Bogus Numbers Behind Michelle Obama’s Claim ‘Let’s Move’ Has Reduced Child Obesity By Nearly Half

First lady Michelle Obama has been taking a page from her husband’s rulebook recently, talking up a failed policy initiative to make it appear successful. In commemorating the 4th anniversary of the “Let’s Move” campaign to eliminate childhood obesity, she’s been touting a study that claims a 43 percent reduction in only four short years.

But the study itself is bogus.

After the first lady repeatedly cited a February study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control that seemed to indicate childhood obesity rates had plummeted, scientific peers took notice of the remarkable findings and began to scrutinize the study’s methods. That led them to strongly question its results, according to Reuters:

Anti-obesity campaigners credited everything from changes to the federal nutrition program for low-income women and children to the elimination of trans-fats from fast food, more physical activity in child-care programs and declining consumption of sugary drinks.

First Lady Michelle Obama and others seized on the finding as a sign that efforts to combat the national obesity epidemic were paying off.

But as obesity specialists take a closer look at the data, some are questioning the 43 percent claim, suggesting that it may be a statistical fluke and pointing out that similar studies find no such decrease in obesity among preschoolers.

In fact, based on the researchers’ own data, the obesity rate may have even risen rather than declined.

“You need to have a healthy degree of skepticism about the validity of this finding,” said Dr. Lee Kaplan, director of the weight center at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Researchers said the sample size of the group under CDC observation (871 children) is simply too low to shore up such a dramatic decrease in obesity rates, and they point out that the study stands alone among a sea of other concurrent research that doesn’t reflect the same results. A much broader study encompassing 200,000 children whose mothers receive WIC nutrition assistance from the government during the same period observed “virtually no change in obesity rates,” according to The Weekly Standard.

Ted Cruz Embraces Poster Of Himself As A Tattoo-Covered Outlaw

A California artist got hold of an image of Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in time to digitally alter it and plaster the result all over the Beverly Wilshire Hotel Saturday, where Cruz himself was scheduled to speak. The new creation is something that may be lacking in figurative accuracy, but it’s drenched in symbolism.

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Upon discovering the posters, Cruz’ reaction was as cool as the image itself: he let himself be photographed signing one, while appending his own personal touch:

“The Fight For Liberty Never Ends,” he wrote beside his new rebellious portrait.

Twin revolvers, a Winston Churchill tat, and a pastiche of American iconography cover the shirtless figure while a cigarette dangles from Cruz’ lips. That seemed to be the only part Cruz disavowed.

The guy behind the image goes by the handle “SABO.” He’s a self-described conservative living within the progressive Los Angeles artists’ subculture, and he explains on his (or her?) website that, at some point, he realized he had just as much power to manipulate the media as all of his left-leaning peers:

“There was no place I could go where I wasn’t punched in the face by some sort of art defining who I was for being a Republican. Evil, Bigotted [sic], Homophobic, Out of Touch, Rich, Greedy, on and on. And then I snapped. Why was the Left allowed to define me and where are the dissenting voices from the Right setting the record straight? Creatively speaking there was no one,” he wrote.

“My aim as an artist is to be as dirty, ground level, and mean as any Liberal artist out there, more so if I can. Use their tactics, their methods, appeal to their audience, the young, urban, street urchins with a message they never hear in a style they own.

“My name is SABO and I am an UNSAVORYAGENT.”

Now the posters are up for sale (SABO calls it a donation, but it’s still an exchange of money for art.) But the Cruz poster may not be his most effective message. He’s also got a series of “Obama Drone” posters featuring the likenesses of celebrities like Samuel Jackson and Alec Baldwin superimposed over an airborne military drone, and another of Barack Obama made up as the Joker. And check this out:

HC_2016

Reid And Co. Get ‘Four Pinocchios’ For Koch Brothers Lie

Last week, we touched on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) growing fixation on the Koch brothers as the Democratic Party’s anointed “Bad Guys”: faces that Democratic voters can pair with their party leaders’ rhetoric to damage the evil Republican agenda during the 2014 Congressional election season.

By the time you read this, Reid will likely have gotten around to blaming the Koch brothers for everything from rigging conservative media to propagating the bubonic plague. His Twitter campaign to itemize his righteous grievances with the Koch influence is part of a calculated, if ill-conceived, general strategy to set Democrats everywhere on a months-long talkathon of Koch-bashing. It’s supposed to help them keep the Senate, or something.

One of the Koch-haters’ latest gripes stems from Democrats’ insistence that the Kochs are backing GOP candidates who seek new tax breaks for companies that move U.S. jobs offshore. Campaign ads for at-risk Democratic incumbents in the Senate, like Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, have alleged exactly that — despite the unmentioned fact that Landrieu has received a lot of money in past election cycles from a Koch-funded political action committee.

