Saturday, 16 May 2009

COMMENCEMENT: FROM ONE SIDE OF THE AISLE

Ken Berwitz

She runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.

Dorothy Parker, speaking of Katharine Hepburn

This story, from Fox News (where did you expect it from, MSNBC?  The New York Times?) tells you all you need to know about what happens when the exchange of ideas at our universities runs the gamut of diversity from A to B:

Conservative Speakers Widely Shunned at Graduation Ceremonies

While Democrats are making the rounds as keynote speakers across the country, you won't see conservatives making addresses at graduation ceremonies just about anywhere.

FOXNews.com

Friday, May 15, 2009

It's not enough that Democrats have command of some key real estate in Washington. This month, they've also got the ear of just about every college student in the country.

Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and White house chief of staff Rahm Emanuel all have multiple invites to be keynote speakers at graduations this spring.

And while President Obama is pulling a hat trick at Notre Dame, Arizona State and the U.S. Naval Academy, you won't see one of that last institution's most famous graduates on stage anywhere this year.

John McCain ... Sarah Palin ... Mitt Romney ... Rudy Giuliani ... they aren't on anyone's program in 2009. Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich? Persona non grata, thank you very much.

So whatever happened to conservatives?

Education watchdogs say it's nothing strange for conservatives to be shunned from the academy, and that the one-sided invitations have become a permanent fixture of the ivory tower.

"The colleges have been transformed," said David Horowitz, whose organization, Students for Academic Freedom, tracks ideological bias on campus. "They're now these partisan institutions. They're not going to change."

Horowitz ran a study in 2003 that looked at commencement speakers at 32 top institutions in the U.S. for the previous 10 years. He found that liberals and Democrats were favored over conservatives by a ratio of 15-1. And then he stopped counting.

"It's permanent. It's not going to change, partly because there's so little attention being paid to it," he told FOXNews.com.

A few conservatives have gotten invites this year, though you could probably cram them all into a compact car.

Gov. Bobby Jindal will be addressing Loyola University, Louisiana Tech, and Grambling State University, all located in his home state of Louisiana. Sen. Richard Lugar will be the keynote speaker at Ball State University, which is located in his home of Indiana. California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican, will be addressing USC.

Conservative speakers are often big targets for protest. Students and teachers literally turned their backs on President Bush during his annual addresses, and an English professor even resigned when Condoleezza Rice spoke at Boston College in 2006.

This year hasn't been much of an exception -- and the protests have started well before the pomp and circumstance.

Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay who's running for governor of California as a Republican, canceled her speech at UCLA's Anderson School of Management in the wake of protests over her support for Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in the state.

Conservative Ben Stein was uninvited as speaker at the University of Vermont because of his views on evolution. He was replaced by former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean .

J. Harvie Wilkinson, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals, is facing fire at the University of Virginia Law School, where he'll be speaking May 17. Students have objected to his views on issues like affirmative action and detentions of enemy combatants.

But the furor and froth have gone both ways this year. President Obama's coming address at Notre Dame has set off students and faculty at the Catholic university. And Sen. Bob Casey Jr., a Democrat, withdrew as commencement speaker from St. Vincent's College in Pennsylvania after a Catholic bishop criticized him for his support of funding groups that provide abortions overseas.

Conservatives, whose campus woes look to continue for the foreseeable future, may find a kindred spirit in at least one Cabinet member who seems to have fallen out of favor with the campus crowd.

Notably absent from the stage this year is Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, who would seem like a hot property in a year defined by the financial crisis. Geithner, who President Obama joked is being treated like a fire hydrant by the big dogs in Washington, isn't making the rounds at any universities.

Little wonder that so-called institutes of higher learning have degenerated into the indoctrination centers so many of them are. 

If you understand this, you understand a lot about why a) students go through college "thinking" the way they do and b) why so many of them change their views so much after leaving college and going into the real world.

 


BAGHDAD NANCY'S LATEST VERSION OF "THE TRUTH"

Ken Berwitz

How odd to see those words, "the truth", in the same line as the name Nancy Pelosi. 

