Thursday, 27 August 2009


Ken Berwitz

For the second straight day we have a Darwin Award finalist to talk about.

This story comes to us from WFAB, Zachary, Louisiana:

Woman steals 12-pack between her legs

Posted: Aug 27, 2009 7:53 AM EDT Updated: Aug 27, 2009 7:53 AM EDT

ZACHARY, LA (WAFB) - Zachary police say surveillance video shows a woman steal a 12-pack of beer from a small grocery store by putting it between her legs and waddling away.

She is also suspected of shoving several cans of soda into her top.

The Miller Light and soft drinks were taken from the Cross Roads Grocery on August 2.

"It's just amazing how people go this far to steal," said David McDavid with the police department. "It just doesn't make sense."

However, this "beer between the legs" bandit apparently didn't work alone.

The video also shows a man try to hide the woman as she shimmies down the aisle while tucking the beer between her legs.

Zachary police are also looking for her alleged partner in crime.

Unbelievable.  But there it is.

Maybe she took the beer and soda from the refrigerated case, and figured it would contract her so much that no one would notice.  Fat chance.

"Hey chief, I think we have a lead on her partner.  We just picked up a guy with a bottle of Jack Daniels stuck up his......"

Er, never mind.


Ken Berwitz

Here, courtesy of the always-worthwhile, is another look at the UK's National Health Service (NHS), to see what our future might be under Obamacare.  The bold print is sweetness-light's, not mine:

NHS Imports Foreign Docs For Off Hours

August 27th, 2009


Another cautionary tale from the UKs Daily Mail:


Foreign GPs who commute to Britain: 100-an-hour Poles and Lithuanians fly in for shifts our doctors wont do

By Rebecca Camber
25th August 2009


The huge extent to which the NHS needs foreign doctors to treat patients out of hours is revealed today.


A third of primary care trusts are flying in GPs from as far away as Lithuania, Poland, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland because of a shortage of doctors in Britain willing to work in the evenings and at weekends.


The stand-ins earn up to 100 [$162] an hour, and one trust paid Polish and German doctors a total of 267,000 [$434,674] in a year, a Daily Mail investigation has found.


It raises fresh concerns that British patients are being treated by exhausted doctors without a perfect command of English.


Yesterday the Royal College of GPs and the General Medical Council called for a radical review of out-of-hours care so that the NHS no longer has to rely on help from abroad.


The figures come months after an investigation was launched into the conduct of a German doctor after two patients died on his first shift in Britain.


Daniel Ubani had just three hours sleep after travelling from Germany before he went on duty in Cambridgeshire.


The Nigerian-born doctor injected 70-year-old kidney patient David Gray with ten times the maximum recommended dose of morphine, and an 86-year-old woman died of a heart attack after Ubani failed to send her to hospital.


The NHS is having to rely on doctors from overseas because a lucrative new contract for British GPs has resulted in more than 90 per cent opting out of responsibility for their patients in the evenings and at weekends.


Despite doing less, their pay has soared by 50 per cent to an average of almost 108,000 [$175,823].


Responsibility for out-of-hours cover has now passed to primary care trusts.


The rules state that foreign doctors need to have basic GP training, but recent experience is not always necessary.


Their qualifications are checked by the General Medical Council and the local PCT, but no checks are in place to ensure that they are not exhausted after working long hours in their home country.


Our investigation revealed that more than a third of the 152 primary care trusts (PCTs) in England have flown in foreign GPs in the last year. Of the 146 trusts who responded, 51 have used overseas GPs in the last 12 months.


The figure has trebled since 2008 when just one in ten primary care trusts were flying in GPs from abroad. However, it is impossible to know the exact number of GPs travelling to the UK as many primary care trusts do not keep a record of their nationality


This is another aspect of socializing our healthcare system that has received little attention.


Doctors refusing to work evenings and weekends.


And notice that despite that, their salaries have gone up 50 percent.


So much for all the vaunted savings.


But dont worry. It cant happen here.

Take a good look.   A good, long, hard look.  Thiss what has happened since the UK nationalized health care.  And, for the same reasons it happened there, this very well may be our future.

How do you like it?


Ken Berwitz

I am fighting the urge to make keith olbermann a Darwin Award finalist, along with the woman who stuffed the 12 pack of beer between her legs.

