Wednesday, 30 April 2008

VOTER ID'S & NEW YORK TIMES RIDICULOSITY

Ken Berwitz

Yesterday the New York Times may have set the all-time record for ridiculosity.

Ridiculosity is a neologism - that is, a non-word that you would understand the meaning of anyway.  It is the state of being thoroughly ridiculous.

The Times' lead editorial yesterday concerned the 6-3 U.S. Supreme Court decision which appears to affirm that it is legal for states to require that voters identify themselves before casting ballots.  That sounds pretty reasonable, doesn't it? 

Well, not to the editorial staff at the New York Times.

Here is their position on the Supreme Court ruling:

April 29, 2008
 
Editorial

The Court Fumbles on Voting Rights

Democracy was the big loser in the Supreme Court on Monday. The court upheld Indianas voter identification law, which solves a nearly nonexistent problem by putting major barriers between voters particularly minorities and the ballot box. Worse, the court set out a standard that clears the way for other states to adopt rules that discourage disadvantaged groups from voting. It is a sad reversal for a court that once saw itself as a champion of voting rights.

In 2005, Indiana passed one of the nations toughest voter ID laws. It requires voters to present government-issued photo ID at the polls. Private college IDs, employee ID cards and utility bills are unacceptable. For people without a drivers license who are disproportionately poor and minority the burden is considerable. To get acceptable ID, many people would be forced to pay fees for underlying documents, such as birth certificates.

This should not have been a hard case. The court has long recognized that the right to vote is so fundamental that a state cannot restrict it unless it can show that the harm it is seeking to prevent outweighs the harm it imposes on voters.

The Indiana law does not meet this test. The harm it imposes on voters, some of whom will no doubt be discouraged from casting ballots, is considerable. The states interest in the law, on the other hand, is minimal. It was supposedly passed to prevent people from impersonating others at the polls, but there is no evidence that this has ever happened in Indiana. It seems far more likely that the goal of the laws Republican sponsors was to disenfranchise groups that lean Democratic.

Unfortunately, only three justices voted to hold the law unconstitutional. The other six fell into two groups. Three Justices John Paul Stevens and Anthony Kennedy and Chief Justice John Roberts signed a lead opinion that set a disturbingly low bar for what sort of interference with voting the Constitution permits. A second opinion, signed by Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito, was worse. It argued for upholding all but the most severe and unjustified burdens on voting. Richard Hasen, a Loyola Law School professor, notes that if the court had taken this opinions approach in 1966, it is not clear it would have overturned the poll tax.

Hovering over Mondays decision was a case that was not mentioned: Bush v. Gore. In 2000, the Supreme Court took seriously the claims of one individual George W. Bush that his equal protection rights were being denied by a state election system, and the court had no hestitation about telling the state what to do.

On 60 Minutes on Sunday, Justice Scalia yet again told the public to get over that ruling. There are many good reasons to remember Bush v. Gore, and Mondays ruling was a reminder of one of them. Seven years after it invoked the Constitution to vindicate what it saw as Mr. Bushs right to fair election procedures, we are still waiting for the court to extend this guarantee with equal vigilance to every American.

If you're into ridiculosity, baby, there is a boatload of it for you.

Let's try to follow what is supposed to pass as logic in Timesville:

-It is undemocratic to require that people who want to vote must identify themselves.  How's that for a start?

-The problem is virtually nonexistent. Well, if most states do not check voter ID, how exactly would the Times or anyone else know how extensive the problem is?

-It puts a major barrier between minorities and the ballot.  How?  What barrier does it place in the way of any minority person who is legally able to vote, besides none at all?

-Same thing for "disadvantaged groups", whatever that means.  How?  If a person is destitute, but legally able to vote, how does being ID'ed before going into the voting booth prevent that person from doing so?

-The ruling diminishes voting rights.  For WHO, other than people who can't legally vote in the first place?

And that, folks is just from the FIRST PARAGRAPH!!!!

You can pick out the numerous other ridiculosities yourself...including the breathtakingly non-sequiturish reference to Bush/Gore 2000 at the end.

Look, I don't claim to be able to know the Times' motives for sure.  That said, it is hard not to see this as a plaintive cry for a system in which illegals are able to ignore our laws and vote in elections.

But regardless of the Times' motives, one thing seems certain:  this is Ridiculosity at its peak.


IRAN BECOMES NUCLEAR, AS THE WORLD SITS AND WATCHES

Ken Berwitz

Here is the latest news of Iran's progress towards nuclear weaponry. 

