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Monday, May 31, 2010

Great Lawn

The Great Lawn at Central Park, Memorial Day.


Almost enough to get me to move back to New York City, even though there are people.

Almost.

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Useful Idiots Condemn Israel

The left-wing blogosphere is full of useful idiots, who pretend that the flotilla which just was stopped by Israel was a humanitarian mission.

The flotilla was organized by the Islamist government in Turkey to aid Hamas with the goal of opening up shipping channels for Turkey's new friend, Iran, to ship more and better weapons as it is doing to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Iran is busy turning Lebanon and Syria into one large missile launching pad against Israel, and a southern base in Gaza will complete the encirclement of Israel for the coming crisis over Iran's nuclear program.

The Europeans on the ships were cover, and the placement of an 18-month old child on these ships was the utmost cynical use of a human shield.

If getting humanitarian supplies to Gaza really was the goal, this flotilla was not necessary. The supplies would have been off-loaded in Eqypt or Israel and then shipped in by land after being checked for hidden weapons.

And that is the rub, only sea-based shipping would provide Iran with the mechanism for almost unlimited armament of Hamas. There is a limit to the quantity and size of missiles and other armaments which can be smuggled through tunnels from Egypt. That is why the sea blockade must be broken for Iran to get what it wants.

But the useful idiots (no offense to idiots) in the left-wing blogosphere ignore this reality, and use the incident for their ultimate goal, which is the cut off of U.S. support for Israel.

Funny how the left-wing blogs always seem to take the side of Islamists against Israel, and pretend that Israeli self-defense takes place in a vacuum:

  • Glenn Greenwald is today's Most Useful Idiot, for not only condemning Israel in absurd terms, but trying to blame Israel for a host of domestic U.S. problems: "As Americans suffer extreme cuts in education for their own children and a further deterioration in basic economic security (including Social Security), will they continue to acquiesce to the transfer of billions of dollars every year to the Israelis, who -- unlike Americans -- enjoy full, universal health care coverage?"
  • John Cole is not far behind Greenwald, not even trying to hide his goal of cutting off U.S. support for Israel, as if he needed this incident to make this argument: "BTW- can we have a Stupak amendment so I am no longer paying for this? That is how it works, right? All you have to do is cite your personal morals and you can get things you don’t like unfunded, right?"
  • Think Progress (it really doesn't matter which blogger, they are fungible) compares the flotilla to the civil rights marchers of the 1960s: "Like segregation in the American South, the siege of Gaza (and the entire Israeli occupation, for that matter) is a moral abomination that should be intolerable to anyone claiming progressive values. It’s sad that it should require the deaths of non-Palestinians to finally shake the international community from apathy and inaction, but, as with the tragic murders of Goodman, Chaney, and Schwerner, if it contributes to ending the situation then that’s a positive outcome."

This is just some quick low-hanging fruit. In comparison, Juan Cole -- often the first to go off the Israel-bashing deep end -- seems downright reasonable in his analysis that there may have been an overreaction by both sides.

What don't these fools understand about the fact that they are being used, and using themselves, to support the Iranian backed Islamist movements which want only to destroy Israel.

Or maybe they do understand.

Updates:
John Hawkins has even more reaction from the blogosphere.
Doug Ross, exposes Gaza 'Humanitarian' Flotilla: a Ruse for a 'Martyrdom Operation'
The New Ledger, Blood Libel Against Israel analyzes the video showing the peaceful "activists" trying to kill Israelis as they boarded the ship:



Meanwhile, Palestinian Media Watch has the video showing the peaceful intent and high-minded thoughts of those freedom-loving flotilla participants:



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Related Posts:
Gaza Human Shields and The Turkey Problem
Another Dangerous Moral Equivalency
Another Warning on Turkey's Islamist Slide

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Gaza Human Shields and The Turkey Problem

The United States has a major problem in Turkey, which under increasingly authoritarian Islamist rule, has become a primary player in undermining U.S. policy in the Middle East, not to mention a growing antagonist of Israel.

I have posted on Turkey's Islamist government before. The ploy recently to announce a farce agreement (along with Brazil) to reprocess some Iranian nuclear materials as a means of helping Iran avoid international sanctions, was a deliberate attempt to undermine the United States efforts against Iran.

Now, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Islamist political party along with the Turkish government helped organize the flotilla trying to break the Israeli military blockade of Gaza.

Let's be clear, this flotilla had nothing to do with humanitarian supplies, which could have been shipped by land. The flotilla, if successful, would have opened the door to military supplies to Hamas concealed in later shipments.

Iranian desire to turn Gaza into the equivalent of the Hezbollah missile arsenal was the real purpose of the flotilla, with European useful idiots tagging along. That Turkey played a leading role as proxy for Iran in breaking the blockade is yet another sign that Turkey's growing alignment with Iran is a harbinger of bad things to come.

The flotilla was a collective human shield operation in which civilians, including reportedly including an 18 month old child, were put on the ships either to dissuade the Israelis from stopping the ships, or alternatively, to create an international incident. Prior to the flotilla launching, the leader of Hamas announced that it would be a triumph regardless of whether the flotilla landed or was stopped by Israel.

And it worked. While the exact death toll is not known as of this writing, when the Israelis attempted to board the ships, they were attacked and at least several passengers were killed.

Turkey is threatening reprisals because one of the main ships boarded, and reportedly some of the dead, were Turkish. Turkey is fast becoming a front line state in the proxy war against the West being waged against Israel.

Under its Islamist government, Turkey has become an anti-American and anti-Israeli provocateur in the Middle East. We better own up to the problem, before it is too late, if it is not already too late.

Update: Carl at Israel Matzav, who posts videotape of Israeli warnings to the ships (and also the video below), puts it this way:

Turkey has recalled its ambassador to Israel. Good. It's time to stop the bluff that Turkey has anything but warlike intentions toward us.

Bottom line: These people committed an act of war - arguably on behalf of the Turkish government.



