The Rushmore Report: Bill Maher vs. Chris Hayes

Brent Bozell - The Rushmore Report

Bill Maher is no one’s idea of a disinterested scholar on religion. He’s long been the loudest, most obnoxious barroom brawler for atheism. What makes his argument toxic is that it isn’t an intellectual defense of atheism. It is a sophomoric, boorish attack on religion, wholly dependent on yuk-yuk lines. These attacks have drawn little attention of late, perhaps because he’s so predictable, but in the last few weeks, Maher has drawn new attention for singling out Islam as the worst of all them all. He almost sounded pro-Christian (by comparison) in a surprisingly contentious PBS interview with Charlie Rose wherein he slammed militant Islam.

Then he fought with Ben Affleck on his HBO show on Oct. 3. Suddenly the liberal media discovered Maher’s argument … and rushed to side with Affleck.

Affleck thought attacking Islam was “gross and racist.” He yelled at Maher about “more than a billion people who aren’t fanatical, who don’t punish women, who just wanna go to school, and eat sandwiches, pray five times a day, and don’t do any of the things you saying of all Muslims! It’s stereotyping!”

“CBS this Morning” co-host Gayle King thought Affleck raised “some really good points.” On “The View,” Rosie O’Donnell wanted “Affleck for President!”

MSNBC was loaded with praise. Chris Matthews declared, “I’m with Affleck because knocking someone’s religion is the way to start or escalate a fight. It’s no way to cool one.” Krystal Ball said “I have such a liberal crush now on Ben Affleck. I thought he was so amazing throughout that show, and so strong there.”

Guest-hosting “The Ed Show,” professor Michael Eric Dyson lamented this “patron saint of liberals,” Maher, was sounding like a racist. “Do you see a parallel between the kind of bigotry that was, you know, used to explore black identity on the one hand, and the way in which Islamophobia has operated in this country?”

But the silliest Affleck advocate was MSNBC “All In” host Chris Hayes, who took a remarkably inarticulate junior-high-level movie-star argument and made it worse.

“First of all, the definition of Muslims as people who just want to go to the store, eat sandwiches and pray five times a day is basically perfect and can’t be improved upon,” announced Hayes. “Second of all, put me down on the Ben Affleck camp of this, strongly. I would think that to suggest that what is happening in the most extreme form in some Muslim countries as representative of the views of all Muslims is gross and racist.”

Notice that Hayes claims to know what is representative of Muslim views without consulting a single poll, which Maher keeps doing. Maher cites a Pew Research Center poll done in the Middle East in 2010, in which 82 percent of Egyptian Muslims supported stoning as a punishment for adultery and 84 percent supported the death penalty for leaving the Muslim religion. In Pakistan, those two punishments drew 82 and 76 percent support (respectively) from Muslims. In Jordan, it was 70 and 86 percent.

Hayes added it’s “also gross” that on Maher’s show “These are five non-Muslim guys sitting around talking about what the Muslims think.” Please stop and roll around on the floor laughing. Unless Hayes routinely has been “All In” with having conservatives (especially conservative Christians) on routinely, unlike the rest of the liberal pundits at MSNBC, how is he any different?

Hayes finished the segment by doubling down on this odd lecture: “It turns out, as a general rule, that asking people to explain what they believe, and why, is a whole lot more enlightening than speculating about their beliefs as if they’re not in the room.”

Oh the hypocrisy. Let the record show that Maher has insulted Christians, especially Catholics, far worse than this, and done so openly and consistently for years and never have Chris Hayes, Michael Eric Dyson, Krystal Ball, Rosie O’Donnell or Chris Matthews complained.

L. Brent Bozell III is the president of the Media Research Center. Tim Graham is director of media analysis at the Media Research Center and executive editor of the blog NewsBusters.org. To find out more about Brent Bozell III and Tim Graham, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: The Savage Truth on Money – Little Things Count

Terry Savage - The Rushmore Report

What little things do you do to pinch pennies and avoid unnecessary spending? Perhaps you take the bus instead of a cab. Or perhaps you walk instead of taking the bus! Do you bring your lunch to work instead of buying it? Do you avoid pricey coffee shops and the lattes they offer in favor of the maybe free, or certainly less expensive, cup at the office?

Everyone has a penny-pinching pet peeve, and you’re invited to add some comments at the end of this column. But whether you’re a millionaire who insists on flying coach instead of first class, or whether you cut the end off the toothpaste or tube to get the last drop of product, you probably have your own ways of saving money.

