Friday, October 31, 2008

If You are Even Thinking of Voting for Barack Obama,...

...please check out the video by Eduardo Verastegui linked near the end of this post. (Be forewarned, the full video contains graphic images of the destruction wrought by abortion. The video does provide an option to skip over that content.)

Not all political advertising is being conducted by the presidential campaigns or their respective political parties. Independent groups are weighing in on various issues. Here we'll highlight some of the latest prolife political messages.

Abortion survivor Gianna Jessen is featured in a new video responding to the Obama campaign's attack on her first video challenging his record of opposing protection of born-alive abortion survivors.

Meanwhile, Hispanic voters are the target of messages from Bisop Gracida of Corpus Christi, TX and actor and producer Eduardo Verastegui, whose powerful videos (in English and Spanish) emphasize the horrors of abortion and expose Barack Obama's extreme pro-abortion record. Verastegui is not only distributing this video, but is going on speaking tours of electoral swing states with high Hispanic populations such as Colorado and Florida.

Perfect 10!

Credit: NASA, ESA, and M. Livio (STScI)

The first picture released from the Hubble Space Telescope following its recovery to the alternate side of its science data handling system shows a pair of gravitationally interacting galaxies called Arp 147 which appear to form a colorful number 10.

Meanwhile, NASA also announced officially what was becoming obvious to those of us on the project, that the servicing mission will not occur in February but more likely in May.

Sarah on Fire in Pennsylvania

I just got back this evening from an exciting afternoon in York, Pa. where VP candidate Sarah Palin, joined by Alaska's "First Dude" Todd and cute little daughter Piper, addressed a high spirited crowd at a campaign rally. Palin fired up the crowd and addressed several issues, including the economy and taxes, energy and national security, along with her special concern for the care of special needs children and the protection of human life. She quoted Pennsylvania's late Democratic Governor Robert Casey on the importance of protecting and assisting the vulnerable.

One definite impression is that Sarah Palin is even more charismatic in person than she appears on TV. No matter the intense attacks on her from other sources, those who come out to her rallies express an intense and warm affection.

While most opinion polls show Barack Obama still leading by various but narrowing margins, there does not seem to be any "enthusiasm gap" among McCain-Palin supporters in central Pennsylvania. Those I talked to mentioned the preponderance of McCain signs in the York area. Of course, given the enthusiasm nationwide on both sides, I won't draw any definite conclusions about the outcome. But now, I'm really pumped going into these final days before the election.

Late word: Drudge is reporting Zogby showing McCain up by one-point (48-47)!

Happy Halloween!

Trick-or-Treating is winding down after a nice Autumn Friday night of friendly little ghosts and goblins out on the chocolate hunt.

I don't know if this is a growing Halloween fad, but here in Silver Spring tomorrow night a "Zombie Walk" will be held. Probably a great time for wanna-be zombies. There may even be more real zombies this year than usual, given the efforts of ACORN to raise up registered voters to advance their agenda.

On a more significant note, All Hallows' Eve segues into All Saints Day. Kathryn Jean Lopez describes her experience on a retreat focusing on how anyone can aspire toward sainthood.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

World Champion Phillies!

It's been a long time since the Philadelphia Phillies, my native Major League baseball team won the World Series, but tonight's the night! Yeehaa!!

Catholics, Life Issues and the Election

Over 100 Catholic bishops in the US have weighed in on the importance of protecting human life in light of next week's election, many of them linked on this list. One particularly articulate and powerful statement is from Cardinal Rigali of Philadelphia.
At this moment in our country’s history, defense of innocent human life is a moral responsibility for all of us. The same God who thundered from Mount Sinai: "Thou shalt not kill," thunders still. When life in the womb is destroyed, God thunders: "This is a child!" When by the most barbaric means, unworthy of any civilized people, the brain of a child is sucked out of his or her head by a vacuum, God thunders: "This is a child!" When a baby is left to die of exposure on a shelf because of a failed abortion, and this is considered a "right" by any leader, God, the Source of all law and authority, thunders: "This is a child!" When we are faced with every modern means of education and communication, in addition to the law placed in our hearts at creation, no one, and most especially, no Catholic, can ever say: "I did not know."

Some observers, such as in this LA Times opinion piece, say that Catholic voters are drifting away from concern about protecting human life in making their election decisions. I doubt such a sweeping conclusion, which seems to be based on a selective focus on some of the wildly varying polls being published.

