Wednesday, 17 December 2008


Ken Berwitz

I do a lot a railing about media bias in this blog. 

It is not because I want to be a tiresome, one-note critic.  It is because there are new examples of media bias virtually ever day.  I am not rehashing the same ones, I am adding to a list that is already voluminous, and getting bigger all the time.

Here is a commentary by Paul Mirengoff of about the Washington Post's article on that shoe-throwing "journalist".  Please read it through, and see why I (along with Paul) write about media bias so often:

Washington Post lionizes anti-Bush shoe thrower, Part Two

When an American politician gets into trouble, conservatives like to play the game, "name that party." This is a reference to the fact that if the politician is a Republican, leftist news outlets like the Washington Post will make that fact clear in the first paragraph, whereas if he or she is a Democrat, this news probably won't appear until much later in the piece.

In the case of Muntadar al-Zaidi, the shoe throwing Iraqi journalist, we can play a variant of the same game -- name the sect. For as all readers of organs like the Post know, sect (Sunni or Shiite) is everything in Iraq. It was the Bush administration's alleged inability to grasp this core reality that, according to the MSM's narrative, led us to bring Iraq to the brink of disaster in 2005-2006.

Thus, it seems highly relevant to ask: what sect does Muntadar al-Zaidi belong to?

Unfortunately, the Wasington Post, in today's story about the shoe tosser -- "Flying Shoes Create a Hero In Arab World" -- provides no answer. The story is full of facts about Zaidi. The mistreatment of prisons at Abu Ghraib angered him; he is unmarried; he was the head of the "student union" in college; he is against the recently signed U.S. - Iraq security agreement. But Post reporter Sudarsan Raghavan has no intention of informing us where Zaidi stands in the Iraqi sectarian/political spectrum that brought Iraq to the verge of civil war not long ago.

This is not an oversight. Raghavan plainly does not want us to diminish Zaidi by locating him in the vicious, partisan world of Iraqi politics. He wants instead that we see Zaidi as an Iraqi patriot or, even better, an Arab hero.

To this end, Raghavan informs us that "thousands of Iraqis demonstrated in the streets demanding [Zaidi's] release from Iraqi custody." The use of the marginally informative word "thousands" to quantify a demonstration is a good sign that the author is attempting to pump up a cause. The cause Raghavan pumps up here is Bush hatred.

At the very end of the story, Raghavan notes that followers of Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets to support Zaidi. We also learn that in Sadr city, protesters burned American flags and claimed "we pushed [Bush] out with two shoes."

Does this mean that Zaidi is a Shiite and/or supporter of Moqtada al-Sadr? Beats me. But the fact that he is celebrated by the faction that, other than al Qaeda and (of course) the Saddamists, has lost the most by virtue of the success of Bush's policies is telling.

In war, there are winners, losers, and sore losers. Zaidi, his "thousands" of Iraqis supporters, and his admirers in other Arab nations appear to belong to the sore loser group. By lionizing Zaidi, the Post conveys the impression (which must be false) that it does too.

SCOTT adds: Jim Hoft tracks down reports showing Zaide to be a fan of al-Sadr. Reader Frank Warner writes:

The New York Times reported, deep in one story, that several people who know him said Zaidi was a Baathist who became a Sadrist "after the war." I guess that means, not only that Zaidi has high hopes for another dictatorship in Iraq, but that the war is over.

Warner cites this New York Times article.

I remember a joke that went around many years ago, during the cold war between the USA and USSR.  After a track meet between the two countries which the USA won, Pravda published a front page story that started:

"The USSR just completed an international track meet.  We finished second.  The USA came in next to last"

There are two kinds of lies; lies of commission and lies of omission.

A lie of commission - i.e. when something is said that is not true - is bad.  But a lie of omission - i.e. when everything said is true, but parts are selectively left out so that the conclusions are wrong - is far worse.  And far harder to detect, since there is no overt lie to uncover.

Shame on the Washington Post for printing this lie-of-omission article.


Ken Berwitz

Here is a letter to the editor from today's New York Times.  It addresses the selection of a replacement for Senator Hillary Clinton, who will leave that position to become the Secretary of State.

I am posting the letter with no commentary, because it doesn't need any:

To the Editor:

It is amusing that Andrew M. Cuomo, who owes his whole career to his dad, may not get the Senate seat of Hillary Rodham Clinton (who owes her whole career to her husband) because David A. Paterson (who owes his whole career to his dad) may give it to Caroline Kennedy (who owes her whole career to her dad).

You would think a state as large as New York could find someone who deserves something on his or her own.

