Factcheck.org on the Palin rumors

Factcheck.org is affiliated with the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania and widely considered to be non-partisan. Later today, they released a study of some of the rumors surrounding Sarah Palin. Here is their summary:

Summary
We’ve been flooded for the past few days with queries about dubious Internet postings and mass e-mail messages making claims about McCain’s running mate, Gov. Palin. We find that many are completely false, or misleading.
Palin did not cut funding for special needs education in Alaska by 62 percent. She didn’t cut it at all. In fact, she tripled per-pupil funding over just three years.
She did not demand that books be banned from the Wasilla library. Some of the books on a widely circulated list were not even in print at the time. The librarian has said Palin asked a “What if?” question, but the librarian continued in her job through most of Palin’s first term.
She was never a member of the Alaskan Independence Party, a group that wants Alaskans to vote on whether they wish to secede from the United States. She’s been registered as a Republican since May 1982.
Palin never endorsed or supported Pat Buchanan for president. She once wore a Buchanan button as a “courtesty” when he visited Wasilla, but shortly afterward she was appointed to co-chair of the campaign of Steve Forbes in the state.
Palin has not pushed for teaching creationism in Alaska’s schools. She has said that students should be allowed to “debate both sides” of the evolution question, but she also said creationism “doesn’t have to be part of the curriculum.”
A few of these claims were included in a chain e-mail by a woman named Anne Kilkenny. We’ll be looking into other charges in that e-mail for a future story. For more explanation of the bullet points above, please read the Analysis.

I concur, please read the analysis. And they are only scratching the surface…

"Our operating budget was not reduced" – Director of teen center

I just received this from Deirdre Cronin, Executive Director of Covenant House Alaska. This debunks the Washington Post’s story I addressed yesterday. I had asked her for a statement regarding the Post story and she provided this information.

Covenant House
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 4, 2008
Contact: Deirdre A. Cronin
Executive Director
907-339-4203
“Covenant House Alaska is a multi-service agency serving homeless and runaway youth, including teen mothers. The majority of the agency’s annual operating budget is privately raised, with no more than 10 to 15 percent of funds coming from state grants in any given year. We are grateful for the support we have received from Governor Sarah Palin, the Alaska legislature and our Congressional delegation over the years.
Despite some press reports to the contrary, our operating budget was not reduced. Our $3.9 million appropriation is directed toward a multi-year capital project and it is our understanding that the state simply opted to phase in its support for this project over several years, rather than all at once in the current budget year.”
Covenant House Alaska is Alaska’s largest private non-profit adolescent care agency serving homeless, runaway and at–risk youth between the ages of 13 and 21. With particular expertise in helping some of the most hopeless teens grow into independent, successful and productive adults.
-END

More on this story here…

McCain campaign discloses that Palin's daughter is pregnant

To address rumors that Sarah Palin was covering up her daughter’s pregnancy via a story about her most recent birth, the campaign today disclosed that Bristol Palin is expecting and will marry the infant’s father.
Until today, I was not aware of the rumors flying on the liberal blogs, but apparently they were being picked up by some mainstream sources which led to the disclosure.
Here is the Palin’s statement:

Statement from Sarah and Todd Palin
ARLINGTON, VA — Today, Sarah and Todd Palin issued the following statement regarding today’s Reuters story:
“We have been blessed with five wonderful children who we love with all our heart and mean everything to us. Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned. We’re proud of Bristol’s decision to have her baby and even prouder to become grandparents. As Bristol faces the responsibilities of adulthood, she knows she has our unconditional love and support.
“Bristol and the young man she will marry are going to realize very quickly the difficulties of raising a child, which is why they will have the love and support of our entire family. We ask the media to respect our daughter and Levi’s privacy as has always been the tradition of children of candidates.”
###

No real political fall out as yet, and I don’t expect there to be.

McCain-Palin, 2008


Looks like the Veepstakes goes to Sarah Palin…
The AP is not so sure, but all signs point that way…
CNN says it is so.
Here is what the McCain campaign is saying about the pick:

My Friends,
I am honored to announce that I have chosen Governor Sarah Palin of Alaska as my choice for the Republican nominee for Vice President. As a father with three daughters, I can’t express how proud I am to choose the first female Republican Vice-Presidential nominee.
Sarah Palin is a trailblazer and a reformer. As the first female governor of Alaska, she challenged a corrupt system and has been a tireless advocate for reform – passing a landmark bill on ethics reform. She has taken on the old politics in Alaska and reformed the state’s energy industry. She rejects wasteful pork barrel spending. She’s fearless – exactly the type of leader I want at my side and the type of leadership we will bring to Washington.
My friends, together Sarah Palin and I make the strongest presidential ticket and I know that she joins me in asking for your support as we head into our Convention week in Minnesota. We’re shaking things up in this campaign – and Governor Palin and I are ready to bring real reform to Washington.

