Tuesday, June 24, 2008

The Content Of His Character

In August of 1963, a muggy, sweltering day, a Senior at Mt. Vernon High School stood by the reflecting pool between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument.  The student was only one of many many thousands that day, gathered in the hopes that some day there would be peace between white and black Americans.  That student was me, and I was less than a month from my 17th Birthday. 

As a 6th grader I witnessed the hostility and hatred of my fellow whites when Central High School in Little Rock was integrated.  I cringed when called "nigger-lover" by some of my school mates who had never gone to school with blacks or ever associated with them or maybe even never knew one.  You see, I grew up in the Army, my dad was a career officer and the Military had been integrated by President Truman in 1948.  Integration was all I knew and I had no problems with it.

But, I digress, I stood with the thousands and listened to the tenor voice of Martin Luther King.  As his voice rang out, this phrase in particular struck me, as it still does 45 years later:
"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."
Judged by the content of their character.  What a concept that is, when at the time, so many were judged by the color of their skin, the region they came from or the god that they worshiped, should not be judged by these things, but by their character.

And so we have arrived at today, having been through tumult, asassinations, riots and slow but positive growth, to a point where African Americans are elected by solid majorities to office in the south, where the bastions of hatred have been ground down, but unfortunately, where there are also those who would keep the races apart (Jessie, Al, are you reading this?) and those who depend on anger and hostility to keep their names in light.

We have had African Americans as Secretary of State, as Generals and Admirals, as Presidents of large Corporations, and now, a black American is running for President of the United States and it looks like he will get the nomination from the Democrat Party.  Yet, in my opinion, the content of their character is still important.

Barack Obama proclaimed he would pull out of Iraq immediately, and now he says he won't. He said that he would be using public financing for his race, and now he won't. He has said that NAFTA was anathema, and now all of a sudden, it isn't. He has attended a church where some of the most vile racist comments made from a pulpit have rung forth, and now he says that wasn't the Jeremiah Wright he knew. He has associated with, and benefited from associations with an admitted but unconvicted urban terrorist. He has manipulated opposition off of the ballot in order to win elections. And he has said, in spite of no one making this association BUT him, that the opposition will play the race card.

The content of his character has been weighed. And has been found wanting!


Even Europe is worried about Obama winning

Until now, it seems that everyone outside the United States is crazy about Democratic Presidential nominee Barack Hussein Obama. Now it appears that maybe even the Europeans are beginning to wake up and smell the coffee

European officials are increasingly concerned that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign pledge to begin direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program without preconditions could potentially rupture U.S. relations with key European allies early in a potential Obama administration.

European officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they are wary of giving up a demand that has been so enshrined in U.N. resolutions, particularly without any corresponding concessions by Iran. Although European officials are eager to welcome a U.S. president promising renewed diplomacy and multilateralism after years of tensions with the Bush administration, they feel strongly about continuing on the current path.

"Dropping a unanimous Security Council condition would simply be interpreted by Iran and America's allies as unconditional surrender, and America's friends would view this as confirmation of America's basic unreliability," said Fran‡ois Heisbourg, a Paris-based military analyst with the International Institute for Strategic Studies. "A hell of a way to start a presidential term."


Black Republican tells Obama to run as a man and leader, not as a black victim

In response to Obama's claim that Republicans will use race to stoke fear, Lt. Col Allen West, candidate for Congress in Florida's 22 District issued this release:
My advice to Senator Obama is to run as a Man and Leader, and the American people will evaluate you as such, not as a victim. This is a Presidential race, based solely on a capacity to lead the United States of America. It is not about skin tone...however, perhaps we should come to expect these immature statements.

It also seems rather humorous that the Presidential candidate who was supposed to be such a "uniter" and transcend race is the one talking about it the most. If Senator Obama was confident in his abilities and character, he would not need to create a crutch for failure. Senator Obama has just tipped his hand, any criticism of him and his policies will be directly attributed to racism. I congratulate Senator Obama for taking race relations in America back some 30 years.


Guilt-Baiting "Whitey" to vote for Obama

It's on! Full court press. First Obama tells us that the "typical white person" is scared of him. The he tells people that the GOP would play the "race card" on him to stop him from getting elected. Then the "White Supremacist" are on the loose. Now it's the Washington Post telling us that "racism" could stop Obama from being elected.
"As Sen. Barack Obama opens his campaign as the first African American on a major party presidential ticket, nearly half of all Americans say race relations in the country are in bad shape and three in 10 acknowledge feelings of racial prejudice, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News poll.

Lingering racial bias affects the public's assessments of the Democrat from Illinois, but offsetting advantages and Sen. John McCain's age could be bigger factors in determining the next occupant of the White House.

Overall, 51 percent call the current state of race relations "excellent" or "good," about the same as said so five years ago. That is a relative thaw from more negative ratings in the 1990s, but the gap between whites and blacks on the issue is now the widest it has been in polls dating to early 1992.

