Special Report

Special Report

The Declaration of Independence: Vindication and Defeat

By 7.3.15

Something we ought to consider in the controversy over the Confederate (battle) flag: The United States defeated the Confederacy on the battlefield, but eventually gave in to the political principles that the Confederacy stood for.

In the years leading up to and through the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called upon the American people to rededicate themselves to the principles of the Declaration of Independence. As Lincoln said, “I have never had a feeling politically that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declaration of Independence,” particularly that freedom and democracy derived from the natural fact of human equality. Slavery violated this principle, and the Republican Party was founded to restore slavery to the place where the founders had placed it, he said, “in the course of ultimate extinction.”

Special Report

The Virtue of Mandatory Vaccination

By 7.2.15

On Tuesday, California Governor Jerry Brown signed a law that makes California the third state to eliminate “personal belief” exemptions from vaccine requirements for children to attend schools, either public or private.

Special Report

EPA Raked Over the Coals

By 7.1.15

Consumers and businesses won big on Monday, when the Supreme Court struck down an Environmental Protection Agency regulation on coal plant emissions because the EPA failed to consider whether the costs outweighed the benefits. Not the cost to government, mind you. The cost to us, as consumers and business owners, to comply. The Court’s 5-4 decision in Michigan v. Environmental Protection Agency is a setback for the Obama administration but an important protection for the rest of us. 

Federal overregulation—of everything from automobiles to fast food and power plants — makes it more expensive for employers to hire and more expensive for consumers to buy everyday products. Amazingly, 29 percent of what the average household spends is due to regulations jacking up prices. We could afford a lot more if there were fewer regulations.

Some are needed to protect our health and safety, but Washington D.C. overdoes it. And has for decades. The Obama administration is the all-time worst offender, and its EPA imposes the most regulatory burden of any agency.

Special Report

Let Your Freak Flag Fly

By 6.26.15

The Confederate Flag’s very name confuses. The Confederacy never recognized it as its flag, and even Southerners occasionally call it the “Stars and Bars” despite that moniker belonging to the dissimilar banner that flew over the capitol in Richmond during the Civil War.

With so much confusion over the controversial cloth where it still flies, surely Dixieland denizens can forgive an ignorant Northerner for misunderstanding the Confederate Flag, too.

My childhood impression held that the Confederate Flag stood for Lynyrd Skynyrd just as Southerners stood in unison for “Freebird” as their “Star-Spangled Banner.” They raised cigarette lighters in reverence to their anthem; Northerners placed hands on heart. They say Palmetto bug. We say cockroach.

Special Report

The Culture of Smugness

By 6.24.15

Whether or not South Carolina retains a Confederate flag on state grounds is clearly a matter for the state to decide. But the media couldn’t permit GOP presidential candidates to limit themselves to that position. It had to hector the candidates into support for the flag’s removal. On all matters racial, the media polices not only sins of commission but sins of omission. By the media’s estimate, insufficient enthusiasm for the flag’s removal is evidence of a troubling racial attitude.

The hate on display in the controversy is coming not from the flag’s defenders but from a smug liberal elite that can’t rest until every inch of America conforms to their liberal prejudices. Jon Stewart’s supposedly anguished remarks about the Charleston horror seemed more like childish pouting and sophomoric South-bashing, with the glib host demanding that even the streets of the South be renamed: “In South Carolina, the roads that black people drive on are named for Confederate Generals who fought to keep black people from driving freely on that road. That’s insanity. That’s racial wallpaper. You can’t allow that.”

Special Report

The Pope’s Climate Confusion

By 6.23.15

As the leader of perhaps the single largest institution in the world — the Roman Catholic Church — the pope potentially influences at least the Church’s 1.2 billion members, and perhaps millions of others around the globe. His sway makes it critical that when pontificating on matters beyond religion — matters which impact public policy both within and among nations — he acquire and consider a wide range of information from experts across the relevant political, scientific, economic, and philosophical spectra before making his influential pronouncements.

Unfortunately, when it comes to the environment and climate change, about which he just issued an encyclical focused “on care for our common home,” Pope Francis seems to have shrouded himself in confirmation bias of the worst sort, taking in little information that did not conform to his pre-existing anti-capitalist bias and leading to analysis and policy prescriptions that are not just erroneous but harmful.

Special Report

In Memoriam: R. Randolph Richardson

By 6.19.15

R. Randolph Richardson, World War II veteran, patriot, businessman, sailor, husband and father, who as president of the Smith Richardson Foundation in the 1970s and 1980s directed and sustained research in economics and national security that laid the intellectual underpinnings of what became known as the Reagan Revolution, died at his home in Long Island, N.Y. last Memorial Day following a long illness. His opposition to communist imperialism and statist subversion of the liberties that made America led him to seek out thinkers who could make the case for free men, free markets, national security. His highly original approach to philanthropy was based on the recognition, shared by a small number of individuals in the immediate post-war years, that American conservatives neglected the battle of ideas, preferring to seek ways of accommodating or getting along with the enemies of freedom instead of confronting them. His impact on the shape and quality of the continuing debate on the conditions needed to sustain a free society cannot be overstated.

Special Report

Praise ‘Be Praised’ for Its Intent, Not Execution

By 6.18.15

A lengthy new papal encyclical is being rolled out today. A version of Laudato Si, or “Be Praised”—thought by most observers to be final, though the Vatican said otherwise—was leaked on Monday. It is a highly political discussion of the theology of the environment.

In fact, Pope Francis addresses not just fellow Catholics but “every person who inhabits this planet,” with whom he proposes “to enter into discussion… regarding our common home.” Climate change is high on his list. With the UN pushing a new agreement for December, Christiana Figueres, head of the UN Climate Change Secretariat, exulted that the encyclical “is going to have a major impact.”

Special Report

Limits to the Left’s Subjectivism?

By 6.17.15

The Rachel Dolezal story has put the Left in an awkward spot. An obviously white woman who has long presented herself to the world as black, Dolezal is testing the Left’s commitment to its own radical subjectivism.

Frustrated by comparisons of Dolezal to the transgenderism they embrace, many liberals have declared the two cases completely different. But they have failed to show one, at least not a substantial philosophical difference. In both cases, a human being seeks to erase an immutable trait in order to assert a “self-definition” that exists in the mind, not the body.

If humans have a right to define the “authentic self” without regard to their given human nature, why should that right be restricted to one fixed trait but not all of them? The Left has no answer to this question. All it can do is flail and argue that being transgender is somehow morally better than being transracial because the former is more trendy and societally approved.

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.