Monday, July 07, 2008

Obama Vs. The Naderites? Naderists?

I'm pay my dues u keep the difference
I can see the end and the beginnning
So I'm not racing I'm just sprintin
Cause I don't wanna finish
They diminish I replenish
--Lil Wayne
I was asked to review an article and offer an opinion on what I thought, so instead of giving a two sentence answer, I decided to fisk the article and see what happens...

It's a bit of a dog's breakfast in terms of its attacks on Obama but I guess if you're down with the Nader this may make sense in a way....

Here we go...the article is here..
Choice in November - Nader v. Twiddle Dee or Twiddle Dum

by Stephen Lendman

Each election cycle, hope springs eternal. Candidates promise change and voters buy it. Intelligent ones. People who know better or should. The current campaign highlights it. A surge is building for Obama, not for what he is. For what people think or hope he is - a populist, progressive, man of the people, a new course for America.

After the final June 3 primaries and "rush of superdelegates," according to The New York Times, they're stuck with him. The Times reports that he crossed "over the threshold (to) the 2118 delegates needed to be nominated...." Obama marked the occasion as his chance to "bring a new and better day to America (as) the 'Democratic' nominee for president of the United States of America."

It's not how John Pilger sees him. In a recent article, he calls him America's "great liberal hope." He compares his campaign to Bobby Kennedy's in 1968 and says: "Both offer a false hope that they can bring peace and racial harmony to all Americans." Kennedy spoke of "return(ing) government to the people" and giving "dignity and justice" to the oppressed. "Obama is his echo" with familiar promises of change, charting a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and "ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists."
Bobby Kennedy never had an opportunity to actually lead and neither has Obama, so it's a moot and irrelevant point on both counts. I will say this for Bobby Kennedy regarding racial harmony - On the night Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, Kennedy addressed a largely black crowd in Detroit. His words regarding the tragedy and need for reconciliation were credited in keeping the town relatively peaceful while the rest of the country was burning in the midst of widespread rioting.
He claims to be an up from the grassroots activist. In fact, he cashed in on opportunism all the way - to the Illinois Senate in 1996. Then after failing to win a US House seat, it was up a notch to the Senate in 2005 after his November 2004 election. He promised hope but delivered betrayal. He's beholden to power and doesn't relate well to ordinary constituents who backed him, including his black community base.
This appears to leave out the fact that Obama was from South Chicago, and was the editor of the Harvard Law Review. He gave up numerous Wall Street jobs to go back to his home community and become an organizer. I'm not sure how this adds up to being opportunistic. The fact that this wasn't addressed right off the bat is not a good sign.

If he's nominated and wins in November, Marc Crispin Miller's "Fooled Again" will apply but in this case to promises made, then broken. Miller's book refers to the stolen 2004 presidential election. Kerry won big, Bush remained president, Kerry admitted to the author he knew he'd been had, then disavowed he ever said it in reverse "profile of courage" fashion.

An Obama victory will go Lincoln one better. It'll prove that the electorate can be fooled "all of the time" - at least enough of them to matter. And that leaves out election fraud in an age when:

-- candidates are pre-selected;

-- big money owns them;

-- independents are shut out;

-- the media ignore them;

-- they keep people uninformed;

-- issues aren't addressed;

-- voter disenfranchisement is rife;

-- machines do our voting;

-- losers are declared winners; and
Where to start here? The 2004 election was stolen? Bush won by over 3M votes. I may not have agreed with that choice, but it was pretty clear. You could say the 2000 election was stolen, but every subsequent Florida recount showed Bush won, but it's legitimate to say so, I suppose.

I guess if the process is illegitimate (ie: machines do our voting?), then the author is suggesting...what? Revolution? Overthrow of the government? Not exactly legitimate "direct action". Of course, he's advocating Nader, but if the machines are voting (wtf?) then who cares?

It's democracy American-style, a long-standing tradition, and Chicagoans know it well. They remember an earlier mayor urging people to "vote early and often." They also recall the pol who "want(ed) to be buried in Chicago (when he died) so (he could) stay active in politics."

In an age of technological wonders, why not. The Democrat machine is so entrenched, it hasn't had real opposition since Republican mayor "Big Bill" Thompson lost to Democrat Anton Cermak in 1931. And the Daleys (father and son) practically own the office it's controlled for 40 of the last 53 years with no visible contender in sight and a new generation upcoming.

On the national level, it's just as bad - a one party state according to Gore Vidal: the Property or Monied Party with two wings. Ralph Nader calls them a "two-party (twiddle dee v. twiddle dum) dictatorship." So do others, yet most people buy the rhetoric and ignore the evidence. The criminal class in Washington is bipartisan. Democrats are interchangeable with Republicans. Differences between them are minor. Not a dime's worth to matter. Whoever wins in November, the outcome is certain. Voters again will lose. They'll get the best democracy money can buy but none of it earmarked for them.
So why vote? If voting doesn't matter, then who cares? If you think nothing will change, then why bother voting for Nader since the outcome is predetermined anyway?

