Religious Liberty at Grave Risk — “We’re All Catholics Now”

How often have you heard of a church bringing a lawsuit against the President of the United States? It has happened, but certainly not often. This week it was not just any church that brought suit against the Obama administration — it was the Roman Catholic Church no less! I honestly believe that Mr. Obama couldn’t care less if his signature health plan seriously erodes religious liberty in extraordinary ways. I doubt that Mr. Obama wanted to energize religious voters against him, but he has done it.

Photo: Associated Press

Fascinating it is to observe the Obama administration’s trampling of centuries honored religious liberty under the guise of “women’s rights.” The Wall Street Journal carried three excellent articles on this unprecedented move by the Catholic church; one was on the front page of the printed version yesterday — Catholics Sue Over Health Mandate:

The University of Notre Dame, the Archdiocese of New York and 41 other Roman Catholic institutions sued the Obama administration in federal court Monday, the latest push against a requirement in the health-care-overhaul law that employers cover contraception in workers’ health plans.

The lawsuits were brought in a dozen different jurisdictions in the U.S., and plaintiffs included the Catholic University of America and archdioceses serving Dallas, Pittsburgh, St. Louis and Washington, D.C.

“The government…cannot justify its decision to force Notre Dame to provide, pay for, and/or facilitate access to these services in violation of its sincerely held religious beliefs,” Notre Dame’s lawsuit argues. “If the government can force religious institutions to violate their beliefs in such a manner, there is no apparent limit to the government’s power.”

Consider the centuries old traditions of Catholics and their families.

The plaintiffs object to a provision that requires most employers to cover all preventive health services including contraception as part of their insurance policies, without out-of-pocket costs for consumers. Sterilization was one of the methods of birth control included, as was the so-called morning-after pill.
[…]
“We have tried negotiation with the administration and legislation with the Congress—and we’ll keep at it—but there’s still no fix,” said Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. “Time is running out, and our valuable ministries and fundamental rights hang in the balance, so we have to resort to the courts now.”
[…]
“We do not seek to impose our religious beliefs on others; we simply ask that the government not impose its values on the university when those values conflict with our religious teachings,” he said.
[…]
That law says the government can “substantially burden” people in practicing their religion only if it can show that there is a “compelling governmental interest” and that its policy is “the least restrictive means of furthering” that interest.

An Op-Ed piece appeared in yesterday’s Journal as well: Why the Bishops Are Suing the U.S. Government:

Like most Americans, the bishops have long taken for granted the religious freedom that has enabled this nation’s diverse religions to flourish in relative harmony. But over the past year they have become increasingly concerned about the erosion of conscience protections for church-related individuals and institutions. Their top-rated program for assistance to human trafficking victims was denied funding for refusing to provide “the full range of reproductive services,” including abortion. For a time, Catholic Relief Services faced a similar threat to its international relief programs. The bishops fear religious liberty is becoming a second-class right.
[…]
Continued attempts to solve the problem by negotiation produced only an announcement by the Obama administration in February that insurance providers would pay for the contested services. Since many Catholic entities are self-insured and the others pay the premiums, the bishops’ concerns were not alleviated.
[…]
The main goal of the mandate is not, as HHS claimed, to protect women’s health. It is rather a move to conscript religious organizations into a political agenda, forcing them to facilitate and fund services that violate their beliefs, within their own institutions.

The media have implied all along that the dispute is mainly of concern to a Catholic minority with peculiar views about human sexuality. But religious leaders of all faiths have been quick to see that what is involved is a flagrant violation of religious freedom. That’s why former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, a Baptist minister, declared, “We’re all Catholics now.”

More is at stake here than the mission of all churches, including the Catholic Church, to provide social services like health care and education to everyone regardless of creed, and to do so without compromising their beliefs. At the deepest level, we are witnessing an attack on the institutions of civil society that are essential to limited government and are important buffers between the citizen and the all-powerful state.

If religious providers of education, health care and social services are closed down or forced to become tools of administration policy, the government consolidates a monopoly over those essential services. As Cardinal Timothy Dolan, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, put it, we are witnessing an effort to reduce religion to a private activity. “Never before,” he said, “have we faced this kind of challenge to our ability to engage in the public square as people of faith.”

With this week’s lawsuits, the bishops join a growing army of other plaintiffs around the country, Catholic and non-Catholic, who are asking the courts to repel an unprecedented governmental assault on the ability of religious persons and groups to practice their religion without being forced to violate their deepest moral convictions.

A third article in the WSJ was published yesterday as well — Catholics in Court — The religious-liberty lawsuit against ObamaCare is historic:

[…]The nation’s most prominent Catholic institutions are saying that the same federal government they have viewed for decades as an ally in their fight for social justice is now a threat to their religious liberty.

This can’t have been an easy decision, especially because the plaintiffs are hardly founding members of the tea party. They include the Archdioceses of New York and Washington but also Catholic University in Washington, D.C., and even the University of Notre Dame.
[…]
So much for that. The lawsuit signals that far from engaging with “those who disagree,” Mr. Obama has rebuffed Catholic leaders in their attempt to work out a compromise over the Administration’s mandate that all insurance plans offer contraception and sterilization services, including abortifacients. . . .
[…]
The Department of Health and Human Services offered a fig leaf in February, foisting the mandate onto insurance companies rather than religious employers. […] As Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York put it, this so-called “safe habor” effectively gives religious institutions “a year to figure out how to violate [their] consciences.”

The suit charges that the mandate violates the First Amendment’s Free Exercise Clause, as well as the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which requires that the federal government meet a higher legal standard for any law that interferes with religious liberty.
[…]
The real and startling question at issue is whether the entitlement state can pound everything, including religious belief, to its political will. Few previous Administrations would have dared such a high-stakes Constitutional battle, but Mr. Obama’s willfulness reveals the change that is taking place in liberal politics.

Once upon a time the political left viewed Catholics and especially the bishops as their allies in using government to create more equal opportunity and redistribute income. But today’s Democratic Party puts a higher cultural value on sexual politics and expanded reproductive freedom. We trust the courts will instruct the Administration that the Constitution still puts religious liberty first.

