Tuesday, February 22, 2011

How to Make Oatmeal . . . Wrong

There’s a feeling of inevitability in writing about McDonald’s latest offering, their “bowl full of wholesome” — also known as oatmeal. The leading fast-food multinational, with sales over $16.5 billion a year (just under the GDP of Afghanistan), represents a great deal of what is wrong with American food today.
From a marketing perspective, they can do almost nothing wrong; from a nutritional perspective, they can do almost nothing right, as the oatmeal fiasco demonstrates.

One “positive” often raised about McDonald’s is that it sells calories cheap. But since many of these calories are in forms detrimental rather than beneficial to our health and to the environment, they’re actually quite expensive — the costs aren’t seen at the cash register but in the form of high health care bills and environmental degradation.

Oatmeal is on the other end of the food spectrum. Real oatmeal contains no ingredients; rather, it is an ingredient. As such, it’s a promising lifesaver: oats are easy to grow in almost any non-extreme climate and, minimally processed, they’re profoundly nourishing, inexpensive and ridiculously easy to cook. They can even be eaten raw, but more on that in a moment.

Like so many other venerable foods, oatmeal has been roundly abused by food marketers for more than 40 years. Take, for example, Quaker Strawberries and Cream Instant Oatmeal, which contains no strawberries, no cream, 12 times the sugars of Quaker Old Fashioned Oats and only half of the fiber.
At least it’s inexpensive, less than 50 cents a packet on average. (A serving of cooked rolled oats will set you back half that at most, plus the cost of condiments; of course, it’ll be much better in every respect.)

The oatmeal and McDonald’s story broke late last year, when Mickey D’s, in its ongoing effort to tell us that it’s offering “a selection of balanced choices” (and to keep in step with arch-rival Starbucks) began to sell the cereal.
Yet in typical McDonald’s fashion, the company is doing everything it can to turn oatmeal into yet another bad choice. (Not only that, they’ve made it more expensive than a double-cheeseburger: $2.38 per serving in New York.) “Cream” (which contains seven ingredients, two of them actual dairy) is automatically added; brown sugar is ostensibly optional, but it’s also added routinely unless a customer specifically requests otherwise. There are also diced apples, dried cranberries and raisins, the least processed of the ingredients (even the oatmeal contains seven ingredients, including “natural flavor”).

A more accurate description than “100% natural whole-grain oats,” “plump raisins,” “sweet cranberries” and “crisp fresh apples” would be “oats, sugar, sweetened dried fruit, cream and 11 weird ingredients you would never keep in your kitchen.”

Since we know there are barely any rules governing promotion of foods, one might wonder how this compares to real oatmeal, besides being 10 times as expensive. Some will say that it tastes better, but that’s because they’re addicted to sickly sweet foods, which is what this bowlful of wholesome is.

Others will argue that the McDonald’s version is more “convenient.” This is nonsense; in the time it takes to go into a McDonald’s, stand in line, order, wait, pay and leave, you could make oatmeal for four while taking your vitamins, brushing your teeth and half-unloading the dishwasher. (If you’re too busy to eat it before you leave the house, you could throw it in a container and microwave it at work.)

If you don’t want to bother with the stove at all, you could put some rolled oats (instant not necessary) in a glass or bowl, along with a teeny pinch of salt, sugar or maple syrup or honey, maybe some dried fruit. Add milk and let stand for a minute (or 10). Eat. Eat while you’re walking around getting dressed. And then talk to me about convenience.

The aspect one cannot argue is nutrition: Incredibly, the McDonald’s product contains more sugar than a Snickers bar and only 10 fewer calories than a McDonald’s cheeseburger or Egg McMuffin. (Even without the brown sugar it has more calories than a McDonald’s hamburger.)

The bottom-line question is, “Why?” Why would McDonald’s, which appears every now and then to try to persuade us that it is adding “healthier” foods to its menu, take a venerable ingredient like oatmeal and turn it into expensive junk food? Why create a hideous concoction of 21 ingredients, many of them chemical and/or unnecessary? Why not try, for once, to keep it honest?

I asked them this, via e-mail: “Why could you not make oatmeal with nothing more than real oats and plain water, and offer customers a sweetener or two (honey, the only food on earth that doesn’t spoil, would seem a natural fit for this purpose), a packet of mixed dried fruit, and half-and-half or — even better — skim milk?”