However, there is a reason for concern. I believe that the bishops are speaking out more strongly now partially to correct a couple of loopholes that some in the Church seem to have found in the US Conference of Catholic Bishops' statement "Forming Consciences for Faithful Citizenship".
Is this election one of the "times when a Catholic who rejects a candidate's unacceptable position may decide to vote for that candidate for other morally grave reasons"? Many bishops have said "no," but "Faithful Citizenship" has been being taught throughout the nation's dioceses and parishes for many months. Stories abound of parish seminars where the pro-life concern was dismissed as "single-issue" or "divisive" and "partisan." It got so bad in the Diocese of Scranton that Bishop Joseph Martino crashed a panel discussion in a local parish and announced, "The USCCB doesn't speak for me."

Whatever the outcome of this election or the direction of the Catholic vote, I hope/expect that the bishops will clarify and strengthen their USCCB statements to reflect their stated concerns on the priority of the life issues.

Limbo Lower Now! How Low Can You Go?

Barack Obama and Joe Biden seem to be doing the Limbo Rock with the arbitrary line they've drawn where you earn enough income to have some of it "redistributed".

$250,000, $200,000, $150,000...?

How low can you go?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Obama's Own Words

Barack Obama has remained a national enigma while riding a popular wave the last two years of campaigning. His response to 'Joe the Plumber' a couple of weeks ago revealed a preference for "spreading the wealth around" through tax policy.

Now, a recording from a radio interview (audio and transcript) at WBEZ in Chicago in 2001 reveals just how far Obama's views in favor of redistribution of wealth go.
But the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And to that extent as radical as people tried to characterize the Warren court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as it’s been interpreted, and the Warren court interpreted it in the same way that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. It says what the states can’t do to you, it says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.

So he would like to have seen an economic equivalent of Roe v. Wade, which imposed abortion-on-demand on the nation even though no such requirement exists in the Constitution. However, he says he prefers a strategy of "political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power" to achieve his radical views.

So it is plainly obvious now what this election is about. No matter what your view on President Bush's performance, his administration will soon be history. The issue is is not just about competence, but about two radically different views on our way of life, a positive policy of freedom and growth v. redistribution.

One must ask, if Barack Obama thinks this "redistributive change" is such a great thing, why didn't he tell us all along? Why did it take a spontaneous conversation with a plumber and now a 2001 radio interview uncovered one week before the election for this world view to become publicly known?

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Journalist Looks at His Once Proud Profession

Journalist Michael Malone describes his shame how the journalism profession in the conventional media has declined, especially in light of this year's political campaign coverage.
The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

But worst of all, for the last couple weeks, I've begun - for the first time in my adult life - to be embarrassed to admit what I do for a living. A few days ago, when asked by a new acquaintance what I did for a living, I replied that I was "a writer", because I couldn’t bring myself to admit to a stranger that I’m a journalist.

Friday, October 24, 2008

You Couldn't Write Fiction Like This

So much of the Media was singing hosannas over Ret. General Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama for President (yawn).

Supposedly this gives national security cred to Obama. However, this may not impress the terrorists and tyrants of the world. who are likely to create a an international crisis during the first six months of an Obama presidency, according to Obama's running mate Joe Biden.

Now Biden's statements raised many eyebrows, but not so much among some major Media organizations, who were pre-occupied with investigating GOP VP candidate Sarah Palin's wardrobe.

The $150K figure attributed to Palin's wardrobe seems to attract more curiosity among the Media regulars than Obama's record shattering $150M spent in September.

I could go on, but it's past my bedtime. Sweet dreams.

Space Buzz

A number of exciting developments this week:

- After more troubleshooting, Hubble Space Telescope science operations are about to be restored after a switch to the B-Side of its Science Instrument Control and Data Handling system.

- An International Space Station (ISS) crew switch from Expedition 17 to Expedition 18 was completed yesterday with the arrival of the returning crew to Earth. Paying customer Richard Garriott, who stayed on the ISS while the crews were handing over, was doing more than space tourism. He was conducting an experiment that may have a great payoff for medicine and commerce.

- India launched its Chandrayaan-1 lunar robotic spacecraft, joining a growing community of nations exploring the Moon. Here's a link that provides some video of the historic launch.

- The SETI Institute is starting to operate its Allen Telescope Array (ATA) in northern California. The ATA will provide unprecedented capabilities in searching for possible intelligent signals from other solar systems in our galaxy.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

So, How Informed Are You?

Do you think you know what the presidential candidates' positions are on the issues they would be facing as president? Kathryn Jean Lopez shocked many members of a crowd of young Catholics when she informed them of how radically pro-abortion Barack Obama's views are.
In a packed bar, I was discussing the contentious question of whether a Catholic can support Obama for president. I highlighted the priority that defending innocent human lives takes in these considerations, according to the Church. I then went through Obama's radical record on abortion. The jolt came after I finished speaking, when one by one, people told me they had no idea Obama was so radical.

