Media Excuse Obama's False Advertising
What happens when the "fact-checkers" don't check facts and the "watchdogs" don't watch? Consider the case of those who claim to be watching politicians for lies and deceptions and pretend to analyze Senator Barack Obama's new patriotic "Country I Love" television ad, airing in 18 states. The Annenberg Political Fact Check, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania, and Washington Post media reporter Howard Kurtz have written analyses of the Obama ad. But they are as flawed as the ad itself.
The Obama TV ad purports to describe his upbringing and legislative accomplishments but ignores his childhood mentor, Communist Frank Marshall Davis. While Obama associates Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn looked to Havana and Hanoi for their inspiration and guidance, Davis loved the old Soviet Union and refused to answer questions under oath about his Communist Party membership. He was a Stalinist.
Overall, there is a pattern of people who hate America showing up at critical junctions in Obama's life and career to influence and advise him. But he wants us to believe that somehow American "values" have been instilled in him. By whom?
By airing his patriotic ad, Obama is trying to suggest that whatever associations he had with these and other anti-American figures, and whatever mysterious circumstances he may have been raised or trained in, he still managed to somehow become a loyal American. But how is this possible? Which pro-American political figures had any influence at all on his life and career? Would he please name some?
A reasonable interpretation of this ad, based on what we know about Obama so far, would have to conclude that it is the most deceptive commercial ever to air in the history of politics. It is designed to mask the fact that Obama, with all of his baggage, could not by any reasonable standard get a federal security clearance. But our media don't have the basic integrity to point this out.
Here is the ad text:
"America is a country of strong families and strong values. My life's been blessed by both. I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. We didn't have much money, but they taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland where they grew up. Accountability and self-reliance. Love of country. Working hard without making excuses. Treating your neighbor as you'd like to be treated. It's what guided me as I worked my way up taking jobs and loans to make it through college. It's what led me to pass up Wall Street jobs and go to Chicago instead, helping neighborhoods devastated when steel plants closed. That's why I passed laws moving people from welfare to work, cut taxes for working families and extended health care for wounded troops who'd been neglected. I approved this message because I'll never forget those values, and if I have the honor of taking the oath of office as president, it will be with a deep and abiding faith in the country I love."
It is airing in the following states: Alaska, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Virginia
The Obama ad, which also touts his alleged legislative accomplishments, is curious for another reason. It ignores his costly pro-U.N. Global Poverty Act, now on the verge of full Senate passage.
The reason for the omission is obvious: Obama's campaign understands that the bill, which commits the United States to spending more foreign aid money on the rest of the world, is not popular with the American people and would make him look like an anti-American globalist and socialist. This perception has to be avoided at all costs.
"America is a country of strong families and strong values," Obama declares in the ad. "My life's been blessed by both. I was raised by a single mom and my grandparents. We didn't have much money, but they taught me values straight from the Kansas heartland where they grew up."
In fact, his white grandfather helped raise Obama by selecting Frank Marshall Davis, a black communist writer and poet, as a father-figure and role model while he was growing up in Hawaii. His values, passed on to Obama, were those of a communist agent who pledged allegiance to Stalin. Among other things, as Obama himself admits in his book, "Frank" told him that blacks had a reason to hate whites and that he should not believe that [expletive deleted] about the American way of life. Davis was an influence over Obama during the years 1975-1979. His "poetry" is viciously anti-American and pro-Soviet. And yet Obama listened to it growing up.
All of this has been well-documented in numerous articles by Accuracy in Media, based on information in Obama's book, Dreams From My Father; books by and about Davis; and interviews with and speeches by those who had information about Davis's role in raising Obama. Congressional investigations named Davis as a key member of the Communist Party USA involved in a Soviet network that also included actor Paul Robeson and labor leader Harry Bridges.
The Davis Connection
Professor Paul Kengor makes the essential point that the role of Davis in influencing Obama has to be taken into account.
"Davis and his comrades worked to undermine genuine liberal causes because of their lock-step subservience to the Comintern and the USSR," he notes. "Modern liberals need to understand, for example, how the American communist movement, including men like Davis, flip-flopped on issues as grave as Nazism and World War II based entirely on whether Hitler was signing a non-aggression pact with Stalin or invading Stalin's Soviet Union. The disgusting about-face by CPUSA on this matter was unforgivable. And what a shame that liberal college professors don't teach this to their students. Liberals also need to know how their friends inside government were used by communists who sought victory for Mao Tse-Tung in China in 1949, which would lead to the single greatest concentration of corpses in human history: 60-70 million dead Chinese from 1957 to 1969."
