Saturday, 28 November 2009

TIGER, TIGER, MAYBE NOT BURNING SO BRIGHT AFTER ALL

Ken Berwitz

I hope that TMZ is wrong about this.  But I don't know, so here it is for you to decide:

Tiger Woods: Injuries Caused by Wife, Not SUV

Posted Nov 28th 2009 6:08AM by TMZ Staff

 

Tiger Woods did not suffer facial lacerations from a car accident. They were inflicted by his wife, Elin Nordegren -- according to a conversation Woods had Friday after the accident.

Tiger has yet to be formally interviewed by the Florida Highway Patrol -- that should happen this afternoon. But we're told Tiger had a conversation Friday -- with a non-law enforcement type -- detailing what went down before his Escalade hit a fire hydrant.

We're told he said his wife had confronted him about reports that he was seeing another woman. The argument got heated and, according to our source, she scratched his face up. We're told it was then Woods beat a hasty retreat for his SUV -- but according to our source, Woods says his wife followed behind with a golf club. As Tiger drove away, she struck the vehicle several times with the club.

We're told Woods became "distracted," thought the vehicle was stopped, and looked to see what had happened. At that point the SUV hit the fire hydrant and then hit a tree.

We're also told Woods had said during the conversation Friday he had been taking prescription pain medication for an injury, which could explain why he seemed somewhat out of it at the scene.

Until now, Tiger woods has had an ublemished image as a great guy, who also happens to be the Babe Ruth of golfing history.  It would be terribly sad if TMZ's story (which, let's remember, has no sourcing, only a useless "we're told" claim) were true. 

But if it is true, I suppose the emergency call could have gone something like this:

"Hello, 9/11  What's the problem?"

"I'm Tiger Woods' wife and I'm having trouble with my putts."

"Maam, I can't help you with your golf game, ask your husband."

"No, you don't understand, the putz I'm having trouble with IS my husband."

free` LOL (11/28/09)


IKE SKELTON'S PHONY POSTURING

Ken Berwitz

Here, from the Pulaski County (Missouri) Daily, comes an article that is so absurd, it would more appropriately be about Red Skelton than Ike.  The bold print is mine:

Skelton endorses Gen. McChrystals properly resourced Afghan strategy

By: Press Office of U.S. Rep. Ike Skelton

 

WASHINGTON
, D.C. (Sept. 22, 2009) In a letter to the President, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) expressed support for the Afghanistan counter-insurgency strategy endorsed by President Obama last March. Skelton urged the President to give this strategy, and Commanding General Stanley McChrystals counter-insurgency campaign plan, the resources and time required to show success in Afghanistan.

Some of Skeltons points include:

I am convinced that there is no strategy short of a properly-resourced counter-insurgency campaign that is likely to provide lasting security. But, time is not on our side. Coming from Harry Truman country, I ask myself, What would Harry Truman do? And this leads me to urge you to waste no time in providing a clear direction to our commanders and civilian leaders, along with the resources necessary to achieve their missionand to do so with an understanding that the American and Afghan people, as well as our allies, must see progress in the next 12 months.

The last administration allowed itself to be distracted from the fight forced on us in Afghanistan by the fight it chose in Iraq. I believe that this was a strategic mistake, robbing the war in Afghanistan of the necessary resources and resulting in an approach of half-ass it and hope. We cannot afford to continue that policy.

It has been THREE MONTHS since the request Skelton is talking about was made.  How dare he pretend that he urged the President to "waste no time in providing a clear direction to our commanders", as if these three months didn't occur.

And how dare Skelton associate himself with Harry Truman (what a blatant attempt to pander to Missouri voters!).  If the President were Truman, a decision would have been made within days; not a quarter of a year later.  If Skelton bore any resemblance to Truman, he'd have demanded a decision in those few days.  But General McChrystal asked for the troops in August and we're almost into December.  Where was Skelton all this time?   Out golfing with Obama?  In Copenhagen, being crapped on by the Olympic committee?  Trying to run a haberdashery?  Where?

Then there is Skelton's invocation of George Bush, who, ludicrously, has become the Democrats' one-size-fits-all explanation for everything they do wrong.  What a joke.  Check the casualty figures in Afghanistan under Bush, versus the last three months when President Obama dithered and dawdled and didn't send the troops his commanding General was begging for.

