Saturday, January 12, 2013

op ed review 1/13

What stunned House Speaker John Boehner more than anything else during his prolonged closed-door budget negotiations with Barack Obama was this revelation: "At one point several weeks ago the president said to me, ´We don’t have a spending problem.”

London Telegraph:  “128 million Americans are now on government programs. Can America survive as the world’s superpower? …The United States isn’t just gliding towards a continental European-style future of vast welfare systems, economic decline, and massive debts – it is accelerating towards it at full speed”
“They’re on the dole — and watching the pole.”  Welfare recipients took out cash at bars, liquor stores, X-rated video shops, hookah parlors and even strip clubs — where they presumably spent their taxpayer money on lap dances rather than diapers, a Post investigation found.

After meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Attorney General Eric Holder at the White House today, the National Rifle Association released a statement saying the White House has an "agenda to attack the Second Amendment."
Vice President Joe Biden revealed that President Barack Obama might use an executive order to deal with guns. 
“As our national debt continues to soar, taxes to rise, and the overall economy to tank, President Obama is talking about...gun control. He is doing this so he can seize on the emotions of those who operate emotionally rather than rationally, thereby diverting their attention from the real crisis our nation faces right now -- which is financial in nature.”
Three-quarters of the public back gun ownership, and many feel that President Obama should dump his gun-control plans because only states should regulate the weapons, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., has adopted a new term for gun control, “gun violence prevention,” in hopes that the euphemism will make it easier to marshal public opinion in favor of new gun laws as well as other policies designed to prevent shootings.
“Ohio School Board Votes To Arm Janitors:”
Excellent advice:  “A recipe for activism against efforts at gun control.  “Emails and phone calls may have a modest but fleeting effect on most ordinary Congressional votes……here is a recipe on how each one of us can have a significant and vital effect on the upcoming Congressional vote on Gun Control.”

“Health insurers jack up rates by double digits in advance of Obamacare”
“Higher health care premiums could cause Obamacare to death spiral”

Georgia Power has asked state regulators for permission to shutdown 15 power plants yesterday, because new EPA regulations make the plants too expensive to run.
Buyer’s remorse?  “Obama supporters shocked, angry at new tax increases...”

In its latest annual report for fiscal year 2011 to 2012, Planned Parenthood reveals that it performed 333,964 abortions in 2011 – a record year for the organization. The total number of abortions in three years was 995,687. Planned Parenthood also reported receiving a record $542 million in taxpayer funding…

“40th March for Life crowds could top Obama Inauguration”

 “Saudis Sweating Bullets As Energy Revolution Changes The Rules.” The first fairly public effort in this direction is the ridiculous anti-fracking film starring Matt Damon financed in part by OPEC member United Arab Emirates. The benefits for oil exporters abroad to increase the politically-imposed restrictions on "fracking" technology are self-evident. Employing Hollywood to get that message across is, however, a game-changing and previously unavailable strategy for Middle Eastern oil exporters.

Defining deviancy down:  A defense of pedophilia as just another “sexual orientation” has been published in the mainstream left wing UK newspaper The Guardian……”a growing conviction, notably in Canada, that paedophilia should probably be classified as a distinct sexual orientation, like heterosexuality or homosexuality.”   

The Washington National Cathedral, where the nation gathers to mourn tragedies and celebrate new presidents, will soon begin hosting same-sex marriages.

John Hayward Follow  1/11

Matthew Continetti writes at the Washington Free Beacon about the formation of an incredibly powerful lobbying group, composed of organizations that boast millions of political foot soldiers, with a total income measured in the billions of dollars.  It plans to spend tens of millions of dollars pushing a rigid ideological agenda.  It’s a textbook example of everything we are constantly told is “wrong” with Washington, a combination of big money, political self-interest, political influence, and secrecy. But you’ve never heard about it before, for exactly one reason: it’s a liberal group, the “Democracy Initiative.”  Its formation was assiduously ignored by media outlets… but, as Continetti aptly notes, the media would have gone absolutely bonkers if a comparable conservative group had been formed, as it would have included virtually every powerful and well-funded element of what Hillary Clinton memorably dubbed “the vast right-wing conspiracy.”

The Democracy Initiative is currently known to include “the AFL-CIO, the Center for American Progress, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Color of Change, Common Cause, Demos, the Friends of the Earth, the League of Conservation Voters, Mother Jones (in a “non-editorial” capacity!), National People’s Action, the National Wildlife Federation, People for the American Way, the Piper Fund, Public Campaign, the Service Employees International Union, the United Auto Workers, and Voto Latino.” But they’re just getting started, and not all of the participants have been publicly divulged….

