Thursday, April 10, 2008

A good point from Taranto

A Barack Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention was "ticketed for calling her neighbor's African-American children 'monkeys,' " reports the Chicago Sun-Times. (We didn't realize this was against the law, but the Chicago Tribune explains that the charge was disorderly conduct.) Here is what happened, according to the Sun-Times:
[Linda] Ramirez-Sliwinski "came outside and told the children to quit playing in the tree like monkeys. The tree was not on Ramirez-Sliwinski's property," Carpentersville Police Commander Michael Kilbourne said.

Ramirez-Sliwinski admitted she used the word "monkeys," but said she did not intend racism. She said she was only trying to protect them from falling out of the tree. "Linda Ramirez-Sliwinski said she saw the kids playing in the tree and didn't want them falling out of the tree and getting hurt. She said she calls her own grandchildren 'monkeys,' " Kilbourne said. The mother of one of the children did not see it that way, noting she and Ramirez-Sliwinski have clashed before. "She felt it was racist because of the fact the children were African-American," Kilbourne said.

Told of the incident Monday by the Sun-Times, Obama's campaign called Ramirez-Sliwinski and persuaded her to step aside as a delegate because the campaign felt her remarks were "divisive and unacceptable."

Finally, someone Barack Obama can disown! Let this be a lesson for other Obama delegates: If someone is bothering you, shout at the top of your lungs, "God damn America!" You know Obama will stand by you then.


More Obama background

Because his central claim to be a "uniter" is so at variance with the far-Left policies that he supports, the sincerity of Obama is very much in question. For that reason, one has great doubts about what he really believes. Enquiries that throw some light on what he really believes are therefore of great interest. And something that would seem to be revelatory would be the sort of person he has closely associated with over the years and the milieu in which he he has moved. The post below is therefore of considerable interest

Writing in Slate, Christopher Hitchens notes that Jeremiah Wright isn't the only problematic pulpiteer to be associated with Barack Obama. Hitchens--who, it should be noted, is hostile to all religion--notes that another Obama "adviser" is Father Michael Pfleger, "a white Catholic preacher who has a close personal feeling for the man he calls (as does Obama) Minister Farrakhan." David Kopel of the Volokh Conspiracy does some research into Pfleger, starting with an April 5, 2004, Chicago Sun-Times article on then-Senate candidate Obama:
Friends and advisers, such as the Rev. Michael Pfleger, pastor of St. Sabina Roman Catholic Church in the Auburn-Gresham community on the South Side, who has known Obama for the better part of 20 years, help him keep that compass set, he says. "I always have felt in him this consciousness that, at the end of the day, with all of us, you've got to face God," Pfleger says of Obama. "Faith is key to his life, no question about it. [It is] central to who he is, and not just in his work in the political field, but as a man, as a black man, as a husband, as a father. . . . I don't think he could easily divorce his faith from who he is."

So who is Michael Pfleger? Kopel notes that he is indeed a strong defender of Louis Farrakhan:
Ambushed by a Bill O'Reilly camera crew, Pfleger stated: "He has--first of all, he has not called Judaism a gutter religion of blood suckers. That is not what he has said because I have heard that talk. I stick up for Louis Farrakhan because he is another person that the media has chosen to define how they want to do it. And they demonize how they want to demonize somebody. I know the man, Louis Farrakhan. He is a great man. I have great respect for him, he has done an awful lot for people and this country, black, white, and brown. He's a friend of mine."

Kopel reports that Farrakhan spoke at Pfleger's church last May, and Jeremian "God Damn America" Wright was also "recently an invited speaker at Rev. Pfleger's church." Kopel notes two troubling incidents involving Pfleger. One is described in a March 2006 report from Chicago's WMAQ-TV. It seems that Gov. Rod Blagojevich established a Commission on Discrimination and Hate Crimes and appointed to it one Sister Claudette Marie Muhammad, the "minister of protocol" for Farrakhan's Nation of Islam:
She was under the radar until she invited other commissioners to attend a Farrakhan speech last month. Criticism of Muhammad mounted after the speech, which included references to "Hollywood Jews" promoting homosexuality and "other filth."

