Saturday, 21 August 2010


Ken Berwitz

Are significant numbers of Jews disengaging themselves from President Obama and, more generally,the Democratic Party?  The latest poll data suggest this is happening.

Here is a very well written discussion of how much and how far Jews are moving from Obama & Co., excerpted from Charles Blow's column in today's New York Times  (and congratulations to Mr. Blow for the quality of his analysis, which I have strongly criticized in the past):

Is President Obama good for the Jews? For more and more Jewish-Americans, the answer is no.

In a Pew Research Center report issued on Thursday and entitled Growing Number of Americans Say Obama Is a Muslim (tragic in its own right), there was another bit of bad news for Obama: the number of Jews who identify as Republican or as independents who lean Republican has increased by more than half since the year he was elected. At 33 percent it now stands at the highest level since the data have been kept. In 2008, the ratio of Democratic Jews to Republican Jews was far more than three to one. Now its less than two to one.

 (It should be noted that the Pew poll was taken before Obamas bold support for the right of Muslims to build a community center and mosque a few blocks north of ground zero.)

Some of the presidents most ardent critics and some of Israels staunchest American defenders two groups that are by no means mutually exclusive have seized on what they see as the administrations unfair and unbalanced treatment of Israel and have taken their denunciations to the extremes.

The White House, feeling pressure over the developing rift, sought to mend fences in May through a series of meetings and statements, but as Helene Cooper reported in The Times, It remains unclear whether Mr. Obamas latest outreach will reassure American Jews and the general public in Israel, where Mr. Obamas approval ratings have plummeted. And, its still foggy.

Fair or not, these criticisms are crystallizing into a shared belief among many: Obama is burning bridges with the Jewish community in order to build bridges to the Muslim world.

There is very little independent polling, aside from Pews party identification polling, to help us understand how American Jews see the president, his stance toward Israel and the political implications. So in that vacuum, pollsters with partisan leanings have been spinning their findings like dreidels.

Wherever the truth lies, it is fair to say that it doesnt bode well for Obama. While Jews are only 2 percent of the United States population, their influence outweighs their proportion. Furthermore, in crucial battleground states like Florida, their vote is critical. Obama won Florida by 3 percentage points in 2008. Jews represented 4 percent of the overall vote in that state.

As Ed Koch, the former mayor of New York City, told Fox News in April, I have been a supporter of President Obama and went to Florida for him, urged Jews all over the country to vote for him, saying that he would be just as good as John McCain on the security of Israel. I dont think its true anymore.

Is it true?  Are Jews, as a group, finally disengaging from a President and a party which are more and more prone to, at best, taking them for granted and, at worse, standing against them, especially regarding Israel (as I've chronicled over the last year)?

My best guess is that a lot of this is just blowing smoke:  i.e. if elections were held today, many Jews who are pontificating about how awful Barack Obama is would still find a rationale to vote for him and his cohorts in the Democratic Party.  But - and this is the problem for Obama  Co. - a good number mean it, and would move towards the Republican Party which, for years and years, has been demonstrably more pro-Israel than Democrats.  Maybe enough to change the results in one or two states with relatively large Jewish populations.

One look at Black voters in the 1960's will tell you that when a lot of  people rethink their allegiance in a short period of time, it can result in a major, long-term change of voting patterns.

Can the same thing happen with Jewish voters?  The answer is yes.  The issue is whether it will happen.

Stay tuned.

free` I know that on IRC [where you are very missed Ken] when debating politics, 90% of the anti-semites were liberals. And it has been that way for a very long time. (08/21/10)


Ken Berwitz

Last week we had President Obama making a statement that appeared to clearly support the so-called "ground zero mosque" - and then, the next day, make another statement claiming he never said any such thing.

Evidently that presto-chango routine is standard operating procedure for our President.  Because now, after a year of silence about Scotland's release of the one "man" convicted of murdering the passengers on Pan Am flight 103 at Lockerbie, Scotland, we have this - excerpted from an Associated Press article:

Obama seeks reimprisonment for Lockerbie bomber

By AP | Published: 1:50 PM 08/20/2010 | Updated: 7:27 PM 08/20/2010

VINEYARD HAVEN, Mass. (AP) The Obama administration asked Friday that the only person convicted for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 be returned to a Scottish prison.

John Brennan, President Barack Obamas counterterrorism adviser, told reporters accompanying the vacationing leader that the U.S. has expressed our strong conviction to Scottish officials that Abdel Baset Al-Megrahi (AHB-dehl BAH-seht AH-lee ahl-meh-GRAH-hee) should not remain free. The comments came on the first anniversary of Al-Megrahis release.

Brennan criticized what he termed the unfortunate and inappropriate and wrong decision, and added: Weve expressed our strong conviction that Al-Begrahi should serve out the remainder the entirety of his sentence in a Scottish prison.

