Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Moshiach Controversy in Crown Heights and Beyond: My Comments.

Events in Crown Heights play out in front of a large audience. From race relations to the social dynamics of a community with a high percentage of returnees to Judaism, Crown Heights stays in the news. Bringing Moshiach was a prominent theme in the writings and speeches of the Lubavitcher Rebbe. After his series of strokes, others offered varied interpretations to his non verbal expressions. The third of Tammuz in 1994 was a traumatic event in Lubavitch. On that day was the passing and the funeral of the Rebbe. A significant percentage of Lubavitchers continue to assert that the Rebbe is alive in every clinical and legally intended sense of the word. All agree on the centrality and importance of his teachings and organisational legacy. Arguments rage over whether a person can be Moshiach after his passing. I am far too unlettered to venture educated comment on this question. I remain loyal to my teachers of many years ago who say that the Messiah must be alive in every clinical and legal sense to discharge his duties.
My central focus on this question will sidestep this controversy over whether Moshiach must be from the living. In doing so I refer to the First Book of Shmuel (Samuel) chapter eight, verses five through twenty which read as follows.
And they said unto him: 'Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways; now make us a king to judge us like all the nations.' 6 But the thing displeased Samuel, when they said: 'Give us a king to judge us.' And Samuel prayed unto the LORD. {P} 7 And the LORD said unto Samuel: 'Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee; for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me, that I should not be king over them. 8 According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt even unto this day, in that they have forsaken Me, and served other gods, so do they also unto thee. 9 Now therefore hearken unto their voice; howbeit thou shalt earnestly forewarn them, and shalt declare unto them the manner of the king that shall reign over them.' {S} 10 And Samuel told all the words of the LORD unto the people that asked of him a king. {S} 11 And he said: 'This will be the manner of the king that shall reign over you: he will take your sons, and appoint them unto him, for his chariots, and to be his horsemen; and they shall run before his chariots. 12 And he will appoint them unto him for captains of thousands, and captains of fifties; and to plow his ground, and to reap his harvest, and to make his instruments of war, and the instruments of his chariots. 13 And he will take your daughters to be perfumers, and to be cooks, and to be bakers. 14 And he will take your fields, and your vineyards, and your oliveyards, even the best of them, and give them to his servants. 15 And he will take the tenth of your seed, and of your vineyards, and give to his officers, and to his servants. 16 And he will take your men-servants, and your maid-servants, and your goodliest young men, and your asses, and put them to his work. 17 He will take the tenth of your flocks; and ye shall be his servants. 18 And ye shall cry out in that day because of your king whom ye shall have chosen you; and the LORD will not answer you in that day.' 19 But the people refused to hearken unto the voice of Samuel; and they said: 'Nay; but there shall be a king over us; 20 that we also may be like all the nations; and that our king may judge us, and go out before us, and fight our battles.' 21 And Samuel heard all the words of the people, and he spoke them in the ears of the LORD."
In this section of the prophets, Shmuel was asked by the people to appoint a king over them so they could be like the surrounding nations. G-d received the request with a note of disapproval, yet instructed Shmuel to accede to the people's request, giving particulars as to how such a request should be carried out. Additionally, G-d warned the people of the problems their wishes might create in the future. In the end, a king was appointed.
The reason I connect this to the current controversy about Moshiach is to point out how the requests of the people were granted by G-d, despite the problems of approving such a request.
It is safe to say that the overwhelming majority of orthodox Jews maintain a belief that Moshiach must be from among the living. Even during the years when the Rebbe spoke live on satellite and cable TV, this was the overwhelming opinion within Lubavitch. It would be difficult to reproach those who continue to believe what Jews have believed for thousands of years, that Moshiach will come from among those who are alive in the clinical and legal sense. If for the sake of argument we impute sinfullness or spiritual weakness to such a belief, Shmuel 1 Chapter eight verses 5-21 establishes a clear precedent of conceding to popular weakness.
The desire of millions of Jews for the coming of the Messiah after thousands of years of disappointments is an incredible persistence of faith. It remains after all these years an unshakable and unmistakable yearning. Accepting the argument that the Rebbe is Moshiach puts one in the uncomfortable position of imputing a weakness of faith to those who continue to wait for and strive to be worthy of messianic redemption.
If those who were weak in faith were granted a king, surely those whose faith is strong should be granted a king, King Moshiach, who conforms to the traditions handed down to them by their teachers. To say that this generation will lose out on redemption if we do not accept that the Rebbe is Moshiach could be seen as imputing weakness to G-d.
An honest prayer would be for a revelation of Moshiach that would put all doubt to rest. The third of Tammuz was a dark day. Walking down Eastern Parkway behind the Rebbe's Aron, (casket) was a time of unspeakable sadness. In that dark moment, a thought occurred to me that even then, when our hopes seemed to be dashed, that Moshiach could come in the blink of an eye, that the days of shiva (seven days of mourning) could be turned into days of joy.
Even as Lubavitch suffers embarassment because of its disputes over Moshiach, the wisdom of the Rebbe's pronouncements are vindicated one after the other. His advocacy of Halachic(orthodox legal) standards for conversions in Israel, his opposition to giving away land in peace negotiations were all vindicated by subsequent events. The dispute over whether or not the Rebbe is Moshiach has drowned out his clear strong voice on these issues, and tarnished the prestige of his emmisaries. The cost in suffering of this disunity among Jews is incalculable.
All Jews are weary from years of waiting and disappointment. Despite this, we persist in our faith. Everything the Rebbe did in his life reflected his connection to Torah and love for G-d , the Jewish People and the children of Noah. (all humanity) More than once when seeing the Rebbe crippled by strokes, it occurred to me that it seemed like a metaphor for the state of the Jewish people. Just as a stroke interferes with the commands of the brain to the limbs, so too is there a disconnect between the head of the Jewish nation and its rank and file. In a metaphorical sense, the Rebbe's suffering seemed to reflect that of the Jewish people.
The Village Voice printed an article recently in which one woman proclaimed that the fast days have been annulled because of what she claims is the arrival of Moshiach. It is an awesome responsibility to instruct others in such matters. Rather than focusing on her as an oddity, one might want to view her extreme beliefs in context of others who have manifested their beliefs in less extreme ways.
In the First Book of Shmuel, G-d acceded to a request that He considered worthy of reproach. Those who believe that the Rebbe is Moshiach , who pray that the eyes of their opponents be opened should consider the possibility of joining their opponents in prayer, in conceding the blindness that we all share as humans of finite perception.
There is a joke that is told differently in different Jewish neighbourhoods. In Crown Heights it is told as follows.
"I've got good news and bad news. The good news is that Moshiach is here. The bad news is that the call came from Williamsburg."
It is fair to say that we are all so desperate for Moshiach that he will be welcome whatever his zip code (or country code) or style of head covering. The sooner we all realise that, the happier we will be.

The Moshiach controversy has figured promptly in Crown Heights. The following article in the Village Voice deals with one of its more extreme manifestations. The article has been widely circulated and discussed in Crown Heights

Sara Kanevsky, a woman in ecstasy
Like many other young men in Crown Heights, Itzik Balulu studies the Talmud and other Jewish texts from early in the morning to well into the night.

But you should see his ride. When he's not ensconced in 770 Eastern Parkway, the center of the Chabad-Lubavitch universe, the 26-year-old Israeli and his crew drive around in a blinged-out Cadillac, a regular kandy-kolored streamline baby. Oy vey.

The Caddy, which they bought a few years ago, is bright yellow and covered with enormous decals featuring a "King Messiah" crown and a picture of the messiah himself: Rebbe Menachem M. Schneerson. A dollar bill is attached to the upper right corner of the windshield—a symbol of the rebbe's practice of handing out dollar bills to his visitors to give to charity.

Among Lubavitchers, the rebbe is more than revered. Officially, he died 14 years ago. But to many Lubavitchers, dead he's not, and the messiah—not just for Jews, but the entire planet—he most certainly is.

When they aren't studying, the yeshiva boys doggedly tool around the city and install yellow flags in homes and businesses. The flags look a lot like the images on the car: a crown and the words "Long Live the King Messiah Forever and Ever." Balulu installed seven last week and just ordered a thousand more from a factory in China. He plans to go to India next year: The rebbe, he says, has advised him to be a Chabad emissary.

For now, Balulu goes to Union Square every Friday afternoon to hand out Chabad materials and to "bar-mitzvah" non-observant Jews. He and the boys usually set up shop beside an Amish cheese vendor at the weekly farmers' market. They tend to get into friendly discussions with passersby, like a recent confab they had with a teenage Korean Christian missionary and the Pennsylvania Amish vendor over the meaning of Orthodox Judaism. Their target, however, is secular Jews. From behind their table festooned with (what else?) yellow flags, the boys ask Jews to pray with them—specifically to repeat, word for word, a prayer referred to as the Yechi chant, which identifies the rebbe as the messiah. Yes, the Messiah.

Schneerson's the reason you see dark-suited young men like Balulu in Union Square every Friday calling to passersby and asking: "Are you Jewish?"—and also the reason there are Chabad houses in Laos and Bangkok and South Africa.

The nerve center, however, remains 770 Eastern Parkway, which has such cachet because it was the home and synagogue of Schneerson, the Chabad-Lubavitch's head rabbi from 1950 until his death in 1994. He is credited with turning a demoralized group of Lubavitch Jews that had moved to Brooklyn in the wake of World War II into a multimillion-dollar global empire that spans more than 70 countries, boasts hundreds of thousands of devotees, and has established beachheads on more than 100 American college campuses.

You'd be hard-pressed to find anyone in Crown Heights who could point to a single character flaw that the rebbe possessed—or still possesses, because people like Sara Kanevsky insist that he never died.

Kanevsky's is a world of constant miracles. Pictures of the rebbe plaster the walls of her third-floor apartment. Every night, she and her friends put on a trance CD of traditional Yiddish hymns set to techno music, and they dance for hours. They take belly-dancing classes that can start at midnight. Her cell-phone ringtone plays the Hebrew messianic slogan Yechi ha Melech, which roughly translates as "Long Live the King Messiah Forever and Ever." She answers the phone with these same words.

Not all Lubavitchers have gotten the message. Even as Chabad has grown into a billion-dollar empire in the wake of the rebbe's death, the battle lines between those who accept Schneerson's demise and those who don't have hardened.

Rabbi Zalman Shmotkin, a spokesman for Chabad, describes the behavior of people like Kanevsky as "more painful than words"—an abuse of the rebbe's message. For some Jews within and outside Chabad, messianism, with its prophecy of a sort of second coming, smacks too much of Christianity. Others say it violates the monotheistic religion's prohibitions against idolatry. And some think it cultish or just too simplistic—a caricature of Jewish teachings.

"At the end of the day, running around saying, 'My guy is the messiah' over and over—it's an echo chamber," says Shmotkin, a 39-year-old rabbi. "And what the rebbe was creating was the opposite of an echo chamber."

Meanwhile, the conflict continues to reverberate. In Crown Heights, messianists and non-messianists pray in separate synagogues, listen to different radio programs, and study in separate houses of learning. Many messianists wear yellow lapel pins adorned with crowns and erect matching yellow flags on the façades of their homes. The two groups do not intermarry.

In a way, Kanevsky herself is a cornerstone of the controversy. A court battle between the two camps is connected to Kanevsky's arrest for doggedly hanging onto the cornerstone of 770 Eastern Parkway during a contretemps outside the building in 2004: The Chabad leadership had obtained a restraining order against the messianists after they defaced the stone. That case is still on appeal.

Meanwhile, the fight continues to play out right inside the building. Chabad, the empire, has its headquarters on the third floor, and it's at war with many of the people who pray and study in the synagogue below.

Last December, as a part of the same court battle, a New York State Supreme Court judge ruled that the owners of the building had the right to remove a banner that the messianists had placed over the Torah ark in the downstairs synagogue. The banner, proclaiming the rebbe "King Messiah Forever and Ever," had been put up by four messianist trustees who were elected to run the synagogue. Naturally enough, they're appealing the judge's ruling.

There are two things that most Lubavitchers agree on: Crown Heights is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and for the messianists, 770 is the holy nerve center. Some consider the building to be the resurrection of the Great Temple, destroyed in Jerusalem in 70 CE. Young people incorporate 770 into their e-mail addresses; older folks try to buy houses with that auspicious number and have built exact replicas of the Neo-Gothic building, which once housed a medical clinic, in places as far-flung as Argentina and Brazil.

