Friday, 08 January 2010

THE STATE OF OUR ECONOMY

Ken Berwitz

Do you think we're in bad shape?  You're right - and we're probably in even worse shape than you realize.

Do you think President Obama and his Democratic majority are providing a means to stop the bleeding and turn the economy around?  Then you better read this piece by John Hinderaker at www.powerlineblog.com.  The disaster is Obama and Co's;  the bold print is mine:

January 8, 2010

Prolonging the Recession

January 8, 2010 Posted by John at 8:30 AM

 

Today's economic news is very bad--another 85,000 jobs lost in December, and unemployment stuck at 10 percent. In Monday's Wall Street Journal, economists Gary Becker, Steven Davis and Kevin Murphy explained how the Democrats' failed economic policies have helped to lengthen and deepen the current recession:

In terms of U.S. output contractions, the so-called Great Recession was not much more severe than the recessions in 1973-75 and 1981-82. Yet recovery from the latest recession has started out much more slowly. For example, real GDP expanded by 7.7% in 1983 after unemployment peaked at 10.8% in December 1982, whereas GDP grew at an unimpressive annual rate of 2.2% in the third quarter of 2009. Although the fourth quarter is likely to show better numbers--probably much better--there are no signs of an explosive take off from the recession. ...

In terms of discouraging a rapid recovery, other government proposals created greater uncertainty and risk for businesses and investors. These include plans to increase greatly marginal tax rates for higher incomes. In addition, discussions at the Copenhagen conference and by the president to impose high taxes on carbon dioxide emissions must surely discourage investments in refineries, power plants, factories and other businesses that are big emitters of greenhouse gases.

Congressional "reforms" of the American health delivery system have gone through dozens of versions. The separate bills passed by the House and Senate worry small businesses, in particular. They fear their labor costs will increase because of mandates to spend much more on health insurance for their employees. The resulting reluctance of small businesses to invest, expand and hire harms households as well, because it slows the creation of new jobs and the growth of labor incomes. ...

Even though some of the proposed antibusiness policies might never be implemented, they generate considerable uncertainty for businesses and households. Faced with a highly uncertain policy environment, the prudent course is to set aside or delay costly commitments that are hard to reverse. The result is reluctance by banks to increase lending--despite their huge excess reserves--reluctance by businesses to undertake new capital expenditures or expand work forces, and decisions by households to postpone major purchases.

Several pieces of evidence point to extreme caution by businesses and households. A regular survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) shows that recent capital expenditures and near-term plans for new capital investments remain stuck at 35-year lows. The same survey reveals that only 7% of small businesses see the next few months as a good time to expand. Only 8% of small businesses report job openings, as compared to 14%-24% in 2008, depending on month, and 19%-26% in 2007.

The weak economy is far and away the most prevalent reason given for why the next few months is "not a good time" to expand, but "political climate" is the next most frequently cited reason, well ahead of borrowing costs and financing availability. ,,,

Government statistics tell a similar story. Business investment in the third quarter of 2009 is down 20% from the low levels a year earlier. Job openings are at the lowest level since the government began measuring the concept in 2000. The pace of new job creation by expanding businesses is slower than at any time in the past two decades and, though older data are not as reliable, likely slower than at any time in the past half-century. While layoffs and new claims for unemployment benefits have declined in recent months, job prospects for unemployed workers have continued to deteriorate. The exit rate from unemployment is lower now than any time on record, dating back to 1967. ...

These facts suggest that it was a serious economic mistake to press for a hasty, major transformation of the U.S. economy on the heels of the worst financial crisis in decades.

What we are seeing, in other words, is Barack Obama's economy--the foreseeable consequence of the terrible economic policies that he, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have imposed or threatened to impose on the nation. There will of course be a recovery, as always; but that recovery will be much stronger and faster if Congress makes clear that it will block any further assaults on the economy in the form of cap and trade, massive tax increases, and so on.

Now what do you think?

And what do you think when you hear Obama, Pelosi and Reid blame this on the previous President - a year after he left office? 

Does the word "liar" creep into your thought process?  If not, I suggest you rethink.


THE BUSH STOPS HERE

Ken Berwitz

For a guy who says "the buck stops here", President Obama sure does send a lot of bucks back in time to the Bush administration.

