Friday, 26 December 2008

WHY ISRAEL NEEDS BENJAMIN NETANYAHU

Ken Berwitz

You do not play cat-and-mouse with people who tell you in so many words that they want your country destroyed and you dead.

Benjamin Netanyahu understands this.  The current "leadership" of Israel does not.  That is why Israel allowed a phony "truce" that, in reality, was nothing other than a time-out to allow hamas to gather arms, and it is why Israel is being assaulted by hamas rockets and artillery right now.

Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff, writing for the (usually left wing and pro-appeasement) Ha'aretz, have the story:

Stewing in their own juices
By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff

It took less than a week for Israel's decision makers to change their minds entirely. Exactly the same people - who last week presented convincing reasons to justify continuing the policy of restraint in the Gaza Strip, and expressed the fear that a large-scale military action would result in an expected imbroglio - have now changed their tune completely. It is doubtful whether even Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni's lightning visit yesterday with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo will lead to a turnabout at this point. Israel is about to retaliate fiercely to Hamas' attacks. The situation will not necessarily develop into an all-out war (at the moment, neither side appears to be interested in that), but the coming days will, so it seems, mark the end to restraint.

There are several factors behind the change in policy. The central one, simply put, is the situation on the ground: Close to 200 Katyushas, Qassam rockets and mortar shells have been fired at the Negev since Hamas said it would not renew the tahadiyeh (lull) that had expired on December 19. The response on the part of the Israel Defense Forces, at least until yesterday around noon, was the epitome of restraint. The communities situated along the border with Gaza view the events of the past few days as a demonstration of terrible weakness on Israel's part, as a final renunciation by the state of the country's southern periphery. And things don't look much better from Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

Nor can the political context be ignored. Until a short while ago, the kibbutzim of the Negev, whose members' homes have been riddled by shrapnel from the (120-mm., Iranian-produced) mortar shells of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, were considered practically the last bastions of support for Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

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And there are also practical considerations. Israeli intelligence assessments say that Hamas is interested in returning to a period of calm, but wishes to do so from a position of power, once it has imposed its conditions on Israel: first and foremost, significant improvements with regard to the opening of the border crossings into the Strip. Israel, say sources in the defense establishment, is likewise in need of a show of strength against Hamas, so it will not be dragged into the next cease-fire as the weak and frightened side in the deterrence equation.

Barak and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi have sounded determined in recent days. There will be a military operation. Its exact timing is a question of suitable operative conditions - that is, better weather and the possibility of achieving a surprise. Barak says he will no longer consent to the "ping-pong" of provocation and response that Hamas seeks to dictate. The next cease-fire must be total and will be undertaken only after the IDF makes its strength felt in the Gaza Strip. Ashkenazi is bitter about the politicians who are vying among themselves with aggressive declarations, and portraying the caution and responsibility shown by the General Staff as cowardice.

Topple Hamas?

The various statements by Israel's ministers reflect a good deal of confusion. Livni and Vice Premier Haim Ramon have spoken on several occasions about the need to topple the Hamas government in Gaza. Barak (and Ashkenazi, too) seems to feel that such a goal is unrealistic now. The main objective for the army is considerably more modest: exacting a significant price from Hamas, to prompt it to agree to return to the framework of the lull. The likely method for achieving this objective is not occupation of the Strip or the pursuit of every Qassam launcher. Close to the start of the operation, the army will make clear publicly that its goal is not complete cessation of the rocket fire, and that the barrages are likely to extend to even more communities as the operation proceeds. The IDF will seek to strike sites that Hamas defines as "assets," until the organization agrees to a renewed calm.

The past two weeks have underscored one problem facing Israel: It is very difficult to prevent the launching of rockets and mortars in wintry weather. Visibility over Gaza is extremely poor in such conditions, making it hard for aircraft to identify their targets. (This problem is also currently being grappled with by those developing the Qassam interception system, which will likely not be ready for at least two more years.) Despite these limitations, it appears that the air force will still have a central role to play in any Israeli offensive. If the escalation continues, it could also develop into a ground operation. The Southern Command currently has at its disposal leading infantry brigades from Golani and the Paratroops.

