Friday, February 15, 2008

Setting a Few Matters Straight_ Why I'm for Hillary and not Obama. Part 3: Why I'm Not Sold on Obama.


Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. Obama, as I have pointed out in Part 2, is one of the good guys. However, if Hillary isn't the Devil, then Obama is not Jesus.

But he is closer to Dionysus, and he has his Maenads.

Apparently he has been Dionysus for a long time in Illinois. An April 3, 2007 New York Times article has this to say about Obama's fundraising skills:

Improbably, Mr. Obama, running as something of an outsider, wound up raising $15 million and winning that 2004 Senate race. Now that he is running for president, his fund-raising prowess has helped make him the chief rival to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York.

And later:

A look at his 2004 Senate race shows how he laid the foundation for his current fund-raising drive. Even as he cultivated an image as an unconventional candidate devoted to the people, not the establishment, he systematically built a sophisticated, and in many ways quite conventional, money machine.

The article goes on to say that Obama drew early support from Chicago's black professional class "using it as a springboard to other rainmakers within the broader party establishment."

His popularity increased soon after he gave his famous speech at the 2004 Democratic National Convention bigtime fundraising soon followed. According to the article, though Obama wrote that he felt uncomfortable early on asking for money, he learned how to cultivate donors the same way he cultivates voters on the campaign trail. Good for him. No one is impugning his integrity. I'm just proving that he puts his political pants on one leg at a time - like everyone else.

For instance the Times article states that for the 2004 Senate race, faced with a self-financed opponent, Obama's donors weren't above exploiting campaign financing loopholes like giving up to $12,000 per donor:

As a result, nearly half of the more than $5 million that Mr. Obama raised in the primary came from just 300 donors. In a stroke of luck, he had just enough money to pay for a television advertising blitz in the final weeks as Mr. Hull’s campaign crumbled amid accusations that he had abused a former wife.

Well, lucky Barack! He impresses people with his directness and intelligence and aw shucks modesty. And he does know how to sell himself during a campaign. According to the Times Obama has a hold so strong on Chicago that Hillary, who grew up in Chicago, didn't even think of having a fund-raiser there during the all important first quarter of '07.

After losing the Congressional race in 2000 against former Panther Bobby Rush, he had to pay back a $9,500 personal loan and questions from FEC. He had to lend his own campaign committee $11,100 more to get back refunds to donors who overdonated.

Yet no sooner than the two years it took to repay himself, he was back on the hustings. At first, donors demured, but soon Obama worked his boyish charm, and soon Obama's support increased so that even the Pritzker family, founders of the Hyatt Hotel chain.

The Bacchanalia continued as heretofore Clinton supporters like Jesse Jackson, David Geffen and Michael Froman of Citigroup went to Obama.

Now that the Obama charm may also be viewed as a sales technique as much as a characteristic, let us see how plausible Obama really is well he sells his message to the public at large.

Obama  on Iraq

When we listen to our politicians get all eloquent about their own positions and strident about those of their opponent's, we often do not hear the unsaid omissions, indicators that have all the volume and pitch of dog whistles to our uncomprehending ears.

Thank heavens we have a few bloodhounds, setters and pointers who make it their job to sniff out the unseen, and hear the unsaid. Folks like the ones at are very impartial in uncovering the innaccuracies and sins of omission committed by both Hillary AND Obama. In this article I won't get into Hillary's mistakes. There are plenty of people more than willing to do that job. I'm here to point out where Factcheck shows Barack is less than honest.

Here is an excerpt from Factcheck on January 3, 2008 called "Obama's Creative Clippings:"

• Obama's ad touting his health care plan quotes phrases from newspaper articles and an editorial, but makes them sound more laudatory and authoritative than they actually are. //
• It attributes to The Washington Post a line saying Obama's plan would save families about $2,500. But the Post was citing the estimate of the Obama campaign and didn't analyze the purported savings independently.

• It claims that "experts" say Obama's plan is "the best." "Experts" turn out to be editorial writers at the Iowa City Press-Citizen – who, for all their talents, aren't actual experts in the field.

• It quotes yet another newspaper saying Obama's plan "guarantees coverage for all Americans," neglecting to mention that, as the article makes clear, it's only Clinton's and Edwards' plans that would require coverage for everyone, while Obama's would allow individuals to buy in if they wanted to.

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama's ad on his health care plan has been running in Iowa. A hat-tip to The Washington Post for first revealing some of the twists in this 30-second spot.

Obama Writes His Own Reviews

The ad flashes a line credited to The Washington Post that says the Illlinois senator's health care plan would cut costs, "saving $2,500 for the typical family." But the Post didn't say that; the Obama campaign did, and the Post reported it as the campaign's estimate. The fuller citation from the May 30, 2007, article reads:

Washington Post:The senator's aides estimated that his plan would save the average family $2,500 per year and would allow those without insurance to buy it through a new health-care option that would resemble the one federal employees can choose.

Obama Strengthens His Own Reviews

The ad also says that "experts" called Obama's health care plan "the best," words that are attributed to the Iowa City Press-Citizen. We found the citation in an editorial from Dec. 19, 2007. With all due respect to the paper's editorial writers, they aren't "experts" in the same sense as, say, full-time health care researchers at think tanks or university professors who teach the subject. Editorial writers are paid to give their opinions, and in this case no actual experts were quoted.

But that wasn't the only time that Obama warranted special attention from Factcheck. Enter Obama's Creative Clippings Part Deux

On January 17, Factcheck again found it necessary to correct a new ad run by the Obama team, saying "The ad may be new, but we've seen this tactic, from this candidate, before:"

This is the second time in as many weeks that we've written about Democratic candidate Barack Obama's misleading use of quotes pulled from newspapers. This ad is running in Nevada in advance of Saturday's caucus.

Obama for America Ad: "President"
Obama: I'm Barack Obama and I approve this message.

Obama: I'll be a president who finally makes health care affordable to every single American by bringing Democrats and Republicans together. I'll be a president who ends the tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas and put a middle class tax cut into the pockets of working Americans. And I'll be a president who ends this war in Iraq and finally brings our troops home. We are one nation and our time for change has come.

Universally Wrong About
Health Care Plan

The ad flashes the quote "Obama offers universal health care plan." That was a headline on a May 29, 2007, Associated Press story.

Correction, Jan. 17: We originally reported that the AP story didn’t include the quote used in the ad. We were looking at the final version sent on the AP wire that day. But the Obama campaign contacted us to point out, correctly, that an earlier version of that story included those words as a headline.

However, the story merely reported that Obama said he would sign a universal health care plan. The article goes on to cast doubt on the universality of his own plan:

AP: Obama's first promise as a presidential candidate was that he would sign a universal health care plan into law by the end of his first term in the White House. But there is some dispute over whether his plan would provide universal care. It's aimed at lowering costs so all Americans can afford insurance, but does not guarantee everyone would buy it.

It's an important distinction we've raised a few times. Obama's plan wouldn't guarantee that every individual had health insurance, just that everyone would have the opportunity to obtain it. The AP story also includes a quote from a representative of Families USA, a liberal group that pushes for expanded government health coverage, who says, "It's not totally clear that it would result in universal coverage." The ad even shows video of Obama using more accurate language when he says he wants to make "health care affordable."

But is that the most questionable creative editing on the part of Obama's handlers? No.

Obama's ad makes a big thing about being the first to oppose the war in Iraq. Once again it quotes AP when it says "Obama opposed the war from the start." But just as Factcheck points out AP does say this:

Nobody can dispute that Barack Obama opposed the Iraq war from the start and, with striking prescience, predicted U.S. troops would be mired in a costly conflict that fanned "the flames of the Middle East."

But nobody should accept at face value the Illinois senator's claim that he was a "courageous leader" who opposed the war at great political risk.

The truth is that while Obama showed foreign policy savvy and an ability to keenly analyze both sides of an issue in his October 2002 warnings on Iraq, the political upside of his position rivaled any risk.

And, once elected to the U.S. Senate two years later, Obama waited months to show national leadership on Iraq.

I could have used Factcheck's version of the quote, but they do make the originals accessible, so I went straight to the horse's mouth, read the article, and found a few more paragraphs Obama's ad omitted:

Courageous or calculating? These are the facts:

In 2004, while getting ready for his star-making address to the Democratic National Convention, Obama gave presidential nominee John Kerry and other leading Democrats a pass for backing Bush on Iraq.

