Monday, 27 December 2010


Ken Berwitz

As our wonderful "neutral" media continue in full adoration mode at what a great comeback President Obama has had, it might be worthwhile to read Michael Walsh's commentary in today's New York Post.  Mr. Walsh has taken a serious look at the situation and clipped Mr. Obama's gossamer wings in a very realistic way. 

Here are some excerpts:

So the year ends with the media pushing the notion that Barack Obama -- having had one of the worst years in presidential history -- has salvaged both his presidency and his re-election chances with his stunning "comeback" in the dwindling hours of the lame-duck session.


Don't believe a word of it.


If generals are always fighting the last war, then the pundits are always reaching for the last clich. Did Bill Clinton face a similar dilemma back in 1994, after Newt Gingrich and the Republicans ate his lunch? Did he not come back to marginalize Gingrich and -- that little impeachment trifle aside -- depart office still popular?


Very well then, all Obama has to do is "triangulate" -- i.e., pretend to agree with both sides -- and the great unwashed "centrist" electorate will flock back to his banner. After all, it worked for the original "Comeback Kid."


For starters, this ignores several major distinctions between Clinton and Obama. Slick Willie learned his skills growing up in the crime-syndicate town of Hot Springs, Ark. Say what you will about those old gangsters, they knew how to run an effective political operation, by turns tough and solicitous, happy to raise money for the widows and orphans their trigger men had just created.


By contrast, Obama is a displaced person adopted by the far cruder Chicago machine, which turned his superficial charm and his palpable animus against the American ideal into a winning combination in the perfect storm 2008 election.


More important, it's unclear that Obama has it in him to compromise and pretend to like it. No one could fake sincerity like Clinton, but Obama is a far different sort of political animal. His tax-deal press conference was a remarkable glimpse behind the Wizard of Oz curtain at a scowling man who believes his political opponents are "hostage-takers" and enemies -- not just of the people, but of him personally.


So try as the media might, there's simply no way that a few lesser legislative victories translate into a refreshed political potency. When you've been humbled on taxes by the minority Republicans and failed to pass an omnibus budget, you've been beaten soundly on matters of domestic policy -- a clear signal that the incoming Tea Party-infused Republican majority in the House is already having an effect. And when one of your great victories is the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell," a Bill Clinton initiative . . .


Obama's worst enemy is not Boehner, or Sarah Palin, or any Republican; it's himself.

Does Barack Obama have the ability to be gracious, accommodating and actually compromise with people he clearly disdains and resents?

Let me answer with two clichs:  Anything is possible.  But the leopard does not change its spots.

In the immortal words of Baskin and Robbins:  Enjoy the rocky road.


Ken Berwitz

In previous blogs I have spoken very positively about Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels as a potential Republican presidential candidate.

Here are excerpts from an article by Jordan Fabian, at, which reinforce my feeling that he may be the best choice Republicans have:

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels (R), a potential 2012 presidential candidate, said this weekend he has no regrets about expressing his desire for a "truce" on social issues during the next presidency.

Daniels, a noted fiscal hawk, reiterated that social issues are of secondary concern to the country, behind the economy and national security. He first made his comments in June in a profile in the conservative Weekly Standard.

..."I say that with enormous respect for the people who want to see gay marriage legalized or who have a strong view on some other such question and want to see 'Don't ask, don't tell' go away."The Indiana governor took flak from some social-conservative groups, and some observers predicted that his comments could hurt him if he decides to run for president. 

But Daniels said those people might think differently if an enemy army threatened to invade the U.S.

"If there were a foreign army massed at our border right now, I think most Americans would rush to do what they could to help defend the country and they'd find themselves figuratively in the trench next to people that are very different from them and that held different views," he explained. "If the threat were defeated, we might go right back to our disagreements. That's all I'm saying."

He said that, although he wished for an end to the conflict over social issues, he respects people who disagree with him.

"Believe me, I completely respect, in fact I share the depth of feeling on some of these questions with some people," he said. "I'm just looking at, Shouldn't we save America first, while there's time?" 

As you can see,  Governor Daniels does not apologize for his social beliefs.  But he is perfectly willing to accept the fact that others do not share those beliefs and there are far more important issues to address than our differences on gay marriage or don't ask/don't tell in the military. 

Good for him. 

And good for us, if we look beyond what may separate us socially and worry a lot more about what brings us together as a nation.

WisOldMan I don't believe Republicans will be choosing the next GOP candidate for president. That'll be the task of the teaparty. Is Daniels the guy? He'd better pass muster with conservatives, or he simply will not be the choice. (12/27/10)


Ken Berwitz

Daniel Greenfield has written a searing commentary on how significantly - and quickly - the United States' importance in the world has diminished under President Barack Obama.

Here is the first part of Mr. Greenfield's analysis -- and I urge you to click on the link and read every word:

After the 2010 elections, its not exactly news that Obama has lost America. But in a less public referendum, he also lost the world. Obamas cocktail party tour of the worlds capitals may look impressive on a map, but is irrelevant on a policy level. In less than two years, the White House has gone from being the center of world leadership to being irrelevant, from protecting world freedom to serving as a global party planning committee.


