Monday, 14 February 2011


Ken Berwitz

What an interesting concept of "Popular Uprising" mahmoud ahmadinejad and moamar qadaffi have:

-In 2009, ahmadinejad was reinstalled as Iran's head of state via a thoroughly rigged "election".  The people uprose because of it, doing in Tehran what we saw in Egypt's Tahrir Plaza.  They marched by the hundreds of thousands demanding a democratically elected government.  ahmadinejad's response was to crush the uprising with military force, shoot protesters in the street, then jail and/or hang anyone who appeared to have led those marches. 

-qadaffi is the dictator of Libya.  Not even the pretense of a fair election is necessary.  You do it his way or you go the way of the Iran protesters. 

And these two are demanding that Palestinian Arabs uprise against Israel?  This isn't a case of the pot calling the kettle black, this is an entire coal mine calling the kettle black.

Excerpted from an article at the Associated Press:

Iran's president said Friday that Egypt's popular uprising shows a new Islamic Middle East is emerging, one that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad claims will have no signs of Israel and U.S. interference.


"Despite all the [West's] complicated and satanic designs ... a new Middle East is emerging without the Zionist regime and U.S. interference, a place where the arrogant powers will have no place," Ahmadinejad told the crowd.


He also urged Egyptian protesters to persevere until there is a regime change. "It's your right to be free. It's your right to exercise your will and sovereignty ... and choose the type of government and the rulers."


After his address, Ahmadinejad carried a placard reading, "Death to Israel."

Excerpted from an article at Reuters:

UPDATE 1-Gaddafi tells Palestinians: revolt against Israel

Sun Feb 13, 2011 10:18pm GMT


* Libyan leader says refugees should mass on Israel's shores

* 'This is a time of popular revolutions': Gaddafi

* Accuses Western powers of being enemies of Islam

(Updates with more quotes in paragraphs 11-13)

By Ali Shuaib and Salah Sarrar

TRIPOLI, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Palestinian refugees should capitalise on the wave of popular revolts in the Middle East by massing peacefully on the borders of Israel until it gives in to their demands, Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi said on Sunday.

Gaddafi is respected in many parts of the Arab world for his uncompromising criticism of Israel and Arab leaders who have dealings with the Jewish state, though some people in the region dismiss his initiatives as unrealistic.

"Fleets of boats should take Palestinians ... and wait by the Palestinian shores until the problem is resolved," Gaddafi was shown saying on state television. "This is a time of popular revolutions."

"We need to create a problem for the world. This is not a declaration of war. This is a call for peace," he said in a speech given to mark the birthday of the Prophet Mohamed, a holy day in the Islamic calendar.

He also said: "All Arab states which have relations with Israel are cowardly regimes."

There you go.  The two paradigms of peace and democracy speak.

FYI:  Israel has lived in peace - a cold peace but peace nonetheless - with Egypt for 30 years.  It has lived in peace with Jordan for 17 years.  That is proof that Israel can make and sustain peace with Arabs, and that Arabs can make and sustain peace with Israelis.    And at this time, Israel is on a mostly peaceful basis with Palestinian Arabs.  Why?  In no small part because of the security fence Israel built, are not engaged in large-scale attacks against Israel.  But, whatever the basis, peace is peace.

Let's remember that, militarily, Israel has the power to vaporize the so-called "Palestinian Territories" of Judea and Samaria (the west bank) and Gaza - and has for decades.  It has never done so.

Would Palestinian Arabs, goaded on by the ahmadinijads and qadaffis of the Muslim world, do the same if the balance of military power were ever reversed?

If ahmadinejad and qadaffi are so hot to trot for popular governance, how about them running free elections in their countries.  That would demonstrate that they really mean it - that they aren't just a couple of liars who want dead Jews, with Palestinian Arabs doing their dirty work for them.

Don't hang by your thumbs waiting for it to happen.


Ken Berwitz

What the %$@#&^% happened at Newsweek?  Did someone get its new ownership drunk?   

Newsweek's latest addition, the remarkably accomplished Niall Ferguson, has a bit of a problem with the way Mr. Obama and his people are handling foreign policy - especially Egypt.  See if you can find the subtle indications of his dissatisfaction in the following excerpts from his first column:

The wave Obama just missedagainis the revolutionary wave of Middle Eastern democracy. It has surged through the region twice since he was elected: once in Iran in the summer of 2009, the second time right across North Africa, from Tunisia all the way down the Red Sea to Yemen. But the swell has been biggest in Egypt, the Middle Easts most populous country.

