This will be my last post dealing with election politics. I just wanted to make one last retrospective argument concerning wealth and class envy.
It seems that Barack Obama has been hit hard by the McCain camp's charges of socialism. His latest rebuttal (after unsuccessfully attempting to denigrate "Joe The Plumber" Werzelbacher as a loser who could never possibly earn $250,000 a year) is that anyone complaining about tax rate increases is selfish.
There is anger and frustration among ordinary Americans over tax increases, but it is not because of selfishness. It is because of reality -- only an idiot would believe that the minority of taxpayers taking home $250,000 (or is it $200,000 or $150,000 or $120,000?) or more will be the only group of people to bear the cost of Obama's colossal government expansion. And it is because of resentment. We don't resent those with wealth per se, but we certainly resent an erudite cadre of wealthy, elitist lawyers, tenured professors, political consultants, and politicians telling us what to do with our money. The Anchoress summed it up perfectly some years ago:
Every weekend I meander through the New York Times [...] And every weekend I finally close the paper and think, this is a publication which editorializes on the evils of capitalism while it praises European-style socialism, and foments class resentment between the rich and the poor…and it disdains middle-class Republicans like me…and yet it is chock-full of people so rich I have never heard of them, people who breathe such rarified air and move in such insulated little conclaves that I would only be likely to encounter them face to face if I rammed into them on the Long Island Expressway as they moved back and forth between Town and Country, between Sotheby’s Manhattan and Sotheby’s Southhampton, so to speak. The paper prostrates itself before the public-education devotees who send their children to private schools and the illegal immigrant sympathizers who have bought up the last private beachfronts in Montauk, inviting those brown-skinned Catholics onto their property only long-enough to erect the high walls of their fortresses or to stain their decks.
I, in my middle class world, with my callused-handed husband and my Eagle Scout son, and the friends with whom we volunteer at church and in the community, do not begrudge the hyper-rich their riches.
What we do begrudge them is their “superior” disdain for our values, and their hectoring that we are somehow less compassionate, less well-meaning, gosh darn it just LESSER people because we believe in giving a hand, rather than a hand-out.
I mind gazillionaires like Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, Jon Corzine and Hillary “we’re going to have to take some things away from you for the common good” Clinton pretending that our yearly income, our solidly middle-class income (and very modest emergency fund) is too, too much for us, unfair to others, undertaxed, greedy, ignoble and selfish. I mind people who are bouncing on fluffy pillows of honest-to-goodness wealth shaking a rhetorical finger at us for daring to try to get comfortable on our foam rubber mats of hard-earned wages. (emphasis added)
And do you know what really gets under our skin? I'll let Peggy Noonan handle that one:
I suspect that history, including great historical novelists of the future, will look back and see that many of our elites simply decided to enjoy their lives while they waited for the next chapter of trouble. And that they consciously, or unconsciously, took grim comfort in this thought: I got mine. Which is what the separate peace comes down to, "I got mine, you get yours."
I think that many of us know, deep down inside, that people like Michelle and Barack Obama, who earn a combined annual income comfortably in the 7-figure range, are more or less insulated from the financial affects of the public policies that they support. We know that any "solutions" proposed by Ted Kennedy to our current health care problems ultimately matter little to Kennedy himself, because his family connections, political connections, and personal wealth ensure that his personal medical care will always be the finest available, regardless of location or procedure or cost. We know that the opinions of billionaires like George Soros or Warren Buffett or Bill Gates on tax policies are essentially meaningless because they will still be billionaires, regardless of what the tax code says. Likewise with Hollywood celebrities.
We also know this because this select group of people, with rare exception and seemingly in inverse proportion to both their physical health and their publicly-expressed concern for the poor, are themselves embarrassingly weak benefactors of charity. They are also notorious for exploiting every possible tax loophole, all the while complaining that the rich don't "pay their fair share" in taxes. What did John Edwards, champion of the poor, do during the 1990s when his lawsuit windfalls began to roll in? He formed an S-corporation in order to avoid paying hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes. Why did Ted Kennedy probate his mother's estate in Florida, even though she had been a lifelong resident of Massachusetts? Florida has no state inheritance tax. And neither John Kerry nor Ted Kennedy pay the optional higher 5.85% Massachusetts state income tax rate. And so on and so on.
We know that the super-rich will not really be affected by income and payroll tax increases, simply because such increases do not affect their principal wealth. Even if the very rich were income taxed at a rate of 100%, they would still be able to live very, very comfortably off the value of their enormous reserves of stocks, bonds, precious metals, cash, real estate, fine art, and other investments.
Perhaps they'll owe a little more under Obama's plans, but they've got theirs, and the enormity of their fortunes means that most of their money will be securely tucked away in tax shelters. And what happens to the rest of us really doesn't matter to them as long as they've paid just enough to assuage their slightly-guilty consciences.
The people who really get nailed under the high marginal taxes and estate taxes of "spread the wealth" schemes are the professionals and successful business owners who have just barely crossed over the $150,000 to $200,000 per year earnings threshold. These people will find themselves working harder to earn substantially less, permanently stuck with enough money to live comfortably, but never really earning enough to fund a retirement account that will allow them to continue to live that way after they retire, or able to accumulate enough to afford their children a comfortable inheritance. And they are the ones whose children will never have enough cash reserves to pay both extended/elderly care costs (such as nursing homes) for their parents, and estate taxes on real property or a business. This is the scenario that hits farmers and ranchers particularly hard. If a son or daughter inherits a farm valued at $2 million, where are they going to come up with the $500,000 or $750,000 in estate taxes for the government?
You may ask, what's so wrong with that? There are tens of millions of people in this country who spend their lives mired in poverty. Why should anyone support the idea that some people should be free to grow rich while others struggle from day to day?
I think the answer is two-fold. First, our nation has never enforced the principle of redistribution of wealth by the Federal government. Our Constitution was written in order to specifically define how our government would function, and to enumerate specific rights of citizens that could not be infringed by that government. The Constitution creates a Federal government that, for the most part, is limited in its ability to interfere in people's lives. It also implies that what is yours is yours, not the government's (or euphemistically, "the people's"). Under such a system, some will prosper and some will fail, but their failure cannot be attributed to persecution or limits on their individual freedoms imposed by the Federal government. In fact, under our system, state governments have more direct control over the rights of their citizens -- it was the state governments in the South that enacted "Jim Crow" laws; yet it took action at the Federal level to ultimately overrule state's rights on that issue.
Barack Obama was exactly right when he said that our Constitution "doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf." He wants to see that changed, of course, but such a major Constitutional overhaul would give the Federal government an unprecedented and ultimately dangerous amount of power over our individual lives. I believe that the potential for the abuse of that power far outweighs any benefits to be gained from it.
Second, as a Christian I strongly object to other Christians attempting to use the government as a strong arm in order to enact their vision of social justice. Many Christians read about the equal partition of the Promised Land among the Israelites, and the communal nature of the early Jerusalem church as described in Acts, and conclude that God's plan for mankind is the equal distribution of wealth among all people. They then propose to task a benevolent centralized government with the administration of such a distribution plan. Unfortunately, the Bible contains no passages that support such a scheme. The New Testament teaches that Christians should peaceably co-exist within the framework of secular governments, and give generously to those in need, but it never teaches that Christians should co-opt those governments as a means of achieving their own ends. (Admittedly, the Church and much of Christendom has repeatedly failed in this regard.)
