Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
by Kevin Holtsberry
Another day, another lie...
Obama started the distortion last night:
Just one last point I want to make, since Senator McCain talked about providing a $5,000 health credit. Now, what he doesn't tell you is that he intends to, for the first time in history, tax health benefits.
True? Nope. Washington Post pulls out the Four Pinochios:
John McCain wants to drastically overhaul the health insurance system in order to encourage Americans to go out and buy their own health care plans rather than relying on employer-based plans. To achieve this, he plans to tax employer-provided health benefits and provide a $2,500 tax credit ($5,000 for families) toward the cost of health insurance.
By most independent calculations, the McCain plan will leave most taxpayers better off in strictly financial terms, at least until 2013. After 2013, the benefits will begin to diminish. By 2018, taxpayers in the top quintile will be slightly worse off, but middle-income taxpayers will either break even or be slightly ahead. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, the McCain proposals will result in a net benefit of $1,241 to the average tax payer in 2009, $895 in 2013, and $386 in 2018.
"It is not fair to pull out just one part of the McCain proposal," said Eric Toder, a TPC analyst. "It is a package. They are giving back more than they are taking away."
At what point does Obama and Biden get called on the fact that every day on the trail seems to bring a new lie or deceptive claim. At what point do Biden's gaffes stop being a joke and start being a vulnerability?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
By Uppity Woman
Author: Uppity Woman
No kidding folks. This is happening right here in what is left of Democracy in America. It seems that Barack I Love FISA Obama is practicing for his Planned borderline Communist government in Missouri–or so he thinks.
I was nearly speechless when I saw the video below. What a freaking thug Barack Obama truly is. We are worried about his Marxist Socialist pals? This is down righta Communist behavior! No wonder Putin and N. Korea’s “Dear Leader” think he’s swell. No wonder every whackjob failed fringe anti-democracy, anti-capitalism party from the 60s loves him.
The threat?: If somebody in Missouri does an Ad that Barack Obama deems “A Lie,” then the sheriff and the State Prosecutor are coming for you. And as we all know, when it comes to Barack Obama, EVERYTHING ANYBODY says is “A Lie,” even if it’s true.
See the Video first and let your jaw drop. Then see Governor Blunt’s horrified and disgusted press release.
This is happening right here in the United States of America, compliments of Obama and his goon squad. Be afraid. Be very afraid.
THE TRUTH SQUAD COMETH FOR YOU!
Simply. Amazing. Isn’t it? Well the Governor of Missouri thought so too. He issued this totally pissed-off press release, exposing Barack Obama and his sycophants for the childish, malicious Neo Liberal Radical Communist thugs they are.
This is one brutal press release for one brutal, deserving Chicago-Thug candidate. Bravo, Governor Blunt. You just said what we all think:
Gov. Blunt Statement on Obama Campaign’s Abusive Use of Missouri Law Enforcement
JEFFERSON CITY - Gov. Matt Blunt today issued the following statement on news reports that have exposed plans by U.S. Senator Barack Obama to use Missouri law enforcement to threaten and intimidate his critics.
“St. Louis County Circuit Attorney Bob McCulloch, St. Louis City Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce, Jefferson County Sheriff Glenn Boyer, and Obama and the leader of his Missouri campaign Senator Claire McCaskill have attached the stench of police state tactics to the Obama-Biden campaign.
“What Senator Obama and his helpers are doing is scandalous beyond words, the party that claims to be the party of Thomas Jefferson is abusing the justice system and offices of public trust to silence political criticism with threats of prosecution and criminal punishment.
“This abuse of the law for intimidation insults the most sacred principles and ideals of Jefferson. I can think of nothing more offensive to Jefferson’s thinking than using the power of the state to deprive Americans of their civil rights. The only conceivable purpose of Messrs. McCulloch, Obama and the others is to frighten people away from expressing themselves, to chill free and open debate, to suppress support and donations to conservative organizations targeted by this anti-civil rights, to strangle criticism of Mr. Obama, to suppress ads about his support of higher taxes, and to choke out criticism on television, radio, the Internet, blogs, e-mail and daily conversation about the election.
“Barack Obama needs to grow up. Leftist blogs and others in the press constantly say false things about me and my family. Usually, we ignore false and scurrilous accusations because the purveyors have no credibility. When necessary, we refute them. Enlisting Missouri law enforcement to intimidate people and kill free debate is reminiscent of the Sedition Acts - not a free society.”
I’m telling you folks. Take Heed. Barack Obama has VERY little interest in Democracy. If he is pulling this kind of thing now, imagine a Presidency under this gangster.
By Ed Morrissey (http://hotair.com/archives/2008/09/26/the-democratic-acorn-bailout/)
House Republicans refused to support the Henry Paulson/Chris Dodd compromise bailout plan yesterday afternoon, even after the New York Times reported that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson got down on one knee to beg Nancy Pelosi to compromise. One of the sticking points, as Senator Lindsey Graham explained later, wasn't a lack of begging but a poison pill that would push 20% of all profits from the bailout into the Housing Trust Fund — a boondoggle that Democrats in Congress has used to fund political-action groups like ACORN and the National Council of La Raza:
In the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to "blow it up" by withdrawing her party's support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.
"I didn't know you were Catholic," Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson's kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: "It's not me blowing this up, it's the Republicans."
Mr. Paulson sighed. "I know. I know."
Graham told Greta van Susteren that Democrats had their own priorities, and it wasn't bailing out the financial sector:
And this deal that's on the table now is not a very good deal. Twenty percent of the money that should go to retire debt that will be created to solve this problem winds up in a housing organization called ACORN that is an absolute ill-run enterprise, and I can't believe we would take money away from debt retirement to put it in a housing program that doesn't work.
Here's the relevant part of the Dodd proposal:
TRANSFER OF A PERCENTAGE OF PROFITS.
- DEPOSITS.Not less than 20 percent of any profit realized on the sale of each troubled asset purchased under this Act shall be deposited as provided in paragraph (2).
- USE OF DEPOSITS.Of the amount referred to in paragraph (1)
- 65 percent shall be deposited into the Housing Trust Fund established under section 1338 of the Federal Housing Enterprises Regulatory Reform Act of 1992 (12 U.S.C. 4568); and
- 35 percent shall be deposited into the Capital Magnet Fund established under section 1339 of that Act (12 U.S.C. 4569).
- 65 percent shall be deposited into the Housing Trust Fund established under section 1338 of the Federal Housing Enterprises Regulatory Reform Act of 1992 (12 U.S.C. 4568); and
REMAINDER DEPOSITED IN THE TREASURY.All amounts remaining after payments under paragraph (1) shall be paid into the General Fund of the Treasury for reduction of the public debt.
Profits? We'll be lucky not to take a bath on the purchase of these toxic assets. If we get 70 cents on the dollar, that would be a success.
That being said, this section proves that the Democrats in Congress have learned nothing from this financial collapse. They still want to game the market to pick winners and losers by funding programs for unqualified and marginally-qualified borrowers to buy houses they may not be able to afford — and that's the innocent explanation for this clause.
