President Barack Obama is not just a radical leftist; he is obviously so ensconced in his ideology that he believes — or wants you to believe — that anyone who opposes him must have sinister motives. One of his recurring themes is that some Republicans would work with him but can’t do so for fear of reprisal from Grover Norquist on taxes, the National Rifle Association on guns, the conservative House caucus, radio talk show hosts and your garden-variety racists, who allegedly oppose Obama just for sport. In mid-January, Obama accused the “gun lobby” of “ginning up” fears that the federal government would use the Newtown, Conn., shooting tragedy to seize America’s guns, saying, “It’s certainly good for business.” Is that how presidents should talk? Obama suggested that GOP congressional opposition was based not on principle but on the fear that unless it resisted Obama’s gun-grabbing schemes, it would lose its precious NRA funding. As if the American public agrees with Obama on this issue any more than it did on Obamacare. As if Obama truly cares whether the American public agrees with him on this issue (other than as a means to an end) any more than he cared about the public’s view on Obamacare. Indeed, this is either record-breaking myopia or sophisticated Orwellian deception. Few things are more palpable on the political scene today than the groundswell of grass-roots support for the right to own firearms under the Second Amendment. It is intrinsic to the American character. Obama didn’t just mischaracterize the public mood on the issue of gun control; he threw in an additional allegation of political corruption against Republicans, saying, “The House Republican majority is made up mostly of members who are in sharply gerrymandered districts that are very safely Republican and may not feel compelled to pay attention to broad-based public opinion, because what they’re really concerned about is the opinions of their specific Republican constituencies.” Do you see the pattern here? As the leading disciple of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, Obama must delegitimize his political opposition. He can’t just debate issues on the merits. He must “pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” We’ve seen Obama do it on virtually every policy he has promoted — from demonizing health care professionals and insurance companies in pursuit of Obamacare to taunting “fat cat banks” in his quest for financial “reform” to his defamation of “big oil” to his personal attacks on the “rich” to his savaging of Rep. Paul Ryan and other House Republicans as callous toward seniors and the middle class for daring to reform entitlements. Obama will not stand for House Republicans to be seen as good-faith opponents to his socialist agenda. He has to slander them with charges of nefarious motives. Republicans oppose his gun grab because they jealously guard their corruptly acquired congressional seats (through gerrymandering), which depend upon blood money from the NRA, which is motivated by its own lust for profits. There simply can’t be any legitimate public opposition to his position, because, by gosh, he’s the president and his views — and mandate — are superior. Obama isn’t content just to vilify his congressional opposition. With a newfound cockiness from his re-election that even exceeds his previous levels, he has now called out Fox News and private citizen Rush Limbaugh. Alinsky’s cremated ashes must be glowing with delight. Obama said, “If a Republican member of Congress is not punished on Fox News or by Rush Limbaugh for working with a Democrat on a bill of common interest, then you’ll see more of them doing it.” He added, “The more left-leaning media outlets recognize that compromise is not a dirty word” and that Democratic leaders are “willing to buck the more absolutist-wing elements in our party to try to get stuff done.” That statement alone should tell you how warped Obama’s perspective is. The congressional Democratic leadership is already so leftist and uncompromising that it doesn’t have to worry about pleasing more leftist elements. And the left-leaning media not only don’t recognize what true compromise is but also don’t hold Obama to account for his own habitual refusal to compromise. That Obama is the most ideologically extreme president in history and routinely demonizes his political opponents is bad enough. But he has crossed the line in targeting the sole TV news outlet that refuses to allow his propaganda to go unchallenged and even more so in attacking commentator Rush Limbaugh for the sin of articulating the opinions of millions upon millions of American patriots who are horrified at Obama’s statist agenda. This is the stuff of Third World tyrants, my friends. This is the MO of dictators, who want to control the media and silence any unfavorable coverage or commentary. Even liberals should be outraged at this abominable behavior. And they should have the integrity to say so. David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book, “The Great Destroyer,” reached No. 2 on the New York Times best-seller list for nonfiction. Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
The NBC series “Parenthood”‘ has drawn raves from TV critics this season for a storyline about a 40-something mother fighting cancer. Then on Jan. 1, NBC asked viewers to tune in the following Tuesday for an “unforgettable” new episode. A teenager would get an abortion at Planned Parenthood. Such is NBC’s definition of “parenthood.” Drew, one of show’s leading teenager characters, has an ex-girlfriend named Amy who comes back to tell him “I’m pregnant.” The high school seniors go to the Planned Parenthood clinic, and the scene plays like a political commercial. The counselor says, “If you decide to continue the pregnancy, we’d be happy to refer you for prenatal care. Of course, there are resources for teen moms who decide to raise a child. Adoption is also an option for you to consider. Now, if you decide to end the pregnancy, you have two options.” But then NBC swells the sensitive guitar-strumming music up. They don’t really want viewers to hear the abortion pitch. Oh, the irony. The couple returns to the car. Says Amy, “Well there’s only one option, right?” Drew replies, “That’s not the only option.” But Amy is traumatized: “If I have this baby, my life is over!” You can almost feel her channeling her inner Barack Obama. She doesn’t want to be “punished with a baby.” Drew isn’t so much pro-life as he is pro-Amy, wanting to convince her he supports her choices and hoping for a future with her. “Look, obviously