Saturday, 27 December 2008


Ken Berwitz

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us
It wad frae monie a blunder free us
An' foolish notion
What airs in dress an' gait wad lea'e us
An' ev'n Devotion

That quote is from Robert Burns' poem, indelicately titled "To A Louse".  Translated into contemporary language, the great Mr. Burns actually was saying:

Oh, that God would give us the very smallest of gifts
To be able to see ourselves as others see us
It would save us from many mistakes
and foolish thoughts
We would change the way we look and gesture
and to how and what we apply our time and attention.

With this in mind, here is an article from today's New York Post, which reports the comments Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg made during interviews with the Associated Press and New York 1. 

Please read it through, trying to remember all the while that this is her attempt to convince us that she should be appointed to the United States Senate:



Last updated: 2:17 am
December 27, 2008
Posted: 1:12 am
December 27, 2008

Caroline Kennedy broke her silence with the start of a media blitz yesterday, defending her qualifications to replace Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton and confidently saying she's up to the job.

Kennedy sat for half-hour interviews with The Associated Press and NY1 after two weeks in which the controlled rollout of her candidacy raised questions about her credentials.

The 51-year-old daughter of John F. Kennedy told NY1 last night, "There are many ways to serve. I think I have been serving my community up until now, and I think I'm ready to take the next step."

She added, "When this opportunity came along, it seemed like . . . I really ought to give it some thought. This is something that I've always thought, one day, in the future."

Later, she acknowledged, "I would be an unconventional choice - I haven't followed a traditional path, but I think I bring a lifetime of experience to this.

"In my family, public service is really the greatest honor anyone can have. It's a legacy I cherish, and that I've tried to live up to my whole life."

Kennedy also said the 9/11 attacks and her work stumping for President-elect Barack Obama were motivating factors in asking Gov. Paterson, who has sole power to fill the Senate seat, to consider her.

Paterson has made clear he doesn't consider Kennedy the front-runner for the job and with criticism of her effort mounting, the Camelot scion is under pressure to demonstrate publicly why she wants - and should get - the job.

During the interview with "Inside City Hall" host Dominic Carter, Kennedy:

* Laughed off criticism made by Queens Rep. Gary Ackerman comparing her qualifications for the job to those of celebrity Jennifer Lopez.

"I admire the journey J.Lo has traveled," Kennedy said of the Bronx native.

"I've been to a school in The Bronx near the house she grew up in and so I actually have a lot of admiration for her."

* Said she was "dismayed" by her record of missing more than a dozen votes in elections over the past decade, adding she has no "good excuse" for it.

* Believes her brother, John Jr., who died in a plane crash in 1999, would be "laughing his head off" at the prospect of his big sis heading into politics, but would be supportive.

* Imagined that her mother, Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, "would roll her eyes about the whole thing" but "would be really proud that I'm doing this."

* Insisted her famous name isn't always a help, adding, "If my last name weren't Kennedy, maybe I would have run for office a long time ago."

About the woman she would be replacing, Kennedy said she and Clinton, who's been tapped by Obama for secretary of state, had a "very nice conversation . . . She said this was the greatest job that she'd ever had and could imagine having. So she was very encouraging, and that was . . . nice because she's a huge inspiration of mine."

Kennedy cited her dad as she spoke to the AP, saying:

"Many people remember that spirit that President Kennedy summoned forth. Many people look to me as somebody who embodies that sense of possibility. I'm not saying that I am anything like him, I'm just saying there's a spirit that I think I've grown up with that is something that means a tremendous amount to me."

Let's see; Mr. Kennedy Schlossberg thinks that a long and admirable record of charitable work qualifies her to become a United States Senator.  It seems me me that there are people with far fewer personal resources than Ms. Kennedy Schlossberg, who devote even more time to public service than she does.  Using that logic, shouldn't they be ahead of her on line for the senate appointment?

Then we have the remarkable suggestion that the Kennedy name not only does not help, but is a hindrance to her quest for public office.

Sure, ok.  The Kennedy family is not a help, but she manages to toss in the fact that her family is devoted to public service, as well as individual references to her brother, her mother and her father.   Why?  To lower her chances for the appointment?

Please understand that I do not consider Ms. Kennedy Schlossberg a louse, or anything like a louse.  But I think she would greatly benefit from reading the poem of that name.

