Monday, 29 June 2009


Ken Berwitz

The liar, swindler and general all-around scumbag bernard madoff was sentenced to 150 years in jail today.  If that stands, it is surely a life sentence for him.

My reaction:  Is that all?

What about his wife, ruth?  True, she is being divested of her gazillion dollar penthouse and something like 170 million dollars in ill-gotten assets.  But that leaves her with millions (and whatever additional millions she has successfully hidden).

ruth madoff worked with her husband in that office and was his partner in every sense of the word.  Why does she walk away with those millions?  Why isn't she on trial too?  Why isn't she going to jail?

And what about his brother and his sons, all of whom worked in the business.  Can anyone seriously believe everything they did was legitimate, even as bernard madoff spent decades perpetrating his multi-billion dollar scam?  Why aren't they on trial?  Why aren't they going to jail?

And that's before we get to madoff's cohorts, like ezra merkin, stanley chais and jeffry picower.  Why aren't they on trial?  Why aren't they going to jail?

And when do we issue the thank-you to Harry Markopolos, the whistle blower who spent the better part of a decade begging the SEC to go after madoff?  From London's Daily Guardian:

Markopolos discovered Madoff's alleged malfeasance in May 2000, after he became suspicious of his years-long record of success in all market conditions. Markopolos said it took him about five minutes perusing Madoff's marketing materials to suspect fraud, and another roughly four hours to develop mathematical models to prove it. He eventually delivered a detailed case to securities regulators in Boston and followed up several times over the next eight years as he continued to gather evidence. He said that important SEC officials in New York and Boston brushed his reports aside.


In testimony before members of the House financial services committee, Markopolos described "an abject failure by the regulatory agencies we entrust as our watchdog".

And when do we call the misfeasant and/or malfeasant SEC toadies who ignored Markopolos for all these years to testify?  Why aren't they in jeopardy?

Yes, I am glad madoff is going to spend the rest of his life in jail.  But what about everyone else?


Ken Berwitz

Last night I put up an article by Drew Zahn of, which suggested it is possible that Barack Obama was born in Kenya.  The article challenged Mr. Obama to provide his original birth certificate. 

My lead-in was as follows:

I have no idea if any of it is true.  But since the Obama people have moved heaven and earth to prevent us from seeing his actual birth certificate (not the "Certification of Live Birth" which has been referred to as a birth certificate but in fact is not), I feel other possibilities should at least be made public

Two people immediately commented that the Certification of Live Birth which has been used to "prove" Barack Obama was a naturalized citizen should end the issue.  One of the commenters suggested that the COLB is all that there is because Mr. Obama "probably lost" the original.  The other assured me that "two officials of the state of Hawaii who looked into the file, and the PR representative of the DOH called the Chicago Tribune, which asked whether the original in the file meant that Obama was born in Hawaii, and she said YES".

Nice try, guys.

In response, I will repost part of my March 8, 2009 blog which, I believe, debunks these claims.  But before doing so, I want to specifically address what was said by the two Hawaiian officials. 

Here is the verbatim statement issued by DOH Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino:

"There have been numerous requests for Sen. Barack Hussein Obamas official birth certificate. State law (Hawaii Revised Statutes 338-18) prohibits the release of a certified birth certificate to persons who do not have a tangible interest in the vital record.  Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawaii, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics (Alvin Onaka) who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obamas original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures"

What do we learn from this statement?

-It tells us in so many words that there is an original birth certificate on record - which blows away the claim that the COLB is all that exists;

-It assures us that the certificate is in accordance with state policies and procedures.  But in 1961, the year of Mr. Obama's birth, he did not have to be born in the state of Hawaii for the certificate to be issued.  So even if Dr. Fukino personally saw and verified the document, it is meaningless to whether or not Mr. Obama was born in Hawaii

-In fact, the wording of this statement appears to be a very artful construction which attempts to leave the impression that Mr. Obama was born there without saying anything of the kind.

