Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Jeremiah (Wright) as PROPHET

I watched the entire address and q/a period vis-à-vis the Rev. Doctor Jeremiah Wright's performance at the National Press Club on 28 April. His shtick was that the current attacks by everyone on him and Obama actually represent an attack on the African-American church. Amazing, as well as his ready references to "white supremacy," which he was all too eager to neuter by his own superior performance in a speech probably given many times!

Reams of stuff will be aired/punditized concerning the startling things he said, but some things were made certain. He's very angry, is obsessed with slavery/apartheid, seems to be totally disconnected from reality, actually living in the cotton-fields of the South. He didn't mention – and nobody asked about – reparations, one of his main objectives and an integral part of the "black liberation theology" he espouses, but he made it plain that some of the things he obviously considered important were edited out of his Moyers interview on 25 April.

He reiterated that politicians do whatever is necessary to get elected, but that preachers like him are above that kind of behavior, naturally dishonest, apparently. It was his slap at Obama…maybe a bit of revenge for Obama's disconnect. He got in another plug for Nation of Islam head honcho Louis Farrakhan and certainly did not distance himself from the man, whom he accompanied in 1984 on a visit to Libya's President Muammar Qadaffi, a world-class terrorist. He couldn't, of course, since the magazine started by him or his church years ago and operated now by his daughters gave an award to Farrakhan in December. He allowed that Calypso Louie was one of the most important men of the 20th century. He also made sure to let everyone know that white folks did church on Sunday morning and the KLAN on Sunday evening.

He made much of reconciliation and the futility of the 11:00 a.m. most segregated hour on Sunday, but explained that black worship is simply different, the meaning being that whites should come and participate (or endure) it. I watched him preach consistently via TV when his services were syndicated and can understand why I and most white people would not participate in what appears often to be a rally or even a circus of sorts. Just his histrionics in the clips that have been aired are enough to turn off most people, the gaudy robes and the screaming/preaching and the dancing/prancing. The thing that always amazed me most, however, was his constant use of gospel-hymn texts of the white church, not done rap-style but with genuine feeling.

His claim that whites have been "miseducated" in the public schools vis-a-vis the black experience is totally without foundation, especially in the last 40 years. He apparently meant "miseducation" about the black church, too, in which case one wonders why the school would teach about the work of any church. I was taught about slavery when I was in public school many decades ago.

His position that the theology of the black church is prophetic in nature (Isaiah 61) is a smoke-screen for simply venting. His preaching is anything but prophetic…it's laced with hatred. Of course, he named a couple of terrorist criminals – Ollie North and Vice President Cheney. He hit a high spot in his address to the NAACP in Detroit on 27 April when he said that now the first black woman may inhabit the White House…legally. The applause was deafening. His salacious sexual slam at white presidents and their wives didn't speak to reconciliation, but to more divisiveness.

In the q/a period, Wright said that…yes…the U.S. government is certainly capable of visiting the black population with HIV/AIDS…indeed, that it's capable of doing anything. He had to answer that way, since he's indelibly on the record as claiming that the government has purposely plagued the black community with this terrible disease. It was a sort of imprimatur of Farrakhan's claim that the government sabotaged the levees in 2005 so Katrina could kill black folk in New Orleans. He was flippant during this period, laughing, mugging, doing a mock salute and putting down the press. He definitely enjoyed his nationwide-via-TV "telling-off" of white America.

Wright is smart and terribly charismatic. He could be a great reconciler, but he's about as divisive as it's possible to be. Obama was skewered by Wright's performance, without even being there. And, with apparent great glee, Wright skewered the white press to a fare-thee-well, even being quite rude to the white lady conducting the clambake. Some of the best entertainment I've had lately.

Wright is not to be taken seriously. He's in the mold of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Being part of the United Church of Christ denomination, made up of nearly all whites, he also does not speak for black churches, though he presumes to do so. His falsehood-laced tirades hurt the black church, however, since he has become the high-profile "spiritual" figure in Barack Obama's campaign. Pity!

Wright claimed that black-liberation-theology is keyed on "liberation, transformation and reconciliation." His performances give the lie to any effort at reconciliation since he's taken every opportunity to ridicule and denigrate white America, including white Christians and their churches. In any case, blacks have long since been liberated, though Wright, at least, has not been transformed from being a racist spewing hatred.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Monday, April 28, 2008

The "Associations" Problem!

So now…the great CBS debate between Hillary and Barack that was scheduled to precede the North Carolina primary election has been scrubbed. More's the pity, since the last debate, conducted by ABC's Gibson and Stephanopoulis, centered on the more abstract but probably more important aspect of aspiring for the presidency – fitness for office. Neither Clinton nor Obama looked good, with Obama's performance actually abysmal.

The report is that Clinton was amenable to another circus of "me, too" histrionics (since the two always put forward the same socialistic approach to governance) but that Obama, probably realizing all too well his inability to perform without a teleprompter or off-the-cuff before characters who know whereof they speak, stood down. He was wise to do so, even though Clinton has established herself as being without peer in fabricating tales of wonderment, so far from the truth as to be in the ether orbiting Mars at this moment. Okay…the Serb snipers were supposed to be at the airfield in Bosnia in 1996 (hubby Bill said 1995, but that was close enough) but stopped at a local hookah-opium-bar on the way and wound up in Uzbekistan instead.

Obama is bothered mightily by his associations and can't seem to shake them. He probably hears the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright in his sleep singing "God Damn America" or quoting Wright mimicking President Reagan in a Shakespearean soliloquy of "Out, Out, damned HIV/AIDS spot" for plaguing African Americans with the dreaded disease in the 80s. It's no wonder he looks worn-out during the debates lately…he's sleep-deprived. To make things worse, Bill Moyers, the nation's most rabid Bush-hater, is interviewing the reverend this week on his government-sponsored PBS program, thus calling attention yet again to Obama's 21-year exposure (approval?) concerning the saintly Wright's hate-speech.

Obama also can't shake the association with his wife, who's helped his patriotism by claiming that the USA is a "mean place" and that not in her entire adulthood, all of which happened suddenly last year, has she felt proud of this awful nation, in which she and hubby have only managed to become millionaires. It's enough to give any candidate the heebie-jeebies when his own spouse claims to have spent a virtual lifetime in a place so mean that no one, especially her husband, would want to touch it with a ten-foot pole, let alone be president.

Then, just as he was busy and seeming to succeed in trying to explain away dear Jeremiah and dear Michele, along comes William Ayers, the guy in whose house/presence he wrestled with the question of running for office. There's nothing wrong with that, except that Ayers, a pooh-bah in the terrorist Weather Underground of the 60s and an admitted and proud public-building bomber (though certainly not the type looking for the virgins) is not the best friend to have around, since most Americans take a dim view of the LSD-hyped hippie-dippy types who have grown old now and become college professors, thus proving that idiocy has its place. Idiot-friends can be a problem.

