Archive for May, 2008

Oprah Left Trinity Church; Why Wouldn’t Obama?

May 31, 2008

You’ve heard the litany of terrible remarks that Jeremiah Wright has made from his pulpit at Trinity United Church:

“White greed drives world need.”

“The government gives them [African Americans] 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.”

“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 into our own front yards. America’s chickens are coming home to roost.”

“We’ve got more black men in prison than there are in college,” he said. “Racism is alive and well. Racism is how this country was founded and how this country is still run. No black man will ever be considered for president, no matter how hard you run Jesse [Jackson] and no black woman can ever be considered for anything outside what she can give with her body.”

“America is still the No. 1 killer in the world. … We are deeply involved in the importing of drugs, the exporting of guns, and the training of professional killers. … We bombed Cambodia, Iraq and Nicaragua, killing women and children while trying to get public opinion turned against Castro and Ghadhafi. … We put (Nelson) Mandela in prison and supported apartheid the whole 27 years he was there. We believe in white supremacy and black inferiority and believe it more than we believe in God.”

“We started the AIDS virus. … We are only able to maintain our level of living by making sure that Third World people live in grinding poverty.”

“The government lied about inventing the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color. The government lied.”

“We supported Zionism shamelessly while ignoring the Palestinians and branding anybody who spoke out against it as being anti-Semitic. … We care nothing about human life if the end justifies the means. …”

That kind of thing.

It turns out that there are – contrary to all the liberal explanations, counter-denunciations, (and my personal favorite: “context”) – people who were actually offended by such remarks.

One of them, it turns out, is Oprah Winfrey.

Oprah never made a big deal about her membership (two years: from 1984-86), and she never made a big deal about leaving the church (most likely because she didn’t want people like me to make a big deal out of it).

But Oprah left because – as a Newsweek article reports – she realized that “Something Wasn’t Wright” at Trinity United.

The 12 May 2008 issue article by Allison Samuels says:

Winfrey was a member of Trinity United from 1984 to 1986, and she continued to attend off and on into the early to the mid-1990s. But then she stopped. A major reason—but by no means the only reason—was the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.

According to two sources, Winfrey was never comfortable with the tone of Wright’s more incendiary sermons, which she knew had the power to damage her standing as America’s favorite daytime talk-show host. “Oprah is a businesswoman, first and foremost,” said one longtime friend, who requested anonymity when discussing Winfrey’s personal sentiments. “She’s always been aware that her audience is very mainstream, and doing anything to offend them just wouldn’t be smart. She’s been around black churches all her life, so Reverend Wright’s anger-filled message didn’t surprise her. But it just wasn’t what she was looking for in a church.”Oprah’s decision to distance herself came as a surprise to Wright, who told Christianity Today in 2002 that when he would “run into her socially … she would say, ‘Here’s my pastor!’ ” (Winfrey declined to comment. A Harpo Productions spokesperson would not confirm her reasons for leaving the church.)

So she’s been gone for something on the order of twelve or thirteen years. She was only a member for two, and she began to become aware that her national television audience – which was mostly women and mostly liberal – would be offended by the tone of way too many of Jeremiah Wright’s sermons for Oprah to be comfortable.

One of the things conservatives have been pointing out over and over is that the Wright comments such as the ones I have posted above were by no means “infrequent” or “out of context.” They were entirely representative of his black liberation theology. You wouldn’t expect him to say anything else!

He’s been saying radical, controversial, racist, and hateful stuff for decades. He was saying it in the 1980s, when Oprah Winfrey began to attend. He was still saying in the 1990’s, when she stopped attending. And you darn well better know by now that he’s been saying it it in the new millennium. He chose no less an occasion than the Sunday following 9/11 to deliver one of his most anti-American sermons of all.

You have to be driven by such a desperately flawed ideology that you are totally unable to understand the real world in order not to realize that. In other words, you literally have to have willed yourself to be stupid not to comprehend that Jeremiah Wright is not only radical, but radically toxic.

And Wright himself blew up the notion that he had been taken out of context when he chose to defend every single one of his statements in numerous media appearances.

The amazing thing is that Barack Obama refused to genuinely renounce Wright until his now-former pastor may have said (for Obama) the most offensive thing of all: that Barack Obama was a politician who does what politicians have to do and says what politicians have to say.

Now, from the sounds of it, Oprah Winfrey left not so much because her moral compass was offended, but because her rational, businesswoman’s sense was offended. But the point is that she knew YEARS ago that the stuff that was coming out of Trinity United was radioactive, and she didn’t want her boat being docked to that kind of outrage.

What on earth is wrong with Barack Obama’s character and judgment that he didn’t long ago come to the same conclusion?

Obama Church’s Rascist Attack Against Clinton & Supporters

May 30, 2008

Father Michael Pfleger, an invited speaker at Trinity United Church in Chicago, was introduced by the Rev. Otis Moss – who has received Barack Obama’s full endorsement – as a “brother beloved, he is a preacher par-excellence, he is a prophetic powerful pulpiteer.”

This is because Pfleger is a black liberation theology advocate just like Jeremiah Wright. It’s because he has been lauded by Trinity’s Trumpet Magazine as “afro-centric to the core.”

You have GOT to see the Youtube on this:

Pfleger exercised his prophetic gift by saying the following.

[garbled] expose white entitlement. And supremacy, wherever it raises its head. I said before, I really don’t want ot make this political, because you know I’m really very unpolitical.

When Hillary was crying, and people said that was put on, I really don’t believe it was put on. I really believe that she just always thought, ‘this is mine. I’m Bill’s wife. I’m white, and this is mine. I just gotta get up and step into the plate.’

Then out of nowhere, ‘I’m Barack Obama!’

Imitating Hillary’s response, screaming at the top of his lungs again, he continues, ‘Ah, damn! Where did you come from? I’m white! I’m entitled! There’s a black man stealing my show!’

(mocks crying)

She wasn’t the only one crying, there was a whole lot of white people crying!

After concluding, Otis Moss – Barack Obama’s “wonderful young pastor” – said, “We thank God for the message, and we thank God for the messenger. We thank God for Father Michael Pfleger. We thank God for Father Mike.”

The verbal picture is of a racist Hillary Clinton demanding her God-given entitlement as a white person, and a sea of white people – racists all – crying along with her.

And to complete this picture, you should know that earlier in that same message, Father Pfleger had said:

“Honestly now, to address the one who says, ‘Don’t hold me responsible for what my ancestors did.’ But you have enjoyed the benefits of what your ancestors did … and unless you are ready to give up the benefits, throw away your 401 fund, throw away your trust fund, throw away all the monies you put away into the company you walked into because your daddy and grand daddy. …”

Shouting, Pfleger continued, “Unless you are willing to give up the benefits then you must be responsible for what was done in your generation, because you are the beneficiaries of this insurance policy.”

So, if you are white and you are considering ever retiring, you pretty much meet Pfleger’s definition – and by logical extension the Trinity United Church that cheered his views – of being “racist.” I hope you’re not one of “those people.” I mean, if you haven’t already sold everything you own and given it to your closest African-American neighbor, you know what to call yourself, right?

Now, of course, we are once again going to hear about the fact that “you can’t make Barack Obama guilty by association,” blah blah blah.

And don’t you dare condemn the church. Or the congregation. Don’t you dare condemn the thousands of people loudly cheering hateful message after hateful message.

It’s just funny to me how these longtime acquaintances of Barack Obama’s little circle of hate keep “surprising” him with incendiary racial rhetoric.

It’s just funny to me that a politician who claims to represent “hope” and “change” can spend some 23 years sitting in a toxic environment, and somehow never be offended enough to leave.