I’m gonna support you no matter what. That’s all I’m saying.” This neatly matches the laughable new Planned Parenthood slogan, selling the idea of their neutrality on abortion: “Care. No matter what.” Care to murder a child if you believe the fetus to be a child? The girl blankly insists, “I need help coming up with the money.” Guess what Planned Parenthood called it on Twitter? A “refreshing” episode about “the real issues teens face.” After the off-camera abortion, Drew drives Amy home and asks if he can call later. She thanks him for the ride, but says she needs “a lot of space.” At the episode’s end, he arrives home crying and falls into his mother’s arms. Is the crying from the trauma of the abortion? Or is he just distraught at being dumped by the girl? NBC ends the show without any actual explanation. Of one thing we can be certain. NBC will never portray him as guilt-ridden for taking the life of his own child. The next week’s episode skipped this life-and-death chapter completely, but not for long. On Jan. 22, the 40th anniversary of the Roe v. Wade abortion decision, the story arc wrapped up in a brief scene placed smack-dab in the middle of the show. Drew shows up on Amy’s doorstep and says he’s been accepted to college at Berkeley. She says she’s been accepted to Tufts in Boston. With the realization that this “love” will never last, Drew gives Amy a hug and they say they’ll never forget each other, and he leaves. Life goes on — for them, anyway. At the end of that episode comes the obnoxious feint toward “balance.” Two adult characters smile at a sonogram of their unborn baby. They’re apparently old enough to be “punished” with it. The abortion plot gets sillier if a viewer rewinds back a few episodes to November to the beginning of this “unforgettable” plot. Seemingly out of nowhere, Amy shows up at Drew’s home and agrees to sex with the boyfriend she had freshly dumped just because she felt sorry for him that his aunt was suffering with cancer. “Reality,” 90210-style. This isn’t the only recent teenage abortion on TV. In 2010, NBC’s “Friday Night Lights” featured a high school freshman getting an abortion after her high school principal hinted at that “choice.” It’s not a coincidence that both episodes were written by the same man — Jason Katims. He told Entertainment Weekly in 2010 NBC offered “minimal drama” in reviewing the episode. “I honestly felt surprised that there wasn’t more of a conversation about it.” Entertainment Weekly felt compelled to editorialize back then on behalf of more TV abortion scenes: “That there was so little uproar around the episodes proves we may be ready for a real discussion that television can lead — if it so chooses.” But only if that “discussion” is stilted toward sexually rambunctious children killing their unwanted babies. L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
President Obama and Vice President Biden gathered their children for a photo-op as Obama showily signed executive orders to prevent future mass shootings. It quickly became obvious that regulating the entertainment media wasn’t part of his solution. Politics once more trumped policy. Hollywood not only went unregulated, it went unmentioned. Biden announced that he had met with “229 groups from law enforcement agencies to public health officials to gun officials to gun advocacy groups to sportsmen and hunters and religious leaders.” He also met with Hollywood lobbyists and video game manufacturers, but was there anyone really expecting those meetings to amount to anything? After all, Biden was reported to have “withheld judgment on whether graphic games fuel violence” when he met the game makers, but added, ”you all know the judgment other people have made.” Translation: You media executives might have an image problem. But we’re not here to worsen it. Team Obama talked about a broad “national dialogue” about violence after Adam Lanza’s suicidal shooting spree. Instead, they conducted a chummy off-the-record dialogue with their Hollywood and New York media-company campaign donors. The corporate flacks repeated all the usual moth-eaten lines to Biden about how parents can use their unreliable, self-evaluating ratings system. These are lies. And that system has never worked and will never work so long as those responsible for producing this violence continue to be in charge of rating it. Biden’s meeting with the entertainment industry was a cozy D.C. lobbying confab. Guests included former Senator Chris Dodd, now in Jack Valenti’s place at the Motion Picture Association; former Senator Gordon Smith, now heading the National Association of Broadcasters; former FCC head Michael Powell, now chief lobbyist for cable TV; and an unnamed representative from Comcast. Let’s just guess that’s their chief lobbyist David Cohen who hosted a $1.2 million fundraiser at his home with Obama in 2011. Before he signed his executive orders on guns, Obama conducted his usual mudslinging in front of the children. “There will be pundits and politicians and special interest lobbyists publicly warning of a tyrannical, all-out assault on liberty,” he warned. “Not because that’s true, but because they want to gin up fear or higher ratings or revenue for themselves. And behind the scenes, they’ll do everything they can to block any common-sense reform and make sure nothing changes whatsoever.” He was, of course, referring to Fox News. Do you know who wants to make sure nothing changes forever, and “common sense reforms” never surface for their own financial gain and higher ratings? The makers of violent TV, movies, music and video games. And do you know who just won re-election by constantly soliciting these blood-and-gore producers like a 24-hour ATM? It’s no wonder the NRA calls Obama an “elitist hypocrite.” Hollywood hasn’t exactly enacted a violence moratorium since Newtown. Matthew Philbin of the Media Research Center reports last weekend’s top five movies at the box office contained 65 scenes of violence, with 185 individual victims and 38 of the 65 scenes depicted gun violence. That’s leaving out “Texas Chainsaw Massacre 3-D,” which led the box office receipts the previous weekend. How is this for Hollywood sensitivity: the most violent movie of the top five was “Gangster Squad.” The ending scene was changed since the trailer originally showed the gangsters shooting up a theater, which became a no-no after the Aurora theater shooting. They just changed the massacre setting. The same hypocrisy was proven about violent TV. ABC Entertainment President Paul Lee proclaimed at TV’s winter press tour, “We are tremendously sensitive to this issue; we think about it and talk about it all the time. We are storytellers, but we want to make sure that the stories we tell are done with moral integrity.” On the very same day Hollywood’s lobbyists met with Biden, the ABC drama “Scandal” carried a graphic three-minute torture-and-beating scene. Viewers saw a man being waterboarded, his nose being broken and his face pounded into a bloody mess, with blood spattering on the walls. This is ABC’s idea of “moral integrity.” They were so “tremendously sensitive” about it that they rated it TV-14 because eighth-graders apparently wouldn’t find this disturbing at all. Obama and Hollywood want you to know they care deeply about the children. L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. To find out more about Brent Bozell III, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
