Tuesday, 17 August 2010

THE DEFINITION OF "USEFUL IDIOT"

Ken Berwitz

Norah O'Donnell on today's "Morning Joe" show on MSNBC (the bold print is mine):

I think this makes Democrats uncomfortable to talk about it.  But they may be, the President and Bloomberg, may be--I say may be--standing in political concrete, as Pat [Buchanan] suggests, with some independent voters who may be key in this election.

But I think there's a question about whether what Pres. Obama said and President [sic] Bloomberg said were at least the right thing to do. And when do we stop praising politicians for doing what is right just because it's not politically expedient? I thought the reason everybody's groaning all the time about our politicians is because they're such hacks and nobody stands up for what's right.  Who cares about the concrete?  Somebody's got to say that we're not going to act like the people who stole freedom from Americans, the people who attacked America and killed 3,000 people.

There you have it.  In the happy horsemanure world of Norah O'Donnell, if you oppose...

-a spectacularly huge mosque/cultural center...

- two blocks from the ground zero site...

- that is being promoted by a Feisal Abdul Rauf (who, among other things, refuses to characterize hamas as a terrorist group and appears to be backed by organizations with ties to terrorism)...

- and has been given the intentionally provocative name Cordoba house - Cordoba being the site of a major Muslim military victory over Christianity 13 centuries ago.......

...you are no different than a terrorist mass murderer.

That, folks, is what the term "useful idiot" was created for.


BOB HERBERT'S COLUMN ON AFGHANISTAN & MY COMMENT

Ken Berwitz

This morning, Bob Herbert wrote a column about the hoplessness of the war in Afghanistan.  I agreed with most of what he wrote.  But towards the end - Herbert being Herbert, he couldn't help himself I guess - he blamed it on President Bush.  His exact words:

"...the war in Afghanistan was hopelessly bungled by the Bush crowd. There is no upside to President Obamas escalation of this world-class fiasco."

I wrote a comment about that claim early this morning, probably between 8AM and 9AM.  It posted just ten minutes ago (maybe they ruminated over whether to put it up, or maybe their screening/approval procedure really takes that long.  Who knows?).

Anyway, I thought you might be interested in seeing my response.  So here it is:

I was in agreement with just about all of Bob Herbert's commentary -- until his ludicrous claim that the Bush crowd "hopelessly bungled" Afghanistan. The truth is exactly opposite of that claim.

Afghanistan is technically a country. But in reality it is four or five "cities" (the best of which would be considered an urban renewal project in most countries), and masses of desolate, inarable terrain that no government could ever control. The vast majority of Afghanistan is run by local warlords - the most brutal ones, who killed or eviscerated their rivals.

There are few places on this planet more hopeless than Afghanistan.

Under the taliban, apart from subjugating the people to the harshest, most unyielding, and often most arbitrary enslavement imaginable, Afghanistan was a welcoming refuge for osama bin laden, who used that welcome mat to establish the al qaeda training camps which gave us sleeper cells in the United States and, eventually, 9/11.

When President Bush invaded Afghanistan, the mission was to remove the taliban from power and close bin laden's training camps so that al qaeda could not freely operate there. This was accomplished in a matter of weeks, then maintained with relatively low US troop levels - and relatively low US casualties - throughout the remaining 7+ years of the Bush administration. It was an enormous, enduring success.

By contrast, it is President Obama who, ridiculously, has committed to the premise that a country with no infrastructure, no concept of western civilization, rampant religious fanatacism, rampant violence, rampant illiteracy and a hopelessly corrupt "government" which controls only a tiny portion of the land area, should be turned into a functioning democracy with a loyal standing army that will effectively defend it.

That is not going to happen. Not now, not soon, and probably not ever.

Bush was right.

Obama is wrong.

Since this has only been up for a short period of time, I don't know whether anyone will come after me for it.  But given the Times' readership and most of the comments other than mine, I would think it might get a little action.

I'll let you know. 

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

UPDATE:   It is now about 7:10PM.  And no one that I saw came back at me -- but a half dozen people (so far) have indicated they like what I wrote.  On a NY Times site. 