And before you say "oh yeah, well how come Bush didn't catch osama bin laden", let me remind you that, though this was a major campaign issue for then-candidate Barack Obama, he has been president for almost a year and bin laden is still at large. 

When, instead of barfing out campaign blather, Mr. Obama actually had to accomplish something, the rules changed a bit, didn't they?  Not just for Mr. Obama, but for our wonderful "neutral" media -- which seconded his motion every time he attacked Bush for not bagging bin laden, but have exactly nothing to say about the fact that Obama hasn't brought him in either.


ACORN AND OUR TAX DOLLARS

Ken Berwitz

If I were a Republican strategist, I wouldn't know whether to express my outrage at Attorney General eric holder, or send him a thank-you note.  Maybe I would do both..

Excerpted from today's article in the New York Times:

Justice Department Says Acorn Can Be Paid for Pre-Ban Contracts

By CHARLIE SAVAGE

Published: November 27, 2009

 

WASHINGTON The Justice Department has concluded that the Obama administration can lawfully pay the community group Acorn for services provided under contracts signed before Congress banned the government from providing money to the group.

 

The departments conclusion, laid out in a recently disclosed five-page memorandum from David Barron, the acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, adds a new wrinkle to a sharp political debate over the antipoverty groups activities and recent efforts to distance the government from it.

 

Since 1994, Acorn, which stands for the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has received about $53 million in federal aid, much of it grants from the Department of Housing and Urban Development for providing various services related to affordable housing.

 

But the group has become a prime target for conservative critics, and on Oct. 1, President Obama signed into law a spending bill that included a provision that said no taxpayer money including money authorized by previous legislation could be provided to the group or its affiliates.

 

A Housing and Urban Development Department lawyer asked the Justice Department whether the new law meant that pre-existing contracts with Acorn should be broken. And in a memorandum signed Oct. 23 and posted online this week, Mr. Barron said the government should continue to make payments to Acorn as required by such contracts.

 

The new law should not be read as directing or authorizing HUD to breach a pre-existing binding contractual obligation to make payments to Acorn or its affiliates, subsidiaries or allied organizations where doing so would give rise to contractual liability, Mr. Barron wrote.

 

The deputy director of national operations for Acorn, Brian Kettenring, praised Mr. Barrons decision.

 

We are pleased that commitments will be honored relative to Acorns work to help keep Americas working families facing foreclosure in their homes, Mr. Kettenring said.

 

Conservatives have long complained about Acorns voter drives in poor neighborhoods, citing instances in which workers fraudulently registered imaginary voters like Mickey Mouse. Acorn has argued that it is the real victim of such incidents, which its employees have often brought to the attention of the authorities.

 

Criticism of Acorn escalated in September, when two conservative activists released videos they had recorded using secret cameras of Acorn workers in several cities. The activists had posed as a pimp and a prostitute seeking financial advice. Instead of raising objections, the Acorn employees counseled the couple on how to hide their illicit activities and avoid paying taxes.

 

Conservatives seized on the videos to criticize the group further, highlighting that the Obama campaign had paid an Acorn affiliate for get-out-the-vote efforts. Congress then enacted the ban on providing money to it.

Acorn has fired several of the employees depicted in the videos.

Let's cut straight to the chase.  ACORN is as dirty and corrupt a Democratic voter-registration machine as you can find anywhere.  Numerous lawsuits have been  filed, or successfully brought to completion, against ACORN in over a dozen states.  The ones that have been adjudicated usually result in ACORN admitting no wrongdoing, but firing a few workers (it's those little people, your honor, not us). 

That is exactly the strategy being used to try to fend off the fact that ACORN personnel were more than happy to help the apparent pimp and hooker to get housing, so they could run a prostitution ring with underage girls from El Salvador.  ACORN personnel offered such advice as what to call the business, so it wouldn't be found out as an illegal prostitution business which exploited children for sex.

If this had happened in just one office, a case could be made that it was a bad-apple situation and not anything that defined ACORN.  But it happened in office after office around the country.  That speaks for itself.

This organization is not a "victim" of anything but the fact that it has been found out. 

And let's disabuse ourselves of the absolutely fraudulent idea that only "conservatives" are against ACORN being funded.  That is exactly the kind of bogeyman the New York Times likes to raise, apropos of nothing.  Here's a challenge for you:  other than hardline Democrats, try to find anyone who wants money to go to ACORN, conservative or otherwise. 

