Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Obama Big Loser in Zimmerman Trial

”You know, if I had a son, he’d look like Trayvon”  -- Barack Obama. Like an aggressive thug?  Could well be -- JR

Forget the over-zealous prosecutors and the repellent state attorney Angela Corey (who should be immediately disbarred or, my wife said sarcastically, elevated to director of Homeland Security) and even the unfortunate Trayvon Martin family (although it is certainly hard to forget them — they have our profound sympathies), the true loser at the Zimmerman trial was Barack Obama.

By injecting himself in a minor Florida criminal case by implying Martin could be his son, the president of the United States — a onetime law lecturer, of all things — disgraced himself and his office, made a mockery of our legal system and exacerbated racial tensions in our country, making them worse than they have been in years. This is the work of a reactionary, someone who consciously/unconsciously wants to push our nation back to the 1950s.

It is also the work of a narcissist who thinks of himself first, of his image, not of black, white or any other kind of people. It’s no accident that race relations in our country have gone backwards during his stewardship.

Congratulations to the jury for not acceding to this tremendous pressure and delivering the only conceivable honest verdict. This case should never have been brought to trial. It was, quite literally, the first American Stalinist “show trial.” There was, virtually, no evidence to convict George Zimmerman. It was a great day for justice that this travesty was finally brought to a halt.

We all know Al Sharpton, the execrable race baiter of Tawana Brawley and Crown Heights, agitated publicly for this trial more than anyone else. But he most likely would not have succeeded had it not been for Obama’s tacit support. As far as I know this is unprecedented in our history (a president involving himself in a trial of this nature).

The media also followed Obama (as they always do) by enabling the demagogue Sharpton, as if he were a serious person. The media, as I wrote before, treated this case like pornography, something to be exploited, giving it all sorts of racial import it didn’t have. The New York Times, acting like true reactionaries of the Obama era (how can we use the word “liberal” with these people?), even went so far as to invent the term “white Hispanic” to fit the case. The National Enquirer couldn’t have done it better. (I take it back. The Enquirer behaves more ethically.)

The irony is that the people who suffer most from the media behaving in this manner are black people who are manipulated into acting as an interest group when they have no interest. They are literally victims of the media and of Obama.

Of course, they aren’t the only ones. Almost everyone is a victim in in this case that should never have been tried. George Zimmerman will never live a normal life. The American public has been polarized with emotions stirred up for absolutely no reason. Racism is essentially manufactured, as if it were a commodity.

A further irony is that recent polls have shown racism in our culture at all-time lows. You don’t hear that from the media or from our administration, however. This knowledge is not to their advantage.

As I type this article, I am listening to Geraldo, on the post-verdict show, nattering on about the possibility of the Justice Department initiating a civil rights prosecution of Zimmerman. If that happens, the Obama administration will have outdone itself in the creation of racism. The shame continues.



American philanthropy

by Jeff Jacoby

DO YOU GIVE money to charity? You do if you're a typical American. More than 70 percent of US families contribute every year, and the average household gives at least $1,000. Charitable donations in America add up to about $300 billion annually — which is more, as Arthur C. Brooks of the American Enterprise Institute points out, than the entire gross national product of Finland, Portugal, or Peru. Americans give 12 times as much to charity each year as they spend on professional sports, and almost 30 times as much as they spend going to the movies. By any yardstick, America is one of the most generous nations on earth.

And who, in the annals of this greatly philanthropic country, have been the greatest philanthropists?

The Philanthropy Roundtable, a 25-year-old network of charitable donors that promotes innovative and effective giving, takes up that question in a remarkable and inspiring new project: The Philanthropy Hall of Fame. The online gallery, at GreatPhilanthropists.org, recounts the achievements of 54 American men and women who "changed the nation and the world through their charitable giving." The philanthropists are profiled in absorbing biographical sketches that give a sense of their character and upbringing and that describe the "tactics and results of their philanthropy." Excerpts of the profiles were also published in a recent issue of Philanthropy, the Roundtable's quarterly magazine.

