Thursday, 21 May 2009

PRESIDENT OBAMA'S PRIORITIES

Ken Berwitz

John  Hinderaker, who writes for www.powerlineblog.com, has put up a short little comparison of President Obama's concern for drivers versus his concern for terrorists who want us all dead.  It is just two paragraphs long, but it is also right on target and absolutely devastating.

Here is John's commentary, without further comment from me:

A Contrast

May 20, 2009 Posted by John at 7:06 PM

With a stroke of the pen, Barack Obama has imposed higher fuel-economy standards on the American auto industry. Those standards can only be met by making the average car smaller and lighter than consumers prefer. The inevitable result is that thousands of innocent Americans, possibly tens of thousands, will die painful and sometimes fiery deaths, while many thousands more will be seriously injured. This prospect apparently gave Obama no pause whatsoever. He has never so much as hinted that he sees a moral dimension in the trade-off between human life and reduced carbon emissions.

On the other hand, Obama sees the brief and physically harmless discomfort of three terrorists as posing a moral crisis of almost unparalleled dimension, necessitating endless apology and hand-wringing. The contrast in Obama's priorities is striking, to say the least. I would submit that this is what happens when you substitute preening for intelligent policy-making.

 


HELEN THOMAS ON THE OBAMA/NETANYAHU MEETING

Ken Berwitz

Helen Thomas is a classic example of someone who is finished before she is done (i.e. she is over the hill but doesn't know when to stop).

I know Ms. Thomas  has been around for a long time.  And maybe years and years ago she was a different person.  But she is what she is now.  And now she is finished, but not done.

Here is Thomas' latest column, on the meeting between President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  I've put my two cents in at various points.  I'm the one in blue.  Read it and see what I mean:

Obama Plunges Into The Mideast Powder Keg

White House Talks Do Not Produce Agreement

Helen Thomas, Hearst White House columnist

POSTED: 12:09 pm EDT May 21, 2009

UPDATED: 12:43 pm EDT May 21, 2009

 

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu got together officially this week for the first time, but their talks failed to win agreement on how to solve perennial Middle East problems.

 

They managed to agree on a common concern that Iran is secretly developing nuclear weapons.

 

In meeting with the hawkish Netanyahu, Obama agreed that a nuclear-armed Iran was unacceptable. He warned that the diplomatic talks he was initiating to halt Irans program would not continue forever, and he roughly set a one-year deadline for the dialogue

 

The president also said he wouldnt foreclose "a range of steps" if Iran did not cooperate. His statement was interpreted to mean that all options were on the table -- including military strikes.

 

Is Obama toughening his dovish campaign foreign policy?

 

Obama failed to get Netanyahu to agree to the creation of a Palestinian state. The president did, however, throw the Israeli leader the usual bone by referring to the "special relationship" between the U.S. and Israel. The president also said "when it comes to my policies towards Israel and the Middle East . . . Israels security is paramount."  Er, earth to Thomas:  The USA and Israel have enjoyed a special relationship for just about as long as Israel has existed; one that benefits both sides greatly.  Israel benefits from the strength and standing of the USA and its aid.  The USA benefits from what the Mossad, arguably the single most successful intelligence operation in the world, uncovers about both Israels neighbors and their major-power benefactors.  The USA also benefits by having a democracy in the Middle east with western culture.

 

He didnt mention anything about the Palestinians security.  The Palestinians subvert their own security by plainly telling anyone who will listen that they intend to end Israels existence, while sitting by and allowing Israel to be shelled from Gaza and Judea/Samaria (the west bank) virtually every day.  Israel has every right to retaliate for this ongoing assault.  If Helen Thomas doesnt know this she isnt listening or looking.  Or maybe she just doesn't want to know.

 

Although each leader worked at being nice during Netanyahus White House visit, there are concrete differences between the U.S. president and the Israeli hardliner.

