Category: Uncategorized

Colleges and universities must defend free speech

The uneducated comments coming from higher education these days are startling.Over at the University of Missouri, a student body representative recently said she’s “tired of hearing that First Amendment rights protect students” who engage in speech she deems hostile.Up at Amherst College in Massachusetts, students are demanding the school issue a statement saying it does “not tolerate the actions of students who posted … the ‘Free Speech’ posters.”And here in the south, students at Vanderbilt University are protesting a professor who once wrote that Islam was “dangerous” and that Christians should strengthen themselves “spiritually and intellectually” for continuing challenges to traditional marriage. Good grief. So much for college being a liberated time and place for the open discussion of ideas. It’s become the opposite. But lest we roll our eyes and shrug the issue off as harmless antics from silly, spoiled college students, we should think hard about what is actually at stake. To adjust the phrase, a threat to free speech anywhere in America is a threat to free speech everywhere in America. It doesn’t require much imagination to see how our freedoms could vanish after decades of steady erosion or even in a flash flood of political correctness. The constitution cannot defend itself. Our rights depend on young Americans who’ve not only learned about things like the First Amendment, but who’ve also become convinced of their necessity, stalwart in their defense, and motivated to pass them along, intact. Sadly, our institutions of higher learning, which play a critical…

We must do more to help our homeless veterans

There is a simple seven-word line in the Soldier’s Creed that always strikes a chord in my heart whenever I hear it uttered: “I will never leave a fallen comrade.”It’s both a task and a promise, and it’s something that soldiers, and all members of our armed forces, take very seriously. Many men and women have risked their lives, and some have died, living up to those words.  But what about our brothers and sisters in arms who have fallen on another type of battlefield, far from the sounds of rifles and mortars but still within an environment that can certainly take their lives, if not already their health, well-being and dignity? This week, only hours after Veterans Day parades have wound their way through our nation’s cities, and after the speeches and patriotic slogans have faded from our minds, nearly 50,000 veterans will be sleeping in the streets, in their cars, or in homeless shelters. Prior year estimates have shown that there were more than 500 homeless veterans in Alabama alone. This is a great shame, and an indelible stain on our nation’s honor. We’ve heard about the problem before, of course. I remember as a little boy listening to stories on the evening news about homeless Vietnam veterans sleeping in the park across from the White House. The fact that a former soldier was homeless saddened me when I was a kid, and it burns me up now that I’m an adult. Many folks feel the same way,…

Pope’s recent failure strengthens my Catholic faith

Alabama can be an interesting place to be Catholic.On the one hand, it’s challenging to live within an overwhelmingly evangelical community that generally believes our faith isn’t authentic Christianity. “If he’s a Christian, it’s despite being Catholic,” is how I’ve heard it said. On the other, we have great opportunities to learn from the thriving protestant communities that dominate the Bible Belt – their knowledge of scripture, how they make church fun for families, and how they build thriving, mission-minded congregations. But perhaps the greatest challenge, and opportunity, is when we’re questioned by a knowledgeable and well-meaning protestant. While there are many theological differences to discuss – why we believe that Christ is present in the Holy Eucharist, for instance – one of their favorite topics always seems to be the pope. “Why do you think the pope is such a great guy?” someone might ask. Well, who said I did? Some popes are great while others aren’t. I’m sure you’ve had great pastors and not-so-great pastors, as well.  “Why does the pope wear that funny hat?” I don’t know, it probably has something to do with customs and traditions. Why does your choir wear robes?  “Why do you think the pope is infallible?” I don’t. He’s capable of making mistakes like the rest of us. But I do believe, as the fathers of the First Vatican Council wrote, that when the pope “defines a doctrine concerning faith or morals to be held by the whole Church, he possesses ……

