Monday, 22 December 2008


Ken Berwitz

The Media Research Center is a conservative site for news and commentary, led by L. Brent Bozell.  Every year it picks out the most "notable quotables" from media - i.e. the quotes that, in its view, are most egregiously biased.

Here is the winner, and the top two runners-up, for 2008:

The winner:   

Co-anchor Chris Matthews: I have to tell you, you know, its part of reporting this case, this election, the feeling most people get when they hear Barack Obamas speech. My I felt this thrill going up my leg. I mean, I dont have that too often.
Co-anchor Keith Olbermann: Steady.
Matthews: No, seriously. Its a dramatic event. He speaks about America in a way that has nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the feeling we have about our country. And that is an objective assessment.
Exchange during MSNBCs coverage of the Virginia, Maryland and Washington D.C. primaries, February 12.


The runners-up in order of their appearance on tghe MRC site:


Media bias largely unseen in U.S. presidential race
Headline over November 6 Reuters dispatch claiming no liberal tilt in favor of Barack Obama.

Im not that convinced that thats her baby....The daughter who we know is fertile because shes knocked up again, or maybe for the first time...she did like take a five-month leave from high school because she had [uses fingers to indicate quote marks] mononucleosis right around the time the baby was being born. And the mother, the so-called, you know, okay, maybe it is the mother, but, you know, she was back to work three days later. You dont smell something?...Its not like theyre not willing to lie about everything else.
HBOs Bill Maher on Real Time, September 5, promoting the left-wing conspiracy theory that Sarah Palins infant son is actually her daughter Bristols baby.


Could global warming one day force us into space to live?
ABCs Sam Champion teasing an upcoming segment on Good Morning America, February 8.

In addition to these gems, there are equally imbecilic quotes for a variety of specific categories.  you can see them all by clicking here.

Ok, now go ahead.  Ask me about the most notable quotables for conservative mainstream media journalists.  I dare you.


Ken Berwitz

Here, for no particular reason, is a little compendium of the weekend's activities:

-On Saturday we drove into the city with our dear friends and saw Billy Elliott.  I love Saturday matinees because, instead of stuffing your face hurriedly before an evening show, you sit back relaxedly, enjoy the performance without suppressing burps (or worse) and then have a leisurely dinner ahead of you. 

The show was excellent.  Great, great talent on that stage and amazing dance sequences -- though I have to say there is not even one memorable song  (that's quite a surprise, it being Elton John and all);

-Dinner was at one of our favorite places in lower Manhattan:  Piccolo Angolo on the southwest corner of Hudson and Jane.  Renato, the owner and resident personality (to say he gives the place character would be to grossly understate) somehow screwed up our reservation, but fit us in anyway. 

The food was just great.  And Renato's son Peter, who works with his father, wandered over several times to talk baseball, hockey and whatever else we could think of.  Nice young man. 

If you're looking for a quiet and intimate repast, you should avoid Piccolo Angolo like the bubonic plague.  But if you're looking for a really fun time and terrific Italian food, you should come running;

-Yesterday my beautiful wife dragged me to a bunch of stores.  It's the weekend before Christmas (which we don't celebrate) and I'm doing Christmas shopping.  Yeah, there were things we needed, thus reasons to be at those stores, but every year it seems as though we wind up with a flurry of December shopping at the worst possible time.  If there is any blame here, it's probably mine (actually it isn't, but she might read this);

-One stop was Barnes & Noble, where we bought several books for our transcendentally fabulous grandson and other children we'll be seeing this week.  While we were in the children's section there were two little ones, apparently brother and sister, sitting on the floor animatedly reading/looking at a book together and oblivious to everyone around them  It was so sweet that I just stopped what I was doing to watch.  Love to see this kind of thing

-Later that afternoon it was off to the movies.  We saw Slumdog Millionaire.  It is very, very depressing and unpleasant.  It is also a bit hard to follow at times.  Even the "happy ending" is not really happy.  But the story is extremely engaging, the acting - especially the children who play Jamal and Salim - but most especially Dev Patel as the older version of Jamal - is great.  I recommend it....but don't expect to stroll out humming the tunes.

