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February 28, 2012

An Apology Too Far

From the article below, here are the facts about what happened in Afghanistan:

The facts are that the Korans were seized at a jail because jihadists imprisoned there were using them not for prayer but to communicate incendiary messages. The soldiers dispatched to burn refuse from the jail were not the officials who had seized the books, had no idea they were burning Korans, and tried desperately to retrieve the books when the situation was brought to their attention.

The local commander apologized. Then the Secretary of Defense apologized. Now President Obama has apologized. And what did we get for it? More of this:


As Andy McCarthy says, this is insane:

Why Apologize to Afghanistan?
The reaction to an accidental Koran-burning was inexcusable
By Andrew C. McCarthy
February 25, 2012

We have officially lost our minds.

The New York Times reports that President Obama has sent a formal letter of apology to Afghanistan's ingrate president, Hamid Karzai, for the burning of Korans at a U.S. military base. The only upside of the apology is that it appears (based on the Times account) to be couched as coming personally from our blindly Islamophilic president -- "I wish to express my deep regret for the reported incident. . . . I extend to you and the Afghani people my sincere apologies." It is not couched as an apology from the American people, whose frame of mind will be outrage, not contrition, as the facts become more widely known.

The facts are that the Korans were seized at a jail because jihadists imprisoned there were using them not for prayer but to communicate incendiary messages. The soldiers dispatched to burn refuse from the jail were not the officials who had seized the books, had no idea they were burning Korans, and tried desperately to retrieve the books when the situation was brought to their attention.

Of course, these facts may not become widely known, because no one is supposed to mention the main significance of what has happened here. First, as usual, Muslims -- not al-Qaeda terrorists, but ordinary, mainstream Muslims -- are rioting and murdering over the burning (indeed, the inadvertent burning) of a book. Yes, it's the Koran, but it's a book all the same -- and one that, moderate Muslims never tire of telling us, doesn't really mean everything it says anyhow.

Muslim leaders and their leftist apologists are also forever lecturing the United States about "proportionality" in our war-fighting. Yet when it comes to Muslim proportionality, Americans are supposed to shrug meekly and accept the "you burn books, we kill people" law of the jungle. Disgustingly, the Times would inure us to this moral equivalence by rationalizing that "Afghans are fiercely protective of their Islamic faith." Well then, I guess that makes it all right, huh?

Then there's the second not-to-be-uttered truth: Defiling the Koran becomes an issue for Muslims only when it has been done by non-Muslims. Observe that the unintentional burning would not have occurred if these "fiercely protective of their Islamic faith" Afghans had not defiled the Korans in the first place. They were Muslim prisoners who annotated the "holy" pages with what a U.S. military official described as "extremist inscriptions" in covert messages sent back and forth, just as the jihadists held at Gitmo have been known to do (notwithstanding that Muslim prisoners get their Korans courtesy of the American taxpayers they construe the book to justify killing).

Do you know why you are supposed to stay mum about the intentional Muslim sacrilege but plead to be forgiven for the accidental American offense? Because you would otherwise have to observe that the Koran and other Islamic scriptures instruct Muslims that they are in a civilizational jihad against non-Muslims, and that it is therefore permissible for them to do whatever is necessary -- including scrawl militant graffiti on their holy book -- if it advances the cause. Abdul Sattar Khawasi -- not a member of al-Qaeda but a member in good standing of the Afghan government for which our troops are inexplicably fighting and dying -- put it this way: "Americans are invaders, and jihad against the Americans is an obligation."

Because exploiting America's hyper-sensitivity to things Islamic advances the jihad, the ostensible abuse of the Koran by using it for secret communiqu├ęs is to be overlooked. Actionable abuse occurs only when the book is touched by the bare hands of, or otherwise maltreated by, an infidel.

Understand this: Muslims are killing Muslims all the time. Sunnis attack Shiites, Shiites attack Sunnis. Ahmadi Muslims are attacked in sundry Islamic countries. Often, these Muslim-on-Muslim atrocities involve not only murder but also the torching of the other sect's homes and mosques -- necessarily meaning Muslims are burning Korans, and with far more mens rea than the American personnel had in Afghanistan. None of these atrocities incite global Islamic rioting -- it is just Muslim-on-Muslim violence, the numbing familiarity of which calls for no comment, except perhaps to mumble that it must have something to do with how "fiercely protective of their Islamic faith" Muslims are. (Actually, it has to do with Muslims' deeming the perceived heresies of other Muslims to be apostasy, for which sharia prescribes the death penalty.)

Also understand this: In sharia societies, non-Muslim religious articles are confiscated and destroyed every single day as a matter of policy. In Saudi Arabia, where sharia is the law of the land, where Mecca and Medina are closed to non-Muslims, government guidelines prohibit Jews and Christians from bringing Bibles, crucifixes, Stars of David, and similar artifacts emblematic of their faith into the country. When that prohibition is violated, the offending items are seized and burned or otherwise destroyed.

In spite of this shameful, conscious, systematic abuse of non-Muslims and their religious articles, King Abdullah has yet to send a letter of apology to Obama.

That, however, cannot be the end of it. If, according to the president, we need to apologize to Muslims because we must accept that they have such an innate, extraordinary ardor for their religion that barbaric reactions to trivial slights are inevitable, then they should not be invited to enter a civilized country. At the very least, our immigration laws should exclude entry from Muslim-majority countries unless and until those countries expressly repeal repressive sharia laws (e.g., the death penalty for apostates) and adopt American standards of non-discrimination against, tolerance of, and protection for religious minorities.

If you really want to promote freedom in Islamic countries, an immigration policy based on civil-rights reciprocity would be a lot more effective, and a lot less expensive, than dispatching tens of thousands of troops to build sharia "democracies." It would also protect Americans from people whose countries and cultures have not prepared them for the obligations of citizenship in a free society.

I disagree with McCarthy's recommendation as regards our immigration policy, but his analysis of the monumental hypocrisy is spot-on.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 27, 2012

Energy Policy: We Cannot Afford Four More Years of Obama

President Obama's anti-energy policies are not just costing us now, they will cost us far into the future. It takes time to build pipelines and drill for oil; a long time between giving the green light and when construction and drilling actually starts. No, drilling alone will not solve our energy problems, but that's a straw man the left likes to knock down. But it will help, whereas fantasies about "green energy" will only harm us. Joseph Curl at The Washington Times has it about right:

Can you really afford four more years?
by Joseph Curl
The Washington Times
Sunday, February 26, 2012

In January 2009, when President Obama was sworn in, a gallon of regular gasoline cost $1.68.

Today, it's more than double that: The price has reached $5 in parts of California and $6 just outside Florida's Disney World. In fact, prices have set a record, being so high so early in the year. By Memorial Day, America's first big travel weekend of the year, gas nationwide will average $4 and above, industry analysts predict.

Candidate Obama made political hay of the issue throughout 2008, boldly asserting that he - and he alone - was most able to bring prices down. He repeatedly said there was "no silver bullet" and "no quick fix," but on the campaign trail in Indianapolis, he told Americans, "You shouldn't have to accept any more excuses as to why it can't be done."

