Monthly Archives: April 2008

Rev. Brown again

Mark Brown continues thrashing about, offering us a picture of the thoroughly frustrated liberal.  “A lot of white people are freaked out by Wright,” he says.  But “Obama isn’t scary.”

As a member of Wright’s church, he’s not necessarily a Wright “disciple.”  No?  Why did he join and why attend?  He didn’t live near it, it’s not a neighborhood church.  Like many Catholics and many more Protestants, he shopped for a preacher and found one, 20 years ago, and stayed with him until about 36 hours ago

He didn’t pick this church for its liturgy, did he?  OK, maybe the music.  But look, just how much good music can make up for squirming through a ranting sermon you disagree with?  Or even a non-ranting one.

In any case, this United Church of Christ denomination, descended from the Pilgrims, is quintessentially Protestant and therefore pulpit-oriented, not altar-oriented.  O. picked this guy for his preaching and his leadership, not as someone to make him uncomfortable in the pew.

“There’s no secret black agenda that Obama is waiting to promote if he becomes president,” says Brown.  Oh my, this is playground argument.  Brown should quote the guy who said this.

Brown is smug about this: “My point struck painfully close to home,” he says of antagonistic letters he got but does not quote.  He pricked our consciences, did he?  The less his argument convinced people, the better it was?  The madder people get, the more sure he is he’s right.

He knows their deepest thoughts and motivation:

Part of [what people object to] is Wright’s ignorance and part of it is his arrogance and part of it is that he talks louder than white people would prefer and part of it is that he uses the sing-song cadence they associate with other black ministers they have grown to hate over the years such as Jesse Jackson.

Oh my, you mean if he did “sing-song” in praise of the Founding Fathers, we still wouldn’t like it?  Don’t ask.  Brown knows.  He just knows, that’s all.
 
A fellow Oak Parker wryly says about my earlier blogs:
We should really be leaving Mark Brown alone.  As an admitted white liberal he is better than us, just really special in every way.  All these years in Oak Park and you don’t understand that.  I just can’t believe it!
He’s right.  I should know better.  But I have a calling, to make a fuss about such highly personal, highly tendentious stuff that masquerades as journalism — pure opinion, heart-on-sleeve stuff that bespeaks self-absorption and lack of interest in one’s audience except to read their minds and scold.
 
He flaunts his experience:
I’ve seen this happen so many times in politics where black candidates are involved that I’ve lost track. An opponent has trouble attacking the black candidate, so they find somebody connected to the candidate and attack them. I can’t say why this is more prevalent with black politicians unless it’s that the black experience has produced more fringe players who can be used for this purpose.
Examples, please.  And note that ol’ black experience.  What is this election, affirmative action in action?
 
Never mind.  Brown needn’t argue his point, just declaim it:
I know racism when I see it, and the Rev. Wright affair has it in full bloom.
He is one pissed-off dude: 
. . . don’t give me the “double standard” baloney. If we could ever clean up the white racism, the thing that some of you consider black racism would take care of itself.
He’s got it figured, all right.  Would make a great addition to the pulpit of The Church of the True Believer.  I can see it on You Tube now.

The Stone version

Some measure of how uninformed is Mark Brown’s assessment (below) of Rev. Wright may be gotten from today’s Beachwood Reporter, which cites and links:

Rolling Stone magazine of 14 months ago (through The Daily Howler), describing Obama’s church in radical terms and Obama as its preacher’s grateful disciple:

This is as openly radical a background as any significant American political figure has ever emerged from, as much Malcolm X as Martin Luther King Jr. . . .  The senator ‘affirmed’ his Christian faith in this church; he uses Wright as a ‘sounding board’ to ‘make sure I’m not losing myself in the hype and hoopla.’ Both the title of Obama’s second book, The Audacity of Hope, and the theme for his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in 2004 come from Wright’s sermons. ‘If you want to understand where Barack gets his feeling and rhetoric from,’ says the Rev. Jim Wallis, a leader of the religious left, ‘just look at Jeremiah Wright.’  [Italics added]

On this The Beachwood Reporter commented that it “strains credulity . . . when Obama says Wright is not the same man he has known for 20 years.”

As the Rolling Stone article shows, this is indeed the same Wright – and that’s what concerned Obama so much when he announced his campaign for president that he stuck Wright in a basement.

and

* NY Times of a year ago, which reports the invocation cancellation:

“[Obama] had sampled various faiths but adopted none until he met Mr. Wright, [whose] assertions of widespread white racism and . . . scorching remarks about American government . . . prompted the senator to cancel his delivery of the invocation when he formally announced his candidacy in February.