“Religious freedom is too sacred a right to be restricted or prohibited in any degree without convincing proof that a legitimate interest of the state is in grave danger.” ~ Frank Murphy

Twitter Follow: @VicLundquist

Romney’s Message of Service vs. Obama’s of Politics

American presidential politics always pit a Republican against a Democrat, but rarely do we see true polar opposites come together to compete as we have in 2012. In my lifetime, the last presidential election I can recall that included distinctly different candidates was the Carter / Reagan election of 1980. In so many interesting ways, this election feels oddly similar to those times.

Barnard College, May 14th -- WSJ

In recent days, Governor Romney and President Obama gave commencement speeches at two different colleges. The speech given by Governor Romney was truly inspiring and one of the best he has ever given. If you have not seen it, you really need to (it really is worth the time). To watch it in its entirety, click here.

Daniel Henninger’s weekly column in The Wall Street Journal yesterday was titled, “A Tale of Two Commencements” — (For Obama, politics is life. For Romney, politics does not define us.)

Henninger perfectly contrasts Obama’s frequent victims message with Romney’s message of optimism, rooted in selfless service.

Liberty University, May 12th

Two days after Mitt Romney delivered the commencement speech at Liberty University, the big evangelical Christian school founded by Jerry Falwell, Barack Obama tutored graduates at Barnard College, the intensely liberal all-women’s school adjacent to Columbia University. As you might guess, the wisdom these two political elders imparted to the Class of 2012 was not the same.
[…]
Barack Obama, by now a master at faux self-deflation, admitted he was pandering: “Now I recognize that’s a cheap applause line when you’re giving a commencement at Barnard.” (Laughter.) He had said the women of this generation will help lead the way. (Applause.)
[…]
The world that Barack Obama conveyed to the women at Barnard is totally, overwhelmingly political. To be sure, there were references to parental joy at the success of children completing college, but virtually every thought in the Obama commencement address—on the accomplishments of the past or a graduate’s goals—was defined by political activity.

He said they are about to grapple with unique challenges, “like whether you’ll be able to earn equal pay for equal work” or “fully control decisions about your own health.”

The role of the citizen in “our democracy” began 225 years ago at the Convention in Philadelphia, which had “flaws,” to wit: “Questions of race and gender were unresolved.” Nonetheless, it “allowed for protest and movements.”

And so: “Don’t accept somebody else’s construction of the way things ought to be. It’s up to you to right wrongs. It’s up to you to point out injustice. It’s up to you to hold the system accountable and sometimes upend it entirely. It’s up to you to stand up and to be heard, to write and to lobby, to march, to organize, to vote.”

Mr. Obama described his own early job as a community organizer: “I wanted to do my part to shape a better world.” He cited the accomplishments of previous generations of young people who “stood up and sat in from Seneca Falls to Selma to Stonewall.” This, Mr. Obama said, is how “we achieved” women’s rights, voting rights, workers’ rights and gay rights.

Barack Obama seems to inhabit a world of history and personal experience in which good people at every turn are held back by individuals or oppressive forces that one only overcomes by personal or public resistance.

Someone in high school told Labor Secretary Hilda Solis she wasn’t college material. Mr. Obama’s grandmother worked for a bank but hit the glass ceiling. And today there are “those who oppose change, those who benefit from an unjust status quo [and] have always bet on the public’s cynicism or the public’s complacency.” He predicts they will lose “this time as well.”

Fair enough. That’s how the world works for Barack Obama, though it strikes me he is telling America’s 22-year-olds that the road ahead is a fairly grim proletarian struggle. Be ready to occupy everything. Where’s the joy in that?

There was less tooth and claw in the Romney speech at Liberty University. In a discussion of the uses of religious freedom, one passage in particular separated Mr. Romney from Barack Obama’s default to mass action. “The great drama of Christianity,” Gov. Romney said, “is not a crowd shot, following the movements of collectives or even nations. The drama is always personal, individual, unfolding in one’s own life.” Out of this, he said, “Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life.”

Progress, he argued, emerges through “conscience in action,” for him “the nation’s greatest force for good.” Mr. Romney referred several times to the idea of personal service. “The call to service,” he said “is one of the fundamental elements of our national character. It has motivated every great movement of conscience that this hopeful, fair-minded country of ours has ever seen.”

For Barack Obama, life is politics. For Mitt Romney, life includes politics; politics, he said, does not define us.

To wage a presidential campaign in our nonstop media age, the man who sees politics as a battering ram may have an edge. But Mitt Romney, with his politics of optimism and personal conscience, could be onto something that will serve him well.

“Today, thanks to what you have gained here, you leave Liberty with conviction and confidence as your armor. You know what you believe. You know who you are. And you know Whom you will serve. Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence, but it will be among the most prized qualities from your education here. Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning.” ~ Mitt Romney, Liberty University, May 12, 2022

Mitt Romney’s Liberty University Commencement Address

Governor Mitt Romney's Commencement Address (FOX)


Governor Romney delivered a powerful commencement address to the graduating students of evangelical Christian Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia earlier today. This speech was historic for many reasons.

Before Governor Romney spoke, Liberty University Chancellor Jerry Falwell Jr. addressed the commencement day crowd of approximately 34,000. He reminded the audience that his father, the late Reverend Jerry Falwell, founded the university in 1971 to be for evangelical Christians “what Notre Dame is to young Catholics and Brigham Young is to young Mormons.”

The introduction for Governor Romney begins at 25:27 with remarks from Chancellor Falwell and Mark DeMoss, Chairman of Liberty University. (You don’t want to skip the intros!):

If that video gives you problems, click here to watch the address on Youtube.

By Mitt Romney

For the graduates, this moment marks a clear ending and a clear beginning. The task set before you four years ago is now completed in full. To the class of 2012: Well done, and congratulations.

Some of you may have taken a little longer than four years to complete your studies. One graduate has said that he completed his degree in only two terms: Clinton’s and Bush’s.

In some ways, it is fitting that I share this distinction with Truett Cathy. The Romney campaign comes to a sudden stop when we spot a Chick-fil-A. Your chicken sandwiches were our comfort food through the primary season, and there were days that we needed a lot of comforting. So, Truett, thank you and congratulations on your well-deserved honor today.

