Senator Obama’s Lack of integrity
Posted by rightwinger on October 24, 2008
This is an awesome article and well researched article by baseball crank.
In Part I of this series on the “Integrity Gap” between the two national tickets, I looked at Governor Sarah Palin’s record of integrity in public office – her battles against corruption and wasteful spending, even by the powers controlling her own party in her home state of Alaska – even when she was putting her career at risk. As I explained, integrity is not just about honesty – it’s also about one of the crucial presidential character traits, toughness. Palin has proven that she doesn’t back down no matter who she has to take on.
In Part II, I will look at Senator Barack Obama, who is easily contrasted to Palin because they have careers of similar length in both local and statewide office, in states controlled largely by their own party. I have previously explained here why Obama lacks every kind of experience that we usually rely upon to test the character of potential presidents and teach them the lessons they will need to govern, and I’ve explained here why the flurry of flip-flops at the outset of his general election campaign raises questions specifically about his toughness, his principles and his convictions. During the recent financial crisis we got a taste of Obama’s leadership style in crisis: do nothing and hope he can shift the blame to somebody else.
Nearly all of Obama’s appeal requires his supporters to take on faith that he will do things he has never done. But on the question of whether Obama will ever take a meaningful stand against corruption or waste in his own party or stand up to vested interests and ideological extremists on his own side, we have a certain answer: he has bypassed too many opportunities to do so already. To the contrary, Obama is so thoroughly marinated in extremism and corruption that it would be nearly impossibe to extricate himself and still have a meaningful identity left.
Given the length of this post – at over 21,000 words, it runs more than twice the length of Part I and 33% longer than my entire five-part series on Mitt Romney from the primaries – it was necessary to break the body of the post into six separate volumes that follow this introduction:
Chapter two of seven.
II. Barack Obama: The Greasy Pole
Note on sources: You can follow the links here, as I’ve linked to sources for nearly all the factual assertions, and mark additional sources with an asterisk *. Where appropriate I’ve indicated sources whose credibility I was uncertain of, but have generally tried to avoid citing much in the way of rumor. Fairly late in the game in assembling this post, I picked up David Freddoso’s book The Case Against Barack Obama, which examines a lot of these same issues in more depth and with copious footnotes. I’m indebted to Freddoso’s book for pointing me to additional sources in a handful of places, and for stories I’d missed like the Stroger saga, although in most cases I’ve cited additional web-based sources besides the book. I’d recommend the book and I refer the reader where possible to stories Freddoso has written up at more length.
Barack Obama talks a good game about being a reformer, a good government, “new politics” guy. But somehow his priorities never extended to actually doing anything that would rock the boat in Chicago politics or get in the way of his climb up the greasy pole of the Chicago machine. Instead, his rise has depended on the exchange of favors with crooked patrons and extremist friends and on the forebearance of the machine.
You will often hear Obama’s defenders argue that his ties to this or that extremist or corrupt figure is an isolated aberration, an example of “guilt by association”; that the various favors he dispensed with public money and private charitable foundation funds are nothing unusual in politics. But when you look at Obama’s record and biography taken together, what you see is that the favors, the extremists and the machine ties are all inextricably intertwined, and that far from being isolated incidents, Obama’s modus operandi of mutual back-scratching with radicals and crooks extends to nearly every aspect of his life and career – his family, his faith, his home, his jobs and education, his significant election victories and legislative “accomplishments,” his closest advisors and most important mentors, the money and organization that made up his campaigns.
Chapter three of seven.
B. The Extremists
To avoid being mistaken for a sellout, I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos. The Marxist professors and structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets. We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night, in the dorms, we discussed neocolonialism, Franz Fanon, Eurocentrism, and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our setereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints. We weren’t indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated.But this strategy alone couldn’t provide the distance I wanted, from Joyce [a former girlfriend] or my past. After all, there were thousands of so-called campus radicals, most of them white and tenured and happily tolerated. No, it remained necessary to prove which side you were on, to show your loyalty to the black masses, to strike out and name names.
–Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, describing his choice of friends as a student at Occidental College in Los Angeles, which he attended for two years. He also wrote about “socialist conferences I sometimes attended at Cooper Union” after transferring to Columbia, and “went to hear Kwame Toure, formerly Stokely Carmichael of SNCC and Black Power fame, speak at Columbia.” Carmichael, of course, was a famous Sixties radical, a subject that apparently interested Obama as early as his college years.
If Obama was going to pursue his dreams of political activism, he wasn’t going to follow the route of Sarah Palin and Joe Biden in relying on his roots to his home town, nor did he have John McCain’s advantage of a famous war record. He was going to need a political base that would accept an outsider, and needed to bring something to the table. And this is how he built one. The groundwork for Obama’s entree into Chicago politics was laid through networking in the very same radical chic circles he described in the passage above. There’s not adequate space here to revisit in full the left-wing radicalism of Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Fr. Michael Pfleger, the New Party, Alice Palmer, Rashid Khalidi, Khalid al-Mansour, and others in Obama’s circle, but the thumbnail sketches and links below should clue you in to the common theme – Obama carefully cultivated an image as a friend of Sixties radicals, race-baiters, Marxists and worse. Maybe this was due to the same romantic impulse of his college years and maybe it was craven political opportunism, but the record shows how firmly he ingratiated himself with these people, with the result that he gets endorsements to this day from avowed Communists. * Even as a presidential candidate, Obama is willing to lend his appearance and good name to the operations of wholly disreputable far-left figures like Al Sharpton. *
Yet while Obama was adept at showing one face to the hard left, he and the organizations he worked with were also acutely aware of the need to present a more respectable face to the broader community, as the Woods Fund noted in a report on its grant to ACORN (more on which below):
Indeed, the report brags about pulling the wool over the public’s eye. The Woods Fund’s claim to be “nonideological,” it says, has “enabled the Trustees to make grants to organizations that use confrontational tactics against the business and government ‘establishments’ without undue risk of being criticized for partisanship.”
Chapter four of seven.
The left-wing group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), a national umbrella group of, well, community organizers, sits at the intersection of Obama’s ties to extremists and his ties to machine politics. ACORN is indisputably Sixties-style “New Left” in its orientation, pursuing what Sol Stern describes as an agenda of “undisguised authoritarian socialism.” The group has both money and foot soldiers, as it “uses banking regulations to pressure financial institutions into massive ‘donations’ that it uses to finance supposedly non-partisan voter turn-out drives.” See here for a more thorough description of the mischief ACORN plays in forcing banks to make subprime loans. And:
In one of the first book-length scholarly studies of ACORN, Organizing Urban America, Rutgers University political scientist Heidi Swarts describes this group… as “oppositional outlaws.” Swarts, a strong supporter of ACORN, has no qualms about stating that its members think of themselves as “militants unafraid to confront the powers that be.” “This identity as a uniquely militant organization,” says Swarts, “is reinforced by contentious action.” ACORN protesters will break into private offices, show up at a banker’s home to intimidate his family, or pour protesters into bank lobbies to scare away customers, all in an effort to force a lowering of credit standards for poor and minority customers. According to Swarts, long-term ACORN organizers “tend to see the organization as a solitary vanguard of principled leftists…the only truly radical community organization.”
Chapter five of seven.
D. The Machine
Chicago politics, of course, have been famously corrupt and totally dominated by the Democratic machine since beyond living memory. (In Illinois at the state level, corruption is endemic and bipartisan: “four of the last nine governors have been indicted on charges of corruption, and three were convicted”). This is the city where top aides to Mayor Daley were convicted in May 2006 of federal felonies for rigging hiring in city jobs. It’s a city where an alderman who pleaded guilty in August to a “general practice” of shaking down real estate developers was caught on tape saying “Most aldermen, most politicians are hos.”. (A Rezko-linked alderman, in fact, who is the daughter of a Rezko-linked housing developer once represented by Obama’s law firm * * – small world, indeed). It’s not an uncommon sentiment (several aldermen found it necessary to hold a press conference stating that they were not, in fact, hos).