Excerpted from an article by Ben Feller, writing for the Associated Press:

WASHINGTON He says "the buck stops with me," but nearly a year into office President Barack Obama is still blaming a lot of the nation's troubles the economy, terrorism, health care on George W. Bush.

 

Over and over, Obama keeps reminding Americans of the mess he inherited and all he's doing to fix it. A sharper, give-me-some-credit tone has emerged in his language as he bemoans people's fleeting memory about what life was like way back in 2008, particularly on the economy.

 

On terrorism, Americans are less concerned about quiet successes than troubling failures, especially one that evoked harrowing memories of Sept. 11, 2001.

 

On the economy, people prefer good news now, not updates on how things are gradually getting less bad.

The way Obama sees it, the problems he took on recession, war, health care, a warming planet were always too huge and complicated to fix that fast.

 

So he emphasizes progress by taking people back to where he began.

 

Which means taking them back to Bush.

 

"I don't need to remind any of you about the situation we found ourselves in at the beginning of this year," Obama told people at a Home Depot stop last month. And then he reminded them anyway, detailing a nation in financial freefall when he took office.

 

He's not just trying to give people context. He's trying to shore up his standing and his party's, hoping voters will let it all sink in during this big congressional election year.

 

An overwhelming majority of people say 2009 was a bad year for the country, according to the latest Associated Press-GfK poll. As Democrats head toward midterm elections trying to hang onto control of the House and Senate, half of Americans still think the country is headed in the wrong direction.

 

Obama needs to show that he gets results. And so he describes a year of overlooked achievement since his predecessor left town, addressing a range of problems: hate crimes, tobacco advertisements toward children, pay disparities for women, abuses by credit card companies and many more.

 

In other words, change from Bush.

 

Except for when Obama sounds just like Bush with tough words for the enemy.

 

"We are destroying training camps, disrupting communications and dismantling air defenses," Bush said of the mission in Afghanistan in November 2001.

 

Said Obama this week of terrorists seeking to kill Americans: "We are determined not only to thwart those plans but to disrupt, dismantle and defeat their networks once and for all."

 

A Gallup Poll near the end of the year found 25 percent of people just one in four feeling satisfied with how things were going in the United States.

 

"The president himself, not surprisingly, may feel quite satisfied with accomplishments in his first year," said Frank Newport, editor in chief of the Gallup Poll. "But we don't see signs that the American public is positive."

 Maybe the public - which voted President Obama into office little more than year ago - would feel better about him if, along with patting himself  on the back for every accomplishment he ascribes to himself, he concomitantly accepted blame for what has gone wrong.

 Many years ago, people used to joke about the USSR by saying that its motto was "What's mine is mine, what's yours is negotiable".  In 2009, we have Barack Obama essentially saying "What's good is mine, what's bad is Bush's fault". 

That isn't going to sit well with a lot of folks.  And shouldn't.


JEAN BIDEN R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Jean Biden, mother of Vice President Joe Biden, passed away today at the age of 93.  Though no specific cause of death was listed in the articles I've seen, she had fallen ill over recent days.

Ms. Biden was predeceased by her husband, Joseph Biden Sr., who died in 2002 after 61 years of marriage and four children.

What I've read about Ms. Biden is that she was a strong, resolute woman of great conviction and great faith - the kind of person that enriches our society.

My sincerest condolences to the Biden family.  May she rest in peace.


THE OBAMA SPEECH

Ken Berwitz

It was very politically astute of President Obama to say that, when it comes to fighting al qaeda,  "The Buck Stops Here".  It gave him an excuse not to fire any of the senior people whose performance demonstrates that they have no business being in homeland security - starting with Janet "The system worked" Napolitano.  And he isn't going to fire himself, is he?  So everyone is covered.  Sweet. 

I'm still a bit unclear, though, about Mr. Obama calling  umar farouk abdulmutallab's success in boarding a plane with explosives, then detonating them, a "systemic failure" if the buck stops with him.  That sounds like the buck stops with everyone but him.

And I have trouble with Barack Obama telling us that we cannot be partisan - after a year of he and his party literally shutting Republicans out of the legislative process for homeland security and everything else.  Especially when, on the same day he says this, his party is in the process of writing a final health care bill without any Republican input or virtually any C-Span coverage, which insures that the citizens of this country have no clue about what games Democrats are playing with one-sixth of our entire economy.

