It's that time of year when we are reminded just how indebted we are to the left's mega-tolerant cultural warriors. Annually, they jolt us out of our complacency to notice how imposing, intolerant and dangerous Christmas and Christianity are.
If it weren't for these valiant soldiers, this disturbing proliferation of Christmas celebrations and other Christian symbols would proceed unabated.
Each year, the examples are too voluminous to document exhaustively, but permit me to share a few highlights, which will enhance your appreciation for the sheer magnitude of the effort being undertaken by these selfless watchdogs committed to liberating our culture(s) from the oppressive chains of Christmas and Christianity. The noble work of these secular saints is global in scope because the threat they confront recognizes no geographic or national boundaries.
The Republican congressional leadership congratulated itself for leading nine "moderate" GOP senators away from a cliff and back to solid footing by persuading them not to vote with Democrats on a 1,924-page, $1.2 trillion omnibus spending bill that has more pork in it than a pig farm.
Instead, most Republicans went along with another bill, which President Obama quickly signed last Friday. It preserves the Bush-era tax rates, but also perpetuates the cycle of debt and spending that contributed to America's current economic difficulties.
I must commend President Barack Obama for getting closer this year to conveying the true message of Christmas. But how does that saying go, "Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades"?
This time last year, President Obama botched his yuletide yodels. Preceding presidents took pride in America's Judeo-Christian and Christmas heritage, but President Obama — on Dec. 24, 2009, with the first lady at his side — delivered the most brief, impersonal and impotent religious admonition in the history of presidential Christmas addresses, describing the incomparable Bethlehem miracle as merely containing a benign "message of peace and brotherhood that continues to inspire more than 2,000 years after Jesus' birth."
Momma, don't let your babies grow up to be stay-at-home mommas. That seemed to be the underlying bias from a popular daytime TV show. It's not a new message, but it's one that may be changing.
"She almost made it," is how Barbara Walters introduced Rachel Campos-Duffy and her husband, Sean Duffy, a congressman-elect, to the set of ABC's "The View." Campos-Duffy, a former reality-TV cast member and now author and mother of six, had auditioned for, and come close to joining, the women of "The View," years before.
You may have never heard of the 17-year-old actress Taylor Momsen, but she represents everything that’s wrong with pop culture today. At seven, she starred as the adorable Cindy Lou Who in Jim Carrey’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas,” but there’s nothing adorable in what she’s done lately.
Momsen is a “multiple threat,” matching acting on CW’s smutty teen series “Gossip Girl” with a “music career” with a band accurately titled “The Pretty Reckless.” In July, still aged 16, Momsen's music video for the song “Miss Nothing” featured her in raccoonish eye makeup wearing a white silk bodysuit, fishnet stockings and garters – not exactly your standard high school junior outfit – a child, crawling, standing and lying on her back on a banquet table offering herself figuratively as a morsel for men twice her age.
In September came another video, for the song “Make Me Wanna Die,” where she walked down the street, systematically stripping until she stood in a fiery cemetery in her underwear and stockings. She promised in the lyrics she would steal and die for her beloved.
No matter how soothing the White House overtures to business leaders sounded this week, an inconvenient fact remains: Washington is gripped by crab-in-the-bucket syndrome. And there's no cure in sight.
Put a single crab in an uncovered bucket, and it will find a way to climb up and out on its own. Put a dozen crabs in a bucket, and 11 will fight with all their might to pull down the striver who attempts escape. President Obama sought to reassure 20 CEOs that he wasn't the king crab holding them down: "I want to dispel any notion we want to inhibit your success," he cooed. "We want to be boosters because when you do well, America does well."
Conservatism and responsible government won a resounding victory in November's elections, and yet just a month later, we're witnessing legislative arrogance on a scale you wouldn't expect if voters had ratified the ruling class' sprint toward national bankruptcy. Can you imagine how it would be acting if it hadn't received a "shellacking"?
It seems that Washington is embracing all the principles and practices the voters soundly rejected, without the slightest indication it either received the message or cares. Are we seeing any evidence of greater transparency, a rejection of earmarks, budgetary restraint or legislative deliberation?
The big news this week is that in the Senate, the Democrats have joined with the Republicans to pass tax relief contained in an extension of the hated Bush tax cuts. Certainly by early next week, the House of Representatives will have done the same. Thus, the burden overhanging the economy of a huge tax increase is eliminated for two years. After that, it sounds as if our president, if he still is our president, threatens to raise taxes. Somehow he came around to accepting the argument that one does not raise taxes in a slow-growing economy. A few months back, it appeared that in the unlikely event that the senators and the representatives extended the hated Bush tax cuts, our president would veto the bill. Now he has accepted it. Has he learned anything?