-When we got back from the theater I checked Turner Classic Movies a few days ahead, fully expecting to see the classic 1951 version of A Christmas Carol (now called "Scrooge", for legal reasons I suppose), starring Alistair Sim.  Unfortunately, TCM is not showing that version; it is showing the 1938 Reginald Owen one. 

Reginald Owen was a fine actor.  But, of the dozen or so versions of this film that were made, nothing even comes close to Alistair Sim and Mervyn Johns as Scrooge and Cratchit. 

-We also fit in a quick stop at Wegman's to get groceries, and bought salmon for dinner.  I braved the ridiculously cold and windy weather to grill it outdoors (if the NY Giants can play outdoors in that weather for hours, dammit, I can grill a piece of fish).  Food always tastes better from the grill -- and Wegman's always seems to have the best salmon.  My wife calls its texture "velvety";

-Speaking of the NY Giants, they looked as if they were going to be blown away last night (take that as a reference to both the game itself and the wind, which really kicked up as it went on).  At one point, Carolina had a 21 - 10 lead and the ball.  But they came back, with a stirring 2 point conversion right at the end to tie things at 28.  Then Derrick Ward and Brandon Jacobs ran them downfield and into the end zone for a 34 - 28 win. 

Special tips of my (non-existent) hat to Jacobs, who was amazing even though he played hurt, Ward, who ran for an incredible 215 yards, averaging 14  per carry (that's not a typo either), Justin Tuck who played with the flu and showed us all what sucking it up is all about -- and, of course, Eli Manning, who was tremendous, especially on third down.

Ok, enough.  It's Monday.  Back to work.


Ken Berwitz

John Lott and Ryan Lott (who is a college student and, I suspect, John's son) have written a clear-as-a-bell primer on how Norm Coleman's senate seat is being stolen.  

Here it is, complete with ballot-by-ballot examples:

Ballot Madness: Tipping the Scales in Minnesota's Senate Recount

Monday , December 22, 2008

John R. Lott, Jr. and Ryan S. Lott

The Canvassing Board overseeing the vote recount for Minnesotas tightly contested U.S. Senate race isnt quite done examining disputed ballots, but the board issued a projection Saturday night that Al Franken will pick up 270 votes when it finishes. Currently the board is determining voter intent in disputed ballots. If the projection proves correct, Franken will beat incumbent Sen. Norm Coleman by 78 votes.

Vote totals have changed a lot since Nov. 4, when Coleman led Franken by 725 votes. Correcting typos cut Colemans margin to 215, and a recount by all the counties reduced it further to 192. Yet, the additional 270 votes picked up by Franken from the Canvassing Boards decisions have been among the most controversial.

The vote pickup has occurred through two actions by the board divining voter intent and determining what votes should be counted. While decisions to include missing or overlooked ballots have gotten the most attention, the process of determining intent has also been important in determining the outcome here.

The Canvassing Board faces a difficult task in divining voter intentions. It is very difficult to determine how a voter meant to vote simply by looking at what might be stray marks on the ballot. And whatever rules are adopted must be consistently used in evaluating all ballots.

Some board decisions on votes are exceedingly difficult to understand, and even watching the television coverage of their decisions this last week provided little additional insight. Here is an example where the Minnesota Canvassing Board claims the vote is clearly for Franken. Voters are supposed to fill in the small oval next to a candidates name to vote for that candidate. The board explains its decision as there being "No Dup" (presumably meaning that there was no duplicate ballot), but it is not clear how that would switch what looks like an obvious Coleman vote to a Franken vote.

What to do when voters change their minds at the last moment or accidentally fill in the wrong oval? In such a case, the voters are supposed to ask for a new clean ballot. But the board presumes that some voters who change their minds simply put an X through the blacked-out oval. Even if the voter doesnt blacken an oval for another candidate, an X through an oval is interpreted as the voter changing his mind. There is a claimed exception to this rule: if all the votes for each candidate that a voter supports are simultaneously marked by both filling in the oval and an X, voters are assumed to support those candidates.

The primary problem isnt the rules. The real problem is the lack of consistency. Take some of the ballots that only marked the oval for Coleman, but where the oval is also marked through with an X. The Canvassing Board determined that those marks meant those voters intended to support other/no one. Here are a couple of examples, with more here.

