Tuesday, 17 March 2009

TALK RADIO: A CHANGE IN THE (DEMOCRATIC) PARTY LINE

Ken Berwitz

In his latest blog, Brian Maloney of www.radioequalizer.blogspot.com is either laughing or sneering at the Democratic Party and its willing gofers at the Los Angeles Times.  The reason?  A sudden about-face from claiming conservative talk radio is the scourge of the planet to disdaining it as irrelevant and on the way out.

Sound a little bizarre?  Well, here's the blog.  Decide for yourself:

Curious Shift In Coverage Of Conservative Talk Radio

MENACE TO IRRELEVANCE

On Talk Radio's Impact, Dems, Media Suddenly Shift Gears

In a remarkable coincidence,
a temporary shift away from the White House's anti-Rush Limbaugh attack strategy has been closely followed by a Los Angeles Times piece declaring "conservative talk radio on the wane" in the nation's most populous state.

Amazing, isn't it: just two weeks ago, Rush Limbaugh and the rest of talk radio were a national menace, out to destroy Barack Obama's presidency and with it, America's chance for "hope and change".

Democrats were so focused on Limbaugh that they
cooked up an anti-Rush billboard advertising campaign designed to convert West Palm Beach's liberals into ... (wait, what exactly was that about again?) For weeks, in fact, they could hardly talk about anything other than their disdain for El Rushbo.

Apparently, all of that was a false alarm. Talk radio, it turns out, really doesn't matter at all, according to the Times. But in taking a look beyond the headline, one sees the
sheer dishonesty in their approach:

But for all the anti-tax swagger and the occasional stunts by personalities like KFI's John and Ken, the reality is that conservative talk radio in California is on the wane. The economy's downturn has depressed ad revenue at stations across the state, thinning the ranks of conservative broadcasters.

For that and other reasons, stations have dropped the shows of at least half a dozen radio personalities and scaled back others, in some cases replacing them with cheaper nationally syndicated programs.


Casualties include Mark Larson in San Diego, Larry Elder and John Ziegler in Los Angeles, Melanie Morgan in San Francisco, and Phil Cowen and Mark Williams in Sacramento.

Two of the biggest in the business, Roger Hedgecock in San Diego and Tom Sullivan in Sacramento, have switched to national shows, elevating President Obama above Schwarzenegger on their target lists.

Another influential Sacramento host, Eric Hogue, has lost the morning rush-hour show that served as a prime forum to gin up support for the recall of Gov. Gray Davis. Now he airs just an hour a day at lunchtime on KTKZ-AM (1380).

"It's lonely, it's quiet, and it's a shame," Hogue said of California's shrinking conservative radio world. "I think this state has lost a lot of benefit. I don't know if we can grow it back any time soon."

The immediate question facing the state's conservative radio hosts is whether they can wield enough clout to block Schwarzenegger's ballot measures in May. They portray them as reckless proposals that would hasten California's economic decline. The worst, they say, is Proposition 1A, which would extend billions of dollars in tax increases for an extra two years, even while it imposes a spending cap long sought by conservatives.

In a special election likely to draw a dismal turnout, they hope that those most upset by the $12.5 billion in new taxes will be the ones most strongly motivated to cast ballots. Their inspiration is Proposition 13, the 1978 ballot measure that capped property-tax increases.

Yes, local talk radio is on the decline, because nearly-bankrupt broadcast operators can no longer afford them. But the paper never explains what those reasons might be, even though they are unrelated to talk's own performance.

As we've been chronicling for several years here at the Radio Equalizer, talk radio is performing as well as ever, if not better, but is suffering from deteriorating overall industry conditions. Station owners are struggling under huge debt loads caused by overpaying for purchases at the peak of the market several years ago.

In addition, music formats have been abandoned by many young people and
some corporate suits remain hostile to talk radio, despite its unparalleled success.

Yes, that has thinned talk radio's local ranks, particularly in hard-hit California. But is it really on the wane? Not exactly.

Also omitted from the story is any mention of the almost complete collapse of liberal talk radio in the Golden State. Not only have that format's local hosts been sacked, several of its outlets have been shut down entirely.


While there's no question that conservatives would be better suited with more local hosts covering area topics, the attempt by the Times to mislead readers comes across as a bit on the shady side, especially given a headline that suggests talk radio is down across the board.

To avoid inevitable public confusion, the left ought to get its story straight: is talk radio a threat to America, or no longer relevant? When they've come to a decision, it would be a good idea to inform the voting public.

Y'know, the Democratic Party and the LA Times should really be more careful.  Someone might just conclude they are in cahoots with each other.


POLL NUMBER MUSINGS

Ken Berwitz

I just took a quick look at the political research on www.pollingreport.com and came across this series of questions from a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll.  They're fascinating. 

Let me show you the questions, people's responses to them, and give you some insight of my own:

CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. March 12-15, 2009. N=1,019 adults nationwide. MoE 3.

             

"Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling the economy?"

 
    Approve Disapprove Unsure    
    % % %    
 

3/12-15/09

59 40 2    
             

"In general, do you hope that Barack Obama's policies will succeed or do you hope that his policies will fail?"

