Queen of controversy Lady Gaga is making headlines for yet another racy video featuring highly sexualized material combined with religious imagery. But while some argue Gaga has crossed the line between edgy and tasteless, her use of distorted Catholic imagery speaks to a rising trend in Hollywood.
The pop princess, real name Stefani Germanotta, recently released the music video for her single “Alejandro” and has sparked quite the outcry given its saturation of controversial imagery, including her swallowing rosary beads in a latex-version of a nun’s habit, holding the crucifix in front of her crotch and simulating group sex with a bunch of beefed-up men, who are nearly naked save for underwear and high heels.
Even fellow songstress Katy Perry, who comes from a religious upbringing, hinted her disdain for the music video last weekend when she tweeted, “Using blasphemy as entertainment is as cheap as a comedian telling a fart joke.”
But Gaga, who attended Catholic school as a teen, is hardly alone in her use of distorted Catholic imagery, nor is it anything new in pop music.
Madonna sparked several outcries in the late ’80s and early ’90s when she touched on issues of abortion in her video for “Papa Don’t Preach,” kissed a black Jesus in “Like a Virgin” and danced in front of a burning cross in “Like a Prayer.”
More recently, supermodel Miranda Kerr (who intends to release an inspirational book for young girls later this year) posed for edgy European fashion mag Numero in a spread that touched on homosexuality and Catholic imagery, as she sensually embraced a woman dressed as a nun. And last year “Dancing With the Stars” beauty Joanna Krupa starred in a PETA campaign to encourage people to adopt pets from rescue shelters, which just so happened to be set in a church – with Krupa, in the nude, holding a strategically placed crucifix to cover her private parts.
Meanwhile, Larry David urinated on an image of Jesus Christ in an episode of “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” and comedian Sarah Silverman made a viral YouTube video urging the Vatican to be sold in order to solve the world hunger crisis and suggested that, in return, our “caped crusader,” the Pope, would get sexual favors in heaven.
And just last week Pop Tarts reported on Comedy Central’s possible plans to develop a satirical series about Jesus Christ.
So why is it that the entertainment industry isn’t afraid to twist, tease and ridicule Christianity, or more specifically Catholicism, but rarely dares even to touch other religions? Would Gaga have dared hold a Koran to her crotch? Would David have been brave enough to relieve himself on a painting of Allah?
“Most definitely not,” said pop culture and media relations expert Adam Weiss. “It is disturbing to think we live in a country where we happily mock the values that the majority of our citizens stand for. It’s sad, but the entertainment/media industry only cares about the thoughts of Hollywood, West Hollywood and New York City – everyone else is an outcast or a hick.”
Talk show host and film critic Michael Medved echoed that sentiment, citing the long tradition of mocking Catholicism in this country.
“The reason this is considered to be OK is because the Catholic Church is the most visible and powerful, single religious institution on the planet. There is no comparable, unifying force in Islam or in any other religious faith or tradition. [The media] make fun of rich, white, businessmen all the time because no one thinks of them as underdogs.”
And according to the Catholic League of America, show business simply isn’t frightened of Catholicism the way it is of other religions.
“They won’t touch mainline Protestantism and Reform Judaism, and that’s because their teachings on sexuality are not out of sync with the views of the cultural elite,” said the organization’s president, Bill Donohue. “They won’t touch Islam out of fear. That leaves Catholicism; they loathe its teachings and are not afraid.”
Still, Gaga isn’t without her defenders, who say she is just using images to convey a message.
“These religious symbols are often symbols of oppression and youth, and they often have very emotional meanings, particularly for artists like Lady Gaga and Madonna who grew up with these teachings,” media expert Michael Levine said. “The Beatles’ biggest controversy was them saying they were bigger than Jesus Christ. Controversy is good for business and it’s a great opportunity to generate discussion.”
And “Alejandro” director Steven Klein told MTV that the video wasn’t meant to “denote anything negative, but represents the character’s battle between the dark forces of this world and the spiritual salvation of the Soul. She chooses to be a nun, and the reason her mouth and eyes disappear is because she is withdrawing her senses from the world of evil and going inward toward prayer and contemplation.”
MARK STEYN: Nicholas Kristof is just the latest great thinker to talk himself into a rosy view of Islam
Despite being a bit of an old showbiz queen, I’m not much for the huggy-kissy photo wall of me sharing a joke with various luvvies. I make an exception on the bureau behind my desk for a shot of yours truly and a beautiful woman, Somali by birth, Dutch by citizenship, at a beachfront bar in Malibu at sunset. I like the picture because, while I look rather bleary with a few too many chins, my companion is bright-eyed with a huge smile on her face and having a grand old time—grand, that is, because of its very normality: a crappy bar, drinks with cocktail umbrellas, a roomful of blithely ignorant California hedonists who’ll all be going back home at the end of the evening to Dancing With the Stars or Conan O’Brien or some other amusement.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali can’t lead that life. She lives under armed guard and was forced to abandon the Netherlands because quite a lot of people want to kill her. And not in the desultory behead-the-enemies-of-Islam you-will-die-infidel pro forma death-threats-R-us way that many of us have perforce gotten used to in recent years: her great friend and professional collaborator was murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by a man who shot him eight times, attempted to decapitate him, and then drove into his chest two knives, pinning to what was left of him a five-page note pledging to do the same to her.
What would you do in those circumstances? Ayaan and I had repaired to that third-rate bar after a day-long conference on Islam, jihad, free speech and whatnot. That’s usually where I run into her, whether in Malibu or at the Carlton Club in London or at a less illustrious venue. Would you be doing that with a price on your head? Or would you duck out of sight, lie low, change your name, move to New Zealand, and hope one day to get your life back? After the threats against the Comedy Central show South Park the other week, Ms. Hirsi Ali turned up on CNN to say that the best defence against Islamic intimidation is for us all to stand together and thereby “share the risk.” But, around the world, every single translator of her books has insisted on total anonymity. When push comes to shove, very few are willing to share the risk. The British historian Andrew Roberts calls her “the bravest woman I know.” I would say she is not only the bravest but also, given her circumstances, the most optimistic. I have an unbounded admiration for her personally, but a not insignificant difference philosophically, of which more momentarily.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s great cause is women’s liberation. Unfortunately for her, the women she wants to liberate are Muslim, so she gets minimal support and indeed a ton of hostility from Western feminists who have reconciled themselves, consciously or otherwise, to the two-tier sisterhood: when it comes to clitoridectomies, forced marriages, honour killings, etc., multiculturalism trumps feminism. Liberal men are, if anything, even more opposed. She long ago got used to the hectoring TV interviewer, from Avi Lewis on the CBC a while back to Tavis Smiley on PBS just the other day, insisting that say what you like about Islam but everyone knows that Christians are just as backward and violent, if not more so. The media left spends endless hours and most of its interminable awards ceremonies congratulating itself on its courage, on “speaking truth to power,” the bravery of dissent and all the rest, but faced with a pro-gay secular black feminist who actually lives it they frost up in nothing flat.
The latest is Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times. Reviewing Ayaan’s new book Nomad, he begins:
“She has managed to outrage more people—in some cases to the point that they want to assassinate her—in more languages in more countries on more continents than almost any writer in the world today. Now Hirsi Ali is working on antagonizing even more people in yet another memoir.”
That’s his opening pitch: if there are those who wish to kill her, it’s her fault because she’s a provocateuse who’s found a lucrative shtick in “working on antagonizing” people. The Times headlines Kristof’s review “The Gadfly,” as if she’s a less raddled and corpulent Gore Vidal. In fact, she wrote a screenplay for a film; Muslim belligerents threatened to kill her and her director; they made good on one half of that threat. This isn’t shtick.
But Kristof decides to up the condescension. Of the author’s estrangement from her Somali relatives, he writes: “I couldn’t help thinking that perhaps Hirsi Ali’s family is dysfunctional simply because its members never learned to bite their tongues and just say to one another: ‘I love you.’ ”
Awwwww. Group hug! Works every time.
But maybe not so much in Somalia. This isn’t a family where they bite their tongues but where they puncture their clitorises. At the age of five, Ayaan was forced to undergo “FGM” (female genital mutilation), or, in the new non-judgmental PC euphemism, “cutting.” When she had her first period, her mother beat her. When she was 22, her father arranged for her to marry a cousin in Canada. While in Germany awaiting the visa for her wedded bliss in Her Majesty’s multicultural utopia, she decided to skip out, and fled to the Netherlands.
All she wanted was a chance to do what Nicholas Kristof takes for granted—to live her own life. What difference would saying “I love you” in a Lifestyle Channel soft-focus blur accompanied by saccharine strings make? As they see it, the perpetrators of “honour killings” love their daughters: that’s why they kill ’em. Would Kristof wish to swap his options for the set menu served up to Muslim women? How would he like it if, just as he was getting ready to head to Oxford on his Rhodes Scholarship, his dad had announced that he’d arranged for him to marry a cousin? Oh, and in Canada.
Which brings me to my big philosophical difference with Ms. Hirsi Ali: in 2006, she was one of a dozen intellectuals to publish a manifesto against radical Islam and in defence of “secular values for all.” Often in her speeches, she’ll do a heartwarming pitch to all of us—“black, white, gay, straight”—to stand firm for secular humanism. My problem with this is that, in Europe and elsewhere, liberal secularism is not the solution to the problem but the vacuum in which a resurgent globalized Islam has incubated. The post-Christian, post-modern multicultural society is too vapid to have any purchase on large numbers of the citizenry. So they look elsewhere. The Times of London recently interviewed a few of Britain’s many female converts to Islam, such as Catherine Huntley, 21, of Bournemouth (“I’ve always been quite a spiritual person”) and Sukina Douglas, 28, of London (“Islam didn’t oppress women; people did”).
In a way, the Western left’s hostility to Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes my point for me. In Terror and Liberalism, Paul Berman wrote that suicide bombings “produced a philosophical crisis, among everyone around the world who wanted to believe that a rational logic governs the world.” In other words, it has to be about “poverty” or “social justice” because the alternative—that they want to kill us merely because we are the other—undermines the hyper-rationalist’s entire world view. Thus, every pro-gay, pro-feminist, pro-black Western liberal’s determination to blame Ayaan Hirsi Ali for the fact that a large number of benighted thuggish halfwits want to kill her. Deploring what he regards as her simplistic view of Islam, Nicholas Kristof rhapsodizes about its many fine qualities—“There is also the warm hospitality toward guests, including Christians and Jews.”
Oh, for crying out loud. In the Muslim world, Christians and Jews have been on the receiving end of a remorseless ethno-religious cleansing for decades. Christian churches get burned, along with their congregations, from Nigeria to Pakistan. Egypt is considering stripping men who marry Jewesses of their citizenship. Saudi Arabia won’t let ’em in the country. In the 1920s, Baghdad was 40 per cent Jewish. Gee, I wonder where they all went. Maybe that non-stop “warm hospitality” wears you down after a while . . .
