Image (since removed) from Obama campaign website
The internets became briefly aflutter today when Charles Johnson noticed some rather interesting stuff on Barack Obama's official website. In the site's "community blogs" section, a post slipped in with the charming title, "How the Jewish Lobby Works." Charles also dug up another one called "Jemaah Islamiyah For Obama" that included the statement:
"We support Barack Obama for President because he is sympathetic to the plight of Muslims. He is a man of integrity, who will not be bullied by the neo-cons and the zionists. He will stand up for our oppressed palestinian brothers and sisters, whose land is being illegally occupied by that evil zionist entity whose name I just hate to even write."
The Obama campaign quickly sent the "Jewish lobby" post down the memory hole. Presumably, the "Jeemah Islamiyah" post will soon share its fate.
So does this matter? Yesterday, I wrote on the McCain campaign's wisdom in actually publishing a blog that people will read. Assorted conservative netheads agreed with this assessment, but some argued that the campaign should also "build a community." Building a community means allowing readers to make comments and, in most virtual communities, permitting them to create their own blogs within the mother blog.
But there's a problem with both virtual and real-world communities, especially large ones. The bigger a community gets, the more likely it becomes that it will have some cranks and weirdos in the population. When a community becomes a certain size, the presence of such an unattractive subpopulation becomes an inevitability. Therefore, if you willingly construct an online community of a certain size, you knowingly offer a platform to a certain number of whackjobs.
There are to ways for a campaign to deal with this. The first and most logical one is to not be in the community building business. The second is to have eternal editing vigilance in the community you've built, to make sure the whackjobs' offerings have a half-life of about thirty seconds. Obviously the Obama campaign either eschewed these two options or at the very least fell down on the second.
So how bad is this situation for the Obama campaign? One could argue that it was negligent in providing a platform to nutjobs. Fair enough, but as long it corrects the matter in a timely manner, I see no grave sin.
A bigger issue could be the inevitable question of why does the Obama campaign attract such supporters? On some large websites like the Daily Kos, a certain anti-Semitic undercurrent was impossible not to notice, especially at flash point times like during the Israel-Hezbollah war. I even wrote a story on that matter for the Daily Standard.
But the fact that Obama has anti-Semitic supporters can hardly come as a surprise. According to Rasmussen, 48% of a country of 300 million supports the man. That means he'll have not only anti-Semites but sexists, racists, flat-earthers and Yankee fans walking amongst his more sane supporters. For what it's worth, the same goes for John McCain.
So then the issue becomes whether the Obama campaign attracts an outsized number of disturbing freaks. This was the case with the Ron Paul community - the freaks defined it. Personally, I see no evidence of the same phenomenon with the Obama campaign, but if the outfit remains in the community building business, I guess they'll have the chance to prove me wrong.
The Obama campaign's real sin here is apparently having the na‹ve belief that it could harness the excitement of the blogosphere without dragging in all of the detritus that goes with it. Now that the Obama campaign knows it has been providing platforms to cretins, one can expect it to take remedial steps. If it fails to do so and blog posts like this keep popping up, then we'll have a rather more significant issue on our hands.
Who sent Obama?
University of Santa Clara Law School professor Steve Diamond asks, "who sent Barack Obama". He explains the context of the word "sent".
In Chicago politics a key question has always been, who "sent" you? The classic phrase is ... from an anecdote of Abner Mikva's, the former White House Counsel (Pres. Clinton) ... As a young student ... he walked into the local committeman's office ... and was immediately asked: "Who sent you?" Mikva replied, "nobody sent me." And the retort came back from the cigar chomping pol: "Well, we don't want nobody that nobody sent." So it is reasonable to ask, who "sent" Barack Obama? In other words, how can his meteoric rise to political prominence be explained?
Diamond's answer is speculative, but informative because it provides a look back into the youthful life and times of the man who might be the next President of the United States.
The most recent effort was by Jonathan Kaufman in the Wall Street Journal who argued that a critical connection for Obama was his links to some in the wealthy and prominent Jewish community in Chicago. This article contains some important insights and is well worth reading. But, I think Kaufman gets it wrong.
So, who did "send" Obama? The key I think is his ties not to well connected uber lawyer Newton Minow, as Kaufman suggests, but more likely to the family of (in)famous former Weather Underground leader Bill Ayers - not just Bill Ayers, but also Bill's father Tom Ayers and his brother John as well. Obama was a community organizer from about 1985 to 1988, when he left Chicago for Harvard Law School.
