Obama’s Tough Love Speech

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obama church.jpg
OK — I don’t like politicians speaking in churches. I’m behind (or way ahead of) the times.
It’s not my kind of thing, and the beginning of Barack Obama’s speech today at the Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta is the kind of verbage that doesn’t click with me. When Bill Clinton endorsed Gray Davis from a church pulpit in California seemed just as bad as Karl Rove orchestrating offensive RNC mailers to church parish rosters.
But all that said, Obama’s lines here are impressive, and brave — basically tough love for members of the African-American community:

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King’s vision of a beloved community.
We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.
Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.
So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others — all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face — war and poverty; injustice and inequality.
We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.
Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

If I heard more commentary like that from pols — that took risks at the pulpit and did less pandering — I might revise a bit of my objection to this sort of politicking.
But kudos to Barack Obama for surprising a devout secularist today.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

50 comments on “Obama’s Tough Love Speech

  1. Kathleen says:

    pauline.. whenever a candidate enjoys the party establishment’s support, they are in the position of counting the votes and running the show in their state. I don’t know enough about the particular aspect of knowing how to make ballot memories disappear, but having AIPAC money helps you to be the establishment choice for starters. I do know about intra-party struggles for power and how Teddy operates to remain the darling of the party.
    Teddy backed Kerry who chose Obama to address the 04 convention and Ted Sorenson wrote his speech… so you tell me how Obama rose so rapidly, if not for Teddy K. Similarly, I don’t think Hillary would have risen so rapidly herself but for being married to a former president… neither Hillary or Obama are that spectacular on their own.
    Carroll, POA, pauline… thanks for the fireworks today, Praise the lord and keep the ammo coming.

    Reply

  2. pauline says:

    Kathleen:
    Does the “Clinton wing” know how to manipulate Diebold memory cards all by themselves, or, did they need the help of AIPAC in the NH primary?

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  3. Kathleen says:

    I’d say Obama’s rapid rise is due to Teddy K’s help behind the scenes… primarilly to wrest control of the party from the Clinton wing, hence Ted Sorenson writing Obama’s speeches.

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  4. pauline says:

    from 3/2/07
    “So I was not surprised when many of my pro-Palestinian readers expressed great discomfort at my columns criticizing Kool-Aid salesman Barack Obama, the current Lion King of American politics. I knew they would soon be disappointed, but I didn’t know when. Despite the occasional nasty e-mail about my attacks on Obama I knew I would be vindicated.
    Today’s the day.
    All along I have known that our ultimate Kool-Aid salesman would eventually have to drink AIPAC’s own brand of Kool-Aid, and genuflect to the masters of pro-Israel machinations in Washington. AIPAC stands for American Israel Public Affairs Committee. A couple of AIPAC’s employees were recently charged with espionage against the United States. I was shocked, shocked to know there was Israeli gambling, I mean spying, going on. Round up the usual suspects, including Barry Obama.
    Today is the first day of the rest of Barry O’s political life: he enters the AIPAC den and he kneels at the altar. He will pledge to support Israel and to spend American treasure and blood to attack Israel’s enemies. He will drink the AIPAC moonshine.
    Surprised? I’m not. I knew all along that Obama would surrender to AIPAC. What’s to be surprised about? And so my pro-Palestinian friends will have to go through an “agonizing reappraisal” of their support for the O-Man, and have to face the same reality that Obambi has: in the Democratic Party AIPAC calls the shots. Or you get shot.”
    see —
    http://www.israelenews.com/view.asp?ID=625

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  5. Carroll says:

    Yes, POA, it’s the Israelis, the Israelis, the Israelis – always the Israelis.
    Posted by Dan Kervick at January 21, 2008 08:13 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>.
    In 1938 it was the nazis, the nazis, the nazis…and a lot of people chose to make fun of the alarmist who could see where that was going.
    Here is point to Americans concentrating on what the Israelis are doing. First, the US has had it’s little dirty operations abroad from time to time.
    But..read my lips here.
    Israel – Palestine is the first internationally “recongized” illegal occupation and what is now being labeled a genocide that the United States of America has ever “officially” condoned, financed, aided and abetted.
    This isn’t just a human rights disaster and genocide we are “ignoring” in SAfrica..this is one we are “actively” participating in for nothing more than the purpose of special interest domestic politics here in the US.
    We could end it tomorrow without firing a shot, losing a life or spending a dime, by just whispering to Israel in a whisper that would circle the globe, that the US will no longer defend or support their actions. But we don’t.
    If you don’t get what this says about America and why this should be page one every day in this country I don’t know how to convince you.

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  6. Carroll says:

    Posted by Dan Kervick at January 21, 2008 10:52 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    Not to inject myself into the arguement about who is behind Obama…
    But if you go to opensecrets.org and check out his
    contribution sources you will see that 80% of it is from “individual contributors”. That looks great at first, individuals in action… until you realize he has raised almost as much money as Hillary whose chart shows all the money from corps and lobbies.
    Obama didn’t just appear as a new rock star out of nowhere and get all this money over the internet…it takes some serious professional political organizational talent to raise that much money from individual donors and as fast as he has right out of the gate.
    So there is some kind of organization behind Obama, who is impossible to tell…but who fronted the money for the fund raising talent or who donated their fund raising services is something that is worth asking. The media has taked about all the interest groups donating money to the various candidates except Obama.
    Whoever they are, they may be good guys or they may be just another special interest group.
    There is a big ? there.

