Friday, 18 January 2008


Ken Berwitz

Let me show you a couple of news items from this morning.  They should give you considerable insight into how the truce between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama is working out.

The first comes from Ben Smith of

Ad: 'Hillary Clinton does not respect our people'

The radio ad aired by one of Obama's labor allies re-injects ethnicity into the Democratic primary contest in sharp terms.

"Hillary Clinton does not respect our people," the ad says in Spanish (original and Clinton campaign translation after the jump), referring to the lawsuit that failed today to shut down special caucus sites on Las Vegas' strip. "Hillary Clinton is shameless."

"Sen. Obama is defending our right to vote. Sen. Obama wants our votes. He respects our votes, our community, and our people. Sen. Obamas campaign slogan is 'Si Se Puede.' Vote for a president who respects us, and who respects our right to vote," the ad says, according to a transcript provided by the Clinton campaign and confirmed in part by a union official.

On a conference call arranged by the Clinton campaign, two of her supporters denounced the spot and demanded that Obama distance himself from it. They also said the Clinton campaign had no involvement in the lawsuit, which was filed by Clinton supporters and defended by Bill Clinton.

"Its pathetic and it's sad and it's unfortunate that they have to stoop so low," said Dolores Huerta, a longtime Hispanic labor leader who supports Clinton. She said she had never met Obama in her years of working on Hispanic causes, and suggested the ad was prompted by his lack of Hispanic support.

"I have yet to find even one worker a Latino worker who is supporting Barack Obama," she said.

The political director for the textile and hotel workers' union UNITE-HERE, Tom Snyder, confirmed a portion of the transcript, and defended the decision to run it.

"We're doing this because forces allied with her campaign are trying to keep our members out of voting through this lawsuit, which neither Senator Clinton nor former President Clinton have denounced," he said.

A spokesman for Obama, Bill Burton, did not condemn the ad or the independent spending specifically, but instead attacked Clinton.

"Sen. Obama believes, and has said clearly, that campaigns should fund themselves and discourages supporters from spending outside the campaign," he said, and echoed the charges in the ad. "Coming from a campaign that is repeatedly launching absolutely false attacks against Sen. Obama, it takes some chutzpah. The facts is their camp clearly would like to have worker's voices silences and they need to live with that unfortunate position."

UPDATE: CBS has the audio, and also a somewhat inaccurate translation from the union, which softens the ad to say "Shame on Hillary Clinton" in place of the actual line, which translates as "Hillary Clinton has no shame."

UNITE HERE Negative Ad
Hillary Clinton does not respect our people. Hillary Clinton supporters went to court to prevent working people to vote this Saturday that is an embarrassment.

Hillary Clinton supporters want to prevent people from voting in their workplace on Saturday. This is unforgivable. Hillary Clinton is shameless. Hillary Clinton should not allow her friends to attack our peoples right to vote this Saturday. This is unforgivable; theres no respect

Sen. Obama is defending our right to vote. Sen. Obama wants our votes. He respects our votes, our community, and our people.

Sen. Obamas campaign slogan is Si Se Puede (Yes We Can). Vote for a president that respects us, and that respects our right to vote. Obama for president, Si Se Puede (Yes We Can).

Paid for by UNITE HERE Campaign Committee.

The second comes from Nedra Pickler (how I love that name) of the Associated Press:

Obama Debuts New Act in Vegas

Jan 18, 5:11 AM (ET)


LAS VEGAS (AP) - The White House campaign has brought a new act to Vegas. Barack Obama has stepped up his campaign against Hillary Rodham Clinton, and he's trying to use humor to bring her down before this weekend's Democratic presidential caucus.

His argument is starkly different from the "Iowa nice" approach he used in recent weeks when campaigning in the first caucus state. Candidates who go negative there have a history of turning off voters, so Obama rarely criticized Clinton directly in Iowa - instead he made veiled references to "some of my opponents" - and he won the state.

But there's nothing subtle about Las Vegas. With a high-stakes match on the line Saturday, Obama embraced local traditions by debuting a biting political standup routine Thursday night that mocked his rival.

Obama began by recalling a moment in Tuesday night's debate when he and his rivals were asked to name their biggest weakness. Obama answered first, saying he has a messy desk and needs help managing paperwork - something his opponents have since used to suggest he's not up to managing the country. Former North Carolina Sen. John Edwards said his biggest weakness is that he has a powerful response to seeing pain in others, and Clinton said she gets impatient to bring change to America.