As Paul Mirengoff of the Power Line blog observes, traditionally when useful idiots shill for illiberal ideologies it requires at least “the illusion of progressivism” to bring them on board. Islam can’t provide that, but that’s no obstacle to getting the bien pensants to sign up. As much as anyone, secular leftists want meaning in their lives. But Communism went belly up; the postwar welfare state is bankrupt; environmentalism has taken a hit in recent months; and Christianity gives them the vapours. Nicholas Kristof will not be the first great thinker to talk himself into a view of Islam as this season’s version of Richard Gere Buddhism.
At a superficial level, the Islamo-leftist alliance makes no sense: gay feminist secular hedonists making common cause with homophobic misogynist proscriptive theocrats. From Islam’s point of view, it’s an alliance of convenience. But I would bet that more than a few lefties will wind up embracing Islam to one degree or another before we’re done.
BP’s directors plan to suspend the oil giant’s dividend payment, the BBC has learned.
BBC business editor Robert Peston says that the directors are to meet on Monday to make a formal decision.
However, any formal announcement will not be made until after negotiations with the US president on Wednesday.
BP has been under intense pressure from the US government, which wants BP to use the money to pay for the Gulf of Mexico clean-up.
Meanwhile, BP’s shares closed 7.2% higher in London, fully recovering the losses suffered the previous day.
“In practice, Monday’s discussion at newly instituted weekly meetings of the board will be about when to suspend the payments, how long to suspend the payments, and what to do with the billions of dollars that would be saved and not paid to shareholders,” Robert Peston said.
It looks increasingly likely that dividend payments will be ceased for a period – because of the intense pressure to do so from senior US politicians and the White House
Robert Peston BBC business editor Read Robert’s blog in full Q&A: BP and your finances
Pensions expert and former government adviser Ros Altmann told the BBC that if the company did cut its dividend it would be “a blow” but should not be taken “out of proportion”.
“For people already drawing a pension it doesn’t really have much impact. For people saving for a pension, what we’re talking about here is one quarter’s dividend perhaps not being paid, certainly initially,” she said.
“It will only have an impact on people who are coming up to retirement immediately and will then have to convert their pension fund into a pension straight away, then the value of that pension fund will be less.”
Pensions expert Ros Altmann: “I don’t think we should take it out of proportion”
The National Association of Pension Funds (NAPF) estimates that UK pension funds’ exposure to BP is about 1.5% of their total assets, which are worth more than £800bn.
Joanne Segars, chief executive of the NAPF, agreed that the impact on pensions would be “relatively diluted” as pension funds invest in many different companies’ stocks and shares.
“The ability of pension funds to pay out pensions to today’s pensioners and tomorrow’s pensioners shouldn’t be affected by this crisis,” she said.
But she added: “If we saw a continuation of withholding of dividends or the company coming under further pressure and further speculation about its future then that’s a real issue.”
BP shares closed at 390 pence on Friday, recovering the losses suffered during a choppy trading session on Thursday.
However, the oil giant’s share price has almost halved since the Deepwater Horizon oil spill began on 20 April.
This week, the crisis has taken on a more political dimension with UK Prime Minister David Cameron and senior ministers commenting on the oil spill for the first time.
BP chairman Carl-Henric Svanberg, who has been asked to meet President Obama next week, earlier spoke to both UK Prime Minister David Cameron and Chancellor George Osborne.
A Downing Street spokesman said Mr Cameron had told the BP chairman that he was “frustrated and concerned” about the environmental damage caused by the spill.
He added: “He said that it is in everyone’s interests that BP continues to be a financially strong and stable company.”
David Cameron will discuss the issue with US President Barack Obama during their regular phone call on Saturday.
Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan —
The boy, dressed in white and thought to be no older than 13, appeared amid the din of a wedding party in a small southern Afghan village and walked up to within 15 feet of a cluster of tables where everyone was eating. As he prepared to detonate his suicide bomb vest, the gathering flew into a panic.
“Everyone immediately tried to escape,” said Abdullah Jan, a guest at the wedding. But there was no time.
The boy’s suicide vest packed with explosives detonated, killing more than 40 people and wounding at least 80, said Zemarai Khan, a local police chief who was at the wedding and witnessed the attack.
Carried out late Wednesday in a small village in Kandahar province, the attack underscored the vulnerability of Afghan society even as President Hamid Karzai pursues negotiations with Taliban insurgents who have waged war with his government and Western forces for nearly nine years.
The Taliban has scoffed at Karzai’s peace offer and has carried out a wave of deadly attacks since the Afghan leader convened a national peace conference in Kabul, the capital, last week aimed at establishing a framework for talks with the insurgency.
The bombing of the wedding in the village of Nagahan in the Arghandab district was the deadliest of those attacks. The bomber, who witnesses said was 12 or 13, targeted a housing compound where men and young boys were celebrating the wedding, authorities said. Female guests were in a different area. The groom was injured but survived, Jan said. His brother was killed.
Though authorities have not determined why the wedding was targeted, witnesses said the groom and several members of his family were Afghan police officers. Also, residents of Nagahan have formed a tribal militia to help keep Taliban militants from infiltrating their area.
The Afghan Interior Ministry sent a team of investigators to Nagahan.
Zalmay Ayubi, a spokesman for Kandahar Gov. Tooryalai Wesa, said villagers were supportive of the Afghan government.
