Monday, September 29, 2008

College Football: Five Weeks In

At this point in the season, you can get a true sense of the teams and start forming opinions that are based on something other than guesswork and emotions. Here are some of my thoughts, including the poll I keep in my head: The Stanton’s Space Top 20. Hey, it's every bit as valid as the Top 25 Poll kept by all those AP journalism majors.

Most Underrated Team
Connecticut. Nobody is talking about them, but the Huskies are 5-0, they have the nation’s leading rusher, and they are coming off a 9-win season in which they shared the Big East title only to be relegated to the Meineke Car Care Bowl while their more-heralded co-champion (West Virginia) got the glory of a BCS bid. If they win at North Carolina this weekend, expect them to make a big jump in the polls and mount a serious challenge for the Big East crown.

Most Overrated Team
Texas Tech. They used to be underrated back when they had tough defense (remember Zach Thomas?) and a strong running game (remember Byron Hanspard?). But now they are a trendy pick showing up in everyone’s Top 10, and I’m not buying it. As the late Chris Thomas would have said, they have one of those "zipadee-doo-dah offenses" that throws 60 times a week and averages 50 points a game – and unfortunately for Red Raiders fans, those kinds of teams usually wilt as soon as they face a powerful opponent and find themselves in a dog fight. Before I can take this team seriously, I have to see them hold their own against the big boys.

My Auburn Indulgence
I can’t talk college football without focusing on my alma matter. We lost one of the best defensive linemen in school history, and a quarterback who was one of the best big-game QB’s we’ve ever had, and then we started the season with a new defensive coordinator, a new offensive coordinator, and an offensive system completely different than anything we’ve ever run. So we should have known coming in that this is a transitional year in which the team will need time to evolve.

Despite all that, we are 4-1 and the defense is playing like one of the best that Auburn has ever fielded (just tighten up your downfield coverage, DB's!). Yes, it is nerve-wracking watching our O-line struggle and waiting for the offense to gel, but I have to say this to my fellow alumni who are calling for heads to roll: Get a grip on reality for the reasons I just laid out, and get it through your skulls that judgment must be withheld until we know how the season turns out.

No matter what, we should not start ripping Tuberville: He is a hell of a coach and the fact he changed the offense so drastically shows he is not resting on his laurels. I remember quite a few of us (me included) wanting to run him out of town just one year before he delivered a 13-0 season. I, at least, won’t make that mistake again. Tommy Tuberville should not have to listen to boos raining down from those of us who have never coached.

Stanton's Space Top 20
  1. Oklahoma
  2. Alabama
  3. Penn State
  4. Missouri
  5. LSU
  6. Texas
  7. USC
  8. Florida
  9. South Florida
  10. BYU
  11. Kansas
  12. Georgia
  13. Utah
  14. Auburn
  15. Wisconsin
  16. Boise State
  17. Oregon
  18. Ohio State
  19. Fresno State
  20. Vanderbilt

Friday, September 26, 2008

Obama's Lies: Part Four of ?

Every morning on my way to work, I get to hear a brand new chock-full-of-lies advertisement from Barack Obama. They have been getting more and more disgraceful the last few weeks, but it’s going to be hard for him to top the one from two mornings ago.

It charges that John McCain wants to ban stem cell research, and it voices the logical extension that his opposition is standing in the way of medical progress that could cure diseases if only he would get out of science’s way. But then there’s that thing called the truth: In reality, McCain is a staunch supporter of stem cell research and even voted to increase federal funding of it.

In other words, the ad’s central contention is absolutely, unambiguously, and deliberately false.

What makes the ad especially cynical is its exploitation of an anguished mother, who does all the talking because Obama believes her pleading voice will cause millions of uninformed but sensitive voters to be moved. It begins with her stating that six times a day she tests the blood sugar of her diabetic daughter, and six times a day she prays for a cure. Then she goes on to read a litany of Obama’s lies, including one that says McCain is “running on a platform even more extreme than George Bush’s on this vital research.”

But then there’s that thing called the truth: In reality, McCain voted to lift restrictions on embryonic stem cell research that went into effect during Bush’s administration.

