Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Sounds Like A Sham Wow

July 04, 2008

Well, Vince from Sham Wow is quite a spokesman. This skinny, meth addict-ish squirell just twists and twists his way into history. He wore a headset while being filmed for his national spot, but I hardly think he'll have to continue on the phone bank crew for very long. He's famous now. Goodbye cheap headset, polo t-shirt, and eye-twitch. It's time to realize your glory.

Much like Obama. I mean, before last year, who really knew anything about him? His star has risen quickly. From his own books we know that he was raised for five years in Indonesia at a parochial school dominated by Islamic teachings. Some refer to it as a madrassa. However, the Obama camp is quick to refuse to call it that, as Barrack says that the academy allowed some students of different faiths to attend. We also know that he spent 5 more years in Hawaii. The private school he was admitted into is reportedly attained at an annual fee of $20,000. Read on to see a confirmation from the savvy, trusted buster of urban legends, lies, rumors, and untruths, we know of as Snopes.

Of his first father, we know this from Snopes: "[My father] was as African, I would learn, a Kenyan of the Luo tribe, born on the shores of Lake Victoria in a place called Alego. The village was poor, but his father, my other grandfather, Hussein Onyango Obama; had been a prominent farmer, an elder of the tribe, a medicine man with healing powers. My father grew up herding his father's goats and attending the local school, set up by the British colonial administration, where he had shown great promise. He eventually won a scholarship to study in Nairobi; and then, on the eve of Kenyan independence, he had been selected by Kenyan leaders and American sponsors to attend a university in the United States." Obama has written (and spoken) at length about his father's returning to Africa from America to work for the Kenyan government, with that country's political turmoil eventually leaving him a "bitter drunk" and "a defeated, lonely bureaucrat."

Of his mother, we know this from Snopes: "For my mother, organized religion too often dressed up closed-mindedness in the garb of piety, cruelty and oppression in the cloak of righteousness.This isn't to say that she provided me with no religious instruction. In her mind, a working knowledge of the world's great religions was a necessary part of any well-rounded education. In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas Day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites. But I was made to understand that such religious samplings required no sustained commitment on my part. Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its wellspring, just one of the many ways — and not necessarily the best way — that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives.In sum, my mother viewed religion through the eyes of the anthropologist she would become; it was a phenomenon to be treated with a suitable respect, but with a suitable detachment as well."

From Snopes, we know this: "Barack Obama's parents separated when he was two years old, his father moving to Connecticut to continue his education before returning to Kenya. When the younger Obama was six years old, his mother married again, this time to Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian oil manager. Barack and his mother moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, where Obama spent 4-5 years attending both Muslim and Catholic schools before his mother sent him back to the United States to live with his maternal grandmother. The school Barack Obama attended in Indonesia was "Muslim" primarily in the sense that the preponderance of its student body was Muslim (because Indonesia is a predominantly Muslim country), but both the Muslim and Catholic schools he attended in Indonesia offered a few hours of religious instruction each week.In his 2006 book, The Audacity of Hope, Obama elaborated on his early schooling, explaining that he attended both Catholic and Muslim schools in Indonesia; not out of any particular religious affiliation, but because his mother wanted him to obtain the best education possible under the circumstances: "During the five years that we would live with my stepfather in Indonesia, I was sent first to a neighborhood Catholic school and then to a predominantly Muslim school; in both cases, my mother was less concerned with me learning the catechism or puzzling out the meaning of the muezzin's call to evening prayer than she was with whether I was properly learning my multiplication tables."

Isn't it curious how much the author tries to assure the reader that attending these religious schools was by no means a testament that he received any religious instruction of any sort? Quite the opposite, in fact: his mother, a rebel in herself, after purposely avoiding any American, nay, Western choice for fathering her child, chooses to pay a lot of money to have her son attend not a secular academy or prepatory school befitting of someone who wouldn't take to receiving religious indoctrination, but these self-described schools of religious indoctrination indeed.What's interesting about Snopes, however, is how earnest they seem to be at disputing the notion that Obama IS a Muslim. I've been hearing for many months, now, about how ridiculous it is to think that he is a Muslim.