Greatness in philanthropy isn't easy to define. In compiling the inaugural class of charitable hall of famers, the Roundtable's editors wrestled with judgment calls. How do you measure a philanthropist's effectiveness, for example? Is it a function of "the number of individuals served, or the degree of innovation achieved, or the years of lasting influence?" But this much is clear: The donors chosen to inaugurate the Philanthropy Hall of Fame reflect the Roundtable's conviction that excellence can take many forms.

It's an extraordinary assemblage. Some of the philanthropists are among the most famous Americans in history. Everyone has heard of Benjamin Franklin, but how many of us know that in addition to being a renowned diplomat, scientist, printer, and intellectual, he was also one of the most significant givers of his day? He was a charitable dynamo, responsible for the creation of the first public library in North America, the first volunteer fire brigade in Pennsylvania, the academy that later became the University of Pennsylvania, and the nation's first hospital. One of his last gifts, a £1,000 bequest to the city he was born in, lives on to this day as the Franklin Institute of Boston.

Not nearly as renowned is Nicholas Longworth, who grew up poor, earned a fortune in real estate and winemaking, then gave away most of his riches to what he called "the devil's poor." These, one historian explained, were "vagabonds, drunkards, fallen women, those who had gone far into the depths of misery and wretchedness, and from whom respectable people shrank in disgust." He distributed bread for free to anyone who asked, giving away hundreds of loaves weekly. He housed destitute families in a four-story boarding house that he built over his winery. When he died in 1863, his biographical profile notes, Longworth's funeral was attended by "thousands of outcasts — drunkards and prostitutes, beggars and criminals — sobbing at the loss of this, their one true friend."

Not all of the givers highlighted in the Hall of Fame were wealthy. Oseola McCarty was a lifelong laundress, a black woman reared in Jim Crow Mississippi, who washed other people's clothes by hand until arthritis forced her to stop working at 87. She never went to high school, never drove a car. Yet like many philanthropists of immensely greater means, she was a religious believer whose faith inspired her to help others, and a scrupulous saver who unfailingly set aside a few cents from every dollar she earned. In 1995, soon after retiring, McCarty donated $150,000 to the University of Southern Mississippi to fund scholarships for poor but deserving students. Her munificence triggered an outpouring of praise — and of giving by others. CNN founder Ted Turner pledged $1 billion to the United Nations Foundation. "If that little woman can give away everything she has," he said, "then I can give a billion."

It is no exaggeration to suggest that charitable giving may be our nation's most quintessential character trait. Franklin, Longworth, and McCarty, like so many others in the new Philanthropy Hall of Fame, had virtually nothing in common. Except, that is, for the astonishing generosity that from the very outset has been such a hallmark of American life.



Obamacare: Large Grocery Chain Drops Coverage for Part-time Workers

    Et tu, Wegmans? The Rochester-based grocer that has been continually lauded for providing health insurance to its part-time workers will no longer offer that benefit. Until recently, the company voluntarily offered health insurance to employees who worked 20 hours per week or more. Companies are required by law to offer health insurance only to full-time employees who work 30 hours or more per week. Several Wegmans employees confirmed part-time health benefits had been cut and said the company said the decision was related to changes brought about by the Affordable Care Act.

The Buffalo News helpfully tracked down an "expert" who explained why the dropped coverage is a "win-win" for everyone involved:

    "Part-time employees may actually benefit from Wegmans’ decision, according to Brian Murphy, a partner at Lawley Benefits Group, an insurance brokerage firm in Buffalo. “If you have an employee that qualifies for subsidized coverage, they might be better off going with that than a limited part-time benefit,” Murphy said. That’s because subsidized coverage can have a lower out-of-pocket cost for the insured employee while also providing better benefits than an employer-paid plan. Under the Affordable Care Act, part-time employees are not eligible for health insurance subsidies if their employer offers insurance. “It’s a win-win. The employee gets subsidized coverage, and the employer gets to lower costs,” Murphy said."

First of all, the American people were made a solemn promise, over and over again:"If you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period. No one will take it away. No matter what.”  Many part-time employees at Wegmans may have been very rather pleased with their existing coverage, which will no longer exist because of the new law.  So much for "no matter what."  That's not a win, that's a broken promise.

