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.
The last time there was a terrorist attack on America, we got the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration. Each entity has spent billions to keep us safe, but neither could stop two brothers, Tamerlan, a permanent resident, and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, a newly minted U.S. citizen, who lived in America and, reportedly, became radicalized jihadists, from killing and maiming innocent people at the Boston Marathon last week.
According to Dana Priest and William M. Arkin of The Washington Post, "Some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States. ... An estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. ... In Washington and the surrounding area, 33 building complexes for top-secret intelligence work are under construction or have been built since September 2001. Together they occupy the equivalent of almost three Pentagons or 22 U.S. Capitol buildings -- about 17 million square feet of space."
I wonder why President Obama feels he has the right to be outraged when legislators don't automatically roll over to his policy demands. I suspect that his moral indignation is more about personally losing than it is about policy issues themselves.
For indeed, President Obama was obviously furious when his gun control bill failed to muster sufficient votes to pass the Senate. Politico reported, "More than anything, it was an emotional blow to Obama, who was as irritated at the four members of his own party as he was at the 90 percent of Republicans who defeated the bill."
Suppose you buy a gallon of gas for $3. How much did it cost you? You say, "Williams, that's a silly question. It cost $3." That's where you're mistaken, because there's a difference between price and cost. To prove that price and cost are not the same, consider the following. Suppose you live and work in New York City and routinely pay $15 for a haircut. Imagine you were told that there's a barber in Boise, Idaho, who can give you the identical haircut for just $5. Would you start going to the Boise barber? I'm betting you'd answer no because even though the price is cheaper, the cost is greater.
We might think of price as the money that's actually given in exchange for the transfer of ownership. When you purchased the gallon of gas, you simply transferred your ownership of $3. What the gas cost you is a different matter. One way to determine the cost of a gallon of gas is to ask yourself what sacrifice you had to make in order to have $3 to buy it. Say that your annual salary is $75,000. Your total federal income tax, state income tax, local taxes and Social Security and Medicare taxes come to about 35 percent of your salary. That means that in order to purchase the $3 gallon of gas required that you earned about $4.60 in order to have $3 after taxes. That means a gallon of gas costs you $4.60 worth of sacrifice. But that's not so costly as it is to a richer person — for example, someone earning a yearly salary of $500,000. He has to earn more than $5 before taxes in order to have $3 after taxes to purchase gas.
When Republicans start lying like Democrats, you can guess they are pushing an idea that's bad for America. During his William Ginsburg-like tour of the Sunday talk shows last weekend, Sen. Marco Rubio was the Mount Vesuvius of lies about his immigration bill.
Here is how Rubio explained the powerful border-enforcing mechanism in his bill on "Fox News Sunday," which he denied was merely a meaningless goal:
When asked on left-leaning MSNBC why President Barack Obama refrained from describing the Boston bombings as a "terrorist attack" David Axelrod, Obama's longtime political advisor, readily saw a political opportunity. The blood had not yet been washed away from the streets. We had yet to count up the casualties. Yet Axelrod saw a political opening, an opportunity to advance one or another of his pet political issues. So he said, "I'm sure what was going through the president's mind is — we really don't know who did this — it was tax day." Yes, tax day!
This is not the response of a normal mind. A normal mind would not, given the promiscuity of public bombings in the Middle East and now another bombing here in America, think it was provoked by "tax day." Conceivably the bombs in Boston were the work of small-government libertarians or of Tea Partiers. They could even be the work of vegetarians, but that was not the question. Axelrod was asked why the president was not describing the bombings as a terrorist attack. It certainly looked more like the work of terrorists — either left-wing lunatics or right-wing lunatics — than tax protesters.
In brief remarks to the nation yesterday on the Boston Marathon bombings, President Obama said that "we all have a part to play in alerting authorities. If you see something suspicious, speak up." In Washington, D.C., electronic signs urged commuters to be on guard. Law enforcement, big-city mayors and security experts all echoed that famous post-terrorism refrain: "If you see something, say something."
Does America lack "compassion" and "humanity" for uninvited foreigners? Quite the contrary. While open-borders activists rail against "injustice" and demand new "pathways to citizenship," official U.S. policy rewards countless line-jumpers with permanent residency and taxpayer-subsidized benefits.
Case in point: the massive "Temporary Protected Status" (TPS) program run by the Department of Homeland Security.
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.
The old adage "better late than never" might not apply in the case of President Obama's tardily filed budget.
It's one thing to habitually arrive late for scheduled appearances selfishly to build suspense and annoy those in attendance, but it's another to present this document two months late and after both the House and Senate have passed their own respective budgets.
A couple of weeks ago, Black Entertainment Television founder Bob Johnson, speaking at The National Press Club, said the nation "would never tolerate white unemployment at 14 and 15 percent." Black unemployment has been double that of white Americans for more than 50 years. The black youth unemployment rate is more than 40 percent nationally. In some cities, unemployment for black working-age males is more than 50 percent. Let's look at this, but first let's look at some history.
From 1900 to 1954, blacks were more active than whites in the labor market. Until about 1960, black male labor force participation in every age group was equal to or greater than that of whites. During that period, black teen unemployment was roughly equal to or less than white teen unemployment. As early as 1900, the duration of black unemployment was 15 percent shorter than that of whites; today it's about 30 percent longer. To do something about today's employment picture requires abandonment of sacred cows and honesty.