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  7. pauline says:

    AIPAC lovers and Freedom’s Watch
    ********************
    Today’s Must Read
    By Paul Kiel – January 21, 2008, 9:46AM
    “We spent a good deal of time in the 2006 elections tracking the activity of third party groups on the right, groups with anonymous names like the Economic Freedom Fund. Funded by the most part by millionaire home-builder (and former Swift Boat patron) Bob Perry, the groups swooped in to attack Dem candidates throughout the country, airing radio, TV, and print ads and calling hundreds of thousands of voters with push polls.
    But Perry only gave about $9 million to such groups that year. Freedom’s Watch, with its close White House connections and network of Bob Perrys, is a whole new breed.
    The group aims to raise and spend approximately $250 million for the 2008 cycle, a vast amount of money they apparently plan to use not only on the presidential election, but to greater effect in numerous House and Senate races throughout the country, where six figures can go a long way.
    To review the White House connections: the group is headed by Bradley Blakeman, a former Bush White House official, Mel Sembler, a millionaire former Bush admbassador to Italy, and Ari Fleischer, who serves as the group’s spokesman. Much of its support so far has come from Sembler and casino magnate and billionaire Sheldon Adelson, the sixth richest person in the world. (The group intends to “broaden its base” as time goes on, Fleischer says.) The group got off the ground with a $15 million effort to support the president’s surge strategy in August, but it’s sticking around for the long haul.”
    see —
    http://www.tpmmuckraker.com/archives/cats/must_read/

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  8. pauline says:

    imo, the HRC fix is already in. She could really seal her deal by throwing out a late olive branch and offering Obama the VP spot. Get those independents and minorities locked in and it won’t matter what Obomber really thinks about MLK.

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  9. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “But your self-described gut feeling that Obama’s “meteoric rise” has been engineered by Israeli money “behind the curtain” has no basis in any actual evidence and is straight out of paranoid, tinfoil hat territory”
    I have no expectations of you or anyone else being convinced or influenced by my “gut feeling”. It is only an honest statement about how I “feel” about Obama’s candidacy. The “evidence” I have is Obama’s own statements about Israel and its neighbors, which paints Israel in the same unrealistic positive light that is the hallmark of the pandering we have come to expect from any politician that want to ascend to higher office. And his comments about Iran do not bode well if one wants to elect a candidate that is going to depart from the fearmongering that is used to advance Israel’s desired United States’ policy towards Iran.
    And no, I am not “paranoid”. Listen, why don’t YOU tell me where the money and the media hype came from to elevate this unknown to the possible Presidency in less than five years. Who do YOU know that had even heard of this guy five years ago? And even more relevant, tell me just ONE SINGLE SUBSTANTIVE THING this guy has done to oppose George Bush, or Bush policy, in the last seven years.

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  10. Dan Kervick says:

    POA, you have several valid points to make about the influence of pro-Israel lobbying and advocacy on American politics. But your self-described gut feeling that Obama’s “meteoric rise” has been engineered by Israeli money “behind the curtain” has no basis in any actual evidence and is straight out of paranoid, tinfoil hat territory.
    And you are hardly one to be lecturing others about the evils of “animosity”.

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  11. PissedOffAmerican says:

    And actually, Kervick, it is Guiliani that heads the Haaratz list, which I am well aware of, because it is I that posted the link to that list, here on this site.
    And yes, Obama only rated five points, out of a possible ten. Perhaps it because he only slavors praise on the Israelis, (despite what they are doing to the Palestinians), but isn’t yet powerful enough to actually lend a helping hand in their genocidal efforts.
    Carrol raises a very valid point. If this guy subscribes to King’s ideals, wheres his outrage about what is going on in Gaza? And if he did express such outrage publically, what do you think his chances of makin’ it to the White House would be?

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  12. pauline says:

    Dan wrote;
    “Hillary Clinton is the Aipac candidate.”
    I had a few people over Sunday and played them the “Hacking Democracy” HBO video. One friend cried after she suddenly started to understand the glaring implications of how voting has become so corrupt, and so corrupt with no paper trail. She knew some “ballot stuffing” went on, but she had no idea how easy it was to change vote totals WITH NO PAPER TRAIL!
    I immediately thought of Bev Harris (blackboxvoting.org) and Brad Friedman (bradblog.com) and their super citizen efforts to get the truth out. (I want to think positively about the Nov ’08 elections, but it may be too late.) Even after 2000 and then 2004, the vast majority of voting machines/memory cards from Diebold and the others are hackable with NO PAPER TRAILS.
    When I saw John Zogby on C-Span saying there was a statistically “unexplainable” happening with the NH Dem results. Oh yea, AIPAC wants HRC so bad they can almost taste their bloody profits from her winning in Nov.
    Oh, but it was that HRC wimper, those tears, that made the big dif, right?!
    One thing most Americans gloss over is that politicans are by no means required to tell any truth during their campaigning. HRC will say one thing and do the opposite. Throw in some stealthfully compromised electronic voting machines, and, voila, AIPAC gets their lady in!

    Reply

  13. PissedOffAmerican says:

    I take that back, I am a bigot of sorts. I have absolutely no patience for jackasses.

