Thursday, 14 May 2009


Ken Berwitz

I always thought Burger King was the home of the Whopper.  But now I know it is a congressional district in San Francisco.

From Glenn Thrush at (and all over the blogosphere):


May 14, 2009
Categories: Pelosi

Pelosi: Bush briefers lied to me

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says Bush administration intelligence officials "misled" her by saying they weren't using waterboarding on terror detainees during a Sept. 2002 briefing -- months after they had actually begun waterboarding Abu Zabaydah.

The San Francisco Democrat called on CIA director Leon Panetta to release full details on her briefing -- and shook her head in the affirmative when asked if the administration had actually "lied" to her.

"The only mention of waterboarding in the briefing was that it was not being employed," she told reporters, reading from a prepared statement -- twice for emphasis.

The intelligence briefers gave Pelosi, she said, "inaccurate and incomplete information."

"Perhaps they should release the briefing-- I would be very happy if they released the briefing," Pelosi added.

Rep. Pete Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking member on the House Intelligence committee, has already made a similar request.

"This is Version 5.0 from Nancy on what happened in that Sept. meeting -- I'm not sure what today's explanation means," Hoekstra told my colleague Alex Isenstadt. "I believe that information should be released. Ive called for it to be released."

On Pelosi's claim she was lied to, he replied, "That's a very, very serious charge. If you're the Speaker of the House and you say you were lied to on a national security issue, that's a serious charge."

Pelosi, who has been besieged by questions about her knowledge of Bush administration "enhanced interrogation techniques" began by reading a statement emphasizing her long time support of human rights causes.

Then she fielded a barrage of interrogation-related questions from reporters -- and continued to answer questions several minutes after her handlers declared her weekly press conference over.

For the first time, Pelosi provided a detailed on-the-record explanation of how she became aware the administration was using waterboarding, revealing that a discussion of waterboarding did in fact occur during her initial and only briefing by CIA officials. The briefers, she claimed, "misled" her by only revealing that waterboarding was legally permissible but hadn't been used yet.

When asked why she didn't protest when she learned the truth, Pelosi replied: "They mislead us all the time" and called the entire line of questioning a "diversion" from more important questions about the behavior of Bush administration officials at the time.

"They misrepresented every step of the way, and they don't want that focus on them, so they try to turn the focus on us," she said.

When a reporter asked her if the briefers had "lied," she responded, "Yes, they did."

Pelosi didn't dispute accounts, first published two years ago in the Washington Post, that she didn't protest when informed of the administration's legal rationale for procedures she now regards as torture -- and she didn't back away from her call for the creation of a "truth commission" to investigate the matter.

Pelosi, who was House Minority leader at the time she learned of the use of waterboarding in Feb. 2003, reiterated her support for a letter of protest filed by Rep. Jane Harman, then ranking Democrat on the intelligence committee.

And she defended her decision not to confront Bush officials directly -- even after she believed they misled her.

"No letter could change the policy. It was clear we had to change the leadership in Congress and in the White House. That was my job the Congress part," Pelosi said.

Another day, another lie.

Not that lying is anything new to Pelosi,.  But this is so blatant, so unavoidably obvious, that she can't escape it.  Even our wonderful "neutral" media, which has given her so many free passes, can't duck this one.

Ironically, it probably will cause the Obama hardliners to kibosh their lust for blood against everyone in the Bush administration who even remotely thought about pressing terrorists for information that could save US lives. 

Simply stated, if they go down, Nancy Pelosi goes down.

 (Now that is an unappetizing choice of words). 


Ken Berwitz

Did you hear the one about the kid who killed his parents, and then pled for mercy at his trial because he was an orphan?

Evidently President Obama has found a way to bring this joke to life, by using it for his economic policy.

Let me show you what I mean by posting an excerpt from an article I just read at  It wil leave you slack-jawed:

Obama Says U.S. Long-Term Debt Load Unsustainable (Update1)

By Roger Runningen and Hans Nichols


May 14 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama, calling current deficit spending unsustainable, warned of skyrocketing interest rates for consumers if the U.S. continues to finance government by borrowing from other countries.


