Monday, 08 June 2009


Ken Berwitz

Shelby Steele is a research fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institute.  He has written a very worthwhile, very scholarly article about President Obama's nomination of Sonia Sotomayor for the United States Supreme Court. 

You can read it all by clicking the link I provided above.  But here is the final segment which, I think, says volumes all by itself:

Judge Sotomayor is the archetypal challenger. Challengers see the moral authority that comes from their group's historic grievance as an entitlement to immediate parity with whites -- whether or not their group has actually earned this parity through development. If their group is not yet competitive with whites, the moral authority that comes from their grievance should be allowed to compensate for what they lack in development. This creates a terrible corruption in which the group's historic grievance is allowed to count as individual merit. And so a perverse incentive is created: Weakness and victimization are rewarded over development. Better to be a troublemaker than to pursue excellence.

Sonia Sotomayor is of the generation of minorities that came of age under the hegemony of this perverse incentive. For this generation, challenging and protesting were careerism itself. This is why middle- and upper middle-class minorities are often more militant than poor and working-class minorities. America's institutions -- universities, government agencies, the media and even corporations -- reward their grievance. Minority intellectuals, especially, have been rewarded for theories that justify grievance.

And here we come to Judge Sotomayor's favorite such ingenuity: disparate impact. In the now celebrated Ricci case the city of New Haven, Conn., threw out a paper and pencil test that firefighters were required to take for promotion because so few minorities passed it. In other words, the test had a disparate and negative impact on minorities, so the lead plaintiff, Frank Ricci -- a white male with dyslexia who worked 10 hours a day to pass the test at a high level -- was effectively denied promotion because he was white. Judge Sotomayor supported the city's decision to throw out the test undoubtedly because of her commitment to disparate impact -- a concept that invariably makes whites accountable for minority mediocrity.

Challengers are essentially team players. Their deepest atavistic connection is to their aggrieved race, ethnicity or gender. Toward the larger society that now often elevates and privileges them, they carry a lingering bad faith -- and sometimes a cavalier disregard where whites are concerned, as with Judge Sotomayor in the Ricci case.

With the Sotomayor nomination, Mr. Obama has made the same mistake his wife made in her "This is the first time I am proud of my country" remark: bad faith toward an America that has shown him only good faith.

Mr. Steele, no doubt, will be lambasted by the usual race-obsessed suspects for daring to fully consider Ms. Sotomayor's nomination and reach conclusions which depart from what he is "supposed to think". 

But I thank him for doing so.  And, because of it, when he agrees with these detractors on some other issue, I will be confident that it, too, is the product of full consideration rather than what he is "supposed to think".

The operative word is "credibility".  He has it.  And all too many of his critics do not.


Ken Berwitz

From an article by Blaine Harden in today's Washington Post:

TOKYO, June 8 -- A North Korean court sentenced two U.S. journalists to 12 years in a labor camp Monday, as the government of Kim Jong Il continued to ratchet up tension with the United States and its neighbors.

Laura Ling and Euna Lee, television reporters detained in March along North Korea's border with China, received harsher sentences than many outsiders had expected. But several experts in South Korea predicted that talks will begin soon to negotiate their release.

The U.S. government said it was "deeply concerned."

The five-day trial of Ling and Lee was held in Pyongyang's Central Court, the top court in North Korea. Outside observers were not allowed.

"The trial confirmed the grave crime they committed against the Korean nation and their illegal border crossing," the official Korean Central News Agency said. It said the court sentenced "each of them to 12 years of reform through labor."

The "grave crime," however, was not explained. The reporters had earlier been accused of unspecified "hostile acts." Legal analysts in South Korea said the North Korean court may have sentenced the women to the maximum of 10 years of hard labor for hostile acts and added on two years for illegal entry.

The detention and sentencing of the two journalists has coincided with -- and become entangled in -- a series of provocative acts by North Korea that this spring have angered its neighbors, its historical allies and much of the world.

The heavily armed, secretive state -- in the throes of a succession process, as the country's ailing leader prepares to hand power over to his youngest son -- launched a long-range missile in April, detonated a nuclear bomb in May and has renounced the truce that ended the Korean War.

This, ladies and gentemen, is a test.  It is a test to see what, if anything, President Obama will do about it.  It is a test to see what kim jong il, the lunatic running North Korea, can get from Mr. Obama in return for turning over these two journalists - whose only crime appears to be that they represent an opportunity for him to do so.

Will Barack Obama fold?  Will he play hardball?  Will he perform like he has any idea of what he is doing?