One of the most obvious everyday money hacks is your use of the ATM and your checking account. If you pay attention to the costs, you can save a small fortune in fees and charges — money that could go into savings or paying down your debt. So you get a double benefit from your actions, not only saving money but using those savings to improve your finances.

ATM Fees

Would you walk around the block to get to your own bank’s ATM — even if it is raining? If you’re willing to take a few extra steps or drive a few blocks out of the way, you could save a small fortune on a regular basis. The combination of fees charged by both your own bank and the ATM owner really add up.

A new survey by Bankrate Inc says the average fee for using an out-of-network ATM is now $4.35 per transaction! That charge has increased every year, growing 5 percent over the past year, and up 23 percent over the past five years!

If you live in Phoenix, you’re paying the nation’s highest average fee — $4.96 per out-of-network transaction — followed closely by Denver, San Diego, Houston and Milwaukee, which each average more than $4.65. But every institution in the Bankrate survey charges non-customers for usage, with the most common fee being $3.00.

This kind of fee is money down the drain. And you can easily avoid it. If you find yourself making too many out-of-network transactions, you might even consider switching your checking account to an institution that has more ATM’s in more convenient locations.

And never make a cash withdrawal for just a few dollars if you have to pay a fee. Remember, this is a “flat fee” — not a percentage of your withdrawal. So, if you simply must get cash, make it a significant amount. It still costs you money out of pocket, but it’s a far smaller percentage of the withdrawal!

Overdraft Fees

The second easily avoidable fee is the overdraft fee — something that banks count on for their profits! The Bankrate survey reports that the average overdraft fee set a new record high for the 16th consecutive year: It is now $32.74 for each overdraft!

Not being able to subtract your balances is no longer an excuse for overdrafting — as you can easily go online to check your balance before paying a bill, or ask for a balance at the ATM before making a withdrawal. If you have automatic bill payment, you need to keep enough money in your balance to avoid those fees.

Having an “overdraft” line of credit at the bank is not really the answer. Yes, they’ll extend that privilege — but at a cost. There is likely to be a fee of at least $15 per transaction for dipping into the overdraft, which is then put on a credit card account that charges very high interest rates if you don’t pay it off immediately.

Checking Account Fees

The third category of unnecessary fees is the monthly fee for your checking account. Most are easily avoided if you opt for direct deposit of your paycheck or keep a minimum balance required by the terms of the account, or if you have other accounts with the bank, such as an IRA CD.

There are two types of checking accounts, with different fee structures. Those that don’t pay interest on the balances have an average monthly service fee of $5.26, according to Bankrate.com. But interest-bearing accounts have average monthly service fees of $14.76. Since interest paid on balances is so low, you might want to switch to a non-interest checking account. (The average minimum balance required to avoid fees on an interest-bearing account is $6,211 in the Bankrate survey.)

But many financial institutions still offer free checking — and the competition is getting so crowded now that Wal-Mart plans to offer this type of product. So it pays to check around for the best checking deal.

Better to Pay Attention, than to Pay Fees

Paying a lot of small fees adds up. Or better yet, it is all money down the drain. Those fees and charges make your money disappear as quickly as a grande non-fat latte. And you don’t even get a moment’s pleasure from the money spent!

To search for the lowest-cost bank products, the most ATM’s and the best credit cards, just go to Bankrate.com and compare with the fees you’ve paid over the past few months. Changing money habits can help — but changing financial institutions is empowering.

They think you’ll keep paying without paying attention. We can prove them wrong. 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.

COPYRIGHT 2014 TERRY SAVAGE PRODUCTIONS

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The Rushmore Report: It Looks Like a GOP Wave; the Question is How Far it Goes

Michael Barone - The Rushmore Report

Republicans seem to be pulling away in the race to win a majority in the U.S. Senate. At least this week.

In mid-September, several polls seemed to be going the other way. The well-informed Washington Post analyst Chris Cillizza wrote that for the first time in this election cycle, odds favored the Democrats keeping their majority.

Two weeks later, he was singing another tune. Analysts at the Post, the New York Times and FiveThirtyEight, in addition to psephologists Charlie Cook, Stuart Rothenberg and Larry Sabato, all agreed.

What may have happened is this: Over the summer, Democrats used their money advantage to savage Republican opponents. When spending got equalized in September, Republicans’ numbers rose.

So Republicans retain big leads to pick up three open seats in states carried by Mitt Romney —West Virginia, Montana and South Dakota. Republican nominees have moved ahead of three Democratic incumbents in Romney states (Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana) and in two target states carried by President Obama (Colorado and Iowa).