Ok.  With this in mind, I will now post the relevant excerpt from my March 8, 2009 blog:  



There are many web sites which address Mr. Obama's birth certificate.  The best I have seen is  Here is the key excerpt from that site (though I urge you to read it all):

Barack Obama, born in 1961, has shown the world his short form birth certificate, or Certification of Live Birth:

For comparison, heres an example of the more-detailed vault copy of a Certificate of Live Birth:

A very important point to note is that a Certification of Live Birth is an abbreviated version of the birth record on file with the Hawaiian Department of Health. The root document(s), could be: a) a true Certificate of Live Birth; b) a Late Birth Certificate with or without modifications; or c) a Certificate of Hawaiian Birth.

A Certification of Live Birth may reflect data that had been changed over time, and does not provide corroborated testimony such as dates, locations, change in paternal identification, and witnesses. Any record that amendments had been submitted and information changed is not shown on the Certification of Live Birth, which is laser printed on special green stock paper, and lacks detailed information that would be expected from a true Certificate of Hawaiian Birth, or Certificate of Delayed Birth.

Recent Statements Regarding Obama's "Birth Certificate"

Knowing the intricacies of the Hawaiian birth certificate adds mystery instead of resolution with Obama birth record critics, especially when applied to statements provided by Hawaiian officials before the Presidential election.

On Oct. 31, after being inundated by requests for more details about Obamas birth records, Department of Health Director Dr. Chiyome Fukino said she and registrar of vital statistics, Alvin Onaka, had personally verified that the Health Department possesses Obama's original birth certificate.

"Therefore, I as Director of Health for the State of Hawaii, along with the Registrar of Vital Statistics who has statutory authority to oversee and maintain these type of vital records, have personally seen and verified that the Hawaii State Department of Health has Sen. Obamas original birth certificate on record in accordance with state policies and procedures," Fukino said.

The cryptic and carefully-worded statement offered no true details of the birth certificate, and leads to more questions than answers among critics. In July, when Barack Obamas Certification of Live Birth was first distributed publically on the internet, Hawaiian Department of Health spokeswoman Janice Okubo simply asserted to the St. Petersburg Times, its a valid Hawaii state birth certificate.

Although officials are on record that there is an original birth certificate held by the state, and that it is correctly filed according to Hawaii state directives. However, the specifics of the type of birth certificate records on file, with modifications, as well as the details and accounts of witnesses, is still unknown at this time.

Credibility of the " Certification of Live Birth"

The computer-generated Certification of Live Birth was first used in November 2001 to allow the State of Hawaii to pull up birth records quicker for people requesting a birth certificate in person. At the very bottom of the form are the words, This copy serves as prima facia evidence of the fact of birth in any court proceeding. [HRS 338-13(b), 338-19]."

However, despite this written notice on the form, some Hawaii state agencies do not accept the Certification of Live Birth as irrefutable verification of Hawaiian birth. There have been numerous cases when the Hawaii Family Court System required more detailed data for paternity suits. Additionally, the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands provides the following guidelines to Hawaiian natives applying for Hawaiian Home Lands homestead:

The primary documents used to show you are of age and a qualified native Hawaiian are:
- A certified copy of Certificate of Birth;
- A certified copy of Certificate of Hawaiian Birth, including testimonies; or
- A certified copy of Certificate of Delayed Birth.

In order to process your application, DHHL utilizes information that is found only on the original Certificate, which is either black or green. This is a more complete record of your birth than the Certification of Live Birth (a computer-generated printout). Submitting the original Certificate will save you time and money since the computer-generated Certification requires additional verification by DHHL.
(emphasis added)

Additionally, the Certification of Live Birth is not recognized by many Federal agencies.
DoD 5220.22-M, the "National Industrial Security Program Operating Manual," provides baseline standards for the protection of classified information released or disclosed from the military, Department of Energy, and other agencies, to industry. Section 2-208states that acceptable certificates must show that the birth record was filed shortly after birth. If a Delayed Birth Certificate is on file, it must be supported by secondary evidence of birth, such as baptismal or circumcision certificates, hospital birth records, or affidavits of persons having personal knowledge about the facts of birth.

Even to work at the Navy Ship Yard in Pearl Harbor, the August 2008 version of the, Unified Facilities Guide Specifications, section allows for a total of 18 different means to verify US citizenship, ranging from a military ID card to even a Hawaii certificate of foreign birth. The Certification of Live Birth is not on the list of approved documents acceptable for proof of Citizenship.

