Why are Republicans waging war on contraception? It's not the first time the question has been asked, and it won't be the last. Truth be told, Republicans aren't engaging in battle on that front -- but the phrase gets close to a legitimate fight.
Congress, for its part, held an unprecedented vote in the House in February to end funding of Planned Parenthood. It's not a permanent or final vote; it was attached to a short-term move to keep the government funded. The debate in Congress was given momentum by the Live Action investigatory videos, which raised significant questions about what exactly Planned Parenthood is doing; but the rest of us need to discuss why we've let Planned Parenthood step in as a mainstream Band-Aid, throwing contraception and even abortion at problems that have much more fundamental solutions.
It's so easy to look at teenagers in general today and sigh. They’re more than a bit lazy, a bit spoiled, and more than a bit morally compromised. Two teenagers made national news. One showed common decency and sportsmanship, two virtues seemingly uncommon in that generation. Hope is restored.
Fifteen-year-old wrestler Joel Northrup faced a dilemma when he was scheduled to wrestle Cassy Herkelman, one of only two girls to make it to the state tournament. Even though he entered with a 35-4 record, Joel forfeited rather than violate his religious principles.
Cassy’s father, Bill Herkelman, praised the Northrup family: "That's their belief, and I praise them for sticking to it. This is the biggest stage in wrestling in the state, I would say, and they stuck to their beliefs when it probably tested it the most," he said. "It was probably a tough pill for him to swallow."
Frankly, I did not think of Chris Matthews as an episodic apologist until I watched his MSNBC documentary this week, "President of the World: The Bill Clinton Phenomenon." The episodic apologists are a familiar fixture of the Clinton administration, much as the court historians are a fixture of the administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Whereas the court historians always could be relied upon to spin history FDR's heroic way, the episodic apologists always end up slobbering all over the Clintons — albeit with a twist.
The court historians were always pretty straightforward. They adored FDR from the beginning to the end. The episodic apologists' lives are endlessly more complicated and melodramatic, as the Clintons are more complicated and melodramatic. There seems to be a script prepared for them. The apologists begin with high hopes and admiration for Bill and Bruno. Then Bill and Bruno fail them. The Clintons lie before grand juries or filch White House property while exiting for Chappaqua, or they are caught in Troopergate, in Travelgate, in Filegate or renting the Lincoln Bedroom. Of a sudden, the apologists suffer blighted hopes. First they become indignant. Then they feel used and abused. Some cry in public. Finally, hope springs anew.
NOTICE of REVISION: This column has been revised to correctly attribute The New York Times for data and reportage cited in its Feb. 16 story on the statistical value of human life.
Back in the American Wild West, federal and state governments often put a price on the heads of infamous outlaws like Billy the Kid, Jesse James, Sam Bass, Belle Star and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid.
Today, our government is not so selective. It's seeking to put a price on the head of every American. Not because they've robbed a train, but for a different reason that could lead to a very bad end.
A recent New York Times story summarizes how various government agencies have come up with formulas for determining how much we are worth. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Times notes, has set the value of a human life at $9.1 million, reaching this determination while proposing tighter restrictions on air pollution. During the Bush administration, EPA calculated our value at $6.8 million. Was the difference in price caused by inflation? The EPA didn't say.
At the risk of giddy over-optimism, I have the hunch that the American voting public is beginning to demand legislating that actually deals with the nation's problems. There is creeping — still ambiguous — evidence of this, starting with the national polling data.
I argued last December that President Barack Obama's support for the extension of the Bush tax cuts would not end up helping him once the 2011 legislating season started picking up steam, because by principle the president was toward the left side of the political spectrum — and the public was toward the right — particularly on the matter of public debt and deficit.
It is truly disgusting for me to hear politicians, national and international talking heads and pseudo-academics praising the Middle East stirrings as democracy movements. We also hear democracy as the description of our own political system. Like the founders of our nation, I find democracy and majority rule a contemptible form of government.
You say, "Whoa, Williams, you really have to explain yourself this time!"
First lady Michelle Obama said, "Let's Move!" Who knew Democratic politicians in Wisconsin and Indiana would take her literally?
Faced with stifling debt, bloated pensions and intractable government unions, liberal Midwestern legislators have fled those states — paralyzing Republican fiscal reform efforts. Like Monty Python's Brave Sir Robin and his band of quivering knights, these elected officials have only one plan when confronted with political hardship or economic peril: Run away, run away, run away.
When three-fourths of the Boston police department went on strike in 1919, leading to broken shop windows and looting, then-Massachusetts Governor Calvin Coolidge called out the state militia and broke the strike. Coolidge declared, "There is no right to strike against the public safety by anybody, anywhere, any time."
His courage propelled him to the vice presidency and eventually to the presidency.