From the FOXNews account:

Born in Sandpoint, Idaho, on Feb. 11, 1964, Palin moved with her family at the age of three months to Wasilla, Alaska, though she returned to her birth state to attend the University of Idaho, where she studied journalism and graduated in 1987 with a bachelor’s degree.
Palin is the mother of five children — Bristol, Willow, Piper, Track and Trig, who was born in April with Down syndrome.
She grew up in Wasilla, just outside of Anchorage, played on Wasilla’s state champion girls’ basketball team in 1982, wore the crown of Miss Wasilla in 1984 and competed in the Miss Alaska contest.
She began her professional career as a television sports reporter, but after she married her husband, Todd, she helped run his family’s commercial fishing business. Other professional endeavors included the ownership of a snow machine, watercraft and all-terrain-vehicle business.
She ran for Wasilla City Council in 1992, winning her seat by opposing tax increases. Four years later, she was elected mayor of Wasilla at age 32 by knocking off a three-term incumbent.
At the end of her second term, party leaders encouraged her to enter the 2002 race for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor. Against veteran legislators with far more experience, Palin finished second by fewer than 2,000 votes, making a name for herself in statewide politics.
Palin had exceptionally high approval ratings through mid-2007 and received high marks for her accessibility, a change from Frank Murkowski’s administration.

The information about Sarah Palin is pouring in (Did someone give a speech last night?). Here is an interview with Newsmax where she discusses social and energy issues.
And a long Anchorage news article regarding her run for Gov.

PA's Tom Ridge McCain's VP choice?

Jake Tapper at Political Punch makes an plausible observation regarding McCain’s VP choice. Tom Ridge may turn out to reminisce the role of George Bush the First in the McCain campaign. George Bush was a moderate on abortion who was tapped by ardently pro-life Ronald Reagan to be his Vice-president. Could Ridge fill a similar role for McCain?

Obama and McCain at Saddleback church

Barack Obama and John McCain answered the same questions from pastor Rick Warren tonight regarding a wide range of issues at the Saddleback Civil Forum.
Televised by CNN and FOXNews, I thought the format was well-conceived and allowed viewers to compare candidates on the same questions.
One controversy which was immediate was Barack Obama’s reply to the question, “when does a baby qualify for human rights?” Obama took an agnostic position saying theologically and scientifically the answer was “above his pay grade.” McCain answered directly that life begins at conception. Obama also said the number of abortions had stayed the same through the Bush presidency, a claim immediately contested by the Americans United for Life via one of the Fox News commentators. I am looking for some documentation on the matter but I do not think Obama is correct on that point.
Here is video where Obama says the number of abortions have stayed the same.

The debate may have helped Obama with Evangelicals in one sense: he made a clear profession of faith in Christ. However, in my opinion, Evangelicals will now have to do a real check of what they consider basic. Is the sanctity of life a core issue or can it be considered a second tier issue in order to vote for a candidate who articulates an orthodox testimony of spiritual salvation?
As for McCain, I think he helped himself enormously with Evangelicals via his performance in this forum. He demonstrated an emotional connection with the audience and had stories which connect with people. McCain’s responses seemed more at home at Saddleback with many more applause pauses from the crowd than received by Obama. I found him much more persuasive in that setting and with that audience than Sen. Obama.
But then I am biased and I suspect Obama supporters will view the evening as a win in that Obama played reasonably well in a ballpark unfamiliar to prior Democratic candidates.
UPDATE: According to the Guttmacher Institute, a research group with close ties to Planned Parenthood, abortions declined throughout the Bush administration.

Does abortion cancel a soul? Abortion specialist William Harrison on South Dakota's informed consent abortion law

Last week, the Eight Circuit court of appeals ruled that a South Dakota law which requires doctors to tell women seeking an abortion that “the abortion will terminate the life of a whole, separate, unique, living human being” should be sent back to federal District Court to decide constitutionality. In the meantime, the state may begin enforcement of the law. According to an AP story, The court ruled on June 27

that Planned Parenthood, which operates South Dakota’s only abortion clinic in Sioux Falls, has not provided enough evidence that it is likely to prevail.
“The bottom line is if the state Legislature orders a professional to tell the truth, that’s not a violation of the First Amendment,” said South Dakota Attorney General Larry Long, who is defending the law in court.
Mimi Liu, a lawyer for the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said such rulings generally take about three weeks to take effect. Long said it could take less time.

