Saturday, 02 May 2009

JACK KEMP R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Football great, 9 term congressperson, HUD Secretary  and Vice Presidential candidate Jack Kemp has died at the age of 74.   The cause was cancer.

Mr. Kemp was a principled man and a strong supply-side conservative. He was liked and admired on both sides of the political aisle.  Besides, how many politicians could throw a football 50 yards?

Jack Kemp was a breed that, to our detriment, is increasingly rare in politics.  He will be missed. 

May he rest in peace.


SOMALI THUGS/TERRORISTS/PIRATES: UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

I have not written about the Somali thugs/terrorists/pirates for the past week and a half.  But I won't let it go, because the day they successfully take another American ship is very likely the day that members of its crew - maybe all of its crew - will be dead.  That is specifically what these subhuman predators have told us they will do.

And what are we doing about it?  We know where they dock their ships.  We know that there is no functioning government there that can stop them (and who knows whether they would even if they could).  We know that the UN is useless regarding somali thugs/terrorists/pirates.  We know that, with few exceptions, European countries will do little other than pay ransom and live with the fact that some of their nationals have been taken hostage.  So it is up to us.

Here is what I wrote weeks ago.  It is as important now as it was then:

Another day has passed without the USA acting against Somalian thugs/terrorists/pirates. 

But the thugs/terrorists/pirates remain in full operation. How long before they take another one of our ships?  And what do you think they will do with a US crew?

Every day this is allowed to continue is a day that every American crew member on every ship is at mortal risk.

Are we planning to act against them where it counts - i.e. where their boats are docked?  Or are we waiting for Americans to join the nationals of so many other countries and become hostages - or be killed outright, which is specifically what is being threatened?

Are we waiting for the rest of the world to act?  Are we waiting for the UN?  What have they done through all the Somalian hijackings so far, besides nothing?  What will they do if an American crew is taken, besides nothing?

The time is now.  Right now. 

Send in our planes.  Send in our troops.  Not to the cities, but to the ports and contiguous areas around them. 

Wipe these bastards out.  blow up every ship that cannot 100% prove it is not engaged in the pirate/thug/terrorism trade.  Put them the hell out of business.

And when the countries whose people are being held hostage tell us that we're doing the wrong thing?  Respond, firmly and decisively, that it is their unwillingness to act which caused the hostage situation, not our actions to protect US interests.  Tell them that if we don't stop this right now, there will be more hostages, not less.  It has to stop, and the sooner the better.

Then let them cry and moan about it.  That, apparently, is the extent of what they are willing to do.

This cannot go on any longer.  Period.

I strongly praised President Obama for giving the go-ahead to take out the thugs/terrorists/pirates holding Captain Bill Phillips hostage.  But if that is all Mr. Obama intends to do - if that is what he thinks of as a solution - then he is part of the problem.

This does not end until the thugs/terrorists/pirates understand that they have more to lose than to gain.  Is there any reason to believe they understand it right now?  Why would they?  In both government and media, there was a nice celebration for Captain Phillips and his crew, and then the story was dropped.  Not a word about it anymore. 

But you can bet your bottom dollar that it will be a front-page story the next time a US ship is taken.  And who will they blame then?  Bush?

The time to act is now. 

BOBW QUICK AND TO THE POINT- THIS IS TERRORISM PIRATES SHOULD FACE THE SAME PUNISHMENT AS A TERRORISTS- BLOW THEM THE F----- UP! UNLESS SOME ONE CAN TELL ME HOW TO REASON WITH WALKING RECTUMS. THIS IS THE ONLY THING THAT MAKES SENSE AND THAT IS TO TURN THEM INTO MULCH (05/02/09)


THE IMPERIAL OBAMACY

Ken Berwitz

Remember all that talk - often goom-and-doom talk - about the dangers of an imperial presidency?

Well, that was then and this is now.  Or, to be more precise, that was Republicans and this is Democrats.

You would have to go a long way to find a combination of presidential power and presidential willingness to exploit that power that rivals the Obama administration.

Here is an excerpt from a (mostly) very well done analysis of Mr. Obama's power and influence, written by Steve Holland of Reuters:

Obama revelling in U.S. power unseen in decades

Fri May 1, 2009 9:47pm BST

By Steve Holland

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Barack Obama is revelling in presidential power and influence unseen in Washington for decades.

