Wednesday, 09 May 2007

GREENSBURG KANSAS AND THE NATIONAL GUARD: ONE MORE LOOK AT REALITY

Ken Berwitz

This, we should live and be well, will be the last blog I do about the National Guard and Greensburg, Kansas.

As I pointed out previously, the governor of the state, Kathleen Sebelius, is claiming that a) their performance is subpar because b) President Bush has too many of them and too much of their equipment in Iraq.  She is lying on both counts.  Not misstating, not exaggerating, but lying.  You can scroll back and see the specifics in yesterday's commentary, titled "Greensburg Kansas:  The Truth About Their National Guard". 

Today, however, I will let the people of Greensburg themselves tell you in their own words.  Here is an article from the CBS affiliate which says it all:-

Greensburg Victim Rips Kansas Gov. For Comments

Resident: Claim Of Slow Response An Absurd 'Political Slam'

(CBS) GREENSBURG, Kan. While Democratic Gov. Kathleen Sebelius and the Bush administration jaw back-and-forth over the relief efforts for Greensburg, Kan., the town devastated by Friday night's F-5 tornado, town residents have chimed in and say they couldn't be any happier with the response from the government and other rescue units.

"The poor response thing is just political BS," Greensburg resident Mike Swigart, 47, who lost his house and four vehicles from the storm, told wcbstv.com in an exclusive interview. "I saw her on television and I'm disappointed in that because she doesn't know what she's talking about."

On Monday, Sebelius criticized the government's response for relief.

"I don't think there is any question if you are missing trucks, Humvees and helicopters that the response is going to be slower. The real victims here will be the residents of Greensburg, because the recovery will be at a slower pace."

Sebelius said that with other states facing similar limitations, "stuff that we would have borrowed is gone."

Swigart's voice was soft and raspy on Wednesday, likely from the dust and mold that filled the rubble and remains of what was once his house of more than a decade. He recalled the intensity of the storm and the fear that took over his family as he, his wife, and his two sons, ages 10 and 13, huddled tightly inside a tiny five-by-five bathroom in his basement on Friday night.

"I thought we were goners. I really thought we were going to be gone," he said. "I was just totally surprised by the intensity of it especially, and I really thought we were done for. I just kept holding onto everybody and as it got louder, we prayed harder and louder and I gotta say I think it helped."

After the storm dissipated, Swigart and his family came up to find just a small portion of the structure of their house remaining. Their cars were destroyed. People were crawling from a semi-truck that rolled onto his lawn. But Swigart said there was an almost immediate response from other towns, people who had lined up to try and provide rescue efforts. He said Sebelius' comment about the lack of Humvees was unfounded.

"You may have seen her on television when she said that, and she talked about Hummers, that we needed Hummers. There were Hummers sitting in front of my house every day. The National Guard was there," he said. "I saw people from all over who came right away to help and nobody sent them, they just came because they knew it was going to be big. The response was excellent, the rescue efforts were all night long, and I even made a comment to my wife later that night when we came back into our basement that I can't imagine anyone saying we had a poor response to this tragedy, that it was so quick and it was amazing."

Swigart says the general feeling around the town is that residents were overwhelmed by the immediate response, and that the governor's fuss was for her own good. White House press secretary Tony Snow responded to Sebelius by saying that there was no request by Kansas officials for extra equipment, and that if there is anyone to blame, it's her.

"I was told she wanted to run as vice president on the Democratic ticket, and honestly, I wouldn't vote for her if they paid me because of that one thing she said on television right there. It was a political slam is all it was," he said. "It was a political statement and as far as the military thing overseas, I support what they're doing over there, and the military that came here is doing a great job too."

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SLIPS OF THE TONGUE AND MEDIA BIAS

Ken Berwitz

Several days ago President Bush had a momentary slip of the tongue when speaking about Queen Elizabeth.  He said "The American people are proud to welcome your majesty back to the United States, a nation you've come to know very well. After all you've dined with 10 U.S. presidents. You've helped our nation celebrate its bicentennial in 17 - 1976"

Instead of just continuing on which, in hindsight, Bush should have done, he stopped, waited for people to laugh at the slip and essentially forced Queen Elizabeth to react to it.  Then he made a pretty decent joke about the look she gave him and continued on.  A nice recovery from a self-created problem.

The press, both here and in the UK, had a field day with this.  They took a momentary slip of the tongue which was corrected on the spot - literally within one second - and made it into world news.  My co-author, Barry Sinrod, took it even further, saying that..."He thanked Queen Elizabeth for coming to the US to celebrate "our bi centennial".  He missed by 20+ years ago.  The man is a moron..."

