Amid all of the Christmas hustle and bustle, few people on Main Street stopped to notice that the December 23 Obamacare sign-up deadline had once again been extended for another day. Fewer still recoiled in horror at the abject lawlessness that this move represented. The reason for their apathy is simple to understand. It was only the latest example of behavior by the Obama regime that was properly characterized as “a long train of abuses and usurpations” in the Declaration of Independence. Americans have been outraged it, but are long past being surprised by it. From Barack Obama’s earliest days in the White House, the pattern of “governing” by edict has been established, and is rarely ever even questioned anymore. During the typical honeymoon phase of a new Administration, it became evident that the normal limitations on governmental activity codified by this nation’s founding document were going to be circumvented or otherwise ignored. Entire industries such as automobile production giant General Motors were essentially nationalized and Obama’s leftist minions were installed in the place of corporate CEOs in a manner fitting for North Korea and Venezuela, but never anticipated in the United States. Shareholders and bondholders were given short shrift while favored beneficiaries were granted enormous sums of taxpayer dollars. Since that time, the billions that the government poured into such misbegotten endeavors have not been truly repaid. Predictably, all corporate and governing parties (to the degree that any distinction exists) have instead engaged in the standard accounting shell-games as a ruse to claim that the “loans” have been squared. Meanwhile, over at the Department of Justice, daily business is being conducted according to the same ominous principles. Attorney General Eric Holder has flagrantly violated the law and his oath of office by selectively refusing to prosecute certain favored individuals, such as the “New Black Panthers” who clearly engaged in voter intimidation in Philadelphia on Election Day 2008. Allowing certain constituencies to thuggishly use threats and force to undermine democratic involvement of citizens constitutes a crime against the entire American system. Similarly, Holder has never come clean regarding his collaboration and cover up of the unresolved scandal of “Fast and Furious,” by which Mexican drug lords were supplied by our government with American guns. Despite the glaring evidence of such dangerous and criminal activity, he has never been brought to justice for either. Holder’s nefarious activity, Obama’s unwillingness to hold him accountable, and the ongoing incidents of extra-legal and extra-constitutional activity within the Executive Branch reveal an intention to force the leftist agenda on America whether or not it is liked or desired by the people. In speeches before selected groups of ideological sympathizers, Obama has even revealed his intentions to fundamentally remake the nation in this manner. Believing he can assume the mantle of virtue and noble intent, he promised to sidestep the legislative process and institute his statist utopia through underhanded means if Congress refused to rubber stamp his effort. In virtually all respects, Obama got exactly what he wanted from the Congress when Obamacare was signed into law in early 2010. Yet as has become ominously clear since that date, merely having his signature legislation on the books would not be enough to reinvent the nation as he planned. As the individual components of the monstrous law failed to be implemented per the legally specified timeline, he simply ignored milestones or arbitrarily modified the law by executive order. Far more dangerous than even this was his decision to fundamentally change the implementation schedule of Obamacare for strictly political purposes. Favored constituencies, which had delivered significant numbers of voters in 2008 and 2012, were exempted from the onerous costs of this not-so-affordable medical coverage. Others, such as congressional staffers, were just as arbitrarily given “subsidies” in order to offset the drastic increases in their cost of medical insurance. From the purely legal vantage, such payoffs essentially amount to bribes of those who might otherwise rethink their support of Obamacare and join the move to repeal it. In November of 2010, America voted overwhelmingly to replace many in Congress who had aided and abetted Obama’s takeover of the medical industry. This voter backlash is particularly significant since the anti-socialist tidal tsunami occurred before many of the worst aspects of Obamacare were even realized or understood by the general public. As the effects of the law are increasingly felt across the nation, the wide-ranging hatred of it has grown enormously, and it appears increasingly likely that such sentiments could spell disaster for Democrats in the 2014 mid-term elections. But rather than admitting to the problems and pursuing a “fix” (with the only correct one being total repeal), all activities of this administration are geared towards keeping as many people ignorant of the calamity they face until after the elections, at which point they will have lost their ability to take meaningful action against Obamacare. Nor does Obama have any sincere interest in dealing with the enormous unpopularity of the law. He instead opted to continue playing tricks with its implementation, clearly violating his oath of office in the process. Since the debacle of the Obamacare website ensued in October, he has advised insurance companies that they can ignore specific aspects of the law which they or their policy holders find most objectionable. And they have his promise that no action will be taken against them for such violations. Ignoring for the moment the obvious question of why anyone would see fit to trust this administration on any matter, it is noteworthy to consider the dangerous precedent of the nation’s chief executive seeking to get an unwieldy bureaucratic albatross back on track by allowing the insurance business to violate the law just as he has done. In essence, the 2300 pages of Obamacare text passed by Congress and signed by Barack Obama represent nothing. Instead, his sentiments on any given day are to be regarded as the necessary legalities with which to comply. It might seem excessive to invoke the word “dictator” at this point. However, any who doubt the legitimacy of that epithet should explain how his actions differ from those of a dictator. Too many Americans have been lulled into a dangerous trust of the nanny state. It was such people who naively believed that Obamacare would be a panacea for their medical needs and were perfectly willing to ignore the pattern of constitutional breaches while awaiting their “free healthcare” with blind and eager anticipation. And it is many of those same people who are now having to contend with the nightmare of overreaching government. Ultimately, the hardships suffered by Americans as the shadow of Obamacare falls across our nation are only a single facet of the evil it represents. It is the very manner in which it continues to be implemented that constitutes an even greater and longer-lasting outrage against our nation than the law itself. Christopher G. Adamo is a resident of southeastern Wyoming and has been involved in state and local politics for many years. He writes for several prominent conservative websites, and has written for regional and national magazines. He is currently the Chief Editorial Writer for The Proud Americans, an advocacy group for America’s seniors, and for all Americans. His contact information and article archives can be found at www.chrisadamo.com, and he can be followed on Twitter @CGAdamo.
