Archive for the ‘Social Issues’ Category

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A Thought

Posted: January 6, 2009 in Social Issues

As the coming Inauguration gets closer I see the crowds.

And all I can think is:  Often the death of liberty is greeted by thunderous applause

Obama has stated continuously that he will not accept money from Lobbyists and PAC’s.

But wait… lets take a look and see how he got to where he is now… as far as backing….

Read and discuss in the comments if you would like.

(credit goes to the ladies of The McCain Ravelry for finding this)


From the Columbia Journalism Review

To explain: Opensecrets.org, the Web site of the Center for Responsive Politics, is the most authoritative source on campaign finances. Basing its reports on data from the Federal Election Commission, the Center shows that Obama indeed doesn’t take much money from a sector the Center calls “lobbyists.” Through the end of December, Clinton received more than $800,000 and McCain around $400,000 from this group, which the Center says includes people who work for lobbying firms at the local, state, and federal level and their relatives who are not otherwise employed, as well as those who are officially registered as Washington lobbyists. Obama received contributions of about just $86,000 from this group. Obama’s Web site says he doesn’t take money from Washington lobbyists or political action committees,and the Center says that if his campaign finds that the money came from registered Washington lobbyists, it does get returned.

Also from the Boston Globe, Obama has been doing this for a while…

In Obama’s eight years in the Illinois Senate, from 1996 to 2004, almost two-thirds of the money he raised for his campaigns – $296,000 of $461,000 – came from PACs, corporate contributions, or unions, according to Illinois Board of Elections records. He tapped financial services firms, real estate developers, healthcare providers, oil companies, and many other corporate interests, the records show.

Obama’s US Senate campaign committee, starting with his successful run in 2004, has collected $128,000 from lobbyists and $1.3 million from PACs, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that tracks money in politics. His $1.3 million from PACs represents 8 percent of what he has raised overall. Clinton’s Senate committee, by comparison, has raised $3 million from PACs, 4 percent of her total amount raised, the group said.

In addition, Obama’s own federal PAC, Hopefund, took in $115,000 from 56 PACs in the 2005-2006 election cycle out of $4.4 million the PAC raised, according to CQ MoneyLine, which collects Federal Election Commission data. Obama then used those PAC contributions – including thousands from defense contractors, law firms, and the securities and insurance industries – to build support for his presidential run by making donations to Democratic Party organizations and candidates around the country.

But wait – he says that that all stopped when he started his Presidential campaign… NOT

Though Obama has returned thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from registered federal lobbyists since he declared his candidacy in February, his presidential campaign has maintained ties with lobbyists and lobbying firms to help raise some of the $58.9 million he collected through the first six months of 2007. Obama has raised more than $1.4 million from members of law and consultancy firms led by partners who are lobbyists, The Los Angeles Times reported last week. And The Hill, a Washington newspaper, reported earlier this year that Obama’s campaign had reached out to lobbyists’ networks to use their contacts to help build his fund-raising base.

This I find to be an interesting article.  If you care to agree or not the comments are open.


 

Mascot Politics: an ugly reality

Years ago, when Jack Greenberg left the NAACP Legal Defense Fund to become a professor at Columbia University, he announced that he was going to make it a point to hire a black secretary at Columbia.

This would of course make whomever he hired be seen as a token black, rather than as someone selected on the basis of competence.

This reminded me of the first time I went to Milton Friedman’s office when I was a graduate student at the University of Chicago back in 1960, and I noticed that he had a black secretary. This was four years before the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and there was no such thing as affirmative action.

It so happened that Milton Friedman had another black secretary decades later, at the Hoover Institution — and she was respected as one of the best secretaries around.

When I mentioned to someone at the Hoover Institution that I was having a hard time finding a secretary who could handle a tough job in my absence, I was told that I needed someone like Milton Friedman’s secretary — and that there were not many like her.

At no time in all these years did I hear Milton Friedman say, either publicly or privately, that he had a black secretary.

