March 19, 2008

Obama: It Looks Like There’s More Where Wright Came From (See Update 3 for Contrary View)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 4:47 pm

Barack Obama may have at least one additional “close religious adviser” to explain away.

At the very least, he was involved with one James Meeks before and during Obama’s 2004 Illinois US Senate run:

Obama’s closest religious advisers — Fr. (Michael) Pfleger, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ, and Illinois State Sen. James Meeks, who moonlights as the pastor of Chicago’s Salem Baptist Church – may have quotes from Scripture always handy, but are theologically closer to Karl Marx and black nationalism, than to Christianity.

….. According to State Sen./Rev. James Meeks’ humble, personal church Web page, “Meeks’ practical and charismatic style of instruction motivates the hearer to take action and has resulted in accomplishments of miraculous proportions.” When the good Senator/Reverend is not accomplishing miracles and other feats “never before documented in history,” he serves as the executive vice president of Jesse Jackson Sr.’s National Rainbow-Push Coalition.

Meeks, Meeks ….. where have I heard that name?

Ah yes, what a coincidence ….. I first heard about this guy during an all-night round-trip drive to Chicago in August 2006. The city’s all-news station was bringing up this Meeks guy every half-hour, prompting me to post the following (last item at link; paragraph breaks added today) on my return:

Chicago’s Mayor Dictator for Life Richard Daley apparently has a real live rival in the next election, an African-American pastor named Meeks, who is currently a state legislator. Apparently, in the course of criticizing the mayor and his handling of Chicago’s public schools (which the mayor essentially seized control of in the mid- or late-1990s), Meeks used the N-word (yeah, THAT N-word) in some fashion. Outrage ensued.

PASTOR(!) Meeks sort-of apologized for his use of the word, said he wouldn’t use it again, but said that his allegations about how the schools were being mismanaged were more important. (Fill in your own blank in this sentence — “If ___________ said this, his or her political life would be over” — On that basis, Meeks appears to be getting quite a pass.)

Mayor’s Dictator’s response was on the order of “That’s nice, but it should never have happened; however, it is nice that he has seen the light.” The genius of Daley, inherited from his father (who was on TV so much during the local newscasts in his heyday that he was essentially the co-anchor at all the stations) is that he NEVER, EVER misses an opportunity to get in front of a camera and say something reasonably memorable (note the pastoral play on words in response to Meeks) — which explains why, barring a scandal of earth-shattering proportions or his simply tiring of running the city, he is indeed Dictator for Life.

So what did the Rev. Meeks say? Sit down first:

Rev. James Meeks made an about face and promises now that he will never use a racial slur after setting off a firestorm when he used a slur in a sermon.

CBS 2 Political Editor Mike Flannery reports Meeks said the battle goes beyond language.

“I won’t use the word, but what about all of the ills that the word has caused society?” Meeks asked on WBBM Newsradio 780.

The chairman of the General Assembly’s Black Caucus says he’s “officially retiring” the “n” word from his vocabulary, just a few days after fiercely defending his use of it to denounce African-Americans with whom he disagrees.

“You’ve got some preachers that are house n——. You’ve got elected officials that are house n——. And rather than them trying to break this up, they’re going to fight you to protect that white man,” Meeks said in the sermon last month.

….. It is clear this controversy is not over.

Among other things in that controversial sermon last month, Meeks referred to unnamed white mayors and white governors, accusing them of running a lousy educational system that intentionally kept young African-American students from learning how to read and write.

These “unnamed white mayors and white governors” have such power, don’t they?

It’s clear from the context of the article, confirmed by what I heard broadcast at the time, that Meeks had to be dragged kicking and screaming into apologizing semi-backtracking after refusing to do so for what I believe was at least several days (see UPDATE 2 below).

Hannity also brought Meeks up on his radio program today, and played audio of the above “n-word” remarks. It may not seem possible to those who haven’t yet heard it, but Meeks sounds every bit as unhinged, if not moreso, than the Reverend Jeremiah A. Wright.

Now perhaps Barack Obama disassociated himself from this ugliness, and at the time denounced what another one of his “closest religious advisers” said once his remarks became widely known. You’ll have to excuse for wanting to see proof of that.

More fundamentally, why would Barack “More Perfect Union” Obama surround himself with at least two such people, as he clearly did in 2004? (Why would I not be surprised if Fr. Pflegler ends up being a similar piece of work?) And how many others are still hanging around Obama in 2008?