‘Tis the season of the long holiday for toilers in the Groves of Academe. Learned professors of the American Studies Association (ASA), who recently adopted a call for a boycott of contact with Israel’s academic institutions, presumably to protest Israel’s "treatment" of Palestinians but perhaps because they just don’t like Jews very much, should take a break from grading papers, or partying with academics who think exactly as they do, and use the time to reflect on something important. One such topic should be why they single out the one democracy in the Middle East for criticism of its imperfection.
It’s not an academic question.
These academics teach interdisciplinary approaches to history, religion, literature and philosophy in the American culture, but many of them obviously missed their own critical study of intellectual history. How else to explain why they’re unable to distinguish between scholarly arguments and arguments extracted from their own attitudes, prejudices and uninformed opinions?
Perhaps they’ve been too busy researching scorn to heap on the United States for presentation in a learned paper at their next convention. The latest call for ASA "scholarship" is to provide papers on "The Fun and the Fury: New Dialectics of Pleasure and Pain in the Post-American Century." (You might want to wait for the movie, which is not likely to be coming soon to a theater in your neighborhood.)
It’s a long time since we’ve looked to tenured professors to guide moral thinking on anything, but this recent ASA resolution is political posturing of the worst order. Not even Mahmoud Abbas, the president of the Palestinian Authority, favors the boycott of Israeli professors, who actually teach a multicultural mix of students in their universities, including, in addition to Jews, Arabs, Palestinians, Ethiopians and exiles from despotic countries who are enjoying academic freedom for the first time.
For an organization devoted to cross-disciplinary study, the ASA boycotters might refresh their recollections with unpleasant anti-Semitic models of intellectual boycotts, such as Hitler’s order against patronizing Jewish businesses in Germany in the 1930s, or the Arab League’s boycott in the Middle East in 1948, when it still held high hopes of seeing the extermination of Israel.
It’s particularly bizarre for academicians to single out Israel to be the most imperfect of imperfect nations, because Israelis debate with each other, with a passion that would set off a rush to the fainting couches in almost any American university, such subjects as the treatment of the settlements, prospects for peace and the two-state solution. But the ASA academics are so accustomed to listening to each other compete to scorn America and Israel that outrages across the world never intrude on their intellectual isolation.
They share their prejudices and attitudes with colleagues on smart phones and laptops made in China, which imprisons dissenting academics who speak their minds. The Palestinian Authority does not allow discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in Palestinian schools and colleges. Iran executes dissenters, Russia imprisons outspoken feminists, neither gays nor women can be hired at a university in Saudi Arabia, and dissenters are treated brutally in Cuba. There’s rarely a peep from the faculty lounges about any of that.
The boycotters singled out only academic institutions in Israel, "whose universities have affirmative action programs for Palestinian students and who boast a higher level of academic freedom than almost any country in the world," writes Alan Dershowitz in Ha’aretz, the Israeli newspaper. Larry Summers, who was bounced as president of Harvard because he urged an honest discussion of why women often don’t do well in math, observes that boycotts that single out Israel are "anti-Semitic in their effect, if not necessarily in their intent." Prejudice is as prejudice does.
It doesn’t really matter whether anti-Semites see themselves as hating Jews; it’s how they manifest their prejudice and how others react that ultimately count. To their credit, many members of ASA have dissented from the boycott, along with academic institutions including the American Association of University Professors, and at least eight past presidents of the ASA, cutting across political persuasions.
Brandeis University and Penn State Harrisburg have dropped their ASA memberships. Michael Roth, president of Wesleyan University, urges his colleagues to reject this "phony progressivism" as dishonest and morally obtuse. Many professors worry that the prejudice inherent in the boycott will "stain" the reputation of scholars in American studies, an argument hard to refute. Henry Kissinger famously observed that "academic politics are so vicious precisely because the stakes are so small." The professors who voted to boycott academic contact with Israel expose their own vicious small-mindedness, which hurts them most of all.
Write to Suzanne Fields at: email@example.com. Suzanne Fields is currently working on a book that will revisit John Milton’s "Paradise Lost." To find out more about Suzanne Fields and read her past columns, visit the Creators webpage at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
The New York Times published an unintentionally humorous headline on Dec. 23: "When ’60 Minutes’ Checks Its Journalistic Skepticism at the Door." The Times media columnist David Carr is suddenly stunned that "60 Minutes" has aired a puff piece on a serious political matter.