Still, Israel's leaders claim that they will avoid an all-out offensive, that occupation of Gaza is not an objective, and that Hamas is not interested in a major confrontation, either. But one has to wonder whether anyone has bothered to inform Hamas about this wonderfully rational scenario. The Palestinians have always had this annoying habit of not conforming to the nice plans the defense establishment has laid out for them.

This week, Hamas did appear to be hallucinating, likening itself to its bigger and more dangerous sister, Hezbollah. The same type of slogans, threatening proclamations, videos of militants training - and even the same type of haughty TV broadcasters smilingly reporting on actions undertaken against the Zionist enemy. But Hamas also appeared to be repeating Hezbollah's mistakes from 2006, arrogantly believing that if the Israelis declare they don't want to reoccupy Gaza, then it is left with nearly unlimited room to maneuver.

Even if it turns out that Hamas is right (which is highly unlikely), it is taking a tremendous gamble. A major air strike by Israel would apparently include bombardment of Hamas offices and institutions. A further deterioration to a large-scale frontal confrontation could end up costing Hamas its rule, although the IDF would surely suffer significant losses, too. Meanwhile, the tremendous importance that Hamas attaches to matters of honor and prestige cannot be discounted. A few mornings ago, while headlines in Israel reported on Hamas' readiness to consider a new cease-fire, the organization was behind the launching of over 60 rockets and mortars, intended to settle the score for an incident the previous evening, in which paratroops killed three Hamas men out to plant explosives near the separation fence. As in the past, Hamas is prepared to risk its rule just to avoid the perception of having surrendered to Israel.

Mushir al-Masri, a Hamas parliament member in his early 30s, largely symbolizes his organization's arrogant side. On Wednesday, Al-Masri stood before a Palestinian crowd in a mosque during the funeral for the three men killed by the paratroops. He waved an admonishing finger at Israel with the other. "We will strike them in Sderot and Ashkelon, and what comes after Sderot and after that," he warned, echoing Hezbollah secretary general Hassan Nasrallah's famous speech during the Second Lebanon War. The glittering gold watch on Al-Masri's left wrist detracted a bit from the message - given the modest public image that Hamas seeks to maintain, and the economic distress of most Gazans.

On the eve of the escalation, Israel's foreign minister journeyed to Cairo, but Livni's visit seemed more like a PR and coordination mission than a last attempt at mediation. In Israel, the feeling is growing that Egypt would not be much opposed to a little blood being shed among Hamas. Cairo did not issue any denial following the report in the London newspaper Al-Quds Al-Arabi two days ago that Intelligence Minister Omar Suleiman had told Major General (res.) Amos Gilad that Israel needs to teach Hamas a lesson.

Relations between Egypt and the Hamas leadership in Gaza are tense and brimming with mutual resentments. Cairo is angry about the torpedoing of the Hamas-Fatah dialogue it had sponsored, and about what it saw as excessive arrogance on the part of Hamas. Gaza is angry that several Hamas officials have been imprisoned in Sinai for almost a year, and it is openly critical of Egypt. It appears that the Egyptians would prefer to let the parties stew in their own juices for a while before bringing all their weight to bear in order to attain a new cease-fire.

.

The Israeli government and Ha'aretz can pretend all they want that this is a temporary strategic move on the part of hamas.  But hamas' objective in this is the end of Israel and millions of dead Jews. 

Elections are coming soon.  Based on the polling I've seen, the country - at least as of now - seems to have decided that it can no longer play pretend this way. 

I hope that realization still obtains on election day.


THE NEW YORK TIMES ON ILLEGAL WORKERS' RIGHTS

Ken Berwitz

How do you like your lunacy?  Do you want it in four letter words, or subtle and nuanced. 

The New York Times gives you subtle and nuanced.  And here is a great example.

We are in terribly hard economic times, when jobs are being lost left and right.  So what does the Times editorial board think we should do?  Why give equal rights to illegal aliens, that's what. 

