December 23, 2008

Paul Weyrich’s Final Two Warnings to America

Filed under: Health Care,Life-Based News,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 6:19 pm

Paul Weyrich, who died Thursday, was buried yesterday.

There are two warnings he has left for those who believe that this country must return to its roots as it faces the moral, legal, financial, and defense-related challenges ahead.

The first, the far briefer of the two, was published yesterday at the Free Congress Foundation web site. I have taken the liberty of converting it to a web-ready format and put it up here at my web host. It relates to protecting prolife professionals in the medical community from being forced to do things that violate their prolife beliefs:

….. (Barack Obama has) said he will propose FOCA (Freedom Of Choice Act), which would eliminate all State and Federal restrictions upon abortion. It would purport to force Christian hospitals to perform abortions or close. It would demand that physicians perform abortions or give up their practice.

Whatever happened to freedom of conscience? A hallmark of professionalism in the United States has been that we never force anyone to violate his or her conscience in the performance of a duty. That is the first line of defense of the pro-life movement.

….. Counting the votes, I doubt that there are enough pro-lifers in Congress to maintain the restrictions previously passed by Congress. However, even honest liberals would favor allowing a physician to practice medicine consistent with his or her life-saving principles of conscience. Most Republicans, as well as many Democrats, ran as pro-lifers in the 2008 election. This fundamental issue may become the first test of their commitment to life. If we force hospitals and physicians to perform abortions against their beliefs, in other words in violation of their conscience, then we will be on a downward spiral from which there may be no return.

This will be a test, America. God help all of us.

Weyrich’s longer warning, “History and the Judiciary,” published in July at UndergroundJournal.net and other sites where he was syndicated, explains in a sense how we got to the precipice of a point where, plainly spoken, a group of people acting as tyrants can force professionals to choose between staying in their chosen profession or violating their belief in the sanctity of human life.

The column should be seen as a clarion call for a new brand of constitutional activism.

The need for it only dawned on Weyrich late in his life.

Mostly unwittingly, I sensed in May of 2005 that the social “conservatives” who pushed George Bush over the finish line in 2000 and 2004 had lost their moorings. The realization that all was far from well hit me between the eye in May of that year, when I learned that James Dobson had endorsed an objectively unqualified man, Bob McEwen, for Congress in “my” district (OH-02). In short order, I learned that several other supposed leading lights of social conservatism (Weyrich, Don Wildmon, Tony Perkins, and several others) had done the same.

McEwen lost his bid that year, but tried again (and failed, thankfully) for the same seat in the Spring 2006 primary. Even when he was shown to have illegally voted absentee in Ohio for at least a half-dozen years while a resident of Virginia (and NOT a legal resident of Ohio), the same cadre of so-called evangelicals clung to their endorsements of him. I wanted to chalk it up to personal friendships these men had, and probably still have, with McEwen.

But in late 2007, I ran out of excuses I could make for them, when they endorsed in most cases, and lodged no meaningful objections in others, the presidential candidacy of Mitt Romney. Weyrich was among them; months before his death, he said that doing so was the biggest mistake he ever made.

As to the others — Perhaps someday we’ll know how much money was involved in turning these people, all of whom supposedly strongly oppose the legalization of same-sex marriage, into endorsers of the one man who did more to “legitimize” it (but not actually legalize it; same-sex marriage is still illegal in every state in the union) than any other single person in America. But I’ll suggest that if there was any, it didn’t take much, because what these people are really after is having access to whomever happens to be in power. If that meant backing a person who lied about the abortion record of Ronald Reagan; who proactively, illegally, and unconstitutionally implemented the Massachusett’s same-sex marriage court opinion (Goodridge) instead of demanding that the legislature pass a law first; who implemented a state-run health care plan that subsidized abortions; and who forced Catholic Charities in Massachusetts out of involvement with adoptions by insisting that the organization violate its conscience and place children with same-sex couples — well, that was a price worth paying.

