Archive for May 1st, 2009

Imitating Christ’s Humility

Friday, May 1st, 2009

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Jesus Humility

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:1-11 (New International Version)

Flu Sharpens Tone of U.S. Immigration Debate

Friday, May 1st, 2009

PHOENIX (Reuters) – A new strain of flu has stirred a heated debate in the United States about immigration, an emotional topic that is never far from the surface in this country of migrants.

The swine flu has killed up to 176 people in Mexico. North of the border in Texas, the outbreak killed a Mexican toddler and it has sickened scores of people in several other states.

Open Border Virus

“People always want to find a culprit, and it’s easy to target people who can’t really defend themselves,” said Carlos Garcia, a Hispanic activist in Phoenix.

In recent days, at least three U.S. congressmen called for travel across the Mexico border to be stopped or restricted to prevent the spread of the virus — a measure the government has said would be ineffective.

Syndicated columnist Michelle Malkin blamed the spread of “contagious diseases” on “uncontrolled immigration” in a blog, and other conservative talk show hosts made similar claims.

In response, the National Association of Hispanic Journalists urged the media to be “fair and prudent” when covering the flu and resist scapegoating Mexican immigrants.

“Immigrants, of course, have long been favorite and convenient scapegoats for some for everything from high taxes to infectious diseases,” it said in a statement issued on Wednesday. “Facts haven’t much mattered.”

The NAHJ noted U.S. citizens also cross the border. There are more than 4,000 weekly flights from the United States to Mexico, and about 80 percent of visitors to Mexico last year came from the United States.

Original Link.

Rockets Fired into Israel from Gaza – IAF Strikes Gaza Smuggling Tunnels

Friday, May 1st, 2009

Aircraft launch two separate attacks on smuggling tunnels shortly after Qassam rocket lands in Negev; direct hits identified; Palestinians say one injured

After a period of relative calm, Israeli aircraft on Friday launched two separate strikes on smuggling tunnels situated along Gaza’s border with Egypt. The army said direct hits were identified.

A Palestinian health official said one person was slightly injured in one of the strikes.

The strikes came shortly after a Qassam rocket fired by Palestinians in north Gaza landed in an open area in the Negev’s Eshkol Regional Council. There were no reports of physical injury or damage in the attack.

The last airstrike took place two weeks ago.

The rocket fire on Israel resumed Thursday evening when a Qassam hit near a kibbutz in the Negev region, without causing physical injury or damage. A few hours prior to that attack IDF forces apprehended a number of Palestinians who allegedly approached the security fence in south Gaza.

Violence around Gaza has sharply subsided since Israel concluded a three-week offensive in mid-January against terrorists firing rockets into its territory.

Original Link.

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Did President Approve Buzzing New York?

Friday, May 1st, 2009

An Air Force officer who served in the Clinton White House and for two years carried the “nuclear football” briefcase of codes says it’s almost certain that the “highest levels” of the Obama administration knew about and approved this week’s stunt in which Air Force One buzzed New York City.

Retired Lt. Col. Buzz Patterson served in Clinton’s White House from 1996 to 1998 and was responsible for the president’s “emergency satchel,” the black bag of nuclear codes that accompanies the president at all times.

He wrote “Reckless Disregard” and “Dereliction of Duty” after his retirement from the military.

During an interview on “The Andrea Shea King Show” last night, he said, “I can’t imagine that anyone who works in the Air Force thought that was a good idea. I have worked in the White House and having worked for the Military Office, with the guys at Andrews Air Force Base and the ground crews, that (decision) had to come down from on high.”

Among the procedures with which he became familiar during his work with Clinton were those involving the preparation of the president’s 747 jet for flight.

“It defies my belief that the White House staff did not know they were launching the 747 to go up and do this. So it had to come down from the White House. It wouldn’t have been done on behalf of the folks at Andrews (Air Force Base). It would have been done at the direction of the White House,” he said.

Patterson said the low-flying escapade over Manhattan clearly was not an oversight.

“The White House Military Office director is the Obama appointee – Caldera in this particular situation. So, he got the notification, he got the direction from somebody – I’m guessing Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff would probably be the person behind this.”

Does that mean the president also knew?

“I’m guessing he probably did. Did Emanuel know about it? I guarantee you he did. It did not come from the Andrews folks. It came from on high,” Patterson said.

He said the stunt reveals the judgment level in the Obama White House.

