Why Did the Early Colonists Come to America?

“The colonists came to America because they heard it was a free country. They came from neighborhoods that had problems,” says Nathan, age 7. I wonder if you’re thinking of Australia instead of America. “Early American colonists came to America for freedom, God and gold,” says Jenny, age unknown. Legends of gold cities lured some of the earliest Spanish conquistadors to the Americas, but Natalie, 12, says many early American colonists risked hardship and deprivation for religious freedom: “In their countries, it was illegal to practice religion the way they wanted to. They had to do what their leaders ordered. “This posed a problem since those beliefs were not their own. When they came to America, they established colonies where they could worship freely. The dream of freedom is what brought them to America.” Any view of America’s founding that omits the longing for spiritual freedom does not adequately explain why people left their homes for this new land. Question: In the four decades that preceded the signing of the Declaration of Independence, name the man who spoke to the most Americans: George Washington, Patrick Henry, Benjamin Franklin or Samuel Adams. None of the above. Have you ever heard of George Whitefield? I never had until I read about the Great Awakening, which Whitefield led on two continents (North America and Europe). Some church historians compare this spiritual awakening to the spread of the good news in the days of the early church when Jesus’ apostles took the Gospel to every corner of the Roman Empire. Whitefield, 22, began preaching the necessity of being born again by believing in Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation. Beginning with coal miners near Bristol, England, Whitefield took the message to the common people by preaching outdoors. As he preached, the crowds grew. On Sunday, March 25, 1739, it’s estimated that 23,000 people in Bristol heard Whitefield preach. When Whitefield came to America on the first of seven preaching tours, he preached from the courthouse steps in Philadelphia. Franklin became fascinated with the carrying power of Whitefield’s voice. He estimated that 30,000 people could hear him. Although Franklin resisted Whitefield’s public and personal urgings to become a Christian, he became a lifelong friend of the famous evangelist and even printed his sermons. From 1736 to 1770, Whitefield preached more than 18,000 sermons, averaging more than 10 a week. Dr. Rimas J. Orentas described the impact: “Through the universal experience of the Great Awakening, we began to realize that we were a nation. This national identity was rooted in the conviction that we were a people chosen by God for a specific purpose. “In the earliest prayer of the Puritans was the idea that their colony could be a city on a hill. Through the experience of the Great Awakening, the entire nation became a citadel of light in a darkened world.” The power of the Gospel hasn’t diminished, but its impact is often diluted by Christians who fail to share the good news with others and live out its implications in their lives. Can you imagine the result if every Christian in America told just one person a month about the saving power of Jesus? Being a light on a hill as a nation begins with individual Christians becoming lights at home, at work and in their communities. Don’t settle for letting your light shine for only an hour on Sunday morning. Live the adventure of taking the light of the Gospel into dark places, where it shines brightest. Listen to a talking book, download the “Kids Color Me Bible” for free, watch Kid TV Interviews and travel around the world by viewing the “Mission Explorers Streaming Video” at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted. To find out more about Carey Kinsolving and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CAREY KINSOLVING DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM <p

The Rushmore Report: Declaration of Independence

Declaration of Independence - The Rushmore ReportThe U.S. Declaration of Independence was signed on July 4, 1776 by 56 members of the Continental Congress. John Hancock got to sign first with his huge signature because he was the President of the Congress. It’s commonly believed that John Hancock said, “There, I guess King George will be able to read that!” when he signed, referring to the King’s bad vision, but there’s no actual proof that he really said that.

The youngest signer of the Declaration of Independence (Edward Rutledge of South Carolina) was only 26-years-old and the oldest (Benjamin Franklin of Pennsylvania) was 70-years-old. Two of the signers would go on to be Presidents of the United States. They were John Adams (the 2nd President from Massachusetts) and Thomas Jefferson (the 3rd President from Virginia).

Most of the members of the Continental Congress had notable achievement of their own but their connections to other famed historical characters were often almost unbelievable! One of the best examples of this is Benjamin Harrison. Besides his intense involvement in the development and execution on the American Revolution, Harrison also was the Governor of Virginia from 1781-1784. He went on after that to be elected to the Virginia State Legislature and rose to the Speaker of the House.

But the really interesting stuff about Harrison that is so common with many Continental Congress members is not his great personal achievements. Harrison’s son was William Henry Harrison, the ninth President of the United States, and his great-grandson, Benjamin Harrison VI, was the 23rd President! Harrison’s father was also an ancestor of civil war General Robert E. Lee. The fellow who succeeded Harrison as the Governor of Virginia was Patrick Henry, famed for his “Give me liberty or give me death” speech.

