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:
Post-publication note from Chuck: At the time I wrote the column below, news had not broken about the massive and devastating explosion at the fertilizer plant in West, Texas. Of course, all of my condolences and commendations about the victims and crisis care community in Boston I extend with profound correlations to my own heartbroken neighbors in Texas. One television news report estimated that 700 first responders were deployed immediately into action there. Let no one say the selfless and sacrificial American spirit isn't alive and well!
As with others across the nation, my wife, Gena, and I are so proud of the first responders and host of rescuers, medical personnel, law enforcement personnel, firemen, military members, crisis counselors and good Samaritans who immediately were called into action and undoubtedly saved lives, limbs and souls because of their heroic efforts. Truly, America's best shine brightest during our country's most difficult and darkest moments.
Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request revealed that agents for the Internal Revenue Service are bypassing warrants and sifting through the email and other electronic communications of American citizens.
Those documents disclosed that "agents were told they didn't need a warrant to root through emails, texts or Facebook pages of people (the IRS) is investigating," according to Fox News.
Last week, I gave 12 examples of how religious liberty has been assaulted in just the past two years in the U.S. Here are about two dozen more instances just for good measure, as reported by the Family Research Council, the office of Rep. Randy Forbes, R-Va., and various media outlets.
—The following public institutions recently have joined the growing ranks of those that have banned the use of the word "Easter" in order to diminish or eliminate references to religion: East Meadow School District in New York, Prospect Heights Public Library in Illinois, Heritage Elementary School in Alabama, Manhattan Beach Unified School District in California, Flat Rock Elementary School in South Carolina and West Shore School District in Pennsylvania.
It's Holy Week, but what's not so holy is the assault on religious liberty in the U.S.
Religious liberty has been called rightly America's "first freedom," not only because the right is contained in the First Amendment but also because it predates the U.S. and has its origin in God, not government, and the freedoms he endowed within us. But over the past few decades, that basic freedom has come under assault — particularly, in recent years, regarding Christianity.
The Telegraph, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, noted how Catholicism has spread its wings by appointing Pope Francis as its first non-European pope since A.D. 741. Yet countries such as Iran are still clamping down on religion by incarcerating Christians and putting them on trial for their faith.
According to Fox News, "five men were among seven arrested in October when security forces raided an underground house church in the city of Shiraz during a prayer session." And Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious persecution watchdog organization, elaborated that they are being tried in Islamic Revolutionary Court on charges of "disturbing public order, evangelizing, action against national security and ... (Internet) activity against the system."
Many conservatives point to great modern men and leaders, such as Ronald Reagan, as models we can follow, and I concur with their sentiments. But I think the best leaders lived long ago, during the founding of our republic, away from the limelight and luster of today's politics and Washington drama.
With Feb. 18's being Presidents Day and Feb. 22's being the actual day George Washington was born, I thought there would no better time to honor the man I consider to be one of the greatest leaders ever born. And I'm going to take a few weeks (columns) to do it.
In the past few weeks, I've highlighted ways we can reduce violent crime in the U.S. But I've saved the best and most powerful solutions for last because they work from the inside out.
In Part 1, I revealed how rational and rewarding it would be to post armed guards at our schools. In Part 2, I showed how reducing the number of firearms in the U.S. would not curb violent crime. In Part 3, I began to discuss the first of two ways in which our Founding Fathers expected to produce and maintain civility and decency in society. They esteemed all human life as equal and possessing intrinsic value far above the rest of creation, albeit while struggling with executing their beliefs as much as any generation — e.g., with slavery and the treatment of Native Americans and women.
In the past two weeks, I've highlighted ways we can reduce violent crime in the U.S. But I've saved the best and most powerful solutions for last because they work from the inside out.
