Wednesday, May 14, 2008

OBAMA REALITY CHECK: GLIMPSES OF A GOSSAMER

WARNING: THIS MAY NOT BE AN EXACT REPLICA
OF THE CONTENTS OF THIS PACKAGE

Now that the canonization of Barack Obama, aided by his media acolytes, has slowed a bit, it may be considered less than blasphemy to examine what this circus hath wrought. After all, at some point, even in a mythological age, reality raises its ugly head. What follows are glimpses of a gossamer with all the uncertainty that such an effort involves. After all, even with the best tools, it is hard to measure precisely a ghost.

THE COMPETITION

Obama would almost certainly be a better president than either Bush or his preferred heir apparent, John McCain.

He would also likely be a better president than Bill Clinton. The reasons for this are several. He is vastly more honest. This doesn't mean he is without guile - far from it - but it is, for him, apparently a fallback position rather than, as with Clinton, the first thing you exercise upon arising. Further, even though he comes from Chicago, the worst anyone has been able to hang on him is Tony Rezko. Obama has not been impeached, the governmental equivalent to a criminal indictment. And he has not proclaimed a deep concern for minorities and working class whites while simultaneously screwing them. Finally, Obama would probably bring to an end the 28 year Reagan - Bush - Clinton - Bush era that has been disastrous to America.

HONESTY & CONSISTENCY

Obama does mislead, and not unintentionally it would seem. For example, Obama repeatedly uses the politician's trick of providing desriptions of a problem as a substitute for a prescription. This allows him to delude voters into thinking he has sympathy with them without the need to offer solutions.

Has deceived the voters by not telling them that he would keep American troops in Iraq and he a tendency to shift on a number of issues, such as NAFTA and policy towards Iran, depending on the media tenor of the moment.

Misled on extent on lobbyist support

Wrote in his own book, "I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views.”

ARROGANCE

Four years ago, Obama was an obscure state senator representing part of one of America's most corrupt and machine-run cities. He is now running as God's gift to America and clean government based on this past, plus what he would like have been a temp job in the U. S. Senate.

JUST WORDS

Obama's use of southern pulpit cadence and inflection gives him an unfounded reputation for eloquence. His actual words are often corny and trite. He relies on cliches such as hope and change that have far more common with ad agencies than with philosopher kings. He also loses his command of metaphor and meaning when he is removed from a teleprompter and asked some questions, a weakness reflected in his antipathy towards news conferences.

MINORITIES

Like Hillary Clinton, Obama has built his campaign around genetic identity rather than on political principles and issues.

Wouldn't have photo taken with San Francisco mayor because he was afraid it would seem that he supported gay marriage

BUSINESS INTERESTS

Has offered few good ideas about how to handle the current economic crisis.

Cass Sunstein, a constitutional advisor to Obama, told Jeffrey Rosen of the NY Times: "I would be stunned to find an anti-business [Supreme Court] appointee from either [Clinton or Obama]. There's not a strong interest on the part of Obama or Clinton in demonizing business, and you wouldn't expect to see that in their Supreme Court nominees."

Wrote that conservatives and Bill Clinton were right to destroy social welfare,

Supported making it harder to file class action suits in state courts

Voted for a business-friendly "tort reform" bill

Voted against a 30% interest rate cap on credit cards

Had the most number of foreign lobbyist contributors in the primaries

Is even more popular with Pentagon contractors than McCain

Was most popular of the candidates with K Street lobbyists

Voted against a 30% interest rate cap on credit cards

In 2003, rightwing Democratic Leadership Council named Obama as one of its "100 to Watch." After he was criticized in the black media, Obama disassociated himself with the DLC. But his major economic advisor, Austan Goolsbee, is also chief economist of the conservative organization. Writes Doug Henwood, "Goolsbee has written gushingly about Milton Friedman and denounced the idea of a moratorium on mortgage foreclosures."

Doug Henwood, Left Business Observer: "Top hedge fund honcho Paul Tudor Jones threw a fundraiser for him at his Greenwich house last spring, 'The whole of Greenwich is backing Obama,' one source said of the posh headquarters of the hedge fund industry. They like him because they're socially liberal, up to a point, and probably eager for a little less war, and think he's the man to do their work. They're also confident he wouldn't undertake any renovations to the distribution of wealth."

NEW IDEAS

Has produced no interesting new ideas nor promised to fight for any important new programs

CITIES

Has no meaningful urban policy

BUSH REGIME

Has not dealt with the criminality of Bush's use of torture.

Aggressively opposed impeachment action against Bush.

RELIGION

Has run his campaign as though leading a cult rather than a political movement.

Has indicated a willingness to name rightwing Christians to his cabinet.

Went to Connecticut to support Joe Lieberman in the primary against Ned Lamont

Paul Street, Z Mag - Obama has lent his support to the aptly named Hamilton Project, formed by corporate-neoliberal Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and other Wall Street Democrats to counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the Democratic Party. . . Obama was recently hailed as a Hamiltonian believer in limited government and free trade by Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks, who praises Obama for having "a mentality formed by globalization, not the SDS." . . .

Times, UK - Obama is hoping to appoint cross-party figures to his cabinet such as Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska and an opponent of the Iraq war, and Richard Lugar, leader of the Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee. Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain's closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary.

