This week holds some critical dates. April 15 haunts most Americans as a tax deadline. April 18 and 20 this year commemorate the pinnacle in Holy Week — Good Friday and Easter. But April 13 still stands as an important day that eludes most Americans. It's the birthday of Thomas Jefferson.
We patriots love to quote the Founding Fathers, especially when they support our theses. And Jefferson remains at the top of the heap. But there are three beliefs or practices often attributed to Jefferson that are either myths or cherry-picked partial views.
As with all Americans, my wife, Gena, and I had our hearts broken again last Wednesday as we heard about another killing spree at Fort Hood, Texas, in which four people died and 16 more were injured at the U.S. Army's largest active-duty installation.
Chelsea Schilling, WorldNetDaily's commentator editor and journalist extraordinaire, reported shortly after the tragedy: "The shooter, identified as 34-year-old Ivan Lopez, is among the dead. Lopez reportedly died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound," but only after being confronted by a courageous female military police officer in the parking lot. (Interestingly, it was also a female cop who felt responsible for thwarting the Fort Hood gunman in 2009. Nidal Malik Hasan killed 13 people — the deadliest attack on a domestic military base in U.S. history.)
Fox News reported a few weeks ago about how the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., removed a Bible verse from a cadet's personal whiteboard. I am personally so disappointed that the branch of service that I served in to protect our freedoms is now trying to suppress them.
When one walks the dorm halls of the Air Force Academy, one immediately notices the hundreds of whiteboards hanging on students' doors. This past week, Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., cited Air Force officials who explained that cadets "often use these boards to display items, quotes or other things that reflect their personality or from which they draw inspiration." I guess the Bible is the wrong type of inspiration, at least according to some Air Force leaders.
With Obamacare's March 31 sign-up deadline and subsequent penalties looming over the heads of young and old Americans, citizens are wondering more than ever — and with good reason, I might add — whether Washington has dished out another bill of bad goods. And here are a few more solid reasons our skepticism about socialist medicine continues.
Reporter Bob Unruh at WorldNetDaily recently reported about how Obamacare is blocking patients from paying for their own treatments. The feds are already capping what some citizens can spend on their own health care, even if those patients are willing and able to cover their own costs.
A few weeks ago [click here for column], I began to show from extensive studies and evidence how alcohol use and marijuana use compare in terms of addiction, withdrawal and using motorized vehicles.
This week, I will discuss in greater detail how alcohol and marijuana compare in their effects on our minds, bodies and relationships. And then I want to conclude by addressing the most overlooked aspect of the marijuana legalization debate: its effects on the youth of America.
I don't have to explain to anyone how television is much more risque, with some programs being downright lewd, than it was decades ago. But I want to tell you about something that can change the course of values in television and movies.
Once upon a time, about as edgy as it got was Barbara Eden's "I Dream of Jeannie" character, who showed her trim tummy, and Elvis swinging his pelvis on "The Ed Sullivan Show" — though the broadcast screen only captured the upper half of his body as he did.
There are those who are champions on courses of competition. Then there are those who are victors in their caliber of character, too. In our often wayward world, the latter ought to be given not just a gold medal but a golden crown.
Being dead last is never fun. I would imagine that it is particularly painful if you've trained like a world champion, traveled halfway around the world and are competing at the Winter Olympics.
(Editor's note: Chuck has postponed the second part of his series "Alcohol vs. Marijuana" until after the Winter Olympics so he can address some moments of inspiration from the games.)
American snowboarder Sage Kotsenburg, a native of Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, made the decision of his life in Olympic competition over the weekend, and it paid off big-time, with the first American gold medal — and the first gold medal in general — in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. Whatever our aspirations, his example shows us the way to our ticket to gold, too.
I understand the arguments for the legalization of marijuana: It can generate tax revenue. It can reduce illegal supply and demand. It can strip power from cartels and lessen crime across and at our borders. And it isn't so dangerous as other illegal drugs or alcohol.
President Barack Obama even claimed one of those arguments when he recently told New Yorker Editor David Remnick, "As has been well-documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life."
I'm interrupting my series on Common Core State Standards for public schools to join the appeal to Iran and North Korea for the release of American hostages like imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini and missionary Kenneth Bae. And I'm also calling upon President Obama and Congress to step up their action, stand for religious freedom and fight for the release of these godly men, whose crimes were nothing more than exercising their faith.