And then there's Raila Odinga, Kenyan prime minister who claims to be Obama's first cousin and who visited with Obama last fall, both of them trying then for their respective presidencies – Odinga lost but yelled "foul" and got the PM spot for his trouble, but only after a few hundred were massacred. According to the BBC of 17 April, his critics call him a "party-wrecker," who would do anything to achieve his political ambition and described him further: a mechanical engineer by profession, accused of plotting a coup against President Moi in 1982, charged with treason and detained without trial for six years before fleeing to Norway in 1991. Actually, he spent about eight or nine years in prison for his trouble.

Odinga received a scholarship from the Communist government of East Germany in 1965 that sent him to the Technical University (Otto Von Guericke), Magdeburg, in what was then known as East Germany. In 1970, he graduated with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Five years learning communism in one of the most repressive of communist regimes does not make for a good relative-reference.

According to the Jerusalem Post of 21 January 2008, "On August 29 [2007] Odinga wrote a letter to Kenya's pro-jihadist National Muslim Leaders Forum. There he pledged that if elected he would establish Sharia courts throughout the country; enact Islamic dress codes for women; ban alcohol and pork; indoctrinate schoolchildren in the tenets of Islam; ban Christian missionary activities, and dismiss the police commissioner, 'Who has allowed himself to be used by heathens and Zionists.' Although Odinga is an Anglican, he referred to Islam as the 'one true religion' and scorned Christians as 'worshipers of the cross.' Obama strongly supports Odinga who claims to be his cousin."

Egad! Religion rears its ugly head again for Obama…shades of Jeremiah! Whereas Jeremiah demands reparations for slavery, Odinga demands money for subterfuge. Whereas Obama cited his grandmother as the typical white person – leery of those around him/her – Odinga cited missionaries as cross-worshippers and thus presumably of an inferior class.

Okay…it's not fair to judge Obama on the basis of his associations, whether present or past. On the other hand, he attempted in his "Race" speech to vindicate Wright's animus toward this country, even though Wright has not suffered unduly and is even now preparing to move into a $1.6 million mansion financed by – what else – his church.

Obama's associations would come into play as he chooses his cabinet members, if elected. They would come into play as he appointed judges on all levels. Anyone for reparations, for instance? His associations would determine his ambassador-appointments and his alliances, such as with Kenya, now a U.S.-ally in that strategic part of the world, but under Obama – what…maybe statehood…or guns for Odinga?

Hillary would face the questions of Whitewater, futures speculation, Rose Law Firm, Travel-office firings, mistakenly misplaced records, sniper and other kinds of lies, socialized medicine, and 80 trips abroad (her bragging rights currently) in which she had no official capacity other than having a great time on the government dime. Obama faces questions about those strange associations. McCain looks better all the time.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The Moyers/Wright Fiasco

I watched all of the love-in on 25 April of Bill Moyers and the Reverend Doctor Jeremiah Wright on the Moyers PBS program Moyers Journal, partly funded by the U.S. government. Wright was glib and Moyers played the "innocent," apparently naïve (that puzzled look) at not knowing the "facts" behind Wright's life, church and his performances.

Moyers began the program by explaining that he, too, was a member of a church affiliated, like Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ, with the United Church of Christ denomination, but that he also attended Baptist-related Riverside Church in New York City. In 2007, he was advertised for some time as a main speaker in the Baptist-only speaker-lineup at the New Baptist Covenant Celebration concocted by former presidents Carter and Clinton and held in Atlanta earlier this year. Suddenly, Moyers had to be excused. Coincidentally, he was a main speaker at the annual United Church of Christ synod on 23 June 2007, when he mentioned his 40-year UCC-membership, making him, of course, actually not a Baptist at all. What did Carter and Clinton know and when did they know it? Moyers knew. So much for his honesty.

Wright was obsessed with the subject of slavery and, strangely, apartheid. He claimed that Americans, due to faulty public education (truth not taught), don't know about such things as M.L. King, Jr. or the "trail of tears" and made much of Psalm 137, dealing with the matter of revenge, claiming that God wants redemption while the people (his people, apparently) want revenge. He didn't mention from whom the Indians took their lands or the fact that Africans sold each other into slavery or the monstrous terroristic violence each group visited upon its enemies.

The usual good things mentioned when bad things or rantings are in evidence were enumerated with respect to what Wright's church does; however, those things are no different from the ministries of many mega-churches and smaller churches throughout the country. Wright's history and education were touched-on – son and grandson of ministers, military experience, education, even a clip of Wright as an attendant (navy medic) when president Johnson had his gall bladder operation in the 60s.

Wright blamed the "corporate media" for its spreading of disinformation, apparently referring to its constant use of the "sound-bites" of his anti-American, white-hating rants. However, one of his most revealing statements was made in answer to Moyers' reminder that Barack Obama had said harsh and repudiating things about Wright's rants, to wit, that…well, Obama is a politician while Wright is a pastor. Translation: Politicians lie and pastors tell the truth.

Wright explained the emphasis of the church on maintaining the African nature of its congregants. Moyers did not ask about the church's documented self-description: "We are an African people, and remain 'true to our native land,' the mother continent, the cradle of civilization." He could have asked what "true to our native land" means, but he didn't, obviously for good reason. Wright did get in a plug for the Honorable Minister Louis (Calypso Louie) Farrakhan, rabid anti-Semite and head of the Nation of Islam, with whom he made a visit to consult with Libya's terrorist President Qadaffi in 1984.

Moyers made a damning mistake – unbelievable, actually, since the whole program was designed to vindicate Wright's racist hate-mongering rants. He used some of the "sound-bite" clips in their context, meaning, for instance, that he produced Wright in his almost hysterical frenzy as he built up to his repeated "God Damn America" phrases in the "chickens-coming-home" sermon on the Sunday after 9/11, during which the congregation was up and clapping and apparently celebrating the events of that day. He brought in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, but Moyers didn't ask him about the millions of lives saved through those actions – both Japanese and American.

But even in the "context thing," Moyers let Wright off the hook. He didn't ask Wright for the evidence of Wright's monstrous accusation, well documented, that the U.S. government plagued African Americans with HIV/AIDS, apparently to get rid of them. Wright, the keynote speaker at its convention in 2007, is a darling of the National Coalition of Blacks for Reparations in America (N'COBRA). Moyers didn't ask Wright about this connection because Wright makes no bones about the country "owing" him and his.

Moyers didn't ask Wright about his allusion in one (probably more than one) of his sermons concerning the "Tuskegee Experiment," in which the government used black men as guinea pigs to study syphilis, without their knowledge. The reason: Tuskegee, a black college, was firmly in favor of and a part of that "experiment," even sending its pre-med students – all black – through the exercise that went on for decades, starting in the 30s.