His behavior suggests that he has not. He calls the Republicans "hostage takers" whose tax cuts are their "Holy Grail." And he has not a kind word for the Democratic opponents of the tax bill, though he says he agrees with them. This is not a happy compromise for President Barack Obama. He is sticking with "Das Kapital," or the economic logic in it. Well, I shall stick with Rep. Paul Ryan's "A Roadmap for America's Future." We shall see which of the two tomes is more agreeable to the electorate in 2012.
Environmentalists hate sprawl — except when it comes to the size of their expansive pet legislation on Capitol Hill.
In a last-ditch lame duck push, eco-lobbyists have been furiously pressuring Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., to pass a monstrous 327-page omnibus government lands bill crammed with more than 120 separate measures to lock up vast swaths of wilderness areas. Despite the time crunch, Senate Democrats in search of 60 votes are working behind the scenes to buy off green Republicans. House Democrats would then need a two-thirds majority to fast-track the bill to the White House before the GOP takes over on Jan. 5.
Yes, the hurdles are high. But with Reid and company now vowing to work straight through Christmas into the new year (when politicians know Americans are preoccupied with the holidays), anything is possible. The Constitution is no obstacle to these power grabbers. Neither is a ticking clock.
In the spirit of the Christmas season, let me highlight from last week's confusing Washington rhetoric a statement by the president that was shrewd — even wise. On behalf of the spirit of compromise, he pointed out that even though, under the original constitutional compromise, he (implicitly, as a black man) "could not have walked through the front door" — it was worth it because otherwise we would not have gained a union.
Of course, throughout history, calling for compromise may sometimes be a cover for sheer cynicism and lack of principle. Yet without the capacity to compromise at more or less the right moment, collective activity — such as self-government — is impossible.
When ABC’s Barbara Walters deems Sarah Palin one of the year’s “Most Fascinating People,” it’s a back-handed compliment. Walters knows Palin has an adoring fan base, and she’s definitely not part of it. When the December 2 special began, Walters greeted Palin with, “Many people find the thought of you as president a little scary.”
This is not what Walters asked President Obama in yet another gooey Barack-and-Michelle hour-long ABC interview on Thanksgiving night. Clearly, a large, energized chunk of the American electorate believed – and continues to believe – the idea of Obama as president to be horrifying. Instead, Walters lobbed softballs like this:
“When we come back, we'll hear about family life in the White House, just who slept through the midterm elections, the importance of SpongeBob SquarePants, and the night the Tooth Fairy didn't show up. Stay with us.”
Dr. Thomas Sowell, in "Dismantling America," said in reference to President Obama, "That such an administration could be elected in the first place, headed by a man whose only qualifications to be president of the United States at a dangerous time in the history of the world were rhetoric, style and symbolism — and whose animus against the values and institutions of America had been demonstrated repeatedly over a period of decades beforehand — speaks volumes about the inadequacies of our educational system and the degeneration of our culture." Obama is by no means unique; his characteristics are shared by other Americans, but what is unique is that no other time in our history would such a person been elected president. That says a lot about the degeneration of our culture, values, thinking abilities and acceptance of what's no less than tyranny. As Sowell says, "Barack Obama is unlike any other President of the United States in having come from a background of decades of associations and alliances with people who resent this country and its people." In 2008, Americans voted for Obama's change. Let's look at some of it.
Obama's Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius threatened that there would be "zero tolerance" for "misinformation" in response to an insurance company executive who said that ObamaCare would create costs that force up health insurance premiums. That's not only an attack on our constitutionally guaranteed free speech rights but an official threat against people who express views damaging to the administration.
I remember the first time I ever saw any of the Westboro Baptist Church. It was many years ago and I can't remember where it was but I saw a bunch of people at a distance holding up day glow colored signs that said, "GOD HATES FAGS" and "THANK GOD FOR DEAD SOLDIERS."
When you travel as much as I do, you see some pretty strange sights and tend to catalogue such things as the antics of a bunch of local kooks out to grab some headlines.
Everywhere we turn these days, it seems, leftists are undermining and attacking capitalism on moral grounds. Their criticisms are directed not at merely certain corrupt corporations or individuals who abuse the system, but at the system itself.
Sadly, few conservatives, even conservative Christians, are willing or prepared to defend capitalism's virtues. Rather than tout it in terms of liberty, they sheepishly apologize for its allegedly inherent greed.
It's a testament to the power of propaganda and the appeal of emotion over reason that a system that has produced the greatest prosperity in world history is castigated on moral grounds, while those systems that have proliferated abject misery, poverty, tyranny and subjugation are hailed as morally superior.