More than three years into office, that's all Mr. Obama offers - excuses. He blames oil companies for making a profit; blames "speculators" for pushing up the price of oil; blames Congress for not doing away with oil-industry tax breaks; blames world producers for limiting outflow to drive up prices.

But this past weekend, the president made a startling claim: "Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than at any time in the last eight years."

The claim is true, but as always, a very crafty lie of omission. America is producing more oil than eight years ago, but not because of anything the president has done. In fact, production is up only because Americans are resourceful and have battled past the obstructions Mr. Obama has erected.

"Since taking office, he has declared 85 percent of our offshore areas off-limits, decreased oil and gas leases in the Rockies by 70 percent, rejected the Keystone XL pipeline and has 10 federal agencies planning more regulation of hydraulic fracturing, which is key to oil and natural-gas development," says Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute.

The administration's own Energy Information Agency "estimates that oil production in the Gulf was down 22 percent in 2011 and projected to be down 30 percent in 2012" after Mr. Obama's Gulf moratorium policies were put in place, the API said.

So, how on Earth is America producing more oil? Because of action taken by President Bush, and even his predecessors.

"That production is a direct result of leases issued before this administration and as result of development on private and state lands," Mr. Gerard said, according to Fox News.

"On private lands, oil production is booming," wrote Fox reporter Jim Angle. "In North Dakota, the oil and gas are on private or state land and beyond the president's control. The state has gone from producing a small amount of oil to some 450,000 barrels a day. Unemployment is 3.3 percent, the lowest in the country. And the state has a budget surplus in the billions."

In this weekend's speech, Mr. Obama made more excuses. "There are no quick fixes to this problem, and you know we can't just drill our way to lower gas prices." Wrong. In fact, just saying America is going to drill for its own oil has a dramatic effect on prices. In July 2008, when gas was $3.28 a gallon, Mr. Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore drilling and urged Congress to lift the federal moratorium. Crude-oil futures plummeted nearly $10 the next day, the largest decline in 17 years.

What's more, early in Mr. Bush's tenure, debate raged over opening a tiny part of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge to drilling (just 8 percent of the more than 19 million acres in the reserve). Democrats killed the Republican proposal, saying the billions of barrels of oil wouldn't come to market for a decade.

In 2012, that oil - estimated at 1 million barrels a day for 30 years, nearly the amount the U.S. imports from Hugo Chavez's Venezuela - would be flowing.

Just last year, Mr. Obama said, "Our energy policy still is just a hodgepodge." It is just that today. Yet the president continues to push "green" energy, claiming the only answer to America's problems is to pursue an "all of the above" strategy. Last week, he said his administration is forging ahead with alternative-energy sources such as "a plant-like substance, algae."

Yes ... pond scum. Mr. Obama is officially out of ideas.

But one claim he made this weekend is absolutely true: "In 2010, our dependence on foreign oil was under 50 percent for the first time in more than a decade."

The reason? Americans can't afford to fill their cars up anymore.

A few months ago, exactly a year out from Election Day 2012, Mr. Obama pleaded for support: "I'm going to need another term to finish the job."

But America can't afford four more years of trying to turn a community organizer into a president. They'd be better off trying to turn pond scum into fuel.

Posted by Tom at 5:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

February 25, 2012

Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum: The Attacks That Will Be Made on Each

All candidates have strengths and weaknesses. In previous posts I have covered the strengths of Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. I went over Newt's negatives, and now that he's down in the polls l'm not going to cover him anymore. In this post I'll review the problem we'll face with both Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney.

This is important because if we're going to beat Obama, and we must, then we've got to know what we're going to face once we settle on a candidate.

Mitt Romney

Mitt Romney will face a challenge from the right and from the left. From the right his problem is that he has not and probably never will excite the conservative base. Selecting someone from the Tea Party right will somewhat ameliorate this, but not entirely. Romney is somewhat more acceptable to the base than McCain was, but the problem will remain and he has some making up to do.

Many conservatives, myself included, are supporting Romney because he seems the least worst choice. This is probably true, and it's also worrisome.

The other, and more serious attack, will come from the left. Winning Our Future, a pro-Newt Gingrich PAC, unhelpfully gave us a pretty good preview of what that will be like with this campaign commercial



"Vulture Capitalist" will be a household term if the Obama campaign and it's allies in the media have their way.

A Capitalist or a Community Organizer?

I wasn't initially going to include this, but I just can't resist coming to the defense of Mitt Romney here. Who do you really want running your country; someone who understands how to create jobs and boost business, or a leftwing agitator whose primary experience is in getting goodies from government for self-designated victims?

Rick Santorum

Santorum won't have much to worry about from the right, but will face a problem from the left and center. John Hinderacker of Powerline sums it up nicely:

Are there Republicans Who Think This is a Good Idea? Seriously?
by John Hinderacker
February 12, 2012

Rick Santorum is a bright, well-intentioned guy. But the idea that he is the strongest candidate the Republicans can nominate for the presidency strikes me, with all due respect, as ludicrous. Put aside the fact that Santorum lost his last race by 18 points in his home state of Pennsylvania: not exactly an auspicious way to kick off a presidential campaign. Rather, consider that Santorum has always been most passionate about the social issues. Is that really what the GOP wants to talk to voters about in 2012, when the country-the Brokest Nation In History, as Mark Steyn puts it-is $15 trillion in debt; when the Obama administration has driven our economy into the most prolonged funk since the Great Depression; and when Barack Obama has instituted the most corrupt system of cronyism in American history? Seriously?

The fate of a Santorum candidacy was foreshadowed this morning in Santorum's appearance on CBS's Face the Nation. Follow the link to read the entire, sad transcript. Here are the questions that Bob Schieffer asked Santorum, verbatim:

You are the leader in the polls this morning. And I have to say you were very busy yesterday. The Associated Press led its story of your appearance in Columbus, Ohio, by saying, quote, "Rick Santorum questioned Barack Obama's Christian values." That was after you lashed out at the President's proposal on energy of all things when you said this.

RICK SANTORUM (Republican Presidential Candidate/Former Pennsylvania Senator): It's not about you. It's not about you. It's not about your quality of life. It's not about your jobs.

MAN: Right.

RICK SANTORUM: It's about some phony ideal, some phony theology. Oh, not a theology based on the Bible, a different theology.

(Crowd applauding)

BOB SCHIEFFER: So, Senator, I've got to ask you. What- what in the world were you talking about, Sir?


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, how does that translate into some sort of theology that the President's theology is not based on the Bible. I mean that suggests that he's not a Christian.


BOB SCHIEFFER: I- I don't want to just spend the whole program on this, but was your use of the word theology, perhaps, you could have had a better word than that? I mean, don't you know that, or do you wonder that- that might lead some people to suggest that you were questioning the President's faith?


BOB SCHIEFFER: At another stop in Columbus, you took on the President on prenatal care for expectant mothers. Here's what you said at this- in this passage.

RICK SANTORUM: One of the things that you don't know about Obamacare and one of the mandates is they require free prenatal testing in every insurance policy in America. Why? Because it saves money in health care. Why? Because free prenatal testing ends up in more abortions and therefore less care that has to be done because we cull the ranks of the disabled in our society.

