Friday, June 20, 2008

Bob Barr = Ron Paul


Belly Up to the Barr

A conversation with the latest entrant into the presidential race.

Daniel Stone

Newsweek Web Exclusive

Updated: 6:15 PM ET May 13, 2008

Will John McCain have trouble rallying conservatives to his cause in November? That calculus may have gotten a little trickier with Bob Barr's entry into the race. Barr, a former Republican congressman from Georgia, announced on Monday that he is seeking the Libertarian Party's nomination for the presidency—raising the prospect that he could become the Ralph Nader of the right.

Barr, who served in the House of Representatives from 1995 to 2003, was best known for his leading role in the 1998 impeachment effort against President Bill Clinton; he was one of the most conservative members on Capitol Hill. But in 2006 Barr exited his party and became a Libertarian, strongly criticizing President Bush's handling of the war in Iraq and the government's infringement on social liberties.

Later this month Barr will join 13 other Libertarian candidates, including Democrat turned Libertarian Mike Gravel, at the party's convention in Denver, Colo. Libertarian leaders expect Barr to be the top vote-getter among the assembled delegates. Critics rushed to denounce Barr as a spoiler, likely to siphon votes from McCain, who is already thought to have a wobbly relationship with the conservative wing of the GOP. Barr rejects the spoiler label and insists he's "in it to win it." NEWSWEEK's Daniel Stone spoke with Barr about the timing of his entrance into the race and how he thinks he can compete. Excerpts:

NEWSWEEK: What was the strategy behind entering the race now?
Bob Barr:
The key is that the Libertarian convention is coming up in two weeks, and I figured I needed to do it before then. I couldn't wait much longer.

Why not a few months ago?

I didn't seriously consider it until about five or six weeks ago.

Your critics in the GOP allege that your candidacy will spoil the Republican Party's chances in November. How do you respond?

They have no idea why I'm doing it, and, plus, that's just a knee-jerk reaction. Does anybody getting into the race plan to ask the tough questions or plan to point out some of the areas where McCain is less conservative than he would like people to believe? Those pundits have no idea where my votes would come from, nor do they know about the issues I stand for. As a matter of fact, I suspect the votes I will get will come from folks who would be more inclined to sit out the election in the first place because there's not a real conservative in the race. The votes are not going to come from people that are committed to voting for McCain.

History shows that third-party candidates win few, if any, votes in the Electoral College. Can you really win?
History provides no blueprint for the future in politics. We know that by looking at the dynamics of this particular race, which are very different in terms of the significant increase of new younger voters, the deep dissatisfaction with the status quo, the more than 70 percent of voters who believe that the country is on the wrong track, the cynicism about the current administration and the fact that I have not run for president before. I'm a very different candidate from the Libertarians and other candidates who have run in the past.

Take me through your strategy. In which states will you be most competitive?

We're not going to disclose that at this point. There are a number of states that we believe, based on our analysis, give us a greater chance for carrying those states. But I don't think it would be appropriate to lay those out right now. But that is a very tangible part of our strategy.

But how will you compete with both big-party candidates?

We certainly will. Russ Verney, who is heading up our team, has very unique and very positive credentials in terms of running national campaigns in the past, and so-called outsider campaigns like [Ross] Perot in '92 and '96. We're going to make a very wide and deep use of the Internet for fund-raising and grass-roots organization. We'll take some cues from [GOP candidate Ron] Paul's campaign and Senator Obama, both of whom have shown great progress in motivating new young voters, largely through use of the Internet. That illustrates there is a pretty significant well of support for a new candidate and a new approach. A lot of these younger people I don't think are wedded to the status quo as much as their parents and grandparents, which provides a refreshing approach.

You mentioned Ron Paul. How can you unite this libertarian movement that grew so strongly for Paul over the past year?

We certainly will make that a strong part of our effort. We aim to motivate and keep [Paul's supporters] involved in emphasizing the uniqueness of my approach with similarities, certainly, that the Paul campaign was able to tap into.

You were among the most vocal opponents of President Clinton during his 1998 impeachment. What do you think of how Hillary is doing?

I don't think that the Clinton campaign has shown a tremendous ability to win votes and raise money. I don't think they were able to respond to the newness and youth of Senator Obama's campaign nor tap into that.

Do you have any residual combative feelings about the Clintons?

No. I'm not focused on that for a couple reasons. One, it's unlikely she's going to be the nominee. Secondly, what I intend to emphasize very strongly is a very positive focus on issues and not personalities.

In 2003, Reason [a libertarian magazine] called you the "most conservative member of Congress." How can you now lead the Libertarian party having once had that reputation?

I've had the opportunity over the last few years to work with the Libertarians. They've had a chance to get to know me. Of course, there are always going to be some naysayers, but the vast majority of Libertarians that I've worked with have come to understand my views and my commitment to the Libertarian Party and its principles. I also have explained many times to Libertarians that the post-9/11 world is a very different world from the one I served in Congress. The threats to our liberty in a post-9/11 world are dramatically greater than prior to that. The changes have really necessitated—in my case and I think in the eyes of a lot of Americans—a re-evaluation of where we stand on a whole range of issues regarding government power and have really highlighted the need to start rolling those back with greater urgency.

Would you admit that your just being in the race, regardless of whether you win or lose, will remove votes from the GOP candidate?
No. I don't believe the votes I'll get will come from McCain voters. Mr. McCain stands for something very different from what I do. His voters would not be likely to vote for me, and mine would not be likely do vote for him.

Do you think you can win over a sizable number of would-be Democratic voters?

A lot of the votes I will get will come from disaffected voters who are inclined not to vote for McCain. Those would be constitutional conservatives, libertarian-leaning Republicans—and, yes, even some Democrats as well are attracted to the civil liberties message of work and the credibility I have but would not be predisposed to the big-government programs that Senator Obama has planned.

Are there enough of those voters for you to win?

Absolutely. I analyze this as a three-way race.

Conservatives for McCain By Byron York


Posted: 02/07/08 05:41 PM [ET]

You know all the arguments about whether Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is really a conservative. And whether he is a Republican-in-Name-Only. (I did a Google search for “John McCain” and “RINO” the other day and got 195,000 hits.)

But let me add this. I’ve been to a bunch of McCain rallies in the last few months — in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida and Arizona — and I found a lot of conservatives who support John McCain.

They are people who voted for George W. Bush twice. The older ones voted for Ronald Reagan twice. They believe in lower taxes, less government regulation and a strong defense.

They haven’t agreed with McCain down the line — not supporting, for example, his expansion of existing government regulation on political activity — but they agree with him on most big issues.

And, as conservatives, they’ve made the calculation that, of all the GOP candidates who began running for president way back in 2006, McCain is the best choice.

At McCain’s Super Tuesday victory celebration in Phoenix this week, I ran into Frank Lococo and Raymond Jamieson.

They are lawyers from Milwaukee, in Phoenix to attend a professional conference.

When it turned out that McCain’s rally was going on in the same hotel as the conference, the two friends decided to drop by and have a look.

We struck up a conversation. It turned out that both men are longtime subscribers to National Review. They check the magazine’s website daily for their fix of conservative political opinion. And Jamieson told me he treasures three books signed by William F. Buckley.

By any measure, they are solid conservatives. And both told me they support McCain.

“For me, one of the most important issues is the pro-life issue, and he is solid pro-life, he’s never flip-flopped on it,” Lococo said. “He’s also very strong on foreign policy, Iraq policy, and for me those are the two most important issues right now.”

“He is stout on national defense, which I believe is the signal issue of our time and will be for the foreseeable future,” Jamieson added.

A moment later, Lococo threw in another issue: “I believe that appointing judges is in a lot of ways the whole enchilada for the presidential election, because when you’re dealing with Congress, things can go every which way, there is compromising, but being able to appoint judges to the federal bench and the Supreme Court is huge.” McCain rival Mitt Romney, Lococo told me, might be “a Justice Souter in waiting.”

That’s why they support McCain. But it’s not to say they don’t have their problems with the senator from Arizona.

“I will tell you that on things like taxes and immigration, his positions drive me to distraction, because I think he favors a general amnesty,” Jamieson told me. “But when I think about people who call themselves conservatives and are attacking McCain, I think, why don’t they step back and ask themselves, what are the alternatives? The alternatives are a fellow [Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)] who National Journal gave the No. 1 liberal senator ranking. For goodness’ sake, McCain has gone off the reservation on a few issues, but on the issues that really, really matter, he’s been stout.”

Well, certainly, I don’t think anyone would argue that McCain is less conservative than Obama. But the GOP primary is Republican against Republican, and I brought up the criticism McCain has received from top talk radio hosts Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Mark Levin. What about that?

