Wednesday, 25 March 2009


Ken Berwitz

From the Associated Press:

Click here to find out more! POSTED: Monday, Mar. 23, 2009

Newspaper: FBI probe may cover donations to Dicks

The Associated Press
SEATTLE An FBI probe of a major lobbyist may extend to campaign donations to at least two lawmakers from Washington state.

The Seattle Times reports that PMA Group was a big donor to the political campaigns of Representative Norm Dicks and Senator Patty Murray. Each reportedly received thousands of dollars from a wine steward, or sommelier, and a golf club employee who were identified as PMA officials on campaign finance reports.

Murray says she has donated $3,500 of her PMA-related contributions to Food Lifeline. Dicks aides say he'll decide what to do with the money he received wait after the FBI deetermines whether there was any criminal wrongdoing.

PMA was founded by a former aide to Representative John Murtha. The lobbying firm's office was raided by the FBI in November.

Ok.  The article names a U.S. Senator, a house member and a lobbying firm founded by a former aide to a house member.  But it doesn't say what party any of these people belong to.

Now it's your turn to....Guess That Party!

So, what did you guess?  Is there any doubt in your mind about which party it is?

In case you have any doubts, Patty Murray, Norm Dicks and John Murtha are Democrats.  By contrast, does the AP (or countless other media venues) hesitate one second to name the political party when it's a Republican.

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


Ken Berwitz

Ed Schultz is a conservative Republican who suddenly became a liberal Democrat when there was some serious coin in it for him.  Although his ratings are tiny compared to Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity, Schultz currently is the most successful liberal talk show host in the country.

And since MSNBC is all liberal-left all the time, the network is considering adding Schultz to its lineup.

Brian Maloney of thinks MSNBC would be making a big mistake to do so, because of Schultz's sometimes uncontrollable temper, and his argument is pretty persuasive. 

Here it is.  See if you agree.


Will Schultz's Ego, Temper Sink Cable Talk Prospects?

As NBC's corporate suits ponder whether to add liberal talk show host Ed Schultz to their weeknight lineup, how much do they really know about his track record?

In anticipation of his hiring, the usual mainstream media subjects are busy cooking up Maddow-style fawning press coverage. Will this come back to haunt them, however?

Already, industry blog TVNewser is calling him
"MSNBC's next potential star".

Forget digging into his personal background, however, it isn't necessary to go any further than what has gone out over the airwaves, in addition to some other questionable public antics. From his hot temper to rapidly-expanding ego and sometimes muddled stances on key issues, network execs may be getting more than they've bargained for in Schultz.

From October 21 2008, for example,
here's Ed Schultz mistreating a fellow liberal who dared to politely challenge Big Eddie's position. Note how the caller remains calm and reasonable while an unhinged Schultz channels the ghost of Sam Kinison in Back To School.

This meltdown occurred just a few days after Schultz
walked off the set in the middle of a Fox News Channel interview:

CALLER RODNEY (Hour Three, 44:40): I'm going to have to call you out on what your response was to Congressman (Robin) Hayes (R-NC), who I do not know. I live in western North Carolina close to Asheville, I hope to see you next Wednesday night. But we cannot accomplish getting Barack Obama elected in this coming election by stooping to the level of some of the other talk show hosts. And when you came back with your comment concerning Representative Hayes a while ago and making fun of his accent, talking about that you think they want to start a civil war, I think you're taking a chance of alienating a lot of folks that are still on the fence down here in North Carolina and Obama needs North Carolina. We can't stoop to their level.

ED SCHULTZ (45:28) (with exaggerated Southern accent): Well, first of all, Rodney, you have your opinion and I have mine. The conservative movement in this country, in my opinion, completely out of material and now in the arena of being vile. For a United States congressman to claim that there actually is a political movement in this country known as liberals that *hate* real Americans, now Rodney, if you want to let that go, fine.

CALLER (crosstalk): No, I don't want to let it go, Ed, I did not say that at all. I am a liberal, I am a supporter, but there are a lot of people that are going to respond to your ...

SCHULTZ (interrupting): Well let 'em freakin' respond to it! Rodney, Rodney, let them respond to it! Let 'em respond to it! Come to the freakin' town hall meeting and respond to it! I'm not apologizing!

