Monday, 18 February 2008

MICHELLE OBAMA AND PRIDE

Ken Berwitz

For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country, because it feels like hope is making a comeback.

That is a quote from Michelle Obama, today, at a rally in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Michelle Obama was born in 1964, which makes her 44 this year.  If you take what she said at face value, nothing the United States has done in the past 23 or 26 years (depending on whether you define adulthood as 18 or 21 years old) has made her proud.

Not feeding the poor, not pumping billions of dollars into Africa to combat AIDS, not being a beacon of light to the rest of the world as its most successful democracy. 

If Ms Obama has found nothing to be proud of about the United States for most of her life, I for one would love to know what places she has been proud of.  What countries she thinks have been so superior to her own.

I would love to know just how and why she is ashamed to be a citizen of the USA.

If John McCain's wife ever said this there would be a firestorm beyond your wildest imagination.  Let's see how the mainstream media treat Ms. Obama's comment tomorrow.


IRAN'S "FREE" ELECTIONS

Ken Berwitz

In the next couple of weeks you are likely to hear about Iran having free, multi-party elections.  Since that's exactly what the USA has this might suggest that, whatever else is objectionable about Iran, at least the people get to decide who they want in power.

But it won't be true.  Not even close.

Here, courtesy of www.bloomberg.com, is a quick reality check:

Iran's Reformists to Enter Elections With Key Candidates Barred
By Ladane Nasseri

Feb. 17 (Bloomberg) -- Iran's Reformists' Coalition is to take part in the March 14 parliamentary elections with fewer than 10 percent of its contenders and with most of its renowned candidates barred from running.

As many as 67 individuals may be cleared to enter the race out of the 909 applicants linked to the coalition who registered initially, Abdollah Nasseri, the spokesman for the Reformists' Coalition, said in a telephone interview from Tehran today.

``Most of our prominent candidates have been disqualified,'' said the spokesman for the group, which is inspired by former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami. ``We are hoping to run for some 67 out of the 290 seats'' in the parliamentary race.

Iran's Interior Ministry, which screened the applications of 7,168 Iranians, disqualified about 2,000 of them last month, citing reasons such as a lack of allegiance to the Islamic Republic's regime.

The country's Council of Guardians reinstated 280 individuals followed by another 300 last week, according to a report yesterday by the official Islamic Republic News Agency. The Council, which has a veto power, may approve more individuals as it reviews appeals through Feb. 22.

The final list of candidates will be made public in the first week of March, leaving a week for the campaigning.

As you can see, the only way for candidates to legally run for office in Iran is if the people ALREADY in office allow them to.  Does that sound like a free, multi-party election to you?

Conceptually this reminds me of another country that some people mistakenly think has free elections;  Egypt. 

In Egypt there are opposition parties and they are able to run their candidates in elections.  However Egypt's head of state, Hosni Mubarak, has the legal right to dissolve any political party at will.  So there will be free multi-party elections just like the USA -- until one of them poses any threat to Mubarak, at which time he can summarily make it disappear.

When you see the inevitable broadcast and print stories about Iran's so-called competitive elections next month, it will be good to keep this in mind....especially since there is no guarantee our wonderful media will mention it to you.

An ignorant electorate is an owned electorate.  Never ever let this describe you.


A GOOD TROUBLEMAKER

Ken Berwitz

David Horowitz is my idea of a good troublemaker.  That is, he makes trouble for hypocrites who talk out of both sides of their mouths and embarrasses them into putting up or shutting up.  College campuses - which can be hotbeds of doctrinaire leftism - are a special target for Mr. Horowitz. 

Here, courtesy of www.powerlineblog.com, is his latest initiative:

A Declaration Against Genocide and a test for campus organizations

The David Horowitz Freedom Center has announced that it will distribute a Declaration Against Genocide and ask individuals and groups, particularly those on American college campuses, to sign it. The Declaration calls on campus groups to affirm the freedom of the individual conscience and the right to change religions or have no religion at all; the equal dignity of men and women; and the right of all people to live free from violence, intimidation and coercion.

In addition, the Declaration condemns the genocidal passage in the Islamic Hadith which reads: The prophet, prayer and peace be upon him, said: The time [of judgment] will not come until Muslims will fight the Jews and kill them; until the Jews hide behind rocks and trees, which will cry: O Muslim! There is a Jew hiding behind me, come on and kill him! It also condemns the Hamas Charter which says: "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." It further comdemns this statement by Iranian dictator Mahmoud Ahmadinejad -- "The accomplishment of a world without America and Israel is both possible and feasible" -- and this one by Hezbollahs leader Hassan Nasrallah -- If the Jews all gather in Israel, it will save us the trouble of going after them worldwide."

Among the campus groups that will be asked to condemn these statements is the Muslim Students Association.