CLARK COUNTY, Nev. — Official Washington has the collective attention span of a fruit fly. This condition is exacerbated by the Obama administration’s proclivity for declaring selective events and issues to be crises that require immediate action. The problem is aggravated because the loyal opposition is in nearly total disarray, and few in the so-called mainstream media have any idea what they are talking about. That’s the summary assessment of many attending the annual Shooting, Hunting, Outdoor Trade Show here in Harry Reid’s Nevada. Note to editors and broadcast producers: The SHOT Show isn’t a gun show. Nobody here can buy or sell a single firearm. There are guns here — and tents, boats, clothing, boots, camping gear, all-terrain vehicles, SUVs, bows, arrows, fishing tackle and all manner of police and equipment — even high-tech wheelchairs for outdoor activities. The SHOT Show isn’t open to the public — only to representatives of the industries above, professional outfitters, law enforcement officials and military suppliers and contractors. My first SHOT Show, in 1992, was as the manufacturer of specialty armor and ballistic protective equipment for law enforcement and our military. This year, I came to represent the Military and Veterans’ Affairs Committee of the National Rifle Association. Freedom Alliance sent our outreach coordinator to explore additional outdoor activities to help America’s military heroes recover from the wounds of war. Trade shows are really nothing more than an opportunity for members of an affinity group to meet and exchange ideas on new products and services, challenges facing their industry, and what works and what doesn’t to stay in business. There are more than 90,000 trade and professional associations in the U.S., and nearly all of them have gatherings with ample opportunities for fruitful conversations among like-minded people seeking solutions to common challenges. The nearly 36,000 people attending this year’s SHOT Show are no different. What was different this year was what was happening in Washington and, to a lesser extent, in Albany, N.Y., where Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed new “gun control” legislation into law Jan. 15. Nearly everyone I spoke with understood that New York’s Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act and the 23 directives issued the following day by the president were going to affect their business. The common refrain was: “How is (insert new measure here) going to stop bad people from doing bad things?” These are not cynical questions. They are serious inquiries from serious people who see their businesses — and the employment of hundreds of thousands of our countrymen — jeopardized by hasty, ill-conceived regulations that will not achieve the goal of a safer society. That’s not to say there is universal opposition to what the White House announced Jan. 16. In two days here at the SHOT Show, I’ve had hundreds of conversations with participants. A few observations: There is widespread support for the NRA’s proposal to put police officers in schools. All here endorse the idea of keeping firearms out of the hands of criminals and mentally unstable individuals who pose a danger to others. The ideas of pursuing and prosecuting “straw purchasers” of firearms and giving longer sentences to those convicted of violent crimes have wide appeal. There were, of course, some who suggested that Attorney General Eric Holder might have to prosecute himself for the straw purchases he authorized in his ill-conceived “Fast and Furious” gunrunning scheme. The NY SAFE Act requires law-abiding citizens to pass a background check before being able to purchase ammunition of any kind. One retailer points out: “There is no mechanism for making such a check — no form we can fill out, no way of complying. My lawyers have told us to stop filling catalog and Internet orders from New York ZIP codes until this is clarified. The people who drafted this law spent more time concocting a cute acronym than thinking about how this could put me out of business. Maybe that’s their real objective.” At 3-Gun Nation’s “Rumble on the Range” — where competitors are scored on speed and accuracy in firing a shotgun, a handgun and a rifle — one of the competitors, a U.S. Marine, observed: “This sport cannot happen with small-capacity magazines. Too bad Cuomo and Reid aren’t here to explain why this is a bad thing.” Citizens of the Empire State must now go elsewhere to practice and participate in three-gun competitions. And finally, there were numerous complaints that “nobody in politics or the media knows what an ‘assault weapon’ really is.” Perhaps. But there is an organization that does: the National Rifle Association. If the numbers are right, more than 100 million Americans own firearms. Yet only 4.5 million of us are members of the NRA. This would be a good time for law-abiding gun owners to join the organization that will fight for the right to keep them. Oliver North is the host of “War Stories” on Fox News Channel and the author of the New York Times best-seller “Heroes Proved.” To find out more about Oliver North and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