Wright comes off as a longtime irresponsible extremist, rather than the “generally well-intentioned guy who sometimes says some crazy stuff by white people’s standards” of Brown’s dream world.

 

Leave Obama alone

Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the “God-damn America” man, is “a generally well-intentioned guy who sometimes says some crazy stuff by white people’s standards,” says Sun-Times columnist Mark Brown.

He’s not “this bad, scary guy” that “some people would have you believe,” and neither is his parishioner Obama.  We know this because we’ve been watching him for nearly a year and a half and “definitely have learned some things we didn’t know about him when we started.” 

By now we have “a sense of the man” as “a guy who generally tries to play it safe, who looks for the middle ground” in no way “covering up something sinister,” says Brown, adding an ironic “Please.” 

Brown wants it all to stop.  (His colleague Mary Mitchell cries out, “Leave Jeremiah Wright alone!)  We know all there is to know about Obama, he says.  We know he’s not bad and scary because we have seen him campaigning:

These political candidates can only manipulate their own image to a point. Even with a tightly controlled candidate like Obama, the veneer gets peeled back sooner or later. You see them more or less for who they are.

Right.  And that’s the process going on right now.  But Brown has bailed out.  He’s not paying attention.  As for those who are still paying attention, fascinated by the peeling process, they basically welcome the chance to act on their prejudices. 

Brown:

I take it as a positive that [Obama] didn’t try to sweep away this part of his life [Wright, etc.] in preparation for the campaign.

Obama probably didn’t fully appreciate, though, that there was always a segment of America that was looking for an excuse to justify being against him.

Ah.  The unwashed.  Obama’s unreasonable critics.

While the nation watched

Rev. Wright hit hard yesterday on so-called learning styles, defending blacks as “different” but not therefore “deficient.”  He simplified for his NAACP audience, talking up left– and right-side brain operation, lumping blacks on the side (whichever one it is) that learns by listening and looking.

They loved it.  But he was sanctioning stereotypes, nay justifying them, even glorifying them.  Blacks can’t read?  Do math?  Science?  By their natures?  Whoa.  That’s what some (bad) people have been saying for years.

He seeks to one-up critics by accepting the characterization, glorifying it, using it as excuse — which is dangerous, as no less a spokesman for what’s right and true than Geraldo Rivera said on Fox right after his speech.  Rivera managed to toss out some catchwords that carry his message — lowering of standards, ebonics — but his all-black panel, including talk show host Montel Williams, weren’t buying.

Williams especially went off on a rant about changing school systems (and lowering gas prices).  None of the three picked up on Rivera’s attempt at demurring from Wright’s broadsides vs. schooling as we know it. 

Wright came off as something of an oaf, which I think captures him as well as calling him an anti-American radical.  In any event, the more he has the limelight, the more white voters have to wonder about the Dems’ half-black candidate.  It’s one thing to sit and listen to and be counselled by a radical, another to do that and be done that by a jerk.

To indict or not to indict was the question

NY Times man Alan Feuer has an account of the NY cops’ acquittal in the killing of the unarmed bride groom, Sean Bell, that tells of conflicting testimony by 50 witnesses, some of it supporting the defense, and reports the politics that might be involved:

It is never comfortable for a district attorney’s office, which relies upon the police to investigate crimes, to prosecute officers. Some lawyers, like Mr. Tacopina, said it was an open question that Mr. [Richard A.]Brown [the D.A.] might have sought an indictment in the case to quell the political winds and racial tensions that were rising soon after the shooting.

Mr. [Marvyn M.] Kornberg, the defense lawyer, went one step further, suggesting that by taking the case to trial Mr. Brown had forced Justice [Arthur J.] Cooperman to assume the burden of decision.

“It took the political pressure off Brown, didn’t it?” Mr. Kornberg said. “He could say, ‘Now the court has spoken. I did what I had to do. I presented everything to the judge, and he found against me.’ ”

Rev. Al Sharpton, of Tawana Brawley fame, pressured Brown before the indictment and is currently threatening to shut New York down in protest.

Who, me? I LOVE Indiana

Mark Brown has good clean fun in his Sun-Times column with Indiana-Illinois hostilities, which frankly come as news to me, with talk along the way of bringing “the presidential campaign” — he means the Democrat primary — to a “merciful conclusion.”