Persisting questions and Constitutional Problems

Although some vetting took place in summer 2008 after Barrack Obamas Certification of Live Birth, most media outlets and online bloggers failed to explore the unique aspects and varieties of Hawaiian birth certificates. Unfortunately, the birth certificate issue may cause a Constitutional crisis if Obama is determined to be other than a Natural Born Citizen, as Article 2, Section 1, Clause 5 of the US Constitution requires.

One potential problem might involve a name change to Barry Soetoro when attending elementary school in Indonesia, which may have occurred if there was an amendment in Obamas birth record. Some accounts of Obamas youth indicate his name may have been changed to. A name change would also need to be legally registered in court.

Verbal accounts by some of Obamas family reportedly indicate Obamas birthplace was either Kapiolani or Queens Hospital in Hawaii on Aug. 8, 1961. However, no birthing records reportedly can be found in either of the two hospitals, and no records seem to exist that list Obamas mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, as a patient at either hospital. Also, no medical staff has come forward to offer affidavits of Obamas birth. A birth announcement appeared in the Aug. 13, 1963 edition of the Honolulu Advertiser, however, its not definitive if the announcement was placed by the Department of Vital Statistics or a family member. If the latter is true, its plausible that Obama and mother may not have been on the island at the time of birth.

I do not know how anyone could read this and think there is no issue about Barack Obama's birth.

Even if you can somehow ignore the facts posted above, what about the simple, practical realities? 

Barack Obama is 47 years old.  Common sense tells you that whatever hospital he was born in would have had numerous people in it who are still alive today.  A 25 year old then is only 72 now.  A 30 year old then is only 77 now. 

What about the doctor?  The nurses?  The admissions people?  The food services people?.  Etc. etc. etc. etc. etc.  Can anyone seriously believe they're all dead now, every one of them?

Is it in any way plausible to you that NOT ONE of these people has come forth to say that they were there and/or had some level of involvement, with the birth of our new President? 

Wouldn't the hospital itself be proud to publicize that it was "the birthplace of President Barack Obama"?   Wouldn't it have a plaque up by now?  Wouldn't it at least mention that he was born there?

And what about the fact that Mr. Obama has moved heaven and earth to avoid showing us the "vault copy" of his birth certificate? 

If the birth certificate is as he claims, then a telephone call and a $10 or so processing fee would have gotten the vault copy and ended this issue months ago.  Instead, Mr. Obama enlisted an army of lawyers and spent over $1 million dollars to fight every attempt to have his birth certificate see the light of day.

You don't have to be a world class detective to figure out that there is something on Barack Obama's birth certificate that he doesn't want us to know about.  What do you suppose it could possibly be?


In closing, let me repeat that I do not claim to know whether Barack Obama is legally able to be President.  I have never said definitively that he is or is not. 

But the facts you have just seen, coupled with Mr. Obama's actions, suggest very strongly that he may not be.

Now:  if either of the two commenters, or anyone else, has something more to say about this, fire away.  If you can show me where I'm wrong I will be happy to put it up on this blog, agree with it, and change my position.  All I'm interested in is the truth.

But please make sure that the information you are providing is real.  Thanks.


Ken Berwitz

Sadly, yet another Hollywood star is gone.  Gale Storm, an icon of 1950's TV (with a couple of record hits too) is dead at the age of 87.  In failing health over the past few years, she died of natural causes at a convalescent hospital outside of Los Angeles.

Though Ms. Storm had a long, varied and successful career, I will always remember her as Margie Albright, the wacky daughter of Vern Albright (played by the wonderful Charles Farrell), girl friend of Freddy (Don Hayden) and confidante of next-door neighbor Mrs. Odets (Gertrude Hoffman).

Gale Storm was perky, animated, lots of fun to watch and very, very talented. 

May she rest in peace.


Ken Berwitz

According to ABC News (and numerous other sources), "Michael Jackson was "heavily addicted" to the powerful pain killer Oxycontin and received "daily doses" of it and of another pain killer, Demerol, according to a senior law enforcement official briefed on the initial investigation of his death." 

