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...a sweatshop of moxie

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Barack Is The Future

Comes with a Reflux Capacitor.

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No Risk No Fun

Germany's "TV Total" show has weekly compilations of funny outtakes. The segment is called "Nippel", but don't worry, unless you speak German this is totally work-place friendly.

Call it a change of pace from the recent, unceasing spate of Reverend Wright spewings, both his and mine.

Let's have a real laugh today, or as close to it as Germans can get.


Oh, and "Schwul" means gay. Enjoy!

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Monday, April 28, 2008

Rev Wright Is The New Rich Little

(Welcome Michelle Malkin readers!)

Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr. was the keynote speaker in Detroit, at last night's NAACP branch fundraiser. I watched parts of it on CNN.

I say parts because I literally had to turn away, lower the volume, or just plain turn off the television set when he launched into the more bizarre portions of his address.

Honestly, I didn't know what to expect. I have seen NAACP events before, so I am aware that they are fiery, of course; but after all, he's on the hot seat not only for himself, but for guilt-by-association of his angry rhetoric as mentor to Senator Obama.

Surely, SURELY now is not the time to stoke the fires of controversy?

In choosing to appear on Bill Moyers' show on hallowed PBS, he signalled that he might at least wish to explain himself to audiences who needed more to go on, than damning "soundbites", in CNN reporter Soledad O'Brien's phrase.

But Sundays must bring out the hatefilled-roller in him, because he was up to his old tricks again.

How to describe his performance?

It was as if Rich Little had been crossed with Little Richard.

What with the impersonations, musical renditions, and philosophical musings, I didn't know if I should laugh or stare agape in utter shock.

One commenter at another blog summed it up with a reference a "Generation Jones" member like Barack Obama would instantly recognise:

"If this was "The Gong Show", his singing would have caused Jaye P Morgan to reach for the mallet."

That's hilarious, if it were a joke. This, unfortunately, was reality television with a dash of That's Incredible! thrown in.

Watch it yourself.

His negation that black people are not different (which, he suggests, is whitey short-hand for "deficient" -- a topic he touched on in the Moyers interview), and then going into a long discourse on how genetically superior black people are, was just for starters.

It became too much for me when he did his John F. Kennedy impersonation (to call it mocking wouldn't be amiss), seen in the 3rd video at minute 2:00, saying that no one criticised he and his brother, "Ed", for having accents, but they do black kids.

I can't believe anyone with an undamaged prefrontal cortex would suggest that poor grammar/syntax and regional accents are one and the same.

JFK asked not, not axed not...in fact, neither does Senator Obama and that's why he's successfully running for President.

Why should anyone suggest the standard be more forgiving to other black speakers, many of whom must have been cringing at the very suggestion themselves? Our country needs MORE Barack Obamas and Condoleeza Rices, not less of them.

It could be that during his PBS appearance he wanted to tone himself down, because he felt he would be speaking to a whiter than usual audience. But since the NAACP were made of more like-minded folk, both black and white let me add, despite his knowing full well all media eyes would be on him, he felt he could let loose with another outrageous salvo.

After all, he believes he's been crucified by "corporate media", due to soundbites taken out of context.

I therefore encourage you to take a gander at one of his full sermons here.

H/T: We Need To Stop!

Once again, this is a FULL SERMON, not just a selective portion chosen with rascally malfeseance by those corporate media suits.

See if you like his likening Jesus Christ to perhaps an Abu Ghraib detainee, with Roman soldiers and the "Italian" Pontius Pilate mistreating him during the 1st century occupation of Jerusalem, "Operation Israeli Freedom".

Just in case you missed the inference, Iraqi terrorists are simply like the Jews of old fighting the blood-thirsty regime of colonial despots. If Jesus were alive, in Reverend Wright's world, he would surely be an enemy combatant in Guantanamo, taunted by US servicemen, who are nothing but mindless torturers.

That's one tiny slice in Part 1 of 4 of the sermon. He was merely getting warmed up.

One sermon, ladies and gentlemen, amongst the hundreds listened to for 20 years by Senator Obama.

If nothing else, I congratulate the junior Senator on his staying power...though Obama supporter Miss Winfrey herself decided her time was better spent elsewhere.

As Salena Zito wrote about the Senator's inability to see why this story is relevant, using his now trademarked phrase, just "a distraction":

"This nation has a history of looking closely at its candidates and taking their measure before they vote for them. It is a process that Obama shuns and rival Hillary Clinton thrives on -- and therein lies the problem for Democrats."