Barely 100 days in office, the U.S. president and his Democratic Party have firm control over the White House and Congress and the ability to push through ambitious plans.

Now, with the coming retirement of a Supreme Court justice clearing the way for him to appoint a successor, Obama already is assured a legacy at the top of all three branches of government -- executive, legislative and judicial.

On the corporate front, the federal government's pumping of billions of dollars in bailout money into banks and auto companies has given Obama the power to force an overhaul in those industries, a remarkable intervention in capitalist industries by the state.

Americans are giving him leeway as well. His job approval ratings are well over 60 percent, giving him political capital to undertake big challenges.

His political opponents, the Republicans, are in disarray, reduced in numbers and engaged in an internal struggle over how to recover from devastating election losses in 2006 and last year.

Experts speak of Obama in the same league as such transformational presidents as Democrat Franklin Roosevelt, who led the United States through the Great Depression and World War Two, and Republican Ronald Reagan, who led the country to victory in the Cold War.

"I cannot in my memory remember a time when a president of the United States has had more influence," said Democratic strategist Doug Schoen, who worked in the Clinton White House. 

How's that for an imperial presidency?

Interestingly, even as Mr. Holland shows this to us, he joins the vast majority of media when it comes to Obama, and goes overboard in his "gush level".  Here are two examples:

-The fact that Mr. Obama has job ratings well over 60% (in most, not all, polls) is no great shakes.  Most new presidents have similarly high ratings at this point in their first terms, including Mr. Obama's predecessor.

-However far down and in disarray the Republican Party is, we have seen time and again that there can be a huge bounceback in the next national elections.  Illustratively, when Lyndon Johnson obliterated Barry Goldwater in 1964, Democrats went from an already-prodigious 258-176 majority in the house of representatives to a huge 295-140 advantage.  Republicans were pulverized altogether.  But in 1966,  just two years later, they got it all back and then some, at 248-187.

This is not in any way to suggest Republicans can win a majority in 2010, any more than they did in 1966.  It is to say that they can come back strongly and regain a lot of the influence they lost last November.

Those points aside, however, Mr. Holland does an excellent job of outlining just how far down the "imperial road" President Obama has gone.  And do you doubt that he will travel even further down that road? 

Do yourself a favor and don't doubt it at all.  An ego this big needs a road that long.


JACKASS JOE BIDEN STRIKES AGAIN

Ken Berwitz

I call him Jackass Joe Biden.  And no one ever earned a title more.

Here, from the Associated Press, is another of the seemingly countless reasons to do so:

After his flu warning, Biden takes the train home

May 1, 9:16 PM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - One day after saying he wouldn't travel in tight quarters because of the swine flu scare, Vice President Joe Biden rode a train Friday from Washington to Delaware.

Known for speaking freely, Biden told NBC's "Today" show on Thursday that he had urged family members to avoid airplanes and subways for fear of contracting the H1N1 flu virus.

"I wouldn't go anywhere in confined places now," Biden said.

The comments infuriated the travel industry and triggered several revisions from the Obama administration, whose official advice is less severe.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano commented, "If he could say that over again, he would say if they're feeling sick, they should stay off of public transit or confined spaces."

By Friday night, Biden seemed ready for his own do-over. A longtime rider of Amtrak, he took a train from Union Station to his Delaware home, his office said.

This, of course, is the same Joe Biden who, during his debate with Governor Palin of Alaska, demonstrated a total ignorance of what the job of Vice President entails and mangled where it was mentioned in the constitution to boot***.  So why would we expect him to show any consistency or logic when it comes to swine flu?

On this one I give him a hee-haw....and an oink too.

-----------------------------------------------------

***Biden stated that Dick Cheney was wrong to call the Vice President's duties legislative and sarcastically referred him to Article I of the constitution.  He also said that the Vice President presides over the senate in case there is a tie vote in that body. 

In reality, Article I of the constitution talks exclusively about the legislative branch.  And it states that the Vice President always presides over the senate and only votes in case of a tie, just as Mr. Cheney said.  Its exact words:

"The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate, but shall have no vote, unless they be equally divided"

Nice of our wonderful "neutral" media to give Biden a free ride on his amazing ignorance of the job he was seeking, while skewering Palin for anything she said wrong, big or small. 

And nice of them to continue the fun by doing little other than affectionately referring to him as a "gaffe machine", instead of demanding an explanation of why he was put a heartbeat from the presidency. 