Personally, I think that if Robert Burns were still around and was following Ms. Kennedy Schlossberg's attempts to convince us that she's the right person for the job, he'd have to amend part of his poem to read:

O wad some Pow'r the giftie gie us
To see oursels as others see us
It wad frae politics a blunder free us
From foolish Caroline Kennedi'eus



Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama suddenly is the quietest man on the planet.  But he can't be for long.

Israel has hit Gaza in a major way.  Hundreds are dead and hamas' "security" is decimated (in other words, it will be harder for hamas to avoid Israel's retaliation for the daily bombings that brought this attack on in the first place).

Charles Johnson of has a good piece on this, so I'll let him tell the story:

Kos Kid Roots for Palestinians, Takes Slap at Obama

Moonbats | Sat, Dec 27, 2008 at 11:25:07 am PST

A Kos Kid with the possibly ironic username of Daisy Cutter is weeping over the Israeli airstrikes against Hamas weapons dumps and training camps: Daily Kos: Israels ongoing war on Palestinian self-determination (EDIT: 200 dead, Obama: no comment).

With todays news of IDF air strikes abruptly ending the lives of some 140 Gazans, I cant help but feel an abject sense of horror at the fact that most Americans will probably find some way to blame the Palestinians for bringing this on themselves. Nevermind the fact that it was Israel who initially broke the ceasefire. Forget the fact that Israel kidnapped two civilians from Gaza before Corporal Gilad Shilat became a household name. Nevermind that Israels strangulation of the Gaza Strip began immediately after the so-called disengagement and before the electoral victory of Hamas.

I remain confounded by the American progressive movements widespread refusal to stand behind the Palestinian people as they are subjected to an endless barrage of colonialist, racist aggression.

I, on the other hand, see it as a rare sign of wisdom. Not all progressives are as gullible and blind as Daisy Cutter, apparently.

That fascinating display of absolute idiocy based on absolute BS by "Daisy Cutter" would be a worst-case scenario from the Obama people.  A statement reminding Gazans that the actions emanating from their territory is what caused Israel's attack would be a best case scenario.

Now;  when does Barack Obama get into the act?  We all await scenario 1. 


Ken Berwitz

Why did we remove the taliban from running Afghanistan? 

Well, for one, it was giving osama bin laden the run of the country to train al qaeda recruits and plan terrorist attacks.  This, of course, culminated in 9/11.

For another, it was because of the following, which comes to us via The Australian:

Taliban says if girls' schools don't close, it will bomb them, attack students
By Zahid Hussain in Islamabad
The AustralianDecember 27, 2008

THE Taliban has ordered the closure of all girls' schools in the war-ravaged Swat district of Pakistan and warned parents and teachers of dire consequences if the ban is flouted.

In an announcement made in mosques and broadcast on radio, the militant group set a deadline of January 15 for its order to be obeyed or it would blow up school buildings and attack schoolgirls. It also told women not to set foot outside their homes without being fully covered.

"Female education is against Islamic teachings and spreads vulgarity in society," Shah Dauran, leader of a group that has established control over a large part of Swat district in the North West Frontier Province, declared this week.

Teachers said that they had little choice but to comply. The Taliban have destroyed more than 125 girls' schools in the area in the past year, The Weekend Australian reports.

Swat, once a relatively liberal area and a popular tourist destination, has in the past few years become a heartland for Pakistan's Islamic militancy, which fashions itself on the conservative Taliban movement in Afghanistan.

Islamic militants led by the radical cleric Maulana Fazlullah have been fighting government forces since Pakistan launched a massive operation in the district late last year.

More than 200 government soldiers have been killed but the militants are still well entrenched in the area.

Mullah Fazlullah - also known as Mullah Radio for his sermons broadcast through his illegal FM radio stations - has long been exhorting people to stop sending their daughters to schools, which "inculcate Western values". Hundreds of girls and women teachers have quit schools as a result.

The militants have also prohibited immunisation for children against polio - claiming that the UN-sponsored vaccination drive is aimed at causing sexual impotence - causing a sharp rise in cases of the disease.

Since the start of the government offensive, girls' schools have been targeted increasingly by Islamic fundamentalists. The district has 842 boys' and 490 girls' state schools for 300,000 children aged three to nine; only 163,645 boys and 67,606 girls are actually enrolled at state and private establishments, according to official figures.

