Tuesday, 07 October 2008


Ken Berwitz

I just put on MSNBC's "Hardball" with Chris Matthews.  His backdrop is a large group of people holding political signs.

Every sign, without exception, supports Obama.  Every one.

If I were worried about partisanship I would sooner eliminate that backdrop completely then allow what amounts to an Obama propaganda-fest to be visible - especially on a night that NBC's Tom Brokaw will be moderating the presidential debate.

But this is Chris "tingle up my leg" Matthews.  And this is MSNBC.

So having an Obama rally during a "neutral" show is just fine.

Then they wonder why people call them biased.



Ken Berwitz

Universities are oases of free speech and discussion, a place where all voices are heard and all issues from all perspectives are discussed.  Right?

Before you agree, please read Nat Hentoff's account of how Brandeis University handles free speech and learning in general.  You might come away with a different answer:

HENTOFF: Fear and intimidation at Brandeis U.

Nat Hentoff

Having reported on many cases of college and university administrations attacking students and professors for purported prejudicial speech that could be "offensive" on campus, I have just discovered an even more appalling case than in my book, "Free Speech for Me But Not for Thee - How the American Left and Right Relentlessly Censor Each Other."

At Brandeis University in Massachusetts, professor Donald Hindley, on the faculty for 48 years, teaches a course on Latin American politics. Last fall, he described how Mexican migrants to the United States used to be discriminatorily called "wetbacks." An anonymous student complained to the administration accusing Mr. Hindley of using prejudicial language. It was the first complaint against him in 48 years.

After an investigation, during which Mr. Hindley was not told the nature of the complaint, Brandeis Provost Marty Krauss informed Mr. Hindley that "The University will not tolerate inappropriate, racial and discriminatory conduct by members of its faculty." A corollary accusation was that students suffered "significant emotional trauma" when exposed to such a term. An administration monitor was assigned to his class. Threatened with "termination," Mr. Hindley was ordered to take a sensitivity-training class. With no charges against him, no evidence of misconduct given him and no hearing, he refused in the spirit of Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, for whom this university is named.

A passionate protector of freedom of expression in a series of seminal Supreme Court opinions, Brandeis wrote in "Whitney v. California" (1972): "Those who won independence believed ... that freedom to think as you will and to speak as you think are ... indispensable to the discovery and spread of political truth." The Brandeis Faculty Senate, joined by Brandeis' Committee on Faculty Rights and Responsibilities, objected to this assault on academic freedom. So did the Massachusetts affiliate of the ACLU, and in what would have greatly pleased Justice Brandeis, so did the university's student newspaper, "The Hoot," declaring: "The administration's instant punitive response made Hindley's guilt a foregone conclusion ... With this kind of an approach, how will the University attract the high caliber professors who will be able to give the incoming classes of students the education they deserve? How will it draw students who want a free and open academic environment?"

Mr. Hindley tells me that despite the response of the faculty Senate and the Committee on Faculty Rights, individual tenured members of his department, though outraged, would not stand up publicly on his behalf. One of them explained to him, "I'm about to retire." He and others fear retaliation.

I first heard about this dishonoring of the name of Brandeis University from FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, where I'm on the board of advisers but never have time to attend any meetings. FIRE has advocated, and sometimes litigates for, the free-speech rights of students and professors across all ideologies and beliefs. This shows, as Justice Brandeis said, that "sunlight is the best disinfectant." Notwithstanding the indignation on campus, and elsewhere, on how this university, despite its name, has harassed Mr. Hindley as if he were a danger to what the provost accusatorily described as "the welfare of the University's students," the administration remains certain it is acting in the best interests of its students, present and future.

Indeed, in January, the provost actually wrote Mr. Hindley, not with a pledge to give him a fair hearing, let alone an apology, but with this imperial statement: "I trust [by now] you understand your responsibilities regarding the University's policies on nondiscrimination and harassment. The University now considers this matter closed." No, it isn't. Says Adam Kissel, director's of FIRE's Individual Rights Defense Program: "Brandeis has yet to explain how administrators could have so grossly misinterpreted normal classroom speech as 'harassment.' FIRE will pursue this matter until Brandeis finally applies basic standards of academic freedom and fair procedures to Donald Hindley's case." So will I.