Bottom line:  The Obama speech was blah blah blah blah blah, read beautifully from a teleprompter.  The President is wonderful at reading from teleprompters.

But I don't feel safer.  Do you?

Zeke ... ... Senor Obama ... he Talk ze Talk, but he no Walk ze Walk ... .... as Comrade in Rooshia say: " Bullshitski ". ... ... .... We still have Janet "the System Worked" Napolitano in charge. ... .... solutions presented (Air Marshalls on every flight, etc) do not have the resources to maintain such an effort (80 hour work weeks will exhaust the posse pretty quick). ... .... 'Connecting the Dots' is ALWAYS damn near impossible in intelligence -- until after the event --- --- sure, the evidence was there ... but so was lots of contradictory evidence; so was lots of similar evidence that was false, misleading or just plain irrelevant. ... .... ... .... Maybe Obama thinks that to improve National Security, we need to INDICT more Agents and Military who are doing their jobs. ... .... ... .... Perhaps send ACORN Community Organizers to Afghanistan. (01/08/10)

free` What bothers me the most about this is they are bypassing the conference committee so they wont have to have another cloture vote. But they are just redefining words like libs usually do. They [house & senate leaders] are meeting to hammer out a bill which is exactly what a conference committee does to merge a house bill and a senate bill into one bill both can agree on. By renaming what they are doing they can bypass long established rules. It makes me sick. (01/08/10)


IS ERIC HOLDER THE MOST DANGEROUS MAN IN AMERICA?

Ken Berwitz

From Andrew McCarthy at National Review (the bold print is mine):

Holders Haste Makes Waste of Intel
Abdulmutallab indictment is a bill of lost intelligence opportunities.

By Andrew C. McCarthy

Eric Holders Justice Department rushed to file an indictment Wednesday against Flight 253 terrorist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab. The telling document is a monument to lost opportunity. Come hell or high water, the Obama administration will press ahead with its commitment to treat al-Qaedas war against the United States as a crime wave best managed by the federal courts.

Al-Qaeda, in fact, is a term you will not find in the bare-bones, seven-page charging instrument. Nor will you encounter such words as Yemen, jihad, terrorism neither Islamic or Islamist. And if youre looking for the names of any co-conspirators such as the al-Qaeda satellite (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) that has publicly claimed credit for the attempted Christmas Day atrocity, or the enemy combatants whove been running that outfit since their improvident release from Gitmo youd best look elsewhere.

Mentioning enemy combatants, of course, would be tantamount to saying there is an ongoing military conflict. It would be as if Congress had authorized the use of force after an attack against the United States as if we had, say, a couple of hundred thousand American troops in harms way. Theres no hint of that in this indictment. Instead, we helpfully learn that Delta Airlines is a United States commercial airline of which Northwest Airlines [is] a subsidiary. We learn that Northwests Flight 253, along with the 289 passengers and crew onboard, were at all times material to this Indictment . . . in the special maritime jurisdiction of the United States.

That turns out to mean that we can have a civilian criminal prosecution in which venue is proper in the Eastern District of Michigan. What could possibly be more important than that?


Lots of things: gathering intelligence, for one. We have now had confirmed by President Obama himself, along with top White House counterterrorism adviser John Brennan that, while Janet Napolitanos system was working so well, Abdulmutallab was an untapped well of operational intelligence.

Hed been training with al-Qaeda for weeks in Yemen, now one of the hottest hubs of terror plotting. He was undoubtedly in a position to identify who had recruited him, who had dispatched him on his mission, and who had trained him in fashioning and detonating chemical explosives. He was in a position to tell us what al-Qaeda knows, that Janet Napolitano apparently doesnt, about our porous airline-security system. He was, moreover, almost certainly in a position to pinpoint paramilitary training facilities, to tell us about other al-Qaeda trainees being taught to do what he was trying to do, and to fill many gaps in our knowledge of the terror networks hierarchy, routines, and governmental connections in Yemen.

That was not to be. The Obama administration decided that forging ahead pell-mell with a criminal prosecution was more important than acquiring every morsel of useful information Abdulmutallab has to give. That meant telling him, immediately upon arrest, that he didnt need to speak to the government at all if he didnt want to. It meant promising to get him a lawyer. It meant he could only be questioned for a few hours by agents who happened to be on the scene but probably didnt know much about al-Qaedas Yemeni operation. It meant the assignment of a defense lawyer and required court appearances that instantly shut down all questioning.