Does Obama understand the dangers of communism and socialism? It is not reassuring to consider that Obama obviously doesn't want the public to know that his childhood mentor was a Stalinist member of a communist network in Hawaii. His "Country I Love" TV ad ignores it. But that's why we are supposed to have outside "fact-checkers," media watchdogs, and the media themselves.
Nevertheless, the Annenberg Political Fact Check project declares that Obama's "description of his upbringing and work history are accurate." It claims, "The basic details that Obama provides about his family are correct. His books and various news reports confirm that Obama was raised in Hawaii by his mother and grandparents, who were transplants from Kansas."
Books and various reports? That seems rather vague. In fact, his book, Dreams From My Father, confirms that a mysterious "Frank" was a mentor, and that he was a significant influence over Obama after his father had abandoned the family. And this "Frank," as we now know, was Frank Marshall Davis. But the folks at "Fact Check" pretend not to know. Perhaps they didn't take the time to examine the facts. This project includes personnel formerly with CNN, Time magazine, and public broadcasting. But a more serious examination of their backgrounds reveals that some of the staffers have had affiliations with liberal causes, personalities, and candidates such as Common Cause, Bill Moyers, the AFL-CIO, and Democratic presidential candidate Wesley Clark. Is there a left-wing bent here that has tainted their research?
The Post Gets It Wrong
The veteran Washington Post reporter, Howard Kurtz, takes a slightly different tack. He declares that the core message of the Obama 60-second spot "is designed to neutralize perceptions that Sen. Barack Obama is less than patriotic, in the wake of his earlier decision to forgo a flag pin and his wife's comment about not having been really proud of her country before now." Yes, that's part of it.
He adds, "The images of his mother and grandparents with Obama as a child serve a biographical function for viewers who are not that familiar with his life story, while also illustrating the values `accountability and self-reliance' that he wants to make part of his campaign message."
A "biographical function?" Then what about Davis? What about associating with communist terrorists Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn and anti-American preacher Jeremiah Wright? What about a pattern of associations with communists and socialists that runs from Hawaii to Occidental College to Columbia University to Chicago? This is where the ad completely fails to tell the truth.
Going beyond the biographical information, Obama claims legislative accomplishments. "That's why I passed laws moving people from welfare to work, cut taxes for working families and extended health care for wounded troops who'd been neglected," the ad shows Obama saying.
Kurtz counters: "Obama sponsored or co-sponsored but did not `pass' the welfare and tax measures but does not mention that these were in the Illinois legislature in 1997 and 2000. He sponsored congressional measures that helped hospitalized veterans, but in a relatively minor way: extending beyond 90 days the period in which they can receive free meals and free phone calls to family members."
The Annenberg Fact Check project has similar criticisms of Obama's claims about his legislative accomplishments.
The $845 Billion Bill
It's true that Obama has inflated or "polished" his resume. But what about his notorious Global Poverty Act? Why doesn't Obama mention that? And why wasn't this glaring omission mentioned by Kurtz and the Annenberg Fact Check group?
On February 13, Obama issued a press release hailing the passage of this bill by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Since it has already passed the House, it awaits a full Senate vote. So why wouldn't Obama highlight this bill in his patriotic TV ad? The answer lies in the extreme pro-U.N. nature of the bill.
The bill (S. 2433) requires the president to develop a strategy using "international organizations" to implement the Millennium Development Goal of the United Nations to reduce poverty. It still includes an official reference to the "Millennium Development Goals" established by the United Nations Millennium Declaration of the U.N. General Assembly Resolution in 2000.
The bill does not attach a dollar figure and does not need to because that is contained in the 2002 so-called "Monterrey Consensus," which grew out of the 2000 Millennium Declaration. The Millennium Declaration, which was issued in 2000, specifically called for a "Financing for Development" conference, which was held in 2002 in Monterrey, Mexico, and produced the "Monterrey Consensus." The whole purpose of this event was to force countries to spend more money on foreign aid.
The "Monterrey Consensus" document coming out of the conference committed nations to spending 0.7 percent of Gross National Product (GNP) on official development assistance (ODA), otherwise known as foreign aid. It says, specifically, that "We recognize that a substantial increase in ODA and other resources will be required if developing countries are to achieve the internationally agreed development goals and objectives, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration." It then goes on to call for "concrete efforts towards the target of 0.7 percent" of GNP as ODA. It also proposes "innovative sources of finance" to pay for the increased foreign aid. That is a reference to global taxes.
