Bob Meade - A man on a mission. . .

Perhaps some of the older readers may remember when God and patriotism were still in vogue, during what has been called the "greatest generation." A member of that generation is the Rev. William (Bill) Atkinson, a man on a mission.

During World War II, after graduating from high school in Lawrence, Mass., Bill joined the Navy and served aboard ship in the Pacific theater, as a signalman. After the war, he attended college and became a high school teacher, coach, and assistant principal, in Suffield, Conn. After retiring, he became ordained as an Episcopal priest, and served as rector of a parish in up-state Vermont. When he retired from that position he moved to Meredith and continued to perform his priestly duties as a supply clergy, substituting when needed at various parishes in central New Hampshire.
Father Bill is a true patriot. His background, and the teaching he received as he grew up, are what cause him to be on his mission . . . that is, to get people to stand and proudly sing our national anthem. He wants people to understand what price has been paid for the freedoms we enjoy. To know that the Revolutionary War did not end our war with England. That the British, during the war of 1812, burned our capital city of Washington and took many prisoners who were put in chains and held in the bowels of their ships. The British fleet then sailed to Baltimore, intent on bombing Fort McHenry and capturing the city.

Francis Scott Key, a young lawyer, was sent to the British flagship to try and strike a bargain for the release of the Americans being held prisoner. A bargain was struck for a one-for-one exchange of British and American prisoners, but the British insisted that the one-for-one exchange would only be honored if the American flag was still flying over Ft. McHenry by dawn's early light.

Please reflect on the eighty words written by Francis Scott Key to describe that battle, and the importance of the flag . . .

O say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
He is telling us that in the early morning, we could still see the flag we were so proud of, as the sun set the night before. That meant our soldiers could be freed.
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,

O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
Here, Francis Scott Key is telling us that the battle raged relentlessly throughout the night and, from the British ship, he could look over the ramparts of Ft. McHenry and, as the bombs and rockets burst, the fire from the bursts provided enough light to see that our flag was still there . . . it had not been replaced by the British union jack, as that would have signaled our defeat and our soldiers would continue to be held prisoner.

O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,?
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave
And the poem ends with the recognition of our national symbol, that Star Spangled Banner, is still flying over the home of the free and the land of the brave.

What Key's poem didn't mention, was that Ft. McHenry, and the flag, had been hit with bombs repeatedly and a great many of our soldiers were killed. The only thing that kept the stars and stripes waving in air was that the flag pole which had been struck, was being held up by the bodies of our fallen soldiers.

Since the revolutionary war, brave Americans have continued to pay a heavy price for our freedom. Our Civil War, in an effort to save the union and bring freedom to all, took the lives of about 630,000 citizens. Since that time, approximately 650,000 more brave Americans have paid the ultimate price in other wars to maintain our freedoms here at home, and to help others around the world defeat tyranny and achieve some measure of freedom. Each time a life has been given as a price to be paid for our freedom, it has been a contribution not unlike the ones made by the bodies of the fallen at Ft. McHenry . . . to keep our flag flying, O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Our National Anthem is not a ballad. It contains the story about the price that was, and that continues to be paid, for our freedom. Help Father Bill to be successful in his mission . . . always join in and sing the National Anthem to honor those who have made our freedom possible. Do it proudly.

(Bob Meade is a Laconia resident.)

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Susan Estrich - The lesser of the evils?

It's pretty darn depressing when political writers are essentially writing off the 2016 election as a choice between the lesser of two evils — seven months in advance of the election. It's one thing when, after months of negative ads, we shake our heads in disgust, but we haven't even really started yet.

If this is the way we begin, is there any question where we will end? Alienated, distrustful, angrier than we are now, having elected a president with no mandate at all.

We have to do better than this. If Donald Trump is going to be the nominee of the Republican Party for the most powerful job on the planet, then it's time for him, and us, to start taking his candidacy seriously. He needs to start doing his homework. Enough with the off-the-cuff comments of a television talk show host playing for ratings. If Donald Trump wants to be the president of the United States, he ought to start trying to act the part, and see if he can pull it off. If not, fine. It will be clear.

As for Republican talkers, it's time for them to grow up, too, and stop blaming everyone and anyone for the fact that Republican voters are about to pick one of their competitors for a chance at the top job. To hear the chattering class complaining, you'd think Donald Trump was a three-headed monster who'd been foisted on an otherwise perfect party primed for victory. Not so. The Republicans didn't have a credible candidate who could connect with voters. That's a problem you can't blame on Donald Trump.

I watched some of the early debates with my students. I wanted them to get involved — dare I say, get excited — and the closest anyone ever came to inspiring that energy on the Republican side was Donald Trump. Blame the system all you want, but if you look at the candidates and ask the questions voters always ask ("Does he understand people like me?" "Do I feel like he's on my side?"), it doesn't take rocket science to see why we've gotten Trump. He isn't an aberration; he is the logical conclusion of the anti-government gospel that Ted Cruz has been spouting since he got to the Senate.

And now Cruz is trying to stop him. Why? Because Cruz wants to do all the spouting off, and frankly, when it comes to spouting off — if that's what the contest is — Trump is just a better teapot. (How convenient.)

No one pretends the process is perfect, least of all those of us who had a hand in the compromises that the often inconsistent rules for selecting delegates reflect. But here's the thing: Hillary Clinton is going to be the Democratic nominee because she is the most popular Democrat running among Democrats. Donald Trump is going to be the Republican nominee because he's the candidate who most Republicans favor. Strange as it sounds, this is what we call democracy. It does not always produce the results that elites crave, which is actually one of its strong points.

But the results need to be taken seriously. I didn't think Donald Trump could be nominated. I was wrong. I didn't think he could be elected. I'm not saying that anymore. The anger is real. Trump is no joke. Sexism is alive and well, thank you, in both sexes. Democrats can learn a lesson from all those former GOP front-runners sitting on the sidelines while the candidate who could hardly be taken seriously continues his march to the nomination.

(Susan Estrich is a professor of Law and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law Center. A best-selling author, lawyer and politician, as well as a teacher, she first gained national prominence as national campaign manager for Dukakis for President in 1988.)

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Froma Harrop - Let's break from identity politics

Both parties sort voters by color and gender. Though there's nothing new about promoting solidarity on the basis of genetics, it can get old really fast.

One sees some utility in this brand of politicking, especially for Democrats. The party of Donald Trump has done its darnedest to offend the growing Latino electorate. But Republicans will get smart about this and reverse course.

Even Trump? Especially Trump. As Trump continues his pivot to normality, his campaign will take a long shower and start making nice to women and Latinos — some of whom have shown interest in him, if only he'd stop attacking them.

Memory is short, and Trump's skill at self-mockery could ease the transition. With his support of programs that help the working class, Trump could pick off chunks of the Democratic coalition.

Note that the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce invited Trump to join a candidates forum in Washington (which he did not attend). While in no way an endorsement, this is not how one treats the devil.

Democratic strategists expect America's rapidly growing Latino and Asian populations to guarantee their electoral success. But history shows demographic firewalls crumbling as descendants of recent immigrants become culturally indistinguishable from the older European stock.

Meanwhile, the seeming obsession with minorities and women sends a "don't bother" sign to the white working class. Hostility toward dark people doesn't adequately explain why so many struggling whites have decamped for the Republican side.

Consider how a white working guy might respond to a headline like this one: "White Man or Black Woman? Senate Race Tears at Maryland Democrats."

The subject is the Democratic Senate primary race pitting Rep. Donna Edwards against Rep. Chris Van Hollen. The "conflict": Edwards, a black single mother, may be an attractive candidate, but Van Hollen has a long record as an effective progressive in Washington. There is no reason for liberals to abandon him unless they think race and gender are reason enough.

Emily's List apparently thinks so. Dedicated to promoting female candidates who support abortion rights, Emily's List has put its resources behind Edwards. Many contributors who've worked with Van Hollen are fuming, as well they might.

There's no item on the liberal women's agenda that Van Hollen has not championed, and, you know, there are other issues. There was a time when female candidates were a rarity, but that time has passed — and so has any rationale, frankly, for Emily's List.

Move on to the U.S. Supreme Court. President Obama has nominated Merrick Garland to fill the seat held by the late Antonin Scalia. According to a Washington Post analysis, "some top Democrats" are complaining that Obama threw away a "golden opportunity" by opting for "a mild-mannered white man."

"If he had picked an African American, a Latino or even an Asian candidate — and especially a woman," the unnamed Democrats (allegedly) told the writer, "he could have helped energize the coalition that got him reelected in 2012 and arguably pushed his nominee onto the court."

Set aside the reality that Republican leaders in the Senate have vowed to stop any Obama nominee. Ponder how such messages rile not only white men but also nonwhite men and women who regard themselves as intellectual equals (or superiors) to the sitting members and not tokens.

Trump's magic formula has been to crush a political correctness that habitually puts white men in the stocks while breaking with the Republican Party on positions that hurt the working class. A toned-down Trump would move from a tropical storm to a Category 3 hurricane threat for Democrats. And identity politics would not be their friend.

(A member of the Providence Journal editorial board, Froma Harrop writes a nationally syndicated column from that city. She has written for such diverse publications as The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Institutional Investor.)

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Pat Buchanan -America won't survive the death of God

In a recent column Dennis Prager made an acute observation.

"The vast majority of leading conservative writers ... have a secular outlook on life. ... They are unaware of the disaster that godlessness in the West has led to." These secular conservatives may think that "America can survive the death of God and religion," writes Prager, but they are wrong.

And, indeed, the last half-century seems to bear him out.

A people's religion, their faith, creates their culture, and their culture creates their civilization. And when faith dies, the culture dies, the civilization dies, and the people begin to die.

Is this not the recent history of the West?

Today, no great Western nation has a birthrate that will prevent the extinction of its native-born. By century's end, other peoples and other cultures will have largely repopulated the Old Continent. European Man seems destined to end like the 10 lost tribes of Israel — overrun, assimilated and disappeared.

And while the European peoples — Russians, Germans, Brits, Balts — shrink in number, the U.N. estimates that the population of Africa will double in 34 years to well over 2 billion people.

What happened to the West?

As G. K. Chesterton wrote, when men cease to believe in God, they do not then believe in nothing, they believe in anything.

As European elites ceased to believe in Christianity, they began to convert to ideologies, to what Dr. Russell Kirk called "secular religions." For a time, these secular religions — Marxism-Leninism, fascism, Nazism — captured the hearts and minds of millions. But almost all were among the gods that failed in the 20th century.

Now Western Man embraces the newer religions: egalitarianism, democratism, capitalism, feminism, One Worldism, environmentalism. These, too, give meaning to the lives of millions, but these, too, are inadequate substitutes for the faith that created the West.

For they lack what Christianity gave man — a cause not only to live for, and die for, but a moral code to live by, with the promise that, at the end a life so lived, would come eternal life. Islam, too, holds out that promise.

Secularism, however, has nothing on offer to match that hope.

Looking back over the centuries, we see what faith has meant. When, after the fall of the Roman Empire, the West embraced Christianity as a faith superior to all others, as its founder was the Son of God, the West went on to create modern civilization, and then went out and conquered most of the known world. The truths America has taught the world, of an inherent human dignity and worth, and inviolable human rights, are traceable to a Christianity that teaches that every person is a child of God.

Today, however, with Christianity virtually dead in Europe and slowly dying in America, Western culture grows debased and decadent, and Western civilization is in visible decline.

Rudyard Kipling prophesied all this in "Recessional": "Far-called our navies melt away; On dune and headland sinks the fire: Lo, all our pomp of yesterday/Is one with Nineveh and Tyre!"

All the Western empires are gone, and the children of once-subject peoples cross the Mediterranean to repopulate the mother countries, whose native-born have begun to age, shrink and die. Since 1975, only two European nations, Muslim Albania and Iceland have maintained a birthrate sufficient to keep their peoples alive. Given the shrinking populations inside Europe and the waves of immigrants rolling in from Africa and the Middle and Near East, an Islamic Europe seems to be in the cards before the end of the century. Vladimir Putin, who witnessed the death of Marxism-Leninism up close, appears to understand the cruciality of Christianity to Mother Russia, and seeks to revive the Orthodox Church and write its moral code back into Russian law.

And what of America, "God's country"?

With Christianity excommunicated from her schools and public life for two generations, and Old and New Testament teachings rejected as a basis of law, we have witnessed a startlingly steep social decline. Since the 1960s, America has set new records for abortions, violent crimes, incarcerations, drug consumption. While HIV/AIDS did not appear until the 1980s, hundreds of thousands have perished from it, and millions now suffer from it and related diseases.

Forty percent of U.S. births are out of wedlock. For Hispanics, the illegitimacy rate is over 50 percent; for African-Americans, it's over 70 percent.

Test scores of U.S. high school students fall annually and approach parity with Third World countries.

Suicide is a rising cause of death for middle-aged whites.

Secularism seems to have no answer to the question, "Why not?"

"How small, of all that human hearts endure, That part which laws or kings can cause or cure," wrote Samuel Johnson.

Secular conservatives may have remedies for some of America's maladies. But, as Johnson observed, no secular politics can cure the sickness of the soul of the West — a lost faith that appears irretrievable.