The ancillary goal of the interview was, of course, the separation of Barack Obama from anything un-American by making Wright, his acknowledged mentor and spiritual adviser, appear as an America-loving "prophet" preaching to the people, like Isaiah of old. It didn't wash. Moyers should never have played those clips. They made Wright appear as just one step away from hysteria in his racist denunciations of this country, spouting untruths or half-truths and revving up his parishioners into spasms of hatred. This will come back to haunt Obama, and Wright seems determined to keep himself in the public eye, thus continuing the haunting.

On 27 April in another speech or sermon, Wright mentioned that now a black woman might or will sleep in the White House…legally. How indelicate can a man of the cloth be?

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Famous Psyche Debate

What a delicious episode of reality-check the recent democrat debate (okay, the political version of "American Idol," of which show I admit only a knowledge gained through media descriptions/putdowns) in Philadelphia was! It represented an effort by ABC guys Gibson and Stephanopoulos to get beyond the personas to the "real thems" of Senators Clinton and Obama, who have been away from the Senate for so long that they may need help eventually in finding their offices and readjusting to the arduous task of legislating, most notably that segment having to do with earmarks. In the process, perhaps they will then re-discover their actual selves…or something like that.

That G and S did a rather thorough bloodletting concerning his psyche was noted by Obama as he whined in North Carolina the next day about not being asked a question of substance for 45 minutes. The mainstream media folks – at least most of them, it seems – chimed in with various and assorted castigations of the two ABCers, though one wonders if the TV audience of some 10.7 million, second only to the other ABC-produced debate in January of 9.3 million viewers, was not their main motivation, competition among the media prima donnas being what it is – nasty.

The two wily presidential combatants were forced to admit that either of them could win the election in November, but each said he/she was more equal than the other. That was dirty pool by the interrogators, but the principals had nothing to complain about since they agreed to the two hours of competition with commercials.

Having to compete with the likes of cures for erectile dysfunction or athlete's feet or the lure of big bucks through some fund or other is bound to bring out the best in candidates and let them show their advanced positions of prestige (or is that prestidigitation?) to the whole country. It would have been more fun if the candidates had had to play fair with the medicinal/ecstacy commercials by listing the possible harmful side-effects of their presidencies, but that might have taken all night.

Obama suffered the greatest harm from the deadly arrows of elitism-explanation since he had just announced to the partygoers at what he thought was a "closed-door" fundraiser in San Francisco (where else) that small-towners, translated as most everybody in Pennsylvania, were bitter people marked by their crawling into the shell of religion and clasping their firearms to their bosoms while eying suspiciously all those immigrants stalking the land. Did he mean they had righteous retribution in their souls, marked by redneck ignorance of the outside world?

The most delicious irony of the evening was furnished by Stephanopoulos when he asked Hillary about her episode with the ungrateful Serb snipers attempting a contract on her and daughter Chelsea. After all, Georgie-boy was the big-shot glamour guy in the first four years of Bill Clinton's White House; therefore, such an embarrassing question made him look terribly unappreciative/disrespectful of the former queen (some say scourge) of the White House. Or…was he just getting even?

Clinton was caught in the crossfire (no pun intended) between truth and consequence and soon into her explanation of the totally unexplainable mentioned that, after all, General Wesley Clark (NATO commander), was in Bosnia in 1996, too…and VOILA!…was even in the audience. She didn't, of course, mention his disobeyed order to a British officer that might have precipitated WWIII (the Russians on the other side) if carried out or his removal into retirement a couple months later and his presidential bid even later. Hillary repeated her apology for…well…for lying. Maybe she should consider writing a suspense novel, something like The Bosnia Protocol, since only someone with her superb imagination could have concocted her oft-repeated memoir of 1996.

Obama was, of course, stuck with the dear Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, his steadfast friend and spiritual mentor (okay, until recently) and sainted pastor of his church and perhaps the inventor of the new black-liberation-theology slogan "God Damn America," perhaps soon to be made into a hymn. He hemmed and hawed and tried to explain away his now 21-year connection with the guy who declared that the government had smitten the African-American community with HIV/AIDS, and had been called for its sins on 9/11.

Actually, Obama got off easily. Gibson could have asked him to define the "typical white person" to which or whom he alluded in his now famous Philadelphia oration on Race. At that time, using his grandmother as an example, he seemed to explain that the typical white person is just leery of all the folks around him or her. Coupled with his latest description, i.e., the typical small-towner holding his shotgun at the ready if it becomes necessary to deal with an immigrant, he could have elaborated but was not required to do so. Pity! Ducking his well-documented relationship with former Weather Underground bomber/idiot William Ayers when questioned about it was all but impossible…and Obama proved that.

Kudos to the ABC gang-of-2 for finally delving into the psyches of Clinton and Obama! They're like the Bobbsey twins on the issues…no difference in accelerating this country into a pernicious socialism. Both promise, as well, to get the troops out of Iraq, come hell or high water, by yesterday, if not sooner. These facts have been known for a year, so the time had come to look into the personalities to discover their credibility…and it wasn't pretty. Hillary – in the Clinton tradition – requires a "suspension of belief" (her address to General Petraeus) when she announces anything, even the time of day. Barack is glib, elitist, out of touch with "real people," and ambitious to a fault. They certainly are equal-opportunity losers to McCain.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

The Rev. Dr. Wright & the BIG LIE

In a funeral oration on 12 April, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, recently departed from candidate Barack Obama's official campaign, said "America’s mistreatment of blacks is the result of the founding fathers, who 'planted slavery and white supremacy in the DNA of this republic,'" according to Fox News. Wright has also claimed that the current fathers (okay, the founders' progeny) have planted HIV/AIDS in the republic's African-American DNA, so he has a perfect score in defining various types of DNA, but hasn't yet discovered his own disease – "hoof-in-mouth."

Wright is joined at the hip with the reparations crowd that feeds on the black liberation theology of Union Theological Seminary Professor James Cone, a fundamental of which is that African Americans are entitled to a place at the public trough because their forebears were slaves, notwithstanding the fact that no white American born since at least 1850 has had anything to do with slavery.

Slavery per se was the linchpin of all economies since the beginning of commerce right into the 20th century throughout the world, so its existence in this country was just a part of the overall economic system and was vital, particularly, to the agrarian economy of the southern colonies. Thousands of so-called Native-Americans were also pressed into slavery. John Wesley published in 1774 (Thoughts Upon Slavery) some interesting facts about how slaves were procured, particularly as Africans sold each other to the traders, and the picture was not pretty. It was never right, of course, but it was a fact of life, and there's enough blame to go around for its institution and maintenance.

