NOTE: This goes back to June 2010, a time leading up to the last off-year election. Presently (7/2014) I am getting a huge flood of hits on it -- it's probably being circulated again with all new dates to make it seem current.
Dear Mom, (this is a followup to:
To My Not Really Right Wing Mom in response to the Forwarded Email "Wall Street Journal Sizes Up Obama - WOW)
Here are my long overdue comments on the fake "Wall Street Journal" article. As I showed in the previous email(post), the perpetrator deliberately lies in order to assume the authority of the WSJ. You might think it's an honest mistake, but when you've closely examined enough of these things, you can see they are not just thrown together by some concerned citizen agitated by something he/she saw on the web or elsewhere.
You (or someone else reading this) may wonder why take so much trouble. I've suggested to a fellow blogger to raise the level of dialogue, "Don't go looking for idiots to argue with". This writer though, isn't an idiot, but quite an effective propagandist, and taken paragraph by paragraph, this "email forward" is made up of claims that can be found echoing all over the world of anti-Obama blogging and radio commentary.
Lest you think I'm picking out the weakest arguments to respond to, I'm replying to every single word, and there is at most one halfway legitimate point in the whole thing
. Since so many of the claims are slippery, it takes some work to definitively nail them down. That makes this a very long posting.
"Article from the Wall Street Journal - by Eddie Sessions:" There is, apparently, no such person, and no such article ever appeared in the WSJ.
"I have this theory about Barack Obama. I think he's led a kind of make-believe life in which money was provided and doors were opened because at some point early on somebody or some group took a look at this tall, good looking, half-white, half-black, young man with an exotic African/Muslim name and concluded he could be guided toward a life in politics where his facile speaking skills could even put him in the White House."
This is a typical paranoid fantasy - the idea that some shadowy figure picks out a nobody and invisibly guides them all the way to the white house.
Unfortunately it is too vague for counter-arguments.
In a very real way, he has been a young man in a very big hurry. Who else do you know has written two memoirs before the age of 45? "Dreams of My Father" was published in 1995 when he was only 34 years old. The "Audacity of Hope" followed in 2006. If, indeed, he did write them himself. There are some who think that his mentor and friend, Bill Ayers, a man who calls himself a "communist with a small 'c'" was the real author.
No merit has been found in the claim that Obama did not write "Dreams from
(not 'of') my Father. I read the article making this claim. The writer seems, to have submitted no more than two sentences from each book (Obama's and Ayers') to a computer program used for authorship analysis (but not intended to be used on only 2 sentences) I can say for certain that no experts in such matters confirmed the claim, although a couple of such experts were asked but told the amateur text analyst he had no case whatsoever.
W.r.t. the outrageousness of the very fact of his writing a memoir:
I get the impression that maybe 20% or more of memoirs are written by people 30-something or younger.
* The Glass Castle, by Jeanette Walls
* Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
* Nomad: From Islam to America: A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (oh yeah, that's 2 for her)
* Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi
* Left to Tell: Discovering God Amidst the Rwandan Holocaust by Immaculee Ilibagiza
* Two Years Before the Mast by Richard Dana
* Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
* Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave Written By Himself
* It's Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life by Lance Armstrong
As to why Obama wrote his memoir, as I understand it, "In 1990, Barack Obama was elected Harvard Law Review president over 18 others", and when he graduated, some people thought he had an interesting story, and ability to express himself, and encouraged him to write a memoir.
His political skills consisted of rarely voting on anything that might be deemed controversial..
DOUBTFUL (examples taken from Wikipedia):
In the Illinois Senate, Obama supported Republican Governor Ryan's payday loan regulations and predatory mortgage lending regulations aimed at averting home foreclosures.
He sponsored and led unanimous, bipartisan passage of legislation to monitor racial profiling by requiring police to record the race of drivers they detained, and legislation making Illinois the first state to mandate
videotaping of homicide interrogations.
Moreover he was one of very few Democratic presidential candidates who took a stand against the invasion of Iraq. He didn't have national office at the time, but does this sound like someone who always ducks controversy? What if, as many of us hoped, it had succeeded, with minimal American losses, in planting a vibrant democracy in the middle of the Middle East? If he was thinking of the presidency, that might well have spiked his chances. But he judged correctly that it was a bad idea, unlike most Democrats in Congress.
