Have I stayed too long at the fair?" -- Barbra Streisand lyric
The finding by the bipartisan House Ethics Committee that Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) is guilty of financial misconduct and the conviction of former Texas Republican Rep. Tom DeLay by a jury in Austin, Texas on charges of political money laundering brings a question: Are we getting the Congress we're paying for?
I'm with Louisiana Republican Governor Bobby Jindal, who told Human Events last week, "Make them part time; give them term limits. Don't let them become lobbyists. When they have to live under the same rules and laws they pass for the rest of us, maybe you'd see some more common sense coming out of Washington." Jindal, a former congressman, said once elected, too many lawmakers become entrenched in Washington and are transformed into the very people they campaigned against.
With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas before us, we are reminded once again of the integrated ways in which our Creator has had a role in our culture from the beginning. But will it stay that way?
As far back as the Declaration of Independence, our Founders affirmed together, "We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
Almost 235 years later, however, some media caught how President Barack Obama twice omitted the words "by their Creator" when reciting the declaration in speeches over the past several weeks.
But I discovered actually seven presidential "Creator" omissions in just the past few months!
—On Oct. 21 at a rally for Sen. Patty Murray in Seattle:
One of my favorite television programs is "How It's Made" on the Science Channel. The documentary series shows "how the everyday objects people use become the things they are." From ketchup and flip-flops, to nail clippers and snare drums, to NASCAR engines, hydraulic cylinders and motor homes, the show takes viewers on wondrous autobiographical journeys of the mundane products we too often take for granted.
Though it originated in Canada and has become a global phenomenon, "How It's Made" is largely a tribute to individual American ingenuity and American entrepreneurs. The show's myriad episodes spotlighting U.S. inventions also serve as potent antidotes to the government-centric vision that reigns in the White House these days.
Super-genius political science professor Charles H. Franklin of the University of Wisconsin, Madison recently gave loud voice to a widely held liberal belief: Ordinary Americans, especially conservative ones, are stupid.
At a conference by the Society of Professional Journalists, alternative newspaper editor Bill Lueders asked Franklin why "the public seemed to vote against its own interests and stated desires, for instance by electing candidates who'll drive up the deficit with fiscally reckless giveaways to the rich."
Columnists who prize equality of the sexes in college athletics often scowl at how men’s athletic programs get more money and media attention. But a new frontier on the battleground of men’s and women’s athletics is upon us: When is a female jock really female, and a male really a guy?
Kye Allums, a shooting guard on the George Washington University women’s basketball team, has decided that she is a he. Changing her name from “Kay-Kay,” Allums is believed to be the first Division I college basketball player to go public about being a “transgender” person.
The obvious question is whether Allums would still be able to compete. You can’t have men playing in a women’s basketball program, and it’s more than awkward to have a man showering with the women in the locker room. Spurred by a track-and-field controversy four years ago, NCAA rules prohibit sexual reassignment surgery or hormone treatments for athletes to retain their eligibility. Allums, a junior, has pledged to forego those steps while she retains her eligibility for college basketball.
"When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do, sir?" So said John Maynard Keynes when a dearly held belief of his was confronted by new facts. He changed his mind and was not ashamed. I am an extreme empiricist. Show me the facts, and I shall make up my mind. Show me the new facts, and I shall change my mind.
Last week, goaded by Drudge's hordes, I took my stand against the opponents of the scan and the pat-down. I thought they were hysterics and very funny or provocateurs and obnoxious. Also, they inspired in me a few facetious sallies. That vulgarian John Tyner — who won himself a place in Bartlett's "Familiar Quotations for Slobs" by telling the patter-downers, "If you touch my junk, I'll have you arrested" — was too much. Junk? Speak for yourself, Mr. Tyner. I filed my column, dismissing the protesters and confident that the Transportation Security Administration, though essentially bureaucrats, was saving us from another 9/11. Then all hell broke out.
Sex sells, and the pope knows it. He saw the condom media frenzy coming.
In his book-length interview, "Light of the World," (with Peter Seewald) Benedict XVI warns of a "sheer fixation on the condom" that "implies a banalization of sexuality, which, after all, is precisely the dangerous source of the attitude of no longer seeing sexuality as the expression of love." He explains that "the fight against the banalization of sexuality is also a part of the struggle to ensure that sexuality is treated as a positive value and to enable it to have a positive effect on the whole of man's being."
As millions of us gather at tables to offer thanks during this uniquely American holiday (OK, Canada has one, too, but without our Pilgrims), most will express gratitude to God for freedom and material blessings. This year, as in every year since 1989 when she escaped with other "boat people" from communist Vietnam, Kim Vu will offer thanks borne out of a deep gratitude for what America has meant to her since she and so many others risked their lives for something they regarded as even more valuable: freedom.
