Sunday, 05 December 2010


Ken Berwitz

Ruben Navarette is a syndicated columnist who writes for the San Diego Union Tribune.  I find him one of the most troubling columnists in the country - because sometimes I agree completely with him and sometimes I disagree completely.  Offhand I can't think of any other columnist who evokes anywhere near the bipolar reaction I have to Mr. Navarette.

His latest column, which discusses Republicans and the Latino vote, has plenty on both sides of the ledger.

Here are some key excerpts.  I have put the passages I agree with most in bold print:

GOP Cant Afford to Alienate Hispanics


Republicans are making life easy for Democrats who dont deserve to have the level of support they have with Latino voters.


December 5, 2010 - by Ruben Navarrette Jr.


Republicans can be so shortsighted. They really dont seem to understand the harm theyre doing to themselves, their party, and their future electability when they anger and alienate Hispanics one of the fastest-growing parts of the electorate by making dumb moves on immigration.


The latest dumb move: House Speaker John Boehner seems poised to appoint a pair of extremist and enforcement-only lawmakers Rep. Steve King, R-IA, and Rep. Lamar Smith, R-TX to key positions with direct oversight of the immigration issue. Theyre the more basic models that naively believe the only reason we have illegal immigrants in this country is because we lack the will to deport more of them.


The leaders of Somos Republicans, which calls itself the largest and fastest growing Hispanic Republican organization in the country, recently sent Boehner a letter asking him to reconsider the appointments.


Of particular concern to the group is the fact that King and Smith have both declared their support for gutting the 14th Amendment to eliminate birthright citizenship for the U.S.-born children of illegal immigrants. So much for conservatives pretending to be strict constructionists. Going after kids is a suicide mission that will bring Latinos out of the woodwork to vote against Republicans for the next fifty years.


When Republicans pull stunts like this, they cut their throats with a constituency that would normally be a natural-fit for the Republican Party because it is conservative on social issues. Theyre also playing with fire demographically since Latinos already account for nearly 20 percent of the U.S. population, and theyre on track to account for a third by 2030. And theyre making life easy for Democrats who dont deserve to have the level of support they have with Latino voters.


In recent years, Democrats have thwarted education reform that would have helped Latino children, killed immigration reform that would have provided a pathway to earned legal status for Latino immigrants, undermined trade deals that would have benefited Latinos, and stood in the way of meaningful reform of the Social Security system that would ease the tax burden on young Latino professionals.


Latinos should be ripe for the poaching,


They insist theyre only anti-illegal immigrant but they become anti-immigrant soon enough.  Once people have been exposed as anti-foreigner, its just a small leap until they reveal themselves as anti-Latino.


And thats a good repellent. So for the sake of scaring up a few votes from the right-wing base, Republicans foolishly scare off a group of voters that they cant afford to alienate.


Conservatives dont have to abandon their principles, turn themselves inside out, and adopt an open border philosophy all for the sake of pandering to Latinos. That isnt necessary, and it wouldnt be wise. They just need to mind their manners and control their rhetoric.

See, this is why I have so much trouble with Mr. Navarette.  On the one hand, he points out - correctly in my opinion - that Latinos are, by and large, social conservatives whose cultures fit well within the Republican Party.  But then he loses me by concluding that, to win those votes, Republicans have to mimic leftward Democrats on the issue of illegal immigration.

I don't know if Ruben Navarette reads this blog.  But if he does, I'd love answers to these questions:

-If taking a hard line stance on illegal immigration is so disastrous for Republican prospects in the Latino communities, how come exit polls show that 38% of Latinos voted Republican last month - compared to 30% just two years ago?  That looks like a pretty strong showing to me.

-Are you really so sure about how many Latinos - Mexican and other nationalities - who got here the legal way are supportive of greasing the skids for illegals?   I know I'm not.

-I assume we agree that, while many Latino illegals are here for no reason other that to work hard and send money back to their families, others are here to work the social system, and/or to get free hospital care they can't get in their country of origin.  Isn't it reasonable to assume that legal residents of Latino heritage find this embarrassing?