Noting he was not privy to intelligence reports shown to Kerry and others, Obama told The New York Times, "What would I have done? I don't know."

Once elected, Obama didn't force the issue in the Senate. His first floor speech encouraged Democrats to drop challenges to the 2004 presidential election "at a time when we try to make certain we encourage democracy in Iraq."

His first major address on Iraq came in November 2005, when he said U.S. forces remained "part of a solution."

And even Factcheck missed this one:

Seven months later, he was voting in step with Clinton for a middle-of-the-road approach. On June 22, 2006, they both backed a nonbinding resolution to pull troops out of Iraq.
More meaningfully, they also rejected a bill backed by the force of law that would have required the troops to come home by a date certain.

Interesting that Obama's ad should fail to mention that part of AP's article.

And I suppose Obama's people also found it inconvenient to mention the article states that in his run for Senate nomination his opponents were also against the war.

A lot of footage on the cutting room floor.

A look at their advertising is one thing, but a look at their money trail offers more interesting examples of Obama's disingenuousness.

Once again I'll leave it too others to expose Hillary's bundlers. They are there at Public Citizen's White House For Sale site You'll find them right next to Obama's bundlers.

So let me just give you a small list of Obama's more interesting. Obama says he won't play any games, but some of his donors are players:

David Geffen


Dreamworks SKG

Amount Raised.
Bundler for Barack Obama, raised at least $50,000.00


Name Disclosed by Candidate

Mark D. Gilbert


Lehman Brothers

Bundler for Barack Obama, raised more than $200,000.00


Name Disclosed by Candidate

David Heller


Goldman Sachs

Bundler for Barack Obama, raised more than $100,000.00


Name Disclosed by Candidate

All I set out to point out is that:

• Hillary is NOT the Devil

• There is really very little daylight between both candidate's views

• Obama's "politics of hope" is at best unattainable, and since he's really still playing the game, how much does he really believe in it?

The man still puts his pants on one leg at a time, like the rest of us.

Here are a few graphics from that illustrate my point:






Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Setting a Few Matters Straight: Why I'm for Hillary and not Obama. Part 2.

clinton - Obama

In my previous post, I enumerated the various reasons why I feel that Hillary is not the ogre that most people feel that she is, and why she's presidential timber. The trouble is, can honestly say the same for Obama? I don't know. The trouble with that is, now is not the time for an Obama learning curve. How much do we really know about him?
For the past 7 years this country has been brutalised by an idiot who has brought us war, threatened our civil liberties, abused our economy, and destroyed our reputation around the world. His reign was the culmination of a way of thinking that has been entrenched among Conservatives for the past 30 years. It is a way of thinking that threatens our future socially, economically. And ecologically, the survival of the human race. We need someone at the helm that we can rely on to fight that entrenchment. Someone who is vastly experienced in fighting Right Wing onslaughts. I don't think the politics of "coming together" is going to work on the likes of John O'Neill's Swift Boaters, Karl Rove, or Fox News. Already Obama has to contend with false rumors concerning his religion, and his upbringing. And now, the Rezko business will come up.

But what is at the core of my objections to an Obama candidacy? Not only do I find myself questioning the feasibility of his "new style" of politics, but I question whether he can possibly pursue it given today's circumstances.

• His positions are really not that different from Hillary's.

• He strives to set himself apart from most politicians yet his very history suggests otherwise.

• In particular, his relationship with Antoin Rezko calls into to question his judgement of character. Not only that, but his very criteria on what constitutes a friend can be questioned. Is a friend someone you like and trust, or is a friend merely someone who is "usefull" to you?

On the issues, Clinton and Obama differ only on. the details. According to

In a 2004 fundraising speech in San Francisco, she was highly critical of George W. Bush's tax cuts, saying that "Many of you are well enough off that ... the tax cuts may have helped you. We're saying that for America to get back on track, we're probably going to cut that short and not give it to you. We're going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good."[2] Clinton has sponsored legislation designed to reduce the deficit by reinstating some taxes that had been cut. She has co-sponsored legislation related to debt and deficit reduction. On the other hand, she has advocated for federal spending that advocates of less government spending deem nonessential, such as funding a museum commemorating the Woodstock Music Festival.[3]

Obama's stand two years later wasn't that much different:

Obama spoke out in June 2006 against making recent, temporary estate tax cuts permanent, calling the cuts a "Paris Hilton" tax break for "billionaire heirs and heiresses."[18] Speaking in November 2006 to members of Wake Up Wal-Mart, a union-backed campaign group, Obama said: "You gotta pay your workers enough that they can actually not only shop at Wal-Mart, but ultimately send their kids to college and save for retirement."[19] Obama has also proposed his own tax plan, including $80 billion in tax cuts for the poor and middle class.[20]

On health care the only difference between the two front runners is how they define "universal.":

In September 2007, as part of her presidential campaign, Clinton revealed her new American Health Choices Plan, an "individual mandate" universal health care plan that would require health care coverage for all individuals. Clinton explained individuals can keep their current employer-based coverage, or choose an expanded version of Medicare or federal employee health plans.[18][19] The projected cost of the plan is $110 billion annually and will require all employers to cover their employees' health insurance or contribute to the costs of their employees' health insurance coverage; tax credits will be provided to companies with fewer than 25 employees to help cover costs.[18][20]

And Obama said:

On January 24, 2007 Obama spoke about his position on health care at Families USA, a health care advocacy group. Obama said, "The time has come for universal health care in America [...] I am absolutely determined that by the end of the first term of the next president, we should have universal health care in this country." Obama went on to say that he believed that it was wrong that forty-seven million Americans are uninsured, noting that taxpayers already pay over $15 billion annually to care for the uninsured.[15] Obama cites cost as the reason so many Americans are without health insurance, and claims his health care plan would cut the cost of insurance more than any of his Democratic rivals' plans in the 2008 Presidential race. [16]

The list goes on and on. In foreign policy, both Hillary and Obama favor a tough approach to terrorism with Obama assuring people he will escalate the war against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. He would even go into Pakistan despite warnings that such a move could further destabilize the situation.

On the Arab-Israeli situation, both candidates meet at the center from different viewpoints agreeing that the Palestinian leadership must be more responsible. Obama wants more dialogue with the Arabs while Hillary is still in favor of the wall, and concentrates more on Israel's security.

According to Associated Press:

When asked who the United States' top allies are, Senator Barack Obama said the European Union and Japan, but failed to mention Israel.

The debate moderator NBC News anchor Brian Williams interrupted Obama, drawing his attention to the omission and quoting Obama as having once said, "No one suffers more than the Palestinians."

Obama, unperplexed, explained that the Palestinians suffer because of their leadership. "I said that no one suffers more than the Palestinian people because of their leadership's failure to recognize Israel, denounce violence and be serious about peace negotiations and regional security," he said.

"Israel is one of our most important allies in the world. It is the only democracy in the Middle East," Obama added. He even noted that if he was elected, he intended to increase American involvement in the region.

But Obama comes to this point of view from the standpoint that we must have a dialogue with the Palestinians. According to AP at the National Jewish Democratic Council this was his (highly commendable) position:

Obama said while he was committed to protecting Israel’s security, he would also reach out to Arab leaders who were committed to recognizing Israel and renouncing violence.

And according to Wikipedia Obama is no friend of terrorism:

Obama  on Iraq 21

Referring to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in January 2006, Obama denounced Hamas while praising former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. At a meeting with then Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom on the eve of Hamas' sweeping election victory,[33] Obama stated that Sharon's role in the conflict had always been "absolutely important and constructive."[34] At a meeting with Palestinian students two days later, Obama stated opposition to Hamas in favor of rival party Fatah, noting his desire to "consolidate behind a single government with a single authority that can then negotiate as a reliable partner with Israel." In a comment aimed at Hamas, he said that "the US will always side with Israel if Israel is threatened with destruction."[35]

On Iran there is considerably less daylight between Clinton and Obama. While Hillary accuses Iran of having a nuclear weapons program, and supports UN sanctions against Iran, she believes that diplomacy is necessary, and has criticized Dubya for refusing to talk to the mullahs.

And while Obama is all for talking to Iran, and has criticized Hillary for voting to declare the Quds Force a terrorist organization, he wants all military options on the table.