A generation has grown up since the boat people caught the public's attention. To many in what has become a self-indulgent generation, it may be difficult to fathom how anyone could go to such lengths to achieve something too many of us take for granted.
Do federal, state and local governments have a right to intervene in our lives when it comes to choices affecting our health? Recently, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted to forbid restaurants from giving gifts with meals that contain too much fat and sugar, a measure aimed at McDonald's Happy Meals. The reasoning of these tyrants is to prevent McDonald's from using toys to lure children into liking foods the board deems non-nutritious. Fortunately, San Francisco's mayor, Gavin Newsom, by no means a libertarian, has threatened to veto the measure saying, "Despite its good intentions, I cannot support this unwise and unprecedented governmental intrusion into parental responsibilities and private choices."
Our liberal scribes and pundits savaged the Bush administration as being a privacy-shredding, terrorist-suspect-abusing tyranny on the march. Now that President Obama is in charge, they lamely suggest that “the government” has failed, but with no president’s name attached in the blame game.
For years, the media insisted that the terrorist holding pen at Guantanamo was a horrific stain on our global reputation. It was a “cancer” (CBS’s Bob Schieffer) and the networks uncritically aired Amnesty International quacks denouncing it as “the gulag of our times.” Any denunciation had the words “Bush” and “Cheney” inexorably attached.
But now the outrage has died, and the story is being downplayed, since the Evil Bush is no longer the target. Take the case of Gitmo prisoner Ahmed Ghailani, who participated in the U.S. embassy massacre in Tanzania in 1998. When the federal judge crippled his trial in mid-October by omitting a witness, ABC and NBC skipped over it. “CBS Evening News” offered an anchor brief, with Couric calling it a "big setback for federal prosecutors." Nothing was attributed to the Obama administration.
William Bradford, governor of the Plymouth Colony, was a remarkable leader who endured much from Europe to the coastal regions of North America.
Born in 1590 in a small farming town in England, he was only 1 year old when his father died, 4 when his grandparents took over his guardianship, 6 when his grandfather died and 7 when his mother died.
I blame Drudge! Yes, I blame the Drudge Report for this insane controversy about the use of high-tech body scanners and "pat-downs" at airport security zones.
A minor altercation can take place at Chinggis Khaan International Airport in Ulan Bator, Mongolia, and it is headlines on the Drudge Report. The millions of American travelers who are utterly insouciant to a high-tech scan or even a pat-down are ignored. The other day, a CBS News poll found that 81 percent of Americans approve of the use of the high-tech machines at airports, but that means nothing to Drudge. How many more Americans would welcome a soothing pat-down midst the hurly-burly of travel at our nation's stress-filled airports I do not know, but count me in — especially if the patter-downer is a cute little number on the order of, say, Sarah Palin.
America is in debt past its eyeballs. Unemployment remains stuck near double digits. Small and large businesses, unions and insurers are clamoring for Obamacare waivers in droves. Jihadists are making a mockery of homeland security. And border chaos reigns. So, what's one of the Obama administration's top domestic policy agenda items this month? Combating distracted drivers.
What? You missed the Million Anti-Distracted Drivers Protest March on Washington and the Great Grassroots Groundswell for federal intervention on our highways and byways? Don't worry. You weren't the only one.
While we focus our scrutiny on President Obama's domestic agenda nightmare, we'd best not take our eyes off another big ball: Obama's frantic effort to get the New START ratified during the Senate's lame-duck session.
As usual, Obama is engaged in a full-court press, pretending that there is some urgency to formalizing this ill-conceived nuclear arms treaty with Russia, when the sole urgency is the upcoming change in the Senate's partisan composition.
To his credit, Republican Sen. Jon Kyl announced his opposition to a vote on the treaty this year, which sent Obama into overdrive. He dispatched Defense Secretary Robert Gates to buy off Kyl's opposition with an illusory promise to spend an extra $4 billion on nuclear programs.
He saw this homeland for the first time in 51 years.
I've spent the last week on a fundraising cruise for National Review magazine. We dropped by the Cayman Islands, Grand Turk and Cozumel. (I gather there are harder jobs.) It was more than just people listening to seminars, meeting one another, sharing gratitude for people and principles they appreciate and hold dear.
And we passed by Cuba. A usual late-riser, our Cuban exile cruiser says he was given "a gift from God," when he found himself awake, to look out and see the country he fled as a youth. A flood of memories came back, and a dream that a future cruise might bring him home.
He was so grateful. Not bitter. Not sad. Just grateful.
