Tuesday, 26 June 2007


Ken Berwitz

If abortion is defined as terminating the unborn, the state of Palestine is the world's largest abortion. 

Here is a genuinely thought-provoking column by Bret Stephens of the Wall Street Journal, on why a state of Palestine - at least for now - is not going to happen.  I agree with most - not all - of what he says.  But I'm not going to carp about the few parts we are at odds over.  There is too much logic, common sense and truth here to pick at.  See if you agree:.

Who Killed Palestine?
A failure with a thousand fathers.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007 12:01 a.m.

Bill Clinton did it. Yasser Arafat did it. So did George W. Bush, Yitzhak Rabin, Hosni Mubarak, Ariel Sharon, Al-Jazeera and the BBC. The list of culprits in the whodunit called "Who Killed Palestine?" is neither short nor mutually exclusive. But since future historians are bound to ask the question, let's get a head start by suggesting some answers.

And make no mistake: No matter how much diplomatic, military and financial oxygen is pumped into Mahmoud Abbas's Palestinian Authority, it's oxygen flowing to a corpse. Palestine has always been a notional place, a field of dreams belonging only to those who know how to keep it. Israelis have held on to their state because they were able to develop the political, military and economic institutions that a state requires to survive, beginning with its monopoly on the use of legitimate force. In its nearly 14 years as an autonomous entity, the PA has succeeded in none of that, despite being on the receiving end of unprecedented international goodwill and largesse. 

Hamas's seizure of the Gaza Strip this month--and the consequent division of the PA into two hostile, geographically distinct camps--is only the latest in a chain of events set in motion when Israel agreed, in September 1993, to accept Arafat and the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. An early indicator of what lay ahead took place on July 1, 1994, when Arafat made his triumphal entry into Gaza while carrying, in the trunk of his Mercedes, four of the Palestinian cause's most violent partisans. Among them were the organizers of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre and the 1974 Ma'alot school massacre. If ever there was an apt metaphor for what Arafat's rule would bring, this was it.

Arafat was determined to use Gaza and the West Bank as a staging ground for attacks against Israel, and he said so publicly and repeatedly: "O Haifa, O Jerusalem, you are returning, you are returning" (1995); "We will make life unbearable for Jews by psychological warfare and population explosion" (1996); "With blood and spirit we will redeem you, Palestine" (1997). With equal determination, the Clinton administration and the Israeli governments of Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak treated Arafat's remarks as only so much rhetorical bluster. Mr. Clinton desperately wanted a Nobel Peace Prize; Israelis wanted out of the occupation business at almost any cost. These were respectable goals, but neither had as its primary aim the creation of a respectable Palestinian state.

Later, after the second intifada had erupted in all its suicidal frenzy, former U.S. negotiator Dennis Ross would admit the Clinton administration became too obsessed with process at the expense of substance. He should give himself more credit. The decision to legitimize Arafat was Israel's, not America's; once he was brought inside the proverbial tent he was bound to put a match to it. Still, the Clinton administration elevated Arafat like no other leader of the 1990s. If the rais came to flatter himself as a second Saladin, the flattery of White House banquets surely played a role.

The global media also did their bit in Arafat's elevation. Successive generations of Jerusalem bureau chiefs developed a conveniently even-handed narrative pitting moderates on both sides against extremists on both sides--a narrative in which Arafat was a "moderate" and Ariel Sharon was an "extremist." When Mr. Sharon took his famous walk on the Temple Mount in September 2000, it was easy to cast him as the villain and Palestinian rioters--and, later, suicide bombers--as the justifiably aggrieved. Cheering Palestinians on from the sidelines were the Arab media and the governments that own them, happy to channel domestic discontent toward a foreign drama.

As with individuals, nations generally benefit from self-criticism, and sometimes from the criticism of others. No people in modern history have been so immune from both as the Palestinians. In 1999, Abdel Sattar Kassem, a professor of political science in the Palestinian city of Nablus, put his name to the "petition of the 20," written to "stand against [Arafat's] tyranny and corruption." Arafat imprisoned him; the rest of the world barely took notice. Arafat's global popularity reached its apogee in the spring of 2002, exactly at the same time the civilian Israeli death toll from terrorism reached its height.

