Monday, 22 November 2010

WHAT THE PRESIDENT WAS CONGRATULATING

Ken Berwitz

A week ago today, President Obama sent a message to "Muslims Worldwide" congratulating them on their holy period, with special congratulations to the millions who are performing "Hajj", - i.e. a pilgrimage to Mecc.  It started by saying this:

Statement by the President on Hajj and Eid-ul-Adha

Michelle and I extend our greetings for a happy Eid-ul-Adha to Muslims worldwide and wish safe travels to those performing Hajj.  This year, nearly three million pilgrims from more than 160 countries - including the United States - have gathered in Mecca and neighboring sites to perform the Hajj rituals and stand together in prayer.

That gives you the warm fuzzies, doesn't it?  Kinda gets you right here.

Well, now take a look at what Mr. Obama was actually congratulating. courtesy of Jim Hoft at gatewaypundit.com:

It was a spiritual experience.

The killer Iranian Regime held a Death to America, Death to Israel rally this weekend during The Hajj.
Their signs read: Death to America, Down with Israel.

The jackass at the podium is Mullah Assgar, another of Ayatollah Khameneis lackeys.

 
Hat Tip Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi

It was an uplifting experience.

Voice of Copts
reported:

Tens of thousands of Muslims chanted Death to America and Death to Israel at the annual Hajj pilgrimage, which the Ayatollah of Iran called a symbol of spirituality.

The Arab Ahlul Bayt News Agency reported, The pilgrims chanted anti-US and anti-Zionist slogans during the ceremony, also attended by the Supreme Leaders representative for Hajj affairs, Hojatoleslam Ali Qazi-Asgar.

God is the Greatest, Death to Israel and Death to America were among slogans chanted by the masses in unison as they gathered in the Desert of Arafat near Mecca, where more than 2 million Muslims have gathered.

Still feeling warm and fuzzy?  Unless you happen to be a USA-hating, Israel-hating, Jew-hating scumbag, the answer probably is no.

I do not blame President Obama for sending congratulations to Muslims regarding their Hajj.  I accept the premise that, for diplomatic purposes, statements like this emanate from the white house all the time.  I also accept the premise that Mr. Obama could not assume, before the fact, that this kind of impossibly sickening behavior would take place. 

But it has been a week since this impossibly sickening behavior did take place.  Has he condemned it?  Has he issued a statement that it demeans and marginalizes all Muslims to have such hatred, in the name of Allah, be accepted during Hajj?

If so, show it to me. Because I haven't seen any such condemnation.

According to the exit polls, about 78% of all USA Jews voted for Barack Obama.  Most of them, presumably, are neither anti-Semitic or anti-Israel.  I hope they're happy with what they got.

Speaking as one of the other 22%, I can assure you I am not.


MAXINE WATERS: END GAME?

Ken Berwitz

First, to refresh your memory, here's a quick sequence of events:

Maxine Waters (D-CA) is accused of using her power and influence as a senior member of congress to assure that bailout funds would go to OneUnited, a bank that was in terrible financial shape -- but that her husband had a lot of money invested in;

-An ethics hearing was set - to begin this week, as a matter of fact;

-But the ethics investigation was suddenly postponed;

-Which prompted Ms. Waters to triumphantly proclaim that it was because the case was so weak it couldn't be pursued;

-After which we got this, excerpted from Ashley Parker's article in Friday's New York Times (among many other sources):

A newly discovered exchange of e-mails led the House ethics committee on Friday to delay its trial of Representative Maxine Waters, a California Democrat accused of helping steer bailout money to a bank in which her husband owned shares.

 

The e-mails are between Mikael Moore, Ms. Waterss chief of staff, and members of the House Financial Services Committee, on which Ms. Waters serves. The e-mails show that Mr. Moore was actively engaged in discussing with committee members details of a bank bailout bill apparently after Ms. Waters agreed to refrain from advocating on the banks behalf. The bailout bill had provisions that ultimately benefited OneUnited, a minority-owned bank in which her husband, Sidney Williams, owned about $350,000 in shares.

Ms. Waters has consistently denied wrongdoing, and she said the ethics committees delay further vindicated her.

