Saturday, 05 January 2008


Ken Berwitz

Do you remember Graeme Frost? 

Frost is the 12 year old child the Democratic party used on their weekly radio broadcast in mid-October to read a script about how he was terribly hurt, needed the money from SCHIP  (State Children's Health Insurance Program) and how could that mean, hateful President Bush-scrooge want to deny it to him and bring catastrophe to his health and his family's finances, etc. etc. etc.

Well, it turned out that his family had about as much reason to get SCHIP money as I have to get a space suit and demand to be on the next lunar probe. 

I wrote several blogs that thoroughly debunked his family's claim to SCHIP money and skewered the media phonies who said otherwise.  You can find them at:

I thought this fraud had, mercifully, been put to rest.  But now one of the hopeless members of the Lunatic-left And Mega-Moonbat Brigade (LAMBs) at New Republic, Christopher Hayes, has resurrected it to attack the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth (a group that still has yet to be disproven on any claim they made about John Kerry).

Here is Hayes' commentary:

Return of the Swift Boaters

Christopher HayesWed Jan 2, 3:27 PM ET

The Nation -- More than three years after John Kerry's bitter defeat, at the dawn of what looks like a far more promising campaign cycle for the Democrats, the party is still haunted by the specter of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth. Once upon a time, "Swift boat" denoted an obscure military vessel, but thanks to the activities of this group it has come to represent movement conservatism's penchant for ruthlessly (and effectively) smearing any and all political opponents, from a sitting senator and war hero to an 11-year-old boy with a cranial fracture.

Research by The Nation into Federal Election Commission records of the group's top twenty donors reveals that they've been remarkably active in this cycle, contributing and bundling nearly $200,000 to presidential candidates. This does not bode well. During the last presidential campaign, the wealthy backers of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth--now rebranded as Swift Vets and POWs for Truth--didn't do their real dirty work until the general election, where as a tax-exempt 527 group they operated outside the restraints of direct campaign contributions. We may wish we were done with the Swift Boaters, but they aren't done with us.

In 2004 the top twenty donors all gave (with one exception) at least $50,000 to the group. The top three--Houston home builder Bob Perry, Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens and billionaire drugstore impresario and investor Harold Simmons--gave a combined $9.5 million ($4.45 million, $3 million and $2 million, respectively). Calculating the influence of these and the slightly less wealthy Swift Boat donors during this cycle is a touch more complicated than simply adding up their contributions. Each one exerts far more influence as a bundler, given the federal restrictions on individual giving, which limit donors to a maximum of $4,600 per cycle. So The Nation looked not only at the contributions of the donors themselves but also at those of their family members and employees. It's an imperfect method, since some employees are clearly contributing of their own volition (such as one employee of a Simmons company who gave money to Hillary Clinton), but it gives a rough estimate of who's backing whom and to what extent.

The most notable recipient of Swift Boat largesse is John McCain, erstwhile front-runner and Stand Up Guy. When the Swift Boat ads were first unleashed, McCain was alone among his Republican colleagues to condemn them. A fellow Vietnam veteran, a good friend of Kerry's and a former target of smears about his own service, McCain called the ads "dishonest and dishonorable," a "cheap stunt," and he urged Bush to condemn them. But in pursuit of the GOP nomination, McCain ditched the mantle of maverick for that of hack, and his once-floundering, possibly rejuvenated campaign has been aided along the way by $61,650 from Swift Boat donors and their associates. "There is such a thing as dirty money," said Senator Kerry in a statement, after The Nation informed him of McCain's FEC records. "I'm surprised that the John McCain I knew who was smeared in 2000 and thought so-called Swift Boating was wrong in 2004 would feel comfortable taking their money after seeing the way it was used to hurt the veterans I know he loves." (McCain's office did not return calls for comment.)