 
    Succeed Fail Mixed (vol.)    
    % % %    
 

3/12-15/09

86 11 2    
             

"And in general, do you think it is more likely that Obama's policies will succeed or more likely that his policies will fail?"

 
    Succeed Fail Mixed (vol.) Unsure  
    % % % %  
 

3/12-15/09

64 32 3 1  
             

"If the economy does not improve over the next 12 months, whose policies would you blame for that: the policies of George W. Bush and the Republicans, or the policies of Barack Obama and the Democrats?"

 
    Bush and
Republicans
Obama and
Democrats
Both (vol.) Neither (vol.) Unsure
    % % % % %
 

3/12-15/09

54 32 9 4 1

The first question, though extremely broad, is pretty straightforward.  Ok, people favor Mr. Obama's handling of the economy by 59% - 40%.  (I have a feeling that two weeks ago it would have been substantially lower, but that's just me.)

The second question is highly amusing.  I sense that it is CNN's way of trying to "prove" that Rush Limbaugh is out on a limb(augh) when he says he wants Mr. Obama to fail. 

If so, there is a bit of a problem.  Limbaugh did not simply wish for Barack Obama to fail, he wished for failure in a specific context that is not reflected in the question.

To make the question coincide with what Limbaugh actually wished for, CNN would have had ORC word the question as follows:  

"Assuming you feel that Barack Obama's policies will seriously damage the country, do you hope those policies will succeed or do you hope that his policies will fail?"  

But, then again, that wording would have generated dramatically different results, wouldn't it?  We can't have that, can we?

The third question is, of course, entirely speculative.  But it is written well and the answers are what they are.

Then we come to the final question of the series.  This is the one that really gets to me.

We have a Democratic President.  We have a Democratic congress and have had it for the past two years.  But, according to the sample, if our economy fails over the next year, by 54% - 32%, the culprits will be President Bush and Republicans. 

In other words, if these data are accurate a majority has been convinced that if we have a failed economy in March of 2010:

-It will not be the fault of a President in office over a year and a congress that has been run by his party since 2007. 

-It will be the fault of a President who left office in January of 2009 and a party that has not controlled congress since December of 2006. 

I often talk about how many people have been made ignorant by mainstream media.  Read those data again and see what I mean.


MORE EUROPE BS

Ken Berwitz

Europe tosses around a lot of BS.  Some of it involves pledges of money for disaster relief - which, sad to say, often is never followed through on.  Here's another facet of  European BS, this one related to the war on terror.

It comes to us via the following excerpt from an article in today's International Herald Tribune:

Europe hedges on Guantnamo detainees

European countries that have offered to help the Obama administration close the detention center at Guantnamo Bay, Cuba, by resettling detainees have begun raising questions about the security risks and requirements if they accept prisoners described by the Bush administration as "the worst of the worst," according to diplomats and other officials on both sides of the Atlantic.

The concerns, and a deep suspicion of whether the American intelligence community will share full information on the prisoners, are likely to complicate the resettlement effort, which is critical to President Barack Obama's fulfilling his pledge to close Guantnamo within a year.

The offers, from Spain, Portugal, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland and other countries, have been widely seen as efforts to win favor with the new administration by helping to close the camp in Cuba, which was a contentious issue during the Bush years.

Still, with a first round of talks on the Guantnamo issues scheduled for Monday in Washington between Obama administration officials and a high-level delegation from the European Union, several European leaders have recently emphasized that they can make no firm commitments until they are given complete details on the prisoners.

"We'd have to study concrete cases," Mara Teresa Fernndez de la Vega Sanz, Spain's deputy prime minister, said in an interview last week.


DON OBAMA

Ken Berwitz

Here is a very interesting, very sarcastic and very angry piece by Nicholas Guariglia concerning Barack Obama's treatment of media - especially media which dare to criticize his performance:

Welcome to Francis Ford Coppolas White House

Thin-skinned President Corleone and his crew go after their enemies.

March 17, 2009 - by Nicholas Guariglia
Page 1 of 2  Next ->
 
Just seven weeks into his presidency, Barack Corleone Obama has gone to the mattresses. His administration has lunged ruthlessly for the jugulars of its critics. His cabinet has more tax cheats than McKellys in a Dublin phone book. Crackdown on lobbyists? Fahgettaboudit. Earmark reform? We dont need no stinking earmark reform. Today, the new don pontificates, I settle all family business e.g., nationalizing the energy industry, socializing the health care system, and federalizing American education.

Obama has parasitically used a correctable housing bubble burst and banking crises to power-grab and commit the country to more spending than at any other time in our history. That upcoming Roland Emmerich movie entitled 2012 is supposed to be about the impending end of the world. But Hollywood doomsday may not be necessary; if this keeps up until 2012, Tic Tacs will cost about $60.

