Tuesday, 08 September 2009


Ken Berwitz

Barack Obama has dealt with the outcry over his proposed speech to schoolchildren, and turned it into a generic exhortation to do better and be more responsible for their own good and the good of their country - which is what it should have been in the first place.

Initial reports (which I blogged about last week) were that Mr. Obama and his people were producing a hollywoodland show, with celebrities telling the children to think about how they could best serve the President.  That is far, far different than what we are hearing about now. 

With this in mind, you may be interested in seeing how Democrats comported themselves when the previous President made a speech to schoolchildren, similar to what Mr. Obama's has morphed into.

From Byron York of the Washington Examiner: 

When Bush spoke to students, Democrats investigated, held hearings

By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
09/08/09 7:11 AM EDT

The controversy over President Obama's speech to the nation's schoolchildren will likely be over shortly after Obama speaks today at Wakefield High School in Arlington, Virginia. But when President George H.W. Bush delivered a similar speech on October 1, 1991, from Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington DC, the controversy was just beginning. Democrats, then the majority party in Congress, not only denounced Bush's speech -- they also ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate its production and later summoned top Bush administration officials to Capitol Hill for an extensive hearing on the issue.

Unlike the Obama speech, in 1991 most of the controversy came after, not before, the president's school appearance. The day after Bush spoke, the Washington Post published a front-page story suggesting the speech was carefully staged for the president's political benefit. "The White House turned a Northwest Washington junior high classroom into a television studio and its students into props," the Post reported.

With the Post article in hand, Democrats pounced. "The Department of Education should not be producing paid political advertising for the president, it should be helping us to produce smarter students," said Richard Gephardt, then the House Majority Leader. "And the president should be doing more about education than saying, 'Lights, camera, action.'"

Democrats did not stop with words. Rep. William Ford, then chairman of the House Education and Labor Committee, ordered the General Accounting Office to investigate the cost and legality of Bush's appearance. On October 17, 1991, Ford summoned then-Education Secretary Lamar Alexander and other top Bush administration officials to testify at a hearing devoted to the speech. "The hearing this morning is to really examine the expenditure of $26,750 of the Department of Education funds to produce and televise an appearance by President Bush at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, DC," Ford began. "As the chairman of the committee charged with the authorization and implementation of education programs, I am very much interested in the justification, rationale for giving the White House scarce education funds to produce a media event."

Unfortunately for Ford, the General Accounting Office concluded that the Bush administration had not acted improperly. "The speech itself and the use of the department's funds to support it, including the cost of the production contract, appear to be legal," the GAO wrote in a letter to Chairman Ford. "The speech also does not appear to have violated the restrictions on the use of appropriations for publicity and propaganda."

That didn't stop Democratic allies from taking their own shots at Bush. The National Education Association denounced the speech, saying it "cannot endorse a president who spends $26,000 of taxpayers' money on a staged media event at Alice Deal Junior High School in Washington, D.C. -- while cutting school lunch funds for our neediest youngsters."

Lost in all the denouncing and investigating was the fact that Bush's speech itself, like Obama's today, was entirely unremarkable. "Block out the kids who think it's not cool to be smart," the president told students. "If someone goofs off today, are they cool? Are they still cool years from now, when they're stuck in a dead end job. Don't let peer pressure stand between you and your dreams.

Hypocrisy, anyone?


Ken Berwitz

Was President Obama's speech to schoolchildren today generic and non-promotional?  Yes it was.

