Saturday, 05 September 2009


Ken Berwitz

This is Charles Krauthammer's latest column.  It is posted without further comment, because it is so complete and so accurate that it doesn't need even one word more:

Obama, the Mortal

By Charles Krauthammer
Friday, September 4, 2009


What happened to President Obama? His wax wings having melted, he is the man who fell to earth. What happened to bring his popularity down further than that of any new president in polling history save Gerald Ford (post-Nixon pardon)?


The conventional wisdom is that Obama made a tactical mistake by farming out his agenda to Congress and allowing himself to be pulled left by the doctrinaire liberals of the Democratic congressional leadership. But the idea of Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi pulling Obama left is quite ridiculous. Where do you think he came from, this friend of Chvista ex-terrorist William Ayers, of PLO apologist Rashid Khalidi, of racialist inciter Jeremiah Wright?


But forget the character witnesses. Just look at Obama's behavior as president, beginning with his first address to Congress. Unbidden, unforced and unpushed by the congressional leadership, Obama gave his most deeply felt vision of America, delivering the boldest social democratic manifesto ever issued by a U.S. president. In American politics, you can't get more left than that speech and still be on the playing field.


In a center-right country, that was problem enough. Obama then compounded it by vastly misreading his mandate. He assumed it was personal. This, after winning by a mere seven points in a year of true economic catastrophe, of an extraordinarily unpopular Republican incumbent, and of a politically weak and unsteady opponent. Nonetheless, Obama imagined that, as Fouad Ajami so brilliantly observed, he had won the kind of banana-republic plebiscite that grants caudillo-like authority to remake everything in one's own image.


Accordingly, Obama unveiled his plans for a grand makeover of the American system, animating that vision by enacting measure after measure that greatly enlarged state power, government spending and national debt. Not surprisingly, these measures engendered powerful popular skepticism that burst into tea-party town-hall resistance.

Obama's reaction to that resistance made things worse. Obama fancies himself tribune of the people, spokesman for the grass roots, harbinger of a new kind of politics from below that would upset the established lobbyist special-interest order of Washington. Yet faced with protests from a real grass-roots movement, his party and his supporters called it a mob -- misinformed, misled, irrational, angry, unhinged, bordering on racist. All this while the administration was cutting backroom deals with every manner of special interest -- from drug companies to auto unions to doctors -- in which favors worth billions were quietly and opaquely exchanged.


"Get out of the way" and "don't do a lot of talking," the great bipartisan scolded opponents whom he blamed for creating the "mess" from which he is merely trying to save us. If only they could see. So with boundless confidence in his own persuasiveness, Obama undertook a summer campaign to enlighten the masses by addressing substantive objections to his reforms.


Things got worse still. With answers so slippery and implausible and, well, fishy, he began jeopardizing the most fundamental asset of any new president -- trust. You can't say that the system is totally broken and in need of radical reconstruction, but nothing will change for you; that Medicare is bankrupting the country, but $500 billion in cuts will have no effect on care; that you will expand coverage while reducing deficits -- and not inspire incredulity and mistrust. When ordinary citizens understand they are being played for fools, they bristle.


After a disastrous summer -- mistaking his mandate, believing his press, centralizing power, governing left, disdaining citizens for (of all things) organizing -- Obama is in trouble.


Let's be clear: This is a fall, not a collapse. He's not been repudiated or even defeated. He will likely regroup and pass some version of health insurance reform that will restore some of his clout and popularity.


But what has occurred -- irreversibly -- is this: He's become ordinary. The spell is broken. The charismatic conjurer of 2008 has shed his magic. He's regressed to the mean, tellingly expressed in poll numbers hovering at 50 percent.


For a man who only recently bred a cult, ordinariness is a great burden, and for his acolytes, a crushing disappointment. Obama has become a politician like others. And like other flailing presidents, he will try to salvage a cherished reform -- and his own standing -- with yet another prime-time speech.


But for the first time since election night in Grant Park, he will appear in the most unfamiliar of guises -- mere mortal, a treacherous transformation to which a man of Obama's supreme self-regard may never adapt.



