Archive for January 10th, 2012|Daily archive page

Hospitals feed patients on 90p a meal, official figures show

Some hospital trusts commit just £2.57 for each patient’s daily food and drink, according to the latest statistics, despite growing concern about poor nutrition on wards.

Around 200,000 NHS in-patients are discharged every year suffering from malnutrition, with 10,000 of those estimated to have become malnourished during their stay.

Supreme Court mulls profanity, nudity on network TV

WashingtonTimes

F-bombs and bare breasts could be coming to network TV.

The Supreme Court on Tuesday began hearing arguments in a case that could rewrite the rule book for Fox, ABC and other broadcast stations now prohibited from pushing nudity and profanity on the public airwaves.

In an unlikely alliance, the Obama administration has partnered with the Family Research Council, Morality in Media and other socially conservative groups in arguing that network television should remain a “safe harbor” for children and families, where one need not fear “wardrobe malfunctions” during the Super Bowl or dirty words during the Billboard Music Awards.

But the entertainment industry’s heavy hitters, led by Fox, have mounted a First Amendment case and reject the notion that, in the age of unregulated cable channels and countless raunchy websites just a click away, the Federal Communications Commission has to play the role of moral gatekeeper for American families.

A ruling is expected this summer. If the justices declare current FCC regulations unconstitutional, the R-rated effects eventually will be seen from the living room couch.

“I don’t think things would change overnight, but I do think it would change. Slowly, more and more profanity and nudity would start to creep into much of the programming,” said Susan Low Bloch, a law professor at Georgetown University.

Networks’ decision-making, Ms. Bloch said, “will be a dollar calculation, not a moral calculation,” and television executives could bet that more sex, violence and four-letter words will equal bigger profits.

Obama administration attorneys and others argue that the media world of the 21st century is polluted with enough filth, and giving broadcasters carte blanche to do as they please will mean the death knell for family-friendly programming.

“This is about letting children be children,” said Ken Klukowski, director of the Center for Religious Liberty at the Family Research Council. “The First Amendment is not a license for an adult to say or do anything they want, anytime they want, in the presence of children. If you have 800 channels out there that you can put your content on, what’s the big deal about having four or five” stations free of objectionable material?

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. seems to agree. At Tuesday’s hearing, Chief Justice Roberts, the only member of the court with young children, said there are hundreds of cable channels not bound by any FCC restrictions, and that should be enough for people who want racier fare.

“All we are asking for, what the government is asking for, is a few channels where … they are not going to hear the S-word, the F-word, they are not going to see nudity,” the chief justice said.

The broad question of how far networks’ free-speech rights extend may not be resolved with this case, and the court could choose to limit its ruling to the FCC’s current indecency enforcement policy, which was declared unconstitutional by the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals two years ago.

Fox violated that policy several times in the past decade, including a 2002 incident in which the entertainer Cher uttered the F-word during the 2002 Billboard Music Awards. Reality star Nicole Richie followed suit in 2003, using the same expletive during a live appearance on the program.

Other networks also have been targeted. ABC stations were hit with fines after an episode of “NYPD Blue” featured a lengthy shot of a woman’s naked buttocks. The nudity was shown before 10 p.m. Eastern, the traditional cut-off point for indecent material.

ABC spokeswoman Julie Hoover said Tuesday that the network maintains the nudity on “NYPD Blue” was “not indecent,” and the fines were “unwarranted and unconstitutional.”

“We believe that the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals was correct and should be affirmed by the Supreme Court,” she said.

ABC and other networks have long questioned the consistency of the FCC rule, since it seems to be randomly enforced.

Such strong adult fare as Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” and “Schindler’s List” have been shown on prime-time network television unedited. Six months after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, CBS aired the documentary “9/11,” which followed a firefighting crew coincidentally being videotaped that day and accordingly contained multiple spontaneous F-words and other profanities. No fines were issued.

The apparent hypocrisy wasn’t lost on Justice Elena Kagan, who joked Tuesday that the FCC policy is “Nobody can use dirty words or nudity, except Steven Spielberg.”