So what exactly is McCain opposed to? He is against creating new human embryos for the specific purpose of harvesting their stem cells and then destroying them. He is not against harvesting stem cells from already existing embryos that were created at in vitro fertilization clinics and are going to be disposed of anyway. This position is moral, practical, and probably in agreement with the vast majority of Americans.

This ad's dishonesty is not the slippery shades-of-gray variety, it is the arrogantly dismissive pants-on-fire variety. If Obama is a caring agent of change, why does he operate like a crass political thug?

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Obama's Lies: Part Three of ?

Last week, Barack Obama began broadcasting a vicious advertisement in four red states, all of which have large Hispanic populations. Over and above the bald-faced lie it is attempting to propagate, the ad employs a foreign language to engage in race-baiting and character defamation.

For those who don’t know, Rush Limbaugh is one of John McCain’s harshest critics and was especially critical of McCain’s support for last year’s immigration bill – the one often described as an amnesty bill. But despite the fact that Limbaugh and McCain could not be farther apart on that issue, the ad seeks to convince non-English-speaking Hispanic voters that they agree on it. Even worse, the ad strongly suggests that Limbaugh and McCain are bigots. Its goal is to make the targeted voters suspect the GOP of being the party of racists.

So what specifically does the ad entail? For starters, it purports to quote Limbaugh by displaying two incomplete sentences wildly out of context. The first is taken from a program in 1993 during which he criticized one of NAFTA’s provisions. What he actually said at the time was: “If you are unskilled and uneducated, your job is going south…If we are going to start rewarding no skills and stupid people, I’m serious, let the unskilled jobs that take absolutely no knowledge whatsoever to do – let stupid and unskilled Mexicans do that work.” However, Obama’s ad only displays the words “stupid and unskilled Mexicans.”

The second quote is lifted from something Limbaugh wrote two years ago, in which he pointed out that Mexico, unlike the U.S., requires immigrants to possess a certain amount of savings before entering the country; requires them to have certain work and language skills before entering; restricts their freedom of speech; restricts their freedom to purchase land; denies them social benefits, etc. At one point he mentioned that Mexico’s laws amount to that nation telling those who immigrate to it: “You’re a foreigner, shut your mouth or get out!” But of course, Obama’s ad only displays the words “shut your mouth or get out!” – and it does so right after displaying the “stupid and unskilled” snippet, so that viewers will think Limbaugh was telling Mexicans to shut up or get out of America.

So Obama’s slander troops went through two decades of Limbaugh’s comments looking for evidence of bigotry, and all they could come up with were two non-bigoted remarks that they needed to misrepresent in order to create the impression they wanted.

And although McCain has spent 26 years in the House and Senate, they apparently could not find a single remark of his that could even be misrepresented to suit their needs...for the next step the ad takes after suggesting that Limbaugh despises Hispanics, is to imply that McCain also despises them, but it does this without even bothering to quote any words that have ever left McCain’s mouth. Instead, it just states that he changed his mind about the immigration bill, leaving Spanish-speaking viewers to conclude that he is in league with Limbaugh – and to conclude that he must be a bigot since Limbaugh said Mexicans are “stupid and unskilled” and that they should shut up or get out.

The problem is, McCain did not change his mind. He remains in favor of the bill and Limbaugh remains against it. McCain’s only change of heart is that he now says he would make border security part of the deal because the American people have expressed that border security is their main concern. So after opening the ad by tossing a net of slander so wide it falls on each end of the Republican spectrum, Obama misstates the positions of two men by alleging they agree on a topic about which they are diametrically opposed.

The fact that this ad is broadcast only in Spanish makes its underhandedness all the more disgraceful. Its target audience is a segment of the population that is especially vulnerable to misinformation and very unlikely to hear any corrections that might be made after the fact. Remember, the states in which it’s running all went red last time: Nevada, New Mexico, Colorado and Florida. If this ad causes just one of those states to go for Obama this time, it will very likely decide the election for all of us.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Obama's Lies: Part Two of ?

When it comes to protecting babies born alive after failed abortions, Barack Obama has been brazenly dishonest about his position.

