Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Kenyan birth certificate for Obama?

From a Leftist source:

GOP dirty tricks operatives dispatched to Kenya to dig up any useful "dirt" on Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, Jr., and his late Kenyan father Barack Obama, Sr., believe they have found a "smoking gun." In this case, it is a birth certificate from the Kenyan city of Mombasa registering the birth of Barack Obama, Jr., on August 4, 1961. However, the registration is a common practice in African countries whose citizens abroad have families with foreign nationals. Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to his Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas, and Barack Obama, Sr., of Nyangoma-Kogelo, Kenya. Obama's parents were enrolled at the University of Hawaii. They divorced when Barack Obama was two years old.

On February 25, 2008, WMR was the first to report that a GOP opposition research team had arrived in Kenya to dig up dirt on Obama and his father: "WMR's intelligence sources in Africa are reporting that amid the post-election turmoil wracking Kenya, a three-person team (including a possible Korean-American woman) arrived in Nairobi last week and began asking questions about Barack Obama's father, the late Barack Obama, Sr. The team also inquired about the Senator Obama Secondary School in Nyangoma-Kogelo in northwestern Kenya, the area where Obama's father, an ethnic Luo, hailed and where his grandmother, Sarah Ogwel Onyango, still lives."

It now appears that this same team traveled to Mombasa and dug up a certificate registering the birth of Barack Obama, Jr., to his father, a Kenyan citizen, and mother, an American citizen. The GOP hopes to make the claim that Senator Obama is not eligible to become President of the United States because he was born in a foreign country, or, at the very least, plant the seed in the voters' minds that Obama is a foreigner even if the charge is false.

GOP operatives are already trying to make political hay out of the federal conviction on June 4 of Chicago Democratic fundraiser Tony Rezko on 16 of 24 corruption charges. The Republicans are attempting to show that Rezko had close links to Obama although the probe was more closely connected to the administration of Illinois Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich. If Rezko becomes a centerpiece of the GOP campaign against Obama, expect Democrats to resurrect John McCain's role as one of the infamous "Keating Five" US Senators. McCain was tarnished in the corruption and bribery investigation of failed Lincoln Savings and Loan chief Charles Keating in 1989.


Obama's Birth Certificate - a Forgery After All?

Atlas Shrugs is peddling a new theory that Obama's birth certificate was indeed forged, and that a leftwing blogger has admitted it. Oh sure. First this Geller character says the certificate released by the Daily Kos didn't have a state seal of Hawaii to prove its authenticity. So we contacted the Daily Kos and they said there was a digital error in the original release, and they have issued a corrected version, the true and authentic version, of Barack Obama's birth certificate proving that he was indeed born in the State of Hawaii and therefore eligible to run for President of the United States.

The truly authentic and real birth certificate is published below, showing it does indeed have a seal of Hawaii in the lower right hand corner. Will this ridiculous right-wing skepticism ever cease?

(A nice bit of satire from Saberpoint)

Obama: Radical in Liberal Clothing

The reigning media narrative is that because this is a heavily Democratic year, Senator McCain is a clear underdog to Senator Obama. The narrative has almost nothing to do with the appeal of the candidates' respective policies -- and it's clear the Obama campaign is concerned voters will begin to notice.

Consequently, in order to position himself for the general election, Obama has been running furiously toward the center-- deemphasizing his liberalism with the adroit use of linguistic jiu jitsu. As NBC recently reported, Obama declared:
"Let me tell you something. There's really nothing liberal about wanting to reduce money in politics that is common sense (sic). There's nothing liberal about wanting to make sure [our soldiers] are treated properly when they get home. There's nothing liberal about wanting to make sure everybody has health care, but we are spending more on health care in this country than any other advanced country. We got more uncovered. There's nothing liberal about saying that doesn't make sense, and we should do something smarter with our health care system. Don't let them run that okie doke on you!"

The person running the okie doke is Obama, who, with media acquiescence, has changed his rhetoric if not his positions on issues such as campaign finance, gun control, troop withdrawal, welfare reform, NAFTA and terrorist surveillance -- just to name a few.

Yet even with his recent attempts at moderation he retains positions on several significant issues indistinguishable from those of Dennis Kucinich. Most of those positions are opposed not only by overwhelming majorities of all Americans, but in several cases, majorities of Democrats as well.

