Tuesday, 01 December 2009

THE OBAMA SPEECH

Ken Berwitz

A quick comment on President Obama's speech.

Mr. Obama spoke for over half an hour.  He got one good round of applause toward the beginning when he complimented the quality of our military.  He got several rounds of applause toward the end when he fed the West Pointers a few sure-fire lines about the innately good quality of the United States.

But the lion's share of the speech, which included his standard "don't blame me, it's Bush's fault" whining, then his explanation for why it took three months to make a decision and, finally, his troop commitment and strategy statement?  Not one round of applause that I heard...and I caught all but a few seconds of it. 

And, to make things worse, there were a number of especially awkward moments when Mr. Obama tossed out lines which he clearly expected to be applauded for, paused for them, and then had to embarrassingly continue because the applause was not forthcoming.

I also caught a moment or two of post-speech commentary on Fox and MSNBC.  In the limited time I was able to hear what they had to say, neither network gave the speech particularly good reviews.  I'm sure the Obama camp expected that from the Fox people,.  But - aside from keith olbermann who, in a remarkably ill-conceived "special comment" last night,  pre-condemned what Obama said - they probably expected a lot more support from the folks at MSNBC than they got.

More on this tomorrow.


LYING ABOUT AFGHANISTAN?

Ken Berwitz

Here is John Hinderaker's (and Byron York's) take on President Obama's speech tonight about Afghanistan.

I'm not commenting on it, beyond noting that it makes a lot of sense to me.  See if you agree:

Lying About Afghanistan

December 1, 2009 Posted by John at 7:16 AM

Tonight President Obama will announce his plan to send more troops to Afghanistan. That's probably a good thing, although, as in Iraq, what the troops do--are permitted to do--is more important than how many of them there are. But Obama's announcement will be greeted with dismay by most Democrats. Byron York notes that most Democrats want to reduce, not increase, troop levels in Afghanistan, and two-thirds of Democrats don't want any expansion of our effort there.

But during the 2008 campaign, nearly all leading Democrats said that Afghanistan was the "good war" which they would step up, once in office. Why the disjunction? Byron is blunt:

If the base didn't support it, then why did candidates promise it? Because Democratic voters and candidates were playing a complex game. Nearly all of them hated the war in Iraq and wanted to pull Americans out of that country. But they were afraid to appear soft on national security, so they pronounced the smaller conflict in Afghanistan one they could support. Many of them didn't, really, but for political expediency they supported candidates who said they did. Thus the party base signed on to a good war-bad war strategy. ...

But now, with Democrats in charge of the entire U.S. government and George Bush nowhere to be found, Pelosi and others in her party are suddenly very, very worried about U.S. escalation in Afghanistan. "There is serious unrest in our caucus," the speaker said recently. There is so much unrest that Democrats who show little concern about the tripling of already-large budget deficits say they're worried about the rising cost of the war.

It is in that atmosphere that Obama makes his West Point speech. He had to make certain promises to get elected. Unlike some of his supporters, he has to remember those promises now that he is in office. So he is sending more troops. But he still can't tell the truth about so many Democratic pledges to support the war in Afghanistan: They didn't mean it.

That's exactly right. Democratic voters supported Obama on Afghanistan (as, to take another example, gay rights) because they believed he didn't mean what he said.

Ken Berwitz zeke - beyond keeping the taliban out of kabul and making sure it isn't a training ground for al qaeda, there is nothing TO do. That should be our only focus. (12/01/09)

Zeke ... Afghanistan is some of the worst terrain in the world to wage war. The country is twice the area of Iraq, and much of it steep mountains with numerous caves. We'd need 10 times the number of troops planned to secure the country ... otherwise, it's merely chasing the Taliwackers from one place to another. ... ... Afghanistan is not a country -- it's a collection of unrelated tribes who have a single flag. ... ... Allegiances change on a dime. ... ... The Brits were beaten there, twice, in the mid 1800's. The Ruskies were beaten there in the 1980's. ... Afghans hate all outsiders. ... ... WTF are we doing there? (12/01/09)


100 YEARS AGO....

Ken Berwitz

Here, from our pal West Coast Russ, is a genuinely interesting, surprising and more than a little unsettling glimpse into the USA of 100 years ago

THE YEAR 1909

This will boggle your mind, I know it did mine!  
The year is 1909.  
One hundred years ago.  
What a difference a century makes!  
Here are some statistics for the Year 1909:

************ ********* *********
The average life expectancy was  47 years.
fuel for this car was sold in drug stores only

Only 14 percent of the homes had a bathtub.


Only 8 percent of the homes had a telephone.