In any case, these wonderful characters from U.S. history have a nearly unlimited number of tantalizing stories that should make delightful reading for any history buff.

Below find a list of all 56 Continental Congress members who signed the Declaration of Independence:

Connecticut: Samuel Huntington, Roger Sherman, William Williams, Oliver Wolcott
Delaware: Thomas McKean, George Read, Caesar Rodney
Georgia: Button Gwinnett, Lyman Hall, George Walton
Maryland: Charles Carroll, Samuel Chase, William Paca, Thomas Stone
Massachusetts: John Adams, Samuel Adams, John Hancock, Elbridge Gerry, Robert Treat Paine
New Hampshire: Josiah Bartlett, Matthew Thornton, William Whipple
New Jersey: Abraham Clark, John Hart, Francis Hopkinson, Richard Stockton, John Witherspoon
New York: William Floyd, Francis Lewis, Philip Livingston, Lewis Morris
North Carolina: Joseph Hewes, William Hooper, John Penn
Pennsylvania: George Clymer, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Morris, John Morton, George Ross, Benjamin Rush, James Smith, George Taylor, James Wilson
Rhode Island: William Ellery, Stephen Hopkins
South Carolina: Thomas Heyward, Jr., Thomas Lynch, Jr., Arthur Middleton, Edward Rutledge
Virginia: Carter Braxton, Benjamin Harrison, Thomas Jefferson, Richard Henry Lee, Francis Lightfoot Lee, Thomas Nelson, Jr., George Wythe

The original Declaration of Independence is badly faded but it is on view in the Rotunda for the Charters of Freedom in Washington, DC. There are also twenty-four copies of the Declaration that were printed by John Dunlap and are known today as “Dunlap Broadsides”.

Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence in less than three weeks at the “Declaration House” located at 7th and Market Streets in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The house was nearly new, built in 1775 and was rebuilt from original photographs in 1975. Jefferson often complained about the numerous houseflies that were coming from the stable across the street but soothed his soul after work each day at the City Tavern where he had an account. Jefferson took pride in his writing abilities and wasn’t thrilled when the Continental Congress made changes to “his” declaration in June of 1776.

The common U.S. citizen did not get to see the Declaration of Independence until July 6, 1776, when it was printed in the Pennsylvania Evening Post. It was then officially read to the public on July 8th in Philadelphia.

By the way, despite what you saw in the exciting 2004 and 2007 National Treasure movies, there is no mysterious message on the back of the Declaration of Independence. The only thing written on the back is “Original Declaration of Independence / dated 4th July 1776.” It was originally rolled up for storage and that was most likely written on the back so it could be identified without unrolling it.

See more at: https://www.isnare.com/?aid=1313023&ca=Education#sthash.8lXsklAq.dpuf

The Rushmore Report: Why Do People Have to Die?


People die because “God wants more angels,” says Katie, 6.

Though some people act like angels and others like the devil, angels are angels and people are people.

With the exception of morticians, no one likes funerals. When we experience the loss of a friend or a loved one, it’s easy to forget that death is not part of God’s original plan.

“When Eve sinned and ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, God said, ‘Out of the dust you came, and back to the dust you will return,'” says Stephani, 11.

Don’t forget Adam. He ate, too.

Death for us does not mean we cease to exist. Death is separation from God. Most people associate death with the physical body, but death begins in our spirits.

Adam and Eve died spiritually before they died physically. The fellowship they once enjoyed with God was broken when they sinned.

Elizabeth, 12, says people die “because God has called them and wants to see them.” Or, as Kyle says, “so they can see God.”

According to Tiffany, 9, God might use some people as his eyes: “The reason people die is so we can go to heaven and watch over our loved ones.”

In the book of Revelation, there’s a snapshot of worship in heaven where 24 elders fall down before Jesus Christ with “golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).

Maybe these bowls contain the prayers of Christians on Earth as well as those already enjoying the bliss of heaven. Wouldn’t people in heaven have more incentive to pray for loved ones left behind?

Tiffany has more: “Another reason is so that we can be with Jesus. The reason Jesus stays in heaven is because if Jesus is earthly, then he can’t watch over everybody, but in heaven, he can.”

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples he was going away, but he promised he would not leave them alone. He said he would send the Helper, the Holy Spirit. Jesus would do far more than comfort through the Holy Spirit. He would dwell inside them and live his life through them.

