Tuesday, 18 March 2008


Ken Berwitz

What do you do when you have to say something, and nothing you say can do you any good?

This morning we'll find out.  Because this morning Barack Obama will address the grotesquely vile commentaries of jeremiah wright, his close confidant, personal "spiritual mentor" and pastor of the church he has attended for 17 years.

I agree that Mr. Obama has to say something.   This association has become a huge issue because - despite the best efforts of most mainstream media to ignore it for months and months - it is now generally known to the public.  ABC news certainly played a part here.  But mostly we have cable news, especially Fox News, especially Bill O'Reilly to thank.  

If you are negative toward Fox News, you will probably find a way to condemn it for forcing this information out into the open.  If you are neutral or more toward Fox News, you will probably appreciate the fact that it gave you the information other news venues were keeping you ignorant of - and think less of those other venues for picking and choosing what they want you to know.  Your call.

In any event, here are some of the things Mr. Obama might say this morning, and why none of them will do him any good.  I will present them in a statement - reaction format:

-Don't blame me for what pastor wright says.  Whatever you think of his positions, we are two different people and his comments are not my comments:   

That doesn't compute.  You have told us in so many words he is your "spiritual mentor", the most important person in your life when it comes to spirituality.  He is your close friend and confidant of almost 20 years.  He is a key advisor who you put on your own campaign staff until you had to get rid of him just a few days ago.  He married you and your wife.  He baptized your children.  You took the name of your book, The Audacity of Hope, straight from one of his sermons.  There is no way to believe that what jeremiah wright says has no influence on you.  None;

-I didn't know pastor wright was saying these things

You attended this church for almost 20 years and didn't know what the pastor's opinions and beliefs were?  That means you are either an idiot or you are lying to our faces;

-I knew he said a couple of things like that, maybe he got caught up in the moment. But I didn't know that it was any more than just those couple of times:   

Same answer as before -- You attended this church for almost 20 years and didn't know what the pastor's opinions and beliefs were?  That means you are either an idiot or you are lying to our faces;

-I know pastor wright says things like this, but they are taken out of context

A lie.  We've seen the videos, which include his setup before the statements and his comments afterwards.  They are 100% in context;

-Ok, pastor wright does say things like this.  But he has done many good things as well:  

Carlo Gambino gave millions to charity while he was running a mafia family.  Bumpy Johnson did a lot for Harlem while he was running the drug trade there.  Hitler improved the German economy.  Mussolini made the trains run on time.  The fact that jeremiah wright did some good things does not in any way ameliorate his vile, hate-filled positions or the fact that he stands on a religious pulpit and screams them to his congregation;

-You can't blame pastor wright, because this is the style and substance of Black churches in general and he is just being one of the guys; 

The worst answer of all.  You are telling us that Black Americans are subjected to vile, hate-filled diatribes every time they go to church.  That means you are telling us that Black churches, in general, indoctrinate parishioners with a radical anti-White, anti-USA, anti-Israel mindset.  This is good?  This is supposed to make you or jeremiah wright look better to us?  And what about the laws regarding politics in places of worship?  As President would you enforce those laws?  Close these churches down? 

Can you come up with anything else that Mr. Obama could say to defend himself here?  I can think of just one more possibility:

Ok, you got me.  I voluntarily joined pastor wright's church 17 years ago and know exactly what he has been saying, just like every other congregant does.

  Yes, wright's sermons are sickeningly anti USA, anti-White and anti-Israel.  But since I myself was a radical street-organizer at the time I joined, that was just fine with me.  Then, when I wanted to run for the Illinois state senate from a district where the only way to win is to accept this filth without a word of condemnation, I continued to go along with it.  That's politics.

Now that I'm a US Senator and I want to win the White House, the same filth that was beneficial to me on the south side of Chicago is completely toxic.  So I have to figure out a way of reconciling my acceptance of  jeremiah wright's message of hate all these years, with my current position that it is totally unacceptable. 

Since there is no way in the world to pull this off, I hoped against hope that media would continue doing me the favor of my life by suppressing my association with pastor wright.  But ABC news did a story with those damn videos.  Then Fox jumped all over it.  So now I'm stuck with having to explain the unexplainable. 

My greatest hope is that mainstream media will go back to work on my behalf, and con you into thinking this is unimportant.  That way I can go on with my campaign as if nothing happened.

Now THAT would be truthful.  THAT would make sense.

But don't hold your breath waiting for Mr. Obama to say it. 

One last thing - which, in actuality, may be the single most damaging part of this morning's speech:  When Mr. Obama talks about his close ties to the Trinity United Church of Christ and pastor jeremiah wright, he will be telling average voters, pretty much in so many words, that he is not some neutral candidate.  He is a BLACK candidate from a BLACK background. 

In a more perfect world this would not matter a bit.  But we do not live in that world.  And voters who, until now, were willing to accept the premise that Mr. Obama transcended race will not be able to do so anymore. 

