Thursday, 23 July 2009


Ken Berwitz

Excerpted from Jackie Kucinich's*** piece in today's

Democrats are preventing Republican House Members from sending their constituents a mailing that is critical of the majoritys health care reform plan, blocking the mailing by alleging that it is inaccurate.


House Republicans are crying foul and claiming that the Democrats are using their majority to prevent GOP Members from communicating with their constituents.


The dispute centers on a chart (view PDF) created by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas) and Republican staff of the Joint Economic Committee to illustrate the organization of the Democratic health care plan.


At first glance, Bradys chart resembles a board game: a colorful collection of shapes and images with a web of lines connecting them.


But a closer look at the image reveals a complicated menagerie of government offices and programs that Republicans say will be created if the leading Democratic health care plan becomes law.


In a memo sent Monday to Republicans on the House franking commission, Democrats argue that sending the chart to constituents as official mail would violate House rules because the information is misleading.

In their eight-point memo, which was obtained by Roll Call, Democrats identify a litany of areas where they believe the chart is incorrect.


For example, Democrats argue that the chart depicts a Health Insurance Exchange Trust Fund that is simply a recipient of IRS funds, with no outflow. ... This is false.


The charts illustration of low-income subsidies is also misleading and false, Democrats argue.

Congressional rules for franked mail bar Members from using taxpayer-funded mail for newsletters that use partisan, politicized or personalized comments to criticize legislation or policy.


The dispute over Bradys chart is being reviewed by the franking commission, which must approve any mail before it can be sent. No decision had been made on the matter by press time.


Brady adamantly denied that the chart was misleading and said Democrats are simply threatened by the content of the graphic.


I think their review was laughable, Brady said. Its ... downright false in most of the cases. The chart depicts their health care plan as their committees developed it.


The chart reveals how their health care bureaucracy works, and people are frightened by it, he added. So this is their effort to try and discredit the chart.


Republican Members have made 20 requests to mail a version of the chart to their constituents and have been told that the requests are being delayed while the commission reviews allegations that the chart is misleading.


Hiding the truth about wildly unpopular policies is a Democrat specialty, said one GOP aide. Id like to see the flow chart on how Speaker [Nancy] Pelosi plans on implementing the open and transparent government she keeps promising everyone.

There you go.  Transparency, according to our one-party Democratic government.  If you don't like what the opposition is writing, don't bother trying to refute it - just censor the damn thing and prevent anyone from seeing it.

We deserve this, folks.  We elected a one-party government, so lopsided that it can do just about anything it wants.  And that is precisely how it is operating.

The next national elections are in 2010.  They can't come soon enough.


***Jackie Kucinich is Dennis Kucinich's daughter.  Good for her to operate this independently.  What a delightful breath of fresh air - especially these days.


Ken Berwitz

From the account of President Barack Obama's press conference last night:

"I dont know not having been there and not seeing all the facts what role race played in that, but I think its fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two that he Cambridge police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home," Obama said in response to a question from the Chicago Sun-Times's Lynn Sweet. 

Gates, Obama allowed, "is a friend, so I may be a little biased here. I don't know all the facts."

I don't know what happened, but the cops acted stupidly - oh, and Gates is a friend, so I may be a little biased here.  I don't know all the facts.

If George Bush had said that he would be skewered beyond belief in the cable shows after his press conference and in today's papers.

Is that happening?  

Mr. Obama isn't the only source of bias here, is he?


UPDATE:  Unbelievably, President Obama has made this even worse.

From the Associated Press: 

CLEVELAND (AP) - President Barack Obama said Thursday he was surprised by all the hubbub over his comments that a white police officer in Cambridge, Mass., had acted "stupidly" in arresting a prominent black scholar for disorderly conduct. The president didn't take back his words, but he allowed that he understood the sergeant who made the arrest is an "outstanding police officer."

"I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement," Obama said in an interview with ABC News, "because I think it was a pretty straightforward comment that you probably don't need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who's in his own home."

He's surprised that it is controversial to say a police officer "acted stupidly" while simultaneously admitting he wasn't there and didn't know the facts?  That's surprising to him?

Tell you what, though:  if Mr. Obama wants something really surprising, I would say that calling the police officer who "acted stupidly" an "outstanding police officer" qualifies.  Wouldn't you? 

Unfortunately, however, he was the one who did it.

Holy excrement.


Ken Berwitz

No, that title does NOT mean what you think.

But it does lead us to our latest entry in the "you can't make this stuff up" file.

From Reuters:

Naked girls plow fields for rain

Thu Jul 23, 2009 4:35pm EDT


PATNA, India (Reuters) - Farmers in an eastern Indian state have asked their unmarried daughters to plow parched fields naked in a bid to embarrass the weather gods to bring some badly needed monsoon rain, officials said on Thursday.

Witnesses said the naked girls in Bihar state plowed the fields and chanted ancient hymns after sunset to invoke the gods. They said elderly village women helped the girls drag the plows.

"They (villagers) believe their acts would get the weather gods badly embarrassed, who in turn would ensure bumper crops by sending rains," Upendra Kumar, a village council official, said from Bihar's remote Banke Bazaar town.