Mike Elgan of PC World magazine is predicting that the Christmas season will prove his contention that Apple’s iPad is the “Children’s Toy of the Year.”
“Have you ever seen a 4-year-old play with an iPhone? It's actually kind of shocking,” he reported. “Kids take to the iPhone's multi-touch user interface like they do trucks or dolls. They instinctively know that the iPhone is a toy, and they nag, cajole and harass their parents into letting them play with it.”
Because parents are always looking for gadgets to grab their children’s attention, Elgan suggested the iPad is “an ideal kid pacifier” and it also works as in-car entertainment, since the parent “doesn't have to put everyone's lives at risk trying to swap DVDs” from the driver’s seat to the car.
Skeptics would ask about the cost, starting at $499 – an extravagance in any income bracket. Elgan believes “Any parent who owns an iPad will be constantly harassed by the kids, even more so than iPhone-owning parents are today. The path of least resistance for parents will be to just get the kids an iPad of their own. I think parents will do this by the millions.”
If the definition of insanity is repeating the same mistake over and over again, then U.S. policymakers over several administrations should be institutionalized and relegated to padded cells.
The latest, but certainly not the last example of this craziness, is the pressure the Obama administration is exerting on Israel to stop building settlements in the West Bank. A Nov. 14 New York Times story repeats the fiction accepted over many years by Republican and Democratic administrations. The proposed 90-day freeze, says the newspaper, would "break an impasse in the peace negotiations with the Palestinians."
"If only we had sold our stocks a few weeks ago." "If only I'd had the brakes checked before she drove up to the mountains."
There are few sadder words than those of regret at letting time pass until the catastrophe hits. Neither individuals, nor armies, nor nations are exempt from the human tendency to wait too long before acting — and paying a terrible price for the delay.
These thoughts, among others, crossed my mind as I have watched politicians across the ideological spectrum react to the deficit commission's report last week.
Nobody expected that George W. Bush’s book “Decision Points” was going to compare to the memoirs of Ulysses Grant. As expected, book reviewers found it wanting as a literary work. But still, every book by an ex-president is seen as an opportunity for legacy-polishing and the press is most accommodating.
In the summer of 2004, the networks celebrated Bill Clinton’s memoir as a momentous news event. They even employed a ridiculous adjective for the man – “candid.” Certain soon-to-be-disgraced news anchors aggressively promoted the 957-page Clinton opus. On “Larry King Live,” Dan Rather obsequiously boasted he’d read Clinton from cover to cover, and “I think it compares very favorably with Ulysses S. Grant's gold standard of presidential autobiographies.”
President Obama's fiercest obstacles as chief executive are neither recalcitrant Republicans nor the increasing complexity and demands of the job; they are his ideology and his political allegiances.
Newsweek sees it differently. In its latest issue, it laments: "The presidency has grown, and grown and grown, into the most powerful, most impossible job in the world. ... The issue is not Obama, it's the office. ... Can any single person fully meet the demands of the 21st-century presidency?"
Every week, we receive more bad news about the American economy. Last week was no exception.
The Fed began monetizing the national debt, while China's gross domestic product for the third quarter expanded 8.9 percent from the previous quarter, Dagong (the Chinese quasi-government ratings agency) downgraded the credit rating of the United States, and billionaire George Soros expanded his global economic warlording by opening an office in Hong Kong — advancing his goal of making China a part of the new world order.
The election is over. If you're one of those odd people whose lives are totally consumed in politics, you can try re-engaging in real life again. Which means that I've caught up on the important things I missed during the election season. I'm watching Reba.
Country queen Reba McEntire released a video with rural crooner Kenny Chesney this summer, which I got to see only in the wake of the election results. It's called "Every Other Weekend," and it's sweet enough.
Energy czar Carol Browner needs to go the way of disgraced green jobs czar Van Jones: under the bus and stripped of her unbridled power to destroy jobs and lives in the name of saving the planet. ASAP.
One of the Beltway's most influential, entrenched and unaccountable left-wing radicals, Browner has now been called out twice by President Obama's own federal BP oil spill commission and Interior Department inspector general. How many strikes should a woman who circumvented the Senate confirmation process and boasts a sordid history of abusing public office get?
If preliminary rumblings from the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform's upcoming report are accurate, I'm afraid the conservative agenda — though overwhelmingly victorious in last week's elections — might be against the ropes again, especially with GOP congressmen praising the report.
Our astronomical deficits are the result not of low taxes, but of profligate spending. So why do we accept the premise that the starting point for deficit and debt reduction discussions must be various tax hikes, tolerating unacceptably high levels of spending, and seeming to take off the table the eradication of programs the government was never intended or constitutionally authorized to establish in the first place?