The discussion of corrupt Chicago voting practices and Obama is more than a little disturbing, although I'm surprised he doesn't bring up the 1960 voting debacle. The implication that Obama's ascedency may be based on fraudulent voting practices simply because he hails from Chicago is ridiculous to say the least. It's guilt by geography and piss poor journalism.

Wars of aggression won't end. Repressive laws won't be repealed. Corruption will stay deeply embedded. Privatizing everything will be de rigueur. Monied interests will be hugely rewarded. Militarizing and annexing the continent will go forward. Voter interests will go largely unaddressed. And promises made will again prove empty. Here's a sampling from the Nader-Gonzales '08 web site. It mentions "Twelve Issues that Matter for 2008," where the candidates stand on them, and Nader, Obama/Clinton and McCain columns showing "on" or "off" the table:
Obama is campaigning on ending the war and ending the practices of taking PAC money. He doesn't take lobbyist money and has insisted that the DNC do similarly. This is massive, and this author does not address this key piece of electoral progress.

Does he realize that Obama is advocating massive reallignment of spending from military to domestic programs?

-- National health insurance: Nader on; the others off; Nader favors a single-payer, government-funded, "private delivery, free choice of hospital and doctor, public insurance system;" the need is critical at a time health care costs are soaring; many can't afford them; millions are uninsured; millions more underinsured; and Democrats and Republicans are dismissive and beholden to providers that fund them;
Off? On? Obama is advocating low cost premiums for universal healthcare. The idea is to make healthcare affordable. When some of my family moved to Texas for a while, the single biggest cost they had was health care premiums. Now reducing the premiums paid may not be the end all be all solution for Nader, but in the short to medium term it's a pragmatic step that could easily be taken with some initiative by the White House.

-- Wasteful military spending: Nader on; the others off; America spends more on defense and security than all other nations combined - a conservatively estimated annual $1.1 trillion with all military, homeland security, veterans, NASA, debt service and miscellaneous related allocations included at a time the country has no visible enemies; it threatens world security and the nation by heading it for fiscal insolvency or worse;

-- No to nuclear power and yes to solar: Nader on; the others off; Nader opposes Big Oil subsidies and ones for nuclear, electric, coal mining and biofuel interests; he advocates a sustainable energy policy that includes renewables like wind and solar;

-- Corporate crime and welfare: Nader on; the others off; the issue - hundreds of billions to corporate coffers; taxpayers fund them; hundreds of thousands "injured and sickened each year by preventable corporate-bred violence;" unsafe products; medical negligence; harmful pollution; public corruption and financial fraud; politicians ignore it; so will the three leading contenders; ordinary people are acutely affected;
You don't really need to exaggerate the 600B/year on military spending to make it a large sum, but this guy almost doubles it.

At this point, the article is becoming a bit tedious. The main problem with discussing a non-player like Nader and comparing him to Obama can be summarized briefly: Nader will never have to come up with a workable platform, whereas Obama will. It's like talking about libertarianism vs. a mixed economy state. The mixed economy is not perfect, and there a bunch of problems that we all work around and stumble upon, but basically its workable, whereas libertarianism, with no working model to discuss, exists in an academic sense as some far off utopia.

This is the Nader dream.

Without Nader being even close to power, it becomes a battle of working solutions on Obama's part with the utopian and perfect progressive positions espoused by Nader.

He preaches change but supports the status quo. He's beholden to power as a stealth DLC member that's essential for any Democrat aspirant. It makes him gallingly disingenuous, deceitful to voters, and "safe" for corporate supporters who back him. He says individual donors supply most of his funding, that he gets none of it from lobbyists, and that they won't crowd out working Americans if he's elected.

In fact, big money owns him. He raises over $1 million a day. Wall Street lords love him. So do corporate law firms; other finance, insurance and real estate interests; the health industry; communications and electronics firms; various other businesses; and the Center for Responsive Politics reports that his top five donors are corporate lobbyists - the same ones he claims to take no money from.
I couldn't find anything to substantiate this claim that his five biggest donors are lobbyists, especially since personal donations are capped at $2,300. The "big money" Obama receives is mostly small donors, which are 90% of his contributors, making donations of $200 or less. Yes, lawyers and finance professionals are a big chunk of this total, but his support is wide and deep in terms of donors, so he's hardly beholden to any one industry. The health industry professionals are not even on the radar.
He preaches opposition to NAFTA and wants it renegotiated. It's a "charade" says Nader. "There's no way he'll touch NAFTA or WTO." His health care plan puts insurance companies in charge and lets Big Pharma price-gouge consumers. He's beholden to corporate interests. "If he wins, his appointments will give "lobbies and PACs (what they) want." He knows how Washington works; was fully briefed to be sure; and he "made his peace with that." He's a political animal like the others. Big money is comforted, and why not. No one gets top Washington jobs unless they're "safe." For president, it's practically a blood oath, and Obama qualifies.
Most of this is paragraph is baseless speculation and smears. How does he say he's beholden? His donor base is not based in Big Pharma, and he doesn't take money from lobbyists for his campaigns (nevermind what the author says previously).