On the issue of Iraq, again there are only a few variations on the same stance. Let us dispense with the fact that Hillary voted to give authorization for the war. I had already touched on her reasons for that vote in Part 1 of this series. However, she did charge Dubya with rushing to war, and pulling the rug out from under the UN inspectors, and came out for an international solution to the problem. However, to quote from Wikipedia:

On June 15, 2006, Clinton charged that President Bush “rushed to war” and “refused to let the UN inspectors conduct and complete their mission ... We need to be building alliances instead of isolation around the world ... There must be a plan that will begin to bring our troops home.” But she also said, “I do not think it is a smart strategy either for the president to continue with his open-ended commitment which I think does not put enough pressure on the Iraqi government, nor do I think it is a smart policy to set a date certain.”[63][64]

Hillary voted for the USA PATRIOT ACT in 2001, but helped to filibuster the bill for its renewal when enough money wasn't apportioned to New York for anti-terrorism efforts. She also stood up for some of the civil liberties concerns with it. She voted in favor of the compromise bill.

FISA and warrantless wiretapping were a different matter though:

Regarding the December 2005 NSA warrantless surveillance controversy, Clinton stated that she was 'troubled' by President Bush's 2002 actions. In a statement, she said: 'The balance between the urgent goal of combating terrorism and the safeguarding of our most fundamental constitutional freedoms is not always an easy one to draw. However, they are not incompatible, and unbridled and unchecked executive power is not the answer.'[83]

Clinton didn't take the American Freedom to stop the military commissions, end torture, or restore habeas corpus, but then as President, she can end the former and sign into law the other.

Obama wants to restore American prestige all over the world:

Obama is also right that resetting the world's view of the U.S. begins with making our government more transparent. As a senator, he's worked to visibly link members of Congress to their roads to nowhere and to their Iowan rain forests. As president, he will hold large-scale, open discussions on the issues facing Americans in the 21st century: health care, climate change, comprehensive immigration reform, border security, tax policy, education and economic development.

Both Hillary and Obama take a rather tortured path concerning same sex couples. Obama...

• Voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment

• And yet, he believes that marriage is between a man and a woman.

• Supports civil union that carries legal standing equal to marriage, but believes that the appellation of marriage should be left up to the states.
• Feels that homosexuality is not immoral.

To confuse things all the more, for the all-important South Carolina primary, Obama invited anti-gay people like Reverend Donnie McClurkin, Mary Mary and Hezekiah Walker to his 3 day "Embrace the Courage" campaign tour. After a whole lot criticism, he added openly gay pastor Andy Sidden.

Hillary has an equal amount of 'splaining to do Lucy:

Senator Clinton expressed her opposition to same-sex marriage while affirming her support for some form of civil unions for homosexual couples: 'I think that the vast majority of Americans find [same-sex marriage] to be something they can't agree with. But I think most Americans are fair. And if they believe that people in committed relationships want to share their lives and, not only that, have the same rights that I do in my marriage, to decide who I want to inherit my property or visit me in a hospital, I think that most Americans would think that that's fair and that should be done."'[115]

And yet:

• She opposed the Federal Marriage Amendment like Obama.

• She admitted the military's "Don't ask, don't tell" was a failure and that gays should be allowed to serve openly.

Lastly the environment. Hillary wants:

• energy conservation

• to release oil reserves

• no drilling in ANWR

• to ratify the Kyoto Protocol

• a Strategic Energy Fund to put $ 50 billion into R&D and deployment of renewable energy, clean coal, ethanol, and homegrown biofuels.

I think Wikipedia says everything I'd say for Obama's views on environment:

Obama has taken the stance that global warming is human-caused, and that it must be addressed. He has a record of supporting environmentally friendly bills.

The issue of climate change is one that we ignore at our own peril. There may still be disputes about exactly how much is naturally occurring, but what we can be scientifically certain of is that our continued use of fossil fuels is pushing us to a point of no return. And unless we free ourselves from a dependence on these fossil fuels and chart a new course on energy in this country, we are condemning future generations to global catastrophe.[64]

He has pledged to cut greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 by creating a market-based cap-and-trade system.[65] Obama also has plans for improving air and water quality through reduced pollution levels.[citation needed]

And so, there doesn't seem to be much daylight between Hillary and Obama's positions.

And yet, Obama says he won't "play the Washington game." We'll see.

In Part 3 of this series, I shall examine the feasibility of the "politics of hope," and whether Obama is sincere or a fool.