Yet, there are a number of cases where the exact same markings for Franken were decided by the Canvassing Board to result in votes for Franken. More can be found here.

But to make the case even more strange, given this rule, what should the board decide when the oval is filled in for Coleman, but the Franken space is marked with an X? The board ruled that the vote is for Franken.

Nor can Coleman even win when there is an oval filled in for Coleman and the Constitution Party candidate receives an X. In that case, the board determined the support went to other/no one.

But if you have an oval filled in for Franken and the Independence Party candidate receives an oval with an X, the vote is given to Franken.

There are other cases where the ballots are clearly marked for Coleman, though the marks were relatively small, and the board awarded the votes to no one.

There are still other cases where it is hard to see how the board could legitimately declare certain votes for Franken. For example, a voter filled out neither the oval for Coleman nor for Franken, but colored in the area in between the two candidates. Part of the blob touches the edge of Colemans oval and one thin line goes slightly into Frankens oval, and for 28 other races on the ballot the voter seems to have been able to fill out the required ovals there is only one other case where he missed. Perhaps the board saw that the voter was voting for other Democrats and used that to help influence its decision, but there were a number of Democrats who voted for Obama and other Democrats, but not Franken.

Still the most obvious classification would have been not for Franken, but for no one, what most readers of the Minneapolis Star Tribune thought was the right answer.

Mistakes were also made against Franken, but they were much less common.

The Canvassing Board has made a number of other controversial decisions. For example, 10 days ago, news headlines proclaimed Franken Wins Big at Canvassing Board. One decision, to count 133 so-called missing ballots in Minneapolis Ward 3, precinct 1, immediately gave Franken an extra 46 more votes than Coleman. That decision by itself gives Franken most of his projected winning margin.

There has been much arbitrariness over whether to count newly found votes. Compare these 133 additional votes to the 171 votes that were found in Ramsey Countys Maplewood Precinct 6. In Precinct 6, Franken argued that the original vote total had missed the 171 votes because the voting machine was initially not working and the 171 were not rerun through the new machine that replaced the original defective one. However, Republicans were concerned that the newly found ballots might not have been really cast on Election Day.

Since the recount showed that there were 171 more ballots than recorded votes, the decision was to add in the ballots, giving Franken a net gain of 37 votes.

Contrast this to the 133 ballots in Minneapolis. The 133-vote problem arose because more votes were recorded on Election Day than were found when the recount was conducted. The initial explanation was that the ballots must have been accidentally run through the voting machine twice that no votes were missing, but that 133 had just been accidentally counted twice. The Canvassing Board however decided not to rely on the recount and instead on the original machine totals.

The only commonality in these two decisions was that the outcome benefited Franken. When the recount is in Frankens favor that is used. When the original machine tally works best that is used.

Ignoring the questions with correcting the typos and discovered ballots in an election judges car, the Canvassing Boards decisions have easily supplied more than the 78 vote lead that the board projects Franken to end up with. Yet, the Canvassing Boards choices will leave long lasting questions about the legitimacy of any win.

I don't think this could be much clearer, do you? 

Get ready for al fraudken, the bogus United States senator from Minnesota.

Ken Berwitz All that anger over a single ballot? I'll assume you're right. How does it change the point being made here? And about that mostly-Republican canvassing board: You neglected to mention that two of the Republican members, Eric Magnusun and G. Barry Anderson, recused themselves from this procedure. My comments stand as written. (12/22/08)

Ruggles This is an outrageous distortion. The Canvassing Board has more Republicans than Democrats, and every ballot they judged was watched live by thousands on the web. How could the Board have made such an egregious error as Lott and Lott claim, to count an obvious Coleman vote for Franken? Well, the answer is it didn't. That ballot (Minneapolis W-4 P-08 challenge 3), as can be seen on the Minnesota Secretary of State website, was not one of the Franken challenges reviewed by the canvassing board. It was on a list of ballots that Franken would have raised if the Canvassing Board had decided to review the duplicate ballot issue. But they did not, so the challenge was withdrawn, and the vote is being counted for Coleman. In short, the main premise for the article is wrong: the Star Tribune website simply has an error. This shows a remarkable lack of diligence on the part of the authors. (12/22/08)


Ken Berwitz

I remember very well when Vice President Dick Cheney told Vermont senator patrick leahy to do something acrobatic that not very many people would be able to manage (how's that for a sanitized version)?