First, some background: Following Roe v. Wade, such babies – right up to their due date and beyond, so long as they were in the womb when the abortion procedure began – were considered not to have the same rights as other babies. Thus, they were left to die instead of being fed and given medical care and allowed a chance to live. They finally received protection a few years ago when the federal government passed the Born Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA).

Prior to BAIPA, the Illinois state government considered a similar bill in 2001. Called the Induced Infant Liability Act, it would have specifically protected babies born alive after late-term abortions in which labor was induced with the goal of them not surviving through to delivery. Obama, an Illinois state senator at the time, voted against it.

In 2003, the bill (still waiting to become law) was referred to the Illinois Health and Human Services Committee. Obama was that committee’s chairman. Some references say he prevented the bill from coming to a vote; others say it came to a vote, but was defeated with Obama casting the decisive “no.”

Regardless of which 2003 account is technically accurate, Obama has affirmed his opposition to the Induced Infant Liability Act and has acknowledged that he acted to kill it. More than once since becoming a national figure, he has responded to questions about the situation by saying he opposed the bill because it lacked “neutrality language” that would have ensured it had no impact on Roe v. Wade; i.e., he has claimed he wanted to make sure the bill would not protect babies still in the womb.

The problem for Obama is that the bill did contain neutrality language that accomplished exactly what he claims needed to be accomplished. The language was added to the bill when it went to his committee in 2003, specifically to address that concern. As committee chairman, Obama had to know the language was added...or else he was derelict in his duties, especially when you consider how important he says such language was.

Last month, less than 24 hours after Obama said on NBC that his critics were “lying” about this matter, his campaign quietly issued a press release admitting that Obama’s critics were being truthful and Obama was not. But they did so on a Sunday night, when it’s known that nobody watches the news, and the MSM scarcely mentioned it.

It is worth noting that the neutrality language in the Induced Infant Liability Act protected Roe just the same as the neutrality language in the federal BAIPA, which was supported even by the National Abortion Rights Action League. It is also worth noting that the Senate passed BAIPA by a vote of 98-0 and Congress by a vote of 380-15. So it’s hard to imagine how Obama's stance could be called anything other than extreme. No wonder he lied about it.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Obama's Lies: Part One of ?

As I mentioned yesterday, I am writing a series of posts about Barack Obama’s dizzying level of dishonesty. This one is about a new advertisement in which he claims that a John McCain presidency would be bad for women because McCain does not care about the wage gap between men and women. It begins by trumpeting that women make only 77 percent of what men make, plastering the number 77 on your TV screen in giant font.

But you always have to parse the words of politicians, so it is important to notice what they do not say – and in a technical sense, this ad never states that women make 77 percent for doing the same jobs as men. Because it would be so easy to disprove that claim, Obama avoids the “equal work” language at this point in the ad, though it is clear he intends for women to assume a 77-to-100 gap exists for equal work.

If you don’t think that is his intent, you should consider that later on the ad does explicitly (and falsely) state that McCain is against legislation requiring “equal pay for equal work” – it’s just that these words appear far enough away that, by diagramming sentences, Obama can truthfully claim he never said “women are paid 77 cents for every dollar of equal work performed by a man.”

Desperate for evidence that McCain is against equal pay legislation, the ad vaguely cites his opposition to the Fair Pay Restoration Act (FPRA) but makes sure not to inform viewers that the FPRA does not mean what it sounds like it means. Equal pay for equal work is already required by law, and has been for 45 years. All the FPRA would do is change the length of time employees have to sue their employers.

When it comes to figuring out what Obama and McCain personally think about women’s compensation, the best possible way of doing so is available to us: We can simply look up what they pay their own employees. When we do so, we learn that Obama pays women far less than he pays men, and perhaps more telling, we also learn that he pays women far less than McCain pays women.

Specifically, the numbers show the following: 1) on average, Obama pays women 17 percent less than men, while McCain pays women 4 percent more than men; 2) on average, Obama pays women 19 percent less than McCain pays women; 3) just one of Obama’s five highest-paid staffers is a woman, compared to three of McCain’s top five; and 4) just seven of Obama’s twenty highest-paid staffers are women, compared to thirteen of McCain’s top twenty.