But here's the part you didn't see or hear about, courtesy of  Terrence Jeffrey of  www.cnsnews.com:

Administrations Suggestions for Teachers: Read Books about Obama, Post Obama Quotes on Classroom Walls
Tuesday, September 08, 2009
By Terence P. Jeffrey, Editor-in-Chief

(CNSNews.com) - The corrected lesson plans the U.S. Department of Education is suggesting that schools around the country use to turn President Obamas speech to students today into a teachable moment still call for teachers to read books about Obama and to post quotations from Obama in large print on classroom walls.
The Department of Education created two
menus of classroom activities for use with the presidents speech.  One is designed to guide Pre-K through 6th grade teachers, and the other is designed to guide 7th through 12th grade teachers.
The menus caused some controversy last week because the original version for Pre-K through 6th grade suggested that students, Write letters to themselves about what they can do to help the president. In the corrected version, the guide now calls for students to: Write letters to themselves about how they can achieve their short-term and long-term education goals.
However, the corrected Pre-K through 6th grade menu currently posted on the Department of Education Web site and
linked from the White House Web site suggests that teachers of Pre-K through 6th grade classes read books about Barack Obama in order to build background knowledge for instructing students about the president and his speech.

The first point on the Pre-K through 6th grade lesson plan says: Teachers can build background knowledge about the President of the United States and his speech by reading books about presidents and Barack Obama.
The menu for 7th through 12th grade suggests that teachers post large print quotations from Obamas speeches about education on their classroom walls.
Teachers may post in large print around the classroom notable quotes excerpted from President Obamas speeches on education, says the lesson plan.
The lesson plans do not suggest posting on classroom walls quotations from any other American president, living or dead

Go to the link provided by Jeffrey and see for yourself.  He is dead-on 100% right.

What a sneaky, underhanded move.  President Obama makes a speech that is as pure and unpolitical as the driven snow.  That's what John and Jane Doe see.  But where they are not looking - in the recommendations from Department of Education - the speech is used to establish to schoolchildren that Barack Obama is the sole keeper of the educational flame.

All hail Saint Barack.

And a grudging tip of the hat to the Mr. Obama and his cadre of Chicago machine politicians for showing us how it's done.

Anon Fascinating comment. Did you happen to notice that, earlier today, I took back my initial criticism of President Obama's speech because the final version was generic rather than self-promotional? I reinstated the criticism only after it turned out that he was using the so-called "generic" speech to glorify himself through the Department of Education recommendations that went along with it. I urge you to click on the links and read those recommendations. See for yourself. (09/08/09)


(Anon) There is no pleasing you (09/08/09)


Ken Berwitz

I knew President Obama was not serious about homeland security, when he appointed Janet Napolitano as Secretary of Homeland Security.

So far, her most significant act has been refusing to use the term "terrorism".  She calls terrorist acts "man-made disasters" and would like you to do the same. 

And if that weren't enough, Ms. Napolitano stated in April that illegal immigration is not a crime.  (Read it here)

We have radical lunatics acquiring significant weaponry, even nuclear weapons, and intent on killing as many of us as possible.  And Ms. Napolitano's response is to sanitize the description of who and what they are, while informing us that illegal entry into the country is not a criminal act. 

It is to puke.

Obviously, Janet Napolitano would have been bad enough by herself.  But Mr. Obama's disdain for homeland security goes even further.  Read about it from Ed Morrissey, writing for www.hotair.com:

Obama appointee hid lobbyist ties

posted at 12:18 pm on September 8, 2009 by Ed Morrissey
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After all of the explosive controversy of having a 9/11 Truther in the Obama administration exposed, perhaps an ordinary case of hypocrisy and subterfuge will seem like a respite.  The Washington Times reports that Barack Obamas appointee for Undersecretary of Homeland Security - Science and Technology has forgotten to mention that she worked for a firm that lobbied Congress on the exact same area that she will now run.  Will we get yet another waiver of the White Houses no-lobbyists executive order?

President Obamas nominee at the Department of Homeland Security overseeing bioterrorism defense has served as a key adviser for a lobbying group funded by the pharmaceutical industry that has asked the government to spend more money for anthrax vaccines and biodefense research.

But Dr. Tara OToole, whose confirmation as undersecretary of science and technology is pending, never reported her involvement with the lobbying group called the Alliance for Biosecurity in a recent government ethics filing.

The alliance has spent more than $500,000 lobbying Congress and federal agencies including Homeland Security since 2005, congressional records show.