In the case of Iran, he did nothing, and the thugs of the Islamic Republic ruthlessly crushed the demonstrations. This time around, in Egypt, it was worse. He did bothsome days exhorting Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak to leave, other days drawing back and recommending an orderly transition.

The result has been a foreign-policy debacle. The president has alienated everybody: not only Mubaraks cronies in the military, but also the youthful crowds in the streets of Cairo. Whoever ultimately wins, Obama loses. And the alienation doesnt end there. Americas two closest friends in the regionIsrael and Saudi Arabiaare both disgusted. The Saudis, who dread all manifestations of revolution, are appalled at Washingtons failure to resolutely prop up Mubarak. The Israelis, meanwhile, are dismayed by the administrations apparent cluelessness.

Last week, while other commentators ran around Cairos Tahrir Square, hyperventilating about what they saw as an Arab 1989, I flew to Tel Aviv for the annual Herzliya security conference. The consensus among the assembled experts on the Middle East? A colossal failure of American foreign policy.

This failure was not the result of bad luck. It was the predictable consequence of the Obama administrations lack of any kind of coherent grand strategy, a deficit about which more than a few veterans of U.S. foreign policy making have long worried.

These were his words back in June 2009:

America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principlesprinciples of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.

Those lines will come back to haunt Obama if, as cannot be ruled out, the ultimate beneficiary of his bungling in Egypt is the Muslim Brotherhood, which remains by far the best organized opposition force in the countryand wholly committed to the restoration of the caliphate and the strict application of Sharia. Would such an outcome advance tolerance and the dignity of all human beings in Egypt? Somehow, I dont think so.

Grand strategy is all about the necessity of choice. Today, it means choosing between a daunting list of objectives: to resist the spread of radical Islam, to limit Irans ambition to become dominant in the Middle East, to contain the rise of China as an economic rival, to guard against a Russian reconquista of Eastern Europeand so on. The defining characteristic of Obamas foreign policy has been not just a failure to prioritize, but also a failure to recognize the need to do so. A succession of speeches saying, in essence, I am not George W. Bush is no substitute for a strategy.

So?  How'd you make out?  Did you pick up any of it?

I don't know much about Niall Ferguson.  Despite the look of this analysis I don't even know his politics.  But I do know that his fledgling column is making nothing but good sense.  In Newsweek. 

I wonder how long he can possibly last there....



So this lady goes into a butcher shop and asks for a pound of chopmeat.  The butcher says That will be $5.95.  She says $5.95???  The shop two blocks away sells it for $4.95.  The butcher says So go there and buy it for $4.95.  The lady says Theyre out of chopmeat.  And the butcher says If I were out of chopmeat Id sell it for $3.95.

I thought of this joke while reading about Katie Couric's negotiations with CBS News.  Here's why, courtesy of an excerpt from today's Wall Street Journal:

Katie Couric may end up doing something seen as unlikely just a few years ago: stay on as anchor of "CBS Evening News."

Both CBS Corp. and Ms. Couric appear open to a new deal that would keep her at the network's news division beyond her current five-year deal, which expires at the end of May, according to people briefed on the matter.

CBS has indicated that it would like Ms. Couric to continue as evening-news anchor, but wants to pare the cost of her annual base salary of roughly $15 million

Since Katie Couric took over as the CBS News anchor, its ratings have gone from #3 among the major networks to....#3 anyway -- but at viewer levels even lower than when she took over five years ago and even further below the levels posted by NBC and ABC. 

Not even a net zero, like the shop that was out of chopmeat; a net lower-than-zero.

So what is CBS negotiating to do?  They are negotiating to rehire Ms. Couric and pay her millions and millions of dollars a year - but fewer millions than they paid for her less-than-zero-net results over the past five years.

Are they out of their minds?

That, folks, is one expensive pound of chopmeat.  

Zeke .... .... .... Chopmeat is not Perky .... Neither is Katie. ..... ..... Just another newsreader. ... ..... (02/14/11)


Ken Berwitz

How do you save money by taking it?

Let me show you how they do it In Obamaland - by excerpting the first few paragraphs of Martin Crutsinger's article for the Associated Press.  And, of course, adding my comments (in blue):

WASHINGTON President Barack Obama is sending Congress a $3.73 trillion spending blueprint that pledges $1.1 trillion in deficit savings over the next decade through spending cuts and tax increases.  Saving money by adding taxes?  Thats not saving money, thats taking more money from the people who earned it than you are spending.  And who in the world believes this administration has any inclination to spend less?  In other words, it is a complete fraud.

