Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Tuesday, June 24, 2008
The morning read
The Associated Press reports that Dr. James Dobson is bringing down the wrath of ... Dobson ... on Barack Obama today on his radio show, accusing Obama of "distorting scripture." Wait for it. This one's all about abortion... But first, Dobson, in a pre-taped 18-minute sermon for which Focus on the Family's PAC bought time, attacks a speech Obama gave in 2006 before a liberal Christian group, Call to Renewal:
"Even if we did have only Christians in our midst, if we expelled every non-Christian from the United States of America, whose Christianity would we teach in the schools?" Obama said. "Would we go with James Dobson's or Al Sharpton's?" referring to the civil rights leader.
Dobson took aim at examples Obama cited in asking which Biblical passages should guide public policy — chapters like Leviticus, which Obama said suggests slavery is OK and eating shellfish is an abomination, or Jesus' Sermon on the Mount, "a passage that is so radical that it's doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application."
"Folks haven't been reading their Bibles," Obama said.
Dobson and Minnery accused Obama of wrongly equating Old Testament texts and dietary codes that no longer apply to Jesus' teachings in the New Testament.
"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.
"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."
Then, he gets down to business:
Dobson reserved some of his harshest criticism for Obama's argument that the religiously motivated must frame debates over issues like abortion not just in their own religion's terms but in arguments accessible to all people. He said Obama, who supports abortion rights, is trying to govern by the "lowest common denominator of morality," labeling it "a fruitcake interpretation of the Constitution."

"Am I required in a democracy to conform my efforts in the political arena to his bloody notion of what is right with regard to the lives of tiny babies?" Dobson said. "What he's trying to say here is unless everybody agrees, we have no right to fight for what we believe."
Meanwhile, over to the Denver Post, where a new Pew survey suggests that while most Americans believe in God, most do NOT believe in Dr. James Dobson ...
Most of the faithful, 70 percent, think there are paths to eternal life other than the one prescribed by their own religion. And 68 percent think there is "more than one true way" to interpret the teachings of their religion.

"That's higher than I would have intuitively thought," said Jacob Kinnard, an associate professor at the University of Denver's Iliff School of Theology. "But this has been a pluralistic country for a long time. People are much more exposed to religions other than their own."

Only Mormons (57 percent) and Jehovah's Witnesses (80 percent) have majorities who say that only their religion is the "one true faith leading to eternal life," the survey found.

About 57 percent of Evangelical Protestants and 56 percent of Muslims think many religions can lead to eternal salvation — a view also held by 89 percent of Hindus, 83 percent of mainline Protestants, 82 percent of Jews and 79 percent of Catholics.
"One of the things that would be surprising to Americans is how Muslims answered," said Kinnard, referring to the fact that more than half of Muslims surveyed think many religions can lead to eternal salvation.
Sorry, Dr. Dobson.

The cable chat shows will be focusing on a New York Times story today about Muslim-Americans feeling snubbed by Obama. Congressman Keith Ellison is quoted in the story as saying that he too, got the cold shoulder from the Obama campaign. Ironically, the same cable shows that will harp on this story today have been central to whipping up Americans' anti-Muslim hysteria, "war on terror" mythology, and even questions about Obama's faith. As Chuck Todd just said on MSNBC, apparently paraphrasing Mike Barnacle, imagine how the mainstream media would erupt if Obama did visit a mosque. Just close your eyes and imagine the Fox News coverage alone...

Also in the Times, Zimbabwe continues to ride the handbasket to hell, with the opposition candidate for president taking refuge in the Dutch embassy, and the U.N. doing what it does: calling for all parties to stop the violence. Thanks, Ban Ki Moon.

And the Times also has this interesting piece of news:
WASHINGTON — An American ambassador helped cover up the illegal Chinese origins of ammunition that a Pentagon contractor bought to supply Afghan security forces, according to testimony gathered by Congressional investigators.

A military attaché has told the investigators that the United States ambassador to Albania endorsed a plan by the Albanian defense minister to hide several boxes of Chinese ammunition from a visiting reporter. The ammunition was being repackaged to disguise its origins and shipped from Albania to Afghanistan by a Miami Beach arms-dealing company.

The ambassador, John L. Withers II, met with the defense minister, Fatmir Mediu, hours before a reporter for The New York Times was to visit the American contractor’s operations in Tirana, the Albanian capital, according to the testimony. The company, under an Army contract, bought the ammunition to supply Afghan security forces although American law prohibits trading in Chinese arms.

