Are Democratic Socialist Ideas Leading America Toward Communism?

July 31, 2008

This Modern Age has recently responded to one of my blog posts (Barack Obama and the New World Order) with an incredibly insightful (and, perhaps, inciting) link.

For those who have yet to follow the link, it is the forward to the book, “Letter to My Children” by Whittaker Chambers, who was a chief witness in the Alger Hiss Trial during the House un-American Activities Committee hearings in 1948. It was the trial that ultimately gave a huge boost to Richard Nixon’s political career.

The Chambers book is also what, according to the former President, led to Ronald Reagan’s transformation from a New Deal Democrat to a conservative Republican. Reagan said Chambers sparked “the counterrevolution of the intellectuals” and that Chambers’s story “represents a generation’s disenchantment with statism and its return to eternal truths and fundamental values.”  On March 26, 1984, Whittaker Chambers posthumously received from President Reagan the nation’s highest honor, the Medal of Freedom.

Everyone should, at the very least, read the forward to the book that This Modern Age has provided. Chambers, a former communist-turned-Quaker, provides terrific insight into what it really means to be a Communist in the forward. Many of the proposals that are part of Barack Obama’s politicaI platform are Socialist at best and Communist at worst. I wholeheartedly recommend it as required reading for anyone who is unclear about who they should be voting for in the upcoming presidential election. Some of the more thought-provoking quotes are provided, below:

  • “It was that death of the will which Communism, with great cunning, always tries to induce in its victims.”
  • “The crisis of Communism exists to the degree in which it has failed to free the peoples that it rules from God. Nobody knows this better than the Communist Party of the Soviet Union. The crisis of the Western world exists to the degree in which it is indifferent to God. It exists to the degree in which the Western world ‘actually shares Communism’s materialist vision, is so dazzled by the logic of the materialist interpretation of history, politics and economics, that it fails to grasp that, for it, the only possible answer to the Communist challenge: Faith in God or Faith in Man? is the challenge: Faith in God.”
  • “A Communist breaks because he must choose at last between irreconcilable opposites-God or Man, Soul or Mind, Freedom or Communism….”
  • “Religion and freedom are indivisible. Without freedom the soul dies. Without the soul there is no justification for freedom.”
  • “That is why Communism is the central experience of the first half of the 20th century, and may be its final experience-will be, unless the free world, in the agony of its struggle with Communism, overcomes its crisis by discovering, in suffering and pain, a power of faith which will provide man’s mind, at the same intensity, with the same two certainties: a reason to live and a reason to die. If it fails, this will be the century of the great social wars. If it succeeds, this will be the century of the great wars of faith….”
  • “Copernicus and his successors displaced man as the central fact of the universe by proving that the earth was not the central star of the universe. Communism restores man to his sovereignty by the simple method of denying God….”
  • “The Communist vision is the vision of Man without God.”
  • “The revolutionary heart of Communism is not the theatrical appeal: ‘Workers of the world, unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains. You have a world to gain.’ It is a simple statement of Karl Marx, further simplified for handy use: ‘Philosophers have explained the world; it is necessary to change the world.'”
  • “The world has reached that turning point by the steep stages of a crisis mounting for generations. The turning point is the next to the last step. It was reached in blood, sweat, tears, havoc and death in World War II. The chief fruit of the First World War was the Russian Revolution and the rise of Communism as a national power. The chief fruit of the Second World War was our arrival at the next to the last step of the crisis with the rise of Communism as a world power. History is likely to say that these were the only decisive results of the world wars. The last war simplified the balance of political forces in the world by reducing them to two. For the first time, it made the power of the Communist sector of mankind (embodied in the Soviet Union) roughly equal to the power of the free sector of mankind (embodied in the United States). It made the collision of these powers all but inevitable. For the world wars did not end the crisis. They raised its tensions to a new pitch. They raised the crisis to a new stage. All the politics of our time, including the politics of war, will be the politics of this crisis. Few men are so dull that they do not know that the crisis exists and that it threatens their lives at every point. It is popular to call it a social crisis. It is in fact a total crisis-religious, moral, intellectual, social, political, economic. It is popular to call it a crisis of the Western world. It is in fact a crisis of the whole world. Communism, which claims to be a solution of the crisis, is itself a symptom and an irritant of the crisis.”
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Barack Obama – Searching his Website for CHANGE: Energy and the Environment (Part 6 of 28)

July 28, 2008
Don't count on Obama to do anything about the ever-increasing price of gas, electricity or heating oil.