The China problem is not just that China is raking in trillions of dollars because of Obama’s spending and borrowing binges, and it’s not just that government policies encourage well-paying U.S. manufacturing jobs to move overseas. An even bigger problem is that the Obama administration is about to give Communist China some of our most precious and up-to-date military technology. This particular chicanery started when the Obama administration foolishly tried to use taxpayers’ money to force green energy to replace fossil fuels. But green energy can’t compete in the free market because it’s so much more expensive to produce. Obama gave a half-billion U.S. tax dollars to Solyndra to subsidize making solar panels, yet the company promptly went bankrupt. Then Obama awarded a grant of $250 million of Stimulus money to a firm called A123 to make batteries for electric cars, which also went bankrupt and now is trying to pay off its investors by auctioning the company. The high bidder at $256 million in a December auction was the Wanxiang Group, which has close ties to Communist China’s government. Its chief executive is one of the wealthiest men in China, a prominent figure in the Chinese Communist Party. This sale is dangerous to U.S. security because it involves the transfer of advanced battery technology using lithium iron phosphate, which produces longer life, lighter weight, higher power and more stable batteries that can operate in both very low and very high temperatures. In China’s hands, the new A123 technology will threaten U.S. electrical power and communications grids. China is eager for this acquisition because of its potential use in space weapons, anti-satellite missiles, lasers, and counter-space systems. Retired Navy Vice Admiral Barry Costello, former commander of the Navy’s Third Fleet, says the sale of A123 will give a big boost to China’s military expansion and warfare capability in space, cyber warfare and unmanned vehicles, all of which rely on battery power. One option considered is to sell only the commercial technology to Wanxiang and sell its U.S. defense contracts to a U.S. firm, Navitas Systems. But pretending that A123’s advanced technology can be sold to China only for business purposes is a pipe dream. A123 employs more than 100 scientists and engineers working on sensitive materials that are part of what is scheduled to be sold to Wanxiang. If China gets access to A123’s commercial applications, it will be easy for China to reverse-engineer the military applications. If Wanxiang owns A123’s intellectual property and highly skilled technicians, that means controlling today’s battery technology plus a 10-year leap in development. Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Chuck Grassley Iowa warn that the deal could give Wanxiang “access to these defense contracts and technology used by multiple branches of the U.S. military.” This giant and valuable gift would give Communist China cutting-edge, military-grade technology and control of the future supply chain. China would be able to use all this technology to continue its rapid buildup of a military to achieve dominance in the Pacific. The U.S. military has made a big investment in A123’s technology, which the Army’s chief of technology acquisition has called the “technology of the decade.” To develop it, the Air Force spent $4 million, the Navy spent $700,000, and the Army spent $21.8 million. This technology is critical to many U.S. military operations, proprietary applications for underwater vehicles, shipboard advanced systems, unmanned ground and air systems and portable power in satellites, combat vehicles and precision munitions. It is valuable to support soldiers in unfriendly ground conditions and excessive heat, and can lighten their heavy loads. More than two-dozen members of Congress have spoken out to oppose the sale of A123. Letters have been sent to the Secretaries of the Treasury, Defense, Energy and Homeland Security urging consideration of the “potential harmful consequences, including any threats to domestic security, innovation leadership and job creation.” U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, in his year-end report to Congress, accused China of flouting World Trade Organization rules and misusing the complaint procedure to retaliate against other countries. Kirk’s report also accused China of violating WTO rules by forcing other firms to give their trade secrets to China. Especially since U.S. taxpayers funded the development of these assets, it is contrary to common sense to transfer this cutting-edge battery technology to China and disadvantage U.S. national security. Whether we will allow Wanxiang to buy A123 with its new battery technology is now under review by CFIUS (Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S.). Tell your Members of Congress to stop this giveaway of U.S. technology to Communist China. Phyllis Schlafly is a lawyer, conservative political analyst and author of 20 books. She is the co-author, with George Neumayr, of the New York Times Best-Seller titled “No Higher Power: Obama’s War on Religious Freedom.” She can be contacted by e-mail at email@example.com. To find out more about Phyllis Schlafly and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Website at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
From New York to New Mexico and across the dependent plains, welfare recipients are getting sauced on the public dime. Drunk, besotted, bombed. But while politicians pay lip service to cutting government waste, fraud and abuse, they’re doing very little in practice to stop the EBT party excesses. Where’s the compassion for taxpayers? You see the signs everywhere: “We accept EBT.” Fast-food restaurants do. Clothing retailers do. Auto repair shops, liquor stores and even sushi joints are joining the club. “EBT” stands for the federal government’s electronic benefits transfer card, which is intended to provide poor people with food stamps and cash assistance for basic necessities. The two separate programs were combined into one ATM-like card designed to reduce the “stigma” attached to Nanny State dependency, and — voila! — an entirely new method of mooching was born. If the idea was to eliminate the embarrassment of life on the dole, the social justice crowd succeeded phenomenally. Last weekend, the New York Post blew the lid off scammers who brazenly swiped their EBT cards “inside Hank’s Saloon in Brooklyn; the Blue Door Video porn shop in the East Village; The Anchor, a sleek SoHo lounge; the Patriot Saloon in TriBeCa; and Drinks Galore, a liquor distributor in The Bronx.” Out: Cash for clunkers. In: Cash for drunkards! My home state of Colorado has seen similar abuse. Last year, local TV station 9NEWS reported that more than $40,000 was withdrawn from ATMs in metro-area liquor stores despite prohibitions against such spending. Colorado EBT users also splurged at Denver’s Elitch Gardens amusement part, Disneyland, Universal Studios in Los Angeles and on the Las Vegas strip. In New Mexico, Jim Scarantino of Watchdog.org reported that in just a three-month period, EBT cards were used at multiple liquor