Thursday, 28 March 2013

SEQUESTER WATCH  Ken Berwitz

It is day 28 of the sequester.  

Do you feel any different?  Do you think anything has changed?  Do you think the country has gone to hell in a handbasket?

No?  Me neither.

But that has not stopped Mr. Obama and his fellow Democrats, from desperately trying to make people suffer so they can "prove" the sequester is hurting us - by, among other things, closing off the White House tours and the national parks.

The White House tours, in particular, cost either slightly less than $1 million dollars a year if you accept ABC News'estimate, or about $4 million if you accept the governments (I admit that, credibility-wise, this is a tough call).  So here's an expenditure that, if it didn't exist, would keep the tours going either for a few months or a full year.

As excerpted from Matt Cover's article at cnsnews.com:

The National Science Foundation awarded a grant for $876,752 to the University of Iowa to study whether there is any benefit to sex among New Zealand mud snails and whether that explains why any organism has sex.

The study, first funded in 2011 and continuing until 2015, will study the New Zealand snails to see if it is better that they reproduce sexually or asexually - the snail can do both - hoping to gain insight on why so many organisms practice sexual reproduction.

So far, the grant has paid out $502,357, according to NSF, and could pay out the full $880,000 between now and 2015. The study is funded through what NSF calls a continuing grant meaning that it agrees with the researcher to fund a certain amount, but can end up spending more on the grant if NSF agrees that more money is warranted.

Got that?  We can't keep the White House - aka "The People's House" - open for our citizens.  But there is plenty of money to find out whether New Zealand mud snails get their rocks off.  Or get off on rocks.  Or something.

Please remember that this grant - and God alone knows how many others just as, er, significant - are made by the same government that assures us the country is in major crisis over the loss of  $85 billion dollars  (only half of which would have been spent this year, thus, in reality, about $43 billon dollars) from a budget of over $3.6 TRILLION dollars.

President Obama and his fellow Democrats desperately need to "prove" what horrible consequences would come down on us if there were forced cuts in our impossibly bloated deficit spending.  But how can they possibly convince you we are strapped to the point of near-collapse when money is doled out for absolute crap like this?

Think of it as a test to see just how dumb, and/or how unconditionally committed to Obama & Co. you are.  Either that or you're a horny snail looking for a line you can use in the nearest oceanic pick-up bar.

free` Wouldn't it be nice if the government listed not only everything that they spend our money on, but also how much for each item on that list. I think the American people after seeing that list could then vote on which WoM [Waste of Money] programs to get rid of. I would be willing to bet that at a minimum we would see at least a 25% reduction in the revenues the government wastes. (03/28/13)


JAY LENO: HOW MUCH LONGER?

Ken Berwitz

How much longer will it be before NBC cans Jay Leno?  That clock has to be ticking...and loudly.

Leno and NBC are at war with each other.  And Mr. Leno, using his monologue as a forum, is making mincemeat of NBC pretty much every night.  To me, this means NBC has no choice but to dump him sooner rather than later, even if it means eating part of that fat contract which - despite NBC's problem with Leno - he has so richly earned by keeping The Tonight Show on top all these years.

As you probably know, for the past several months Leno has - to mangle a song lyric -  rushed in where NBCers fear to tread.  Depending on your point of view, he has ongoingly spoofed, and/ormade fun of, and;or insulted, and/or decimated (I'd say all four) the network.  Partly, he has done so by commenting on its less-than-stellar prime time ratings.  But, even more egregiously, Leno has (gasp!) made sport of NBC's (and, for the most part ABC's and CBS's) lord and savior, Barack Obama.  

After over four years of the Obama administration, even his most ardent supporters must realize that sarcastic humor aimed at Barack Obama is a big fat no-no.  But, recently, Leno has had no problem at all providing it.

Last night, however, the big guns were not out for Obama, they were out for NBC.  One line hit the network's ratings....

"Monday night, the primetime shows The Voice and Revolution moved NBC into the number two position.  You know what that means?  Between Easter and Passover, this is truly the season of miracles. We're number two. Amazing!" 