"This is the most trusted social custom in the area and the villagers have vowed to continue this practice until it rains very heavily."

India this year suffered its worst start to the vital monsoon rains in eight decades, causing drought in some states.

So this is going to embarrass the weather gods?  Excuse me for being a tad doubtful.

If the people in Bihar want to embarrass the gods into providing rainfall, they should pool their money and pay Rosie O'Donnell to come there and plow naked - maybe bring Michael Moore along with her.  I'm betting they would get the downpour of history in about two seconds flat.


Ken Berwitz

From Charles Johnson at

Narcissist Spends Millions in Futile Attempt to Resurrect Reputation

Media | Wed, Jul 22, 2009 at 9:53:51 am PDT

If Dan Rather had put a tiny fraction of the effort hes expending on his lawsuit against CBS into verifying those fraudulent Bush National Guard documents, he might not be in this predicament: Rather Wins a Round in Lawsuit Against CBS.

Dan Rather won significant victories Tuesday in his suit against his former network, CBS. He won access to more than 3,000 documents that his lawyer said were expected to reveal evidence that CBS had tried to influence the outcome of a panel that investigated his much-debated 60 Minutes report about former President George W. Bushs military record.

Mr. Rather also won an appeal to restore a fraud charge against CBS that had been dismissed. Martin Gold, the lawyer representing the former anchor of the CBS Evening News, called it a very successful day for us; we got everything. Mr. Rather called it a good day for his side and referring to the name for the CBS headquarters a bad day for Black Rock.

Jim Quinn, the lawyer representing CBS, called it a minor skirmish in a long battle and predicted that the fraud charge would be dismissed again because its frivolous. He added of Mr. Rathers day in court, Was it favorable for him? Yes. Was it meaningful? No.

CBS said in a statement: Todays rulings by Judge Gammerman were on technical and procedural issues, not on the merits of Mr. Rathers allegations. Most of Mr. Rathers claims already have been rejected by the court and that has not changed. We are similarly confident that Mr. Rathers re-pleaded fraud claim will be dismissed once the court reaches the actual merits. We also await the appellate divisions decisions on pending motions which, we believe will further curtail his claims.

Theres something pathetic about Rather pursuing a fraudulent suit against CBS (for fraud), after trying to tilt a presidential election with fraudulent documents when neither Rather nor CBS have ever admitted the documents were obviously faked. Theyre all scoundrels.

Dan Rather is truly a man who is done before he is through. 

Rather would do himself a great service if he just went away.  It wouldn't affect anyone else, because no one but him cares anymore.  I wonder if he realizes that.


Ken Berwitz

This is just the last part of Ms. Coulter's latest column.  But it is classic.  It made me laugh and think - what a great combination:

Insurance plans that force everyone in the plan to pay for everyone else's Viagra and anti-anxiety pills are already completely unfair to people who rarely go to the doctor. It's like being forced to share gas bills with a long-haul trucker or a restaurant bill with Michael Moore. On the other hand, it's a great deal for any lonely hypochondriacs in the plan.

Now the Democrats want to force us all into one gigantic national health insurance plan that will cover every real and mythical ailment that has a powerful lobby. But if you have a rare medical condition without a lobbying arm, you'll be out of luck.

Even two decades after the collapse of liberals' beloved Soviet Union, they can't grasp that it's easier and cheaper to obtain any service provided by capitalism than any service provided under socialism.

You don't have to conjure up fantastic visions of how health care would be delivered in this country if we bought it ourselves. Just go to a grocery store or get a manicure. Or think back to when you bought your last muffler, personal trainer, computer and every other product and service available in inexpensive abundance in this capitalist paradise.

Third-party payer schemes are always a disaster -- less service for twice the price! If you want good service at a good price, be sure to be the one holding the credit card. Under "universal health care," no one but government bureaucrats will be allowed to hold the credit card.

Isn't food important? Why not "universal food coverage"? If politicians and employers had guaranteed us "free" food 50 years ago, today Democrats would be wailing about the "food crisis" in America, and you'd be on the phone with your food care provider arguing about whether or not a Reuben sandwich with fries was covered under your plan.

Instead of making health care more like the DMV, how about we make it more like grocery stores? Give the poor and tough cases health stamps and let the rest of us buy health care -- and health insurance -- on the free market.



Ken Berwitz

This case is terribly sad to me, because it exposes several racial raw nerves that should be troublesome to every person of good will.

In case you are unaware of the Henry Louis Gates incident, or have just a vague idea of what happened, here is an excerpt from the Boston Globe's July 20th article which describes it -- minus one very important fact that somehow was omitted:

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates Jr., one of the nation's pre-eminent African-American scholars, was arrested Thursday afternoon at his home by Cambridge police investigating a possible break-in. The incident raised concerns among some Harvard faculty that Gates was a victim of racial profiling.


Police arrived at Gatess Ware Street home near Harvard Square at 12:44 p.m. to question him. Gates, director of the W.E.B. Du Bois Institute for African and African American Research at Harvard, had trouble unlocking his door after it became jammed.