Ken Berwitz

With a tip of my (nonexistent) hat to the late, great, Jimmy Cannon, here are some random thoughts in no particular order:

-We were in Williamsburg, Virginia for several days this week, and spent several hours at the Jamestown Fort.  It would have been very interesting under any circumstances, but the enthusiastic, enormously knowledgeable volunteer guide we spoke to really brought the history of the fort and its inhabitants to life.  His name is Fritz Mueller.  If you happen to go there, look for him.  You won't regret it.

-On the way home, while driving on Rte. 95, we ran into a lot of traffic between DC and Baltimore, It was caused by a combination of lots of cars and lots of road work.  Since it was also around 4PM (the beginning of "rush hour") we could have been in a huge traffic jam for a long period of time. 

So we took the Rte 895 bypass - a 12 mile stretch that runs parallel to Rte 95, through the inner harbor tunnel rather than the Fort McHenry Tunnel, and merges back into Rte. 95 several miles north of Baltimore.  What a great end-around!  No more than light to moderate traffic for the whole 12 miles.  I'll bet we saved ourselves a half hour.

-Wouldn't you like to see a list of who the 32 "czars" are that President Obama appointed without any vetting process?  Wouldn't you like to know how much they earn, how much of the government they hold dominon over, and see a thumbnail sketch of their backgrounds? 

You'll grow old waiting for our wonderful "neutral" media to provide it.  But Glenn Beck - yes, that Glenn Beck - has put such a list together.  You can see it by clicking here

I don't even like Glenn Beck, but credit where credit is due:  he personally has provided more information about this group of unaccountable Obama apparatchiks than the New York Times, LA Times, morning news shows and network news shows combined.  What a statement this is on the state of our so-called "mainstream media"!

-The Yankees lost last night for the first time in a week.  This has somewhat restored my faith in the competitiveness of baseball.  Until Roy "Doc" Halliday shut them down on one hit, I was beginning to wonder if they ever would lose again.

-The best deal you can get in a pre-theater meal near Lincoln Center is right across the street at Fiorello's.  We had the three-course special for $35 which, based on the menu, included a $24 appetizer (three seafood appetizer plate), a $30,50 entree (a terrific shrimp dish) and a glass of wine instead of dessert (about $9 -- and who needs dessert before a play anyway?  It's too much.)   You do the math.

-We saw South Pacific.  What transcendentally great music!  

There was a short-term disappointment because the male lead, Paul Szot, was not performing.  But the great William Michals filled in for him - and was hands-down the best performer in the show.  What a voice.  What meaning he gave to the lyrics.  And a terrific actor to boot.  Maybe Szot is good, maybe he is even great.  I wouldn't know.  But we lucked out like crazy with Michals.

-The next time I watch a cable news show and hear some imbecile reflexively accuse someone who is criticizing Barack Obama of being a racist who can't abide a Black man in the White House, I may throw my shoe at the screen. 

Almost invariably, the person doing the criticizing is talking issues and has not in any way invoked race -- and the person invoking race is the one using Mr. Obama's ancestry as a one-size-fits-all bogeyman, which is supposed to stop the critic in his/her tracks, regardless of how well documented the criticism is.  You tell me which of these two is the racist.

-Federici's in Freehold New Jersey has really good thin-crust pizza.  It's the best part of their menu, always has been.  And the prices are reasonable, so bring the children.

-Is it just me or is Afghanistan looking more and more like Obama's Vietnam? 

This is an unwinnable war, because of the terrain, the fundamentalist beliefs of a large segment of the population and an understandable fear of the taliban.  But Obama has already ordered one troop surge, which has been a near-total disaster.  And he may be about to order another one.  

Is this what his leftward base wanted?  Hell, it isn't even what his rightward critics wanted.  I wonder when the Obama-loving press will start talking about Afghanetnam (my word, feel free to use it) the way they would have if it were Bush.

-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed to the construction of additional housing in existing Israeli settlements on the west bank -- in direct opposition to what President Obama has asked for (maybe demanded is more accurate).  How will this play out?  We'll know soon enough. 

-It is amazing what a disconnect there is between Israeli Jews' feelings about Mr. Obama and those of American Jews.  The latest Jerusalem Post poll shows that just 4% of Israeli Jews believe the President is more partial to Israel than Palestinian Arabs - down from a minuscule 6% in the previous poll.  By contrast, American Jews, though the numbers have declined somewhat, are still engaging in some kind of collective love affair with Obama. 