"And I've been saying that for the last week that NBC is a big number two. Haven't I been saying that? Yeah, so good. Congratulations!"

...while another was more personal in nature.

"God, those T-Mobile representatives are relentless, aren't they?"  Speaking of T-Mobile, they announced yesterday they're doing away with contracts. So apparently they got the idea from NBC. I'm not sure how that works."

Does material like this suggest in any way that Jay Leno expects to be on the Tonight show much longer?  Nope.

But does it mean that he won't be on a Tonight Show?  Nope again. 

Keep in mind that Leno continues to generate the largest audience of them all in his time slot:  More viewers than David Letterman, more than Jimmy Kimmel and dramatically more than Conan O'Brien, who (assuming the rumors that Fox offered him a late night show were true) made the huge mistake of going to TBS.  With about 1/7th of Leno's ratings, maybe he should rename himself Conan O'Buried.

I have no evidence to prove it, but I can't help thinking that a) Jay Leno will want to continue at least for a little longer, if only to stick it to NBC, and b) will not make the same mistake O'Brien did if an offer is forthcoming.

Fox must be salivating at the thought. 


THE CYPRUS DOMINO

Ken Berwitz

The banks in Cyprus are open again.  But that is small consolation to the people who have had their money stolen - yes, stolen - by the government to prop itself up and stay on the (probably fatally damaged anyway) euro.

Excerpted from Tom Parmenter's article for Sky News:

Queues grew outside branches across the country, with no signs of panic as employees limited the number of customers allowed in at any one time.

But many residents expressed anger at the country's controversial bailout - which requires Cyprus to raise 5.8bn euros (4.9bn).

After a rush when the doors first opened, customers queued calmly

"They have stolen our money," Milton Loucas told Sky News.

"I have been working for 60 years. I am 80 years old. I cannot work again for my living - they have cut the lot.

"Our money, our social insurance - they have cut them. How are we going to live?"

Another Cypriot, Stelios, came out of the bank empty handed.

"I tried to get my February wages and they gave me a piece of paper only," he said.

"I have two children in the army and they asked for money - I don't have money to give them.

"The Government didn't pay anybody. My old parents didn't get their pension."

The country's crippled banking system was effectively closed down on March 16 while the terms of the 10bn euro (8.5bn) bailout were agreed and implemented.

Large depositors face losses of as much as 40% of their savings as part of the deal, leading to fears that customers would attempt to withdraw large amounts of money when the banks reopened.

Demonstrations against austerity measures continued in Cyprus on Wednesday

As a result, strict capital controls include a withdrawal limit of 300 euros (253) a day and a ban on cashing cheques.

As they steal from the bank depositors in Cyprus, there are rumblings that Spain and Italy are next.

And if they do it there, you can bet they will do it - or at least try to do it - here as well.  I can envision seeing President Obama on national TV, telling us "It is only the richest, most well off who will be affected.  There is a greater good here and they should be happy to pay their fair share".  And the population segment - the rapidly growing population segment - which feels well to do people owe them, will cheer like there is no tomorrow (which they just may be right about).

How likely is it that if Cyprus, then Spain and Italy, do it, Obama will try to do the same?

You can take it to the bank.

free` Ken, Don't forget, Obama has already done this to investors and non-union employees of several automobile companies, not to mention coal workers. (03/28/13)

Zeke .... ...... Clearly, the nations of the European Union need to hire Obama, Reid, Boehner, Bernanke, et al to manage their economies. ..... ..... The US has mastered the art of spending more than it takes in, .... ..... living with skyrocketing handouts ...... .... and asserting no control over nondocumented, undocumented, illegal influx of alien squatters. ..... ..... We doan need to play by no steenkin' rules. .... ...... (03/28/13)

Ken Berwitz free - very true. Thanks for the reminder, - I regret not thinking of it when I wrote the blog. (03/28/13)


PUTTING A SMILEY-FACE ON THE ECONOMY

Ken Berwitz

Usually I don't quote extensively from Associated Press articles.  But this one time I am making an exception, because economy writer Martin Crutsinger's article about the new job numbers paints such a big smiley-face on such lousy news, that I feel compelled to respond to his exact words.

