By Thomas Sowell – Fall 2008 – for Jewish World Review
Jewish World Review Oct. 7, 2008 / 8 Tishrei 5769
The Real Obama
My cmnt: These columns by Dr. Sowell were published one month before the 2008 presidential election that placed Obama as the first ‘black’ president. If these columns had been widely known, read and believed we could have perhaps been spared the disastrous eight years of the Obama presidency.
My cmnt: On the other hand eight years of Hillary would have been as bad if not worse. The one thing I thank Obama for is saving us from her. As to how he managed to dethrone the queen please read this column.
My cmnt: Presenting himself as an American black man – even tho’ his mother was white and his father was Kenyan and he was raised first in Indonesia by a step father who was not black and then sent to Hawaii to be raised by his two white grandparents – seems a stretch. If having one black parent and one white parent makes you black then by simple logic it also makes you white. In fact Obama is most nearly a typical white liberal in his diction, upbringing, religion, high school experience, drug use, college education and politics.
By Thomas Sowell
Critics of Senator Barack Obama make a strategic mistake when they talk about his “past associations.” That just gives his many defenders in the media an opportunity to counter-attack against “guilt by association.”
We all have associations, whether at the office, in our neighborhood or in various recreational activities. Most of us neither know nor care what our associates believe or say about politics.
Associations are very different from alliances. Allies are not just people who happen to be where you are or who happen to be doing the same things you do. You choose allies deliberately for a reason. The kind of allies you choose says something about you.
Jeremiah Wright, Father Michael Pfleger, William Ayers and Antoin Rezko are not just people who happened to be at the same place at the same time as Barack Obama. They are people with whom he chose to ally himself for years, and with some of whom some serious money changed hands.
Some gave political support, and some gave financial support, to Obama’s election campaigns, and Obama in turn contributed either his own money or the taxpayers’ money to some of them. That is a familiar political alliance— but an alliance is not just an “association” from being at the same place at the same time.
Obama could have allied himself with all sorts of other people. But, time and again, he allied himself with people who openly expressed their hatred of America. No amount of flags on his campaign platforms this election year can change that.
Unfortunately, all that most people know about Barack Obama is his own rhetoric and that of his critics. Moreover, some of his more irresponsible critics have made wild accusations— that he is not an American citizen or that he is a Muslim, for example.
All that such false charges do is discredit Obama’s critics in general. Fortunately, there is a documented, factual account of what Barack Obama has actually been doing over the years, as distinguished from what he has been saying during this election campaign, in a new best-selling book.
That book is titled “The Case Against Barack Obama” by David Freddoso. He starts off in the introduction by repudiating those critics of Obama who “have been content merely to slander him— to claim falsely that he refuses to salute the U.S. flag or was sworn into office on a Koran, or that he was born in a foreign country.”
This is a serious book with 35 pages of documentation in the back to support the things said in the main text. In other words, if you don’t believe what the author says, he lets you know where you can go check it out.
Barack Obama’s being the first serious black candidate for President of the United States is what most people consider remarkable but how he got there is at least equally surprising.
The story of Obama’s political career is not a pretty story. He won his first political victory by being the only candidate on the ballot— after hiring someone skilled at disqualifying the signers of opposing candidates’ petitions, on whatever technicality he could come up with.
Despite his words today about “change” and “cleaning up the mess in Washington,” Obama was not on the side of reformers who were trying to change the status quo of corrupt, machine politics in Chicago and clean up the mess there. Obama came out in favor of the Daley machine and against reform candidates.
Senator Obama is running on an image that is directly the opposite of what he has been doing for two decades. His escapes from his past have been as remarkable as the great escapes of Houdini.
Why much of the public and the media have been so mesmerized by the words and the image of Obama, and so little interested in learning about the factual reality, was perhaps best explained by an official of the Democratic Party: “People don’t come to Obama for what he’s done, they come because of what they hope he can be.” David Freddoso’s book should be read by those people who want to know what the facts are. But neither this book nor anything else is likely to change the minds of Obama’s true believers, who have made up their minds and don’t want to be confused by the facts.
Jewish World Review Oct. 8, 2008 / 9 Tishrei 5769
The Real Obama, Part II
By Thomas Sowell
A recent Republican campaign ad sarcastically described as Barack Obama’s “one accomplishment” his supporting a bill to promote sex education in kindergarten.
During an interview of a Republican spokesman, Tom Brokaw of NBC News replayed that ad and asked if that was something serious to be discussed in a presidential election campaign.
It was a variation on an old theme about getting back to “the real issues,” just as Brokaw’s question was a variation on an increasingly widespread tendency among journalists to become a squad of Obama avengers, instead of reporters.
