Dispatches > The Buzz

The Buzz

"The Buzz" Continued...

Issue: "Summer of '68," Aug. 9, 2008

River of red ink

The White House announced last week that the fiscal year 2009 budget deficit would jump to $482 billion. Democrats pounced on the report, arguing that the record number is the result of an irresponsible president, but Bush budget director Jim Nussle was quick to point out that a large portion of the red ink came from the bipartisan "stimulus" plan with its $150 billion in tax rebates. Nussle also noted that the deficit is 3.3 percent of gross domestic product, not far from the norm over the past 30 years. The deficit figure does not include $80 billion in war funding that is considered off budget.

Access denied

The Beijing Games organizing committee has reneged on an earlier promise that the 20,000 journalists covering the Olympic Games would receive unfettered internet access. The Chinese government routinely censors websites it considers politically or socially incorrect, but visiting media had received assurance that they would not encounter such blockades. International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge had previously counted that allowance among the achievements of his "silent diplomacy."

Now, journalists have begun complaining that their jobs are exceedingly more difficult without access to sites like that of Amnesty International, which highlights human-rights issues in China. Mark Allison, an East Asia researcher for Amnesty International, accuses the IOC of caving to China on the matter: "This blatant media censorship adds one more broken promise that undermines the claim that the Games would help improve human rights in China."

Kevan Gosper, chairman of the IOC's press commission, admitted to the Reuters news service that "IOC officials negotiated with the Chinese that some sensitive sites would be blocked on the basis they were not considered Games-
related." That kind of backpedaling is undermining original ideals about the power of Olympism to transform China.

Movement to McCain

Barack Obama is making headlines with his outreach efforts to evangelicals, but John McCain may be making more headway. The Arizona senator and members of his campaign have met with dozens of high-profile evangelical leaders over the past several months, a drive now paying off in endorsements. Tim and Beverly LaHaye, Wendy Wright of Concerned Women for America, David Barton of WallBuilders, Mat Staver of Liberty Counsel, and Phil Burress of the Ohio-based Citizens for Community Values are among the names lining up behind the presumptive Republican nominee.

Burress, who changed his mind on McCain after a private meeting with the GOP candidate, says more in-depth knowledge of the two presidential contenders will press many more evangelical heavyweights into McCain's camp soon-most notably Focus on the Family's James Dobson. "I believe he will eventually come out to support McCain, whether that's more for McCain or against Obama, because there's too much at stake here," Burress told WORLD. "And when Dr. Dobson speaks and finally endorses McCain, that will be the green light for the entire movement."

Dobson opened up the possibility of endorsing McCain on a July 21 radio broadcast: "I never thought I would hear myself saying this," he said. ". . . While I am not endorsing Sen. John McCain, the possibility is there that I might."

McCain's selection of a running mate could put a kink in those plans were he to choose a candidate fuzzy on the abortion issue such as Gov. Charlie Crist of Florida. But Burress, who believes McCain needs to talk about social issues more on the campaign trail, is confident that the vice presidential pick will reflect conservative values: "We were basically assured by his staff that there's no way in the world that he would pick a pro-abortion candidate."

In the Saddleback

Pastor Rick Warren will interview presidential contenders John McCain and Barack Obama on stage at his Southern California megachurch Aug. 16. The bestselling author of The Purpose Driven Life intends to question the candidates on matters of compassion and leadership. Obama and McCain will appear in succession for one hour each with a few minutes of overlap in between.

Warren told WORLD's Joel Belz that the platform he is providing the candidates is quite different from his pulpit at Saddleback Community Church-from which he expects to preach that same weekend about Christians' responsibility in the current election cycle. But Warren says he also wants, in a smaller and more private setting, to provide an opportunity for the candidates to hear from and speak to a variety of about 30 religious leaders.

Pew count

The Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life released results of a survey on gender and church attendance this summer. The findings: Women go to church more than men. That reality hardly qualifies as news for many ministers who have long since launched campaigns directed at correcting the imbalance. In fact, the new numbers suggest such efforts may be working.

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