Jeremiah Wright was once a Muslim

Jeremiah Wright was once a Muslim

Very interesting revelation about Barack Obama’s prejudiced pastor: Infidels Are Cool has discovered that Jeremiah Wright was formerly a Muslim himself. From this old article by Ryan Lizza in The New Republic:

From Wright and others, Obama learned that part of his problem as an organizer was that he was trying to build a confederation of churches but wasn’t showing up in the pews on Sunday. When pastors asked him the inevitable questions about his own spiritual life, Obama would duck them uncomfortably. A Reverend Philips put the problem to him squarely when he learned that Obama didn’t attend services. “It might help your mission if you had a church home,” he told Obama. “It doesn’t matter where, really. What you’re asking from pastors requires us to set aside some of our more priestly concerns in favor of prophesy. That requires a good deal of faith on our part. It makes us want to know just where you’re getting yours from.”

After many lectures like this, Obama decided to take a second look at Wright’s church. Older pastors warned him that Trinity was for “Buppies”–black urban professionals–and didn’t have enough street cred. But Wright was a former Muslim and black nationalist who had studied at Howard and Chicago, and Trinity’s guiding principles–what the church calls the “Black Value System”–included a “Disavowal of the Pursuit of Middleclassness.’”

The crosscurrents appealed to Obama. He came to believe that the church could not only compensate for the limitations of Alinsky-style organizing but could help answer the nagging identity problem he had come to Chicago to solve. “It was a powerful program, this cultural community,” he wrote, “one more pliant than simple nationalism, more sustaining than my own brand of organizing.”

As a result, over the years, Wright became not only Obama’s pastor, but his mentor. The title of Obama’s recent book, The Audacity of Hope, is based on a sermon by Wright. (It’s worth noting, however, that, while Obama’s book is a coolheaded appeal for common ground in an age of political polarization, Wright’s sermon, “The Audacity to Hope,” is a fiery jeremiad about persevering in a world of nuclear arms and racial inequality.) Wright is one of the first people Obama thanked after his Senate victory in 2004, and he recently name-checked Wright in his speech to civil rights leaders in Selma, Alabama.

This raises a lot of interesting questions, such as – could it be that Wright is still more than attached to Islam despite his ostensibly converting? Good question. Hat tip: Little Green Footballs.

Britain: Soft on Terror

Britain: Soft on Terror

Created 2008-04-10 13:54
Abu Qatada, Osama Bin Laden’s “ambassador” to Europe, could hardly have picked a softer target than Britain to promote his particular hate-filled brand of fanaticism. Despite being linked to a number of terrorists and terror organizations (including onetime leader of Al-Qaeda in Iraq Abu Musab Al Zarqawi, Bin Laden’s onetime UK representative Khaled Al Fawwez, and Rachid Ramda who was involved in the 1995 Paris metro bombing, as well as Egypt’s Islamic Jihad, and Chechnya’s Mujahadin) the Court of Appeal has now declared that he cannot be deported to his home country of Jordan, due to concerns about his human rights. 

Having secured a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ between Britain and Jordan, which agrees that he will not be tortured, the government believed that it would have little problem deporting Qatada, but the Court has argued that if a trial were held in that country witnesses against him might first be tortured – and thus it would not be a fair trial, and a clear breach of his human rights. The Home Office will undoubtedly appeal the verdict to the House of Lords, but Britain’s track record for detaining terrorists is not promising. Rights have come increasingly to trump that old fashioned notion of responsibility to the wider community, and judges in recent years seem to have transformed themselves into moral nursemaids, worried for the rights and safety of criminals, but not, it seems, their victims – potential or actual.

Last month it was revealed that two terrorists (one of which was caught with the blueprints for a rocket) were released from prison 17 days early for good behavior. The month before, five Asian-British men convicted for possessing extremist literature (including extracts of an Al-Qaeda manual) were released from prison after their sentences were quashed on appeal. 

Last year a judge ordered two Libyan terror suspects freed, after the Home office had tried to deport them, and Samina Malik, the self-styled “lyrical terrorist”, was given a mere suspended sentence for possessing an Al-Qaeda encyclopedia of Jihad, the Mujahideen poison handbook, and several other works on weaponry and hand-to-hand combat (she had also expressed her admiration for Bin Laden, her enjoyment of watching videos of non-Muslims being massacred or beheaded, and possessed an airside security pass). The list goes on.

