Anyone who’s ever seen Jay Leno do one of his “Jaywalking” segments on NBC, locating average Americans and asking them factual questions on street corners, knows there are far too many Americans who know next to nothing about just about everything. They can’t name our first president, or don’t even know what the phrase “founding fathers” means. Ask them to name our current vice president and watch the brain waves flatline.
Newsweek magazine recently announced its disgust after it offered the government’s official citizenship test (the one we require immigrants to pass before being naturalized) to 1,000 Americans. Thirty-eight percent of the sample failed. Newsweek worried in its headline: “The country's future is imperiled by our ignorance.”
The magazine was careful enough to report that civic ignorance isn’t new. One study found the yearly shifts in civic knowledge since World War II have averaged out to "slightly under 1 percent." But it worried that today’s interconnected world is “becoming more and more inhospitable to incurious know-nothings – like us.”
The 2012 presidential and congressional elections are shaping up to be a referendum on whether the American people have the wisdom, the discipline and the will to save this nation.
The nation is on an unsustainable path to fiscal bankruptcy, whose leading long-term drivers are Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security. Yet at every turn, Democrats have obstructed reform with vicious, demagogic attacks on those genuinely trying to reform them.
After a decade of playing one on television, I, along with my brother Aaron, was blessed a few months ago to become a real Texas Ranger in the presence of Gov. Rick Perry, fellow Texas Rangers and many others.
Perry mentioned at that induction: "As the drug cartels have turned up the heat on the other side of that border over the past few years, we have invested significant state resources to secure our border, looking to local police departments, county sheriffs, game wardens and even Texas Military Forces. However, when it was time to take the fight to the bad guys, there was only one choice to lead our efforts, so we formed our Ranger recon teams. It is reassuring to know that our Rangers are on the job, especially in light of ongoing reports of deteriorating conditions, with kidnappings, assassinations and terroristic acts just miles from Texas communities."
That was the most frequent comment I received via e-mail on the September night Sarah Palin spoke to a riveted Republican National Convention in 2008, as the vice-presidential nominee spoke of hockey moms, pit bulls, lipstick, the dignity of human life, and the future of our nation.
I suspect every man who e-mailed wasn't revealing his secret fantasy -- his wife wearing stilettos as she tries to save the world from a Barack Obama presidency. He finally saw, on prime-time television and impossible for the media to ignore, a woman in politics who closely resembled his family's values. After decades of ladies on the stump reading from a Ms. magazine script, here was a woman on a presidential ticket who didn't seem to feel the need to suppress her femininity or perversely use it to advance a most un-motherly agenda.
In the 1979 movie "The China Syndrome," reporter Kimberly Wells (played by Jane Fonda) witnesses an accident at a nuclear power plant and then uncovers a plot to keep it a secret in order to protect the power company's billion-dollar investment. The film was a gift to the political left, which at the time opposed the pursuit of nuclear energy to reduce our addiction to foreign oil. In some liberal circles, that opposition remains strong.
The film, along with real-life accidents such as Three Mile Island (also in 1979), in which no one was killed, and Chernobyl (1986), which, according to the World Nuclear Association, "killed two Chernobyl plant workers on the night of the accident, and a further 28 people within a few weeks, as a result of acute radiation poisoning," account for much of our modern thinking about all things nuclear. Other films, like "Dr. Strangelove," "Fail-Safe" and "On the Beach" -- along with the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which ended World War II and launched the Cold War with the Soviet Union in which "mutual assured destruction" (MAD) and civil defense drills became the norm -- make us nervous about what the unrestrained power of the atom can do.
The promises of pie-in-the-sky liberal environmentalists that we can convert to "clean" energy sources and stimulate our economy are based on dubious environmental and economic assumptions, fantastic notions about alternative energy, and a disturbing acceptance of the tyrannies inherent in command-control economies.
It would be bad enough if President Obama and his Democratic allies were pushing budget-busting green energy solutions during an economic boom and times of a manageable national debt. But it's inconceivable that they would do so under the current dire fiscal circumstances.
Last week, my main point was that liberals couldn't care less about changing anything in public schools because they are producing exactly what liberals want. And that biased programming will deepen in the minds and hearts of America's young people unless we patriots stand up in every community, resist those progressive tides and demand alternatives.