-I also assume we agree that some illegals are here to deal drugs and/or to engage in other illicit activities.  Where do you think they hang out?  In rich White suburbs?  We both know that they cluster in Latino neighborhoods, which makes those neighborhoods dangerous for the legals.  Isn't it likely that a lot of those legals wish they weren't here?

-I'm terribly troubled that you project being against illegal Latino immigration to being against all Latino immigration.  How do you know that?  What's your basis for saying it?  Suppose I said that Latinos might come to this country looking for work, but once they're exposed to Latinos who are here to be sponges, it's just a small leap until they reveal themselves as sponges too.  Wouldn't that comment outrage you (as it should)?  Then why are you making the exact same comment about people who oppose illegal immigration?

The "14th amendment illegals" (i.e. children born in the USA to illegals who know no other country) is a genuinely thorny problem.  I don't have any clever answers to that one.  And if Mr. Navarette and I ever talk I'd love to discuss it with him.

But what about the questions I just posted?  If Ruben Navarette, or anyone else, has any suggestions, use the "comments" option and let's see them.


Ken Berwitz

The New York Daily News and the New York Post compete for tabloid readers in (whee else?) New York City.  I thought you might be interested to see how each handled the aftermath of charles rangel's censure:

From Tina Moore of the Daily News:

Charles Rangel receives standing ovation in Harlem, says he's glad to have censure behind him

U.S. Rep. Charles Rangel was greeted with a standing ovation Saturday at a town hall meeting in Harlem two days after he was censured by by the House.

"I am very pleased this is behind me," Rangel, who looked dapper in a dark suit and tie, told cheering supporters after a two-year ethics probe.

Insisting that his colleagues were bowing to political pressure, Rangel remained defiant and confident, saying he was "not guilty of corruption or self-enrichment."

Rangel, the dean of New York's congressional delegation, vowed to put the matter behind him and get back to work.

"This weekend will be the last time that I refer to this matter in any way," Rangel said.

Rangel admitted that he was guilty only of being "overzealous in soliciting funds" and of sloppy bookkeeping.

The House cited him for failing to pay taxes on a vacation villa, filing misleading disclosure forms and improperly soliciting funds for a college from companies with business in front of his committee.

"I didn't go to bed with any kids. I didn't curse out the speaker. I didn't start a revolution against the United States of America," said Rangel. "I did not self deal. I did not take any money."

As Rangel walked into Harlem Hospital's Herbert Cave Auditorium, a woman hugged him, saying: "It's over now. It's over."

From Isabel Vincent and Melissa Klein of the New York Post:

Rangel in deeper with new ethics charge

The Federal Election Commission is investigating a complaint that Rep. Charles Rangel improperly used his National Leadership PAC to fund his legal defense on ethics charges for which he was censured Thursday, The Post has learned.

The FEC is acting on a complaint by the National Legal and Policy Center filed after The Post reported last month that Rangel paid nearly $400,000 from his PAC.

Lawmakers are only allowed to use money in their individual campaign funds for legal fees, or they can set up legal defense funds for such costs.

Rangel appeared before the House Ethics Committee last month saying he could no longer afford legal counsel after already burning through $2 million.

The center expects to file a second complaint this week contending that Rangel's PAC money included at least $195,000 in donations from lobbyists with business before the House Ways & Means Committee, of which he is a member.

Yesterday, the Harlem pol said he's ready to put the incident behind him.

"In all fairness, I was not found guilty of corruption, I did not go to bed with kids, I did not hurt the House speaker, I did not start a revolution against the United States of America, I did not steal any money, I did not take any bribes, and that is abundantly clear," he said.


Is it just me or do these stories take different directions?  Let's see: 

-In the Daily News story, rangel got a hero's welcome, made it clear that he didn't do anything terribly wrong, and assured his adoring fans he was putting the censure behind him and no longer will be referring to it in any way;

-In the Post story, rangel is being investigated for further impropriety - a little matter of PAC money he may have used illegally, to defend himself against the ethics charges.  If there is such an investigation , you obviously can forget that "no longer will be referring to it in any way" comment.

