Monday, January 30, 2012

Cruising the Web

Warren Kozak explodes the myth that Americans are going hungry. There is no evidence of that. And he has some amazing statistics on the fraud going on in food stamps. He says that "two out of three lunches served in schools are free or nearly free." Obviously, that means that many lunches are going to people who are not really poor. Either that or middle class children aren't buying school lunches because the food is so nasty and it is mostly poor children who are getting it. Having had to do duty in school cafeterias, I can believe that.

Mary Anastasia O'Grady notes how the Castro regime clamps down so tightly on media reports out of the country that co-opted journalists will report on supposed reforms in the country but that there is a news blackout on the death of a brave dissident.

NBC might grump about a Romney ad that uses part of a Tom Brokaw broadcast, but they're legally obliged to run it.

The Democrats are so hopeless in their fight against the Keystone XL pipeline that all they seem to have left now is the possibility that the Koch brothers may benefit from the pipeline's construction even if there is no evidence that they have any financial stake in the matter. Just waving around their name seems to be enough for Henry Waxman. Meanwhile, Obama's new best friend, Warren Buffett stands to substantially benefit from the decision not to build the pipeline. Funny how that works.

Mark Steyn has a hilarious riff on Thomas Friedman's use of Castro's criticism of the GOP nomination fight to just slam Friedman's reach for Castro's imprimatur in making fun of the GOP candidates.
Thomas L Friedman, the Bedrock of the New York Times op-ed page, thought this was such a startlingly insightful observation that he opened this week’s drooling paean to globalization with it:
When Marxists are complaining that your party’s candidates are disconnected from today’s global realities, it’s generally not a good sign.
Aside from the minor detail that Marxists have been complaining about the disconnect between pro-market political parties and “global reality” since the original Marxist sat in the Reading Room of the British Library riffing on the internal contradictions of capitalism, I was struck by Mr Friedman’s sparkling way with words. I’m not a credentialed Professor of Prose Style at Columbia School of Journalism or anything, but, for the “it’s generally not a good sign”/”you know you’ve got a problem” cliche to work, doesn’t the bit before it have to be something unexpected or unwanted? “When Fidel Castro’s hailing the GOP platform as just the ticket, it’s generally not a good sign.” That sort of thing.

Instead, Friedman goes on to peddle his usual globalist soft-core erotica, none of which Castro would support and none of which his enslaved people have any access to.

Oh, well. When right-wing loons are complaining that your opening paragraph is entirely disconnected from the rest of the column, presumably Thomas L Friedman takes that as a good sign.
Sometimes, it's just too easy.

All you need to know about the Palestinians' real attitude toward peace with Israel is the fact that Palestinian TV aired praise of the two men who killed an Israeli family of five including two children and a three-month old baby.

Joe Scarborough tells a story about Newt Gingrich's leadership as Speaker that is quite similar to one that Tom Coburn told in his own book. The story isn't so much that Gingrich tried to intimidate some members of his caucus, but that he did so in service of increasing spending on congressional committees, not exactly the image he hopes to promote today.

Ross Douhat has a well-argued column today about the coercion used by the Obama administration against religious organizations requiring them to offer health insurance plans that cover procedures that they condemn.
Critics of the administration’s policy are framing this as a religious liberty issue, and rightly so. But what’s at stake here is bigger even than religious freedom. The Obama White House’s decision is a threat to any kind of voluntary community that doesn’t share the moral sensibilities of whichever party controls the health care bureaucracy.

The Catholic Church’s position on contraception is not widely appreciated, to put it mildly, and many liberals are inclined to see the White House’s decision as a blow for the progressive cause. They should think again. Once claimed, such powers tend to be used in ways that nobody quite anticipated, and the logic behind these regulations could be applied in equally punitive ways by administrations with very different values from this one.

The more the federal government becomes an instrument of culture war, the greater the incentive for both conservatives and liberals to expand its powers and turn them to ideological ends. It is Catholics hospitals today; it will be someone else tomorrow.

The White House attack on conscience is a vindication of health care reform’s critics, who saw exactly this kind of overreach coming. But it’s also an intimation of a darker American future, in which our voluntary communities wither away and government becomes the only word we have for the things we do together.
Here's a nice story about how the actress, Sonja Sohn, who played Kima on "The Wire" has been trying to give back the same sorts of young people depicted living in no-hope environments.

John J. Pitney, who is a conservative, explains why Newt Gingrich would lose in a debate with Obama.

George Will has a great column about how willing Barack Obama is to take a command approach to domestic affairs.
Obama, aspiring to command civilian life, has said that in reforming health care, he would have preferred an “elegant, academically approved” plan without “legislative fingerprints on it” but “unfortunately” he had to conduct “negotiations with a lot of different people.” His campaign mantra “We can’t wait!” expresses progressivism’s impatience with our constitutional system of concurrent majorities. To enact and execute federal laws under Madison’s institutional architecture requires three, and sometimes more, such majorities. There must be majorities in the House and Senate, each body having distinctive constituencies and electoral rhythms. The law must be affirmed by the president, who has a distinctive electoral base and election schedule. Supermajorities in both houses of Congress are required to override presidential vetoes. And a Supreme Court majority is required to sustain laws against constitutional challenges.

“We can’t wait!” exclaims Obama, who makes recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess, multiplies “czars” to further nullify the Senate’s constitutional prerogative to advise and consent, and creates agencies (e.g., Obamacare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board and Dodd-Frank’s Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) untethered from legislative accountability.

Like other progressive presidents fond of military metaphors, he rejects the patience of politics required by the Constitution he has sworn to uphold.
No wonder progressives from Woodrow Wilson onwards have bemoaned the backwardness of the Constitution since it makes their attempt to impose whatever nostrums they decide are good for us.

Reuters is upset that they published a hit piece on Marco Rubio that turned out to be chockfull of inaccuracies and mistakes. The question is why they would have been interested in such an article in the first place. And why didn't they check with Rubio himself before they published it? It wasn't like this was breaking news that had to be rushed to press without time to check it. And the whole point of the article was supposed to be that Rubio couldn't be a VP nominee because he was behind on his mortgage, although that was one of the errors of the piece. Huh, that is supposed to be a disqualifier?

James Q. Wilson has a great essay
about why we shouldn't be blaming the rich for income inequality.
In other words, the country has become more prosperous, as measured not by income but by consumption: In constant dollars, consumption by people in the lowest quintile rose by more than 40 percent over the past four decades.

Income as measured by the federal government is not a reliable indicator of well-being, but consumption is. Though poverty is a problem, it has become less of one.
The real story is the poor.