In short, Obama is scaring the hell out of everyone. Every time he opens his mouth, the stock market nosedives. But he isnt worrying about those day-to-day gyrations because the stock market is sort of like a tracking poll in politics; it bobs up and down. The countrys net worth is plummeting by the hour largely due to the seeds of anxiety Obama sewed into the market when trying to pass his porkulus spending splurge and he speaks about the relative insignificance of the markets day-to-day gyrations as if millions of Americans losing their portfolios and lifes savings was a matter of Chubby Checkers The Twist.

Rome is burning, but how does the godfather respond? By averting attention, of course. By bringing together his wartime consiglieres to go after the Tattaglias, Barzinis, and Moe Greens of his political universe. Theres Jimmy Ragin Cajun Carville, Paulie Bag-a-Doughnuts Begala, and Rahm-bo Emanuel who knows all about making people sleep with the fishes and Biden can be Fredo, I suppose.

And theyre mad. Oh boy, are they mad. You see, a handful of journalists, television commentators, radio personalities, and private citizens have the gumption to question President Corleones economic policies. And thats a no-no. Never go against the family.

Rush Limbaugh is a mere broadcaster. For weeks weve been told it would be quite anti-egalitarian, the mother of all infra dignitatem acts, if we were to listen or give credence to such a bigoted, homophobic, racist, and cruel miscreant. Yet do Limbaughs most eccentric or controversial statements surpass anything uttered by senator-wannabe Al Franken?

Whats worse: Limbaugh mocking obnoxiously hardcore feminists on his radio program we all know the type hes talking about even if you dont have the onions to admit it or Sen. Dick Durbin comparing U.S. troops to Stalin, Hitler, and Pol Pot? Why are the masochistic rantings of old man Chomsky or the phony Ward Churchill considered intellectual brilliance but Limbaughs politically incorrect tell-it-like-it-is take on society the most egregious things said this side of Mein Kampf?

The man has his opinions. Hes allowed to have them. And while his opinions have made him who he is the countrys most successful radio personality they are still just opinions, not sticks and stones. Limbaugh never threatened Obamas safety and security, and therefore should be of no concern to the Obama White House or the Secret Service.

Limbaugh has, however, made it clear he wants Obamas statism to fail an entirely understandable position for a conservative to hold and, at last check, a totally legal opinion to have and in response, President Obama first used Limbaugh as his own personal punchline and then sent out his henchmen, guns blazin. Leave the capitalism; take the cannolis.

It is beneath the office of the presidency to go after a citizen on such a personal level, using political surrogates to mock a mans weight and previous drug addiction all to align him with, and thus undermine, your political opponents. Is this what Obama meant when he invoked biblical scripture during his inaugural speech and proclaimed the time has come to set aside childish things?

But despite the transcendent talk about brotherhood and post-partisanship, this has been a constant theme from the Obama posse. Remember when Obama sent his mafiosos to kick reporters off his campaign plane all because their papers endorsed John McCain? Remember the serial mentioning and quasi-obsession with Sean Hannity, which continues to this day?

The Obama-journalist relationship has been a one-sided love affair: the more they appease him, the more he disdains them. And yet, still, many journalists are all too willing to bow their heads, kiss the dons ring, and play the role of hit man, stuttering and stammering in the presence of their boss like an overly eager Luca Brasi rehearsing what hes going to say. Take David Saltonstall from the New York Daily News, who actually forwarded a piece to his editor with a title encompassing the phrase Rush Limbaugh is rich, nasty, followed by this excerpt:

Rush Hudson Limbaugh 3rd, 58, is a thrive-divorced, formerly drug-addicted college dropout who casts himself as a working-class hero, yet drives his $450,000 Mercedes-Benz Maybach 57S home to a 24,000-square-foot Florida mansion every night (one of five houses on the property).

Ive never heard of this Saltonstall fellow, but he should step back and contemplate for a moment: this is what his petty career has come to. He writes columns about someone he disagrees with politically, and attacks the mans failed marriages, his former struggle with pain killers (drug-addicted), his level of education (college dropout), and then, the coup de grce, attacks his success in the face of it all!

In Saltonstalls Obamamania galaxy, an inner-city, drug-selling, high school dropout, with three illegitimate children, who makes his bones on the taxpayers dime with government programs designed for him solely on the basis of demographic happenstance, is Richie Adlers Rags to Riches. But a truly self-made man like Limbaugh? Well, hes fat, ugly, rich, and I heard he doesnt floss, too. Why the disparity? Because Limbaugh believes in creating private accounts for Social Security, of course. And because he challenged the godfather.

But Limbaughs not alone. The Obama administration has gone after CNBCs Rick Santelli for challenging Obamas economic proposals. They have attacked the apolitical stock analyst Jim Cramer for disagreeing with their spend-spend-and-spend theories. And remember the dual Obama camp-media onslaught of Sam Wurzelbacher, a private citizen who, upon seeing the Democratic presidential nominee campaigning in his neighborhood, had the audacity (pun intended) to ask Obama an economics question a question simultaneously simple and yet sadly the toughest of Obamas campaign?