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  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    “Maybe they are orchestrating Obama’s “meteoric rise” with their “Israeli money” while making it appear there is strong Jewish opposition to Obama”
    WHAT strong Jewish opposition?
    If you don’t think that current foreign policy in the Middle East is 80% fueled, driven, and mandated by the Israelis, than you live in a dream world.
    And if you think a candidate has a preacher’s chance in hell of making it to the White House while being critical of Israel’s undue influence on the politics and policies of the United States, than than you are out of your ever lovin’ mind.
    Look Kervick, you can bury your head in the sand all you want. But you can take your sarcastic animosity and shove it. And don’t be creating these horseshit straw arguments casting me as a bigot, as you are attempting to do. It doesn’t fly anywmore.

    Reply

  15. Turnthecheek says:

    I have no use for preachers. However, religion is a fact of life. If there were no god man would invent one. If religion can help some cope with this cruel world, then it may mitigate the terrible use to which it is put.

    Reply

  16. Dan Kervick says:

    Yes, POA, it’s the Israelis, the Israelis, the Israelis – always the Israelis.
    Don’t you ever get tired of blowing that one note, over and over and over and over? And what exactly are you *for* anyway other than sniffing out Israeli influence behind every twist and turn of American politics?
    Hillary Clinton is the Aipac candidate. And when Ha’aretz recently rated the US presidential candidates in terms of how good they would be for Israel, Obama came in near the bottom of the list. Then Obama was the target of a hostile email campaign within the American Jewish community.
    But of course, maybe all this is just a super clever conspiracy. Maybe this just shows how diabolically ingenious the friends of Israel are. Maybe they are orchestrating Obama’s “meteoric rise” with their “Israeli money” while making it appear there is strong Jewish opposition to Obama. Or I know: Maybe the Israelis and the *blacks* and the *Mexicans* are teaming up to orchestrate Obama’s rise and destroy poor old white boys like Ron Paul.

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  17. Davidson says:

    jpjo,
    Actually, now he’s campaigning in SC with yet another homophobic bigot. This time it’s Bush spiritual advisor, Rev. Caldwell.
    Check it out yourself:
    http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/chronicle/5469706.html
    His ministry which cures gays:
    http://www.kingdombuilders.com/templates/cuskingdombuilders/details.asp?id=23260&PID=236324
    To say you’re against homophobia and yet exploit it for political gain is just disgusting. And yet I can’t see the press holding him accountable. Even during McClurkin (Obama still hasn’t denounced his support), many of Obama’s fervent supporters dismissed the embrace of a bigot as nothing.

    Reply

  18. susan says:

    At the moment, the corporate-financial elite sets the agenda on all critical issues for the Democratic Party. The eventual Democratic presidential candidate in 2008 will be someone who has been carefully tested, vetted and given his or her marching orders by powerful sections of the American oligarchy. Those orders include, of course, the ability to tack to the “left” when necessary, to play the populist card.
    Perhaps this sounds cynical, but, for me, it is simply a statement of fact.
    What keeps me going is that I believe that Margaret Mead was correct when she said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
    This country is filled with thoughtful, committed citizens. We are reading that record numbers of them are turning out to participate in their caucuses and primaries. In addition, the Internet has made it possible for people to share information and work together to achieve common goals. Change is being initiated in countless ways, and, in time, maybe even our elected officials will be compelled to respect and protect our interests rather than betraying them.

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    People, this isn’t the first time Obama has gone to black churches and spoken out against homophobia in front of audiences who are overwhelmingly homophobic.
    Think how much harder it is for him to do this than it is for Clinton or Edwards. Have they ever broached the subject in front of homophobic white evangelicals?
    Posted by Nigel Aimes at January 21, 2008 02:00 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Why are you concentrating on homophobia?

    Reply

  20. Carroll says:

    I can predict the “empathy” deficit that will be shown by Obama and the other candidates on this next bloodbath operation by Israel. It will be the same empathy deficit as when they defended Israel dropping a million cluster bombs in Lebanon..the same deficit that let them justify Israel killing 458 children under the age of sixteen in the name of security.
    ANALYSIS: Israel’s real intention behind sanctions on Gaza Strip
    By Amos Harel and Avi Issacharoff , Haaretz Correspondents
    Tags: military operation
    There is an enormous gap between the reasons Israel is giving for the decision to impose significant sanctions against Hamas rule in the Gaza Strip, and the real intentions behind them. Defense Minister Ehud Barak authorized Thursday a plan for disrupting electricity supply to the Gaza Strip, as well as significantly shrinking fuel shipments.
    This is supposed to reduce the number of Qassam rocket attacks against Sderot and the other border communities.
    In practice, defense officials believe that the Palestinian militants will intensify their attacks in response to the sanctions.
    As such, the real aim of this effort is twofold: to attempt a new form of “escalation” as a response to aggression from Gaza, before Israel embarks on a major military operation there; and to prepare the ground for a more clear-cut isolation of the Gaza Strip – limiting to an absolute minimum Israel’s obligation toward the Palestinians there.
    Several weeks ago, Barak said Israel “is getting closer” to a major operation in the strip. Like Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, Barak is not excited about this possibility. He knows that it will not be easy, and there are no guarantees for positive results. Many soldiers will be killed and so will many innocent Palestinians, because the IDF will employ a massive artillery bombardment before it sends infantry into the crowded built-up areas.
    This will be a “dirty war,” very aggressive, that will have scenes of destruction similar to southern Lebanon in 2006.
    The sole exception: unlike in Lebanon, the population there has nowhere to run.
    Moreover, Ashkenazi has told the cabinet that he will only support an offensive operation if it is long-lasting. If after several weeks of fighting, the IDF is allowed time to carry out arrests and gather intelligence, then the chief of staff sees a point for the operation.
    Defense sources say the sanctions will lead the militants to intensify their attacks to show that they do not succumb to Israeli pressure. And because the sanctions will not be severe – so as not to create a humanitarian crisis – they will not be effective. It is actually expected that the gasoline shortage will have a greater effect than the disruptions in the electricity supply – which normally happens because of equipment breakdowns.
    The decision on sanctions is also an attempt to give expression to the inclination to completely disengage from Gaza. In this way Israel is sending a message to the Palestinian leadership in the strip that it must seek alternatives, however minor, to goods and services coming from Israel. This touches on the day after the Annapolis summit. Failure at the summit may lead Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas into the arms of Hamas. In such a case, Israel is raising a big stop sign at the exit from Ramallah: Passage to Gaza is closed.

