The Council has Spoken! (Plus a special announcement.)

Before I get to my special and exciting announcement, here are the winning entries in the Watcher’s Council vote for this week. On the Council side, first place went to Soccer Dad for Hating israel more than loving palestinians. On the Non-Council side, first place was a two way tie between Jay Cost for On Obama’s Message and Investor’s Business Daily for Barack Obama’s Stealth Socialism.  Exercising my Watcher’s prerogative for this week, I awarded first place to the IBD editorial.  Three members were unable to vote this week, but only Hillbilly White Trash suffered the 2/3 vote penalty.  Here is the list of all posts that received votes this week:

Council:

1.  Soccer Dad (2) :  Hating Israel more than loving palestinians

Two posts tied for second:

2.  Joshua Pundit (1 1/3):  “Ich Bin Ein Beginner!”

2.  Bookworm Room (1 1/3):  Nobody here but us biased chickens

3.  Hillbilly White Trash (1):  China

Three posts tied for fourth:

4.  Wolf Holwing (2/3):  Stop the Destruction of Our Environment – Drill Now

4.  The Colossus of Rhodey (2/3):  And Phil Gramm got grief?  How come?

4.  Rhymes With Right (2/3):  Obama Desecrates Holiest Site in Judaism

Two posts tied for fifth:

5.  Done With Mirrors (1/3):  Us and Them

5.  Cheat-Seeking Missiles (1/3):  An Awful Idea for Renaming a Perfectly Good Mountain

Non-Council:

1.  Investor’s Business Daily (2, winning by a tie-breaker):  Barack Obama’s Stealth Socialism

2.  Jay Cost (1 2/3):  On Obama’s Message

Two posts tied for third:

3.  Jeff Jacoby (1 1/3):  Missing from that Berlin Speech

3.  Gregory Scoblete (1 1/3):  Will Obama Really Withdraw From Iraq?

Two posts tied for fourth:

4.  Maryland Conservative (1):  Visiting Poland : A Warning

4.  Patrick Poole (1) :  Anti-Patriot Act Poster Boy Kidnaps Own Kids

5.  UrbanGrounds (2/3):  Barry in Berlin – I am Not a Presidential Candidate

6.  Daniel W.  Drezner (1/3):  America’s soft military power

Congratulations to everyone for a job well done.

And now for my exciting announcement:  Terry Trippany, who has distinguished himself by creating, managing and writing for Webloggin, and who is a frequent contributor to Newsbusters, will be the new Watcher.  He’ll be up to speed in a week or two and will take over his duties then.  I will keep you posted.  Needless to say, we are all extremely pleased to welcome Terry on board.

Ask what your country will force you to do

IBD has another superb editorial, this one about Obama’s plan to force young people to work in the new age Greenie trenches of his socialist imagination:

Obama says that as president he will “set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year.” What he doesn’t say is that he’ll make such voluntarism compulsory by attaching strings to federal education dollars. The schools will make the kids volunteer. It’s called plausible deniability.

In a commencement speech at Wesleyan University, Obama advised graduates not to pursue the American dream of success, but to serve others.

“You can take your diploma, walk off this stage and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should,” he told the graduates. “But I hope you don’t.”

Don’t be another Bill Gates and amass a fortune making people more productive and successful in their daily lives and giving your countrymen a standard of living the world will envy. Exchange your cap and gown for sackcloth and ashes. Leave your possessions behind and come and follow Obama.

“Fulfilling your immediate wants and needs betrays a poverty of ambition,” he opined. Shame on us for being selfish and buying that SUV built by an autoworker trying to fulfill his family’s immediate wants and needs.

“Our collective service can shape the destiny of this generation,” Obama said. “Individual salvation depends on collective salvation.”

We already have a Salvation Army that is truly a volunteer organization. Collective service and salvation is not a classic definition of voluntarism. What Obama has in mind is to turn America into a socialist version of the old Soviet collectives.

And if your idea of service is to join the military and keep others alive and free, forget about it. And never mind about ROTC on campus.

Obama has no place for those who are willing to abandon fame and fortune to lay down their lives for their friends and ours. “At a time of war,” Obama says, “we need you to work for peace.”

With President Obama in the White House, you’ll still be free — as long as your idea of freedom coincides with Obama’s demands on your time, intelligence, and efforts.

The bloom is coming off the rose

I’ve never been a David Letterman fan — his humor and mine have few points of intersection.  Nevertheless, I think he (and his writers) hit the nail on the head with the Top 10 list of signs Obama is becoming over-confident.  As you watch this, don’t just listen to the jokes.  Pay attention to the audience laughter as well.  It’s telling.