Now there's a strong statement. 

I'll just bet that Libyan dictator qaddafi can't wait to get al-megrahi on a plane back to Glasgow.  Heck, maybe he'll even use the plane he sent to bring al-megrahi to Tripoli, where qaddaffi then threw a victory celebration to honor him.

My question is where the HELL was President Obama and his administration for the entire year al-megrahi was free?  And why was Mr. Obama's only contribution until now a recommendation to the Scottish Government on how he should be freed (the Obama administration agreed that it should be "compassionate release")?

This is a sham, a fraud, and a lame attempt to cover up the fact that we did not rage at Scotland for releasing a mass murderer of USA citizens, mostly young students.  Nothing more, nothing less.


Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama has, at least temporarily, stopped trying to blame former President Bush for the economy (presumably because it has become comical, even to many Democrats).  That means he needs to find another scapegoat.  Who can it be?

Well, how about congress. 

CONGRESS?  Aren't both houses of congress dominated by Democrats?  Isn't that his own party?   

Well, yeah.......but as pointed out earlier, it can't be Obama. So it's got to be someone or something else.

Excerpted from Andrew Malcolm's blog at (of all places) the Los Angeles Times (the bold print is mine):

Just a few minor things to catch up on for the weekend now that the Fundraiser-in-Chief has gone on another vacation (Don't worry though. White House chef Sam Kass went along, so the first family need not eat ordinary human food.)

-- The Congressional Budget Office says the 2010 federal deficit will be in excess of $1.3 trillion, as in $1,000,000,000,000+. (BTW, the next level we'll be talking about out of Washington is quadrillion, which has fifteen 0's.)

-- Despite Vice President Joe Biden's April boast that administration stimulus spending would spur the economy to add a half-million jobs a month by now, initial unemployment claims jumped a half-million last week, the worst since last November, as national unemployment remains at 9.5% and the economy sheds 131,000 more jobs.

-- But the economy's going great at the Democratic National Committee, which reports collecting $11.5 million from donors in July on top of the $53.8 million already taken in from various sources this year. The president just devoted three workdays across five states to rake in several more millions for his party.

-- But before leaving for his ninth presidential vacation, 10 days at a....

...secluded estate on Martha's Vineyard, Obama devoted four minutes in the White House driveway to a special statement on the latest disappointing jobs numbers. (Full text, as usual, can be read on the jump, along with a brief reaction from the Republican National Committee chairman.)

No questions allowed because the president didn't want to explain why despite the administration's announced Recovery Summer Program, the jobs numbers have started going backward again after 19 months of promises and $787 billion in alleged stimulation spending. Because, faced with the uncertainty of the economy and the certainty of new taxes after Nov. 2, employers are holding back on hiring.

According to the president, he's been "adamant" with Congress for months now about a new jobs bill to help small businesses. Obama says this really good bill is stalled in the Senate, where so much administration legislation has been crammed through so effectively by Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Reid's been so good at it, in fact, that he's now running for his political life in a reelection campaign back in Nevada where unemployment is 14.3% and Obama's legislation is not so popular.

The very same party that has controlled both houses of Congress since the 2006 election and really controlled them both since the 2008 hopey-changey balloting. 

Hard to believe, isn't it? 

Who will Mr. Obama blame next?  His cabinet?  His personal secretary?  Michelle and the girls?

Maybe, just maybe, there is someone else to consider.....


Ken Berwitz

My pal Bob the Toy Guy put me on to this month-and-a-half-old article by Ryan Ellis, writing for Americans for Tax Reform.  It details the tax hikes we will be subjected to next year.

I thought you might be interested in seeing just how bad things are about to get, so I am posting the entire piece. 

Six Months to Go Until
The Largest Tax Hikes in History

From Ryan Ellis on Wednesday, July 7, 2010 5:27 PM

In just six months, the largest tax hikes in the history of America will take effect.  They will hit families and small businesses in three great waves on January 1, 2011:

(N.B. This version of the document contains even more tax hikes than the original version did)

First Wave: Expiration of 2001 and 2003 Tax Relief

In 2001 and 2003, the GOP Congress enacted several tax cuts for investors, small business owners, and families.  These will all expire on January 1, 2011:

Personal income tax rates will rise.  The top income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (this is also the rate at which two-thirds of small business profits are taxed).  The lowest rate will rise from 10 to 15 percent.  All the rates in between will also rise.  Itemized deductions and personal exemptions will again phase out, which has the same mathematical effect as higher marginal tax rates.  The full list of marginal rate hikes is below:

- The 10% bracket rises to an expanded 15%
- The 25% bracket rises to 28%
- The 28% bracket rises to 31%
- The 33% bracket rises to 36%
- The 35% bracket rises to 39.6%

Higher taxes on marriage and family.  The marriage penalty (narrower tax brackets for married couples) will return from the first dollar of income.  The child tax credit will be cut in half from $1000 to $500 per child.  The standard deduction will no longer be doubled for married couples relative to the single level.  The dependent care and adoption tax credits will be cut.

