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

Republicans should embrace Cultural Conservatism over Trumpism in the 2018 midterm elections

By Daniel Hong

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To some astute observers of the culture and political atmosphere in 2018 the distinction between “Trumpism” and “Conservatism” can come off as strikingly odd. As many Conservative pundits and politicians seem very supportive of Trump and his policies seem to trend in that direction as well. Many of those who were in the “Never Trump” camp may understand what I mean, to some extent. However, I must disappoint you if you are coming from that group as my fundamental point is not so much against Trump as it is against the GOP as we know it in 2018.

Without downplaying some real political achievements by the Trump Administration that has satisfied the Conservative base, I believe anyone who takes a moment to think about it will have no problem with my assertion that Trump is no Conservative. Frankly that does not bother me and it should not bother the base as well. Especially, in 2018 where President Trump is deemed by the mainstream media and many critics as incompetent, believe it or not the case can be made that the Democratic Party has been exponentially worse. That assessment does not come from a partisan tribal mentality on my part but as someone who thinks that the President and the GOP has handed them a golden opportunity on a silver platter. Yet, somehow they have managed to keep the midterms within range for the Republicans. Through their constant bickering over the Russian Collusion narrative, appealing to the worst of their base, and their open embrace of socialism to name a few is probably the reason why they are not leading in double digits. It’s not to say that they have not had some real accomplishments as well, the election of Ralph Northam over Ed Gillespie in Virginia, the upset over Roy Moore by Doug Jones in Alabama, and finally Conor Lamb’s recent victory in Pennsylvania highlight the Democrats success. However, it must be noted that these candidates won in spite of their party going hard left, especially Mr. Lamb’s narrow victory. The problem is while the Democrats have been veering left the GOP and President Trump have become yesterday’s Democrats, which brings me to my fundamental point. This may surprise some readers but my point that I’m driving home is not necessarily that the President is not Conservative but that the Republican Party is not and has never been the party of Conservatism.

It is understandable why in the minds of many Americans ever since the Reagan era the Republican Party was seen as Conservative. Many Republicans have followed in his footsteps of and have championed limited government, Free Market, and Moral Virtues. The problem is in 2018 with all three chambers in their possession they have not exemplified these ideals. The “Never Trump” camp is wrong in pointing the accusations mainly at Trump, who I believe should be given credit for being honest about his political positions. The guy never ran or claimed to run as a Conservative candidate. The problem lies with Republicans who claim to be Conservative yet their political records give no evidence of that. Do not misunderstand my accusation there are legitimate members of congress who are valiantly fighting for the Conservative cause but the overwhelming majority have been shown to be glorified hypocrites. To make matters worse the new group of Republicans that are making 2018 bids are competing with one another to be the next Trumpian candidate.

The question that can then be posed is what exactly is Trumpism? The problem is there really is no answer. Populism is definitely a tenet as well as a brash personality but other than that due to the volatile nature of Trump himself as a person it is really hard to know what else is concretely a part of his philosophy. Which is why it makes no sense for Republicans to follow him in that unknown path. The primaries that are currently going on have exposed the flaws of this plan as many of these candidates are trying to embrace something they cannot understand. Now it’s fine to endorse the president but there is no need to become like him. In fact, even in that department these new crop of Republicans fall woefully short, as evidenced in the Pennsylvania special election the argument can be made (at least on the campaign trail) that Conor Lamb a Democrat was more Trumpian than the GOP candidate Rick Saccone. Conor Lamb whether he is genuine or not was also an anomaly from the Democratic Party that is also experiencing a tension from the Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wing. Lamb represented the old centrist philosophy of the Democrats the one that Hillary Clinton was supposed to run on in 2016 as she obviously veered hard left like many of the Democrats (Of all the ridiculous complaints of her loss the recent one claiming that she was too “capitalist” for the Democrats actually has some credence). In an ironic way Trump not only beat Clinton at the ballot box but also in her own game because aside from his brash rhetoric and populist appeal just the policy positions that he ran on is much more moderate and centrist than the average traditional Republican. However, there was one exception to Trumps overall 2016 general election victory, he became more Conservative on the social and cultural issues and unlike the Democrats who find more political success when running on a centrist platform especially on social issues, the Republicans actually find more success running on a more Conservative platform.

