Sunday, 14 March 2010

SAFETY VERSUS FREEDOM

Ken Berwitz

The New York Times ran a series of letters today under the heading "Justice Dept. Lawyers Under Fire. 

This being the New York TImes, the lean of these letters was, of course, that it is wrong to attack the DOJ for hiring a number of lawyers who have defended suspected terrorists.  I won't go into the specific issues of each letter (maybe in a future blog).  But one of them - the lead letter as it happens - was particularly fascinating.  Here it is -- with my favorite paragraph in bold print:

Letters

Justice Dept. Lawyers Under Fire

To the Editor:

Re Conservatives Split Deeply Over Attacks on Justice Dept. Lawyers (front page, March 10):

I wonder what the founding fathers would have thought about Keep America Safe, which released the video criticizing Justice Department lawyers who in the past defended terrorism suspects.

 

The priority of the founding fathers was freedom, not safety. They were ready to give up their lives for the sake of freedom. I appreciate being safe in general, and safe from terrorists in particular, but I have no interest in compromising our basic freedoms in the name of safety. I would rather be in danger.

 

Many Americans throughout history have given their lives to defend our freedom and the principles spelled out in the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence (for example, all men are created equal and the right to a fair trial by jury).

 

Our men and women in uniform serve also in the name of protecting our safety, but when safety and freedom are at odds, as in the fight against terrorism, we should, like the founding fathers, embrace danger in the short term in the name of freedom for all in the long term.

 

The founding fathers would most certainly not have been members of Keep America Safe.

 

Aaron Schurger
Palaiseau, France, March 10, 2010

Can anyone be this dense?  Is it possible that anyone can be this dense?  Can anyone not see the intrinsic connection between safety and freedom, or the fact that, just like Frank Sinatra sang in "Love and Marriage", you can't have one without the other?

Does Aaron Schurger actually believe that, if asked, the founding fathers would say "We're primarily interested in freedom.  And the safety of our citizens is secondary to us"?  If so, he needs to find a doctor who reverses lobotomies.

Using this genius's "logic", Andrew Jackson should have been busted and jailed for declaring and enforcing martial law in New Orleans during the war of 1812.  And Lincoln should have been impeached, convicted and hung for declaring martial law during the civil war.  Ditto for FDR, who oversaw martial law in the then-territory of Hawaii from 1939 to the end of WWII.

I have to wonder what Schurger thinks we - or for that matter, France, where he is writing from - have a military for.  Does he think that our armed forces consider the safety and well being of US citizens as a secondary matter?

Look, my eyes are wide open here.  I know there are brain stems like this all over the place.  I accept that as a matter of God's uneven distribution of common sense.

But a major newspaper (which the New York Times is, despite its plunge in readership over recent years) making it the lead letter on this issue

Yikes.  That's about as ripe as it gets, even for the Times.

Aaron Schurger I have no problem with martial law when called for, and as I stated in my letter, I safety is something that I greatly value. But what happens when safety and freedom are at odds? Then what? Does safety trump freedom? I don't think there's an easy answer. The fact that I lean toward favoring freedom over safety when the two are at odds certainly doesn't make me in need of a "reverse lobotomy". The safest thing to do in 1776 would have been to pander to the Brits and "keep everyone safe". Launching a revolutionary war certainly did not make anyone safer! At least not in the short term. Freedom was more important, and people were willing to (and did) die for it. There are times when martial law may be called for, but what happens when the dust settles? How do you deal with "offenders"? Should you compromise the freedoms that many great men died to obtain for us all? My point: I'd rather not. (04/24/11)

(Anon) .... ..... “Conservatives Split Deeply Over Attacks on Justice Dept. Lawyers” ...... ..... ..... Half the Conservatives want to Tar and Feather the JD Lawyers. .... .... .... The others want to take the JD Lawyers and Boil Them in Oil. .... .... A serious split, to be sure. (03/14/10)

Zeke ... Sorry ... my nick did not get posted with the above comment .... Tar and Feather; Boil in Oil (03/14/10)


"DIRTY DAVE" AXELROD

Ken Berwitz

Just what we need from the Obama administration:  an obnoxious show of macho bravado from David Axelrod, who seems to think he is the Obama administration's answer to Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry" character.

