Friday, 23 October 2009

IRAN'S TEACHABLE MOMENT FOR OBAMA

Ken Berwitz

Sadly, we have another example of the inexperienced, incapable Barack Obama being played like a stradivarius by far more talented internationalists - including some who hate the USA and are having a field day at our expense. 

This time it is mahmoud ahmadinejad of Iran.

From the Times of London:

October 24, 2009

Barack Obama's policy on brink of collapse as Tehran does last-minute nuclear stall

President Obamas policy of diplomatic engagement with Iran is close to collapse as Tehran backtracks on a crucial deal aimed at cutting its stockpiles of nuclear fuel.

Iran agreed a deal in principle at talks in Geneva to ship the majority of its low-enriched uranium overseas for reprocessing into nuclear fuel that could be used for a medical research reactor.

A deal outlining this was finalised in Vienna this week and a deadline of midnight tonight was set for the agreement to be sealed with Tehran.

The framework deal, along with an offer to allow international inspectors into its newly-revealed enrichment plant at Qom, was hailed as evidence that Iran was responding positively to the diplomatic track.

Today, however, with just hours until the deadline, Iran has turned the table on its foreign interlocutors with a rival proposal, demanding that it be allowed to buy higher enriched uranium directly from abroad.

Later, the Islamic Republic issued a statement saying that it would report to Mohammed El Baradei, the UN's atomic watchdog, next week.

"Iran is precisely examining different dimensions of the contents of the proposed agreement about the provisional supply of fuel for the Tehran research reactor, Ali Asghar Soltanieh, Irans envoy to the UN atomic watchdog, was quoted as saying on state televisions website.

After final evaluation, I will give the result to Mr. ElBaradei when I return to Vienna next week."

Tehrans proposals fall far short of the deal drawn up in Vienna by the United Nations atomic watchdog and endorsed by the UN, the US, Russia and France. It would not only fail to reduce Irans stockpile of low enriched uranium now large enough to fuel one nuclear warhead but it would also require the waiver of pre-existing UN sanctions.

The counter-proposal was outlined on Iranian state television today as the clock ticked down to the midnight deadline. The Islamic Republic of Iran is waiting for a constructive and confidence-building response to the clear proposal of buying fuel for the Tehran research reactor, state television quoted an unnamed source close to Irans negotiating team as saying.

Western diplomats have warned that Tehrans failure to agree to the deal could jeopardise talks in Geneva next week between Iran and the E3 plus 3 the US, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain and open the door to a new regime of punishing sanctions.

Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, said during a visit to Lebanon today that via the indications we are receiving, matters are not very positive. He added: If these indications remain negative . . . this will reflect negatively on the continuation of the political contacts . . . in Geneva.

Russia and Chinas reluctance to consider new sanctions is forcing Washington to seek a coalition of willing allies to impose their own economic blockade on Iran if efforts to get UN sanctions fail.

Tehrans latest move comes straight from a well-thumbed Iranian playbook and looks like yet another stalling tactic to test the Wests resolve and buy time to avert new sanctions. But Western patience is growing thinner by the day, with diplomats warning that the apparent breakthrough in Geneva on October 1 may be less positive than it first seemed.

Anxiety is now growing about what will happen on Sunday when inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) arrive in Iran to inspect the long-hidden nuclear plant at Qom.

Its like Groundhog Day, a senior Western diplomat involved in the Iran negotiations said. Except in Groundhog Day you wake up every day and everythings the same. With this, you wake up every day and everythings just a little bit worse.

Under the IAEA deal Tehran would export 1,200kg (2,650lbs), or 80 per cent, of its low-enriched uranium stockpiles to Russia, where it would be further enriched. Russia, subcontracting for France to skirt Tehrans objections to dealing directly with Paris, would send the material on to the French, who would convert it into special fuel rods. Those would be used to fuel the Tehran research reactor, which would produce isotopes for medical research.

The UN deal was proposed specifically to head off Irans request to buy the fuel ready-enriched, which Western governments feared was simply a ruse to justify them carrying out their own re-enrichment.