Portraits of the rebbe and his wife are fixtures in just about every home. Schneerson was a powerful figure who received heads of state and advised multimillionaire financiers, and his followers cherish their memories of him, even at a house next to his (ostensible) Long Island grave, where the video Encounters With the Rebbe plays on a continuous loop.

Now about that grave: Unlike the thousands of other Lubavitchers, Sara Kanevsky has never paid a visit. She doesn't know who or what is in the grave, but she's certain it's not the rebbe. On the anniversary of his death this past July, while more than 50,000 people waited on a four-hour line outside the cemetery, midnight buses rolled in from Canada, and Israelis camped out for the weekend in the Chabad house next-door, Kanevsky went to 770 to celebrate.

Kanevsky does a lot of celebrating when others are mourning. She says that in the time of redemption, all rules are reversed. Two years ago, she walked around eating ice cream in 770 on a fast day, which led to her being kicked out. And on the most recent fast day this summer, she talked with some Chabad members in Florida who were enjoying a spaghetti dinner. Kanevsky has even written a book in four languages on the new rules.

She acknowledges that to some people in Crown Heights, she appears to be a nut. But even that, she says, is part of the program. "The rebbe says you have to be crazy about moshiach," she says, using the Hebrew word for "messiah." "Miracles are crazy."

Those lubavitchers who believe that Schneerson is the messiah became more vocal about it after the rebbe suffered a debilitating stroke in 1992.

In the preceding year, Schneerson himself had begun to tell his followers that the redemption was imminent. He urged them to do everything in their power to bring it about.

Though he never referred to himself directly as the messiah (the rebbe rarely spoke about himself), some people began to see it that way. At religious gatherings, hundreds of people shouted the Yechi chant. It's unclear what the rebbe thought of these outcries. Messianists say he shook his fist in support; confidantes claim that he was pained by the sight of it; and still others aren't sure whether, after the stroke, the rebbe was able to understand the implications of what was happening before his eyes.

No one really knows how many Lubavitchers believe that Schneerson is the messiah. It's been a mostly futile effort trying to quantify them, though some have tried methods like counting yellow flags. This is partly due to the gradations of belief among the messianists: While many believe that the rebbe's death was an illusion, there are some who accept it but are convinced that he will one day be resurrected; others who believe deeply that he is the messiah but don't publicize it, preferring to keep the whole thing a matter of the heart; and still others who aren't 100 percent sure either way but are afraid to really talk about it, since it has become such a contentious matter. And then there are those, like Kanevsky and Balulu, who proclaim their faith to everyone they meet.

A youthful, 40-year-old mother of seven, Kanevsky and her friends live their lives in a state of near-ecstasy. And while fervor and joyousness are central to all forms of Hasidic Judaism, the messianists' exuberance is unusual.

The crown lies easy upon their heads. In fact, as Kanevsky stands before a cluster of five women sitting on benches in 770, she's wearing not only a form-fitting black skirt and a long-haired wig, but also a necklace with a golden crown attached to it—the symbol of the King Messiah. The jewel-studded crown is larger than her palm. She has two cell phones pressed to her ears. Another cell phone and an iPod rest on the bench in front of her. The devices are recording her daily three-hour radio address and workshop, the topic of which is the redemption. The address is being broadcast live over the Internet. A blown-up portrait of the rebbe has been placed on a bench behind them.

The women pass around grapefruits, figs, and homemade baked tilapia in a large aluminum catering tray. "We call this the fish of the redemption," says regular attendee Devorah Leah Blau as she fills her plate (a friend is rocking Blau's baby).

Kanevsky is largely self-taught, but when she has a question of any significance, she says she consults the rebbe. Like Balulu and others, she does this by either placing a note or asking a question aloud in front of a stack of books containing his collected letters. Then she turns to a page at random and finds that the rebbe has left an answer there. Last week, for example, she wondered in a dream whether her friend Ruth would become a millionaire. When she opened the book, she says, the date of her friend's birthday was on the page—a sign that the rebbe was listening.

After Kanevsky's class ends, she stashes the rebbe's photo behind a bookcase in the women's section. "Did I tell you about the time I got arrested?" she asks. Then she bolts out the door and onto the promenade, which is elevated about 10 feet above the sidewalk. She looks over a stairwell and points down below, to a cornerstone in the façade of the building. In 2002, the Chabad leadership placed a plaque engraved with the words "of blessed memory" beside the cornerstone in honor of Schneerson. The messianists, resenting the implication that Schneerson was no longer alive, vandalized the plaque and put their own in its place. Multiple riots erupted in front of 770, and the police put up barriers and surrounded the plaque.

During one pf the uprisings, Kanevsky saw the commotion and decided to leap from the promenade. But wearing high heels, she fell, and people thought she had broken her ankle. Then she got up and ran to the cornerstone. Her friend Ruth jumped in after her. The women held onto the stone until the police pulled them away.

Zalman Shmotkin acknowledges that Jewish law allows for a great wise figure in every generation, but he's not convinced that Schneerson should be considered the king messiah of them all. Shmotkin, who has an office on the third floor of 770, says he never prays in the building's synagogue. One of his deepest fears is that people will see messianism as the face of Chabad, and that this will alienate them from the rebbe's teachings. "It's so not what we're about," he says.

"It violates common sense and makes the movement seem insane," says David Berger, a historian and the author of The Rebbe, the Messiah, and the Scandal of Orthodox Indifference. "They think it turns people off to Hasidic teaching, and it's a sincere concern."

Berger, himself an observant Jew, says that while researching the book, he watched videos that were filmed at 770 after the rebbe's death. In one, people cleared a path across the synagogue to allow the invisible rebbe to walk to his chair. "When people tell me that the kind of scene I just described is crazy," he says, "I react by saying that there are millions of people in the world who are perfectly normal and intelligent people, who believe that the priest is holding a piece of bread and that this bread is the real presence of Jesus of Nazareth."

With the Lubavitchers as with Christians, messianic beliefs are nuanced, Berger says. He thinks that most Luba- vitchers, either secretly or openly, do believe that the rebbe is the messiah, but that only a small fraction believe he is still alive.

