Saturday, 28 February 2009

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU: A MAN YOU DON'T WANT TO MESS WITH

Ken Berwitz

I rooted hard for Benjamin Netanyahu to become Israel's next Prime Minister (which will happen -- he is forming a coalition government right now). 

There are a lot of reasons I preferred Mr. Netanyahu.  They include his personal brilliance, amazing life experience, as well as his knowledge of history and how it applies to Israel's current situation. 

Let me show you an example of why I feel this way.

Following is the transcript of an interview between Mr. Netanyahu and Martin Stanford of British Sky News, during Israel's action against hezbollah in south Lebanon.  Stanford made the mistake of asking one of the standard questions that are supposed to stop any Israeli dead in his tracks:

STANFORD:  Can I just ask you first of all, then, you'll be aware of the criticism, not just from British government ministers but from other people around the world, that Israel has made its point.  It is now overdoing it.  It is being too violent in what it is reaping on South Lebanon.  How do you respond to those criticisms?

NETANYAHU:  I think that it's a peculiar criticism coming from countries that know better.  Because when London was rocketed by V2's during the blitz, the response was, shall we say, 1,000 times greater?  No, I think it's probably 10,000 times greater.  When New York was rocketed by  makeshift rockets, basically improvised aircrafts used as rockets, the response was to go halfway across the world, wipe out the taliban regime and conquer Iraq.  And in both cases, British and American troops and the troops of other countries tried to ferret out the terrorists who are, as was the case with Lebanon, hiding in civilian areas.  So civilian casualties are accrued, because the terrorists, hezbollah terrorists, not only hide, not only target civilians but hide behind civilians.  And responsible governments, whether it's Britain, the United States, other governments that join them or Israel itself now, do not give immunity to terrorists simply because they hide among civilians.  You try to minimize civilian casualties.  Since Israel has received over 1,000 rockets, including in Haifa today, where more people were killed by these criminal assaults.  These were deliberate attacks on civilians.  They're not incidental attacks on civilians.  And I think that it's a great moral confusion to equate the civilian victims that are deliberately caused by hezbollah terrorists to the incidental civilian casualties that are, unfortunately, produced also by the hezbollah tactic of hiding in crowded neighborhoods.

Then, further on in the interview Mr. Netanyahu continued his lecture for the hapless Stanford:

NETANYAHU:  ...you know, in 1944 the British Royal Air Force went to target the gestapo headquarters in Copenhagen, a legitimate military target embedded in a civilian population.  The British pilots missed, and 83 children were horribly burned in a children's hospital right next to the gestapo headquarters.  That didn't make the British pilots terrorists.  It didn't make the British response disproportionate or wrong.  It was an accident of war that accompanies any war, and especially when your targets are embedded in civilian areas.  I think that to create a false symmetry...

At this point Stanford broke in and changed the subject.  Who could blame him?

You don't mess with with Benjamin Netanyahu.  He was educated at MIT and Harvard.  He has been a business executive, an Ambassador to the UN, a member of the Knesset (Israeli Parliament), Israel's finance minister, and served as its Prime Minister once before.  He is also a 6 year veteran of the Israeli army, specializing in reconnaissance. 

I don't know a lot about Mark Stanford, but somehow I doubt that his life experience matches up well against Benjamin Netanyahu's.  Let's just say that if he thought he could finesse Mr. Netanyahu with a leading question, he started up with the wrong guy.

Benjamin Netanyahu is exactly the kind of leader Israel needs today.  I hope he forms his coalition quickly and performs brilliantly as Prime Minister...again.


BARACK OBAMA AND CHARITABLE DEDUCTIONS

Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama's entire adult life has been spent in a succession of jobs where he was able to spend money that came from somewhere other than his own pocket.  That is what he has done and that is what he knows. 

Now he is the President of the United States.  And Mr. Obama is intent on applying the same constraints he learned during this time to the entire economy -- which is to say, none at all.