McCain's Swift Boat bounty is exceeded only by that of Mitt Romney, who has raked in $70,550. Romney's success with Swift Boat donors is significant because he has surpassed even McCain in his demonstrated willingness to do or say anything in pursuit of the presidency and because he has emerged as the GOP establishment's favored candidate. Last year, when McCain held that position, the Arizona senator received significant backing from Swift Boat donors. But many have subsequently switched their allegiance. Pickens, who donated to McCain in June 2006, is now an enthusiastic Giuliani donor and fundraiser (Giuliani ranks third in Swift Boat funding, with $47,950). Perry, who also recorded several donations to McCain's PAC in 2005 and 2006, is now a major donor and fundraiser for Romney. If the list of top Swift Boat donors is expanded to fifty, Romney's fundraising edge is even more pronounced. (Neither Romney nor Giuliani's campaign returned calls for comment.)

Also noticeable among the recipients of Swift Boat largesse is one who received only a single donation: Mike Huckabee. Despite meager fundraising and little national name recognition, the former Arkansas governor has experienced a bubble-like expansion of support and media attention, taking the lead in Iowa and approaching a steady lead in national polls. But the lack of Swift Boat contributions lends credence to the claim that Huckabee is viewed warily by the money men who call the shots in the modern GOP. Despite proposing a radically regressive tax change and taking Grover Norquist's antitax pledge, he's been attacked savagely by the Club for Growth and eviscerated by columnist George Will for "comprehensive apostasy against core Republican beliefs," among them "free trade, low taxes, the essential legitimacy of America's corporate entities and the market system allocating wealth and opportunity."

This all supports the notion that the people behind the Swift Boat operation are chiefly concerned with the continued upward redistribution of wealth that is, more or less, the contemporary GOP's raison d'tre. In 2006 Perry ponied up $5 million to start the Economic Freedom Fund, a 527 group devoted to attacking Democratic incumbents, and landed a large donation from prominent Swift Boat donor Carl Lindner. All of which is to say that the Swift Boaters aren't some kind of side show, a coterie of vicious mudslingers operating at the edges of respectability. They are the show. They are modern conservatism's core funders and beneficiaries. With conservatives staring straight into the abyss, their activities in this election cycle could very well make the Swift Boat smears look tame by comparison.

I think what bothers me most about Hayes' BS is that it has been written as if there were no doubt or controversy whatsoever regarding the so-called lies of the Swiftboat Veterans for Truth or the legitimacy of Graeme Frost's claim to SCHIP money.

It bothers me because when someone like Hayes writes this way there are gullible people out there who might assume that everyone is in agreement with him.  They aren't...and with damn good reason.

But, sadly, this is what the New Republic is and this is what it does.  It has devolved into a joke posing as a magazine.

File the Hayes story with the Scott Beauchamp reports from Iraq, folks.  Under BS.  They belong together.


Ken Berwitz

Both before the Iowa caucuses, and in the post-caucus analyses, numerous commentators have assured me that Rudy Giuliani's chances have dropped to nearly zero....that he desperately needs a win in Florida to resurrect even a slight hope of gaining the Republican presidential nomination.

This is based, I assume, on two assumptions:

-The winner inIowa (Huckabee) and the winner in New Hampshire (three candidates are in the hunt, but not Giuliani) will gain so much momentum that he/they will leave the others in the dust;

-Republicans in upcoming primary states will turn away from Mr. Giuliani.

The first assumption has merit, but is not at all conclusive.  Illustratively, Bill Clinton lost both Iowa and New Hampshire in 1992.  Obviously that wasn't very decisive for him.  Why should it be for Rudy Giuliani.

The second assumption has me scratching my head.

Since the basis for making before-the-fact assumptions about those upcoming states is almost always political polls, I decided to take a look at what those polls say.  This led me straight to, a web site which compiles them.

Here are the average results from the latest poll in each upcoming state:

Michigan (January 15):  Romney 20%, Huckabee: 19% Giuliani and McCain 13%

Nevada (January 19):  Giuliani 24%, Romney 24%, Huckabee 15%

South Carolina (January 19):  Huckabee 25%, Romney 19%, Thompson 14%, McCain and Giuliani 13%

Florida (January 29):  Giuliani 25%, Huckabee 23%, Romney 19%, McCain 11%/

California (February 5):  Giuliani 26%, Huckabee 16%, Romney 15%, McCain 12%

Pennsylvania (February 5):  Giuliani 27%, McCain 13%, Huckabee 13%, Romney and Thompson 6%

New Jersey (February 5):  Giuliani 48%, McCain 10%, Romney and Thompson 7%.