No I am not drinking or on drugs.  I really read this in today's paper.  And, to prove it, here is the editorial I am referring to.  I've put a several of the ripest parts in bold print:

Getting Immigration Right

Published: December 25, 2008

Its way too early to tell whether the United States under President-elect Barack Obama will restore realism, sanity and lawfulness to its immigration system. But its never too early to hope, and the stars seem to be lining up, at least among his cabinet nominees.

If Mr. Obamas team is confirmed, the country will have a homeland security secretary, Janet Napolitano of Arizona, and a commerce secretary, Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who understand the border region and share a well-informed disdain for foolish, inadequate enforcement schemes like the Bush administrations border fence. And it will have a labor secretary, Hilda Solis of California, who, as a state senator and congresswoman, has built a reputation as a staunch defender of immigrants and workers.

The confluence of immigrants and labor is exactly what this country particularly, and disastrously, the Bush administration has not been able to figure out.

In simplest terms, what Ms. Solis and Mr. Obama seem to know in their gut is this: If you uphold workers rights, even for those here illegally, you uphold them for all working Americans. If you ignore and undercut the rights of illegal immigrants, you encourage the exploitation that erodes working conditions and job security everywhere. In a time of economic darkness, the stability and dignity of the work force are especially vital.

This is why it is so important to reverse the Bush administrations immigration tactics, which for years have attacked the problem upside down and backward. To appease Republican nativists, it lavished scarce resources solely on hunting down and punishing illegal immigrants. Its campaign of raids, detentions and border fencing was a moral failure. Among other things, it terrorized and broke apart families and led to some gruesome deaths in shoddy prisons. It mocked the American tradition of welcoming and assimilating immigrant workers.

But it also was a strategic failure because it did little or nothing to stem the illegal tide while creating the very conditions under which the off-the-books economy can thrive. Illegal immigrant workers are deterred from forming unions. And without a path to legalization and under the threat of a relentless enforcement-only regime, they cannot assert their rights.

Its a system that the grubbiest and shabbiest industries and business owners think of the hellish slaughterhouse in Postville, Iowa, running with immigrant child labor could not have designed better. Through it all, the Bush administrations response to criticism has been ever more enforcement.

Ms. Solis, whose father immigrated from Mexico and was a Teamsters shop steward and whose mother, from Nicaragua, worked on an assembly line, promises a clean break from that past. She lives in El Monte, a Los Angeles suburb where two compelling stories of immigrants and labor have emerged in recent years.

The first was tragic: a notorious 1995 raid at a sweatshop where Thai workers were kept in slave conditions behind barbed wire. The second is less well-known but far more encouraging: a present-day hiring site for day laborers at the edge of a Home Depot parking lot. The Latino men who gather in that safe, well-run space uphold an informal minimum wage and protect one another from abusive contractors and wage thieves. Its good for the store, its customers and the workers.

Ms. Solis is a defender of such sites and has opposed efforts in other cities to enact ordinances to disperse day laborers and force them underground. She understands that if day laborers end up in our suburbs, it is better to give them safe places to gather rather than allow an uncontrolled job bazaar to drive wages and working conditions down.

Thats a bit of local wisdom that deserves to take root in the federal government.

Got that?  You uphold lawfulness by giving legal rights to illegals. 

And, since the demands of this editorial include insuring that illegals get the same kind of compensation as legals, what the Times is really saying is that illegals should be able to compete on an even keel with people who are here legally, so they can fight over a dwindling job market.

Their conclusion?  If illegal workers are treated no differently than legals and given exactly what legals are given, it will move us toward solving the illegal worker problem.

Ok, you be the judge.  If an illegal knows that, once over the border, he/she will not face deportation, and will be paid exactly the way a legal is paid, do you think he/she will be encouraged or discouraged to come here illegally?

I would call the Times editorial board idiots for this, but I decline to insult idiots so completely.

free` I swear nothing this newspaper does surprises me anymore. The quicker it goes out of business the better it will be for this country. (12/26/08)


LIVING OFF THE FAT OF THE LAND ROVER

Ken Berwitz

Did you ever wonder what those expensive cosmetic surgeons do with all the fat that is liposuctioned out of their patients' bodies?