Obama administration officials pointed out that OToole didnt actually have to disclose these ties because some lobbying is more equal than others:

However, Homeland Security officials said Dr. OToole need not disclose her ties to the group on her government ethics form because the alliance is not incorporated: Theres no legal existence so she wouldnt have to disclose it, said Robert Coyle, an ethics official for the Department of Homeland Security.

Analysts say the lack of disclosure reflects a potential loophole in the policies for the Obama administration, which has boasted about its efforts to make government more transparent. They also question lobbying laws that allow such a group to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars without the public knowing exactly how much money each of the companies that belongs to the group contributes, though such arrangements are permitted under the law.

So lets see if we can make this more clear.  The Obama administration opposes lobbying when the law requires the lobbying group to disclose their funding and their expenditures.  They wont normally hire anyone from those firms, and would require them to fully disclose their activities before applying for a waiver from the EO Obama signed on Inauguration Day.

However, if the person worked for an unincorporated lobbying group, which has no legal requirements for disclosure on funding or expenditures, then the White House has no problem hiring them, even in the area in which their group lobbied.  The White House requires no disclosure and no waiver in that set of circumstances.

Remind me was Obamas issue with lobbyists or with corporations?

The only reason this has come to light now is because OToole has to win Senate confirmation.  With Democrats holding 59 seats in the Senate, there isnt much chance OToole will get denied, but this hypocrisy on lobbying should get plenty of exposure.  After all, it was Obama who demonized lobbyists in the first place, and now hes stocking them in high-level positions in Homeland Security.  He should answer for the dodge.

Is Ms. O'Toole going to be confirmed?  Of course she is.  And we have no one to blame but ourselves.

We elected what amounts to one-party government.  And this is what we get when there are no meaningful checks and balances.

We get a Secretary of Homeland Security who does mindless wordsmithing to appease terrorists, and an undersecretary who can now do more for the people she was paid to lobby for than she ever could have on the outside.

And we get a compromised mainstream media which will not tell the voters en masse about these disgraces.  With few exceptions, the information, which is easily available by doing a simple google search, can only be found in the blogosphere, not our wonderful "neutral media.  Evidently, if the information is damaging to Obama & Co.,  they find it too hard to do even the most basic research.

The 2010 elections cannot come fast enough.

free` I hope the media doesn't commit fraud again in the run up to the 2010 election. (09/08/09)


Ken Berwitz

Did you know that the cowar...er, intellectuals at Yale University have issued a book about the satirical cartoons of Mohammed which were published in a Denmark magazine, and turned into an intenational object of Muslim fury ---- WITHOUT THE PICTURES???!!!

Since Yale has decided to act this pusillanimously, I have decided to show them up.  Here, for your viewing and evaluation, are the cartoons, exactly as they were shown in Denmark's Jyllen-Posten: 

The controversial cartoons of Muhammad, as they were first published in September 2005 (Click here for an enlarged view). The headline, "Muhammeds ansigt", means "The face of Muhammad".

I don't like censorship and I don't like cowards.  Too bad that Yale seems so comfortable with both.


Ken Berwitz


Can we agree that the health care proposals put forth byPresident Obama and his Democrat-majority congress are controversial?  Can we agree that there are a great many people who are against what they are trying to do?


I would think that is self-evident by now.  But just in case, here is a small sampling of data from www.pollingreport.com which make it pretty clear:



CNN/Opinion Research Corporation Poll. Aug. 28-31, 2009. N=1,010 adults nationwide. MoE 3 (for all adults).








"Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling health care policy?" N=502 (Form A), MoE 4.5











































"From everything you have heard or read so far, do you favor or oppose Barack Obama's plan to reform health care?"



















































65 & older














7/31 - 8/3/09













CBS News Poll. Aug. 27-31, 2009. N=1,097 adults nationwide. MoE 3 (for all adults).








