December 5, 2011
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When I studied the U.S. Constitution in school, I learned that for a bill to become law it first had to be introduced in either the House or the Senate. Today, a cynic might say for a bill to become law a member of Congress must first be introduced to a lobbyist.
The several hundred conservatives on the National Review’s summer cruise, which I was asked to attend as a speaker, are united in what they don’t like about the Obama administration and congressional Democrats, but divided on the best strategy for winning the Senate in 2014 and the White House in 2016.
On the day I visit the Anne Frank House, which is actually the family’s hiding place atop Anne’s father’s business, the wait to get in is as long as three hours. Such is the attraction of this historic site, 53 years after it was opened to the public.
Egypt is in turmoil again. Syria is embroiled in civil war. Iran continues building a nuclear device. Militants in Iraq have killed more than 4,000 people so far this year, more than 800 of them in July alone, according to the aptly named Iraq Body Count (www.iraqbodycount.org).
Now for some good news, and it has nothing to do with the birth of the royal baby.
President Obama rarely misses an opportunity to insert himself into an issue. Last Friday, he appeared in the White House pressroom to comment on the George Zimmerman verdict. The president said he could have been Trayvon Martin. Not likely, given his private schooling and the way he was fast-tracked to success.
BELFAST, Northern Ireland — While American cable TV news engaged in saturation coverage of the closing arguments and verdict in the George Zimmerman murder trial, the BBC and Sky News carried an inspiring speech by Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head last October by the Taliban for advocating the education of girls.
We are so programmed by our history with race in America that reaction to the acquittal of George Zimmerman on charges of murdering Trayvon Martin depends largely upon one’s individual, even group experience.
The military coup that ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi marks another failure in U.S. foreign policy over several administrations, which have erroneously promoted the notion that American-style democracy in Islamic lands will produce a nation more like ours.
Freedom is not the default position of humankind; otherwise more would be free. In much of the world, dictatorship, religious persecution and the suppression of women are the norm.
The problem for people who believe in an Authority higher even than the Constitution is that in our increasingly secular and indifferent society it has become more difficult to persuade those who do not subscribe to an immutable standard to accept that view. It is nearly impossible to restrain a people intent on throwing off any and all restraints. History is full of examples of empires that collapsed from within before they were conquered from without.
The Supreme Court’s narrow 5-4 decision to strike down a central component of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, “freeing nine states, mostly in the South,” writes The New York Times, “to change their election laws without advance federal approval,” is a welcome recognition that times have changed and that especially Southern states must not forever bear a “mark of Cain” for past discrimination against racial minorities.
After 12 years of fighting, the Taliban in Afghanistan have announced they are ready to talk peace with the United States. The Taliban opened a political office in Qatar. The talks will take place there, but without the Afghan government, which is refusing to take part in the “peace” talks.
Two recent newspaper editorials illustrate the double-mindedness some feel about President Obama's decision to provide small arms and ammunition to Syrian rebels.
Without the slightest hint of irony, President Obama said last week, “If people can’t trust not only the executive branch but also don’t trust Congress, and don’t trust federal judges, to make sure that we’re abiding by the Constitution with due process and rule of law, then we’re going to have some problems here.”
For years I have been writing about the failures of the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) as a warning for what the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) will do to health care here in the U.S.
The annual ritual known as the Scripps National Spelling Bee came and went last week with kids spelling words that, I suspect, many with graduate degrees couldn’t spell. The winner was Arvind Mahankali, a 13-year-old eighth-grader from Bayside Hills, N.Y. Mahankali is the first boy to win the title since 2008.
Following the hacking death of a British soldier by two alleged Islamic extremists, Prime Minister David Cameron said, “There is nothing in Islam that justifies this truly dreadful act.” Winston Churchill thought otherwise, but he lived in a time before political correctness ran amok and drew on his personal experiences serving in the Sudan and in the Crimean War.
Given last week’s revelation that the IRS targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, it’s worth recalling President Obama’s Ohio State University commencement address. The president decried “voices” warning “that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner.” It’s no longer lurking. It’s here.
In his defense of President Obama, Press Secretary Jay Carney is beginning to sound a lot like Ronald Zeigler, Richard Nixon’s spokesman. Carney only has to use the word “inoperative,” as Ziegler did when incriminating evidence surfaced that proved his previous statements untrue.
‘Mainstream media” are alarmed by reports that billionaires Charles and David Koch are considering the purchase of Tribune Company’s eight daily newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times.
There’s the story of a woman with five kids who was asked if she had to do it all over again would she have five children? “Yes,” she said, “just not these five.”
