Thursday, June 26, 2008

As Obama courts evangelicals, key leader Dobson criticizes him for `distorting' Bible

As Barack Obama broadens his outreach to evangelical voters, one of the movement's biggest names, James Dobson, accuses the likely Democratic presidential nominee of distorting the Bible and pushing a "fruitcake interpretation" of the Constitution. The criticism, to be aired Tuesday on Dobson's Focus on the Family radio program, comes shortly after an Obama aide suggested a meeting at the organization's headquarters here, said Tom Minnery, senior vice president for government and public policy at Focus on the Family.

The conservative Christian group provided The Associated Press with an advance copy of the pre-taped radio segment, which runs 18 minutes and highlights excerpts of a speech Obama gave in June 2006 to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal. Obama mentions Dobson in the speech. "Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?" Obama said. "Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?" referring to the civil rights leader.

Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy - chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application." "Folks haven't been reading their Bibles," Obama said.

Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament. "I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said. "... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."

Joshua DuBois, director of religious affairs for Obama's campaign, said in a statement that a full reading of Obama's speech shows he is committed to reaching out to people of faith and standing up for families. "Obama is proud to have the support of millions of Americans of faith and looks forward to working across religious lines to bring our country together," DuBois said.

Dobson reserved some of his harshest criticism for Obama's argument that the religiously motivated must frame debates over issues like abortion not just in their own religion's terms but in arguments accessible to all people. He said Obama, who supports abortion rights, is trying to govern by the "lowest common denominator of morality," labeling it "a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution." "Am I required in a democracy to conform my efforts in the political arena to his bloody notion of what is right with regard to the lives of tiny babies?" Dobson said. "What he's trying to say here is unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe."

The program was paid for by a Focus on the Family affiliate whose donations are taxed, Dobson said, so it's legal for that group to get more involved in politics.

Last week, DuBois, a former Assemblies of God associate minister, called Minnery for what Minnery described as a cordial discussion. He would not go into detail, but said Dubois offered to visit the ministry in August when the Democratic National Convention is in Denver. A possible Obama visit was not discussed, but Focus is open to one, Minnery said.

McCain also has not met with Dobson. A McCain campaign staffer offered Dobson a meeting with McCain recently in Denver, Minnery said. Dobson declined because he prefers that candidates visit the Focus on the Family campus to learn more about the organization, Minnery said.

Dobson has not backed off his statement that he could not in good conscience vote for McCain because of concerns over the Arizona senator's conservative credentials. Dobson has said he will vote in November but has suggested he might not vote for president.

Obama recently met in Chicago with religious leaders, including conservative evangelicals. His campaign also plans thousands of "American Values House Parties," where participants discuss Obama and religion, as well as a presence on Christian radio and blogs.


Obama Targets Blacks, Felons

Post below recycled from Discriminations. See the original for links

The candidate who once said, to support from even surprising quarters, that
There's not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there's the United States of America

is now targeting voters from black America. Hillary Clinton got into a heap of trouble when she said, quoting an Associated Press article, that
Sen. Obama's support among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me.

I wonder if the Los Angeles Times's Peter Wallsten will get in similar trouble for reporting that "Obama campaign targets black voters - carefully." And not only black voters, but also felons.
Experts say felons are disproportionately black and, if they can be found, more likely to be Obama backers. This provides a huge potential; about 1.1 million felons in Florida were ineligible to vote in 2004, according to a 2006 book by sociologists Jeff Manza and Christopher Uggen. Here too the potential for gains has risk: It could open a door for Republicans to portray Democrats as soft on crime.

The push for new and nontraditional voters is so targeted and aggressive that an NAACP official in Ohio said her organization plans to pursue individuals who are incarcerated but who have not yet been tried or sentenced and, therefore, under state law, remain eligible to vote. The group is also tracking felons who often don't realize that, in Ohio, they are eligible to vote as soon as they leave prison.

Ex-offenders are "just everywhere," said Jocelyn Travis, who heads the Ohio NAACP's voter outreach program. "People who have a felony or criminal background are throughout our community, and they don't realize that they have the right to vote."

Given the preemptive response by Obama and his academic acolytes like Drew Westen to just about any criticism of him as racist and bigoted, what will they make of the Los Angeles Time pointing out that his campaign is targeting black voters, albeit "carefully," and convicted felons, because so many of them are black?