William F. Buckley’s wife once mentioned in passing, at dinner in her home, that she had been involved for years in working with a school in Harlem. But I never heard her or Bill Buckley ever say that publicly.

Nor do conservatives who were in the civil-rights marches in the south, back when that was dangerous, make that a big deal.

For people on the Left, however, blacks are trophies or mascots, and must therefore be put on display. Nowhere is that more true than in politics.

The problem with being a mascot is that you are a symbol of someone else’s significance or virtue. The actual well-being of a mascot is not the point.

Liberals all across the country have not hesitated to destroy black neighborhoods in the name of “urban renewal,” often replacing working-class neighborhoods with upscale homes and pricey businesses — neither of which the former residents can afford.

In academia, lower admissions standards for black students is about having them as a visible presence, even if mismatching them with the particular college or university produces high dropout rates.

The black students who don’t make it are replaced by others, and when many of them don’t make it, there are still more others.

The point is to have black faces on campus, as mascots symbolizing what great people there are running the college or university.

Many, if not most, of the black students who do not make it at big-name, high-pressure institutions are perfectly qualified to succeed at the normal range of colleges and universities.

Most white students would also punch out if admitted to schools for which they don’t have the same qualifications as the other students. But nobody needs white mascots.

Various empirical studies have indicated that blacks succeed best at institutions where there is little or no difference between their qualifications and the qualifications of the other students around them.

This is not rocket science, but it is amazing how much effort and cleverness have gone into denying the obvious.

A study by Professor Richard Sander of the UCLA law school suggests that there may be fewer black lawyers as a result of “affirmative action” admissions to law schools that are a mismatch for the individuals admitted.

Leaping to the defense of black criminals is another common practice among liberals who need black mascots. Most of the crimes committed by black criminals are committed against other blacks. But, again, the actual well-being of mascots is not the point.

Politicians who use blacks as mascots do not hesitate to throw blacks to the wolves for the benefit of the teachers’ unions, the green zealots whose restrictions make housing unaffordable, or people who keep low-price stores like Wal-Mart out of their cities.

Using human beings as mascots is not idealism. It is self-aggrandizement that is ugly in both its concept and its consequences.

Shelf Life of a Promise

Posted: June 19, 2008 in Obama, Social Issues

at least when it comes to Obama who today stated that he would not be using public funding for his race, to spite what he states as recently as Febuary:

National Review Online (By Jim Garaghty)

All Obama Promises Have Expiration Dates

Obama abandons public financing for the general election.

I’m recalling The Washington Post back on February 16:

AS RECENTLY as November, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was unequivocal about whether he would agree to take public financing for the general election if his Republican opponent pledged to do the same. “If you are nominated for president in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?” the Midwest Democracy Network asked in a questionnaire. Mr. Obama’s answer was clear. “Yes,” he wrote. “If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election.”

Team McCain says they’ve never been contacted by the Obama campaign to discuss a publicly financed general election.

The man makes promises he has no intention of keeping.

Oh, and in other news, when he said NAFTA was “devastating” and “a big mistake,” a few months ago, he now says he didn’t mean it.

 

 

 

 

 

What Change?

Posted: June 15, 2008 in Obama, Social Issues

State pork to Obama’s district included allies, donors

By Ray Long | Ray Gibson and David Jackson
May 3, 2007

SPRINGFIELD – Barack Obama has expressed pride in his ability to bring home old-fashioned pork.

During his nearly eight years in Springfield, he tucked special earmarks into massive budget bills to shower small bequests on inner city schools, parks and youth service agencies.

But some of the larger grants Obama sponsored were tied to political allies and show how difficult it is even for politicians advocating reform to avoid the appearance of favoritism as they dole out taxpayer funds. Several non-profit directors, for instance, gave money to Obama’s campaigns soon after their allotments were awarded.

