Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Such a deal

with his characteristic wit, Mark Steyn sums up what the health care bill will mean in practice:

We were told we had to do it because of the however many millions of uninsured, yet this bill will leave some 25 million Americans uninsured. On the other hand, millions of young fit healthy Americans in their first jobs who currently take the entirely reasonable view that they do not require health insurance at this stage in their lives will be forced to pay for coverage they neither want nor need. On the other other hand, those Americans who’ve done the boring responsible grown-up thing and have health plans Harry Reid determines to be excessively “generous” will be subject to punitive taxes up to 40 percent. On the other other other hand, if you’re the member of a union which enjoys privileged relations with Commissar Reid you’ll be exempt from that 40 percent shakedown. On the other other other other hand, if you’re already enjoying government health care, well, you’re 83 years old and, let’s face it, it’s hardly worth us giving you that surgery for the minimal contribution you make to society, so in the cause of extending government health care to millions of people who don’t currently get it we’re going to ration it for those currently entitled to it.

Looking at the millions of Americans it leaves uninsured, and the millions it leaves with worse treatment and reduced access, and the millions it makes pay significantly more for their current health care, one can only marvel at Harry Reid’s genius: government health care turns out to be all government and no health care. Adding up the zillions of new taxes and bureaucracies and regulations it imposes on the citizenry, one might almost think that was the only point of the exercise.

That’s why I believe America’s belated embrace of government health care is going to be far more expensive and disastrous than the Euro-Canadian models. Whatever one’s philosophical objection to the Canadian health system, it is, broadly, fair: Unless you’re a cabinet minister or a bigtime hockey player, you’ll enjoy the same equality of crappiness and universal lack of access that everybody else does. But, even before it’s up-and-running, Pelosi-Reid-Obamacare is an impenetrable thicket of contradictory boondoggles, shameless payoffs, and arbitrary shakedowns.

Me? I think he's too optimistic...

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Monday, December 28, 2009

Why warming is more chic than cooling was

Mark Steyn nails it, as usual, with his MacLeans column about why global warmism is so appealing:

According to the CIA’s analysis, “detrimental global climatic change” threatens “the stability of most nations.” And, alas, for a global phenomenon, Canada will be hardest hit. The entire Dominion from the Arctic to the 49th parallel will be under 150 feet of ice.

Oh, wait. That was the last “scientific consensus” on “climate change,” early seventies version, as reflected in a CIA report from August 1974

Indeed. A lot of the loudest voices sounding the alarm over The Crisis Formerly Known as Global Warming are too young to even be aware that there was an equally urgent looming ice age crisis not much more than 3 decades ago.

The rest are old enough to know about it, but too dishonest to mention it, because that would be an admission that climactic scare mongering has a very poor track record.

Yet, when I reprised the line [that 30 year olds have seen no warming in their adult lives] in this space a couple of weeks back, thinking it was now safe for polite society, I was besieged by the usual “YOU LIE!!!!!!!” emails angrily denouncing me for failing to explain that the cooling trend of the oughts is in fact merely a blip in the long-term warming trend of the nineties.

Well, maybe. Then again, perhaps the warming trend of the nineties is merely a blip in the long-term ice age trend of the early seventies.

Why did apocalyptic warm-mongering take, where apocalyptic ice-mongering did not?

There were no fortunes to be made from government grants for bogus “renewable energy” projects. Unlike Al Gore, carbon billionaire, nobody got rich peddling ice offsets.

Precisely right: nobody was clever enough to figure out how to collect massive profits on the imminent ice age; today's scientists, pseudo-scientists, former VP's and assorted other hucksters have become rather more, ummm, entrepreneurial.

But profiteering only explains it for Al Gore and the few thousands of other guys who are in the pump and dump racket purely for the dough.

For the rest, the millions of true believers, it boils down to that most basic of human needs: religion.

Why did “climate change” remain the boutique scare-story of a few specialists last time round, and gain global traction this time round? In the Spectator, Maurizio Morabito puts it this way:
“Is the problem with the general public, who cannot talk about climate except in doom-laden terms, and for whom the sky is the last animist god?”