Yes, it's not just top jobs in Washington that require "safety". No one wants the top dog of any organization to be a lunatic, and the US president is no exception.

Most of the remainder of the article is filled with basic fact checking and other basic errors. The most glaring being that Obama....
-- acted so much like Republicans, he's one of them on most issues:
which is funny, because earlier the author said
He's party line all the way
Partly line towed being....Democrat. So which is it? He's a standard liberal Democrat or a Republican? The author doesn't know and doesn't make a good argument for either position, but both smears seem convenient at different points, so why not state both?

It reminds me of a line from the Simpsons, where Ranier Wolfcastle exclaims "Oh no! Communist Nazis! The worst kind!"

It gets worse. Obama apparently...
-- caved to Israeli Lobby pressure; receptive to attacking Iran, removing Hugo Chavez, but says he'll talk to them first; then maybe not; he's double standard on most issues - rhetoric to voters; assurances to backers
Gramatically, this is a horribly constructed little "paragraph", but I guess it will have to do.

Obama has been pro-Israel on many fronts, including his position to keep Jerusalem "undivided", but that comes from a long standing relationship with the Jewish community in Chicago and deep reflection of the issues. Personally, I think the Palestinians should have Jerusalem as their capital of the new Palestine state, but that's besides the point. Obama also supports engagement with Iran, which hardly in the "Zionist approved play book".

Is this "double standard", as the author phrases it? I think it's called "nuance". These positions are hardly mutually exclusive.

The article ends off with a flourish of positive points regarding Nader, while attacking Obama:
This is the same JFK/RFK incarnate, a fresh new face, the "great liberal hope," the smooth-talking campaigner who understands who butters his bread. The same goes for Clinton and McCain. Never for Nader, and it's why he's disdained. He's beholden to people, not entrenched interests; the rarest of political candidates - an anti-politician who says what he means and means what he says and has lifetime achievements to prove it.

This paragraph is barely English.

Clinton and McCain are also JFK/RFK incarnate? I know what he's trying to say but this is awful. He's trying to say they are also "smooth talking" and "understand who butters [their] bread", so I suppose this is the first time McCain has been called "smooth talking". So what does it mean for Nader? He doesn't undersand who butters his bread? This is why he's disdained?

Nader is disdained because he sapped votes from Gore in a tight election in 2000. He can argue away and use semantics and say all the BS he wants about how bad the political system is, and how he didn't take any votes was but there it is: He is a left-wing candidate who could not work within the Democratic tent because of ego and made a conscious effort to sabotage the Democrats chances in 2000 and 2004. He knew that he crowded the left wing end of the market for votes, and took votes away that would otherwise have gone to Gore.


Bottom line: This is a very poorly written article and grounded in mostly smears and Nader talking points. There are some very good criticisms of Obama that have been written, and some that are in the pipe as he makes his run to the centre of the US political spectrum, but this isn't one of them.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the response. I'm not a Nader fan per se, but I do support all those who openly stand up against Big Business and corruption in the government. Either Obama is pulling one over on all his corporate donors, or he is just another politician willing to sell out the people.

I would suggest:

You don't really think that Nader sabotaged the election do you? Are we supporting the two-party monopoly which prevents any genuine candidate from having a fair shot? Also, there are studies which show Bush won in '00, but there are others that don't. Either way, the election was fraudulent, as was '04, and as '08 will be.


Shamrocks! said...


Under US campaign finance laws, corporations are not able to directly finance a campaign, but they can give to a political action committee. These donations are signficantly limited in value. see:

Again, because of the vast number of individual contributors to Obama's campaign (1.5M), it would be hard to say that he would taylor policy based on one group or another. Also, he has the support of all the major unions, which would hamper any pro-business bias may naturally be inclined to have.

At this stage, other than hiring guys from the University of Chicago as economic advisors (and even the guys he hired are pro-public spending(!)), it's hard to see any obvious, specific preference for big business interests over other interests. The support for medical insurance regulation would screw over big business, as would the huge increase on taxes on the wealthiest 1% of the electorate.

I won't get into the election stealing deal, because we could be here all day..but as far as Nader sabotaging the Democratic effort, I would have to say....Well..Yes.

"Sabotage" implies intent which is would be pretty ridiculous to prove, but the people who knew him best seem to have come to a consensus: