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Saturday, June 30, 2012

Safe Quarters

    One of my first blog posts to garner attention was "Nickel and Diming" (thanks to Powerline, who listed it as a "Pick" back in January - it's still #3 on my popular posts list.)  That post was a commentary on how the administration made such a huge deal out of cutting the federal deficit by $3 billion, the equivalent of the average American family cutting out one Starbucks latte per year.  Well, they are at it again with a twist, and this time, the Republicans are helping them out.  But this time, it's not the government saving pocket change.  It's student loan recipients.
    The administration has been harping on the Stafford student loan interest rate increase that was due to take effect July 1st.  They have encouraged students and others, via the campaign blog and Twitter, to tell Congress "don't double my rate."  Well, Congress obliged and Friday, legislation was passed to hold the rate at 3.4% instead of 6.8%.  But as I wrote on the 24th, this rate cut (if it is renewed in perpetuity, a likely scenario) will save the average Stafford student loan recipient a whopping 25¢ a day.  So all you students who needed that extra 15 minutes a day on the parking meter, you can breathe easy.  The federal government is looking out for you.

The Real Insurance Mandate Problem

    During the lead up to the Supreme Court's consideration of ObamaCare, we were told over and over again, "Of course the government can require people to buy insurance.  Look at auto insurance!  No one disputes that the government can require that." (I find the comparison silly - auto insurance is only needed if one drives, and it's primarily to cover other drivers, not the one who owns the policy.)  But where does the auto insurance comparison logically lead based on Thursday's decision?  From page 4 of the opinion:
[T]he mandate need not be read to declare that failing to [purchase ... health insurance] is unlawful. Neither the Affordable Care Act nor any other law attaches negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance, beyond requiring a payment to the IRS. And Congress’s choice of language—stating that individuals “shall” obtain insurance or pay a “penalty”—does not require reading §5000A as punishing unlawful conduct. It may also be read as imposing a tax on those who go without insurance. (see also)
Is this anything like the penalty (or "tax" as we now call it) for driving without auto insurance? Hardly, according to this Fox Business News article.  The laws vary from state to state, but those penalties can be quite severe.  Roberts's opinion actually comments on the relative leniency of the penalty as working in ObamaCare's favor in his decision to uphold.  Roberts also noted that the ACA restricted the IRS's power to even collect the penalty/tax:
The Act ... bars the IRS from using several of its nor­mal enforcement tools, such as criminal prosecutions and levies... And some individuals who are sub­ject to the mandate are nonetheless exempt from the penalty—for example, those with income below a certain threshold and members of Indian tribes. (page 8)
So is there really a meaningful individual mandate?  Or has it been more of a suggestion all along as I wrote earlier?  How is the IRS ever going to collect this penalty/tax without threat of "prosecutions and levies"?  As the Fox Business article I referenced above notes, even with more severe penalties for not having auto insurance (which is much cheaper than health insurance,) up to a quarter of drivers in some states do not carry it anyway.
    The real problem with mandates is not the individual mandate, but rather the mandates that the federal and state governments have placed on the insurance companies.  Insurance companies that lack the freedom to consider pre-existing conditions, health history, and determine what they will and will not cover are not "insurance" companies at all, but simply inefficient, unnecessary money conduits.  Frankly, they are irrelevant. The same outcome could be achieved by eliminating insurance companies altogether and requiring all healthcare providers to provide all services for a set monthly fee regardless of how little or how much care patients required.  But it has always been easier to paint insurance companies as greedy and evil than it has been to characterize doctors that way, and liberals need an enemy to push their policies.  That is why, barring repeal of ObamaCare and serious, comprehensive state-level insurance reform, it is the insurance company mandates that will eventually bring down the system and lead to the single-payer system that Barack Obama and many liberals have wanted all along.  

Friday, June 29, 2012

Eric Holder's Chutzpah

    When Vice President Joe Biden lets loose with one of his infamous quotables, such as yesterday's "a depression for millions and millions", one gets the sense that many in the administration are listening with a hand over their eyes, slowly shaking their heads.  However, when Eric Holder plays the high school troublemaker who is facing the teacher with an innocent look, inwardly thumbing his nose, those same administration members have a hand over their mouths suppressing a "pppbbbbbtttttttt!" with an admiring look on their faces.  After yesterday's overwhelming House vote (bi-partisan!) finding Holder in contempt of Congress, Fox News reports Holder's reaction:

“Today’s vote is the regrettable culmination of what became a misguided and politically motivated investigation during an election year,” Holder said afterward. “By advancing it over the past year and a half, Congressman Issa and others have focused on politics over public safety.”
The "past year and a half" and "during an election year"?  Yes, because Holder and his Justice Department have managed to stall and deceive and stonewall so long.  And "public safety"?  That's the especially galling statement considering Fast and Furious resulted in the death of a border agent and over 300 others, and is still responsible for 2,000 missing firearms, presumably in the hands of Mexican drug gangs.  Since the resolution of this issue quite possibly depends on Holder's Justice Department investigating itself, don't look for answers any time soon.  Just as in high school, the troublemakers tend to protect their own.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Apple Doesn't Fall Far From the Tree [Update]

    When the ObamaCare ruling was handed down this morning, the Democratic National Committee executive director immediately tweeted two triumphant, vulgar tweets (one later deleted).  In order to avoid posting the foul language myself, here's a link to Powerline's take on it.
    But as it happens, they were only reflecting the attitudes and standards of the man at the top, Barack Obama.  Tonight, the campaign of President of the United States, the commander in chief, the leader of the free world, the father of two young daughters and a lovely wife, tweeted this:


The link provided is for this, available at the campaign's store:


What should have been an embarrassing open-mic moment by Joe Biden that the administration should have apologized for and hoped was forgotten has now been turned into a feature in their victory party, the football-spike for ObamaCare.  Remember this the next time someone tells you how Barack Obama has helped bring civility back to politics.

UPDATE:  And it just keeps coming.  The latest blog post from Jim Messina, campaign manager for Obama 2012.  Apparently this is part of a new strategy.

UPDATE:  I found this from February 2012 in a transcript of an Obama address to the House Democratic Caucus:
...I pointed out, you know, this whole myth of Rahm [Emanuel] being this tough guy, mean, is just not true. At least once a week he spends time teaching profanity to underprivileged children. (Laughter and applause.)
I guess it's gone from joke to national policy.