That's right.  Nuclear weaponry.  The weaponry we're supposed to pretend that Iran won't have for umpteen years. 

Read it and worry, because you should:

Mofaz: Iran could go nuclear in a year

Iran has taken command of its nuclear technology and could have an atomic bomb in a year, Transportation Minister Shaul Mofaz was quoted as saying Wednesday, citing Israeli intelligence.

According to Channel 10, Mofaz made the comments during talks with US officials in Washington where he leading an Israeli delegation holding meetings within the framework of the Israel-US Strategic Dialogue.

In the past, the general consensus in the intelligence community has been that Iran had hit some technical difficulties with enrichment and that its attainment of nuclear capability was much further off.

Late Sunday night, as Mofaz headed to Washington, he said that Iran must be prevented from attaining nuclear weapons and that all the options were on the table in order to stop that from happening.

"Teheran leads the axis of evil, poses a threat to the entire world, is up to its neck in the Middle East and is even trying to get a foothold in the West Bank," he said.

Meanwhile, as a second US aircraft carrier steamed into the Persian Gulf, CBS reported Tuesday that the Pentagon had ordered military commanders to develop new options for attacking Iran.

According to the report, the planning was being driven by what one officer called the "increasingly hostile role" Iran is playing in Iraq - smuggling weapons into Iraq for use against American troops.

Targets would include everything from the plants where weapons are made to the headquarters of the organization known as the Quds Force which directs operations in Iraq, CBS reported.

Iran, you may recall, is the country headed by a fundamentalist lunatic (ahmadinejad) who believes in the 12th Imam.  This is the Imam who only comes when the entire world is immersed in total chaos, which ahmadinejad could create with a nuclear capability. 

ahmadinejad is also the one who has been telling us for years that he will wipe out Israel -- which presumably will be his first (but maybe not only) target with the nuclear capability he is being allowed to develop.

What happens if Iran gets anywhere near that point?  Do you think Israel will sit around the way the UN does and wait to be incinerated?  Israel will attack the nuclear capability as a matter of survival.

Then what happens?  What countries with what current nuclear capabilities are likely to get into the fray.

But the world sits and watches.  "Let the UN do it's work" is the name of the game. 

And, of course, the UN is working dilligently.  It is dilligently keeping the fine restaurants of Manhattan filled with expense-account patrons.

This is nuts.


SORRY SORRY SORRY

Ken Berwitz

To the readers of this blog:  All day, at least until about 15-20 minutes ago this URL was down.  The web host says it was some kind of glitch in his system (his company's system that is, not his personally).

Sorry for the lack of availability.

free you are forgiven. :) (04/30/08)


REACTIONS TO OBAMA'S DENUNCIATION OF WRIGHT

Ken Berwitz

It didn't take a genius to figure out that there would be a huge number of commentaries this morning on Barack Obama's denunciation of jeremiah wright. 

Some of them are thoughtful and intelligent, like Maureen Dowd's column in today's New York Times (I don't often get a chance to say this about Ms. Dowd). 

Some are ridiculous, like the lead editorial in that same New York Times, which desperately tries to "save" Obama by equating the significance of his relationship with wright to John McCain's relationship with James Hagee - a blowhard dirtbag televangelist in my opinion, but one who means nothing to McCain other than an endorsement.  McCain does not belong to Hagee's church, nor did Hagee marry him or baptize his children, nor did McCain place Hagee on his campaign staff.

But the gold ribbon for embarrassingly prejudiced and stupid commentary has to go to Mary Mitchell of the Chicago Sun-Times.  It would take a blog about the size of the Oxford Dictionary to detail everything that is wrong with Ms. Marin's "analysis", which is shown below:

Obama opens a can of worms

THE BLACK CHURCH | On the verge of making history, Obama opens a can of worms

April 30, 2008

 

Well, it is likely that Sen. Barack Obama won't be going back to Trinity United Church of Christ.

Not after this.

"When he states and then amplifies such ridiculous proposition as the U.S. government somehow being involved in AIDS, when he suggests that Minister Farrakhan somehow represents one of the greatest voices in the 20th and 21st century, when he equates the United States wartime effort with terrorism, then there are no excuses," Obama said during a press conference.

"They offend me. They rightfully offend all Americans and they should be denounced," Obama said.

This is a sad day for Black America.

