Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Resurrecting the Fairness Doctrine

Senator Diane Feinstein (D-CA) recently remarked that it was time bring back the Fairness Doctrine, the old regulation that used to require broadcasts to provide equal airtime for opposing political viewpoints. As an editorial from the Examiner points out today, this idea is utterly ridiculous. (Hat tip: Power Line)

The Fiarness Doctrine was a product of a different broadcasting era. Talk radio, cable news, blogs, and the internet had not even been invented yet. The only sources of broadcast news besides commercial radio stations were the three major broadcast networks. National Public Radio had not been created until 1970. Any balanced presentation of political viewpoints needed to be guaranteed by government regulation.

But the proliferation of media outlets, particularly on cable and the Internet has made the Fairness Doctrine obsolete. No longer does a citizen have to rely on very limited sources of information.

The real motive behind the move to resurrect the Fairness Doctrine has absolutely nothing to do with fairness. Because liberals (i.e. Democrats) have been unable to successfully compete with the likes of conservative talk radio stars such as Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity they want to rely on government regulation.

And as the Examiner points out, if Democrats succeed in bringing back the Fairness Doctrine to talk radio they won't stop there. Then they'll target television and the Internet, also. Given their dislike for Fox News, how long would it be before they figure out a way to put them out of business through government regulation?

The bottom line is this: when Democrats can't compete whether it's in talk radio or the arena of ideas, they always go back to government regulation as a way to impose their will on the American people. It's unlikely that this time they will be able to succeed.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Supreme Court Rules on Faith-Based Initiatives

The Supreme Court today ruled in the case of Hein vs. Freedom From Religion Foundation which challenged the constitutionality of President Bush's Office of Faith Based Initiatives. The Court dismissed the suit stating that the plantiffs in the case, Freedom From Religion Foundation, didn't have the proper standing to bring the suit.

The ruling is interesting because it doesn't necessarily address whether the President's faith-based initiatives are constitutional. Rather, the argument focused on a narrow issue in Establishment Clause litigation: under what circumstances can an individual or group bring suit against the federal government to halt funding of government program that seems to run afoul of the First Amendment.

Generally speaking, an individual taxpayer cannot bring suit against the government for any reason. However, there is a specific exception that was created by the Supreme Court in its 1968 ruling Flast vs. Cohen. That case requires that the program in question is the direct result of congressional funding.

The Court, in deciding the case, determined that because the Office of Faith-Based Initiatives is funded by the Executive Branch than directly by Congress there was no cause of action under Faust.

While the result will be applauded by conservatives, the Court has again opted to punt on dealing with the more serious issue of whether the Faust exception is constitutional at all. In the end, while the Court may have settled this case they have left the door open for more of this type of litigation to come from separatist groups. One can only hope that the Court can find the way to provide clearer guidance on these and other difficult constitutional questions.

Friday, June 22, 2007

There's No Such Thing as an "Ex-Marine"

My uncle, who served in the U. S. Marine Corps, often tells me that there is no such thing as an "ex-Marine". My dad, who was an Air Force man, always told me the same thing. This story proves there is no such thing as an "ex-Marine".

Hat tip: Hugh Hewitt

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Interview: Fox and Friends' Brian Kilmeade

Brian Kilmeade is a busy guy these days. He's a co-host of Fox and Friends on the Fox News Channel, co-hosts Brian and the Judge with Andrew Napolitano on Fox News Radio and writes books in his spare time. His second book, It's How You Play The Game, has just been published by Regan Books. I caught up with him in Washington, D. C. while he was on the first leg of his book tour.

You’re co-hosting a television show and radio show on a daily basis and writing books on the side. How do you find time to do all of that?

I think that I am just as busy as everybody else, but I have the advantage of being more structured. I really have no control of my schedule until noon. I get up at 2:30. I’m out the door at 2:50. From that time until noon, I really have no say in my schedule. Then I do a quick video blog at 12:15, which is on Fox I pick three or four sports stories and comment on them a day, and then I am really free to do what I want. When I am not writing a book or my book tour is done, I can pick up my kids from school, I can run track, I can go watch them play, attend practice with them, have a catch, or bring them to the doctor. So the only thing I sacrifice is sleep and that’s about it.

Tell us about It’s How You Play the Game. How did the idea for this book come about?

