Are there any crooks that Obama doesn't like?
It looks like Barack Obama has taken a page from the Republican playbook, as he's pledged to loosen the federal reins on American business. And which industry does the Senator believe to be in most dire need of deregulation? Nuclear power? Healthcare? Financial Services? Nah - that's the "old politics". A New Kind of Politician deregulates organized labor. Specifically the historically corrupt, mobbed up Teamsters union.
Sen. Barack Obama won the endorsement of the Teamsters earlier this year after privately telling the union he supported ending the strict federal oversight imposed to root out corruption, according to officials from the union and the Obama campaign. It's an unusual stance for a presidential candidate. Policy makers have largely treated monitoring of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as a legal matter left to the Justice Department since an independent review board was set up in 1992 to eliminate mob influence in the union.
As for whether Obama's unusual endorsement bait represents a reasonable policy shift, the campaign notes that the Teamsters are in fact less mobbed up than in the past.
... John Coli, vice president for the Teamsters central region, who brokered the Teamsters endorsement, said Sen. Obama was "pretty definitive that the time had come to start the beginning of the end" of the three-member independent review board that investigates suspect activity in the union. Mr. Coli said that Sen. Obama conveyed that view in a series of phone conversations and meetings with Teamsters officials last year.
Obama spokesman Tommy Vietor confirmed the candidate's position in a statement to The Wall Street Journal, saying that Sen. Obama believes that the board "has run its course," because "organized crime influence in the union has drastically declined." Mr. Vietor said Sen. Obama took that position last year....
[Teamsters President James] Hoffa has spent much of the past month campaigning for Sen. Obama in Pennsylvania and Indiana, which holds its primary Tuesday. Mr. Hoffa has toured the state in a noisy brigade of 18-wheel trucks, stopping at warehouses and distribution centers along the way to praise Sen. Obama.
The special oversight to which the Teamsters are subjected was voluntary, a condition they accepted in order to escape a racketeering charge 20 years ago.
... Teamsters agreed to federal oversight in 1989, signing a consent decree to settle a racketeering lawsuit brought by the Justice Department. The consent decree required the direct election of the union president and other officers by rank and file members, in an election overseen by a court-appointed election officer. (Before, the president was elected by delegates.) It also set up a three-member independent review board to investigate corruption within the union.
But Teamster corruption and mob ties are a thing of the past, right?
Teamsters officials say that over the past 16 years, the influence of organized crime has been largely eliminated from the union, and the consent decree is now an unnecessary burden. The union says it spends $6 million a year to comply with the decree. The review board's caseload has dropped significantly over the years, to eight cases in 2007, from 70 in 1992. In 2006, one union member was permanently barred from the union for associating with a known member of organized crime.
And if they've managed to whittle down the rate of suspicious incidents to a mere eight/year under a watchful Justice Department, just imagine how squeaky clean they could be if everyone just left them alone.
More "White Hate" Discovered in Obama's Church Newsletters
Barack Obama announced yesterday on Meet the Press that he intends to continue attending Trinity United Church of Christ services after Reverend Wright retires in June. So far, the media has not paid any attention to the racist America-hating literature distributed at the church. But, that has not kept BizzyBlog from exposing the outrageous hateful articles included in the church newsletters. Here is an article that appeared in the July 2005 newsletter.
Here is a closer look at this bizarre Trinity Church newsletter article on "rhetorical ethic":
The double standard spoken by Mayor Livingstone is another example of what Dr. Marimba Ani calls "Rhetorical Ethic." Rhetorical ethic, according to Dr. Ani, is defined as: culturally structured European hypocrisy. It is a statement framed in terms of acceptable moral behavior towards others that is meant for rhetorical purposes only. Its purpose is to disarm intended victims of European cultural and political imperialism. It is meant for "export" only. It is not intended to have significance within the culture. Its essence is its deceptive effect in the service of European power.
The rhetorical ethic empowers Bush and Blair to claim to denounce terrorism while refusing to look in the mirror and at the Downing Street Memo to see how they have infected the world with a virus of hate and evil. The Downing Street Memo shows how they intentionally fixed facts and intelligence (or stupidity, depending on how you view it) in order to make themselves a war resulting in over hundreds of thousands dead- Americans and Iraqis. Please do not be fooled by the games these people are playing. It is no more than rhetorical ethic.
Is Obama henpecked?
Among other exciting things I have done, I was once the Gentile general counsel of a shomer shabbos company owned and managed by Orthodox Jews. It is the only time in my life when I have been an ethnic minority on the job.
