appeared as though he didn’t want a deeper investigation into what really happened.

At the very least, that is a little strange.

Additionally, there has supposedly been push back from the FBI itself, which has included statements to Fox News that specified the Kavanaugh matter is not a criminal one, but a political one. The FBI does investigations into criminal matters, not political ones. Flake undoubtedly was aware of that report, and also understands that if there is enough pressure from the Hill for an investigation, the FBI will probably conduct one anyway.

Even though it might be tempting to think that McConnell will choose not to request a week long, limited investigation by the FBI because of the political climate on the right, if that is the route he takes it will probably be because of Kavanaugh. And that may also be part of Flake’s reasoning in this token statement about wanting to delay the floor vote. Unfortunately, it’s unlikely anyone will truly know why Flake engaged in talks across the aisle. The people who are so busy screaming about him being a traitor aren’t stopping long enough to think about why he did it. It’s easier to just assume he’s weak, when there are far more moving parts in play.

Of course, that makes it easier for politicians who don’t want to answer hard questions – it’s easy to predict the knee-jerk responses of the highly partisan camps of voters. Then one only has to decide how much damage they can tolerate if they are choosing to do something that will be unpopular with the masses. In Flake’s case, even that variable isn’t in play because he has nothing to lose. So, he’s managing to engage in nuanced statesmanship, while the masses just blinding accuse him of being a traitor. Maybe it really is unfortunate that he isn’t seeking re-election, because that definitely isn’t a “weak” move. It takes far more strength than pandering to the masses.

Image: YouTube Capture

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Senator Jeff Flake and Old-Style Statesmen in the Senate

A Journey Through Four Counties in PA

It has been a few months since I have written anything and I really need to get better at this. Just because I haven’t been writing doesn’t mean I haven’t been on the road. So lets get this thing going.

For many people (especially if you live in the area I do) many people cringe at the words Route 30. Travel on Route 30 through Allegheny and Westmoreland Counties is a nightmare. Four lanes of hell, turning lanes, traffic lights every few feet, tons of traffic, and obviously idiot PA drivers. I avoid the highway as much as possible. However, as you near the eastern edge of Westmoreland County Route 30 changes, it transforms into a peaceful road with great landscapes and very few traffic lights. This part of the highway is more fitting for its original name, the Lincoln Highway.

We will start this blog just outside of Schellsburg, Bedford County. Here there are plenty of rolling green fields and scenic views. When you see the sign that says “Bison Corral” stop in and check it out. You will know you are in the right place if you see the Native American gas pump at the entrance. Depending where the Bison happen to be you may or may not see them here (their fields are located on the opposite side of Lincoln Highway). Make sure you stop inside the gift shop where they sell Bison meat and plenty of Native American items and things to entertain the kiddos. Many of the Native American items are handmade.

Native American Gas Pump
Native American Gas Pump

If you are unable to see the Bison just ask the kind ladies that work the gift shop. They will tell you what field the Bison are in that day and provide you with directions. As a reminder, Bison are very strong powerful animals, for your safety if you stop to see them, please do not go inside the fence. If you have never seen a Bison up close this is a must see location. Just watching them you can see their sheer strength. I stood there for a good 20 minutes just watching these amazing beast. During that time I think I annoyed my boys by repeating the word, “tatanka”, yes a Dances With Wolves reference (I did put my fingers up like horns also).

Bison
Bison Farm in Bedford County, PA

Continuing along in Bedford County and along the Lincoln Highway, in the small town of Manns Choice you will find a building passed by many but the history is known by very few. Today the building sits empty, a unique and interesting building. Last serving as an antiques store, the building was once known as the Best Little Brothel in Pennsylvania. Yes that’s right, at one time it was a whore house. Legend says it was a very popular place and is currently occupied by a few lost spirits.

Best Little Brothel in PA
Best Little Brothel in PA

The building was built in 1777 and served as a hotel. The first floor was the bar area, the second floor was where the higher class working girls had their rooms and the third floor was reserved for the lower class, cheaper ladies of the night.

The story goes a woman with her room on the second floor was providing a man she had an interest in with free “favors”. The woman’s husband had found out and kicked in the door to the room, shooting the male. The woman in the middle of this fled the room and hid in the closest of a neighboring room. Her husband quickly found her and in a rage of anger stabbed her to death. He then took her lifeless body and hung it from the closest door. Many people have reported a dark uneasy feeling when they enter the second floor and neighbors report odd things occur there after dark. While photographing the building I felt as if I was being watched and even had to double take looking at the building thinking I seen someone one the second floor. It was enough of a feeling that I chose not to get closer like I wanted. Maybe next time.