And, yesterday, it meant the Justice Department had to file a stop the clock indictment. Under the Speedy Trial Act, when an arrested person is denied bail, the government has only ten business days to file formal charges. So the government hastily slaps together a very lean indictment. Prosecutors never want to allege anything theyre not positive they can prove. Blunders in an indictment signal that someone may have given false testimony in the grand jury or that the Justice Departments theory of the case is flawed. Such errors are exploited to great effect by defense counsel at trial.

So, at this premature investigative stage, the government alleges only what it knows for sure. Indications are that it doesnt know much. There are only six counts. They all charge Abdulmutallab alone, as if he were the only relevant actor in this conspiracy. Indeed, by the Justice Departments lights, you cant even call the case a conspiracy. DOJ hasnt charged one not with al-Qaeda, not with anyone.

For now, the indictment portrays Abdulmutallab as if he were the lone-wolf terrorist that Obama administration officials, including the president himself, absurdly labeled him to be in the initial hours after his capture, snug in their default denial of the fact that there is a war on and that jihadists still hate us despite all the Cairo speechifying, the bowing, the engagement, and the new tone. Abdulmutallab is accused, by his lonesome, of trying to destroy an airplane, of using explosive devices, and of the attempted murder of 289 people a number that apparently includes the terrorist himself. (Thats not likely to go over well with the presidents fans in the right to die community, but when youre in a mad rush to meet a litigation deadline, these sorts of hiccups happen.)

Rest assured this wont be the final indictment. The investigation is now scorching the earth with subpoenas. Phone and travel records are being combed. Old wiretaps are being scrubbed. Ultimately, there will be a superseding indictment, and it will probably include conspiracy charges. For now, though, the government is playing catch-up with events. More important, it is playing catch-up without Abdulmutallab. Because Obama is going the civilian prosecution route, there is no interrogating him without his lawyers okay and that wont be given unless the Justice Department is willing to plea bargain and make valuable concessions.

And thats the point. Even the current skeletal indictment shows we can easily convict Abdulmutallab and get him sentenced to life imprisonment without knowing a single additional detail. We could do that tomorrow or five years from now. We dont owe this terrorist any concessions. The case and the evidence are not going anywhere.

Prosecutorial success, however, has precious little to do with national-security success. For the latter, we need intelligence. We could have gotten it and gotten it right now, when it would be most useful to U.S. military and intelligence officials trying to protect Americans.

President Obama could have designated Abdulmutallab an enemy combatant, detained him as a war prisoner, denied him counsel, and had him interrogated until wed exhausted his reservoir of information. Indeed, the president could still do that. He could direct the attorney general to table the indictment. Then, some time down the road, he could hand Abdulmutallab back to the Justice Department for prosecution. No, we wouldnt be able to use the fruits of his military interrogation against him. But as the indictment filed Wednesday shows, we dont need those statements to convict him. We could convict him now.

To protect the United States, though, we dont need Abdulmutallabs conviction. We need his information. Wednesdays indictment demonstrates what two weeks of Obamas amateur-hour performance have suggested all along: We dont have it.

eric holder, current Attorney General of the United States and former senior partner at Covington & Burling - renowned for defending terrorists, often pro bono - is the man responsible for this.

We have had good AG's in my life and bad ones.  Competents and incompetents.  But we have never had an AG more dangerous to this country. 

eric holder must be fired.  Now.  Today.  And if there were a way to retroactively fire him the same day he was installed as AG I would support it.

This is not some political game.  It is the safety, the lives, of US citizens at play.  We cannot afford to have a terrorist-sympathetic catastrophe on legs, like eric holder, in charge of the justice department. Not even for one day longer.


A STERN ADMONITION

Ken Berwitz

As you may know, a professional basketball player, Gilbert Arenas, was suspended indefinitely for pulling a gun (I've read it was unloaded) in his team's lockerroom during an argument with another player. 

