Monday, 08 February 2010


Ken Berwitz

Jonah Goldberg has a really good commentary on how "liberal Hollywood" obsesses on making movies with left wing themes.  He points out that many of them bomb terribly, which they do.

But my favorite part is when he quotes a clearly gleeful film critic for claiming that "Avatar", a record-breaking hit movie which contains anti-corporation and pro environmental-activist themes, shows that Hollywood has it right:

"For years," writes Patrick Goldstein in the Los Angeles Times, "pundits and bloggers on the right have ceaselessly attacked liberal Hollywood for being out of touch with rank and file moviegoers, complaining that executives and filmmakers continue to make films that have precious little resonance with Middle America." The last laugh is on them, cackles Goldstein, because "Avatar" "totally turns this theory on its head."

I'm sure Goldstein's right. No doubt James Cameron could have made "Avatar" for $300 million less and still made a fortune. After all, audiences didn't need the 3-D digital magic, explosions, giant aliens or spectacular backdrops. All they wanted was an extended lecture about the evils of corporate America and the cruelty of the military, and some gassy pantheistic blather about the need to get back to nature. Why, Cameron could have simply recorded a poetry jam at Barbra Streisand's house and still put out the highest-grossing film ever.

Goldstein's effort is a good example of how critics and historians want to impose significance on films that may not be there.


I see Patrick Goldstein's Avatar, and raise him two Renditions and one In The Valley of Elah.


Ken Berwitz

hugo chavez started as the President of Venezuela 11 years ago.  He has since morphed into its de facto dictator.

And how has Venezuela fared under chavez?  Here is what the Miami Herald thinks -and where the Obama administration stands - in today's editorial.  The bold print is mine:

Venezuela heads toward disaster

OUR OPINION: Region's leaders need to act

Hugo Chavez says Venezuela-U.S. relations will improve


Closer relations between Venezuela and the United States are no doubt coming soon, President Hugo Chvez said Saturday, adding that the two countries may soon return each other's ambassadors to their posts.

Chvez made the statement after a dozen South American leaders met with President Barack Obama Saturday morning at the Fifth Summit of the Americas. Chvez called the meeting ``extraordinary.''

''I feel great optimism and the best of good will to advance. We have started off on the right foot,'' Chvez said in a statement released by his office, which noted that he and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton discussed renewing each other's ambassadors.

What little is left of Venezuela's democracy has taken a literal beating from President Hugo Chvez's uniformed goon squads -- again.

Police used a variety of weapons, from water cannons to plastic bullets, last week to disperse hundreds of student protesters who refuse to knuckle under to an increasingly desperate and unpopular president determined to remain in power at all costs.

While the president and his followers were celebrating the anniversary of the failed 1992 coup that first brought him to national attention, the students were protesting the deterioration of their country. It wasn't the first time that Mr. Chvez has resorted to force to quell peaceful political opponents, but the frustration level inside the country is rising as Venezuela's political and economic situation goes from bad to worse.

Rolling blackouts, currency devaluation and price inflation (the worst in Latin America), water shortages and scarce commodities -- this is what 11 years of a Chvez presidency have produced.

Dismal energy program

As if to underline the utter befuddlement of Mr. Chvez's inept government, an advisory team from Cuba, of all places, was brought in to improve the dismal energy program. Cuba? That's like asking Scott Rothstein for advice on legal ethics.

The problem with PDVSA, the oil company, as Venezuelans well know, is that Mr. Chvez turned it into a sinecure for political cronies, destroying its once admirable efficiency and productive value. Only by putting the experts back in charge can it hope to recover, but President Chvez is not about to hand authority over to anyone who is not a known loyalist.

The problems at PDVSA are emblematic of what's wrong with Venezuela and why his Bolivarian revolution is in trouble. Mr. Chvez has run the economy, and the country, into the ground, but that hasn't stopped him from making trouble wherever he can.

As the streets of Caracas were in turmoil, the U.S. director of national intelligence, former Admiral Dennis Blair, was giving Congress an unvarnished assessment of Mr. Chvez's presidency that underlines the danger he represents to the entire region.

He has cultivated friendships in all the wrong places, beginning with Iran, spent $6 billion to buy weapons from Russia, and provided covert support to the terrorist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC).

Pressure Chvez

All of this spells disaster for the people of Venezuela -- and the hemisphere. It can be avoided only by the concerted effort of other countries in the region to pressure Mr. Chvez to moderate his behavior and adhere to the rules of democracy.

Isn't that what the Organization of American States is for? Mr. Chvez has undermined, if not destroyed Venezuela's once vibrant, if imperfect, democracy. He has bullied his neighbors, fueled a regional arms race and brought political tensions inside the country to a boiling point. The region's leaders shouldn't wait for domestic bloodshed or a cross-border conflict to move them to act.

President Obama defecated on Honduras when, in strict accordance with its constitution, it removed manuel zelaya as its President. 

But hugo chaves - this sorry excuse for a head of state and his sorry excuse for a government - is what President Obama wants to improve relations with.

Do you need me to draw your conclusions?  I won't write any more, because I assume you do not.


Ken Berwitz

Are you interested in how accurate a leading environmental, expert is on how the weather is changing?

If so, you should enjoy this excerpt from Robert Kennedy Jr's September 24, 2008 article in the Los Angeles Times:

In Virginia, the weather also has changed dramatically. Recently arrived residents in the northern suburbs, accustomed to today's anemic winters, might find it astonishing to learn that there were once ski runs on Ballantrae Hill in McLean, with a rope tow and local ski club. Snow is so scarce today that most Virginia children probably don't own a sled. But neighbors came to our home at Hickory Hill nearly every winter weekend to ride saucers and Flexible Flyers.

FYI:  Adding to an already-snowy winter, McLean VA got about 20 inches on Saturday.  It might get another foot on Wednesday.  Presumably some of that snow might even find its way onto Ballantrae Hill. 

Now:  Are you waiting for the left wing crowd to ridicule Mr. Kennedy for what he wrote?  To hit him with even a small fraction of the ridicule they tossed Sarah Palin's way for the comment that she could see Russia from her back yard (which, by the way, she never said - it was said by Tina Fey)?

Believe you me, that's going to be a long wait.


Ken Berwitz

I write a lot about Chicago politics and I write a lot about our wonderful "neutral" media taking sides - almost always on behalf of Democrats.

Here, from Ed Morrissey at, is a pretty clear example of why I do so.  The bold print is mine:

Cohen drops out of IL race; Update: Video added

posted at 9:30 am on February 8, 2010 by Ed Morrissey

Along with Scott Cohens departure from the Illinois lieutenant governor race goes the potential for months of blog posts.  Just think about it: we could have written endless stories about Cohens race, complete with quotes from the apparent myriad of legal actions against Cohen over the last few years, while Cohen ran on the slogan, They never convicted me!  Alas, it just wasnt to be:

Illinois Democratic Lieutenant Governor nominee Scott Lee Cohen announced Sunday evening that he is withdrawing from the race amid revelations about his personal history.

Cohen, a millionaire pawnbroker and cleaning supplies company executive who emerged the victor in last weeks primary, had been accused of holding a knife to the neck of his ex-girlfriend, a prostitute, in 2005.

It has also been revealed in recent days that Cohen had once been accused of abusing an ex-wife. Cohen has also acknowledged using steroids for a period of time.

Cohen announced his decision to drop out of the race this evening at a Chicago bar.

In a bar?  Well, why not?  The setting does seem somewhat appropriate for a man who apparently lacked the insight to understand that domestic-violence accusations and an arrest for putting a knife to a prostitutes neck might just be considered political baggage, even in Chicago.  Using roid rage as an excuse isnt exactly a winner, either.

There are actually two mysteries still left to explore.  What made a man with this many skeletons in the closet spend $3 million of his own money to run for statewide office?  And what made most of the media ignore these allegations until after the primaries, even after some of them arose in the Chicago Sun-Times beforehand?

In case one is tempted to see Cohens withdrawal as a victory over Chicago politics as usual, his withdrawal after the primary means that state House speaker and power broker Michael Madigan gets to hand-pick the Democratic nominee, at least according to Politico.  Maybe that blog potential hasnt entirely dissipated after all.

That last bold-print paragraph says a lot. 

In how many states could a candidate think for even a second that he could overcome such a background?  Evidently as a Democrat in Illinois, Scott Lee Cohen thought he could.  And, throughout his entire primary campaign, he was right too.  The media heat turned up only after people from Cohen's sordid past came forward - people who could easily have been found if investigative reporters were looking.

Why did most media look the other way on his behalf?  Well, we talk about that alot in here, don't we?  I have to think that media's inclination to gloss over Democratic improprieties was what gave Cohen the chutzpah to run in the first place.

