Daily archives: November 14th, 2009

Weekly Address: President Obama Calls for Review of Events Leading to Tragedy at Fort Hood

Washington, D.C.–November 14, 2009.

This was a week for honoring the extraordinary service and profound sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.

Every fall, we set aside a special day to pay tribute to our veterans. But this year, Veteran’s Day took on even greater poignancy and meaning because of the tragic events at Fort Hood.

On Tuesday, I traveled there to join with the Fort Hood community, the Army, and the friends and families of the victims to honor thirteen of our fellow Americans who died – and the dozens more who were wounded – not on some distant shore, but on a military base at home.

Every man and woman who signs up for military service does so with full knowledge of the dangers that could come – that is part of what makes the service of our troops and veterans so extraordinary. But it’s unthinkable that so many would die in a hail of gunfire on a US Army base in the heart of Texas, and that a fellow service-member could have pulled trigger.

There is an ongoing investigation into this terrible tragedy. That investigation will look at the motives of the alleged gunman, including his views and contacts. As I said in Fort Hood, I am confident that justice will be done, and I will insist that the full story be told. That is paramount, and I won’t compromise that investigation today by discussing the details of this case. But given the potential warning signs that may have been known prior these shootings, we must uncover what steps – if any – could have been taken to avert this tragedy.

On the Thursday evening that this tragedy took place, I met in the Oval Office with Secretary of Defense Gates, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff – Admiral Mullen, and FBI Director Mueller to review the immediate steps that were necessary to support the families and secure Fort Hood. The next morning, I met with the leadership of our military and the intelligence community, and ordered them to undertake a full review of the sequence of events that led up to the shootings.

The purpose of this review is clear: We must compile every piece of information that was known about the gunman, and we must learn what was done with that information. Once we have those facts, we must act upon them. If there was a failure to take appropriate action before the shootings, there must be accountability. Beyond that – and most importantly – we must quickly and thoroughly evaluate and address any flaws in the system, so that we can prevent a similar breach from happening again. Our government must be able to act swiftly and surely when it has threatening information. And our troops must have the security that they deserve.

I know there will also be inquiries by Congress, and there should. But all of us should resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into the political theater that sometimes dominates the discussion here in Washington. The stakes are far too high.

Of all the responsibilities of the presidency, the one that I weigh most heavily is my duty as Commander-in-Chief to our splendid service-men and women. Their character and bravery were on full display in that processing center at Fort Hood, when so many scrambled under fire to help their wounded comrades. And their great dignity and decency has been on display in the days since, as the Fort Hood community has rallied together.

We owe our troops prayerful, considered decisions about when and where we commit them to battle to protect our security and freedom, and we must fully support them when they are deployed. We also owe them the absolute assurance that they’ll be safe here at home as they prepare for whatever mission may come. As Commander-in-Chief, I won’t settle for anything less.

This nation will never forget the service of those we lost at Fort Hood, just as we will always honor the service of all who wear the uniform of the United States of America. Their legacy will be an America that is safer and stronger – an America that reflects the extraordinary character of the men and women who serve it.

Thank you.

Source: whitehouse.gov

Sarah Palin Tweet of the Week

From Larry Sabato on twitter:

If Sarah Palin is the 2012 GOP nominee for President, the Republican party platform will be the longest suicide note ever written.

Enjoy your Saturday.

British Scouts Yell “Kill the Jews” at Jewish Second World War Vets

They were only teenagers, and part of adolescence is testing the limits. The other part is learning when you’ve gone too far, sometimes horribly too far, and learning there are indeed limitations.

From The Guardian:

A scout troop is being investigated by the police after its members shouted death threats and racist abuse at Jewish war veterans during a remembrance parade.

Dressed in full uniform, the explorer scouts, who were taking part in Remembrance Sunday service in Romford, Essex were heard to repeatedly shout "Let’s kill the Jews" at Jewish second world war veterans.

The head of the scouts in the area has issued a full apology for the incident, which was witnessed by a senior policeman standing a few feet away.

A Metropolitan police spokesman said the Met was investigating two allegations of "racially aggravated harassment" involving more than one member of the Romford explorer scout unit. He would not say how many scouts were involved.

The Rev Lee Sunderland, who was taking part in the service, expressed shock after hearing the scouts shout: "Here come the Jews, let’s kill the Jews."

Other witnesses said the racists chants were started by a boy believed to be 15 years old. One of the troop has since come forward and been interviewed by police. He has been ordered by the Scout Association to visit the rabbi of the Romford and district synagogue to apologise in person.

One 84-year-old former RAF pilot challenged the scouts, "I was absolutely fuming … I told them I was a Jew and I’d spent four and a half years in the RAF during the second world war, and that Jewish people had sacrificed so much for freedom," he told the Evening Standard."

Nod to AmericaBlog for this.

Bush Tax Cuts Cost Two and a Half Times as Much as House Democrats’ Health Care Proposal

Turns out, Bush’s tax cuts hurt the economy. Wha…?

From the Citizens for Tax Justice:

And yet, many of the lawmakers who argue that the health care reform legislation is “too costly” are the same lawmakers who supported the Bush tax cuts. Their own voting record demonstrates that health care reform is not a matter of costs, but a matter of priorities.

It’s difficult to see how the Bush tax cuts could provide us with two and a half times the benefits of health care reform. In 2010, when all the Bush tax cuts are finally phased in, a staggering 52.5 percent of the benefits will go to the richest 5 percent of taxpayers. President Bush and his supporters argued that these high-income tax cuts would benefit everybody because they would unleash investment that would spark widespread economic prosperity. There seems to be no evidence of this, particularly given the collapse of the economy at the end of the Bush years.

