"You didn't fly here to celebrate me," Marco Rubio announced from the stage of the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.
The comment could have been received as a bit jarring coming from Rubio. Hours after being sworn in as a U.S. senator, this former insurgent candidate who bucked his party's national establishment to challenge their hand-crafted candidate -- Charlie Crist, the sitting governor at the time -- was presenting himself as nothing but a working man starting out in a new office. Here, the latest hot ticket in town, being talked about as any Republican presidential candidate's favored running mate, was turning the humble on high. This was the party to be at. Everyone seemed to drop by -- an impression one got as liberal Minnesota Sen. Al Franken posed for pictures with some of this tea party king's most loyal supporters.
Can you imagine the sheer audacity of outgoing House Speaker Nancy Pelosi sermonizing that repealing Obamacare would do "very serious violence to the national debt and deficit"? This is the woman whose four-year tenure as speaker saw the national debt explode from $8.67 trillion to $14.01 trillion.
She's the lady who boasted, "Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go." Such is the state of Pelosi's credibility that even 19 of her Democratic colleagues voted against her for speaker.
When it comes to a wide spectrum of issues, I'm not sure which planet Pelosi and her ilk of liberals inhabit, but the Obamacare fiasco takes their otherworldliness to another level altogether — and that's being charitable because it assumes they're innocently unaware of how wrong they are.
Fun fact: Bill Daley isn't the only new chief of staff in the White House with longtime ties to the Chicago Way. Yep, it's No Windy City Corporate Lawyer Left Behind Week in the nation's capital.
On the other side of the White House, deep-pocketed campaign finance mega-bundler Tina Tchen was named first lady Michelle Obama's new right-hand woman. Or rather, left-hand woman. The self-described "progressive" attorney from Chicago is taking over as chief of staff in the East Wing following the expected departure of Susan Sher. Tchen personally raised more than $200,000 for the Obama presidential campaign while a lawyer at white-shoe Skadden Arps. (No word on whether Mrs. Obama gave her the same anti-corporate lawyer, fat cat-bashing lecture she delivered on the campaign trail.)
Now, stick with me here as we diagram another Chicago shuffle. As usual, all roads lead to the Daley political machine:
Given the Democrats' track record of investigating Republican administrations, they will lack credibility when they protest Republicans investigating actions by the Obama administration. Oversight is a primary function of any Congress.
The new Republican House majority is expected to conduct several investigations. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), the new chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, has promised to lead six of them, including one that according to Issa's spokesman, Kurt Bardella, will focus on the "institutional culture of waste, fraud and abuse," within the federal bureaucracy. To be credible, these investigations must expose Republicans as well as Democrats because misspending the public's money is one of the few bipartisan activities remaining in Washington.
As we begin a new year, it may be useful to look back to one particular piece of advice that George Washington gave us in his farewell address. In paragraph 28, he reminded us that:
"It is substantially true, that virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government. The rule, indeed, extends with more or less force to every species of free government. Who, that is a sincere friend to it, can look with indifference upon attempts to shake the foundation of the fabric?"
His point was that no matter how well designed our constitutional mechanisms may be, the healthy future of our nation would depend upon the maintenance of private virtue — that self-government is only possible if our national character, made up of each individual character, yearns and acts for a free country.
New Year's Day in Washington dawned gray and wet — and cold. It was a perfect day for sightseeing, so my wife and I decided to sightsee. We went to Mount Vernon, George Washington's home — named, incidentally, after a British admiral, Adm. Edward Vernon, by George's elder half brother. Upon inheriting the mansion, George never saw any reason to change the name, despite the British army's many acts of rudeness to him. George was a big enough guy not to bear a grudge.
We arrived just as the estate opened, at 9 a.m., and we were about the only tourists in the place for the first hour. The very agreeable woman who sold us our tickets, noting our enthusiasm, inquired as to where we came from. "Twelve miles up the road," said my wife. "We don't get out much." Actually, we do, but not to sightsee. We both have been reading a lot about George Washington, so we visited Mount Vernon for the first time in years. Our reasoning is that with the tea party's arrival in Washington, we had best familiarize ourselves with the Founding Fathers, a goodly number of whom lived in Virginia. We started with George. Marx is out.