He was in the U.S. Senate so briefly that his bid for the presidency was either an act of astonishing self-confidence or part of some greater game plan that had been determined before he first stepped foot in the Capital. How, many must wonder, was he selected to be a 2004 keynote speaker at the Democrat convention that nominated John Kerry when virtually no one had ever even heard of him before?
In 2004 when selected to give the democratic convention speech, he was a young black man with a Harvard Law degree about to be elected U.S. senator - something Democrats might well look on as a good omen in a very difficult year. Moreover, someone must have noticed he was a very good speaker. At any rate, the speech made him well known instantly.
Parlaying 4 years in the senate to the presidency is certainly unusual, though not as unusual as the path of another Illinois State Senator named Abraham Lincoln who served in the House of Representatives only 2 years from 1848-1850, and went back to private law practice for the 10 years just before he ran for president.
I also don't see how George W. Bush's resume was any more impressive when he was elected president, being a governor for a few years of a state which gives the governor relatively weak authority.
On the other hand, 8 years in the Illinois Senate doesn't sound that much like an egomaniacal "man in a hurry" being propelled by mysterious and powerful forces. To me it sounds more like someone without excessive aspirations who wants to make a difference. Though clearly at some point, he came to believe he was capable of more.
I think a good source for understanding why Obama surprised himself and everyone else by gaining the presidency in 2008 is the book The Audacity to Win: The Inside Story and Lessons of Barack Obama's Historic Victory (Hardcover)
by David Plouffe. He had achieved some fame by being perhaps the brightest spot for the Democrats in the 2004 presidential campaign with his convention speech. In 2006 he was doing book tours for his 2nd book, "The Audacity of Hope" - a bestseller and a very complete presentation of his views (useful for those who've been told he's a Marxist). On the book tour he was being told by many people he should run for president. He was the kind of person who, hard as it is for anti-Obamaists to imagine, struck many as the smartest person they ever met. I think the book The Audacity to Win
gives a lot of insight into WHY many people saw Obama as extraordinarily gifted, in a way that any book written by Obama himself could never convey.
He outmaneuvered Hillary Clinton in primaries. He took Iowa by storm. A charming young man, an anomaly in the state with a very small black population, he oozed "cool" in a place where agriculture was the antithesis of cool.
"Oozed"? "Agriculture is the antithesis of cool?" What does any of this mean -- this sounds like someone in the middle of an argument coming up with phrases off the top of his head.
He dazzled the locals. And he had an army of volunteers drawn to a charisma that hid any real substance.
Substantially, there is nothing bad about this, except that "dazzled" tends to insinuate a sort of cheap appeal, and the unsupported phrase "charisma that hid any real substance".
And then he had the great good fortune of having the Republicans select one of the most inept candidates for the presidency since Bob Dole. And then John McCain did something crazy. He picked Sarah Palin, an unknown female governor from the very distant state of Alaska. It was a ticket that was reminiscent of 1984's Walter Mondale and Geraldine Ferraro and they went down to defeat.
I agree Palin was a crazy choice which helped bring a number of strong Republicans around to supporting Obama, but she did electrify a lot of people and indeed woke up a tired campaign, and for a couple of years had one of the best "after" careers of any defeated vice presidential candidate, who are typically never heard of again. It is also not clear to me who would have done better against Obama -- someone LESS easy to associate with Bush?
The mainstream political media fell in love with him. It was a schoolgirl crush with febrile commentators like Chris Mathews swooning then and now over the man.
TRANSLATION: A whole lot of people were more impressed with Obama than with any recent democratic candidate for the president. You can use words like "swoon" and "schoolgirl crush", but that is pure spin.
The venom directed against McCain and, in particular, Palin, was extraordinary.
I just don't get this. Palin was treated harshly because she simply appalled so many people, including many shocked Conservatives. It was pretty spontaneous -- Obama didn't control Christopher Buckley or Colin Powell -- and didn't the writer just say Palin was a crazy choice? I was also turned off by Palin's own venom starting with her acceptance speech.
Now, nearly a full year into his first term, all of those gilded years leading up to the White House have left him unprepared to be President.