That last part explains a lot. Forty years ago conventional religious belief was certainly in decline in what we once knew as Christendom, but the hole was not yet ozone-layer sized. Once the sea of faith had receded far from shore, the post-Christian West looked at what remained and found “Gaia.” [...] [W]e’ve had climate change for four billion years. But now apparently there is an ideal state that Ma Mère has to be maintained in. A belief in a garden of Eden which man through sin has despoiled sounds familiar. But this time we get to pick. Not the Medieval Warm Period that causes the “scientific consensus” such problems, and not presumably the bucolic state the planet was in when Canada was 150 feet under, but some pristine condition somewhere in between.

When man was made in the image of God, he was fallen but redeemable. Gaia’s psychologically unhealthy progeny are merely irredeemable. Anti-humanism is everywhere [...]

Very few sciences could survive being embraced as a religion. Imagine the kind of engineering or math you’d get if it also had to function as a “faith tradition.” What’s also changed since the seventies is the nature of the UN and the transnational bureaucracies. Once it became obvious that “climate change” represents an almost boundless shakedown of functioning jurisdictions by dysfunctional basket cases, the die was cast. “Aid” is a discredited word these days and comes with too many strings attached. But eco-credits sluiced through an oil-for-food program on steroids offers splendid new opportunities for bulking up an ambitious dictator’s Swiss bank accounts.

And, because of this malign combination—corrupted science, ersatz religion, Third World opportunism—global warming took off in a way the old ice age never did. It would perhaps be too much to expect a generation of brainwashed schoolkids to shake off their brain-dead conformism. And so, between the anti-human left and an alliance of rapacious dictatorships, it now falls to a handful of economically expansive emerging nations—India, China, Brazil, a couple of others—to save the developed world from itself.

He notes the pandering to dictators without noting the very totalitarian mindset that underlies the entire movement, but that would be straying away from the point of the column: that packaging racketeering as religion, coupled with a cradle to grave propaganda campaign unmatched in modern human history, is the reason that "climate change" was able to sway the impressionable much more than the more modest campaign of the previous generation.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Quick hits 12/19

More links and tweets that have caught my eye, with a bit of commentary:

Telling sentence: “The majorities opposing Obama on the Guantanamo issue are even larger than those that oppose him on national health care.”

Some encouraging medical news.

The green mind at work: Prince Charles used up seven months’ worth of the average British person’s “carbon footprint” yesterday flying to Copenhagen on an executive jet to make a speech on climate change.

Oklahoma City’s Wednesday night shoes

John Stossel: “Someone will ration health care. In America, insurance companies usually do it. In most of the rest of the world, governments do. Costs skyrocket under both systems. Its time we tried the third option: let individuals use their own money to buy health care.”

John Hinderaker: “Don't fall for the pretense that the international ‘green’ movement is about anything other than anti-free enterprise and anti-American ideology.”

Robert Heinlein: “Throughout history, poverty is the normal condition of man. Advances which permit this norm to be exceeded — here and there, now and then — are the work of an extremely small minority, frequently despised, often condemned, and almost always opposed by all right-thinking people. Whenever this tiny minority is kept from creating, or (as sometimes happens) is driven out of a society, the people then slip back into abject poverty.”

How many people remember that Obama, during his campaign, promised a net spending cut?

There are still 14 days left, but I’m declaring this the photo caption of the year.

And this the bookstore display of the year.

When the directions say “Roll it on over the head” this is NOT what it means.

Climate change: nature’s way.

Tiger and PC in domestic violence

Why does an attempt to transfer the right to make medical decisions from the people to government surprise anybody? Did you expect a Chicago machine politician to show an enthusiasm for civil liberties?

Foreign Object Damage asks: “Does it concern anyone else that anger is the only emotion that President Obama has displayed in public over the last month?” What, did you think he wasn’t really part of the Angry Left?

Thogocracy update: Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla) wants to imprison a local critic. This idiot exemplifies the police-state mindset.

John Stossel on the matter: “Bullies like Congressman Grayson illustrate the danger of government power; government is the only entity that can legally use force. That makes government a fearsome master. It can use force to take our money, and homes, and our freedom.”

