September 11, 2008
On Monday, Senator Obama uttered one sentence that could haunt him until Election Day. He said of Senator McCain and Governor Palin telling voters they would bring change, "they must think you're stupid." Given his stances on the surge, social issues, and his past, Mr. Obama will regret those words.
Let's start with social issues like Second Amendment freedoms. Mr. Obama denies that he's ever supported banning handguns, right after the landmark Heller case where the Supreme Court struck down Washington D.C.'s handgun ban.
When a 1996 questionnaire surfaced that had asked if Mr. Obama supported banning all handguns, his one-word written answer was "yes." He said an unnamed staffer must have filled it out without his knowledge. Then another copy surfaced -- this one with his handwriting on it. He says he must not have read that particular question. Sure.
On the hot-button issue of abortion, last month saw a growing concern over Mr. Obama's opposition to the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act, which states if an abortion is botched and a live birth results, the baby is entitled to medical care. The federal version of this law unanimously passed the U.S. Senate.
However, when a version of this bill came to the Illinois Senate, Mr. Obama opposed it. When confronted last month with the fact that the federal version of this bill had been supported by the likes of Ted Kennedy and Barbara Boxer, Mr. Obama said the he would have supported the federal version. Those suggesting otherwise were lying, he said. Then it was revealed that a second bill was introduced in the Illinois Senate, and this one was identical to the federal version. Mr. Obama opposed that bill as well. He has yet to come up with an explanation on that one.
And there are Mr. Obama's associations. Let's start with the infamous Reverend Jeremiah Wright. Mr. Obama expressed shock that Rev. Wright would say things like "God damn America" and say the American government created AIDS to commit genocide against black people. Yet he belonged to that church for 20 years. He was married by Rev. Wright, had his children baptized by him, and even took his book title from one of the good reverend's sermons.
When Rev. Wright's outrageous diatribes surfaced, Mr. Obama refused to renounce him. Then when Rev. Wright repeated the same statements at the National Press Club, and Mr. Obama had clinched the nomination, suddenly he denounced him. Why? He said Rev. Wright's statements in D.C. were unlike anything he had heard before and he was shocked. But those statements had been in the news for months. Are we to believe that Mr. Obama had not read or heard any of the news for weeks? Or that he never heard anything similar in more than 20-years of listening to Rev. Wright's sermons? Hmm.
Bill Ayers is another stunner. Mr. Ayers bombed a police station and the Pentagon, and recently said he wished he had done more. He is an unrepentant terrorist, but is popular among the ultra-left in Chicago. When Mr. Obama was asked about Mr. Ayers, he implied that he barely knew him.
But once again facts have surfaced. We now know that Mr. Ayers hosted a fundraiser for Mr. Obama. They served for years together on a board with only a few people, and they worked closely on financial matters during those years. Does that sound like someone he barely knows?
And then we have the Iraq war. Congress authorized war against Iraq in 2002. The vote in the Democrat-controlled U.S. Senate was an overwhelming bipartisan majority of 77-23. The intelligence provided to Congress was profoundly flawed, but based on the intelligence presented, Congress voted for war. That is why those voting for the war included John Kerry, John Edwards, Hillary Clinton,and -- yes -- Joe Biden.
Yet Mr. Obama, who was in the Illinois Senate at the time and thus had no vote, opposed the war. He says that this shows his superior judgment, and that those voting for the war, like John McCain, lack the judgment to be president. But his vice presidential pick Joe Biden voted for the war, and Mr. Obama says Mr. Biden has the judgment to be president. How do you reconcile that?
And finally we have the surge. Mr. Obama opposed it, saying it was doomed to fail. Yet the troop surge has succeeded brilliantly, and all but the most dedicated diehards admit it. Now Mr. Obama acknowledges that it succeeded, but does not admit his predictions of failure were wrong. How were they not wrong?
These actions have made a pattern. Mr. Obama has changed his position on numerous occasions, cannot explain why he has done so, and yet his campaign expects us to believe that he never changed his mind on any of those issues.
He must think we're stupid.
Mr. Blackwell is a senior fellow at the Family Research Council, the American Civil Rights Union and the Buckeye Institute in Ohio.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/11/2008 01:11:00 PM
GOP bandwagon runs on 'Palin Power': Congressional races look to cash in on money, volunteer jump By Stephen Dinan
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
'PALIN POWER': Sarah Palin's supporters brandish signs of the Alaska governor as feminist icon Rosie the Riveter while waiting to see Mrs. Palin and Sen. John McCain on Tuesday at a rally at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa. (Associated Press)
Call them skirttails — volunteer numbers have skyrocketed, fundraising has picked up and even the polling shows closer races in some down-ticket congressional contests as Republicans say the effects of "Palin Power" are being felt across the country.
After Republican presidential candidate John McCain tapped Sarah Palin nearly two weeks ago to be his running mate, the requests started rolling in for her to campaign with House and Senate candidates, and they haven't stopped yet. In the meantime, the number of Republicans looking to volunteer for the party's national victory effort jumped 500 percent that first weekend, and congressional candidates say they've seen the enthusiasm bleed all the way down to their level.
"Our campaign phones are ringing off the hook, and we're getting a lot more calls, a lot more e-mails with volunteers, [saying], 'How can we see Sarah Palin? How can we get her to Virginia?'" said Rep. Eric Cantor, Virginia Republican, who is running for re-election. "Any doubts about where the Republican base is going to be have been erased."
Even with scrutiny of Mrs. Palin reaching saturation levels in the national press, Republicans can't get enough of her — and are showing their support in donations, manpower and other measures of enthusiasm.
Rep. Tom Cole, chairman of the National Republican Congressional Committee, told his House colleagues in a closed-door meeting Tuesday that their online fundraising neared $250,000 during convention week, and the Republican Senate committee reported a jump from telemarketing — from about $20,000 on a typical weekend to $54,000 the weekend that Mrs. Palin was selected.
"She is a game-changer for the presidential. We believe she's a game-changer for all of our Senate races," said Rebecca Fisher, a spokeswoman for the Republican Senatorial Campaign Committee, who said the requests for Mrs. Palin to campaign with Senate candidates are rolling in.
"We've gotten a lot of requests," Mrs. Fisher said. "They're saying, 'We would love to have her in our state to help.'"
Political scientists have long debated coattails, the theory that a presidential candidate's popularity can help pull House and Senate members into office along with the top of the ticket. Now they will have to add vice-presidential candidates to the question.
Democrats, though, say they're seeing the beginnings of reverse-tails.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama's campaign reported an anti-Palin fundraising surge of $10 million raised in the 23 hours between the time she finished her speech to the Republican National Convention and the next night, when Mr. McCain spoke.
Speaking in Riverside, Ohio, on Tuesday, Mr. Obama said Mrs. Palin has certainly gotten attention.
"She has been on the minds of all of you, and as a consequence has been before the American people constantly for the last week and has brought excitement to the Republican Party. There's no doubt about that," he told reporters, adding that her real test is still to come. "I think that what we're going to have to do is to see how things settle out over the next few weeks, when people start examining, who's actually going to deliver on the issues that people care about?"
A Democratic official, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee raised more than $600,000 during the week of the Democrats' convention and raised nearly $300,000 during Republicans' convention — both more than what the NRCC was able to raise during the Palin surge.
That official and others said Mrs. Palin could actually hurt Republicans running in some districts, particularly in suburban areas where Democrats say her pro-life stance and other positions may be at odds with the independent and suburban female voters whom both campaigns are targeting.
In one recent instance, a group of 75 women wrote a letter to Rep. Mark Steven Kirk, Illinois Republican, saying his praise of Mrs. Palin would hurt him.
"To the women of the 10th District, there is nothing encouraging about Palin's extreme political views, including her opposition to a woman's right to choose even in the cases of incest and rape, equal pay for equal work, and gun control. Nor is her support for abstinence-only sex education, teaching creationism in our schools and banning books from our public libraries," the women wrote in their letter, though some of their claims such as book banning have been discredited by political fact-checking organizations.
For now, there are more questions than answers about Mrs. Palin's effect on the fate of Republicans in specific down-ticket races.
This week, several new polls showed Senate races closer than they used to be. In at least one of those contests — in Alaska, where Sen. Ted Stevens, a Republican, is facing a bruising re-election battle — Mrs. Palin is being given credit.