Yet what served Arafat's interests well served Palestinian interests poorly. Arafat learned from his experience with Mr. Clinton that one could bamboozle an American president and not pay a price. George W. Bush took a different view and effectively shut the Palestinians out of his agenda. Arafat learned from the "international community" that no one would look too closely at where its foreign aid was spent. But a reputation for theft has been the undoing of Fatah. Arafat thought he could harness the religious power of "martyrdom" to his political ends. But at the core of every suicide bombing is an act of self-destruction, and a nation that celebrates the former inevitably courts the latter.

Above all, Arafat equated territory with power. But what the experience of an unoccupied Gaza Strip has shown is the Palestinians' unfitness for political sovereignty. There are no Jewish settlers to blame for Gaza's plight anymore, no Israeli soldiers to be filmed demolishing Palestinian homes. The Israeli right, which came to detest Mr. Sharon for pulling out of the Strip, might reconsider its view of the man and the deed. Nothing has so completely soured the world on the idea of a Palestinian state as the experience of it.

What does this mean for the future? At yesterday's summit in Egypt, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Jordanian King Abdullah threw rose petals at Mr. Abbas's feet. But the potentates of the Middle East will not midwife into existence a state the chief political movement of which has claims to both democratic and Islamist legitimacy. The U.S. and Israel will never bless Hamastan (even if the EU and the U.N. come around to it) and they can only do so much for the feckless Mr. Abbas. "Palestine," as we know it today, will revert to what it was--shadowland between Israel and its neighbors--and Palestinians, as we know them today, will revert to who they were: Arabs.

Whether there might have been a better outcome is anyone's guess. But the dream that was Palestine is finally dead. .

Too bad, isn't it?  The single best thing that could have happened in this woeful part of the world would have been peaceful coexistence between palestinian Arabs and Israelis.  Both sides would have benefitted incalculably.  Both sides would have lived better and safer.  Both sides would have been more prosperous from mutual trade.  Both sides would have been safer because they would be protecting each other instead of being at war. 

But that was not to be and, at least as things are now, won't be any time soon.  Maybe never. 

Like the song says, "it takes two to tango".  Sadly, Israel is still waiting for a dance partner.


Ken Berwitz

From www.newsbusters.com, we have the following little tidbit:.

Bill Clinton: Hillary Wont Be 'Swift Boated'

Bill Clinton has sent out a mass e-mail to supporters seeking donations to Hillarys presidential campaign and vowing that she wont tolerate "swift boat tactics against her.

"I hope you enjoyed the Sopranos spoof Hillary and I did last week, the former president begins. "Campaigns should be fun, but they are also serious business especially now . . .

"Hillary can be a great president, but she needs your support to win. And she needs it now as we come down to the wire in the last critical days of this quarter.

Calling Hillary "the best candidate for president, Bill goes on to say: "Shes also the best candidate to beat the Republican machine. You know Hillary will never let a swift boat-style attack go unanswered.

The reference, of course, is to the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and their widely publicized criticism of 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry and his Vietnam War experiences, which Kerry supporters charged was politically motivated. Kerry was slow to respond to the groups allegations. .

I am always fascinated by the ongoing Democratic effort (with a great deal of media complicity as usual), to build the term "swiftboating" into a negative.  Personally, I don't see it at all:

-Wasn't it John Kerry, not the swiftboat veterans, who had to change his BS story about being in Cambodia on Christmas, 1968 -- and being sent there by NIXON, who wasn't even president at the time (Nixon took office on January 20, 1969)?

-Wasn't it John Kerry, not the swiftboat veterans, who had to change his BS story about his first purple heart being the result of enemy fire?

-Wasn't it John Kerry, not the swiftboat veterans, who has told so many different versions of throwing his, or someone else's, medals over a wall that I doubt even he can remember which of them is true, if any?

-Wasn't it John Kerry who was challenged by the swiftboat veterans to release his military records so that we could actually see who was lying and who was telling the truth, said he would do so countless times, but NEVER has released them all?  To this day there are over 100 pages, including the key information relevant to his discharge - which came during Carter's general amnesty years after he left the military -  that remain under lock and key. 