From @Jeff_Jacoby: Ex-soldier finds a gun, turns it into the police, & is promptly arrested for possessing a firearm. Beyond Orwellian.

Happiest state ranking, Texas a disappointing 16th (Austin must be dragging us down).

Ridiculous photo caption editorializing.

Tweets from the wild Mavs-Rockets game I attended:
From STEIN_LINE_HQ: Brace yourself: Mavs found pieces from two Landry teeth embedded in gash in Dirk's right elbow
From STEIN_LINE_HQ: Landry taken straight to hospital. Mavs needed 30 minutes to clean up Dirk's elbow just to get ready for X-rays.
From @kpelton: This Houston-Dallas game will not go down as a monument to quality NBA officiating.
From @MFollowill: Hearing stories the process of picking the teeth of dirk's elbow was quite gruesome. Didn't know if it was his bone or Landry's teeth. Wow!

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Quick hits 12/15

Some short notes, links and thoughts:

John Hinderaker repeats what I have been stressing: “Having the far left in control of both the executive and legislative branches is a terrible thing, but on the plus side, it is clarifying: people actually have to think about where they stand on the big issue of freedom vs. socialism. Or, in other words, freedom vs. slavery.”

John Edwards: not only a sleazebag, but a common criminal.

Some who live on confiscated money hypocritically do not allow their own to be confiscated.

Ann Althouse: “The strategy for avoiding the label ‘death panel’ is: present the treatments as deadly. Voila: life panels! Now, here’s your blue pill.”

Al Gore busted lying...again.

Big Hollywood: “What’s the Difference Between the Mafia and a Hollywood Leftist? …the Mafia doesn’t go after your family.”

Incompetence update: more uninvited guests get to Obama. This is scary, at some point they won’t be quite so friendly if this continues.

Worst restaurant names ever

Calling Obama a socialist seems a bit overheated, but it does hold up to scrutiny; this is a president who has sought to restructure about 35% of the economy from the top down: health care (17% of GDP), energy (9.8%), and financial services (8%). Socialism is a Utopian fantasy of the academic class, and most of his administration is staffed with academics, so this is not exactly a surprising development.

Always remember: If you don't know who the mark is, you are the mark.

How cool is this?

Stem cell fact: Restrictions on embryonic stem cell research originated with Congress, which, each year since in 1996, has forbidden the use of federal financing for any experiment in which a human embryo is destroyed. What, you thought it was George W. Bush?

Charles Krauthammer:
Forget for a moment the economic effects of severe carbon chastity. There’s the matter of constitutional decency. If you want to revolutionize society — as will drastic carbon regulation and taxation in an energy economy that is 85 percent carbon-based — you do it through Congress reflecting popular will. Not by administrative fiat of EPA bureaucrats.

Congress should not just resist this executive overreaching, but trump it: Amend existing clean-air laws and restore their original intent by excluding CO2 from EPA control and reserving that power for Congress and future legislation.

Do it now. Do it soon. Because Big Brother isn’t lurking in CIA cloak. He’s knocking on your door, smiling under an EPA cap.

Gaming the CBO numbers.

It didn’t take long for people to long for the competence of the second Bush administration, did it?

Martin Kramer makes the superb point that there is really no difference between Bush’s infamous “Bring ‘em on” challenge and Obama’s America deprecation in that each is “effectively an open invitation to America’s adversaries, and even its allies, to elude, evade, defy and confront the United States”.

He also correctly notes that “Middle Eastern states bend in response to displays of power, although as soon as they perceive weakness, they snap back to default position.”

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Quick hits 12/14

John Stossel on Harry Reid: “Accusing someone of being a racist is typically a last desperate measure when someone has lost an argument.” Undeniably true.

Dr. Melissa Clouthier demonstrates that Reid had it exactly backward: “Those who fight the health care legislation fear being owned. They fear that every personal decision from cradle to grave will be manipulated by a nameless, faceless bureaucrat in Washington D.C. They fear easily accessible files, not unlike the IRS, where a government employee can know every private piece of information about the citizen’s life. They fear health care decisions made for financial expedience. In short, those who fight against this health care bill, don’t want to be owned by the government...Harry Reid is all about ownership… the government owns and the taxpayer is enslaved.”