According to the local authorities, 50 per cent of girls have stopped attending school because of the militants' threats. Hazir Gul, a teacher, said the inability of the authorities to provide protection against attacks had emboldened the Islamists, who burned schools "whenever they want".

Attacks on girls' schools are not confined to the Swat district. In the past two years a further 100 schools have been burnt down in Waziristan and other tribal areas, leaving tens of thousands of children between the ages of five and 15 without education.

In many areas, hardliners have established sharia, or Islamic law, and introduced public executions for those who break it.

.  .

Most of us supported the invasion of Afghanistan -- and then, as per usual, the hate-USA, hate-Republicans crowd quickly started finding fault with everything we did there.   The fact that the taliban has not regained control since our invasion?  Irrelevant. 

Well, maybe this brings the relevance home just a tad.  And maybe it will make some of these geniuses think about what would happen if the taliban mindset were again in control of Afghanistan - or maybe even other places closer to us.

But I doubt it.

Sailor That's a mold-breaker. Great tikhning! (12/10/11)


Ken Berwitz

Now, it is claimed, the death count from Israel's strike at Gaza is almost 200.  Since the brave warriors in Gaza make a point of firing at Israel from residential neighborhoods, some of the casualties are civilian. 

Here is an analysis of the attack and what it means from David Horovitz of the Jerusalem Post:

Analysis: The policy of restraint is over

Dec. 27, 2008

The Israeli air strikes on Hamas targets in Gaza on Saturday, hugely dramatic in their scope, nonetheless mark only the beginning of an ongoing, potentially lengthy operation aimed at restoring calm to the South, rather than a one-off response to the escalated Kassam rocket fire. The policy of restraint, officials say, is over.

For months, Israel has been refining its intelligence information on the key physical locations that are crucial to the rule of Hamas in the terror state that the Gaza Strip has become since the Islamist group seized power there in June 2007.

And rather than seeking to target the fast-moving offshoots of that terrorist rule - the Kassam crews that set themselves up in residential Gaza neighborhoods, fire into Israeli residential areas and then quickly melt away - Israel has elected to fire into the heart of the terror beast.

Defense Ministry officials, from Ehud Barak on down, were Saturday preparing the Israeli public for what they said was likely to be a difficult period ahead.

Hamas is threatening a further escalation in rocket fire - with missiles reaching to Beersheba - and the mobilization of a new wave of suicide bombers.

The international fallout, even amid the relative inattention of the Christmas-New Year period, began remarkably quickly, with a chorus of calls for Israeli restraint, including predictable fury in the Arab world and a vehement protest from France at Israel's ostensibly disproportionate response.

Amid the military preparations, it will quickly become clear whether Israel has made parallel diplomatic preparations, with articulate officials prepped and ready to highlight to the watching world how untenable has been the situation of Hamastan firing into Israel for eight years, with interim lulls to rearm, and no cessation even after Israel pulled all its civilians and all military infrastructure out of Gaza in 2005.

The word from the defense establishment on Saturday afternoon was that some 60 planes had participated in the strikes at dozens of Hamas military and logistical targets. Preparations were in place for an intensification of military action, with the potential use of ground forces, officials said. No call up of reserves was under way but, again, the preparations were in place should it be deemed necessary.

Naturally, the effort launched Saturday to defang a rocket-firing, Iranian-backed terror army across a hostile border invites immediate comparison with the bid to destroy Hizbullah's terrorist infrastructure in southern Lebanon two and a half years ago.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert relentlessly insisted that he was the man best placed to learn the lessons of that indecisive and ultimately unsuccessful resort to force - a war mis-stewarded by an inexperienced prime minister, a defense minister, Amir Peretz, who was entirely unqualified for the job, and a chief of staff, Dan Halutz, who placed exaggerated confidence in the air force's capacity for destroying carefully protected underground infrastructure and a highly mobile Hizbullah fighting force.

We are now going to find out whether those lessons from 2006 - on military preparation, on the need for effective military-political coordination, on operating in an immensely complex regional and global context, and on setting realistic goals for the use of military force - were indeed well learned.

Mr. Horovitz understands perfectly.  Maybe, at long last - way too long -  this indicates that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert does too.

Since the world will inevitably side against Israel in this action, it has to act very swiftly and decisively to wipe out as much of the hamas infrastructure as possible. 

I wish Israel every success in this effort.


Ken Berwitz

Finally, Israel hits back at Gaza. 