stores, girly bars, smoke shops and casinos both inside and outside the state. Californians are notorious EBT fraud artists; some $70 million in EBT funds were withdrawn from outside the state’s borders over the past several years, including nearly $12 million taken out in Las Vegas. Watchdog.org kept tabs on government workers in Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa and Wisconsin nabbed in EBT fraud rings and schemes. Several state legislatures have barred EBT spending on these vices, along with tattoo parlors, lottery tickets and cigarettes. Last February, President Obama signed GOP-backed welfare reform measures into law aimed at closing the so-called “strip club loophole” and preventing welfare recipients from blowing their cash benefits on booze, porn and gambling. But that law doesn’t go into effect until next year. And many politicians are just shrugging their shoulders, muttering “Whaddya gonna do?” Here’s a radical idea: How about making taxpayer protection a priority for once and, yes, getting serious about strengthening the stigma on bottomless entitlement dependency and entitlement abuse? According to the Department of Agriculture, illegal food stamp use costs the public upward of $750 million a year. A report by the Government Accountability Institute last fall revealed that “few security measures are in place to monitor EBT card fraud. … Nationwide, the USDA has approximately 100 investigators policing over 200,000 authorized EBT retailers.” In Florida, the report noted, 63 investigators carry the burden of policing more than three million EBT users. Excuse-makers for the welfare-takers emphasize that both eligibility fraud and EBT card trafficking fraud are minuscule. But a bottle here, a case there, a pole dance here, a lap dance there, and soon it all starts to add up. With food stamp rolls exploding under both Republican and Democratic administrations while enforcement resources shrink nationwide, EBT has taken on a whole new meaning: Exploitation of Broke Taxpayers. Shame. Michelle Malkin is the author of “Culture of Corruption: Obama and his Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies” (Regnery 2010). Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
It’s not often one comes across a person who has a real adventure story to tell. But that’s exactly what happened to me. Bobby Eberle had the pleasure of meeting a man who felt a calling to spread a patriotic message across the country and to revive the words of Abraham Lincoln. And so the adventure began: visiting all 50 state capitol buildings in 50 days.
Mickey Straub is his name. He’s 55 years old and resides in Illinois, the Land of Lincoln. His mission was to visit all 50 state capitols and recite the Gettysburg Address at every stop. That’s daunting enough, but he set the goal of accomplishing his mission in just 50 days.
Here’s what Mickey had to say about his adventure which ran from September to mid-October:
Bobby Eberle — This is quite an unprecedented undertaking. Why do it?
Mickey Straub – The short answer is “For Love of Country and in Honor of Lincoln”, but here is how it all evolved.
The thought of visiting all fifty capitols first came to mind ten years ago, in part as a way of showing my patriotism and appreciation for all the state’s capitols. Then three years ago I thought of doing 50 Capitols in 50 Days because I like big goals with short deadlines and frankly, I find deadlines motivating.
In recent years, two thoughts kept occurring that I could no longer ignore: the need for us all to show greater appreciation to our veterans (especially on Veterans Day) and the question of whether or not any reference to God still exists in our capitol buildings.
Even when the trip was launched on September 4th, the final reasons for making it were not clear, I just knew that it had to be done and that it felt like God’s will. I also knew that Abraham Lincoln and his Gettysburg address were to be the focal point to get the message out that we, as a country, need to get back to some founding principles so that “these dead shall not have died in vain”.
When I first started the day after Labor Day, my route and plan weren’t completely mapped out, and I still did not know if it was possible to accomplish, but it was my patriotic duty to try.
BE — What would you do when you arrived at each capitol?
MS – Upon entering each building, I would let the Capitol Police and tour desk know that I was attempting to visit all 50 Capitols in 50 Days and that I would be taking dozens of pictures to showcase each Capitol and state and search for any/all references to God, Liberty and Lincoln. Then I would go on a treasure hunt for a minimum of two hours onto each floor, every wing and chamber and around the perimeter of the building. Then, before leaving, I would recite the Gettysburg Address at each Capitol, usually in front with the dome in the background. Each visit took on such a brisk pace, that I even lost ten pounds on the trip!
BE — So tell me about liberty. That seems to be one of your central focuses for the trip.
MS – You’re right, signs of “liberty” took center stage in most capitols; actually, it was the one thing that I found common in all fifty capitols (right up there with state pride). This was a bit ironic, because the search for references to liberty was only added after a trend ensued: I couldn’t find any references to Lincoln south of New Jersey. Replicas of the Liberty Bell were front and center at many capitols, though it was not until Columbia, SC, that I learned that they existed and that they were given to every state by the U. S. Treasury back in 1950.
The love of liberty is alive and well, which was obvious from Vermont’s Constitution and Delaware’s state seal which reads “Liberty and Independence,” all the way to Hawaii where I found someone who actually researched the Liberty Bells by number and if they were on display, where. In Texas, you’ll find a sign in the corridors that reads “Liberty or Death” and the Goddess of Liberty is in both chambers above the House Speaker and the Senate President’s chair. Outside the Alabama State Capitol, you’ll find their (eternal) “Flame of Freedom” and the Statue of Liberty has great positioning outside the capitols in Atlanta, Texas and a few others. The bench outside the Pennsylvania State Capitol addresses both, reading: Life and Liberty are Gifts of Heaven. But probably nowhere was liberty more prominently displayed than on the New Hampshire license plate and state slogan which reads “Live Free or Die.”
BE — So tell me about Lincoln and how he fit into your adventure.