H/T: Instapundit

In parting, let me just say this.

To those who believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, and the good Reverend is no different, that's fine. Americans can tolerate a certain amount of outlandishness of speech, and for those who think religious folk are a bit crazy anyway, they will take this in their stride.

People of all hues will even excuse behaviour such as this, citing cultural differences which might be alien to some.

This isn't the problem here.

This isn't a crucifiction, Reverend. This is an investigation.

It isn't about opinions so much as seeking out the judgement expressed by a community leader, close friend and ex-pastor of a man seeking the highest US political office. It's a big deal, because Obama is a big deal. Everything tied to a would-be President of the United States is a big deal.

And when you have a man of God crying conspiracy theories, denouncing his own country as untrammeledly racist, fascist, murderous and deserving of violent retribution for its sins, from the pulpit, the podium, the television show hot seat, wherever, that's kinda a big deal too.

Most Americans look at this man, and flinch in horror.

His views will only be acceptable and make sense to those who believe what he has to say -- and the worry here is that amongst those people, Senator Obama shared those views by tacit, weekly approval.

A Senator from Illinois is bad enough. But a President of the United States, never.


Soledad O'Brien Says Wright Hit a "Homerun"
HipHopmusic.com Commenters Weigh In
Taylor Marsh Sounds Depressed
Michelle Malkin Wonders What Rev. Wright Says in Private
FiredogLake Talks About Everything But the NAACP Speech

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Friday, April 25, 2008

I'll Be Watching Bill Moyers Tonight on PBS

(Welcome Althouse and Dr. Roy readers!)

And you know why?

Because in his first major interview since the now infamous remarks about America from the pulpit, Senator Barack Obama's ex-pastor for 20 years, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright will be on PBS' Bill Moyers Journal tonight.

Some excerpts of the interview have begun to trickle in:

Politicised pulpits and incendiary rhetoric are nothing new in this world. They've existed since the first person went on top of a rock, and harangued crowds about life.

What is striking to other Christians who listened to what he has had to say, saved in video tapes, is that other Christian denominations around the world would be hard-pressed to find similar sermons, full of bitterness, frustration, and just plain hate, at their Sunday services.

I am predicting that he will call his outlandish rhetoric a "wake up call" which he used to get his parishioners' attention.

Nothing gets sinners' attention quicker, he will say, than to point out their horrifying hypocritical sins, even if its by extension -- the sins of all Americans, which comprise America itself.

You can see he can frame this argument about the following sermon:

"Wright delivered his most notorious sermon the Sunday after Sept. 11, 2001, when he suggested that the U.S. had brought on the attacks by committing its own acts of terrorism. "We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," he said in the Sept. 16 service."

...by quoting this injunction from the Bible:

1 Corinthians 6:3 Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life?

Even if he has assuredly forgotten this:

Matthew 7:1 Judge not, that ye be not judged.

Given that he is starting to go out and explain himself, in this show and on Monday 28 April at the National Press Club, I think there will be ample opportunity for him to clarify his statements below.

I can't wait.


Just finished watching the segment, and I have just a few things to say.

First, this was a very controlled response by Rev. Wright. Gone were the preacherman flourishes, full of hellfire and damnation. Obviously that would've been the case, but in no small sense does one get the impression that he was coached very carefully not to reveal any of the hatred he holds very deep inside, as per his words above.

People speak of President Bush having a smirk when he speaks. It's been revealed by many Bush insiders that this is in part his derision of the hypocrisy of public discourse. He would much rather shoot from the hip, but in politics that's suicide, so he resents having to play the "game" of pretending to answer gotcha questions he knows are loaded against him, from the word go.

What few people criticise is that certain black "leaders" and "spokesmen" (in that ridiculous phrase, which doesn't exist anywhere else in the world) have that self-same sardonic smirk when in public.

Until now I thought the worst version of this smirk I had seen was Reverend Al Sharpton. Another example I can mention, which is less political and religious, is Whoopi Goldberg.

But today I add Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr. to the list of smirkers.

It was astoundingly condenscending, and very off-putting to see a man who feels he's been railroaded, when it is merely his own words which did him in.

Again and again he said that his words were taken out of context, but there is NO context where his words would make sense, and be something a Christian pastor would say during A SUNDAY SERMON.

No amount of "It's a black thing, you wouldn't understand" retorts can wipe away the resentment he feels towards this nation, which he was given a chance to explain tonight.

