Sunday, 21 September 2008

AL FRANKEN SHOWS HIS, ER, QUALIFICATIONS

Ken Berwitz

Al Franken is a couple of is's and a lot of was's.

Franken is successful author, he was a successful comedy writer, he was an unsuccessful movie writer, he was an unsuccessful movie actor and he was an unsuccessful talk show host.

This rsum, it appears, has convinced him that he is qualified to be a U.S. Senator.  To that end he is running against incumbent Norm Coleman in Minnesota, where Franken has not lived for decades.

Well, without any particular qualifications to offer voters, Mr. Franken has turned to the one area where he has had success.  Writing.

No, Franken has not quit the senate race to write again.  He has decided, while running for the senate, to write some unpleasant (and, he hopes, funny) material to batter John McCain with for Saturday Night Live.

Jonathan Martin of www.politico.com has written an article which, via the following excerpt, gives us the particulars:

Franken helps craft McCain SNL skit

By Jonathan Martin

Al Franken, the former "Saturday Night Live" star now running in a high-profile Senate race in Minnesota, helped craft the opening sketch mocking John McCain that kicked off the NBC comedy show Saturday, according to two well-placed sources inside the network.

Franken, who hasnt been a staff writer on the show for 13 years, phoned in a spoof of McCain recording campaign ads in an edit booth, said an NBC source. Seth Meyers, the shows current head writer, wrote it, but the sketch was hatched by Franken, a longtime liberal satirist and comedian.

An SNL insider said that, as of the Wednesday script read-through, Franken was the credited writer with Meyers on the opening sketch. Show veteran Darrell Hammond is to play McCain.

Frankens input to the show blindsided his campaign staff, who have been forced to explain away some of the more crass and profane parts of his past writing and acting that have been used as fodder against him in a state known for its polite manners.

A spokeswoman for Franken, Colleen Murray, first said the Democratic Senate candidate didnt write anything for SNL tonight. But pressed if he was involved in the show or had been in contact with staff members, Murray admitted Franken had a role in Saturday's program.

Al has been friends with Lorne Michaels for over 30 years, and Lorne thought Als personal experience was funny enough for a SNL skit, Murray said in a statement, referring to the shows executive producer and creator. Sure, Al keeps in touch with old friends but unless the skit is about non-ferrous mining on Minnesotas Iron Range, Als not in the business of developing skits anymore.

A Franken campaign aide said the candidate had been taping an ad earlier in the week and had wondered out loud how McCain could include the disclaimer candidates are required to include in their commercials  Im John McCain, and I approved this message  when his spots were so over the top.

Later that day, Franken talked to Michaels about topics unrelated to the show and mentioned his thought but did not suggest a sketch.

However, Michaels talked to Meyers about Frankens idea and the current writer, believing there was a funny sketch there, called his predecessor and they discussed it further.

Meyers then wrote it up.

Frankens campaign sought to downplay the conversations, noting that the idea grew out of a discussion between old friends and that Franken had not been pitching an idea.

And a source close to the show said it was not uncommon for past "Saturday Night Live" stars to suggest ideas to current writers and cast members.

But word that the networks signature comedy show has allowed a liberal Democrat Senate candidate to shape content mocking the Republican presidential nominee may fuel sentiment that the network is sympathetic to the left.

Told of Frankens role in Saturday's show, a spokesman for Sen. Norm Colemans campaign said it was ironic that the Democrat had a hand in spoofing negative campaigning.

Angry Al has run one of the nastiest, most negative attack campaigns in Minnesota history, said Coleman spokesman Luke Friedrich. Angry Al complaining about someone elses campaign ads is about as funny as 'Saturday Night Live' will get this year.

Franken's campaign was damaged earlier this summer when Republicans unearthed a racy Playboy article and even more when it was revealed that in 1995, his last year on the program, Franken had joked about rape while crafting one of the shows skits.

Evidently this is what Al Franken thinks an aspiring senator should do. 

In his case I hope he's right.  Because if all he winds up being is an aspiring senator (as opposed to a real one) he's doing exactly the right thing.

Maybe he can write a skit about it after the election, when, if Minnesotans are astute enough, he'll have lots of time on his hands.


THE THREATS AGAINST JEWISH ORGANIZATIONS FOR INVITING SARAH PALIN

Ken Berwitz

I just saw this news article at www.sweetness-light.com, which got it from WCBS-TV's New York station.  All credit to them -- and what a shame that coverage of this kind is unusual enough to generate a surprised compliment when reported.