Here is part of what Mr. Crutsinger has written, in rust...with my comments in blue: 

The U.S. economy grew at a slightly faster but still anemic rate at the end of last year. However, there is hope that growth accelerated in early 2013 despite higher taxes and cuts in government spending.  In other words, we had another lousy quarter and you are trying to put a positive face on it.  Lotsa luck.

The economy grew at an annual rate of 0.4 percent in the October-December quarter, the Commerce Department said Thursday. That was slightly better than the previous estimate of 0.1 percent growth. The revision reflected stronger business investment and export sales.  Strong enough to move it from lousy to lousy?  Wow.

Analysts think the economy is growing at a rate of around 2.5 percent in the current January-March quarter, which ends this week.  And what would be good about that?  If the economy was in the horrific shape President Obama claimed when he ran in 2008, shouldn't we be seeing far better growth than 2.5%?  

Steady hiring has kept consumers spending this year. And a rebound in company stockpiling, further gains in housing and more business spending also likely drove faster growth in the first quarter.  Again, you are trying to make this look like some great boom.  It is anything but.

The 0.4 percent growth rate for the gross domestic product, the economy's total output of goods and services, was the weakest quarterly performance in almost two years and followed a much faster 3.1 percent increase in the third quarter. The fourth quarter was hurt by the sharpest fall in defense spending in 40 years.  Finally you - sort of - admit how crappy the 0.4% is.

For all of 2012, the economy grew 2.2 percent after a 1.8 percent increase in 2011 and a 2.4 percent advance in 2010. Since the recession ended in mid-2009, the economy has been expanding at sub-par rates as a string of problems from higher gas prices to Europe's debt crisis have acted as a drag on the U.S. economy.  Not one word about the fact that Obama's spending spree, including his disastrous "stimulus package", has cost us over $6 trillion dollars in additional debt, but failed to move us into a boom period?  How about noting that, without a "stimulus package", the normal business cycle might have provided this much growth, maybe even more?  Oh, wait:  this is the Obama administration so you can't say that.  Sorry, I forgot.

Growth appears to be strengthening this year even after taxes increased on Jan. 1 and automatic government spending cuts totaling $85 billion started to take effect on March 1. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that the combination of tax increases and spending cuts could trim economic growth this year by about 1.5 percentage points. The CBO is predicting just 1.5 percent growth for 2013. What? Are you saying growth is strengthening or weakening?  I see both, just one sentence apart in the same paragraph.  And would you help us out and tell us more about the tax cuts - specifics, please - because all I see are tax hikes. 

But so far, the economy is showing signs of holding its own against the fiscal drag. Yeah, right. 

Employers have added an average of 200,000 jobs a month since November. That helped lower the unemployment rate in February to 7.7 percent, a four-year low.  News flash:  this is the same unemployment level as when Obama took office.  So what you're saying is that, after blowing us trillions and trillions of dollars more into debt, the result has been higher unemployment for four years and, just now, a return to where we were in the first place.  And, of course, not a word about the fact that unemployment is back to where it was at the beginning of 2009 only because millions of people have left the workforce.  How come you didn't mention that workforce participation - which was at 65.7% in January of 2009, has fallen to 63.6% this past December - the lowest since 1981?  How come you didn't also mention that, if workforce participation were equivalent to where it was when President Bush left the White House, unemployment under Obama would be closer to 10%?  I guess it just slipped your mind.

Ok, there you have it.  Now:  who is making more sense? 

You decide.


ABOUT THAT NETANYAHU APOLOGY TO TURKEY

Ken Berwitz

The one potentially useful part of President Obama's trip to Israel, I thought, was the possibility - slim though it was - that Prime Minister Netanyahu's Obama-induced "apology" to Turkish President Erdogan, and Erdogan's promise to restore, and work on bettering, relations with Israel, could potentially herald a return to the very good relations the two countries used to have, until Erdogan started "Islamicizing" Turkey and, concomitantly, blowing off Israel.