UPDATE:  Thanks a lot, RNC.  I guess taking the high road was boring, eh?  It's a race to the bottom now.

Is That a Mandate?


Retweet or be taxed.

A Taxing Morning for the President

    Jake Tapper reports on the confusion at the White House as the Supreme Court decision on ObamaCare was handed down this morning:
Standing with White House chief of staff Jack Lew and looking at a television in the “Outer Oval” featuring a split screen of four different networks, the president saw graphics on the screens of the first two cable news networks to break the news — CNN and Fox News Channel — announcing, wrongly, that he had lost.
Senior administration officials say the president was calm.
A couple minutes later, White House counsel Kathy Ruemmler came to Outer Oval and gave him two thumbs-up. Ruemmler had gotten the correct information from a White House lawyer at the Supreme Court and from SCOTUSblog.com.
“The Affordable Care Act has been upheld by the court,” Ruemmler told the president, a senior administration official recalled. “There were five votes finding it valid under Congress’s taxing power.”
There was some “cognitive dissonance” given what was on the cable news screens, an official said.The president hugged Ruemmler, officials recalled. He then called Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli to congratulate him.
Obviously left out of this account is the part where the president said, "'Taxing power'?  No, no, no!  Who wrote the opinion, George Stephanopoulos?  And what's the deal with "five votes"?  This country is too divided.  Call McConnell and Boehner.  We're repealing ObamaCare until we can reach common ground."

Supreme Court Upholds the Individual Suggestion

    I've only read two or three pages of the Supreme Court Obamacare ruling, but "incoherent" is the word that dominates my reaction so far.  Congress cannot compel anyone to buy health insurance, but they can tax anyone who does not.  However, it's not really a tax, but a penalty; otherwise, the Anti-injunction Act might apply.  But it is a tax, because it's justified by Congress's power to tax.  And it's collected like a tax and paid like a tax.  But it's not really wrong if you don't buy health insurance:
 Neither the Affordable Care Act nor any other law attaches negative legal consequences to not buying health insurance, beyond requiring a payment to the IRS.  And Congress’s choice of language— stating that individuals “shall” obtain insurance or pay a “penalty”— does not require reading §5000A as punishing unlawful conduct.  
 We waited three months for this?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

ObamaCare Prediction: No Decision, Rehearing in Fall

    After a brief twitter conversation with James Taranto this evening, I've decided to blog my prediction just in case it comes true and makes me look like a genius.  My theory is that court will decide that it needs to consider overturning Wickard v. Filburn, just as in 2009 the court ordered a rehearing of Citizens United to consider overturning Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce and parts of McConnell v. FEC.  A restoration of the Commerce Clause to pre-Wickard interpretation would certainly warrant further consideration based on the explosion of power Congress has asserted through that clause in the intervening years.  There would also be the added benefit of removing the ObamaCare ruling from the election year perhaps shielding the court from charges of politicking (although as Taranto pointed out, this objective would not be served by asking for briefs on reversing Wickard.)
    In a cruel stroke of irony, such an announcement would probably overwhelm the U.S. healthcare system due to the collective heart attacks and strokes suffered by the millions who are already being driven to distraction awaiting the outcome.
    Eleven hours and counting...

UPDATE:  On second thought, never mind.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Thanks For the Memoriam

    Lately, I feel that I have belabored the subject of the Obama administration's assault on parody, but they've done it again.  Yesterday, James Taranto closed his Best of the Web column with a piece commenting on the Obama campaign's latest effort to squeeze money out of supporters:
"President Obama is launching an events registry that will allow a birthday boy or a bride-to-be to encourage their friends to give to the campaign--instead of a gift," Politico reports:
"Got a birthday, anniversary, or wedding coming up?" the campaign wrote in a blog post. "Let your friends know how important this election is to you--register with Obama 2012, and ask for a donation in lieu of a gift."
"It's a great way to support the President on your big day. Plus, it's a gift that we can all appreciate--and goes a lot further than a gravy bowl," the campaign wrote.
Yes, it's for real. We're proud to say we got into the swing of things. The other day a friend's uncle died, so we bought him a card--"I'm so sorry for your loss," it said--and sent it to the Obama campaign instead.
So just for fun today, I checked out the donation portion of the Obama campaign's website, and low and behold, there it was:



In some respects, it's only right.  The dead have often voted for the Democrats in various parts of the country. It's about time they started paying their fair share.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Supreme Hypocrisy

    Throughout his presidency, Barack Obama has had an adversarial relationship with the Supreme Court.  The most memorable and arguably most egregious display of his disdain for the court came during his 2011 State of the Union address in which he criticized the recent campaign finance ruling in the presence of most of the justices who were attending his address.  Then earlier this year, he made some absurd statements about what it would mean if the court strikes down Obamacare in the ruling that is likely to come on Thursday.  The gist of his remarks and of many on the left is that the court is seriously ideologically divided between reasonable moderates (and possibly a liberal or two) and an extreme right-wing cabal.  This framing of the court and its decisions must be considered when reading his remarks on today's Arizona v. United States illegal immigration ruling:
I am pleased that the Supreme Court has struck down key provisions of Arizona's immigration law. What this decision makes unmistakably clear is that Congress must act on comprehensive immigration reform...    
At the same time, I remain concerned about the practical impact of the remaining provision of the Arizona law that requires local law enforcement officials to check the immigration status of anyone they even suspect to be here illegally.
    What the president leaves out is that the part of the ruling that pleases him was decided by a polarized 5-3 vote (Justice Kagan recused herself.)  On the other hand, the sole part of the Arizona law that was upheld and caused the president to "remain concerned" was decided unanimously, 8-0.  So much for peace, harmony and civility.

    As is often the case, the left's call for bi-partisanship and unity is limited to outcomes that fall in its direction.  If the decision on Obamacare's provisions is also split in various ways, look for a similar pattern: lip-service to harmony and consensus, but "deep concern" and "outrage" if the court hands liberals a loss, no matter how the votes tally up.