I see very little justification for "gilded years". He started out at a so-so college, worked hard enough to get to Columbia, and with more hard work was able to get into Harvard Law school where he graduated with distinction. Back in Chicago, he also taught at the University of Chicago, not the purist of liberal bastions, since it is most famous for the "Chicago School of Economics" of Milton Friedman.
Left to his own instincts, he has a talent for saying the wrong thing at the wrong time.
I can't think of much evidence of this, and think it is being claimed just to support the next statement:
It swiftly became a joke that he could not deliver even the briefest of statements without the ever-present Tele-Prompters.
Yes, it became a joke. Obama seems to be an odd mix of super caution and audacity and his heavy reliance on teleprompters reflects, I think, his cautious side.
But if you don't believe Obama CAN speak without a prompter, watch his
discussion / debate with the whole Republican caucus on their own ground
(or see transcript if you'd rather read
Far worse, however, is his capacity to want to "wish away" some terrible realities, not the least of which is the Islamist intention to destroy America and enslave the West. Any student of history knows how swiftly Islam initially spread. It knocked on the doors of Europe, having gained a foothold in Spain.
"Islamist intention to destroy America and enslave the West" seems pretty hysterical and not within the realm of possibility -- and if it could conceivably grow into a possibility in a few decades, I think Obama's approach has a better chance of heading that off than Bush's.
The next sentence ("Any student of history knows ...") seems like another "off the top of his head" bit. Yes, Islam spread incredibly quickly for a couple of centuries but it didn't continue that rate of expansion and was largely stagnant or declining in the 19th and 20th centuries.
Besides which, Obama has been in my opinion doing an extremely capable job
of moving two wars towards completion, NOT wishing them away.
The great crowds that greeted him at home or on his campaign "world tour" were no substitute for having even the slightest grasp of history and the reality of a world filled with really bad people with really bad intentions.
This seems like just a very spurious and arbitrary way of making Obama's appeal to the rest of the world seem like a bad thing. The elimination of massive terrorism and the facing down of Iran and North Korea won't be accomplished without very tight discipline and cooperation among the world's more or less sane nations. Our adventure in Iraq did nothing but embolden these other two members of the "Axis of Evil" AND esp. w.r.t. Iran, cut off at the knees anyone NOT in favor of Islamic fanaticism and a strenuous military posture.
Meanwhile, North Korea under Bush, cut the seals on their nuclear works, sent the inspectors packing, and went full speed ahead with its nuclear program, AND built a clone of their own nuclear facilities in Syria while America hardly seemed to notice
Teddy Roosevelt said "Speak softly and carry a big stick". The Bush policy was to yell and bellow and if you have a big stick, beat it to splinters against a convenient boulder because that will show people how serious you are. Sorry, but that's truly how it seems to me.
Take Iran and North Korea, two nations with more than a streak of self-image as heroic martyr nations -- declare these 2 nations part of an "Axis of Evil" -- along with a 3rd, weaker nation that you attack and destroy while basically leaving Iran and N.Korea alone, and what can you expect to get? A mess that will take a very long time to sort out is what I would expect. And maybe the conclusion that a nuclear program, as costly as it might be, is the best way to avoid being crushed.
Getting back to the "problem" of those cheering crowds around the world: Yes, Obama may be getting some traction with the international community, getting Russia and China to come on board the effort to isolate Iran.
The approach of leading and coordinating more and more international pressure is ridiculed by the anti-Obamists, but what's the alternative?
Our track record in Iraq makes the idea of invading Iran, maybe 3 times as strong as an Iraq beaten down by the loss of one war and 10 years of sanctions -- makes such an invasion seem ludicrous - indeed we would have commanded much more fear and respect in the world if we'd stopped with Afghanistan, and then really, permanently transformed that nation.
Right after the invasion of Afghanistan, especially if we hadn't told most of the world "we don't want you as allies", the U.S. could have gotten more response out of Iran by raising an eyebrow than we can now.
And my impression is that experts on Iran are very doubtful of our ability to surgically take out all nuclear facilities should Iran build them. Also a strong attack on Iran of any sort might just make double or quadruple the appeal and size of Al Qaeda type groups, which with determined collaboration from an Iran with nothing left to lose, might just pull off the very sorts of WMD based terror attacks we've been dreading.