A candidate who is Black might be able to win the presidency.  A Black candidate almost certainly cannot.


Ken Berwitz

As I listened to Barack Obama try to rescue his presidential run this morning, it occurred to me that, for all the times I have heard jeremiah wright talk about his commitment to "Black Liberation Theology", I did not have an actual description of it.

Based on the videos of wright's sermons, I had a pretty good idea that it wouldn't be very appealing to me.  But I didn't know for sure. 

But now, thanks to James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal, I have a thumbnail description of what it's all about.  The description comes from James Cone, the man who innovated it - and one of jeremiah wright's great heroes:

Black theology refuses to accept a God who is not identified totally with the goals of the black community. If God is not for us and against white people, then he is a murderer, and we had better kill him. The task of black theology is to kill Gods who do not belong to the black community. . . . Black theology will accept only the love of God which participates in the destruction of the white enemy. What we need is the divine love as expressed in Black Power, which is the power of black people to destroy their oppressors here and now by any means at their disposal. Unless God is participating in this holy activity, we must reject his love.

This is the basis for jeremiah wright's ministry.  This is what he says you have to know to understand the Trinity United Church of Christ.  And this is the philosophy that Barack Obama has been treated to as a regular congregant of that church for almost 20 years.

How dare Mr. Obama tell us he did not know how objectionable wright's sermons were.  This philosophy is the BASIS of his sermons.  It is therefore impossible for Mr. Obama NOT to have known.

How can any reasonable person not conclude that Barack Obama lied to us?  And how can any reasonable person not conclude that the raw racist hatred embodied in this philosophy was not acceptable to Barack Obama all these years?

If it wasn't, why did he stay?  Would YOU have stayed?


Ken Berwitz

Ok, I've heard enough.

After keeping us waiting for over a half an hour, Obama is now telling us:

-I have Black and White relatives (that's nice, good for you);

-I heard jeremiah wright say these bad things in church (I lied before when I said I didn't.  And the truth that I was there when it happened is coming out so I have to come clean now);

-I condemn all the bad things jeremiah wright said (where were your condemnations over the past 17 years?  How convenient to condemn him now);

-But he did lots of good things too (what does that have to do with his hate-filled message);

-He is family, I will not abandon him (that's supposed to make me feel good?  It won't even make him feel good.  You just condemned him);

-He has never said these things to me personally (but he screams them at the top of his lungs from the church pulpit.  We're supposed to believe he morphs into Mr. Love And Tolerance when he's with you?)

-This is part and parcel of how Black churches operate and there is justification for them to do so (I'm supposed to feel BETTER about this?  I'm supposed to ACCEPT wright's hatred because you're telling me other Black churches do it?  You owe a lot of Black churches an apology!)

-Geraldine Ferraro is comparable to jeremiah wright on racial divisiveness (a disgraceful lie.  Geraldine Ferraro is a lifelong champion of equal rights who states that Obama's race helps him in the Democratic primary.  This compares to attacks on Whites?  To saying God damn the USA?  To sneering out hate of people who support Israel?  What a shameful comment!)

And then we have this verbatim quote (the bold print is mine):

"I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.  I can no more disown him than I can disown my white grandmother a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed her by on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe."

Translation - I'm tossing grandma over the cliff along with wright.  I love her, but I condemn her.  Hey, this is politics, baby, and all's fair.  Bye bye grannie.  Happy landing. 

At this point I give up.  Media may not position it this way, but I suspect the Obama bubble has just burst. 

Time will tell.

P.S.:  Just one more thing.  In all the years I have gone to synagogues (well over a half century) and all the times I have gone to churches for weddings, christenings, etc. I have never once heard any rabbi or priest say a thing that came remotely close to the vile hatred of jeremiah wright.  Mr. Obama's assurance that we've all heard material like this from our own clergy is a sickening affront to them, an insult to our intelligence - and, like other parts of his speech, a lie.

Joe Blogger Joe Wright and Louis Farrakan are no different than David Duke or George Wallace. All of them spewed hatred and racial divisiveness to a narrow segment of the populace as a way to gain political power, with varying degrees of success. Anyone who is a follower of any of these hatmongers isn't fit to hold public office, including Mr. Obama. (03/18/08)


Ken Berwitz

I do not own a gun and - at least as of now - have no intention of owning one. 

But I do have a deep and abiding respect for the United States constitution and the right it confers on us to bear arms.

Let me be clear about this.  I am not in favor of unrestricted ownership.  I believe in registration of handguns.  I believe in ID tagging of ammunition.  I believe in significant checking procedures before an individual can get a license or own a gun.

That said, however, I not only support the right of law abiding citizens to own a gun, in some places I consider it a necessity for their safety and the safety of their families.

There is an argument that if you criminalize guns, only criminals will have them.  That is one damn good argument. 