David Machlowitz

Westfield, N.J., Dec. 16, 2008


Ken Berwitz

Earlier today I blogged that the Washington Post published a disagracefully biased story.  So I thought I would present the other side - a story that nails Bill Richardson - usually an untouchable in mainstream media, and one of Barack Obama's intended cabinet members:

Grand Jury Investigates Richardson Contributor
By Carol D. Leonnig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 16, 2008; A04

A federal grand jury is investigating whether a financial firm improperly won more than $1.4 million in work for the state of New Mexico shortly after making contributions to political action committees of Gov. Bill Richardson (D).

The probe focuses on whether the governor's office urged a state agency to hire CDR Financial Products. The probe is in a highly active stage at a time when President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Richardson as his nominee for secretary of commerce, according to two sources familiar with the investigation.

The grand jury in Albuquerque is expected to hear testimony today from several key witnesses, including officials at Richard's political action committees and bankers at J.P. Morgan who worked with CDR on the state's investments.

The inquiry is part of a long-running nationwide investigation into "pay-to-play" practices in local government bond markets. In other cities, federal investigators are questioning whether financial firms have lavished politicians with money and gifts in exchange for fee-paying work advising municipal and local governments on investments. Authorities indicted the mayor of Birmingham, Ala., this month on charges of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and loans from a firm that led the city into toxic investments and massive bankruptcy.

In the New Mexico case, the FBI and federal prosecutors are investigating how CDR, based in Beverly Hills, Calif., won lucrative fees from the New Mexico Finance Authority in 2004 soon after donating $100,000 to two Richardson organizations.

From 2003 to 2004, CDR Financial gave $75,000 to S Se Puede, which paid for expenses at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. CDR's president and founder, David Rubin, also gave $25,000 to Moving America Forward, which funded Richardson's efforts to register Hispanic and American Indian voters.

Rubin was generous to Obama's campaign as well, giving $29,000 to help elect the senator to the White House. Yesterday, the Obama transition office declined to comment on the development.

Gilbert Gallegos, a spokesman for Richardson, said the governor was "aware of questions surrounding some financial transactions at the New Mexico Finance Authority" and expected state officials to cooperate fully. Gallegos declined further comment.

The U.S. attorney's office in New Mexico also declined to comment on the investigation, which began in the summer. Several Finance Authority board members have publicly confirmed being interviewed by the FBI. Paul Kennedy, an attorney for Richardson's former chief of staff, David Harris, confirmed that his client had been interviewed by the FBI in the summer but declined to comment further.

CDR's attorney, Richard Beckler, declined to answer questions about the probe's focus.

"CDR has always tried to abide by these byzantine campaign finance regulations and is cooperating fully with this investigation," Beckler said in a telephone interview yesterday.

CDR made $1.48 million advising the authority on interest-rate swaps and refinancing of funds related to $1.6 billion in transportation bonds issued by the agency, state officials confirmed. Interest-rate swaps are financial contracts based on the value of commodities, loans or other assets, and debtors sometimes use them to lower borrowing costs. But many swaps have recently proven unwise as the assets upon which they were based plummeted in value.

The state hired CDR after requesting proposals for a bond adviser on Dec. 30, 2003. Sources familiar with the investigation said CDR initially did not make the list of the top three bidders. But the authority committee considering the bids redid the selection process and split some work, eventually hiring CDR for a part.

Committee Chairman Rick Homans was Richardson's economic development secretary at the time. He is now Richardson's taxation and revenue secretary and has declined to comment.

This can't be good.  Certainly not for Bill Richardson and certainly not for Barack Obama, who already is dealing - ineffectively and dishonestly - with the blogojevich scandal in his home state of Illinois.

But as troubling as the situation is for Mr. Obama, I bet I know one major Democrat who is happy to see this go down.  I won't mention names; only that she is the Presidential candidate Richardson sandbagged when he tossed his support to Obama. 

See if you can guess.......


Ken Berwitz

In case you're wondering how it works in the culture that spawned shoe-thrower muntazer al-zeidi, read this Reuters story that comes to us via

Egyptian man offers daughter to Bush shoe thrower Muntazer al-Zaidi

Reuters  December 18, 2008 03:24am

AN Egyptian man is offering his 20-year-old daughter in marriage to Iraqi journalist Muntazer al-Zaidi, who threw his shoes at US President George W. Bush.

Saad Gumaa said he had called Dergham, al-Zaidi's brother, to tell him of the offer.

"I find nothing more valuable than my daughter to offer to him, and I am prepared to provide her with everything needed for marriage," Mr Gumaa said.

