Wednesday, 08 December 2010


Ken Berwitz

Suppose you became aware that a disproportionate amount of crime was committed by men wearing red hats:

-Would you be worried about men wearing red hats? 

-Would you be concerned if you saw a man wearing a red hat walking toward you? 

-If you worked in a convenience store, would you keep an eye on a man with a red hat who came into the store?

-If you were a cabbie, would you think twice before picking up a man wearing a red hat?

If the answer to one or more of those questions is "yes", would you give a damn if someone accused you of being prejudiced for your increased concern?  Or would you answer by saying something like "I know not all men who wear red hats are violent criminals.  But since the probability is much higher than for other people, common sense tells me to worry more about them"?

With this in mind, I would like to show you part of an interview that conducted with Fernando Mateo, a Dark-skinned, Latino man who happens to be President of  the New York State Federation of Taxi Drivers and President of Hispanics Across America. 

I think you will find's questions very worthwhile, and what Mr. Mateo has to say very illuminating:

theGrio: What are you advising cab drivers do in order to protect themselves from situations like Saturday's shooting of cab driver Trevor Bell?


Fernando Mateo: I'm asking them to racially profile the criminal element that is in our community robbing us, assaulting us, and killing us. I am asking Hispanic and black livery cab drivers that serve our outer boroughs to watch out for those that are wearing "hoodies," that are hiding their bodies in order to rob them and shoot them and go kill them. I'm saying we need to be able to see who we're picking up. I'm telling them not to pick up those that look and fit the profile of someone who is going to rob them, and usually when you're going to rob a cabbie, they try to hide their features so the driver can't identify them.


So, you're not advising that cab drivers pick up people solely on race, but that they should be more aware of the people they pick up, and the neighborhoods they frequent to pick up people?


We transport over a million Hispanic and black hard-working men and women every single day. They are not our problem. Our problem is the criminals that live amongst us, that look like us, that speak our language, their sole purpose in life is to commit crime. I am tired of going to funerals, I'm tired of going to hospitals, I'm tired of seeing the pain and the suffering of families that are destroyed by these criminal elements, by these criminals, so the criminals that we are talking about are Hispanics and blacks, so in essence, I'm speaking the truth, I'm laying it out there.


I want people to know that it's our own people that are committing these crimes against us that are destroying our families and our communities. I'm not talking about the millions of people we transport every day, people of color. I'm talking about the criminal element that prey on our fathers, our mothers, that prey on our community.


Over the weekend, you made a remark that shocked some people. What were you advocating? How should your remarks have been received?


They should've taken it as understanding that we Hispanics and blacks have a huge problem, and that problem is our own people, and until we acknowledge that and we understand that, we are not going to do anything to change it. So, what I'm saying is, look at who you're picking up, and if you can't have a clear description of who they are, don't pick them up. And you know what, I can only speak of Hispanics and blacks robbing us and killing us, because that's what the statistics tell us, so I can only tell it to Hispanics and blacks, so this is not a discrimination issue, because, you know what, I am telling it to the same people that are being affected.


Do you have those statistics?

NYPD has them. All I know is that every time they kill or they rob someone, the figures that we get are of a black man or a Hispanic man.


Do you or your family or your friends have a tough time catching a cab?

We don't fit that description. Like a million Hispanics and blacks that we service every day, they don't fit that description either.


What would you do if a cab didn't stop to pick you up? What would you do?

What could I do? I can't blame them if they feel like I'm a threat to them. You know, it's like when I went into an elevator, a white woman clutched her pocketbook, and she looked at me like wow, are you going to rob me? And I said, ma'am, don't worry, it's okay. I didn't get upset at her, I understood why she was concerned.


As the president of Hispanics Across America, have you received any backlash from Hispanics in the New York community?

I'm not looking to be politically correct. This is not a popularity contest, this is just trying to save lives. And if they disagree with me, all they need to do is speak to some of the widows who lost their parents, who lost their mom or dad to a robbery in a cab. All they need to do is look at or go to those who have been affected by these thugs, by this criminal element.

There, folks, is an honest, concerned man.  A man who cares deeply about minorities - enough to not play lets-pretend about the crime that is visited upon them by members of their own ethnic communities.


