Music as torture, federal incompetence on swine

Posted: Friday, November 13, 2009

A collection of news items humorous, outrageous, sickening, and bizarre - and really, none of them made up. ...

• The other day the White House boasted it has created 650,000 jobs by spending $150 billion in "stimulus" money. That comes out to $230,000 per job.

• So-called musicians happy to have their screeching creations split parental eardrums are outraged their works of art have been played at fever pitch to rattle (they say "torture") inmates of Guantanamo. Various high-tone groups - e.g., Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine, R.E.M. and Drowning Pool - have joined with the National Campaign to Close Guantanamo to protest the use of their noise during enhanced interrogations of jihadists. In a statement R.E.M. termed such use horrific and anti-American.

• President Obama has ample time to campaign for leftist candidates, to travel the globe apologizing for America, to dispense candy to trick-or-treaters, to beg a Chicago venue for the 2016 Olympics, and (according to White House visitor logs) to meet with Service Employees International Union boss Andy Stern 22 times. But just as Obama has made little time for Stanley McChrystal, commanding general of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and has failed to act promptly on his request for more U.S. forces there, somehow the president couldn't find space on his calendar to attend this month's 20th anniversary festivities marking the end of the Berlin Wall - and Soviet communism. He sent Hillary.

• In England, (1) union employees of the state postal service (the Royal Mail) have been calling strategically targeted strikes to force concessions from the government. And (2), in likely a glimpse of the future here, the National Health Service has spent millions for thousands of its staffers to have (according to London's Sunday Times) "free private health care ... so they can leapfrog their own waiting lists."

• You'd better sit down for this one - the nation's yes-she-can first lady expatiating on the importance of good health in Prevention magazine: "Throughout my life I've learned to make choices that make me happy and make sense for me. Even my husband is happier when I'm happy. ... So I have freed myself to put me on the priority list and say, yes, I can make choices that make me happy, and it will ripple and benefit my kids, my husband and my physical health."

• Trinity (Massachusetts) College's American Religious Identification Survey finds that New England has surpassed the Pacific Northwest as the nation's least religious region. Is it a coincidence that those two most unreligious regions also rank high among the country's most routinely left-wing?

• Let's see. (a) The FAA yawned and took its own sweet time to notify the Air Force about the Northwest flight that overshot the Minneapolis airport by 150 miles. No jets were scrambled to check things out. And (b) there is vastly less swine flu vaccine available than the government said there would be - because of federal policy decisions. Were this the Bush administration, such incompetences would be condemned as Katrina II.

• The Obama administration says Creigh Deeds lost the governor's race in Virginia because he was an inept candidate. Deeds has a different view. He declined to term himself an Obama Democrat, and said in September: "Frankly, we had a very tough August because people were just uncomfortable with the spending. They were uncomfortable with a lot of what was going on - a lot of the noise that was coming out of Washington, D.C."

• Here's the American Enterprise Institute's Arthur Brooks, on polls showing deteriorating public sentiment for ObamaCare: "Americans recoil at policies that strip choices from citizens and pass them to bureaucrats. ObamaCare systematically does so. The current proposals in Congress would effectively limit choice across the entire spectrum of health care: What kind of health insurance citizens can buy, what kind of doctors they can see, what kind of procedures their doctors will perform, what kind of drugs they can take, and what treatment options they may have."

• Ross Mackenzie is a former editorial page editor at the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch, now retired.

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