Thursday, 21 February 2008


Ken Berwitz

Did you know that there may have been a terrorist attempt in Tampa Bay, Florida this week? 

Did you know that a young man was caught trying to sneak a box cutter onto a plane and was carrying all sorts of Muslim material with him?

I'll bet anything that, unless you happen to be a Tampa Bay local, you know little or nothing about this.  So let me help out by posting this article from The Suncoast News, via Tampa Bay Online:

TIA Passenger Had Box Cutter In Hollowed-Out Book

By Thomas W.  Krause of The Tampa Tribune

Published: February 20, 2008

TAMPA - A 21-year-old Clearwater man was arrested at Tampa International Airport this weekend after security personnel found a box cutter in a hollowed-out book, authorities said.

Benjamin Baines Jr.

If convicted, Baines faces up to 10 years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine for a federal charge of attempting to board an airplane with a concealed dangerous weapon. He is currently serving a 30 day
sentence after pleading guilty Monday to a state misdemeanor charge of carrying a concealed weapon.

About 7:30 a.m. Sunday, airport security ran Benjamin Baines Jr.'s backpack through an X-ray machine and saw the image of a box cutter, according to a report from the Transportation Security Administration.

When searching the backpack, a security officer found a book titled "Fear Itself." The book was hollowed out, and the box cutter was inside.

After Baines was read his rights, he said his cousin had cut away the pages to make the hollow section in the book. Later, reports state, he said he had hollowed it out himself to hide money and marijuana from his roommates.

Baines told officers he was moving to Las Vegas and forgot the cutter was in the book.
Officers found books in the backpack titled "Muhammad in the Bible," "The Prophet's Prayer" and "The Noble Qur'an." He also had a copy of the Quran and the Bible.

Several sheets of paper in the backpack included rap lyrics that referred to police, narcotics, weapons and killing. Baines told officers he is a rapper who writes his own lyrics and that rap music writers need to "play the part," the report states.

Officers performed a background check and found no record of crimes or active warrants.
He was charged with carrying a concealed weapon and booked into Orient Road Jail. At his first appearance in court Monday, Baines pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 days in jail, according to an employee with the Hillsborough County clerk of court. He remained in Orient Road Jail today.

The U.S. Attorney's Office also filed a federal charge of attempting to board an aircraft with a concealed dangerous weapon. The federal charge against Baines was filed Sunday but was not announced until today, said Steve Cole, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Tampa.

Cole said Baines will be arrested by U.S. marshals upon his release from jail on the state charge.


The same media that are shocked - SHOCKED - by President Bush's determination to continue aggressive surveillance of terrorist suspects, virtually ignore a story like this. 

My proof?  It has been an entire news day since this story was published:  did you know about it?

Do you think they'd have reported it if he got on the plane and tried to use that box cutter?  Do you think they'd have attacked President Bush for being ineffective?  Do you think they'd have said it "proved" Bush's attempts to protect the USA are meaningless and he's a failure?

Now think about this (it should take a half second).  Who is more invested in protecting the USA from terrorism?  The media or the President.


Ken Berwitz

Yesterday I complimented Chris Matthews because he (untypically) went for the jugular against a Democrat as hard as he usually does against Republicans.

Well, today it is back to business as usual.

Matthews doesn't like Rush Limbaugh very much.  So this morning, when MSNBC played a tape of Limbaugh's reaction to the McCain/Iseman story while Matthews was on the air, he decided a little disdain was in order.