There are ways to improve national academic imbalances. In Part 2 here, I give seven ways to counter that torrent of progressivism. Among the list of correctives that have been proved to work are the following:
In my lifetime I can’t remember an earthquake that caused as much damage as the recent one in Japan. The earthquake alone would have been devastating but it was exponentially exacerbated by a tsunami that looked like a scene straight out of an “end of the world” science fiction movie.
There are finally some rustlings on the hustings; you will pardon my attempt at poetry. Republican presidential hopefuls are moving about in Iowa and New Hampshire; does that clarify my admittedly amateur attempt at rhyme? I simply could not resist.
It was rather quiet out on the hustings a few weeks ago, and frankly, for me, it was a little gloomy. I have been saying for months that President Barack Obama is dead in the water. He will lose in 2012. He has no experience as a chief executive, and every day in every way, he is proving it. He is the most left-wing president in our history, and he is sedulously engaged in proving that left-wing politics are ill-suited for America or for any country that wants to prosper. Our president was a perfect inspirational speaker when there was something to be inspired about — for instance, the prospect of his presidency — but Americans have experienced it. He will lose in 2012 if the Republicans put up a plausible candidate. But even an implausible candidate has a chance, which, I suppose, is why Newt Gingrich is running.
Within the past decade, I've written three columns titled "Deception 101," "Stubborn Ignorance," and "Exploiting Public Ignorance," all explaining which branch of the federal government has taxing and spending authority. How can academics, politicians, news media people and ordinary citizens get away with statements such as "Reagan's budget deficits," "Clinton's budget surplus," "Bush's budget deficits and tax cuts" or "Obama's tax increases"? Which branch of government has taxing and spending authority is not a matter of rocket science, but people continue to make these statements. The only explanation that I come up with is incurable ignorance, willful deception or just plain stupidity; if there's another answer, I would like to hear it.
Let's look at the facts. Article I, Section 7 of the U.S. Constitution reads: "All bills for raising revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with amendments as on other Bills." Our Constitution grants the president absolutely no authority to raise or lower taxes. The president is permitted to propose tax measures or veto them. Congress can ignore proposals and override vetoes.
In about a month, the Republican majority on the House Budget Committee will present its concurrent budget resolution for fiscal year 2012, which by law will include their proposed 2012 annual budget and their projection of the budgets (spending, revenues and the resulting deficit, surplus or balance) for the following nine years.
It may not be overstatement to assert that this presentation may determine whether Republicans win or lose the 2012 elections and whether the United States government acts in time to save our economic future from ruin.
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., has once again earned his nickname: Thurston B. Howell III. He's elite, effete and so hopelessly out of touch with reality that his latest solution to America's fiscal profligacy is ... more fiscal profligacy, of course, Lovey! On Tuesday, Kerry introduced a $10 billion infrastructure bank bill that would engineer yet another federal taxpayer boondoggle benefiting Big Labor and favored Big Business interests.
Kerry finagled support from Texas GOP Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, AFL-CIO brass knuckler-in-chief Richard Trumka, statist U.S. Chamber of Commerce head Tom Donohue, and the far-left Center for American Progress. Like spinning straw into gold, the Kerry coalition promises to leverage $10 billion in unidentified funds into $640 billion for crumbling roads and bridges.
In the public policy conversation today, there is nothing funnier than hearing the leadership of National Public Radio deny there’s a liberal bias at play over there.
Even when the Daily Caller posted sting video of their top fundraiser Ron Schiller describing America as remarkably under-educated and the Republicans as ruined by racist, gun-toting, phony Christians, NPR’s reaction was repeating Sentence One: Who, us, biased?
Schiller resigned, and then the NPR Board ousted CEO Vivian Schiller (no relation), who hired him. She was only a sacrificial lamb. Nothing has changed, policy-wise. The new interim CEO, Joyce Slocum, picked up exactly where the last boss left off. “I think if anyone believes that NPR's coverage is biased in one direction or another,” she suggests, “all they need to do to correct that misperception is turn on their radio or log onto their computer and listen or read for an hour or two.”
Why is it that despite the Republicans' resounding electoral victory in 2010 based on their promises for real change, many of us have a queasy feeling they're not quite measuring up to the task, even in the climate of Democratic infighting and President Obama's weaknesses?
The Hill reports that there is developing dissension between Obama and Senate Democrats, whose respective "political fortunes ... are moving in opposite directions, complicating their efforts to win a titanic battle against Republicans over federal spending."
Obama is trying to stay above the fray and letting Democratic legislators twist in the wind of conflict with GOP congressmen over a possible government shutdown. His plan is to ride in just in time to take credit for the ultimate resolution and be seen as "a bipartisan problem solver."