More than six in 10 African Americans now rate race relations as "not so good" or "poor," while 53 percent of whites hold more positive views. Opinions are also divided along racial lines, though less so, on whether blacks face discrimination. There is more similarity on feelings of personal racial prejudice: Thirty percent of whites and 34 percent of blacks admit such sentiments.

At the same time, there is an overwhelming public openness to the idea of electing an African American to the presidency. In a Post-ABC News poll last month, nearly nine in 10 whites said they would be comfortable with a black president. While fewer whites, about two-thirds, said they would be "entirely comfortable" with it, that was more than double the percentage of all adults who said they would be so at ease with someone entering office for the first time at age 72, which McCain (R-Ariz.) would do should he prevail in November.

Even so, just over half of whites in the new poll called Obama a "risky" choice for the White House, while two-thirds said McCain is a "safe" pick. Forty-three percent of whites said Obama has sufficient experience to serve effectively as president, and about two in 10 worry he would overrepresent the interests of African Americans.

Obama will be forced to confront these views as he seeks to broaden his appeal. He leads in the Post-ABC poll by six percentage points among all adults, but among those who are most likely to vote, the contest is a tossup, with McCain at 48 percent and Obama at 47 percent.

His campaign advisers hope race may prove a benefit, that heightened enthusiasm among African Americans will make Obama competitive in GOP-leaning states with large black populations. But to win in November, Obama most likely will have to close what is now a 12-point deficit among whites. (Whites made up 77 percent of all voters in 2004; blacks were 11 percent, according to network exit polls.)"

From all this you can see the ground work being laid that will call Americans "racist" if they don't vote for Obama. So America, and especially "whitey" America, prepare to vote for the nation's first "Affirmative Action" Choice for President. Forget the fact that he's not qualified and indeed under-qualified for the job, you have to vote for him America! You MUST vote for him because after all ."He's black". Who's race-baiting now?


Obama's policies have been tried before

As the presidential campaign drones on, Barack Obama and the Democrats are fleshing out the promise of "change" with some specific, big-government policy proposals. Many are familiar, perhaps because they already have been tried - in Argentina. That country has gone from South American breadbasket to world-class basket case. For the long version of how it happened and why Americans might not want to try it, hop on a flight to Buenos Aires. Here's a condensed version:

Although the winding down of Argentina to the status of international deadbeat began a century ago, the latest chapter is instructive. In March, President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner seized on rising soybean prices to slap "a windfall tax" on soy exports. Farmers refused to pay, the president wouldn't budge, and a deadlock ensued.

Much of the rest of the country joined sides with the growers. But the uprising is no longer a tax revolt. It has become a rebellion against unfettered executive reach - or, in the view of the opposition, Mrs. Kirchner's authoritarianism. A week ago thousands of Argentines poured into the streets of cities around the country, banging pots and pans to express their dissatisfaction with their president's heavy-handed ways. It was the largest public outcry since the economic crisis in 2001.

Mrs. Kirchner, whose approval rating is down to 20%, responded to the protests in a harshly worded speech on Tuesday. She warned that "the country cannot be governed by casserole dishes, bullhorns and roadblocks." Easy to say now. But it was saucepans in the streets that led to the collapse of the government of President Fernando de la Rua in 2001. Mrs. Kirchner didn't seem to mind that overthrow of democracy, perhaps because her Peronist husband N‚stor Kirchner was subsequently elected president.

Nor did Mrs. Kirchner cry foul when her husband used "emergency powers," delegated to him by the Peronist-controlled Congress, to rule by decree for five years. There was no intervention that Mr. Kirchner considered out of bounds. It was, after all, "a crisis." He imposed price controls, raised export taxes, increased populist subsidies, abrogated contracts, stiffed creditors, ended central-bank independence and even manipulated inflation statistics. The private sector and profits were demonized and the press was harassed.

The repression worked well enough to get his wife elected in October, but now the wheels are coming off again. Mrs. Kirchner's recent verbal defense of her beloved "democracy" is hard to square with the fact that she is following in the footsteps of her husband, who had no respect for institutional checks or balances.

This gets us to the root of the problem, which developed long before the Kirchners' abuses of market and legal principles. The constitution once held limited government and private property to be among the highest ideals of the land. But in the 1920s these protections, which had made the country a magnet for immigrants and the seventh-largest economy in the world, began to erode.

An early example of this assault on liberty was when Congress imposed a rent freeze to deal with a housing shortage after World War I. This only exacerbated the problem, and in 1922 a politicized Supreme Court widened state powers to allow the regulation of rents. That decision put property-rights protection on a slippery slope. A decade later the Court gave the legislature the power to regulate interest rates.

The interventions didn't end there, and as state control of the economy expanded and the nation grew poorer, the country could not recover its footing. Economic populism and labor militancy took hold; protectionism blossomed and Argentina became a welfare state. Meanwhile, the informal economy swelled under the high cost of legality.