I really don't care as much about a person's faith if they're upfront about it, but the more I'm implored to NEVER believe something, I become a bit suspicious. When I read a supposedly bona fide rumor-busting source on these subjects such as Snopes, though, I expect to see unassailable sources in order to back up their claims.

I loose faith in Snopes when I see this: "Claim: Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, "He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school." Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that he is not a radical.
[Snopes response] Barack Obama never stated that he "was once a Muslim" (radical or otherwise), so his "handlers" have nothing to "conceal." Obama communications director Robert Gibbs noted that "Senator Obama has never been a Muslim. As a six-year-old in Catholic school, he studied the catechism." Barack Obama has been associated with the United Church of Christ since the mid-1980s, describes himself as a Christian, and says that he is "rooted in the Christian tradition."[end Snopes explanation]"

And that is that? Snopes "debunks" a myth by asking a campaign public relations specialist whether it's true or not?

To further buttress their contention, Snopes turns to these unbiased news organizations: CNN and AP: "Claim: Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta. Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world.
[Snopes response] The claim that Obama attended a radical Wahabbist school in Indonesia in the mid-1960s is exceedingly far-fetched, given that: The large Indonesian community resident in Mecca was a medium through which knowledge about Wahhabism reached Indonesia, but the community itself appears to have remained virtually immune to Wahhabi influences. In reality there was little direct influence of Wahhabism on Indonesian reformist thought until the 1970s.

So Snopes is satisfied that elements of dangerous, radical belief didn't waft through the halls of a mainly-Islamic school in Indonesia because A) philosophy books written in Indonesian reformist thought don't reflect a violent, jihad-centered movement's credo; and B) things in Indonesia APPEAR to be immune to Wahabiism! Move on, folks, no story here! It's "far-fetched" to look beneath the surface of philosophy tracts and magazines. Indonesia's capital, Jakarta, has over 8,300,000 people in it alone, a literacy rate over age 15 at 64%, with a religious breakdown at 77% Muslim, the rest a showing of Hindu and Christian, with only a scant 1.9% claiming to be nonreligious, so don't fault me if the authors of Snopes' claim that by their estimation, as Westerners who may or may not know this massive city's many layers, there doesn't APPEAR to be any influence of a brotherhood that has moved silently in the shadows of the Middle East for hundreds of years.

[Snopes admits] "Insight magazine claimed in a January 2007 article that Barack Obama spent at least four years attending what is variously described as a "madrassa," a "radical Muslim religious school," or a "Muslim seminary" in Indonesia, but CNN has more recently reported that its own investigation found those claims to be false: [R]eporting by CNN in Jakarta, Indonesia and Washington, D.C., shows the allegations that Obama attended a madrassa to be false. CNN dispatched Senior International Correspondent John Vause to Jakarta to investigate.He visited the Basuki school, which Obama attended from 1969 to 1971.

This should feel "odd", already, to the careful student of politics. Before I examine the naive notion that the leaders of this school, Basuki, wouldn't have quickly "adjusted" the appearances of this school for the famous visitors from CNN, I must voice my concern for unbiased reporting from CNN. I don't trust CNN because of a few things, among them being Ted Turner himself, and his outspoken attitude of America.

One of the other reasons is because of the fact that CNN and the New York Times were the only two American news companies to remain in Iraq after the first Gulf War. See, even though we won that war, we allowed Saddam to stay in place as a ruler. One of his privileges as supreme ruler of Iraq was the ability to censor all media video and script before it was to be broadcast or printed. When CBS, ABC, NBC, Reuters, AP, UPI, etc learned that they would have to submit all copy from their Iraq beaureau's to Saddam himself, they rightly opted to leave the country, citing journalistic integrity issues. They, of course, were used to an American way of looking at the news.

However, two American "journalist" firms allowed this relationship with the monster Saddam Hussein to exist. For 12 long years, the New York Times and CNN submitted all information coming out of their offices to Saddam before printing or airing. Any attempt to "uncover the truth" by these two organizations known as CNN and NYT should be met with high suspiscion from the beginning.

[Snopes continues] "This is a public school. We don't focus on religion," Hardi Priyono, deputy headmaster of the Basuki school, told Vause. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment."Vause reported he saw boys and girls dressed in neat school uniforms playing outside the school, while teachers were dressed in Western-style clothes.