Last week, President Barack Obama was backpedaling like a circus unicycle rider, after his compromise on extending Bush-era tax cuts for the country's top 2 percent of income earners. Because he had pledged repeatedly during his presidential campaign to raise those earners' taxes, he instantly was slammed by his political base. Even pro-Obama comedic commentators Jon Stewart and Bill Maher were left humor-speechless.
Feeling defensive and maybe even a bit insecure, Obama fired back in anger against people across the political spectrum. Wielding his verbal sword, the president poked and prodded: "Take a tally. Look at what I promised during the campaign. There's not a single thing that I've said that I would do that I have not either done or tried to do. And if I haven't gotten it done yet, I'm still trying to do it."
"Missed birthdays, games, and plays end in tears," one congressional wife and mother of young children tells me, delighted by the "certainty of the calendar" for the next Congress. Hers is a reality that all too many parents -- in and out of Congress -- know is often unavoidable. But sometimes it can be managed. Seventy-six of the 87 new Republican members of Congress have children, 233 in total, a majority of whom are under 18. And they've got a leadership trying to make these scheduling problems a little less pervasive.
Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, has announced a schedule for the next Congress that looks something like what House Republicans have been promising for going on a year now. It's not about making life easier, but rather a little more efficient -- just a little saner -- on a fairly reliable calendar.
Immorality in government lies at the heart of our nation's problems. Deficits, debt and runaway government are merely symptoms. What's moral and immoral conduct can be complicated, but needlessly so. I keep things simple and you tell me where I go wrong.
My initial assumption is that we each own ourselves. I am my private property and you are yours. If we accept the notion that people own themselves, then it's easy to discover what forms of conduct are moral and immoral. Immoral acts are those that violate self-ownership. Murder, rape, assault and slavery are immoral because those acts violate private property. So is theft, broadly defined as taking the rightful property of one person and giving it to another.
If it is your belief that people do not belong to themselves, they are in whole or in part the property of the U.S. Congress, or people are owned by God, who has placed the U.S. Congress in charge of managing them, then all of my observations are simply nonsense.
There's a lot of noise today about promoting political squishiness to a virtue and endorsing the notion that compromise for its own sake is noble. I uncompromisingly dissent.
First, let's understand that compromise for pragmatic purposes or out of political necessity is wholly different from compromise for its own sake. It is the latter I reject, recognizing that the former is, by definition, sometimes the best of the bad options. Those types of decisions have to be made on a case-by-case basis with a thorough evaluation of the available options and the short- and long-term implications of settling for the imperfect solution.
When jihad-bent American Muslims target American soldiers on American soil, why does America yawn?
The Fort Hood massacre has faded from view. The Little Rock Army recruiting station ambush barely registered on the national radar screen. And the arrest this week of a Baltimore-area bomb plotter, intent on blowing up a military center and murdering our troops in the name of Allah, was met with a collective shrug. It's pointless to rally citizens around "never forget" when their heads are in the sand.
The "grand bargain" agreed to by the White House to preserve the Bush-era tax rates, extend unemployment insurance for another year and reduce the payroll tax for 2011 doesn't get to the heart of the country's main financial problem: overspending.
The Irish were told this week they are going to have to bite the bullet and sharply reduce their expectations of what government can do for them, as it cuts spending and broadens the tax base. But liberal Democrats in the United States remain on a different track: increasing debt and waging nonstop class warfare. Did they miss the message of last month's election?
This is where the self-indulgence of the '60s and the excesses of the modern Gilded Age have led us.
The Great Denial continues. The liberals continue to labor under the assumption that nothing very bad happened in early November. They are still supreme. The columnists go on as though nothing is amiss. This week, E.J. Dionne consulted with three defeated members of Congress and passed on to President Barack Obama their advice on how to succeed during the next two years. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues as if she is speaker for life, though it probably will be a generation until another Democrat holds the post. Mental illness can be amusing.
The fact is that the Democrats lost badly in the midterms, and they probably are going to lose again in 2012. The Republicans picked up six seats in the Senate and more than 60 in the House. They won 683 legislative seats nationwide and gained six governorships. That will give them a powerful say in redistricting. Moreover, in 2012, the Democrats have to defend 23 seats in the Senate, and they probably will lose the presidency, unless the Republicans run a platypus.
There is no such thing as a "free" government benefit. Ask small-business owners who are footing skyrocketing bills for bottomless jobless benefits. While politicians in Washington negotiate a deal to provide welcome temporary payroll, income and estate tax relief to America's workers, struggling employers wonder how long they'll have to pay for the compassion of others — and whether they can survive.
