Sunday, March 16, 2008

Obama as a sort-of Fascist

Fascism was the very popular combination of extreme nationalism with extreme socialism -- so Obama is clearly not a Fascist in any precise sense. So far from being a nationalist, he is not even a patriot.

But history never repeats itself exactly. The non-patriotic (international) socialists of the past were the Communists but they never had mass appeal. As Mao said, their power grew out of the barrel of a gun.

But Communism is now just about dead outside the Humanities Departments of Western universities so in Obama we may be seeing a new synthesis: A popular State tyranny like the Fascist one that does not rely on nationalism for its appeal. It is doubtful that such a tyranny would be so crass as to put out images like the satirical ones below but the reality behind the images might well evolve in the direction that the images suggest.

Images via Vanderleun

Obama's True Beliefs

I am coming to believe that Barack Obama is one of the greatest con artists we've seen. His entire campaign has been about "coming together," a post-racial consensus, etc. Any mention of his middle name was immediately condemned as ignorant fear-mongering. He has played the role of racial unifier with great skill and finesse.

But there is a great deal of evidence out there that he is anything but. The Reverend Wright is exhibit A. Mrs. Obama is Exhibit B. But there's lots more. Here is a piece by John Batchelor about some of Obama's other connections. For example:
William Ayers is the second Chicago figure to consider in the political profile of Mr. Obama. William C. Ayers, known as Bill Ayers, is notorious as a terrorist bomber from the 1970s who, on September 11, 2001, in the New York Times was quoted as finding "a certain eloquence in bombs." Now, at 62, Mr. Ayers, a former aide to the current Mayor Richard M. Daley, is an established professor of education at the University of Illinois in Chicago. Importantly, Mr. Ayers and his wife, the equally notorious Weatherman terrorist Bernardine Dohrn, hosted a crucial meet-the-candidate event in their Hyde Park neighborhood home in 1995 when Mr. Obama, also a Hyde Park resident, was sounded out by vital citizens, among them the retiring state senator Alice Palmer for the 13th District.

Obama's book is strewn with hints of his far left sympathies, as when he tells an African cousin who complains about the hardships of life in Kenya that things are no better in America. Or when he suggests that the lives of poor black young men in the inner city are blighted by white racism. He never says it explicitly, but it's there.

He has been very friendly with Rashid Khaladi, the fierce anti-Israel professor who took Edward Said's post at Columbia.

My own theory, FWIW, is that Obama acquired his far left views at least in part to make himself as authentically black as he could to compensate for having a white mother. His mother, of course, was very left herself. But looking the way he does, and having been raised among only white people (mother and maternal grandparents) he felt the need to better identify with his black heritage. That struggle is what the book is all about.

One can have sympathy for his psychological predicament . But that sympathy certainly does not extend to electing him president of a country that I sincerely believe he does not love.


Beyond Black Politics

African-Americans voting for Barack Obama are understandably proud of a candidate who is such an electrifying presence on the national political stage. But he has no black company on that same stage. Not a single other member of the Congressional Black Caucus would have had a smidgen of a chance at winning the Democratic nomination. None could have put together Mr. Obama's strong biracial coalition. How come?

The Illinois senator is not the typical black member of Congress. Perhaps partly for that reason, prominent members of the African-American political elite did not initially expect such excitement from black voters. At the start of the campaign, at least some black opinion makers saw Mr. Obama as not quite authentically black -- a man who, as prominent writer Debra Dickerson put it, might "go Tiger Woods on us and get all race transcendent." Ms. Dickerson was reluctant, she said, "to point out the obvious: Obama isn't black."

It wasn't a new issue. In 2000, when former Black Panther member Bobby Rush crushed Mr. Obama in a U.S. House election in Illinois, a consultant to the Rush campaign told a New York Times reporter that Mr. Obama was seen as "not from us, not from the 'hood." Despite his community organizing, he was too Harvard.