The committees decision to cancel the hearing and put it off indefinitely demonstrates that the committee does not have a strong case and would not be able to prove any violation has occurred, Ms. Waters said in a written statement.

Interesting, wouldn't you say? 

With the same level of acumen Ms. Waters has brought to her job as congressperson all these years, she is proclaiming that the investigation was postponed because the ethics committee cannot prove any violations -- when, in reality it was postponed because the committee needed time to review new information that quite possibly will put a lid on Ms. Waters' political career.

Keep your eyes on this one:  I would think the currently Democrat-controlled house will try its best to finish the investigation and mete out "punishment" before next year, when Republicans will take charge and the punishment just might be a tad different..

Will Maxine Waters get the same sweetheart deal as charles rangel?  We'll find out soon enough.

free` This sort of goes with this blog report. I got an email from my cousin that looked very interesting. Governors of 35 states have already filed suit against the Federal Government for imposing unlawful burdens upon them. It only takes 38 (of the 50) States to convene a Constitutional Convention. An idea whose time has come! For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens had no idea that members of Congress have specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed (such as being exempt from any fear of prosecution for sexual harassment) while ordinary citizens must live under those laws. The latest was to exempt themselves from the Health care Reform ... in all of its forms. Somehow, that doesn't seem logical. We do not have an elite that is above the law. The 26th amendment (granting the right to vote for 18 year-olds) took only 3 months & 8 days to be ratified! Why? Simple! The people demanded it. That was in 1971...before computers, before e-mail, before cell phones, etc. Of the 27 amendments to the Constitution, seven (7) took 1 year or less to become the law of the land...all because of public pressure. Proposed 28th Amendment to the United States Constitution: "Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the Senators and/or Representatives; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to the Senators and/or Representatives that does not apply equally to the citizens of the United States." (11/22/10)


9/11 MOSQUE FUNDING: THE HEIGHT OF INSENSITIVITY

Ken Berwitz

If this is not the height of insensitivity, give me a more deserving example.

Excerpted from John Avlon's blog at thedailybeast.com:

Developers of the controversial Park51 Islamic community center and mosque located two blocks from Ground Zero earlier this month applied for roughly $5 million in federal grant money set aside for the redevelopment of lower Manhattan after the attacks of September 11th, according to two sources with direct knowledge of the matter.

 

The audacious move stands to reignite the embers of a divisive debate that dominated headlines surrounding the ninth anniversary of the attacks this fall, say people vested in the issue.

 

The application was submitted under a community and cultural enhancement grant program administered by the Lower Manhattan Redevelopment Corporation (LMDC), which oversaw the $20 billion in federal aid allocated in the wake of 9/11 and is currently doling out millions in remaining taxpayer funds for community development. The redevelopment board declined to comment on the application (as did officials from Park51), citing the still ongoing and confidential process of determining the grant winners.

Let me again remind readers that I have no problem with a mosque being built near the 9/11 site - if that is all there is to it.  I don't blame all Muslims for the terrorist attack which took place there.

But I am very much against this mosque.  One reason is its size (yes, I know that a lot different activities will take place there, it is not just a mosque) and, much more importantly, is its intended name - "Cordoba House" - which refers to an Islamic military triumph. 

To me, that clearly is sticking a thumb in the eyes of the 9/11 victims, their families, their friends and the entire United States.

We have never been told where the funding for this mosque is coming from - another very sore point, since there were indications that at least some of the money would be from sources with links to terrorist groups. 

But now we find out that its promoters are trying to get money from the 9/11 fund itself? 

How dare they.

Stop the mosque.


AFGHANISTAN AND CHILD SAFETY

Ken Berwitz

Suppose you live in New York City and have young children.  Would you consider sending them to, say, Kandahar, Afghanistan so they can grow up more safely?

That insane question is brought to you by Mark Sedwill, NATO's civilian envoy to Afghanistan, who apparently thinks you should.

Excerpted from a truly Alice-In-Wonderland article by Jonathon Burch of  Reuters - with a number of the more salient facts put in bold print:

KABUL (Reuters) Children are probably safer growing up in Afghanistan's major cities, including the Taliban stronghold of Kandahar, than in London, New York, or Glasgow, NATO's top civilian envoy to Afghanistan has said.

