Edmund Burke vs Thomas Paine on July 4th

By Daniel Hong

Happy 4th to all my fellow Americans, and happy 242nd birthday America!! In 1776 the birth of a Nation has brought about blessings, prosperity and happiness to a great many people not just Americans. For that in the year 2018, I find much to celebrate. However, even though there are still many things to be thankful for I cannot help but honestly admit that there are parts of me that wallows in what America is becoming. There are many issues to discuss but one thing that has been a focus has been the polarization of this country. Recent events reflect that as Sarah Huckabee Sanders can tell you. Antifa vs the Alt Right and even the President himself who many blame to be the cause (wrongly), reflect the harsh divisions and differences that this One Nation under God should be better than. Now let me be clear this is nothing new, after all we had a civil war, 1968 is a year many baby boomers would like to forget and these are only a few examples. I take personal responsibility for not being as graceful towards my fellow citizens as I should be. I encourage every American to do the same and reflect on our bitter divisions and see how we the people can form a better union as the U.S. Constitution still states after all these years.

With that said I believe going back in our history and reading through documents like our beloved U.S. Constitution and the Declaration of Independence is very important, as these documents are vital parts of our Nation’s birth and continuance. However, instead of me explaining the Revolutionary War and how things came to be, watch this speech from the political analyst and the founding editor of the National Affairs, Yuval Levin. His presentation is based off of his book The Great Debate, one of the most unique books that I have ever read. He speaks of the Declaration of Independence being itself a polarizing document, with the main paradox being the radical idea of overthrowing the government to the conserving of the English tradition. What Mr. Levin helped me with was the idea that the other side (the progressives) despite our disagreements and disputes are as much of an American as myself. It is the perfect debate for today’s age and I highly recommend on this beautiful day to take an hour of your day to watch this (and read the book whenever you get a chance).

The Great Debate Burke vs Paine

 

On the LeBron vs. Jordan Debate

Beatles or Zeppelin? Godfather or Goodfellas? Jordan or LeBron? Some debates seemingly have no end. LeBron vs. Jordan is officially in that category – there will never be a consensus on this topic and I’m not sure there ever should be. It’s a fascinating, dynamic debate for which it is difficult find a starting point, let alone a path to navigate. But that doesn’t mean we can’t try.

The LeBron vs. Jordan debate has raged on for the better part of the past decade. Jordan loyalists refuse to concede any ground to LeBron lovers, which makes for arguments characterized by a cartoonish antagonism that prevents them from showing the most basic respect to someone who has been the best player in the NBA for over a decade. LeBron lovers are a bit more grounded, though just showing Jordan anything resembling a semblance of respect would qualify as being more grounded than the average Jordan loyalist. So who is better? Who knows, though perhaps a bit more analysis will help me come to a conclusion.

One of the failures of this debate is the insistence of its participants on making it about statistics and accolades. There really is no need to get into either one. The statistical debate is a tie in the best case for Jordan and a decisive victory for LeBron in the worst case for Jordan. That’s the long and short of it. Discussing accolades is likewise a wash and largely irrelevant to getting to the meat of the debate. Luckily for Jordan loyalists I’m not a pure stats guy, nor do I believe anybody should be. As important as statistics and analytics are, and as large a role as they have played in in transforming today’s game, basketball doesn’t exist on a stat sheet. Basketball exists on the hardwood and as such the human element plays a big role in determining games, making intangible factors an undeniable element of any coherent conversation regarding the game. If Jordan is to win it is largely based on this argument, and he has one hell of a case in his favor. Let’s compare the case for both.

The case for LeBron is a lengthy one. It includes the heights his game has reached and his sustained greatness, both of which separate him from all other all-time greats. His statistics are unlike anyone else’s we’ve ever seen – nobody else is expected to register 27/7/7 on 50% shooting night in, night out. For most NBA players that’s a career night. For LeBron that’s a Tuesday, and one for which he can expect endless criticism. Especially in the playoffs. He has been putting these numbers up and performing at an MVP level for a dozen years. He has repeatedly shown that he can play the game at a level previously thought impossible, at times looking like he can beat an NBA team with four high school varsity players as his teammates. His game seems to age like wine, as I and all sports fans ran out of superlatives to describe his level of play in the 2018 playoffs. We’ve never seen an individual run like LeBron’s 15 years in the NBA in any sport.

On the court he is instinctive and intellectual, breathtaking and inspiring, a marvel of human exceptionality. As a leader he is an outgoing, high-level communicator with more of a firm touch than a domineering presence. One gets the sense that teammates would rather not disappoint LeBron more than they are scared of pissing him off. He is infamously unselfish, a trait which is oddly the basis for much criticism. He is perhaps too loyal to his teammates, making front office demands which have led to players such as James Jones, J.R. Smith, and Tristan Thompson getting rewarded with roster spots and big contract extensions.