"Do you approve or disapprove of the way Barack Obama is handling health care?"


























































Ok, let's move on.


If these data are accurate, the country is bitterly divided on the health care proposals and, momentum-wise, is moving away from them.   So if a newspaper were to publish a group of letters to the editor about health care, you would expect it to show people advocating for and against the proposals.  Right?


Well, today's New York Times has such a group of letters.  Seven of them about health care. 


Since the Times selects which letters do and do not find their way into the paper, looking at what letters it has selected is a pretty good way of evaluating the paper's interest in presenting both sides of this controversial issue.


With that in mind, here is a quick synopsis of the 7 letters, with one or more representative quotes from each:


Letter 1:  Demands "fundamental change in our dysfunctional and overpriced health care system".  The letter refers to "...those of us who fervently supported Barack Obama as an agent of change..." and angrily attacks Barack Obama for not sticking to the entire health care package 


Letter 2:  Like Letter 1, the writer is angry at Barack Obama for not sticking to the entire health care package, and laments that "The only real solution - one that replaces the profit motive with actually keeping us healthy and operates in most civilized nations on the planet - has already been taken off the negotiating table by our government-corporate plutocracy, and that is a single-payer system"


-Letter 3:  This one compliments President Obama for "...being extremely forceful in his advocacy for serious delivery system reform", and feels that "The impediment has come from extremists who decry mythological "death panels" and make inherently untenable pledges never to reform Medicare"


-Letter 4:  This is the third out of the first four that attacks President Obama for not going far enough.  "Jettisoning the public option, as even some Democrats suggest, would kill the cost-saving part of a health care bill".  If insurers are going to be obliged to cover pre-existing conditions, and insure all who apply, they are going to raise the cost of insurance substantially".


-Letter 5:  Demands a renewed call for a strong public option.  That's four out of five complaining the President is not going far enough.  "I, along with many members of a fickle youthful electorate, will be watching.  Remember, Mr. President, you won big in November"


-Letter 6:  The writer is worried that "...the White House may seek to undermine the school-based health care provision in health care reform" and states that "congress and the president should be working to expand access...Otherwise, the message to our children is that the government is foreclosing on their future"


-Letter 7:  The final letter of the series invokes Franklin Delano Roosevelt's philosophy on being President, and suggests that, since the opposition has figured out how to stop bipartisanship (yes, he really said that, as if bipartisanship played any role in the health care proposals), President Obama should engage in partisan politics (yes, he really said that too, as if it would be a new strategy).  "It seems that this generation of Republicans will not bend on health care, so why not try the aggressive strategy".

Bottom line:  Not one letter is against the health care proposals.  The only criticism, and it is found in most of the letters, is that the proposals don't go far enough and should go even further.


That, folks, is today's New York Times.  What a joke it has become. 

Zeke Is the Presidential Honeymoon over ? ... Most importantly, what will those poll numbers be, come November, 2010 ? .... Will some event cause change in them ... terrorism? economy? scandal? propaganda? (09/08/09)


Ken Berwitz

A guy with three Pulitzer prizes (and how many people can say that???) should be careful not to display a bout with histrionic personality disorder on national TV.

But Tom Friedman has three pulitzers, and he did just that on Meet The Press, when discussing (or, more exactly, irrationally ranting about) the bloggers who did what he and his pals at the New York Times did not do - expose the background of now-former "Green Jobs Czar" van jones.

Watch the video and see for yourself:


Is that unbelievable, or what?  Instead of tipping his hat to the blogosphere for uncovering this information, Friedman tries to make a case that uncovering damning facts about a man who has no business anywhere near our government, is somehow Big Brother looking over everyone's shoulder for no good reason. 

Instead of admiring the investigative efforts of Gateway Pundit and others, Friedman tries to convince us that we should be scared silly of them.  For what?  Getting at facts he and his pals completely ignored?

Mr. Friedman (perhaps understandably, given his pulitzers) has always had a very large ego.  I wonder if the real message of his rant is embarrassment that the Times comes across looking like a bunch of partisan fools who buried a real story, and now have egg on their faces because of it.