“Earth is just a place for us to get ready for heaven,” says Ben. “Maybe some people are ready to go to heaven before others.”

How do you know if you’re ready to go?

Listen to Rainey, 10: “I really don’t know why some people die before others, but the important thing is not what age you are when you die. It’s whether Jesus lives in your heart. If he does, you’ll live with Jesus in heaven forever.”

Rainey wrote this only a few months before she and her sister, Lacey Lipscomb, 8, went home to be with their Lord in a train crash in Bourbonnais, Illinois, on March 15, 1999.

Ten-year-old Rainey and her sister didn’t expect to see Jesus so soon, but they were ready. They now know more than ever the importance of having trusted the Lord Jesus with their eternal destiny.

Think about this: None of the people who went to work at the World Trade Center or the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001, expected it to be their last day on Earth. The Bible is clear that today is the day of salvation.

Memorize this truth: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Ask this question: Is today your time?

Listen to a talking book, download the “Kids Color Me Bible” for free, watch Kid TV Interviews and travel around the world by viewing the “Mission Explorers Streaming Video” at www.KidsTalkAboutGod.org. Bible quotations are from the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted. To find out more about Carey Kinsolving and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.



The Rushmore Report: This Journey

Tomb of The Unknown Soldier - The Rushmore Report

On April 4, U.S. Marine Cpl. Brandon Garabrant updated his Facebook page as the 2nd Combat Engineer Battalion left North Carolina’s Camp Lejeune for Afghanistan.

“Going to do what we do best. Fighting for our country, (our) brothers to the left and right, our friends and families back home,” the Marine wrote. “So that you can have the right for freedom and to live the American dream without fear of anything.”

Corporal Garabrant was proud to be a Marine. Less than a year before going to war, the New Hampshire native made headlines when he told his Peterborough high school that he would wear his military uniform to graduation. Brandon eventually agreed to wear the standard cap and gown after the school denied his request, but even so, the young Marine’s point had been made.

“The United States Marine Corps is proud to have him amongst our ranks, but support the school’s decision to have (then-) Pfc. Garabrant walk across the stage in a cap and gown, as this is recognition of his accomplishments at ConVal (Regional High School) and the final chapter of his high school career,” a June 2013 statement said.

Ten months later, in the same April 4 Facebook post, Brandon was anxious to fulfill his duty as a Marine, even if it meant spending many months away from home.

“This is what I signed up for,” he wrote. “Here comes a long journey into the unknown.”

Twelve days later, Brandon posted an update from Afghanistan. Despite enduring a “pretty bad sinus headache,” he ended his post with a smiley face.

“I’m doing well and still going strong,” he wrote.

After another 12 days in Afghanistan’s Helmand Province, where so many have made the ultimate sacrifice since 9/11 (when Brandon was in elementary school), the Marine’s spirits seemed high.

“Thank you all for your support and helping me out with this deployment!” he wrote after asking friends if they could send some powdered coffee, Slim Jims and other care package items. “It means a lot and I thank you very much!”

On June 7, Brandon posted from Afghanistan’s Camp Leatherneck, where temperatures had reached 95 degrees. Five days later, highs were well above 100 degrees.

“The breeze makes it hotter,” he wrote while explaining brutal conditions inside the war zone. “As if your face was in front of the oven.”

Many Americans take air conditioning for granted, but for Brandon and his fellow Marines, it was a luxury.

“Thank God for A/C in our rooms,” he also wrote on June 12.

Eight days later, on June 20, Cpl. Brandon Garabrant, 19, was conducting combat operations in Helmand Province when he was killed alongside two fellow Marines, according to the Pentagon. Staff Sgt. David Stewart, 34, was from Stafford County, Va. Lance Cpl. Adam Wolff, 25, hailed from Ottumwa, Iowa.

In New Hampshire, where Brandon grew to pursue his dream of Marine Corps service, reaction to the tragic news came swiftly and from the very top.

“As a volunteer firefighter and dedicated Marine, (then-) Lance Cpl. Garabrant was committed to serving his fellow citizens, and he was tragically taken from us far too soon,” New Hampshire Gov. Maggie Hassan said in a statement posted on her website. “It is our responsibility as Granite Staters and Americans to come together to support his family and his community.”

I will be reaching out to this fallen hero’s family at an appropriate time to hopefully learn more about Brandon’s extraordinary life. Now is a time for grief, and as the governor expressed, unity and support.