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Related Posts:
Another Dangerous Moral Equivalency
Another Warning on Turkey's Islamist Slide
Turkey is Lost to Islamists

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Why Is Gail Collins Afraid of "Illegals"?

The Gail Collins, in an otherwise humorous column Alabama Goes Viral, plays a sleight of hand when quoting the now famous television advertisement by Dale Peterson, running for Alabama Agricultural Commissioner.

Here is Collins' description (emphasis mine):
This is the start of Peterson’s campaign ad. He rides into the screen on a horse that looks increasingly worried as things progress. Brandishing a rifle, the 64-year-old farmer barks at the camera about his opponent (“a dummy”), somebody stealing his yard signs and immigrants being “bused in by the thousands.” The overall effect is like being cornered at a party by an eccentric neighbor who thinks the garbage man is spying on him for the federal government. It’s extremely popular.
But Collins didn't quote the video correctly. Peterson actually said "illegals bused in by the thousands." [Added: Actually, I'm not sure he says "bused in" but rather "bust in." Anyone out there who speaks Southern and can clarify that for me?]

Collins' rendition makes it appear that Peterson was against all immigrants, when in fact his words spoke only of illegal immigrants.

What is The Gail Collins afraid of? Words, just words?

I hope she's not out stealing Peterson's yard signs.



Update: Hey, this is turning into something sociological. Kudos to many of the commenters for pointing out The Gail Collins assumed the term was "bused in" because of Collins' subliminal assumption that white people in the South must complain about "busing" because busing was the point of grievance for some whites in the Northeast in the 1970s. The busing riots in Southie (Boston) when I was growing up (not in Southie) are vivid in my mind from the television coverage.

Thanks also to reader Ray from San Diego for this translation:

I don't have an account that allows me to post comments so here is the answer to your question.

Your question: Actually, I'm not sure he says "bused in" but rather "bust in." Anyone out there who speaks Southern and can clarify that for me?

Here is what he said: "...illegals bust in by the thousands..."

Here is the translation to Yankee-speak: "...illegals are breaking into the country by the thousands..."


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Mutually Assured Desalination

The NY Times' headline writer got it wrong, The Hard Sell On Salt, which purported to show how the salt industry was manipulating public opinion and regulations on restricting salt:
With salt under attack for its ill effects on the nation’s health, the food giant Cargill kicked off a campaign last November to spread its own message.
But read on, and it become clear that it's really an easy sell.

People love salt. And industry really is just giving people what they want, and how they want it:

Now, the industry is blaming consumers for resisting efforts to reduce salt in all foods, pointing to, as Kellogg put it in a letter to a federal nutrition advisory committee, “the virtually intractable nature of the appetite for salt.” ....

In recent months, food companies, including Kellogg, have said they were redoubling efforts to reduce salt. But they say they can go only so far, so fast without compromising tastes consumers have come to relish or salt’s ability to preserve food. “We have to earn the consumer’s trust every day,” said George Dowdie, a senior vice president of Campbell Soup. “And if you disappoint the consumer, there is no guarantee they will come back.”

Needless to say, the food police want the government to force food companies to cut back salt in food, as I've mentioned before.

I think we need another SALT summit, where industry, consumers and the government can negotiate a salt reduction treaty, thereby moving us from the currently unacceptable MAS (Mutually Assured Satisfaction) to MAD (Mutually Assured Desalination) in our lifetimes.

No longer should we have to live with the Salt of Damocles hanging over our heads.

Repeat after me: No Más MAS! No Más MAS! Drive us MAD! Drive us MAD!

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Related Posts:
The Upside Of Salt Regulation - Job Creation
Leave Our Salt Alone

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Early Sunday Morning In New York

Many moons ago, when I worked in Manhattan, I always enjoyed early Sunday mornings, because there were few people and even fewer cars.

I'm in NYC this weekend for a wedding, and walked over to Park Avenue.

In the photo, the Waldorf Astoria on the left, looking south towards the MetLife Building (which always will be the Pan Am Building to me) and Grand Central Station.

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Saturday, May 29, 2010

Saturday Night Card Game (Gawker -Think Progress Tag Team)

This is the latest in a series on the use of the race card for political gain:

Hey, did you hear the one where Bill O'Reilly called a black professor a drug dealer? What a racist.

At least that is what Gawker wanted you to believe, in its post Bill O'Reilly Tells Black Guest He Looks Like a Drug Dealer (italics in original):

Marc Lamont Hill is the black Liberal Columbia professor who for some reason is always on The O'Reilly Factor. Tonight's episode made Hill's presence even more puzzling, because Bill O'Reilly told him that he looks like someone who sells drugs.

The two were happily discussing Obama's dumb plan to send 1200 troops who will secure the entire Mexican border against illegal immigrants. Then O'Reilly joked: Say you're a cocaine dealer—and you kind of look like one a little bit." To which Hill replied, gamely: "As do you... you know, you actually look like a cocaine user."

Dang, O'Reilly, having black commentators is supposed to make you look less racist. Unless O'Reilly was talking about Hill's spiffy pinstripe suit. Like, how could you afford such a nice suit unless you were selling drugs? That's probably it.

But watch the video (below), and it is clear that there was no racial motive or intent. The two were joking around with each other. The post title, and the entire thrust of the post, was to paint O'Reilly as being a racist without supporting facts.

The folks at Think Progress must have felt like manna had just dropped from heaven when they saw the Gawker post. Writer Lee Fong linked to Gawker with a post titled O’Reilly tells African-American Columbia University professor that he looks like a ‘cocaine dealer.’

To make sure the reader didn't mistake this banter for banter, Think Progress claimed that "O’Reilly is no stranger to racial stereotypes and inflammatory racial rhetoric." The examples cited by Think Progress were as valid as the Gawker post.

This is how they do it. Take a clearly non-racially motivated comment, quote the comment with the fact that it was made to a black person, and then make the allegation of racism.



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Related Posts:
Saturday Night Card Game
Tea Parties Are Not Racist and Think Progress Is Not Homophobic
Think Progress Targets Scott Brown Over IRS Plane Attack

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Sestak Questions of the Day

1. Why did it take until after the Pennsylvania Senate primary for details regarding the offer made to Joe Sestak, and the use of Bill Clinton as the conduit, to leak out?