Mark Sedwill's comments were made during an interview to be aired on Monday on Children's BBC Newsround, a popular British daily current affairs program aimed at children.

"The children are probably safer here than they would be in London, New York or Glasgow or many other cities," he said.

"It's a very family-orientated society, so it is a little bit like a city of villages," he said.

His remarks, which feature in a two-part series exploring the lives of children in Afghanistan, were rejected as misleading by an official from the aid group Save the Children.

"One in five children die before they get to the age of five. So to say it's safer to live in London, New York or Glasgow is daft," said the representative from Save the Children, who requested anonymity so he could speak freely.

The remarks were met with surprise in the capital, where many children have died in insurgent attacks, although some children said they felt security had improved recently.

"There is no safety in Kabul; when I go to school I always feel that something might happen," said 13-year-old Ahmad Sejad. Teacher Ghulam Jelani said parents are even more worried about violence than their children.

U.N. figures show 1,795 children killed or injured as a result of the war from September 2008 through August 2010.

Sedwill said he had been trying to explain that violence was the same in each part of Afghanistan and that, in cities like Kabul, it was comparable to what many Western children might see.

"Any comment you have to clarify obviously wasn't very well put and the comparison I made with Western cities distracted attention from the important point I was seeking to make," Sedwill said in a statement later on Monday.

DANGEROUS FOR CHILDREN

A report from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) in November 2009 said Afghanistan was the most dangerous country to be born in. It has the highest infant mortality rate in the world and two-thirds of the population lacks access to clean water.

Forty-three percent of the country was virtually off-limits to aid agencies due to poor security, the UNICEF report said, making it difficult to carry out health campaigns for children.

Another U.N. report on Afghanistan in September said casualties among women increased 6 percent, while those among children jumped by 55 percent. A total of 74 children were killed in the first half of the year by homemade bombs or in suicide attacks, an increase of 155 percent for the same period in 2009.

Girls have had acid thrown in their faces while walking to school by hardline Islamists who object to female education, which was banned under Taliban rule. Several girls' schools, including some in Kabul, have also been hit by mysterious gas poisonings blamed on Islamists.

Some children, especially those from wealthier families, are also kidnapped for ransom. Such kidnappings often go unreported and children have been killed if ransoms were not paid.

I don't know if Mark Sedwill has children.  But if he does, I hope for their sake he doesn't try to make them into a test case by sending them to live in Afghanistan.

Now, what does NATO do about the fact that its "top civilian envoy" is so beyond-belief whacked out that he thinks that children are safer in a destitute, religiously fanatic, terrorist infested "country" - including a taliban stronghold within that country - than they are in major western cities?  Does it keep this major league idiot in his current position?

I'm betting that the answer is a stomach-turning "yes". 


IBD'S EDITORIAL ON THE TSA INSANITY

Ken Berwitz

Investors Business Daily (IBD) has published an editorial on the TSA that is so close to perfect I refuse to condense it into excerpts.

Here it is; every word of it. 

Strip-Search USA

Safety: When U.S soldiers with nail clippers and flight attendants who've survived breast cancer are treated as potential terrorists, you know the TSA is "acting stupidly." Yet the administration thinks everything is fine.

Imagine the department of motor vehicles with cattle prods, and you're close to the mentality exhibited by Transportation Safety Administration chief John Pistole on CNN's "State of the Union" show Sunday. He told host Candy Crowley that what the Israelis have "is top-notch security," but the U.S. won't use these techniques because America does not profile.

Excuse us? The U.S. won't use what the world's No. 1 terrorist target has shown to be effective because it's allegedly discriminatory, but is willing to strip-search grandmas and little children at random? This is cruelty and inefficiency raised to a science.

On Saturday, President Obama called the full-body scanners and groin checks being performed "a huge inconvenience for all of us."

He said, "In the aftermath of the Christmas Day bombing, our TSA personnel are properly under enormous pressure to make sure that you don't have somebody slipping on a plane with some sort of explosive device on their persons." Like cancer survivors with prosthetic breasts?