From Byron York of the Washington Examiner (bold print is mine):

Axelrod threat to GOP: 'Make my day'

By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
03/14/10 12:35 PM EDT

 

Top White House adviser David Axelrod says that if Congress passes the Democrats' national health care bill, it will be politically impossible for Republicans to undo the changes brought by the massive legislation. "I say, Let's have that fight. Make my day," Axelrod said on "Meet the Press." "I'm ready to have that, and every member of Congress ought to be willing to have that debate was well."

 

Axelrod made the point as he put forward the now-common argument that House Democrats who have already voted for the health care bill once should do so again because they will be attacked by Republican opponents this fall whatever they do.

 

"I've said many times that they've got a vote that Republicans and the insurance industry and others can run against them already," Axelrod said. "What they don't have is the accomplishment. If this bill passes, this year, children with pre-existing conditions will now be covered. There will be an end to lifetime caps and annual caps on what the insurance companies will cover, so if you get sick you won't go broke, if you get sick they won't throw you off your insurance. The doughnut hole will be filled in, so senior citizens will save hundreds of dollars on their prescription drugs. The life of Medicare will be extended, and on and on and on."

 

There are holes galore in Axelrod's statement. The Senate health care bill, for example, does not eliminate the insurance coverage caps as Axelrod claims. Bans on discrimination against people with pre-existing conditions have been scaled back. And experts agree that taking money out of Medicare, as the bill does, would not extend the life of Medicare if that money is used to pay for the new health care entitlement instead of shoring up Medicare. Nevertheless, Axelrod said he is ready for a fight.

 

"So if the Republican party wants to go out and say to that child, who now has insurance," Axelrod continued, "or say to that small business that will get tax credits this year if [President Obama] signs the bill to help their employees get health care, if [Republicans] want to say to them, 'You know what, we're actually going to take that away from you, we don't think that's such a good idea' -- I say let's have that fight. Make my day. I'm ready to have that, and every member of Congress ought to be willing to have that debate was well."

Note to "Dirty Dave":  I've read the polls and spoken to a lot of people - including a lot of people who usually side with the Obama administration.  My conclusion?  The best thing that can happen for the Democratic Party is the best thing that can happen for the country:  the voting down of ObamaCare.

But that does not happen; if Obama, Pelosi, etc. arm-twist and bribe enough congresspeople to pass it?  Democrats will probably lose the house in November and will be lucky if they hold the senate.  

And the more money that is pumped into ObamaCare for the years (including election year 2012) that no benefits accrue to the taxpayers who are funding it?  The worse things are going to get.

Maybe the Republicans should be answering Axelrod with "Oh yeah?  Make my midterm elections".


HEALTH CARE - THE BENENSON MODEL

Ken Berwitz

First, a quick bit of disclosure:  I met and chatted with Joel Benenson at - if memory serves correctly - the Advertising Research Foundation conference in 2008.  I found him to be intelligent, very aggressive and very, very pro-Barack Obama (no surprise, given that he was working for Mr. Obama then, as now).

That said, please read the following piece by Walter Alarkon, via Rick Moran at American Thinker.  Then you can wonder, along with me, what dream world Mr. Benenson is inhabiting these days:

March 14, 2010

Obama pollster: America will heart Obamacare once it's passed

Rick Moran

 

Is it any wonder they've lost touch with reality in the White House? From an article by Walter Alarkon in The Hill:

President Barack Obama's pollster said the healthcare bill will win over public support once it becomes law despite polls showing Americans against the plan.