At the recent Group of 20 (G 20) meeting, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner called upon the largest industrialized economies to get their current account balance — whether a surplus or a deficit — below 4 percent of their gross domestic product by 2015. Four countries have current account surpluses exceeding 4 percent: Saudi Arabia (6.7 percent), Germany (6.1 percent), China (4.7 percent) and Russia (4.7 percent.) Countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia that are "structurally large exporters of raw materials" would be exempt from the 4 percent limit, so the pressure of the U.S. proposal falls mainly on China and Germany. Our annual trade deficit of $500 billion is less than 4 percent of our GDP.
Acting on behalf of various interest groups, politicians fret over trade deficits but is it something that ordinary Americans ought to worry about? What politicians and inept people in the news media, whose duty is to inform, never bring up is that in the international trade arena, there are two accounts. One is called the current account, which consists of goods and services exchanged between Americans and foreigners. That's the account where we have a large trade deficit. Americans buy more goods and services from foreigners than they buy from us.
When it comes to the increasing sex, violence, and profanity in entertainment media, the social libertines are indifferent. They insist that children will hardly be warped or ruined by the media they consume. They chortle at the paranoia of Hollywood critics. Their mantra: If you don't like it, just turn the channel.
But if the issue isn’t indecency, but instead, say, obesity – so many of those titans of “tolerance” suddenly become the censors. Behold San Francisco, the paradise of permissive sexual attitudes. The city council may welcome flowers in your hair, but they have just voted to ban “Happy Meal” toys unless the “happy” menu is low in fat and sodium and includes fruits and vegetables.
Apparently, that villain Ronald McDonald has been leading a Vast Child-Fattening Conspiracy.
The other day, I sat down to breakfast. It was a normal day. Five daily newspapers were laid out before me. As I went over the front pages, I downed orange juice and a bowl of oatmeal powdered with brown sugar and flaxseed. Then I went off to my library with the newspapers and a cup of coffee. By then, incidentally, I was revolted.
The New York Times carried on its front page a perfectly disgusting story. It was not a news story, for it broke no news. It was, rather, a feature story, meant to inform and, I presume, to move me to action. It was about the prevalence of suicide in Afghanistan by women who use cooking oil and matches to do themselves in, sometimes successfully, sometimes incompetently and all the more painfully. This was brought to my attention even before my matutinal coffee!
It is not the first time the Times — or, for that matter, The Washington Post — has put on its front page appalling stories that did not have to be there. Both newspapers run such feature stories on the front page rather regularly — but not The Washington Times, not The Washington Examiner and certainly not The Wall Street Journal, my other three newspapers. They run repellent stories but usually inside. I think it tells you something about the biases of these newspapers.
Last weekend, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., tried his hand at dissecting GOP foreign policy attitudes. I commend the senator for trying to come to grips with this vital question that is getting so little, if any, national discussion. As foreign events grow ever more threatening, the view of the now both culturally and congressionally dominant party — the GOP — becomes central to the range of political options that President Obama has, as a practical matter.
There are two factors to assess: 1) Is the pre-tea party GOP in the process of shifting significantly from its free trade, strong, assertive military posture that it has maintained for two generations and 2) do the new tea party members have a discernible position, and if so, what is it?
Chalk up another Code Red Elmo moment for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. While Islamic terrorists groom suicide bombers starting in kindergarten, the grownups in charge of protecting America can't seem to reach an elementary level of competence.
The "good" news: Hindsight-driven bureaucrats at DHS moved to ban high-risk cargo from Yemen and Somalia this week after a global air scare involving makeshift printer/toner cartridge-bombs. The bad news: More than nine years after the 9/11 jihadist attacks, untold numbers of high-risk flyers have been able to board, ride and pilot American planes — some with Transportation Security Administration approval to boot.
Liberal Democrats show no signs of reading their washout at the polls as a reason to shift to the center. President Obama told “60 Minutes” his only mistake was he passed some major legislation, but he didn’t focus enough on the messy “how” – as in “how it’s risky to pass an ObamaCare bill that a majority says it doesn’t want.”
Nancy Pelosi is the other face of the eviscerated Left. A Gallup poll in mid-October found 56 percent of Americans have a negative opinion of her, almost double the percentage that feels negatively toward incoming House Speaker John Boehner. Rather than cede the field to a new general, without the baggage, she is lunging ahead to be re-elected as leader of the shrunken House Democrats.
Now Obama, Pelosi, and their troops in the media are going to turn to the proposition that the House Republicans must be defeated. Oh, the irony. Weren’t their knickers in the tightest of knots when Rush Limbaugh stated he wanted Obama to fail?