Predictably, reaction was mixed to the ruling

Harold Cassidy, a lawyer representing two pregnancy counseling centers that support the abortion law, hailed the ruling.
“We think it’s a big victory for the woman obviously to be given accurate information in order to make a decision not only for the child, but also for herself,” Cassidy said.
Sarah Stoesz, president of Planned Parenthood in Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota, said the law would force doctors to read ideological language to women seeking abortions.
“They are imposing compelled speech on doctors. It is not about providing information to women. It is about intruding in the doctor-patient relationship. It is unprecedented and extremely outrageous,” Stoesz said.

According to the AP story, the law also requires women to be told the potential mental health risks of abortion. I have addressed that informed consent issue in prior articles.
Two points are at issue: prescribing professional speech and the accuracy of the prescribed speech. Professional disclosure is sometimes prescribed by law. For instance, many states required licensed psychotherapists to provide a disclosure statement to clients regarding services and means of handling complaints. The South Dakota statement is very specific and no doubt is intended to discourage abortions. The second issue is the accuracy of the information. Pro-life advocates are united that abortion ends a life, hence their opposition to abortion. But what do pro-choice doctors believe? To get this perspective, I consulted noted abortion doctor and friend of Hillary Clinton, Dr. William Harrison. I referred to Dr. Harrison via Dr. Paul Kengor’s book on the faith of Hillary Clinton in a former post, noting that Dr. Harrison was

Hillary’s personal OB-GYN in the early 1970s in Fayetteville, Arkansas. He has done about 20,000 abortions. He was interviewed at length for my book. He was quite candid, extremely open, and very generous with his time. He likewise is a Methodist. He says that he prays to God that Hillary will be our next president.

I emailed Dr. Harrison regarding the South Dakota law. While his prayers regarding Hillary have not been answered, he clearly does not support the Republican ticket due to his pro-choice position as will be clear from his responses to me. I asked him if the South Dakota statement was accurate, to which he replied

Life is being terminated when a male wears a condom, or has a wet dream or “spills his seed of life on the ground” or in someone’s mouth or anus. Or when he ejaculates into the vagina of a women who isn’t ovulating or is post menopausal. The sperm are alive until they die. And the egg is alive until it dies. Each is a unique human life, etc.
The only reason the S.Dakota leg passed that law was to either make a girl or woman who was not prepared to have a baby have that baby, or to make her suffer as much emotionally as they could.
It is a piece of shit legislation, designed solely to increase human suffering. A few days ago I wrote a letter to our state and local newspapers. I will send you a copy which describes exactly what I think about this type of legislation.

I wrote back and asked for clarification regarding prevention of conception and ending of life. He then provided the copy of the letter to the editor he mentioned in the first email which makes his views even more clear. He gave permission to use both email replies. The Christian acquaintance referred to in this letter is my GCC colleague and author, Paul Kengor.

Letter to the editor.
A few days ago I got a question from a Christian Pro-Life acquaintance. [What follows is a paraphrase of part of a letter I got from your friend and colleague. I sent him a somewhat longer reply. I also sent him a copy of my book, There is a Bomb In Gilead. Ask him to let you read it.]
“I understand fully that you see your work as saving women from an unwanted pregnancy that might, if illegal, lead them to dangerous “back alley abortions,” doing them great harm or perhaps even killing them. I, as a prolife Christian, don’t want to see them hurt or killed. On the other hand, by doing an abortion, you are taking a life – an innocent one that has no say in the decision. I rarely hear pro-choicers lament that decision, the loss of the unborn.
“Do you ever regret that part of the decision? How do you come to terms with that, or do you not see the fetus as a life or a person? I don’t want to see either one die, and would do my best to save both. But your work on the other hand, seeks the end of one of these lives. How do you justify that decision?”
Here is my answer: Anyone who has delivered as many babies as I have, and has seen hundreds of living and dead embryos and fetuses being spontaneously aborted as have I, knows exactly what we are doing when we provide an elective abortion for our patient. We are ending the life of an embryo or a fetus. Not the life of a person, but certainly a creature that might have become a person under other circumstances. When I am asked this question, I always go back to two of the most insightful and beautiful verses of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khyyam.
Oh, if the world were but to recreate
That we might catch ere closed the Book of Fate
And make the Writer on a fairer leaf
Inscribe our names, or quite obliterate.
Better, oh, better cancel from the Scroll
Of universe one luckless Human Soul,
Than drop by drop enlarge the Flood that roars
Hoarser with Anguish as the ages roll.
When Omar wrote his beautiful and treasured poem over a thousand years ago, mankind had no way of safely canceling “from the scroll of universe one luckless human soul” whose numbers make up that flood of howling anguish; at least, no way of canceling it without risking also the life of the woman carrying it. In this day of medical marvels and, hopefully, ever increasing social justice, we possess such a way.
Embryos and fetuses spontaneously aborted – most, but not all of those “canceled” by “God” – are just such luckless human souls. But a few spontaneous abortions occur in desired pregnancies with no discernable abnormalities. For those girls and women and their families whose circumstances would make their babies “luckless human souls,” I “cancel” them before they become babies.
Physicians who save wanted babies from being spontaneously aborted (and we can save a few now that God once seemed determined to abort), and we who cancel “luckless human souls” are doing God’s work.
Want to increase Omar’s flood of anguish? Just vote to put John McCain in the White House and Pro-Lifers in your legislatures and the U.S. Congress.

