Morning Report, Weekend Edition, August 28th: Burying the Last Lion, Intercepting North Korean Arms, the "Church of Hate," Health Care for Unions, Michelle's Hair, and Investigating the Investigators

Morning Report, Weekend Edition, August 28th: Burying the Last Lion, Intercepting North Korean Arms, the "Church of Hate," Health Care for Unions, Michelle's Hair, and Investigating the Investigators August 29, 2009

One Christian’s perspective on the day’s news:

1.  Ted Kennedy was remembered last night, and whatever your politics it was a pleasure to hear the stories and remembrances of some of the most prominent people in the nation.  (A note for Bostonians: didn’t Mumbles Menino come across poorly, like a kid at the adult’s table?)  Today there is a funeral mass, and Kennedy will be flown down to Washington for a prayer at the capital and burial at Arlington National Cemetery.  I was never a fan of Teddy’s.  I find much more to appreciate in JFK, whose politics were quite different from what Teddy’s politics became.  But I understand why so many regard Teddy so highly, and it was nice to hear the tributes last night in particular from those who sat across the aisle from him.

Obama will deliver the eulogy.  Read an account here.  I’m tempted to wander of to Our Lady of Perpetual Help basilica if only to see the various luminaries gathered there.  Here is one picture from before the mass, which captures our past two Presidents, our current President and quite possibly our future President:

Again, may Teddy rest in peace.

2.  The UAE interdicted an arms shipment from North Korea to Iran, containing everything from missiles to what could very well be nuclear arms parts.  The UN was informed of this two weeks ago, apparently.  What has the UN done about it?  They’ve sent two letters.  Yawn.

3.  Amy Sullivan is not wrong to call this a “Church of Hate.”  A pretty damning recording from a sermon given in Phoenix the day before Barack Obama’s visit–the visit where protesters were standing around with assault rifles.  I don’t think much of this guy and his “rant” (who doesn’t seem to consider it possible that such a pastor would have opposed the Iraq or Afghan wars; he’s assuming a lot about the pastor, but 99% of what the pastor speaks about is the issue of abortion), but this video is worth watching if only to hear the sermon from Steven L. Anderson.

These are sound-bites cut out of a sermon in order to make a political argument, of course.  The other 95% of the sermon could have been saying “no one should take this into their own hands, and we should pray for the President, and I appreciate some of the things he’s done.”  Who knows?  But regardless, whatever the context, these sorts of statements are hateful and wrong.  Of course there was all kind of assassination porn directed toward George W. Bush from the Left–nothing worse than we are seeing now.  The pastor tries to defend himself here, but the sermon segments are pretty damning.  But this is unacceptable; it is vile; it is un-Christian.  And it deeply, deeply compromises our witness.

4.  We have been following events in Honduras on this blog.  Robert Micheletti, who was given power after the Supreme Court removed Manuel Zelaya and the military shipped him out of country, has offered to step down from power if Zelaya himself renounces power forever.  Zelaya would not be sent to jail for his crimes against the nation’s constitution, but would be allowed to live as an ordinary citizen.  No word yet on Zelaya’s response, but I’m not holding my breath.  I suspect he still holds Chavez-style dreams of being a “benevolent” Leftist dictator for life.

5.  Charges continue to be made (in this case by a Congresswoman from Los Angeles) that opponents of Obamacare are motivated by racism.  And yet when the press refers to the ugliness of the debate, they refer only to the protesters?  On a more substantive level, Mike Enzi, one of the Senators who was considering cooperating with Obamacare, has decided it can’t be saved.

6.  Another gift to supporters?  The health care reform bill that passed out of a House committee before the recess includes a $10B subsidy for union pension plans.  As the Detroit news says: ”

One reason the public so distrusts the health care plan being considered by Congress is that so many troublesome details keep bubbling out of the massive legislation.

The latest example is the $10 billion taxpayers will be asked to shell out to prop up the United Auto Workers’ retiree health insurance program. …

In effect, it would ask every taxpayer, regardless of whether they’ll have health insurance coverage themselves after they retire — and most won’t — to chip in to maintain the UAW’s coverage, which even after the union’s givebacks is still better than what the average American worker receives.

No wonder the unions have sent out their toughs to stand against the town hall protesters.

7.  Catnip for conspiracy theorists.

8.  Apparently, Michelle Obama’s hair matters.  Time says so.

9.  Mike Huckabee claims that Ted Kennedy would have been told “to take pain pills and go home and die” instead of receiving quality end-of-life treatment under Obamacare.  Joe Klein accuses him of “bearing false witness.”  Is Huckabee trying to out-Palin Palin?  I don’t think so.  As others have shown, there is legitimate reason to be concerned that any movement toward nationalized health insurance is a movement toward rationing, and in particular rationing of those who are near death.  According to some estimates, 80% of our health care costs come in the final year of life.  If you’re looking to cut costs, and if there will be government pressure to cut costs because the government is footing the bill, it’s common sense that there will be pressure to cut end-of-life treatments.  Ezekiel Emanuel strongly advocated, as recently as February, little to no coverage for those under a few years of age and the very old.  Here is the graph in which he proposed how much money should be spent on individuals at certain ages:

As McCaughey explains:

Dr. Emanuel concedes that his plan appears to discriminate against older people, but he explains: “Unlike allocation by sex or race, allocation by age is not invidious discrimination. . . . Treating 65 year olds differently because of stereotypes or falsehoods would be ageist; treating them differently because they have already had more life-years is not.”

The youngest are also put at the back of the line: “Adolescents have received substantial education and parental care, investments that will be wasted without a complete life. Infants, by contrast, have not yet received these investments. . . . As the legal philosopher Ronald Dworkin argues, ‘It is terrible when an infant dies, but worse, most people think, when a three-year-old dies and worse still when an adolescent does,’ this argument is supported by empirical surveys.” (, Jan. 31, 2009).

Ezekiel Emanuel, of course, is Rahm Emanuel’s brother and a health care advisor to the President.  So Huckabee may be wrong.  But he is not simply bearing false witness.  This is a difference of opinion, a way of reading the health care proposals that Klein disagrees with.  But it calls for a reasoned and detailed response, not just name-calling.

9.  Today’s Two-Sides.  The Washington Post’s Fred Hiatt, from the Left, says that we need a Souter-O’Connor Commission to investigate CIA abuses.  The Washington Times’ Clifford May, writing from the Right, laments how we are “demonizing the defenders.”  And here is an account in the Post of how Khalid Sheikh Mohammad became an asset after waterboarding.  You decide.

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