For those who haven't followed the news on these men of the cloth, pastor Abedini was sentenced to eight years by an Iranian court last January for starting house churches in the 2000s, an era in which they weren't even regarded as a threat to Iran's security.
Advocates of Common Core State Standards love to point out how 45 states and the District of Columbia have voluntarily adopted this new national public school regimen. What they're not telling you, however, is how federal and state funds were used to muscle its adoption or how expert reviews and efficacy shortfalls have prompted political and educational action in at least 17 of those states to restrict or reverse the tides of CCSS rollout, according to a brand-new report in The Huffington Post.
In August, Alabama, Georgia, Indiana, Oklahoma and Utah withdrew from the assessment groups designing tests for the CCSS. And in September, Florida Gov. Rick Scott issued an executive order restricting Florida's involvement with the CCSS national assessments because of concerns over federal overreach of the program. Congress.org reported, "Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah are all currently considering full withdrawal with other fiscally conservative states sure to follow."
In Part 1 of my series on the Common Core State Standards being infused into 45 state public school systems, I revealed how the feds spent $350 million of taxpayer money, giving grants and waivers to muscle states and local school districts to accept the standards. And that was after 2009, when feds awarded, in the Department of Education's words, "governors approximately $48.6 billion ... in exchange for a commitment to advance essential education reforms ... including: college- and career-ready standards (aka CCSS)."
In Part 2, I showed how the feds are injecting their progressive agenda into curricula taught to U.S. kids in elementary, middle and high schools via their educative minions posted in academic arenas and among CCSS curricula creators.
After months of the feds doing everything they could to distance themselves from the origin and launch of the controversial Common Core State Standards, more and more of Washington's tentacles are surfacing through public rage, implementation revelations and the White House's own foot-in-mouth disease.
After Education Secretary Arne Duncan cast bigoted blame on "white suburban moms" for nationwide resistance to CCSS — an oops from which he still is reeling in public humiliation and maternal fury — White House spokesman Jay Carney dodged Duncan bullets by claiming ignorance to his statements. But then Carney buried the White House in federal ownership of CCSS by saying, "I can just tell you that the secretary of education and everybody on the president's team dedicated to this effort is focused on making sure that we do everything we can, working with states and others."
Last week, I explained what the Common Core State Standards are and how, despite the federal government's saying it's staying out of the classroom standards business, there is much evidence to show that the feds are intricately linked to them.
The first way I demonstrated that was by pointing out that the feds have spent $350 million of taxpayer money, funding and giving grants and waivers to muscle and bribe states and local school districts to accept CCSS. And all of that was done without a single act of Congress, meaning the federal government — including the White House — dumped protocol again to dodge accountability.
In 2007, a group of governors and state education chiefs got together to try to remedy the declining and degraded U.S. public academic system. Their goal was to establish a new set of standards that better prepared kids for college, careers and their ever-changing, hyper-connected and globally competitive world.
In short, as a result, the Common Core State Standards were born.
While gridlock is the game in Washington, pilfering and degradation apparently are the pastime of some unpatriotic thugs at war memorials across the country. For me, that is about as low as a nation and its people can go.
This past week in Natick, Mass., veterans and other law-abiding citizens were stunned to discover that a soldier's helmet — from one who died in battle — had gone missing from the community's prized Fallen Soldier's Memorial. The helmet was cemented atop a rifle that is part of a display that also includes a piece of the twin towers and two military boots beside a wall of names of service members who died during the battles of World War I, World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.
Last week, WCSC-TV reported that after Benjamin and Hope Jordan relocated to Charleston, S.C., they needed to find a baby sitter for their 7-month-old son, Finn, but what they found was a wolf in sheep's clothing.
Benjamin and Hope wanted a loving, nurturing baby sitter, just like any other concerned parents who work during the day but have no family or friends to watch their child. They had done their homework and thought they had discovered her in 21-year-old Alexis Khan. She passed a background check and had credible work experience as a baby sitter, and both of Finn's parents thought she was "a good fit."
In this last installment of my back-to-school series, I will address possibly the most controversial aspect of Thomas Jefferson and public education: Did he advocate and expect only a completely secular public education system?