The Hijacking of Democracy

    Four years ago, the Obama 2008 campaign made history.  The New York Times reported:
Obama Forgoes Public Funds in First for Major Candidate

WASHINGTON — Senator Barack Obama announced Thursday that he would not participate in the public financing system for presidential campaigns. He argued that the system had collapsed, and would put him at a disadvantage running against Senator John McCain, his likely Republican opponent.

With his decision, Mr. Obama became the first candidate of a major party to decline public financing — and the spending limits that go with it — since the system was created in 1976, after the Watergate scandals.
 And with those limits out of the way, Obama went on to make more history (ABC News):
He was not quite the first $1 billion president -- but he was three quarters of the way there.
In 21-plus months, Barack Obama raised roughly $750 million from donors, surpassing all of his White House opponents this year and also eclipsing the total amount of money raised by all of the presidential candidates combined in 2004...
To put the $750 million in perspective:
McCain's fundraising for the 2008 cycle was not terrible. The Arizona senator raised a respectable $238 million from donors, in addition to the $84 million federal grant he received for participating in the public financing system.
 And of course this year, the Obama campaign reversed course on SuperPACS (New York Times):
President Obama is signaling to wealthy Democratic donors that he wants them to start contributing to an outside group supporting his re-election, reversing a long-held position as he confronts a deep financial disadvantage on a vital front in the campaign.
Out with the public financing and in with the private!  So forgive me if I seem a bit jaded in my reaction to Deputy Campaign Manager Stephanie Cutter writing on the BarackObama.com blog this weekend:
...right now, we can't change the laws that allow the hijacking of our democracy by private money.
And she wants us to "take this seriously"?  If private money constitutes the "hijacking of democracy", then our republic has been sitting on a runway at Entebbe for four years waiting for a daring raid to set it free.  Let's hope the Romney campaign is as successful as the Israelis were in 1976 (on July 4th, no less) at ending our long, national hostage nightmare.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Hyperbole on Steroids

    The president ramped up his efforts again this week to get Congress to prevent an interest rate increase on Stafford students loans set to occur on July 1st.  He also ramped up his deceptive rhetoric, as the White House blog records:
"If Congress does not get this done in a week, the average student with federal student loans will rack up an additional $1,000 in debt over the coming year," he said. "If Congress fails to act, more than 7 million students will suddenly be hit with the equivalent of a $1,000 tax hike. And that’s not something that you can afford right now."
The reality is that a rate increase would mean an additional $1,041 in interest over the 12-year life of the loan, not "over the coming year."  But Politico chose to report this whopper as follows:
That was a bit of hyperbole. According to the Department of Education, if rates double, the borrower paying back the average Stafford loan would owe an additional $1,041 over the 12-year life of the loan. That would break down to $87 more annually, or about $7 more a month.
"A bit of hyperbole"?  A $7 per month interest increase morphs into a annual "$1,000 tax hike", and that's "a bit of hyperbole"?  For crying out loud, it's 25¢ per day!  What's next?  Operation Fast and Furious is a "big fuss over a few guns"?  Four years of one-trillion-dollar-plus deficits is "austerity"?  With its recent fund raising appeals, this administration has already set its sights on rendering parody moot.  Now it's gunning for hyperbole, as well.  Why the Republicans are negotiating with the president about this issue and not ridiculing the whole matter from the rooftops is beyond me.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wanted: ESL Teachers for Spammers

    The following showed up as a "comment" on one of my blog posts this morning:

Thanks for the auspicious writeup. It if truth be told was a leisure account it.
Glance complicated to more introduced agreeable from you!
By the way, how could we keep up a correspondence?
Here is my site [name withheld to avoid rewarding spammer]
    Needless to say, my trained eye spotted just a few problems.  I've only had to remove one comment on my blog so far for inappropriate language.  Incoherent language, however, has doomed quite a few more.

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Author of The Color Purple Sees Red

    The Israel-Palestinian conflict has a long history of provoking irrationality among those who side with the Palestinians.  Alice Walker, the author of The Color Purple, a novel popularized in part by the Oprah Winfrey movie of the same name in the 1980s, has continued the tradition.  MyFoxNY.com reports:
Author Alice Walker has denied a request from an Israeli publisher to release a Hebrew edition of her novel, "The Color Purple."
The book details the struggle of black women in the South in the 1930s.
In a letter to Yediot Books she said it was because Israel is "guilty of apartheid and persecution of the Palestinian people."
She says she grew up under "American apartheid" and says Israeli's treatment of Palestinians is worse than blacks in South Africa.
    Given that the “book details the struggle of black women in the South in the 1930s” and Walker "grew up under 'American apartheid'," it’s a wonder that she ever consented to have her book published in English.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Under the Bus, or...?

    The Barack Obama 2012 campaign has become somewhat infamous for raffling off meals with the President as an incentive for campaign donations, but the Romney campaign has not completely avoided the raffle technique either.  Today, @MittRomney tweeted the following:


Given Mitt Romney's history on road trips, one would do well to find out exactly where the winners will be situated on the Romney bus before entering the contest...

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Obama 2012: Backward

    Today, the Obama campaign tweeted the following:


A closer look at the HHS report reveals the following in End Note #4 (emphasis mine):
A recent survey from the Commonwealth Fund found that 6.6 million young adults who have enrolled in their parents’ health plans since November 2010 were unlikely to have been eligible for those plans before the Affordable Care Act. This number exceeds our calculation because it includes some individuals who were already insured, often through their own private coverage. Other recent research (Sommers & Kronick, 2012 – see Footnote 5) suggests that just under 60% of the increased coverage of young adults on their parents’ plans came from individuals switching from their own private plans; multiplying the remaining 40% by Commonwealth’s estimate of 6.6 million indicates 2.6 million young adults gaining coverage, which is within range of our 3 million estimate from NHIS data. 
What this means is that almost four million young adults who had obtained health insurance on their own are back on their parents' insurance.  At least until they are 26.  Never let it be said that the Obama administration wants kids to grow up too fast.