There are some people here who are even more pleased than the graduates. Those would be the parents. Their years of prayers, devotion, and investment have added up to this joyful achievement. And with credit to Congressman Dick Armey: The American Dream is not owning your own home, it is getting your kids out of the home you own.

Lately, I’ve found myself thinking about life in four-year stretches. And let’s just say that not everybody has achieved as much in these last four years as you have.

That’s a theme for another day. But two observations. First, even though job opportunities are scarce in this economy, it is not for nothing that you have spent this time preparing. Jerry Falwell, Senior, long ago observed that “You do not determine a man’s greatness by his talent or wealth, as the world does, but rather by what it takes to discourage him.” America needs your skill and talent. If we take the right course, we will see a resurgence in the American economy that will surprise the world, and that will open new doors of opportunity for those who are prepared as you are.

Of course, what the next four years might hold for me is yet to be determined. But I will say that things are looking up, and I take your kind hospitality today as a sign of good things to come.

I consider it a great life honor to address you today. Your generosity of spirit humbles me. The welcoming spirit of Liberty is a tribute to the gracious Christian example of your founder.

In his 73 years of life, Dr. Falwell left a big mark. For nearly five decades he shared that walk with his good wife Macel. It’s wonderful to see her today. The calling Jerry answered was not an easy one. Today we remember him as a courageous and big-hearted minister of the Gospel who never feared an argument, and never hated an adversary. Jerry deserves the tribute he would have treasured most, as a cheerful, confident champion for Christ.

I will always remember his cheerful good humor and selflessness. Several years ago, in my home, my wife and I were posing for a picture together with him. We wanted him to be in the center of the photo, but he insisted that Ann be in the middle, with he and I on the sides. He explained, by pointing to me and himself, “You see, Christ died between two thieves.”

Maybe the most confident step Jerry ever took was to open the doors of this school 41 years ago.

He believed that Liberty might become one of the most respected Christian universities anywhere on earth. And so it is today.

He believed, even when the first graduating class consisted of 13 students, that year after year young Christians would be drawn to such a university in ever-greater numbers. And here you are.

Today, thanks to what you have gained here, you leave Liberty with conviction and confidence as your armor. You know what you believe. You know who you are. And you know Whom you will serve. Not all colleges instill that kind of confidence, but it will be among the most prized qualities from your education here. Moral certainty, clear standards, and a commitment to spiritual ideals will set you apart in a world that searches for meaning.

That said, your values will not always be the object of public admiration. In fact, the more you live by your beliefs, the more you will endure the censure of the world. Christianity is not the faith of the complacent, the comfortable or of the timid. It demands and creates heroic souls like Wesley, Wilberforce, Bonhoeffer, John Paul the Second, and Billy Graham. Each showed, in their own way, the relentless and powerful influence of the message of Jesus Christ. May that be your guide.

You enter a world with civilizations and economies that are far from equal. Harvard historian David Landes devoted his lifelong study to understanding why some civilizations rise, and why others falter. His conclusion: Culture makes all the difference. Not natural resources, not geography, but what people believe and value. Central to America’s rise to global leadership is our Judeo-Christian tradition, with its vision of the goodness and possibilities of every life.

The American culture promotes personal responsibility, the dignity of work, the value of education, the merit of service, devotion to a purpose greater than self, and, at the foundation, the pre-eminence of the family.

The power of these values is evidenced by a Brookings Institution study that Senator Rick Santorum brought to my attention. For those who graduate from high school, get a full-time job, and marry before they have their first child, the probability that they will be poor is 2%. But, if those things are absent, 76% will be poor. Culture matters.

As fundamental as these principles are, they may become topics of democratic debate. So it is today with the enduring institution of marriage. Marriage is a relationship between one man and one woman.

The protection of religious freedom has also become a matter of debate. It strikes me as odd that the free exercise of religious faith is sometimes treated as a problem, something America is stuck with instead of blessed with. Perhaps religious conscience upsets the designs of those who feel that the highest wisdom and authority comes from government.

But from the beginning, this nation trusted in God, not man. Religious liberty is the first freedom in our Constitution. And whether the cause is justice for the persecuted, compassion for the needy and the sick, or mercy for the child waiting to be born, there is no greater force for good in the nation than Christian conscience in action.

Religious freedom opens a door for Americans that is closed to too many others around the world. But whether we walk through that door, and what we do with our lives after we do, is up to us.

Someone once observed that the great drama of Christianity is not a crowd shot, following the movements of collectives or even nations. The drama is always personal, individual, unfolding in one’s own life. We’re not alone in sensing this. Men and women of every faith, and good people with none at all, sincerely strive to do right and lead a purpose-driven life.

And, in the way of lessons learned, by hitting the mark or by falling short, I can tell you this much for sure.

All that you have heard here at Liberty University – about trusting in God and in His purpose for each of us-makes for more than a good sermon. It makes for a good life. So many things compete for our attention and devotion. That doesn’t stop as you get older. We are all prone, at various turns, to treat the trivial things as all-important, the all-important things as trivial, and little by little lose sight of the one thing that endures forever.

No person I have ever met, not even the most righteous or pure of heart, has gone without those times when faith recedes in the busy-ness of life. It’s normal, and sometimes even the smallest glimpses of the Lord’s work in our lives can reawaken our hearts. They bring us back to ourselves – and, better still, to something far greater than ourselves.

What we have, what we wish we had – ambitions fulfilled, ambitions disappointed … investments won, investments lost … elections won, elections lost – these things may occupy our attention, but they do not define us. And each of them is subject to the vagaries and serendipities of life. Our relationship with our Maker, however, depends on none of this. It is entirely in our control, for He is always at the door, and knocks for us. Our worldly successes cannot be guaranteed, but our ability to achieve spiritual success is entirely up to us, thanks to the grace of God. The best advice I know is to give those worldly things your best but never your all, reserving the ultimate hope for the only one who can grant it.

Many a preacher has advised the same, but few as memorably as Martin Luther King, Jr. “As a young man,” he said, “with most of my life ahead of me, I decided early to give my life to something eternal and absolute. Not to these little gods that are here today and gone tomorrow. But to God who is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”

In this life, the commitments that come closest to forever are those of family.

My Dad, George Romney, was a CEO, a governor, and a member of the President’s Cabinet. My wife Ann asked him once, “What was your greatest accomplishment?” Without a moment’s pause, he said, “Raising our four kids.”