I have used the taxation as slavery comparison before myself, and will again.

Why do people fall under the spell of hyped-up scare mongering like global warmism? Don Surber hits the nail on the head: “a lot of it is a need for religion among irreligious people. The idea of man's sins causing punishment by nature is nearly universal in history...From the ancient Greeks - not exactly a primitive people - to the modern Australian aborigines, the tribes of men share in common a desire to connect their behavior to natural phenomenon.”

Epic win indeed!

Jonathan Abrams on the challenge that is the triangle.

Lest you think that it was only Washington driving the (largely government created) housing crisis.

John Hinderaker busts Obama pretending that “the world recognized” driving Saddam out of Kuwait was a just cause. In fact, the American and international left were bitterly opposed to Bush the Elder on this and Senate Democrats voted 45-10 (including the current VP) to block it.

That said, he may not be lying here, as he has proven to be ignorant of (even recent) history on so many occasions. I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and call it ignorance.

Democrats are twice as likely as Republicans to say that they've seen a ghost and more than twice as likely to believe in astrology. Democrats are also more than twice as likely to have consulted a fortune teller.

Kim Strassel points out that the EPA’s attempt to blackmail Congress into passing some form of Cap and Tax is a boon for the legislators; they can call the bluff and avoid the wrath of the voters and leave the administration to own it.

The AP assigns 11 “fact checkers” to Palin’s book, 5 to Climategate. Remember when it was a straight news organization?

Is the 3D TV screen at the Death Star the dumbest idea ever? Because, you know, you’re there, if you want a 3D image WATCH THE GAME.

The Senate health care bill amendment to limit attorney contingency fees on medical malpractice failed by a 66-32 vote. That is conclusive proof that the pro “reform” side has no interest whatsoever in controlling medical costs. A primary goal of these various bills is to transfer wealth from doctors and patients to trial lawyers, as a political favor.

Classic dumb criminal story

Ed Morrissey: “Who could have warned us that a man who served seven years in the state legislature and three years in the Senate would not have been prepared for the toughest executive position in the Free World? We did. Repeatedly. So did John McCain, and for that matter, so did Hillary Clinton.”

Least surprising news ever: “New research by Nina Mazar and Chen-Bo Zhong at the University of Toronto levels an even graver charge: that virtuous shopping can actually lead to immoral behavior. In their study (described in a paper now in press at Psychological Science), subjects who made simulated eco-friendly purchases ended up less likely to exhibit altruism in a laboratory game and more likely to cheat and steal.”

East Anglia CRU is stepping up their hiding of climate data. These people are as crooked as an old catcher’s fingers.

This is what astroturf looks like

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Quick hits 12/10

John Stossel on global warmism: “With millions dying from malnutrition, poor hygiene, and malaria, the world’s poobah’s want to spend trillions on a theoretical problem.”

From @gordonkeith: I can't believe Tiger was betrayed by a reality TV chick. They usually are very private and discreet.

Copenhagen hypocrisy: "We haven't got enough limos in the country to fulfill the demand…We're having to drive them in hundreds of miles from Germany and Sweden."

The Wall Street Journal on what government can do to help create jobs: “If Congress won't reduce taxes, the best stimulus now would be for Congress to stop scaring private job creators by promising to help them. Just do nothing at all.”

Some may find the Obama/Democrat attempt to reduce charitable giving via taxation to be counterintuitive, they being the supposed party that cares about the downtrodden. But in fact it is perfectly consistent with their vision, which is to advance government as the distributor of goodies. Private charity, seen as good thing to most of us, is seen as a competitor to be crushed by those of the statist mindset.

More from @gordonkeith: I would say that I am the Tiger Woods of sexting, but I guess he is now.

Thomas Sowell: “What does ‘economic justice’ mean, except that you want something that someone else produced, without having to produce anything yourself in return?”

Along the same line: “Since this is an era when many people are concerned about ‘fairness’ and ‘social justice,’ what is your “fair share” of what someone else has worked for?”