Give or Take 100,000

    This week, the Obama campaign launched another (surprise!) group to assist in the 2012 effort to return Barack Obama to the White House in November.  The Educators for Obama webpage explains how the president actually cares about education while Mitt Romney would prefer illiteracy and ignorance to run rampant across the land (I'm paraphrasing.)  If I've learned anything about the Obama campaign, it's their willingness to throw numbers around with abandon if there are political points to be scored, and this new group is no exception.  Reaching back to the 2009 "stimulus" (although no source is actually cited for the statistic,) the campaign claims the following on the Educators for Obama home page:
When states were cutting their budgets and laying off teachers, the President took action to keep 300,000 educators in the classrooms where they were needed.
    While the underlying validity of the claim is debatable, the source of one such discrepancy has a rather unusual source.  The Obama campaign!  Just a week before the new website was launched, the campaign put this out on Twitter:


Once again, no source is cited.  More than 100,000 educators vanished in less than a week with no explanation.  And this is actually the second time the numbers have changed, as I wrote last week.  No doubt if pressed, Jay Carney or some other administration spokesman could pull a rabbit out of the hat to justify the inconsistency.  But when you have demonstrated that you are willing to abuse numbers to advance your cause, what's 100,000 teachers anyway? After all, there are plenty more groups out there just begging for pandering.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Precedent for the Unprecedented

    Sam Donaldson commented over the weekend on the incident in which The Daily Caller's Neil Munro interrupted President Obama's prepared remarks with a question.  Examiner.com reports:
"Many on the political right believe this president ought not to be there – they oppose him not for his polices and political view but for who he is, an African American," Donaldson told the Huffington Post in an email.
"These people and perhaps even certain news organizations (certainly the right wing talkers like Limbaugh) encourage disrespect for this president. That is both regrettable and adds, in this case, to the general dislike of the press on the part of the general public," he added.
On November 25, 1986, President Ronald Reagan made some prepared remarks to the press regarding events surrounding Iran-Contra.  And guess who was there, presumably shushing Helen Thomas and the other impertinent reporters who were interrupting Reagan, no doubt on account of his race?



    Note that Reagan is interrupted after the words "to brief you..."  After momentarily addressing the reporters, he returns to his prepared remarks before Meese takes the podium.

    Also note the expressions of Donaldson and Thomas around the 1:10 mark of the clip as Reagan leaves, and then the question that Donaldson asks Meese.  The respect is simply palpable.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

[We] Hope [to] Change [the Slogan]

    The Obama campaign is currently holding a contest to see which design will be chosen for the new Runway to Win collection in the Obama campaign store, the section of the store apparently targeted at the non-99% based on the prices ($45 for a dog leash.)  One of the entries (and feel free to vote as you see fit) might just hold the key to a new campaign slogan for the Obama 2012 effort:


With a little bit of creative reading, I see "Yes, We Hope Obama Can Change."  I think we have a winner!

Insourcing Outsourcing

    For those of you who like your irony sliced thick, this is a real treat.  Thursday, President Obama gave a much-maligned 54 minute speech on the economy in which he mentioned the word "job" or "jobs" 38 times, including several times in the following excerpts:
This is the vision behind the jobs plan I sent Congress back in September -- a bill filled with bipartisan ideas that, according to independent economists, would create up to 1 million additional jobs if passed today...
My plan to reform the tax code recognizes that government can’t bring back every job that’s been outsourced or every factory that’s closed its doors.  But we sure can stop giving tax breaks to businesses that ship jobs overseas, and start rewarding companies that create jobs right here in the United States of America -- in Ohio, in Cleveland, in Pennsylvania...
It’s hard not to get cynical when times are tough.  And I’m reminded every day of just how tough things are for too many Americans.  Every day I hear from folks who are out of work or have lost their home.  
When the president speaks of his "plan to reform the tax code" in the 2nd paragraph above, he's referencing his Congress To-Do List which includes the president's top five priorities for Congress (if you don't count his Don't-double-my-rate proposal for student loans about which he tweeted on June 7th:  “The No. 1 thing Congress should do right now is to stop student loan interest rates from doubling at the end of the month.") The very first item on the To-Do list is "Reward American Jobs, Not Outsourcing":
Pass legislation to attract and keep good jobs in the United States by rewarding companies who bring jobs back to America with lower taxes and pay for it by eliminating tax incentives for companies to ship jobs overseas.
Now for the irony.  The day after giving the "I know there aren't enough jobs being created" speech, the President immediately skipped over the five items on his Congress To-Do list and announced a policy change on the treatment of certain illegal immigrants:
In an election-year policy change, the Obama administration said Friday it will stop deporting young illegal immigrants who entered the United States as children if they meet certain requirements... 
Under the new policy, people younger than 30 who came to the United States before the age of 16, pose no criminal or security threat, and were successful students or served in the military can get a two-year deferral from deportation, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.
It also will allow those meeting the requirements to apply for work permits, Napolitano said, adding that participants must be in the United States now and be able to prove they have been living in the country continuously for at least five years...
Friday's policy change is expected to potentially affect 800,000 people, an administration official told CNN on background. 
While calling on Congress to reward employers for not outsourcing American jobs, the president effectively outsourced up to 800,000 jobs to non-citizens.  While an argument can be made that immigration, even this action, in the long run will be good for the economy, that is not what the president had in mind with this policy that directly contradicts a position he took in March 2011.   As even CNN had to acknowledge in the opening sentence of their story, this was political election year pandering and nothing more.

Friday, June 15, 2012

If Only It Were That Easy

From the campaign website of Barack Obama 2012:


President Obama's vision: "Click to enlarge."  We've been waiting for three and a half years for that to happen.  And now, all we have to do is click.

President Obama: Let's Spend Half of What We Don't Have

    Who said President Obama didn't have any bold ideas in his Thursday speech on the economy?

President Obama, June 14, 2012:
So my plan would take half the money we’re no longer spending on war -- let’s use it to do some nation-building here at home.  Let’s put some folks to work right here at home. 

President Obama, June 13, 2012:
By the time I got into office, we had a $1 trillion deficit because of tax cuts that weren’t paid for, two wars that weren’t paid for, a prescription drug plan that was not paid for,” he said. (ABC News)

Think Progress, June 13, 2012:
 President Obama has said the war, which he opposed and finally ended, costed $1 trillion. Those costs are likely to rise yet — by 2014, the post-9/11 combat veteran cohort will be bigger than the Vietnam veteran cohort, and a recent report said maintaining veterans benefits will soon cost more than maintaining active duty military forces.