Here is her latest version of what she knew and when she knew it regarding waterboarding and so-called "torture":

Posted: 05/16/09 11:32 AM [ET]

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has backed down slightly in her fight with the CIA, saying that she really meant only to criticize the Bush administration rather than career officials.

"My criticism of the manner in which the Bush Administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe," Pelosi said in a statement.

Pelosi caused an uproar Thursday when she accused the CIA of lying to her about its use of waterboarding which she considers torture on terrorism suspects.

Her comment came after President Obama's CIA director, Leon Panetta, challenged her version of events, insisting that his agency told her the truth in a controversial September 2002 briefing.

Panetta, who served with Pelosi in Congress as a fellow California Democrat, had issued a memo to CIA staff Friday reiterating that agency records show "CIA officers briefed truthfully on the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah, describing 'the enhanced techniques that had been employed,'" according to CIA records.

"We are an agency of high integrity, professionalism and dedication," Panetta said in the memo. "Our task is to tell it like it is even if thats not what people always want to hear. Keep it up. Our national security depends on it."

In her statement and answers Thursday, Pelosi had switched back and forth between criticizing the CIA and Bush administration officials. Republicans said she was unfairly criticizing non-political career officials doing the briefing when she claimed "they mislead us all the time."

In what is so far the most difficult episode of her speakership, Pelosi is under fire about what she knew of the abusive interrogation techniques approved by the Bush administration and when she knew it.

At the same news conference where she accused the CIA of misleading her on the topic, Pelosi acknowledged for the first time that she knew in 2003 that terrorism suspects were waterboarded. She said she learned that from an aide who sat in on a briefing in February 2003.

Republicans have called her a hypocrite for criticizing techniques as "torture" when she tacitly agreed to the practices after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. One lawmaker Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa)
called on Pelosi  Friday to step down as Speaker.

At the same time, liberal groups could question why she didn't push back harder against the Bush administration. Pelosi defended herself for not speaking out at the time about information disclosed in a classified briefing. Asked why she didn't co-sign a formal objection by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who attended the briefing with Pelosi aide Mike Sheehy, Pelosi said any objection would have done little good.

"No letter could change the policy," she said on May 14 at a news conference. "It was clear we had to change the leadership in Congress and in the White House. That was my job, the Congress part."

         

Count 'em up:

-First she didn't know, then she was told about it abstractly but not told it was actually being used, then it was that the CIA lied to her, then it was...............

Enough!  What's the point?  Anyone who believes anything out of this consummate phony's mouth is beyond reason anyway.

Baghdad Nancy.  That says it all.


ERIC HOLDER ON WATERBOARDING & TORTURE

Ken Berwitz

toady  noun, plural toadies, verb, toadied, toadying.

1. an obsequious flatterer;  sycophant

Synonyms:  1. fawner, yes man, parasite, apple polisher.

Do you ever wonder why I call Attorney General eric holder President Obama's toady, and refuse to capitalize his name (because I won't accord him that level of respect)?

If so, this may help.  It is excerpted from a terrific article by Connie Hair of www.humanevents.com, and provides transcripted "highlights" of an unbelievably telling exchange between two Republican congresspeople (Dan Lungren, Louis Gohmert) and holder regarding holder's position on whether waterboarding is torture:

Lundgren asked if it was the Justice Departments position that Navy SEALS subjected to waterboarding as part of their training were being tortured.

Holder:  No, its not torture in the legal sense because youre not doing it with the intention of harming these people physically or mentally, all were trying to do is train them --

Lungren:  So its the question of intent?

Holder:  Intent is a huge part.

Lungren:  So if the intent was to solicit information but not do permanent harm, how is that torture?

Holder:  Well, it uh it one has to look at... ah it comes out to question of fact as one is determining the intention of the person who is administering the waterboarding.  When the Communist Chinese did it, when the Japanese did it, when they did it in the Spanish Inquisition we knew then that was not a training exercise they were engaging in. They were doing it in a way that was violative of all of the statutes recognizing what torture is. What we are doing to our own troops to equip them to deal with any illegal act -- that is not torture.

Were training our troops to deal with illegal acts? Can you imagine this guy in combat?

