Category Archives: American life

The case for human rights, freedom

fireworks2In recognition of Independence Day and the courage of our Founding Fathers, we have published the Declaration of Independence in The Eagle and online. Spend a few minutes reflecting upon its words and the case for human rights and freedom.

Lincoln said so much with so few words

lincolnSeven score and 10 years ago, Abraham Lincoln showed how much could be said with so few words. His Gettysburg Address – delivered Nov. 19, 1863, at the dedication of the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, Pa. – lasted just more than two minutes. Despite its brevity, the address movingly reminded the nation of the ideals of its founding. It also called on the living to honor those who died. And it expressed the urgency of ensuring that “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.” The only thing Lincoln got wrong was his statement that “the world will little note, nor long remember what we say here.”

Merry Christmas

Christmas greeting to all you bloggers. Though the shooting in Newtown, Conn., has left many people saddened, and economic struggles continue for many, may the peace, comfort and hope of this season be felt by all.

Happy Thanksgiving

The release this month of Steven Spielberg’s movie “Lincoln” has put the spotlight back on our nation’s 16th president, an Eagle editorial notes. In addition to helping push through Congress the 13th Amendment outlawing slavery, President Lincoln also set apart the last Thursday of November as a national “day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” Even in the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln realized that our nation had much to be thankful for – as is also the case today.

Remember Pearl Harbor

“Dec. 7, 1941, may be a day that ‘will live in infamy,’ but that month, those years, that war revealed an American character still on display in our military today, though it’s somewhat lacking in our civilian population.” — columnist Cal Thomas on today’s 70th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Happy Thanksgiving

Our Opinion pages today include the proclamation President Lincoln issued Oct. 3, 1863, to officially set apart the last Thursday of November as a national “day of Thanksgiving and Praise.” Even in the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln realized that our nation had much to be thankful for, and he recognized the source of those blessings. His words have fresh meaning today, when it is easy to become discouraged by economic struggles and political divisions.

Does Prohibition show that U.S. should legalize drugs?

Ken Burns’ excellent documentary on the Prohibition is prompting calls to end America’s War on Drugs and legalize drugs. But Kevin A. Sabet, a former senior policy adviser to President Obama’s drug czar, contends that “if our experience with legal alcohol provides us with any lessons for drug policy, it is this: We have little reason to believe that the benefits of drug legalization would outweigh its costs.” He also argues: “It is wrongheaded to think that the only choices we have in drug policy are a punitive approach centered exclusively on enforcement, or one based on careless legalization. Neither has ever worked particularly well.” Meanwhile, the October issue of Libertarian-focused Reason magazine has a cover story lamenting that, despite his pot-smoking youth, Obama turned out to be just another drug warrior. Its headline: “Bummer.”

Saggy pants not City Council’s problem

It’s OK that Vice Mayor Lavonta Williams wants to hear what her constituents think about young people wearing pants or skirts that droop below their waists. But the Wichita City Council should not follow in the footsteps of Albany, Ga., which passed an ordinance banning saggy pants. The fashion fad is not the City Council’s problem to solve. Williams agrees. Meanwhile, young people should realize that, instead of looking cool, they are “lookin’ like a fool” with their pants on the ground.

Divorce gap between cities, rural areas disappearing

Forty years ago, divorced people were more concentrated in cities and suburbs, but now rural Americans are just as likely to be divorced as city dwellers, the New York Times reported. One reason for the change is that college-educated Americans are now more likely to stay married than those with only a high school diploma, and 1 in 6 rural residents has a college degree, while 1 in 3 city residents does.

Other presidents worthy of day off?

Has any president since George Washington earned a federal holiday marking his birthday? (Abraham Lincoln’s Feb. 12 birthday is usually lumped in with Presidents Day, the unofficial name of the federal Washington’s Birthday holiday). In a Rasmussen Reports survey, 27 percent of respondents said they believe Ronald Reagan (Feb. 6) should be next in line for such an honor, with 20 percent endorsing a John F. Kennedy (May 29) holiday, 14 percent picking Thomas Jefferson (April 13) and 9 percent picking Franklin Roosevelt (Jan. 30). Twenty-eight percent said the nation has too many federal holidays as it is.