Iran says that its nuclear energy programme is only for producing electricity but it is years away from having any nuclear power plants that would use the low-enriched uranium that it has stockpiled and Western capitals fear that its true goal is to acquire a nuclear weapon.

Britain, France and Israel believe that Iran has all the know-how it needs to build a bomb and that weaponisation studies have continued despite Tehrans insistence that it halted them years ago.

The IAEA has called Western intelligence on weaponisation compelling and chided Iran for refusing to answer questions on the subject. Iran remains in breach of five UN resolutions calling on it to halt enrichment until outstanding questions about a military dimension to the programme are resolved.

Are you surprised that Iran is ducking and shucking and lying to us, as it goes on its merry way doing whatever it wants?  You shouldn't be.  That's the job of the UN, whose members are regularly surprised that they are made fools of by countries like Iran (and saddam's Iraq, and North Korea, and Sudan, and Rwanda, and Somalia, etc. etc. etc).

But does the President of the USA have to be just as gullible and just as easily played as the UN is? 

Well, frankly, the answer is yes.  It is yes because the President of the United States is a Chicago machine politician without any foreign policy experience whatsoever, but armed to the teeth with a puerile belief that if he can just talk to those folks and make nice to them, they'll come around.

Wake-up call for President Obama;  They won't. 

They will play with him like a daddy plays with a child, laugh at his inexperience, and then act any way they want - secure in the belief that he is a weakling who won't do a thing about it.  That belief is based on his naivete and the fact that his political base is so far to the left that they would turn on him in a nanosecond if he showed any serious spine. 

Serious spine, you see, is only supposed to be used for real enemies of the state.  Like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and Fox News.

This is not the first time President Obama has been played by enemies of our country.  And you can bet that it won't be the last.

free` I believe this paragraph explains how stupid diplomacy has gotten. From the article>> Bernard Kouchner, the French Foreign Minister, said during a visit to Lebanon today that “via the indications we are receiving, matters are not very positive”. He added: “If these indications remain negative . . . this will reflect negatively on the continuation of the political contacts . . . in Geneva.” (10/23/09)


CASS SUNSTEIN ON MARRIAGE

Ken Berwitz

Cass Sunstein, who is one of the dozens of unvetted "Czars" that Barack has appointed who answer to no one but him, has some pretty radical ideas on government involvement with the institution of marriage.

From Aaron Klein at www.worldnewsdaily.com:

CZAR WARS
Sunstein urges: Abolish marriage
Adviser compares institution to country club membership

 

Posted: October 23, 2009
12:30 am Eastern

By Aaron Klein
 2009 WorldNetDaily

The U.S. government should abolish its sanctioning of marriage, argued Cass Sunstein, President Obama's regulatory czar.

 

Sunstein proposed that the concept of marriage should become privatized, with the state only granting civil union contracts to couples wishing to enter into an agreement.

 

Sunstein explained marriage licensing is unnecessary, pointing out people stay committed to organizations like country clubs and homeowner associations without any government interference.

 

"Under our proposal, the word marriage would no longer appear in any laws, and marriage licenses would no longer be offered or recognized by any level of government," wrote Sunstein and co-author Richard Thaler in their 2008 book, "Nudge: Improving decisions about health, wealth and happiness."

 

In the book obtained and reviewed by WND Sunstein explains his approach would ensure that "the only legal status states would confer on couples would be a civil union, which would be a domestic partnership agreement between any two people."

 

He proposed marriage not be recognized by the government. Marriages would instead be "strictly private matters, performed by religious and other private organizations," he wrote.

 

"Governments would not be asked to endorse any particular relationships by conferring on them the term marriage," added Sunstein.

 

Sunstein slammed current government recognition of marriage as "an official license scheme."

 

"When the state grants marriage it gives both maternal and symbolic benefits to the couples it recognizes. But why combine the two functions? And what is added by the term marriage?" he asked.

 

Sunstein explained terminating the issuance of state marriage contracts would not affect the commitments of those in the "partnership."

 

"People take their private commitments serious," Sunstein wrote. "Members of religious organizations, homeowners' associations, and country clubs all feel bound, sometimes quite strongly, by the structures and rules of such organizations."

That's pretty radical isn't it? 