Here is Linda Chavez' commentary on how Mr. Arenas is being treated by the NBA's commissioner, David Stern.  It provides a lot of food for thought about Mr. Arenas, Mr. Stern, and the vile al sharpton.  See what you think:

Friday, January 08, 2010

 

Don't Take Cues from Al Sharpton

by Linda Chavez

 

I am no fan of thugs or wannabes in professional sports, but NBA Commissioner David Stern is making Washington Wizards guard Gilbert Arenas a scapegoat for Stern's own past inaction in dealing with violence among NBA players. Stern announced this week that he was indefinitely suspending Arenas, saying that Arenas "is not currently fit to take the court in an NBA game."

Stern's action ostensibly stems from an incident involving Arenas bringing unloaded guns to the Wizards locker room in December and then joking about the incident. But the real impetus seems to be some effective mau-mauing on the part of Al Sharpton, who claims to have called Stern personally to pressure him to get tough with Arenas. Sharpton has suddenly become interested in reducing violence in the black community. Now that's a noble goal, but Sharpton is rather late in coming to the conclusion that black-on-black violence is a major issue, having spent much of his career fanning the flames of racial hatred.

Sharpton has yet to renounce his own role in provoking an arson attack against a Jewish storeowner in Harlem in 1995, which killed seven victims; or his involvement in the Tawana Brawley hoax, in which a 15-year-old girl falsely accused six white men, including police officers, of having abducted, raped and tortured her; and dozens of other similar incidents. Listening to the likes of Sharpton suggests Stern is the one not "fit" to keep his job.

There is no question that Arenas made a mistake, and one that requires some penalty, but his actions both on and off the court belie the notion that he is some gang-banger wannabe inspiring young black men to violence. Neither David Stern nor Al Sharpton seems to have a clue as to who Gilbert Arenas really is. Unlike so many of his colleagues in the NBA, Arenas is a model citizen: a family man; a philanthropist who gives not only money but his time to helping underprivileged kids in D.C.; a man who showed up in person at the D.C. Armory with $18,000 in clothing and toiletries to help Hurricane Katrina victims; a man who donated $100 for every point he scored to DC area schools, raising $215,000 in one season. He doesn't do this stuff for publicity but because he believes in giving back to his community.

But Stern's actions aren't just misguided given Arenas' character. Stern has repeatedly dealt with far more egregious behavior on the part of NBA players by doing nothing or with slaps on the wrist. Just this season, Cleveland Cavaliers player Delonte West was pulled over for driving recklessly and cutting off a police officer. West was arrested when police found a loaded Beretta 9mm in his waistband, a loaded Ruger .357 magnum strapped to his leg, and a loaded shotgun slung over his back. Yet Stern never suspended West. And he only suspended NBA players Stephen Jackson, who fired a gun outside a strip club in 2007, for seven games, and Sebastian Telfair for two games for carrying a gun aboard a team flight in 2006.

However, that was before Sharpton pressured Stern. Why is Stern even listening to a guy who fanned anti-Semitic riots in Crown Heights, N.Y., saying, "If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house" and referring to Jews as "diamond merchants." Nor has Sharpton changed his tune; in the last presidential campaign, he said of Republican candidate Mitt Romney, "As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him."

Instead of listening to Sharpton, Stern should spend some time getting to know the players whose lives he exerts such control over. He's passed judgment on Arenas before all the facts are fully investigated. If Stern were a judge passing sentence on someone accused of a crime, he'd hear from character witnesses and try to assess whether the behavior was indicative of a single mistake or part of a worrisome pattern that deserved harsh justice. Arenas does not deserve to have his career ended by a single -- if admittedly awful -- incident of bad judgment.

Arenas has shown time and again that he's one of the good guys in the NBA, and there are all too few of them to see him pay the price for Stern's failure to deal with those who deserve to be sent packing. Stern should give him another chance. He's worth it.

Should Gilbert Arenas have been suspended?  You bet he should have. 

But is Ms. Chavez right that the degree of punishment is being used by David Stern to, in effect, "catch up" on punishment that should have been meted out to others in the past?  And what in the name of logic or decency does al sharpton bring to this matter, besides a conked hairdo and a big, ugly mouth?

You be the referee on this one.  It's your call.


IRAN UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

These excerpts, from an Associated Press article today, are about those nice folks in Iran who President Obama thinks he can have fruitful talks with:

Gunmen open fire at Iranian opposition leader

By NASSER KARIMI, Associated Press Writer Nasser Karimi, Associated Press Writer 30 mins ago

 

TEHRAN, Iran Armed pro-government demonstrators opened fire on the car of an Iranian opposition leader shattering its windows, his Web site reported Friday.