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-Texas), a former judge, continued the intent line of questioning in an attempt to make some sense of the attorney generals tortured logic.

Rep. Louie Gohmert:  Whether waterboarding is torture you say is an issue of intent.  If our officers when waterboarding have no intent and in fact knew absolutely they would do no permanent harm to the person being waterboarded, and the only intent was to get information to save people in this country then they would not have tortured under your definition, isnt that correct?

Attorney General Eric Holder:  No, not at all.  Intent is a fact question, its a fact specific question.

Gohmert:  So what kind of intent were you talking about?

Holder:  Well, what is the intention of the person doing the act?  Was it logical that the result of doing the act would have been to physically or mentally harm the person?

Gohmert:  I said that in my question.  The intent was not to physically harm them because they knew there would be no permanent harm -- there would be discomfort but there would be no permanent harm -- knew that for sure.  So, is the intent, are you saying its in the mind of the one being water-boarded, whether they felt they had been tortured.  Or is the intent in the mind of the actor who knows beyond any question that he is doing no permanent harm, that he is only making them think hes doing harm.

Holder:  The intent is in the person who would be charged with the offense, the actor, as determined by a trier of fact looking at all of the circumstances.  That is ultimately how one decides whether or not that person has the requisite intent.  

You don't need me to tell you how this looks.  It speaks for itself.

eric holder is a toady.  He'll do what he is told by his master Barack Obama, just as he did what he was told for his previous master Bill Clinton.  And if he makes a complete fool of himself in the process?  Hey, what are toadies for?


THE DESCENT OF THE NEW YORK TIMES (CONT.)

Ken Berwitz

Here, from Mark Finkelstein of www.finkelblog.com, is another example (among many) of how far the New York Times has descended:

Times Puts Pot Pies on Front Page, Pelosi On A20

 

(if you have trouble seeing the video, just click here)

 

The sitting Speaker of the House of Representatives has accused the CIA of lying to Congress.  She is ensnared in a web of conflicting accounts.  Her very hold on power could be under a cloud.  Meh.  Guess we can find some room on A20. But pot pies need to be heated to 165 degrees to be safe?  Stop the presses and put it on the front page!

Such is the news judgment of the New York Times. The Morning Joe crowd had a field day with the Gray Lady, and Pelosis travails, during the shows opening half-hour today, Joe Scarborough having great fun pretending to assume that Pelosis pathetic presser would be on the Times front page one. Willie Geist eventually discovered the story on A20.

On a more serious note, Scarborough observed that to be really truthful about this: everybody knows shes lying. Mark Halperin of Time was equally dismissive: the position she took yesterday that caused the most people to laugh was when she said after I realized this was a problem, all I could do was fight for Democratic control of Congress. Halperin also underlined the Times double-standard, remarking facetiously: theyre using the template for Gingrich.  Just what they would do if Gingrich [had been caught in a similar mess].

When people including fellow Democrats are laughing at Pelosi, when everyone knows shes not telling the truth, when the Speaker accuses a key player in the war against terrorism of lying, that is huge newsunless of course youre a liberal paper more interested in preserving Dem power than in reporting the news.

I rest my case.

 


THE CHRYSLER LIES

Ken Berwitz

If you want a birds-eye view of just how completely President Obama still owns our wonderful "neutral" media, read the following excerpt from a terrific blog by Tim Blumer of www.newsbusters.org.  It is nothing short of devastating:

Obama And Admin's Blatant Chrysler Plant-Closing Fibs to Four States' Pols Get Virtually No National Notice

By Tom Blumer (Bio | Archive)
May 15, 2009 - 23:58 ET

 

Imagine if in December George W. Bush and his administration had:

  • Decided not to issue the initial bailout billions to General Motors but not Chrysler, thereby forcing Chrysler into bankruptcy.
  • Had his advisers get on the phone with elected in officials in towns and states where Chrysler has plants and told them that the bankruptcy was about to happen.
  • Said that the Chrysler bankruptcy "will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or the communities that depend" on them.

Now imagine if, 24-36 hours later, Bush's advisers disclosed that many Chrysler plants would close.