2. Would it have made a difference in the primary? (Did I just answer the first question?)

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Teachers Need A Teachable Moment About Their Unions

Another "emergency" and pending "catastrophe" is being used to justify more federal government spending to support unsustainable teachers' union contracts:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says President Obama "absolutely supports" a congressional proposal for $23 billion in emergency education spending in order to stave off teacher layoffs and cancellation of summer classes.

Duncan told CNN Wednesday that the emergency spending request is needed to head off "an education catastrophe, "in which as many as 300-thousand teachers across the country could be laid off.

Duncan also said that without the extra spending, some school districts will be forced to eliminate summer school and after-school programs.

The real numbers, as usual, are fuzzy:
How many of the estimated 3.3 million public school teachers nationwide will lose their jobs remains unknown. Duncan often says 100,000 to 300,000 education jobs are at risk, including support staff.
Notice how quickly "100,000 to 300,000" became 300,000? Notice how "support staff" became "teachers"? Notice how possible layoffs became definite layoffs?

Even The Washington Post Editors sees the folly of this "emergency" spending and the numbers-games, Obama's shallow plan to spend $23 billion on education:

Its sponsors on Capitol Hill have labeled it "emergency" legislation, worthy of exemption from President Obama's anti-deficit pay-as-you-go rules. But it's certainly not a uniquely effective way to stimulate the economy. [Chrisina] Romer [chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers] suggests on the opposite page today that keeping teachers at work will enable them to maintain their spending, thus supporting economic growth -- and saving on unemployment benefits and the like. The real question is whether this bill promotes more growth than other possible uses of $23 billion. Ms. Romer did not explain why retaining teachers stimulates the economy better than retaining, say, construction workers. Nor does she weigh the costs and benefits of not borrowing another $23 billion from China....

Officials have issued more than 100,000 layoff notices, according to data compiled by teachers unions. The unions predict layoffs could go as high as 300,000. It's hard to imagine losing that many teachers without some damage to learning.

But that many teachers almost certainly are not going to lose their jobs. For technical reasons, school districts must send notices in the spring to more teachers than they actually expect to let go in the fall. What's more, the unions' 300,000 estimate includes not only classroom teachers in kindergarten through 12th grade but also support staff and college professors. The bill would distribute money to states according to their population, not expected layoffs; states where no layoffs are imminent would get checks anyway, and the majority of states would receive more than they could possibly need to avoid layoffs. The Senate version of the bill permits them to spend the excess on other things.

We have seen this movie before:

Republicans and some Democrats say the government can't afford an extension of last year's economic stimulus that would add to the federal deficit. The stimulus law kept many school budgets afloat with $49 billion in direct aid to states and billions of dollars more for various programs. But the stimulus funding is trailing off before state and local tax revenue can recover from the recession.

Skeptics of a new education jobs fund point out that the teaching force in recent years has grown faster than enrollment, with schools adding instructional coaches and reducing class sizes.

Spending more without serious reforms to teacher union contracts, particularly pension and other benefits, will not solve anything:

Some leaders of local teachers unions continue to earn credit in the state pension system — boosting their payout at retirement — even though they haven't taught students in years.

The heads of the Bergen County Education Association, Passaic County Education Associations and Paterson Education Association, for example, have all taken extended leaves from school duties, but state records show each is still paid at least $97,000 by his district. The unions reimburse the districts for their salaries, a legal maneuver that allows them to build up time — and cash — in the pension system.

In one unusual arrangement, James L. Joyner, a vice president for the Paterson local, said he has worked full time for the union for the past seven years, but the union does not reimburse the district for his pay. State pension records put his 2009 salary at $97,269.

In Rhode Island, most locals of the National Education Association of Rhode Island (NEARI), one of the main teachers' unions, refused to support the State of Rhode Island's application for federal Race to the Top funding because it would have required reforms.

The list goes on and on.

Teachers need to learn a thing or two about the damage their unions are doing to teachers, who are paying and will pay the price when local municipalities are pushed to the brink because of unsustainable union contracts. Just ask Central Falls, Rhode Island.

If the $23 billion "emergency" funding fails to pass, teachers should use it as a teachable moment, for themselves, about the disastrous path on which they are being led by their union leaderships.

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Related Posts:
Has First Public Sector Union Domino Fallen?
Unions Pushing States Toward Broken Promises

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Sestak-Rahm-Bubba

Like clockwork, I get in the car for the 6 hour drive from Ithaca to Rhode Island, and news hits the fan.

This time, the revelation that the White House enlisted Bill Clinton to do the dirty work of getting Joe Sestak to drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate primary in exchange for a position on a presidential board.

My first impressions:
  • Whatever his prior accomplishments, Sestak is not ready for prime time. He made unequivocal statements that he was offered a job, but now is equivocating and expressing surprise that it's a big deal. Did he not listen to television or read the papers prior to today? Why didn't he set the record straight. I just viewed Sestak's press conference, and it is clear that he viewed the offer as an offer, yet still refuses to see the significance.
  • The Obama administration memo supposedly vindicating the administration actually should be Exhibit A in a criminal case, because the White House admits to the offer and that it was for the purpose of convincing Sestak to withdraw.
  • How telling (there's a better word, I just can't think of it right now) that this White House got Bill Clinton involved.
  • How convenient the White House stalled until the Friday before a holiday weekend.
  • This White House is Nixonian in its Clintonian ability to parse words.
  • There likely was a crime committed here, and Republicans should not let this drop.
  • Eric Holder should appoint a special prosecutor, particularly since his former boss and his present boss are subjects of the investigation.
  • The "rule of law" is the last thing this administration thinks about.

I'll have more. For sure.

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No Bad Days

It's the Friday before Memorial Day weekend. No one really is expecting you to work.

So watch this video of the student speaker at Cornell Law School's graduation earlier this month, it's worth a few minutes out of your busy, important day. And you will be glad you did.