No matter how you rearrange President Obama's inner circle, it still looks, smells and tastes like a rotten Chicago deep-dish pizza.
Ready for the latest topping on this moldy old pie? It's a possible chief of staff slot for Wall Street banker/lawyer/wheeler-dealer William Daley, brother of outgoing Chicago mayor/machine politics mastermind Richard M. Daley (also the former boss of White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and first lady Michelle Obama), whose retirement paved the way for former Obama chief of staff and Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel. Phew.
The White House is reportedly looking to manufacture a "pro-business" aura with Bill Daley, who holds a "corporate responsibility" executive office at J.P. Morgan and once headed the U.S. Chamber of Commerce — the latter, a left-wing hate object and Obama punching bag leading up to the midterms.
The new House Republican leadership is smart to inaugurate their return to power by reading aloud the U.S. Constitution on the House floor. Recalling America's founding principles is never a bad idea. To some on the left, though, the Constitution doesn't mean what it says, but is to be interpreted by judges and politicians. To liberals, this means the document is useful only when it advances a "progressive" economic, political and social agenda. Otherwise, it must be considered a relic of a bygone era.
The Constitution, according to liberal thinking, was written at a time when people -- including some of its signers -- owned slaves and so we moderns must interpret and regularly update it, like computer software. These "interpretationists" are like people who appeal to biblical authority when it appears to support their earthly agenda ("turn the other cheek" means unilateral disarmament; numerous verses about helping the poor mandates government welfare), but ignore it when it offends secular pursuits (abortion, homosexuality, income redistribution, capital punishment).
Our national media elite reviewed 2010 with great sorrow for how America has besmirched itself in the eyes of the world with its “seething hatred” of Muslims. CBS anchor Katie Couric announced on her Internet show that there wasn't enough evaluation of“this bigotry toward 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide” which was “so misdirected, and so wrong -- and so disappointing.”
Couric even embarrassed herself by suggesting "Maybe we need a Muslim version of The Cosby Show." A ridiculous idea – unless it were to run every night instead of Couric’s lame half-hour “news” report.
While Katie crinkles her face that anyone could march peacefully to oppose a mega-mosque two blocks from Ground Zero, here’s what does not upset Couric or her colleagues: Christians getting slaughtered and maimed in the Middle East by radical Islamists during the Christmas season. That story rates barely a media eyebrow lift.
Incoming House Speaker John Boehner and his Republican colleagues are intensely aware of public fury over how Congress operates. But following a lame-duck Congress that continued with business as usual, will this new Congress finally get it right?
As the 112th Congress officially convenes this week, the questions most of us have on our minds are: Will it finally...
The congressional Republicans' decision to read the Constitution aloud on the floor of Congress has forced some Constitution-contemptuous liberals further out of the closet, which is an instructive development to behold.
Blogger Ezra Klein of The Washington Post told MSNBC's Norah O'Donnell that the constitutional reading is "a gimmick," and "the issue of the Constitution is not that people don't read the text and think they're following; the issue with the Constitution is that the text is confusing because it was written more than 100 years ago and what people believe it says differs from person to person and differs depending on what they want to get done."
Sarah Palin deserves an apology. When she said that the new health-care law would lead to "death panels" deciding who gets life-saving treatment and who does not, she was roundly denounced and ridiculed.
Now we learn, courtesy of one of the ridiculers -- The New York Times -- that she was right. Under a new policy not included in the law for fear the administration's real end-of-life game would be exposed, a rule issued by the recess-appointed Dr. Donald M. Berwick, administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, calls for the government to pay doctors to advise patients on options for ending their lives. These could include directives to forgo aggressive treatment that could extend their lives.
2010 may have been an encouraging year for political conservatives but it wasn't so rosy for America's culture. The most depressing result was the Second Circuit Court of Appeals granting our television networks the right to employ the nastiest curse words in front of children at any hour of the broadcast day.
