MCDANIEL: The Importance of Memorial Day

BY: Chris McDaniel @senatormcdaniel

While contemplating Memorial Day, my thoughts turned to the holiday’s origin. Although a special time for most, some remain unclear as to its actual historical underpinnings.

To assist, the United States Department of Veterans Affairs provides an online history lesson about the day, which is partially recounted below.

On May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Ceremonies often centered near the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns.

Local springtime tributes to the Confederate dead already had been held in various places. In fact, one of the very first occurred in Columbus, Mississippi, on April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the neglected graves of Union soldiers. Disturbed at the sight of unkept burial sights, the women placed flowers on the graves of Union soldiers, as well.

Cities all across the nation claim to be the rightful birthplace of Memorial Day. Approximately 25 locations have been named in connection with the origin of the holiday, many of them in the South.

By the end of the 19th century, state legislatures had passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities. But it was after World War I when the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars.

In 1971, Memorial Day was officially declared a national holiday by an act of Congress and placed on the last Monday in May.

Yet, although the day’s origin is important, it is not nearly as meaningful as the lessons it imparts to our culture.

Cognizant of the importance of solemnizing a special day in May for our beloved, novelist and poet Thomas Bailey Aldrich once wrote, “With the tears a land hath shed, their graves should ever be green.”

And we should ever be thankful.

Stories of military honor and valor permeate Mississippi society, as we are instructed from an early age to revere sacrifice, salute the flag and respect the service of warriors.

Narratives of our fallen heroes supplement the state’s long literary tradition with forlorn intensity. Inspirational and tragic, chronicles of personal challenge have motivated and inspired the military service of our citizens in disproportionate numbers. Their sacrifices expressly renounce selfish elements of modern society, which is one nearly drowned in waves of narcissistic obsessions.

Maintaining tradition born through the collective heartache of our people, we still recognize the importance of mourning, remembering and celebrating the memory of our departed.

So each year we reaffirm an enduring adage: death leaves a heartache no one can heal; love leaves a memory no one can steal.

In many ways, it seems, our dead still live for us.

It is our way of life, as it should be.

Chris is an attorney, conservative commentator and was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014. He has represented the 42nd District, which encompasses part of South Mississippi, since 2008. He resides with his family in Ellisville, Mississippi. Find him on Twitter: @SenatorMcDaniel and on Facebook. 

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Mississippi on alert for gang violence against law enforcement. 

Police in Oxford and across the state were put on alert after the Mississippi Association of Gang Investigators sent out a bulletin last week.
The notice warned Mississippi police departments that gang members have a hit on law enforcement.

“This is a game for keeps. This is a game we’re playing for lives. This isn’t a game.,” Oxford Police Chief Joey East said.

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State Workforce Board gets director and funding, will begin working on “federal initiatives”. 

After 30 years in the community college system, including the past 13 as vice president of economic and community services at Itawamba Community College, James Williams has a new job.

Williams recently was named the executive director of the Mississippi’s State Workforce Board, and he hopes his experience in Northeast Mississippi will help bring more and better jobs to the entire state.
“The state has had a state workforce board for about 12 years, but they’ve never really had a staff,” Williams said. “It’s never been funded fully, but legislation last year made that possible now. It’s timely because the federal workforce system requires a lot of new planning. It’s an opportunity for the state initiatives and federal initiatives to work together and create a single workforce planning for the state.”

Said Jay Moon, president and CEO of the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and the SWIB chairman, “On behalf of the State Workforce Investment Board, I am pleased to welcome James to his new role as executive director. He brings years of workforce development experience to the table, and the SWIB and I look forward to working with him.”

The SWIB is working to consolidate and strengthen the state’s workforce development system in order to make it more efficient. It implemented a statewide performance management system – the Integrated Longitudinal Education and Workforce Performance Management System – which allows for the collection and analysis of education, training and placement data across all public workforce and education service providers throughout Mississippi.

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MCDANIEL: Mississippians show the nation that our tears are neither black nor white.

