"Public virtue cannot exist in a nation without private, and public virtue is the only foundation of republics." --John Adams
Government & Politics
A 'Gutsy Call' on Same-Sex Marriage
"I think same-sex couples should be able to get married," Barack Obama told ABC News Wednesday. Media lemmings and Democrats -- but we repeat ourselves -- fawned over this "evolution" in Obama's thought on the subject, calling his statement brave, principled and, as The New York Times put it, "strong national leadership." That this was a "gutsy call" could not be further from the truth.
The only thing one could construe as "brave" about Obama's predictable cave is that he came out of the closet the day after North Carolina voters approved, 61-39, a constitutional amendment affirming marriage as being between one man and one woman. Now 30 states have similar amendments. Coincidentally, Democrats will hold their national convention in North Carolina, a state Obama hopes to carry once again. Obviously, he thinks his base needed this cause to rally around him for re-election, which is, after all, the point of everything he does. He certainly didn't waste any time fundraising off his flip-flop. Forward!
The president's hand was forced when Joe Biden opened his trap Sunday, saying he is "absolutely comfortable" with same-sex marriage. Still, Obama swears he "had already made a decision that we were going to take this position before the election and before the convention." He said Biden "probably got out a little bit over his skis," but insisted, "all's well that ends well."
Obama's true position on the subject has always been known, despite his effort to eat his wedding cake and have it too. "I favor legalizing same-sex marriages, and would fight efforts to prohibit such marriages," Obama said ... in 1996 when he was running for Illinois state senate. When he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004 and president in 2008, his view was that "marriage is between a man and a woman." Then in 2010, he belatedly declared that his views were "evolving." In other words, his position always has been a political charade. As evidence, we submit his latest campaign ad, which slams Romney as "backwards on equality" -- a place Obama found himself just 24 hours earlier.
Obama would be correct with his newfound federalism to call marriage an issue for states to decide -- if indeed the government has anyrole -- but that too is a charade. After all, his Justice Department has refused to defend the Defense of Marriage Act, which leaves the matter to the states. (That bill passed both houses of Congress with large majorities before being signed into law in 1996 by Bill Clinton.) And if the Supreme Court discovers same-sex marriage to be a constitutional right under some obscure penumbra, no one doubts that Obama will celebrate.
For presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney, this is the latest in a string of Obama's orchestrated distractions, but who can blame the president for not wanting to talk about the dismal economy? He would much rather talk about a phony "war on women," dogs on car roofs and same-sex marriage than 324,000 women leaving the labor force in the last two months alone, or the fact that one in three young Americans is underemployed. To be sure, Obama admitted, "Sometimes I forget" the magnitude of the recession. Small wonder.
Romney took on the marriage issue anyway, saying, "My view is that marriage itself is a relationship between a man and a woman," and insisted, "I have the same view I've had since, well, since running for office." Yet he also expressed frustration with reporters who aren't asking about "issues of significance."
The issue of gender-disorientation pathology is a serious one, not a distraction, though it's of far lesser import in this election than the economy or the size of the federal government. Marriage is the building block of family and society, and to redefine it so drastically is to undermine its integrity. All people have inherent dignity and worth -- no one here is engaging in what the Left derides as "gay bashing" -- but words and institutions have meanings, and it's important that we maintain them. It's a shame that some would use the issue as nothing more than a campaign fundraiser.
This Week's 'Alpha Jackass' Award
On how same-sex marriage squares with the Obamas as "practicing Christians," he said, "[O]bviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others, but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it's also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated." Never mind the rest of the Bible.
On the military, Obama opined that his rationale came from "when I think about those Soldiers or Airmen or Marines or Sailors who are out there fighting on my behalf and yet feel constrained, even now that 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' is gone, because they are not able to commit themselves in a marriage."
The military fights on his behalf? On the contrary, the military fights for the nation, and they do it far too well to serve as political pawns for Obama's craven attempts to rally his base.