-Jackson, who may have killed himself via the use of these drugs, is being lionized nonstop by the media.

Rush Limbaugh was also addicted to Oxycontin.  

-Limbaugh who overcame his addiction to Oxycontin and remained the #1 most listened-to radio personality in history, was attacked and sneered at nonstop by the media.  The attacks continue to this day.

Notice a small difference?

Ken Berwitz To Waldo: What a lovely sentiment -- you disagree with someone so he should drop dead. You're quite a guy.     To steve: As I think you know, I'm no fan of Rush Limbaugh's. I agree that he is a hypocrite. And I did not have a problem with him being attacked for his addiction (with the caveat that he didn't become addicted because of recreational drug use, which is what he railed about;  he became addicted to a medication that was prescribed for a physical condition). My only point is that both Limbaugh and Jackson became addicted to the same drug and are being treated 180 degrees differently. (06/30/09)

steve schneider rush was very critical of those that had addictions. he was hypocritical and deserved everything he got. steve (06/30/09)

Waldo Jacko died, Rush didn't. If Rush died, he would get the same treatment. I'm eager to see Rush get his due, just like Jacko. He should die soon, be lionized like Jacko, and you will be happy. I will be happy. The whole world will be happier if he would just drop dead. (06/29/09)


Ken Berwitz

This could make for some interesting dialogue between Sonia Sotomayor and the other justices if she is confirmed for the supreme court, wouldn't you say?

From the Associated Press, via the Washington Post: 

Court rules for white firefighters over promotions

The Associated Press
Monday, June 29, 2009 10:27 AM


WASHINGTON -- The Supreme Court ruled Monday that white firefighters in New Haven, Conn., were unfairly denied promotions because of their race, reversing a decision that high court nominee Sonia Sotomayor endorsed as an appeals court judge.


New Haven was wrong to scrap a promotion exam because no African-Americans and only two Hispanic firefighters were likely to be made lieutenants or captains based on the results, the court said Monday in a 5-4 decision. The city said that it had acted to avoid a lawsuit from minorities.


The ruling could alter employment practices nationwide, potentially limiting the circumstances in which employers can be held liable for decisions when there is no evidence of intentional discrimination against minorities.


Fear of litigation alone cannot justify an employer's reliance on race to the detriment of individuals who passed the examinations and qualified for promotions," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his opinion for the court. He was joined by Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.


In dissent, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said the white firefighters "understandably attract this court's sympathy. But they had no vested right to promotion. Nor have other persons received promotions in preference to them."

Justices Stephen Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens signed onto Ginsburg's dissent, which she read aloud in court Monday.


Kennedy's opinion made only passing reference to the work of Sotomayor and the other two judges on the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals who upheld a lower court ruling in favor of New Haven.

But the appellate judges have been criticized for producing a cursory opinion that failed to deal with "indisputably complex and far from well-settled" questions, in the words of another appeals court judge, Sotomayor mentor Jose Cabranes.


"This perfunctory disposition rests uneasily with the weighty issues presented by this appeal," Cabranes said, in a dissent from the full 2nd Circuit's decision not to hear the case.

Since Ms. Sotomayor would be replacing David Souter, who had a dissenting opinion, it means that she would join a Supreme Court in which 5 of the 8 members reversed her most famous decision. 


If I were betting money, it would still be on Sonia Sotomayor being confirmed despite the increasing load of baggage she brings to the USSC.  My main reason is that there is such a large Democratic majority in the senate. 

But even with that majority, I have to wonder how much Democratic senators - some of whom have serious battles for their seats next year - are willing to overlook. 

When is enough enough?


Ken Berwitz

From Nate Beeler of the Washington Examiner:



Any questions?



free` LOL, that is a perfect depiction. (06/30/09)


Ken Berwitz

Here, from Brian Maloney of, is an excellent analysis of the current state of Minnesota Senate race between incumbent Norm Coleman and challenger al franken. 