The return of the Death Tax.  This year, there is no death tax.  For those dying on or after January 1 2011, there is a 55 percent top death tax rate on estates over $1 million.  A person leaving behind two homes and a retirement account could easily pass along a death tax bill to their loved ones.

Higher tax rates on savers and investors.  The capital gains tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 20 percent in 2011.  The dividends tax will rise from 15 percent this year to 39.6 percent in 2011.  These rates will rise another 3.8 percent in 2013.

Second Wave: Obamacare

There are over twenty new or higher taxes in Obamacare.  Several will first go into effect on January 1, 2011.  They include:

The Tanning Tax.  This went into effect on July 1st of this year.  It imposes a new, 10% excise tax on getting a tan at a tanning salon.  There is no exemption for tanners making less than $250,000 per year.

The Medicine Cabinet Tax  Thanks to Obamacare, Americans will no longer be able to use health savings account (HSA), flexible spending account (FSA), or health reimbursement (HRA) pre-tax dollars to purchase non-prescription, over-the-counter medicines (except insulin).

The HSA Withdrawal Tax Hike.  This provision of Obamacare increases the additional tax on non-medical early withdrawals from an HSA from 10 to 20 percent, disadvantaging them relative to IRAs and other tax-advantaged accounts, which remain at 10 percent.

Brand Name Drug Tax.  Starting next year, there will be a multi-billion dollar tax assessment imposed on name-brand drug manufacturers.  This tax, like all excise taxes, will raise the price of medicine, hurting everyone.

Economic Substance Doctrine.  The IRS is now empowered to disallow perfectly-legal tax deductions and maneuvers merely because it judges that the deduction or action lacks economic substance.  This is obviously an arbitrary empowerment of IRS agents.

Employer Reporting of Health Insurance Costs on a W-2.  This will start for W-2s in the 2011 tax year.  While not a tax increase in itself, it makes it very easy for Congress to tax employer-provided healthcare benefits later.

Third Wave: The Alternative Minimum Tax and Employer Tax Hikes

When Americans prepare to file their tax returns in January of 2011, theyll be in for a nasty surprisethe AMT wont be held harmless, and many tax relief provisions will have expired.  These major items include:

The AMT will ensnare over 28 million families, up from 4 million last year.  According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, Congress failure to index the AMT will lead to an explosion of AMT taxpaying familiesrising from 4 million last year to 28.5 million.  These families will have to calculate their tax burdens twice, and pay taxes at the higher level.  The AMT was created in 1969 to ensnare a handful of taxpayers.

Small business expensing will be slashed and 50% expensing will disappear.  Small businesses can normally expense (rather than slowly-deduct, or depreciate) equipment purchases up to $250,000.  This will be cut all the way down to $25,000.  Larger businesses can expense half of their purchases of equipment.  In January of 2011, all of it will have to be depreciated.

Taxes will be raised on all types of businesses.  There are literally scores of tax hikes on business that will take place.  The biggest is the loss of the research and experimentation tax credit, but there are many, many others.  Combining high marginal tax rates with the loss of this tax relief will cost jobs.

Tax Benefits for Education and Teaching Reduced.  The deduction for tuition and fees will not be available.  Tax credits for education will be limited.  Teachers will no longer be able to deduct classroom expenses.  Coverdell Education Savings Accounts will be cut.  Employer-provided educational assistance is curtailed.  The student loan interest deduction will be disallowed for hundreds of thousands of families.

Charitable Contributions from IRAs no longer allowed.  Under current law, a retired person with an IRA can contribute up to $100,000 per year directly to a charity from their IRA.  This contribution also counts toward an annual required minimum distribution.  This ability will no longer be there.

You might, at this point, be wondering how come our wonderful "neutral" media have not been doing stories, features, panel discussions, etc. on this impending horror show. 

If so, I suggest you reflect on which party will be damaged if taxpayers understand just how badly they are about to be soaked.  That should give you the answer.

free` I just emailed that to my bookkeeper. Can't wait to see what he has to say about it. (08/21/10)


Ken Berwitz

Joe Biden, talking about the midterm elections:

The reports of the death of the Democratic Party have been greatly exaggerated.

On Nov. 3, the day after the election, there will be a Democratic majority in the House and a Democratic majority in the Senate.  If it werent illegal, Id make book on it.

When we have the American people focus on our differences, I think we are going to do just fine in November. The choice is not between Democrats and the Almighty, its between Democrats and the Republican Tea party.

Based on virtually all the polling data, and Mr. Biden's track record when it comes to making predictions, my advice for you is to bet Republican. 


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