As we continue east on Lincoln Highway, this time near the town of Everett in Bedford County you will come across something that will catch your eye for sure. Located at the entrance to the Down River Golf Course stands a Giant Quarter and I mean giant. The quarter has a 20 foot diameter and weighs nearly 1 ton. The idea and the quarter was made by students of the Bedford County Technical Center. They chose a quarter for the Lincoln Highway project because of George Washington’s strong ties to Bedford County area.

Giant Quarter
Giant Quarter

Before we depart Bedford County lets make one more stop. Located on the outskirts of the town of Bedford at the county fairgrounds stand an unusual building along the Lincoln Highway. Built in 1927, the 18-ft. high Coffee Pot was originally a lunch place adjoining a gas station. In 1937 it became a bar, with a hotel built in behind it. The build ended up vacant and falling apart, becoming an eyesore.

Coffee Pot Building
Coffee Pot Building

With the buildings fate unknown the people of Bedford stepped in to save the attraction. In 2003 the Bedford County Fair Association paid $1 to purchase it, and the Lincoln Highway Heritage Park Corridor, an attraction preservation group, spent $80k to move the building across the street to the fairgrounds and restore it in 2004. Today the unique building stands on display for people to marvel at.

Moving further to Franklin County, made a stop that many people are probably not familiar with. Easy to find but definitely not on the main road to anywhere we find a monument to the only U.S. President to come from the Commonwealth.

James Buchanan Birthplace Pyramid
James Buchanan Birthplace Pyramid

James Buchanan served as the 15th President of the United States. While many people have varying opinions of him as a President, he is the only Pennsylvanian to live in the White House. Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park is a 18.5 acre PA State park located near Cove Gap in the Tuscarora Mountains. The park was created from land donated by Harriet Lane in honor of her uncle.

James Buchanan Birthplace Pyramid
James Buchanan Birthplace Pyramid

The pyramid is 38 feet square and 31 feet high. It is made of 45 tons of American Gray Granite and 250 tons of mortar and native stones. Construction of the pyramid began in October 1907 with a work force of 20 men. They built a small railroad to haul the heavy materials from the mountainside to the construction site. The work force grew to 35 men and the monument was completed by late winter with a surrounding iron railing. The Pennsylvania General Assembly of 1911 accepted the monument from the trust of Harriet Lane Johnston and Buchanan’s Birthplace State Park was formally established.

Making our way back west we move into Huntingdon County. During my journeys one of my favorite things to see and come across are Mail Pouch Barns. I have come to learn that many times these barns are gone after researching their locations. On a recent trip I struck out three times on Mail Pouch Barns and expected number four to be the same. Until I arrived, I was immediately filled with excitement. Surrounded with beautiful landscapes the barn I was expecting was much much more. I had come across an even rarer structure, a Red Man Barn! Thankfully the parking was not the greatest or I would have stayed there longer just looking.

Red Man Barn
Red Man Barn

Moving along in Huntingdon County, located on private property that restricted us from exploring more we located Huntingdon Iron Furnace. The iron furnace was moved to this site in 1805, from its original site one mile upstream. It measures 30 feet square by 30 feet high. One thing I have noticed researching these old iron furnaces is that many were not in operation for that long. Huntingdon Furnace is a different story, it first fired in 1796 and remained in operation until 1880.

Huntingdon Iron Furnace
Huntingdon Iron Furnace

On a trip that covered Blair and Huntingdon Counties while visiting many places we also made time to do a little train photography. One of my favorite locations out here for trains is the train station in Tyrone, PA in Blair County. We arrived at this location for the main purpose of photographing Amtrak but got an extra treat when we arrived. On this trip there were three of us, besides myself I had my friends Dave and Kim along. Again Dave and I were like two kids on Christmas getting to photograph the Nittany & Bald Eagle RR as they interchanged with Norfolk Southern.

Nittany & Bald Eagle Railroad
Nittany & Bald Eagle Railroad

A few minutes later Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian arrived making a stop before it, like us continued east that day.