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  21. Nigel Aimes says:

    Nancy/SoCal – Exactly right. You’d think Obama was the Anti-Christ himself, to read some of these comments. People, this isn’t the first time Obama has gone to black churches and spoken out against homophobia in front of audiences who are overwhelmingly homophobic.
    Think how much harder it is for him to do this than it is for Clinton or Edwards. Have they ever broached the subject in front of homophobic white evangelicals?
    Now, Obama may have screwed up over McClurkin, but he’s learning fast, but to read some conspiracy into bad choices made on the part of a staffer is just confirmation bias.
    Oh, and by the way, he has the endorsement of Washington Blade editorialist Chris Crain.
    http://tinyurl.com/2qyv6r

    Reply

  22. C N. says:

    I am still waiting for our political representatives to take a more vocal stance on the reduction of global poverty during their campaigns. Just recently Obama introduced the Global Poverty Act in the Senate, but we do not hear him speak much about that type of foreign policy. According to the Borgen Project, 19 billion dollars would eliminate starvation globally.

    Reply

  23. Carroll says:

    Add this to the “empathy” deficit:
    Last update – 14:36 20/01/2008
    UN warns of humanitarian crisis as Israel seals Gaza crossings
    By News Agencies and Haaretz Service
    Tags: Ban Ki-moon, UNRWA, Gaza
    UNITED NATIONS – United Nations officials implored Israel to reverse its decision Friday to seal all border crossings with the Gaza Strip, warning that the violence in the region and cutoff of crucial supplies for 1.4 million Palestinians was provoking a humanitarian crisis.
    The Defense Ministry closed all border crossings with Gaza on Friday and prevented the delivery of a United Nations aid shipment. Only humanitarian cases given Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s personal approval would be allowed through, the ministry said.
    “If milk is low in Gaza, the minister will be asked to approve a milk shipment, and it will enter,” a Defense Ministry spokesman said.
    “Such action cuts off the population from much-needed fuel supplies used to pump water and generate electricity to homes and hospitals,” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said. “If this situation endures, the closure will also cause further shortages of food, medical and relief items in the Gaza Strip.”
    Ban urged an immediate end to the violence engulfing Gaza and southern Israel, including Palestinian sniper and rocket attacks into Israel, and he called on Israel’s defense forces to use “maximum restraint.”
    He said he had “deep concern that the hostilities taking place on the ground will undermine the hopes for peace” that have come out of November’s U.S.-sponsored Mideast peace conference in Annapolis, Maryland.
    The UN Relief and Works Agency, which distributes cooking oil, flour and sugar to hundreds of thousands of Gazans, said it had about two months worth of supplies in its warehouses. However, “Gazans need to supplement the basics with nutritious foods, such as fruit, vegetables and proteins, which have become expensive and hard to find,” said UNRWA spokesman Christopher Gunness.
    The International Committee of the Red Cross called on Israel and the Palestinians to respect international law and stop harming civilians. Christoph Harnisch, head of the organization’s delegation to Israel and the Palestinian territories, said in a statement he was in daily contact with the Israel Defense Forces and Palestinian armed factions in an effort to persuade them to respect the civilian population.
    Defense Ministry spokesman Shlomo Dror said Gazans had sufficient stocks of food so that no one would go hungry. “There is a government decision that there will not be a humanitarian crisis in Gaza,” Dror said.
    The deputy head of Israel’s mission to the United Nations, Daniel Carmon,
    told Reuters Israel’s actions were “what any responsible government would do when it is confronted as we are with this surge of violence and terrorism.”
    He gave no indication of when the closure would end.
    Israel sealed the Gaza border crossings to cut the flow of supplies in an attempt to pressure Hamas to halt its rocket fire, which kept falling in southern Israel. The violence has surged since Tuesday when an Israeli ground and air offensive against rocket squads killed 19 Palestinians.
    The Gaza death toll had risen to 36, including at least 10 civilians, by Saturday.
    “It is a crisis already,” said John Holmes, the UN undersecretary general for humanitarian affairs, who called it “unacceptable” and “morally unjustifiable” that Israel closed the border to a daily average of 120 trucks of food and humanitarian supplies entering Gaza from Israel.
    “In Gaza, we’re getting to a situation where virtually all of the population is dependent on international aid supplies,” he said. “This violence is putting what is already an extremely worrying and fragile humanitarian situation into an even more dangerous context.”
    “The Israeli reaction is not justified by those rocket attacks, even though it’s caused by those rocket attacks,” said Holmes.
    A the behest of Arab and Muslim countries, the UN Human Rights Council will hold an emergency session next Wednesday to examine Israel’s new measures in Gaza, a UN source said.
    “Gaza is completely shut down. This will only add to an already dire situation,” said Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), whose aid shipment on Friday was blocked.
    The decision to close the crossings came after Israel vowed to broaden its military campaign against Gaza militants who have fired more than 130 rockets and 80 mortars at southern Israel in the last three days.