Their answer, via e-mail and through a spokesperson (FMO is “fruit and maple oatmeal”): “Customers can order FMO with or without the light cream, brown sugar and the fruit. Our menu is entirely customizable by request with our ‘Made for You’ platform that has been in place since the late 90s.”

Oh, please. Here’s the thing: McDonald’s wants to get people in the store. Once a day, once a week, once a month, the more the better, of course, but routinely. And if you buy oatmeal, they’re o.k. with that. But they know that, once inside, you’ll probably opt for a sausage biscuit anyway.

And you won’t be much worse off.

Visit my blog, where you can find out more about my last column, or what I just cooked. You can also join me on Facebook or Twitter.

Nevada Lawmakers Take Up Driving and Cell Phones - NO NEW LAW > ENFORCE THE TRAFFIC LAWS NOW ON THE BOOKS!

CARSON CITY, Nev. -- Bills to outlaw texting and talking on cell phones while driving in Nevada will be discussed by a Senate committee.

SB145 would prohibit minors from using a cellular phone or other handheld device while driving, except in certain emergencies. SB140 would prohibit anyone from texting while driving, or using a handheld phone. Hands-free calling would be allowed.

The Senate Transportation Committee has scheduled a hearing on the bills Tuesday afternoon. The two bills are among about a half-dozen addressing cell phones and driving that are expected to come up during the 2011 Legislature.

Channel 8 News Las Vegas

YOU try to figure this one out?

Supreme Court hears soap opera story of interest to the tea party

The cataclysmic events that led Carol Anne Bond to prison and now to the Supreme Court began with thrilling news: Her best friend was pregnant.

That was followed by devastating news: Bond's husband, Clifford, was the baby's father.

Rage came next.

Carol Bond, a trained microbiologist, set out to poison Myrlinda Haynes over several months with a rare and potentially lethal blend of toxic chemicals. But Haynes, who received only a minor injury, was unable to persuade local law enforcement officials to act on her suspicions. So she called in the feds.

The U.S. attorney's office in Philadelphia went after Bond with a "sledgehammer," according to her lawyer, former Bush administration solicitor general Paul D. Clement: Prosecutors sent Bond to prison under the anti-terrorist statutes meant to enforce an international chemical-weapons treaty.

So more is at stake at the Supreme Court than simply a woman scorned and inventive lawyers. Bond says the federal government had no right to indict her, and she bases her claim on the 10th Amendment, the tea party favorite that specifies the limits of federal power.

As a result, Bond has drawn support from Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, the libertarian Cato Institute, gun owners and the attorneys general from six states, who not so coincidentally are among those suing the federal government over President Obama's health-care act.

The issue for the justices is whether an individual has the right to sue on the claim that the federal government has trespassed in areas reserved for the states - a subject of considerable interest to those who want to challenge the actions of Congress.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 3rd Circuit said individuals don't have such a right on their own, without the involvement of a state.

At oral arguments Tuesday, the justices seemed inclined to say that a criminal defendant such as Bond should at least get the chance to argue the statute is unconstitutional.

But they seemed divided on whether they should give lower courts guidance on how Bond could win or how to decide whether the law is too broad.

Clement said before the arguments that even if the court does not rule broadly on the 10th Amendment, it should at least give Bond the chance to argue that her vengeful actions should never have been prosecuted under the auspices of a treaty with a daunting title - the Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction.

"If Chemical Ali wanders into your district, this is your statute," Clement said, referring to Ali Hassan al-Majid, the executed Iraqi war criminal.

"But it's not for a domestic case in Bucks County."

24 poisoning attempts

News that her best friend was carrying her husband's child was too much for Carol Anne Bond, who was unable to conceive. It also brought back painful memories of her father's infidelities, according to her attorneys, which had caused Bond's mother to leave her father and move the family from Barbados to the United States.

Bond's emotional breakdown caused her to lose her hair and suffer panic attacks. But her enmity appears to have been directed mostly at Haynes, a fellow island immigrant who lived nearby in the Philadelphia suburbs. (Carol and Clifford Bond remain married, according to one of her lawyers, despite her incarceration in federal prison in West Virginia.)

The first phase of her campaign included slashing photos and placing phone calls to Haynes with threats such as "I [am] going to make your life a living hell" and "Dead people will visit you," according to court documents.