Ann and I feel the same way about our family. I have never once regretted missing a business opportunity so that I could be with my children and grandchildren. Among the things in life that can be put off, being there when it matters most isn’t one of them.

As C.S. Lewis is said to have remarked, “The home is the ultimate career. All other careers exist for one purpose, and that is to support the ultimate career.”

Promotions often mark the high points in a career, and I hope I haven’t seen my last. But sometimes the high points come in unexpected ways. I was asked to help rescue the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City.

I’m embarrassed now to recall that when this opportunity was first presented to me, I dismissed it out of hand. I was busy, I was doing well, and, by the way, my lack of athletic prowess did not make the Olympics a logical step. In fact, after I had accepted the position, my oldest son called me and said, “Dad, I’ve spoken to the brothers. We saw the paper this morning. We want you to know there’s not a circumstance we could have conceived of that would put you on the front page of the sports section.”

The Olympics were not a logical choice, but it was one of the best and most fulfilling choices of my life. Opportunities for you to serve in meaningful ways may come at inconvenient times, but that will make them all the more precious.

People of different faiths, like yours and mine, sometimes wonder where we can meet in common purpose, when there are so many differences in creed and theology. Surely the answer is that we can meet in service, in shared moral convictions about our nation stemming from a common worldview. The best case for this is always the example of Christian men and women working and witnessing to carry God’s love into every life – people like the late Chuck Colson.

Not long ago, Chuck recounted a story from his days just after leaving prison. He was assured by people of influence that, even with a prison record, a man with his connections and experience could still live very comfortably. They would make some calls, get Chuck situated, and set him up once again as an important man. His choice at that crossroads would make him, instead, a great man.

The call to service is one of the fundamental elements of our national character. It has motivated every great movement of conscience that this hopeful, fair-minded country of ours has ever seen. Sometimes, as Dr. Viktor Frankl observed in a book for the ages, it is not a matter of what we are asking of life, but rather what life is asking of us. How often the answer to our own troubles is to help others with theirs.

In all of these things – faith, family, work, and service –the choices we make as Americans are, in other places, not choices at all. For so many on this earth, life is filled with orders, not options, right down to where they live, the work they do, and how many children the state will permit them to have. All the more reason to be grateful, this and every day, that we live in America, where the talents God gave us may be used in freedom.

At this great Christian institution, you have all learned a thing or two about these gifts and the good purposes they can serve. They are yours to have and yours to share. Sometimes, your Liberty education will set you apart, and always it will help direct your path. And as you now leave, and make for new places near and far, I hope for each one of you that your path will be long and life will be kind.

The ideals that brought you here … the wisdom you gained here … and the friends you found here – may these blessings be with you always, wherever you go.

Thank you all, and God bless you.

Photo - Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

Governor Romney’s speech built an inter-faith bridge:

Some students, such as J.D. Wilkinson, a worship and music studies major from Springfield, Massachusetts, told CNN that they liked that Romney spoke out on the same-sex marriage issue.

“This school has always been about being not politically correct, just saying it, just telling the truth how it is and I thought he did that,” Wilkinson said. “I think that’s fresh in today’s world and I think that’s needed.”

Another, Michael Kildare, said he doesn’t identify strongly with a particular political party but is open to hearing more about Romney after today’s speech. Kildare, who is from Orlando, Florida, will return to his home city to take a job as a computer technician.

I was kind of skeptical at first but he definitely said some things that I have to take into consideration,” he said. “He’s definitely a good candidate for the presidency and I definitely look forward to his other speeches and other campaign ideas.

(emphasis added)

Congratulations and best wishes to the graduates!


“Forward, what, over the cliff?”

Mr. Obama’s campaign recently announced its new slogan: “Forward”

Governor Romney asked the rhetorical question: “Forward, what, over the cliff?”

Credit: Getty Images

Yesterday’s WSJ published Daniel Henniger’s weekly column titled, “Memo to the Youth Vote” that challenges the notion there is anything progressive or forward benefiting the young voter.

Why would anyone under the age of 25 vote for Barack Obama in November?

Mr. Obama resumed his College Tour 2012 last week, visiting campuses in Iowa, North Carolina and Colorado for the purpose of replicating his 66% youth-vote total from 2008.

In 2008, he reeled them in with promises of hope and change. In 2012 he’s offering cash, promising to protect 3.4% interest on their college loans. We’re about to find out if it’s true that when you’re young, hope springs eternal.

Put differently, the past three years have been a Peter Pan presidency for Peter Pan voters. If you’re going to college, it’s good to vote for Barack Obama again, so long as you’ll never have to turn 23. But for many young Americans, there will be no Tinker Bell showing them how to land a job with lovely thoughts.

The youth unemployment rate for Americans has hovered around 16%. Anecdotal stories abound of college graduates living in the bedroom they grew up in, jobless. But hey, the president they voted for as freshmen is promising 3.4% interest on the average $25,000 or so of college debt they owe four years later.
[…]
Last May, the Nobel laureate economist Robert Lucas, an expert on economic growth, put together a lecture on the economy because so many people asked him why the U.S. economy’s post-recession growth rate was struggling around 2%.

He noted that in the years after World War II, both the U.S. and Europe grew at an annual rate of about 3%. But in the mid-1970s, Western Europe dropped below that growth rate and stayed there, creating a 20% to 40% gap in income levels between Europe and the U.S. Prof. Lucas suggested this had to do with the cost of maintaining the social-welfare commitments Europe accumulated in the postwar years.

He then looked at the levels of U.S. social-welfare commitments, including the new Obama health-care entitlement, and ended with a simple observation: “Is it possible that by imitating European policies on labor markets, welfare and taxes, the U.S. has chosen a new, lower GDP trend? If so, it may be that the weak recovery we have had so far is all the recovery we will get.”
[…]
For new American college graduates, there is an alternative to that job you thought you’d have: Join a union.

If your new goal in life is to join the United Auto Workers (saved by Mr. Obama with your parents’ taxes) or work for a government agency somewhere for the next 40 years, the president is your candidate. The modern Democratic Party from top to bottom is the party of all unions, hardly different than the European political parties whose union members and unemployed college graduates filled city squares Tuesday in forlorn May Day demonstrations. If a career inside an American union is what it’s all about, then an Obama vote (“Forward”) is a no-brainer.