The Present Crisis Podcast

I’m still a far away from the launch of the inaugural episode of my weekly podcast, “The Present Crisis,” but I wanted to go ahead and drop a few lines explaining what the show will be about.The title comes from a famous line in President Reagan’s inaugural speech in January of 1981. In those few words, the Great Communicator summarized both the disease and the cure: “In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.”The podcast will begin in a few weeks. Meanwhile, check out the intro that I recently produced. It begins with an old War War II air raid siren effect and then incorporates the aforementioned line from President Reagan. While his remarks focused on the crisis our nation faced in the early days of the 1980s, I’ve always believed his thoughts were timeless and summarized both the challenge facing our nation and the philosophy – limited government – that will save it. So, in a sense, the “present crisis” is an enduring one … hence the name of the show.The weekly episodes will focus on the arenas of politics, culture, and faith, and I will analyze and comment upon the issues through my unique perspective as a former political aide and journalist. I plan to discuss and expand upon what I wrote in my weekly newspaper column, run through the major stories that made recent headlines, and also discuss any news that may have been ignored by the mainstream media…

Free thinkers are an endangered species on campus

Perhaps the most eloquent explanation of free speech is the famous line attributed to the enlightenment thinker Voltaire: “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”Roll over in your grave Voltaire, and tell Jefferson the news: free speech is dying in this supposedly enlightened future of ours. Each month brings increasingly preposterous news about some group of college students forcing a speaker from campus in the name of diversity, or inclusion, or multiculturalism, or some other liberal notion that they’re proving they either don’t understand or don’t honestly value. Earlier this month Williams College cancelled a speech by conservative author Suzanne Venker after students became absolutely unhinged and flooded the sponsoring group’s Facebook page.“When you bring a misogynistic, white supremacist men’s rights activist to campus in the name of ‘dialogue’ and ‘the other side,’” read one particularly tedious comment, “You are not only causing actual mental, social, psychological and physical harm to students, but you are also -- paying -- for the continued dispersal of violent ideologies that kill our black and brown (trans) femme sisters … you are dipping your hands in their blood.”Proving that truth is stranger than fiction, the cancelled speech was part of a campus series titled “Uncomfortable Learning.”With all the fuss, one would think these students are protesting visits by brutal dictators or holocaust deniers. Not exactly. Actually, many recently banned speakers shared something in common with Venker -- they’re women. Due to strident prattling…

The House GOP is far from a crisis

The establishment wing of the Republican Party is having a full-blown panic attack.Crisis. Chaos. Disaster. Those are just a few of the words being over used to describe the House Republican Conference after embattled Speaker John Boehner suddenly quit and his hand-picked successor gave up his brief attempt at the gavel last week.As the dust settles, GOP lawmakers supposedly look “divided and in disarray” according to NBC News, while the Politico says some are “just exasperated.” Are things really that bad? No. The conference is cleaning house. But for a group that’s supposed to be full of businessmen, it’s surprising that many think the ouster of an ineffective leader, and then passing on his recommended replacement, wasn’t necessary. Had the speaker and his lieutenants been running a company, they’d have all been fired long ago. That’s why all of this supposed tumult is music to the ears of many conservatives. Far from chaos, we see the shakeup as a promising sign that we may be getting closer to the type of legislative branch leadership we’ve asked for since giving Republicans control of Congress. We see a real opportunity to direct the flow of coming events not only with who we support as the next speaker, but by firmly telling them what they must deliver once in office. And that’s what it’s about: policies, not personalities. In the past few days we’ve heard that “recalcitrant” conservatives ran poor old Boehner off because the veteran lawmaker wasn’t conservative enough. Now, they say,…

It’s the garbage in our minds, not the guns in our hands

Last week’s mass shooting in Oregon once again has the usual suspects on the left calling for more gun laws and those on the right blaming the mentally ill.“Some say the answer is stricter gun laws,” said a visibly shaken Stephen Colbert on The Late Show the evening after the shooting. “Others say the answer is mental health care, that we need better treatment or just keep the guns out of the hands of the insane. Maybe it’s both. I honestly don’t know.”Few do, but that doesn’t stop the debate from playing its endless loop.“We’re going to have to change our laws,” President Barrack Obama said. The liberal echo chamber then became predictably saturated with similar demands for more laws.  But what laws, specifically? They never say, because they cannot say. “The way they talk is as if they have the answer and there are these recalcitrant forces in the country that say ‘no, no, no,’ even though deep down they know their legislation will work,” said conservative writer Charles C.W. Cooke during a debate on MSNBC. “That’s simply not the case. It’s far more complicated than that.”Cooke is right. Conservatives aren’t opposing legislation that could prevent such crimes, but nothing the president’s party has ever proposed would have stopped Chris Harper-Mercer from purchasing the firearms that he used to kill nine people at Umpqua Community College. He wasn’t a criminal. He wasn’t under the care of a physician for a severe mental illness. He didn’t use any sort of outlandish…