“I wish it would stop,” Lococo told me. “I’m a little surprised by Sean Hannity. Actually, he’s really made me angry about it, because he’s had Sen. McCain on for years on his show, always treated him with respect, and when they disagreed it was not venomous like it is now. I was listening to Hannity in the car today, and I had to turn it off, I couldn’t listen any more, because it was like he was talking about Hillary Clinton or Al Gore or John Kerry.”

Now, it should be said that conservatives who oppose McCain do so on absolutely legitimate grounds. On campaign finance and immigration, especially, McCain’s opponents have solid, principled arguments.

But those conservatives who support McCain have solid, principled arguments, too.
Neither side has a monopoly on conservatism.

York is a White House correspondent for National Review. His column appears in The Hill each week.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Barack Obama's search for faith By Jodi Kantor


Monday, April 30, 2007

CHICAGO: Members of Trinity United Church of Christ squeezed into a downtown hotel ballroom in early March to celebrate the long service of their pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr. One congregant stood out amid the flowers and finery: Senator Barack Obama, there to honor the man who led him from skeptic to self-described Christian.

Twenty years ago at Trinity, Mr. Obama, then a community organizer in poor Chicago neighborhoods, found the African-American community he had sought all his life, along with professional credibility as a community organizer and an education in how to inspire followers. He had sampled various faiths but adopted none until he met Mr. Wright, a dynamic pastor who preached Afrocentric theology, dabbled in radical politics and delivered music-and-profanity-spiked sermons.

Few of those at Mr. Wright's tribute in March knew of the pressures that Mr. Obama's presidential run was placing on the relationship between the pastor and his star congregant. Mr. Wright's assertions of widespread white racism and his scorching remarks about American government have drawn criticism, and prompted the senator to cancel his delivery of the invocation when he formally announced his candidacy in February.

Mr. Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate who says he was only shielding his pastor from the spotlight, said he respected Mr. Wright's work for the poor and his fight against injustice. But "we don't agree on everything," Mr. Obama said. "I've never had a thorough conversation with him about all aspects of politics."

It is hard to imagine, though, how Mr. Obama can truly distance himself from Mr. Wright. The Christianity that Mr. Obama adopted at Trinity has infused not only his life, but also his campaign. He began his presidential announcement with the phrase "Giving all praise and honor to God," a salutation common in the black church. He titled his second book, "The Audacity of Hope," after one of Mr. Wright's sermons, and often talks about biblical underdogs, the mutual interests of religious and secular America, and the centrality of faith in public life.

The day after the party for Mr. Wright, Mr. Obama stood in an A.M.E. church pulpit in Selma, Ala., and cast his candidacy in nothing short of biblical terms, implicitly comparing himself to Joshua, known for his relative inexperience, steadfast faith and completion of Moses' mission of delivering his people to the Promised Land.

"Be strong and have courage, for I am with you wherever you go," Mr. Obama said in paraphrasing God's message to Joshua.

It is difficult to tell whether Mr. Obama's religious and political beliefs are fused or simply run parallel. The junior senator from Illinois often talks of faith as a moral force essential for solving America's vexing problems. Like Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and John Edwards, his fellow Democratic candidates, he expresses both a political and a religious obligation to help the downtrodden. Like conservative Christians, he speaks of AIDS as a moral crisis. And like his pastor, Mr. Obama opposes the Iraq war.

His embrace of faith was a sharp change for a man whose family offered him something of a crash course in comparative religion but no belief to call his own. "He comes from a very secular, skeptical family," said Jim Wallis, a Christian antipoverty activist and longtime friend of Mr. Obama. "His faith is really a personal and an adult choice. His is a conversion story."

The grandparents who helped raise Mr. Obama were nonpracticing Baptists and Methodists. His mother was an anthropologist who collected religious texts the way others picked up tribal masks, teaching her children the inspirational power of the common narratives and heroes.

His mother's tutelage took place mostly in Indonesia, in the household of Mr. Obama's stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, a nominal Muslim who hung prayer beads over his bed but enjoyed bacon, which Islam forbids.

"My whole family was Muslim, and most of the people I knew were Muslim," said Maya Soetoro-Ng, Mr. Obama's younger half sister. But Mr. Obama attended a Catholic school and then a Muslim public school where the religious education was cursory. When he was 10, he returned to his birthplace of Hawaii to live with his grandparents and attended a preparatory school with a Christian affiliation but little religious instruction.

Years later, Mr. Obama met his father's family, a mix of Muslim and Christian Kenyans. Sarah Hussein Obama, who is his stepgrandmother but whom Mr. Obama calls his grandmother, still rises at 5 a.m. to pray before tending to her crops and the three orphans she has taken in.

"I am a strong believer of the Islamic faith," Ms. Obama, 85, said in a recent interview in Kenya.

From Skepticism to Belief

This polyglot background made Mr. Obama tolerant of others' faiths yet reluctant to join one, said Mr. Wright, the pastor. In an interview in March in his office, filled with mementos from his 35 years at Trinity, Mr. Wright recalled his first encounters with Mr. Obama in the late 1980s, when the future senator was organizing Chicago neighborhoods. Though minister after minister told Mr. Obama he would be more credible if he joined a church, he was not a believer.

"I remained a reluctant skeptic, doubtful of my own motives, wary of expedient conversion, having too many quarrels with God to accept a salvation too easily won," he wrote in his first book, "Dreams From My Father."

Still, Mr. Obama was entranced by Mr. Wright, whose sermons fused analysis of the Bible with outrage at what he saw as the racism of everything from daily life in Chicago to American foreign policy. Mr. Obama had never met a minister who made pilgrimages to Africa, welcomed women leaders and gay members and crooned Teddy Pendergrass rhythm and blues from the pulpit. Mr. Wright was making Trinity a social force, initiating day care, drug counseling, legal aid and tutoring. He was also interested in the world beyond his own; in 1984, he traveled to Cuba to teach Christians about the value of nonviolent protest and to Libya to visit Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, along with the Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Mr. Wright said his visits implied no endorsement of their views.

Followers were also drawn simply by Mr. Wright's appeal. Trinity has 8,500 members today, making it the largest American congregation in the United Church of Christ, a mostly white denomination known for the independence of its congregations and its willingness to experiment with traditional Protestant theology.

Mr. Wright preached black liberation theology, which interprets the Bible as the story of the struggles of black people, whom by virtue of their oppression are better able to understand Scripture than those who have suffered less. That message can sound different to white audiences, said Dwight Hopkins, a professor at University of Chicago Divinity School and a Trinity member. "Some white people hear it as racism in reverse," Dr. Hopkins said, while blacks hear, "Yes, we are somebody, we're also made in God's image."

Audacity and Hope

It was a 1988 sermon called "The Audacity to Hope" that turned Mr. Obama, in his late 20s, from spiritual outsider to enthusiastic churchgoer. Mr. Wright in the sermon jumped from 19th-century art to his own youthful brushes with crime and Islam to illustrate faith's power to inspire underdogs. Mr. Obama was seeing the same thing in public housing projects where poor residents sustained themselves through sheer belief.

In "Dreams From My Father," Mr. Obama described his teary-eyed reaction to the minister's words. "Inside the thousands of churches across the city, I imagined the stories of ordinary black people merging with the stories of David and Goliath, Moses and Pharaoh, the Christians in the lion's den, Ezekiel's field of dry bones," Mr. Obama wrote. "Those stories — of survival, and freedom, and hope — became our story, my story."

Mr. Obama was baptized that year, and joining Trinity helped him "embrace the African-American community in a way that was whole and profound," said Ms. Soetoro, his half sister.

It also helped give him spiritual bona fides and a new assurance. Services at Trinity were a weekly master class in how to move an audience. When Mr. Obama arrived at Harvard Law School later that year, where he fortified himself with recordings of Mr. Wright's sermons, he was delivering stirring speeches as a student leader in the classic oratorical style of the black church.

But he developed a tone very different from his pastor's. In contrast with Mr. Wright — the kind of speaker who could make a grocery list sound like a jeremiad — Mr. Obama speaks with cool intellect and on-the-one-hand reasoning. He tends to emphasize the reasonableness of all people; Mr. Wright rallies his parishioners against oppressors.

While Mr. Obama stated his opposition to the Iraq war in conventional terms, Mr. Wright issued a "War on Iraq I.Q. Test," with questions like, "Which country do you think poses the greatest threat to global peace: Iraq or the U.S.?"

In the 16 years since Mr. Obama returned to Chicago from Harvard, Mr. Wright has presided over his wedding ceremony, baptized his two daughters and dedicated his house, while Mr. Obama has often spoken at Trinity's panels and debates. Though the Obamas drop in on other congregations, they treat Trinity as their spiritual home, attending services frequently. The church's Afrocentric focus makes Mr. Obama a figure of particular authenticity there, because he has the African connections so many members have searched for.