The death of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher has prompted reactions from Britain’s far left that takes bad taste to new extremes. During its Top 40 music countdown Sunday night, BBC Radio 1 was “forced” to play a seven-second clip of “Ding Dong the Witch is Dead” from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” because Thatcher haters had bought enough copies during a feverish online campaign to bump it to the top of the pop charts. It ultimately reached the number two spot, 5,000 sales short of the top position.
There is a story about Margaret Thatcher, which is probably apocryphal, but speaks volumes about the strength of Britain's first female prime minister, who died Monday at age 87.
My first question after reading about seven teachers in an Atlanta public school accused of altering standardized test scores to make it appear students performed better than they actually did was: How could they!?
There are many successful liberals, so why do so many of them wish to subsidize failure for the poor, instead of showing them how to succeed?
History is full of warnings about what happens when people follow public opinion instead of standing by their principles. In its most extreme manifestation, public opinion might well become mob rule when vigilantes take the law into their own hands.
Last week, politicians who helped craft the Affordable Care Act (ACA) celebrated in self-congratulatory style the third anniversary of that monstrosity which will soon extinguish health care as we've known it.
President Obama should listen to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, the “founder” of shuttle diplomacy.
The Maryland legislature recently voted to abolish capital punishment in the state, making Maryland the sixth state in the last six years to eliminate the death penalty.
Since the Motown sound went silent — except on oldies stations — and General Motors and Chrysler (but not Ford) required life support from Washington, there has been little to recommend Detroit, Mich., to visitors, much less its residents.
Given his track record on marital fidelity, former President Bill Clinton is not the person I would consult about “committed, loving relationships.” Clinton used those words in a Washington Post op-ed last week, urging the Supreme Court to overturn the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which defines marriage as the legal union of one man and one woman, which he signed into law.
It’s a safe bet that most conservative Republicans would rush to support a political leader with the following record, especially in a traditionally Democratic state.
Gov. Rick Scott (R-Fla.) was one of those tea party stars whom voters believed had the courage of his convictions when he promised, as recently as last summer, to block The Affordable Care Act in his state. But last week, writes the Orlando Sentinel, “Scott made an abrupt about-face, embracing a three-year expansion of Medicaid coverage for about 1 million low-income Floridians that will be paid for by the health care law.”
House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) is looking beyond today and the beginning of the sequestration. In an interview I conducted with him on Capitol Hill Tuesday, Ryan told me he believes a majority of Americans will come to understand how bad the debt is after the rhetoric gives way to reality.
At the end of 1995 and stretching into January 1996, the federal government “shut down” because of an impasse between President Bill Clinton and House Republicans led by then-House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
Just as Lenin’s body remains on public display in Russia, because one never knows when he might be useful to rally the masses, so, too, does the ghost (but thankfully not the body) of the late Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) remain a useful symbol for Democrats in Washington.
President Obama’s approach to so-called “climate change” appears to include recycling old ideas.
Our politics have become so polarized and corrupted that a president of the United States cannot even attend an event devoted to drawing people closer to God and bridge partisan and cultural divides without being lectured about his policies.
An unsigned and undated Justice Department white paper, obtained by NBC News, reports The New York Times, “... is the most detailed analysis yet to come into public view regarding the Obama legal team’s views about the lawfulness of killing, without a trial, an American citizen who executive branch officials decide is an operational leader of Al Qaeda or one of its allies.”
Under pressure from religious and conservative groups, the Obama administration has offered another compromise on the issue of birth control coverage within the Affordable Care Act.
In the days of the late Mike Wallace, “60 Minutes” was known for hard-hitting, aggressive journalism that asked the questions viewers wanted answered and held the powerful accountable.
Some political commentators are dancing on what they believe to be the grave of the Republican Party, claiming that the only way the GOP can have a viable future is for them to behave like Democrats.
If laws were enough to deter criminal behavior prisons would be empty.
Biography isn't policy. President Obama's choice for secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel, former Nebraska Republican senator, has a resume most politicians can envy: a clean senatorial record, no ethical lapses and two purple hearts from a war many opposed and many more tried to avoid.
As the son of a woman, the husband of a woman and the father of daughters and granddaughters, I celebrate the record number of females who are now United States senators. However, I do see some differences in the way these and other women are treated, depending on their party, policies and beliefs.
With so many foreigners wanting to become U.S. citizens, it’s still a shock to know someone who has relinquished his citizenship. It is another reason for simplifying the U.S. tax code.
It has been 50 years since President John F. Kennedy ordered U.S. “advisers” to South Vietnam to help battle the communist North and 37 years since the end of that divisive war and the country’s unification under Communism. Today, Vietnam is fighting a war with itself.