But aside from the aspiring union lifers, what’s in an Obama vote for the rest of the youth vote? The U.S. annualized growth rate in the first quarter this year was 2.2%. Perhaps the life raft is that provision in ObamaCare that extends health-insurance coverage to children living at home until the age of 26. If Barack Obama wins another four years, you may need it.

By the way, Henninger’s social-welfare argument above might have a lot more truth to it when considering what many are saying is behind Mr. Obama’s one line slogan. Consider these three: Here, here, and here. Would any President of the United States employ a subliminal message such as these from history? Am I naive to think not?

Nah. This is what I think of Mr. Obama’s new slogan:

By Bill Fortune

Mr. Obama is no Commander in Chief — He is a Weak Man of Character for Exploiting the SEALs

Very few things in life ever make me angry. Messrs. Obama, Biden, and Clinton have crossed the line in their gloating and bragging and have gotten my attention.

The issue of President Obama and Vice President Biden boasting of the decision to kill Bin Laden is unbecoming any leader, gentleman, or certainly a President of the United States. I could not let this one go by. Back in February, I wrote this piece about how the Navy SEALs were upset that Mr. Obama would allow leaking of classified information.

Recent news exposes what I consider to be weakness of character of Mr. Obama as he continues to brag about this event while at the same time criticizing Gov. Romney by stating he would not have taken the same action. While Mr. Obama deserves credit for making the decision certainly, he and Governor Romney are miles apart in one very important way. I wish I could shout this from the rooftops! Once a President Romney were to make such a decision, he would NEVER boast about it and he would NEVER create a political television commercial about it. NEVER!

Anybody who has been around or known any person that has served in the armed forces, in any leadership position, knows that they never brag about combat missions (in part because human beings die as a result). And yet our Commander in Chief is doing exactly that! In my opinion, his language and actions this week are absolutely deplorable!

UPDATE: Outstanding WSJ article: Michael Mukasey: Obama and the bin Laden Bragging RightsIt’s hard to imagine Lincoln or Eisenhower claiming such credit for the heroic actions of others.

Consider this opinion from Breitbart. The article refers to a memo by Panetta and many have referred to Obama’s decision as a “gutsy” call — certainly that is the case in the Clinton narrated ad. The Breitbart article is worth reading in its entirety. Here is an excerpt:

Only the memo doesn’t show a gutsy call. It doesn’t show a president willing to take the blame for a mission gone wrong. It shows a CYA maneuver by the White House.

The memo puts all control in the hands of Admiral McRaven – the “timing, operational decision making and control” are all up to McRaven. So the notion that Obama and his team were walking through every stage of the operation is incorrect. The hero here was McRaven, not Obama. And had the mission gone wrong, McRaven surely would have been thrown under the bus.

The memo is crystal clear on that point. It says that the decision has been made based solely on the “risk profile presented to the President.” If any other risks — no matter how minute — arose, they were “to be brought back to the President for his consideration.” This is ludicrous. It is wiggle room. It was Obama’s way of carving out space for himself in case the mission went bad. If it did, he’d say that there were additional risks of which he hadn’t been informed; he’d been kept in the dark by his military leaders.

Finally, the memo is unclear on just what the mission is. Was it to capture Bin Laden or to kill him? The White House itself was unable to decide what the mission was in the hours after the Bin Laden kill, and actually switched its language. The memo shows why: McRaven was instructed to “get” Bin Laden, whatever that meant.

President Obama made the right call to give the green light to the mission. But he did it in a way that he could shift the blame if things went wrong. Typical Obama. And typical of him to claim full credit for it, when he didn’t do anything but give a vague nod, while putting his top military officials at risk of taking the hit in case of a bad turn.

MailOnline obtained the opinions of Navy SEALs regarding Obama’s using their mission for political gain — consider:

Serving and former US Navy SEALs have slammed President Barack Obama for taking the credit for killing Osama bin Laden and accused him of using Special Forces operators as ‘ammunition’ for his re-election campaign.

The SEALs spoke out to MailOnline after the Obama campaign released an ad entitled ‘One Chance’.
[…]
Mr Obama used a news conference today to trumpet his personal role and imply that his Republican opponent Mr Romney, who in 2008 expressed reservations about the wisdom of sending troops into Pakistan, would have let bin Laden live.
[…]
Ryan Zinke, a former Commander in the US Navy who spent 23 years as a SEAL and led a SEAL Team 6 assault unit, said: ‘The decision was a no brainer. I applaud him for making it but I would not overly pat myself on the back for making the right call.

Even Arianna Huffington ripped Mr. Obama!

Mr Obama has faced criticism even from allies about his decision to make a campaign ad about the bin Laden raid. Arianna Huffington, an outspoken liberal who runs the left-leaning Huffington Post website, roundly condemned it.

She told CBS: ‘We should celebrate the fact that they did such a great job. It’s one thing to have an NBC special from the Situation Room… all that to me is perfectly legitimate, but to turn it into a campaign ad is one of the most despicable things you can do.’
[…]

The article continues:

‘In years to come there is going to be information that will come out that Obama was not the man who made the call. He can say he did and the people who really know what happened are inside the Pentagon, are in the military and the military isn’t allowed to speak out against the commander-in-chief so his secret is safe.’
[…]
A former intelligence official who was serving in the US government when bin Laden was killed said that the Obama administration knew about the al-Qaeda leader’s whereabouts in October 2010 but delayed taking action and risked letting him escape.

‘In the end, Obama was forced to make a decision and do it. He knew that if he didn’t do it the political risks in not taking action were huge. Mitt Romney would have made the call but he would have made it earlier — as would George W. Bush.’
[…]
It was ‘stretching a little much’ for Mr Obama to suggest only he would have made the decision. ‘I personally I don’t think Romney would have any problem making tough decisions. He got a very accomplished record of making decision as a business professional.
[…]
Clint Bruce, who gave up the chance of an NFL career to serve as a SEAL officer before retiring as a lieutenant after nine years, said: ‘We were extremely surprised and discouraged by the publicity because it compromises the ability of those guys to operate.