But I will defer to him on the grounds that he is a very important media man.  A giant of the industry.  (Just ask him.) 

olbermann has been the host of MSNBC's "Countdown" for almost 6 1/2 years.  He took over for Phil Donahue, because Donahue, in the judgment of MSNBC's brain trust (such as it is) wasn't building enough of an audience and couldn't compete effectively with Bill O'Reilly, who hosts "The O'Reilly Factor.

Well, after 6 1/2 years, and a small ocean's worth of bile aimed at O'Reilly and Fox in general (ok, maybe a medium ocean's worth),  olbermann has built up to - ta DAAAAA - about one-third of O'Reilly's audience. 

If I were Phil Donahue I'd be spitting blood over this.  He got 6 months and was dumped.  olbermann has gotten over 6 years, and can barely see O'Reilly in the distance.

Anyway, because olbermann was being smashed so completely by O'Reilly, whom he hates with a pathological fervor, olbermann started trying to find ways to pretend he was outperforming O'Reilly. 

His first ploy (that I know of) was talking only about the 25-54 demographic, at a time when he had built up to a relatively competitive performance against O'Reilly in that group.  He vaingloriously assured viewers that he was overhauling "Bill-O" (one of the less offensive sarcasms he uses for O'Reilly).

But there was a problem.  Shortly thereafter, O'Reilly built right back up to dominance in the 25-54 demographic.  Illustratively, the latest data available (via - for Tuesday night - show O'Reilly at 1,000,100 among 25-54's versus 384,000 for olbermann's Countdown.  And that is no fluke;  it is very typical of the ratings differential between them these days.

What to do, what to do.

Well, olbermann is now trying another ploy.  This one is even more pathetic.  I'll let Noel Sheppard, of, provide the particulars: 

Olbermann: Fox News Watchers Are Paranoids and Racists


By Noel Sheppard (Bio | Archive)
August 26, 2009 - 00:14 ET


Did you know that Keith Olbermann's "Countdown" on MSNBC is the highest rated news program on cable?

You didn't?


Well, it is according to Keith Olbermann.




Even worse, in his view, folks that watch Fox News are "tin foil hatters, conspiracy theorists, paranoids and racists."


He said so Tuesday evening, so it must be true (video embedded below the fold, relevant section at 0:52, h/t NBer Brad90956):


KEITH OLBERMANN: I hate to intrude with the facts but ours is the highest rated cable news program viewers 35 and younger and the highest rated cable news program for all viewers not on Fixed News. And since Fixed News has since now migrated completely over to serving propaganda to tin foil hatters, conspiracy theorists, paranoids and racists it is not a news organization making this show the highest rated cable news program, period.


Yes, and the Toronto Blue Jays are the best team in Major League Baseball if you ignore all those situated in America.


Nice try, Keith. 


Could you BE any more of an embarrassment to your industry?


For the record, on Monday, these were the top cable news programs:


The O'Reilly Factor - 3,440,000 viewers
Hannity - 2,937,000 viewers
Glenn Beck - 2,810,000 viewers
On The Record w/ Greta Van Susteren - 2,450,000 viewers
Special Report with Bret Baier - 2,066,000 viewers
Fox Report w/Shep Smith - 1,860,000 viewers
Countdown w/ K. Olbermann - 1,114,000 viewers
Larry King Live - 1,063,000 viewers 


Exit questions: if it's wrong for a conservative talk show host to call the President racist, isn't it wrong for a liberal talk show host to accuse millions of Americans of being similarly prejudiced?


Will the advocacy group founded by the President's green czar Van Jones petition Olbermann's sponsors to stop advertising on his program due to these deplorable comments?


If not, why not?


*****Update: Further for the record, this recent claim by Olbermann concerning his popularity with people 35 and younger is just another movement of the goalposts to flatter himself. Last year, despite being trounced by virtually every prime time show on Fox News, he used to refer to his prowess in "the demo" which is folks aged 25 to 54.


Unfortunately, quoting such numbers no longer works for Olberman, as on Monday he was beaten in this demographic by O'Reilly, Beck, Hannity, Baier, Smith, Van Susteren, and even HLN's Nancy Grace!