The blast drew condemnations from Western officials as well as Karzai, who called it an act by “merciless people, who target innocent people at social gatherings and simply want to kill as many as they can.”
Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations’ special representative for Afghanistan, called the attack an “outrageous act.”
“To specifically target people who were gathering at a moment of happiness to celebrate a wedding shows a total disregard for civilian life,” he said.
U.S. and North Atlantic Treaty Organization commanders hope to turn the tide against the insurgency by defeating it in Kandahar, the Taliban’s former headquarters and birthplace. With thousands of additional U.S. troops in southern Afghanistan or on their way, the United States and its Western allies will try to secure Kandahar while ramping up civilian projects in a bid to strengthen the Afghan government’s presence in the region and ultimately turn its residents against the rebels.
U.S. commanders have moved away from using the term “offensive” to describe their strategy in Kandahar, and are now trying to characterize their efforts in the crucial province as a gradual process that might take longer than initially expected.
Speaking Thursday in Brussels, the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, U.S. Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, said the campaign to secure Kandahar, originally expected to conclude by August, probably would stretch into the fall.
“I do think it will happen more slowly than we had originally anticipated,” McChrystal said. “It will take a number of months for this to play out, but I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing…. I think it’s more important that we get it right than we get it fast.”
The Taliban has been fighting back in the south with a wave of attacks that have included assassinations of Afghan officials and the shooting down of a NATO helicopter this week that killed four U.S. soldiers.
Daud Ahmadi, a spokesman for the Helmand province governor’s office, said that on Tuesday insurgents in the Sangin district hanged a 7-year-old boy they had accused of spying for U.S. forces. Ahmadi said insurgents kidnapped the boy from his home and hanged him from a tree in his village. Taliban leaders denied that they executed the boy.
The Taliban also denied any involvement in the attack on the wedding. However, Wesa, the Kandahar governor, said he was convinced that the Taliban was responsible.
“The Taliban are doing two things at once,” Wesa said. “On one side, they target people who are in favor of the government. Then, at the same time, they don’t want people to know their real face.”
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A recently released book uncovers untold aspects of President Obama’s mysterious college years, tying the politician to associates of Weather Underground founder William Ayers and to radical groups operating at the time.
The new book, “The Manchurian President: Barack Obama’s ties to communists, socialists and other anti-American extremists,” charges Obama has deep ties to an anti-American extremist nexus that has been instrumental not only in building his political career but in crafting current White House policy.
The book exposes an extremist coalition of communists, socialists and other radicals working both inside and outside the administration to draft and advance current White House policy goals.
With nearly 900 citations, the New York Times best-selling title from WND senior reporter and WABC Radio host Aaron Klein bills itself as the most exhaustive investigation ever performed into Obama’s political background and radical ties. Klein’s co-author is historian and researcher Brenda J. Elliott.
Read the inside story on the president and his friends, get your autographed copy of “The Manchurian President” at WND’s Superstore
In one of the many strange features of Obama’s presidential candidacy, his 2008 campaign went to great lengths to conceal normally routine information about the candidate’s college years.
The information included his first two undergraduate years at Occidental College in Los Angeles, followed by his final two years and graduation from Columbia University in New York City.
No official or unofficial records were ever made available. No college transcripts, published records, or even contemporary newspaper announcements about his education have been released.
Obama remarkably relates in his autobiography “Dreams from My Father” that, beginning at Occidental, he surrounded himself with an assortment of radicals, socialists, Marxist-Leninists, Maoists and communists.
Obama, however, provides neither names nor clues.
“The Manchurian President” uncovers a slew of radicals with whom Obama associated during his college years.
It was at Occidental that Obama first engaged in community activism, delivering what has been described as the first political speech of his career. On Feb. 18, 1981, Obama addressed students gathered outside Coons Hall administration building, exhorting Occidental’s trustees to divest from South Africa.
Obama writes in “Dreams” about the rally in which he took part, reportedly led by the Black Student Alliance and Students for Economic Democracy.
Obama agreed to deliver the opening remarks for the rally, for which, he writes, “the agenda had been carefully arranged beforehand.” In the middle of his speech “a couple of white students” were to come onstage, “dressed in their paramilitary uniforms,” to drag him away. “A bit of street theater, a way to dramatize the situation for activists in South Africa,” Obama writes.
Students for Economic Democracy, or SED, was a national student advocacy group established by soon-to-be California State Representative Tom Hayden, now a professor at Occidental, and his former wife, actress Jane Fonda
Hayden authored the 1962 “Port Huron Statement,” the first official political manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society, or SDS – the radical 1960s protest movement from which Ayers’ Weathermen terrorist organization splintered.
An example of Hayden’s brash rhetoric dates to his December 1968 testimony before the House Committee on Un-American Activities on the Chicago “anti-war protests.”
At the committee, a portion of Hayden’s SDS manifesto was read:
“Disobey your parents: burn your money: you know life is a dream and all of our institutions are man-made illusions effective because YOU take the dream for reality. … Break down the family, church, nation, city, economy; turn life into an art form, a theatre of the soul and a theatre of the future; the revolutionary is the only artist. … What’s needed is a generation of people who are freaky, crazy, irrational, sexy, angry, irreligious, childish and mad: people who burn draft cards, burn high school and college degrees; people who say: “To hell with your goals!”; people who lure the youth with music, pot and acid; people who re-define the normal; people who break with the status-role-title-consumer game; people who have nothing material to lose but their flesh. …”
When asked if this was “the way to have a better America,” Hayden called them “beautiful sentiments.”