Weyrich’s column is a realization that many of his colleagues had gone down the wrong road — some inadvertently and with good intentions, and others not so much. Articulating this realization required the help of John Haskins, who operates UndergroundJournal.net. I was privy to some of the e-mails and aware of others that were involved in having John essentially ghostwrite, but with Weyrich’s ultimate approval, “History and the Judiciary.” It was painful for Weyrich to acknowledge that much of conservative strategy has been ineffectual for decades. Thus, his column is a call to constitutionalists to insist that from now on the game be played by our Founding Fathers’ rules, not the arbitrary rules of the elites. If the people we are sending to Washington want to keep playing the losers’ game, we have to keep working until we find people who are willing to fight and win.

That is what we must do. That is what so-called “conservative” leaders haven’t done. It is why there either needs to be new leaders, or the old ones have to understand what’s at stake, what has been done wrong, and get on the correct path.

The first 1/3 of Weyrich’s/John’s column follows after the jump; the rest is here at UndergroundJournal.net (Update: Also at Townhall.com.

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What Time of Year Is It? (Year 4 Follow-up, Part 3)

Filed under: Economy,MSM Biz/Other Bias — Tom @ 3:58 pm

ChristmasTreePic In 2005, I sensed that journalists in general prefer to call this time of the year in commerce that of “holiday shopping” instead of “Christmas shopping,” but that when it came to people losing their jobs, they preferred to describe layoffs as relating to “Christmas.” My instincts have been proven correct during the past three years.

So did anything change in 2008?

Not that much, but slightly in the secular direction. Here are the overall results of various relevant Google News searches for the past four years (searches have been done three times each year — just before Thanksgiving, about weeks later, and shortly before Christmas Day; this years Parts 1 and 2 are here and here, respectively; image courtesy of commenter “siouxcityranch” at Dr. BLT’s Blog n Roll Studio):

ChristmasVholidaysRound3on122308

The key numbers are highlighted, and tell us the following:

  • (green numbers) In the past three years (2005-2008), “holiday shopping season” has crowded out “Christmas shopping season” by a seven- or eight-to-one ratio. This year was the most extreme, at 8.4:1. My personal experience, which I doubt is unique, is that an obvious majority of people in everyday conversation refer to “Christmas shopping” over “holiday shopping” in a ratio that is about the direct opposite of how the media uses the terms.
  • (red numbers) The “layoffs” news is double-edged. The ratio of stories using “Christmas” and “layoffs” has gone down from about triple (35.7 divided by 12.2) to a bit more than double (24.8 divided by 10.6), but the raw number of occurrences of “Christmas” and “layoffs” (16,994) dwarfs the number relating to shopping (5,840) by almost 3:1.

The initial conclusion (slightly paraphrased) from 2005 still holds — It seems beyond dispute that there is a strong bias against using the word “Christmas” to describe not only the shopping season, as noted above, but also events, parades, and festivals that happen during the Christmas season. There is, however, one notable exception: “Christmas” is a word that is still much more acceptable to use when “Scrooge” employers are letting people go.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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Previous Posts:
- Dec. 11, 2008 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 4 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 25, 2008 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 4 Follow-up, Part 1)
- Dec. 22, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 3)
- Dec. 10, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 28, 2007 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 3 Follow-up, Part 1)
- Dec. 22, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 3)
- Dec. 9, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 2)
- Nov. 26, 2006 — What Time of Year Is It? (Year 2 Follow-up, Part 1)
- Nov. 11, 2006 — Will Christmas Be a Four-Letter Word This Year?
- Dec. 22, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE 2)
- Dec. 7, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year (UPDATE)
- Nov. 29, 2005 — What Time of Year Is It?
- Nov. 23, 2005 — When You Can Say What at This Time of Year

AP Flunks ‘Meltdown 101′ in Comparing US and Foreign Car Companies

You would think from reading yesterday afternoon’s report by the Associated Press’s Tom Murphy that companies like Toyota, Nissan, and Honda are not that far from finding themselves in the situations US taxpayer bailout recipients General Motors and Chrysler are in.

Murphy tries mightily to make the foreign-owned companies’ situations look serious, at one point even putting out the howler that they are “not quite” as bad off as Detroit’s Big Three.

You’ve got to be kidding me.

Murphy’s “Meltdown 101: Foreign automakers struggle too” apparently just arrived from the School of Hard Laughs. It is mostly written in a Q&A format. Here are some excerpts (bolds are mine):

….. carmakers from Stockholm to Tokyo report problems of their own in a slumping global economy.

