Tuesday, 05 January 2010

THE COAKLEY-BROWN RACE (AND IT IS ONE)

Ken Berwitz

Finally some polling data on the Massachusetts senate race between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown.

According to Rasmussen, Coakley is leading Brown in this bluest-of-blue state, by only 9%:  50%-41%. 

Brown is making a race of it with virtually no help from the national party, which apparently has made a decision to save those funds for what it perceives as more winnable elections in November.  And there are still two weeks to go before election day, thus time to make up that difference.

Maybe the Republican Party should be rethinking their budget.

free` I can't believe the media is allowing Coakley to get away with not debating her opponent. (01/05/10)


BYRON DORGAN SAYS BYE-BYE

Ken Berwitz

Excerpted from the Associated Press:

North Dakota Democrat Byron Dorgan says he will not seek re-election to the Senate in 2010, a surprise announcement that could give Republicans an opportunity to pick up a seat from the Republican-leaning state.

 

Dorgan, who was first elected to the Senate in 1992 after serving a dozen years in the U.S. House, said he reached the decision after discussing his future with family over the holidays.

 

The moderate Democrat said he has other interests he wants to pursue.

It is certainly possible that Senator Dorgan's reasons for declining to run are exactly what he says they are.

But it is also possible that Mr. Dorgan has noticed the condition of his party for the upcoming election, noted the generally Republican tilt of North Dakota, and felt a cold political chill in the air. 

Or maybe he made his decision after reading the latest Rasmussen data, which show Republicans 9% ahead of Demcorats in the generic vote (that is not a typo, folks, it's 44% Republicans to 35% Democrats).  Just a year and a half ago, Democrats had a 13% advantage (47% -34%), so this represents a 22% swing.  That is flat-out huge.

Whatever the reasons though, it means a formidable Democratic incumbent will not be running.  And it gives Republicans a strong likelihood of picking up a senate seat in North Dakota.

======================================================

UPDATE:  I should also have mentioned that Dorgan is polling way behind the Republicans' likely candidate, Governor John Hoeven.  I blogged about Hoeven's 22% lead over Dorgan weeks ago and inadvertently did not include it here -- until this update, that is.


THE LIGHTY QUINN

Ken Berwitz

Sally Quinn must be light as a feather.  That is not a physical reference either.

I don't know what Ms. Quinn weighs, only that she sometimes writes genuinely flyweight opinions.  And today is one of those days.

Here, from Mike Bates of www.newsbusters.org, is what I'm talking about:

WaPo's Sally Quinn: Obama 'Not Getting Credit That He Deserves'

By Mike Bates (Bio | Archive)
January 5, 2010 - 12:11 ET

In her Washington Post column today, Sally Quinn frets that White House security breaches divert attention from Barack Obama's accomplishments.  In "Time for accountability at the White House," she writes:

Obama has had some real successes this fall. He did a masterful job of bringing together incredibly disparate positions to craft a strategy for Afghanistan. He put himself on the line and will probably come up with a reasonable health-care plan. He left Copenhagen with at least promises of cooperation from other world powers regarding climate change. But he is not getting credit that he deserves because he is being ill served by those around him who will not step up as needed and take the fall for him.

 

Real successes, heh?  Obama's dithering on Afghanistan justifiably earned him criticism both here and abroad, where England's defense minister and others voiced their concerns.  It's impossible to know if Obama's health-care plan, cobbled in backroom deals, is reasonable because so many specifics are still obscure.  One thing we do know is negotiations weren't, as promised by Obama, aired on C-SPAN.  Moreover, Obama failed to go over it line by line with members of Congress, another promise made and broken.  Only in the mainstream media could Obama getting "at least promises of cooperation from other world powers regarding climate change" count as a success.

Then again, what could Quinn have pointed to?  Unprecedented spending and debt, nonexistent shovel ready jobs, persistent high rates of unemployment, and setbacks on terrorism hardly qualify as achievements.  Perhaps she could have pointed with pride to Obama's decision to end a 22-year-old immigration ban preventing those with HIV/AIDS from entering the United States.  Or his naming of the first transgendered woman to be an advisor to the Commerce Department.  Or bringing people like Van Jones into government. 