More Sowell: “Here is a math problem for you: Assume that the legislation establishing government control of medical care is passed and that it ‘brings down the cost of medical care.’ You pay $500 a year less for your medical care, but the new costs put on employers is passed on to consumers, so that you pay $300 a year more for groceries and $200 a year more for gasoline, while the new mandates put on insurance companies raise your premiums by $300 a year, how much money have you saved?”

And one more: “Government pressures on mortgage lenders to accept less than the full amount they are owed may win votes for politicians, since there are far more borrowers than lenders. But how much future lending can be expected when the lenders know that politicians are ready to intervene at any time to prevent them from getting their money back?”

James Taranto:
Q: How many climate scientists does it take to change a light bulb?
A: None. There's a consensus that it's going to change, so they've decided to keep us in the dark.

The (British) NHS Cancer Plan has a cut-off age of 70, meaning half of those diagnosed with cancer are ineligible for treatment. See how government health care works?

Stuff Hipsters Hate

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Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Quick hits 12/9

Some notable links, quotes and tweets:

I’m loving this idea.

Why Switzerland Has The Lowest Crime Rate In The World

Deceiver.com: “Taking a private jet to a conference on stopping global warming is a bit like traveling in a sedan chair carried by indentured servants to a summit on stopping human trafficking.”

Wow! From @djturtleface: The Grizzlies drafted a player older then their average team age this year. Bet that's a record.

Bailout, Stimulus II, Government Spending: Still Totally Unpopular

Fascism update from @Jeff_Jacoby: Global warming alarmists want the U of Wisconsin to revoke the PhD of Pat Michaels, a notable climate skeptic. http://bit.ly/5N38s9

From @BrianFDonahue via @mkhammer: Who would have ever predicted this? Obama administration predicts $30B loss on auto bailout http://bit.ly/7GUHQn

This kind of shows the triviality of the gay “marriage” debate, doesn’t it? THE issue for gays is defeating radical Islam, the rest pales.

Occupational Licensing Abuse in Texas

Dems considering a lower Medicare age requirement? Great plan for a program that is already $37 trillion underfunded with the age as it is.

John Stossel: “Hidden taxes are more pernicious because they disguise what we pay for government. We blame merchants, not our legislators, for the high price of gasoline, liquor, cigarettes and phone calls, but the money goes to the political thieves.”

Walter Willaims: "Politicians are worse than thieves. At least when thieves take your money, they don't expect you to thank them for it."

Interesting (and obvious) observation from an Indian UN delegate: “It is morally wrong for us to agree to reduce (emissions) when 40% of Indians do not have access to electricity.”

Nice illustration of the global warming mindset, a Der Spiegel piece by Christian Schwagerl: “If the rest of the world were to follow the US example in their in their approach to fossil fuels, the oceans would not only heat up, but would probably begin to boil.”

So much of the global warmist movement is about pure envy, jealousy over the success of the US and its people and a desire for us to commit economic suicide so that our people would be forced to live as Europeans do, instead of the lifestyles that we have earned.

The effort to sell health care reform as the solution to our problems is meant for politically uninformed and unsophisticated voters. One thing the last few months has shown us is that the more people learn about the issues, the more likely they are to reject an increased government role.

Vaclav Klaus, a man who knows a little bit about tyranny: "The biggest source of dangers for freedom, democracy, the market economy, and prosperity at the end of the 20th century and at the beginning of the 21st century ceased to be socialism, but it is now an ambitious, very arrogant, and almost unscrupulous ideology of a political movement . . . of environmentalism."

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Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Quick hits 12/8

Some quick tweets and links that have caught my eye:

I do have to give Obama credit for his sense of humor, in making light of the stimulus job fudging fiasco by following his ceremonial Thanksgiving turkey pardon with “All told, I believe it’s fair to say that we have saved or created four turkeys.”

AARP *opposes* the McCain amendment to block any Medicare benefit reductions, with the explanation "The legislation does not reduce any guaranteed Medicare benefits." They don’t even pretend to care more about seniors than they do about Democrats anymore, do they?

Not that that should be construed as me disagreeing with Medicare cuts, but I would like to see them as standalone policy, not as part of increasing government’s role in medical care. The growth of government’s role is one of the primary forces that has distorted the market and gotten us into this inflationary spiral.