Did the purportedly fascistic Texan ogre George Bush behave like this? Did his administration go after Bill Maher, for instance? Or Maureen Dowd or Keith Olbermann? What about that guy who called Bush a tyrannical murderer at a town hall meeting? As the crowd booed, Bush implored his supporters to let the man speak and then answered the mans grievances. Was this private citizens life uprooted by administration officials and media investigative research? Does he owe any taxes? Does he tip well at restaurants? Does he have an ex-wife and does she hate him?

You can see how absurd this kind of behavior would be if one were to replace the word Obama with Bush. But this is Obamas coordinated strategy, to go after straw men with whom he disagrees to divert popular anger and angst away from him. Its entirely Nixonian or, depending on the continent, Mugabian. Michael Goodwin, also of the Daily News, addressed this phenomenon in a recent column:

Obama has expressed little interest in prosecuting those who cooked the books to make billions and undermined the financial system. Nor is he interested in rebuking Congress, including leading members of his own party, who fostered destructive lending and borrowing policies. He seems comfortable with his aides, including those who saw nothing amiss in their former roles as Wall Street players and regulators.

Instead, Obamas class-war language, most of it written into prepared speeches, looks like selective anger, calculated to stoke public emotion to build support for his expansive agenda. That agenda, which revolves around a dramatic increase in Washington power, relies on tax hikes on the same successful businesses and individuals he denounces.

First he demonizes them, then he taxes them. And always, he makes liberal use of bogeymen but never mind. Being president means you dont have to let facts get in the way of a plan to divide and conquer.

It hasnt even been two months and we now know, with absolute empirical certitude, that Barack Obamas pledge to bring civility and post-partisanship to Washington was a bunch of baloney. This is the Chicago machine all over again.

From the get-go, Obama has had some trouble with moral clarity. Hamas and Hezbollah have legitimate claims, but his domestic critics and fellow countrymen do not? He thinks he can make nice with the moderate Taliban, but wont engage some of his political opponents in a mature dialogue? Obama seems more worried about the Limbaughs, Hannitys, and Joe the Plumbers of the world than the Khameneis, Assads, Jong Ils, Ahmadinejads, and Rafsanjanis more concentrated on his domestic opponents than on our countrys foreign adversaries. All hail the commander-in-chief.

To go after private citizens, journalists, and people on radio and television with such vitriol is unprecedented in contemporary American politics. This is not how a man who occupies 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue is supposed to conduct himself. Michael Corleone once assuaged his brothers fears by saying, It isnt personal. Its strictly business.

President Corleone seems to think its just the opposite.

Is he right?  What do you think?


NY TIMES: LYING FOR OBAMA

Ken Berwitz

There is no way to pretty this up.  The New York Times is lying for President Obama. 

It's not like the paper hasn't done it before, but this one is pretty egregious. 

Today's lie concerns David Hamilton, who apparently is Mr. Obama's choice for the federal appeals court.

Clay Waters of www.newsbusters.org gives us the details.  Please pay special attention to the last paragraph, which I've put in bold print:

False 'Moderation' from NY Times Legal Reporter Neil Lewis

Liberally slanted legal reporter Neil Lewis has a scoop-let on President Obama's anticipated first court appointment, the "moderate" Judge David Hamilton, to the federal appeals court in Chicago ("Moderate Is Said to Be Pick for Court").

Lewis saw this upcoming move as a "signal" Obama's future appointees would be "moderate" as well. But how truly moderate is David Hamilton, federal trial court judge in Indiana and former board member for the Indiana ACLU?

Lewis provides no evidence, only the vague assertion that Hamilton "is said by lawyers to represent some of his state's traditionally moderate strain." But that seal of approval has a certain "strained" quality itself; if Hamilton is "said" to "represent some" of Indiana's moderation, then he's not all moderate, but something else as well. Probably something liberal. Why?

For one, the liberal Obama picked him. For another, his only memorable rulings, according to Lewis himself, were two anti-conservative ones. In one case, he sided with the ACLU on prayer, a ruling later overturned. Third, Hamilton clerked for a liberal judge. Lewis's assertion is contradicted by factual evidence from his own story.

President Obama is expected to name his first candidate to an appeals court seat this week, officials said, choosing David F. Hamilton, a highly regarded federal trial court judge from Indiana, for the appeals court in Chicago.

Judge Hamilton, who is said by lawyers to represent some of his state's traditionally moderate strain, served as counsel to Senator Evan Bayh when Mr. Bayh was the state's governor; he is also a nephew of former Representative Lee H. Hamilton of Indiana.

A senior administration official said Judge Hamilton would have the support of both Mr. Bayh, a Democrat, and the state's other senator, Richard G. Lugar, a Republican. He will be nominated for a seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, based in Chicago.

The administration official said part of the reason for making the Hamilton nomination the administration's first public entry into the often contentious field of judicial selection was to serve "as a kind of signal" about the kind of nominees Mr. Obama will select. The official spoke on the condition of anonymity because the nomination had not been officially made.

Lewis doesn't name any of the "lawyers" who vouched for Hamilton's moderate brand of judgeship.

Judge Hamilton was named to the bench by President Bill Clinton in 1994. As a trial judge largely bound to the rulings of higher courts, he has had few opportunities to demonstrate any ideological leanings.