Four members of the hate-crimes commission resigned. Blagojevich, for his part, claimed he hadn't realized Muhammad was an official of the Nation of Islam. But Pfleger blasted the commissioners who quit:
Callers to Tuesday's radio show included the Rev. Michael Pfleger, the white pastor of a mostly black Chicago church and a friend of Muhammad's. Pfleger said "good riddance" to the people who had left the commission. "Leave, go ahead and go on out, we don't need that kind of a spirit or mentality and a narrowness on that kind of commission. I'm glad they're gone," Pfleger said.

Pfleger also has a tendency to get overzealous in his moral crusades: He "is known for climbing ladders to deface liquor billboards," Crain's Chicago Business reported in 2004. More disturbingly, reported last year that Pfleger participated in a Rainbow/PUSH Coalition demonstration against a gun shop outside Chicago, where he issued this threat:
"He's the owner of Chuck's. John Riggio. R-i-g-g-i-o. We're going to find you and snuff you out . . . you know you're going to hide like a rat. You're going to hide but like a rat we're going to catch you and pull you out. We are not going to allow you to continue to hide when we're here."

According to Kopel, Pfleger later claimed he hadn't realized that "that 'snuff out' means to 'kill.' Rather, the determination to 'snuff out' Riggio was a determination to find out his home address."

We'd be hesitant to jump to any conclusions about Obama based on his association with Pfleger, which by no accounts is as deep as that with Jeremiah Wright. Pfleger's story does, however, tend to reinforce our view that the South Side of Chicago is, to put it charitably, a rather unusual subculture, one that Americans elsewhere--even in New York, where this columnist lives--may have trouble understanding, never mind embracing.


Obama, 2000: Not A Lot Of "Ideological Differences" With Black Panther Bobby Rush

In yesterday's conversation with Time's Joe Klein (transcript here) I noted that when then Illinois State Senator Barack Obama ran against incumbent Congressman Bobby Rush in the 2000 Democratic primary for the 1rst Congressional District, Obama announced there wasn't much difference between the two candidates when it came to beliefs. "I don't think there are a lot of ideological differences," Obama declared after a television debate between Rush, himself and a third candidate Donne Trotter.

Obama had positioned himself for the run against Rush by introducing a bill aimed at racial profiling that was supported by the left ("Flanked by officials from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund, Obama said the measure..." read the write up in the December 7, 1999 Chicago Tribune) and by deploring the situation that found "[m]any seniors are having to decide between milk and bread or paying for their prescription drugs."

He blasted Rush for doing little as a Congressman. "Seniority without vision doesn't get you much," Obama declared. "And that's what this campaign is about --framing the debate with leadership and vision." The rhetoric we have grown used to got a workout in the fall of 1999 and winter of 2000. "Part of what we are talking about is a transition from a politics of protest to a politics of progress," Obama declared.

For his part, Rush dismissed Obama as one of the "Johnny-come-latelys only interested in getting elected," and crushed Obama easily, 61%-30%. What do we learn from that race in 2000? Most importantly, that there were not, in Obama's words, "a lot of ideological differences" between the former Blank Panther Rush and the Obama of 2000. In 2004, (the latest year recorded in the 2006 Almanac of American Politics), Rush scored a 100 from the ADA and the ACLU, and a 0 from the ACU. By his own admission in 2000, we have to conclude that Barack Obama is from the far left of American politics, just like Rush.


Is Obama committed to Israel's survival?

Is Obama committed to Israel's survival as a Jewish state? The question is serious and the answer may be chilling. The senator himself has not spoken ill of Israel nor has he made anti-Semitic statements, but it is quite unlikely that a candidate as clever as he would tip his hand on something that vital. Consider, though, all the influences on the life of Barack Obama.