To the many members who, like the Obamas, are the first generation in their families to achieve financial success, the church warns against "middleclassness," its term for selfish individualism, and urges them to channel their gains back into the community.

Mr. Obama has written that when he became a Christian, he "felt God's spirit beckoning" and "submitted myself to His will and dedicated myself to discovering His truth." While he has said he shares core Christian beliefs in God and in Jesus as his resurrected son, he sometimes mentions doubts. In his second book, he admitted uncertainty about the afterlife, and "what existed before the Big Bang." Generally, Mr. Obama emphasizes the communal aspects of religion over the supernatural ones.

Bridging Religious Divides

He has said that he relies on Mr. Wright to ensure "that I am speaking as truthfully about what I believe as possible." He tends to turn to his minister at moments of frustration, Mr. Wright said, such as when Mr. Obama felt a Congressional Black Caucus meeting was heavier on entertainment than substance.

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Obama is reaching out to both liberal skeptics and committed Christians. In many speeches or discussions, he never mentions religion. When Mr. Obama, a former constitutional law professor, does speak of faith, he tends to add a footnote about keeping church and state separate.

But he also talks of building a consensus among secular liberal and conservative Christian voters. Mr. Wallis, the antipoverty advocate who calls himself a "progressive evangelical," first met Mr. Obama 10 years ago when both participated in traveling seminars on American civic life. On bus rides, Mr. Wallis and Mr. Obama would huddle, away from company like George Stephanopoulos and Ralph Reed, to plot building a coalition of progressive and religious voters.

"The problems of poverty and racism, the uninsured and the unemployed, are not simply technical problems in search of the perfect 10 point plan," Mr. Obama says in one of his standard campaign lines. "They are rooted in both societal indifference and individual callousness — in the imperfections of man."

He often makes reference to the civil rights movement, when liberals used Christian rhetoric to win change.

Mr. Obama reassures liberal audiences about the role of religion in public life, and he tells conservative Christians that he understands why abortion horrifies them and why they may prefer to curb H.I.V. through abstinence instead of condoms. AIDS has spread in part because "the relationship between men and women, between sexuality and spirituality, has broken down, and needs to be repaired," he said to thunderous applause in December at the megachurch in California led by the Rev. Rick Warren, a best-selling author.

At the same time, Mr. Obama's ties to Trinity have become more complicated than those simply of proud congregation and favorite son. Since Mr. Obama announced his candidacy, the church has received threatening phone calls. On blogs and cable news shows, conservative critics have called it separatist and antiwhite.

Congregants respond by saying critics are misreading the church's tenets, that it is a warm and accepting community and is not hostile to whites. But Mr. Wright's political statements may be more controversial than his theological ones. He has said that Zionism has an element of "white racism." (For its part, the Anti-Defamation League says it has no evidence of any anti-Semitism by Mr. Wright.)

On the Sunday after the terrorist attacks of 9/11, Mr. Wright said the attacks were a consequence of violent American policies. Four years later he wrote that the attacks had proved that "people of color had not gone away, faded into the woodwork or just 'disappeared' as the Great White West went on its merry way of ignoring Black concerns."

Provocative Assertions

Such statements involve "a certain deeply embedded anti-Americanism," said Michael Cromartie, vice president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a conservative group that studies religious issues and public policy. "A lot of people are going to say to Mr. Obama, are these your views?"

Mr. Obama says they are not.

"The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification," he said in a recent interview. He was not at Trinity the day Mr. Wright delivered his remarks shortly after the attacks, Mr. Obama said, but "it sounds like he was trying to be provocative."

"Reverend Wright is a child of the 60s, and he often expresses himself in that language of concern with institutional racism and the struggles the African-American community has gone through," Mr. Obama said. "He analyzes public events in the context of race. I tend to look at them through the context of social justice and inequality."

Despite the canceled invocation, Mr. Wright prayed with the Obama family just before his presidential announcement. Asked later about the incident, the Obama campaign said in a statement, "Senator Obama is proud of his pastor and his church."

In March, Mr. Wright said in an interview that his family and some close associates were angry about the canceled address, for which they blamed Obama campaign advisers but that the situation was "not irreparable." adding, "Several things need to happen to fix it."

Asked if he and Mr. Wright had patched up their differences, he said: "Those are conversations between me and my pastor."

Mr. Wright, who has long prided himself on criticizing the establishment, said he knew that he may not play well in Mr. Obama's audition for the ultimate establishment job.

"If Barack gets past the primary, he might have to publicly distance himself from me," Mr. Wright said with a shrug. "I said it to Barack personally, and he said yeah, that might have to happen."

Reuben Kyama contributed reporting from Nyangoma-Kogelo, Kenya.

Malik Obama confirms his half-brother Barack grew up a Muslim


By Israel Insider staff  June 13, 2008

Apparently the Obamas of Kenya have been reading those scurrilous emails to which Barack likes to refer, because they have no doubt -- contrary to the claims of the Obama campaign, that the presidential candidate was raised a Moslem. They take that as a given.

As the Jerusalem Post reports, "Barack Obama's half brother Malik said Thursday that if elected his brother will be a good president for the Jewish people, despite his Muslim background. In an interview with Army Radio he expressed a special salutation from the Obamas of Kenya."

The Obama brothers' father, a senior economist for the Kenyan government who studied at Harvard University, died in car crash in 1982. He left six sons and a daughter. All of his children - except Malik -- live in Britain or the United States. Malik and Barack met in 1985 in the US.

"He was best man at my wedding and I was best man at his," said Malik in a 2004 interview with an AP reporter. Their paternal grandfather, Onyango Hussein Obama, was one of the first Muslim converts in Nyangoma-Kogelo, Malik said."

In a remarkable denial issued last November that still stands on the official campaign website, Obama spokesman Robert Gibbs issued a statement explaining that "Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised as a Muslim, and is a committed Christian."

Apparently Malik Obama, himself a Muslim, had not read the press release.

Melanie Phillips is the most recent commentator to draw attention to the massive body of evidence that leaves no doubt that Barak Hussein Obama was born a Muslim (Islam is patrilineal) and raised a Muslim (so registered in school, acknowledging attending Islamic classes, reported accompanying his step-father to the mosque, and able to recite the Koran in the original Arabic).

Reuven Koret, Aaron Klein and Daniel Pipes have previously pointed to the attempts by Obama and his campaign to conceal the candidate's Muslim background. The well documented evidence draws upon the on-the-ground interviews by researchers in Indonesia and Kenya, published quotations of Obama's childhood friends and his school records, as well as the candidate's own autobiography.

It is not clear whether Barack Obama will now disown his half-brother Malik for acknowledging that shared family background. In any case, some one should notify "Fight the Smear" tout de suite. Perhaps they can get him with the program.

Is Barack Obama a Muslim wolf in Christian wool? By Reuven Koret


March 27, 2008

The glib handling of criticism of his relationship with the anti-American ("God Damn America!") and anti-Israel ("a dirty word for Negroes") Reverend James Wright may have bought him a little time. But the legacy of dissimulation about his long-concealed identity is about to come crashing down around the ears of Barack Hussein Obama, courtesy of the assembled testimony of his family, friends, classmates and teachers.

Obama's official campaign site has a page titled "Obama has never been a Muslim, and is a committed Christian." The page states, "Obama never prayed in a mosque. He has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ."

Yet the accumulated research from primary sources who knew Obama from his childhood indicate that he was a devout Muslim, the son of a devout Muslim, the step-son of a devout Muslim and the grandson and namesake ("Hussein") of a devout Muslim. He was registered in school as a Muslim and demonstrated his ability to chant praise to Allah in impressive Arab-accented tones even as an adult. Just as he has not disavowed his "uncle" Jeremiah, neither has he disavowed his Muslim faith that he was born into, raised with, celebrated and never abandoned. He just covered it over with a thin veneer of his own self-styled "Christianity."

Although as an adult he would register as a Christian, and occasionally attend a Christian Church (but apparently not often enough to listen to the preaching of his pastor, or so he would claim) this was a necessary step for a man who from earliest boyhood has nurtured the precocious ambition to be President of the United States.

He was entered into the Roman Catholic, Franciscus Assisi Primary School, in Jakarta, Indonesia, on January 1, 1968, registered under the name Barry Soetoro, an Indonesian citizen whose religion was listed as Islam. Catholic schools accept non-Catholics worldwide. Non-Catholic students are typically excused from Catholic religious instruction and ceremony, but are expected to study their own faith.