Richard Lugar was rated 0% by SANE. . . rated 0% by AFL-CIO. . . rated 0% BY NARAL. . . rated 12% by American Public Health Association. . . rated 0% by Alliance for Retired Americans. . . rated 27% by the National Education Association. . . rated 5% by League of Conservation Voters. . . He voted no on implementing the 9/11 Commission report. . . Vote against providing habeas corpus for Gitmo prisoners. . .voted no on comprehensive test ban treaty. . .voted against same sex marriage. . . strongly anti-abortion. . . opposed to more federal funding for healthcare. . .voted for unconstitutional wiretapping. . .voted to increase penalties for drug violations

Chuck Hagel was rated 0% by NARAL. . . rated 11% by NAACP. . . rated 0% by Human Rights Coalition. . . rated 100% by Christian Coalition. . . rated 12% by American Public Health Association. . . rated 22% by Alliance for Retired Americans. . . rated 36% by the National Education Association. . . rated 0% by League of Conservation Voters. . . rated 8% by AFL-CIO. . . He is strongly anti-abortion. . .voted for anti-flag desecration amendment. . .voted to increase penalties for drug violations. . . favors privatizing Social Security

Dissed Nader for daring to run for president again

Called the late Paul Wellstone "something of a gadfly"

Progressive Punch ranks Obama 24th in the Senate.

Has no clear plan to leave Iraq and Afghanistan.

His top Iraq advisor wrote that America should keep between 60,000 and 80,000 troops in Iraq as of late 2010. Obama, in his appearances, blurs the difference between combat soldiers and other troops and has given no indication that he would reduce the massive mercenary force in Iraq.

Has hawkish foreign policy advisors involved in past US misdeeds and failures

Would probably be good at international negotiations.

Would improve America's image abroad, at least until he did something stupid.

Supports Israeli aggression and apartheid. Obama has deserted previous support for two-state solution to Mid East situation

Has voted numerous times to continue funding the war

Favored cluster bomb ban in civilian areas

Promises not to sign a trade bill without environmental and labor protections.

Won't rule out first strike nuclear attack on Iran

Called Pakistan "the right battlefield ... in the war on terrorism." Threatened to invade Pakistan

AP - He would return the country to the more "traditional" foreign policy efforts of past presidents, such as George H.W. Bush, John F. Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. At a town hall event at a local high school gymnasium, Obama praised George H.W. Bush - father of the president - for the way he handled the Persian Gulf War: with a large coalition and carefully defined objectives. . . "The truth is that my foreign policy is actually a return to the traditional bipartisan realistic policy of George Bush's father, of John F. Kennedy, of, in some ways, Ronald Reagan, and it is George Bush that's been naive and it's people like John McCain and, unfortunately, some Democrats that have facilitated him acting in these naive ways that have caused us so much damage in our reputation around the world," he said.

ECOLOGY

Voted for a nuclear energy bill that included money for bunker buster bombs and full funding for Yucca Mountain.

Comes in at 48th in the ranking of senators by the League of Conservation Voters

Won't oppose nuclear power

Supports federally funded ethanol

CIVIL LIBERTIES

Supports the war on drugs

Supports the crack-cocaine sentence disparity

Supports Real ID

Voted against immunity for telecoms' illegal spying on Americans

Supports the PATRIOT Act

Supports the death penalty

Opposes lowering the drinking age to 18

Helped fight for restoration of habeas corpus at Gitmo.

Refused to take a position on the anti-constitutional Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act

PUBLIC EDUCATION

Supports No Child Left Behind

Supports charter schools

DEMOCRACY

Has inspired a lot of young and minority voters to get involved in politics

HEALTH

Opposes single payer healthcare

Supported restricting damage awards in medical malpractices suits

Favors healthcare individual mandates that would help insurance companies and banks but not citizens

Received $708,000 from medical and insurance interests between 2001 and 2006

Says "everything is on the table" with Social Security. Clinton seems slightly more supportive of the classic Democratic program

At worst, Obama will be one more fox placed in the chicken coop of democracy by the corporations and their outsourced workers in the media and politics. At best, he will rebel against his upbringing and offer America something new and better. Most likely, however, is that he will serve as a deeply frustrating transition between what should never have happened and what needs to be done - stabilizing our national dysfunctions as they continue to await proper and necessary treatment.

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PLAY IT AGAIN, SAM

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Your editor has been a musician for many decades. He started the first band his Quaker school ever had and played drums with bands up until 1980 when he switched to stride piano. He had his own band until the mid-1990s and has played with the New Sunshine Jazz Band, Hill City Jazz Band, Not So Modern Jazz Band and the Phoenix Jazz Band.

NOTES ON THE MUSIC

Here are a few tracks:

SAM SMITH'S DECOLAND BAND

'SHINE' 

JELLY ROLL

PHOENIX JAZZ BAND

APEX BLUES   Sam playing with the Phoenix Jazz Band at the Central Ohio Jazz festival in 1990. Joining the band is George James on sax. James, then 84, had been a member of the Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller orchestras and hadappeared on some 60 records. More notes on James

WISER MAN  Sam piano & vocal

OH MAMA  Sam piano & vocal