February 28, 2008

Matt Gonzalez on Change we should avoid: Obama's voting record

A progressive's closer look at Obama's voting record.   Matt Gonzalez is a former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and will be the running mate for Ralph Nader's quixotic quest for quadrennial attention but has some values common to a lot of us.  
" He reminds us again and again that he had the foresight to oppose the war in Iraq. And he seems to have a genuine interest in lifting up the poor.

But his record suggests that he is incapable of ushering in any kind of change I’d like to see. It is one of accommodation and concession to the very political powers that we need to reign in and oppose if we are to make truly lasting advances."
When Hillary Clinton voted against the CAFA (Class Action Fairness Act - fairness to businesses against class action suits), Obama joined Republicans in voting FOR it.  Democrats against this particular loss of protection for consumers included Clinton, Kennedy, Biden, Feingold, and Kerry.  This is the kind of Change we can expect to see more of.

When Clinton voted FOR capping of consumer credit interest rates at 30%, Obama voted AGAINST it.  As a result, Mike Williams of the Bond Market Association, which represents Wall Street firms, said that "Some assumed he would just go along with consumer advocates, but he voted with us on several points.  He understood the issue.  He wasn’t closed-minded.  A lot of people found that very refreshing."

His 'flexibility' was similar to what we saw with Exelon, in which he gave Exelon and the Republicans everything they demanded and left a skeleton of the remaining, revised "bill," which failed but was re-introduced Oct 2007 in its revised, useless version.  Nevertheless he told an Iowan audience he had passed a regulatory bill... "I did that just this past year."  If he believes what he told them, it's worrisome, and if he doesn't believe it, it's troubling.

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February 27, 2008

Source of Obama photo from Kenya

The Obama photo from Kenya (in Somali-elder garb) was posted on the Free Republic site on February 23, 2008 and is apparently scanned from a periodical titled "Examiner," dated February 4, 2008.   This posting was made to the highly traffic'd, conservative Republican forum two days before Drudge ran the photo on Monday, February 25, and claimed he'd "obtained" it from a Clinton staffer email.

EXIF data shows the scanned photo was created February 23, 2008
using Microsoft Windows Photo Gallery and is stored at the Fotki site. The context is from a very misleading article.

The scan of that photo from the "Examiner" was first posted, in a cropped version on the day of the scanning, February 23, by "bannie".    "cmsgop" re-posted the full photo to other forum threads the next day (24th). This photo will have been much emailed during those two days.

The photo furor buried tv exposure of Clinton's main event that week - the foreign policy speech that same day at George Washington University, with endorsements by various generals, so was no favor to her camp.

Another copy of that photo has apparently, for some time, been part of a website story about his trip to Kenya in 2006 on the Hans-Geeska Afrika Online site, and Obama authorized a  video documentaryof that trip.

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February 23, 2008

Realities of corporate financing in any presidential election

Updated Mar. 9, 2008     Obama Reference Set

The realities of corporate financing in any presidential election: (updated August, 2008)

The Bigger Donors - NYT. "Behind those larger donations is a phalanx of more than 500 Obama 'bundlers,' fund-raisers who have each collected contributions totaling $50,000 or more. Many of the bundlers come from industries with critical interests in Washington. Nearly three dozen of the bundlers have raised more than $500,000 each, including more than a half-dozen who have passed the $1 million mark and one or two who have exceeded $2 million, according to interviews with fund-raisers."  Aug. 5, 2008

Obama gives Hope to corporations - Truthdig, Apr 28, 2008

Barack Obama Inc.:  The birth of a Washington machine - (Harpers, Oct 26, 2006 issue)

Obama Campaign press release - response to Harper's article - Oct. 23, 2006

A Bit More on Barack - Harper's added detail for Obama campaign - Oct. 26, 2006.  This includes Obama's explanation that "We can do better than burdening businesses with cases of class-action abuse."

Obama and Exelon bill - New York Times, Feb 3, 2008 - a bill which Obama-donor Exelon and Republicans weakened to allow NO regulatory oversight by state or local authorities -- that oversight having been the purpose of the bill.

Strangely, on the campaign trail Obama told an Iowa audience in December '07 that it was "the only nuclear legislation that I’ve passed ... I just did that last year."   The problem?  The bill never passed.  The defanged version was reintroduced in October '07.

Obama, Exelon and their consultant David Axelrod - an intro and report with links to full articles.

Lobbyist support to campaign     Various sources detailed - 4/29/08

Corporate contributions to campaign sorted by:

      Sector, Top Industries, Top Contributors (company bundling).

Articles (biographical, topical, etc.)


February 18, 2008

"We are the ones we have been waiting for"

Subtitle: Giving Credit Where Due

With the brouhaha today re recycling a major portion of someone else's speech (but delivering it better), I remembered being struck when listening to Obama the other day when he said, "We are the ones we have been waiting for" and thought 'THAT was a great line' and very well delivered.

That turned out to be the title of an Alice Walker book.

I wondered why he didn't just say, 'As Alice Walker has said...'

But then Walker's chapter credits June Jordan for that line.

Here's a website for June Jordan and one for her available books.

Irony? If his speechwriters had just credited it, he would have picked up even more of the female vote by drawing attention to her poem. It IS inspiring stuff.

Alice Walker's chapter from her book explains:

"It was the poet June Jordan who wrote "We are the ones we have been waiting for." Sweet Honey in the Rock turned those words into a song. Hearing this song, I have witnessed thousands of people rise to their feet in joyful recognition and affirmation. We are the ones we've been waiting for because we are able to see what is happening with a much greater awareness than our parents or grandparents, our ancestors, could see. This does not mean we believe, having seen the greater truth of how all oppression is connected, how pervasive and unrelenting, that we can "fix" things.