Obviously Bill Moyers was not at pains to be a hard-hitting interviewer. Had it been a Bush operative or associate, the hardball questions would've come fast and furious.

But he played his usual midwifing role of asking amenable questions, the kind a person who truly wants to understand, rather than to judge would (the stark opposite of MSM when dealing with this administration).

I didn't know what to expect, but basically I got Wright Lite. Not even his words about Reverend Farrakhan, who he said is like EF Hutton (when he speaks, black Americans listen...they may not agree, but they listen) sought to pass judgement on what simply cannot stand in our public officials and community leaders.

It's almost as if someone argued that because Pablo Escobar built his Medellin neighbours hospitals and gave them food this would somehow exculpate everything else he did in his life.

No, Reverend. You're going to have to understand what you said is wrong, and moreover, you've caused a lot of damage to your acolyte, Senator Obama.

When minority leaders are caught with their pants down, they ask that the topic of race be "at last" explored.

This is their way of saying that what their words would be more fully understood if people (namely, the white "power structure") understood their struggle and tears better.

Sorry. Not only have we been exploring this topic in earnest for 40 years now, but this isn't going to be another time when all you do to justify your hateful words is to cry racism.

We're past the exploration phase as a nation, Reverend.

Moreover, should Senator Obama not distance himself further from you, a large swath of Americans FROM ALL backgrounds will rightly consider his judgement at fault.

I'll update this one last time, later on, with the PBS video of the interview.

UPDATE: 12:30 AM

Here's the full transcript of the interview. And apparently, the video in two parts, NOT on Youtube, at least not yet.

IN THE COMMENTS: JSU points out another wannabe Smirker-In-Chief.

"McCain's smirkiness is up there with anyone's. Watch every time he says "my friends"...".

Oh God, yes. It's sickening even if you understand where they are coming from. It suggests they have insider info to which you, poor little idiot, could never be fully deep enough to understand.

Whilst I'm being catty and observant, who does Senator John S. McCain III remind you of?

How about Nikita Khrushchev?

See, I could never do that about Senator Obama because Reverend Wright would accuse me of being a racist. "We all look alike, huh!?"

ADDED: In a seering, marvellous review, Ann Althouse uses her legal skills to analyse last night's segment. This passage filleted the interview to the bone.

"The fourth candidate for a hard question is implied by this statement: "That chapter [Psalm 137] ends up with some very brutal words. You used them in one of your sermons." Wright understands the question to call for an explanation of his post-9/11 speech. He speaks first of his pain over 9/11 and explains the thinking behind his sermon:

I had to preach. They came to church wanting to know where is God in this. And so, I had to show them using that Psalm 137, how the people who were carried away into slavery were very angry, very bitter, moved and in their anger from wanting revenge against the armies that had carried them away to slavery, to the babies. That Psalm ends up sayin' "Let's kill the baby-let's bash their heads against the stone." So, now you move from revolt and revulsion as to what has happened to you, to you want revenge. You move from anger with the military to taking it out on the innocents. You wanna kill babies. That's what's going on in Psalm 137. And that's exactly where we are. We want revenge. They wanted revenge. God doesn't wanna leave you there, however. God wants redemption. God wants wholeness. And that's the context, the biblical context I used to try to get people sitting again, in that sanctuary on that Sunday following 9/11, who wanted to know where is God in this? What is God saying? What is God saying? Because I want revenge.

I think he's saying that the Psalm — God speaking? — is saying that people who have suffered want revenge and feel motivated to do terrible things. But he's really held himself open to a terrible interpretation — and calling it my "hermeneutic" isn't going to help. "What is God saying? What is God saying? Because I want revenge." What is Wright saying? That's going to sound to a lot of people as though he's saying 9/11 was God's revenge on America. He quotes the Psalm: "Blessed are they who dash your baby's brains against a rock." Well, now, it really sounds as though he's saying that God blesses the 9/11 hijackers! God damns America and God blesses the hijackers? Wright has not backed down. He's stepped up."

That's it, as clear as day.

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Sunday, April 20, 2008

Live Blogging The Pope's Yankee Stadium Mass

(Welcome Ann Althouse readers! One of the most neutral, pithy blogs around. A joy to read and welcome her readership. And welcome Kelly Clarkson Express fans! Saying hello to the Dawn Patrol readers!)

Having been absent until now for the Pope's visit, allow a spur-of-the-moment Live Blogging of His Holiness' Mass at Yankee Stadium.