Bond was convicted in 2005 and fined on a minor state charge of harassment.

She was undeterred. From November 2006 through June 2007, she tried to poison Haynes on 24 occasions. Bond stole an arsenic-based chemical - 10-chloro-10H-phenoxarsine - from her employer, a chemical manufacturer. She went online and ordered potassium dichromate, a corrosive chemical than can destroy human tissue.

While her attorneys say there is no evidence that Bond ever meant to kill Haynes or her infant daughter, less than a teaspoon of either chemical ingested can be lethal.

Bond spread the substances on surfaces that Haynes was sure to touch, such as her front door, car door and mailbox. Fortunately for Haynes, the chemicals were clearly visible, and she suffered only a burn on her thumb.

Haynes called local law enforcement more than a dozen times when she discovered the chemicals, but officers were unimpressed. One told her that the substance might be cocaine and that she should clean the surfaces regularly.

Frustrated, Haynes told her letter carrier. He informed postal inspectors, who shot video of Bond spreading the chemicals and took the case to federal prosecutors.

Bond, 40, pleaded guilty to four counts of violating the domestic statutes required to enforce the chemical arms treaty.

Despite her protests that using the law to prosecute her crimes was unconstitutional, she was sentenced in 2008 to six years in prison and five years of supervised probation, fined $2,000, and ordered to pay nearly $10,000 in restitution.

Her attorneys say if she had been charged under aggravated-assault laws in Pennsylvania, the punishment would have been three to 25 months.

Lacking 'standing'

Bond's attorneys argued at the appeals court, as they do at the Supreme Court, that the statute "exceeded the federal government's enumerated powers, violated bedrock federalism principles guaranteed under the 10th Amendment and impermissibly criminalized conduct that lacked any nexus to a legitimate federal interest."

But the appeals court never decided that question. Instead, it said Bond lacked the right - "standing," in legal parlance - to challenge her conviction.

Basing its decision on a 1939 Supreme Court ruling, the appeals court said that only states can bring challenges under the 10th Amendment - which says that any power not delegated by the Constitution to the federal government "are reserved to the States . . . or to the people."

The federal government, which is the defendant in the case, agreed with the appeals court's decision at first, but it now argues that Bond should have standing to sue.

Still, the government continues to assert that Congress was fully within its power to write a law granting the federal government power to enforce the treaty.

Stephen R. McAllister, a University of Kansas law professor who also serves as the state's solicitor general, was assigned by the justices to defend the appeals court's decision.

He tells the court that its 1939 decision was the correct one - the 10th Amendment speaks to states' rights.

"Although [Bond] may not be a professional terrorist and did not, for example, send toxic chemicals through the mail," McAllister said in his court brief that her legal challenge could make it difficult to prosecute others with terrorist intentions.

The conservative groups that have filed briefs on Bond's behalf urge the court to decide more than just the question of whether Bond has standing.

And the brief for the states said the requirements for who can challenge a federal statute under the 10th Amendment should be broad.

It is filed for Alabama, Colorado, Florida, South Carolina, Texas and Utah by Washington lawyer David B. Rivkin Jr., who is representing those states and others in challenging the federal health-care act as an intrusion on the states.

His brief said the states "welcome the efforts of private citizens" to challenge federal actions.

"It would be incongruous if the states alone could challenge Federal actions upsetting this critical balance, because its purpose was and is to guard and vindicate the rights of individual citizens."

The case is Bond v. U.S.

Robert Barnes Washington Post

New Zealand Earthquake Kills 65

At least 65 people are dead in Christchurch, New Zealand after a 6.3 earthquake struck the country midday Tuesday.

That's the second highest death toll for a New Zealand quake after a 1941 quake, and it figures to rise to as high as 300, according to some unconfirmed reports.
At least 100 people are trapped in six sites around the city. The famous cathedral in the city's main square lost its spire, as well.

Read it at New Zealand Herald


Sarah Palin Has Secret ‘Lou Sarah’ Facebook Account To Praise Other Sarah Palin Facebook Account

Sarah Palin has apparently created a second Facebook account with her Gmail address so that this fake “Lou Sarah” person can praise the other Sarah Palin on Facebook.
The Gmail address is available for anyone to see in this leaked manuscript about Sarah Palin, and the Facebook page for “Lou Sarah” — Sarah Palin’s middle name is “Louise” — is just a bunch of praise and “Likes” for the things Sarah Palin likes and writes on her other Sarah Palin Facebook page.

