Thursday, 08 July 2010


Ken Berwitz


President Obama has accomplished a great deal since becoming President. 


That is undeniably true, and it has been touted by many of Mr. Obama's supporters as a demonstration of his greatness. 


But it isn't. 


The truth is, any President who is handed huge majorities in both houses of congress can pass pretty much anything he wants.  It is no more of an achievement than the New Orleans Saints running up the score against a college football team.  When you're in full command, you're going to get things done.


So let's evaluate President Obama's performance in a more realistic way.  Let's take, say, the five most important issues of the day and see how he is doing on them.


Which issues are in the top five?  That, of course, is entirely subjective.  But this is my blog, so I get to choose.  And the five I think of, in no particular order, are the economy, health care, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, illegal immigration and the oil rig disaster.


Let's take them one by one: 

-The economy:  In the toilet, circling the drain.  We were handed (rammed down our throats is more like it) a trillion-dollar "stimulus" package that was supposed to cap unemployment at 8% and create millions of jobs.  We were told that, without it, unemployment would go to 9% or 9.5%. 


But once it passed, unemployment jumped upward - to a high of 10.2% and currently 9.5%.  This is beyond what Mr. Obama said would happen if we didn't pass the "stimulus package".  And millions upon millions of jobs have been lost. 


While it is true that there is modestly positive news for a couple of economic indicators, most people correctly believe that the key measure is jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs and jobs.  That is where Mr. Obama is failing most - and where he is doing most of his lying about it as well.


-Health Care:  The country didn't want it, but Barack Obama and his Democratic congress did, so it was passed.  Mr. Obama assured us that everyone who wanted to keep his/her current insurance would be able to, and that we would realize a surplus - hundreds of billions of dollars - from the new system.  A pack of lies.


Before ObamaCare was passed, most polls showed that the country was against it.  Now, months later, as information leaks out about how many people will not be able to keep their current insurance and how much ObamaCare will cost us, not save us, those data are even more negative.  Illustratively, in the latest (Rasmussen) poll, 60% of the country demands that it be repealed altogether. 


And this is before people start finding out about Donald Berwick, the recess-appointed head of Medicare and Medicaid, who is in love with the UK health care model and how it rations treatment.  Death panels anyone?


-The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:   

Iraq:  First we were told all troops would be out in 16 months.  Then we were told all combat troops would be out in 16 months.  Now, almost 18 months later, the combat troops are still there. 


Plus, the Obama administration has the effrontery - and consummate dishonesty - to be bragging about its success in Iraq, when all it did was ride the policies implemented by President Bush. 


When Bush authorized the troop surge which turned the tide in Iraq, Here is what then-senator Obama said:  "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse".  In other words, he was against what he now tries to take credit for.


AfghanistanPresident Bush removed the taliban, closed up the al qaeda training camps, captured or killed most of the al qaeda "leadership" and put bin laden and his tool zawahiri into hiding for the rest of his presidency.  He managed to do this with an initial troop deployment of about 5,000, which grew to the 20 - 25,000 range when he left.  Under President Bush we had a total of 630 combat fatalities. 


But President Obama has decided that this isn't good enough, so he has quadrupled the number of troops in Afghanistan.  We are not any more successful there now than we were under Bush, but in the 18 or so months since Mr. Obama took office combat fatalaties - 531 through June - are approaching what they were for the 7 + years we fought there under President Bush.  And because we have so many troops there now, it's a near certainty that this number will increase by leaps and bounds.  For what?

-Illegal immigration:  Not only has President Obama done nothing whatsoever to stem the flood of illegal aliens crossing our border, he is actively attempting to prevent individual states (specifically Arizona) from trying to do so on their own -- even when the new Arizona laws are virtually parallel to the federal laws Mr. Obama is ignoring.


It is hard not to conclude that Mr. Obama is abdicating his responsibilities and leaving the borders unsecure because he thinks it will elevate his standing among Latino voters.


-The oil rig disaster:  If ever there were a case study in incompetence and ineptitude, this is it.


It has been 80 days since the deepwater well exploded and oil started belching out into the Gulf of Mexico.  But Mr. Obama, who was President when this lease was given (April, 2009) and his people clearly had no plan of action to address the possibility of such a disaster.  And, though he tried to blame President Bush for the deregulation which, he claimed, enabled BP to operate unsafely, he never tried to change those regulations in the well over a year he was President - even though he had a huge majority in both houses of congress that would have voted for the changes if he demanded them.