Anyway, I learned a lot about Christianity during those years. Once, an Orthodox professor of mathematics asked me whether I went to church, and I said something grumpy along the lines of "when my wife asks me to." His reply startled me: "Ah, yes, I understand that in many Christian sects the woman is the keeper of the spiritual flame." And he was right.
With that in mind, a couple of months ago I speculated that Barack Obama might have attended Jeremiah Wright's church because Michelle wanted to go there. Indeed, I have always thought this was Barack's most probable motive, however politically inconvenient it is to admit now. After all, it would not do to confess that he went to that church because his wife wanted him to, even if some large percentage of the men in church on Sunday mornings feel the same way. Americans want their presidents to have genuine faith.
I had not seen this argument made elsewhere (although I would be amazed if it had not been), so I was delighted to see that no less an eminence than Christopher Hitchens has taken it up.
All right, then, how is it that the loathsome Wright married him, baptized his children, and received donations from him? Could it possibly have anything, I wonder, to do with Mrs. Obama?
This obvious question is now becoming inescapable, and there is an inexcusable unwillingness among reporters to be the one to ask it. (One can picture Obama looking pained and sensitive and saying, "Keep my wife out of it," or words to that effect, as Clinton tried to do in 1992 when Jerry Brown and Ralph Nader quite correctly inquired about his spouse's influence.) If there is a reason why the potential nominee has been keeping what he himself now admits to be very bad company-and if the rest of his character seems to make this improbable-then either he is hiding something and/or it is legitimate to ask him about his partner.
Unlike Hitchens, who is a proselytizing atheist, I am not sure it is important (even if legitimate) to ask Barack "about his partner." It is beyond obvious at this point that if her husband is elected Michelle Obama will simply join a fairly long list of annoyingly powerful and tediously opinionated Democratic First Ladies. The party of Edith Bolling Galt Wilson (a very distant TigerHawk cousin), Eleanor Roosevelt, and Hillary Rodham Clinton provides ample precedent for Michelle Robinson Obama.
Obama's National Conversation on Religion
Asked about the Rev. Wright on Meet the Press Sunday, Obama again tried to distance himself:
I think that the American people understand that when I joined Trinity United Church of Christ, I was committing not to Pastor Wright, I was committing to a church and I was committing to Christ. And it is a wonderful church. It's a member of the United Church of Christ, a denomination that dates back to the battles around abolition.
The problem here is that trying to separate Wright from the UCC - a church body with a long history of radical politics - is near impossible. As I wrote last week:
While American conservatives have focused resources and talent on highlighting the alleged takeover of academic and political institutions by liberal activists since the 1960s, comparably little attention has been paid to the same development in churches......
Jim Naughton, the director of communications for the Washington D.C., Episcopal diocese, claims "[politically liberal church bodies are] dealing with an attack funded by the same donors who have funded the establishment of the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, who fund The American Spectator magazine - the whole sort of intellectual infrastructure of the far right wing in this country has decided to target our mainline churches because it doesn't like where they stand on social issues, on economic issues and to some extent on theological issues."
Apparently, Naughton doesn't pay much attention to the Episcopal Church's own membership rolls: It's not just the vast right wing conspiracy that has a problem with the politicization of these churches. It's the laity that objects, and they've been voting with their feet. Nearly every one of these church bodies has been hemorrhaging members for decades now.
Case in point: the United Church of Christ, which has been grabbing headlines as the denomination of Barack Obama and the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, has lost some 40 percent of its membership over the last 40 years. When the Wright scandal broke, the church leadership vigorously defended Wright and his comments on the church's website and elsewhere. Is it any wonder that a church body that would embrace him is unpopular? The scandal with Wright isn't just that his views may represent a particular politician; it's also that his identity politics and arrogance may reflect those of many denominational leaders.
Indeed, if Obama's trying to pledge his allegiance to the UCC over Wright, from a political standpoint that's not really preferable. Over at the UCC website you can find out why God wants you to protest the FCC over media consolidation, campaign against legislation that mandates employers verify the legal citizenship of employees, prevent social security privatization, participate in an "Economic Justice Young Adult Team Immersion Experience," decry Wal-Mart's lack of "corporate social responsibility", and understand that "safe and legal abortion is consistent with a woman's right to follow the dictates of her own faith" and so on. Oh and let's not forget the time Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, called the UCC "functionally anti-Semitic."
Now that he's disowned his pastor, I'm looking forward to Obama initiating a national conversation on religion to explain his church.
Obama and Iran's nukes
Barack Obama wants to go easy on Iran and its nuclear program, and does not like Hillary Clinton's strident rhetoric on the subject (of course Obama put up with his pastor's strident rhetoric for 20 years without batting an eye). Obama's advisor on nuclear matters says defending against Iran's nuclear program is similar to the Israeli settlement movement. I kid you not. Where does he find these people?