Obama's belief in verbal magic

Wouldn't the world be nice if a spoken word made it so? I think the last time that happened it was God speaking; pretty much every time it's happened actually. Presidential candidate Barack Obama just might be god, America's messiah.

Recently, speaking of how to handle Osama Bin Laden, Obama stated, 'What would be important would be for us to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he's engaged in and not to make him into a martyr, and to assure that the United States government is abiding by basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism.'

In effect, Barack is concerned that strong action against Bin Laden will be used by the enemy to propagandize the masses against the United States and for once, the Senator is absolutely correct in his concerns.

But it is notable that such propaganda has occurred and continues to occur, regardless of what manner America acts. During the Clinton administration, while terrorism was handled through the justice system, America was decried as the 'Great Satan' on Arab television and radio and in education, newsprint, and magazine. Has that changed since the Bush administration has taken terrorism on a war footing? Certainly not.

So, I ask Senator Obama or anyone who has an answer. Just what way can we handle Osama Bin Laden that convinces radical extremists who hate us' not to hate us anymore? Is there really some magical way to go about this?

In a previous article I noted how the right words to Hitler would not have stopped his packing trains full of Jews and running them to death camps. Likewise, the right words to terrorist propagandists will not stop them from continuing their brainwashing blitz against Muslims, the world over.

Osama Bin Laden himself is not only a mastermind of organizing terrorist attacks. He has a long history as propagandist himself. He recruited Muslims to extremism and sent them on missions in his stead. That is why he is so high value a target. He was an excellent propagandist and organizer for radical Islam. That is, until America's soldiers started taking apart his network. You see, anything we do to this enemy will be used by the enemy. We could put them in prison. It will be used as propaganda. We could pull out of the Middle East. It will be used as propaganda. We could use nuclear weapons to annihilate millions of people, some of which were the intended targets. It will be used as propaganda. No matter how Osama Bin Laden meets his end, the enemy will STILL declare America the 'Great Satan'.

Besides, if bringing Bin Laden to justice means trying him on a court of law, perhaps we should recall that Bin Laden has been under indictment for well over a decade. Yet, no charges were ever brought to trial. We cannot to be soft-footed when it comes to dealing with this enemy. If they will make martyrs of themselves one way or another we should help them to it first. Shoot them before they blow themselves up in suicide bombings. Shoot them before they shoot at us. Shoot the before they can kidnap another person and send a grisly tape to Al Jazeera.

Propaganda is going to occur no matter what we do. That is how this enemy has always functioned and in the possibility that we could annihilate such enemy, be aware; there will be propaganda to the very end.

But what is really exposed in the Senator's statement is his lack of understanding of this enemy. It shows that he believes America to be partially at fault for their hatred. He is drawn to this notion that if we only acted a certain way, everything would be perfected in the world. There would be no more hate if America put him in the White House because he could make the right decisions.

Senator Obama has declared to America's enemy a willful blindness as to Al Qaeda's real intentions and stated that our actions are responsible for Bin Laden's malice. In doing so, he gives them the same propaganda he's declaring he has the power to stop.

Perhaps this would not be so disturbing if he were a mere reflection of the minuscule Looney left. Is America so far lost that half the nation is ready to agree with and support such an imbecile? Or are we only sick of dealing with an imbecile from the Dems and a wishy-washy dunce from the Reps?

Regardless, I would hope that a man as 'intelligent' as Ivy League educated Barack Obama would surely not buy into this drivel. Merely, that he would tell the left what he must to garner their votes. Yet, I do not see that occurring. I fear that the Senator has been completely honest with America in his views. Barack's words may have the power to make young leftists faint but it holds no sway with our enemies and their supporters unless it plays into their hand.


Why Flip-Flopping Matters

What restrains politicians and businesses from acting dishonestly? A lot of people would answer: nothing. Periodic political and corporate scandals have created a popular image of politicians and businessmen as little more than a collection of cheats, liars and crooks. However, while there will always be some dishonest people in any profession, the vast majority of American politicians and businessmen do not end up being frog marched out of their offices in handcuffs with their heads held low in shame before a gaggle of news cameras.