Fifteen years in and basketball fans still can’t believe they are witnessing his brute physicality and unique athleticism. He has iconic playoff and Finals moments – all one has to say is no-headband LeBron or The Block or 25 straight – and NBA fans immediately know the reference. He can defend every position on the floor – well. He is impossible to guard and an absolute force of nature in the open court. LeBron has revolutionized the game forever moving forward and, in short, it is seemingly impossible to overstate his greatness.

Jordan, likewise, has a great case in his favor. He averaged 30/6/5 on 50% shooting for his career, which includes two seasons at the ages of 38 and 39 in which he averaged 22.09 and 20.0 ppg, respectively, for the Washington Wizards. He is the most iconic athlete in all of history. He is a player whose athletic gifts and abilities made him seem more like an artist than an athlete, which is a stark contrast to the sheer brute strength and athleticism of LeBron. As such his highlight reel is as aesthetically pleasing as any in all of sports. He is as defined by his competitiveness and determination as he is his incredible abilities, whereas the most legitimate criticisms of LeBron are those which question his competitive drive and desire. Jordan was a killer on the court from day one. LeBron, however, has only recently begun to make a case for such a label. He imposed his will through sheer determination; LeBron seems to have been born to dominate and does so seemingly without trying. Jordan was a defensive menace who, while not as versatile as LeBron, was an absolute shut down defender night in and night out. He won both a scoring title and defensive player of the year award in the same season. He rightly earned a reputation as one of the most clutch athletes in the history of American sports. He is the most influential basketball player of all time. Jordan revolutionized the game forever before LeBron did and helped the game reach a global audience through his transcendent ability. If there were ever an argument for the natural revelation in sports, Michael Jordan playing basketball would be it.

As a leader Michael was a ferocious and domineering presence, entirely unlike LeBron’s outgoing, friendly leadership style. The stories of Michael Jordan in the locker room and practice are legendary, from the merciless teasing of teammates performing below Jordan’s standards to the intensity Jordan brought everywhere he went, his presence could not be ignored. Just ask Steve Kerr. Teammates would either shape up or be shipped out because Michael Jordan suffers no fools. It’s hard to imagine Jordan putting up with a J.R. Smith, let alone embracing him. It’s just as hard to see Jordan advocating for big contracts for players such as Tristan Thompson, who looks about as comfortable with a basketball in his hands as he does in a faithful monogamous relationship. Jordan understood these moves would handicap a team, especially in a salary cap driven league. LeBron demands such players be given large contracts because he likes them; Jordan has the kind of cut throat personality that would allow him to say “screw those guys” and demand that his GM sign winners. I don’t think Jordan has any friends. Jordan understood that if he had to rely on a J.R. Smith or a Tristan Thompson come Finals time his chances at that next ring were smaller than they had to be. LeBron either does not understand this or thinks he can overcome such ineptitude. Point, Jordan.

In short, the biggest distinctions between the two are idiosyncratic. It is in their personality quirks where the two differ most, certainly more than their on-court production. There are endless debates to be had about who is the more productive player on the court. These are debates with no possible way of being settled, as rule changes and the evolution of the game have made such things impossible to quantify and compare. The stat nerds and those who bow down at the altar of analytics will try, but they are making the same arrogant mistake all materialists make – they truly believe they can quantify the human element. Does anyone expect Jordan to be any less productive in a more athletic, less physical, faster paced league? Likewise, does anyone really think the hand check rule or a more physical game would have made LeBron any less productive? The answer to both questions is an obvious and resounding “no”. The degree to which their production would be affected is something that cannot be quantified by simply “adjusting for pace”, as the stat nerds would suggest. These are impossible and, I’d argue, foolish points to debate as they cannot be reliably quantified. As such, the argument for Jordan or LeBron comes down to one’s preference in personality and playing style. In that case, give me Jordan.

Jordan loyalists, however, completely overplay their hand. Inherent to their arguments is the notion that Jordan would have led LeBron’s Cleveland teams to victory in 2015, 2017, and now 2018. That’s absurd. We don’t even know if Jordan would have dragged those teams to the Finals, though I find it hard to believe that Jordan would have lost to either DeMar Derozan or whatever the rookie in Boston’s name is. Outside of favorable injuries to Golden State there is no way in hell the Cavs could have won either of those series and it’s a miracle that they won in 2016, so such suggestions are absurd and should be treated a such.

It is, however, likelier that Jordan would have helped Miami win in 2011 – Jordan was a killer from day one and would never have played hot potato with the ball the way LeBron did in that series. On the other hand, does Jordan bring the Cavs back from down 3-1 in the 2016 Finals? Does Jordan even allow that to happen? Those two questions are up for debate, as is the 2014 Finals which featured a machine-like Spurs team going up against a paper-thin Miami roster. I’ll let the reader speculate on those situations. Perhaps I’ll revisit them in another column.