Of course if media did that, they might also have to explain why Biden's amazing combination of ignorance, arrogance and boastfulness was not fully reported and explored before the election.  That explains it pretty well, wouldn't you say?

free` From the article>>."The comments infuriated the travel industry and triggered several revisions from the Obama administration" <<. Revisions, what a nice way to say LIES. I have notice that this white houses first reaction to a mistake is to lie about it. (05/02/09)


GARBAGE & ENERGY

Ken Berwitz

I have no idea of whether what you are about to read is realistic, or just a fantasy cooked up by a dreamer and/or scam artist.  But since there is a lot of money involved, and the benefits, if real, are monumental, I want you to see it.

From the Ottawa (Canada) Sun:

Garbage in, energy out

Last Updated: 2nd May 2009, 5:05am

The city and Plasco are within weeks of signing a long-term contract, despite several delays with the seemingly too-good-to-be-true project.

The project, which uses intense heat to turn garbage into energy, is at least six months behind.

Those delays have cost Plasco about $15 million on top of the original $100-million investment, says Rod Bryden, the man behind the innovative project.

In turn, Bryden knows those problems have fueled rumours that Plasco is nothing but a pipe dream and will never deliver on its lofty promises.

But according to Bryden, rumours of its demise are just that.

Bryden doesn't pretend there haven't been problems, and he understands the persistent scepticism.

RUNNING BEHIND

"I think the principle reason you hear rumours that Plasco is in trouble, or has trouble, is that we expected, and the community expected, for us to be finished the testing and running routinely at least six months ago," Bryden says without skipping a beat.

"Certainly we are later than we intended to be. We are late and that always makes people worried," he continued.

Plasco uses a patented high-heat gasification process to convert municipal solid waste to energy, selling off the finished product to Hydro Ottawa.

Delays at Plasco's Trail Rd. facility were caused by malfunctioning machinery and not problems with the technology behind its groundbreaking waste-to-energy conversion process, Bryden explained.

One of those mechanical problems was with the movement of materials through the bottom of the initial chamber where the waste is deposited.

"That has been an aggravation for us. It's not a technically complex part of the system, but we need it to run 24 hours.

"Until we are satisfied we can initially run in a totally predictable way, we can't say it's totally finished," he said.

"We're feeling good about where we are, the system is working well now well."

At the present time, the plant is running typically between 12 and 16 hours a day, still with plans to move it up to 24 hours a day.

For his part, city manager Kent Kirkpatrick seems to accept the issues that have caused delays for Plasco don't signal the end of the high hopes for the project.

Instead, he says it's not surprising that with the trials and testing, issues have arisen -- and then they are dealt with.

"This is all very high level. It all depends on who you're talking to and what the expectations were, how quickly it would be brought to a successful conclusion. Part of it might have been created by what Plasco was saying, and it might have seen as overly optimistic," Kirkpatrick said.

RELIABILITY

"This has always been about how the pieces of the process work, always worked in different applications, uniqueness of what they're proposed, and make them consistently and reliable enough," he added.

"There was a great deal of disappointment we didn't finish when we said we would, but we'll be able to move along fairly rapidly now. In fact, we're working on contract arrangements with the city, along with other communities," he said, adding it's a complicated deal involving future revenues, outside contracts and Plasco's ability to turn Ottawa garbage into energy.

Bryden said he hopes the contracts can be signed within two months.

Converting solid waste to energy would be a dream come true - right up there with converting water to combustible fuel.

Well, the Weitzmann institute in Israel is currently making progress on the latter, so why not Plasco's attempt to turn solid waste into an energy source?

Will either of these dreams really pan out?  Beats me.  But we can hope, can't we?


BIDEN'S UNDERSTANDING OF THE VICE PRESIDENCY

Ken Berwitz

In my previous blog I pointed out how ignorant Joe Biden was regarding the Vice Presidency, and made reference to what he said during his debate with Governor Palin. 