“Lou Sarah” even says “amen” to Facebook posts by Sarah Sarah.
So we’ve been reading this leaked Palin book. Interesting read! But this manuscript doesn’t seem quite ready to be published, despite it being leaked around to the entire Internet. Frank Bailey and his co-authors excerpt a bunch of Sarah Palin’s e-mails, and one page of these excerpts shows Palin’s personal Gmail address.

We searched for this address on Facebook, the way millions of people search for people on Facebook every day, and it appears that Palin keeps a second Facebook account. Besides staying in touch with Sarah Palin’s father brother Chuck Heath, what does “Lou Sarah” use Facebook for? Saying “amen” to her own Facebook fan page missives, in the guise of a completely different person. “Lou Sarah” also really “Likes” Bristol Palin’s Dancing With the Stars photos.

“Lou Sarah” is also friends with some of Sarah Palin’s political appointees. Still, “Lou” has only 12 total friends on Facebook.

“Lou” is a fan of Sarah Palin, Bristol Palin, Mark Ballas (Bristol Palin’s gorilla-costumed dancing partner on Dancing With the Stars), and the Wasilla-based Edge Fitness.

From what we can see, “Lou” wrote a total of four happy things on Bristol Palin’s fan page in recent months:

This is our favorite, because she liked her own comment:

“Lou” had some inside knowledge Wasilla’s Edge Fitness was going to be featured on Sarah Palin’s Alaska. She alerted her fellow plebes:

Here’s the full list of “Lou Sarah’s” recent Facebook activity that was visible to us. Ah yes, the BlackBerry:

Apparently Palin is not reading the liberal newspapers and other publications that provide news about Facebook privacy settings. Still, Sarah Palin “liking” a Fox video about the things she likes? Very meta, “Lou.”

According to this profile, Sarah Palin is not friends with Frank Bailey. But then again, she’s also not friends with her children. She’s just “likes” one of their celebrity fan pages.

Exclusive Poll: Obama vs. Palin in 2012

How would the mama grizzly fare against the incumbent? Could Donald Trump play the Ross Perot wild-card? A new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll handicaps the 2012 election.

Handicapping of the 2012 presidential election is well under way:

Obama vs. Huckabee. Obama vs. Romney. Obama vs. Palin.

But what if Donald Trump were in the mix? The notion seems only slightly less outlandish after the Donald's splashy (and anything but humble) appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference.

And when we asked likely voters in the new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll, we found that some of the GOP's biggest names would be wise to keep an eye out for Trump, who did surprisingly well.

Could he play the Ross Perot wild-card role in 2012? Take a look at how Trump alters the equation in some key lineups.

America's Unhappy Electorate
by Douglas Schoen Info
Douglas Schoen is a political strategist and author of the upcoming book Mad as Hell: How the Tea Party Movement is Fundamentally Remaking Our Two-Party System to be published by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins on September 14. Schoen has worked on numerous campaigns, including those of Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton, Michael Bloomberg, Evan Bayh, Tony Blair, and Ed Koch.
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print TwitterEmailShare President Obama hits 50 percent in the new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll, but Americans are largely dissatisfied with Congress, its leaders, and plans. (A bright spot: Trump for president!) Full results below.

A new Newsweek/Daily Beast poll shows that while the American people are gradually warming to President Obama's job performance—he's at 50 percent approval ratings, versus 44 percent who disapprove—the American electorate remains deeply skeptical toward the plans of both the Democrats and Republicans in Congress, and gives Congress itself a distinctly negative rating.

America’s Unhappy Electorate Poll Results

Some of the specific are as follows:

• Only 30 percent approve of the job Congress is doing, versus 58 percent who disapprove.
• Only 37 percent support the health-care reform law, versus 56 percent who oppose. But in terms of repealing it, the verdict is split: 41 percent want to repeal, 44 percent oppose such a move.
• Only 37 percent believe the GOP puts forward positive proposals, versus 49 percent who believe the party is primarily interested in criticizing Obama. The president scores far better in this regard—58 percent believe he puts forward positive proposals—but pluralities still doubt he has solutions to key issues facing the country.
• A full 66 percent of respondents are satisfied with how Obama has handled the Egypt crisis.