They were shocked. And so was I.

Lopez cited numerous examples of Obama's position that are clearly on the public record despite the candidate's attempt to smooth talk his way out of his own record during last week's debate.

OK, so you were unaware of these facts on abortion and protecting life. Of course you know who's to blame for the mortgage debacle that led to the financial crisis. George Bush, right? Well, if you read the article by Stanley Kurtz on his research into the origin of the mortgage debacle, and/or check out this video clip (~11 min), you may be surprised.

So why is there so much confusion as to what the facts are surrounding some of the grave issues facing our society? For that matter, why are we so divided on these issues? Could it be that the traditional sources of information, the large news media institutions are distorting or omitting critical information and whipping up emotionally simplistic reactions to controversial issues? Could it be that not everyone trusts the same sources of news and that people are reaching out to increasingly diverse sources of information?

You don't have to rely solely on those traditional, so-called mainstream media sources. For that matter you don't have to rely on any narrow source of information, including this blog and the sources I cite. Being an informed citizen means taking the advice in the video linked above to use Google and other tools to check out and verify information for yourself. When you do so with an open mind you may be surprised. It may even change how you vote in two weeks.

Friday, October 17, 2008

'Joe the Plumber' Meets 'Senator Government'

Well, the third debate is over (transcript and video) as are the Al Smith Dinner proceedings (videos, McCain transcript and Obama transcript).

The big story of the week has been the encounter between Joe Wurzelbacher, a plumber, and Barack Obama in Ohio on Sunday.

John McCain successfully used the incident in Wednesday's debate to highlight how he and Obama differ on approaches to the economy and taxation. Much fallout has come from this, including some attempts by Obama supporters (including those in the Media) to question Wurzelbacher's background and credibility.

Regardless of all the details of Joe Wurzelbacher's life, the real issue here is Barack Obama's answer to his question, and what it tells about Obama's philosophy of economics and government. Many Americans like Wurzelbacher, who are currently well below Obama's arbitrary dividing line of who is rich enough to be taxed more, aspire to grow their business and wealth in the future. They are disturbed by Obama's claim that implies it is up to the government to decide how much an individual is allowed to prosper before their wealth is to be "spread around".

"Spread the wealth around" may sound rather benign but it raises real questions about what Obama's world view is. One's world view is influenced by what individuals and groups one associates with, so the questions about Obama's associations with Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, ACORN, etc. are not just campaign distractions, but are relevant to what philosophy Barack Obama would use in governing.

This week's polling data indicates some narrowing of the race, as analyzed at (Hat tip to Hugh Hewitt) Whether the issue raised by 'Joe the Plumber' alters the electoral outcome will depend on whether the McCain campaign, supporters and alternate media can effectively and persistently communicate this issue to enough voters between now and the election.

A Blogger Without a Keyboard.... like a fish out of water. After three days of not being able to type, replacement hardware from HP arrived yesterday, so I can once again comfort the afflicted and afflict the politically correct conventional wisdom.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Who Spoke These Quotes?

The first quote is
It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

and the second is
I believe the truest measure of any society is how it treats those who are least able to defend and speak for themselves. And who is more vulnerable, or more innocent, than a child?

Are they both from the same person? Actually, the first one is from an early political hero of mine, the liberal Democrat Hubert Humphrey, Vice President of the United States. And the second? That was spoken by one who is currently seeking the office that Humphrey once held, Sarah Palin, who went on to say
Yes, every innocent life matters. Everyone belongs in the circle of protection. Every child has something to contribute to the world, if we give them that chance. There are the world’s standards of perfection ... and then there are God’s, and these are the final measure. Every child is beautiful before God, and dear to Him for their own sake.

Times have surely changed when some of those of the political party that Hubert Humphrey once belonged to and some of the more unhinged on the left, oh excuse me, "progressive" side denounce Sarah Palin in the vilest terms (which I will not repeat here) precisely because she speaks so strongly for the protection of the innocent.

Here are the text and a video excerpt of Sarah Palin's speech Saturday in Johnstown Pennsylvania.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Jim Benson, RIP

Jim Benson, space entrepreneur and founder of the commercial space company SpaceDev, passed away Friday after battling a brain tumor at age 63. I recall first meeting Jim Benson at the 1997 Space Studies Institute conference, where he was investigating business opportunities in the space field after recently retiring and selling off a couple of computer related companies he founded. Benson's company was originally founded to carry out a prospecting mission to a Near Earth Asteroid, but later shifted into launch vehicle and propulsion development. SpaceDev provided the hybrid engines which propelled SpaceShipOne on its pioneering human spaceflights.