In fact, even "Fox & Friends" beat Olbermann in Monday's demo.


So keep moving those goalposts, Keith! We're sure your ego needs it.

See, in the world of olbermann, it is not enough to finitely tailor demographics to fantasize being #1, when, in reality, you are so far back that you barely can eat O'Reilly's dust.  It is also necessary to name-call, with all the finesse and aplomb of a three year old who didn't get his lollipop.

The concept isn't very sophisticated. It is that if you pretend the shows ahead of you don't exist, you're in the lead.  Sheppard's example using the (surprisingly hapless) Toronto Blue Jays is dead-on.  The only difference is that I'm not surprised olbermann is hapless.  Or factless.  Or clueless.

And what if this doesn't work?  Who will he try to separate out next?  How about 28 year olds with psoriatic toenails who wear one earring and have had a pastrami sandwich in the past three weeks? 

So what do you think?  Should I have put keith olbermann in the running for a Darwin Award based on this childish, ludicrous, viciously insulting rant?  Or should I just laugh at how ridiculous a fool he makes of himself.

Your call.

iiitretrioeciii To be honest, I think you care more about ratings than KO does. Every time KO talks about ratings, its almost always a response to BO bringing it up. Besides, I never trust those numbers. I mean how do they come up with those figures? I get the sense that a bit of witchcraft is involved. Anyway, I've read your article and I can see that KO's joke either sailed right over your head, or straight through it Think about it. You are so focused on ratings, and so fixated on hating KO that you can't hear the substance of whats being said. BO works for a propaganda machine. foxnews is not news. I thought it was pretty clear that it was a joke.... but you know, now that I'm writing this out...I'm realizing its not a joke. Not at all. Well, not a funny joke. KO can get pretty passionate about a subject. Just watch the man and you will see he believes what he says. He was forever knocking on babybush for his lies and distortions, and he makes sure cheyney knows his opinion on the issue of torture and how pointless it is. Look at the expression of dissappointment on his face when he reports that Obama will continue the practice of rendition. I truly believe that ratings are the least of his concerns. Its too bad you dont feel the same. Instead of ratings look at the world around you. There are alot of things wrong in and outside this country right now. One false war we were duped into believing was about 9-11, one real war that has been terribly executed, we are barely holding off the next great depression, and now that Obama wants to get health-care for all, he is being called a socialist and citizens are bringing guns to his speeches. But you want to talk about ratings. There is no comparison. he's right foxnews is not news, its distorted reality, not news. Not one second of it is. From BO's constant lies and distortions (these are usualy the same as babybush), to the clips of Obama that Hannity has chopped up to fit his views, to Glenn Becks fake crying(I hope its fake) and doomsday obsessions, assassination fantasies, and predictions. And of course, don't forget the silencing of opinions that dont match their own(Cut his mic off!), and the screaming of insults at invited guests who have different views(Mr. Glick). I've never seen a news broadcast with that kind of behavior. And as a bonus, remember when Hannity said he would be waterboarded for charity and KO offered 1000$ a second to any chairity Hannity wished? He wouldn't do it, and a couple of days later Elisabeth Hasslebeck said that KO ought to mind his own business. Some say BO wont even acknowledge that KO exists and is irrelevant, but BO wont stop talking about him (indirectly of course). And now this article. Well you cant teach someone to be a man. You are or you aint. So far, they aint. Let BO, Hannity, and Glenn Beck speak for themselves. They got the guy out numbered three to one already. So get out of the way and forget the ratings of others, and please help. Come up with some real solutions to the the problems were having. As for the the award, prize or whatever it is.You've got some evolving of your own to do before you can begin to judge others. I just realized something else, BO and KO....Now you got to admit KO beats BO anytime. Get it? BO? KO? (08/27/09)

iiitretrioeciii Now that wasnt so hard was it? It took awhile to find this site, but I finally, some civil behavior on a political blog. Not one curse word. As to your Afghanistan comment, well let me put it this way:That entire region has had conflict of one sort or another since before the bible. If only there was some kind of goal or objective to work towards. We were fighting terroism right? I mean how many terrorist's are there? Can that question even answered ? And I've got the feelimg that certain elements are just waiting for us to leave the area, then they can go to work. I've got this idea that maybe we could send Charlie Wilson over there. I think he might be able to communicate with certain groups that remember his role in their war againist the Soviets. Wait, is he even alive? Regardless, in the end I believe the answer to this problem is going to be political in nature. What a mess this is. (08/27/09)