Personally, I did not see it happening.  Recep Erdogan has made his contempt for Israel, and for Jews - especially Jews who support Israel - more than plain in recent years.  But you try to be optimistic and hope - which certainly is what Benjamin Netanyahu did when he extended himself and his country, by apologizing for actions that required absolutely no apology.

So how is this new era of good feelings working out?  The following excerpt from Sara Miller and Gil Hoffman's article in yesterday's Jerusalem Post should tell you pretty plainly:

Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan in a phone call last week, just as US President Barack Obama was leaving the country. During the conversation, Netanyahu voiced regret for the loss of life in the incident, and apologized for any mistakes that led to the death of the nine Turkish activists. Breaking a three-year deadlock, the two agreed to normalize relations.

Since then however, Erdogan appears to have backtracked on commitments he made during the conversation, announcing that he intends to visit Gaza, and saying that despite Israel's apology, it is still too early to drop the case against IDF generals accused by Ankara of being responsible for the deaths.

Erdogan also said Netanyahu's apology satisfied Turkish expectations when he used the word "apology" instead of "regret," but that it was still too soon to fully restore diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.

In other words, thanks for humbling yourself to me, Bennie, but you're not getting a thing for it.  Better luck next time.

A genuine embarrassment for Benjamin Netanyahu.  Another great "foreign policy triumph" for Barack Obama.  And, I assume, another lesson not learned, since neither he nor the people around him ever seem to learn a thing from their mistakes.

Then again, neither do we.  We re-elected him, didn't we?


THE QUOTE OF THE DAY

Ken Berwitz

Question:  What do you call a Black man who rose from nothing to become a brilliant, highly respected neurosurgeon? 

Answer:  Uncle Tom - provided you happen to be a race-obsessed jerk who cannot abide anyone having different political beliefs than he does.

You can also call those two Dr. Benjamin Carson and toure neblett.  Because they are the people my Q and A - and the quote of the day - springs from.

Dr. Carson, when he is not saving lives in operating rooms or, administratively speaking, functioning as the Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, is an outspoken political conservative.  Which is just fine, of course:  Mr. Carson is perfectly entitled to his beliefs.

toure neblett, when he is not ranting about racial indignities and affronts, whether real or imagined, is an outspoken left winger who appears to see just about everything in racial terms. Which is just fine, of course.  neblett is entitled to his beliefs no more or less than Carson is. 

But when neblett opens that big mouth of his and insults Carson eight ways from Sunday...for the "crime" of not having what neblett considers the correct "Black" political positions (as if skin color is a final determinant of what every Black person must think), he crosses the lines of reason, judgment and simple decency....along with exposing the racism that seems to inform just about everything he says about any subject at all.

Here, from mediaite.com, is neblett's rant: 

Let's forget for a moment that neblett's commentary is filled with so many unfounded speculations and ridiculous claims that my typing fingers would hurt to list them all -- though I have to admit his claim that a flat tax would mean people with incomes in the top 1% and bottom 60% would pay an equal amount of taxes is a personal favorite.  We'll concentrate on the insulting, dismissive tone he employs against Benjamin Carson.

Which leads us to our quote of the day, which comes in the form of Dr. Carson's response to neblett's insults:

"if you don't have anything useful to say, you attack people. If you feel that your house of cards has been discovered and is starting to come unraveled, you become very desperate.  Intelligent people tend to talk about the facts, they don't sit around and call each other names. That's what you can find on a third grade playground.

"...they feel if you look a certain way, then you have to stay on the plantation....obviously (by calling me an Uncle Tom) they don't know what an 'Uncle Tom' is...he was very, very subservient, kind of go along to get along type of person...obviously, that's not what I'm doing."