He did receive attention for two rulings striking down actions of conservatives in the Indiana legislature. In 2005, he made news by ruling that the legislature was prohibited from beginning its sessions with overtly Christian prayers.

And the third clue Hamilton might not be moderate:

Judge Hamilton graduated from Yale Law School before serving as a law clerk to Judge Richard D. Cudahy of the Seventh Circuit, who is generally viewed as a liberal jurist.

Why is this important? Because the Times has traditionally emphasized the false "moderation" of Democratic Supreme Court appointees while insisting Republicans are appointing hard conservatives to the bench. The paper laughably insisted in a June 1993 headline that ultra-liberal Clinton appointee Ruth Bader Ginsburg, former chief litigator for the Women's Rights Project of the ACLU, was a "Balanced Jurist at Home in the Middle." A July 2005 headline portrayed Bush Supreme Court nominee John Roberts as "An Advocate for the Right."

So far, the Times looks to be protecting the Obama administration in the same fashion.

To cap it off, Wendy Long at National Review's Bench Memo's blog reports that Hamilton is "a hard-left political activist," a fundraiser for ACORN, and also "served as vice president for litigation and a board member of the Indiana ACLU." Some moderate!

Unbelievable.  David Hamilton was an ACLU board member, he fundraises for ACORN..... and the New York Times touts him as "moderate".

Using Hamilton as a "moderate" baseline, the Times must think Ted Kennedy is a wild-eyed right winger. 

Or, maybe, the paper is just lying on behalf of Barack Obama.  Again.

I think we both know which it is.


ELITE LEFT WING CONSPIRACY?

Ken Berwitz

It isn't vast.  It is pretty elite.  Is it a left wing conspiracy?

Here, excerpted from an article by Michael Calderone at www.politico.com, is part of the evidence.  You be the judge:

JournoList: Inside the echo chamber

  
 

For the past two years, several hundred left-leaning bloggers, political reporters, magazine writers, policy wonks and academics have talked stories and compared notes in an off-the-record online meeting space called JournoList.

Proof of a vast liberal media conspiracy?

Not at all, says Ezra Klein, the 24-year-old American Prospect blogging wunderkind who formed JournoList in February 2007. Basically, he says, its just a list where journalists and policy wonks can discuss issues freely.

But some of the journalists who participate in the online discussion say off the record, of course that it has been a great help in their work. On the record, The New Yorkers Jeffrey Toobin acknowledged that a Talk of the Town piece he wont say which one got its start in part via a conversation on JournoList. And JLister Eric Alterman, The Nation writer and CUNY professor, said hes seen discussions that start on the list seep into the world beyond.

Im very lazy about writing when Im not getting paid, Alterman said. So if I take the trouble to write something in any detail on the list, I tend to cannibalize it. It doesnt surprise me when I see things on the list on peoples blogs.

Last April, criticism of ABCs handling of a Democratic presidential debate took shape on JList before morphing into an open letter to the network, signed by more than 40 journalists and academics many of whom are JList members.

But beyond these specific examples, its hard to trace JLists influence in the media, because so few JListers are willing to talk on the record about it.

POLITICO contacted nearly three dozen current JList members for this story. The majority either declined to comment or didnt respond to interview requests and then returned to JList to post items on why they wouldnt be talking to POLITICO about what goes on there.

In an e-mail, Klein said he understands that the JLists off-the-record rule makes it seems secretive. But he insisted that JList discussions have to be off the record in order to ensure that folks feel safe giving off-the-cuff analysis and instant reactions. 

One byproduct of that secrecy: For all its high-profile membership which includes Nobel Prize-winning columnist Paul Krugman; staffers from Newsweek, POLITICO, Huffington Post, The New Republic, The Nation and The New Yorker; policy wonks, academics and bloggers such as Klein and Matthew Yglesias JList itself has received almost no attention from the media.

Interesting.  A group of likeminded bloggers and mainstream media writers, unto itself, that they have made sure virtually no one knows about, eh?

What does that sound like to you?  And if it's just an innocent little debating society, how come this bunch has made so sure it has been a secret for so long?

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


CHRIS DUDD: A PROTECTED SPECIES & HIS BONUS BONER

Ken Berwitz

No one in congress gets away with doing more things wrong, that do more major damage to the country, than Senator Chris Dudd (D -CT).  He was neck-deep in Enron.  He was neck deep in the sub-prime loan disaster.  And now he's neck deep in the AIG bonus scandal.

How can media not feature Dudd's name when decrying the bonuses being paid to AIG representatives?  HOW? 

Read this excerpt from the article at www.foxbusiness.com and see for yourself.  Please pay special attention to the two paragraphs I've put in bold print:

Amid AIG Furor, Dodd Tries to Undo Bonus Protections He Put In

 
Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) on Monday night floated the idea of taxing American International Group bonus recipients so the government could recoup the $450 million the company is paying to employees in its financial products unit. Within hours, the idea spread to both houses of Congress, with lawmakers proposing an AIG bonus tax.