Even the Bush Administrations harshest critics could never have credibly claimed that George W. Bush was irrelevant. He might have been hated, pilloried and shouted about but he couldnt be ignored. However Obama can be safely ignored. Invited to parties, given the chance to show off his cosmopolitan sophisticated by reciting one or two words in the local lingo, read off a teleprompter, along with some cant about the need for everyone to pull together and make the world a better place, and then dismissed for the rest of the evening.


As a world leader, he makes a passable party guest. He has a broad smile, brings along his own gifts and is famous in the way that celebrities, rather than prime ministers and presidents are famous. On an invitation list, he is more Bono than Sarkozy, Leonardo DiCaprio not Putin. You dont invite him to talk turkey, not even on Thanksgiving. Hes just one of those famous people with a passing interest in politics who gets good media attention, but who has nothing worthwhile to say.


The only countries who take Obama seriously, are the ones who have to. The leaders of Great Britain, Israel and Japan who have tied their countries to an enduring alliance with America based on mutual interests and values, only to discover that the latest fellow to sit behind the Oval Office desk no longer shares those values and couldnt give less of a damn about American interests. Its no wonder that European leaders ignore him as much as possible. Or that Netanyahu visited America, while Obama was abroad. Or that Japanese politics have become dangerously unstable.


On the enemy side, the growing aggressiveness of China, North Korea, Iran, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda can all be attributed to the global consensus that no one is at home in the White House. And if no one is at home in the White House, then thats a perfect time to slap the big boy around the yard. China is doing it economically, the rest are doing it militarily.

From the first, this administration has curried favor with Americas enemies by betraying and humiliating its allies. But these hideous acts of moral cowardice have not won Obama the approval of Americas enemies. Only their contempt. And a Nobel Peace Prize from a committee of elderly left wing Swedes, awarded not for any accomplishment, but for the lack thereof. For being a man without a country, a leader without a spine and a representative of America who gives no thought for the interests of that country.

David Greenfield's analysis is devastating --- and absolutely dead-on.  He understands perfectly.

Sadly, Mr. Greenfield's understanding is fully shared by the people who hate us most and want to do us the most harm.

The 2012 elections cannot come fast enough.


Ken Berwitz

New York's Russian Tea Room used to have a very catchy slogan:

"When is a tea room not a tea room?  When it's the Russian Tea Room."

Apparently the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) seems to think that isn't just clever advertising, but that it is a logical, defensible, preferable concept.

Excerpted from Matthew Boyle's article at

The Diversity Committee of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) is seeking to inform and sensitize reporters nationwide about how offensive the term illegal immigrant is to Latinos.

Diversity Committee member Leo Laurence announced the campaign against illegal immigrant and illegal alien terminology in the latest issue of the organizations magazine, Quill, writing that those who have not obtained citizenship but have entered the country without any prior approval should be called undocumented workers or undocumented immigrants.

In his report, Laurence quotes SPJ Diversity Committee chairman George Daniels as saying, this is not about being politically correct, but about aiming to minimize harm, when reporting. When Daniels says minimize harm, he is referring to one of the major tenets of SPJs code of ethics, which many journalists nationwide follow.

Laurence defends SPJs new campaign by offering an interpretation of the Constitution that provides for constitutional rights for everyone, including non-citizens, saying that any person should be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. He said that, constitutionally, a judge is the only person who can deem anyone or anything illegal.

So the term "illegal immigrant" is offensive to latinos?  Which latinos?  All latinos, or just the illegals?  When did the SPJ become an arbiter of what is or isn't offensive to an entire group?  Do these geniuses think if you've seen one latino you've seen 'em all?

To tell you the truth, I don't care who is offended by that term, latino or otherwise.  An illegal is an illegal.  Period. 

I also think that the sanitized term "undocumented worker" is a load of BS;  a dodge.  It sounds like a legal who forgot some papers he/she was supposed to be carrying, not like someone who is here illegally. 

Let me tell you:  it takes one hell of a "journalist" organization to demand censorship of the term.  What other words, phrases and ideas do they want censored? 

With "journalists" like these, who needs castro and chavez?

Zeke .... .... .... This is one example of how the Left infiltrates our institutions and perverts their foundations. .... ..... .... Squatters' Rights have become the institutional norm for the SPJ ? .... .... If you can sneak in, then you go to the head of the line. ..... ..... How about we have compassion and give all the welfare, health care, education and benefits to everyone on the globe .... no need for that bothersome trip to crash our borders .... stay home and we'll mail you the check. .... .... ..... This seizing of respected institutions -- university, secondary education, art, local, state and federal government, foundations, etc gives the Left diverse power bases from which our basic values can be attacked. .... .... Bill Ayres was a mover and shaker in education as Distinguished Professor of Education and Senior University Scholar at U Illinois - Chicago (when he wasn't busy planting bombs for the Weather Underground, which he founded). (12/28/10)


Ken Berwitz

Lawrence C. Ross, at, has written a highly provocative essay on how Black students in public schools are disciplined and the effect it has on their educations.