BY: Chris McDaniel @senatormcdaniel

On Saturday May 9, Mississippians were shocked to learn that two Hattiesburg police officers, Benjamin Deen and Liquori Tate — one white, one black — were senselessly gunned down after making what appears to have been a routine traffic stop. To date, law enforcement on the local, state and federal levels have arrested eight individuals for the crime.

In the aftermath of this terrible tragedy, what we witnessed was nothing short of remarkable, as the entire community of Hattiesburg, the greater Pine Belt, and all of Mississippi came together to mourn their tragic deaths and to honor their memories.

We proudly watched as thousands of Mississippians of every race, as well as the young and the elderly, stood along the roadsides to pay their final respects as the funeral procession passed by. For Liquori Tate, who was buried in Starkville, his procession stretched for miles as it traveled on the interstate headed northward as thousands more stood on overpasses to honor him.

This is but one recent example of our people at their very best. The people of Mississippi are still as kind and generous as they come, leading the nation in charitable giving, compassion, generosity and church membership.

The problem is not with the good and decent people inhabiting our great state and nation, but with the racial demagogues who preach the destructive divisiveness of racial politics, engaging in race-baiting and despicable appeals to primitive instincts for personal gain and political expediency.

Although the demagogues occupy both sides of the political aisle, they seem more pervasive on the Left. For example, Al Sharpton and his National Action Network, with its ever present slogan “No Justice, No Peace,” seem to ignore the real plight of black Americans, or he and his colleagues would aggressively tackle the epidemic of black-on-black crime, which is soaring in cities across the country, or the increasing assaults on police officers. Liquori Tate’s uncle, Pastor Dennis Johnson, said it best at the funeral: “We have lost two good men, and nobody has marched, nobody has . . . Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, where are you?”

Pastor Johnson has asked the right question; but such issues, as concerning as they are, do not fit the Sharpton/Jackson “racist” narrative nor put more money in their already deep pockets.

Despite the demagoguery, much of the nation, especially Mississippi, has made great strides in race relations in recent decades, and we should be proud of our progress.

But there is still work to be done.

As the nation’s first black President, Barack Obama had a golden opportunity to help us move past racial politics for good and much of the nation seemed poised to follow his lead. So it was unfortunate to see First Lady Michelle Obama chose the Tuskegee Institute, founded by Booker T. Washington, to give a racially charged commencement address last week in which she regaled graduates in a tale that seemed to revert America back to the 1960s rather than acknowledge the progress we have made. According to the First Lady, the nation’s African Americans are still subject to oppression across the country and should lay the blame at the feet of others.

And yet Booker T. Washington himself did not counsel his fellow blacks to cast blame but to work hard and find success. “Nothing ever comes to one, that is worth having, except as a result of hard work,” he said. “No greater injury can be done to any youth than to let him feel that because he belongs to this or that race he will be advanced in life regardless of his own merits or efforts.”

It is this message that Mrs. Obama should have shared with the young graduates and not one centered on blaming society.

Thankfully, Americans in city after city across the country are beginning to reject those who seek paychecks and political gain for themselves, not healing for their communities. Mississippians of all races denounced the killing of both officers and showed their support. And our tears were neither black nor white.

Officer Liquori Tate was an upstanding young man who wanted to join the police force to help foster change in the black community in Hattiesburg and to show young blacks that they can be successful in life. It did not matter if he was black or white to us; he is a hero, along with his partner Benjamin Deen. Indeed, both were the embodiment of Dr. King’s vision for America, a color blind society based on the content of one’s character rather than the color of one’s skin.

Both should be celebrated in communities across the country.

And this should be the path we all take, as we move forward together.

Chris is an attorney, conservative commentator and was a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in 2014. He has represented the 42nd District, which encompasses part of South Mississippi, since 2008. He resides with his family in Ellisville, Mississippi. Find him on Twitter: @SenatorMcDaniel and on Facebook. 


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Mosley’s polling shows Chaney vulnerable because of support of #ObamaCare. 

The poll, conducted by automated phone calls, also hints that at least part of Mosley’s strategy will be to link Chaney to President Barack Obama and the Affordable Care Act.

“If you knew Commissioner Mike Chaney supported the expansion of Obamacare in Mississippi, how would this impact your likeliness to vote for him?” is one of three questinos pollsters asked. About 44 percent said they “most likely” would not vote for Chaney based on that information.