Of course, it won't matter to many Jewish liberals, who see a Democrat label next to a candidate's name, and robotically vote that way. Fouad Ajami examines Iran's three decades of getting a free pass. With Barack Obama handing Iraq over to them, and allowing the mullahs to complete their nuclear program while he arranges face to face talks, they would receive new gifts. Will the CIA soon admit the NIE was wrong?
About That Crush on Obama
An interesting confession below from an Obama Leftist in the media
People with the slightest interest in politics, especially journalists, spent 2006 and 2007 smacking their lips and rubbing their hands in anticipation of 2008, relishing the prospect of gorging on the story of a lifetime: no incumbents running, a free-for-all of mad-interesting candidates, world-historical issues at stake. Mmmm!
Be careful what you wish for. This election cycle now reminds me of the one Looney Tune that terrified me as a child, where a selfish and gluttonous Porky Pig is subjected by a mad scientist to a nightmare of unending force-feeding. Enough already. Please. Enough.
And yet, being a glutton, I find I can't kick my present addiction to political data and chatter, even though gobbling it no longer makes me feel good. That jones is partly a function of this year's gripping Terminator battle between the Democrats-earnest young would-be savior-leader pursued by staggeringly destructive and nearly indestructible shape-shifting automaton. But it's also because in this election, as never before, I'm not a disinterested observer, not even pretending to be, but rather an unapologetic believer-I've been an Obamaphile from the get-go. My whole life, I've never cared about sports, never experienced that intense, emotional, extra-rational rooting interest in any team's struggle to win the championship. I figure this must be what it feels like to be a hopeful, fretful, stressed-out fan during the Super Bowl or World Series.
Clinton's supporters are clearly just as desperately devoted to their own on-the-ropes candidate, and must be obsessing in the same riveted, dreadful, nauseated way over the judges' scoring of the next (the thirteenth? Fourteenth?) round of the fight. And they're as grumpily, soccer-hooliganishly antagonistic toward us as we are toward them. These last five years, both sides have grown so accustomed to feeling a visceral, sputtering disgust with George Bush that it has been a seamless, easy devolution this winter and spring from anti-Republican anger to factional, internecine anger. At the very moment we'd become fatigued by our too-familiar, practically rancid loathing of Bush, this new dislike of Hillary (or Obama) that welled up is a fresh, exciting flavor of red-meat contempt.
But of course, I don't know many of those fierce Clinton supporters, because most of my friends and acquaintances are writers and editors and cultural impresarios of one kind or another-members of "the media"-and there are precious few Clintonites among them. Because almost as much as geography is dispositive in spectator sports-if you live in New England, you're bound to love the Red Sox and hate the Yankees-demography is dispositive in this year's Democratic race. And the great majority of media people are members of the same (white) demographic cohort that has rejected Hillary and voted for Barack-educated, more-affluent-than-average residents of cities and suburbs.
Contrary to the vast-left-wing-conspiracy visions of the right, much of the press never really loved the Clintons-they just feared and loathed their enemies more. The first people I ever heard viciously ragging on Bill Clinton, early in 1992, were a liberal reporter covering him and a writer then working as a Democratic staffer on the Hill. Part of it was visceral suspicion of the Clintonian political M.O. and character. And part of it, I think, was a kind of half-conscious intragenerational resentment.
When Bill Clinton was first elected, baby-boomers had just become an absolute majority of working journalists, and among some of them simmered an envy-cum-distrust of the first baby-boomer commander-in-chief. Somebody our age is president? Then, over the course of Bill Clinton's (bungled, distasteful) presidency and Hillary Clinton's (bungled, distasteful) campaign for the presidency, the couple have separately and together become incarnations of the most unattractive attributes of their generation's elite-blind ambition cloaked in do-good self-righteousness, a sense of entitlement, high-handed snobbiness ("I suppose I could have stayed home and baked cookies"), hedonism (Monica et al.), narcissism. As a poster couple for people of a certain age and demographic, they have become a bit of an embarrassment.
So it's ironic that the media and their fellow upscale Americans are now disposed to like Obama precisely because he resembles them in so many ways. The difference is he's relatively unsullied, an exquisite, idealized version of themselves: educated, thoughtful, twigged to nuance, a lovely writer, well-traveled, witty, cool, dignified, candid, a little quixotic, a clued-in grown-up but not yet ruined by the ugly facts of Washington life.
And, mirabile dictu, a perfectly postmodern embodiment of compromise between the hard binaries of race and age. He's both white and black. Born on the very cusp of the baby boom and Generation X, he's both oldish and youngish. And as a skinny, athletic, gentle-seeming, virtually metrosexual man, he nearly splits the difference on gender as well.