Zeke What are Keithie O's demographics among listeners age 17-35 with the last name "Olbermann" ? (08/27/09)

Ken Berwitz You wrote a long comment, too much there to answer everything individually. But here is the short form response: Yes, OReilly talks a lot about ratings. Why not, since a) he absolutely blows olbermann away ratings-wise and b) I would think it feels good to remind someone who does nothing but insult you that he is so far behind. No, olbermanns commentary wasnt a joke he is pathologically infuriated by Fox News and never jokes about it. Saying Fox does not present news is a convenient, easy condemnation without any basis other than olbermann's (and your) ad hominem attitude. The Iraq war was was not about 9/11 and Bush specifically said there was no evidence to link saddam to it. The real war as you put it is rapidly becoming a disaster under Obama. Obama was wrong about the troop surge in Iraq (which he was against, but was a huge success) and was wrong about the troop surge in Afghanistan (which he ordered, and has, so far, been a crushing failure with dramatically increased US casualties). Regarding Fox personnel, I wont defend OReilly, or Beck or Hannity because, if you read this blog, you know that Im not particularly taken with any of them. But I do give OReilly credit for presenting both sides of issues. By contrast, olbermann almost never has anyone on who actually disagrees with him. And I have chronicled lie after lie after lie of his (read the archives and see). Other than that? Youre right on. (08/27/09)


Ken Berwitz

Ted Kennedy is not even in the ground, and there already are Democrats - both in politics and in the blogosphere - trying to exploit his corpse by sounding the call to "pass health care for Teddy".  To that end, there is even talk of naming it the "Kennedy Health Care Bill".

This is an outrage of the first order.

The bill is what it is.  If a congressperson was against the legislation before Kennedy's death, the fact that he died did not make it any better. 

For the sake of simple fairness, may every congressperson vote for or against health care on the merits of the legislation, not because it is somehow "owed" to Ted Kennedy.

Simply stated, the people asking that they "pass health care for Teddy" are exploitative ghouls.  Shame on them all.

Ken Berwitz B Winkle - Voting for Obamacare because one of its major supporters died is not respecting the dead. It is disrespecting the living. Ted Kennedy's death doesn't make the bill any better or worse than it was. If a congressperson was against it when Kennedy was alive he/she should be against it now as well. Ted Kennedy's death should have exactly nothing to do with his/her decision. (08/28/09)


B Winkle It is amazing the disrespect for the dead. This blog is worthless including the very few who post to it. (08/28/09)


Ken Berwitz

I'm pretty sure most readers are not familiar with Ellie Greenwich, who died yesterday in New York at the age of 68, after an unsuccessful battle with pneumonia.

But I have no doubt most are aware of at least some of the songs she wrote, which ranged from teen romance material (Be My Baby, Leader Of The Pack, Then He Kissed Me) to fun, silly stuff (Do Wa Diddy Diddy, Hanky Panky, Da Doo Ron Ron) and lots, lots more.

Though her name was not what you'd call a household word, Greenwich had a hugely successful career and I doubt you can find anyone, certainly among baby boomers, who doesn't count one or more of her songs among their favorites.

May she rest in peace.


Ken Berwitz

Andy Warhol said (paraphrasing) that we all get our 15 minutes in the limelight.

cindy sheehan had hers, when she sat on a folding chair near George Bush's Crawford, Texas ranch to protest the war in Iraq.  Without going into the details (and there are plenty to go into) she became a huge international superstar for doing so. 

Then, as coverage of her sit-in started to wane (though still enormous in dimension) sheehan decided to challenge Nancy Pelosi for her congressional seat.  At that point our wonderful "neutral" media decided she wasn't worth covering at all, and she has more or less been ignored ever since.

But now we have this story, which comes to us from Agence France Presse:.

Sheehan returns to rebuke Obama


After spending weeks dogging George W. Bush's presidential vacations, anti-war protester Cindy Sheehan is now trying to make life uncomfortable for President Barack Obama.