Does anyone reading this think that such an obvious betrayal would have gone unreported by the major TV networks or newspapers of record?

 

Well, on Wednesday and Thursday, April 29 and 30, Barack Obama and his administration did exactly what I described above. Then, on May 1, Obama's car guys and Chrysler announced the closings of plants in Ohio, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Michigan. Yet this shocking deception, acknowledged as such by well-known names in both major parties, has only been news in the metro areas affected.

 

In a May 10 column in the Cleveland Plain Dealer, reporter Stephen Koff did the fine job of laying out the details of the story. It's a definite read-the-whole-painful-thing piece, but here are some of Koff's key paragraphs (bolds are mine; the Plain Dealer has a separate detailed timeline here).

 

But this "will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or the communities that depend on it," Obama said.

 

That seemed straightforward enough, and it mirrored the statements the Congress members had just heard from the top task force officials -- that there would be no plant closings and no layoffs, with only short-term plant idling to restructure and move excess inventory off the lots.

 

Maybe someone should have asked what the White House meant by "no plans" and "disrupt."

 

Congress members say they were blind-sided by the news the next day, May 1, that Chrysler in fact intended to permanently shutter five plants: one each in Ohio, Wisconsin and Missouri, and two in Michigan.

The news was embarrassing as well as shocking, since many members, like LaTourette, had issued statements applauding, for instance, the report that no jobs would be cut at the 1,250-worker Twinsburg Stamping Plant. Candice Miller, a Republican congresswoman representing Sterling Heights, Mich., home of a 1,400-worker Chrysler plant, even went on the House floor soon after Obama's announcement, saying it meant, "most importantly, no plant closures or new job losses."

 

Wrong. Sterling Heights, like Twinsburg, would be sucker-punched the next day with news of a plant closing.

Were Congress members duped? If so, by whom and why?

 

The short answers appear to be yes, by both Chrysler and the White House.

 

A further appalling aspect in all of this is the unwillingness of virtually every Democrat involved except Dennis Kucinich to go on the record to criticize the administration's self-evident deception. Read the rest of the story, and you'll see pathetic cop-outs or stone silence from the likes of Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown, Ohio Congressperson Betty Sutton, and Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm.

 

A May 6 Plain Dealer story notes that "Chrysler acknowledges it failed to inform Twinsburg and other communities of imminent plant closures." I'm not aware of any such acknowledgment by the government, let alone anything resembling an apology from President Barack ("[it] will not disrupt the lives of the people who work at Chrysler or the communities that depend on it") Obama.

 

I wonder how the employees affected feel, knowing that they're being left jobless while their union's health plan controls half of the new company, and that they were further treated like mushrooms (kept in the dark and fed horse manure) until the attention of the nation's press disappeared?

 

If the national establishment media are offended at being used, I sure haven't seen it. I don't expect that I ever will.

I'll second Mr. Blumer's motion by asking again:  What would media have done with this story if these in-your-face lies were perpetrated by the Bush administration, and the result was thousands and thousands of job losses during a recession?

Can you even begin to imagine how completely it would be attacked?

Can't you just hear the talking heads railing about this -- after the months of ridiculing Bush for saying he would create or save millions of jobs (which they would certainly have done)?  Can't you hear their sarcastic demands that he tell us whether he was creating or saving the Chrysler jobs?

But this isn't the Bush administration.  This is the Obama administration.  So media's job is not to inform you about trifling little stories like this, it is to show you footage of Mr. Obama smiling and mugging for the cameras during the correspondent's dinnner, and to pretend that he didn't laugh out loud when wanda sykes lied about what Rush Limbaugh said and then wished him kidney failure.

Media-wise, the best thing a politician can do is have a "D" next to his/her name.  It covers (for) a multitude of sins.


BAGHDAD BARACK

Ken Berwitz

Nancy Pelosi ain't the only one.

From Michelle Malkin:

Bad habit: Companies say Obama inflated promises again

By Michelle Malkin    May 15, 2009 10:28 AM

This is getting to be a habit. During the stimulus debate, President Obama exploited Caterpillar and spread exaggerated claims about the massive spending programs effects on the manufacturers jobs. Caterpillar had to publicly refute Obama.