In his article, Carr doesn’t breathe a word about Steve Kroft’s long history of servile interviews with President Barack Obama, the most recent one in January when, at the president’s request, he threw softballs at both Obama and Hillary Clinton. Carr’s never written about Kroft.
Carr sees "60 Minutes" as a "journalistic treasure" because it’s a rabble-rousing leftist outfit: "For more than four decades, the program has exposed CIA abuses, rogue military contractors and hundreds of corporate villains." So he was upset about the Dec. 15 "60 Minutes," which aired an interview with Gen. Keith Alexander, head of the National Security Agency. He wrote that "it was hard to watch the NSA segment and not wonder who was minding the store."
The interviewer in this case was CBS’s John Miller, who Carr suggested was too close to the subject: "Mr. Miller is a former high-ranking official in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence and a former spokesman of the FBI whose worldview is built on going after bad guys and keeping the rest of us safe."
This must be opposed to the worldview of The New York Times — which is based on being obsessively concerned with the civil liberties of the bad guys at the expense of our safety.
Any critic could watch the NSA segment and see it for what it is: a forum to allow the NSA boss to make his case for its surveillance programs. What’s wrong with that? If this is inappropriate, then why did Carr not condemn the Dec. 22 "60 Minutes," which carried a Lesley Stahl softball profile of national security adviser Susan Rice, who is our "whip-smart … quarterback of American foreign policy."
Stahl puffed up Rice and her "reputation" as an "idealist" who "ran into a Benghazi buzzsaw." Rice was "swept up into the dispute" over Benghazi. Rice the "idealist" didn’t lie on five Sunday news interviews. Stahl insisted "a former senior intelligence official told us that the talking point that the Benghazi attack was spontaneous was precisely what classified intelligence reports said at the time."
How in blazes is this less of a powder-puff presentation than Miller’s segment on the NSA? Miller pushed Alexander on how Edward Snowden could have stolen millions of secret documents: "This happened on your watch. A 20-something-year-old high school dropout contractor managed to walk out with, in essence, the crown jewels. Did you offer to resign about the Snowden incident?" The general said yes.
By contrast, Stahl accompanied Rice to her daughter’s Sunday soccer game (to underline portentously that she’s the first national security adviser to be a mom) before they ended with a brief bit on Benghazi. Rice fatuously announced, "I don’t have time to think about a false controversy."
Stahl could only ask, "But the questions keep coming. I mean, when someone heard that I was going to be talking to you, they said, ‘You have to ask her why Hillary Clinton didn’t do the interview that morning.’ Did she smell trouble?"
Rice said Clinton "had just gone through an incredibly painful and stressful week" because she "had to reach out to the families" and "greet the bodies upon their arrival at Andrews Air Force Base." When "60 Minutes" had a chance to ask Clinton why she skipped the Sunday shows, Kroft failed to do so. He only asked her sympathetically if she blamed herself for Benghazi.
Carr, like many liberals, thinks the list of CBS offenses began with its Oct. 27 Benghazi segment with Lara Logan, in which the network was fooled by Dylan Davies, who claimed to be an eyewitness on the scene of the consulate attack but wasn’t. This was a serious mistake, an error compounded by a bungled "eyewitness account" book deal Davies struck with Simon & Schuster, a corporate cousin of CBS (which it failed to disclose).
Even in the segments Carr hates — the Benghazi and NSA ones — Obama’s mostly absent. The name "Obama" was never uttered in the Benghazi segment, and this was its one mention by Miller: "Do you think (German) Chancellor Merkel hears President Obama’s calls?"
So why isn’t Carr upset about how Obama doesn’t matter, doesn’t seem to be president when things go dramatically wrong? Who is "minding the store" at CBS on holding Obama accountable? As with Kroft, Carr doesn’t care. Obama’s not the kind of "villain" that "60 Minutes" is supposed to hunt.
The left’s formula is simple. If it’s a "60 Minutes" investigative hit piece against a conservative, it’s journalism. If it’s a slobbering puff piece promoting a liberal, it’s journalism.
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
It’s no secret that most Americans are ignoring the war in Afghanistan. Some simply don’t care, while others aren’t even aware that thousands of U.S. troops are still serving there.
If you fall in that category, the point of this column is not to chastise you. It’s to give you six reasons to turn your attention back to a war that our brave men and women in uniform have been fighting since al-Qaida attacked our homeland on Sept. 11, 2001.
On Dec. 17, six American lives ended when a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter crashed in southeastern Afghanistan’s rugged Zabul province. On the same tragic day, the lives of six U.S. Army families, including five based at Fort Riley, Kan., were forever altered.
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Randy Billings, 34, of Heavener, Okla., served multiple overseas deployments, according to KJRH-TV in Tulsa, Okla.
"He really loved it," CWO 2 Billings’ uncle, Hurschel Billings, told the television station. "He couldn’t wait to go back."
