Thursday, 05 February 2015


Ken Berwitz

Today's quote comes to us from Joe Scarborough, the increasingly erratic namesake of MSNBC's "Morning Joe" show.

It seems that, during yesterday's confirmation hearing, Ashton Carter - President Obama's selection to replace Chuck Hagel as Secretary Of Defense - said he would consider sending arms to the Ukrainians to use while fighting Russian soldiers and pro-Russian forces within their own borders.

Here is what Mr. Scarborough has to say about it:

"What is Vladimir Putin's response going to be to the United States arming Ukraine? Certainly I would guess uh, no better than, uh, the Russians arming Mexico with weapons against Texas."


I admit I didn't read all the morning papers, so maybe I missed it: did we invade Mexico last night?

  Because in the absence of our invading Mexico and taking over part of its sovereign territory - which is what Russia has done with the Ukraine and is continuing to do with the troops in question - no parallel exists.

If anything, Russia would be sending arms to us, since about 10% of the entire Mexican population (that is NOT a typo or an exaggeration) has crossed the border into the United States.

Vigorously scratching your head may be unsightly, but it feels good and supposedly stimulates hair growth. I award Joe Scarborough Quote Of The Day honors for giving me a reason to scratch away at will - because that comment is a true head-scratcher from the word go.

"Morning Joe", like virtually every other MSNBC show, is on a significantly downward viewership spiral.  But I have to say I'm a bit surprised...because when a show host comes up with comments like this, you'd expect people to watch every day, just to hear what his next gem will be.

Come to think of it, if I'm right about this, Joe Biden has a wildly successful post-Vice Presidential TV career ahead of him.

gumstick I get that, I just hate seeing a wet, sad dog getting kicked when he's almost right. ;-) (02/06/15)

Ken Berwitz gum - I see your point. But I was going after the comparison, not the fact that both would generate negative reactions. Besides, it's fun to beat up on Joe. I keep hoping I'll bump into him at Zabar's someday and we can talk this stuff over. (02/05/15)

gumstick You missed the point. He phrased it poorly, but he was just saying that Putin is not going to react well. There is nothing wrong with pointing out the obvious. (02/05/15)


Ken Berwitz

I want to believe Brian Williams.  I am not trying to be sarcastic, I really do.  But I don't know how I can.

As you may be aware, Mr. Williams, the anchor/managing director of NBC Nightly News since 2004, has claimed, for years - and as recently as last Friday - that during the 2003 invasion of Iraq he was on a helicopter that was hit by enemy fire and forced down. 

The problem?  He wasn't.  His claim (here's where the belief issue comes in) is either a "false memory" - i.e. something he truly remembered as happening even though it did not - or an outright lie.

Excerpted from Travis J. Tritten's article for Stars & Stripes:

The admission came after crew members on the 159th Aviation Regiment's Chinook that was hit by two rockets and small arms fire told Stars and Stripes that the NBC anchor was nowhere near that aircraft or two other Chinooks flying in the formation that took fire. Williams arrived in the area about an hour later on another helicopter after the other three had made an emergency landing, the crew members said.

"I would not have chosen to make this mistake," Williams said. "I don't know what screwed up in my mind that caused me to conflate one aircraft with another."

Williams told his Nightly News audience that the erroneous claim was part of a "bungled attempt" to thank soldiers who helped protect him in Iraq in 2003. "I made a mistake in recalling the events of 12 years ago," Williams said. "I want to apologize."

Is Mr. Williams telling the truth?  Did he unintentionally "conflate one aircraft with the other" - a sincere mistake?  Or did he intentionally concoct a BS story to make himself look more impressive; maybe help to cop him the anchor spot he got the next year?

There, of course, is no way to know for sure.  But it seems to me that - especially after the scandal of Hillary Clinton lying that she was shot at by snipers in Bosnia, while landing at Tuzla's air base during a 1996 trip there...which she admitted only after video of her landing surfaced which showed that no such thing happened - Williams would, at some point, have double-checked to be sure his memory was not playing tricks on him.

And, making his story look even worse, Daily Caller's Chuck Ross reminds us that "Williams told his tall tale of being shot down in a helicopter during the Iraq War in vivid detail on David Letterman's show in 2013."

Do I want to believe Brian Williams.  Yes I do - if for no other reason that I (and, I suspect, you) have personally had instances where photographs or video have made me realize I was remembering certain events inaccurately.  It does happen.

But this is a tough one.

Hillary Clinton survived her lie about Bosnia, because media were then, as they are now, in love with her. It got a few days of serious coverage, and then went straight into the circular file.

