Friday, May 17, 2013
President Obama is working hard to appear focused on any and everything other than the scandals that have plagued his administration this week. Sexual assaults in the military, violence in Syria and the still sluggish U.S. economy are all preferred focuses next to the Department of Justice's Associated Press probe, Benghazi, and the IRS witch hunt against conservative groups.
The White House has taken one hit after another and forced to play defense. Rain falling on the president's Rose Garden press conference with Turkish Prime Minister Erdogen Thursday served as optical icing on the cake.
Part of the president's problem is he's appeared to be a spectator to the scandals coming out of his administration. He claims to have learned about certain things in the news "just like everyone else". That in itself is a problem. Most Americans want their commander-in-chief to know about the things going on in his house before it's printed the next day in the newspaper (and I say paper because the president reportedly rarely watches TV news).
On the IRS scandal, Mr. Obama says he's "outraged", but it's hard to believe. Outrage isn't B.O.'s M.O. He's steady, patient, focused on the ultimate goal. Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank this week referred to him as the "uninterested president", a title that seems to fit.
Friday, May 10, 2013
The Boston Marathon bombings didn't just affect the city, they've revived terror fears across the United States, impacting political debates from national security to immigration.
But it's also sparked questions about privacy as America slips closer to a surveillance society.
Watch CBN News Capitol Hill Correspondent John Jessup's report below:
Friday, May 03, 2013
From near and far, people packed the halls of the United States Capitol to "Pray for America," the motto for this year's annual observance.
Watch CBN News Capitol Hill Correspondent John Jessup's report below:
Tuesday, April 23, 2013
"BREAKING: Two explosions in the White House and Barack Obama is injured."
That's the Tweet that appeared on The Associated Press Twitter feed early Tuesday afternoon. MAJOR NEWS, right?
Thankfully it was a hoax. There were no explosions inside the White House and President Obama was not harmed.
Unfortunately, it was the work of a hacker who gained control of the AP's Twitter account. The hack- job was preceded by phishing attempts on the AP's corporate network.
No harm done? Not quite. The Associated Press is followed by nearly 2 million Twitter users. So as soon as those 71 characters were read by followers all over the world, the Dow Jones Industrial Average took a sharp, albeit brief, dip.
The AP's Twitter account has been suspended while the news giant works with Twitter to determine what went wrong.
Thursday, April 18, 2013
Beltway Buzz recently interviewed Gov. Scott Walker who told us, "Conservatives think with our heads, but that's how we communicate, which is great from a process standpoint, but we need to talk about things from our heart."
If he wasn't occupied as Wisconsin's governor, Walker could make lots of money running communications for Republicans. In fact, the G-O-P could use a few (or any) folks in their communications department who think like Walker. However, he's only spouting what broadcast journalism students learned in Journalism 101, "emotion is powerful, use it in your soundbites."
Think about the last time you saw a news story that included a person getting emotional? What did the cameraman (or woman) do? He or she slowly zoomed in. Why? Because emotion is powerful! It makes good TV!
President Obama and his team of communications experts know this. Correction: they own this!
Hours before the U.S. Senate voted on legislation to strengthen background checks for gun purchases, White House Spokesman Jay Carney was asked about characterizations of Newtown families being used as "props" by the president. Carney sharply shot back, "the Newtown families aren't here for the President. They're here because their children were murdered."
Isn't there an equally emotional argument to be made for people who weren't murdered because of their right to self defense? Of because a stranger nearby happened to have a gun and was able to help?
The sad reality is that the background check legislation, that failed to pass the Senate, would not have saved even one of the victims at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
Still, after the Senate vote Mark Barden, father of 7- year- old Daniel who was gunned down in his classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School, was standing in the Rose Garden with the President of the United States expressing his disappointment and vowing to continue to fight.
The debate over gun restrictions and background checks in this country is an important one. However, those who oppose changes to the law will continue to look like heartless, trigger-happy, knuckle-heads until they learn to play the game that pulls on the strings of the heart.
Friday, April 12, 2013
It was November 1950 and Army Chaplain Emil Kapaun expected the war would soon be over. What he didn't know was Chinese forces were planning a surprise attack: some 20,000 Chinese fighting just a few thousand Americans.
As bullets flew, Chaplain Kapaun, or "Father" as his men called him, rushed from wounded to wounded soldier offering comfort and medical support. His commander ordered an evacuation, but Father Kapaun stayed behind. As fighting continued, he found a wounded Chinese soldier and convinced him to help negotiate a peaceful surrender for his men.
As the Chinese rounded up American soldiers to move them to a prisoner camp, Father Kapaun noticed a wounded American lying in a ditch. As a Chinese soldier raised his gun to shoot the man Father Kapaun knocked the soldier down, picked up the wounded American and carried him four miles to the prisoner camp.
The man Father Kapaun saved is named Herb Miller. He's one of the people who had the privilege of watching President Obama award the Medal of Honor to Roman Catholic Chaplain Kapaun posthumously at the White House this week.
After being taken as a prisoner of war, Father Kapaun continued to take care of his men physically and spiritually. He gave them his food, made pots to boil water and washed his men's clothing when dysentery set in.
He held prayer services, even an Easter service during which he donned the purple stole President Obama is holding in the picture below. The photo was taken shortly before the president awarded the medal to Father Kapaun.
Watch as President Obama honors Chaplain Emil Kapaun.
The Diocese of Wichita and the Vatican have begun the formal process that could lead to Father Kapaun's canonization.
Friday, April 05, 2013
Easter Sunday has come and gone, but the eternal truth of the Easter story for Christians doesn't fade after one Sunday. The fact is, we as Christians, celebrate and serve a risen Savior 365 days a year.