Only in North Carolina, which Romney narrowly carried, has the Republican not yet overtaken the incumbent Democrat Sen. Kay Hagan — and her edge is narrowing in the most recent polls.

Psephologists used to have a rule that incumbents running below 50 percent against lesser-known challengers would inevitably lose. Everyone knows them, the logic went, and half aren’t voting for them.

That rule doesn’t seem to apply anymore, but perhaps another one does. The RealClearPolitics average of recent polls puts Democratic incumbents in these five states at 41 to 44 percent of the vote.

In seriously contested races in the last six Senate cycles, starting with 2002, only two incumbents polling at that level in September ended up winning. One was appointed to an open seat and thus probably not widely known. Both ended up with less than 50 percent and won by plurality.

Psephological rules are made to be broken, sooner or later. Polls can fluctuate. Events or campaigning can change attitudes. Democrats now trailing might win Republican seats in Kentucky or Georgia. Or the former Democrat running as an Independent in Kansas could win and cast the deciding vote for Democrats. There are ways they can hold their Senate majority. But most likely they won’t.

That should settle the ongoing argument in psephological circles about whether this is a “wave” year. Some argued that since Republicans were expected to gain only a few seats in the House — something the insiders pretty much agree on — and since they were by no means certain of winning a Senate majority, it might not be a wave at all.

But it depends on what your benchmark is. In 2012, Republicans won 234 House seats — the second most they’ve won since 1946, just behind the 242 in 2010. Expecting them to gain anything like the 63 seats they did in 2010 or the 52 in 1994 was always unrealistic.

As for Senate elections, the Republicans entered this cycle down 55 to 45. It’s noteworthy when well-informed analysts give a party a better-than-even chance of making a net gain of six Senate seats, as they have throughout this cycle. I can’t remember consensus predictions of six-Senate-seat gains in 1974, 1980, 1994 or 2006 — all now regarded as wave years.

All of which is to say that focusing too closely on fluctuations in the polls risks losing sight of the bigger picture. Rewind back five years: The Obama Democrats expected their major policies to be popular.

They expected that most voters would be grateful for the stimulus package, for Obamacare, for raising the tax rate on high earners. They aren’t.

Democrats expected that running for re-election they’d be running ads touting these genuine accomplishments. They aren’t. Instead, you get personal attacks on Republican nominees and oldie-but-supposedly-goodie reprises of the “war on women” theme.

Out in Colorado, about half of Democrat Mark Udall’s TV spots have been on abortion. Even liberal commentators are questioning whether that’s smart. But maybe the Udall consultants sitting around the table can’t come up with anything better.

Early in the 2010 cycle, Barack Obama told an Arkansas House Democrat that he needn’t worry about voters because “you’ve got me.” Today, all four Arkansas House seats are held by Republicans. Democratic Senate candidates in multiple states have been shunning Obama campaign appearances.

We’re watching a wave come in. We just can’t be sure how far it goes.

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.

COPYRIGHT 2014 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER

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The Rushmore Report: Silicon Valley Stands up to NSA

Scott Rasmussen - The Rushmore Report

It’s been a year and a half since Edward Snowden revealed to the world just how much private information the National Security Agency has been collecting on just about everyone. The massive spying operation raised privacy and Constitutional concerns and set off alarms with reports that some employees had used the system to keep tabs on their love interests.

Sadly, but not surprisingly, the government has done little to reform the program and reassure the public. Even relatively weak legislation that fails to address core concerns has stalled in Congress.

Action has come, however, from Silicon Valley. The new Apple iPhone 6 includes an encryption program that could take years to break. Even more important, Apple won’t have access to the password. That way, it will be impossible for government officials to pressure the digital giant to violate their customer’s privacy.

The importance of that protection was recently revealed in court documents showing that government officials threatened Yahoo! with a $250,000 daily fine if they didn’t turn over user data to the NSA. The fine was set to double every week.

Public demand for action on privacy issues led Google to quickly announce that it, too, would offer smartphone users additional protection. The Washington Post notes that this “is part of a broad shift by American technology companies to make their products more resistant to government snooping.”

Many government officials are aghast at the notion that a private company would offer such privacy protections to consumers. The head of the FBI suggested it might prevent officials from finding a kidnapped child. Others raise concerns about terrorists.

A number of security experts dismiss those concerns, particularly because the agencies can access so much other information. But discussing only the law enforcement angle misses the larger point. The privacy issue is not just about catching bad guys; it’s about the threat to good guys as well.

