Here's a question: What is the true test of one's commitment to freedom of expression? Is it when one permits others to express ideas with which he agrees? Or is it when he permits others to express ideas he finds deeply offensive? I'm betting that most people would wisely answer that it's the latter, and I'd agree. How about this question: What is the true test of one's commitment to freedom of association? Is it when people permit others to freely associate in ways of which they approve? Or is it when they permit others to freely associate in ways they deem despicable?
I'm sure that might be a considerable dispute about freedom of association compared with the one over freedom of expression. To be for freedom in either case requires that one be brave enough to accept the fact that some people will make offensive expressions and associate in offensive ways. Let's explore this with an example from the past.
In this last installment of my back-to-school series, I will address possibly the most controversial aspect of Thomas Jefferson and public education: Did he advocate and expect only a completely secular public education system?
Rather than have it remain only in churches or private schools, Jefferson proposed that religious education be incorporated in the public education system, too — but with a twist.
In my soon to be 77 years as a citizen of the United States of America, having lived through Japan's sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the dark days of WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Watergate, 9/11 and all the other serious and profound events our beloved nation has been involved in over the last three quarters of a century, I have to say with all sincerity that I have never seen a president as confused, befuddled, impotent, insincere and as out of his depth as Barack Obama has become in dealing with the Syrian issue.
When you're the leader of the free world, you don't make statements you can't back up and you don't draw lines in the sand, watch your enemies cross them with impunity and go off and play a round of golf.
The media's fixation on the Trayvon Martin case, while ignoring much more brutal crimes with clearer racial motivations, is a return to pre-O.J. America.
The thesis of my book, "Mugged: Racial Demagoguery From the Seventies to Obama" -- out in paperback this week! -- is that after decades of liberals play-acting Racist America, wherein they cast themselves as civil rights champions, and other, random white people as Bull Connor (a Democrat), it all ended with the O.J. verdict.
Ashton Kutcher, the 35-year-old actor and ex-husband of actress Demi Moore, has never been considered a poster child for the "family values crowd," but at the Teen Choice Awards two weeks ago, he could have easily passed for one.
Following screams from young female fans in the audience, Kutcher silenced them with a motivational message that bordered on inspiration. He told them: "I believe that opportunity looks a lot like hard work. ... I've never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a steppingstone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job."
Sometimes I wonder when black people will reject the patronizing insults of white progressives and their black handmaidens. After CNN's Piers Morgan's interview with the key witness in the George Zimmerman trial, he said: "Rachel Jeantel is not uneducated. She's a smart cookie." That's a remarkable conclusion. Here's a 19-year-old young lady, still in high school, who cannot read cursive and appears to be barely literate. Morgan may have meant Jeantel is smart — for a black person.
Progressives treat blacks as victims in need of kid glove treatment and special favors, such as racial quotas and preferences. This approach has been tried in education for decades and has revealed itself a failure. I say it's time we explore other approaches. One approach is suggested by sports. Blacks excel — perhaps dominate is a better word — in sports such as basketball, football and boxing to such an extent that blacks are 80 percent of professional basketball players, are 66 percent of professional football players and, for decades, have dominated most professional boxing categories.
It was an atypical August summer day in Washington, D.C., 50 years ago next week. Temperatures were in the low 80s, about 10 degrees cooler than normal. Skies were partly cloudy. Most government officials were vacationing.
I was a young copyboy at the NBC News Washington bureau. Correspondent Jack Perkins asked me to accompany him to hear a speech by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lincoln Memorial.
No one likes to see his religion trashed, and from everything we have learned about [the PBS documentary] "The Life of Muhammad," Muslims have nothing to worry about. The New York Daily News says the film could be subtitled "Islam 101," boasting that "If it helps with greater understanding, it has done its job." A professor who appears in the series praises it for its "balance."
However, a look back at PBS' treatment of the Catholic Church yields few films that could reasonably be dubbed "Catholicism 101," or that could in any way be praised for promoting "greater understanding." In fact, most of the films were flagrantly imbalanced.
The thought of ObamaCare makes many Americans uneasy. The American people know that this overhaul of the health care system drives up the cost of health care, undermines the doctor-patient relationship and vastly expands the role of the federal government.
The national media’s coverage of the health care reform law has been anything but balanced. From the onset, the media have used emotional, anecdotal stories to help sell Obamacare. Newspapers have buried polls deep within their pages that show a majority of Americans’ favor a repeal of the health care program. And many media outlets have refused to cover the recent setbacks to this major health care overhaul.
Why is it that natural gas sells in the U.S. for $3.94 per 1,000 cubic feet and in Europe and Japan for $11.60 and $17, respectively? Part of the answer is our huge supply. With high-tech methods of extraction and with discovery of vast gas-rich shale deposits, estimated reserves are about 2.4 quadrillion cubic feet. That translates into more than a 100-year supply of natural gas at current usage rates. What partially explains the high European and Japanese prices is the fact that global natural gas markets are not integrated. Washington has stringent export restrictions on natural gas.