Well, case closed, then! I mean, if the teachers were in slacks and Oxford shirts, there MUST be no story, here! Deep investigative methods at CNN allow them to conclude what's in a student's heart by watching them play at recess. I feel relieved! :-)

[Snopes quotes] "I came here to Barack Obama's elementary school in Jakarta looking for what some are calling an Islamic madrassa ... like the ones that teach hate and violence in Pakistan and Afghanistan," Vause said on the 'Situation Room.' "I've been to those madrassas in Pakistan ... this school is nothing like that."

Ok, we'll just take your unbiased word for it. Thanks for flying over there to Jakarta to clear this up for us.

[Snopes continues] "Vause also interviewed one of Obama's Basuki classmates, Bandug Winadijanto [real hardcore investigative journalism at work, here, to find someone who is probably all too happy to paint an innocent picture for the famous news agency], who claims that not a lot has changed at the school since the two men were pupils. Insight reported that Obama's political opponents believed the school promoted Wahhabism, a fundamentalist form of Islam, "and are seeking to prove it."
"It's not (an) Islamic school. It's general," Winadijanto said. "There is a lot of Christians, Buddhists, also Confucian. ... So that's a mixed school."

I regret to remind the weary reader that these same Western reporters never bother to parse denominations, seemingly mollifying the oppressive qualities of Islam here in this story, when they report on Christianity. We never hear about Eric Rudolph, who shot an abortion doctor, about which particular twisted, insane sect or version of the Bible he followed, but only that he was a "Christian activist".

[Snopes] "The Associated Press reported similarly [surprise]:A spokesman for Indonesia's Ministry of Religious Affairs said claims that Obama studied at an Islamic school are groundless."SDN Menteng 1 is a public primary school that is open to people of all faiths," said the spokesman, Sutopo, who goes by only one name." [One name, eh? How reassuring for a high official]

[Snopes] "Moreover, he studied earlier at Fransiskus Assisi, which is clearly a Catholic school."Obama later transferred to SDN Menteng 1 the elite, secular elementary school at the center of the controversy. The school is public but is very competitive and has exceptionally high standards. It is located in one of the most affluent parts of Jakarta and attracts mostly middle- to upper-class students, among them several of former dictator Suharto's grandchildren.Indonesia is home to several of the most radical Islamic schools in Southeast Asia, some with alleged terrorist links. But Akmad Solichin, the vice principal at SDN, who proudly pointed to a photo of a young Barry Obama, as he was known, said his school is not one of them.

No story here, just move on. Don't even think about tracing the lives of a wide sampling of past graduates from this school, or anything complicated like that.

[Snopes]"Moreover, [this press release] by the Obama campaign affirmed that." [Ah, I see. A politician's campaign website is to always be trusted.]

[Snopes] "In the past week, many of you have read a now thoroughly-debunked story by Insight Magazine, owned by the Washington Times, which cites unnamed sources close to a political campaign that claim Senator Obama was enrolled for "at least four years" in an Indonesian "Madrassa". The article says the "sources" believe the Madrassa was "espousing Wahhabism," a form of radical Islam.All of the claims about Senator Obama's faith and education raised in the Insight Magazine story and repeated on Fox News are false. Senator Obama was raised in a secular household in Indonesia by his stepfather and mother. Obama's stepfather worked for a U.S. oil company, and sent his stepson to two years of Catholic school, as well as two years of public school. To be clear [because we just want to pound it into your brain], Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago. Furthermore, the Indonesian school Obama attended in Jakarta is a public school that is not and never has been a Madrassa."

So quit asking, allright? It's not like this is a rumor about, say, a *gasp* Republican, who may have gone AWOL from a national gaurd drill weekend 30 years ago. No, that deserves the press' devotion and tireless search for the truth. CBS didn't stop in 2004 when the Bush campaign told them there was no proof of official accusation of going AWOL from his or any gaurd unit when he was serving his time for America. Dan Rather researched and dug DEEP to discover the document which "proved" the truth in that case.

Here, though, in 2008, in the case of Barrack Hussein Obama, campaign spokesmen carry a lot more weight, or water, as the Sham Master Vince might show us.

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