To sum it up, the Democrats find more success when running on a centrist platform, and the Republicans on a more Conservative one. This also translates into a more cohesive unit in Washington as a centrist Democrat and a traditional Conservative Republican actually can find points of agreement than the other way around. While I personally do not like the whole Left and Right paradigm in politics for this particular argument it’s helpful. While Right is not necessarily synonymous with Conservative just as Left is not with Liberal, it is generally true that most Conservatives are on the Right and liberals are on the Left and the politics right now is moving to the Left while the country seems to want to move more to the Right. Again in the recent election Trump moved considerably more Conservative on social and cultural issues than he did in the primaries. Also while Rick Saccone lost, the belief right now is that he should have lost by 5 or 6 points but only lost by a narrow margin because he started campaigning on the social issues as the special election drew closer. On the contrary, both Mitt Romney and John McCain lost their run for the presidency and were known to be moderates. During the Ronald Reagan era his success was on an undeniably Conservative agenda, with some moderate Democrats as his allies in a congress dominated by Democrats. George W. Bush despite his less than stellar record on the economy and a controversial foreign policy was an undeniably socially conservative president. Many have attributed this to the Religious Right or the Moral Majority but as an Evangelical myself that explanation would be great if it were true. The problem is that this one coalition cannot win elections, the explanation I have to offer is that cultural conservatism has a particular appeal with Americans in general whether they are religious or not.

The appeal that a socially conservative agenda brings is not so much a political one but a moral/cultural one. For instance I do not believe most Americans are necessarily caught up with the issues of gay marriage that they would want Obergefell v Hodges overturned, but the arguments for a stable family and the values enriched in them do capture their attention. Americans may not be as caught up on overturning Roe v Wade and adding a Human Life Amendment into the Constitution but the arguments for cherishing children and the corrosive effects of the sexual revolution makes an overall pro-life culture appealing. Finally the recent issue of the national anthem may have been a tipping point, as the level of patriotism in every American might be different but the overall disrespect shown by the NFL players and the cowardly acceptance by the Democrats is too much for Americans to bear and in turn makes a conservative’s patriotism more and more appealing to them.

Therefore, a Conservative agenda does not necessarily mean that people who vote for that agenda are all fully on board but they find it a better option than an agenda that goes in the opposite direction. A strong nostalgic appeal may also be a factor in the appeal of Cultural Conservatism as many people believe whether they are Republican or Democrat (or Independent) that they are losing their culture and their way of life in this present period. The Presidents popular slogan “Make America Great Again” may have had that appeal not necessarily to regain the economic or military power of the past but the American way of life that people were accustomed to and so much of Conservatism looks back on those traditions and timeless principles that it can grab the public’s imagination of rebuilding the culture from the ashes. Thus, my plea to Republicans this midterm cycle is that in a year where many are predicting them to lose their majority and where history has shown past patterns where the majority party often faces losses in these situations to stop trying to be like Trump and to study the tenets and principles of Conservatism and embrace it. Ideas have power and the right ideas can turn the tide in a nation and Conservatism is about ideas and principles.

The Yellow Plague, Chapter 1

By George Coyoy

 

You may have noticed that we’re living in a time of hyper-polarization. You may have noticed that your conversations with friends and family members seem a bit more hostile, more bitter, more frantic. And you may have noticed that everywhere you turn you’re bombarded with alarmist rhetoric. What you’ve noticed has been noticed by many. What you’ve noticed are the symptoms of the plague infecting our culture at large, and it’s time we let those spreading the disease that we won’t just passively take notice.

This is a moment of mass hysteria. From print to prime time, panicked headlines and ledes have become the norm in the partisan storm that is the 24-hour news cycle. Editorializing and alarmism are the defining characteristics of today’s journalism, whereas plain-spoken facts are becoming rarer by the day. The Superhero movie-fication of our national conversation – where every debate is had on adversarial, all-or-nothing terms – is in full swing, complete with bad actors, abusive directors and lethargic audiences all too eager for mindless consumption. In short, a plague of yellow journalism has infected American culture and the results have been socially devastating.

