Friday, 06 November 2009


Ken Berwitz

In case you think that Barack Obama's significant drop in popularity is only domestic, we have this from Niles Gardiner, writing for London's Daily Telegraph.  Please pay special attention to the last three paragraphs, which I have put in bold print:

European liberals are in shock over Barack Obama's failures


By Nile Gardiner World Last updated: November 6th, 2009


It is no coincidence that Barack Obama held a key campaign rally last year in front of hundreds of thousands of adoring Germans, as though he were running for Mayor of Berlin. Obama remains in many ways a quintessentially European politician, a firm believer in big government, large-scale state intervention, social liberalism, supranational institutions, and the projection of soft power abroad. His political philosophy is frequently more attuned to Brussels or Strasbourg than it is to Washington.


For a host of reasons however, President Obama is increasingly viewed by his natural allies in Europe- the left-wing intelligentsia in particular as a mounting disappointment, whether it is dithering over attending the climate change summit in Copenhagen, supposedly ignoring the momentous changes within the European Union, making little progress with the Middle East peace process, adopting protectionist trade policies, a lack of commitment to human rights, the list goes on.


Significantly, there have even been some attacks from the left on Obamas failure of leadership on Afghanistan. No matter how hard Obama tries to appease his supporters in Europe by presenting American power in a softer light, the president of the United States is still going to let down those who backed him most strongly.


Its bad enough being berated from across the Atlantic by the President of France for being a big softy and failing to stand up to the Iranian nuclear threat. But being taken to task by European intellectuals is even more humbling for a US leader who attaches just as much importance to how he is perceived on the world stage, as he does to domestic popularity.


One year on from his election, it is striking how many liberal commentators in Europe, especially those who grace the opinion pages of lofty publications like The Guardian and The Financial Times, are beginning to question Obamas global leadership and are casting a more critical eye on the current occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.


I was particularly struck by an interesting Guardian piece written by arch Euro-federalist historian Timothy Garton Ash last month, which actually claimed that while Obama is the most European president there has ever been, he is also the least European president of the United States that there has ever been less European even than George W. Bush, according to the Oxford don. As Garton Ash eloquently put it:


Unlike during the cold war, the United States is not focused on Europe and does not regard helping to build a strong, united Europe as being among its own vital interests. Europeans may continue to feel that Obama is one of us; and in one way he is, but in another way he isnt and he certainly wont do our work for us. If we Europeans want to get our act together, we must get our act together.


Another Guardianista, the best-selling author Jonathan Freedland, continues to defend Obama but acknowledges that as president he has too often left a vacuum where his own plans and visions should be. In a piece for The Guardian last week, Freedland depicted the palpable disappointment of many of those who had cheered Obama at his victory rally in Chicagos Grant Park:


Now, one year on, it can feel as if all that was a foolish mirage. The US is still fighting two wars; Guantnamo remains open, with no clear plan for its closure given that Congress has ruled that none of its inmates can be moved to the US; Iran has not yet agreed to anything; Middle East peace looks as distant as ever; the US economy is still limping, with unemployment around 10%; healthcare has provoked a congressional battle royal; and as for serious US action on climate change, dont hold your breath.


Also at The Guardian, Simon Tisdall, the papers foreign editor, has just penned a hard-hitting article taking apart the Obama administrations laclustre approach to transatlantic relations. Heres a snippet:


Obamas apparent lack of interest in Americas European allies some call it indifference, even disdain is a source of growing unease on the Old World side of the Atlantic. As polls suggest Europeans, by and large, are hugely enamoured of George Bushs dashing successor, his coolness is more than a little hurtful. Its like being the spotty, socially challenged nerd who has a crush on the prom queen.


Over at the FT, Clive Crook, a columnist who endorsed Obama for the presidency in 2008 as a man of outstanding intellect and magnetic personality, has written a damning indictment of the presidents handling of the Afghanistan mission:


The US has been at war in Afghanistan for eight years and it is losing. On this issue, Barack Obama is giving deliberation a bad name. He needs to make his mind up Week by week, the administrations muddle makes everything harder. What a godsend for the Taliban. In his speech in London this month, General McChrystal said, Uncertainty disheartens our allies, emboldens our foe. After months of wrestling with this problem, uncertainty is all the White House has got.