Ultimately, Jordan wins based on being the more reliable player – there is no history of Jordan shrinking in the biggest moments. The killer instinct running through his veins can never be shut off, nor can the demands placed on those around him by him. While I can understand how one can think LeBron is better, I disagree on the basis of what qualities I want in a leader. LeBron being considered the GOAT in no way diminishes Jordan and is completely understandable. I still take Jordan though.

I came into writing this piece thinking I would take LeBron over Jordan. I’m starting to realize I was seduced by the moment and his other-worldly level of play over the past four years. Since returning to the Cavs he has somehow been better than he was in Miami and none of the Cavs failures in the Finals rest on his shoulders. Absolutely none. Upon further review, however, I realize what I value most in a player. Consistency in terms of competitiveness and late-game killer instinct swing the entire debate for me. While late-stage LeBron has completely shed the ghosts of 2011 and the earlier portion of his career, when the killer instinct simply wasn’t there, he loses some points for ever having to shed those ghosts in the first place. Jordan, from day one, was Jordan. You knew who you were getting – a competitor, a killer, and a complete jerk. I value that consistency over LeBron’s erratic, moody behavior even if I have to concede that it might come at the cost of a bit more production. It’s just easier to build around.

5 Country Songs for Father’s Day

Fathers Day

By Daniel Hong

The family is the building block of society and tomorrow is a day of honor for the head of the household, our fathers. Growing up in my late teenage years country music had a special way of portraying father-son relationships and fatherhood. It has really shaped the way I think and act, specifically it helps me to honor my father just as it did with my mother (my previous Mothers Day blog should be evidence of that).

Music is a powerful medium and it should be no wonder why culture is shaped so heavily by it in both good and bad ways. It is why country music is my favorite genre, yes banjos, fiddles, steel guitars and the sounds they produce are a big part, but its the powerful imagery, relatability and narratives that captured my heart during my late teenage years. These 7 songs were instrumental to me and I believe it captures the mood, experiences and the heart of fathers day. I hope whether one is a father or a child that these songs can touch their hearts and minds as it did mine.

 

Walking in my Fathers Shoes – Craig Morgan

Craig Morgan is a successful country music artist and an US Army Veteran, this song clearly speaks of his fathers role in shaping him. The “That’s what I love about Sunday” singer co-wrote this song and with a soothing ballad composition, he tells the story of his father being there for him, being a responsible man, and teaching him those same values setting the standard for him to do the same. The powerful rising chorus speaks for itself:

I’m walking in my father’s shoes
He’s never let me down
That’s a lot to live up to
Stumbling falling
Tryin’ to stand tall in
Walking in my father’s shoes

Walk a Little Straighter Daddy – Billy Currington

Billy Currington has had an interesting career after this successful hit song with a traditional country ballad composition that really put him on the map, his music has evolved to say the least for the better or for the worst. Regardless, though the singer portrayed in this song has gone through drastic changes he unlike Craig Morgan has had a more quiet but albeit still a somewhat successful career. Also in contrast with Craig Morgan who had a father that showed him the ropes, this tear jerking ballad written by Currington himself talks of his father constantly falling short, not being there for him, being an alcoholic, and one can just feel the heartbreak in this song. However, in a tremendous display of character instead of holding bitterness the singer encourages his father in this manner through this heart grabbing chorus:

Walk a little straighter daddy 
You’re swaying side to side 
You’re footsteps make me dizzy 
And no matter how I try 
I keep tripping and stumbling 
If you’d look down here you’d see 
Walk a little straighter daddy 
You’re leading me 

In a country where the family model is breaking down with fathers being a big part, this is a song that will sympathize with many sons and daughters in America on fathers day.

Watching You – Rodney Atkins 

Changing the tempo going from two slow ballads we come to a moderate uptempo song co-written and sung by Rodney Atkins. If you notice a pattern here and what makes country music so special to many fans is that these artists not only write these songs themselves (not that other genre singers don’t do these things but it is a very common tradition within country music for artists to write most of their songs), but specifically write their personal experiences in a relatable manner . It brings an air of authenticity into their craft and helps the listener really connect with the artist.  Speaking of which authentic and honest are good words to describe this song as Atkins was motivated by his son singing his first hit song (in the same album as this single) “If your going through hell (Even the Devil knows)” in front of his teacher school. He saw the special father-son relationship, especially the imitating nature of the child as the old adage says like father like son. He is not scared to share his shortcomings in verse 1 that his child picks up, while sharing the good in verse 2, all of that as he builds up to this catchy chorus:

He said, “I’ve been watching you, dad, ain’t that cool?
I’m your buckaroo, I wanna be like you
And eat all my food, and grow as tall as you are
We like fixing things and holding mama’s hand
Yeah, we’re just alike, hey, ain’t we, dad?
I wanna do everything you do
So I’ve been watching you.”

