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« Judicial Activism: The Phrase You Will Hear For The Next Seventy Days | Main | CUNA Mutual: Not Al Dunlap's Transformation. Yet. »

January 28, 2008

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3rd Way

I am with you Paul. Now we just need to convince the Edwards supporters that their guy is not going to win, and that a progressive agenda is more likely going to be forwarded through support of Obama.

It is too bad I don't know any.

Jody Thompson

Gag.

Brian

Why I don’t support Barack Obama:

Here I'll list just a few of the many reasons.

He’s come out in support of merit pay, a concept that gets teacher motivation wrong and fails to address the underlying problem with teacher salaries: teachers make far less than other comparable professions.

You have to address that first before you start dividing teaching staff and unfairly awarding limited teacher bonuses.

Merit pay is an old idea---been used in some form since the mid 1800s--- that historians of education such as David Tyack and Larry Cuban point out has never worked to improve teaching or learning. Doesn’t sound too “audacious” to me. Bill Richardson had an audacious idea: a national teaching starting salary of $40,000. Obama is change? Not on this issue.

Then there’s his failure to lead against nuclear power. John Edwards highlighted this in the last debate. Talk about an idea whose time has come and gone. Forbes magazine pointed out that nuke power has been the greatest financial disaster in U.S. history. Would someone tell Obama? If one were “audacious” one would lead the charge to phase this energy source out and emphasize future based technologies, like, for example, John Edwards. So is Obama for change onthis issue? Nope. And it’s not surprising. Nuclear giant, Exelon, has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to his campaign as have other corporate special interests. One lobbyist told the fine reporter Ken Silverstein that the reason big business is giving Obama big bucks is that they view him as a player. The new boss will be the same as the old boss with Obama in the White House. That’s probably why 18 top lobbyists have endorsed his campaign (remember the ineffectual Tom Daschle? He's one of them.)

Then there’s this notion that Obama’s antiwar. The fine folks at blackagendareport.com have done a nice job exposing this myth and I recommend you head on over there and read the explanation of Obama’s militarism by the Obama experts, Bruce Dixon and Glen Ford. Obama wants to increase defense spending and increase the number of enlisted personnel by almost 100,000. Sounds like a George Bush budget to me. Where’s the change? One of his foreign policy advisors is Zbig Brzezinski. Now, what is a “change” agent doing taking advice from the guy who helped to instigate the disaster in Afghanistan? And beyond that, a lot of Obama’s advisors are former Clinton advisors. So much for change. He also advocated unilaterally going into Pakistan during one recent debate. We’ve been doing this imperialism project for over 100 years now. No change there either. It would seem, if one were audacious, that a rollback in the military industrial complex and all the wasteful spending, especially in the black budgets, would be in order. Not for Obama. We might also start recalling troops from our 725 overseas military bases that help to maintain our empire…if we were audacious.

I’ve been reading the many fine writers over at blackagendareport.com and blackcommentator.com for many months now and they have been scathing in their critique of Obama’s stance on race. As black agenda reporter, Glen Ford said on Democracy Now! a couple of weeks ago, Obama made, "the ridiculous statement that blacks had already made it to 90% of equality. No metrics shows this. No white Dem would make the racial statements he has made. They would be excoriated." These excellent journalists including Ford, Dixon, Paul Street, and Margaret Kimberley are recommended reading. Now, if one were audacious, one might be calling for reparations for slavery to address the fact that the average black family has 11% of the wealth of the average white family, not the 90% Obama asserts.

Then there’s the issue of class. Paul Street doesn’t call Obama a race-class accommodator for nothing.

He points out how friendly corporate America is to Obama, while, in contrast they are hostile to Edwards because he represents real change. Obama, and his program pose no threat to their current hegemony, and enlarging, class divide. This is one reason they are showering him in large campaign contributions. And while Edwards reminds us that the best poverty fighter is organized labor, Obama referred to unions as a special interest.

This quote from Paul Street is incisive: “Obama is being richly rewarded for his careful, cautious, and even “deeply conservative” politics and rhetoric with more than $80 million (just $10 million behind Hillary) in largely corporate-funded campaign financing (Center for Responsive Politics 2007) and with the support of much of the Democratic Party’s imperial foreign policy establishment (Traub 2007).” Very revealing.

And today we learn, once again, how timid Obama is, when taking on the economic issues, from The Nation’s Max Fraser. In talking about Obama’s plan to deal with the subprime mortgage crisis, Fraser points out that, “Barack Obama's proposal is tepid by comparison, short on aggressive government involvement and infused with conservative rhetoric about fiscal responsibility. As he has done on domestic issues like healthcare, job creation and energy policy, Obama is staking out a position to the right of not only populist Edwards but Clinton as well.”

Then there Obama's statements and writings praising Reagan's views of the sixties and some of his policies. So, for example, in his book, The Audacity of Hope he says this:
"“That Reagan’s message found such a receptive audience spoke not only to his skills as a communicator; it also spoke to the failure of liberal government…For the fact was that government at every level had become too cavalier about spending taxpayer money… A lot of liberal rhetoric did seem to value rights and entitlements over duties and responsibilities…by promising to side with those who worked hard, obeyed the law, cared for their families, and loved their country, Reagan offered Americans a sense of a common purpose that liberals seemed no longer able to muster."

What?