Campaign Trail: Real Media Distractions
While most of the Leftmedia was swooning over Obama's courageous flip-flop on same-sex marriage, The Washington Post's hard-hitting journalism uncovered -- wait for it -- Mitt Romney's high-school pranks. The Post, in what turns out to have been a factually challenged story, even insinuated that Romney tormented a homosexual classmate. As much as leftists deride conservatives for bitterly clinging to the past, they sure are obsessed with an event that supposedly occurred 50 years ago. Memo to the Post: Congratulations; you've reminded us why teenagers aren't eligible to run for president. Then again, if the issue is high school, why have the media so thoroughly ignored Obama's past, which includes bullying and drug use?
Romney responded quickly with an apology, though he denied knowledge of his classmate's sexual orientation. "I participated in a lot of hijinks and pranks during high school and some might have gone too far and for that, I apologize," Romney said, thereby highlighting the ridiculous and petty nature of the Post's "scoop." Now his job is to keep the focus on what a lousy president Obama is.
The Biggest Lugar
Incumbent Republican Sen. Dick Lugar's was one of the nastier campaigns for Senate in recent years. The supposed "gentlemanly statesman" from Indiana pulled everything from the Democrat Dirty Politics playbook in an attempt to destroy the reputation of a good man, state treasurer Richard Mourdock. The latter had the backing of the Tea Party, the Club for Growth and others, and trounced Lugar by 20 points in Tuesday's primary. During his 35 years in the Senate, Lugar was not as "moderate" as some other Republicans, but his lifetime American Conservative Union rating of 80 left much to be desired. More than anything, perhaps, Hoosiers just wanted fresh blood. They might also have wanted a senator who actually lives in Indiana.
Given that Lugar had won his four most recent elections with at least two-thirds majority, including 87 percent in 2006, the victory is a big one for the Tea Party, which was declared to be in critical condition by the Leftmedia. In his concession speech, Lugar faintly endorsed Mourdock, but he then issued a press release claiming that, if Mourdock can win, his "unrelenting partisan mindset" will render him ineffective in the Senate. Some read that as a signal that Lugar will work against Mourdock. The task in November is to keep the ball rolling -- Mourdock will be the favorite, but winning won't be easy.
Around the World: The French Election
Across the pond, Socialist François Hollande won the presidency of France earlier this week, defeating incumbent Nicolas Sarkozy with just over 51 percent of the vote. Hollande, France's first Socialist president in 17 years, promised to pursue policies to raise taxes on the wealthy and boost government spending to cure his nation's fiscal ills. He also came in blaming his predecessor for the worst economy since the Great Depression. Sound familiar?
Sarkozy's defeat and a similar electoral shake-up in Greece are indicative of European voter frustration over the EU's inability to manage the continent's fiscal woes. The trend could also spell trouble for British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who, along with Sarkozy, have supported enacting austerity measures, particularly for economic basket cases such as Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. These recent elections are a reflection of anger over those austerity measures.
The problem is that there really are no austerity measures in place in the EU. Many governments enacted "stimulus" packages after 2008 when the worldwide financial crisis began, and in 2011, 23 of 27 EU member states increased spending. In 2012, 24 will do so. Government spending as a portion of GDP has risen steadily since 2000, currently standing at 49.2 percent. The countries that supposedly enacted austerity measures -- France, Spain, Greece and Great Britain -- are still spending at pre-recession levels, and France and the UK have not cut spending at all. Small reductions in Greece and Spain sparked riots in the streets, but the cuts are nowhere near what is needed to correct the situation.
Barack Obama was quick to congratulate his ideological kindred spirit and will be meeting with Hollande in the coming weeks, but he has already signaled that the incoming French president might want to take it easy before raising taxes and spending. This is surprising advice from a president who has failed to right America's fiscal ship with drastically increased spending. Yet the last thing Obama wants while campaigning for re-election is for American voters to see proof in Europe that the socialist, big government policies he supports are a failure.