While the Senate constructed the $787 billion stimulus last month, Dodd unexpectedly added an executive-compensation restriction to the bill. That amendment provides an exception for contractually obligated bonuses agreed on before Feb. 11, 2009, which exempts the very AIG bonuses Dodd and others are seeking to tax. The amendment is in the final version and is law.

Also, Sen. Dodd was AIGs largest single recipient of campaign donations during the 2008 election cycle with $103,100, according to opensecrets.org. 

Dodds office did not immediately return a request for comment.

One of AIG Financial Products largest offices is based in Connecticut.

Dudd, in other words, is trying to posture himself as an anti-bonus crusader, when it was his exemption that GAVE them the bonuses.

Who else is reporting this?  Was it on the network news last night?  Was it on Today this morning?  I sure as hell didn't catch it. 

It's certainly not in my copy of the New York Times.  The Times has a comprehensive timeline in its news section, headlined "Bailouts, Bonuses and Outrage" that doesn't so much as mention Dudd's name.  Nor, at quick glance, does its major article on the subject.

This is how people like Dudd get away with it.  The same media which spent years investigating whether George Bush missed a couple of national guard meetings in the early 1970's, does not think it is important enough to report that Chris Dudd personally saw to it that AIG could hand out hundreds of millions of dollars of our bailout money in bonuses just last month.

A few questions:  Why do they intentionally keep you ignorant?  Would they do the same if the senator pulling this crap was a Republican?  Will they respond by sneering out more attacks on Fox, the only venue that seems interested in telling you the truth about what happened?

Think about it.

Oh, by the way:  after Chris Dudd, the US senator who got the most campaign donations from AIG - and the only other senator to receive over $100,000 or anywhere near it - was......

Barack Obama.

That's another little something you probably won't be getting from your mainstream media source.

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.

steve schneider there's even more. today dodd is quoted as saying "i warned them this would be met with an unprecedented level of outrage", when did he warn them? was it when he agreed to put the exception for bonuses in the bill? incredible.....he warned them about a problem that he created. why won't someone call him on this? steve (03/17/09)


ANOTHER PROFESSIONAL WRESTLER DIES YOUNG

Ken Berwitz

From ABC News in Tampa:

Former professional wrester Andrew "Test" Martin
 
TAMPA, FL -- A former professional wrestling champion was found dead inside his Tampa apartment Friday night, just days before his 34th birthday.

Andrew "Test" Martin, who wrestled for almost 10 years, mostly for World Wrestling Entertainment, was found dead inside his apartment on Harbor Place Drive around 8 o'clock.

Officers found his body after a neighbor called police, saying she could see Martin through an apartment window and that he hadn't moved in several hours.

Foul play is not suspected, investigators said.

An autopsy will be performed to determine how the former wrestler died. 

Martin debuted in the WWE in 1998. He retired last December but had just returned from working in Japan and was planning to leave for a 2 week trip to Europe this Monday, the day before his birthday, Martin said on his MySpace page.

Sorry to say, this is not much of a news story.  Professional wrestlers die young all the time.

I'm not talking about the old-timers, the ones who wrestled before steroids (among other things) turned professional wrestling into a complete freak show.  Those guys, to the best of my knowledge, performed their scripted little good guy-bad guy vignettes with little other than pain killers.   

I'm talking about the steroidal freaks who wrestling's current "state of the art" have generated.  The ones whose bodies break down from the combination of incredible physical demands and the drugs that make them look superhuman in size and shape.

Despite being fake (i.e. non-competitive; the outcome is determined beforehand)  professional wrestling is about as gruelling an athletic event as there is.  The wrestlers perform almost every day of the week, often traveling to a different city each time.  And their routines - the jumps the falls, the inherent physical abuse they sustain - would test athletes in any legitimate sport to the nth degree.

Add to this the demand that they physically resemble comic book characters, and you get the serial steroid users who destroy their bodies and die early.

How bad a problem is this?  Well, here, from www.prowrestling.about.com, is a list of wrestlers since 1985 who have died before they hit their 50th birthday.  As you read it, keep in mind that at any given time there are maybe 1,000 - 2,000 professional wrestlers working in the entire country.

Famous Wrestlers That Have Died Since 1985 Before the Age of 65 (please read this FAQ before making any assumptions...)