The president's plan is to spend half of the money we never had in the first place that, according to his Think Progress allies, we will have to continue to spend on the military anyway.  If that isn't bold, then I don't know what bold is.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Barack Obama's Sesame Street Campaign

    The latest barrage of tweets and blog posts coming from the Obama campaign are a response to Mitt Romney's response to President Obama's latest "gaffe." (The problem with saying "latest gaffe" in relation to the Obama administration is that your statement can almost immediately become dated, since the gaffes tend to come fast and furious - "stuck by my guns," anyone?)  After President Obama made his "the private sector is doing fine" remark, Mitt Romney shot back with the following (via ABCNews):
"He says we need more fireman, more policeman, more teachers," Romney said Friday, speaking about President Obama's efforts to expand government. "Did he not get the message of Wisconsin? The American people did. It's time for us to cut back on government and help the American people."
 The Obama campaign almost fell over themselves tweeting this "gaffe" to their followers, even going so far as to characterize Romney as wanting to "fire" our dedicated public servants (I wrote about this earlier.)  Far from recognizing overreach when they overreach, the Obama campaign doubled down on the Romney-hates-teachers-firefighters-and-police meme.  After a few days of tweets about Romney wanting to cut  teachers, firefighters and police, the Obama campaign shifted tack to the following:


Soon came a steady stream of stories on Twitter and the campaign's blog about how these three groups of public servants had made a difference in the lives of ordinary Americans.  Here is one:


And another:


And finally:


While these are certainly touching stories, does the Obama campaign seriously expect people to think Romney is in favor of people dying horrible deaths?  The Romney campaign has not made much of Romney's personal heroic and selfless deeds, but voters are not children.  It's as if the campaign has gone retro and is using its supporters as virtual Muppets to explain who "the people in your neighborhood" are.


I think we'd find nearly universal agreement that the professions of teacher, firefighter and police officer are noble and worthy of respect and perhaps even hero worship at times.  But can government spend unlimited funds to hire unlimited public servants so that nothing bad ever happens to anyone ever again?  This is not even an attempt at a political or economic argument.  It's quite literally (and I mean literally) a pre-school appeal to niceness.
 
    As Mitt Romney was attempting to point out before the Obama campaign stuck its fingers in the public's collective ears and started chanting "LA-LA-LA!! TEACHERS ARE WONDERFUL!!", the national debt is north of $16,000,000,000,000 and rising fast.  We are broke.  As wonderful as teachers truly are, perhaps the best thing they could teach right now is this:  Don't spend what you don't have.  President Obama himself could benefit tremendously from that lesson.  Maybe someday he could paraphrase Iva from the story above and say:
Had I not had the help of my teacher, I probably would have continued spending. Nothing wrong with that, but we've lived in debt. I had seen enough of that.
 Now that teacher would be an angel worth tweeting about.

What $40 Means to You (Woof!)

    Remember the White House's What $40 Means to You campaign from the Social Security tax holiday debate? (I wrote about it here, here, and here.)  Those who wrote in response provided such answers as:

$40 for me is about a week's grocery money!
S.Z, Cave Creek, AZ  
$40 a paycheck helps me pay for a week of lunch for my daughter at school.
E.D., Ranch Santa Margarita, CA  
$40 a paycheck covers the gas I use in only one week driving to and from work.
S.J., Haymarket, VA 

Thanks to their Runway to Win fashion designer-supported affort, the Obama campaign has provided a new answer for that question:


Pet owners will be especially glad to know it's 100% cotton.  The American people now have one more option for the extra $40 in their paychecks.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Narrow, Easy Victory?

    Tuesday, Democrat Ron Barber won a special Congressional election in Arizona to replace Gabrielle Giffords, who gave up her seat a year after the horrific shooting in Tucson in January 2011 that killed six and critically injured Giffords along with 12 others.  Newsweek's The Daily Beast reports on the outcome of the election:
Former Giffords aide Ron Barber beat his Tea Party opponent in an election that was far less close than predicted...
Barber’s easy victory was a surprise in Arizona, where politicos expected a tight race...
And while the progressive Public Policy Poll had Barber leading Kelly by 12 points, on the ground in Arizona, both sides predicted the race would be a nail biter.
The entire 1300-word article manages to never actually give the final results from the "easy victory." The New York Times reports that the tally was 52% for Democrat Barber and 45% for "Tea Party Republican" Jesse Kelly (a third party candidate received about 2%.)  While "easy victory" is certainly true relatively speaking considering Giffords bested Kelly in 2010 by only about one percentage point, it is not exactly a landslide either.  Fortunately for comparison purposes, there was another recent election reported by The Daily Beast:  the Scott Walker recall-that-wasn't in Wisconsin.  Last week, Howard Kurtz reported Walker's win with the same margin of victory as the Arizona election as follows:
Scott Walker narrowly held on to his job as Wisconsin’s governor on Tuesday, surviving a labor-backed recall drive loudly trumpeted as a national showdown over public-employee unions.
So a Democrat retains the seat of a sitting Democrat who was gunned down by a lunatic and has been universally and justly lauded as a hero ever since and seven points is an "easy victory."  But a sitting Republican governor who implemented serious reforms fends off a fierce recall effort that was nationalized by the opposition and even drew the support (if somewhat tepid) of the sitting president, and seven points is a "narrow" victory of survival.  I'm an accountant, but even I cannot reconcile those statements.  It's almost enough to make one think there's a political agenda afoot at The Daily Beast.

