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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Mahoney Scandal Reveals Media Bias

In September of 2006, while on the verge of the 2006 Congressional midterm elections, Florida Representative Mark Foley was caught up in a salacious sex scandal involving lewd emails and instant messages with congressional pages that resulted in his resignation. The Main Stream Media (MSM) pounced on the scandal, and many pundits believe the scandal contributed significantly to the Democrats regaining control of both houses of Congress in 2006.

On September 17, 2006, about two weeks before the Foley scandal broke, a USA Today/Gallup poll showed Democrats and Republicans tied at 48% when voters were asked which party they preferred in congressional races. On October 8, 2006, about a week after Foley resigned from Congress, the same poll had Democrats with a 23 point advantage over Republicans, 59% to 36%.

Of course, there were other contributing factors to the Republican losses, but the Foley scandal was the final nail in the coffin for the GOP in 2006. Other House members suffered in the scandal as well, as it was revealed that several had some knowledge of Foley’s emails and messages well before the scandal broke. This included Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert and, as a result, there were calls for his resignation.

The press played a great role in keeping Foley’s fall in the headlines. They asked questions and pressed hard for answers concerning what Hastert and others knew and when they knew it. This is not happening in U.S. Representative Tim Mahoney’s current scandal. If you have not heard of Tim Mahoney, you are not alone. The MSM has been suspiciously quiet in the matter.

Representative Mahoney is caught up in his own sex scandal and, ironically, is the Democrat who, campaigning on a platform of “faith and family values,” won Foley’s seat after his disgraceful fall from politics. Mahoney’s scandal contains curious circumstances that may extend well beyond a U.S. Representative committing adultery, but you wouldn’t know it from the MSM’s coverage.

For example, Mahoney paid off his mistress, who was a former staffer, to the tune of $121,000. He claims he paid her with his own money and not campaign funds, but are we simply to take his word for it? His mistress also was given a $50,000-a-year job with the advertising agency that handles Mahoney’s campaign buys.

Also, according to Fox News, Mahoney has admitted to “multiple other affairs.” He has not said specifically how many, but he has admitted to an affair with a high-ranking Martin county official from his congressional district. Fox News added that this affair took place while Mahoney “simultaneously [lobbied] the Federal Emergency Management Agency to give [Martin] county a $3.4 million hurricane clean-up reimbursement. The funds were awarded last year.”

Mahoney has insisted that there was no quid-pro-quo, but again, are we simply to take his word for it? It seems the MSM is at least content to accept Mahoney’s explanations, if not ignore the matter all together. NewsBusters reported that, “though all three broadcast network evening news programs covered the Foley sex scandal when it was first revealed on September 29, 2006, not one of them felt that the man who replaced him admitting to having an affair with a former campaign staffer was at all newsworthy.”

Furthermore, no one seems to be pressing the House Democratic leadership, such as Speaker Nancy Pelosi and the chair of the Democratic Caucus Rahm Emanuel (D-IL), on “what they knew and when they knew it.” According to ABC News, Emanuel had knowledge of Mahoney’s affair last year and even confronted him about it.

ABC News also reported that, according to Mahoney staffers, “Senior Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives, including Rep. Rahm Emanuel… have been working with Mahoney to keep the matter from hurting his re-election campaign.” However, ABC leaves it at that and so have the rest of the MSM.

I realize that media bias is something tossed around quite a lot, especially during an election season. Nevertheless, this situation reeks of bias. Thankfully the FBI is now involved in investigating Mahoney. I wonder how the MSM will feel about itself if the FBI upstages it in revealing the truth in this matter. I suppose it won’t feel too badly as long as nothing comes out before November 4.

The MSM kept the Foley scandal in the headlines up to the 2006 election and beyond. The liberal leanings of the MSM are no secret, and this is certainly further evidence. One popular talk-show host has referred to 2008 as “the year journalism died.” Looking the other way in Mahoney’s case may have been the “final nail” in journalism’s coffin.

Copyright 2008, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Obama’s Healthcare Hypocrisy

So, Barack Obama, as he stated in his second debate with John McCain, thinks that healthcare is a “right for every American.” John McCain should have taken the opportunity and clarified that Senator Obama sees healthcare as a “right” for only those Americans who were not born alive during a botched abortion. The hypocrisy here is almost too much to bear.

As I pointed out in a previous column, it has been clearly demonstrated that Obama, while a member of the Illinois state Senate, opposed multiple versions of an Illinois bill that mirrored the federal Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA).

In 2000 the original BAIPA was passed by the U.S. House by a vote of 380 to 15. This occurred in spite of opposition by the National Abortion and Reproductive Rights Action League (NARAL). Even staunch pro-abortion leaders, such as Jerrold Nadler, ignored the NARAL position and supported BAIPA. This version of BAIPA was later killed in the Senate by an objection to unanimous consent.

In 2001 the Illinois legislature took up a bill that was patterned after the federal BAIPA. Obama voted against this bill in committee. On the floor of the Illinois Senate, he later gave the only speech against the bill, saying, “I mean, it—it would essentially bar abortions, because the equal protection clause does not allow somebody to kill a child, and if this is a child, then this would be an antiabortion statute.” (What?! We need the “equal protection clause” to tell us that we shouldn’t kill our children?!)

Obama finally, and “boldly,” voted “present” on the bill, which had the same effect as voting “no.” The bill passed the Illinois senate but died in a house committee. The scene pretty much repeated itself in 2002, this time with Obama voting “no.”