And in the Old Testament, God does indeed partition the land equally among the tribes of Israel, but He also clearly establishes that the land belongs to Him; the Israelites are merely tenants. They are forbidden from selling land in perpetuity, and whatever land is sold or mortgaged is to be returned to its original owners every 50 years. Therefore, whenever land is sold or mortgaged, its value is to be prorated according to the proximity of the 50 year Jubilee. The Israelites are also required to pay the Temple (i.e. God) an annual tithe of 10% of everything they own. (The Old Testament narratives indicate that the Israelites also failed to honor these commandments, just like the Christian church throughout the ages.) And God specifically requires His people to be generous with the poor and to refrain from profiting from their misfortune. Yet outside of these requirements, the children of Israel are allowed to honestly earn whatever they can, and -- with the previously noted exception of possessions that have been borrowed or purchased from others -- God never commands His people to redistribute their own personal wealth.
There is also one other thing. Redistribution of wealth schemes will do little to solve the primary affliction suffered by the poor in this country -- civic poverty -- which is the belief that they are irrelevant to the course of events in their communities. Civic poverty is most prominently displayed among African-Americans, who suffered persecution and loss of basic civil rights in this country for over a century after they had been freed from slavery. Even though civil rights laws have been amended, and even though academia and the professional workforce has striven to provide affirmative action and equal opportunities for Blacks during the last 40 years, there is still (particularly at the lowest economic levels) a basic distrust of America, its government and its financial systems among Blacks.
So far, all of our attempts to fight poverty have involved material solutions. And honestly, our poor enjoy a much better standard of living that average working-class citizens in many nations. But no one has been able to explain to me how a massive, materially-oriented redistribution of wealth scheme will somehow make the lives of the civically impoverished any better. Theirs is an emotional and spiritual deficit, and money will not make the hurt and distrust disappear, nor will it mend broken families or dysfunctional communities of any kind. In fact, I believe that such a scheme would make the lives of the civically impoverished even more miserable, because receiving free money with no required interaction could very well create an even greater temptation to stay disconnected from society at large.
So how do we fight civic poverty? The same way that Jesus taught us to spread his Gospel -- through relationships. By listening. By lending a hand whenever people are truly in need. By teaching others self-worth and self-respect. By helping people overcome addictions and hangups. In short, by getting our hands dirty, making ourselves vulnerable, and doing it all voluntarily, without coercion or intimidation from the government.
Such a solution is difficult, frustrating, painfully slow and seemingly hopeless. You can't accomplish it simply by writing a check or creating a government bureaucracy and then hoping everything works out OK. Is America capable of such a task, right now? Probably not. Certainly not without a spiritual awakening and revival, which is what I pray for daily for my own life and for our nation. Shouldn't we do something in the mean time, then? Yes, but only if our stop-gap measure is not worse than the problem at hand. I believe that socialism -- even non-violent, "democratic" socialism approved by voters -- is not the answer, because it only alters behavior by force of law; it does not fundamentally improve the character or spirit of its subjects. And it takes our allegiance away from God and lessens our responsibility for each other, since socialism recasts government as the ultimate owner of all wealth, and, subsequently, the sole source of our livelihood and well-being. When we turn the state into a God, we are not doing His will.
That's what I believe, and that's why I cannot support redistribution of wealth as a solution to America's current financial and spiritual problems. Please join me in praying for a better way.
Conservative blogs are going wild over an excerpt from a 2001 interview with Barack Obama that was originally broadcast on Chicago Public Radio, WBEZ. Here is what Obama says that is so stunning:
My first reaction when I read this quote this morning was simply, "Okay, now we know what the Obama "litmus test" for Supreme Court justice nominees will be."
Sure, Obama says that the Court itself cannot specifically order the confiscation and redistribution of wealth. That would be unconstitutional. But the massive power grabs that Congress must necessarily impose in order to make socialism a reality here in the USA will certainly generate numerous individual lawsuits challenging their constitutionality.
Just as FDR packed the Supreme Court with sympathetic justices in order to legitimize the Constitutionality of the New Deal, so must Barack Obama pack his Supreme Court with socialist justices, in order to legitimize his redistribution plans. Someone has to keep discovering and defending those emanations and penumbras.
I also believe that any appellate court justice who embraces the notion of "social justice" through the government-enforced redistribution of wealth would, almost without exception, support government-sanctioned abortion on demand. Therefore the abortion "litmus test" is redundant and can probably be ignored. This will be to Obama's advantage, as it could make his appointees more palatable to the Religious Right.
What Obama actually seems to be advocating is a rebirth of the Poor People's Campaign, which was about to be undertaken by Martin Luther King, Jr. at the time of his assassination. The PPC was focused on the plight of all poor Americans, regardless of race or geographic location. King's plans included a demand for an "Economic Bill of Rights" that, among other things, guaranteed a living wage-based permanent income for the poor. You should also recall that Dr. King unapologetically supported government-sanctioned wealth redistribution and himself wrote, "good and just society is neither the thesis of capitalism nor the antithesis of communism, but a socially conscious democracy which reconciles the truths of individualism and collectivism."
MLK is considered a modern-day prophet. Could Obama's embrace of MLK's ultimate fight be the deed that elevates Obama to the level of modern-day Messiah?
In America, we have a Constitution that was written by a group of men whose lives had been deeply affected by persecution at the hands of various government and religious groups. The men who wrote the Constitution wanted to make sure that future generations did not suffer from persecution as they had. That's why they wrote the Constitution in a way that stressed the limits of the government. They wanted to ensure that the government of the United States never directly interfered with the ability of its individual citizens to fully enjoy life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Has America been perfect in this regard? Of course not. Our economy has occasionally been overtaken by robber-barons. Our citizens once held slaves. Local and state governments used denial of the franchise as a powerful political weapon. Our Federal government stood by while its citizens faced discrimination and persecution. And in some cases, the government led that persecution. But even for all our failings, the principle of freedom for the individual has never been abolished.
But Barack Obama wants to change that. To Obama, the failure of the Supreme Court to eliminate the limiting character of the Constitution is a tragedy! Obama wants a Constitution that empowers the government, rather than limiting it. He wants a Constitution that gives the Federal Government a mandate to guarantee financial equity and equality of outcome for all Americans, presumably with an unlimited scope of power in order to be able to enforce that mandate. And he believes that such a Constitution is the only hope for the collective salvation of our nation.
This is, in short, the most radical vision for "reinventing government" ever articulated by a major (and currently leading) Presidential candidate. And it scares the living hell out of me.
But Mike, if you're really a Christian, don't you want to see hunger and hopelessness abolished? Don't you want to see an end to the suffering of the working poor? Don't you want to see everyone have a fair chance?
Absolutely. And I have been involved in Christian social justice efforts here in Oklahoma City for about two years now. I have even attended community organizing meetings. But I would like to see true change, brought about by spiritual revival and the work of the Holy Spirit, not government mandates. Because such mandates will give the Federal Government an incredibly dangerous amount of power over our bank accounts, our income, and our private lives. And trust me, it will be used to punish those who don't toe the party line -- regardless of what party is in control. That kind of a power grab by the Federal Government is not a manifestation of "holiness," nor is it "justice," nor will it increase freedom or security for anyone. We don't need it and I don't want it. Period.
ADDED: If you want to understand the dangers of giving government absolute power to enforce its own definition of "fairness," then you should watch this disturbing video, part of a 1982 documentary on the Weather Underground -- the group co-founded and led by Barack Obama's mentor Bill Ayers -- entitled No Place To Hide:
It features former FBI informant Larry Grathwohl, who infiltrated the Weather Underground and helped law enforcement put an end to their terrorist activities. Grathwohl's tips stopped several attempted bombing attacks by the group. In the video, Grathwohl describes a high-level group meeting held by the group to discuss the logistics of the American People's Revolution that they were attempting to lead:
I brought up the subject of what’s going to happen after we take over the government. You know, “we” become responsible then for administrating, you know, 250 million people. And there was no answer. No one had given any thought to economics, how you are going to clothe and feed these people.
The only thing that I could get was that they expected the Cubans and the North Vietnamese and the Chinese and the Russians would all want to occupy different portions of the United States. They also believed that their immediate responsibility would be to protect against what they called “the counter-revolution.”
… I asked, “well what is going to happen to those people we can’t reeducate, that are diehard capitalists?” and the reply was that they’d have to be eliminated.
And when I pursued this further, they estimated they would have to eliminate 25 million people in these reeducation centers.
And when I say “eliminate,” I mean “kill.”
Twenty-five million people.
I want you to imagine sitting in a room with 25 people, most of which have graduate degrees, from Columbia and other well-known educational centers, and hear them figuring out the logistics for the elimination of 25 million people.
And they were dead serious. (Emphasis added)
Liberals often accuse conservatives of being paranoid, suffering from delusions of Red Army bogeymen swooping down on America and locking everyone away in concentration camps. But we aren't making this stuff up. It has been discussed at the highest levels of academia and in all the major camps of the progressive movement. Does it not frighten you that a group of domestic terrorists, led by Ivy League-educated elites, sat around coldly planning the murder of 1 out of every 10 Americans for none other than purely political reasons? Does it not frighten you that the leader of that group mentored our current leading Presidential candidate? Does it not frighten you that government records were searched for evidence to discredit and destroy an ordinary citizen who dared to challenge that Presidential candidate? Does it not frighten you that the previous Democratic presidential candidate believes that the Communist reeducation camps set up in Vietnam were no big deal, because the former inmates of those camps are now "thriving?"
Maybe we'll end up like Sweden, with suffocating government control over education, career choices, employment opportunities, salaries, benefits, profit levels, and retirements, yet without the need for a secret police force, or armed troops in the streets, or "reeducation" camps. Maybe. But the truth is that the progressive intellectual and moral "brights" who walk the marble halls of our finest universities and political institutions seem to have no problem with "social justice" in America at any price, even the intimidation, imprisonment, and death of anyone who dares to oppose their vision of Utopia. If that's how we must achieve a "better America," then God help us all.
Among conservatives, the "story that won't die" about Barack Obama is the tale of his close ties to 60's radicals who still identify very strongly with Marxism. The biggie is William Ayres. Another radical who has now been linked to Obama is Michael Klonsky.
Anyone who has studied the Progressive movement in America, from its turn-of-the-twentieth-century origins up until today, should not be surprised that Marxism has always been the dominant philosophical influence of the contemporary American left. In other words, progressivism has always been synonymous with Marxist thought, particularly Marx's concern for the plight of the underpriviledged, under-educated, underpaid, and under-represented working class.
And just in case you haven't yet figured it out, progressivism and its core values of egalitarianism and benevolent distribution of wealth (as opposed to conservatism and its core values of peace through strength and the free market) is the dominant philosophy of America's "chattering class," those who craft and perpetuate our cultural mythos --philosophers, historians, social scientists, educators, journalists, artists, and entertainers. Thus our contemporary cultural narrative, as taught in universities, as expounded in editorial pages, as explored through songs and poems and films, is steeped in progressivism, and by extension, Marxist ideals.
But that wasn't always the case. The paradigm shift that brought about the wholesale conversion of the cultural chattering class to progressivism and Marxism was WWII, because the evils committed by Germany -- considered by many to be the cultural center of Western Europe -- caused the academic world to drastically re-think the theological, philosophical, and economic ideals that shaped Europe during its great period of colonial expansion during the 18th, 19th, and 20th centuries.
Western intellectuals tackled not only what went wrong in Germany, but also what was happening in lands that had long been oppressed by European colonial governments and military forces, specifically Africa, India, and Southeast Asia. Support for "people's revolutions" around the world grew rapidly among intellectuals, who by this time (the early 1960's) had begun to teach their students that the treatment of natives by Western colonial powers was just as evil as the oppression inflicted by the Nazis on the European nations that they conquered.
Thus a new generation of students was indoctrinated in the philosophies of Marx, and taught to believe that capitalism and military power were de facto marks of evil, and that the third world revolutionaries who promised political and cultural equality and financial equity for their people were truly the last best hope for freedom and stability in the world. "Baby Boomers" like William Ayres and Michael Klonsky were part of this new generation. They willfully ignored, and in many cases supported, the unmitigated use of violence that coincided with "people's revolutions," and stood unwaveringly behind any Communist regime that was opposed by the United States government. And in the late 1960's, the Baby Boomers became the dominant force behind American popular culture, which remains dominated by leftist ideals to this very day.
Another branch of progressivism, one that has been heavily involved in issues of social justice for more than a century, is populated by many Christian activists who have dedicated their lives to organizing and enabling the poor and oppressed. They are almost exclusively pacifist: while they support non-violent civil disobedience, they universally condemn warfare and the sale of arms and munitions for profit. They argue that the resources spent on warfare would be much better spent educating and equipping the poor, and breaking down the barriers between the different classes within our society. Christian progressives also espouse thrift, stewardship, charitable giving, and communal living. Dorothy Day's Hospitality Houses and Clarence Jordan's Koinonia Farm are two of the best known examples of Christian-oriented communal fellowship.
Because of their absolute refusal to support the U.S. military -- even for "just" causes such as the liberation of Europe from the Nazis -- and because of their continuing efforts in support of labor unions, community organizing, and unrestricted government benefits for the poor, Christian progressives have often been accused of being Communists; this was especially true during the "red scare" decade of the 1950's. In truth, many early Christian progressives did form partnerships with socialist and Communist activists, beginning with the period of economic and racial unrest that blanketed America after the First World War. Ironically, these Christians considered the nascent Communist movement to be one of their strongest allies in the struggle to give a voice to the working poor. (Today's evangelical Christians should use this curious fact as food for thought and discussion.)
Finally, black intellectuals have wrestled with the themes of socialism and government intervention for over a century. Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. DuBois led both sides of this debate: Washington argued that the black man was capable of achieving surpassing greatness if the government simply kept others from impeding him; DuBois felt that the government had an obligation to directly give back both the financial and social status that it had robbed from the black man. DuBois' side eventually won out, and his line of thinking culminated in the democratic socialism espoused by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and in the Affirmative Action programs implemented by the Federal Government.
So what does all of this have to do with Barack Obama? Well, it's rather simple really -- Barack Obama is the first major Presidential nominee who is entirely a product of these three main streams of progressivism: Afrocentric democratic socialism, Christian social justice and pacifism, and the Marxist ideal of worker-led revolution, or "change" if you prefer. Obama's mother was a self-proclaimed Bohemian free spirit, politically progressive and disdainful of traditional Protestant Christianity. Obama went to Ivy League schools and was heavily involved in community organizing and social justice issues. He was mentored by William Ayres and became a trusted peer, aiding Ayres in his attempts to reform the public education system in Chicago. He struggled to identify with the black community (which originally shunned him because he is Ivy League educated and half white) so he joined Rev. Jeremiah Wright's Trinity United Church of Christ, perhaps the most Afrocentric church in Chicago and unabashed practitioners of social justice, community organizing, and Black Liberation Theology.
Naturally, Barack Obama is going to have many associations with people whom conservatives would immediately label "communist." (And a few associations with people such as William Ayres, who describe themselves as full-blown revolutionaries and Communists.)