But it is also something else.  It is also correct. 

Whatever I think about Mr. Sunstein on other issues, I completely agree with him on this one.  I have, for many years, proposed exactly the same thing.

There is no reason for government involvement in marriage, other than its legal parameters as a partnership.  Marriage itself should be the province of religious and social institutions, not government.

That's how it works anyway, doesn't it?  Look at, for example, the government versus the Catholic church on marriage.  If a Catholic husband and wife divorce, they are still considered married in the church, and if one or both remarry they will most likely be excommunicated.  But in the eyes of government, they are just plain divorced and can remarry at will. 

The same is also true of some orthodox Jewish sects.  If the wife is not granted a "get" (i.e. permission from her husband to divorce - it is his choice, not hers), she is not considered divorced, and any subsequent marriage is therefore invalid and in sin.  But, as with the Catholic example, in the eyes of government she and her husband are just plain divorced and can remarry at will.

This obviously has major implications for gay couples as well.  For one, if government noses out of the marriage part of things, the political controversy ceases to exist.  Hallelujah.

No one (that I know of, anyway) challenges the right of gay couples to engage in a legal partnership.  The marriage part of it will either be sanctioned or not sanctioned by a religious or social institution.  If, for whatever your reasons, you personally do not consider gay people married, then don't consider them married.  That's your business, not theirs - just as the fact that they consider themselves married is their business, not yours.

The point is that religious institutions, social institutions and individuals will either accept or not accept people's marital status.  That's up to them.  But the government should only be involved with the legal issues regarding a partnership.

Mr. Sunstein is right. 

WisOldMan 'Mr. Sunstein is right.' Don't we wish...in fact, as are virtually every member of this admin., Mr. Sunstein is left...far left...and with the economy in the tank, Afghanistan being ignored, we're talking about doing away with another American institution ? Good grief. (10/23/09)


GRAYSON AND THE DEATH STATISTICS

Ken Berwitz

Here is another example of just how far over the edge alan grayson is when it comes to his claims about deaths of uninsured people.

From Michelle Malkin:

The Bogus Death Statistic That Won't Die

by Michelle Malkin

 

Democratic Rep. Alan Grayson of Florida has found his calling: death demagogue. First, he accused Republicans of wanting sick patients to "die quickly." Next, he likened health insurance problems to a "holocaust in America." Now, he's unveiled a new website entitled "namesofthedead.com" in memory of the "more than 44,000 Americans [who] die simply because they have no health insurance."

Just one problem: The statistic is a phantom number. Grayson's memorial, like the Democrats' government health care takeover plan itself, is full of vapor. It comes from a study published this year in the American Journal of Public Health. But the science is infused with left-wing politics.

 

Two of the co-authors, Drs. David Himmelstein and Steffie Woolhandler, are avowed government-run health care activists. Himmelstein co-founded Physicians for a National Health Program, which bills itself as "the only national physician organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to implementing a single-payer national health program." Woolhandler is a co-founder and served as secretary of the group.

Sounding more like a MoveOn.org organizer than a disinterested scientist, Woolhandler assailed the current health reform legislation in Congress for not going far enough: "Politicians are protecting insurance industry profits by sacrificing American lives."

How did these political doctors come up with the 44,000 figure? They used data from a health survey conducted between 1988 and 1994. The questionnaires asked a sample of 9,000 participants whether they were insured and how they rated their own health. The federal Centers for Disease Control tracked the deaths of people in the sample group through the year 2000. Himmelstein, Woolhandler and company then crunched the numbers and attributed deaths to lack of health insurance for all the participants who initially self-reported that they had no insurance and then died for any reason over the 12-year tracking period.

At no time did the original researchers or the single-payer activists who piggy-backed off their data ever verify whether the supposed casualties of America's callous health care system had insurance or not. In fact, here is what the report actually says:

"Our study has several limitations," the authors concede. The survey data they used "assessed health insurance at a single point in time and did not validate self-reported insurance status. We were unable to measure the effect of gaining or losing coverage after the interview." Himmelstein et al. simply assumed that point-in-time uninsurance translates into perpetual uninsurance -- and that any health calamities that result can and must be blamed on being uninsured.