Will wonders never cease?

Zeke .... .... Afghanistan is a collection of antagonistic tribes who are united by a single flag. ... .... .... Even under the Soviets, the President of Afghanistan was sneeringly called "The Mayor of Kabul". .... .... Tribal loyalty and constantly changing alliances are the fabric of the country. .... .... The last foreign general to be successful in subduing Afghanistan was Alexander the Great. (08/17/10)


BOBBY THOMSON R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

Bobby Thomson, the "Staten Island Scot" and purveyor of "the shot heard 'round the world" which put the New York (baseball) Giants into the 1951 World Series, died of natural causes today at his home in Savannah, Georgia.  He was 86.

It was 1951.  On August 11, three quarters of the way through the season, the New York Giants were 13 1/2 games behind their hated crosstown rivals, the Brooklyn Dodgers.  But the Giants went nuts and won 37 of their final 44 games to tie the Dodgers, causing a three game series to determine which team would win the pennant and go on to meet the New York Yankees in the World Series. 

The teams split games one and two, setting up a do or die third game at the Polo Grounds - the Giants' home field.  In the bottom of the ninth inning, with the Dodgers leading 4-2, two men on and Dodger relief ace Ralph Branca pitching, up came Bobby Thomson.

Here is Giant announcer Russ Hodges' famous call:

There's a long drive... it's gonna be, I believe...THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT!! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! THE GIANTS WIN THE PENNANT! Bobby Thomson hits into the lower deck of the left-field stands! The Giants win the pennant and they're goin' crazy, they're goin' crazy! HEEEY-OH!!!'' [ten-second pause for crowd noise]

I don't believe it! I don't believe it! I do not believe it! Bobby Thomson... hit a line drive... into the lower deck... of the left-field stands... and this blame place is goin' crazy! The Giants! Horace Stoneham has got a winner! The Giants won it... by a score of 5 to 4... and they're pickin' Bobby Thomson up... and carryin' him off the field

Were the fans happy?  Are you kidding?  It was a combination of pandemonium and delirium on sterooids.

But as intense as their on-field rivalry was, no hard feelings were held afterwards (at least none that were seen in public). 

Ralph Branca, ever the gracious gentleman (and, no doubt, mindful of the salability of their encounter), made countless appearances with Thomson (every bit as much of a gentleman) over the years, talking about their battle - and sometimes recreating it at old-timers day games.

Branca, happy to say, is alive and well at the age of 84.  But his cohort, the man he will always be most associated with, has passed away.

Goodbye Bobby.  And thanks for the enormous piece of baseball history you were responsible for.

May you rest in peace.


A STATEMENT AGAINST THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE - BY.........

Ken Berwitz

First I'll post the statement.  Then I'll tell you who said it.

The statement:

"I can't imagine that Muslims [actually] want a mosque at this particular location, because it will become an arena for the promoters of hatred, and a monument to those who committed the crime.  Moreover, there are no practicing Muslims in the area who need a place to worship, because it is a commercial district. Is there anyone who is [really] eager [to build] this mosque?"

"I do not think that the majority of Muslims want to build a monument or a place of worship that tomorrow may become a source of pride for the terrorists and their Muslim followers, nor do they want a mosque that will become a shrine for the haters of Islam."  

The source:  Abd Al-Rahman Al-Rashed, director-general of Al-Arabiya TV.

The man has a point. 


THE "RECOVERY SUMMER" (CONT.)

Ken Berwitz

Excerpted from an Associated Press article this morning:

Homebuilder confidence dropped for the third straight month in August as the struggling economy and a flood of cheap foreclosed properties kept people from buying new homes.

The National Association of Home Builders said its monthly index of builders' sentiment about the housing market fell to 13, the lowest reading since March 2009. The index is adjusted for seasonal factors.

Readings below 50 indicate negative sentiment about the market. The last time the index was above 50 was in April 2006.

Fewer people are buying new homes, even though prices have stabilized in the past year and those who have good credit can qualify for the lowest mortgage rates in decades. The market is struggling because jobs are scarce and credit is tight. And many analysts predict home prices are likely to drop again in the fall.