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  24. Carroll says:

    Posted by Nancy/SoCal at January 21, 2008 12:52 AM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>
    No one here is sadder than you in your self absorbed little pretentions. You need to be pucked out of your dorm room and put in the middle of Iraq or Palestine.
    And let your hero “empathy” deficit this:
    UN rights official slams ‘cowardly Israeli war crime’ in Gaza
    Sat Jan 19, 8:08 AM ET
    GENEVA (AFP) – Israel’s targeting of a Hamas government office which caused serious casualties at a nearby wedding party was a “war crime” and those responsible should be punished, a United Nations official said Saturday.
    John Dugard, UN special rapporteur on the human rights situation in the Palestinian territories, also slammed the killing of Palestinians in other attacks and the closing of border crossings.
    “The killing of some 40 Palestinians in Gaza in the past week, the targeting of a Government office near a wedding party venue with what must have been foreseen loss of life and injury to many civilians, and the closure of all crossings into Gaza raise very serious questions about Israel’s respect for international law and its commitment to the peace process,” Dugard said in a statement.
    “Recent action violates the strict prohibition on collective punishment contained in the Fourth Geneva Convention,” Dugard charged in the statement put out by the UN human rights commission.
    “It also violates one of the basic principles of international humanitarian law that military action must distinguish between military targets and civilian targets.”
    He said that “Israel must have known” about the wedding party in the Gaza Strip near to the interior ministry when it launched missiles at the ministry building on Friday.
    The massive air strike destroyed the former interior ministry building in Gaza City, now abandoned, sending a tide of shrapnel crashing against adjacent apartment buildings and killing a 47-year-old woman.
    Around 50 people were wounded in the blast, including several children. At least 30 of the victims had been attending the wedding party near the building.
    “Those responsible for such cowardly action are guilty of serious war crimes and should be prosecuted and punished for their crimes,” Dugard said.
    The United States and other participants in the Annapolis conference in November to relaunch the Middle East peace process “are under both a legal and a moral obligation to compel Israel to cease its actions against Gaza and to restore confidence in the peace process, ensure respect for international law and protect civilian life,” he said.
    “We attacked the building and nothing else,” an Israeli army spokeswoman said of Friday’s raid, calling the target a “headquarters” of the radical Hamas movement which controls the Gaza Strip.
    On Thursday, Israel announced a complete closure of the Gaza Strip after a sharp escalation in rocket and mortar attacks by Palestinian militants on Israeli communities across the border and retaliatory raids by the Israeli army.

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  25. ease e says:

    Why does this appear to be such a shock? The mainstream candidates in both parties pander to voting blocs they’re trying to attract. Obama’s speech focusing on MLK legacy is no different than his admiration of Ronald Reagan the other day. Both messages have political objectives….getting more African American (Ebenezer) and independent voters (Reno Gazette).
    What mainstream candidates in BOTH parties have in common is avoiding an issue that has all to do with $$$, and nothing to do with attracting more voters. And that’s why we’re all at the mercy of the ‘Lobby’, who have us ALL by the balls. Thanks in large part to the complicit, enabling media & press.

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  26. Nancy/SoCal says:

    Wow,all of you sound so cynical and hateful,very sad. How could anyone not be affected by his Iowa victory speech?

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  27. Carroll says:

    And what would MLK have to say about Obama supporting Israel’s right to “self defense”.. (gag)… and his promise to continue US aid for our democratic..(gag)… ally to defend…(gag)..themselves from the people whose land they are occupying and on whom they are carrying out a genocide?
    Huh?…what do you think he would say?
    Someone needs to tell the legal beagles running for Prez that most of us didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday and we don’t need to be lawyers to understand the language in the Genocide laws.
    So don’t give me this flowery MLK I have a dream crapola while you are making me and my country complicit in a genocide that is going on as you speak, has been going on for decades, that you don’t have the balls to speak up against becuase your political aspirations are more important than stopping a genocide.
    And for the self righteous bleeding hearts , hope junkies and hero seekers looking for a “unity movement” and who want to ‘feel good” about themselves and the country…, you ask yourselves sweethearts …if your politicians will pimp for a genocide to bring in the campaign money and help get them elected and then tell you we need a kinder gentler world full of justice and equality, how fast and for how little will they sell your little dreams out? And what does supporting people who support this make you anyway?
    If you don’t “get” that this is “the” moral question for this country, that this is the line in the sand, that this is the sick “deficit” not in the public, but in our government, that this defines in the 21th century what our country stands for, that this is the issue for any politician who wants to assume any office in this country, then enjoy wallowing in your dearly held, poorly thought out priorities and political delusions all the way to the bottom of the pit just like the Germans.
    I will not be joining you in “overlooking” the hypocrisy of my government actively supporting a today genocide while presidential candidates spout platitudes about race and justice and equality.
    I dare Steve or any other policy professional or supporter of any candidate to present this to them and have them deny that Israel is in intent and action, as specified in the Convention, guilty of the crime of genocide and that the US has been complicit in this genocide. In fact write it up as a legal brief since they are lawyers and make them answer on the points of the law.
    The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide
    Article II: In the present Convention, genocide means any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
    (c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; includes the deliberate deprivation of resources needed for the group’s physical survival, such as clean water, food, clothing, shelter or medical services. Deprivation of the means to sustain life can be imposed through confiscation of harvests, blockade of foodstuffs, detention in camps, forcible relocation or expulsion into deserts.
    The crime of genocide has two elements: intent and action. “Intentional” means purposeful. Intent can be proven directly from statements or orders. But more often, it must be inferred from a systematic pattern of coordinated acts.
    Whatever may be the motive for the crime (land expropriation, national security, territorrial integrity, etc.), if the perpetrators commit acts intended to destroy a group, even part of a group, it is genocide.
    (e) Complicity in genocide. “….that would be us, the US government and congress.