Its a very fun and lighthearted song that propelled Rodney Adkins to number 1 on the Billboard Country Music Chart and gave him some traction on the Top 100 chart reaching the peak at 36 (pretty good for a country song). It was definitely a successful 2nd Album released in 2006, but unfortunately due to the climate of Country Music at the turn of the decade with Pop “Country” infiltrating the genre led by the rise of Taylor Swift and company, along with the rise of the repugnant and detestable Bro-Country and his own personal shortcomings Adkins has gone irrelevant to say the least. However, this song is definitely a good one on father’s day to reminisce on ones own experiences either from the fathers point of view as Atkins does in this song or from the child’s.

A Love Without End, Amen – George Strait

Often dubbed by fans as “The King of Country” few have reached the legendary status of George Strait (regardless of the music genre) and is debated by some to be the greatest country artist of all time. One of the leaders in bringing about what many call a golden age of country music in the 1990’s by bringing it back to its traditional roots (labeled as Neo-Traditional now) and coming to prominence with hits like “Amarillo by Morning” in the 1980’s, George Strait in 1990 (ironically) released a number 1 hit song on the Billboard Country Chart with this midtempo country ballad and really captured the heart of what it means to be a father. This song takes the listener on a journey from the point of view of the singer who starts as a child in verse 1 and learning what his fathers love is all about, then in verse 2 transitions into a father himself learning to give that same love and finally verse 3 uses religious christian imagery to bring the singer before the ultimate “father” at heaven’s gate before finally receiving the greatest love from God. Each accompanied by this short but crucial chorus talking about the father’s love:

Let me tell you a secret about a father’s love
A secret that my daddy said was just between us
He said daddies don’t just love their children every now and then
It’s a love without end, amen
It’s a love without end, amen

Whats unique about George Strait from the other artists thus far is that he did not write this song and is one of the few successful country artists who rarely wrote his own songs. Regardless, Strait has shown a knack for picking hit songs and singing them like his own like no other which is also a talent for any musician in any genre, but the more important thing is the story behind this song written by Aaron Barker. The beauty and artistic nature of this song is how he’s able to work towards the core and workings of fatherhood throughout the song and it is a good contemplative song for father’s day. As a Christian myself, the religious imagery is an added bonus as human fatherhood’s foundation is the ultimate fatherhood of God, the father.

Drive (For Daddy Gene) – Alan Jackson

Other than George Strait, probably no one but Alan Jackson comes as close to the king of country in terms of popularity and leading the 1990’s wave of traditional country back into the mainstream. Jackson is your classic underdog story coming from small town rural roots and making it big debuting at a somewhat late age of 31. While George Strait was a phenom, he was cleaning tables at restaurants while trying to find an opportunity which he depicts in one of his earlier hits “Chasin that Neon Rainbow“. A true country artist down to the core, and a man with genuine authenticity and a big heart is someone you want to root for. A tall man standing around 6,4-6,5 the man is very gentle and unlike Strait has penned many of his own hits, often bringing his Christian faith, love for his fellow man and good meaning into his songs. Even many non country fans will know this man due to his heartfelt and inspiring song bringing a nation together with his well deserved hit “Where were you (when the world stopped turning)” after the tragic events of 9/11. However, a unique talent that Alan Jackson has is that he can bring in his small town roots in his songs in a simple manner, while drawing deep meaning from them using metaphors and imagery. He does this masterfully in this song which was penned as a tribute to his father who passed away by simply reminiscing on that time he learned to drive from his dad. An uptempo and exciting song he takes the listener on a journey from that time he learned to drive, to when he taught his own daughters to drive while deriving joy from that experience, which is depicted from the chorus:

It was just an old hand-me-down Ford
With three-speed on the column and a dent in the door
A young boy two hands on the wheel
I can’t replace the way it made me feel
And I would press that clutch
And I would keep it right
And he’d say, a little slower son you’re doing just fine
Just a dirt road with trash on each side
But I was Mario Andretti
When Daddy let me drive

Though not quite as exciting my driving experience despite the bickering back and forth between me and my father, it is one of those unique experiences that this song helps me reminisce on as I honor my father tomorrow. It’s unique in the sense that it symbolizes growing up and taking more responsibility as a man while still learning from a son’s first teacher in life the father. Alan Jackson like George Strait in the previous song starts as a child and becomes the father in this song and portrays that unique experience between father and son (or daughter). A simple but unique experience that one can harp on tomorrow as they celebrate father’s day.