On Friday, The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” blog entered the fray — and gave the Reid camp’s sinister claim its dubious Four Pinocchios award for setting a high standard for deceptive speech.

The pro-GOP group Americans for Prosperity has relentlessly attacked Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), so the pro-Democratic group Senate Majority PAC has made AFP’s main backers, the Koch brothers, the subject of a new attack ad. This is all part of a larger Democratic strategy of tying GOP candidates to the conservative billionaires, as witnessed by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s near-daily attacks on them.

…For the purpose of this fact check, we will examine the claim that the Koch brothers have an agenda of protecting “tax cuts for companies that ship our jobs overseas.” That’s a new one.

…Upon examination, this claim crumbles into dust. The [Landrieu] ad not only mischaracterizes an ordinary tax deduction as a special “tax cut” but then it falsely asserts that “protecting” this tax break is part of the Koch agenda. It turns out this claim is based on a tenuous link to an organization that never even took a position on the legislation in question.

The Post admits it has found Americans for Prosperity’s conservative agenda distasteful in the past, but concludes that Democrats are reaching blindly: “[I]f you want to join a gun fight, don’t fire blanks,” the paper chides.

It’s The Economy, Stupid — We’ve Got Plenty Of Labor

A report released last week indicates there is an abundance of legal, able-bodied, employment-age people who aren’t participating in the American workforce, continuing a trend of decline dating back at least to the turn of the century.

According to the report, issued by the Center for Immigration Studies (CIS), there are presently 50 million people who could be — but aren’t — working or seeking a job, a figure that’s climbed from roughly 40 million in 2000.

The far-ranging immigration and employment survey, titled “Still No Evidence of a Labor Shortage,” drew heavily on data from the Census Bureau’s most recent Current Population Survey, which asks residents about their employment status, education level, housing situation and a host of other demographic markers.

From that information, CIS made several key determinations about whether the American labor pool would benefit, either in terms of supply or of income, if the government permits an even greater infusion of cheap labor into the country through amnesty and more lenient immigration policy:

In the fourth quarter of 2013, the standard unemployment rate (referred to as U-3) for native-born adults who have not completed high school was 16.6 percent, while for those with only a high school education it was 8.5. The U-3 unemployed are people who have looked for a job in the last four weeks.

The broader U-6 measure of unemployment — which includes those want to work, but have not looked recently, and those forced to work part-time — was 28.7 percent for native-born adults who have not completed high school and 16.5 percent for those with only a high school education.

The total number of native-born, working-age adults (18 to 65) of any education level not working (unemployed or out the labor force) was 50.5 million in the fourth quarter of 2012 — 8.8 million more than in the fourth quarter of 2007, and 14.7 million more than in the same quarter of 2000.

The share of working-age (18 to 65) natives holding a job has not recovered from the Great Recession. In the fourth quarter of 2013, 31 percent were not working, something that has barely improved in the last five years.

In the fourth quarter of 2013, there were only two working-age natives holding a job for every one that was not employed. This represents a huge deterioration. As recently as 2000, there were three working-age adults holding a job for every one not working.

The report finds that the domestic supply of dormant labor for low-skilled jobs — precisely those that an opening of the border would help to fill — is particularly large, if Americans fitting the demographic were offered sufficient economic incentive to choose working over not working.

“Congress is currently considering immigration reform packages that include work permits for those in the country illegally, as well as substantial increases in future legal immigration,” the study concludes. “Yet the latest employment data continue to show an enormous number of working-age Americans not working, particularly those with modest levels of education.”

The Articulate Argument Against ‘Immigration Reform’

The Republican Party is obviously at war with itself over whether, and to what extent, to close ranks with Congressional Democrats and the Obama Administration to address the myriad problems stemming from the presence of millions of illegal aliens who now reside in the United States.

The progressive left bolsters its pro-legalization, pro-amnesty position with ad hominem attacks on conservatives that portray them, too successfully and too often, as closet racists and apologists for the big-business status quo.

So if you happen to have a principled reason for believing it’s not a good idea for the GOP to go anywhere near an immigration deal proffered by a Democrat-led consortium of Congressmen – and yet, somehow, you’re not a racist or a fat cat – it can sometimes be tough to offer a cogent, well-articulated argument that’s nearly bulletproof against all but the most obvious of ad hominem attacks from the left.

