Friday, 22 June 2007

WHO DO YOU BELIEVE?

Ken Berwitz

This dispute about what senators Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer said within earshot of senator James Inhofe is all over the blogosphere. I've lifted the following excerpts from Jake Tapper at abcnews.com, but you can find it in countless other places as well..

Talk talk talk

June 22, 2007 8:58 AM

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okl, claims he overheard Sens. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and Barbara Boxer, D-Calf, chatting about how out of control talk radio had become.

"They said we've got to do something about this," Inhofe told a talk radio host. (LINK) "That 'these are nothing but far right wing extremists, we've got to have a balance, there's got to be a legislative fix to this.'"

I'm still waiting for comment from Clinton's and Boxer's offices.but this comes on the heels of a new study by a liberal group (LINK) that claims that in Spring 2007 "of the 257 news/talk stations owned by the top five commercial station owners, 91 percent of the total weekday talk radio programming was conservative."

What do you think?

--jpt

UPDATE: Boxer's and Clinton's offices got back to me.

"Senator Boxer told me that either her friend Senator Inhofe needs new glasses or he needs to have his hearing checked, because that conversation never happened," says Natalie Ravitz, the communications director for Boxer.

"Jim Inhofe is wrong," says Philippe Reines, Clinton's press secretary. "This supposed conversation never happened - not in his presence or anywhere else." .

First, a little disclosure for you:  I am not a fan of James Ihofe's.  He is well to the right of me and not my political compatriot at all.

That said, however, I doubt that you can find a more honest man in the senate.  Whatever I think of his individual positions, I have great confidence he will state them as he believes them.

By contrast, however, I cannot say that I have any such confidence for senator Clinton or Boxer.  I don't consider either of them very honest or forthcoming.

Add to this that the study Tapper mentions was put out just this week - coincidentally I'm sure - by an organization headed by John Podesta, Bill Clinton's former chief of staff (remember the co-presidency?), and Ms. Clinton's denial starts taking on the aroma of the Bayonne docks after a July heat wave.

I don't claim to know for sure who is telling the truth.  I wasn't there.  But If I were a betting man, my stake would be on Inhofe.


EASY ANTI-CATHOLICISM

Ken Berwitz

Robin Williams is an amazingly talented performer, possibly the most talented I have ever seen.  And one of his greatest talents is improvisational humor - i.e. the ability to just "wing it" and let fly with whatever comes out of his mouth, completely unscripted.  He can be hilarious when he does this.  What a great, creative genius he is!

This being the case, however, it makes me wonder why he would forgo such amazing gifts and attack one of the most predictable, easy, cheap-shot targets out there:  Catholics.  Forgetting the moral issues involved (for the moment, anyway), what's the point of it?   Lesser comedians need that high hard one down the middle of the plate, not Mr. Williams.

On Monday, Robin Williams was a guest on the Tonight Show.  And a good portion of his "humor" involved vicious Catholic-bashing. Here is an account of his performance from www.newsbusters.com:.

On the show, Williams pretended to play a game where the pedophile is hidden under a cap (hat tip to the Catholic League). Said Williams: "Here we go. Find the priest, find the pedophile. Find the priest, find the pedophile. Here you go right now. Move 'em around, move 'em around. Oh, you found the pedophile." 

Williams went on, placing his hand over his groin, saying, "Youhave to realize that if you are a Catholic priest, you have retired this. That's it--no more sex."  Then Williams slammed confession. "But they are going to put you in a small, dark box and people are going to tell you the nastiest sexual stuff they have done.

Commenting on Williams' anti-Catholic bigotry being aired on a major network, Catholic League President Bill Donohue said: "Isiah Washington lashes out at one gay person in private and he is banished from 'Grey's Anatomy.' Robin Williams lashes out all priests in public and he suffers no consequence. To top it off, Williams suggests that most molesting priests are pedophiles, when in fact they are homosexuals. But to make a joke about gay priests could get him into trouble. So it's better to lie. This is justice--Hollywood style." .

I hope you have some problems with this "humor".  I know I do.

Yes, there are Catholic priests who have sexually abused children.  Just as there are Muslims who kill their daughters because the daughters have been raped (that's for real, folks,  It is called "honor killing", believe it or not).  There are also HIV- positive homosexuals who continue to have unprotected sex, thus exposing this horrible condition to innocent, unsuspecting partners.  Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.

But you cannot attack Muslims or homosexuals as a group.  That would make you a bigot, a neanderthal, a disgusting lesser being, deserving of scorn and ridicule. 

On the other hand, if you do it to Catholics?  No problem.  It's open season.  And they're not the only ones.