In her opinion, Judge Rosemary Pooler insisted that the TV networks weren't pushing the envelope like “a petulant teenager angling for a better curfew,” they were good people with a “a good faith desire to comply with the FCC's indecency regime.” The judge should win some sort of Alice-in-Wonderland prize for declaring the absolute opposite of all the evidence right in front of her face. Here's my other choices for other cultural winners and losers this year:
Loser: Perhaps inspired by Pooler, CBS put out a sitcom with the title “[Crap] My Dad Says.” Critics were bored. Viewers flushed it.
Diligent English farmers of old once shared a motto about the blessings of work: "Industry produces wealth, God speed the plow." Indolent New York City union officials who oversee snow removal apparently live by a different creed: Sloth enhances political power, Da Boss slow the plow.
Come rain or shine, wind, sleet or blizzard, Big Labor leaders always demonstrate perfect power-grabby timing when it comes to shafting taxpayers. Public-sector unions are all-weather vultures ready, willing and able to put special interest politics above the citizenry's health, wealth and safety. Confirming rumors that have fired up the frozen metropolis, the New York Post reported Thursday that government sanitation and transportation workers were ordered by union supervisors to oversee a deliberate slowdown of its cleanup program — and to boost their overtime paychecks.
Why such vindictiveness? It's a cold-blooded temper tantrum against the city's long-overdue efforts to trim layers of union fat and move toward a more efficient, cost-effective privatized workforce.
Welcome to the Great Snowmageddon Snit Fit of 2010.
This administration is abusive enough when it acts outside its constitutional authority, but it is even more tyrannical when it affirmatively thwarts the express will of the Congress on matters within the legislative domain.
When Congress denied Obama authority to transfer money to the International Monetary Fund, he did so anyway, issuing an executive order promising to give that body $140 billion for redistribution to Third World countries.
Now he's made another mockery of bipartisanship and the Constitution in making six recess appointments, including two people so objectionable that a near supermajority of Democratic senators wouldn't confirm them: James Cole as deputy attorney general, whose lax position in the war on terror is disturbing, and Francis J. Ricciardone Jr. as ambassador to Turkey.
You don't have to be a psychic who forecasts future events for supermarket tabloids to accurately predict what awaits the new congressional Republican class of 2011. The writing is already on the computer screens and in the TV teleprompters.
A preview of coming attractions was trotted out during President Obama's last scheduled news conference of 2010. After spending most of the year worrying about the economy and whether the Democrats could fix it, sycophantic reporters gave new meaning to the term "lapdog."
The metaphor “The War on Christmas” can be mocked – as if Santa and his reindeer are dodging anti-aircraft fire. But many of our public schools have church-and-state sensitivity police with an alarming degree of Santaphobia. Anyone who's attended a school's “winter concert” in December with no traditional Christmas music – not even “Frosty the Snowman” – knows the drill. The vast Christian majority (that funds the public schools) is told that school is no place to celebrate one's religion, even in its most watered-down and secularized forms.
There are real-life stories of Scrooge-like school administrators, like the one at the appropriately named Battlefield High School in Haymarket, Virginia. A group of ten boys calling themselves the Christmas Sweater Club were given detention and at least two hours of cleaning for tossing free two-inch candy canes at students as they entered before classes started. They were “creating a disturbance.” One of their mothers, Kathleen Flannery, told WUSA-TV that an administrator called her and explained "not everyone wants Christmas cheer. That suicide rates are up over Christmas, and that they should keep their cheer to themselves, perhaps."
Of course, that level of sensitivity is not applied when it comes to slamming Christianity during the Christmas season. On December 16, The Washington Post paid tribute to another suburban school in northern Virginia, Langley High School, for warming hearts during the season with “The Laramie Project.” This play is a political assault, using transcripts of real-life interviews by gay activists out to blame America's religious people for the beating death of homosexual college student Matthew Shepard in 1998.
Suppose what some call the "Christmas story" is true -- all of it, from the angels, to the shepherds, to the virgin birth, to God taking on human flesh. By this, I don't mean to suggest it is true only for those who believe it to be true, but what if it is objectively true, no matter what the deniers say? What difference would it make? Should it make any difference?
The narrative and the quotations written by the physician named Luke and by John, the closest disciple of Jesus of Nazareth, are unique and exclusive. The genealogical line of Jesus compiled by Matthew the tax collector is impressive and compelling. The words spoken by Jesus and recorded by these men are phenomenal. They expose the inner darkness of Man, offering a roadmap out, while also revealing the light of God, offering directions into His presence.