Hes moved on to his government health care takeover plans. And once again, the b.s.er-in-chief is using private industry to float inflating promises about the massive spending program.

The health care companies have now publicly refuted Obama:

Hospitals and insurance companies said Thursday that President Obama had substantially overstated their promise earlier this week to reduce the growth of health spending.

Mr. Obama invited health industry leaders to the White House on Monday to trumpet their cost-control commitments. But three days later, confusion swirled in Washington as the companies trade associations raced to tamp down angst among members around the country.

After meeting with six major health care organizations, Mr. Obama hailed their cost-cutting promise as historic.

These groups are voluntarily coming together to make an unprecedented commitment, Mr. Obama said. Over the next 10 years, from 2010 to 2019, they are pledging to cut the rate of growth of national health care spending by 1.5 percentage points each year an amount thats equal to over $2 trillion.

Health care leaders who attended the meeting have a different interpretation. They say they agreed to slow health spending in a more gradual way and did not pledge specific year-by-year cuts.

Theres been a lot of misunderstanding that has caused a lot of consternation among our members, said Richard J. Umbdenstock, the president of the American Hospital Association. Ive spent the better part of the last three days trying to deal with it.

Nancy-Ann DeParle, director of the White House Office of Health Reform, said the president misspoke on Monday and again on Wednesday when he described the industrys commitment in similar terms. After providing that account, Ms. DeParle called back about an hour later on Thursday and said: I dont think the president misspoke. His remarks correctly and accurately described the industrys commitment.

O-nocchio!

I was speaking to my sister this morning, and she wondered if there is some kind of time limit on Barack Obama's promises.  Her reasoning is that he keeps making and breaking them. 

It seems to me she's got a perfect handle on things.

 


DID HE HAVE A GRAPEFRUIT AS BACKUP?

Ken Berwitz

Here's the latest "you can't make this stuff up" story.  It comes to us from the Greensboro (North Carolina) News-Record:

Man tries to rob Forsyth store with banana

Friday, May 15, 2009

By J. Brian Ewing
Staff Writer

 

WINSTON-SALEM A man failed to rob a convenience store Thursday morning with a banana, the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office says.

 

John Steven Szwalla, 17, of 340 Yukon Trail in Wallburg, is charged with attempted robbery with a dangerous weapon.

 

According to a sheriffs report, a man tried to rob 109 Biz Center around 1 a.m. Witnesses told deputies he entered the store and demanded money from the clerk while holding an object under his shirt that looked like a weapon. When a customer grabbed the mans arm, however, a banana fell out from under his shirt, according to the report.

 

The clerk and customers grabbed the man until deputies arrived.

 

Szwalla is being held at the Forsyth County Detention Center on a $50,000 bond.

All things considered, he should have just taken the banana and split.

No point in challenging a guilty verdict either:  he'd lose on a peel.

Ok, this story is worth only two godawful jokes.  If you want a third, you'll have to come up with your own.


THE BUSH REDEMPTION

Ken Berwitz

Did you think it would start happening this quickly?  I know I didn't.  But here it is.

From Abe Greenwald of Commentary Magazine (the bold print is mine):

It's a Good Time to Be George W. Bush

Abe Greenwald

Let's face it, this is shaping up as George W. Bush's best month in years. The last time the 43rd president enjoyed this kind of vindication was when a bedraggled Saddam Hussein was pulled from a hole in the ground by American soldiers in 2003. All of Barack Obama's efforts to cast the Bush administration as an immoral stain on American history have not merely collapsed, but collapsed on the heads of Bush's most public and vocal critics.

Here's a non-stammering Nancy Pelosi talking about Bush last July: "God bless him, bless his heart, president of the United States -- a total failure, losing all credibility with the American people on the economy, on the war, on energy, you name the subject."