Hey look what they did for that community organizer fellow who became a senator and aspired to higher office.  They couldn't find any information about the racist USA-hating church he was invested in for almost 20 years, or about that "guy I knew from the neighborhood" who, far from being a casual acquaintance, turned out to be the guy who hired him to give out $50 million dollars in Annenberg Challenge grants. 

If Illinois media could so blatantly and dishonestly cover up for Barack Obama, then why not Scott Lee Cohen?  I mean, it's not like he's a Republican, is it?

free` If Illinois media could so blatantly and dishonestly cover up for Barack Obama, then why not Scott Lee Cohen. I mean, it's not like he's a Republican, is it? --- Priceless! (02/08/10)


Ken Berwitz

Andrea Mitchell, the NBC correspondent who hates Sarah Palin so passionately and so overtly, has found another reason to attack her.  This time it is the notes she wrote on the inside of her hand, which reminded her to mention three topics when speaking to the Tea Party Convention.

Here are the particulars of this apparently super-heinous crime, from of Danny Shea

Andrea Mitchell Mocks Palin With Notes Written On Hand (VIDEO)

Huffington Post   |  Danny Shea First Posted: 02- 8-10 10:31 AM   |   Updated: 02- 8-10 10:42 AM

Andrea Mitchell mocked Sarah Palin on MSNBC's "Daily Rundown" Monday morning by appearing on-air with notes written on her hand.

Palin was caught over the weekend reading notes off her hand at the Tea Party Convention in Nashville.

Mitchell said that was "one of the most interesting things" from Palin's appearance over the weekend, and showed off the notes scribbled on the inside of her own hand.

"Daily Rundown" co-host Chuck Todd attempted to defend Palin, saying, "We've all done notes."

But Mitchell said that Palin's "cheat sheets" were damaging in that she had described Presdeint Obama as a "charismatic guy with a teleprompter."

"If Mitt Romney had notes on his hand, wouldn't we take it pretty seriously?" Mitchell asked Todd and co-host Savannah Guthrie.

"She does, sort of, get played... she has different rules," Todd stammered.

A note (not from inside my hand) to Danny Shea:  Ms. Palin wasn't "caught".  That implies she was doing something wrong.  All she did was put a reminder in her hand to cover several issues. 

And if Andrea Mitchell's hatred of Sarah Palin is so great that she equates a few scribbled words on the inside of Sarah Palin's hand with Barack Obama reading his entire speech off a teleprompter, she is beyond hope and beyond reason.

As for Chuck Todd, I do agree Ms. Palin  "has different rules".  You are allowed to say anything about Sarah Palin, no matter how vicious, personal or offensive, and it is no problem at all. 

Try doing that with Barack Obama and see what happens.  Or, better yet, see what did happen when someone had the temerity to ask that he produce his original birth certificate.  The Andreas and Chucks and Brians, Charles' and Katies of the world had a collective excrement-fit.

Yes, readers, these are the same folks who bristle every time someone calls them biased.

Zeke ... ... ... My proposed campaign slogan: "Where's the Beef" ... ... ... ... ... ... What Palin says is newsworthy, not her reminders to herself. ... ... ... Doesn't this Lame Stream Media EVER feel embarrassed ? EVER ? ... ... ... ... ... ... Why is there support for a grass roots 'Tea Party' movement ? Same reason that Congress' approval rating has been as low as 9%. -- Unbridled spending, cronyism, no answers for the nation's major problems, graft, corruption, special interest influence, ignoring the needs of the electorate. (02/08/10)

free` BREAKING NEWS: Congressman John Murtha Dies At Age 77 - ‎5 minutes ago‎ WASHINGTON, DC -- Congressman John P. Murtha died Monday at 1:18 pm at Virginia Hospital Center in Arlington, VA. Murtha, 77 (02/08/10)


Ken Berwitz

John Murtha died today at the age of 77.  The cause was complications from gall bladder surgery.

I am not going to pretend I will miss the supersedingly arrogant and corrupt Murtha.  But I certainly did not wish death on him. 

My condolences to his family.


Ken Berwitz

There was the Copenhagen plea that Chicago host the 2016 olympics.

There were the Gubernatorial elections he personally campaigned for in Virginia and New Jersey - especially New Jersey.

There was the Senate election he personally campaigned for in Massachusetts - the one no Republican could ever win.

And now we have this, via the Associated Press, datelined yesterday at 5:18PM:

WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama says the Indianapolis Colts "have to be favored" in the Super Bowl, even though he has a "soft spot" for the New Orleans Saints.

Obama's Super Bowl prediction was based on his opinion that the Colts have "perhaps the best quarterback in history."