Conservatives shouldn’t support Trump

I like the slogan on Donald Trump's hats: "Make America Great Again."The sentiment strikes a chord with most conservatives, who fear that our nation is in the midst of a great decline. A recent article in Fortune magazine highlighted several reasons to worry, noting that some say we're "overstretched militarily, ill-prepared technologically, at-risk financially, or lacking dynamism in the face of influential, new competitors."So when a legendary billionaire comes along promising to reverse all of that, people take notice. Everyone from Alabama's Senator Jeff Sessions to the New England Patriot's Tom Brady have been seen sporting Trump's hat.But while conservatives should certainly support the message, we shouldn't support the man.Before conservative readers dismiss this opinion as just another attack from the Republican Party establishment, know this: I'm one of you – a movement conservative who thinks the party's bosses have wheeled and dealed our nation to the precipice. I regularly write about how the establishment is embarrassingly weak, often at odds with true conservatism, and sometimes even traitorous to the party's own platform.I'm no late-comer, either. When I was 20-years old I briefly left college to work on Pat Buchanan's presidential campaign in 1996 (even then the establishment dismissed his warnings about illegal immigration and ridiculed his proposal for a border fence).To paraphrase Barbara Mandrell, I was tea party when tea party wasn't cool, and I've been in the movement ever since. So you won't see any Bush, Christi, or Kasich bumper stickers on my car. But you won't see any Trump stickers, either.It's not…

What Can We Do About Abortion? Stop Waiting on Washington

Another week. Another video showing Americans what our nation's laws allow – the mutilation, harvesting, and marketing of the butchered remains of murdered babies.The latest hidden video released from the Center for Medical Progress shows a conversation between Dr. Carolyn Westhoff, a medical advisor for Planned Parenthood, and someone pretending to be one of the abortion provider's frequent buyers of dead babies."We've just been working with people who want particular tissues ... they want cardiac, or they want eyes, or they want neural," Westhoff said. "Certainly, everything we provide – oh, gonads! Oh my God, gonads. Everything we provide is fresh." The abortion doctor then added, "Obviously, we would have the potential for a huge P.R. issue in doing this."Deborah Van Derhei, another Planned Parenthood official, admitted that her colleagues "generate a fair amount of income" from harvesting body parts from dead babies. Still, she said it remains an issue "we're not really that comfortable talking about on email," and admitted that the "headlines would be a disaster."Maybe not. One may think headlines like "Dead Babies Sold for Cash" would have a negative impact on their bottom line, but Planned Parenthood is about to emerge from the controversy largely unscathed. Moreover, thanks to an incredibly weak Republican-controlled Congress, the abortion provider will likely fend off any attempts to cut off the millions in taxpayer dollars that fund the group's grotesque enterprise annually."We just don't have the votes to get the outcome that we'd like," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said…

What did 9/11 have to do with the Iraq War? Probably more than you think.

Nearly everyone remembers where they were 14-years ago this morning, on September 11, 2001, the day America was attacked by Al-Qaeda and we were pulled into a war in Afghanistan.Many can remember where they were on March 19, 2003, the day our military invaded Iraq.History has taught that those dates are part of two distinctly separate actions; one was a war of necessity while the other was a war of choice. In retrospect, maybe so, but at the time many Americans sure thought – or felt, rather – that they were part of the same fight.Don’t think so? Well, bear with me for a moment while I try to explain: Imagine for a moment the world’s nations as simply a bunch of guys at a roadside bar. One of them, a man named Mr. America, is a prosperous, healthy, and handsome man. He’s blessed, of course, works hard for his family and is charitable in his community (for instance, he buys drinks for nearly everyone at the bar, even those who dislike him, and every time a fellow patron suffers misfortune, Mr. America is always there to help).So one day Mr. America is having a drink at the bar watching the game on television when someone taps him on the shoulder. He turns around with a smile only to be sucker-punched by Mr. Afghanistan. He falls to the floor, out cold. The music stops, and the bar falls silent. Nobody had done that to Mr. America in decades, and everyone was waiting…