Annoy a Liberal — Honor Calvin Coolidge on Independence Day

Annoy a Liberal — Honor Calvin Coolidge on Independence Day

True or false, did an American president actually consider one of his greatest accomplishments “minding my own business?” Keep reading. . . One of my favorite July Fourth traditions is remembering the life of our thirtieth president. Calvin Coolidge owns the distinction of being the only chief executive born on this day (July 4, 1872, and serving from 1923-29). Ideally, I would offer a brief biographical sketch followed by a few hundred words of well-crafted praise. But that wouldn’t be fair. . . I’ll offer a little but I don’t want to cheat readers out of the joy of discovering Calvin Coolidge on their own. His legacy is that rich and rewarding. Dr. Steven Hayward, the author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Presidents from Wilson to Obama, grades the presidents primarily on their fidelity to the Constitution, as opposed to legislative advancements. He gives Silent Cal an A+ — the only president to win that honor! Most other historians would rather fawn over those leaders (Woodrow Wilson, FDR and, sorry, conservatives, Teddy Roosevelt) who grew the size and scope of the federal government. Coolidge, when he is mentioned at all, is remembered as a moral but ineffective leader who slept his presidency away. Coolidge was, indeed, a creature of routine. A country lawyer from Plymouth Notch, Vermont and later governor of Massachusetts, he exemplified, both in word and deed, those time-honored traits of self-reliance, hard work and living within your means. A man of simplicity and no pretense, he is among the last of those who recognized the limitations of presidential power, seeing the overreach of the federal...
Are Words More Harmful Than Actions? A Contrarian’s View

Are Words More Harmful Than Actions? A Contrarian’s View

With all the talk of violent rhetoric inspiring real bloodshed, the recent manslaughter conviction of Michelle Carter in Massachusetts just adds fuel to the controversy. Granted, the case of Carter, now twenty, who urged her boyfriend, Conrad Roy III, to take his own life, is not the same as violent political speech, but the question remains: can words kill? Most conservatives don’t think so, including Rush Limbaugh in a recent rant. But one can also make the case that words do kill, and those whose language is hateful and lethal should be held accountable. Limbaugh adamantly opposed the verdict and hoped that it would be overturned. This sets a dangerous precedent, he said, given that Carter was miles away, urging Roy on via texts. The young man was responsible for his own death. Her behavior was reprehensible, according to Limbaugh, but he went on to lampoon the idea that according to liberals, Roy was a victim. Limbaugh has always been a vocal proponent of the idea that individuals should be held accountable for their actions, and not blame them on the words or persuasion of others. That is, indeed, a hallmark of conservative thought. On the other hand, a hallmark of civilized thought, accepted by everyone but the occasional grenade-thrower, is that you can’t yell ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater. In other words, say pretty much what you want, but not if your words cause immediate, foreseeable harm. Some will argue that the ‘crowded theater’ analogy doesn’t work well here since Carter was not urging a mob to mass violence. True, but to the extent that the analogy does...
Lessons From the Movies: How Much Freedom is Too Much?

Lessons From the Movies: How Much Freedom is Too Much?

It was recently announced that actress, Diane Keaton, will receive this year’s American Film Institute Lifetime Achievement Award. Just as an aside, I submit that Keaton, as much as Meryl Streep, could hold the title of America’s premiere film actress. Keaton has worked nonstop since her debut in 1970, proving herself adept at both comedy and drama, with her films which include ‘The Godfather’ trilogy raked in over $1 billion. She’s never been tabloid fodder or preachy, always known for her work (OK, and her quirky demeanor and baggy clothes). Reviewing her career, however, an odd, depressing film from 1977 haunts viewers even today and raises important questions that still demand answers. 1977, of course, was her banner year, bringing an Oscar for Woody Allen’s ‘Annie Hall.’ This is a comic masterpiece, with jabs at Hollywood, pompous intellectuals, and observations on life and love. The talented Keaton could just as easily have won for ‘Looking for Mr. Goodbar’ (the title taken from a nightspot, not a candy bar), a dusty, dated, R-rated drama set in the dark underworld of the sexually liberated 70s.  Keaton played a dedicated teacher of deaf students by day and a bar-hopping sexual adventuress (and serious drug user) by night. [*Spoilers and adult themes follow*] Taken from a novel and based on a real-life case, ‘Goodbar’ vividly recreated the sexually promiscuous cesspool of urban America, with only the soundtrack, a collection of mid-70s dance hits, offering any sense of pleasure or release. By film’s end, Keaton’s character, having already slept with a string of lowlifes, is brutally murdered in her final encounter. Forty years later, pop...
Save Our Confederate Monuments