How is our nation so blessed with young warriors like Cpl. Garabrant and the two Marines who made the ultimate sacrifice alongside him? Are we doing enough to make sure the incredible stories of these heroes live on in the hearts of our children and grandchildren?

When I look at my young daughter, I am enormously grateful to the troops, veterans and military families who’ve given her the privilege of growing up in a land of freedom and opportunity. At the same time, my heart aches for those enduring war’s incalculable sacrifices.

“May God be with us on this journey,” Cpl. Brandon Garabrant wrote on April 4.

Corporal Brandon Garabrant, 19, was among three U.S. Marines killed while conducting combat operations in Afghanistan’s Helmand province on June 20, according to the Department of Defense. Photo courtesy of Facebook/”In Memory of CPL Brandon Garabrant.”

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 atwww.creators.com.


The Rushmore Report: Mortgage Payments May Double!

Terry Savage - The Rushmore Report

Despite record-low interest rates, monthly mortgage payments may double for more than 1 million American homeowners. That’s because a decade ago they opted for “interest-only” loans or home equity lines of credit. But most of those loans were structured to reset after 10 years — at which time the loan would require payment of both principal and interest.

That’s what’s happening now. There is about $23 billion in home equity loans scheduled to reset this year, and in each of the next three years — all suddenly requiring the borrowers to pay principal, plus the ongoing interest payments, as the loan converts to a standard 15-year mortgage.

On a $100,000 HELOC with a 3.75 percent interest rate, the monthly payment (not including taxes and insurance) would jump by over $400 a monthly — from a current $300 to $715.

That is enough to truly dent a homeowner’s budget for other spending, and to put a crimp in the economy. And it will be disastrous to those who can’t afford higher payments.

Of course, the obvious answer is to start considering a refinance to a regular 15-year mortgage right now — while interest rates remain low. And if that is not affordable, then you might need to stretch the new loan to 20 or even 30 years to make the payments affordable — adding to your lifetime mortgage burden. If you qualify!

You’ll pay a lot more interest over the life of the loan if you add on more years after having paid interest for the past 10 years. But stretching out the loan now will likely be less of a burden than if you let the current mortgage adjust to include principal and interest payments.

For example, in Florida where so many of these interest-only loans were written, a $100,000 loan for 30 years fixed would pay a current interest rate of 4.31 percent, with a monthly payment of $492, according to Bankrate.com. That’s still a big jump from the current $300 on the interest-only loan. But it is less than the $715 monthly payment (see above) that would be required if the current loan converts to a standard 15-year loan.

The 30-year loan shown at Bankrate.com requires at least a 10 percent down payment (or 10 percent equity in the home if it is a refinance) and a good credit score. And that’s where the real problem comes in. Most people took interest-only loans or lines of credit at the peak values of the market! Even with the market rebound, there might not be enough equity in the home to refinance.

What to Do

Very few people gave thought to what would happen in 10 years when they took out those loans. At the time, the interest-only loans seemed so attractive and affordable. And it looked like real estate values would keep rising, creating the equity needed to refinance down the road. But now that we are at least six years into a stagnant, at best, housing market, these interest-only loans are like a time-release bomb — threatening to devastate homeowners.

Now is the time to face up to your problem — before the mortgage system is once again swamped with demand for refinancing these loans. If you do have some equity in your home and good credit, and you face this type of reset in the next year or two, contact a lender immediately. The current low in rates is a gift that is not likely to last long.

If you don’t qualify for a refinance, based on low home equity or being underwater or having a bad credit report, check into the Federal refinancing programs, especially HAMP. There is an excellent article on Bankrate.com, describing your alternatives: https://www.bankrate.com/finance/refinance/refinance-options-when-you-re-underwater-1.aspx

But as you can see, neither HAMP nor HARP has yet faced the issue of preventing defaults when a mortgage resets.

If you can sell your property now for enough money to pay off the mortgage, before the reset occurs and causes you to default on your payments, you will at least have maintained your credit rating. That could allow you to wait and buy a bargain if another wave of foreclosures occurs in the mortgage market as a result of these resets.

I know it’s not an attractive option to move your family out of a home that you can now afford based on interest-only payments. But if you get the opportunity to sell and get out from under this type of loan before it resets, you’ll be among the few who have flexibility in a buyer’s market.

It has taken a long time for the last of these chickens (call them turkeys) to come home to roost from the halcyon days of mortgage-lending excesses. But they will have a strong impact on the housing market in the next few years, and on the families that will face this hit on their finances. That’s The Savage Truth.