For voters younger than he, Obama is the closest they've ever had to a political leader of their own generation. (So far this hasn't generated the WTF jealousy Bill Clinton's fellow boomers felt in 1992.) And for the next-older cohort, at least the self-conscious ones who tend to dominate the cultural definition of any generation, Obama flatters their driving desire to imagine themselves forever young. He's technically a baby-boomer, but still comes across as a boy wonder, which allows people in their fifties to feel reassured that they're not yet decrepit. Plus if all the kids love him and we also love him, that means we're still kinda sorta youthful ourselves, right? It's related to the generation-gaplessness that modern parents enjoy feeling when they and their children watch Stephen Colbert together, and listen to the same music (Feist!) on their identical iPods.
Yet the flip side of all this is why Clinton's demographically determined constituencies haven't felt the Obama magic, why for them he's an acquired taste, like espresso. It's not only that the people who create and run the media-and who love Obama-occupy the social and cultural upper rungs. The world depicted in "the media," broadly construed-not just straight journalism but everything we watch and read and hear-is overwhelmingly a bright, shiny, upscale, youngish world. Uneducated white people, residents of the so-called C and D counties, and the elderly-in other words, Hillary Clinton voters-are seldom allowed into the mass-media foreground, and when they appear it's usually as bathetic figures, victims or losers. (And working-class black pop culture is considered part of the sexy mainstream in a way that working-class white pop culture is not.) The shocking eclipse of Hillary (an eight-figure net worth, maybe, but at least she's got a normal American name and a Wal-Mart shopper's bad hair and big bum) by this fashionable (black!) media darling is one more slap in the face for the people chronically excluded from the pretty mediascape version of America, one more damn new new thing that they don't really get. It makes them . bitter, and the bitterness makes them cling to the Clintons.
The media didn't see this coming. Back in February, when the new prince was gliding thrillingly up and up toward nomination, a part of the thrill for the media was their happy astonishment that they were no longer cosmopolitan outliers but finally (unlike in 1984 with Gary Hart) in sync with America: Regular folks, white people in Iowa and Virginia and Wisconsin, were actually voting for Obama!
That was then. With the ten-point loss in Pennsylvania, the latest Reverend Wright eruption, and the shrinkage of Obama's leads in the polls, the media are feeling lousy, and not just because their guy is taking a beating. If Obama is deemed to be an effete, out-of-touch yuppie, then the effete-yuppie media Establishment that's embraced him must be equally oblivious and/or indifferent to the sentiments of the common folk.
Uh-oh. As the cratering of newspaper circulations accelerates (thousands a week are now abandoning the Times) and network-news audiences continue to shrink, for big-time mainstream journalists to seem even more out of touch makes some of them panic. And . so . it's all . his fault, that highfalutin Obama! Certain journalistic stars these last few weeks (hello, George Stephanopoulos!), instead of copping to the "elitist" sensibilities they obviously share with him (and the Clintons and McCain) -we travel abroad and read books, we have healthy bank accounts and drink wine; so shoot us- reacted by parroting the Clinton campaign's faux-populist talking points about Obama's condescension toward the yokel class. But pandering to the yokels, pretending to share their tastes and POV? That goes pretty much unchallenged. If the wellborn New England Wasp George W. Bush (Andover '64, Yale '68, Harvard '75) could be successfully refashioned as a down-home rustic, why shouldn't Hillary Clinton (Wellesley '69, Yale '73) be talkin' guns and drinkin' Crown Royal shots and droppin' all the g's from her gerunds whenever she speaks extemporaneously these days? Naked disingenuousness apparently isn't as off-putting as, say, failing to pin a tiny metal American flag to one's lapel.
For all I know, the Clinton voters find Obama's spazzy [Naughty, naughty! "Spazzy" is one of the forbidden words these days -- as Tiger Woods found out a while back. It "demeans" sufferers from cerebral palsy, we are told] bowling and Jay-Z referencing just as irritating. Like I said, the Democratic race has become for many of us an intense playoff simulacrum, and fans love their team and curse the opponents blindly and faithfully. I can't quite believe that I have been driven to baseball-geek analogies . but here I find myself nevertheless, feverishly hoping that the story ends not in the fashion of last year's awful, amazing Mets, but like the Yankees in 2000, when they nearly blew their big lead in the season's final weeks before straightening up and winning the World Series.
(For more postings from me, see DISSECTING LEFTISM, TONGUE-TIED, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, GREENIE WATCH, POLITICAL CORRECTNESS WATCH, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.)