Culture War Dispatches

from a Progressive People's Republic

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

False Claim?

Media Matters Summary:

Numerous conservative radio hosts, including Chris Baker, Sean Hannity, Mark Levin, Jim Quinn, Michael Savage and Brian Sussman, echoed the false claim, originating on the Drudge Report, that Sen. Barack Obama said in a 2001 interview that he regretted that the Supreme Court has not addressed the redistribution of wealth. In fact, the "traged[y]" Obama identified during the interview was that the civil rights movement "became so court-focused" in trying to bring about political and economic justice.

What Obama said:

One of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil-rights movement was because the civil-rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change.


I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts.


The Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.

To simplify the first quote: it's a tragedy that because A happened, therefore B. The important part of the sentence is the therefore B, i.e., they didn't "bring about redistributive change." The first part demands a conclusion. It makes no sense without the second part of the sentence--there is nothing inherently tragic about becoming "court-focussed." It is tragic to Obama because they didn't achieve the aim of redistribution.

Media Matters simply ignores Obama's conclusion, misrepresenting his argument and slandering those who interpret it correctly.

Furthermore the phrase "economic justice," used by Media Matters (and Obama), is synonymous with redistribution. Their argument comes down to, Obama said nothing about redistribution. He was just talking about economic justice.

In the second and third quotes are slightly ambiguous. Out of context one might argue that, as MM claims, he never "regretted that the Supreme Court has not address the redistribution of wealth." But in conjunction with the first quote it's hard to argue that he sees "major redistributive change" as anything but positive. It's clear that Media Matters is the one making the false claim.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Colin Powell Endorses Obama

I take issue with three points Powell made (and of course his final choice of candidate)

1. The GOP has moved to the right

Colin Powell is very much in the moderate Republican camp, so there may be many Republicans to his right, but I know that the 20 million in Rush Limbaugh's audience would groan about the idea that the GOP has moved too far to the right. President Bush's approval ratings are so low because in addition to being hated by Democrats, he is seen by conservatives as failing to reign in government spending. As for the idea that John McCain is too far to the've got to be kidding. Basically there is no small government conservative in the race (apart from Sarah Palin, and I'm not sure about her). John McCain talks about buying people's mortgages and enforcing Kyoto--he may be to the right of the most liberal member of the Senate but he's not a Ronald Reagan conservative. I think rather that the GOP has moved to the left, and the left has moved from somewhere left of center to the far left. As Reagan said, "I didn't leave the Democrat party--it left me." I have no doubt that Harry Truman and JFK would be Republicans today. The hard left--the Daily Kos, Media Matters, Al Gore climate alarmists, Michael Moore, Bill Ayers, ACORN, Keith Olbermann left-- has a respectability in today's Democrat party that is astounding and revolting. In 1965 these people would be a kook fringe--today they are mainstream.

2. Bill Ayers

Powell and most mainstream media commentators miss the point of Ayers. Nobody seriously thinks that Barack Obama is an undercover domestic terrorist. But Obama's defense that he was 8 years old doesn't cut it for me. For one, Ayers was still bombing in 1981, when Barack was in his 20s. But the point is not the Weathermen but what Ayers has done since then. He took the Saul Alinsky Rules for Radicals to heart, got himself an education degree and started "the long march through the institutions." Revolution from within. Rather than march in the streets and throw bombs, you infiltrate the educational institutions, and indoctrinate American children so that they grow up believing your radical conceptions about social justice and how the US of Amerikkka is an evil place. From what I can gather Ayers subverted the Annenberg money and donated it to radical groups who did absolutely nothing to improve the students' education. And guess who was his right hand man during this time--Barack Obama. Bill Ayers wasn't some guy who lived in the neighborhood--they worked together on a radical education project. Obama has such a meager record and he refuses to release information about his past and I am afraid that many people who vote for him would not vote for him if he was forthright about his beliefs. The stealth candidate. His socialist leanings slip out on occasion, like when he tells Joe the Plumber that he wants to "spread the wealth." Stanley Kurtz at National Review has written extensively on this but nothing has appeared in the mainstream media.

I also take issue with Powell that the McCain campaign is wrong to bring up the subject of Bill Ayers. While the press has been camped out in Wasilla investigating rape kits, and going through Joe the Plumber's tax records, no one is looking at the unsavory cast of characters surrounding Obama. Ayers--a murderer who bombed the Pentagon, was involved in a bank robbery where a cop was killed, who says he didn't kill enough. Tony Rezko, a gangster who helped Obama buy his house. ACORN--involved in perhaps hundreds of thousands of fraudulent voter registrations in this election, and implicated in the subprime mortgage mess because of their racist blackmail of mortgage companies. Jeremiah Wright--a racist anti-semite preacher who despises America. If Obama was a Republican, ACORN and Jeremiah Wright would have been on the front page of the New York Times every day for the duration of the campaign. Obama should have been immediately disqualified as unsuitable for office. And instead, the press and people like Powell somehow find fault with McCain for occasionally mentioning these connections--although McCain for some unfathomable reason has put J. Wright out of bounds. Obama has a "fight the smears" website, but he's the one who smears constantly, who plays the race card and calls any critic a racist. He is not a transformational figure as Powell says. He is not "inclusive" as Powell says--he's a Chicago politician who plays hardball politics and tries to destroy anyone who gets in his way.

3. "Obama is a not Muslim and even so, there's nothing wrong with being a Muslim"

I agree. The story about the Muslim soldier killed in Iraq was a touching plea for anti-discrimination but is not germane to why we should vote for Obama.
Barack is a Christian (if you can call J. Wright's church Christian)--and the fact that he has a Muslim connection in his childhood is not a reason to vote against him. It is true that Obama's father was Muslim and he was registered at a madrassa in Indonesia as a Muslim and he has called the muslim call to prayer the sweetest sound on earth. Nothing wrong with this, but it is not a paranoid fantasy to mention that Obama has affinity to muslims. It is also clear that every (?) muslim country is hoping Obama wins. This could be positive if you believe that Obama can resolve diplomatic problems by force of his personality, or negative if you worry that hostile countries like Iran think Obama will be a pushover and will side with them against Israel.

But I think Powell is using a straw man argument. He says "some Republicans'" -- but not McCain -- whisper that Obama is Muslim. "Some Republicans" are not running for President. Some Democrats are comparing John McCain to George Wallace--and Obama is still called "inclusive" -- no criticism by the press--even though his campaign has repeatedly played the race card.

Darker aspects of the Palin persona

George Bush is Hitler, John McCain is George Wallace and now, according to a blogger on today’s Globe’s VoxOp column, there is a “darker aspect of the Palin persona” that delivered a “Joe-McCarthy-like innuendo …trying to link Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to ‘terrorists.’"

Isn’t it terrible how those nasty Republicans can only win by smearing their opponents?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

John McCain plays the Arab card

The Globe published two letters today full of outrage over an incident where John McCain called Obama "a decent guy." The writers were both offended because McCain's comment followed someone in the crowd accusing Obama of being an Arab (which he is), so therefore it's obvious that John McCain was going out of his way to insult Arabs. Oy!

Move along folks, nothing inappropriate here

Bob McCarthy may be proud of his association with Bill Ayers, but he misses the essential point when he claims, “Nothing has been found to suggest anything inappropriate in the volunteer projects in which [Ayers and Obama] were involved during the 1990s” (Globe letter 10/13/08). The Chicago Annenberg Project was not “inappropriate,” as in illegal or immoral, but, as Stanley Kurtz and others have argued, it failed abysmally in its mission to “improve educational opportunities for all of Chicago's children” because Obama and Ayers turned it into a radical project to use public education to promote a left-wing agenda. If this is the kind of person you want to lead our country, by all means, vote Obama. But don’t expect President Obama to be a post-racial non-partisan moderate.

Derrick Jackson Plays the Race Card

When I heard Congressman John Lewis's outrageous comparison of McCain and George Wallace, I assumed sane people everywhere would dismiss it as the ravings of a civil rights hero who has lost his mind. I forgot about Derrick Jackson, who today repeats this libel in "John McCain Plays the Race Card." Accusing Barack Obama's critics of being racists is the ultimate race card.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Stop Making Sense

James Carroll struggles to make sense of our $700 billion military budget by imagining stacks of hundred dollar bills. Here’s another way of looking at it: for each of 300 million Americans, it costs $2,333 a year, or $6.39 a day to keep us safe in a dangerous world. In addition, Mr. Carroll neglects to point out that many countries around the world have small defense budgets because they rely on the American military, funded by American taxpayers, for their defense.