Sheehan used to pitch a peace camp near Bush's ranch in Crawford, Texas, becoming a symbol of the anti-war movement after her son Casey died in action in Iraq.

On Thursday, she and a band of anti-war protesters turned up outside the media center used by journalists covering Obama's vacation on the well-heeled east coast resort island of Martha's Vineyard.

"The reason I am here is because ... even though the facade has changed in Washington DC, the policies are still the same," Sheehan told a handful of journalists, against a backdrop of her "Camp Casey" banner.

She told US peace activists to wake up and protest Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan, and complained that despite the president's anti-war stance, US troops remained in Iraq.

"We have to realize, it is not the president who is power, it is not the party that is in power it is the system that stays the same, no matter who is in charge."

"We are here to make the wars unpopular again," she said.

Well, there she is again.  She's back, like a morsel of rancid beef at 3AM in the morning.

Do you think she'll get the same coverage for going after Democrat Barack Obama that she did for going after Republican George Bush?  Or anything even remotely near it?  After all, it's the same cindy sheehan and the same issue, right? 

Or do you think she'll get strictly "16th minute" treatment, right from the git-go -- primarily because, this time, she's going after a Democrat?

I have a feeling you already know my expectation.  What's yours?

Jean Ha ha, Elise, that's awesome! I rceeived a fan letter the other day (yes, and I'm still yammering on about it) and I immediately wrote her back, she thanked me, I wrote her back again, thanking her until I guess I entered some hyped-up cyber-cyle of my own making with an unconscious need for the last word, I couldn't stop responding! There's a very fine line of etiquette (especially when trying to get out of an on-line chat)! OK, bye-bye now See ya You too (03/20/12)


Ken Berwitz

As readers of this blog are aware, shortly before his death Ted Kennedy requested that the rules of succession be changed - again - so that Democratic Governor Deval Patrick would select his successor instead of holding a special election.

The Governor was able to fill vacated senate seats until 2004, when John Kerry was running for the presidency and, if he won, the Republican Governor, Mitt Romney, would pick his successor.  At that time, the Democratic-dominated statehouse - for only the most elevated non-partisan reasons, of course - quickly passed legislation that instead required a special election.

Now that the Governor is a Democrat, the Democratic-dominated statehouse - for only the most elevated non-partisan reasons, of course - want to change it back to the old way.  And Governor Patrick, being the elevated nonpartisan we all know that he is, says he will be glad to sign that change into law.

But as of now, the law is that a successor must be chosen by special election.  So, this morning, I sent the following email to the person responsible for the special election:  William Francis Galvin, Secretary of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

Secretary Galvin;


When will the special election be held to replace Senator Kennedy?  Will it be on election day this year?


Thanks in advance for this information.



Ken Berwitz

I will post any reply I get -- assuming a) I get one and b) that Democrats haven't changed the law, in order to insure that the Democratic Governor rather than the people select Massachusetts' new senator.

Stay tuned.


UPDATE:  I have not heard a thing from Secretary Galvin's office.  How nice of them to ignore the question (so far, anyway).  But I did see a story on the Today Show this morning in which told me that the seat must remain vacant for 5 months before there is a special election (and, since then, I have read that the specific time frame is 145 - 160 days after the seat is vacated.)

FYI, the same report, by Kelly O'Donnell, told me that "Unlike most states, Massachusetts Governor, Deval Patrick, does not have the power to name a Kennedy replacement", followed shortly thereafter by "...and Kennedy had requested that state lawmakers make the change to allow the Governor to appoint a replacement for that five month period...."

Ms. O'Donnell was nice enough to avoid mentioning that, as noted earlier in the blog the Governor of Massachusetts did have this power until 2004.  It was changed then because John Kerry was running for the presidency and, if he won, Republican Governor Mitt Romney would have picked Kerry's successor.  

Senator Kennedy was just fine with that change back in 2004, because it prevented a Republican Governor picking Kerry's successor.  And, yes, this is the same Senator Kennedy who, just last week, wrote a letter asking that the law be reversed back so that the now-Democratic Governor could pick his successor.  In other words, heads-Democrfats-win, tails-Republicans-lose.

This is worth remembering, for anyone foolish enough to buy into the claim that Kennedy was in any way bipartisan.

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