But it won’t be individual incidents that ultimately sway the justices. Indeed, Justice Samuel Anthony Alito Jr. said Tuesday that technological advances may make current FCC rules obsolete, since nearly 90 percent of households now have cable or satellite television, enabling them to easily surf between regulated network stations and unregulated cable channels.

“I’m sure your clients will continue to make billions of dollars on their programs which are transmitted by cable and by satellite and by Internet,” he told the lawyers representing the TV networks. “But to the extent they are making money from people who are using rabbit ears, that is disappearing.”

Nathan Siegel, a First Amendment lawyer and law professor at the University of Maryland, said the initial rationale for FCC regulation was that the airwaves are public property and needed to be regulated as a public utility.

“These are not new questions. The reason the courts have [in the past] decided it’s OK to continue government regulations was because there were really no other alternatives for people to watch at the time. Those realities … don’t exist anymore,” he said.

Mr. Siegel also said that, such legal rationales aside, regulating such a small segment of TV offerings, as Chief Justice Roberts and social conservatives note when they argue that the restrictions are not onerous, is simply irrational.

“There are multiple ways that people can get content. Does it make any sense to give the FCC the exclusive power to regulate only broadcast programming when nothing else is regulated?” he asked.

Country Sick of Obama Job Act Acting Job

TownHallFinance

He wasn’t ready to be a US Senator and he wasn’t ready to be president either.

And because some Americans put White Guilt above common sense and thereby elected the most unready of candidates to the office of President of the United States, our economy is at a standstill.

But even more importantly, the country has, under Obama, once again lost a sense of its place and is questioning its historical mission of being the City on a Hill for the rest of the world.

Only 18 percent of Americans now believe that the country is on the right track, according to Rasmussen. The number has never been above 47 percent since Obama took office. The country reached it’s feel good moment at the six-month mark of the Democrat takeover of Congress, and it’s been downhill for Obama ever since. He now faces an 18 precent gap between those who strongly approve of his performance versus those who strongly disapprove according to Rasmussen.   

The last time the world was this demoralized, was the last time a Democrat president let things drift because he had no idea how to be president of the United States.  

Obama has been lately reprising that president’s “malaise” speech, calling Americans “lazy” and generally bemoaning the country’s lack of direction.

The guy who couldn’t find his way to Congress even if a cruise missile was strapped to his backside recently sympathized with the one-tenth percent of Americans whom Occupy Wall Street think they represent, saying, according to ABCNews: “A lot of the folks who’ve been down in New York and all across the country in the Occupy movement,” says Obama, “there is a profound sense of frustration, a profound sense of frustration about the fact that the essence of the American Dream… feels like it’s slipping away.”

Bravo, Mr. Obama. Terrific job acting like Occupy Wall Street has anything to do with the American Dream. Terrific job pretending like you even understand what the American Dream is about. Spoken like a true, leftist community organizer. 

If the American Dream is slipping away, though, the only replacement Obama has offered the country is the lush verbiage from the book Dreams from My Father, a mish-mash of circular logic, an American Oblomov, superfluous, inert and self-absorbed- the inverse actually of the American Dream.        

“Congress needs to pass the rest of my American Jobs Act,” said Obama, after Dems and the GOP passed modest legislation aimed at making it easier to hire veterans, “so that we can create jobs and put money in the pockets of the middle class.”

But Obama’s words belie the real trouble with him: He doesn’t really have a Jobs Act. He doesn’t have a budget, a foreign policy, an energy policy, an immigration policy. Instead he only acts like he has some of these.

He’s the incomplete genesis of a community organizer. 

But reading words on cue cards prepared by others isn’t a substitute for having a policy; it isn’t the same thing as being president of the United States.

Complicating things for Obama is the dilemma that is that he has never really decided in life who he really is.

“Thomas Aquinas once raised the issue of choosing between a proud man and a pusillanimous one,” writes William Manchester in Goodbye Darkness. “Take the proud one every time, he advised, because you will be sure that he will at least do something.”