(Syndicated columnist Pat Buchanan has been a senior advisor to three presidents, twice a candidate for the Republican presidential nomination and the presidential nominee of the Reform Party in 2000. He won the New Hampshire Republican Primary in 1996.)

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Michelle Malkin - Yes, we need a Candian border wall

Canada's sloppy, rushed and reckless Syrian refugee resettlement program is America's looming national security nightmare.

Donald Trump shouldn't just be promising to build a Mexican border wall. He (and any other sovereignty-minded presidential candidate) should be vowing to rebuild the decimated "wall" of first-line watchdogs, field enforcement and patrol officers on our northern border.

The urgency could not be greater.

The Canadian liberal government has fast-tracked tens of thousands of Syrian Muslims into its country over the past five months and now plans to double its interim 25,000 goal by 2019. The bleeding-heart Canucks are forging ahead despite reports this week of the country's failed $16 million screening program to stop Islamic terrorists from slipping through the cracks.

Multiple databases are not interoperable. Information is outdated or useless. Canadian agents are delivering incomplete background checks too late to matter, anyway. Result: garbage in, garbage out, and untold numbers of unvetted refugees from jihad hotbeds on the loose at our doorstep. (As if the 1,500 Syrian refugees a month that the U.S. State Department is directly importing here through November aren't enough of a security headache!)

Instead of moving to fortify our northern border, Washington is diverting our boots on the ground and downsizing our fleet of surveillance pilots in the skies. Turnover is high, morale is low, and the jihadists' path to illegal entry has never been smoother.

In Plattsburgh, New York, 45 miles from Syrian refugee dumping ground Montreal, the Customs and Border Patrol's air branch has been slashed from 25 pilots down to a shocking six in the last three years. Shifts have been reduced to bankers' hours, while terror plotters and smugglers never rest. Members of Congress have been alerted to the perilous impact of downsizing, but have done nothing (except, that is, to fully fund the White House refugee resettlement racket).

In Montana, Reuters reported earlier this year, our federal enforcement force is still so understaffed that the Border Patrol depends on 100 private citizen ranchers along the northern border to police the U.S.-Canada boundaries.

Of 21,000 total Border Patrol agents, only 2,100 are assigned to the northern border. There are only about 300 agents guarding the entire northern border at any one time. That's less than the number of Capitol police on duty to protect the Capitol complex in D.C. alone, Buffalo, New York, sector Border Patrol agent Dean Mandel of the National Border Patrol Council pointed out to Congress.

Little has changed since Border Patrol agents in Washington state first told me 15 years ago of vast, abandoned sectors protected by nothing but orange rubber cones — even in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Little has changed since the 9/11 Commission spotlighted multiple al-Qaida operatives involved in cross-border traffic and incursions (both legal and illegal) from Canada.

Little has changed since the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported in 2011 that a measly 32 miles out of the 4,000-mile border was deemed secure by Border Patrol agents heavily dependent on non-DHS personnel for support.

A U.S. source who works for the Department of Homeland Security on the northern border told me last week that there remain vast "no-go zones" in his upstate New York sector that stretch for miles unpoliced — such as the smuggler-friendly Akwesasne reservation, where Mohawks are notoriously hostile to our Border Patrol, Air and Marine operations, and field operations agents.

"There's a gigantic hole on our northern border," my source described, where "people from countries of interest are crossing" into America. "Special interest countries," as the U.S. Army War College Guide to National Security defines it, are those "designated by the intelligence community as countries that could export individuals that could bring harm to our country in the way of terrorism."

"Yes, I've personally seen them. Every day. We call them 'gotaways,'" my source sighed. These newest border-jumpers are detected (by high-tech cameras and motion sensors), but neglected because the core national security mission is not a priority and no one's around to act on the alerts.

On the southern border, "gotaways" spiked 100 percent between 2011 and 2013. This year, as illegal trespassers from dangerous special interest countries have increased through Mexico, a Border Patrol whistleblower told Congress two months ago that his supervisors ordered agents to fudge data on "gotaways" by omitting them from data reports.

Think the same whitewashing is going on up north? You betcha.

As the disgusted northern border CBP official told me: "The attitude is no paperwork, no problems." No problems, of course, until that one ISIS operative toting a dirty bomb in his bag rolls right across the wide open U.S.-Canadian border — detected, but neglected — and our government's malign neglect blows up in our faces.

(Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin is the daughter of Filipino Immigrants. She was born in Philadelphia, raised in southern New Jersey and now lives with her husband and daughter in Colorado. Her weekly column is carried by more than 100 newspapers.)


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