New & Notable Legislation
The House voted 330-93 to extend the charter for the Export-Import Bank this week. The Ex-Im Bank received bipartisan support for years as an avenue of cheap, taxpayer-backed financing for some of America's largest companies, but it has recently come under fire from conservatives looking to trim the size of government. All the nay votes came from Republicans, while Democrats unanimously backed the measure in hopes of shedding their anti-business image. They were able to convince enough Republicans to continue subsidizing loans for businesses that are perfectly capable of obtaining their own financing. Swift passage is likely in the Senate.
Senate Republicans successfully blocked a bill that sought to lock in subsidized student-loan interest rates and offset it by closing certain tax loopholes for businesses. Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) noted that it doesn't make sense to raise taxes on the very companies that are hiring college graduates. Senate Republicans may follow the House bill that proposes offsetting the interest rate subsidy by taking money from an ObamaCare money pool already used by Democrats as a slush fund.
Hope 'n' Change: Pre-Existing Problems
Another week, another ObamaCare program cancelled for underperformance. The Pre-Existing Conditions Insurance Plan (PCIP) was designed to provide coverage for people with pre-existing conditions until 2014, when every insurance company will be mandated to take all comers, regardless of their current medical condition. The Obama administration maintains that virtually half of all Americans suffer from a pre-existing medical condition, and it expected up to 375,000 enrollees. Only 56,000 actually signed up, but while total enrollment was overestimated, the cost per enrollee was underestimated -- cost per person was actually 2.5 times higher than originally figured. The miscalculation indicates that the administration is -- surprise! -- lowballing the total cost for covering the uninsured.
From the 'Non Compos Mentis' File
Last week, we poked fun at Elizabeth Warren, the Democrat challenger for Massachusetts Republican Scott Brown's Senate seat, for her longtime practice of claiming Native American heritage to help her land various jobs in academia. She's currently a Harvard law professor. Now, the story has unfolded further and is even more bizarre than advertised. Warren's claim that great-great-great grandmother O.C. Sarah Smith Crawford had Cherokee heritage didn't hold up under scrutiny, but what's more interesting is that her great-great-great grandfather was a member of the Tennessee Militia that helped round up Cherokees at Ross's Landing in Chattanooga -- the point of origin for the Trail of Tears. The whole thing led blogger Allahpundit to quip, "All that's left now is the inevitable revelation that Scott Brown is part Cherokee and that his ancestors were rounded up by Warren's and this narrative will be wrapped up in a pretty little bow."
Regulatory Commissars: The Food You Eat
For many years the federal government has pleaded with Americans to eat more healthful food and embrace a more fit lifestyle, but that message has reached a fever pitch with First Lady Michelle Obama's preaching on nutrition and fitness from her bully pulpit. Even so, Americans are pudgier than ever, and the nanny state can't have that. Public health officials warned this week that, by 2030, nearly half of the adult population will be obese.
At the climax of a three-day Centers for Disease Control "Weight of the Nation" conference, the Institute of Medicine released a nearly 500-page report on how this can be addressed -- by the government, of course. It included the old standard of adopting a penny-per-ounce soda tax, but the study also delved into social planning, such as incentives to build sidewalks in residential developments and promoting commuting via bicycle to new grocery stores located in so-called "food deserts." Schools could be required to provide 60 minutes of physical education each day and cut out access to sugary drinks and snacks.
Our problem isn't with sidewalks, bicycle lanes or grocery stores with healthful food but with federal interference with an issue of personal responsibility. As the regulator of the health care system, the government will more often dictate what's good for us, like it or not. The nanny state isn't cheap, either. The administration consumed $830 million to study obesity in 2011. Honestly, how much can it cost to say, "Eat better and exercise more"?
Around the Nation: Postal Weight Loss
The United States Postal Service is hemorrhaging cash -- $3.2 billion in the second quarter alone -- under the weight of decreased demand from customers and increased costs from employee pensions and benefits. It had a plan to close up to 3,700 rural post offices, cut Saturday delivery and make other such reforms to save money, but the "not in my back yard" outcry was so great, that the Postal Service backed off. "We've listened to our customers in rural America, and we've heard them loud and clear. They want to keep their post office open," said Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe. Instead, some 13,000 rural post offices will see hours reduced, 21,000 local postmasters will be offered early retirement and post offices will look to partner with other local businesses in an effort to cut costs.