As tennis star John McEnroe might put it, Mr. President, you cannot be serious. The Israelis manage to avoid disaster by checking the passenger lists, doing background checks on prospective fliers and personally interviewing those they deem suspicious.

They do not disrobe their passengers looking for the explosive device du jour. They focus on who might be carrying explosives, not on the objects themselves. They profile, Mr. President, they profile. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab never would have been allowed in the same ZIP code as an El Al aircraft.

What's next? Full-body cavity searches? As columnist Ann Coulter relates, last year an assassin attempting to murder Prince Mohammed bin Nayef of Saudi Arabia blew himself up with a bomb stuck where suppositories normally go. Luckily, he didn't try to board an American aircraft this Thanksgiving or all air travelers would probably have to bend over and cough.

We are trying terrorists in civilian courts because we're trying to show the world our system of justice protects everybody's rights. Yet as a TSA thug told John Tyner, the young man who thought touching his "junk" was unreasonable: "By buying your ticket, you gave up a lot of rights." If we've surrendered this and other rights, just what are we fighting to protect in the war on terror?

Exactly, 100% right.  I don't know how it could be said better.

This editorial should be a must-read for everyone -- but most especially for the clowns who dreamt up the insane TSA procedures now in place.

Will they learn from it?  Can people who would institute such policies ever learn from anyone or anything?

I hope against hope that they can.  But I would lie to say I'm not skeptical.

Zeke ..... ..... TSA fumbles, while trying to find Bombs. .... .... .... Israel effectively finds Bombers. .... .... ... the public's patience is limited. Grope 'n Fondle or Radiation Frying are not pleasant choices. ... ... (11/23/10)

bob w recently during a round tip to chicao i went thru the scanner for the first time- it was no big deal it only took seconds. however- i felt safeour government should have "balls" - this is the world we are in. i have a few solutions- first go thru the scanners- if one efuses then they should be put in a frisk room and wait- if they miss the their plane- then tough shit- the other alternative is strict profiling- nothing wrong with that but common sense must prevail as to who gets random searched- again- don't like it then take a train. another is our government should have balls- tell the CLU to screw off and make a statement and carry it out and say "find a bomb- get caught and an immediate death penalty will be carried out on that person and in the case they were put up by a foreign county ot entity"- then - kiss our nuke- until we have balls and do away with the liberal do-gooders- scan and take it or just retailiate (11/23/10)

Zeke ..... ...... Intimate examination of my body hurts MY FEELINGS. Double that for my family .... .... Tell me again about why Profiling is not being done? .... .... ... Anything that will reduce this personally invasive horror seems like a good idea. ... .... .... (11/23/10)


ARE DEMOCRATS NOW THE LITTLE-TENT PARTY?

Ken Berwitz

Funny thing:  As we read and hear daily media reports about how the Tea Party is lurching Republicans too far to the right, this is what is happening on the Democratic side:

From Georgia, via the Associated Press:

ATLANTA (AP) - Republicans in the Georgia House have expanded their majority in the House, adding two South Georgia Democrats to their ranks.

State Reps. Ellis Black and Amy Carter announced Monday that they're joining the House Republican Caucus.

From Alabama, via the Birmingham News.

Four members of the Alabama House of Representatives announced Monday they are switching from the Democratic Party to the GOP.

Steve Hurst of Munford, Lesley Vance of Phenix City, Alan Boothe of Troy and Mike Millican of Hamilton announced their switch during a morning press conference in Montgomery.

These are not the first Democratic party switchers I have read about since the midterm elections.  And I'm betting they will not be the last.

Why?  Because they saw their party take a drubbing based on its agenda -- and then saw their party double down on it, right up to and including putting the same "leaders" (Pelosi, Reid, Hoyer, Clyburn) back in charge. 

Since it has been made clear that there is no place for conservatives in the Democratic Party, they are switching sides.  It has become the little-tent party.

Ironically, if the Democratic Party were not being run as some kind of left wing fiefdom, not only would these people probably still be there, but I suspect they might have been joined by a few relatively moderate/liberal Republicans who are put off by the Tea Party's increased level of influence.

But since Democrats have moved so much further to the left than Republicans have to the right, that didn't happen.