You see, I come from a tradition that I guess must be courageous beyond imagining in the postmodern world: I come from a tradition where you don’t associate yourself with despicable views. If you go to a church that broadcasts this kind of vile nonsense, you leave that church. You don’t stay there for 20-plus years, and then “disassociate” yourself from the message.

So Barack Obama says “As I have traveled this country, I’ve been impressed not by what divides us, but by all that that unites us. That is why I am deeply disappointed in Father Pfleger’s divisive, backward-looking rhetoric, which doesn’t reflect the country I see or the desire of people across America to come together in common cause.” Like he’s some lawyer parsing some legal technicality rather than a man appalled at blatant racism and hard-core Marxist apologetics.

Pardon me for viewing that as a cynical, cowardly detachment from shocking and horrifying views.

Forget world leaders, totalitarian regimes, and sponsors of global terror. This politician can’t even figure out how to deal with the lunatic views of his own church.

Barack Obama is in a real political bind now: if he leaves Trinity United tomorrow, he implicitly acknowledges that he never should have been there in the first place, because nothing new is going on there that hasn’t been going on for years and years. And if he doesn’t leave, he continues to implicitly affirm that there isn’t really anything so bad about the views that the church continually expresses.

Scott McClellan: The Question is, “What Happened” to Your Integrity?

May 29, 2008

Former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan has a book coming out titled, What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington’s Culture of Deception. I would recommend a different subtitle: A Backstabber’s Perspective.

Ultimately, George Bush is paying for having made a poor choice of a press secretary based on personal loyalty. Bush stuck with McClellen long after it was obvious to many that the guy was simply not up to the job. McClellen took the opportunity to reward Bush for his loyalty – by applying a knife to his president’s back.

First of all, McClellan’s co-workers and White House associates claim that McClellen NEVER made any comments to them stating that he felt that the Bush White House was acting unethically or inappropriately while he was on staff. For that matter, Scott McClellan HIMSELF doesn’t claim that he ever raised such doubts. It is simply pathetic that he would launch into such an attack now. If he had integrity, he would have resigned, or at least spoken up at a meeting. As it was, he comes up with what very much seems like sour grapes after being forced out when his incompetence was finally recognized.

There was a time not too long ago when White House staffers considered it a point of honor to defend their presidents as part of the job, the way Secret Service agents would take a bullet for their president even if they intensely disliked him. People were literally willing to go to prison to protect their president. McClellan’s lack of virtue in writing a tell-all book comes down to this: why should you believe such a person unless he can document everything he claims as true? Why should a “Judas” get credibility?

To answer the second question first, Scott McClellan will be given instant credibility by Democrats and by the liberal media simply because his book plays into their narrative. They want to dump on Bush (and in turn on McCain as Bush’s “third term”); and any source that serves their agenda is instantly legitimate.

To answer the first question, from what I am reading, there is little solid documentation offered. McClellan doesn’t bring memos, records, recordings, and other “proofs” of his charges to the table. Rather, he brings a lot of opinions, assertions, and amateurish and self-serving psycho-analyizing. This is a “fly on the wall” account from a fly who simply wasn’t on the most pertinent walls.

McClellan writes, “I had unknowingly passed along false information.” But the question then is, how do you now know it was “false information” if you didn’t know it at the time? What documented facts do you NOW possess that proves your claim? And if in fact it was false information you were presenting, how did you not know that it was false when you – as Press Secretary - had FAR more professional and personal resources to confirm or dis-confirm than you have now?

McClellen writes that the Iraq War was unnecessary, and that President Bush’s policy ensured that there was no other alternative but to go to war. What actual facts – beyond whatever his “word” is worth – does he bring? Not much. For one thing, during the lead up to the Iraq War, McClellan wasn’t even the Press Secretary; Ari Fleischer was. McClellan was a deputy, and was simply not given the kind of access he would have needed to document any of the incredible claims he makes.

Furthermore, he is simply wrong what he writes about the Iraq War. I have written a three part series:

Iraq War Justified: Lessons from Saddam’s History (Part 1)

Iraq War Justified: What the Chronology Reveals (Part 2)

Iraq War Justified: Paralysis, Corruption at U.N. Made Truth Impossible (Part 3)

Is Scott McClellan claiming that he has evidence that the CIA – and the world’s major intelligence services – did NOT believe that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction? Does he additionally claim to have evidence that most of Saddam’s officials themselves didn’t believe Saddam had WMD? Does he claim that President Bush could have cajoled Saddam Hussein into opening up his regime and allowing arms inspectors full access? Does he claim that President Bush could have somehow unilaterally forced France and Russia to demand that the United Nations support a resolution that would have forced Saddam Hussein to open up his regime? Does he claim that Bush could have prevented the scandal of the UN Oil for Food program that allowed Saddam Hussein to game the whole international system? Does he claim that he can prove that some eighty arms inspectors in a country the size of Texas could have come up “the smoking gun” when Saddam Hussein had thousands of experienced professionals arrayed against them to thwart every move the inspectors made?

How on earth can McClellan substantiate his claim? He doesn’t have to. In Liberalland, the claim is enough. You are guilty until proven innocent in People’s Republics.

Scott McClellan apparently is most angry that he was left in the dark over the “Valarie Plame” furor and that he went out to bat for Karl Rove and L. Scooter Libby when they were guilty, guilty, guilty.

First of all, they weren’t, and they aren’t. It is a matter of public record that neither man was involved in “outing” Valarie Plame, nor were any other White House personnel. Richard Armitage was the source, according to more than one journalist involved in printing Plame’s name. Second, Valarie Plame had not served in a “covert” capacity for several years, and was not even covered under the statute that triggered the investigation in the first place. The case should have been dropped right there, but witch hunts, after all, exist to find witches. Even though there was no actual crime to investigate, the special prosecutor continued prosecuting, and was able to show that Scooter Libby had told conflicting stories to several journalists. It didn’t matter that he hadn’t had anything to do with the actual leaking. As for the conviction, Libby would have obtained a fairer jury had he stood trial in Cuba. The District of Columbia is the most liberal region in the country, and his real crime in the jury’s mind was being a Republican.

The affair that ended up enveloping Scooter Libby started when Joseph Wilson went to Niger to look into the allegation that Iraq had attempted to purchase uraniaum. Everything about the trip was based on lies, and when Joe Wilson returned to the U.S. and wrote an op-ed, the lies just mushroomed bigger and bigger.

A 10 July 2004 article by Susan Schmidt for the Washington Post titled, “Plame’s Input Is Cited on Niger Mission: Report Disputes Wilson’s Claims on Trip, Wife’s Role” underscores the environment of deceit by both Wilson and Plame in the affair. These are the people who belong in jail.

Mark Levin writes a pretty good piece on the subject titled, “Valerie’s No Victim: Plame put herself into a political place.” He writes:

That’s right. Plame started this phony scandal. And so far, she’s gotten away with it. What do I mean? Plame has shown herself to be an extremely capable bureaucratic insider. In fact, we know she’s accomplished — she accomplished getting her husband, Joe Wilson, an assignment he desperately wanted: a trip to Niger to investigate a “crazy” report that Saddam Hussein sought yellowcake uranium from Niger (her word, according to the Senate Intelligence Committee, not mine). And she was dogged. She asked not once but twice (the second time in a memo) that her husband get the job. And there’s more. The Senate Intelligence Committee investigation also found that a CIA “analyst’s notes indicate that a meeting was ‘apparently convened by [the former ambassador's] wife who had the idea to dispatch [him] to use his contacts to sort out the Iraq-Niger issues.”