Subsidizing Success

    On Tuesday, Sallie James of the Cato Institute noted a recent endorsement of farm subsidies by Senator Debbie Stabenow, chairwoman of the Senate Agriculture Committee:
“American agriculture represents a bright spot in our economy,” Chairwoman Stabenow said. “Agricultural exports are reaching record highs and American farmers and ranchers are continuing to outpace the rest of the world in productivity and efficiency. Sixteen million American jobs are supported by American agriculture, so it’s critical we pass the Farm Bill this year. We must provide farmers and small businesses the certainty they need to continue growing and helping the country’s economy recover.”
Despite the sometimes decidedly non-farmy uses of Department of Agriculture funds (as I noted here in April,) the Farm Bill is often treated as a sacred cow (or at least the family cow) even by conservative lawmakers who should know better.  Senator Stabenow, not to be confused with one of those conservatives, isn't a wholesale advocate of subsidies, however.  Back in 2011, here's what she had to say about oil company "subsidies":
“We’ve got to stop these taxpayer subsidies that adds insult to injury, when we’re paying the highest price at the pump and, at the same time, they have the highest profits ever,” said Stabenow. “It doesn’t make any sense. They don’t need it.”
I hope that some enterprising reporter gives Senator Stabenow the opportunity to harmonize her two subsidy positions.  In 2009, Cato put the annual farm subsidy cost at between $10 billion and $30 billion.  By contrast, in January 2011, President Obama proposed ending $4 billion in "subsidies and tax breaks" to oil companies.  At the time, the president said: "I don’t know if -- I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own."  To summarize: "American agriculture represents a bright spot in our economy" and oil companies are "doing just fine on their own" - so continue subsidies for one and eliminate them for the other?
 
    As I indicated, farm subsidies may be the closest thing to bi-partisanship that Congress manages to do.  And some people say bi-partisanship is what we need more of?  On the other hand, if both agriculture and oil companies are "doing fine" by this administration's standards, maybe dumping the subsidies isn't such a good idea after all.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

"A Lot of Responsibilities"

    President Obama was asked this week by ABC News Green Bay, Wisconsin, affiliate WBAY why he did not visit the state to campaign on behalf of Tom Barrett, the Democrat who unsuccessfully challenged Scott Walker in the gubernatorial recall election in early June.
The president backed Barrett from afar but did not campaign on the ground. Asked why he didn’t visit the state Obama said “the truth of the matter is that as President of the United States, I have a lot of responsibilities.”
I noted the following list on the White House's Speeches and Remarks webpage in an earlier post, but I have reproduced it here for the dates June 1 to June 7:
Speeches and Remarks 
June 07, 2012
Remarks by the President on College Affordability
June 07, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
June 07, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
June 07, 2012
Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event
June 06, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
June 06, 2012
Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event
June 06, 2012
Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event
June 05, 2012
Remarks by the First Lady at Disney Press Conference
June 05, 2012
Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event
June 04, 2012
Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event 
June 04, 2012
Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event
June 04, 2012
Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden at the Cypress Bay High School Graduation Ceremony
June 04, 2012
Remarks by the President on Equal Pay for Equal Work via Conference Call
June 01, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event -- Private Residence, Chicago, IL
June 01, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event -- Private Residence, Chicago, IL
June 01, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
June 01, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event -- Bachelor Farmer Restaurant, Minneapolis, MN
Thirteen of the last seventeen "speeches and remarks" (through June 7th) were at campaign events, including seven in the four days leading up to the June 5th recall-that-wasn't.
    But this is campaign season after all, and it's less than six months until the presidential election.  So how about a broader view?  I conducted a search of the White House website for the phrase "Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event" in the titles of all the site's pages.  The result?  Although the initial feedback says "about 279," when all is said and done it comes out to 74 times in the past 8 months.  That comes to about one every three days.  And that doesn't count times such as "Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event" or "Remarks by President Obama and the First Lady at a Campaign Event." And based on Jim Geraghty's post at NRO, the number of fundraisers actually outnumbers the "remarks," presumably because remarks at some fundraisers are not made public.
    While it would be foolish to assert that the president doesn't truly have a "lot of responsibilities," it is obvious he takes his responsibility to get himself reelected pretty seriously.  Certainly more serious than his effort to support Tom Barrett, who well might be wearing a T-shirt these days reading, "I ran against Scott Walker in the Wisconsin recall and all I got from Barrack Obama was this tepid tweet."


As November approaches and the president's schedule fills up with campaign and non-campaign related responsibilities, he might want to schedule the following tweet to go out on the evening of November 5th:
It's Election Day in America tomorrow, and I'm standing by. I'd make an outstanding president. -bo 
I'm sure Tom Barrett would be happy to retweet it.

Monday, June 11, 2012

President Obama Calls for 75,000 Teachers To Be Fired

    In the spirit of the characterization (not "hiring more" = "firing") by the Obama 2012 campaign of Mitt Romney's remarks on teachers, firemen and police (which I commented on in the second half of this post,) President Obama today called for the firing of 75,000 teachers.  Around 5 PM on Monday, @BarackObama tweeted this:


A mere 45 minutes later, this tweet came out:


No explanation was given for slashing 20% off the previous total of 400,000 educators.  For some reason, the White House feels those 75,000 teachers' jobs no longer need support.  Hey, maybe the public sector is "doing fine" now, too!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Dreams From My Father's Day [Updated]

    Back in May, I commented briefly on the, um, unique Mother's Day offerings from the White House.  The card is still available on the website in case you missed it, at http://www.whitehouse.gov/mothersday/:


So imagine my disappointment when I tried to get a sneak peak at what might be in store for me a week from now on Father's Day and all I found was this at http://www.whitehouse.gov/fathersday/:


My first thought was that perhaps since the election is drawing near, the holiday duties were shifted to the Barack Obama 2012 campaign, so I headed over to their website.  I looked up Mother's Day first, and sure enough, there was a wealth of mom-related information.  You could sign a Mother's Day card to Michelle Obama, shop for Mother's Day gifts in the store, and there were even seven helpful Mother's Day Facts about how Barack Obama had helped mothers and their families that perhaps could make for some stimulating conversation with mom around the dinner table as you celebrate her day.
    You can imagine how I was now on pins and needles about what might be in store for me and other fathers in only seven days!  Instead, a pin was inserted in my bubble of anticipation as the results were somewhat less than overwhelming...

Thaaaaaat's right.  Three results.  Gift ideas and two locally-sponsored combination Father's Day/campaign events.  Nothing says Happy Father's Day like a Phone Bank. [Update:  As of Tuesday, there are now five results, including another Phone Bank!  You can't keep a good idea down.]

    So what are we to make of this?  Is there some larger political message about how much value the White House or the Barack Obama campaign or the Democrats value mothers and women as opposed to fathers and men?  I will leave that to others to decide.  I'm to busy trying to decide if I should ask for the Obama Golf Divot Tool or the Obama 2012 Grill Spatula.  Talk about Decision 2012!  What's a father to do?