There were only 8,000 cars and only 144 miles

Of paved roads.

The maximum speed limit in most cities was 10 mph.


The tallest structure in the world was the
Eiffel Tower!


The average wage in 1909 was 22 cents per hour.


The average worker made between $200 and $400 per year ..


A competent accountant could expect to earn $2000 per year,  
A dentist $2,500 per year, a veterinarian between $1,500 and $4,000 per year, and a mechanical engineer about $5,000 per year.

More than 95 percent of all births took place at HOME .

Ninety percent of all doctors had
NO COLLEGE EDUCATION!

Instead, they attended so-called medical schools, many of which
Were condemned in the press AND the government as 'substandard. '

Sugar cost four cents a pound.


Eggs were fourteen cents a dozen.


Coffee was fifteen cents a pound.


Most women only washed their hair  once a month, and used

Borax or egg yolks for shampoo.

Canada
passed a law that prohibited poor people from

Entering into their country for any reason.

Five leading causes of death were:

1. Pneumonia and influenza  
2. Tuberculosis  
3. Diarrhea  
4. Heart disease  
5. Stroke


The American flag had 45 stars.


The population of
Las Vegas, Nevada, was only 30!!!!


Crossword puzzles, canned beer, and iced tea  Hadn't been invented yet.


There was no Mother's Day or Father's Day.

Two out of every 10 adults couldn't read or write and
Only 6 percent of all Americans had graduated from high school..
                                                                     

Marijuana, heroin, and morphine were all available over the counter at the local corner drugstores. Back then pharmacists said, 'Heroin clears the complexion, gives buoyancy to the mind,regulates the stomach and bowels, and is, in fact, a perfect guardian of health'

( Shocking? DUH! )

Eighteen percent of households had at least 
one full-time servant or domestic help.

There were about 230 reported murders in the ENTIRE !
 U.S.A.!  
Plus one more sad thought; 95 percent of the taxes we have now did not exist in 1909

I am now going to forward this to someone else without typing it myself.
From there, it will be sent to others all over the
WORLD - all in a matter of seconds!


Try to imagine what it may be like in another 100 years.

IT STAGGERS THE MIND


HONDURAS' ELECTION AND US POLICY

Ken Berwitz

Is the Obama administration out of its mind?

Read this excerpt from www.voanews.com and see why I ask:

US Calls Honduras Election Significant but Insufficient Step to End Political Crisis

David Gollust | State Department 30 November 2009

The U.S. State Department says Sunday's presidential election in Honduras was a significant, but insufficient step, to end to political crisis that began there in June with the ouster of President Manuel Zelaya.  U.S. officials are stopping short of recognizing opposition candidate Porfirio Lobo as the country's next president. 

The State Department says the Honduran election met international standards for fairness and transparency and it has commended Porfirio Lobo for what it termed an "ample victory".

But at the same time, it stopped short of formally recognizing Lobo as the country's next president and says Honduras must still take steps toward political reconciliation before it can emerge from the isolation brought by the June 28 ouster of President Zelaya.

What is this? 

The state department (sorry, it didn't earn capital letters today) agrees there was a democratic election, the election was fair, and the winnner earned an "ample victory" (which, presumably, means he won by so much that there is no doubt at all of his legitimacy).

But that is "insufficient".  Not good enough. 

What the hell would be good enough for Obama & Co. - short of simply ignoring the election and re-installing Mr. Obama's apparent preference, the USA-hating, left wing dictator wannabe, manuel zelaya?

Are they completely off the rails?  Frankly, this is what you would expect if George Soros was running the state department.

Hmmmmm, that makes you wonder, doesn't it?


LAUER/ROVE

Ken Berwitz

Matt Lauer interviewed Karl Rove about Afghanistan on this morning's Today Show.  As per usual when it s someone he disagrees with, Lauer's tone, while respectful, was demonstrably confrontational.  And Rove, who isn't what you'd call a babe in the woods on this kind of interview, more than held his own.

You can go to Today's web site to see the entire interview, but here is a transcript of the last part (the bold print is mine).  See what you think:

LAUER: If this started to happen two years ago, by your own estimations, at that time, the Bush administration had how many troops in Afghanistan?

ROVE: And they began to surge additional brigades into-

LAUER: But how many did they have, about 35,000?

ROVE: And they began to add to those as conditions, you remember, we redirected some Marines, for example, who were meant to go to Iraq, to meet the new threat in Afghanistan.

LAUER: If you look back at what the, the military said, General, or Joint Chiefs Chairman Mike Mullen said in 2008. He said he would love to send more troops to Afghanistan, "but I don't have the troops I can reach for, brigades I can reach to send to Afghanistan until I have a reduced requirement in Iraq." Were the resources available?