In kindergarten, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want to Become President.'"Iis Darmawan, 63, Senator Obama's kindergarten teacher, remembers him as an exceptionally tall and curly haired child who quickly picked up the local language and had sharp math skills. He wrote an essay titled, 'I Want To Become President,' the teacher said." [AP, 1/25/07]

Three years later, in 1971, Obama enrolled in the Besuki Primary School, a government school, as Barry Soetoro, Muslim. In third grade, Senator Obama wrote an essay titled 'I Want To Be a President.' His third grade teacher: Fermina Katarina Sinaga "asked her class to write an essay titled 'My dream: What I want to be in the future.' Senator Obama wrote 'I want to be a President,' she said." [The Los Angeles Times, 3/15/07]

All Indonesian students are required to study religion at school and a young Barry Soetoro, being a Muslim, would have been required to study Islam daily in school.

He would have been taught to read and write Arabic, to recite his prayers properly, to read and recite from the Quran and to study the laws of Islam.

In his autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," Obama mentions studying the Koran and describes the public school as "a Muslim school."

"In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Koranic studies."

According to Tine Hahiyary, one of Obama's teachers and the principal from 1971 through 1989, Barry actively took part in the Islamic religious lessons during his time at the school. "I remembered that he had studied "mengaji" (recitation of the Quran)" Tine said.

The author of the Laotze blog writes from Jakarta: "The actual usage of the word 'mengaji' in Indonesian and Malaysian societies means the study of learning to recite the Quran in the Arabic language rather than the native tongue. "Mengagi" is a word and a term that is accorded the highest value and status in the mindset of fundamentalist societies here in Southeast Asia. To put it quite simply, 'mengaji classes' are not something that a non practicing or so-called moderate Muslim family would ever send their child to. To put this in a Christian context, this is something above and beyond simply enrolling your child in Sunday school classes."

"The fact that Obama had attended mengaji classes is well known in Indonesia and has left many there wondering just when Obama is going to come out of the closet."

"As I've stated before, the evidence seems to quite clearly show that both Ann Dunham and her husband Lolo Soetoro Mangunharjo were in fact devout Muslims themselves and they raised their son as such."

The Obama Campaign told the LA Times he wasn't a "practicing Muslim." (3/14/2007). But his official website says: "Obama Has Never Been A Muslim, And Is a Committed Christian" (11/12/2007)

That's not what his friends and classmates have said. Classmate Rony Amiris describes young Barry as enjoying playing football and marbles and of being a very devout Muslim. Amir said, "Barry was previously quite religious in Islam. We previously often asked him to the prayer room close to the house. If he was wearing a sarong, he looked funny," said Rony.

Amiris, now the manager of Bank Mandiri, Jakarta, recently said, "Barry was previously quite religious in Islam. His birth father, Barack Hussein Obama was a Muslim economist from Kenya. Before marrying Ann Dunham, Hussein Obama was married to a woman from Kenya who had seven children. All the relatives of Barry's father were very devout Muslims"

Emirsyah Satar, CEO of Garuda Indonesia, was quoted as saying, "He (Obama) was often in the prayer room wearing a 'sarong', at that time."

"He was quite religious in Islam but only after marrying Michelle, he changed his religion."

So Obama, according to his classmates and friends was a Muslim until the confluence of love and ambition caused him to adopt the cloak of Christianity: to marry Michelle and to run for President of the United States.

In "Dreams," Obama sheds light on his formative years and the political views of his mother, an anthropologist and Islamophile who hated America and subsequently "went native." (It was her mother -- Barry's "other" grandmother who cared for him in his druggie teenage years -- that he would describe as a "typical white person" who was, he said scoldingly, fearful of black men and prone to making stereotypical racial remarks.)

Obama Senior also had three sons by another woman who are all Muslim. Although Obama claims Senior was an atheist, Senior was buried as a Muslim.

Barack Obama's brother Roy opted for Islam over Christianity, as the Senator recounted in his book when describing his 1992 wedding. "The person who made me proudest of all," Obama wrote, "was Roy. Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage. He converted to Islam, and has sworn off pork and tobacco and alcohol."Abongo "argues that the black man must "liberate himself from the poisoning influences of European culture." He urged his younger brother to embrace his African heritage.

In Kenya while he was a Senator, Obama stumped for his cousin, opposition leader Raila Odinga, the son of Senior's sister, a direct first cousin and nephew of Obama's father.

On August 29, 2007, Raila Odinga and Shiekh Abdullah Abdi, chairman of the National Muslim Leaders Forum of Kenya signed a Memorandum of Understanding in which it pledges the support of Kenyan Moslems for Raila's election. In return, as President of Kenya, Raila agrees ... within 6 months re-write the Constitution of Kenya to recognize Shariah as the only true law sanctioned by the Holy Quran for Muslim declared regions [and] within one year to facilitate the establishment of a Shariah court in every Kenyan divisional headquarters -- everywhere in Kenya, not just in "Muslim declared regions" -- and to popularize Islam, the only true religion ... by ordering every primary school in Kenya in the regions to conduct daily Madrassa classes.

In an interview with the New York Times, published on April 30th, Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama's younger half sister, told the Times, "My whole family was Muslim, and most of the people I knew were Muslim."

Obama describes his new found "Christian" faith as: (1) Suspicious of dogma (2) Without any monopoly on the truth (3) Nontransferable to others (4) Infused with a big healthy dose of doubt, and (5) Indulgent of and compatible with all other religions.

On February 27th, speaking to Kristof of The New York Times, Barack Hussein Obama said the Muslim call to prayer is "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset."

In an interview with Nicholas Kristof, published in The New York Times, Obama recited the Muslim call to prayer, the Adhan, "with a first-class [Arabic] accent."

The opening lines of the Adhan (Azaan) is the Shahada:

"Allah is Supreme! Allah is Supreme!

Allah is Supreme! Allah is Supreme!

I witness that there is no god but Allah

I witness that there is no god but Allah

I witness that Muhammad is his prophet...."

According to Islamic scholars, reciting the Shahada, the Muslim declaration of faith, makes one a Muslim. This simple yet profound statement expresses a Muslim's complete acceptance of, and total commitment to, the message of Islam. Obama chanted it with pride and finesse.

An American Expat in Southeast Asia blog, written by an American who has lived in Indonesia for 20 years and has met with both the Taliban and al-Qaeda, contains the following:

"Barack Hussein Obama might have convinced some Americans that he is no longer a Muslim, but so far he has not convinced many in the world's most populous Muslim country who still see him as a Muslim and a crusader for Islam and world peace."

"Barack Hussein Obama's race, his staunch opposition to the war in Iraq, his sympathy to Islam and Muslims worldwide and his Muslim heritage receive the Indonesian media coverage. There is no mention of his apostasy."

"A good example of how some of the Indonesian media is reporting on Obama's religion can be found in the following."

"What I found interesting in the article was the use of the word 'mengaku' when refering to Obama's conversion from Islam to Christianity. The word 'mengaku' in Indonesian means "claimed" and as such leaves the insinuation to the native Indonesian reader being that Obama might actually still be a Muslim.

But this is how Indonesians see Obama, they don't see him as an apostate at all, they see him as a crusader for the cause of Islam."

Obama wants it both ways, has always wanted it both ways. Black and white, Indonesian and American, Muslim and Christian. He loves playing one off the other, using one to hide the other even as the traces of the truth may be assembled to reveal the whole cloth of deception and self-promotion he has been weaving so skillfully since his childhood. No wonder he is a man of change. He IS a changeling, a veritable chameleon, adapting and amending his life story to fit the circumstances.

The charm may have worked once. It still works on some. It won't work forever in the age of the Internet. The fog of ambiguity and dissimulation is dissipated by the harsh, unforgiving and scrutiny of the blogosphere and its unlimited access to historical facts and time-stamped testimony.

Many have been puzzled why Obama could claim not to be familiar with Wright's rants. It turns out the Trinity Church, like many African-American churches, happily accepts believing Muslims within its congregation. And evidently many Muslims have no problems surrounding themselves with an anti-American, anti-Israel preacher who week in and week out wins the amens of his adoring congregation.

On Feb 15/08, Usama K. Dakdok, President of The Straight Way of Grace Ministry called Obama's Church and reported the following conversation: " I then asked the person who answered what I needed to do to join. She told me that I needed to attend two Sunday School classes in a row and then I would walk the aisle. I replied, "That sounds easy. One last question please. If I am Muslim and I believe in the Prophet Mohammed, peace be unto him and I also believe in Jesus, peace be unto him, do I have to give up my Islamic faith to be a member in your church? She answered: "No, we have many Muslim members in our church."


Credit for these reports and revelations -- assembling the statements of those who love and admire Barry Soetoro aka Barack Hussein Obama -- belong primarily to the writers, researchers, and journalists cited in and contributing to the above references. Special hat tip to Ted Belman of Israpundit for putting most of the pieces together. One can be sure that more, much more, is on the way, before the first black muslim president enters the White House. Or not.