Mr. Stevens has closed a more than 15-point gap to enter into a statistical tie with his Democratic challenger, Mark Begich, and in a polling memo, his campaign said that's partly because enthusiasm after Mrs. Palin's selection "has gone through the roof."
But Matthew Miller, a spokesman for the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, said that race also exposes the problems for Mrs. Palin. Mr. Stevens faces trial on federal charges of not reporting gifts he received, and Mrs. Palin has not yet said whether she backs Mr. Stevens' bid for re-election.
There's not much question Republicans see Mrs. Palin's popularity as nothing but positive, and they are rushing to try to transfer some of it to themselves.
On the NRCC's Web site, www.nrcc.org, on Tuesday, the rotating splash photos on the main page included one of Mrs. Palin, but Mr. McCain was nowhere to be seen.
And they say the shot of enthusiasm extends up and down the line.
When coupled with House Republicans' monthlong demonstration in August occupying the floor of the adjourned House chamber, Mr. Cantor said Mrs. Palin's selection has House Republicans sky-high.
"We have not had a string of weeks of positive momentum like this in years. Maybe it's not all due to her, but she has been a real motivating force," Mr. Cantor said.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/11/2008 11:09:00 AM
September 10th, 2008
The sudden polling surge, representing as much as a 17 point bump, for John McCain has exposed the shady underbelly of the Obama Campaign. Senator Obama did not rise to power as a change candidate; he has never won an election in which his opponent has not suffered being personally destroyed and forced from the race; and it seems in the past two weeks that Obama is returning to his Chicago Political Machine roots.
Let me take you back to Senator Obama's first campaign, for the State Senate in Illinois. Obama was approached by then State Senator, Alice Palmer, a popular incumbent who had decided to run for Congress. Palmer approached Obama and encouraged him to run in her stead if she were to win. But Palmer didn't win her Federal Election bid and asked Obama to withdraw to allow her to retain her State Senate Position. According to Ricky Hendon, an Illinois State Senator, in an interview with CNN, "There's no way Barack could have beat Alice Palmer in that seat. It just wasn't going to happen. Alice was extremely popular." Obama, knowing that he could not win a battle against the Palmer turned to his friends and fellow attorneys for help. Obama and his attorneys noticed that the required petitions that Palmers campaign were sloppily completed. He challenged the petitions, won the challenge and Palmer was removed from the ballot. According to Hendon, "the people who she had depended on to do her petitions really did not do a good job." As Suzanne Malveaux would report, successfully challenging her signatures, Obama knocked Alice Palmer, a revered political figure, off the ballot, as well as all three other candidates. While Obama's campaign today promotes him as a different kind of politician, back then he was an avid student of Chicago-style politics." Four Politicians eliminated not by debate, not by the issues, but by political assassination.
Obama soon found out that the Illinois State Senate brought neither fame nor glory, and after an unsuccessful attempt at taking on a senior party member for his US House Seat, he turned back to his self-admitted mentor Emil Jones. Jones, upon hearing that Illinois Senator Peter Fitzgerald would not run for re-election, bragged to colleagues that he "was going to make himself a Senator" in Barack Obama. But Obama had a problem; he was unknown around the state and south of I-80 Illinois voted Republican. Jones, as President of the Senate used his political power to pressure fellow legislators to add Obama's name to hundreds of bills. According to Hendon, "He owes it all. He owes everything to President Jones." Malveaux would add during her Obama revealed special, "With help from on high, Obama got his name on hundreds of bills that he pushed through." Obama now had name recognition.
In his Senatorial run, Obama faced an extremely popular Democrat and Billionaire, Blair Hall, who led Obama nearly 2 to 1 in poll after poll. But something happened just prior to the primaries, SEALED Divorce Documents suddenly showed up at the footsteps of Chicago News Agencies. The divorce documents detailed allegations against Hall that he had physically abused his wife. Hall withdrew from the race and Obama, facing 7 other unknown and unfunded candidates walked away with the primary. Obama would now face off against a popular downstate Republican, Jack Ryan, in the November election.
Obama's ability to push Hall out of the race was bittersweet and the joy of his un-Democratic primary victory was short-lived. Obama would now find himself down by up to 18 points against his Republican rival. But once again, in the summer heat, reporters around Chicago would wake up to find previously SEALED Divorce Documents on the doorsteps. This time, the divorce documents of Ryan would uncover testimony that he and his ex-wife had frequently visited strip-clubs prior their divorce. Ryan, shocked and humiliated, would withdraw from the race. As of the announcement on July 15, 2004 that Obama would be the keynote speaker at the Democratic Convention, he had no opponent for the November Election.
Obama would eventually face competition in November. The Republican Party, reeling from a corrupt governor and embarrassed could not find any viable candidate willing to run for office. By August they had written off the election until an out-of-state Republican, Alan Keyes, offered to move to Illinois and run. Keyes campaign was a joke, primarily because he didn't even live in Illinois at the time. As a result, Obama trounced Keyes, hell, even I voted for him, but I felt bad leaving the ballot blank (by the way, I've regretted that vote every day since).
The moral of the story is simple; Obama has never faced a real candidate; or at least one who he couldn't push off the ballot. The Republican Party inadvertently nominated the best potential candidate to take on Obama. Despite their best efforts, the Obama campaign is finding out how hard it is too take on a candidate whose dirty laundry, even the little bit that McCain has, is already on the table. They have found it impossible to push McCain out and the best attempt at scandal they have uncovered is the nearly 25 year old Keating Five. To be honest, prior to this election, I didn't even know what the Keating Five was; I was too young, and most people I have talked too who are old enough to remember, have no clue either. It's almost embarrassing that Obama, the product of the Chicago Political Machine, can only uncover a 25 year old scandal that involved more Democrats than it did Republicans. The Keating 5 was a scandal, in which McCain was overwhelmingly exonerated and considered to have provided the key testimony in the case.
Palin was a blessing because the boost that her nomination has given McCain has forced Obama to show his true colors. He is no longer the candidate that transcends the politics of division and distraction; he is no longer the candidate who rises above partisanship; he is no longer the candidate who decried Hillary Clinton as too polarizing a figure. Obama says that we need to focus on issues, but on the campaign trail he can't overcome the 5 2 year old "Bridge to Nowhere' debate. Obama says we should focus on issues all the while sending a team of 30 investigators to Anchorage to sift through every detail of Sarah Palin's life; desperately hoping to uncover some sort of scandal. Obama has returned to his true self, a Power-Hungry product of the Chicago Political Machine, who will seek victory at any expense and will seek to politically and personally destroy his competition.
He will tell the press that there is no room for personal attacks on any candidate, but will do nothing to silence his supporters spreading hate and false rumors on his own websites blog. He will attack John McCain for "distorting his record", while premeditatedly injecting "pig in lipstick" remarks into stump speeches just days after Palin's infamous Hockey Mom remark.
The attacks on Palin are not over, and as pressure mounts the attacks will become more vicious, more pointed and will target her and her family. These are the politics Obama knows; just ask Alice Palmer, Bill Hall or Jack Ryan. So I will say it again: Obama has returned to his true self, a Power-Hungry product of the Chicago Political Machine, who will seek victory at any expense and will seek to politically and personally destroy his competition.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/11/2008 10:51:00 AM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election '08: Back when he led the polls, Barack Obama gallantly promised a new, post-partisan politics. Now his lead is gone, and he's getting personal about Sarah Palin. However he justifies it, he's starting to look small.
Read More: Election 2008
Ever since the governor of Alaska joined the Republican ticket, Team Obama has been at a loss about how to take her on. For a while, they just called Gov. Palin the "mayor of Wasilla" and "lieutenant governor" of the state. But now they've turned to far worse code words in a bid to psychologically demean her.
On Tuesday in Virginia, Obama himself sank to levels not even plumbed by Joe Biden. He basically called the GOP's vice presidential contender a stinking fish and a pig, all to the knowing cheers of his audience.
"You can put lipstick on a pig," he told his crowd. "It's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still gonna stink. We've had enough of the same old thing."
But rest assured, Obama said when questioned later, the statement was "innocent."
We're not so sure. In light of Palin's reference to pit bulls and lipstick in her convention speech last week, and her nickname of Barracuda, Obama's remark looked like a bid to psychologically bully her with an arpeggio of trash talk.
It also wasn't spontaneous. Obama's remarks leading into the lipstick comment appeared to be lifted from a Sept. 5 political cartoon by the Washington Post's Tom Toles. Confidently delivered, Obama's lines were all memorized.