The official mission statement for Hayden’s SED, for which Obama delivered a major speech, espouses socialist ideology:
“Economic democracy means that ownership and control will be spread among a wide variety of public bodies: city, state and Federal governments, churches, trade unions, cooperatives and community groups, small business people, workers and consumers.”
Hayden later was a founding member of Progressives for Obama, a matrix of radicals who supported Obama’s presidential candidacy.
Meanwhile, “Manchurian” relates Obama’s involvement with the anti-apartheid movement, which sparked a firestorm of activism at Occidental.
The book rejects as unlikely speculation from various media outlets that two Occidental professors, Roger Boesche and Eric Newhall, served as Obama’s political mentors at the time.
Instead, “Manchurian” finds the most likely candidate to be Occidental professor Gary Chapman, whose background includes “military service, academic research and organizational experience.”
Chapman’s political organization and campaign experience also includes “peace issues” with the New American Movement, or NAM. The lineage of NAM is associated with that of the Democratic Socialists of America. NAM also is identified as a “splinter group” of Hayden’s and Ayers’ SDS.
Obama has revealed almost nothing about his last two years as an undergraduate at Columbia University’s Columbia College.
Obama has said he was involved with the Black Students Organization, which emerged in the 1960s in response to a growing black student population at Columbia. Undergraduates formed the Student Afro-American Society, “which was concerned with the affairs of black students and issues of the greater black community.”
The Coalition for a Free South Africa, or CFSA, began as a Black Students’ Organization committee to promote Columbia University’s divestment in stock in companies doing business in South Africa.
CFSA, which split from the Black Students’ Organization in 1981, was a loosely structured group with a predominantly black steering committee of about a dozen individuals who made decisions by consensus, and a less active circle of about fifty students who attended meetings and the group’s protests and educational events.”
Early CFSA leaders were Danny Armstrong, a Columbia College student who played forward for Columbia’s basketball team, and Barbara Ransby, a student from the School of General Studies
As CFSA spokeswoman, Ransby famously convinced Columbia’s student senate “to support full divestment.”
Ransby, now an associate professor of African-American studies and history at the University of Illinois-Chicago, and the executive director of Public Square, was in the class of 1984 at Columbia, only one year behind Obama, who would later publicly appear with both Ransby and Ayers.
In April 2002, Ransby appeared at a University of Illinois-Chicago forum and sat on the same panel – “Intellectuals in Times of Crisis: Experiences and applications of intellectual work in urgent situations” – with both Obama and Ayers.
Obama knew FCC chief from Columbia activism?
Another name that emerges from Obama’s involvement with the Black Students’ Organization and Coalition for a Free South Africa is that of Julius Genachowski.
In October 2008, Genachowski, co-founder of the venture capital firm LaunchBox Digital, was described as “an adviser to Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.”
Obama and Genakowski were later Harvard Law School classmates.
In August 2008 it was reported in the New York Times that Genachowski, who led the Obama campaign’s technology working group, was also a big fundraiser. Genachowski raised at least $500,000 as an Obama “bundler.”
In March 2009, Obama nominated Genachowski to chair the Federal Communications Commission, and he was sworn in June 29, 2009.
Book uncovers radical nexus
Along with a chapter on Ayers, “The Manchurian President” includes an extensive investigation into Obama’s own background. The work uncovers, among many other things, Obama’s early years, including his previously overlooked early childhood ties to a radical, far-left church connected to Ayers’ ideology.
Obama’s associations with the Nation of Islam, Black Liberation Theology and black political extremists are also revealed, with extensive new information on the subjects.
Also detailed are Obama’s deep ties to ACORN, which are much more extensive than previously documented elsewhere. The book crucially describes how a socialist-led, ACORN-affiliated union helped facilitate Obama’s political career and now exerts major influence in the White House.
“The Manchurian President” contains potentially explosive information not only about President Obama but also concerning other officials in the White House, including top czars and senior advisers Valerie Jarrett and David Axelrod.
“The Manchurian President” also exposes how Obama’s health-care policy, masked by moderate populist rhetoric, was pushed along and partially crafted by extremists, some of whom reveal in their own words that their principal aim is to achieve corporate socialist goals and a vast increase in government powers.
“I believe this work is crucial to Americans from across the political spectrum,” says Klein, “including mainstream Democrats who should be alarmed that their party has been hijacked by an extreme-left fringe bent on permanently changing the party to fit its radical agenda.
“Indeed, this book will document, with new information, Obama’s own involvement with a socialist party whose explicit goal was to infiltrate and eventually take over the Democratic Party and mold it into a socialist organization,” Klein claims.
Klein began investigating Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign and broke major national stories. He first exposed the politician’s association with Ayers in a widely circulated WND article.
The story prompted the Nation magazine to lament, via the CBS News website, that “mainstream reporters now call the Obama campaign to ask about Klein’s articles.”
It was in a WABC Radio interview with Klein that Ahmed Yousef, chief political adviser to Hamas, “endorsed” Obama for president, generating world headlines and sparking controversy. Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain and Obama repeatedly traded public barbs over Hamas’ positive comments.
Klein was among the first reporters to expose that Obama’s “green jobs” czar, Van Jones, founded a communist organization and called for “resistance” against the U.S. government. The theme was picked up and expanded upon by the Fox News Channel’s Glenn Beck, leading to Jones’ resignation last September.