The argument by Joel Benenson, Obama's lead pollster, rests on a chunk of Americans who now oppose the bill supporting it after it's passed. Benenson said that group -- which is anywhere from a tenth to a third of Americans, according surveys by CNN and Ipsos -- is skeptical of the bill because it doesn't go far enough.

"When it comes to health care and insurance, once reform passes, the tangible benefits Americans will realize will trump the fear-mongering rhetoric opponents are stoking today," Benenson wrote in a Washington Post op-ed Saturday.

Republicans and other opponents of the bill say it's simpler than that. According to the Pollster.com average of all polls, 48 percent of the country oppose the healthcare bill and 44 percent support it.

The poll numbers are being wielded as evidence by both sides as they make their final cases to members of Congress, who are scheduled to begin final votes on the package late next week.

Benenson's argument was a partial response to two other Democratic pollsters who warned of a big GOP victory if healthcare passes.

Yeah sure. It could happen. No, really - pigs can fly too!

That pollster is hanging his hat on some pretty tenuous assumptions. The idea that a third of Americans don't think the bill went far enough is ludicrous - snort worthy. It may be a tenth although how many Dennis Kucinich's are there in the country?

Secondly, nobody believes the Democrats when they try to hype what this bill will do. No one thinks premiums will drop, care quality improve, or Medicare will be protected. And the pollster doesn't even bother to get into the nearly 40% of Americans who are "strongly opposed" to the bill. Where he's going to get a majority who approve of it when so many are absolutely dead set against it is a mystery.

They are fantasizing in the White House if they believe this crap.

A few points are in order:

-Most major polls show that this country does not want ObamaCare.  Some of them are a lot more definitive than the average Mr. Moran puts up for us (e.g. Quinnipiac:  35% for, 58% against, ABC/Wash. Post:  43% - 53%, CBS/NYTimes 35%-55%, Newsweek: 39%-52%, Fox: 37%-56%).  How does this square with the dream world Mr. Benenson is presenting?;

-Common sense tells me that a disproportionate percentage of ObamaCare supporters are among the people who would get free, or reduced-rate health care they currently do not get now.  Common sense also tells me that a disproportionate percentage of these people already are Democratic voters.  If I am right, it also means that a disproportionately high percentage of swing voters are among the rejectors.  This is supposed to help Obama?

-Even if you assume that some naysayers would change their mind after seeing what the legislation does for them, it is impossible for that to happen for four years - because, for the next four years, we would be paying for ObamaCare but the benefits, such as they are, would not kick in.  That obviously has far more potential for turning supporters against the legislation, than turning people already against it into supporters.

Add these factors up and see if you come out with any basis for thinking a multi-trillion dollar takeover of the country's health care will "win over public support once it becomes law". 

Do you see it?  If so, tell me how.  Because I sure don't.


100 MILLION REASONS TO THINK HARDER ABOUT ABORTION

Ken Berwitz

As regular readers of this blog know, I support a woman's right to abort a fetus, at least until there is a beating heart and brain activity, which is when I consider it a child.  I also support all birth control methods, and later-term abortions if the mother's life is genuinely threatened.

Now that there is no doubt about where I am coming from on abortion, I will post Jeff Jacoby's latest column - which should make anyone who believes in abortion on demand think twice, and twice again about its consequences.  The bold print is mine:

100 million 'missing' girls

by Jeff Jacoby
The Boston Globe
March 14, 2010

IN INDIA each year, it is estimated, as many as a million baby girls are aborted by parents determined not to raise a daughter. Those unborn girls are the victims of a fierce cultural preference for boys -- and of modern imaging technology that makes it easy to learn the sex of a baby in the womb. Ultrasound scans started becoming widely available in India in the 1980s; since then, an estimated 10 million female babies have been destroyed during pregnancy.

