With the nation still deeply in debt and Americans struggling to make ends meet, residents in an Ohio valley are proving to the nation that perseverance and optimism are key ingredients to overcoming economic woes. Mahoning Valley, Ohio, was once a thriving area, but that was before the steel factories were shut down. "The factories no longer spew black smoke into the sky, there are no employees patrolling behind their high metal fences, the lights inside are permanently off and there's an eerie silence all around," Fox News reports. "The buildings stand as large, empty symbols of the industry that used to keep the Mahoning Valley running." Local historian Jim McFarland explains, “This was the center of the steel industry, mostly because of the location, halfway between Pittsburgh and Cleveland, halfway between New York and Chicago — that led to a lot of manufacturing.” That manufacturing resulted in a vast number of jobs in steel plants along the Mahoning and Cayuhoga Rivers, where generations of families were employed.
On Monday, November 21, I was chatting with a longtime acquaintance about the anniversary that would fall the next day, on November 22. On that date 48 years ago, John F. Kennedy was assassinated by ... well, there's the rub. For skeptics, the official version of Lee Harvey Oswald as the lone assassin still rings hollow. But for some reason, my friend asked if I remembered Thanksgiving Day that year, 1963. I said the one thing I remembered on that Thanksgiving, the Thursday after the Friday assassination, was my aunt saying she had heard someone at work say we had nothing to be thankful for that Thanksgiving. I recall my aunt saying, rightly, that we still had much to be thankful for, the death of the President notwithstanding. For one thing, one President was dead and another had taken his place with no further bloodshed. No coup, no putsch, no riots, no soldiers in the street. Just President Johnson casting a pall of moral grayness over the landscape: "Let us continue." But continue toward what? Within hours of Kennedy's assassination we had become a nation transformed, having been a people rather evenly divided about our President a mere thousand days after he had won — with the help of the posthumous vote in Illinois and elsewhere — one of the closest elections in history, to a nation united in the belief that the slain hero was well worthy of canonization and a place of honor on the church as well as the state calendar.
One of our local radio stations is already playing Christmas music full-time. It’s amazing how many songs have been written about Christmas. Most of them are secular, but the most common message they convey is one of family joy, of children and Santa Claus, of remembrance of all the Christmases we enjoyed in the past with loved ones who are no longer with us. So despite the attempts by atheists to ban Christianity from American public life, particularly in the public schools, they cannot eradicate Christmas from family life, let alone the shopping malls. As anyone can see, Christmas has acquired great economic power. And that is because Christianity is at the foundation of our spiritual life and political system. Secular humanism tries to give the impression that Christianity was just a passing phase in American history, and that our culture is advancing into a new secular religion more in keeping with modern values. But the humanist movement cannot remove the need in people’s lives for attachment to their Creator. In recent years we’ve seen a revival of religious fervor in America, particularly in the South where mega-churches have been built to accommodate the large numbers of people who need all the spiritual nourishment they can get.
Governor Rick Perry, so goes the conventional wisdom, is a real conservative. How could he not be? After all, his three terms as governor of Texas has marked a period of spectacular job creation. It has been said that nearly 40 percent of all jobs in the United States at present are to be found in the Lone Star State. In addition to this consideration, there are several others to substantiate the pervasive belief that, from the conservative Republican’s perspective, Perry is the genuine article. If we are to accept Republican Party rhetoric of “constitutionalism,” “limited government,” “individualism,” etc., then what we must determine is whether Perry is the partisan of liberty that, presumably, Republicans should want as their party’s presidential nominee and, ultimately, their President. It is to the end of making this determination that we shall now look at some highlights from Perry’s political career.
My father once told me a story about when he was a boy. He said there was a certain man who every now and again would visit his family and give him 10 cents for an ice cream soda each time. Well, one day this fellow came ‘a callin’, but for some reason, on this occasion the dime wasn’t offered. Being a little tyke who had become accustomed to the gift, my dad asked, “Where’s my 10 cents?” He never got that dime again. The man taught my father a moral lesson: Don’t develop a spirit of entitlement. It’s one that, lamentably, we so often forget to teach today. G.K. Chesterton once said, “Thanks are the highest form of thought.” I do believe he was correct, but why exactly is this so? Let’s explore the mindset of gratitude. An ungrateful heart is an ugly thing. Just think about a spoiled brat who throws a tantrum when not given something he really wants. Or think about people who grow up — but don’t grow out of that state. It may be that person for whom you do a favor who then can’t even manage a “thank you”; or someone who, even though you’ve done him innumerable good turns, won’t lift a finger to reciprocate when you’re in need. We also see this attitude in political protests such as the Occupy Wall Street movement; its members operate under an unabashed assumption that they have a right to the fruits of others’ labors. This, mind you, makes a perversion of charity. For charitable practice is only truly beautiful when the largesse is freely given — and gratefully accepted.