 

Sahamnews said the shooting happened late Thursday while former presidential candidate Mahdi Karroubi was leaving a building in Qazvin, some 90 miles (140 kilometers) west of Tehran.

 

Karroubi ran in June's disputed elections that reformists say was won by President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad because of fraud. Unrest began immediately Ahmadinejad's re-election. Clashes between security forces and opposition supporters resumed late last month, killing at least eight people.

 

The shooting against Karroubi, however, represents a rare armed attack on a leading opposition figure. In 1999, the pro-reform politician Saeed Hajjarian was shot in the face and paralyzed. The attack is an indication that the political turmoil rocking the country is possibly slipping out of the government's control.

 

Last month's bloodshed was the worst since riots following the disputed June election. Since then death threats against opposition leaders have increased. In a pro-government demonstration in late December, protesters called for the execution of karroubi and his fellow opposition leader, Mir Hossein Mousavi.

 

On Friday, the senior cleric Kazem Sedighi appeared to give a green light for people to take matters into their own hands against opposition figures if the authorities didn't.

 

"I am concerned that people will lose patience if the legal apparatus does not conduct its affairs in a timely manner," he said at Friday prayers in the capital.

 

Opposition members have on several occasions since the June election poured into the streets to protest the results. The opposition says more than 80 protesters have been killed in the postelection crackdown, but the government puts the number of confirmed dead at less than 40.

Do have a nice chat with the folks running Iran, Mr. President.  I'm sure it will be very productive. 

At the very least, it will certainly be more involvement than you have had with the Iranians risking (and sometimes losing) their lives protesting in favor of freedom and democracy. 

But, hey, it's better than talking to no one at all, isn't it?


ERIC HOLDER'S PRIORITIES

Ken Berwitz

Attorney General eric holder cannot figure out a way to put enemy combatants like khalid sheikh mohammed and umar farouk abdulmutallab before a military tribunal. 

eric holder cannot figure out a reason to accept a default judgment against members of the new Black panther party after they threatened White voters in Philadelphia last election day.

But he has no problem figuring out how to do this, which comes to us from the Newark Star-Ledger.  Please pay special attention to the part I've put in bold print:

Justice Department lawsuit accuses N.J. of discrimination in written police tests

By Chris Megerian/Statehouse Bureau

January 07, 2010, 7:30PM

New Jerseys civil service test for police officers seeking a promotion to sergeant discriminates against African-American and Hispanic candidates, according to a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Department of Justice Thursday.

Even African-Americans and Hispanics who pass the multiple-choice test are less likely to receive promotions because their scores are lower, according to the 10-page lawsuit filed against the state and the Civil Service Commission. The suit seeks to block the state from using the test.

Read U.S. Department of Justice lawsuit

At least 120 municial and county police departments in New Jersey have used the discriminatory system from 2000 to 2008, according to Department of Justice spokesman Alejandro Miyar.

Eighteen of the states 20 largest cities and townships, including Newark, use the same test.

"This complaint should send a clear message to all public employers that employment practices with unlawful discriminatory impact on account of race or national origin will not be tolerated," said Thomas Perez, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division. "The Justice Department will take all necessary action to ensure that such discriminatory practices are eliminated and that the victims of such practices are made whole."

Civil Service Commission spokesman Mark Perkiss said the test is developed internally and administered annually with different questions each year. "Weve been testing for this position for decades," he said.

Perkiss did not comment on the contents of the test. He referred questions on the lawsuit to the attorney generals office, but the spokesman there, David Wald, declined comment.

Newark Police Department spokesman Detective Hubert Henderson said the approximately four-hour test covers traffic and criminal laws, as well as state guidelines.

When preparing for the test, Henderson said, candidates study two or three textbooks and sometimes take courses costing $2,500 to $3,000. He said hes never heard any discrimination complaints involving the test.

The Department of Justice is arguing the state has violated Title VII, which prohibits employment discrimination, because it hasnt proved that the test, which some departments require for promotions to sergeant, is an essential tool for determing fitness for the job.

Between 2000 and 2008, 89 percent of the white candidates who took the test passed it, compared to 73 percent of African-American candidates and 77 percent of Hispanic candidates, the lawsuit says.