Don't count on Barack Obama to do anything about the ever-increasing price of gas, electricity or heating oil.

In the latest poll conducted by NBC News in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal, registered voters nationwide were asked what issues were their top priorities in considering their vote in the upcoming presidential election. The top issues were the economy and gas prices. With so much of our economy dependent upon the price of gasoline, Americans are finding that they are getting hit from every side as prices have increased dramatically for fuel, food, electricity, heating oil and a wide variety of goods and services that have had price increases associated with the price of gas.

Barack Obama’s website addresses the issue of Energy and the Environment with the following quote by Barack Obama, made in a speech in Des Moines Iowa in October, 2007:

“Well, I don’t believe that climate change is just an issue that’s convenient to bring up during a campaign. I believe it’s one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation. That’s why I’ve fought successfully in the Senate to increase our investment in renewable fuels. That’s why I reached across the aisle to come up with a plan to raise our fuel standards… And I didn’t just give a speech about it in front of some environmental audience in California. I went to Detroit, I stood in front of a group of automakers, and I told them that when I am president, there will be no more excuses — we will help them retool their factories, but they will have to make cars that use less oil.”

In a recent FoxNews poll, 76% of Americans support more drilling for oil in America. 53% of Americans support drilling in a small area of the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and support also has risen for drilling in the Gulf of Mexico – 77%. Nuclear power is making a resurgence in popularity as well. Americans favor building more nuclear power plants by a margin of 51% to 41%. Unfortunately, voters will not find answers that they like, when it comes to Barack Obama’s plan for ever-increasing energy prices. Obama’s plans do nothing about the burdens being felt by the American public. Instead his entire Energy plan focuses more on the Environment.

The Problem:

As Barack Obama sees it, there is a twofold problem in the United States as far as energy is concerned. First, America’s 20-million-barrel-a-day oil habit costs our economy $1.4 billion a day. Second, “glaciers are melting faster, the polar ice caps are shrinking, trees are blooming earlier, more people are dying in heat waves, species are migrating, and eventually many will become extinct” because of climate change. [Unfortunately, so many Americans have bought into the global warming hoax and feel that they are responsible for it, that Republicans have given up the fight and are pretending to go along with the Democrats on the climate change issue. A few facts need to be presented here, however. Ice between Canada and NW Greenland are at its highest levels in fifteen years, Anchorage Alaska may be experiencing its coldest summer ever and snowfall and ice sheets appear to be increasing in Antarctica at this very moment.]

The Solution:

Don’t look for anything that is going to help you now, America. All of Obama’s plans for energy deal with the environment and offer no immediate relief. In fact none of his plans will come to fruition during his Presidency – even if he serves two terms! What advances in energy technology that may occur during his stay in office, all are results of technology that has already been invented or is in the final stages of testing (electric cars, for instance). Nonetheless, let’s take a look at what Barack Obama plans to do about Energy and the Environment:

Reduce Carbon Emissions 80 Percent by 2050

Cap and Trade: Obama’s cap and trade plan involves the auctioning of pollution credits. “A 100 percent auction ensures that all polluters pay for every ton of emissions they release, rather than giving these emission rights away to coal and oil companies.” Obama goes on to state that some of the revenue generated by auctioning allowances will be used to “support the development of clean energy, to invest in energy efficiency improvements, and to address transition costs, including helping American workers affected by this economic transition.” [Notice that Obama says that only “some” of the money from these auctions will go towards clean energy development, etc. It may be only a very small percentage, for all we know. After looking at other aspects of Obama’s plan, it’s easy to see where the rest of the money is going to go. Power companies and oil companies aren’t non-profit entities; they have American stock holders to answer to. The thing that John and Jane Q. Public really needs to grasp from this, is that Obama’s cap and trade policy will further increase the price that we pay for his gas, electricity and heating oil. ]

Confront Deforestation and Promote Carbon Sequestration: Obama plans to reward forest owners, farmers, and ranchers for planting trees, restoring grasslands, or undertaking farming practices that “capture carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.” {Of course, if Barack Obama has his way, there will be far less carbon dioxide in the environment for plants to capture. His plan should actually call for the opposite, since with less carbon and, therefore, less carbon dioxide, the plants will all die anyway.]