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, I- I have to ask you to- to give some explanation of that. You sound like you're saying that the purpose of prenatal care is to cause people to- to have abortions, to get more abortions in this country. I think there are any number testing, I think any number of people would- would say that's not the purpose at all.


BOB SCHIEFFER: Well, I- I know you know what you're talking about. I know that well. I know you also had another child that was stillborn. But-

RICK SANTORUM (overlapping): And I was-

BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): Didn't you want to know about that, just a minute.

(Cross talking)

BOB SCHIEFFER: Just hold on.

RICK SANTORUM: But what my- my child was not stillborn. My child was born alive.


RICK SANTORUM: -and he lived two hours.



BOB SCHIEFFER: I stand corrected on the stillborn. You're absolutely right. I simply misspoke. But, Senator, do you not want any kind of prenatal testing? I mean would we just turn our back on science that this is something that expectant mothers should not go through, that it's best not to know about these things ahead of time? I mean is that what you're saying here?


BOB SCHIEFFER (overlapping): You're not saying. Let me just ask you, you're not saying that the cause of this, that the President looks down on disabled people, are you? You're not accusing him of that?


BOB SCHIEFFER: And- and how you feel about this. Another thing that raised a few eyebrows yesterday, Senator, you questioned the value of all things at the public school system. Now here's what you said about that.

RICK SANTORUM: But the idea that the federal government should be running schools, frankly, much less that the state government should be running schools is anachronistic. It goes back to the time of industrialization of America when people came off the farms where they did home school or have the little neighborhood school and into these big factories. So we built equal factories called public schools.

BOB SCHIEFFER: So, there you are, Senator. I mean, are you saying that we shouldn't have public schools now? I mean I thought public schools were the foundation of American democracy.

Santorum did a reasonably good job of fielding these questions. But does anyone seriously believe that it is in the Republicans' interest for the 2012 presidential election to center on theology and gynecology? Here is Schieffer's last question of Santorum:

BOB SCHIEFFER: Senator, I want to thank you very much for being with us this morning. I had hoped to ask you about some questions about the economy. But, frankly, you made so much news yesterday, out there on the campaign trail, I felt compelled to ask you about that. Thank you so much for being with us.

That pretty much says it all. With Santorum launching one social issues bomb after another, there is no time to talk about the economy. Is this the Democratic Party's dream, or what? In a national poll that came out today, Santorum is leading Mitt Romney by eight points among likely Republican voters. Can Republicans possibly be that foolish? Is it conceivable that a president with Obama's lousy record could coast to victory, virtually by default, because the Republicans nominate a candidate who would rather talk about gynecology than debt? At the moment, that prospect does not seem far-fetched.

In short, the Democrats and their allies in the media will try to make the campaign about contraception, abortion, and "women's rights." Santorum will foolishly not shut up about the subjects but will provide just enough ammunition to keep it going.

The Hypocrisy of the Left

Just as I couldn't leave it alone about Mitt Romney, I cannot write this without coming to the defense here too; the left is astoundingly hypocritical about Rick Santorum and the issue of religion.

Never mind that Barack Obama went to what can only be described as a racist church and listened to a kook hatemonger preacher for 20 years, and only left because it became politically expedient to do so. No, Rick Santorum is the bad guy because he follows the teachings of the Catholic Church, the largest and oldest church in Christendom.

Either Romney or Santorum is Better than Obama

I wasn't going to write this either, but once again I feel compelled to say that either Rick Santorum, or for that matter Newt Gingrich would be better than another four years of Barack Obama. The question is, which type of attacks can we fend off better: "Vulture capitalist" or "abortion/contraception extremist?"

Posted by Tom at 9:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 21, 2012

"Social Security Is Failing Even Faster Than We Thought"

We either get a handle on entitlements or they will sink us. We can't allow Social Security to be the third rail of politics anymore. Easy to say, hard to do, I know. There are no easy answers, and a many who don't want to do anything as long as they get their share when they are alive. Consider this post more of a warning and solicitation for genuine ideas than anything else.

Social Security Is Failing Even Faster Than We Thought Daily Finance By Chuck Saletta Posted 9:50AM 02/14/12

In last year's Trustees Report, the Social Security Administration warned that the program's trust fund was likely to run out of money in 2036, leading to deep cuts in benefits. If that weren't bad enough for anyone expecting to be alive then, a more recent projection from the Congressional Budget Office paints a much worse picture.

This year's CBO report forecasts that by the end of this decade, the combined Social Security Old Age and Disability Trust Funds will be about $800 billion smaller than last year's SSA projections. That's a very substantial drop -- and a sign that this year's Trustees Report will likely bring another downward revision to the year it expects those Trust Funds to dry up and benefits to be cut.

What a Difference a Year Makes

The table below shows that widening chasm between last year's SSA projections and this year's CBO projection:

Year---- 2011 SS Trustee's Report--- 2012 CBO Baseline Projections-----Difference

Numbers are in billions. Sources: Congressional Budget Office, Social Security Administration.

Sure, they're different agencies and may have different methods behind their projections. But last January's CBO numbers put the combined Trust Fund balances at $3,409 billion in 2020 -- much closer to what the SSA was projecting. That suggests that when the 2012 Trustees Report comes out, its own projections will probably be revised downward as well -- closer to the CBO numbers.

A downward revision wouldn't be anything new for the Social Security Administration. Check out the trend over the past five years:

Trustee Report Year-----Estimated "Run Dry" Date

With several hundred billion in projected 2020 dollars vanishing in less than a year, it wouldn't be surprising to see the 2012 Trustees Report lopping another year or two off the projected run-out-of-cash date. And remember, when the Trust Fund runs out of cash, benefit payments are expected to fall, too.

Time is running out

If you're expecting to retire and are planning to rely significantly on Social Security, this is bad news indeed. Quite simply, it means time is becoming your enemy on both sides. On one side, you're a year closer to your anticipated retirement date. On the other side, the day you can no longer count on your full anticipated Social Security benefit keeps getting pulled closer, too. Put the two together, and the message gets crystal clear: Save more for your own retirement, or face a scary -- and rapidly approaching -- future.

Assume, for the sake of discussion, that Social Security's 2012 projection moves the Trust Fund expiration date closer by two years to 2034. That's still 22 years away -- enough time to do something about it, but approaching the point where it gets significantly tougher to catch up.

As of January 2012, the average Social Security check for a retired worker was around $1,229 per month. When the Trust Fund is gone, that amount is expected to fall by about a quarter. That works out to a shortfall of around $307.25 per month. Using what's known as the 4% rule, covering that gap from your own investments will require $92,175 in additional savings. The table below shows how much you'd need to save each month to reach that number, depending on how many years head start you get and what rate of return you achieve:

Years to go---10% Annual Return---8% Return---6% Return---4% Return---2% Return
5________$1,190.32___________$1,254.48__$1,321.13___$1,390.29 _$1,462.00

Source: Author's calculations.