Prepare to be disgusted:

24 June 2009

Counting All Votes Could Become Nightmare For Al Franken


Now, Counting Ballots Is 'Conservative'

At any time over the next several days, Minnesota's Supreme Court is expected to rule in Democrat Al Franken's favor, potentially putting an end to a challenge by Norm Coleman over disputed ballot counts that suspiciously placed the former Air America host over the top.

Within moments of that decision, Democrats are expected to push to seat Franken in the US Senate, regardless of whether Coleman, the previous incumbent, presses on with his case.

From his time as a liberal talk host to the campaign and post-election shenanigans, Franken and sleaze have remained fellow-travellers.
Stuart Smalley is the man who consistently finds himself rewarded for bad behavior, with no sign of accountability in the forecast.

That's why the push by Hubbard Broadcasting to
examine ALL of the disputed ballots and subsequently count them provides much-needed daylight for the darkness that has consumed Minnesota's US Senate race. It gives Franken something to truly worry about for the first time in months.

From Hubbard's KSTP-TV:

With the Minnesota Supreme Court about to rule on the U.S. Senate race, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS is asking to examine more than 10,000 rejected absentee ballots.

Along with Hubbard Television stations in Duluth and Austin, the stations requested from election officials around the state access to the disputed ballots and the envelopes they were sent in on Monday.


In the letter, 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS assured election officials that, "We fully respect the sanctity of the private ballot, and the importance of voter confidentiality in the electoral process."

As part of the project, we want to count the ballots and try to determine how different counties decide to reject absentee ballots.

Though this unofficial, independent analysis won't affect the outcome and if it occurs at all, the count would be well after the state's high court ruling. What it does offer voters, however, is a fresh reminder that a highly arbitrary process has potentially placed an election day loser in the US Senate.

Franken's apologists clearly aren't interested in a full accounting of the approximately 10,000 disputed ballots, they want their candidate quickly seated, with no questions asked. That's why the
left's talking points focus on Hubbard's motivations, rather than the need for a complete account:

About 10,000 ballots were rejected and not counted for one reason or another during the statewide hand recount and election contest trial.

The request, filed under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA) by TV stations KSTP, KSTC, WDIO, KSAX and KAAL, comes as an order is expected at any time in Colemans appeal of his election-contest defeat to the state Supreme Court.

It also comes only days after rightwing blogger Michael Brodkorb filed similar requests with several cities and counties. Brodkorb is soon to drop his blogging to assume the position of deputy chairman with the Republican Party of Minnesota.

Hubbard Broadcasting owner Stanley Hubbard is a major contributor to the Republican Party and its candidates, including Coleman. He used the airwaves for which he holds a license to editorialize in favor of the conduct of law enforcement agencies conduct during the Republican National Convention in St. Paul. Indications are he lent his 125-foot yacht for a Coleman for Senate Donor Appreciation Cruise.

How is counting all of the ballots suddenly "rightwing" (sic)?

One lesson that will be taken from the race, regardless of its final outcome, is that conservative activists can be more easily worn down than their liberal counterparts.

Most on the right abandoned this cause months ago, not because they were convinced Franken won the race, but as a result of lower court decisions and hardball tactics by the left. Many bloggers no longer cover developments in the case, though the state court decision will prove impossible to ignore.

That said, some remain in the fight, according to NewsMax:

Embattled former GOP Sen. Norm Coleman has at least one diehard advocate in his corner: Texas Sen. John Cornyn, who says he'd be happy to support a further Coleman appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That assumes, of course, that the Minnesota Supreme Court rejects Coleman's current appeal of an earlier panel's ruling that declared Democrat Al Franken the winner by 312 votes out of about 3 million ballots cast.


"We'll do everything we can to support Norm as long as he has appellate remedies to purse," said Cornyn, the chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

A ruling by the state's highest court could come any day now. Most legal experts expect the justices to announce their decision before the July 4 recess.

"I'm not suggesting Norm has this plan in mind," Cornyn hastened to add, "because frankly I think he's hopeful it turns out well at the state Supreme Court."

As it stands today, not many believe Norm Coleman will be able to reclaim his seat, or that Franken can be stopped. Conservatives can still learn from this potentially-failed effort, however: next time, toughen up and truly gear up for a long, ugly fight.