"The fate of our country won’t be decided on a battlefield. It will be determined in a classroom." Do you believe that?
Last week, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker called on 14 state Senate Democrats, who had fled the state instead of voting on a deficit-cutting anti-teachers-union bill, to return and do their jobs. Senate Republicans hold a 19-14 majority there but can't vote on the bill unless at least one Democrat is present.
Does that sound like democracy at work to you? Do you think it’s just a coincidence that the two largest teachers unions, the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers, are the largest campaign contributors in the nation -- $55 million in just the past two years, more than the Teamsters, the National Rifle Association or any other organization -- and that 90 percent of those contributions fund only Democratic candidates?
Unfortunately, being called "Mr. Hannah Montana" in a glossy-magazine headline is far from Billy Ray Cyrus' biggest problem.
As many a headline has proclaimed, the former country music and television star may be suffering from a brutally true-life "Achy Breaky Heart." Cyrus is divorced and somewhat estranged from his famous daughter, Miley, born Destiny Hope.
Talking about his time co-starring as Hannah Montana's dad in his daughter's series by that name, he tells GQ: "You think, 'This is a chance to make family entertainment, bring families together ...' and look what it's turned into."
Welcome to the reckoning. We have met the fiscal apocalypse, and it is smack dab in the middle of the heartland. As Wisconsin goes, so goes the nation. Let us pray it does not go the way of the decrepit welfare states of the European Union.
The lowdown: State government workers in the Badger State pay piddling amounts for generous taxpayer-subsidized health benefits. Faced with a $3.6 billion budget hole and a state constitutional ban on running a deficit, new GOP Gov. Scott Walker wants public unions to pony up a little more. He has proposed raising the public employee share of health insurance premiums from less than 5 percent to 12.4 percent. He is also pushing for state workers to cover half of their pension contributions. To spare taxpayers the soaring costs of Byzantine union-negotiated work rules, he would rein in Big Labor's collective bargaining power to cover only wages unless approved at the ballot box.
I knew we were in for real budgetary trouble with Obama, but his recent statements on the subject make me wonder whether he is so brainwashed with liberal ideology as to be divorced from reality — or worse.
Based on his tireless rhetoric, it would appear that he thinks — contrary to all evidence, including the failure of his $868 billion stimulus package to create jobs — that even more spending would finally lead to jobs. This, though even his economic advisers have warned us not to expect unemployment levels to reduce to acceptable levels for years.
In the meantime, as wrongheaded as he is about government spending's creating jobs, he's outright delusional about what he's doing to the national debt — and that's giving him the benefit of the doubt.
After the riots in Athens, the Greek authorities decided to enact new laws to deal with their obvious problems. The new laws, which treat rich and poor alike for the first time, have been seen has harsh. The name of the legislator who wrote the laws is a man called Draco. The date is believed to be 621 B.C. And more than 2,600 years later, the adjectival form of his name — draconian — is still tossed around here in Washington anytime someone proposes real budget cuts.
Of course, most of the Washington hands who hurl the "draconian" charge around probably do not know that Draco's laws were considered "just" according to Aristotle. For the first time in Athenian law, the codes were written down so that even poor people could know what was legal and what was illegal — thus they could avoid inadvertently breaking the law.
Now the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, has joined the chorus. The other day, he said, "My answer is clearly yes, it is a failure." The "it" was multiculturalism, and he was on French national television. In pronouncing multiculturalism defunct, the French president joins German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Australia's former prime minister John Howard, Spain's former premier Jose Maria Aznar and, most recently, British Prime Minister David Cameron in heaving a failed policy into history's dustbin. The question is, What will replace it? Or actually another question, How did multiculturalism ever become a policy of these European countries, anyway?
On the home page of the Office of Management and Budget website, President Obama is quoted: "Rather than fight the same tired battles that have dominated Washington for decades, it's time to try something new."
If only he would, but the president's proposed $3.7 trillion budget is more of the same: taxing and spending for which liberal Democrats are known and "cuts" as in Pell Grants and home heating assistance for the poor he knows congressional Democrats are unlikely to approve. It is also full of assumptions about revenue and a rosy scenario on economic growth that is more than double current growth.
Why is it that Egyptians do well in the U.S. but not Egypt? We could make that same observation and pose that same question about Nigerians, Cambodians, Jamaicans and others of the underdeveloped world who migrate to the U.S. Until recently, we could make the same observation about Indians in India, and the Chinese citizens of the People's Republic of China, but not Chinese citizens of Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Let's look at Egypt. According to various reports, about 40 percent of Egypt's 80 million people live on or below the $2 per-day poverty line set by the World Bank. Unemployment is estimated to be twice the official rate pegged at 10 percent.