Sex-selection tests are illegal in India. So are sex-selective abortions. But the laws are rarely enforced and easily circumvented. Rather than openly disclose the sex of a fetus after an ultrasound exam, for example, some Indian doctors signal the results by giving the parents pink or blue candies or candles. Others dispense with subtlety altogether, advertising their services with such brazen slogans as "Spend 500 rupees now and save 50,000 rupees later" -- an allusion to the potentially crippling dowry that an Indian bride's parents are expected to pay when their daughter gets married. Many couples have taken that deal. The result is an alarming shortage of young Indian women -- and a growing population of young Indian men with little prospect of finding a wife.

It isn't only in India that unborn girls are being killed on such a mass scale.

Last week, in a chilling cover story titled "The worldwide war on baby girls," The Economist noted that in many parts of China, the ratio of boys to girls is now 124-to-100. "These rates are biologically impossible without human intervention," the magazine observed, and their consequences will be dire. The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences recently warned that within 10 years, 24 million Chinese men will find themselves condemned to permanent bachelorhood. Among Chinese 19 and younger, the prospects are even worse: By 2020, there will be 30 million to 40 million more males in this age group than females. That is a staggering number of what the Chinese call guanggun, or "bare branches" -- young males with little prospect of marriage and a stable family life.

"In any country," says The Economist, "rootless young males spell trouble; in Asian societies, where marriage and children are the recognized routes into society, single men are almost like outlaws. Crime rates, bride trafficking, sexual violence, even female suicide rates are all rising and will rise further as the lopsided generations reach their maturity."

The war against baby girls has spread to South Korea, Singapore, and Taiwan, to the former Soviet republics of Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia, and even to Asian-American communities in the United States. In 1990, the Indian economist and Nobel laureate Amartya Sen estimated that more than 100 million women were "missing" worldwide, the result of "terrible . . . inequality and neglect" of girls and women in much of Asia and Africa. Twenty years later, the toll is far higher. And if you think that the antidote to this "gendercide" is modernization, better living standards, and more education, think again.

"It is not the country's poorest but its richest who are eliminating baby girls at the highest rate, regardless of religion or caste," the Times of London reported in 2007. "Delhi's leafiest suburbs have among the lowest ratio of girls to boys in India, while the two states with the absolute lowest ratio are those with the highest per-capita income: Punjab and Haryana." Similarly in China, the higher a province's literacy rate or income per head, the more skewed its sexual disparities.

It is not material poverty that leads these cultures to blithely accept the killing of their very youngest girls. It is a poverty of values, an ancient prejudice that views daughters as a financial burden to be avoided, rather than a blessing to be cherished.

In Message from an Unknown Chinese Mother, the Chinese author Xinran Xue writes about visiting a peasant family in Shandong while the mother is giving birth. The baby turns out to be a girl, and Xinran hears "a man's gruff voice [say] accusingly: 'Useless thing!'" To her horror, the "useless thing" is thrown into a pail of slops to be drowned. When Xinran protests -- "But that's murder!" -- an older woman tells her: "Doing a baby girl is not a big thing around here."

"That's a living child," I said in a shaking voice, pointing at the slops pail.

"It's not a child," she corrected me. "It's a girl baby, and we can't keep it. Around these parts, you can't get by without a son. Girl babies don't count."

On its cover, The Economist asks: "What happened to 100 million baby girls?" The answer is simple -- and sickening: They didn't count.

I wonder how many abortion on demand advocates anticipated the holocaust it would wreak on women.  Not many, I suspect.  But there it is, in black and white.

I'm not a biblical scholar or anything near one.  But that famous passage "For they have sown the wind and they shall reap the whirlwind" (Hosea 8:7) comes to mind here.

It's certainly something to think about.


THE NOBAMA TOUR: WIDENING

Ken Berwitz

The Nobama tour.  The places where Democratic incumbents hope that Barack Obama does not show up.

Last week we saw it in Missouri.  Now we're seeing it in various places around the country.