He was booked for disorderly conduct after exhibiting loud and tumultuous behavior, according to a police report. Gates accused the investigating officer of being a racist and told him he had "no idea who he was messing with,'' the report said.


Gates told the officer that he was being targeted because "I'm a black man in America.''


Friends of Gates said he was already in his home when police arrived. He showed his drivers license and Harvard identification card, but was handcuffed and taken into police custody for several hours last Thursday, they said.


The police report said Gates was arrested after he yelled at the investigating officer repeatedly inside the residence then followed the officer outside, where Gates continued to upbraid him. "It was at that time that I informed Professor Gates that he was under arrest,'' the officer wrote in the report.


Gates, 58, declined to comment today when reached by phone.

Before continuing, let me mention the omitted fact.  The police did not just randomly accost Professor Gates.  They showed up because one of Mr. Gates' neighbors reported it as a possible break-in.  There is no dispute about this - Mr. Gates has even said that he would thank the neighbor for being concerned enough to do so.

Now the big question:  Is Henry Louis Gates correct in claiming his arrest was a racist act?  Is the police officer correct in claiming his actions, arrest included, were entirely based on Mr. Gates' behavior and not his race?  Here are the implications in each case: 

-If Professor Gates had told the officer it was his house and provided identification to prove it, the officer is malfeasant and probably racist to boot; 

-If Professor Gates had not initially cooperated but instead given the officer a nasty attitude, called him a racist and implicitly threatened him ("you don't know who you're messing with here") and continued doing so until the officer finally arrested him, Gates is an arrogant elitist jerk who used his race to cover for it. 

Let's be honest enough to say that we don't know what happened.  The reason is very simple.  We don't. 

But there are a few things that we do know.

-We know that this was not a case of racial profiling.  It was a case of a cop being dispatched to a possible break-in because a neighbor called and said it was taking place.  Comparing it to, say, people being pulled out of line at airport security and frisked only because they look Arab, is ridiculous. 

-We also know, however, that there is a very long and very shameful history in the USA of Black people being singled out, being treated in a demeaning way (sometimes beaten or even killed), simply because of their skin color.  While this may or may not have happened in the Henry Louis Gates case, it is perfectly understandable for people, particularly Black people, to suspect it did - especially in view of the fact that it is exactly what Mr. Gates claims;

-And we know that, statistically, Black people commit a disproportionate percentage of crime in this country relative to their incidence in the population.  While abstract crime rates have absolutely nothing to do with any individual Black person, they lead to two situations, neither of them good:

1) Many people, police certainly among them, might start with the assumption that a Black man trying to jimmy open a door - even in broad daylight with a cab driver helping him - is not just trying to get into his house, he is inherently up to no good.  It is highly likely that such an ingoing attitude would inform the behavior of a police officer in the Henry Louis Gates case (i.e. would he have handled it differently, spoken with a different tone, if Mr. Gates were White?);

2) A Black man might start with the assumption that no matter how upstanding he is, to the police he's just some street thug.  It is highly likely that such an ingoing attitude would inform the behavior even of a scholarly, accomplished man like Mr. Gates toward the police officer (i.e. would he have handled it differently, spoken with a different tone, if the officer were Black)?

But we don't know if the police officer had that attitude, we only know his side of the story.  And we don't know if Professor Gates' behavior was so abusive and insulting that he caused his own arrest, we only know his side of the story. 

Bottom line:  We will never know for sure what really happened in the sad case of Henry Louis Gates.  But what we do know is that the racial divide in this country is all too alive and all too well.

And that is sad.  Truly sad.


Ken Berwitz

I admit I didn't watch Mr. Obama's press conference.  We have friends here from out of town and, along with several other couples, went out to dinner with them last night.

But the Associated Press has a piece this morning detailing a series of lies and gross distortions Mr. Obama foisted on us.  Here are the highlights (lowlights?):

-President Obama claims the health care proposals will keep government out of health care decisions and allow us to keep our insurance.  A lie.  The house bill will decide what is and isn't covered by insurance plans and holds out the possibility that those standards could be imposed on all insurance companies in the future. 

-President Obama restated is pledge that health insurance reform will not ad to our deficit over the next decade.  A lie.  It excludes a $245 billion dollar bump in doctors' fees for medicare patients and a variety of other gimmicks, including backloading the the heaviest costs to a point at least ten years from now (i.e. when he is out of office and it is someone else's problem to explain);

-President Obama said he isn't blaming Republicans for the holdup in health care.  A lie.  He blamed Republicans in his own opening statement;

-President Obama said that the changes which have been made in the budget will cause a 7.1 trillion dollar deficit over the next ten years intead of 9.3 million if the changes had not been made.  At best a wild distortion, at worst a lie.  These estimates (and that's all they are, estimates) are from his own budget office - which isn't what you'd call a neutral source.  One source that is neutral, the Congressional Budget Office, however, estimated the deficit at 9.1 trillion, which is almost exactly what Mr. Obama said he saved us from.

Remember, too, that the Associated Press is hardly a neutral source, it tends to be very deferential to President Obama. 

How can you believe anything this man says?

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