Finally, all Democrats -- whatever their color -- want a winner. Only when white voters in Iowa gave Mr. Obama his first victory on Jan. 3 were black voters persuaded they would not be wasting their ballot by backing him. Thus, in the Jan. 26 South Carolina primary, Mr. Obama got 78% of the African-American vote. A month later, civil-rights icon and Georgia congressman John Lewis was unable to ignore his state's 88% black support Mr. Obama, and abandoned his long-standing loyalty to the Clintons. Mr. Obama's share of the black vote dropped below 70% only in Massachusetts and New York, and in numerous states it hovered around 90%.

By now, with Barack Obama well on his way to clinching the Democratic Party nomination, there's an obvious question: If he can make such a serious bid for the presidency, why have so few blacks tried to gain public office in majority-white settings that would have been far less challenging?

There have been few black U.S. senators -- but aspiring politicians cannot win elections in which they do not run. The same rule applies to House seats. It's often noted that the vast majority of black members of Congress are elected from majority-black districts. That does not mean, however, that black candidates will almost inevitably lose in most predominantly white constituencies.

Black candidates, however, seldom take the risk of wandering into political territory where, in Justice David Souter's words, they are obligated "to pull, haul, and trade to find common political ground" with voters outside the group. There is no way of knowing how well a candidate with Mr. Obama's personality and style would have done in many majority-white constituencies, even in the South.

That is, of course, the catch: Barack Obama has done so well precisely because he is a different sort of black candidate. Most black politicians do not have the personal history that has allowed Mr. Obama to "find common political ground." They have also been groomed in majority-black districts where they have seldom needed to appeal across racial lines.

"The Voting Rights Act perplexingly integrates the Congress by separating people into different congressional districts on the basis of race," political scientist David Lublin has noted. The statute has conferred on minority candidates a unique privilege: protection from white competition. In theory, there are no group rights to representation in America. In fact, the 1965 statute has created a system of reserved seats for blacks and Hispanics.

Almost all members of the Congressional Black Caucus have been elected to fill a reserved seat. They run in what Justice Sandra Day O'Connor has called "segregated" districts. These are districts devoid of the normal political pressures that encourage candidates to move to the political center. Candidates win -- as Bobby Rush did -- by emphasizing their racial bona fides, their commitment to representing black interests, and their far-left convictions -- matching those of most black voters. It is not a recipe for winning in statewide and other majority-white settings.

Thanks to the Voting Rights Act, blacks have advanced in one very important sense: At every level of government they hold elected office, and in the South the race-driven districting was initially essential to that dramatic and rapid expansion in black officeholding. But majority-minority districts have also placed blacks in a world of limited political possibilities.

Perhaps the candidacy of Barack Obama can convince the black leadership, as well as the Justice Department attorneys and judges who enforce and interpret the Voting Rights Act, that it is time to move on. Barack Obama, in turning his back on the world of segregated politics, has shown the way forward



For a United States Senator, Barack Obama has been doing a lot of explaining about the company he has kept for the last 17 years or so. Take some Joe Blow Alderman off the streets of Chicago and examine his friends and acquaintances and you're bound to come up with a couple of unsavory characters that straddle the line of legality with regard to city contracts or their business dealings.

But Obama is not some regular Machine pol juicing the way for his ward heeling friends so they can grow fat and rich at taxpayer expense. He is a United States Senator and the Democratic Party's frontrunner for President of the United States. One would think a higher standard might be in order regarding such a man's associates. One would think.

The constant refrain of Obama defenders is that he is being unfairly criticized because his problematic friends and acquaintances represent nothing more than "guilt by association." Taken on a case by case basis, such a defense might ring true. But Obama's problem is that he has so many friends and associates where "guilt by association" is the explanation given by his campaign that one begins to wonder when we can declare the candidate just plain "guilty" of using horrendous judgment and question whether his connection to some of these characters actually goes beyond innocence of wrongdoing.