Just in case anyone doubts this,my accuracy, I am posting a verbatim transcript of what Ms. Palin and Mr. Biden actually said about the Vice Presidency.  (NOTE:  I have left in the unrelated dialogue as well, on the grounds that if nothing is left out there is no doubt about either completeness or context).  The bold print is mine:

PALIN: No, no. Of course, we know what a vice president does. And that's not only to preside over the Senate and will take that position very seriously also. I'm thankful the Constitution would allow a bit more authority given to the vice president if that vice president so chose to exert it in working with the Senate and making sure that we are supportive of the president's policies and making sure too that our president understands what our strengths are. John McCain and I have had good conversations about where I would lead with his agenda. That is energy independence in America and reform of government over all, and then working with families of children with special needs. That's near and dear to my heart also. In those arenas, John McCain has already tapped me and said, that's where I want you, I want you to lead. I said, I can't wait to get and there go to work with you.

IFILL: Senator?

BIDEN: Gwen, I hope we'll get back to education because I don't know any government program that John is supporting, not early education, more money for it. The reason No Child Left Behind was left behind, the money was left behind, we didn't fund it. We can get back to that I assume.

With regard to the role of vice president, I had a long talk, as I'm sure the governor did with her principal, in my case with Barack. Let me tell you what Barack asked me to do. I have a history of getting things done in the United States Senate. John McCain would acknowledge that. My record shows that on controversial issues.

I would be the point person for the legislative initiatives in the United States Congress for our administration. I would also, when asked if I wanted a portfolio, my response was, no. But Barack Obama indicated to me he wanted me with him to help him govern. So every major decision he'll be making, I'll be sitting in the room to give my best advice. He's president, not me, I'll give my best advice.

And one of the things he said early on when he was choosing, he said he picked someone who had an independent judgment and wouldn't be afraid to tell him if he disagreed. That is sort of my reputation, as you know. I look forward to working with Barack and playing a very constructive role in his presidency, bringing about the kind of change this country needs.

IFILL: Governor, you mentioned a moment ago the constitution might give the vice president more power than it has in the past. Do you believe as Vice President Cheney does, that the Executive Branch does not hold complete sway over the office of the vice presidency, that it it is also a member of the Legislative Branch?

PALIN: Well, our founding fathers were very wise there in allowing through the Constitution much flexibility there in the office of the vice president. And we will do what is best for the American people in tapping into that position and ushering in an agenda that is supportive and cooperative with the president's agenda in that position. Yeah, so I do agree with him that we have a lot of flexibility in there, and we'll do what we have to do to administer very appropriately the plans that are needed for this nation. And it is my executive experience that is partly to be attributed to my pick as V.P. with McCain, not only as a governor, but earlier on as a mayor, as an oil and gas regulator, as a business owner. It is those years of experience on an executive level that will be put to good use in the White House also.

IFILL: Vice President Cheney's interpretation of the vice presidency?

BIDEN: Vice President Cheney has been the most dangerous vice president we've had probably in American history. The idea he doesn't realize that Article I of the Constitution defines the role of the vice president of the United States, that's the Executive Branch. He works in the Executive Branch. He should understand that. Everyone should understand that.

And the primary role of the vice president of the United States of America is to support the president of the United States of America, give that president his or her best judgment when sought, and as vice president, to preside over the Senate, only in a time when in fact there's a tie vote. The Constitution is explicit.

The only authority the vice president has from the legislative standpoint is the vote, only when there is a tie vote. He has no authority relative to the Congress. The idea he's part of the Legislative Branch is a bizarre notion invented by Cheney to aggrandize the power of a unitary executive and look where it has gotten us. It has been very dangerous.

Forgetting Biden's personal insult to Dick Cheney, take a good look at what he said about the duties of the Vice Presidency.  As noted in the previous blog:

-Biden was 100% wrong when he referenced Article I of the constitution.  Article I defines the LEGISLATIVE branch.  Not the executive branch.  In other words, "Dangerous Dick" Cheney was right;

-Biden was also 100% wrong in claiming that the only time a Vice President presides over the senate is when there is a tie vote.  The Vice President always presides over the senate - even if, in practice, he/she often turns the job over to someone else. 

In fairness, Biden was right when he said that the constitution is explicit about this.  Unfortunately for him, it explicitly shows that he didn't know what the hell he was talking about.

Ironic, isn't it?  Sarah Palin, running for 36 days (give or take), knew more about the Vice Presidency than Joe Biden, a United States Senator for 36 years.

Not for nothing do I call him Jackass Joe.

free` I think that example shows how powerful the media is. The media declared biden the winner and that Palin was a rube and that is what the public ended up thinking. Very sad, the media has shown over and over they are not deserving of that power. (05/02/09)

WisOldMan This was a great piece of work...well done, Ken. (05/03/09)


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