His daughter, Amal Saad Gumaa, said she agreed with the idea. 

 "This is something that would honour me. I would like to live in Iraq, especially if I were attached to this hero," she said.

Al-Zaidi's gesture has struck a chord across the Arab world, where Mr Bush is widely despised for invading Iraq in 2003 and for his support for Israel.

Amal is a student in the media faculty at Minya University in central Egypt.

Al-Zaidi's response to the proposal was not known.

The reporter was wrestled to the floor after throwing the shoes during a press conference by Mr Bush in Baghdad on Sunday.

Got that?  The father treats his 20 year old daughter like a possession, and she's fine with it - presumably because she knows no other way.  If there is a mother, she has no say at all in the matter.

And remember; the daughter is a university student!  What are they teaching her there?  Advanced-placement submission?

Do you have a daughter?  If so, I wouldn't try telling her she is your possession and to go get married to the guy you picked - the "hero" whose great acccomplishment was taking off his shoes and throwing them (do they give medals for that?)

On the other hand, if you and your daughter live within those cultural norms, it will be just fine.

Still wondering why we are fighting to keep western civilization alive?


Ken Berwitz

I haven't done this before, but there's always a first time for everything.

A week ago I blogged about Karl and Mona Malden celebrating their 70th anniversary.  I did it early for reasons described in the original post:

Well, today is their actual anniversary day.  So here is a re-post of what I wrote then:


Ken Berwitz

It is one week early.  But, given the news about rod blagojerkovich, his chief of staff John Harris, Jesse Jackson Jr. (aka Senate Candidate #5), tony rezko and just about every other Democratic politician in Illinois -- other than Saint Barack of course -- I thought the state could use a boost.

So I am writing to acknowledge, and celebrate, Chicago-born Academy Award-winning actor Karl Malden and his wife on their 70th wedding anniversary, which will take place one week from tomorrow.

Mr. Malden (whose real name is Mladen Sekulovich), married the former Mona Greenberg on December 18, 1938.  Two daughters and just about 70 years later, they are still married.

Karl Malden was a wonderful actor with great range.  I say that in the past tense because, except for one small part on the West Wing in 2000, he has not acted in 15 years. 

That's too bad.  He improved any show he was in.

Mr. Malden won the Oscar for his 1951 portrayal of Harold "Mitch" Mitchell in "A Streetcar Named Desire".  But, for my money, he could as easily have won as Father Barry in "On the Waterfront" (for which he was also nominated) and/or General Omar Bradley in "Patton"

And who could ever forget him as Detective Lt. Mike Stone in "The Streets Of San Francisco", or as the American Express spokesman warning us "Don't Leave Home Without It".

So happy anniversary to the Maldens!  May your twilight years be great ones.  And, in these black days for Illinois, may we all remember that Chicago gave us something far better than its current run of politicians.  Chicago gave us Mladen Sekulovich.

I meant it then and I mean it now.  I hope today's anniversary is joyous, and subsequent anniversaries will be for years to come.

Al Hey ken--long time no see Karl was also great,IMHO a vastly underated film "One Eyed Jacks" with Brando I think the Feds granted the Yanks an exemption to print their own money. (12/18/08)


Ken Berwitz

The Illinios Supreme Court refused to remove Governor rod blagojevich from office today. 

Much though it pains me to say so, the court is obviously correct.  Blagojevich may stand accused of everything, but he is convicted of nothing.  Yet.

Here are the particulars, from

Illinois court rejects attempt to remove governor
Dec 17 04:34 PM US/Eastern
The Illinois supreme court Wednesday rejected a bid to remove the state's corruption-tainted governor from office in the wake of charges he tried to sell president-elect Barack Obama's vacant senate seat.

The state's attorney general asked the court last week to impose a restraining order stripping Rod Blagojevich of the bulk of his powers while considering her request to have him temporarily replaced by the state's lieutenant governor.

"In light of his arrest in the filing of the criminal complaint, Governor Blagojevich can no longer fulfill his official duties with any legitimacy," Lisa Madigan said Friday after filing the requests.

The court denied her request without comment, an order filed Wednesday showed.

Blagojevich has so far refused mounting calls to resign after he was arrested on December 9 amid an FBI investigation that accuses him of a staggering pattern of corruption, including refusing to free up funds for a children's hospital until he received a 50,000-dollar campaign contribution.

State legislators launched an inquiry Monday to determine if there were grounds for impeachment.

Will blagojerkovich be forced out?  Almost certainly yes.  But not without a deal, which I would bet anything he is working on right now. 