Details on the Bush Tax Cuts

The tax legislation enacted under President George W. Bush from 2001 through 2006 will cost $2.48 trillion over the 2001-2010 period. This includes the revenue loss of $2.11 trillion that results directly from the Bush tax cuts as well as the $379 billion in additional interest payments on the national debt that we must make since the tax cuts were deficit-financed.

This figure also includes the cost of adjusting the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) to prevent millions of additional taxpayers from being affected by it, as would otherwise have happened as a result of the Bush tax cuts.

Reason for Revisions

The projected cost of the Bush tax cuts is slightly less than we projected previously.5 This is mainly because of the economic downturn, which has reduced incomes. The projected distribution of the tax cuts has also changed slightly. Also, we no longer project the effects of the Bush tax cuts without AMT adjustments, since it is clear that Congress will continue to adjust the AMT to limit the number of people it affects.

Stark Contrast Between Congress’s Approach to Health Care Reform and Approach to Bush Tax Cuts

Over the upcoming decade (2010-2019), the costs of the health care proposals approved by three committees in the U.S. House of Representatives are projected to be around $1 trillion. (One committee trimmed the costs of its health care bill below that amount, but an official estimate of the cost reductions was not available at the time of this writing.)

The chairmen of the three House committees have explicitly stated that their goal is a final bill that is deficit-neutral in the decade following enactment. It’s unclear if they have accomplished this yet, since the Congressional Budget Office has not yet issued final cost estimates of the bills, and the legislation is likely to change before the full House votes on a final bill. But President Obama and Democratic leaders have also committed to ensuring that health care reform will not increase the budget deficit.

Under the House bills, roughly half of the costs would be offset with savings in our existing health care programs, while the other half would be offset with a surcharge on the incomes of wealthy taxpayers. A previous analysis by CTJ has shown that this surcharge is a reasonable approach to financing health care reform and would only affect 1.3 percent of taxpayers. Another CTJ analysis concludes that the surcharge will likely have no significant impact on small businesses, despite some of the misinformation that has surrounded this topic.

In contrast, President Bush and his allies in Congress never even attempted to replace the revenue lost as a result of their enormous tax cuts. The Bush tax cuts were deficit-financed, which increased the national debt and resulted in greater interest payments on that debt, as already explained.

Health Care Reform: A Matter of Priorities, Not Costs

These figures make clear that costs cannot be the real concern of lawmakers who oppose the House health care legislation and yet supported the Bush tax cuts. Their position seems to be that showering benefits on the wealthiest five percent of taxpayers and leaving the bill for future generations is preferable to making health care available for all at a much lower cost and paying that cost up front. That demonstrates a different set of priorities than most Americans have, but it doesn’t demonstrate much concern about costs.

Tip of the hat to Crooks and Liars for this post.

Will the Catholic Church in D.C. Stop Feeding Homeless Over Gay Marriage?

I hope Allison Kilkenny’s conclusions are off-base regarding the decision of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington to stop "social service programs" in the District of Columbia because of gay marriage.

From the Huffington Post:

A few days ago, I wrote about Goldman Sachs’s transition from a bank holding company into a public relations disaster machine. I argued that Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankfein, has been behaving like he wants to be attacked by a ferocious mob.

Now, it appears the Catholic church is determined to unseat Blankfein in the "Inexplicably Evil Organization Most Disconnected From Real People" category.

The Catholic Archdiocese of Washington said Wednesday that it will be unable to continue the social service programs it runs for the District if the city doesn’t change a proposed same-sex marriage law, a threat that could affect tens of thousands of people the church helps with adoption, homelessness and health care.

Yup, that’s right. If gay folk can marry, the Catholic church refuses to feed the homeless.

Well, that all seems very reasonable. After all, the state would force the Catholic church to perform gay marriages, and celebrate the beastly unions, right?

Kilkenny offers a postscript to her article, "In the original article, I wrote that Jesus condemned homosexuality. However, that’s not true. The condemning homosexuality bit is written in Leviticus. Sorry, Jesus." Acutally, Jesus said nothing at all about sex or sexuality beyond his comments regarding marriage fidelity and divorce.

The Washington Post appears to support Kilkenny’s conclusions:

Under the bill, headed for a D.C. Council vote next month, religious organizations would not be required to perform or make space available for same-sex weddings. But they would have to obey city laws prohibiting discrimination against gay men and lesbians.

Fearful that they could be forced, among other things, to extend employee benefits to same-sex married couples, church officials said they would have no choice but to abandon their contracts with the city.

"If the city requires this, we can’t do it," Susan Gibbs, spokeswoman for the archdiocese, said Wednesday. "The city is saying in order to provide social services, you need to be secular. For us, that’s really a problem."

This debate over same-sex marriage is so incredibly heated right now. I understand that the Catholic Church does not support same-sex marriage. How can they possibly use this one issue to justify turning their backs on those very people Christ calls us to serve?

According to the Post article, council members in D.C. don’t seem phased:

The church’s influence seems limited. In separate interviews Wednesday, council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) referred to the church as "somewhat childish." Another council member, David A. Catania (I-At Large), said he would rather end the city’s relationship with the church than give in to its demands.

"They don’t represent, in my mind, an indispensable component of our social services infrastructure," said Catania, the sponsor of the same-sex marriage bill and the chairman of the Health Committee.

This from council member Phil Mendelson (D-At Large):

"The problem with the individual exemption is anybody could discriminate based on their assertion of religious principle," Mendelson said. "There were many people back in the 1950s and ’60s, during the civil rights era, that said separation of the races was ordained by God."

Allow me to quote Amos the prophet, "Thus says the LORD: For three crimes of Israel, and for four, I will not revoke my word; Because they sell the just man for silver, and the poor man for a pair of sandals. They trample the heads of the weak into the dust of the earth, and force the lowly out of the way." (Amos 2:6-7)

More here from the Washington Post.