If the resignations at National Public Radio continue at last week's pace, there may be no need for Congress to defund the aging dinosaur, because there will be no one left there to turn the lights on.
The latest is Betsy Liley, NPR's director of institutional giving. Conservative activist James O'Keefe secretly recorded phone conversations between Liley and a man masquerading as a potential donor from a fictitious group called the Muslim Education Action Center, which the man said had ties to the Muslim Brotherhood. The fake donor said his group was worried about a government audit. Liley told him that a $5 million contribution might not have to be reported to the IRS. Liley has been placed on administrative leave.
Editor's Note: The following column by Michelle Malkin is an updated version of a Malkin column originally published in February 2009.
Liberal media outlets did their best in 2009 to boost former Washington State Gov. Gary Locke, President Obama's third pick for the beleaguered Commerce Secretary job, as a "squeaky clean" appointee. Now, Locke's moving onward and upward to fill the ambassadorship to China vacated by potential GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman.
Locke's "Do as I Say, Not as I Do" record makes him a good fit for the ethically impaired Obama administration. It's worth reminding Americans of Locke's whitewashed history of ethical scandals and conflicts.
"Wife number three and I made a movie about the Pope, so my divorces and adulterous affairs don't count."
That's how one person greeted Newt Gingrich's recent announcement that he is seriously considering the possibility of running for president. Most followers of the presidential-primary scramble figured as much already. But Gingrich's press conference ushered in an open season on the man and his personal life.
The negative comments have focused on more than the former congressional speaker's personal infidelity. They've gone after his professional record, too. It's always hard to divorce one from another.
It is a bloodbath over at National Public Radio. First the pinhead Ron Schiller resigns after initially being defended by NPR and then, by the end of the day Tuesday, being given the Shuffalo to Buffalo. Then Vivian Schiller, no relation to Ron Schiller, resigns the next day as chief executive officer and president of NPR. Ron Schiller was caught on tape saying NPR did not need its subsidy from the federal government to survive, but I guess the board of directors of NPR is taking no chances. Off with both of the Schillers' heads.
Actually, NPR and its affiliates are among the most overstaffed and extravagant operations in media. In the 1990s, when I did "The Editors" — a television show from Montreal that appeared on public television stations (because of my presence, one had to be an insomniac to catch the show in Washington on WETA, a lamentable situation insisted on by Sharon Percy Rockefeller, the president of WETA and a Public Broadcasting Service board member) — the Montreal production company did the show for a pittance of what public television paid. I believe a Washington production would have outspent us by a 10-1 ratio. NPR is no different. Ron Schiller, who was NPR's fundraising chief, said it would survive the cuts, and doubtless it could. I say cut its subsidy. It has been in more scandals of late than Charlie Sheen. Off with all their heads.
The media tend to be filled with many items that are either untrue or obvious. Last week — from Politico to cable television, from Karl Rove to Mike Huckabee — was a moment for the obvious to be stated and restated: "The GOP should not underestimate how hard it will be to defeat President Obama next November; indeed, he has to be considered the favorite to win the next presidential election." True.
Of course, the same thing could have been (and was) said about President Lyndon Johnson in the spring of 1967 and about Jimmy Carter in the spring of 1979. Every incumbent president is the most formidable political force in the country. Even a deeply wounded president must be seen as formidable — as Thomas Dewey learned to his regret in 1948 when President Harry Truman won the election even though the Democratic Party had been split three ways (both the pacifist left and the segregationist faction split off and ran their own candidates — Henry Wallace ran on the Progressive ticket, Strom Thurmond ran on the Dixiecrat ticket.)
Whether Americans realize it or not, the last decade's path of congressional spending is unsustainable. Spending must be reined in, but what spending should be cut? The Republican majority in the House of Representatives fear being booted out of office and are understandably timid. Their rule for whom to cut appears to be: Look around to see who are the politically weak handout recipients.
The problem is that those cuts won't put much of a dent in overall spending. The absolute last thing a Republican or Democrat congressmen wants to do is to cut handouts to, and thereby anger, recipients who vote in large numbers. To spare myself ugly mail, I'm not going to mention that handout group, but members of Congress know of whom I speak.
Editor's Note: Michelle Malkin is on vacation. The following column was originally published in March 2007.
"The Second Amendment," Charlton Heston used to say, "is America's first freedom." The Second secures the rest.