[emphasis added throughout]

Frankly, I am angry. President Obama is accurately credited for the decision he made. But for him to effectively glory in the mission by exploiting the true heroes who made it happen — and to politicize the mission — is beyond the pale. His extremely poor judgment in constantly seeking political gain, using a military operation, speaks volumes of his utter lack of decency while at the same time revealing his character.

Obama, Biden, and Clinton are weak men for using our service men and women in this way.

Governor Mitt Romney is Keeping President Obama Off Balance

REVIEW & OUTLOOK

By all assessments, Governor Romney has surprised all political experts. The general election officially started last Tuesday and just one month ago, politicos of all stripes were predicting a Mt. Everest campaign for Governor Romney because of how he had been “damaged” from the primary battles. And guess what? All credible polls have Mr. Obama and Governor Romney at dead even odds — those surveying “likely voters” have Romney ahead. For perspective, at this exact point in the campaign in 1980, Reagan trailed President Carter by eight points.

So? The point is that Governor Romney is doing a lot right! As we have said many times here at MRC, Governor Romney is an outstanding strategist and planner. He has surrounded himself with some of the best advisers any candidate could hope for. Even so, we will see journalists, politicos, pundits, and editorial boards attempt to shape or influence his campaign strategy and message right up to the November election. They are Americans too and they want what’s best for our nation as well.

The following from the WSJ is one example. I have read many other articles in which Romney advisers have indicated he will be outlining key policy positions as the campaign progresses, so these suggestions below were internalized long ago. It seems obvious to me that one of Gov. Romney’s strategies is to keep Mr. Obama off balance, of which he is doing a masterful job!

Last Thursday, The Wall Street Journal editorial board published their central opinion piece titled, “The Romney Opportunity — Running on biography and the economy won’t be enough.” I recommend reading the entire piece by clicking the link just above.

With Newt Gingrich finally leaving the GOP Presidential race, Mitt Romney is now closer to realizing the ambition he has so long pursued: He has an even-money chance to become America’s 45th President. He’s more likely to fulfill that ambition if he overcomes his cautious nature and runs a campaign that is equal to America’s current political moment.

***
This will not be the instinct of Mr. Romney or his close-knit group of advisers. Looking at the polls, they see a nearly even race, with President Obama below 50% despite the beating Mr. Romney took in the primaries.

The temptation will be to assume the public has decided to fire the incumbent and so run a campaign to become the safe alternative. Take no policy risk, stress Mr. Romney’s biography, his attractive family and the seven habits of highly effective businessmen, and then hammer away on the economy.
[…]
On the economy in particular, such a larger argument would fit the country’s current mood. The public’s anxiety isn’t merely about the failures of the last three years, as important as it is for Mr. Romney to score this Administration for its failed stimulus, crony capitalism, hyperregulation, soaring debt and ObamaCare.

Americans are more deeply worried than at any time since the 1970s about their country’s long-term prospects. Why aren’t middle-class incomes rising? Why are nonmilitary public institutions failing—from K-12 education to entitlements?

Mr. Obama understands these anxieties, even if he has no new answer for them. So his diversionary re-election strategy will be a combination of class warfare, more government subsidies (free student loans!), and personal attacks on Mr. Romney for being wealthy. Mr. Romney will need allies who can rebut these attacks.

But he’ll find it easier to defeat Mr. Obama’s argument—even to transcend it—if he offers his own economic narrative that reaches back to the mistakes of the Bush Administration to explain how we got here and how he can get us out. Politically, this will help shield Mr. Romney from Mr. Obama’s inevitable attempt to link the Republican to the Bush era. Such a critique also has the advantage of being true.

Before Mr. Obama’s stimulus, Mr. Bush joined with Nancy Pelosi and Larry Summers on the blunder of “targeted, temporary” tax cuts. Mr. Bush began playing business favorites for ethanol and green energy fads. Republicans in Congress spent like Democrats and protected Fannie Mae and the housing lobby. And Mr. Bush and most Republicans embraced an easy-money Federal Reserve that favored Wall Street and asset bubbles at the expense of real middle-class incomes.

The editorial says some nice things about last week’s speech by Governor Romney.

But the speech was policy-free. To be credible, a reform agenda has to have some reform substance.
[…]
He has already endorsed enough of Mr. Ryan’s premium-support plan to have to defend it, and Mr. Obama is vulnerable with his Medicare cuts and unaccountable rationing board that are part of ObamaCare. Mr. Romney won’t win the election on Medicare, but even a draw will be a political victory. Leading on the debate will show voters he is willing to take on difficult issues and give him a reform mandate if he wins.

***
One of Mr. Romney’s trickiest challenges will be how to handle Mr. Obama’s, er, veracity. More than any President we’ve seen, this incumbent is willing to say things that aren’t in the area code of the truth. Thus he gives himself credit for the natural gas drilling boom, the deficits are still Mr. Bush’s fault, Mr. Obama has never raised taxes, and “green jobs” in his dream economy are blooming by the millions.

Mr. Romney can’t let the President get away with this, or Mr. Obama will conjure a vision of unreality that enough voters might believe. The challenger has to find a way to mock the mirage of an “economy built to last” without sounding arch or personal. He needs his version of Reagan’s “there he goes again.”

For all of his challenges, the most important political news is that Mr. Romney has a fighting chance to win. The incumbent’s accomplishments are unpopular and the economy is failing average Americans. To win the GOP nomination, Mr. Romney has shown reserves of tenacity and discipline. To win the White House, he’ll need to show a larger vision and the nerve to pursue it.

Veepstakes Speculation is Complete Entertainment

For about a month, I have been intending to write this piece but didn’t have the courage to write it until today; not until somebody smarter than I wrote what I have been wanting to.

Credit: The Economist

I acknowledge right up front that I will likely anger some people that read this. That is not my intent at all. There is no question that the choice of a vice president by Governor Romney is very important for America as that person could become president in a heartbeat. Absolutely! However, I argue here that there is almost no value whatsoever in publicly speculating and debating who that person will be, many months ahead of when Governor Romney will make the decision. It is a well accepted truth that the selection of a veep has little to no impact in a presidential contest, except in the negative (remember unprepared Palin?).

