Tuesday, 08 February 2011


Ken Berwitz

(NOTE:  This blog is dedicated to Mike and Dennis.  You may not know who they are.  But they do, and that's the important thing)

Over the past couple of weeks I have been writing a great deal about Democrat and left wing (often one and the same) "civility".  In that vein, I thought I would show you the "civility" level of  the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC) before and after a decision was made to forgo - clich alert - the "heated political rhetoric" that Democrats have accused Republicans of engaging in.

Here is the beginning of an email from the DSCC, which was sent just last week:


Thank you so much for your continuing support! With the help of the DSCCs grassroots donors, the first fundraising deadline of the new election cycle was a strong one. We surpassed our January goal, and it couldnt have happened at a better time. Races are already heating up in some states, Republicans are already running ads against our candidates.

Keeping the Senate blue wont be easy we have 23 seats to defend in 2012. But with your continuing support, we can and we will preserve Democratic control and ensure President Obama has a Senate he can work with. Thats why I wanted to give you an update on the latest news from some key Senate races. Weve all seen the awful proposals coming from the Republican House from repealing health care reform to gutting programs millions of people count on. I need everyone up-to-date and informed so we can keep Republicans from reversing all the progress weve made together and derailing all the progress yet to come.

Now that is critical of Republicans.  But it certainly is civil - no "heated political rhetoric" at all.

Very touching.

Now, however, let's take a look at what that same DSCC was sending out before the decision was made to posture as the keepers of the civility flame.

Here is an excerpt from an October 31 email: 

Just 48 hours to go.  We need  $150,000 by midnight tonight so we can rush it to battleground states tomorrow. And if you give right now, we'll match your donation two dollars for every dollar - tripling your impact!

If we lose November 2, we'll be pining for the good old days, when Sarah Palin was the most extreme figure on the right. Seriously, these candidates make Sarah Palin look like Mary Poppins.

The Tea Partiers and their right-wing third-party donors have been pummeling our candidates with their million-dollar ad buys. But we've not only managed to survive, we've been coming back with a vengeance. And it's all because of you.

"Battleground states"?  Isn't that a war/violence reference?  Like, for example, putting crosshairs on a map of vulnerable congressional districts?

After two years of merciless, nonstop bashing of Sarah Palin, telling us that the current Republican candidates make her look like Mary Poppins? 

Hmmmm.  That doesn't sound especially civil to me.

But let's be fair.  This is a single email.  Could it be that the DSCC had a bad day and went overboard just this one time?


Here's are excerpts from a September 30th email:

We know Karl Rove's playbook. Lie. Smear. Win at any cost. We also know this: We've only got 16 hours to fight back.

The DSCC is up against a midnight deadline, and the money we raise now will determine if we can counter Rove's dirty tricks. Last week alone, Rove and his billionaire cronies spent $11 million to attack good people like Russ Feingold and Barbara Boxer. They're trying to buy a Senate majority for Tea Party radicals Sharron Angle, Rand Paul and Christine O'Donnell. 15 races are within 5 points.

In this tough climate, anything can happen - especially when Rove's shadowy groups are shelling out $11 million a week. That's why tonight's deadline is so important.

We knew it would take courage and hard work to repair the damage George W. Bush did to our country.  And we gave everything we had to elect Barack Obama and a Democratic Congress to get that job done.  

Now Republicans are desperate to get their power back - and they're pandering to the radical fringe in order to do it.

With Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck fanning the flames of right-wing anger, Tea Party extremists are purging the party of anyone who doesn't fit their radical ideology. Throw in $11 million a week from Karl Rove and his pals, and the Tea Party's next stop will be the U.S. Senate - unless our grassroots team stands together now to stop it.

Stop the Tea Party's radical plans and defend our Senate majority. Donate $5 or more to the DSCC right now. We're so close to our goal - don't miss this opportunity to have your donation matched.

We have 15 Senate races within 5 points.


If Republicans win just 10, they win the Senate. Sharron Angle will be free to target Social Security. Our civil rights laws will be in Rand Paul's crosshairs. Everything we fought for will be at risk.

It's time for the thousands of people in our grassroots network to stand up against the Tea Party and Rove's millions. Fight back now.

How civil.  What unheated political rhetoric.

Let's do one more.  This September 12, 2009 excerpt is taken from a DSCC email signed by that well-known paradigm of civility, James Carville:

Heck, if crazy were a pre-existing condition, the GOP wouldn't be able to get insurance.

I could go on - literally, there's plenty more where that came from.  But I would hope the point is made. 

As you can see, the plaintive cries of Democrats that we should all be civil are 0% sincere and 100% a political strategy.  If the party had any investment at all in civility I could not be posting this material, because it would not exist.

And that's the most "civil" thing I can say about it.