In 2002 a “neutrality clause” was added to the federal BAIPA. This clause basically said that, as far as federal law was concerned, legal protection could not be construed upon a human being prior to being “born alive.” This effectively protected Roe. The bill unanimously passed both houses of Congress and was signed into law by President Bush in 2002.

Obama is on the record saying that he would have supported the Illinois bill had it contained the neutrality clause. In October of 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported, “Obama said that had he been in the U.S. Senate two years ago, he would have voted for the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act…”

However, in 2003 the exact language of the federal neutrality clause was added to the Illinois bill making it virtually identical to the federal BAIPA. In March of 2003, Obama chaired an Illinois Senate committee and led the Democrats on that committee to kill the amended bill.

In attempting to blunt the extremism of his abortion record, Obama has stated time and again that the lack of a neutrality clause was all that was preventing him from supporting the Illinois bill. When he was called out on the matter, Obama accused individuals and institutions of lying about his record. His campaign has since had to admit that his critics were correct about his voting record.

Whatever moral causes (such as “universal healthcare”) Senator Obama chooses to champion, nothing compares to the helplessness of a newborn child. Obama’s unwillingness to stand for these, along with his attempted deception in the matter, should give any voter great pause.

Copyright 2008, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Budgeting and Stewardship

Speaking in the early 1990s, when the median price of a home was about $108,000, the late Larry Burkett asked, “What do think the price of a house would be if you couldn’t borrow to buy a house? Do you think a $108,000 house would sell for $108,000 if you couldn’t sell it to anybody with a loan?” His answer: “No way. Nor would it sell for $58,000. It would probably sell for around $28,000. Everything above that we’ve built into it through debt.” I wonder how much debt is built into the current median price of a home, which is now around $215,000.

Our attitude and behavior toward debt have made practically every large ticket item in our culture more expensive. As Ken Blackwell of the Family Research Council recently wrote, “We have become a culture addicted to instant gratification and a fixation on the material. Increasingly, concepts such as duty, self-denial, hard work, delayed gratification, and patience have been swept away.” In other words, we are a culture addicted to debt.

Forget home debt for a moment and consider the amount of automobile debt Americans have. Bad automobile debt is contributing to the credit crisis in the U.S. The L.A. Times reported late last year that, with the number of risky car loans approaching the same level as the number of risky home loans, a new credit crunch could be on the horizon for Americans.

This could mean even more trouble for Wall Street as well. We could see more of what happened recently with Bill Heard Chevrolet, the nation’s largest Chevy dealer, which shut down all of its 14 dealerships due in large part to subprime car loans.

Of course, not all debt is bad. However, as I noted in my last column, (seen here), the current economic crisis is due mostly to an “irresponsible” attitude toward debt by the federal government, lending institutions, and individuals.

Also, as I pointed out in my last column, my wife Michelle and I have lived the past approximately 10 years of our lives completely debt free: owning our home, cars, and so on. We have committed to live the rest of our lives completely debt free. The financial position that we are in has special significance given the current economic downturn.

Certainly, owning a home was the largest obstacle to our remaining completely debt free. We own our home because over a three-and-a-half-year period, from early 2000 to late 2003, before we had children and just after we had eliminated our consumer debt, we built it from the ground up, contracting it and financing it completely ourselves. We performed much of the labor ourselves, but we also had a lot of help from family and friends. (This is quite a tale in itself, and I hope someday to tell it in writing.)

Our situation was and is a unique one; I certainly would not recommend that anyone do things exactly as we did them. As I mentioned before, our path was “a calling.” However, I do believe that there are tried and true, simple financial principles that we applied, and are still living by, that would benefit most anyone.
The first thing that we did, very early in our marriage and before we were out of debt, was establish a workable budget that, with adjustments, we maintain to this day. Whether we are talking about the government, a business, a church, or a family, a good budget is essential in maintaining a healthy bottom line.

A budget can help keep you from overspending in any particular pay period or in any particular area, help you plan for non-regular expenses, such as car repairs, and help you plan for your financial future. Establishing a budget can be a lengthy process. It can take as long as a full year to get a budget working well, but the benefits are well worth the hard work involved.

Our budget has played an essential role in helping us weather these difficult financial times. I despise the rise in gas and food prices that we have experienced over the last several months. Being a family of six, these increases have hit us hard. Our budget is in constant flux, but it helps us see the adjustments in spending that we need to make, and therefore maintain sound financial discipline.

I recently moved from teaching at a private school to teaching at a public one. This decision in large part was made for financial reasons. However, it was not a rushed decision. It was one that Michelle and I weighed carefully over many months, and our budget helped guide us in this decision. (See www.crown.org for help with budgeting.)

The second and most significant thing that I came to grips with financially, after budgeting, was the biblical principle of stewardship. In my last column I said that the bottom line for anyone financially is what you own vs. what you owe. However, I was speaking there in practical terms only.

The real bottom line when it comes to money and finances, and this is the most important financial principle taught in Scripture, is that none of us really “owns” anything. The Bible says, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.” We are merely stewards, or managers, of His property. Until we come to grips with this, we can never truly understand money and wealth.

Copyright 2008, Trevor Grant Thomas
At the Intersection of Politics, Science, Faith, and Reason.
Trevor and his wife Michelle are the authors of: Debt Free Living in a Debt Filled World