You need to watch the whole thing to get it. But if your boss is hovering around, and you value your job more than you value this blog, skip to 5:40.

For my prior post about the speaker, see Inspirational Story of the Day .

video

As we commemorate those who have fallen in service to this country, remember, No Bad Days.

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Can War Crimes Charges Be Far Off?

The U.N. is taking the first steps in a process which inevitably will lead to various U.N. agencies and international N.G.O.s claiming that the drone strikes ordered by the U.S. government constitute war crimes, as reported by The New York Times:

A senior United Nations official is expected to call on the United States next week to stop Central Intelligence Agency drone strikes against people suspected of belonging to Al Qaeda, complicating the Obama administration’s growing reliance on that tactic in Pakistan.

Philip Alston, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions, said Thursday that he would deliver a report on June 3 to the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva declaring that the “life and death power” of drones should be entrusted to regular armed forces, not intelligence agencies. He contrasted how the military and the C.I.A. responded to allegations that strikes had killed civilians by mistake.

While the U.N. has not taken the position yet that such attacks constitute war crimes, the U.S. government is concerned with where this process may lead:

In recent months, top lawyers for the State Department and the Defense Department have tried to square the idea that the C.I.A.’s drone program is lawful with the United States’ efforts to prosecute Guantánamo Bay detainees accused of killing American soldiers in combat, according to interviews and a review of military documents....

Mr. Alston, the United Nations official, said he agreed with the Obama legal team that “it is not per se illegal” under the laws of war for C.I.A. operatives to fire drone missiles “because anyone can stand up and start to act as a belligerent.” Still, he emphasized, they would not be entitled to battlefield immunity like soldiers.

I warned about this previously in Drone Strikes Put Obama Admin Officials At Risk, noting how the same Mr. Alston previously raised the issue of drone strikes constituting human rights violations:
"My concern is that drones/Predators are being operated in a framework which may well violate international humanitarian law and international human rights law," he said.
The use of human rights laws against democracies defending themselves against terrorists is a favorite tactic, and Israel is the usual target. The goal is to tie the hands of civil societies through false moral equivalencies, in which the terrorist trying to kill civilians is equated to the people trying to stop the terrorist.

Expect more of this, as the world becomes less enthralled with Obama, and seeks to give him some small measure of the attention given George W. Bush.

What goes around comes around, and it will come around for Obama and those in his administration who were so quick to accuse Bush and Cheney and Rumsfeld of violating international and domestic law as they struggled to find a means of stopping al-Qaeda.

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Related Posts:
The American Left Outsources The Spanish Inquisition
Did Obama Just Commit A War Crime?
Does A Spanish Jail Cell Await Obama?

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Big, Unfair House

Another rich person is building a house bigger than mine, right on the beach in my hometown, unlike my humble abode a few blocks in.

Terribly unfair. The owners obviously did not know that they had made enough money two blocks from the beach.

Can't we redistribute the waterfront lot to me? And throw in the house for spite? And give me a bailout to help pay the ginormous property taxes on beachfront property (my guess, 50k a year for this gem).

You know who else is really angry at this unfairness?

All the guys who own all the pickup trucks in the front yard, who are helping build the house. And all the factory workers who helped manufacture the products in the house. And the truckers who transported the stuff. And all the landscapers who will keep the place neat. And all the town employees whose salaries will be subsidized by the property taxes.

They would rather be on unemployment than let this rich person live in this big, unfair house.

Because fairness is the only thing which will get our economy started again and get people back to work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

The Atlantic Has A Mess On Its Hands

The Atlantic Magazine thought it would be able to speak poetic historical justice, by splashing the headline that the original reviled one, Kenneth Starr of Monica and Bill and Blue Dress and Impeachment fame, had been arrested for running a Ponzi Scheme.

Oh, the deep, deep satisfaction. They could feel it. But it was premature. And now The Atlantic editors have a mess on their hands.

Turns out that on the internet there is more than one Kenneth Starr, and the arrestee was not the tormentor of Bubba, but some guy with the name Kenneth Starr who ran a ponzi scheme.

You see, even crackerjack journalists sometimes forget that in the billions of people in the universe, there is a chance that two such people have the same name. And at Columbia School of Journalism, there is a special course on fact checking using Google and Yahoo. But someone at The Atlantic didn't take that course.

Here is The Atlantic's original announcement and correction:
Somewhere, Bill Clinton is smiling. One-time special prosecutor who uncovered the dirty details of the former President's affair with intern Monica Lewinsky has been engaged in some bad behavior of his own, according to the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission.

Correction (~3:18pm): Apparently there are two famous Kenneth Starrs. The one charged is an investment advisor to the stars, but not the former special prosecutor. Apologies to Bill Clinton if we got his hopes up -- and to the other Kenneth Starr.
I hope The Atlantic has learned a lesson all victims of fraud must learn: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.


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Arlen Scorned

This was completely unexpected:
Friends tell The Daily Beast that the departing senator, injured by Obama's failure to show last-minute support, may well shift right on key votes from Kagan to financial reform.
Except to those of us who are attuned to the human condition:


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Why Did No One Ever Think Of This Before?

I am glad to be living in a nation where we have visionary thinkers, who think up thing that never have been thought up before in the history of our nation:
Military superiority is not enough to maintain U.S. strength and influence in the world, and the United States must build global institutions and expand international partnerships beyond its traditional allies, according to a new national security strategy prepared by the Obama administration.
Why didn't anyone try this before?

The history of the world started on January 20, 2009.