The bottom line is that ACORN has no business getting any money from taxpayers.  And it has no business existing in its current form (which, I suspect, is the only form it has ever existed in). 

But we have an Attorney General, eric holder, whose background includes:

-Recommending presidential pardons for terrorists (the 16 FALN members),

-Recommending a presidential pardon for a multi-million dollar thief who fled the country to avoid prosection, but could to contribute plenty to then-President Clinton (marc rich). 

-Working as a senior partner at Covington and Burling, which specializes in defending and advocating for terrorists, often pro bono (presumably to get big law contracts with the countries that back these terrrorists up). 

-And, if that's not enough, this is the Attorney General who just made the unprecedented decision to give enemy combatant terrorists khalid sheikh mohammed and his pals, civil trials in New York City instead of military tribunals.

An Attorney General like eric holder, therefore, would have no problem making sure that the millions and millions of taxpayer dollars continue to flow to ACORN.

The 2010 elections cannot come fast enough.  And, thinking politically, the damage this catastrophic Attorney General is doing to the country could not come at a better time for Republicans.

free` Until we have an unbiased media i am afraid that nothing will change in 2010 or 2012. (11/28/09)


DIPLOMACY: NEW YORK TIMES STYLE

Ken Berwitz

Allow me to thank the New York Times for how clearly its editorial writers have explained what they consider to be "diplomacy".

Let's take a look at today's lead editorial, which talks about mideast diplomacy, and see where they are.  My thoughts are interspersed, in blue print:

Editorial

Diplomacy 101

 

Published: November 27, 2009

 

We were thrilled when President Obama decided to plunge fully into the Middle East peace effort. He appointed a skilled special envoy, George Mitchell, and demanded that Israel freeze settlements, Palestinians crack down on anti-Israel violence and Arab leaders demonstrate their readiness to reach out to Israel.  This is the same BS we have been hearing for decades.  Israel is supposed to give up something tangible.  Palestinian Arabs are supposed to make a promise to crack down on people they have promised to crack down on for 40 years without ever doing it.  The game is that Israel gives what it promises, Palestinians dont crack down on anyone, and in the next session Israel is supposed to give something else and Palestinians will crack down again.  It's Charlie Brown and the football, in real life.

 

Nine months later, the presidents promising peace initiative has unraveled. On this we agree fully.  President Obamas dithering and equivocating have resulted in both sides disliking and distrusting him.

 

The Israelis have refused to stop all building. The Palestinians say that they wont talk to the Israelis until they do, and President Mahmoud Abbas is so despondent he has threatened to quit. Arab states are refusing to do anything.  Lovely.  Unless Israel starts the ball rolling by freezing all building in its capital city (what other country would agree to that under any circumstances?), Palestinian Arabs refuse to dowhat they wont be doing anyway.  Yep, thats a great deal for Israel.

 

Mr. Obamas own credibility is so diminished (his approval rating in Israel is 4 percent) that serious negotiations may be farther off than ever.  Thats right.  It is.  Because while Mr. Obama's talking out of both sides of his mouth (that goes even more for Hillary Clinton) may have wowed enough people to get this Chicago machine politician elected President of the US, the people in Israel, Gaza and Judea/Samaria (the west bank) actually expect something real.  And since almost everything one side wants is going to be despised by the other side, it isnt as easy as reading a few meaningless slogans off a teleprompter Mr. Obama actually has to take a stand and do something significant.

 

Peacemaking takes strategic skill. But we see no sign that President Obama and Mr. Mitchell were thinking more than one move down the board. The president went public with his demand for a full freeze on settlements before securing Israels commitment. And he and his aides apparently had no plan for what they would do if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said no.  Again we agree completely.  No thought, no diplomacy, no logic, not even the slightest look down the road.  Like playing chess one move at a time.

 

Most important, they allowed the controversy to obscure the real goal: nudging Israel and the Palestinians into peace talks. (We dont know exactly what happened but we are told that Mr. Obama relied more on the judgment of his political advisers specifically his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel than of his Mideast specialists.)   I dont know who Mr. Obama relies on most, but I wouldnt be surprised if the Times was right about Emanuel.  You would think that someone with so close a religious and familial connection to Israel could, in just this one case, rise above Chicago "tell-em-what-they-want-to-hear,-then-lie-and-stonewall-'em-forever" politics.  But it is clear that Mr. Emanuel cannot.