MS – It was always my intention to make the trip in the spirit of Abraham Lincoln, but his role steadily increased. I have always had an affinity for the principles of our 16th President and the Republican principles for which he stood that are part of our nation’s fabric. What I didn’t realize until right before I left was how he laid the formula for our nation’s future in the Gettysburg Address, that of God, Liberty, Unity and Patriotism. That’s why I decided to recite the Gettysburg Address at each capitol and encouraged all Americans to re-read this timeless, historic document in which Lincoln made not one reference to himself; but invoked the words, we, us, our, nation and the soldiers collectively a total of thirty times.
BE – Did you find many statues and/or references to Abraham Lincoln?
MS – Lincoln only showed up in twenty-seven (27) capitols. At first I was taken aback by his absence across the southern and western states, but it’s not all that surprising: Lincoln had the largest presence in the states he impacted the most and were part of the Union at the time.
The number of portraits, paintings, plaques, busts and statues of Abraham Lincoln located were numerous, though a few states deserve special mention. Pennsylvania has a large statue in the House Annex and you’ll find a bust in the center of Vermont’s capitol and he’s prominently displayed in Massachusetts. In New Jersey, you’ll find him right outside Governor Christie’s office and he occupies the rotunda of Kentucky’s capitol and outside of the one in West Virginia. Of course Lincoln is big in Illinois and Indiana, but you’ll also find a seated statue of him in Denver, Colorado and a major presence of him in the northwest where he is credited for helping create and bring into the union. Iowa has a seated Lincoln outside the front entrance of Lincoln and his son Tad, Kansas has a seated version of Lincoln with a very pensive, worried look on his face.
The number of portraits, images and bronze copies of the Gettysburg Address were also quite numerous. But my biggest surprises were probably Columbus, Ohio, in whose Governor’s office Lincoln received word that he won the election and which had the most references to Lincoln of any capitol, and Boise, Idaho, who boasts having the tallest Lincoln statue in the West and the fourth largest seated statue of Lincoln in a neighboring park. Idaho’s connections, affinity and gratitude to Lincoln run so deep that their website proclaims “More than any other state, Idaho is related to Abraham Lincoln.”
Even in capitols like that of Oklahoma, Lincoln may not have been on the inside, but Lincoln Boulevard was right out front. And even in Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, there stands a statue of Lincoln a few blocks away.
BE – I know one of your key quests was to find out if God is still in the capitol. I have to ask, “What did you find out?”
MS — I guess because I was expecting the worst, this was absolutely one of my most pleasant surprises: Forty-five out of fifty (45 of 50) State Capitols contain some public reference to God! Some may think, “Well, but five do not.” Yes, but that’s still ninety percent (90%) that do, and in the wake of all the efforts to remove any references to God (or religion), I thought that was great news.
Many states had the Ten Commandments on display, while others weren’t bashful to have “In God We Trust” proudly displayed. And wrapped around the State Seal of Ohio in the walkway leading up to the capitol, it reads “With God…all things are possible”.
And did you know that “In God We Trust” became our national motto in 1956 by proclamation of President Eisenhower? It was in Georgia, that a sign on display informed the visitors of the following: The final stanza of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key (and later adopted as the U.S. National Anthem), contains one of the earliest references to a variation of the phrase: “…and this be our motto: “In God is our trust.” It first appeared on U.S. currency on the back of Florida National Bank Notes in 1863 and on U.S. currency in 1957. “In God we Trust” is also Florida’s state motto and you’ll find it in many legislative chambers from coast to coast.
The Ten Commandments had prominent spots in Texas, Montana, Missouri, across the street in Idaho and at least one state judge who was removed from office for refusing to remove them from his courtroom, was just re-elected. (My favorite picture of the whole trip was probably the one of the Ten Commandments with the Texas State Capitol in the background.) Some references were subtle, but you’ll also find a cross in the Maryland flag (though they call it a Battle Cross) and more than one crucifix among the artwork in the New Mexico State Capitol, plus numerous other references from sea to shining sea on the walls, in portraits and framing and sometimes the floor or windows. I was also able to find several chapels and Nativity Scenes in the capitols and to the best of my knowledge all states say prayers before legislative sessions, or at least, all the ones asked.
BE — What about the people you met along the way. Were they helpful?
MS – Absolutely! The trip was full of surprises and that was one of them. If I am to write a book, the subtitle will be “Remarkable Kindness”, because that is exactly what I experienced. On my stop in South Carolina, I even had the opportunity to meet Dean Browner, who was photographed witnessing the famous “kiss” that symbolized the end of World War II.
The people in the capitols from the Capitol Police and the tour guides to legislative staff and governors were so gracious and often times appeared out of nowhere that I gave them a nickname: Capitol Angels. And I lost count of the serendipitous things that would happen and/or be said by complete strangers along the way, whether it was at a gas station, Starbucks, Subway or Seven Eleven, or by the Naval Academy student in Annapolis, the state senator in Florida, the capitol policeman in Little Rock, the Idaho pastor that I met in Denver and the incredible people I met in Hawaii and Alaska. There are just too many to list! On several occasions, complete strangers even prayed for me. I felt blessed to meet so many great people by chance and received blessings from many all across the country that I will never forget. It was the inspirational words and general goodness of people met that provided the needed fuel to press on…across 14,900 driving miles and an equal amount flying…in just 44 days.
BE — Now that you have finished and have had time to reflect, what do you think the trip taught you about this country?
MS – That’s an easy one: There are good people everywhere and America loves God and Liberty.