Co-author Brenda J. Elliott is a historian, author and investigative researcher known for her blogging during the 2008 presidential election about Ayers, Tony Rezko and other controversial figures linked to Obama. Since 1988, Elliott has been responsible for a number of historical projects, has won an award by Project Censored for her work and has been named “One of the Intriguing People” by Central Florida magazine.
The introduction to “The Manchurian President” relates: “Barack Obama is backed by and deeply tied to an anti-American fringe nexus that, as this book will show, was instrumental not only in mentoring Obama and helping him to build his political career, but essentially in overthrowing the moderate wing of the Democratic Party and in securing and powerfully influencing Obama’s presidency.
“As will be seen, these radical associates not only continue to influence Obama and White House strategy, but some are directly involved in creating the very policies intended to undermine or radically transform the United States of America.”
A seven-year-old boy was murdered by the Taleban in an apparent act of retribution this week. Afghan officials said that the child was accused of spying for US and Nato forces and hanged from a tree in southern Afghanistan.
Daoud Ahmadi, the spokesman for the provincial governor of Helmand, said that the killing happened days after the boy’s grandfather, Abdul Woodod Alokozai, spoke out against militants in their home village.
Mr Ahmadi said: “His grandfather is a tribal elder in the village and the village is under the control of the Taleban. His grandfather said some good things about the Government and he formed a small group of people to stand against the Taleban. That’s why the Taleban killed his grandson in revenge.”
The attack happened in Heratiyan, in Sangin, near where insurgents shot down an American Pave Hawk helicopter on Wednesday, killing all four crew. The helicopter was swooping over the town to suppress attacks on a grounded air ambulance, which was picking up British casualties.
Shamsuddin Khan Faryie, an elder in Heratiyan, said that the boy, identified as the son of Abul Qudooz, was seized as he played in his garden. He was found hanged from a nearby tree.
Mr Faryie said that there were conflicting reports within the village over who was responsible. “Some people said that it was Taleban,” he said. “Some people said they were private enemies. Some Taleban I spoke to said that he was a spy. Some said that it wasn’t them.”
The killing of children to punish their families has echoes of Western mafia-style violence. Under Pashtunwali, the ancient honour code of the Pashtuns, it is likely to provoke more vendettas and blood-letting.
Qari Yousef Ahmaid, the Taleban spokesman, denied that any of his militants were involved. “The Taleban’s enemies are the Afghan Government and the foreign forces,” he said. “We never kill children. Everyone knows a seven-year-old can’t be a spy.”
Buried deep inside a federal newsletter on March 16 was something called a “notice of solicitation of comments” from the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the Department of Labor.
“BLS is responsible for developing and implementing the collection of new data on green jobs,” said the note in the Federal Register, which is widely read by government bureaucrats and almost never seen by the general public. But the notice said there is “no widely accepted standard definition of ‘green jobs.'” To help find that definition, the Labor Department asked that readers send in suggestions.
The notice came only after the department scoured studies from government, academia, and business in search of a definition. “The common thread through the studies and discussions is that green jobs are jobs related to preserving or restoring the environment,” the notice said. Duh! Beyond that, a precise definition has eluded Labor Department officials.
On Capitol Hill, a staffer for Sen. Charles Grassley, ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee, was poring through the Federal Register and spotted the note. Then he went to the Department of Labor Web site, where he found a number of announcements like these:
** U.S. Department of Labor Announces $100 Million in Green Jobs Training through Recovery Act
** U.S. Department of Labor Announces $150 Million in “Pathways Out of Poverty” Training Grants for Green Jobs
** U.S. Department of Labor Announces Nearly $190 Million in State Energy Sector Partnership and Training Grants for Green Jobs
In the staffer’s mind, two and two came together. The Labor Department is shoving money out the door for “green jobs,” yet at the same time is admitting it doesn’t know what a “green job” is.
Cue Grassley, a longtime watchdog of funny business in the federal bureaucracy. In a June 2 letter to Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, Grassley noted that there was an enormous amount of money in the $862 billion stimulus bill for those still-undefined green jobs.
“According to the administration, the Recovery Act contains more than $80 billion in clean energy funding to promote economic recovery and develop clean energy jobs,” Grassley wrote. “However, it has come to my attention that the [Labor Department] is just now attempting to define what a ‘green job’ is. Interestingly, this comes more than a year after the Recovery Act was signed into law and after millions of dollars in funding have already been distributed for green jobs.”
Since the Labor Department is looking for a definition after spending hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars on green jobs, Grassley asked, then what definition of green jobs did it use when it spent the money? The question applies beyond the Labor Department. What about all the other government agencies that are spending zillions on green jobs? They don’t have a widely accepted definition either.
Grassley voted against the stimulus. But since it passed, he wants to hold the administration accountable for the money. “This inquiry is a measure of oversight to make sure the money is spent the way supporters of the legislation said it would be spent,” he says. “I’m asking how the administration is distributing the money for what it said would go to clean energy jobs. If the criteria were too broad or poorly defined, the money might be going for other kinds of spending.”
So far, the Labor Department has not yet responded to Grassley, and a spokesman did not respond to a request for comment.
Meanwhile, even as it searches for the definition of a green job, the Labor Department is assuring Congress that everything is going gangbusters on the green job front. “The demand for green job training opportunities is enormous,” Solis told a Senate committee in March, adding that the Labor Department had by that time already spent $500 million on green jobs, with more to come. “The department has been unable to keep pace with the record number of applications for grants.”
Last year, Republicans complained that the Obama administration planned to spend billions on an ill-defined concept of green jobs. Now, billions have been spent, and many more will be spent, and the administration still can’t tell you what a green job is. Just look at the Federal Register.