I wonder if media - including competitive media over at CBS and ABC - will do the same for Brian Williams.

Zeke . . . . . Read the Comments section of that article in Stars and Stripes. . . . . . . . Brian Williams gets the Jason Blair Award. . . . . . . . NBC : . . . . Nothing But Crap . . . . . . . . . (02/05/15)


Ken Berwitz

Do you know who John Kitzhaber is? 

If you live in Oregon you know him as Governor Kitzhaber. 

But, despite his assurances that he will not resign, that title may very soon be ex-Governor Kitzhaber.  And, if the editorial board at The Oregonian - Oregon's largest newspaper - and one which not only has no ax to grind against Kitzhaber, but actually endorsed him - is correct (read the editorial, and you'll see there is very little doubt about that), he may soon be trading in his Governor's residence and fiance for an 6 X 8 barred premises with a live-in cellmate; one who, to his chagrin, may be just as interested in an intimate relationship as the fiance presumably is.

Here are the first three paragraphs of said editorial - but I urge you to use the link provided above, because you have to read it all to get the full import of what is going on:

"I'm not going to consider resigning," said Gov. John Kitzhaber at a disastrous press conference held Friday following revelations about the apparently borderless world of public policy and private gain in which he and fiance Cylvia Hayes exist. "I was elected by the people of this state to do a job, and I intend to do it."

No doubt, the governor does intend to do the job Oregonians gave him, which, simply put, is to pursue the interests of his constituents. That intention, however, is no match for an ugly reality of his own making, whose sordid elements keep surfacing with dispiriting regularity, most recently this week thanks to the work of Nick Budnick and Laura Gunderson of The Oregonian/OregonLive. Two people involved in Kitzhaber's 2010 campaign helped Hayes find paid work with groups interested in Oregon policy, Budnick and Gunderson reported. Both have landed in Kitzhaber's administration.

More ugliness may surface, but it should be clear by now to Kitzhaber that his credibility has evaporated to such a degree that he can no longer serve effectively as governor. If he wants to serve his constituents he should resign. To recite every reported instance in which Hayes, ostensibly under Kitzhaber's watchful eye, has used public resources, including public employee time and her "first lady" title, in pursuit of professional gain would require far more space than we have here and, besides, repeat what most readers already know. Suffice it to say there's a pattern, and the person who bears the responsibility for allowing it to form and persist is Kitzhaber, who should know better. After all, as he pointed out during Friday's press conference, he's been serving in public office on and off since the 1970s.

How bad is this?  Enough so that if even a fraction of the charges detailed in the rest of this editorial are true, Kitzhaber should be in "don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out" mode.

Regarding his assurance that there will be no resignation?  Don't bet on it.  Congressperson Michael Grimm (R-NY) said he wasn't resigning too...the week before he resigned. 

Oh, one other thing. John Kitzhaber happens to be a Democrat, which -  despite its commendable integrity him when this information came to light - The Oregonion did not bother to mention in its editorial. The closest it came was noting that a low carbon standard was a priority for Kitzhaber and Democratic legislators - but doesn't say he himself is of the same party.

Just like it would have done if he were a Republican, I'm sure.......


Ken Berwitz

As noted in an earlier blog, yesterday, Oregon's largest newspaper - and a long-time supporter of Democrat Governor John Kitzhaber - called on him to resign.

I just googled "John Kitzhaber Oregonian Resign".  And, on the first three pages, I found reports on this remarkable turn of events for the Washington Post, Fox, and CNN. 

I did not find NBC.  Or ABC.  Or NBC.  Or MSNBC.  Or the New York Times.  Or the Los Angeles Times.  Etc., etc., etc,

Now, to refresh your memory... September, 2013, two lanes of the George Washington Bridge leading from Fort Lee, New Jersey to the Bronx, were closed for several days.  There were major traffic jams for those days.  Republican Governor Chris Christie was suspected of ordering the lane closures as political payback for Fort Lee's Mayor not supporting him.  This was lead-story material for months.  Not a few days, a week, a couple of weeks, but months.

When an internal investigation concluded there was no evidence Christie was behind the closings, there was massive media coverage....of the fact that Christie had called the investigation so it was suspect. 

When a federal investigation - one Christie had nothing to do with - came to the same conclusion, media-wise, you could have heard a pin drop.

So, let's review: 

-A Democrat Governor is running such an ethical sewer that the largest newspaper in the state/huge supporter of his, calls for him to resign.  And most mainstream media don't even bother reporting it. 