Chief Warrant Officer 2 Joshua Silverman, 35, of Scottsdale, Ariz., traveled to Israel as a teenager, according to the St. Louis Jewish Light. Before and during his first deployment to Afghanistan, he inspired those around him with his sense of humor and commitment to service.
"He was never concerned with what was cool," Matthew Litwack, a friend of CWO 2 Silverman, told the newspaper’s editor, Ellen Futterman. "He did his own thing, and people gravitated around him."
The impact of losing Sgt. Chris Bohler, 29, of Willow Spring, N.C., can be felt by reading a two-sentence Facebook post by his mother, Deborah Bohler, on Dec. 18.
"At 5:30 this morning my heart shattered into a million pieces," she wrote. "Dear God give us strength to get through this pain."
According to Thomasi McDonald of the News & Observer in Raleigh, N.C., Sgt. Bohler preserved a family legacy of military service that goes back to his great-grandfather’s European combat tour in World War I.
"News like this brings it all home," Wake County, N.C., District Attorney Colon Willoughby told the newspaper. "Especially when it’s someone close to us."
Staff Sgt. Jesse Williams, 30, of Elkhart, Ind., last saw his six-year-old daughter, Madison, when he deployed to Afghanistan on Father’s Day, according to WSBT-TV in Mishawaka, Ind.
"He lived for Madison," Staff Sgt. Williams’ grieving mother, Debbie Passerallo, told the television station. "She was his little princess and she knew it."
Spc. Terry Gordon, 22, of Shubuta, Miss., graduated from high school in 2011. According to The Meridian Star, his former school and the surrounding community are in mourning.
"He was a great kid," Michael McDonald, principal of Quitman High School, told Brian Livingston. "His leadership and confidence was clearly evident."
To some, these cities and towns may seem like faraway places. With the war in Iraq over and the war in Afghanistan in its 13th year, you might think the days of being impacted by a post-9/11 conflict have long since passed.
The sixth soldier to die in the Dec. 17 helicopter crash was Sgt. 1st Class Omar Forde, 28, of Marietta, Ga., where I have lived for more than seven years. The soldier, who was stationed at Fort Riley with his wife and children, went to high school less than seven miles from my house.
According to Sgt. 1st Class Forde’s high school football coach, who spoke to the Marietta Daily Journal, the future soldier was a picture of integrity, even in his teenage years.
"He had a lot of class on and off the field," Scott Jones told the newspaper.
The harsh reality of this ongoing conflict just struck my town, and, someday soon, it could impact yours. But the real reason every American should be paying close attention to Afghanistan lies within the six stories above.
As Fort Riley’s commanding general reminded us in his statement honoring the six fallen heroes of the Dec. 17 crash, we owe our daily thoughts, prayers and appreciation not only to the warriors who bravely serve our country, but also to their courageous families.
"We stand ready to support them, and I urge our community and the nation, while remembering their sacrifices this holiday season, to do the same," Maj. Gen. Paul Funk II said.
An UH-60M Black Hawk helicopter from 2nd Battalion (Assault), Task Force Knighthawk, 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, makes its approach at Forward Operating Base Fenty in Logar Province, Afghanistan, Nov. 26. A second aircraft can be seen in the distance just above the mountains. Photo courtesy of Staff Sgt. Todd Pouliot
Tom Sileo is a nationally syndicated columnist and author of "BROTHERS FOREVER: The Enduring Bond Between a Marine and a Navy SEAL that Transcended Their Ultimate Sacrifice." Written with Col. Tom Manion (Ret.) and published by Da Capo Press, "BROTHERS FOREVER" will be released in Spring 2014. To find out more about Tom Sileo, or to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
I’m interrupting my series on Common Core State Standards for public schools to join the appeal to Iran and North Korea for the release of American hostages like imprisoned American pastor Saeed Abedini and missionary Kenneth Bae. And I’m also calling upon President Obama and Congress to step up their action, stand for religious freedom and fight for the release of these godly men, whose crimes were nothing more than exercising their faith.
For those who haven’t followed the news on these men of the cloth, pastor Abedini was sentenced to eight years by an Iranian court last January for starting house churches in the 2000s, an era in which they weren’t even regarded as a threat to Iran’s security.
This past week, Naghmeh Abedini, the wife of pastor Abedini, was in Washington appealing to Congress because President Obama severely dropped the ball by negotiating nuclear energy for Iran without seeking a simple reciprocating act of goodwill by the release of pastor Abedini and two other American hostages: former marine Amir Hekmati and patriot Robert Levinson.
The Obama administration also hasn’t done diddly to seek the release of Kenneth Bae in North Korea, a Christian missionary based in China. Bae gave tours into surrounding countries but in November 2012 was arrested by North Korean officials and found guilty of "’hostile acts’ and attempts to topple the government," according to CNN.
Bae was sentenced to 15 years hard labor and "recently became the longest known American detainee in North Korea since the end of the Korean War," according to International Christian Concern and persecution.org.
What value or use is it if America embodies freedom and liberty, yet its government does nothing to fight for its imprisoned freedom fighters around the world?