Terry Savage is a registered investment adviser and is on the board of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. She appears weekly on WMAQ-Channel 5’s 4:30 p.m. newscast, and can be reached at www.terrysavage.com. She is the author of the new book, “The New Savage Number: How Much Money Do You Really Need to Retire?” “Terry answers readers’ personal finance questions on her blog at www.TerrySavage.com. To find out more about Terry Savage and read her past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.



The Rushmore Report: It Don’t Matter

Zig Ziglar - The Rushmore Report

Years ago, I heard a speaker, whose name I have unfortunately forgotten, who worked the refrain “it don’t matter” throughout his entire talk. He did it humorously and effectively. It was a version of “don’t sweat the small stuff,” and it made sense because who will remember those petty difficulties a year or two down the road?

Many years ago, I heard someone say, “There is no limit to what we can do if we don’t worry about who gets the credit.” Unfortunately, in our world today, we still have many people who labor under the illusion that they’ve got to do everything because they can’t depend on anyone else to do it right. In his beautiful book, “The Great Lover’s Manifesto,” Dave Grant points out that the attitude, “If I don’t do it, it won’t be done right,” is a jealous, fear-filled attitude that keeps people stunted. The real issue may be “If I don’t do it, it won’t be done my way.”

That’s certainly a sobering thought and one that should give all of us pause to wonder, particularly the perfectionists in life who believe there are two ways to do anything: their way or the wrong way. These people, across the board, are generally frustrated and seldom end up developing and using their full potential. Perfection is hard to achieve. However, good effort and a sincere conviction that you’ve done your best are hallmarks of the big winners in life. I love the expression “Success is honest effort, fully expended, in quest of a worthy ideal.”

When you take that approach, the results will be so significant, you won’t need to worry about who gets the credit or if the effort was perfect or not. Don’t sweat the small stuff, and you’ll have something to smile about.

To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. Subscribe to Zig Ziglar’s free email newsletter through info@zigziglar.com.


The Rushmore Report: Politics of Poetry Deprives Young of their Heritage

Suzanne Fields - The Rushmore Report

The other day a teacher of a ninth-grade English class at an elite private school in the nation’s capital asked students who had transferred from public schools to list the poets they had studied. Several hands shot up, eager to tell. When one of them said “Langston Hughes,” the hands quickly went down. Langston Hughes, a distinguished black poet well worth reading, was nevertheless the only poet they knew.

Gone from their classrooms were the old staples, Samuel Coleridge’s “The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,” Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” These poems once were essential parts of a child’s poetic repertoire, learned before high school. Many public school students are cheated now by the politically correct, deprived of a sense of the sweep of poetry power that once made up the common cultural heritage.

Kids don’t get to dance with the daffodils, grow thirsty with “water, water, every where/Nor any drop to drink,” and read “Quoth the raven, ‘Nevermore.'” They never know the playful fun of teasing someone with big feet as having “longfellows.”

Help may be on the way. Last week James Billington, the librarian of Congress, named Charles Wright as the new poet laureate of the United States, a man who thinks poetry leads to thoughtful reflection, a scarce commodity indeed in contemporary Washington. Mr. Wright, a soft-spoken Southerner who keeps a lock of Robert E. Lee’s hair on his desk, is apolitical in a political world. He finds “the true purpose of poetry to be a contemplation of the divine — however you find it, or don’t find it.”

Such refreshing insights could usher in a new appreciation of language, reviving an interest in the importance of the precise word in the right place at the right time for those addicted to the idiomatic shortcuts of texting. This is particularly good news for conservatives since the use of precise language conserves what’s left of the best in a debased media culture where talk drives out the written word.

If the young have heard of Robert Frost, it’s only because they know he read one of his poems at John F. Kennedy’s inauguration, but they have no idea what he meant by “the road less traveled.” Few have heard of the romantic poets. Mention Shelley and teenagers think only of Mary — they’ve read about “Frankenstein,” but know none of her dead white husband’s odes.

Ray Bradbury’s novel “Fahrenheit 451” is science fiction, popular with young people, the cautionary tale of a society in the distant future that burns books (hence the title, the temperature at which paper spontaneously catches fire), but erasing classics from the curriculum erases them just as effectively, often replacing them with screeds about race and gender. Poets change from generation to generation, but the idea of sharing a common culture of poetry with a foundation of critical reading must remain. Poetry, whether from Chaucer, Shakespeare, Milton or others is on an endangered-species list in high schools and universities.