Before writing this column, I left a message for Brandeis President Jehuda Reinharz, asking for his response. My call has not been returned. If Justice Brandeis were still here, I am sure he would call Mr. Reinharz instantly and would get a response. How I would like to hear that conversation! Said Justice Brandeis: "It is the function of speech to free men from the bondage of irrational fears." And from undereducated college administrators? Are any of the trustees of Brandeis University at all concerned with restoring its good and once-honored name? FIRE has written to each of the 45 trustees. There has been only one response, saying that the matter is being handled "competently."

Incredible.  Forget the 48 years Professor Hindley has taught at Brandeis and forget that his record there is above reproach.  I would ask the following question about an assistant professor in his first year at the school:  WHAT DID HE SAY WRONG?

And look at the fear that permeates his fellow faculty members.  They clearly believe (and rightfully so) that one "wrong word" on campus can destroy their careers.

For the record, here are a few facts that Brandeis students might be interested in learning: 

-Jews who came to this country were derisively called kikes (the origin of the term relates to how they signed their names...it's a long story, maybe I'll blog about it another time). 

-Italians who came to this country were derisively called wops (an acronym for "without papers").

-Black people were, and (though less so, I'm happy to say) continue to derisively be called niggers by some people.

-And Mexican migrant workers who crossed the border to the United States were called wetbacks.

Is it Brandeis' position that none of that can be taught?  Based on the university's idiotic, censorious intolerant (yes, intolerant) nonsense regarding Professor Hindley I suppose it must be.

After all, you might hurt someone's wiwoo sensibiwities, and we can't have that.  Not for a Brandeis student. 

Oops, I just insulted people with a speech impediment and caused them - what was it? - oh yeah, "significant emotional trauma". 

I bet that, even as we speak, Elmer Fudd is receiving counselling.


Ken Berwitz

You may have heard of a group called ACORN.  You certainly have if you read this blog.

ACORN is the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now.  Sounds very laudatory, doesn't it? But in reality ACORN is a totally corrupt organization whose main activity these days (now that the subprime scam has dried up) is trying to steal votes for Barack Obama and other Democrats. 

That is what ACORN does.  That is why there have been legal actions against ACORN in a dozen states, and it is why ACORN people ongoingly plead guilty to voter fraud and other related charges. 

Here is the latest episode in this neverending saga:

ACORN office in Vegas raided in voter-fraud probe
Oct 7 01:30 PM US/Eastern
Associated Press Writer
LAS VEGAS (AP) - Nevada state authorities are raiding the Las Vegas headquarters of an organization that works to get low-income people to vote.

A Nevada secretary of state's office spokesman said Tuesday that investigators are looking for evidence of voter fraud at the office of the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, also called ACORN.

No one was at the ACORN office when state agents arrived with a search warrant and began carting records and documents away.

Secretary of State spokesman Bob Walsh says ACORN is accused of submitting multiple voter registrations with false and duplicate names.

The raid comes two months after state and federal authorities formed a task force to pursue election-fraud allegations in Nevada.

Over and over and over again this happens with ACORN.  Yet it has been given untold millions of taxpayer dollars.  YOUR dollars.  If you want to get an idea of just how far and wide ACORN's tentacles reach, read this 2006 report.  You won't believe your eyes. 

And now it is poised to put one of its own into the white house. 

If Republicans ever even began to try a scam like this you'd be reading about it every day.  But this is for Democrats and is massively benefiting Saint Barack.  So unless you're a political junkie you barely even know ACORN exists.

If you thought the money was flowing to these frauds until now, what do you think will happen if the former ACORN worker and long-time source of funding to ACORN, Barack Obama, becomes President?

You might want to keep that in mind on election day.


Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama has repeatedly lied to our faces throughout this election campaign.  For example:

-He lied about jeremiah wright. 

-He lied about how much money he got from convicted felon slumlord antoin "tony" rezko.  

-He lied about his votes against BAIPA (the Born Alive Infant Protection Act). 

-And he lied about his relationship with terrorist scumbag william ayers.

There is less than a month to go in this campaign, and the Obama prevent defense - that is, the attempt to keep the truth from getting out before election day - is starting to crack.  The biggest crack, at least now, involves his long, close relationship with william ayers.