David Horowitz explains that one of his goals is "to test universities claims that they support religious and ethnic tolerance, and to challenge the campus left, which consistently overlooks statements by Islamic radicals which are nothing less than an invitation to mass murder. The Declaration provides a good test.

This would seem to be a no-brainer, wouldnt it?  A simple declaration that people should be free to peacefully exercise their own beliefs, both secular and religious.  What could be more reasonable than that?

Well, on many college campuses the answer is that this kind of basic tolerance is not only in short supply, but the opposite may be encouraged by some student groups and even the faculties.

Read Mr. Horowitz' declaration again.  And think about what people who would refuse to sign it are saying about themselves. 

Then you can wish, along with me, that the people who find this kind of declaration unacceptable would do a little thinking too.


GUEST EDITORIAL: NEW YORK POST ON THE TROOP SURGE

Ken Berwitz

The New York Post published an excellent editorial on the Iraq troop surge and the insistent, almost desperate, effort of Democrats - against all reality - to classify it as a failure. 

Here is the editorial.  See what you think:

THE SURGE -- AND A PAUSE

February 17, 2008 -- Defense Secretary Robert Gates this week brought some welcome clarity to America's oft-politicized understanding of what, precisely, the troop surge in Iraq has accomplished.

His answer, in effect: We don't know yet.

Thus, Gates on Monday backed Gen. David Petraeus' plan to pause the draw-down of US forces in Iraq this summer, leaving around 130,000 troops in the country while security gains, it is hoped, jell.

Those gains, of course, have been indisputable: Al Qaeda in Iraq is a shell of its former self, having been completely run out of Baghdad. Thanks to the continued US presence afforded by the surge, more and more Baghdad neighborhoods and villages throughout central Iraq have returned to normalcy.

This, in turn, has brought renewed hope for some political reconciliation between Sunnis and Shias - though not as quickly as some in Congress have demanded. Indeed, Thursday brought word of a rare accord in Iraq's parliament on a host of contentious issues, from the 2008 federal budget to the extent of provincial authority.

American casualties, meanwhile, have held steady for more than four months - at their lowest levels since the war began.

But it remains to be seen how lasting these gains really are - and what might become of them.

The plain fact is that wars are full of surprises - especially in a political landscape as complex as Iraq's. Recently commenced efforts to drive al Qaeda from its last remaining stronghold in Mosul might get tricky, for instance.

Or violence could flare up again in the Shia-dominated south, where the militias linked to firebrand anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr have been keeping a low profile.

Or any number of tensions could boil to the surface in provincial elections now set for October - tensions a down-but-not-out al Qaeda would love to exploit.

Is it any wonder, then, that Gates and Petraeus want to make sure they have the resources to face whatever's next? Otherwise, the stability US troops have fought so hard to establish could evaporate very quickly.

Contrast their prudence with the reckless promises of rapid drawdown hawked by Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama - who were predictably up in arms over Gates' announcement.

"This means that we will have as many troops in Iraq in the summer of 2008 as we had at the beginning of 2007," Clinton fulminated.

As if wars can be won on schedule.

Of course, they can always be lost on schedule - a prospect that neither Democrat seems to want to talk about.

Indeed, it's one of the great ironies of the campaign that the very success of the surge - which many Dems continue to label a failure - has enabled Clinton and Obama to ignore the still-disastrous consequences of any premature withdrawal.

Fortunately, Gates and Petraeus aren't taking the bait.

I understand that in politics winning is everything.  But it isn't the only thing. Losing a war to win a political battle is beyond the pale. 

Yet both Democratic candidates, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, seem perfectly willing to throw our effort in Iraq over the cliff even as it shows dramatic success.  Why?  To ingratiate themselves with the LAMB left, that's why.

It's like watching a replay of the old segregated South, where the winning candidate would be the one who out-segged the other by being even more vile in his/her racism against Blacks. 

What a disgrace.  And what a disaster for our country if either of these two actually mean what they say and win the election.


PAUL GONE FROM CONGRESS?

Ken Berwitz

As ron paul continues his quixotic (quicksandic is more like it) run for the Republican nomination, an interesting thing is happening in his congressional district.  A young man half his age, 36 year old Chris Peden, is challenging him in the March 4 primary -- and may win.  You can read the entire story by clicking here, but the key excerpts are below:

GOP primary only race in House District 14

When incumbent Congressman and presidential candidate Ron Paul faces Chris Peden in the Republican primary March 4, the winner likely will be the districts next congressman. And it might not be Paul.

Early voting in the contest opens Tuesday.

Peden, 36, is challenging Paul for the seat in the 14th Congressional District, which runs down the Gulf Coast almost from Port Arthur to Port Aransas. It doesnt include Houston or a chunk of Galveston County.

With no Democrat in the race, the winner of the Republican primary is exceedingly likely to be the districts next congressman.

Peden is a certified public accountant and a member of the Friendswood City Council. He said he entered the primary after Paul announced his candidacy for president.