And that's just the tip of the iceberg.  Until just recently - and only on a limited basis - President Obama has steadfastly refused the equipment and the expertise of over a dozen countries which offered it.  Untold amounts of oil were polluting the Gulf and destroying the U.S. shoreline, but he refused help.


Wait, there's more.  Incredibly, Mr. Obama has allowed the department of fish and wildlife to prevent ships with oil skimming capability from operating, until the environmental impact of the ships - not the oil, the ships - could be assessed.  That is insane.


And, as icing on the cake, Mr. Obama has grossly impeded the attempts by Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to build berms and other obstructions that might prevent some or all the oil from washing ashore.  This was so damaging and so ridiculous that James Carville, as partisan a Democrat as you will ever find, condemned him for it.

Ok, there you are.  President Obama's performance on the five most important issues of his presidency.  Failure after failure.  A triumph of poor performance, politics over principle and outright incompetence.


I'll just bet that congresspeople in competitive races throughout the country just can't wait for him to campaign for them........

Zeke .... While absolutely true, I believe you actually meant to say the current administration: ..... " -Illegal immigration: Not only has President Bush done nothing whatsoever to stem the flood of illegal aliens ... " (07/08/10)


Ken Berwitz

The lead editorial in this morning's New York Times deals with federal law being overridden. 

Read this excerpt and see how you feel about it:


The Constitution Trumps San Francisco

Published: July 7, 2010

The Obama administration has not always been completely clear about its immigration agenda, but it was forthright Tuesday when it challenged the pernicious San Francisco policy that declares itself a sanctuary city for illegal aliens. Only the federal government can set or enforce immigration policy, the government said in its lawsuit against the city, and San Francisco has crossed this constitutional line.


There is nothing terribly complicated about this principle, which is based on several aspects of the Constitution, acts of Congress, and Supreme Court decisions over the years. A patchwork of state and local immigration policies would cause havoc.

What do you think?  Are you impressed?  Has the New York Times finally come to its senses?

Well, before you send the editorial staff a thank you note, please be aware that this is not what the lead editorial actually said.

Here is the real excerpt:


The Constitution Trumps Arizona

Published: July 7, 2010

The Obama administration has not always been completely clear about its immigration agenda, but it was forthright Tuesday when it challenged the pernicious Arizona law that allows the police to question the immigration status of people they detain for local violations. Only the federal government can set or enforce immigration policy, the government said in its lawsuit against the state, and Arizona has crossed this constitutional line.


There is nothing terribly complicated about this principle, which is based on several aspects of the Constitution, acts of Congress, and Supreme Court decisions over the years. A patchwork of state and local immigration policies would cause havoc.

A bit different, wouldn't you say?

Ok, let's review:

For years and years, San Francisco - along with literally dozens of other Democrat-controlled cities - has declared itself a "sanctuary city" in which illegals would be welcomed and nurtured just like legals.  That is in direct violation of federal law.  And you can look until your eyes fall out but you won't find any editorial condemning this usurpation of federal jurisdiction by the New York Times.

But now Arizona, desperately in need of federal immigration laws being enforced and thoroughly exasperated that the Obama administration will not enforce them, has passed state immigration laws which parallel the federal laws almost word for word.  Arizona is not trying to change the rules, they are trying to enforce the same laws that the federal government clearly is ignoring.

And for doing nothing other than to obtain the protection our federal government is legally obligated to provide, but does not, the New York Times attacks Arizona's "pernicious" action.

For those of you who don't know, pernicious means injurious, destructive and wicked. 

So it is the Times' view that when a San Francisco (among other cities) specifically defies federal law on behalf of illegal aliens, that's not worth a condemnatory editorial.  But when Arizona passes laws which specifically parallel federal immigration law because the current administration is ignoring its legal obligations, that is worth a condemnatory editorial.

Then they wonder why people call them biased?  Then they wonder why readers are leaving them in droves?  Then they wonder why.....ahhh, what's the point?  Why should I think the Times' editorial staff is even capable of realizing what hypocrites they are.


Ken Berwitz

I have to admit that this one confuses me. 