With my first book, The Games Do Count, I wanted to start with people like myself but were more accomplished, but really had the same sports experience as me. That is you gave everything, but you didn’t become Joe Montana, you did not become Cal Ripken, so did you waste your time? That’s why the games do count because they do count even if not in the wins and loss columns, because they do count to you. Then I found out from talking to the President, and talking to John Kerry, and the 73 other people I interviewed that they were passionate about what they did in sports, but no they don’t really have the trophy shelf to reflect an accomplishment. This happened, that happened, that’s why I am glad I played, this is why I still watch today. I thought, wow, this is pretty unbelievable. Then I started getting letters, hand-written letters, from people that would tell me about their coaches. They would say, “I was reading your book, and I was reminded to call my soccer coach, call my football coach, to thank my dad for being my coach. Then I started signing books and going on book tours. I got almost nothing for an advance. I am not Sean Hannity or Bill O’Reilly, so I don’t have this huge name, but I am at a great place, on a great show. The minute the book started selling on its own, then they toured me, and I had a chance to talk to people. No one talked about wins or championships, or even great moments. They talked about how proud they were that they tried and the glory in the effort. Then I got handwritten letters to go along with the e-mail. So I sat down Judith Regan who is a genius, and she said “Brian, ethics and values would have sold your book, not sports”, and I said, “I agree.” I said that I wanted get history involved, and I wanted to be able to write about George Patton, Abraham Lincoln, John Wayne, and Gene Kelly because I know in researching that they played and played hard and that they just happened to die, so I couldn’t interview them. I also wanted to find a way to humanize superstars, and let people know that we are just like them, like you and I are just like Joe Montana, Steve Young, Mugsy Bogues, Shawn Elliott and Jerry West. And the way to do that is to tell them how they developed. I didn’t care how they got good. I cared about how they learned character, values, and ethics.

So I just said how did you learn how to play, how did you learn how to act, how did you learn how to coach. From Terry Bradshaw on down, no one brought me to the Super Bowl, and I was not that interested. Terry Bradshaw would say, “Brian, the first thing that I did well was 5th Grade throwing the ball into a rug.” Cal Ripken said to me, “I learned leadership because my dad, after playing with him all day and saw him running every clinic, at the end of the day would look me in the eye and say Cal, I am leaving, you are the man of the house now. He looked at us and gave us the responsibility.”

I thought if I could share those stories with people, they will think that they are like Joe Montana. I am like Cal Ripken, and I can relate to these stories and maybe I shouldn’t quit, maybe I should follow through. Maybe the fact that I am on the base [promoting the book] does not make me a loser, it makes me like Rush Limbaugh, and it makes me like Senator Bob Dole. I wanted to get people-relevance to their own view in coaching and playing career.

It’s interesting that through all of these stories, nobody talked about winning as being the real key to their success.

Gene Kelly said it best through his son. “My Dad always told me that you have to do everything you can to win, but you can’t be caught up in just winning. It is so much more than just winning. What you have an obligation to do is to do everything you can to win, within the rules, but you cannot grade yourself on the outcome. If you did then that means that there are 9,000,000 losers every day. You are not a loser if the game did not come out your way. What are you going to learn from it?”

I also want to tell you, if you get The Games You Count or It’s How You Play the Game, you are not going to get a bunch of great stories that put a smile on your face. You are going to get some people that will tell you stories that make you cringe because they show arrogance, they showed a lack of gumption, but they learn from that. They regret it, and they gave themselves another chance, and they said, “I will not repeat that behavior.”

After The Games Do Count, I wanted to get away [from sports]. I love history and I picked up “Patton” and said I am going to read it. I get to page 45, and there are letters from George Patton writing home to his dad lamenting the fact that he can’t break the line at West Point as a linebacker, and how am I ever going to get in the game against Navy to fulfill my dreams? Wait a second. George Patton was frustrated at self-doubt, and he felt that he had no control over his future or wasn’t tough enough to play? A lot of people want to write themselves off or their kids off because they don’t seem to be amounting to anything. Well, George Patton and Abraham Lincoln were not amounting to much for a long time. I thought if I could put history in there, and also the fact that I have these letters, I said to myself there might be an adequate sequel to The Games Do Count that would get me just as passionate to do it.

One of things I noticed in some of the stories you tell is that the Dads made a real difference in a lot these folks lives. Did you find that a common thread through some of these stories and learn from it as a Dad, too?