Obama was 'quite religious in Islam' By Aaron Klein


Contemporaries, records dispute campaign
claim that he was never 'practicing Muslim'

Posted: April 03, 2008
12:40 am Eastern

JERUSALEM – Was Sen. Barack Obama a Muslim? Did he ever practice Islam?

The presidential candidate officially rejects the claims, but the issue of Obama's personal faith has re-emerged amid conflicting accounts of his enrollment as a Muslim during elementary school in Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim nation.

Widely distributed reports have noted in January 1968, Obama was registered as a Muslim at Jakarta's Roman Catholic Franciscus Assisi Primary School under the name Barry Soetoro. He was listed as an Indonesian citizen whose stepfather, listed on school documents as "L Soetoro Ma," worked for the topography department of the Indonesian Army.

Catholic schools in Indonesia routinely accept non-Catholic students, but exempt them from studying religion. Obama's school documents, though, wrongly list him as being Indonesian.

After attending the Assisi Primary School, Obama was enrolled – also as a Muslim, according to documents – in the Besuki Primary School, a public school in Jakarta.

The Loatze blog run by an American expatriate in Southeast Asia who visited the Besuki school, noted, "All Indonesian students are required to study religion at school and a young 'Barry Soetoro' being a Muslim would have been required to study Islam daily in school. He would have been taught to read and write Arabic, to recite his prayers properly, to read and recite from the Quran and to study the laws of Islam."

Indeed, the Israel Insider online magazine points out in Obama's autobiography, "Dreams From My Father," he acknowledges studying the Quran and describes the public school as "a Muslim school."

"In the Muslim school, the teacher wrote to tell mother I made faces during Quranic studies," wrote Obama.

The Indonesian media have been flooded with accounts of Obama's childhood Islamic studies, some describing him as a religious Muslim .

Speaking to the country's Kaltim Post, Tine Hahiyary, who was principal of Obama's school while he was enrolled there, said she recalls he studied the Quran in Arabic.

"At that time, I was not Barry's teacher but he is still in my memory" claimed Tine, who is 80 years old. The Kaltim Post says Obama's teacher, named Hendri, died.

"I remember that he studied 'mengaji (recitation of the Quran)," Tine said, according to an English translation by Loatze.

Mengaji, or the act of reading the Quran with its correct Arabic punctuation, is usually taught to more religious pupils and is not known as a secular study.

Also, Loatze documented the Indonesian daily Banjarmasin Post caught up with Rony Amir, an Obama classmate and Muslim, who describe Obama as "previously quite religious in Islam."

"We previously often asked him to the prayer room close to the house. If he was wearing a sarong (waist fabric worn for religious or casual occasions) he looked funny," Amir said.

The Los Angeles Times, which sent a reporter to Jakarta, quoted Zulfin Adi, who identified himself as among Obama's closest childhood friends, stating the presidential candidate prayed in a mosque, something Obama's campaign claimed he never did.

"We prayed but not really seriously, just following actions done by older people in the mosque. But as kids, we loved to meet our friends and went to the mosque together and played," said Adi.

Obama's official campaign site has a page titled "Obama has never been a Muslim, and is a committed Christian." The page states, "Obama never prayed in a mosque. He has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ."

But the campaign changed its tune when it issued a slightly different statement to the Times stating Obama "has never been a practicing Muslim."

An article last month by the Chicago Tribune seems to dispute Adi's statements to the L.A. Times. The Tribune catches up with Obama's declared childhood friend, who now describes himself as only knowing Obama for a few months in 1970 when his family moved to the neighborhood. Adi said he was unsure about his recollections of Obama

But the Tribune found Obama did attend mosque.

"Interviews with dozens of former classmates, teachers, neighbors and friends show that Obama was not a regular practicing Muslim when he was in Indonesia," states the Tribune article.

It quotes the presidential candidate's former neighbors and 3rd grade teacher recalling Obama "occasionally followed his stepfather to the mosque for Friday prayers."

Daniel Pipes, director of the Middle East Forum, notes the Tribune article – cited by liberal blogs as refuting claims Obama is Muslim – actually implies Obama was an irregularly practicing Muslim and twice confirms Obama attended mosque services.

In a free-ranging interview with the New York Times, Obama described the Muslim call to prayer as "one of the prettiest sounds on Earth at sunset.”

The Times' Nicholos Kristof wrote Obama recited, "with a first-class [Arabic] accent," the opening lines of the Muslim call to prayer.

Israel Insider's Reuven Koret notes the first few lines state:

"Allah is Supreme! Allah is Supreme!
Allah is Supreme! Allah is Supreme!
I witness that there is no god but Allah
I witness that there is no god but Allah
I witness that Muhammad is his prophet... "

Some attention also has been paid to Obama's paternal side of the family. His father, described in some reports as an atheist, polygamist and alcoholic, was buried in Kenya as a Muslim. Obama Sr., also named Barack Obama, had three sons with another woman who reportedly all are Muslim.

Obama's brother Roy is described as a practicing Muslim.

Writing in a chapter of his book describing his 1992 wedding, the presidential candidate stated: "The person who made me proudest of all was Roy. Actually, now we call him Abongo, his Luo name, for two years ago he decided to reassert his African heritage. He converted to Islam, and has sworn off pork and tobacco and alcohol."

Still, Obama says he was raised by his Christian mother and repeatedly has labeled as "smears" several reports attempting to paint him as a Muslim.

"Let's make clear what the facts are: I am a Christian. I have been sworn in with a Bible. I pledge allegiance [to the American flag] and lead the pledge of allegiance sometimes in the United States Senate when I'm presiding," he told the UK's Times Online earlier this year.

To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.

Obama to Black Conservatives: 'I don't want people voting for me because I'm black' by David Brody


June 17, 2008

On Tuesday near Detroit, Michigan I spent about 10 minutes one-on-one with Barack Obama. In our conversation I asked him about his message to black conservatives who may be struggling with the fact that they have an historic chance and a real viable shot to vote for an African-American candidate for President yet may have to sacrifice some of their core principles to do it.

Read his answer below. Click play to watch the video.

"I don't want people abandoning their principles, and I don't want people voting for me because I'm black. What I'd ask is people take a look at my positions on issues, not what floats around the Internet, but rather what are my actual positions on issues. I think on some issues I would be considered left of the spectrum, there's no doubt. The fact that even though I've acknowledged abortion is a deeply, difficult moral issue, I continue to believe that women should be in a position to make that decision. That's something, that for some, and I respect this, is a deal breaker. On the other hand, I think there are a lot of conservatives out there who would say that my position on the importance of faith in our culture, my position on the need to care for the poor, my belief in individual responsibility - those are all issues that I think are compatible with many conservatives and so I'd ask people to not buy the political caricature, but actually take a look at my positions on the issues."

A couple notes to the answer above.

Obama acknowledges that he is left of the spectrum on some issues including abortion. That may be a problem for you as a Christian. He clearly understands that and respects that but as you can see what he is doing is trying to find common ground on some other issues. Is it enough for you, especially as a black conservative to vote for him? The McCain camp truly believes that there is NO WAY a true conservative will vote for Obama. Maybe not but will they be "juiced" about McCain enough to get out of their Lazy-Boy armchair and go vote for him? What say you?


Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Barack Obama, the Weather Underground, and the Spirit of Revolution By Sandy Rios


Monday, April 28, 2008

My first memory of the impact of it all was when I was 13, sitting in my sister’s apartment, watching the evening news with Walter Cronkite. “103 American GIs killed today,” he intoned, as film of soldiers shooting Vietnamese rolled by. The nightly news always began that way … never a story of heroism or victory, just body bags and carnage as the anti-war media chose to report it.

Next was footage of Los Angeles burning, riots and looting, shootings on college campuses, all with flag burning as a backdrop. In the midst of it all, my sister’s Middle Eastern boyfriend gleefully shouted, “Come on America, destroy yourself!” I wanted to hit him. I tried to argue, but he mocked me. Because of my youth, I was no match for his vocabulary and knowledge. I felt inadequate to express the overpowering emotions of anger and rage. And pain. My beloved country, falling apart at the seams with a representative of one of its future enemies sitting right next to me, cheering it on. War vs. peace, communism vs. freedom, law vs. lawlessness, racism, anarchy and the future threat of radical Islam—all converged in that one room. And the passion that comes from love of country and all that is good began its deep roots in me.

I grew up in the midst of that turbulence. My peers wanted to “make love, not war,” and reduce peace to two fingers held high with a silly, drug-induced grin. Others of my generation wanted more. They wanted violent revolution. John Lennon made it sound vogue as they declared their intention to “kill the pigs” and obtain the violent overthrow of the United States Government.