What will happen if Hubbard is allowed to count those ballots and they show that Coleman actually won?   Nothing, that's what.. 

And before you make a parallel between this and the 2000 Presidential election, remember that they are 180 degrees opposite of one another.  In 2000, Bush demanded that all ballots be counted the same way.  In Minnesota's senate race Franken demands that all ballots not be counted the same way, that they be counted under different rules from county to county.

So where are our wonderful "neutral" media on this story?  Never mind, why ask questions we all know the answers to.

Mark Sutter Soory, Ken you have your facts wrong. Coleman contended that different standard were used in the original counting, NOT recounting (see the Supreme court ruling). All accepted absentee ballots were placed in the ballot boxes (on election day) and forever separated from the envelopes that provided evidence of acceptability, thus there was no way to exclude them post-election. Coleman protested that not all precincts followed the same strict legal standards for acceptance of the ballots (and this was accepted as fact), but presented NO evidence the these differences were aimed at, or had the effect of discriminating against one of the candidates. In other words, that a particular precinct's "loose" standards for acceptance produced puportionally more votes for one candidate than another. Read the Republican (by party affiliation) court's decision for a full exposition of this point. (06/30/09)

Ken Berwitz In 2000 Al Gore demanded that four heavily Democratic counties be recounted and no others. In 2008 al franken "won" largely because different counties exercised different standards of recounting the votes. Sorry, but facts are facts. (06/30/09)

Mark Sutter Lets stick to the facts. Statement:"In 2000, Bush demanded that all ballots be counted the same way". Fact: Bush demanded that all ballots be (argued that they weren't being )re-counted the same way. There were process disparities in Florida in the original counting, as in Minnesota). In Minnesota, the Judicial re-count team insisted on following the Bush/Supreme court standard for consistency in the recount. Statement: "In Minnesota's senate race Franken demands that all ballots not be counted the same way, that they be counted under different rules from county to county". Fact: He didn't demand that, it was a given that had to be dealt with a part of the recount process. Colemans solution? Either adopt the loosest standard that any county used to accept ballots, contrary to the letter of the law (asking the judges to in effect ignore the law) or somehow "uncount" ballots accepted that by strict interpretation of the law should have been rejected (not possible on a ballot-by-ballot basis). (06/29/09)


Ken Berwitz

This article, from Jacob Gershman of the New York Post, needs no additional comment from me. 

Read it and weep for what is left of Columbia University:




Last updated: 6:17 am
June 29, 2009
Posted: 2:06 am
June 29, 2009


JOSEPH Massad's schol arly contribution during his decade as a faculty member of Columbia University's Middle East Studies Department may be summed up as follows: Israel is racist, and homosexuality is an insidious Western invention.

Yet that was enough for Columbia, which officially -- if quietly -- awarded Massad tenure earlier this month.

Columbia's process for reviewing tenure candidates is as rigorous as any Ivy League school's. Ordinarily, an academic of Massad's caliber would be bounced from Morningside Heights. And in fact, the system did work -- it denied Massad tenure two years ago.

But now the school's academic standards have succumbed to ideological tensions and campus politics -- in what appears to be a remarkable manipulation of the tenure process and a breach of fiduciary trust.

First, a little background on Massad.

A Christian secularist of Palestinian-Arab descent, Massad has dedicated his academic career primarily to encouraging the destruction of Israel as a Jewish state. Criticism of Israel is far from unusual in his field, but Massad goes much further, taking arguments to bizarre ends. "The ultimate achievement of Israel," he writes, is "the transformation of the Jew into the anti-Semite, and the Palestinian into the Jew." In a book, he rails against the "Zionist theft of Palestinian Arab food (e.g., hummus, falafel)."

In a recent work, "Desiring Arabs," Massad claimed to expose yet another plot against the Muslim world -- the "Gay International." He describes how a vast conspiracy of gay activists descended on Arab countries and endangered the lives of "practitioners of same-sex contact" by transforming them into "subjects who identify as 'homosexual' and 'gay.' "

Nor is Massad fond of the women's rights movement, or "colonial feminism," as he calls it. He bristles at the attention paid to the Muslim practice of honor killings, which he likens to "crimes of passion," accusing women's groups of ignoring "rampant Western misogyny."