The attaché, Maj. Larry D. Harrison II of the Army, was one of the aides attending the late-night meeting, on Nov. 19, 2007. He told House investigators that Mr. Mediu asked Ambassador Withers for help, saying he was concerned that the reporter would reveal that he had been accused of profiting from selling arms. The minister said that because he had gone out of his way to help the United States, a close ally, “the U.S. owed him something,” according to Major Harrison.

Mr. Mediu ordered the commanding general of Albania’s armed forces to remove all boxes of Chinese ammunition from a site the reporter was to visit, and “the ambassador agreed that this would alleviate the suspicion of wrongdoing,” Major Harrison said, according to his testimony.

Investigators interviewed Major Harrison by telephone on June 9, and the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee made excerpts of the transcript public on Monday.

At the time of the meeting, the company, AEY Inc., was under investigation for illegal arms trafficking involving Chinese ammunition.
AEY is an interesting company. It's CEO is just 22 years old. The leg work on the case was done by the great Henry Waxman, who "invited" the young CEO to testify before the House Government Oversight Committee back in April. (Little Efraim Diveroli's Army contract was suspended a month before the hearings.) So how does a 22-year-old get a $300 million defense contract? His dad:
AEY Inc. was founded in 1999 by Michael Diveroli, Efram's father. Michael Diveroli now operates a police supply company down the street from AEY's office.
More on Little Efraim, and his interesting history (and rap sheet) from TPM Muckraker back in March. Apparently, Michael has a new company now, Worldwide Tactical, which sells police and military uniforms, and which is registered with the federal government as "minority owned..." Apparently, the father is continuing the practices of his "former" company, falsely labeling his companies as "small disadvantaged businesses" to gain more contracting opportunities.

Over to the Washington Post, where the paper's top story online is the four Americans killed in a Sadr City explosion in Iraq.
A bombing inside a local government office in Baghdad killed two American soldiers and two civilians on Tuesday, the second attack in a week that the U.S. military has blamed on rogue Shiite "special groups" linked to Iran.

The blast, inside a district council office in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, also killed six Iraqis and wounded ten others, according to preliminary reports.

In an initial news release, U.S. officials did not provide details about the two civilians who were killed. The Reuters and Associated Press news agencies, attributing the information to an official at the U.S. embassy in Iraq, said that one of the civilians worked for the State Department and the other for the Defense Department.

They were attending a meeting of the local District Advisory Council in a section of Sadr City that was brought under U.S. and Iraqi military control after sometimes intense fighting earlier this year. The councils are part of a U.S. campaign to build the authority of local government throughout the country, an effort that has accelerated in other parts of Iraq as violence has ebbed.
The Bush administration's reaction should set at least some of your hair on fire, because they appear to be systematically laying the groundwork for an attack on Iran, which they hope to be able to label as "retaliation":
The release also made clear who the U.S. feels is responsible -- one of the Iranian-backed Shiite "special groups" that some officials consider a significant long term threat to Iraq's stability.
Except that Iran and Iraq are now friendlier than they have ever been, and friendlier than either country is with us...

The WaPo also reports on the upcoming meeting in Unity, New Hampshire between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, and on Obama's moves to court women voters (whom he's already winning in most polls, but no matter! The story must go on!)

The Wall Street Journal's Susan Davis reports on Barack's tack to the center, which is irritating some left-leaning groups, like MoveOn.org. Could such a fight help Obama in the swing states? Writes Davis:
The latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, conducted in early June, showed that 58% of voters perceive Sen. Obama as a liberal and 24% view him as a moderate. In contrast, 34% view Sen. McCain as a moderate and 48% see him as a conservative.

To be sure, the predominant view among party leaders is that a turn toward the center is smart politics, and that Sen. Obama's willingness to buck the left wing on issues such as the spy bill signals he is maneuvering to fight Sen. McCain directly for voters in the middle of the political spectrum.

"I applaud it," a senior Democratic lawmaker said. "By standing up to MoveOn.org and the ACLU, he's showing, I think, maybe the first example of demonstrating his ability to move to the center. He's got to make the center comfortable with him. He can't win if the center isn't comfortable."



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posted by JReid @ 8:22 AM  
ReidBlog: The Obama Interview
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