The real purpose of section D is to send more funds to La Raza and ACORN through housing welfare, via the slush fund of the HTF. They want to float their political efforts on behalf of Democrats with public money, which was always the purpose behind the HTF. They did the same thing in April in the first bailout bill, setting aside $100 million in "counseling" that went in large part to ACORN and La Raza, and at least in the former case, providing taxpayer funding for a group facing criminal charges in more than a dozen states for fraud.
It's bad enough that taxpayers have to pay the price for Congress' decade-long distortions of the lending and investment markets. If we realize a profit from the bailout, that money should go to pay down the debt or get returned to taxpayers as dividends from their investment — not to organizations committing voter fraud, and not to restarting the entire cycle of government meddling in lending markets. I'd support a rational bailout package, but anything that funds the HTF needs to get stopped.
Update: Here's the video with Graham:
Update II: The Wall Street Journal reported on the HTF/ACORN/Democratic connections in July:
The housing bill signed Wednesday by President George W. Bush will provide a stream of billions of dollars for distressed homeowners and communities and the nonprofit groups that serve them.
One of the biggest likely beneficiaries, despite Republican objections: Acorn, a housing advocacy group that also helps lead ambitious voter-registration efforts benefiting Democrats. …
Partly because of the role of Acorn and other housing advocacy groups, the White House and its allies in Congress resisted Democrats' plans to include money for a new affordable-housing trust fund and $4 billion in grants to restore housing in devastated neighborhoods. In the end, the money stayed in the bill; the White House saw little choice.
What most riles Republicans about the bill is the symbiotic relationship between the Democratic Party and the housing advocacy groups, of which Acorn is among the biggest. Groups such as the National Council of La Raza and the National Urban League also lobby to secure government-funded services for their members and seek to move them to the voting booth. Acorn has been singled out for criticism because of its reach, its endorsements of Democrats, and past flaws in its bookkeeping and voter-registration efforts that its detractors in Congress have seized upon.
Once again, the Democrats want to set up a self-funding mechanism, this time by exploiting a severe financial crisis. Despicable.
and Obama says: I...uh...uh... I have a bracelet too... except he has to read the name on it to remember the soldier's mother's name who gave it to him. What a farce... what disrespect. He should send it back to her because he clearly doesn't respect the significance of the the gift.
Friday, September 26, 2008
NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg recalls his reaction when Congress first voted for the economic stimulus package.
Bloomberg considered the foolish plan to be like "buying an alcoholic a drink."
Bloomberg discussed his long term job infrastructure plan with Governors Edward Rendell and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
By Larry Johnsonclose
Name: Larry Johnson
As noted in previous posts I am in Europe finishing up work on a project related to national security. This gives me a great perch to observe the wave of financial news bearing down on the United States with the markets closing in Asia and the markets in Europe just getting started. So I am watching CNBC's Europe version and there is Barack Obama on the tube whining about "this didn't happen on our watch."
Couple of observations. First, it doesn't come off as Presidential as all. Finger pointing in such a hesitant manner looks weak. Second, you are dead wrong. The wheels came off when Democrats controlled the Congress and ignored repeated warnings from Bernake and Paulson about the impending crisis. Try to sell that.
Then there is the matter of the money you, Barack Obama, pocketed over the last four years. When Senators Dodd and Kerry, not exactly newbies on the Hill, are the only legislators who have taken more money than you from Fannie Mae, how do you maintain the lie that you had nothing to do with this? Fannie Mae just gave you money cuz you're a nice guy?
What about the $600,000 plus from Goldman Sachs or the almost $400,000 from Citi Group? Dude, you've only been in the Senate for less than four years and you've pulled more money from financial lobbyist fat cats than any other Senator on a per annum basis. How long before the media catch on and ask you to explain?
Fox News has picked up the scent:
And now your buds at ACORN are trying to get their nose into the bailout trough to the tune of $140,000,000.00 Are you shitting me? One of the reasons we are in this mess is because your buds, Dodd and Frank, kept pushing to raise the amount of money that could be loaned to the low income housing efforts advocated by ACORN. I venture to say if ACORN had not been called out in the blogosphere for the corrupt thugs they are you might have pulled this off. But not now. The American people are awakening to the fraud perpetrated on them by the likes of ACORN and others. On this one we are saying no way, now how.
You can't find a video of the head of Fannie Mae celebrating any Republicans. But Barack, the CEO is praising the Congressional Black Caucus while you are sitting there beaming. Not on your watch?
If you want to read more about ACORN's complicity in this mess go here (hat tip Nancy).
1) was against 1990s welfare reform, now for it
2) was for Washington, DC gun ban, now against it
3) was against death penalty for any reason, now favors it for child rapists and Osama Bin Laden
4) was against NAFTA, now for it
5) was against Cuban embargo, now for it
6) promised to accept campaign spending limits/matching funds if McCain did, now refuses to participate even though McCain does
7) was "strongly" against FISA, then voted for it
8) was against homosexual marriage, now supports it
9) was against personally displaying patriotism via flag lapel pins, now wears one
10) was against Jerusalem being the undivided capital of Israel, now for it
11) was for chatting unconditionally with Iran's President, now for conditions
12) had promised never to "disown" Reverend Wright, now Wright is disowned
13) for 20 years was for family's membership in hateful so-called "Trinity Church", now against it
14) was for mental health exceptions for allowing partial-birth abortions, now against them
15) voted against laws protecting abortion survivors, now for such laws
16) claimed to be for several town hall-style debates with Senator McCain before the conventions, but his campaign later said only one, and only at a time no one would watch (Independence Day)
17) promised to never use negative ads, yet started using them against McCain before McCain went negative
18) was against President Bush's faith-based initiatives, now for them
19) had demanded that Bush boycott Olympic opening ceremonies, then he financially supported the ceremonies by buying advertising time during them
20) was for pulling troops out of Iraq per timetable, with little or no regard to conditions, now "entirely conditions-based"
22) said in June that "my party" wouldn't take money from lobbyists, but as of late July his campaign as well as his party have accepted tens of thousands of dollars from individual registered lobbyists
23) was against all offshore drilling, now for it as long as it's "carefully circumscribed"
24) as of 7/7, was against using oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to bring about a "decrease in gas prices", now for it
25) was for punishing Michigan and Florida delegates by not seating them at the Dem convention, now he wants them seated
26) said in June that "my party" wouldn't take money from PACs, but as of mid-August he's accepting large donations from PACs and unions
28) was against 527s (PACs, special-interest groups, and non-affiliated political allies) advertising in his behalf, but now he's allowing it
29) was for raising taxes on many individuals and corporations, but now that the economy is better, he says those tax increases will have to wait until the economy is much better
30) called for bipartisan commission on Wall Street oversight in April, but after McCain recently agreed, Obama rejected the idea as a political dodge
31) said every candidate should reveal complete earmark history when it was him vs. Hillary, but now that earmark king Biden is his partner, secrecy is OK
(list by jgapinoy)
Usually in cases like this, Obama has his cult followers inundate the offending station with irate, semi-coherent phone calls, like they did recently to try to knock hatemongering smear merchant David Freddoso off the air for the crime of committing journalism critical of The One. For whatever reason they've decided that won't work here, so they're opting for Plan B. Straight out of the Democratic handbook Harry Reid used to threaten ABC's broadcast license for showing the "Path to 9/11," here's Obama lawyer Robert Bauer warning station managers not to air the NRA's new anti-Obama "Hunter" ad if they want to stay in the FCC's good graces. Follow the link and read his letter and the NRA's rebuttal for point/counterpoint. Is the NRA attributing gun policy positions to Obama which he no longer holds? Hard to say. Is there such a thing as a consistent Obama gun position? He flip-flopped opportunistically on the D.C. gun ban and was caught lying a few months ago about whether he'd ever seen that 1996 questionnaire in which his campaign claimed he supported a total ban on guns. Read Dave Kopel's painstaking response to FactCheck's piece on the NRA ads for more cases of obfuscation, noting particularly Obama's habit of speaking of gun regulations not in terms of what he does or doesn't support but what is and isn't "politically practicable" at a given moment. No wonder Guy Benson's worried about him bringing back the Fairness Doctrine. What happens when a deep blue Congress make that "politically practicable" too?
