Commentary Magazine


Posts For: April 13, 2011

Live-Blogging the Budget Speech: What Is the Budget Fight About?

It’s not about numbers on a piece of paper, says Obama. It’s not about taxing and spending. It’s about what we want from our future: “and that’s what I want to spend some time talking about today.” (Especially if it allows him to be as vague as possible while dodging any issues that might anger his base).

It’s not about numbers on a piece of paper, says Obama. It’s not about taxing and spending. It’s about what we want from our future: “and that’s what I want to spend some time talking about today.” (Especially if it allows him to be as vague as possible while dodging any issues that might anger his base).

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More on Planned Parenthood’s Fuzzy Math

Liberals continue to tout Planned Parenthood’s claim that abortions only account for 3 percent of its services. At the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney looks at the charts and finds that Planned Parenthood’s statistics are practically meaningless because they fails to define what a “service” actually is:

[T]he entire counting process here is based on arbitrary terms. Planned Parenthood, in making these stats that bloggers and politicians repeat, never really defines what a “service” is. Is a service a visit? Does it make sense to use “service” as a unit? Does a pregnancy test really deserve the same portion of Ezra Klein’s pie chart as a vasectomy, an abortion, or a primary care client?

And there are other problems with Planned Parenthood’s numbers. The organization also lumps in “clients” and “services” in the same categories. For example, it says that contraception made up 35 percent of its services in 2009. According to its fact sheet, this includes 2,327,662 female reversible contraception clients as well as 1,537,180 emergency contraception kits. By measuring both its clients and its products in the same category, it obscures any results.

The fact sheet also links to a chart of the contraceptive methods used by these female reversible contraceptive clients, which says that 10.5 percent of them use no method at all. Another 8.1 percent of these clients use an “other/unknown” method. Here’s a question: why are these women being counted as reversible contraceptive clients, when it sounds like they’re not even using contraceptives in the first place?

Liberals continue to tout Planned Parenthood’s claim that abortions only account for 3 percent of its services. At the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney looks at the charts and finds that Planned Parenthood’s statistics are practically meaningless because they fails to define what a “service” actually is:

[T]he entire counting process here is based on arbitrary terms. Planned Parenthood, in making these stats that bloggers and politicians repeat, never really defines what a “service” is. Is a service a visit? Does it make sense to use “service” as a unit? Does a pregnancy test really deserve the same portion of Ezra Klein’s pie chart as a vasectomy, an abortion, or a primary care client?

And there are other problems with Planned Parenthood’s numbers. The organization also lumps in “clients” and “services” in the same categories. For example, it says that contraception made up 35 percent of its services in 2009. According to its fact sheet, this includes 2,327,662 female reversible contraception clients as well as 1,537,180 emergency contraception kits. By measuring both its clients and its products in the same category, it obscures any results.

The fact sheet also links to a chart of the contraceptive methods used by these female reversible contraceptive clients, which says that 10.5 percent of them use no method at all. Another 8.1 percent of these clients use an “other/unknown” method. Here’s a question: why are these women being counted as reversible contraceptive clients, when it sounds like they’re not even using contraceptives in the first place?

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“Not Intended to Be a Factual Statement”

Here is a good example of why it’s a very bad idea for a staffer to insist that a factual statement made by a senator is not a factual statement. Having been given the opening, Stephen Colbert takes full advantage of it. Watch it for yourself.

As Alana pointed out earlier, Planned Parenthood skews its numbers when tabulating how many abortions it performs. But maybe that’s not as funny as the explanation by Senator Kyl’s staff.

Here is a good example of why it’s a very bad idea for a staffer to insist that a factual statement made by a senator is not a factual statement. Having been given the opening, Stephen Colbert takes full advantage of it. Watch it for yourself.

As Alana pointed out earlier, Planned Parenthood skews its numbers when tabulating how many abortions it performs. But maybe that’s not as funny as the explanation by Senator Kyl’s staff.

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Transparency with Clouds

Here is a reminder of yet another Obama campaign promise unfulfilled. His administration would be the most transparent in history, Obama vowed, but a new study by the Center for Public Integrity finds that the White House has been omitting names and details from the visitors’ log.

“Five junior staff aides together received more than 4,440 visits,” Politico reported. “By contrast, then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel famed for his workaholic schedule, is listed as having fewer than 500 visits.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s personal assistant Reggie Love is recorded as receiving nearly 300 visits in the West Wing—including celebrities and friends of Obama’s.

The study also found that less than 1 percent of roughly 500,000 visits during Obama’s first eight months in office have been disclosed.

The main problem with the shoddy visitors’ log is that it obscures key details of meetings with relevant political figures. AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, Obama campaign bundlers, lobbyists, and drug company CEOs regularly visit the White House. But the logs often don’t explain the purpose of the visits, or who the meetings were with.

The Obama administration claims that it has “taken unprecedented steps to increase transparency by releasing visitor records from the system each month.” But releasing the records matters very little if the information is absent or clouded with inaccuracies.