Most were just foolish and spoiled, but others were serious as Hell itself. Members of the Weather Underground were part of the latter group. Formed in 1969, Bernadine Dohrn and William Ayers quickly moved into leadership. They bombed, rioted and threatened, “We’re coming after you!” Ayers encouraged followers to “kill all the rich people … bring the revolution home. Kill your parents.” And his apologetic for the 1972 bombing the Pentagon? The “bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them.”

“Strawberry Statement,” “Getting Straight,” “Woodstock,”…cult films reflecting the movement, are not nostalgic memories for me, but jolting reminders of a very dark and shameful time.

Charles Manson and his “family” shocked the world when they brutally murdered young actress Sharon Tate in her home along with friends, including coffee heiress, Abigail Folger. They wrote “Helter Skelter,” in blood on the walls, and the Beatles offered another tune to commemorate the event. Like the Weather Underground, Charlie Manson wanted the violent overthrow of the government. Bernadine Dohrn offered her adulation, “Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim’s stomach! Wild!” Tate was nine months pregnant.

Fast forward to 2008. As I prepared to do an in-depth report on the Weather Underground, my producer uncovered some fascinating footage which brought me to tears. It was like going back in time when I saw Dohrn, Ayers and others spouting their poison to the black and white backdrop of those frightening days. Those dark revolutionaries were not experiencing the passing phase of foolish youth; they were the bold spokesmen for a deep and evil spirit of lawlessness that nearly prevailed just three decades ago. And they were speaking not in 1972, but in 2007.

Now Bernadine Dohrn is an assistant Law Professor at Northwestern University and her husband, William Ayers is a professor of Education at UIC, both “respected” members of the community, says Chicago Mayor Richard Daley. Both guilty of violence that resulted in death, both guilty of rebellion that aimed at destroying our country—and both unrepentant. “I don’t regret setting bombs. I feel we didn’t do enough,” said Ayers in 2001. “I found the whole idea of turning myself in revolting,” chronicled Dohrn in a PBS documentary. “Rebellion is inevitable. I remain committed to the struggle ahead,” she said as she surrendered to authorities in 1980. “We have extraordinary responsibility inside the heart of the monster,” she warned in 2007. “Guilty as sin and free as a bird,” boasted Ayers.

So when I learned of the connection between Ayres, Dohrn and Barack Obama, I was alarmed. In 1995, Dohrn and Ayres hosted a campaign fundraiser for Obama. Ayers contributed to Obama’s campaign. Bernadine Dohrn and both Barack and Michelle Obama were employed by the Sidley and Austin Law Firm. Bernadine, like Barack was involved with “community organizing,” a milk-toast term for “Rules for Radicals” author, Saul Alinsky’s leftist schemes. Obama and Ayers have appeared on academic panels together. While Obama has tried to downplay this as coincidental, his participation with Ayers on a 1997 University of Chicago panel was actually put together by the associate Dean of Student Services, Michelle Obama. Their kids have attended the same schools, and when the Obamas moved a little more than a year ago (with the questionable financial help of the wife of indicted Syrian National, Tony Rezko), it just happened to be in the same neighborhood as Ayers. Both Obama and Ayers served on the Woods Foundation Board, which along with funding “community organizing,” agreed to give $75,000 to the Arab American Action Network, cofounded by PLO-and-Yasser-Arafat apologist, Rashid Kalidi.

But it’s the underlying, dark vision for America that they share that concerns me most. While Ayers and Dohrn hate capitalism, Barack chooses careful terms like “fairness” to hint at evening the score on the “wealthy.” In the ’70s, the Weather Underground wanted “smash monogamy.” Group orgies were their attempt to break down all sexual taboos. Today William Ayers is a powerful advocate for “Queering Elementary Education” and advancing the cause of gay, straight, transgender and lesbian rights. The gay journalist Andrew Sullivan has declared Barack Obama the dream candidate of the homosexual movement.

“Revolution” versus “change.” “Capitalist pigs” versus “the wealthy.” “Smash monogamy” versus “other definitions of family.” The revolution of the ’60s and ’70s was bolder in language and action, but today’s manifestation is in some ways more threatening because terms are hidden, intentions blurred and the “opiate of the masses”—at least right now—is not religion, but Barack Obama.

“The spirit of the revolution will live on!” declared Dohrn in 1980.

All of these same old ideas, converging at once on a new generation, with little memory of this past. We want to “connect to … rebuild on … the spirit of rebellion …of resistance,” said Ayres just last November. “The secret power of lawlessness is already at work,” wrote the Apostle Paul in the first century. Indeed.

That same passion I had as a 13-year-old girl has been awakened within me once again. Fortunately, thanks to the intervening years, I have vocabulary and knowledge on my side this time. I recognize the danger and will not be silent.

Sandy Rios is host of the "Sandy Rios Show", heard weekdays from 3 to 5PM on WYLL AM1160 in Chicago and serves as President of Culture Campaign, a non-profit dedicated to awakening a sleeping army of concerned citizens never before involved in public policy.

Five tips for vinyl virgins from a vinyl guy by Tony Nauroth


April 08, 2008 12:08PM

Vinyl doesn't go back as far as this player, but this sample is definitely analog, not digital.
When I was in the third grade -- you'll be able to figure it out by the time you finish reading -- my father, a printer by trade, invented a machine part to make his boss' printing presses more efficient. It saved a ton of money. My father didn't get the credit and he didn't get royalties for it. But his boss did buy Dad a new stereo radio/phonograph player in a beautiful cabinet. Top shelf at the time. He also gave us 125 vouchers for 33 and 1/3 rpm albums we could redeem at a local record store.

The boss, a Mr. Glucken of Pittston, Pa., knew my Dad liked music.

Glucken also asked Dad if he'd like to move into his country mansion near Dallas, Pa., and take care of it while he did the grand tour of Europe. So all 10 of us moved into this magnificent home on the top of a hill, with its half-mile long driveway and 73 acres of fields and woodland.

Glucken was on his grand tour for nine years while we lived in his mansion -- free! It was great. And frequently we would gather around the stereo near the huge stone fireplace and listen to vinyl. For all its pops and scratches, the sound that came out of those 8-inch speakers was as warm as the crackling fire nearby.

We're in the midst of a revolt against digital sound, despite -- or perhaps because of -- its perfection. It's unreal, especially when heard by the ears of those trained to listen to vinyl. Yet even teens and 20-somethings are getting into this 100-year-old technology and need a simple "how-to" guide to find their groove -- literally.

Josh Bizar, director of marketing at Music Direct, a company that specializes in everything "analog," says, "Since the technology is all new territory for the vinyl virgin, it can be tough getting through that 'awkward stage.'"

Josh put together five tips to help vinyl record "virgins" get started:

FIND THE RIGHT TURNTABLE -- Used record players are a dime a dozen at garage sales and thrift stores, but a 30 year old record player could have many problems. Make sure you get a really good service tech to get it up and playing properly. There are also countless new turntables on the market today. For an investment of $300, you can buy an amazing new turntable with 21st century technology that will be perfect right out of the box.

A modern phonograph player.

SET UP YOUR SYSTEM WITH CARE -- Any turntable will need to be properly set-up to get the maximum amount of music out of your record. That means finding someone who knows how to install the phono cartridge (needle) properly to get the most music out of the grooves. Also, make sure you place your turntable on a rock-solid shelf to keep vibrations away.

LOOK FOR QUALITY VINYL -- Thrift shops, garage sales, used record stores and even your uncle's basement are great places to start your vinyl collection. There are also more new LPs pressed today than anytime since the mid-80s. Specialty stores can advise you on all the great music that's available on the best quality new vinyl.

A record album slides out of a press at the United Record Pressing company in Nashville, Tenn. on Jan. 25, 2007. The press turns a blob of vinyl about the size of a hockey puck into a record album.

TAKE CARE OF YOUR RECORD COLLECTION -- Avoid all those ticks and pops by removing the decades of grunge from the grooves with a really good record brush and record cleaning fluids. There are even special record cleaning machines that do all the work for you and will vacuum dry the LP so you can play it immediately. They can be pricey, however. Still, clean records not only sound better, they're much more valuable.

BRING YOUR RECORDS INTO THE 21st CENTURY -- The biggest trend in vinyl right now is taking your records and making them digital. Many newer turntables can connect directly to your computer via USB, and even older, standard turntables can run through a special USB Converter and achieve the same effect. Download some free "ripping" software, like Audacity, and you're ready to put your record collection right onto your iPod.

Of course, to get the full effect that I remember, you'll have to invent something really cool and valuable. Then move into the country. Just remember to hold out for royalties.

Vinyl Dreams By Keosha Thomas


June 17, 2008

“When I walked in the front door, I fell in love, Ashworth said about United Records Pressing.

While the majority of the world might consider records the stuff of days gone by, Cris Ashworth, president and CEO of United Record Pressing in Nashville, Tenn. believes they're a dream come true.

