The Week in Words

The fight over the debt ceiling and the budget brought about some interesting new terms this week. One was offered by Juan Williams on Fox News Sunday.
“Casino politics” was what he called it. Asked about who would fold in the debate, Williams said, “What you’re looking at here is basically casino politics with everybody bluffing in the room and everybody looking for some sign about what the other guy’s gonna do. What we’re seeing, I think, from Boehner is basically posturing.”
Rush Limbaugh commented on it, betting that Boehner won’t fold and if he does, he’ll lose.
“Californication” popped up at Blogs for Victory. The writer explained that Californication is what residents call it when liberals move to a conservative state. “Here in Nevada, where liberals from California, fleeing the collapse of that liberal state, come here and start bothering us about environmental regulations, smoking bans and other such nonsense… all with the requisite tax and spending increases, of course.” Please, no Californication in Tennessee!
The announcement by Ron Paul that he is running for president alerted writer Michael Gerson to sound some warnings. “Paulsville” is what he calls Ron’s world where he would repeal laws against prostitution, cocaine and heroin. Gerson doesn’t want to live there. “Welcome to Paulsville, where people are free to take soul-destroying substances and debase their bodies to support their ‘personal habits.'” He continues with Paul asking “How many people here would use heroin if it were legal? I bet nobody would.” Gerson says, “The problem, of course, is that even people in the room may have had sons or daughters who struggled with addiction. Or maybe even have personal experience with the freedom that comes from alcohol and drug abuse. One imagines they did not laugh or cheer.” Touche.

M-barrassing Essay

A guest commentary on the front page of Saturday’s M section reads “Shariah Bill could have big impact on business.” The author, Senior Vice President of Faith and Health of Methodist LeBonheur Health Care Gary Gunderson, argues that a pending bill in the state legislature to prohibit Sharia law would hurt Tennessee.
Rarely has anyone argued an important issue in such a demeaning, snide way.
“It should be called the Barney Fife Bill because it would radically – and ridiculously – expand the powers of state government by targeting a specific religious group for adhering to their scripture and customary practice,” Gunderson writes. “The state of Tennessee needs its current Muslim citizens badly and will need its future ones even more…They’ll take their brains and skills elsewhere, and others would follow them, leaving not just hospitals, but FedEx, TVA, Oak Ridge – even Little Debbie snack cakes.”
The illogic of his arguments is so overwhelming, it’s hard to know where to begin.
No one is denying Muslims their freedom of religion in this bill. However, their religious rights do not mean they can have their own set of laws. Ask David Koresh’s followers. Nor do Mormons get to indulge in polygamy. Being a Muslim does not allow anyone in America to engage in honor killings, polygamy, female genitalia mutilation or attacking women who do not conform to your dress code. Who could argue for these rights and consider themselves in any way humane?
Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci extrapolated what happens once Sharia gets a foothold, as it has in Europe. “In each one of our cities, there is a second city, a state within a state, a government within the government,” she writes. The very essence of the United States is that different peoples come here to contribute, but not to change the core values we have. How can there be one nation with equality for all when there are different laws for different people?
“They (Muslims) come here even though they know that Tennessee is, well, less forward-thinking than some other parts of the United States,” Gunderson writes. How does he know what they think? Perhaps they view Tennessee as a step up from a hovel in Pakistan, or from a country where women are stoned for adultery or where Christians like the Copts in Egypt and the Maronites in Lebanon are discriminated against. If that’s “less forward thinking” then count me in.
Would there really be a skills vacuum if these people left because of our anti Sharia law stance? People from other countries like India are waiting to come here. Our own citizenry has always shown itself skilled, intelligent and innovative.
Would businesses like FedEx suffer? Hard to believe. And Little Debbie? When do snack cakes figure in and are they as important an aspect of our economy as just laws? Aren’t liberals always arguing anyhow about the deleterious effects of big business?
The Dutch politician Geert Wilders delivered a speech at Cornerstone Church in Nashville on May 12. Called “A Warning to America” it is very much worthwhile reading. He has watched the progress of creeping Sharia in his own country of The Netherlands. You can read the speech at http://www.jihadwatch.org/2011/05/geert-wilders-a-warning-to-america.html.
Gunderson concludes by saying “If I were a Methodist in Islamabad, I would depend on the mature Muslim leaders to protect me from the extreme members of their faith.” Good luck with that. In Pakistan Bin Laden got the protection, Danny Pearl did not.

Boehner Crucified

Speaker of the House John Boehner will give a commencement address tomorrow at Catholic University in Washington, D.C. Some at that university and other liberal Catholic teachers are objecting to his presence. They have written an open letter to him, excoriating his economic plans as unworthy of a Catholic legislator.

“Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress. This fundamental concern should have great urgency for Catholic policymakers. Yet, even now you work in opposition to it,” they write. “You are at a variance from one of the Church’s most ancient, moral teachings… The House budget radically cuts Medicaid and effectively ends Medicare.” It is “particularly cruel” to women, they allege.