Secondly, thanks to the administration's outrageous anti-fraud verification delay, anyone can claim that they qualify for Obamacare subsidies.  Correctly determining eligibility is essential to maintain any prayer of marginal cost containment, but that process is proving logistically problematic -- so the administration is simply going full speed ahead without that key safeguard in place.

Third, notice the hedging on claims that Obamacare will lower costs for these employees.  "Might, can," etc.  The fact is that many people who will receive subsidies (with an intended cut-off at relatively low income levels) will still pay more than they currently do.   This is especially true for younger, healthier people.  Say, who tends to work at grocery stores?

Wegmans' young employees -- stripped of their previous coverage -- now have plenty of incentive to forgo expensive insurance costs and just pay the lower mandate tax.  If enough young, healthy people go this route, the Obamacare completely collapses.

For more on those dynamics, read this.  Meanwhile, here's a local news report from Pennsylvania, highlighting the trend of businesses reducing hours and opting to hire temporary workers to avoid Obamacare's (recently postponed) employer mandate:

One last Obamacare "bonus:"  An Iowa insurance branch is shutting down after six decades of operation because of Obamacare, taking more than 100 jobs with it.



Food stamps

More than 47 million people in the United States now rely on food stamps. That’s about 15 percent of the population, or one in seven Americans. Of those, 47 percent are children under 18, and 8 percent are seniors, according to the USDA.

The number of eligible people who have actually applied for benefits has grown steadily in the past decade after declining throughout the 1990s.

Opposition to the House bill was led by the Congressional Black Caucus; 22 percent of food stamp recipients are African American, although African Americans make up 13 percent of the general population. Thirty-six percent of food stamp users are white, 10 percent are Hispanic, 4 percent are Native American, 2 percent are Asian.

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to report ever using food stamps, according to a Pew Research Center survey last December.

Why are food stamps in the Farm Bill anyway?

Politics. In the 1960s, food stamps were combined with the Farm Bill as a way to win urban Democratic votes for farm legislation that helped a declining rural population. (An earlier food stamp program, begun in 1939, died a few years later.) That’s been the alliance ever since. As Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) said in April: “[Food stamps] should continue to be included purely from a political perspective. It helps get the Farm Bill passed.”

Why were they cut out?

Disagreement over cuts and restrictions to food stamps is what killed the bill last month. The initial bill cut food stamp spending by $20.5 billion over the next 10 years. Conservatives said it wasn’t enough and voted no; Democrats said it was too much and also voted no. In the wake of that failure, Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) desperately needed to show that House Republicans could pass something. While conservatives would still like to see more cuts to the rest of the farm package, fiscal hawks are happy to see food and farm spending separate.

What happens now?

Food stamps won’t disappear. If the House legislation became law, they would have to be funded separately through appropriations bills. Historically, the pairing of food stamps with the rest of the Farm Bill has brought the program support from the agriculture industry and from Republicans in rural states. That protection would be lost. House Republicans would be looking to make deeper cuts in the program.

But for that to happen, the Senate would have to accept the House legislation and President Obama would have to sign it. In fact, the White House has threatened to veto a farm bill without food stamps. And the Senate already passed legislation with more modest food stamp cuts. So we’ll have to see what happens when the two chambers try to reconcile their legislation, as Brad Plumer explains.

What do people actually want?

Nearly seven in 10 Americans, 69 percent, are open to at least minor reductions to food stamp programs, according to a January poll conducted by the Kaiser Family Foundation and Harvard University. That means more people would accept food stamp cuts than would support slashing education spending, Medicare or Social Security. But only 28 percent of poll respondents supported “major” cuts to food stamps, while 29 percent opposed all reductions.

Democrats, Republicans and independents are generally all open to some cuts, but Democrats are far more likely to oppose any cuts to the program than Republicans, at 43 to 13 percent. Independents are in between, unsurprisingly, at 24 percent


There is a  new  lot of postings by Chris Brand just up -- on his usual vastly "incorrect" themes of race, genes, IQ etc


For more blog postings from me, see  TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH,  POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC,  AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and Paralipomena (Occasionally updated) and Coral reef compendium. (Updated as news items come in).  GUN WATCH is now mainly put together by Dean Weingarten.

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