Saturday, February 16, 2008

OBAMA: The shallowness below the soaring rhetoric


The conventional critique of Sen. Obama has held that his pitch is perfect but at some point he'll need to make the appeal more concrete. I think the potential vulnerability runs deeper. Strip away the new coat of paint from the Obama message and what you find is not only familiar. It's a downer. Up to now, the force of Sen. Obama's physical presentation has so dazzled audiences that it has been hard to focus on precisely what he is saying. "Yes, we can! Yes, we can!" Can what? Listen closely to that Tuesday night Wisconsin speech. Unhinge yourself from the mesmerizing voice. What one hears is a message that is largely negative, illustrated with anecdotes of unremitting bleakness. Heavy with class warfare, it is a speech that could have been delivered by a Democrat in 1968, or even 1928. Here is the edited version, stripped of the flying surfboard:

"Our road will not be easy . . . the cynics. . . where lobbyists write check after check and Exxon turns record profits . . . That's what happens when lobbyists set the agenda. . . It's a game where trade deals like Nafta ship jobs overseas and force parents to compete with their teenagers to work for minimum wage at Wal-Mart . . . It's a game . . . CEO bonuses . . . while another mother goes without health care for her sick child . . . We can't keep driving a wider and wider gap between the few who are rich and the rest who struggle to keep pace . . . even if they're not rich . . ."

Here's his America: "lies awake at night wondering how he's going to pay the bills . . . she works the night shift after a full day of college and still can't afford health care for a sister who's ill . . . the senior I met who lost his pension when the company he gave his life to went bankrupt . . . the teacher who works at Dunkin' Donuts after school just to make ends meet . . . I was not born into money or status . . . I've fought to bring jobs to the jobless in the shadow of a shuttered steel plant . . . to make sure people weren't denied their rights because of what they looked like or where they came from . . . Now we carry our message to farms and factories."

It ends: "We can cast off our doubts and fears and cynicism because our dream will not be deferred; our future will not be denied; and our time for change has come."

I am not saying all of this is false. But it is a depressing message to ride all the way to the White House. Presumably this is a preview of what he intends to run with against John McCain, who was mentioned several times. (Straw in the wind: This audience cheered when he called Sen. McCain an American hero.) Presidential elections now are settled by about 30% of the electorate that occupies the independent center. In late December, Gallup released a poll in which 84% of respondents said they were satisfied with their own lives. At some point in the next 10 months, people will have to square Sen. Obama's Grapes of Wrath message with the reality of their lives...

Right after the Wisconsin speech, TV broadcast another -- by victorious John McCain. The contrast with Sen. Obama's is stark. The arc of the McCain speech is upward, positive. Pointedly, he says we are not history's "victims." Barack relentlessly pushes victimology.

For Sen. Obama the military and national security is a world of catastrophe welded to Iraq and filled with maimed soldiers. Mr. McCain locates these same difficult subjects inside the whole of American military achievement. It nets out as a more positive message. Recall that Ronald Reagan's signature optimism, when it first appeared, was laughed at by political pros. Optimism won elections.

More here



We read here about the Muslim opposition to St. Valentine's day. So I am pleased to report that I celebrated it

Are We Seeing `Reagan Democrats' Becoming `McCain Democrats'?: "Are we seeing Reagan Democrats becoming McCain Democrats? Gallup: McCain wins more Democrats than Obama wins Republicans. And if this is happening, and McCain gets conservative Dems and Independents is this a bad thing? Maybe to the `conservatives in exile', but for the country I would think it would be enormously good news."

Bush pushes for sustainable Iraq : "The last thing the Bush White House would want, you might think, would be to make the 2008 presidential election a referendum on the unpopular war in Iraq. The 2006 congressional elections were such a referendum, and the Republicans got hammered. But President Bush, newly confident that his troop-surge strategy is working, is taking steps that are likely to guarantee another Iraq-driven election. He favors keeping a big U.S. force in Iraq through the November elections, probably close to the pre-surge level of 130,000. That large troop presence will draw Democratic fire -- and it will make the presidential contest all the more a test between a pro-war Republican nominee and an anti-war Democrat. Bush in effect is redoubling his bet on success in Iraq."

US now says Iran trying to build nukes : "The U.S. has recently shared new intelligence with the International Atomic Energy Agency on key aspects of Iran's nuclear program that Washington says shows Tehran was directly engaged in trying to make a bomb, diplomats said Thursday. One of the diplomats said Washington also gave the IAEA permission to confront Iran with at least some of the evidence in an attempt to pry details out of the Islamic republic, as part of the U.N. nuclear watchdog's attempts to investigate Iran's suspicious nuclear past. The diplomats suggested that such moves by the U.S. administration would be a reflection of Washington's' drive to pressure Iran into acknowledging that it had focused part of its nuclear efforts toward developing a weapons program."

The high cost of housing regulations in Seattle: "Backed by studies showing that middle-class Seattle residents can no longer afford the city's middle-class homes, consensus is growing that prices are too darned high. But why are they so high? In intriguing new analysis by a University of Washington economics professor argues that home prices have, perhaps inadvertently, been driven up $200,000 by good intentions. Between 1989 and 2006, the median inflation-adjusted price of a Seattle house rose from $221,000 to $447,800. Fully $200,000 of that increase was the result of land-use regulations, says Theo Eicher - twice the financial impact that regulation has had on other major U.S. cities. A key regulation is the state's Growth Management Act, enacted in 1990 in response to widespread public concern that sprawl could destroy the area's unique character. To preserve it, the act promoted restrictions on where housing can be built. The result is artificial density that has driven up home prices by limiting supply, Eicher says. Long building-permit approval times and municipal land-use restrictions upheld by courts also have played significant roles in increasing Seattle's housing costs, he adds. Compare this to Houston which has little regulation of home building and sprawl and some of the most affordable housing in the country."


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"Why should the German be interested in the liberation of the Jew, if the Jew is not interested in the liberation of the German?... We recognize in Judaism, therefore, a general anti-social element of the present time... In the final analysis, the emancipation of the Jews is the emancipation of mankind from Judaism.... Indeed, in North America, the practical domination of Judaism over the Christian world has achieved as its unambiguous and normal expression that the preaching of the Gospel itself and the Christian ministry have become articles of trade... Money is the jealous god of Israel, in face of which no other god may exist". Who said that? Hitler? No. It was Karl Marx. See also here and here and here.

The Big Lie of the late 20th century was that Nazism was Rightist. It was in fact typical of the Leftism of its day. It was only to the Right of Stalin's Communism. The very word "Nazi" is a German abbreviation for "National Socialist" (Nationalsozialistisch) and the full name of Hitler's political party (translated) was "The National Socialist German Workers' Party".


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