I remember very well that it happened after leahy had spent months making accusations of dishonesty against Cheney that he could not back up - not then, not since.

And I remember being thrilled that he did it.  I consider leahy an absolute two-faced lying skunk so it was greatly satisfying that Cheney decided to treat him like one. 

Now, four and a half years later, it is more than a little pleasing to find that Mr. Cheney is entirely unrepentant about this little episode - as you can tell by the following CNN article which reports on Mr. Cheney's Sunday interview with Fox News Channel (note:  it includes a link to the original CNN story from June of 2004):

December 21, 2008
Posted: 04:10 PM ET

Vice President Dick Cheney said he isn't sorry for calling a senator the f-word.

WASHINGTON (CNN) Vice President Dick Cheney said Sunday that Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, deserved it when Cheney launched the f-word at him in 2004.

In an interview with "Fox News Sunday," Cheney was asked if he had any second thoughts or embarrassment. "No. I thought he merited it at the time," Cheney said, laughing.

The incident occurred in June 2004 when both Cheney and Leahy were on the Senate floor.

Sources who related the incident to CNN at the time said the vice president had told Leahy to either "f off" or "go f yourself."

Read more on the incident

The encounter during the 2004 presidential campaign, sources said then, was brought on by Leahy's criticism of the vice president over Halliburton Co. Cheney is the former chief executive officer of the oil field services company, and Democrats had suggested he helped win lucrative contracts for his former firm while serving in the Bush administration.

"It was partly that, it was partly also it had to do with he is the kind of individual who will make those kinds of charges and then come act as though he's your best friend, and I expressed in no uncertain terms my views of his conduct and walked away," Cheney said at the time.

But as the old saying goes, time heals all wounds well, sort of.

"And we've since, I think, patched over that wound and we're civil to one another now," Cheney said this Sunday.

How nice to find that Dick Cheney sticks to his guns.  He hasn't changed a bit. 

But, then again, neither has leahy, so that's just fine with me.


Ken Berwitz

Burt Prelutsky is a very successful, very prolific writer.  And he is  a political conservative in Hollywood, so you know he has guts.

Mr. Prelutsky also writes a column for  Today's topic is college diversity.  Since I found myself alternately laughing and nodding in agreement while reading it, I thought you might enjoy it too. 

So here it is:

The Dumbing Down of Academe
by Burt Prelutsky

Just when you think the folks on the left can't get any goofier, they go and surpass themselves. If silliness were an Olympic event, these lunkheads could be counted on to bring home the gold. The fool's gold, that is.

Actually, they could probably excel in the sprints, seeing as how they're not weighed down with a whole lot of common sense. In case you haven't gotten the word, the religious left, as I like to think of them, seeing as how they live their lives by a certain dogma, have now determined that poor people are terribly under-represented on America's college campuses. It was, I suppose, only a matter of time. After all, if no institute of higher education can justify its existence unless its student population is composed of X-percent of women, Hispanics, blacks, gays and the physically handicapped, some Democrat was bound to notice that there still remained an untapped source of future votes; namely, poor, young whites.

Diversity in the student body is the catch phrase. But, as you may have noticed, there is no parallel diversity along the faculties. In the humanities departments of most American colleges, professors run the gamut from liberal to radical. Given a choice between Ahmadinejad and a Republican, a large majority would vote for the little schmuck in the windbreaker.

Frankly, I see no reason to give preferential treatment to students for no better reason than that their parents are poor. If a mix of humanity is what they're really seeking, I say they should throw open the doors to idiots. And, no, I'm not referring to those aforementioned professors in the liberal arts who get paid a lot of money for doing nothing more than foisting their half-baked politics on a bunch of highly impressionable 18-year-olds. No, I'm talking about the genuine article -- people with subterranean I.Q.s.