Currently, Ashworth is responsible for 30,000 to 40,000 of the new records in circulation, whether on personal record players, at parties where deejays mix on turntables or for sale in local mom and pop stores.

"LPs deliver an amazing sound and fun experience," said Anna Lundy, manager at Grimey's New & Preloved Music in Nashville. "The music is warm, and the sound quality is much better than CDs, cassettes or MP3s. And that is why they're successful."

Ashworth, 57, is a witty, spirited family man. Prior to his success in the album industry, Ashworth was a business leader, acting as chief financial officer for 30 years under Nashville Gas Company.

Although Ashworth had no knowledge or experience with the vinyl records or music industry, he envisioned a bigger picture and made his mark on a new business venture. After hearing around town that an old record plant was up for sale, Ashworth approached the owners, Ozell Simpkins and John Dunn.

"My friend called me up when I was without a gig, so to speak, and told me to take a look at URP and see what I thought about it," Ashworth said. "When I walked in the front door, I fell in love."

In 1999, Ashworth purchased URP. "It was the greatest investment of my life and an honest deal that I should have done a long time ago," he said. "I decided to buy the company … At first we only had 10 employees, and today we have around sixty."

Ashworth says Elvis Presley records are his biggest seller.

Next, he felt some minor changes were necessary in order for his new company to take off.

"Initially I planned to sell cassettes, CDs and vinyls because all the money was there," he said. "After I found out it would cost me $1 million to produce CDs, I moved faster to vinyl and decided I would be the King of Vinyl."

He's got evidence to back up his claim. URP has 23 presses (15 of which are used for a deal with Universal Records) and is a landmark on Gray Line's "Making of Music" Tour. The tour includes the album process, a retro-style upstairs apartment (built to accommodate Motown executives during the early 1960s) and, enclosed in a glass case, the unreleased single "Pops, We Love You" by Diana Ross and Marvin Gaye. It is one of Gaye's last records before he was killed by his father.

"There is not another company out there that does what we do at such a high level or looks like us," Ashworth said. "We have all the genres of music here: reggae, punk rock, Motown hits and even rap. We're the third coast, the ones that get it together and get it out the door."

Ashworth says that his secret formula for success is to remain excited about the business and its people.

"I try not to worry about the bottom line and focus on doing my job right every day," he said. "I also believe having a fair product and treating employees and customers fairly all the time is the key. I have made albums for Nelly Furtado, Bob Dylan and Elvis Presley. I enjoy the people and fulfilling dreams."

Vinyl remains relevant at record pressing By John Gerome


Sunday, February 25, 2007 9:02 PM CST
By John Gerome
Associated Press

Cris Ashworth, president and CEO of United Record Pressing, displays a few of the albums his company has pressed at their Nashville, Tenn. plant, on Jan. 25, 2007. Vinyl records aren't as retro as you might think. Many record collectors, DJs and music junkies still consider vinyl to be the gold standard of recorded music. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey))

Calvin Morris applies a chemical solution to a record album pressing plate at the United Record Pressing company in Nashville, Tenn. on Jan. 25, 2007. Vinyl records aren't as retro as you might think. Many record collectors, DJs and music junkies still consider vinyl to be the gold standard of recorded music. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

Vinyl pellets are shown as they are received at the United Record Pressing company in Nashville, Tenn. on Jan. 25, 2007. The pellets will go through a process that will heat and press them into a record album. Vinyl records aren't as retro as you might think. Many record collectors, DJs and music junkies still consider vinyl to be the gold standard of recorded music. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — That dusty stack of records in your parents’ basement? They’re not as retro as you might think. Many record collectors, DJs and music junkies still consider vinyl to be the gold standard of recorded music — scratches, pops and all.

That enduring appeal has helped Nashville’s United Record Pressing, which cranks out 20,000 to 40,000 records a day, making it one of the largest — and last — vinyl record manufacturers in the country.

“Folks thought we had disappeared,” owner and CEO Cris Ashworth said.

Started in 1962, the plant is as much a throwback as the shiny black discs it produces. The interior is dingy, the ‘70s decor looks like a vintage garage sale and the air is a stale blend of ink and cigarette smoke.

Ashworth, 56, sat down for a recent interview with an ashtray and pack of Merits by his side. He hardly looked the part of dance music guru, but 60 percent of his company’s records are by rap, hip-hop and R&B artists such as Justin Timberlake, Beyonce, Black Eyed Peas, Christina Aguilera, Ludacris and Krayzie Bone.

Most of the discs are 12-inch singles destined for professional DJs at radio stations and dance clubs who still use vinyl records and turntables to mix, scratch and blend music.

“The record labels use us as a marketing tool to get that new track out there,” Ashworth explained. “They’ll come to me on a Monday, want it out on Wednesday and played Friday or Saturday night at a club or radio station.”

Typically, the company will press four versions of the same song: a radio and club mix, as well as an instrumental and a cappella version so DJs can mix and manipulate the sound.

Another portion of United’s product goes to retail stores, where vinyl is preferred by amateur DJs, collectors and purists convinced that the sound is superior to CDs.

“Vinyl has a distinct sound,” said Doyle Davis, co-owner of Grimey’s New & Preloved Music, a Nashville store where 15 percent to 20 percent of sales are vinyl. “You hear people use adjectives like ‘warmer’ and ‘more round.’

“And there are other things beside sound quality. People know what the song titles are. It’s not like, ‘I like track 5.’ You put the needle on and let it play through — not jump around. You have more of an intimate relationship with the music.”

Vinyl records use analog technology, whereby a physical groove is etched into the record mimicking the sound wave. CDs, on the other hand, transform sound into digital packets of information.

“No one ever doubts the quality of vinyl over any other format that’s ever existed,” said George Sulmers, a Nashville-based club DJ who spins classic funk and soul discs under the name Geezus. “I understand why change happened, but I don’t think there was a valid need for the change.”

The means of music delivery continues to evolve. Digital downloading has eroded CD sales. Some artists are skipping CDs entirely and releasing new music online for the casual listener and on vinyl for DJs and hardcore fans.

But vinyl still accounts for a small percentage of total music sales. Last year 858,000 LPs were sold compared with 553.4 million CDs, according to Nielsen SoundScan. While the 2006 figure was up slightly from 2005, the overall trend has been down from 1.5 million in 2000.

Ashworth believes the data is skewed, though, because a lot of vinyl is sold in mom and pop stores not reflected in the SoundScan numbers.

His company has managed to thrive by picking up business from competitors in a shrinking market. Today, he has only 13 competitors compared to several dozen before CDs took over in the ‘90s. Revenues hit $5 million in 2004 and grew to $7 million in 2005. Last year saw significant growth over 2005, Ashworth said.

And yet the plant remains a timepiece with its rumbling presses that jar the floor, noisy blasts of compressed air and vats of blue nickel solution used to create the master discs.

Ashworth regards it a relic of Nashville’s past, every bit as important as the old RCA studio where Elvis Presley and the Everly Brothers recorded, or the Ryman Auditorium where the Grand Ole Opry enjoyed its heyday.

“We want to be the last vinyl plant standing, no matter what,” he said. “There is no other plant that looks like this in the country. This is an antique.”

Indeed, it still has the furnished apartment where Motown Records executives stayed when they came down from Detroit during segregation. The apartment adjoins a party room where Wayne Newton celebrated his 16th birthday.

Most of the major labels and many of the independents contract with United. Elvis Presley’s reissues are pressed here, as well as recordings by Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Johnny Cash, Rod Stewart, Alan Jackson, John Mayer and many others.

“If you look at the Hot 100 singles, we represent about 80 percent of what’s on the chart,” Ashworth said.

Ashworth himself is something of an oddity. A longtime corporate executive and former chief financial officer at Nashville Gas Co., he bought this place in 1999 with no experience or knowledge of the industry. At the time, the vinyl record business seemed doomed.

“My son was very worried about whether he was going to be able to go to college,” he said with a laugh, adding, “Thank the Lord for a trusting wife.”

But Ashworth made a go of it and then some, boosting employment at United from 10 to 60 people and fulfilling his own need to create something.

“A lot of people spend their lives doing something as opposed to making something, and I wanted to make something,” he said. “I wanted something tangible in my hands at the end of the day.”

On the Net:

United Record Pressing:

Grimey’s New & Preloved Music:

Some retailers give vinyl records a spin by Sarah Skidmore


Mon Jun 9, 2008 12:56 PM EDT

Fred Meyer, vinyl, records

Don Ryan / Associated Press
Fred Meyer manager Dave Parker prepares to play the Beatles Abbey Road record at a display in the Portland, Ore. store.

PORTLAND — It was a fortuitous typo for the Fred Meyer retail chain.