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Left-Wing Epistemic Closure to Inconvenient History

There is a must read article at City Journal by author Claire Berlinski, A Hidden History of Evil - Why doesn’t anyone care about the unread Soviet archives?:
In the world’s collective consciousness, the word “Nazi” is synonymous with evil. It is widely understood that the Nazis’ ideology—nationalism, anti-Semitism, the autarkic ethnic state, the Führer principle—led directly to the furnaces of Auschwitz. It is not nearly as well understood that Communism led just as inexorably, everywhere on the globe where it was applied, to starvation, torture, and slave-labor camps. Nor is it widely acknowledged that Communism was responsible for the deaths of some 150 million human beings during the twentieth century. The world remains inexplicably indifferent and uncurious about the deadliest ideology in history.
Berlinksi points to two treasure troves of documentation which no major newspaper or publisher will touch (although kudos to The NY Times for linking to Berlinski's article):

Pavel Stroilov, a Russian exile in London, has on his computer 50,000 unpublished, untranslated, top-secret Kremlin documents, mostly dating from the close of the Cold War. He stole them in 2003 and fled Russia. Within living memory, they would have been worth millions to the CIA; they surely tell a story about Communism and its collapse that the world needs to know. Yet he can’t get anyone to house them in a reputable library, publish them, or fund their translation. In fact, he can’t get anyone to take much interest in them at all.

Then there’s Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky [my note, see my prior post], who once spent 12 years in the USSR’s prisons, labor camps, and psikhushkas—political psychiatric hospitals—after being convicted of copying anti-Soviet literature. He, too, possesses a massive collection of stolen and smuggled papers from the archives of the Central Committee of the Communist Party.... “I offer them free of charge to the most influential newspapers and journals in the world, but nobody wants to print them,” Bukovsky writes. “Editors shrug indifferently: So what? Who cares?”

Soviet history teaches us so much about human nature, and how flowery left-wing language about the working class inevitably turns repressive. Sometimes the repression is relatively mild, as in the West European socialist model, in which exhaustive regulation is the means of control; but in its most "successful" form, socialism turns into East European-style brutality.

Some historical narratives do not fit the current academic and political narrative of an evil and heartless capitalist United States. Which is why American Exceptionalism is anathema to our current ruling political class.

The American system of free enterprise, property rights, and personal freedoms as protected in our Constitution and its amendments, is the best model for bringing the most good to the greatest number of people with the least repression.

And I for one am not ashamed to say it. Now if only I could get our President to say it, too.

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Related Posts:
The Revolt of the Kulaks Has Begun
They Have Nothing To Fear, But Fear Itself
Has Marc Ambinder Gone Mad?

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"It Depends Upon What The Meaning of 'Job Offer' Is"

Joe Sestak says "I was offered a job" by someone senior in the Obama administration in exchange for getting out of the Democratic primary against Arlen Specter.

"Joe heard what he wanted to hear," said Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell on Greta last night (video below):
"And I believe Joe heard what he wanted to hear because, you know, he's a former admiral. And you know, when they said something like, This is something in your background or your experience level, he must have interpreted -- I guess the position at that time was open and it hadn't been filled."
Rendell, who seems to be the designated Democratic point man on Fox News, did not claim to have inside knowledge of what was said. But Rendell repeated that line of attack on Sestak several times during the interview, a clear talking point.

Rendell treated Joe Sestak the way the rest of us treat Joe Biden; that's just Joe being Joe, he says things, you know.

Rendell's talking point is similar to David Axelrod's statement that there was "no evidence" that conversations took place as related by Sestak, and Robert Gibbs statement that any conversations were "not inappropriate."

The White House is spinning a narrative that a conversation or conversations took place (because the fact of a conversation cannot be denied), but that there was a misunderstanding on the part of Sestak. Admit what cannot be denied, and muddle the rest based on imperfect memories and the frailty of human perception.

The story will go something like this: There may have been discussion of a "job," but it was only about what types of jobs might be appropriate for someone with Sestak's background; there never was an "offer" or "promise" of a specific "job."

The contortion necessary to paint Sestak as confused, but not a liar (which would be bad for the general election) explains why it is taking the White House so long to identify the person who didn't make the job offer and what was said that didn't constitute a job offer but might have been misunderstood as such by Sestak.

I was taught, and teach my students, that people who tell the truth don't need to remember which story to tell. Someone at the White House is trying to remember which story to tell.

And remembering which story to tell is all the more difficult here because of the possible criminal nature of the job offer. Politically, a huge mea culpa combined with a resignation might be enough. Legally, public contrition would be dangerous.

We appear to be heading towards a defense of "it depends upon what the meaning of 'job offer' is."



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Related Posts:
Admiral Sestak Needs Loose Lips To Save His Sinking Ship
A Clintonian Defense of Our Nixonian President
"I Did Not Serve In That Country, Vietnam"

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Mr. Creepy, Reporter

Travel plans once again took me away from the world most of the day, but I did catch a glimpse of Dave Weigel's piece, Sarah Palin's strange, unprofessional and paranoid grudge, in which he excoriates Sarah Palin for complaining that a reporter writing a book about her rented a house right next door to her Wasilla home.

There is something strange, unprofessional and paranoid going on here, but it's not Sarah Palin.

It's creepy Joe McGinness, the author in question. I don't care how many of his accomplishments you rattle off, McGinness has crossed a line.

Move to Alaska, fine. Move to Wasilla, fine. Move next door, so that the Palins have no privacy at their own home -- not fine.

In a follow up piece, lamenting the avalanche of e-mails, Weigel makes the distinction between Weigel -- a non-public figure -- and Palin. First of all, I'm not so sure that Weigel, who writes for WaPo, is not a public figure.

Regardless, I don't want someone moving next door to Weigel to report on him. Or next door to Obama, or any other of our public figures.

Greg Sargent, another WaPo blogger, was no better in the speed with which he jumped to the defense of McGinness and attacked Palin:
Yesterday Palin launched a bizarre and rambling attack on a journalist that by any standard should make us seriously pause. Her target was award-winning journalist Joe McGinniss, who has rented the house next door to her to research a book. The short version is that she suggested he might be peeping at her kids.
Considering the severity with which Palin's kids have been mocked by the media (see my various posts on the disgusting attacks on Trig Palin), why is this not a legitimate concern. Whatever happened to leaving the kids of politicians alone?

Even public figures are entitled to privacy in their own home. McGinness has breached that privacy.