 

Netanyahu went beyond the customary demand that Palestinians recognize the existence of Israel -- a weary refrain since the late Yasser Arafat recognized Israel, paving the way for negotiations dating back to the Carter era.   BS and double BS.  arafat was a serial liar who nobody trusted, not even his own people (remember those billions he stole that his wife had control over?).  If Palestinian Arabs recognize Israel, how come their childrens textbooks do not show its existence not one square inch of it?  Thats some recognition", let me tell you.  Can Helen Thomas possibly be this nave?  Evidently the answer is yes.  Or maybe this is ok with her.

 

Now Netanyahu has added a new wrinkle. He says Israel has to be recognized as a "Jewish state," a term that carries an enormous meaning and leaves the Arabs in Israel at a disadvantage.   Is that so?  And does Ms. Thomas have any problem with Palestinian Arabs demanding that Gaza and the west bank be entirely free of Jews?  Israel has 1.4 million Arabs living as citizens within its borders and enjoying full rights of citizenship.  How many Jews do you think would be allowed to live in a country of "Palestine" with full rights of citizenship?  Thomas' selectivity of concern is remarkable - unless you assume she cares a lot more about Arabs than Jews.  Then it makes complete sense.

 

Under Israels occupation for three decades, the Palestinians have been suppressed by the Israeli military and forced to pass through Israeli checkpoints. Thousands of Palestinian refugees have been living in camps for years.   Israel has checkpoints because Palestinian Arabs, as a matter of written policy, intend to vaporize Israel and its Jewish citizens.  What would she like them to do, put out a welcome mat?  As far as living in camps, after 60 years of whining about those camps, it is clear to anyone who bothers to think that they are no longer camps, they are residences.  Maybe if the 21 Arab states which refuse to offer Palestinian Arabs the right to emigrate and become citizens would change their policy, these camp dwellers would have somewhere else to go.  But they hate Palestinian Arabs - their own brethren -too much to offer them a home.  Fascinating that 21 out of 22 Arab states tell Palestinian Arabs they're not welcome (only Jordan allows them in - and only a trickle), but the culprit, in Thomas' warped view, is Israel.

 

It is interesting that Netanyahu said he wanted "to make it clear that we do not want to govern the Palestinians" but he did not mention a separate Palestinian state, which Western leaders see as the only solution to the continuing strife in the region. Netanyahu and most Israelis want there to be a separate Palestinian state.  Fervently.  But the problem is that it has to be a state that will peacefully coexist with Israel.  What basis have Palestinian Arabs given Israel to believe they are prepared to do so?  When will the shelling of Israel stop?  When will the government-run childrens TV programming stop defaming Jews and telling young children how glorious it would be for them to die as martyrs by killing Jews?  When that ends maybe there will be a realistic hope for peaceful coexistence.  Until then there isn't.

 

Obama is continuing his search for peace in the Middle East by meeting a parade of so-called moderate Arab leaders, including Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak; Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas and Jordanian King Abdallah. Obama then travels to Egypt next month to deliver a speech billed as a major address to the Muslim world.

 

In a new twist, there is speculation that the U.S. and Israel are seeking an alliance against Iran with those countries. Under this theory, the U.S. would line up against Syria, Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah in Lebanon, all of which have ties with Iran. Divide and conquer.

 

American presidents have played a big role in the Middle East since the creation of Israel and not always in an even-handed way -- if such an approach were possible.

 

Meanwhile, Obama has picked up the cudgels.

 

"The Palestinians are going to have to do a better job of providing the kinds of security that Israelis would need to achieve a two-state solution," he said. "The other Arab states have to be more supportive and be bolder in seeking potential normalization with Israel," he added.

 

Obama also said "Israel is going to have to take some difficult steps as well." He made it clear that Israel must stop constructing settlements in the West Bank in order to move ahead with negotiations.

 

Obama is already immersed in two wars bequeathed by the Bush administration. He should not pull America into another war in the Middle East.   If Iran gets a nuclear capability, and Israel fears that it will be used on them (how can they not, since ahmadinejad stated, in so many words, that he wanted Israel wiped off the face of the earth), the USA is going to be in a war whether it wants to be or not.  So will everyone will be.  The time to do something about it is now.  Giving Iran "another year" does nothing except increase the likelihood of a confrontation.