Yellow journalism is nothing new. Media outlets have abused their unique position of power from their inception and have no incentive to stop. Such business practices have proven to be highly, highly profitable, making the sensationalization of news somewhat understandable. What is new is the simultaneous rise of the 24-hour news cycle and technology which allows breaking news to be consumed in multiple mediums from a device that fits comfortably in the palm of your hand. Media has thus become inescapable. The amount of media consumed by the average person has increased and with that increased consumption comes increased business opportunities, which implicitly means an increase in the spread of salacious, frenetic news consumed by an increased number of people. With this in mind it’s no wonder polarization has, yes, increased. Given everything considered the more shocking state affairs would be if it had not.

The understandable chasing of profits, however, does not absolve legacy media of any responsibility. Those behind the dissemination of information – the journalists, editors, and even entire outlets – are the infectious agents spreading this plague. To suggest otherwise is to assert that the default position of the media is to be purposely misleading, partisan actors. It is to assert that common people with bills, families, and innumerable other worries should watch the media like hawks, dedicating a considerable chunk of their time to fact checking the news and going to primary sources to get their information. Such a task takes the kind of time that most people simply do not have. Such a task is also what the legacy media purports to do professionally. The legacy media has taken as its job the distillation of all of the day’s information into what is most relevant and the presentation of it in an honest way. This is not to say news outlets must be perfectly objective and down the middle. It isn’t clear if that is even possible. As such, partisan leanings are acceptable so long as the outlet is honest about those leanings. This is why claims of neutrality from obviously partisan outlets such as CNN are such an insult to our collective intelligence and a slap in the face. Such outlets are premised on a lie – some would say they sit on a throne of lies. It also means that the outlet is either dumb enough to think the public is dumb enough to buy their lie, or that they’re so lacking in self-awareness that they don’t realize what they are doing. Having watched CNN over the past few years, it is easy to see the cause being a lot of both.

In this regard the legacy media has not only failed, it has largely behaved in a morally bankrupt, corrupt manner. Lying, distorting, concealing, misleading, cheating; editorializing and falsely moralizing… but enough about CNN. Enough complaining and enough analyzing the paralyzing, sickening effects of the legacy media on the culture at large. I’ve gotten enough off of my chest, plus those effects are widely understood, even if only implicitly. And yes, I realize the irony of accusing the legacy media of being responsible for a cultural “plague” while simultaneously chastising them for their alarmism. But such is life – sometimes ironic, often paradoxical, and always complicated.

The broader, more relevant point here is that our legacy media is decidedly not holding up their end of the bargain and it is having a disastrous effect on American culture. To put it plainly: I am absolutely asserting a strong cause and effect relationship between the irresponsible way in which our media reports the news and the way our conversations have become so toxic. The good news is that we common folk are not powerless. As such it is up to us as engaged citizens to hold their feet to the fire. It is up to us to aggressively call the legacy media out when we catch them spreading their lies and smears, to stigmatize lying journalists and unethical reporters. It is up to us to hold them accountable with our eyes and dollars – to change the channel and turn to alternative sources as often as we can. Look, I get it – the New York Times, the Washington Post, ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, etc. are virtually unavoidable. That doesn’t mean we have to use them as our primary sources, or that we can’t criticize them when necessary while using them as sources. What it means is that we have to consciously support alternative outlets, with our eyes and our wallets, so that we can build them up and help introduce more competition into the media marketplace. Think of new media outlets as experimental, disease-fighting drugs that can help us cure this plague. The alternative is passively sitting by while we watch our republic rot away from within.

Welcome

By Daniel Hong

 

I welcome you to our website. My colleague (George Coyoy) and I are grateful for this opportunity to engage our culture and society with this blog. We are a couple of Americans who care deeply about our nation and the tumultuous times we live in. Our desire is to simply be a part of the improvement instead of just passively watching the continuous decay and degeneration. Who we are and what we believe can be seen more in our about us section. In this column I would like to briefly introduce myself and explain my worldview. I also give you the utmost gratitude in choosing to spend some of your precious time on our website. I hope to be able to serve you to the best of my ability.