At a time when African Americans are on the cusp of watching a barrier come crashing down, up jumps a divisive issue that is being driven by those outside of the black community.

Obviously, Wright's timing for a press conference about his sermons couldn't have been worse.

Still, when Obama says he is "offended" by Wright's latest comments -- given in defense against an orchestrated assault on his character and on his ministry -- he's opening up a can of worms.

There is no institution in the black community more respected than the black church. And the notion that white pundits can dictate what constitutes unacceptable speech in the black church is repulsive to most black people.

Even so, after Wright's fiery speeches surfaced on the Internet, most African Americans understood why Obama had to distance himself from Wright.

Obama's cross-cultural appeal, which, by the way, made some blacks suspicious of him early in his campaign, is largely because of his ability to make white people feel comfortable with his blackness.

But Wright speaks to a different audience, and that audience has been supportive throughout his ordeal.

On Monday, for instance, when Wright spoke at the National Press Club, the predominantly black crowd cheered, clapped and punctuated Wright's speech with shouts of "amen."

So, when Obama says America was "offended" by Wright's harsh language, he isn't speaking for or to Black America. He is speaking to White America.

As much as I want to see Obama make history by becoming the first black man to be elected president, I don't want to see a warrior like Wright denigrated to prove to white voters that Obama is not a radical.

When Obama denounced Wright's angry words but refused to disown him, it signaled that he understood the sensitive tightrope he is being forced to walk.

His "outrage" over Wright's latest remarks signals something quite different. With the gap narrowing, Obama advisers are obviously scrambling for every white vote.

But really, what more should blacks have to sacrifice? Their dignity?

Frankly, Obama and Wright risk becoming metaphors for the ongoing struggle of blacks to unite politically.

Obama shouldn't have held a press conference to deal with Wright.

He should have been able to pick up the phone.

I feel like a flea in a dog pound.  There's so much wrong here that I don't even know where to begin:

-Obama opened a can of worms?  OBAMA?  Was it wright or Obama ranting out the hatred and the baseless accusations?

Obama wasn't the guy making these statements.  Obama was the guy getting his butt handed to him because he was associated with wright. 

The worst thing Ms. Mitchell has to say about wright's deranged howling at the moon is that it was "ill-timed". 

-Then she calls it "a sad day for Black America":  not because jeremiah wright is such a supersedingly embarrassing example of what not to be, but because Barack Obama - albeit belatedly and for political purposes - said that he was.  Ms. Mitchell is not at all embarrassed by wright, only by Obama;

-Then Ms. Mitchell tells us that the Black church is the most respected institution in the Black community, and Obama is letting White pundits dictate what it can and can't say. 

First of all, there is no one monolithic Black church.  There are thousands of Black pastors and - guess what, Ms. Mitchell - they don't all think the same way and don't all preach the same way.  There just might even be one or two here and there who think jeremiah wright is as bad as Barack Obama made him out to be yesterday. 

Secondly, the person denouncing wright was Barack Obama, not one of those White people you seem to have such disdain for;

-Because a predominantly Black crowd showed up to hear wright's rants and was supportive of him does NOT mean that Blacks, as a group feel the same way.  Nor does it mean that Obama's comments about wright were nothing more than sucking up to White people. 

I could go on, but what's the point?  This woman's head is so far in the sand that she's lucky her hair hasn't been singed by lava from the core of the earth.

Barack Obama's problem was the epitome of choosing between a rock and a hard place:  

-If he didn't drop wright like a hot potato, he would be irreparably damaged every time wright opened that big mouth of his. 

-If he did drop wright like a hot potato, he alienated the (not insignificant number of ) Blacks  - and left wing Whites - who consider any bad word about the jeremiah wrights of the world an  unforgivable kiss-up to White America.

Granted, Obama brought this on himself through his long. close, even loving association with jeremiah wright.  But that was in the past.  This is the situation he is faced with now. 

It will be more than a little interesting to see how Obama's disassociation from wright plays out among voters. Indiana and North Carolina, particularly North Carolina, may give us a good indication. 

If Black voters do not support Mr. Obama in North Carolina the way they have supported him in other states, it could mean that he has damaged his standing with them. 

That would be terrible news for Obama.....and great news for Hillary Clinton.


ENERGY: COSTS AND POLICIES

Ken Berwitz

J. B. Williams of www.canadafreepress.com has written an angry column about the USA's dependency on foreign energy. 

While I am not in agreement with everything Mr. Williams talks about, I share his exasperation regarding a) the fact that we do not exploit our vast domestic energy resources and b) the reasons we do not do so.