Honorable Mentions

Though, I would love to continue and go through the whole canon of country music with the theme of fatherhood, these were chosen from what I believe consists of strong lyrical presence, good musical composition and familiarity with the songs as my guide. If one is a country music fan like myself, or if this blog has helped one understand and really appreciate country music more then on a beautiful Saturday evening relaxing to some of these honorable mentions in preparation for tomorrow is not a bad idea. Though, I always try to be as objective in setting standards, these songs did have some preferential taste as I stated that familiarity was a guideline. Therefore, some of these honorable mentions may be better and some may prefer these more than the ones I have on this blog. That is fine, however, my only encouragement is whatever ones preference is that the main focus will be on really honoring their fathers. The sacrifice and love that fathers do on a daily basis should always be celebrated and remembered. Here’s to more memories and deeper ties, may these songs inspire and encourage them:

I’ll Be There – Josh Turner

The unique baritone singer, famously known for “Long Black Train” and “Your Man” depicts the father’s point of view and speaks to their child bringing up many scenarios but simply telling them no matter what I’ll be there for you.

There Goes My Life – Kenny Chesney

NFL legend Peyton Manning’s favorite country artist and probably the next most famous singer after Garth Brooks known for making the stadium rock trend within country music in the 1990’s famous has a heartfelt song about the unexpected journey into fatherhood from a circumstance that was unintended. An important note is that the chorus lyrics does not change but has a different perspective as the beginning of the song is portraying a young man who just became a father and the end where he is coming to its last legs with his daughter leaving. One sees the daughter as a burden to his life, the other sees the daughter as his life.

Daddy Dance With Me – Krystal Keith

Daughter of the famous country artist Toby Keith, depicts a daughter speaking to her father asking him to always be her daddy even when she grows up and that she will always be his baby girl.

The Greatest Man I Never Knew – Reba McEntire

One of the most famous female country artists in the modern era sings about a father who was distant from his daughter and is not the type to show physical affection with hugs and kisses but deep inside truly loves her. The daughter realizes that after he passes away.

Kneeling for Naught

By George Coyoy

The NFL has been at the center of a political controversy over the past two years, with a national debate raging on over the phenomenon of professional football players kneeling in protest during the national anthem. This debate reached a fever pitch in the 2017 season, resulting in large swaths of fans tuning the NFL out altogether. Ratings and ticket sales plummeted, which put the NFL in a compromising position. This was bad business and NFL executives knew it, so the league decided to change its policy regarding the national anthem. What was once a hands-off approach to player conduct during the national anthem became one that is more regulated, but still gives players options. Players can now choose to stay in the locker room during the anthem or come out and stand while the anthem is played. Players can even choose to demonstrate during the national anthem, though now they will be fined for doing so. This, to me, is reasonable. Others engaged in the debate seem more caught up in useless conversations about how things should be, and as a result are missing what the situation actually is. Let’s take a step back and understand the situation for what it is.

Naturally, this policy has only thrown fuel on the fire. Liberals are crying because they weep for every missed opportunity to demonstrate how much America sucks. Conservatives are characteristically split, with some cheering the decision, others chastising those who are cheering the decision, and others with their own thoughts ranging from indifference to inanity. With everyone eager to play partisan football, many are missing the broader point – how one feels about this policy is absolutely irrelevant in the face of the devastating public backlash the NFL experienced in 2017. A failure to respond would have been a death wish for the league, especially with the NBA’s skyrocketing popularity and Vince McMahon’s next attempt at professional football lurking in the shadows. The NFL should be commended for coming up with a solid compromise that neither compels player participation during the anthem nor accepts disrespect of its fans. Perhaps the best criticism of this policy is that it came a year too late.

Why the Policy Makes Sense

Make no mistake about it – this was purely a business move. As it turns out the NFL is a product and, as such, the most important people to the NFL are not its players but its fans. Yes, fans – the people who bestow relevancy upon the league by supporting it with their wallets and eyes. The anthem protests rightly struck a nerve with fans who were sick of watching grown men protesting a country that made them millionaires for playing a children’s game. What made this protest particularly insulting was doing so during the national anthem, a tradition which is supposed to be a moment of unity for Americans. Yes, part of that which unifies us is the right to protest, but choosing to protest during the national anthem is classless, tasteless, and, from a pragmatic point of view, only hurts the cause for which one is protesting. That millions of fans were disgusted with this display and thus stopped supporting the NFL is neither surprising nor besides the point. It is the entire point, and one’s opinions on their feelings of disgust or on the legitimacy in their feeling so is entirely irrelevant.

That hasn’t stopped the moralizing, the preening, the self-righteous takes from getting hurled from sea to shining sea. Narcissistic commentators have proven more interested in trying to sound clever and morally upstanding than presenting the situation in its proper perspective. Commentary has become catharsis rather than truth seeking. The opinions from the overtly left-wing world of sports journalism have been categorically critical, with many criticizing this policy as un-American and the more constitutionally illiterate commentators proclaiming that this is a violation of the players’ first amendment rights. In reality, this is a very fair, pragmatic policy that is neither passive nor heavy handed.

