Wednesday, 13 April 2011


Ken Berwitz


This morning, just a short time ago, I posted the following blog:

Excerpted from an Associated Press article:

Facing criticism over the amount of taxes it pays, General Electric announced it will repay its entire $3.2 billion tax refund to the US Treasury on April 18.

GE uses a series of foreign tax havens that the company says are legal and that led to an enormous refund for the 2010 tax year.

The company earned $11 billion in 2010 on revenue of $150 billion.

What a great, benevolent move.

After being shamed into doing it, GE is going to start paying US taxes again.

I wonder if NBC or MSNBC, which has been owned by GE for years, will report this as what it is - a disgraced company being shamed into changing its policy.

I wonder if NBC or MSNBC will attack GE as being a prime example - maybe the most egregious one there is - of a company using corporate loopholes and legal gyrations to take money out of the USA rather than hand it over for Uncle Sam to spend?

I wonder if NBC or MSNBC will talk about the huge difference in corporate taxes between the USA and almost every other country, which encourage such behavior - and how it results in jobs being lost to the countries that are more corporate-friendly.

I wonder if NBC or MSNBC will then realize that attacking corporations and demanding more and more tax money from them is conterproductive; that it is the cause of so many of our economic problems.

But I doubt it.  After all, this is NBC and MSNBC we're talking about......


UPDATE!!!:  now According to CNBC, the Asssociated Press was hoaxed and GE still is not paying any taxes!!!:

GE Rebuffs Tax Refund Report as 'Hoax'

Published: Wednesday, 13 Apr 2011 | 10:40 AM ET

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General Electric called an earlier media report Wednesday that it would repay a $3.2 billion tax refund to the Treasury Department a "hoax."

Members of an activist group calling themselves the "Yes Men" claimed responsibility for the hoax, according to a report from Reuters.

Earlier Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. conglomerateusing "a series of foreign tax havens"would repay the "enormous" refund it received for the 2010 tax year.

Shares of GE, which is a minority shareholder in NBC Universal, the parent company of, slipped on the AP report. The company has faced intense scrutiny in recent weeks following a New York Times report that it would pay no taxes for the 2010 tax year.

"It's a hoax and GE did not receive a refund," said Deirdre Latour, a GE spokeswoman.

Chief Executive Jeff Immelt in a March speech in Washington acknowledged that the company tries to keep its tax bill as low as it can but said it does so legally.


I apologize for putting up whichever of these two is erroneous (I sort of assume it was the AP report, but it could be CNBC's.  At this point, who knows?)

Too bad for GE that it's policy of using legal gyrations to avoid paying US taxes is in the news again.  I just can't tell you how badly I feel about the country again being reminded that NBC and MSNBC's parent company does this. 

I will eagerly await the round of loud condemnations by Cenk Uygar, Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz. 

I expect them shortly after the next blizzard in the Negev Desert.


Ken Berwitz

So how is the ObamaCare issue working for Mr. Obama and his administration?

Well, here are the last two waves of the Associated Press/GfK (Roper) Poll.  See for yourself:

In general, do you support, oppose or neither support nor oppose the health care reforms that were passed by Congress in March of 2010?


                                                3/24-            1/5-

                                                3/28/11         1/10/11


Total Support                              35%              40%

Strongly Support                          17                 21

Somewhat Support                       18                 19


Neither Support nor Oppose           17%              16%


Total Oppose                              45%              41%

Somewhat Oppose                       14                 11

Strongly Oppose                          31                 30


Dont Know/Refuse                        2%                3%

If these data are accurate, ObamaCare, in political terms, truly has become ObamaCarnage.

A significant plurality opposes ObamaCare (45%, versus 35% supporting it).  Intensity-wise, almost twice as many (31%) strongly oppose ObamaCare as strongly support it (17%).

And, even more foreboding for Mr. Obama and his party, the support level among senior citizens has shrunk to only 30%.  Maybe this has something to do with them gutting a half-billion dollars out of Medicare and pumping it into ObamaCare, to create a cook-the-books illusion that it will not increase the deficit (which,of course, it will).