Naturally, the next question is: Why are there natural gas export restrictions? Just follow the money. According to OpenSecrets.org, The Dow Chemical Co. "posted record lobbying expenditures last year, spending nearly $12 million, and is on pace to eclipse that number this year." The company has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars contributing to the political campaigns of congressmen who support export restrictions. Natural gas is a raw material for Dow. It benefits financially from cheap gas prices, which it fears would rise if Congress were to lift export restrictions. Dow argues, "Continuing optimism for U.S. manufacturing is founded on the prospect of an adequate, reliable and reasonably priced supply of natural gas." Of course, Dow and other big users of natural gas get support from environmentalists, who are anti-drilling and anticipate that export restrictions will serve their ends.
Network morning “news” shows are aimed directly at women aged 25 to 54. ABC’s “Good Morning America” is routinely winning the ratings race by skipping the boring “hard news” and focusing heavily on real-life soap operas like the Jodi Arias murder trial or the Ariel Castro kidnapping outrage. It isn’t news at all. It’s infotainment.
But what really caused jaws to drop recently was ABC promoting its latest sex-drenched Sunday night soap opera to those women. Viewers saw a naked man and woman in bed, with a side breast shot and the man's hand grasping the top of the woman's thigh -- on TV at breakfast time [screen capture shown below break]. As usual, this eye-grabbing sex scene wasn’t between spouses. That’s never scandalous enough.
Do liberals have any arguments for their idiotic ideas besides calling their opponents "racist"?
The two big public policies under attack by the left this week are "stop-and-frisk" policing and voter ID laws. Democrats denounce both policies as racist. I'm beginning to suspect they're getting lazy in their arguments.
Why is gun control the only policy we're allowed to discuss when horrific murders occur? In the liberal mindset, "root causes" of crime begin and end with the Second Amendment. But who pays the price when our public guardians fail to secure our borders, refuse to deport serial criminal offenders, and enable drug-crazed menaces to prey upon innocent citizens?
Meet 27-year-old Julio Miguel Blanco-Garcia. An illegal alien from Guatemala, he has lived and worked in Fairfax County, Va., for at least 11 years. The region is a notorious "sanctuary" for immigration law-breakers where elected officials and big business look the other way for cheap labor and cheap votes.
"We maintain the peace through our strength; weakness only invites aggression." -- Ronald Reagan, March 23, 1983
President Reagan's speech to the nation 30 ago launched a major arms buildup to confront the expanding military power and political aspirations of the Soviet Union. It followed the disastrous presidency of Jimmy Carter, whose nonperformance during the Iran hostage crisis led to the perception in the Muslim world that America was weak and had lost its resolve to confront enemies.
Well, it's that traditional time of the year again when the president goes on vacation and the conservative world ridicules him for taking time off with his family because of the disarray of our country or the enormousness of expenditures in his doing so. But is there really nothing redeemable or commendable in a father and husband's spending extended time with his family away from home and office, even when it's the Oval Office?
Don't misunderstand me. I have very little in common with our current president, and I think it's ludicrous how much is spent for the first family to go on a single week's vacation. There must be an easier and better way — if not many of them. But all of that doesn't discount the incredible value of a father and husband's pulling away from the rat race — especially in Washington — for a breather and some family time.
Instead of the GOP focusing all its energy on infighting over the so-called "tactical" decision of whether to defund Obamacare, how about remembering who the real enemies of freedom are and directing its energies toward the Democrats, who are propping up this monster?
It is painful to witness the expenditure of so much negative energy among people who all say they oppose the law. This law is so bad and so unpopular and its negative consequences so apparent that we would have to be complete incompetents not to be able to make this case to the American people, the majority of whom already agree.
STAVANGER, Norway -- The several hundred conservatives on the National Review's summer cruise, which I was asked to attend as a speaker, are united in what they don't like about the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, but divided on the best strategy for winning the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016.
On a panel titled "The State of the GOP and Conservatism," Bob Costa, the magazine's Washington bureau chief, asks if anyone agrees with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), who thinks Republicans should be willing to shutdown the government over the issue of defunding the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
After attacking Bill O'Reilly's history last week, I'll defend his sociology this week. On Monday, MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell ridiculed Fox News' O'Reilly for saying that single motherhood is responsible for the the high black crime rate.
O'Reilly said, quite correctly: "The reason there is so much violence and chaos in the black precincts is the disintegration of the African-American family. Right now, about 73 percent of all black babies are born out of wedlock. That drives poverty. And the lack of involved fathers leads to young boys growing up resentful and unsupervised. And it has nothing to do with slavery. It has everything to do with you Hollywood people and you derelict parents."