The bottom line is simple: Social Security's Trust Fund is on borrowed time. You still have the opportunity to save enough to make up for what you'll be missing when it's gone, but you need to get started on it now, or it'll soon become an impossibly high hurdle to clear.

Posted by Tom at 5:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 19, 2012

More Reasons Why Obama Wants to Talk About Contraception

One reason why President Obama wants to talk about contraception is that he wants to show those Catholics and other Christians who's boss. Another is this:



Chart via Powerline

Here's another:


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February 17, 2012

The Truth Behind Obamacare and the HHS "Preventive Care" Mandate

So why in the world would President Obama pick a fight with 70 odd million American Catholics? For that matter, why would he pick a fight at all with anyone over part of his healthcare bill?

Via Powerline, Paul Rahe has the answer: It was part of a planned strategy, and the decision was only taken after consultation with a wide variety of Democrats.

More Than a Touch of Malice
Paul A. Rahe
Feb. 16, 2012

[T]here can be only one reason why Sebelius, Pelosi, and Obama decided to proceed. They wanted to show the bishops and the Catholic laity who is boss. They wanted to make those who think contraception wrong and abortion a species of murder complicit in both. They wanted to rub the noses of their opponents in it. They wanted to marginalize them. Humiliation was, in fact, their only aim, and malice, their motive.

Last week, when, in response to the fierce resistance he had deliberately stirred up, the President offered the bishops what he called "an accommodation," what he proffered was nothing more than a fig leaf. His maneuver was, in fact, a gesture of contempt, and I believe that it was Barack Obama's final offer. From his perspective and from that of Sebelius and Pelosi, the genuine Catholics still within the Democratic coalition are no more than what Vladimir Lenin called "useful idiots," and, now that the progressive project is near completion, they are expendable - for there is no longer any need to curry their favor.

In his piece in The Washington Examiner, Michael Barone mentioned Obama's decree with regard to contraception and abortifacients in tandem with a brief discussion of the President's decision to reject the construction of the Keystone Pipeline. He was, I think, right to do so - for there is no good reason that any student of public policy can cite for doing what the President did. Cancelling the pipeline will not delay or stop the extraction of oil from the tar sands in Alberta, and the pipeline itself would pose no environmental threat. If the President's decision had any purpose, it was symbolic - an indication to all that he cared not one whit about the plight of the white working class and that he was capable of punishing those whom he does not like and more than willing to do so.

In 2008, when he first ran for the Presidency, Barack Obama posed as a moderate most of the time. This time, he is openly running as a radical. His aim is to win a mandate for the fundamental transformation of the United States that he promised in passing on the eve of his election four years ago and that he promised again when he called his administration The New Foundation. In the process, he intends to reshape the Democratic coalition - to bring the old hypocrisy to an end, to eliminate those who stand in the way of the final consolidation of the administrative entitlements state, to drive out the faithful Catholics once and for all, to jettison the white working class, and to build a new American regime on a coalition of highly educated upper-middle class whites, feminists, African-Americans, Hispanics, illegal immigrants, and those belonging to the public-sector unions. To Americans outside this coalition, he intends to show no mercy.

Mark my words. If Barack Obama wins in November, he will force the Catholic hospitals to perform abortions, and the bishops, priests, and nuns who fostered the steady growth of the administrative entitlements state, thinking that they were pursuing "the common good," will reap what they have sown.

In the end, politics has as its focus persuasion. Our difficulties are a function of policy, not of mismanagement. If we are to stop Barack Obama in 2012, we will have to find a standard-bearer who can articulate a compelling argument against the administrative entitlements state and, by means of persuasion and praxis, reverse our democracy's inexorable soft despotic drift. Let us hope that one or another of the remaining candidates rises to the occasion.

This is ominous. It's not enough for Obama to force radical legislation through Congress without a single vote from the other party. But no opposition to any of his agenda is permitted. He ran for election as a moderate, and despite the attempts by many of us on the right to show otherwise, most of the media and American people took him at his word. If anyone had any doubt, he has certainly now been revealed for the leftist radical he his.

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February 15, 2012

A Political Budget Divorced From Reality Part II

It's not just us dastardly right-wingers who've noticed that President Obama's budget is a fake. An email I received today from the RNC goes through a whole host of media outlets that blast the president over his fraudulent budget proposal. You know he's in trouble when he's losing NPR:

Obama's Budget Is A Political Document That Breaks His Promises On The Deficit While Shirking His Duties To Tackle The Nation's Debt OBAMA'S BUDGET IS A POLITICAL DOCUMENT FOR RUNNING A RE-ELECTION CAMPAIGN, NOT A GOVERNMENT

Bloomberg's Julianna Goldman: "What It Really Does Is It Fleshes Out The President's Blueprint For His Campaign." "The White House says that this budget fleshes out the President's blueprint for America, but what it really does is it fleshes out the President's blueprint for his campaign. He's essentially putting deficit-reduction on the back burner." (Bloomberg's " With Betty Liu," 2/13/12)

* Bloomberg 's Juliana Goldman: "This Is A Real Miss For The President." "Well, when you look at the projections for the deficit, this is a real miss for the President. Remember, he had promised to cut the deficit in half by the end of his first term, Betty." (Bloomberg's "With Betty Liu," 2/13/12)
* Watch Video Here

National Public Radio: "Rather than a realistic road map for government spending, the White House budget is likely to serve as a political tool in the president's re-election bid." (Scott Horsley, "Obama's Budget: Political Tool Or Spending Plan?" National Public Radio , 2/13/12)

ABC News: Obama "Doubles Down On Populist Proposals Central To His Re-Election Campaign." "President Obama today officially unveils a 2013 budget that outlines his tax and spending priorities for the coming year, and doubles down on populist proposals central to his re-election campaign." (Devin Dwyer, "Obama Budget Doubles Down on Populist Proposals," ABC News, 2/13/12)

The New York Times: The Budget Is "Seen As More A Platform For The President's Re-Election Campaign Than A Legislative Proposal." "But the latest budget document can be seen as more a platform for the president's re-election campaign than a legislative proposal for budget debates that will begin next week." (Jackie Calmes, "Obama's Budget To Focus On Cutting Deficit And Adding Jobs," The New York Times, 2/10/12)

The Wall Street Journal: "Administration Officials Acknowledge That The Bulk Of Their Plan Is A Campaign Blueprint More Than Anything." "But administration officials acknowledge that the bulk of their plan is a campaign blueprint more than anything-at least until the end of the year." (Damian Paletta and Laura Meckler, "Budget Sets Stage For Year-End Clash," The Wall Street Journal, 2/13/12)


The Washington Post's Ezra Klein: "The Obama Administration Is Officially Breaking Its Promise To Halve The Deficit By The End Of Their First Term." (Ezra Klein, "Wonkbook: 5 Things To Watch In Obama's 2013 Budget," The Washington Post 's Wonkbook, 2/13/12)

* Klein: "The 2013 budget envisions a deficit of more than $1 trillion -- not halved by any stretch of the imagination." (Ezra Klein, "Wonkbook: 5 Things To Watch In Obama's 2013 Budget," The Washington Post's Wonkbook, 2/13/12)