Here is the transcript, courtesy of

PETER ALEXANDER: Just a short time ago, with all those ifs understood, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh weighed in on this, as we noted on the national radio program. Let's take a listen, though to what he just said.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: I refuse to get mad when something I have predicted is going to happen, happens. I refuse to get mad when something I know is true is true. It's a total waste of energy. The important question for John McCain today is, is he going to learn the right lesson from this? And what is the lesson? The lesson is, liberals are to be defeated. You cannot walk across the aisle with them. You cannot reach across the aisle. You cannot welcome their media members on your bus and get all cozy with them and expect eternal love from them. You are a Republican. Whether you're a conservative Republican or not, you are a Republican. And at some point, the people you cozy up to, either to do legislation or to get cozy media stories, are going to turn on you. They are snakes. And if the right lesson is not learned from this, then it will have proved to be of no value. It's a great opportunity here for Senator McCain to learn the right lesson. Understand who his friends are and who his enemies are. And he's had that backwards for way too long. He has thought the New York Times is his friend. He has thought Chris Matthews and these other people in the drive-by media are his friends. They aren't. That's the lesson, today. And if you want to get mad, you know, Senator McCain says that he's disappointed here in the New York Times. Of course. I'm sure he's disappointed. The question is, is he surprised?

ALEXANDER: Well, that was Rush Limbaugh on the Rush Limbaugh show, Chris, as you just heard him going off for nearly two minutes, which he'll do for much of the day.

CHRIS MATTHEWS: Right. Well, going off is correct. It's a good phrase. You've captured him. [Laughs]

ALEXANDER: But I guess the question is, for the conservatives, is it potentially an asset for John McCain? If it proves to be all the ifs and there are no facts to this, other than this is the impression of his staff members, is this perhaps an asset to John McCain, who is trying to invite in the conservatives to his, what is viewed as a much more moderate campaign?

MATTHEWS: I suppose. But, you know, the big story here is the journalism involved and whether this is a true story or not. And when Bill Keller of the New York Times says the story speaks for itself, well, if that's the case, the story here is that John McCain had an affair with a lobbyist and did favors her. And that is a problem for him if that's true. If it's not true, it's not a problem for him. It's a problem for the New York Times. Rush Limbaugh is irrelevant here. Irrelevant. He doesn't know anything more than what he read in the New York Times. [Laughs] Ironically.

For the record, Rush Limbaugh has in the neighborhood of 20 million listeners each week (that's not a typo - 20 million each week).  He is the single most listened to radio personality in the history of the medium.

By contrast, Matthews' "Hardball" TV show airs twice a day at 5PM and 7PM.  He is regularly third in his time slot behind Fox and CNN.  If he ever got one million viewers for any airing of his show they'd probably have to administer oxygen and smelling salts.

Chris Matthews calling Rush Limbaugh irrelevant is like Jabba the Hutt calling SpongeBob SquarePants overweight.


Ken Berwitz

Well, there's an impasse, isn't there?

The Times made a baseless accusation (no evidence other than a couple of "disillusioned" former staffers saying they suspected he was having an affair with a lobbyist.  The end).

John McCain says it is not true.  It didn't happen.

If the New York Times wants to retain whatever shred of credibility it still clings to, there had better be more.  A lot more.


Ken Berwitz

deus ex machina      [dey-uhs eks mah-kuh-nuh, dee-uhs eks mak-uh-nuh] Pronunciation Key - Show IPA Pronunciation

1. (in ancient Greek and Roman drama) a god introduced into a play to resolve the entanglements of the plot.


any artificial or improbable device resolving the difficulties of a plot.

Let's suppose you're Rush Limbaugh (this will either put you in ecstasy or give you a severe stomach cramp.  Whatever.)

You have spent months trashing John McCain and do not want him to be the Republican presidential nominee.  But now it is a virtual certainty that he will be.

You absolutely do not want either Democratic candidate to become President.  Not Hillary Clinton with all her, baggage.  And not Barack Obama, who you see as a doctrinaire LAMB leftist with no particular fondness for the country he wants to become President of.

You are between a rock and a hard place.  No, that's an understatement -- you are between the Rock of Gibraltar and a glacier on the Arctic Circle. 

You need a way out.  You need a deus ex machina.

The deus ex machina is a literary device which came into usage around the beginning of the 18th century.  It enables playwrights to extricate themselves from plots that have no resolution.  The choice is to either rewrite the play, or create some magical out-of-this-world event that does not require a plausible resolution. 