Does it matter if Barack Obama is for sex education in kindergarten? It matters more than most things that are called “the real issues.”
Seemingly unrelated things can give important insights into someone’s outlook and character. For example, after the Cold War was over, it came out that one of the things that caught the attention of Soviet leaders early on was President Ronald Reagan’s breaking of the air traffic controllers’ strike.
Why were the Soviets concerned about a purely domestic American issue like an air traffic controllers’ strike? Why was their attention not confined to “the real issues” between the United States and the Soviet Union?
Because one of the biggest and realest of all issues is the outlook and character of the President of the United States.
It would be hard to imagine any of Ronald Reagan’s predecessors over the previous several decades — whether Republicans or Democrats — who would have broken a nationwide strike instead of caving in to the union’s demands.
This told the Soviet leaders what Reagan was made of, even before he got up and walked out of the room during negotiations with Mikhail Gorbachev. That too let the Soviet leaders know that they were not dealing with Jimmy Carter any more.
There is no more real issue today than “Who is the real Barack Obama behind the image?” What does being in favor of sex education in kindergarten tell us about the outlook and character of this largely unknown man who has suddenly appeared on the national scene to claim the highest office in the land?
It gives us an insight into the huge gulf between Senator Obama’s election year image and what he has actually been for and against over the preceding decades. It also shows the huge gulf between his values and those of most other Americans.
Many Americans would consider sex education for kindergartners to be absurd but there is more to it than that.
What is called “sex education,” whether for kindergartners or older children, is not education about biology but indoctrination in values that go against the traditional values that children learn in their families and in their communities.
Obviously, the earlier this indoctrination begins, the better its chances of overriding traditional values. The question is not how urgently children in kindergarten need to be taught about sex but how important it is for indoctrinators to get an early start.
The arrogance of third parties, who take it upon themselves to treat other people’s children as a captive audience to brainwash with politically correct notions, while taking no responsibility for the consequences to those children or society, is part of the general vision of the left that pervades our education system.
Sex education for kindergartners is just one of many issues on which Barack Obama has lined up consistently on the side of arrogant elitists of the far left. Senator Obama’s words often sound very reasonable and moderate, as well as lofty and inspiring. But everything that he has actually done over the years places him unmistakably with the extreme left elitists.
Sadly, many of those who are enchanted by his rhetoric are unlikely to check out the facts. But nothing is a more real or more important issue than whether what a candidate says is the direct opposite of what he has actually been doing for years.
The old phrase, “a man of high ideals but no principles,” is one that applies all too painfully to Barack Obama today. His words expressing lofty ideals may appeal to the gullible but his long history of having no principles makes him a danger of the first magnitude in the White House.
Jewish World Review Oct. 9, 2008 / 10 Tishrei 5769
The Real Obama, Part III
By Thomas Sowell
What about those “real issues” that Barack Obama’s supporters in the media say we should get back to, whenever some new unsavory fact about his past comes out?
Surely education is a real issue, with American school children consistently scoring below those in other countries, and children in minority communities faring worst of all.
What about Senator Obama’s position on this real issue? As with other issues, he has talked one way and acted the opposite way.
The education situation in Obama’s home base of Chicago is one of the worst in the nation for the children — and one of the best for the unionized teachers.
Fewer than one-third of Chicago’s high-school juniors meet the statewide standards on tests. Only 6 percent of the youngsters who enter Chicago high schools become college graduates by the time they are 25 years old.
The problem is not money: Chicago spends more than $10,000 per student.
Chicago teachers are doing well. A beginning teacher, fresh out of college, earns more than the city’s median income and that can rise to more than $100,000 over the years.
That’s for teaching 6 hours a day, 9 months of the year. Moreover, a teacher’s income is dependent on seniority and other such factors — and in no way dependent on whether their students are actually learning anything.
Obama has said eloquent and lofty words about education, as he has about other things — for example, how it is “unacceptable in a country as wealthy as ours” that some children “are not getting a decent shot at life” because of the failing schools.
In a predominantly black suburb of Chicago, where the average teacher’s salary is $83,000 and one-fourth of the teachers make more than $100,000, Barack Obama noted that the school day ends at 1:30 PM.
In his book “Dreams from My Father,” Obama said candidly that black teachers and administrators “defend the status quo with the same skill and vigor as their white counterparts of two decades before.”
It is not a question of Obama’s not knowing. He has demonstrated conclusively that he knows what is going on.
But, for all his eloquent words, he has voted consistently for the teachers’ unions and the status quo.