"Barack Obama would be the most anti-gun president in our nation's history. That's the truth," concluded Cox. "NRA-PVF has the facts on our side. No amount of running from or lying about his record and then intimidating news outlets in the hope of deceiving American gun owners and hunters is going to work. Those strong arm tactics may work in Chicago, but not in Pennsylvania and Ohio, and not as long as NRA-PVF has anything to say about it."
by Fred Barnes
There aren't many outfits as arrogant, self-important, and aggrandizing as the unelected Commission on Presidential Debates (CPD), sponsor of tonight's debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. When John McCain said Wednesday the debate might have to be delayed so he could work on the financial bailout, the commission responded, in effect, "Sorry, John, the debate must go on, whether or not financial markets collapse. The debate is more important."
That was just the latest example of high-handedness by the commission, which has hijacked the debates from the candidates, the campaigns, and the news media. The commission picked the sites for the debates (three presidential, one vice presidential) and charged the colleges involved $1.5 million for the honor. Then CPD announced the moderators for each debate without consulting with Obama or McCain campaigns or even informing them ahead of time.
The moderators are all nice people: Jim Lehrer, Gwen Ifill, Tom Brokaw, Bob Schieffer. But all four of them are liberals, more or less, of the mainstream media variety. Plus, the commission picked no one from cable news, where millions of people who follow campaigns and elections most closely go for their political news.
The McCain and Obama campaigns had little trouble working out their own differences on debate format. Their negotiations were amicable. When the commission stepped in, the talks became less friendly.
Getting the commission to go along with the format agreed upon by the candidates was a problem. In fact, the McCain campaign was so upset by the commission's overbearing attitude that it briefly considered dumping the commission and finding another vehicle for the debates. But the Obama campaign wasn't interested and the McCain folks dropped the idea.
The commission had its own plans for the format. The CPB honchos--Republican Frank Fahrenkopf, Democrat Paul Kirk, and who-knows-what Janet Brown--wanted Obama and McCain to be seated for tonight's debate. The campaigns wanted them to stand, and prevailed on this point. Representatives of Obama and McCain also forced the commission to allow the first debate to be on foreign policy, not domestic issues. And they insisted, against the commission's wishes, to have more questions asked at the town hall presidential debate.
But those changes came about only after a struggle. The commission was set on imposing its own preferences. After all, the commission regards the presidential debates as its property now and forever.
The CPB took over the debates in 1987 after the League of Women Voters was sacked as the sponsor. The league had often irritated the campaigns, especially the campaign of President Carter in 1980. Carter aides privately mocked the league as "the plague of women voters" and "the league of women vultures."
The commission ran the show in 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004. One of the biggest complaints this year was the selection of sites in Mississippi, Tennessee, and New York--not battleground states. The vice presidential debate is scheduled for next Thursday in St. Louis, Missouri.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
By Larry Johnsonclose
Author: Larry Johnson
When it comes to dealing with the financial meltdown none of the Democratic leaders are asking for Obama to return to town? Why? He is irrelevant. But not John McCain. His participation and leadership are seen as critical, even by Democrats. Just listen:
Anybody hear Reid, Pelosi, or anybody clamoring for the golden child of Illinois to come to Washington to help out? Nope. Nothing but crickets.
So Reid insists McCain get engaged and then, when McCain calls his bluff, Harry Reid wets himself. I guess the Senator from Utah suddenly realized he had invited the lion for dinner. He flipped flopped.
Jake Tapper reports:
A Democrat tells ABC News that, in a phone call late this afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that it would NOT be helpful for him to come back to Washington, D.C., to work on the Wall Street bailout bill.
McCain this afternoon suspended his campaign and said he would skip the first presidential debate in order to return to Capitol Hill to work on the log-jammed Bush administration legislation, which, as of Wednesday afternoon, was in peril.
McCain had phoned Reid to ask about the prospects of him, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and others to sit down and work together on hammering out a bipartisan proposal.
“Sorry,” Reid said to him, a Democrat close to Reid says.
Reid then read McCain the statement he had just put out: “This is a critical time for our country,” says the Reid statement. “While I appreciate that both candidates have signaled their willingness to help, Congress and the administration have a process in place to reach a solution to this unprecedented financial crisis. I understand that the candidates are putting together a joint statement at Sen. Obama’s suggestion. But it would not be helpful at this time to have them come back during these negotiations and risk injecting presidential politics into this process or distract important talks about the future of our nation’s economy. If that changes, we will call upon them. We need leadership; not a campaign photo op. If there were ever a time for both candidates to hold a debate before the American people about this serious challenge, it is now.”
A source close to Reid said McCain didn’t have much to say after that. Reid, the source says, thinks McCain’s maneuver is a gimmick born from bad poll numbers and the fact that “debate prep must not be going very well.”
Man, is Reid a pathetic wimp or what? First he wants McCain and then he does not. When faced with the financial equivalent of what Warren Buffet describes as “Pearl Harbor,” John McCain steps up, Barack Obama turns to Jim Johnson (one of the guys who helped create this mess), and Harry Reid is spinning like a top.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
McCain, in Congress for 26 years to Obama's four, has the longer record of producing bipartisan alliances on tough issues. He has bucked his party again and again to do just that — on immigration, federal judges and campaign finance, to name three on which he enraged many Republicans by defying the party position and working with Democrats. McCain-the-maverick has reverted to party orthodoxy on taxes and other issues this year, which will put him in a bind if elected: Would he stick with those new positions, or compromise with the Democratic Congress he'd likely be working with?
As McCain points out on the campaign trail, Obama has a much thinner record of bucking his own party. With the exception of tough fights for ethics reforms in the Illinois Senate and in Washington — where he angered Democratic colleagues by insisting on the disclosure of lobbyists who bundle campaign donations — Obama has rarely challenged party dogma on the sort of big, contentious issues he'd face as president. As a U.S. senator, he has taken liberal Democratic positions on most issues. Studies by Congressional Quarterly show Obama has voted with his party almost 97% of the time, vs. about 85% for McCain.