    Reply

  28. bellgong says:

    Obama looks lousy. He isn’t as compelling as Clinton, and his pro-nuclear power position lost my vote, that is as big a non-starter as continuation of the war for me. When we pull out of iraq, and there is $6 a gallon gas and economic trouble, america will need the most compelling of voices to raise up above the noise machine, and secure a 2nd and 3rd term for the dems. Otherwise, it’s back to cries of war.
    I just hope Rep Paul doesn’t split the vote come november and give us a new RNC president McEmpire.

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  29. Robert Morrow says:

    Obama was created by the “powers that be” because they were/are extremely concerned that Hillary could blow a general election in a year that Democrats should normally be doing very well.
    It is because Hillary and Bill are pure and total trash and they have made a LOT of enemie due to their sociopathic personal violations over the decades. People do not forget that.
    Nominate Hillary and it is suddenly a “roll of the dice” for the Democratic party. Clinton pond scum is the only thing that can unify and energized a fragmented, demoralized Republican party at this point.
    I would like to thank and commend the MSM for helping to build up and create Barack Obama. He seems to be a decent guy; he did not nearly murder Gennifer Flowers’ neighbor on 6-26-92 like the Clintons did. He does not hire private detectives to cover for a pervert and sexual terrorist like Hillary does. He does not lie every 15 minutes like the Clintons do.
    Obama always likes to point out that he is a Chicago White Sox fan … which I think is a perfect contrast to Hillary who is a Cubs fan one minute, an ardent Yankee fan the other.
    That is why it is silly for people to take Hillary’s policy positions at face value. If you do, you are quite the fool, because it matters not a whit to her if she were ever able to con her way somehow into POTUS.

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  30. JoeCHI says:

    Obama was endorsed TODAY by Bush’s spiritual advisor, pastor Kirbyjon Caldwell in Texas.
    Caldwell heads a ministry, METANOIA, that runs a “de-gayifying” program for youth.
    http://www.kingdombuilders.com/templates/cuskingdombuilders/details.asp?id=23260&PID=236324
    He was endorsed last fall by another ex-gay minister named Donnie McClurkin. McClurkin performed for Obama in a South Carolina gospel tour last fall.
    What is it with Obama and his willingness to give a wink and nod to those African Americans that are homophobic.

    Reply

  31. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Obama scares the shit out of me. He’s not what he presents himself to be, and whatever power behind the curtain that bought his meteoric rise to notoriety has not yet revealed itself. Personally, I think Israeli money had no small part in his marketing. Just call it a gut feeling on my part.
    His comments about executive abuse have not recieved the attention they deserve. He basically gave Bush a pass, and said that Bush has not exceeded his executive authority. Its one thing to neglect to hold our President accountable for known and indisputable illegal executive abuses, (both domestic and international C-R-I-M-E-S), its quite another thing to publically deny that any abuses, (C-R-I-M-E-S) occurred.
    And its not real encouraging to see him dredge up the ‘ol “anti-semitism” canard in his speech. Hey, kinda like pandering to two birds with one stone. Did ya catch his immigrant inclusion? I don’t suppose we can rely on Obama to cut Israel’s undeserved and burdensome umbilical cord, nor can we expect him to deal with our unsecured and porous southern borders.
    Obama is 99.9% a media construct. And judging by the performance of our “fourth Estate” these last seven years, one would be well advised to ask themselves why the media created this paper mache wonder boy, Barack Obama.

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  32. DonS says:

    We get it, Linda. We did read the whole speech. We understand your enthusiasm. Thanks for reminding us.
    And,no,we weren’t born yesterday.

    Reply

  33. Linda says:

    As I said earlier, most of you have not read the entire speech that does include a lot more but also this and much more:
    “I’m not talking about a budget deficit. I’m not talking about a trade deficit. I’m not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.
    I’m talking about a moral deficit. I’m talking about an empathy deficit. I’m taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.
    We have an empathy deficit when we’re still sending our children down corridors of shame – schools in the forgotten corners of America where the color of your skin still affects the content of your education.
    We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can’t afford a doctor when their children get sick.
    We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.
    We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should’ve never been authorized and never been waged.
    And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion; when it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed; the sick He calls on us to care for; the least of these He commands that we treat as our own.
    So we have a deficit to close. We have walls – barriers to justice and equality – that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of this hour.”
    End of quote
    Read the whole speech. And why go after Obama who was invited to speech on MLK weekend by the pastor of MLK’s church but was not endorsed by the pastor. His speech was based on a line from MLK: ““Unity is the great need of the hour.”
    Hillary was in Harlem at the Abyssinian Baptist Church to get the endorsement of its minister. And she talked about how impressed she was in high school to travel with her church youth group to hear MLK speak.
    Bill will be at another MLK celebration here in Atlanta tomorrow.
    It’s very cold in Atlanta, but this is a time when perhaps it would be good to take a deep breath and remember MLK’s legacy. Either of the front runners in the Democratic party will do better to honor that than any of the Republicans. It’s not all about race or gender but about turning this country around in a direction where there will be fewer inequalities and fulfilling MLK’s dreams.