“My philosophy was that, if money was being distributed, then it would be inappropriate for me to not get my share for my district,” Obama, now one of the U.S. Senate Democrats’ leaders on ethics reform, said in an interview. “Did I think it was the best way to prioritize government spending? No.”

The Tribune analyzed 119 grants in which Obama steered more than $6 million for Chicago projects between late 1999 and late 2002, the heart of his Statehouse career and the center of a state government frenzy in which Obama said the pork-barrel process was “wide open.”

Typical of his grants was the $5,000 Obama delivered to the South Shore Public Library for chess equipment, books and knitting supplies, or the $5,000 to help the Sir Miles Davis Academy plaster and paint walls and repair windows.

But other grants reflected politics. In 2001, for example, Obama steered $75,000 to a South Side charity called FORUM Inc., which promised to help churches and community groups get wired to the Internet. Records show five FORUM employees, including one who had declared bankruptcy, had donated $1,000 apiece to Obama’s state Senate campaign.

As the grant dollars were being disbursed to FORUM, the Illinois attorney general filed a civil lawsuit accusing the charity’s founder of engaging in an unrelated kickback scheme. Just days after the suit was filed, Obama quietly returned the $5,000 in donations. “I didn’t want to be associated with money that potentially might have been tainted,” he said.

FORUM founder Yesse Yehudah, who unsuccessfully ran for state Senate against Obama in 1998, denied wrongdoing and, without admitting guilt, settled the attorney general’s lawsuit by paying $10,000 to a charity. He declined to comment.

Obama was not accused of wrongdoing, and he said none of his state grants came about as a quid pro quo.

“It happens that there were major supporters in my district who had been supporters before they got member initiatives,” Obama said, noting that some of his contributors had been his allies for years.

One of those long-time supporters was Rev. Michael Pfleger, the politically active leader of St. Sabina Church. He gave Obama’s campaign $1,500 between 1995 and 2001, including $200 in April 2001, about three months after Obama announced $225,000 in grants to St. Sabina programs.

Pfleger said he made those donations personally, not on behalf of the church or to win grants.

“At a time when less people vote than ever, I don’t think pastors should be silent on politics,” Pfleger said.

Another supporter, Henry English, made two donations to Obama totaling $900 in 2001 after Obama helped send a $50,000 grant to a non-profit group that English ran, the Black United Fund of Illinois. English scoffed when asked if his donations were related to the grants.

“It’s something that I did,” he said. BUFI and Obama “have somewhat of a relationship. He is from down the street.”

Personal ties to Obama also were evident in some pork dispensed by his political allies. The Chicago-based Muntu Dance Theatre received a $4.5 million grant to help pay for a $10 million cultural center.

Obama’s mentor in Springfield, state Sen. Emil Jones (D-Chicago), sponsored the grant. And at the time $2.25 million of the grant was disbursed, Obama’s wife, Michelle, sat on the non-profit dance group’s board.

Obama said in the interview that at the time of the award in 2003 his wife wasn’t a board member, though tax returns of the charity indicate she sat on the board in 2002 and 2003. Jones’ spokeswoman said Michelle Obama did not lobby him for the funds.

I came across this rather interesting article during my web surfing. Interesting because of the assertion of a “new style politics”. Feel free to leave comments for discussion or your impressions.


From No Quarter

ABC Ignores Obama’s Misleading Message

about Lobbyists’ Money

Some bloggers are upset with Barack Obama for giving conflicting responses about the flag-pin non-issue (Little Green Footballs via Memeorandum).  Aside from admiring Nancy Pelosi’s pearls, I don’t care about politicians’ jewelry.

I do care about mainstream media’s repeated failure to cover the more substantive misleading statements that Sen. Obama has made: chiefly, those about where he gets his campaign funding. 

Today, ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos presented a prime opportunity to spotlight this important issue, but George and his guests chose not to.

 

George shared a video clip of an Obama campaign TV ad running in Indiana, in which Sen. Obama states that he does not take money from lobbyists.