We cant keep on just borrowing from China, Obama said at a town-hall meeting in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, outside Albuquerque. We have to pay interest on that debt, and that means we are mortgaging our childrens future with more and more debt.


Holders of U.S. debt will eventually get tired of buying it, causing interest rates on everything from auto loans to home mortgages to increase, Obama said. It will have a dampening effect on our economy.

The president pledged to work with Congress to shore up entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare and said he was confident that the House and Senate would pass health-care overhaul bills by August.



Wake me up and give me coffee.  Who was in the White House when the "stimulus package" was created, debated and enacted into law by Democrats (and Democrats only - Republicans were prevented from having any input or writing even one word of this fiscal abortion)?  Who was in the White House when Democrats voted a 3.6 trillion dollar budget into place just weeks ago?\

And who signed both of them?  George Bush?  George Washington? 

What's going on here?  Does Barack Obama think the Presidency some kind of out-of-body experience? 

HE gave us this unprecedented debt.  HE gave us the "stimulus package" -- which, so far, has stimulated the economy about as much as perez hilton/mario lavandeira stimulates Carrie Prejean. 

So what does Mr. Obama do?  He rails against the policies that he and his merry henchmen put into place, as though it was somebody else's idea and somebody else's signature on those documents.  Unbelievable. 

Mange you can believe in.

free` Ken, I thought the exact same thing when i read that earlier. it is mind blowing. (05/14/09)


Ken Berwitz

What happens when you decide, for the umpteenth time, that the way to make up a deficit is by hiking taxes on "the rich" --- and you finally go one tax hike too far?

It looks like Maryland may be finding out.

From Laura Smitherman of the Baltimore Sun (the bold print is mine):

Maryland plan to tax millionaires backfires

Top earners disappearing as economy withers

May 14, 2009

One of Maryland's budget-balancing tactics - asking millionaires to pay more money to the state - appears to be backfiring as the number of the highest-earning taxpayers dwindles with the flagging economy.

A year ago, Maryland became one of the first states in the nation to create a higher tax bracket for millionaires as part of a broader package of maneuvers intended to help balance the state's finances and make the tax code more progressive.

But as the state comptroller's office sifts through this year's returns, it is finding that the number of Marylanders with more than $1 million in taxable income who filed by the end of April has fallen by one-third, to about 2,000. Taxes collected from those returns as of last month have declined by roughly $100 million.

Many taxpayers in that bracket likely filed an extension and won't complete their returns until October, but a trend is emerging that indicates a "substantial decline" in the number of residents and small businesses with that kind of income, Comptroller Peter Franchot wrote in a letter to Gov. Martin O'Malley and legislative leaders.

"The revenue figures are ugly," Franchot said in an interview. "Right now, we're digging through a pile of tax returns and trying to understand this."

The recession provides an obvious explanation. Capital gains have become almost nonexistent as stock markets have tanked. Corporate executives have seen their salaries slashed. And small businesses, many of whom file individual income tax returns, have seen their profits gouged by the economic downturn.

Another more debatable explanation would be that millionaires have simply fled the Free State. While some say they have heard anecdotal evidence of the wealthy packing it up, officials say there's no proof yet of such a development.

The new 6.5 percent bracket for the highest earners became effective for the 2008 tax year, and expires after 2010. The General Assembly made the tax change last year to help offset the repealof the unpopular computer services sales tax, which lawmakers passed just months earlier in a 2007 special session as part of $1.3 billion in tax increases intended to close a structural budget deficit.

At the time, fiscal analysts said the change would bring in nearly $330 million over three years. Lawmakers left untouched the next lowest bracket: 5.5 percent for those making more than $500,000.

Franchot said in his revenue report, the first to reflect this year's tax returns, that he is most concerned about a decline in individual income taxes, which dropped more than 17 percent last month compared to the year before.