Much of Egypt's economic problems are directly related to government interference and control that have resulted in weak institutions vital to prosperity. Hernando De Soto, president of Peru's Institute for Liberty and Democracy (www.ild.org.pe), laid out much of Egypt's problem in his Wall Street Journal article (Feb. 3, 2011), "Egypt's Economic Apartheid." More than 90 percent of Egyptians hold their property without legal title.
I am not a sage, a soothsayer or even a wise man but it has been as obvious as the nose on my face, every since this upheaval in Egypt started that the country is going to end up in radical Islamic hands.
It may be less obvious, but never the less inevitable, that the rest of the Middle Eastern Muslim countries are going to follow suit sooner or later.
It's pretty hard to stomach when President Obama even talks in terms of cutting the deficit, because his entire economic philosophy compels him to keep spending as if his goal were to impoverish our children and because he continues, in fact, to spend at such bankrupting levels.
Reuters reports that Obama's proposed budget would cut the deficit by $1.1 trillion over 10 years. Are you kidding me? We wouldn't even come close to balancing the budget if we applied all those cuts in one year, but spread out over 10 years, they are insulting. Plus, many of these "cuts" would be solely the result of bringing troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan.
We also learned that Obama's deficit for 2011 would not be the outrageously obscene $1.5 trillion the Congressional Budget Office revealed last month, which was already substantially above last year's $1.3 trillion, but a staggering $1.65 trillion.
Former first lady Barbara Bush said on Greta Van Susteren's "On the Record" this past week: "We've got a real problem in public schools. ... This is a national crisis. It's as bad as anything in our country."
When Van Susteren was pointing out from Bush's own op-ed piece that "Texas (is) 36th in the nation in high-school graduates (and) 3.8 million Texans don't have a high-school diploma," Bush said, "No more, you're killing us."
Bush was commendably protecting Texas pride as she told Van Susteren not to cite any further degrading statistics about the state of Lone Star education, though she herself references it in her op-ed piece:
She was "small, bubbly and joyful. She had a radiant smile," with a "sweet" face. And yet, she wept.
She was a nun, in full habit, standing outside a Planned Parenthood clinic that Abby Johnson was running in Texas.
The first day Johnson and her staff saw her, they "gawked," and gathered at the clinic window. It was near 100 degrees, and there she was "in a heavy, dark brown habit that swept to the ground," Johnson, in her new book, "Unplanned," remembers: "Her head and hair were completely covered so that only her face showed, a face lifted toward heaven, eyes closed, clearly praying."
And then a "client" left the clinic, a woman who had just had an abortion.
One of liberalism's many problems is that once an idea or program is proved wrong and unworkable, liberals rarely acknowledge their mistake and examine the root cause of their error so they don't repeat it.
Take multiculturalism ... please!
In a speech to a security conference in Munich, British Prime Minister David Cameron declared state multiculturalism a failure. For good measure, Cameron said Britain also must get tougher on Islamic extremists. Predictably, this has angered Islamic extremists.
While The New York Times is gloating over "turmoil" in the GOP House "ranks," internal disagreements over spending and other issues are a healthy development and should lead to more disciplined and aggressive action.
In his State of the Union speech, President Obama presented himself as a remade fiscal hawk, promising to freeze discretionary spending for five years. Conservatives immediately called him out on his disingenuousness. After greatly escalating baseline spending the past two years, his freeze pledge, especially when coupled with his gross inattention to the looming entitlement crisis, would just lock us onto our inexorable path to national bankruptcy.
Thanks to the persistent investigative work of young pro-life journalists, Planned Parenthood's ruthless, money-grubbing colors are on full, fresh YouTube display. But as shocking as the illicit new videos from Live Action Films are, the routine, parental authority-sabotaging advice the taxpayer-funded abortion racket gives teens every day deserves more front-page headline news, too.
Live Action is a California-based "new media, investigative and educational organization committed to the protection and respect of all human life" led by Internet undercover pioneer Lila Rose. The group's latest video footage at abortion clinics in Perth Amboy, N.J., the Bronx and four cities in Virginia shows Planned Parenthood officials aiding and abetting individuals posing as criminal sex traffickers seeking abortions for underage girls.
The other night while watching the Super Bowl, I became increasingly aware that the Angry Left might have a point about the Giant Corporations. Not that the game was not exciting. It was. Those quarterbacks can really heave the ball. Suddenly it is in their hands, and suddenly it is in a receiver's outreached arms, having passed through a forest of opposing players' arms. Both teams were composed of players who apparently were made of rubber. They hurled themselves at one another and occasionally at the hard turf and simply bounced. Occasionally they did not. Sometimes they were injured, occasionally rather badly. But for the most part, they seemed amazingly resilient. It was a hell of a battle, and doubtless the better team won, but I cheered for both teams. They were great.