“I owe those unions,” he has said frankly. “When their leaders call, I do my best to call them back right away. I don’t consider this corrupting in any way.“
Only other politicians’ special interests are called “special interests” by Barack Obama, whose world-class ability to rationalize is his most frightening skill.
Even when he verbally endorses the reform idea of merit pay for teachers, he cleverly re-defines merit so that it will be measured by teachers themselves, rather than by “arbitrary tests.” In other words, Obama placates critics of the educational status quo by being for merit pay in words, while making those words meaningless, so as not to offend the teachers’ unions.
The failings of teachers are only part of the disaster of inner city public schools. Disruptive and violent students can make it impossible for even the best teachers to educate students.
Administrators are reluctant to impose any serious punishment on those students who make it impossible for other students to learn. Partly this is because liberal judges can make it literally a federal case if more minority students are punished than others.
In other words, if black males are punished more often than Asian American females, that can be enough to get the administrators drawn into a legal labyrinth, costing money and time, even if the punishment is eventually upheld.
When a bill was introduced into the Illinois state legislature that would put more teeth into suspensions of misbehaving students, Barack Obama voted against that bill.
A real reformer would want to crack down on both unruly students and unaccountable teachers. A clever politician would speak eloquently, demand “change” — and then vote for the status quo. Obama talks a great game.
The Real Obama, Part IV
By Thomas Sowell
Barack Obama’s supporters often try to sidestep questions about his character and judgment by saying that we should stick to what they arbitrarily define as “the real issues.” But Senator Obama’s record on specific issues is as bad as his record of repeatedly allying himself over the years with people who make no attempt to hide their hatred of America.
Among the so-called “real issues” are earmarks for Senators’ pet projects, like the “bridge to nowhere.” These are among the most indefensible parts of the inbred Washington political culture, which Obama has so often claimed to be against, as part of his promise of “change” to “clean up the mess in Washington.”
Yet Senator Obama not only voted in favor of the bridge to nowhere, he voted against anti-earmark amendments proposed by Senator John McCain.
Obama has had more than two dozen of his own earmarks in the past fiscal year, and he knows the Senate well enough to know that, if he voted against the bridge to nowhere, his own earmarks might get nowhere.
Those earmarks, incidentally, included a million dollars of the taxpayers’ money for a facility where his wife works at the University of Chicago. Her salary rose by nearly $200,000 when her husband became a United States Senator — no doubt a shrewd investment by the university that paid off.
When a highly publicized bridge collapse in Minnesota in 2007 led Senator Tom Coburn to propose taking money from federal spending on bicycle paths and use it for maintaining and repairing bridges instead, Senator Obama voted against it. The kind of people who vote for him want bike paths.
Moreover, the very idea of taking money from one thing to use for something with a higher priority — something that we all have to do in our own personal lives — is foreign to the liberal big spenders in Washington.
When they want more money for some purpose, they simply raise the tax rates. They don’t cut spending somewhere else.
The idea that Barack Obama is somehow different from other liberal-left politicians can only be based on his rhetoric, because his actual track record shows him to differ only in being further left than most liberals and at least as opportunistic.
His talk, however, is another story. The speech that Obama gave at the 2004 Democratic convention — the speech that put him on the national map politically — was one which has been aptly described as a speech that would have been almost equally at home if it had been delivered at the Republican national convention.
In the world of rhetoric — the world in which Obama is supreme — he is a moderate, reasonable man, reaching out to unite people and parties, dedicated to reform, opposed to special interests and a healer of the racial divide.
It is only in the real world of action that Barack Obama is the direct opposite. He has pushed for federal subsidies for ethanol, for example, as other midwestern Senators have, since a lot of corn is grown in the midwest to be turned into ethanol.
He is 100 percent behind the teachers’ unions in their fight to preserve their grip on the public schools and exempt their members from being judged by performance instead of seniority — which is to say, he is throwing the students, and especially minority students — to the wolves.
Senator Obama would never call voting for ethanol subsidies a vote for “special interests,” any more than he called his total support of the teachers unions a matter of special interests, even though teachers unions are the biggest obstacle to changing the status quo in public schools that have failed American children in general and minority children in particular.
Barack Obama’s track record on so-called “real issues” is no better than his track record on issues of character and judgment. The media’s track record of conveying the facts to the public is a travesty of their claims about “the public’s right to know.”
If John McCain had made half as many gaffes as Barack Obama — “all 57 states,” for example — they would be picturing him as senile. Meanwhile, the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran supplying its terrorist surrogates with nukes does not interest the media nearly as much as scoring “gotchas” against Sarah Palin.