Another caveat you won't see on Grayson's memorial to the dubious dead: The single-payer advocate-authors also conceded in their study limitations section that "earlier population-based surveys that did validate insurance status found that between 7 percent and 11 percent of those initially recorded as being uninsured were misclassified. If present, such misclassification might dilute the true effect of uninsurance in our sample."

To boil it all down in plain English: The single-payer scientists had no way of assessing whether the survey participants received insurance coverage between the time they answered the questionnaires and the time they died. They had no way of assessing whether the deaths could have been averted with health insurance coverage. A significant portion of those classified as "uninsured" may not have been uninsured, based on past studies that actually did verify insurance status. But the Himmelstein team just took the rate of uninsurance from the original study (3.3 percent), applied it to census data and voila: More than 44,000 Americans are dying from lack of insurance.

Next, the political doctors cooked up scary-specific death tolls for all 50 states (California -- 5,302, Texas -- 4,675). Newspapers dutifully cited the fear-mongering factoids. The single-payer lobbying group co-founded by Himmelstein and Woolhandler took it from there. Last month, the group set up its own memorial on the National Mall for the phantom 44,000 casualties of uninsurance.

Himmelstein (who was also the driving force behind another flawed study tying medical debt to personal bankruptcies) eschewed scientific nuance and caveats to take to the airwaves and declare starkly that an American "dies every 12 minutes" because of lack of insurance. And now Grayson has taken the monumentally dishonest concept online to solicit sob stories and put flesh on the weak bones of these dubious death numbers.

Where's the White House health care "reality check" squad when you need it?

No surprise that grayson, as abrasive and offensive a congressperson as there is, would run with these data regardless of their source or accuracy, because they make a left-wing case for him.

Excuse the language but, politically and personality-wise, this guy is Bella Abzug with a dick.


WASHINGTON POST: COVERING FOR OBAMA

Ken Berwitz

Here is the first part of an almost comical apologia by the Washington Post for the fact that Virginia Democrat Creigh Deeds is almost certainly going to be whipped by Republican Bob McDonnell:

Deeds ignored advice, White House says

Top Democrats seek to shield Obama in case of election loss

By Rosalind S. Helderman and Anne E. Kornblut

Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 23, 2009

 

Sensing that victory in the race for Virginia governor is slipping away, Democrats at the national level are laying the groundwork to blame a loss in a key swing state on a weak candidate who ran a poor campaign that failed to fully embrace President Obama until days before the election.

 

Senior administration officials have expressed frustration with how Democrat R. Creigh Deeds has handled his campaign for governor, refusing early offers of strategic advice and failing to reach out to several key constituencies that helped Obama win Virginia in 2008, they say.

 

Democratic strategists said that over the summer, Virginia Gov. Timothy M. Kaine (D) offered Deeds advice on winning a statewide election. Among other things, Kaine, who is also chairman of the Democratic National Committee, told Deeds that he should lay out more of his own vision and stop attacking Republican Robert F. McDonnell so ferociously. But Deeds did not embrace the advice, according to a national Democratic strategist.

 

A senior administration official said Deeds badly erred on several fronts, including not doing a better job of coordinating with the White House. "I understood in the beginning why there was some reluctance to run all around the state with Barack Obama," said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to speak candidly about the race. "You don't do that in Virginia. But when you consider the African American turnout that they need, and then when you consider as well they've got a huge problem with surge voters, younger voters, we were just a natural for them."

 

A second administration official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said: "Obama, Kaine and others had drawn a road map to victory in Virginia. Deeds chose another path."

 

A loss for Deeds in Virginia -- which for the first time in decades supported the Democratic presidential candidate in last year's race -- would likely be seen as a sign that Obama's popularity is weakening in critical areas of the country. But the unusual preelection criticism could be an attempt to shield Obama from that narrative by ensuring that Deeds is blamed personally for the loss, particularly given the state's three-decade pattern of backing candidates from the party out of power in the White House.

 

Deeds advisers insist the notion that he has distanced himself from Obama isn't true. "We've enjoyed a tremendous relationship with the White House," said Mo Elleithee, a campaign spokesman. "The campaign has worked very closely with them and the DNC and the [Democratic Governors Association] from the very beginning.