Let me assure you that, as always, I have great skepticism about political polls.  Additionally, while these are the latest ones out according to, some are weeks old and may have changed considerably.

But if the polls are being looked at by media, it is ludicrous to believe that Rudy Giuliani is out of this race or anywhere near it.  Look at them yourself, and see.  Giuliani, in net, does better than any other candidate.

So if you are a Rudy Giuliani fan (like me), do yourself a favor and don't pay a lot of attention to the campaign analyses.  Believe what you think and what you see, not what they tell you. 

Remember, their job is to create controversy so they can sell newspapers and increase TV and radio ratings.  All you have to do is know what you know.



Ken Berwitz

This morning's New York Times has a feature article today - first page - about Senator Barack Obama.  It speaks to the fact that Mr. Obama is Black (yes, he is just half-Black, but this country sees that as Black anyway). Although it's message is clearly well-intentioned, it is about the last thing on earth Senator Obama needs. 

Let me show you the first part of the article and then explain why I say this (you can read the entire article at

Blacks savor Obama's Iowa victory

African-Americans see signal moment in race relations after Iowa result
By Diane Cardwell
The New York Times
updated 4:12 a.m. ET, Sat., Jan. 5, 2008

For Sadou Brown in a Los Angeles suburb, the decisive victory of Senator Barack Obama in Iowa was a moment to show his 14-year-old son what is possible.

For Mike Duncan in Maryland, it was a sign that Americans were moving beyond rigid thinking about race.

For Milton Washington in Harlem, it looked like the beginning of something he never thought that he would see. It was like, Oh, my God, were on the cusp of something big about to happen, Mr. Washington said.

How Mr. Obamas early triumph will play out in the presidential contest remains to be seen, and his support among blacks is hardly monolithic.

But in dozens of interviews on Friday from suburbs of Houston to towns outside Chicago and rural byways near Birmingham, Ala., African-Americans voiced pride and amazement over his victory on Thursday and the message it sent, even if they were not planning to vote for him or were skeptical that he could win in November.

My goodness, has it ever happened before, a black man, in our life, in our country? asked Edith Lambert, 60, a graduate student in theology who was having lunch at the Faneuil Hall Marketplace in Boston.

It makes me feel proud that at a time when so many things are going wrong in the world that people can rise above past errors, added Ms. Lambert, who said she had not decided whom to vote for. It shows that people arent thinking small. Theyre thinking large, outside the box.

Other black presidential candidates, like Shirley A. Chisholm and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, have excited voters in the past. Mr. Jackson won primaries in 1984 and 1988.

Over and over, blacks said Mr. Obamas achievement in Iowa, an overwhelmingly white state, made him seem a viable crossover candidate, a fresh face with the first real shot at capturing a major party nomination.

People across America, even in Iowa of all places, can look across the color line and see the person, said Mr. Brown, 35, who was working at the reception desk at DKs Hair Design near Ladera Heights, a wealthy Los Angeles suburb.

Describing himself as a huge, huge supporter, of Mr. Obama, Mr. Brown added: So many times, our young people only have sports stars or musicians to look up to. But now, when we tell them to go to school, to aim high in life, they have a face to put with the ambition.

Mildred Kerr, 68, a Republican who took her granddaughter to the salon for a trim and added that she did not plan to vote for Mr. Obama, said she was nonetheless happy that he had won, because he can now have the encouragement to go on and pursue a victory.

George F. Knox, 64, a lawyer and civic leader in Miami who supports Mr. Obamas candidacy, made a similar point.

The notion is mind-boggling, Mr. Knox said. When a virtual mandate to continue comes out of a place like Iowa, with only a 2 percent black population, its very important.

Several blacks said Mr. Obamas victory with a campaign not based on race could herald the emergence of a new political calculus.