CALLER: I'm not, well, I guess ..

SCHULTZ: God! I mean, it amazes me, it absolutely amazes me how many experts there are out there in talk radio! You can't say this because this might happen. You can't say that because that might happen. You can't do any of that because that might happen. You know what something, Rodney? You don't know your ass from third base!

CALLER: Wait a minute now, Ed ...

SCHULTZ: No, no, no, wait a minute, you don't! How do you, what do you know what to talk about?!

CALLER: What do I know what to talk about ...?

SCHULTZ: What do you, how do you know what to talk about?! How do you know what strikes the passion of the people? Have you traveled the country? Have you talked to people in market after market? Have you looked in their eyes and seen the frustration with the conservative movement in this country?

CALLER: OK, but when you start doing things that take away from ....

SCHULTZ: That's your freakin' opinion!

CALLER: Well, and evidently you have a very strong one, but I'm concerned about your ...

SCHULTZ: Well, you shouldn't be concerned about it, Rodney! Why don't you just get off your ass and start working!

CALLER: (crosstalk) ... in North Carolina for the first time in a presidential race, it could be a very important part of this campaign, and the success of this campaign. That's my concern. It's not defending Robin Hayes. It's despicable what he said, I'm embarrassed by it.

SCHULTZ: Well, why didn't you start out with that? But instead it's an attack on me (cross talk) I mean, you started this, Rodney, I can't deal with you, you don't want a conversation. You don't want a conversation.

In addition to mild criticism of his on-air style, another way to set off our hotheaded friend is to mention the success of Rush Limbaugh's program as opposed to the continuing struggles of Schultz and other libtalkers to attract ratings and revenue. From February, here's one example that includes audio.

Far worse, in 2007,
Schultz actually got into a physical conflict in a Minnesota bar when a patron mistakenly believed Big Eddie was still a conservative Republican. Schultz's sudden conversion, which coincided with the advent of syndicated liberal talk radio, has long been the source of suspicion on both the left and right. It happened so fast that many listeners were caught by surprise.

Ed has attempted to bolster his left-wing credentials through extreme rhetoric,
such as calling Rush Limbaugh and other conservatives "nazis".

During another 2007 incident, Schultz made racially insensitive remarks regarding Barry Bonds and other ballplayers, including Babe Ruth. Only liberal talk radio's obscurity saved him from a Don Imus-like "nappy-headed hos" fate.

In April of last year,
Schultz embarrassed Barack Obama on the campaign trail by calling John McCain a "warmonger". To prevent damage to his campaign, Obama quickly repudiated Schultz's remarks.

Ultimately, however,
Schultz's anti-Hillary screeds were noted by the Obama campaign, which rewarded the talker with a front-row seat at one of Barack's press conferences. Rather than boosting Big Eddie's public standing, however, it led to public criticism and a defensive tone from the man himself. Worse, it seemed to boost his already pumped-up ego to unbearable levels.

While NBC's executives are obviously free to hire whomever they choose, we thought they might like to first consider the baggage that comes with a potential Ed Schultz television show. Is he worth it?

Yikes.  This guy is a ticking time bomb.

On the other hand, a network that is comfortable with keith olbermann's nightly hate-fest and rachel maddow's nightly smirk-fest will probably take the plunge.  Get ready for Schultz


Ken Berwitz

As John Hinderaker of shows us, Barack Obama lied to our faces with his claims about the deficit. 

Here is the proof:

Obama said, in his introductory statement:

At the end of the day, the best way to bring our deficit down in the long run is not with a budget that continues the very same policies that have led us to a narrow prosperity and massive debt. It's with a budget that leads to broad economic growth by moving from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest.

This is entirely disingenuous. Obama's budget plan multiplies the federal deficit far beyond what it has ever been, in any prior administration. So how is he "moving from an era of borrow and spend"? It's a lie, pure and simple, as this chart shows (note that it begins before the Bush administration and reflects Obama's budget projections that go beyond his maximum possible term): 


When a politician is capable of this sort of bald-faced lie, an alarm bell has to go off every time he opens his mouth. Obama likewise delivered this highly misleading assessment of AIG:

Now, understand that AIG is not a bank. It's an insurance company. If it were a bank and it had effectively collapsed, then the FDIC could step in, as it does with a whole host of banks, as it did with IndyMac, and in a structured way renegotiate contracts, get rid of bad assets, strengthen capital requirements, resell it on the private marketplace.