We better hope he'll do better than what he's done with our economy.


Ken Berwitz

As the economy continues to plummet after Barack Obama's "stimulus package" was supposed to jump start it, Mr. Obama is now engaging in what Muhammad Ali would have called his rope-a-dope, which is to bounce around as a diversionary tactic, to try making himself a hard target to nail.

Here is the beginning of a larger article from the Associated Press:

Obama: America Is In Very Deep Recession


President Promises To Create 600,000 Stimulus Jobs This Summer

WASHINGTON (AP) ― President Barack Obama said Monday that the nation is in a very deep recession and that it will take a considerable amount of time for things to turnaround.


Earlier, the president promised to deliver more than 600,000 jobs through his $787 billion stimulus plan this summer, repackaging a pledge the administration made weeks earlier as the economy continues to lose hundreds of thousands of jobs each month.

Remember when Mr. Obama said that without the "stimulus package" our unemployment would go over 9%.  Well, he got it and now unemployment is already over 9% - and heading north.  Quickly. 

Remember when he told us if we had the "stimulus package" we would create 4,000,000 jobs this year.  Remember when he then quickly revised it to creating or saving 4,000,000 jobs (how do you measure saved jobs)?  Well, he got it and we have lost about 1,600,000 jobs since then.

We have gone untold trillions into debt, with the result being an economy far, far worse than George Bush left it. 

So what is President Obama doing?  He's doing a rope-a-dope. And you're supposed to be the dope.

Some people will continue to be just that.  I hope you're not one of them.


Ken Berwitz

From Ed Morrissey, writing for

Breaking: SCOTUS stops Chrysler sale

posted at 4:18 pm on June 8, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
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The Supreme Court, in an order signed by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, has stopped the sale of Chrysler to Fiat and the bankruptcy plan engineered by the White House.  No details are available quite yet on the story, but I will be watching for updates on the wires and blogs.

Ginsburg stopping the sale, though thats interesting in and of itself.

Update: Stayed pending further order, Ginsburg noted.  That could mean a temporary stay, but

Chrysler has said a delay could scuttle the deal.

A federal appeals court in New York had earlier approved the sale, but gave opponents until 4 p.m. EDT Monday to try to get the Supreme Court to intervene.

Ginsburg issued her order just before 4 p.m., when Chrysler would have been free to complete the sale of most of its assets to Fiat.

She can ask the full court to decide whether to continue the stay or vacate it on her own, but if she was inclined towards the latter, she wouldnt have issued the stay.  And if Ginsburg has a problem with the government intervention here, just wait until Scalia and Thomas get a crack at it.

Update II: AFP reports on the decision:

The move will allow the justices to consider whether to allow a full hearing of the legal issues a delay which Chrysler and US officials say could cause the plan to collapse.

A group of Indiana pension funds opposed to Chryslers sale to Fiat filed the emergency appeal with the Supreme Court to halt the sale.

The pension funds wanted a hearing on alleged violations to due process that damaged their standing in the bankruptcy.  The appellate court didnt want to allow it, but Ginsburgs decision shows that those claims have enough merit to get heard.

Update III: Chrysler says they only have until June 15 to complete the sale to Fiat, and after that theyll have to flat-out liquidate.  Maybe they should have done better by their senior creditors then, huh?  And guess whos representing them?  Thomas Lauria the lawyer who blew the whistle on the Obama administrations extortive tactics in the negotiations.  You think hes loving this today?

Fascinating, and then some.  Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is at least as far left as anyone Barack Obama would be able to place on the Supreme Court, is the one who signed this order.

It is very nice, and very reassuring, to see that Justice Ginsburg cares about the rights of senior creditors. 

But pretty awful that the President of the United States and the people around him do not.

UPDATE:  Here are two excellent "comments" that were made about Ed's blog:

I hope this is a turn.that the Supreme Court is sending a message, loud, and clear to Obama and his goons, that this will NOT be tolerated. Contracts mean something. You dont just throw someone to the side, because its politically expedient for you to do so.

Thank you Justice Ginsburg. You are the hero of the day!

capejasmine on June 8, 2009 at 5:11 PM


Dont know if anyone else said this, but could this actually result in EVERYTHING being hung out to dry? The forced government takeover, the crony-rewarding dealership closings, all the other arm-twisting?