Maybe the best thing for rangel - who, in addition to the 11 charges he was found guilty of,  previously disgraced himself with his involvement in the HUDC (Harlem Urban Development Corporation) and the Apollo Theater Foundation - would be to just resign.  Then he could spend the rest of his days being celebrated by adoring constituents (who ignored his ethics by giving him about 80% of the vote last month) and whining about how badly he was mistreated.

If the last few months have shown us anything about charles rangel, it is that he whines with the best of them.


Ken Berwitz

Liz Peek of Fox News thinks there's a lot of Jimmy Carter in Barack Obama.  Is she right?

Well, read the following excerpts from her latest article and decide for yourself:

The Obama administration appears inert. Though pledging to forestall any future releases after the devastating leaks of military records last month, President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder have responded to the recent publishing of hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables by..what exactly? 

Apparently, people can divulge classified information from our government agencies with impunity.

Americans are understandably angry. Not only are the leaks seriously compromising our military and diplomatic missions, they are embarrassing. They show the U.S. to be powerless; we feel humiliated. 

The American people are proud proud of our country and our accomplishments. We dont do humiliated well.

The last president to learn that lesson was Jimmy Carter. Jimmy Carter was that rare bird -- a one-term president mainly because he made the United States look weak on the world stage. 

He cozied up to North Korea,  

He was mocked by Russia,

Where his love your enemies program really came unglued, of course, was in Iran. After lecturing the Shah a long-time ally of the U.S. on human rights and pressing him to release thousands of dangerous dissidents, he allowed the takeover of Iran by Islamic extremists, who promptly took our embassy staff hostage.

Is any of this sounding familiar? It should. Like Carter, President Obama arrived in Washington naively convinced that he could woo the despots of the world by dint of his winning personality. In North Korea, in Iran, we continue to pander to tyrants who delight in embarrassing us.

The parallels are eerie. Trying to appease environmentalists and in response to the Three Mile Island accident, Carter banned the transmutation (processing) of nuclear fuel procedures that have safely taken place in Europe for thirty years - in effect shutting down our nuclear energy program and increasing our dependence on oil imports. (President Reagan lifted the ban in 1981.) 

Just this week the Obama administration, also to curry favor with eco-warriors and in response to the Deepwater Horizon spill this past spring, shut down offshore drilling in several promising (and politically crucial) regions. The billions of barrels potentially available from within our own country will have to wait til the next president, or the next oil crisis.

And there will be a next oil crisis. Both Carter and Obama have pressed for a more even-handed approach to Middle East peace. Carter has famously backed Palestinian demands while Obama presses friendship with the Muslim community. So far, his overtures have resulted in disappointment and frustration in the Arab world and a dangerous chill in our relations with Israel. A more belligerent Iran could well read this fissure as opportune; nothing would better secure the power of Irans rulers than a confrontation with Israel.

Their personalities overlap, too; for instance, both men are quick to blame others for their shortcomings. 

Carter has famously held the late Ted Kennedy responsible for his inability to pass health care legislation; Obama blames George W. Bush for, well, everything. 

Both Carter and Obama have been criticized for talking down to Americans; both tend to lecture, instead of lead. 

Ironically, former President Jimmy Carter dropped by the White House on Wednesday. He must have felt entirely at home. The nation is reeling from self-inflicted embarrassments that have Americans feeling impotent and humiliated just like the good old days when he lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Oh and here's one more parallel: Presidents Carter and Obama simply hate Fox News.

Those are pretty strong words.  But does Ms. Peek have a point?  A very persuasive one?

You tell me.


Ken Berwitz

Excerpted from an article in today's New York Post:

WikiLeaks will release encrypted 'doomsday file' if site blocked

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has circulated across the internet an encrypted poison pill cache of uncensored documents suspected to include files on BP and Guantanamo Bay.

One of the files identified this weekend by The (London) Sunday Times called the insurance file -- has been downloaded from the WikiLeaks website by tens of thousands of supporters, from America to Australia.