ROVE: Well look, first of all, they, resources were sent as they were needed, but I would remind you this, President Obama is in no position whatsoever to criticize what President Bush did. Because in 2007, President Obama, then a member of the United States Senate, voted against war funding for Iraq and Afghanistan. If this was so vital, then why did he not speak out? He was chairman of a committee overseeing NATO. He could have easily called a hearing to say, "I'm concerned about this issue." He did not. The Foreign Relations committee had three hearings on Afghanistan. He bothered to show up at one, and I can find no evidence he raised a single point or asked a single question. So President Obama is not in a place to be critical of, of this. He can look back and rewrite history, whatever, but at the time, he didn't speak out on this.

LAUER: The, the President says, or Robert Gibbs just said, that the goal now is to disrupt, destroy, and dismantle al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. Is that the correct stated goal, in your opinion, at this date in time?

ROVE: Well, that's, that's an important goal. That is the, the most important goal, but it's not the only goal, and I thought there was a little bit of confusion in Gibbs' statement. He said it's not nation-building, but then he went on to say we gotta nation-build, by, we've got to build up the Afghan police, we gotta build up the Afghan military and we gotta have, a change in governance. Look, no president, in fact, the previous president was not a fan of nation-building, until he got into office and until he faced the reality of the situation and realized you can't simply insert military, U.S. military power and not be concerned with creating a, a democratic ally. We faced that problem in Korea. We faced that problem in Germany, we faced that problem, you know, in the Balkans. We still have U.S. troops in the Balkans, and, and why? Because we, the, the, the necessary condition of the, of the use of American military power is not simply to send the military in. It's to be able to have a stable situation in which there's regional, in which regional conflict is diminished. So we, there, there's a little bit of confusion. He said, "not nation-building," but then went on to describe some essential elements of nation-building.

LAUER: Karl Rove. Karl, good to have you here.

ROVE: Thanks for having me.

LAUER: Thanks very much.

Like I said, Rove knows how to handle this kind of interview....


THE ACORN MONEY PIT

Ken Berwitz

How many of our tax dollars go to ACORN?  How many more dollars does ACORN collect from its other revenue sources, which vary from seemingly legitimate to as shady as a 100 year old oak tree after the growing season?  How much of that money just "disappears into Wewon'taccountforitandyou'llneverfinditville?

Matthew Vadum, writing for www.americanspectator.com, has investigated these questions.  Mr. Vadum is a senior person at the Capitol Research Center, which is described as "a think tank that studies the politics of philanthropy"  He is not an investigative reporter for any major media venue.

Here is an excerpt from Mr. Vadum's latest article, which digs into how much money comes into ACORN, where it comes from, and how unaccountable ACORN is allowed to be regarding where it goes:

On the Money Trail

Is ACORN engaged in a massive money laundering scheme?

Although evidence abounds that the radical left-wing advocacy group-cum-organized crime syndicate is recycling funds mafia-style, government investigators and the media have paid scant attention to ACORN's money trail.

Red flags that appear to signal unlawful activities by ACORN are everywhere yet ACORN's collaborators in the White House, Justice Department, and House Judiciary Committee, smugly ignore them.

If senior executives at a troubled publicly traded corporation were to provide completely different accounts of their company's financial standing, how long would it be before federal investigators stormed their offices? If federal authorities failed to act, how long would it be before the media and the public began to accuse the powers that be of complicity in their wrongdoing?

We shall see.

I have just discovered that three senior ACORN officials have recently given wildly divergent accounts of the size of ACORN's budget.

ACORN current CEO and chief organizer Bertha Lewis claimed in October that ACORN had an "average budget" between "$20 [million] and $25 million a year for everything, all of the offices combined."

ACORN national president Maude Hurd reported in the ACORN entry of Erica Payne's handbook for liberal activists, The Practical Progressive, that ACORN's annual budget last year was $50 million.

That's double the figure quoted by Lewis, yet even $50 million seems impossibly low given ACORN's lucrative ongoing corporate shakedown rackets and other revenue sources. The four main ACORN affiliates alone -- ACORN Housing Corp. Inc., Project Vote, American Institute for Social Justice Inc., and ACORN Institute Inc -- took in a total of at least $106.9 million in donations from foundations and individuals from 1993 through 2008. And ACORN takes in untold millions every year in member dues from its 400,000 members -- a figure that has crept up to 500,000 in Bertha Lewis's recent public statements.