He has much, much more at the link above. I am not persuaded that this was the prime Obama connection, though it convincingly demonstrates that Bill Ayers was not just a peripheral player in the Obama saga, but probably a very pivotal one. And if the Ayers connection was the start, over time there were others. Evelyn Pringle notes that in the Byzantine labyrinth of Chicago connections Obama's relations with Daley and Blagojevich were almost institutional. "Barack Obama has a long history of working with Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and governors of Illinois, including the current Governor Rod Blagojevich, in doling government funding for housing development in Chicago. His history is hardly a model of success, except for the hundred of millions in profits made by the chosen few slumlords."
It is the prospect of learning about who sent whom that has journalists flocking to the Rezko trial looking for scoops. Douglas Ball of Toronto Life recently ran into the well known journalist James Bone in the first quarter of 2008. Bone was convinced he was onto something big.
I ran into James Bone outside Amy St. Eve's overflow courtroom, who filled my head with his assessment that Rezko is some sort of international (Middle East) bagman who is a much more significant figure than Chicago or other media realize. And here I thought Rezko's significance pretty much had to do with raising money for Obama, having dinner with Obama, and helping (a bit) when Obama bought his house.
Ball detected a political connection of a different sort. "James Bone, you might remember, is the famously dogged and ferocious reporter for the Murdoch-owned London Times assigned to the Conrad Black trial. Murdoch is a supporter of Hillary Clinton. Is it merely a coincidence that one of his reporters is now digging up dirt on an Obama pal caught up in corruption charges?" So the question in this case was also, who "sent" Bone. It is depressing to realize how vulnerable ordinary citizens are to the machinations of political cabals. Perhaps the only thing that representative Democracy has to recommend it is that it sets up a system of competition between rival groups of politicans. In that way rivals are always "sending" people against each other and with any luck, tie each other up enough for ordinary life to go on.
Barack Obama in his own words
'An ominous tone of authoritarianism'
Around this time in the presidential election cycle, Democratic candidates traditionally start "running to the center." With a wink and a nod to their core, far-left constituencies, the candidates in effect say, "For the next five months I'm going to sound like a small-government Republican, talking about tax cuts and free enterprise and a strong defense and cutting back the welfare rolls. But don't worry, this is just to have a calming effect on all those oxen we're going to get back to collectively goring next year." The rhetoric then shifts to the right -- until the day after the election, of course.
We hope our congratulations are not premature, but it's worthy of note that, so far, presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama does not seem to be taking this path. If Sen. Obama is elected president, it will not be because he has disguised the fact that he is a dyed-in-the-wool collectivist.
According to a transcript of the graduation speech Sen. Obama gave at Wesleyan University last weekend -- he filled in for the ailing Sen. Ted Kennedy -- this career politician (who lives in a house worth $1.65 million, made more than $4 million last year, and who wears very nice suits, indeed) advised the young graduates: "You can take your diploma, walk off this stage, and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and the other things that our money culture says you should buy. ... But I hope you don't. Not because ... you have a debt to all those who helped you get to where you are today, although I do believe you have that debt to pay. It's because you have an obligation to yourself. Because our individual salvation depends on collective salvation."
This was not a slip of the tongue. It was written out in advance. Nor is it likely this well-educated man does not know what he has just said. And while this doctrine follows quite logically from the direction in which the Democratic Party has been trying to take this nation in great leaps in 1913 and 1933 and 1965, it still represents a vast sea-change from the traditional American notion that we deserve to succeed and prosper based on our own, individual choices and efforts.
Of course it's meritorious to voluntarily help the less fortunate. But what the candidate has just said is that we cannot be "saved" by our own merit and labors if we do not force our neighbors to behave properly, as well. And that -- conversely -- so long as our neighbors work hard and do well, those of us who choose to sit around drunk or watching the soap operas all day are also to be saved -- "collectively."
Do we have this wrong? In a recent speech in California, the candidate's wife, Michelle, said, "Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. ... Barack Obama will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual -- uninvolved, uninformed." Campaigning in Oregon, Sen. Obama recently said, "We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK. ... That's not going to happen."
"Not going to happen?" asked Investor's Business Daily in a June 2 editorial. "Require? Demand? Never allow? If you detect an ominous tone of authoritarianism, so do we."
Yes, let's acknowledge the context. Sen. Obama in his Wesleyan address was trying to convey some sense of vision and idealism to young people about to start off into the world. And he did warn against pursuing "only" the big house and nice suits. Of course there are higher virtues than seeking wealth for its own sake. But Sen. Obama is not trying out for a job in the clergy. He seeks to become the chief executive officer of a secular state with enormous power to impose collectivism by force, should it fall into the hands of the wrong person. That's relevant context, here, too.