"Peyton Manning is unbelievable," the president told CBS' Katie Couric during a live pre-game interview.

Well, when you're hot you're hot.  And when you're not, you're not.

Maybe it's that Mr. Obama is from bitterly cold, snowy Chicago...........



Ken Berwitz

Please read this account from today's London Daily Telegraph.  And be afraid.  Because it just might be where we are headed:

Christian teacher 'forced out' after complaining Muslim pupils praised 9/11 hijackers 'as heroes'

By Lucy Ballinger
Last updated at 4:33 PM on 08th February 2010


Hearing: Nicholas Kafouris today


A Christian teacher told today how he lost his job after complaining that Muslim pupils as young as eight hailed the September 11 hijackers as 'heroes'.


Nicholas Kafouris said he was forced from his 30,000-a-year post because he would not tolerate the 'racist' and 'anti-Semitic' behaviour of children.


He said the predominantly Muslim youngsters openly praised Islamic extremists in class, and hailed the terrorists of the 2001 atrocities as 'martyrs'.


Mr Kafouris, 40, told how one pupil said to him, Dont touch me, youre a Christian, when the teacher accidentally brushed against him with his arm.


Others said, We want to be Islamic bombers when we grow up', and 'the Christians and Jews are our enemies, you too because you're a Christian', he added.


Mr Kafouris, who had taught at Bigland Green Primary School, in Tower Hamlets, East London, for 12 years, said there was a change in attitude of pupils at the school - where the majority of pupils are Muslim - after the World Trade Center attacks.


According to the most recent Ofsted report 'almost all' the 465 pupils at the school are from ethnic minorities and a vast proportion do not have English as their first language.


Mr Kafouris, a Greek Cypriot, said pupils told him, 'We hate the Christians' and, 'We hate the Jews', despite his attempts to stop them.


The teacher is now suing his former school, the headteacher, and the assistant head for racial discrimination after they failed to take action about the comments made by pupils to him.


He had filled out a 'Racist Incident Reporting Sheet' but claimed the headteacher Jill Hankey dismissed his concerns.


In a statement submitted to the Central London Employment Tribunal he said: 'Miss Hankey proceeded to excuse and justify the pupil's behaviour, conduct and remarks to me as if I had no right to be offended by the child's remarks and conduct.


Amongst Miss Hankey's justifications for the child's remarks, she said: 'If the child was older, say 15, I might take it more seriously, he's only nine, he's only doing it to wind you up.'


He added: 'I felt the head's behaviour and conduct towards me amounted to direct religious discrimination against me which I considered most offensive.


I was intimidated in the way she spoke to me which indicated, Don't come back with such issues again.'

Mr Kafouris said the comments became more frequent after nothing was done by Miss Hankey after the initial incidents.


He said: 'In late November and December 2006 a number of unacceptable and blunt racist, anti-Semitic and anti-Christian remarks were being made by various children in Year 4 where I taught, such as, 'We want to be Islamic bombers when we grow up,


The twin tower bombers are heroes and martyrs, We hate the Jews, We hate the Christians, The Christians and Jews are our enemies, you too because you're a Christian - directed to me personally.


'Some children were expressing delight at the death and killing of people of other cultures and religions: In the last week of November 2006 a child was talking about stabbing another child and I told him this was dangerous talk and that a lawyer had recently been stabbed by teenagers; his reply was:, I'm glad that man died, 'Why?' I asked. Because he's a Christian and English and we're Muslim.'


During a religious education lesson about Jonah and the whale, he claims one of the pupils asked if Jonah was a Jew, before shouting: 'I hate the Jews, they're our enemies.'


Mr Kafouris said he again tried to speak to the headteacher about it.


He said: 'The head's response was hostile and offensive again. The very first thing she said to me was: Oh you again! You're the only teacher that reports these things! Nobody else does!.


'Four times she repeated: It's because of your lack of discipline that they're saying these things.'


Mr Kafouris was signed off with stress by his GP at the end of February 2007 after the assistant headteacher, Margaret Coleman, warned him not to challenge the pupils in class about their remarks.


He says the lack of support from the school has made him clinically depressed and unable to work.


His case against Tower Hamlets Borough Council, Miss Hankey, Miss Coleman and Bigland Green School opened today.


Former pupils of the school will give evidence.


The case continues and is expected to last for 11 days.

Ask yourself these questions:

-Would the headteacher's reaction have been the same if it were a primarily Christian or Jewish class expressing hatred of Muslims?