Ken Berwitz

How can you take the findings of social scientists seriously, when they are so politically one-dimensional?

Excerpted from an article in (of all places) yesterday's New York Times.  Please pay special attention to the segment I've put in bold print:

SAN ANTONIO Some of the worlds pre-eminent experts on bias discovered an unexpected form of it at their annual meeting.

Discrimination is always high on the agenda at the Society for Personality and Social Psychologys conference, where psychologists discuss their research on racial prejudice, homophobia, sexism, stereotype threat and unconscious bias against minorities. But the most talked-about speech at this years meeting, which ended Jan. 30, involved a new outgroup.

It was identified by Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at the University of Virginia who studies the intuitive foundations of morality and ideology. He polled his audience at the San Antonio Convention Center, starting by asking how many considered themselves politically liberal. A sea of hands appeared, and Dr. Haidt estimated that liberals made up 80 percent of the 1,000 psychologists in the ballroom. When he asked for centrists and libertarians, he spotted fewer than three dozen hands. And then, when he asked for conservatives, he counted a grand total of three.

This is a statistically impossible lack of diversity, Dr. Haidt concluded, noting polls showing that 40 percent of Americans are conservative and 20 percent are liberal. In his speech and in an interview, Dr. Haidt argued that social psychologists are a tribal-moral community united by sacred values that hinder research and damage their credibility and blind them to the hostile climate theyve created for non-liberals.

Anywhere in the world that social psychologists see women or minorities underrepresented by a factor of two or three, our minds jump to discrimination as the explanation, said Dr. Haidt, who called himself a longtime liberal turned centrist. But when we find out that conservatives are underrepresented among us by a factor of more than 100, suddenly everyone finds it quite easy to generate alternate explanations"

Thank you, Dr. Haidt, for stating a plain and, I would hope, obvious truth - i.e. allowing just one set of opinions while shutting out another is going to affect the findings.

I suspect that the same disparity can be found in a lot more disciplines than social science - resulting in the same biases, thus distorted findings.

All credit to the New York Times for publishing this article.  But now you can grow old waiting for the rest of mainstream media to be talking about it.  After all, why build on an aberration, right?


Ken Berwitz

President Obama and his fellow Democrats are determined to raise the debt ceiling.  Republicans are demanding deep spending cuts.

Which resonates more with voters?

If the latest poll, conducted by The Hill is any indication, Obama & Co. better take Bette Davis' advice from the movie "All About Eve", when she said (I'm paraphrasing here) "Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy campaign".

Among the findings:

-In total, 27% of likely voters favor raising the debt ceiling, compared to 62% opposing it;

-Among independents - who are the most susceptible to switching their vote from party to party - the data are even worse, with just 24% favoring a raise in the debt ceiling and 64% against it;

-And among women - usually more reliably Democrat than men - favorability is at just 22%, versus 63% unfavorable.

You can see the entire poll by clicking here.  (Please note that page 3 is a continuation of page 1 (i.e. it is in the same order as page 1, so the second set of numbers is a continuation of results for raising the limit).

Does raising the debt ceiling look like a winning issue for Democrats to you?  It sure doesn't to me.

Does it look like Democrats learned anything from the whooping they took last November?  It sure doesn't to me.

Will Republicans be smart enough to capitalize on this gaping hole in the Democrats' line?  Who knows - these are Republicans we're talking about.


Ken Berwitz

keith olbermann, freshly dispatched from MSNBC, despite hosting its single highest-rated show (that should tell you what a picnic it is working with him - or you could ask ESPN and Fox, both of which also have olbermann in their rear view mirrors) is joining........

Current TV. 

Unless you are a major-league Al Gore fan, your reaction is probably something like "Huh?  Who?"

According to Current TV's press release, welcoming olbermann to the fold:  after over 5 years the network claims to have a reach of "more than 75 million households around the world".  Not viewership of 75 million households, mind you, but reach - i.e. it is on their lineup of stations.  How many people actually view it?   Current TV is not saying (which doesn't suggest the answer is anything to jump hoops over).

And what are olbermann's duties there?  Well, he will host a news and commentary show in prime time (just like MSNBC, except there will barely be anyone tuning in).

And -- you better be sitting down for this -- he will be Current TV's "Chief News Officer". 

That's right.  keith olbermann, who virtually never presented any opposing view on his nightly hate-fest at MSNBC, is going to be in charge of its news - which, the last time I checked, is supposed to be dispassionate and neutral.

Are they kidding?  This has to be stand-up comedy, doesn't it?  There is no way that a news venue would make someone as unabashedly, aggressively, offensively partisan as keith olbermann their Chief News Officer, is there?

What's that?  You're reminding me that Al Gore is a key player at Current TV? 

Okay, thanks.  I agree.  That explains everything.