Think again about the example of men in red hats.  This is not an issue of racism, it is an issue of probabilities;  probabilities which make hard-working Black/Latino livery cabbies especially endangered targets.


Mr. Mateo is not suggesting that livery cabbies should bypass Blacks and Latinos - they would be out of business if they did.  He is suggesting that they profile potential passengers and bypass the ones that look and/or act most like they might be dangerous


Just like airport security should be doing.  And for exactly the same reason.


I congratulate Fernando Mateo for speaking out so bluntly and honestly.  I hope his common sense protects the minority cabbies he represents, and saves lives.


Ken Berwitz

Excerpted from Scott Whitlock's blog at

Congress is debating a liberal immigration plan, the so-called "DREAM Act," that would amount to amnesty for possibly one million illegal immigrants, and cost taxpayers up to $6 billion in higher education subsidies. Yet over the last five weeks, the three major networks have offered almost no coverage of the DREAM Act, which may be up for a vote as early as today.

In contrast, when Arizona was considering stricter enforcement of illegal immigration, the networks "aired a whopping 120 stories in a little over three months, with an almost ten-to-one tilt against the Arizona law (77 negative, 35 neutral, 8 positive)." For more, see the MRC's July 28, 2010 Media Reality Check.

Media bias?   Naaaaahhhh. 

Why would anyone think that?


Ken Berwitz

Berkeley, California has a city council that seems to serve one function:  Proving that it is an anti-USA outpost within the country.

Maybe this bunch really believes the BS they pump out.  And maybe they just fear that, given UC-Berkeley's wildly leftward tilt, they'd be voted out of office if they acted any differently. 

Personally, I don't care which it is.  Either way they make me sick.

Here is their latest proof that, if it is anti-USA, it is wonderful in Berkeley.  From an article in today's San Francisco Chronicle:

An Army private jailed for allegedly leaking sensitive military data is a hero and should be freed, according to a resolution under consideration by the Berkeley City Council.


The council is expected to vote Tuesday on whether to declare its support for Pfc. Bradley Manning, who's suspected of providing WikiLeaks with classified military documents and a video depicting an Army helicopter attack in Baghdad in which 11 civilians were killed.


Manning, 22, currently in the brig in Quantico, Va., faces 52 years in prison if convicted. Manning has not commented on his guilt or innocence.


"If he did what he's accused of doing, he's a patriot and should get a medal," said Bob Meola, the Berkeley peace and justice commissioner who authored the resolution. "I think the war criminals should be the ones prosecuted, not the whistle-blowers."


The proposed resolution originated from the same commission that declared the Marine Corps "unwanted intruders" in Berkeley in 2008. The council's ensuing approval - and reversal - ignited some of the city's most raucous protest in years and prompted more than 25,000 e-mails to City Hall.


This time, however, the commission's vote was not unanimous. The resolution passed on a 7-3 vote, and it's likely to be just as contentious when it meets the City Council.


Commissioner Thyme Siegel was one of the three "no" votes.


"We're just sitting here in Berkeley - we don't know that Afghani informants aren't being murdered because of these leaks," she said. "Bradley Manning sounds like a very sincere person, but I'm sorry, we really do have enemies, and it's not clear at all what the effects of these WikiLeaks are."

I'll say this:  At least three of the ten council members show they still have functioning cerebrums -- this one time, anyway.  Let's see if they last through the next election.

What a great place Berkeley must be to people who hate the USA!  And what a joke - a very bad joke - it is to most everyone else.  

Michael Haltman Hi: I had actually done a debate against Medea Benjamin the co-founder of CodePink this past week on Manning-Berlekley. The whole thing is unbelievable. This is the link to the debate. Keep up the great work. Mike Haltman The Political Commentator (12/12/10)


Ken Berwitz

In the wonderful movie "Miracle on 34th Street" (the 1947 version starring Edmund Gwenn, not the pale imitation of a revival by Richard Attenborough),  Macy's Santa Claus, who claims to be the real Kris Kringle is almost obliterated by a mean-spirited low level jerk named Granville Sawyer (played by Porter Hall who, in real life, was a very well liked man).