It’s easy to get caught up with the notion that society is decaying and the presence of God and Liberty are eroding from our culture, but that’s not what I saw. Further confirming it was that I found God in ninety percent and Liberty in one hundred percent of the capitols. This was not only true in the capitol buildings, but there was even greater evidence of God’s presence outside of them which was witnessed all across the country. People went out of their way to be kind or share some encouraging words or emails at every stop from the moment that I hit the door of each capitol, gas station or hotel lobby. What I was greeted with was remarkable kindness, and the willingness of people to help someone who was committed to reaching a goal. The quote by Alexis de Tocqueville in DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA comes to mind: “America is great because America is good.”
It probably helped that that was what I was looking for and that the trip was a patriotic one, but many of these chance meetings could only be explained with Divine intervention and it happened from the first capitol in Pennsylvania to the last in Illinois. One of my neighbors put it best when he said, “Mickey, you were looking for God in the capitols, but you found God everywhere.”
BE — What’s in store next for Mickey Straub?
MS – This wasn’t on the radar screen before the trip, but hundreds of people have suggested for me to write a book. In the end, I found the trip so life-changing that I intend to do so, along with making some speaking engagements. I really would like to inspire people with this story, whether it’s to visit their state capitol, read the Gettysburg Address, or set a big goal and set out to achieve it. We are blessed to live in an incredible, freedom and God loving country filled with remarkable people.
Over the next year, we will probably see much controversy over the implementation of Obamacare. Health insurance is something that almost every adult has some acquaintance with, and there seem to be glitches aplenty in the legislation, much delay in issuing regulations and some possible changes resulting from litigation. We’re likely to see or hear less about the operations of the Dodd-Frank financial regulation legislation, passed four months after Obamacare. Most of us don’t work at banks or financial institutions, which will have to grapple with its myriad provisions and the regulations to be issued thereunder, and we tend to toss out those disclosure forms our bank sends out. But Dodd-Frank may produce more problems than it solves. That is the thesis of David Skeel, professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, in his new book, “The New Financial Deal: Understanding the Dodd-Frank Act and Its (Unintended) Consequences.” Skeel does not find fault in Dodd-Frank’s effort to regulate derivatives — contracts in which one party agrees to pay another in case of changes in interest rates, currency exchange rates, oil prices or just about anything else — with provisions encouraging them to be conducted through clearinghouses. Derivatives were an obvious target for regulation, since it was derivatives based on the value of mortgage-backed securities that did much to trigger the collapse of Lehman Brothers and AIG in 2008. Skeel calls these Dodd-Frank derivative provisions “an unequivocal advance.” But he sees serious problems in what he describes as the two themes that emerge from the law’s 2,319 pages: “(1) government partnership with the largest financial institutions and (2) ad hoc interventions by regulators rather than a more predictable, rule-based response to crises.” The prime mover behind these policies, he argues, was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who as a junior Treasury official played a role in the bailout packages for the Mexican peso in 1994-95 and the hedge fund Long Term Capital Management in 1998. They’re his models for future regulation. As president of the New York Federal Reserve, he played a key role in fashioning responses to the financial crises of 2008. Dodd-Frank, Skeel argues, was written to give regulators powers they felt they lacked when they allowed Lehman Brothers to go into bankruptcy in September 2008. Lehman’s collapse, followed by the Bush administration’s demand for the $700 billion TARP legislation and especially its initial rejection (reversed four days later) in the House, led to staggering losses first in the stock market and then in the economy at large. Skeel is one of many who argue, persuasively in my view, that the real mistake here was not the failure to bail out Lehman but the apparently successful bailout of a smaller investment bank, Bear Stearns, in March 2008. The Bear bailout created expectations that the Federal Reserve and the Treasury would bail out every big financial institution — expectations strengthened when the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in August 2008 and AIG in early September. Lehman could and almost certainly would have sold itself out of trouble, Skeel argues, if its executives had not had such expectations. Dodd-Frank’s provisions requiring special treatment of the very largest financial institutions create similar expectations, Skeel says. And it enables those “too big to fail” institutions to borrow money at lower rates than smaller banks. Similarly, Fannie and Freddie — with their implicit government guarantee — were able to borrow cheaply and engage in the practices that brought them down, which has cost taxpayers $140 billion. Skeel is a specialist in bankruptcy law, and he argues that the relatively fixed rules of bankruptcy could better handle the breakdown of big financial institutions than the discretion Dodd-Frank gives to regulators. One reason Dodd-Frank is tilted against bankruptcy, he says, is congressional committee jurisdiction lines: Dodd-Frank was the product of banking committees, and bankruptcy is handled by the judiciary committees. Solutions? Skeel argues that small amendments could improve the law. Remove the special treatment for derivatives in bankruptcy. Allow investment banks to declare Chapter 11 bankruptcy without liquidation. A special panel of judges could be set up to handle financial firm bankruptcies. And, based on his criticism of the Chrysler and General Motors bankruptcies, he argues that bankrupt firms should not be able to sell assets without an auction allowing outsiders to bid. Not everyone will agree with Skeel’s analysis and recommendations. But they’re worth looking at. Michael Barone, senior political analyst for The Washington Examiner (www.washingtonexaminer.com), is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a Fox News Channel contributor and a co-author of The Almanac of American Politics. To find out more about Michael Barone, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM
Al Jazeera is coming to America — courtesy of former Vice President Al Gore and entrepreneur Joel Hyatt. The Arab network, funded by Qatar, has just bought Current TV — the low rated liberal cable station Gore and Hyatt founded — for a reported $500 million. The deal gives the anti-Israeli Arab network access to 40 million homes in the United States. Beyond bringing anti-Israeli propaganda into these new American outlets, Al Jazeera has a long record as the chosen news outlet for Al Qaeda and other terrorist cells. It was through them that Osama bin Laden would regularly post videos attacking the west and calling for renewed acts of terror. Having this network available in the U.S. might also afford terrorist groups a new method of communicating with one another. At the very least, it will help whip up enthusiasm among Islamic viewers in America for jihadist terrorism. Some fear that its message will actually cause an uptick in domestic terrorism. To its credit, Time Warner Cable announced that it will cancel its contract with Current. Some speculate that this is so it will not have to show Al Jazeera’s propaganda on its system. Their action keeps the station off 12.5 million homes. Thank you, Time Warner. Gore, who consistently postured himself as a friend of Israel, shows now how unreliable the “friends” of the Jewish state are when the chips — or the money — is down. It is estimated that Gore, who owns 20 percent of Current TV, will get $100 million for his share from the deal. Media reports indicate that the former VP was eager to close the deal before the higher income tax rates he supported kick in on Jan. 1, 2013. Indeed, it was the height of hypocrisy that Al Gore spoke warmly of Al Jazeera, saying its mission was similar to that of Current TV, giving a “voice to those who are not typically heard, to speak truth to power, to provide independent and diverse points of view and to tell the stories that no one else is telling.” Among these “diverse” points of view might be terrorists. Fox News reports indicate, “Al-Jazeera has been criticized for having a pro-Islamist bent and accused of working with members of Al Qaeda.” The reports also note, “One of its journalists was arrested in Israel in 2011 on suspicion of being an agent of the Palestinian group Hamas.” Not that Current TV is a world-beater. Its average prime time viewership is about 42,000 households. But it remains to be seen if the pro-Israel former Governor of New York, Eliot Spitzer, will continue with the network under the new management. And the Islamist bias of the new network might pose a problem for women’s rights advocates such as former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm, who also hosts a primetime show on Current TV. Thanks to “friends” of Israel like Gore and Hyatt, the Islamist movement has a new voice in the
Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., in the wake of the Newtown, Conn., shootings, said: “The British are not coming. … We don’t need all these guns to kill people.” Lewis’ vision, shared by many, represents a gross ignorance of why the framers of the Constitution gave us the Second Amendment. How about a few quotes from the period and you decide whether our Founding Fathers harbored a fear of foreign tyrants. Alexander Hamilton: “The best we can hope for concerning the people at large is that they be properly armed,” adding later, “If the representatives of the people betray their constituents, there is then no recourse left but in the exertion of that original right of self-defense which is paramount to all positive forms of government.” By the way, Hamilton is referring to what institution when he says “the representatives of the people”? James Madison: “(The Constitution preserves) the advantage of being armed, which the Americans possess over the people of almost every other nation … (where) the governments are afraid to trust the people with arms.” Thomas Jefferson: “What country can preserve its liberties if its rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms.” George Mason, author of the Virginia Bill of Rights, which inspired our Constitution’s Bill of Rights, said, “To disarm the people — that was the best and most effectual way to enslave them.” Rep. John Lewis and like-minded people might dismiss these thoughts by saying the founders were racist anyway. Here’s a more recent quote from a card-carrying liberal, the late Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey: “Certainly, one of the chief guarantees of freedom under any government, no matter how popular and respected, is the right of the citizen to keep and bear arms. … The right of the citizen to bear arms is just one guarantee against arbitrary government, one more safeguard against the tyranny which now appears remote in America but which historically has proven to be always possible.” I have many other Second Amendment references at https://econfaculty.gmu.edu/wew/quotes.html. How about a couple of quotations with which Rep. Lewis and others might agree? “Armas para que?” (translated: “Guns, for what?”) by Fidel Castro. There’s a more famous one: “The most foolish mistake we could possibly make would be to allow the subject races to possess arms. History shows that all conquerors who have allowed their subject races to carry arms have prepared their own downfall by so doing.” That was Adolf Hitler. Here’s the gun grabbers’ slippery-slope agenda, laid out by Nelson T. Shields, founder of Handgun Control Inc.: “We’re going to have to take this one step at a time, and the first step is necessarily — given the political realities — going to be very modest. … Right now, though, we’d be satisfied not with half a loaf but with a slice. Our ultimate goal — total control of handguns in the United States — is going to take time. … The final problem is to make the possession of all handguns and all handgun ammunition — except for the military, police, licensed security guards, licensed sporting clubs and licensed gun collectors — totally illegal” (The New Yorker, July 1976). There have been people who’ve ridiculed the protections afforded by the Second Amendment, asking what chance would citizens have against the military might of the U.S. government. Military might isn’t always the deciding factor. Our 1776 War of Independence was against the mightiest nation on the face of the earth — Great Britain. In Syria, the rebels are making life uncomfortable for the much-better-equipped Syrian regime. Today’s Americans are vastly better-armed than our founders, Warsaw Ghetto Jews and Syrian rebels. There are about 300 million privately held firearms owned by Americans. That’s nothing to sneeze at. And notice that the people who support gun control are the very people who want to control and dictate our lives.
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