I just read that, according to an obviously tongue-in-cheek Rush Limbaugh, "They're paying Olbermann in carbon credits".  I'm still laughing.


Ken Berwitz

This example of left wing "civility" comes to us from the college town and left wing bastion, Madison, Wisconsin.  It is a new (actually updated) play called "Last Supper" being performed there.

And what does "Last Supper" feature?  Excerpted from an article at the University of Wisconsin-Madison's Daily Isthmus:

Five lefty graduate students in Iowa City gather for weekly dinners to revel in their shared (and sometimes smug) world view. The first dinner we witness ignites a surprising shared mission when one of the students invites the truck driver who offered him roadside assistance to join them. This young man, a patriotic Desert Storm vet, first startles the group when he insists on saying grace before the vegan meal and then goes on to praise Hitler, alarming and repulsing the other dinners. Threats and violence ensue, and one of the hosts stabs him.

As he lies bleeding on an area rug, the quintet, after some debate and initial hand-wringing, decide that they have done society a favor by eliminating him and silencing his dangerous words. They also decide that since participating in protests and sit-ins has been a futile way to fight the power, this new dinner party/murder method may be a more effective technique in coping with right-wing adversaries.

Soon a parade of special guests is invited to dine, and when their dinner conversation proves repellent, they are given poisoned wine and buried in the backyard. Our smarty-pants grad students toast themselves for making a difference each time and feel vindicated when they learn that their first victim, the trucker, was implicated in a heinous crime. The death toll grows, and the tomato plants seen through the patio door flourish.

Lefty graduate students killing off conservatives - the first one being a patriotic military veteran who - of course, given the view of this play - is a hitler fan - and, it is later found out, the perpetrator of "a heinous crime". 

Later on, most (not all) of the killers express regret for what they have done.  But the message is clear.  If you don't like the "conservative" message, poison the bastards. 

What great fun. 

What a wonderful compliment to Christians everywhere, to have that name applied to a play like this.

What a marvelous display of "civility".

Zeke .... ..... ..... Re: Civility ---- Apparently, Ken's idol, Keiff Olbermann, will be back on TV. ..... ..... Unconfirmed speculation is that he will appear on Current TV, Al Gore's cable channel. ..... ..... ..... Loyal viewers are eagerly awaiting Keiff's appearance; they both say that he will bring a whole new depth to this 5 year old channel. .... .... Not on Cablevision, though. (02/08/11)

Ken Berwitz free - you can add to that the fact that if a right winger used the term "retard" he/she would immediately be condemned as an offensive person who uses a serious mental disability as some kind of sarcastic punch line. There are two sets of rules. We see it over and over and over again. (02/08/11)

free` On Super Bowl Sunday at my sisters I made the comment I wish we had a more experienced president. My sister the special ed teacher and head of the union responded with, 'Well at least we don't have a retard as President." I let it drop since we were at her home. It seems the left is only left with the Bush is a retard argument to the question of obama's experience. But I wanted to just unload on her. My first thought when she said it was 'how would you know, the current president refuses to release any of his school transcripts'. My second thought was, 'have you ever seen the cockpit of an F102? How could a retard have learned to fly a jet fighter'? I could on and on but I a sure you get the idea. (02/08/11)


Ken Berwitz

It was a stellar night for "civility" on Chris Matthews' Hardball show --- left wing civility, that is. 

Matthews - who thinks the world of civility; just ask him - said this about Newt Gingrich:

"I think if you look closely at Newt Gingrich, you see a mortal enemy to our civilization."

And this about Sarah Palin:

"She talks like a cuckoo clock. In fact, I think when she gets that Sarah Palin named patented, thats what she should sell, cuckoo clocks with her coming out every hour or half hour."

How proud MSNBC must be to air such obviously elevated commentary.

But wait, that's not all.  On the same show Richard Wolffe, MSNBC's ubiquitous guest, had this to say about the Middle East:

...the experiment of democracy, of untrammeled democracy inside the Middle East is most clearly demonstrated by the Palestinian authority with Hamas taking power in the Gaza strip.

I don't know whether to laugh, or just shake my head in amazement. 

Hamas, for the record, won a majority of elected offices in Gaza several years ago, and then decided it wanted them all.  So it threw out every member of Fatah who was elected - violently - and took over completely.  Currently, there are no new elections in the offing because it is refusing to hold them. 

But in the happy horsemanure world of Richard Wolffe, that is "untrammeled democracy".  And Matthews calls Sarah Palin a cuckoo clock?????

Hardball used to have at least some value.  But it has degenerated into a nightly tour through Looneytuneville.  And its ratings, while marginally better than before, still stink anyway.

How much longer will Comcast put its name, thus its reputation in front of this unadulterated crap? 

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