 

 They have given us just about everything the campaign asked for."

 

A key meeting

An adviser to the Deeds campaign said that on June 17, top campaign staffers held a meeting with the White House political team as well as representatives from the DNC and the Democratic Governors Association at the DGA's Washington offices. They came equipped with some requests of the White House: two visits by the president before Nov. 3, e-mails from the president to his Virginia supporters and a visit from Vice President Biden. Almost all of their requests have been met, the adviser said.

Fascinating analysis. 

Deeds, who is aggressively supported by Barack Obama, appears to be losing pretty handily to McDonnell.  But, just like the failed "stimulus package" that has seen a 20% rise in unemployment since its implementation, and just like the two months of dithering in Afghanistan instead of acting on his own General's recommendations, Obama cannot be blamed.  There has to be a scapegoat.

For the "stimulus package" and the Afghanistan dithering, it is former President Bush - who is out of politics and more involved in walking Barney these days than dealing with political BS. 

For Deeds' likely loss, it is that he didn't do exactly what Obama and his people said - the same people who have overseen Obama's poll numbers drop through a trap door during the months of Deeds' campaign.

Is it possible, just this once, to admit that maybe Barack Obama is not god incarnate?  That he is capable of being wrong? That obeying his every dictate does not result in a one-way ticket to victory?

That would be a refreshing change - both for the Obama administration and the Washington Post.

steve schneider assuming nj and the special election in ny elect democrats the admin. will stress those two races. what they will not mention is that the only reason the dems may win is because there are three candidates which will syphon votes from the republican. steve (10/23/09)


ALAN GRAYSON: LEFT WING NUTCAKE

Ken Berwitz

Alan Grayson is a first term congressperson from a usually Republican district, who was swept in with Barack Obama's victory last year.  He is also someone who grew up in very modest means and became rich in the communications industry.  I give him credit for his remarkable rise to wealth and power.

Unfortunately, he is also a left wing nutcake.  And even more unfortunately, he has no problem demonstrating his left wing nutcakery as publicly as he can.  Here, from Ben Johnson at www.newsrealblog.com, is the latest incident:

Amateur Hour on Hate Speech TV

 

2009 October 23

tags: Alan Grayson, Chris Matthews, Dick Cheney, Hardball, left-wing hatred

by Ben Johnson

 

MSNBC is neither a news network nor a ratings success, but it is good for one thing: taking the pulse of the Left.

 

Judging by his numerous recent appearances, the Left has a new It-boy: Rep. Alan Grayson, D-FL, who made headlines by saying the Republican health care plan is for you to die quickly. Last nights edition of Hardball with Chris Matthews gave Grayson another opportunity to display his cultivated intellect. Asked by Matthews to respond to Dick Cheneys criticism of Obamas Afghanistan (non-)policy, Grayson chose to uncork some Don Rickles one-liners:

 

Well, my response is and by the way, I have trouble listening to what he says sometimes, because of the blood that drips from his teeth while hes talking. But, but my response is this: hes just angry because the president doesnt shoot old men in the face. B-by the way, when he was done speaking, did he just turn into a bat and fly away?

Matthews, who had hailed Grayson earlier in the segment as Captain Cojones, goaned in disgust. Grayson (who rather resembles Bela Lugosi) proved with his comedic flop why he is the perfect spokesman for todays Left.

 

A U.S. Congressman was asked for a serious reply to the most conspicuous attack on the presidents voting present on a war, and Grayson chose to utter an unbroken onslaught of personal insults against Cheney. (He never did answer the question.) To believe his words were funny, one must be either psychotic or blinded by sheer personal hatred. The insult route is vacuous, its easy, and evidently for Grayson, it works. He catapulted into left-wing stardom by calling everyone who opposes socialized medicine a murderer. He did this as others of his ideological ilk described the tens of thousands of average moms-and-dads at town hall meetings and tea bag parties as violent racists.

 

Alan Grayson perfectly embodies the MSNBC-Left: ignore foreign policy, keep hitting the snooze alarm on international conflagrations, find a scapegoat (or scapegoats) on the other side to serve as the butt of rambling hate-eruptions, and move on to demonizing the one-half of America or more that disagrees with you.