From Jonathan Martin's article at politico.com:

Demand for Obama wanes among moderate Democrats

By JONATHAN MARTIN | 3/14/10 7:05 AM EDT

 

Moderate House Democrats facing potentially difficult re-elections this fall have a message for President Barack Obama: dont call us, well call you.

 

Interviews with nearly a dozen congressional Democrats on the ballot this year reveal a decided lack of enthusiasm for having Obama come to their districts to campaign for themthe most basic gauge of a presidents popularity.

 

Some cite the presidents surely busy schedule. Others point to a practice of not bringing in national politicians to appear on their behalf. While these members arent necessarily attempting to distance themselves from the administration, there is nevertheless a noticeable reluctance to embrace him by a certain class of incumbent now that the presidents approval rating has fallen to a new low in the latest Gallup survey, 46 percent.

 

Its not an unusual development -  President George W. Bush suffered a similar fate. As his popularity dipped and he became a more polarizing figure, few moderate Republicans wanted to be seen with him in their states for fear the association would be used against them by their rivals.

 

The difference, however, is that Bush was narrowly elected twice in a country divided between red and blue states, while Obama shredded that map. With his success in the interior West and upper South, Obama was thought to be such a political asset that he could play most anywhere in the country.

 

But the sense of uncertainty over what-to-do-with-Obama seen last year in Virginia where Democratic gubernatorial candidate Creigh Deeds wrestled with whether to run with or from the president before ultimately embracing him in the campaigns final weeksnow seems to be evolving into a firmer feeling among many centrist Democrats that theyd be better off without him appearing in their districts with them.

 

The White House got a taste of the awkwardness to come last week in Missouri when Democratic Senate candidate Robin Carnahan and Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) were both no-shows at a fundraiser Obama keynoted in suburban St. Louis. (Sen. Claire McCaskill, an early Obama supporter who received some of the events proceeds for her 2012 re-election campaign, did attend.).

As you can see, the Nobama tour is spreading.

And since Mr. Obama's position on health care is unpopular and he has no coattails, you can expect it to spread more and more as time goes on.

Just about everyone agrees that this is not shaping up as a good year for Democrats.  But it may be a particularly bad one for President Obama; one that casts a pall over his entire presidency.  

We'll see.....

Zeke ... .... .... Not to worry .... They can send Billy J. Clinton around to campaign for the candidates. Billy J. has done this many times ... ... ... Offhand, I can't think of a single candidate he promoted that actually got elected. .... (03/14/10)


IN CASE YOU'RE WONDERING ABOUT SCOTT BROWN'S RESOLVE

Ken Berwitz

Newly elected Senator Scott Brown (R-MA...and doesn't that look strange!) has voted with the Democratic majority on several bills since taking office.  To some, this suggests that, instead of simply being a senator who decides what is and isn't right irrespective of his party affiliation, he might be a turncoat who would also vote in favor of the ObamaCare he ran against.

For those folks, I am posting the following excerpt from an article in the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON (AP) - Newly arrived Republican Sen. Scott Brown of Massachusetts accused President Barack Obama and Democrats on Saturday of a "bitter, destructive and endless" drive to pass health overhaul legislation that Brown warned would be disastrous.

"An entire year has gone to waste," Brown said in the weekly GOP radio and Internet address. "Millions of Americans have lost their jobs, and many more jobs are in danger. Even now, the president still hasn't gotten the message.

"Somehow, the greater the public opposition to the health care bill, the more determined they seem to force it on us anyway."

There's your no-doubt-about-it answer.

Ironically, Brown is not against universal health care per se.  While a state senator, he voted for it in Massachusetts.  His objection is in taking the decisions away from individual states and nationalizing health care.  In other words, he wants the states to be in charge of what is not specifically mandated as federal powers -- just like the constitution says.

Let's see:  Independent, serious about the constitution.........y'know, the more I hear about this guy, the more I like. 