Had I only to watch the game, I would have been happy, though even happier had I lowered the volume of the inane commentary. Possibly the networks have an agreement to hire garrulous, loud, excessively male commenters who have very little to say but say it repetitiously. Unfortunately, it hardly adds to the excitement of the game. Rather, it adds to the confusion of the programming, and there was a great deal of confusion Sunday night. For whole stretches, I sat there stupefied by the confusion, most of it provided by the ads and by the garrulous commentators. Not much can be done about the ads, which seem to get more stupid and incoherent every year, but something can be done about these excessively virile loudmouths.
Sam Kazman's "Drug Approvals and Deadly Delays" article in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (Winter 2010), tells a story about how the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's policies have led to the deaths of tens of thousands of Americans. Let's look at how it happens.
During the FDA's drug approval process, it confronts the possibility of two errors. If the FDA approves a drug that turns out to have unanticipated, dangerous side effects, people will suffer. Similarly, if the FDA denies or delays the marketing of a perfectly safe and beneficial drug, people will also suffer. Both errors cause medical harm.
Kazman argues that from a political point of view, there's a huge difference between the errors. People who are injured by incorrectly approved drugs will know that they are victims of FDA mistakes. Their suffering makes headlines. FDA officials face unfavorable publicity and perhaps congressional hearings.
Last Sunday, the media were reporting that the Muslim Brotherhood was sitting down with Egyptian Vice President Omar Suleiman, in a completely unrelated story, the BBC reported that British Prime Minster David Cameron announced that "State multiculturalism has failed": "David Cameron has criticized 'state multiculturalism' in his first speech as prime minister on radicalization and the causes of terrorism.
"At a security conference in Munich, he argued the UK needed a stronger national identity to prevent people turning to all kinds of extremism. He also signaled a tougher stance on groups promoting Islamist extremism.
"... As Mr. Cameron outlined his vision, he suggested there would be greater scrutiny of some Muslim groups which get public money but do little to tackle extremism. "
At Philadelphia's 30th Street Station on Tuesday, lifelong government rail promoter Vice President Joe Biden unveiled a $53 billion high-speed train initiative and half-joked: "I'm like the ombudsman for Amtrak." As with most gaffetastic Biden-isms, the remark should prompt more heartburn than hilarity. Just who exactly is looking out for taxpayers when it comes to federal rail spending?
Vigorous independent oversight of public infrastructure binges is especially critical given the nation's long history of mass transit slush funds, cost overruns and union-monopolized construction projects to nowhere. Among the new projects championed by the Obama administration: a $10 billion New Jersey-to-New York commuter rail tunnel pushed by Senate Democrats that state officials won't pay for but believe everyone else in the nation should be forced to subsidize. When Biden talks about "seizing the future," he's talking about seizing your wallets for his party's electoral security.
Those censorious liberals who truly hate the very existence of the Fox News Channel denounce it for being a political organization, not truly a news network. Behind that line is decades of liberals being able to strangle, smother, and spike news stories they didn’t like. Liberals defined what “news” was, and what it wasn’t. They’re still at it today.
Take the pro-life group Live Action. On February 1, they released shocking videos showing what they found when they brought hidden cameras into Planned Parenthood clinics, with a man and woman posing as pimp and prostitute. An office manager was taped telling the “pimp” how to evade the law, such as lying about prostitutes' ages if they were children 14 or under. Any older and the clinic would be obligated to report to the authorities. “We want as little information as possible,” she said conspiratorially.
That matches very nicely with the mindsets of ABC, CBS, and NBC, which absolutely refused to acknowledge the existence of this damning video. (Fox News did cover it, and so did CNN.)
Republicans look strong each time President Obama assaults the treasury or the democratic process, but people seem more willing to forgive his infractions than they are with other politicians. That, along with the possibility of fissures among conservatives, could make him a formidable candidate for re-election.
It's mystifying that anyone other than pure leftists and those on the public dole could even consider voting for Obama after the way he's governed and behaved in office, but he seems to have nine political lives. It's amazing that he could enjoy high approval ratings while his policies are so unpopular. But so many invested their hope in him to be the man he pretended to be, and they don't want to let it go. The mainstream media are happy to nourish that sentiment, and their job will be even easier if the economy continues to rebound despite Obama's repeated body blows to it.
Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Google services all have been disrupted by Egyptian governing authorities in pursuit of clamping down on protests. And we don't think the U.S. government would do the same?
Tell me, what's the difference between the Egyptian government's shutting down social networks to "bring order" to protests and the U.S. government's shutting down the Internet if there is an "imminent cyber threat"? Answer: nothing.
Over the past two years, the Obama administration has ramped up regulation and control of the Internet. Of course, it's packaging any bids to do so under Internet and homeland security.