Enter Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who penned a column this week for National Review.  He’s got it all down in one place. It’s a long read, but anyone who finishes it should have no doubt that being against amnesty isn’t about racism or poor-bashing: it’s about the American economy and the dignity of every able-bodied American who wishes to achieve a better life through hard work and free-market opportunity.

Here are some snippets:

Republicans have a clear path to building a conservative majority if they free themselves from the corporate consultants and demonstrate to the American public that the GOP is the only party aligned with the core interests, concerns, and beliefs of everyday hardworking citizens.

But the immigration “principles” offered by House GOP leaders imply that record immigration levels must be increased further to meet “the needs of employers.” One such GOP proposal — to provide the food industry with half a million low-skilled workers each year — was polled by Rasmussen. Nearly 70 percent of independent voters opposed it.

“Most business leaders have long favored more open immigration. Different businesses want different kinds of people,” a prominent GOP fundraiser declared on TV. “A restaurant may want waiters and cooks; a hospital wants nurses and doctors; a university wants physicists; a business like Exelon needs more engineers.” Asked by the interviewer about hiring U.S. workers for open jobs, he replied that many of those now unemployed are “unable to compete for them.”

Is that the message of a winning party? It might win a majority of votes at a dinner party in a gated community in Bel Air, but it is an act of profound delusion to think that plan can form the basis of a nationwide Republican resurgence.

Good so far? Here’s more:

…Republicans have a choice. They can either join the Democrats as the second political party in Washington advocating uncontrolled immigration, or they can offer the public a principled alternative and represent the American workers Democrats have jettisoned. Republicans can either help the White House enact an immigration plan that will hollow out the American middle class, or they can finally expose the truth about the White House plan and detail the enormous harm it will inflict.

Republicans could then illustrate how, on every policy front, the Left embraces an agenda that benefits only the fortunate few.

…Wherever the policies of the Left have been faithfully implemented, as in Detroit, human tragedy has followed. The future offered by the Left — a shrinking work force struggling to fund a growing welfare state — is not only unsustainable but uncompassionate. Compassion demands that we spare no effort in helping millions now jobless to realize the dream of financial independence. This is the urgent economic task of the 21st century.

Too often, Republicans have offered a passive reply to the Left’s refrain that the GOP does not care for those in need. The usual GOP responses — that the Left is engaged in “class warfare,” or is not presenting “credible solutions,” or is “kicking the can down the road” — fail to rebut the underlying slander. Instead, Republicans should hold the Left accountable for the social and moral harm its policies have inflicted on every community that has suffered for decades under its disastrous policy regime.

Now we’re almost home:

Currently, the federal government administers roughly 80 means-tested poverty-assistance and welfare programs, on which it spends $750 billion a year — that’s a larger cost than defense, Medicare, or Social Security. It is a sprawling, growing bureaucracy with almost no meaningful oversight or guiding vision.

…If these myriad programs were combined into a single manageable credit, with clear job-training and work requirements, not only would it cut down drastically on fraud but it would help struggling Americans rise out of poverty and into good-paying jobs — uplifting the worker while reducing costs for the taxpayer.

What if, instead of applying for guest workers, companies applied to hire workers receiving job training at a local welfare office? Able-bodied adults, in turn, would be required to accept employment or lose benefits. In other words: instead of a guest-worker program, a welfare-to-work program.

Would that not be in the national interest? Would that not improve the quality of life in struggling families, schools, and communities?

Such a plan should be combined with a series of conservative policies all united by that common theme: shrinking the welfare rolls and growing the employment rolls. This pro-worker conservative agenda would create millions of good-paying jobs without adding a dime to our dangerous debt[.]

Sessions goes on to outline at least eight specific policy points that shore up that overall goal – but there’s much more to his argument.

We’ve bookmarked this one. Check out Senator Sessions’ full column at National Review.

What He Said And What He Means: Obama Has Obamacare Where He Wants It Now

President Obama continued his linear march from fuzzy credibility toward brash deception today, telling an Internet audience that Obamacare has achieved the critical enrollment mass necessary to sustain itself.

“At this point, enough people are signing up that the Affordable Care Act is going to work,” Obama said during an interview at WebMD. “The insurance companies will continue to offer these plans. We already have 4 million people, over 4 million people, signed up…The pool is already large enough, the number of people who have signed up is large enough; I’m confident the program will be stable.”

Oh really? There’s no way that is true – or that it will be true anytime soon.

What he must really mean is that enough people have signed up – even if he’s not telling the truth with his “4 million” claim – to make repeal or sweeping alterations to the law a monumentally uphill struggle against a government program that’s deeply entrenched. If nothing else, Obamacare may have already built a small base of government dependents whose expectation is to now rely on free insurance, courtesy of an expanded Medicaid program, that conservative politicians won’t want to alienate. Who cares if the majority begrudges Obamacare? The few who stand to lose free stuff will hate that prospect far more, and GOP cruelty is great political fodder for tender-hearted progressives.