You can attack a nation, and even destroy most of its infrastructure, but unless you can occupy and control them, they may fight you with increasing effectiveness for years if not decades to come. The trouble with WMD terrorism is if there is one rogue nation or failed state or country like Afghanistan or one country like Pakistan with ungovernable provinces left -- and we've done nothing effective to prevent that -- that is all it might take for assembling a "dirty bomb" based on an AWOL Russian missile warhead.
Oddly and perhaps even inevitably, his political experience, a cakewalk, has positioned him to destroy the Democrat Party's hold on power in Congress because in the end it was never about the Party.
More free association it seems to me. Cakewalk? Maybe read "The Audacity to Win
" to see what a cakewalk the run for president was. And was being trounced in his first run for national office (The House of Representatives) a cakewalk?
And what is this phrase "Oddly and perhaps even inevitably"? The strange juxtaposition of "oddly" and "inevitably" might make it seem like deep analysis but I can see no justification for it -- just a sort of oracularly paradoxical tone.
It was always about his communist ideology, learned at an early age from family, mentors, college professors, and extreme leftist friends and colleagues.
This is just nonsense. If you really want to get Obama's ideology, pick up "The Audacity of Hope
". If that book lies about his true sentiments then what has he done or said to get a crucial mass of "extreme leftists" behind him. By keeping on the previous secretary of defense and top general and continuing in a workmanlike way to wind up some very unsuccessful and damaging business that politically
he would have done well to disown and label the failure of the Bush presidency -- is that his way of courting "extreme leftists"?
And if he doesn't have that kind of extremist popular mass behind him, who is going to put him in the dictator's seat? The Army?
Obama is a man who could deliver a snap judgment about a Boston police officer who arrested an "obstreperous" Harvard professor-friend,
Obama for once said what came to mind spontaneously when he heard about a famous black historian being arrested, handcuffed, and "taken in" because he lost his key and was trying to break into his own house. The professor was
60-70 years old, possibly older, and required a cane to get around. Ones impulse would be to think "surely the police could have confirmed his identity and that he lived in that house. Would they have been afraid to enter his house to see the pictures of him on the mantle? Would the same have happened with an elderly white gentleman? OK, on the other hand, Prof. Gates reacted to the situation, or did he react to some rudeness on the part of the policeman? He became "obstreperous". On the other hand, he had just completed a very long flight, as I understand, and probably an hour or two between what you have to do in the airport, and probably a taxi drive (I'm assuming he didn't have to fetch his own car from long term parking and drive through the heavy Boston traffic himself). He was exhausted and dying to get into his house and flop on the bed, I suspect, and may have not had the most thoughtful perspective on the situation.
When Obama grasped the complexity of the situation he made a sort of public apology and invited the two participants in the drama to meet and talk "over a beer". It wasn't staged well, and may not have lead to much improved understanding between the policeman and the professor, but I can understand the impulse, and it is consistent with his (in my opinion very important) "race speech" given at the height of the Jeremiah Wright "God damn America"
business. He said there, and in other places, that many blacks need to get over a lot of automatic resentment of authorities, and do the best they can in their current situation whatever it may be
. It was a remarkable thing for a black political leader to have said.
... but would warn Americans against "jumping to conclusions" about a mass murderer at Fort Hood who shouted "Allahu Akbar." The absurdity of that was lost on no one.
How is not jumping to conclusions absurd? He was speaking at a time when he'd probably just been given a 5 minute briefing -- it was the very first announcement most people heard of the thing. Well, if you make up ridiculous versions of what sort of conclusions he meant, like another commentator: "Could we say that some Muslims are willing to kill and maim just about anyone that isn't Muslim in the name of God? Is that too harsh for anyone? Insulting, insensitive perhaps? What are we risking here, political correctness, someones feelings". But there were other conclusions that some people did jump to, like that there was more than one gunman, or there was an Islamic terror cell at Fort Hood. At worst, "don't jump to conclusions" is a cliche -- words many a District Attorney on a TV cop show has mouthed. And have we never jumped to conclusions? E.g. when a handful of anthrax infected letters got shipped -- that had to be part of the Al Qaeda plot against America. Or when another crazy Muslim man and his young accomplice went around shooting people at random in the Washington area -- that must have been part of the great coordinated conspiracy whereas it was in fact one sick Muslim man who maybe took 9/11 as some kind of signal that the apocalyptic showdown between Allah and the Infidel world had come to America.