These and other terrorists who are free not only make a mockery of British law, apparently untouchable, they also serve as dangerously enigmatic symbols of their war on the West, its values, institutions, people, and history. Consequently if such Jihadis have an impact on impressionable and disgruntled Muslim youths (according to a 2006 Populus poll, 13 per cent of Britain’s Muslims consider the 7/07 London suicide bombers to be martyrs) they have also had a similar affect on some elements of the press, who appear to believe that they are simple free speech martyrs. Their crimes, the argument goes, are only thoughts. The Jihadi is – in this simplistic logic – turned into an intellectual challenging our ideas or trampling down the last remains of Western imperialism. One op-ed piece that appeared in The Times last year, for example, stated that to lock Malik up would be “an affront to society.“  We must have very different notions of society.


Is Couric out at CBS? It’s About Time

Is Couric out at CBS?

Rick Moran
The biggest disaster in the history of news television.

That’s the only way to describe the Katie Couric fiasco at CBS News. The network that once set the standard for news broadcasting is mired so deep in ratings hell that they are thinking of getting rid of Couric after the November elections:

After two years of record-low ratings, both CBS News executives and people close to Katie Couric say that the “CBS Evening News” anchor is likely to leave the network well before her contract expires in 2011 — possibly soon after the presidential inauguration early next year.

Ms. Couric isn’t even halfway through her five-year contract with CBS, which began in June 2006 and pays an annual salary of around $15 million. But CBS executives are under pressure to cut costs and improve ratings for the broadcast, which trails rival newscasts on ABC and NBC by wide margins.

Her departure would cap a difficult episode for CBS, which brought Ms. Couric to the network with considerable fanfare in a bid to catapult “Evening News” back into first place.

Excluding several weeks of her tenure, Ms. Couric never bested the ratings of interim anchor Bob Schieffer, who was named to host the broadcast temporarily after “Evening News” anchor Dan Rather left the newscast in the wake of a discredited report on George W. Bush’s National Guard service.

Couric followed in the footsteps of Scheiffer, Dan Rather, and Walter Cronkite – three journalists who made their bones and learned their craft in print newsrooms and had an abiding love of journalism as a calling and as a craft.

Couric began her career as a weather presenter on local news and never got a clue as to what a “journalist” was all about. It was painfully obvious from the beginning that she was so out of her league that CBS news became something of a laughingstock.

Can CBS News resurrect itself and once again become a force in the news business? Not unless they take at least part of that $15 million they were giving Couric and pour it into resources. They are already talking about teaming up with CNN for some reporting which is probably the wave of the future.

One thing is sure – the experiment involving Katie Couric will long be remembered as one of the biggest goofs in TV history.


Dreams From My Father

Dreams From My Father

By Ann Coulter | 4/10/2008

Since a Chinese graduate student at Columbia University, Minghui Yu, was killed last Friday when black youths violently set upon him, sending him running into traffic to escape, I think B. Hussein Obama ought to start referring to the mindset of the “typical Asian person.”

As of Wednesday, police had no motive for the attack, and witnesses said they heard no demand for money or anything else. The Associated Press reports that the assailant simply said to his friend, “Watch what I do to this guy” before punching Yu.

Meanwhile, let’s revisit the story about Obama’s grandmother being guilty of thinking like a “typical white person.” As recounted in Obama’s autobiography, the only evidence that his grandmother feared black men comes from Obama’s good-for-nothing, chronically unemployed white grandfather, who accuses Grandma of racism as his third excuse not to get dressed and drive her to work.

His grandmother wanted a ride to work at 6:30 in the morning because, the day before, she had been aggressively solicited by a homeless man at the bus stop. On her account, the panhandler “was very aggressive, Barry. Very aggressive. I gave him a dollar and he kept asking. If the bus hadn’t come, I think he might have hit me over the head.”

Even Obama’s shiftless grandfather didn’t play the race card until pretty far into the argument over whether he would drive Grandma to work. First, the good-for-nothing grandfather told Obama that Grandma was just trying to guilt him into driving her, saying, “(S)he just wants me to feel bad.”

Next, he complained about his non-work routine being disrupted, saying: “She’s been catching the bus ever since she started at the bank. … And now, just because she gets pestered a little, she wants to change everything!”