Your plan, they say, “invokes the deficit to justify visiting such hardship upon the vulnerable, while it carves out $3 trillion in new tax cuts for corporations and the wealthy.”

These academicians show nothing but their own ignorance of Catholic teachings in this string of invectives. Noticeably absent from the signatures are those of the President of Catholic University, the Vice President of Catholic University and Bishops of the United States.

“Variance from one of the Church’s most ancient, moral teachings?” You mean like abortion? Or gay marriage? Boehner has an excellent record in both these profound issues. The previous speaker, also a Catholic, was the one at odds with basic tenants of the faith.

Father Robert Sirico writes at the Corner at National Review,  “Indeed, it could be said that what these Catholic academicians are proposing is not a ‘preferential option for the poor’ but rather a preferential option for the State. They make the unfortunately common error of assuming that concern for the economically weak and marginalized must somehow translate into (yet another) government program.”

Sirico continues: “To jump so seamlessly from the Magisterium’s insistence on the fundamental and non negotiable moral obligation to the poor to the specifics of contingent, prudential and political legislation is wholly unjustified in Catholic and social teaching. One suspects that the moral theologians who signed this letter know that. It would be good for them to say so. And then there is the passage in Pope Bendict’s most recent social encyclical, “Caritas in Veritate:” ‘The church does not have technical solutions to offer.'”

Amen. These “Catholics” should review the theory of Subsidiarity, a very important Church teaching. Here’s how Pope John Paul II put it: “A community of higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions. The social assistance state leads to a loss of human energies and an inordinate increase of public agencies bureaucratic ways. Needs are best understood and satisfied by people who are closest to them and act as neighbors to those in need.”

Father Jonathan Morris adds, “the thought that the only person or only entity who can help the poor is the federal government goes against a principle of subidiarity… (the budget) is a prudential decision that belongs to politicians.”

Morris, an author and frequent guest on Fox News, decried these letter writers as Catholics who are using religion for political reasons.

Boehner should ignore them. Catholics should ignore them. Americans should ignore them.

Watch Dog Offers Ideas

The Commercial Appeal reports today on the Shelby County Commissioners’ meeting on the proposed employee pension overhaul. They are grappling with the issue of more retirees entering the system as coffers are low in city government. Labor leaders dispute that and insist the financial situation is good.

Enter Joe Saino. The Memphis activist for fiscal responsibility attended the meeting and “proposed a pension plan that would invest in the private market but match the promises of Social Security,” the paper recounts. “Saino is an activist on local government issues who was involved in the task force appointed by former interim mayor Joe Ford that came up with Plan D.”

You may remember that Saino  ran against  Shea Flinn in 2007 for his City Council seat. Saino argued at that time against government waste in the Herenton administration.

It’s good to see that Commissioners Chris Thomas and Terry Roland are receptive to his ideas.  A successful businessman and lifelong Memphian like Saino has a lot to offer.

His Memphis watchdog website has been updated and now you can read his thoughts at www.memphisshelbyinform.com.

More Disappointing Economic Data

While today’s jobless claims were down 44,000 from last week’s revised 478,000, the number was still not good. Analysts were expecting it to fall to 420-425,000. For job growth, this number needs to be at 350K and below for the economy to add jobs that will cut into the 9% unemployment rate.

Stuart Varney of Fox Business notes that “big layoffs are coming at the state levels as states are broke and have to handle huge deficits by laying off people.” He sees “an avalanche of layoffs at the state level this summer.”

The Producer Price Index (PPI) was out this morning. It measures inflation. While analysts had expectations of .6%, it came in at up .8%. Tyler Durden of Zero Hedge explains, “this confirms that delayed downstream inflation effects will plague the economy for a long time.”

Also troubling was the retail sales report. It was expected to be .6%; it came in at .5%, the smallest jump in nine months. If you strip out car and gas sales, the rate was only up a token .2%.

Adding to the woes was continuing claims which edged up.

All in all, not a pretty picture.

A Run for the Border

Yesterday’s performance by President Obama in El Paso was beneath the office he holds.

His disdain was evident from the moment Air Force One set down in Republican Texas.  Surprising that the media actually let us see him get out and greet officials,   chomping on gum as he got off the plane. The disrespect to officials couldn’t be more apparent. (By the way, he didn’t waste any time stopping to look at the flooding caused by the Mississippi or talking to inhabitants.  In fact, Jay Carney was asked whether he surveyed any of it and replied he didn’t even look out the plane window.)

Obama didn’t take long to start his attacks. Rather than look for ways to come together and solve the immigration problem he immediately attacked Republicans. “Maybe they’ll  need a moat. Maybe they’ll want alligators in the moat,” the president said.  I’m surprised he didn’t suggest rhinos; that would have even alienated the RINOs.