To fail to understand this distinction is to fail to understand why Palin Derangement Syndrome is strange, unprofessional and paranoid.

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Admiral Sestak Needs Loose Lips To Save His Sinking Ship

Admiral Joe Sestak's political ship is sinking. Not from loose lips, but the opposite.

Sestak has stated more than once that someone in the Obama administration offered him a job if he would drop out of the Democratic primary against Arlen Specter.

But Sestak is sticking by the admonition that "loose lips sink ships." Sestak refuses to reveal who said what to whom, and who knew what when.

Has Sestak not studied history? This shall not stand.

Keep it up, and Sestak may end up on the receiving end of a special prosecutor, likely as witness not target, but one never can be too careful. Just ask Scooter Libby. (Eric Holder apparently is refusing to appoint a Special Prosecutor, but I do not expect that refusal to last.)

18 U.S.C. section 210 provides:
Whoever pays or offers or promises any money or thing of value,to any person, firm, or corporation in consideration of the use or promise to use any influence to procure any appointive office or place under the United States for any person, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both.
18 U.S.C. section 211 provides:
Whoever solicits or receives, either as a political contribution,or for personal emolument, any money or thing of value, inconsideration of the promise of support or use of influence in obtaining for any person any appointive office or place under the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than one year, or both....
Is Sestak refusing to talk on advice of counsel so that there is no waiver of his 5th Amendment privilege against self-incrimination? Or is Sestak refusing to talk just because Admirals don't talk?

Legally, Sestak is right to keep quiet.

Politically, there is only one thing which can keep Sestak's ship from sinking -- loose lips.

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Related Posts:
Specter's Legacy
Relax, The Dems Will Screw Up

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Will Obama Really Fight For This Judicial Nominee?

John J. "Jack" McConnell, Jr. is the Obama administration's nominee for an open seat on the U.S. District Court in Rhode Island.

As documented in my prior post, McConnell donated at least $430,000 to Democrats, including tens of thousands to the Democratic Senators who nominated him (Whitehouse and Reed) and other Democratic Senators who will vote on his nomination.

Now there is a potentially more damaging development.

The Founders Project, part of the conservative Ocean State Policy Research Institute (OSPRI), is demanding records regarding the role McConnell and his firm played in a payment made by the State of Rhode Island to a hospital to satisfy a prior pledge by McConnell's firm to the hospital.

The payment was made as part of the lead paint litigation brought by then Attorney General Whitehouse, represented by McConnell's firm. The litigation eventually was thrown out by the Rhode Island Supreme Court, but not until after the State had settled with one defendant. (Whitehouse no longer was Attorney General by the time of the settlement.)

As part of that settlement, payments were made to a hospital in Massachusetts for research. No legal fees were supposed to be paid as part of the settlement, because the settling defendant refused to settle if McConnell's firm earned a fee.

But there was a catch. The payment by the State to the hospital was applied by the hospital to satisfy a prior pledge to the hospital by McConnell's firm.

Did McConnell's firm simply find another way to earn a legal fee through satisfaction of its obligation to the hospital to pay the firm's pledge?

OSPRI wants to find out, and has served a public records request for documents on the settlement, and the details of the financial arrangements whereby the State paid the hospital. OSPRI's Press Release details the conflicting accounts by various participants.

Various Republican Senators on the Judiciary Committee have asked pointed questions regarding McConnell's actions in the lead paint case. In response to questions from Jeff Sessions (R-Ala), McConnell admitted the essential details as to the money donated by the State to the hospital being used to satisfy the pledge by McConnell's firm.

This line of inquiry still is developing, but McConnell's nomination appears to be among the most contentious of those currently pending.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, for the first time ever, has opposed a nomination to a District Court position. The optics of the campaign donations also are terrible.

Now there are questions as to whether McConnell and/or his firm deceived the State and the public as to the payoff of the firm's pledge to the hospital.

Sheldon Whitehouse certainly will fight for McConnell, as the two have long-standing political connections, and McConnell has been among the heaviest hitters in Rhode Island campaign fundraising.

The question is, is this the nominee for whom Obama wants to fight?

Stay tuned.

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Related Post:
How Much Does A Federal Judgeship Cost? $432,000

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Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mexico Tells Obama What To Do With Those National Guard Troops

Literally. Mexico told Obama what to do with the national guard troops Obama just ordered to the border.

Not kidding. Mexico told Obama what to do with the national guard troops Obama just ordered to the border.

You may not understand. Mexico did not make a profane suggestion, as in, put those troops up your ....

No. Mexico issued a statement telling Obama that the troops should stop gun traffic and organized crime, and should not be used in connection with stopping illegal immigration (h/t Michelle Malkin), via The Embassy of Mexico (emphasis mine):

Regarding the Administration’s decision to send 1,200 National Guard servicemen to the US Southern border, the Government of Mexico trusts that this decision will help to channel additional US resources to enhance efforts to prevent the illegal flows of weapons and bulk cash into Mexico, which provide organized crime with its firepower and its ability to corrupt.

Additionally, the Government of Mexico expects that National Guard personnel will strengthen US operations in the fight against transnational organized crime that operates on both sides of our common border and that it will not, in accordance to its legal obligations, conduct activities directly linked to the enforcement of immigration laws.

Mexico is determined to continue working on its side of the border to enhance the security and well-being of border communities, and to deter and dismantle organized crime and its links to drug trafficking and human smuggling.

As part of our joint strategy in the fight against transnational organized crime, there are actions that our two governments have undertaken together, and there are other measures taken independently by Mexico and by the US within their respective territories. In this regard, the Mexican Government fully respects the sovereign decisions of the US Government, but underscores that joint responsibility must continue to underpin our joint efforts in rolling-back transnational organized crime operating on both sides of the border.

Will Democrats once again give a standing ovation? And will the Obama administration obey?

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Gringo Mask - Yeah, This Should Work

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Bankrupt City Uses Federal $ To Outbid Private Home Buyers

Last week I chronicled the saga of Central Falls, Rhode Island, which has filed for receivership, the state equivalent of bankruptcy, under the weight of union contracts and debt, Has First Public Sector Union Domino Fallen?