The Beltway deal hinges on extending federal unemployment insurance for another 13 months. This would mark the sixth time that the deadline has been extended since June 2008.
Have you noticed among the Obama-supporting elite a desperate agony upon realizing that he is not quite the messiah he made himself out to be and as which they willingly embraced him?
Many leftists are disgusted with Obama for supposedly betraying the cause on a number of issues, which tells us how irredeemably liberal they are. But their sense of betrayal runs deeper than ideology.
On December 7, the notorious radical mastermind of “WikiLeaks,” turned himself in on a sexual assault charge in London. But in the liberal media, the condemnations are few. There are no real enemies to the media elite’s left, especially if they can be (very loosely) identified with journalism. Julian Assange may be highly motivated to cripple American “imperialism,” but his relentless efforts to disrupt American foreign policy is a good thing when the media are manipulating the government’s reaction by choosing which leaks they will publish and promote.
Time magazine editor Richard Stengel, for example, told Charlie Rose on PBS that Assange is an “idealist” that “sees the U.S. since 1945 as being a source of harm throughout the planet,” but he’s not really opposed to him. He put Assange on the cover of Time with an American flag gagging his mouth and feigned a position of balance. In his “To Our Readers” letter, Stengel conceded Assange is out to “harm American national security,” but there is a public good unfolding, in that “the right of news organizations to publish those documents has historically been protected by the First Amendment.” Our founding fathers, Stengel huffed, understood that “letting the government rather than the press choose what to publish was a very bad idea in a democracy.” He tapped the reader on the chest: “I trust you agree.”
Americans the world over could die because of these intelligence betrayals. But hip, hip, hooray for the freedom of speech that got them killed?
Last week, I detailed seven occasions in the past few months at which President Barack Obama omitted the words "by their Creator" from direct quotes of the Declaration of Independence: "that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Though you can read the actual quotes in detail in Part 1, let me briefly remind readers where and when they occurred:
People who take polls for a living will tell you that depending on the methodology, the sample, how a question is asked and the understanding of the ones being polled, the outcome can pretty much be predetermined.
If you are dependent on a superior for your job and that superior tells you he wants a certain conclusion reached about a policy he wishes to implement, that, too, can affect the outcome.
It took a man to break the porcelain ceiling in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had a hard time in Kyrgyzstan recently. She explained that "it requires, for a woman, usually in today's world still, an extra amount of effort." She explained that people tend to be extra critical of a female politician and how she looks. A member of the press went on to ask her what designer she wears. "Would you ever ask a man that question?" she shot back.
If only John Boehner had been there.
Hillary's professorial moment happened as the incoming male Republican speaker of the House, John Boehner, announced plans to build a women's restroom by the House floor back in Washington.
That's right. We endured a national adulation campaign back in November 2006 after it became clear that Democrats would give a woman the Speaker's gavel for the first time in American history. San Francisco Democrat Nancy Pelosi told Katie Couric at the time: "As a woman, I'm very, very thrilled because I carry a special responsibility. I've broken the 'marble ceiling.' This Congress is steeped in tradition and history, and it's very hard for a woman to succeed to the level that I have, and I think it sends a message to all women that if this can happen, anything can happen." She broke the "marble ceiling"-- but evidently porcelain was beyond her power.
The curator elites at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery were happily abusing the trust of the American taxpayer, with radical gay activists pushing a gay agenda, replete with the religiously bigoted, sadomasochistic and homoerotic fare, all under the auspices of “art.” Then something happened. The public complained. Now these radicals are shocked – shocked! – that the “censors” are out to destroy their “artistic freedom.”
It’s like a bad rendition of “Groundhog Day.” How many times must we relive this foolishness?
The sponsors tell us that “Hide/Seek” is “the first major exhibition to examine the influence of gay and lesbian artists in creating modern American portraiture," and how these gay and lesbian artists have made “essential contributions to both the art of portraiture and to the creation of modern American culture."
But that isn’t enough. Theirs is a political message as part of a political agenda. To quote from their program, they want to strike a blow for “the struggle for justice, so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity.”
Open-borders radicalism means never having to apologize for absurd self-contradiction.
The way illegal alien students on college campuses across the country tell it, America is a cruel, selfish and racist nation that has never given them or their families a break. Yet despite their bottomless grievances, they're not going anywhere.
I suppose it is to be expected that the Great Recession should be accompanied by a sweeping national pessimism in which our purported leaders and commentators express historic despair, while the people and corporations mope about, convinced that the sun will not come up tomorrow.
Such an intensity of self-loathing and lack of confidence has not been heard since the French contemplated their disgraced future in June 1940 when they annihilated their nation, and the great light that was France, by surrendering to the Germans.