The New York Times: Obama's Budget "Will Show Mr. Obama Has Failed To Meet His Pledge To Cut The Deficit In Half By The End Of His First Term." "But the document's numbers will show Mr. Obama has failed to meet his pledge to cut the deficit in half by the end of his term, and for Republicans, that will be the bottom line." (Jackie Calmes, "Obama's Budget To Focus On Cutting Deficit And Adding Jobs," The New York Times, 2/10/12)

USA Today : Obama Will Fall "Far Short Of His Goal To Halve The Deficit In Four Years." "President Obama's proposed 2013 budget will forecast a $901 billion deficit for next year, falling far short of his goal to halve the deficit in four years." (Richard Wolf, "Obama Budget To Miss Deficit Goal," USA Today's "The Oval," 2/10/12)

* USA Today: "The Budget Will Show A Higher Deficit This Year Than In 2011." "The budget will show a higher deficit this year than in 2011, up from $1.3 trillion to $1.33 trillion. And the projected decline to $901 billion in 2013 is dependent on enactment of the president's policies, including spending reductions agreed to last summer and ending George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy at the end of this year." (Richard Wolf, "Obama Budget To Miss Deficit Goal,"USA Today's "The Oval," 2/10/12)

ABC News: "But despite such cuts, the president's budget would mark the fourth straight year that deficit spending exceeds $1 trillion and falls well short of his 2009 promise to 'cut the deficit we inherited by half by the end of my first term in office.'" (Devin Dwyer, "Obama Budget Doubles Down on Populist Proposals," ABC News, 2/13/12)

Politico: "And Looking Back At Obama's First Budget In May 2009, He Almost Appears To Be Alice's Red Queen, Running Hard Just To Stay In Place." "Republicans were quick to pounce on the higher deficit numbers, reported earlier in the day by the Wall Street Journal. And looking back at Obama's first budget in May 2009, he almost appears to be Alice's Red Queen, running hard just to stay in place." (David Rogers, "Obama Budget Goes Big On Highways," Politico, 2/10/12)

* Politico: "The $1.33 Trillion Deficit For This Fiscal Year, Ending Sept. 30, Is Almost Identical To The $1.25 Trillion Deficit Obama Predicted Then For Fiscal 2010." (David Rogers, "Obama Budget Goes Big On Highways," Politico, 2/10/12)


Former U.S. Comptroller David Walker: "We Are Not Going To See Any Significant Tax, Social Insurance Or Other Reforms Before The Election." (CNBC's, "Squawk Box" 2/13/12)

* Walker: "It Should Have Been Much More Specific, Much More Substantive Than It Is." (CNBC's, "Squawk Box" 2/13/12)
* Watch The Video

The Hill: Obama Is Not Going To Outline A Plan For Medicare's "Long-Term Demographic Challenge." "He has so far not outlined a plan that would deal with Medicare's long-term demographic challenge. Experts do not expect him to do so, giving the GOP a chance to once again draw a contrast." (Erik Wasson, "Obama's Budget: 10 Takeaways," The Hill, 2/11/12)

* The Hill: "Nothing Is Expected On Social Security." (Erik Wasson, "Obama's Budget: 10 Takeaways," The Hill, 2/11/12)

Los Angeles Times: "But The President's Budget, Like His Previous Proposals, Steers Clear Of Major Changes." (Kathleen Hennessey and Christi Parsons, "Obama Budget Is Preview Of Election Battle," Los Angeles Times, 2/13/12)

The Boston Herald: "President Barack Obama has apparently decided that he is not going to be part of the solution to the nation's enormous deficit - which would make him, yes, part of the problem." (Editorial, "Obama Punts On Budget," The Boston Herald, 2/13/12)

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February 14, 2012

A Political Budget Divorced From Reality

President Obama's budget is designed soley to pick a fight with Republicans. It is not a serious proposal because almost all Democrats in Congress will vote against it. The budget he introducted hikes taxes, increases spending, and which results in gargantuan deficits as far as the eye can see. He makes not even a symbolic attempt to reform our unsustainable entitlement programs. Spending on Social Security and Medicare will go up faster than any conceivable economic growth and/or increase in tax rates can possibly pay for.

Liberals need to explain why, if Obama's budget is so great, not a single Democrat is poised to support it.

What Obama wants is to draw a clear line between his vision and that of the GOP. He wanted to pick a fight. The sole purpose of his budget to position himself for November. This, I think was also why he, through Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, issued the order that even religious organizations must cover contraception and abortifacients in their health care plans; because he knew that it would stir a great big controversy that would make him look good to his leftist base.

Obama Unveils Fiscal 2013 Budget
The Washington Times
by Dave Boyer
February 13, 2012

Unveiling a $3.8 trillion election-year federal budget loaded with deficits, tax increases and hundreds of billions of dollars in new stimulus spending, President Obama said Monday that his plan will "restore an economy where everybody gets a fair shot."

"The economy is growing stronger, the recovery is speeding up," Mr. Obama said at Northern Virginia Community College in Annandale, Va., where he also proposed a new job-training program. "We can't cut back on those things that are important for us to grow."

Drawing a number of battle lines for the fall campaign, Mr. Obama is inviting another clash with congressional Republicans by calling for short-term spending to create jobs with proposals that GOP lawmakers already have rejected. He would spend $50 billion immediately on transportation infrastructure, $30 billion to modernize schools and $30 billion to hire teachers and emergency workers.

His budget -- which calls for a total of $350 billion in short-term stimulus spending, a $475 billion highway program and $1.5 trillion in tax increases on wealthier Americans -- has virtually no chance of passing as is, but is intended to highlight the differences between the two parties as Mr. Obama seeks re-election. It would impose a 30 percent minimum tax on those earning $1 million or more.

Mr. Obama also proposes to raise taxes on investment income for families earning more than $250,000. He would tax dividends as ordinary income, raising the top tax rate from 15 percent to 39.6 percent. Taxes on capital gains for the top income bracket would rise from 15 percent to 20 percent.

The president said families earning more than $250,000 per year don't need more tax breaks, but the country needs the money from tax hikes to pay for essential programs for the middle class.

The president's budget request for fiscal 2013 anticipates borrowing a total of $901 billion, which would be the first time since Mr. Obama took office that the deficit falls below $1 trillion. But the spending plan pegs the deficit for the current fiscal year, which ends Sept. 30, at $1.33 trillion, nearly the same level it was three years after the president promised to cut it in half by the end of 2012.

What did I tell you? More spending, fake cuts, higher taxes, and gargantuan deficits. And as we shall see, once again Obama is understating what he 2013 deficit will be.

And this from a president who came into office promising to cut the deficit.

With all this spending, you'd think that all parts of the government would be growing. But one part will suffer.

Pentagon Budget Cuts Weapons, Troops in 2013
The Washington Times
by Rowan Scarborough
February 12, 2013

The Pentagon is not cutting just manpower to reach deficit-reduction targets: Its 2013 budget released Monday shows the military will spend less on new weapons after two grueling wars.