In Part 1, I revealed how rational and rewarding it would be to post armed guards at our schools. In Part 2, I showed how reducing the number of firearms in the U.S. would not curb violent crime. Today and next week, I will discuss an age-old solution that America's Founding Fathers knew was key for maintaining civility in our communities — a solution being mimicked by a few nonprofit organizations in our public schools.
On Nov. 29, 1766, Benjamin Franklin wrote for the London Chronicle: "I am for doing good to the poor, but I differ in opinion of the means. — I think the best way of doing good to the poor, is not making them easy in poverty, but leading or driving them out of it. In my youth I travelled much, and I observed in different countries, that the more public provisions were made for the poor, the less they provided for themselves, and of course became poorer. And, on the contrary, the less was done for them, the more they did for themselves, and became richer."
I love seeing and hearing stories of people rising above adversity. Here is a story of one of those special people.
George Washington warned us in his Farewell Address about a time in America's future when we might be tempted to discard the pillars of civility: "Of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, religion and morality are indispensable supports. In vain would that man claim the tribute of patriotism who should labor to subvert these great pillars of human happiness, these firmest props of the duties of men and citizens. The mere politician, equally with the pious man, ought to respect and to cherish them."
Let me give a great example of what Washington's words look like in action.
When President Barack Obama was re-elected, the winds waned behind many patriots' ships' sails. My wife, Gena, and I felt that sock in the gut for our country and posterity, too. But instead of cowering in defeat, I believe we need to discard conventional (unsuccessful) strategies and advance in new directions.
The future of our country is going to hinge not upon the Republican Party's reinvention (as so many think) but upon each of us patriots asking what isn't working about our approach and modifying our attacks for greater impact in the culture and political wars. You don't fight and win unconventional wars with conventional weapons; that's why we lost in November.
The art of jiujitsu is to use an opponent's weight and strength to your advantage. I believe we can further choke the life out of Obamacare by using this martial art technique. Let me explain.
Last week, I shared with you that while Republicans' power to repeal Obamacare has been thwarted by the president's re-election, all is not lost. Conservatives can still suffocate the federal monstrosity by supporting individual-to-state efforts to impede its funding and implementation.
Now that Obama has been re-elected and Democrats still control the Senate, Republicans no longer have the chance to repeal Obamacare.
But all is not lost. There's still an opportunity for America to stop this disaster by choking the life out of the federal monstrosity. Obama's signature legislative achievement is likely headed back to the Supreme Court.
This holiday season, while we enjoy delicious food and visiting family and friends, let's take a moment to give thanks for our many blessings.
It's easy to get lost in all the bad news today — whether it be unfavorable election results, financial troubles, a struggling economy, an overreaching federal government, crisis in the Middle East or personal struggles. Our growing list of problems often seems overwhelming and endless.
"The nine most terrifying words in the English language are: 'I'm from the government, and I'm here to help.'" — President Ronald Reagan
Those wise and yet haunting words spoken by one of our nation's greatest presidents couldn't ring more true — especially today, as winter sets in on an estimated 130,000 of our fellow Americans who are still struggling without power. Many live without heat, hot water or inhabitable homes and question the government's efforts to alleviate their condition.
With the troubling devastation of Hurricane Sandy on our nation's doorstep — and so many people in need of food, shelter and emergency services after the storm — I encourage Americans to reach out to our neighbors and help them through this challenging time.
Sometimes it feels as if America is living through an Armageddon movie. We struggle with a destabilized economy, soaring national debt, an overburdened entitlement system, looming tax hikes, widespread unemployment, class warfare, ongoing wars, the threats of global terror and a nuclear Iran, and internal division and scandals, from "Fast and Furious" to the massacre in Benghazi, Libya. The list goes on and on.
The definition of spin is to apply a slant or particular emphasis to information, as to persuade or deceive.
President Barack Obama really has been pounding the pulpit the past few days, with the election right around the corner, with the help of his speechwriters. He sounds a lot like the Rev. Jeremiah Wright. About the only thing Obama hasn't said is "God damn America," as Wright did.