Monday, February 18, 2008

Is Obama The Answer?

Sell your cleverness and buy bewilderment।
Although the wind
blows terribly here,
the moonlight also leaks
between the roof planks
of this ruined house.

---Izumi Shikibu

Ultimately, let’s hope that the nation turns back to the task it abandoned — that of ending the poverty that still poisons so many American lives.

---Paul Krugman, in his column this morning, entitled Poverty Is Poison

It's so easy to not want the Clintons back in the White House. It's like that temptation to get with your old girl friend again from a few years back. It should have worked out, it could have worked out...but... There was all that nastiness, and stuff going on behind your back. The trust factor. Has she changed? Did she really do anything wrong? Yeah, ultimately everything got ruined. My whole life got ruined! Eight long years of hell while I tried to get over it. I want to risk going back to that?

We're a forgiving people. But worse, we're a forgetting people! We don't seem to learn from history. And we've become even more loud, pushy and obnoxious than we were accused of when we were only tourists. Now we insist of owning and controlling everything---and we dare to call that condition for others democracy and freedom. We only are interested in getting our own little piece of the pie...and then, shotgun in hand, bragging that America means no one can tell me what to do. The Clintons again? Isn't there another woman somewhere to run for this office?

And so we find ourselves turning around to see what Barack Obama is about. People ask and write What are his programs? Is this happening to you too? I've been replying that I'll wait to see if he wins the nomination and then get after the details. But how many presidents actually do what they say in their campaigns anyway? So what difference does it make? Well, we're having this primary in Ohio in a couple weeks. I've got to vote for one of them. Both families are running all over the state at the moment...but nobody's come down here yet. Bill Clinton was in Marietta last night, but we couldn't get up the stomach to go see him. They've got to get to Athens sooner or later.

And so it's with this kind of anticipation and disenchantment that I came upon a new website for me. It's called the Black Agenda Report, and it looks as if I'll be visiting there everyday from now on. The insolent montage illustrating this introduction comes from there. At the moment it's a place to go where people have had some history with Mr. Obama. The managing editor of the site, Bruce Dixon, has other issues to discuss, but right now he wants to share some concerns he has about this candidate. It think we may be hearing a lot about this site in coming days...and about these concerns. Here's Bruce Dixon last Thursday~~~

The presidential campaign of Barack Obama has become a media parade on its way to a coronation. Journalists and leading Democrats have done shockingly little to pin Obama down, to hold him specifically responsible for anything beyond his slogans of "yes we can" and "change we can believe in". Prominent Black Democrats, many ministers and the traditional Black leadership class are doing less than anybody to hold Obama accountable, peddling instead a supposed racial obligation among African Americans to support this second coming of Joshua and his campaign as "the movement" itself. What would holding Barack Obama accountable on war and peace, on social security, health care and other issues look like, and is it possible to hold a political "rock star" accountable at all?

Holding Barack Obama Accountable
by BAR Managing Editor Bruce Dixon

Whether it is truly possible to hold elected officials accountable in a political system where big money, big media, big corporations and the very rich call all the shots is uncertain। But we have tried and will keep trying। So will others. The stakes are too high not to.
How We Held Obama's Feet to the Fire in 2003

Although close friends and confidants had been talking up a run for national office since the early 1990s, Barack Obama in 2003 was still an Illinois state senator running in the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate. This reporter, a longtime and former Chicago community and political organizer, had worked with Obama in 1992's highly successful Project VOTE Illinois registration drive. After moving to Georgia in 2000, I managed to keep in touch with events at home, and was well aware of Obama's run for the US Senate.
While researching a story on the Democratic Leadership Council for the internet magazine Black Commentator in April and May of 2003, I ran across the DLC's “100 to Watch” list for 2003, in which Barack Obama was prominently featured as one of the DLC's favorite “rising stars”. This was ominous news because the DLC was and still is the right wing's Trojan Horse inside the Democratic party.

Read the rest here~~~


Quinty said...

Actually, the defense budget went down slightly under Bill Clinton, from approx 398 or 9 to approx 397 billion. Remember the “peace dividend?” Under Bush the defense budget has blown its top. Are we preparing for an intergalactic war or arms race with Mars and several distant planets?

Can anyone explain why we need such an immense military, except to prop up our empire, keep the defense contractors happy, and create a national climate of fear in the face of an enormous unseen enemy?

Obama ran for the US Senate in Illinois as a progressive. Once in the Senate he veered closer to the center.

The thing about promising change and a new beginning in an an inspiring way - without being too specific - is that the listener can fill in the blanks, believing the eloquent orator up on the stage will provide him with what he hopes for. Several Republicans have become “Obamicrans.” And have joined the parade. But don’t they know that Obama is a liberal? And once Obama has “brought us together” - how very nice that is - will he bring us a Republican paradise or a Progressive paradise? He often compares his “movement” to progressive movements in the past, regarding civil rights, women’s rights, etc. This shouldn’t be the kind of music Republicans want to hear. But if he, Obama, is playing such a sweet melodious tune then perhaps any dreamer can interpret it however he wishes.

Here some sites.......

Obama’s “specifics” on his webpage:

Project Vote Smart , for votes on bills.....

ADA gives both Clinton and Obama %75 ratings. At least that is what appears on this chart -

Though some columnists and pundits have claimed Obama came in at the top. (This will be a rightwing talking point in the general election: that Obama is “the most liberal” senator in the Senate.) Those receiving %100 from ADA are Stabenow, Klobuchar, and Casey. Dick Durbin (from Illinois) gets a higher ranking too - %95.

The National Journal places Obama at number 1.

I don’t know who these people are. But Common Dreams seems to think they are reputable. The right, let’s not forget, will try to make Obama appear further to the left than Lenin.

Either the DLC has gone further to the right in recent years or they are relatively moderate, like old fashioned liberal Republicans. (That’s moderate?) I associate the Clintons entirely with the DLC. Didn’t Bill help found it? Gov. Richardson of New Mexico is DLC by the way. I doubt they are quite as rightwing as Dixon describes it.

Quinty said...


That may be 297 billion rather than 398...

But what Bush has done is astronomical! Even 398 seems modest by comparison....

Quinty said...

One of the reasons why I oppose Hillary is because of her husband’s links to the DLC.

Perhaps she’s further to the left and will break away from all this. But judging by how she has danced around, “triangulating,” offering at least her moral support to the Christian right (the Clintons are great at feeling other people’s pain, but rarely do anything about it - look at welfare “reform.”) there’s not much of a visible cause for encouragement.

Yes, I’m tired of the Clintons, and their “third way.” Is Hillary DLC? Does anyone know?


Yes, actually she is. There she is in living color....

She's a Director of the DLC......

jazzolog said...

There's been great response to the post yesterday about Barack Obama. Almost all of it has been private emails expressing concerns similar to mine. Thank you for them. Some of us, as usual, have seen the candidates to whom we could relate most knocked and dropped out by now. I had hoped so-called Progressives would produce somebody who could go the distance...but that's a pipe dream compared to the apparent purchase price of the office. So with old, belligerent McCain the obvious Repub nominee, we're left with him or these 2 still standing for the Dems. The replies I got don't show enthusiastic cheering for anybody.

At this point I haven't seen rebuttal to the remarks about Obama at the Black Agenda Report . A couple comments have been left at the article by his supporters and perhaps they will inspire more debate at the site. I imagine there are blogs and message boards all over the Internet where similar discussion is going on and I'd love links to them if you're tuned in.

The picture is of Stephanie Miller and Ed Schultz both of whom have progressive talk shows carried in the Athens area on 770 AM WAIS. The station has no website---and so doesn't stream---nor email address and is largely in the hands of Libertarians, but fair-minded enough (so far) to carry all of Ed Schultz (3 until 6 our time) and an hour of Stephanie Miller (10:00 AM, although there are rumblings to get rid of it).

Yesterday Obama was a phone guest on Ed Schultz. I thought the host asked him a series of tough and objective questions. Chief among them was asking his response to the big news item yesterday about plagiarized sections of his stump speeches.,1,7458699.story I thought Obama's response was condescending, showing the brush-off style we're unfortunately used to in our politicians. He said he was just "riffing" on a theme developed by his buddy Deval Patrick in Massachusetts, and they do that all the time. Ed let it go, but callers to the show spent the next 2 hours talking about it.

I suppose the concern is a trust issue. This country has been burned bad by lies and spin and justifications. I'd hope somebody like Barack Obama---or at least how he's supposed to be---would understand that and be more gentle with such a concern. Apparently later in the day, as the whole story got bigger, he did announce he should have credited his friend with the line.

Ed Schultz had great interest, as probably many of us did, in the candidacy of Dennis Kucinich. He invited all candidates to come to his studio for the full 3 hours, to take questions from callers. Only Kucinich took him up on it, and it was a brilliant show. Today on the program, there is the promise (at last) that the Hillary Clinton campaign will be represented officially. It's possible she's talked with the show once or twice but I'm not sure. Obama has been on a lot. That tells me something...and it's a difference between these 2 similar candidates.

Kucinich, by the way, has his hands full campaigning for re-election. When his people called us for money the other day, I asked where all these rivals came from. I asked if his own party was trying to get rid of him. The caller confessed she wondered that too. I find it tragic that political philosophies such as his have become so radical in this country. They used to be commonplace.

mowrey said...