Seen from that perspective, the cost of giving government agencies easy access to everyone’s smartphone data is extraordinarily high. Smartphones carry all the details of our daily lives in the form of pictures, texts, contact lists, emails and more. That includes fond memories and great moments, but embarrassing gaffes and painful mistakes are also recorded.

In the wrong hands, such information could be used for a variety of nefarious purposes. To grasp the potential harm, your imagination doesn’t have to stretch beyond those NSA officials spying on love interests and ex-spouses.

In fact, it’s easy to imagine that giving government agencies unrestricted access to the digital lives of more than 300 million Americans would lead to far more crimes being committed than solved.

Seen from that perspective, the iPhone 6 is providing a valuable public service.

This entire episode highlights an often overlooked part of the public policy debate in America. Change does not come from political leaders or the political process. It comes from popular culture and technology. Politicians lag behind. By the time any NSA reform legislation passes Congress, technology advances will have already addressed the key issues.

In the case of the privacy debate, those key issues eventually come back to what kind of society we want to live in.

To find out more about Scott Rasmussen, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 SCOTT RASMUSSEN

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The Rushmore Report: Keep Ebola Out of America

Ben Carson - The Rushmore Report

As the Ebola infection rate and death toll continue to rise rapidly on the African continent, many of us have become complacent with the measures we have taken to protect Americans from this deadly disease.

Other nations, such as England, have gone so far as to ban flights emanating from the affected regions of Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and various infectious-disease specialists have done a yeoman’s job in their efforts to prevent infected individuals in our country from contaminating others. They have put excellent protocols in place that would virtually guarantee complete safety. Unfortunately, all of those valiant efforts cannot preclude human error, which remains an ever-present danger, regardless of intellect.

For this reason, I and many others are not comfortable with the idea of bringing infected individuals into our midst when we can readily treat them elsewhere and happily receive them back once the infectious danger has passed.

When one does a logical benefit-to-risk analysis, it is clear that the worst things that could happen by intentionally bringing this dangerous disease to America are far worse than the best things that could happen. Some say if we bring infected individuals here, it will accelerate research endeavors and a potential cure or effective vaccination. Others say not bringing infected citizens back demonstrates an insensitivity toward wonderful people who risk their lives for others. I am sympathetic to these arguments, and if we did not have safer alternatives, they would convince me.

Perhaps we should be concentrating on stopping the spread of Ebola in Africa and eradicating it from Earth. Like the war on terrorism, we should fight it elsewhere to decrease the likelihood of needing to fight it here. African lives are every bit as valuable as lives in America or anywhere else, and this humanitarian crisis has enormous health implications for the whole world. If, as some officials say, bringing infected individuals back here expedites the acquisition of knowledge that could lead to a cure, as all components of the disease could be more carefully studied, why not transport more researchers and facilities to the heart of the epidemic and dramatically accelerate the process?

I have no desire to induce panic, but we must realize that some viruses are known to undergo mutations that make them even more virulent. If the Ebola virus becomes even more pathologic, the ensuing panic and destruction of human life could go far beyond what is currently being acknowledged. This means there is some urgency to getting the outbreak in Africa under control.

The point is, this is an extremely dangerous disease with the potential to spread throughout several African countries and, subsequently, into other parts of the world, including the United States. Most crises prompt warnings, which, if heeded and acted upon, can avert disaster. On the other hand, if arrogance and mistakes characterize the response, horrendous results are likely to ensue.

If we stop trying to prove we are right — whatever our opinions are — and instead concentrate our efforts on halting the spread of the disease where it is concentrated and finding a cure, perhaps we could avert needless panic and death throughout Africa, America and the world.

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.

COPYRIGHT 2014 THE WASHINGTON TIMES

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The Rushmore Report: God, Woman and Free Speech at Yale

Suzanne Fields - The Rushmore Report

Airliners that routinely complete their flights, like a dog that bites a man, naturally get no headlines. A flight must crash and burn to get attention, like the man who bites a dog. It’s controversy that sells tickets, particularly on campus.

When Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the brave human-rights activist and a native of Somalia, spoke at Yale last week, 300 students turned out to listen. Others were turned away because security was so tight. The sponsors were almost apologetic because there was no controversy.

This is how free speech can work on a campus with bold academic leadership behind it. Academics think the campus is a stronghold of free speech, but that’s often not true. Yale’s new president, Peter Salovey, not only talks the talk but also walks the walk. If only he could be the pacesetter.

