Tuesday, 08 January 2008


Ken Berwitz

I just picked this up from www.mediabistro.com.  See if you can detect the bias, but you'll have to read very closely since it is highly nuanced:

NBC's Brian Williams took to MSNBC today at noon and had this to say:

    WILLIAMS: I interviewed Lee Cowan, our reporter who covers Obama, while we were out yesterday and posted the interview on the web. Lee says it's hard to stay objective covering this guy. Courageous for Lee to say, to be honest. The e-mail flood started out we caught you guys, we never did trust you. That kind of thing. I think it is a very interesting dynamic. I saw middle-aged women just throw their arms around Barack Obama, kiss him hard on the cheek and say, you know, I'm with you, good luck. And i think he feels it, too.

I think my favorite part is where Williams tells us how courageous Lee Cowan is to tell the world that he is overtly biased. 

That's not a show of courage, Brian.  It is a show of gross non-professionalism.  Cowan should be severely admonished and immediately taken off of Obama coverage, for the same reason a judge should recuse himself if he/she is rooting for the defendant in a case.

But, then again, we're talking about NBC here.  So maybe this is their middle of the road position.



Ken Berwitz

So help me, this is a verbatim quote from Bill Clinton, while speaking at Dartmouth College, New Hampshire on behalf of his wife (reference:  http://blog.washingtonpost.com/the-trail/2008/01/07/dartmouth_students_walk_out_on.html):

"I actually tried to talk Hillary into leaving me when we were in law school, that's the God's truth. I told her, 'You have more talent for public service than anybody in my generation that I have met... I shouldn't stand in your way.' She looked at me and said, 'Oh, Bill, I'll never run for office.".

Incredible.  Double and Triple incredible.

First Clinton tries to convince a room full of ivy league students that he was so altruistic towards his sainted wife that he told her to leave him, so she could give her gifts to humanity.  That he was prepared to give her up because their relationship might hold her back. 

I'll bet there wasn't a dry eye in the auditorium. 

The last time I came across that much intentional schmaltz, I was taking a guided tour of a chicken-rendering facility. 

And that's before we hit the believability issue:  i.e. we are supposed to believe that, about 35 years after the fact, Hubby Bill suddenly lets us in on how he tried to leave Hillary on behalf of you, the people. 

If you buy this, I'd like you to know that I'm having a sale on Hebrew National pork rinds.

Finally, look at the last line.  On the eve of what may well be a make-or-break primary, Hubby Bill tells an audience loaded with students and press that, by running, Hillary has gone back on her word.

I have talked a great deal in this blog about how Bill Clinton, for all his greatness as a politician, rarely helps anyone but himself.  Maybe this performance gives us some insight into why.


Ken Berwitz

Our immigration policy is a mess.  We do not secure our borders, do not enforce our existing laws and, because of this, bring the overwhelming problems this creates upon ourselves.

Further, we have allowed local and state governments so much latitude to break the law (any "sanctuary city" is an example) that we are on the cusp of forgoing our national sovereignty altogether.

In Europe, they've been there and done that too.  The result?  Read this Associated Press dispatch for a glimpse into how they think it has worked out:

Sarkozy: Italy, Spain seek to join forces with France on expelling illegal immigrants

2008-01-08 13:49:45 -

PARIS (AP) - The prime ministers of Italy and Spain want to join up with France in a joint policy of expelling illegal immigrants from their countries, the French president said Tuesday.
Nicolas Sarkozy noted comments made by Romano Prodi of Italy and Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, saying they announced over the last month that their nations would no longer grant illegal immigrants residence papers en masse.
You know what they both asked me? That France, Italy and Spain proceed toward collective expulsions, Sarkozy said at a broad-ranging news conference at the presidential palace. He did not elaborate.
Sarkozy, both as president and in his previous job as interior minister, has given France a tougher tack against illegal immigration _ mostly from Africa _ than its two EU neighbors.
I see my ideas are making progress, said Sarkozy, who has instructed police to aggressively expel people deemed by courts to be staying illegally in France.
By not strictly adhering to court-ordered expulsions in the past, Sarkozy said France encouraged criminal human-trafficking groups that exploit human misery to ship people there.
The EU's fight against illegal immigration centers on the Mediterranean region, where thousands of poor Africans make a hazardous sea journey to the coasts of Spain, Italy, Malta and Greece.
Sarkozy has long criticized a policy in other EU countries of granting illegals residence papers in large numbers, saying it acts as an encouragement to those seeking to reach the European continent.
Immigration was a major topic when Zapatero and Prodi met last month in Italy. Prodi has said that the issue should be taken up by the entire 27-nation EU and not just be seen as the problem of southern countries in the bloc. Zapatero has called for more resources for the EU border agency, Frontex..