Invest in a Clean Energy Future

I’ll have to condense this section, since it is so repetitive. The basic concept is that Barack Obama wants to:

Invest $150 Billion over 10 Years in Clean Energy: This includes investing in “the next generation of biofuels,” accelerating the manufacturing of plug-in hybrids, investing in low-emissions coal plants and clean coal technology, as well as “beginning the transition to a new digital electricity grid.” He goes on to state that “a principal focus of this fund will be devoted to ensuring that technologies that are developed in the U.S. are rapidly commercialized in the U.S. and deployed around the globe.” [Sorry, I have to slam on the brakes here. Obama is so full of himself, that he believes he will be dictating energy policy for the entire world. Are you listening China? I can hardly wait for Obama to claim credit for the already-invented clean coal technolgy a la Al Gore and the Internet.]

Convert our Manufacturing Centers into Clean Technology Leaders: Obama says he “will establish a federal investment program to help manufacturing centers modernize and Americans learn the new skills they need to produce green products.” [Big Government, meet Big Business. This is where things get even scarier. When did the federal government attain the right to invade manufacturing plants and dictate their processes?]

Require 25 Percent of Renewable Electricity by 2025: Obama says he will “establish a 25 percent federal Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to require that 25 percent of electricity consumed in the U.S. is derived from clean, sustainable energy sources, like solar, wind and geothermal by 2025.” [Like he does elsewhere in his policies, Obama somehow believes that he can usurp individual cities’ and states’ rights to set policies for the utility companies operating within their borders. One can only wonder when Obama is going to mandate what people can do in their own homes as well!]

Support Next Generation Biofuels

[In a change of form, I’m going to comment on this section before it is revealed. There is nothing to suggest that biofuels are the answer to our future energy needs at this point. In addition to the increase in the cost of gasoline, the fact that so much of our nation’s corn supply is being devoted to biofuels has left a shortage of grains necessary for the feeding of livestock and has contributed to the higher prices that consumers are seeing in the grocery stores. Most importantly, studies show that in order to manufacture biofuels, one must burn more fossil fuel than the amount of biofuel that is created. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that if it takes three gallons of gasoline to make two gallons of ethanol, you have only made the problem worse. This has got to be the dumbest thing our government has ever invested in! Nevertheless, I will present Obama’s brilliant plan on biofuels verbatim:

Deploy Cellulosic Ethanol: Obama will invest federal resources, including tax incentives, cash prizes and government contracts into developing the most promising technologies with the goal of getting the first two billion gallons of cellulosic ethanol into the system by 2013.

Expand Locally-Owned Biofuel Refineries: Less than 10 percent of new ethanol production today is from farmer-owned refineries. New ethanol refineries help jumpstart rural economies. Obama will create a number of incentives for local communities to invest in their biofuels refineries.

Establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard: Barack Obama will establish a National Low Carbon Fuel Standard to speed the introduction of low-carbon non-petroleum fuels. The standard requires fuels suppliers to reduce the carbon their fuel emits by ten percent by 2020.

Increase Renewable Fuel Standard: Obama will require 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels to be included in the fuel supply by 2022 and will increase that to at least 60 billion gallons of advanced biofuels like cellulosic ethanol by 2030.

Set America on Path to Oil Independence

Increase Fuel Economy Standards: Obama says he will double fuel economy standards within 18 years. His plan will provide “retooling tax credits and loan guarantees for domestic auto plants and parts manufacturers, so that they can build new fuel-efficient cars. He also states that he will “reduce oil consumption by at least 35 percent, or 10 million barrels per day, by 2030, which “will more than offset the equivalent of the oil we would import from OPEC nations in 2030.” [For a supposedly “brilliant” man, Obama sure sucks at math. At the beginning of the web page he states that America has a 20-million-gallon-a-day oil habit. 35% of 20 million is 7 million, not 10 million. That means that we will still be consuming 13 million barrels of oil per day. You would have thought at least one of his advisors would have caught that simple math error. Also, since he has no plans of increasing oil production in the United States, and we currently produce just over 5 million barrels of oil domestically, that leaves a shortfall of 8 million barrels per day. Although he speculates that we will not have to purchase any oil from OPEC nations, we will still have to get it from other countries, making us hardly “oil independent.”]