"Because I'm an ordinary person, I thought that they meant, 'What's your biggest weakness?'" Obama said to laughter from a packed house at Rancho High School. "If I had gone last I would have known what the game was. And then I could have said, 'Well, ya know, I like to help old ladies across the street. Sometimes they don't want to be helped. It's terrible.'"

"Folks, they don't tell you what they mean!" he said. Obama chuckled at his own joke before riffing on another Clinton answer in the debate, when she said that she is happy that the bankruptcy bill she voted for in 2001 never became law.

"She says, 'I voted for it but I was glad to see that it didn't pass.' What does that mean?" he asked, again drawing laughter from the crowd and himself. "No seriously, what does that mean? If you didn't want to see it passed, then you can vote against it! People don't say what they mean.

"You know what I'm saying is true," he said, then addressed his routine directly at audience members who don't know who they will vote for yet. "Undecideds, remember now, remember what I'm saying."

He continued by responding to a new Clinton radio ad that accused him of having financial ties to supporters of the proposed Yucca Mountain nuclear waste site that most Nevadans are loath to come to their state.

"I have said over and over again I'm against Yucca," Obama said. "I'm against Yucca Mountain. I think the science is not there. I've never, I've never been for Yucca. Never been for it. Never said I was for it.

"Suddenly you've got the Clinton camp out there saying, 'He's for Yucca.' What part of I'm not for Yucca do you not understand?" he said, then laughed along with his audience.

As the laughter subsided, Obama drove home the broader point he's been trying to make against Clinton the entire campaign.

"Those kinds of tricks, that kind of approach to politics is what has to stop because what happens is then nobody believes anything," Obama said. "The voters don't believe what politicians say. They get cynical. Folks in Congress, they'll tell you they're looking out for you - they're looking out for somebody else. We have to change that politics and that's why I'm running for president."

The Clinton campaign did not respond to a request for comment on Obama's new act.

That, folks, is the TRUCE between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

What will they use if the truce is called off?  Small nuclear devices?


Ken Berwitz

If you criticize the Black near-separatist church Barack Obama belongs to - the one which, through its magazine, named louis farrakhan the man of the year in 2007 - guess what you are?  You're a right winger, mean spirited, acting like you're from outer space, you're denigrating the best of Black America, you think of them as non-existent - just some bunch  of people you have to drive by on the way to Wrigley Field - you're a malcontent and you should back off.

What you just read (actually there is more, I just didn't want to cram it into one paragraph) is literally the content of the column you are about to read - which was written by a member of the Chicago Sun-Times' EDITORIAL STAFF, believe it or not.

Doubt me?  Well, here it is:

Back off criticism of Obama's church

January 18, 2008

As delightful as it is to criticize politicians for being self-serving do-nothings, the field of Democratic presidential contenders offers some solid choices.

Finding flaws among the top three has turned into a science, with Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and John Edwards (less so) dissected daily like frogs in a biology class.

So when people stoop so low as to criticize and deconstruct Trinity United Church of Christ, Obama's South Side church, all that's left in their tired analysis on the cultural relevance and style of worship is a bunch of nothing.

This Trinity-bashing has to stop.

Last year, right-wing bloggers and pundits proclaimed Trinity's pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, a racist and separatist because the church calls itself "Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian." They saw something suspect in choir members who don colorful African-inspired clothing and sway back and forth to the rhythms of spirit-filled gospel music.

The mean-spirited rhetoric is flaring up again as we approach the Feb. 5 Super Tuesday primary. The latest offender is polemicist Christopher Hitchens, whose recent descriptions of Trinity at -- and reprinted in these pages Saturday -- make him seem less like the leading intellectual I know him to be than an anthropologist from outer space. He called Wright, a former soldier who holds a doctorate, a "character" and Trinity a "substandard, shade-oriented place."

To Hitchens and others who would misinterpret the basic and authentic Christian message of Trinity, I say back off. You don't know who you're messing with. You're denigrating the best of black America. You're criticizing God-fearing folk who value education and put their money and time where their mouths are in ministering to the community. These so-called critics are the same types who castigate black people for failing to address problems that plague the community, including education, HIV/AIDS and financial responsibility.

"We liked the fact that it was an active liberation ministry," said Yvette Moyo, 54, founder of the black family celebration and charity Real Men Cook and a 30-year Trinity member. "We are totally committed every single day with making a difference in our community."