Given the dissatisfaction that exists and the hyper-partisanship evident in Washington, it is not surprising that a strong majority of voters favor the establishment of a bipartisan process to balance the budget, reform health care, and overhaul the tax system.

Voters express dissatisfaction with both the Democratic leadership in the Senate and Republican leadership in the House, and indeed hold unfavorable views toward both major parties.

The only congressional leader with a positive approval rating is newly elected Speaker John Boehner—40 percent positive to 23 percent negative. Each of the other three leaders has a net negative rating, with Harry Reid (27-44) Nancy Pelosi (33-53) both perceived especially poorly.

Given the level of dissatisfaction that exists, it is not surprising that a clear majority of the American people prefer the divided government we now have to the Democratic rule we had previously. In addition, there is a preference for the Republicans, rather than the Democrats to run Congress after the next election.

The Newsweek/Daily Beast poll also surveyed the 2012 race. The Republican presidential primary is effectively tied between Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee—with Sarah Palin trailing them both by substantial margins in the Republican presidential trial heat.

The prospective addition of Donald Trump to the race did produce some impact, and his support was in the high single digits.

Individual head-to-head ballot tests for president show President Obama with a double-digit lead over Sarah Palin (51-40), a narrow lead over Mitt Romney (49-47) and Donald Trump (43-41), and a tie with Mike Huckabee (46-46).

Moreover, the particularly high percentage of undecided voters in the race with Trump underscores the substantial degree of uncertainty his prospective candidacy provokes.

While the president did draw positive ratings for his handling of the crisis in Egypt, there remains greater skepticism about Egypt and indeed, the Middle East.
A solid majority believes that a stable democracy is unlikely to emerge in Egypt, and there is real fear that fundamentalism and conflict will result from the crisis—even under circumstances where the American people say they are largely uncertain about what type of government will emerge.

Obama's 'Apology Tour'

"I think he had made a practice of trying to apologize for America. I personally am proud of America."
--Former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Feb. 20, 2011

"I will not and I will never apologize for America. I don't apologize for America, because I believe in America."
--Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney (author of "No Apology: The Case for American Greatness"), Feb. 11, 2011

"Mr. President, stop apologizing for our country."
--Former Minnesota governor Tim Pawlenty, Feb. 11, 2011

The Fact Checker senses a campaign theme emerging: Obama the apologist.

As the above quotes illustrate, it is an article of faith among top Republicans that President Obama has repeatedly apologized for the United States and its behavior. Even more, the argument goes, he does not believe in American strength and greatness. The assertion feeds into a subterranean narrative that Obama, with his exotic, mixed-race background, is not really American in the first place.

The claim that Obama is an apologist for America actually began to take shape shortly after he became president. It had been bubbling in the conservative blogs before Karl Rove, the former political adviser to George W. Bush, published an article titled "The President's Apology Tour" in the Wall Street Journal on April 23, 2009, just three months after Obama took the oath of office.

By June, the conservative Heritage Foundation began running a list: "Barack Obama's Top 10 Apologies: How the President Has Humiliated a Superpower."

Public-opinion polling suggests the idea has resonance among the American public. A December Gallup poll found that only 58 percent of those surveyed agreed that Obama believed the United States has a unique character that makes it the greatest country in the world; 37 percent said he did not. By contrast, 74 percent thought George W. Bush did, 77 percent though Bill Clinton did, and 86 percent thought Ronald Reagan did. Among Republicans, 61 percent thought Obama did not believe in the greatness of America.

Let's look at the evidence.

The Facts

Most of the criticism stems from a series of speeches that Obama made shortly after taking office, when he was trying to introduce himself to the world and also signify a break with the Bush administration with new policies, such as pledging to close the detainee facility at Guantanamo Bay.

This is typical of many new presidents. George W. Bush, for instance, quickly broke with Clinton administration policy on dealings with North Korea, the Kyoto climate change treaty and the international criminal court, to name a few.

Rove built his case around four quotes made by Obama:

Mr. Obama told the French (the French!) that America "has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive" toward Europe. In Prague, he said America has "a moral responsibility to act" on arms control because only the U.S. had "used a nuclear weapon." In London, he said that decisions about the world financial system were no longer made by "just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy" -- as if that were a bad thing. And in Latin America, he said the U.S. had not "pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors" because we "failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas."

