Friday Digest

Digest

Aug. 22, 2008

GOVERNMENT & POLITICS

Campaign watch: Saddleback forum

Barack Obama’s appearance Saturday night at Rick Warren’s televised candidate forum at his Saddleback Church in Southern California failed to endear him to the evangelical voters he so covets. Warren separately questioned both Obama and John McCain on a series of questions aimed at more clearly defining the candidates views on political, cultural and religious issues. While McCain’s appearance benefited him with conservatives and overall in the polls, Obama further distanced himself from those very conservatives with his answers to two pivotal questions.

First, when asked which sitting Supreme Court justices he would not have nominated as president, Obama named the most reliable constitutionalists on the Court, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. In a stunning near-admission of the hypocrisy of affirmative action, he almost said that Thomas did not have enough experience to be on the Court. But he caught himself at the cliff, and after a few coughs, ums and uhs, he stated that he did not think “that [Thomas] was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretation of a lot of the Constitution” —that interpretation, of course, being a strict one that does not allow for the type of activist judiciary that Obama and fellow liberals embrace.

Obama’s take on Thomas’s qualifications set a double standard that became glaringly obvious almost immediately and was outlined in The Wall Street Journal: “By the time he was nominated, Clarence Thomas had worked in the Missouri Attorney General’s office, served as an Assistant Secretary of Education, run the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and sat for a year on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, the nation’s second most prominent court.” Obama, by comparison, is less than four years into his first term as a U.S. senator—having spent most of his term campaigning for president—and has never so much as chaired a hearing. Prior to that, he put in a quiet term of service in the Illinois state senate and served as a “community organizer,” a term of endearment the mainstream media applied to his pamphleteering activities in Chicago.

The second gaffe was equally bad. When Warren queried specifically at what point a baby gains human rights, Obama responded that such a decision is “above my pay grade.” This inhumanely glib comment contrasted sharply with McCain’s response, which was unequivocal—“at the moment of conception.” Certainly, considering Obama’s stated ambition to hold the job with the highest “pay grade” of any in the world, his answer raises gravely serious questions regarding his authenticity, integrity and real motives.

The two candidates appeared together at the forum only long enough to shake hands, but their time with Warren spoke volumes about their character and substance. It also explains why Obama has turned down McCain’s invitation to a series of town-hall-style debates. Without a script and his cheering throng of supporters, Obama’s pretense melts as soon as he is required to state a core belief. Young, naive, highly unqualified and extremely liberal, he really does need Joe Biden as his Veep—which would then raise the obvious question, why is Obama number one and Biden number two? Shouldn’t it be the other way around?

This week’s ‘Alpha Jackass’ award

“Now I must say: I don’t find myself particularly scary or particularly risky.” —Barack Obama

From the Left: Symbolism speaks volumes

The Democrat National Convention Committee has begun circulating identification badges for the Denver gathering, and the image they chose for the badge says a lot about the party’s views of America and Barack Obama’s place in it. The image essentially depicts an upside down American flag with Obama swathed in the star field in a determined outward looking pose, much like old Soviet propaganda posters of V.I. Lenin or Joe Stalin. An American flag flown upside down is a maritime distress signal, perhaps appropriate considering Obama’s latest polling trends. We don’t expect liberals to have any accurate knowledge of flag etiquette (other than how to burn one), but the image of Obama wrapped in an American flag is grand hypocrisy, considering his refusal to wear a flag lapel pin.

Obama’s distaste for Old Glory also extends to his campaign plane. After a $500,000 overhaul of his North American Airlines 757, the American flag that adorned the tail of the jet was replaced with the Obama campaign logo—a fine illustration of his narcissism. The jet lost the carrier’s corporate logo too, itself based on the Stars & Stripes, and apparently a little bit too patriotic for the candidate’s tastes.

This week’s ‘Braying Jackass’ award

“One of the things that we have to change in this country is the idea that people can’t disagree without challenging each other’s character and patriotism. I have never suggested that Senator McCain picks his positions on national security based on politics or personal ambition. I have not suggested it because I believe that he genuinely wants to serve America’s national interest. Now, it’s time for him to acknowledge that I want to do the same.” —Barack Obama

Campaign cash update

Barack Obama continued his record-setting fundraising marathon, pulling in $51 million during the month of July. With $400 million raised for the election, Obama has benefited greatly from online donations and some three-dozen wealthy bundlers who have raised $500,000 each for his campaign. By comparison, John McCain raised $27 million in July, bringing his total take to $170 million.