That contention has made Berger the target of severe attacks in the Lubavitch world. And though he staunchly opposes the movement, he says that there are strong theological underpinnings both to the messianism and even to the "seemingly crazy assertion" that the rebbe really didn't die.

"Judaism says that in every generation, there is a righteous person that connects the world to the divine energy," he explains. "If there is no leader, the world would actually cease to exist. So the fact that the rebbe has died and that the world continues to exist is a conundrum to them, and it leads them to believe that the rebbe must not have died. But even people who believe he did die find this to be a challenging question." They resolve it, he adds, by opining that we're living in strange times, or that the rebbe is still providing the divine connection from his grave.

Kanevsky finishes her class in the late afternoon. By that time, Crown Heights is a rush of preparations for Sabbath. She passes hat shops with old-world lettering on their façades, ancient gumball machines, and elderly women begging for some Sabbath charity on the sidewalk. Kanevsky gives each of the women a few dollars and walks into a glatt-kosher meat store. The store sells things like goulash and schnitzel, but Kanevsky is looking for a special kosher chicken.

The store appears to be out of stock. The clerk—who doesn't wear a yellow pin—says to Kanevsky, in Hebrew: "With your luck, Yechi ha Melech, you'll find the meat." She reaches into a pile and finds the last package for sale. Yet another miracle.

Kanevsky continues walking, buying flowers from an Israeli child. She stops in a Caribbean-owned dry cleaners to pick up a jacket and laments that she is out of the moshiach business cards that she normally carries around. Then she remembers that she gave them all out on the subway earlier in the day. As she passes a group of men, one of them calls out: "Moshiach!"

Kanevsky looks over her shoulder. "See? They believe it, too, but don't show it," she says, almost surprised that someone would keep the greatest thing in the world a secret. Then she smiles. "They know what I represent." Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 29, 2008

Thoughts About The Obama Nomination And A Musical Dedication


I watched the convention tonight. fortunately, I was on a live internet chat with frients from the American Sentinel. That is a site to which I am now a regular contributor. I find I share a lot of values and opinions with them. The convention was visually and musically a choreographed event it was intended to awe and tug at the heart strings.When I separated the words from the designer backdrop it was like seeing little ideas dressed in a suit that was five sizes too large. Leni Riefenstahl would have given the whole affair a C+. Before the Obama campaign started its intimidation campaign to suppress the Obama Ayers commercial, I would have considered the comparison with a Nazi propagandist to be in poor taste. Now I think the comparison is acceptable.
I have always felt that political conventions were giant photo ops with no substance. This convention has nothing to offer that changes my mind.
I live among many immigrants who appreciate the opportunities that the Obamas have enjoyed in America. They Obamas enjoy these opportunities and yet make a good living denying that these opportunities exist.
Cubans and Russians appreciate our freedom and the relative bloodlessness of what ethnic strife we do have in America. I have observed the lives that these and other minorities have built in America. These are people who waited in line and came in legally. Here in Brooklyn, you can get music from all over. I get names of bands from taxi drivers and then get the music on You Tube. In honour of the many immigrants who see the beauty of America that the Obamas are paid to denigrate, I am presenting some of my favourite songs. One is a song called "Autumn" from the Russian band DDT. The other song is from the Habana Blues Band, which was featured fairly recently in a film. In honour of Barack Obama, I am including a video clip of the Chinese armed forces on parade. I know that Obama admires the Chinese and thinks we could learn from them, so I'm sure he would appreciate this little song dedication on the occasion of his nomination(It would be bad taste to mention the fondness Obama and the Chinese share for late term abortions ). So I will take this happy occasion of his nomination to reflect on his interesting ideas about freedom of speech , unilateral disarmanent and so many other ideas of Obama that are giving Americans second thoughts. I hope my readers will enjoy this musical selection that I have put together in honour of the Obama nomination.



DDT Autumn

Chinese Military Parade With Music Dub

La Habana Blues band Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Martin Luther King Was A Republican...Deal With It!!!