Assange warns that any government that tries to curtail his activities risks triggering a new deluge of state and commercial secrets.

The military papers on Guantanamo Bay, yet to be published, believed to have been supplied by Bradley Manning, who was arrested in May. Other documents that Assange is confirmed to possess include an aerial video of a US airstrike in Afghanistan that killed civilians, BP files and Bank of America documents.

One of the key files available for download -- named insurance.aes256 -- appears to be encrypted with a 256-digit key. Experts said last week it was virtually unbreakable.

Assange has warned he can divulge the classified documents in the insurance file and similar backups if he is detained or the WikiLeaks website is permanently removed from the internet. He has suggested the contents are unredacted, posing a possible security risk for coalition partners around the world.

Ironically, assange has left no alternative but for a government - preferably ours - to immediately arrest him.  Here's why: 

julian assange is blackmailing us.  He threatens that, if arrested, he will make the files public.  This might us cause problems - maybe major problems. 

But if he really has sent these files to "tens of thousands" of others, it is a dead certainty that they will become public anyway, with or without him.  So where is our downside?  And where is his leverage?

Put another way, assange may be a computer whiz, but he has the strategic sense - and common sense - of a below average pre-teen.

Besides, if assange is not arrested, his blackmail threat will be sitting over us every minute of every day.  And who knows what this megalomaniacal sack of manure's next demands will be?

One other thing:  since assange apparently has a talent for acquiring classified documents, is there any doubt that, if left free, he will come into possession of even more such material to hold over us?

The United States does not have a national religion.  Do we really want this sorry excuse for a man to be in the position of acting like our God?

Arrest assange.  Immediately.  Then try him.  Take all the time you need to build the case against him.  Be meticulous.  If necessary, let the legal process drag on for years.  Then, if he is as guilty as he proudly brags that he is, lock him up for good;  throw the key away.

I recommend putting him in solitary confinement with nothing but a toilet (no toilet paper) and an Apple 2e to amuse himself with.


Ken Berwitz

Newsweek is a once-proud news weekly which has gone so far down the tubes that it was purchased for $1 this year (for real, no joke), is now plumbing the low end of desperation.

Daniel Gavron, a once-proud Zionist who emigrated to Israel in the mid-50's, served in its army and supported its goals, has devolved into a 75 year old Neville Chamberlain wannabe who is now promoting appeasement with Israel's sworn enemies;  the ones who want its Jews either gone or dead (preferably dead).

Now there's a combination made in Desperation Heaven.

The latest issue of Newsweek features an article by Gavron in which he proclaims that "Palestinians" are the real Zionists.  This is a roughly equivalent to when KKKers, with their hatred, intolerance and taste for lynchings rather than the legal process, proclaim themselves to be the "real Americans". 

Here is the beginning of Gavron's article:

Are the Palestinians the last Zionists? It would seem so. The situation of Israel has become surreal. Just as we Israelis are making a stupendous effort to ensure the dissolution of the Jewish state, envisioned by Theodor Herzl in 1896, by hanging onto the occupied territories, the Palestinians, led by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, are working to ensure the survival of the Zionist enterprise by striving to establish a Palestinian ministate in the West Bank and Gaza.


Let us be very clear on just what is happening here: the Palestinians are doing their best to establish a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza on a mere 22 percent of British Mandate for Palestine, which would afford us Zionist Jews a predominantly Jewish state on the remaining 78 percent. This is surely more than we could ever have envisaged when we set out to create a Jewish state and guarantees the survival of the state of Israel. Against this, we Israelis are fighting to keep the West Bank, which will soon result in an Arab majority and the end of a Jewish majority state.


Moreover, the Palestinians are supported by the Arab and Muslim nations, who are offering, via the Arab initiative, normal relations with the Jewish state. They are even prepared to accept our settlement folly by means of land swaps, which will leave a majority of the Israeli Jews who settled illegally in the West Bank during the past four decades inside the state of Israel. 