The broader cash trends indicate that Democrats are up $73 million compared to their position at this point during the 2004 election cycle. Republicans are down $55 million compared to 2004. The RNC had $75 million cash on hand at the end of July, while the DNC had close to $29 million. The RNC remains the bright spot in the overall fundraising picture, holding steadily ahead of the DNC, even though party congressional and state campaign totals continue to favor Democrats with only 73 days until Election Day.

News from the Swamp: Stevens to be tried in DC

Sen. Ted Stevens (RINO-AK) will stand trial for corruption in Washington, DC, the seat of all moral opprobrium, despite his efforts to have the trial moved to Alaska to prevent hindering his re-election bid. District Judge Emmet Sullivan declined, though the trial will be speedy, as per Stevens’ request. The alleged crime is lying about Senate disclosure documents, which took place in DC. Stevens was indicted earlier this month on charges that he concealed more than $250,000 in gifts he received from VECO Corp., an oil-services firm in his home state of Alaska, far and above the $260 limit for disclosure according to Senate rules.

In the House: Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) died Wednesday of a massive brain aneurysm. She was 58. Cleveland Police found her unconscious in her car Tuesday night and she was rushed to the hospital. She is the seventh member of the House to die while serving in the 110th Congress. Our deepest sympathy goes to her loved ones on this untimely death.

NATIONAL SECURITY

U.S., Poland reach missile defense agreement

After 18 months of complex and sometimes stalled negotiations, the United States and Poland have finally reached an agreement on a European missile defense system. The deal will allow the United States to place 10 interceptor missiles on Polish soil in exchange for U.S. military support to Poland should Russia attack. The U.S. will also sell technologically advanced Patriot surface-to-air missiles to Poland and help the former Soviet-bloc country upgrade its military. According to officials involved in the negotiations, the purpose of the interceptor missile agreement is to protect Europe from ballistic missiles launched by rogue states like Iran. But according to the Kremlin, the agreement is actually an attempt by the United States and its NATO allies to reduce the potential effectiveness of Russia’s nuclear arsenal, an allegation difficult to take seriously given Russia’s stockpile of thousands of nuclear weapons.

However, if it is disingenuous to argue that the European missile shield is targeted at Russia, it is equally disingenuous to say the agreement between the U.S. and Poland has nothing to do with Russia. Indeed, Russian aggression in Georgia appears to have helped the U.S. and Poland resolve their stalemated talks. For 18 months, Poland said that a missile-shield agreement was contingent on promises of U.S. protection from Russia, but, before last week, few of the concerned parties at the White House, Pentagon and State Department thought such promises were warranted. Over the past several days, however, Russia has all but assured the world that the 21st century will look very much like the 20th, as a reawakened Bear demonstrates its power in a region it once occupied, and now occupies again. What Western hopes remained of a kinder, more democratic Russia have been dashed, and Realpolitik argues that Poland’s demands are justified.

Case in point: since the missile shield agreement was announced last week, Russia has threatened Poland with the possibility of a nuclear strike, raising apocalyptic rhetoric to a level not seen since the Cold War. Meanwhile, the Russian Army still controls a substantial portion of Georgia and shows no signs of complying with the cease-fire agreement the Kremlin signed last week.

In 1990, political scientist John Mearsheimer made the case for “why we will soon miss the Cold War” in The Atlantic Monthly. If such sentiments actually exist, then its bearers can take heart, because in Eastern Europe we may be witnessing the opening of a second act.

Another Iranian launch proves a point

Iran claims to have launched a communications satellite last weekend and has released video showing its Safir rocket blasting off the launch pad and climbing into the night sky. Regular Patriot readers will recall that Iran tried to pass off a SHAHAB-3 Medium Range Ballistic Missile launch in February as a space launch, even painting the SHAHAB in a blue-and-white color scheme to resemble the Safir. While Iran did in fact launch a space rocket this time, its claim to have placed a satellite into orbit appears to be propaganda. U.S. defense officials quickly reported that the rocket’s second stage failed to ignite properly, causing the rocket to crash several hundred miles downrange.