The hostility of it all echoes politician George Allen's exasperated identification of an Indian-American filmmaker who was stalking him as "macaca," a patronizing remark that sank his campaign. It's made worse because claims of sexism against Obama from disgruntled Hillary Clinton Democrats are already a live issue.
It was hip and modern Obama, not crotchety old John McCain, who called a female reporter "sweetie" on the campaign trail, noting in his apology that it was a bad habit.
Meanwhile, feminist columnist Tammy Bruce wrote recently that Obama just didn't compare Hillary Clinton to actress Glenn Close in "Fatal Attraction." He actually said: "I understand that Sen. Clinton, periodically when she's feeling down, launches attacks as a way of trying to boost her appeal." He effectively reduced her strong electoral challenge to premenstrual syndrome.
Obama then refused to even consider Clinton as his running mate, despite the votes she'd bring. It infuriated many female voters.
The mate he did pick, Joe Biden, has shown at least as much befuddlement. After solicitously complimenting Palin on her looks, he called Palin the "lieutenant governor" of Alaska.
Obama himself has condescendingly referred to Palin's motherhood to deflect voter attention from her successful role as governor. "She hasn't been on the scene, you know, she's got five kids and my hat goes off to anybody who's looking after five. I've got two and they tire Michelle and me out," he smarmed.
His supporters in the left-wing blogosphere reflected the tone Obama had set, obsessively Googling for Palin bikini pictures, and photoshopping their own when they couldn't find any.
Why would someone like Obama, presumably from the "enlightened" liberal branch of the Democratic Party, stoop to such apparent misogyny in lieu of confronting Palin as a political opponent?
It's not merely that she's got a stellar record as governor that eclipses his record by comparison, but perhaps the crude identity politics of the Democratic platform as well.
Democrats don't see voters as individuals, but as special interest groups. They pigeonhole them into narrow agendas and identities, and anyone who dares to stand outside that is considered a nonperson. They can be degraded.
In Denver, the main spoil Democrats offered to women was abortion on demand, not party power. No small wonder, then, that a Democrat leader Wednesday said McCain chose Palin, "whose primary qualification seems to be that she hasn't had an abortion."
Governor of Alaska, our biggest energy state? A reformer who took on her own party? Initiator of the world's largest construction project in the $40 billion trans-Canada natural gas pipeline? National Guard chief in our most strategic state?
These are real achievements. Democrats could challenge them, but they have little to offer instead.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/11/2008 08:46:00 AM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Wednesday, September 10, 2008 4:20 PM PT
The Anniversary: Eight days after terrorism declared war on America, a young state senator blamed it on "a failure of empathy" yet another reason why Barack Obama should never be commander in chief.
The July 20 issue of the New Yorker magazine got a lot of attention for its cover, which carried a "satirical" cartoon depicting Michelle and Barack Obama that Obama supporters found tasteless and offensive. Buried inside that issue's feature story, however, was a reaction by Obama to 9/11 that all voters should find even more tasteless and offensive.
The article reprised a piece published in Chicago's Hyde Park Herald on Sept. 19, 2001, and written by a then-unknown and otherwise undistinguished state senator from Illinois. The senator, a former community organizer, wrote that after tightening security at our airports and repairing our intelligence networks, we "must also engage . . . in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness."
According to Barack Obama, the madness that drove terrorists to turn passenger jets into manned cruise missiles aimed at our centers of finance, government and military power "grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair."
As if the answer to the attacks should have been food stamps for al-Qaida.
Sen. Obama advised caution and warned of overreacting. "We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad," he wrote. "We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent."
We should also be just as concerned, he felt, with American anger and bigotry as we were about al-Qaida.
In an opinion piece in Commentary magazine, writer Abe Greenwald commented on Obama's belief that the 9/11 attacks were rooted in poverty and despair. "Strange," he called it, "considering our attackers were wealthy and educated, connected and ecstatic."
As Greenwald put it, Obama "could have asked (terrorist and colleague) Bill Ayers, 'Bill, did your 'failure of empathy' stem from your impoverished upbringing as the son of the CEO of Commonwealth Edison?" Did poverty and despair also cause the Weather Underground member and host of Obama's first fundraiser to bomb government buildings?
Fact is, the roster of terrorists and their handlers reads like a list of of Ivy Leaguers:
Osama bin Laden, the son of a Saudi billionaire, studied engineering. Khalid Sheik Mohammed, architect of 9/11 and other major attacks, has a degree in mechanical engineering. Mohammed Atta, who flew a jet into the World Trade Center, is the son of a lawyer and earned a master's degree in urban planning at Hamburg University. Ayman al-Zawahri is an eye surgeon. Seven doctors were involved in the London-Glasgow bomb plots.
You get the idea, even if Barack Obama doesn't.
In a speech before a joint session of Congress on Sept. 20, 2001, President Bush pointed out the real reasons Islamofascists hate us: "They hate what they see right here in this chamber a democratically elected government. Their leaders are self-appointed. They hate our freedoms: our freedom of religion, our freedom of speech, our freedom to vote and assemble and disagree with each other."
Bush aptly called the 9/11 terrorists and their ilk "the heirs of all the murderous ideologies of the 20th century."
"By sacrificing human life to serve their radical visions, by abandoning every value except the will to power, they follow in the path of fascism, Nazism and totalitarianism," he said.
Knowing the nature of your enemy is the key to victory. On the seventh anniversary of 9/11, we should all thank President Bush for keeping America safe. Along the way, he brought freedom and democracy to the Middle East, draining the terrorist swamp.
Bush gets it. So does John McCain. This is one thing we shouldn't want to change.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/11/2008 08:43:00 AM
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/10/2008 05:58:00 PM
After Alinsky: Community Organizing in Illinois
(c) 1990 Illinois Issues, University of Illinois at Springfield
Chapter 4 (pp. 35-40) of After Alinsky
Why Organize? Problems and Promise in the Inner City
For three years Barack Obama was the director of Developing Communities Project, an institutionally based community organization on Chicago's far south side. He has also been a consultant and instructor for the Gamaliel Foundation, an organizing institute working throughout the Midwest. Currently he is studying law at Harvard University. "Why Organize? Problems and Promise in the Inner City" was first published in the August/ September 1988 Illinois Issues [published by then-Sangamon State University, which is now the University of Illinois at Springfield].
By Barack Obama
(c) 1990 Illinois Issues, Springfield, Illinois
Over the past five years, I've often had a difficult time explaining my profession to folks. Typical is a remark a public school administrative aide made to me one bleak January morning, while I waited to deliver some flyers to a group of confused and angry parents who had discovered the presence of asbestos in their school.
"Listen, Obama," she began. "You're a bright young man, Obama. You went to college, didn't you?"
"I just cannot understand why a bright young man like you would go to college, get that degree and become a community organizer."
" 'Cause the pay is low, the hours is long, and don't nobody appreciate you." She shook her head in puzzlement as she wandered back to attend to her duties.
I've thought back on that conversation more than once during the time I've organized with the Developing Communities Project, based in Chicago's far south side. Unfortunately, the answers that come to mind haven't been as simple as her question. Probably the shortest one is this: It needs to be done, and not enough folks are doing it.
The debate as to how black and other dispossessed people can forward their lot in America is not new. From W.E.B. DuBois to Booker T. Washington to Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X to Martin Luther King, this internal debate has raged between integration and nationalism, between accommodation and militancy, between sit-down strikes and boardroom negotiations. The lines between these strategies have never been simply drawn, and the most successful black leadership has recognized the need to bridge these seemingly divergent approaches. During the early years of the Civil Rights movement, many of these issues became submerged in the face of the clear oppression of segregation. The debate was no longer whether to protest, but how militant must that protest be to win full citizenship for blacks.
Twenty years later, the tensions between strategies have reemerged, in part due to the recognition that for all the accomplishments of the 1960s, the majority of blacks continue to suffer from second-class citizenship. Related to this are the failures — real, perceived and fabricated — of the Great Society programs initiated by Lyndon Johnson. Facing these realities, at least three major strands of earlier movements are apparent.
First, and most publicized, has been the surge of political empowerment around the country. Harold Washington and Jesse Jackson are but two striking examples of how the energy and passion of the Civil Rights movement have been channeled into bids for more traditional political power. Second, there has been a resurgence in attempts to foster economic development in the black community, whether through local entrepreneurial efforts, increased hiring of black contractors and corporate managers, or Buy Black campaigns. Third, and perhaps least publicized, has been grass-roots community organizing, which builds on indigenous leadership and direct action.