In his welcoming remarks to the Class of ’18, he talked about how important “freedom of expression” is to everyone and how it’s often under threat on the American campus. Over the last two years, on certain campuses, the freedom to express ideas has been in peril, with invitations to provocative speakers withdrawn under pressure. He named no names, but he, like many of us, might have been thinking of Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her experience at Brandeis, where she was to receive an honorary degree and address the graduating class. When Muslim students protested, the president of Brandeis, one Frederick Lawrence, quickly caved. Her experience at Yale is instructive — and encouraging — by comparison.

The Brandeis president is a former civil rights lawyer, and he talked the talk but ran away like a frightened rabbit. This is a man who once wrote that, “if free speech should flourish anywhere, it is within the hall of a university.” That sounds brave indeed, but intimidation by children suggests cowardice. The intimidation by the Muslim students, supported by some sympathetic professors, was organized and abetted behind the scenes by the Council on American Islamic Relations, which called Miss Hirsi Ali a “notorious Islamaphobe.”

The New Criterion, the conservative journal of cultural criticism, observes that well-meaning and politically naive people think CAIR is the innocent equivalent of the Knights of Columbus or B’nai B’rith, but columnist Andrew McCarthy of National Review accurately describes it as an “Islamic supremacist organization masquerading as a civil rights group.”

Some might give the president of Brandeis a pass as a naif, but his naifhood smells like spineless mendacity when he hides behind ignorance as defense for cancelling Miss Hirsi Ali’s invitation to his campus. The university says “we were not aware of Ms. Hirsi Ali’s record of anti-Islam statements.” But her criticism of Islamic suppression of women has been widely reported in the public prints.

Ignorance is the last refuge of scholars, to paraphrase Dr. Johnson, but Miss Hirsi Ali’s observation sounds closer to the mark: “They simply wanted me to be silenced.”

Several weeks before Miss Hirsi Ali was scheduled to speak, Yale’s Muslim Students Association tried to persuade their new president to follow the ignoble example of Brandeis. The students pressured the sponsoring group to disinvite her, and when that didn’t work they said if she must be allowed to speak it must not be about Islam, or another speaker should be hired to contradict her. Failing all that, they circulated an open letter signed by several student groups. Some of the signatures were apparently forged.

The Muslim students said Miss Hirsi Ali, author of several books on Islam, didn’t “hold the credentials” to address an audience on the issue of Islam. They dismissed her genital mutilation, by a relative when she was a young girl, as merely “an unfortunate circumstance. “

Perhaps the fatwa against her could qualify as a credential. Or the brutal murder of a colleague might count. The bullet-riddled body of Theo van Gogh of Amsterdam, with whom she worked on a film critical of Islam’s treatment of women, came with a note attached, threatening Miss Hirsi Ali with a similar death. The title of their movie was “Submission,” which she says is the core mandate behind Islam. She refuses to submit.

The organization that invited her to Yale is named for the late William F. Buckley, whose book, “God and Man at Yale,” helped ignite the conservative movement. The president of Yale guaranteed their speaker her free speech and provided security for her. Yale thus trumped Brandeis. But Ayaan Hirsi Ali deserves the last word to challenge the Muslim students. She asked them why they want to prevent her speaking about the victims of Islamic injustice, when they should be asking questions of those perpetuating the injustice. A good question.

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.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: Democrats Will Pay the Price for Obama in November

David Limbaugh - The Rushmore Report

Democrats are panicking, and rightly so. Going into the November congressional elections, voter opposition to Obama is worse than it was for George W. Bush and for Bill Clinton at their respective six-year marks, and Democrats can’t unyoke themselves from him.

It’s not just that Gallup’s latest polls show Obama’s policies are unpopular but that voters are planning to make a statement to that effect in November. Since 1998, Gallup has included a question to determine whether the voters are intending to use their vote to “send a message” that they either support or oppose the sitting president.

Gallup found that 32 percent of voters want their vote to communicate their opposition to Obama, whereas only 20 percent want it to reflect their support for him. This is the highest such “no vote” for a sitting president in the past 16 years.

There is good reason for these poll responses. They are based not on personal animus but on the fact that Democrats have wholly supported President Obama throughout and that a vote for them will mean a vote for continuing with Obama’s agenda, his lack of leadership and incompetence on both the domestic front and the foreign front, and his general untrustworthiness.

Americans can’t help but notice that Obama has consistently placed his ideology and political interests above the national interests and routinely resorted to partisan sniping and scapegoating instead of accepting responsibility (and accountability) for his decisions and considering a change of course. More disturbingly, voters must notice that Obama’s words are increasingly unreliable and that he expects them to believe his version of reality over the reality itself.