Perhaps it’s time for someone to ask the relevant question: Does the life of a community organizer, which is necessarily a parochial endeavor, adequately prepare someone for the job of leading the nation?   

At least in the case of Obama, one would have to say no; not because of policy, not because of ideology, not because of point of view, but rather on account of inadequate preparation. When the history of the Obama administration is written, I predict, Americans will be appalled by the pusillanimity of the man once anointed the One. 

But that’s not all.  

Because, he not only lacks the skills, but he also lacks the conviction to be president of the United States.

A man with conviction would be either for or against Occupy Wall Street- or banks or illegal immigrants, etc- not both for and against them at the same time.

That’s what happens when a community organizer wars with the president of the United States, wholly in the person of himself.

It makes for great drama, great acting.

But it makes for the poorest possible history.      

The Wrong Kind of Minority

MonaCharen

The Washington Post proclaimed in a recent headline another historic “first” for the United States — the first female usher-in-chief at the White House. Stop the presses! The accompanying story reveals that the nominee hails from Jamaica, so it’s probably a two-fer. Oh, boy.

The Post and other liberal organs are obsessed with firsts. The first female letter carrier to handle the Capitol Hill route will get a mention in the press. The first African-American anything is guaranteed at least a nod. You don’t even have to be first to get “first” treatment. The last two Supreme Court nominees have been women, joining a court that had already seated two women (one retired). Nevertheless, the femininity of the candidates was cheerily chatted up. When Barack Obama became the first black nominee of a major party and then the elected president, dignified notice of an historical milestone would have been appropriate. But you know what happened — the media went on an inebriated, extravagant first binge.

Funny how the first-effect only works for some. If Mitt Romney is nominated and elected, he will be the first member of a highly persecuted American minority group to be so honored. Yet no one is celebrating the possibility of the first Mormon president. Anti-Mormon bias, which has proved remarkably persistent over decades, is scarcely ever condemned.

It isn’t that Mormons have not suffered. Following the religion’s founding in upstate New York in 1830, the Mormons faced immediate hostility from their neighbors. Hounded by New Yorkers, the growing community moved west to Ohio, Missouri and Kansas. In Jackson County, Missouri, Mormon leaders were tarred and feathered, Mormon homes torched and Mormon property brazenly stolen.

County after county drove the Mormons out, sometimes threatening to kill even the children if they did not evacuate, culminating, in 1838, in an “extermination order” issued by Gov. Lilburn Boggs. Instructing the state militia, Boggs wrote, “The Mormons must be treated as enemies, and must be exterminated or driven from the state if necessary for the public peace—their outrages are beyond all description.” Thousands of Mormons were forced to flee, some with just the clothes on their backs, in the dead of winter. Illinois offered sanctuary for a time, but it was in that state that the religion’s founder, Joseph Smith, was imprisoned and murdered by a mob.

The Mormons attempted to defend themselves and committed an atrocity of their own, the Mountain Meadows Massacre of 1857 (for which the militia leader in charge was tried and executed by the Mormons). But most of the time, the group was on the defensive. Throughout its first seven decades, the sect was harried, persecuted, expelled, reviled and chased across a continent.

The practice of polygamy stirred hostility. As a Jew though, I cannot help noticing that Mormons were also hated because they seemed to prosper economically, because they rose to the top of organizations they joined and because they were so loyal to one another.

Outsiders can surely be fair-minded enough to acknowledge that The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints gets results. Utah has the nation’s lowest levels of welfare dependency, child poverty and single parent homes. Its students are among the top scorers in the nation, despite relatively low levels of education spending. It ranks highest for contributions to charity by the wealthy and among the lowest for incarceration and cancer rates. Prominent Mormons established the Marriott hotel chain, Jet Blue and Bain Capital (of course). Mormon Americans invented the television, word processing and the hearing aid, among other things. Mormons have distinguished themselves in entertainment, sports and politics — where they have risen to prominence in both parties.