And this:
“…the conservative revolution that Reagan helped usher in gained traction because Reagan’s central insight---that the liberal welfare state had grown complacent and overly bureaucratic, with Democratic policy makers more obsessed with slicing the economic pie than with growing the pie---contained a good deal of truth. Just as too many corporate managers, shielded from competition, had stopped delivering value, too many government bureaucracies had stopped asking whether their shareholders (the American taxpayer) and their consumers (the users of government services) were getting their money’s worth.”

No, Mr. Obama, there was NOT a good deal of truth in Reagan's insight. You're triangulating.

And this one where he agrees with Reagan about the need to increase the war budget:
"But at times, in arguments with some of my friends on the left, I would find myself in the curious position of defending aspects of Reagan’s worldview. I didn’t understand why, for example, progressives should be less concerned about oppression behind the Iron Curtain than they were about brutality in Chile. I couldn’t be persuaded that U.S. multinationals and international terms of trade were single-handedly responsible for poverty around the world; nobody forced corrupt leaders in the Third World countries to steal from their people. I might have arguments with the size of Reagan’s military buildup, but given the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, staying ahead of the Soviets militarily seemed a sensible thing to do.”

Wrong again.

How does Obama do it? How does he pass himself off as the progressive he is not? Paul Street has it figured out. Speaking of the political twins, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama---because if you study their votes, past positions, political connections, etc., that’s what they are---Street, concludes, correctly in my view: “ They and their handlers know very well how to tap into what a still left Christopher Hitchens once called “the essence of American politics. That essence,” Hitchens wrote, “consists of the manipulation of populism by elitism. That elite is most successful,” Hitchens explained, “which can claim the heartiest allegiance of the fickle crowd; can present itself as ‘in touch’ with popular concerns; can anticipate the tides and pulses of opinion; can, in short, be the least apparently elitist” (Hitchens 2000, pp. 17-18).”

I know Obama is an inspirational speaker and he’s certainly charismatic, but don’t the issues matter any more? Apparently not. Noam Chomsky reminds us that most voters don’t vote on the issues preferring to focus on what the advertisers want them to focus on, perceived personal qualities. And that’s probably why Obama is where he is in the polls.

There isn’t going to be much in the way of substantial change in this country if Obama wins the presidency. The great divide between private, corporate power and public interest and the welfare of the disadvantaged and poor will continue to grow.

DB

Brian, that's pretty much what "neaguy" posted a couple of weeks ago. Is there a centralized list of talking points on why Obama doesn't deserve the support of hardcore leftists and socialists?

3rd way

You are wrong on a number of points (merit pay, nuclear energy, etc...) I don't have the energy or time to counter them right now. But if Hillary wins the nomination I will be thinking of you as I hold my nose and pull the lever in November.

nonheroicvet

At the risk of turning this into a teachers union post, I would ask the NEA types to state once and for all what package would satisfy them, using specific items and dollars so I can figure what it will cost to satisfy their demands.

Northern Pike

To Jody Thompson:

Another hit piece that makes me recoil from the Clintons.

Issue do matter, and there's not much difference between their Senate voting reocrds, except, of course, for Hillary's horrendously stupid vote to authorize the Iraq war. Obama's got better anti-war creds, and no amount of Clintonian spinning can change that.

If you want President McCain, keep propping up Hillary and trashing Obama.

jim rowen

I'm with Paul.

jim rowen

I'm with Paul.

Brian

DB,
Brian = neaguy.

For the rest of you objectors, everything I wrote about Obama can be found all over the internet. It's all true.

What is interesting is how when you point out how much of a corporate Democrat Obama is---in the DLC mode---you get either denial, no that can't be true, he never said, you're twisting his words; or more interestingly, acceptance, well what's wrong with nuclear power, teachers need to be motivated, etc.

It is amazing how charisma overrides thought.

But after the charisma fades away, will we still have poverty? An empire with bases spanning the globe? A struggling national public school system? Corporate control of practically everything?


DB

Brian,

You've made a convincing case that Obama isn't a good candidate for progressives, so long as "progressive" is defined as: lockstep support for NEA positions on education; opposition to nuclear power; opposition to any role for the U.S. military, period; support for socialism and its positions on race and economics; and denial that Ronald Reagan assembled a broad, successful GOP coalition. Good job.

For the 99.4% of self-identified progressives who don't define themselves by your metric, do you have anything else?

Dan Sebald

Jim, you're going with Ron Paul? :-)

All I can add is to point out what Howard Dean and the Democrats had to pick from: Feingold, Boxer, Dorgan, Feinstein, Rocky Anderson, Kucinich (thanks for being one of the few over the past eight years), Dodd, Kathleen Sebelius, Harkin, Chris Gregoire. Take your pick. Want to focus on foreign affairs? Go with Feingold or Boxer. Want to focus on domestic agenda? Go with Dorgan, or a governor who will come into office and stay domestic (unlike all the governors who've become president and then focused four years or more on foreign affairs, something they know nothing about).

How did Democrats boil things down to Clinton/Obama?

Romney, Clinton, McCain, Obama, Democrats, Republicans... transport me to 2016, after we've spent every last dime on stuff we don't need.

3rd Way

Well Brian, Edwards is out... What are you going to do now? Not vote?

Mike O'Connor

An energetic debate with a good friend brought it down to this for me.

Vote your head -- Clinton

Vote your heart -- Obama

I'm voting my heart this year.

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