Where Obama has diverged, it has often been rhetorical and reactive: After securing the nomination, he expressed disagreement with a Supreme Court decision that struck down the death penalty in cases of child rape, and he approved a decision that overturned a strict gun control law in Washington, D.C. He has signaled support for a modified form of affirmative action (extending it to poorer whites and denying it to better-off African Americans), and he has supported a key Bush initiative that funnels federal dollars to faith-based groups.
Obama's bipartisan accomplishments in Washington have been on significant, but relatively non-controversial, efforts to secure nuclear weapons and establish a federal-spending database. What he lacks is a record of challenging his own party on divisive, difficult issues — the deficit, immigration, energy — that he'd have to reach out to Republicans on if he's elected. Even with a Democratic majority in Congress, it takes 60 votes in the Senate to pass most major measures.
David Schuster and James Popkin take a closer look at Joe Biden and his earmarks, which Biden has refused to itemize prior to this year — when he's requested over $340 million in pork. Instead of an Olbermann rationalization about Biden's earmarks somehow having the power to transform America when combined with Obamessiah-y goodness, Popkin and Schuster note the staggering hypocrisy between Barack Obama's primary rhetoric and his defense of his running mate now:
Here's the video:
by Brian Faughnan
I was curious about Barack Obama's record of casting 'present' votes in the Illinois legislature, so I decided to go back and look at some Senate transcripts from his first term to see what more I could learn. I was surprised at what I found.
At least in his first two years in the Senate, Obama seemed to have an unusual problem just casting votes -- physically. Sometimes he simply missed the votes (recall his debate admission that he is very disorganized. Other times he cast votes, but later said that he had accidentally voted the wrong way. Some highlights:
March 14, 1997 Thank you Madam Speaker (sic). Will the sponsor yield? I let this – I voted to have this bill come out of committee, because I think it was useful to have this kind of discussion on the bill, and I think the Senator has good intent… So although I did vote Yes to get this out of the committee, I – as currently constituted in light of the discussion, I think that it may – I will probably vote in opposition to the bill.
March 18, 1997 This is actually on the previous bill, 1076. I pressed yes, but my button didn't come up.
March 19, 1997 The – yesterday on Senate Bill 1000, I should have – I was trying to vote Yes on this and I was recorded as a No. Just wanted to have that in the record.
March 20, 1997 Yes, Madam President. On Senate bill 700, I should have pressed a Yes vote; pressed a Present vote. I'd like that reflected in the record, please.
May 13, 1997 Yes, Mr. President. I was off the floor and I was wondering if we were going to go back on 2nd reading. I'd ask the body for 2147. Move it from 2nd to 3rd.
May 28, 1997 Thank you, Madam President. My button seems to be sticking. So I was recorded as not voting on that; I would have voted aye.
October 30, 1997 Thank you, Madam President, Members of the Chamber, the sponsor. Let me start off by just saying that – I want to apologize to the sponsor because the – I'm originally recorded as a – as a Yes vote on this, and it's an indication, I think, that I wasn't paying sufficient attention. I do have concerns on this bill, and I just want to express those concerns very quickly…
November 14, 1997 Thank you, Mr. President. I had the same problem on Senate Bill 493. I'd like to be recorded as a No vote.
[Later that same day]
Thank you, Mr. President. On Senate Bill 452, I was out in the hall when the vote came up and I didn't get back here in time. I would like to be recorded as a Yes vote.
May 22, 1998 I apologize, Mr. President. I was off the floor and missed House Bill 1706. I just wanted to record that I would have voted in the affirmative.
I haven't looked at the rest of his tenure in the Senate to determine if this problem continued after his first term (1997-1998). But it certainly is odd.
There's a maxim among Members of Congress that you can't go too far wrong voting for a bill that fails, or against a bill that passes. In either case, half the people are happy because of the outcome of the vote, and the other half are happy that you voted with them. No one can hold anything against you.
Was Obama trying to take this one step further, and actually vote 'both ways?' If so, then it was a master stroke to hit on the idea of voting 'present.' That's a lot simpler than constantly explaining accidental votes.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
Larry C. Johnson is CEO and co-founder of BERG Associates, LLC, an international business-consulting firm with expertise combating terrorism and investigating money laundering. Mr. Johnson works with US military commands in scripting terrorism exercises, briefs on terrorist trends, and conducts undercover investigations on counterfeiting, smuggling and money laundering. Mr. Johnson, who worked previously with the Central Intelligence Agency and U.S. State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism, is a recognized expert in the fields of terrorism, aviation security, crisis and risk management. Mr. Johnson has analyzed terrorist incidents for a variety of media including the Jim Lehrer News Hour, National Public Radio, ABC's Nightline, NBC's Today Show, the New York Times, CNN, Fox News, and the BBC. Mr. Johnson has authored several articles for publications, including Security Management Magazine, the New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. He has lectured on terrorism and aviation security around the world, including the Center for Research and Strategic Studies at the Ecole Polytechnique in Paris, France. He represented the U.S. Government at the July 1996 OSCE Terrorism Conference in Vienna, Austria. From 1989 until October 1993, Larry Johnson served as a Deputy Director in the U.S. State Department's Office of Counter Terrorism. He managed crisis response operations for terrorist incidents throughout the world and he helped organize and direct the US Government's debriefing of US citizens held in Kuwait and Iraq, which provided vital intelligence on Iraqi operations following the 1990 invasion of Kuwait. Mr. Johnson also participated in the investigation of the terrorist bombing of Pan Am 103. Under Mr. Johnson's leadership the U.S. airlines and pilots agreed to match the US Government's two million-dollar reward. From 1985 through September 1989 Mr. Johnson worked for the Central Intelligence Agency. During his distinguished career, he received training in paramilitary operations, worked in the Directorate of Operations, served in the CIA's Operation's Center, and established himself as a prolific analyst in the Directorate of Intelligence. In his final year with the CIA he received two Exceptional Performance Awards. Mr. Johnson is a member of the American Society for Industrial Security. He taught at The American University's School of International Service (1979-1983) while working on a Ph.D. in political science. He has a M.S. degree in Community Development from the University of Missouri (1978), where he also received his B.S. degree in Sociology, graduating Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1976.
There is no doubt that the Republican Party shares a significant portion of the blame for the debacle unfolding in the financial markets. But the hands of many Democrats are stained as well. It is noteworthy that Republican Richard Shelby, who chaired the banking committee, only received $38,000 in contributions from Fannie Mae while newbie Senator Barack Obama raked in $90,549. As I have noted before, what in the hell is going on that a junior Senator gets showered with such largesse? And Obama's take from Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae was only slightly less than the $165,000 that Democrat chair of the Banking Committee, Chris Dodd snagged. Hell, Barack got $50,000 more than Senator Hillary Clinton and she had been in the Senate twice as long as Barack.
The one politician who can hold his head high and say, "I told you so" is John McCain. This is not a partisan talking point. It is an incontrovertible fact.
And if you want to compare the inaction of Barack Obama in 2006 with the prescience of John McCain, go ahead. Make my day.
Here are the facts. Verify them for yourself.