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UPDATE: Note that Meeks, as a fellow State Senator, would likely be a political as well as religious mentor to Obama.

UPDATE 2, March 20: This timeline pic from CBS Chicago’s web site indicates that it took about 6-7 days for Meeks to announce his retirement of the N-word:

MeeksTimeline0706

I see no evidence of an apology at the August 3, 2006 CBS story, nor do I recall hearing one, or of one, in the numerous WBBM radio reports I heard when I was in Chicago. I would suggest the lack of apology reflects a total lack of being sorry for what he said. I would also suggest that Meeks’s semi-backtrack came about because he saw his political career evaporating before his very eyes. Recall that he was considered a mayoral candidate at the time. After the slur, that possibility disappeared (he didn’t run). What little he did was likely necessary to salvage any kind of future viability for higher office.

UPDATE 3, March 21: Reporter Mike Flannery of CBS Chicago hotly disputes the contention of the original report above. In an e-mail to me that I will only partially excerpt, he says –

Based on my many years of REAL reporting, it is ludicrous for him to (put) Fr. Pfleger and Sen. Meeks in the same sentence with Rev. Wright as the “closest religious advisors” of Sen. Obama.

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Previous Related Posts:
- March 19 — Obama: The Pummeling by Perceptive Pundits Proceeds (with the Candidate Inadvertently Pitching in)
- March 18 — Analyses of the Day: Allah and Shelby Steele Nail Obama’s ‘Checkers’ Speech
- March 18 — Ahead of Obama’s ‘Checkers’ Speech ….
- March 17 — TUCC’s Church Bulletins from July 2007 Probably Make Whether Obama Was Present on July 22 Irrelevant
- March 17 — Blogger Patterico Calls Out LA Times Coverage of Obama-Wright
- March 16 — Obama Gives a Nod to Wright
- March 15 — Obama Has Not Set Things Right about Wright
- March 13 — The People Who Have Given Me Grief Over the Use of Barack Obama’s Middle Name …..

Obama: The Pummeling by Perceptive Pundits Proceeds (with the Candidate Inadvertently Pitching in)

Filed under: Taxes & Government — Tom @ 2:31 pm

The reaction to yesterday’s speech Philadelphia folly delivered by the candidate I refer to as BOOHOO (Barack O-bomba Overseas Hussein “Obambi” Obama) continues to pour in (Text and video are here at his campaign site).

Victor Davis Hanson at National Review:

An Elegant Farce

Barack Obama’s Tuesday sermon was a well-crafted, well-delivered, postmodern review of race that had little to do with the poor judgment revealed in Obama’s relationship with the hateful Rev. Wright, much less the damage that he does both to African Americans and to the country in general.

….. Obama is right about one thing: We are losing yet another opportunity to talk honestly about race, to hold all Americans to the same standards of public ethics and morality, and to emphasize that no one gets a pass peddling vulgar racism, or enabling it by failing to disassociate himself from its source — not Rev. Wright, not even the eloquent, but now vapid, Barack Obama.

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Charles at Little Green Footballs utters the fundamental truth that renders the rest of what BOOHOO had to say totally irrelevant:

And please note that Obama admits he was lying when he said he never heard Rev. Wright utter these “fierce criticisms.” Are we supposed to just glide right past that?

Update, 11:00 p.m. — ABC’s reporting confirms the obvious point that Charles mentioned, and then some:

Buried in his eloquent, highly praised speech on America’s racial divide, Sen. Barack Obama contradicted more than a year of denials and spin from him and his staff about his knowledge of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s controversial sermons.

Similarly, Obama also has only recently given a much fuller accounting of his relationship with indicted political fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko, a longtime friend, who his campaign once described as just one of “thousands of donors.”

Until yesterday, Obama said the only thing controversial he knew about Rev. Wright was his stand on issues relating to Africa, abortion and gay marriage.

Uh, not exactly.

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Now, from BOOHOO himself, in April 2007:

In an interview with ABC News Wednesday afternoon, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., called for the firing of talk radio host Don Imus. Obama said he would never again appear on Imus’ show, which is broadcast on CBS Radio and MSNBC television.

“I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus,” Obama told ABC News, “but I would also say that there’s nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group. And I would hope that NBC ends up having that same attitude.”

Obama said he appeared once on Imus’ show two years ago, and “I have no intention of returning.”