Fun is fun, and it’s Sunday morning in Chicago, but the odd Republican here and there, and even the not-odd, thinks this Obama-Clinton fracas is the nicest thing to happen since Grant took Richmond.  The Civil War reference is apt.  Those Dems, tripping on their own petards of identity politics — black vs. female in this case — are in big trouble, heading for Denver in August when s—t will hit the fan and splash all over everyone.

So go, Hill, who has deflated or at least lowered pressure in the Barack balloon, as he did to hers a while back.  And Dems, keep parcelling out elected delegates proportionally, state by state, keeping the race close.  McGovernology rules!

Minister past his prime comes up short

Tony Blair hopped a train with no money in his pocket, nor check, nor credit card, nor ticket.  That last omission near tripped him up.  His bodyguard offered to pony up the $49, but the “inspector” (we’d say conductor) said skip it. 

The whole thing led Political Diary’s John Fund to observe:

It’s one thing for the Queen to proceed through life without having to worry about carrying any of the coins or bills that bear her image. But now that he’s a private citizen, Mr. Blair should make at least an effort to pretend once again he’s a normal human being.

If he does, and succeeds, he will be the not-so-little train passenger that could.

Moreover, if I were the queen, I’d have those coins and bills ready with my picture on them.

Obama at lectern

“Meet Professor Obama,” says Chi Trib’s John McCormick.  He’s

the sometimes aloof campaigner who can come across as a bit smug and has been known to talk about such things as arugula, an upscale leafy green, in places like corn-fed Iowa.

You can feel you’re in his classroom.  He likes order in the classroom.

“Everybody have a seat,” he said . . . in Gary, Ind., as he finished a speech and prepared to take questions. “We’ve still got a little more work to do.”

He tells how to behave:

“Now, there are only a few rules. Rule No. 1: Raise your hand. Don’t shout out at me because there are going to be more questions than I have time,” he said.  . . . . 

He betrays “professorial tendencies,” which “could . . . be used against him in a general election, especially if the liberal elitist branding takes hold,” says McC. 

He was “clumsy” in San Fran when he talked of Pennsylvania job-deprived as clinging to guns or religion, he said, is irritated by accusations of inability to relate to working-class people, but things like “actuarially speaking” come out readily.

Chi Trib studied how he talks.  He’s understandable by high-school seniors or college frosh, Trib found, “two grade levels above Sen. Hillary Clinton,” who speaks to h.s. sophs or juniors.

He scolds, mocked young woman with cell phone in San Antonio: “She’s talking to her girlfriend. She’s all like, ‘Girl, I got a front-row seat.’”  Then a peremptory “Turn off your phone.”

To another in Terre Haute, about to ask him something with something in her mouth: “Take it out.“

He glared at early leavers from small meetings in Iowa. 

But he gets praise as teacher at U. of Chi law school by law prof Cass Sunstein:

“He was thought to be non-ideological, completely prepared, conversational, not full of himself, clear, respectful of all sides and completely on top of the material,”

And from former student Erika Walsh:

“He was one of the least hubristic professors I had.  . . . He’s not an elitist. He certainly has the credentials to be, but he’s interested in people and not condescending at all.”

Hubristic?

Dead together, killed by people

On the day after five bodies were found in a house on Chi’s South Side, in the Chatham neighborhood, once with Avalon considered a high-middle to upper-middle class area, Shante Bradford, 30,

a machine operator who leaves for work at 4 a.m., said the neighborhood is so bad he worries about getting robbed each morning when he goes to his car parked on the street.

“It’s really nothing. Death is nothing,” said Bradford, who lives a half-block from the crime scene.

Antoine Edwards, also 30,

an auto mechanic and father of three, said he doesn’t allow his kids to play outside. Instead, when he can, he takes them to places like restaurants or the movies. 

The bodies were found three hours after an anti-violence group CeaseFire and others announced

a plan to flood violent “hot spots” in the city with residents and outreach workers on weekend nights throughout the summer.

One of those who met for the announcement, Rev. Robin Hood (!), said he was expecting “able-bodied people who can to stand up” to the violence-prone to come forth 

Another, Tio Hardiman, said CeaseFire

will attempt to train residents to . . . resolve . . . conflicts and will ask adult men in high-risk neighborhoods . . . to mentor one child on their block.

He blamed the “mind set of these young people” and dismissed gun-law change as helping things.  “They’ve already got all the guns they need,” he said.