Eastbound Pennsylvanian
Eastbound Pennsylvanian

As we work on closing up this blog of some of my recent trips, I figure I should save some for future blogs. We will end in Somerset County, PA. On  a rather wet morning after a night of rain me and my two sons visited Cole Run Falls. The falls is located in Forbes State Park which covers multiple counties. Cole Run Falls is near Rockwood in Somerset County, PA. From the parking location you can hear the water run over the falls. A short walk down the trail brings you to the top of the falls.

Cole Run Falls
Cole Run Falls

From the top of the falls there is a trail that leads down a pretty steep and rocky hillside. The rain the night before provided plenty of water over the falls but made getting to the bottom a little tricky. Once down there though the view was worth it.

Cole Run Falls
Cole Run Falls

I am not sure how much of this is truth or local legend but I did read in my research that the falls gets its name from a fugitive that was once on run from the law. He took up residence in the area of the falls to hide from those perusing him. Again, I am not sure what is fact and legend but thought it was something interesting that should be shared. When the legend becomes becomes fact, print the legend, right?

A quick stop in Meyersdale at the former Western Maryland Train Station. The station was built in 1910  and known as “The Finest Station between Cumberland and Connellsville”. Today, the former station serves as home to the Meyersdale Historical Society and a rest stop along the Great Allegheny Passage Bike Trail. Inside the station it is packed with interactive model train layouts for kids and adults on one side, a small gift shop, and two rooms packed with the history of Meyerdale, railroading in the area, and the station. Outside is a former C&O caboose you can visit.

Meyersdale Historical Society
Meyersdale Historical Society

After departing the Meyersdale Historical Society we were traveling down Route 160, the Cumberland Pike and one of those moments occurred when nature provides you with the opportunity. Of course that opportunity didn’t allow me to pull over and photograph it. Lucky for me, my navigator (my oldest son Tyler) quickly went to work to locate a place to park. Racing down the two lane high way he found a great spot at St. John’s United Methodist Church. From here we had a great view of the wind mills playing a game of Peek-a-Boo in the clouds.

Peek-A-Boo Wind Mills
Peek-A-Boo Wind Mills

The spot Tyler found for the wind mills also provided us with a great view of the green rolling hills Somerset County has to offer. On this day we were staying a step ahead of more rain. In the distance you can see a herd of cows grazing the vast amounts of green grass under cloudy skies.

Rolling Hills of Somerset County, PA
Rolling Hills of Somerset County, PA

Our final stop for the day we were out and the final stop for this blog is a place of true heroism, patriotism, and remembrance. One of the most peaceful places I have ever visited and a place I always stop at when in the area. For those of us that lived through it and experienced our generations version of Pearl Harbor, we will never forget where and what we were doing on September 11, 2001. Here we are at the Flight 93 National Memorial.

Flight 93 Final Path
Flight 93 Final Path

As you approach the newer educational center you quickly notice the black walkway. This walkway leads you down the final flight path of Flight 93. The narrow opening represents the plane being sideways just before nosediving into the ground at a speed between 563 – 580 mph. The walkway leads you out to an observation deck overlooking the Wall of Names.

Flight 93 Wall of Names
Flight 93 Wall of Names

When you are standing on the observation deck at the educational center, it gives you a vast view of the park, the Wall of Names and the Boulder of Heroes. While standing here alone you only here the wind whispering in your ear. While standing here with other people many people say the same thing, “The wind sounds as if the heroes are talking to you.”

Granite Walkway
Granite Walkway

From the educational center you can choose to walk or drive down to the Wall of Names. As you approach it from the parking area you walk down a long dark granite walkway. In the distance you can see the wall in front of you, to your left in the distance is the Boulder of Heroes, and to the right on the hill is the educational center.

Wall of Names
Wall of Names

Standing at the far right from the Wall of Names just taking everything in. While standing here I have to admit I did become slightly angry. Standing here just watching and listening I noticed many kids being loud and running around with the parents not caring. This is meant to be a place of honor, serenity, and remembrance. Parents, if you can’t keep your children under control then don’t bring them here, in my opinion this is highly disrespectful acts.

Boulder of Heroes
Boulder of Heroes

When standing at the Wall of Names you will notice to the right of the wall is a large wooden wall you can look through. Through here you can see a large boulder, alone in the field. This is the Boulder of Heroes, the final resting place for the 40 souls of the passengers and crew will forever rest. Access to this area is highly restricted to park officials and family members of those killed. From my understanding, anytime a family member comes to visit the area is closed down and visitors are not permitted at the wall. This is to allow the family peace while they are there.