If you learned these facts about two men, without knowing their names or hearing any rhetoric about them, which one would you think places more emphasis on women’s income and women’s opportunities?

Friday, September 19, 2008

Culture of Deceit

As long as I can remember, liberals have used slander as a weapon to protect themselves from debate. Rather than explain their ideas, they lie about their opponents, hurling hysterical falsehoods all over the place with such machine-gun rapidity that the opponents are forced to either: 1) rebut the lies, which are so numerous there would be no time left to explain their own ideas; or 2) ignore the lies and explain their ideas, at the risk of having people think the lies are true because they didn’t bother to defend themselves; or 3) as Ann Coulter said, “end up conceding to half the lies simply to focus on the lies of Holocaust-denial proportions.”

In such a deceitful environment it’s hard to believe that one person could stand out as the most deceitful, but with each passing day it’s becoming clear that Barack Obama might be just that person. I’ll be writing about his dishonesty starting tomorrow, but instead of dealing with every issue he lies about in one post I’ll deal with them in a series of installments tackling one at a time. That way I won't have one enormous post that's so long nobody would want to take time to read it. And because I do have a life to live and other interests to pursue, I’m sure I will post about other issues in between some of the installments.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Beware the Posturing

Yesterday, Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy and Merrill Lynch was bought out. Predictably, the Dow responded today by dropping more than 500 points. Even more predictably, a chorus of politicians began calling for government regulation while depicting these firms' downfall as some kind of flaw in capitalism. We should oppose that chorus with all our might, for it is a textbook case of politicians lying through their teeth in order to expand their power at our expense.

According to The Guaradian, the primary cause of Lehman Brothers' and Merrill Lynch's finanical woes is "the unfolding credit crisis." This is a fancy way of saying they are in peril because large numbers of mortgages are going into default. Six months ago the same thing nearly caused Bear Sterns to fail, and less than two weeks ago it led to a taxpayer bail out of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. All of which begs the question: Why are bad mortgages so ubiquitous?

Politicians from both parties, along with their retinue of useful idiots in the MSM, have spent a great deal of time blaming mortgage companies for creating the mess by engaging in "predatory lending." This is nonsense, since even kindergarteners can figure out that when Peter loans Paul money that Paul can't pay back, it is a much worse deal for Peter than it is for Paul.

The truth is that mortgage companies have never been eager to loan money to people without a great deal of confidence those people would hold up their end of the bargain. But politicans mandated that mortgage companies do just that, and even restricted how much interest the mortgage companies could charge.

Of course, the politicians never admitted that they were forcing private businesses into bad deals. Instead, they praised themselves for "helping working families" and for taking action to "correct" the gap in approval rates between black loan applicants and white loan applicants. In other words, they hustled for votes with the mindless fervor of hogs running to the slop trough.

The result was a rash of loans that would not have existed otherwise. Many of them were structured as adjustable-rate or interest-only mortgages, in order to lower the early payments and thereby accomplish the shortsighted goal of increased borrowing that politicans had mandated. And look where we are now!

The bottom line is that by forcing businesses to do things that businesses would never choose to do, government created the credit crisis that is convulsing Wall Street. But politicians never admit their errors, so now they are whitewashing the facts and using Wall Street's unease as an excuse to expand their power and restrict free enterprise. Ronald Reagan's famous quip is just as true today as it was years ago: "Government is not the resolution to our problem; government is the problem"

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Reflections on 9/11

There it stood. Fifty-two months earlier, when America first saw the steel cross standing amidst the ruins of the World Trade Center, I had assumed that rescue workers fashioned it from beams found in the wreckage. I had assumed that was how it came to be a fitting tribute to those who perished on September 11, 2001, and I still thought that when I looked upon the cross in person on a cold January afternoon in 2006. It was not until shortly afterward that I learned the truth: This portion of crossbeam had fallen, as-is, from the upper reaches of the collapsing North Tower and landed upright in the debris.

As I stood at Ground Zero, it was eerily silent despite the fact that America’s largest city was bustling all around me. A gaping hole occupied the spot where the Twin Towers once stood. I looked at the cross and thought I could walk to it and touch it in less than five seconds, were it not for the chain link fence encircling the grounds.