Polygamy having long since been discarded, anti-Mormon bias today, ironically, often focuses on the LDS Church’s opposition to same sex marriage. During the contest over California’s Proposition 8, which limited marriage to the bond between men and women, opponents sought to intimidate Mormons who contributed financially or otherwise to the initiative. While there has been speculation that Mitt Romney’s faith might suppress support among Republicans, a recent Gallup survey found that Democrats (27 percent) were more likely than Republicans (18 percent) to say they would not vote for a Mormon candidate for president.

Mormons are obviously the wrong kind of minority. Oh, they’ve been persecuted. But through a strong work ethic, self-discipline, traditional morality (Yes, there’s an irony there, but get over it.) and group cohesion, they have triumphed for themselves and for the country. The first Mormon president would be a milestone. But don’t hold your breath for the applause.

True Dat…

‘Nuff said…

SOPA becoming election liability for backers

Politico

To the ranks of same-sex marriage, tax cuts and illegal immigration, add this to the list of polarizing political issues of Election 2012: the Stop Online Piracy Act.

The hot-button anti-piracy legislation that sparked a revolt online is starting to become a political liability for some of SOPA’s major backers. Fueled by Web activists and online fundraising tools, challengers are using the bill to tag its congressional supporters as backers of Big Government — and raise campaign cash while they’re at it.

Among the fattest targets: SOPA’s lead author, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas), and two of its most vocal co-sponsors, Reps. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.). House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has also felt the wrath of SOPA opponents.

Even GOP presidential contenders Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum were asked by voters recently to weigh in on the bill (neither gave definitive answers, though activists have interpreted Santorum’s response as more sympathetic to SOPA than Romney’s).

It’s a stretch to think SOPA will cost any of the longtime incumbents backing the bill their seats. The legislation would give government new powers to shutter websites that peddle counterfeit products and pirated copies of movies and music.

But there are signs the issue, long the domain of think tanks and intellectual property lawyers, could become a real factor in some races.

Prominent conservative blogger Erick Erickson, for one, has promised to make life miserable for any GOP lawmaker who gets behind the bill. His first target: Blackburn.

“I love Marsha Blackburn. She is a delightful lady and a solidly conservative member of Congress,” Erickson wrote on his widely read blog, Red State. But “I am pledging right now that I will do everything in my power to defeat her in her 2012 re-election bid.”

Erickson went on to implore the left and right to “unite and pledge to defeat in primaries every person named as a sponsor” of SOPA and suggested that both sides create a fund dedicated to supporting challengers running against SOPA supporters.

“Killing SOPA is that important,” Erickson wrote.

In Ryan’s case, critics pounced after the powerful congressman issued a vague statement that they interpreted as supportive of the bill. Using the social news site Reddit, they launched an online campaign— dubbed “Operation Pull Ryan” — to unseat him.

Ryan’s Democratic opponent, Rob Zerban, seized on the uproar. After lambasting the bill during an interview on Reddit, Zerban raked in about $15,000 in campaign donations, according to campaign manager Lisa Tanner.

The uproar wasn’t lost on Ryan. On Monday, he issued a statement opposing SOPA in no uncertain terms. While the bill “attempts to address a legitimate problem,” Ryan said, it would open the door to “undue regulation, censorship and legal abuse.”

SOPA is making waves in other House races, too.

Goodlatte’s primary challenger in Virginia’s 6th District, Karen Kwiatkowski, claimed on her website that SOPA “will dramatically increase the federal government's role in our lives.” She asked people to contribute to her campaign and “send Bob Goodlatte a message.”

Kwiatkowski, who describes herself as a “conservative constitutionalist Republican,” told POLITICO that Goodlatte’s support for the bill was “bought and paid for” by content companies that “don’t want to adapt their business models [and] don’t want to invest in protection for their material.” That includes language software company Rosetta Stone, she said, which is based in the district.

