Thursday, 03 July 2008

EXPLOITING TIM RUSSERT'S DEATH

Ken Berwitz

As you may remember, I blogged about keith olbermann viciously - and entirely dishonestly - attacking Fox News as "the worst persons in the world" for talking about Tim Russert immediately after he died - because olbermann's claims about what was said were completely untrue, as you can see by clicking here

Now, what I'd like to know is whether olbermann will be doing a similar hit job on his employer, MSNBC.  Why?  Because of this, as chronicled by D. S. Hube of www.newsbusters.org:

MSNBC Gets Caught Cooking the Books, Has to Recant

By D. S. Hube | July 3, 2008 - 10:52 ET

 What do you do when you just can't win your ratings time slot? Answer: Cook the books. That's what MSNBC tried to do regarding "Hardball with Chris Matthews" and the 5:00pm slot:

CNN and Fox News Channel both pointed out Tuesday that MSNBC included special coverage of Tim Russerts death and memorial in its June data ratings for Hardball With Chris Matthews prompting MSNBC to say it made an error.

The flap was over a press release that MSNBC issued, based on Nielsen data, with the headline MSNBCs Hardball No. 1 Among Adults in June at 5 p.m.  

According to the release, Hardball averaged 190,000 adults 25 to 54 in June, beating CNN and Fox News at 5 p.m. in that demographic for the first time since February 2002.

But the announcement immediately drew fire from CNN and Fox News, who charged that MSNBC was using straight 5 p.m. time slot data for June, not data solely for Hardball.

By using the 5 p.m. info, rather than program data, MSNBC was including in its tally special coverage it had aired on Meet the Press moderator Russerts death and memorial.

Without that special coverage, MSNBCs numbers drop. Instead, CNNs Situation Room at 5 p.m. ranked No. 1 in June in the 25-to-54 age group, averaging 186,000 of those watchers, while Fox Newss Americans Election HQ was second with 179,000.  MSNBCs Hardball was third with 171,000.

An MSNBC spokesman conceded that the network had made an error in including the Russert coverage along with that for Hardball at 5 p.m.

But hey, when you're perpetually getting beat by your cable news rivals, you'll do whatever you can, right? This reminds me of a similarly hilarious tidbit from a couple years back when "Countdown's" Keith Olbermann actually ... bragged about winning the -- wait for it -- 12:00am midnight time slot over his competitors at Fox News and CNN! 

Yes indeed, that "coveted" midnight rating. 

Is it my imagination, or was MSNBC trying to exploit Tim Russert's death to boom up their ratings story? 

Russert was a news giant at NBC so its satellite network, MSNBC would of course generate major viewership by covering his death and memorializing him. There is nothing at all wrong with this.  But then using their coverage to make a bogus, inflated claim about ratings?  That is unbelievable.  And unforgivable.

So we're going to see olbermann do his patented "I'm so furious my head is about to explode" routine against MSNBC, right?  They'll be the worst persons in the world for exploiting the death of Tim Russert for PR purposes, right?  Maybe they'll even be the double worst persons in the world because, unlike Fox, MSNBC really did do it.

I'm just waiting on tenterhooks for this to happen.  Honest.


DISOBAMASSOCIATIONS

Ken Berwitz

Here, from www.littlegreenfootballs.com, is a humorous way of showing how many confidantes of Barack Obama he has disassociated himself from over the past several months.  See how many you can name:

The Return of the Disassociator

Wed, Jul 2, 2008 at 5:42:57 pm PST

.

Some of these newly-dispatched people only recently became Obamacolytes.  But others include his spiritual mentor and a "man" he respectfully refers to as "Minister" - both of whom appear to hate White people, the USA, Israel, and Jews in general. 

Funny how they were okey-dokey with Mr. Obama until he needed votes from a national electorate.

Is this what a typical machine politician - not some glorified heaven-sent savior but a typical machine politician - would do? 

Do you really have to ask?


IS THERE A CINDY MCCAIN/TERESA HEINZ PARALLEL?

Ken Berwitz

The folks at www.politico.com seem to think there is.  As is obvious by their blog below, the folks at www.sweetness-light.com emphatically disagree.  

You decide:

GOP Reaps What It Sowed With Spouses

July 2nd, 2008

From the Politico:

In this April 24, 2008 file photo Cindy McCain introduces her ...

The AP dusts off a very flattering photo of Mrs. McCain from April 24, 2008.

Cindys fortune: An asset and a liability

By: Kenneth P. Vogel
July 2, 2008

In 2004, Republicans demanded fuller disclosure about the considerable fortune of Teresa Heinz Kerry, wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Now, the GOP is reaping what it sowed.