Whenever a proposition polls in the 60% range, it's considered to be in landslide territory. That doesn't necessarily mean that someone supporting the minority viewpoint is a nut or an extremist, but at some point it may fairly be said that a person on the short end of several of these propositions is out of the mainstream. Here are just some of the issues in which Obama's on the fringe of American opinion:

Obama opposes offshore drilling for oil. Voters support drilling by 67% to 18%. (Rasmussen, June 2008).

Obama supports giving driver licenses to illegal immigrants. Americans oppose this 76% to 23%. (CNN/ Opinion Research, Oct. 2007)

Obama supports affirmative action in public employment, contracting and university admissions. Americans oppose giving an advantage in these areas on the basis of race by a margin of 82% to 14%. (Newsweek, July 2007)

Obama says that he will cut funding for research and development of missile defense systems. 89% of Americans support development of or research for missile defense -- 8% don't. (Program on International Policy Alternatives, March 2004) It's worth noting that Obama's closer to a pre-9/11 view of missile defense. An August 2001 Bloomberg News poll showed only 49% favored missile defense at that time whereas 41% opposed it.

Obama voted against a ban on partial birth abortions. Americans support a ban by a margin of 66% to 28%. (CNN/Opinion Research, May 2007)

Despite his equivocal statements regarding the recent Supreme Court decision striking down the D.C. gun ban, Obama has never met a gun ban he didn't like. Although many Americans support certain types of restrictions on guns, they oppose broad bans by a margin of 68% to 30%. In fact, 58% insist no new gun laws should be passed.(Gallup, Oct. 2007)

Obama opposed the Induced Birth Infant Liability Act while in the Illinois state legislature. The measure is designed to prevent abortion providers from withholding medical care and sustenance from infants born after surviving an abortion attempt. There's no national polling data on this state issue, but when the Senate voted on a analogous piece of legislation -- the Born Alive Infant Protection Act -- the measure passed unanimously.

Obama voted against a bill that would make English the official language for conducting business with the U.S. government. Americans support making English the official language 85% to 11%, including 79% of Democrats. (Rasmussen, July 2006)

While in the Illinois state legislature, Obama voted against parental notification requirements for abortions for minors. Americans support parental notification laws by a margin of 79% to 17%. Even 64% of those identifying themselves as pro-choice support such laws. (Fox News/Opinion Dynamics, April 2005)

Obama maintains that the Supreme Court's recent decisions prohibiting the use of race in determining public school assignments are wrong. In contrast, 71% of American agree with the decisions and only 24% disagree. (Quinnipiac, July 2007)

Of course, Obama's positions on other issues are more mainstream, but over the course of the primary season he made a number of statements that will play poorly in the general election: Obama plans to raise taxes significantly -- not just income taxes -- but payroll and capital gains taxes as well; he will re-invade Iraq if things fall apart when he withdraws the troops; he promises unconditional talks with leaders of countries that are state sponsors of terror; Obama vows to slow the development of future weapons systems, without any indication that this would be contingent upon other nations slowing the development of their systems as well; he will appoint federal judges in the mold of Justice Stephen Breyer and Ruth Bader Ginsburg and; he supports giving foreign terrorists habeas rights.

All presidential candidates take at least one position that's unpopular with the electorate; it's impossible not to in a heterogeneous society. And a candidate who's nothing but a weathervane of public opinion isn't likely to become an inspiring leader. But few, if any, serious presidential contenders have ever taken so many positions supported by so few.

In the circles in which Obama has been traveling much of his career, his positions on the issues are hardly remarkable. But the general election campaign will reveal that even in a strongly Democratic year, those circles remain a tiny sub-set of the American electorate.


Obama and the 'Image Thing'

At a fundamental level, elections hinge upon the most trusted intuitions voters have about their candidate's character. In most cases these intuitions are seldom aligned with the truth, as they are loosely based on external appearances and whatever the media chooses to put on its daily feed. Nevertheless, the labeling of a candidate that gains the most currency - in other words, the one that sticks - is the one that, given enough circumstantial evidence to support its tenuous correspondence with reality, will play a significant role in determining either victory or defeat for that candidate.

In the game of politics, the label that is used to pigeon hole one candidate may not necessarily work for another- but the principle of perseverance until a fitting label sticks works almost every time. For people who get paid to breathe life into a viable caricature of the candidate from the opposition, their work at pointing out his gaffes and consistently highlighting the negatives may in time yield the desired results, and soon enough a candidate may find that the very strengths for which he is so admired by his followers have almost overnight become his greatest liabilities. A case in point that probably haunts many of Obama's advisors is the 2004 presidential campaign of John Kerry.