It's a message narcissistic journalists need to hear again. A decade ago, Heston chastised the media in a National Press Club speech for its collective ignorance, apathy and open hostility toward gun owners' rights:
The Alinskyite left is not content with cramming its legislative agenda down the American people's throats. Next stop, the Supreme Court, where it is seeking to attack and discredit justices who will pass upon the constitutionality of its overreaching legislation.
Liberals were incensed when the Supreme Court, in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, struck down a provision of the McCain-Feingold Act that prohibited all corporations and unions from broadcasting "electioneering communications" — broadcast, cable or satellite communications that mention a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary. So incensed that President Barack "New Tone" Obama departed from years of custom and proper decorum and personally lambasted the justices for it in his 2010 State of the Union speech.
I’ve been a sports fan all my life. Of course being raised in the Southeast we took our college football very much to heart and it would be hard to be raised in North Carolina as I was and not be Dixie proud of the legendary brand of basketball that’s played in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
At what point do environmentalist liberals become accountable for the results of their policies instead of their allegedly good intentions? Why isn't President Obama held accountable for his ideologically based interference with lower oil prices?
Obama has repeatedly shown his willingness to use his executive authority discriminatorily to implement his preferred environmental policies. On the presidential campaign trail, he bragged that he would ensure that any company that built a coal-fired plant would go bankrupt. By charging coal-powered plants "a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted," he would "generate billions of dollars that we (could) invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches."
"What can you do to stem the tide of teen pregnancy?" Jacquelyn Wideman asks from New York City, where the rate is at least 12 percent higher than the national average.
"Get them engaged," she says, answering her own question.
To do this, she proposes New Directions, a proposed charter school for Brooklyn's Bedford-Stuyvesant neighborhood. The idea behind it is to get teenage mothers and fathers dealing with their new responsibilities in "a motivational, supportive environment," Wideman, a nonprofit consultant on the planning team, explains. "The proposed charter high school seeks to give them the environment, the area, the access to continue their education."
Most parents think of video games as a child's pursuit, especially the innocent ones. Many people who bought a Nintendo Wii video game system would consider this the most innocent of them all. They watch their children play Super Mario Brothers on it, or join the family in playing tennis or golf or baseball with their little childlike”Mii” characters on Wii Sports.
I never imagined this game system would also be an orgy enabler.
A new ad by the French game manufacturer Ubisoft advertises a new game for the Nintendo Wii suggestively titled “We Dare,” describing it as “a sexy, quirky party game that offers hilarious, innovative and physical, sometimes kinky, challenges. The more friends you invite to party, the spicier the play!"
My fellow Americans, who are "your people"? I ask because U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who is black, used the phrase "my people" in congressional testimony this week. It was an unmistakably color-coded and exclusionary reference intended to deflect criticism of the Obama Justice Department's selective enforcement policies. It backfired.
In pandering to skin-deep identity politics and exacerbating race-consciousness, Holder has given the rest of us a golden opportunity to stand up, identify "our people" and show the liberal poseurs what post-racialism really looks like.
With all of the union strife in Wisconsin, Indiana and New Jersey, and indications of more to come, it might be time to shed a bit of light on unions as an economic unit.
First, let's get one important matter out of the way. I value freedom of association, and non-association, even in ways that are not always popular and often deemed despicable. I support a person's right to be a member or not be a member of a labor union. From my view, the only controversy regarding unions is what should they be permitted and not permitted to do.
According to the Department of Labor, most union members today work for state, local and federal government. Close to 40 percent of public employees are unionized. As such, they represent a powerful political force in elections. If you're a candidate for governor, mayor or city councilman, you surely want the votes and campaign contributions from public employee unions. In my view, that's no problem. The problem arises after you win office and sit down to bargain over the pay and working conditions with unions who voted for you.
One of the pleasures of an earthly transition is that you can write nice things about a person while they are still around to read them.
And so, I rise to praise my friend and favorite newspaper writer, Frank Rich Jr. as he leaves The New York Times for New York magazine.
What, you say? You are a conservative and he is among the most politically liberal people in journalism. Or, as someone asked me one night when they heard I was going to dinner with former Senator George McGovern, "How can you eat with a man like that?" "Easy," I replied. "He's my friend." And so was Ted Kennedy, I am happy to say. After all, Jesus was "a friend to sinners" and if they were good enough for Him, they are certainly good enough for me.