It is posted especially for my Jewish Democratic friends, and enemies, who read this blog (I know first-hand I have both in the mix):

Dems Threatened Palin Inviters With IRS

From New York Citys CBS affiliate WCBSTV:

Sources: Intense Pressure Led To Palin UN Snub

CBS 2 HD Has Learned Democrats Threatened To Attack Jewish Groups Tax Exempt Status Over VP Nominee Invite

Sep 19, 2008

NEW YORK (CBS) ―  Hillary Clinton wont be speaking at Mondays anti-Iran rally at the United Nations and neither will Republican Sarah Palin or any other politicians for that matter.

The reason? A heated behind the scenes tug-of-war.

Sources tell CBS 2 HD that a decision to disinvite Palin from the high profile rally after Clinton pulled out in a huff came as the result of intense pressure from Democrats.

This is insulting. This is embarrassing, especially to Gov. Palin, to me and I think it should be to every single New Yorker, Assemblyman Dov Hikind, D-Brooklyn, told CBS 2 HD.

Sources say the axes were out for Palin as soon as Sen. Clinton pulled out because she did not want to attend the same event as the Republican vice presidential candidate.

I have never seen such raw emotion on both sides, said someone close to the situation.

The groups sponsoring the rally against Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad speaking at the UN were reportedly told, it could jeopardize their tax exempt status if they had Palin and not Clinton or Democratic VP candidate Joe Biden on hand.

So all politicians were disinvited, most prominently, Palin.

Its an absolute shame that this has happened, Hikind said. To threaten organizations to threaten the Conference of Presidents that if you dont withdraw the invitation to Gov. Palin were going to look into your tax exempt status thats McCarthyism.

Another Jewish group tried to step into the breach by inviting Palin to a different protest a day earlier.

Im absolutely appalled at the behavior of the Democrats, said Bob Kunst of Defenders.net. Im a Democrat and for the first time in my life Im going to vote Republican. I cant take it anymore.

As for Sen. Clinton, she brushed right past CBS 2 HDs Lou Young when he tried to ask her about the issue on Thursday night.

Lou Young: Were the organizers of Mondays rally right to depoliticize it?

Clinton walked past Young, said Thank you all very much and started hugging people.

Clintons people tell CBS 2 HD she intends to make some statement of support for the protestors. She is also expected to attack Ahmadinejads pro-nuke, anti-Israel stance.

How typical, is it not?

Though some of the comments from Democrats are surprising.

FYI, I read today (admittedly without full confirmation) that Sarah Palin held a rally at The Villages in Florida and drew something like 70,000 people - multiples of the 20,000 tickets that were available. 

The haters will never understand her attraction.  Not for millions and millions of years.  But I suspect that millions and millions of voters will.

-------------------------------------------------

UPDATE:  Now I have confirmation.  From the Fort Myers News-Press:  The fire chief estimated the crowd at 70,000.

FURTHER UPDATE:  The Fort Myers News-Press now says the fire chief estimated a crowd of 60,000, not 70,000.  Assuming this new estimate is more accurate, it is a) still the largest crowd ever to see any politician at The Villages, where Presidents have campaigned in the past and b) it is triple the number of tickets handed out for Ms. Palin's speech.


DIRTY, DISHONEST CAMPAIGNING

Ken Berwitz

I hesitate to post this;  not because it isn't accurate, but because, let's be honest here, both sides in presidential campaigns are going to exaggerate and distort things.  This certainly includes some of John McCain's ads.

But I am sufficiently exasperated by mainstream media's lack of willingness to hold Barack Obama to account for the most egregious examples of exaggeration, extortion and absolute lying being committed on his behalf, that I will anyway.  Here it is, courtesy of  John Hinderaker at www.powerlineblog.com:

The Politics of Fear

Is Barack Obama running the most disgraceful Presidential campaign of modern times? The evidence continues to mount, as Obama's ads and speeches are filled not only with exaggerations and distortions, but with outright lies: claims about John McCain that Obama must know are false.

Like many Democrats, Obama engages in the politics of fear. He tries, especially, to scare senior citizens. In one ad, he asserts that the "Bush-McCain privatization plan" would "cut Social Security benefits in half." That this crude lie is absurd on its face does not mean that no fearful seniors will fall for it. FactCheck.org writes:

This is a falsehood sure to frighten seniors who rely on their Social Security checks. In truth, McCain does not propose to cut those checks at all.

The ad refers to a Bush proposal from 2005 to hold down the growth of benefits for future retirees. Compared to the buying power of benefits paid to today's retirees, that would not have been a "cut" for anybody. It would have been a "cut" of half only in relation to benefits now promised to retirees who have yet to be born. And for average workers, that "cut" in 2075 was projected by one of Obama's own economic advisers to be 28 percent, not "half."