I think hes already made a significant change in the mindset of people, said Mike Duncan, 55, an Amtrak manager in Abingdon, Md. Across the board, Im glad to see that whites and blacks are beginning to understand that blacks can represent them and also be successful at it.

Shannon Brown, 17, a high school senior on the South Side of Chicago, said she was thrilled that she would be eligible to vote by Election Day.

Ive actually seen him around the neighborhood and had conversations with him, Ms. Brown said, calling Mr. Obamas candidacy history in the making and a wonderful experience for us as a people.

She added, Its something I will be able to tell my kids when I grow up, that I voted for the first black president.

Several supporters of Mr. Obama said they liked him for reasons other than race, including what they saw as his interest in stemming injustice and his projection of sincerity.

I identify just because everything they ask, he is straightforward, said Charlette Fleming, 26, an insurance agent who was buying lunch at a mall in The Woodlands, a suburb 30 miles north of Houston. They put him on the spot because he did marijuana. Ive never done drugs before. But he was: O.K., I did it. Im not going to deny that I did it. Hes not trying to hide anything hes done. Hes out in the open..

It is going to be extremely hard for Senator Obama to win a presidential election.  Some of the reasons are unrelated to race - key among them that he has absolutely no qualifications to be President (outside of state politics, Obama has completed just one half of one term in the US senate with no legislative accomplishments).

Another reason Obama will have trouble winning is that his voting record during these 3 years in the Senate has been almost exclusively hard-left.  This may work wonders in the world of Democratic primaries, where has so much influence, but will severely damage him in a general election - even among a significant percentage of voters in his own party (the so-called Reagan Democrats) who will be repulsed by his positions. 

But let's be honest here:  The single biggest impediment to Barack Obama becoming President - among Democratic as well as Republican voters - is that he is a Black man.  I refuse to be politically correct and pretend it isn't the major factor because I know it is and you know it as well as I do. 

So what does the New York Times do?  They put out an article immediately after Senator Obama's victory in Iowa, that classifies him as what?  Not as a man, not as a US Senator, not as a generic candidate, but as a BLACK man who BLACK people are rooting for because he is BLACK.

Mr. Obama himself does not engage in this kind of politics -- at least not that I've seen.  Good for him.  Besides, his race is no surprise to anyone who sees him, so why should he? 

From a political perspective, I don't see how Mr. Obama's being Black can help him in a Presidential campaign:

-It can't bring him Black votes, because almost all Black votes would have gone to a White Democrat anyway. 

-It can bring him more Black votes,  if Black voters come out in greater numbers for him based on race. 

-But it can also bring out more White voters voting against him for the same reason, race.  And there are seven times as many Whites in the USA as there are Blacks. 

Personally, I do not agree with Senator Obama politically.  I do not think he has any qualifications to be President and, unless Republicans put up someone who I would reject under any circumstances (Mike Huckabee comes to mind) he would not get my vote. 

But I guarantee that, whether or not I vote for Mr. Obama, his racial ancestry is not going to be the criterion upon which that vote is cast.

It would be nice if the New York Times felt the same way.  It would be nice if the Times was a little less invested in racial cheerleading.


Ken Berwitz

For years, when the war in Iraq could be called a mistake/failure/quagmire/Vietnamrevisited/disaster/ad infinitum/ad nauseam, it was the front page news in mainstream media.

During that time the economy was major news too.  And both subjects received ongoing page 1 and lead story coverage. 

Fair enough.

But now the war in Iraq is, by almost all accounts except for the Lunatic-left And Mega-moonbat Brigade (LAMBs), going quite well.  Casualties are way down among US servicepeople and Iraqis, people who fled Iraq are streaming back, places that were once hotbeds of al qaeda activity (Fallujah is a great example) are suddenly becoming places to live again, etc.

So what does this do to the political dialogue?  

Here's the Reuters take.  See what you think about it:

War? What war? Economy trumps Iraq in election

Sat Jan 5, 2008 10:09am EST

By Jeff Mason

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Iraq war, once the key issue in the U.S. presidential election, is taking a back seat to the economy as voters fret over a possible recession and consider the improving security situation in Baghdad.