Proponents of electoral politics and economic development strategies can point to substantial accomplishments in the past 10 years. An increase in the number of black public officials offers at least the hope that government will be more responsive to inner-city constituents. Economic development programs can provide structural improvements and jobs to blighted communities.
In my view, however, neither approach offers lasting hope of real change for the inner city unless undergirded by a systematic approach to community organization. This is because the issues of the inner city are more complex and deeply rooted than ever before. Blatant discrimination has been replaced by institutional racism; problems like teen pregnancy, gang involvement and drug abuse cannot be solved by money alone. At the same time, as Professor William Julius Wilson of the University of Chicago has pointed out, the inner city's economy and its government support have declined, and middle-class blacks are leaving the neighborhoods they once helped to sustain.
Neither electoral politics nor a strategy of economic self-help and internal development can by themselves respond to these new challenges. The election of Harold Washington in Chicago or of Richard Hatcher in Gary were not enough to bring jobs to inner-city neighborhoods or cut a 50 percent drop-out rate in the schools, although they did achieve an important symbolic effect. In fact, much-needed black achievement in prominent city positions has put us in the awkward position of administering underfunded systems neither equipped nor eager to address the needs of the urban poor and being forced to compromise their interests to more powerful demands from other sectors.
Self-help strategies show similar limitations. Although both laudable and necessary, they too often ignore the fact that without a stable community, a well-educated population, an adequate infrastructure and an informed and employed market, neither new nor well-established companies will be willing to base themselves in the inner city and still compete in the international marketplace. Moreover, such approaches can and have become thinly veiled excuses for cutting back on social programs, which are anathema to a conservative agenda.
In theory, community organizing provides a way to merge various strategies for neighborhood empowerment. Organizing begins with the premise that (1) the problems facing inner-city communities do not result from a lack of effective solutions, but from a lack of power to implement these solutions; (2) that the only way for communities to build long-term power is by organizing people and money around a common vision; and (3) that a viable organization can only be achieved if a broadly based indigenous leadership — and not one or two charismatic leaders — can knit together the diverse interests of their local institutions.
This means bringing together churches, block clubs, parent groups and any other institutions in a given community to pay dues, hire organizers, conduct research, develop leadership, hold rallies and education campaigns, and begin drawing up plans on a whole range of issues — jobs, education, crime, etc. Once such a vehicle is formed, it holds the power to make politicians, agencies and corporations more responsive to community needs. Equally important, it enables people to break their crippling isolation from each other, to reshape their mutual values and expectations and rediscover the possibilities of acting collaboratively — the prerequisites of any successful self-help initiative.
By using this approach, the Developing Communities Project and other organizations in Chicago's inner city have achieved some impressive results. Schools have been made more accountable-Job training programs have been established; housing has been renovated and built; city services have been provided; parks have been refurbished; and crime and drug problems have been curtailed. Additionally, plain folk have been able to access the levers of power, and a sophisticated pool of local civic leadership has been developed.
But organizing the black community faces enormous problems as well. One problem is the not entirely undeserved skepticism organizers face in many communities. To a large degree, Chicago was the birthplace of community organizing, and the urban landscape is littered with the skeletons of previous efforts. Many of the best-intentioned members of the community have bitter memories of such failures and are reluctant to muster up renewed faith in the process.
A related problem involves the aforementioned exodus from the inner city of financial resources, institutions, role models and jobs. Even in areas that have not been completely devastated, most households now stay afloat with two incomes. Traditionally, community organizing has drawn support from women, who due to tradition and social discrimination had the time and the inclination to participate in what remains an essentially voluntary activity. Today the majority of women in the black community work full time, many are the sole parent, and all have to split themselves between work, raising children, running a household and maintaining some semblance of a personal life — all of which makes voluntary activities lower on the priority list. Additionally, the slow exodus of the black middle class into the suburbs means that people shop in one neighborhood, work in another, send their child to a school across town and go to church someplace other than the place where they live. Such geographical dispersion creates real problems in building a sense of investment and common purpose in any particular neighborhood.
Finally community organizations and organizers are hampered by their own dogmas about the style and substance of organizing. Most still practice what Professor John McKnight of Northwestern University calls a "consumer advocacy" approach, with a focus on wrestling services and resources from the ouside powers that be. Few are thinking of harnessing the internal productive capacities, both in terms of money and people, that already exist in communities.
Our thinking about media and public relations is equally stunted when compared to the high-powered direct mail and video approaches successfully used by conservative organizations like the Moral Majority. Most importantly, low salaries, the lack of quality training and ill-defined possibilities for advancement discourage the most talented young blacks from viewing organizing as a legitimate career option. As long as our best and brightest youth see more opportunity in climbing the corporate ladder-than in building the communities from which they came, organizing will remain decidedly handicapped.
None of these problems is insurmountable. In Chicago, the Developing Communities Project and other community organizations have pooled resources to form cooperative think tanks like the Gamaliel Foundation. These provide both a formal setting where experienced organizers can rework old models to fit new realities and a healthy environment for the recruitment and training of new organizers. At the same time the leadership vacuum and disillusionment following the death of Harold Washington have made both the media and people in the neighborhoods more responsive to the new approaches community organizing can provide.
Nowhere is the promise of organizing more apparent than in the traditional black churches. Possessing tremendous financial resources, membership and — most importantly — values and biblical traditions that call for empowerment and liberation, the black church is clearly a slumbering giant in the political and economic landscape of cities like Chicago. A fierce independence among black pastors and a preference for more traditional approaches to social involvement (supporting candidates for office, providing shelters for the homeless) have prevented the black church from bringing its full weight to bear on the political, social and economic arenas of the city.
Over the past few years, however, more and more young and forward-thinking pastors have begun to look at community organizations such as the Developing Communities Project in the far south side and GREAT in the Grand Boulevard area as a powerful tool for living the social gospel, one which can educate and empower entire congregations and not just serve as a platform for a few prophetic leaders. Should a mere 50 prominent black churches, out of the thousands that exist in cities like Chicago, decide to collaborate with a trained organizing staff, enormous positive changes could be wrought in the education, housing, employment and spirit of inner-city black communities, changes that would send powerful ripples throughout the city.
In the meantime, organizers will continue to build on local successes, learn from their numerous failures and recruit and train their small but growing core of leadership — mothers on welfare, postal workers, CTA drivers and school teachers, all of whom have a vision and memories of what communities can be. In fact, the answer to the original question — why organize? — resides in these people. In helping a group of housewives sit across the negotiating table with the mayor of America's third largest city and hold their own, or a retired steelworker stand before a TV camera and give voice to the dreams he has for his grandchild's future, one discovers the most significant and satisfying contribution organizing can make.
In return, organizing teaches as nothing else does the beauty and strength of everyday people. Through the songs of the church and the talk on the stoops, through the hundreds of individual stories of coming up from the South and finding any job that would pay, of raising families on threadbare budgets, of losing some children to drugs and watching others earn degrees and land jobs their parents could never aspire to — it is through these stories and songs of dashed hopes and powers of endurance, of ugliness and strife, subtlety and laughter, that organizers can shape a sense of community not only for others, but for themselves.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/10/2008 02:15:00 PM
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
John McCain’s presidential campaign is calling an ethics investigation led against his vice president, Sarah Palin, by Alaskan Democrats who are actively supporting his rival Barack Obama into question.
They contend the man who is heading the investigation against Palin, dubbed "Troopergate," is a partisan Democrat who had endorsed Obama for president and is using his political power in Alaska to damage Palin and the GOP.
Members of the McCain campaign are citing a page on Obama’s presidential website that identifies state legislators investigating Palin’s decision to fire the state’s Public Safety Commissioner as Obama supporters.
The McCain camp is zeroing on political action taken by Alaskan Democrats Hollis French and Kim Elton against Republican Governor Palin. Both Democrats have endorsed Obama for president and are currently supporting his candidacy, as identified on Obama's website.
Last week, Alaskan Republicans asked Alaska’s Legislature’s Legislative Council, which appointed Hollis to lead the investigation, to replace Hollis with someone less partisan.
In interviews, Hollis has suggested his investigation may culminate in an “October surprise,” perhaps Palin's impeachment as Governor, that could help the Democrats win the White House in November. ABC News quoted Hollis saying “If they had done their job they never would have picked her,” referring to the McCain campaign’s vetting process. “Now they may have to deal with an October surprise.”