The fact is that doing nothing to release U.S. citizens imprisoned abroad not only drives the dagger deeper into their and their families’ hearts, but it emboldens crooked and controlling governments around the world and cripples America’s future generations. It defers and heaps a greater burden upon our posterity to fight for America’s freedoms and even enjoy risk-free travel in the world.
Speaking of touring other countries, my wife Gena and I were overjoyed to hear about our granddaughters recent journeys abroad. Our granddaughter Chantz just returned from a 10-day trip to China, where she was given the opportunity to experience another culture and practice her skills at speaking Mandarin Chinese, which she has studied for the last four years. (Not too bad for a 13-year-old!) And our other precious granddaughter Hannah will be making her third trip to India over Christmas to do missionary work, which she started as a junior in high school.
All of the actions of those mentioned in this article wouldn’t be possible without our patriot predecessors securing America’s freedoms and our place in the world. And the similar actions of those in the future will become progressively restricted if we don’t stand up now for those same liberties, especially when they imprison our very citizens in foreign lands.
Edmund Burke was right; "Evil flourishes when good men do nothing."
Well, if our present government won’t fight for ours and others’ freedom, then America must call up its most mighty reserves and real power: We, the people. We must embolden and equip our families and our younger generations to be ambassadors of freedom and faith.
Do you remember our young friends, twin brothers Brett & Alex Harris? They are the ones from whom we first heard about the powerful personage of Gov. Mike Huckabee. They have been on the frontlines of battle for the Millennials since their teens. I spoke about them extensively in the chapter "Calling all Millennials" in my New York Times bestseller, "Black Belt Patriotism."
Brett and Alex are now 25 years old, married, and their book, "Do Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low Expectations," has sold nearly 450,000 copies and been translated into over a dozen languages. Their website, TheRebelution.com, was completely redesigned in May of 2012 and continues to reach tens of thousands of young people each month. And their social media presence has grown to over 43,000 followers and continues to come up with fresh ways to reach teenagers with the challenge. Check out this latest post on their Facebook page to read about a 13-year-old who could change the way you view all 13-year-olds.
The Harris brothers’ book would make an exceptional Christmas gift for young people. I would humbly consider pairing it with another humor-based outreach book that could empower youth, too: my own "Official Chuck Norris Fact Book," which includes many inspirational stories on faith and freedom for future generations. Or an even better option might be my good friend and prolific author Randy Alcorn’s brand new graphic novel (extended comic book) titled, "Eternity." It’s a perfect gift for the young people in your life.
To empower and transform young people, please also look into the amazing missions of Gena’s and my foundations KickStartKids, Young Americans for Liberty and Rachel’s Challenge. Together, we can start a chain reaction!
Friends, if we are ever to change the course of our country and world, it will be by supporting and uniting behind young people like these who can and will restore and lead America into a brighter and better future.
Speaking of children born for positions of destiny, let us all humbly remember — especially at this time of the year — what I, Gena and all who were mentioned in this article, believe fully in our hearts. That the real solutions for our world, our country, our families and ourselves will not be ushered in through government or even human potential. But the cures for society and our souls will come ultimately only through our reuniting with the Child, whose birth we celebrate on Christmas and through whom real hope and change comes.
About him, the Bible says,
For to us a child is born,/
to us a son is given,/
and the government will be on his shoulders./
And he will be called/Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,/
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace: Isaiah 9:6
Don’t miss my Christmas article next week, "The Case for Christmas," in which I’ll explain the rationale or reason in the reason for the season. It’s definitely one you might want to forward as a "Christmas card from Chuck Norris"!
Follow Chuck Norris through his official social media sites, on Twitter @chucknorris and Facebook’s "Official Chuck Norris Page." He blogs at https://chucknorrisnews.blogspot.com. To find out more about Chuck Norris and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CHUCK NORRIS
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Consider this: Taylor Swift wasn’t even born yet when the fight over the Mount Soledad cross began. How much longer will it drag on? Disgruntled atheists first filed suit over the memorial at a veterans park in San Diego in the summer of 1989. The fringe grievance-mongers have clung bitterly to their litigious activities for nearly a quarter-century. It’s time to let go and bring peace to the city.
The historic 43-foot cross has stood atop Mount Soledad on public land since 1954. The Mount Soledad Memorial Association erected the monument to commemorate the sacrifice of American soldiers who died in the Korean War, World War I and World War II. The cross has long carried meaning for the city’s residents far beyond religious symbolism. "It’s a symbol of coming of age and of remembrance," Pastor Mark Slomka of the Mount Soledad Presbyterian Church said years ago when the case erupted. The San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board explained that the cross is "much like the Mission San Diego de Alcala and the cross at Presidio Park, both of which also are rooted in Christianity but have come to signify the birth of San Diego."
I first started covering the case as an editorial writer at the Los Angeles Daily News in the early 1990s. A federal judge initially ruled that the landmark cross’s presence violated the California constitution’s church-state separation principles. The city of San Diego put the issue before voters, who overwhelmingly approved a practical solution in 2005: Sell the cross and the park to the veterans group for use in a national war memorial.