But Obamacare hasn’t built a financially solvent, self-sustaining base of paying customers – and Obama knows it. Every piece of evidence suggests the opposite, and the Administration’s own evasive behavior when confronted with questions about hard enrollment demographics only confirms it. Both insurance companies and the White House know that the Obamacare customer matrix is an inverted pyramid comprised mostly of free-care beneficiaries, followed by paying customers with ongoing medical issues and, comprising the very tiny tip, a few healthy young people whose insurance premiums are expensively out of proportion with their modest health care needs.

But Obama has the confidence that “enough” people have now signed up. That’s a disturbing tell, because it means he believes it will be hard to get rid of, even after the Congress turns against him or after he leaves office.

Government programs are a campaign tool of the left, and only a massively disruptive change in the progressive cycle of dependency will end that sinister truth.

Confiscating Camera Phone Costs Cops $250,000

It goes without saying that the only policy that’s needed to ensure citizens have a right to document the actions of their public servants is the 1st Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

But the Baltimore Police Department, fresh off an embarrassing encounter with a bystander who sued the agency after officers confiscated and altered his camera phone in a 2010 incident, has reformed its internal policy in an evident attempt to reassure the public that the police won’t be allowed to fabricate a pretense for abusing that right again.

According to The Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore PD has agreed to a $250,000 settlement to end a lawsuit filed by Christopher Sharp after the police confiscated his phone and deleted video he’d recorded of Baltimore officers making an arrest at the Preakness Stakes in 2010.

From the story:

The case centered on officers’ actions on May 15, 2010, at the Pimlico Race Course. There, Christopher Sharp said, officers violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights when they took his phone after the “arrest and beating” of his female friend.

Sharp, who was represented by the ACLU, sued the city, saying officers deleted videos on his phone.

“It took a long time, but … the Baltimore Police Department became very serious about resolving this case,” Sharp said. “What happened was wrong, but the Police Department is not my enemy. They have made great strides to correct this.”

Sharp originally wanted nothing more than an apology. But once the American Civil Liberties Union got involved, Sharp agreed to file a lawsuit against the department. A Federal judge lent the case momentum in 2012, ordering the police department to pay $1,000 in damages for attempting to assassinate Stephens’ character through follow-up intimidation tactics the judge described as a “witch hunt.”

That same year, the department attempted some damage control by codifying its policy on filing police officers in the line of duty. But the ACLU pushed back, saying the department hadn’t gone far enough. The revised policy reaffirms the public’s 1st Amendment right to film and record audio of police in the field, “unless such recordings interfere with police activity.” Maybe that wording invites some wiggle room for bad cops to interpret the rules as they see fit. Time will tell.

The department isn’t in the clear in complying with the 1st Amendment, or with its own revised rules.  The Sun story relates two other recent incidents in which police have attempted to stop people from filming what they were doing — one involved a Sun photographer snapping pictures at a crime scene.

The most encouraging takeaway from the department’s attempt at reform is its recognition of citizen journalism as an inherent right indistinguishable from that of organized news-gathering agencies. The new policy states that police “shall allow all persons the same access for photography and recording as is given to the news media.”

Did Sebelius Lie To Congress About How Many People Have Enrolled In Obamacare?

On Wednesday, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius played ignorant when Congressional Republicans asked her, point blank, how many alleged Obamacare enrollees have actually paid for the insurance plans they browsed through an online marketplace. “I can’t tell you because I don’t know that,” she replied.

Nah, she knows — or she’s intentionally sequestering herself from solid enrollment statistics the insurances companies have indeed provided to the government, one insurance industry source told POLITICO Thursday.

“They have a lot more information than they’re letting on,” the unnamed source said of President Barack Obama’ HHS Secretary’s feigned ignorance. “They have real hard data about the percent [of shoppers] that have paid … If they have not processed those yet and compiled the data, that is a choice they are making. But they have that data now.”

The Obama Administration is touting an Obamacare enrollment figure of 4.2 million, a number that it grudgingly admits reflects shoppers who made it all the way to an online shopping cart — but not those who actually bought anything.

But insurance officials “at four of the big national plans tell POLITICO that about 15 to 20 percent of people who have signed up have not yet paid their first monthly premium — the final step to get coverage,” according to Thursday’s report. “And they’ve told the White House the same.”