Ho, ho, ho! Just in time for Christmas, the American Civil Liberties Union has launched a new salvo against people of faith. Even as billions around the world celebrate the birth of Christ, joyless, abortion-obsessed secularists never take a holiday.
On Wednesday, the ACLU sent a letter to federal health officials urging the government to force Catholic hospitals in the U.S. to perform abortions in violation of their core moral commitment to protecting the lives of the unborn. They're counting on sympathetic Obama rationing czar Donald Berwick — a recess appointee whose radical views on wealth and health redistribution were never vetted by Congress — to dictate which religious principles hospital operators can and cannot follow.
Last week, Judge Richard Posner of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit set himself up as both judge and jury and found Conrad Black, once the head of one of the most illustrious publishing chains in the world, guilty of fraud and obstruction of justice in running his newspapers. That is somewhat of a comedown for our criminal justice system. Years ago, the Department of Justice had arrayed some 13 charges against him, including tax evasion, racketeering, various types of fraud and that lonely obstruction of justice. Black beat them back on nine of 13 charges, leaving only three fraud charges and the obstruction charge against him. He was sentenced to 6 1/2 years in prison. Then sanity intruded.
This past summer, the Supreme Court decided to take up the so-called "honest services" law at the request of Black's lawyer. The law as it was applied to Black was, in the view of the court, unconstitutional. It further found the law unconstitutionally vague, except when bribes or kickbacks are involved; there were no allegations of bribes or kickbacks in Black's case. The court's judgment was unanimous. It sent Black's case back to Posner for further adjudication. Posner and his associates unanimously threw out two of Black's fraud counts but stood by one and also that obstruction charge.
Harvard University Professor Stephan Thernstrom's recent essay, "Minorities in College—-Good News, But...," in Minding the Campus (11/4/10), a website sponsored by the New York-based Manhattan Institute, commented on the results of the most recent National Assessment of Education Progress test: The scores "mean that black students aged 17 do not read with any greater facility than whites who are four years younger and still in junior high. ... Exactly the same glaring gaps appear in NAEP's tests of basic mathematics skills."
Thernstrom asks, "If we put a randomly-selected group of 100 eighth-graders and another of 100 twelfth-graders in a typical college, would we expect the first group to perform as well as the second?" In other words, is it reasonable to expect a college freshman of any race with the equivalent of an eighth-grade education to compete successfully with those having a twelfth-grade education?
A few years ago, I was in China and, through the help of a friend, had the chance to spend a few hours with a senior editor of the People's Daily —the Communist Party's voice, and the most influential journal in China.
The highly intelligent editor — himself, of course, a senior party man — was cool and dispassionate until we came to a discussion of the causes of revolutions. On that topic, he displayed an almost scholarly knowledge and focused in — with great passion and concern — on the dominant role that rising expectations of the people plays in starting a revolution.
When bureaucrats talk about increasing our "access" to x, y or z, what they're really talking about is increasing exponentially their control over our lives. As it is with the government health care takeover, so it is with the newly approved government plan to "increase" Internet "access." Call it Webcare.
By a vote of 3-2, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday adopted a controversial scheme to ensure "net neutrality" by turning unaccountable Democratic appointees into meddling online traffic cops. The panel will devise convoluted rules governing Internet service providers, bandwidth use, content, prices and even disclosure details on Internet speeds. The "neutrality" is brazenly undermined by preferential treatment toward wireless broadband networks. Moreover, the FCC's scheme is widely opposed by Congress — and has already been rejected once in the courts. Demonized industry critics have warned that the regulations will stifle innovation and result in less access, not more.
PBS talk show host Tavis Smiley won “The Poison Tea Pot Award for Smearing the Anti-Obama Rabble.” On May 25, he was interviewing author Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a bold critic of radical Muslims – at the risk of a fatwa against her own life since 2004. Ali said jihadists “got into their minds that to kill other people is a great thing to do and that they would be rewarded in the hereafter.”
Smiley shot back: “But Christians do that every single day in this country.”
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."