Meanwhile, Congress is considering a plan to save the Postal Service $20 billion a year, including early retirement for 100,000 postal workers, though it would delay facility closures another two years and keep Saturday delivery.
A Corny Idea for Renewable Energy
In 2007, Congress passed (and George W. Bush foolishly signed) a sweeping series of mandates for energy usage. Most are familiar with the demise of the incandescent light bulb as a result of that bill, but another aspect of the legislation was a requirement that America use 36 billion gallons of "renewable transport fuel" by 2022. In an effort to hasten the artificial growth of the ethanol market to meet this arbitrary demand, the EPA is "encouraging" oil companies to increase the blend of ethanol in gasoline to 15 percent (E15) -- 10 percent (E10) is the current standard. Even the Agriculture Department is getting in on the persuasion.
"Big Oil" balks at the idea, making the case (again) that completely new equipment would be required to handle the reformulated fuel. Besides, corn-based ethanol presents a number of problems: It's more corrosive and damaging to both pumping equipment and gasoline engines, fuel economy suffers because ethanol doesn't provide as many miles per gallon, and the usage of massive amounts of corn for energy rather than for food leads to food shortages abroad and higher grocery prices for all.
Undaunted, the federal government is plodding on with the changeover. The Obama administration is assisting service station owners with installing the blender pumps necessary to dispense the E15, while both "stimulus" and farm bill money has gone to research and development on biofuels. None of this will help the car owner whose engine is ruined by mistakenly pumping E15.
Warfront With Jihadistan: Bomb Plot Foiled
U.S. intelligence agencies chalked up another victory against al-Qa'ida, as a plot to bring down an American airliner, possibly on or near the anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, was stopped dead in its tracks. Details are still emerging and questions are being raised about how this operation came to light, but it looks as if CIA operatives inside al-Qa'ida were able to intercept a more advanced version of the famed "underwear bomb," which was used in the failed 2009 Christmas Day attempt to bring down an airliner over Detroit. During this elaborate operation, the CIA, working with foreign intelligence, tracked the bomb's movements for weeks. The bomb was turned over to the CIA by an inside informant, allegedly a Saudi who had penetrated al-Qa'ida by posing as a suicide bomber, before he fled to Yemen. After obtaining the bomb, the CIA then killed the al-Qa'ida plotters in a drone strike.
According to a U.S. official, the bomb was "viable" and probably would detonate if used, although it had design flaws that might have degraded its effectiveness. The FBI now has the bomb and is studying its design, and U.S. intelligence agencies hope to learn more about the tactics and technology now used by al-Qa'ida. Kudos to U.S. intelligence agencies and our allies for infiltrating al-Qa'ida and making this a successful mission. Of course, according to the White House, the War on Terror is over...
Speaking of the anniversary of bin Laden's trip to his virgins, it's well known how Obama continues to exploit the achievements of the Navy SEALs as he and his minions claim that this was one of the "gutsiest" command decisions of all time. However, the truth is that Dear Leader was actually ready to wash his hands of his decision in the event of failure. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey notes that the Obama regime drafted a memo to protect Obama from blame if the mission failed, allowing the commander in chief to blame Admiral William McRaven, commander of United States Special Operations Command, instead. Shameful, but really, should we expect anything more from this "leader"?
Department of Military Readiness: The High Cost of Mediocrity
This week the House unveiled its $608 billion defense bill for the upcoming year. Before anyone gets too excited about so much military spending, however, we should mention that this number pales in comparison to the $3.8 trillion the government will likely spend in FY2013, nearly all of which has zero to do with any role the Founders envisioned for the federal government. We should also mention that approximately $90 billion of the defense appropriations bill goes toward the Afghanistan war effort, along with other counterterrorism measures.