Let us consider the policy. Players can choose to remain in the locker room during the national anthem if they do not wish to participate. If a player decides to participate, he can still protest during the anthem, though now he does so under threat of penalty. How this is “un-American” is unclear, as it gives the individual the freedom to choose if and how he will participate in the national anthem. Freedom of the individual is the ultimate American value. Freedom of the individual also means the individual’s actions have consequences and one consequence of protesting the national anthem is a fine, which is perfectly fine from a business point of view. Over the past two seasons, some players decided to protest during the national anthem. In response, fans decided to have a protest of their own in the form of tuning out of the league altogether. This led to a significant drop in ratings and ticket sales, largely due to the player protests during the anthem. For the league to sit on its hands and acquiesce the players and ignore the fans would have been business suicide. Compelled participation in the anthem would have likewise been a nightmare scenario for the league’s relationship with the player union. Thus, the league landed on this extremely reasonable policy. The NFL got something right for once, and all parties involved should be reasonably happy with the result. Yet players and media seem to be upset with the policy, particularly with the fines.

Taking issue with the fines is peculiar, considering that the kneeling protests are such a loser with the NFL’s fan base. The kneeling has a provably negative effect on the league’s bottom line. Profits are hurt as a direct result of kneeling during the national anthem, making them an act that ultimately affects all of the players, coaches, and everyone affiliated with the league. Businesses that see a sharp loss of revenue have not been known to shrug their shoulders and ignore the actions that have led to said loss of revenue, particularly when the cause of the loss is known. In punishing the kneelers, the NFL is addressing the source of its loss in ratings and revenue. It is punishing those whose actions are known to hurt the league’s profits, and thus a proper response. A mother doesn’t allow a child who is ruining her possessions to continue to do so, she instead shows the child that such actions will be met with punishment in order to deter the unwanted behavior. Likewise, as a business, you don’t allow an employee to take action that demonstrably upsets your customers to the point where they no longer want to purchase your product. This is the exact opposite of salesmanship.

Something tells me that that point will not stop the illogic of the left-wing ideologues constituting sports journalism, nor will it stop the know-it-all know-nothings of the rest of the left-wing news media from moralizing over an issue involving a league they never much cared for anyway. They will continue to moralize and politicize while never realizing that their opinions are entirely irrelevant. What is relevant is the collective opinion of millions of fans who saw these incoherent protests and said “enough”.

Why the Protests are Ineffective

That brings us to the issue of the kneeling itself. Many argue that this is in itself an act of patriotism, that protesting the anthem in the name of injustice is as American as eating apple pie in a muscle car. Allow me to suggest that protesting the anthem is the exact opposite of patriotism and is only detrimental to whatever it is one is protesting. The anthem isn’t supposed to be about abstract symbolizations of individual political stances, the anthem is about celebrating that which unifies all Americans. There are other avenues of protest and choosing this particular one to do so is akin to being that guy who protests saying grace before a family dinner because of whatever beef he has with the supposed moral failures of Christendom. It’s inane, obtuse, and about as useful as having your mouth on your elbow. It’s simply a jerk move. Rather than using that which unifies our country to further divide it, perhaps choosing a more useful avenue – one where the message can be more precisely (and thus effectively) articulated rather than abstractly symbolized – would help further the conversation. That, however, is the main problem – the kneelers are poor communicators. They protest at an absurd time in an absurd way – by protesting a celebration of our most deeply held, universally shared values in an abstract fashion.

And therein lies the biggest communicative problem for the kneelers – their protest is centered around an abstract symbol. Not a catch phrase, not signs with their message concisely articulated, not effective chanting, but an abstract symbol – kneeling. As such, their protest is open to multiple interpretations, rendering whatever their message actually is irrelevant. What one person thinks is “protesting injustice”, another person thinks is a sign of disrespect. Trying to tell the person who sees the kneeling during the national anthem as a sign of disrespect that they’re “wrong” doesn’t help change his mind. It’s like telling someone who is convinced that “Die Hard” is a Christmas movie that it isn’t, in fact, a Christmas movie. In short, using an abstract symbol as their method of protest won’t win anybody over who isn’t already on the side of the kneelers.

Even worse for the kneelers, when the conversation moves from the kneeling itself to what the kneeling represents, the answers are lacking in substance and consistency. Granted, nobody ever confused football players for attorneys, but if your protest doesn’t have an articulate, singular message, it won’t wind up being a very effective protest. Ask one player what the protest is about and it’s “police brutality”. Ask another and it’s “racial injustice”. Ask yet another and it’s “inequality”. The reasons goes on and on and on, making this a protest without a singular message. A protest lacking articulate messengers and a singularly articulated message will find itself in a losing position, particularly when its primary method of communication is an abstract demonstration that can easily be interpreted as disrespectful of a deeply respected and honored tradition that unifies a country. It is simply a foolish course of action.