Again assuming these data are accurate, if I were Mr. Obama I would consider major changes to this red herring before the 2012 elections. But knowing Mr. Obama's ego, I wonder if he would even consider it.


Ken Berwitz

Don't expect to see's Steven Hayward and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi as an item in People Magazine.

Mr. Hayward does not like Ms. Pelosi.  At all.  And if you read his blog about her speaking engagement, last week, at Tufts University you will certainly see why.

But, although his dislike of Nancy Pelosi is not especially meaningful (it's not like there is a shortage of people who dislike Nancy Pelosi), Hayward's reasons are very well worth paying attention to.

I, of course, urge you to use the link I've provided and read Mr. Hayward's entire piece.  But here is a paragraph which, while not very tactful, really does encapsulate the philosophy she represents:

It is a mistake to dismiss Pelosi as the complete nitwit she often appears. The most clarifying single moment of the last generation may well have been Pelosi's famous remark that we'd need to pass the healthcare bill to find out what was in it. Rather than being a matter of ridicule, I thought Pelosi expressed perfectly the innermost character of congressional legislation in the modern administrative state. What she said was quite true and accurate: even at more than 2,000 pages, the enormous discretion and policy responsibility delegated to executive branch agencies meant that in effect the actual operating law would be formulated by administrators rather than Congress. And the huge number of waivers being granted under ObamaCare reveals the essentially arbitrary (some might say lawless) nature of administrative government.

Does Hayward have a point?  It seems to me he does.

What do you think?

Zeke .... ..... ..... The Lobbyists Betterment and Retirement Act .... ..... ..... Full Employment Inside the Beltway. (04/13/11)


Ken Berwitz

This is the result of an unscientific online poll taken from yesterday to now, by the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. 

Should there be a recount in the state Supreme Court election?


Yes (26%)

No (74%)

Total Responses: 10249

What does it mean?  Nothing. 

But wouldn't you have expected the unions, especially the teachers' union, to bombard this poll with votes as a way of making their case that the election was tainted?

Or maybe this is the result after they have bombarded this poll.

In any case, there are the "results".  Make what you will of them.


Ken Berwitz

It's very simple:  Raise taxes, spend more, and the deficit melts away.

All that's missing is the suggestion that we click our ruby slippers.

I'm surprised that Joe Biden was sleeping.....instead of laughing.


Ken Berwitz

From ABC News: (if you have trouble seeing the video, just click here).

Biden Falls Asleep During Obama Budget Speech?

Vice President Joe Biden appears asleep for a full 30 seconds during President Obama's speech on the debt and deficit earlier today.

Not for nothing do I call him Jackass J........zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.


Oh, by the way, he ain't the only one.  Look at the woman behind him to the left of your screen.  She's fighting to stay awake.  And the woman directly behind him can't even keep her head up.

Ken Berwitz Thanks, free. Now he can sleep -- but I can't. (04/13/11)

WisOldMan The gal over his right shoulder is also dozing off. I'll bet if they panned the audience, there were people dozing off all over the place...: The man is simply not at interesting at all. (04/13/11)

free` It is a scary thought, but Joe Biden is one birth certificate away from being POTUS!!! ;) (04/13/11)


Ken Berwitz

No commentary, just some questions:

-Are we finished bombing in Libya, or will we bomb again?

-Are we going to put ground troops there?

-What were our objectives in Libya?  Did we or did we not accomplish those objectives?

-Are we still on record as not intending to depose moammar qaddafi?  If so, why did we get involved in the first place?

-Are we still on record as not knowing who, exactly, "the rebels" are or what they want for Libya other than qaddafi's ouster?  If so, why did we bomb on their behalf without knowing who and what we were helping?

-What is our response to the March 25th interview with rebel leader abdel hakim al-hasidi in which he acknowledges that al-qaeda are being recruited into his forces?  

-What is our response to al-hasidi's reason for recruiting al-qaeda:  that they are "also good muslims and are fighting against the invader"? 

-Does his definition of "the invader" include us?  If so, why would we be bombing on behalf of a group that is sympathetic to al-qaeda and against us?

And, finally, why are our wonderful "neutral" media not demanding answers to these questions?  Can they possibly be so far in the tank for Barack Obama that this is all buried? 