The New York Times had a major article on this subject last week, which suggested that Mr. Obama had only a nominal, sporadic relationship with ayers.  It was such an obvious phony coverup that even normally likeminded media venues are now openly ridiculing it.  One of them, at least to some extent, is CNN - as this article by Ed Morrissey of www.hotair.com shows:

CNN: Obamas lying about William Ayers

posted at 7:38 am on October 7, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Youll want to double-check the logo at the bottom left corner during this report.  It really is CNN and Anderson Cooper fact-checking Barack Obamas claims to have barely known William Ayers and calling it dishonest.  Stanley Kurtz even gets to make an appearance on a network other than Fox for this report (via Dirty Harrys Place):

Drew Griffin runs down most of the salient points raised by people like Kurtz, David Freddoso, Jerome Corsi, and others. Obamas admission in a debate that he briefly served on a board with Ayers with little contact gets shot down. CNN followed up on Kurtz work with the Chicago Annenberg Challenge and debunks that notion. They also amazingly report on the nature of the grants made by the CAC while Obama ran it to Ayers favored schools with radical agendas.

Griffin also tells a somewhat nonplussed Cooper that Obama has lied about his coming out party at the home of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn in 1995. Obama has said that Alice Palmer arranged the fundraiser and the venue, but Griffin spoke to two people who attended the event, who claim Obama lied. Palmer had nothing to do with that event outside of being invited to it. Obama and Ayers planned the event themselves.

Obama has lied repeatedly about his relationship with the unrepentant domestic terrorist. He spent years working for Ayers, promoting Ayers causes. Even CNN wont buy the Obama line any longer. Expect John McCain to raise this point tonight in the debate.

I have to admit I'm not as definitive about CNN's candor as Ed is.  I think Drew Griffin, and then Anderson Cooper, try a little too hard to downplay Obama's relationship with ayers.  There is too much effort to make ayers some kind of model citizen instead of the excrement pile he is.

But that aside, the conclusion Griffin correctly draws is that Barack Obama is a liar.

Is there enough time for Mr. Obama's lies to catch up with him, for his campaign to come apart?  Maybe yes and maybe no.  But if venues like CNN are not going to acquiescently cover up for him, maybe other media won't as well.

We'll see.


Ken Berwitz

This post is for anyone who has been BS'ed into believing that william ayers has given up his former anti-USA radicalism and now is just a benign academician imparting wisdom to others.

These are his remarks at the World Education Forum in Caracas, Venezuela - not 40 years ago when Barack Obama was 7 years old, but less than two years ago.  The bold print is mine:

World Education Forum

November 7, 2006
Centro Interncional Miranda
Caracas, Venezuela

November , 2006

President Hugo Chavez, Vice-President Vicente Rangel, Ministers Moncada and Isturiz, invited guests,comrades. Im honored and humbled to be here with you this morning. I bring greetings and support from your brothers and sisters throughout Northamerica. Welcome to the World Education Forum! Amamos la revolucion Bolivariana!

This is my fourth visit to Venezuela, each time at the invitation of my comrade and friend Luis Bonilla, a brilliant educator and inspiring fighter for justice. Luis has taught me a great deal about the Bolivarian Revolution and about the profound educational reforms underway here in Venezuela under the leadership of President Chavez. We share the belief that education is the motor-force of revolution, and Ive come to appreciate Luis as a major asset in both the Venezuelan and the international struggleI look forward to seeing how he and all of you continue to overcome the failings of capitalist education as you seek to create something truly new and deeply humane. Thank you, Luis, for everything youve done.

I also thank my youngest son, Chesa Boudin, who is interpreting my talk this morning and whose book on the Bolivarian revolution has played an important part in countering the barrage of lies spread by the U.S. State Department and the corrupted Northamerican media.

On my last trip to Caracas I spoke of traveling to a literacy classMission Robinson in the hills above the city along a long and winding road. As we made our way higher and higher, the talk turned to politics as it inevitably does here, and someone noted that the wealthyhere and everywhere, here and in the US surelyhave certain received opinions, a kind of absolute judgment about poor and working people, and yet they have never traveled this road, nor any road like it. They have never boarded this bus up into these hills, and not just the oligarchy or the wealthythis lack of first-hand knowledge, of open investigation, of generous regard is also a condition of the everyday liberals, and even many of the radicals and armchair intellectuals whose formulations sit lifeless and stifling in a crypt of mythology about poor people. Everyone should come and travel these roads into the hills, we agreed thenand not just once, but again and again and again if they will ever learn anything of the real conditions of life here, surely, but more important than that, if they will ever encounter the wisdom and experience and insight that lives here as well.

We arrived at eight oclock to a literacy circle already underway being conducted in a small, poorly-lit classroom. And here in an odd and dark space, a sun was shining: ten people had pulled their chairs close togethera young woman maybe 19, a grandmother maybe 65, two men in their 40seach struggling to read. And I thought of a poem called A Poor Woman Learns to Write by Margaret Atwood about a woman working laboriously to print her name in the dirt. She never thought she could do it, the poet notes, not her this writing business was for others. But she does it, prints her name, her first word so far, and she looks up and smiles for she did it right.