He has since compounded this by calling the Christmas bomber "an isolated extremist" only to have to admit a day or two later that he was part of an al Qaeda plot.
So I went to the speech in which he said the phrase "isolated extremist" conveniently given at conservative news site: http://www.cnsnews.com/news/article/59115
with the headline "Obama Describes Nigerian As 'Isolated Extremist' Despite Ties to Yemen". Yet Obama also said in that speech: "we will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable
". This clearly contradicts the idea that Obama had jumped to the wild conclusion that the man was an "isolated extremist". But he did use that phrase, didn't he?
Finally, look at the full sentence containing the offending phrase. Congratulating the passengers on the plane who physically prevented an explosion, he said it "demonstrates that an alert and courageous citizenry are far more resilient than an isolated extremist
". It is not a statement of policy that the man was not part of any plot -- but just that a single terrorist. certainly isolated for the moment, on a plane can be vulnerable to several Americans who rise to the occasion.
He is a man who could strive to close down our detention facility at Guantanamo even though those released were known to have returned to the battlefield against America.
Guantanamo has for years been a potent symbol of the U.S. finding a legal no-man's land in which to ignore both U.S. law and international agreements, and it has been shown that a large percentage of the prisoners were random individuals grabbed and turned in for the princely (for most Afghans) rewards being offered. A couple of Guantanamo inmates were turned in by stooges of a Mullah whom they had ridiculed.
He could even instruct his Attorney General to afford the perpetrator of 9/11 a civil trial when no one else would ever even consider such an obscenity.
The attempt to try KSM in New York was, I think a mistake but that doesn't change the fact that 95% of the criticisms in the article have no merit at all. I also think it was a mistake to simply hold him several years without any sort of legal closure until people no longer remember when he was captured.
And he is a man who could wait three days before having anything to say about the perpetrator of yet another terrorist attack on Americans and then have to elaborate on his remarks the following day because his first statement was so lame.
Sorry, but does anyone know what this refers to?
The pattern repeats itself. He either blames any problem on the Bush administration or he naively seeks to wish away the truth.
Knock, knock. Anyone home? Anyone there? Barack Obama exists only as the sock puppet of his handlers, of the people who have maneuvered and manufactured this pathetic individual's life.
Mostly no substance, so no comment, except I think he has been sparing in putting responsibility for current problems on the Bush Administration and has vigorously worked to deal with them in the present, and it is my opinion that Obama did in fact inherit the biggest mess of the kind since Buchanan handed over the presidency to Lincoln
When anyone else would quickly and easily produce a birth certificate, this man has spent over a million dollars to deny access to his. Most other documents, the paper trail we all leave in our wake, have been sequestered from review. He has lived a make-believe life whose true facts remain hidden.
A birth certificate has been produced and posted to the internet. Moreover, his birth was announced in two Hawaiian newspapers at the time he was being born, and these announcements are available on microfilm. If they are forged, that should be easily provable, and unless you think the conspiracy behind his presidency goes back to before he was born, that really should stop the argument.
RE THE NEWSPAPER ANNOUNCEMENTS OF OBAMA'S BIRTH MADE AT THE TIME OF HIS BIRTH:
"A birth notice for Barack Obama was published in both the Honolulu Advertiser
and the Honolulu Star-Bulletin
on August 13 and August 14, 1961, respectively, listing the home address of Obama's parents as 6085 Kalanianaole Highway in Honolulu. On August 3, 2009, in response to the growing controversy, the Advertiser posted on its Web site a screenshot of the announcement taken from its microfilmed archives. Such notices were sent to newspapers routinely by the Hawaii Department of Health.
In an editorial published on July 29, 2009, the Star-Bulletin pointed out that both newspapers' vital-statistics columns are available on microfilm in the main state library. "Were the Hawaiian Department of Health and Obama's parents really in cahoots to give false information to the newspapers, perhaps intending to clear the way for the baby to someday be elected president of the United States?" the newspaper asked sarcastically."