….. “He didn’t just cross the line,” Obama said. “He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America. The notions that as young African-American women — who I hope will be athletes — that that somehow makes them less beautiful or less important. It was a degrading comment. It’s one that I’m not interested in supporting.”

Though every major presidential candidate has decried the racist remarks, Obama is the first one to say Imus should lose his job for them.

But he has no problem exposing his daughters to the racism of the Reverend Wright, and wouldn’t dream of — in fact, won’t even consider (“I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”) — disassociating himself from the Rev. Wright.

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IBDeditorials also gets to the vapid solutions Obama offered yesterday:

Rather than break ties with his demagogic, anti-American pastor, Barack Obama used a speech on race to excuse his behavior and sweep the controversy under the rug. Passing the buck is not very presidential.

….. Reacting to being linked with a bigoted conspiracy theorist by lecturing the nation on race is like disgraced ex-New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer responding to his getting caught patronizing an international prostitution ring by giving a speech on the female physique.

The supposed divide between black and white is not the issue here; Obama’s longtime association with Jeremiah Wright is.
This is a man who believes the U.S. government formulated the HIV virus to commit genocide against blacks and that it is also responsible for the 9/11 attacks.

….. The solutions? Expanded government for one, of course. But while Obama concedes that “the erosion of black families” is “a problem that welfare policies for many years may have worsened,” he fails to understand what “Wealth and Poverty” author George Gilder knew back in 1981 (that “since 1964 ….. a vast expansion of the welfare rolls that halted in its tracks an ongoing improvement in the lives of the poor, particularly blacks, and left behind ….. a wreckage of broken lives and families worse than the aftermath of slavery.”)

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Rick Moran is all over the lousy solutions, too:

Obama began the speech with a reference to the Founding Fathers who wanted to form a more perfect union in creating the Constitution. He built upon this theme in a way that would have the Founders turning over in their graves; that the way to that “more perfect union” was through massive government intervention in the daily lives of American citizens.

More than at any other time in this campaign, Obama forcefully and without qualification endorsed across the board government intervention in every aspect of the lives of American citizens. This includes the prospect of joining whites and blacks together in a “victimhood coalition” to fight the enemy.

And who might that enemy be? Generally speaking, it is conservatives who are at the bottom of every problem enunciated by Obama during his 35 minute speech. Not once did Obama blame government policies for the problems of African Americans, low and middle income whites, or any other identity group he wished to bring into his victim coalition. Government is not only blameless, but statist solutions are the only way to fix what ails us, according to Obama.

Rush, as expected, was on a roll (at the end) about the speech yesterday:

America, I think, for the most part (there are, of course, exceptions to this) has transcended race. There’s so much evidence of that that I don’t even want to waste time citing it. But Barack Obama’s church hasn’t. Barack Obama’s church has not transcended race nor has it transcended hate. Barack Obama has not spoken out about that until now, and as a good politician, he doesn’t want to be left behind so he has to speak out about it. This speech was an act of political necessity, not courage. This was an act of political necessity.

Couldn’t Help But Notice (031908)

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 8:57 am

More Kelo calamity: You can’t make this stuff up, as they say. This is from the New London Day last Friday (link probably requires registration, and would require a paid subscription after this coming Friday; HT Liberty Conspiracy):

Fort Trumbull Developer Asks FHA To Back $11.5M Loan

Faced with a tight lending climate, the Corcoran Jennison company has asked the Federal Housing Authority to back an $11.5 million loan to fund the long-delayed construction of housing on the Fort Trumbull peninsula.

Corcoran Jennison applied for the mortgage insurance last Friday, said Kristine Foye, spokeswoman for the New England Regional Office of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The request was filed three months before a crucial May 29 deadline for the Boston-based developer to secure financing and sign a construction contract for an 80-unit complex of rental apartments and townhouses.

….. While a federal commitment could bring more favorable terms for Corcoran Jennison, the company is also seeking conventional financing from major lenders, Carberry said Thursday.

….. According to the developer’s HUD application, “The development plan is for an upscale rental property that will be positioned to compete at the top of the market,” Foye said.

So, if the project ever gets going, the properties that were the subject of the infamous Kelo decision — properties that contained middle-class owner-occupied and rental homes — will be replaced by palatial digs for the well-to-do, insured in case the project fails by Uncle Sam.