An American Carol

Tonight I went to see David Zucker's An American Carol, an obvious satire on Michael Moore and his docu-ganda movies, which lampoons many politically correct icons while celebrating traditional American values. Kathryn Jean Lopez salutes this rare breakout from Hollywood's boringly predictable world view.

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Second Time Around

A View Over Mercury’s Horizon (October 8, 2008)
Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington

The MESSENGER spacecraft flew by the planet Mercury on Monday, the second of three flybys before the spacecraft enters orbit around the planet in 2011.

This afternoon a friend and I attended an event at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the organization which built and is now controlling the pioneering spacecraft. We heard one of the leading mission scientists present background on the science and exploration of Mercury along with the latest results (followed by a stop for Mexican food and margaritas just outside the Lab). For continuing updates, check out the MESSENGER web site.

Connecting the Dots

While last night's debate (video and transcript here) yielded mildly positive results for both Senators McCain and Obama, many observers seemed to conclude that, for various reasons, this debate might lead to a cure for insomnia.

Two serious issues not addressed at the debate were the twisted history of the origins of the home mortgage debacle that led to the larger financial crisis and a growing scandal of potential voting fraud developing around the country. At the center of both of these stories is an organization called ACORN. What makes these developments so explosive at this time is the involvement with ACORN of one man: Barack Obama.

Stanley Kurtz describes this organization's aggressive push to force lending institutions to provide mortgages to people who would not have otherwise qualified for loans. Assisting poor people to move up in life is not a bad thing, but using intimidation to force lending institutions to extend unsustainable loans has led to disaster for the poor and others.

Meanwhile, Michelle Malkin describes ACORN and another organization being targeted by authorities in Nevada and other states investigating voter registration fraud. Here's more detail on the raid by authorities in Las Vegas.

Monday, October 06, 2008

McCain on Obama and the Economic Mess

As the markets went on another stomach-churning roller coaster ride today, John McCain delivered a speech in Albuquerque describing how Barack Obama and key Democrats in Congress thwarted action that might have averted the crisis.

This is a connection that must be repeated so that the voters can make a more informed decision on which persons and offices in our government allowed this situation to become so severe.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Sarah Comes On Strong

Last night's vice presidential debate (full video and transcript) was one of the most watched political debates in history with nearly 70 million viewers.

Over all, the debate went well. Joe Biden conducted himself well, though some of his statements proved to be reality-challenged. Sarah Palin shined with a great comeback after a rough couple of weeks for her and John McCain.

One of my favorite lines was Palin's response to Biden's incessant Bush bashing.
Say it ain't so, Joe, there you go again pointing backwards again. You preferenced your whole comment with the Bush administration. Now doggone it, let's look ahead and tell Americans what we have to plan to do for them in the future.

If some of Sarah's words sound warmly familiar, check out this video.

Sarah Palin has such a proactive fighting spirit that she even challenged the McCain campaign's decision to pull campaign resources out of Michigan, saying that she and her husband Todd wanted to go and win over support in that state.

Meanwhile, Republicans will need to build on Sarah's performance to make the case in this campaign. Public opinion polls indicate a majority blame Republicans for the financial crisis. The following ad from the NRCC documents some history that challenges that perception and sheds some light of accountability for the situation.

Tax Bill Now Law, Market Down

The huge rescue/bailout bill (PDF text)was signed into law this afternoon after passage by the House. Hopefully the positive features (FDIC insurance extension, accounting rule change, aid to credit market, etc.) will outweigh the pork and whatever hidden whoppers were included in this 'sausage-making' process.

Meanwhile, the stock market took another dive after the bill was passed. I don't know whether that says more about the federal legislation itself or about the state of Wall Street today (or about my limited knowledge of finance). I don't know if the biggest problem on Wall Street is greed or its flip-side, wimpishness. We've heard so much about "nervous" investors and bankers. It's time for them to step up and take some risks for the good of themselves and the country.

Finally, some on the left wishfully express the opinion that this rough economic period marks the decline of the free enterprise system. Nothing could be further from the truth. Free enterprise thrives in many different ways, but this week saw a historically significant advance thanks to Elon Musk and SpaceX with their successful launch to orbit. The frontier is opening wide.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Happy 50th Anniversary to NASA!

The pioneering US space agency was born on October 1, 1958. Here's a video (~15 min) that brings back many exciting moments. Amid mounting global and economic challenges, with a rapidly emerging commercial space enterprise and a growing number of international players, Jim Banke speculates on the next 50 years in space.

Senate passes Finance Bill

The tally is 74-25 on the $700B+ bill. The House will act on it tomorrow or Friday.