But some of us are not content to have a gap in opportunity and income that drives a wedge between rich and poor, causing the rich to become ever more callous and complacent and the poor to become ever more wretched and humiliated. . . ."

Obama's Familiar Quotations

With apologies to Bartlett's.

Video removed after the 2008 primaries

This set of videoclip comparisons begins with words used often by Obama when he's speaking in the South, including in Mississippi, where Obama explained his understandable reactions to the premature but strategically superdelegate-targeted idea of a duo-run, when Clinton said that the crowd "may" be able to get the two of them someday, depending on how things turn out.  My early dating of this entry is to place it with the Alice Walker entry, above.  She writes that she borrowed
"We are the ones we've been waiting for"  from June Jordan's (1980 poem), with attribution, and Maria Shriver draws attention to the Hopi Indians'  use of the phrase in Yr2000.

When I first heard the words, I thought they were especially apt, speaking to a sense of one's own power and responsibility to make change.  I was surprised to see that they had an interesting history but hadn't been attributed to anyone.

The opening words of the videoclip (and those same words in Mississippi in March '08)  echo Spike Lee's portrait of Malcolm X, as spoken by Denzel Washington, in the powerful movie from 1992.   Obama enjoys cautioning these groups that "they're" trying to "hoodwink you ... bamboozle you" - not my own idea of 'new' politicking, and it actually plays with identity politics.

My sense of Obama has been that his politics tend to be "old," although he would like to shift into a form of  'better'  politics.  While much was made of the "Just words"  borrowing or emulation of Deval Patrick's older speech, which had been a response to similar criticism received in Massachusetts by Patrick, less familiar is the almost exact wording of the "your aspirations" passage, which Obama reads haltingly.  I've been bothered by his seldom attributing material he borrows from others.  The videoclip also compares his overall effect on crowds to evangelistic dynamics.  Even avid Obama supporters have enjoyed that send-up page.

'New' concepts of Hope and Change?

I recently heard Barack Obama speak in bleak terms about the temptation of building a bridge back to the 20th Century by nominating Hillary Clinton.

Today I also saw complaints from Obama enthusiasts that Clinton has taken from her opponent the concepts of 'change' and 'hope.'

Then, on the same day, I see the Michelle Obama videoclip and text excerpt titled "For the First Time in My Adult Lifetime, I Am Really Proud of My Country."
    "What we have learned over this year is that hope is making a comeback.  It is making a comeback.  And let me tell you something -- for the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country.  And not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.  And I have been desperate to see our country moving in that direction and just not feeling so alone in my frustration and disappointment.  I've seen people who are hungry to be unified around some basic common issues, and it's made me proud."

-=-=-=- Time-tunneling to the past when people were 'different' -=-=-=-
Excerpts from a speech about Hope and Change

Tonight I want to talk with you about my hope for the future, my faith in the American people, and my vision of the kind of country we can build, together.
. . .
I have news for the forces of greed and the defenders of the status quo: your time has come--and gone. It's time for a change in America.
. . .
This election is about putting power back in your hands and putting government back on your side.  It's about putting people first.
. . .
That's why I'm so committed to making sure every American gets the health care that saved my mother's life, and that women's health care gets the same attention as men's...
. . .
If you want to know where I come by the passionate commitment I have to bringing people together without regard to race, it all started with my grandfather.
. . .
Frankly, I'm fed up with politicians in Washington lecturing the rest of us about "family values."  Our families have values.  But our government doesn't.
. . .
Our people are pleading for change, but government is in the way.  It has been hijacked by privileged, private interests.
. . .
When I am your President, the rest of the world will not look down on us with pity, but up to us with respect again.
. . .
or if, like the great civil rights pioneer Fannie Lou Hamer, you're just plain old sick and tired of being sick and tired -- then join us, work with us, win with us. And we can make our country the country it was meant to be.
. . .
[Bush] has never balanced a government budget.  But I have, eleven times.
. . .
We will build an American community again.  The choice we offer is not conservative or liberal.  In many ways it's not even Republican or Democratic, It's different.  It's new.  And it will work.
. . .
We'll say: Everybody can borrow the money to go to college.  But you must do your part.  You must pay it back -- from your paychecks, or better yet, by going back home and serving your communities . . . caring for the sick, or working with the elderly or people with disabilities, or helping young people to stay off drugs and out of gangs, giving us all a sense of new hope and limitless possibilities ...
. . .
It's also about our common community.  Tonight every one of you knows deep in your heart that we are too divided.
. . .
It is time to heal America.  And so we must say to every American: look beyond the stereotypes that blind us.  We need each other.  All of us, we need each other.
. . .
Them, and them, and them.  But this is America.  There is no them;  there is only us.  One nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all.
. . .
We can seize this moment, we can make it exciting and energizing and heroic to be an American again.  We can renew our faith in ourselves and each other, and restore our sense of unity and community...
. . .
But I cannot do it alone.  No President can.  We must do it together.  It won't be easy and it won't be quick.  We didn't get into this mess overnight, and we won't get out of it overnight.  But we can do it--with our commitment and our creativity and our diversity and our strength.  I want every person in this hall and every citizen in this land to reach out and join us in a great new adventure to chart a bold new future.
. . .
. . . a country of boundless hopes and endless dreams; a country that once again lifts up its people, and inspires the world.
. . .
I end tonight where it all began for me:  I still believe in a place called Hope.

--- Bill Clinton, July 16, 1992
      Excerpts from his speech accepting the nomination
Full speech here.