Here are some questions and answers about the state of carmakers outside the U.S.

Q: Which foreign automakers are hurting?

A: Take your pick.

Toyota expects to lose money on an operating basis for the fiscal year ending next March. It has never reported an operating loss in the 67 years it has given such figures.

Its Japanese competitor, Honda Motor Co., expects its profit for the fiscal year ending in March to be less than a third of what it earned last year. ….

Q: What are their problems?

A: Foreign automakers are being hurt by many of the same issues that have crunched sales for their American competitors.

A double whammy of sorts battered carmakers worldwide this year. Soaring fuel prices earlier in the year stoked demand for smaller – and less profitable – vehicles. And big industries like car manufacturing aren’t nimble enough to adjust to that demand. …..

Q: So foreign carmakers are in the same boat as their U.S. counterparts?

A: Not quite. U.S. automakers were struggling before the recession hit. They’ve been contending with a declining market share and seeking relief from huge costs like retiree health care. …..

Q: Will the bailout for U.S. automakers give them an unfair advantage competing against their foreign counterparts?

A: Not at all. (Chairman of the Center for Automotive Research David) Cole thinks it will help level the playing field a bit.

He noted that foreign automakers who sell cars in the United States already receive a big helping hand in their home countries, where the cost of health care and pensions often is absorbed across the whole country.

For the record, here are few points exemplifying how “not quite” true Murphy’s “not quite in the same boat” answer is:

  • Toyota’s estimated full-year operating loss of $1.7 billion for the year that will end on March 31, 2009, and its net profit after other items of $555 million, is miniscule compared to GM’s net losses of about $22 billion in its most recent four quarters.
  • Toyota passed GM as the world largest carmaker in the first quarter of 2007, and has lengthened its lead significantly since then.
  • Though their sales are declining, Japanese makers continue to gain market share, because the declines at other companies are worse. In November, “US automakers’ share of their home market decreased to 47.7 percent from 49.9 percent, while Asian brands’ share increased to 43.4 percent from 42 percent.”
  • Honda, as noted, is still making money.
  • A week ago, Mark Steyn observed that Toyota’s market capitalization was over $100 billion. In today’s trading as of shortly after noon, GM was down about 15%, pegging its worth at about $1.7 billion.

Murphy had not a word to say about the Big Three’s unionized labor costs, inflexible work rules, or “job banks.” He failed to note that GM and Chrysler were (and even after the “bailout,” still possibly are) on the verge of bankruptcy, while no one believes that to be an even remote possibility at any of the Big Three’s competitors. He didn’t even tell us that non-Big Three companies are seeing sales declines, but that they are mostly nowhere near what the GM and Chrysler are experiencing.

In “Meltdown 101,” I give Tom Murphy a solid “F.”

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Things I’d Like to Post About Today …..(122308, Morning)

Filed under: TILTpatBIDHAT — Tom @ 8:40 am

….. But I Don’t Have Any Time For:

  • Must-read of the day (HT my guardian angel) — The ever-brilliant George Reisman asks ” Where Would General Motors Be Without the United Automobile Workers Union?”
  • In a couple of NewsBusters posts not copied here, I’ve noted that Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez has said he will expropriate a nearly complete, city-block sized mall that was going to have 273 shops. It looks like he did it because he didn’t like being stuck in traffic. The latest headline from the oh-so-objective AP is “Chavez orders halt to construction of Caracas mall.”
  • So predictable — “Code Pink Hearts Iran’s Mullahs.” The radical group’s honchos, Jodie Evans and Medea Benjamin were wined and dined in Iran, while an Iranian women was summarily executed for “kill(ing) her husband while he was attempting to rape (her) then-14-year-old daughter, Zahra, born from a previous marriage.” Someday, someone in a responsible position will call Benjamin and Evans out as the traitors that they are. Given that Evans bundled tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions for him, the odds that this person will be Barack Obama are pretty low. But oh how I would love a sincere upside surprise.
  • So predictable II — An AP reporter covering Zimbabwean thug Robert Mugabe’s latest refusal to step down reports that “Critics blame Mugabe’s policies for the ruin of what had been the region’s breadbasket,” as if there’s some rational disagreement with that contention. There isn’t.
  • In what serves as a useful follow-up to yesterday evening’s post about California’s bloated welfare system, IBDeditorials.com writes that “it’s pretty clear the real problem isn’t the budget at all, but a political system that has resulted in a dysfunctional one-party state.” Exactly. Arnold Schwarzenegger is no Republican.
  • A sports aside — You can (almost) write it down that the Tennessee Titans will lose to the Pittsburgh Steelers if the two teams meet in the NFL playoffs, thanks to Titans’ players stomping on “Terrible Towels” beloved by Steelers fans. Just ask Cincinnati Bengals loudmouth Chad Johnson what happened a few years ago when he said (scroll down to the “Steelers 31, Bengals 17″ game), after a rare victory over the Steelers, that “It’s time for a change. It’s like going from a black-and-white TV to a color TV. It was Pittsburgh; it’s Cincinnati now, and it’ll probably be that way for a while now.” Uh, not exactly. Titans head coach Jeff Fisher is trying to defuse the problem, “It was certainly not a shot at the organization or the players or the staff or the fans.” Yeah right. Too late, Jeff.
  • “(Caroline) Kennedy Declines to Make Financial Disclosure” — Well of course. She’s a Kennedy. Ordinary rules don’t apply to them. Just ask Mary Jo Kopechne. Oh, I’m sorry; she’s not available for comment.

Positivity: Baghdad celebrates first public Christmas amid hope, memories

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:57 am

From Iraq (HT Hot Air, whose post title is “Victory: Christmas in Baghdad”):

updated 9:30 p.m. EST, Sun December 21, 2008

From a distance, it looks like an apparition: a huge multi-colored hot-air balloon floating in the Baghdad sky, bearing a large poster of Jesus Christ. Below it, an Iraqi flag.

Welcome to the first-ever public Christmas celebration in Baghdad, held Saturday and sponsored by the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Once thought to be infiltrated by death squads, the Ministry now is trying to root out sectarian violence — as well as improve its P.R. image.

The event takes place in a public park in eastern Baghdad, ringed with security checkpoints. Interior Ministry forces deployed on surrounding rooftops peer down at the scene: a Christmas tree decorated with ornaments and tinsel; a red-costumed Santa Claus waving to the crowd, an Iraqi flag draped over his shoulders; a red-and-black-uniformed military band playing stirring martial music, not Christmas carols.

On a large stage, children dressed in costumes representing Iraq’s many ethnic and religious groups — Kurds, Turkmen, Yazidis, Christians, Arab Muslims not defined as Sunni or Shiite — hold their hands aloft and sing “We are building Iraq!” Two young boys, a mini-policeman and a mini-soldier sporting painted-on mustaches, march stiffly and salute. VideoWatch the celebration in Baghdad »

Even before I can ask Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul Karim Khalaf a question, he greets me with a big smile. “All Iraqis are Christian today!” he says.

Khalaf says sectarian and ethnic violence killed thousands of Iraqis. “Now that we have crossed that hurdle and destroyed the incubators of terrorism,” he says, “and the security situation is good, we have to go back and strengthen community ties.”

In spite of his claim, the spokesman is surrounded by heavy security. Yet this celebration shows that the security situation in Baghdad is improving.

Many of the people attending the Christmas celebration appear to be Muslims, with women wearing head scarves. Suad Mahmoud, holding her 16-month-old daughter, Sara, tells me she is indeed Muslim, but she’s very happy to be here. “My mother’s birthday also is this month, so we celebrate all occasions,” she says, “especially in this lovely month of Christmas and New Year.”

Father Saad Sirop Hanna, a Chaldean Christian priest, is here too. He was kidnapped by militants in 2006 and held for 28 days. He knows firsthand how difficult the lot of Christians in Iraq is but, he tells me, “We are just attesting that things are changing in Baghdad, slowly, but we hope that this change actually is real. We will wait for the future to tell us the truth about this.”

He just returned from Rome. “I came back to Iraq because I believe that we can live here,” he says. “I have so many [Muslim] friends and we are so happy they started to think about things from another point of view and we want to help them.” …..

Go here for the rest of the story.