Apparently, for at least some, the answer is "yes".


Ken Berwitz

How far will "birther bashers" - i.e. the "journalists" trying their best to protect Barack Obama, compromise their ethics (assuming they have any in the first place) on his behalf?

If you believe World Net Daily founder/editor Joseph Farah, the answer is very far; like all the way.  If you believe Salon writer Justin Elliott, Farah is full of excrement. 

Therefore, in the interest of providing both sides, here is the start of Mr. Farah's piece about Mr. Elliott:

One of the worst things about today's news media is the large number of worthless, clueless and truthless online bloggers who call themselves journalists but, frankly, bring nothing but dishonor and shame to the profession by their misappropriation of the term.


I tell you that as a prelude to a story.


On Monday, April 11, 2011, at 11:04 a.m. Eastern time, I received the following email in my inbox from Justin Elliott of


Joseph I'm doing a piece for Salon about the claim that Obama has spent $2 million on legal fees to fight eligibility lawsuits. Much of this seems to come from WND's reporting I'm wondering, do you believe it is accurate when Donald Trump asks, "Why has he spent over $2 million in legal fees to keep this quiet and to keep this silent?"


Does WND have evidence for this?


On Monday, April 11, 2011, at 12:30 p.m. Eastern time, a story headlined "Trump and Palin's $2 million birther lie," written by said Justin Elliott, was posted on


It seems traveling journalist Justin Elliott was pretty eager to get his big scoop up at Salon having given me all of one hour and 26 minutes to respond, assuming it was not edited before posting, which, I think, is a safe assumption.

And here is the beginning of Mr. Elliott's piece for Salon:

One of the latest claims made by Donald Trump -- now joined by Sarah Palin -- is that President Obama has spent $2 million in legal fees to keep his birth certificate secret. Predictably, this figure is based on shoddy reporting by a discredited birther website and lacks any evidence to back it up.

On CNN on Sunday, Trump rolled out the "$2 million" figure as one piece of evidence that Obama was not born in the U.S.

"I just say very simply why doesn't he show his birth certificate?" Trump asked. "Why has he spent over $2 million in legal fees to keep this quiet and to keep this silent?" Sarah Palin used a similar formulation on Fox on Saturday, applauding Trump for investigating "why President Obama would've spent $2 million to not show his birth certificate."

Here's the back story on this particular piece of birther mythology.

While the $2 million figure has now been invoked thousands of times around the Web, it appears to have originated on WorldNetDaily, a right-wing news website that conducts original (and often unreliable) reporting on a variety of conspiracy theories.

Is Mr. Farah outraged?  Is he less than taken with Justin Elliott's journalistic ethics?  Yep.

Does Mr. Elliott have little regard for World Net Daily, and accuse it of being unreliable (and then some)?  Yep.

So who is correct>

Well, here is a link to Mr. Farah's full piece.  In it there is a link to the three-part investigative series Chelsea Schilling did (the third part pretty much incorporates everything she found) which Mr. Farah bases his claim on (Ms Schilling talks about $1.7 million, not $2 million).

And here is a link to Justin Elliott's full piece which is meant to debunk the Farah/Schilling claim.

I urge you to read them all (none is that long).  Then, with full knowledge of all sides, decide for yourself.

Zeke ..... ..... Given the number of lawsuits that have gone to trial, the legal fees (and Obama is using top law firms) for the defense are clearly over $1 million, and well on the way to (or past) $2 million. .... ..... Obama is concealing something ..... .... MHO: He isn't 35 years old, and therefore Constitutionally ineligible to be President. .... ... Or, there is something in the Birth Certificate that is highly embarrassing -- Father's Name (not the person he's identified) ? ... (04/13/11)

Zeke ..... ..... Given the number of lawsuits that have gone to trial, the legal fees (and Obama is using top law firms) for the defense are clearly over $1 million, and well on the way to (or past) $2 million. .... ..... Obama is concealing something ..... .... MHO: He isn't 35 years old, and therefore Constitutionally ineligible to be President. .... ... Or, there is something in the Birth Certificate that is highly embarassing -- Father's Name (not the person he's identified) ? ... (04/13/11)

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