The way they did it was that, at the very end of the play, God himself would come down from heaven (through use of a crude lifting and lowering machine offstage).  Since it is God, and God can do anything, a simple wave of the hand would immediately make the lost jewelry appear, or the long-dead loved one come alive, or the impossibly complex marital situation resolve.  Presto change-o.

This morning the New York Times (and Washington Post) is running a story that implies John McCain may have had an illicit affair with a D.C. lobbyist named Vicki Iseman in 2000.  There is no proof offered.  Only the accusations of two "disillusioned" former staff members (translation:  they have an ax to grind).

Got that?  No proof.  No names of any accuser.  No claim that it actually happened, only that two disgruntled former staffers say they suspected it might have.

The New York Times has run with this barrel of nothing after ENDORSING Mr. McCain just weeks ago.  And, since the Times acknowledges it has been working on this story for months, the endorsement came at a time when they were running down the possibility that their fair-haired boy was a lying philanderer, doing favors for a babe he was bedding at the time.

Does this make even the remotest sense to you?

Some people have taken to calling this formerly great paper The New York Slimes.  If you ever wondered why, you needn't wonder any more.

As you might expect, this juicy gossip piece is lead-story news.  It certainly was on the Today show this morning (as if you needed me to tell you).  And, barring a terrorist attack - maybe - it is sure to be the lead story on the network news tonight.

But it is something else.  It is Rush Limbaugh's deus ex machina.

Now Mr. Limbaugh can huff and puff that John McCain is a victim of the "drive-by media", as he calls them.  He will point out that it proves what he has always said about mainstream media - i.e. they may pretend, but they are never the friend of a Republican or Conservative.  He will say that the Times intentionally endorsed McCain so they could get a Republican candidate they would immediately be able to smear. 

And y'know what?  Every part of his diatribe will be accurate.

Then, either today or in the near future, Mr. Limbaugh will grudgingly suggest that voters should hold their nose and cast their ballots for Mr. McCain.  Not because he is a good choice, but because the alternatives are worse.

If the New York Times wanted to accomplish something with this low-down smear, they did.  They gave Rush Limbaugh (and other likeminded conservatives) another reason to dislike and distrust them --- and a tailor made, hand-delivered reason to talk up the McCain candidacy.

Congratulations to them.


Ken Berwitz

I just read this New York Post story, which I first learmed about at

Here, folks, is the defense of Madonna Constantine, the Columbia University Professor who claimed a noose was placed on her office door and who has been found to have systematically plagiarized academic work for years.  The bold print is mine:




'HATE' TWIST: Madonna Constantine, who told of finding...
'HATE' TWIST: Madonna Constantine, who told of finding...

February 21, 2008 -- The black Columbia University professor who last fall found a hangman's noose pinned to her office door plagiarized the work of another faculty member and two students, according to a school investigation released yesterday.

The plagiarism probe was already under way last year when a 4-foot twine noose was discovered on the door of psychology and education professor Madonna Constantine's office, officials at the university's Teachers College said.

They said they disciplined Constantine for stealing other people's work for articles she published in academic journals.

They cited two dozen instances of plagiarism over the past five years that were substantiated in an 18-month investigation by a Manhattan law firm.

Teachers College spokesman Joe Levine would not say how Constantine was punished, but college officials said her position is secure.

In a statement e-mailed to Bloomberg News Service yesterday, Constantine said she was the victim of a racist conspiracy.

The school accused her of plagiarism because of the "structural racism that pervades this institution," she charged. "As one of only two tenured black women full professors at Teachers College, it pains me to conclude that I have been specifically and systematically targeted."

Constantine said she would appeal to a faculty committee.

Cops have not been able to identify a suspect in the noose incident. They have not ruled out people close to Constantine or others who might have had an ax to grind with her.

After the October incident, cops were rebuffed - by Constantine herself - in their efforts to catch the person behind the alleged hate crime.

The professor was one of several faculty members who objected to the idea of posting surveillance cameras in her hallway, according to sources familiar with the campus investigation.