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FROHNEN: Time for a Real Flat Tax?

BY: Bruce Frohnen 

One does not hear much about the “flat tax” any longer. The idea lost its steam when people pointed out that, in order for it to significantly lower most people’s effective tax rate, it would have to include (that is, eliminate) some very well-entrenched tax breaks we all love. Most prominent among these is the charitable tax deduction. Recent events show that it is time for us to rethink that deduction and with it the flat tax.

The appeal of tax breaks for charitable giving is clear and understandable. Because much of what government does (such as providing housing subsidies, food stamps, and other welfare programs) is intended to help people in need, it seems logical to help those people, strengthen our society, and encourage people’s virtue by reducing charitable givers’ tax bill for doing the right thing. The logic of the charitable deduction has spread quite widely, such that giving that extra Renoit to the local museum (we all have several of those lying around, do we not?) can do a lot to reduce one’s tax bill as well. Still, Americans like the idea that their charitable giving should be respected and rewarded and charitable institutions fostered through the tax structure.

Yet people of faith, and conservatives in particular, have been getting the short end of the stick on charitable giving for decades, and things are soon going to get far worse. Catholics in particular are attached to the idea that our gifts to the Church and its various schools and other organizations are tax-deductible. Not only does this help our bottom line, it also, we think, encourages others who might not give to open their wallets for causes we know are important. Unfortunately, with the exception of a football, or basketball school or two, “our” universities hardly compete with the billions in secular school endowments. More generally, the “non-profit sector” is filled with institutions that bring in a lot of money to work for causes openly hostile to traditional morality and faith-based education. What is more, within the next few years the government almost certainly will revoke the non-profit status of many if not all Catholic and otherwise religiously orthodox charities.

Why do I say this? Think about it. The most objectionable, unfair, and dishonest charge made against opponents of gay marriage also is one of the most common, namely that they are merely “bigots” akin to those racists who opposed interracial marriage. The implications of this charge are clear, as are their logical policy outcomes to anyone honest enough to think them through. If Bob Jones University is unworthy of charitable status, then so is Catholic University, or Villanova, or even hyper-liberal, Jesuit Georgetown. At Bob Jones, white and black students are officially forbidden to date. Thus, the University violates federal civil rights laws and regulations, and so does not qualify for tax breaks, including deductibility of charitable gifts. If one believes, as it appears do most members of our contemporary elites in academia, law, and government, that opposition to full “equal rights” for homosexuals is equivalent to support for racism, one logically must (not just may, but must) deny non-profit status and charitable deductions for all institutions that fail to support gay marriage. Even more, for decades now a variety of feminist authors such as Catherine MacKinnon, have been arguing that the Catholic Church’s refusal to ordain women priests is an affront to equal rights sufficiently serious to justify eliminating their non-profit status.

Non-profit status in American law is not an inalienable right. Is a right created by, hence liable to being destroyed by, law. The only institutions that will not see this status revoked are those that accept the current party line on social and political issues. That party line now demands full support for, and affirmation of, gay rights—including the “right” to redefine marriage. As that demand is institutionalized, it will bring with it the rationalization of other aspects of the doctrine of equality such that anomalies like tax breaks for churches failing to ordain female priests also will be eliminated. Some religious charitable organizations may seek to fly “under the radar” by giving up their public role and becoming “insular” institutions that only employ and serve the faithful. Others may simply give up their traditional positions on hot-button issues. Neither tactic will work as even insular institutions may be found “bigoted” and so lose their tax exempt status, and institutions that give up their identity no longer serve their proper function in any event. Thus, we should expect the Church’s charitable status to be taken away, whether all at once or, more likely, piecemeal, before very long.

Given this reality, it is time for Catholics in particular, who have been extremely slow to support “libertarian” policies like the flat tax, to recognize the wisdom of this change in policy. Our choice is clear: either accept that the government will subsidize institutions that decry Catholics for supposed bigotry as our own tax breaks disappear, or sign on, while we can, to a policy that will establish a more level playing field. A true flat tax would have the advantage of seeing to it that no institution, including the Ford Foundation, various activist “charities” seeking to further radicalize American politics, and billion-dollar university endowments reserved for politically correct activist institutions, will receive the tax breaks that almost certainly will be denied to Catholic and other traditional religious organizations.