A pragmatic, tolerant resolution with 76 percent of voters’ support? Heavens, no! The extreme secularists couldn’t have that. They sued and sued and sued and sued. By 2007, the state Supreme Court — affirmed by a state appellate court — had rejected the atheists’ campaign. The courts affirmed the constitutionality of the San Diego referendum (Proposition A) and the sale of the cross to the Mount Soledad Memorial Association. The American Civil Liberties Union intervened to suppress and "de-publish" the ruling as a way to prevent its use in future litigation. They lost.
Lawyers for the Thomas More Law Center, which represented the memorial association, were relieved: "This decision protects the will of the people and their desire to preserve a historical veterans memorial for future generations." They’ve fought hard to remind America that the Founding Fathers fought for freedom of religion, not freedom from religion.
But still the cross-hunters press on. Fast-forward to Christmas week 2013. U.S. District Court Judge Larry Burns, who earlier had ruled in support of the cross, was forced to rule that it must come down in 90 days in the wake of a liberal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision overturning his prior decision. In anticipation of new appeals, Burns stayed the order. All eyes are on the U.S. Supreme Court, which refused to hear the case last summer.
Rabbi Ben Kamin, who lives in Southern California, responded sensibly to the hysteria of the Mount Soledad cross-hunters who claimed to be irreparably "hurt" by the monument: "After six decades, and hundreds of thousands of visitors, cyclists, hikers, thoughtful folks who simply admire the inspiring vista of land, sky and ocean, the Cross remains simply a beacon, a marker and a landmark." Kamin wrote that he "once lived adjacent to the site, and it did not bother me then, and it does not bother, offend or intimidate me now. I remain much more concerned about the glaring mercantilism that has by now drained all the fall/winter holidays, from Thanksgiving to Hanukkah to Christmas, of any dignity or theological poetry."
Amen to that. Militant atheists won’t rest until every last expression of faith is eradicated from the public square. They don’t stand for reason or religious liberty. They are vengeful purveyors of cruciphobia. The everlasting good news, of course, is that in the end, hope will triumph over hate. Faith will outlast fear. And God’s love will prevail long after physical crosses have fallen.
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
Politicians can be progressives, liberals, conservatives, Democrats or Republicans, and right-wingers. They just can’t be dumb. The American people will never elect them to office. Let’s look at it.
For years, I used to blame politicians for our economic and social mess. That changed during the 1980s as a result of several lunches with Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., which produced an epiphany of sorts.
At the time, I had written several columns highly critical of farm subsidies and handouts. Helms agreed, saying something should be done. Then he asked me whether I could tell him how he could vote against them and remain a senator from North Carolina. He said that if he voted against them, North Carolinians would vote him out of office and replace him with somebody probably worse. My epiphany came when I asked myself whether it was reasonable to expect a politician to commit what he considered to be political suicide — in a word, be dumb.
The Office of Management and Budget calculates that more than 40 percent of federal spending is for entitlements for the elderly in the forms of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, housing and other assistance programs. Total entitlement spending comes to about 62 percent of federal spending. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that entitlement spending will consume all federal tax revenue by 2048.
Only a dumb politician would argue that something must be done immediately about the main components of entitlement spending: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Senior citizens indignantly would tell him that what they’re receiving are not entitlements. It’s their money that Congress put aside for them. They would attack any politician who told them that the only way they get Social Security and Medicare money is through taxes levied on current workers. The smart politician would go along with these people’s vision that Social Security and Medicare are their money that the government was holding for them. The dumb politician, who is truthful about Social Security and Medicare and their devastating impact on our nation’s future, would be run out of office.
Social Security and Medicare are by no means the only sources of unsustainable congressional spending. There are billions upon billions in handouts going to farmers, corporations, poor people and thousands of federal programs that have no constitutional basis whatsoever. But a smart politician reasons that if Congress enables one group of Americans to live at the expense of another American, then in fairness, what possible argument can be made for not giving that same right to other groups of Americans? Making a constitutional and moral argument against the growth of handouts would qualify as dumb.
Let’s examine some statements of past Americans whom we’ve mistakenly called great but would be deemed both heartless and dumb if they were around today. In 1794, James Madison, the father of our Constitution, irate over a $15,000 congressional appropriation to assist some French refugees, said, "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents." He added, "Charity is no part of the legislative duty of the government."
In 1854, President Franklin Pierce vetoed a bill intended to help the mentally ill, saying, "I cannot find any authority in the Constitution for public charity" … and to approve such spending "would be contrary to the letter and the spirit of the Constitution and subversive to the whole theory upon which the Union of these States is founded."
Grover Cleveland vetoed hundreds of congressional spending bills during his two terms as president in the late 1800s. His often stated veto message was, "I can find no warrant for such an appropriation in the Constitution."
If these men were around today, making similar statements, Americans would hold them in contempt and disqualify them from office. That’s a sad commentary on how we’ve trashed our Constitution.
Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University. To find out more about Walter E. Williams and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2013 CREATORS.COM
Let’s assess the winners and losers in American culture for 2013. Our first obvious winner is "Duck Dynasty" and its Phil Robertson. He’s a winner for standing by his Christian principles after some offensive remarks about homosexuality.