On this site and on, the companion site to this one, I have referred more than once to the fact that Martin Luther King was a registered Republican. The articles I posted attracted a lot of attention. My normally lethargic site site meter jumped about 260 hits above normal , which is still impressive for my blogs.
I looked to see where my articles were being posted and found this comment at the bottom of the re posted article by a gentleman named "ctdad"
" how nice..." said ctdad,"exploitation of a Great Civil Rights leader just to make a point and am sure being Black had nothing to do with him being there...You don't like or support Obama, that's fine...but to exploit MLK to qualify your position is utterly pathetic.."
Where do I begin with such a comment? Up until now, the Democrats have benefited from a view of American history in which the Democrats were the defenders of the workers and the downtrodden. It was automatically assumed that those who cared about civil rights were Democrats. I also assumed that MLK was a Democrat. The fact that he was a registered Republican is not a matter of debate. It is a hard fact.
To draw a map of the US that divides it by political party leaves out much critical information. In some parts of the country, it is the Republicans who are more liberal and the Democrats more conservative. Lester Maddox, George Wallace and Bull Connor were all Democrats. To understand what makes the Democrats in Mississippi and Georgia different from Democrats in New York requires an excursion into history. The Democrats were in fact pro slavery. The Republican Party was the party of Lincoln. in 1912, forty seven years after the end of the Civil War, it was Democrat Woodrow Wilson who purged the Federal government of African American employees. The Federal troops sent to Little Rock, Arkansas to desegregate the schools there were sent by a Republican, Dwight David Eisenhower. One may certainly question the motives and private opinions of players in history. Richard Nixon is on record as having private feelings of antipathy to Jews. Despite this, he is viewed with gratitude by Jews in Israel and America for his aid to Israel during the Yom Kippur war. He extended this aid with few Jewish voters expressing their gratitude to Nixon at the polls. Nixon came to Israel's aid in the Yom Kippur war against the advice of his Jewish Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. I mention this to point out that personal feelings, political support and economic progress are separate domains that do not progress evenly.
History is not only a recounting of the past. It is in part a political statement and also a work in progress. When information is declassified and data crunched, events are often viewed differently in retrospect. In my neighbourhood of Crown Heights , Herbert Hoover is viewed with reverence for his aid in freeing the previous Lubavitcher Rebbe from death row in a Soviet
prison. In addition, Hoover's direction of relief efforts during the Russian Civil War from 1918 to 1921 are remembered with gratitude. Franklin Roosevelt is regarded with a singular lack of fondness by many Jews who spent the war years in Europe. It is noted that he refused to order the bombing of the railroad tracks leading to Auschwitz. In Jewish circles, there is heated debate of many aspects of World War Two history. I mention Jewish history in connection with the discussion of the civil rights movement simply to point out the evolutionary process through which our view of the past passes. New information comes to light and old information is forgotten. Information is hand picked and sometimes selectively presented. Amnesia can be willful. One's position in society imparts a particular angle of bias. The opinions and perspectives of different classes of society need to be blended to get the whole picture.
CTDAD accuses me of wrongly using the memory of Martin Luther King to advance my own political agenda. In doing this he seems to implicitly impute to King a set of views far closer to his own. Far too often is history taught as a time line and a dry recitation of facts. Properly taught, history should start impassioned arguments as the protagonists of the past come to life in the classroom. King was not an iconic profile. He was not a carefully crafted communique or party operative. He was a complex individual who would seem contradictory when viewed through the prism of our contemporary political bias. Though he was a Republican, he passionately opposed American involvement in Vietnam. He took this position out of principle. In so doing he alienated President Johnson who referred to him as "that Nigger preacher." I wonder if Dr. King's Southern Baptist religious foundation could have served as a cornerstone for a multiracial socially conservative coalition for faith based work for social progress. There is no reason such hopes should die with Dr. King.
I do not believe that King should be regarded with an aura of infallibility. Along with many others,I took part in the anti-war movement. In a moral sense, I believe I share collective guilt in enabling the Cambodian genocide and the ethnic cleansing of the Chinese minority from Vietnam. Many Americans would opine that MLK was wrong about Vietnam. In any case, King's struggle for racial equality was critical to the evolution of America's national character. History is the struggle of imperfect men to achieve collective and individual perfection.
I am glad that "ctdad" vented his anger at me on the MSN bulletin board. The ethnic groups and interest groups that shape the history of a nation pass their memories on to new generations. These descendants of the original players in our nation's ongoing drama retain their inherited memories, seasoned and softened in the collective mainstream. History should properly be viewed as separate strands of narrative complexly braided into a coherent pattern. When history becomes a debate, an argument or a dialogue, I have far more faith that it is being taught correctly.
Iconic history reduces common people to the level of spectators. Historical figures viewed with their complexity and imperfections can impart to us the wisdom and courage to go forward to shape history and make some mistakes along the way.
So thank you, ctdad for bringing some passion to the discussion of the King legacy. If our discussion is impassioned, it shows me that in a sense that Dr. King still lives and that like him we care about the future.

National Association of Black Republicans

Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Tasteless News Network Agrees to Voluntary Compliance With the Fairness Doctrine (Three Videos


Obama Overseas Endorsement


It is by now well known that the Obama campaign is asking the Justice Department to investigate and if possible to prosecute the makers of an ad linking Obama to 60's radical Bill Ayers. So complicated are laws governing campaign financing that you could probably indict a cheeseburger .
Anyone who is familiar with this website is probably aware of our opposition to Barack Obama. Unfortunately, our legal team, headed by Stewart Gatz has advised us that we should bring this web site into voluntary compliance with the fairness doctrine. In practical terms, this means giving equal time to the Obama campaign to present their opinions. Tasteless News Network will continue to present its unique coverage of national and world events. Unfortunately, we must adjust to the new order. Our political analysts anticipate Democratic gains in Congress. This makes a Democratic majority and therefore a Fairness Doctrine quite likely a prospect. For this reason we have appointed Sigmund Hile our Director of fairness and diversity. As a gesture of good will to the Obama Campaign, we are presenting three pro Obama ads. One is an Obama video with stirring patriotic music that I am sure our listeners will appreciate. The other is about Obama's support for hope and change. The other is a photo montage of the Obama campaign with a backdrop of contemporary music. We hope the Obama campaign will appreciate our voluntary compliance with the fairness doctrine. We thank you, dear readers for your understanding.

Obama is for change Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Obama Strategy : When The Truth Hurts, Ban It


Five Minute Video on Obama and Ayers


Anti Obama Ad That Obama Campaign Wants the Justice Department To Ban

No one likes to be trashed by a political opponent. Whining about "negative campaigning" is standard practice when an ad hits too close to home. You can even accuse the other side of lying. If that doesn't work, you can say they are "distorting the facts". You can always muddy the water with counter charges if nothing else seems to work. Sooner or later, public attention will shift elsewhere. Then you can be as unethical as you accuse your opponent of being.
The Obama campaign has added some new pages to the play book. First they try to strong arm radio and TV stations that run an ad that offends them. They threaten boycotts and protests if the ads run. Then they call for the Justice Department to take action against the offending ads. Before even being elected, they want to have the U.S. government take action on statements made in a political campaign. What was the subject of the ads. It was Obama's association with Bill Ayers and the questions it raises about Obama's own social and political values. The ad presents facts that are not in dispute. What grounds are there to ban it? The Obama campaign's aggressive response raises a completely new set of questions. What are Obama's views on free speech? What place would dissent have under an Obama administration. It is not a pretty picture. If this is how he runs for office, how would he behave in power?

The actions of the Obama campaign against the Ayers Obama ad would make a good anti Obama ad. If such an ad ever runs, I'll bet the Obama campaign will try to ban it.

I did not want to run a column today about the presidential campaign. I wanted to put up some Croatian rock videos or some Lucky Dube music. But today's posting is in defense of free speech. America has been attacked by the Obama campaign. Even if you are voting for him, his campaign's attack on free speech affects you. At the top of this posting are two videos the Obama campaign does not want you to see. It is fitting for you, dear readers to know how thin skinned and desperate the Obama campaign is.


Obama camp: Prosecute Simmons

Obama general counsel Bob Bauer today sent a second, sharper letter to the Justice Department, directly attacking the Dallas billionaire funding a harsh attack ad, Harold Simmons.

"We reiterate our request that the Department of Justice fulfill its commitment to take prompt action to investigate and to prosecute the American issues Project, and we further request that the Department of Justice investigate and prosecute Howard (sic) Simmons for a knowing and willful violation of the individual aggregate contribution limits," he wrote.

He called the group's activities "patently illegal."

Bauer made the case that Simmons' group fulfilling its a real nonprofit charter because it hasn't spent any money on anything other than attacking Obama.