UPDATE:  With four days to spare, the BarackObama.com website has added a page to allow supporters to sign a Father's Day card for the president.
UPDATE: Father's Day is getting some more attention at WhiteHouse.gov also.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Clarifying "Clarify"

    In a press conference this morning, President Obama had the misfortune of having his remarks reported quickly and accurately.  According to Real Clear Politics and most news organizations on the planet, the president said:
The truth of the matter is that, as I said, we created 4.3 million jobs over the last 27 months, over 800,000 just this year alone.
The private sector is doing fine. Where we're seeing weaknesses in our economy have to do with state and local government.
Within hours, the president was forced to "clarify"these remarks, or at least that's what those same news organizations are reporting that he did, in this case, ABCNews:
“It’s absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine,” the president said while sitting alongside Philippines President Benigno Aquino in the Oval Office. “That’s the reason I had a press conference. That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger. The economy is not doing fine. There are too many people out of work. The housing market is still weak, too many homes underwater and that’s precisely why I asked Congress to start taking some steps that can make a difference.”
Personally I believe that rather than "clarify," the word reporters were searching for was "repudiate."  In the same day, we heard the president say, "The private sector is doing fine" and "It’s absolutely clear the economy is not doing fine."  The equivalent would be saying that Bernie Madoff "clarified" his original denial of the $50 billion fraud scheme by confessing.

    In Obama's "clarification," there are a few other points he might need to "clarify."  He said, "That’s why I spent yesterday, the day before yesterday, this past week, this past month and this past year talking about how we can make the economy stronger."  A look at the White House website of the president's "Speeches and Remarks," however, reveal a different priority:
Speeches and Remarks

June 07, 2012
Remarks by the President on College Affordability
June 07, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
June 07, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
June 07, 2012
Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event
June 06, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
June 06, 2012
Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event
June 06, 2012
Remarks by the First Lady at a Campaign Event
June 05, 2012
Remarks by the First Lady at Disney Press Conference
June 05, 2012
Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event
June 04, 2012
Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event
June 04, 2012
Remarks by President Obama and President Clinton at a Campaign Event
June 04, 2012
Remarks by Vice President Joe Biden at the Cypress Bay High School Graduation Ceremony
June 04, 2012
Remarks by the President on Equal Pay for Equal Work via Conference Call
June 01, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event -- Private Residence, Chicago, IL
June 01, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event -- Private Residence, Chicago, IL
June 01, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event
June 01, 2012
Remarks by the President at a Campaign Event -- Bachelor Farmer Restaurant, Minneapolis, MN
Thirteen of the last seventeen "speeches and remarks" (through June 7th) were at campaign events.  Given that Obama promised to "focus like a laser beam" on the economy, it is reasonable to assume that he must think the economy is doing OK if he can afford to refocus the laser elsewhere.

    The day was not over for clarifying moments, however.  Late in the afternoon, the @BarackObama campaign Twitter account retweeted this from Ben LaBolt, the press secretary for Obama for America in Chicago:


Vice-President Joe Biden, apparently worried that someone else would get all the credit for a gaffe, decided he wanted in on the action, and he tweeted that Romney would "cut jobs for teachers and first responders." The problem, of course, as you might have guessed, was that Mitt Romney didn't say it.  Even the title of the Youtube video contradicts the claims, "Mitt Romney Criticizes President Obama For Wanting To Hire More Police, Firemen and Teachers." Romney mentions nothing about firing, only that the lesson of Wisconsin's recall-that-wasn't being government can't continue to spend money it doesn't have, even to hire more teachers, police and firemen.  Once again, the Obama campaign found itself walking back a misstatement, a practice becoming so routine as to wear a rut in the path to the podium.  Sure enough, an hour later, the campaign tweeted this:


"Fire", "not hire"... six of one, half-dozen of the other, right?  Perhaps this works in government where an increase in spending that is less than the planned increase is called a "cut," but that does not cut it in the humdrum world of the citizenry.

    So where does this leave the Obama campaign?  I think that one result that is sure to come from this difficult week of gaffes, misstatements and misrepresentations is that the Obama campaign will be much more careful, straightforward and honest for the remainder of the campaign.  Wait, let me clarify that.  No, I don't.

Green Jobs: The REAL Solution to Unemployment

    On his show Thursday, Rush Limbaugh called attention to a story that by all rights should have been shouted from the top of every windmill and solar panel in the country, and perhaps would have been were it not for the recall-that-wasn't in Wisconsin which filled the news on Wednesday.  On that day, Fox News reported that Bureau of Labor Statistics Acting Commissioner John Galvin testified at a hearing before Rep. Darrell Issa's House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform:
The Obama administration on Wednesday acknowledged a wide-ranging definition of  “green jobs” that includes bus driver, bicycle-shop clerk and other unexpected lines of employment[.] 
“Does someone who sweeps the floor at a company that makes solar panels -- is that a green job?” Issa asked.
“Yes,” replied Galvin, who also acknowledged that a bike-repair shop clerk, a hybrid-bus driver, any school bus driver and “the guy who puts gas in a school bus” are all defined as green jobs.
But this is the coup de grĂ¢ce:
He also acknowledged that an oil lobbyist, if his work is related to environmental issues, would also have a green job.
With such an expansive definition, perhaps the administration should look into reclassifying the unemployed as members of Passive Environmental Agents Conserving Energy, a reboot of the PEACE Corps.  The president could claim to have created millions upon millions of new jobs (and "green" jobs, at that,) reduced unemployment to zero, and found a justification for unlimited extension of unemployment benefits as compensation to the new PEACE Corps recruits.  If you think I am stretching the bounds of parody, just play this back a few times (via the Daily Caller):



The new PEACE Corps is sounding pretty reasonable, isn't it?