So, with all Kerry's whining and dodging, the reality is that it was the swiftboat veterans, not him, who came out with their heads held high.  THEY were the ones who caused Kerry to change HIS story, not the other way around.

Maybe Hillary Clinton could stand a good swiftboating herself.  I'd love to hear the truth about her $100,000 hit on cattle futures -- the one she claimed she accomplished alone, just by consulting the Wall Street Journal (which didn't publish cattle futures at the time!!).  Or how those whitewater billing records she didn't know a thing about miraculously appeared in the White House, in her living quarters.  Or what role she played in getting those two thugs to make off with over 900 FBI files on Republicans who were in a position to hurt the Clintons politically.  That would be nice.

Put another way, if hubby Bill is right and she'd "never let a swift boat-style attack go unanswered", we are definitely on the same page.


Ken Berwitz

This weekend Chris Benoit, a famous professional wrestler, died, along with his wife (also in the wrestling business) and their 7 year old son.  While there is nothing conclusive, reports are that he may have murdered his wife and child and then committed suicide.

Obviously this is an ugly tragedy.  But, while murder (assuming there was one) is unusual for professional wrestling, early death is all to commonplace. 

Let's start by defining what professional wrestling is.  It is a fake sport.  Not fixed, but fake.  To "fix" a sport requires legitimate competition, which you then compromise by, for example, convincing one side to intentionally lose.  Professional wrestling doesn't qualify because there is no legitimacy.  These are scripted events with predetermined outcomes, just like a stage play.

That said, however, professional wrestling very definitely is an ATHLETIC event.  Scripted though they are, the matches require extreme atheleticism and physical exertion, not to mention hard-hitting person-to-person contact of every imaginable variety. 

Add in the grueling schedules when there are often one or more matches per day, week after week, month after month, in city after city and it is pretty easy to see the need for superhuman physical capabilities.  Plus, to attain popularity within this "sport", wrestlers have to look superhuman in physical stature as well.

This, sad to say, is an obvious reason for wrestlers to take body-enhancing substances.  Lots of them, all the time.

What I am leading to is a horror story unequalled in any other sport, real OR scripted, which media very rarely talk about.  The astonishing number of early deaths among professional wrestlers.

How many professional wrestlers are there?  I can't say that I know.  But if you added the number of major professional wrestling organizations together I doubt that you could find more than, say, 500 or so in the country.  Even that is probably an exaggeratedly high number (keep in mind I'm not talking about local toughs who think they can wrestle or guys who try it a couple of times and then go back to the workaday world, I'm talking about the big time). 

Now, how many die unusually young - say, under 50 years of age?  Since 1985 an astounding 63 professional wrestlers under the age of 50 have died.

I grant you that some of these deaths were caused by tragic mishaps and other non-steroidal causes.  But a) most were not and b) in any event almost all of them were from wrestling-related activities, so it is still an indictment of the "sport".

My god that's a lot of young people dead.  And let's remember that the victims were all athletes, people who you would expect to be in BETTER than average physical condition, thus LESS likely to die young.

Suppose major league baseball had that many underage deaths over the past 20 years.  Do you think there would be an investigation?  Do you think someone would notice?  But not in the murky netherworld of professional wrestling. 

Ironically, the fakeness of the "sport" is probably what saves it.  Since no adult in his/her right mind takes professional wrestling matches seriously, the mortality rate of its practitioners somehow slides by unnoticed.

Which leads to my final point here.  Who DOES take professional wrestling seriously?  Do you have children, especially boys, between the ages of 8 and 15?  Do you know children of that age?  Do yourself a favor and ask them about professional wrestling.  You may be appalled to find out that, if it were a school subject, they'd probably be acing it.  This is the audience for these steroid-enhanced deathwishes....the people they leave the greatest impression on.

Ok, I've had my say.  I know this is unrelated to politics, but I thought it should be brought up at least this once.  People should think about things like this, if for no other reason because of the influence it may have on their children.

Now, back to the political wars.  No steroids necessary (but keep plenty of Rolaids handy).