Now, I come neither to praise the Democracy Initiative, nor to bury them.  They have every right to join forces in the service of whatever ideas and policies they support.  However, the point Continetti makes in his article is vital: the media treatment of such powerful lobbying and advocacy groups is utterly and completely distorted, and it has profound ramifications for the conduct of our public discourse, and our elections.

Conservative groups cannot operate with such minimal notice, and they are burdened with a presumption of sinister intent.  Any effort a right-leaning mega-organization of comparable power made to influence the national conversation would be aggressively traced back to their offices, and portrayed as inherently dishonest, if not menacing.  It is a staggering advantage for the Left that it doesn’t have to worry about that.  Its efforts to influence public opinion are allowed to remain comfortably invisible; its groups receive automatic credit for high-minded public spirit.  They are not accused of “selfishness,” and the media doesn’t spend a lot of time worrying about how rich leftists can realize huge personal profit from initiatives they present as matters of selfless public interest.  They enter every discussion as prosecutors, while their conservative and libertarian counterparts are treated as defendants.  It’s not uncommon for reporters who jolly well know better to present partisan activists from left-wing organizations as non-partisan, non-ideological “experts.”

And it’s highly dubious there could be a right-wing group with the kind of power and money the Democracy Initiative has behind it.  Continetti observes that this doesn’t stop them from indulging their permanent fantasy as plucky little folks, bravely speaking truth to power:

What little we know of the Democracy Initiative provides a useful lesson in the ability of fantasy to inspire political action. Progressivism sets the political and cultural and social agenda; it is embedded in Hollywood, in Silicon Valley, in the academy, in journalism, and in much of corporate America; many of the richest counties in the nation support liberal Democrats; President Obama outraised and out-spent his Republican challenger; the combined budgets of progressive interest groups and foundations and think tanks and nonprofits and community organizations is practically incalculable; the most liberal president since Lyndon Baines Johnson is barreling ahead with a confrontational and ideological approach to cabinet appointments and budget fights; Republicans and conservatives are in their greatest state of shock and disarray since 1992 and perhaps since 1964; and yet progressive elites such as the well-compensated Radford of Greenpeace still are swinging at the windmill of the “40-plus-year strategy by the Scaifes, Exxons, Coors, and Kochs of the world” to “take over the country.”

They know this image of threadbare rebellion against shadowy, all-powerful, predatory interests wins automatic sympathy from the American people, especially the fabled “low-information voters.”  That’s why Obama was perpetually complaining about how badly he would be outspent in the 2012 campaign, and even falsely portrayed himself as an underdog in all of his previous campaigns, even though that has never been the case.

An entirely impartial “referee” watching over American politics would not find anything inherently wrong with either left- or right-wing people and organizations joining forces to promote their ideals.  It is possible – indeed, essential – to disagree with those ideals without regarding their promotion as some sort of pseudo-crime.  But instead, only some groups have to worry about labeling as “special interests” or “big money” that should be “kept out of politics.”  Certain actors on the political stage are required to don certain costumes before joining the “national conversation.”  Naturally, this distorts the quality of the conversation.  Part of the continuing effort by conservatives to build media influence should include taking some control of the costume department.


"Americans prefer small government to big government -- in the abstract. But 60 million receive Medicaid benefits, 54 million collect Social Security, 48 million participate with Medicare, 45 million receive Food Stamps, 7 million are in prison, jail, or on parole/probation, more than a million have de facto government jobs working for defense contractors, nearly a million children participate in Head Start and about 40 percent of K-12 students receive free or reduced price meals. There's some overlap in those categories, but it still adds up. ... The average beneficiary will receive far more in Medicare and Social Security benefits than he paid for in taxes. We are, in short, a socialist-style society just like Europe. And Obamacare has yet to kick in. The road to recovery begins with admitting you have a problem."
                         -Mona Charen

"The liberal media have spent 12 years feeling sorry for Al Gore. The Man Who Should Have Won in 2000 has had megatons of positive publicity dumped on him, hailing him as the 'Goracle.' ... So when Gore sold his left-wing cable channel Current TV to Al-Jazeera for $500 million, where were they? ... At about 42,000 viewers during primetime, the nationwide audience [of Current TV] could fit inside the Washington Redskins' Fedex Field and still leave the stadium half-empty. ... But the controversy is not about ratings. It's about one network selling itself to another best known for vicious anti-American propaganda. ... Gore rebuffed an offer from conservative radio/TV personality Glenn Beck to buy Current TV. Beck was told, 'The legacy of who the network goes to is important to us, and we are sensitive to networks not aligned with our point of view.' Beck is not aligned with the Gore viewpoint, and yet Al-Jazeera is? ... None dares express horror that the man who was almost president on 9/11 was allying himself with al-Qaida's video jukebox."
                       -L. Brent Bozell