I am first and foremost a Christian who believes in the Bible as the very Word of God and its central message the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the very foundation of what I believe, what I do and in which I center my identity on. The gospel message that is so fundamental to my life states that God is the Supreme Being who created this world and humanity to reflect his image and glory. Humanity fell into sin which as a consequence brought the wrath of God as a holy and righteous judge. Catastrophe and brokenness in the world are also a result of this fallen nature. However, the good news of great joy is that Jesus Christ the Son of God, in his deity and humanity died on the cross for the sins of the world taking upon himself the just punishment of God. Through, repentance and faith in that savior anyone no matter who they are can receive the gift of salvation. Repentance also leads to restoration and reformation. It starts with the individual then to society and the world. Therefore, my mission of utmost importance is to fulfill the great commission from the Lord himself to make disciples of all nations (Matt. 28:18-20) sharing this very same gospel message, but also to do good works along with that central mission for I am his workmanship (Eph. 2:10). This very message is why during these times I can hold on to hope. Hope one day that I will be reunited with my Lord and Savior in heaven, and hope in this world not for a utopia but a better future.

This message is not all there is to Christianity (a column for another day) but it is the very starting point and the foundation. As a Christian I started to realize that I held on to principles from the Bible that guided my life. I also realized it was instrumental in building many great societies in the West throughout history (Note to the critics: yes there are many controversies that have come about as well that should not be ignored but again it will be an article for another day). I soon began to realize that I was labeled a Conservative. I was at first dismayed and confused as to why. The term Conservative as I understood it at the time was solely a political one. One that is equated with one of the two major parties in America, the Republican party. After much research and study throughout my life in the archives of past Republicans like former president Ronald Reagan, former Senator Barry Goldwater, and popular political and cultural commentator William F. Buckley I began to understand what Conservatism stood for. Events such as the rise of the Christian Right under Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson also shed more light. However, it is not until I read the book The Conservative Mind by Russell Kirk that gave me a profound understanding of Conservatism. In it I discovered a figure whom many call the father and the first Conservative Edmund Burke.

A book review is in order someday but the main point that Kirk drove home with Burke as an example is that Conservatism was not an ideology or systematic set of ideas like religion but a way of life a habit of mind in which time tested truths, traditions, ideas and principles were upheld and incorporated into personal lives and the broader society. Therefore, the importance of Conservatism was not so much liberty (both on the individual and societal level) but an order and discipline that made liberty possible in the first place. It really took the enlightenment principles that I grew up with in the public schools in this country and turned it upside down.

As I took all of that in, I realized why my Christian faith was so compatible with Conservatism because so much of the origin seeking and upholding nature of it is what a Christian does. The Bible has withstood the test of time, a Christian seeks to conserve that. It also clarified to me that though Conservatism has its importance in politics, it is also a cultural term. In fact it can be argued that it places a deeper importance in culture and community than politics. After all, the goal in starting this website was not to be another website that focuses on political commentary (We have a recommendations page if you are interested in that arena), but to engage in the realm of ideas since ideas have consequences. Consequences in our personal lives, culture, and society at large. Right ideas bring about the right actions and vice versa. Though, the main focus is not on politics it is nonetheless an arena that reflects the many problems in our culture today and it is honestly how I have gained many insights into today’s culture. I believe the disintegration we see today from politics, to entertainment, to media and the overall culture is the reason why some are drawn into and believe that the answer lies in having the right politicians elected and the right policies enacted which is not necessarily wrong but it will never happen unless hearts and minds change within the nation and that is the fundamental change that needs to occur. The challenge is not to strive to engage the culture and change hearts and minds for the right political consequences to occur, as a means to an end. Instead the goal is to seek to change hearts and minds as an end itself, because of a true love and respect for our neighbor. The logic is that the right policies and politicians will arise naturally from a more virtuous nation overall.

That is our goal and the reason my colleague and I decided to start this new endeavor.  I personally hope to always strive for excellence and virtue in my own life lest I fall into hypocrisy and I also hope that it will foster the same in all of you as well. Once again no matter where you come from and whatever your background is I genuinely and humbly welcome you and appreciate any support you give our website.