"Buyers just aren't stepping up to the plate," wrote Mike Larson, real estate analyst with Weiss Research. "Unless and until the job market improves, we are simply not going to get any traction in the housing market."

Another key reading of housing activity will come Tuesday when the Commerce Department releases its report on home construction in July. Construction plunged in June to the lowest level since October.

Builders say consumers are worried about the weak recovery and job market. Among those who are buying, many are opting for deeply discounted foreclosed properties. The industry had received a boost in the spring when the federal government offered tax credits of up to $8,000. But those expired in April and the market has struggled since.

Jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.

Economy, economy, economy, economy, economy.

Nero fiddled while Rome burned.  Barack Obama gives various versions of his position (or is it non-position) on the ground zero mosque while the economy tanks.

If you're wondering why November looks so bleak for Democrats, this should give you the answer.

Unless, of course, you think that Mr. Obama can successfully blame an economy driven by his so-called "stimulus package" for the past year and a half on former President Bush -- in which case, I have no way to reason with you.

Zeke ... ... .... We have a right to Affordable Housing. ... .... Barney Frank told us so ... as did all the Dems. ... .. .... Also, the huge overhang of foreclosed homes is not as serious a drag as it might seem ... You see, people who know they are going to lose the house simply do not do any maintenance ... don't care about leaky roofs, broken windows, plumbing. So, when the house goes on the market, it is often a fixer-upper .... or a scraper (bring in a bulldozer and scrape the old house off). .... ... ... The country is living off its capital .... ... .... The administration is not spending money like drunken sailors ---- drunken sailors spend THEIR OWN Money. .... ... (08/17/10)


HALF COURT PRESS

Ken Berwitz

Is Bill Press so desperate for listeners that he has to do this stuff? 

Evidently the answer is yes.

Excerpted from Doug Powers' blog at michellemalkin.com:

Bill Press: Sometimes you have to stand up and say, this is wrong the wrong place Its a slap to the American people There are some places where cheap political tricks should not be allowed.

 

Oh wait, thats not Bill Press talking about the Ground Zero mosque the above is what Press said about Glenn Becks rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Heres what Press said about the Ground Zero mosque:

 

Let me tell you something, first of all, were not talking ground zero, were talking two blocks from ground zero, there are apartment buildings there, theres a catholic church there, a pizza parlor there. there are hotels there. There might even be a porn shop there. This is not a sacred site, this is all about religion and the opponents, theres only one reason to oppose this mosque, and that is to paint Islam as an evil religion and to paint all Muslims and equate them with a 19 terrorist whos flew into that building. it is wrong. it is un-American and the people against it ought to be ashamed of playing a cheap political trick.

 

Condemning an entire group of people for the actions of a few is wrong. Got that?

 

Okay, with that bit of wisdom in mind, lets go back to a Tea Party/Glenn Beck rally at the Lincoln Memorial. Press went a step further:

 

In a slap at both President Lincoln and Dr. King, not to mention the American people, the National Park Service has given Glenn Beck permission to hold a Tea Party rally on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28 47 years to the day after Martin Luther King gave his magnificent I Have A Dream speech If you ask me, thats like granting al Qaeda permission to hold a rally on September 11 at Ground Zero.

 

Tea Partiers are like Al Qaeda even though the only thing the Tea Party has in common with 9/11 is that its trying to prevent another one. In this case, Press is not condemning an entire group of people for the actions of a few, but rather demonizing an entire group of people for the actions of none of them.

Reading this, it is hard to believe that Bill Press is in full control of himself anymore.  But not to worry;  no one is listening.

free` Ken, I am so glad you posted that on your blog. I sent it to all of my email list yesterday. (08/17/10)


JUSTICE DELAYED, JUSTICE DENIED FOR 6 YEARS

Ken Berwitz

Excerpted from an article by Jeff Gerstein and Mike Allen at politico.com:

After almost six years of investigation, the Justice Department has decided not to bring corruption charges against former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay over his involvement with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and other ethics issues, DeLay and his attorneys said Monday.