A MODEL FOR THE ARAB MIDDLE EAST

Ken Berwitz

From Stefan Karlsson, writing for the Christian Science Monitor:

Stefan Karlsson's Blog

In Israel, business takes the lead

Market reforms and a high-tech push have boosted business in Israel, reducing the role of government.

 

 

By Stefan Karlsson Guest blogger / March 14, 2010

 

Back in 2002, anti-Israel libertarian writer Justin Raimondo wrote a column where he characterized Israel as a "socialist Sparta" (The reference to Sparta is meant to imply that Israeli society is militaristic, just like the society of ancient Greek city-state Sparta was). Most of his column was nonsense, including his predictions of Israel becoming more socialist and economically weaker (see more below on what actually happened ), but the accusation of being a "socialist Sparta" wasn't entirely misleading.

In the early 1980s, more than a third (34%) of Israel's GDP went to government consumption spending (most of it military spending). Meanwhile, tax rates were very high and inflation was even higher, while the collectivist kibbutz movement played a significant role in the economy.

While Israel was very strong militarily, having defeated in wars the much larger nations of Egypt and Syria (helped in varying degrees by other Arab governments and particularly in the 1973 war by the Soviet Union) repeatedly, in 1948, 1956 (only Egypt that time), 1967, 1973 and 1982 (only Syria that time), its economy wasn't strong. While per capita income was well above the level in Arab countries with little or no oil, it was well below the levels in the West (and more oil rich Arab states). With its strong military and weak economy, Milton Friedman (who was himself Jewish) remarked half-jokingly that "Israel disproved every Jewish stereotype. People used to think Jews were good cooks, good economic managers and bad soldiers; Israel proved them wrong."

However, the share of GDP going to government consumption fell steadily from the mid-1980s to 2000, to 26%. At the same time a lot of other free market reforms were made, including a reduction in the top marginal income tax being reduced from 66% to 48%, deregulation and last but not least a reduction of triple digit (200%) inflation rates to the normal single digit levels normal economies have.

As a result of these more market oriented policies, as well as the global tech boom and the large inflow of Jewish immigrants from the former Soviet Union, Israel enjoyed a very strong boom during the 1990s.

Between 2000 and 2003, Israel's economy suffered a serious setback, however. This was in part due to the end of the tech bubble, which hit the high tech oriented Israeli economy particularly hard. The collapse of the Camp David peace talks and the "second intifada" that followed made matters worse. The second intifada was much more damaging to Israel than the first. The first intifada involved mainly rock throwing Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank. The second meant a wave of suicide bombings inside pre-1967 Israel. As the suicide bombers targeted places where they hoped to kill or maim as many Jews as possible, for example busses, night clubs and cafes, the service sector was damaged as people increasingly stayed at home out of fear of the suicide bombings.

The result of the bursted tech bubble and the second intifada was a significant (though not dramatic) drop in per capita income between 2000 and 2003, and because of the weak economy and the increased spending on counter-terrorist military operations, the share of the economy going to government consumption rose.

After 2003, however, the situation started to improve. The success of many of these operations in destroying Palestinian terror cells combined with the gradual construction of the security fence gradually reduced the number of suicide bombings, and during the last two years (As the fence has been completed) suicide bombings have disappeared completely. With the end of suicide bombings, the civilian service sector has been able to recover and boom.

Meanwhile, the global high tech sector have again started to boom, benefiting Israeli manufacturing. Also, because of the free market reforms and the radically reduced need for counter-terrorist military operations after the completion of the security fence, military spending has been reduced, enabling the government to reduce the budget deficit and also cut taxes.

As a result, Israel's economy has boomed since 2003. Between 2003 and 2009, GDP growth averaged 4% per year, far more than in just about all other Western economies. Even if you adjust for Israel's high population growth, per capita GDP growth was a impressive (Since it includes the crisis years of 2008 and 2009) 2.2%.