Here is a small part of the article which, whatever your feelings one way or the other, is well worth reading:

When the New York City Council voted earlier this week to require the New York police and schools to issue reports on the suspensions, arrests and summonses of New York students, it represented a victory for the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund. The uneven application of school discipline, and its effects on the educations of African-American students, is rapidly becoming a hot topic, as parent groups and even human rights groups are questioning whether zero tolerance behavioral policies disproportionately harm black students.

"As the organization that pioneered the work leading up to the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education, LDF has litigated more school desegregation cases than any other non-profit organization in the country," Hewitt said.

Today, African-American students are now over three times as likely to be suspended in school, with middle schools being the center of the controversy. In 2006, 28.3 percent of black middle school boys were being suspended, along with18 percent of black girls. This is in contrast to other racial populations like Asians, who have a suspension rate of 2.1 percent.

"Studies show African-American students are receiving harsher punishments than their white peers for the same types of misbehavior," said Cregor. "Students of color are disproportionately disciplined for "subjective" offenses like "disrespect" compared to their white peers."

"There is a spectrum of reasons for these disparities," add Hewitt. "On one hand, this harsher treatment can result from a cultural clash between students and well-intentioned educators who simply have little familiarity with black students or may be unprepared for the challenges of teaching students living in concentrated poverty. But on the other end of the spectrum African-American students, especially boys, are too often viewed as threats by the very people who are supposed to teach them.

"These perceptions are exacerbated by the cumulative toll of unmet educational needs. Imagine an African-American boy in the tenth grade. His school district is cash-poor; his classes are overcrowded; he has rarely had teachers certified in the subject matter that they were asked to teach; he has been tracked into lower level classes for years; he now reads on a seventh-grade level and has little hope of graduating, let alone going on to college. This young man would understandably feel disengaged. And the first time he presents challenging behavior he will be labeled as a "troublemaker" and before long he will find himself caught up in the School-to-Prison Pipeline."

Cregor's research points to a correlation between the school discipline issue and the quality of education African-American students are receiving. And more disturbing, harsh disciplinary policies are proving to be an accurate predictor of future incarceration of African-Americans.

"We can't close the "achievement gap" or improve graduation rates if we don't cut down on exclusionary discipline. There is a wealth of research on the harms that suspension, expulsion, and school arrest can cause students. The American Academy of Pediatrics found that suspension and expulsion jeopardize children's health and safety and may exacerbate academic failure. The Centers for Disease Control found that out-of-school youth are more likely to be retained a grade, drop out of school, become teen parents, and engage in delinquent behavior.

A 2003 study by Robert Balfanz found that school suspension is a top predictor for those students incarcerated by ninth grade. Beyond impacting those excluded, the American Psychological Association (APA) found that zero tolerance policies fail to make schools safer and that schools with high suspension rates score worse on standardized tests."

"Regardless of whether African-American children are the targets of intentional racism, the severe disparities in the type, severity and frequency of exclusionary discipline meted out to African-American students rise to the level of a racially disparate impact," said Hewitt. "Both intentional discrimination and this type of disparate impact are prohibited by federal law, including the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Simply put, it is a violation of civil rights laws when students of color are disciplined differently than their white peers."

I have a mixed reaction to Mr. Ross's analysis.  But, sorry to say, I think a lot of what he says is, as my mother used to sanitize the phrase, "bass-ackwards".

With all due respect to Mr. Ross, the problem lies at least as much with the children and the parenting as it does with the schools. 

While I do not deny that schools in Black urban areas are deficient, the reason does not begin and end at insufficient money allocation, discrimination or a lack of civil rights.

Take Washington DC's public school system as an example.  It has a vastly Black attendance base, a largely Black administration, and the most per-student money allocation of any urban school system in the country.  Based on Mr. Ross's thesis, students there should be performing wonderfully. 

Are they?

Mr. Ross sets up the example of a tenth grade boy and makes a reasonably persuasive case for why that boy is headed for nowhere except trouble.  But here's an analysis he did not provide:

Imagine an African-American boy in the tenth grade of a school district in which too much cash that should find its way into the classroom is going somewhere else, whose classroom has enough "students" more interested in disrupting than learning to insure that he cannot learn either, and who has underqualified teachers because the best, most experienced ones make a conscious effort to avoid his school at all costs. 

Then add in the fact that most urban schools are in high crime districts and most Black boys do not grow up in the traditional mother-father households which, statistically, are more likely to result in well-adjusted, successful children.    

Can you see a reason for heightened discipline in a school like this?   I know I can.

And where is this child's chance at learning?  How will he overcome the hand he has been dealt, both in and out of the classroom?  Do you have an answer?  I don't. 

Finally - speaking specifically of the Washington DC area - suppose this boy's parents are so invested in having him get a decent education that they want to enroll him in the Opportunity Scholarship Program, which allows them to pay part of the cost for a private school, with the city subsidizing the rest?  And what if President Obama killed that program - which was enabling almost 2,000 children to escape the DC school system, to appease the teachers' unions?  How long before this boy gives up and falls into the same trap so many others have?

Bottom line:  Lawrence C. Ross has an important message, and a lot of it is valid.  But he loses credibility by leaving out the other part of the equation. 

I hope Mr. Ross takes all the realities into account next time.

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