Now, Wilson didn’t have an intelligence background. Indeed, the committee revealed that Wilson didn’t have a “formal” security clearance, but the CIA gave him an “operational clearance.” The fact is that there was little to recommend Wilson for the role, other than his wife’s persistence….

Why Wilson?
This is the real scandal. Plame lobbied repeatedly for her husband, and she knew full well that he was hostile to the war in Iraq and the administration’s foreign policy. She had to know his politics — and there can no longer be any pretense about him being a nonpartisan diplomat who was merely doing his job. By experience and temperament, Wilson was the wrong man to send to Niger. Plame affirmatively stepped into what she knew might become a very public political controversy, given her husband’s predilections (and her own) about that “crazy” report of yellowcake uranium.

And when Wilson came back from the trip that his wife had worked so hard to get for him, he immediately started blasting the Bush administration. How does this not go hand in hand with having a big-time axe to grind?

So, when Wilson wrote his op-ed, created a huge fervor with the liberal media, and then started going from media venue to media venue to broadcast lie after lie, the White House simply had to respond. Would you expect them not to? And men like Karl Rove and yes, Scooter Libby played a little hardball. But from all accounts, they pretty much played by the accepted rules of political hardball.

Now what exactly is it that Scott McClellan offers that refutes the basic story? Well, according to him, he saw Karl Rove and Scooter Libby meeting and talking several times, and thought that was strange.

But Karl Rove has said that it is frankly strange that McClellan would think it was strange. He points out that he and Libby served on a couple of committees together. They routinely met at briefings. And heck, their offices were something like twenty feet apart. They had routinely been meeting all along.

And McClellan alludes to meetings that he didn’t attend to create the appearance of some kind of conspiracy. Empty fluff.

The charge that most angers me that comes from McClellan’s book is that McClellan claims that George Bush once said he might have used cocaine, but couldn’t recall for sure. Yet another example of something McClellan thought was strange.

If Bush did in fact say anything like that with McClellan present, he spoke as a man in the company of friends, based on a personal relationship of trust. He certainly didn’t tell the White House Press Secretary that to have him go out and do a press conference! And he most certainly didn’t say it so that McClelland could put a little sleaze on the prez in a tell-all pseudo-non-fictional hit piece. For McClellan to offer that bit of dirt – a conversation with a friend – as something to personally profit from tells me what a cockroach Scott McClellan has become.

And allow me to give my own take on President Bush’s “I don’t know” doubt about taking cocaine (if he even said it at all). Keep in mind that George W. Bush has openly acknowledged that he was an alcoholic. Question: do alcoholics remember everything they did when they were drunk at a party? Answer: no. The fact that our armchair psychologist would find some kind of deviant tendency in Bush’s psyche to believe whatever he wants and self-rationalize his actions, it just shows what a pile of crap this book is.

McClellan’s book is on the top of the Amazon.com best seller list today. But few who buy it will actually ever bother to read the drivel. The thing that concerns me is that a bunch of people with an agenda are going to go out and tell people that the book “proves” or “documents” this, that, or the other.

If you are genuinely inclined to believe anything McClellan says, at least read his book for yourself, and read it with an open, critical mind.

Scott McClellan writes that Karl Rove “always struck me as the kind of person who would be willing, in the heat of battle, to push the envelope to the limit of what is permissable ethically or legally.”

That may or may not be true of Rove. But one thing IS true of McClellan: he didn’t need the heat of battle to push the envelope on what was ethically permissable. All he needed was some dollar signs.

In a fitting case of irony, it turns out that the 30 pieces of silver that Judas betrayed Jesus for would be worth $75000 today – exactly the price McClellan’s publishers paid him for his book.

I am coming back on June 2 to make two observations that result from new revelations:

1) The Vanity Fair article slamming former president Bill Clinton.  Are you going to arbitrarily believe Scott McClellan and disbelieve that Bill Clinton has a “cavernous narcissism” and has demonstrated a vile temper and despicable personal dishonesty in addition to his routine sexual trysts?  Maybe we shouldn’t be too quick to believe the nasty stuff coming from “former” staff members.

2) In addition to Ari Fleischer’s May 28 statement (on the Bill O’Reilly radio program) that Scott McClellan had come to him saying that the book would be good for the president – and that something had obviously changed – we now have the McClellan Book Proposal available on Politico.com, which reveals that McClellan pitched a must softer view of Bush than the one that he subsequently came to publish.

It does seem in hindsight – even though McClellan denies it – that he was pressured to alter his portrait of Bush and the Bush White House to make it harsher.

I would argue that without substantial documentation proving the claims of a “former staff member,” we should take any such “tell-all books” with a grain of salt.

Sharon Stone on China’s “Karma” and lessons we can learn

May 28, 2008

Sharon Stone got herself into some hot water on the red carpet:

“At first, I’m not happy with the way the Chinese are treating the Tibetans …,” she said on camera Thursday at the Cannes Film Festival, referring to the country’s alleged human rights violations. “And then all this earthquake and stuff happened and I thought, ‘Is that Karma, when you’re not nice that the bad things happen to you?'”

Now, please note: Sharon Stone is to conservatives and Republicans what . As an example, here’s one of her remarks to illustrate:

Basic Instinct star Stone, 46, was keen to enjoy an intimate moment with Oscar-winning co-star Halle Berry, but believes a puritanical streak running through the country put an end to any potential girl-on-girl action.

Stone says: “Halle’s so beautiful and I wanted to kiss her. I said, ‘How can you have us in the movie and not have us kiss? That’s such a waste.’

“That’s what you get for having George Bush as president.”

Now, the question is, is Sharon Stone a hater? Is she just so full of intolerance that… well, that she’s as morally reprehensible as Christian bigots such as Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell?

You might recall the outrage and furor over the two Christian leaders saying that 9/11 was God’s judgment as a consequence of the United States’ embrace of paganism, abortionists, feminists, and homosexuals.

It is important to note that Jerry Falwell (and Pat Robertson) quickly apologized, unlike Jeremiah Wright – who merely defended his anti-American statements all the more vigorously when confronted with them.

And let me further point out that liberals were quick to claim that fundamentalist Christians – in claiming that 9/11 was divine judgment – were every bit as evil as the terrorists who flew the planes into the buildings. That’s an incredible claim, tantamount to saying that a kid who says, “My brother will beat you up for taking my lunch money!” is just as despicable as the kid who knifes another kid for a pair of desired sneakers. I mean, get real!!!

The issue of Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell came up again in the aftermath of Jeremiah Wright’s views, with liberals – scrambling to defend Barack Obama – saying that what Wright said in his “chickens coming home to roost” for Hiroshima and for American terrorism and racism – was no different than what conservatives like Robertson or Falwell said. I’ll come back to that comparison later.

Do you think that there’s such a thing as “karma,” or “divine retribution,” or “what goes around comes around”? Is a person evil for thinking there is?

Or is it better, less judgmental, more “politically correct,” to argue that no matter what someone does, or no matter what a nation does, there are no punitive consequences and there should be none?

If we see another Nazi Germany arise, should the country get off scott free? Or should the wheels of cosmic judgment turn upon them?

As a Christian, let me explain my perspective.

One of the things God ultimately does is ensure justice in the universe. God cannot be loving unless He is just. In illustration, consider the following story:

A family is rudely awakened in the middle of the night by a gang of violent predators. They tie up the father, and then take turns repeatedly raping the wife and daughter until dawn, and then they take all the valuables and leave. The next day, the father hears that the thugs have been captured. He storms into the police station shouting, “Where are they?” And the police say, “We let them go.”

“You let them go? Didn’t you have any evidence?”