The procurement line in the $525 billion spending plan calls for $108 billion next year to buy big and small weapon systems such as guns, ships and jet fighters, down nearly 30 percent from 2011.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced budget details last month, with a focus on how the Army and Marine Corps will shed 90,000 troops to save money over the next decade.

The detailed budget shows the services will have less buying power too, as the Air Force copes with an aging fleet of tactical combat aircraft whose average age of 22 years puts them near retirement.

The Navy has $13.5 billion to buy new ships, down from $15 billion two years ago. Analysts doubt the 285-ship Navy can reach its goal of 313 ships in the next five years.
Army procurement drops to $21 billion, from $34 billion in 2011 and $24 billion last year.

The squeeze is part of the Pentagon's blueprint to slash $487 billion in projected spending over the next 10 years to comply with the Budget Control Act. The $525 billion base budget is about $5 billion lower than this year's, setting the stage for a defense downturn not seen since the post-Soviet 1990s.

At a time when China and Iran are on the march, we are disarming.

Krauthammer's Take
February 14, 2012
From Fox's Special Report with Bret Baier | Monday, February 13, 2012
On President Obama's 2013 budget:

The first two years he said "I can't do anything about debt because the recession is on. So I'll appoint a commission which will report after the mid-term election and do it." Of course the [Simpson Bowles] commission reports in December of 2010 and he does nothing about it. He submits a budget last year which was so preposterous -- did nothing about debt, increased it -- that the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, rejected it 97 to 0. Which is why the budget he submitted today, which is even worse than last year's, is something that Harry Reid doesn't want to go to the Senate floor because it will be rejected and laughed out of the Senate.

How big are the deficits?

Ball Four
National Review
The Editors
February 14, 2012

President Obama's first budget projected 2010-2012 annual deficits of $1.17 trillion, $912 billion, and $581 billion, respectively. The actual deficits for those years were $1.29 trillion, $1.3 trillion, and (a projected) $1.33 trillion.

More on the insanity

Spend, Tax, Retreat National Review
by Rich Lowry
February 14, 2012

Over ten years, spending will increase from $3.8 trillion to $5.8 trillion, for $47 trillion total. Spending doesn't decline in any year. As recently as the end of the Clinton years, spending was about 18 percent of GDP. President Obama plans to spend more than 22 percent of GDP every single year of his hoped-for two terms in office. In 2022, spending will be almost 23 percent of GDP. The increase in spending that we were told was an emergency response to the recession becomes the new normal.

The president wants to chase the new spending with almost $2 trillion in new taxes -- higher taxes on income, on dividends, on capital gains, and on sundry other targets. Tax receipts will double from $2.5 trillion to $5.1 trillion and hit a little more than 20 percent of GDP in 2022, well above the average since 1940 of 17.4 percent.

Overall security spending -- a broad category that includes more than just defense -- will go from 5.2 percent of GDP to 3.4 percent. At the same time we are told we are pivoting toward an Asia threatened by a rising China.

But It's Bush's Fault!

Er, no. His deficits, while too high, were small compared to what Obama is doing

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February 13, 2012

Obama's Fake "Compromise" on Contraception and Abortifacients

It's bad enough that abortion up to birth has to be legal, but the Obama Administration demands that everyone pays for it as well. Their recent ruling on contraception and abortifacients is one of their more abhorrent along these lines. The recently announced compromise is a joke.

During the 2008 election, I showed numerous times in posts that Obama was one of the most extreme politicians in the country with regard to abortion.

He also doesn't care much for the rights of religious organizations, or their sense of ethics and morality. But what do we expect from a man who went to Trinity United for 20 years and listened to Pastor Jeremiah Wright.

Obama's Free Abortion Pills
Revised White House contraception rule changes nothing
The Washington Times
February 10, 2012

Someone should tell President Obama there's no such thing as a free abortion pill. The White House is trying to douse a political wildfire sparked by an Obamacare mandate forcing religiously affiliated institutions to provide a full range of contraception measures for employees - including pills that induce abortions. Catholic and other religious leaders with principled objections cried foul, citing promises that they and their affiliates would be covered by a "conscience waiver" for any provisions of the law that created this kind of moral dilemma. On Friday Mr. Obama proposed a new rule whereby the onus would be on the insurance companies who cover the employees to reach out with cost-free contraceptives.

It was typical of the administration to make the proposed deal a giveaway program. Mr. Obama seems to be saying that if you don't see who is paying for the abortion pills then no one is. "Religious organizations won't have to pay for these services," he said. But of course they will. Insurance companies may be required by law to provide these services at no cost to the recipient, but costs are still involved. Employers will still be directly subsidizing the birth control plan. It was a classic Obama compromise; he gets 100 percent of what he wants and the other side gets a lecture about fairness.

Mr. Obama accused his opponents of politicizing the issue, which is what he usually says when people object to his extravagant use of government power. His proposed new rule is a pure election-year ploy. The White House cannot afford to bend on this issue and risk alienating feminists. Obama campaign planners may even see it as a useful wedge issue to keep women voters in the Democratic column. Even though Mr. Obama announced his decision "as a citizen and as a Christian," the White House is under no illusions that they will win the majority of votes of religiously observant Americans. According to Gallup weekly poll data, Americans who attend church weekly track 7 points below Mr. Obama's average approval rating, while those who seldom or never attend church are 4 points above. In a contest between the believers and the feminists, the Christians are clearly expendable.

The new rule does not address the root of the problem, which is nationalized health care. Mr. Obama's assumed power to dictate what types of coverage insurance companies must provide, and consequently what services employers must pay for, is what created this issue. Obscuring how religiously affiliated employers will have to support things they consider morally objectionable does not address the core principle. Mr. Obama still believes that the government has the power to force its will on religious institutions in the name of liberal dogma.

The fundamental issue is not health care, but freedom. America was founded in part as a haven for the exercise of religious liberty. A one-size-fits-all government mandated health care system necessarily will impinge on the rights of any religious denomination. No cleverly crafted, politically motivated tweaking of the rules will change that. Catholics will still be paying for abortion pills, like it or not.

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Will Unforced Errors Cost the GOP the Election?

John Hinderacker at Powerline says something that's been on my mind for some time. I don't think that the election is at all lost for us, just that there are warning signs that despite Obama's weakness we are committing a lot of unforced errors.

Is 2012 Slipping Away from the GOP?
by John Hinderacker
February 9, 2012

For a long time, I was confident that Republican voters would oust Barack Obama in 2012, hold the House and, in all likelihood, take the Senate. Obama is a weak incumbent, who has been chronically unpopular since early in his term. His re-elect numbers are weaker than historically have ever worked for incumbent presidents. On paper, he is ripe for the picking.

Nevertheless, if you are a Republican, the vibes are very bad. The presidential primary season has turned into a disaster, in my view. Mitt Romney has shown a discouraging inability to appeal to the party's base, while the race has damaged both Romney and the party. Newt Gingrich, in particular, sacrificed the party to his own ego by launching left-wing attacks against Romney. Gingrich is gone as a Republican contender, but we will see more of him in the fall, in Obama ads. What a swan song for someone who once led the conservative movement!