A man who would sell a senate seat isn't going to go quietly off into the night, facing felony charges. 

blagojevich is not stupid.  He knows that every day in office is a potential disaster for Barack Obama, Rahm Emanuel, and the rest of Chicago's Democratic thugocracy. 

And what if he starts talking?  Do you doubt that there are a great many polticians besides blagojevich who stand to lose here?

If you think this is as dirty as it gets, you don't know Illinois and you especially don't know Chicago.  Keep your eyes open; the fun is just beginning.



Ken Berwitz

Remember drew peterson, the former cop whose wives have a nasty habit of becoming prematurely dead or "missing"?

Read this AP story.  And get ready to gag:

CHICAGO (AP) A publicist for Drew Peterson, the former Illinois police sergeant suspected in the disappearance of his wife, says the ex-officer is engaged to be married again.

Publicist Glenn Selig says 54-year-old Drew Peterson proposed within the last week after dating the woman for about four months.

Selig says the woman is 23 the same age as Stacy Peterson when she disappeared in October 2007.

Illinois state police call Peterson a suspect in the disappearance of his wife but no charges have been filed against the former officer from the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook

Peterson claims his wife left him for another man.

peterson is engaged?  I don't know the lucky bride-to-be, but I'm betting she is not a member of MENSA. 

And drew peterson has a publicist?  For what - to allocate interviews after #5 (that's right, his fifth wife) suddenly "leaves him for another man" by dropping off the face of the earth?

This is from downtown Pukeville. 


Ken Berwitz

Would you say that it is child abuse to name your children Adolf Hitler and Aryan Nations?  I sure would.

I have many disagreements with, but on this we couldn't be more in synch.  Here is the story from C&L's David Neiwert:

How twisted is this: Naming your child after Hitler

Aryan Nations Campbell and her daddy_34900.JPG

I never really know what to do with stories about messed-up white-supremacist parents who force their kids into their lifestyle and all that it contains, like the "Prussian Blue" Gaede twins. My first impulse is to keep the kids out of the discussion, even though their parents have dragged them into it.

But damn. This is just sad:

HOLLAND TWP. | In a living room decorated with war books, German combat knives and swastikas, a 2-year-old boy, blond and blue-eyed, played with a plastic dinner set.

The boy, asked his name, put down a tiny plate and ran behind his father's leg. He flashed a shy smile but wouldn't answer. Heath Campbell, 35, the boy's father, encouraged him.

"Say Adolf," said Campbell, a Holocaust denier who has three children named for Nazism.

Again, the boy wouldn't answer. It wasn't the first time the name caused hesitation.

Adolf Hitler Campbell -- it's indeed the name on his birth certificate -- turns 3 today, and the Campbell family believes the boy has been mistreated. A local supermarket refused to make a birthday cake with "Adolf Hitler" on it.

Yes, the Campbells are raising a stink because the local Shop Rite won't make a birthday cake with little Adolph's name on it. And to be honest, I'm not sure the store's rationale is viable. But on the other hand, you have to wonder about any parent who would do this to their kids -- not only name them "Adolf Hitler" and "Aryan Nations" but then make public political causes celebre of them.

Especially a mother who can rationalize it to herself thus:

"I just figured that they're just names," Deborah Campbell said. "They're just kids. They're not going to hurt anybody."

Heath Campbell said some people like the names but others are shocked to hear them. "They say, 'He (Hitler) killed all those people.' I say, 'You're living in the wrong decade. That Hitler's gone,'" he said.

"They're just names, you know," he said. "Yeah, they (Nazis) were bad people back then. But my kids are little. They're not going to grow up like that."

Sorry, lady, but "Adolf Hitler" is not just a name. It's the name of the man directly responsible for the murders of 6 million Jews and millions more in other liquidations and his wars. It's a name that signifies real, living evil to many millions of people still living. And you pay homage to him by naming a child after him.

And don't get me started on "Aryan Nations".

I just hope young Adolf and Aryan have the inner strength to grow up normal, which some of these kids actually manage to do. And that's probably the sweetest comeuppance for their parents of all.

Good for ShopRite to say no to these two abominations on legs.  It's bad enough that they abuse their children this way;  the local supermarket doesn't have to abet them in doing it.

Neiwert hopes that these children can somehow escape the pathologies they are being ingrained with.  So do I -- but I'm very skeptical about it actually happening.  When you are this age, your parents are your world.  That's some hell of a world these two innocent children are trapped in.

In the USA, people are free to be the best they can be.  And the worst.  If you have any doubt that this is true, reread the story above.

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