Rory Cooper of the Heritage Foundation tweeted: “Cannot believe Obama said GOP wants an alligator filled moat and then called for a serious border debate in the same speech.” Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner tweeted this: “Barack Obama, whose TSA grops kids if they want to fly on a plane, mocks a border wall.” Precisely.

Everything he said was meant to inflame, not to solve a problem. His humor comes from mocking others. Even Michelle isn’t immune as when he recently said “don’t get between Michelle and a tamale.” Can you imagine President Bush saying anything like that about Laura? Bush’s humor was always self deprecating. A confident person will do that; an insecure one will strike out at others.

It takes a lot of chutzpah, too, to brag about border security when a shoot out just across the border from El Paso killed 15 people last week.

This was such an obvious play for Hispanic support that it was embarrassing. Hardly seems like the “uniter” he said he is.

Stop the Circular Firing Squads

Even though the 2012 election is about 17 months away, the vitriol is flying. The media has begun to single out Republican candidates and torpedo them. It’s not surprising since the Obama people have retreated to Chicago to do opposition research and they will not let one strand of hair out of place go unnoticed.

Today, the New York Times is out with a piece about Newt Gingrich. They zero in on his relationship with Calista, his third wife. “Today, Ms. Biseck is Mrs. Gingrich, married for 11 years, but erhaps best remembered for the six year affair that contributed to her husband’s political downfall. His critics cast Mr. Gingrich, the former House Speaker, as a hypocrite who sought to impeach a president over infidelity, while engaging in it himself with Ms. Biseck, who was a Congressional aide.” They are telling him to prepare for warfare and Calista will be cannon fodder.

For Mitt Romney, the press will wave the bloody flag of his health care reform in Massachusetts. President Obama has already zinged him on this, praising it and comparing it to his own program, knowing Republicans are dead set against it.

New York Daily News has basically called Donald Trump a racist. Owner and publisher Mort Zuckerman appeared on The O’Reilly Factor, knocking him in person. The recent Correspondents dinner in Washington saw Trump as the main target of jokes and jibes.

The Week in Words

Last week the press outdid itself with lavish language. After the death of Osama Bin Laden, the media poured on the praise of Obama almost to the point of nausea.

First, Howard Fineman said, “By calmly and meticulously overseeing the successful targeting of Osama Bin Laden, President Barack Obama just proved himself – vividly, in almost Biblical terms – to be an effective commander in chief of the armed forces of the U.S.”

I’m not sure how much overseeing Obama did to begin with since he could hardly make his mind up about it,  but in almost Biblical terms? Did he part the seas or rise from the dead? Fineman,  get a room.

Other media outlets commended the president on his “courageous restraint.” Try to process that one. Last I heard (and it changes almost hourly), the raid was done by Navy SEALS under the direction of the CIA and the Defense Department. Obama seemed to have wandered in from the golf course almost accidentally if you look at that now famous photo. He doesn’t even seem engaged.

Sycophants and, disturbingly even conservative pundits, applauded Obama’s “gutsy call” in ordering Bin Laden’s death. How hard is it, though, to sit half a world away and OK other guys to go in and get the most hated man in America? Is it something that John McCain, George W. Bush, Sarah Palin or Rudy Giuliani would have hesitated about? And how opportunistic is it to put a redirect on Google to send the questioner to Obama’s reelection campaign site whenever “gutsy call” was typed in?

The big phrase of the week, however, was “spike the football.” All that has been going on is spike the football despite Obama’s objections.  The trip to Ground Zero, the trip to the Navy SEALS, the appearance on “60 Minutes;” you couldn’t get away from praise of Obama whenever you turned on the TV. Had the administration not spiked the football, but waited to check out the intel they found, maybe we could have snared a few more Al Qaeda leaders before the blabbing began.

It was a dream come true for the obsequious media and they certainly used it to the max.

Alexander’s High Standards Lower Our Chances

Thanks to Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander and ten other Republicans, the Senate has confirmed the former director of Planned Parenthood of Rhode Island to a lifetime federal judgeship. John J. “Jack” McConnell will now take a seat on the bench.

CNS News reports that eleven Republicans voted for closure, that is allowing the nomination to go forward and be voted on in the Senate, rather than obstructing or delaying this appointment. The other ten were Scott Brown, Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe, Saxby Chambliss, Johnny Isakson, Lindsey Graham, Mark Kirk, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and John Thune.

On the final vote, these Republicans voted against the nomination, giving McConnell a 50-44 win. The damage had been done, however.

Alexander said, “I will not vote to deny a Democratic president’s judicial nominee just because the nominee may have views more liberal than mine. That is the way judges have always been selected. That is the way they should be selected.”

If this is his idea of how Republicans win on the field of ideas, we will never win the actual battles. Our side chooses squirt guns while their side is driving a tank.