“Oh, yes. We confiscated several of the articles that were stolen from your home, and DNA from the men matches the semen found in your wife and daughter.”

“Then why did you let them go?”

“Because we’re a loving police department, that’s why.”

A world without justice is a world without love. A universe that wouldn’t even in theory punish a China for brutalizing Tibetans is a universe that frankly doesn’t care. If there are no consequences for evil, then there is no real difference between a “good nation” and an “evil nation.”

And the same is true of individuals that is true of nations. I would argue that if there is no God, and if there is no immortality of the human soul, then there is no moral difference between a Mother Teresa and an Adolf Hitler – because they both die and are gone, and their ultimate end is exactly the same. Without the consequences of ultimate judgment, the only conclusion is that people and nations alike ought to be as self-centered as they can possibly be.

If the leaders of ethnic China want to seize the land and resources of ethnic Tibetans, and force them to live under whatever brutal conditions they wish to impose, who are you to say it’s “wrong”? And if a man tries fulfill his evolutionary biological destiny and propagate his DNA by force, who are you to label it as “rape” and condemn it? Who made you God? Who made this particular society “God”? If the universe itself doesn’t care enough about such behaviors to enforce consequences, then why on earth should you?

We are told repeatedly in the Bible that God judges the nations. Psalm 82:8, for instance, says: “Arise, O God, judge the earth! For it is Thou who dost possess all the nations.”

We are also told throughout the Bible that there are consequences for sin and depravity. Jesus Himself – who is frequently perverted by non-Christian religions and philosophies – spoke and taught more about hell than anyone in the Bible. One of the most quoted verses in Scripture – John 3:16 – says: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.”

Having said all of this, I think that Jerry Falwell was wrong for claiming that 9/11 (or Hurricane Katrina) were acts of divine judgment. Here’s why:

I believe in individual human sin, and I believe in the corporate sin of nations, and I believe in divine judgment. But I am not so quick to claim that I know when God will act in judgment.

Genesis 15:12-16 records an interesting event regarding divine judgment:

Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, terror and great darkness fell upon him. And God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions. And as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age. Then in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.”

God says to Abraham that one day his descendants will inherit the land He has promised, but not until the fourth generation, “for the iniquity of the Amorite is not yet complete.” By the time of Moses and Joshua, the measure of iniquity was full, and God gave the Hebrews the land and used them as an instrument of judgment. But note: not until that iniquity reached a certain critical threshold.

So I would be asking Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell this: who told you that the iniquity of America is now complete? And of China, how do we know that the cup of its sins is full? I would argue that they don’t know, and neither does anyone else other than God and His angels.

Now, is it possible that China is being judged for its sins with this catastrophic earthquake? Sure it is. God has used earthquakes (Zechariah 14:5; Revelation 11:13). And is it possible that God used the terrorists as an instrument of judgment against the United States? Sure it is. God frequently says He has used nations to judge nations (read the Book of Isaiah).

But I don’t know when a particular earthquake, or when a particular enemy attack, is an instrument of divine retribution. God did not make me one of His prophets. I am not busily carving away on the parchment roll that will one day be known as “the Book of Mikey.”

2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance.” And so I know that God is not just waiting to stomp on every sinner and on every sinful nation. God is not arbitrary or vindictive in His judgment. He brings it in His wisdom, and in His time.

What do I do? I humbly pray that God does not judge me for my own sins. When I am being consistent, I put aside the tendency to call upon God’s judgment to fall upon others as well. And so when a calamity befalls someone or some nation, I can recognize that God did not call upon me to be an instrument of His judgment (He can take care of that department Himself), but rather as an instrument of His grace. Because another thing the Bible tells us is that even in judgment, God practices grace, and is willing to bring restoration.

Now, what’s the difference between what Jerry Falwell said and what Jeremiah Wright said?

Both men suggested that America was getting it’s just desserts. I would submit that the key difference is that Falwell was basically being “pro-Bible” and “pro-biblical morality” and Wright was basically being “anti-America” and “anti-greedy-racist-white-America.”

For those who want to compare Jeremiah Wright with Jerry Falwell, I would say, “Fine. Anyone who spent 20 years in Jerry Falwell’s church shouldn’t be president, either.” Keep in mind, liberals and Democrats savagely attacked Jerry Falwell for his remark: if one can compare Wright’s statements with Falwell’s, then one at least ought to savage both men evenly. But the liberals who frequently make such an analogy (such as Alan Colmes, who has made it often on Fox News’ Hannity and Colmes) aren’t willing to actually criticize their side’s guy, just the other side’s guy.

The terrorists who attacked us were personally carrying out “Allah’s vengeance” upon their enemies.  And in hateful act after hateful act, terrorists have attacked and bombed and murdered in the name of their God.  Christian fundamentalists, by start contrast – who passionately believe in God’s divine vengeance – are waiting for God to do His own judging. Big difference.  Muslims believe that God is too transcendent, too grand, to care.  Humans are like ants to Allah.  But Christians believe that God is intimately involved with His creation, and involved with justice and judgment.  And so every Christian who takes God at His Word waits for God to take His ultimate divine judgment into His own hands.

The Bible assures me that God judges sin.  It doesn’t tell me when, or how.  That is up to God.

Is ‘Uncle Liberated Auschwitz’ Barack Obama’s ‘Bosnia Sniper’ Remark?

May 27, 2008

It has been described both as a distortion of history, genealogy, and geography.

On Memorial Day, Barack Obama said that his uncle participated in the liberation of Auschwitz.

“I had an uncle who was … part of the first American troops to go into Auschwitz and liberate the concentration camps,” Obama said.

“And the story in our family was is that when he came home, he just went up into the attic and he didn’t leave the house for six months,” he said.

Well, it couldn’t have been Auschwitz that his uncle liberated, because the Soviet Red Army – not the U.S. Army – reached Auschwitz first, and the U.S. Army never got to Auschwitz. That’s the historical error.

And it couldn’t have been his uncle, because research proved none of Obama’s uncles were in the Army. That’s the geneological error. The Obama campaign later said that the “uncle” was actually a great uncle on his mother’s side.

And Auschwitz is some 500 miles from Ohrdruf, which was part of the Buchenwald camp system. That’s the geographical error.

Now, The Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” blog has given Democrat presidential candidate Barack Obama three Pinocchios (significant factual error and/or obvious contradiction).” Noel Sheppard actually takes Michael Dobbs to task for taking away one of the four “pinocchios” Dobbs had originally awarded, saying, “With all due respect, Mr. Dobbs, Ohrdruf had a population of 11,700 prisoners while the gas chambers of Auschwitz killed 1 million innocent people. Comparing the two is an insult to mankind.”

Certainly, we can argue that this is tantamount to the Bosnia sniper incident that Hillary Clinton alluded to. She described flying into Bosnia, and that part of the story was true. Every other thing she said about the event was false.

It would seem that Barack Obama changed the relationship of his relative to make the story more personal for him, and changed the location to Auschwitz to make the story more exciting and “historic.”

The Obama camp is simply chocking it up to a “mistaken reference.” But this is about the same Barack Obama who tore into John McCain for a verbal gaffe confusing the Sunnis and Shiites:

(CNN)Barack Obama on Wednesday took aim at potential rival John McCain over the Arizona senator’s apparent misstep at a recent press conference in Jordan, the latest sign Democrats are looking to capitalize on the moment.

“Just yesterday, we heard Sen. McCain confuse Sunni and Shiite, Iran and Al Qaeda,” Obama said during a speech on Iraq Wednesday morning. “Maybe that is why he voted to go to war with a country that had no Al Qaeda ties. Maybe that is why he completely fails to understand that the war in Iraq has done more to embolden America’s enemies than any strategic choice that we have made in decades.