Having established a recent precedent for increased scrutiny of spousal finances, the party now finds its own presumptive nominee, John McCain, under an unwanted spotlight over the fortune of his wife, Cindy.

Already, Democrats have blasted Cindy McCains less-than-full financial disclosure, asserting that it calls into question John McCains commitment to transparency and suggests that he may be hiding information about how his efforts in Congress benefited his family.

Worse though, the burgeoning focus on Cindy McCains finances could attract attention to an aspect of the Arizona senators family life that is unlikely to be advantageous to him on the campaign trail: the affluent lifestyle and free-spending habits of the McCain clan

In recent years, a Politico analysis found, the McCain family appears to have tapped its fortune liberally.

While Cindy McCain, her dependent children and the trusts and companies they control made as much as $29 million and likely substantially more from her familys business interests from 2004 through last year, data from the Internal Revenue Service, the U.S. Senate, the U.S. Office of Government Ethics and the Center for Responsive Politics also reveals that they spent $11 million purchasing five condominiums for the family, hired additional household help and racked up progressively larger credit card bills almost every year.

Their credit card bills peaked between January 2007 and May 2008, during which time Cindy McCain charged as much as $500,000 in a single month on one American Express card and $250,000 on another, while one of their two dependent children had an AmEx card with a monthly balance as large as $50,000

In addition to the American Express cards which carry no monthly interest charges Cindy and John McCain jointly hold a credit card through Chase with a steep 25.99 percent interest rate. It had a top balance as large as $15,000 last year.

John McCain has his own credit card, his aide said, but its balance for years has not exceeded the $10,000 threshold that triggers the reporting requirement for listing liabilities on Senate or executive branch personal financial disclosure statements.

The last year John McCain reported holding a credit card with such a balance was 2004, when he had  an American Express Platinum card with a top balance of $15,000. Cindy McCain also had a Platinum AmEx that year, with a top balance of $100,000, as well as a Business Platinum account with a top balance of $50,000, and charge cards from Saks Fifth Avenue, MasterCard and Visa with top monthly balances between $15,000 and $50,000 and interest rates between 10.49 and 24.49 percent.

And in 2004, one of their dependent children had an AmEx Business Platinum card with a top monthly balance of $50,000. The McCain aide wouldnt identify which child got the card, but their oldest, Meghan, turned 20 that year.

What a preposterous article, even for the Politico.

Having established a recent precedent for increased scrutiny of spousal finances, the party now finds its own presumptive nominee, John McCain, under an unwanted spotlight over the fortune of his wife, Cindy.

Questions were raised about Ms. Teresa Heinz Kerry because she not only funded his campaign (through illegal loans based on one of her houses), but because she ran the so-called Heinz Foundation.

Lest we forget, the Heinz Foundation funded the Tides Foundation and countless other ultra-left organizations that were a major factor in the 2004 elections.

But of course the reporters at the Politico were unaware of all of this.

They are too busy going through the McCains credit card bills.

[T]hey spent $11 million purchasing five condominiums for the family, hired additional household help and racked up progressively larger credit card bills almost every year.

Remember all of the breathless stories from our watchdog media about the numerous palatial estates the Kerrys owned thanks to Teresa (or rather, her former husband, who was a Republican), and how much they spent keeping them going?

I dont either.

I wonder if the good folks at politico will do a story on where Michelle Obama got the money for her Ivy League education and how she managed to become a $325,000 a year or so executive at a hospital her husband passed a couple of nice, fat $$$ earmarks to.  I hope, in the interests of fairness, we'll be seeing stories about those juicy little items sooner rather than later.


DESPERATELY SEEKING A WAY TO ATTACK BUSH

Ken Berwitz

If I didn't know Henry Waxman was in congress with a gavel in his hand, I would probably assume Democrats had about run out of ways to attack President Bush.  But I do know Henry Waxman, so there is no doubt he is investigating something, and that investigation is virtually certain to target Republicans.

Despite Barack Obama's lead in the polls (which, the latest polls show to be a lot less impressive than the 15% bulge Newsweek claimed last week), Democrats are starting to feel a little boxed in these days.  Here are two examples of what I mean:

-Iraq is off the table for two reasons:  1) it is going so well (a political liability for Democrats) and 2) the more military issues are discussed during this presidential campaign, the better John McCain looks compared to Barack Obama. No point in going there.

Democrats who have attempted to frame our economic situation as the result of "Bush's failed energy policy" are finding that (if the polling data are correct) they are 100 miles on the wrong side of the issue.  People WANT us to drill for more oil in the places that Democrats have moved heaven and earth to prevent us from drilling in.  There is a rich record of President Bush advocating ANWR and offshore drilling, while Democrats not only opposed them but talked up the benefits of raising gas prices, so we would all wind up tootling around in little electric cars or somethinge even less utile.  Whoops, better find another angle.