Wright's assertion that the "founding fathers" planted slavery in this country constitutes a lie and he should recant. Slaves were introduced into Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619, at which time Jamestown and all other parts of the eastern seaboard constituted a part of the British Empire/Monarchy, though the first slaves were discharged from a Dutch trader. This was 113, 116, 132, and 124 years, respectively, before even the births of founders Washington, Adams, Madison, and Jefferson. So…the founders did not introduce slavery. They simply inherited it in both the northern and southern colonies.

A time-period of 170 years elapsed while slavery was operated under the British in the colonies, both north and south, before the United States was founded in 1789. It took only 19 more years before slave-importation was outlawed by Congress in 1808. Slavery was abolished altogether 74 years after the founders did their work as more than 360,000 Union soldiers, nearly all of them white, gave their lives in the process, fighting their brothers in many cases during the Civil War.

The abolition of slavery did not abolish both prejudice and racism, endemic to all races, notwithstanding the constant drumbeat in both the African-American and intellectual communities in this country that it occurs only among white people. In a sort of strange way, it can even be explained with regard to the South in that some 258,000 southern white men also lost their lives in the Civil War, as well as their livelihoods in many cases. So, the African American became a symbol of sorts with regard to their horrendous losses, and this symbol amounted then and even now to hatred.

The loss of some 618,000 mostly white men in the Civil War, two percent of the entire population, was bound to leave scars throughout the nation and some of those scars obtain today. Concerning today's population figure of some 300 million, that circumstance would amount to the loss of nearly six million lives, virtually all, white men. When observed in these terms, it isn't hard to understand why many white people feel as they do with regard to prejudice, especially in the South, where southerners' forbears were totally devastated both physically and commercially in many huge areas (Sherman's march to the sea, for instance). The prejudice isn't right, but it's a fact of life and part of human nature in all races, including blacks.

The Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright is a selective historian or maybe not a historian at all when he accuses the founders of introducing slavery and, of course, doing nothing about it. As he tells it today – that white supremacy and HIV/AIDS thing – white people are holding down his race. He would have had a point in many areas between 1865 and 1960, not because of slavery but because of discrimination normally to be expected after a national catharsis of the dimensions of the Civil War. Beginning in the 1950s, continuing hugely into the 1960s, and right up to now, national and local lawmakers (mostly white), elected by the people (mostly white), have done about everything imaginable to legally make up for lost time with respect to African-American opportunities, even to the point of having to answer for "reverse discrimination."

This is not enough for the Rev. Dr. Wright – he demands cash payouts. So…who gets the money? The great influx of European/Asian immigrants from the 1840s on had nothing to do with slavery, and their heirs of today not only owe nobody anything but actually have records and pictures of their beloved forebears who died or were wounded in that hideous conflict of the 1860s. My paternal great-grandfather's family made it to the U.S. in 1857 just in time for him and his two older brothers to fight in the Union Army, as did my wife's great-grandfather, though none of them had to do it, being from the "border state" of Kentucky. Great-grandfather was wounded once, had terrible disease once, and finally merited a pension.

This is the other side of the "reparations" coin. In 1960, about 75% of African-American households in that time of discrimination were headed by parents, a husband and wife. Currently, 70% of African-American babies are illegitimate – no fathers of record. So…about 70-75% of black families are headed now by a single mother or grandmother or other relative. Many of the undocumented fathers are in jails and penitentiaries. With all the civil-rights acts in place, did black men simply ignore them and decide not to work?

The voices speaking out to lead the black community out of the wilderness it's created itself are not those like Rev. Dr. Wright's. Like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, he preaches the "victimhood" message. The voices of reason belong to high-profile African-American intellectuals like Bill Cosby, Thomas Sowell, Shelby Steele, and Walter Williams, who make the case that African-American men will either get their acts together or doom their race to welfare status from now on. White supremacists are not the enemies of Wright and other African Americans – his own people are.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, April 13, 2008

C & O - Faux Pas & Lies?

Recently, Bill Clinton stepped forward to say that his wife's totally fabricated remarks about being caught in a sniper attack in Afghanistan were simply the result of late-night tiredness as speech-sabotage, though one finds it hard to understand how she could make up a yarn like that outside of being on LSD. Timothy Leary, the psychedelic guru of the last century might have come up with something like that while on a "trip" to La-La-Land via the ecstasy drug, but a hard day at the campaigning is not likely to make one hallucinate enough to make up a yarn like Hillary's. Nor does it make her campaign-ad affirmation that she could handle any problem at three a.m., no matter how serious, seem other than hilariousl.

Actually, she practiced that bit of melodrama in other speeches not delivered at night and only discovered her "misspeak" after films were produced that showed her Afghanistan "sniper-attack" to be led by about an eight-year-old sniper of the female persuasion backed up by the president of Bosnia and a welcoming committee whose members did not seem unduly alarmed by the snipers firing at the senator and her daughter Chelsea. Maybe she thought that if she told that lie often enough it would take root.

"And it's not surprising then they [small-town people] get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustration." Naw…Hillary didn't say that, so she doesn't need for Bill to launch into an explanation about the dangers of late-night oratory. In fact, on the basis of the Bill Clinton Syndrome (lie as knee-jerk reaction when in doubt), she should tell the big lummox to boogie off the campaign trail and stop exemplifying what another Clinton White House would be like.

Actually, Barack Obama delivered that bit of wisdom at a fund-raiser in California (where else), probably never dreaming that anybody would tell since it was a closed-door affair – translated as only well-heeled Hollywood-types with cranial vacuums welcome. This sorta rules out the small-towners. One supposes that Michelle Obama will now come forward and do what any good candidate's spouse would do – use the spin cycle to expunge an insult from a remark.

In the process, she can reiterate her profound "pride in this country" as actuated – finally – in her adulthood by the prospects of an Obama White House, where she can be the "reigning Hillary." In South Carolina (lots of black voters there), Ms Obama said this country is "downright mean," has "gotten worse over my lifetime," and "I'm young. Forty-four." Since those first three gems of wisdom might be expected from a high school sophomore, she probably told her age to prove that she actually is in her adulthood instead of in the junior varsity cheerleading squad figuring the best ways to flash her navel at the boys.

It's the middle-class folks who live in those little towns, the very same folks Obama says he will turn into instant – if not millionaires – at least folks who will all own their own houses, maybe a car for each occupant 16 or older and a job always quadrupling minimum wage, no matter how high it gets. He and Clinton are wailing with consistency about the government's ignoring of the middle-class (where the most votes are) and blaming those folks (like them) who make "big money" for all the troubles in the world…even global warming that Al Gore has said will end the Polar Bear forever.