The gaffe in question occurred during a news conference in Jordan Tuesday, when the presumptive Republican presidential nominee repeatedly said Iran was supplying al Qaeda. Iran is predominately a Shiite country and is not aiding the Sunni dominated Al-Qaeda.

McCain ultimately corrected himself after Sen. Joe Lieberman whispered in his ear.

“I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al Qaeda. I am sorry,” the Arizona senator said.

And this is the same Barack Obama who said,

“It is wonderful to be back in Oregon,” Obama said. “Over the last 15 months, we’ve traveled to every corner of the United States. I’ve now been in 57 states? I think one left to go. Alaska and Hawaii, I was not allowed to go to even though I really wanted to visit, but my staff would not justify it.”

You can hear this rather stunning gaffe in glowing color on Youtube if you’d like. Barack Obama could become the first president of the United States who had no idea how many states he was actually president of. Yet somehow Barack Obama deserves to be let off the hook for making a mistake most kindergarteners wouldn’t make, but John McCain deserved to twist in the wind for his slip of the tongue.

So when the Obama camp came out with this response the words “great big giant hypocrite” came to mind:

Obama campaign aides were indignant that Republicans had pounced on what they called an innocent mistake over such a grave subject. Tommy Vietor, an Obama spokesman, decried “using the Holocaust and concentration camps as a political football.”

When Jesus talked about the guy with the log in his own eye making a big deal of the speck another guy had in his eye (Matthew 7:1-5), he could have been talking about Barack Obama. For Obama to go after John McCain on his foreign policy expertise is kind of like Kobe Bryant’s five year old daughter telling him how to shoot jump shots.

But – in addition to Barack Obama’s rather galling hypocrisy – the thing I’d really like to address regarding the Obama “uncle” error is the underlying text and subtext Obama was addressing.

The text was mental health care for veterans. Obama was ostensibly saying that veterans have had to deal with traumatic experiences that continue to affect them long after the war is over. I agree fully, and so does every else. But Obama self-righteously wanted to claim the moral high ground OVER JOHN MCCAIN, WHO PERSONALLY SPENT FIVE YEARS ROTTING IN A NORTH VIETNAMESE HELLHOLE WITH SEVERE UNTREATED INJURIES!!! by claiming that he’d had a relative who suffered.

The subtext was the recent problems that Obama has been having with the Jewish community over the growing perception that he’d meet with terrorists and rogue dictators without preconditions amounted to weakness and a lack of support for Jews and for the state of Israel, which tends to be concerned about such things. This might be because the leadership of the most significant country in question – Iran – has repeatedly stated its sworn intention of “wiping Israel off the map.” Stuff like that raises hackles, particularly when Iran is daily defying the International Atomic Energy Agency on its uranium enrichment. Israel is saying, “How about a little less dialoging and a lot more preconditions?”

But come on, think about it: Obama didn’t even know what relation he was to this “uncle” of his. He had no idea what camp the man had helped liberate. You just don’t get the sense that this “story” deeply affected Barack Obama, or that he hung on every word.

This is just another politicians cynically taking advantage of every part of his life that he possibly can – no matter how irrelevant it was to him up until the moment it suddenly became useful – to use for the sake of personal political gain.

Hillary Clinton needed to pad her “battle-hardened leader” resume and dreamed up a sniper attack. Obama needed to placate the Jewish community and “discovered” a relative whose unit had liberated a camp.

Barack Obama has repeatedly proven that he is not the sweeping figure of hope and change that he cynically presents himself to be. He is just as willing to lie, pander, and demagogue (there are several other sites recording such as well; both of these are worthy of review) as any other Democratic candidate whose come down the pike in recent years. Barack Obama now has a well documented history of lying about his family to score cheap political points. That’s about as cynical as you can get.

I’ve got to come back (May 31) and add a new flare-up that has occurred over the past few days over troop levels relative to the surge strategy:

On Thursday, McCain said last year’s increase in the number of troops in Iraq was working. “I can look you in the eye and tell you it’s succeeding,” he said. “We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr city are quiet.”

Obama’s campaign was quick to say McCain was wrong.

“This is the guy who says I need more knowledge,” said Obama, a first-term senator from Illinois who has been criticized by McCain as too inexperienced — particularly on foreign issues — to be president.

“He’s wrong. That’s not true and anyone running for commander in chief should know better,” Obama said to a cheering crowd at a campaign rally. “As the saying goes, you’re entitled to your own view, but not your own facts.

The United States has 155,000 troops in Iraq — about 20,000 more than before last year’s troop increase. The number would be cut to about 140,000 after current withdrawals are completed in July.

McCain’s campaign said it was just a question of tenses — saying “drawn down” as opposed to “drawing down.” A campaign official said Obama’s campaign was just “nit-picking”.

At the very least, this seems like yet another throwing of stones in a glass house.  Yet the man who recently said his uncle liberated Auschwitz when he doesn’t even have an uncle and the Red Army liberated Auschwitz, and who recently told an Oregon audience that he had visited 57 states, with one yet to go, appears to passionately believe that McCain’s choice in verb tenses somehow renders him unfit to be president.

What’s Worse: A Third Bush Term, Or A First Jeremiah Wright Term?

May 27, 2008

Honk your horn (or whatever the internet equivalent is) if you have had it up to your gills with the Democratic talking point, “A third Bush term” talking about John McCain’s run.

I’ve got the perfect knee jerk response for you: “Well, what’s worse, a third Bush term, or a first Jeremiah Wright term?”

You don’t like that one, Democrats? Well, then stop the nonsense comparing Bush’s two terms to a McCain presidency!

Read my keyboard-tapping fingers: John McCain is NOT George Bush.

I have an uncle who says of John McCain, “He’s the best Democrat of the bunch.”

George Bush is often called a “neo-con” (whatever the heck that is); anyone who has called John McCain a “neo-con” has sniffed too much glue for too many years to be susceptible to reality.

McCain has been called “a maverick Republican.” This is a code word to describe a guy who pretty much does his own darn thing.

Dennis Hastert had another nickname for him: “The undependable vote,” who always “allied with Democrats.” The former House Speaker said, “It just seems like everything we did, John was someplace else.”

In a January 31, 2008 interview with the Baltimore Sun, Speaker Hastert went on to say:

“It was McCain-Kennedy, it was McCain-Lieberman, it was McCain-Feingold on campaign finance reform,” Hastert said, noting Democratic co-sponsors. “He was against us on tax cuts and his form of immigration reform was to open the gates and let everybody in.”

Asked if he considered McCain a conservative, Hastert said, “In my opinion, he is not.”

“He is a moderate,” the former speaker said. “In almost everything he’s done, he’s done (things) against what mainstream Republicans thought and he’s allied with Democrats. He was always the undependable vote in the Senate.”

You might get the idea why I – as a conservative – am not exactly jumping up and down in my excitement for a John McCain presidency.

But let me ask you Democrats this: if John McCain really IS just like George Bush, then what the heck did you ever have against Bush?!?! Think about it: either you guys are every bit the lying demagogues I keep calling you, or else you are simply politically to the left of Hugo Chavez, and you deserve to have power the way Barney Fife deserved to have a bullet.

In his eternity-long career in the Senate, nobody EVER referred to John McCain as an arch conservative.

The fact of the matter is, this “third term of Bush” nonesense just proves how irrational Democrats are, and how they are perfectly willing to throw away substance for rhetoric.