Rick Santorum is a bright guy who has performed well in the debates, and he is hot, this week, in the Republican base. But he doesn't have the chance of a snowball in Hell of being elected president. He couldn't even get re-elected to the Senate in his home state of Pennsylvania in 2006. The 2012 election will be almost entirely about the economy, although national security is always relevant to a presidential contest. It would be suicidal for the GOP to nominate a candidate whose signature issues are gay marriage and abortion. At the end of the day, the party won't be that dumb. But the fact that the party's base is flirting with Santorum manifests a lack of seriousness that may prove fatal in November.

Meanwhile, President Obama is quietly staging a comeback. Optimism about the economy is growing at the same time that the Republican Party is, in most peoples' eyes, making a fool of itself, so it is hard to identify the main cause of Obama's resurgence. But you can see Obama's comeback in Scott Rasmussen's Approval Index. Currently, Obama is only -11, compared to -20 or -21, and his overall approval among likely voters is not too bad, at 50/49.


Obama has been nowhere near even in the Approval Index since early in his term. He has, in that respect, an astonishingly low ceiling. Some would say that this makes him unelectable to a second four years. But it is hard to escape the sense that the Republicans are blowing it. Barack Obama has run the national debt up to $15 trillion. Who is talking about that scandal? Jeff Sessions. Paul Ryan. Us. Who else? You shouldn't be able to get a haircut without hearing people talking about our children's debt in the barbershop. And there are fewer Americans working today than when Obama took office, largely as a result of his administration's moronic anti-growth policies. How can a president with such a poor record hope to be re-elected? Why does Obama even have a chance?

The answer is threefold: 1) Barack Obama may be a horrible president, but he is the biggest moneybags in the history of politics. He will raise a billion dollars, plus his SuperPac. The Republican candidate, whoever he may be, will be swamped by Democratic Party, rich liberal and labor union money. And it is worth noting that a large majority of the GOP's activists who now take such an arrogant attitude toward the Republican contenders will contribute little or nothing to the eventual nominee. 2) The press is now falling into ranks, forming a solid phalanx that will try to re-elect their candidate, no matter how disappointed in him they may be. For the next eight or nine months we will see the most nauseating political effort ever undertaken by the "mainstream" liberal press. 3) Sadly, the fratricidal Republican Party has blown its opportunity in the primary season to educate the American people on the economic and foreign policy fiasco that the Obama administration has been.

So, do I think the 2012 election is slipping away from conservatives, Republicans, and the American people? Yes, I do. This is a year in which it was incumbent on conservatives to pursue, soberly, the overriding goal of evicting Barack Obama from the White House. We didn't do that; in fact, it wouldn't be far off the mark to say that we made fools of ourselves by chasing one will o' the wisp after another. I fear that in November, we will pay the price.

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February 9, 2012

The Gospel of Global Warming, er "Climate Change," Takes Another Hit

From Powerline:

And the House of Cards Starts to Come Down
by Steven Hayward
February 9, 2012

As John noted here Tuesday, and I have noted several times over the last few weeks, the climate campaign is suffering body blows on an almost daily basis. The latest is the report, based on new and more comprehensive satellite data, that the ice melt in the Himalayas has been nil--zip, zilch, nada--over the last ten years. Here's how the left-wing Guardian newspaper in Britain reports it:

The world's greatest snow-capped peaks, which run in a chain from the Himalayas to Tian Shan on the border of China and Kyrgyzstan, have lost no ice over the last decade, new research shows.

The discovery has stunned scientists, who had believed that around 50bn tonnes of meltwater were being shed each year and not being replaced by new snowfall.

The study is the first to survey all the world's icecaps and glaciers and was made possible by the use of satellite data. Overall, the contribution of melting ice outside the two largest caps - Greenland and Antarctica - is much less than previously estimated, with the lack of ice loss in the Himalayas and the other high peaks of Asia responsible for most of the discrepancy.

Bristol University glaciologist Prof Jonathan Bamber, who was not part of the research team, said: "The very unexpected result was the negligible mass loss from high mountain Asia, which is not significantly different from zero."

It's fun watching these guys fall on their face in real time. The whole circus is falling apart much faster than I expected. I can tell you that around Washington the whole climate change angle is slowly being dropped from conversation about everything. It's almost like talking with normal people again.

It'd be funny but for the eco-tyranny they're trying to force on us.


Go now to this must-read post over at Mike's America - Three Charts Debunk the Manmade Global Warming Myth: Sadly, there is too much money at stake for the alarmists to accept other scientific views! Yup, it's mostly the sun that's to blame.

Posted by Tom at 7:40 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

We Don't Need No Stinking Budget!

The irresponsibility of the Senate Democrats continues. It's been 1,000 days now and counting since Senate Democrats offered a budget. From Powerline:

Budget? Who Needs a Budget?
February 3, 2012
by John Hinderacker

Barack Obama and the Democrats in Congress have set a new standard of irresponsibility: for the third year in a row, Harry Reid announced that he would not allow a vote on a FY 2013 budget to come to the floor of the Senate. "We do not need to bring a budget to the floor this year," Reid told a conference call with reporters.

This year? How about last year, or the year before? The Obama administration has become a budget-free zone, in flagrant violation of federal law, which prescribes a process for developing a federal budget which the Democrats have simply flouted. Has our nation ever seen such fecklessness? $15 trillion in debt, the credit of the United States being downgraded, hundreds of thousands leaving the labor force, and the Democrats don't think our government should have a budget? Or a plan to dig our way out of a $15 trillion hole? How out of touch can the Democrats be?

Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL) responded to Reid's thumbing his nose at federal law:

It's been more than 1,000 days since Senate Democrats have offered a budget plan to the American people. Now, once again, the Senate's ineffectual Democrat majority balks at the task of leadership. Majority Leader Reid is denying the American people the opportunity to become engaged in the debate about the nation's fiscal future and the difficult choices we face. He obviously continues in his belief that it would be politically foolish for his members to go on record in support of any long-term vision. But by refusing to lay out a budget plan for public examination--a fact no one can deny--the Democrat Senate has forfeited the high privilege to lead this chamber. If Sen. Reid and his members stand by this announcement, it means that the American people will go through yet another year of crisis without Senate Democrats unveiling and standing behind a financial plan for our future.

Budget Control Act spending caps, crafted behind closed doors and rushed to passage at the 11th hour under threat of panic, do not even approach the definition of the budget process that the law requires. They are not in any way or any sense a Senate Democrat budget plan. There is no argument that can be made that these caps are a long-term vision for this country--not on taxes, not on entitlements, not on spending, not on debt. Presumably, this obvious fact is why Chairman Conrad has said he will mark up a budget in our Committee. However, this process will be eviscerated if Sen. Reid refuses to allow a budget resolution to come to the floor.

I will continue to insist that the public process be carried out and that Senate Democrats bring an actual budget resolution to the Senate floor.

Paul Ryan (R-WI-1)said:

Earlier today, Senate Democrats confirmed that they've given up on budgeting. What a disgrace. Senate Majority Leader Reid's refusal to budget is a recipe for crisis. By refusing to confront the storm clouds ahead, Senate Democrats are committing our nation to a future of debt, doubt and decline.