MANCHESTER, England -- There is a story about Margaret Thatcher, which is probably apocryphal, but speaks volumes about the strength of Britain's first female prime minister, who died Monday at age 87.
Following her election in 1979, the story goes that Thatcher took her all-male cabinet out to dinner. The waiter asked what she would like. "I'll have the beef," she said. The waiter asked, "What about the vegetables?" "They'll have the same," Thatcher replied.
In 1983 when President Reagan ordered the deployment of missiles in Europe as part of his "peace through strength" strategy to counter the Soviet Union, the very liberal town of Takoma Park, Md., declared itself a "nuclear free zone." City officials passed an ordinance known as The Takoma Park Nuclear Free Zone Act, which said, "...work on nuclear weapons is prohibited within the city limits..."
If North Korea follows through on its threat to nuke the United States (or had Russia in the '80s launched a nuclear attack), Takoma Park would not be "nuclear free" for long, but the ordinance made some people feel as though they were doing something constructive, something meaningful, about the nuclear threat, and wasn't that their point?
Just days after the Turner Broadcasting System CEO claimed that CNN "is a serious news network," it aired a childish report on "Anderson Cooper 360" about convicted murderer Amanda Knox, which appears to have been written by Amanda's parents. Next up: "The Charles Manson story, reported by Squeaky Fromme."
Amanda, you may recall, was charged, along with her Italian boyfriend and another of her acquaintances, of sexually assaulting and murdering her English roommate, Meredith Kercher, in Perugia, Italy, in 2007. Amanda and her boyfriend, Raffaele Sollecito, were convicted, the convictions reversed and then the reversal reversed.
My first question after reading about seven teachers in an Atlanta, Ga., public school accused of altering standardized test scores to make it appear students performed better than they actually did was: How could they!?
The seven were nicknamed "the chosen" and, according to Georgia state investigator Richard Hyde, the less than magnificent seven sat in a locked room without windows, erasing wrong answers and inserting correct ones. It's one thing for a child to cheat on a test; it's quite another for teachers to do it.
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.
Bleeding-heart liberal Robert Redford is already the subject of early Oscar buzz. His much-hyped new film glamorizing the lives of Weather Underground domestic terrorists, "The Company You Keep," will be released in the U.S. next week. But peace-loving moviegoers should save their money and take a stand.
Hollywood's romanticizing of murderous radicals is an affront to decency. Redford and Company's rose-colored hagiography of bloodstained killers defiles the memory of all those victimized by leftwing militants on American soil.
Sixty-eight percent of voters believe that, when done legally, immigration is good for America. Most voters for years have favored a welcoming policy of immigration. Unlike many issues these days, there is virtually no partisan disagreement.
These facts raise a question that should make everyone in official Washington uncomfortable. If immigration is good for America and there is support across party lines, why can't the politicians figure out a way to come up with something that works?
Are women equal to men? Are Jews equal to gentiles? Are blacks equal to Italians, Irish, Polish and other white people? The answer is probably a big fat no, and the pretense or assumption that we are equal — or should be equal — is foolhardy and creates mischief. Let's look at it.
Male geniuses outnumber female geniuses 7-to-1. Female intelligence is packed much closer to the middle of the bell curve, whereas men's intelligence has far greater variability. That means that though there are many more male geniuses, there are also many more male idiots. The latter might partially explain why more men are in jail than women.
The New York Times' kazillion-word, March 17 article by Michael Luo on the failures of state courts to get guns out of the hands of men in domestic violence situations has caused a sensation.
The main purpose of the article was to tweak America's oldest civil rights organization, the National Rifle Association, for opposing some of the more rash anti-gun proposals being considered by state legislatures, such as allowing courts to take away a person's firearms on the basis of a temporary restraining order.
"If there is anything that links the human to the divine, it is the courage to stand by a principle when everybody else rejects it." -- Abraham Lincoln
History is full of warnings about what happens when people follow public opinion instead of standing by their principles. In its most extreme manifestation, public opinion might well become mob rule when vigilantes take the law into their own hands.
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.
It's business as usual in the post-9/11 world. Your federal government is back to pandering to wealthy travelers from Saudi Arabia. In the eyes of our massive homeland security apparatus, the comfort of Saudis is a higher priority than the safety of American citizens.
And thanks to reckless, feckless bureaucrats who fear being labeled "racists," "xenophobes" and "Islamophobes," political correctness remains the handmaiden of terror.
I had barely left the stage at CPAC when Republicans did the exact thing I told them not to do.
Contrary to giddy liberals writing the obituary of the Republican Party, the nation has not swung left. Republicans just keep losing easy races through unforced errors. I advised them to stop doing that.
For the first time, I am wondering about the long-term viability of the Republican Party. I say this not as an advocate of its demise or restructuring but as an observer of troubling signs.
The Republican Party is thought to be the institutional vehicle for the advancement of conservative policies, but for decades, the conservative movement has been frustrated with the party's deviation from conservative principles — its refusal to live up to its decidedly conservative platform.
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."