Enter Henry Waxman. What to investigate, what to investigate....hmmmmmmmm......

So what has Waxman latched onto?  After an "investigation", he is suggesting that Bush and his administration, despite their denials, were aware of a deal developed between Hunt Oil and Kurds last September.

Hooboy, hold the presses.  This should put Bush and the rest of them in the can until mid-century (you're welcome for this quick trip to fantasyland).

Here are the particulars, from www.politico.com:

Waxman: White House knew of Iraqi oil deal

In September 2007, the Kurdish Regional Government, which runs the semi-autonomous region of Northern Iraq, announced that it had entered into an oil contract with U.S.-based Hunt Oil. The deal complicated negotiations over a revenue-sharing agreement and the Bush administration declared itself shocked at the news. I know nothing about the deal, said President Bush.

Documents uncovered by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform indicate that the White House probably shouldnt have been so surprised. Among the many pieces of evidence that the administration knew and approved of the deal:

A Commerce Department official wished Hunt Oil officials a fruitful visit to Kurdistan.

A Hunt Oil general manager said he met with nine State Department officials and none expressed opposition.

Five days after the announcement of the deal, a State Department official told Hunt officials about another good opportunity in Iraq.

U.S. involvement in the oil contract is a prickly issue for a number of reasons. If the Kurdish region can gain control of and revenue from its oil resources, it could effectively split off from the rest of Iraq, which would anger Turkey and could inspire southern Shia to do the same. Meanwhile, the U.S. is at pains to show that the invasion had nothing to do with oil resources, an argument undercut if its seen assisting U.S. companies in the exploitation of Iraqi oil. Finally, deals cut without the involvement of the Iraqi central government can only further exacerbate tensions among the various sects.

Aware of the high stakes, President Bush issued a strong denial following the announcement of the deal. I knew nothing about the deal. I need to know exactly how it happened. To the extent that it does undermine the ability for the government to come up with an oil revenue sharing plan that unifies the country, obviously if it undermines it, I'm concerned, he said.

The White House wasn't immediately available to comment.

Ok, let's take a look at the three key reasons for this conclusion/assumption/accusation/whatever by Waxman:

-A commerce department official wished a company good luck?  What an outrage!  I'm sure that occupied hours of President Bush's time;

-State Department officials did not object to Hunt Oil going to Kurdistan?  So what? 

And, by the way, the State Department has been an enemy of the Bush administration throughout his two terms, so how eager do you think they would be to give the administration a heads-up on anything significant even if this was significant?

-Five days after the deal was announced that same State Department talked up another good opportunity in Iraq?  AND???????

This isn't even a slender thread.  This is a thread from the emperor's new clothes.

I have never had much respect for Henry Waxman.  He reminds me a lot of Robert Wexler, the equally obnoxious congressperson from Florida.  Both are hardline leftists in districts where being a hardline leftist makes them safer than a babe in arms.  And all they ever seem to want to do is attack Republicans. 

How many investigations have either of these two showboaters demanded or pursued against Democrats?  The william jeffersons, allan mollahans, jim mcdermotts, john murthas, etc. etc. etc. have nothing to worry about from these guys.

This, folks, is what your taxpayer money is being spent on.  Investigations of nothing to find out nothing for the purpose of ridiculous attacks on a hated political enemy. 

Remember that when you go to the polls in November.


IRAQ: OBAMA'S MOTHER OF ALL FLIP-FLOPS

Ken Berwitz

This is it.  The mother of all flip-flops.  The left is absolutely going to go through the ceiling on this one.

Here are the details, courtesy of Mike Allen at www.politico.com:

Obama to 'refine' Iraq plan

  
 

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on Thursday backed off his firm promise to withdraw combat forces from Iraq immediately and instead said he could refine his plan after his trip to Baghdad later this month.

Earlier, a top Obama adviser had said that the senator is not wedded to a specific timeline.

Obama told reporters in Fargo, N.D., that he is going to do a thorough assessment."

"When I go to Iraq and I have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground, I'm sure I'll have more information and will continue to refine my policies," he said, according to CBS News. I have been consistent, throughout this process, that I believe the war in Iraq was a mistake. 

Obama later said at a second news conference he still intends to stick to the timeline.

The
original Obama plan, still on his website, promises: Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months.

In a separate six-page Iraq plan, he says in a section headed All Combat Troops Redeployed by 2009: The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to begin immediately to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year now.