Here is a reminder of yet another Obama campaign promise unfulfilled. His administration would be the most transparent in history, Obama vowed, but a new study by the Center for Public Integrity finds that the White House has been omitting names and details from the visitors’ log.

“Five junior staff aides together received more than 4,440 visits,” Politico reported. “By contrast, then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel famed for his workaholic schedule, is listed as having fewer than 500 visits.”

Meanwhile, Obama’s personal assistant Reggie Love is recorded as receiving nearly 300 visits in the West Wing—including celebrities and friends of Obama’s.

The study also found that less than 1 percent of roughly 500,000 visits during Obama’s first eight months in office have been disclosed.

The main problem with the shoddy visitors’ log is that it obscures key details of meetings with relevant political figures. AFL-CIO head Richard Trumka, Obama campaign bundlers, lobbyists, and drug company CEOs regularly visit the White House. But the logs often don’t explain the purpose of the visits, or who the meetings were with.

The Obama administration claims that it has “taken unprecedented steps to increase transparency by releasing visitor records from the system each month.” But releasing the records matters very little if the information is absent or clouded with inaccuracies.

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Putting Away Their Childish Things

First it was President Obama; now it’s House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer who is conceding that he was wrong to have voted against an increase to the government’s debt ceiling. “I have voted against the debt limit in the past. That was a mistake,” Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat, told reporters yesterday.

The reason for this penance isn’t genuine contrition so much as the need to strengthen their position for the forthcoming debate with Republicans about raising the debt ceiling. It’s hard to lecture other lawmakers not to do what you yourself had no hesitation doing in the past.

Just for the fun of it, let’s recall, one more time, Pastor Obama’s 2006 sermon from the Senate floor, where he said,

The fact that we’re here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign—is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.

Today he says he knows better. Hoyer is quick to agree.

These admissions show just how petty and irresponsible the Democrats were when Obama’s predecessor was in office. It also goes to show, I suppose, that having the responsibility to govern can oblige people to put away their childish things, the very things that Obama and Hoyer liked to play with when a Republican was president.

First it was President Obama; now it’s House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer who is conceding that he was wrong to have voted against an increase to the government’s debt ceiling. “I have voted against the debt limit in the past. That was a mistake,” Hoyer, the second-ranking House Democrat, told reporters yesterday.

The reason for this penance isn’t genuine contrition so much as the need to strengthen their position for the forthcoming debate with Republicans about raising the debt ceiling. It’s hard to lecture other lawmakers not to do what you yourself had no hesitation doing in the past.

Just for the fun of it, let’s recall, one more time, Pastor Obama’s 2006 sermon from the Senate floor, where he said,

The fact that we’re here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign—is a sign of leadership failure. Leadership means the buck stops here. Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better. I therefore intend to oppose the effort to increase America’s debt limit.

Today he says he knows better. Hoyer is quick to agree.

These admissions show just how petty and irresponsible the Democrats were when Obama’s predecessor was in office. It also goes to show, I suppose, that having the responsibility to govern can oblige people to put away their childish things, the very things that Obama and Hoyer liked to play with when a Republican was president.

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Obama Falls Behind in Pennsylvania

A recent poll showed President Obama losing to GOP candidates–Romney and Huckabee–in Florida, where he beat John McCain in 2008. And now a new poll from Pennsylvania has more bad news for the president:

Pennsylvania’s looking like it could be a very tough state for Barack Obama in 2012. His approval rating there is only 42% with 52% of voters disapproving of him, and he’s within the margin of error in the state against 3 potential Republican opponents, a far cry from his double digit victory there in 2008.

At HotAir, Ed Morrissey writes, “Obama can afford to lose Florida and still find his way back to the Oval Office. There is no good path to the White House for a Democrat that loses Pennsylvania—which would indicate danger in more-Republican states like Ohio, Indiana, and even Michigan, all of which Obama won in 2008.”

It’s also worth noting that the Florida and Pennsylvania polls still show Obama beating potential candidates like Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and Newt Gingrich by wide margins. His real competition comes from Romney and Huckabee. So if the Republicans end up nominating a credible candidate, things look optimistic for the GOP.

A recent poll showed President Obama losing to GOP candidates–Romney and Huckabee–in Florida, where he beat John McCain in 2008. And now a new poll from Pennsylvania has more bad news for the president:

Pennsylvania’s looking like it could be a very tough state for Barack Obama in 2012. His approval rating there is only 42% with 52% of voters disapproving of him, and he’s within the margin of error in the state against 3 potential Republican opponents, a far cry from his double digit victory there in 2008.

At HotAir, Ed Morrissey writes, “Obama can afford to lose Florida and still find his way back to the Oval Office. There is no good path to the White House for a Democrat that loses Pennsylvania—which would indicate danger in more-Republican states like Ohio, Indiana, and even Michigan, all of which Obama won in 2008.”

It’s also worth noting that the Florida and Pennsylvania polls still show Obama beating potential candidates like Sarah Palin, Donald Trump, and Newt Gingrich by wide margins. His real competition comes from Romney and Huckabee. So if the Republicans end up nominating a credible candidate, things look optimistic for the GOP.

