Special Report

Special Report

A Bicycle, an Infection, and a Lie

By 6.14.15

“Land of Song!” said the warrior bard,
“Tho’ all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!”
— “The Minstrel Boy” by Thomas Moore

The last two weeks have seen a surprising sequence of events surrounding the Iran nuclear weapons talks. It all started on the night of Friday, May 29 when John Kerry arrived in Geneva for an all-day talk scheduled for the following day, Saturday, May 30. The talks did not go well. A senior administration official described them as “intense,” which is diplomatic-speak for “nasty.” There had been plans to continue the next day, but the Iranians mysteriously hightailed it out of Dodge City that night.

Special Report

The Constitutional Convention Trap

By 6.11.15

A dangerous idea has been circulating over the past few years: that it is time to call a new Constitutional convention, to remedy the vast overreach of federal power. But therein lies a treacherous trap: such a body’s powers cannot be limited. The end result easily could prove the polar opposite of what those seeking revision intended.

Conventions are by their nature extraordinary bodies whose powers are inherently plenary. The 1787 convocation in Philadelphia was a runaway convention. Tasked with merely revising the Articles of Confederation’s “firm league of friendship” among sovereign states, it created a supreme federal government whose sovereignty trumped that of the states. The feeble federal government created by the Articles could not even levy taxes; we should be so lucky today.

It was the cause of preserving the federal Union thus established, and not that of abolishing slavery, that triggered our ruinous Civil War 83 years after the Constitution was ratified. Thus Abraham Lincoln said during America’s epic fratricidal conflict that he must have Kentucky, a slave state he successfully wooed to join the North.

Special Report

Global Left’s Machiavellian Misrepresentation of the Pope Is Failing

By 6.8.15

There has not been this kind of palace intrigue at the Vatican since the 1500s. Foreign potentates are making a power grab, trying to seize the moral authority of the papacy for their own, secular ends. Like modern-day courtiers, lay and clerical aides to Pope Francis are slyly assisting these foreign princes from the United Nations, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and other such non-friends of Catholicism. In public comments, for months, officials such as Jeffrey Sachs and Ban Ki Moon from the UN, and lay leaders such as Margaret Archer at the Vatican, have been telling the public the pope believes it is time for radical regulatory action on the environment.

The pope’s forthcoming encyclical, they say, will come down hard on the wicked polluters, and his moral clarion call will be further articulated in public addresses to the U.S. Congress and UN General Assembly this fall. Stifling, universal environmental regulations will have the papal imprimatur. If God is with the Left, who can be against them, right?

Special Report

Halfway There: Wisconsin Becomes the 25th Right-to-Work State

By and 6.5.15

Governor Scott Walker sat with rolled up sleeves at a table with a “Freedom to Work” sign emblazoned across the front.

The invitation-only ceremony was held at Badger Meter, a manufacturing company near Milwaukee, Wisconsin on March 9, 2015.

To Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, and the other invitees, Walker said the legislation he was about to sign would send “a powerful message across the country and around the world.”

The drama was heightened by an irony — only months earlier, Walker had seemed cool on right-to-work, calling it a “distraction.”

Nevertheless, with the stroke of his pen that March day, right-to-work became the law in Wisconsin — workers were now free to opt-out of union membership and dues.

But the next day, the unions rolled up their own sleeves, beginning the inevitable legal challenges to the law, charging it violated Wisconsin’s Constitution.

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.

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