Fiscal crises have been recurring. According to a paper recently released by researchers at the Buenos Aires business school Eseade, external debt as a percentage of GDP has now climbed to 56% compared to 54% in 2001. If you include the unpaid debt to bondholders, the number is 67%. More than a few analysts are worried that should the economy slow, the government may tap Central Bank reserves, sparking a run against the peso or, fearing that, choose default, for the second time in a decade, as its escape hatch.

Will that mean an end to ballooning entitlements, class warfare, hostility toward producers, capital and private property, protectionism and subsidized central-planning? Unlikely.

Americans reading that laundry list may note that it sounds a lot like the mindset of the left wing that will dominate the Democratic Party's convention and choose Barack Obama as its candidate in August. From nationalized health care and government-owned refineries to punishing taxes on the rich, Argentina has been there, done that. There are good reasons to find the resemblance disturbing.


Did Barack Obama disparage his trip to Israel?

Barack Obama's views towards Israel have elicited much controversy over the last six months involving his relationship with his pastor (and "sounding board", "moral compass" and "confidant") Jeremiah Wright, his activities with pro-Palestinian and anti-Israel groups in Chicago, problematic foreign policy advisers (who, for good measure, take a jaundiced views of American Jews as well as Israel) and his own foreign policy opinions and actions (Iran is a "tiny nation" that he dismisses as a threat, his outreach efforts towards Iran, his shifting positions on designating the Iran revolutionary Guard as a terror group, and more).

Yet, Congressman Robert Robert Wexler (D-FL) had the audacity very early in Barack Obama's Presidential campaign to hail him as someone who "loves Israel" based on a few days' trip Senator Obama took to Israel last year (his only trip to the Middle East).

How does this square with other facts that have come to light -- especially from Barack Obama himself? Aside from the above points, what has Barack Obama said about his trips overseas and the impact they have had on him, the insight and knowledge and appreciation (let alone "love") that these trips have generated? In fact, he has been quite dismissive of these trips. During his primary campaign, he spoke:
"Experience in Washington is not knowledge of the world," he continued, provoking laughter among those present. "This I know. When Senator Clinton brags, `I've met leaders from 80 countries,' I know what those trips are like. I've been on them. You go from the airport to the embassy. There's a group of children who do a native dance. You meet with the C.I.A. station chief and the embassy and they give you a briefing. You go take a tour of plant that" with "the assistance of Usaid has started something. And then, you go."

Senator Obama has been on three such trips as Senator: to the former Soviet Union, to Kenya, and to the Middle East (in nine days, he visited Iraq, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan -- with a focus on Israel -- 5 days spent there).

Now, it would be odd for a man who presumes he is fit to be President to disparage his visit to the former Soviet Union (a key power he will have to deal with and one that is exquisitely sensitive to slights coming from America -- Putin is a nationalist above all who blames America for the chaos that followed from the downfall of Communism), his trip to Kenya had a strong emotional effect on him as Kenya was his father's homeland (he met members of his extended family there) and he touted AIDS relief work there.

Does that leave his excursion to Israel as the one being ridiculed and disparaged by him when he dismisses the value of such trips as a Senator? If so, does he really "love Israel" as is claimed by Robert Wexler?

This claim can also be questioned when listening to Barack Obama's own words when he reflected on this trip in a podcast from the airport when he was preparing to leave Israel. He speaks of traveling through the "Palestinian territories" (prejudging the final status of these lands); talks about the "separation barrier" * (with its apartheid connotations, as opposed to the more common and accurate designation as a "security fence") and states that he believes Israel was strong enough to deter all threats, that Israel "possesses such superior military forces, that they don't really have enormous vulnerability in a conventional sense. There is no risk of invasion by its neighbors" -- thus implying that it could take risks for peace (this was before Hezbollah's attacks on Israel -- which tended to show the opposite).

Much of Senator Obama's discussion revolved around the contrast between a militarily strong Israel with a booming economy and the suffering of Palestinians ** He did blame some of the suffering of the Palestinians on Yasser Arafat (who was alive at the time) and Palestinian leadership. But the lingering image he took with him was a strong and prosperous and militarily strong Israel, and Palestinians suffering behind a "separation barrier".

Given that Barack Obama disparages such trips overseas, and given his depiction of the five days he spent in Israel and among the Palestinians, can we truly take to heart Robert Wexler's over the top claim that Barack Obama "loves Israel". If one can have qualms about this statement, then can we question other claims made by Robert Wexler regarding Barack Obama and his views towards the Middle East conflict?

Quotes from Obama referred to in the paragraphs immediately above:

* "The separation barrier is a major bone of contention between Palestinians and Israelis at this point. In most portions it's a high fence that appears temporary and could be moved if the peace process and negotiations go forward. In some places it is a wall -- a high barrier that can't be breached and certainly looks permanent."

** "As you travel through the West Bank, you get a sense of the differences between life for Palestinians and Israelis in this region. Palestinians have to suffer through the checkpoint system, the barriers, the fenced-in wall that exists just to get to their jobs, often times to travel from north and south even within the west bank. It's created enormous hardship for them -- there is high unemployment and the economy is not doing as well as it should."



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