Obama's new budget projects that the deficit for the current year will surge to an all-time high of $1.65 trillion.  Three Obama years, three 1-2 trillion dollar deficits.  Try to imagine what media would be saying if this were Bush.  Actually, don't bother trying - just remember what they did say when the Bush deficit was only $400 billion.  That reflects a sizable tax-cut agreement reached with Republicans in December. Nice try, Martin; actually, it primarily reflects an agreement to keep taxes the way they were in the first place.  For 2012, the administration sees the imbalance declining to $1.1 trillion, giving the country a record four straight years of $1 trillion-plus deficits. Are we supposed to feel good about this?  Down to a deficit that is almost triple the worst one we had in eight years of George Bush?  Dont take out the bunting and confetti on my account. 

Senior administration officials say Obama would achieve two-thirds of his projected savings through spending cuts that include a five-year freeze on many domestic programs.  Translation:  Now that spending on these programs is bloated to an all time high, Obama & Co. propose to keep it there and pretend this is some kind of austerity measure.  The other one-third of the savings would come from tax increases, including limits on tax deductions for high-income taxpayers.  Lets say it again:  raising taxes is not saving money.  But thats not to say it has no effect.  It will incentivize people to hide their money and/or invest it where the IRS cant get at it, while disincentivizing the population segment most responsible for creating jobs.  Great going guys.  I bet that model works perfectly --- in a junior year term paper.  

Even before Obama's new budget for 2012 was unveiled on Monday, Republicans were complaining that it did not go far enough. They branded Obama's budget solutions as far too timid for a country facing an unprecedented flood of red ink that has pushed annual deficits to all-time highs above $1 trillion. Er, theyre right.

"We're broke," House Speaker John Boehner said Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." He was defending a Republican effort not only to squeeze more savings out of Obama's 2012 budget but also to seek $61 billion in cuts for the current budget year.  Way too little.  $61 billion is a for-show number, a political prank.  

Bottom Line:  The Obama administration is full of beans (more accurately, the result of eating beans), and Republicans, while directionally correct, are playing politics with the numbers.

This is a deadly serious situation.  When does someone get serious about it?

Zek ..... After "Created or Saved Jobs" .... what would you expect from this administration. ...... ...... (02/14/11)


Ken Berwitz

George Shearing, the truly great jazz pianist and composer, died in Manhattan this morning of congestive heart failure.  He was 91 years old.

Mr. Shearing leaves his wife of 36 years, Ellie Geffert, and a daughter, Wendy, by his first wife, Trixie Bayes.

George Shearing was born and raised in England, and became a tremendously popular performer there before emigrating to the United States in 1947.  Blind from birth, he possessed a great talent for playing real jazz, but in a way that was understandable to his audience - not just the (more than appreciative) other members of his band (usually a quintet).

As a songwriter, Mr. Shearing's greatest success was the jazz classic "Lullaby of Birdland", which he claimed to have written in ten minutes.

When Shearing gave an 80th birthday performance at Carnegie Hall, he introduced it by saying "I have been credited with writing 300 songs. Two hundred ninety-nine enjoyed a bumpy ride from relative obscurity to total oblivion. Here is the other one."

But George Shearing, the pianist, never had relative obscurity or total oblivion.  He will go down in history as one of the greatest jazz performers of all time.

May he rest in peace.


Ken Berwitz

Professor Paul Rahe is unusual for a number of reasons - notable among them is that he is a political conservative with the title of "Professor" (academia does not smile kindly on political conservatives who might provide more than the single prevailing perspective students are supposed to know and believe).

Prof. Rahe's explanation of the how the Tea Party Movement was affected by President Obama's agenda - most particularly the health care scam known as "ObamaCare", is being quoted by several web sites today.  The reason?  It is excellent.

Let me join the crowd and post it as well:

Most important, it should be humbling to those elites that ordinary American citizens choose spontaneously to enter the political arena in droves, concert opposition, speak up in a forthright manner, and oust a host of entrenched office holders when they learn that a system of punitive taxation is in the offing, when they are repeatedly told what they know to be false--that, under the new health-care system that the administration is intent on establishing, benefits will be extended and costs reduced and no one will lose the coverage he already has--and when they discover that Medicare is to be gutted, that medical care is to be rationed, and that citizens who have no desire to purchase health insurance are going to be forced to do so. . . . What we are witnessing with the Tea Party movement is one of the periodic recurrences to fundamental principles that typify and revivify the American experiment in self-government.

No further comment from me, because no further comment is needed.

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