Former Weather Underground member and unrepentant terrorist bomber William Ayers was one of Obama's earliest political supporters. Neither Obama or Ayers will comment on the extent of their relationship but it is clear that they have had contact several times over many years. They have participated in several forums at the University of Chicago together where Ayers is a professor and even served on the same Board of Directors overseeing the far left Woods Fund.

"Guilt by association?" Some enterprising journalist might want to ask Obama what he was doing paling around with an unreconstructed radical who spent 10 years on the run from the FBI and whose views on America or so out of the mainstream as to make him a pariah even among liberals. He must have found something attractive about Ayers to continue what was described by a friend of both men as a "friendship." He may disavow the tactics used by Ayers but how about his ideology?

A politician can grow and change their views on a variety of subjects. This may be what happened to Obama over the years as his radicalism may have been tempered by both the reality of running for office and a sincere re-examination of his worldview. But shouldn't his long term relationship with this despicable character call into question at the very least Obama's judgment?

When decent folk would never dream of associating in any way with such a man as Bill Ayers, what does that say about the candidate? He could have refused appearing in the same forums with him. He could have turned down the spot on the board of the Woods Fund. But he didn't. And so far, no explanation has been given by the campaign beyond "guilt by association."


An even stronger case can be made that Obama's relationship with this anti-Semitic, Farrakhan supporting, race baiting preacher should be seen as beyond an innocent interpretation of the "guilt by association" theme. Wright heads up a church chosen by Obama after what he himself calls a long search specifically because of the preacher's sermons and his beliefs. What are those beliefs?
Sen. Barack Obama's pastor says blacks should not sing "God Bless America" but "God damn America."

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama's pastor for the last 20 years at the Trinity United Church of Christ on Chicago's south side, has a long history of what even Obama's campaign aides concede is "inflammatory rhetoric," including the assertion that the United States brought on the 9/11 attacks with its own "terrorism."

In a campaign appearance earlier this month, Sen. Obama said, "I don't think my church is actually particularly controversial." He said Rev. Wright "is like an old uncle who says things I don't always agree with," telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family.

Let me ask you, gentle reader, does anyone in your family talk like this?
"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Rev. Wright said in a sermon on Sept. 16, 2001.

"We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost," he told his congregation.

Now if you or I had heard our minister or priest utter sentiments like that, what would you have done? I believe it is not beyond imagining that most Americans would have gotten up from their seats and walked out of the church never to return. And Obama's reaction?
Sen. Obama told the New York Times he was not at the church on the day of Rev. Wright's 9/11 sermon. "The violence of 9/11 was inexcusable and without justification," Obama said in a recent interview. "It sounds like he was trying to be provocative," Obama told the paper.

Again the question must be raised. Rather than simply repudiating the comments, what is the front runner for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States doing attending this church? What in God's name is Obama thinking when he hears this kind of rabid anti-Americanism spewing from the mouth of this racist demagogue?

"Guilt by association?" Or guilty of stupidity and arrogance? When an overwhelming majority of citizens would go far beyond "repudiating" Wright's remarks and want nothing whatsoever to do with him, it calls into question Obama's fitness for the office of President when he makes mealy mouthed explanations as he did to the Times. Can we afford someone as president who might actually sympathize, although not agree with the Ahmadinejad's of the world when they start spouting their hateful rhetoric against America? Will he see them as simply trying to be "provocative?" He's heard it before and did nothing. Why would we expect him to stand up for America when his country is being trashed by the dictators of the world like Hugo Chavez?


Here is where Obama's relationships go far beyond "guilt by association" and enters the realm of deliberate obfuscation and perhaps even lying. Obama's ties to this scam artist and crook go far beyond what he told the New York Times - that he saw Rezko a couple of times a year and that he socialized with Rezko and his wife about 4 times a year.
Mr. Obama has portrayed Mr. Rezko as a one-time fund-raiser whom he had occasionally seen socially. But interviews with more than a dozen political and business associates suggest that the two men were closer than the senator has indicated.