Quinn's solution to the purported problem of Obama not receiving adequate credit is for Secret Service director Mark Sullivan and White House social secretary Desire Rogers to resign.  Millions of Americans would agree that White House resignations are called for, but at a much higher level.

I don't care about the transgendered appointment as long as he, or she (you tell me) can do the job capably.  But every other one of Mike's points is very well taken.

Only a dyed in the wool, card-carrying Obamaniac could find success in what Ms. Quinn is enumerating.  And that is what she is.

I do, however, have a few suggestions for who, in Ms. Quinn's words, could "take the fall for him".  I'd love for Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid to do so (in Nevada, voters may do it for us in November).  And Lawrence Summers (who may be dumped very soon anyway, from what Ive been reading).  And Timothy Geithner.  And by all means, Homeland Security secretary Janet Incompetano (that's not my pun, but I like it enough to use it).  

The social secretary probably should go too.  But, to tell you the truth, those other folks are a tad more meaningful to me.

Zeke ... ... That 'transgendered' appointment ... is that a CZAR or is it a CZARINA ? ... ... and Obama gave us Hope-n-Change ... and he got the Nobel Peas Prize for it ..... or maybe he got the Peas Prize for his Afghanistan strategy -- whatever it is ... ... It is not clear if the country is better off if he dithers or if he tries to do something ... ... It does seem Obama has a LOT of shovel-ready B/S ready ... ... (01/05/10)


GAZANS: ONE OF THE FEW ISSUES ISRAEL AND EGYPT AGREE ON

Ken Berwitz

Excerpted from an Associated Press article:

Egypts Steel Border Wall Could Choke Hamas in Gaza
Tuesday, January 05, 2010
By Karin Laub, Associated Press


Rafah, Gaza Strip (AP) - A jackhammer pounded large steel beams side by side into the sandy soil on the Egyptian side of Gaza's border, putting in place an underground wall that could shift the balance of power in this volatile area.
 
Once completed, the steel barrier would cut off blockaded Gaza's last lifeline and -- by slicing through hundreds of smuggling tunnels under the nine-mile (14-kilometer) Gaza-Egypt border -- could increase pressure on the territory's Hamas rulers to moderate.
 
Hamas leaders are furious about the border wall and are seeking to rally Arab and Muslim public opinion against Egypt. On Sunday, demonstrators marched outside Egyptian embassies in Jordan and Lebanon, holding posters showing Egypt's president with Israel's Star of David on his forehead.
 
Hamas has also marshaled Muslim scholars who decreed that the barrier is "haram," or religiously forbidden. The scholars were responding to a statement by Al-Azhar University, Egypt's prestigious Islamic seat of theology, which reached the opposite conclusion last week.
 
Gaza's borders have been virtually sealed since June 2006 when Hamas-allied militants captured an Israeli soldier, Gilad Schalit. The blockade by Israel and Egypt intensified a year later when Hamas overran Gaza, seizing the territory from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
 
The blockade has evoked intense international criticism, but Israel justifies it by claiming that supplies to Gaza could end up in the hands of violent militants.
 
In response to the stifling closure, Gazans dramatically expanded smuggling from Egypt to bring in commercial goods, along with weapons and cash for Hamas.
 
Today, nearly 400 tunnels run under Gaza's border with Egypt, employing 15,000 people and bringing in $1 million in goods a day, said Issa Nashar, the Hamas mayor of the Gaza border town of Rafah. The municipality supplies electricity and levies $2,500 in taxes per tunnel, he said.
 
"Egyptian borders are sacred and no Egyptian allows any violations in one way or another," Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit said last week.
 
Amid the uncertainty, rumors are running wild. Many here believe Egypt plans to flood the area and are already scheming to make their tunnels waterproof. Nashar, the Rafah mayor, said enterprising smugglers have managed to cut pieces off the underground wall.
 