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  34. Debojg says:

    I read somewhere that Obama needs to move more toward substance on policies. That said; he sounds like someone else I love; RFK:
    On this generation of Americans falls the burden of proving to the world that we really mean it when we say all men are created free and are equal before the law. All of us might wish at times that we lived in a more tranquil world, but we don’t. And if our times are difficult and perplexing, so are they challenging and filled with opportunity.

    Reply

  35. DonS says:

    I share Steve’s aversion to pulpit politics. I mean we don’t like it when Pat Robertson does it, or Jerry Falwell did it, so let’s be consistent.
    And I can appreciate the well-timed calls for some greater unity of vision that can lead the U.S. out of the really frightful reality we are currently in. Whether or not the vast majority of Americans clammer for that, or simply want their own futures secured, I’m not so sure. But Obama said it anyway, and who can fault that.
    But let’s get down to the damn nitty gritty, because we are no longer floating along on the love of the 60’s. Let’s have some meanigful rheotric to address some meaningful problems. Or at least some signals that are more than cliches.
    I’m not holding my breath. Domestically, I’m not hearing the health industry conglomorates challenged meaningfully. Internationally, I’m not hearing the right wing, and the neocon establishment excoriated as they deserve.
    Nor do I expect it. Mr. Obama and Ms Clinton are in full election mode. Which means pablum for breakfast, lunch and dinner — dressed up as red meat.
    So if Obama “get’s real” with his church going brothers and sisters, it would be nice if he could muster the same courage when he ventures down to Wall Street. Let’s see him challenge the decades old orthodoxy that locks our ME policy in futility and irrelevance.
    Like I said, I’m not holding my breath.

    Reply

  36. Nancy/SoCal says:

    Listening to Obama brings tears to my eyes.

    Reply

  37. Carroll says:

    Rice, ditto (and race has certainly come up in discussions about race and her relationship to the black community).
    Posted by Mike P at January 20, 2008 06:07 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    Well I must have missed it because her race wasn’t of any interest among any one I know. Maybe it was more important to the black community because of the past injustices to blacks in the US…that I can understand.
    Sometimes, more and more actually, I think that talking about differences of race and sex just keeps it going on and on. When I observe young kids and teenagers these days I see a totally sex and color blind generation for the most part.
    Why keep planting the notion that there are fundemental differences in colors and sex? I am not saying don’t talk historically about slavery and it’s horrible aftermath.
    But let the black – white difference of today go the way of the dinosaurs like it already has for the younger generation. Let’s not impose ideas of differences into the minds of the upcoming generation of blacks and whites.

    Reply

  38. arthurdecco says:

    Carroll said: “Let me know when Obama makes the same tough love non pandering speech to the fear and hate mongers over at AIPAC, or to CEO’s and WS to rise above their destructive greed, or to his fellow politicans to rise above their self serving corruption.”
    Amen, Sistah! …Hallelujah!

    Reply

  39. Mike P says:

    Carroll,
    I would be great if Obama didn’t have to talk about race, Clinton about gender, or Romney about religion. I would LOVE it if we could just pick the best person. I really, really would. However, what we want isn’t what we’re going to get (yet). America still has to deal with all of these issues. We just do.
    Powell, had he declared, might have had to deal with this. Rice, ditto (and race has certainly come up in discussions about race and her relationship to the black community).

    Reply

  40. Carroll says:

    You can say that Obama brought race into the election, or you can say Hillary did, but the case is that the cow is out of the barn, both race and gender are are on the table, and we can either deal with it an honest way and put it out there or we can act like these things still don’t affect our politics. The truth of the matter is that to move past these things we need to confront them. And Obama took a risk in this speech; blacks are now an important part of his base (and I as a black man) support him in airing some of the “dirty laundry” of the community. If you don’t find that worthy of discussion, then I don’t know what to tell you.
    Posted by Mike P at January 20, 2008 04:38 PM
    >>>>>>>>>>
    I thought we had already moved past the race and gender thing.
    Was Collin Powell an issue when he was rumored and encouraged to be a candidate…..if so I don’t remember it.
    Was Condi an issue….if so don’t’ remember that one either.
    Now we have to drudge up race and sex so we can make it an election issue? Can’t everyone’s personal race and sex issues wait until after we have elected the best PERSON?
    And let’s air the political system’s dirty laundry please…that’s the dirt the country is suffering from the most.

    Reply

  41. Mike P says:

    Folks,
    He’s speaking about Dr. King at a black church. Do you people honestly think race WASN’T going to come up? Did you think that Obama, even if he has been trying to run as “post-racial” wasn’t going to have to deal with race? You can say that Obama brought race into the election, or you can say Hillary did, but the case is that the cow is out of the barn, both race and gender are are on the table, and we can either deal with it an honest way and put it out there or we can act like these things still don’t affect our politics. The truth of the matter is that to move past these things we need to confront them. And Obama took a risk in this speech; blacks are now an important part of his base (and I as a black man) support him in airing some of the “dirty laundry” of the community. If you don’t find that worthy of discussion, then I don’t know what to tell you.