My assertion is that all public discussion and debate of who Governor Romney’s choice in a running mate will be is a complete and utter waste of time. Especially when considering the many hours a week devoted to this one topic in radio and television talk shows. That said, I believe there are two exceptions to this assertion, both of which I consider to be of minimal value. The two exceptions are:

  1. Entertainment Value
  2. Potential Candidate Response Value

First — the entertainment value. This is the main reason we see all the public speculation and discussion. We all enjoy speculating about everything. It is fun to think about who might be catapulted from a given strata to number two! I love the speculation myself. Heck, Nate developed our site’s “Veep Madness” awhile back — It is brilliant and fun! I see all the public speculation about the veep choice much like using Instagram (I just got it on my Droid). It is fun, a novelty, and a complete waste of time, except for the entertainment value. It is much like watching Modern Family. There is no value in spending time watching Modern Family except being with those you love and to laugh, right?

Second — the potential candidate response value. Since so many possible veep candidates are asked the question, one of them might say something really stupid like, “Are you kidding me? I would love to be picked as vice president by Mitt…I think I am the best person in all of America for that position!” So, there is a little value in the public discussion on this point — very little and that value is as a negative determinant.

Do you trust Governor Romney’s judgment in this decision? I do. What person alive has better analytic skills than Governor Romney? What about judgment? Exactly. Do you think the person he ultimately chooses will be properly vetted? Okay then. What value is there in all the public debate and speculation? There is none. It is pure entertainment value. That’s it. Am I right? Am I wrong?

Look what Karl Rove wrote in the every first three paragraphs of his latest Wall Street Journal opinion piece:

We’ve entered the silly season when vast numbers of words will be expended on who Mitt Romney’s vice presidential running mate should be. Since the actual announcement is likely to be made shortly before the Aug. 31 GOP convention, we’ll have to endure three-and-a-half months of pundits handicapping prospects.

This exercise is largely useless. Who thought at this point in 2000 that the vice-presidential nominees would be Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman, or in 2008 Sarah Palin and Joe Biden?

The person who matters most in this decision, Mr. Romney, appears to be approaching it with appropriate seriousness, appointing a longtime trusted aide, Beth Myers, to vet possible running mates.

[emphasis added]

I think Rove is wrong on one point. The exercise is not entirely “useless.” There is entertainment value, right? I mean the sitcom Modern Family makes a lot of money and Instagram is worth $1 billion — so there is value — its not entirely useless! I love to disagree with Karl Rove! Here are two of my favorite lines from Rove’s Op-Ed:

Having played a role in this process, I know that if done well this will be a political proctology exam for each individual considered. […] This is not an activity for the squeamish or reticent.

Entertaining! And to the point of having almost no influence whether a presidential candidate will win or lose the election?

Running mates haven’t decided an election in more than a half-century. For example, research by Bernard Grofman and Reuben Kline, political scientists at the University of California, Irvine, suggests that the net impact of the vice-presidential picks in 2008 was roughly one-half of one point and is generally less than one percentage point. Presidential elections are rarely that close.

So why do we all spend hours and hours speculating on something of no value? His last sentence wraps the piece well: Click here to continue reading

Obama and Axelrod Are Losing It — Romney Driving

Prediction: Mr. Obama or Mr. Axelrod will lose their temper in public before November 6th. Axelrod came this close to blowing a gasket at minute 5:45. And this is Mr. Obama’s best guy! Watch his eyes, body language, stuttering, interrupting Wallace, talking over him, raising his voice (FOX video). Obama’s team is scared (check minute 8:20 — Classic!). Related prediction: Obama will fire Axelrod before November 6th. BTW, Axelrod was interrupting Candy Crowley on her show this morning because he did not like the nature of her questions.

Evidence abounds that Mr. Obama and team are scared. His fear, and that of his surrounding team, was described well a week ago by David Parker in his Op-Ed “Obama’s Rage!” Mr. Obama is getting good marks by voters currently for being a nice guy — “the kind of guy you could see yourself sitting down to have a beer with” as they say. Just what we need — a good ole boy that really understands the average guy!

What about decisive leadership and accomplishment? Are we not yet “over it” when it comes to Mr. Obama’s blaming others and taking credit for the successes of others? I am over it! There are lots of people like Obama in business; they never last. They are the talkers, not the doers. They can talk a good line but can rarely execute.

I strongly believe that David Parker is right; Obama is scared. Since the 2008 election cycle, the Democrat party has lost voters to independents and Republicans. Just yesterday, a U.S. Senator publicly stated he’s not sure he can vote for Mr. Obama for president (many Democrats have shifted their support to Gov. Romney as evidenced in part here). And here.

Numerous sources are reporting “anemic” fundraising by the Obama camp. To be certain, they are in a better position financially than the Romney campaign, primarily due to the fact that Mr. Obama had no primary challengers against whom to defend. However, Obama’s fundraising efforts are far behind projections of both the Democrat and Republican political leaders. The Obama campaign is now asking Pres. Clinton to help out (WSJ):

Mr. Clinton is likely to assist the super PAC, called Priorities USA Action, whose anemic fundraising total thus far has unnerved the Obama campaign and senior Democrats.
[…]
“They’re asking for him to do anything,” the Clinton friend said. “Whatever he’s willing to do—to the extent they can get people in a room with him.”

The New York Times is also reporting that the Obama campaign is scrambling to raise more money.

From Wall Street to Hollywood, from doctors and lawyers, the traditional big sources of campaign cash are not delivering for the Obama campaign as they did four years ago. The falloff has left his fund-raising totals running behind where they were at the same point in 2008 — though well ahead of Mr. Romney’s — and has induced growing concern among aides and supporters as they confront the prospect that Republicans and their “super PAC” allies will hold a substantial advantage this fall.
[…]
“They clearly are feeling the pressure,” said one major Obama fund-raiser, who asked for anonymity to characterize his conversations with campaign officials.

Two days ago, Toby Harden wrote a compelling piece titled, “Barack Obama’s re-election bid is already in deep trouble”

Obama will keep trying to talk about something, anything other than the economy — contraception and dogs being the most recent examples — but Romney has the relatively straightforward task of being disciplined enough to talk relentlessly about jobs and the economy.