I have posted almost all of Mr. Williams' piece below.  See how much of it you agree with:

Cost of Energy

When Gasoline Reaches $5.00 per Gallon Thank Liberals!

 By JB Williams  Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Financial Times reports OPEC says oil could hit $200, up from the record $120 a barrel today. If and when that happens, predicted to be this summer, the $3.50 to $4.00 prices you see at the pumps today will top $5.00 per gallon and you can thank liberal environmentalists for that!

When Bill Clinton took office in January 1993, the average retail price of gasoline was $1.06 per gallon. By the time Clinton ran for re-election in 1996, that average per gallon price had become $1.25 per gallon, a 17.9% increase in less than four years.
 
By the time George W. Bush took office in January 2001, the price of a gallon of gas had become $1.45 a 36.8% increase in gasoline prices during the first Clinton era. Yet Hillary Clinton says she can solve this problem and I hope she can, but lets consider the facts. 


 
2001-2006


During the first six Bush years, gasoline prices rose to $2.22 per gallon, a 53.1% increase over six years, during which time the flow of Iraqi oil had stopped after 9/11. Hillary Clinton was a leading US Senator. Can we find any of her senate initiatives to increase domestic exploration, production or refining, which would result in lower prices at the pumps and reduce Americas dependence on foreign crude?
 

2006-Present


Americans blamed Bush and elected Democrats to turn the tide and from January 2006 to March 2008, the price of gas shot up to $3.25 per gallon, a price now dwarfed by the $3.49 per gallon a month later, in April 2008.
 
In the 14 months since Democrats took control of congress, the price of gasoline has shot up a whopping $1.26 per gallon, marking a record 56.8% increase in just 14 months. So much for turning that rising tide
 

Liberal Ideas at Work in the European Union


Democrats have no original thoughts of their own, so they simply adopt the liberal ideas of their friends over in the European Union. However, the European Union is the one place on earth in worse shape than America in terms of energy. 

European Gas Prices Today:Netherlands                                       $8.95Germany                                             $8.63$6.32
France $8.34
United Kingdom $8.18
Denmark $8.14
Finland $7.98
Belgium $7.64
Sweden $7.42
Italy $7.30
Romania


If we want what they have, we simply need to follow their lead and institute the same insane levels of government regulation and taxation that these countries have. Thats exactly the prescription being offered by American leftists who are far better aligned with EU thinking than American ideals.  

Exploration, Production and Refining

 A steady flow of production is required to meet a rising demand for energy. At present, the United States consumes a reported 25.9% of the worlds oil production. But we only produce 10.7% of the worlds oil supply. As a result, we are dependent upon foreign energy productivity, consuming approximately twice the oil we are allowed by law to produce and therefore importing the energy we need to keep the lights on.
 
Environmentalists have all but shut down domestic oil exploration and production for almost 40 years now. They have also outlawed the expansion of refining capacity for the same period, ever since Jimmy Carter was president.
 
Our refineries are running at 98% capacity at all times. Even if we could buy crude at a lower rate, we do not have the refining capacity to meet demand for refined products and deliver a cheaper retail prices at the pumps.
 
Despite cutting off Americas ability to explore, produce and refine oil products for 40 years, our current $3.49 price per gallon is still well below that of any member of the European Union. But it wont be for much longer because the liberal
environmentalist energy policies of the last 40 years are coming home to roost. 
 
Alternative Energy?


With old elitist arrogance, but an entirely new level of hypocrisy, the answer to the following question really sets the stage for why America is energy dependent as a result of its own gross ignorance
 
The QUESTION: Guess which house belongs to the Nobel Prize winning global leader of the secular socialist environmental whacko movement?
 
HOUSE # 1:
A 20-room mansion (not including 8 bathrooms) heated by natural gas.  Add on a pool (and a pool house) and a separate guest house all heated by gas. In ONE MONTH ALONE this mansion consumes more energy than the average American household in an ENTIRE YEAR. The average bill for electricity and natural gas runs over $2,400.00 per month. In natural
gas alone (which last time we checked was a fossil fuel), this property consumes more than 20 times the national average for an American home.  This house is not in a northern or Midwestern snow belt, either. Its in the South.