Consider the case of Don Imus's racial insult ("nappy-headed hos) and Rosie O'Donnell's sarcasm regarding Chinese people ("ching chong, ching chong").   Imus is fired and disgraced.  Rosie O'Donnell reaps every benefit.  You can't attack Black people, you'll get your backside handed to you in a nanosecond.  But Chinese people can be ridiculed at will, it's like shooting fish in a barrel.  What can they do about it?

So why does this happen?  What are the criteria which define which insults against entire groups are and are not acceptable?  I think I can offer you two:

-One of them is fear of retribution.  If you go after Muslims as a group or homosexuals as a group, you are going to get reamed.  Both have extremely active organizations that will come down on you hard as nails.  Plus, I suspect there is the fear factor for insulting Muslims (fatwah, anyone?) and the fact that acceptance of homosexuality has become a key criterion for proving you are a tolerant, understanding person, thus homosexual bashing means you are the opposite.  

No such luck for Catholics, though.  Catholics don't issue religious decrees that make you afraid to go to sleep at night, and Catholics, despite their numbers, do not have the media support that gay and lesbian people do.   

-The other is more political in nature.  Robin Williams and Rosie O'Donnell are left of center.  And, as such, they are in tune with the political sentiments of most mainstream media in this country.  This liberates them to be as small and hurtful as they want towards Catholics, Chinese, whomever.  Call it professional courtesy.

I believe that the single straightest line to hatred is judging people as components of groups rather than as the individuals we all are.  I don't care if you are Catholic, or Muslim, or homosexual, or anything else.  You are YOU.  And unless you define yourself by the group you belong to and therefore are telling me that you are voluntarily soburdinate to that group, I won't see you that way. 

Personally, I try very hard to keep to this philosophy.  Admittedly it is sometimes hard to do.  But it is almost always the right thing to do, and decent people try to do the right thing.

I hope Mr. Williams thinks about his comments on Monday and reflects upon how wrong, unfair and hurtful they are to so many people.  Maybe he can even find it in himself to apologize to the Catholics he insulted.

An apology wouldn't be very improvisational and could never get the hip-crowd laughs he is so good at generating.  But it would be a pretty good thing to do.  The right thing.


FYI

Ken Berwitz

Without going into the reasons, I probably will not have access to a computer for a couple of days.  But that's not 100%, so please check in every now and again to see if I was able to blog.. 

I promise to be back for sure either Sunday night or Monday morning.

 


THE HUMAN OIL SLICK STRIKES AGAIN

Ken Berwitz

First it was the 28,000 square foot house being built by a man who piously talked about how unjust it was to have "two Americas" - one of haves and the other of have nots.

Then it was the announcement that his wife's cancer had returned, done not in a tasteful, concerned way but as a media event he used to promote his presidential candidacy.

Then it was the $55,000 fee paid to him by a major university so he could speak about poverty.

Now?  It is the cynical usage of funds meant to fight poverty that are in fact being used to further his presidential ambitions.

Who are we talking about?  I bet you already know.  But, pro forma, I'll mention that we are talking about the human oil slick, john edwards.

Here are the particulars, which can be found all over the news this morning -- even on the front page of the New York Times, which is where this excerpt was pulled from:.

June 22, 2007

In Aiding Poor, Edwards Built Bridge to 2008

John Edwards ended 2004 with a problem: how to keep alive his public profile without the benefit of a presidential campaign that could finance his travels and pay for his political staff.

Mr. Edwards, who reported this year that he had assets of nearly $30 million, came up with a novel solution, creating a nonprofit organization with the stated mission of fighting poverty. The organization, the Center for Promise and Opportunity, raised $1.3 million in 2005, and unlike a sister charity he created to raise scholarship money for poor students the main beneficiary of the centers fund-raising was Mr. Edwards himself, tax filings show.

A spokesman for Mr. Edwards defended the center yesterday as a legitimate tool against poverty.

The organization became a big part of a shadow political apparatus for Mr. Edwards after his defeat as the Democratic vice presidential nominee in 2004 and before the start of his presidential bid this time around. Its officers were members of his political staff, and it helped pay for his nearly constant travel, including to early primary states.

While Mr. Edwards said the organizations purpose was making the eradication of poverty the cause of this generation, its federal filings say it financed retreats and seminars with foreign policy experts on Iraq and national security issues. Unlike the scholarship charity, donations to it were not tax deductible, and, significantly, it did not have to disclose its donors as political action committees and other political fund-raising vehicles do and there were no limits on the size of individual donations. .

You need quite a bit of hubris to run for president as a nondescript one-term senator with no legislative accomplishments and a grotesquely bad record of attendance at your committee meetings.  And if that was the extent of what edwards could be nailed with, it would be more than enough.