Well, here's one use I bet you hadn't considered.  It comes to us from Forbes Magazine, via www.foxnews.com:

California Surgeon Used Human Fat to Power Car

Friday , December 26, 2008

A former Beverly Hills, Calif. liposuction doctor claimed to have the environment's best interests at heart when he began fueling his and his girlfriend's SUVs with human fat sucked out of his patients.

Unfortunately the practice was illegal, according to California state health officials.

An investigation by the California public health department revealed that Craig Alan Bittner created "lipodiesel" from his patients' fat and used it to power his Ford SUV and his girlfriend's Lincoln Navigator, Forbes.com reported this week.

"The vast majority of my patients request that I use their fat for fuel and I have more fat than I can use," Bittner wrote on his now defunct Web site. "Not only do they get to lose their love handles or chubby belly but they get to take part in saving the Earth."

California law forbids the use of human medical waste to power vehicles.

Bittner's practice, Beverly Hills Liposculpture, closed in November.

Several former patients have filed lawsuits against the doctor, claiming he allowed his unlicensed girlfriend and an assistant to perform procedures, causing mistakes that left the patients disfigured, attorney Andrew Besser, who represents three of the former patients, told Forbes.com.

I can just hear the conversations in that office  "Doctor, why is this procedure taking so much longer than you said it would?"  "Well, we're driving out of state this weekend"

I bet Michael Moore personally could have gotten both cars cross-country.  Twice.

The next time you are in traffic and instead of the usual fumes it smells like someone is barbecuing some really cheap hamburgers, maybe you're behind this guy.

That's my contribution.  The next bad joke is yours. 


WHO OWNS BARACK OBAMA'S MANSION?

Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama has come a long way from being a "community organizer" on the south side of Chicago.  I doubt very many people, supporters or detractors, will dispute that. 

But just how far and on who's bankroll?  That's where it gets interesting.  Real interesting.

antoin "tony" rezko is a slumlord criminal who, earlier this year, was convicted on 16 felony counts.  If that were you or me, we'd be planning for a very long stay at a correctional facility.  But tony rezko isn't you or me.  He is a long time friend, confidante and financial angel of Barack Obama.

rezko is the guy who Obama first dismissed as a supporter - nothing special, just one of many - who had given him a total of maybe $25,000 over the years.  Then, as facts became known, Obama admitted to $50,000, than 6 figures (the number moving upward only when it became impossible to pretend otherwise) and eventually to something like $250,000. 

We then found out that rezko was deeply involved in getting Barack Obama the mansion he lives in - and additional land adjoining it.  Both acquisitions appear to be at below-market rates.

Now let's fast-forward to the present.  Barack Obama is going to be the President of the United States, and tony rezko is about to become a jailbird.  So guess who is singing?

It turns out that the real owner of Barack Obama's house is not Barack Obama.  The real owner, based on information uncovered by World Net Daily (and, of course, unreported by our wonderful "neutral media") is....William Miceli.

And who is William Miceli?  He is a) tony rezko's lawyer, and b) a lawyer at the firm Barack Obama used to work for.

That interesting enough for you? 

Here are the particulars, from best-selling author (The Obama Nation) Jerome Corsi.  Please read every word and - very importantly - click on the links to see how well referenced this story is:

OBAMA WATCH CENTRAL
Rezko attorney 'owns' Obama mansion
Lawyer at firm where Democrat worked receives tax bill

Posted: December 25, 2008
11:40 pm Eastern

By Jerome R. Corsi
 2008 WorldNetDaily

An attorney for convicted fundraiser Tony Rezko is listed as the owner and taxpayer for Barack Obama's Chicago mansion, according to records obtained by WND.

William Miceli is a lawyer at the Chicago law firm Miner, Barnhill & Galland, which also formerly employed Obama.

The controversy began when a website called News and Commentary for Thinking People published a 48-page document that lists Miceli as the owner of the Obama home at 5046 S. Greenwood.

Miner, Barnhill & Galland was Obama's employer when he did extensive legal work for Rezko, who awaits sentencing after he was convicted in June of fraud, money laundering and bribery-related counts.