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Judging a Man By the Color of His Politics

    In a recent opinion piece in the Washington Post, Fredrick Harris, professor of political science and the director of the Institute for Research in African-American Studies at Columbia University, wrote that we in America are "still waiting for our first black president."  This may come as a surprise to anyone who was an inhabitant of earth in November 2008 or has arrived since.  But according to Mr. Harris, Barack Obama has not properly fulfilled the role that his black father apparently bequeathed to the future president merely by virtue of his race.  Mr. Harris fills his essay with phrases such as "issues of specific interest to African Americans," "issues of particular interest to us [blacks]," and "it appears that the nation is instead becoming non-racial," but the following passage just boggles the mind:
Politicians such as former governor Doug Wilder of Virginia, former Seattle mayor Norman Rice and former New York mayor David Dinkins ran campaigns that largely deemphasized race, stressing the need for racial unity and advocating policies that they said would benefit everyone, rather than any particular groups. It was probably necessary to shatter the glass ceiling and win office in majority-white jurisdictions, but these victories came at an unintended cost: They undermined the ability of black voters and activists to place race-specific policy issues on the electoral agenda.
After winning office, such race-neutral politicians don’t normally embrace issues and positions that black voters might prefer. Instead, the imperatives of reelection take over. To maintain their winning coalitions, these politicians usually need to govern in a racially neutral manner as well. (Black Americans understand this: In the 2008 ABC News-USA Today-Columbia University Black Politics Survey, nearly half of all black respondents believed that African Americans must play down their racial identity to get ahead in the United States.) [emphasis added]
    Mr. Harris is making the case that US politics is in danger of losing race as an issue, and these "race-neutral politicians" (one gets the sense Mr. Harris is using this label as a pejorative) are responsible.  The advances made by millions of individual blacks and their families are interfering with the ability of Mr. Harris and his allies to segregate the black race into a homogenous voice to advance Harris's political and social goals.

    President Obama's chief strategist David Axelrod expressed similar sentiments in reaction to talk of the conservative Marco Rubio being on the short-list of possible Romney running mates.  The Washington Times reports:
"I think it would be an insult to the Hispanic community to choose Senator Rubio ... if Governor Romney thinks that's sort of a get-out-of-jail-free card for all of the things and the positions that he's taken," Mr. Axelrod said.
    Why an insult?  Because Rubio does not fit the stereotype that Axelrod believes Hispanics/Latinos should box themselves into.  Rubio is a hypocrite for allowing his ideology to trump his racial makeup.
 
    The Democratic Party has comfortably settled into its strategy of division and group politics, even reflecting it in their campaign websites and outreach.  In an ostensible attempt to achieve equality of outcomes, the decision was made to abandon color-blindness for (as Harris puts it) "communities of color." What we are left with now is the spectacle of Fredrick Harris lamenting that Obama's "early discussions of injustice gave way to calls for policies to benefit all Americans and tough-love speeches for African Americans."   [emphasis added]  When "policies to benefit all Americans" is seen as a step down, the towel has been throw in.

    In the midst of the civil rights struggles of the 1960s, Martin Luther King famously said:
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
Traditional racists say they can tell you what kind of person someone is by the color of his skin.  Frederick Harris and David Axelrod look at the color of someone's skin and tell you what kind of person he should be.  Not much of a dream, is it?

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Personal Note

    My recent President Obama's Great Pumpkin Moment post received a tremendous number of hits on Monday, but I am having trouble determining the source of many of them from my blog statistics.  It appears to me that perhaps someone put a link in an email that was sent out Monday morning.  If any new readers who found my blog recently can tell me what that email was or who sent it, or even forward it to me, it would help satisfy my curiosity.  You can email me by clicking on the link at the top of the right column, or reply via a comment below.  Thanks for your help.

UPDATE:  Mystery solved.  Thank you.  See comment below.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Next Up for New York: The War on al-Fredo

    In 2004, Michael Bloomberg spoke the following inspiring words at the Republican National Convention in the city where he has served as mayor since 2002:
No place epitomizes the American experience and the American spirit more than New York City. Ironically, it is exactly because we are a city that embraces freedom, that welcomes everyone and encourages their dreams, that New York remains on the front lines in the war on terror.
    Eight years later, the mayor spoke to Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC about his proposal to ban the sale of soda and other sugary drinks in sizes larger than 16 oz:
"We're not taking away anybody's right to do anything," he told MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell. "We're simply forcing you to understand."
    I do not live in New York City, but I must say that I find those words considerably less inspiring, unless inspiring derision counts.  The mayor has taken on salt and trans fats, but both of those are behind-the-scenes ingredients that may cause businesses and restaurants headaches, but the consumer does not absorb the direct impact.  He also imposed wide ranging smoking bans, which, considering the checkered past of that habit, was not met with much resistance from the general public.  After all, who has had a meal spoiled because the next table was filled with people using lots of salt and trans fats and drinking enormous glasses of sugary beverages?  Smoking can actually affect other people.
    However, in his latest move, the mayor has taken things to a Hole. Nutha. Level.  The arbitrary nature of the proposal is staggering.  Sixteen ounces?  Why not twelve?  Soda?  But not beer or wine? (Exactly how many "driving while full of Pepsi" arrests are made in the city each year?)  The mayor has already been mocked for celebrating National Doughnut Day practically simultaneously with the announcement of his beverage ban.  Will the "baker's dozen" be outlawed to prevent an 8.5% increase in sugar consumption that occurs with every purchase of a dozen doughnuts at many bakeries?  Will there be a limit to the number of sugar packets one can add to a cup of tea or coffee?  Will someone be allowed to buy two 16 oz. beverages without proof that a second individual will consume the contraband drink?
    The mayor's penchant for banning behaviors he finds unwise could lead to a whole series of commercials like the Audi Green Police commercial that ran during the Super Bowl a few years back:



    I consider myself somewhat of a TV commercial connoisseur (or I was back when I used to watch TV,) and I count that one of the best ever made.  It is ironic that Audi was actually selling a "green" product while at the same time ridiculing the nannies.  But the idea is ripe for imitation in Bloomberg's latest attempt to save New Yorker's from themselves.  Who will be the first to strike back in the public relations war that is sure to come?
    If government is permitted to engage in this level of micromanagement of citizen's lives, what activity is safe?  (Besides abortion, which is, of course, untouchable and guaranteed by the Constitution.)  They came for salt, they came for sugar, can Fettuccine Alfredo be far behind with its nearly 1000 calories and 60+ grams of fat per serving?  (One can almost sense Mayor Bloomberg shuddering at the thought.)  In less than a decade, the enemy has gone from al-Qaeda to al-Fredo.  And the loser is freedom.