It's hard to know what Obama meant by middle-class folks (or at least small-town folks, however he categorizes them) clinging to their guns. He said those folks are bitter, so does he believe that being bitter entitles a bitter person to take up arms and go looking for the characters who made them bitter, with a bit of revenge on their minds? Or did he mean that they're clinging to their guns so no one or no institution can snatch them away (that 2nd Amendment thing)? As was the case in the old radio show of yesteryear, "Only the shadow knows." Now, it probably would be, "Only the spin will show." Sounds like great television, actually. It could be called the "Far-out Wing," something like the "West Wing" with spinmeisters always at the ready.

Clinging to religion? In light of the furor generated by Obama's pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright (God Damn America), why would Obama even mention religion? Of course, mentioning it in California is safe enough, but didn't he know that someone would tattle to a buddy in Iowa? Jeremiah might be big stuff to the "closed door" crowd, but, as Jeremiah himself might put it in the most sophisticated ebonics, he ain't nothin' nohow to the mistreated middle-class but just another Uncle Tom.

Ah…those clinging-vine middle-class leeches hanging on to "antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustration!" Okay, just days after he delivers what the liberals consider the greatest speech since M.L. King's "I Have a Dream" oration in 1968, also a "Rodney King Can't We All Get Along" speech, Obama accuses the small-towners of antipathy, defined as "settled aversion or dislike," to people. What people? He didn't say. He just said those clingers to guns and religion don't like other people, and that sounds ominous. Maybe he thinks the Klan is still in Pennsylvania, religious antipathies, armed and dangerous.

Obviously, both Clintons and both Obamas suffer that mechanical mental malaise sometimes called the "failure to get their brains in gear before letting out the clutch on their tongues." On the basis of these outright lies and/or total lapses in judgment, one shudders to think that either democrat candidate could actually accede to the White House. Of course, a revving tongue might be better than a brain that's stripped a gear.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Ky. Education Full of Fat!

It seems that some sort of "advocacy group" that represents most of Kentucky's school superintendents is warning that because of the legislature's stringent budget allocations there will have to be layoffs of teachers. The head of the group, Council for Better Education, is Marion County Superintendent Roger Marcum, who, according to the Lexington Herald-Leader of 08 April, is considering cutting the number of employees who work with special-education students. His PR expertise is not the best, apparently.

UK President Todd has announced a 9% tuition hike, representing cumulative increases of intolerable increments over the last decade. The UK staff is upset because no raises are to be given its members, thus a greater thrust for union representation is the inevitable consequence. This could bring online a local union of 10,000 members, and the UK staff-administration structure would never be the same or as efficient.

The educators apparently have given no thought to cuts in spending or streamlining their operations or just doing what a family does when income dictates priorities. Superintendent Marcum and President Todd could probably cut enough fat from their operations to actually raise expectations. Since the advent of KERA, education achievement, if anything, has regressed, but even before that "reform" was enacted school systems were adding counselors, assistant principals, teachers' aides, and unnecessary programs at an alarming clip, notwithstanding that U.S. education was just fine – actually much better as compared to the rest of the world – before all these "improvements," especially the non-academic ones.

It's ironic that the legislators have actually been considering labor-intensive kindergarten programs for 4-year-olds, a totally unneeded plaything. Parents can either take care of their 4s at home or place them in day-care centers, now being done anyway, and certainly not expect all the taxpayers to support what amounts to baby-sitting, never mind the silly talk that the little dears will get behind if they aren't regimented earlier. Traditional students read as well as Head-start students by grade four, if not much sooner, so starting kids earlier makes no sense. Success is a factor of teaching acuity, not age. The following paragraphs were written in January:

"Instead of just acceding to the education gurus in their demands for more money, perhaps it would be wise to determine how well they use the funds already available. In a help-wanted advertisement in the Lexington Herald-Leader of last fall, there was this job description advanced by the Kentucky Community and Technical College System: System Director, Office of Cultural Diversity. Job description: Provides leadership and support for new and existing initiatives relating to diversity and cultural matters. Collaborates with colleges and others in the evaluation and implementation of diversity related initiatives.

The person filling this job was required to have a Master’s degree plus five years related leadership and administrative experience or equivalent. In other words, this was a relatively high-paying job, complete with office staff, myriad machines and all the rest.

What is an office of cultural diversity, especially in a two-year, junior-college/industrial-trades milieu, which has to do with academic or skill-related achievement? Since this office was concerned with diversity-related initiatives (whatever they are), there was no indication that it had anything to do with either academics or skills. The point: Tens of thousands of dollars are soaked up by this enterprise described as involving diversity and culture, both of which are quite well defined in the dictionary and seem hardly worthy of treatment on the college level.

If cultural diversity is accounted as an academic matter, it reminds of the craze some two-three decades ago to establish college/university departments of women’s studies and African-American studies, with graduates in those fields empowered to do little more than become teachers in those fields, thus continuing the craze…and possibly knowing a good thing when they see it. As a practical matter, how do experts in either field impact the society other than with pronouncements?"

The point: Until the education establishment across the board gets its cost-cutting, belt-tightening act together and does what every other department in the state is forced to do, the taxpayers have a right to revolt.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Brite & Wright

In late March, an event honoring the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright was scheduled to take place at Brite Divinity School, a seminary aligned with the Disciples of Christ denomination and located on the campus of Texas Christian University. In light of the massive publicity occasioned by Wright's close association with presidential candidate Obama and constantly presented by the media with regard to his hate-speech in his sermons, the governing body of TCU informed Brite that the event could not take place on campus. It was canceled, as were other Wright-events in Florida and Houston that week.

Besides all the more familiar Wright-rants that have been in the news (God Damn America, for instance), here is a snippet from his sermon at Chicago's Trinity United Church of Christ on 27 January 2008: "I can't be a colored coon on the faculty at Vanderbilt with no sense of pride. And I can't be a Supreme Court judge called long dong silver who disrespects black women and himself. I got to be me. I can't be a lyin' five-star general who leads an entire nation into war on a lie. And I can't be a sec of state who goes shopping on Broadway while folks are drowning in New Orleans--I got to be me." It's easy to get the point, though as a factual matter there hasn't been a five-star general since the Dwight Eisenhower era, and even then no general of any number of stars led the nation into a war.

As an apologetic/explanation, Brite President D. Newell Williams felt compelled to make a representation of the school's stance via e-mail and addressed simply to "Friends" to call attention to an Op-ed piece of 23 March 2008 in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram and a church-bulletin-insert on the subject, which was attached. He presented a number of points, beginning with this: "1.We find it important to remember that biblical prophets in Hebrew scripture such as Amos, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, as well as Jesus himself demonstrate well that religious leadership includes the obligation to "speak truth to power" whenever and wherever we see such power exercised in opposition to God's vision for the human community."