He specializes in reductio ad hitlerum. "If Germans spent the day on the beach when the Nazis invaded Poland in 1939, and Americans cheered in bars and at home the fireworks light show the US military put up over Baghdad while slaughtering hundreds of thousands of Iraqis in 1991 and in 2003, Israeli Jews insisted on having front row seats on hills overlooking Gaza for a live show, cracking open champagne bottles and cheering the murder and maiming of thousands of civilians, more than half of whom were women and children," he wrote in a February essay, referring to the Gaza War.

Four years ago, it seemed as if Massad would be on his way out of the Broadway gates. A university probe backed up students' complaints that he disparaged Jewish students who disagreed with him. In one instance, while lecturing near campus, he responded to an Israeli student who asked a question by demanding to know how many Palestinians he had killed.

But faculty members opted instead to lionize Massad as a supposed martyr of academic freedom. A crucial ally for him was Dean of Arts and Sciences Nicholas Dirks, whose wife taught a class with Massad.

In 2007, months after Massad completed his latest book, a committee rejected his tenure application. Tenure candidates rarely get a second shot at Columbia, but Dirks intervened and pushed for a second committee, sources say.

Oddly, the professor who led the first review of Massad refused to serve again. Even odder, the administration justified the do-over by claiming that Massad had switched his field of specialty from political science to cultural studies.

After the second committee approved Massad, President Lee Bollinger and Provost Alan Brinkley took extraordinary measures to protect the secrecy of Massad's tenure case and guard against an outcry from Jewish alumni and donors.

The last step in the process was the trustees. The administration refused to share with the trustees any list of who was on the two tenure committees. The board was also kept in the dark as to why Massad failed the first review. Bollinger and Brinkley also refused to discuss in detail why Massad was permitted another shot.

Instead, the administration -- apparently more interested in managing public relations than dealing with the substance of the underlying problem -- simply provided the trustees with a set of talking points with "helpful facts" about the university's Jewish student center.

When I tried contacting trustee Esta Stecher, a senior administration official alerted the board about my inquiries and reminded the trustees that the university doesn't comment on tenure cases.

In the end, Columbia's board of trustees approved Massad's tenure appointment before ever getting answers.

Which raises the question: Just what does a trustee do? Are they merely fund-raisers? Do they view the title as a ceremonial honor? What's the point?

As for Bollinger, one wonders how he allowed his faculty to undermine his authority and the university's reputation.

The promotion of Massad isn't a victory for academic freedom but a cheapening of it. The freedom extended to a Columbia faculty member isn't the same as the rights of a soapbox crank. Protecting free inquiry and valuing scholarship are not mutually exclusive goals, but together define the university ideal.

If the trustees and Bollinger haven't figured that out, Massad's enduring presence at Columbia will help remind them.


Ken Berwitz

One other thing about bernard madoff:  He was a huge contributor to the Democratic party. 

How often have you seen that in the stories about madoff over these past months?

Why is it buried?  Do they ever bury this kind of information about people who donate to Republicans? 

Special thanks to our wonderful "neutral" media for proving how blatantly biased they are.  Again.


Ken Berwitz

Until about three minutes ago I assumed that the legitimate Honduran government had been overthrown by the military.  I certainly had no reason to think otherwise, based on the short report I caught on this morning's Today Show (which devoted the first 15 or so minutes to Michael Jackson - whose death, three days ago, apparently is still far more important than a governmental takeover).

But now that I have read the following report/analysis by Scott Johnson of, I'm not at all sure. 

Here it is.  You decide for yourself.  Please pay special attention to the segments I have put in bold print:

Obama stands with Castro, Chavez and Ortega

June 29, 2009 Posted by Scott at 6:21 AM

and President Obama sides with the Fidel Castro and this thug epigones Hugo Chavez and Daniel Ortega. As the Honduran President Mel Zelaya sought to conduct an illegal referendum to extend his rule, the Honduran military sought to enforce the rule of law by removing Zelaya from the scene. Mary Anastasia Grady explains:

Yesterday the Central American country was being pressured to restore the authoritarian Mr. Zelaya by the likes of Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hillary Clinton and, of course, Hugo himself. The Organization of American States, having ignored Mr. Zelaya's abuses, also wants him back in power. It will be a miracle if Honduran patriots can hold their ground.