But when you add in the overt hypocrisy of this man, it takes on epic proportion.  It is as if he believes mouthing words to the country is like making summations to the juries he talked into multi-million dollar judgments against doctors and hospitals.  Talking slickly and persuasively is all you need. 

However the electorate is a different kind of jury.  We are not bound by the parameters of written law or the limitations placed on us by a judge.  We can look at the entire picture.

And when you look at the entire picture of the human oil slick, john edwards, he suddenly comes across less like a viable candidate for the oval office and more like this generation's Dorian Gray.


TROOP SURGE 'FAILURE' UPDATE

Ken Berwitz

I post this as part of a continuing effort to inform you of how our troop surge is doing, now that it has been implemented.  Yes, this is the troop surge which senate malaise leader harry reid and disparager of the house nancy pelosi-ricardo declared a "failure", BEFORE it was implemented.

It is straight off the Reuters wire.  Please keep in mind that Reuters is, to say the least, not our greatest ally when it comes to the war in Iraq. 

Al Qaeda fight to death in Iraq bastion: U.S.

By Alister Bull 46 minutes ago

Thousands of U.S. soldiers on the offensive north of Baghdad are facing fierce resistance from hundreds of al Qaeda militants who are ready to fight to the death, an American general said on Friday.

The militants are making their stand in and around the Iraqi city of Baquba, 65 km (40 miles) north of Baghdad, where the U.S. military on Tuesday launched one of its biggest operations since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

"It is house to house, block to block, street to street, sewer to sewer," said Brigadier-General Mick Bednarek, commander of Operation Arrowhead Ripper in Iraq's Diyala province.

Not far from Baquba, U.S. attack helicopters killed 17 suspected al Qaeda gunmen on the outskirts of the town of Khalis early on Friday, the U.S. military said.

The military said those killed were armed and had been acting suspiciously around an Iraqi police patrol. That brings to 68 the number of militants killed so far in the operation.

U.S. officials accuse Sunni Islamist al Qaeda of using car bombings and other violence to try to tip Iraq into full-scale sectarian civil war. A suicide truck bomb blamed on al Qaeda killed 87 people outside a Shi'ite mosque in Baghdad on Tuesday.

Bednarek estimated several hundred al Qaeda militants were at Baquba and it would be a long and dangerous job for U.S. forces to flush them out.

"They will not go any further. They will fight to the death," Bednarek told Reuters and another news agency.

"There have been houses that were used by al Qaeda as safe houses ... their entire structures rigged with massive explosives."

Baquba is the capital of Diyala province. The region has long been an al Qaeda hotbed, but attacks against U.S. and Iraqi forces have soared here since a four-month-old U.S.-led security crackdown in Baghdad and operations elsewhere prompted many al Qaeda militants and other gunmen to seek sanctuary in Diyala.

The campaign is part of a broader offensive involving tens of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi soldiers pushing on with simultaneous operations in Baghdad, and to the south and west of the capital.

Tough fighting is expected over the next 45-60 days, U.S. military officials have said, sketching a rough timeline for the combined operations.

TORTURE HOUSE

Bednarek said U.S. forces were making some grisly discoveries as they scoured Baquba.

He said residents led soldiers to a house in the western part of the city that appeared to have been used to hold, torment and kill hostages. Soldiers destroyed it.

"When you walk into a room and you see blood trails, you see saws, you see drills, knives, in addition to weapons, that is not normal," Bednarek said.

U.S. military commanders have said the combined operations were taking advantage of the completion of a build-up of American forces in Iraq to 156,000 soldiers.

President George W. Bush has sent 28,000 extra troops mainly to Baghdad to help curb sectarian bloodshed and buy time for Shi'ite Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki to reach a political accommodation with disaffected minority Sunni Arabs, who are locked in a cycle of violence with majority Shi'ite Muslims.

U.S. casualties have been light so far, given the scope of the offensive in Diyala, with one soldier killed, although in Baghdad roadside bombs are exacting a heavy toll.

Bednarek said the fight against al Qaeda in Diyala also involved local Sunni Arabs who opposed the United States but who wanted to end al Qaeda domination of their communities.

He said this included fighters from the 1920 Revolution Brigade, a large Sunni Arab insurgent group that has fallen out with al Qaeda over its indiscriminate killing of civilians.

His forces were only providing logistical support, he said.

American military commanders have increasingly begun arming and equipping Sunni Arab tribes to fight al Qaeda under a model first used in volatile western Anbar province. .

This is another consequence of our troop surge.  A very good, very positive consequence. 

It also speaks to the fact that al qaeda are in Iraq and that they are part of the global terrorism which john edwards and other Democratic candidates have told you is nothing more than a "bumper sticker".