A&E suspended him and put out the usual statement that they are "champions" of the gay agenda — and proceeded to start running "Duck Dynasty" marathons. Mark Steyn put it just right: The gay-left blacklisters insist "espousing conventional Christian morality, even off air, is incompatible with American celebrity." Robertson has successfully shattered intolerance of the anti-Christian left.
Winner: Universal Pictures, for "Despicable Me 2." This cartoon feature came in third at the box office ($367 million) in 2013, beaten only by two other much-anticipated sequels, "Iron Man 3" and the second "Hunger Games" film. But in December, it shattered records for DVD sales of an animated picture, grossing an amazing $80 million in its first week of release. The previous record was held by … the first "Despicable Me." There were three animated family films in the top 10 hits, with G-rated "Monsters University" in fifth ($263 million) and "Frozen" in 10th ($204 million after five weeks and climbing).
Loser: Universal Pictures, for "Kick-Ass 2." The ultraviolent first installment, which features the 12-year-old "Hit Girl implausibly killing tons of villains at a time," grossed $48 million at the box office, a figure that shouldn’t inspire a sequel. The second edition grossed only $28 million. Entertainment Weekly found the immoral thrill of actress Chloe Grace Moretz killing and swearing like a sailor had vanished. At 16, she "can’t manufacture the same that’s-so-wrong jolt she managed the first time around. Back then, it was hilariously taboo to see a little girl spout arias of profanity." Boston Globe film critic Ty Burr nailed it: "Kick-Ass 2 is a special kind of crap: the kind smart people make for audiences they think are stupid."
Winner: Rockstar Games, the makers of the video game "Grand Theft Auto 5," which smashed six world sales records, including the highest revenue generated by an entertainment product in 24 hours and the fastest entertainment property to gross a billion dollars. It sold over 11 million copies in its first 24 hours and hit a billion in sales within three days.
Loser: "Grand Theft Auto 5" is a perfect example of the amoral and ultraviolent products that are never, ever advertised as such. Chris Suellentrop of The New York Times, fan of the game, explains that the latest version is "still an action game about hoodlums and thieves; we start with an extended bout of cop killing and proceed to a series of increasingly ambitious heists." There are three villains you can choose to become, like "Trevor, an oddly lovable psychopathic meth dealer and gun runner." This is not "Breaking Bad," a series aimed at an adult audience. This is a game bought by children.
Winner: Melissa McCarthy. This comic actress led the year’s highest-grossing R-rated movie, "The Heat" (alongside Sandra Bullock), bringing in almost $160 million, and "Identity Thief," which grossed over $134 million. It is unfortunate that her humor needs to be laced with so many profanities (they counted 269 in "The Heat") the ratings cops felt forced to give it an R.
Loser: Miley Cyrus. The former star of Disney’s "Hannah Montana" turned 20 and became the star of a series of MTV-promoted outrages. Her antics are a grotesque perversion of her former innocence. She is disgusting.
Speaking of losers, Cher told USA today she would have supported Cyrus is she’d come out naked and performed well, but "It just wasn’t done well. She can’t dance, her body looked like hell, the song wasn’t great." She seemed to miss the point. Cyrus went viral precisely because her performance was an ugly train wreck.
Loser: "The Fifth Estate." Disney executives bit on this picture glorifying leftist WikiLeaks creep Julian Assange. It cost $28 million to make and grossed only $3.2 million. How bad was it? Its opening grossed only $1.7 million from 1,769 theaters — the worst opening of the year for a movie showing in more than 1,500 theaters. Maybe this will save us from Hollywood following its "progressive" heart and making an Edward Snowden-glorifying "The Fifth Estate 2."
Loser: Robert Reich. He’s no Al Gore or Michael Moore in the documentary sweepstakes. His socialist lecture/film "Inequality for All" grossed only $1.19 million, despite Reich calling it an "’Inconvenient Truth’ for the economy" and touting that it won an award at a film festival in Traverse City, Mich. Reich told The Boston Globe: "This is the last hurrah. If this doesn’t educate the public, I give up."
Was that a threat or a promise?
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
Christmastime is an occasion for families to come together. But the family is not what it used to be, as my former American Enterprise Institute colleague Nick Schulz argues in his short AEI book "Home Economics: The Consequences of Changing Family Structure."
It’s a subject that many people are uncomfortable with. "Everyone either is or knows and has a deep personal connection to someone who is divorced, cohabiting, or gay," Schulz writes. "Great numbers of people simply want to avoid awkward talk of what are seen as primarily personal issues or issues of individual morality."
Nonetheless, it is an uncomfortable truth that children of divorce and children with unmarried parents tend to do much worse in life than children of two-parent families. (I’ll leave aside the sensitive issue of children of same-sex marriages, since these haven’t existed in a non-stigmatized atmosphere long enough to produce measurable results.)
As Schulz points out, that uncomfortable truth is not controversial among social scientists. It is affirmed by undoubted liberals such as Harvard’s David Ellwood and Christopher Jencks.
Growing up outside a two-parent family means not just lower incomes and less social mobility, Schulz argues. It also reduces human capital — "the knowledge, education, habits, willpower — all the internal stuff that is largely intangible a person has that helps produce an income."