Their request was denied by fellow Democrat and Obama-supporter Elton, who sits at the head of the Legislative Council.
Hollis plans to release his final report, which he describes as “damaging,” on October 31, four days shy of the presidential election.
The investigation is intended to determine whether Palin abused her office when she pressured Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan to fire her former brother-in-law State Trooper Mike Wooten. Police investigations against Wooten found he had used a Taser on his stepson, illegally shot a moose, drank beer in his patrol car and threatened his father in law with death.
Wooten finalized a bitter divorce with Palin’s sister, Molly, in 2005.
Amanda Carpenter is National Political Reporter for Townhall.com.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/10/2008 12:11:00 PM
Palin staff pushed to have trooper fired:
Governor says she's learned calls were made about Wooten's ouster
Gov. Sarah Palin and Attorney General Talis Colberg, left, answer questions at a press conference in Anchorage today, about Colberg's inquiry in to issues surrounding the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan."
By SEAN COCKERHAM
Gov. Sarah Palin on Wednesday revealed an audio recording that shows an aide pressuring the Public Safety Department to fire a state trooper embroiled in a custody battle with her sister.Palin, who has previously said her administration didn't exert pressure to get rid of trooper Mike Wooten, also disclosed that members of her staff had made about two dozen contacts with public safety officials about the trooper."I do now have to tell Alaskans that such pressure could have been perceived to exist although I have only now become aware of it," Palin said. But Palin said her decision to fire Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan last month had nothing to do with his refusal to dump trooper Mike Wooten. The governor said evidence of what she called a "smoking gun" conversation, and other calls made by her aides, only recently surfaced as the attorney general started an inquiry at her request into the circumstances surrounding her firing of Monegan. Palin wanted the review because a special investigator hired by the Legislature is about to investigate the firing and a legislator has been quoted in a newspaper story talking about impeachment.The majority of the calls came from Palin's chief of staff at the time, Mike Tibbles, according to information gathered by the state attorney general's office. Attorney General Talis Colberg and Palin's husband, Todd, also contacted Monegan about the trooper.Palin said she'd only known about some of the contacts and never asked anyone on her staff to get in touch with state public safety officials about Wooten."Many of these inquiries were completely appropriate. However, the serial nature of the contacts could be perceived as some kind of pressure, presumably at my direction," she said. Palin said the "most disturbing" was a phone call Frank Bailey, the governor's director of boards and commissions, made to trooper Lt. Rodney Dial in February. The Public Safety Department recorded the call, as it does routinely. Palin, who said she'd only just learned of the call, released a recorded copy of it to the press on Wednesday. In it, Bailey clearly pressures the lieutenant.'HORRIBLE RECRUITING TOOL'Bailey told him during the conversation that Palin and her husband want to know why Wooten still has a job."Todd and Sarah are scratching their heads, 'Why on earth hasn't this, why is this guy still representing the department?' He's a horrible recruiting tool, you know," Bailey told the lieutenant.Bailey made several accusations against Wooten in the call, including that he lied on his application. Dial asked Bailey how he knew about any issue with the application."I used to be a recruiter. I know a lot of times that information is extremely confidential," Dial told him.Bailey replied he was reluctant to say but saw the application as part of Wooten's worker's compensation claim. Bailey, later in the call, then brought up Monegan again."I'm telling you honestly, you know, she really likes Walt a lot, but on this issue, she feels like it's, she doesn't know why there is absolutely no action for a year on this issue. It's very, very troubling to her and the family. I could definitely relay that," Bailey said.Palin said Bailey wasn't speaking on her behalf and his comments were "just wrong."Bailey said in a Wednesday interview that no one asked him to make the call and he doesn't know why he indicated in the call that he was speaking on behalf of the Palins. He said he was calling lieutenant Dial, who was the state troopers liaison to the Legislature and had volunteered on Palin's campaign, in order to try to get information about the troopers union and then brought up Wooten.Bailey said he'd heard at a security briefing right after Palin was elected that Wooten had made a threat against Palin's family. He said he also had casual conversations with Todd Palin about the trooper. Bailey said Todd had expressed "general frustration with the situation" but never asked him to do anything about it."My fear was (Wooten) could fly off the handle and do something that was irreversible," Bailey said. "That concern, that fear, has always been in the back of my mind."Palin said it's under discussion whether Bailey is going to keep his job in the administration.COLBERG'S PHONE CALLAttorney General Colberg also disclosed Wednesday that he'd made a call about Wooten. Colberg said he called Monegan several months ago after Todd Palin asked him about "the process" for when state troopers make death threats against the first family."I made an inquiry and was told by commissioner Monegan that there was a process in place and that it was handled and it was over. And I reported back to the first gentleman that there was nothing more that could be done," Colberg said.Palin said her husband also contacted Monegan about a threat made by Wooten but backed off when Monegan indicated he couldn't get into the matter.The family had alleged the threat in 2005, before Palin became governor. They said Wooten had told Palin's sister he would shoot their father if he got the sister a lawyer. Wooten denied saying anything like that. But a trooper investigation concluded he did, although it wasn't a crime because he didn't threaten the father directly. Wooten's actions did violate trooper policy, the investigator found.Palin said she was meeting with the investigator hired by the Legislature, Steve Branchflower, on Wednesday and would turn over everything gathered as part of the attorney general's inquiry. The Bailey phone call was the only one that Palin singled out as being wrong. Assistant Attorney General Mike Barnhill said all the calls from then-chief of staff Tibbles, who is now running Sen. Ted Stevens' re-election campaign, regarding Wooten looked to be appropriate. "It's absolutely appropriate that a chief of staff was checking on staff issues and personnel, policy and procedure," Palin said.Palin said no one from the Department of Public Safety -- including Monegan before his firing -- had complained they felt pressured regarding Wooten.KOPP'S SEVERANCE PACKAGEColberg also disclosed Wednesday that Chuck Kopp, who Palin had appointed to replace Monegan as public safety commissioner, received a $10,000 state severance package after he resigned following just two weeks on the job.It was in light of the fact that he left a comfortable 19-year career on the Kenai Peninsula and took a job that lasted less than two weeks," Colberg said.Kopp, the former Kenai chief of police, resigned July 25 following disclosure of a 2005 sexual harassment complaint and letter of reprimand against him.Monegan said in a Wednesday interview that he didn't get any severance package from the state. WHY PALIN FIRED MONEGANMonegan was a Palin appointee, and she had a right to fire him for any reason. She's previously refused to say exactly why she got rid of him, but laid out several reasons Wednesday, saying she's decided to talk about it because Monegan is. Palin said he wasn't doing enough to fill state trooper vacancies and battle alcohol abuse issues. She said he "did not turn out to be a team player on budgeting issues."Palin said it's fine to have debates during cabinet meetings over the budget but Monegan went further and indicated to legislators she wasn't proposing enough spending. Palin's acting chief of staff, Mike Nizich, said Monegan asked legislators for spending that hadn't been authorized by the governor."The response he got was don't come to us and ask for more money when you cannot fill the 56 or 58 trooper positions that were vacant," Nizich said. "So he was making a pitch for additional funding when he couldn't even fill what he currently had available to him."Monegan questioned that but declined to comment further, saying he's already started talking to the special investigator hired by the Legislature to look into his firing.
Find Sean Cockerham online at adn.com/contact/scockerham or call him at 257-4344.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/10/2008 11:30:00 AM
Feb 27 2008
JERUSALEM - Democratic presidential frontrunner Sen. Barack Obama served as a paid director on the board of a nonprofit organization that granted funding to a controversial Arab group that mourns the establishment of Israel as a "catastrophe." (Obama has also reportedly spoken at fundraisers for Palestinians living in what the United Nations terms refugee camps.)
The co-founder of the Arab group, Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi, is a harsh critic of Israel who reportedly worked on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization when it was labeled a terror group by the State Department.
Khalidi held a fundraiser in 2000 for Obama's failed bid for a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
In 2001, the Woods Fund, a Chicago-based nonprofit that describes itself as a group helping the disadvantaged, provided a $40,000 grant to the Arab American Action Network, or AAAN, at which Khalidi's wife, Mona, serves as president. The Fund provided a second grant to AAAN for $35,000 in 2002.
Obama was a director of the Woods Fund board from 1999 to Dec. 11, 2002, according to the Fund's website. According to tax filings, Obama received compensation of $6,000 per year for his service in 1999 and 2000.