Me?  I saw it as what it obviously was;  an inadvertent slip, immediately corrected, and apropos of nothing other than that sometimes words come out the wrong way.

This brings us to Barack Obama. 

Yesterday, speaking to a crowd of 500 in Richmond Virginia, Obama said "In case you missed it, this week, there was a tragedy in Kansas. Ten thousand people died - an entire town destroyed,".  

Now that's one helluva slip of the tongue.  The actual total, as of this morning, is 12.  But Obama didn't immediately correct it, he kept speaking WITHOUT correcting it.  Only at the end of the speech (probably because he was frantically cued by his staff), he tried to recoup by saying "There are going to be times when I get tired," he said. "There are going to be times when I get weary. There are going to be times when I make mistakes."

How do I see this?  The exact same way that I saw it for President Bush:  an inadvertent slip, apropos of nothing other than that sometimes words come out the wrong way.  The only difference is that Mr. Bush corrected himself immediately and Mr. Obama did not.   But that's no big deal either.  He realized or was made aware of the error and fixed it.  No harm, no foul.

This morning I read the New York Times and watched the Today show.  Both made a huge deal out of President Bush's inadvertent, immediately corrected mistake.  And guess what?  No mention at all of Obama's inadvertent, NOT immediately corrected mistake in either place.  Not a word.  One of the two leading presidential candidates from the party favored to win the presidency in 2008 completely misstates the death toll of that tragedy and it not only isn't big news, it is not reported at all.  You're not supposed to know it happened.. 

For the record, that's not all Obama misstated at the Richmond rally.  He also claimed that the National Guard in Kansas had only 40% of its equipment because of Iraq.  That is way below reality, as I showed you in one of my blogs yesterday.  Mr. Obama also declined to mention that Kansas Governor Sebelius, who is now - incredibly - blaming President Bush for the slowness of response to this tragedy, turned down additional federal help when it was offered.  Then, when the criticism started piling up on how slow rescue efforts were, she suddenly discovered it was Bush's fault, not hers or her people.

That went unmentioned in the New York Times as well (the Today show did make note of it).

The purpose of this commentary is, I would think, self-evident:  Major venues within mainstream media have an institutionalized bias against President Bush and Republicans, but are perfectly willing to let Democrats skate on the same things they nail Bush and Republicans for.  I have shown this over and over again on this site;  Obama's gaffe is just the latest example. 

The lesson to be learned here is that you cannot just accept what mainstream media say.  If you do, you probably are accepting a biased version of events and therefore making yourself ignorant of reality. 

However, you are also making things easy for yourself.  If you just parrot what you heard on the news or saw on the front page, many people will nod agreement with you for the same reason - it's easy for them too.  You are that much less likely to be challenged and that much less likely to have to explain your opinions to people whose answer will be a recital of what they read/watched on TV rather than actually thought about. If you go off course and say something different they will "know" you are wrong, and "know" that you're "one of those people" - i.e. a hopelessly ignorant clod, probably a rightwing nutcake.

In other words, you will be socially damaged for seeking out the truth instead of just shutting up and diffidently accepting the pap spoon-fed to you by media.  That is the price of not being a sheep.

The choice is yours.  What will you do?


FROM AL SHARPTON, JUDGE AND JURY OF BIGOTRY

Ken Berwitz

Since the Democratic party and mainstream media have set al sharpton up as the arbiter of what is and isn't bigotry, I thought you might be interested in a comment he made on Monday, during a political debate with (atheist) Christopher Hitchens.

Speaking of Mitt Romney, a Mormon who is one of the leading Republican candidates, sharpton said:-

"As for the one Mormon running for office, those who really believe in God will defeat him anyways, so don't worry about that; that's a temporary situation,"  -

Credit to the Associated Press for reporting it.  Shame to the countless media venues that were all over sharpton's judgement of Don Imus after his "nappy - headed ho's" comment, but who ignored sharpton's religious insult to Romney in particular and Mormons in general --- not to mention his 20 year history of far worse comments and behavior targeted at Whites and Jews.

Hey, we can't have sharpton judged over comments like that.  No, no no.  He is our ICON, he is the judge and jury of all matters relating to bigotry.  To point out that he says things like this would be to tarnish his image.  That would be unthinkable.

Sometimes the bias is literally breathtaking.

 


THE FACE OF DISHONESTY

Ken Berwitz

In case you're wondering what the lying Governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius, looks like, here she is with President Bush.  Please note the warmth and approachability:

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I rest my case.