Wow!  I can spend trillions of dollars we don't have, mix in countless social programs that won't stimulate anything but entitlement and dependency, and blame it all on former President Bush.  Wheeeeeee, this is fun!

Mr. Obama's latest economic salvo is to make sure that "the rich" have to pay taxes on more of their charitable donations.  But not to worry;  his people have figured out that it is no problem at all for "the rich" or the charities. 

Think I'm kidding?  Then read this excerpt from an article in today's Washington Times:

"Some of the reforms and offsets contained or referenced in the budget, such as the limitation on itemized deductions, raise concerns and will require more study as we determine the best policies for getting America back on track," said Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat.

Roberton Williams, senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center, said it's impossible to calculate the exact effects of all the tax changes, but said the overall result is clear - less philanthropic

"This will lead people to give less to charities if they behave the way they've behaved in the past," he said. "We've already seen a drop in giving as a result of the economic collapse. On top of that, this will just reduce the amount of giving."

Asked about that, Office of Management and Budget Director Peter Orszag said Mr. Obama took care of that by giving charities government money to make up part of the difference.

 "Contained in the recovery act, there's $100 million to support nonprofits and charities as we get through this period of economic difficulty," he said.

He disputed that giving would drop, and said an economic recovery will help charities, too.

My god, that's ingenius. 

Limit the deductions people can receive for charitable donations - while also raising their overall taxes, let's remember - and they'll just give every bit as much anyway. 

Plus, the government (with appropriate thank-you's to President Obama, of course) will distribute $100 million to nonprofits and charities.  Since the government's revenues come from taxes, this means that instead of "rich people" giving the money, it comes from everyone, rich and poor alike. 

That, folks, is the thinking of someone who never owned a business or met a payroll, and has spent his adult life spending other people's money.

I hope you enjoy it.  Because we're going to have to live with this mindset in the oval office for at least four years.


WHO'LL THEY SERVE NEXT? JACK THE RIPPER?

Ken Berwitz

These guys can't be serious......can they?

Read this Associated Press story and shake your head along with me:

Wanted since 1928: Cops aim to serve warrant

Document find prompts hunt for man accused of writing $30 bad check

ELIZABETHTON, Tenn. - The Carter County Sheriff's Department is trying to serve an 80-year-old warrant for the arrest of a man who wrote a $30 bad check, although officers are unsure if he is alive.

The warrant, issued in August 1928, calls for the arrest of J.A. Rowland. It says he owes $30 for the bad check, $2 for the arrest fee and 50 cents each for the affidavit and warrant.

Clerks at the Glynn County Sheriff's Office in Brunswick, Ga., recently found the warrant buried in a records storage room while cleaning and mailed it to Tennessee.

Current Carter County Sheriff Chris Mathes told The Elizabethton Star he is still under a legal obligation to find Rowland.

All I can say is that if the county sheriff has time for this, Elizabethton, Tennessee must be the safest place in the universe.

As for finding J.A. Rowland, he's either in the cemetery or the Guiness Book of World Records.


PRESIDENTIAL APPROVAL RATINGS: THE HIGHS AND LOWS

Ken Berwitz

I just came across this chart while scanning www.freerepublic.com .  It was published by the Washington Post.

Given how much has been made of President Obama's approval ratings, the data it contains should provide some much-needed perspective:

Presidential Job Approval: The Highs*

Date % saying "approve" Events
George W. Bush Oct. 9, 2001 92% One month after the terrorist attacks of September 11, President Bush achieved the highest approval rating of any president since modern polling began.
George H.W. Bush Mar. 4, 1991 90% With the ground war in Iraq less than a week old, the public was near-unanimous in its support for the president.
Harry S. Truman June 5, 1945 87% Another president buoyed by wartime success, Truman reached a peak on the eve of V-E Day.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Jan. 13 and 31, 1942 84% FDR had widespread support in these Gallup polls, among the first conducted after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
Lyndon Johnson Mar. 5, 1964 80% Johnson hit his highest approval rating in early 1964, but did not dip below 70 percent approval until a year later.
John F. Kennedy Mar. 13, 1962 80% After Kennedy took office, his popularity grew for more than a year, peaking in early 1962.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Dec. 19, 1956 78% Ike's approval peaked in the post-war good times of 1956, also Elvis Presley's breakthrough year.
Jimmy Carter Mar. 21, 1977 75% Carter earned his highest approval rating two months after taking office. After a late-March approval rating of 72 percent, he never again topped 70 percent.
Ronald Reagan Mar. 31 and Apr. 22, 1981 73% Reagan's approval rating also peaked shortly after taking office, though he nearly reached a high again in mid-1986.
Gerald R. Ford Aug. 19, 1974 71% Not long after this, the first measure of Ford's approval rating, he pardoned Nixon and disapproval of his job performance rose 25 percentage points.
Bill Clinton Jan. 30, 1998 69% About a week after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke, Clinton's approval rating topped out.
Richard Nixon Nov. 17, 1969 and Jan. 29, 1973 67% Nixon notched his highest approval rating twice: in the first year of his term and as ceasefire was declared in Vietnam.


Presidential Job Approval: The Lows

Date % saying "disapprove" Events
Harry S. Truman Jan. 11, 1952 67% Though not statistically different from Nixon's 66 percent, Truman clocked this lowest rating ever recorded during the Korean War.
Richard Nixon Aug. 5, 1974 66% Just days before leaving office, Nixon received one of the most negative job approval ratings recorded thus far.
George W. Bush May 15, 2006, Jan. 19, 2007 and June 21, 2007 65% Bush's disapproval rating has been above 50 percent for the past two years. No president since Truman has had such sustained negative ratings.
George H.W. Bush Aug. 4, 1992 64% Three months before losing his bid for re-election, Bush's disapproval rating peaked.
Jimmy Carter July 2, 1979 59% 1979 was not Carter's best year, just a few months after being attacked by a killer rabbit,** his disapproval peaked.
Ronald Reagan Jan. 22, 1983 54% Reagan's low point hit two years into his first term, just days before a State of the Union speech outlining his plan for bringing the nation out of economic trouble.
Lyndon Johnson Aug. 12, 1968 52% A few months after deciding not to seek a second term as president, Johnson's disapproval rating rose above 50 percent for the first time during his tenure.
Bill Clinton Jan. 4, 1995, Aug.-Oct. 1994 and Aug. 8, 1993 51% Disapproval of Clinton's job performance reached a peak three times: as Newt Gingrich's Republican majority took over the House, during the Paula Jones scandal and as the debate surrounding universal health care heated up.
Gerald R. Ford Apr. 21, 1975 and Nov. 24, 1975 46% Ford never regained popularity after pardoning Nixon, but even at his lowest, around four in 10 approved of the job he was doing.
Franklin D. Roosevelt Nov. 12, 1938 46% FDR's worst rating occurred as the country was still climbing out of economic depression.
Dwight D. Eisenhower Apr. 1, 1958 36% I like Ike indeed! Even at his worst, just one-third of Americans disapproved of the job Eisenhower was doing.
John F. Kennedy Sept. 17, 1963 and Nov. 13, 1963 30% With approval ratings near sixty percent, Kennedy's worst was never very bad. His worst rating at 30 percent disapproval occurred twice in the last months of his presidency.

*Data on presidents Roosevelt, Truman, Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford and Carter are from Gallup. Data on presidents Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton and George W. Bush are from Washington Post-ABC News polling.

**For more on Carter's killer rabbit, click here .

By Jennifer Agiesta |  July 24, 2007; 9:26 AM ET Post Polls

You might want to show this to your Obama-supporting friends, the next time they swoon over how great his approval ratings are.


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