UPDATE:  Now it seems that Chris Benoit - and his family - may have to be moved to the steroids column too.  Here is the AP dispatch:

FAYETTEVILLE, Ga. - Pro wrestler Chris Benoit strangled his wife, suffocated his 7-year-old son and placed a Bible next to their bodies before hanging himself with a weight-machine pulley, authorities said Tuesday.

Investigators found anabolic steroids in the house and want to know whether the muscle man nicknamed The Canadian Crippler was unhinged by the bodybuilding drugs, which can cause paranoia, depression and explosive outbursts known as roid rage.

Authorities offered no motive for the killings, which were spread out over a weekend, and would not discuss Benoits state of mind. No suicide note was found.


Ken Berwitz

Suppose you are a successful senior producer of one of your network's major shows - successful enough to be an emmy winner.

Suppose you are gay. 

Suppose you go to the Carribean and are beaten up there by people who hate you because you are gay.

Suppose you speak up about it, and find that you've been fired by your network, apparently because, by doing so, your gay lifestyle became public and was an embarrassment to them? 

What would you think about that network?   What would you think this tells the rest of the world about just how tolerant that network is?  Would you sue? 

Now, what if I told you this story is real, and the senior producer was at Fox.  What would you say about Fox?  What would other media say?  What would people like keith olbermann and chris mouthews say about Fox?  How would katie carwreck handle it on the CBS evening news?  What would CBS president Les Moonves say?  It would be hell on wheels.

But wait, there's one little change I have to make here. 

The network isn't Fox.  It is CBS

Yep, that's right, CBS.  And the emmy-winning senior producer, Richard Jefferson, was with CBS Evening News.  katie carwreck's CBS Evening News.  Les Moonves' CBS Evening News.  Here is the relevant story excerpt from UPI: .

Beaten with a tire wrench in a gay-bashing incident on the resort island last April, the Emmy Award-winning senior producer for the "CBS Evening News" said the network further increased his suffering by allegedly asking him inappropriate questions and firing him for talking about the experience.  .

I bet the fact that Mr. Jefferson was with CBS instead of Fox changes things plenty, don't you?. 

No one is about to call CBS a bunch of neanderthal rightwing homophobics.  katie carwreck is safe to continue losing viewers for another day.  Les Moonves can still eat at the best restaurants Manhattan has to offer.  No opprobrium, no condemnation, no nothing.

Evidently, if you're CBS you can turn your back on a valued emmy-winning senior producer, because he had the nerve to say something after being beaten with a tire wrench for the "crime" of his sexual preference.  I again wonder what CBS, NBC, MSNBC, etc. would have said about this if Mr. Jefferson was a senior producer for Fox.

Maybe this is another place they could apply The Fairness Doctrine....


Ken Berwitz

I've blogged several times over the past month or two about "the fairness doctrine".  The most complete description can be found on my May 6 blog, and I urge you to scroll back and read all about it if you care to.

As currently envisioned by a salivating Democratic party, "The Fairness Doctrine" is legislation intended to force radio stations, to take on as much libera....oops, "progressive", that's what they like to call themselves these days,  programming as conservative.

Of course there is absolutely nothing preventing liberal/progressive talk radio from flourishing, other than the fact that no one wants to listen to it.  It HAS been tried - most significantly and most money-losingly, by Air America, which fell flat on its face for lack of interest.

However, free market choices don't seem very appealing to some folks in this country, especially when the free market rejects what they're selling.  So here's the latest on the "force 'em to listen to what WE want" front:

Feinstein might push for fairness doctrine

WASHINGTON, June 24 (UPI) -- U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., said Sunday she is "looking at" the possibility of reviving the fairness doctrine for U.S. broadcasters.

Feinstein, speaking on "Fox News Sunday" with Sen. Trent Lott, R-Miss., said talk radio in particular has presented a one-sided view of immigration reform legislation being considered by the Senate.

U.S. talk radio is dominated by conservative voices.

"This is a very complicated bill," said Feinstein. "Most people don't know what's in this bill. Therefore, to just have one or two things dramatized and taken out of context, such as the word amnesty -- we have a silent amnesty right now, but nobody goes into that. Nobody goes into the flaws of our broken system."