West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd died last month.  And, because state law is not 100% clear-cut*** there are two ways that he might be replaced:  either by holding a special election in November, or by the Governor (Democrat Joe Manchin) appointing a successor to finish his term, which ends in 2012.  There was even talk that Manchin, who has made it clear that he aspires to the position, might appoint himself to the position (yes, it is legal for him to do that). 

Initially, the decision was to appoint a successor. And since Republicans weren't screaming for a special election - at least not that I know of - I assumed it was a done deal.

But now, inexplicably, we have this, excerpted from an Associated Press article:

CHARLESTON, W.Va. West Virginia's top lawyer cleared the way Thursday for Gov. Joe Manchin to put the late Robert C. Byrd's Senate seat on the November ballot.


Attorney General Darrell McGraw, responding to questions posed by Manchin a day earlier, concluded that the governor can declare a special election to fill what remains of Byrd's term. Manchin sought the legal opinion after joining a growing push for a vote earlier than 2012, when Byrd would have faced re-election.


The iconic Democrat died last week after more than a half-century in the Senate. The 92-year-old had just over 30 months left in his term.


Secretary of State Natalie Tennant, West Virginia's chief elections officer, earlier ruled that whomever Manchin appointed to fill the vacancy could keep the seat until 2012. Tennant later said she personally favored an earlier election.


Tennant, Manchin and McGraw are all Democrats, but voters overwhelmingly went for Republican John McCain in the 2008 presidential race, and a special election would put another Democratic Senate seat in play this year as the party struggles to retain its majority.


McGraw's ruling said Tennant's analysis relied too much on a 1994 state court ruling, and too little on the 17th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which shifted the election of U.S. senators from state legislatures to voters.

Huh?  Why would Manchin do such a thing? 

West Virginia is trending Republican, and 2010 looks like a disastrous year for Democratic candidates.  Why wouldn't Governor Manchin insist on appointing a Democrat to the senate - either himself or someone who would assure him he/she would not try for a full term in 2012, thus leaving a clear field for his own run? 

Why wouldn't Manchin avoid the very real possibility that a Republican will win in November, which then would mean he'd be running against an incumbent two years later?

Personally, I like Joe Manchin.  I have seen him at work during two mining disasters, and he comes across as very competent and very close to the people he governs.  But I'm stymied by his decision to run the special election.

I don't get it.


*** Here, from Jonathan Allen of, is an explanation of why the procedure for Byrd's succession is ambiguous.

Under West Virginia election law, Manchin surely would have been able to appoint someone to serve the entire balance of Byrds term had Byrd died after July 3  or with less than 30 months left to go on a term that expires Jan. 3, 2013. But with more than 30 months left of an unexpired term, the law stipulates that he tap an interim successor until an election can be held.

That law, however, isnt clear on two points within the construct: First, the law is silent on when, exactly, a vacancy occurs  at the time of death, when the Senate informs the state or when the governor declares it?  and the law for calling a special election is written in a way that suggests that it couldn't be held until the date of the next regularly scheduled election in 2012.

Heres the relevant wording from the West Virginia code: If the unexpired term of any office is for a longer period than [30 months], the appointment is until a successor to the office has timely filed a certificate of candidacy, has been nominated at the primary election next following such timely filing and has thereafter been elected and qualified to fill the unexpired term.

West Virginia held this year's primary election in May and does not have another regularly scheduled election until 2012.


Ken Berwitz

I don't like to blog about celebrities.  Especially a celebrity whose personal behavior has resulted in her being washed up at the age of 24 - except for the scandal pages, that is.

But I'll make an exception and give you the following excerpt from Andrea Peyser's write-up about Lindsay Lohan in today's New York Post.

Enough! Blubbering, bawling mega boob Lindsay Lohan doesn't deserve a speck of your sympathy or support, nor a dollop of respect. What Linz desperately needs is a swift kick in the teeth, a foot in the backside and a broom with which to clean up her many messes, which I would not touch with a full-body condom.

She's finished. Over. Once, she was a role model for young ladies, the fresh-faced child star who entered our living rooms and movie theaters with heaps of promise and every opportunity known to man and the creator. Now, she poses a dangerous example to girls everywhere, proving that, with enough money, fame and drugs, one never has to take responsibility for one's behavior. 

VARNISHED  TARNISHED: Lindsay Lohan appears in court yesterday with the message 'f - - k u' painted on her fingernail.
David McNew/Pool
These days, she resembles something dragged in on the bottom of my shoe.