What helps keep companies honest is the threat that if they cheat customers, people won't buy from them again. But that won't work for politicians. Politicians don't always have the incentive of re-election because eventually they all face a last term in office. Politicians retire at some point. They can't live forever. So, if it isn't the threat of facing the voters, what could ensure that politicians keep their promises?

There has been a lot of academic work studying this question, and the way to solve the problem is to elect politicians who inherently value the policy positions that they take.

Of course, voters won't exactly figure out whether a politician really values what he claims to value, but there are signals that voters can look for. One is how politicians flip-flop on issues. If a politician can easily change what he claims to believe during a campaign, voters will have a lot less confidence that he really believes in what he is telling them. If he doesn't hold his views strongly, voters can't trust the politician to keep his promises.

We see this in other areas of life as well. For example, with lifetime appointments, Supreme Court justices are removed from any equivalent of re-election pressures. When a president nominates justices, he looks for a judge who will provide a reliable vote for his political orientation. The president analyzes potential nominees' career voting records and looks for other signs of an intrinsic commitment to shared ideals. Judges may be able to hide or misrepresent their true philosophy in hopes of getting a Supreme Court nomination, but it is difficult to do this over a long period of time. Supreme Court nominees will usually have years of consistent rulings that testify to their reliability. It is a major reason why presidents prefer older nominees over younger ones, even though the younger ones can spend a much longer time on the bench.

In the last week, charges of flip-flopping got into high gear against both presidential campaigns. For Senator McCain, the flip-flop everyone focused on is his proposal to resume offshore drilling. As the Washington Post notes: "McCain's announcement is a reversal of the position he took in his 2000 presidential campaign . . ." While the change isn't making environmentalists happy, McCain notes that a policy that made sense when gasoline was about a dollar a gallon doesn't make much sense with gas now at $4.08 a gallon. Obviously the price has risen dramatically even compared to what it was a few months ago.

The charges against Senator Obama over the last week have been more numerous and apparently much more difficult to explain away.

-- NAFTA. During the primaries, an Obama campaign slogan was "Only Barack Obama Consistently Opposed NAFTA" and that he would use the threat to "opt-out" as a "hammer" to force the Canadians and Mexicans to "renegotiate" NAFTA. But last week in an interview with Fortune magazine, Obama reversed course saying that he was "not a big believer in doing things unilaterally' and that he wasn't going to force a renegotiation of NAFTA. Obama's explanation for the switch now that the primaries were over was that "Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified."

The flip-flop was all the more difficult to explain because Obama's senior economics adviser, Austin Goolsbee, was caught right before the Ohio primary telling Canadians that Obama didn't really mean his promise to renegotiate the treaty. Whether Obama really believed what he was saying during the campaign became an important question, and Obama went to great length on multiple occasions to assure voters that he would stand by his promise. Both Obama and Goolsbee completely denied the Canadian story, with Goolsbee claiming that the reporting by Canadian TV was "a totally inaccurate story."

-- Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). For Democrats during the primary, FISA was something for which no compromise was allowed. Back in September, Obama's campaign vowed he would "support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies." But this last week Obama reversed course and supported the FISA compromise granting the companies amnesty. Democrat party activists such as the Daily Kos are describing Obama's switch as a "disaster." Politico reports that "Obama's allies at MoveOn are asking supporters to 'call Sen. Obama today and tell him you're counting on him to keep his word.' "

-- Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns. A year ago Obama gathered favorable headlines and media coverage for his dedication to saving public financing of presidential campaigns. Editorials chided Obama's opponents for not making the promise that he had made. To Obama, the decision likely came down to how much money he can raise for the general election. If Obama can raise as much for the general election as he has for the primaries, he could easily exceed what McCain will be allowed to spend by 4-to-1. Even that might be an underestimate, because he will now have the resources of a united Democratic party.

Obama's explanation for breaking this promise is that "The public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who have become masters at gaming this broken system." Yet, he hasn't explained why the system is any more broken now than it was late last fall.

With the primaries over, both candidates may want to be in the political center. But that is a much more natural place for John McCain with his maverick voting record than it is for Barack Obama. If Obama's awkward movements to the center continue, even his massive money advantages during the general election might be unable to undo the damage to his credibility.


Obama Does Not Understand Nuremberg

(Or anything else much)

It amazes me that Barack Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for more than a decade, would be unaware of the legal controversy surrounding Nuremberg and the commotion it caused within the U.S. Supreme Court. If Obama taught the U.S. Constitution to his students the same way the Reverend Jeremiah Wright preached to his congregation then heaven help us all.

One of the obvious implications of last week’s Supreme Court decision, which granted inmates at Guantanamo Bay the right of habeas corpus to appeal their detention, is that if Osama bin Laden were captured alive by U.S. forces, the al Qaeda founder could end up in a U.S. civilian court afforded all the protections of law abiding American citizens.

When Barack Obama was asked about this on June 18th, he suggested that Osama could be adjudicated in the manner of the Nazi War Crime Tribunals at Nuremberg. Obama argued, “I think what would be important would be for us to do it in a way that allows the entire world to understand the murderous acts that he’s engaged in and not to make him into a martyr and to assure that the United States government is abiding by the basic conventions that would strengthen our hand in the broader battle against terrorism.”

The following day, John McCain replied on his website giving Obama a short history lesson. McCain wrote, “Unfortunately, it is clear Senator Obama does not understand what happened at the Nuremberg trials and what procedures were followed. There was no habeas at Nuremberg and there should be no habeas for Osama bin Laden….By citing a historical precedent that does not include habeas, he sends a signal of confusion and indecision to our allies and adversaries and the American people.”

It also signifies that Barack Obama does not understand 20th Century history. Yet this should hardly come as a surprise. Up until a few weeks ago, Obama thought it was the Americans, not the Soviets, who liberated Auschwitz.

How did the Nuremberg Trials come about in the first place? They came about when Nazi Germany surrendered to the Allied powers in May 1945. The last time I checked Osama bin Laden is the founder of al Qaeda, a terrorist organization and not the head of state or head of any government. How does an entity that is not a nation state (although harbored by some) enter into an instrument of surrender? Terrorist organizations like al Qaeda have changed the terms of war as we understand it.

Nuremberg was prosecuted and adjudicated by an international team consisting of lawyers and judges from the United States, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union. If Obama thinks Osama has the right to be heard in a U.S. civilian court does he also think we should involve lawyers and judges from other countries into the proceedings?

Or does Obama think Osama should be tried in an international forum like, well, Nuremberg? The Allies chose to conduct the tribunals in Nuremberg because that is where the Nazi Party was founded. Under those circumstances, wouldn’t be more appropriate for bin Laden to be tried in Kabul rather than in a civilian court in New York City?

It also must be remembered the Nuremberg trials were not universally praised at the time they occurred. Many questioned the legitimacy of such a proceeding. The Chief Prosecutor for the United States was Robert H. Jackson, who took a leave of absence as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court to participate at Nuremberg. In May 2003, when the Robert H. Jackson Center was being dedicated in Jamestown, New York, the late Chief Justice of the Supreme Court William Rehnquist gave the address. Rehnquist, who began his legal career as a clerk for Jackson at the Supreme Court after graduating from law school at Stanford University, drew attention to the criticism of the proceedings. He pointed out that there were objections to a Supreme Court justice acting as a prosecutor. Jackson’s colleague, William O. Douglas, thought Jackson’s appointment violated the separation of powers and that Jackson ought to resign from the bench.

Rehnquist also discussed the objections to the very nature of Nuremberg: The second issue was whether or not this sort of trial – not only the prosecutors, but also the judges – coming from the victors, would be in fact if not in form a “kangaroo court”….Legal scholars also questioned whether the whole idea of such a trial where there was no existing body of law did not violate the principle embodied in the ex post facto prohibition in the United States Constitution. That provision requires that before criminal liability may attach to a person for a particular act, a law making the conduct criminal must have been on the books before he committed the act.

Rehnquist also mentioned that Harlan Fiske Stone, who was Chief Justice of the Supreme Court during Nuremberg, did not look kindly upon Jackson’s conduct overseas. While Justice Stone could have cared less what happened to the Nazis he wrote, “(B)ut it disturbs me some to have it dressed up in the habiliments of the common law and the Constitutional safeguards to those charged with crime.” Rehnquist further noted that Stone was miffed that Jackson had not informed him of his appointment until it was announced publicly by President Truman.

The Nuremberg Trials were an unprecedented response to an unprecedented calamity. Similarly, the military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay are an unprecedented response to an unprecedented calamity. The United States is fighting a war against an Islamic fundamentalist organization that does not fight under the rules of engagement and instead carries out acts of terrorism against innocent civilians on a mass scale. The United States must adapt to those unprecedented circumstances through innovative methods of adjudication.

It amazes me that Barack Obama, who taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School for more than a decade, would be unaware of the legal controversy surrounding Nuremberg and the commotion it caused within the U.S. Supreme Court. If Obama taught the U.S. Constitution to his students the same way the Reverend Jeremiah Wright preached to his congregation then heaven help us all.


Running on Empty

Democratic energy policies ignore reality

BARACK OBAMA PUNCTUATED his opposition last week to offshore drilling for oil and natural gas with a clever jab at John McCain. "The politics may have changed, but the facts have not," he quipped. A few days earlier, McCain had called for lifting the moratorium on exploration and drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts.

Obama was only half right. With gasoline at $4-plus a gallon, the politics have indeed changed--in favor of increased domestic oil production. But so have the facts. And it's that change that has made offshore drilling cost-effective, environmentally safe, and no threat to become an eyesore off the beaches of California and Florida.

Advances in oil technology--which Obama either doesn't know about or chooses to ignore--allow drilling to go far deeper beneath the sea and thus farther from the coast. Some oil rigs in the Gulf of Mexico are nearly 200 miles from land. Serious spills from drilling offshore have become practically non-existent. More than 100 rigs in the Gulf were damaged by hurricanes Katrina and Rita without a single spill.

So Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, was wrong. Now, like other Democrats, he's in a politically awkward position. He opposes new drilling for oil and natural gas at a time when drilling in areas currently off limits has become popular. Three-fourths of likely voters in a new Zogby poll said they favor it, and Republicans have made it their top issue against Democrats.

Democrats appear wary of saying they oppose any boost in domestic oil production, which happens to be the position of a powerful interest group, the environmental lobby. But despite soaring gasoline prices, Democrats are against opening new areas of federal land or offshore for exploitation of oil and natural gas reserves.

Instead, they've come up with lame, dubious, or intellectually dishonest reasons for their opposition. Obama's insistence that the "facts" of oil production haven't changed is just one of those.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said last week that the Democratic Congress is "moving America in a new direction for energy independence." But preserving the ban on offshore drilling isn't new. The ban has been in effect since 1981, but Pelosi said it's not responsible for high gasoline prices. Who's really to blame? The Bush administration and the oil companies, she said.

Pelosi's most implausible claim is that energy companies are hoarding oil. If so, they're doing this as gasoline prices have reached a record high price. And these companies are the same ones that Democrats accuse of being greedy and reaping "obscene profits." Hoarding oil--keeping it off the market--certainly makes no economic sense, which is why oil companies aren't doing it. As supposed evidence, Democrats cite the absence of drilling in 68 million acres of federal oil reserves leased by oil companies. In truth, these areas are under active exploration that may lead to drilling. Drilling, of course, is the last step in oil production. Whatever Democrats may think, oil companies don't drill first, then explore later to find if drilling is actually worthwhile.

Oil companies pay billions to the federal government each year for oil leases, most of which expire after 10 years. They pay an annual fee as well. In 2007, they paid $7 billion for oil leases in the Gulf of Mexico alone. Would they spend so much for leases and fail to follow up and look for oil? Not likely.

Pelosi also made this boast: "The New Direction Congress has enacted into law the first new fuel efficiency standards for vehicles in 32 years." The law would boost vehicle fuel standards to 35 miles a gallon--in 2020. But this legislation was entirely unnecessary. The free market is already increasing fuel efficiency. Car buyers are rushing to trade in gas guzzlers for vehicles with better mileage. And auto companies are closing plants that manufacture low mileage cars as fast as they can as they switch to building more efficient cars.

Democrats have also turned to several hardy perennials, claiming that gouging and "excessive speculation" are chiefly at fault for the rise in the price of gasoline. These charges were aired during the 1970s and found to be false. But there's a new twist this time: the House authorized lawsuits against OPEC, the oil cartel, for price fixing. This tactic is unlikely to be pursued.

The silliest of the ploys came from Rahm Emanuel, the savvy congressman from Chicago. He demanded to know if McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, favors drilling in the Great Lakes. "I just want to help," Emanuel told the Washington Post, "in case geography wasn't where he got an 'A.'" Sure.



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