In "Understanding ACORN," an essay published earlier this year, ACORN founder Wade Rathke said ACORN's annual budget was north of $100 million. "Each year we raise and spend over $100 million, of which a significant part comes from dues and internal fundraising, but big chunks come from campaign support and labor and corporate partnerships," he wrote.

So, is it $100 million, $50 million, or $25 million?

No one seems to know just how large the entire ACORN network's budget is. One of the reasons is that housing and community development grants administered by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) are difficult to track.

ACORN has received at least $53 million in federal funds since 1993, much of it through HUD. HUD often distributes the money to states and localities, which then allot the funds to many different nonprofit groups. Getting a total financial picture would require enlisting an army of Freedom of Information Act requesters and forensic accountants.

Complicating the accounting further, ACORN Housing Corp. Inc., one of the ACORN network's largest affiliate members and ACORN's primary recipient of federal funding, throws money around like a drunken congressman trying to get reelected.

Taxpayer dollars go into the ACORN network through ACORN Housing and then they somehow disappear. Some of the money leaves ACORN Housing in the form of huge cash transfers to other affiliates within the ACORN network.

From 2001 through 2007 alone, ACORN Housing alone took in more than $18 million in government grants and yet managed to give millions of dollars to ACORN affiliate American Institute for Social Justice (AISJ), usually earmarked for the training of radical community organizers. In addition to training, AISJ also publishes the official ACORN magazine, Social Policy.

After receiving $5.2 million in government grants in 2007, ACORN Housing gave AISJ $253,226 for "training." After taking in $2.1 million in government grants in 2006, ACORN Housing gave AISJ $453,804, again for "training."

ACORN Housing received $1.7 million in government funding in 2005. It paid AISJ $846,817 that year. In 2004, $3 million in government grants went in to ACORN Housing and $947,609 went out to AISJ.

The same pattern was of ACORN Housing taking government money and paying out a large percentage of the total to AISJ was also observed in the three years prior to 2004. In 2003, $2.6 million went in, and $476,702 went out. In 2002 $1.7 million in and $566,535 went out. In 2001, $2 million in, and $606,873 went out.

The fact that Mr. Vadum does not work for a major media venue appears to work very much in our favor.  That is because so few of those so-called "journalists" are doing the investigative work that Vadum is. 

Evidently, the murky disappearance of many millions of dollars, after being collected by an organization that is involved with so much corruption in so many ways, is not of interest to our wonderful "neutral" media.  The corruption includes legal actions in over a dozen states which have either gotten judgments against ACORN or have cases pending, the half-dozen or so offices (so far - there may be more) in which ACORN workers were videotaped in the act of offering to help an apparent pimp and prostitute/madame to open a house of prostitution featuring underage El Salvadoran girls, and so on.

Thank you Matthew Vadum for acting like a journalist.

And listen to the mainstream media squeal like stuck pigs when someone calls them biased.


OLBERMANN'S SPECIAL COMMENT ON AFGHANISTAN

Ken Berwitz

Here, as promised, is a video of keith olbermann's "special comment" regarding President Obama's address to the nation, in which he will announce his decision on troop strength in Afghanistan (if you have any trouble seeing/hearing it, just click here instead).

After hearing it the first time, I mentioned that, while I didn't clock it, the commentary had to have run at least 6-7 minutes.  In fact it was over 9 minutes.

 

This was my assessment last night:

...olbermann was so insulting to so many people, so completely hate-filled, abusive and venomous, that he made me wonder if he is in the process of having a nervous breakdown of some kind.

I've been around a long time  a lot longer than keith olbermann (I was a Bar-Mitzvah one month after he was born).  And in all that time, I can honestly say I have never heard so much bilious vituperation from one person in so short a time before.  Never.

Now, having watched/heard it again, I have no reason at all to change a word of that assessment. 

olbermann comes across like a college freshman whose political science professor assigned him an oral report which, he figured, was his big opportunity to make a name for himself.  So he worked very hard at coming up with some too-clever-by-half prose, spent a little more time looking up a few famous quotations, and then added in a barrage of invective against every bogeyman he could think of.

MSNBC really does pay olbermann money - a great deal of money - for this kind of sh...er, stuff.  Honest.

Would you?

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

UPDATE:  MSNBC - proudly, I'm sure - has put up a transcript of olbermann's commentary, which you can read by clicking here.

In it, you will find that he manages to directly, and viciously, insult:  Everyone at the Pentagon, George Bush, Dick Cheney, our military Generals,  retired Pentagon officials, John McCain, Sarah Palin, "the right" as an entity, General McChrystal......and, since I was just scanning through, I probably missed a few.  Several are directly insulted more than once.  What a guy.


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