KEITH OLBERMANN DANCES TO THE LIMBAUGH ROCK!!!

Ken Berwitz

And I thought Chris Matthews fell for The Limbaugh Rock?  Wow.  Next to keith olbermann, Matthews was the savviest guy around.

I'm not usually given to predictions, but I predicted that when Rush Limbaugh challenged the MSNBC "talent" to not use his name for 30 days, he would unleash a torrent of abuse aimed at him by that "talent".  I also noted that this is exactly what Limbaugh wanted.  I called it "The Limbaugh Rock" - a play on Limbo Rock, Chubby Checker's 1962 hit.

My exact words:

You've just got to know what's happening here, don't you?

By tossing down this gauntlet, Limbaugh has virtually assured himself of intense (and intensely negative) MSNBC coverage for the next month.  But the more Matthews and Schultz and olbermann and Maddow and Schuster attack him, the more he will play it up on his show and the higher his already-#1 ratings will go.

You may or may not like what Rush Limbaugh has to say.  But don't doubt his promotional skills for even one second.

It's The Limbaugh Rock!

 And what do I think of its beat?  I think its got MSNBC beat.  Like a drum.

Chris "ego as big as the sky" Matthews was first up at 5PM, and he fell for it completely.  I didn't watch the rest of MSNBC's programming last night for three reasons:  1) It is so one-dimensionally partisan that it bores me, 2) There was a Yankee game on and 3) (the real reason) my wife, er, requested that I take her to the mall. 

If you're married long enough you know how to distinguish between requests that you can say yes or no to and requests that are roughly like the IRS requesting that you show up for an audit.  This particular request had a heavy lean toward the latter, so off we went.

In any event, I just clicked on www.mediabistro.com to see if keith olbermann, whose ego makes Matthews' look self deprecating by comparison, fell for The Limbaugh Rock too.   Here is its story:

Wednesday, May 20

Olbermann Mentions Rush Limbaugh's Name, Over and Over Again

So, Rush Limbaugh did not get his wish.

 

MSNBC mentioned his name more than a few times during the day. But the Rush rush really began in earnest with the political shows - first Hardball, then the Ed Show, and culminating with tonight's WTF segment on Countdown. But Keith Olbermann didn't just go after the king of talk radio, he went after the crown prince too (sorry Sean).

 

Glenn Beck's sad end. Pecked to death, carcass consumed, nothing left but the veneers from his teeth, in only six minutes, by the hosts of "The View."

 

But even more titanic than this: Rush Limbaugh's startling admission that he cannot take it any more, that this network's coverage of him has not only gotten to him, but gotten to him to a point perhaps never reached before by any other megalomaniac. He has suddenly gone all Greta Garbo on us.

 

Olbermann went on to excoriate Limbaugh, calling him "a human Federal Disaster Area" and concluding that his "fixation" with the Clinton/Lewinsky affair somehow delayed "a serious discussion of terrorism before terrorism hit."

Okay.

 

Olbermann concluded with his own promise: "I will go 30 days on this program without referencing what has been done, or said, or boasted about, by Rush Limbaugh. Provided you go 30 days on your program without mentioning what has been done, or said, or boasted about by... Rush Limbaugh. Hannity would last longer on the waterboard."

 

Let the name calling - or not name calling - continue.

 

> Related: After watching tonight's segment DailyKos blogger Ipsos writes, "Is it possible that Rush Limbaugh, whatever he may have meant by his proposal for a moratorium on his MSNBC appearances, might actually have been on to something?"

Leave it to keith olbermann, egotist par excellence, to see this as "Rush Limbaugh's startling admission that he cannot take it any more, that this network's coverage of him has not only gotten to him, but gotten to him a point perhaps never reached before by any other megalomaniac..."

My god, what a hopeless boob olbermann is.  He is being played for an all-day sucker by Limbaugh and doesn't even know it. 

It's The Limbaugh Rock!!!