President Bush might not have been loved in Europe, but at least he was feared by his enemies and strategic competitors and respected by US allies. With Barack Obama in the White House, the United States has succeeded in alienating key partners in Eastern and Central Europe by kowtowing to Moscow, has undermined morale in the NATO alliance by refusing to give a firm commitment to extra troops for Afghanistan, is viewed as weak by Nicolas Sarkozy in the face of Iranian aggression, and has relegated the transatlantic alliance to an extraordinarily low priority.


 Embarrassingly for the president, even the left in Europe are now beginning to question the Obama administrations record after just nine months in power.


Barack Obama is swiftly finding out that American global leadership is far more difficult than it looks, and takes more than a few flowery speeches in Strasbourg or Prague calling for world peace and apologizing for Americas past. As Obama will come to realize, US leadership is not a popularity contest, but about taking tough decisions in defence of America and its allies. So far, the president has only succeeded in undermining both.

Several of the comments for this article refer to President Obama as "the clown car president".  They appear to have been written by US citizens, not Europeans. 

But I can't help wondering if that is precisely the way European leaders see him as well.


Ken Berwitz

How badly do Democrats want illegal aliens to count?  Here, from Andrew Taylor of the Associated Press, is your answer:

Senate blocks census US-citizenship question

By Andrew Taylor, Associated Press Writer Thu Nov 5, 12:52 pm ET


WASHINGTON Senate Democrats have blocked a GOP attempt to require next year's census forms to ask people whether they are a U.S. citizen.


The proposal by Louisiana Republican Sen. David Vitter was aimed at excluding immigrants from the population totals that are used to figure the number of congressional representatives for each state. Critics said Vitter's plan would discourage immigrants from responding to the census and would be hugely expensive. They also said that it's long been settled law that the apportionment of congressional seats is determined by the number of people living in each state, regardless of whether they are citizens. A separate survey already collects the data.


The plan fell after a 60-39 procedural vote made it ineligible for attachment to a bill funding the census.

I become furious every time I read BS - almost always from Democrats - that asking basic identification questions in the course of counting our citizens, or determining voting eligibility (especially voting eligibility), is going to discourage anyone but illegals.

Why would someone with legal status be discouraged from participating in a census because it asks about his/her status?  WHY?

I sure as hell understand why someone who is illegal would be discouraged, but why would anyone else be?

Same thing with voting.  Not only is it not intrusive to ask for ID before allowing someone the vote, it is an imperative.  Otherwise you are literally opening the door for illegal voters.  And who wants that? (I know you have an answer, I'm asking rhetorically).

Speaking for myself, the one and only reason I can think of for defeating this proposal is that Democrats want illegals to be in, not out.  And I have zero doubt that handing illegals a way to vote is a prime objective.

How about you?



Ken Berwitz

Carl Ballantine, the man who pretty much invented "comedy magic", died on election day (November 3), of natural causes.  He was 92 years old and - to my knowledge, at least - had been retired for a number of years (NOTE:  Not completely retired -- he was in a movie as recently as 2006).

Some folks might remember Ballantine as Lester Gruber, one of the nuttier crew members of  McHale's Navy.

Me?  I never watched that show (though it was a hit for years).  But I vividly remember him as "The Amazing Ballantine" - comedy magician.

Ballantine's schtick was very simple.  He was billed as a professional magician, but none of his tricks actually worked.  His routines consisted of wisecracking as he set up each trick, then delivering a knock-'em-dead punchline when they failed.

It was oddball comedy, to say the least.  And very, very funny.  I know I thought so.  So, apparently, did Ed Sullivan, Steve Allen and Milton Berle, because they kept bringing Ballantine back, show after show -- especially Sullivan. 

Like Soupy Sales, who died last month, Carl Ballantine was one of a kind.  He'll be missed.

May he rest in peace.


Ken Berwitz

Sometimes a picture and a few words speak volumes.

Enjoy (or gnash your teeth, depending on your point of view).




Ken Berwitz

As readers of this blog know (as well as some who don't read it - but not as many as there would have been if our wonderful "neutral" media gave it proper coverage), earlier this week Israel intercepted a ship loaded with Iranian-supplied arms that were intended for hezbollah - a terrorist organization dedicated to Israel's destruction.