In the public square we debate the value of the Common Core to raise academic achievement and question whether tenure for public school teachers is unconstitutional, as a California Superior Court recently ruled, but we pay scant attention to the way we deprive children of fine poetry as a means to sharpen language, stimulate imaginations and memory, and bring rigor, vigor and discipline to their writing.

“Poetry was long ago shoved aside in schools,” writes William Logan, author of “Guilty Knowledge, Guilty Pleasure: The Dirty Art of Poetry,” in The New York Times. “A child taught to parse a sentence by (Emily) Dickinson would have no trouble understanding Donald Rumsfeld’s “known knowns and unknown unknowns.”

Shelley described poets as the “unacknowledged legislators of the world.” In Washington we deal with acknowledged legislators. News from the Middle East (nearly all of it bad) might be leavened by passages from Shelley’s “Ozymandias,” telling how the monument of the “king of kings” is reduced to two vast and trunkless legs of stone in the desert, surrounded by decay and “the lone and level sands stretch far away.” “The Second Coming” by William Butler Yeats certainly tells it like it is, where “the best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.”

“Without poetry there’s just talk,” Charles Wright, the new poet laureate, tells the Paris Review. “Talk is cheap and proves nothing. Poetry is dear and difficult to come by. But it poles us across the river and puts music in our ears. It moves us to contemplation.” Are we listening?

Write to Suzanne Fields at: suzannefields2000@gmail.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.


The Rushmore Report: Playing a Name Game with the Redskins

Ben Carson - The Rushmore Report

The audacity of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in canceling the trademark of the Washington Redskins is frightening. When the government is in charge of deciding what is offensive and what is not, and has the power to punish the “offenders,” we move further away from a free society and closer to a tyrannical nanny state.

We are not talking about a political issue that should have Democrats and Republicans coming down on different sides, but rather the fundamental freedom to express oneself, which is a part of the fabric of America. In the case of Dan Snyder, who owns the Redskins, he is being demonized for standing up for basic American principles. The team bore the same name when he purchased it in good faith. There was no indication at the time that subsequent demands for a name change would emerge, costing him millions of dollars in related expenses, not to mention lawsuits he might encounter by other businesses that could be injured by such a move.

There is no indication that many in the Native American community are upset after decades of the team’s prominent and proud display of its mascot and name. This appears to be yet another case of purposefully induced hypersensitivity, providing yet another opportunity for unnecessary heavy-handed government tactics to infringe upon the peaceful existence of Americans.

I have had the pleasure of meeting Snyder, who is far from the demonic characterization seen in the gullible press, which allows itself to be manipulated by those wishing to bring about fundamental change in America. I do not doubt for one minute that the Redskins organization would change the name tomorrow if it thought it was truly offensive to most Native Americans.

Also, the majority of American citizens are still decent people who would not only demand a name change, but would vote with their feet and purses in a way that would send a loud and convincing message — if they thought the name was offensive.

It appears that many have forgotten the power of free-market economic forces and instead have placed their trust in flawed government forces. Historically, individual freedoms vanish as government interventions increase.

Traditionally, sports teams choose mascots and names that bring them pride, rather than shame. There are numerous sports teams throughout the nation with colorful names and symbols, and they are not out to offend anyone. In a large, diverse society, it is likely that almost anything is offensive to someone. I suspect there are those who are offended by the fact that the Duke University basketball team is called the Blue Devils. Some would ridiculously opine that this nomenclature pays homage to the forces of evil. Should we cater to such foolishness, or should we grow up and focus on real issues, such as unacceptable rates of unemployment, terrorism, energy development, education, poverty, a stagnant economy, massive corruption, illegal immigration, growing national debt and many other things of greater importance?

We, the American people, must cease being distracted by peripheral issues and demand that our government officials focus their attention on the myriad problems that threaten to destroy our way of life. Like the ancient Romans, we are in danger of being distracted by relatively unimportant issues while our society crumbles beneath us. I challenge those who say I am exaggerating to a debate on this issue.

Many people equate political correctness with kind and compassionate speech. The two things are vastly different with very different purposes. Political correctness is meant to control thought patterns and speech content, creating unanimity and societal conformity, while kind and compassionate speech is meant to take into consideration the feelings and circumstances of others without compromising the truth. It is a much better alternative.

We need to be wary of those who attempt to convince groups of people that they should be offended by a word, phrase or symbol instead of concentrating on the real message being conveyed. These people remind me of the troublemakers in grade school who enjoyed watching the fallout from their devious ploys.