Chris Von Erich - 21
Mike Von Erich - 23
Louie Spiccoli - 27
Art Barr - 28
Gino Hernandez - 29
Jay Youngblood - 30
Rick McGraw - 30
Joey Marella - 30
Ed Gatner - 31
Buzz Sawyer - 32
Crash Holly - 32
Kerry Von Erich - 33
D.J. Peterson - 33
Eddie Gilbert - 33
The Renegade - 33
Chris Candido - 33 
Test - 33
Adrian Adonis - 34
Gary Albright - 34
Bobby Duncum Jr. - 34 
Owen Hart - 34
Yokozuna - 34
Big Dick Dudley - 34
Brian Pillman - 35
Marianna Komlos - 35
Pitbull #2 - 36
The Wall/Malice - 36
Emory Hale - 36
Leroy Brown - 38
Mark Curtis - 38 
Eddie Guererro - 38
John Kronus - 38
Davey Boy Smith - 39
Johnny Grunge - 39
Vivian Vachon - 40
Jeep Swenson - 40
Brady Boone - 40
Terry Gordy - 40
Bertha Faye - 40
Billy Joe Travis - 40 
Chris Benoit - 40
Larry Cameron - 41
Rick Rude - 41
Randy Anderson - 41
Bruiser Brody - 42
Miss Elizabeth - 42
Big Boss Man - 42
Earthquake - 42
Mike Awesome - 42
Biff Wellington - 42
Brian Adams (Crush) - 43
Ray Candy - 43 
Nancy Benoit (Woman) - 43
Dino Bravo - 44
Curt Hennig - 44 
Bam Bam Bigelow - 45
Jerry Blackwell - 45
Junkyard Dog - 45
Hercules - 45 
Andre The Giant - 46
Big John Studd - 46
Chris Adams - 46
Mike Davis - 46
Hawk - 46
Cousin Junior - 48
Dick Murdoch - 49
Jumbo Tsuruta - 49
Rocco Rock - 49 
Sheri Martel - 49

Yes, a number of these deaths are not steroid or even wrestling related.  But most of them are. 

Why does professional wrestling exist in this manner?  Because of unscrupulous, uncaring promoters who convince young wrestlers to become human deathtraps.  The wrestlers can get some fleeting fame and fortune and risk losing half or more of their lives.  The promoters get fabulously wealthy.   Great deal -- for one side.

You might want to keep this in mind the next time you come across young boys - maybe your own - taking this fake, high-mortality sport seriously and watching it every chance they get.


CHUCK (SCHUMER) AND BILL (OF ATTAINDER)

Ken Berwitz

Senator Charles "Chuck" Schumer is a Harvard-educated lawyer.  I assume he knows what a bill of attainder is.

I therefore conclude that he could not care less about the constitution of the United States.

Let me explain by first showing you the beginning of a Reuters article in which Schumer threatens the AIG employees who got bonuses.  No one else who got bonuses at any other company, only AIG:

Sen. Schumer threatens huge tax on AIG bonuses

Tue Mar 17, 2009 12:31pm EDT
 

 WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A senior U.S. senator on Tuesday warned American International Group Inc. employees to return bonuses they are receiving or face being slapped with a major tax on those payments.

"They should voluntarily return them (the bonuses). If they don't we plan to tax virtually all of it," Senator Charles Schumer, a member of the Democratic leadership, said in a speech on the Senate floor.

With me so far?  Good. 

Now, from www.techlawjournal.com, here is the definition of a bill of attainder:

Bill of Attainder

Definition: A legislative act that singles out an individual or group for punishment without a trial.

The Constitution of the United States, Article I, Section 9, paragraph 3 provides that: "No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed."

Notice any commonality with what Schumer is threatening and what a bill of attainder is? Like 100% worth?

I assume he does too.

So I conclude that Schumer - along with many of his fellow Democrats - just doesn't care.  Why let the constitution get in the way of a great rant followed by a great photo op?

Now, do our wonderful "neutral" media care?  Do they care enough to tell their readers/viewers/listeners about this?

Or are they still in "Keep 'em ignorant and you own 'em" mode?


SOCKING IT TO OUR INJURED MILITARY

Ken Berwitz

If President Bush had ever proposed this "idea", he would have been skewered on the front page of every newspaper and disdained in the lead story of every network news show.

But this is Barack Obama.  So read the following article, which I picked up at Yahoo News, and then think about how much publicity the obamadoring mainstream media have given it.  The bold print is mine:

The American Legion Strongly Opposed to President's Plan to Charge Wounded Heroes for Treatment

To: POLITICAL EDITORS

Contact: Craig Roberts of The American Legion, +1-202-263-2982 Office, +1-202-406-0887 Cell

WASHINGTON, March 16 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The leader of the nation's largest veterans organization says he is "deeply disappointed and concerned" after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

"It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan," said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. "He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it."

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, "This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ' to care for him who shall have borne the battle' given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America's veterans!"

Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group's early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, " There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran's personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable."

Commander Rehbein reiterated points made last week in testimony to both House and Senate Veterans' Affairs Committees. It was stated then that The American Legion believes that the reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate that VA treat service-connected injuries and disabilities given that the United States government sends members of the armed forces into harm's way, and not private insurance companies. The proposed requirement for these companies to reimburse the VA would not only be unfair, says the Legion, but would have an adverse impact on service-connected disabled veterans and their families. The Legion argues that, depending on the severity of the medical conditions involved, maximum insurance coverage limits could be reached through treatment of the veteran's condition alone. That would leave the rest of the family without health care benefits. The Legion also points out that many health insurance companies require deductibles to be paid before any benefits are covered. Additionally, the Legion is concerned that private insurance premiums would be elevated to cover service-connected disabled veterans and their families, especially if the veterans are self-employed or employed in small businesses unable to negotiate more favorable across-the-board insurance policy pricing. The American Legion also believes that some employers, especially small businesses, would be reluctant to hire veterans with service-connected disabilities due to the negative impact their employment might have on obtaining and financing company health care benefits.