Our estimate, based on information in a column by Jeffrey Sachs of the U.N.'s Millennium Project, is that the cost is $845 billion over 13 years.
"We are short by $65 billion each year, which may seem like a vast sum, but it represents just 0.5% of our GNP," says Sachs. Therefore, over a 13-year period, from 2002, when the U.N.'s Financing for Development conference was held, to the target year of 2015, when the U.S. is expected to meet the Millennium Development Goals, this amounts to $845 billion. Remember: this figure is based on their estimates of what the U.S. owes.
Obama and his media backers have been whining for months that AIM somehow misinterpreted the provisions of his bill. But they have failed to produce a serious rebuttal of the facts we have presented.
Another dishonest TV advertisement
Obama's latest ad repeats an often-stated claim, saying he "worked his way through college and Harvard Law." We know Obama took out loans to get himself through school. But the campaign provided information on just two jobs Obama had in those years, and they were both in the summer.
The ad also says he "passed a law to move people from welfare to work, slashed the rolls by 80 percent." Actually, the Illinois law was a required follow-up to the 1996 federal welfare reform law worked out by President Clinton and the Republican Congress. Welfare rolls did go down by nearly as much as the ad says, but Obama can't claim sole credit.
Obama's new ad, "Dignity," is largely a 30-second version of his last one, "Country I Love." It, too, will be airing in 18 states, according to the presumptive Democratic nominee's campaign. The ad begins with the announcer telling us that Obama "worked his way through college and Harvard Law." Actually, Obama took out loans to get himself through college, as we heard in a 60-second ad his campaign began running last month. We don't know how much assistance his family provided.
But "worked his way" through college and law school? The only back-up the campaign provided for this claim was a quote from Obama's book "Dreams from My Father" having to do with a construction job he had one summer while he was in college, and an article mentioning his job as a summer associate one year at a big Chicago law firm. We asked campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor if Obama held jobs during the school year, or other summer jobs, but he said only, "He had the two jobs I told you about." Unless Obama had a good bit more employment than his spokesman was able to describe for us, it's a real stretch to claim he "worked his way" through school.
As in his last ad, this one touts three bills that Obama "passed," and once again we're not told whether the bills were products of the Illinois Senate or the U.S. Senate. We'll fill you in: In this ad, all three pieces of legislation mentioned were passed in the Illinois Senate.
The first bill that's cited is the 1997 law that created the Temporary Assistance to Needy Families program in Illinois. The ad claims Obama "passed a law to move people from welfare to work, slashed the rolls by 80 percent." That's going too far. First, the law in question wasn't dreamed up out of thin air by its sponsors. It was the follow-up to the welfare reform act, the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Act, that President Clinton signed on Aug. 26, 1996. That law gave states the ability to design their own welfare programs as long as they met certain federal requirements, including limits on how long recipients could get benefits. The bill that Obama cosponsored was Illinois' version.
And far from having "passed" the bill single-handedly, Obama was among five Senate sponsors of the measure, as we said previously. It was passed by both chambers of the Illinois Legislature and signed into law by the governor.
Welfare reform was successful in moving people off public assistance. There was about a 78 percent drop in the number of families receiving public assistance in Illinois between 1998 and 2006. But we don't think Obama alone, or even Obama and the four other sponsors of the Illinois law, can take credit for all of this. It was the federal law, hammered out by Clinton and the Republican Congress, that set the wheels in motion and forced states to act. Nationwide, the number of families on welfare declined quite a bit as well, going from 3,146,870 in '98 to 1,805,900 in '06, a decrease of almost 43 percent.
Also, our friends at PolitiFact talked to an expert who said part of the steep drop in Illinois' numbers was due to other factors, such as a state bureaucracy that took an aggressive approach to ejecting people from the rolls, sometimes erroneously.
Just as in his earlier ad, Obama takes credit for passing "tax cuts for workers." Here, the announcer is talking about the Illinois earned income tax credit, which came into being in 2000. The bill doesn't contain Obama's name as an original sponsor, but according to The Associated Press, he was the linchpin of the effort but let Republicans, who held the Legislature and the governor's mansion, take the lead on it.
The third law Obama claims sole responsibility for is an expansion of Illinois' KidCare program, a low-cost health insurance program aimed at working families making too much to qualify for Medicaid. Obama did in fact sponsor the bill in 2003 that allowed families making up to 200 percent of the poverty level - rather than the previous 185 percent - to participate. When Gov. Rod Blagojevich signed the bill on July 1, 2003, he said it would make 20,000 more children and 65,000 more adults immediately eligible for the program.
Obama got cheap loan to buy Chicago mansion
It was not only his "friends" who benefited
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama received a discounted home loan in 2005, along similar lines to that received by a former adviser to his campaign who was forced to resign after it became public, The Washington Post revealed yesterday. Former Fannie Mae chief executive James Johnson resigned abruptly as head of Senator Obama's vice-presidential search committee last month after The Wall Street Journal reported he had received favourable terms for a jumbo home loan with help from the CEO of Countrywide Financial - a major actor in the sub-prime mortgage mess.
Senator Obama had previously spoken out against Countrywide's role in the sub-prime calamity, in which home loans were extended to borrowers who were unable to meet the interest payments at market rates triggering a worldwide credit crisis. But yesterday, The Washington Post revealed that, shortly after joining the US Senate and while enjoying a surge in income, Senator Obama secured a $1.32 million loan from Northern Trust in Illinois at a discounted rate to buy a restored Georgian mansion in an upscale Chicago neighbourhood.
The Illinois senator reportedly locked in an interest rate of 5.625per cent on the 30-year fixed-rate mortgage, below the average for such loans at the time in Chicago. In the same week, rates on similar loans for which information is available averaged about 6 per cent. The Obama loan was unusually large, known in banker lingo as a "super super jumbo". Compared with the average terms offered at the time in Chicago, Senator Obama's rate could have saved him more than $300 per month, the newspaper said.
Senator Obama's 2005 purchase of the $1.65 million home has already been the subject of controversy over allegations that a land deal was done with friend and fundraiser Antoin "Tony" Rezko, convicted last month of 16 counts in an influence-peddling scheme, to secure a $300,000 discount on the property.
A spokesman for Senator Obama, Ben LaBolt, said the home loan interest rate was adjusted to account for a competing offer from another lender and other factors. "The Obamas have since had as much as $3 million invested through Northern Trust," he said in a statement.
Modest adjustments in mortgage rates are common among financial institutions as they compete for business or develop relationships with wealthy families. But amid a housing crisis, news of discounts offered by Countrywide Financial to two other US senators has resulted in an ethics committee inquiry into whether officials are receiving special treatment from lenders and whether such discounts constitute gifts that are prohibited. Members of Congress are not obliged to disclose debts owed to financial institutions for personal residences, although some senators are now pushing for greater transparency.
The Washington Post cited a statement from the Obama campaign which called the rate "consistent with Northern Trust policies, and it reflected the base rate set for that period discounted to address the competition for the account and other opportunities, such as personal financial services, that the relationship would bring to Northern Trust".
Unlike Countrywide, where leaked emails documented a special discount program for friends of chief executive Angelo Mozilo, Northern Trust says it has no formal program to provide discounts to public officials.
Barack Obama enjoys dressing up like a sheep. It might be innocent enough, but the problem is that he is a wolf. Yesterday, Obama tried again to make inroads with evangelical voters in a speech in Zanesville, Ohio, discussing faith-based initiatives. Christians need to be able to discern the truth about what Obama is saying and what his intentions are. Obama is proficient at hiding many of his intentions and dressing others to appear in line with evangelical beliefs. But truthfully, his worldview is largely inconsistent with that of the bible.
Sen. Barack Obama said Tuesday that if elected president he would expand the delivery of social services through churches and other religious organizations; the announcement was a vow to achieve a goal he said President Bush had fallen short on during his two terms.
But Obama's plan departed from the Bush administration's stance on one fundamental issue: whether religious organizations that get federal funds for social services can take faith into account in their hiring. Bush has said yes. Obama said no.
"If you get a federal grant, you can't use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help, and you can't discriminate against them - or against the people you hire - on the basis of their religion," Obama said. "Federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples and mosques can only be used on secular programs."
Americans United for Destruction of Religion Separation of Church and State's Barry Lynn had mixed emotions about Obama's ideas.
"I am disappointed," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director. "This initiative has been a failure on all counts, and it ought to be shut down, not expanded."
However, Lynn said he was pleased to hear Obama express support for church-state separation and say that he would bar government-funded proselytism and religious discrimination in hiring when tax dollars are involved.
Lynn said he is concerned that the Obama plan apparently would allow direct tax funding of houses of worship to run social service programs. That, said Lynn, raises serious issues of entanglement between religion and government.