For this quite well-reported story, the Trib used three by-lined reporters and writers and six more reporter-contributors.

Meanwhile, on the op-ed page, Trib columnist Steve Chapman made quick work of gun laws, citing police Supt. Jody Weis’s call for a crackdown on assault guns.  Chapman calls this “the moral equivalent of a placebo” but not as good, since placebos “sometimes help.”

“There are just too many weapons here,” he declared at a Sunday news conference. “Why in the world do we allow citizens to own assault rifles?”

We don’t, Chapman reminds the superintendent, not in Chicago.  Moreover,

The gun Weis villainized is a type of semiautomatic that has a fearsome military appearance but is functionally identical to many legal sporting arms.

And its bark is worse than its bite. As of March 31, there had been 87 homicides in the city. When I asked the Chicago Police Department how many of the murders are known to have involved assault rifles, the answer came back: One.

Anyhow, when assault guns were banned federally 1994–2004,

nationwide, the number of murders committed with rifles and shotguns began falling three years before the law was enacted.

It’s true those gun homicides also fell while the law was in effect.

But “stabbing deaths fell even faster, as did murders involving crowbars, baseball bats and other blunt objects.”  Indeed,

[t]he so-called assault weapons, contrary to what you might assume, were no more powerful or lethal than other, permitted guns.

He adds the clincher argument against gun bans:

[C]riminals, the people most likely to commit violent crimes, were completely unaffected by the ban—for the simple reason that they are not allowed to buy or own guns of any kind.

All you need is a little cause-and-effect reasoning.  It’s a terrible thing that takes from the blather of various political and blatherskites when all they want is to mobilize lots of people for bus rides and marches and give them a feeling they are doing something.  Now there’s a placebo for you.

Crime-busting vs. ACLU-massaging

Tom Roeser talked to “a top level authority on police attitudes” and got an earful for Chicago Daily Observer about law enforcement in Chicago under the new superintendent:

Jody Weis’ appointment…an FBI agent who never wore a uniform nor patrolled a beat…signaled a mayoral disapproval of the department that is ruining morale. [The source] contrasted this with the record of New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani who stood by his department and beat off civil libertarians who tried to super-enforce infractions that hobbled the New York police.

He calls it a “soft revolt.”

“When the mayor and the police superintendent are more interested in pacifying the ACLU than in keeping down crime and going the extra mile for prevention, it’s bound to happen.”

Giuliani cleaned up NYC and lessened the cop-shooting of blacks, claiming as “the most fundamental of civil rights . . . the guarantee that government can give you a reasonable degree of safety.”  He is quoted by Stephen Malanga in City Journal.

“Murder and graffiti are two vastly different crimes,” he explained. “But they are part of the same continuum, and a climate that tolerates one is more likely to tolerate the other.”

NY Times and ACLU howled, and leftist commentators continue to try to debunk his claims.  His top cop plowed ahead:

His police chief, William Bratton, reorganized the NYPD, emphasizing a street-crimes unit that moved around the city, flooding high-crime areas and getting guns off the street.

Not complaining to state legislators to pass yet more unenforced and unforceable laws in a Prohibition-revisited effort to throttle honest citizens while don’t-give-a-hoot gangsters thrive — the Daley-Weis response.

The policing innovations led to a historic drop in crime far beyond what anyone could have imagined, with total crime down by some 64 percent during the Giuliani years, and murder (the most reliable crime statistic) down 67 percent, from 1,960 in Dinkins’s last year to 640 in Giuliani’s last year.

Blacks were among those who profited most from Giuliani-Bratton policies, as detailed by Deroy Murdock:

Take Brooklyn’s largely black 75th Precinct, New York’s toughest. In 1993, 110 of its residents were murdered. In 1998, homicides dropped to 37. Through June 20, 12 people were killed, compared to 19 a year ago.

Between 1993 and 1998, homicides in Bedford-Stuyvesant’s 81st Precinct tumbled 62%, from 26 to 10. In Harlem’s 28th Precinct, murders plummeted from 35 to eight, a 77% plunge.

The New York Post estimated what would have happened had crime galloped at its dismal pre-Giuliani pace. Sixty-four more Asians, 308 more whites, 1,842 more Hispanics and 2,299 more blacks would have been murdered.

In contrast with aggressive policing much bemoaned by liberals, Weis bemoans the situation:

“There are just too many weapons here,” Weis said Sunday. “Too many guns, too many gangs.”

The question is, what do Daley and Weis intend to do about it?

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