 

The idea made sense: have each side do something tangible to prove it was serious about peace and then start negotiations. But when Mr. Netanyahu refused the total freeze, President Obama backed down.  Have each side do something?  Havent we talked about this already?  Israel was asked to do something tangible, Palestinian Arabs were not, and never are.  Just as they never are expected to account for the billions and billions of dollars in international aid that is belched into their coffers every year.  When do their benefactors (the US being one of them) ask for such an accounting?  Do they avoid it because they know that, since no infrastructure is ever built in those territories, the money is probably being stolen and/or used to make war on Israel?  And knowing this would force them to make actual demands of the Palestinian Arab leaders instead of kissing their rumps to appease the rest of the Arab world?

 

Mr. Netanyahu has since offered a compromise 10-month freeze that exempts Jerusalem, schools and synagogues and permits Israel to complete 3,000 housing units already under construction. The irony is that while this offer goes beyond what past Israeli governments accepted, Mr. Obama had called for more. And the Palestinians promptly rejected the compromise.  I have a great idea.  Why doesnt Mr. Netanyahu also demand that Palestinian Arabs not build thousands of housing units in, say, Gaza City and Ramallah.  And use the answers Palestinian Arabs give (who the hell are you to tell us what we can and can't do in our own lands) on them when it comes to Jerusalem?  Then, when they tell Netanyahu that East Jerusalem is Arab land, he can remind them that Jerusalem -- and Judea and Samaria (the west bank) -- were Jewish land long before Arabs settled on it.  Wouldnt that be fun?

 

Washington isnt the only one to blow it. After pushing President Obama to lead the peace effort, Arab states, especially Saudi Arabia, refused to make any concessions until settlements were halted. Mr. Mitchell was asking them to allow Israel to fly commercial planes through Arab airspace or open a trade office. They have also done far too little to strengthen Mr. Abbas, who is a weak leader but is still the best hope for negotiating a peace deal. Ditto for Washington and Israel.  Are you as tired as I am of hearing that the US has any hope of getting Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressed fundamentalist states on the planet and the source of wahabbi Islams spread, to make concessions to Jews?  And are you just as tired of hearing that abbas who hates Israel every bit as much as hamas and wants it every bit as vaporized, is our best hope because everyone is even worse?  That doesnt make him a hope, it makes him a glaring example of why this so-called diplomacy has no chance to go anywhere.

 

All this raises two questions: What has President Obama learned from the experience so he can improve his diplomatic performance generally? And does he plan to revive the peace talks?   Ill help out here.  The answers are 1) probably nothing, not with that ego, and 2) hell almost certainly revive them with a different version of the same go-nowhere, no-hope-to-succeed BS the Times is whining about this morning.

 

The president has no choice but to keep trying. At some point extremists will try to provoke another war. and the absence of a dialogue will only make things worse. Advancing his own final-status plan for a two-state solution is one high-risk way forward that we think is worth the gamble. Stalemate is unsustainable.  At some point extremists will try to provoke another war?  Does the Times editorial staff seriously think extremists aren't trying to provoke a war, that they are in some kind of hiatus?  How obtuse can they be?  And, by the way, stalemate as nonproductive and violent as it is - has caused Israel to survive for 40 years, since they won Gaza and the west bank from Egypt and Jordan respectively.****  The saddest part of this near-hopeless horror show is that stalemate may be the only thing that works.

 

==========================================================================

 

****Whats that?  Did someone say wait a minute, I thought Israel got that land from the Palestinians?  Well, they didnt.  Unfortunately, the people who thought that are already way behind the 8 ball, because they've been sold a phony bill of goods on this, and probably a great deal more.  Read up on the history of this land.  Don't let anyone (me included) manipulate what you know and don't know.

 

There are few things in this world discussed with a greater combination of certainty and ignorance than the middle east.


JOE (DE)KLEIN

Ken Berwitz

Here is a terrific piece by Noel Sheppard at www.newsbusters.org on what's left of Joe Klein, who still writes, more or less, for what's left of Time Magazine:

Time's Joe Klein Blames Obama's Drop in the Polls On...THE MEDIA

By Noel Sheppard (Bio | Archive)
November 28, 2009 - 10:37 ET

 

The mistakes President Obama has made in recent months that have led to his plummeting poll numbers aren't his fault.