 

Alan, keep talking.

Is Johnson too harsh on Grayson? 

No he is not.  I think he is overly sarcastic - which gets in the way of, thus works against, what he is trying to say.  But Johnson's assessment of Grayson's tasteless, humorless, bilious mouthings is spot on.

I hope (and expect) that the voters of Grayson's district will notice what he is in a very tangible way in 2010.  But until then he seems determined to be the poster boy for schoolyard-quality nastiness.  What a waste of talent.


OBAMA OPAQUENCY

Ken Berwitz

There is transparent and opaque.

Barack Obama promised us transparency.  Instead, we have gotten opaquency (yeah, I know it isn't in the dictionary, but does it ever fit here).

Excerpted from an article in today's Washington Times (the bold print is mine):

W.H. tells Congress that policy 'Czars' won't testify

The White House has told Congress it will reject calls for many of President Obama's policy czars to testify before Congress - a decision senators said goes against the president's promises of transparency and openness and treads on Congress' constitutional mandate to investigate the administration's actions.

Sen. Susan Collins, Maine Republican, said White House counsel Greg Craig told her in a meeting Wednesday that they will not make available any of the czars who work in the White House and don't have to go through Senate confirmation. She said he was "murky" on whether other czars outside of the White House would be allowed to come before Congress.

Miss Collins said that doesn't make sense when some of those czars are actually making policy or negotiating on behalf of Mr. Obama.

"I think Congress should be able to call the president's climate czar, Carol Browner, the energy and environment czar, to ask her about the negotiations she conducted with the automobile industry that led to very significant policy changes with regard to emissions standards," Miss Collins said at a hearing Thursday that examined the proliferation of czars.

The debate goes to the heart of weighty constitutional issues about separation of powers. The president argues that he should be allowed to have advisers who are free to give him confidential advice without having to fear being called to testify about it. Democrats and Republicans in Congress, though, argue that those in office who actually craft policy should be able to be summoned to testify because they do more than just give the president advice.

At issue are the 18 positions Miss Collins says Mr. Obama has created since he took office. Of those, she says 10 - the White House says eight - are in the executive office and not subject to Freedom of Information Act requests or requests for testimony.

Czar is an informal term given to the positions.

Sen. Joe Lieberman, Connecticut independent and chairman of the government affairs committee, asked the White House to provide a witness for Thursday's hearing but it did not send one.

In a letter last week to Miss Collins, though, Mr. Craig explained that the White House is not trying to circumvent Congress.

"We recognize that it is theoretically possible that a president could create new positions that inhibit transparency or undermine congressional oversight. That is simply not the case, however, in the current administration," Mr. Craig wrote.

Mr. Craig said the new positions Mr. Obama has created within the White House "are solely advisory in nature" and have no independent authority.

Senators disagreed with that evaluation, pointing to Mrs. Browner and health care czar Nancy-Ann DeParle, who is Mr. Obama's health care adviser.

"We do happen to have a Cabinet officer with Health and Human Services with whom I have never had a conversation on health care, not because I have any opposition to her but because it's my perception Nancy-Ann DeParle is calling the shots," said Sen. Robert F. Bennett, Utah Republican.

Criticism of czars has boiled over after talk-show host Glenn Beck - who senators at the hearing repeatedly referred to as "he who shall not be named" - began a campaign to highlight their proliferation in the Obama administration. But Miss Collins said she's been looking at czars for months, and she doesn't have problems with many of the czars Mr. Beck has criticized.

Still, Mr. Craig spent two pages of his four-page letter to Miss Collins critiquing Mr. Beck's positions.

Amazing, isn't it?  These people are selected by the President and no one else.  They are not subject to any congressional vetting.  They are not made available to congress for hearings.  But they responsible for making policy.

You have to hand it to Hugo Chave...er, Barack Obama.  That's some sweet situation for him.

Now:  The Washington Times published this article.  But where are the New York Times, LA Times, Washington Post, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer, etc. etc. etc?  Where is the network news?  Where are the morning shows?