Notwithstanding that clerics (or at least preachers) generally consider themselves to be today's biblical prophets, using as the primary prophet-definition "one who utters divinely inspired revelations," Williams seemed a bit presumptuous in lumping Wright with the Old Testament prophets and unseemly in comparing him to Christ. OT prophets did speak truth to power since they were the spiritual proclaimers in a theocracy and thus spoke to power (a life-or-death matter) when they spoke at all. The government and the religious were tied at the hip. As a slave to the Romans, Jesus also spoke to power every time he spoke anywhere, since his words could (and did) condemn him.

Wright did not speak truth to power, since he did not address the state in his sermons, but only spoke to his congregants. If he had made a presentation to the president or the Supreme Court, he might have spoken something to power, though not necessarily the truth. If President Williams considers Wright as speaking the truth to anything when he ascribed to the U.S. government the conscious act of infecting African Americans with HIV/AIDS, he appears to either agree with Wright or have the worst possible instincts concerning public relations.

Williams again: "2. Prophetic speech must not be confused with hate speech. Perhaps the outcomes of the two types of speech are the most helpful way to differentiate the two. Hate speech demeans, divides, and dehumanizes… prophetic speech seeks to move the hearers back to or closer to loving relationship with God and neighbor." Does Williams believe that Wright was prophetically advancing love when he referred to a Supreme Court Justice by his genitals? Clarence Thomas was thoroughly demeaned and dehumanized by that loathsome reference, so Wright was indulging hate speech; but would Williams obviously consider that reference to be spoken (more likely screamed) in a spirit of love that will help neighbor Thomas to love Jeremiah Wright and God? Egad!

More Williams: "4. Unfortunately the media sound bytes excerpted out of context from a few of Dr. Wright's sermons fail to represent faithfully the way in which his sermons are decidedly in the prophetic tradition and not hate speech." When sound bytes are as clear-cut and gratuitous as the damnation in one short segment of a university professor, Supreme Court Justice, a military general, and secretary of state, the speaker has caricatured himself into a mindless ass and the context is totally irrelevant. I heard many of Wright's sermons when they were televised on national cable a few years ago, and can testify to his proclivity to castigate white Americans, though he is a gifted preacher.

Williams's wrap-up: "5. Finally, as we have tried to say in many occasions, good people of faith and intelligence may and do differ about matters such as the issues Dr. Wright has raised, and we trust that such differences will not divide Christ's church." Williams's third point had to do with freedom of speech and the fact that folks should not consider Wright, a former Marine, as unpatriotic. Point taken. However, Wright, in a sermon, condemned the USA for the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, consensually agreed by the military planners as saving one million American GIs in WWII while sacrificing some 220,000 Japanese (instead of the multiple millions in an invasion), and so can be fairly accused of being anti-American or just plain dumb.

Williams has done what Obama tried to do in his Philadelphia "speech on race," namely somehow vindicate Wright, even to the point of vilifying his own grandmother, who raised him and put him in a position to be successful. It doesn't wash, and most Americans know this.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Sunday, April 06, 2008

The Rev. Dr. Wright & Tuskegee

One of the instances of injustice mentioned by the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, during which tenure he was Barack Obama's pastor for 20 years, had to do with the "Tuskegee experiment," having to do with the government's program to determine the effects of syphilis on African-American men over a period stretching from about 1932 to 1972. In the 1920s it was observed that the disease was prevalent among 35 percent of those of reproductive-age population.

An aggressive treatment approach was initiated with mercury and bismuth, with a cure-rate less than 30 percent and the treatment requiring months and involving side effects that were toxic, sometimes fatal. The subjects were not infected with the disease by the government but were not significantly therapeutically treated, either, nor were they informed of their status as guinea pigs; rather, they were intentionally misled and the objective was to follow the subjects until they died. By any standard, this was inhumane, totally reprehensible.

In 1974, after the whistle had been blown publicly about this huge atrocity, a $10 million out-of-court settlement was reached regarding the victims, and the U.S. government promised to give lifetime medical benefits and burial services to all living participants. The Tuskegee Health Benefit Program (THBP) was established to provide these services. In 1975, wives, widows and offspring were added to the program and in 1995 the program was expanded to include health as well as medical benefits. Inevitably, wives and children also suffered the ravages of the disease because they and the subjects were kept in the dark.

Wright had justification for calling attention to this injustice, though his assertions that the government has consciously afflicted African Americans with HIV/AIDS, apparently in order to get rid of them, is totally without foundation, just as any assertion that the government infected the Tuskegee victims would have been. As it was, the Tuskegee matter was bad enough, not much removed from Hitler's scientists working their experiments upon the Jews during the World War II era.

Wright's objective in much of his ranting, including the references to slavery, Hiroshima and Nagasaki (white Americans as mass murderers) and the current rule of white supremacists, is to lay a guilt trip on white Americans and therefore demand some sort of reparations for slavery. It is notable that the Tuskegee reparations as well as those to the Japanese interned in this country during WWII were made well within the generations of the afflicted by the government immediately responsible for the damages. This was not the case with post-Civil War slavery, so there is no comparison there. No one living now or even in recent times has or had anything to do with slavery.

Regarding guilt, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, part of the U.S. Dept. of Health and Human Services, has this in its timeline concerning the Tuskegee matter:

"1932: Follow-up effort organized into study of 399 men with syphilis and 201 without. The men would be given periodic physical assessments and told they were being treated. Motin [president of Tuskegee and an African American] agrees to support study if 'Tuskegee gets its full share of the credit' and black professionals are involved (Dr. Dibble and Nurse Rivers are assigned to study)."

This damning part of the Tuskegee effort is obvious on its face and means just what it says, to wit, that fellow African Americans were part of the atrocious process and actually wanted recognition for their part in this inhumane treatment, something which the Rev. Dr. Wright has probably never mentioned. This goes to the point regarding slavery with regard to its initiation, to wit, that blacks in Africa sold fellow blacks to slave-traders. The victims just happened to be the losers in tribal fights. The notion that the traders went off into the jungles to capture slaves is too far-fetched to even consider. They probably wouldn't have lasted a month.

This is another item from the CDC timeline: "1962: Beginning in 1947, 127 black medical students are rotated through unit doing the study." This is hard to believe. Doctors take the Hippocratic Oath, part of which is: "I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures [that] are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism." The very effort through which these young doctors-to-be were rotated gives the lie to this oath. This also points to the fact that free African Americans in the pre-Civil War era also owned black slaves.

There's no intention here to form an apologetic for an atrocity that defies understanding; rather, this is simply to suggest that when blame is being assigned, care should be taken to make it an equal-opportunity affair if the facts so demand. It's hard to believe that the Rev. Dr. Wright has not been in possession of these facts. The preponderance of blame may or may not be fairly attached to whites as represented by the government's actions, but the complicity of well-educated African Americans should not go unnoted.