If the current trajectory remains, tax collections could fall $130 million short of current projections, which could trigger the need for additional budget cuts later this year, Franchot said. The state has made hundreds of millions of spending reductions in recent months.

Millionaires are only part of that picture. According to fiscal analysts, those with taxable income of more than $1 million accounted for only 0.3 percent of all filers.

Karen Syrylo, a tax expert with the Maryland Chamber of Commerce, which lobbied against the millionaire bracket, said she has heard from colleagues who are attorneys and accountants that their clients moved out of state to avoid the new tax rate. She said that some Maryland jurisdictions boast some of the highest combined state and local income tax burdens in the country.

"Maryland is such a small state, and it is so easy to move a few miles south to Virginia or a few miles north to Pennsylvania," Syrylo said. "So there are millionaires who are no longer going to be filing Maryland tax returns."

But Franchot and other state officials insist that it's too early to determine if that has occurred and whether any exodus would even have a discernible impact on the state's overall budget.

During a fiscal crisis in the early 1990s, the General Assembly temporarily raised the tax rate to 6 percent for those with taxable incomes of more than $100,000 for single taxpayers and $150,000 for joint returns. The number of filers in those brackets actually increased during that time, according to the comptroller's office.

Allen Schiff, who runs an accounting firm in Towson, said that those in industries hit hard by the national downturn, such as retail and banking, are likely among those who no longer qualify to pay the millionaire tax. He added that he has several high-income earners as clients who will be paying more but have no plans to leave the state.

"When you make that type of money, another 1 percent in taxes doesn't matter," he said. "They have the attitude that it is what it is."

I love that last quote.

Maybe Allan Schiff's clientele doesn't care about "another 1 percent in taxes".  But that 1% is on top of all the other soakings of the rich already in place.  I have a strong suspicion Mr. Schiff is somehow forgetting that.

In the wonderful play "Annie", Daddy Warbucks said (I'm paraphrasing) "$100 million here, $100 million there, sooner or later that's going to add up to real money" 

Well, 1% here, 1% there, and states with lower taxation a short drive away, that just might add up to a lot of relocation.

But hey, no problem.  Maryland can make up the difference.  Just hike the taxes again, on "the rich" who are still there.  And they won't leave, because "when you make that type of money another tax hike doesn't matter". 

Yeah, that's the ticket.......


Ken Berwitz

This story comes to us from a web site called  I can't vouch for what it says (heck, it isn't even bylined) but it does have the aroma of keith olbermann all over it

See what you think:

Meltdown With Keith Olbermann!

If you regularly tune in to Countdown with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, you may remember that Olbermann was mysteriously absent from the show for three days at the end of April. But Olbermann didn't just "have the night off," as David Shuster, his fill-in, said on the air three evenings in a row. According to a source inside MSNBC, it was a bizarre temper tantrum on Olbermann's part that led him to storm off the set in protest. Even stranger: The drama was all Ben Affleck's fault.

Olbermann was not scheduled to take a vacation at the end of April. But he ended up missing three shows: Friday, April 17; Monday; April 20, and Tuesday, April 21. It's what happened on April 16, though, that prompted Olbermann to exit MSNBC's studios in such a rage.

According to a source at the network, Olbermann was livid when he learned that Rachel Maddow had booked Ben Affleck as a guest on her show. Olbermann, it turns out, had been interested in having Affleck on his show, too, and when he heard that Maddow's producers had secured the actor instead, he demanded that the interview be switched from Maddow's nine o'clock broadcast to his own an hour earlier. Maddow and her staff have been known to politely give in to Olbermann's whims in the pastit was Olbermann, after all, who helped bring Maddow to the network. This time, however, they didn't budge. (With ratings for Maddow's show a bit lackluster as of late, parting with an A-list celebrity guest isn't a decision to be made lightly.) Olbermann took the matter to senior management at MSNBC and NBC Universal and asked that they step in and "correct" the situation. That didn't happen, though, and Affleck went on Maddow's show as scheduled on Thursday, April 16. And Olbermann's three-day protest commenced the next day.

Olbermann's temperand tendency to hold grudgesis nothing new. When Dan Abrams was the host of the 9pm broadcast, Olbermann famously refused to "toss," or introduce, Abrams on the air, as he now does with Maddow. At Olbermann's insistence, five seconds of footage of the exterior of 30 Rock appeared between the two programs instead. What did Abrams do to earn Olbermann's enmity? Nothing, really, although one popular rumor floating around MSNBC at the time was that they'd both asked out the same woman a number of years ago and she'd accepted Abrams's invite instead of Olbermann's.

But Olbermann's unpredictable behavior can even put the  colleagues he doesn't have a grudge against in an uncomfortable position. On April 21day three of the stand-offDavid Shuster was asked on Twitter about Olbermann's absence. His reply speaks volumes. Shuster doesn't actually state that Olbermann has the flu. He merely points out it's "flu/allergy season," a nice little hedge in case the real story was ever revealed. He then awkwardly adds that "KO is a great guy. He will return soon, I hope," indicating that, at the time, no one really knew when Olbermann would return. (Not to mention that whether or not Olbermann is a "great guy" or not doesn't make much sense in the context of having the flu.)

The biggest questionand one no one can really answer except for Olbermann himselfis why having Ben Affleck on his show meant so much to him in the first place. The two have a past: Affleck spoofed the MSNBC host late last year, although Olbermann seemed to find the imitation flattering as you can see in this clip. It's much more likely that Affleck's role in this latest bit of drama didn't matter all that much, and this was just Olbermann attempting to once again force MSNBC to give in to his demands and satiate his ego. In which case, it was just another day at MSNBC.

We called MSNBC this morning for comment. Our call was not returned.

Update: Olbermann has issued an official statement on the matter: "That was my first opportunity to take even a long weekend to mourn my mother's death and deal with the many sad logistics subsequent to her sudden passing. The source of this story is a liar and those who spread it without seeking confirmation or reputation are beneath contempt." 

Our Response: We were saddened to hear of Olbermann's loss and found his tribute to his mother deeply moving. But if that was the reason Olbermann took time off two weeks later, we can't imagine why Olbermann wouldn't have simply said as much. Furthermore, we find it hard to believe one of his colleagues at MSNBCa respected journalist, no lesswould have attributed his absence to the "flu/allergy season" if Olbermann had made the perfectly understandable decision take a few days to mourn his mother's passing. 

I am genuinely sorry about keith olbermann's mother.  That isn't just said, it is deeply meant.  I have elderly parents and I think about this every day.

But her apparently untimely passing does not appear to have anything to do with his three day no-show. 

Look I dislike keith olbermann.  A lot.  But, my feelings aside, I would like to at least think that he wouldn't use his mother's death as cover for a boorish egotistical tantrum, and I sincerely hope he didn't do so.

But it sure does read as though he did.


Ken Berwitz

And now a word from our friends in Egypt.....the country that is supposedly at peace with Israel.

From the invaluable web site,  via Charles Johnson at, we have this children's show which is broadcast in Egypt:

Egyptian Child Abuse

Video | Wed, May 13, 2009 at 11:00:33 am PDT

Since Barack Obama has announced that he plans to address the Muslim world from Egypt in early June, perhaps he could raise the subject of television shows like this one, broadcast on Egyptian/Saudi channel Al-Hafez TV on April 27, 2009, featuring a smiling, jovial host indoctrinating Arab children to hate and murder Jews. (Via MEMRI TV.)

That is what Egyptian Television is allowed to broadcast to its children.  That is what they learn (and not only on TV, I assure you).  That is what is ingrained in them from the earliest age.  Look at the children and see for yourself.

Let me remind you again:  This is the country Israel is supposed to be AT PEACE with.  How different is its programming from what you would find in Gaza?


Ken Berwitz

You can't say President Obama is not an agent of change.

He has found a neat-o way to reduce the deficit.  What a guy!! 

How did he do it?  Well, since he didn't like the real numbers, his administration created some alternative ones.  Presto change-o, we have a deficit reduction.