The American Issues Project released a statement responding to the letter.

"Having failed in its attempts to get our legal, factual and fully-supported ad off the air, Barack Obama's campaign now wants to put our donors in prison.......hclick here for rest of article Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 25, 2008

The 2008 "Take This Job and Shove It" Award



A truck driver has been fired from his job, for being a good Samaritan. John Acheson was driving his truck on August 4 when he saw two people get out of a BMW and shoot a man dead. He took down the licence plate number and gave chase. A detective called his employer, Sid Wainer and Son to explain Acheson's tardiness. Upon his return to work, Acheson was sternly reprimanded by his employer who said, ""I don't know who you think you are. Maybe you think you're a cowboy."
The final nail in Acheson's coffin was last Tuesday. Acheson saw a passenger in a livery car hit the driver in the head with a hammer and flee. Acheson chased her into an alley and assisted the police in arresting her. His boss called him into his office and fired him, saying.'John, I gotta let you go. You don't know how to mind your own business.'
It is truly mind boggling that Sid Wainer and Son are so completely devoid of public spirit as to punish their employees for having a social conscience. Who on earth would want to work for such a selfish and hard hearted employer as Sid Wainer and Son? I checked to see what kind of business Sid Wainer and Son is. It seems they are a gourmet food company. Who would want to buy from such a company? What sort of individual in business wants you to "mind your own business" when you see a crime. I could not see supporting such a business. If I go to a gourmet food store and see anything from Sid Wainer and Son , I think I might just walk over to another shelf in the store and "mind my own business".
The "Take This Job And Shove It" award goes to Sid Wainer and Son . The prize will be the contents of a fast food restaurant dumpster at closing time for the award recipient's dining pleasure. My heartfelt sympathies to John Acheson . I hope his next job is better .

a hat tip to Phillip Messing of the New York Post Sphere: Related Content

A Note To My Readers and Interesting Questions About Michelle Obama(From Reverend Manning)

In a previous post, I put up a video that I thought was Barack Obama going postal. Soon after posting it, I found that it was a satire. The voice was brilliant. It really sounded like Obama. I very quickly reworded the title to the post as well as the text to the article, but some of the unrevised versions were posted elsewhere. I have every intention of posting humour pieces in the future. When going on You Tube, there is often fine print that indicates that a piece is satire. Although Typos are embarrassing, I am infinitely more averse to posting misleading headlines. I apologise for unintentionally misleading readers who picked up my headlines on or News is news. Commentary is commentary and satire is satire. I will certainly be more diligent about employing labels that do not confuse. Henceforth, the Tasteless News Network byline will clearly denote satire and other attempts at comedy
The video in question is clearly satire. But that label should remain firmly affixed as it travels through cyberspace.

There is a Reverend Manning who frequently puts criticisms of Obama into his sermons. Although he sometimes makes racially insensitive remarks, he also asks interesting questions. Like most people, he is a mixture of wisdom, foolishness and the common place. He asks in the following video, "Where is Michelle?" Since she has spoken on political matters and on her husband's behalf, it would seem that she is fair game. I am presenting this video without apologies. It is always helpful in judging a person to look at his inner circle of friends. Reverend Wright, and Bill Ayers alone raise enough questions about what range of ideas would gain respectability in an Obama administration. I will let the video speak for itself. The religious commentary in the last two minutes of the video does not of course reflect my theology.
Sphere: Related Content

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Thoughts About Obama's Uh Speeches and A Call For Bloggers To Help His Family and Village in Kenya



There is more to Obama than Lying. Sometimes, maybe about once every forty five minutes, he changes his stated opinion. (His real opinions are a closely guarded secret.) And once in a great while, a profound thought will occur to Barack Obama, arriving like a Chicago city after midnight at t rare intervals .
What does Obama do as he is waiting for his next great thought? Is he writing a check to his brother in Kenya? Is he building a school for his ancestral village? While waiting for his next great thought, when he is waiting for the technician to turn on his teleprompter , Obama is usually uh
he is usually uh.....
Trust me. Obama is good for Uhmerica. If you don't believe me, then watch um these ahhh videos and umm make up your ahhh mind for yourself . Remember when people used to say he is articulate.
On a morer serious note, I am truly saddened by the poverty of Obama's relatives. If anyone can e-mail me with a real and honest link to a charity that is donating money to his village and his family, I will announce it on my site and donate to it myself. I think Americans can and should make good on Obama's promises. Perhaps his forgotten vows will spur others to do good for his family in Kenya. Sphere: Related Content

Obama Goes Postal.!!!!!!!!! ,,,(Language Advisory

Obama loses it....PRICELESS !!!!!!!!!!!!!! He really goes postal !!!!


John McCain has been receiving unexpected help for his cash strapped campaign from an unexpected source. The Obama campaign has handed John McCain a treasure trove of photo ops. With Joe Biden selected as Obama's running mate, all of the Biden video clips in which he trashes Obama will prove to be of inestimable worth to the Obama campaign. When he was not making insensitive remarks and putting his foot in his mouth he made cogent and articulate arguments against Obama running for President. Speaking against Obama in front of live microphones has saved the McCain campaign a lot of money.
A major question voters have is how a President reacts to the stress of high office. Barack Obama provides us a candid glimpse of himself during a high stress moment. In the past, Obama melted down without his teleprompter. He flopped at Saddleback. He flip flopped everywhere else.When Biden falters in providing sound bites for the McCain campaign, Barack Hussein Obama provides them with both comic relief and arguments against voting for the Democratic ticket.
If the fairness doctrine were ever put in place, Obama's own video footage would satisfy the equal time requirements AND demonstrate his incompetency. With Jimmy Carter scheduled to speak at the Democratic Party convention, it is clear that the ineptitude of the Obama campaign is of truly Olympic proportions.
It is with pleasure that I present the video with this posting of Obama going postal at a campaign rally. A close examination of the tape proves that it is a spoof, but someone has Obama's voice down to a tee. I am sure that with time,as the campaign heats up Obama will provide us with a lot more laughs in his own voice. If they ever write a TV script about an incompetent substitute teacher in a rough school. Obama could send this in as his audition tape. I wish Obama luck completing his Senate term or in a career as a sitcom comedian.
Sphere: Related Content

Friday, August 22, 2008

T.N.N. (Tasteless News Network) A Dispatch and a Press release from Manuel Layber on His Obama Campaign Website



******************** ****************************** ********************

Tasteless News Network has a serious side. We like our readers to be educated in the latest technology. To keep America great, it is imperative that its citizens be educated in modern technology. To advance this end, T.N.N. has provided the following video footage from the sixth floor of its vast video archive selection. I extend my heartfelt thanks to my archivist, Ms. Dusty Page for making these selections available to me.
The Manuel Layber blog is still up on the Obama website. You can see it yourself. His lates activity is his defense of peanut wrappers. These are the people who put the brown paper wrappers on peanuts. You don't think about them. I don't think about them. But Manuel Layber does. And Barack Obama's campaign gives him a platform. The big tent that is the democratic Party has a place for Manuel Layber. Sure the tent may have a few pegs missing but so what?