No, Flip Phillips is the answer, Pops.

Quinty said...

If you do a Google search under Kucinich AIPAC and Pelosi you will get many hits.

This one seems to rebut them all.... (After Downing Street is pretty good, isn't it?)

Pelosi and AIPAC of course are very close. But what do the voters in Kucinich's district think?

jazzolog said...

Mowrey may be right if you're wandering lost and astray. Spanish for that condition is "perdido" which is the name of a Flip Phillips performance back in the day when he famously went wild on his tenor and changed the face of the earth.

Otherwise I got a most interesting email yesterday from a friend who's taking a year away from OU to teach government courses elsewhere. She recommends a blog called ObsidianWings, one of whose main contributors is Hilzoy. My friend tells me this actually is Hilary Bok, Henry R. Luce Professor of Bioethics and Moral & Political Theory at Johns Hopkins University, and granddaughter of Gunnar Myrdal. She sent Dr. Bok the link to Black Agenda Report and got this reply, which Hilzoy has OK'd for posting here~~~

Hilary Bok says: "I'm for Obama. Originally I thought: hey, two great candidates, but one is totally stellar and the other is merely great. More recently, the way Clinton has run her campaign has made me more wary of her; I think her decision-making and management has been awful, and I worry that that would not change were she to run the federal government. I'd vote for her in a heartbeat over any Republican, but less enthusiastically than I would have a couple of months ago. It's kind of odd for me: I came to Obama via policy, and so the 'oh, he has no substance' thing is just bizarre to me, as is the 'his supporters are just airy kids easily swayed by rhetoric.'"

Here is a link to a piece by Hilary Bok at ObsidianWings about why she supports Obama:

Quinty said...

If I may comment on some of your friend’s observations......

One thing about Hillary we should never forget: she’s a Director of the DLC. (When all this began to roll about a year ago I immediately eliminated Richardson simply because he belonged to the DLC. Do we want a moderate Republican, a “triangulator,” in the White House?)

On Barrack opposing the war. Well, several millions of us did during the run up. I remember all that clearly, the sense of urgency so many of us felt, for it appeared there would be no stopping Bush. He wouldn’t “take yes for an answer,” as we joked back then, each time he made an increasingly difficult demand on Saddam. (Vax is right about one thing: the sanctions killed an enourmous number of Iraqi children. They were inhuman, useless, and expressive of the third world bullying the United States has often engaged in over the years.) To get back to Barrack, yes, it was easy to oppose the war if you were not particularly prominent at the time. The question becoming, would he have stood up with Senator Robert Byrd in the empty Senate to speak out against it in 2002? Hillary, we know, sought cover. (More guile and cynicism on her part.) As did just about everyone in the public eye. My point being, there was far less pressure on Barack at the time than on Hillary, so, to give her her due, there may not be an even balance in the comparison. Though Barack’s friendship with Rashid Khalidi in Chicago is very encouraging. I wonder what the Israel Firsters will do with that? And how Barack, if it becomes an issue, will reply.

Did anyone catch the “endorsement” a Texas state senator gave Obama on MSNBC last night? Chris Matthews asked him what Obama had accomplished in the US Senate. His spokesman couldn’t name one thing. He didn’t know. No one on the panel thought to direct the viewer to Obama’s web site. That terribly humiliating gaff may endure(???) in the ads against Obama. Michelle’s recent gaff has outdone the plagiarism charge among the right as proof Obama is an America hater. Probably French.

I think - like every great president - Obama is fundamentally about process. Roosevelt and Lincoln started with only vague goals and ideas. And some definite objectives: such as to save the Union and to end the Depression. But neither had a fixed plan when he started out. Obama - it seems to me - is revealing the same approach. And Lincoln eventually redefined democracy in a transcendent manner. While Roosevelt attempted any practical means he could to end the Depression. (Saving capitalism too, perhaps.) In other words, they developed along with their presidencies in a creative way.

Of course our hopes have been elevated. And we expect much. What’s more, his lack of precision permits his listeners to interject their own personal desires into his words. And this is, naturally enough, unsettling. For the question becomes will Obama bring each one of us the program he hopes for once he becomes president? There are even Republicans projecting their desires onto Obama too. It’s hard to believe, isn’t it, that Obama will offer them Republican solutions, unless he’s a triangulator too. That, triangulation, being the last thing in the world we need now. But how can he obtain his coalition, the one he constantly promises us in his speeches, without accommodating? That’s what politics is all about, after all. But if he gets this huge surge, popular movement (“Yes we can”) behind him then he may obtain a sufficient amount of political clout to actually impose his progressive policies in the name of common sense. Practicality. And as the voice and will of the people.

Is that what will happen? What he hopes for? To go into the White House with enough public support to truly shake things up?