Let's start in November 2004, when it became clear that Franklin Raines was in charge when Fannie Mae was lying about its earnings and convincing investors that it was making more money than the facts supported. Peter Eavis described the situation in a column at Street.com:
He made more than $20 million last year and is highly influential in Washington. But right now, no one in their right mind would want to be Fannie Mae (FNM Quote - Cramer on FNM - Stock Picks) CEO Franklin Raines.
The executive has fought a characteristically tenacious battle to protect his job and defend Fannie as allegations of serious accounting missteps have piled up. Even so, Raines could well be gone from the nation's largest mortgage buyer by the end of this year, with his reputation in tatters. Much rests on what happens Monday. . .
His opponents over the past five years have included both the Bush and Clinton administrations, Federal Reserve Chief Alan Greenspan, rival banks and Fannie's own regulator, the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight, or OFHEO. And don't forget short-sellers, who have long wagered that losses on Fannie's balance sheet will make the company a danger to the U.S. financial system. . . .
That said, if Raines goes, it will almost certainly go hand in hand with a massive restatement of past financial results. This column has estimated that a critical measure of regulatory capital could have been overstated by billions of dollars, and that as much as $12 billion of derivatives losses were kept out of the income statement.
A restatement of that size would almost certainly open the door to far-reaching reforms of Fannie and rival Freddie (FRE Quote - Cramer on FRE - Stock Picks), both of which operate under advantageous government charters. Those reforms could reduce the profitability of Fannie Mae, which has run its huge mortgage portfolio aggressively and become severely undercapitalized in the process.
Remember. This was written almost four years ago. Another warning came two weeks later (November 21, 2004) from Peter Wallison of the American Enterprise Institute, who wrote:
Investors worried about both interest rate and political risks have driven down the shares of the US mortgage groups Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac close to their 52-week lows. Political risk is probably an insoluble problem, but the companies are voluntarily taking on the serious interest rate risk that investors fear.
Unfortunately for US taxpayers, Fannie and Freddie have done the rational thing for companies that the markets regard as being government-backed, just as the savings and loans organisations did in the late 1980s. They have placed the risk of loss on the government, while keeping the gains. Now investors are worried by the political risk that the government's response will be to weaken its implicit backing for the two institutions. Fannie and Freddie were established to add liquidity to the mortgage markets by purchasing mortgages from lenders, thus allowing them to make more residential mortgage loans. For many years after their creation, they simply purchased and held mortgages. In doing so, they took the interest rate risk associated with holding a fixed income asset–a mortgage–while funding it with variable rate liabilities. The S&Ls were ultimately destroyed by a similar mismatch. . . .
So if Fannie and Freddie are not lowering interest rates by purchasing these securities, why are they doing it? The question answers itself. The taxpayers, through the generosity of Congress, have offered Fannie and Freddie a great deal: heads you win; tails we lose. You can take interest rate risk by repurchasing your own mortgage-backed securities; if you earn substantial profits from your government support, you can keep them; if the market moves against you and you suffer losses, we will cover them.
The way to address this situation is to prohibit Fannie and Freddie from holding mortgages or mortgage-backed securities in their portfolios. That would reduce the risks they are taking on the taxpayers' account, but would not significantly affect mortgage rates. With the concern about the risks being taken by Fannie and Freddie, it is worth considering.
Got it? Problem identified and a solution proffered. That is what you call responsible policy wonkism.
A couple of months later, Robert Blumen weighed in at the Mises Economics Blog. Blumen explains the problem with Government Service Enterprises (i.e. GSEs) as follows:
Fannie is primarily a political creature, not a private sector business firm. The company purchases mortgages from banks and then either resells them as mortgage-backed securities with a form of credit insurance, or holds them on its own books. Their role as an intermediary is to assume credit risk for those institutions that wish to assume interest rate risk only. Fannie along with its slightly less evil twin Freddie Mac, were created during the depression as government to purchase mortgages that were in default extend additional credit to home owners. Over time, their intermediary role has become less important relative to their activity as a mortgage investment portfolio. They currently hold more than $1 trillion in mortgages on their own balance sheet.
They were eventually "privatized", but not really. The default risk that Fannie assumes is probably underwritten by the Fed. Although Fannie denies this, they also rely on the perception of the market that their bonds have a similar default risk to US Treasuries, which will always be paid off in the same nominal amount of dollars so long as the Fed can print money. The Greenspan Fed's policy of "too big to fail", and its reckless expansion of credit whenever a large player started to wobble further reinforced the perception that Fannie was an extension of the US Treasury. This gave Fannie an advantage in competing against private firms who have a higher cost of capital. As a result, they have come to dominate that segment of the mortgage market in which they are allowed to participate. . . .
One of the most destructive side effects of the GSE explosion has been their role in the housing bubble. As the buyer of first and last resort of residential mortgages, they enabled banks to recycle their capital into new mortgages. The risk that piles up on Fannie's balance sheet difficult to quantify, but could become a huge liability when the credit expansion reaches its inherent limits. Their mortgage-backed securities have been a favorite asset class of foreign institutions and central banks in their accumulation of US$-denominated debt.
By funneling domestic and foreign credit into residential real estate, they have created a variant of the mal-investment that Mises first identified in his business cycle theory. Mises noted that the extension of bank credit to producers would result in a form of mal-investment from the creationg of more higher order capital goods than could be afforded given the amout of available savings. The GSEs enable credit expansion to fund the construction of residential real estate, while the socialization of risk defeats the markets' mechanism for containing credit which would occur naturally if private parties were required to bear the risk. The result is an over-consumption of housing, a mal-investment in home building and mortage-brokering, and the creation of the liability associated with the interest-rate and default risk of the mortgage credit.
This problem was clearly identified in early 2005. The Bush Administration did nothing. The Republican controlled Congress did nothing. The Democrats, although in the minority, did nothing. Four Republicans stood up. Most had the reputation for being mavericks and out of step with the Bush Administration. The four? Chuck Hagel, Elizabeth Dole, John Sununu, and John McCain. The bill, was introduced on 26 January 2005:
Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005 - Amends the Federal Housing Enterprises Financial Safety and Soundness Act of 1992 to establish: (1) in lieu of the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight of the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), an independent Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Agency which shall have authority over the Federal Home Loan Bank Finance Corporation, the Federal Home Loan Banks, the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (Freddie Mac); and (2) the Federal Housing Enterprise Board.
Sets forth operating, administrative, and regulatory provisions of the Agency, including provisions respecting: (1) assessment authority; (2) authority to limit nonmission-related assets; (3) minimum and critical capital levels; (4) risk-based capital test; (5) capital classifications and undercapitalized enterprises; (6) enforcement actions and penalties; (7) golden parachutes; and (8) reporting.
Amends the Federal Home Loan Bank Act to establish the Federal Home Loan Bank Finance Corporation. Transfers the functions of the Office of Finance of the Federal Home Loan Banks to such Corporation.
Excludes the Federal Home Loan Banks from certain securities reporting requirements.
Abolishes the Federal Housing Finance Board.
John McCain spoke a year later, 25 May 2006, in favor of this bill. Not a single Democrat added their name to the bill. McCain was out of step with his party and with the Congress, but his words were prophetic:
Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae's regulator reported that the company's quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were "illusions deliberately and systematically created" by the company's senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.