There is one other aspect of the flat tax that has caused many to oppose it, namely, its elimination of subsidies for home ownership such as the mortgage interest tax deduction. All of us homeowners are loathe to give up this particular tax break. But my support has been dampened by recent events, in which government bullying pushed banks into granting home loans to people who could not afford to pay them. Of course, the banks then turned around and gambled the money away, safe in the knowledge that the government would (as it did) bail them out in the end. My point is that, given the amount of government meddling in the housing market in recent decades, and given this meddling’s horrendous effects on our economy, it may be time to give up on this over-manipulated “freebie” as well.

Perhaps a true flat tax, in which the government gets out of the business of picking virtues (home ownership) and vices (opposition to gay marriage), would allow Americans to re-think where their money goes, and where it ought to go. No doubt there would be substantially less charitable giving. Your local university might have to do without that new football stadium. And more serious cuts also would ensue, such as at various hospitals. But much charitable giving makes sense only as a tax dodge, and some positively wreaks havoc on various markets. One reason we see the ridiculous rush among small hospitals to compete with larger, regional centers as “experts” in various complex, expensive sub-fields, is the desire to attract large donations. But the duplication of expensive equipment and overhead actually increases medical costs. The same goes for the gold-plating of certain campuses, where it is known that certain types of projects will garner large alumni donations, whereas serious academic programs simply will not.

It was worth dealing with the market distortions of charitable tax treatment when the benefits were widespread. Now that we are looking at increased manipulation of the definition of charity and an increased exercise of political power in picking who will and will not receive tax breaks, it is time to pull the government out of the tax break business and lower overall rates. This will allow us to decide, on the merits, where to put our charitable dollars. It also will help charities get down to the serious business of attracting support on the merits of their missions and their seriousness, efficiency, and fidelity in furthering them. And this is a contest I think serious, faithful charities are in a position to win.

Bruce P. Frohnen is a Senior Contributor at The Imaginative Conservative. He is Professor of Law at Ohio Northern University College of Law and the author of Virtue and the Promise of Conservatism: The Legacy of Burke and TocquevilleThe New Communitarians and The Crisis of Modern Liberalism and editor (with George Carey) of Community and Tradition: Conservative Perspectives on the American Experience.

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FOLEY: Render Unto Caesar? 

BY: Devin C. Foley

I’ve seen it coming for many years.

The threat appears regularly in the comments on our social media pages. The first time you learn that passing your faith on to your children is considered a form of child abuse, you’re taken aback. But then the allegation is repeated over and over and over again. The first time you see talk of “stamping out the virus of religion,” you wonder what that means. But then you learn what it means for some when another commenter nonchalantly recommends going into the churches, slitting the priests’ throats, and finally getting on with the evolution of society. 

Such anti-religious (typically, anti-Christian) attitudes as are now spreading like wildfire through social media. Similar sentiments played out horrifically in the French Revolution, the Marxist purges in Eastern Europe and China, the Cristero War in Mexico, the killing fields of Cambodia, and the ongoing slaughter of Christians in the Middle East and Africa. Is it unreasonable to wonder if and how the virulent, anti-Christian attitudes of today will be unleashed in America? 

The question hit home for me yesterday at the annual Minnesota Prayer Breakfast when Governor Dayton opened his remarks by stating: 

“You know the theme of today’s prayer breakfast: unity around Jesus versus the disunity that takes place around religion has been a central issue, not only in our time, but throughout the course of history. Jesus preached love, acceptance, and forgiveness, and ever since his death too many of his followers have preached hatred, discrimination – even war – all in his name.

How much have things changed that a sitting governor would open his remarks to a room filled with 1,000 Christians – gathered in good faith under the motto “Unity in Jesus” to pray for the governor and the state – by insulting them? 