He has felt comfortable in the company of angry blacks who form the core of anti-Semitism in modern America. Jeremiah Wright is symptomatic of the sort of aggrieved, irrational black agitator who seriously believes that Jews are a major obstacle to the advancement of blacks and other oppressed minorities around the world. But Reverend Wright is only one example. Cynthia McKinney seriously proposed that Jews did not show up for work in the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001 because of some prior cabalistic warning. Nurtured black rage led to the 1991 murder in Crown Heights of an Australian Jew, Yankel Rosenbaum, whose sole offense was being a Jew in the wrong part of New York. Louis Farrakhan, of course, has spread lies about Jews, but even more "mainstream" black leaders like Jesse Jackson have shown clear dislike of Jews.

For a black presidential candidate like Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Michael Steele or J.C. Watts, the question of loyalty to our loyalist ally in the world would not be an issue. These black leaders have clearly and emphatically rejected the sort of hatred that Jeremiah Wright and Louis Farrakhan embrace. It is doubtful whether those radical blacks would endorse Rice or Steele or Watts for president, if Republicans nominated them. But Obama has chosen to associate himself with the embittered and resentful branch of black politics. Unless he believes its calumnies about America and Israel, why did he link himself to this sort of hatred?

But it is not just the black rage school of politics that raises questions about Obama and Israel. His mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, is another piece of the Obama puzzle. Although much has been made of his middle name, Hussein, over which Obama has no control, more important is the fact that Obama's mother chose to marry two Muslim husbands both of whom were from Third World nations. Considering that she was a champion of women's rights and that Islam is notoriously misogynist, this is extraordinary.

We hear of Muslim women seeking asylum in America and the West, but not of Western feminists marrying Muslim men and then living in the Muslim world. What could have motivated her except the conscious rejection of Western values, something that Obama's mother had very much in common with Jeremiah Wright? Is it worth noting that among the outrageous statements of Wright, one was that Islam and Christianity had much more in common than most people thought? (A preposterous lie, but one that conforms to a minister who could blame Israel for being a racist state.)

Obama also chose to marry a woman who seems to be filled with rage and anger at America. Those who hate America irrationally almost also hate Israel irrationally, and vice versa. The same resentment at successful peoples, the same rejection of Judeo-Christian values, the same nursing of past wrongs into a sort of fetish or cult draws people into the maelstrom of hating America, hating Israel, hating Christians and hating Jews.

The involuntary influences in the life of Obama, having a mother attracted to Muslim men and who initially sent her son to a Madrasah, and the choices that he made as an adult, marrying an angry black woman who feels America is bad and attending a church where the preacher excoriates Israel from the pulpit and honors odious anti-Semites - these together paint a very worrisome picture of Obama and Israel.

What would President Obama do if the survival of Israel were threatened? In the past the question was not as crucial as today. Europe, cowed by its growing and militant Muslim communities and removed by more than six decades from the horrors of the Holocaust, seems truly indifferent to Israel. In 1973, when the oil boycott smacked Europe, the Dutch, whose citizens remembered what had happened to Dutch Jews twenty-eight years earlier, rode bicycles to demonstrate their independence from Arab threats. In 2008, does anyone believe the Dutch would do the same?

Not only has Europe lost its nerve, but the threat to Israel is no longer an Arab threat but rather a Muslim threat. In 1973, the last time Israel faced a very serious threat, the Shah of Iran was in power, and his nation had good relations with Israel. Radical Islam, with its attendant hatred of Jews and Christians, was not ascendant in the Indian Ocean basin as it is today. Today, more than any time in the last sixty years, the two real allies against radical Islam are its principal victims - Israel and America. If America does not play its role in this alliance seriously, then the fate of Israel is in genuine peril.

Today, unlike yesterday, America and Israel cannot afford a president whose support of Israel is not complete and absolute. We cannot afford a president who thinks that chatting with governments whose official media spews the most absurd and despicable lies about America and Israel is a serious exercise in diplomacy. We must, instead, have a president certain that America and Israel are the good guys and that the triumphant of these nations - with as little violence as possible - is the only sure answer to peace. Is Obama this sort of president? Nothing suggests he is and everything suggests he is not.



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