Democrats are eager to tie McCain to an unpopular George Bush. Interestingly, the media will not allow any comparison of Senator Barack Obama to the Democrat-controlled Congress, which Gallop polls have said is as unpopular as any Congress has ever been since – well since the last time Democrats were in charge of Congress.

Let me quote a short, delicious piece that chews on that bone:

A new Gallup poll shows the Democrat controlled congress has the lowest approval ratings ever recorded. Only 18% of Americans approve of the job the Democrat congress is doing, and a whopping 76% disapprove. Worse than any Republican congress has ever had.

Almost twice as many Americans approve of the President as do congress. At 32%, President Bush’s approval rating seems stratospheric by comparison.

No congress has been this unpopular since—well, since the last time Democrats controlled congress in 1992 . No congress has ever scored lower, although they came close in 1979 with a 19% approval rating when—no surprise here—Democrats were also in control.

And for good reason…undermining the country and the military in wartime, unconstitutional power grabs, vote fraud, leaking classified documents, over 300 partisan witch-hunt investigations that have uncovered a grand total of zero illegal or unethical acts, a cornucopia of new taxes, even more secretive and unaccountable earmark spending, and corruption that makes Bob Ney look like a Catholic nun.

Now, as we contemplate the failed Democratic Congress that the media will not link to Sen. Barack Obama even though he is the most liberal of them all, I dare say that I can make a far better case for the statement that a Barack Obama presidency would be “a Jeremiah Wright first term.”

Tell me when John McCain called George Bush his spiritual advisor, or his uncle. Tell me how John McCain had a 20-plus year personal relationship with George Bush. Tell me that John McCain titled his book after a George Bush speech.

To the extent that there are superficial policy similarities between Bush and McCain, that is simply true because both men are – at least ostensibly – Republicans. But based on that logic, we could also call an Obama presidency “a second Jimmy Carter term.”

So, if Democrats want to keep talking about a third Bush term, let’s start talking about the possibility of the first presidential term of Jeremiah Wright. And then let’s start re-acquainting the public with the fact that the only thing that could be worse than a Republican in power would be a Democrat in power.

Memorial Day: A Time to Reflect on the Big Picture

May 26, 2008

Memorial Day and Christmas have one thing in common: both holidays celebrate giving. Christmas celebrates God’s gift of salvation in the birth of Christ; and Memorial Day celebrates the gift of freedom by men who secured it with their lives and their blood.

Neither divine grace nor political freedom is “free.” Both have been provided for us at great cost.

And whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, I hope you took time to contemplate the image of the rows of crosses marking the graves of our fallen warriors. We owe such men – as well as the warriors who survived the battle – a debt that we can never repay.

There is a saying, “There are no atheists in foxholes.” I’m sure there have been some atheists in some foxholes at one time or another, but the real point of this bit of folk wisdom is that one tends to pay attention to the Big Picture when one’s life is on the line. When you know you could be blown to bits at any moment, the question as to whether there is a heaven and a hell suddenly becomes more than simple abstract speculation.

To that end, let me talk about the faith that drives men to acts of greatness. I’m not talking about faith in God (although that helps a LOT); I’m talking about faith in a better world, and faith that one’s personal sacrifices can help create that better world.

Faith gets ridiculed in today’s cynical society (e.g. “faith vs. religion,” where the latter is meaningful and the former trivial). And the faith of religious people is all too often dismissed as some kind of enabler for weak minds (e.g. “Religion is the opiate of the masses”; “they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion…”) to continue living their simpleminded, idiotic lives.

But it occurs to me that faith is as essential to our democracy as it is to the our religion.

And it occurs to me that the life of faith is not an easy one.

Hebrews 11:1 tells us, “Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Cynics and skeptics think of faith as belief in things that don’t exist, but this is by no means true.

Rather, it is confidence in principles, ideas, and truths that are there even if we can’t see them immediately before us.

Our forefathers, who established what would become the greatest nation in the history of the world were religious Pilgrims, seeking to build their vision in a strange land. The first years were difficult; so many died that the captain pleaded with them to abandon their quest and return to England. But their faith in what they believed was their divinely appointed destiny gave them the courage and the motivation to endure hardship and death.

Our founding fathers, in choosing to devote “their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor” to separate from the injustices of subjugation without representation chose to risk everything for their belief in a better world. The system of government they envisioned had never been tried in the history of the world, but they fought the greatest superpower of the world at the time in order to give a democratic republic a chance. We can imagine them enduring the sufferings of Valley Forge, in which men’s frostbitten feat bled as they stumbled across the snow. They were fighting for a better world, a world they had never seen.

We can think of the faith of our ancestors who faced death on an unprecedented scale in the Civil War. It was the faith of men such as Abraham Lincoln who persevered the cries of shock and outrage, and continued to fight for the better world that he envisioned. There are no better words than the words of Lincoln himself, in what is regarded as the greatest speech ever given:

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in
a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so
conceived and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great
battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of
that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their
lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and
proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot
dedicate, we cannot consecrate, we cannot hallow this ground.
The brave men, living and dead who struggled here have consecrated
it far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will
little note nor long remember what we say here, but it can never
forget what they did here. It is for us the living rather to be
dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here
have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here
dedicated to the great task remaining before us–that from these
honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which
they gave the last full measure of devotion–that we here highly
resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this
nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that
government of the people, by the people, for the people shall
not perish from the earth.

We can think about the faith of those who stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944. We can think about the Marines who landed on beaches such as Iwo Jima to fight horrendous, bloody engagements against fanatic opposition. Fascism, Communism, and totalitarianism had consumed the world like a plague, and gained the upper hand. Nazi fascism and Imperial Japanese totalitarianism had seized most of the world in their bloody claws, and men of faith had to pry those claws away by force, finger by finger.

What was on the mind of the soldier who stumbled over the bodies of his fallen brothers while machine gun fire raked across the sand in front of him? What sustained him? What was it that kept such men moving forward, when “forward” seemed to lead only to violent death?

It was faith, hope, and love.

One rabbi, who survived the horrors of the death camp at Auswitzch summed up his experiences by saying, “It was as though a world existed in which all of the Ten Commandments had been reversed: Thou shalt kill, thou shalt lie, thou shalt steal, and so forth. Mankind has never seen such a hell.”

Against such evil stood ordinary men who were motivated to acts of greatness by faith, hope, and love. They died by the millions, but they fought on because they had faith that their sacrifices would not be in vain. And in enduring through faith in a better world that – even when the world before their eyes was nearly consumed by evil – they prevailed over that evil.

And I would add to that list the men and women who are wearing the American flag on their shoulders as they fight to secure liberty in Iraq and Afghanistan. They have been magnificent. I have been so proud of them. Through danger and in spite of every kind of opposition, they have fought men who would impose their will by means of force and terror, and they have prevailed.

On this Memorial Day, we stop to honor those who have fallen in the struggle to provide a better world for succeeding generations. We stop to consider the faith that such men must have had to endure incredible deprivation, danger, and terrible death. And we reflect on the content of their faith: what Lincoln called “a new nation, conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.”

We know that the vision of such a world has been under attack throughout history, by men who have harbored a darker, more terrible vision of the world. And we know that apart from our warriors, and the faith that sustains them, we will not be able to prevail in the continuous struggle against evil.

Please say a prayer for our warriors, who have placed themselves in harm’s way just as our warriors who came before them. Pray for their safety. Pray for the success of their mission. And pray for their faith, which gives them the courage that sustains them.

And let us honor every one of our veterans – both the living and the dead – who have worn the uniform of the United States of America.

Here’s to the Last Time We Had a Record Democrat Turnout!