How much have things changed that the governor would then shift from simply insulting the Christians gathered to a not-so-veiled threat about the need to submit to the power of the state? If you think that’s a stretch, consider his words in full:

“Religious dogmatism is another common cause of social discord. Some people insist that their rights to their religious convictions supersede their responsibilities as citizens in a lawful society. They forget Jesus’ teaching to ‘Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and render unto God the things that are God’s.’

You probably recall the biblical story recounted in three of the four gospels in which the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus by asking him whether Jews should have to pay the taxes imposed by the ruling Roman governor, Pontius Pilate. They thought Jesus would oppose paying those taxes upon which they could hand him over to Pilate to accuse him of sedition.

But Jesus divined their evil intent. He requested a Roman coin that could be used to pay the taxes, and then asked the Pharisees, ‘Whose image is on it?’ When they replied, ‘Caesar,’ Jesus said, ‘Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.’

The first amendment to our U.S. constitution makes half of that distinction by protecting religions from government interferences. It says that ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’

In an 1802 letter Thomas Jefferson expanded the scope of the first amendment to ‘building a wall of separation between church and state.’ The U.S. Supreme Court has since cited Jefferson’s metaphor to opine that our Constitution intends a reciprocal separation of church and state from each other. Our country’s founders well understood the dangers of allowing government interference with religion. But they also recognized the potential dangers from religion’s intrusions into the responsibilities of government. They saw the cruelties and oppressions inflicted by intolerant theocracy. They realized that wall of separation between the dictates of religion and the laws of government is often misunderstood or ignored by some people. They claim a right to substitute their religious convictions for their legal obligations. Disunity and strife often follow.” (Full video available here. Start at 1:28.)

Cherry-picking Jesus’ words is popular these days, more often Christians are criticized for it. Ultimately, though, it makes the person doing it look foolish. If you’re going to quote Jesus to justify your position, you need to take into account the whole message of Christ. When discussing Jesus, love, forgiveness, and unity, we may want to consider his words in Matthew 10:34-38: 

“Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law; and a man’s foes will be those of his own household. He who loves his father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me; and he who does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”

The motto of the Minnesota Prayer Breakfast was “Unity in Jesus”. That motto is exactly what the verses above point to and exactly what the governor seems to misunderstand. There is much talk by secularists and progressives about Jesus being loving and the religion of Christianity being hateful. Christians are incessantly reminded to love their neighbor by those who advocate growing the welfare state and making Christians accept what they have traditionally considered immoral actions. Yet Christ gave us two commands in Mark 12:30-31, not one: 

“…[Y]ou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’”

And what does Christ mean by loving God, and therefore also him? Keeping his commandments. 

“He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21

In the Christian tradition, Jesus is not tolerant. You are either with him or against him, unified in him or not. Yes, he loves us, but we also must change our ways and live differently – “go and sin no more” as Jesus told the adulterous woman. The Christian duty is to grow in holiness by avoiding sin and seeking his forgiveness when we fail. If not, then we are condemned as Jesus said in Mark, “to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire.”

And that brings us back to Governor Dayton’s position about “rendering unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s,” and the very real threat against religious freedom that Christians and other religious individuals face today.

The reason for the difficulty for Christians is that their religious beliefs are central to who they are and what they do. They cannot separate Jesus from the religion of Christianity. They cannot disobey their God, whom they are to love by keeping his commandments, at work or in the public square and then obey him at home or in a church. A Christian is to obey God at all times, in all things. 

That is why so many Christians have been martyred over the last 2,000 years, many by Caesar. Christianity allows for much to be rendered unto Caesar, but there are some things that cannot be surrendered to the state. That is not acceptable to today’s elite, and it certainly seems it is not acceptable to Governor Dayton. Fealty to the will of Caesar must be total. 

I and other Christians in Minnesota have been given notice by our Governor. The culture war has become a total war here and, unless attitudes change, no quarter will be given to us. You will be forced to pick a side. I have made my choice and planted my flag in the sand, come what may.

Devin Foley is the founder of Intellectual Takeout (ITO), a non-partisan, educational 501(c)(3) institution based in Minnesota. ITO’s mission is to change the very culture of the country by feeding minds, fostering discussion, and inspiring action based on the principles and virtues necessary for human flourishing. 

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