Even in LA, a town of second, third and 23rd chances, the pathologically spoiled, drug-addled skank finally went too far, which is saying a lot in a place where a judge kissed up to girl-beater Chris Brown, and a jury actually freed OJ Simpson.

Lindsay has been running roughshod over drug, drinking and driving laws almost as long as she's been alive, thumbing her nose at court-ordered counseling while blaming everyone -- counselors, handlers, boy-girl lovers, even her miserable father -- for her epic failures as a sentient human.

As the final insult, she came to court on Tuesday with her left middle fingernail stenciled with the height of obscenities -- "f - - k u" -- which Lindsay aimed squarely at the judge, spectators and the planet in general. It should have been aimed squarely at Lindsay herself.

Enough already!

If Lindsay can't read, which is seriously in question, I suggest she get someone to recite for her the Department of Labor statistics that reveal that 54 percent -- more than one in two! -- of adults under age 25 are unemployed. This means that lots of people of Lindsay's precise age would maim for a single day spent enjoying the perks and opportunities she routinely tosses away like yesterday's love interest.

Lindsay, whose mother, Dina, may be just a smidge less insufferable than her fair-haired meal ticket, was full of excuses when she came to court. But she could not quite explain away her daughter's lapses, such as what she was doing in Cannes when she should have been undergoing counseling.

Lindsay's excuse? She lost her passport and couldn't come home!

She blamed everyone. Except her own miserable self.

My reason for posting this is to show just how far a young actress can fall if she is never told "no" and never suffers the consequences of behaving as if no rules apply to her.  The lion's share of blame belongs, of course, to Ms. Lohan personally, but there is plenty of blame within her family as well.

Is Lindsay Lohan this generation's Dana Plato?  So far their paths are disquietingly similar.

I hope not.

Zeke ... .... .... Interesting article.... but you neglected to pontificate on which team she'll be playing Basketball for. (07/08/10)


Ken Berwitz

How crazy are world cup soccer fans? 

This crazy. From Erik Kirschbaum, writing for Reuters:

German fans want revenge grilling of oracle octopus

By Erik Kirschbaum

Thursday, July 8, 2010; 10:44 AM
BERLIN (Reuters Life!) -


Some Germans are calling for a public roasting of the oracle octopus who correctly picked the winner of all six of their national soccer team's World Cup matches -- including a bitter defeat to Spain on Wednesday.


Paul, a two-year-old octopus in a German aquarium, turned into a global celebrity for his uncanny ability to predict the winner of all Germany's matches -- even a group stage defeat to Serbia and an ousting by Spain in the semi-finals.


"Nothing beats grilled octopus," said Dolores Lusch, a Germany fan who works on a Berlin fish stall. "Cut him up in thin slices and grill him on all sides with a dash of lemon juice, olive oil and garlic on it. Delicious!"


Not an ordinarily superstitious people, Germans became believers in Paul's possible psychic powers. The country was shocked and distraught when he picked Spain to win after tipping German wins over Argentina, England, Ghana and Australia.


German newspapers and websites were filled with suggestions of what to do with Paul -- most involved cooking and eating him.


"Throw him in the frying pan," wrote the Berliner Kurier newspaper in a popular sentiment echoed by Die Welt, Sueddeutsche Zeitung, the Hamburger Abendblatt and other newspapers.


Paul's picks have become news across Germany and around the world. German networks have had live reports on Paul's picks.


On Friday, Paul will tip the winner of Saturday's Germany-Uruguay match for third place as well as the winner of the Spain-Netherlands final on Sunday. Networks in Germany, Spain and the Netherlands are planning live coverage.


The octopus, considered by some to be the most intelligent of all invertebrates, gets the choice of picking food from two different transparent containers lowered into his tank -- one with a German flag on it and one with the opponent's flag.


The container Paul opens first is regarded as his pick.


Media attention over Paul's picks in Germany and abroad has grown exponentially and some commentators even wondered aloud whether his improbable winning streak might have begun to influence some of the more superstitious players.


Despite the antipathy toward Paul, Sea Life spokeswoman Tanja Munzig said Paul has a bright future at his home in Oberhausen.


"Nothing bad will happen to Paul," she said. "No one wishes him ill-will. Paul has had a great run."

Would you really kill, cook and eat such a great handicapper?

Or is that tentaclicapper? 

I say, let Paul live.  Just beat him to a pulpo.

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