In none of these cases does Obama actually use a word at all similar to "apologize." The Latin American comment might have resonance with Rove's old boss, since that was Bush's charge against the Clinton administration in the 2000 campaign. The Prague and London quotes are not apologies at all. The Paris quote, which is often cited as an apology, is taken out of context.

In Paris, Obama was trying to rebuild relations with Europe, where opposition to the Iraq war had run high. The quote in Paris often cited by conservatives is this: "In America, there's a failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive."

That doesn't sound like much of an apology, more of a statement of fact that few international-relations experts would quarrel with. But Obama was making the case that both sides had misunderstood each other, and so he also said: "But in Europe, there is an anti-Americanism that is at once casual, but can also be insidious. Instead of recognizing the good that America so often does in the world, there have been times where Europeans choose to blame America for much of what's bad."

The two sentences are a matched pair; there is no apology.

The Heritage Foundation list is also a stretch. Again, nothing akin to the word "apology" is ever used by Obama. In most of these cases, Obama is trying to make a clear distinction with his predecessor, much as Ronald Reagan did with Jimmy Carter, or George W. Bush with Clinton. Guantanamo or the war on terrorism figures in four of the so-called apologies -- and it is noteworthy during the 2000 campaign that Obama's GOP opponent, Sen. John McCain, also had said he would close the facility. Obama's comments express a disagreement over policy, not a distaste for the nation.

Another Heritage example is a speech Obama gave in April 2009 to the Turkish parliament, in which he was trying to urge that country to come to terms with its tragic history with the Armenians: "The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution."

But compare what Obama said to what George W. Bush said at Senegal's Goree Island in 2003. Bush called the U.S. constitution flawed and said that America is still troubled by the legacy of slavery. This does not seem like an apology, either -- but it is even more sharply framed than Obama's comments.

We can fairly judge the past by the standards of President John Adams, who called slavery "an evil of callosal magnitude." We can discern eternal standards in the deeds of William Wilberforce and John Quincy Adams, and Harriet Beecher Stowe and Abraham Lincoln. These men and women, black and white, burned with a zeal for freedom, and they left behind a different and better nation. Their moral vision caused Americans to examine our hearts, to correct our Constitution, and to teach our children the dignity and equality of every person of every race. By a plan known only to Providence, the stolen sons and daughters of Africa helped to awaken the conscience of America. The very people traded into slavery helped to set America free. My nation's journey toward justice has not been easy and it is not over. The racial bigotry fed by slavery did not end with slavery or with segregation. And many of the issues that still trouble America have roots in the bitter experience of other times. But however long the journey, our destination is set: liberty and justice for all.

Why would Obama's comment on slavery be considered an apology and not Bush's?

Similarly, Bush's secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice suggested in Cairo in 2005 that U.S. policies were directly responsible for the terrorism that had struck the United States: "Our policies to try and promote what we thought was stability in the Middle East had actually allowed, underneath, a very malignant, meaning cancerous, form of extremism to grow up underneath because people didn't have outlets for their political views."

Obama, meanwhile, has refused to apologize for past CIA meddling in Latin America. "I'm interested in going forward, not looking backward," Obama said after talks with Chilean leader Michelle Bachelet. "I think that the United States has been an enormous force for good in the world. I think there have been times where we've made mistakes. But I think that what is important is looking at what our policies are today, and what my administration intends to do in cooperating with the region."

But Bush on several occasions apologized to foreign governments for actions taken by U.S. soldiers, such as for the shooting of a Koran or prisoner abuse in Iraq. "I told him I was sorry for the humiliation suffered by the Iraqi prisoners and the humiliation suffered by their families," Bush said at a news conference with Jordan's King Abdullah.

Finally, critics point to another April 2009 statement by Obama as evidence that he does not believe in American exceptionalism.

Asked by a British reporter if he thought the United States was uniquely qualified to lead the world, Obama answered: "I believe in American exceptionalism, just as I suspect that the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks believe in Greek exceptionalism." As Romney put it in his book, this "is another way of saying he doesn't believe it all."

But Obama was just getting warmed up. His very next sentence was: "I'm enormously proud of my country and its role and history in the world." Obama continued: "If you think of our current situation, the United States remains the largest economy in the world. We have unmatched military capability. And I think that we have a core set of values that are enshrined in our Constitution, in our body of law, in our democratic practices, in our belief in free speech and equality, that, though imperfect, are exceptional."