I found this video at Hot Air, where it was part of a larger post about Obama’s declining poll numbers.  The very first comment to the post, a funny one, is that “Somewhere in Chappaqua, New York, the lid is slowly pushed away from the coffin,…”

I’ve wondered, too, if Obama’s peaking too soon will lead to Hillary’s being nominated in Denver.  The Democrats are in a cleft stick, though.  Right now, women and rational people are PO’d at the party for going with Obama.  However, if those super-delegates jettison Obama for Hillary, the Democrats will lose the African-American vote, and the nutroot vote.  And say what you will about the nutroots, they are energized.  They are the vibrant, living side of the Democratic party.  It’s an interesting conundrum for the Dems.

The joy of teaching

I think most of us watched Randy Pausch’s last lecture, delivered when he was retiring due to terminal cancer.  Although the cancer finally claimed Pausch, the messages about getting the most out of life, about living with joy and immediacy, linger on.  Charles Lipson, himself a teacher, concludes that Pausch not only taught life lessons, he taught an important lesson about what it means to be a true teacher (as opposed to someone who merely stands in front of a class).  As for me, I can look back in time and see vividly each of the wonderful teachers I had, all of whom inspired me in ways that transcended the curriculum.

I’m not the president. I just play one on TV.

If you’re old enough, you remember the famous cough syrup advertisement, in which a soap opera actor announced, “I’m not a doctor.  I just play one on TV.”  Miguel Guanipa explains how Obama, who came of age along with that TV commercial, has opted to use the same approach to convince the American public to buy his product:  himself.

In his mind Obama hopes that people will apply the duck logic to his scheme. If it looks like a duck, and it walks like a duck, well, then, it must be a duck.

This is the reason why Obama has decided in the last few months before the election to start looking and walking like a president.

Make a few trips to carefully selected countries, speak to a few foreign leaders (a luxury that John Kerry unwisely did not indulge in before making the actual claim); visit a few beleaguered nations and frown as you speak in public to their heads of state; fill in a few photo-ops to make sure the world knows and shares in your concern. Pretty soon you may start not only looking like a president but like you actually should be the president.

Read the rest here.

Queen Nancy

IBD does an enjoyably neat job of cutting Nancy Pelosi down to size:

When challenged in an interview with Politico.com about her bullheaded refusal to let Republicans submit energy policies for approval, Pelosi resorted to risible hyperbole to justify her iron-fisted rule of the House parliamentary process.

“I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet,” she responded. “I will not have this debate trivialized by their excuse for their failed policy.”

If the San Francisco Democrat’s magisterial narcissism isn’t off-putting enough, her intent should be. She’s saying that her importance to the survival of Earth transcends our system of open government, elections and power-sharing. Because she’s trying to save the world, she can’t be challenged and dissent will not be tolerated.

Read the rest here.

Oh, speaking of stupidity regarding oil policy, get a load of this video of Barack Obama advising us to dig out our tire air gauges to save the planet, along with John Hindraker’s little reality check.

Best analysis I’ve seen of Obama’s myriad failures re Iraq

Before today, I hadn’t heard of Frank Turek.  After today, I’m going to keep an eye out for his articles.  He’s written a really splendid article explaining how deeply, terribly wrong Obama’s every position is regarding Iraq.  Frankly, for those who are well-informed, there’s nothing in this article you haven’t seen before.  I’m just impressed by how well and elegantly he pulls it together — to the point where’d I say that, if you have to send one article to a liberal friend supporting McCain on Iraq, and opposing Obama, I’d make it this one.

For example (emphasis in original):

Barack Obama’s recent op-ed in the New York Times declares, “It’s time to end this war.” (You remember that Senator McCain tried to respond, but the Times apparently wanted to give McCain his opinion rather than allow him to express his own.   Every day I read the New York Times and the Bible just to see what both sides are doing.)

Is Obama right?  Is it time to end this war?  Maybe it is time to begin drawing down our forces and handing-off more responsibility for security to Iraqi forces.  This idea is gaining favor in Bagdad and Washington.

The problem for Obama is that withdrawal, not victory, has always been his goal.  Obama wanted to “end this war” when it would have meant an American defeat.  The only reason a slow withdrawal is possible now is because President Bush made the unpopular but wise decision to increase our efforts while Obama and the Democrat party tried to get us to cut and run.

This raises a larger question about Obama’s fitness for the presidency.  Obama has four positions related to the war which, in my view, disqualify him for the presidency.

First, how can a serious candidate for President of the United States have a long-standing goal to end the war rather than win it?  Great presidents don’t end wars—they win them. The only way the American military can be defeated is when American leaders forfeit the fight for them.  And that’s exactly what Obama has wanted to do for years.

For those of you in or near Somerset, Pennsylvania

I just received this press release:

Alec Rawls and Tom Burnett Sr. (father of Flight 93 hero Tom Burnett Jr.) are traveling to Somerset PA to condemn the crescent/broken-circle memorial at the Memorial Project’s public meeting this Saturday, August 2nd. The meeting will run from 10-am to 1pm at the Somerset County Courthouse.