Jeff Jacoby, the brilliant Boston Globe columnist (and all-around good guy) has written an essay on why American Jews remain predominantly liberal, even though the liberal/left are more and more anti-Israel.  You can read it by clicking here.  And I urge you to do so, because it is utterly brilliant.

-What a lousy year for tomatoes.  I think it must have been the cool, rainy June that did it.  On the positive side, however, my basil came in great and, though fewer in number than I hoped, I'm getting nice "slicer" cucumbers too.

-I read almost every day, to get the latest news, and rumors, about the teams I follow.  Terrific site.  But for the New Jersey Nets, there is just about no news at all.  I just checked the "rumors" part of their coverage, and the last entry is August 14th.  Today is September 5. 

Do the Nets have a PR firm?  If so, how can they be paying them even one red cent? You don't fill seats by being anonymous.  And you certainly can be anonymous without PR.

-Ok, enough.  Back to politics.


Ken Berwitz

From my pal Bob, we have two versions of the ant and the grasshopper.  This is not original material (though I've updated it slightly), but it's worth thinking about today. 

THE ANT AND THE GRASSHOPPER                                               

This one is a little different... Two Different Versions!                 
Two Different Morals!                                                     

The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.                  
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.

Come winter, the ant is warm and well fed.                                
The grasshopper has no food or shelter, so he dies out in the cold.       
MORAL OF THE STORY: Be responsible for yourself!                          
MODERN VERSION:                                                           
The ant works hard in the withering heat all summer long, building his house and laying up supplies for the winter.                              
The grasshopper thinks the ant is a fool and laughs and dances and plays the summer away.                                                          
Come winter, the shivering grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving.                                       
CBS, NBC, PBS, CNN, and ABC show up to provide pictures of the shivering grasshopper next to a video of the ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food.  America is stunned by the sharp contrast.        
How can this be, that in a country of such wealth, this poor grasshopper is allowed to suffer so?                                                   
ACORN, joined by Jesse Jackson, stages a demonstration in front of the ant's house where the news stations film the group singing, 'We shall overcome.' Jesse then has the group kneel down to pray to God for the grasshopper's sake.           
Nancy Pelosi & John Kerry exclaim in an interview with keith olbermann that the ant has gotten rich off the back of the grasshopper, and both call for an immediate tax hike on the ant to make him pay his fair share.             
Finally, the EEOC drafts the Economic Equity & Anti-Grasshopper Act retroactive to the beginning of the summer.                               
The ant is fined for failing to hire a proportionate number of green bugs and, having nothing left to pay his retroactive taxes, his home is confiscated by the government.                                            
The story ends as we see the grasshopper finishing up the last bits of the ant's food while the government house he is in, which just happens to be the ant's old house, crumbles around him because he doesn't maintain it.  
The ant has disappeared in the snow.                                      
The grasshopper is found dead in a drug related incident and the house, now abandoned, is taken over by a gang of spiders who terrorize the once peaceful neighborhood.                                                    
MORAL OF THE STORY:  Be careful how you vote in 2010.

Take it for what it's worth......


Ken Berwitz

Ms. Ethics, Nancy Pelosi, is at it again.

From Charles Hurt of the New York Post (please pay special attention to the section I've put in bold print):



Last updated: 3:30 am
September 4, 2009
Posted: 2:58 am
September 4, 2009


WASHINGTON -- House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is hunkered down behind her most powerful chairman, Charles Rangel, amid new revelations about his failure to report millions of dollars in assets, income and business transactions.


She says she is waiting for the House Ethics Committee to complete its wide-ranging investigation of the Ways and Means Committee boss.

But Republicans are not waiting.

"She can't bring herself to do what she knows is right," Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told The Post yesterday.

Republicans plan to force votes in Congress that will make vulnerable Democrats facing tight races to side with or against Rangel.

Every vote with Rangel will become an instant campaign ad back home.

When Pelosi maneuvered her historic House takeover three years ago, she did not win on some legislative mandate.

The reason Democrats won is because they were not Republicans. Republicans had become embroiled in so many disgraceful scandals that they proved themselves entirely unworthy of public trust or authority.