My style, as ever combining the reverent and irreverent, will no doubt not be a surprise if this is your first meeting with it. Just know that beneath the blogger-cynic, is a faithful and very enthusiast Catholic penitent.

I start after Cardinal Edward Egan's speech (in both English/Spanish).

14:55 PM EST

Speaking as many languages as I do, I am hyper-conscious of accents. So let me ask you, what accent does Cardinal Egan have...in English?

He slurs his words at the end of every syllable, like an Ealing Studios actor launching into an one-liner.

Perhaps he's thinking of his retirement, said to be coming as soon as the Pope leaves New York.

15:02 PM EST

The Pope was given use of the home team locker room. The band has the honour of the visiting team locker.

It is not known where the musical "acts" will be given sanctuary. They include, according to the NY Times Blog:

"The Harlem Gospel Choir, the Irish tenor Ronan Tynan, the Italian tenor Marcello Giordani, the Puerto Rican singer and guitarist José Feliciano, the Brooklyn-born rhythm-and-blues and soul singer Stephanie Mills, and the jazz and pop singer Harry Connick Jr."

José Feliciano gets around. I just heard him (or someone using his trademark guitar-driven songs) play at an Obama rally, last week.

At 5'5", he's just one inch shorter than the present Pope, one of the few who won't be towering over the Pope (I noticed he gets extra shy around very tall people).

Speaking of musical acts, not being an AI fan, I had no idea who that girl who launched into a very impressive Ave Maria was, yesterday. It was at the end of the St. Joseph's Seminary visit in Yonkers.

It was Kelly Clarkson. Not bad. The Pope himself looked pleasantly surprised.

H/T: Ann Althouse & Ruth Anne Adams

15:18 PM EST

The Homily has started. Everyone has noted how fluent the Pope is, perhaps remembering the halting, oft-times slurring efforts of John Paul the Great.

Perhaps, but the latter always had the ability to convey a lot with the few words at his disposal, often re-shouting the last line to great effect.

Who can forget, when during a youth rally thousands of voices shouted at him, WE LOVE YOU!

"And John Paul LOVES YOU!"

Pope Benedict is a teacher, not a showman. And like a teacher, often you have to rely on his eyes to convey his innermost thoughts.

Usually that would be the case. During the America visit, he's had a smile from ear to ear. I've never seen a man enjoy himself so much. It's like he's come home.

Back to the Homily, he's mentioning how in the country where personal freedom is so valued, obedience to faith are not easy words to utter. Good. Not by ignoring this American tendency will you get people's attention. Grab it, embrace it, challenge it.

If you know only one thing about Americans, it's that Americans love nothing more than a good challenge and plain-speaking.

Benedict XVI, from the moment he stepped on the ground, in fact, even before it, with his impromptu remarks on the plane, laid the foundation for just that during his visit.

15:35 PM EST

He mentioned the 300-pound gorilla for the first time, that I recall. Abortion. Short words, "child in his mother's womb", but the audience stopped him and clapped.

In fact, the audience is now into his Homily. This speech, more than any other so far, reminds me of his monumentally approachable speech during his Inauguration.

He has successfully engaged the audience, and broken the fourth wall.

Now in Spanish.

It's curious how his Spanish remarks are a little more formal, less personalised, and even a little perfunctory. I'm glad he's doing it. But it lacks the brio of the English ones, as he races through it.

Here is the full Homily, in both languages.

15:43 PM EST

The crowd launched into "Benedetto! Benedetto!" for the first time. A little tentative, but I fancy that'll change by the end. It is, after all, a Mass and not a baseball game.

The Profession of Faith is in full swing with a long queue up a ramp (in several languages).

15:54 PM EST

The dishy young Father Jonathan Morris, of Fox News, has said something very true.

Suddenly, people are starting to separate this Pope from his predecessor, by getting to know him better.

Although he mentioned how this Pope's idea of fun is holidaying whilst writing books/speeches/encyclicals, whilst the latter had "a lot of help" in writing his speeches, the fact that perhaps this Pope might have his own brand of charisma is being spoken of, at last.

I myself heard it from my mother, and her friends (some Jewish), who were surprised at how much they liked this new Pope. "He's not as scary as I thought he would be", said one lady.

That goes to show what happens when you look at him on your home ground, and excise the media's opinions of him, via their unrelenting bad coverage of the Catholic Church, vis-a-vis the sex-abuse scandals.

Take him for what he is, not what you believe him to be. At the ripe age of 81, he has so very much to offer.