Now it turns out that Central Falls has been using federal money to outbid private purchasers in order to acquire foreclosed properties. As reported by the local NBC affiliate:

One of the most financially troubled cities in Rhode Island—Central Falls—has been spending money to buy up foreclosed properties.

This story came to light when a real estate agent found out Central Falls was buying property. Bruce Gagnon said he offered his services for free to save the city the brokers’ fee.

But then he said he found himself bidding against the city for a property he wanted to save but that the city wanted to tear down.

Hundreds of homes in Central Falls have been foreclosed and boarded up.

Last year, five sellers got rid of their foreclosed properties by selling them to the city. The money to buy the homes came from federal taxpayers. It was part of a program to improve housing by tearing down foreclosed homes and rebuilding affordable units on the empty lots.

Surprise, surprise, it appears that the City overpaid for the properties it acquired using federal money, and there is a question of whether the purchases were intended to help friends of the Mayor:

The five properties sold for a total of $223,100, most within several thousands dollars of the asking price—a level that Gagnon said was unusual a year ago when the purchases were made and when he bought a foreclosed property for much less than the listed price....

Each of the properties was supposed to be bulldozed, but they are still standing. The city planner said demolition will take time.

But as soon as the houses were purchased, the city paid board-up fees of more than $29,000 to Mike Bouthillette, a friend of Mayor Charles Moreau.

Bouthillette had liens on each of the properties bought by the city, a total of more than $84,000 and none of the houses have been demolished.

Central Falls is a disaster at so many levels. The wasting of federal money is just the tip of the iceberg.

I said it before, if you want to see our future, come to Rhode Island.



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Related Posts:
Rhode Island City Files For Receivership
Unions Pushing States Toward Broken Promises
High Taxes And Union Pensions Are Killing Rhode Island. Duh!

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There Probably Is Something I Care Less About

Than this:
U2 Tour on Hold: Bono Recuperating from Emergency Back Surgery
I just can't think of what it is right now.

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Another Dangerous Moral Equivalency

The perpetually anti-Israel British newspaper The Guardian ran an article suggesting that Shimon Peres of Israel offered to sell nuclear weapons to South Africa in the 1970s.

The article was based upon minutes of a meeting recently uncovered, which, depending upon how you interpreted the minutes, might have led to such an inference.

On the other hand, the minutes did not actually say such a thing, and as Carl at Israel Matzav notes, not even the BBC (no friend of Israel) bought the implications of The Guardian article. Peres has issued a complete denial, reprinted at Israel Matzav.

The Guardian had a political point to make with the article, which is that it would be no big deal for Iran to have nuclear weapons, since Israel is just as irresponsible as Iran:

They will also undermine Israel's attempts to suggest that, if it has nuclear weapons, it is a "responsible" power that would not misuse them, whereas countries such as Iran cannot be trusted.
And this political point really is the point.

There is someone else who pursued this line of argument, Professor Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money blog.

I previously posted about Farley's absurd accusation that Jersulem Post writer Caroline Glick was not interested in Israel's survival, dismissive attitude towards rising Islamism in Turkey, and polemical attempt to deny that Israel is a strategic ally of the U.S.

Not surprisingly, Farley accepted The Guardian account with little critique. Farley gave lip service to there being no "smoking gun," but otherwise accepted the argument that Israel did in fact offer to sell nukes, and hammered the same moral equivalency point as The Guardian (emphasis mine):

The larger issue is obviously this: Evidence that a chief proxy of the United States offered to sell actual, functioning nuclear warheads on actual, functioning ballistic missiles to an autocratic, unstable state somewhat undermines US “moral authority” to undertake anti-proliferation efforts in nuclear and ballistic missile technology. Iran is enriching uranium? Well, Israel offered to sell nukes to apartheid South Africa. North Korea is selling ballistic missile parts and know how? Well, Israel offered to sell Jericho missiles, complete with nuclear warheads, to South Africa. In short, a US proxy offered to engage in behavior that was by several degrees worse than any behavior that Pakistan, North Korea, Syria, Libya, or Iran have ever been credibly accused of engaging in.
This is the pathetic, but typical, moral equivalency argument put forth by left-wing academics who view Israel as the primary source of problems in the Middle East, and who obsess over the "Israel lobby" (which includes a substantial majority of Americans).

The argument runs something like this (hyperbole intended):

Israel (allegedly) offered to sell nukes, but did not do so, so Iran can obtain nukes to use against Israel and we have no right to complain about it. Indeed, we dropped a nuke on two Japanese cities, so we should completely abandon non-proliferation efforts because who are we to tell others not to obtain nukes. Actually, who are we to tell Iran not to drop a nuke on Tel Aviv, because we dropped one on Hiroshima. So bombs away, Mahmoud, now you can be just like us.
Inaction really is what the argument is about.

What Israel did or did not do 35 or so years ago has absolutely nothing to do with the current expansionist and despotic Iranian regime, which would drop a nuke on Israel if it could, and at a minimum, would use nuclear weapons to establish hegemony over the greater Persian Gulf region.

The moral equivalency game simply is the left's way of tying Israel and the West down, while permitting a free hand for our enemies.

Update: CiF Watch has a series of posts debunking the documentation relied upon by The Guardian:
Psychedelic Mushroom Clouds at the Guardian
Misquotes and Lies Guardian Style Part I
Misquotes and Lies Guardian Style Part II

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Related Posts:
Guardian Columnist Calls Out The Anti-Israel Left, But Not His Own Paper
J Street: Liberal Bloggers Need To Study History, Not Memory
Israel Derangement Syndrome Strikes Again

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Arizona Will Not Come To Rhode Island

A bill introduced by Democratic Deputy Majority Leader Peter Palumbo in the Rhode Island House of Representatives, similar to the Arizona immigration law, will not be permitted to go to a committee hearing, much less a vote:
House Speaker Gordon D. Fox decided Monday that Rep. Peter Palumbo’s controversial Arizona-style bill on immigration will not be heard this session.