President Obama says he values accountability. How about accounting for those green job billions?
Standing in front of a wall-to-wall mural featuring a who’s who of revolutionaries, including Ho Chi Minh, Fidel Castro and Che Guevara, and boldly displaying the motto Patria o Muerte, Venceremos!!! (Fatherland or Death, We Shall Overcome!!!), a group of teachers, students, parents and community activists in the Los Angeles Unified School District gathered last month for an unusual field trip — to Arizona, to protest that state’s controversial immigration law.
A video posted on YouTube shows LA social studies teacher Jose Lara interviewing teachers and students on May 28 at the headquarters of an organization calling for a Mexican revolution on U.S. soil. Soon after he shot the video, many in the group left for an overnight “freedom ride” to Phoenix to protest what Lara tells the camera is a “racist and outrageous” law.
Four days later, the school board president implored the superintendent of schools to ensure that students in the district be taught that Arizona’s law is “un-American” and Jim Crow-like. The law, passed in April, empowers law enforcement officials to question the immigration status of people they think may be in the country illegally.
Lara, who made the video, teaches at the Unified School District’s Santee Education Complex with Ron Gochez, another social studies teacher who came under fire last month after he was identified making incendiary remarks in a widely circulated YouTube video that shows him speaking at a 2007 rally for La Raza, a revolutionary group calling for Mexican revolt inside the United States.
In that video, Gochez referred to Americans as “frail, racist, white people, and to California as “stolen, occupied Mexico.” The video’s posting led to a groundswell of anger and a flood of calls for Gochez’s firing, but a school district investigation found him fit to continue teaching history to public school students.
Both Lara and Gochez are active in numerous revolutionary groups, including Union Del Barrio, a La Raza organization that Gochez helped establish across the street from Santee High School.
In the video shot before the trip to Arizona, students, teachers and others are seen gathered at the Union Del Barrio meeting hall and cultural center in Los Angeles, called Centro Cultural Francisco Villa — a nod to one of the leaders of the Mexican Revolution — where wall murals picture revolutionary leaders — including Ho Chi Minh — holding machine guns.
Beside portraits of the revolutionaries is a hand-painted rendering of the famous and long-living revolutionary motto: Patrio o Muerte, Venceremos!!! Popularized by Fidel Castro during the Cuban Revolution, it’s been used by Latin American leaders including Hugo Chavez of Venezuela and Evo Morales of Bolivia, who declared it the official motto of his nation’s army three months ago.
Gochez confirmed to FoxNews.com that he participated in the caravan to Arizona, though he does not appear in Lara’s video blog entry. Gochez did, however, give numerous on-camera interviews to local news outlets from Centro Cultural Francisco Villa that same night.
In his video, Lara asks a North Hollywood High School student named Susana why she’s heading to Arizona.
“Even though we’re — I don’t even know how miles away — we’re there, we’re there for la gente, we’re there to help every Latino who’s being accused for being immigrants,” Susana says. “We have the power to make a lot of change.”
Toward the end of the video, Lara introduces another LAUSD teacher, Clare Martinet of Garfield High School.
“I’m getting on the bus because, I think, that the laws are such a threat to all of us,” she says. “I’m getting on the bus for all the people that can’t get on the bus — for my students and parents of my students … I’m here with them in solidarity.”
School district spokesman Robert Alaniz declined to comment.
The teachers who accompanied students to Phoenix are no strangers to political activism and controversial speech. Gochez has organized against immigration law enforcement raids and held anti-Immigration and Customs Enforcement meetings at his public high school. Lara has worked to secure scholarships and student loans for high school students who are in the U.S. illegally.
Lara and Martinet did not respond to e-mail requests for comment.
FoxNews.com has also uncovered e-mails sent by Martinet to a Progressive Educators discussion group that reveal her involvement in a May 16 march to protest Arizona’s immigration law and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who gave a commencement speech that day at Pomona College.
In an e-mail to the group on March 15, Martinet listed the demands of the next day’s “March and Rally to DHS Secretary Napolitano’s Speech at the Pomona College.”
1. To Stop the Criminalization of Immigrant Families!
2. No More Deportations and Raids!
3. Stop Using Police to Enforce Immigration Laws!
4. Stop Arizona Now!
5. Pass a Just/Humane Immigration Reform Now!”
The day after the march, Martinet wrote an e-mail directing the group to “a nationwide call for people to converge on Phoenix, Arizona, on May 29 for a National Day of Action.”
Three days after the teachers and students caravanned to Phoenix to protest the immigration law, the Los Angeles school district board passed a resolution opposing it. The board said the district would look into curtailing district travel to the district and business with any Arizona-based companies. The school board president called on the superintendent to ensure that students throughout the district are taught that the immigration law is “un-American.”
Hours after that June 1 school board meeting, Lara posted on his Facebook wall a link to an article titled, “LAUSD board condemns Arizona Immigration law,” along with the comment, “I know what I am teaching tomorrow in class!!!!”
Others weren’t so sure. A Facebook user named Anne responded, “LAUSD CLEAN UP YOUR OWN HOUSE FIRST!” and another, Lou De Pace, a longtime LAUSD educator who’s now retired, wrote, “amazing CA is going to hell in a handbag that is empty and we worry about AZ.”
De Pace still sits on a teachers’ union committee and is involved in national education and student activist causes. He said the student-teacher field trip was another example of the district focusing on other people’s issues while avoiding their own.