Local elected officials Democrats and Republicans praised Pauls staff, saying it was responsive whenever they needed anything. But they said they saw or spoke to him rarely, if at all.

Indeed, in an interview last week, Paul seemed unfamiliar with federal issues unique to Galveston County.

U.S. District Judge Samuel B. Kent...has been a major issue in Pauls district. The judge was reprimanded and suspended for four months starting in September after an employee in May accused him of touching her in ways she didnt want. Kent denies the allegation. Under pressure from the National Organization for Women, the House Judiciary Committee said it wouldnt consider impeaching Kent until a criminal investigation by the FBI was complete. That probe continues into sexual harassment and other accusations that have been leveled against the judge.

The story has gotten extensive press coverage in the Galveston-Houston area and across Texas, and members of Congress in and out of Texas have made public statements about it. Pauls staff has been asked about the matter and the congressman has an office in the courthouse where Kent worked and the sexual misconduct was alleged to have taken place.

Even so, Paul hadnt heard of Kent.

This is a federal judge, you say? he asked when told about the matter.

Paul was asked whether his ignorance of the issue indicated he hadnt been paying enough attention to his district.

If somebody would have been writing me or calling me or asking me to do something, I would be familiar, but we have not had that kind of concern expressed by our constituents, he said.

For his part, Peden spoke publicly early on in the Kent affair. Last week, he said he didnt know if the allegations against the judge were true, but he said they were serious and the matters handling pointed to the need for Congress to reform the way federal judges are disciplined.

Economic Development

As for his other priorities, Peden said the 14th District likely had more coastline and more ports than any other congressional district in the country. He said he would work for more federal funding for shoreline protection, beach reconstruction and to develop the ports. In addition, Peden said he wanted to aid proposed nuclear-power projects, the petrochemical industry and rice production in the district.

Those interests have gone neglected, he said.

The 14th District drives the economy of Texas, yet its congressman is largely ignored by both sides of the aisle, he said.

Paul said he wouldnt run for president as an independent but would stay in Congress as long as his constituents put him there.

If they believe in freedom, limited government, low taxes, a sensible foreign policy, sound money and somebody who truly believes in the Constitution, I expect that they would be very interested in voting for me, he said
.

So what do we have here?  We have an old, obstinate congressman with positions that are scintillating to the anti-war and anti-tax and states' rights crowds, not to mention the nazis and White supremacists who are attracted to him like mosquitos to a swamp.  But one who has not paid much attention to the constituents who elected him.

And we have a young, fresh opponent whose concept of being a congressperson is that he should know, and work on behalf of, the issues in his district.

Let ron paul continue tilting at windmills while Chris Peden continues addressing the needs of the people paul was elected to represent, and the 14th district just may get a congressman they'll like a lot better.

As for paul?  Maybe there's an opening on the executive board over at stormfront.org.  Since they love him over there, it could work out quite well.


IRAN'S THREAT AGAINST ISRAEL

Ken Berwitz

I'll make this one short and sweet. 

Both of the items you see below are in today's news:

-"The cancerous growth Israel will soon disappear":  Iranian head of state ahmadinejad to hezbollah terrorist leader nasrallah

Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Sunday that God would punish Iranians if they do not support the country's disputed nuclear program, state radio reported.

Can anyone in his or her right mind blame Israel for doing something about Iran's nuclear capability?

Can anyone in his or her right mind understand why the world, which risks nuclear holocaust if there is a war between Israel and Iran, sits on its collective rump and does nothing except mouth a few meaningless words about restraint?

We are genuinely imperiled.  All of us.  Where are our leaders?  Where is the UN?

Business as usual. 

.


YEAH, BUT DOES HE STILL HAVE TO TAKE OUT THE GARBAGE?

Ken Berwitz

Here, courtesy of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, is either a wonderful love story or two people stuck with each other for a record number of years. 

I think you know which it is...and I thought I'd post it to brighten your day:

To have and to hold ... for 83 years and counting

A White Bear Lake couple that marked their 83rd wedding anniversary Sunday may be headed for the Guinness Book of Records.

Last update: February 18, 2008 - 5:49 AM

Clarence, 101, and Mayme Vail, 99, celebrated their 83rd anniversary Sunday, possibly making them the longest married couple alive in the United States.

Married in 1925, they almost didn't make it to their 25th anniversary. When Clarence became critically ill with tuberculosis in 1948, Mayme made a promise to God that if her husband survived, she would attend mass every day -- a promise she kept until last year when health issues forced them to move into an assisted-living center.

"She's got good genes; she used to walk to mass every day," said her daughter, Arlene Leyden of St. Paul, who filled out the 17 pages of paperwork required by the Guinness record-keepers.

There was no shortage of people to attend the Vails' anniversary party. Their family includes six children, 39 grandchildren, 101 great-grandchildren and 40 great-great grandchildren. Mayme Vail's "kid" sister was there, too. She's only 98..


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