The $40,000 grant from the Woods Fund to AAAN constituted about a fifth of the group's reported grants for 2001, also according to tax filings. The $35,000 Woods Fund grant in 2002 made up about one-fifth of AAAN's reported grants for that year as well.
Headquartered in the heart of Chicago's Palestinian immigrant community, AAAN describes itself as working to "empower Chicago-area Arab immigrants and Arab Americans through the combined strategies of community organizing, advocacy, education and social services, leadership development, and forging productive relationships with other communities."
Speakers at AAAN dinners and events routinely have taken an anti-Israel line. The group co-sponsored a Palestinian art exhibit, titled "The Subject of Palestine," that featured works related to what Palestinians call the "nakba" or "catastrophe" of Israel's founding in 1948.
The theme of AAAN's Nakba art exhibit, held at DePaul University in 2005, was "the compelling and continuing tragedy of Palestinian life ... under [Israeli] occupation ... home demolition ... statelessness ... bereavement ... martyrdom, and ... the heroic struggle for life, for safety, and for freedom."
Another AAAN initiative, "Al Nakba 1948 As Experienced by Chicago Palestinians," seeks documents related to the "catastrophe" of Israel's founding.
Although AAAN co-founder Rashid Khalidi has at times denied working directly for the PLO, he reportedly served as director of the official PLO press agency WAFA in Beirut from 1976 to 1982, a period during which the PLO committed scores of anti-Western attacks and was labeled by the U.S. as a terror group. Khalidi's wife, Mona Khalidi, reportedly was WAFA's English translator during that period.
Khalidi also advised the Palestinian delegation to the Madrid Conference in 1991. During documented speeches and public events, Khalidi has called Israel an "apartheid system in creation" and a "racist" state. Critics have accused him of excusing Palestinian terrorism, a charge he denies.
He dedicated his 1986 book, Under Siege, to "those who gave their lives ... in defense of the cause of Palestine and independence of Lebanon."
While the Woods Fund's contribution to Khalidi's AAAN might be perceived as a one-time contact with Obama, there is evidence of a deeper relationship between the presidential hopeful and Khalidi.
According to a professor at the University of Chicago who said he has known Obama for 12 years, the senator first befriended Khalidi when the two worked together at the university. The professor spoke on condition of anonymity. Khalidi lectured at the University of Chicago until 2003; Obama taught law there from 1993 until his election to the Senate in 2004.
Asked during a radio interview with this reporter on WABC's John Batchelor program about his 2000 fundraiser for Obama, Khalidi said he "was just doing my duties as a Chicago resident to help my local politician."
Khalidi said he supports Obama for president "because he is the only candidate who has expressed sympathy for the Palestinian cause."
Khalidi also lauded Obama for "saying he supports talks with Iran. If the U.S. can talk with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, there is no reason it can't talk with the Iranians."
Concerning Obama's role in funding AAAN, Khalidi claimed he "never heard of the Woods Fund until it popped up on a bunch of blogs a few months ago." He terminated the interview when pressed further about his links with Obama.
Contacted by phone, Mona Khalidi refused to answer questions about AAAN's involvement with Obama.
The Obama campaign did not reply to a list of questions sent by e-mail to the senator's press office.
In addition to questions about his relationship with Khalidi, Obama may face increased scrutiny over his ties to William C. Ayers, a member of the Weather Underground terrorist group that sought to overthrow the U.S. government and took responsibility for a string of bombings in the early 1970's.
Obama served on the Woods Fund board alongside Ayers (who is still on the board). Ayers, a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago, has written about his involvement with the Weather Underground's bombing of U.S. governmental buildings including the Capitol in 1971 and the Pentagon in 1972.
Although charges against him were dropped in 1974 due to prosecutorial misconduct, Ayers told a newspaper reporter several years ago that he had no second thoughts about his violent past. "I don't regret setting bombs. I feel we didn't do enough," Ayers told The New York Times in an interview published, ironically, on Sept. 11, 2001.
In his memoir, Fugitive Days, Ayers wrote: "Everything was absolutely ideal on the day I bombed the Pentagon" - though he continued with a disclaimer that he didn't personally set the bombs but his group placed the explosives and planned the attack.
Besides serving with Obama on the board of the Woods Fund, Ayers contributed $200 to Obama's senatorial campaign fund and has served on panels with Obama at several public speaking engagements.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/10/2008 09:48:00 AM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, September 09, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election '08: The country could use an honest debate on Social Security, particularly in an election year. From comments made over the weekend, though, it's clear that Barack Obama is not the man to provide it.
Speaking Saturday via satellite to an AARP group, Obama, who might not always know what city he's in or how many states make up the union, but knew well to whom he was talking, warned that his opponent John McCain would "gamble" their retirements by privatizing Social Security.
As if teleprompted on cue, he said that McCain embraces "George Bush's failed privatization scheme."
And with those comments, honesty left the building.
Bush's Social Security privatization plan is not a failed policy. It cannot be "failed" because it has never been tried, with the exception of three Texas counties where private systems are flourishing.
The president once had Washington talking about a partially privatized system in which Americans would voluntarily place a part of their retirements into private accounts. But the plan never became law, thanks to congressmen from the party of Obama who were in lockstep opposition, and some squishy Republicans.
What we are left with is a Social Security system that in nine years will begin to pay out more in benefits than it takes in via the payroll tax. By 2041, the "trust fund" will be exhausted and the system broke unless Congress follows a plan such as Obama's, in which case the majority of Americans will be broke because the tax hikes needed to fund benefits will wreck the economy.
But that's not the case in Chile, which reformed its public pension system in 1980. Legislation passed that year let workers opt out of the government-run system that is funded by a payroll tax and instead deposit a piece at least 10% of their earnings into a personal retirement account.
The average return has been about 10% a year and 95% of the Chilean workers opt for the private system. They are free to stay in the government scheme, but it's not unusual to hear them say they are happy with their private accounts. But then the 95% participation rate says as much. And it destroys, as well, the Democrat-media complex argument that the system's flaws are being exposed.
Great Britain, with a newer system, set up in 1986, has also had success with personal accounts, as has Australia, Sweden and numerous other nations.
Obama complained Monday the Republicans are "shameful" for the way they have characterized his effete approach to terrorism.
But what could be more shameful than forcing Americans to pay into a retirement system in which the return on investment is a mere 2%?
Even worse, we have to pay a larger ratio of our earnings 12.4% when employers' "shares" are included than the Chileans, whose return on investment is likely to be five times higher.
Obama, possibly the next U.S. president, has decided that Americans can't have the same freedom to choose as Chileans, Britons, Australians and others. Those who support the "progressive" candidate in this race need to know that less freedom is not progress.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/10/2008 08:29:00 AM
Tuesday, September 09, 2008
SWING VOTE follows the story of Bud Johnson (KEVIN COSTNER), an apathetic, beer-slinging, lovable loser, who is coasting through a life that has passed him by. The one bright spot is his precocious, over-achieving twelve year-old daughter Molly. She takes care of both of them, until one mischievous moment on Election Day, when she accidentally sets off a chain of events which culminates in the election coming down to one vote… her dad’s.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/09/2008 11:13:00 PM
An American Carol - Official Trailer
Description: From the director of "Airplane!" and "The Naked Gun" comes a right-thinking, side-splitting comedy about a cynical, anti-American filmmaker who is on a crusade to abolish the 4th of July... until he's visited by three spirits who take him on a hilarious journey in an attempt to show him the true meaning of America.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/09/2008 10:51:00 PM
By INVESTOR'S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Tuesday, September 09, 2008 4:20 PM PT
Election '08: Barack Obama has joined forces with a white socialist he calls a "good friend" — the Rev. Jim Wallis, founder of "Sojourners." He too believes in "liberation theology," sans the black nationalism. In fact, Wallis is the white version of Jeremiah Wright, sans the black rage.
IBD Series: The Audacity Of Socialism
In addition to publishing "Sojourners" magazine, Wallis runs Call to Renewal — a network of liberal churches and activist groups "committed to ending poverty and racism."
Wright once joined Wallis at the U.S. Capitol in an anti-poverty "preach-in" sponsored by Call to Renewal.
Wallis and his Washington-based operation have essentially replaced Wright and his militantly Afrocentric Chicago church, which Obama expediently dumped in the heat of the primary race after videos surfaced of his fire-breathing preacher damning America.
The avuncular, noncombative Wallis offers Obama a voting bloc that Wright could never help deliver: white Christian evangelicals, if in Birkenstocks.