The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight's report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae's former chief executive officer, OFHEO's report shows that over half of Mr. Raines' compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.
The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator's examination of the company's accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform.
For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO's report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO's report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.
I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.
I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation.
I defy you to find Barack Obama acting with foresight or wisdom on this matter. He was too busy figuring out how to run for President. He could not find the time to reach across the aisle and lend his prestige to this matter. He was not the only Democrat absent on the Senate side.
Fair is fair and right is right. No matter what you might think of John McCain and his politics, on this matter he was a leader, a maverick, and ahead of his time. The same can be said of Chuck Hagel, John Sununu, and Elizabeth Dole. Everyone else, Republican and Democrat in the Senate, asleep at the switch. This is fact, not spin.
Finally, I would recommend you read the report prepared in April 2006 by Robert Eisenbeis, W. Scott Frame, and Larry D. Wall, An Analysis of the Systemic Risks Posed by Fannie Mae and freddie Mac and an Evaluation of the Policy Options for Reducing those Risks. Someone in McCain's office was paying attention. We cannot say we were not warned. We were warned, we just did not want to listen.
At the end of his rather provocative story today, Eastan already posted this new video, but just in case you missed it, it’s worth posting above the fold. The campaign couldn’t list all of Obama’s Chicago cronies, so I’ve added some names for you to checkout in the Category list above the story.
In mid-June, Truthteller and I did an hour-long radio show on the highly disturbing story of Rezko and Obama’s long relationships, and the impoverished people of Chicago who suffered because Obama was more interested in making big deals for his rich benefactors than in truly helping the poor get beter housing.
Listen to the archive of our show, just as timely today as it was in June. It’s also vital to read these two articles on Obama’s entanglements with these corrupt and unconscionably cruel men: “The Blood Money of Barack Obama’s Money Men” and the Boston Globe’s “Grim proving ground for Obama’s housing policy.”
Also in June, in “The Epistolary Rezko,” Truthteller undertook the daunting task of compiling ALL of the posts at No Quarter — and there have been dozens of them! — on Tony Rezko and Obama’s other questionable associations with various characters in the Chicago Machine:
No Quarter dossier on Obama and Rezko:
The Tipping Point?
Barack, The Truth Ain’t A Smear
Patrick Fitzgerald Issues Obama A Warning
What Hypocrite Obama Should Have Discussion during His Wesleyan Commencement Address
Barack Obama’s Candidacy as a Take on The Picture of Dorian Gray
A Majority of One: On Losing the Democratic Base
Ok, So Tell Us What IS Allowed
Two Lone Voices Speak for Millions of Us
What’ll Be Left of the Democratic Party
It Ain’t Over: Obama MAY Have to Pay the Piper After All
Obama to Donate Contribution from Rezko’s Iraqi Friend
Be My Friend, Godfather
Jaws V, Starring Barack Obama
The Chicago Three: Obama, Ayers & Rezko
Charlie Gibson, Will You Ask Barack about Nadhmi Auchi?
Saddam Hussein, Barack Hussein Obama’s Hidden Real Estate Partner?
Barack “I-Didn’t-Know” Obama
Those Who Haunt Him
Hillary’s Campaign Comes out Swinging
“Nobie and Obama”
Authorization to Use Misleading Falsehoods
What We’ve Noticed about the Speech
This Is for Main Street (And for the Forgotten People Barack Obama Doesn’t Know)
Michelle Obama: “Give Us Something Here”
Rezko Muckrakers Alert!
The Forgotten People
Irrefutable Proof That Obama’s Own District Was Home to 11 Rezko Foreclosed Properties
Speak the Truth, Fallout Be Damned
The Rezko Saga: Two Videos
Get Your Daily Rezko Dose Here
The Media’s Panderbears, Part I
Sunday Scoops: Rezko-gate and Adviser-gate
Obama’s Prime-Slime Advisors
Good Morning, Barack! (Rezko Got Jobs for Your Staffers? Do Tell.)
Today’s Rezko Trial Scoops (And Prosecutors on $20K Kickback to Obama)
ABC News: Rezko $50 Million in Debt
(Pants on Fire!) Lynn Sweet: Obama and His Taking Questions on Rezko
Rezko Trial: Obama May Be Witness
Obama’s Judgment on the Eve of Judgment Day
Truthtelling from Lanny Davis (What about “Iron My Shirt?”)
Experience, and Experiences (of the Rezko Sort)
No He Can’t Because Yes They Will
More Questions on Rezko
“Obama Bagman” in Jail
Democratic Death Wish
How to Buy A Mansion You Can’t Afford
Will Rezko Blow Up Obama?
It is “Possible” Obama Was Aware of Rezko’s Financial and Legal Woes
20-Year Associate of Obama Arrested
Look before You Leap: Obama’s Mobbed-Up Allies
Politics Is A Blood Sport
BREAKING: ABC News Reports $100,000 from Rezko That Obama Hasn’t Returned
CNN on Rezko and Obama: This Is Obama’s “Slumwater”
FACT CHECK: Obama, His Contributor Rezko, The Slum Landlord Business
A Dope with Hope?
Obama/Rezko: It Comes down to Judgment
Didn’t Obama Watch The Firm
Steve Clemons on Tonight’s Debate
Patrick Fitzgerald Ties Obama to Rezko Indictments
All in for Hillary
Obama, His Lobbyists and His Cronies
RezkoWatch contains even more information on Obama’s deep and problematic ties to convicted slumlord and notorious political fixer Antoin “Tony” Rezko.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Author: Matthew Weaver
Patrick Buchanan is either liked or hated as his plain spoken words have cheered or riled people for many years. There is no mistake where he stands on any issue and he has never flip-flopped for political expediency. Patrick Buchanan has a sharp wit and, in my opinion, is always good for a read. Last week on the 9th he wrote a commentary about Governor Palin that is worth taking a few minutes to read:
One of Them and One of Us
One wonders: What did Sarah Palin ever do to inspire the rage and bile that exploded on her selection by John McCain? What is there either in this woman’s record or resume to elicit such feline ferocity?
What did we know of her when she was introduced?
That she was a mother of five who had brought into this world a baby boy with Down syndrome, thus living her Christian beliefs. That she was a small-town conservative who had risen from mayor of Wasilla (Pop. 9,700) to be governor of a state twice the size of Texas.
That she was a reformer who had dethroned an Old Boys’ Network by dumping a sitting Republican governor. That she had taken on Big Oil, taxed the companies and returned the money in $1,200 checks to every citizen of Alaska. And that she had cut a deal with Canada to build a pipeline to bring natural gas to her fellow Americans.
And, oh, yes. She was “Sarah Barracuda” — a fierce high school athlete, a runner-up in the Miss Alaska pageant, a Feminist for Life and lifetime member of the NRA. Introduced by McCain, she praised Hillary Clinton and pledged to finish her work by smashing through the glass ceiling in which Hillary had made 18 million cracks.
What, in any or all of this, is there to justify the feral attacks within minutes of her introduction? What had she done to cause this outburst? Answer: absolutely nothing.