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All Set to Be a Failed State

Today Robert Serry, the “UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process,” presents his report on Palestinian state-building efforts—“as we approach the September 2011 target for the PA’s institutions to be ready for statehood.” Serry thinks the efforts are “clearly on track.” His next report (my guess: right around September 1) will undoubtedly declare the efforts complete.

Serry’s report is designed to assist the social promotion of the Palestinians in September, through a resolution by a body that lacks the authority to confer statehood on anyone, much less anyone as patently unprepared as the Palestinians. The Palestinians have yet to complete Phase I of the “Performance-Based Roadmap,” which required that they put an end to all incitement, dismantle all terrorist groups and their infrastructure, and produce a constitution. Eight years later, the incitement continues, the premier terrorist group was voted into office in Gaza, and the constitution is unfinished.

Not to put too fine a point on it: if you can’t finish drafting your constitution; if your “president” is in the seventh year of his four-year term; if you have no functioning legislature and cannot hold parliamentary elections; if half your putative state is occupied by terrorists; if your education system is a cesspool of anti-Semitism; if you insist upon dedicating public squares to those who massacred civilians; if your ruling party is corroded by corruption; if you have no free press or independent judiciary; if you cannot implement anything in negotiations that you refuse to conduct in any event; and if you haven’t finished Phase I of the Roadmap . . . well, you might not be ready for a state.

Today Robert Serry, the “UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process,” presents his report on Palestinian state-building efforts—“as we approach the September 2011 target for the PA’s institutions to be ready for statehood.” Serry thinks the efforts are “clearly on track.” His next report (my guess: right around September 1) will undoubtedly declare the efforts complete.

Serry’s report is designed to assist the social promotion of the Palestinians in September, through a resolution by a body that lacks the authority to confer statehood on anyone, much less anyone as patently unprepared as the Palestinians. The Palestinians have yet to complete Phase I of the “Performance-Based Roadmap,” which required that they put an end to all incitement, dismantle all terrorist groups and their infrastructure, and produce a constitution. Eight years later, the incitement continues, the premier terrorist group was voted into office in Gaza, and the constitution is unfinished.

Not to put too fine a point on it: if you can’t finish drafting your constitution; if your “president” is in the seventh year of his four-year term; if you have no functioning legislature and cannot hold parliamentary elections; if half your putative state is occupied by terrorists; if your education system is a cesspool of anti-Semitism; if you insist upon dedicating public squares to those who massacred civilians; if your ruling party is corroded by corruption; if you have no free press or independent judiciary; if you cannot implement anything in negotiations that you refuse to conduct in any event; and if you haven’t finished Phase I of the Roadmap . . . well, you might not be ready for a state.

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Is NATO Ready to Give Up?

Was the back-and-forth debate over whether or not to arm the Libyan rebels all for nothing? A French diplomatic source tells the Washington Post that France and its allies have abandoned hope that the opposition forces will be able to overtake Qaddafi’s military. They are focusing now on how to oust the Libyan dictator diplomatically:

A senior French diplomat, speaking anonymously to avoid committing the government, emphasized that France and its allies are relying on defections among Gaddafi’s aides and on diplomacy to bring the campaign to an end, realizing that the early hope of a clean rebel victory has evaporated. Whatever the method, he said, France and its allies have decided the outcome must be Gaddafi’s departure from power.

All this may explain NATO’s noticeable lack of concern after accidentally bombing rebel tanks last week. At the time, the British deputy commander of NATO, Russell Harding, seemed both unapologetic and unconcerned about repairing communication with the rebel forces: “It is not for us, trying to protect civilians of whatever persuasion, to improve communications with those rebel forces,” he said.

If NATO has really despaired of a rebel military victory, such indifference is slightly more understandable. On the other hand, it was only a few days ago that General Carter Ham informed Congress that the U.S. may consider sending ground troops to Libya. If that’s the case, then clearly NATO isn’t limiting its regime change options to diplomacy alone.

Was the back-and-forth debate over whether or not to arm the Libyan rebels all for nothing? A French diplomatic source tells the Washington Post that France and its allies have abandoned hope that the opposition forces will be able to overtake Qaddafi’s military. They are focusing now on how to oust the Libyan dictator diplomatically:

A senior French diplomat, speaking anonymously to avoid committing the government, emphasized that France and its allies are relying on defections among Gaddafi’s aides and on diplomacy to bring the campaign to an end, realizing that the early hope of a clean rebel victory has evaporated. Whatever the method, he said, France and its allies have decided the outcome must be Gaddafi’s departure from power.

All this may explain NATO’s noticeable lack of concern after accidentally bombing rebel tanks last week. At the time, the British deputy commander of NATO, Russell Harding, seemed both unapologetic and unconcerned about repairing communication with the rebel forces: “It is not for us, trying to protect civilians of whatever persuasion, to improve communications with those rebel forces,” he said.

If NATO has really despaired of a rebel military victory, such indifference is slightly more understandable. On the other hand, it was only a few days ago that General Carter Ham informed Congress that the U.S. may consider sending ground troops to Libya. If that’s the case, then clearly NATO isn’t limiting its regime change options to diplomacy alone.

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