Polls in Iowa, the state that kicked off the process for choosing a president on Thursday, showed people pushing the war lower on their list of concerns after the surge in U.S. troops helped calm conditions in the country and a deteriorating economic situation at home drew focus to domestic woes.

"The entrance polls in Iowa certainly suggested that Iraq has receded ... as the central issue in the campaign, partly because the 'surge' is working and fatalities are down, and partly because the economy is getting worse," said David Gergen, a former adviser to Republican and Democratic presidents.

"The latest numbers on jobs that came out (on Friday) ... are being interpreted by investors as yet another sign we may be heading toward a recession," he told Reuters.

But political analysts said who benefits most could be a toss-up, with out-of-power Democrats possibly helped by a poor economy, and Republicans may be given a boost from improvements in Iraq.

Barack Obama, an Illinois senator who would be the first black U.S. president, won the Democratic contest in Iowa. Mike Huckabee, former Arkansas governor and an ordained Baptist minister, garnered the most support from Republican voters. Both upset the front-runners in their parties.

Those victories came a night before a report revealed the weakest U.S. jobs growth since August 2003, putting the economy center stage in the campaign.

Voters across the country have indicated a shift in their concerns and what they believe presidential candidates can do about them.

"The Iraq war made me sick, but that's beyond my capacity. The economy I can do something about," said Zewge Tegegnework, 70, an independent voter in Cincinnati who leans toward voting Democratic.

"I'm worried about the economy slowing down, people losing Social Security," he said.


Worsening economic conditions are not the only factor that has drawn attention away from the war. The decline in deaths among U.S. troops led to less media coverage of the Iraq issue, shifting the debate to issues such as health care, the subprime housing crisis and immigration.

"At this moment in time, the daily accounts (of the war) have subsided, the daily concern over 'Is the situation getting worse?' has eased off, and people are beginning to think about things closer to home," said Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism at the Pew Research Center, which tracks media coverage of the war.

So what does that mean for candidates?

"It means that domestic issues, from what we can tell today, are likely to play a relatively greater role in determining votes," said Whit Ayres, a Republican pollster who argued Iraq's diminishing role in the election would be positive for Republican candidates.

"Anything that drives Iraq down the agenda helps Republicans because a majority of Americans think it was a mistake to have gone into Iraq in the first place, and there's very little that Republicans can say at this point to persuade people otherwise," he said.

Gergen said the focus on the economy would help Democrats by taking away the Republicans' claim to strong economic stewardship under President George W. Bush.

Whether the economy slumps or not, Iraq is not going away. Obama generates thunderous applause when he tells audiences he aims to bring troops home within 16 months if he wins the White House.

Once the nominees are chosen, the Iraq issue is likely to return to the forefront, analysts said.

"The conversation will change once we have nominees and the issues then sharpen up," Gergen said. "It's (Iraq) going to be a very sharp issue of division between the two parties.".

The first thing that should be noted here is the Reuters spin.  They have quoted four people:  David Gergen who spent his last years in political service working for the Clinton Administration, Zewge Tegegnework, a Democratic-leaning voter whose name suggests that his parents had some kind of vendetta against him, Tom Rosenstiel of the Pew Research Center which many people consider a Democratic resource, and one Republican, Whit Ayres, who agrees with hard-left Democrats that the war is a hopeless negative for his party.

That's some diverse bunch, that is.

Me, I don't know that I agree with this "across the board" consensus.  I tend to think that if the war in Iraq is going well, which is to say we have low casualties, more Iraqi responsibility for their own security (which means fewer troops, let's remember) and a solidifying Democracy in the heart of Muslim territory, voters will react well to it.

Barack Obama supporters will, I am sure, continue to give him "thunderous applause" with his promise of bringing home the troops.  If he wins, and the situation warrants it, I hope he does too.  But how does a Democratic audience listening to a hard-left Democrat qualify as a definer of the mood of the country?

Well, what else can I say?  The sun rose in the east again this morning, it till gets wet when it rains, fire is still hot and media still spin in one direction.

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.

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