So we've got a regular mechanism whereby we deal with FDIC- insured banks. We don't have that same capacity with an institution like AIG. And that's part of the reason why it has proved so problematic.

I think a lot of people understandably say, "Well, if we're putting all this money in there, and if it's such a big systemic risk to allow AIG to liquidate, why is it that we can't restructure some of these contracts? Why can't we do some of the things that need to be done in a more orderly way?"

And the reason is, is because we have not obtained this authority.

But there is, in fact, a widely used mechanism to deal with non-bank financial institutions like insurance companies that may become insolvent. It's called bankruptcy. In bankruptcy, contracts are renegotiated, bad assets are gotten rid of and good assets are sold into the private sector. That system exists, and would have worked perfectly well for AIG if it were not for the federal government's desire to funnel payments to AIG's counterparties--most notably, European banks--without taking responsibility for doing so. Under Obama's proposal, every time an insurance company becomes insolvent it will be another opportunity to expand federal power.

Any questions?


Ken Berwitz

Here is a truly excellent analysis of what Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. (what a name!!) characterizes as "The Real AIG Disgrace".  Mr. Jenkins lays out the facts bluntly and unsparingly.

Read it and see the truth, in a way most mainstream media will never present it to you:

The Real AIG Disgrace


The stock market was intoxicated with the Obama administration's toxic asset plan. Whatever its contempt for the upper middle class that acquires wealth through salaried work and bonuses, Team Obama still has eyes for the hedge fund class, which will be ladled out taxpayer dollars to make one-way bets on problematic bank assets.

[Business World] AP

Andrew Cuomo and Tim Geithner.

Yet the AIG bonus episode, the administration's one true disgrace so far, will not soon be forgotten.

Tim Geithner is rightly on the hot seat for saying he didn't know about the bonuses until just weeks ago -- because he should have quelled this furor before it ever got started. Instead he played dumb and climbed aboard the outrage bandwagon -- and let Mr. Obama do the same.

There is not a shred of justice in the hysteria that followed. As AIG chief Ed Liddy explained on the Hill last week, the people receiving retention bonuses were not the same people who launched AIG's unhedged housing bets that brought the company down. Those people were gone. Their pay is already being clawed back.

Those who remained had been asked a year ago to stay and work themselves out of a job. In accepting the terms offered to them, they committed no offense (say, failing to pay taxes). Their only crime was possessing marketable knowledge -- all the more marketable because of the opportunity for hedge funds and other counterparties to profit from AIG's distress. Had the company submitted to Chapter 11 rather than a government takeover, a bankruptcy judge might well have authorized identical incentives to minimize losses and maximize recovery for legitimate stakeholders.

The Washington Post, which has consistently distinguished itself with its reporting about the real antecedents of this "scandal," yesterday followed up by detailing "months of assurances to Financial Products employees that the insurance giant would honor those contracts, according to numerous internal AIG e-mails and memos . . . ."

Whether Mr. Geithner knew the specifics is unimportant. The retention plan was known to his staff. The details had been disclosed over and over in public filings. As far back as October, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo had summoned the Treasury-appointed Mr. Liddy to hammer out a deal on AIG's pay practices. Said Mr. Cuomo in a statement afterward: "These actions are not intended to jeopardize the hard-earned compensation of the vast majority of AIG's employees, including retention and severance arrangements, who are essential to rebuilding AIG and the economy of New York."

The voluble Rep. Elijah Cummings had been railing about AIG retention bonuses almost continually, on air, in the print media, and in publicly released letters to Mr. Liddy, since Dec. 1.

On March 3, Mr. Geithner himself was quizzed during a congressional hearing in detail about the AIGFP retention plan by Democratic Rep. Joe Crowley -- a week before Mr. Geithner now says he heard of the plan.