While children are born with certain innate capacities, those capacities can be broadened or narrowed by their upbringing. The numbers indicate that single or divorced parents — however caring and dedicated — are unable, on average, to broaden those capacities as much as married parents can.
These differences have sharp implications for upward mobility. Schulz points to an Economic Mobility Project analysis showing that, among children who start off in the bottom third of the income distribution, only 26 percent with divorced parents move up, compared to 42 percent born to unmarried mothers (who may marry later, of course) and 50 percent who grow up with two married parents.
All this matters more than it used to because two-parent families are much more uncommon than they used to be. In 1960 about three-fourths of Americans 18 and over were married. In 2011, less than half were.
One reason is that people are getting married later in life. Back in 1959, one of the last years of the Baby Boom, most American women got married before they turned 21.
In the last half-century, the age of first marriage has crept upward. In 1970, only 11 percent of men and 7 percent of women age 30 to 34 had never been married. In 2008, the corresponding figures were 37 percent of men and 28 percent of women.
In 1970, only 12 percent of Americans age 35 to 44 were unmarried. In 2009, 33 percent were.
Many see increased divorce as the explanation for this change. True, divorce rates spiked upward in the 1970s. But they peaked in the 1980s. Most of the change represents people not getting married at all.
In 1965, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, then-assistant labor secretary, won fame — and vicious criticism — for his report lamenting that 24 percent of black births were to unmarried mothers. By 2009, that rate had risen to 72 percent — and the rate of unmarried births to all American mothers was 41 percent.
These changes have not affected all social classes uniformly. In his 2012 book "Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010," my AEI colleague Charles Murray showed that rates of divorce and single parenthood among college-educated whites, after increasing in the 1970s, are almost down to 1960s levels.
But among low-education, low-income whites, as well as blacks and Hispanics, family disintegration has become the norm.
Will these trends go on forever? Not necessarily. Schulz looks back to the 1950s, years of unusually high marriage rates. Go back further, to the years around 1900, and Americans were marrying later and larger percentages than today never married at all.
Increasing affluence and changing mores reinforced by universal media such as movies and television helped produce the midcentury America with well-nigh universal married parenthood.
People learn from experience. In surveys, children of divorce express disapproval of divorce — and the decline in divorce rates since the 1980s suggests they divorce less often than their parents’ generation.
So it’s at least possible that those most familiar with the ill effects of family disintegration will choose in their own lives to take a different course.
COPYRIGHT 2013 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER
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During the holiday season, many reflect on finding the right balance in their lives. As a nation, we’re in a season of searching for the right balance between individual freedoms and the role of government.
The clearest indication that things are out of balance nationally is that the median household income in our capital city is 73 percent higher than it is in America. This reality was reflected and exaggerated in "The Hunger Games," where the capital city lived in lavish excess at the expense of those living horribly in the outlying districts. While the movie presents an extreme example of the problem, five of the nation’s wealthiest counties now surround the capital.
In America today, the median household income is $51,017. In Washington, it’s $88,233. This places the Washington, D.C. market second only to Silicon Valley. But Silicon Valley earns its wealth by producing amazing and innovative products that make life better and more convenient for hundreds of millions of people.
Washington’s wealth comes from a far less productive reality. The business of the city is nothing more than trading favors and influence. Silicon Valley earns its wealth by serving others. In Washington, the opposite expectation exists.
According to the Washington Post, its hometown "has been the beneficiary of a decade-long, taxpayer-funded stimulus package." Federal spending in the capital region — funded by those of us in outlying areas — soared from $29 billion in 2000 to $75 billion last year. One small congressional district on the outskirts of D.C. received nearly as much federal funding as all 36 districts in the state of Texas.
The corporate competition for these dollars has become so absurd that one political scientist published a study titled "The Business of America is Lobbying." This may be the way Washington sees it, but in most of America, lobbyists are viewed as less ethical than even Congress.
The unfortunate reality is that the Washington household income is $37,000 higher than the rest of the nation’s solely because the federal government is too powerful.
On the bright side, this gives us a great way to measure progress toward the goal of reducing the excessive power of the federal government. We will know proper balance has been restored when this $37,000 gap is eliminated and the median income in Washington matches the median income in America.
This is a much more comprehensive goal than simply focusing on federal spending. During former President Ronald Reagan’s time in the White House, the federal government consistently spent about 22 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, and it is projected to do the same next year.
Despite this consistent level of spending, however, the federal government is far more powerful today than ever before. Reasonable estimates suggest that the federal government directly controlled just over 27 percent of the nation’s economy in the 1960s. Today, thanks to the growth of regulation and crony capitalism, this figure has grown to 55 percent or even higher.
Focusing on the excessive income in D.C. does not tell us how to fight crony capitalism and find the right balance between the role of government and individual freedom. But it is a valuable tool for measuring our progress. If the income gap grows, we’re becoming more like "The Hunger Games." If the gap closes, we’re getting closer to the American dream.
To find out more about Scott Rasmussen, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.
COPYRIGHT 2013 SCOTT RASMUSSEN
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