Others have raised the possibility that the smugglers might simply dig deeper, going below the underground wall.
 
Two years ago, Hamas militants cut down a metal border wall that had been erected by Israel, enabling tens of thousands of Gazans to pour into Egypt until the border was resealed.
 
During Israel's 38-year military control of Gaza, Israel tried in vain to halt the smuggling, including tearing down houses along the border and blowing up tunnels.
 
The wall construction marks the highest profile attempt by Egypt to halt the smuggling and seems to have struck a nerve, judging by Hamas' angry protests.
 
Hamas officials portrayed Egypt as doing the bidding of Israel and the U.S. and even hinted at another border breach.
 
"I'm telling you, the people, they want to live and they want something to eat. They may do everything they can," Ehab Ghussein, a spokesman for Gaza's Interior Ministry, said Monday.
 
"But we don't hope to reach that point."

How bad is Gaza?  Let's just say that if God wanted to give the world an enema, Gaza is where he'd stick the tube.

It is run by hamas, a terrorist organization.  It is filled with militants and terrorists whose only purpose appears to be killing other human beings -- not just Jews, but fellow Arabs as well.  It is destitute because no new infrastructure is being built (the money is needed for weapons, you see) and the infrastructure already there has not been maintained.  Gaza's children are taught hate from the first day they are educable.  

Because hamas' avowed goal is the vaporizing of Israel and its Jews, it is entirely understandable that Israel cannot give free access to Gazans (unless you are a UN official, in which case it is an outrage).    But Egypt - which hamas has no stated goal of destroying - will not give them free access either.  Like Israel, Egypt limits access because of who runs Gaza and mindset of the population. 

When Egypt was in control of Gaza, it was a hellhole.  In the 38 years Israel occupied Gaza, it got nothing but worse.  In the four years since Israel left, under self-rule by fatah, and then hamas, Gaza has gotten worse still.  The entity which controls Gaza doesn't seem to change a thing, does it?

Some situations are hopeless.  Gaza is right near the top of that list.

free` The AP should be ashamed of themselves Israel has delivered 1000s of tons of supplies to Gaza. Not to mention all the palestinians who are treated in Israeli hospitals. what a sick twisted organization the AP is. (01/05/10)


GLOBAL WARMING UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

These links are currently shown at www.drudgereport.com.  I thought I would post them here, so you could get the full flavor of how global warming is turning the world into a hothouse: 

Winter Could Be Worst in 25 Years for USA...
CHILL MAP...
3 Deaths Due To Cold in Memphis...
PAPER: GAS SUPPLIES RUNNING OUT IN UK...
Vermont sets 'all-time record for one snowstorm'...
Iowa temps 'a solid 30 degrees below normal'...
Seoul buried in heaviest snowfall in 70 years...
Historic ice build-up shuts down NJ nuclear power plant...
Beijing -- coldest in 40 years...
Miami shivers from coldest weather in decade...

Man oh man, this global warming trend is a killer.  I'll bet heating oil companies are going broke, and overcoat and scarf sales are way down......

BOBW DEAR KEN. I AM NOW IN HK- FOR THOSE WHO DO NOT KNOW IT IS THE SAME LATITUDE AS CUBA- WELL I HAVE BEEN COMING TO HK FOR OVER 30 YEARS IN JANUARY AND IT IS FREEZING AND WINDY- FOR HERE IT IS LESS THAN 50 DEGREES AND IN HK STANDARDS IT IS `DARN COLD. BEJING IS BURIED IN SNOW AND ICE AND ITS IS THE LARGES SNOW FALL AND COLDEST TEMPS IN MORE THAN 50 YEARS. INDIA HAD SNOW YESTERDAY- YES INDIA. PEOPLE ARE NOT PREPARED FOR THIS AND MANY HAVE DIED-SO MUCH FOR LISTENING TO AL GORE. (01/05/10)

Zeke ... ... Looks like the Warmists got caught ... ... all their whining about how "it's getting hotter" ... ... well, some years are hotter, some are cooler ... ... ... ... maybe they will go back to the Party Line of the 1970's -- We're entering the Next Ice Age ... ... ... ... What dweebs ... ... (01/05/10)