What do you think?



Ken Berwitz

If this story doesn't sicken you to the pit of your stomach, you are not human.

From London's Daily Mail:

Premature baby 'left to die' by doctors after mother gives birth just two days before 22-week care limit

By Graham Smith
Last updated at 5:39 PM on 08th September 2009

A young mother's premature baby died in her arms after doctors refused to help because it was born just before 22-week cut-off point for treatment.

Sarah Capewell, 23, gave birth to her son Jayden when she was 21 weeks and five days into her pregnancy.

Although doctors refused to place the baby in intensive care, Jayden lived for two hours before he passed away at James Paget Hospital in Gorleston, Norfolk, last October.

Miss Capewell's desperate pleas for her tiny son to be admitted to the hospital's special care baby unit were rejected.

She is now fighting to establish radical new guidelines on when infants should be given intensive care and has created a website called Justice For Jayden.

Since the site was set up in January, Miss Capewell has received messages of support from 260,000 women from around the world.

Miss Capewell, of Great Yarmouth, said: 'When I asked about my baby's human rights, the attitude of the doctors seemed to be that he did not have any.

'They said before 22 weeks he was just a foetus.'

Her campaign is being backed by local MP Tony Wright.

He said: 'When a woman wants to give the best chance to her baby they should surely be afforded that opportunity.'

Mr Wright has pledged to call for a thorough review of medical guidelines to see if there is a case for changing them.

Miss Capewell, who has a five-year-old daughter, has a history of miscarriages and after bleeding heavily 12 weeks into her pregnancy with Jayden, she was closely monitored by doctors.

She was rushed to hospital by ambulance at 21 weeks and her waters broke at 21 weeks and three days.

She said: 'Because I had not reached 22 weeks, they did not allow me injections to stop the labour or steroid injections to help mature the baby's lungs.'

Miss Capewell was told the baby was likely to be stillborn and as her contractions continued, a chaplain arrived to discuss bereavement and planning a funeral.

'When he was born, he put out his arms and legs and pushed himself over,' said Miss Capewell.

'A midwife said he was breathing and had a strong heartbeat and described him as a "little fighter".

'I kept asking for the doctors but the midwife said, "They won't come and help, sweetie. Make the best of the time you have with him."'

Miss Capewell said she had to argue her right to receive birth and death certificates which meant she could have a proper funeral.

The medical guidance for NHS hospitals, limiting care of the most premature babies, was drawn up by the Nuffield Council on Bioethics in 2006.

The guidelines are clear: no baby below 22 weeks gestation should be resuscitated.

The latest major study on survival of premature babies shows that at 23 weeks, just 16 per cent will survive - a statistic which has barely changed in a decade.

But Miss Capewell said: 'After Jayden's death, I looked into other cases and I could not believe that one little girl, Amillia Taylor, is perfectly healthy after being born in Florida in 2006 at 21 weeks and six days - and Jayden was heavier than her.

'There are thousands of women who have experienced this.

'The doctors say the babies won't survive but how do they know if they are not giving them a chance?'

She said she had heard heartbreaking stories of babies who lived as long as five days in such circumstances.

'Women who went through it 10 years ago have phoned me up in tears. You can't get past it because no one tried.

'You feel you let your baby down and you are left with that guilt every single day. You feel you should have got out of that bed, you should have gone to another hospital.'

Justice for Jayden: His mother is campaigning to change the law

A James Paget Hospital spokeswoman said they could not comment on individual cases.

She said: 'We are always sorry when we hear that a patient has concerns.

'In all of these cases, we would encourage the patient to contact us directly so we can discuss any concerns they may have and take further action, wherever appropriate.'

Pregnancy expert Dr Jane Hawdon, consultant neonatologist at University College London Hospital, said she supported national guidelines but said 'extreme sensitivity' was needed to handle such situations.