THIS DAY IN WORLD WAR II: MAY 9, 1944 (not 1943 anymore)

Ken Berwitz

Originally I picked 1943 for this series because it was the middle year of our involvement in World War II.  But it has been pointed out to me that 1944 is a more accurate year because it is further along in the war and closer to our most active involvement (i.e. D-Day and afterwards).   So I've taken the advice and moved things ahead.

Here is what happened on May 9, 1944 - as usual, courtesy of www.onwar.com.-

On the Eastern Front... In the Crimea, the Red Army captures the city of Sevastopol after three days of fighting. German and Romanian troops fall back toward Cape Kersonessky where evacuations continue.

In New Guinea... Japanese forces skirmish with American forces on the beachheads around Hollandia.

Over Occupied France... Allied air forces begin large scale raids on airbases in France as part of the preparation for the D-Day invasion. -

How would today's media have treated this news?

The Russian success in Sevastopol would have been held up as proof that Europeans should be the ones fighting a war in Europe, not us.  If they are willing to fight and die for themselves, what in the world would we accomplish by getting involved?  It isn't our business.

Similarly, the question of why we are in New Guinea, which means absolutely nothing to us, would be asked and editorialized about.

Finally, the Army Air Corps (no Air Force in those days) would have been reamed for the provocation of bombing air bases.  We would be told that if there is eventually a reason for our involvement in Europe's war it will be actions like this which cause it.  We are bringing a war we have no business fighting upon ourselves.  Fire Stimson!  Impeach FDR!


GUEST EDITORIAL: IBD ON NANCY PELOSI

Ken Berwitz

Here is yesterday's editorial from Investor's Business Daily on the earmark Nancy Pelosi - yeah, that Nancy Pelosi, the one who is outraged by earmarks - plunked into aq bill at the last minute.  This one not only is a huge handout to her district but, wonder of wonders, is likely to make her already-rich husband a lot richer too. 

And, as IBD points out....almost all mainstream media have buried this so far you would have to launch a rocket ship from China to find it.  As usual, the bold print is mine:-

A New Pelosi Pigout?

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, May 08, 2007 4:20 PM PT

Media: When Dennis Hastert was accused of profiting from congressional earmarks last year, media went into a front-page frenzy over "corruption." With Nancy Pelosi now in the same spot, it's a back-page story.

In case you haven't heard, and maybe you haven't, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi slipped in a $25 million provision for San Francisco's waterfront on a $15 billion federal water bill at the last minute. It's pork barrel spending, yes, but more than that.

Republicans are crying foul because the federal cash for port improvements and the bill's provision for Pier 35 cruise ship dockage all benefit a toney area of San Francisco one where Pelosi's husband just happens to own real estate about a mile away.

His properties are close enough to benefit from the inflow of federal cash to the area and from the added business the new development will bring. At the very least, the question should be raised because he definitely has friends in high places.

To be fair, Pelosi's earmark is going to a touristy area near Coit Tower, where plenty of San Francisco's movers and shakers could potentially benefit from the trough's offerings, too. Given the small size of San Francisco, maybe it's impossible to avoid conflicts.

But that's just it. When the last House Speaker, Dennis Hastert, made a $2 million profit from selling land almost six miles from a highway project he secured a $200 million earmark for in 2005, the outcry was loud about how he might have served himself.

The media ran front-page stories on it for days and television commentators harrumphed about public corruption the GOP kind.

Now that Democrat Pelosi has secured an earmark for some land a mere 5,400 feet from her husband's property, there are no front-page stories. But there should be, because this isn't the first time she's been noticeably helpful to her own interests.

A few months ago, Pelosi wrote a provision into a minimum wage law that exempted American Samoa from its costs to businesses. The exemption benefited Starkist, whose Del Monte headquarters is in Pelosi's district. Like this pork issue, that story dropped from the news like a dead fish.

As far as we can tell, only the Associated Press and New York Post have reported the story, and local papers are asleep. Much of the media has tucked the lonely AP story onto their back pages for appearances' sake. But in practical terms, this story will drop from the pier fast and sink without notice.

Maybe Pelosi did something wrong and maybe she didn't. Were phone calls made from Union Street lobbyists, or were deals cut at The Palm? Is there something about the law that makes it impossible to follow? We don't know because the media aren't on it.

The one thing we do know is that the media shows one standard of coverage for charges made against Republicans and another standard for Democrats.

With Pelosi on the hot seat this time, this news probably will get deep-sixed. It shouldn't. -

Do you think media bias could have anything to do with this?  Give it some deep thought and get back to me.


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