Technically, that may be true, but it’s a highly misleading statement.

Obama reportedly stopped taking money from registered lobbyists when he announced his candidacy last year: that was after taking more than $1 million in lobbyist- or PAC-generated donations that got his campaign off the ground. (Chicago Tribune)

Recently, Newhouse News Services reported:

“State lobbyists and non-wage-earning spouses of lobbyists and
lobbying firm employees
have contributed $115,163 to Obama’s campaign through March 20, according to the center [for Responsive Politics].”

Oh, that’s right: Obama claims to have not taken money from federally registered lobbyists. Do words really matter in this case? Last year, the Los Angeles Times reported: 

“Sen. Barack Obama raised more than $1 million in the first three months of his presidential campaign from law firms and companies that have major lobbying operations in the nation’s capital.”

This month, USA Today  reported:

Obama accepts money from spouses of federal lobbyists. In December, the campaign returned a $250 contribution from lobbyist Thomas Jensen of Sonnenschein, Nath & Rosenthal, but a few
days later, it cashed a $500 check from his wife, Sarah, records show….”

Obama holds fundraisers at law firms that lobby in Washington. Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor confirmed the campaign held five fundraisers at New York and Boston offices of three firms that lobby, including Greenberg Traurig [the same firm that lobbyist-turned-prison-inmate Jack Abramoff had worked for]….”

The Hill ran a story in March 2007, which states that an Obama fund raiser specifically asked a lobbyist 1) for his wife’s donation, and 2) for access to that lobbyist’s business contacts.

Then there’s the issue of lobbyists who don’t actually sign donation checks but who bundle other people’s checks.  When lobbyists bundle donations, Candidates know whom to thank. 

SourceWatch has an entire section, with sources, on lobbyists’ bundling for Obama.

Then there’s the matter of corporate cash.  Sen. Obama claims that he is not beholden to corporate interests, because he doesn’t take money from corporations.  No federal candidates take money directly from corporations, because that’s illegal (Tillman Act of 1907).

Instead, the longstanding tradition among candidates is to take donations from corporate executives, employees and PACs.  Obama certainly has been part of that tradition, as the Los Angeles Times reported earlier this month:

“Obama has taken at least $263,000 from oil company executives, family members and employees since entering the presidential race last year, including $46,000 last month. At least $140,000 has come in chunks of between $1,000 and $2,300, the maximum permitted under federal law [likely not from janitors and receptionists]….”

According to Newhouse News services, Sen. Obama:

“People in the oil and gas industries have given $222,309 to Obama. He received $528,765 from the pharmaceutical and health industry, making him the largest recipient of the sector’s largesse.

“Obama’s Democratic rival, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, has raised $309,363 from the oil and gas industry and $506,001 from the health care and pharmaceutical industry.”

Given the last quote, obviously my point is not that Obama is more or less tainted than other candidates.  As long as our campaign-finance system is riddled with loopholes, most federal candidates will take special-interest cash.  Period.

My point is this: Obama has taken special-interest money while falsely claiming that his campaign coffers are untainted.

In short, Obama is a player in the old Washington game — he just tells voters that he’s not.

The obvious reality and hypocrisy matter, because they go to the heart of a major plank in Obama’s campaign platform.  For months, he has marketed himself as a clean outsider who is, therefore, better able to change Washington than any other candidate.

Obama has received support from many hopeful people who believe the misleading claims and comparisons underlying Obama’s image.

The money trail is where the truth about politics tends to reveal itself — and the money trail suggests that Obama is just as tainted by special-interest cash and just as entrenched in old-style politics as any other candidate.

Now, if only more mainstream-media would fulfill their duty to us viewers and actually spotlight these issues and inconsistencies….

Incidentally, Larry Johnson at No Quarter posted a piece yesterday about following a different Obama money trail.