No. Sarah Palin is not resented for what she has done, but for who she is: a Christian conservative who believes unborn children are gifts of God, even those with birth defects, and have a God-given right to life.
Normally, the press is reluctant to rummage into the private lives of public servants, unless their conduct affects their duties or they preach virtues they hypocritically do not practice.
Yet, no sooner was Palin introduced, than the media went berserk over the news that her 17-year-old daughter is pregnant. As one in three births in America is out-of-wedlock and Hollywood celebrates this lifestyle, why did The New York Times and The Washington Post splash this “news” on page one above the fold?
How does Bristol Palin’s pregnancy disqualify Sarah Palin to be vice president? Why is it even relevant?
They did it because they thought it would damage Sarah Palin in the eyes of a Christian community they do not comprehend.
So out of bounds was the media that Obama, in an act of decency, declared Palin’s family off limits and reminded the media that he was himself born to a teenage single mom.
If one would wish to see the famous liberal double standard on naked display, consider.
Palin’s daughter was fair game for a media that refused to look into reports that John Edwards, a Democratic candidate for president, was conducting an illicit affair with a woman said to be carrying his child and cheating on his faithful wife Elizabeth, who has incurable cancer. That was not a legitimate story, but Bristol Palin’s pregnancy is?
Why did the selection of Sarah Palin cause a suspension of all standards and a near riot among a media that has been so in the tank for Barack even “Saturday Night Live” has satirized the infatuation?
Because she is one of us — and he is one of them.
Barack and Michelle are affirmative action, Princeton, Columbia, Harvard Law. She is public schools and Idaho State. Barack was a Saul Alinsky social worker who rustled up food stamps. Sarah Palin kills her own food.
Michelle has a $300,000-a-year sinecure doing PR for a Chicago hospital. Todd Palin is a union steelworker who augments his income working vacations on the North Slope. Sarah has always been proud to be an American. Michelle was never proud of America — until Barack started winning.
Barack has zero experience as an executive. Sarah ran her own fishing fleet, was mayor for six years and runs the largest state in the union. She belongs to a mainstream Christian church. Barack was, for 15 years, a parishioner at Trinity United and had his daughters baptized by Pastor Jeremiah Wright, whose sermons are saturated in black-power, anti-white racism and anti-Americanism.
Sarah is a rebel. Obama has been a go-along, get-along cog in the Daley Machine. She is Middle America. Barack, behind closed doors in San Francisco, mocked Middle Americans as folks left behind by the global economy who cling bitterly to their Bibles, bigotries and guns.
Barack has zero foreign policy experience. Palin runs a state that is home to anti-missile, missile and air defense bases facing the Far East, commands the Alaska National Guard and has a soldier-son heading for Iraq.
Barack, says the National Journal, has the most left-wing voting record in the Senate, besting Socialist Bernie Sanders. Palin’s stances read as though they were lifted from Reagan’s 1980 “no pale pastels” platform. And this is what this media firestorm is all about.
Source: Patrick J. Buchanan’s blog, One of Them and One of Us, Buchanan.Org, September 9, 2008.
Author: Pat Racimora
I love Hollywood movies just like most everyone else. Give me a comfortable stadium seat, a good thriller, a bag of fresh popcorn, and a cold Pepsi, and I am as happy as a hog in warm poop.
But I don’t go to the stars, even my favorite ones, for factual information about any candidate or political position. Every time I hear one mouthing off about politics, I strip away who they are and pretend instead that they are the neighbor next door who watches Keith Olbermann and figures she now knows everything.
The difference is that my neighbor has no bully pulpit. But our Hollywood celebrities get their faces and words out there in the bright lights, and the media eats it all up. Their ignorance metastasizes in an instant.
My latest beef is with Matt Damon, one of the shinier stars and normally among my favorites. He played the part of a genius in (and even co-wrote) Good Will Hunting, but his real-life fact-generating skills are far less impressive.
Damon is trying to scare everyone by suggesting that John McCain would be fairly likely to die while in office—a one in three chance. To “prove his point” he totally misrepresents the actuarial data (probably because he cannot read a percentage chart—if you pretend to be dumb, you can see how he came up with this figure).
First, let’s be clear about mortality actuarial tables. They are used to predict risk, using probability statistics, and the figures do not represent only healthy people. So by the time one gets to 70, some have taken very poor care of themselves and others are chronically ill. John McCain has had bouts with melanoma in the past, but he is under the best doctor’s care and would continue to be were he to be elected President. His dreadful years in a Viet Nam prison brought on lifetime physical consequences, but none seem to have left life-threatening sequela. His mother is alive and well into her 90s. He is married, financially strong, and churchgoing, all of which are positively correlated to longevity. And also remember, the older you get the more years you likely have yet to live. (You get extra credit for living longer.)
Using straight actuarial mortality tables (based on general population trends), McCain has an average of little over a 3% chance of dying each year if in office, starting at age 72. At his current age, McCain’s life expectancy is 12 more years. See exact figures here (and you probably won’t be able to resist checking out yourself).
So, Matt, next time you spout off, get your facts straight!
Name: Lisa B
One of the many things about Barack Obama that has not been well understood is his time at Columbia and working in NY. Surely the guy had friends or co-workers who could vouch for what he did, what a great guy he was, how they saw a shining future coming his way, how he was an immediate star at everything he did?
A story back in October 2007 in the NYT gave some background on Obama’s days in NY. One source for this article was Dan Armstrong, a coworker from Obama’s days at Business International.
Some say he [Obama] has taken some literary license in the telling of his story. Dan Armstrong, who worked with Mr. Obama at Business International Corporation in New York in 1984 and has deconstructed Mr. Obama’s account of the job on his blog, analyzethis.net, wrote: “All of Barack’s embellishment serves a larger narrative purpose: to retell the story of the Christ’s temptation. The young, idealistic, would-be community organizer gets a nice suit, joins a consulting house, starts hanging out with investment bankers, and barely escapes moving into the big mansion with the white folks.”
In an interview, Mr. Armstrong added: “There may be some truth to that. But in order to make it a good story, it required a bit of exaggeration.”
Mr. Armstrong’s description of the firm, and those of other co-workers, differs at least in emphasis from Mr. Obama’s. It was a small newsletter-publishing and research firm, with about 250 employees worldwide, that helped companies with foreign operations (they could be called multinationals) understand overseas markets, they said. Far from a bastion of corporate conformity, they said, it was informal and staffed by young people making modest wages.
Employees called it “high school with ashtrays.”
Now, questions about Obama’s time in NY have resurfaced, both online and in print. Sweetnessandlight, features some comments from former coworkers. The blog’s story is based on a personal blog by Dan Anderson (analyzethis.net).
Analyzethis.net quotes from Obama’s book Dreams From My Father:
Eventually a consulting house to multinational corporations agreed to hire me as a research assistant. Like a spy behind enemy lines, I arrived every day at my mid-Manhattan office and sat at my computer terminal, checking the Reuters machine that blinked bright emerald messages from across the globe. As far as I could tell I was the only black man in the company, a source of shame for me but a source of considerable pride for the company’s secretarial pool.