She estimated that 20 percent — or roughly $5,000 — of the donations she received in December was attributable to SOPA. Kwiatkowski has raised about $30,000 total.

An Air Force veteran that currently raises cattle in Shenandoah County with her husband, Kwiatkowski read the bill when it was first released this fall. She argues that it lacks due process and would spawn an Internet blacklist of websites.

While SOPA isn’t a lead issue for her campaign, she said it was brought to her attention by outraged campaign supporters.

“It’s wrong, and Goodlatte doesn’t get this,” she said. “To me this stinks of some sort of rich man’s welfare program — let’s shut down all the little guys and let’s control the Internet.”

The lead lawmaker behind the bill, Smith, is also facing a Republican challenger that’s blasting SOPA. Former Arizona sheriff Richard Mack plans to file to run against Smith in Texas’s 21st District as early as this week.

“This is regulating the Internet businesses that have been doing fine without the federal government being their little micromanagers,” said Mack, who aligns himself with the tea party. “People are federally regulated to death now and Lamar Smith comes up with this brainchild.”

Smith’s campaign dismissed Mack as a perennial candidate who has switched parties repeatedly and moved to Texas only eight months ago.

SOPA “targets only foreign websites primarily dedicated to illegal activity,” Mike Asmus, Smith’s campaign manager, said in a statement. He called it “good policy that protects American consumers from dangerous counterfeit goods and American businesses from having their products and profits stolen from foreign thieves.”

“Rep. Smith does not regret the possibility of having an opponent who was defeated as a Democrat, Republican and Libertarian candidate before he recently moved into the state,” Asmus added.

Goodlatte did not respond to a request for comment. But Goodlatte has called such arguments that the bill is going to threaten the Internet nonsense, saying that SOPA would protect American jobs and keep the public safe from harmful counterfeit products like knockoff pharmaceuticals.

The Web-savvy anti-SOPA movement has coalesced quickly online, tapping into social sites such as Reddit. Recently, users created a digital hit list of sorts, naming lawmakers up for reelection this year who are supportive of SOPA and its sister in the Senate, PROTECT IP.

On the comment thread, Reddit users strategize about which lawmakers they should try to unseat and how to go after them; one user even suggested applying for PAC status for the cause.

Sens. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), both co-sponsors of PROTECT IP, were recurring names on the thread, as was Ryan.

Blackburn’s challenger, Jack Arnold, said in a post on his campaign website that the Tennessee Republican likes to paint herself as “staunchly anti-regulation” but her support for SOPA shows that she’s actually “regulation-loving.”

Arnold, who is running as an Independent, claims Nashville-headquartered Gibson Guitars and deep-pocketed content companies influenced Blackburn to support the bill. He added that SOPA “would give unheard-of censorship power to the Department of Justice” and “remove Google, Yahoo and Bing from their positions as market leaders in Internet searches in favor of less-restricted foreign search engines.”

Blackburn balked at that criticism.

“Critics of SOPA can’t deny the undisputed fact that piracy hurts America,” she said in an emailed statement. “The same radical left-wing special interests groups that advocated for Obama’s so-called net neutrality regulations are trying to hijack conservative principles and mislead the public about SOPA.

“The fact is SOPA only applies to dedicated foreign rogue sites that are harming American consumers and creators,” she added.

Federal appeals court delivers blow to anti-Sharia efforts

MSNBC

In a decision that Muslim legal advocates celebrated as a major win, a federal appeals court on Tuesday agreed with a lower court that blocked an Oklahoma law that would have barred state courts from considering or using Sharia law — the Islamic code of conduct.

The law would likely dampen similar legislation proposed in at least 20 U.S. states over the last couple of years, said Noah Feldman, professor of law at Harvard University.

The decision “should have a good, positive, desirable chilling effect,” said Feldman. “It should tell people in those jurisdictions that (similar laws) almost all will be judged unconstitutional.”

In the November 2010 election, Oklahomans voted overwhelmingly for referendum SQ 755 — described by its author, Rep. Rex Duncan, as “a preemptive strike against Sharia Law coming to Oklahoma.”