I mean, if diversity is of such monumental importance, why limit it to race, gender and national origin? Obviously, members of these groups have far more in common with each other than they have with the intellectually- challenged -- or whatever it is that the P.C. crowd is calling dumb people this week.

Honestly, I haven't a clue why college would be a more exalting experience just because the student in the next seat has different pigmentation or hails from a country where indoor plumbing is optional.

Admittedly, it's been many years since I was a collegian. Still, as I recall, the real value of the four years, aside from learning how to drink and how to talk to women without stuttering, was the enforced proximity to the minds and works of Socrates, Newton, Freud, Shakespeare, Plato, Milton, Michelangelo, Einstein, Da Vinci and Jefferson, and was neither enhanced nor diminished by the color or creed of the other students.

The truth of the matter was that my interest in my fellow scholars, and I don't think my attitude was at all atypical, was limited to wanting to date the more attractive coeds and wanting to eviscerate those brainiacs most likely to raise the class curve.

Inasmuch as smart, poor kids already receive academic scholarships, one can only assume that it's the stupid ones whom the social engineers are trying to cram through the ivied portals. But, inasmuch as once in, they're destined to flunk out, I have a better solution. I suggest we take our lead from "The Wizard of Oz." The Scarecrow, as you may recall, didn't waste four years boning up for final exams. The great and powerful Oz merely handed him a diploma, and just like that, Ray Bolger was squaring the hypotenuse and jabbering away like a young William F. Buckley, Jr.

Why not give diplomas to anybody who wants one? In a day and age when people are wasting their parents' hard-earned money majoring in things like Gay Studies, Sit Coms of the 60's, and Comic Books as Literature, why not do the decent thing and just hand out sheepskins to anyone who says, "Please"? A built-in bonus of my plan is that with all those goobers off the campuses, there would be additional parking spaces for the people studying to be doctors, mathematicians, and scientists.

After all, when all is said and done, most college graduates aren't really smarter than other people. They just think they are.

"Given a choice between Ahmadinejad and a Republican, a large majority ( of professors) would vote for the little schmuck in the windbreaker"?  You have to love this man.

I'll put up more Prelutsky in the future.  It's worth our while to read what he has to say.


Ken Berwitz

Here, from a larger article, is Victor David Hanson's take on the "qualifications" Caroline Kennedy would bring to the United States senate:

Caroline Kennedys MomentA Sad Reflection of Our Times

The probable appointment of Caroline Kennedy, the 51-year-old daughter of former President John Kennedy, to fill Secretary-of-State nominee Hillary Clintons New York Senate seat is both laughable and yet a parable for our bankrupt times.

Consider aristocratic entitlement. Ms. Kennedy apparently spends a great deal of her time divided between her Park Avenue Upper-East-Side Manhattan townhouse and her hereditary estate on Marthas Vineyard. She has had no real experience with the ordinary lives of New Yorkers, either a few dozen blocks away in Harlem (despite a sudden ad hoc lunch last week with the Rev. Sharpton at a soul food diner) or the states rural towns to the north.

Ms. Kennedy is about as undiverse as one could imagine. She was educated at exclusively private schools among those of her like race and class. Her financial security is due to either inheritance or marriage; there is no evidence of a self-employed stellar legal or business career. But there is plenty of evidence that Ms. Kennedy reflects the current Democratic Partys obsession with celebrity and Hollywood-like imageryas we see from the recent politicking of everyone from Oprah to Sean Penn, the Senate run of comedian Al Franken, and the messianic cult that surrounds Barack Obama, from his vero possumus Latin seal to his mass rallies with Greek temple backdrops.

It's bad enough that Ms. Kennedy has no rsum other than a fantasy "birthright":  Even if there were one, I believe the simple fact that she willingly and publicly sat at the same table with a racist, anti-Semitic hustler like al sharlatan should disqualify her right there. 

But, hey, that's just my warped sense of logic.  After all, what do the tawana brawley hoax, Crown Heights riots, Freddy's Fashion Mart torching, defamation of character judgment and 1.5 million in unpaid back taxes (among others) have to do with anything? 

After all, these are Democrats we're talking about.

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