Certainly, Romney will never win the “guy you’d like to have a beer with” test, as Bush did in 2000. But 2012 will not be about that — there’s more at stake than in 2000. And as Nate Silver argues, Romney has room to grow and favourability ratings at this stage are unreliable indicators for November.
[…]
Even without factoring in the likely negative political impact of, say, Obamacare being struck down by the Supreme Court in June, Obama’s re-election bid is already in deep trouble.

Only a fool would underestimate Obama’s campaign machine, his ability to raise money and the fact that he remains personally likeable to a majority of Americans despite the state of the country. Anyone who argues at this stage that Obama is doomed to defeat is deluding themselves.

But the reality of this campaign is that it is likely to be brutal, very close — and could well result in Mitt Romney becoming the 45th President of the United States next January 20th.

[emphasis added in several places above]

Obama is looking in all corners for votes. He has decided to pick up the frequency of appearance on comedy shows in the hopes of appealing to young voters. See article in the Daily News here.

One simple method to measure the progress or success of a major political campaign is to simply observe which campaign is on the defensive most often. The candidate and his team that is on defense most is failing, no matter what the polls say at the moment. Governor Romney knows this well and it is one reason he has been all over Obama’s record.

Some pundits have criticized Governor Romney lately for not communicating his plans more specifically and how he would govern as president. There is plenty of time for that. Right now, each side is in the process of defining the contest and defining the other guy. In my opinion, Governor Romney is doing a far better job of defining Mr. Obama. Governor Romney is in the process of backing Mr. Obama into a corner. He is very effective at this.

As Mr. Obama becomes more and more cornered, he becomes more and more dangerous and he will lash out. When he does, we will see the real man.

One big reason we need President Romney to take over in January 2013:

Artwork by Michael Ramirez

Mitt Romney to Address 48,000 Evangelicals at Liberty University in May

Among friends and family members, discussions will often turn to the presidential campaigns. It is well known that Governor Romney has a strong, optimistic vision and message for America, contrasted with Mr. Obama’s aversion to any discussion of his own record as president (for example, when was the last time he touted his signature legislative “victory” — ObamaSnare?). His rhetoric is mostly negative and serious.

It seems the question always arises, “What do you think the Democrats are going to do to attack Romney?” One answer I hear almost every time goes something like, “Oh, there is no question the Democrats are going to make this one of the nastiest presidential elections of all time! They are going to look for every angle they can to attack Governor Romney’s Christian faith.” Anybody who follows the writings of our friends at Evangelicals for Mitt (“EFM”) and Article VI Blog know these attacks began in earnest about five years ago and really never abated (see John Schroeder’s excellent piece yesterday).

Liberty University

Though the DNC has said, “Attacking a candidate’s religion is out of bounds,” they know such a statement is like an open invitation to the liberal mainstream media and Democrats of all stripes do exactly the opposite. The latest example is the Democrat governor of Montana, Brian Schweitzer’s reference two days ago to Governor Romney’s LDS family background, generations ago. And to what end? Division: a weak attempt to divide Americans of faith. Oh, and deflection from Mr. Obama’s record of course — as always.

I was excited Thursday to read the announcement that Governor Romney would give the commencement address at Liberty University next month — the audience is expected at 48,000 (Liberty University is to Evangelicals what BYU is to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). Minutes after receiving the news alert, I sent an email to Nancy French at EFM asking if she might like to write a brief guest post for MRC (little did I know that she had just brought her husband David home from the hospital with a concussion — she reports that David is recovering well). Charles Mitchell at EFM wrote this piece about the announcement.

David French is relentless in his support of Governor Romney for president; even with a concussion he was somehow lucid enough to provide these excellent thoughts for National Review Online yesterday regarding Governor Romney’s speech May 12th. In my opinion, should Governor Romney be elected POTUS, the national attention he receives at the Liberty University commencement address will be exceeded only by his Tampa and inaugural speeches.

Interesting Factoid: Mark DeMoss, a trustee of Liberty University and a nationally prominent Evangelical gave an outstanding speech at BYU January 24, 2012. Referring to the invitation to speak at BYU, he said it was, “one of the highest honors I have received.” His BYU speech is truly outstanding and worth watching in its entirety.

Unfortunately, in the next six months, there will be many enemies of religious freedom that will do everything in their power to divide people of faith in the battle tested tactics of “divide and conquer.” We saw it this week. Jayde referred to it in her “Bigot Hall of Shame” post of April 6th referring to O’Donnell’s MSNBC lies that he later admitted were wrong.

Never forget Mr. Obama’s central campaign strategy: DIVIDE — DISTORT — DISTRACT — DEFLECT… Mr. Obama will use any person, entity, and message to take voters’ minds away from his record as POTUS.

Once before, I mentioned Dennis Prager, one of my favorite radio talk show hosts; one who is nationally syndicated. He refers often to his faith — he is an orthodox Jew. In light of the Obama strategy to relentlessly divide Americans on class, gender, faith, ethnicity, etc. and with this week’s announcement of the Liberty University address, I decided to include a segment from Dennis Prager’s radio program. Prager provides excellent reasoning to illustrate that he perfectly understands what he calls “the Evangelical argument” — also included are his thoughts on Romney and the presidential election. ABSOLUTELY EXCELLENT (crescendo to the end):

“Bigotry and intolerance, silenced by argument, endeavors to silence by persecution, in old days by fire and sword, in modern days by the tongue.” ~ Charles Simmons

“Bigotry and judgment are the height of insecurity.” ~ Jasmine Guy

“Bigotry or prejudice in any form is more than a problem; it is a deep-seated evil within our society.” ~ Judith Light

Mr. Obama’s Commitment to North Carolina

These next 6+ months are going to be fascinating to watch. There are dozens of video clips of very specific promises and commitments Mr. Obama made on a variety of very important national issues. This short video is a good example of promises made.

“I’ve been looking at some video clips on YouTube of President Obama - then candidate Obama - going through Iowa making promises. The gap between his promises and his performance is the largest I’ve seen, well, since the Kardashian wedding and the promise of ’til death do we part.” ~ Mitt Romney

“I think it is an immutable law in business that words are words, explanations are explanations, promises are promises - but only performance is reality.” ~ Harold S. Geneen