Improve Energy Efficiency 50 Percent by 2030

Set National Building Efficiency Goals: Barack Obama states that he will “establish a goal of making all new buildings carbon neutral, or produce zero emissions, by 2030” and that he’ll “establish a national goal of improving new building efficiency by 50 percent and existing building efficiency by 25 percent over the next decade to help us meet the 2030 goal.” [There’s that “goal” word that we have heard in many other issues. The fact is, I would much rather hear that he is setting goals, rather than establishing mandates. This is actually one aspect of his plan that I not only agree with, but one that is actually attainable. It’s interesting that he has worded this as a goal while the impossible parts of his plan are worded as mandates.]

Establish a Grant Program for Early Adopters: Obama will create a competitive grant program to award those states and localities that take the first steps to implement new building codes that prioritize energy efficiency. {Yippee, a contest! Everybody loves a contest even if we have to pay for our own prizes.]

Restore U.S. Leadership on Climate Change

Create New Forum of Largest Greenhouse Gas Emitters: Obama plans to create a “Global Energy Forum” that will include all G-8 members plus Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa. The forum would “focus exclusively on global energy and environmental issues.” [He might as well say that he will be forming a debate team. This consortium is sure to be even more ineffective than even the U.N. is. Really, does anyone believe that China and India are suddenly going to jump on the environmentally responsible bandwagon?]

Re-Engage with the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change: According to Obama, “the UNFCCC process is the main international forum dedicated to addressing the climate problem” and his administration will “work constructively within it.” [Wasn’t the point of this section to “restore leadership?” First, it is inaccurately arrogant to believe that the U.S. was ever leading the world on the climate change issue. Secondly, working with the U.N and being a leader are mutually exclusive concepts and putting them together is an oxymoron. This part of the socialist New World Order agenda that Barack Obama seems to advocate.]

While Barack Obama’s policy for Defense was frightening, his policies on energy and the environment are just plain idiotic. Nowhere in Obama’s plan is there anything that will eliminate our dependence on foreign oil or lower current skyrocketing energy costs. In fact, his plans will surely cause dramatic increases in the price that Americans pay for their energy needs. He will make the birds, animals, flowers and trees happier, however, and isn’t that really what is important to those who are struggling to pay their bills right now? The sad fact is that so many people in America are even more stupid than his energy policies and are actually buying into this nonsense.

Next up in the Barack Obama Website Series will be his position on Ethics. I can hardly wait to see the hypocracy on this one!


Barack Obama – Searching his Website for CHANGE: The Defense Issue (Part 5 of 28)

July 27, 2008
Obama offers his version of a "salute" to the American Flag.

Barack Obama: the future Commander in Chief?

The Defense portion of Barack Obama’s website has changed substantially in the past week along with his position on Iraq. Barack Obama has recently removed the section where he called the surge a failure, although Obama still refuses to admit that it was a success. I don’t understand how Obama can deny the success of the surge in Iraq on one hand and then on the other, suggest that deploying more troops in Afghanistan will lead to success.

My biggest fear right now is that I will have to go back and rewrite the entire Barack Obama Website Series if he keeps changing his positions to go along with public opinion. That said, lets move on and take a look at the Defense Issue section of his website.

Obama begins the Defense page with the following quote from a statement he made at the Chicago Foreign Affairs Council on April 23, 2007: “Our country’s greatest military asset is the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States. When we do send our men and women into harm’s way, we must also clearly define the mission, prescribe concrete political and military objectives, seek out advice of our military commanders, evaluate the intelligence, plan accordingly, and ensure that our troops have the resources, support, and equipment they need to protect themselves and fulfill their mission.” [I have to stop right here. Obama has already set forth his withdrawal of troops plan for Iraq before even talking to the military commanders. He also recently voted against additional funding for the troops in the U.S. Senate. These are apparently just words that have no meaning to him. Additionally, according to his own words, the military would only be sent after all political solutions have been exhausted. Why then would our military mission need to have political objectives associated with their mission?]

