"If there is anything that links the human to the divine, it is the courage to stand by a principle when everybody else rejects it." -- Abraham Lincoln
History is full of warnings about what happens when people follow public opinion instead of standing by their principles. In its most extreme manifestation, public opinion might well become mob rule when vigilantes take the law into their own hands.
It's Holy Week, but what's not so holy is the assault on religious liberty in the U.S.
Religious liberty has been called rightly America's "first freedom," not only because the right is contained in the First Amendment but also because it predates the U.S. and has its origin in God, not government, and the freedoms he endowed within us. But over the past few decades, that basic freedom has come under assault — particularly, in recent years, regarding Christianity.
It's business as usual in the post-9/11 world. Your federal government is back to pandering to wealthy travelers from Saudi Arabia. In the eyes of our massive homeland security apparatus, the comfort of Saudis is a higher priority than the safety of American citizens.
And thanks to reckless, feckless bureaucrats who fear being labeled "racists," "xenophobes" and "Islamophobes," political correctness remains the handmaiden of terror.
I had barely left the stage at CPAC when Republicans did the exact thing I told them not to do.
Contrary to giddy liberals writing the obituary of the Republican Party, the nation has not swung left. Republicans just keep losing easy races through unforced errors. I advised them to stop doing that.
For the first time, I am wondering about the long-term viability of the Republican Party. I say this not as an advocate of its demise or restructuring but as an observer of troubling signs.
The Republican Party is thought to be the institutional vehicle for the advancement of conservative policies, but for decades, the conservative movement has been frustrated with the party's deviation from conservative principles — its refusal to live up to its decidedly conservative platform.
The Telegraph, a newspaper in the United Kingdom, noted how Catholicism has spread its wings by appointing Pope Francis as its first non-European pope since A.D. 741. Yet countries such as Iran are still clamping down on religion by incarcerating Christians and putting them on trial for their faith.
According to Fox News, "five men were among seven arrested in October when security forces raided an underground house church in the city of Shiraz during a prayer session." And Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a religious persecution watchdog organization, elaborated that they are being tried in Islamic Revolutionary Court on charges of "disturbing public order, evangelizing, action against national security and ... (Internet) activity against the system."
The Maryland legislature recently voted to abolish capital punishment in the state, making Maryland the sixth state in the last six years to eliminate the death penalty.
The primary argument for repealing the law is that our justice system is imperfect and it's possible an innocent person could be condemned. Indeed, anti-death penalty activists presented Kirk Bloodsworth, a former death-row inmate, convicted of the 1984 rape and murder of a 9-year-old girl. His conviction was overturned on appeal after the court found the prosecution had withheld exculpatory evidence from the defense. However, Bloodsworth was retried and sentenced to two life terms, a conviction later upheld on appeal. In 1993, Bloodsworth was exonerated after DNA linked someone else to the crime.
Like the proverbial monkey typing for infinity and getting Shakespeare, Mayor Bloomberg's obsession with reforming New Yorkers' health has finally produced a brilliant ad campaign.
Posters are popping up in subway stations and bus stops giving statistics about teen pregnancy that show cute little kids saying things like, "Honestly, Mom ... chances are he won't stay with you. What happens to me?" and "I'm twice as likely not to graduate high school because you had me as a teen."
There are three major factors that stand in the way of entitlement reform and the other responsible budgetary measures that must be taken to avert an eventual national financial catastrophe, and they have a common source.
The first is that too many American people remain, amazingly, in the fog about the scope of the problem. The second is that a certain political ideology refuses to substitute a designated driver for the intoxicated entitlement state, which is driving the American bankruptcy bus. The third is that the leader of this noxious ideology has a further conflict of interest precluding a solution to the crisis, which is that he is hellbent on inflicting harm on the only political party pushing for reform and on successful entrepreneurs, who are critical to economic growth — a key component of any reform measure.
President Obama handily defeated congressional Republicans in the political fight over his health care law. But the law will now face a much tougher opponent — the creativity of Americans determined to gain more control over their own health care decisions. The end result will be a system much different than the president hopes for — and his opponents fear.
To understand why, consider how the nation's 50 million 401(k) retirement accounts came into existence. It was not what Congress intended when it passed the Tax Revenue Act of 1978. Congressional summaries of the legislation listed dozens of its "major provisions" without mentioning what would become its most lasting legacy. At the time, even reducing the top tax rate from 48 percent to 46 percent was considered more important.
The Broadway musical "Annie" is enjoying another revival on Broadway. The show opened during the Carter administration when America was in need of some optimism. "The sun'll come out tomorrow," sang Annie, and with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, for a while, it did.
Now we're back in "Hooverville," the name given to shanty towns that popped up during the Great Depression. It isn't that bad yet, though the Obama administration is forecasting gloom and doom if Republicans don't cave on another tax increase.
Is it possible that Obama's arrogance, personal pettiness, sanctimoniousness and egotism (for starters) could finally be his unraveling? Even the liberal media are starting to notice, but will it last?
Up to this point, they've dutifully played along with his Alinskyite tactics — converting the office of the presidency into a headquarters for community organizing at a federal level and a position to organize and fund a perpetual campaign against his political opponents instead of governing.
It's a safe bet that most conservative Republicans would rush to support a political leader with the following record, especially in a traditionally Democratic state:
-- Reversed a $2.2 billion deficit and brought it into balance without raising taxes, largely by reduced spending and eliminating wasteful and unaffordable programs, allowing for a projected fiscal 2014 budget surplus of $300 million.
I have long contended that public policy issues are as complicated as they appear because the giants of Capitol Hill like it that way, particularly the giants of the left. Bills can be written more simply. Decisions can be phrased with a certain lucidity. Yet, if they were, the electorate would mull them over and, after a cup of coffee, make a decision on them. As things stand today, with talk of budget imbalance and of esoteric matters such as "sequestration," voters scratch their heads, blink their eyes and walk away. Who gives a hoot? It is time for my morning nap, perhaps, two naps.
This is another anti-democratic way that Washington politicians have bootlegged our legislative process. Make policy so confusing to normal people that they will take little or no interest in it. It is all a game reserved exclusively for the political class. Al Gore in his new book, prosaically titled "The Future: Six Drivers of Global Change," bangs on about the power of lobbyists and giant corporations in shaping legislation — do you know anyone who sits on more corporate boards than Gore? Has he considered the unwieldy nature of the legislation in the first place? Debt piled atop debt that even Warren Buffett cannot conceptualize. Sequestration, indeed — why not segregation or constipation? It is a geek to me.
Having given up on trying to persuade Americans that taking guns away from law-abiding citizens will reduce the murder rate, Democrats have turned to their usual prohibitionary argument: "Why does anyone need (an assault weapon, a 30-round magazine, a semiautomatic, etc., etc.)?"
Phony conservative Joe Manchin, who won his U.S. Senate seat in West Virginia with an ad showing him shooting a gun, said, "I don't know anyone (who) needs 30 rounds in a clip."
CNN's Don Lemon, who does not fit the usual profile of the avid hunter and outdoorsman, demanded, "Who needs an assault rifle to go hunting?"
Fantasist Dan Rather said, "There is no need to have these high-powered assault weapons."