"Back in the middle of the 19th century, things were getting better for the poor for the first time ever, what with the textile revolution and the railway revolution and steamships and all. But suppose you were a political activist, thirsting for power and meaning. ... That's when Karl Marx had his brilliant idea. Why not divide the masters from the workers, and win votes from the workers by demonizing the masters and plundering their wealth? Why not tell the capitalists 'you didn't build that'? Divide and conquer. What could go wrong? What could go wrong, Mr. President, is Reynolds's Law. 'Things that can't go on forever, won't. Debt that can't be repaid, won't be. Promises that can't be kept, won't be.' What could go wrong is that the educated ruling class would make a mess of everything it meddled with: health care, pensions, education, housing, green energy, the dollar. For what? Democratic politicians are never going to come up with an entitlement reform plan and warn their senior voters and their moms with disabled kids. When the Democratic voters are reduced to eating the paint off the walls, they will want to be able to say that the Republicans did it."
                         -Christopher Chantrill

"Have you yet heard House Speaker John Boehner take the time to spell out why Barack Obama's argument for taxing 'millionaires and billionaires' is wrong? It is not a complicated argument. Moreover, it is an argument that has been articulated many times in plain English by conservative talk show hosts and by others in print. It has nothing to do with being worried about the fate of millionaires or billionaires, who can undoubtedly take care of themselves. What we all should be worried about are high tax rates driving American investments overseas, when there are millions of Americans who could use the jobs that those investments would create at home. Yet Obama has been allowed to get away with the emotional argument that the rich can easily afford to pay more, as if that is the issue. But it will be the issue if no one says otherwise."
                         -Thomas Sowell

“I’ve had a number of odd jobs in my time, but one of the oddest was when I worked as a profanity counter. As I recounted in an earlier column, I used to get paid to sit through movies and chronicle all the naughty bits……After recording 273 utterances of the most notorious R-rated profanity in the movie "Reservoir Dogs," I decided that I would never again voluntarily subject myself to another flick written or directed by Quentin Tarantino……Snarky detractors point out that millions of people who sit through Tarantino’s bile don’t engage in massacres on the way home from the theater. That’s very true. But it’s not the same thing as saying such films don’t have a negative effect.”

“Crowd Laughs, Applauds Chicago Teachers Union President After She Jokes About Beheading The Rich”

MSNBC host Lawrence O’Donnell proposes to get rid of the swearing-in Bible for Inauguration Day because it teaches that homosexuality is a sin.

The New York Times will close its environment desk in the next few weeks and assign its seven reporters and two editors to other departments. The positions of environment editor and deputy environment editor are being eliminated.

Some of the most compelling and moving NYT news stories of the last four years:
“Every time you take an unnecessary shower a baby polar bear dies.”
“No, it's getting hotter. Really, it's getting hotter. Dr James Hansen says so and he works at NASA.”
“Just because global warming stopped in 1997 doesn't mean it's not going to start again, no sirree - and when it does it will be worse, much, much worse.”
“Al Gore: why selling my environmental channel Current TV to oil-funded Jew-haters for $100 million was the morally right thing to do.”

Sometimes, “good riddance” just doesn’t suffice. It is hard to imagine a bureaucrat who has done more comprehensive damage to American interests than Lisa Jackson, the departing head of the Environmental Protection Agency. During her four years as administrator, Jackson has put her radical environmental agenda before the wellbeing of the U.S. economy, the integrity of science, and even the structure of the American political system itself.

An Egyptian magazine is bragging that the Muslim Brotherhood has infiltrated the Obama Administration.

The Middle East Media Research Institute released a video of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi delivering racist, anti-Semitic, and anti-American remarks . “The incendiary rhetoric becomes relevant now that the Obama administration plans to give 200 Abrams tanks and 10 F-16 fighter jets to the Morsi government.”“Morsi: Boycott USA, Jews ´Descendants of Apes and Pigs'”

Let’s call it Al Goreera. This seems a fitting title for the new network that former Vice President Al Gore is launching with the jihadists’ favorite television outlet: Al-Jazeera. The effect will be to create vast new opportunities for our enemies to propagandize the American people, a key ingredient of their “civilization jihad” against our country. It is hard to overstate the magnitude of this treachery. Imagine the furor that would have erupted if, during the Cold War, one of the United States’ most prominent former leaders had enriched himself to the tune of $100 million by giving the KGB a vehicle for engaging in information and political warfare in some 40 million homes across this land

Al Gore is now richer than Mitt Romney, due to his sale of his Current TV network to Al-Jazeera.