That Mr. Zelaya acted as if he were above the law, there is no doubt. While Honduran law allows for a constitutional rewrite, the power to open that door does not lie with the president. A constituent assembly can only be called through a national referendum approved by its Congress.

But Mr. Zelaya declared the vote on his own and had Mr. Chvez ship him the necessary ballots from Venezuela. The Supreme Court ruled his referendum unconstitutional, and it instructed the military not to carry out the logistics of the vote as it normally would do.

The top military commander, Gen. Romeo Vsquez Velsquez, told the president that he would have to comply. Mr. Zelaya promptly fired him. The Supreme Court ordered him reinstated. Mr. Zelaya refused.

Calculating that some critical mass of Hondurans would take his side, the president decided he would run the referendum himself. So on Thursday he led a mob that broke into the military installation where the ballots from Venezuela were being stored and then had his supporters distribute them in defiance of the Supreme Court's order.

The attorney general had already made clear that the referendum was illegal, and he further announced that he would prosecute anyone involved in carrying it out. Yesterday, Mr. Zelaya was arrested by the military and is now in exile in Costa Rica.

It remains to be seen what Mr. Zelaya's next move will be. It's not surprising that chavistas throughout the region are claiming that he was victim of a military coup. They want to hide the fact that the military was acting on a court order to defend the rule of law and the constitution, and that the Congress asserted itself for that purpose, too.

Mrs. Clinton has piled on as well. Yesterday she accused Honduras of violating "the precepts of the Interamerican Democratic Charter" and said it "should be condemned by all." Fidel Castro did just that. Mr. Chvez pledged to overthrow the new government.

Honduras is fighting back by strictly following the constitution. The Honduran Congress met in emergency session yesterday and designated its president as the interim executive as stipulated in Honduran law. It also said that presidential elections set for November will go forward. The Supreme Court later said that the military acted on its orders. It also said that when Mr. Zelaya realized that he was going to be prosecuted for his illegal behavior, he agreed to an offer to resign in exchange for safe passage out of the country. Mr. Zelaya denies it.

Many Hondurans are going to be celebrating Mr. Zelaya's foreign excursion. Street protests against his heavy-handed tactics had already begun last week. On Friday a large number of military reservists took their turn. "We won't go backwards," one sign said. "We want to live in peace, freedom and development."

Besides opposition from the Congress, the Supreme Court, the electoral tribunal and the attorney general, the president had also become persona non grata with the Catholic Church and numerous evangelical church leaders. On Thursday evening his own party in Congress sponsored a resolution to investigate whether he is mentally unfit to remain in office.

By contrast with his dithering on Iran, President Obama has immediately sorted out the rights and wrongs of the situation. Unfortunately, he sorted them out and cast his lot with Zelaya. Obama is "deeply concerned" about the ouster of a tyrannical president exceeding the bounds of his lawful authority:

"I am deeply concerned by reports coming out of Honduras regarding the detention and expulsion of President Mel Zelaya. As the Organization of American States did on Friday, I call on all political and social actors in Honduras to respect democratic norms, the rule of law and the tenets of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Any existing tensions and disputes must be resolved peacefully through dialogue free from any outside interference."

Here, however, the military has sought to preserve the rule of law against the president's lawless efforts to extend his rule. Why is Obama standing with Castro, Chavez and Ortega to support Zelaya? The company he's keeping should give him a clue, but one begins to wonder if he likes it.

Amazing, isn't it?  President Obama was, and remains, a paragon of waffling as Iranians desperately try to become more democratic.  But he, along with his sock puppet Hillary Clinton, is fast as greased lightning to take the side of a ruthless illegal dictator in Honduras.

Great.  Just great.

Well, we elected a left wing Chicago machine politician, with no experience that would prepare him for the Presidency.  And this is what we got. 

Why should we be surprised?

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