It may be that the full picture was kicked up to him only when a political decision was needed, but by then his one decent choice was to insist on the bonuses' legality. However politically inopportune the bonuses may be, the president only dirtied himself by authorizing a feel-good, bipartisan hate storm aimed at innocent AIG employees. And it's hard to believe Mr. Obama would have done so, or the subsequent spectacle would have unfolded as it did, without Mr. Geithner's seminal prevarications (and we say this fully acknowledging that he's had a rough ride in an inhumanly difficult job).

Barney Frank, who doesn't have the excuse of being stupid, was last seen bullying Mr. Liddy to do what on any other day Mr. Frank would flay Mr. Liddy for doing -- violating the privacy rights of his employees. Charles Grassley? His early bloviating about the duty of AIG executives to kill themselves almost begins to look like a grace note, since it alerted the public to the hyperbolic playacting about to come.

Paul Kanjorski, before running off to host a hearing, proclaimed on CNBC that AIG's Mr. Liddy would be responsible if Congress now failed to summon the political courage to take necessary steps to address the financial crisis.

Pause to let it sink in. Mr. Liddy, who is doing his job with grit and personal sacrifice, is blamed in advance if Congress proves too cowardly to do its own job.

But the biggest lesson here is the old one that the price of freedom is eternal vigilance -- beginning with insistence on the rule of law. Americans clearly cannot trust their elected officials to defend their rights and interests, or care whether justice is served, when the slightest political risk might attach to doing so.

Which brings us back to Mr. Cuomo, whose office has been implicitly threatening to publish names of AIG employees who don't relinquish pay they were contractually entitled to.

Mr. Cuomo is a thug, but at least he reminds us: It can happen here


Ken Berwitz

A few quick notes on the Obama press conference:

-He read his opening statement from a large teleprompter placed in the middle of the room.  He read the names of people he called on from a list in his hand.  His answers to a number of questions were clearly rehearsed.  Can this man do anything spontaneously -- other than insulting Special Olympics participants?

-As usual, his answers were too long and too professorial.  No one expects Mr. Obama to compete with Gallagher or Chris Rock as an entertainer, but there is something between that and being ennui on legs. 

-Mr. Obama gets points for taking questions from a wide range of news sources, both liberal and conservative.  He also risked incurring disfavor from the New York Times and Washington Post, both of which were shut out of the questioning.

-Mr. Obama demonstrated his short fuse several times - most notably when Ed Henry of CNN asked why it took him so long to become outraged over the AIG bonuses.  His answer, "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak", was unpleasant and uncalled for.  It was also a pile of baloney.  How many days did he need to be outraged?  How many days did you need?  How many minutes did you need? 

Lucky Mr. Henry didn't follow up by asking why, if he felt that way, he didn't veto the stimulus bill that exempted those bonuses, thus allowing them to be paid.  He might have lost a couple of teeth.

-Mr. Obama lied to us about the economy.  Claiming you'll halve a deficit that you are raising in the first place is another pile of baloney.  Suppose someone owed you $100, and said "I can't pay you the $100.  But if you give me $900 more, I'll have $1,000 of your money.  Then I can pay back $500 and halve the debt".  Would you fork over the $900?

-Mr. Obama also displayed alarming ignorance of how taxes work.  When he complained that it wasn't fair for a rich guy to get a 39% tax deduction for charitable contributions because a bus driver gets less, he somehow overlooked the fact that the only reason the rich guy gets a 39% tax deduction is that he pays 39% in taxes. 

I would have loved it if someone followed up by asking him whether he would consider resolving the disparity by taxing the rich guy at the same level as the bus driver.  Not surprisingly, no one did.

Additionally, the premise that increasing taxation on charitable deductions won't adversely affect the donations charities receive is, at best, naive and, at worst, lying to our faces.  How much contempt for our intelligence must Mr. Obama have to say this with a straight face and believe we will buy into it?  Plenty.

All in all, a poised, workmanlike, boring, unpersuasive, often dishonest performance.


Ken Berwitz

patrick oliphant is an editorial cartoonist currently employed by several media venues, including the Washington Post. 

This is his position on Israel's action against Gaza.  .


Do you agree with this? 