Well, in the intervening 63 years, Macy's seems to have learned nothing.

Read this real-life story excerpted from the San Francisco Chronicle, and see for yourself:

Santa Claus has been canned from Macy's, and he's anything but jolly about it.

His fans aren't happy, either. And there are many.


John Toomey, known for 20 years at the Union Square Macy's in San Francisco as "Santa John," was told Saturday he'll have to take his "ho, ho, hos" elsewhere because an adult couple complained about a joke he cracked.


The joke has been in his Santa bag for decades. But after thousands of tellings, the 68-year-old retired caretaker for the elderly finally hit the wrong recipients - apparently an older woman and her husband, who considered it inappropriate.


Toomey - who stays in Oroville most summers and winters in San Francisco while he does the kiddie-on-the-knee gig - said he'd never had complaints before about the joke, which he saves for the occasional grown-up who visits him.


"When I ask the older people who sit on my lap if they've been good and they say, 'Yes,' I say, 'Gee, that's too bad,' " Toomey said Monday.


"Then, if they ask why Santa is so jolly, I joke that it's because I know where all the naughty boys and girls live."

The kids who sit on his lap, he said, get only his trademark laugh and questions about what toys they want.


Macy's spokeswoman Betsy Nelson said the store cannot comment because the matter involves personnel.

But several workers used words including "devastated" and "overreaction" to describe their take on Santa John being booted from his throne at Santaland on the seventh floor. They all asked not be named because store policy forbids them from speaking publicly about such matters, but their un-yule-ish gloom was palpable.


"People make a pilgrimage to see him every year, some for as long as 15 years," said one worker. "Everyone loves him. Everybody's just heartsick about this."

Macy's fired a long-time, beloved "Santa" for THAT?

Did anyone there think of asking Mr. Toomey to stop telling the joke?  Is it just barely possible that this could have resolved the issue in about three seconds flat?

In the movie, Fred Gailey (John Payne), Doris Walker (Maureen O'Hara) and her daughter Susan (Natalie Wood), made it their mission to see that Mr. Kringle was reinstated.  Where are they when we need them now?

I hope the people at Macy's come to their senses.  Don't you?


UPDATE:  About the people at Macy's coming to their senses?  Too late!  Mr. Toomey has landed a Santa job at Lefty O'Doul's, the venerable old watering hole named after the failed pitcher, turned great hitter, turned long-time manager of the minor league San Francisco Seals (which eventually gave way to the major league Giants).

Good for Mr. Toomey.  And tough luck for Macy's which now looks even worse than it did in the first place.


Ken Berwitz

It is true that print media are in big trouble because of the internet.  But some print media are doing fine - which suggests that if a quality print venue still can survive, even prosper.

So why is Time Magazine dying? 

Maybe the mindset of its editor, Richard Stengel, will give us a clue.  

Excerpted from Brent Bozell's latest column at

Time magazine editor Richard Stengel...told Charlie Rose on PBS that Assange is an "idealist" that "sees the U.S. since 1945 as being a source of harm throughout the planet," but he's not really opposed to him. He put Assange on the cover of Time with an American flag gagging his mouth and feigned a position of balance. In his "To Our Readers" letter, Stengel conceded Assange is out to "harm American national security," but there is a public good unfolding, in that "the right of news organizations to publish those documents has historically been protected by the First Amendment." Our founding fathers, Stengel huffed, understood that "letting the government rather than the press choose what to publish was a very bad idea in a democracy." He tapped the reader on the chest: "I trust you agree."

Americans the world over could die because of these intelligence betrayals. But hip, hip, hooray for the freedom of speech that got them killed?

Some might ask, on the people's behalf: In our democracy, whom do you trust to defend you from another terrorist attack? Time magazine? The New York Times? Who elected them to act as our guardians against terrorist violence and mayhem?

Time hailed Assange, Australia's "information anarchist," with the headline "The Wizard from Oz." (No question mark.) There's even buzz that they're considering Assange as their 2010 "Person of the Year." For their cover story, Stengel interviewed Assange over the Internet and provided a welcoming American forum for his boasts.

