Special Report

Special Report

Nebraska Repeals the Death Penalty

By 5.28.15

Nebraska State Senator Colby Coash (R-Lincoln), a conservative Republican (although Nebraska’s unicameral legislature is nominally non-partisan), tells an interesting story about his evolution on the death penalty:

Many years ago, just before an execution in Nebraska and before he got involved in politics, he went to the prison to see what was happening outside before the criminal was put to death inside. While there were some anti-death penalty protesters, most of the scene resembled a big tailgate party. Coash, then in favor of the death penalty, partied right along with his fellow Cornhuskers. When he got home that evening, the experience didn’t sit right with him and he realized that he couldn’t celebrate the death of a person, particularly at the hand of government, even while knowing that that person probably deserved to die. Coash’s view on the death penalty was changed for good.

Special Report

Sexual Ethics in the Koran and in the Obama Administration

By 5.28.15

It’s interesting to compare traditions from different religions that cater to the baser instincts of their adherents. So, for example, the Jewish tradition requires that on Purim, which celebrates Queen Esther saving Persian Jews from the death sentence imposed by Haman, Jews get so drunk that they are unable to tell the difference between the villainous Haman and Mordechai, the heroic uncle of Queen Esther. The general hilarity is enhanced by the fact that we are dressed up in outlandish costumes and twirl noisemakers whenever Haman’s name is mentioned. Think of it as Halloween for adults.

My Irish-Catholic husband of over 30 years loves this holiday, in which he happily participates. For my part, I love the tradition of the Irish wake. It’s not that I don’t sympathize with the family and friends of the deceased. It’s just that there is something so satisfyingly cathartic about spending a night drinking and crying with a group of people. You don’t even need to know them to share in this bonding experience. After all, we’ve all known grief, and here is an opportunity to express it openly and without embarrassment.

Special Report

White Flags in the Culture War

By 5.27.15

The battles of the culture war look increasingly one-sided. Some of the supposed generals on the conservative side are more like defectors. Take Robert Gates, president of the Boy Scouts of America, who recently urged the organization to succumb to the demands of its critics. He essentially told the Boy Scouts that their Christian principles, not his counsel of capitulation, threaten the group’s future.

He urged the group to bow to the “social, political, and judicial changes taking place in our country” and declared that the “the status quo in our movement’s membership standards cannot be sustained.”

In the past, the Boy Scouts served God and country by upholding the organization’s principles. Now, according to Gates’s perverse spin on the code, service to God and country means abandoning those principles: “Our oath calls upon us to do our duty to God and our country. The country is changing, and we are increasingly at odds with the legal landscape at both the state and federal levels. And, as a movement, we find ourselves with a policy more than a few of our church sponsors reject, thus placing Scouting between a boy and his church.”

Special Report

A Methodist Boycott of the Holocaust Museum?

By 5.23.15

Recently a longtime United Methodist official, lamenting that Israel’s Independence Day obscured the Palestinian “Nakba” or catastrophe, urged boycotting the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. until the Palestinians have their own Holocaust museum.

Here’s the quote from Janet Lahr Lewis, “Advocacy Coordinator for the Middle East” at United Methodism’s General Board of Global Ministries in New York, and “Peace with Justice Associate” at the church’s General Board of Church and Society in Washington, D.C., in an article originally appearing in but now seemingly removed from the online weekly newsletter of the latter agency:

Special Report

Seven Brothers: A World War II Story

By 5.23.15

This time last year for The American Spectator, I wrote about the five Bailey brothers of World War II: Dick, Jim, Fonnie, John, and Fred. They were from Western Pennsylvania, my neck of the woods. All served in World War II. We’ve all heard of the Ryan brothers in “Saving Private Ryan” and perhaps the Sullivan brothers in the old black-and-white film “The Fighting Sullivans.” And we know from these movies that the U.S. military resolved to never again take the risk of exposing so many of one mother’s sons to the risk of death in one war.

And yet, there they were, all five Bailey boys. Not one was granted a desk job on the home-front. All five volunteered for combat after Pearl Harbor and all five faced—Europe, the Pacific, Northern Africa; by land, by air, by sea.

Imagine: Five brothers in one war.

Special Report

Where the Truth Wanders

By 5.22.15

On the night of April 9, 2015, masked men belonging to an anti-Russian militant group launched an audacious nighttime raid in the northeastern Ukrainian city of Kharkiv. Their targets were not pro-Russian partisans, but rather three Soviet-era statues of Bolshevik heroes, including the Red Army commander Nikolai Rudnev. A week later, a similar nocturnal razzia was carried out against a monument to Vladimir Lenin that had theretofore graced the campus of Kharkiv’s National Technical University.

Special Report

Charter Schools: The New White Ruling Class?

By 5.21.15

Raleigh, N.C.

Bereft of arguments to discredit charter schools on their merits, education bureaucrats are resorting to one of their favorite go-to arguments in a jam—accuse the opposition of racism and re-segregation.

Although this renewed offensive is unfolding on a national scale, North Carolina has become an epicenter for the conflict, as school-choice advocates and education establishment interests cross swords. The battle came to a head recently when a Duke University study claimed that charter schools don’t live up to their promise of attracting and retaining minority students.

Special Report

Paul Shaffer: Television’s Man From Thunder Bay

By 5.19.15

It has been a long time since I watched The Late Show with David Letterman. Last I remember tuning in was to see Sixto Rodriguez perform a couple of years back. In recent years, I have been turned off by his increasingly strident left-wing posture and his vicious attacks on Sarah Palin on her children. He would apologize for his June 2009 “joke” about the then 14-year old Willow Palin being knocked up by New York Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez, but as it turns out, the apology was insincere.

The only reason I will watch Letterman’s final show is because of the man who has been by his side for the past 33 years — Paul Shaffer.

Special Report

Equal Opportunity for All Through Educational Freedom

By 5.18.15

Economist Stephen Moore, in a May 1, 2015 editorial in the Wall Street Journal, “President Obama, Are You Listening,” raised this question: “The scenes of Baltimore set ablaze this week have many Americans thinking: What can be done to rescue families trapped in an inner-city culture of violence, despair and joblessness?” His answer should lead us to start a grass-roots movement to convince political leaders in the state capitals and the U.S. capital to offer all parents, not just the wealthy, equal opportunity through educational freedom. How? Follow Mr. Moore’s advice:

Republicans should seize this issue. And when unions mobilize to kill school choice, the GOP should fight side by side with these inspiring students and parents to expand it across the country. The Education Department’s spending for K-12 education will soon reach $50 billion. How about a GOP plan that would take that money from the bureaucracy and distribute five million vouchers of $10,000 each to the lowest-income Americans—like those who live in Baltimore?

Special Report

The Train-Wreck Ghouls

By 5.15.15

Mere hours after Train 188 from Washington to New York City jumped the rails and killed eight, the Democrat spin machine stood atop the wreckage and cranked up its familiar rant about Republican neglect of America’s infrastructure.

The Washington Post’s Philip Bump opened with a piece Wednesday morning assailing Republicans for Amtrak’s “funding problems” (it was chartered as a for-profit agency, directed again by Congress to turn a profit in 1997, has never seen a drop of black ink and has soaked up some $45 billion in the four decades since inception) on the basis that Republicans don’t ride its trains.

Then came the parade of leftist politicians.

We failed them,” said Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY) of the dead, before there was a firm body count.