The church's hospice program cared for Moyo's father before he died in October of lung cancer. Between the nurses, counselors and steady stream of visitors to her father's South Shore home, her dad, Rudolph Jackson, died with dignity, enveloped in unceasing prayer.

"Remember, the church was segregated a long time," said Moyo, who helps organize lectures and debates for the church. "When you look at some of the freedom movements throughout the country, the church has been a meeting place, sometimes the only place. It's important to have church as a place of reference in how you bring up black boys and girls through examples of how to be respectful of themselves and their history."

The last time striving, upwardly mobile black folks were pushed into a corner, something called the civil rights movement was born. These critics think they are slamming a small band of nondescript folks in some part of Chicago they probably don't think really exists, seeing as how they'd have to drive past Wrigley Field and south of Roosevelt Road to get there.

Voters must not allow these professional malcontents, and in Hitchens' case, a God hater, to skew their judgment on the best candidate to turn the economy around, get us out of this war that was justified on a pack of lies and put America back on solid financial footing.

Chicagoans -- and Christians everywhere -- know how instrumental the black church has been in lifting the community out of physical and intellectual bondage by promoting self-determination, a solid work ethic, education and more.

The only thing Trinity is guilty of, perhaps, is doing these things better than most.

Deborah Douglas is a Sun-Times editorial board member..

For anyone who wants to know how this wonderful superior church describes itself, this is straight from its website ( ).  The bold print is mine :

We are a congregation which is Unashamedly Black and Unapologetically Christian... Our roots in the Black religious experience and tradition are deep, lasting and permanent. We are an African people, and remain "true to our native land," the mother continent, the cradle of civilization. God has superintended our pilgrimage through the days of slavery, the days of segregation, and the long night of racism. It is God who gives us the strength and courage to continuously address injustice as a people, and as a congregation. We constantly affirm our trust in God through cultural expression of a Black worship service and ministries which address the Black Community

Let's play a little game:  reread that statement, this time changing the word Black to White.  Then change the church magazine's man of the year to david duke. 

Now, picture, say, John McCain (Republican) or Hillary Clinton (Democrat) being a long time member of the church and think about what Ms. Douglas' reaction might be. 

Do you think she'd be telling people to back off criticism of that church or not to attack McCain or Clinton for being a long-time member?  

Ms. Douglas is defending an indefensibly racist, virtually separatist church - based on its own description and its own actions.  Demanding that you and I ignore what is in front of our eyes does neither her, nor the church nor Senator Obama any good.


Ken Berwitz

If you live in Los Angeles, you might be interested to know how your hard-earned tax money is being allocated.  If so, this report from is for you:

Founder of Anti-Gun Group Pleads No Contest to Weapons Charges

Friday , January 18, 2008

Los Angeles--

A former gang member who founded an anti-violence group called No Guns has pleaded no contest to federal weapons charges.

Hector "Big Weasel" Marroquin, 51, and co-defendant Sylvia Arrellano, 25, entered pleas Thursday for three counts of manufacture, distribution and transport for sale of an unlawful assault weapon.

Arrellano also pleaded no contest to machine gun conversion and possessing a silencer and acknowledged that the crime was committed for the benefit of a criminal street gang.

She was given until Tuesday to surrender for sentencing and would likely be sentenced to four years in prison, prosecutors said.

Marroquin attorney Patrick Smith did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Thursday. No phone listing was available for Arrellano.

Marroquin was arrested in June at his Downey home following a nine-month investigation into weapons sales by the 18th Street gang, to which he once belonged.

Arrellano was arrested at a Cudahy home as a result of the same investigation

Marroquin founded No Guns in 1996, ostensibly to reduce gang and gun violence. The group received $1.5 million from the city as a subcontractor on anti-gang efforts but its contract was canceled last year after authorities learned that Marroquin had hired relatives, including his son, Hector "Little Weasel" Marroquin.

The son is an acknowledged 18th Street gang member who pleaded no contest in June 2007 to home-invasion robbery and was sentenced to nine years in state prison..

So the Big Weasel, a gang-banger who claimed to have been reformed, was handed $1,500,000, for anti-gang efforts, which he then started handing out to his relatives, one of whom is his son and current gang-banger, the Little Weasel.

Thank you, Fox, this out.  Now, who was the rodent in charge of giving them the money?


Ken Berwitz

Bobby Fischer was a chess prodigy.  When he was barely a teenager he was defeating grandmasters.  He eventually became the world chess champion.