Stengel asked about the "unintended consequences" of Assange's massive leaks, causing the U.S. to "make secrets more impenetrable." But apparently, this is an intended consequence. Assange shot back that a government clampdown on secrets is "very positive," since government can either be "efficient, open and honest" or "closed, conspiratorial and inefficient." His goal is not to make the U.S. better; it is to harm this country.

Stengel can hear all this talk of a vast and evil American conspiracy, and the plot to make it "inefficient" in responding to enemies, and still can tell Charlie Rose that this whole scandalous mountain of leaks is really our own fault. "We make Julian Assange possible because we're hiding things that shouldn't necessarily be hidden. And we're using technology that's penetrable. And so, in effect, we were creating him by our own policies."

So if our intelligence is penetrable, it's our fault. If it's impenetrable, we're inefficient.

In other words, Time still can't find its way out of a paper bag to identify our evil enemies, so fixated is it on us being the enemy. 

Time has, for many years, positioned itself as a liberal-left news venue, but one in which, the conservative/right side also managed to get somewhat of a hearing.  For a long while that worked quite well.

But, as suggested by the above excerpt (far from the only example of why Stengel should not edit news), it appears to have gone so far left - during an era when terrorist attacks and/or economic collapse has gone from philosophical discussion to genuine issues - that many formerly loyal subscribers have concluded the magazine just isn't worth reading anymore. 

People who want varying degrees of left wing nutcakery, certainly don't need Time.  MSNBC provides more of it every day than Time can stuff into a weekly issue.  To varying degrees, so do CNN and the network morning shows. 

And people who want reasoned discussion of issues in which both sides get a fair shake?  That's lets today's Time Magazine out too.  So what's left?

If Time wants to survive - and not to be sold for $1 like Newsweek was earlier this year - maybe it should think about changing accordingly. 

Here's an idea:  Maybe it can try becoming a real newsmagazine again.


Ken Berwitz

Minnesota has done it again.

Years ago, the state elected a human cartoon, professional wrestler Jesse Ventura, as its governor -- and became a national laughingstock for it. 

Now Minnesota has elected Mark Dayton, a mentally disturbed, alcoholic, former senator who, as the fabulously rich heir to a department store fortune, needs psychiatric help a lot more than he needs a job.  The Pioneer Press (among others) is reporting that Republican Tom Emmers is going to concede the election today.

Excerpted from an article in the (usually very pro-Democrat) Minneapolis Star-Tribune, December 27, 2009:

Former U.S. Sen. Mark Dayton confirmed Sunday that he has long been medicated for depression. A recovering alcoholic, Dayton also said he relapsed before the end of his Senate term, leaving voters to decide whether the revelations will hobble the enigmatic millionaire's bid for the state's highest office.


"I am a candidate for governor and I think people have a right to know this about me," Dayton said in a 10-minute interview Sunday.


But Dayton refused to offer many details of either his depression or alcoholism -- only that he started drinking again sometime between February 2005, when he decided not to seek a second term, and February 2007, when he checked into Hazelden's Renewal Center for help with his recovery. He said he has been sober since 2007.


Reaction to Dayton's disclosures ranged from praise to predictions that he will be unable to keep details private if he hopes to win the hypercompetitive contest. He is among 11 DFLers running for governor.


"It looks less like he's trying to protect his privacy and more like he is trying to hide something," said Jennifer Duffy, senior editor of the Cook Political Report in Washington, D.C. "Until he provides additional clarification, it will be an issue for the duration of the race."


After first describing his twin struggles in a Star Tribune opinion column published Sunday, Dayton spoke to a Star Tribune reporter Sunday morning, but would not fully elaborate on the revelations. Asked when he started drinking again, how much and whether he drank at work as a U.S. senator, Dayton refused to answer.


"I don't think there is anything more to say," he said of his drinking. "That's what I'm disclosing. I'm not going to say anything more about it."


He also declined to offer many details on his lifelong depression, which he characterized as mild.


"It's part of who I am, but it doesn't prevent me from getting up every day and exercising and going to work and doing my best work," he said.

This is a state that does not learn.

Enjoy Mr. Dayton, folks.  You wanted him?  You got him.

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