His response to a question from a steel plant manager at a town hall meeting last week in Indiana concerning rising health care costs was particularly revealing.

The man said: “We are seeing almost a double-digit increase (in) health care costs every year. … Do you think that trend’s going to go down, and what can we do to control that trend?”

Obama replied, “The question is whether you guys are shopping effectively enough, because it turns out that this year — and in fact over the course of the last four years — premiums have gone up at the slowest rate in 50 years.” Then Obama assured the gentleman that he would put him in contact with health care people. “I’ll bet we can get you a better deal,” he said.

Obama’s response was troubling in several ways. It was another example of his unwillingness to concede that his policies have caused problems. Here, he even denied there is a problem at all. He rejected out of hand the man’s premise that his health care costs are rising, though the man himself has personally experienced them and most of the nation realizes this is not just anecdotal but true mostly throughout the nation. He even implied that it was this man’s fault for not looking hard enough for a good deal.

In addition — and this may even be worse — Obama acted as if he were some plant manager and not the president of the United States, whose duties apparently now include micromanaging specific health care choices for hundreds of millions of Americans. He actually told the guy he’d help him get a better deal. And this is not the only time Obama has played this role — acting as though it’s his duty to personally administer such matters. It’s no wonder so many people believed, early in his term, that Obama would pay their mortgages. How can a president be so radically confused about his job description — or pretend to be?

This bizarre pattern of behavior can’t be lost on the voters. Not long ago, Obama insisted that it had not been his decision to precipitously withdraw our troops from Iraq, a decision that left the vacuum that has allowed the Islamic State to run wild and gobble up swaths of real estate. He blamed it on the Iraqi regime when the truth is that he sabotaged any status of forces agreement that would have involved retaining enough of our troops to make a difference. This is objectively undeniable (ask former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta), yet Obama looks us straight in the face and denies it.

Obama and his administration assure us that Ebola isn’t a threat to America or Americans, yet — here we are. He tells us that his policies are growing the economy “from the middle out,” yet we see, under his policies, that median household income is stagnating.

The list is endless. Obama habitually tells the American people that conditions are as he promised they would be rather than as they really are. He expects us to believe things are rosy when they’re anything but, and, in any event, he eschews responsibility for any problems, as if he’s a bystander.

Have we ever had a president so out of touch and so fundamentally dishonest about the impact of his policies? I don’t think so, and I’m betting the voters will show they agree with me in November.

David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is “Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.” Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM

The Rushmore Report: Thank You

American Troops in Afghanistan

The sight of a fallen hero’s flag-draped casket returning to American soil. The sound of a grieving loved one’s anguish. The indelible memory of meeting a young man or woman who lost one or more limbs on the battlefield.

Since February 2011, when my first newspaper column was released, these devastating moments have echoed through every facet of my life. The last three and a half years have been difficult and emotional, but what I’ve endured is nothing compared to what a U.S. service member, veteran or military family sacrifices on a daily basis.

The Americans I’ve met and spoken to while writing this weekly column are some of the most extraordinary people on the planet. They are brave, selfless, and strong. They are husbands, wives, dads, moms, brothers and sisters. They are, without a doubt, the best our nation can offer to a troubled world that is in dire need of America’s leadership and compassion.

Even though I had worked at CNN and blogged about the military before launching this column, I came into this effort with little understanding of the Armed Forces. I knew our troops were courageous, but didn’t realize just how much is required of service members and their families. I knew that families of the fallen suffered, but failed to grasp that for them, the war will never end.

I knew that many combat veterans came home from war with harrowing memories, but didn’t have a handle on what witnessing the evil of America’s enemies could do to a young man or woman. I knew that suicide in the military was a problem, but couldn’t have possibly understood its gravity before speaking to family members suffering from the permanent grief and confusion of a loved one taking their own life.

In short, I knew almost nothing about military life. I started writing the column because I thought that millions of Americans probably felt the same way: They respected our Armed Forces, but didn’t fully comprehend the depth of the military community’s sacrifice.

Less than 1 percent of Americans serve in uniform. While many of my relatives served in previous wars, I only knew one person who had deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan before I started interviewing troops and veterans. My guess is that many people reading this column have a similar connection, or lack thereof, to the America’s post-9/11 conflicts.

It is absolutely critical that every single one of us makes a concerted effort to learn more about the men and women who protect us. We can’t help solve the many challenges that our heroes face if we have no understanding of their sacrifices.