Feinstein said the measure before the Senate "fixes those flaws" but that doesn't get presented on talk radio, which she said "pushes people to ... extreme views without a lot of information."

Asked if she would revive the fairness doctrine, which used to require broadcasters to present competing sides of controversial issues, Feinstein said she was "looking at it."

"I remember when there was a fairness doctrine," she said, "and I think there was much more serious correct reporting to people." .

I think it's lovely that media are talking about Ms. Feinstein's concern over the scary prospect that (gasp) you might be exposed to ideas she disagrees with. 

Parenthetically, I wish those same media were even fractionally interested in reporting that Feinstein had to relinquish her seat on the Military Construction subcommittee after she scandalously tossed something like a billion dollars in contracts to HER HUSBAND - therefore herself - while on it (isn't that the same kind of favoritism they put Randy "Duke" Cunningham is in jail for?) 

But evidently Ms. Feinstein's actions don't fall under the rubric of "fairness".  Force-feeding you an agenda you have rejected, however, does; that's "fair".

The funny part is that if these frauds ever get the "fairness doctrine" into gear, I would bet body parts that conservatives will immediately use it to try to force OTHER media - like TV and newspapers - to be as assiduous in presenting a rightwing side as radio would have to be on the left.  I wonder how the Feinsteins of the world would feel about that.

What goes around comes around.  Now there's a clich that just might get fresh again, in a hurry.



Ken Berwitz

As regular readers know, I periodically put up ratings of the prime time cable news shows, so we can see how they are doing, whether there is any movement in viewer preferences, etc.

Here are the very latest ratings, from yesterday:.

JUNE 25, 2007 [VIEWERS]

FNC GRETA 1,738,000
FNC SHEP SMITH 1,580,000
FNC BRIT HUME 1,298,000
CNN LARRY KING 1,100,000
FNC CAVUTO 1,023,000
CNN DOBBS 764,000
CNN COOPER 755,000
CNN ZAHN 683,000

So what do we have here?

First of all, with the exception of a slight little sneak-in for Larry King (CNN) over Neil Cavuto, every Fox show is ahead of every non-Fox show.  That is, the lowest rated Fox show is higher than the highest rated show of any other cable news network.  Wow.

Next, looking at the individual shows, we see Bill O'Reilly dominating everyone at 2,748,000 viewers.  Compare that viewership to his head to head competition, keith olbermann, at 624,000, and olbermann becomes laughably pathetic. 

Four years of olbermann's one-side-only nightly hissy fit, complete with vicious ongoing personal attacks against Fox personalities O'Reilly, Sean Hannity etc., and this is what he's gotten for it.  olbermann is so far behind he's lucky to see THEIR behinds. 

Then there is chris mouthews, whose 397,000 viewer level is so low it makes olbermann look like a star.

I'll do this again at some point in the future.  We'll see if there is any change then. But right now, Fox runs roughshod over the competition. 

Maybe Diane Feinstein can modify The Fairness Doctrine so that O'Reilly has to put olbermann on for half of his show................yeah, that's the ticket.


Ken Berwitz

I found this story on MSNBC's website.  I think of it as a test by God to see how many bad jokes I can resist by posting it:

PETA blasts Michael Moore for eating meat

Animal-rights group says filmmaker is the true Sicko

By Jeannette Walls
Updated: 3:11 a.m. ET June 26, 2007

PETA has a message for Michael Moore: Youre the Sicko.

The animal-rights group is blasting the filmmaker as a hypocrite for criticizing the U.S. healthcare system in his new documentary, Sicko, because they say hes in such poor health himself.

Theres an elephant in the room, and it is you, PETA president Ingrid Newkirk wrote in a letter to Moore.

Newkirk urged the rotund Moore to become a vegetarian, which many nutritionists say is a good way to lose weight, and visit PETAs Web site GoVeg.com for veggie recipes.
Sit back, take a few minutes and come up with your best reaction to this food-fight.  I'm sure you can feast on the possibilities.  There's plenty of meat to work with. 

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