JamesLee on June 8, 2009 at 5:11 PM

free` **** On a different note **** Ken I ran across this post and thought that you may like to report on it, it fits in with your reports about media bias and is one of the best reports I have seen that shows how biased the media is. Maybe you can add a feature like Drudge has for people to send tips on articles. (06/08/09)

free` When I read last week that ginsberg would be the one reviewing the case I thought we were screwed for sure. (06/08/09)


Ken Berwitz

Earlier this morning I watched Matt Lauer interview Alan Mulally, the Ford Motor Company's CEO.  Lauer led by pointing out that Ford was the only one of the so-called "Big 3" automakers who had not taken government money.

For the most part his interview was very good.  The questions were fair, they were intelligent and the probing was logical.  All in all, very worthwhile.

But one question toward the end of the interview fascinated me, as did Mulally's answer.  Here it is:

LAUER:  When you look at the situations with Chrysler and lets maybe focus on GM more Mr. Mulally.  How do you think this is going to impact the psyche of the consumers?  I think this can go either way.  (On the) one hand they might say Wait a second, Im not going to buy a car from a company that is in bankruptcy, I dont know if my local dealers going to be around.  On the other hand, Im wondering if the American taxpayer might say Wait a minute, I now own 60% of that company;  if Im going to buy an American car Im going to buy a car from a company I have a vested interest in.  How do you see it?


MULALLY:  Well, I think the consumer is going to purchase the cars and trucks that they really do want and they really value..

I prefer to think that the alternative Lauer didn't ask about was unintentional, that he and his staff simply overlooked it.  That alternative would have been:

"Of course there is another ways of looking at this as well.  The consumer might say:

-"I will buy a Ford product because I resent the fact that GM (and Chrysler) have sucked up billions of my tax dollars and are no longer part of the free enterprise system.  I do not believe our government can run car companies effectively, because it doesn't run anything else effectively. 

-"I believe that instead of making the cars and trucks consumers like me want, the government-owned car companies will make whatever kinds of cars the various political pressure groups demand of them.  This will result in cars that are more PC (e.g. too small, too light, fewer comfort and technology innovations) and less attractive to buyers. 

-"Further, the cars will be built by union labor, which knows there is no consequence to the quality of their work, since the government is perfectly willing to operate at a loss - just the way it has done with AMTRAK for decades.  So no matter how poorly the cars are constructed, no matter how many workers are featherbedded into their production and no matter how much money is lost, they'll all have their jobs anyway.  For the buyer it will be a horror show.  But for the unions it will be Christmas every day.  And they'll show their appreciation to the Obama administration in future elections to keep that gravy train running"

Interestingly, and tellingly, Mulally's simple, straightforward comment, "Well, I think the consumer is going to purchase the cars and trucks that they really do want and they really value....." Answers every one of those points.

Zeke Government Motors will surely announce a Truth-in-Model-Name program. ... So you can buy a ... Featherbed-by-Union-Labor, ... or a .... Good-Enough-for-Government-Work .... or a .... Subsidized-to-the-Hilt Piece-of-Crap. .... Hey !, if you get a $10,000 tax credit when you buy your Piece-of-Crap .... everyone wins .... don't they ? (06/08/09)


Ken Berwitz

"free", one of the more regular commenters here, suggested I take a look at an article from  which shows in great detail how President Bush offered exactly the same olive branch to the Muslim world that President Obama is now offering. 

Good suggestion. 

Here is the first part of this article (which is way too long to post in its entirety).  I urge you to click on the link above and read it all:

The Presidents Charm Offensive

Posted by: Wordsmith @ 9:28 am in 9/11,

The President said:

It is untenable for Israeli citizens to live in terror. It is untenable for Palestinians to live in squalor and occupation. And the current situation offers no prospect that life will improve. Israeli citizens will continue to be victimized by terrorists, and so Israel will continue to defend herself.

In the situation the Palestinian people will grow more and more miserable. My vision is two states, living side by side in peace and security. There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror. Yet, at this critical moment, if all parties will break with the past and set out on a new path, we can overcome the darkness with the light of hope.


I can understand the deep anger and despair of the Palestinian people. For decades youve been treated as pawns in the Middle East conflict. Your interests have been held hostage to a comprehensive peace agreement that never seems to come, as your lives get worse year by year. You deserve democracy and the rule of law. You deserve an open society and a thriving economy. You deserve a life of hope for your children. An end to occupation and a peaceful democratic Palestinian state may seem distant, but America and our partners throughout the world stand ready to help, help you make them possible as soon as possible.


I have a hope for the people of Muslim countries. Your commitments to morality, and learning, and tolerance led to great historical achievements. And those values are alive in the Islamic world today. You have a rich culture, and you share the aspirations of men and women in every culture. Prosperity and freedom and dignity are not just American hopes, or Western hopes. They are universal, human hopes. And even in the violence and turmoil of the Middle East, America believes those hopes have the power to transform lives and nations.