With this in mind, you probably can guess my reaction to the Associated Press report which I have excerpted below.  You can read the entire article (which details the specific case being ruled on) by clicking here):

Justices Agree on Right to Own Guns
Mar 18, 4:55 PM (ET)


WASHINGTON (AP) - Americans have a right to own guns, Supreme Court justices declared Tuesday in a historic and lively debate that could lead to the most significant interpretation of the Second Amendment since its ratification two centuries ago.

Governments have a right to regulate those firearms, a majority of justices seemed to agree. But there was less apparent agreement on the case they were arguing: whether Washington's ban on handguns goes too far.

The court has not conclusively interpreted the Second Amendment since its ratification in 1791. The amendment reads: "A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed."

The basic issue for the justices is whether the amendment protects an individual's right to own guns no matter what, or whether that right is somehow tied to service in a state militia.

A key justice, Anthony Kennedy, seemed to settle that question early on when he said the Second Amendment gives "a general right to bear arms." He is likely to be joined by Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas - a majority of the nine-member court.

While the arguments raged inside, dozens of protesters mingled with tourists and waved signs saying "Ban the Washington elitists, not our guns" or "The NRA helps criminals and terrorists buy guns."

Members of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence chanted "guns kill" as followers of the Second Amendment Sisters and Maryland Shall Issue.Org shouted "more guns, less crime."

The last Supreme Court ruling on the topic came in 1939 in U.S. v. Miller, which involved a sawed-off shotgun. Constitutional scholars disagree over what that case means but agree it did not squarely answer the question of individual versus collective rights.

Roberts said at his confirmation hearing that the correct reading of the Second Amendment was "still very much an open issue."

In my opinion, not only are people who possess legal firearms more safe for it, but people like me, who do not possess them are safer too - because a potential mugger or burglar cannot know for sure which of the two I am.

If people have a problem with this constitutional right, by all means let them petition for an amendment that might make ownership more restrictive or entirely illegal.  Then they will be able to rest easy in the knowledge that the only civilians with guns don't care about the law and will have a free shot at them. 

I hope they don't expect me to contribute much time and money to their cause.


Ken Berwitz

Here is an excerpt from L. Brent Bozell's commentary on the Trinity United Church of Christ and its pastor, jeremiah wright. 

There isn't a lot in here that you haven't seen from me already.  But Bozell does add a little material to the mix.  And he says it so well that I thought you should see it too:

The Trinity United Church of Christ claims to be "unashamedly black and unapologetically Christian." It proclaims its a church of "an African people, who remain true to our native land, the mother continent, the cradle of civilization." You cant tell conservatives that if their church said it was "a European people," committed to the European culture and motherland, that reporters wouldnt smell white supremacy in between the lines.

Then there is Obamas minister, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who in 2007 offered the "Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. Trumpeter Award" to a man who "truly epitomized greatness," anti-Semite Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam. Is Nicholas Kristof wanting us to believe that offering awards to Farrakhan is simply the act of a "foolish Christian"? It gives an entirely new meaning to Kristofs headline, "Obama and the Bigots."

Now some very disturbing Jeremiah Wright sermons are bubbling up, sermons where he screams until hes hoarse against America, so angry he cant resist bursting with profanity from the pulpit. In 2003, he built a grand government conspiracy against blacks: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

Five days after 9/11, Rev. Wright was condemning America as bringing on the al-Qaeda attacks with our own terrorism: "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," he yelled. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."

Are we to believe that on the first Sunday after 9/11 when many Americans crowded into churches looking to mourn, looking for answers, looking for community that Barack Obama decided to skip church?

ABCs Brian Ross found these words and then noted Obama has professed "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial." He said Rev. Wright "is like an old uncle who says things I don't always agree with," telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family.

How in the world can this crazy-uncle defense be accepted by the same media which roundly condemned George W. Bush in 2000 because he "stood uncritically" at Bob Jones University? ABCs George Stephanopoulos suggested Bushs standard stump speech there made him a "Kamikaze conservative." That was a single moment on Bushs campaign schedule. Barack Obamas been attending his crazy uncles church for 20 years; that crazy uncle married him and baptized his children, too.

Once these statements hit the airwaves, Obama repudiated them, but then suggested that those mean-spirited conservatives were at it again. "I noticed over the last several weeks that the forces of division have started to raise their ugly heads again," Obama declared. But the forces of division were right there within his campaign, until Obama expelled his minister from his African-American religious leadership team.

Barack Obama looks phony either way. Either he missed all of these sermons, meaning his devout Christian talk on CBS doesnt match his church attendance record, or he sincerely thinks that hateful, race-baiting, America-bashing sermons are part of a pleasant Sunday worship experience. The press has an obligation to pursue this.

If Obama really meant any of this rhetoric about healing racial divisions in any of his speeches over many months of campaigning he would have quit his hate-spewing minister and his Church of Slurs a long time ago. If the media ever meant to be fair and balanced instead of a real-life comedy sketch full of slavish Obama myth-builders, they would have found this story a long time ago.


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