At the Democratic National Convention in Denver, Obama tapped Wallis to oversee the drafting of the faith-based plank of the party platform (which, by the way, champions outreach programs for "ex-offenders").
"This is a very faith-friendly convention," Wallis said. "I think Democrats have really gone through an important change." But their newfound faith is not one most mainline Christians would even recognize, let alone embrace.
Like Wright and Obama, Wallis believes that biblical faith compels radical social action. Their political ministry is called the "social gospel," but it's really just socialism dressed up in a cheap tunic. They refuse to separate personal faith from political activism, whether at home or abroad.
In the '80s, for example, Wallis and Wright rallied to the cause of the communist regime in Nicaragua, and protested the U.S. arming of the Contra rebels. Wallis, in fact, marshaled thousands of "Witnesses for Peace" and joined them in Nicaragua, making it known they were willing to take a bullet to stop the anti-communist insurgency.
Wallis is more eloquent than Wright, but he preaches the same anti-American message. According to discoverthenetworks.org, he once called the U.S. "the great power, the great seducer, the great captor and destroyer of human life, the great master of humanity and history in its totalitarian claims and designs."
Like Obama, Wallis got his start in Chicago, where he too was involved in community organizing. He forged ties with black gang leaders, including at least one known cop-killer.
While agitating in Chicago, Wallis published a newspaper called the "Post-American," which was printed by the same radicals who put out the Black Panther paper. Now in D.C., he presides at funerals of gangbangers and runs a commune in the ghetto that romanticizes blight and mocks efforts at urban renewal.
"I don't know which is the worst evil," he said in a 1994 interview with the Los Angeles Times magazine, "the crackhouse or the gentrified house."
Wallis agrees with Obama that American racism and capitalism are to blame for inner-city poverty, and echoes his oft-repeated call for "economic justice." They share a spread-the-wealth vision, including subsidizing the working poor beyond expanded tax credits and minimum-wage hikes.
"The Bible says prosperity has to be shared," Wallis said in a January 2000 interview with IBD. "It's very simple."
"So far the rising tide is lifting all the yachts, but not the boats the poor inner-city kids are in," he said, adding that the stock market has created a "casino economy."
Wallis likes to think of himself and his sojourners as "progressives." But "they're really just socialists," said David Kelley, director of the Objectivist Center in New York.
Wallis may couch his Bolshevist views today. But in 1979, he was quoted in the journal "Mission Tracks" saying he hoped that "more Christians will come to view the world through Marxist eyes."
Obama is one who's seen the light. While delivering the keynote address for Wallis at his Call to Renewal 2006 conference in Washington, he condemned the "idolatry of the free market" and professed: "I believe in the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change."
Wallis says Obama is the kind of leader he's been searching for, one who's "responsive to social movements." "Barack Obama talks about 'being our brother's keeper' and how he finds a faith that does justice to be compelling to him," he said in a recent interview.
But it's not just "movements" that Wallis has in mind. He recently wrote the foreword to a leftist book titled, "The Revolution: A Field Manual for Changing Our World."
Wallis is also an anti-military pacifist who fasted for 47 days to protest last decade's popular Gulf War.
Like his fellow traveler Obama, he believes 21st Century America is guilty of "structural injustice and social oppression" aimed at blacks. His Sojourners magazine features radical professor Cornel West as a contributing editor. West, a black Marxist, is working as an adviser to Obama's campaign.
Wallis put another radical professor, James Cone, on his Sojourners editorial board. Cone is Wright's mentor and the father of black liberation theology, a Marxist version of Christianity that worships a white-hating black Jesus.
"Together," Cone said, "black religion and Marxist philosophy may show us a way to build a completely new society."
Wallis, who once regularly attended black liberation churches in his hometown of Detroit, has no problem with that. He says his mission is to "sojourn with others in different faith and traditions" toward a common goal of "social justice."
Now he's hoping to sojourn his way into the White House with Obama, whose favorite scripture happens to be a verse from Chronicles referencing sojourners: "For we are strangers before thee, and sojourners, as were all our fathers." (He quotes from it in his first memoir; in fact, it sits strangely alone on what should be his dedication page.)
Such foes of capitalism and apologists for communism belong in communes, not national leadership. Better they sojourn their way completely out of American politics.
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/09/2008 10:35:00 PM
He may be the most unpopular president in modern times: a reckless, unilateralist cowboy. But history will be kinder to George W. Bush than contemporary caricatures. After eight years, he leaves behind much more than a defeated dictator in Iraq. Closer ties to India, a pragmatic relationship with China, and the pressure he applied to Iran will pay dividends for years to come.
“Iraq Is Bush’s Only Foreign-Policy Legacy”
Hardly. There’s no denying that the war in Iraq has defined the presidency of George W. Bush in important ways. But history is unlikely to remember the war as negatively as most assume.
It’s now likely that the war will stagger to an inconclusive ending. The insurgency will shrink but not disappear. The government will function but will be divided. The U.S. military presence will be reduced but not entirely withdrawn. And Iraq’s neighbors will be bruised but their geopolitical policies will stay intact. Yet, by overthrowing Saddam Hussein and replacing him with a nonaggressive, albeit weak, elected regime, the United States will have achieved a real improvement in the region. It will have come at a high cost in money and lives. But it will also falsify the worst predictions of the war’s opponents. As the Iraq war recedes into history, it will come to be seen more like the frustrating Korean conflict, or the Philippine insurrection, rather than the debacle of Vietnam. It will be an important part of Bush’s legacy, but hardly all-defining.
As time passes, other crucial decisions of the Bush years will come into sharper focus. Among the most important will be the formation of a U.S.-India military alliance. Under Bush, the United States and India (along with Australia, Japan, and Singapore) have begun joint naval exercises. The United States and India signed a treaty to share nuclear materials in 2007. The United States is offering India fighter planes, warships, and other equipment sales that could total as much as $100 billion during the next 10 years. Otto von Bismarck once famously predicted that the most important geopolitical fact of the 20th century would be that the United States and Britain spoke the same language. Now, the values shared by the United States and India may emerge as the most important geopolitical fact of this century.
Other foreign-policy legacies of the Bush years include the signing of new bilateral trade agreements, the world’s first convention on cybercrime, the wise decision to give Hugo Chávez enough rope to hang himself, and the continued successful management of the U.S.-China relationship. Conversely, if Iran is allowed to follow North Korea into the nuclear weapons club, it could well be the failure to act against the other two thirds of the “axis of evil,” not the willingness to act in Iraq, that will be regarded as the most important decision of the Bush years.
“The Iraq War Has Made America Less Safe”
Prove it. In the two decades leading up to Bush’s presidency, the United States and its allies were struck by a rising number of increasingly ambitious, aggressive, and deadly terrorist attacks. The hijacking of TWA Flight 847 in 1985. The Berlin disco bombing in 1986. The Buenos Aires bombings in 1992 and 1994. The assassination of Kurdish exiles in Berlin in 1992. The World Trade Center bombing in 1993. The Paris subway bombings in 1995. The plots to attack New York monuments and Pacific Ocean jetliners in 1995. The Khobar Towers bombing in 1996. The East Africa embassy bombings in 1998. The USS Cole in 2000. 9/11.
Now compare that with the period since the invasion of Iraq. Since 2003, former state sponsors of terrorism have behaved much more cautiously. Libya, for instance, has retired from the business altogether. Where terrorism has existed outside the Middle East, it has steadily declined in both effectiveness and sophistication. The Madrid bombing of 2004 was less sophisticated than 9/11. The London subway bombings in 2005 were less sophisticated than Madrid. And the plots foiled in Germany, in Canada, and at Heathrow Airport in the summer of 2006 were all less sophisticated than the London bombings.
The U.S. homeland has enjoyed almost complete immunity from acts of international terrorism, and the plots that have come to light have been reassuringly amateurish in their conception and attempted execution. Even in the Islamic heartland, terrorism is waning. Abu Musab al-Zarqawi’s attack on a wedding at a Jordanian hotel in 2005 soured Arab Middle Easterners on the al Qaeda movement. Al Qaeda’s commanders in Iraq have publicly acknowledged that their bloodthirsty tactics have alienated local residents—and left their movement in dire straits. It would be absurd to attribute this improving trend line solely to President Bush. But it would be equally absurd to deny that things are improving.