Moreover, protesting during the anthem is reductive, an act which boils America down to one single grievance. Rather than treating the anthem as a unifying moment in which we collectively appreciate America for all that it is – its creed, its occasional failure to live up to that creed, its beauty and ugliness – protesting during the national anthem over one issue reduces the country to that one issue, as if nothing beyond that issue exists or is important. Again we see the problem with the chosen avenue of protest. It is obtuse and awkward, one which forces people to choose between a positive, unifying tradition and an incoherent, imprecise protest. For most gracious Americans, this is an easy choice to make.

To be sure, protesting police brutality and/or racial injustice is a cause worthy of the effort required. Not once have I come across anyone questioning the right to protest in the name of this or any other cause. What is being questioned is the timing of the protests, which is foolish. Perhaps re-examining the chosen avenue of protest would help further the cause of the kneelers, because as of now they are kneeling for naught.

Memorial Day Tribute

by Daniel Hong

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As I take this day to reflect on the sacrifices made by our troops, a particular song comes to mind. And a portion of it really captures the heart of what this day should be, and here it is from the chorus:

I’m proud to be an American

For at least I know I’m free

I won’t forget the men who died

Who gave that right to me.

If you have been living in this country for any significant amount of time you would recognize this song as “God bless the USA” by Lee Greenwood. A song that is still sung today at presidential inaugurations. The popularity and iconic stature of this song is rightfully credited as it properly states the fundamental idea of what it means to be an American. It also explicitly (or implicitly) proclaims the proper meaning of Memorial Day as a day of remembrance of those who made the sacrifices to protect and defend our constitutional republic. The principles of the Constitution and Declaration of Independence have withstood the test of time because of them. Thus, it is crucial to understand the proper meaning of Memorial Day.

The Heritage Foundation’s media wing the Daily Signal had an interesting article that highlights the history of this national holiday as well as some facts most people don’t want to hear about. One of them is the embarrassing statement that most Americans are not aware of what Memorial Day stands for and often conflate it with Veterans Day.

The article states:

Regrettably, a Gallup poll in 2000 revealed that only 28 percent of Americans knew the true meaning of Memorial Day, and 40 percent confused it with Veterans Day.

Now I do believe many good hearted people make this mistake by accident and out of that show great respect to our current troops as a result. Now, I do believe our troops should receive respect in general other than just Veterans Day but if that’s what American’s will understand Memorial Day to be then you might as well have two Veterans Days.

The Daily Signal explains the simple but forgotten distinction:

Memorial Day is the day to remember those men and women who died while serving in our nation’s armed forces, whereas Veterans Day is a day to celebrate the service of all U.S. military veterans.

It might be that the ignorance comes from the fact that this holiday used to fall on the 30th of May and was moved to the last weekend of the month which resulted in a commercialization of this holiday for concerts, baseball games, beaches, BBQs and etc. These things by all means are good and Americans should use this day for celebration, but they should be used in conjunction and to commemorate this glorious day.

For me as a Bible believing Christian there is a deeper meaning to this celebratory day, as the symbol of a soldier’s brave sacrifice for our freedoms represents the brave sacrifice of Christ on the Cross in which my freedom as well as the freedom for anyone around the world who places their faith in Jesus Christ was won. Sin no longer has a death grip so there is reason to celebrate for me in worship. Also, God who is the primary protector of nations does it through secondary means which is the Armed Forces. The Bible actually refers to them as ministers of justice, an avenger (No not the superheroes) of God. Therefore, taking a moment to remember this also helps me look forward and grow in a deeper reverence for the Lord, in the same manner remembering the troops who made the sacrifice all those years ago helps me to have deeper respect for those who currently serve overseas in combat operations most notably against Islamic terrorists. So the point is however you celebrate this day go and do it, I myself might watch a baseball game there is nothing wrong with that, in fact I sincerely hope you enjoy it. I just humbly and respectfully plead that as you do you will keep in remembrance, the reason why you can.

I leave you with this speech from former President Ronald Reagan in 1986 from Arlington National Cemetery as a tribute to this Day:

 

The Big Lie, pt. 1

By George Coyoy

For as long as I can remember I was force fed the notion that Republicans are racists-sexists-bigots-homophobic-Islamophobic-right-wing Christian fundamentalists who hate the poor and believe the earth is flat. I was told Republicans are science denying, unsophisticated mouth breathers who think that rock ’n’ roll and the hippity-hop are the devil’s music and that women who use birth control are harlots. They also believe those harlots shouldn’t even be out of the kitchen to begin with, so if you’re a woman reading this get back in there! To be a Republican or, even worse, a conservative Republican, was the social kiss of death. It was unimaginable that any reasonably intelligent and moral person would fit such a description. Or, at least, that’s what the culture surrounding me claimed. You can imagine my surprise when I finally did my own research into politics and found that all of this was pure, raw, uncut nonsense.