Have you seen any significant coverage of this disgrace from them - other than maybe a quick, one-day-and-out story which is the same as just burying it?

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.

Zeke ..... 1) Why are they called "Czars"? .... "Commisars" or "Apparatchniks" would be more appropriate .... 2) Congress has the power of the purse .... cut off funding of the Commisars salary, staff, facilities and expenses ...... 3) Are the Commisars the real Cabinet Secretaries ? and people like Hillary merely figureheads ? (10/23/09)


KRAUTHAMMER ON THE WHITE HOUSE WAR AGAINST FOX NEWS

Ken Berwitz

Great column.  Superb.

Here it is, without further comment (you don't improve on great and superb):

Fox wars

 

The 'post-partisan' president makes an enemies listBy Charles Krauthammer

Friday, October 23, 2009

 

Rahm Emanuel once sent a dead fish to a live pollster. Now he's put a horse's head in Roger Ailes's bed.

Not very subtle. And not very smart. Ailes doesn't scare easily.

 

The White House has declared war on Fox News. White House communications director Anita Dunn said that Fox is "opinion journalism masquerading as news." Patting rival networks on the head for their authenticity (read: docility), senior adviser David Axelrod declared Fox "not really a news station." And Chief of Staff Emanuel told (warned?) the other networks not to "be led [by] and following Fox."

 

Meaning? If Fox runs a story critical of the administration -- from exposing "green jobs" czar Van Jones as a loony 9/11 "truther" to exhaustively examining the mathematical chicanery and hidden loopholes in proposed health-care legislation -- the other news organizations should think twice before following the lead.

 

The signal to corporations is equally clear: You might have dealings with a federal behemoth that not only disburses more than $3 trillion every year but is extending its reach ever deeper into private industry -- finance, autos, soon health care and energy. Think twice before you run an ad on Fox.

 

At first, there was little reaction from other media. Then on Thursday, the administration tried to make them complicit in an actual boycott of Fox. The Treasury Department made available Ken Feinberg, the executive pay czar, for interviews with the White House "pool" news organizations -- except Fox. The other networks admirably refused, saying they would not interview Feinberg unless Fox was permitted to as well. The administration backed down.

 

This was an important defeat because there's a principle at stake here. While government can and should debate and criticize opposition voices, the current White House goes beyond that. It wants to delegitimize any significant dissent.  The objective is no secret. White House aides openly told Politico that they're engaged in a deliberate campaign to marginalize and ostracize recalcitrants, from Fox to health insurers to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

 

There's nothing illegal about such search-and-destroy tactics. Nor unconstitutional. But our politics are defined not just by limits of legality or constitutionality. We have norms, Madisonian norms.

 

Madison argued that the safety of a great republic, its defense against tyranny, requires the contest between factions or interests. His insight was to understand "the greater security afforded by a greater variety of parties." They would help guarantee liberty by checking and balancing and restraining each other -- and an otherwise imperious government.

 

Factions should compete, but they should also recognize the legitimacy of other factions and, indeed, their necessity for a vigorous self-regulating democracy. Seeking to deliberately undermine, delegitimize and destroy is not Madisonian. It is Nixonian.

 

But didn't Teddy Roosevelt try to destroy the trusts? Of course, but what he took down was monopoly power that was extinguishing smaller independent competing interests. Fox News is no monopoly. It is a singular minority in a sea of liberal media. ABC, NBC, CBS, PBS, NPR, CNN, MSNBC vs. Fox. The lineup is so unbalanced as to be comical -- and that doesn't even include the other commanding heights of the culture that are firmly, flagrantly liberal: Hollywood, the foundations, the universities, the elite newspapers.

 

Fox and its viewers (numbering more than those of CNN and MSNBC combined) need no defense. Defend Fox compared to whom? To CNN -- which recently unleashed its fact-checkers on a "Saturday Night Live" skit mildly critical of President Obama, but did no checking of a grotesquely racist remark that CNN falsely attributed to Rush Limbaugh?