    Reply

  42. Linda says:

    I’d suggest to some of the commenters above, and actually to everyone, to click on the link in Steve’s blog to read Obama’s entire speech not just the excerpt within the blog. He was asked to speak by the pastor of Ebenezer Baptist to honor MLK. It does include many of the issues and problems that MLK would comment on today, but it also has the spirit of MLK’s Letter from the Birmingham jail.

    Reply

  43. CTown says:

    Penelope, by that yardstick of experience, Dick Cheney would be a fantastic President.

    Reply

  44. Penelope says:

    Mr. Obama is doing his best to make this a race about race – from his opening paragraph in Iowa, he has made this campaign about race.
    The problem with that is, while there are indeed racial/ethnic/cultural issues that plague our country – the most difficult one now is the cloud of hatred that covers those who are of Arabic blood and the religion of Islam.
    However, the biggest problem that I have with Obama is that he doesn’t have the background to deal with the many issues that face our country – right here and right now.
    If someone is looking for a job in the public sector, s/he must have experience and credentials, yet, this man is looking to acquire the most important executive position in this country with nothing more than his dreams.
    Granted, all presidents have staff and advisors, but, I would prefer someone who has at least had some experience other than a few years in the Senate and in state government. Obama, as an educator, should know better and realize that he should know more.
    This is not to say that he wouldn’t be a fine president in the future, after paying his dues, because that’s much of what this is all about. Not just who you are in the moment, but where you have been and what you did.
    The issue has been raised about living in the past, but the past is where we learn – that’s what we take into the future. If there is nothing there, then there is nothing that can be taken forward.

    Reply

  45. jpjo says:

    All that would be fine if he hadn’t campaigned with a character who thinks people need to be cured of homosexualitiy.

    Reply

  46. Bill R. says:

    Well, secularists, most Americans and, especially most African Americans, are religious and their frames for understanding reality,especially political/historical reality, are biblical narrative. When Obama speaks of the transition from the Moses to the Joshua generation it has powerful meaning. The Exodus story kept the African American people from despair during their journey from slavery to segregation and through the civil rights movement. This story is powerful enough for people to put their lives on the line. Soul trumps political calculation and cynicism any day. You may not understand it, but at least you can respect it. It’s a big reason why progressives lose in this country. They are perceived as being, not only intolerant of religious faith as an inspiration for public life, but cynical and despairing.

    Reply

  47. Carroll says:

    My opinion of Obama gets lower with every speech he makes.
    Steve should reread this speech several times to see exactly what Obama is doing.
    Obama says:
    “Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.”
    When he says “our politics’ he leaves out being specific about how “politicans” have warped out government by playing to special and ethnic interest and glosses over it as if the problem arises soley from differences among black and whites which is reinfoced by the media. Then he puts the “onus” on the black community on them having to change their attitude…and what the hell attitude is that?..the one left over from Katrina? And then raises the specter of dogs and firehoses to remind them of injustices and appeal to them emotionally to rise above it.
    This speech isn’t an appeal to unity, it’s keeping black-white on the stove as an issue for blacks, opening old wounds and as a campaign issue.
    90% of every speech Obama makes is actually about “unity, coming together, etc” and only 10% about issues. Although that is a desirable thing Obama seems to constantly reinforce the “differences” so he can then talk about and run on the differences and unity.
    I can’t help the feeling that the Dem establishment and their establishment endorsements of Obama are slipping us a mickey with this Obama-rama. The public must all come together and sing along and go along to get along and all will be well and the system will continue just fine. The issues?…well the only reason we have issues is that the whiney, greedy, bigoted public can’t get along with one another.
    Yep it’s all our fault. If the blacks would just shut up and the whites would just shut up and everyone would quite complaining about jobs and inequity and such, Washington will continue on just fine…just like it always has.
    Let me know when Obama makes the same tough love non pandering speech to the fear and hate mongers over at AIPAC, or to CEO’s and WS to rise above their destructive greed, or to his fellow politicans to rise above their self serving corruption.

    Reply

  48. JoeCHI says:

    It’s Commander-In-Chief, not Preacher-In-Chief.
    Enough with the nebulous mumbo-jumbo. Some policy, please.

    Reply

  49. Lurker says:

    Speaking of “anti-semitism” (the most mis-used word in the world: the more that word is mis-used the more people equate Zionism with the views of all Jews)
    ISRAELI POLITICIANS THREATENING TO PENALIZE WEBSITE POSTERS WITH ANTI-ISRAEL VIEWS
    (Ha’aretz article 1/13/08)
    Web sites could face penalties for withholding talkbackers’ identities
    The Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved Sunday a bill that would absolve Web sites of liability for comments published in talkbacks, on condition that the Web site agree to make the poster’s details available upon request.
    Courts are already able to order Web sites and internet service providers to reveal posters’ technical details (such as their IP address).
    The bill was authored by Yisrael Beiteinu MK Yisrael Hasson and seeks to determine Web sites tort and criminal responsibility for libel in talkbacks. According to the bill, internet Web sites would be defined as a newspaper, and all those who wish to respond would be exposed to law suits and even criminal prosecution.
    (ENTIRE ARTICLE AT LINK)
    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/944245.html

    Reply

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