So what does all of this mean? Well, first off let me say that I don't expect an immediate "people's revolution" and the establishment of the Democratic Socialist States of America if Obama wins. But what is troubling to me is that on the campaign trail, Obama himself has never been straightforward about where he stands within the continuum of hard-left, left, and moderate-left ideals. "Joe The Plumber" Wurzelbacher coaxed Obama into accidentally admitting that he believes government has an obligation to "spread the wealth around." But what else does Obama believe? It's probably safe to say that he doesn't directly endorse the kind of violent Communist revolution that Bill Ayers was hoping for thirty five years ago. But exactly what does he want? This?
House Democrats recently invited Teresa Ghilarducci, a professor at the New School of Social Research, to testify before a subcommittee on her idea to eliminate the preferential tax treatment of the popular retirement plans. In place of 401(k) plans, she would have workers transfer their dough into government-created "guaranteed retirement accounts" for every worker. The government would deposit $600 (inflation indexed) every year into the GRAs. Each worker would also have to save 5 percent of pay into the accounts, to which the government would pay a measly 3 percent return.
Such a plan would of course make it impossible for workers and employers to afford to continue contributing to private 401(k) retirement accounts. And on top of potentially massive corporate income and capital gains tax increases, the loss of market capital from such a plan would be devastating not only to the stock market, but to our economy as a whole.
Also, Obama has pledged to slash defense spending, to eliminate new weapons systems development, and to pursue unilateral disarmament. He has even pledged to meet with the leaders of dangerous nations without preconditions. Just exactly what are his views on defense and the necessity of military preparedness? We really don't know.
The true danger in an Obama victory lies in the seriousness with which his star-struck radical leftist and Marxist supporters will interpret such a win. Will it be considered a "mandate" for hard-left public policies and a final attempt to purge the last traces of traditional conservative political thought, free market economics, and Protestant Christianity from contemporary American culture?
A sobering truth about progressivism is that it is fundamentally incompatible with free thought. Progressivism celebrates the triumph of the human intellect, and such a philosophical underpinning necessitates the creation of intellectual classes, particularly the "enlightened" vs. the "helpless" or "ignorant." The "brights" know that eventually the inferior intellectual classes will tire of being controlled. I absolutely believe that given enough access to government power, contemporary progressive intellectuals will try to stifle any dissent or inquiry that deviates from the progressive party line, because deep down inside they know that such chilling policies are the only way to keep the "non-enlightened" from becoming discontent with their intellectual overlords.
My concern about all of this can be summed up in one of Ronald Reagan's famous quotes -- it's not that our liberal friends are ignorant, it's just that they know so much that simply isn't true. If Barack Obama wins, we will have a perfect opportunity to find out just how much Progressives really know -- or don't have a common-sense clue about.
ADDED: Here's yet another video about Barack Obama that is being circulated through conservative blogs:
The video contains audio excerpts from a 1995 interview with Obama about his book Dreams of My Father. During the interview, Obama uses a favorite stereotype of progressives -- the "white executive" who lives out in the suburbs because he "doesn't want to pay taxes to inner city children." (I wonder what Obama thinks today, about his own Rev. Jeremiah Wright moving to one of Chicago's choicest suburbs?)
Obama also articulates the belief that his own salvation is dependent upon "a collective salvation of the country," which in turn is directly related to the elimination of systems that allow certain groups to prosper, while other groups (specifically African-Americans) are doing "bad if not worse."
How do we save the country? We "make sacrifices."
Obama is not just espousing Marxism here. Obama's statements also represent one of the fundamental tenants of Liberation Theology, which is that God not only judges individuals, but nations (that is, communities bound by covenant in the Old Testament sense, not just modern nation-states). The "Black Liberation Theology" of James Cone that Rev. Jeremiah Wright so fervently taught to his flock at Trinity UCC is simply an Afrocentric variation of classic liberation theology.
Liberation theology expands the definition of "sin" beyond personal transgressions; it teaches that communities can collectively sin, based on how they treat the least among themselves. (Recall that God judged the entire nation of Egypt, not just Pharaoh.) Liberation theologians teach that even though God's plan for personal salvation has been fulfilled through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, God's nature is consistent, and He still judges righteousness collectively, just as He did in the Old Testament -- specifically among communities who claim to follow Him and whose leaders publicly pray for His guidance. Under such a standard, of course, the United States stands to be judged most harshly by God; this makes American liberation theologians particularly fearful, because there have always been drastic inequalities between the poorest and the richest in our nation.
I have blogged about economic injustice and God's judgment of nations elsewhere. And while I agree with much of what liberation theology teaches, I am strongly concerned about the Marxist plans that Obama and his minions have for America. There is a massive difference between a people led to justice through the work of the Holy Spirit voluntarily sacrificing in order to create equality and security among their bretheren, and a group of ruling elites forcing the masses to "sacrifice" in order to feed an enormous, inefficient, and corrupt bureaucracy. Such a system is guaranteed to make everyone poorer, and to do little else.
The past week has given us a nice selection of textbook examples of media bias. And not surprisingly, they all revolve around a common theme.
I'm going to warn you right off that right now, I'm mad as hell. So bear with me.
First, the State of Hawaii suspended its state-financed universal health care program for children. After only seven months -- SEVEN MONTHS -- cost overruns and abuse of the system forced the program to end. SEVEN MONTHS. This is huge. I mean REALLY BIG -- socialized medicine fails in a state that ranks 42nd in population, with only 1.2 million residents.
And why did it fail? Would you believe ... "People who were already able to afford health care began to stop paying for it so they could get it for free," said Dr. Kenny Fink, the administrator for Med-QUEST at the Department of Human Services. "I don't believe that was the intent of the program."
No shit, Sherlock. But can you blame them? Think about it. You and your wife both work, you make a decent living, and then get gouged by the government through taxes so you can have the privilege of paying for someone else's health care, while barely being able to afford your own. Who wouldn't want to get back just a little of what they were forced to pay into the system?
This story ended up on the AP wire and was covered by numerous news outlets, but the New York Times just couldn't seem find room for it among all the dirt they were dying to publish about Cindy McCain and Joe the Plumber. More about him later.
The reason for this, of course, is that the failure of socialized medicine in Hawaii doesn't fit "the narrative." It doesn't jibe with the image of the compassionate Big Rock Candy Government lending a helping hand to anyone in need, and the unteachable, pitifully-ignorant masses wiping the tears from their eyes and kissing the feet of their Dear Leaders, unspeakably grateful to them for "leveling the playing field" and "spreading the wealth around."
The next item is the endorsement of Barack Obama by Colin Powell. Powell is a Republican (Ooooooooo!) and served as Secretary of State during George W. Bush's first term, so the cable networks, mainstream media bloggers, and newspapers have been wild with anticipation about it all weekend -- there used to be a lot of buzz among Republicans about a Colin Powell presidential run, and if Powell is endorsing Obama, then that must mean that a lot of Republicans will give Obama a second look, and if that happens ... so you see why the mainstream media is so excited.
Now let's look at another interesting political endorsement -- the endorsement of John McCain by JOE LIEBERMAN. Remember him? The 2000 DEMOCRAT VICE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE? Bet you didn't even hear about that endorsement, unless you read a lot of conservative blogs. Where is the media hype? Where is the buzz? Where is the day-in/day-out news cycle coverage of his continued campaigning for McCain? Why isn't every Sunday talking-head show chattering endlessly about it?
I'll tell you why -- if Lieberman is endorsing McCain, then a lot of disgruntled/PUMA/conservative/redneck Democrats might give McCain a second look, and if that happens ... which doesn't fit the narrative of an Obama landslide of hope and change on Nov. 4. So it cannot be discussed, period.
Finally we come to "Joe the Plumber," Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, a plumber's apprentice from Ohio who was approached by Barack Obama last week during an afternoon of door-to-door campaigning by The One. Wurzelbacher committed the unpardonable sin -- he coaxed His Holiness into giving an off-the-cuff speech, sans teleprompter, and Obama made a little Marxist Freudian slip. John McCain seized upon Obama's slip and mercilessly beat him with it during last Wednesday's debate.
For this act of apostasy, Joe The Plumber was marked for destruction:
The dirt-diggers started Googling. And the next morning, six-term Sen. Biden launched the first salvo against the Ohio entrepreneur on NBC’s Today Show, challenging the veracity of his story: “I don’t have any ‘Joe the Plumbers’ in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year.” (Does Biden have ANY plumbers in his neighborhood? -ed)
... Wurzelbacher never claimed to be making $250,000 a year. He told Obama that he might be “getting ready to buy a company that makes about $250,000, $270,000″ a year. His simple point was that Obama’s punitive tax proposals would make it more difficult to realize his dream.
Obama’s followers couldn’t handle the incontrovertible truth. Left-wing blogs immediately went to work, blaring headlines like “Not A Real $250k Plumber!” Next, they falsely accused Wurzelbacher of not being registered to vote (he’s registered in Lucas County, Ohio, and voted as a Republican in this year’s primary).
... Then, suddenly, the journalists who wouldn’t lift a finger to investigate Barack Obama’s longtime relationships with Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers and Jeremiah Wright sprang into action rifling through citizen Joe Wurzelbacher’s tax records. Politico.com reported breathlessly: “Samuel J. Wurzelbacher has a lien placed against him to the tune of $1,182.92. The lien is dated from January of ‘07.” Press outlets probed his divorce records. The local plumbers’ union, which has endorsed Obama, claimed he didn’t do their required apprenticeship work and didn’t have a license to work outside his local township. (DailyKos also published Wurzelbacher's home address. -ed)
... After Wurzelbacher told Katie Couric that Obama’s rhetorical tap dance was “almost as good as Sammy Davis, Jr.,” the inevitable cries of “bigotry” followed. (There are now tens of thousands of hits on the Internet for “Joe the Plumber racist.”)
And if that wasn't enough, The Messiah then took it upon himself to mock Joe Wurzelbacher:
A commenter noted, "Obama says the words "a plumber making $250,000 a year" with such disdainful contempt. Like a mere plumber couldn't possibly
work his way into the elite white-collar tax bracket that Obama and his
Ivy League pals inhabit, oh no, that's a laughable presumption for
peasants like Joe."
Jim Treacher observed, "Is it just me, or have we seen more vetting of an Ohio plumber in the last 2 days than we've seen of Obama's mentor William Ayers all year? (Not to mention Obama himself!) Both Bill and Joe are embarrassing to Obama because they've given us glimpses of his true nature, and yet only one of them is being put through the wringer. Only one of them has to fear for his job. Weird, huh?" He also notes, "The whole "He's not a licensed plumber!" non sequitur is really fantastic. So, if you happen to be standing in front of Obama when he publicly reveals his socialism, what does the media do? Demands to see your papers. That's just delicious, is what that is."
Well here's a funny thing, Mr. Messiah-to-Assholes. I happen to know an honest, hard-working young man who is an apprentice plumber. He is not "licensed." Currently he manages a plumbing supply store. Yet a friend and customer of his, a retiring plumber, really, really likes my friend and has offered to sell him his plumbing business when he retires. When that happens, of course, my friend will get his license and join the union. Incredibly, it happens all the time! So thank you, Barack Obama, for making it perfectly clear how you feel about people like my friend -- "Screw you, you'll never be successful, and I only give a shit about you when it makes me look good. And here's your puny tax cut, because you're too dumb to ever make enough money to afford my glorious tax increases."
I've written a lot during the past few months with regard to concerns that I have about an Obama presidency. But finally -- FINALLY -- I can tell you without reservation why Obama in the White House scares the living shit out of me. Well, actually I think I'll let IowaHawk tell you:
Make no mistake about this. This is pure Nazi-style propaganda. You want to Godwin me? Fine. But the media's obsession with Joe The Plumber is meant for one thing and one thing only, which is to distract you from what Barack Obama actually said in reply to Joe's question. That's a primary function of propaganda, and the media is serving it up in heaping spoonfuls right now.
When radicals went a little crazy and burned down the Reichstag in 1933 (the assembly hall for the Wiemar German Parliament) Adolf Hitler and his minions wasted no time demanding an "investigation" into the fire, while stirring up fear of an impending violent revolution if "something wasn't done" about the German Communist Party. The Nazis quickly fixed blame for the fire upon a group of Communist operatives, and Chancellor Hitler wasted no time petitioning President von Hindenburg to enact restrictions aimed at limiting the influence of the Communist Party in Wiemar Germany. With the Communist party outlawed, the Nazis and their sympathizers were able to easily win control of Parliament. And because they were caught up in the sensationalism of the Riechstag fire conspiracy, average Germans failed to notice that the real purpose of Hitler's decrees was to limit all civil liberties in Germany, and outlaw every publication critical of the Nazi cause. Hitler had successfully used the Reichstag fire to distract Germans just long enough to establish the mechanism that would enable him to gain absolute power over the German government. The man was a master of smokescreen propaganda.
Obama's message. Obama's message. Obama's message. Please stay focused. Ignore the smokescreen. Listen to the message.
With the exception of African-Americans (and I do wonder if they’re doing better since welfare changed in the 1990s), America is still a singularly fluid social and economic country. That’s part of why, despite our vast immigrant influxes, we don’t have the banlieus of France (riot central a few years ago, as you may recall), or the tremendous immigrant unrest one sees in other European countries such as Germany, Italy and England. Our immigrants start poor, work hard and, always, have the possibility of “moving on up” — and this is true even if not all of them are able to act upon that possibility. It’s the American dream.
Obama’s plan, however, announces the end of the American dream. In Obama’s USA, there’s no benefit to be had in moving on up. If you move to the head of the line, his government is just going to bat you right back down again.
There’s no doubt, of course, that those who are really, really rich will probably still stay fairly rich, because their vast wealth may take decades of government siphoning before it vanishes entirely. The problem is that those who wish to be rich — and who for America’s whole history could reasonably make that happen — will never get rich in Obama’s America. That’s what Obama told Joe the Plumber.
The Anchoress continues,
America just heard the President Presumptive tell them, essentially, “don’t dream too big. Don’t dare to dream too big, because if you do, we’re just going to chop you down to size, so that everyone is the same.”
That is not an American recipe. It is a recipe that’s been tried several times and all it ever does is sap people of ambition, creativity and freedom. What’s the point in excelling if your excellence will be the equal of mediocrity? What’s the point of dreaming, if your dreams are going to be subject to the whims of others?
America likes its dreams, its ambitions and its freedoms. Between Obama’s slip-of-the-tongue and the increasingly troubling stories of voter fraud - excuse me, voter registration fraud (which is mean to enable voter fraud) - rampant in one state after another, he’s making a lot of Americans wary.
America is the can-do nation; it does not like being told it can’t do something. Americans do not like being told not to dream glorious dreams. They do not like being told that excellence must subdue itself. And they really don’t like cheating the vote. And while Americans may tolerate little lies, the big, bold ones can get under their skin.
Things turn on a dime. This election may well turn not on who “Joe the Plumber” is - but who Barack Obama is revealing himself - finally - to be.
Team Messiah knows this. They really do. That's why they've resorted to harassment and intimidation in order to suppress any effort to connect Obama with William Ayers and Jeremiah Wright. That's why they want to shut down conservative talk radio and blogs with the "Fairness Doctrine." That's why they've targeted Sarah Palin. That's why they are destroying Joe The Plumber. And they will continue to take away your right to free speech and destroy average people as long as it allows them to keep their precious 'Obama Is Our Savior' narrative untarnished.
Hitler had his gangs of youth -- not really card-carrying Nazis, so their association could be disavowed whenever it was beneficial -- to do his dirty work. And today's liberal media has the loony fever-swamps of Daily Kos and Democratic Underground and MoveOn.org. They're not official paid members of the Obama Campaign or staff writers at The New York Times, but somehow they always end up being go-to sources every time the mainstream media needs pro-Obama dirt for its front pages.
It is now obvious beyond all counter-reasoning that the very things liberals accused Bush and Cheney of promoting -- fascism, statism, intimidation, persecution -- are the very same tactics that liberals can't wait to employ against enemies of the Messiah once they assume power. The difference is that you would have a damn hard time finding specific examples of exactly how Bush and Cheney intimidated, persecuted, and indoctrinated average Americans. Yet I've just given you a whole laundry list of examples of how Obama supporters on the Internet, in the mainstream press, and perhaps eventually in the Commerce Department, Justice Department, IRS, and Congress, will do whatever it takes to establish Obamaism as the lone ideology that is legal in the United States. Any dissenters will be castigated as liars, capitalist thieves, and racists. That's going to be the big one. RACIST.
Of course we still have the power to vote. And in 2010, if we no longer approve of our new socialist overlords, we can vote them out. Just like we did in 1994. Because unlike 20th century Europeans, we Americans still have the power to decide our own destiny.
I only hope we make the right choice.
PS - If you think that the government using force to "spread the wealth around" is what you'd like to see, then you should take a few minutes and read this story about a white Zimbabwean family caught on the wrong side of the wealth spread.
Everyone is talking about this "grassroots" video, linked this morning by Drudge. It is a "We Are The World"-type production featuring children praising Barack Obama:
The video was produced by Kathy Sawada, a a teacher at the elite Colburn School of Performing Arts in Los Angeles. Here is how Sawada describes the making of the video:
As Sunday approached, a neighbor volunteered a home. Production wizards got wind of the project and offered their help in recording it. The likes of Jeff Zucker, Holly Schiffer, Peter Rosenfeld, Darin Moran, Jean Martin, Andy Blumenthal, and Nick Phoenix rearranged schedules to participate. Holly Schiffer was able to get three High Definition cameras (Panasonic HVX250's), and an AVID editing facility. When Jeff Zucker went to pick up the camera package, Ted Schilowitz happened to be there and offered a RED camera set up on a Steadi Cam.
What we accomplished in a few hours on a Sunday afternoon embodies the nature of the Obama campaign: its grassroots inspiration, its inclusiveness, its community building. People pitched in quickly for a cause that resonated with them. There were not many conditions: "Think this is a good idea? Want to help? Great. Sunday at 12:00." At the heart of the project were 22 children and their music. The willingness of all involved to come together for them was a testament to our hope, unity, courage, joy and belief in the future represented by these children.
Bob Owens asks, "Does a concert-quality musician in an elite school in the middle of the most ego-centric city in the United States count as a "grassroots" effort?" Owens also provides some brief bios of those involved:
Here's a partial list of those who helped produce this "grassroots" effort:
- Jeff Zucker — American television executive, and President & CEO of NBC Universal.
- Post-producer (former choreographer?) Holly Shiffer.
- Motion picture camera operator/steadicam specialist Peter Rosenfeld (appropriately enough, worked in "Yes Man," a movie about " a guy challenges himself to say 'yes' to everything for an entire year."
- Darin Moran, another motion picture industry professional, who just finished filming — how appropriate — Land of the Lost.
- Andy Blumenthal, Hollywood film editor.
Grassroots all the way, baby
(UPDATE: The Politico is reporting that NBC has denied that "the" Jeff Zucker was "involved" with this video.)
But of course! In the elite Hollywood circles of the mega-rich, these folks are just your average next-door neighbors. It's kind of like Sen. Christopher Dodd thumbing through his Rolodex and calling Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo personally when he needed a home loan. Doesn't everybody have those kinds of connections?
What this is, of course, is astroturfing, an effort by a group of professionals to simulate grassroots political involvement. What you're really looking at is the brainwashed progeny of some of Hollywood's richest, most talented, and most powerful players in a carefully orchestrated demonstration of Orwellian goodthinking.
Brainwashed, you say? Read some of the hopey-changey-syrupy-smothered-in-rich-creamery-butter lyrics the kids sing:
Now's the moment, lift each voice to sing
Sing with all your heart!
For our children, for our families,
Nations all joined as one.
Sing for joy and sing abundant peace,
Courage, justice, hope!
Sing together, hold each precious hand,
Lifting each other up;
Sing for vision, sing for unity,
Lifting our hearts to Sing!
Sure, one of the kids wrote a little ditty called "We're Gonna Change The World" that appears in the video, but come on -- do you think for a minute that the Colburn School held a contest for songs praising John McCain as well? This has nothing to do with "22 children and their music." It's a group of well-connected Hollywood elites rehearsing the kind of propaganda that we will be forced to endure on TV, radio, movies, and online for the next four years if Barack Obama wins.
And for many of us, watching children performing propaganda engineered by wily adults is a bit disturbing. Captain Ed Morrisey says that the video reminded him of "Tomorrow Belongs To Me" from the movie Cabaret. If you don't know it:
I was reminded of this page from a German children's coloring book, reproduced in Time-Life's Prelude To War, p. 114:
(the child speaks:)
I know you well and love you, like father and mother.
I shall always obey you, like father and mother.
And when I grow up I shall help you, like father and mother.
And you will be proud of me, like father and mother.
I'm sure that many people will be reminded instead of Jesus Camp, and the religious indoctrination of children offered by various sheltered fundamentalist sects around the world. The difference, of course, is that religious fundamentalists pledge their allegiance to God, not to a man. They also believe almost universally that mankind is broken and lost without God's guidance. And their indoctrination is generally a private matter, taught in churches and private schools, not the kind of global effort that accompanied Stalinism, Naziism, or (I shudder as I write this) Obamaism.
The Anchoress was quite broken up by this video, and wasted no time encapsulating the efforts by Obama forces and Democrats to silence their opponents, which have been projected onto conservatives and President Bush:
To paraphrase Mark Steyn: when this many people I don’t trust are telling me something must be done for my own good…I don’t want it. I want to be far away from it.
We’re being sold a bill of goods, I think. I look at that beautiful child, with her lovely, lilting voice and her open mien, and I see lines for bread, lines for shoes, lines for meat, lines, lines, lines. I see the privileged few driving by the lines and giving the raised fist, encouraging the proletariat to “keep it real.”
There are extremists who behave in extreme ways - and with extreme hate - on both sides. The truth is the far right and the far left are so alike in their excesses that they are mirrors of each other, or twins of hate.
But we have never had such an extreme “leader” so close to the White House. Oh, I know, we’ve heard for 8 years about “the fascist Bush” but reasonable people know it’s hooey; they know that Bushbots have not actively organized to shut down liberal talk radio, they have not tried to intimidate, harass or suppress the many who have told lies and untruths about him. For all of the preening rhetoric about “Bushhitler” the ones spouting it have known full well that Bush was no fascist; that he was not going to shut them down, or make their ideas and films unavailable. They’ve known it. They know, too, that they’ve been projecting their own instincts to silence “patriotic dissent” on a guy who would never do it.
I think they won’t have to project for much longer.
She closes her post with an excerpt from Michael Radford's film version of Orwell's 1984.
God help us if that is our future.
So Barack Obama flubbed big-time yesterday when he egged on his crowd with a reminder that pigs in lipstick are still pigs, and that rotten fish in a new wrapper will still stink. That blunder might cost him dearly, since "pit bull in lipstick" is now Sarah Palin's signature line.
The Palin nomination is a gift that keeps on giving for a number of good reasons, and at the top of that list is the fact that Palin has caused voters to question Obama's plans for "change." To the skeptics like myself, Obama's "change" is nothing more than simply giving more power and money to the Democrat majority in Congress. Perhaps I should remind Barack Obama:
(h/t to Michelle Malkin and others who are blogging this)
Well, all the numbers are finally in. The 2008 RNC Convention was the most watched political convention in history, with nearly 80 million Americans total tuning in Wednesday and Thursday night, to watch Sarah Palin and John McCain. The Republican convention was carried by ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CSPAN, and PBS. The Democrat convention was carried by all these networks plus BET, Telemundo, Univision, and TV One. The AP estmiates that both Obama and McCain drew TV audiences of 42.4 million viewers for their acceptance speeches.
Think about this for a minute. Conventions are considered to be nothing more than carefully stage-managed political theater. They are also assumed to be ratings disasters, which is why the Big 3 networks devoted only one scheduled hour per night to the Republican convention. No one watches, because no one cares.
There was also a painful lack of excitement within the ranks of Republicans. Conservative bloggers and pundits seemed to support everyone but John McCain. The party talking heads said, without reservation, that the Republicans had "sold out" and had abandoned their conservatism when they nominated McCain. "None of the Above '08" was a popular joke among Republican loyalists.
But the Palin nomination changed all of that. The initial surprise and confusion of the Democrats quickly turned into one of the most vicious negative dogpiles on a political candidate in recent memory. The hatred of Clinton and Bush 43 took time to build; sure, there was partisan grumbling from the start, but the onslaught against Clinton didn't really begin until his second term, likewise, the onslaught against Bush didn't really start until the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Palin is so electrifying that Oprah Winfree, who is unabashedly in the tank for Obama, will not invite Palin to be a guest on her show until after the election.
Perhaps the Obama campaign and their acolytes in the mainstream media and at Daily Kos failed to remember a simple characteristic of Americans -- we always pull for the underdog. What, in fact, was Obama's narrative based on, except the triumph of the underdog?
This is nothing new. Read this excerpt from a New York Times editorial:
Where is it written that only senators are qualified to become President? Or where is it written that mere representatives aren’t qualified? Where is it written that governors and mayors, like Dianne Feinstein of San Francisco, are too local, too provincial? That didn’t stop Richard Nixon from picking Spiro Agnew, a suburban politician who became Governor of Maryland. Remember the main foreign affairs credential of Georgia’s Governor Carter: He was a member of the Trilateral Commission. Presidential candidates have always chosen their running mates for reasons of practical demography, not idealized democracy. On occasion, Americans find it necessary to rationalize this rough-and-ready process. What a splendid system, we say to ourselves, that takes little-known men, tests them in high office and permits them to grow into statesmen. This rationale may even be right, but then let it also be fair. Why shouldn’t a little-known woman have the same opportunity to grow? We may even be gradually elevating our standards for choosing Vice Presidential candidates. But that should be done fairly, also. Meanwhile, the indispensable credential for a Woman Who is the same as for a Man Who - one who helps the ticket.
Now for the sucker punch -- what you just read was a slightly redacted version of an editorial written in 1984 in support of Geraldine Ferraro, a young congresswoman, the mother of three children, who was chosen as the vice presidential running mate of Walter Mondale. What does this prove, other than the obvious fact that the current Times editors consistently fail to read their own editorial page?
Well, for one thing it proves that most Americans are willing to give an unknown, yet appealing, candidate a chance. Innocent until proven guilty, remember? Most Americans are not obsessed with the little (D) or (R) behind candidate's names, and so they don't exhibit the blind partisanship that leads to the ridiculous hypocrisy and bias that we have witnessed in the mainstream press and liberal blogs during the past week.
We also know that Americans don't like to see seemingly everyday people subjected to cruel and unusual handling by the media. The recent Rasmussen polls have been a fascinating source of information about how Americans are viewing the role of the press in this year's election. According to Rasmussen, 55% of Americans view media bias as a more serious problem than campaign financing, 49% believe that the press will overtly favor Obama in their election coverage, and 51% believe that reporters are deliberately trying to damage Sarah Palin.
McCain and Palin seem to have rediscovered the key to the success of Ronald Reagan: he took his message directly to the people and never tried to make friends with the press or request that they treat him nicely. The media's scourging of Sarah Palin motivated over 40 million Americans to tune in for themselves and see what the big deal was all about. More and more, conservatives are wondering if the 2008 election cycle will finally destroy the hallowed image of the mainstream news media as a reliable source of accurate and unbiased information. I think the answer to that is becoming clearer day by day.
Well here it is: The speech of the century. The new Sermon on the Mount.
Not many surprises, really. America is in trouble. Americans are in financial peril. We've failed to defeat al-Qaeda. Republicans have left everyone "on their own." (Nice steal from HRC, by the way ... and say, when did our trillion-dollar-plus social safety net suddenly disappear? I must have missed that one.) And of course, everything is George W. Bush's fault. But in Barack America, things will be different.
Here is what Barack Obama promised to accomplish as president, if he is elected; with commentary, of course.
I will stop giving tax breaks to corporations that ship jobs overseas, and I will start giving them to companies that create good jobs right here in America.
Vague. What kind of tax breaks? I remember learning four years ago that the H. J. Heinz company (provider of the wealth that Tereza Heinz and John Kerry enjoy) had 57 of its 79 manufacturing facilities located overseas; this revelation came at a very inconvenient moment, when John Kerry was also pushing the stale Democrat theme of punishing companies who profit from sending jobs overseas. A web page sympathetic to the Heinz-Kerrys says the following: " ... sixty percent of the sales of the company are overseas and that the foreign plants allow them to serve local customers with fresher ingredients. In other words, their foreign operations are for the purpose of doing business on foreign land, which is not the same, for example, as an American factory firing its workers and having the same work done in another country by cheaper labor." Exactly. So, how will the Obama Administration distinguish companies that "ship jobs overseas" as opposed to companies that do business overseas and therefore need overseas operations. And what about businesses HQ'd in foreign countries that employ hundreds or thousands of Americans?
I will eliminate capital gains taxes for the small businesses and the start-ups that will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow.
I guess that means that if you are a "large business" you are SOL. I also wonder what kind of crystal ball Obama will be using to divine which companies "will create the high-wage, high-tech jobs of tomorrow?" Tech start-ups during the late 90's paid their employees obscenely high wages ($85k for an entry-level network tech, etc.) and they did this because they were flush with venture capital. Yet they eventually pissed away billions, with most of them never showing a profit. I hope that Obama has a better set of criteria for judging start-ups than the Clinton administration.
I will cut taxes for 95% of all working families. Because in an economy like this, the last thing we should do is raise taxes on the middle-class.
The last thing we should do now is raise taxes on anyone, period. And Obama doesn't mention his proposed capital gains tax hike, a tax that will be paid by anyone who sells property or securities that have increased in value since they were purchased, regardless of how much other income they earn. Over half of Americans now own investment portfolios including stocks and bonds. Far more than that own real property. A capital gains tax hike will affect all those people, not just some elusive "top 5%" of households.