Dr Hawdon said: 'There are reams of evidence to support the guidance. The research has not shown any substantial improvements for births under 23 weeks.'

As heart wrenching as this is, I could have made it worse for you -- I could have included the pictures of little Jayden Capewell.  If you have the stomach, you can view them by clicking here.

I am not a religious person, and I am not anti-abortion.  But I hope there is a special place in hell for people who sit in offices and make a one-size-fits-all ruling on whether or not to treat a completely helpless live baby.  And that goes double for the doctors who, knowing Jayden Capewell was alive and viable, used that ruling to let Jayden die.

That is infanticide, and they are baby killers.  Period, end of story.

One last thing:  This horror took place in the UK, not the USA.  Do you want someone sitting in an office in the United States making rulings like this? 

Think about it.

steve schneider i couldn't disagree more. this baby was less than 22 weeks and had essentially no chance of survival. if it did survive it would require a lifelong of care. i can think of worse ways to die than in ones mothers arms. in this case no care was the right care. in the usa this baby would have been prodded unmercifully with the same result after millions of dollars were spent. only when we choose to make these hard choices will we truly get medical costs under control. steve (09/08/09)

Matt The NHS does not have a mandate that prohibits treatment of fetuses below the age of 22 weeks. As a matter of fact, not long ago a less than 22 week old fetus was treated and survived in the NHS system. dailymail.co.uk/health/article-437236/Born-just-22-weeks--Amilla-allowed-home.html The NHS guideline allows hospitals the OPTION to treat fetuses under 22 weeks. It is not a mandate. Turning this into a discussion about health care in the United States is disingenuous and baseless. There's not even a single proposal before congress that would even remotely make our system mimic NHS. (09/18/09)

steve schneider i hate to be the one who offers some insight into this but i will. the fact is that a 22 week fetus has no chance of a normal survival. what was done was humane. i can think of worse things than dying in your mothers arms.the alternative would have been to subject this baby to endless procedures that all would have been futile and would have cost millions of dollars. that is what would have been done in our country, which is one of the reasons why health care is so expensive. if on the rare chance that this baby survived it would have required a lifetime of care at an unimaginable cost.the argument about the care this baby didn't receive is based on emotion and not on what was actually the best course of treatment i.e. no treatment. i'm sure this will cause controversy, but these are the things that need to be discussed if we are ever going to make hard choices to decrease medical costs. steve (09/08/09)


Ken Berwitz

For whatever it's worth (which probably varies widely from reader to reader), here is what Don Imus had to say about Barack Obama and Joe Biden, who he calls "plugs" - presumably because of the hair transplants Biden had years ago.  The comments were made on Sean Hannity's show last night, and I picked them up from Noel Sheppard's blog at www.newsbusters.org:

Even my own personal experience with [Barack Obama], and I thought he was a hypocrite and a phony, but, I mean Plugs is even worse, Biden. Because, I've had Biden on my program a hundred times, and he's said far worse things than I ever said. And, and making fun of going to 7-11s. I mean, I was just trying to be funny and be hip which was stupid. But I'm not offering that as an excuse for what I said. I'm just saying he is, he, because he's a moron, Joe Biden, has said a lot worse things. [...]


But I also think, and I said at the time when he was running, let's hope he's not, doesn't turn into Jimmy Carter. But, which I think he has. I think it's inexcusable that he appointed these people, these Goldman Sachs people, and these other people, to orchestrate this whole phony stimulus thing that could very well ruin this country. [...]


So, I think he's, I don't, I think it's business as usual. He's appointed too many questionable people. I don't, I, you know, I think, he's a lovely guy, and, and, but I mean if you can't give a speech without a teleprompter, and, you know, I just, I think he means well, I just don't think he knows what he's doing.

Truth be told, it is necessary for Imus to stir the pot every now and again, because controversy is so important a part of his show.  But, from the way he said this, I get the sense that there was more honesty than pot-stirring in those comments.

You decide for yourself.


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