This spring, an employee intending to order a special CD-DVD edition of R.E.M.'s latest release "Accelerate" inadvertently entered the "LP" code instead. Soon boxes of the big, vinyl discs showed up at several stores.

Some sent them back. But a handful put them on the shelves, and 20 LPs sold the first day.

The Portland-based company, owned by The Kroger Co., realized the error might not be so bad after all. Fred Meyer is now testing vinyl sales at 60 of its stores in Oregon, California, Washington and Alaska.

Other mainstream retailers are giving vinyl a spin too. Best Buy is testing sales at some stores. And online music giant, which has sold vinyl for most of the 13 years it has been in business online, created a special vinyl-only section last fall.

The best-seller so far at Fred Meyer is The Beatles "Abbey Road" album. But musicians from the White Stripes and the Foo Fighters to Metallica and Pink Floyd are selling well, the company says.

"It's not just a nostalgia thing," said Melinda Merrill, spokeswoman for Fred Meyer. "The response from customers has just been that they like it, they feel like it has a better sound."

According to the Recording Industry Association of America, manufacturers' shipments of LPs jumped more than 36 percent from 2006 to 2007 to more than 1.3 million. Shipments of CDs dropped more than 17 percent during the same period to 511 million, as they lost some ground to digital formats.

The resurgence of vinyl centers on a long-standing debate over analog versus digital sound. Digital recordings capture samples of sound and place them very close together as a complete package that sounds nearly identical to continuous sound many people.

Analog recordings on most LPs are continuous, which produces a truer sound — though, paradoxically, some new LP releases are being recorded and mixed digitally but delivered analog.

Some purists also argue that the compression required to allow loudness in some digital formats weakens the quality as well.

But it's not just about the sound. Audiophiles say they also want the format's overall experience — the sensory experience of putting the needle on the record, the feeling of side A and side B and the joy of lingering over the liner notes.

"I think music products should be more than just music," said Isaac Hudson, a 28-year-old vinyl fan standing outside one of Portland's larger independent music stores.

The interest seems to be catching on. Turntable sales are picking up and the few remaining record pressers say business is booming.

But the LP isn't going to muscle out CDs or iPod soon.

Nearly 450 million CDs were sold last year, versus just under 1 million LPs, according to Nielsen SoundScan. Based on the first three months of this year, Nielsen says vinyl album sales could reach 1.6 million in 2008.

"I don't think vinyl is for everyone; it's for the die-hard music consumer," said Jay Millar, director of marketing at United Record Pressing, a Nashville based company that is the nation's largest record pressing plant.

Many major artists — Elvis Costello, the Raconteurs and others — are issuing LPs and encouraging fans to check out their albums on vinyl. On, one of the best-selling LPs is Madonna's latest album, "Hard Candy".

Some artists package vinyl and digital versions of their music together, including offers for free digital downloads along with the record.

"We've definitely had some talks with the major retailers about exclusives on the manufacturing end," Millar said of United Record Pressing, which focuses primarily on independent recordings.

An avid music fan himself, Millar says he has moved to vinyl in recent years.

"Once I got my first iPod ... I'm looking at my wall of CDs and trying to justify it," Millar said. "The things I like — the artwork, the liner notes, the sound quality — it dawns on me, those are things I like better on vinyl." He welcomed back the pops and clicks, even some of the scratches.

"I like that fact that it's imperfect in a lot of ways, live music is imperfect too," Millar said.

Independent music stores, which have been the primary source of LPs in recent years, say many fans never left the medium.

"People have been buying vinyl all along," said Cathy Hagen, manager at 2nd Avenue Records in Portland. "There was a fairly good supply from independent labels on vinyl all these years. As far as a resurgence, the major labels are just pressing more now."

In this game, big retailers aren't necessarily competing head to head with independent sellers' regular clientele of nostalgic baby boomers, independent label fans and turntable DJs.

"I cannot see that Best Buy or Fred Meyer would order the same things we would," Hagen said. "They aren't going to be ordering the reggae, funk, punk or industrial music."

Barack Hussein Obama II Birth Certificate Forgery or Reproduction?


Report: Obama mentored by Communist Party figure


Investigations show ties to radicals who shaped him, helped launch his political career

Posted: May 22, 2008
11:40 pm Eastern

By Jerome R. Corsi

Frank Marshall Davis

Barack Obama had extensive ties with extreme anti-American elements, including agents of the Moscow-controlled Communist Party USA, in Hawaii and Chicago, according to two new reports released yesterday in Washington, D.C., by two experienced internal security investigators.

Investigative journalist Cliff Kincaid and Herbert Romerstein, a former investigator with the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities, presented evidence Obama was mentored, while attending high school in Hawaii, by Frank Marshall Davis, an African-American poet and journalist who was also a CPUSA member.

The authors, in a separate report, document Obama's ties to radicals in Chicago who helped launch his career.

In a paper entitled "Communism in Hawaii and the Obama Connection," the authors document that in 1948, Davis decided to move from Chicago to Honolulu at the suggestion of what they describe as two "secret CPUSA members," actor Paul Robeson and Harry Bridges, the head of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen Union, or ILWU.

In Chicago, Davis had worked for the Chicago Star newspaper; in Honolulu, he was hired as a reporter for the Honolulu Record, both identified by Kincaid and Romerstein as "communist front newspapers."

In his autobiography, "Dreams from My Father," Obama discusses the influence a mentor identified in the book only as "Frank" had on his intellectual development.

Obama described Frank as a drinking companion of his grandfather, who had boasted of his association with African-American authors Richard Wright and Langston Hughes during the time Frank was a journalist in Chicago.

Romerstein, in addition to having served as investigator with the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities, served in the same capacity with the House Committee on Internal Security and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence. He was the head of the Office to Counter Soviet Disinformation for the U.S. Information Agency. Romerstein is also co-author of the influential book "The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America's Traitors," which included extensive documentation of the communist activities of Roosevelt administration staffer Alger Hiss.

Kincaid is the founder and president of America's Survival Inc., an independent watchdog group that monitors the U.N. and international terrorism. He is also editor of Accuracy in Media's AIM Report.

Are you a member of the Communist Party?

Kincaid and Romerstein quote Kathryn Takara of the University of Hawaii, who wrote a dissertation on the life of Frank Marshall Davis, confirming Davis was a significant influence on Obama when the senator attended Punahou prep school in Hawaii from 1975 to 1979

A transcript of a 1956 hearing before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee discovered by internal security affairs researcher and writer Max Friedman showed Davis took the Fifth Amendment when asked by the subcommittee if he was or had ever been a member of the Communist Party.

In the second report, "Communism in Chicago and the Obama Connection," Kincaid and Romerstein present evidence supporting their contention the SDS organization from which the Weather Underground organization and radicals Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dorhn came, received financial contributions from the CPUSA, which in turn receive its funding from Moscow.

Obama's run for the Illinois state Senate was launched by a fundraiser organized at Ayers' and Dorhn's Chicago home by Alice Palmer. Palmer had named Obama to succeed her in the state Senate in 1995, when she decided to run for a U.S. congressional seat.

Nine years before Palmer picked Obama to be her successor, she was the only African-American journalist to travel to the Soviet Union to attend the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, according to an article Palmer wrote in the CPUSA newspaper, People's Daily World, June 19, 1986.

"There has been no explanation of why Ayers et al. played a role in launching Obama's political career," Kincaid wrote.

Kincaid and Romerstein present documentation that Tom Hayden, another major figure in the SDS, is today one of four principal initiators of the "Progressives for Obama" movement, which calls for ending the war in Iraq "as quickly as possible, not in five years."

According to Kincaid and Romerstein, U.S. Peace Council executive committee member Frank Chapman "blew the whistle on communist support for Obama's presidential bid and his real agenda" in a letter to the People's Weekly World after Obama's win in the Iowa Democratic Party caucuses.

"Obama's victory was more than a progressive move; it was a dialectical leap ushering in a qualitatively new era of struggle," Chapman wrote. "Marx once compared revolutionary struggle with the work of the mole, who sometimes burrows so far beneath the ground that he leaves no trace of his movement on the surface.

Kincaid and Romerstein wrote, "The clear implication of Chapman's letter is that Obama himself, or some of his Marxist supporters, are acting like moles in the political process. The suggestion is that something is being hidden from the public."

Jerome R. Corsi is a staff reporter for WND. He received a Ph.D. from Harvard University in political science in 1972 and has written many books and articles, including his latest best-seller, "The Late Great USA." Corsi co-authored with John O'Neill the No. 1 New York Times best-seller, "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry." Other books include "Showdown with Nuclear Iran," "Black Gold Stranglehold: The Myth of Scarcity and the Politics of Oil," which he co-authored with WND columnist Craig. R. Smith, and "Atomic Iran."