“I think it’s ridiculous. There’s so many more important things — like oversized classrooms, that’s one of the biggest problems in the district,” De Pace said. “I don’t understand what their priorities are…. What message are we sending our kids, help everyone else other than yourself?”
“Clean your house up so you don’t live in glass house that people can throw stones at it.”
Florida Congressman Alan Grayson represents everything wrong with politics today. Even fellow Democratic Party/Progressive Congressman Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) says that Grayson has issues. Back in October, Weiner commented:
“Is this news to you that this guy’s [Grayson] one fry short of a Happy Meal?”
Grayson’s latest idiocy was to suggest that we should round up all of the people that called for “drill here, drill now” and throw them in Jail.
There is no suggestion here that Grayson really wants to throw people in jail, nor does he really believe that Dick Cheney is a Vampire, that gas would only cost a dollar per gallon if former President George W. Bush had let Saudi Prince Abdullah “get to second base” or even that federal reserve adviser Linda Robertson is a K-Street Whore.
The real issue is just because Grayson has Walt Disney World in his district he doesn’t have to act as if the United States Government is a Mickey Mouse operation. Grayson is the embodiment of the nastiness that turns off voters. He uses the same progressive style of political argument as does President Obama, the Finger-Pointer-in Chief uses; do not bring up facts, or make logical arguments, call them names or blame others.
The Florida Democrat feels his nasty comments represents the right thing to do. In fact Grayson believes he is the second coming of Harry Truman.
“I have spoken out honestly and courageously on many issues that are important to all of us, especially the fact that I want every American who is sick to be able to see a doctor, and get the care that he or she needs. The other side disagrees, and so they complain about me and attack me personally. But as Harry Truman said, “I don’t give them hell. I just tell the truth about them, and they think it’s hell.” People liked a President with guts, and they like a Congressman with guts. That’s why our polls show that if I ran in the Republican primary, not just the Democratic primary, I’d win it. That’s why a first-term Congressman like me has the largest donor base of any member of Congress. We are working hard, paying attention, and getting things done, so of course they attack us. And as Franklin Roosevelt said about his opponents, who sought to keep America mired in the Great Depression, “I welcome their hatred.”
Grayson needs to learn that there is a big difference between being a bully and being courageous like Truman. Courageous people use logic and facts to make arguments, bullies like Grayson call people names and act a bit goofy. Grayson’s type of goofy, unlike the Disney character is not a bit entertaining, he is just a sad representation of how low politicians can get.
As Congress considers the Democrats’ unprecedented legislative assault on Wall Street, radical leftists say the bad economy gives them new opportunities to push America even farther down the road to socialism.
“The banking crisis is the next big thing,” said George Goehl, executive director of the Chicago-based group National People’s Action.
National People’s Action has been participating in a nationwide campaign with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Jobs With Justice, Americans for Financial Reform, and other groups called the “Showdown in America,” which consists largely of loud street protests. NPA and SEIU have also been using angry mobs to invade banks and terrorize bank executives in their homes.
“The banking crisis is the way to build a big economic justice movement in this country,” Goehl said during a panel discussion this week at the left-wing “America’s Future Now” conference in Washington, D.C. The confab was hosted by the Campaign for America’s Future and its sister organization, the Institute for America’s Future.
“People are questioning capitalism. People are asking, Will this economy ever work for me or will it work for my kids? This is a once in a lifetime opportunity as progressives to engage millions of Americans in a big conversation around serious economic restructuring, not around eking out some victories around the margins, not about making life a little less worse for people, but about big time transformative change.”
If you build a platform for revolution, they will come, Goehl said.
“If we create a space for people to come out they want to come out. People are ready to move to the streets, some because they’re angry, some because they want justice right now, and some because they’re tired of hearing about the tea party coming out, and we as leaders in the progressive movement — we’re failing if we don’t create that room for people.”
Goehl said his comrades need to get involved in “mass political education at a different level than we’ve seen.” A century ago during the populist movement there were tens of thousands of populist lecturers roaming the country proselytizing, he said.
In an interview, Goehl said the “Showdown” is continuing. “Nothing’s nailed down yet but there should be a whole set of activities.”
NPA, he explained, “came out of Chicago neighborhood organizing and then basically people kept running into the fact that they needed some kind of national power,” said Goehl. “All the issues they were running into had a national angle so they would come together to try to come up with a constructive solution locally and then it’d be a federal problem.”
During the same panel discussion, Heather Booth, executive director of Americans for Financial Reform, said an economy-killing “financial speculation tax” was needed to curb the incentive for people to, well, participate in capitalism.
“A big battle still needs to be waged to curb the incentive for speculation and to get our money back to fund jobs and health care, climate and more,” said the practiced orator.
“This fight against Wall Street is part of an even larger fight over who matters in the society, over our values and our priorities, over whether or not we have corporate control in banking, whether BP can destroy the coast, whether the insurance companies can deny our health care, whether companies can dominate our politics saying that money is speech,” Booth said.
Booth is an old hand at leftist astro-turfing operations. She’s a disciple of Saul Alinsky and she founded the Midwest Academy, a training institute for radical community organizers. “Alinsky is to community organizing as Freud is to psychoanalysis,” she has been quoted saying.
According to former radical David Horowitz’s online encyclopedia of the left, DiscoverTheNetworks, “In the late 1960s and early 1970s, she supported the Weather Underground.”
What’s worrisome is that Booth has strong ties to the Obama administration: She’s a former training director for the Democratic National Committee.