-A Republican Governor is accused of closing a couple of bridge lanes for a few days, and virtually all mainstream media treat it like Crime Of The Century for months.

I talk a lot about media bias here. This is why.


Ken Berwitz

This is not satire.  It is Barack Obama, verbatim, at a prayer breakfast this morning:

From a school in Pakistan to the streets of Paris, we have seen violence and terror perpetrated by those who profess to stand up for faith, their faith. Professed to stand up for Islam but, in fact, are betraying it. We see ISIL, a brutal, vicious death cult that in the name of religion carries out unspeakable acts of barbarism, terrorizing religious minorities, like the Yazidis, subjecting women to rape as a weapon of war, and claiming the mantle of religious authority for such actions. We see sectarian war in Syria. The murder of Muslims and Christians in Nigeria. Religious war in the Central African Republic. A rising tide of anti-Semitism and hate crimes in Europe. So often perpetrated in the name of religion.
So how do we as people of faith reconcile these realities? The profound good, the strength, the tenacity, the compassion and love that can flow from all of our faiths, operating alongside those who seek to hijack religions for their own murderous ends.
Humanity has been grappling with these questions throughout human history. And lest we get on our high horse and think this is unique to some other place, remember that during the crusades and the inquisition, people committed terrible deeds in the name of Christ. In our home country, slavery, Jim Crow, all too often was justified in the name of Christ.

I would call what you just read unbelievable....except it is Barack Obama, and therefore the lack of any acknowledgement that this is being done by Islamic lunatics is all too believable.

Earth to Barack Obama:  the acts you are describing are not being perpetrated by some small-time group of nutcakes in the middle of nowhere, who no religion would claim ownership of.  They are being perpetrated by large groups, which are growing exponentially, both in size and strength - such as al-qaeda, ISIS (or ISIL if you prefer), the taliban, boko haram, hamas, hezbollah, etc. etc. etc. -- all of which have one religious component in common:  belief in a fundamentalist version of Islam.

Does this mean that all Islamic people are radical fanatics, hell-bent to murder anyone who does not subscribe to their views.  Absolutely not.  Not even close. 

But the indisputable fact remains that every group named above specifically characterizes itself as Islamic and worships Allah.  

Invoking Christian crusades from a millennium ago, and slavery (what did that have to do with religion?) does not change this a bit. 

The crusades - the murderous, intolerant crusades - were perpetrated by Christians.  I have never heard anyone deny that.  And, based on your "in the name of Christ" line, apparently you don't either. 

The difference is that the crusades, thankfully, died out centuries ago (the last crusade ended with the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648).  And the inquisition was largely over by the end of the 14th century.  But Islamic crusades did not die out centuries ago. They exist, and are thriving, today - despite your absurd lies about them being "virtually decimated" or just a "jayvee squad".

Pretending radical Islam is not part of Islam does not make them disappear.  The only thing that disappears is your credibility.

What little of it you have left.

justin I see nothing wrong with what he said. You are really coming across as some kind of bully. What do you get out of this? (02/05/15)

Ken Berwitz Enid - if your point is that racism exists, pervasively, in the USA today, you'll get no argument from me. I've written about it countless times in this blog (along with the fact that a) racism is a world problem, not a USA problem, and b) there is more legal redress for racism in the USA than any other country I am aware of). If your point is that Black slavery was the product of Christianity, I guess I do have some reading to do. I've always thought it was an economic activity - with Arab slave traders in business for something like 1,000 years before Europeans got into the act, and Europeans - both Christians and Jews (a good many "Conversos" among them) buying their human goods from Black tribes (especially the Ashanti tribes) which sold them at ports in west Africa. And, as you may or may not be aware, there were Black slave owners in the USA as well as White ones. Read about the Black slave owners in New Orleans and see for yourself. Bottom line: this was not a Christian activity: everyone got into the act. And let's not forget how many of the abolitionists took their stand based on their Christian beliefs.  In any event, the legal slave trade in this country ended in 1807 and slavery itself was abolished in 1865. The one place where you have a point is the jim crow, cross-burning years in the south.  But, although racism persists, jim crow laws and (with rare exceptions) cross burning lunacy are long gone.  By contrast, radical Islam is alive, well, and thriving in 2015.  It would be nice if President Obama had the honesty to call it what it is. (02/06/15)

Enid Lee It would be would to research what the enslavement of Black People in this country and Jim Crow had to do with Christianity and that was not seven or eight hundred years ago. For many of it is still very much today. I think you will have a lot of reading to do. (02/06/15)

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