Instead I turned and walked south, to the corner of the property where Liberty Street intersects with Church Street. Looking back to the north, I shifted my gaze from the hole to the street and recalled the images of people leaping hundreds of feet to their bloody deaths on the very pavement which was now before my eyes. How hellishly hot must the temperatures have been, for human beings to choose crushing their bodies to death before knowing the towers were doomed to fall?

I thought of rescue workers proffering aid to others at the very instant more than 100 stories of steel and concrete came crashing down to extinguish their lives.

* * *

Like most Americans, my thoughts about New York over the years had not been wholly positive. The city held poignant symbols of freedom, and hence of the American dream, which was very good. It housed many of the engines of capitalism and birthed some of the best jazz ever played, and those things were also good. Yet it swaggered with arrogance, oozed with moral ambivalence, and was the home of socialites who lived off inherited wealth while attacking the very institutions that made it possible for others to achieve success – and those aspects of the Big Apple were not good.

New York may have been the ultimate ethnic melting pot, but it was shuttered and monochromatic when it came to intellectual matters. How could a city with eight million citizens not have a single conservative? I loved the Statue of Liberty but could never bring myself to root for the Yankees.

Nonetheless, standing at Ground Zero I thought of how all roads seem to meet in this place. Visiting the city in person, walking its sidewalks among its inhabitants, brings a welcome realization that it actually likes the fact it is in the United States. Yes, there was the raw irritation of seeing Che Guevara's mug plastered with praise on a giant window in Times Square – but then I heard the patrons of a subterranean sports bar praise our troops.

The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree was still up two weeks after Christmas, and the walkway to it from Fifth Avenue was lined with tall figures of angels blowing trumpets. Here, Christmas had not been neutered by any transformation to something called Happy Holiday.

One block from Rockefeller Center are the twin spires of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, from whose pulpit the late Cardinal John O’Connor delivered many of the strongest sermons in American history. Though a prominent and uncompromising foe of abortion, he was revered in this city that is considered a hotbed of abortion-on-demand secularism. Standing across the street from Saint Patrick’s, it was hard not to notice the street sign showing that this block of Fifth Avenue is officially designated as Cardinal O’Connor Way.

In the East Village we slurped beers at McSorley’s, an old Irish pub where Abraham Lincoln once quaffed ale after delivering a speech. Small and cramped, it does not appear to have been enlarged or significantly upgraded since Lincoln’s time. When our party of four made it inside, a rough-looking worker with an Irish brogue showed us to a small, thin, wooden table and asked if we wanted “light or dark.” Two of us ordered the former, two the latter, and it must have been two-for-one because he returned carrying eight mugs of beer with no tray. He slammed them onto the table in one theatrical move, and we drank them without ever knowing their brand.

* * *
And finally, at Ground Zero, we were a very short walk from my favorite New York City nexus. Head one block east and you come to Broadway. Turn south for two more blocks and you come to Wall Street’s western terminus, directly across from Trinity Chapel.

We strode onto Trinity’s grounds and wandered through its aged cemetery until we found what we were searching: The grave of Alexander Hamilton, marked by a modest obelisk. At its base someone had laid a bouquet. Amazingly, right beside Hamilton’s grave is that of Robert Fulton, father of the steam engine.

Leaving Trinity, you cross Broadway and start down surprisingly nondescript Wall Street. Just one block onto it, with Trinity’s steeple looming behind you, you come to the site where George Washington took the oath of office as America’s first president.

And across the street from that site sits the New York Stock Exchange. We’ve all seen the images of frantic traders on the exchange floor, and we know the atmosphere inside must be noisy and stressful and chaotic. But viewed from outside, the exchange building is a picture of serenity that is dwarfed by much of its surroundings. American flags fly beneath its facade of Corinthian columns, giving it the appearance of a county courthouse from somewhere in the heartland.

So here, in less than two city blocks, you can walk in the footsteps of at least two Founding Fathers; visit one of their burial sites; visit the grave of one of history’s most prominent inventors; stand at the spot where our republic’s executive branch came into existence, and see the building where more wealth has been created than at any other spot on the planet.