There's plenty of blame/shame to go around in this matter and both Wright and Barack Obama should take some pain to set the record straight, now that Wright has made the Tuskegee affair so public and Obama has attempted to vindicate him (that "race" speech) vis-à-vis his unconscionable lies or, as in this case, not telling the whole truth.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Daniel Schorr & NATO

National Public Radio, partially funded by the U.S. Government, has long been known as a liberal organization though it probably achieves more balance than that for which it is credited. Its program All Things Considered has as its political guru Daniel Schorr, now in his 90s and just as acerbic as a sharp-tongued far-left liberal as ever. He pontificated the other day about NATO, concluding by stating that the organization has no clear mission or sense of unity – predictable stuff from Schorr.

It helps to understand Schorr by remembering that he was an operative until 1976 of CBS, the same network that gave us Dan Rather in 2004…enough said. Schorr came into possession of the Pike Congressional Committee's report on illegal CIA and FBI activities back in the 70s. Congress, however, had voted not to make the report public. In hopes of being able to publish the report Schorr contacted Clay Felker of the Village Voice, who agreed to pay him for it and to publish it, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications.

To Schorr's surprise, instead of supporting him many of his colleagues and editorialists around the country excoriated him for selling the document. Making matters worse was Schorr's initial reaction, which was to shift suspicion from himself as the person who leaked the documents to his CBS colleague Leslie Stahl (still around on CBS 60-Minutes program). Sound familiar? In the aftermath of Rather's outright dishonesty in 2004, his neck was not among those four that fell to the journalistic guillotine, though Schorr was forced out at CBS in 1976 after he pulled his sneaky financial bonanza and Rather was eventually forced out as well. Perhaps it didn't occur to Schorr that people's lives can be endangered by actions such as his, but then, would it have mattered?

NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) came online with 12 member-countries in 1949 primarily as the force that would keep the Soviet Union from further expansion. It now includes 26 nations, nearly all in Europe, with both Ukraine and Georgia also seeking membership, understandable since the Putin era in what is now just Russia seems inclined toward the old ways marked by the KGB, in which Vladimir Putin was an operator in other years. In the current meeting this week, Albania and Croatia have also been invited to join NATO.

Schorr mentioned a sort of expedient in NATO, to wit, "keep America in, Russia out, and Germany down." The key, of course, is that Russia and Germany, the countries shedding the blood of tens of millions of innocents in the 20th century, will be held at bay as long as the USA is the glue that holds the NATO countries together and, more importantly, has the determination and firepower to ward off all threats. He also mentioned Defense Secretary Gates' remarks about the NATO members who share the load while others are free riders. So…there isn't always an aura of togetherness in the organization, but, just as in a family, keeping an eye on the goal is enough to force cooperation when the chips are down.

Schorr has reported from all over the world and, being born in 1916, was well aware of the atrocities toward his Jewish race committed by a lot of countries in the last century, but mostly by Russia and Germany. What he's bound to understand is that the United Nations is woefully weak in carrying out one of its goals – keeping the peace and guarding against genocide.

It was NATO in the 90s, not the UN, that made some sort of order out of the chaos in the former Yugoslavia by first acting militarily, especially regarding Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosovo, thus virtually stopping the ethnic-cleansing carried out by the Serbs. The main player, of course, was the USA, which had the airpower to help the Serbs see the light. NATO, not the UN, provided the bulk of the first peacekeeping force in the former and still provides the peacekeepers in the latter.

The peacekeepers in Afghanistan now are NATO troops, not those furnished by the UN. Schorr knows this, of course, just as he knows the history of all Eastern Europe, including the above-mentioned, and was at one time the head of CBS News in Moscow. He opened the office in 1955 but after returning to the states for a short time in 1957 was not allowed reentry by the Soviets. They'd apparently had enough of him.

According to Fox News, President Bush won NATO's endorsement this week for his plan to build a missile defense system in Europe over Russian objections. The proposal also advanced with Czech officials announcing an agreement to install a missile-tracking site for the system in their country. The Russians have been invited to join in this effort, obviously to protect against missiles from the Middle East, but have declined. The plan also calls for 10 interceptor missiles based in Poland.

So…why would Schorr say that NATO has no clear mission or sense of unity? Well…why did he actually sell secret documents? Perhaps the answer lies in the fact that Schorr is just an opportunist and/or grumpy old curmudgeon. Being on NPR allows him a sort of unique notoriety. Maybe he just doesn't like this government. After all, it continues to consider NATO a very important part of the world's machinery…and he doesn't.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Friday, April 04, 2008

Religiously Speaking, of Course!

There's been a strange interest in making things "spiritual" during the current presidential campaign. The three candidates still standing have not been shy about speaking of their various faiths, though they've kept their pronouncements relatively low-key. Senators Clinton, Obama and McCain worship, respectively, in the Methodist, United Church of Christ and Baptist traditions.

There's been some variation, of course, since Obama's religion became a campaign issue because of the unbelievable rants of his pastor, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, recently retired from Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago. Obama, in his 20-year association with him, presumably heard some of the things Wright preached, but had never made any public statements about them until Wright's performances began appearing all over the Internet and in the print media, as well.

Obama, instead of simply denouncing Wright's sayings, such as the one about the U.S. government somehow (he didn't say how) afflicting the African-American community with HIV/Aids, chose to make a speech on the subject of race but, of course, actually made a speech about…well, virtually nothing. He attempted to explain why Wright should feel compelled to make statements like the above, apparently not understanding that Wright has been quite successful in his chosen field and has not suffered from AIDS or anything else that can be accounted as purposeful persecution by the government. The speech was a feel-good-can't-we-all-get-along exercise…nothing new. The ladies swooned and the men shrugged.

The spiritual angle appeared early in the campaign as Obama was accorded a messianic bearing by both blacks and whites, at least in the Democrat Party, sort of compared to that of Jesus Christ as a historical figure and Savior for Christians, as well as a future Deliverer for Jews, in their case a sort of Moses-figure leading his people out of bondage. The bubble was burst a bit when he appeared on a zany TV show called The View to be told by septuagenarian Barbara Walters that he was sexy. A sexy Messiah? Eat your heart out, Moses. Obama also did the shimmy or some such hip-swinger with Ellen, the networks' current star lesbian, but she didn't have a "Samaritan woman at the well" experience.

Deborah was an Old Testament judge over Israel who accompanied Barak, her general, and 10,000 warriors to the battlefield one day, the upshot being an overwhelming victory over General Sisera and his army, which included, besides his infantry, 900 iron chariots. Sisera, seeing an untimely end, fled and took refuge in the house of a lady named Jael, who slaked his thirst and made him comfortable but while he was asleep drove a spike (okay, a tent peg) through his head with a nine-pound hammer, just like legendary John Henry building railroads.