Wall of Names, Final Path
Wall of Names, Final Path

The final photograph for this series is a favorite of mine from the Flight 93 Wall of Names. Many times those coming here to visit will leave flowers or other small gifts for the sacrifice these 40 people made to protect their fellow Americans. The Bible states in John 15:13,  “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Flight 93 is the proof of this. We will never know the number of lives saved by these 40 sons, daughters, mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, grand parents, husbands, wives, friends, and strangers that unselfishly gave up their own.

I hope your enjoyed this Journey through Four Counties in PA. For more photographs of these places and many more please take a few minutes and check out and “Like” Patriot Portraits on Facebook and follow me on Flickr.

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A Journey Through Four Counties in PA

Why the RNC ‘Unhinged’ Ad Lacks Impact

“The Left in 2018: Unhinged” is the latest brainchild of the RNC, but it’s probably not going to make the impact that they had hoped.

While it’s true that the ad really is a decent collection of people on the left behaving badly, the fact is that people on both sides of the political spectrum have mostly reached a “state of meh” on the matter. Are Republicans still disgusted and annoyed by these vignettes? Sure. Are Democrats going to suddenly feel more ashamed than they have by these outbursts? Probably not. So, the ad’s existence isn’t moving anyone because it’s just illustrating the status quo.

If the RNC was hoping to cause anyone they featured in the video to feel the least bit ashamed, those hopes have been dashed. You know you’ve failed at public shaming when the celebrities are owning their bad behavior over on Deadline Hollywood.

In fact, the Republicans made a calculated error when they added the Kathy Griffin image with “Trump’s head.” Griffin rightfully questioned the situation, pointing out that when she did it, the primary complaint was that the photo frightened Barron Trump. So, the RNC is “okay” with scaring a First Child for the sake of a political ad?

Of course, there’s the obvious – the left has no problem owning their “unhinged” behavior because they believe that’s the only response. America is “crazy town” to them, because Donald Trump was elected president in the first place. They’re just fighting fire with fire. And honestly, the RNC might be proving the left’s theory with this ad. Sorry, but pouring gasoline on the outrage bonfire isn’t helpful, and does nothing to educate the public about anything that the Trump administration is actually doing. True, policy talk can be boring, but at least it isn’t more playing to the lowest common denominator.

Image: Photo by Elijah O’Donell on Unsplash

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Why the RNC ‘Unhinged’ Ad Lacks Impact

Anthony Scaramucci as the Adult in the Room?

When you have to admit that former Trump staffer Anthony Scaramucci is being the adult in the room, you know things are getting bad.

Anthony Scaramucci doesn’t have a reputation for being level-headed – on the contrary, he’s often characterized as a loose cannon. But, this week he’s showing signs of wisdom, in a way that few could have predicted.

Scaramucci actually bothered to suggest that Trump’s war of words on Twitter might be a very bad idea, at least in the context of the latest spat. Congresswoman Maxine Waters has been trying to gin up her supporters, and encourage them to act against members of the Trump administration whenever they are seen in public. This came in the wake of the Red Hen restaurant asking Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders to leave.

Trump doubled down on the situation by making a veiled threat on Twitter against Waters:

And Scaramucci said this was “obviously not acceptable” during an interview on CNN. The fact that he was the messenger for this contention is notable to say the least.

Generally speaking, the rest of what Scaramucci had to say on the matter is absolutely correct. The verbal volleying between Trump and his detractors bears a resemblance to sophomoric taunting in a high school locker room. While some people are calling for civility – or in Scaramucci’s case, calling for the president to rise above the fray – the majority of the most vocal people on both sides of the aisle are intent on playing a game of linguistic limbo. The only question is “how low will they go?”

For those who bother to think about how future generations will view us, it’s fair to guess that Trump’s America will go down in history as one of the most counter-productive and mendacious administrations. It doesn’t matter what is accomplished, because everything will be viewed through a glass covered in mud. Scaramucci is right – it is time to stop playing like spoiled children, grow up, and focus on what is important. Or Trump can go down in history for being dragged down into the muck of the swamp he claimed he wanted to drain.

Image: DonkeyHotey

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Anthony Scaramucci as the Adult in the Room?

Trump and Political Dissent Through Internet Pranks

Trump already knows that his immigration policy is unpopular among many Americans, but now it’s being featured through a spoof site.