Trying to explain an evil act like the one that killed 20 children and six adults at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is on a par with explaining how the universe was formed.
Sitting in the room at the Jack Kemp Leadership Award dinner last week, listening to Sen. Marco Rubio, Florida Republican, and Rep. Paul Ryan, Wisconsin Republican and of late the GOP vice presidential candidate, I sensed more than a generational shift in party leadership.
The opening scene-setter for the 1996 film “Independence Day” might serve as a metaphor for what Egyptians could face if a draft constitution written by a panel dominated by Islamists and based on Sharia law wins approval in a referendum: “A loud rumble is heard. Suddenly, we are covered in darkness as the shadow engulfs us. Only the image of our Earth hangs in the air, until a huge silhouetted object suddenly blocks our view.”
Congress returned to "work" this week (now there's a laugh) to complete its lame-duck session before taking another holiday. Spending other people's money is a taxing experience.
The diplomatic hosannas for Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi following his brokering of the recent ceasefire between Hamas and Israel were still being heard even as the former head of the Muslim Brotherhood started behaving like a pharaoh. Morsi “temporarily” seized new powers that, among other things, forbid judicial review of his policies.
Conservatives have been dreaming that a political reincarnation of Ronald Reagan would lead them to an electoral promised land. I never put my faith in such a possibility, because the past is a dangerous place in which to live. Reagan never lived in the past, though he learned from it.
In the film "Groundhog Day," Bill Murray wakes up each morning and relives the previous day.
A look at the electoral map indicates the Republican Party won in square miles. Unfortunately for them, electoral votes, not landmass, won President Obama a second term.
Presidential elections decide only who wins the White House and a congressional majority. They don’t by themselves solve the nation’s problems.
When white liberals voted against the confirmation of Justice Clarence Thomas (including then-Senator Joe Biden) were they racist? Many white liberal Democrats are working overtime to defeat Rep. Allen West, Florida Republican. Are they racist?
Former South Dakota Democratic Senator George McGovern, who died Sunday, had all manner of evil said about him because of his opposition to the Vietnam War. He was called unpatriotic, disloyal, an appeaser and an enabler of communism. Those were the printable slanders.
On Monday, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney delivered a foreign policy speech to cadets at the Virginia Military Institute in Lexington, Va. He was correct in his indictment of the Obama administration for its numerous failures -- especially in the Middle East -- and his embrace of Ronald Reagan's "peace through strength" philosophy. A strong and respected America is less likely to be attacked.
Did anyone think the release of Mitt Romney’s tax returns would satisfy Democrats and make them focus on the real issues in this campaign, including President Obama’s failed domestic and foreign policy record and approaching massive tax increases? If so, please call me for a great deal on Arizona swampland.
There's another video, this one of Mitt Romney speaking to donors at a fundraiser in Boca Raton.
'How could this happen?" asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in response to the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three others.
An oft-quoted line from then-governor of Massachusetts Calvin Coolidge might be updated to include "the public interest," as well as public safety.
Columnist Leonard Pitts wrote a story for the front page of last Sunday's Charlotte Observer indicting both parties for failing to speak up for the poor. He inspired this column.
The delayed opening of the Republican National Convention worked to the advantage of the GOP by both heightening anticipation and forcing the elimination of extraneous speakers, which there are always too many of at these things.
This week when Mitt Romney strides to center stage to deliver his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, he might draw inspiration from an unlikely source: the song "I Am What I Am" from the musical "La Cage Aux Folles."
When women complain about men who can’t commit, they can thank — or blame — two people: Playboy magazine publisher Hugh Hefner and the former editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, Helen Gurley Brown, who died this week at age 90.
Last Thursday's Wall Street Journal editorial "Why Not Paul Ryan?" made the case for his selection as the Republican vice-presidential nominee in this statement: "Romney can win a big election over big issues. He'll lose a small one."
Like the ghosts of Shakespeare's Banquo or Dickens' Jacob Marley, the specter of the late commie-hunting congressman from Wisconsin, Joseph McCarthy, will always be with us. It is summoned up today, by some on the left, who use it as a tool to thwart legitimate questions about people and ideologies that seek to destroy America.
Stephen Covey, the management guru who died this week, would have had a hard time selling his books in Benjamin Franklin's America, or Abe Lincoln's. His best seller "7 Habits of Highly Effective People" would have been considered a self-evident truth, one drummed into earlier Americans by schools, churches and the Puritan ethic.
Mitt Romney's speech to the NAACP convention in Houston was -- according to one's political perspective -- a "calculated move on his part to get booed ..." to help his white base (Rep. Nancy Pelosi), or a presentation to "independent thinking adult citizens" whom he treated as equals (Rush Limbaugh).