Only after Obama had offered to drive his grandmother to work himself and it was becoming increasingly clear what a selfish lout the grandfather was, did Grandpa produce his trump card. The reason he wouldn’t get his lazy butt dressed and drive Grandma to work was … she was a racist!

As Obama recounts it, on Grandpa’s third try at an excuse, he told Obama: “You know why she’s so scared this time? I’ll tell you why. Before you came in, she told me the fella was black. That’s the real reason she’s bothered. And I just don’t think that’s right.” So I guess I’ll be heading back to the sack now!

That makes sense. It certainly never bothers me when crazy white people harass and threaten me.

This is Obama’s own account of what happened, which – as anyone can see – consisted of his slacker grandfather making a series of excuses to avoid having to drive the sole bread-earner in the family to work.

But Obama says, “The words were like a fist in my stomach, and I wobbled to regain my composure.” (It was as if he had been punched by an aggressive panhandler at a bus stop!) And not because his grandfather’s sorry excuse reminded him that he came from a long line of callow, worthless men, both black and white.

No, Obama swallowed his grandfather’s pathetic excuse hook, line and sinker, leading Obama to a reverie about his grandparents: “I knew that men who might easily have been my brothers could still inspire their rawest fears.” That’s true – assuming his brothers and sisters were menacing people at bus stops.

How deranged would you have to be to cite this incident as evidence that your grandmother thought like a “typical white person” – as opposed to your grandfather being worthless and lazy? For those keeping score, Obama is aghast at his grandmother’s alleged racism, but had no problem with Jeremiah Wright’s manifest racism.

If Obama is sent reeling by the mere words of an elderly white woman, how is he going to negotiate with a guy like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? What if Ahmadinejad calls him “booger-face”? Will he run crying from the table?

Your grandmother wasn’t a racist, Barack. Your grandpa was just a loser. Can we wrap up our national conversation about race now? I think we’d like to move onto questions about your stupid plan to hold talks with Iran.

Ann Coulter is a bestselling author and syndicated columnist. Her most recent book is Godless: The Church of Liberalism.

Petraeus vs. The Party of Defeat

Petraeus vs. The Party of Defeat

By Jacob Laksin | 4/10/2008

Thou shalt not speak well of Iraq. That was the commandment imperiously handed down by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi this week, in anticipation of General Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker’s testimony before Congress. Alluding to the recent clashes between U.S. and Iraqi forces and rogue Shiite cleric Moqtada Sadr’s militia, Pelosi preemptively reproached the general: “I hope we don’t hear any glorification of what happened in Basra.” It was a vivid illustration of what has become the calcified consensus of the Democratic Party: When it comes to Iraq, all news is bad news. 

General Petraeus, to be sure, did not come to Washington to romanticize the struggles in Iraq. As befitting the analytical strategist that he is, Petraeus kept to a just-the-facts approach, calling the achievements to date “significant but uneven” and “fragile and reversible” in the absence of a sustained commitment by the United States. By way of illustration, he noted that while violence recently has been on the rise, most notably in Basra and Baghdad, the overall security picture has improved markedly. Both the number of major terrorist attacks and the number of civilian deaths has plummeted in recent months.

There was much else in the general’s testimony to defy the Democrats’ fatalism. Contrary to the Democrats’ preferred image of Iraq as a country in disarray, Petraeus related that half of Iraq’s 18 provinces are under government control, with the once-restive province of Anbar expected to join the list in the months to come – a testament to the success of the much-maligned “surge” strategy and the directly related decline in the influence of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Against the critics’ charge that Iraq is an endless drain on American resources, Petraeus pointed out that Iraqis are assuming an ever-larger role for their own security, with Iraqi Security Forces growing to 540,000 troops.

In spotlighting such successes, Petraeus never downplayed the numerous challenges that remain. Despite the encouraging growth in Iraqi troop strength, for instance, individual “units and leaders found wanting in some cases.” Even more problematic, according to Petraeus, is the role of foreign actors, most prominently Iran. The general pointed out that the recent fighting in Basra “highlighted the destructive role Iran has played in funding, training, arming, and directing the so-called special groups….” Funded, trained and directed by Iran’s Quds Force and Hezbollah, these “special groups pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq.”