Zeke ... ... An Inconvenient Thermometer ? ? (01/05/10)


OUR IN-TRAINING PRESIDENT

Ken Berwitz

From Jennifer Rubin, writing for Commentary Magazine:

 The Perils of Executive Inexperience

Jennifer Rubin - 01.04.2010 - 2:07 PM

Al Hunt writes a column that reveals the typical finger-pointing and backbiting that ensues when things are not going all that well in an administration. First, he relates this episode:

On Dec. 2, as Obama prepared to give a major economic speech at the Brookings Institution on Dec. 8 (and a day after his Afghanistan speech at West Point) he met with policy makers. He heard a familiar reprise of the previous several meetings with budget director Peter Orszag arguing for more emphasis on reducing the deficit and Council of Economic Advisers chief Christina Romer leading the contingent espousing a greater short-term stress on jobs. The president, by his standards, exploded. Why are we having this meeting again, the same discussion, participants quoted him as saying.

But really, who comes off looking bad in this one? Its Obama. He is the one who apparently allows the same discussion to churn endlessly. He is the one who hasnt set the direction of his economic policy. (And that aides would not just finger-point at each other but also suggest that the president is lacking in executive mojo tells us that both focus and loyalty are in short supply in this White House.) Hunt continues with this:

The other problem, an inability to effectively communicate an economic policy, was typified in a Dec. 4 interview with Geithner, who was asked what is the clear, coherent economic message of the administration. He proceeded to talk about high-class education for children, affordable health care, better incentives for energy and infrastructure, public-private arrangements and the like. There are 15.4 million unemployed Americans and another 11.5 million underemployed, either having given up looking and thus not counted in the jobless numbers or involuntarily relegated to part-time work. A laundry list of the Democrats agenda is unlikely to prove comforting.

But is this really the fault of the hapless Geithner or is this rather a problem characteristic of the presidents own lack of focus? Obama spent a year hawking a health-care plan no one can defend on the merits, while pushing a series of small-beans job proposals and signing on to a stimulus plan widely regarded as a failure. For months we saw a new dog-and-pony show every week, each on a different topic. Obamas spinners incessantly told us the problem wasnt that he was trying to do too many things at once. But now it seems that it was and that his key advisers dont understand the administrations top priority.

The administration seems to have reached the stage of leaving the advisers and the message to be blamed. But it is the president who appointed and directs the advisers. And the president celebrated for his eloquence is supposed to be the chief communicator. All of this reveals that the president frankly lacks some basic leadership skills and executive know-how. Obama didnt come to the White House with any executive experience beyond sitting atop a campaign operation that was fortunate to have on off-message primary opponent followed by a non-message general-election opponent. He never ran a company, directed an agency, led a military organization, or served in any executive office. So it shouldnt come as any surprise that the White House doesnt have its act together. The only mild surprise is that now the mainstream media is willing to tell us about it.

I've said it many times and I'll say it again now.  This is our fault.  We elected:

-A President with no qualifications for the office. 

-A President whose entire career has entailed spending millions and millions of dollars he did generate. 

-A President whose understanding of funding is that the money comes from....somewhere.  It drifts down to him like snowflakes in January.  And no matter how much he spends the snow will keep falling and the money will keep drifting down. 

-A President who sees himself in such grandiose terms that, in his mind, simply stating that his agenda items are beneficial is good enough - and if his policies do not work out, it is someone else's fault (mostly the previous President), not his.

We can start to do something about this in November, when the entire house of representatives and one-third of the senate is up for re-election. 

Let's.