UNEMPLOYMENT: THE NEW MATH

Ken Berwitz

The Congressional Budget Office just released its guesstimates for unemployment over the next year and a half.  Here they are, courtesy of Reuters:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. economy will likely start growing again in the second half of this year but unemployment will likely keep rising through 2010 to peak over 10 percent, the Congressional Budget Office said on Thursday.

"The growth in output later this year and next year is likely to be sufficiently weak that the unemployment rate will probably continue to rise into the second half of next year and peak above 10 percent," CBO Director Douglas Elmendorf said in prepared testimony to the U.S. House Budget Committee.

It will likely take several years for the unemployment rate to fall back to levels seen before the recession hit, in the neighborhood of 5 percent, he said in the prepared remarks.

Just this week, after a loss of 1.3 million jobs since the "stimuless" package was passed into law, the Obama administration claimed it had given us 150,000 additional jobs. 

Minus 1,300,000 =  plus150,000.  Must be the new math.

If you like the way that looks, you'll love whatever additional math  "techniques" will have to be employed to show a job increase if the CBO is right.

Do these people have even a passing acquaintance with honesty?.


THE TODAY SHOW'S AMAZINGLY BAD TASTE IN STORY SELECTION

Ken Berwitz

I would not have believed the Today Show would demonstrate the level of amazingly bad taste necessary to air this story (which you can see by clicking here, then clicking the "Watch the show" link).  But I guess they just couldn't resist.

The story, which Today gave full-feature status to (almost 5 minutes in the first hour of the show), is that 11 months ago, in Texas, a woman gave birth to twins, with each child from a different father.

Yes, you read it right.  Twins, with two different fathers. 

The second I heard Today's teaser about this story I said to myself "Please, don't make the mother and her children Black.  It will "confirm" a stereotype about Black people that is not going to do anyone any good".

Well, unfortunately the mother and children are Black.  And to compound things, the mother went on camera to matter-of-factly say that one was the child of her fianc and the other was the child of, as she put it, "someone else". 

That makes her a slut, a cheater on her fianc, the mother of at least two out-of-wedlock children --- and someone who seemingly has no problem with any of this, it's just fine with her.

david duke could not have written a more damning story line.

Oh, one more thing.  The woman also announced, just as proudly, that she was expecting another child with her fianc (I wonder if she knows for sure that he is the father).  And her interview ends with her and the fianc sitting on a couch with not just two children, but three - which suggests that somewhere along the way she had at least one more child, presumably also out of wedlock.

What was the Today show thinking?  Was it that important to air this story?  Do the producers and on-air personalities hate Black people?  Why else would they would put this on and solidify negative stereotypes about Blacks this way? 

Hey, maybe next week they can find an Irish guy who was arrested for drunk and disorderly twice in the same day, or a Jewish guy who has been cited dozens of times for not providing running water to the slum tenements he owns, or an Italian guy who wears 42 gold chains with dice, horses and a big cross in the middle. 

Why not?  If Today is going to do overtly stereotypical stories, why stop at Blacks? 

What are they, racists?


WHO DID AND DIDN'T SIGN THE LETTER TO BARACK OBAMA?

Ken Berwitz

Yesterday we were told that 76 senators and 195 house members signed a letter admonishing President Obama on his policy toward Iran and stressing the need to take into account the risks Israel will face in any peace agreement.

It is now over a day later, and I am still scouring the internet to find out who did and did not sign the letter.

Why is this information being withheld?


MICHELLE MALKIN ON THE "DUELLING SPEECHES"

Ken Berwitz

Michelle Malkin has an excellent take on the speeches that President Obama and former Vice President Cheney made today on the war on terrorism (as Cheney calls it) versus the war on man-made disasters (as the Obama administration calls it).

Truth is, you can stop at those descriptions and know who is more serious about fighting radical Islam.  But I'll let Ms. Malkin fill in any blanks that might remain:

Dueling banjos in Washington; Updated

By Michelle Malkin    May 21, 2009 08:50 AM

Scroll for updates

 

Its the Obama-Cheney showdown this morning. I, for one, am gratified to see this White House forced to put national security on the front burner. If not for the forceful public defenses by Vice President Cheney of the aggressive, proactive measures the last administration took to keep us safe, the current commander-in-chief would be happily gabbling about solar panels and weatherization subsidies or somesuch.