Then Armstrong tells his version:
First, it wasn’t a consulting house; it was a small company that published newsletters on international business. Like most newsletter publishers, it was a bit of a sweatshop. I’m sure we all wished that we were high-priced consultants to multinational corporations. But we also enjoyed coming in at ten, wearing jeans to work, flirting with our co-workers, partying when we stayed late, and bonding over the low salaries and heavy workload.
Barack worked on one of the company’s reference publications. Each month customers got a new set of pages on business conditions in a particular country, punched to fit into a three-ring binder. Barack’s job was to get copy from the country correspondents and edit it so that it fit into a standard outline. There was probably some research involved as well, since correspondents usually don’t send exactly what you ask for, and you can’t always decipher their copy. But essentially the job was copyediting.
It’s also not true that Barack was the only black man in the company. He was the only black professional man. Fred was an African-American who worked in the mailroom with his son. My boss and I used to join them on Friday afternoons to drink beer behind the stacks of office supplies. That’s not the kind of thing that Barack would do. Like I said, he was somewhat aloof.
Back to Obama’s version:
… as the months passed, I felt the idea of becoming an organizer slipping away from me. The company promoted me to the position of financial writer. I had my own office, my own secretary; money in the bank. Sometimes, coming out of an interview with Japanese financiers or German bond traders, I would catch my reflection in the elevator doors—see myself in a suit and tie, a briefcase in my hand—and for a split second I would imagine myself as a captain of industry, barking out orders, closing the deal, before I remembered who it was that I had told myself I wanted to be and felt pangs of guilt for my lack of resolve.
And what Armstrong described:
If Barack was promoted, his new job responsibilities were more of the same - rewriting other people’s copy. As far as I know, he always had a small office, and the idea that he had a secretary is laughable. Only the company president had a secretary. Barack never left the office, never wore a tie, and had neither reason nor opportunity to interview Japanese financiers or German bond traders.
Like I said, I’m a fan. His famous keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention moved me to tears. The Democrats - not to mention America - need a mixed-race spokesperson who can connect to both urban blacks and rural whites, who has the credibility to challenge the status quo on issues ranging from misogynistic rap to unfair school funding.
And yet I’m disappointed. Barack’s story may be true, but many of the facts are not. His larger narrative purpose requires him to embellish his role. I don’t buy it. . . . I can’t listen uncritically to Barack Obama now that I know he’s willing to bend the facts to his purpose.
Comments to Mr Armstrong’s piece included those from other former coworkers agreeing that Obama’s version was exaggerated across the board. (Sweetnessandlight features these, but you can also find them in Armstrong’s blog if you comb through all the responses.)
I worked with Dan and Barack at Business International. I too read Barack Obama’s account of his work at Business International and immediately thought this was not the same place I worked! It was not a high level consulting firm. As today’s NYT article states, it was hardly an upscale environment. And I laughed when I read in the book that he had his own secretary! The only one who had his in secretary in our group was the VP. There were some shared administrative resources, and I was one of them. I remember Barack as being quiet, bright, reserved, polite. He was indeed the only black male professional there, but it was hardly a swanky environment.
[another commentor] calls Barack self-assured? That’s putting a nice spin on it. I found him arrogant and condescending.
The thing is, I worked next to Barack nearly every day he was at Business International–on many days angling for possession of the best Wang word processing terminal.
I had MANY discussions with Barack.
I can tell you this: even though I was an assistant editor (big doings at this “consulting firm”) and he was, well, he was doing something there, he certainly treated me like something less than an equal. . .
But know what? I can forgive him for being immature–which is probably all that was at the time. Don’t we all believe we know everything at just around that age?
That said…he was a lot older when he wrote his book. Mature enough by this time to realize that his account of his time at Business International could be described as embellishment…
On Sept. 11, 2008, the WSJ did a necessarily short piece - given the paucity of information - about Obama’s time in NY,
Barack Obama makes his first campaign visit today to his alma mater, Columbia University. Just don’t ask the prolific self-diarist to talk about his undergraduate days in Morningside Heights.
The Columbia years are a hole in the sprawling Obama hagiography. In his two published memoirs, the 47-year-old Democratic nominee barely mentions his experience there. He refuses to answer questions about Columbia and New York — which, in this media age, serves only to raise more of them. Why not release his Columbia transcript? Why has his senior essay gone missing?
Voters and the media are now exercising due diligence before Election Day, and they are meeting resistance from Mr. Obama in checking his past. Earlier this year, the AP tracked down Mr. Obama’s New York-era roommate, “Sadik,” in Seattle after the campaign refused to reveal his name. Sohale Siddiqi, his real name, confirmed Mr. Obama’s account that he turned serious in New York and “stopped getting high.” “We were both very lost,” Mr. Siddiqi said. “We were both alienated, although he might not put it that way. He arrived disheveled and without a place to stay.” For some reason the Obama camp wanted this to stay out of public view.
Such caginess is grist for speculation. Some think his transcript, if released, would reveal Mr. Obama as a mediocre student who benefited from racial preference. Yet he later graduated from Harvard Law School magna cum laude, so he knows how to get good grades. Others speculate about ties to the Black Students Organization, though students active then don’t seem to remember him.
sweetnessandlight also had something about Obama’s activities with Columbia’s BSO:
He said he was somewhat involved with the Black Student Organization and anti-apartheid activities, though, in recent interviews, several prominent student leaders said they did not remember his playing a role.
Ignoretalkingheads blog, having read the WSJ piece, notes:
Columbia University and Bank Street College are four blocks apart. See here. Obama attended Columbia from 1981 - 1984. See here. Ayers received a Master of Education Degree from Bank Street in 1984. See here. Doesn’t mean a thing…yet. But after reading the following in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal I smell a rat:
A rat? I don’t know. But Obama won’t talk about Ayers and he doesn’t talk or release documents about his time in NY. All we have to go on is his account in his autobiography, while even friendly former co-workers dispute his characterization of his work and his importance within the organization.
The confusion doesn’t stop there however. After Columbia but before moving to Chicago, Obama was working as a community organizer with the NY Public Interest Research Group.
Again, from the 2007 NYT:
After about a year, he was hired by the New York Public Interest Research Group, a nonprofit organization that promotes consumer, environmental and government reform. He became a full-time organizer at City College in Harlem, paid slightly less than $10,000 a year to mobilize student volunteers.
Mr. Obama says he spent three months “trying to convince minority students at City College about the importance of recycling” — a description that surprised some former colleagues. They said that more “bread-and-butter issues” like mass transit, higher education, tuition and financial aid were more likely the emphasis at City College.
I guess one of the reasons the Obama campaign won’t release information or records from his NY days is because of what will turn out to be inconsistencies with this autobiography. It is possible that if his descriptions of his work and activities don’t square with that of coworkers Obama would have to answer to whether his statements were merely exaggerations or outright lies (or maybe not, considering the media love fest).
When an entire campaign revolves around character and a personal story, having that story so easily disputed by friends and coworkers is a huge problem. Obama’s other problem is his autobiography itself - all these assertions about his past are what got him so much attention in the first place. He cannot afford to back off these or his book.