The New York Times certainly has a gift for understatement. An FBI mole, John Thomas, who was working the Rezko case as a partner of one of Rezko's associates had this to say about the extent of how many times the two men saw each other:
Sources said Thomas helped investigators build a record of repeat visits to the old offices of Rezko and former business partner Daniel Mahru's Rezmar Corp., at 853 N. Elston, by Blagojevich and Obama during 2004 and 2005. ... Both politicians relied on Rezko for fund-raising connections. Obama was in the thick of his successful run for the U.S. Senate in 2004. Now in the glare of a presidential campaign, Obama has donated to charity $157,835 from contributions to his Senate campaign that he has linked to Rezko.

This is the kind of lie that will come back to haunt Obama as the Rezko trial proceeds. At every step Obama has sought to hide, to minimize, to dismiss his relationship with Rezko as a one sided affair - that of an eager Chicago fixer wanting to get close to an up and coming state senator. Instead, the picture that will almost certainly be revealed during Rezko's trial is that Obama and Rezko were close associates with Rezko being a crucial part of Obama's rise in politics while Obama for his part, aided Rezko in his business dealings.

How? By the time honored political tool known as "the drop by." Suppose you are a property developer meeting with foreign businessmen trying to convince them to invest in your plan. Suddenly, a United States senator shows up at your meeting to greet the foreigners, do a little backslapping, and thus give legitimacy and "juice" to the developer making it easier for the foreigners to trust him. The senator is in and out in just a few minutes. But the impact of his visit is not lost on the foreign businessmen. This is exactly what Obama did for Rezko on several occassions:
While it is not clear what Mr. Rezko got from the relationship, he liked to display his alliances with politicians, including Mr. Obama. In one instance, when he was running for the Senate, Mr. Obama stopped by to shake hands while Mr. Rezko, an immigrant from Syria, was entertaining Middle Eastern bankers considering an investment in one of his projects."

The above via Rezko Watch who adds this:
This "dropping in" appears to be very much a part of a tit-for-tat, the exchanging of political favors between Rezko and Obama-Rezko raised funds and contributed to the political ascendance of Obama. In exchange, Obama obligingly "dropped in" while Rezko just happened to be entertaining Middle Eastern bankers whom he wanted to impress with his connections and that he'd like to have as investors in his real estate developments in Chicago.

This is a favor done for a friend. It is not illegal. It is not even unethical - except it flies in the face of Mr. Obama's contention that he "never did any favors" for Tony Rezko. That statement is at the very least a shading of the truth. And it was made to hide the extent of his relationship with a very unsavory character.

And it isn't just Obama's relationship with Rezko that is at issue. The candidate has yet to explain the extent of his relationship with several Rezko associates who donated money to his campaign - all at the behest of Rezko. One contribution had to be returned by Obama because Rezko reimbursed the donor out of his own pocket.

All of this, according to the Obama campaign and numerous apologists, is simple "guilt by association." They claim that Obama has no connection to Rezko's activities for which he has been indicted and is standing trial. Except, of course, that Rezko was using the money he extorted from companies wanting to do business with the state and then turned around and made political contributions using that same money to Obama and other Illinois politicians.
In the government's case against Rezko, prosecutors allege kickback payments were diverted to others to make campaign contributions to Obama's 2004 Senate campaign because Rezko had already made the maximum federal contribution. Obama is not named in the government's document but his campaign has not disputed that Obama is the politician who received the money from Rezko allies, something backed up by campaign disclosure records. Money linked to the straw donations has already been contributed to charity, Obama aides said.

Obama has returned more than $150,000 of that money. There is probably more but it is admittedly difficult to find given the lengths to which Rezko went to conceal his activities. And the ultimate question that hangs over Obama like the Sword of Damocles: What did he know and when did he know it?

Rezko, Auchi, Alsammarae, Wright, Ayers - these are at least some of the shady and corrupt characters we know about who have had contact with both Obama and Rezko. The candidate refuses to address the extent of his relationship with any of them. When do we get beyond "guilt by association" of these people with Obama and start to wonder about just who this man is who is marching toward the nomination and a better than even shot at the White House?



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