The Problem

There are five main problems with our country’s military, as Barack Obama sees it. First, our national security remains the same “rigid bureacracy” that it was in the 1940’s, “relying upon a restrictive and disconnected set of legal authorities.” Second, a new Commander in Chief is needed; one with the right combination of “judgment, vision, and leadership for the 21st century.” Barack Obama thinks he is that man. Third, our military is being stretched too thin, serving in more places than they have the soldiers and resources for. Fourth, our military is having a difficult time recruiting and retaining soldiers. And, fifth, our country is not taking care of our wounded soldiers and veterans.

The Solution:

The solutions to some of these problems are a mixed bag. Barack Obama does a tricky political dance where he sounds like a strong Right-wing advocate on some points and a weak Socialist on others. I really believe that Obama has no intention of doing most of the things outlined as his solutions. Nonetheless, I will present the solutions and let you decide for yourselves. I have omitted a few of the solutions that are redundant in the interest of trying to trim this review a bit.

Invest in a 21st Century Military

Rebuild the Military for 21st Century Tasks: Obama believes that we must build up our special operations forces, civil affairs, information operations, and “other units and capabilities that remain in chronic short supply.” Furthermore, he states that we need to “invest in foreign language training, cultural awareness, and human intelligence and other needed counterinsurgency and stabilization skill sets.” Finally, he feels that we need to “create a more robust capacity to train, equip, and advise foreign security forces, so that local allies are better prepared to confront mutual threats.” [Twice here, he has used the word ‘other,’ as if he is not sure what our capabilities really are; and, who can blame him? It takes a far more intimate knowledge of the military than Obama has, considering his limited experience in the Senate and the fact that he never served in the military. Also, it is awful presumptuous to assume that our allies want our help training their troops. Countries are generally proud of their military capabilities and may not welcome our help].

Expand to Meet Military Needs on the Ground: Barack Obama plans to increase the size of the Army by 65,000 soldiers and the Marines by 27,000 troops in order to help units retrain and re-equip between deployments. [I must admit, this really through me for a loop. After seeing all of the huge spending proposals that Obama has planned, I only assumed that there would be massive cuts in the military to pay for all of the new programs. Now I really need to know where all of the money is going to come from! Can he really be planning on jacking the taxes up on “the rich families” making $250,000 a year and more by that much?]

Leadership from the Top: Barack Obama believes he will be able to restore the ethic of public service to today’s youth and that he will be able to convince them to serve their local communities as teachers or first responders or serve the country in the military. [Now this is something that the millions of young voters supporting Barack Obama need to hear. This has military draft written all over it. It appears that Obama is so enamored with Europe, that he wants to emulate the policies of many of the countries there that require their youth to serve for a couple of years in the military or in other public service roles. I’d be very interested to see how he plans on getting Congress to stick their necks out on this one!]

Lighten the Burdens on Our Brave Troops and Their Families: Barack Obama wants to “establish predictability in deployments so that active duty and reserves know what they can and must expect.” [No argument here, on that count! I believe every soldier and each soldier’s family should know exactly when to expect them to come home.]

Build Defense Capabilities for the 21st Century

Fully Equip Our Troops for the Missions They Face: Barack Obama believes we must get “vitally needed equipment to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines before lives are lost.” [This is the same Barack Obama who voted against funding for the troops in May of 2007].

Preserve Global Reach in the Air and Maintain Power Projection at Sea: Obama states that we must “preserve our unparalleled airpower capabilities to deter and defeat any conventional competitors, swiftly respond to crises across the globe, and support our ground forces” and that we need to “recapitalize our naval forces, replacing aging ships and modernizing existing platforms  … which provide the backbone of our ability to extend global power.” [Whoa, wait a minute; I don’t recall any of this extending our global power stuff in any of his speeches in Germany or France during the recent Obamamania worldwide tour. I also wonder what the tab for this modernization will be for the American taxpayer. Again, I have to ask, “Where is all this money coming from?”