Has Obama really "spent over a million dollars to deny access" to more conclusive document than the one is out there for the world to see? I see several references to claims like this on the Internet, but on the anti-Obama blogs, once something has been said, it will be quoted forever without any sort of citation, so I'm highly skeptical.
We laugh at the ventriloquist's dummy, but what do you do when the dummy is President of the United States of America ?"
No substance, so I have no comment.
A year ago I started getting emails my parents' friends had forwarded to them. There would be lists showing who had previously forwarded the item to the friend, and so on, but it was never clear who put it together.
My parents have always been pretty mainstream Republicans. My Mom still has some admiration for FDR and Truman, and feels Nixon got what he deserved, and they are far from ready for the revisionism that says we were "stabbed in the back" by liberals over Vietnam. She has just gotten through reading 3 Cups of Tea and loved it.
They live in a wealthy retirement community with mostly college educated people (ages generally 60-80 and up) who've run small to middle sized businesses and the like.
And they and their friends were getting, and believing in the emails with the links to YouTube videos proving Obama deliberately failed to salute the flag when generals and cabinet members around him were saluting. My mother is distressed and saying "What can you say to defend a man like that?" Actually they were saluting the president while "Hail to the Chief" was played. The email was called "The Crotch Salute" because of the awkward position of Obama's hands. Googling "crotch salute" I get 11,400 hits so it has gotten around and precious few of the hits have anyone debunking it.
They get "parables" in which Obama is portrayed as a smooth Marxist/Mafia thug. And other parables with simplistic economic implications.
They contain bits like "what if I were to tell you that Obama wants to dismantle conservative talk radio through the imposition of a new "Fairness Doctrine. that he wants to curtail the First Amendment rights of those who may disagree with his policies via internet blogs..."
Would you say, "C'mon, that will never happen in America ." (this one is a sort of 12 part call-and response thing).
They received a tirade against Obama by Gene Iacocca which was really a 3 year old anti-Bush screed with selective omissions and just one addition.
Some of them have gotten clever enough to say "Approved by Snopes" when in fact Snopes called them a fraud.
They take an essay from a right wing crazy site and call it an "article" (they never distinguish between "article" and op-ed) from the prestigious WSJ.
It seems the right wing propaganda apparat has 3 parts: (1) The Emails where everything EVERYTHING I've seen has been full of blatant lies. (2) wild bloggers who deal in stuff that has a shred of something to back it up (they can't help it if some pure and simple lies get into their comments section (http://eisenhowersocialist.blogspot.com/2010/05/climate-change-and-energy-policy.html)
(3) Finally the stars, who avoid sue-able libel, and deal in interpretations rooted in millions of under the radar words that THEY don't have to risk saying.
I think first of all, people are vastly underestimating the impact. I'd propose ongoing polling. Watch them as they emerge and circulate. http://myrightwingdad.blogspot.com/ can help with that, and just poll 1000 (maybe less would do) people soon after something emerges to ask whether they believe whatever is being stated. No need, I think, to say anything about where they would have gotten the idea.
Another course of action without the big cost of polling is, don't let Rush and Glenn off the hook. Call and ask "What do you think of Obama's refusal to salute the flag". (http://therealtruthproject.blogspot.com/2010/07/get-email-with-extreme-anti-obama.html) I believe their hope, and certainly what serves them best, is for these things to remain invisible to all but their partisans, and certainly not make publicity for them to get publically debunked.
If 10% of people are believing a ludicrous lie that is important news. If one can find out where the lies are coming from (there is too much similarity in style for me to believe they come from random "concerned citizens"), that is even more important news.
As for the "anything goes" blogs, I think they need to be taken seriously too. Here, unlike with the right wing emails, there is nothing secret to unmask. One way to take them seriously is to try to determine the size of their readership - some of them no doubt advertize their 'hit rates'. Also, the idea of polling applies equally well to them. And likewise putting more visible right wing (which I say because "Radical Conservative" is an oxymoron) commentators on the spot.
For an example of Rush&co studiously ignoring the "Final nail in the coffin of the global warming hoax", see http://eisenhowersocialist.blogspot.com/2010/05/climate-change-and-energy-policy.html