Gaza, is run by hamas, a terrorist organization committed in writing to destroying Israel and killing its Jews, which fired thousands of rounds of artillery into Israel before it retaliated.  Do you liken it to a little helpless woman with a child? 

Do you think Israel is some kind of mindless monster for, at long last, doing something about the attacks? 

Well, as you can see, that is patrick oliphant's position.

On behalf of anti-Semitic colostomy bags everywhere, I would like to thank Mr. oliphant.  His work will no doubt grace their publications for years to come.


Ken Berwitz

It isn't by much, and the pollster, a Democrat, tries to put a smiley face on it as best he can, but there it is.

From John Zogby:

President Barack Obama's approval rating continues to slide, but the drop since Election Day isn't dramatic, said pollster John Zogby.

A Zogby International poll out Tuesday shows that 49 percent of Americans rate the president's job performance as excellent or good and 50 percent judge his job performance as fair or poor. Obama won 53 percent of the vote in November.

"It's pretty remarkable that anybody's at 50-50 with how bad things are right now," Zogby said in an interview.

To John, whom I met and discussed politics with at the ARF (Advertising Research Foundation) convention last year, I would like to say "nice try". 

Mr Obama's performance in the polls isn't remarkable at all, given that he has relentlessly blamed the economy on former President Bush -- as opposed to, say, the Democrats who were instrumental in forcing lending practices that took down Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac.  

What's remarkable is that his ongoing series of mistakes, large and small, accompanied by his insane spending of trillions of dollars we do not have, hasn't resulted in even lower poll numbers. 

Expect them.  Soon.


Ken Berwitz

This just came to me from my increasingly bizarre west coast pal Russ.  Be sure to have an air sickness bag close by when you read it, and maybe a smidgen of baking powder.

Please join me in remembering a great icon of the entertainment community. The Pillsbury Doughboy died yesterday of a yeast infection and trauma complications from repeated pokes in the belly. He was 71.

Doughboy was buried in a lightly greased coffin. Dozens of celebrities turned out to pay their respects, including Mrs. Butterworth, Hungry Jack, the California Raisins, Betty Crocker, Hostess Twinkies, and Captain Crunch. The grave site was piled high with flours.  

Aunt Jemima delivered the eulogy and lovingly described Doughboy as a man who never knew how much he was kneaded.  Doughboy rose quickly in show business, but his later life was filled with turnovers. He was not considered a very smart cookie, wasting much dough on half baked schemes. Despite being a little flaky at times, he still was a crusty old man and was considered a positive role model for millions.  

Doughboy is survived by his wife Play Dough, three children: John Dough, Jane Dough and Dosey Dough, plus they had one in the oven. He is also survived by his elderly father, Pop Tart.  The funeral was held at 350 for about 20 minutes.


Ken Berwitz


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Geithner Lies Through His Tax Cheating Teeth

Take a look at this video, from March 24, where Michelle Bachman grills Geithner on the Constitutional authority for some of the stimulus actions. Pay attention at the 2:00 mark where she asks Geithner if he would categorically reject Chinese proposal to dump the dollar in favor of an international currency. Geithner says he would indeed categorically reject such a proposal.

Well, apparently, he was read the riot act by someone. Because the very next day he stated he was open to the idea proposed by China. From

Geithner, at the Council on Foreign Relations, said the U.S. is "open" to a headline-grabbing proposal by the governor of the China's central bank, which was widely reported as being a call for a new global currency to replace the dollar, but which Geithner described as more modest and "evolutionary."

"I havent read the governors proposal. Hes a very thoughtful, very careful distinguished central banker. I generally find him sensible on every issue," Geithner said, saying that however his interpretation of the proposal was to increase the use of International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights -- shares in the body held by its members -- not creating a new currency in the literal sense.
Did you catch that? First he says he hasn't read the proposal, then he offers his interpretation of the proposal. How the hell is that possible? How do you interpret what you have not read? Geithner is a dangerous, dishonest liar!

I disagree.  Geithner is not a dangerous, dishonest liar.  He is a dangerous, dishonest liar and, apparently, an incompetent who doesn't know what he's saying from one minute to the next.

He has to go.  Now.

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