Sen. Obama thundered to the Wesleyan grads that, "At a time when our ice caps are melting and our oceans are rising," (Really? Is Miami gone?) "we need you to help lead a green revolution."
Yet, disturbingly, he made not a single passing reference, not a cursory tip of the hat, to the fact that graduates who seek jobs in commerce and industry -- manufacturing and transporting and selling the goods that fill our ports and rivers and highways, raw materials and finished products that make our lives longer and better and happier than those of half-naked savages huddled in some distant jungle hoping the panthers don't drag off the baby tonight -- are doing a "public service," as well.
In fact, the capitalist system is wonderful in the ruthlessness with which it rewards only those who can provide the public with a product or service they're willing to voluntarily pay for, faster or cheaper or better than anyone else. And while someone with the talent to be a surgeon or a physicist or an engineer is free to spend her day collecting soda cans, capitalism -- without forcing her choice -- reliably indicates to her which job is more valuable to society by the mechanism of the salary each job commands. Is it really possible Sen. Barack Obama -- who has had virtually no experience working in private industry, in a factory, in a mine, on a farm or ranch, in a store -- does not know this?
At the very least, as he expresses the "hope" that today's graduates "don't" chase after financial success, one might think he would express a passing word of gratitude to all those taxpayers out there who continue to labor to make $50,000 or more -- since those are the taxpayers who provide the vast bulk of the confiscated tax loot that our congressmen regularly turn into porkfat to purchase their re-election.
Not a word of thanks for our labors, Sen. Obama -- for the labors of those who built the Wal-Mart and the McDonald's, even if they did so in hopes of being able to afford a big house and a nice suit ... just like yours?
Obama the humble savior
By Mark Steyn
The short version of the Democratic Party primary campaign is that the media fell in love with Barack Obama but the Democratic electorate declined to. "I felt this thrill going up my leg," said MSNBC's Chris Matthews after one of the senator's speeches. "I mean, I don't have that too often." Au contraire, Chris and the rest of the gang seem to be getting the old tingle up the thigh hairs on a nightly basis. If Obama is political Viagra, the media are at that stage in the ad where the announcer warns that, if leg tingles persist for more than six months, see your doctor.
Out there in the voting booths, however, Democrat legs stayed admirably unthrilled. The more the media told Hillary she was toast, and she should get the hell out of it and let Obama romp to victory, the more Democrats insisted on voting for her. The more the media insisted Barack was inevitable, the less inclined the voters were to get with the program. On the strength of Chris Matthews' vibrating calves, Sen. Obama raised a ton of money - over $300 million - and massively outspent Sen. Clinton, but he didn't really get any bang for his buck. In the end, he crawled over the finish line. The Obama Express came a-hurtlin' down the track at 2 miles an hour.
But what does he care? Sen. Obama has learned an old trick of Bill Clinton's: If you behave like a star, you'll get treated as one. So, even as his numbers weakened, his rhetoric soared. By the time he wrapped up his "victory" speech last week, the great gaseous uplift had his final paragraphs floating in delirious hallucination along the Milky Way: "I face this challenge with profound humility and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people . . I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal . . This was the moment - this was the time - when we came together to remake this great nation."
It's a good thing he's facing it with "profound humility," isn't it? Because otherwise who knows what he'd be saying. But mark it in your calendars: June 3, 2008 - the long-awaited day, after 232 years, that America began to provide care for the sick. Just a small test program: 47 attendees of the Obama speech were taken to hospital and treated for nausea. Everyone else came away thrilled that the Obamessiah was going to heal the planet and reverse the rise of the oceans: When Barack wants to walk on the water, he doesn't want to have to use a stepladder to get up on it.
There are generally two reactions to this kind of policy proposal. The first was exemplified by the Atlantic Monthly's Marc Ambinder: "What a different emotional register from John McCain's; Obama seems on the verge of tears; the enormous crowd in the Xcel Center seems ready to lift Obama on its shoulders; the much smaller audience for McCain's speech interrupted his remarks with stilted cheers."
The second reaction boils down to: "'Heal the planet'? Is this guy nuts?" To be honest I prefer a republic whose citizenry can muster no greater enthusiasm for their candidate than "stilted cheers" to one in which the crowd wants to hoist the nominee onto their shoulders for promising to lower ocean levels within his first term. As for coming together "to remake this great nation," if it's so great, why do we have to remake it? A few months back, just after the New Hampshire primary, a Canadian reader of mine - John Gross of Quebec - sent me an all-purpose stump speech for the 2008 campaign: "My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it."