-Would there have been an outcry if Christian or Jewish schoolchildren expressed support for terrorism against Muslims?

-Can you see this happening in the USA?

-Is it already happening, or moving in that direction:  i.e. are Muslims being given considerations and latitudes that Christian and Jewish children are not?

I said at the beginning of this blog that you should read the article and be afraid.  Let me say it again now.


Ken Berwitz

One of the most interesting scenes in the movie "Working Girl" is where Harrison Ford's character insists on continuing his partneship with Melanie Griffith's character on a major deal, after it has been discovered that she is not a real "player" but an ambitious secretary trying to get ahead.  The businessman they've been negotiating with (played by the wonderful Philip Bosco) asks, with a mixture of sarcasm and incredulity, "are you trying to blow this deal"?

In the movie, thiings worked out just fine.  That's what happens in movies.

But in real life, decisions that appear to be terrible usually are terrible, and the Harrison Ford character usually damages himself and the people around him. 

I couldn't help thinking about that scene when I read the article from the Associated Press, via Fox News, which I have excerpted below:

Obama Hasn't Ruled Out NYC Trial for 9/11 Planner

President said he has not ruled out a New York federal court trial for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed.

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama said Sunday he has not ruled out a New York federal court trial for Sept. 11 planner Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, but he was taking into account the objections of the city's mayor and police commissioner.

The Obama administration has come under withering attack, mainly from Republicans, for a decision by his Justice Department to try the terrorist mastermind in a U.S. court near Ground Zero, site of the attack that destroyed New York's World Trade Center.

Obama said using the traditional judicial method was a "virtue of our system" in which Americans should take pride.

He also defended his decision, noting again that the administration of former President George W. Bush had handled terror suspects arrested in the United States in the same way.

"They prosecuted 190 folks in these Article III courts, got convictions and those folks are in maximum security prisons right now. And there have been no escapes," Obama said. "And it is a virtue of our system we should be proud of."

Later Sunday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., responded: "Based on the security, logistical and cost concerns raised by the mayor and the police commissioner, it is not feasible to have the trials in New York. The administration should realize that and move on."

In a pre-Super Bowl interview with CBS' Katie Couric, Obama also said that passing health care reform remained the key to bringing down America's skyrocketing budget deficit. He said he was calling Republican and Democratic congressional leaders to a meeting later this month to thoroughly air the issue.

"The biggest thing, the most important thing we can do on deficits ... is to get a health reform package passed," Obama said.

Obama is reaching out again to Republicans on health care reform, despite their unanimous opposition and the election of a new GOP senator who gives the party the necessary votes to block a Senate vote on the overhaul package.

He also said negotiations in Congress that gave special concessions to Democratic Sens. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska in return for their health care votes "did not help. They frustrate me."

"I would have loved nothing better than to have come up with some very elegant, academically approved approach to health care and didn't have any legislative fingerprints on it," he said. "But hey, that's the way democracy works."

The country is telling Barack Obama that it does not want khalid sheikh mohammed tried in civil court.  Even New York politicians who initially supported the decision are begging him not to do it, now that they've seen the polls. 

And as for health care, also known as "ObamaCare"?  Exactly the same situation.  This country has turned emphatically against what the President is selling them. 

But there is that Obama ego.  That immense ego.  To back off on khalid sheikh mohammed, and/or ObamaCare, is to say "I was wrong".  And this is a man who does not like being wrong. 

Look, no one likes to admit mistakes - as our wonderful "neutral" media reminded us almost daily When George Bush was President.  But it seems pretty evident that Barack Obama leaves Mr. Bush in the dust on that score.

Fortunately for Mr. Obama, he can go against the electorate's wishes now and still have three years to pick up the pieces and recoup his popularity.  But most Democrats in the house and senate only have a matter of months.  They do not have the luxury of going against voters' wishes to stoke their egos.

They look at Virginia, New Jersey and Massachusetts, and see themselves, at the end of election day, wishing their Republican opponent well and then making a concession speech instead of the other way around. 

So I picture a chorus of Democratic congresspeople, summoning up all the incredulity and sarcasm they can muster and asking President Obama "are you trying to blow the midterm elections"

But I have bad news for them:  Mr. Obama's actions regarding khalid sheikh mohammed and health care (among other issues) are giving them a pretty emphatic answer to that question.

Zeke The Stopped Clock thing (tells the right time twice a day) .... .... .... Chuck-the-Sch***mk got it right on the KSM trial. (02/08/10)

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