Somebody better start waking up and smelling the coffee over there.  The 2012 elections are not that far away.


REASON #74,823 WHY ACADEMICS SHOULD NOT BE IN CHARGE OF A POLITICAL ADMINISTRATION

Ken Berwitz

As regular readers know, I have blogged many times about the fact that President Obama's administration is overrun with academics and career political wonks, rather than people who have spent serious time in the "real world".

For those of you who would like to see another example of why academics should not be in charge of things, please read this excerpt from Jeff Sommer's article in the Saturday New York Times:

THINGS are looking up for Barack Obama.

You might not think so, given the flow of news lately. His foreign policy has met with limited success, at best. And, back home, unemployment is mired at 9.6 percent. Earlier this month, in a major political blow, Democrats lost more than 60 seats and control of the House of Representatives.

So what is there for Mr. Obama and his supporters to cheer about?

Try this: Based on the facts at hand right now, Mr. Obama is likely to win the 2012 election in a landslide. That, at least, is the prediction of Ray C. Fair, a Yale economist and an expert on econometrics and on the relationship of economics and politics.

Whats the basis of this forecast? In a nutshell: Its the economy, stupid.

While updating his 2002 book, Predicting Presidential Elections and Other Things, he has calculated his first prediction for the next national election and posted it on his Yale Web site. He says the likely outcome is an Obama victory, regardless of whom he runs against. If my models right, it couldnt look better for Obama, he said.

The model certainly suggests that if the economy is good and improving as an election approaches, its very difficult to defeat an incumbent president, he said. At the root of his conclusion is an economic forecast: he expects a significant improvement in the American economy by 2012.

Omigod.  Hold the presses. 

I remember a very funny cartoon I saw quite a few years ago, where the head of a dog food company is talking to his marketing research guy, and says (I'm paraphrasing here) "Are you telling me that I spent $100,000 on research to find out that my main customer has four legs, a tail and goes arf?"

Personally, I didn't go to Yale and no one is every likely to ask me to become a professor.  But, without the benefit of a Yale-quality economic model, I join the good professor in fearlessly predicting that if the economy remains the #1 issue in 2012 - assuming President Obama is credited with making it better - voters will react positively to Mr. Obama. 

I do, however, have two questions for the Professor:

1) How does he know the economy will be the most important issue of 2012?  Not to be dark about things, but one successful terrorist attack could change that on a dime.  What was the biggest issue in the United States on September 10, 2001?

2) Even if the economy reamains the #1 issue, and it is rallying in 2012, how does he know whether President Obama will be given credit for it?  What if a Republican house, coupled with a small Democratic majority in the senate that is increasingly fearful of being removed from power in 2012, significantly curtail spending while creating a more amenable atmosphere for business to grow?  Is Professor Fair certain that President Obama will reap the political rewards? 

But let's be fair to Fair.  I do not mean to diminish the professor's work, or in any way impugn his academic credentials.  I'm sure he is a brilliant man who eminently deserves the honor of his position as a "Yale Economist".   

What I do mean is that what works in a theoretical model does not necessarily bear out in the real world.  And if I had my choice of theorist or real-world practitioner, I'd take real-world practitioner about 1,000,000 times out of 1,000,000.

Let me end with one other example of the disconnect between academic theory and reality: 

During the summer of 2000, my wife and I want to her brother's house for a holiday - maybe July 4th.  While there, I had what started out as a friendly discussion with another guest about the 2000 election.  He told me that a group of statisticians had researched the last 4 elections (I think it was 4, but don't remember for certain) and, based on their statistical model, Al Gore would win with 56% of the vote. 

The discussion became less friendly when, instead of nodding agreement, I suggested that no two elections are alike and compiling numbers from a series of previous elections didn't seem like a logical way to predict the next one. 

That was the end of the friendly discussion.  There was no yelling or gesticulating, just an immediately darker, more serious tone followed by his sudden need to speak with someone else.

FYI, Al Gore got 48.4% of the vote in 2000. 

I have seen and amiably chatted with this person numbers of times since then, but he has never brought the discussion up again.  Being an all-around nice guy, neither have I.


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