 

National security is and always will be the Democrats soft spot. And they know it.

 

Which is why Team Obama scrambled to preempt Cheneys AEI speech.

 

Which is why the same Senate Democrats who cheered so lustily when Obama declared his Gitmo closure date turned around and denied him the funds to implement it.

 

Which is why Obama is embracing the very same principles of preventive detention that the Left went bananas over for the past eight years.

 

And which is why you woke up this morning to news of one of countless terror busts whose results were, ahem, inherited by the Obama administration.

 

The men and women who worked tirelessly the past eight years to prevent and disrupt jihadist plots at home and abroad arent the ones whove lost their way.

 

Its the unreality-grounded civil rights absolutists, grievance-mongers, and 9/10 juveniles who have been and remain, in Andrew McCarthys apt description, willfully blind.

 

***

Related thoughts from Meghan Clyne in the NYPost on national security and the SCOTUS wars:

A poll released this week shows Democrats have closed the gap with Republicans on national security. There are few media circuses like Supreme Court hearings and if the GOP seizes the spotlight to focus attention on some of the lefts more bizarre and dangerous legal theories on the War on Terror, it can only work to its advantage.

 

After all, by placing terrorism center stage, they might just accomplish one more thing: reminding Washington, and the American people, that we are still at war. With a Democratic supermajority in the Senate, its unlikely that Republicans will be able to block Obamas nominee, no matter how unappealing. Yet if they can use the Souter vacancy to show that the War on Terror isnt just about preening lawyers, but a real battle fought by real Americans whom a lot of judges are endangering . . . well, there are worse things to get out of a confirmation hearing.

***

Update: Here is the text of Cheneys speech.

 

Cliff Notes version of Obamas speech: I blame Bush (but, uh, I will follow his lost way on preventive detention. Just in a kinder, gentler, more, uh, moral way).

 

Update: I second Kathy Shaidle on Dick Cheneys speech:

 

Cheneys speech was the best speech of the Bush administration. Too bad it was months/years late.

Well done, Michelle.  And Kathy you couldn't be more correct.


MEDIA-PROTECTED JIHADISTS

Ken Berwitz

From Charles Johnson at www.littlegreenfootballs.com:

Four US Muslims Arrested in Synagogue Bombing Plot

US News | Wed, May 20, 2009 at 9:07:34 pm PDT

Four US citizens have been arrested in upstate New York after an FBI sting operation; I had to search Google News for information on the suspects because most US media are concealing the fact that theyre Muslims connected to a mosque in Newburgh: Four Arrested Over Plot To Bomb Synagogue.

Four men have been arrested in a suspected plot to bomb a New York synagogue and shoot down military aircraft.

They had been sold an inactive missile and inert explosives by an FBI informant, US officials said.

A statement from the district attorney said the charges related to an alleged plot to plant explosives near a synagogue in the Riverdale area of the Bronx.

It also allegedly included a plan to shoot down planes at the New York Air National Guard Base at Stewart Airport, Newburgh using Stinger surface-to-air guided missiles, the statement added.

The suspects have been named as James Cromitie, also known as Abdul Rahman; David Williams, also known as Daoud or DL; Onta Williams, also called Hamza; and Laguerre Payen, who also used the names Amin and Almondo.

The complaint alleges Cromitie told the informant he was angry over the war in Afghanistan when they met in June 2008. He expressed an interest in doing something to America, the complaint added.

UPDATE at 5/20/09 9:10:47 pm:

Not a word about the militant Islamic connection in this report at New Yorks WCBS TV: 4 Arrested In Plot To Bomb NYC Temple.

The Associated Press report just contains one hint of the connection: 4 arrested in plot to bomb NYC temple.

In June 2008, the informant met Cromitie in Newburgh and Cromitie complained that his parents had lived in Afghanistan and he was upset about the war there and that many Muslim people were being killed in Afghanistan and Pakistan by U.S. military forces, officials said.