The amendment stated that: “The courts shall not look to the legal precepts of other nations or cultures. Specifically, the courts shall not consider international law or Sharia law.

Muslim challenged law
A lawsuit filed two days after the election by Oklahoma resident Muneer Awad, a Muslim, charged that the law violated his First Amendment rights. In addition to stigmatizing him and other Muslims, Awad argued, the amendment would invalidate his last will and testament, which made reference to Islamic writings.

A federal judge in Oklahoma agreed that the amendment was most likely unconstitutional and granted a permanent injunction preventing its implementation until a final determination could be made.

On Tuesday, a judge for the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colo., agreed with the lower court and upheld the injunction — rejecting an appeal by the state of Oklahoma.

“Because the amendment discriminates among religions, it is ‘suspect,'” the higher court ruled, “and ‘we apply strict scrutiny in adjudging its constitutionality.’”

The case returns to Oklahoma for a final determination, but the circuit court decision was met with enthusiasm by Muslim civil rights advocates.

“The decision today is an extremely strong signal that the Oklahoma anti-Muslim amendment will be stricken,” said Gadeir Abbas, staff attorney for the Council on American Islamic Relations, who wrote the lawsuit. 

“It’s not as if the 10th circuit is a bastion of left-wing activism,” he said. “This is coming from a very conservative court … It is unequivocal that there are really serious, very clear violations of the constitution that this amendment poses.”

Problem doesn’t exist, lawyer says
Although Islam’s detractors suggest that “creeping sharia,” left unchecked, will undermine U.S. freedoms, Feldman says that these laws play on fears of a problem that does not exist.

“The Constitution of the United States, and the constitution of every state — that is 51 constitutions — already make it illegal to implement Islamic law,” said Feldman. “Just as Jewish law can’t be the law of the United States, and canon law can’t be the law of the United States, sharia law can’t be the law of the United States.”

“It’s like a law that says we absolutely ban alligators on the South Pole,” he said.

On one hand, the court can consider the Islamic passage referred to by plaintiff Awad in his last will and testament, as a means of ascertaining his wishes.

On the other hand, if his wishes somehow run afoul of U.S. laws — regardless of his personal wishes — then the court will rule them a violation of law.

The final disposition of the case remains uncertain, but this decision strongly suggests the Oklahoma law ultimately will be defeated.

Most lawyers will see the 10th Circuit Court ruling as a “dog bites man story, not the other way around” Feldman said, showing that “the constitution works the way it is supposed to.”

I want to ask you a question

What Sticker would you put on your car? Feel free to post! I’ll start…:

The end of an error

You’ve got ten and a half months to prove the latter assumption wrong

H/T Instapundit

THE ALPHA AND OMEGA OF THE TEA PARTY:

Carville Fears DC Under ‘Total Tea Party Control’” — headline at Newsmax, September 30th, 2011.

“I don’t know what happened between November of 2010 and January of 2012, but from the looks of things the Tea Party died.” — Opening paragraph of an article titled “When the Tea Party Died” by Kevin McCullough, published on Sunday at Townhall.

“I do not think it means what you think it means….”

AnnAlthouse

But it’s not enough here to say Bosch is an idiot or that Bosch’s idiocy exemplifies the pathetic present-day feminist web-writers and impugns the entire enterprise of feminism — which has been and should be noble.

It’s not enough, because Bosch has infected the internet with a meme, and it’s powerfully viral. There will be many, many people now who will get the idea that Chris Christie is a sexist. They just know — they feel — he’s an immense misogynist. He’s got misogyny on him — and like a blue dress kept in the back of the closet, that stain isn’t going to get washed out any time soon.

Bosch has propagated the lie, and her liberal allies — who would love to destroy a rising conservative star — are hard at work spreading it. And I do mean hard at work. These slimy little dweebs who write at places I won’t link to, but whom you can find by clicking on that last link, get obscenely excited at the prospect of wrecking a righty.

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