Whether it’s been a story about a fallen hero, veteran or service member, I hope this column has given you a better appreciation of this new Greatest Generation, as some now rightfully refer to our nation’s volunteer warriors. For me, the way I look at our military will never be the same. Our men and women in uniform are even more heroic than I thought they were.

My daughter is 3 years old. Someday, I will ask her to read the stories of the men and women who stepped forward to defend our nation after it was attacked. Rather than trying to follow in the footsteps of so-called celebrities, I hope she will grow up wanting to be like our nation’s real stars: those who are willing to fight for freedom.

A new career opportunity is forcing me to end this column. From the bottom of my heart, thank you to Creators Syndicate and my editor, Simone Slykhous, for your graciousness and guidance. Thank you to each newspaper for running these weekly stories, and to you for reading them.

Most of all, thank you to the troops, veterans and military families who trusted me to help tell your incredible stories. I am in awe of your kindness, integrity, and valor.

I conclude this journey with a quote from “Brothers Forever,” which I co-authored with the father of a fallen Marine. The short passage was written to describe thousands of headstones at Arlington National Cemetery, where so many American heroes rest.

“There is no inscription to define the meaning of their sacrifice. That mission is ours.”

American troops gather in Kandahar, Afghanistan, before a Nov. 12, 2009, mission. Nearly five years later, thousands of U.S. forces are still serving on the nation’s first post-9/11 battlefield. Photo courtesy of Pfc. David Hauk.

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 2014 CREATORS.COM

It’s Not Unnatural for Republicans to Want the President Protected

“Even opposition lawmakers who have spent the last six years fighting his every initiative have expressed deep worry for his security.” So wrote the New York Times’ Peter Baker in the lead paragraph of a story on the congressional hearing on the Secret Service. Baker is an excellent reporter and a good writer, and so it’s useful to consider the implications of his framing of the story. And let’s leave aside his hyperbole about Republicans opposition “every initiative” — some presidential initiatives are uncontroversial and widely supported — and look at that word “even.” Contained within that word and in the snarky tone of the story is the assumption that if you are politically opposed to a president, you won’t mind seeing him or his family murdered. After all, you’re against him, so why would you feel “deep worry for his security”? A good writer always has in mind the characteristics of his readership. The conclusion I draw is that Baker assumes New York Times readers think it’s unremarkable for political opponents to wish for a politician’s death. Not all of them do, of course. Baker quotes Paul Begala, former Clinton aide and tough Democratic partisan, as saying Republicans were asking questions out of genuine concern. “This is totally on the level,” Begala says. “They’re acting like real human beings.” I have known Begala for 20-some years, and I have no doubt that back in 2006, when the British TV film “The Death of a President,” envisioning the assassination of George W. Bush, debuted at the Toronto Film Festival to applause from a capacity crowd, Begala was appalled. Similarly, with Nicholson Baker’s 2003 novel, “Checkpoint” about people planning to murder Bush. To encourage people to contemplate the assassination of a president is despicable. A strong desire to ensure the safety of the president, however much you disagree with him, is a natural and healthy impulse for every citizen. So it shouldn’t be surprising that Republicans are just as angry as Michelle Obama is reported to have been about the Secret Service’s failure to keep an intruder out of the White House, and its four-day failure to realize that a sniper’s gunshots hit the first family’s residence. Not everybody evidently feels this way when a Republican is in the White House. The New York Times movie critic’s verdict on the 2006 movie: “‘The Death of a President’ is, in the end, neither terribly outrageous nor especially heroic; it’s a thought experiment that traffics in received ideas.” I’m not sure exactly what that means, but it doesn’t sound like something Paul Begala would say. If Baker thinks many of his liberal readers are not disturbed by threats of violence or even murder directed at political opponents, that is unfortunate — even more unfortunate if he is correct. Consider the protests in Wisconsin against the law restricting the bargaining perquisites of public employee unions passed by the Republican legislature and signed by Gov. Scott Walker. I have not seen any evidence that Walker’s opponents expressed regret for the many death threats he and his family received during that wild time. One hopes that some liberals did speak out against them, and that most or all regretted them in the privacy of their thoughts. I am reminded here of the official name of the organization that fought to the U.S. Supreme Court the Michigan constitutional amendment banning racial discrimination in, among other things, university admissions: Coalition to Defend Affirmative Action, Integration and Immigration Rights and Fight For Equality By Any Means Necessary. You can find it inscribed in the Supreme Court reports. “By any means necessary,” a common phrase of the hard Left, carries a threatening implication, a whiff of violence — one particularly vivid, perhaps, in a state whose largest city has suffered a devastating riot and some of the nation’s highest rates of violent crime. Enraged and self-righteous, some liberals seek to abridge opponents’ basic human rights — by shutting down opponents’ speech, campus speech codes, illicit investigations such as the one to which Gov. Walker was subjected and other limitations on the First Amendment. But do they find it natural that one side would wish actual violence upon the other? Perhaps Peter Baker thinks many New York Times readers will find it surprising that Republicans don’t wish the death of a Democratic president. Let’s hope he’s wrong. 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. COPYRIGHT 2014 THE WASHINGTON EXAMINER DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