Because of the boom, the reduced need for military spending and a deliberate policy of reducing the role of government, government spending has dropped significantly as relative to the size of the economy. Between 2003 and 2009, government consumption fell from 27.8% of GDP to 24.2%. Military spending in particular fell, from 8.6% of GDP in 2003 to 6.5% in 2009, but non-military government consumption also fell, from 19.2% to 17.7%.

Government spending and tax rates are now lower than in most Western European countries, even including military spending, and even more so excluding it. And after the Bush tax cuts expire next year, the top income tax rate (at 45%, scheduled to be reduced to 44% in 2012 and 39% in 2016) will be lower than in many American states, including California and New York. And the corporate income tax rate will be lower than in all American states.

There are likely several reasons behind this transformation. With regard to the reduced role of the military, that is mainly a result of a reduced threat of an Arab invasion, something which in turn is the result of the peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan and the end of the former backer of Arab attacks on Israel ( By that I am of course referring to the Soviet Union). And with the completion of the security fence, the need for military operations in the West Bank has been dramatically reduced.

The causes of the general orientation towards free markets include that after the Israeli economy hit the wall in the 1980s, it became evident for most that the Israeli economy needed reform. Similarly, the dismal results of the Kibbutz communities more or less compelled them to become more market oriented. Another reason is Benjamin Netanyahu as a person. He has agitated for free market reforms relentlessly since the early 1990s, and given the influence he has had (as Prime Minister, Finance Minister and pundit) since then this is a key reason for the transformation. Netanyahu has even expressed a vision that Israel should try to become "the Hong Kong of the Middle East" (referring to Hong Kong's reputation as the freest economy of the world).

Israel may still be far away from Netanyahu's long-term vision of becoming a "Hong Kong of the Middle East", but it has in fact gradually moved in that direction since the 1980s, and as a result it has enjoyed an economic boom most of the time (With the 2000 to 2003 period being the worst setback). And as a result of this, it has also moved further and further away from the "Socialist Sparta" status.

What a concept!  Less military activity, more industry, more progress, lower taxes, better living standards. 

I've often said that if Israel's Arab neighbors would stop trying to kill Israelis and start trying to learn from them, both sides would be dramatically better off.  This article is a great example of what I'm talking about - especially for Gaza and Judea/Samaria (the west bank), which would benefit most of all and be Israel's most prolific partners in prosperity.

How I wish this were something more than just a wistful dream in a blog.


RACHEL MADDOW AND LYING

Ken Berwitz

Why does Rachel Maddow lie? 

Is she really so desperate to hold onto her hard-left viewership that she has to make things up to keep them?

Read this piece by Jack Coleman at www.newsbusters.org and you tell me:

Maddow, Still Bravely Struggling With Accuracy, Makes False Claims About Stupak and Abortion Funding

By Jack Coleman
Sun, 03/14/2010 - 00:20 ET

Rachel Maddow has to get it right eventually, what with the law of averages and all. We'll just have to remain patient.

Latest targest of her self-righteous wrath? Congressman Bart Stupak, apostate Democrat of Michigan, for his opposition to taxpayer-funded abortion. 

Here's Maddow from her MSNBC show on Wednesday, alleging deceit by Stupak while engaging in it herself twice over -- 

MADDOW: One of the things that folks have not paid much attention to as they've been putting Bart Stupak on TV and giving him more attention than he's ever had in his life is that Bart Stupak never seems to name this bloc of people who he supposedly represents, this bloc of Stupac-following members of Congress who he supposedly speaks for. Well, last month Congressman Stupak said it was 15 to 20 unnamed members of the House who he said had major concerns about the bill.

Footage is then shown of Stupak on Fox News from Feb. 24 --

STUPAK: ... But at least to the House members I've talked to, probably about 15 or 20 of them in the last 24 hours, they've said there are other problems with this bill.

MADDOW (initially echoing Stupak): Fifteen to 20 members have problems with this bill, 15 to 20, (sotto voce) don't worry about who they are.