"I got the distinct impression that the only hope of this plan not being enacted," said Commander Rehbein, "is for an alternative plan to be developed that would generate the desired $540-million in revenue. The American Legion has long advocated for Medicare reimbursement to VA for the treatment of veterans. This, we believe, would more easily meet the President's financial goal. We will present that idea in an anticipated conference call with White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel in the near future.

"I only hope the administration will really listen to us then. This matter has far more serious ramifications than the President is imagining," concluded the Commander.

Damn those military people! 

-Isn't it bad enough they volunteered for service? 

-Isn't it bad enough they risked their lives in places like Iraq and Afghanistan? 

-Isn't it bad enough that they have clearly won the war in Iraq and are now having great success in sustaining the post-war peace there? 

-Isn't it bad enough that Iraq has become a model for other Arab/Muslim states in the region, and its success can make it that much harder for groups like al qaeda and the taliban to recruit?

Do we have to pay when they're treated for military-related injuries?  It's an outrage!

If the above looks insane to you, remember please that I am not stating it as personal opinion.  I am reflecting on what the thought process in our current administration must be to float this kind of policy regarding injured military personnel.

We elected him.  We gave him a Democratic congress, run by hardliners.  And this is what we're getting. 

I suggest you sit back and enjoy it, because it will be almost two more years before you can do something about it.


NATASHA RICHARDSON

Ken Berwitz

From the New York Post web site:

NATASHA RICHARDSON IS BRAIN DEAD

CRITICALLY INJURED IN SKIING ACCIDENT

By MICHAEL RIEDEL

Last updated: 2:46 pm
March 17, 2009
Posted: 1:19 pm
March 17, 2009

Actress Natasha Richardson is brain dead - after falling in a ski accident in Canada - and is now on sad journey home to New York, friends told The Post today.

Richardson, who was being treated at a Montreal hospital, is being transported to New York this afternoon so her mom Vanessa Redgrave, two children and other loved ones can say goodbye before she's taken off life-support, friends said.

Liam Neeson, husband of the Broadway and screen star, left shooting of his movie in Toronto to rush to Richardson's side in Montreal and now on the trip home.

The British-born Richardson, 45, fell during a private lesson at Mont Tremblant resort yesterday and allegedly told resort employees she felt fine.

But an hour later, she complained of an extreme headache and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

Richardson was on a beginner's slope and reportedly not wearing a helmet when she fell - although headgear is not required.

"She did not show any visible sign of injury but the ski patrol followed strict procedures and brought her back to the bottom of the slope and insisted she should see a doctor," said a statement from the resort, which is almost 80 miles northwest of Montreal.

"Approximately an hour after the incident Mrs. Richardson was not feeling good."

Richardson was initially taken to the Centre Hospitalier Laurentien in Sainte Agathe and was later transferred to Hopital du Sacre-Coeur in Montreal.

The actress - who is the elder daughter of Oscar-winner Vanessa Redgrave and late director Tony Richardson - comes from a long line of noted British players.

Maternal grandparents Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson, uncle and aunt Corin Redgrave and Lynn Redgrave are all actors.

Sister Joely Richardson currently has a recurring role in the FX show "Nip/Tuck."

Natasha Richardson was mostly recently on TV as a guest judge on the Bravo hit "Top Chef."

She also appeared in the 1994 movie "Nell" alongside future husband Neeson. They were married a short time later and they have two sons.

The elder son, Michael, 13, was with Richardson on the trip, while the younger Daniel, 12, was here in New York when the accident happened, friends said.

Richardson reached her Broadway peak in 1998, winning the Tony for playing Sally Bowles in "Cabaret."

What an ugly, ugly story.  I hope against hope that Ms. Richardson's condition is, in the words of Mark Twain, greatly exaggerated.


THE CATERPILLAR FRAUD

Ken Berwitz

From the "Ace of Spades" web site:

March 17, 2009

Money Well Spent

President Barack Obama, February 12, 2009:

And I'm not the only one who thinks so. Yesterday, Jim, the head of Caterpillar, said that if Congress passes our plan, this company will be able to rehire some of the folks who were just laid off. And that's a story I'm confident will be repeated at companies across the country -- companies that are currently struggling to borrow money selling their products, struggling to make payroll, but could find themselves in a different position when we start implementing the plan. Rather than downsizing, they may be able to start growing again. Rather than cutting jobs, they may be able to create them again.

That's the goal at the heart of this plan: to create jobs.

Business Insider, today:

What infrastructure boom? If there is one, Caterpillar (CAT), whose CEO promised Obama that the stimulus would allow it to keep more employees, isn't seeing one.

The company just announced another 2,454 layoffs in three states. This is the company's third round of layoffs in just a few months.

Why, it's almost as though the stimulus package was just a payoff to Democrat constituent groups rather than a serious attempt to help the economy!

Hello, mainstream media?  Will you be reporting this?  Or is it going to be another instance of "Keep 'em ignorant, and you own 'em"?

Me?  I'm giving odds.


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