The Real Mythmakers

Two articles I read this week vindicate my decision to write my new book, “Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.” It’s not just Christianity’s values that are under attack but its core claims. I was well aware when undertaking this project that some Christians would be put off by the very idea of Christian apologetics. According to them, we don’t need to defend the faith. Respectfully, that’s not what the Bible says. Peter tells us, “Always be prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). I think obedience requires us, then, to attempt to answer the challenges asserted against the faith, when appropriate, including the two lodged in the articles I read this week. I’ll deal with one of those in this column, a piece in the Daily Mail by writer Michael Paulkovich, who argues that “Jesus never existed.” He says there is no extrabiblical evidence that Jesus was a historical figure. Few, if any, serious scholars make this claim anymore, as there are numerous non-Christian references to Jesus, from Jewish historian Josephus to first-century Greek historian Thallus to early-second-century Roman legate Pliny the Younger to Roman historians Tacitus and Suetonius to Greek writer Mara bar Serapion to Greek rhetorician Lucian of Samosata to pagan critic Celsus. Thallus spoke of the darkness that spread during Jesus’ crucifixion. Pliny the Younger wrote to the Roman emperor Trajan to ask his counsel on how to handle Christians who would not worship the emperor and who sang hymns “to Christ as if to a god.” Tacitus reported that after Pontius Pilate’s execution of Christ, the “pernicious superstition (Christianity) broke out afresh in Judea.” Regardless of Tacitus’ low opinion of Christianity, he corroborated Jesus’ death and Jesus’ followers’ formation of a religion after it. Suetonius referred to Jews being expelled from Rome during the reign of Claudius because of a riot incited by Chrestus — a corrupted reference to Christ. Mara bar Serapion referred to Jesus as a “wise king” of the Jews. Lucian of Samosata, who lived from A.D. 125 to 180, in his “The Death of Peregrinus,” mocked Christians as those who come “after him whom they still worship — the man who was crucified in Palestine for introducing this new cult into the world.” Celsus acknowledged Jesus’ existence, though mocked claims concerning his divinity. The only non-Christian source that Paulkovich acknowledges is Josephus, but he says his references to Jesus were added by later editors. Nice try, but that doesn’t quite tell the whole story. As I concede in my book, it may well be true that later editors embellished the Josephus account, but New Testament scholar Craig Blomberg cites a growing scholarly consensus that though his writings may have been edited, Josephus did say that Jesus’ followers reported seeing Jesus alive after his death on the cross and that Jesus was perhaps the Messiah. Even if later scribes altered the text, Josephus still provided “admissible testimony on the death of Jesus” — and thus, obviously, that he existed. Another truly bizarre claim by Paulkovich is that the Apostle Paul never referred to Jesus as a real person. Paul, he says, considered “the crucifixion metaphorical.” Surely, Paulkovich jests. Has he read 1 Corinthians? “And I, when I came to you, brothers, did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). In other words, the cross and Christ’s crucifixion, along with his resurrection, were central to Paul’s teachings. A few verses earlier, Paul wrote, “But we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles” (1 Corinthians 1:23). Later in his letter, Paul said: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive” (1 Corinthians 15:3-6). Note what follows a few sentences later: “But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain. … Then those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:13, 18-19). I hate to break it to Mr. Paulkovich, but a mythical person cannot be bodily resurrected, and Paul and the other New Testament writers made clear that Jesus died and was physically resurrected; they touched him, ate with him, talked with him. The entire religion of Christianity, as Paul proclaimed, hinges on Christ’s resurrection. Christ changed the world. He continues to change the world. So his critics will continue to criticize him — some even taking the absurd position that he never existed. You can rest assured that those who are alleging that Christ is a mythical figure are the real mythmakers. David Limbaugh is a writer, author and attorney. His latest book is “Jesus on Trial: A Lawyer Affirms the Truth of the Gospel.” Follow him on Twitter @davidlimbaugh and his website at www.davidlimbaugh.com. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com. COPYRIGHT 2014 CREATORS.COM