The Chicago machine is nothing if not an equal opportunity honeypot; machine corruption and its close cousin, racial/ethnic politics, has endured over decades as different ethnic and racial groups have taken their turns running the city, all the while doling out favors within their wards. The current machine is topped by Mayor Daley, two decades in office and the son of the city’s most notorious mayor; at the state level, it envelops Democratic Governor Rod Blagojevich.
To all appearances, Barack Obama’s home neighborhood of Hyde Park – affluent, academic, ethnically diverse – should be a natural base for that rare breed in Chicago, the real reformer, with the independence to not only stand aloof from the politics of the greased palm and the dead voter, but actually make that politics more difficult:
The neighborhood invariably elects a goo-goo alderman who pulls killjoy stunts like, you know, asking to see what’s in the mayor’s budget before voting on it. The most famous, Leon Despres, who just turned 100, once spent five days at Trotsky’s place in Mexico City.
Of course, as noted above, Obama’s original district also extended to what Salon calls “the weary black neighborhoods to the west, with threadbare street corners that might hold a liquor store, or a chicken shack. (It did not include Trinity United.).” (Todd Spivak, who covered Obama in 2000, says Obama’s district “spanned a large swath of the city’s poor, black, crime-ridden South Side”)
Certainly Obama frequently postured as a political reformer in Illinois (“My reputation in Springfield was as an independent”), as well as in the U.S. Senate. Was that posture any more, or any less, genuine than his posture as a friend of left-wing radicals? I don’t know the answer to that either; I only know that Obama, with his sights set beyond Hyde Park, made sure never to get in the machine’s way. “Jay Stewart, the executive director of the Chicago Better Government Association, notes that, while Mr. Obama supported ethics reforms as a state senator, he has “‘been noticeably silent on the issue of corruption here in his home state, including at this point, mostly Democratic.'” The Chicago Sun-Times isn’t fooled either:
Obama friend Tony Rezko was convicted of corrupting state government, but Obama was never implicated and has returned contributions Rezko made to his Senate campaign. Obama did run as an independent Democrat but worked closely with state Senate President Emil Jones, an old-school organization Democrat. Obama runs for president with the full blessing of Mayor Daley.
As we shall see, this is not the half of it.
Chapter six of seven.
E. The Favor Factory
With the expansion of federal intervention in the economy that will inevitably follow the current financial crisis – ranging from the $700 billion financial industry bailout to the $25 billion auto industry bailout to the federal government investing billions directly in major banks – there will be even more opportunities than usual for the next Administration to use federal dollars to reward friends and cronies instead of serving the taxpayers. Indeed, House Democrats tried in the bailout package to earmark proceeds to go to Obama’s old friends at ACORN, and succeeded in subsidizing ACORN in the housing bill that passed in July. It’s important that the next White House be resistant to opening the favor factory for business.
Senator Obama now claims that he will be a good steward of federal taxpayer money – such a good steward, in fact, that he’ll be able to cut spending enough to offset every dollar of his many hundreds of billions of dollars of planned new spending programs. But his record throughout his career shows him to be a man who has always been quite liberal in every sense of the word in using public money and private charitable money to reward his friends, and who is wholly disinclined to saying “no.” Obama knows how the favor factory works, and he isn’t shy about using it.
Chapter seven of seven.
F. “New Politics” In Old Wineskin
Obama’s supporters like to shift the conversation away from his record at all costs and focus on his campaign. One of the principal themes of that campaign has been his commitment to “a ‘new politics for a new time’ shorn of partisanship and division,” exemplified by a higher standard of integrity in campaigning, what John Dickerson of Slate called “a national seminar for 16 months on changing politics and shedding the old insider way of doing things.” Frankly, I pity anyone who was ever foolish enough to believe in that, but at any rate, even if you leave aside the traditional “who lied more and said meaner things about who,” you can see that Obama’s campaign has repeatedly broken the very promises that underpinned the “new politics” theme:
I’ll have more detail on this later in the week after I’ve finished with the big Obama post. In the meantime, here’s Beldar, who has actually followed this story from the outset and has read the whole thing.
If you go out on the web you will find with Barack Obama, as with any national political figure, a broad spectrum of charges ranging from the indisputably true to the undeniably crackpot, and plenty in between. Here’s two of the hot recent ones that fall in the gray area, as well as one example of how the mainstream media can follow up on stuff like this.