David Axelrod, Obamas chief strategist, began backing off during remarks Wednesday on CNNs Situation Room, telling guest host John Roberts that Obama has actually advocated a phased withdrawal, with benchmarks for the Iraqi government to meet, that called for strategic pauses, based on the progress on these benchmarks and advice on the commanders on the ground.

He's always said that he would listen to the advice of commanders on the ground, that that would factor into his thinking, Axelrod said. He's also always said that we had to be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. So he's been very consistent on this point. ...

I think he will take the advice, not just the advice of the commanders on the ground but his general assessment of conditions on the ground in calibrating that withdrawal. He said he thought we could get one to two brigades out a month. But he's not wedded to that in the face of events. No president would be. And he's always said that he's never said that this withdrawal would be without any possibility of alteration based on events on the ground. That would not be a prudent thing to do for any president.

The Republican National Committee plans to make an issue of the evolving statements and has posted Obamas Iraq Guessing Game,
rounding up various statements on Iraq by the senator, his aides and surrogates.

Nothing, and I do mean nothing, is more central to Barack Obama's appeal to the left than removing the troops from Iraq --  regardless of whether there is any progress or any success.

The other flip-flops are grating to the left and are troubling evidence that Obama is nothing more than a two-faced machine politician.  But they are chicken feed compared to Iraq.  Iraq is absolutely, positively the main event.

And now? He is telling his loyal followers, the ones who have contributed all that time and money, the ones who have defended him in every which way, that his unequivocal position on Iraq is.......equivocal.

Do yourself a favor:  click on that link to "rounding up various statements" and see how many versions of Iraq policy Mr. Obama has had.  And then think about how the moveon.org, dailykos, crooksandliars and code pink crowd will feel about this latest one.

I think these folks just might have something to say.  Count on it to be very, very soon and very, very loud.

steve schneider at least he's now taking a responsible position. it looks like this guy is going to win. it would be worse if he ignored all the success in iraq, appeased the left, pulled the troops and all that was gained was lost. steve (07/04/08)


A PASSPORT LETTER

Ken Berwitz

My sister sent me the following letter which, it is purported, was actually sent to a passport office.

I can't vouch for its authenticity, but I very definitely can empathize with most of the points it makes.

I warn you that there is a lot of bad language here. 

Ok, you're warned.  Now here's the letter.

Dear sir
I'm in the process of renewing my passport, and still cannot believe
this. How is it that Radio Shack has my address and telephone number
and knows that I bought a t.v. cable from them back in 1997, and yet,
the Federal Government is still asking me where I was born and on what
date. For heaven's sakes, do you guys do this by hand?



My birth date you have on my social security card, and it is on all the
income tax forms I've filed for the past 30 years. It is on my health
insurance card, my driver's license, on the last eight goddamn
passports I've had, on all those stupid customs declaration forms I've
had to fill out before being allowed off the planes over the last 30
years, and all those insufferable census forms that are done at
election times. Would somebody please take note, once and for all, that
my mother's name is Maryanne, my father's name is Robert and I'd be
absolutely astounded if that ever changed between now and when I
die!!!!!!
SHIT!

I apologize, I'm really pissed off this morning. Between you and me,
I've had enough of this bullshit! You send the application to my house,
then you ask me for my f-cking address. What is going on? You have a
gang of Neanderthal a ssholes working there! Look at my damn picture
Do I look like Bin Laden? I don't want to dig up Yasser Arafat, for
shit sakes I just want to go and park my ass on a sandy beach. And
would someone please tell me, why would you give a shit whether I plan
on visiting a farm in the next 15 days? If I ever got the urge to do
something weird to a chicken or a goat, believe you me, I'd sure as
hell not want to tell anyone!



Well, I have to go now, cause I have to go to the other end of the city
and get another f-cking copy of my birth certificate, to the tune of
$60. Would it be so complicated to have all the services in the same
spot to assist in the issuance of a new passport the same day??
Nooooo, that'd be too damn easy and maybe makes sense. You'd rather
have us running all over the f-cking place like chickens with our heads
cut off, then find some asshole to confirm that it's really me on the
goddamn picture - you know, the one where we're not allowed to smile?!
(f-cking morons)Hey, you know why we can't smile? We're totally pissed
off! Signed - An Irate f-cking Citizen.



P.S. Remember what I said above about the picture and getting someone
to confirm that it's me? Well, my family has been in this country since
1776 . I have served in the military for something over 30 years and
have had security clearances up the yingyang. However, I have to get
someone important to verify who I am - you know, someone like my doctor
WHO WAS BORN AND RAISED IN COMMUNIST f-cking CHINA !


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