Here is Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's statement concerning that interception. I have put the last three paragraphs in bold print, for reasons that should be self-evident:

First of all, I would like to commend Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi, GOC Navy Adm. Eliezer Marom, GOC Intelligence Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin and the security and intelligence services of the State of Israel, including the Mossad, as well as the IDF soldiers and officers who carried out this very important action for Israel's security.

The navy captured a ship that was carrying a vast quantity of ordnance, which had been sent by the Iranian regime from the port of Bandar Abbas to Syria. From there it was due to be delivered to Hezbollah. The main component of this war materiel was rockets whose sole objective was to attack and kill as many civilians - women, children and the elderly - as possible.

This is a war crime. This is a war crime that the UN General Assembly, which is meeting today, should investigate, discuss and condemn. This is a war crime that should prompt the UN Security Council to convene in special session, especially since it was in gross violation of UN Security Council resolutions. This is a war crime which we know the Iranian regime intends to repeat, further arming Hezbollah, which has already fired thousands of missiles at our communities.

This is what the international community should concentrate on at all times but especially today. But instead, they have chosen to assemble and condemn the IDF and the State of Israel, and to try and undermine our legitimate right to defend ourselves.

I would like make it as clear as possible: This will neither deter us nor prevent us from continuing to act in order to defend Israeli citizens because Israeli citizens know the truth, that the IDF is a moral army without peer, either qualitatively or morally. We know that it is the IDF and the security services of the State of Israel that stand against the war criminals who plan to perpetrate war crimes against Israeli citizens.

I think that the time has come for the international community, at least its more responsible countries, to recognize the truth and not promote a lie.

Mr. Netanyahu's reference, of course, is to the scurrilous, hopelessly anti-Israel "Goldstone Report" -- which, predictably, UN members overwhelmingly voted to accept. 

The "Goldstone Report" contains 567 pages detailing "war crimes" when Israel, after years of being attacked by Gazan terrorists, went in and cleaned house.  And how many of those 567 pages talked about war crimes from Gaza, which bombed Israel until it acted?  Two.  That's right, 2 out of 567.  

Netanyahu is, of course, 100% correct. 

And anyone who thinks that the UN - the morally, ethically and spiritually dead UN - is going to act responsibly regarding Israel, is living in a dream world.

Zeke ... "And anyone who thinks that the UN - the morally, ethically and spiritually dead UN" ... ... Doesn't that characterize MANY of our institutions today : ... News Media, Politicians, Education, Lawyers, Judges, Unions ... ... (11/06/09)


Ken Berwitz

Just how bad was the Democratic debacle on Tuesday, and how badly does it tarnish Barack Obama?

Chuck Raasch has a very informative, very blunt perspective on this, that is well worth reading.  The bold print is mine:

Democrats fall back to earth with a thud


By Chuck Raasch, Gannett National Writer


WASHINGTON Barack Obama and the Democrats have come back to earth hard.


Republican wins in the Virginia and New Jersey governors' races Tuesday and recent polling and economic trends reveal a political landscape that has changed dramatically since the president's convincing election victory a year ago.


Democrats on Tuesday did win a New York congressional seat they hadn't held since the 19th century, in large measure because it became a proxy fight between warring factions in the Republican Party.


But independents, the voters who often decide elections, shifted heavily to Republicans in Virginia and New Jersey. That trend, if it holds in 2010, could be very bad news for Democrats trying to hold a 60-40 advantage in the Senate and a 258-177 lead in the House of Representatives.


Anxious independent voters are starting to listen to GOP attacks on government spending and Democratic health reform proposals.


Meanwhile, Republicans' most loyal supporters are stirring at the grassroots level.


"All that intensity that the Democrats had in 2006 and 2008 has transferred over to the Republicans," said political analyst Charlie Cook.


Democrats still have the power of Obama's personal appeal and fundraising abilities. But Democrats are likely losing sleep over these trends:


Obama's job approval, while still above 50% in most polls, has dropped the most among older people, who are more likely to vote in non-presidential elections than younger Americans. A Gallup Poll conducted Oct. 19-25 showed that Obama's approval among Americans 18-29 had fallen only from 66% to 61%, but that he had dropped 12 points among Americans 50-64.