Why 2010 made us sick

In his annual year in review, humorist Dave Barry declared that 2010 was “the worst year ever” — narrowly beating out the end of the Cretaceous Period, when Earth was struck by an asteroid that wiped out about 75 percent of all of the species on the planet. The reasons 2010 was so bad include the BP oil spill, vuvuzelas, “Jersey Shore” and a host of concerns overseas, including North Korea, which Barry said “continued to show why it is known as ‘the international equivalent of Charlie Sheen.’”

Bumper stickers that never will be

bumperstickersAs the nation was voting Tuesday, Twitter users were conjuring up “Bumper Stickers No One Has.” Among the suggestions: “My child was left behind.” “Save the bedbugs.” “Obstructionists for progress.” “Dukakis 2012.” “I voted for health care reform!” “Honk if you love jihad.” “Please tread on me.” “Team JarJar.”

To know state fairs is to know America

statefairswineNoting that state fairs are struggling such that Michigan even abandoned its fair tradition for budget reasons, Tony Woodlief prepared for his family’s annual trek to the Kansas State Fair by writing an appreciation of fairgoing for the Wall Street Journal. A taste: “Fairs embody our roots in agriculture, entrepreneurship and rabble-rousing. Where else can you, in a matter of minutes, buy a tractor, ride a camel, sample the latest in waterless car-washing technology, marvel over a 20-pound cucumber and then saunter a few hundred feet to hear Hank Williams Jr. belt out ‘Family Tradition’? Let’s face it: no matter how sophisticated we become, a life-size statue of Elvis sculpted from 800 pounds of butter will always fascinate us. And if you don’t understand this, then I’m afraid you don’t understand America.”

Who was ‘we’ in civil rights movement?

beck,glenn2“This is a moment .æ.æ. that I think we reclaim the civil rights movement. It has been so distorted and so turned upside down. . . . We are on the right side of history. We are on the side of individual freedoms and liberties and damn it, we will reclaim the civil rights moment. We will take that movement, because we were the people that did it in the first place!” Glenn Beck said this three months ago in promoting his Restoring Honor rally this Saturday at the Lincoln Memorial. The “we” references didn’t go over well with columnist Leonard Pitts. “Beck’s contention that his ‘we’ were the architects of the civil rights movement is worse than nonsensical, worse than mendacious, worse than shameless,” Pitts wrote. “It is obscene. It is theft of legacy. It is robbery of martyrs’ graves.”

Reflect on words of founders

flagamericanToo many people think of the Declaration of Independence in the simple terms of “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” But it represents so much more. The Declaration expresses the will of a brave group of Americans who put their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor on the line to fight a monarchy that saw the oppression of its subjects as a divine right. We’ve published the Declaration of Independence on today’s Opinion page. If you haven’t read it in a while, you might spend a few minutes reflecting upon the words of our nation’s founders as they made their case for human rights and freedom.

No apologies necessary for displaying American flag

flagamericanShould those five high school kids in the San Francisco area apologize for wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo — an act that got them sent home? No, wrote Tom Bevan of RealClearPolitics. “Americans are increasingly fed up with the racially divisive, politically correct insanity pulsating through the country today,” he wrote. “After years of being pressured and browbeaten by the left-wing PC police about what they can say, do, think and wear, many Americans have had enough. And they’re especially furious with being asked to apologize for things that aren’t or shouldn’t be in the least bit offensive. The idea that high school kids anywhere in America would be called the principal’s office — let alone that they would be asked whether they should apologize — for wearing clothes bearing the image of the United States flag, is a perfect case in point.”

Be selfish by helping other people

giving“Brain scans by neuroscientists confirm that altruism carries its own rewards,” columnist Nicholas Kristof wrote. When research subjects are encouraged to think of giving money to a charity, parts of their brains light up that are normally associated with selfish pleasures like eating or sex. Kristof concluded: “So at a time of vast needs, from Haiti to our own cities, here’s a nice opportunity for symbiosis: so many afflicted people, and so much benefit to us if we try to help them.”