Is it just me, or has this bunch become very quiet as the surge enables us to do things we were previously unable to do, and put the global terrorists and other murdering scum in Iraq on the run?

Don't worry, though.  In any war there are bound to be bad days.  And when there are, I guarantee you'll hear from reid, pelosi-ricardo and the candidate crew.

 


GUEST EDITORIAL: INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY

Ken Berwitz

I have blogged this week about the dramatically low poll ratings for the Democratic congress, poll ratings which much of the mainstream media have been kind enough to bury so that the sheepl...er, voters won't ever see how bad they are and how much higher President Bush is by comparison

Ok, that's expected.  It is de rigeuer for USA mainstream media and no surprise at all.  Happily, though, some media are not willing to play lets-pretend and deny their readers such information. 

With this in mind, here is today's editorial from Investor's Business Daily (IBD).  It provides a fascinating walk through some of the possible reasons that Democratic fortunes have fallen through a trap door so quickly: .

Voters Showing Buyer's Remorse

By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, June 21, 2007 4:30 PM PT

Congress: Like the victim of a slick used car salesman tricked into buying a lemon, Americans wish they could return the Democratic Congress their votes bought: Confidence in Congress has hit an all-time low of 14%.

Gallup just announced its annual survey of public confidence in an array of institutions in American life. Our brave men and women in uniform, naturally, were tops: Confidence in the military is at 69%. Small business, the chief jobs creator in our country, came in second at 59%.

Banks garnered only 41%; the Supreme Court, public schools and the medical system were all in the 30s in the confidence rankings.

President Bush got 25%, down from 33% last year. But TV news, newspapers, the criminal justice system, labor unions, big business, and HMOs all scored lower than our commander in chief.

At rock bottom of the 16 entities polled was the freshly elected, Democratic-controlled Congress. Its dismal 14% confidence rating is the lowest since Gallup began these annual surveys in 1973, and down significantly from the 19% the Republican Congress scored with the public in a "throw the bums out" mood last year.

It really should be no shock:

Corruption. The Democrats' leader in the Senate, Harry Reid, D-Nev., made $1.1 million in 2001 selling Las Vegas land he didn't own.

In a deal engineered by a former casino lawyer buddy of Reid's linked to bribery and organized crime investigations, Reid skirted Senate ethics rules by failing to report the complex real estate deal.

A 2002 sweetheart deal on 60 acres of Arizona desert involving a Las Vegas lubricants dealer could leave Reid with a cool profit ranging "from $50,000 to $290,000," according to the Los Angeles Times. Reid soon introduced legislation making it harder for oil firms to get out of contracts with lubricant dealers.

Then there is Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein of California, who may have bent a few rules by steering over a billion dollars' worth of defense contracts to companies controlled by her husband.

How about Rep. William Jefferson, D-La., just indicted on bribery charges after the FBI found $90,000 in cash in his freezer? Speaker Nancy Pelosi judged Jefferson unfit to sit on the House Ways and Means panel then placed him on the Homeland Security Committee instead. Think of the consequences of a terrorist finding someone willing to take a bribe for classified information.

Retreat. Senate Majority Leader Reid has never missed a chance to declare the Iraq War "lost." Speaker Pelosi has been trying to engineer a pullout for years even trying in vain to make cut-and-run king John Murtha her House majority leader.

Their latest push for surrender was to write to President Bush that "the escalation has failed to produce the intended results" even though the new surge strategy under Gen. David Petraeus has not yet been fully implemented.

Inability to govern. For all the lofty, left-leaning ideals Pelosi talked about during last year's campaign, the House of Representatives has reverted to the same old boys' network it was during the decades of its previous control by Democrats.

House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman John Dingell of Michigan first elected to his seat in 1955 recently let Pelosi know who's the boss, bucking her on fuel efficiency standards.

The Senate, meanwhile, unable to get much of anything past President Bush's veto, has degenerated into little more than a political attack machine. A meaningless "no confidence" resolution on Attorney General Alberto Gonzales more suited to European parliaments took precedence over things Democrats claim to care about, such as energy policy.

Reid and Pelosi have little to be cheery about. That is, unless Gallup adds some group to its survey trial lawyers? IRS auditors? repo men? that might rank lower in popularity than Congress. .

In honesty, I doubt that respondents polled by Gallup are this tuned in to the specific examples of corruption and dishonesty detailed by IBD.  But I am  reasonably certain that they have a strong general sense about Democrats' lofty criticisms of Republicans and pious promises to do better turning out to be a hot steamy load. 

Few things turn off voters more than being convinced to vote out one party, only to find out the other party is worse.  Maybe this explains the unprecedentedly low poll numbers for Democrats.

What do you think?


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