Don't mind if I do. How about national security? It turns out that support for a criminal investigation of Bush policies yielded an important finding after all: Pelosi's own long-standing agreement with the Bush administration's toughest measures. On that point she's in sync with the rest of the country. A CNN/Opinion Research Corp poll found that Americans approve of the interrogation methods Bush okayed by a margin of 50% to 46%. In other words, she didn't have to go through the condemnation charade to begin with.

Then there's Iraq. That July interview with Pelosi is quite a goldmine. When faced with a 14% approval rating for Congress, she counters: "Everything I see says this is about ending the war. . . " Well, that's not happening anytime soon. Everything I see says "ending the war" was as phony as Nancy Pelosi's outrage. Hillary Clinton went to Baghdad three weeks ago to reassure the Maliki government that the the Obama administration will not abandon Iraq. On top of that, Gen. Ray Odierno said the U.S. might "maintain a presence" in some Iraqi cities beyond the scheduled draw-down date if the Iraqis request it. Did Pelosi mean the other war, in Afghanistan? Obama has done an outstanding job of taking that challenge seriously, and for those keeping score, his pick of Gen. Stanley McChrystal (the man who hunted down Abu Musab al-Zarqawi in Iraq) has met with the gushing approval of Dick Cheney.

And speaking of Dick Cheney: Not only has he proved to be an important and articulate defender of the Bush administration's national-security policy; his repeated interviews and statements have done Bush the service of drawing fire away from the former president. Bush not only looks wise these days; he looks modest and thoughtful as well. And Cheney's (denied) request to declassify more CIA interrogation memos explodes the myth of the "most secretive administration in American history."

Let us not forget the Guantanamo Bay detainee facility. For years adduced as a monument to the Bush administration's disdain for due process and human rights, Gitmo was slated to be shut down by Barack Obama as a first order of business. Today, the posture without a plan has come up against a bi-partisan roadblock. Thursday, the House denied the Obama administration a requested $80 million to close the facility. The Senate's version of the bill in question contains $50 million for the Pentagon to shutter the place, but the money can only be tapped 30 days after Robert Gates devises a plan to relocate detainees outside the U.S. -- so far France will take one. To top it all off, Obama will apparently soon announce the revival of Guantanamo military trials.

On Iran, the Obama administration is veering from its stance of bottomless "respect" and "perseverance." This week Obama set early October as a "target" to determine whether Iran is really deserving of all that extended goodwill. Additionally, the administration has drawn up benchmarks to gauge Tehran's cooperation in halting their march toward a nuclear weapon. As Robert Kagan put it, "[Obama's] policy toward Iran makes sense, so long as he is ready with a serious Plan B if the negotiating track with Tehran fails."  The October non-surprise will be the revelation that Bush wasn't merely neglecting to smile at the mullahs and to ask nicely.

Finally, there's the strange and frankly unsettling image makeover of the Saudi royals. The Bush family's alleged intimacy with an extremist monarchy formed the very backbone of the anti-Bush industry. Yet, upon taking office Barack Obama commented on the bravery of King Abdullah and went on to virtually adopt the Saudi Peace Initiative as American policy. The administration is also seriously considering sending released Guantanamo detainees through the Saudi "jihad rehab" program. A week ago, "60 Minutes" aired a prime-time broadcast praising the same absurdity. The free pass Barack Obama gets on his all-encompassing embrace of Riyadh leaves the score of anti-Bush best sellers and documentaries looking a little less than credible.

President Obama, and the country at large, is finding out that George W. Bush's most controversial policies were not born of ideological delusion, American arrogance, or missionary zeal. They were imperfect but sound (with the exception of our ties to Riyadh) responses to complicated threats. But the validation of the last president runs a very distant second to the most compelling aspect of all this: the drama over CIA interrogations and Guantanamo will hopefully serve to set the administration on a more serious national security course. And it would be helpful if the American public finally dropped moral outrage as the preferred mode of political argumentation.

The question in my mind is, if jimmy carter can be "rehabilitated" in the public's view for his unbelievably abysmal four years as President, how far can George Bush go for doing what he had to do to keep us safe after 9/11, then orchestrating a years-long return to prosperity from the havoc 9/11 wreaked on our economy?

The answer may well be sooner, and more decisively, than most people (including me) had any inkling of.


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