“I think that it shows you… quite clearly the lack of knowledge, the lack of focus or the understanding the Obama White House has toward the military, much like my former boss President Bill Clinton. I think it also shows a kind of arrogance to using toys – I’m sure that would be a phrase President Obama might use, his ‘toys’ – to get photo op shots around New York City and not recall or remember what happened on 9/11 and the fact that it might have caused some alarm. And I think really, it shows again a hundred days, a hundred mistakes with the Obama administration.”

Patterson explained the process that would have had to take place to get the jumbo jet in the air.

“The White House Military Office would have called the presidential pilot office at Andrews and said, ‘We want to get this airplane airborne. We want to get some photo ops over New York City. We want to get some photos with the statue of Liberty in the background or the Empire State Building or whatever, and we’ll have a couple of aircraft with it taking pictures of the airplane with the background of New York City. And that’s what happened,” he said.

Though Patterson believes the responsibility for the flights estimated to cost more than $300,000 resides at the highest levels, Military Office Director Louis Caldera has accepted the responsibility. In a statement released Wednesday, Caldera said:

“Last week, I approved a mission over New York. I take responsibility for that decision. While federal authorities took the proper steps to notify state and local authorities in New York and New Jersey, it’s clear that the mission created confusion and disruption. I apologize and take responsibility for any distress that flight caused.”

But Patterson isn’t buying it.

t’s just the latest evidence of mistaken judgment, he said.

“The releasing of the CIA interrogation stuff, which is a farce; the fact that he flies to Iowa on Earth Day in a 747 to talk about saving and preserving our resources and fuel; the fact that he launches an empty airplane to New York City for a photo op; this is exactly out of the playbook of President Bill Clinton in my time at the White House. It’s remarkably and scarily similar,” Patterson said.

“I think that they are – much like the Clinton administration – incredibly ignorant and devoid of reality when it comes to this country. They didn’t even think about the impact this might have, because they don’t understand that the war on terror is a real war on terror. They’ve changed the verbiage. They’ve changed the terms,” he said.

“The fact that they would fly a large airplane over a city that was attacked on 9/11 and the response of the people of New York was obviously 180 from what the Obama people thought. They just assumed there’d be no reaction because they don’t feel there’s a threat out there? They don’t understand that this country is still at war with terrorists and with the people who want to change our way of life. Instead, we’re shaking hands with Hugo Chavez; we’re shaking hands and brushing up with Hamas and Iran. We’re doing all these things that the Bush administration never would have even considered imaginable. So I think it shows not only arrogance, but more importantly, more troublingly to me, it shows that they’re just out of touch.

“I find it incredible with our current economic situation that we’re flying 747s empty anywhere in the country, much less for a photo op. And again, they’re so wantonly careless about this,” he said.

Original Link.

Obama’s Job Creation, Deficit Claims Questionable

Friday, May 1st, 2009

What? You mean the Emperor is lying to us? How could that be?

WASHINGTON — President Obama turned the page on 100 days in office with an iffy boast about job creation and claims of fiscal prudence that are hard to square with his spending.

Obama spoke with abundant confidence about his chances for achieving the big-ticket items on his agenda despite economic calamity:

— His assertion that his proposed budget “will cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term” is an eyeball-roller for many economists, given the uncharted terrain of trillion-dollar deficits the government is negotiating.

— He promised vast savings from increased spending on preventive health care in the face of doubts that such an effort, however laudable it might be for public welfare, can pay for itself, let alone yield huge savings.

— He pitched a remedy for Social Security’s long-term crisis that analysts say won’t fix half the problem.

Obama held a prime-time news conference Wednesday and addressed citizens at an Arnold, Mo., high school, using both events to review progress at the 100-day mark and look ahead.

A look at some of his claims:

OBAMA: “We began by passing a Recovery Act that has already saved or created over 150,000 jobs.” — from news conference.

THE FACTS: This assertion is dubious on several levels. For starters, the U.S. has lost more than 1.2 million jobs since Obama took office, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Even if Obama’s stimulus bill saved or created as many jobs as he says, that number is dwarfed by the number of recent job losses.

But Obama’s number is murky, at best. The White House has not yet announced how it intends to count jobs created by the stimulus bill. Obama’s number is based on a job-counting formula that his economists have developed but have not made public. Until that formula is announced –probably in the coming week or so — there’s no way to assess its accuracy.