Please note that important detail: the rocket’s second stage failed. Just as North Korea did a decade ago, Iran is moving forward in the development of rockets with ever-longer ranges, including multi-stage versions that will allow Iran to target most of continental Europe. Once Iran perfects multi-stage rockets, a true ICBM becomes inevitable, lacking intervention. This worsening situation greatly reinforces the need for missile defenses in Europe and in the United States.

Warfront with Jihadistan: Musharraf resigns

Reading the writing on the wall, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf resigned Monday, ending the threat of his impeachment by the nation’s two ruling parties. Musharraf is even expected to leave Pakistan. The general population rejoiced at the news. Leaders of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party and of the Pakistan Muslim League-N party, which defeated Musharraf’s Pakistan Muslim League-Q faction in national elections last February, pledged to elect a new president as soon as possible. Farzana Raja, a top member of the Pakistan People’s Party, said, “This is a victory for democratic forces. It should have happened much earlier. The dictatorship should have been done away with some time ago.”

Musharraf, who seized power in a military coup in 1999, came to international prominence after 9/11 and the subsequent Coalition invasion of Afghanistan. Coalition forces required the use of Pakistan’s airspace for the invasion, and Musharraf’s agreement to allow those overflights created tremendous anger and tension in the nuclear-armed Muslim country. Without his assistance, the defeat of the Taliban would have been extremely difficult. Yet, although he is supposedly a key U.S. ally in the Long War, information that has recently come to light says otherwise. Under Musharraf’s leadership al-Qa’ida has regrouped and set up training camps inside Pakistan, with al-Qa’ida’s top leaders, including Osama bin Laden, setting up shop there. Additionally, elements of Musharraf’s army have trained the Taliban to attack our troops in Afghanistan, and billions in U.S. aid meant to help Pakistan fight terrorists were instead used to buy military hardware for warfare against India. Clearly, it was time for Musharraf to go.

With luck (and some U.S. aid), Pakistan’s new government will allow Coalition forces to pursue the Taliban into Pakistan, while at the same time it starts to control the rising militancy at home. How Musharraf’s departure affects the Afghan war or what happens to Pakistan’s nuclear weapons are questions yet to be answered.

Profiles of valor: USA Sgt. Rowell

Sergeant First Class Frederick Rowell of the United States Army served two tours in Iraq and displayed bravery above and beyond the call of duty during both. In April 2003, during the initial assault on Baghdad, his unit was attacked and fell back to their Bradley vehicle for cover. Another squad, however, was not as fortunate. They were pinned under heavy fire with little cover, no leadership and a wounded soldier. Rowell ran across the open terrain while under fire himself. Once he reached the other soldiers, he supplied cover fire and treated the wounded private. As the enemy fire intensified, Rowell threw himself onto the private to protect him and took an AK-47 round in his back. Fortunately, his armor protected him from serious injury. As help arrived, he lifted the private onto his back and ran 100 meters to the evacuation vehicle. For his bravery and self-sacrifice, he earned the Silver Star.

Sgt. Rowell was not finished, however. In September 2007, he was leading a scouting mission in Baghdad when his men, who were split into two observation posts in separate buildings, came under fire from multiple directions. Rowell decided to gather all his men at a single post, but one of his soldiers was severely wounded by an IED just outside the door. Rowell himself was knocked unconscious by the blast. When he came to, Rowell grabbed his fellow soldier, pulled him to safety and continued to defend him. Soon, a group of Stryker combat vehicles arrived, and Rowell worked to evacuate everyone. Despite his own wound—later diagnosed as traumatic brain injury—he manned the roof gun on the Stryker during the evacuation. For his efforts and courage he was awarded the Bronze Star with Combat “V” for Valor.

BUSINESS & ECONOMY

Income Redistribution: Corporate tax milestone

The United States has made history—but it’s nothing to be proud of. For the first time, our statutory corporate income tax rate is 50 percent higher than the average rate of our international competitors. At 39.3 percent, it stands second only to Japan’s, and the prognosis for U.S. business is not good. According to a new study by the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “[C]orporate taxes are most harmful for growth, followed by personal income taxes, and then consumption taxes.”

Apparently, the rest of the world has caught on, but while other nations have been slashing their rates, Washington politicos have refused to budge. Just last week, Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) stated, “It’s time for big corporations to pay their fair share,” citing a Government Accountability Office statistic that 28 percent of large U.S. corporations did not pay income tax in 2005 (notwithstanding that 85 percent of these companies made no profits in 2005).