In today’s politically correct society, we are in danger of extinguishing interpersonal communications altogether for fear of offending someone. All of this would be comically absurd if it were not so tragic and such an immense departure from the vision of a free and prosperous society that was envisioned by our Founders.

Rather than concentrating on unanimity of thought and speech, we must concentrate on extracting the meaning of verbal communications. Examining every word or phrase for possible offense is beyond stupid. More importantly, it is divisive and destructive. We must outright reject those who try to manipulate emotions for their own political advantage. The Founders of our nation were concerned about what would happen if the populace became uninformed and refused to think for themselves. They feared the day when Americans could be easily led and manipulated, which would lead to a drastic alteration of our nation.

The power to stop the erosion of our values and to restore common sense and prosperity to our nation is in our own hands. We must shake off the passivity and vigilantly guard against manipulation.

Ben S. Carson is professor emeritus of neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins University and author of the new book “One Nation: What We Can All Do To Save America’s Future” (Sentinel). To find out more about Ben Carson and to read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.



The Rushmore Report: Furor About Plan for Illegal Kids

Phyllis Schlafly - The Rushmore Report

Obama administration officials trekked out to a tiny rural community in southern Virginia to teach the local yokels a thing about immigration policy. Yet the lessons learned were not by the local farmers but by the bureaucrats who got more than an earful in protests against placing illegal aliens in their small town of Lawrenceville.

“We will not be strong-armed by federal officials,” bellowed one resident at the town hall, a 32-year-old former Marine named Aaron Smith. “We will not be pushed around,” he exclaimed against the federal officials, as the crowd of townspeople gave him rousing applause.

Lawrenceville has only about 1,400 residents, and the town hall was held on June 19 in a spacious auditorium that seats 900. But even that large facility was not big enough to hold the outrage, as more than 1,000 angry people — nearly everyone in the town — showed up to express opposition to the Obama administration plan to relocate illegal immigrant children there.

The Obama administration thought it could quietly house 500 children, who had illegally crossed our border with Mexico, in a vacant college that had recently closed in this small town, but the politicians badly misread the depth of public opposition. Numerous federal officials were then sent by the Obama administration to appease the locals, but in the face of the uproar the officials felt compelled to apologize, one after another, for what they had done.

The apologies rang hollow. In typical government-speak, one official attributed the problem to “communication challenges” and acted like the miscommunication could be overcome with a bunch of talk. But there was no “communication challenge” in the numerous signs brought by town residents that shouted, “no illegal immigrants.”

Residents expressed concern about public safety and a possible increase in crime if so many kids were bought into the community without parental supervision. “The No. 1 concern we have is the potential for shenanigans and the potential for crime,” observed townsman Derek Lewis at a local pizza parlor.

Brunswick County Sheriff Brian Roberts was also candid, describing “fear” among locals about the way the government was handling this, adding that “500 kids unaccounted for — illegal alien children in my little sleepy town — I just don’t think it’s the right fit for this community.”

Another harebrained response by the Obama administration to the massive influx of illegal immigrant kids, roughly 100,000 in this year alone, is to promise to send more money to the Central American nations that are dumping their kids on us. President Barack Obama wants to send $161.5 million to the so-called Central American Regional Security Initiative and nearly $100 million to El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras — payments that will be additional incentives for them to permit more kids to show up at our southern border.

Instead of the United States rewarding nations for demanding that we provide free day care and medical care for their kids, shouldn’t we instead be sending those countries a big bill for the cost of return bus tickets to transport the kids back?

Only one person amid the numerous presidential hopefuls seems to be getting the message. That candidate is, lo and behold, Hillary Clinton, who is seizing the day and outflanking Republicans on this issue by being the first to call for a return of the tens of thousands of children back to their homes in Central America. The only other prominent leader to call for sending them back to where they came from is — surprise, surprise — Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.

The anemic reaction by Republican Party leadership is almost as pathetic as the swarming of children across our southern border. Euphemistically called unaccompanied children rather than illegal aliens, they are overwhelming Homeland Security and turning border patrol agents into nannies with diaper-changing responsibilities.

Back in Lawrenceville, the Obama administration officials promised that the 500 young illegal aliens would not be dumped on the small community without their approval. Really? Thousands of other young illegal aliens have already been relocated to Arizona and Oklahoma, despite criticisms by their governors.

Nobody seems to know who or where the parents of these children are, but we do know what the cause of the surge in illegal border crossings is. Promises of so-called immigration reform, with its allure of amnesty, inevitably bring more illegals wanting more of the same.