Whatever the formula, economists who study job creation say it will require some creative math. That’s because Obama has lumped “jobs saved” in with “jobs created.” Even economists for organizations that stand to benefit from the stimulus concede it probably is impossible to estimate saved jobs because that would require calculating a hypothetical: how many people would have lost their jobs without the stimulus.

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OBAMA: “We must lay a new foundation for growth, a foundation that will strengthen our economy and help us compete in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what this budget begins to do. It contains new investments in education that will equip our workers with the right skills and training; new investments in renewable energy that will create millions of jobs and new industries; new investments in health care that will cut costs for families and businesses, and new savings that will bring down our deficit.” — news conference.

“I’ve personally asked the leadership in Congress to pass into law rules that follow the simple principle: You pay for what you spend, so that government acts the same way any responsible family does.” — in Missouri.

THE FACTS: While the budget does set a roadmap for achieving the president’s goals, it says nothing about how to pay for his health plan, expected to cost more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years. And while the deficit, under the plan, would drop to $523 billion in 2014, it achieves it with unrealistic assumptions, such as projections that spending in Iraq and Afghanistan will amount to only $50 billion a year.

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OBAMA: “Number one, we inherited a $1.3 trillion deficit….That wasn’t me.” — in Missouri.

THE FACTS:

Congress, under Democratic control in 2007 and 2008, held the purse strings that led to the deficit Obama inherited. A Republican president, George W. Bush, had a role too: He signed the legislation.

Obama supported the emergency financial bailout package in Bush’s final months — a package Democratic leaders wanted to make bigger.

To be sure, Obama opposed the Iraq war, a drain on federal coffers for six years before he became president. But with one major exception, he voted in support of Iraq war spending.

The nonpartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget has estimated Obama’s policy proposals would add a net $428 billion to the deficit over four years, even accounting for his spending reduction goals. Now, the deficit is nearly quadrupling to $1.75 trillion.

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OBAMA: “I think one basic principle that we know is that the more we do on the (disease) prevention side, the more we can obtain serious savings down the road. … If we’re making those investments, we will save huge amounts of money in the long term.” — in Missouri.

THE FACTS: It sounds believable that preventing illness should be cheaper than treating it, and indeed that’s the case with steps like preventing smoking and improving diet and exercise. But during the 2008 campaign, when Obama and other presidential candidates were touting a focus on preventive care, the New England Journal of Medicine cautioned that “sweeping statements about the cost-saving potential of prevention, however, are overreaching.” It said that “although some preventive measures do save money, the vast majority reviewed in the health economics literature do not.”

And a study released in December by the Congressional Budget Office found that increasing preventive care “could improve people’s health but would probably generate either modest reductions in the overall costs of health care or increases in such spending within a 10-year budgetary time frame.”

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OBAMA: “You could cut (Social Security) benefits. You could raise the tax on everybody so everybody’s payroll tax goes up a little bit. Or you can do what I think is probably the best solution, which is you can raise the cap on the payroll tax.” — in Missouri.

THE FACTS: Obama’s proposal would reduce the Social Security trust fund’s deficit by less than half, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center.

That means he would still have to cut benefits, raise the payroll tax rate, raise the retirement age or some combination of these measures to deal with the program’s long-term imbalance.

Workers currently pay 6.2 percent and their employers pay an equal rate — for a total of 12.4 percent — on annual wages of up to $106,800, after which no more payroll tax is collected.

Obama wants workers making more than $250,000 to pay payroll tax on their income over that amount. That would still protect workers making under $250,000 from an additional burden. But it would raise much less money than removing the cap completely.

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OBAMA: “My hope is that working in a bipartisan fashion we are going to be able to get a health care reform bill on my desk before the end of the year that we’ll start seeing in the kinds of investments that will make everybody healthier.” — in Missouri.

THE FACTS: Obama has indeed expressed hope for a health care plan that has support from Democrats and Republicans. But his Democratic allies in Congress have just made that harder. The Democratic budget plan that Congress passed Wednesday gives Democrats the option of denying Republicans the normal right to block health care with a Senate filibuster. The filibuster tactic requires 60 votes to overcome, making it the GOP’s main weapon to ensure a bipartisan outcome. The rules set by the budget mean that majority Democrats could potentially pass health care legislation without any Republican votes, sacrificing bipartisanship to achieve their goals.

Original Link.