Rather than have it remain only in churches or private schools, Jefferson proposed that religious education be incorporated in the public education system, too — but with a twist.
Well, it's that traditional time of the year again when the president goes on vacation and the conservative world ridicules him for taking time off with his family because of the disarray of our country or the enormousness of expenditures in his doing so. But is there really nothing redeemable or commendable in a father and husband's spending extended time with his family away from home and office, even when it's the Oval Office?
Don't misunderstand me. I have very little in common with our current president, and I think it's ludicrous how much is spent for the first family to go on a single week's vacation. There must be an easier and better way — if not many of them. But all of that doesn't discount the incredible value of a father and husband's pulling away from the rat race — especially in Washington — for a breather and some family time.
Sometimes life hits you like a roundhouse kick, reminding you about what really matters. That happened to me this past week with the life, bravery and fighting spirit of 35-year-old Jen Bulik.
I was just about to continue my series on Thomas Jefferson and public education, when I read Jen's story. (I'll pick up that series again in two weeks, after I highlight another amazing story of sacrifice and leadership.)
Before Indiana became a state in 1816, territorial Gov. William Henry Harrison organized the Indiana Rangers in 1807 to safeguard the Buffalo Trace — the main travel route between Louisville, Ky., and Vincennes, Ind.
The Indiana Rangers were a rough and tough band of men and women who were well-trained and ready to protect new settlers and tradesmen. They were forerunners of the popular Texas Rangers, of whom I am an honorary member and on whom I based my television series "Walker, Texas Ranger."
If only every 16-year-old had the courage and grit of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year for advocating girls' and women's education. Last Friday, she spoke to the United Nations and said education could change the world, Reuters reported.
I would add that it is an absolutely essential ingredient to establish and maintain any free people and society. Thomas Jefferson put it this way: "If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be."
Last week, I highlighted four little-known facts about the Declaration of Independence. Here are a few more facts to add to those oddities:
5) There are at least 26 surviving paper copies of the Declaration of Independence of the hundreds made in July 1776 for circulation among the Colonies.
After Congress adopted the Declaration of Independence, the Committee of Five, which was appointed to write it, was also responsible with overseeing its reproduction for proclamation to those living in the Colonies. The reproduction was done at the shop of Philadelphia printer John Dunlap.
Being about a week away from Independence Day, I was doing a little reflecting upon the history surrounding the Declaration of Independence. And I thought it would be of equal interest to many of my readers to look at some often-overlooked aspects of the declaration's production and legacy.
Several historical websites hold some fascinating facts about this national treasure — including the National Archives and Records Administration's site, at http://www.archives.gov. In addition, on History's website, the article "9 Things You May Not Know About the Declaration of Independence," by Elizabeth Harrison, has some intriguing notes. Let me elaborate on some of those and convey a few others I've discovered.
Though deadbeat dads and high-school dropouts might pervade some communities, there are still far more models than mess-ups across our country, and some stand head and shoulders above the rest. Let me tell you about a few stellar examples.
I understand that the fact that 1 in 4 U.S. students do not receive a regular high-school diploma is not good enough, with that number increasing to 1 in 2 students in New York City and other places and among Native Americans.
On Memorial Day weekend, 2 million people marched in protests against seed giant Monsanto for the purpose of bringing awareness to hazards from genetically modified food, which it and other companies manufacture. Organizer Tami Canal said protests were held in 436 cities in 52 countries.
Genetically modified plants are grown from genetically modified, or engineered, seeds, which are created to resist insecticides and herbicides so that crops can be grown to withstand a weed-killing pesticide or integrate a bacterial toxin that can ward off pests.
America has the UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championship) and the UCP (ultimate clutch players). One is mixed martial artists, and the other is quarterbacks of the NFL. They all are athletic warriors who are extremely determined to win.
My favorite in the UFC is Georges St-Pierre. My favorite in the UCP is Tim Tebow. I know what you are thinking: Tebow has been in the NFL for only three years. True, but Tim's 2011 season with the Denver Broncos was one of the most remarkable in football history.
In 1787, when delegates at the Constitutional Convention were divided and at an impasse regarding how to build our government and frame the U.S. Constitution, 81-year-old Benjamin Franklin appealed to the other delegates to pray for divine intervention to help them out of their darkness: