Monday, July 14, 2008

It wasn't the Bernie Mac Obama thought he knew

I guess lots of readers have heard of the "sexist" joke made by raunchy comedian Bernie Mac at an Obama fundraiser. Some details here. Anything that speaks ill of women is sexist, of course. But you can mock men all you like.

I have not so far seen anyone put up a full version of the joke as told at the Obama function but it is a very old and well-known joke anyhow. Below is the last version of it that I heard. You will see that it actually speaks ill of men too. Or does it? Is it bad to accuse a man of homosexuality? We keep being told that it not:
"A young boy went up to his father and asked him, "Dad, what is the difference between potentially and realistically?" The father thought for a moment, then answered, "Go ask your mother if she would sleep with Robert Redford for a million dollars. Then ask your sister if she would sleep with Brad Pitt for a million dollars. Then ask your brother if he'd sleep with Tom Cruise for a million dollars. Come back and tell me what you learn from that."

So the boy asked his mother and she replied, "Of course I would! I wouldn't pass up an opportunity like that." The boy then asked his sister and she replied, "Oh my God! I would just love to do that! I would be nuts to pass up that opportunity!" The boy then went to his brother and asked, "Would you sleep with Tom Cruise for a million dollars?" "Of course," the brother replied. "Do you know how much a million could buy?"

The boy pondered that, then went back to his dad. His father asked him, "Did you find out the difference between potentially and realistically?" The boy replied, "Yes,dad. Potentially, we're sitting on three million dollars. But realistically, we're living with two sluts and a queer.

Bernie Mac is well-known for profane language so Obama should have known what he was getting when he approved the hiring of the man. But Obama often seems to find out with surprise that people he knew were not what he thought they were.

Cosmic Justice?

By Victor Davis Hanson

Obama's latest-"Osama bin Laden and his top leadership - the people who murdered 3,000 Americans - have a safe haven in north-west Pakistan, where they operate with such freedom of action that they can still put out hate-filled audio tapes to the outside world. That's the result of the Bush-McCain approach to the war on terrorism."

So spoke Obama. But would he please spell out exactly what he would do instead of the "Bush-McCain approach" to get bin Laden out of Waziristan, and how he would go beyond our present Predator strikes and stealthy incursions? In the past he has advocated open incursions into Pakistan ("The first step must be to get off the wrong battlefield in Iraq and take the fight to the terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan." / "If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."); does he still advocate that?

Unmentioned is that in 1998 (during the golden Clintonian years of diplomacy) Pakistan went nuclear. That fact and its fragile governments might explain why bin Laden hasn't been bombed or taken through an overt American invasion. And when Obama says "We would make a decision to bring the full weight of not only U.S. justice but world justice down on him" I hope he's not thinking of something like the Milosevic experience, in which the mass murderer died unconvicted after four years of captivity and an OJ-like circus at the World Court at The Hague.


Is Obama pulling 'The Big Fade?'

The new Newsweek poll that came out yesterday showed Obama's numbers dropping like a stone. This is just the latest in a series of surveys which show that despite factors that would ordinarily make this a Democratic year, Barack Obama cannot shake his challenger John McCain. The Newsweek numbers are a surprise. Last month, Obama topped McCain by double digits. This month, the two candidates are virtually tied within the margin for error at 44-41 for Obama.

Both daily tracking polls - Gallup and Rasmussen - continue to show a tight race with Obama up 4 and 2 points respectively in those surveys.

Beyond the raw numbers is the realization that the man with all the advantages in the race cannot top 50%. Not only is that number a psychological barrier it is also indicative of raw strength. Obama doesn't have it. And as long as McCain can hold Obama under that magic number, the perception will grow that Obama could very well lose to the Republican challenger.

Would this change the convention dynamics? Not likely. Obama's delegates will not bolt their candidate and the Superdelegates - who could switch allegiances to Hillary or some other candidate - don't appear to be in a mood yet to revolt against the party standard bearer.

This leaves the Democrats a nervous bunch. Until Obama starts showing better in the face of all these advantages for the Democrats, the danger will exist that by the time the convention rolls around, the party may have found it bought itself a pig in a poke.


Obama's Liberal Shock Troops


While he is a skilled candidate, Barack Obama's ability to surprise, stun and sweep over the vaunted Clinton Machine to capture the Democratic nomination was rooted in his background as a community organizer. He's now turning those skills to the general election. But liberals aren't just on the march on the presidential level. This year, liberal activists are spending parts of the fortunes of their wealthy donors to transform politics at the state and local level.

In 2005, billionaire investor George Soros convened a group of 70 super-rich liberal donors in Phoenix to evaluate why their efforts to defeat President Bush had failed. One conclusion was that they needed to step up their long-term efforts to dominate key battleground states. The donors formed a group called Democracy Alliance to make grants in four areas: media, ideas, leadership and civic engagement. Since then, Democracy Alliance partners have donated over $100 million to key progressive organizations.

Take Colorado, which has voted Republican for president in nine of the last 10 presidential elections. But in 2006, Colorado elected a Democratic governor and legislature for the first time in over 30 years. Denver will be the site for the party's 2008 presidential convention. Polls show Barack Obama would carry the state today. This hasn't happened by chance. The Democracy Alliance poured money into Colorado to make it a proving ground for how progressives can take over a state.

Offshoots of leading liberal national groups were set up including Colorado Media Matters in 2006, to correct "conservative misinformation" in the media. Ethics Watch, a group modeled after Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, was started and proceeded to file a flurry of complaints over alleged campaign finance violations -- while refusing to name its own donors.

Western Progress, a think tank to advance "progressive solutions," opened its doors as did the Colorado Fiscal Policy Institute, one of 29 such groups around the country. Then there's Colorado Confidential, a project of The Center for Independent Media, which subsidized liberal bloggers. CIM has set up similar ventures in Iowa, Minnesota and Michigan, with funding from groups such as the Service Employees International Union, and George Soros's Open Society Institute.

On the electoral front, Progressive Majority Colorado has set up seven offices with the goal of "recruiting progressive leaders" as candidates. America Votes-Colorado promises to coordinate the largest voter mobilization effort in the state's history. "All of this activity has flown under the radar," says Ed Morrissey of the conservative blog Captain's Quarters. "But efforts to change the political ground game may have real long-term consequences."

More audaciously, in Michigan, signatures have been filed to put a sweeping reorganization of state government on this November's ballot. The measure, pushed by a group called "Reform Michigan Government Now," contains at least 36 distinct provisions that take up a dozen pages of fine type. "It's a Trojan Horse dressed up as My Friend Flicka," says Lawrence Reed, president of the conservative Mackinac Center.

In a recession-wracked state seething with public anger at elected officials, the measure hits populist notes by cutting the size of the legislature and reducing the salaries of top officeholders. But on voting, it would mandate no-excuse-needed absentee voting -- despite a long history of vote-fraud scandals involving absentee votes in Detroit and other cities. A redistricting commission would be set up to reshape political boundaries, but state courts would be barred from reviewing any plans it draws up. (Only federal courts could review the boundaries.) Voters would also be barred from rejecting or amending the commission's work by initiative.

There is also a direct attack on the judiciary. The initiative reduces the state's Supreme Court to five members, down from seven, and the state's Court of Appeals to 20 judges, down from 28. Saving money appears not to be the motive: Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm could appoint 10 newly created circuit court judges. The net result would be that conservatives would lose control of the state Supreme Court, because the two justices who would be removed would be the last two appointed by GOP Gov. John Engler. Of the eight appeals court judgeships that would be eliminated, six are now held by people with GOP backgrounds. "It's a strange reform that benefits one political party exclusively at all three levels of the judiciary," observes Mr. Reed. "Is the intent that the judiciary become just another arm of one of the political parties?"

The financing for the initiative is mysterious and will not be publicly revealed until campaign finance reports are due in late September or early October. But the measure appears to be a Democratic effort. The campaign is being quarterbacked by a former Democratic state legislative leader, and Mark Brewer, the state's Democratic Party chair, says his party supports the measure.

Should Mr. Obama be elected, he would become not just the head of the Democratic Party but also the inspiration for a large number of liberal groups. Some of them would no doubt lobby him to hand out taxpayer grants and contracts for their nonpolitical "community" efforts.

Indeed, Mr. Obama has extensive connections with the granddaddy of activist groups, Acorn (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now), which has gotten millions in government grants for its low-income housing programs. In 1992, Acorn hired Mr. Obama to run a voter registration effort. He later became a trainer for the group, as well as its lawyer in election law cases.

Acorn's political arm has endorsed Mr. Obama while its "voter education" arm has pledged to spend $35 million to register people this fall -- despite a history of vote fraud scandals that have led to guilty pleas by many Acorn employees.

The housing bill now before Congress would set up a slush fund for community organizations such as Acorn. But Acorn has gone quiet in its lobbying for the bill this week with the news that one of its employees -- the brother of Acorn founder Wade Rathke -- had stolen nearly $1 million from the group. Mr. Rathke decided not to alert law enforcement or the organization's board, and kept his brother employed at Acorn until last month. "Is this the kind of group we want getting taxpayer money?" asks Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.)

But Acorn may play, along with other liberal groups, a leading role in electing Mr. Obama. Such groups deserve a closer look now, before their influence and possibly their clout grow dramatically after the November election.


Obama Won't Commit to Military Town Hall

Guess Obama will be otherwise preoccupied that night:
A coalition of military groups is planning a nationally televised town-hall-style meeting with the presidential candidates near Fort Hood, Tex., the largest active-duty military installation in the country. But so far, only Senator John McCain of Arizona, the presumptive Republican nominee, has agreed to attend.