Miceli, as a senior attorney at the firm, supervised Obama when the future president wrote letters on behalf of Rezko urging public authorities to award him new public properties to rehabilitate, notes the "Barack Book" website maintained by GOP.com.

WND asked for comment from Obama's transition team and the Democratic National Committee but did not receive a response.

Investigative reporter Tim Novak at the Chicago Sun-Times has identified 15 building projects that Rezmar, Rezko's development company, redeveloped while it was represented by Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland during Obama's time at the firm.

The law firm changed its name when senior partner Allison Davis left to join Rezko in his schemes to take out loans on low-income housing projects. Several of the transactions remain under investigation, because the millions of dollars Rezko borrowed against the properties to make redevelopments are gone, while many of the properties remain boarded up and uninhabitable.

Following the Jan. 21 Democratic Party primary debate, Miceli told the Washington Post that he was Obama's supervisor at the law firm, in response to Sen. Hillary Clinton's charges Obama had worked for a Chicago slumlord, Rezko.

The Post said "Obama denied doing any legal work directly for Rezko or his companies," contending Obama had done only "about five hours worth of work" on a joint real estate development project involving Rezko and a Chicago church group.

Miceli told the Post Obama "was a very junior lawyer at the time, who was given responsibility for basic due diligence, document review."

Miceli said Obama "did what he was told by the firm," minimizing the importance of any work Obama admittedly did for the Rezko account.

WND confirmed the tax bill for the Obama home is mailed to Miceli, not to Obama or the Northern Trust account through which Obama has claimed the home was purchased.

Records from the Cook County Treasurer's Office give the PIN number for the Obama property as 20-11-115-037-0000 and list Miceli as the person who receives Obama's property tax invoice by mail.

Eric Herman, a spokesman for the Cook County assessor, confirmed to WND that the Treasurer's Office records were correct and that Miceli did receive the Obama property tax invoice by mail.

Miceli did not return a call WND placed to him at Miner, Barnhill & Galland.

Herman told WND a second PIN number, 20-11-115-036-0000, identified the vacant lot next to the Obama mansion that was purchased by Rita Rezko, Tony Rezko's wife.

Here, WND found conflicts between the tax records maintained by the Cook County Treasurer's Office and the deed information maintained by the Cook County Recorder of Deeds.

Rosslyn Whitlock, an Internet support specialist at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds, confirmed to WND that the office has no information listed for the Obama home under the PIN number 20-11-115-037-0000, the number used by the Cook County Assessor's office for property tax purposes.

Records at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds list Rita Rezko as the holder of the warranty deed for the vacant lot at 5050 S. Greenwood adjoining the Obama mansion, under the PIN number 20-11-115-036-0000.

WND was able to locate warranty information at the Cook County Recorder of Deeds , which Herman at the County Assessor's office told WND was the "old PIN number" assigned to the Obama home at 5046 S. Greenwood Avenue, before the home was sold to Obama.

Neither spokesman could explain to WND the discrepancy in PIN numbers, nor why the Cook County Recorder of Deeds has no information filed under the new PIN number assigned to the property after the Obama purchase.

Records with the Cook County Recorder of Deeds under the PIN number 20-11-115-034-0000 indicate the mortgage is held by Northern Trust Company under trust number 10209, which Obama has indicated was the trust the Obama family used to purchase the home.

Meanwhile, WND has reported that since arresting Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald has taken new interest in Rezko's involvement in the Obama mansion purchase.

WND also reported real estate credit analyst Kenneth Conner has filed a civil suit alleging he was wrongfully dismissed by Mutual Bank

of Harvey for objecting to what he considered a fraudulent appraisal of the vacant lot. The appraisal was submitted by the Rezkos at an intentionally high figure, he claims, permitting them to borrow an additional $125,000 that amounted to a "political payoff" to Obama.
 
Like I said, this gets real interesting.
 
When do you suppose mainstream media will start talking about this? 
 
Wait, here's a better question; how is it possible that mainstream media didn't uncover this already?  Isn't is reasonable to assume they would have turned every stone to uncover every fact about the man who will become our President? 
 
And if they didn't...what do you conclude then? 
 
Just how far in the tank are mainstream media for Barack Obama?


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