The Democratic Party has demonstrated that it is incapable of leading and incapable of governing. Why would anyone vote for a Democrat for any office?

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February 4, 2012

Reverend Obama and the Gospel of Taxes

It's apparently ok to mix religion and politics if you're a liberal trying to jack up taxes for your favorite social programs. From the Powerline Blog:

Render Unto Barry
by Scott Johnson
February 3, 2012

President Obama advertised some big endorsements for his tax-the-rich more policies and class warfare reelection strategy yesterday. In a speech at the National Prayer Breakfast -- text here, video below -- Obama made the case that Jesus, Muhammad, Moses and Plato (?!) are all on board with him, although that may be understating the matter:

[W]hen I talk about shared responsibility, it's because I genuinely believe that in a time when many folks are struggling, at a time when we have enormous deficits, it's hard for me to ask seniors on a fixed income, or young people with student loans, or middle-class families who can barely pay the bills to shoulder the burden alone. I think to myself, if I'm willing to give something up as somebody who's been extraordinarily blessed, and give up some of the tax breaks that I enjoy, I actually think that's going to make economic sense.
But for me as a Christian, it also coincides with Jesus's teaching that "for unto whom much is given, much shall be required." It mirrors the Islamic belief that those who've been blessed have an obligation to use those blessings to help others, or the Jewish doctrine of moderation and consideration for others.

Reverend Obama not only offers up the endorsement of Jesus for his economic policies, he also presents himself as standing in the shoes of Jesus, requiring much from those to whom much is given.

I don't recognize the teachings of traditional Judaism in the heart of Obama's teaching. Compare Maimonides' "eight degrees of charity." As for Obama's invocation of Jesus, when Obama demands that "the rich" pay their "fair share" -- the text implicitly underlying yesterday's sermon -- Obama is closer to Caesar than to God.

Good grief. Couple of points here.

The verse the president cited is from Luke 12:48, and rather than quote the the entire book I suggest readers follow the link (or whip out your bible) and read it for themselves. What it essentially means is that you should not be stingy with what you have, but that you should give generously. This includes time, talent, and money. It also means to the church as well as the poor.

But the Bible also makes clear that it's all to be voluntary (and yes I've read the entire Bible front to back). Indeed, that's the point. Giving, like Faith, must be voluntary to be meaningful. A forced conversion to any religion is no faith at all, and forced contributions to a government or any other entity defeats the entire purpose of what God is trying to achieve. He wants you to believe in Him and give generously of your time, talent, and money, but He also gives you the free will to make the decision for yourself.

It's all summed up in Matthew 6: 1-4 (NIV):

"Be careful not to do your 'acts of righteousness' before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

"So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

So while we are commanded to be generous, we must also not brag about it.

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Celebrate Conformity - Or Else!

Mark Steyn is one of the most insightful writers of our time. His last book, America Alone: the End of the World as We Know It (reviewed by me here), is a classic, if a thoroughly depressing one. I'm currently reading his latest, After America: Get Ready for Armageddon, and will have a review up on it next month. Liberals are famously intolerant of alternative opinions and thuggish in their enforcement, as the Susan G. Komen Foundation/Planned Parenthood imbroglio demonstrates. Having been a victim of liberal intolerance in Canada (see here and here), he knows what it's all about. From his column in National Review:

The Liberal Enforcers
Komen couldn't be permitted to get away with disrespecting Big Abortion.
February 4, 2012
By Mark Steyn

As Senator Obama said during the 2008 campaign, words matter. Modern "liberalism" is strikingly illiberal; the high priests of "tolerance" are increasingly intolerant of even the mildest dissent; and those who profess to "celebrate diversity" coerce ever more ruthlessly a narrow homogeneity. Thus, the Obama administration's insistence that Catholic institutions must be compelled to provide free contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients. This has less to do with any utilitarian benefit a condomless janitor at a Catholic school might derive from Obamacare, and more to do with the liberal muscle of Big Tolerance enforcing one-size-fits-all diversity.

The bigger the Big Government, the smaller everything else: In Sweden, expressing a moral objection to homosexuality is illegal, even on religious grounds, even in church, and a pastor minded to cite the more robust verses of Leviticus would risk four years in jail. In Canada, the courts rule that Catholic schools must allow gay students to take their same-sex dates to the prom. The secular state's Bureau of Compliance is merciless to apostates to a degree even your fire-breathing imams might marvel at.

Consider the current travails of the Susan G. Komen Foundation. This is the group responsible for introducing the pink "awareness raising" ribbon for breast cancer -- as emblematic a symbol of America's descent into postmodernism as anything. It has spawned a thousand other colored "awareness raising" ribbons: My current favorite is the periwinkle ribbon for acid reflux. We have had phenomenal breakthroughs in hues of awareness-raising ribbons, and for this the Susan G. Komen Foundation deserves due credit.

Until the other day, Komen were also generous patrons of Planned Parenthood, the "women's health" organization. The foundation then decided it preferred to focus on organizations that are "providing the lifesaving mammogram." Planned Parenthood does not provide mammograms, despite its president, Cecile Richards, testifying to the contrary before Congress last year. Rather, Planned Parenthood provides abortions; it's the biggest abortion provider in the United States. For the breast-cancer bigwigs to wish to target their grants more relevantly is surely understandable.

But not if you're a liberal enforcer. Senator Barbara Boxer, with characteristic understatement, compared the Komen Foundation's Nancy Brinker to Joe McCarthy: "I'm reminded of the McCarthy era, where somebody said: 'Oh,' a congressman stands up, a senator, 'I'm investigating this organization and therefore people should stop funding them.'" But Komen is not a congressman or a senator or any other part of the government, only a private organization. And therefore it is free to give its money to whomever it wishes, isn't it?

Dream on. Liberals take the same view as the proprietors of the Dar al-Islam: Once they hold this land, they hold it forever. Notwithstanding that those who give to the foundation are specifically giving to support breast-cancer research, Komen could not be permitted to get away with disrespecting Big Abortion. We don't want to return to the bad old days of the back alley, when a poor vulnerable person who made the mistake of stepping out of line had to be forced into the shadows and have the realities explained to them with a tire iron. Now Big Liberalism's enforcers do it on the front pages with the panjandrums of tolerance and diversity cheering them all the way. In the wake of Komen's decision, the Yale School of Public Health told the Washington Post's Sarah Kliff that its invitation to Nancy Brinker to be its commencement speaker was now "under careful review." Because God forbid anybody doing a master's program at an Ivy League institution should be exposed to anyone not in full 100 percent compliance with liberal orthodoxy. The American Association of University Women announced it would no longer sponsor teams for Komen's "Race for the Cure." Sure, Komen has raised $2 billion for the cure, but better we never cure breast cancer than let a single errant Injun wander off the abortion reservation. Terry O'Neill of the National Organization for Women said Komen "is no longer an organization whose mission is to advance women's health." You preach it, sister. I mean, doesn't the very idea of an organization obsessively focused on breasts sound suspiciously patriarchal?

Read the whole thing.

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