Happy despite the bad news

happyDespite all the bad news this year and over the past decade, 78 percent of Americans said they were very happy or somewhat happy, according to a new AP-GfK poll. “If happiness is the point,” Kevin Huffman wrote in the Washington Post, “four in five Americans already are on the right track, and that should make all of us more optimistic about the decade to come.”

Phill Kline, movie critic

avatarFormer Kansas Attorney General Phill Kline, who now teaches law in Lynchburg, Va., saw “Avatar” and went away more than unimpressed, calling its visuals stunning but its story “borrowed” and its message “shallow and false.” Writing on the Web site Renew America, Kline said: “The only way to reconcile a godless Darwinistic worldview with a deeply spiritual American culture is to convert environmentalism into religion.” He saw the planet Eywa’s warriors as “Freudian expressions of the left’s desire for that all-powerful environmental protecting global police force,” concluding, “Call me unenlightened, but when I see a Marine battle an anvil-headed beast called forth by a planet-god — I root for the U.S. Marine.”

Happy Bill of Rights Day

mason,georgeOn this 218th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, Americans continue to cherish — and debate — the rights to speak, worship, assemble peacefully, petition the government; to own guns and private property; to avoid self-incrimination and unreasonable search and seizure; and to have a fair, speedy trial by an impartial jury of their peers and with the benefit of counsel. Virginia planter George Mason surely would be proud to know that the declaration of rights he championed not only endures today but gets a workout daily in our courts, legislative chambers and public square.

Good riddance to painful decade

thumbsdownTime magazine has declared the ’00s the “decade from hell” and welcomed its passing: “Bookended by 9/11 at the start and a financial wipeout at the end, the first 10 years of this century will very likely go down as the most dispiriting and disillusioning decade Americans have lived through in the post-World War II era.” As the century approaches its teens, Time concluded, “It’s likely that China will continue to grow faster than the U.S., and we may continue to see our global dominance erode. But very significantly, we still hold many of the world’s trump cards. We still have the world’s strongest military, which means we can and must lead in maintaining order and crafting peace. We are the leaders in technological innovation. And we are still the nation that most others emulate.”

Greatest Generation showed great modesty

vjdayColumnist David Brooks recently listened to a rebroadcast of the “Command Performance” radio program that aired the day World War II ended. He was struck by the humility shown on the day of that great victory — and how that contrasted with society today, citing Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” shout, Kanye West’s MTV awards interruption and Michael Jordan’s Hall of Fame speech as recent examples of “self-indulgent expression.” Brooks wrote: “A display of mass modesty, like the kind represented on the V-J Day ‘Command Performance,’ comes as something of a refreshing shock, a glimpse into another world. It’s funny how the nation’s mood was at its most humble when its actual achievements were at their most extraordinary.”

Video of Kanye West as Joe Wilson

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Here’s a short YouTube video that mixes Rep. Joe Wilson’s “You lie!” outburst with Kanye West’s interruption during the MTV Video Music Awards. President Obama reportedly called West a “jackass” in an off-the-record comment this week.

Top 10 joys of state fairs

statefair_sartoreNational Geographic’s July issue has an article on state fairs by Garrison Keillor. It includes photos from state fairs in six states, including Kansas, by former Eagle photographer Joel Sartore. Among Keillor’s “Ten Chief Joys of the State Fair” are:
— “To eat food with your two hands.”
— “To see the art of salesmanship, of barking, hustling, touting, and see how effectively it works on others and not on cool you.”
— “To watch the judging of livestock.”
— “To sit down and rest amid the turmoil and reconsider the meaning of life.”

Red states aren’t all that family friendly

xxxsign1“According to the Census Bureau’s Statistical Abstract, states that went Republican in November accounted for eight of the 10 states with the highest divorce rates in 2006,” columnist Charles Blow wrote. “. . . According to 2006 data from the Guttmacher Institute, those red states accounted for eight of the 10 states with the highest teenage birthrates. And, a study titled ‘Red Light States: Who Buys Online Adult Entertainment?’. . . found that subscriptions to online pornography sites were ‘more prevalent in states where surveys indicate conservative positions on religion, gender roles, and sexuality’ and in states where more people agree that ‘I have old-fashioned values about family and marriage.’”