 

I always knew this day would come. My only hope was that it would come much sooner than the six years weve been doing this, DeLay said Monday during a conference call with reporters. While I will never understand why it took so long for the Justice Department to conclude that I was innocent, I am nevertheless pleased that they have made their determination.

 

The investigation lasted through two presidents and four attorneys general. Federal prosecutors decision not to pursue the Texas Republican in court provides a stark footnote to the lobbying scandals that helped Democrats in 2006 regain the House majority they lost in the Republican revolution of 1994. That GOP sweep, during former President Bill Clintons first term, eventually made the pugnacious DeLay  nicknamed The Hammer  one of Washingtons top power brokers.

 

DeLay vigorously defended his conduct and insisted that the flurry of inquiries that drove him from office were entirely the product of his political enemies.

 

Abramoff is a friend of mine just as other lobbyists are friends of mine. We worked together professionally, the former majority leader said. He never asked me to do anything untoward, nor did I do anything untoward or unethical.

Nice.  Six years twisting in the wind.

And, just in case you think it was only DeLay, or Republicans, read these excerpts from a June 3, 2005 article by Jeff Birnbaum and Derek Willis of the Washington Post:

But Abramoff didn't work just with Republicans. He oversaw a team of two dozen lobbyists at the law firm Greenberg Traurig that included many Democrats. Moreover, the campaign contributions that Abramoff directed from the tribes went to Democratic as well as Republican legislators.

Among the biggest beneficiaries were Capitol Hill's most powerful Democrats, including Thomas A. Daschle (S.D.) and Harry M. Reid (Nev.), the top two Senate Democrats at the time, Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.), then-leader of the House Democrats, and the two lawmakers in charge of raising funds for their Democratic colleagues in both chambers, according to a Washington Post study. Reid succeeded Daschle as Democratic leader after Daschle lost his Senate seat last November.

Because of the makeup of his team and the composition of Congress, the Abramoff lobbyists channeled most of their clients' giving to GOP legislators, according to a review of public records. Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.), chairman of an Appropriations subcommittee that frequently deals with Indian matters, received the largest amount from the tribes as well as from the Greenberg Traurig lobbyists who helped direct those donations: $141,590 from 1999 to 2004, the study showed.

But Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) ran second, with $128,000 in the same period. From 1999 to 2001, Kennedy chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which solicited campaign donations for House candidates.


The Indians' largess flowed to higher-ranking Democrats as well. Senate Democratic leaders Reid and Daschle each received more than $40,000 from the tribes and from lobbyists on Abramoff's team during the period. Gephardt got $32,500.

Of the 18 largest recipients of tribe contributions directed by Abramoff's group, six, or one-third, were Democrats. These included Sen. Patty Murray (Wash.), who chaired the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee from 2001 to 2002, and Sen. Byron L. Dorgan (N.D.), a leader in Indian affairs legislation.

Funny thing, though:  None of those Democrats were charged.  None of them twisted in the wind for 6 years.

It's good to have a D next to your name......


THE GROUND ZERO MOSQUE: HAMAS & OLBERMANN SPEAK

Ken Berwitz

Excerpted from an article by S. A. Miller in yesterday's New York Post:

A leader of the Hamas terror group yesterday jumped into the emotional debate on the plan to construct a mosque near Ground Zero -- insisting Muslims "have to build" it there.

"We have to build everywhere," said Mahmoud al-Zahar, a co-founder of Hamas and the organization's chief on the Gaza Strip.

"In every area we have, [as] Muslim[s], we have to pray, and this mosque is the only site of prayer," he said on "Aaron Klein Investigative Radio" on WABC.

"We have to build the mosque, as you are allowed to build the church and Israelis are building their holy places."

Hamas, he added, "is representing the vast majority of the Arabic and Islamic world -- especially the Islamic side."

Excerpted from keith olbermann's especially vile "special comment" on the ground zero mosque last night, which I read from Brad Wilmouth's blog at newsbusters.org:

It is not mosque. A mosque, technically, is a Muslim holy place in which only worship can be conducted. What is planned for 45 Park Place, New York City, is a community center. It's supposed to include a basketball court and a culinary school. It is to be 13 stories tall, and the top two stories will be a Muslim prayer space. What a cauldron of terrorism that will be. Terrorist chefs and terrorist point guards.