"For whatever reason, the test as it currently exists has a disparate impact," Miyar said. "We dont have a problem with the use of a written test, but if the state wishes to do so it must not have a disparate impact."

The lawsuit says the state and the Civil Service Commission "have pursued and continue to pursue policies and practices that discriminate against African-American and Hispanic candidates and that deprive or tend to deprive African Americans and Hispanics of employment opportunities."

Let's review:  Everyone takes the same test.  It is a test covering traffic laws, criminal laws and state guidelines - which do not vary by race.  A large majority of Black and Hispanics - about 3/4 of candidates in each group - pass it.

But because a higher percentage of Whites pass it, that means it must be discriminatory?????????????????????????

This, apparently, is what is occupying eric holder's time.

eric holder is a joke.  A disgrace.  The single worst AG in my lifetime, and maybe yours too.  Comparatively speaking, this guy makes Alberto Gonzalez look like Judge Brandeis and John Mitchell look like John Jay.

Get rid of him now.  Even sooner if you can figure out how.

free` It Has Begun, Judge Tosses Out Most Evidence In GITMO Terrorist Trial. mypetjawa.mu.nu/archives/200344.php (01/08/10)


ABDULMUTALLAB PLEADS "NOT GUILTY"

Ken Berwitz

From the AP (but many other sources as well):

DETROIT A Nigerian man pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he tried to blow up a packed U.S. Detroit-bound airliner on Christmas Day.

 

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab said little during a federal court hearing that lasted less than five minutes. The 23-year-old, who wore a white T-shirt, tennis shoes and light olive pants, said "yes" in English when asked if understood the charges against him.

It should be noted that abdulmutallab made his not guilty plea, while recovering from basically blowing his balls off in an effort to do what he just pled not guilty to.

Why isn't this "man" in intensive interrogation to find out everything he knows about al qaeda, where he was trained within Yemen, who trained him, and what other plots he knows or has heard about?

Why isn't he being put before a military tribunal instead of a civil court where our tax dollars will pay for him to not give this information?

Why is eric holder still the Attorney General of this country?

free` It is like we have time warped back to the 90's. (01/08/10)


FROM THE FOLKS WHO WANT TO TAKE OVER HEALTH CARE

Ken Berwitz

Read this column by Don Surber of the Charleston (WVA) Daily Telegraph.  And leave a cushion under your chin, to protect against it dropping onto a hard surface:

Free taxis with Medicaid

For three years now, a woman has left her home in Poughkeepsie, New York, five days a week and taken a taxi to visit her child at St. Margarets Center, a nursing home for disabled children in Albany, New York. Each night, she rides home by taxi.

That costs $300 a day.

What dedication by taxpayers.

That is right. Taxpayers have shelled out $196,000 over the past three years so that she can make this Poughkeepsie-Albany commute each day. Incredibly, state health officials defended this daily abuse of taxpayers. Could not the woman move to Albany?

It would have been cheaper to buy her a Cadillac Escapade and have her drive herself.

But under Medicaids incomprehensibly illogical rules, taxpayers had to give this woman a whopping $65,000 subsidy.

We underpay doctors by 20% or more. But one likely two cab drivers have a gravy train going there.

For New York state, the bill comes to $98,000 with federal taxpayers shelling out another $98,000.

Oh and this happens all over the place. Ambulances in Southern West Virginia became taxis as they shuttled people off to the drug store and the like and then billed Medicaid.

New York state Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli said the $196,000 taxi drive was part of at least $169 million in misspent funds.

We found the state Medicaid system is leaking millions of dollars, DiNapoli told the Albany Times-Union. Safeguards designed to protect the taxpayers by detecting waste, fraud and abuse keep failing.

No, those safeguards are set so far from safety that they are designed to let insiders game the system.

Obamacare will be no different.

This the the same government that wants to run our health care - with a promise that costs will go down, not up.

You would have to be brain-dead to buy what they're selling.


WASHINGTON POST COMMENTERS

Ken Berwitz

The Washington Post allows online readers to comment on what their opinion columnists write. 

I thought you would be interested in seeing the quality of some (not all, but a good many) of these comments.  So I've compiled a small sampling of people's thoughts regarding Charles Krauthammer's latest column, in which he writes that President Obama seems more intent on closing Guantanamo than extracting information from terrorists.  

