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."
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.