This moment is both an opportunity and a test for all parties in the Middle East: an opportunity to lay the foundations for future peace; a test to show who is serious about peace and who is not. The choice here is stark and simple. The Bible says, I have set before you life and death; therefore, choose life. The time has arrived for everyone in this conflict to choose peace, and hope, and life.

True, it was said in the Rose Garden and not in Cairo; and it was delivered by President #43 and not #44.

Scott posted on this after Obamas New Beginning speech, noting the similarities. Others have also noted the more of the sameness:

Michelle Malkin

Ed Morrissey

Washington Times Editorial

Wall Street Journal

Ali Abunimah of The Electric Intifada

Osama bin Laden

So other than locale, how is it that the press and many in the moderate corner of the Middle East can gush Ga-ga over Obama and not give President Bush the same amount of coverage dispersal, when #43s words should reach as far and wide as Obamas words for the same cause of promoting freedom and peace? Is the press doing its job?

Perhaps President Bush should have taken his speech into the heart of the Middle East (imagine the protests!). How much difference would it have made? Its not as if the 2002 Rose Garden speech were the only one of its kind, delivered by President Bush. Perhaps he should have taken lessons on telepromptering speeches?

Of course President Bush got no credit for doing this, while President Obama is being adored as if no one ever thought of such a great idea until he was in the oval office.

Media bias?  Naaaaahhhhh.


Ken Berwitz

Years ago, I found what I thought was a very funny get well card for a guy who worked in an office I was doing business with.  The card said something like "The office wishes you a speedy a vote of 14 to 9".  Lucky for me, he thought it was funny too. 

Are you laughing?  We sure were.  The gag, obviously, is that wishing him a speedy recovery was a major issue. 

This brings us to yesterday's vote in Lebanon. 

Am I supposed to feel good about the "victory" over hezbollah?  Well, I don't.

The projections I've read indicate that a "pro-Western" coalition (talk about relative terms!) will win with 67 seats in parliament while hezbollah and its allies will receive 52.  There will also be two independent winners and 7 seats are yet to be decided.

This means that, depending on how many of the undecided seats it wins, hezbollah will hold between 40% and 45% of Lebanon's parliament.  Just like it did in the outgoing Parliament.  The previous Parliament was 70 "pro-West" and 58 hezbollah.  Assuming they split the seven seats remaining, Lebanon's new parliament will have 70-71 "pro-west" and 55-56 hezbollah.

Does that sound like any cause for celebration?  Does that sound like some major turnaround to you?  

Did you really think that the election of Barack Obama or his speech in Cairo would change anything? 

If so, you now know better.  At least I hope you do.


Ken Berwitz

Today began with Democrats holding a 32 - 30 edge in the New York State Senate.

It ended with Republicans holding that edge.

How could such a thing happen?  The Associated Press gives us the particulars:

JUNE 8, 2009, 4:45 P.M. ET

GOP Takes Control of N.Y. Senate as 2 Lawmakers Flip

Associated Press

ALBANY, N.Y. -- Republicans appear to have retaken control of New York's Senate after two dissident Democrats jumped the aisle.

The flip of senators Pedro Espada Jr. of the Bronx and Hiram Monserrate of Queens gives Republicans a 32-30 edge in the chamber.

Within an hour of the overthrow, Republicans named Mr. Espada temporary president of the Senate and Dean Skelos of Nassau County vice president and majority leader. Mr. Skelos is the former majority leader.

Those are the most powerful positions in the chamber. With them, the bipartisan coalition can direct legislation and reassign committee and leadership posts.

Democrats tried to leave the chamber, even turning off the lights briefly. They are expected to challenge Monday's action in court.

Weren't Republicans supposed to be dead?   After all, Democrats hold the White House, both houses of congress and a gubernatorial majority.

Yeah, sure.  Just as dead as Democrats were when Republicans held them all. 

Parties come back.  And this fascinating scenario in which two Latino State Senators from New York City jump ship and become Republicans proves it.


It turns out that a lot of the initial information concerning this bizarre event is either untrue or does not tell the whole story.

-Neither Espada nor Monserrate have become Republicans.  They claim to still be Democrats, but voted with Republicans to give them their majority.

-Both men are in legal trouble.  Whether this has any bearing on their sort-of switcheroo remains to be seen, but it would hardly be surprising.

I'm sorry for speaking about the initial reports as if they were true and were the entire story.  This is New York Politics.  I should have known better.

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