Operative word from Stupak's remarks on Feb. 24 -- other. As in, concerns other than abortion. Here is a fleshed-out version of what Stupak said, shorn of Maddow's selective editing (link here for Fox segment in entirety; remarks below start at 2:07) --

BILL HEMMER: Whether it's reconciliation or whether it's even the language that you want, I mean, as it stands now with all these moderate Democrats saying, hey, this is not the place where we want to go right now, could it even pass in the House do you think?

STUPAK: Well, despite the abortion language, no, there's other problems with this bill. The president has tried to bridge the House and Senate bill, but at least to the House members I've talked to, probably about 15 or 20 of them in the last 24 hours, they've said there are other problems with this bill.

See what Maddow does here? She cites Stupak's remarks from Feb. 24 as alleged evidence of his assertion that "15 to 20" House members were aligned with him in opposition to abortion language in the Senate health bill. But as my de-Maddowed retelling of Stupak's comments makes clear, the "15 to 20" House members he referred to had concerns "other" than abortion.

The context in which Stupak spoke to Fox News is also relevant, which explains why Maddow doesn't mention it. Feb. 24 was one day before the kabuki theater that came to be known as the Blair House summit on health care -- all the more reason for Stupak to touch base with House colleagues.

Maddow suggests further deceit on Stupak's part by implying he was hiding the identities of these 15 to 20 House members because this anti-abortion bloc is much smaller. The number is closer to four or five, Maddow tells her viewers Wednesday. How does Maddow arrive at these numbers? From a single unnamed source she identifies as a "senior House leadership aide" who came by this info after "an informal whip count." Translation: a few phone calls.  (click here for full segment; 3:19 for Maddow citing source)

In the same program, Maddow accuses Stupak of more deception, this time in disputing Stupak's assertion that the Senate health bill provides federal funding for abortion (second part of embedded video) --

MADDOW (initially referring to budget reconciliation): There's also the increasingly awkward fact that the problem Mr. Stupak is trying to solve with his solution that can't be done, the problem itself does not exist. Mr. Stupak keeps saying the Senate bill would subsidize abortions, right?

Footage is then shown of Stupak on "Good Morning America" on March 4 --

STUPAK: The bill that they're using as the vehicle is the Senate bill and if you go to page 2,069 through page 2,078, you will find in there, the federal government would directly subsidize abortions ...

MADDOW: I love the cite-the-page-numbers trick, it sounds so authoritative, right? But if you actually go to the section of the bill that Congressman Stupak is citing, turns out that's the part of the bill that points out that he's lying. (reads from bill) 'If a qualified health plan provides coverage of [abortion], the issuer of the plan shall not use any amount attributable to any [government funds] for purposes of paying for such services ..."

Shall not. Shall not. Shall not subsidize abortions.

Count me as a fan of the cite-the-page-numbers trick as well. I'm especially enamored of what's in the section of the Senate health bill immediately preceding the one cited by Maddow (follow this link for the bill; see page 2,071) The section is titled as follows, with capitalized letters in the original -- "ABORTIONS FOR WHICH PUBLIC FUNDING IS ALLOWED".

As in, public funding for abortions. Once again, a la Maddow -- public funding for abortions. A third time, in case she still misses it -- P-U-B-L-I-C  F-U-N-D-I-N-G  F-O-R  A-B-O-R-T-I-O-N-S.

Gee, where would Congressman Stupak get that impression?

Who knows, maybe the section cited by Maddow trumps the one I'm referring to. The bill is written in such dense legalese that only high clergy of the courts would be able to decipher it and they wouldn't agree on the language either.

At the very least, the presence of both provisions in the legislation is a problem, regardless of how strenuously pro-abortion liberals like Maddow claim only one exists.

That is truly pathetic.  Right out of the USSR playbook. 

And, as I have chronicled over the months and years here, Maddow is far from the only one at MSNBC who does this.

Is it just coincidence?  Yeah, sure...just like the sun rising in the east and the seasons following each other.


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