Bobby Fischer was also a nutcase supreme.  Half Jewish, he became a virulent anti-semite and a paranoid lunatic who thought almost everyone was out to get him.  Fischer became a recluse, stopped paying taxes and ran from the law.  Eventually he slipped out of the public consciousness and became an obscure oddity.

Fischer died yesterday in Iceland at the age of 64.  I don't know the cause of death and don't much care.

He was a king.  But then he devolved into a pawn who thought everyone else was trying to rook him.

Now he has finally conceded to the guy who nobody beats. 



Ken Berwitz

I read this report from the Jerusalem Post and wasn't sure which emotion should win out.  See what you think:

Abbas threatens to quit if 'escalation' continues

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is considering resigning from his post if Israel continues its military operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, a top PA official said Thursday.

The official said Abbas, in a series of phone conversations with Arab, American and EU leaders and government officials, strongly condemned Israel's attacks as a "severe blow" to the peace process.

"The president has said that he will resign if the military escalation and daily killings continue," the official said. "Israel's actions undermine the Palestinian Authority and drive more Palestinians into the open arms of Hamas and Islamic Jihad." .

Israel is attacked by palestinian Arabs every day, using mortars, rockets and any suicide bomber that can get through.  The fatah-hamas "government" does exactly nothing to stop it. 

But if Israel acts to stop it, this is an escalation of the conflict and a "severe blow" to the peace process.

And because Israel is escalating the conflict by trying to stop these daily attacks on its people, Abbas is threatening to resign! 

This is a threat?  Omigod, what would happen if he did??? 

Why...why....Israel would be attacked by palestinian Arabs every day, using mortars, rockets and any suicide bomber that can get through.  And the fatah-hamas "government" would do exactly nothing to stop it. 

Like I said, it's hard to know whether you should laugh or cry.

Maybe both. 


Ken Berwitz

Here, folks, is the definition of a pathetic excuse for a human being. 

The story is 2 1/2 weeks old.  I am genuinely sorry I didn't come across it sooner.

Since "Blackfive" ( explains things so well and so completely, I'll let him carry the ball.  I only have one comment to make afterwards, about the comment I've put in bold print and underlined:

Anti-Military Lawyer Damages Marine's Car on Eve of Deployment

Posted By Blackfive

NOTE:  Jay Grodner pled guilty.  An important update is posted here.

This ought to make your blood boil.  And this Marine should receive a commendation for not kicking the living crap out of the guy...seriously.

Marine Sgt Mike McNulty is on activation orders to Iraq (second tour).  On December 1st, 2007, Mike went to visit a friend in Chicago before deploying to say goodbye.  In order to get to his friend's residence, and keep in mind that Chicago is a myriad of diagonal and one-way streets, the front entrance (right way) to the one-way street was blocked.  Mike, being a Marine, overcame and adapted by driving around the block to the other end of the street and backing up all the way to his friend's place. 

While saying goodbye, at about 11am, he noticed a man leaning up against his car. Mike left his friend's apartment and caught the man keying his car on multiple sides.


click picture to enlarge

After caught in the process, the man told Mike, "you think you can do whatever you want with Department of Defense license plates and tags".  (In Illinois you can purchase veteran, Marine, or medal plates.  Mike has Illinois Marine Corps license plates.)  During the exchange, he made additional anti-military comments.

Mike called the Chicago police and had the man arrested. A citation against the man was issued for misdemeanor criminal damage to private property.

The police report (and I have copies if needed) states:

Victim related to P/O that as he walked back to his vehicle, he observed the offender leaning up against his vehicle and rubbed/dragged his left arm and hand across the passenger side.  As offender walked away from victim's vehicle, victim observed a scratch along the rear trunk and passenger's door area where offender dragged his arm and hand over.  Victim and witness stopped offender and confronted him.  Victim has military plates and decals on his vehicle and offender made anti war and military comments to victim.  Upon P/O's arrival to scene, offender denied scratch victim's vehicle, but did admit to rubbing past it.  Victim at this time did not sign complaint, because he is leaving tour for military duty.  Offender said they accused him of scratching the car because he is Jewish.   Offender's statements/responses to P/O's questions unreasonable.      

As it turns out, the man is Chicago lawyer Jay R. Grodner, who owns a law firm in the city and has offices in the suburbs.

After sending the car to the body shop, it was determined there is $2400 in damage, making this a felony. Mike went to court Friday morning to collect the damages against Mr. Grodner and file felony charges. Though the damages are over $300 (the amount which determines felony or misdemeanor) Grodner offered Mike to pay his deductible, $100, and have Mike's insurance pay for it.