I have learned that (1) I will not be the type of Dad that says my 9 year old doesn’t want to baseball so he won’t. I will push them to do stuff, and then give them a chance, after a season, to make their choice. Kids at 9 years old aren’t equipped to make that decision. I want a kid, active and taking part, and showing his dedication, showing up on time and going through it. If I had a kid that loved music and just wanted to do plays, I would bring him every day and do something after school that requires you to work outside. However, I will say this, I have learned that the wrong thing to do is to live through your kids. I think you should give your kid every opportunity to be successful, and also if you can possibly get your kids motivated to the point that they want to practice whatever they do outside of the sport, I think if you have a future Hall of Fame, business person, social worker, whatever it is, so that they can show that type of self-motivation early, that’s tremendous, and that is what I was trying to instill. That’s what I do to my 10 year old. I want them to say that I have got to get better, and it is going to be alone in my backyard. Instead of hanging out with friends at night, I am going out in the backyard and throw a ball against the pitch back or against the wall because if you have those traits, there is no doubt in my mind that you are going to be OK in college and any career.

(2) I think fun is important. A lot times you can have fun giving it your all, sweating and showing emotion, but that’s fun. Walking around not caring doesn’t really help anybody. I am talking about youth sports.

I’ll give you an example: Joe Montana – his story was great – he was playing against his dad, and he used to play one on one basketball against his dad. “I lot of times I would beat him, but my dad would throw me to the ground, step on my foot, trip me from behind, and when I complained, he asked me to call a ref, or go inside. I was just determined to not to let him get to me. I was determined to beat him. And I also learned that day, that time, that no one is going to save me. Deal with it. The ref’s bad, the crowds are bad, the conditions are bad, the coach did not put me in. Find a way.” Joe Montana found a way, all of the time at the 49ers, but I wasn’t interested in the pro career. I wanted to find out how he found out that he had to find a way.

Just imagine how different his career would have been had it not been for finding that way.

Mickey Mantle said something that is not in my book, but I met Mickey Mantle’s sons, and they said that he said,” I look at one of my sons, and he was Mickey, Jr., and if had my dad as a dad, he would have been a Major League star.” But Mickey, the next generation, was caught up in drinking, not in being a dad like his dad, who was a coal miner, passed away young, who was determined that he saw something in Mickey and he was determined to fulfill the challenge. Mickey said, “I let me sons down because I was not as determined for them to fulfill their talent.” I think as a parent, you have an obligation to allow your kid to find out, I hope, find out what they are good at, what they like, and pursue it hard. I think even if you go through school and don’t do it, as long as you learn what you did wrong, you will have a second chance. That is what this book says. It is not about leading these majestic lives that you want to emulate, but it is about famous people who have had the same struggles you had, and managed to persevere.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Book Review: Ten Tortured Words

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion..."
- First Amendment of the United States Constitution

The words seem so straightforward and simple. Yet no other part of the Constitution of the United States is so misunderstood and misconstrued as the First Amendment, particularly the first ten words which deal with freedom of religion. Bestselling author Stephen Mansfield delves into the history of the amendment that has caused more uproar and more court battles than any other in his outstanding new book Ten Tortured Words: How the Founding Fathers Tried to Protect Religion in America...and What's Happened Since.

Mansfield, who has spent many years working on behalf of religious liberty all over the world, starts with a careful examination of the Founders original intent in crafing the First Amendment. He takes the reader back inside the debates within the Constitutional Convention and the amendment is being debated. By relying on the transcripts from the Convention, he shares the Founders thoughts in their own words. As the original intent behind the amendment is revealed it is easy to see how these ten words have been so twisted over time.

But the story doesn't just end there. In fact, the drafting of the amendment is really only the beginning of the story. Mansfield moves on to a detailed examination of the man whose words in a private letter have become the basis for almost all battles over religious liberty in the United States for the past sixty years: Thomas Jefferson.

On January 1, 1802, Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association of Connecticut. The Danbury Baptists had written to Jefferson regarding concerns they had about the government's role in religion. Jefferson's reply included a phrase that has since become familiar to many Americans: "a wall of separation between church and state". Although Jefferson's intent was to simply emphasize that the First Amendment prohibited the federal government from establishing any particular religion (similar to the Church of England in Britain), many courts have taken the phrase to mean that the government should not have any role in religion and vice versa.

It was the Supreme Court, in the case of Everson vs. Board of Education (1947) that would first use the "wall of separation" phrase. What's most interesting about this decision is not so much the case itself (although the case is quoted in the appendices and reveals the convoluted logic the Court used to arrive at its decision) but the personalities behind the case, particularly Justice Hugo Black who authored the decision.

Perhaps most surprising is the chapter on the ACLU and their involvement in First Amendment litigation. Many readers will no doubt be shocked to learn how the ACLU has turned this type of litigation into a profit-making endeavor by taking advantage of loopholes in current civil rights statutes.