Reading just those three paragraphs is like looking at a "how many things can you find wrong with this picture" puzzle.  Let me show you why:

-The "Palestinians" are not Zionists.  Not in a literal sense and not in a figurative sense.  That is perfectly ridiculous.

-The claim that Israel is trying to dissolve itself is just as ridiculous.  And, having already handed Palestinian Arabs 100% of Gaza and a vast majority of Judea and Samaria (the west bank), the claim that it is "hanging onto the occupied territories" is flat-out idiotic.

-The claim that the abbas and fayyad are trying to ensure the survival of Israel as a Zionist state is idiotic even by an idiot's standards.  Illustratively, try and find a school textbook in the "Palestinian" territories that shows any part of Israel even exists - including the part where Gavron hallucinates that "Palestinians" will allow Jews to live in peace.  There are none.  But, in Gavron's blinded eyes, a the same culture that teaches Israel's complete illegitimacy to its children - and glorifies "shahids" (martyrs) who kill themselves to kill Israeli civilians - is going to make good on a promise of peaceful coexistence with the Jewish state of Israel.   You would have to be brain dead to believe it. 

One other thing:  let's not forget that abbas and fayyad "rule" the west bank only because hamas, which violently removed the PA in Gaza, has allowed them to.  If/when hamas decides to finish the job, how will these two stop it from happening?

-Then we have the claim that Israel holds 78% of the British mandate for Palestine, and "Palestinians" hold 22% -- which is so far from reality it isn't even in the same solar system.

...The British mandate originally was to have implemented the Balfour Declaration of 1917, which proposed that ALL of Palestine be given to the Jews for Israel, no mention of any other use for the land.  But, under pressure from Arabs - especially Hashemite factions - it instead handed 78% of that territory to Abdullah, Faisal's brother, and called it Transjordan (in 1946 this became the country of Jordan). 

Then, when Israel was created as a secular country in the UN, the remaining 22% was partitioned into areas for Palestinian Arabs and Jews (i.e. Palestinian Arabs were gaining land above and beyond the 78% which already had been taken to create Jordan).  So, in reality, Israel started with something like 12% of what originally was to have been its land area.

It is true that Israel's size increased when Arabs refused the partition, went to war with Israel instead, and lost the war.  But that was their decision, not Israel's. 

Ironically, if Palestinian Arabs had joined Israel in accepting the partition, not only would there have been a sovereign state of Palestine for the last 62 years, but it would have been bigger than Gaza and the entire west bank - a little something Mr. Gavron doesn't mention.

-I find it especially galling that Gavron uses the same 78%/22% percentages to describe where "Palestinians" are supposed to be creating a state.  Since, after 40 years of "negotiations" there is no finality regarding what the borders would be, those numbers were picked entirely at Gavron's discretion.  That looks pretty purposeful to me.  Like a thumb in the eye.

-I also find it galling for Gavron to ignore the fact that Palestinian Arabs already have a state, called Jordan.  Jordan is 100% within the land area of Palestine, and a majority of its population is comprised of Palestinians.  What the hell is it but a Palestinian State?  I guess if you live in a delusionary dream world, that somehow doesn't count.

-The third paragraph deals with promises made to Israeli Jews by Arab nations and "Palestinians".  I won't bother dissecting it because "Palestinians" have ignored every promise they ever made to Israel, thus there is no reason to believe them.  And Arab nations, even if they were sincere (a huge "if" to say the least), would not step in to stop their fellow Arabs from taking Israel from Jews.

To read this ludicrous piece which, it seems to me, was published only to generate outrage (and therefore provide a quick-fix jump in sales), is to understand why, when Newsweek was sold for $1, I wrote that the price was too steep.

Hey, I have a great idea for Mr. Gavron.  Since he emigrated to Israel as a Zionist, and now proclaims that Palestinian Arabs are the Zionists, why doesn't he pick up, along with his family, and move to the Arab west bank.  I'm sure they'd love him there - seriously, they would.  What a great propaganda coup for the "Palestinians".

But, tell you what:  Don't bet on those moving vans showing up at the Gavron homestead any time soon.

Gee, I wonder why.....

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