Save Our Confederate Monuments

Just north of Fayetteville, NC, off Interstate 95, motorists cannot miss the sight of a giant Confederate flag. Planted on rural private property near the county line, it has, predictably, raised a degree of controversy. Should its display be considered an act of offense or a defensive move by citizens trying to save their culture from the whitewash of political correctness? Far beyond symbols, the PC left is destroying the bonds of camaraderie and shared sacrifice that have united Americans since, roughly, the end of the Civil War. New Orleans, a city ridiculously rich with culture, history, and tradition, last week removed yet another statue of a Confederate leader, continuing their march toward a bland, non-threatening vision of history and of life. The point here is not to re-fight the Civil War. These are not the ravings of a Confederate loyalist that the South will rise again (though I submit – proudly- that we already have!). But neither is it my intent to avoid any fact of history that challenges prevailing orthodoxy.  All northerners were not noble, kind-hearted abolitionists; (the ravings of General Sherman alone would warm the heart of any segregationist today!). All Southerners were not evil, slave-owning racists. In fact, the vast majority of Southerners did not own slaves. Poor young farmers did not give their lives to preserve the institution of slavery, but rather to save their homeland from what they saw as an armed invasion.  Slavery and its shameful legacy will always stain our Southern, and, thus, American heritage, but history does not always offer a clear-cut, epic battle pitting Mother Teresa against Hitler. The...
The Psychology of Poverty

The Psychology of Poverty

Poverty in America is typically discussed as just another political issue, in cold, abstract terms, culminating in a liberal position or the conservative one. Forget policy – poverty’s most compelling aspect, driving everything from social planning to health care, is psychology. The political class knows this and uses it to their advantage. I have never known poverty, only financial hardship. Still, rolling nickels and dimes to pay the power bill affects your mindset in ways you don’t consciously realize. At some point, well before homelessness, the financially disadvantaged begin to perceive their problems as personal failings. In a culture that constantly urges us to spend-spend-spend and where friends and relatives flaunt their new cars and vacations, certainly, I must be doing something wrong. I work hard, I save money – maybe I’m just a failure as a person. That mindset, of course, just feeds on itself and leads to social and personal disaster. Yes, lifestyle choices do affect economic well-being, and some individuals do require a hard lesson in their day-to-day choices. In a society that loathes ‘judgmentalism,’ perhaps a few stern reminders of the importance of staying in school, getting married before starting a family, and spending wisely would be in order. Society always seeks a balance between understanding and tough love. Our choices do matter, but at the same time, someone who is just going through a rough patch, whether through job loss or illness, hates being told that “you made poor life choices–” one of my pet peeves. It is hard to tailor a message fit for everyone in poverty. Some people just need a little...
Health Care Reform – Ask Consumers, Not the ‘Experts’

Health Care Reform – Ask Consumers, Not the ‘Experts’

According to progressives, health care is a right. But it is no less a commodity like food and housing. The markets for these life-sustaining goods respond to consumer demand. Why doesn’t Congress allow the health care market to do the same? The answer begs a larger discussion of policy and the political class controlling the masses by way of controlling their health care. The average American, however, finds his or her own needs more urgent. It’s about what to do if a catastrophe strikes. It’s about our day-to-day struggles. It’s time to tune out the experts and pundits. We don’t need statistics and policy papers. Anecdotal evidence will do just fine, and I am here to pile it on. My job, complete with benefits and health coverage, was a casualty of the Great Recession. But even with subsequent part-time and low-wage employment, I managed to afford a policy for myself for just over $100 a month. However, I was soon informed that, due to “changes brought by the Affordable Care Act,” my policy was no longer available. I was offered the nearest “equivalent” policy for $400 a month. Eventually, I was left with a subsidized Obama-care policy that would pay only under the most catastrophic circumstances. While health insurance need not cover every stubbed toe or insect bite, is it asking too much that a policy kicks in some time before an amputation or open heart surgery? Fortunately, with hard work and perseverance, even some part-time employers will offer coverage (while you pray that nothing happens before your eligibility date). But therein lies my beef with health insurance in...