Naturally, House Republicans are under fire from the Leftmedia for wanting to cut social programs to fund defense, and Barack Obama has threatened to veto any such effort, but unlike the vast bulk of other taxpayer-extorted largesse known as the federal "budget," defense spending is actually authorized by the Constitution (hint: Article I, Section 8). In fact, defense -- unlike health care (let alone ObamaCare), unemployment payouts, Medicare, pension bankrolling, welfare doling, college loan funding and a host of other "programs" not mentioned in the Constitution -- is a fundamental role of government.
That said, most Americans understand that defense spending is not always efficient. Take for instance the U.S. Air Force programs for the F-22 and F-35, both plagued by cost overruns, delays and missteps. The latest revelation comes in the form of a "60 Minutes" segment on problems associated with the F-22's onboard oxygen-generating system, or "OBOGS." The system processes ambient air through the jet's engines to deliver concentrated oxygen to the pilot. Engineers and specialists are at a loss to find the source of this problem, which has caused a number of physiological incidents, near-deaths and at least one death in which the system was a potential, if not likely, suspect. Some pilots are refusing to fly the plane until the problem is fixed.
However, most Americans also understand that the issue is not only efficiency. If it were, we might recommend closing up shop at the Pentagon tomorrow. The real issue is how the nation can best address likely threats to national security and spend accordingly. Efficiency is one of many factors, of course, but the ultimate driver is the forecasted threat and how to defeat it. Tens if not hundreds of thousands of military planners and acquisition experts working in concert made their best attempts to answer that question, generating programs such as the F-22 and F-35. These are hyper-advanced and capable systems, but like any complex system composed of cutting-edge technologies throughout, they have problems to remedy. At each step of the way, however, the goal is always to provide the most capable defense to threats facing vital U.S. interests. Defense planners and financial analysts "get" this -- unfortunately, the nation's leadership apparently does not.
The OBOGS problem -- like other problems associated with the F-22 or F-35 -- will eventually be identified and remedied. A bigger problem is a do-nothing Congress and bow-to-our-enemies president who put a greater value on siphoning defense funds to buy election votes than on protecting the country and its people. Misguided fiscal priorities turn would-be lethal weapons systems like these fighter jets into totems of mediocrity, and if potential enemies are led to believe that the U.S. is weak on defense, rest assured the ultimate price will be a lot higher than the cost of a fighter jet program.
Immigration Front: Border Patrol Strategy
With its existing strategy eight years old, the U.S. Border Patrol this week unveiled a new national strategy aimed at using "intelligence-driven" and "risk-based" tactics to secure our nation's borders. Until now, the Border Patrol's approach has involved increasing the number of agents in highly trafficked crossings in order to re-direct would-be illegal immigrants to more remote areas where they would be easier to apprehend. Under the new approach, the Border Patrol will work to understand why offenders repeat, and it will increase penalties on frequent crossers. This change comes at a time when reports say illegal immigration is at a historic low. The Associated Press notes, "Last year, the Border Patrol made 327,577 apprehensions on the Mexican border, down 80 percent from more than 1.6 million in 2000. It was the slowest year since 1971." According to the Pew Hispanic Center, "After four decades that brought 12 million current immigrants -- more than half of whom came illegally -- the net migration flow from Mexico to the U.S. has stopped and may have reversed."
While some of the decline is attributable to better enforcement -- since 2004, the Border Patrol has doubled its agent force to 21,000 while adding tools such as fencing, cameras and sensors -- another factor, particularly in recent years, is an economy that offers fewer job opportunities. With multiple factors at play, though, and illegal immigration still a significant security concern, we just hope the new strategy avoids becoming risk evaluation based on political correctness rather than on legal and security threats.
In related news, the Obama Justice Department filed suit against Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio for what it claims are civil rights violations, including racial profiling.