Catholics who believe the federal government should not be able to compel healthcare providers to perform abortions “have this conscience thing” that they really need to overcome, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told the Washington Post recently. Otherwise, she said, women “could die” from a lack of access to abortion services. Pelosi made those remarks in response to a question from the Post concerning her comments on the Protect Life Act (H.R. 358), a bill that passed the House of Representatives in October. That bill was itself a response to an ObamaCare mandate “that would require all private health plans to cover sterilizations and contraceptives, including those that cause abortion, under the broad definition of ‘preventive services,’ ” explains former Colorado Rep. Bob Beauprez in a Townhall.com column. Beauprez continues:
Former employees of the defunct solar company Solyndra are now eligible for a combined $14.3 million in federal aid, the Labor Department announced Monday. Approved through the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program, the 1,100 employees who were laid off after Solyndra went belly up in late August are set to receive payments of about $13,000 each, which will be tacked on to the $535 million in loan guarantees that taxpayers are already on the hook for. TAA is a federal program designed to compensate and bolster American workers who have lost their jobs due to foreign competition. The program offers a variety of reemployment services and training to help participants obtain new jobs and retain wages comparable to their prior employment. The notion that fervent Chinese competition is the sole catalyst to American solar companies’ financial woes has been long touted by congressional Democrats and the Obama administration, particularly as Solyndra’s bankruptcy has placed them in the political hot seat. The Labor Department’s approval of the TAA aid reinforces a trade complaint directed against China by a conglomerate of U.S. solar panel manufacturers, and by granting the assistance the department has seemingly indicated that the allegations hold at least some merit.
From Reuter’s interview with former Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien in August came a much fuller understanding of the forces that moved the Canadian economy from a basket case to a decade of robust growth and budget surpluses. A liberal much in the mold of liberals in the Democrat Party in America, Chretien took over in November 1993 as his country was suffering from high unemployment, a stagnant economy, and increasing interest rates on its national debt. Its ratio of debt-to-GDP was approaching 70 percent while its annual deficits were nearly 6 percent of GDP and increasing. The economy was ranked just above Italy among the Group of Seven, Canada’s peers. As Scott Clark, Chretien’s Deputy Finance Minister put it: “We used to thank God that Italy was there because we were the second worst in the G7.” In a rare interview, Chretien was forthright about what happened to turn the economy around and set the stage for the country’s “Payoff Decade.” He said, “There would have been a day when we would have been the Greece of today. I knew we were in a bind and we had to do something. I said to myself, I will do it. I might be Prime Minister for only one term, but I will do it.”
The teen birth rate reached a historic low in 2010, and while abstinence proponents say the drop is encouraging, they note another CDC report that shows climbing rates of sexually transmitted disease among young people. According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, there were 34.3 births per 1,000 teenagers aged 15-19 in 2010, a drop of nine percent from the previous year and the lowest rate in nearly 70 years of data collection. Reported Reuters News of the CDC statistics: “The birth rate for teens has gone down for the last three years and in 17 out of the last 19 years… In 2010, birth rates also dropped to historic lows for mothers aged 10-14.” “It was really a dramatic one-year decrease,” Bill Albert, spokesman for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, told Reuters, adding that teen pregnancy rates have dropped 44 percent since a 1991 high. “That is extraordinary progress on an issue that many consider intractable and inevitable.”
We frequently hear from the particularly naïve that they want to take the money out of politics. That claim recently resounded from the Occupiers of Wall Street and other locations — apparently so they could keep the loot for themselves, if the $500,000 they raised was any indication. Scratch a Marxist with a bank-roll, and you’ll expose a hypocrite every time. Ditto for politicians. Extracting money from their hot little hands is like prying the BlackBerry from Anthony Weiner’s. Just ain’t gonna happen. Politics is money. Lots and lots of it. Why else would bums with no discernible skills but a burning lust for other people’s hard-earned bucks flock to public office? Consider the average politician. Tragically, he’s born without the sense God gave amoebas — but with a whale-sized ego. How will he ever reconcile the two? Then the whiz-kid hits kindergarten. You remember him: the crybaby everybody hated for tattling on us about everything, all the time.