The woman in the poemjust like the students in Mission Robinsonis living out a universal dialectic that embodies education at its very best: she wrote her name, she changed herself, and she altered the conditions of her life. As she wrote the word, she changed the world, and another world becamesuddenly and surprisinglypossible.

I began teaching when I was 20 years old in a small freedom school affiliated with the Civil Rights Movement in the United States. The year was 1965, and Id been arrested in a demonstration. Jailed for ten days, I met several activists who were finding ways to link teaching and education with deep and fundamental social change. They were following Dewey and DuBois, King and Helen Keller who wrote: We cant have education without revolution. We have tried peace education for 1,900 years and it has failed. Let us try revolution and see what it will do now.

I walked out of jail and into my first teaching positionand from that day until this Ive thought of myself as a teacher, but Ive also understood teaching as a project intimately connected with social justice. After all, the fundamental message of the teacher is this: you can change your lifewhoever you are, wherever youve been, whatever youve done, another world is possible. As students and teachers begin to see themselves as linked to one another, as tied to history and capable of collective action, the fundamental message of teaching shifts slightly, and becomes broader, more generous: we must change ourselves as we come together to change the world. Teaching invites transformations, it urges revolutions small and large. La educacion es revolucion!

I taught at first in something like a Simoncitocalled Head Startand eventually taught at every level in barrios and prisons and insurgent projects across the United States. I learned then that education is never neutral. It always has a value, a position, a politics. Education either reinforces or challenges the existing social order, and school is always a contested space what should be taught? In what way? Toward what end? By and for whom? At bottom, it involves a struggle over the essential questions: what does it mean to be a human being living in a human society?

Totalitarianism demands obedience and conformity, hierarchy, command and control. Royalty requires allegiance. Capitalism promotes racism and militarism turning people into consumers, not citizens. Participatory democracy, by contrast, requires free people coming together voluntarily as equals who are capable of both self-realization and, at the same time, full participation in a shared political and economic life.

Education contributes to human liberation to the extent that people reflect on their lives, and, becoming more conscious, insert themselves as subjects in history. To be a good teacher means above all to have faith in the people, to believe in the possibility that people can create and change things. Education is not preparation for life, but rather education is life itself ,an active process in which everyone students and teachers participates as co-learners.

Despite being under constant attack from within and from abroad, the Bolivarian revolution has made astonishing strides in a brief period: from the Mission Simoncito to the Mission Robinson to the Mission Ribas to the Mission Sucre, to the Bolivarian schools and the UBV, Venezuelans have shown the world that with full participation, full inclusion, and popular empowerment, the failings of capitalist schooling can be resisted and overcome. Venezuela is a beacon to the world in its accomplishment of eliminating illiteracy in record time, and engaging virtually the entire population in the ongoing project of education.

The great Chilean poet Pablo Neruda wrote a poem to his fellow writers called The Poets Obligation in which he instructed them in their core responsibility: you must, he said, become aware of your sisters and brothers who are trapped in subjugation and meaninglessness, imprisoned in ignorance and despair. You must move in and out of windows carrying a vision of the vast oceans just beyond the bars of the prison a message of hope and possibility. Neruda ends with this: it is through me that freedom and the sea will call in answer to the shrouded heart.

Let those of us who are gathered here today read this poem as The Teachers Obligation. We, too, must move in and out of windows, we, too, must build a project of radical imagination and fundamental change. Venezuela is poised to offer the world a new model of education a humanizing and revolutionary model whose twin missions are enlightenment and liberation. This World Education Forum provides us a unique opportunity to develop and share the lessons and challenges of this profound educational project that is the Bolivarian Revolution.

Viva Mission Sucre!
Viva Presidente Chavez!
Viva La Revolucion Bolivariana!
Hasta La Victoria Siempre!

I'm sure Barack Obama had no idea.........


NOTE:  Here's a little something about Chesa Boudin, whom ayers refers to as "my youngest son".  He isn't ayers' son. 

Chesa Boudin is the son of david gilbert and kathy boudin, fellow members of the weather underground, who are currently in prison for their 1981 bombing that killed two police officers.  If it weren't for prosecutorial error, ayers and his wife bernardine dohrn would be in prison too.  They were never cleared of a thing and, in fact, have proudly acknowledged their bombings.

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