Here, you can feel the heart of freedom beating strong.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Feminism: The Great Fraud

If Sarah Palin was a liberal, feminists would be praising her for showing how a woman can raise a family and run a government at the same time. But she is a conservative, so instead they are attacking her – and for the first time in history, feminists are voicing questions about whether a woman can be there for her kids while having a career.

The reaction to Palin’s nomination demonstrates how dishonest – and dishonorable – the feminist movement has become. But through the years we’ve already had many examples of the movement’s dark side. Consider:

Feminists always say that conservatives don’t like strong women, even though they know very well that every conservative you can think of admires strong women such as Margaret Thatcher, Phyllis Schlafly, and Peggy Noonan.

Feminists rattle on and on about “choice” but never utter the word “abortion,” even though that’s what they’re talking about. They oppose efforts that would require doctors to provide information about alternative options to women who are considering abortion. And far worse, they oppose efforts that would require doctors to educate women about this crucial fact: That later in life, when thoughts turn to what their aborted children might have been like, women who have had abortions experience much higher rates of depression and suicide than women who have not. Can you imagine an interest group being against making sure that patients are properly educated when considering any other surgical procedure?

If feminists actually cared about women's well-being, they would want women to be fully informed before making a choice. And if their only concern about abortion was that women be allowed to choose it whenever they want and for whatever reason they want, there would be no reason to oppose attempts to make sure women are fully informed about it.

However, this is the same feminist movement that shrieks whenever some low-level Republican is accused of infidelity...but which has spent years remaining silent about Bill Clinton's philandering, and which continues to remain silent about the very credible allegation that he raped Juanita Broaddrick.

Fortunately, there are some self-described feminists who actually place women’s interests ahead of their party affiliation, and if you’re interested in what they have to say, go here. But unfortunately, most feminists are nothing more than socialist misanthropes in drag: They care about left wing politics and nothing else.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Palin's Power

Margaret Thatcher once said: “I always cheer up immensely if an attack is particularly wounding, because I think, well, if they attack me personally, it means they have not a single political argument left.”

Sarah Palin should take heart in those words, and the rest of us should remember how true they are, for the liberals' response to her vice presidential nomination has been one personal attack after another.

What we saw in Palin’s speech last night was true conservatism that was unapologetic, unashamed and unafraid. She hit the nail on the head when it came to every major topic: national defense, energy production, taxes, government waste, the sanctity of life, etc. Her jabs at Obama (such as likening her former job of mayor to Obama’s former job of community organizer, "except that you have actual responsibilities") were not only accurate, but delivered with humor and good cheer and not even a hint of bitterness.

For years conservatives have been growing disenchanted with the GOP because of the way its officeholders have gone native after arriving in D.C.: the way those officeholders have lurched leftward, behaved like Democrats, sucked up to hostile media, and failed to stand up for the conservative ideals they espoused while running for office. That is the reason the GOP lost control of Congress and that is the reason Bush’s approval ratings are low – not because Republicans became too conservative, but because Republicans stopped being conservative. Liberal pundits and pols know this, which is why they are frightened of Sarah Palin, which is why they are attacking her.

Palin's speech last night was something we have not seen since the days of Reagan. Conservatives know we have a voice in the party again, and looking at the party's recently drafted platform, we know that voice is strong despite the problems we've had with McCain over the years. With Palin now at center stage in the country’s political discourse, and with her becoming conservatism’s standard-bearer, the future of conservatism is bright regardless of what happens in November.

Monday, September 1, 2008

How Freedom Gets Attacked

Too many Americans take our freedom for granted and have no idea that the vast majority of the world -- if not all of it -- is nowhere near as good a place to live as the United States. Think of free speech, and think of the principle that you are innocent unless proven guilty: These things feel like a given because we grew up with them, yet they are American concepts that exist practically nowhere else, even among our close allies.

Here is an excellent column that shows not only how thankful we should be about living in the United States, but also how our enemies can turn foreign courts into proxy battlefields from which to attack our freedoms the "white collar way." It does such a good job presenting the information that I won't even attempt to summarize it. However, I do implore you to read it. And after you do, I hope you "thank your lucky stars" and make a point to educate your children about America's virtues and why they must be defended in a dangerous world.