I’m a millennial who grew up a half hour outside of New York City, liberal HQ. As such I was highly influenced by MTV, Comedy Central, and other bastions of left-wing intellectual thought. Though I was never particularly interested in politics, looking back I was a default liberal like most others who grew up the way I did. This is to say that what I gathered from school, entertainment, and media in general was that the liberals were the good guys and the conservatives were the bad guys. Republicans were the big, bad, racist wolves looking to blow down my house of freedom. Conservatives were the big, bad, racist wolves looking to blow down my house of freedom while smacking me in the face with a bible. In short, I found myself viewing the political landscape through a Manichaean lens despite not knowing a single thing about politics.

Eventually I made the decision that I was going to get informed. Politics had infused everything surrounding me and I had the sense that there were lies being thrown at me from every direction. The outright lies surrounding the tragic Trayvon Martin case, among others over the preceding years, had sent me into a fury and made me determined that I would learn about politics. I decided that I would learn “both sides” as best I could, that I would hear them out without cynicism and with an open mind, eager to learn so that I could come as close to knowing the truth as humanly possible.

I began, I learned, and I was shocked to find out that all of my previously held assumptions were based on lies. No, Republicans weren’t racists who hate the poor and don’t believe in global warming. Not even close. The positions held by the conservatives I listened to were extremely nuanced and, surprisingly, strongly supported by history, evidence, and reason. But why would so many people lie about these arguments? Did they simply not understand the nuance in the arguments or were they purposely misrepresenting them in order to gain a political edge? I didn’t understand why this was the case, or why it should be the case and so many people seemed to simply not care. For whatever reason, I thought others would be genuinely interested in fair, honest debate about complex issues in a civil manner. In short, I didn’t understand politics.

As this grand narrative began to unravel, so did many other little ones. No, the world isn’t going to be overcome by a flood in five years if we don’t all start driving electric cars by yesterday. No, the war on drugs isn’t a racist conspiracy cooked up by white politicians for the purpose of oppressing young black men. No, the gender pay gap isn’t due to some evil white heterosexual Christian men seeking to dominate women. My first exposure to the conservative counter-arguments left me in a state of shock. Why had I never heard these positions before? Why have these arguments always been misrepresented? And how in the world is Thomas Sowell not a household name? This was all very confusing to me, but onward I marched.

The more I understood, the more cynical I became about politics. I’m not a cynical person in general, and I generally can’t stand those who are, but there are few areas as full of willfully obtuse or ignorant people as the world of politics. Given the unique ability of politics to enflame the soul, it only follows that opportunists ready to fan those flames rise to the top. Perhaps they’re carried there by all the smoke they’ve created.

Hence the forthcoming “Big Lie” series. Given my experience in seeing these big lies dismantled, I look forward to dismantling them for all of you. This will not be a series where I act as a special pleader for the Republican party or conservatives. This will be a space where I debunk some of the popular myths told about right-leaning people in general, be they Republicans, conservatives, libertarians, etc., for the purpose of bringing more clarity to your mind and the public conversation. To be sure, the pathetic inability of most Republicans and conservatives to effectively communicate their positions is partly to blame for The Big Lie. I won’t pull my punches here – the “right” generally sucks at this, whether it be writing, story telling, or speaking with anything resembling charisma. This is largely due to both cowardice and a glaring lack of talent, but that’s a conversation for another day. This is simply an attempt to communicate these ideas in a more effective manner, hopefully persuading many in the process and having clear disagreements with those who still buy into The Big Lie.

20 Country Songs for Mothers Day

By Daniel Hong

As Mother’s day approaches music can help us to reflect on our relationships. Country music is my favorite genre and songs like these are the reasons why. Even though mother’s day is still a few days away, and yes you should do something special for that day but let’s not let that one day be the only time where we appreciate them and truly love them for all the sacrifice and the love they have shown us. Have a Happy Mother’s Day and I hope these songs of love help you to have a satisfying one with your mother. Enjoy!!

Mama’s Song – Carrie Underwood

Mama Tried – Merle Haggard

She didn’t have Time – Terri Clark

So Much Like My Dad – George Strait

In my Daughters Eyes – Martina McBride

Mom – Garth Brooks

 

I Wonder – Kellie Pickler

The Hand That Rocks The Cradle – Glen Campbell, Steve Wariner

The Best Day – Taylor Swift

Angels – Randy Travis

Mother Like Mine – The Band Perry

Mama’s Hands – George Jones

Like My Mother Does – Lauren Alaina

I want to Stroll over Heaven with you – Alan Jackson

Don’t Forget To Remember Me – Carrie Underwood

Tough – Craig Morgan

Coat Of Many Colors – Dolly Parton

Somebody’s Hero – Jamie O Neal

She Loved A lot during her time – George Jones

I’ll Be – Reba McEntire