The Illinois States Attorneys tried to coerce Mike into accepting the offer. Appalled, Mike said he wanted this to be a felony. The state told Mike that it was not worth pursuing felony damage against Grodner because they don't have the time. In addition, the state prosecutors told him that he would never it 'would be difficult to recover the damages' from Grodner because he is a lawyer.

Instead, the State asked Mike if he would accept probation for Grodner. Mike accepted, probation was offered to Grodner, and Grodner declined the offer, saying within ear shot of Mike, "I'm not going to make it easy on this kid". Mike's next court date is tomorrow, Monday, December 31st, to pursue misdemeanor charges against Grodner.

Mike's leave is over on January 2nd when he reports to Camp Pendleton before heading to Iraq.

Jay Grodner knows this and is going to file for a continuance until Mike is gone and cannot appear in court.

By account of the Illinois State's Attorneys, Grodner is likely to get away with defacing Mike's car with no penalty because, 1) Mike is about to deploy to Iraq and will not be available to appear in court, and 2) Grodner is a lawyer and can get out of this very easily.

So, does anyone have any ideas about how to proceed?  All peaceful and rational ideas are welcomed.  We are contacting the media about this, too.

Please pass this story on to anyone you know that might be able to help.

Update 12-31-07 1000 CST:  The hearing is today.  After about four hundred emails offering help, I've taken down the email address for now.  If I haven't sent you a reply, I apologize and hopefully will send one soon. 

I will post updates as they occur.  There are several options and we'll see what happens in court first before Mike decides on the next move.

And, BTW, a sincere thanks to all the Chicago Police Officers for their advice and offers.

Let me be clear.  I do not want anyone to harass the lawyer, threaten him, damage his property or propose any other illegal suggestion.  We can win this one clean and fair - one way or another...

Update 12-31-07 2000 CST:  A Blackfive reader sends this update about the hearing today...

Attn:  Black Five

I am writing to produce an update of the results of Sgt McNulty's case against Jay R Grodner.  I was present in support of Mike and thought you may be interested in an update for this story.   

Sgt McNulty was called forward by the State's Attorney in order to discuss the case.  I am not sure what transpired behind the closed doors, however, I overheard the State's Attorney expressing her intent to prosecute this guy to the fullest extent.   It seems as if BlackFive is the sole catalyst to this story getting out and I am sure Sgt McNulty has probably heard the effect of yours and other blogs from the results of today's proceedings to include several Marines and civilians who showed up in his support.

Jay R Grodner was called before court and in his absence, the Judge issued a warrant for his arrest effective immediately.   Sgt McNulty was departing the court when Grodner rolled in to the courtroom more pathetic than anyone I had ever seen.  The Judge had questioned him on his tardiness and he explained that traffic had been busy and he 'made a wrong turn'.   The Judge chastised him for his tardiness, pathetic excuses, and that he was lucky the warrant had not been executed prior to his arrival. 

It seems the blogosphere has put the ball in Sgt McNulty's court.  Furthermore, it is also apparent that the State's Attorney's Office has decided to take this matter on a much more serious level.   A new and very aggressive State's Attorney seems to have a genuine interest in pursuing this case to the extent that it warrants. 

A lot of good people deserve our thanks today.  Thousands responded with emails and phone calls and some even went to support Mike at the hearing.  Thank you.  I've said it before and I'll say it again - Blackfive and military blogs have the best readers on the planet - we really are a true community.

This certainly speaks for itself.  Except for the part where this scumbag with legs whines that he's being persecuted as a Jew.

Point of order:  I'm Jewish.  I've never been ashamed of that for one second.  But a "man" like this tests my attitude to the limit.

He makes me sick.


Ken Berwitz

You may have heard about an exchange between Mitt Romney and Associated Press reporter Glen Johnson yesterday.

Since most media have characterized it as testy, angry and several other adjectives, the implication being that both men acted this way, I thought you might like to see the actual video. 

Here it is (if you have trouble seeing it, just click on 


I challenge you to show me where Romney was ANY of those things.  The truth, as you can plainly see/hear, is that Mr. Romney held his composure perfectly.  Even when this supposedly "neutral" reporter called him a liar to his face. 

The very last words on this video, from a woman who witnessed the incident, were that Glen Johnson was "rude and ugly". 

Now there is a woman with ears and eyes that function perfectly.

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