In the early months of his presidency, Obama had a way of backing into his answers, starting off with a humble tone ("just as I suspect the Brits...") that some supporters of American power may have found grating. But snippets of his answers do not do justice to his complete remarks.

The Pinocchio Test

The claim that Obama repeatedly has apologized for the United States is not borne out by the facts, especially if his full quotes are viewed in context.

Obama often was trying to draw a rhetorical distinction between his policies and that of President Bush, a common practice when the presidency changes parties. The shift in policies, in fact, might have been more dramatic from Clinton to Bush than from Bush to Obama, given how Obama has largely maintained Bush's approach to fighting terrorism.

In other cases, Obama's quotes have been selectively trimmed for political purposes. Or they were not much different than sentiments expressed by Bush or his secretary of state. Republicans may certainly disagree with Obama's handling of foreign policy or particular policies he has pursued, but they should not invent a storyline that does not appear to exist.

Note to GOP speechwriters and campaign ad makers: The apology tour never happened.
Four Pinocchios !!!!!!!!!!!!! As if you didn't really know!?


George Soros Sounded A Lot Like Glenn Beck

I missed George Soros's Fareed Zakaria GPS where he responded to Glenn Beck's boogeyman claims and Fox News in general (more that latter than the former, actually).

But after watching the clip from O'Reilly's segment on it last night this quote from Soros jumped out.

"Fox News makes a habit. It has imported the messages of George Orwell, you know news speak. Where you can tell the people falsehoods and deceive them. And you wouldn't believe that an open society and a democracy these matters can succeed but actually they did succeed. They succeeded in Germany where the Weimar Republic collapsed and you had the Nazi regime follow it."

I think the Weimar Republic is supposed to be the United States in this scenario -- which, for a number of reasons, is a bit of a stretch -- making Fox News the Nazis.

Point being, if you switched out the phrase 'Fox News' and replaced it with Progressives, or Muslim Brotherhood etc., you'd be forgiven for assuming you were reading a quote from Glenn Beck.

I think we can safely say that much like none of these other things are like Nazis, neither is Fox News.
Nazis are like Nazis.
Fox News and Progressives and everyone else demonized in the media, meanwhile, are generally the result of a free press and people who know how to do what they do well. It's disappointing the Zakaria didn't push back on that comparison.

Qaddafi Just Ordered The Destruction Of Oil Pipelines To The Mediterranean

Colonel Qaddafi has ordered the disruption of Libyan oil exports by destroying pipelines to the Mediterranean, sources tell Time's Robert Baer:

"There's been virtually no reliable information coming out of Tripoli, but a source close to the Gaddafi regime I did manage to get hold of told me the already terrible situation in Libya will get much worse.

Among other things, Gaddafi has ordered security services to start sabotaging oil facilities. They will start by blowing up several oil pipelines, cutting off flow to Mediterranean ports.

The sabotage, according to the insider, is meant to serve as a message to Libya's rebellious tribes: It's either me or chaos."

Oil has been spiking on fears of a Libyan disruption. Already today the country declared force majeur, effectively canceling oil contracts.

Libya produces 1.9 million barrels of oil per day.

Again IF you listen to this buffool YOU need help!

Rush Limbaugh Says Michelle Obama Is Too Fat To Date Alex Rodriguez*

A lot has been made out of Michelle Obama's campaign against obesity. It really seems to rub a lot of people the wrong way.

The latest naysayer is Rush Limbaugh.

On his radio show yesterday, Limbaugh first called Michelle Obama a hypocrite for taking her daughters out to eat ribs at Vail, where they were spotted "feasting on ribs -- ribs that were 1,575 calories per serving with 141 grams of fat, per serving."

Except they weren't.

"Dare I say," said Limbaugh, "it doesn't look like the first lady follows her own dietary advice."

We can see where you're going with this one, Mr. Limbaugh. You're no Adonis yourself. Please stop.

But he doesn't: “I’m trying to say that our First Lady does not project the image of women that you might see on the cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue, or of a woman Alex Rodriguez might date every six months or what have you.”

Because clearly an SI swimsuit model is the figure (no pun intended) that we would all like our First Lady to emulate.