Barack Obama’s “solution” is to tax foreign profits where they are earned—in essence driving more American businesses offshore. Meanwhile, John McCain wants to cut the federal corporate tax rate to 25 percent, which is a good start but not enough. As The Wall Street Journal notes, Washington should seriously consider eliminating the corporate income tax altogether. Otherwise, U.S. corporations will increasingly find foreign shores more welcoming than our own.

More redistributionist schemes

Barack Obama is an avowed redistributionist when it comes to his individual income-tax plan. He has not been shy about his intention to raise taxes on the “wealthy” —variously defined as those earning anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000 or more per year. For those wondering what he would do with that money, look no further. Obama proposes $1,000 tax credits for those who pay little or nothing in federal income taxes. Not only that, but they would be “refundable,” meaning that if one’s tax bill is $300, the government would pay the taxpayer $700; if the taxpayer owes nothing, he gets the whole $1,000. This is nothing more than robbing one taxpayer and handing the money to one who pays very little or no tax at all. Some might call this the new welfare. Meanwhile, the top individual rate would be increased by 13 percent, to 39.6 percent. That’s the real change you can believe in.

Campaign healthcare plans

As we hurtle toward the political party conventions, John McCain’s health plan proposal is starting to garner attention for its potentially significant impact on the U.S. health insurance market. The centerpiece of the McCain plan is directed at the market segment where individuals purchase their own coverage to achieve taxation parity with the employer-sponsored market.

McCain’s market-oriented proposal of allowing tax incentives for the purchase of personal health insurance may substantially reduce the uninsured population in the country. It will have significant other results. For example, McCain’s plan will likely cause a transition of many in the employer-sponsored market to the private market. If employers decide they no longer need to incur the expense of providing insurance, they can opt out, knowing their employees will be covered. On April 15th a family that buys its own insurance would receive a $5,000 credit ($2,500 per individual). Of course, the government will eventually tax employer-sponsored coverage as income, providing yet more incentive for workers to purchase their own insurance.

Other significant changes would occur making the personal plans portable between states and jobs and exempt them from the multitude of expensive state requirements that have driven up the cost of coverage dramatically since the Clinton era. In addition, McCain has proposed creating government-run risk pools to cover those who are ill who are otherwise unable to obtain coverage.

In contrast to McCain’s bold market-oriented makeover of our healthcare system, Barack Obama mainly proposes limiting our healthcare choices to the fiscally insolvent Medicare and Medicaid system in the hope things somehow work out. Perhaps if Mr. Obama’s own healthcare were left to the tender mercies of a government program careening towards insolvency, he might reconsider his desire to sentence others to that same dismal fate.

CULTURE

Judicial Benchmarks: CA court overrules religion

According to the Supreme Court of California, doctors may not refuse any medical treatment to homosexuals for religious reasons. Apparently, freedom of religion doesn’t exist in California. The case was brought by Guadalupe Benitez, who accused doctors at a San Diego fertility clinic of refusing give her artificial insemination because she is homosexual. Dr. Christine Brody, a Christian, said she would not perform the procedure because Benitez was unmarried. Benitez was initially informed that another doctor in the group would help her, but she was ultimately referred to another group.

In 2004, a trial court agreed with Benitez that she suffered discrimination, but, in 2005, an appeals court overturned that ruling, saying the first decision denied the doctors’ religious rights. Monday, the state supreme court reversed that ruling, saying that if a doctor wishes to refuse service because of religious beliefs, that doctor must refuse all patients, or provide another doctor for service. Justice Joyce Kennard wrote: “Do the rights of religious freedom and free speech, as guaranteed in both the federal and the California Constitutions, exempt a medical clinic’s physicians from complying with the California Unruh Civil Rights Act’s prohibition against discrimination based on a person’s sexual orientation? Our answer is no.” A distinction might be made here between necessary care and, shall we say, optional care. Benitez’s “right” to give birth to a child (actually, three children now) to be raised by her and her partner is nothing more than a marker on the slippery slope that will render the First Amendment largely meaningless.