National Missile Defense: Obama says he will “support missile defense, but ensure that it is developed in a way that is pragmatic and cost-effective; and, most importantly, does not divert resources from other national security priorities until we are positive the technology will protect the American public.” [You’d think that this was Ronald Reagan speaking, here. It should be pointed out that this goes counter to Obama’s position as stated during his world tour that he will work to rid the world of nuclear weapons. Could it be that maybe we can’t really trust the promises that are made by certain governments that they have no nuclear weapons and that we will need to defend ourselves against such lies? I seem to remember similar sentiments leading up to the war in Iraq.]

Ensure Freedom of Space: Barack Obama says he will “restore American leadership on space issues, seeking a worldwide ban on weapons that interfere with military and commercial satellites.” [Using the word “ban” and “freedom” in the same paragraph is a bit of an oxymoron. How the heck does Obama think he’ll get countries of the world to say “Okay, we’ll leave your space stuff alone so that you may continue to dominate the world militarily”?]

Develop Whole of Government Initiatives to Promote Global Stability

Integrate Military and Civilian Efforts: Obama says he will “build up the capacity of each non-Pentagon agency to deploy personnel and area experts where they are needed, to help move soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines out of civilian roles.” [” … and onto the battle field where they belong” is the end of the sentence that is not stated here. This helps the federal government further increase its importance by creating more jobs for Americans and for the American taxpayer to fund.]

Create a Civilian Assistance Corps (CAC): The Obama administration will “set a goal of creating a national CAC of 25,000 personnel … with special skill sets (doctors, lawyers, engineers, city planners, agriculture specialists, police, etc.) [that would] provide each federal agency with a pool of volunteer experts willing to deploy in times of need at home and abroad.” [I can see these people – many of whom are employed in the higher paying jobs – lining up for miles to “volunteer” in this effort. Get real, Obama! Is anyone buying this rubbish?]

Restore Our Alliances

Engage Our Allies in Meeting Our Common Security Challenges: Barack Obama states that America’s traditional alliances, such as NATO, “must be transformed and strengthened, including on common security concerns like Afghanistan, homeland security, and counterterrorism.” Obama claims he will renew alliances and ensure our allies contribute their fair share to our mutual security.” [Sure you will. The people of the United States may blindly follow your empty words and elect you, but getting the world to contribute their money and lives to allied military causes is a pipe dream. Do you hear this, France? Run, run while you can!]

Organize to Help Our Partners and Allies in Need: Barack Obama says he will “expand humanitarian activities that build friends and allies at the regional and local level (such as during the response to the tsunami in South and Southeast Asia), and win hearts and minds in the process.” [We already contribute 95% of World Aid to causes and disasters globally and it has not positively influenced worldwide opinion at all. They want more and will not be happy until we rid ourselves of our comparative excesses and donate everything we have to the New World Order. Jealousy will always cause those from other countries to view the United States with a degree of loathing. Forget the fact that the average working household puts in twice the number of hours per year than our European counterparts do; it’s still just not fair that we have all that we do!]

Reform Contracting

Restore Honesty, Openness, and Commonsense to Contracting and Procurement: Obama says his administration will reduce the “corruption and cost overruns that have become all too routine in defense contracting.” He will launch a program of “acquisition reform and management, … end[ing] the common practice of no-bid contracting.” Obama says he will “end the abuse of supplemental budgets by creating a system of oversight for war funds as stringent as in the regular budget.” [Keep in mind, that Barack Obama has not said that he will veto any bills that contain earmarks like John McCain has said he would do. If Obama is not willing to end the abuse of supplemental budgets for non-military spending, it’s scary to think that he would only do so for military appropriations. Seriously, I doubt that anyone sees a problem with the federal government tightening up its accounting practices to reduce governmental spending, be it for military or non-military needs. I and the rest of America, I contend, further agree that all government contracting should be bid on. It would be interesting to see how he plans to accomplish this, due to the fact that all of his proposals seem to increase governmental bureaucracy, further adding to the nightmare of accountability and oversight.