Manuel Layber Defends Peanut Wrappers
Manuel Layber kicked off his grand tour of the American South today. The theme will be "Protecting our Farm Workers." Mr. Layber intends to visit Plains, Georgia and secure guarantees from peanut magnate Jimmy Carter where he will discuss the plight of peanut farm workers.

"I am not concerned about the men on tractors." said Mr. Layber. "They are well paid. What concerns me are the people who wrap the peanuts in brown paper before they get put in the shell. The paper fits perfectly. There is no seam on the paper from shrink wrapping. How do these people live? Are they exposed to hazardous fumes when they glue the shells back together? I opened a peanut the other day and I found a piece of paper rolled up inside. It said "PLEASE HELP US". When my son(he's back from the army on leave) saw it he started laughing, and I realised that my children don't care enough about the downtrodden. So now they are coming with me on my human rights tour.We are going to Georgia to organise the peanut wrappers into a union. It is important to defend the poor and the downtrodden. I am meeting with Jimmy Carter because he cares about poor people. He was one of the poorest presidents in American history. My son says he put the paper in the peanut shell as a joke. It's good that he did, because the peanut wrappers were probably too afraid to speak up. I'm proud of my son. (For sticking up for peanut wrappers , not for going to Iraq) Even if he says he would rather spend his leave waterboardingskiing . He's a real right winger, but I think he is just rebelliing against his upbringing. He said he was voting for McCain, but I think he was just kidding with me.

I hope we are successful. I hope Barack Obama will help the peanut farmers in Georgia. I hear he is really nice to his family in Kenya. He even met them twice. I am sure he wil help us. He will be a poor President Just like Jimmy Carter.

Sphere: Related Content

Thursday, August 21, 2008

T.N.N.(Tasteless News Network) August 21st Dispatches

We don't make the news, We just make it up...

( London, U.K.) Ms. Flicka Byrd, founding director of the Feminist Revolutionary Union of Militant Politicos (F.R.U.M.P.) has appealed to genetic scientists to find a way to end the oppression of women. "Marriage is an institution of patriarchal oppression!" thundered Ms. Byrd. "It can not be reformed. Teaching the human species to reproduce by binary fission will eliminate male oppression in the human species. Amoebas and bacteria have been thriving this way since the dawn of time. The only threat to their peaceful existence is from humans who manufacture antibiotics to oppress them."
Ms. Byrd further defended her unusual her proposal at the F.R.U.M.P. convention by pointing out the revolutionary effect it would have on human society.
"Divorce has skyrocketed in society today." explained Ms. Byrd. With binary fission as the means of human perpetuation, divorce would be eliminated. Not only that, but breaking up would be a good thing, a milestone for every one to look forward to."

***************** ******************** ******************** ***************

The United States Department of Agriculture has come up with a new and nutritious breakfast cereal that is half the price of regular cereal. It will only be available, however to those who are paying with food stamps. The cereal will be known as "Welfare Chex".

***************** ******************* ******************* ******************

Dr. Morley Nutzenbaum , a psychiatrist has been arraigned on charges of insurance fraud. Dr. Nutzenbaum, who does his own book keeping triggered an insurance company investigation when he started giving "Freudian slips" instead of receipts to patients who paid in cash.

********************** ************************ **************************
P.ET.A. activists are in court today in San Francisco in a trademark dispute. A break off group with the same initials advocates eating only meat, because of their opposition to discrimination against life forms with roots. The break off group, known as "People Eating Tasty Animals" is opposed to what it calls "rootism" which it defines as the oppression of life forms with roots." Its founder, Patty Berger said in a statement to the court as follows. "Herbivores are complicit in the systematic oppression of life forms with roots. Just because they don't talk, doesn't mean they don't have feelings. When I eat a quarter pound hamburger, I am siding against the oppressor. I am defending the head of lettuce so cruelly shredded. I am defending carrots and cucumbers that are being skinned alive and potatoes that are being thrown alive into boiling water!!!" At this point, the judge called a brief recess as Ms. Berger started to weep uncontrollably. Judge Hayman Sinsemilla denied a motion for a mistrial, after meeting with the jury and being assured by the foreman that they would not be prejudiced by the outburst.

************************* *********************** **********************
In a related story, over 2100 registered Democratic voters in Chicago have had their registrations invalidated when a check of their addresses revealed that they were living in pet shelters and kennels across the city. The absence of last names caused the computers to reject single names such as "Bowser", "Spot" and "Tiger". A team of attorneys on retainer from P.E.T.A . and the Obama campaign is working pro bono to resubmit the rejected voter registrations. It was explained to the puzzled would be voters that "pro bono" means "for free" and not "for a bone". Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Confession to My Readers


Since starting and back in January of this year, I have stayed faithful to a resolution to always take the high road. Time and time again, I have passed up the opportunity to appeal to the baser instincts in human nature, to cheapen my lofty message with tawdry sensuality. I would like to report that my strategy has been a success in marketing. Unfortunately this has not been the case. I have always sought to take responsibility for my failings. For this reason, I hired a marketing consultant named Ophelia Bein to help me put together winning marketing strategy for my web sites. She suggested that I should indeed add some spice to my web content, to leave the central message unchanged but to add some (forgive me) sensuality to the content of this site. We argued heatedly, and I ordered her to leave my office while I contemplated her recommendations. What started the shouting match was her recommendation that I put up a bikini(!) video on this site. She furthermore stated that I f I would not follow her advice that I would be on my own. On that note, with a heavy heart I went over to the compound housing the archives for this web site. I am happy to say that I did find a Bikini video. Please note that I capitalised the word "Bikini". This is not a typographical error. "Bikini" is the name of a Hungarian rock group from the 1980's. Their music is of a stylistic and technical level that is comparable to American music at that time. Although the music is not so distinctly Hungarian, it does showcase the language. The video has some interesting historical footage, and appears to poke fun at a stodgy old communist bureaucrat.
It was not easy, dear readers to compromise so far as to include an actual bikini video on this web site. It was in fact a painful compromise. I hope that Ophelia Bein is now happy and that my site meter will register stratospheric leaps in circulation. I hope you, dear readers are happy now. So click on the video at the top of this post and check it out. Pssst check it out ... Bikini video... checkitout.... Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Short Takes From Tasteless News Network (T.N.N.)