“The speaker opposes this and feels it’s better addressed federally. We’re not going to hear it this year,” said Larry Berman, spokesman for the House of Representatives. Palumbo could not be reached for comment....

Terry Gorman, president of Rhode Islanders for Immigration Law Enforcement, said he believed that Palumbo had been promised a hearing Thursday afternoon.

“And now here comes Gordon Fox, which is exactly what everyone anticipated, to use his power and cancel it … It’s just unfair. It’s getting to be more and more of a charade then you can ever imagine.”
The bill previously had met with protests, including a disruption of the House chamber:

At least 100 protesters chanted: “This is what democracy looks like!” and ¡Si se puede! (Yes we can) and “Hey-hey, ho-ho, Peter Palumbo’s got to go!”

The protest started quietly as demonstrators wearing banners that said, “Do I Look Illegal?” milled about the House floor. It gathered steam and decibel levels as the bell rang and legislators convened at 4 p.m.

Speaker Gordon D. Fox banged his gavel, and Capitol Police began telling the protesters it was time to go. The demonstrators left the chamber, but continued their chants and foot-stomping on the marble steps just outside the door.


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Dem. Legislator Files Arizona-Like Immigration Bill in Rhode Island

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"Little-Noticed" is the New "Unexpected"

"Unexpected" has become the term of choice for the mainstream media to excuse the Obama administration's economic failures.

Yesterday I read an article in The NY Times about something unexpected in Obamacare, and one term jumped out at me (emphasis mine):
About one-third of employers subject to major requirements of the new health care law may face tax penalties because they offer health insurance that could be considered unaffordable to some employees, a new study says.... It suggests that a little-noticed provision of the law could affect far more employers than Congress had assumed.
That term, "little-noticed," sure sounded familiar. It seems that we hear that term a lot.

I didn't intend on this post being so long, but the examples are so numerous:
  • "Tucked inside the huge health reform bill signed into law last week were many surprising and little-noticed provisions that will affect consumers in ways large and small."

  • "Deep within the massive health-care overhaul legislation, a few little-noticed provisions have quietly reignited one of the bitterest debates in medicine: how to balance the right of doctors, nurses and other workers to refuse to provide services on moral or religious grounds with the right of patients to get care."

  • "A little-noticed provision of the health legislation has rescued federal support for a controversial form of sex education: teaching youths to remain virgins until marriage."

  • "A little-noticed provision in the health reform bill will shed significant light on the payments drug and device companies make to doctors and teaching hospitals in California and the rest of the nation."

  • "A little-noticed provision in the new health care law may not only dramatically increase paperwork for small businesses, but also put them at a disadvantage against their larger competitors."

  • "In the manager's amendment Senate Leader Harry Reid added to the Senate health care bill, HR 3590, a little noticed provision allowed $7 billion in funding for Community Health Centers buried deep in Section 10503 of the 383-page amendment."

  • "Effective for plan years beginning after Sept. 23, 2010, health plans that cover dependent children must continue to cover adult kids until they turn age 26. This little-noticed new requirement is a sure way to increase health insurance costs, which is exactly what Obama-care was supposed to prevent."

  • "The Obama administration is trying to encourage people to buy annuities to ensure that they don't outlive their savings. But a little-noticed provision of the new health care reform law will slap a 3.8% tax on payouts from annuities purchased by high-income earners outside their workplace."

  • "A little noticed provision added over the weekend to the Senate health bill earmarked $500 million this year for a "cures acceleration program."

  • "Little-noticed (well, except by me) is the fact that Congress has repealed the anti-trust exemption for health insurance and that the reform plan sets up the basics of a federal infrastructure for insurance regulation. The federal government doesn’t just drop by and visit, they move in. Memo to state insurance regulators: the feds are outside, and they have a HUGE moving van.

  • "[Jeff] Masters, who lives in Fort Lauderdale, is part of a growing number of Americans who are members of faith-based ``health sharing ministries'' where members directly pay for each others' medical bills. Members also pray for each other, and a ``get well'' card from a stranger isn't uncommon. National healthcare reform will force millions of Americans to buy insurance or face fines, but a little-noticed provision excludes people like Masters who belong to such groups."

  • "As well as these and other major job-killing provisions, two little-noticed tax changes would also affect employment."

  • "Drug and device companies will soon have to report payments to physicians in a national database, thanks to a little noted section of the health care reform bill called the Physician Payments Sunshine Act."

  • "The new law also takes steps to keep doctors' doors open for Medicare patients. Physicians will get bonus payments for primary care, a little-noticed strategy to promote access for seniors."

  • "A little-noticed provision of the new health care reform law requires employers to provide new mothers with “reasonable break time” to express breast milk for nursing children who are up to 12 months old. "

  • "A little noticed national calorie labeling rule tucked into the legislation assures that within a couple of years, everyone who walks into a chain restaurant will see calories counts displayed alongside the price of a meal."

  • All U.S. Hospitals Must Publicize “Standard Charges” - Hidden among the amendments to a section of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, as amended by the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act (the “Health Reform Legislation”), is the following little-noticed provision ...."

  • "UV or not UV? A little-noticed provision in the new healthcare package adds a 10% levy to the cost of tanning sessions."

  • "A little-noticed provision in the House-passed health-care plan would strip billions of dollars out of privately run Medicare plans that emphasize wellness and are increasingly popular among retirees in Ohio and nationally."

  • "The health care reform legislation President Obama signed into law last week takes a little-noticed but precedent-setting swipe at executive pay excess."
If there was anything else that was little-noticed, let me know.

Of course, not all of these things were little-noticed to those of us who followed the health care legislation, but some were true after-the-fact revelations.

The big picture items -- massive spending, phony CBO scoring, government intrusion further into our lives, and the likely destruction of the best health care system in the world -- were well-noticed.

And those big picture items we will Remember in November.

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Related Posts:
No One Could Have Seen This Coming
CBO Credibility The First Victim Of Obamacare
The Numbers Were A Lie All Along

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