Finally. Four years after Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan walked into the Soldier Readiness Processing Center at Fort Hood, Texas, and perpetrated the bloodiest massacre ever on an American military base, the self-confessed jihadist's court martial proceedings began this week. Have you forgotten?
Americans obsessed over the O.J. Simpson, Casey Anthony and Jodi Arias trials. Gun-control lobbyists turned Newtown, Aurora and Tucson into national awareness-raising, fundraising and legislation-promoting campaigns. But where are the celebrity lobbyists and high-profile advocates for the victims of bloodthirsty Muslim vigilante Nidal Hasan?
AMSTERDAM -- On the day I visit the Anne Frank House, which is actually the family's hiding place atop Anne's father's business, the wait to get in is as long as three hours. Such is the attraction of this historic site, 53 years after it was opened to the public.
Anne and her family were among an estimated 107,000 Jews deported to concentration camps from The Netherlands during the German occupation in World War II.
It's no secret that both political parties are struggling to connect with voters. Strategists dream up marketing plans to increase their party's appeal to this constituency or that group. Sometimes they work, and sometimes they don't. But they never establish a deep and lasting connection with voters.
That's because most of what the parties talk about is yesterday's news and is largely irrelevant to the realities of the 21st century.
It's good to be the king ... of class warfare hypocrisy. While he lectures his political opponents about their neglect of middle-class America, President Obama is headed to Martha's Vineyard. Again. Because nothing spells populist like a $7.6 million, 9.5-acre estate owned by one of Chicago's wealthiest corporate financiers.
The sprawling summer manse of David Schulte is actually a downgrade from the Obama family's previous summer digs. The $21 million, 28.5-acre Blue Heron Farm that had hosted Obama and his massive entourage since 2009 isn't available for rental anymore because a British mogul snapped it up.
If we put ourselves into the shoes of racists who seek to sabotage black upward mobility, we couldn't develop a more effective agenda than that followed by civil rights organizations, black politicians, academics, liberals and the news media. Let's look at it.
First, weaken the black family, but don't blame it on individual choices. You have to preach that today's weak black family is a legacy of slavery, Jim Crow and racism. The truth is that black female-headed households were just 18 percent of households in 1950, as opposed to about 68 percent today. In fact, from 1890 to 1940, the black marriage rate was slightly higher than that of whites. Even during slavery, when marriage was forbidden for blacks, most black children lived in biological two-parent families. In New York City, in 1925, 85 percent of black households were two-parent households. A study of 1880 family structure in Philadelphia shows that three-quarters of black families were two-parent households.
Does anyone read anymore? I mean, besides tweets from Anthony Weiner?
During his otherwise excellent commentaries on race in America, Bill O'Reilly, host of the No. 1 cable news show, claimed on Tuesday night that the one person who tried to help African-Americans more than any other was ... Robert F. Kennedy! No one laughed. I guess that's what they're teaching these days at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. (I can't wait to hear how Ted Kennedy helped eradicate drunk driving!)
Sometimes life hits you like a roundhouse kick, reminding you about what really matters. That happened to me this past week with the life, bravery and fighting spirit of 35-year-old Jen Bulik.
I was just about to continue my series on Thomas Jefferson and public education, when I read Jen's story. (I'll pick up that series again in two weeks, after I highlight another amazing story of sacrifice and leadership.)
When it comes to Vietnam, I'm all for moving on, putting the past behind us, looking forward, letting bygones be bygones, but doing so requires honesty about the past, lest history be forgotten and the memory and honor tarnished of the 60,000 Americans who died in that war.
On his visit to Washington last week, President Truong Tan Sang of Vietnam told President Obama the late revolutionary Ho Chi Minh, was inspired by the U.S. Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and the words of Thomas Jefferson. In an ad in the Washington Post, President Sang even claimed Jefferson's vision of liberty was the same as Ho's. Not exactly.
Now for some good news, and it has nothing to do with the birth of the royal baby.
According to a USA Today/Bipartisan Policy Center poll, "Americans by more than 2-1 say the best way to make positive changes in society is through volunteer organizations and charities, not by being active in government." Even better news: People under 30 are especially put off by politics and are "significantly less likely than their parents to say participating in politics is an important value in their lives."
The most powerful female Democrat on Capitol Hill has turned her back on women. Again. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, entrenched 13-term incumbent, refuses to say whether creepster San Diego Mayor Bob Filner should resign amid an avalanche of longstanding sexual harassment allegations, staff resignations and now a lawsuit.
"What goes on in San Diego is up to the people of San Diego. I'm not here to make any judgments," declared the very same feminist crusader who has spearheaded unabashedly judgmental nationwide attacks on the so-called "Republican War on Women."