16:08 PM EST

Resuming the comments after the Liturgy of the Eucharist is over.

16:25 PM EST

The Hymn: This is the Feast.
Situation: Holy Communion is in full swing.
The Scene: 550 priests giving Holy Communion to 58,000 to 60,000 Yankee Stadium congregants.

16:37 PM EST

The Prayer after Communion has been broken with shouts of love from the crowd. The Pontiff looks very amused.

Two items are being blessed on the altar, by the Pope. A cross and a cornerstone intended for St. John Neumann's chapel.

16:41 EST PM

Closing Remarks, as the Mass is officially ended.

I wish I could capture this little man's smile at the end of the Mass.

In the field where so many ghosts are said to inhabit, and where so many dreams have come true, it's almost as if the Pope has finally shed the spectre of John Paul II, and fulfilled some childhood dream.

You know there can never be a piece about New York without those words, "If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere" rabble-rousing their way unto it.

But it's true.

There are many United States of Americas. Most are not Catholic, most are not even religious.

But in this one place and time, people in this stadium are bursting forth with a simple, and may I say, very palpable feeling of joy at being Catholic.

I hope the nightly newscasts will show this, but the cheers are unlike any I have heard (and I've heard many kinds for all types of people around the world).

These cheers are less about the man, as was the case with John Paul II, but more about the feeling of happiness to be Roman Catholics.

Don't think the public are any the less enthusiastic about the slight man before them. That smile is a living testament that he is astonished at the outpouring of love towards him.

The visit to America can be summed up with the words:

He's surprised. He's surprised others. And surprisingly, we all liked it.

Fox News' Shepard Smith is mentioning one viewer's email asking a very human question.

"Wherever he goes, people want to touch him. Isn't this oppressive to him?"

I'll tell you, shy people often crave physical touch without being able to say so. The German angle also gets overplayed too much. Germans are HUGELY emotional people, and hardly the automatons people take them for.

Given all these characteristics, stereotypes, and misunderstandings, isn't it wonderful that we got to see the man for almost a week -- without others telling us what to think about him? That includes people like me.

Take a good look at this guy. He's special. But come to all conclusions on your own.

I'm not sure what if anything will follow, or if this event is over, in which case I am closing the post -- but let me wish you a Happy Passover, should it apply.

This is one world, but there are all kinds of people in it. Let's be happy for our differences, as surely as we are happy for what we share in common.

IN THE COMMENTS: The aptly-named commenter, The Drill SGT, points Sundries to this beautiful rendition of the "Battle Hymn of the Republic", sung by the US Army Chorus in the White House for this music-loving Pope.

The words "stirring" were invented for this Hymn.

Small wonder the half-American Winston Churchill bade it sung at his funeral, at the top of Kings' and Queens' voices.

ADDENDUM: Photos of the Yankee Stadium event.

Waiting for the "4" train to Yankee Stadium, a sight which a mere 30 years ago, wouldn't have been remarkable -- a nun waitin' for a train.

Just outside Yankee Stadium, at a sports bar, a guy is doing what I would've done. Take a photo of the plasma, showing Pope Benedict on telly. You take what life gives you.

Sports shop nearby closed for the day. I think we know where the owner'll be.

I was really impressed by the crowds. Perhaps because the event was free, a lot of minorities ESPECIALLY black Catholics were able to attend gratis. Awesome!

Yankee Stadium, as the Pope Mobile entered. What a cheer.

They're calling it "The Sermon on the Mound". Hehe.

You know when attitudes and enthusiasm are both relaxed? When Bishops in their mitres are waving frantically towards the Pope, at the same moment, whipping out their cameras just inches away from him -- just like the rest of us.

Instead of lacking dignity, I find that refreshing.

Indeed. Bon voyage, Pope Benny!

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Sunday, April 06, 2008

Charlton Heston -- An American Classic

Charlton Heston has died of complications following his fight with Alzheimers. He was 84.

I think a lot of us felt as Argentine actress Norma Aleandro once did, when she was partnered with Heston at the Oscars. Instead of reading the cue-cards with her intro, she stopped, took a deep breath, looked up at the still amazingly handsome actor next to her, and rasped out:

"My God, I can't believe I'm standing next to Moses"

In my opinion, Old Hollywood -- the Hollywood of the epic, of the studio system, of the true cinematic moment of grandiosity and glamour, of plain old family entertainment...is officially over.

May both Rest in Peace.

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