Cook, citing his two children in their late teens and early 20s who were big Obama supporters, said that "their loyalty is to him, not the Democratic Party."


With Obama not on the ballot in 2010, how many of these kinds of supporters will vote?


Americans' personal economic outlook remains grim. In a poll taken for Business Week Nov. 1-3, RT Strategies and found that 37% of Americans believed the economy was getting worse compared with 23% saying it was getting better.


The poll was taken while the government and economists were declaring the end of the recession. Almost four in 10 said they believed if they lost their jobs they would be unable to match their current income, and more than half of the 1,000 poll respondents said they either had no savings or had enough to live on for only a few weeks.


Americans are "still trying to figure out how we are going to live our lives in this new (economic) environment, and it is obviously going to affect politics," said Thomas Riehle, president of RT Strategies.


He said the last time the public was this pessimistic was the late 1970s, "when Jimmy Carter went on television to talk about the great malaise."


USA TODAY-Gallup found that the percentage of Americans who said they believed Obama would heal political divisions in the country a campaign pledge was about half of what it was a year ago. Only 28% said they believed he would be able to do that in a poll taken Oct. 16-19, while 54% had said so last Nov. 7-9, just after Obama was elected.


The president has fallen especially hard on questions about whether he can improve the health care system and control federal spending, two issues that have joined jobs to dominate domestic headlines this year.


Last November, according to USA TODAY-Gallup, 52% said they had confidence that Obama would control federal spending, but only 31% said so in the Oct. 16-19 survey. Over the same period, those who said they believed Obama could improve the health care system dropped from 64 to 46%.


The president also has gotten a more definite ideological label in his first year in office. A year ago, 43% of Americans described Obama as liberal or very liberal. In October, according to USA TODAY-Gallup, 54% did.


Riehle said half of the 1,000 adults he polled earlier this week said they were worse off financially than they were a year ago.


"A year ago we were in the red hot center of the financial collapse," Riehle said, "and this is how it's played out in a year."

Do you think the people in those surveys are buying the one-note Obama mantra that this somehow is George Bush's fault?

Some probably are.  But a lot are not -- and a lot more are not than there used to be -- and a lot more will join them unless things turn around fast - which there is no indication that they will.

I also have to believe that there are a great many blue dog Democrats - Democrats whose jobs are endangered - who have had chronic agita since Deeds and Corzine conceded defeat.  As they should. since it is less than a year until they will either be re-elected or dumped.

What will they do?  Vote for the agenda of a man who is angering the electorate and who has no coattails?  Or show voters how independent they are, and incur the wrath of Obama, Reid and Pelosi?

It should be very interesting to see.


Ken Berwitz

The week after Barack Obama assured us that he created or saved at least 640,000 jobs - and maybe over a million - the new job numbers came out. 

Unemployment jumped a sickening .4 of a point, from 9.8% to 10.2%.

You can believe the Obama administration or the actual numbers.

If you believe the Obama administration, please signify by stating "I am a hopeless Obama supporter who will believe anything this man and his people say, even if I have absolute proof that he and they are lying to me".

Thank you.


Zeke .... (1) The 10.2% does not include people who have given up looking for work, (2) people who work part-time, because that is all they can get (3) teens who are first-time job seekers .... .... but Mr Obama did say that without the Stimulation Bill, that unemployment would reach 9%. ..The US is a consumer driven economy. The improved profitability of corporations (and the rising Stock Market) reflect 'efficiency improvements' -- laying off workers, outsourcing jobs overseas, selling factories. .... .... The nation is eating its seed corn. (11/06/09)


Ken Berwitz

Here's a true "you can't make this stuff up" classic:

From WSBTV in Atlanta:  

Stolen VW Van Found 35 Years Later

Washington State Van Found In Netherlands

Posted: 11:26 pm EST November 5, 2009Updated: 10:07 am EST November 6, 2009

SPOKANE, Wash. -- A Volkswagen van stolen 35 years ago in Washington state has been found in a shipping container at the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport.


Customs agents found the 1965 van on Oct. 19 when they opened a shipping container bound for The Netherlands, The Spokesman-Review newspaper reported. They ran the vehicle identification number and discovered it was listed as stolen.