The “good government” types who supported the Kelo decision and believe that they must have the ability to take property from current owners “for the greater good” must be so pleased with themselves (/sarc).

I’ll have more on this in a Pajamas Media column later this week.

An extended version of this item is at this NewsBusters post.

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IBDeditorials, on the banking situation:

….. amid all this action, some are criticizing the “bailout” of big lenders. That is not what it is.

As both a central banker and a former academic, Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke has been a keen student of the Great Depression. He knows too well that when confidence in a banking system is lost, the risk of a broader, systemic collapse becomes not just possible but probable.

….. contrary to those who claim Bernanke has “bailed out” irresponsible market operators, his moves have in fact been judicious and carefully targeted — not rash and desperate.

….. Let’s review what Bernanke has in fact done this time around.

Starting in August, he began with a few temporary infusions of liquidity into the banking system, and started cutting interest rates.

Then, he created the Term Auction Facility (in December) and the Term Securities Lending Facility (in March) to make it possible for troubled financial institutions to rebuild their depleted and damaged balance sheets.

Contrary to Bernanke’s reputation as “Helicopter Ben,” this wasn’t an indiscriminate dumping of dollars into the banks; it was an attempt to help banks weather the credit crunch. Together with interest rate cuts, these actions should help lending resume — without the inflation or “moral hazard” some fear.

I don’t think Alan (“I Made This Bed, But I Don’t Have to Lie in It; Instead, I Have Fun Criticizing It”) Greenspan would be doing as well.

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From the “Hope He’s Right” file — The Wall Street Journal’s Holman Jenkins thinks that the Bernanke & Co. may have gotten the mortgage-security situation under control:

If it’s true that temporary market chaos has grossly distorted the value of securitized mortgage debt, the Fed has fixed a sizeable part of the problem. It took $30 billion in potential losses on its own books, and even will manage the portfolio. If the optimists are right and those securities bounce back, J.P. Morgan will capture the upside. If not, the Fed will get stuck with the downside.

….. Just conceivably Ben Bernanke has finally hit upon the magic formula for restoring confidence in securitized mortgage debt and trading will now resume. Speculators will come off the sidelines, convinced of the Fed’s willingness to step up and prevent price-crashing fire sales by illiquid institutions. The central problem of the past eight months — the fact that nobody was willing to take a flyer on a great deal of mortgage debt at any price — will have been solved.

If so, demands for a taxpayer bailout will fade along with fears of a self-reinforcing spiral of falling home prices and borrowers walking away from $10 trillion in mortgage obligations.

Not an impossible forecast. Markets are rational: They can be relied upon to put a realistic value on America’s outstanding housing-secured debt — that is, as long as investors don’t fear a cascade of forced sales by institutions desperate to raise cash at any cost to meet margin calls or regulatory capital standards.

After all, the dimensions of the challenge were never as unlimited as some made them sound.

And here are the stats of the day:

….. the mortgage default rate has risen to about twice the average rate of recent decades, and the difference consists largely of people who contracted mortgages their incomes wouldn’t support based on a bet that rising home values would bail them out.

More than a third of these new-look defaulters are absentee owners. Nearly half take off without communicating with their lenders. Mr. Bush is kidding himself if he thinks his fellow citizens share his view that these are needy victims.

Let us step back. A great deal of housing debt was created in the last few years to give speculative buyers nominal title to homes that they no longer want. Any postmortem will also show that too much government subsidy for the creation of housing debt was an original sin at the root of today’s mess.

I wonder how much of the mess in Northeast Ohio was speculative and/or absentee in origin?

Positivity: Man Rescued After Wave Sweeps Him Into Ocean

Filed under: Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From San Diego, CA (HT Good News Blog):

Witness Jumps In To Save Victim From Surf
POSTED: 7:22 am PST February 25, 2008

A man was rescued after falling into the ocean south of the Ocean Beach Pier, San Diego lifeguards said Monday.

A woman and two other people heard the man’s cries for help and jumped into the water at the foot of Santa Cruz Avenue and Bacon Street to save him, lifeguards said.

Anna Suzette Eblen said she heard the man’s cries for help and immediately jumped into the water to try and save him, reported 10News.

The victim was apparently climbing on some rocks at about 10:20 p.m. Sunday when he fell in to the chilly water, lifeguards said.

The man was transported to Mercy Hospital for treatment of respiratory problems and hypothermia, authorities said.