As you can see, France, Italy and Spain (as well as a good many other European countries, I suspect) have had their fill of this scourge - even the socialist Zapatero.  And that is before we even start to discuss the huge Muslim populations which have migrated to Europe, most of them unwilling to assimilate, and have become a threat to the countries' cultures.  Somehow the AP forgot to mention this part of things.

Before continuing, I want to point out in the strongest terms that this is not at all a xenophobic position. No one is denying LEGAL immigration.  The effort is to prevent illegals from coming into these countries at will.  Their intent is to return to being sovereign countries that are in control of their own borders, thus their own populations.

Is this what we should be doing?  You're damn right it is.  So how do we do it? 

The first thing we do is SECURE OUR BORDERS.  What we do with the millions of illegals already here may be a complex, nuanced issue, but reinstituting control over our borders is not. 

One possibility is to create a new armed force, entirely domestic, whose sole purpose is border enforcement.  Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, National Guard and Border Guard.  That sounds logical to me.

Then there is the issue of sanctuary cities.  That, too, is a simple issue if the will is there.  Instruct the cities in question to enforce the federal laws of this country or be denied federal funds. 

Take San Francisco, for example.  If the city refuses to enforce the federal laws governing immigration, if it gives illegal aliens sanctuary and affords them rights and privileges reserved for citizens and legal non-citizens, all federal funds should be cut off.  Then, if/when the city begins to enforce federal laws - i.e. acts like it isn't its own sovereign nation, which it isn't - the funds could be reinstated. 

Now that was easy, wasn't it?

There is a lot more we can and must do.  But those are the basics - close the borders and enforce the laws.  Otherwise it is pointless to address any other part of this issue.


Ken Berwitz

This is not an accusation, it is an observation.  Make of it what you will.

Roger Clemens is one of the most successful major league pitchers in history.  He stands accused of taking sterioids and HGH (human growth hormones) by his former training coach Brian McNamee.  McNamee claims to have injected him with such drugs at least 16 different times.

George Mitchell is a former Senate Majority leader who was appointed to investigate drug use in baseball.  McNamee spilled his guts about the drug use he was involved in as part of a plea deal with the government.  He got immunity in return for waiving his 5th amendment rights and having to tell nothing but the truth.  And among the many players McNamee implicated was Roger Clemens.

Roger Clemens has filed suit against Brian McNamee, calling his testimony lies.  McNamee is threatening a countersuit, claiming that his testimony is the truth.  Those are pretty clear battle lines and there is an obvious problem between the two.

Last week, under circumstances that I consider a bit murky, McNamee and Clemens spoke on the phone.  The conversation lasted 17 minutes.  Clemens taped it (in Texas you are legally able to tape a conversation between yourself and someone else without the other person's knowledge or consent).

Numbers of times within the conversation Clemens left openings for McNamee to admit lying about his drug use.  Clemens said things like "I know I didn't do it" and "I just want to tell the truth".  At no time did Brian McNamee pipe in with something like "But Roger, you know that I told the truth" or "We know you did it, that's not an issue".  That sounds very good for Clemens' claims.

But wait a minute.  Also within this 17 minute call, McNamee asked Clemens over and over again, "What do you want me to do?"  And at no time did Roger Clemens answer by saying "Tell the truth" or "Admit you lied about me taking this stuff".  That sounds very good for McNamee's claims.

I like to be optimistic about things, and generally hope my optimism wins out over the smaller part of me that is cynical.  But to tell you the truth, cynical is the big winner on this call. 

Simply stated, this reeks of a set-up conversation, with both sides saying the things that would establish reasonable doubt on the part of the public and/or a jury.

My reasons are embodied in these two questions:

-Why would two men who are in a legal battle that will either exonerate or ruin them have this conversation?  

Any lawyer with even minor competency would have advised his client that "The other guy can tape this.  If you talk to him anything you say, even the slightest little slip, can make his case and establish you as a liar.  Do not under any circumstances talk to him by telephone".

-And in 17 minutes how is it possible that Clemens would not ask McNamee to tell the truth and McNamee would not comment that he did tell the truth?   

To me, the one and only way that could possibly happen is if Clemens and McNamee set this conversation up and decided to just keep repeating the same things to each other over and over again. 

Nothing clever, nothing creative, just parrot out what would make one sound like he might be telling the truth without the other specifically coming off as a liar.

Clemens would keep saying "I just want to tell the truth" with McNamee not reminding him that he told it, and McNamee would keep repeating "What do you want me to do" without Clemens ever asking him to recant a word of his testimony.

Do I know this happened?  Nope, I do not.  Does my gut - every inch of it - tell me this is what happened?  Yep.

What do you think?

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