To say that Democrats did not distinguish themselves in their responses to the general’s testimony is to understate the case. Although the competition for most embarrassing comment ran fierce, top honors surely had to go to Howard Dean. Following the general’s testimony, the Democratic National Committee chairman sent out a fundraising letter assailing Sen. John McCain’s “huge gaffe.” That supposed gaffe? “At least five times as a candidate John McCain has stated that Iran (a Shiite nation) is supporting Al-Qaeda (a Sunni group) in Iraq. This is not some minor mistake, but a significant gaffe. He clearly does not understand the sensitive political dynamics in that region of the world.” In reality, McCain never described al-Qaeda as a Shiite group. What he has said – and what Petraeus’s testimony amply confirmed – is that Iran remains a leading sponsor of terror in Iraq. That leading Democrats persist in denying that fact speaks volumes about their seriousness in the war on terror.

No better was the performance of the Democratic presidential candidates. In his remarks, General Petraeus stressed the importance of maintaining a troop presence to consolidate the progress made in recent months. Drawing down troops was a key priority, but it had to be done “without jeopardizing the security gains that have been made.” To that end, Petraeus advised against further troop withdrawals after the last of the “surge” troops leave this summer.

The logic of that position plainly escaped Hillary Clinton. When her turn to question Petraeus came, Clinton lashed out at the notion that a too-hasty withdrawal would be irresponsible. “I think it could be fair to say that it might well be irresponsible to continue the policy that has not produced the results that have been promised time and time again at such tremendous cost.” Clinton thus dismissed the demonstrable results that the surge already has produced and committed herself to the one course – premature withdrawal – that would be the most likely to undo them. It was an impressive performance only in comparison to her disgraceful exhibition last September, when she all-but called Petraeus a liar and insisted that it would require a “willing suspension of disbelief” to support the U.S. policy in Iraq. Events, needless to say, have been unkind to that view.

Only slightly more pragmatic was the reaction of frontrunner Barack Obama. The Illinois senator had kind words for the general and, to his credit, offered a commendably realistic vision of achievable success in Iraq, one in which “there’s still corruption, but the country is struggling along, but it’s not a threat to its neighbors and it’s not an al-Qaeda base.”

Yet there is one flaw in the kind of success that Obama believes to be within reach: It will be fatally undermined by the immediate withdrawal of troops that has been a centerpiece of Obama’s campaign. Thus, General Petraeus took pains to emphasize that routing al-Qaeda could not be achieved only with counterterrorist strikes. It would require, among other things, “major operations by coalition and Iraqi conventional forces,” as well as “sophisticated intelligence effort.” To remove American troops on Obama’s accelerated timeline, then, would be to frustrate the very real progress that is being made to defeat al-Qaeda in Iraq.

In the end, neither Democratic candidate gave any indication that they understand the stakes in Iraq. Nor was there any evidence that they – or anyone else in their party – would be willing to make the necessary if unpopular decisions needed for success. Sen. Joe Lieberman, himself gracelessly purged from his former party, was entirely on the mark when he described the Democrats’ attitude this week as “hear no progress in Iraq, see no progress in Iraq, and most of all, speak of no progress in Iraq.”

That left Sen. McCain the lone adult in the presidential race. Not shying away from the difficult questions – McCain pressed Petraeus about the underperformance of some Iraqi security forces – the senator nonetheless put the war in its proper context: “Successes is within reach,” he said. “Yet should the United States instead choose to withdraw from Iraq before adequate security is established, we will exchange for this victory, a defeat that is terrible and long lasting.” It was a statement that underscored yet again the difference between McCain and his Democratic counterparts. While Sens. Obama and Clinton are playing to the anti-war gallery, McCain, alone among the presidential contenders, is auditioning for the role of commander-in-chief.

It need hardly be said that success in Iraq is far from assured. But there is no gainsaying that progress – though often painfully slow – continues to be made. That was by no means obvious last fall, when top Democrats were mocking advocates of the surge as fantasists detached from reality. If General Petraeus’s remarks confirmed one thing, it is that today it is the Democratic Party and its presidential paladins who are hopelessly out of touch.

Jacob Laksin is a senior editor for FrontPage Magazine. He is a 2007 Phillips Foundation Journalism Fellow. His e-mail is