In hindsight one can almost pinpoint the time when the downward spiraling of John Kerry's campaign began to gain serious momentum. It was not long after diligent republican strategists had done their work of helping to make the eviscerating tag of the flip-flopping candidate frame the national conversation. The overriding perception of an endlessly vacillating candidate became a powerful tool in the hands of republican strategists to sway many undecided voters in the 2004 election.

The fact that Kerry had not addressed emerging doubts in the consciousness of voters about the legitimacy of his military service also contributed to the imminent collapse of what was once considered a high-spirited campaign by many accounts, though in the end it became merely a peripheral concern of the voters.

This failure to stay one step ahead of the rumor mill and quickly defuse any allegations of misconduct or character weaknesses has served as a valuable lesson for the crafters of Obama's campaign strategy; a strategy that - not surprisingly - puts a premium on providing a timely response to negative publicity and unfounded characterizations from the opposition.

And it is not entirely unwise for Obama to heed the promptings of his trusted advisors to seize every opportunity to silence any potentially damaging rumors and squelch any unsolicited misrepresentations that may sometimes even come from loose cannons within his own contingency. But while he is being assured that this approach will only help to project an image of honesty and strength, the impression he is giving to presumptive voters is an altogether different one than that which his advisors have in mind.

In other words, there is a distinct possibility that he may be actually perceived as a supremely selfish man; the consummate politician who is more preoccupied with safeguarding the luster of his public persona than with the support from those whom he will readily disown should they in any way become a hindrance to the fulfillment of his life long dream. Not a label that Obama would intentionally embrace.

And therein lies the supreme irony. Barack Obama, lionized by his peers as the silver tongue candidate, eulogized by his followers as the fresh and untainted spirit in Washington, but seemingly oblivious to the fickle nature of political winds, may actually be helping history repeat itself.

For John Kerry, failing to quickly neutralize his foes' negative spin on his record meant the end of his presidential bid, which is why Obama can't be blamed for choosing an entirely opposite course of action. But as he aggressively tries to do his best to avoid mimicking the unresponsive approach that eventually sealed his predecessor's fate, he may actually be setting the stage to face a strikingly similar finale.


Obama's latest abortion "refinement"

To the growing list of Barack Obama's tactical moves to the right on terrorist wiretapping, gun control, trade, Iraq and the like we can now add abortion as well. In this case as in the others, he has moved in what would be the right direction on the substance, but in a way that strongly suggests he is trying to play voters for fools. In an interview with the Christian magazine Relevant, Obama says he doesn't believe that mental distress should qualify as a health exception for late-term abortions. He says:
I have repeatedly said that I think it's entirely appropriate for states to restrict or even prohibit late-term abortions as long as there is a strict, well-defined exception for the health of the mother. Now, I don't think that "mental distress" qualifies as the health of the mother. I think it has to be a serious physical issue that arises in pregnancy, where there are real, significant problems to the mother carrying that child to term. Otherwise, as long as there is such a medical exception in place, I think we can prohibit late-term abortions.

This view would put Obama to the right of Supreme Court jurisprudence on abortion reaching back to the Doe v. Bolton decision that accompanied Roe, and in direct conflict with all the justices he says he admires and with the reigning orthodoxy of the pro-choice movement-including the so-called Freedom of Choice Act, of which Obama is a co-sponsor and which he told a Planned Parenthood audience last July he would make a top priority as president (here's a transcript and a video, Obama says "the first thing I'd do as president is, is sign the Freedom of Choice Act."). After this startling reversal drew some attention over the weekend, Obama offered this clarification to a group of reporters:
Reporter: You said that mental distress shouldn't be a reason for late-term abortion?

Obama: My only point is this - historically I have been a strong believer in a women's right to choose with her doctor, her pastor and her family. And it is ..I have consistently been saying that you have to have a health exception on many significant restrictions or bans on abortions including late-term abortions. In the past there has been some fear on the part of people who, not only people who are anti-abortion, but people who may be in the middle, that that means that if a woman just doesn't feel good then that is an exception. That's never been the case. I don't think that is how it has been interpreted.

My only point is that in an area like partial-birth abortion having a mental, having a health exception can be defined rigorously. It can be defined through physical health, it can be defined by serious clinical mental-health diseases. It is not just a matter of feeling blue. I don't think that's how pro-choice folks have interpreted it. I don't think that's how the courts have interpreted it and I think that's important to emphasize and understand.