Fascinating.  Countless Muslims quoted in our media know it is a mosque.  A leader of a terrorist Muslim group knows it is a mosque.

But keith olbermann knows better.  olbermann sneers out his "wisdom" that it is not a mosque at all - within the seemingly endless supply of sneering, sarcastic, bitter, angry invective that comprises this "special comment" - and just about all of the others he has, er, blessed us with. 

I'm starting to think keith olbermann is in a contest with South Carolina Senate candidate Alvin Greene (who wants to solve the state's unemployment problem by selling action figures of himself) to see who can make the most ridiculous comment of the year.   

So far they're neck and neck....

WisOldMan If folks in the New Media, such as KenBz at hopelesslypartisan, and Newsbusters, etc. were not talking about MSNBC, would anyone be mentioning the network and its' lineup of cable-shockjocks ? They're seeds of distraction from issues and dialogue, and they're irrelevant. Their lifeblood is in the hands of those forwarding their silliness. As a wise woman once said, "Just say no." (08/18/10)

Zeke ..... Olbermann and Alvin Greene ? ? ...... No comparison .... Greene has a VERY catchy campaign song .... .... .... No substance, but a great tune. ... ... ... .... Keith just rants ... ... .not worth the electricity to listen to him. .... Greene has more chance of being elected than Olbermann has of saying something sane. ... ... .... (08/17/10)


THE "GROUND ZERO MOSQUE": PRESIDENT OBAMA'S EXACT WORDS

Ken Berwitz

Since much has been said and written about President Obama's position on the so-called "ground zero mosque", I thought it would be a good idea to post his exact words - the ones he said last Friday that he then either clarified or amended (your choice) the next day.

Here they are:

"Recently, attention has been focused on the construction of mosques in certain communities - particularly in New York. Now, we must all recognize and respect the sensitivities surrounding the development of lower Manhattan. The 9/11 attacks were a deeply traumatic event for our country. The pain and suffering experienced by those who lost loved ones is unimaginable. So I understand the emotions that this issue engenders. Ground Zero is, indeed, hallowed ground.

"But let me be clear: as a citizen, and as President, I believe that Muslims have the same right to practice their religion as anyone else in this country. That includes the right to build a place of worship and a community center on private property in lower Manhattan, in accordance with local laws and ordinances. This is America, and our commitment to religious freedom must be unshakable. The principle that people of all faiths are welcome in this country, and will not be treated differently by their government, is essential to who we are. The writ of our Founders must endure."

Did Mr. Obama endorse the specific "ground zero mosque" or was he making a general statement about religious freedom?

The answer, to me anyway, is that while technically he did not endorse the specific ground zero mosque, he made it 100% clear that it was the specific mosque he was talking about.   In my opinion, no reasonable person could have heard that and concluded anything else.  All the day-after wordsmithing in the world won't change that.

Obama's clear statement, then subsequent bait-and-switch attempt, reminds me of John Kerry, who on the senate floor, March 18th 1986 (the day after St. Patrick's Day), said:

''For those of us who are fortunate to share an Irish ancestry, we take great pride in the contributions that Irish-Americans "

 Did Kerry specifically say he was Irish - which certainly had political value in Massachusetts, with its large Irish population?  Nope.  But did he intentionally say it in a way that would make a reasonable person conclude he was Irish?  You bet.

 

FYI, John Kerry has not a drop of Irish blood.  His paternal grandparents were Freidrich Kohn and the former Ida Loewe - both eastern European Jews.  "Fritz" Kohn, who grew up in Austria, converted to Roman Catholicism, as did Ida, and anglicized his name to the Irish-sounding Kerry.

 

As you can see, Mr. Kerry and Mr. Obama have something in common:  their willingness to make a plain, simple, easily understandable statement, and then deny what they plainly, simply, understandably said at a future date. 

 

In Kerry's case, the denial came after he was busted on his ancestry.  In Obama's case it came one day after the political firestorm his original comment caused.

 

Two birds of a feather.


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