It’s obvious that Obama Administration officials tasked with enacting whichever parts of the law the President feels like enacting are being forced, by election-season political expediency, to conceal the fact they’re having to hold their noses even as they carry out the President’s dirty work of rolling out the government-managed insurance scheme.

Despite her ostensible cluelessness about how many people have truly enrolled, Sebelius nonetheless was armed with sufficient data Wednesday to predict an increase in Obamacare premiums for 2015.

That, of course, comes as belated news to anyone who heard candidate Obama’s repeated, repeated, repeated pledge to drop premiums “by up to $2,500 per family, per year” in the run-up to the 2008 Presidential election.

Another City Scamming People With Red Light Ticketing Cameras

Placing traffic cameras to catch speeders or red light runners in the act, a go-to strategy for lazily lining the coffers of municipal governments, is already controversial enough. But one Florida city has figured out a way to virtually guarantee a steady income stream, while it’s still legal, from its red light (s)cam: set the camera up in front of a hospital emergency room.

Florida Watchdog.org relates the story of Jacob Alcahe, a Miami-area man who drove himself to University Hospital in Tamarac because he was having chest pains. Believing he might be having a heart attack, fully stopping at the red light directly in front of the ER obviously wasn’t the first thing on his mind last October:

With the emergency room in sight, he stopped at the traffic light at the intersection of University Drive and 72th Street and waited anxiously for the light to turn green. After several minutes, he decided he’d waited long enough.

“I was desperate to get to the hospital because I felt very nervous,” Alcahe said.

Fortunately for him, the episode wasn’t life threatening. Alcahe was prescribed some medicine and was told to go home and rest.

The real heart stopper came a few days later when he received a fine of $158 for running the light.

“I went to court trying to show the judge medical records. I explained that it wasn’t intentional, but it was a medical emergency,” Alcahe said.

But he was told his medical emergency wasn’t a “sufficient excuse” and was charged an additional $125 for the judge’s time.

In total, his rush for help cost him $283.

“I expected at least a fair (trial), but I think the camera is put there intentionally to capture violations of the people who actually have a medical emergency,” he said. “It’s a scam to get the city more money. It’s unfortunate because local authorities should be for us and seem to be against us. I don’t understand and don’t think it’s fair.”

Other States have seen recent legislative action to block cities’ reliance on traffic cameras to ticket motorists, even as the private contracting companies that equip the cameras and manage the ticketing system (and legally reap a share of each mailed fine) have come under increasing scrutiny.

Two Republican State Legislators are moving to add Florida to that list: according to Watchdog.org, Florida Senator Jeff Brandes and Representative Frank Artiles have introduced legislation that aims to prohibit cities from installing new traffic light cameras Statewide – even though it would grandfather existing cameras installed before July 1 of this year.

 

Harry Reid Has All The Democrats Bashing The Koch Brothers – Even The Ones Accepting Their Money

While you may be weary of seeing the Koch brothers’ political influence called out at every turn, get ready to see a lot more of it before the year’s out.

Castigating the Koch brothers for their political action committee spending has evidently become a key Democratic Party red herring for the 2014 Congressional midterm election season, despite the Kochs’ relatively low ranking among a union-dominated list of top political donors that heavily – very heavily – favors Democrats.

And what’s fashionable doesn’t necessarily have to be right. Undoubtedly taking cues from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who is becoming increasingly fixated on blaming the Koch brothers for everything he can think of, Democrats are even beginning to criticize the wealthy oil magnates for donating to Republicans in instances in which they have, in fact, supported Democrats.

Take embattled Louisiana Senator Mary Landrieu, a Democrat who’s facing an uphill climb to hang on to her seat this year. The Democratic Senate Majority PAC has begun slamming one of Landrieu’s Republicans challengers, Bill Cassidy, for his alleged connections with the Koch brothers.

The only problem? Koch Industries has been one of Landrieu’s biggest donors throughout her Senate career, and a Koch-funded PAC has supported her in previous election cycles. From The Washington Free Beacon Thursday:

…Sen. Landrieu has received $27,000 in campaign contributions since 2000 from Koch Industries and its subsidiaries and employees, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.

Koch’s political action committee has given Landrieu’s another $35,000, including $15,000 during the current election cycle, making the company one of her PAC’s top 20 donors.

While the company or its employees have not donated to Landrieu in this cycle, they have donated to the Louisiana Democrat in every other election cycle since 2000—even when she was not actually facing reelection.

Landrieu’s campaign isn’t the only example. Her colleague, Democrat Mark Pryor of Arkansas, has also taken public swings at the Koch brothers, even though his campaign accepted $5,000 from their political action committee late last year. “Pryor’s PAC took a total of $25,000 from the company,” notes the Beacon.