Pelosi promised this would be "the most ethical Congress ever."

Instead, Pelosi installed Rangel at the most important and powerful intersection between people and their federal government.

He is chairman of the committee that writes all taxation legislation, determining every penny that the government takes out of your paycheck.

"Such flagrant fuzzy math and dubious excuses would land most people in serious legal trouble," Issa said.

"The public needs to know if the man we count on to write America's tax laws can actually count, and does, in fact, pay taxes."

This is a national disgrace.  A major one.

It is also a national disgrace that has been covered so little by our wonderful "neutral" media compared to corrupt Republicans that it is almost as if the media is saying to whoever still believes it is evenhanded "there, NOW can you see how biased we are?".

Charles Rangel is a human scumbucket.  He has no business in charge of the House Ways and Means Committee.  Or in congress.  Or anywhere outside of a jail cell.

And his misfeasant, malfeasant clown of a protector, Nancy Pelosi, has no business being Speaker of the House.


Ken Berwitz

As the Obama administration continues to blame President Bush for our ongoing economic malaise, we have this from the Associated Press, via

Canada adds 27,100 jobs, unemployment edges up to 8.7 percent

By Rob Gillies, Associated Press Writer

On Friday September 4, 2009, 9:51 am EDT TORONTO (AP) -- Canada added a better-than-expected 27,100 jobs in August, one of the biggest gains since the recession began in the country last fall.

But according to Statistics Canada all of the jobs are part-time.

The agency said Friday that Canada's unemployment rate edged up to 8.7 percent from 8.6 percent in July, as more Canadians began looking for work.

Still, the addition of 27,100 jobs is well above the previous month's 45,000 job retreat. The result also beat consensus expectations of a 15,000 job loss month.

The U.S.-equivalent based on labor market size would be 271,000 jobs gained. The U.S. labor market is about 10 times the size of Canada's.

August, however, saw a continued deterioration of full-time work with 3,500 job losses.

But Canada's private sector added 49,200 workers in August, the first time they have hired more than fired since September.

Royal Bank Chief Economist Craig Wright said the report surprised on the upside and said the labor market appears to be stabilizing.

"Any job is better than no job," Wright said. "I wouldn't think we're finished with the weak employment numbers just yet, but it is consistent with an improving economy."

Statistics Canada noted that while Canada has lost 387,000 jobs since the recession began north of the border in October, only 31,000 of those have come in the past five months.

The bulk of the losses have occurred in manufacturing. The agency noted that employment in construction has stabilized and it has increased in most service industries.

"It just reinforces the view that the recession has ended and that we're in the early stages of a recovery," said Douglas Porter, deputy chief economist with BMO Capital Markets.

Yes, Canada added jobs.  Yes, Canada's unemployment rate is lower than ours.  Yes, the recession is ending in Canada, as it is ending or has ended in France, Germany, China and other countries.

I have no doubt that the Obama administration will play lets-pretend and try to con us into believing its abysmal failure of a "stimulus package" had something to do with this.  But don't expect them to explain how come other countries are a) coming out of the recession at the same time and b) certainly in the case of Canada, are doing so much more strongly than we are.

The plain fact is that the "stimulus package" had nothing to do with this recovery.  Recessions (and boom periods) are cyclical and we, along with the rest of the world, are coming to the end of a recession cycle.

Since Mr. Obama and his merry accomplices can't legitimately take credit for what little positive movement we have seen in the past two months, maybe they would like to try explaining why we have lost almost 3 million jobs since we were told that the "stimulus package" would create 4 million jobs by the end of 2010 - a promise that almost immediately morphed into the preposterous "create OR SAVE" 4 million jobs claim (which also is being broken).

Or maybe they can explain how come the unemployment rate, which President Obama promised would go no higher than 8% if the "stimulus package" passed, is now at 9.7%.  

And there is always those 7,000 - 9,000 earmarks he agreed to, after promising no earmarks at all.  I'd love to hear them explain that.

Then again, I doubt any of this is about to happen.  So maybe Mr. Obama and Co. should spend their time studying Canada to find out what it is doing right that we are doing wrong.

I admit this is not as easy as blaming Bush and hoping there are people gullible enough to buy it.  But why not try learning from others' successes anyway.  If nothing else, it would be a refreshing change.