I will also go through the federal budget, line by line, eliminating programs that no longer work and making the ones we do need work better and cost less -- because we cannot meet twenty-first century challenges with a twentieth century bureaucracy.
I'll believe that when I see it. Any government program that pays or subsidizes the salaries of workers belonging to the American Federal Government Employees union or the AFSCME "works." Trust me on this.
I will set a clear goal as President: in ten years, we will finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.
What does that mean? No Middle Eastern oil at all? 75% of what we now use? 50%? 10%? What? There are going to be a lot of unhappy Arabs who will do everything they can to prevent that from happening. If poverty inspires terrorism, how will eliminating a major chunk of the oil money of Middle Eastern nations affect the potential for unrest and violence in the region?
As President, I will tap our natural gas reserves, invest in clean coal technology, and find ways to safely harness nuclear power.
But no more new oil wells - EVER! Actually I'm glad to see nuclear mentioned, but good luck getting that past the enviro-nuts.
I'll help our auto companies re-tool, so that the fuel-efficient cars of the future are built right here in America. I'll make it easier for the American people to afford these new cars.
Um ... so does this mean that government will take over the car industry? Does this mean that government will design the cars, pay auto manufacturers to build the cars, and then subsidize the cost of those cars to consumers? Sounds like a prescription for a nation driving the equivalent of Yugos and Trabants. No thanks.
I'll invest 150 billion dollars over the next decade in affordable, renewable sources of energy -- wind power and solar power and the next generation of biofuels; an investment that will lead to new industries and five million new jobs that pay well and can't ever be outsourced.
I guess it takes a lot of workers to scrape bird guts off those giant propellers. Seriously -- large-scale power generation via wind and solar systems has been the wet dream of bureaucrats for over thirty years, probably because they continually fantasize about drawing up the massive government regulations for those industries and imbuing them with a kind of progressive feel-good moral character that the eeeeevil "Big Oil" industry never possessed. But don't be fooled; wind and solar are still pipe dreams -- unreliable, grossly expensive -- and nobody wants the panels or windmills in their own back yard.
I'll invest in early childhood education. I'll recruit an army of new teachers, and pay them higher salaries and give them more support. And in exchange, I'll ask for higher standards and more accountability.
We keep doing this stuff. We invest and invest and invest, to the point that some districts spend over $10,000 per child each year, and yet things don't seem to be getting any better. Sure, the government could set aside a massive chunk of money to subsidize teacher salaries, but how exactly can the government give teachers moral and emotional support? And if you think you're going to get the NEA to change criteria to make it easier to dismiss poor teachers, even those who sexually abuse students, then you've got another thing coming.
And we will keep our promise to every young American -- if you commit to serving your community or your country, we will make sure you can afford a college education.
We already do this; it's one of the evil ploys used to seduce poor, ignorant, innocent young men and women and turn them into cold-blooded killers in the US military, or so says the anti-war Left. Democrats, do you really want more of this? We already have Americorps, VISTA, the Peace Corps, etc. This is just a meaningless promise made for the benefit of those who don't know any better.
If you have health care, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don't, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves. And as someone who watched my mother argue with insurance companies while she lay in bed dying of cancer, I will make certain those companies stop discriminating against those who are sick and need care the most.
Wow, that's a biggie. Is he going to subsidize insurance premiums, or enact a Federally-mandated set of price caps on medical procedures, to which all insurers and providers will be forced to to adhere? And how is forcing insurance companies to "stop discriminating" (in other words, pay every claim without question) going to lower premiums? I see private health care going only to the young and healthy, with everyone else being gradually squeezed out as "high risk," into a bloated, inefficient government supervised and subsidized program. When that happens, I doubt that John Q. Public be afforded the kind of first-class medical treatment that Ted Kennedy is receiving right now.
Now is the time to help families with paid sick days and better family leave, because nobody in America should have to choose between keeping their jobs and caring for a sick child or ailing parent.
Now is the time to change our bankruptcy laws, so that your pensions are protected ahead of CEO bonuses; and the time to protect Social Security for future generations.
And now is the time to keep the promise of equal pay for an equal day's work, because I want my daughters to have exactly the same opportunities as your sons.
Whew, another set of big promises and another set of vague platitudes.
I thought Bill Clinton fixed the family leave crisis.
How will Obama "protect Social Security?" After the stink that Democrats raised when President Bush wanted to place Social Security in the arena of the free market, we can be sure that there will be no private investment of Social Security monies and no attempt to make it into a true pension plan. Instead, there will be massive payroll tax increases; only on "the rich" for now, but once that precedent has been established, it will not be difficult to keep expanding taxes in the future.
And now "equal pay" again. Argh. We have equal pay laws out the wazoo already. And when you compare apples to apples -- young single men/women just out of college with identical degree/GPA applying for the same entry-level jobs -- pay scales are pretty much identical. There are dozens of different factors that go into setting employee salary levels (previous experience, married/single, number of children, single or double income in the household, career goals, better negotiating skills etc.) and we are never going to have perfect equality of outcome. Never. Even if we start with a level playing field, it will be pretty torn up at the end of the day.
As Commander-in-Chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm's way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.
Yup, and I can't wait to see the first round of massive military budget cuts that a Democrat congress and a Democrat president will pass. And since Obama obviously wasn't paying attention five years ago, we did go into Iraq with a clear mission: to forcibly remove Saddam Hussein from power, and to establish a free government with democratically-elected officials, equal justice for all, and a free market economy. Overall, we have been enormously successful at achieving those goals. Speaking of "clear missions" (har!) get a load of this next promise:
I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan ... When John McCain said we could just "muddle through" in Afghanistan, I argued for more resources and more troops to finish the fight against the terrorists who actually attacked us on 9/11, and made clear that we must take out Osama bin Laden and his lieutenants if we have them in our sights. John McCain likes to say that he'll follow bin Laden to the Gates of Hell -- but he won't even go to the cave where he lives.
Hoo-wee, I'd love to see Obama's "clear mission" for sending special forces carrying excessive firepower (perhaps tactical nukes) into disputed regions of Afghanistan, or across the border into Pakistan, a nation not only with nukes, but a government that is currently very unstable. Please, describe that "clear mission," including a complete set of contingencies for everything that might go wrong.
But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.
Look, diplomacy is great, but what do you do when it doesn't work? Jimmy Carter couldn't come up with an answer that question, and it probably cost him the Presidency. And here, at last, is the great moral equivalency statement of tonight's speech. It seems that in Obama's view, the likes of Russia, North Korea, Iran, etc. won't work with us unless we cop to causing climate change, promoting poverty, and encouraging nuclear proliferation, and subsequently beg for their forgiveness. Again, we tried this approach to foreign policy 30 years ago and the results were disastrous. And ten years ago, Bill Clinton sent Al Gore to suck up to the international Convention on Climate Change, yet he sat by helplessly as the Kyoto Treaty was rejected resoundingly by the US Senate. It just doesn't seem like this is the direction that the majority of Americans want to take.
Well, there you have it: Barack Obama's vision for a better America. Next week we'll be able to compare it to the vision that John McCain outlines.
According to Ben Smith at The Politico, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was quoted describing Barack Obama as "a leader that God has blessed us with at this time."
Cue halo. Cue the Hallelujah Chorus. And they say that conservatives are making all this "messiah" stuff up just so they can portray Obama as "The Antichrist"? Spare me.
Now, if a prominent Religious Right figure like James Dobson were to make that statement about John McCain, liberals would go absolutely apeshit. But I suppose that Grandmother Superior is exonerated because she is a Democrat.