And the Associated Press writer who put the story together seems either oblivious to this, or just plain determined not to report it.

If you think I'm kidding, trust me - I'm not.  Here's Tom Blumer of to explain.  Get out your calculator to check......or, if you're still mesmerized by Saint Barack, get out your blinders.  You'll need them.  (To see the actual numbers, either click on Tom's links, or click here):

AP Blows The Deficit Reporting, Part I: The $175 Billion (Yawn) Accounting Change


By Tom Blumer

May 14, 2009 - 01:43 ET

You have to see this to believe it, and even then you'll have a hard time believing it. It's the Obama administration's deficit reduction program, otherwise known as "change the accounting."

Here is what the Monthly Treasury Statement (MTS) from Uncle Sam looked like in March:


Here is the report for April:


Shazam! The government just made about $175 billion in deficits disappear (March's reported $956.8 billion compared to April's $781.4 billion through March).


Surely they jest, right? Nope.


Surely this manipulation of the government's cash reporting is front-page newsworthy, right? Not at all.


Tuesday, the AP's Martin Crutsinger gave it the "no big deal" treatment, virtually ensuring that broadcast and news outlets who rely on AP reports would pay it little heed. The AP reporter also left readers hanging as to whether the White House's predicted deficit of $1.84 trillion is before or after an "accounting change," one that will leave many readers here shaking their heads:


Gov't runs April deficit for first time since '83


The federal government ran a deficit in April for the first time in 26 years, pushing the red ink so far this budget year to a record $802.3 billion.


The Treasury Department said Tuesday the deficit for April was $20.9 billion, a sharp contrast from the surplus of $159.3 billion in the same month last year. It also was slightly more than the $20 billion deficit economists had expected.


For the budget year that began Oct. 1, the imbalance totals $802.3 billion, keeping the country on track to register the first $1 trillion annual deficit in U.S. history. And the Obama administration made an accounting change on bailout payments or the deficit already would have been at nearly $1 trillion.


The administration on Monday raised its deficit estimate for the year to $1.84 trillion, from the $1.75 trillion it estimated less than two months ago.


The administration made revisions to the deficits reported from October through March to reflect a change in how it was accounting for the bailout payments. The Bush administration recorded each payment to a bank or auto company getting bailout support on a dollar-for-dollar basis.


However, the Obama administration said it was changing the accounting process to a "net present value" basis, which means it assumes that the government is getting an asset when it provides loans to the banks and auto companies. Based on the new accounting method, the size of the deficit from October through March fell about $175 billion.

Three quick points:

  1. Crutsinger had nothing to say about what the April deficit would have been under the prior accounting method, whether the government even disclosed it, or even intends to disclose it for April or future months.
  2. The Monthly Treasury Statement has always been a cash flow statement. Excluding real outlays because their purpose was to buy assets (very questionable ones, but that's beside the point at the moment) profoundly violates cash-flow reporting principles. If you have $21,000 in your checking account and pay cash for a $20,000 car, you can't run around pretending you didn't spend $20,000 to acquire the car. That's exactly what Treasury is doing with its TARP related adjustment.
  3. The AP reporter did not tell us whether the administration's revised deficit forecast of $1.84 trillion uses the old method or the new method. If it uses the new method, that would mean that the deficit using the more conceptually correct old method will be well over $2 trillion, a huge jump from the prior $1.75 trillion. Crutsinger leaves us totally hanging, and seems oddly incurious.

Even calling this Treasury maneuver an "accounting change" overdignifies what is being done. It's a gimmick that threatens to turn this and other routine reports into indecipherable gibberish.


Maybe that's the point.


Part II will come later this morning.

Is Martin Crutsinger a dupe or an accomplice?  It seems pretty clear that he is one or the other.

Now, how about you?  Are you a dupe?  Tell you what:  anyone who accepts this I-don't-like-the-numbers-so-I'll-change-them BS doesn't need to answer.  We already have the answer.  And you can interchangeably use the letter "u" and "o" in that word, because both will fit.

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