I thought this was so cute, I posted it on the Web at National Review. Whereupon one of those Internetty-type things happened, and three links and a Google search later the line was being attributed not to my correspondent but to Sen. Obama, and a few weeks after that I started getting e-mails from reporters from Florida to Oregon, asking if I could recall at which campaign stop the senator, in fact, uttered these words. And I'd patiently write back and explain that they're John Gross' words, and that not even Barack would be dumb enough to say such a thing in public. Yet last week his demand in his victory speech that we "come together to remake this great nation" came awful close.
Speaking personally, I don't want to remake America. I'm an immigrant, and one reason I came here is because most of the rest of the Western world remade itself along the lines Sen. Obama has in mind. This is pretty much the end of the line for me. If he remakes America, there's nowhere for me to go - although presumably once he's lowered sea levels around the planet there should be a few new atolls popping up here and there.
Marc Ambinder is right. Obama's rhetoric is in a different "emotional register" from John McCain's. It's in a different "emotional register" from every U.S. president - not just the Coolidges but the Kennedys, too. Nothing in Obama's resume suggests he's the man to remake America and heal the planet. Only last week, another of his pals bit the dust, convicted by a Chicago jury of 16 counts of this and that. "This isn't the Tony Rezko I knew," said the senator, in what's becoming a standard formulation. Likewise, this wasn't the Jeremiah Wright he knew. And these are guys he's known for 20 years.
Yet at the same time as he's being stunned by the corruption and anti-Americanism of those closest to him, Obama's convinced that just by jetting into Tehran and Pyongyang he can get to know America's enemies and persuade them to hew to the straight and narrow. No doubt if it all goes belly-up, and Iran winds up nuking Tel Aviv, President Obama will put on his more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger face and announce solemnly that "this isn't the Mahmoud Ahmadinejad I knew."
Every time I hear an Obama speech, I start to giggle. But millions of voters don't. And, if Chris Matthews and the tingly-legged media get their way and drag Obama across the finish line this November, the laugh will be on those of us who think that serious times demand grown-up rhetoric.
Obama the Trophy Wife
It seems as if Hillary Clinton is just the latest mature, dependable, experienced woman to be unceremoniously dumped for a younger, prettier doe-eyed companion. No wonder many women are mad.
When Hillary Clinton supporter Harriet Christian was thrown out of the Democrat Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting she found her unsought 15 minutes of fame on YouTube, where she declared Hillary "the best nominee possible. . The Democrats are throwing the election away, and for what, for an inadequate black male." Strong words uttered in an angry state. Commenters at YouTube and elsewhere quickly derided Ms. Christian as an uninformed racist provocateur and a McCainiac mole.
Very likely Ms. Christian - purportedly a lifelong Democrat - is none of those things. Nor are the other middle-aged female Clinton supporters who were ejected from that meeting only to display their bruised selves and psyches to the world.
The anger of Ms. Christian and her Democrat sisters has perhaps less to do with the fact that Barack Obama is an "inadequate black male" than that he is the trophy wife for whom Mrs. Clinton - and by extension, her graying, menopausal supporters - has been thrown over.
A trophy wife, of course, is the younger, less shopworn, unlined, doe-eyed, and sometimes opportunistic woman some middle-aged men marry upon achieving the measure of worldly success that puts them in more "elite" company. Mixing with a "higher caliber" of people, such men know what they wish to present to the world: energy, a tuned-in trendiness, a certain sleekness of manner, and above all, youth! If they can't quite project all of that with their comb-overs, their sagging jowls, and their reading glasses, why, a pretty young wife and pretty young children are just the accessories to help the illusion along.
To the curb goes the first wife, who worked his way through college, raised the children, kept the house tidy, blended the families, and played hostess to the bosses and hangers-on; she made him look good. The first wife laughed at the stale jokes, refilled the glasses, endured the late nights alone, and gazed in dewy-eyed worship as he took his bows. She learned to turn a blind eye to his follies - and perhaps his fillies - in the belief that one day it would all pay off. She believed in him and all he stood for; she espoused his cause and made his arguments, only to discover that if she Botoxed herself into mummification and submitted to looking as perpetually surprised as Nancy Pelosi, she was still a middle-aged woman - a little too wise and weary to impress his new, superficial friends, or to be impressed by them, and not terribly interested in a helpmeet/sidekick do-over.