Clear as mud. Even after this second go, Obama is still clearly at odds with where he was during the primaries and before, with the bill he has championed, with the pro-choice groups who have endorsed him, and with the Supreme Court justices he has said would be his model for future appointments.

As with his other recent "refinements," his substantive move here would certainly be a welcome one, even an important one from such a prominent Democrat, if there were any reason at all to believe him. But given how quickly and seamlessly he has appeared to switch positions on so many prominent issues in the last few weeks, and how he has tried to present each new position as what he has always believed (rather than, in this case for instance, make a point of having come to disagree with at least the most extreme views of the abortion lobby) it is hard to imagine that either side on any of these issues finds much comfort in these increasingly peculiar neck-snapping reversals.

Despite the evident dishonesty of these moves, though, those of us with whom Obama is suddenly discovering so many points of agreement should certainly make the most of his awkward dance. Will other prominent Democrats agree with their candidate's newly discovered views? If not, why not?


Next Stop Serfdom

Prestopundit on Obama's service speech:

THIS IS SERFDOM. National service mandated by the state is what Europe had for centuries. It was called serfdom. For example, in France, citizens were required to perform public service building and repairing roads and other public projects for hundreds and thousands of hours a year. Serfdom wasn't eliminated in France until the French revolution, one of the "liberty" parts of that revolution. It was largely the American revolution which inspired this escape from serfdom. Indeed, the American revolution was all about escaping from the European model of servitude, with the American's insisting that even very moderate taxation without representation was a form of oppressive servitude. Incredibly, Barack Obama somehow believes that advocacy of a return to European style serfdom is a good way to celebrate the American Declaration of Independence from the oppression of English tyranny. I especially liked this part of Obama's speech:
when I'm President, I will set a goal for all American middle and high school students to perform 50 hours of service a year, and for all college students to perform 100 hours of service a year. This means that by the time you graduate college, you'll have done 17 weeks of service. We'll reach this goal in several ways. At the middle and high school level, we'll make federal assistance conditional on school districts developing service programs, and give schools resources to offer new service opportunities.


Obama's Tack to the Center

Barack Obama's tack to the center is quite clever for three reasons (and maybe more, but three is all I could think of). One, it may cause moderate and centrist voters to feel more comfortable about voting for him. That's the big one. Two, he's better off being attacked by John McCain as a flip-flopper than as an unrepentant liberal. And three, he gave up practically nothing in the process. The tack to the middle has been mostly a fuzzy feint that didn't lock him into any new positions.

Start with Iraq. He says he'll consult the generals before ordering troop withdrawals. No kidding! Any president would do that. The only new thing in his formulation on ending the war is that "stability" would be a consideration. But of course "stability" is a vague concept. Stability in Iraq in January 2009 will be in the eye of the beholder.

Obama's Iraq problem will come later in the campaign after his promised visit to Iraq. He'll find, contrary to his assurances last year that the surge would fail militarily and politically, that the civil war is over, al Qaeda largely beaten, and the Maliki government considerably less sectarian and dysfunctional than it had been. That's likely to be the reality that Obama will have to adjust to.

On several issues, Obama has given, then taken away. He endorsed a faith-based initiative, but said the religious organizations that accept federal funds can't discriminate in hiring. That's a killer condition, sure to drive most of them away. Religious groups, more often than not, insist on hiring co-religionists.

Obama told AIPAC, the pro-Israel group, that he favors an "undivided" Jerusalem. The next day, he took that away. On abortion, he said mental distress shouldn't be grounds for a late-term abortion, but he offered no path to instituting that change in the law. Then, not unexpectedly, he retreated from that position.

Commenting on Supreme Court decisions was the safest means for Obama to drift to the center. He said he supported the court's striking down of most of the District of Columbia's gun ban, but didn't say what sort of gun control legislation he might propose. He disagreed with the 5-4 decision to bar the death penalty for child rapists without revealing what he thought about the court's reasoning.

What have I left out? Obama said last week that he's patriotic, no matter what anyone says. This is largely a straw man. Of course he's a patriot. That's a given. Questions were raised, however, about his removal of an American flag pin from his lapel, but he provoked those by claiming he didn't want to project a false patriotism.

Anyway, bottom line: Obama is a very smart politician and an impressive candidate who wisely is trying to minimize his political vulnerabilities.



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