Lastly, the Center for Responsive Politics has tables of the three presidential candidates’ top-20 industry-connected donations:  Barack ObamaHillary ClintonJohn McCain.:

 

For now I am just goin to post the link to this article. It is very informative on the politics of Chicago and Washington.  Its a long read but a good one.

Over the next few days I’ll be copying the actual text for posterity.

 

Curtain Time For Barack

>http://www.onenewsnow.com/Perspectives/Default.aspx?id=130686 

___________________________________________________________

Americans are hearing so much these days about how bad we are that we’re starting to believe it. 

In a recent Gallup poll, 68 percent said they are “dissatisfied with the position of the United States in the world today,” and 55 percent said they think that the rest of the world views us unfavorably. 

However, as I page through a publication called the Index of Global Philanthropy, which is produced annually by the Center for Global Prosperity at the Hudson Institute in Washington, it becomes obvious that these American feelings of self-deprecation are misguided.
 
This is the just released third annual edition of this index. It produces a unique snapshot portraying the full extent of American generosity to developing countries, by amount and by source.
 
Usually when the question of aid to the developing world arises, we think of government funds. But this index shows that, whereas it may be the rule in the rest of the industrialized world that most aid is government aid, in our country this isn’t the case. Most of the contributions that Americans make abroad are private and voluntary. And they are large.
 
In 2006, the latest year for which data is available, the index reports that Americans contributed privately and voluntarily $34.8 billion to individuals and organizations in developing countries.
 
Philanthropy is distinct from government aid in that it originates with private citizens and is voluntary, but also the recipients are private individuals and organizations, as opposed to governments. Private to private versus government to government.
 
The $34.8 billion in philanthropy from private Americans exceeded the $23.5 billion in official U.S. government aid abroad by $11.3 billion, or 48 percent.
 
This private philanthropy is flowing from foundations, corporations, private and voluntary organizations, universities and colleges, and religious organizations.
 
Of particular interest in this year’s index is the $8.8 billion reported from religious organizations. According to Carol Adelman, who directs this work, the data was produced by commissioning “the first national survey of congregational giving to the developing world” ever done.
 
The average contribution of congregations was $10,700.
 
To put this in some kind of perspective, the $8.8 billion in giving from American religious institutions to developing countries was $1.5 billion more than the total giving from all private sources in 30 of the world’s major industrialized democratic countries combined.
 
When consolidating all assistance funds flowing from the United States to developing countries, the total is $129.8 billion. This is the total of government aid, philanthropy, and remittances — funds sent directly by private individuals to other private parties in developing countries, often family members. A far second in total giving behind the United States is the United Kingdom at $20.7 billion.
 
There are a couple of important messages here.
 
First, of course, is the incredible compassion and generosity of Americans. American largesse does not need to be pried or forced by the government. It flows organically from free, civic-minded and often religiously motivated citizens. And it comes from citizens of every income strata. The religious giving data shows that whereas the average congregation gives $10,700, the median number is $2,500, indicating that there are many smaller, less wealthy congregations engaged.
 
The other headline is the central importance of the private sector in both generating prosperity, but also in sharing it.
 
Bookshelves now strain with studies showing the failures of government-to-government aid.
 
It is individuals who create wealth. Compassion and personal responsibility reside in the breasts of those same individuals. Neither can be said of government bureaucracies.
 
Barack Obama spoke at the commencement ceremony at Wesleyan University the other day. He talked about national service and, recalling John F. Kennedy, committed to doubling the size of the Peace Corps if elected president.
 
From what I see and what the data shows, Americans don’t need government to make them care, contribute, and volunteer. If anything, they need less government so they’ll retain and keep control of more of what they produce and subsequently share with those in need.
 
Other countries may have their own motivations for what causes them to view Americans the way they do. But the data is clear. Americans are unmatched in creating prosperity and sharing it.
 
It’s time to pay closer attention to what Americans do rather than what others say.

 

 

Star Parker (parker@urbancure.org) is president of CURE, Coalition on Urban Renewal and Education and author of three books.