Put another way, Benjamin Carson is saying that toure neblett is talking like a child; that he has his own mind, not a mind implanted by the nebletts of the world which runs in only one direction, and that people like neblett, who uniformly cling to one point of view, are the subservient ones, not him.

I don't know how he could have said it better.

For this, Dr. Benjamin Carson richly deserves being cited for the quote of the day. 

Too bad I don't have a "joke of the day" category,  Then I could cite toure neblett as well.


LEFT WING "CIVILITY" (CONT.)

Ken Berwitz

I have not posted an installment of Left Wing "Civility" in quite a while.

But since William Donahue, President of the Catholic League, has put together a (probably only partial) list of Catholic-bashing comments from the execrable bill maher over just the past month or so, I think it is time to remind readers of just how hate-filled he - and his fellow left wingers - can be.

Here is Donahue's list:

March 22, 2013, "Real Time with Bill Maher" [HBO], on Pope Francis: After labeling the pope a "virgin bachelor," Maher opined, "What other business could you be in where your company gets caught running a child sex ring since forever and you still keep your customers?"

March 15, 2013, "Real Time with Bill Maher" [HBO], on Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI: After displaying pictures of notable persons holding signs mocking themselves, Maher showed a picture of the pope emeritus holding a sign saying, "Not actually sick...I just hated that f***ing job."

February 15, 2013, "Real Time with Bill Maher" [HBO], on the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI: "Now...as you all know, this week, Pope Benedict told Vatican Radio-you know, Vatican Radio, playing the hits from the 8th century, 9th century and today-Benedict told them he was going to resign because the Church needs a fresh, young face, somewhere other than a priest's lap."

"It's okay to let go. No one can fault you for losing faith in an organization that won't even allow women as priests, because, the reasoning goes, Jesus didn't have any female apostles. Yeah, you remember the Last Supper: a total sausage party.

"The fact is that any enterprise that excludes women almost always descends into sexual deviancy. At least at my bathhouse."

"Show me any culture that's traditionally hostile to women, and I will show you a culture that is screwed up. Like the Taliban. Like our military with its enormous rape problem. And like the Catholic Church."

February 11, 2013, "Conan" [TBS], smearing priests: "We found early this year or last year in the Republican primaries when the Republicans made contraception an issue, 98% of Catholics use birth control and the only ones who don't are the priests. They would if altar boys could get pregnant."

That enough hate-commentary for you? 

Now:  What have mainstream media - the same media which would jump all over anyone who tossed out even 1/50th as much invective about, say, Muslims, or atheists, or gay people, or women, or urban Black males - said about maher? 

That's right:  next to nothing.

The reason?  When the target is right wing and/or traditional religion, it is open season.  No limits at all.  But when the target is left wing and/or pretty much anyone but White males, it is taboo. 

Put more simply, media will tell you who you can and cannot hate, it will be based on who they do and do find acceptable to hate, and you damn well better pay heed.

As I've said many times in here:  it is amazing how much hatred spews from people who claim to be against hatred.   And bill maher - with so much of mainstream media aiding and abetting him - is as prolific a practitioner as there is.

Ken Berwitz Wis - thank you. Much appreciated. (03/28/13)

WisOldMan It's difficult to care about Maher, even when he's smearing Catholics, like myself. It's more valuable to hold him up as representative of the atheist-left...and intolerant, hateful religious bigotry...as you do, Ken. And you do well. So thanks for that. (03/28/13)


JAY LENO: HOW MUCH LONGER?

Ken Berwitz

How much longer will it be before NBC cans Jay Leno?  That clock has to be ticking...and loudly.

Leno and NBC are at war with each other.  And Mr. Leno, using his monologue as a forum, is making mincemeat of NBC pretty much every night.  To me, this means NBC has no choice but to dump him sooner rather than later, even if it means eating part of that fat contract which - despite NBC's problem with Leno - he has so richly earned by keeping The Tonight Show on top all these years.