Finally a reaction - not proportional but on Israel's terms - to address the wholesale bombing of Israel from Gaza during the utterly fraudulent "truce" - which, in reality, was hamas attacking Israeli towns almost daily while it was re-arming.

Here is part of an Associated Press report which gives the details:

Israel launches air strikes on Gaza, 145 dead
 Dec 27, 8:29 AM (ET)


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) - Israeli warplanes retaliating for rocket fire from the Gaza Strip pounded dozens of security compounds across the Hamas-ruled territory in unprecedented waves of airstrikes Saturday, killing at least 155 and wounding more than 310 in the single bloodiest day of fighting in recent memory.

Hamas said all of its security installations were hit and responded with several medium-range Grad rockets at Israel, reaching deeper than in the past. One Israeli was killed and at least four people were wounded.

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said "the operation will last as long as necessary," but it was not clear if it would be coupled with a ground offensive. Asked if Hamas political leaders might be targeted next, military spokeswoman Maj. Avital Leibovich said, "Any Hamas target is a target."

The strikes caused widespread panic and confusion in Gaza, as black clouds of smoke rose above the territory, ruled by Hamas for the past 18 months. Some of the Israeli missiles struck in densely populated areas as children were leaving school, and women rushed into the streets frantically looking for their children.

In Gaza City's main security compound, bodies of more than a dozen uniformed security officers lay on the ground. One survivor raised his index finger in a show of Muslim faith, uttering a prayer. The Gaza police chief was among those killed. One man, his face bloodied, sat dazed on the ground as a fire raged nearby.

It wasn't immediately clear how many civilian casualties there were.

Defiant Hamas leaders threatened revenge, including suicide attacks. Hamas "will continue the resistance until the last drop of blood," vowed spokesman Fawzi Barhoum.

Israeli leaders approved military action against Gaza earlier in the week.

Past limited ground incursions and air strikes have not halted rocket barrages from Gaza.

But with 200 mortars and rockets raining down on Israel since the truce expired a week ago, and 3,000 since the beginning of the year, according to the military's count, pressure had been mounting in Israel for the military to crush the gunmen.

Earlier this month, Israeli security officials told the government that militants possess rockets with ranges capable of reaching farther from Gaza than ever before, including the cities of Beersheba and Ashdod.

Gaza militants fired several rockets Saturday, including one that struck a new target, the town of Kiryat Gat. A missile hit on the town of Netivot killed an Israeli man and wounded four people, rescue services said. In Ashkelon, TV cameras showed people huddle against a wall as a rocket alert sounded.

Barak, the Israeli defense minister, said that the coming period "won't be easy and won't be short for the communities in the south (of Israel).

Israel declared a state of emergency in Israeli communities within a 12-mile (20-kilometer) range of Gaza, putting the area on a war footing.

The first round of air strikes came just before noon, and several more waves followed.

In the West Bank, Hamas' rival, Abbas, said in a statement that he "condemns this aggression" and called for restraint, according to an aide, Nabil Abu Rdeneh. Abbas, who has ruled only the West Bank since the Islamic Hamas seized power in Gaza in June 2007, was in contact with Arab leaders, and his West Bank Cabinet convened an emergency session.

Israel has targeted Gaza in the past, but the number of simultaneous attacks was unprecedented.

Israel left Gaza in 2005 after a 38-year occupation, but the withdrawal did not lead to better relations with Palestinians in the territory as Israeli officials had hoped.

Instead, the evacuation was followed by a sharp rise in militant attacks on Israeli border communities that on several occasions provoked harsh Israeli military reprisals.

The last, in late February and early March, spurred both sides to agree to a truce that was to have lasted six months but began unraveling in early November. In recent days, Israeli leaders had been voicing strong threats to launch a major offensive.

Israeli aggression.  That's what they're calling it in Gaza (and with almost 60 muslim countries and a world in need of oil, that is also what they'll be calling it in the UN, I assure you). 

Me?  I say that it's about time. 

The only language understood in Gaza and Judea/Samaria (the west bank) is this kind of action.  Now hamas, their sympathizers and the ones who stand silently by (otherwise known as the entire Gazan population) can go into their usual routine of crying that they are victims, as they try to rebuild their "security".  

Tragically, the only way this will ever change is if the people there have a reason to fear Israel more than their fellow "palestinians". 

If Israel does this enough times, maybe that will happen.  If Israel doesn't do this, it never will.

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