If this isn't an example of pandering for votes, nothing else will do. How can you have a faith-based initiative and not encourage faith for the recipients? Otherwise, it would be nothing more than welfare. Faith-based groups are far more efficient at this type of work than the government. They can make the dollars stretch much further, they are more familiar with their community and its needs, they can mobilize more volunteers, and most importantly, their results are superior. Not to mention a cursory reading of speeches and writings by the Founders indicates a clear preference for federal encouragement of the Christian religion while allowing the freedom to worship as one pleases.
Obama made it clear that he wants to elevate his plan to the "moral center" of his administration. So, what does Obama mean by the "moral center?" Since Obama won't tell us the truth on where he stands, we're left to decipher the code. It sounds attractive, on the outside. His latest statements on the California marriage amendment over the weekend reveal a sinister clue. In a letter to a Sunday breakfast of the LGBT Democratic Club in San Francisco, he thumbed his nose at traditional marriage:
"I oppose the divisive and discriminatory efforts to amend the California Constitution [to protect marriage], and similar efforts to amend the U.S. Constitution or those of any other states."
Following Obama's logic, which he obviously has not done himself, faith-based organizations that support traditional marriage will be disqualified from federal funding under an Obama presidency. Obama may speak "religion-ese" but his rhetoric speaks much louder than his words, if you can tune your biblical ear to understand.
Why do many affluent people support Obama
They can afford to and it's a cheap "mea culpa" for their affluence
By Victor Davis Hanson
It is not hard to see why and how the middle classes, the poor, and the union members would like to see larger government programs and greater taxes on the wealthy, but why are so many in the upper-upper middle classes so vehemently pro-Obama? Are they that confident in the public schools, teachers' unions, swearing off their archaic gasoline engines, wanting restrictions on free trade and globalization, and living in mixed, integrated working-class neighborhoods?
One paradox about the Obama campaign is that in terms of aggregate cash, most of his total donations are of the larger sort, and they tend to come from the informational, investment, and financial class that has done so well by globalization.
Which raises the question, since so many financial supporters are above the $100,000 income bracket and perhaps in terms of joint income, above the benchmark $250,000 level at which Obamonics begins to really hurt, why such lop-sided support from these elites?
One would think that this class especially, in terms other than self-interest, would realize that tax-cuts the last few years that resulted in an approximate 50 percent overall federal and state rate on the wealthy brought in more total federal revenue. Are they simply more public-minded than the hardware store owner or builder contractor who are more likely to vote McCain and who worry about the effect of a veritable 62-5 percent federal/state/local income tax bite on their livelihoods?
After talking to and observing lots of Bay Area affluent and staunch Obama supporters, I think the key to reconciling the apparent paradoxes is done in the following ways.
Many enjoying the good life worry that their own privilege in some sort of way comes at the expense of someone else, or they fret that their present lifestyle in ecological terms is hardly sustainable. That concern does not translate into much concrete action. SUVs (Mercedes rather than Yukons) are no rarer in Palo Alto than in Fresno, while such progressives are just as likely, or more so, to abandon the public schools, to keep their children out of East Palo Alto or away from the Redwood City ho polloi, and sent off to and on their way at elite prep and public schools. To sum up, Obama offers a reassuring sense of self-image: one can still maintain all the current mechanisms one is accustomed to in ensuring privilege, but visible support for Obama offers a sense of atonement and alleviation of guilt at rather modest cost. (We shall see whether a President Obama really ups the top rates, takes off FICA caps, raises capital gains, and so in fact takes a $50-70,000 greater annual cut from top yuppie joint incomes.)
Somehow an Obama sticker, sign on the lawn, or a lapel button has become the equivalent of a crucifix around the neck of a prosperous 16th-century burgher: easy fides of inner good and a valuable totem in reconciling the apparent irreconcilable.
"Fast Eddie" Obama Flips Again On Free Trade
Despite his "overheated and amplified" rhetoric during the Democratic primary, Barack Obama suddenly changed his mind and supported free trade two weeks ago.
But, of course, his previous flyers he sent out in Ohio didn't say that. Here is a anti-NAFTA flyer sent out by the Obama Campaign to Ohio voters in February saying: "Only Barack Obama Consistently Opposed NAFTA."
He was against free trade, then two weeks ago Obama was for free trade again. Now it looks like he's back to being against free trade. From the Road reported:
In an email to reporters, spokesman Tommy Vietor wrote, "Senator McCain's trip to Mexico and Colombia just underscores his insistence on continuing George Bush's failed economic policies that have left nearly 2.5 million more workers unemployed-including unfair trade deals that have been written by lobbyists."
The unfair trade deals he is talking about are those free trade deals that have helped the American economy significantly. It looks like this week Barack Obama is against free trade again.
(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.)