May 26, 2008

Are you either really, really worried or really, really excited about all the media hype over the current Democratic voter turnout being the largest ever?

Its not, you know. Its the second largest ever.

You want to know which year wins the “best turnout ever” contest for Democrats?  1972.  That was the year that George McGovern would place second for another record: finishing on the losing end of the second worst landslide in US political history.

American University News reported:

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 19, 2008)—Despite record high turnout in a majority of states holding 2008 presidential primaries, the percentage of eligible citizens casting ballots will fall just short of setting a national record, according to a report released today by American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate (CSAE).

In states that held nominating primaries for both parties, 23 of 34 states recorded records, but the overall turnout of 30.2 percent of the eligible electorate fell short of the record 30.9 percent who voted in 1972.

The report, based on final official vote counts from all states (34) that held primaries to date (except Indiana, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and West Virginia, whose results reported here are final but unofficial), also shows:

· Democratic presidential primary records were set in 23 states, but the overall turnout of 19.3 percent was smaller than the 21 percent who turned out in 1972.

McGovern won Massachussets and the District of Columbia for a grand whopping total of 17 electoral college votes.  The worst defeat ever was for Walter Mondale, who won Minnesotta and the District of Columbia for 13 electoral college votes.

It’s kind of interesting, but McGovern’s name has come up all over the place this campaign, most notably due to the fact that the super delegate baloney is so associated with that campaign.

Now, I haven’t won the “Soothsayer of the Year” award or anything, but I see the spirit of McGovern past haunting Ebenezer Donkey this year.

You’ve got the same kind of voter composition – a bunch of kids and other folk that everybody thinks will turn out until they don’t.

You’ve got an “out of nowhere” candidate who (probably) has managed to eke out a Democratic nomination victory over the establishment candidate by massing a huge grass-root base of unreliable voters.  You’ve got the probability of a bitter divided Democratic electorate being split (and of course two crucial states that were shut out of even being counted!).  There are big numbers traditional reliable Democratic voters who are clearly turned off to Obama (you see, they are just too darn busy bitterly clinging to their guns and their religion to be able to cling to Barack Obama).

And, my goodness, George McGovern doesn’t have anywhere NEAR the baggage that we now know that Obama has.

Raise your hands if you think Barack Obama would have got this far if we’d known about Jeremiah Wright and all the other nonsense BEFORE the Iowa caucus?

The most interesting thing of all is the Democrats and their elite media lackeys, who just don’t seem capable of spotting the icebergs.

In the aftermath of that McGovern slaughter, liberal writer Pauline Kael is widely reported to have said in dismay, “How can that be? No one I know voted for Nixon!”  Ah, yes.  Life in the “Conservatives Need Not Apply” bubble can have its little surprises.

Republicans have good reason to be concerned, I think.  But the difference is that Republicans actually ARE concerned.  I just see so many Democrats living in rose-colored bubbles filled with some combination of artificial hype and toxic stupidity.

The Genuine “Christian Liberation” Alternative to Jeremiah Wright

May 25, 2008

We’ve all seen the poison and bitterness come out of the mouth of Jeremiah Wright.  We’ve all heard many of the hateful things this “reverend” has said.

Some have said that this is the culture of the black church, and to condemn Jeremiah Wright is to condemn the black church.

That’s a lie.

National Public Radio’s Juan Williams, who has written a book on the black church phenomena in America, has said that there isn’t one in ten black churches that indulge in this kind of nationalism and bitterness that Reverend Wright practices.  If that isn’t enough to convince you, just pick up Barack Obama’s book Dreames of My Father, in which he records a 1985 conversation with Jeremiah Wright.  Wright told Obama that getting involved with Trinity might turn off other black clergy because of the church’s radical reputation.  Barack Obama didn’t join a “black church”; he joined a radical church.

Some of the most spiritual, gracious, marvelous, and most uplifting people I have ever met in my life were elderly black folk.  They have seen some of the worst that humanity can bring thrown at them, but they long ago made a choice to look upward, and as a result the love of God radiates from these dignified souls like rays from heaven.

Let some angry, bitter black pseudo-intellectual – who hasn’t seen one one-thousandth of the racism and second class status that these elderly blacks have – use terms like “Uncle Tom” and “happy negro” to describe them.  I use the word “dignity” because the people I am describing are the living embodiments of dignity.  There was a time when the dominent white culture refused to recognize that they had it, and so they looked upward to find the TRUE source of all human dignity.  And having found that source and planted it in their hearts, they came to radiate a dignity beyond anything that a corrupt culture could ever hope to understand.

I think in particular of one old soul named John in my church who is 93 years old.  He quotes the Bible by the chapter.  His soul swims in Scripture.  What a privelege to be near him!  At his age, I don’t have a doubt in my mind that he has seen more than his fair share of discrimination and racism.  But you would never know it.  He’s forgiven.  He’s moved on.  He’s embraced greater things.

I always, always use the terms “sir” and “ma’am” to address elderly black folk.  Because they deserve it.  I know that they’ve endured difficult experiences that merit my respect.  And a great majority of the time I am rewarded with a smile and a greeting that has a kind of staying power, just like them.

One man who has clearly bonded with this incredibly powerful tradition of genuine “negro spirituality” is Wintley Phipps, who has performed with Billy Graham’s ministry.  He is a younger man who has come into the tradition of his elders – and a man who resonates the same spiritual power as a result.

He has offered a perspective on “Amazing Grace” that made my spine tingle, left me praising the universal God we share in common, and served as a powerful reminder why my black brothers and sisters are such a precious treasure.   Wintley Phipps’ “Amazing Grace” in “five black notes” offers all the prophetic power of the black church experience without any of the bitterness that Wright wants to wallow in.  I watched Phipps with tears in my eyes and saw in his introduction the object lesson that love is so much greater than hate.

The video below is nearly nine minutes in length.  If you listen to the whole thing, you will hear a rendition of Amazing Grace that will leave you with goosebumps, or your money back!

I truly wish Barack Obama had come out of this tradition, instead of the radicalized Marxist tradition of class-based bitterness that Jeremiah Wright brought into Trinity United.

Unlike my dear old friend John and unlike Phipps, Wright is a bitter man.  And he has elevated his bitterness into a theology that replaces Christian grace.  And he has taught his congregation how to hold on to their bitterness, and nurture it in their souls.

The question is, who does bitterness invariably hurt the most? 

We can talk about Jeremiah Wright’s radicalism all day.  Sometimes it’s far more powerful just to see what genuine Christian spirituality – “red and yellow black and white” – looks like, and then allow people to draw their own contrasts.

Let me be clear: I have no idea whether Wintley Phipps votes Republican, Democrat, or a little of both.  It doesn’t ultimately matter.  What matters is that we are two men of different melanin levels who are “of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus” (Romans 15:5; see also Acts 11:17; 1 Cor 1:10; 2 Peter 1:1)

 

U.S. vs. Nuclear Iran: Russia, China Block Any Resolution – Again

May 24, 2008

The occasion of the moment is the state visit of the new Russian President to China, during which a joint announcement was issued for the headline of the day: China, Russia condemn US missile defense plans. It is considered noteworthy that in his first state visit as Russian President, Putin turned to the West. Medvedev is turning to the East.

Some are saying that Russia and China are announcing themselves not as enemies, but adversaries, of the United States. I shall leave it to more nuanced analysts than myself to explain the difference.

In any event, we can understand why second-rate nuclear powers such as Russia and China would fear a missile defense system. The possession of nuclear weapons has historically made countries invulnerable to any attack; a missile defense system capable of fulfilling Ronald Reagan’s dream of rendering such weapons obsolete would nullify the historic advantage of nuclear weapons and make the last remaining superpower -as the greatest NON-nuclear military in the world – all the more powerful.