Are these people nuts?  Do they think they are engaged in some kind of good works to protect jihadists from being defined as jihadists?

What is the point of this?  To make people complacent so that they will more easily be attacked again? 

Give me another reason.  Please.  I desperately want one, but can't come up with it on my own.


IS THAT THING SUPPOSED TO BE PUNCH OR JUDY?

Ken Berwitz

Here is another episode of "you can't make this stuff up"

Pants-less puppeteer charged with indecent exposure

Jim Henson he's not.

A 44-year-old man was arrested earlier this month after witnesses at a Federal Way apartment complex spotted him using his genitals as a puppet.

Prosecutors have now charged Timothy Wayne Martin, of Auburn, with felony indecent exposure.

At issue, according to court documents, was a May 13 incident during which Martin was spotted by residents of the Arcadia Apartment Complex standing partially nude over an air conditioner intake.

Clad only in an unbuttoned flannel shirt, Martin appeared to have attached a string to his genitals and "was apparently manipulating it with the string like a puppet," according to police.

When Martin was arrested at the scene minutes after the 10:30 a.m. incident, the string was still attached, police contend. Prosecutors say he was also in possession of a small quantity of methamphetamine, as well as a pornographic magazine.

Due to two similar convictions, Martin was charged under the state's felony indecent exposure statute. He remains confined at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent on $25,000 bail.

All I can say is, if he ever puts on a performance of Pinnocchio, move back when the lead character starts lying.


TODAY'S PRIORITIES (& THE NEW YORK TIMES TOO)

Ken Berwitz

Earlier today I blogged about the Today show doing a major story on a woman who had twins, with each of the children from a different father.

Here's a story Today didn't cover at all. 

From Reuters:

Democrat fundraiser guilty of illegal donations

Tue May 19, 2009 2:07pm EDT

By Christine Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A former U.S. Democratic Party fundraiser whose 2007 arrest prompted Hillary Clinton to return $850,000 in campaign contributions was found guilty on Tuesday of breaking federal campaign laws.

Businessman Norman Hsu, 58, was convicted by a jury in federal court in New York of violating election laws by making donations to political campaigns in other people's names. Hsu also pleaded guilty on May 7 to charges of mail fraud and wire fraud in running a Ponzi scheme of up to $60 million.

Jurors convicted Hsu of violating four counts of federal election law between 2004 and 2007. During the trial, prosecutors said Hsu pressured some of the investors involved in his Ponzi scheme to make thousands of dollars in contributions to political candidates on his behalf.

Under U.S. law, an individual can give only up to $25,000 to federal candidates in a calendar year.

Sentencing was set for August 19. The Hong Kong-born Hsu faces more than 30 years in prison for running the Ponzi scheme and an additional maximum of five years for each of the illegal campaign contribution charges.

A voicemail recording was played to the jury in which Clinton, then a U.S. senator from New York and now the U.S. secretary of state, praised Hsu for his support. Hsu's arrest in September 2007 prompted Clinton's presidential campaign to return contributions linked to Hsu.

Clinton lost her bid for her party's presidential nomination last year to Barack Obama. She now serves as a prominent member of her former rival's Cabinet.

Hsu's lawyer said several former investors testified against Hsu in order to avoid being criminally charged.

In January 2008, Hsu also was sentenced to three years in prison in California for his role in a different business fraud.

Remember Jack Abramoff?  He was covered intensely by Today and the rest of our wonderful "neutral" media --- until it started coming out that, albeit at lesser levels, he made contributions to Democrats as well as Republicans (Harry Reid prominent among them, through an Indian tribe client).  That was about when the coverage quickly faded.

Now we have the conviction of a man who gave $850,000 in dirty money to former first lady, senator, presidential candidate and now Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?  Today's coverage?  Nonexistent.

And the New York Times?  Was Norman Hsu on the front page?  Was his conviction a major story on the National News page?  Nope and nope.  Just a short Associated Press dispatch in the NY/Regional section. 

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


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