Law officers said the van, which is in great shape, was stolen from an upholstery shop in Spokane on July 12, 1974 -- while Spokane was hosting the 1974 World's Fair.


Authorities have not been able to find the original owner, whom they would not identify.


The operators of a vehicle restoration business in Arizona were the latest to have possession of the van, which they refurbished and planned to sell overseas, said Michael Maleta, an investigator with the California Highway Patrol. Maleta said the shop is also considered a victim in the case, and he declined to identify it.


The van now legally belongs to Allstate Insurance Co., which paid off the original owner's theft claim back in 1974. The Highway Patrol turned over the van to Allstate this week.

Maleta said the van had been restored to pristine condition.


"Now it's probably worth 27 grand," he said. "It's a beautiful van."


Megan Brunet, a spokeswoman for Allstate, said the company is looking through old records trying to find the original policy and theft claim.


"Trying to find paper files from that far back can be pretty challenging," she said.


The company will likely have the van appraised and go through the process of getting a replacement title before selling it at auction, she said.

How many miles on that baby?  Are the original peace signs still in good shape?  How about the tie-dyed shirt I stuck in the glove compartment?


Ken Berwitz

Did you really expect Nancy Pelosi to put up the health care bill for 72 hours, just in case someone wanted over 2,000 pages of light reading before watching her fellow Democrats pass it?

From John McCormack at the Weekly Standard:

Pelosi Breaks Pledge to Put Final Health Care Bill Online for 72 Hours Before Vote

Speaker Nancy Pelosi's office tells THE WEEKLY STANDARD that the speaker will not allow the final language of the health care to be posted online for 72 hours before bringing the bill to a vote on the House floor, despite her September 24 statement that she was "absolutely" committed to doing so.

House members are still negotiating important issues in the bill--whether it will provide taxpayer-funding for abortions, for example. Pelosi is pushing for a Saturday House vote, and a number of big changes will be introduced, likely less than 24 hours before the vote takes place (if in fact it does). The Rules Committee hasn't yet released its resolution, or rule, that must be passed before the bill can move from committee to the floor. The rule will set the terms of debate and determine what amendments are in order.

It seems likely that the rule will allow very few, if any, up-or-down votes on amendments on the House floor. Rather, the rule will include a series of amendments that will all be adopted at once if the rule passes.

On September 24, Speaker Nancy Pelosi told THE WEEKLY STANDARD that she was "absolutely" committed to putting the text of the final House bill online for 72 hours before the House votes:

TWS: Madam Speaker, do you support the measure to put the final House bill online for 72 hours before it's voted on at the very end?

PELOSI: Absolutely. Without question.

But tonight, when asked if Speaker Pelosi will leave the bill online for 72 hours after we see what's in the rule, Pelosi spokesman Brendan Daly replied in an email: "No; [the] pledge was to have managers amendment online for 72 hours, and we will do that."

Apparently Pelosi's agreement to leave the "final" bill online "at the very end" of the process wasn't such a straightforward pledge.

Nancy Pelosi lies.  Repeatedly.  Blatantly. 

And she does so because she can do so.

Why can she do so?  Because our wonderful "neutral" media will barely, if at all, report that she is doing so.

Nancy Pelosi's motto, no doubt based on the copious help afforded her by our mainstream media, seems to be "Keep 'em ignorant and you own 'em."

Unfortunately for us, she's got a point. 


Ken Berwitz

New information about nidal malik hasan:

-He was born in Virginia but started calling himself a Palestinian;

-Weeks before the attack he started wearing traditional Muslim garb;

-The morning of the attack he gave out korans to people where he lived;

-Before starting to shoot he screamed "allah akbar" (Arabic for "God is great")

This, folks, was a Muslim terrorist attack.  Plain and simple.  No less than 9/11.

Maybe hasan didn't start out as a Muslim terrorist, but that is what he was yesterday.

I don't blame other Muslims for this attack (and hope that you don't either).  But we cannot pretend away what happened.

Zeke .... Native born muslims who resent and attack their non-muslim neighbors .... .... Same problem in Britain, France (burning thousands of cars), Sweden, Italy, all over Europe. .... (11/06/09)


free` "But we cannot pretend away what happened." No truer words have been spoken about this. (11/06/09)

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