This essay by Jack Cashill argues somewhat convincingly that Dreams of My Father had the assistance of a ghostwriter, and more speculatively that the ghostwriter was Bill Ayers. I don’t know a lot about Cashill but the essay is basically in the category of “plausible but unproven speculation.” On the upside, Cashill doesn’t make any really uncheckable assertions of fact other than his linguistic analyses (which could presumably be rechecked by MSM sources), so you can apply your own judgment.
Then we have this report sourced out of the Daily Mail in London suggesting an extramarital affair by Obama. (H/T Ace, who applies the Andrew Sullivan standard). Aside from Clinton and Gary Hart, we’ve had rumors of this kind in the past with Kerry, McCain (aside from the known affairs on his first wife, that is), George H.W. Bush, Palin and John Edwards, and only the Edwards one panned out. I don’t put much stock in this or think the media should report it without investigating and getting the facts right. But I would hope they do seriously investigate stuff like this even when it’s about Obama.
Then we have this September 29 report from Ken Timmerman of Newsmax about Obama’s lack of financial controls and resulting receipt of large numbers of shady and quite likely illegal campaign contributions, including from foreign sources. Newsmax is not the most credible of sources – I generally don’t cite their work unless it can be corroborated – but Timmerman, too, made clear what his sources were (FEC records) and you had to wonder why no major media outlets had tried the same thing. Shamed by Newsmax, which the IHT version of this credits, the New York Times ran basically the same investigation and seems to have come to basically the same conclusion, albeit without bringing themselves to address the more problematic foreign-donor angle. But it’s a key example of the major media lacking the initiative to do basic due diligence on Obama until a fringe-y right-wing source delivers them a completed story on a platter.
I’ll cover this in more detail in a few days in Part II of my series on the Integrity Gap between the two tickets, but as the evidence mounts* of the involvement of the left-wing community organizer group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) in extensive voter fraud across multiple states, Barack Obama has tried to minimize his involvement with ACORN and the critical role it played in his rise in the world of the Chicago political machine.
Fact: Barack was never an ACORN community organizer.Fact: Barack was never an ACORN trainer and never worked for ACORN in any other capacity.
Fact: ACORN was not part of Project Vote, the successful voter registration drive Barack ran in 1992.
As the Cleveland Leader points out, this is flatly contradicted by an article written by ACORN head Toni Foulkes, which was conveniently removed from the internet (a common practice in the drive to scrub all evidence of Obama’s career prior to 2004) after it was quoted by Stanley Kurtz of the National Review and other sources, while the rest of the articles on the same site remain up:
Obama then went on to run a voter registration project with Project VOTE in 1992 that made it possible for Carol Moseley Braun to win the Senate that year. Project VOTE delivered 50,000 newly registered voters in that campaign (ACORN delivered about 5,000 of them).Since then, we have invited Obama to our leadership training sessions to run the session on power every year, and, as a result, many of our newly developing leaders got to know him before he ever ran for office. Thus it was natural for many of us to be active volunteers in his first campaign for STate Senate and then his failed bid for U.S. Congress in 1996. By the time he ran for U.S. Senate, we were old friends.”
This stuff has been out there in plain sight, yet still Obama denies it:
As recently as March 2008, the Los Angeles Times also made reference to Barack Obama’s involvement with ACORN:
“At the time, Talbot worked at the social action group ACORN and initially considered Obama a competitor. But she became so impressed with his work that she invited him to help train her staff.” (LA Times, March 2, 2008)
A 1995 Chicago Reader article on Obama stated “Obama continues his work largely through classes for future leaders identified by ACORN and the Centers for New Horizons.”
During the 2008 Democrat primary, the Obama campaign paid Citizen Services Inc., a subsidiary of ACORN, more than $800,000, a payment that Obama’s campaign somehow managed to misreport to the FEC
As of yet, we can only speculate about why Obama is lying about his involvement with ACORN, what other aspects of that relationship he has failed to disclose, and what other things have been conveniently “disappeared” from his Chicago past.