Dr. Harrison places his views in the context of the current election. Clearly there is an ideological divide between Barack Obama and John McCain, the religious left and religious right on abortion. While Dr. Harrison does not like the South Dakota legislation, it does appear that if the wording was changed from “terminate a life” to “cancel a soul”, the law requires accurate disclosure. I am still reflecting on his response but I think he and I have different ideas of what preventing a life/soul is. For him, it appears that prevention ranges from preventing conception to preventing a birth, whereas, I see the fetus as a human soul, luckless or not.

More Evangelicals for Obama chatter

I have talked about Kirbyjohn Caldwell here before. He endorsed Obama and then it was learned he has an ex-gay ministry in his church. He promptly threw them under the bus. He is now launching a website called, Jamesdobsondoesntspeakforme.com to rebut yesterday’s statements from Dr. Dobson.
Obama supporters may believe Dobson is taking on Obama to help McCain but that is the confusing part of this for me. Dobson has said he will not vote for McCain. So a pox on both your houses?
Problem, one house will win and there will be consequences.
One thing is for sure, Obama’s Evangelical supporters are not coy about their support.

Was an Arkansas waitress fired for supporting Hillary Clinton?

And now for something completely different…

I got a call from a friend of the person who is the subject of this post. Micah Qualls is a praise singer, and former waitress at an airport in Little Rock. Seems Ms. Qualls, while on break, held up a Clinton for prez sign when John McCain flew into the airport where Ms. Qualls was a waitress at the airport restaurant. For her advocacy, she was fired. I would normally not post on the firing of a waitress in Little Rock (Grove City maybe, but nowhere in Arkansas) but this one interested me because of the detail reported by blogger, Max Brantley, as well as the possible role (?) of former Republican prez candidate, Mike Huckabee.

The tipster says the footage which about to be aired will shed a different light on some of the accounts reported in the blog. Well, you heard it here second…

Religion and the 2008 election: A conversation with Paul Kengor, Fred Barnes and Michael Medved

Currently, here at Grove City College, the Center for Vision and Values is hosting our annual conference. Titled, “Church and State: 2008 – A history of church-state relations and and a look at where the values voter will turn in 2008,” the schedule is filled with scholarly papers regarding church-state relations with special emphasis on how these issues impact politics and policy.

Earlier this evening, I attended a panel discussion that was billed as an interview of the Beltway Boys (Fred Barnes and Mort Kondracke) with Center Director, Paul Kengor as host. Unfortunately, Mort Kondracke could not attend due to some health concerns. Filling in ably was conservative talk show host, Michael Medved, who earlier in the day broadcast live from the atrium of our academic building, not far from my office.

In fact, it was Medved who provided some of the more newsworthy comments of the evening. For instance, he disclosed the rumor that Barack Obama is looking at New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg as a running mate. Mayor Bloomberg has switched his party affiliation to Independent from Republican (which was a switch from an earlier Democratic affiliation). This “fusion ticket” might be quite appealing to the middle.  Medved also predicted that Joe Lieberman, while a great friend of John McCain, would not take the Veep spot, even if offered.

Much of the conversation focused on how the religious vote might impact the election. Each candidate was examined in this regard. Specifically, Hillary Clinton is well known to occupy an Evangelical left position on most issues (which we have covered here in the past), McCain has Episcopal roots but has attended a Baptist church for quite awhile up to the present. Regarding social issues, all panelists agreed that McCain would chose conservative judges favorable to social and religious conservatives. This fact will help consolidate religious conservatives behind McCain. However, much conversation focused on Barack Obama’s political problems with his pastor, Jeremiah Wright.

Both Barnes and Medved believe that this issue will dog Obama into the general election should he be the Democratic nominee. Listening to a cursory review of Wright’s actions and positions, I believe they are right. Obama has said his Christianity has been directly influenced by Rev. Wright. Obama is not unaware of his statements and activities. For instance, as Medved noted, Wright has lauded Louis Farrakhan and even traveled with him to meet with Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi when Gadhafi was engaged in terrorism. This is the mentor and church Obama chose to join just 4 years after the Libyan trip and then remained for 20 years, calling Rev. Wright his spiritual advisor.  Medved predicted an Obama candidacy could move the Jewish vote toward the Republicans for the first time in decades.

For political junkies, it was a intriguing evening provided by three astute social conservatives.