"I voted for it before I voted against it." Define the word "the"." My maternal uncle liberated Auschwitz even though he's American and even though I don't have a maternal uncle." Tasteless News Network, T.N.N. realises that there is more than one truth and more than one reality. T.N.N. creates its own reality and brings it to you. Here are today's T.N.N. news briefs.

********************** ***************************** **************************
Scientists at South Houston Institute of Technology have discovered a medical treatment that has proven to be 100% effective in stopping recidivism among violent felons. The groundbreaking treatment, known as lead implantation therapy (L.I.T) has proven to be 100% effective in eliminating reincarceration of those who have committed capital offenses. The treatment, which involves multiple implants of lead in various parts of the body, does not even need to be performed by a medical doctor to be effective.
"Preliminary results in our pilot study are very encouraging." said Dr. Roland Stone at an interview at his South Houston office. "Instead of drive by shootings and pushing drugs, now they are pushing daisies. It's a beautiful thing.'

************************ ************************ ***********************

Obama Supports Renaming U.S. Congress (A Press Release)

"Iceland is one of America's most solid allies. Everyone in that tiny country speaks a language other than English. Most Americans by contrast speak English only. Iceland has a population of little more than 300,000, which shows that population control can work. Their parliament, the Althing is the oldest representative assembly in the world. It has been meeting since the year 1000. I have always strived to be all things to all people. Accordingly, I have introduced a bill into the U.S. Senate that would change its name to the Althing, so it too can be all things to all people. After introducing that bill, I intend to vote against it."

******************* ************************** ************************
Dr. Jack Kevorkian, the famous advocate of suicide legalisation has offered to meet with the 84 year old Robert Mugabe in an attempt to resolve the political crisis that cripples that country.
"When I look at Zimbabwe, I see a country in which the body politic is ready to assume room temperature. My whole live has been spent in such sensitive situations. People much younger than Robert Mugabe have valued my professional assistance. I feel that a man of his age and experience would as well."
Dr. Kevorkian was detained briefly at Zimbabwe's national airport in Harare before being taken to police headquarters where President Mugabe had arranged for Kevorkian to meet with leaders of Zimbabwe's opposition parties.

******************** ********************** *************** ***************
Millions of cans of baby formula are being recalled nationwide due to a misunderstanding that has left millions angry and disappointed. "I followed the instructions". fumed Ima Barr- Hopper, who filed a complaint with the Food and drug administration about the tainted formulas." The can said to add one can of water. That's what I did. I added one can of water. And I'm still not pregnant. What the hell do they call it baby formula for if you don't get a baby when you follow the directions? I'm calling my lawyer." Sphere: Related Content

Monday, August 18, 2008

My Thoughts on "Hyphenated Americans

A recurring theme on the blogs lately has been the criticism of "hyphenated Americans". My favourite post in favour of this viewpoint was posted on Lemon Lime Moon. She cited no less an authority than Theodore Roosevelt.
I am a person frequently lost in thoughts about generations past. All four of my grandparents were born in Europe. The collected stories and historical backdrop of my ancestors is the context in which I view America today. America is a nation of immigrants. But we are not a young country. The experiences in the many nations from which we once came are part of the vast pool of collective wisdom that has made this country great. My heart is with the battered Balkans, the birthplace of two of my grandparents. But the hard won wisdom of that tormented region stokes the fires of my gratitude to this country. One of the beauties of America is seeing those who once stood in battle against each other live together as common citizens. I once shopped at a news stand with a Hindu Indian owner and Indian Muslim employees. Everyone worked together to make sure that each employee could pray in the proper time according to his own tradition.
I have seen with my own eyes the seedling of peaceful coexistence being nurtured on American soil. Hope springs eternal that this tender sapling can be transplanted to distant shores not one but many times.
There are American values. There is an American system of government. And there is a body of common experience that defines us, much as every family has its shared memory. But to deprive our citizens of their own memories, to truncate the recollections of individual citizens would diminish the vast reservoir of collective experience that makes this country great and makes this country wise. There are names and lingering echoes of languages once dominant that reflect our past. The Russian names in Alaskan phone books, the African words remaining in some dialects of South Carolina and the Napoleonic legal code of Louisiana are a few of the many diverse brush strokes in the splendid and colourful landscape of our great country. The Cherokee alphabet and the Inuit language stand beside Mark Twain and Langston Hughes as tributaries to the common stream that is America.
A common language is needed to transcend our many differences. A system of law is indispensable to the cause of peace among the diverse strains within our nation. America has a duty to believe in its own preservation and ongoing perfection. Among its citizens, America must always come first. Our memories as individuals remain our gift to the nation, our contribution to the collective awareness.
"The great American melting pot" is a metaphor that illuminates our condition as much as it blinds us. The salad with a common dressing and a mosaic in which different colour tiles are held together in a common picture also provide a framework in which to see ourselves. We must not become prisoners of a single metaphor. Our vast landscape must be viewed at different angles and different levels.
There are and shall be times to transcend our diversity and times to embrace it. The good of our country should always be our overriding interest. Our awareness as individuals should be in service to the nation
E pluribus unum. Out of many, one. Small threads of copper wire are bound together into cable that carries powerful current. Then there is the bundle of arrows in our national emblem that can be broken one by one but find strength in the unity of their separate parts. These are also metaphors with which to view ourselves. E pluribus unum.Out of many, one. G-d bless America. Sphere: Related Content