From @forumbluegold: RE: Artest and Hennessy. I'm very glad all the stupid s&$#% I did at 19 doesn't end up in magazines. (Amen to that!)

Charles Johnson completes his transformation from right wing extremist to raving moonbat. I’m guessing he went from being a Phillies fan to being a Yankees fan this year as well.

Health care bill gives states incentives to drop out of Medicaid.

A roundup of Tiger Woods jokes.

Don’t know the source of this quote, but it’s money: “You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Stimulus math.

Another thing government should not be doing.

House of cards tumbling: Australia ditches cap and trade in Climategate's aftermath

Culture of Corruption update.

Your stimulus dollars at work.

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Paying them to lie

John Stossel on politicians and health care:

When you knowingly pay someone to lie to you, we call the deceiver an illusionist or a magician. When you unwittingly pay someone to do the same thing, I call him a politician. [...]

I happily suspend disbelief when a magician says he'll saw a woman in half. That's entertainment. But when Harry Reid says he'll give 30 million additional people health coverage while cutting the deficit, improving health care and reducing its cost, it's not entertaining. It's incredible. [...]

To be deficit-reducers, the health care bills depend on a $200 billion cut in Medicare. Current law requires cuts in payments to doctors, but let's get real: Those cuts will never happen. The idea that Congress will "save $200 billion" by reducing payments for groups as influential as doctors and retirees is laughable. Since 2003, Congress has suspended those "required" cuts each year.

Our pandering congressmen rarely cut. They just spend. [...]

Medicare is already $37 trillion in the hole. Yet the Democrats proudly cite Medicare when they demand support for the health care overhaul. If a business pulled the accounting tricks the politicians get away with, the owners would be in prison.

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Quick hits 12/1

Some quick tweets and links that have caught my eye:

From @mkhammer: Obama rhetoric flashback, March '09: "So, let me be clear...that cause could not be more just."

From @MoRocca via @freeloosedirt: Obama to send 30,002 troops to Afghanistan (congrats, Tareq and Michaele Salahi! This time you're invited.)

Interesting, as it moves the timeline back: @senatus: Harkin: We will deliver a health care bill to Obama before the State of the Union (on MSNBC). (via @wonkroom)

Bacon: the gateway meat

The Next Right: “please explain why the Downing Street memo was definitive proof of a rush to judgment and Climategate isn't.”

Why Tiger’s not talking

Why the need to rig climate “science”? Money, of course.

Government in action.

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Did I say the good war?

Byron York on the Afghanistan as "the good war" lie coming home to roost:

If the base didn't support it, then why did candidates promise it? Because Democratic voters and candidates were playing a complex game. Nearly all of them hated the war in Iraq and wanted to pull Americans out of that country. But they were afraid to appear soft on national security, so they pronounced the smaller conflict in Afghanistan one they could support. Many of them didn't, really, but for political expediency they supported candidates who said they did. Thus the party base signed on to a good war-bad war strategy. ...

But now, with Democrats in charge of the entire U.S. government and George Bush nowhere to be found, Pelosi and others in her party are suddenly very, very worried about U.S. escalation in Afghanistan. "There is serious unrest in our caucus," the speaker said recently. There is so much unrest that Democrats who show little concern about the tripling of already-large budget deficits say they're worried about the rising cost of the war.

It is in that atmosphere that Obama makes his West Point speech. He had to make certain promises to get elected. Unlike some of his supporters, he has to remember those promises now that he is in office. So he is sending more troops. But he still can't tell the truth about so many Democratic pledges to support the war in Afghanistan: They didn't mean it.

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Fantastic finish

For those of you who missed it (and why wouldn't you have?), the CFL's Grey Cup (Canadian football's Super Bowl) had an ending for the ages.

Saskatchewan led, 27-25, as Montreal lined up to try a game/championship winning field goal as time was expiring. And missed it, wide right, but...Saskatchewan had 12 men on the field, penalty.

Montreal made the second attempt, pulling out a dramatic 28-27 win.

I'm sure games have ended like this before, in fact I think Ive seen one, but for such a thing to decide a championship, even of a minor league, is staggering.