Faith and Family: APA gets it wrong again

A recent study released by the American Psychology Association (APA) claims that women who have abortions are no more likely to have psychological problems than those who give birth. A coalition of pro-life advocates, however, is decrying the report as politically biased and one sided.

Brenda Mayor, lead psychologist on the APA taskforce and a known pro-abortion advocate, stated “The best scientific evidence published indicates that among adult women who have an unplanned pregnancy, the relative risk of mental health problems is no greater if they have a single elective first-trimester abortion or deliver the pregnancy.”

On the contrary, data neglected by the study shows otherwise. In fact, the report specifically negates the feelings of women who suffer after abortion, treating their anxiety and depression as a coincidence rather than a direct correlation. “There is no evidence,” the report states, “sufficient to support the claim that an observed association between abortion history and mental health was caused by the abortion per se, as opposed to other factors.”

Women are fighting back, telling their stories and joining the movement to make abortion illegal. One of these women is Aveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. King has spoken of her pain and anguish after suffering a miscarriage caused by two previous abortions. “The (APA) wants to say we are the exception to the rule,” King said, “but for every one woman they can find that says they weren’t harmed by abortion… they could find 10 women who were.” For more such stories, consider reading the book Empty Arms.

Climate change this week: Mind games

We’re not done with the American Psychological Association… If there were ever any doubt that global-warming alarmists were much more preoccupied with a political agenda than with presenting both sides of the issue (remember Al Gore declaring that only warming fanatics should be given coverage on this topic?), according to coverage by USA Today, the APA is promising to “launch a national initiative specifically targeting behavior changes, including developing media messages that will help people reduce their carbon footprint…” Perhaps even more disturbing, “they want to… enlist congressional support to help fund the effort.”

“We know how to change behavior and attitudes. That is what we do,” APA president and Yale University psychologies Alan Kazdin boldly announced. Kazdin’s controversial statements were made in advance of the APA’s meeting in Boston last week, where its 148,000 members gathered to hear evidence of studies that explored how to manipulate people into going green.

One such study found that “news stories that provided a balanced view of climate change reduced people’s beliefs that humans are at fault and also reduced the number of people who thought climate change would be bad.” We are shocked, shocked! However, “for Republicans and those who had little trust in scientists, more knowledge did not mean there was more concern [about global warming],” said psychologist Jon Krosnick, the study’s author. So, Republicans don’t trust scientists, but after reading about Kazdin’s intentions to take over our brains, can you blame them?

Don’t mess with Grandma

An 85-year-old Point Marion, Pennsylvania, woman kept her cool Sunday afternoon when her home was being burglarized. “I just walked right on past him to the bedroom and got my gun,” she said. She had been keeping a.22-caliber revolver by her bed since a neighbor’s house was burglarized recently. She confronted the would-be thief: “I said ‘What are you doing in my house?’ He just kept saying he didn’t do it.” She didn’t take any chances, however. She held the 17-year-old boy at gunpoint… and made him call the police. “It was exciting,” she later said. “I just hope I broke up the [burglary] ring because they have been hitting a lot of places around here.” How’s that for feisty?

And last…

The Italian Vanity Fair magazine reported this week that Barack Obama’s half-brother has been found in Kenya, living “on less than a dollar a month.” George Hussein Onyango Obama was born of the same father as Barack, but he claims, “no one knows I exist.” George has met Barack only twice in his life, the second time on the senator’s trip to Kenya in 2006. “It was very brief, we spoke for just a few minutes. It was like meeting a complete stranger.” What was that Obama said about “the least of these” the other night at Saddleback? At least Bill Clinton gave his half-brother Roger a pardon. “If anyone says something about my surname,” says George, “I say we are not related. I am ashamed.” We assume that means he’s ashamed of his brother.

To top it all off, however, is a story that broke last week in The Onion, a satirical Internet “news” source. The story began, “Barack Obama’s once-commanding lead in the polls slipped to two points Monday, continuing a month-long slide that many credit to the recent appearance of the Democratic candidate’s heretofore unknown half-brother, Cooter Obama.” Truth is indeed stranger than fiction.

Veritas vos Liberabit—Semper Vigilo, Fortis, Paratus, et Fidelis! Mark Alexander, Publisher, for The Patriot’s editors and staff. (Please pray for our Patriot Armed Forces standing in harm’s way around the world, and for their families—especially families of those fallen Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, who granted their lives in defense of American liberty.)

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