If Trump thought that his people were thorough when it came to buying out domains that are related to his business and name, he just found out that he was wrong. Gizmodo reported that some internet pranksters got their hands on the domain TrumpHotels.org, and are drawing attention to the detention camps that have sprung up near our southern border.

Of course, the response to this will be predictable – Trump supporters will complain, and detractors will cheer. But, there will also be calls for the site to be pulled down, essentially calling for the government to curtail the First Amendment rights of the people who created the site.

As a president, Trump is entitled to be kept safe, but he is not entitled to being protected from having his views attacked. On the contrary, that is one of the bedrock rights enshrined in the First Amendment – we have been granted free speech and press for the purpose of holding our leaders accountable.

When there are calls for the removal of this site, it is important to recognize the hypocrisy involved. It is a fair guess that these same people had spent a fair amount of time pushing anti-Obama information during the last presidency. While they might point out that social media sites like Facebook attempted to silence them when they would do this, the comparison is nowhere near equivalent. Pushing politically charged information on a privately held website like Facebook is not the same as publishing content on a domain one has purchased.

As for this TrumpHotels.org website, Trump is free to make offers to buy out the domain, and would be smart to keep a watch on it so that he could buy it up if the current owners happen to let it lapse. Otherwise, they’re free to do as they like with it, provided that they do not publish content calling for people to do harm to the president or any other criminal activities. Poking fun at Trump, or calling his policies into question in the public forum are not crimes, period.

While it’s easy to complain about this site, perhaps a better response from those who dislike it would be to start similar sites of their own. Tempting as it may be to keep up with the complaining about Hillary Clinton, it’s time to move on. She has officially retired from political life, and honestly isn’t a serious contender for any office at this point. So, do some homework. Who are the real potential contenders for 2020 on the Democrat side? Are there any candidates in the mid-terms who are just begging for satirical attention? But, don’t be a hypocrite.

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Trump and Political Dissent Through Internet Pranks

How Hollywood Can Halt DC

Hollywood writers may have inadvertently stumbled upon a powerful political tool that is in their grasp. The question is, will they really use it?

A handful (or more) shows currently are dealing with a voluntary “walk-out” by their writing teams. The cause is simple enough – the writers are fed up with Trump’s immigration policies. The challenge started with One Day at a Time and Vida, but has been joined by several other shows.

Generally speaking, this isn’t earth-shattering to the entertainment industry, but at least these writers are putting their money where their mouths are. In addition to striking, some are raising money for legal defense funds for the people caught in the middle – the ones who are having their children taken away from them.

The writers are also reminding the public that many of the people being detained at the border are actually asylum seekers.

It’s an issue that is getting lost in the heated rhetoric, but needs to be said. Most Americans should be aware of the fact that the countries of origin for many of these people are dictatorships – officially, or essentially. Yes, the people are fleeing from lives in poverty, but many of them are also seeking asylum because they have been targeted for death.

Because it’s a relatively small number of writers involved at this point, this protest isn’t likely to cause anyone in Washington to do anything. Arguably the conservatives who would need to act won’t, because their base would prefer to see those shows off the air anyway. Sorry, but the radical conservative followers of Trump might actually be rejoicing to see the writers of Handmaid’s Tale on strike.

The history of Hollywood writers’ strikes should be seen as a cautionary tale.

If the people in Hollywood truly are fed up with the bad behavior in Washington, maybe they should be looking back at 2007-2008. From November 2007 through February 2008, the Writers Guild of America went on strike, and Americans saw quite a lot of reruns. It was a relatively short strike, and the hardest hit shows were soap operas. However, there were few people in the country who were completely unaware of it.

The writers, because they were fighting to get higher pay, probably would have had some trouble getting sympathy and support from television show fans if that strike had gone on for a long period of time. But, what would the public response be if there was a strike over a political cause?

It is no secret that the political landscape of America is shaped by a very small percentage of the public. Activists have complained about this fact for years, while political campaign strategists have banked on it to put less-than-savory candidates into office. But, if politics spilled over to the point where even those who are blissfully unaware of the issues of the day were forced to pay attention, that small game could change.

We’ll have to see if Hollywood catches on to this concept. If it does, or if the Writers Guild of America decided to go on strike over this issue, Trump might find out exactly how popular he really is. Then he would have the full attention of the people who haven’t been watching the news.

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How Hollywood Can Halt DC