 

According to Time's Joe Klein, it's all being caused by -- and I quote! -- "the media's tendency to get overwrought about almost anything."

 

Yep. After withholding from the public material information about Obama last year that almost certainly would have doomed his candidacy, the press today are focusing too much attention on silly things like his: response to the Fort Hood massacre; not spending enough time on unemployment; accomplishing nothing in Asia, and; allowing Khalid Sheikh Mohammed to be tried in New York City.

 

As one reads Klein's Wednesday column, you get the feeling he dearly misses the good old days when anything Obama did or said was met with thunderous applause, and anything that could take the bloom off the rose was squelched:

 

As a fully licensed pundit, I have the authority to weigh in here ... but I demur. Oh, I could sling opinions about every one of the events cited above some were unfortunate but it would matter only if I could discern a pattern that illuminates Obama's presidency. The most obvious pattern, however, is the media's tendency to get overwrought about almost anything. Why, for example, is the 20th anniversary of the Berlin Wall demolition so crucial that it requires a President's presence? Which recent U.S. President has gotten the Chinese to agree to anything big? (In fact, Obama has secured significant diplomatic cooperation from the Chinese on North Korea, Afghanistan and Pakistan.) Was his deep bow indicative of anything other than his physical fitness? (My midsection, sadly, prevents the appearance of obsequiousness in such circumstances.)

 

Let not your heart be troubled, liberals, for it's all following a predictable pattern that will end up just fine:

 

Stepping back a bit, I do see a metapattern that extends over the 40 years since Richard Nixon's Southern strategy began the drift toward more ideological political parties: Democrats have tough first years in the presidency. Of the past seven Presidents, the two Bushes rank at the top in popularity after one year, while Obama and Bill Clinton rank at the bottom, with Jimmy Carter close by. There is a reason for that. Democrats come to office eager to govern the heck out of the country. They take on impossible issues, like budget-balancing and health care reform. They run into roadblocks from their own unruly ranks as well as from Republicans. They get lost in the details. A tax cut is much easier to explain than a tax increase. A foreign policy based in bluster railing against an "axis of evil" is easier to sell than a foreign policy based in nuance. Of course, external events count a lot: the ratings of Bushes I and II were bolstered, respectively, by the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the flattening of the World Trade Center. Reagan's rating 53% and headed south was dampened by a deepening recession.

 

Isn't that great? The problem Obama's having is that unlike Reagan and the Bushes, he's actually trying to accomplish something right out of the gate. Those three didn't do anything in their first year in office according to this self-proclaimed "fully licensed pundit."

 

Stuff like this makes you wonder how many boxtops you have to send in for such accreditation:

 

So it is way too early to make pronouncements on Obama's fate. One pattern that can be limned from the recent overseas controversies is that this President has a tendency to err in the direction of respect toward other countries. This is a witting reaction to the Bush Administration's tendency to diss our allies and insult or invade our enemies. It is a long game, which will yield results, or not, over time. After a first year spent demonstrating a new comity, Obama has gained the global credibility to get tough on Iran, for example in his second year.

 

Isn't that great? You see, all this bowing and America-bashing abroad which has produced absolutely no diplomatic gains for the President this year are going to pay off in the long run:

 

But the real evaluation of Obama's debut must wait for the results of the two biggest problems he's tackling: his decision on Afghanistan and the congressional attempt to pass health care reform. And even here, it will be difficult to render judgment immediately as difficult as it was to judge Clinton's decision to spend his political capital on deficit reduction in his 1993 economic plan, a triumph that didn't become apparent for nearly five years.

 

Actually, the payoff for Clinton came after the Republicans took back Congress in 1994 and forced fiscal sanity and tax cuts on the former Arkansas governor who went kicking and screaming the whole way.

 

Like most of his liberal colleagues, Klein has totally forgotten these inconvenient truths.

 

That's not at all surprising, for he's been clueless for decades.

My one and only dispute with Mr. Sheppard is his last line.  I don't think it has been that long since Joel has been in decline, I think it has only been in the past, say, 10 - 15 years.  And I also dispute that he is clueless.  I think it's actually worse:  i.e. he knows exactly what he's writing, and writes it anyway.

But the chronology is small potatoes.  However long ago he started writing hopelessly partisan crap, and whatever the reasons were, that is what he has been writing.

It is sad to see someone so talented go down this far.  But things are as they are, and that's where he is.


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