Upon taking control of Congress in 2007, the Democrats found themselves running simpatico with those terminally elite nations who sniffed with disdain at American individualism while being strangled by the tentacles of their own statism. Emboldened by these openly chummy alliances, and sensing a GOP in the mood to slit its own wrists and die, the Democrats looked across the breakfast table at Hillary Clinton in her sensible clothes and felt a little disappointed. There she sat - a hard worker, smart, always willing to do what it took to win. By and large, she'd been a good helper, delivering the pretty little votes, raising the pretty big dollars, entertaining, organizing, laughing, gazing, and lying when she had to, for the good of the family.
But in the dazzling company of the left-elites, she looked . old, and worn. She could be a little shrill, and a terror with a lamp or an ashtray. She was shrewish and nagging - forever reminding everyone that she had sacrificed. If some smiled to see her arrive at a party, the smile was perfunctory; they only listened to her tiresome policy talk until they could murmur an excuse and find a prettier, livelier corner with prettier, livelier companions.
Then they spotted - Obama! He was young, pretty, and had a pleasing voice. He looked good in jeans and had just a touch of edginess about him when he smoked. He seemed born to be looked at. Not much real experience in the hard political world - a few turns around the dance floor with glamorous-seeming men - but he appeared eager to learn, eager to get ahead, and because he stood for almost nothing, he would be easy to lead. He hadn't accomplished much of note, but trophy wives don't need thick resumes.
As a trophy wife, Obama would be content to let the Democrats pull out of Iraq; Hillary might actually suggest they stay. Obama would be able to sell the socialized health care Hillary couldn't pull off. Most importantly, Obama would schmooze and photo-op with the elites for whose approval the Democrats so desperately yearned; Hillary was untrustworthy, there. She might snub Ahmadinejad and, like Bill Clinton before her, pledge to jump into a trench with a rifle to defend Israel. Obama would smile and look good while doing neither.
Putting both to the scales, light Obama rose in the balance; Hillary was judged too heavy. The Democrats threw over the tried and true to go with the trophy wife. The one they could train and show off to the world as "theirs," who was the very image of everything they hope to project about themselves, regardless of the realities.
When Obama first came on the scene, former CBS news editor Dick Meyer called him a Rorschach test, on whom the electorate could project whatever they wished to see. Some saw - and see - those nebulous words that can mean anything. Hope! Change! Peace! My best self!
Harriet Christian and the angry women who support Hillary Clinton and who vow to vote for John McCain in November see Obama the trophy wife. In the party, they see an insecure man reassuring himself and his cronies that he is successful, relevant, and energetic, even if some of that is illusory. They expect that the untried trophy wife - let loose upon the world and eager, so eager, to get ahead - will eventually make him nostalgic for the maddening but dependable first wife, who knew him, liked him, and understood how to restrain him from his own excesses. Having abandoned her for the expensive and exhausting "new" wife and the "new" family and the flashy friends, he will - in the wee, small hours - miss the dependable old gal he threw aside for glamour, but he'll never admit it.
No wonder those YouTube women are so mad
McCain Should Invite Obama To Hike Across Grand Canyon
Instead of challenging Barack Obama to a series of joint Town Hall meetings, John McCain should have invited Obama to hike with him across the Grand Canyon.
This summer, he's planning to hike the Grand Canyon with his two sons, Jack and Jimmy. In 2006, McCain hiked from the North Rim to the South Rim. "Thirty miles, two days in 115-degree heat … and carrying a backpack as well," Jack McCain, a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy, recently said in a Web interview.
Barack Obama, 25 years younger than McCain, has repeatedly insisted he won't make age an issue.
But, of course, Obama is and will. Not only would Obama wheezing along after McCain on the hike make the difference plain between a callow fellow’s appearance belied by his reality, it might even provide an opportunity for Obama to learn something about what it really means to be fit, including fit to be commander-in-chief and president.
To now, Obama’s campaign is more like the Billy Crystal line on Saturday Night Live, “better to look good than feel good.” The Anchoress writes an insightful peek into the emotional dynamics of Obama’s appeal, as “young, pretty, and had a pleasing voice” compared to the time-worn faithful wife Hillary. The New Republic’s Michael Crowley discusses the more tangible side of this equation, that Hillary Clinton worked hard to become a Washington insider, and that old qualification was not enough “just when Democratic voters were yearning for the ultimate Washington outsider.”
No one doubts McCain's far more extensive experience and knowledge. But, as with Hillary Clinton, that may not be enough. John McCain can learn something from Hillary’s experience with Obama. McCain could more quickly and effectively dispatch Barack Obama by showing the difference between them by a hike across the Grand Canyon than by Town Hall exchanges of cliches.
(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.)