Ken Berwitz free - that is why I ongoingly use the sarcasm, "our wonderful 'neutral' media". Much of what is being foisted on us could never happen if they were reporting the news evenhandedly. (09/06/09)

free` Ken, I was just talking to my uncle about this same thing, the MSM aren't going to report on it, so most people aren't going to know. The difference between how the MSM are reporting on the economy under obama compared to their reporting when Bush was president is sickening. (09/05/09)


Ken Berwitz

This excerpt is from yesterday's New York Times:

Oh What a Time to Be Young!

By Catherine Rampell


Pity the unemployed, but especially pity the teenage unemployed.


According to todays job report, the overall unemployment rate (the percentage of people in the labor force not working but looking for work) in August rose to 9.7 percent, its highest level in 26 years. The teenage unemployment rate, however, is at 25.5 percent, its highest level since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began keeping track of such data in 1948.

Did you know that the minimum wage rose over 40% in the past two years?  From $5.15 an hour in July of 2007, to $7.25 in July of 2009?

The Times article didn't mention how fast the minimum wage has risen as a reason for teen unemployment. Yet there is an excellent likelihood that it is a key reason - maybe the key reason - teen unemployment is so high.

Jobs for teenagers are among the most expendable at a company.  They are given low-end money because they usually are inexperienced workers who will not stay for long.  Not hiring them is, therefore, a relatively painless way to save money.

So when the hourly wage that would have to be paid to teens rises dramatically - in a bad economy when businesses are struggling to survive - I think you can see the correlation.

Businesses warned that too fast a rise in the minimum wage would cause a loss of low-end jobs.  But the social engineers who orchestrated this raise didn't want to hear.  We are now seeing the results.  (And, although this blog specifically speaks to the effect on teenagers, you can bet it has affected other workers as well.)

None of this, however, was important enough to mention in the Times article.  The only reasons it cites are that older workers are staying longer so there is less "turnover and attrition".

Ask a teen looking for work if he/she would prefer a buck less an hour for work, or a buck more and no job to get it from.  I guarantee that you will get a far better explanation than the New York Times is offering. 


Ken Berwitz

Want to know how completely in the tank mainstream media are for Barack Obama?

From Seth Whitlock of

All Three Morning Shows Skip Any Reference to Radical Obama Czar and 9/11 Truthers


By Scott Whitlock (Bio | Archive)
September 4, 2009 - 12:39 ET


All three morning shows on Friday skipped any reference to the developing controversy over Obama administration Green Jobs Czar Van Jones and his connection to the 9/11 Truther movement. CBSs Early Show, NBCs Today and ABCs Good Morning America totally ignored the story, although ABCs Jake Tapper did file an online report over the subject.


And although Fox News on Thursday covered the revelation that Jones signed a statement in 2004 urging an investigation into whether or not George W. Bush had prior knowledge about 9/11 ("people within the current administration may indeed have deliberately allowed 9/11 to happen, perhaps as a pretext for war"), none of nightly news programs highlighted this potential problem for the Obama administration.


So, while Good Morning America found no time for this incendiary topic, co-anchor Robin Roberts did host a segment on testing name brand versus store brand pizza. Early Shows Harry Smith explained to viewers how to keep your lawn in top condition this autumn. And Todays co-hosts thrilled over the must-have fashions for the fall season.


ABCs Tapper, in an online post for the Political Punch blog, wrote, "This is becoming problematic for the Obama administration, which spent much time and energy belittling the fringe Birther movement of those alleging, despite myriad evidence, that President Obama was not born in the U.S." (Tapper did file a report for Fridays GMA, but on another topic and made no mention of Jones.) In the White House correspondents blog post, he reported this new development: "But in March 2002, a march in San Francisco was called to demand a congressional inquiry into 9/11. Jones was on the organizing committee."


See a blog posting by the MRCs Seton Motley for more on Van Jones and his inflammatory rhetoric.

Not a word.  Zero.  Zilch.  Nada. 

Mr. and Mrs. Joe Public, the ones who count on network news to be informed, do not even know there is an issue, let alone how much of an issue it is - unless they view Fox, that is.

And these people accuse Fox of bias? 

Holy excrement.

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