Ten Tortured Words brings history alive through its engaging narrative. Mansfield avoids the trap of getting bogged down in legalese in discussing the court cases and instead focuses as much attention on the personalities involved in the battles. As a result, it is a highly entertaining and informative book.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Learning from Failure

Last Friday, I went to take an exam for a class I had been working on through my job. I had been putting quite a bit of time and effort into it in the week leading up tot he exam but really hadn't adequately prepared. It came as no surprise to me that I didn't pass. Although the grade report after the exam siad "non-pass" I knew the reality of the situation. I had failed.

A couple of things stood out to me about this experience. First, I was a little offended by the "non-pass" grade. The report should have said that I failed. After all, I hadn't answered neough of the questions correctly. Why is there a pathological fear in our society of telling someone they have failed? Most of it, I think, has to do with the inflated importance we put on an individual's self-esteem. By avoiding the use of the word failure we think we are helping the individual to not think less of themselves.

The key in dealing with the disappointments that come at us in life is in our attitude. We can either choose to be beaten down by failure or we can choose to succeed in spite of past shortcomings. Thomas Edison said it best when he said "I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work." In other words, he didn't allow lack of success to deter him from his goals. He learned from his failures and kept on working until he achieved success in whatever he was working on.

As Dads, we need to be setting the example for our kids in how we cope with failures and disappointments. Yes, my kids got to see their dad not succeed at something he had worked at. But what they will also see is that I'm not going to give up and work even harder to make sure the next time I face this same problem that I succeed.

Winston Churchill once said that "Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts." If my children can see courage in me through my failures then the pain of the failures will have all be worthwhile.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

D-Day Prayer

Today marks the anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy, June 6, 1944, which marked the turning point of World War II. On that day, President Franklin D. Roosevelt went on the radio and prayed for the troops. It's worth looking back on this prayer as it is one that is as relevant today as it was sixty-three years ago:

My Fellow Americans:
Last night, when I spoke with you about the fall of Rome, I knew at that moment that troops of the United States and our Allies were crossing the Channel in another and greater operation. It has come to pass with success thus far.

And so, in this poignant hour, I ask you to join with me in prayer:

Almighty God: Our sons, pride of our nation, this day have set upon a mighty endeavor, a struggle to preserve our Republic, our religion, and our civilization, and to set free a suffering humanity.

Lead them straight and true; give strength to their arms, stoutness to their hearts, steadfastness in their faith.

They will need Thy blessings. Their road will be long and hard. For the enemy is strong. He may hurl back our forces. Success may not come with rushing speed, but we shall return again and again; and we know that by Thy grace, and by the righteousness of our cause, our sons will triumph.

They will be sore tried, by night and by day, without rest -- until the victory is
won. The darkness will be rent by noise and flame. Men's souls will be shaken with the violences of war.

For these men are lately drawn from the ways of peace. They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate. They fight to let justice arise, and tolerance and goodwill among all Thy people. They yearn but for the end of battle, for their return to the haven of home.

Some will never return. Embrace these, Father, and receive them, Thy heroic servants, into Thy kingdom.

And for us at home -- fathers, mothers, children, wives, sisters, and brothers of brave men overseas, whose thoughts and prayers are ever with them -- help us, Almighty God, to rededicate ourselves in renewed faith in Thee in this hour of great sacrifice.

Many people have urged that I call the nation into a single day of special prayer. But because the road is long and the desire is great, I ask that our people devote themselves in a continuance of prayer. As we rise to each new day, and again when each day is spent, let words of prayer be on our lips, invoking Thy help to our efforts.

Give us strength, too -- strength in our daily tasks, to redouble the contributions we make in the physical and the material support of our armed forces.

And let our hearts be stout, to wait out the long travail, to bear sorrows that may come, to impart our courage unto our sons wheresoever they may be.

And, O Lord, give us faith. Give us faith in Thee; faith in our sons; faith in each other; faith in our united crusade. Let not the keeness of our spirit ever be dulled. Let not the impacts of temporary events, of temporal matters of but fleeting moment -- let not these deter us in our unconquerable purpose.

With Thy blessing, we shall prevail over the unholy forces of our enemy. Help us to conquer the apostles of greed and racial arrogances. Lead us to the saving of our country, and with our sister nations into a world unity that will spell a sure peace -- a peace invulnerable to the schemings of unworthy men. And a peace that will let all of men live in freedom, reaping the just rewards of their honest toil.

Thy will be done, Almighty God.


Franklin D. Roosevelt - June 6, 1944