Obama continued to try to scare senior citizens with lies yesterday in a speech in Daytona Beach, Florida. Obama said:

Without Social Security half of elderly women would be living in poverty - half. But if my opponent had his way, the millions of Floridians who rely on it would've had their Social Security tied up in the stock market this week.

Once again, FactCheck.org:

That's untrue. All current retirees would be covered by exactly the same Social Security benefits they are now under what the Obama campaign likes to call the "Bush-McCain privatization plan," which Bush pushed for unsuccessfully in 2005.

Actually, under the current Social Security system workers don't have "their Social Security tied up" anywhere. They have no retirement assets, only a promise from the federal government that will be revised or rescinded when the burden becomes unsustainable. If we had a sensible retirement system--one based on savings, not taxes on the next generation--workers would accumulate real assets, not revocable promises. They wouldn't have to put their money in the stock market, of course, but every person I know who has a 401k account or similar retirement portfolio puts at least some of that money in equities. As a person nears retirement he normally shifts his investments from equities into bonds; if he wants to begin his retirement with investments that are self-evidently more secure than the government's promise to pay benefits, he can put the whole thing in government bonds.

Barack Obama knows all of this, of course; he just doesn't want America's workers to have the same opportunity to accumulate wealth that he himself enjoys. We're used to the Democrats demagoging Social Security, but Obama goes beyond demagoguery when he engages in outright lies.

The Obama campaign, basking within the protective shield of our wonderful "neutral" media, is pushing this envelope further than I recall ever seeing it.  And we aren't even in October yet, so it's a pretty good bet their exaggerations, distortions and lies will get even worse before election day.

I bet a lot of our media will have plenty to say about it too.  When?  Oh, about mid-November.


BARACK OBAMA'S JEREMIAH WRIGHT PROBLEM

Ken Berwitz

Here comes the reminder for voters, that Barack Obama was an adherent of jeremiah wright for 18 years, along with the reminder of who and what jeremiah wright was during that time - most specifically what he was "teaching" Mr. Obama, his wife and his children.

Charles Johnson of www.littlegreenfootballs.com and Laura Meckler of the Wall Street Journal give us the specifics (if you have trouble with the video, just click here to see it):

The Reverend Wright Issue

PoliticsSat, Sep 20, 2008 at 9:25:55 am PST

At the Wall Street Journal, Laura Meckler writes that the McCain campaign is getting ready to open a can of Reverend Jeremiah Wright: Attack by Association Viewed as Fair Game by McCain Camp.

Dont be shocked if you see the McCain campaign pull the controversial Rev. Jeremiah Wright out of mothballs in new attacks against one-time parishioner, Barack Obama.

McCain advisers say that they see attack by association as fair game now, arguing that Obamas campaign has been using that technique to go after McCain. In particular, the Obama campaign has hammered McCain on the stump and in TV ads on the number of one-time lobbyists working for his campaign. (The McCain campaign is also angry about a Spanish-language TV ad that ties McCain to Rush Limbaugh on immigration, without ever saying that McCain took on Limbaugh and others to fight for comprehensive immigration reform.)

They played it one way, we played it another way, said one of McCains top advisers, Mark Salter. Now were both going to play it the same way.

If youre not a fan of Obama, youre probably thinking, Its about time. It doesnt take Nostradamus to predict that Obamas fans will shriek, Guilt by association! and claim that Obamas relationship with Wright was nothing special.

But theyre going to have to explain this speech by Obama from June 5, 2007 at Hampton University, lavishing praise on Rev. Wright in a way that makes it very clear that Obama was a close personal friend.

This close friend of Barack Obama also joined Louis Farrakhan on a trip to Libya and met with Muammar Gaddafi in 1984, right around the time Obama would have first met Rev. Wright. Has anyone ever asked Obama for his opinion about that trip?

jeremiah wright will be, and should be, a major issue in this campaign.  Did the Obama people think that because they want him gone and forgotten the McCain people would acquiescently oblige?

The Trinity United Church of Christ, where wright has spewed his hatred all these years, was not a place that Barack Obama grew up in.  He chose this church as a Harvard-educated adult .  There is no way to get around the fact that it bears on his judgment.
 
And when wright gave the career racist and anti-Semite louis farrakhan a lifetime achievement award just last year, and praised farrakhan as "epitomizing greatness", there is no record of Barack Obama uttering even one word of protest.  Nor is there any record of him protesting wright's characterization of the state of Israel as "an apartheid state" and "a dirty word"
 
Now that Obama is running for the presidency, he is suddenly disturbed by these things.  Until now he was not.  It would take a suspension of disbelief far greater than what I am capable of to buy what he is selling.
 
Simply stated, Barack Obama's association with jeremiah wright is 100% fair game.  Expect to see a lot of it over the next month and a half.


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