The tens of thousands of kids surging across our southern border are not unaccompanied; they may be carrying staph infections, chickenpox and scabies, which is a highly contagious skin disease that causes massive itching due to burrowing mites, plus diseases that the U.S. eradicated in our country years ago, such as tuberculosis, Chagas disease, dengue fever, hepatitis, malaria and measles.

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 phyllis@eagleforum.org. 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.


The Rushmore Report: Are the Two Political Parties About to Crack Up?

Michael Barone - The Rushmore Report

America’s two political parties seem to be coming apart.

That’s in contrast to the relatively stable competition of the last 20 years, when Democrats have won four of six presidential elections and Republicans won House majorities in eight of 10 congressional contests, always by less than landslide margins. The parties’ stands on issues have remained familiar from one cycle to the next.

That pattern seems likely to hold this year, with Republicans favored to hold their House majority, and with a better than 50 percent chance of gaining the Senate majority that eluded them in 2010 and 2012.

But the outlook for 2016 is murky, with a stale Hillary Clinton way ahead of other Democrats and a stable of Republicans closely clustered out of the starting gate with no clear leader or perceptible opening.

Congressional Democrats have been bucking the Obama administration on both right and left.

Senate Democrats rejected judicial nominees as insufficiently liberal. They blocked the nomination of an assistant attorney general nominee who supported the appeal of the murderer of a Philadelphia policeman and a surgeon general nominee who tweeted that “guns are a health care issue.”

Democratic Senate nominees have blasted the Obama EPA’s power plant regulations, and Arkansas incumbent Mark Pryor now refuses to say whether he’d vote for Obamacare again. Only Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s refusal to call up legislation or allow amendments has prevented other schisms from becoming visible.

Democratic disagreements have also been visible in Hillary Clinton’s book promotion tour.

As in 2008, she has apologized for supporting the 2002 Iraq war resolution, and she refused to say whether the Keystone XL pipeline should be approved, even though her State Department report found it environmentally unthreatening.

Clearly Clinton is catering to the antiwar left and to San Francisco hedge-fund billionaire Tom Steyer, who has pledged to spend $100 million to block Keystone.

As the world spins in disarray, she sometimes distances herself from the president she served for four years. She would have aided Syrian rebels, she says, and would not have dropped Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak so abruptly. She doesn’t quite agree with the Bowe Bergdahl deal.

But she also says the five released Taliban leaders pose no threat to the United States and defended National Security Agency data mining. She squirmed under ABC’s Diane Sawyer’s questions about Benghazi and NPR’s Terry Gross’ questions about her late conversion to favor same-sex marriage.

The latest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows 55 percent of voters consider her “knowledgeable and experienced,” but only 38 percent say she is “honest and straightforward,” while 40 percent say she’s not. Publishing-world gossip is that her current book’s sales lag well behind her 2003 memoir.

Certainly she’s not getting the adulation lavished on her in editor Tina Brown’s 2011 debut Newsweek cover story celebrating “how she’s shattering glass ceilings everywhere!” — a curious comment for the third female secretary of State. It’s hard to be the latest new thing when you’ve been a major public figure for 22 years.

If Clinton’s skittering performance illustrates the splits in the Democratic Party, those in the Republican Party have been glaringly apparent for some time.

Potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates have sharp differences on foreign policy generally, on drone strikes and NSA surveillance, on immigration.

They talk of repealing and replacing Obamacare, but don’t specifically say how, and present no common front on taxes or entitlements. They blame the sluggish economy, plausibly, on the Obama big-government policies but don’t seem anywhere close to proposing specific alternatives.

Republican primary voters have mostly been refraining from nominating dangerously provocative candidates. But their distrust of party leaders was apparent in the surprise defeat of House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

The perceived failure of Barack Obama’s policies is the backdrop here. Polls have shown majority disapproval for the 2009 stimulus package and Obamacare since Obama’s first year in office.

And the NBC/WSJ poll is only the latest to show majority disapproval on foreign policy — and was conducted before the news of collapse in Iraq was fully absorbed.

This has left Clinton with reason to distance herself from Obama even as many Democrats want to move further left. And it has left Republicans with no clear ideas on how to repair the damage at home and abroad.

It’s as if both parties are sailing in uncharted waters, with would-be leaders fighting for the tiller.

Michael Barone, senior political analyst at the Washington Examiner, (www.washingtonexaminer.com), where this article first appeared, 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 writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.