“Bush Has Wrecked America’s Alliances”
Wrong. Yes, the Western alliance system is in trouble. But it was in trouble well before Bush. NATO’s tensions, for instance, were already noticeable during the Balkan crisis in the late 1990s. And remember that President Bush was met with mass protests on his first European trip in the summer of 2001—before either 9/11 or the war in Iraq. Among the issues irking the United States’ allies then was Bush’s decision not to stay the execution of Timothy McVeigh, the terrorist who killed 168 Americans by detonating a truck bomb outside the Oklahoma City federal building in 1995. It would be far more accurate to say that American unilateralism is a symptom of alliance troubles rather than a cause.
Many have argued that the Bush administration somehow squandered Europe’s goodwill toward America by going it alone in Iraq. Not so. Polls conducted in the weeks after 9/11, well before the Iraq war, showed that only about one sixth to one quarter of Europeans supported the use of force against state sponsors of terrorism. That did not prevent NATO from approving the mission in Afghanistan—the first conflict approved under Article 5 of the NATO charter. It has, however, made it difficult to gain serious commitments for NATO troops from many member countries. And the reason NATO must ask for those extra troops in the first place is that all too many of the European troops already deployed in Afghanistan have been carefully positioned out of harm’s way. Even those allies who have sent troops to Afghanistan often insist on rules of engagement that preclude almost all serious missions.
There were many instances of tactlessness in the Bush years. The administration too often lost sight of the value of diplomatic decorum. But every American president, Bush included, always prefers to work with allies, if only for the political cover they can provide. That’s why Bush worked through the six-party talks to tackle North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and through the “Quartet” to address Israel-Palestine. And it is why he has put a smiling face on his assurances that Arab allies have done everything America has asked them to do in the fight against terrorism. If anything, it can be argued that Bush has been overly influenced by allies, at least certain allies. From 2003 to 2006, he outsourced Iran policy to Britain, France, and Germany. Today, the United States’ Iran policy is largely driven by the anxieties and political needs of its Sunni-majority Arab allies in the Middle East. Similarly, Bush’s North Korea policy has retreated from red line to red line, in deference to South Korea.
“Bush Has Pushed Democracy Over All Else”
False. It’s fair to say the president’s rhetoric on democracy has sometimes soared into the empyrean. Actions, however, have not followed words. In Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia, the Bush administration has followed a very traditional American policy that attaches relatively little importance to democracy promotion. The same can be said of Iraq, in fact. The war there was fought for a very traditional balance-of-power reason: to overthrow a hostile and dangerous regime believed to be seeking weapons of mass destruction.
The debate over democratization in the Middle East is basically a debate over the causes of extremism. Antidemocratizers see Middle Eastern extremism as a response to grievances arising from the encounter between the Middle East and the West. It is best met, they argue, by some form of conciliation. In practice, this usually means the pursuit of Palestinian statehood. Democratizers, on the other hand, have stressed that extremism originates from dysfunctions within the Middle East itself: tribalism, authoritarianism, and corruption. They argue it can only effectively be addressed by internal reforms. Democratizers have tended to be skeptical of Palestinian statehood. As they see it, extremism is often deliberately stoked by Middle Eastern governments for their own ends, and the creation of a Palestinian state that is anything less than wholeheartedly moderate will most likely exacerbate rather than mitigate the region’s instability and violence. In this debate, the Bush administration has subtly but unmistakably shifted its alignment. Having begun in 2002 by arguing that Palestinian statehood should follow Palestinian reform, it has now reversed itself to pursue Palestinian statehood as a precondition of reform.
Democracy has of course been an important priority for Bush, as it was for most of his predecessors. And like them, the president was often obliged to subordinate that priority to other concerns. In his policy toward Libya, the president put disarmament ahead of democratization. In China, he has followed past policy by emphasizing stability and trade over political reform. An increasingly authoritarian Russia remains a welcome eighth in the club formerly known as the G-7, despite having an economy that now ranks behind those of China and India, who remain uninvited. Nor has Bush hesitated to levy powerful threats to deter Taiwan from asserting its right to self-government. That is hardly the pursuit of democratization above all else.
“While Bush Was Distracted, China Surged”
Not exactly. If the U.S. economy continues to grow at its recent average of 3 percent a year, even a booming China will not overtake U.S. GDP for half a century. If China’s growth rate slows, the moment of “catch up” recedes even further into the future. Such a slowdown seems inevitable. China’s financial sector is rickety to the point of collapse, inflation is accelerating, and the country is quickly bumping up against the limits of low-wage manufacturing. Energy and water shortages are rampant. Environmental degradation is escalating into a serious political issue. Political tensions between the central and regional governments are intensifying. And, very soon, China’s aging population will have to leave work and begin tapping into its savings. Even if China somehow escapes the laws of economic gravity, what precisely is an American president to do about it? Try to stunt China’s growth? How? And to what end?
Unlike its economic growth, China’s strategic assertiveness is a proper American concern. Here the Bush administration acted both decisively and prudently, continuing the long-standing U.S. policy of hoping for the best and preparing for the worst. It cultivated closer strategic ties with Australia, India, Japan, Singapore, and other regional powers, including Vietnam. U.S. warships now once again call at Cam Ranh Bay. If China decides to act out, it will soon find itself hemmed in, thanks in part to these relationships—a reality that is all the more acute thanks to recent elections in Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan that have brought pro-American leaders to power. Bush is bequeathing to his successor an Asian strategic environment much friendlier to the United States than the one he inherited.
“America Has Never Been More Hated”
Says who? On what basis could one even begin to decide whether such a statement is accurate? Global opinion surveys are inexact, to put it mildly. A survey of international public opinion by the Pew Research Center, for example, suggests that one fifth of the population of Spain changed its view of the United States in the 12 months between the spring of 2005 and the spring of 2006. Any polling expert knows that strongly held views do not shift that rapidly. A number that bobs up and down reflects, at best, a transitory impression, if not statistical noise. Outside the developed world, in poor countries that are predominantly rural and illiterate, such global public-opinion surveys tell us even less.
Even if we choose to believe these assessments, what they mostly tell us is that the United States faced serious image problems well before Bush. The Gallup Organization conducted a wide survey of Islamic public opinion between December 2001 and January 2002. It found that a majority of those surveyed regarded the United States unfavorably, with Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, and Iran being the most hostile. Significant numbers regarded the 9/11 attacks as justifiable. Barely one fifth of those surveyed accepted that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by Arab men—two thirds denied it outright. In Saudi Arabia, the government refused to allow the question to be asked at all.
Americans like to tell themselves that the world rallied in sympathy to the murder of some 3,000 Americans on Sept. 11, 2001. In fact, the attacks triggered a spasm of delight across the Middle East. The Middle East Media Research Institute has compiled an archive of grisly press clippings. Many of the worst come from Egypt, a key Middle Eastern ally. In an Islamist opposition newspaper, columnist Salim ’Azzouz wrote, “We have been prohibited from showing the happiness and joy that we feel, so as not to hurt the Americans’ feelings—although, in this case, rejoicing is a national and religious obligation.” This kind of malignancy has deeper roots than any one president.
“The Next President Will Radically Revise Bush’s Policies”
Unlikely. Granted, the next president will feel the need to create an appearance of distance between himself and the unpopular Bush. But that’s hardly new. George H.W. Bush did exactly the same thing when he followed the highly popular Ronald Reagan. No doubt, climate change will assume a higher priority under a President McCain or a President Obama. Guantánamo Bay will, in all likelihood, be closed. The United States will take a more active role in international organizations. And the next president will probably try harder to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
Yet the continuity between Bush and his successor will be strong. A U.S. drawdown from Iraq will proceed more slowly than most expect. Relationships with India, Japan, and Vietnam will continue to grow. The United States will continue to spend much more on military power than all other major countries combined. Financial pressures on Iran will continue to intensify. The United States will still press for more open trade. And even democracy promotion, Bush’s most maligned foreign-policy goal, will continue to figure prominently in presidential addresses for years to come.
George W. Bush’s political opponents will surely revile him long after he’s gone. But you can be sure of this: Just as the Bush presidency led Democrats to express an unexpected nostalgia for Ronald Reagan, the next Republican president can expect to hear from pundits and academics alike that he falls far short of the high standard set by the last one.
David Frum, a former speechwriter and special assistant to President George W. Bush, is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and author of Comeback: Conservatism That Can Win Again (New York: Doubleday, 2007).
Posted by Joyce Kavitsky at 9/09/2008 12:13:00 PM