Illustratively, here's one from someone calling him/herself "numbers 28":

All you mini chihuahua rethugs with frothing mouths need to realize that all your LIES and revisionist history will not get your heroes, the bush/cheney criminal cabal nearly drove us off the cliff. History will always remember all you slugs who voted for these slime balls.

The rethuglikon politicization of terrorism needs to be defeated. Other countries have lived and survived terror, and they do not drop solids in their pants for out of fear.

All the bigoted members of the coalition of birthers, deathers, screamers, I want my country back ultra racists, and dumber than joe the plumbers need to go hid under you mothers' beds or just sit in the corner and suck your thumbs. We're tired of your LIES!

Wake up America, because rethugs do not care about you. We have traitors living amongst us.

Now how can you argue with intelligent discourse like that? 

Interestingly, if you go to your bible you will find that Numbers 28 talks about offerings/sacrifices that are to be made on various occasions.  That's fair enough, since this commenter seems to have sacrificed reason, logic and sanity.

Want another one?  Here's the start of a longer comment by "FeComments".

Birthers, teabaggers, radical right wing "christians", secessionist, healthcare anti-reformist,etc., are all the same core group of poor, uninformed ultra-conservative pawns tricked by the corporate masters and cheerleadered by AM conservative talk radio to get these people to believe and vote against their own self interest.

It isn't any wonder that the main weapon to keep the rank and file conservatives in check is fear. Conservatives fear that their guns are going to be taken away, they fear that U.S. will become socialist, they fear that health care reform will kill off the elderly, they fear that the president is a muslim, they fear that when minorities are in power that reverse racisms will run rampant, they fear that every nation under the sun wants to destroy the U.S. and on and on. This is the main message of Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, et al. to be afraid. After 8 hours a day at least 5 days a week conservatives literally become brainwashed through the radio and then some on Fox news to be afraid and angry.

Wouldn't it be fun to sit next to FeComments at, say, a wedding reception?  Oh the joyousness.....

I'll give you one more (and trust me when I tell you there are dozens and dozens and dozens to choose from).  It is excerpted from the redoubtable ' coiaorguk": 

Bush, the murderer, needs indicting for signing off:

1. Prolonged isolation,
2. Prolonged sleep deprivation,
3. Sensory deprivation,
4. Extremely painful "stress positions,"
5. Sensory bombardment (such as prolonged loud noise and/or bright lights),
6. Forced nakedness,
7. Sexual humiliation,
8. Cultural humiliation (such as desecration of holy scriptures),
9. Being subjected to extreme cold that induces hypothermia,
10. Exploitation of phobias,
11. Simulation of the experience of drowning, i.e., waterboarding.
12. Treason
13. Murder

A February 2002 memorandum signed by President George W. Bush, stating that the Third Geneva Convention guaranteeing humane treatment to prisoners of war did not apply to al-Qaeda or Taliban detainees, and a December 2002 memo signed by former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, approving the use of "aggressive techniques" against detainees held at Guantanamo Bay, as key factors that lead to the extensive abuses.

Bush the Iraq child murderer sits soporific, a zombie devoid of conscious, unable to comprehend a changed America, an America gone back to the roots of justice, truth and humanity.

Evidently, in this commenter's mind (such as it is), President Obama's two troops surges in Afghanistan, and his use of unmanned drones to hit villages thought to have terrorist leaders - at an enormous cost in collateral damage (also known as innocent civilians) - is much more humane.....

Getting the picture?

Yes, there are a minority of commenters answering - or, at any rate - trying to answer - the geniuses who post this material.  But they are way, way outnumbered. 

The Washington Post certainly leans Democrat.  Heavily so.  But it isn't completely off the charts; which leads me to wonder why its comment area is a magnet for looney-tunes like these.

Your thoughts? 

Zeke ... ... Ken --- your refrain, "the 2010, 2012 elections cannot come fast enough" --- so we can vote the bastards out ... ... ... ... well, that might not work out, at all ..... ... ... ... Stalin said: "It's Not the People Who Vote that Count; It's the People Who Count the Votes". ... ... and, it looks like Al Franken's 'victory' was only the test run of the forthcoming elections ... ... ... americanthinker-dot-com/2010/01/understanding_the_democrats_sc.html (01/09/10)


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