Question: Is Clinton a type of Deborah or Jael? She has said that she's as ready as a Deborah-type to do a Jael-number on any force on earth if her presidential phone rings at 3:00 a.m. on the very day of her inauguration but that Obama would be more like a Jonah ensconced inside a whale without a clue as to how to get out. Clinton also did the usual Leno-number, announcing that she was afraid she might have to dodge sniper fire on the way in…talk about bad form.

It's become normal for candidates to make fools of themselves in weird ways. Hillary went on the Ellen clambake, too, recognizing that outlet as the epitome of sophistication and therefore worthy of her presence. She said something to Ellen about the "boys" out to get her, making herself more like Salome, with the seven veils and the demand for the head of John-the-Baptist, which she got. Maybe that was her warning to Barack and John. After all, she survived when Monica played Delilah to Bill's Samson.

So…what about John McCain, spiritually, that is? Perhaps he's the senior edition of a young David, who, with a mere slingshot, put out the lights of the giant Goliath, the Philistine Champion from Gath, and thus won the day for the Israelites…just like McCain, broke and flying coach last year, buried his well-heeled opposition with just a few flicks of the tongue. Of course, after David did his derring-do, his king, Saul, tried later to put out his lights, just like the quirky ultra-conservatives in his own party seem hell-bent on deep-sixing the former navy guy, who actually could be counted on at three a.m. to know what to do.

Yeah…the spiritual has come to the fore. Seriously, though, it's good to know these are folks of faith, notwithstanding the constant effort of outfits like the ACLU to take God out of America, as if any entity could do anything with God. The fact is that America is in God, the maker of it all – not the other way around – and nothing can remove its people or any other people of the world from God. Impossible!

And so it goes.

Jim Clark

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Race as Safe SPEECH

In the afterglow of Senator Obama's race-speech the other day, allegedly occasioned by the "racist sermons" over many years of his pastor and spiritual adviser, the Rev. Dr. Jeremiah Wright, the mainstream media has turned Obama into a messianic giant in the field of human relations, having been sucked-in by the "forgiveness gimmick," i.e., Obama exonerating all the current-day guilty white folks for oppressing him and his folks for hundreds of years right up to now. While attempting to explain why the Reverend was naturally inclined to his vitriol, he even threw his own grandmother under the bus in order to accentuate his angelic attitude.

Obama had to make a speech, of course, since he not only had had a 20-year connection with Wright but as late as 2006, when his book Audacity of Hope was published, using a Wright term for its title, was hand-in-glove with that relationship and has remained so up till now. What Obama or his handlers understood (or should have) was that Wright's garbage actually was not racist; rather, it was couched in equal-opportunity hate speech directed toward groups as disparate as whites (that white supremacist thing), Jews (the mention of – gasp – Israel in that 2002 sermon), Italians (garlic-nosed), etc.

Obviously, Obama could not make a speech about hate, the actual problem he faced since he had listened for years to Wright's hate-mongering, apparently making no public denouncement of the vitriol, that other people were just discovering in Wright's sermons, but had to make some kind of speech, so he chose the subject of race since hate is often though not always a part of racism. Hate by association was also much in evidence with regard to Wright, since Trump, the magazine published/edited by his daughters (inaugurated years ago by Wright), had awarded its "Rev. Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr. Lifetime Achievement Trumpeteer Award" for 2007 to Jew-hater and Nation of Islam head-honcho, the Honorable Minister Louis Farrakhan (aka Calypso Louie), whom Wright accompanied in 1984 to Libya in order to genuflect at the feet of Qadaffi, the world's most notorious supporter of terrorism at the time. In 1988, his thugs brought down PanAm 203, with 270 murdered. Qadaffi pledged $1 billion to the Nation of Islam in 1996 but that didn't bother the award-givers.

There was a further problem but it could not be broached for fear of appearing hopelessly politically incorrect, namely, Obama's "religion problem." Jeremiah Wright is currently the highest-profile minister in the 1.2-million-member United Church of Christ, thus, even if untrue, marking that denomination as one of hate. This means that, instead of a speech on race, Obama should have made a speech about his denomination and the hate-inspired influence it might exert over his performance in office.

This would have been nothing new. In 1964, John F. Kennedy felt compelled in his presidential bid to make a speech declaring his complete independence from the Pope, since JFK was a Roman Catholic at a time when there was great fear of "Romishness" in this country. Indeed, Congressman Father Drinan was ordered by the Pope much later to leave the Congress, and he obeyed (giving the world Barney Frank in the bargain). In 2007, Mitt Romney felt compelled during his campaign to make a speech regarding Mormonism (Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints) since he was a member of that denomination that once approved polygamy and was marked by a great deal of bloodshed in the 1800s.

But, alas, there was problem with making a speech about the United Church of Christ. In 2005 at its 25th General Synod, the UCC delivered itself of this resolution: "THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED, that the twenty-fifth General Synod of the United Church of Christ affirms equal marriage rights for couples regardless of gender and declares that the government should not interfere with couples regardless of gender who choose to marry and share fully and equally in the rights, responsibilities and commitment of legally recognized marriage."

This was the score in 2004: Thirty-nine states already prohibited gay and lesbian couples from marrying with laws modeled after the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Passed by Congress in 1996, the federal DOMA bars federal recognition of same-sex marriages and allows states to ignore gay marriages performed elsewhere. Four states (Maryland, New Hampshire, Wisconsin and Wyoming) had laws or court rulings prohibiting same-sex marriage that predated the federal DOMA. Indeed, Six months after gay and lesbian couples began legally marrying in Massachusetts, opponents of same-sex marriage swept Election Day 2004, with voters in 11 states approving state constitutional amendments codifying marriage as an exclusively heterosexual institution.

Obviously, the last thing Obama would seem to need to do would be to make a speech defending his denomination since to do so would amount to emphasizing that virtually all the states are wrong in this area; however, this is by Laura Douglas-Brown from Southern Voice of 01 February 2008: "On marriage, Clinton has only said she supports repealing the section of DOMA that denies federal recognition to gay unions. Obama, however, supports repealing all of DOMA, including the section that allows states to refuse to recognize gay marriages performed in other states. He's spoken out against the measure since at least 2004." Obama campaigned for the Senate in 2004.

So…Obama was faced with having to make a speech reflecting both his and his denomination's approval of homosexual marriage, anathema to most normal Americans and against the law everywhere, or simply on the hate aspect brought to the surface by Wright, using either of which subjects to paint himself into a corner. The obvious way out was to make the speech on race, actually a non-issue that has been talked to death for decades and therefore is a safe issue…a win-win situation. Give him points for cleverness, but if he's the candidate in November, events in September and October will be very interesting, as all this is brought out, especially the disingenuousness of it.

And so it goes.

Jim Clark