 

Defend Fox from whom? Fox's flagship 6 o'clock evening news out of Washington (hosted by Bret Baier, formerly by Brit Hume) is, to my mind, the best hour of news on television. (Definitive evidence: My mother watches it even on the odd night when I'm not on.) Defend Fox from the likes of Anita Dunn? She's been attacked for extolling Mao's political philosophy in a speech at a high school graduation. But the critics miss the surpassing stupidity of her larger point: She was invoking Mao as support and authority for her impassioned plea for individuality and trusting one's own choices. Mao as champion of individuality? Mao, the greatest imposer of mass uniformity in modern history, creator of a slave society of a near-billion worker bees wearing Mao suits and waving the Little Red Book?

 

The White House communications director cannot be trusted to address high schoolers without uttering inanities. She and her cohorts are now to instruct the country on truth and objectivity?

 


SOUPY SALES R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Soupy Sales died yesterday, at a hospital in the Bronx, New York, of apparently natural causes at the age of 83.  He had been in declining health for years.

If you wanted a genuinely offbeat comedic personality, one who could laugh at himself along with you, Soupy Sales was the guy. And if you wanted a pie in the face, there was no one who provided more of them - even if he was the guy who got nailed.

Soupy Sales (born Milton Supman) had a long, usually successful (there were high and low points) career in TV, hosting both adult and children's shows.  In later years he became a panelist on several different game shows.  He even had a record hit in 1965 ("The Mouse").

I never realized just how long his TV career was until I went on youtube.com a while ago to see if there was any video of a great jazz trumpet player named Clifford Brown who, tragically, died in a car accident in 1956, at just 26 years of age.  I found a kinescope of him performing on the Soupy Sales TV show in 1955.  It turned out that Sales had a lot of great Black performers on his show - long before it was "acceptable" to do so. 

That took a lot of guts - which he had, with plenty to spare.

Soupy Sales was one of a kind.  And, though his career faded some years ago, a great many people will remember and miss him (including me).

May he, along with his characters Pooky, White Fang and Black Tooth, rest in peace.


JOY BEHAR'S DEFINITION OF LYING

Ken Berwitz

I watched a remarkable video today. 

It is an interview (if you can call talking over someone for 6 minutes an interview) by Joy Behar, of Ann Coulter.  Ms. Behar's premise, dripping with venom and sarcasm, was that Fox News is not a real news venue because it lies.  She cited four examples to "prove" this contention.  Here they are: 

-Glenn Beck talked about a poll that said 45% of physicians would consider retiring if President Obama's health care legislation passed.  Behar called that a lie because she disputes the findings of the poll.  You may, at this point, be asking "If that is what the poll says, how is it a lie to quote it"?  Good question.  By the way, the poll was conducted for Investors Business Daily and surveyed 1,376 practicing physicians.  If Ms. Behar chooses to disbelieve the findings, that's her business - but her disbelief doesn't make the findings lies.  That's just plain dumb;

-Glenn Beck said that the USA is the only country that confers automatic citizenship.  Behar says other countries do too.  Assuming she is correct (personally I have no idea), how does she know it is a lie, and not a mistake?  Between his radio and TV shows, Beck does something like 20 hours of broadcast a week.   Is it so hard to believe he could make a mistake here and there?

-Behar claims that Sean Hannity said you could pick up a car from the junkyard, get it to a dealership and collect on the "cash for clunkers" program.  If he said it, he is wrong.  But, again, is that a lie or an honest mistake?  Hannity does 20 hours a week just like Beck does.  I'll bet Ms. Behar has misspoken any number of times during her years on The View.  Does that mean she's a serial liar? 

-Finally, Behar cited Karl Rove (a Fox contributor) because he criticized the White House for its attacks on Fox.  Behar said it was hypocritical because he "is the same guy who went after Valerie Plame out of the CIA agent", whatever that means.  a) Rove wasn't lying, he was expressing an opinion so this isn't even germane to her point, and b) if Behar means Rove "outed" Plame, she's wrong.  Richard Armitage did, and admitted it and apologized for it.  So is Behar mistaken, or just lying?

That's it.  That's the "proof" that Fox lies.  Are you impressed? 

I know I'm not - unless Behar was auditioning to replace Grandma The Clown at this year's edition of The Big Apple Circus, in which case I think she should get the job.


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