More truth now in Pravda than the American MSM:  “These days, there are few things to admire about the socialist, bankrupt and culturally degenerating USA, but at least so far, one thing remains: the right to bear arms and use deadly force to defend one's self and possessions. This will probably come as a total shock to most of my Western readers, but at one point, Russia was one of the most heavily armed societies on earth. This was, of course, when we were free under the Tsar. Weapons, from swords and spears to pistols, rifles and shotguns were everywhere, common items. People carried them concealed, they carried them holstered…”

“It´s a frequently heard lament: Why can´t Washington get along and compromise on the big issues of the day? The federal government is, of course, divided, with the Democrats owning the White House and the Senate, the Republicans in control of the House. The division, though, didn´t begin in Washington. It has been created by the voters, and the gap between the sides is so wide that there seems to be no ground for compromise. Given the deep polarization found in the country, lawmakers simply cannot find common cause without betraying their constituencies.”

Great moments in UK socialized medicine:  “The neglect, cruelty and incompetence that characterized the way that so many patients at Stafford hospital were treated by its staff has been catalogued……Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, is correct when he states that what happened in that hospital was “simply not worthy of a civilized country”.

VDH:  What Is Hip? America has always been a country of self-invention. Yet there used to be some correlation between the life that one lived and the life that one professed. It was hard to be a phony in the grimy reality of the coal mine, the steel mill, the south 40 acres, or atop a girder over Manhattan. No longer in our post-modern, post-industrial, metrosexual fantasyland. The nexus of big government, big money, and globalization has created a new creed of squaring the circle of being both liberal and yet elitist, egalitarian-talking but rich-acting, talking like a 99 percenter and living like a 1 percenter. And the rub is not that the two poles are contradictory, but that they are, in fact, necessary for each other: talking about the people means it is OK to live unlike the people…..The key in our world of blue-jeaned billionaires is being hip — or rather at least professing to be hip.

Within hours of the Sandy Hook shooting, the media had provided extensive, round-the-clock coverage of precisely which firearms, manufacturers and calibers the perpetrator had used, how he had obtained them from his mother, where they were originally purchased, and so on. But where, I’d like to ask my colleagues in the media, is the reporting about the psychiatric medications the perpetrator – who had been under treatment for mental-health problems – may have been taking?  Columbine mass-killer Eric Harris was taking Luvox, an antidepressant drug.  Patrick Purdy, who went on a schoolyard shooting rampage in Stockton, Calif., was on Amitriptyline, and the antipsychotic drug Thorazine.  Kip Kinkel, 15, murdered his parents in 1998 and the next day went to his school in Springfield, Ore., and opened fire on his classmates, killing two. He had been prescribed both Prozac and Ritalin. In 1988, 31-year-old Laurie Dann went on a shooting rampage in a second-grade classroom in Winnetka, Ill. She had been taking the antidepressant Anafranil.  In Paducah, Ky., in 1997, 14-year-old Michael Carneal started shooting students in a prayer meeting taking place in the school’s lobby, killing three and leaving another paralyzed. Carneal reportedly was on Ritalin. In 2005, 16-year-old Native American Jeff Weise, shot and killed nine people and wounded five others before killing himself. Weise had been taking Prozac.  47-year-old Joseph T. Wesbecker, just a month after he began taking Prozac in 1989, shot 20 workers at Standard Gravure Corp. in Louisville, Ky., killing nine.  Kurt Danysh, 18, shot his own father to death in 1996, a little more than two weeks after starting on Prozac. Andrea Yates drowned all five of her children – aged 7 years down to 6 months – in a bathtub. Yates had been taking the antidepressant Effexor.
One more case is instructive, that of 12-year-old Christopher Pittman, who struggled in court to explain why he murdered his grandparents, who had provided the only love and stability he’d ever known in his turbulent life….Pittman’s lawyers would later argue that the boy had been a victim of “involuntary intoxication,” since his doctors had him taking the antidepressants Paxil and Zoloft just prior to the murders.

World’s tallest outdoor elevator

Giant squid filmed alive in deep sea for first time

"The gun has been called the great equalizer, meaning that a small person with a gun is equal to a large person, but it is a great equalizer in another way, too. It insures that the people are the equal of their government whenever that government forgets that it is servant and not master of the governed. When the British forgot that they got a revolution. And, as a result, we Americans got a Constitution; a Constitution that, as those who wrote it were determined, would keep men free. If we give up part of that Constitution we give up part of our freedom and increase the chance that we will lose it all."
                               -Ronald Reagan

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez

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