The United States’ contention that its missile defense system is geared toward preventing a missile attack by such radicalized countries as Iran and North Korea have not overcome the Russian and Chinese fear regarding the long-range viability of their own nuclear deterrents.

But the issue that is most relevant to me is the building threat of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the successful longstanding effort of Russia and China to prevent the United States from doing anything to deter Iran in the international community.

A few articles to establish the point:

Reuters, from today:

PALO ALTO, Calif. (Reuters) – The United States will aggressively impose more sanctions on Iran as long as it refuses to give up sensitive nuclear work and uses the world’s financial system for “terrorism,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said on Thursday.

However, the United States would face an uphill battle from veto-wielding Security Council members China and Russia, which oppose further punitive measures against Iran.

The New York Times, from August 2006:

Although Russia agreed to the Security Council’s resolution on July 31, Defense Minister Sergei B. Ivanov’s remarks made it clear that Russia would not support taking the next step that the United States and Britain have called for: imposing sanctions against Iran or its leaders over its nuclear programs. The Council set Aug. 31 as the deadline for Iran to respond to its demand.

Russia has repeatedly expressed opposition to punitive steps, even as President Vladimir V. Putin and others have called on Iran to cooperate with international inspectors and suspend its enrichment activity.

But on Friday Mr. Ivanov went further, saying the issue was not “so urgent” that the Security Council should consider sanctions and expressing doubt that they would work in any case.

The Council on Foreign Relations, from April 2006:

The referral of the Iran nuclear file to the UN Security Council opens up the prospect economic sanctions could be used to pressure Tehran to end its uranium enrichment program, feared as a cover for developing nuclear weapons. U.S. and European diplomats have stressed that council action is necessary to maintain pressure on Iran and the threat of sanctions is seen as important leverage for the council. But the United Nations’ powerful security body has moved away from sanctions as a coercive tool in recent years. Two veto-wielding members of the council, Russia and China, have virtually ruled out sanctions in dealing with the Iran crisis, leading some experts to call for nations to band together outside of the United Nations to plan meaningful economic penalties.

It might be interesting to note at this point that both Russia and China have been involved with nuclear technology transfers to Iran. Some sources:

According to the Journal MERIA:

Unfortunately, for the time being the United States and Russia differ on which countries qualify as rogue states that must be contained or confronted. Like North Korea or China, Russia–the soothing or indignant pronouncements of its leaders notwithstanding–according to many experts and officials in the area, remains the world’s leading source of WMD-related items and expertise proliferation.

According to the Times:

RUSSIA defied stern American warnings yesterday to announce that it had agreed to start shipping nuclear fuel to Iran in three months.

Within hours President Bush vowed to stand by Israel if its security was threatened by Iran’s quest for nuclear weapons. He said that it would be unacceptable for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon.

According to Asian Research:

China has been providing missiles and nuclear technology to Iran for years, experts told a U.S. security committee last week, adding that transactions have continued despite Chinese government promises to improve regulation and prevent nuclear proliferation.

“China has worked actively to dilute the effectiveness of any global response,” said Ilan Berman from the American Foreign Policy Council. “Tehran’s intransigence in this stand-off has been made possible in part by its strategic partnership with Beijing.”

The Heritage Foundation says we should Confront China’s Support for Iran’s Nuclear Weapons, noting that:

China’s security relationship with Iran is broad. Despite over a decade of protests from Washington, China continues to export nuclear technology, chemical weapons precursors, and guided missiles to Iran. Indeed, China is one of Iran’s top two weapons suppliers (with Russia). A report in 2004 by the U.S.-China Security and Review Commission stated that “Chinese entities continue to assist Iran with dual-use missile-related items, raw materials and chemical weapons-related production equipment and technology” and noted that the transfers took place after the Chinese government pledged in December 2003 to withhold missile technology Iran. The Central Intelligence Agency reported in 2004 that “Chinese entities are continuing work on a zirconium production facility at Esfahan that will enable Iran to produce cladding for reactor fuel.” Although Iran was a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and was required to accept International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on its production of zirconium fuel cladding, Iran made no moves to do so, and China exerted no influence to the contrary.

This is a repeat of the similar thwarting by Russian, French, and Chinese efforts to undermine the United States from having any success at attaining meaningful resolutions that would have forced Iraq to open itself up to meaningful weapons inspections. And, just as was the case in Iraq – with Saddam Hussein using the U.N. Oil for Food Program to secure the cooperation of the aforementioned corrupt countries – we are seeing the identical trend building against any effort to place any kind of deterrent against an Iranian nuclear weapons program.

This stuff is eerily similar to the Armageddon scenario depicted in the Book of Revelation and such passages as Ezekiel chapters 37-38. And while I’m not saying that the United States should base its foreign policy on Bible prophecy, I very much am saying that we very much should be acting according to our clear national interests. And we are seeing a very frightening development – a nuclear armed Iran which could be the hair trigger to World War III – happening before our very eyes.

What are we going to do? Should the United States passively sit by while a violent and apocalyptic regime such as Iran develops nuclear weapons? Should we similarly tolerate the resulting nuclear proliferation in the Sunni Arab world as a deterrence against the Shiite Iranian bomb?

One thing is increasingly clear: the United Nations is completely incapable of providing any meaningful resolution to one genuine international crisis after another. With its endemic corruption and incompetence, and with the five permanent member states having diametrically opposed agendas, there is simply no possibility that any meaningful action can occur within the halls of the U.N.

This makes the Iraq War all the more relevant as a baromter for the response to Iran’s nuclear campaign.

As I have argued in past articles, how is an American president who condemned the Iraq War, and who calls for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, going to respond against Iran in this hostile international environment?

How could such a president – who condemned the invasion of Iraq – now permit an attack on Iran, or even issue a meaningful threat of such an attack? The same murky “do they have these weapons or not?” scenario will again be the case in Iran; and the same staunch refusal of veto-wielding U.N. members that stymied any resolution against Iraq will again be the case with Iran.

Furthermore, how can a president who has demanded an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from the vulnerable, fledgling Iraq ever possess the moral authority to promise Sunni countries such as Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan that the United States – which does NOT want to see a nuclear arms race in the Islamic world – that it will protect them from a nuclear Shiite state at all costs?

John McCain – his considered flaws aside – is the only candidate who can meaningfully confront Iran and say, “The United States attacked Iraq because we believed it was developing weapons that threatened our vital national security – and I assure you that we will do the same to you unless you stop what you are doing.” He alone can assure the Sunni Arab states, “The United States stood by Iraq even when it was difficult – and I assure you that we will do the same for you.”

We are entering an increasingly frightening world in which we desperately need a leader who has the wisdom and the policy to prevent the Armageddon scenario from unfolding. As was the case in the last great conflagration, strength – and NOT weakness – provides the only chance of avoiding a future cataclysmic horror.  Let it be noted that – to the extent that Iran DID set aside its nuclear weapons program in 2003 – it did so because a powerful American president invaded its next-door-neighbor over its own weapons program.

As a P.S. I have no doubt that some will skim this and say, “There the conservatives go again, using the politics of fear for the sake of partisan advantage.” My response is that such a claim is meaningful if and only if I presented a false case. If I am wrong in contending that Russia and China are not blocking sanctions against Iran; if I am wrong in contending that Iran is a truly peaceful country with no hostile intentions, then present the case. But if I presented an accurate case, then the refusal to take a nuclear weapons-armed Iran seriously is simply a demonstration of such people’s foolishness and inability to comprehend reality.


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