Throughout America's history, there have been people who denied threats from our enemies. During the Revolutionary War, significant numbers sided with the British monarchy. Enablers in politics, the media and even religion helped Communism remain in power for seven decades in the Soviet Union. German Nazis had their U.S. apologists.
Don't you find it odd that the word extremism seems to apply only to conservative Republicans? Terminology often drives political discourse and those who control the terms often determine the outcome.
In the Aesop Fable "The Grasshopper and the Ant," there are moral, economic and political lessons for our time, or any other.
It is one thing to talk about "fairness" when it comes to allowing gays and lesbians to marry; it is quite another to claim biblical authority for such relationships.
'Finding Your Roots with Henry Louis Gates Jr." is another of the Harvard professor's wonderful television series for PBS. This is "must-see TV" and a more than worthy sequel to three previous projects Gates has hosted about how some of us came to be what and who we are.
Virtually everything said and done in a presidential election year distorts the truth, much like concave and convex mirrors in a carnival attraction alter one’s true reflection.
Next week the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans (www.horatioalger.org) will celebrate its 65th anniversary. I confess I did not know of its existence until I read their ad in an airline magazine. I am familiar with Horatio Alger, the man, who inspired generations of boys, and later girls, with stories of people overcoming difficult circumstances to succeed, but I was ignorant of the association that carries on his vision.
Next week, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear three days of oral arguments in the healthcare lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, otherwise known as "Obamacare."
Rick Santorum deserves credit for his impressive primary victories in Mississippi and Alabama. Newt Gingrich led us to believe he would win both states.
You've got to hand it to Democrats and the Obama re-election campaign. Like a quarterback who looks left to draw the defense away from his intended target on the right, Democrats have managed to divert our attention.
The first apology by Rush Limbaugh, posted on his website over the weekend, sounded forced, qualified, almost defensive. The second, broadcast live on his Monday show, sounded sincere and heartfelt.
Most wars have a turning point that either signals the road to victory or the ditch of defeat. In Vietnam, the 1968 Tet Offensive by communist troops against South Vietnamese and American forces and their allies is regarded as the turning point in that conflict. Though communist forces suffered heavy losses, which would normally define defeat, CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite and others in the U.S. media, portrayed the operation as an allied loss, thus encouraging not only the anti-war movement, but North Vietnamese and Viet Cong troops who believed all they had to do was hang on until America grew tired of the war and quit.
When one writes about moral convictions, it’s probably a good idea to consistently live up to them. That way people can still disagree with your convictions, but they have a difficult time accusing you of hypocrisy.
The Obama administration is touting the latest unemployment numbers released last week by the U.S. Department of Labor as proof its policies are working. But a closer look at the actual number of able-bodied people who are willing to work, but are not, reveals a different picture.
One of several casualties of the vitriolic name-calling between Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich is what to do about Iran.
One of the memorable slogans from the Reagan administration was "peace through strength." Reagan believed a strong defense was a safeguard against enemy attacks and the best hope of victory should America go to war.
While most attention is focused on the presidential race and Republican hopes to oust President Obama from office, some significant steps were taken last week on issues dear to the hearts of conservatives.
When the Republican presidential candidates tire of bashing each other, perhaps they will start addressing the expansion of radical Islam.
How does one measure whether a life was a success or a failure?
A friend of mine hands me what looks like a business card. It says, “Don’t Die Stupid.” As America begins another round of voting to select the next president, or retain the current one, what we need is a stupid test. Flunk it and you shouldn’t vote.
According to the Mayan "long count" calendar, the final day on Earth is less than a year away, on Dec. 21, 2012.
‘There’s a grief that can’t be spoken. There’s a pain goes on and on. Empty chairs at empty tables; now my friends are dead and gone.”
Perhaps not since Madalyn Murray O’Hair and Carl Sagan has there been such an “evangelical” atheist as Christopher Hitchens, the writer and social commentator who died last week after a long and public battle with esophageal cancer.
For weeks the media have complained that Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been shielded from probing interviews. The criticism is valid.
In a season in which there is very little “peace on Earth” and even less “good will towards men,” it is a particularly tough time for Jews, who may be finding it more and more difficult to tell who their real friends are.
We live in a bipolar culture. We allow ourselves to be drenched in sexual images in movies, on television and on the Internet and then defend First Amendment protection to even the most graphic of them. Then, when a politician acts out what culture promotes, we criticize him, especially if he’s conservative, branding him with the equivalent of a “scarlet letter.”