As you probably know, for the past several months Leno has - to mangle a song lyric -  rushed in where NBCers fear to tread.  Depending on your point of view, he has ongoingly spoofed, and/ormade fun of, and;or insulted, and/or decimated (I'd say all four) the network.  Partly, he has done so by commenting on its less-than-stellar prime time ratings.  But, even more egregiously, Leno has (gasp!) made sport of NBC's (and, for the most part ABC's and CBS's) lord and savior, Barack Obama.  

After over four years of the Obama administration, even his most ardent supporters must realize that sarcastic humor aimed at Barack Obama is a big fat no-no.  But, recently, Leno has had no problem at all providing it.

Last night, however, the big guns were not out for Obama, they were out for NBC.  One line hit the network's ratings....

"Monday night, the primetime shows The Voice and Revolution moved NBC into the number two position.  You know what that means?  Between Easter and Passover, this is truly the season of miracles. We're number two. Amazing!" 

"And I've been saying that for the last week that NBC is a big number two. Haven't I been saying that? Yeah, so good. Congratulations!"

...while another was more personal in nature.

"God, those T-Mobile representatives are relentless, aren't they?"  Speaking of T-Mobile, they announced yesterday they're doing away with contracts. So apparently they got the idea from NBC. I'm not sure how that works."

Does material like this suggest in any way that Jay Leno expects to be on the Tonight show much longer?  Nope.

But does it mean that he won't be on a Tonight Show?  Nope again. 

Keep in mind that Leno continues to generate the largest audience of them all in his time slot:  More viewers than David Letterman, more than Jimmy Kimmel and dramatically more than Conan O'Brien, who (assuming the rumors that Fox offered him a late night show were true) made the huge mistake of going to TBS.  With about 1/7th of Leno's ratings, maybe he should rename himself Conan O'Buried.

I have no evidence to prove it, but I can't help thinking that a) Jay Leno will want to continue at least for a little longer, if only to stick it to NBC, and b) will not make the same mistake O'Brien did if an offer is forthcoming.

Fox must be salivating at the thought. 


ABOUT THAT NETANYAHU APOLOGY TO TURKEY

Ken Berwitz

The one potentially useful part of President Obama's trip to Israel, I thought, was the possibility - slim though it was - that Prime Minister Netanyahu's Obama-induced "apology" to Turkish President Erdogan, and Erdogan's promise to restore, and work on bettering, relations with Israel, could potentially herald a return to the very good relations the two countries used to have, until Erdogan started "Islamicizing" Turkey and, concomitantly, blowing off Israel.

Personally, I did not see it happening.  Recep Erdogan has made his contempt for Israel, and for Jews - especially Jews who support Israel - more than plain in recent years.  But you try to be optimistic and hope - which certainly is what Benjamin Netanyahu did when he extended himself and his country, by apologizing for actions that required absolutely no apology.

So how is this new era of good feelings working out?  The following excerpt from Sara Miller and Gil Hoffman's article in yesterday's Jerusalem Post should tell you pretty plainly:

Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan in a phone call last week, just as US President Barack Obama was leaving the country. During the conversation, Netanyahu voiced regret for the loss of life in the incident, and apologized for any mistakes that led to the death of the nine Turkish activists. Breaking a three-year deadlock, the two agreed to normalize relations.

Since then however, Erdogan appears to have backtracked on commitments he made during the conversation, announcing that he intends to visit Gaza, and saying that despite Israel's apology, it is still too early to drop the case against IDF generals accused by Ankara of being responsible for the deaths.

Erdogan also said Netanyahu's apology satisfied Turkish expectations when he used the word "apology" instead of "regret," but that it was still too soon to fully restore diplomatic ties and appoint new ambassadors, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported.

In other words, thanks for humbling yourself to me, Bennie, but you're not getting a thing for it.  Better luck next time.

A genuine embarrassment for Benjamin Netanyahu.  Another great "foreign policy triumph" for Barack Obama.  And, I assume, another lesson not learned, since neither he nor the people around him ever seem to learn a thing from their mistakes.

Then again, neither do we.  We re-elected him, didn't we?


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