So, perhaps it's fitting that the White House Easter Prayer Breakfast was scheduled one week after Good Friday.
In the White House East Room, about 150 pastors and Christian leaders attended.
President Obama thanked his guests for their "good works" and shared his thoughts about his recent trip to the Holy Land, highlighting his visit to Bethlehem's Church of the Nativity and the many others who visited the site seeking to follow Christ's example.
"In these sacred days, those of us as Christians remember the tremendous sacrifice Jesus made for each of us," he said. "How, in all His humility and His grace, He took on the sins of the world and extended the gift of salvation."
He also encouraged the White House guests to recommit themselves to Jesus's example and teachings.
"While our time on Earth is fleeting, His life is eternal," said President Obama. "This morning, let us pray we are worthy of His many blessings. That this nation is worthy of His many blessings."
Vice-President Joe Biden introduced the president. During his opening remarks, he discussed faith's role in fostering unity and mutual support.
Referring to Matthew 25 in the New Testament, Biden described a guiding philosophy of the Obama White House.
"One of the things that I think at least the President and I believe has been the essence of this administration is the most animating principle of the administration has been just that: to look out for the least among us," Biden said. "Those are the values that I know that the President -- and I personally know -- the President holds extremely close to his heart."
Per the White House, the breakfast is a tradition that started in 2010 and is "an opportunity for the president to personally honor Easter and the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
Some of the scheduled guests included Dr. Joel Hunter, of Northland Church; Bishop T.D. Jakes, of the Potter's House; Sister Simone Campbell, NETWORK; Archbishop Demetrios, Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America; and Dr. Leith Anderson, with the National Association of Evangelicals.
Last weekend, during his weekly address, Mr. Obama offered a more personal account of what Easter means to him.
"As Christians, my family and I remember the incredible sacrifice Jesus made for each and every one of us - how He took on the sins of the world and extended the gift of salvation. And we recommit ourselves to following His example here on Earth. To loving our Lord and Savior. To loving our neighbors. And to seeing in everyone, especially 'the least of these,' as a child of God."
Monday, April 01, 2013
Despite clouds and drizzle on Easter Sunday, the first family walked out of the White House and across Lafayette Park to attend St. John's Episcopal Church. The church has been frequented by Obama and other presidents through the years, and as is tradition, the Obamas sat in Pew 54.
Rev. Luis Leon, who participated in the inaugural ceremonies of both Presidents Obama and George W. Bush, delivered a sermon about not holding on to the past. As Jesus told Mary not to hold on to the past, he preached, "you cannot go back."
He went on to say, "It drives me crazy when the captains of the religious right are always calling us back....for blacks to be back in the back of the bus...for women to be back in the kitchen...for immigrants to be back on their side of the border."
The thing is, Beltway Buzz knows racism and sexism are alive and well in this country, but accusing an entire group of people of calling for "blacks to be back in the back of the bus" and "women to be back in the kitchen" is pretty extreme, especially on a day Christians celebrate the resurrection of their loving Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
White House Spokesman Jay Carney was asked about this quote but says he wasn't there and didn't have any reaction from President Obama to share.
Friday, March 22, 2013
Despite intense scrutiny and harsh criticism, the State Department remains silent on the plight of religious minorities in Iran, and in particular, the case of imprisoned American Pastor Saeed Abedini.
***UPDATE: Secretary of State John Kerry releases a statement calling for Saeed Abeini's release. Click here to read more***
Last week, Rep. Frank Wolfe, R-Va., co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, convened a hearing that highlighted the Iranian regime's discrimination and persecution of religious observers of Baha'i, Sufi Islam, and Christianity.
The commission invited the State Department to send a witness. When no one showed, Wolfe ordered the record to remain open for one week to allow the agency to file a response. At the time of this entry, the State Department had not contacted the commission to update the record.
Pastor Saeed has been in Iranian custody since last July. In January, Iran's "hanging judge" sentenced him to eight years in one of the country's most brutal prisons. His crime? He was charged with threatening Iran's national security, but his wife and lawyers say he's really in trouble because of his Christian faith.
With her voice shuttering before the hearing's packed audience, Pastor Saeed's wife, Naghmeh, described breaking the news to their two young children that their "daddy was in prison because he loves Jesus."
While the European Union and United Nations have called for Abedini's release, the White House and State Department have been virtually "AWOL," to quote one member at the hearing.
Perhaps the State Department has a legitimate and compelling reason to avoid making a forceful public statement about Pastor Saeed's case. However, its silence, coupled by its lack of assistance to the Abedini family, seems only to suggest that either it's afraid or unwilling to engage.
Until we ultimately hear from someone, we cannot determine whether it's the former or latter - or, giving them the benefit of doubt, an entirely different reason.
Meanwhile, Pastor Saeed, an American citizen since 2010, remains in prison, beaten and bleeding internally - unwilling to renounce his faith in Christ in exchange for his freedom.
Hear what Pastor Saeed's wife says about his unwavering faith:
For Naghmeh, their two children, and human rights supporters around the world, his resolve and conviction are stronger than any statement the administration can ever make.
Thursday, March 14, 2013
President Obama has picked a woman to fill the vacancy at the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborghood Partnerships.
Melissa Rogers comes to Washington from Wake Forest university where she led the Center for Religion and Public Affairs. She's also worked as an attorney for the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.
In a statement to Beltway Buzz Rogers says, "I'm honored to be able to serve President Obama by forging and promoting a wide range of effective partnerships with faith-based and secular nonprofits that help people in need."
She replaces Joshua DuBois who recently stepped down from the post where he served four years.
Rogers will focus her attention on policy goals that include reducing unintended pregnancies, promoting responsible fatherhood and improving interfaith dialogue.