Ken Berwitz free - sorry to say, your point has some merit to it. I wish it didn't (i.e. I wish our media were balanced). But the fact remains that a) they aren't and b) they haven't been for long enough so that people should realize as much and take it into account on election day. In the voting booth it is still our choice, and this is what we chose. Shame on us. (01/05/10)

free` "I've said it many times and I'll say it again now. This is our fault." I don't know if that is entirely true. I think the MSM has to take much of the blame. People in this country work hard and don't have 5 or 6 hours a day to peruse the internet to find out everything that is going on, they rely on the media to give them the facts. Well the msm committed fraud when it came to obama, they spent more time telling us how Palin wasn't qualified to be POTUS, [a job she wasn't running for] than they did telling us about obama. (01/05/10)


THE NEW YORK TIMES AND HOMOSEXUALITY

Ken Berwitz

If the New York Times had done nothing other than write an editorial about Uganda's ugly proposal that homosexuality should be punishable by death, I would be 100% with them.  If the Times had done nothing other than write an editorial against any criminalization of homosexuality I would be 100% with them.

But this is the New York Times.  So it couldn't resist pointing out that evangelical Christians from the United States had spent several days in Uganda, giving anti-homosexual lectures and teaching that homosexuals could be "cured" - as if this is what spurred its government to consider the death penalty.

Here is the editorial in question.  The bold print is mine:

Uganda's government, which has a shameful record of discrimination against gay men and lesbians, is now considering legislation that would impose the death sentence for homosexual behavior. The United States and others need to make clear to the Ugandan government that such barbarism is intolerable and will make it an international pariah.

 

Corruption and repression including violence against women and children and abuse of prisoners are rife in Uganda. According to The Timess Jeffrey Gettleman, officially sanctioned homophobia is particularly acute. Gay Ugandans are tormented with beatings, blackmail, death threats and what has been described as correctional rape.

 

The governments venom is chilling: Homosexuals can forget about human rights, James Nsaba Buturo, who holds the cynically titled position of minister of ethics and integrity, said recently.

 

What makes this even worse is that three American evangelical Christians, whose teachings about curing gays and lesbians have been widely discredited in the United States, helped feed this hatred. Scott Lively, Caleb Lee Brundidge and Don Schmierer gave a series of talks in Uganda last March to thousands of police officers, teachers and politicians in which, according to participants and audio recordings, they claimed that gays and lesbians are a threat to Bible-based family values.

 

Now the three Americans are saying they had no intention of provoking the anger that, just one month later, led to the introduction of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill of 2009. You cant preach hate and not accept responsibility for the way that hate is manifested.

 

We dont have much hope that they will atone for their acts. But right now the American government, and others, should make clear to Uganda that if this legislation becomes law, it will lose millions of dollars in foreign aid and be shunned globally.

Notice how they toss in the three evangelicals, and then imply that their talks "led to the introduction..." of proposed death penalty legislation?   Any facts to back it up?  Nope. 

And notice that they call the three "preachers of hate".  Any indication that they spewed hatred towards homosexuals or a demand that they be executed?  Nope.

That, folks, is the current state of the New York Times.

Oh, one other thing.  Just in case you think Uganda was enlightened regarding homosexuality before the three evangelicals showed up, please be advised that, under its current law, homosexuals can be sentenced up to life imprisonment.

And just in case you think this is anything special in that region of the world, please be advised that, among Uganda's East African neighbors, 13 other states declare homosexuality illegal, seven of them have penalties of at least 10 years in jail, and one (Somalia) punishes homosexuality by death. 

In fact, looking at Africa as a whole, homosexuality is illegal in a total of 37 countries, it carries a penalty of 10 years or more in 9 countries, and is already punishable by death in  four of them:  Sudan, Mauritania, Nigeria and, as previously mentioned, Somalia.

Worldwide, homosexuality is illegal in 75 countries, 21 impose sentences of 10 years or more (including a good many Carribean countries) and 8 have the death penalty:  Sudan, Mauritania, Nigeria, Somalia, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates,Yemen and Iran.

This begs the question of where the hell the Times was before there were three evangelicals to dump on.  How many editorials has the Times published about the horrible treatment of homosexuals until it could blame evangelicals?

It is hard to escape the conclusion that The New York Times cares more about crapping on well meaning, if wrong (in my opinion) evangelicals than in fairness and tolerance for homosexuals.


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