Profiles of Valor: A Salute to Military Spouses
We were contacted by an Army wife this week who said, "A few weeks ago, I released a YouTube video for the song, which I directed, produced and edited. No actors were used in the video -- only active duty Army soldiers and their families who were preparing for deployments at the time of filming. Those soldiers are now deployed to Afghanistan, so the video is very much 'art-meets-life.'" We're sharing this video on Military Spouse Appreciation Day as a way to honor and salute the families of our military personnel. These families make immense sacrifices for our nation, and we are deeply grateful.
Village Academic Curriculum: Vanderbilt Veto
Recently, we reported how Tennessee's Vanderbilt University became the latest academic institution to wage war on religion when the school decided that religious groups had to consider non-religious students for leadership roles. Why a non-religious person would want to run a religious group is exceedingly suspicious; it certainly wouldn't be the first leftist policy enacted for the sole purpose of destroying a beloved institution in the name of "progress."
In response to Vanderbilt's decree, the state legislature passed a bill that would prevent schools receiving substantial taxpayer funding (more than $24 million per year) from enacting such policies. Unfortunately, Tennessee Republican Governor Bill Haslam vetoed it in the name of "limited government," but many see this as merely the coward's way out. His statement that he personally disagrees with Vanderbilt's policy only makes it look like he's straddling a political fence, when his feet should be clearly planted on the side of religious freedom. (Gov. Haslam also signed a bill waiving Tennessee from No Child Left Behind Thursday, so he is on the right side on some things.)
Vanderbilt receives hundreds of millions in federal tax dollars each year -- $300 million in grants from the Department of Health and Human Services alone. Leaving that in tact is hardly an example of limited government. Some may argue that the gubernatorial veto prevents Obama-style government intrusion into a private university's policies, but the HHS regulations that Obama put into place are far broader; they apply to private employers who receive no government funds and violate religious liberty as well. In this case, pulling public funds to prevent a violation of First Amendment religious liberty is the limited-government option, not the other way around.
In related news, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill chose a Muslim imam to deliver its commencement address. Abdullah Antepli is one of the few Muslim chaplains at a U.S. college or university.
Climate Change This Week: Breaking Wind Killed the Dinosaurs?
Those of us who live in certain areas of the country realize that copious quantities of methane and additional natural by-products made by cows and other barnyard animals. Imagine how much a plant-eating 90-ton dinosaur would produce. That's a theory postulated by two British scientists, who argue that the era of the dinosaurs came to an end through climate change of the reptiles' own making -- the staggering amount of methane produced over those eons led to the global warming that eventually wiped out the dinosaurs. Silent-but-deadly, if you will. The pair claim that over 520 million tons of methane were produced annually, an amount that dwarfs the current creation from all sources whether natural or man-made.
However, other scientists feel the study is just so much bovine excrement; they theorize it was a lengthy cool period that killed off the dinosaurs. Moreover, the Earth has a track record of adapting to changing conditions, and one would think certain dinosaurs might have survived despite cooling climate change, which lends credence to the theory of sudden dinosaur demise. Regardless, the admission that something natural can change the climate -- without help from mankind -- is stunning when it comes from the world of modern, politically driven science.
On Sunday, as we celebrate Mother's Day, we're reminded that among the 10 Commandments there is but one that comes with a promise: "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you" (Exodus 20:12). President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation in 1914 proclaiming Mother's Day a national holiday. But then again, we don't need a holiday to express our appreciation to moms everywhere. May God bless each and every mother among our Patriot readers.
Who is Keith Judd? He's federal prison inmate Number 11593-051 at the Beaumont Federal Correctional Institution in Beaumont, Texas, where he's serving a 210-month sentence for extortion. Earlier this week, however, he was also a Democrat presidential candidate in the West Virginia primary, and he managed 40 percent of the vote and won 10 counties against the sitting president. In fact, his share of the vote was so large that he's entitled to at least one delegate at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte later this year. Democrats quickly attributed the result to racism, but it could have a lot more to do with Obama's anti-coal policies. In all fairness, though, Obama was at a serious disadvantage. What would you rather defend -- a felony conviction or Obama's record on the economy?
Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus et Fidelis!
Nate Jackson for The Patriot Post Editorial Team