At Teachers College earlier this week, a memo that circulated among faculty members about the plagiarism probe thanked a former professor, Christine Yeh, and two former students - Tracy Juliao and Karen Cort - for cooperating.

Juliao, now a health psychologist in Detroit, said she was "shocked" when, as a Columbia student, she saw an article published by Constantine that contained "direct phrases" from her own 2004 dissertation.

"It was unbelievable to me to see my own work published by someone else who I had essentially trusted," she said. "You go in as a student thinking you should be able to trust your faculty."

Yeh, who left Columbia in 2006 and now teaches at the University of San Francisco, said she told college administrators that year that Constantine had used her work without citation or permission.

"It's been a very long and difficult investigation, and I'm hopeful that this is a first step - and that maybe other people will feel comfortable coming forward as a result of this," she said.


Does this story stink?  Are you kidding?  Like a 50 year old Afghanistan outhouse.

Constantine madonna has zero credibiility.  I am now certain the noose incident was a hoax. 

And the claim of racism to cover her ass (the last refuge of a Black scoundrel) is not only despicable, but it cheapens and trivializes the REAL racism that exists.  It is people like constantine madonna who make racism easier for haters everywhere.

Now tell me why her job remains secure.  If it were outside of academia, she'd be fired, and charged as a criminal.


Ken Berwitz

The following excerpt is from my blog of November 6, 2007:

Remember that incident, weeks ago, when a noose was placed on a Black professor's door at Columbia University Teacher's College? 

Remember the outrage?  The protests?  The boiling-over level of activism it spawned?  The instant-activists, like al sharpton getting maximum TV time over it?

Remember the 56 hours of video tape - six different cameras, that could have shown who placed the noose there?  Remember that Columbia University first REFUSED to provide police with those tapes, but then did so  (pardon my cynicism) after holding them long enough to look them over and do what they wanted with them? 

Well, what happened to those tapes and why has this story been summarily buried?  Given what they were looking for, 56 hours of tape could have been gone through in less than one day

Was I suspicious then?  Yeah, I was. 

Did I think it was a hoax then?  You bet I did.  If you read the entire blog (just click here) you will see that I posted an article about how many of these so-called incidents are hoaxes.  I finished with the following:

Sad to say, there have been many cases like this in recent years;  cases in which a student or faculty member has intentionally created a phony hate crime to stir racial tensions, get personal attention or for some other reason(s).

Is that what happened at Columbia?  Is that why the school held the video tapes long enough to look through them?  Is this a hoax? 

I don't know the answers to those questions.  But every day that goes by leads me to think the answers just may be "Yes", "Yes" and "Yes".

I can't help thinking about that great scene in The Shawshank Redemption when they discover Andy Dufresne missing.  The warden (played by wonderful character actor Bob Gunton) pointed to Dufresne's name on the previous night's count and said "He was in his cell at lights-out.  It stands to reason he'd be here in the morning"

There was no noose on the door at the start of the evening.  There was one the next morning.  It stands to reason the video tape would show how it got there.

Well, now it is late February.  And we have the following excerpted information, from the Columbia Spectator (a student publication) about the Professor whose door had supposedly been noosed:

Professor Madonna Constantine has been sanctioned by Teachers College for plagiarism, according to a memo obtained by Spectator Tuesday evening. The memo, dated Feb. 18, was hand-delivered to professors on the Office of the Presidents stationery.

TC confirmed in a statement later Tuesday evening that after an internal investigation TC had found numerous instances in which she [Constantine] used others work without attribution in papers she published in academic journals over the past five years.

The statement specifies that the investigation, which began in 2006, was prompted by complaints from students and one former faculty member who said language from materials they wrote was included without attribution in the articles.

The statement explained that the investigation, which was conducted by Hughes Hubbard & Reed, a law firm with a substantial practice representing universities and academic institutions, concluded that Professor Constantines explanation for the strikingly similar language was not credible..

She lied about her work. It stands to reason she'd lie about other things as well.

You do the math.

Derex I'm so glad I found my solution onnile. (12/10/11)

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