CBS has agreed to broadcast the meeting live from 9 to 11 p.m. Eastern time on Monday, Aug. 11. The candidates would face questions directly from an audience of 6,000 people, made up of veterans, service members and military families from the base.

Senator Barack Obama of Illinois, the presumptive Democratic nominee, has not agreed to participate. "Senator Obama strongly supports America's veterans and military families and has worked hard on their behalf in the Senate," said Phillip Carter, director of Mr. Obama's veterans effort and an Iraq war veteran. "While we unfortunately had a previously scheduled commitment on the date proposed, Senator Obama looks forward to continuing the dialogue he's been having throughout the country with veterans on how we can better serve our men and women in uniform as they serve us."

Carissa Picard, managing director of the Fort Hood Presidential Town Hall Consortium, said she had suggested Aug. 11 and asked the campaign to suggest other dates if that was not convenient, but after several conversations she had not been able to work anything out. "I'm having extreme difficulty getting the Obama campaign to commit to this event, and we do not understand why," said Ms. Picard, whose husband is deployed in Iraq. "We made it very clear to them that if they would commit to the event, we would work with them on dates."

The organizers released details about the event in hopes that it would pressure the Obama campaign to agree to the event. "This was a decision that was made with tremendous difficulty, to publicize it," Ms. Picard said. "We were at a point where we had no other option. We got the impression that they could talk us to November."

Three thoughts come to mind: (1) When Obama said he didn't want to be more specific about military benefits, he really was serious. (2) Obama says he has to earn the trust of the men and women in uniform, but here's his chance and he's passing it up. (3) So the list of people Obama would now meet with includes Ahmadinejad, Castro, and Chavez, but no town hall with U.S. soldiers.


Catholics, Abortion & Sen. Obama

In my latest piece at Pajamas Media, I look at a recent Wall Street Journal piece exploring the means by which Catholics justify a vote for Barack Obama, whose NARAL rating (his recent musings on abortion notwithstanding) is 100%. The WSJ reports that the Obama Catholics justify voting for him in good conscience, despite his abortion record, because he is "so good on other issues" of import to Catholics, like war, torture, social justice, etc. As I observe at PJM:
On the surface, that argument seems reasonable - so reasonable, in fact, that the ardently pro-life Archbishop Charles Chaput, of Denver, writes of forming his own conscience in just such a way in 1976: "I knew Carter was wrong in his views about Roe and soft toward permissive abortion. But even as a priest, I justified working for him because.he was right on so many more of the "Catholic" issues than his opponent seemed to be. The moral calculus looked easy."

The moral calculus does look easy until one considers that war, torture, the death penalty, poverty, racism, and even the excesses of capitalism - those evils so well defined in Catholic social teaching, and of concern to Catholics of all political persuasions - are fully present in the act of abortion.


War is a struggle between two evolving powers over who will have dominance; whether just or unjust, it involves the murder of the innocent and the disruption of families. War introduces pain, fire, violence, savagery and torture into societies.

Abortion is a struggle between two evolving powers over who will have dominance; whether "justified" or not, it involves the murder of the innocent and the disruption of families. A vacuum abortion, saline abortion or a D&C introduces pain, fire, and a limb-shredding, relentless violence deep into the very being of a woman's body, within her very womb. A partial birth abortion, which involves inserting a scissor into the base of the skull of a partially delivered fetus, then suctioning out its brain before fully withdrawing the fetus from the birth canal, embodies the sort of savagery and real torture which is the most abhorrent part of any war.

The death penalty is a legal execution of an individual judged guilty of heinous acts against the larger society; convicts are sometimes discovered to have been innocent of the charges made against them only after their lives have been taken. Many consider even the most "humane" means of execution to be cruel and inhuman, and even when the convict is guilty beyond a shadow of a doubt, it may be well-argued that killing a murderer does not bring back the victim and that "two wrongs do not make a right."

In an abortion, the fetus is as subject to the death penalty as anyone ever so ordered by a jury; the fetus is always innocent. Even the most "humane" means of abortion - whatever that might be - involves cruel and inhuman measures. And even if the fetus - in its innocence - is the product of a violent and "guilty" conception, it may be well-argued that one merciless violation cannot be healed by a second - equally merciless - violation and that "two wrongs do not make a right."

It goes on like that for some length. We've all been struggling about abortion for decades - once upon a time I was a pro-choice liberal Catholic, myself, so I know the struggle. As I wrote:
A Catholic conscience is a complex thing that must rely on more than bumper stickers and impassioned rhetoric.

After all this time, we should be able to discuss abortion fearlessly. Perhaps we need some new perspectives. The whole point of writing and debate is to allow fresh perspectives into stale ideas.and nothing in America is as stale as the back-and-forth on abortion.



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