Immediately after the meeting Mr. Burnett and Mr. Rawls will host a press conference in the Master’s Room at the Somerset County Courthouse, next door to the public meeting room (Courtroom 1). Also on the press conference panel will be Diane Gramley, President of the American Family Association of Pennsylvania, and the Reverend Ron McRae of Johnstown.

In addition to our own statements, Mr. Burnett will read a statement from Congressman John Kline (R-MN), and Alec Rawls will present statements from Rich Davis, founder of the Chester County Victory Movement, and from Khalim Massoud, President of Muslims Against Sharia Law.

After the press conference, Mr. Burnett and his supporters will host a rally to stop the re-hijacking of Flight 93. Members of our informal Western Pennsylvania Compatriots group (who spoke out at the last public meeting) will be in attendance, and some out of town folks will be coming as well.

To inform and invite the local populace, a half-page full-color ad will be running in tomorrow’s edition of the Somerset Daily American. (Ad copy here.) It explains how the original Crescent of Embrace design remains completely intact in the Circle of Embrace redesign, which is explicitly described by the Park Service itself as a “broken” circle. That is exactly how architect Paul Murdoch described his original Crescent design.

All the redesign does is include an extra arc of trees that explicitly represents a broken off part of the circle. The unbroken part of the circle (the crescent), remains exactly as it was. It is still a giant Islamic shaped crescent, still pointing to Mecca , as your colleague Kirk Swauger verified a year ago:

Rawls maintains that the midpoint between the tips of the crescent points almost precisely toward “qibla,” the direction to Mecca, which Muslims are supposed to face for prayer.

His claims seem to be backed up by coordinates for the direction of qibla from Somerset that can be found on Islam.com. When superimposed over the crescent in the memorial design, the midpoint points over the Arctic Circle, through Europe toward Mecca.

Except for Kirk’s verification of the Mecca orientation of the crescent (which was not picked up by any other news organization), reporters have not been bothering to check the facts. When our claim that there are to be 44 inscribed translucent blocks emplaced along the flight path was reported a few months ago, Gordon Felt, President of Families of Flight 93 was quoted denying it, but despite this clear conflict of factual claims, no reporter bothered to simply open up the design drawings and count.

As will be detailed at our press conference, several of our supporters have gone to the trouble of going back to the source documents and fact-checking our basic claims about what is in the design. If reporters want to do the same, I have posted a set of fact checking guides, with links to source documents, at CrescentOfBetrayal.com.

Obama and reparations

Obama was caught during his speech to minority journalists making noises that sounded remarkably like reparations talk:

“I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged,” the Democratic presidential hopeful said.

“I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds.”

There was immediate speculation about whether he really meant to have the US pay reparations, not to still-living former slaves (since there are none), but to the descendants by several generations of former slaves.

Unwittingly, the New York Times has provided further insight into the answer to that question.  In a long article describing Obama’s years teaching at the University of Chicago Law School, this little bit leaped out at me (and I probably wouldn’t even have noticed it if I hadn’t first seen this story about the reparations talk):

Mr. Obama was especially eager for his charges to understand the horrors of the past, students say. He assigned a 1919 catalog of lynching victims, including some who were first raped or stripped of their ears and fingers, others who were pregnant or lynched with their children, and some whose charred bodies were sold off, bone fragment by bone fragment, to gawkers.

“Are there legal remedies that alleviate not just existing racism, but racism from the past?” Adam Gross, now a public interest lawyer in Chicago, wrote in his class notes in April 1994.

If Obama had raised that as a hypothetical legal question in the context of an abstract talk about race relations in America, I could conceive of it being a truly open-ended discussion.  However, given that he paired it with requiring his students to read about the horrors African-Americans suffered generations ago, it’s easy to see that, lawyer-like, he is pushing his impressionable students to an affirmative answer to the question he asked of them.

James Taranto gives a good run-down of why reparations are a bad idea:

The idea of reparations is highly unpopular, and with good reason. Unlike the Japanese-Americans who in 1988 received compensation for their internment by a Democratic administration in the grips of wartime hysteria, no one alive today has ever been a slave. The idea of the government cutting checks to compensate people for a wrong that they did not personally suffer is unlikely to appeal to anyone except perhaps those who stand to receive those checks.

Taranto goes on to wonder why Obama would be making reparations an issue anyway?  African-Americans will vote for him regardless, and reparations are unpopular with anyone else.  What Taranto misses is that he provided the answer in the material I quoted above:  it’s about receiving checks.

To the extent that Obama seeks to raise taxes, not to fund the government (whether for popular or unpopular initatives), but instead to redistribute wealth a la the Communists, reparation is yet another tool in that arsenal.  That is, it’s not about race qua race, it’s about painting a sympathetic victim face on a socialist wealth grab.