HOUSE # 2:
Designed by an architecture professor at a leading national university, this house incorporates every green feature current home construction can provide. The house contains only 4,000 square feet (4 bedrooms) and is nestled on arid high prairie in the American southwest. A central
closet in the house holds geothermal heat pumps drawing ground water through pipes sunk 300 feet into the ground. The water (usually 67 degrees F.) heats the house in winter and cools it in summer. The system uses no fossil fuels such as oil or natural gas, and it consumes 25% of the electricity required for a conventional heating/cooling system. Rainwater from the roof is collected and funneled into a 25,000 gallon underground cistern. Wastewater from showers, sinks and toilets goes into underground purifying tanks and then into the cistern. The collected water then irrigates the land surrounding the house. Flowers and shrubs native to the area blend the property into the surrounding rural landscape.


HOUSE # 1 - (20 room energy guzzling mansion) is outside of Nashville, Tennessee. It is the abode of that renowned environmentalist (and filmmaker) Al Gore.


HOUSE # 2 - (model
eco-friendly house) is on a ranch near Crawford, Texas. Also known as the Texas White House, it is the private residence of the President of the United States, George W. Bush.
 

Wackos in the Hen House!


Guess who doesnt like wind energy because birds fly into the windmills and die?
 
Guess who doesnt like ethanol because its burning food supplies while the world is headed towards a food crisis resulting from high energy costs?
 
Guess who doesnt like hydro-energy because it disturbs the fish and frogs?
 
Guess who doesnt like the cleanest, cheapest energy known to mankind, nuclear energy, because its dangerous, which can be said of all energy sources?
 
Right! - The exact same wackos who have spent the last 40 years blocking U.S. oil exploration, production and refining, forcing America to its knees and leaving the nation completely dependent upon foreign energy sources
 
Now, - guess who America is dependent upon for the energy needs it cannot fill on its own? 
 
He with the Gold Makes the Rules!

 Meet the top ten oil producers in the world (excluding #2 America)
 
Saudi Arabia
Russia
Iran
Mexico
Norway
China
European Union
Venezuela
Canada
United Arab Emirates
 
These are the nations with the power to hold America hostage over an oil barrel. And you ask why we play ball with such anti-American regimes Because we have to! 
 

Blame the rich and greedy Oil Companies?

 According to leftist press reports stumping for liberal political campaigns, yes. Its the rich and greedy oil companies who are responsible for these prices and they are getting even richer on the backs of poor Americans who will soon be riding their bicycles to work!
 
BP and Shell just reported a combined $17 Billion in 1st Quarter profits. It must be their fault!
 
Of course, no liberal member of the press was reporting the billions in losses oil companies were reporting a couple years ago. Over extended operating periods, it takes a lot of profits to cover up the red ink of the past and invest in the future.
 
But most importantly, the left does NOT want you to know how the price of every gallon of gas breaks down But Ill tell you!
 
Based upon our current $3.49 per gallon national average
 
68% or $2.37 per gallon belongs to the crude producing company (most of them foreign)
13% or $.45 per gallon goes to TAXES
11% or $.38 per gallon pays for the cost of distribution and delivery
8% or $.28 per gallon pays the cost of refining (for those greedy U.S. oil companies)
 
Now, since gasoline is usually a loss leader for the retailer that prays you will walk into their market and buy something at a profit while your gas tank is filling, and the vast majority of oil consumed in this nation is not produced in this nation, American oil companies make most of their earnings from refining.
 
$.28 cents per gallon is not how much they make refining. It represents the TOTAL attributed to the cost of refining, which means, their billions in profits are only a portion of that $.28 per gallon.
 
Since U.S. oil companies, which are owned by U.S. citizens hoping to
retire via their 401k and stock investments someday, are taking the smallest cut from the price of a gallon of gasoline, how in the world can it be their fault that the price of gasoline is higher than we like?
 
If they charged nothing at all for refining and therefore, went out of business by making nothing at all, it would only reduce the price at the pump by $.28 per gallon, at least until we ran out of refined product altogether. 
 
The ONLY Solution

 Balance domestic supply with domestic demand. Explore, produce and refine more domestically while lifting the wacko environmentalist blocks against all other alternative energy sources and encouraging investment in all the above.
 
Talk to your neighborhood environmental wacko about that soon, would ya!
 
Meanwhile, Barack Obama says eliminating the $.45 per gallon in taxes wont help you. Send this freshman to Europe to study the problem more closely!
 
 

Now that's angry.  But does Mr. Williams make valid points? And, if so, how do they impact on our energy crisis? 

Think about it.


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