All in all, it is obvious that the Defense Issue is clearly one of Barack Obama’s weakest areas of expertise. If and when he sits in the chair as Commander and Chief, and is privy to all of the information that only the President and his closest cabinet members are, his tune will surely change. He is all over the place on this issue and one can expect future changes to his website as his political handlers take the nation’s pulse and Obama’s views on these matters are steered in other directions.

Next up in the Barack Obama Website Series is his plan for Energy and the Environment (coming soon to a computer near you). Yippee, I’ve been waiting to get to this one!


Barack Obama – Searching his Website for CHANGE: The Education Issue (Part 4 of 28)

July 13, 2008
Sen. Barack Obama receiving an honorary doctorate from Xavier University in New Orleans

Sen. Barack Obama receiving an honorary doctorate from Xavier University in New Orleans

The Education section of Barack Obama’s website begins with the quote, “I don’t want to send another generation of American children to failing schools. I don’t want that future for my daughters. I don’t want that future for your sons. I do not want that future for America.” Great way to start! I cannot imagine anyone wanting anything but the best in education for American children. I cannot imagine that a man with his financial resources would be sending his daughters to public schools, either. Now that we have the inarguable platitude out of the way, let’s see how Barack Obama plans to create this educational nirvana.

The Problem:

There are five main problems with our education system, according to Barack Obama. First, we are not getting the best teachers because we are not paying them enough. Second, our children are not learning the basics of reading, writing, arithmetic and science, lagging far behind many other countries’ students. Third, far too many children are dropping out of school, particularly African-American and Latino children, compared to white children. Fourth, teacher retention rates are low. And fifth, the cost of a college education is too high and our tax and financial aid system is too complex for students to take advantage of the opportunities that exist for them.

The Solution:

Now, we’ll take a look at how Barack Obama plans on solving these five problems and, just as importantly, how he plans to have Americans pay for it. Believe it or not, I have eliminated some of the points that say nothing for brevity purposes and have tried to concentrate on those areas where Obama actually has a non-generic idea.

Early Childhood Education:

Here, Obama advocates quadrupling the size (and funding) of Early Head Start and increasing federal funding for Head Start as well as local community 0-5 programs. Additionally, Barack Obama says he will provide affordable high quality childcare to working families. [As usual, there is absolutely no mention made of where all of the additional money is going to come from for these programs, let alone specifics on how he will manage to provide low cost, quality childcare. The two concepts tend to be mutually exclusive. We have all learned that you get what you pay for in life.]

K-12:

Reform No Child Left Behind: While Barack Obama praises George W. Bush’s concept of No Child Left Behind, he criticizes the program for its emphasis on standardized tests and states that he will create a different set of individualized assessments that will show how prepared a child is for higher education and the workplace. He also believes that schools that are under-performing need to be better supported [funded?], rather than punished, as is the current system of No Child Left Behind. [I must admit, I don’t understand any of this. Standardized tests are criticized by Obama here in favor of a more individualized approach with a different set of standardized individual tests. Huh? I have no idea how the President of the United States is going to micromanage this while taking care of other slightly more pressing matters like National security. I also don’t know how things work in the backward world of education, but in the business world, we are rewarded for accomplishments and demoted or fired when we underachieve. If all schools are funded equally, what makes him think that throwing more money at a sinking ship is going to keep its passengers from drowning. Under-performing schools need to get rid of their under-performing teachers and administrators.]

Make Math and Science Education a National Priority: Obama says he will recruit degreed math and science graduates to the educational field and make sure that all students have access to a strong science curriculum at all grade levels. [Most of the people I went to college with that graduated with degrees in math and science, did so to pursue careers in science or in the highly lucrative financial sector. Obama’s going to have to throw an awful lot of money at these people to get them to switch careers. What makes him think that these people want anything to do with children? I would think that the people who want to be around children (i.e. those with degrees in education) would be better candidates for teaching. One thing that I have observed, however, is that those that have been in the business world for a couple of decades tend to have a desire to pass on their knowledge. Perhaps these people would be better candidates for recruitment.]

Address the Dropout Crisis: Obama will “address the dropout crisis by passing his legislation to provide funding to school districts to invest in intervention strategies in middle school – strategies such as personal academic plans, teaching teams, parent involvement, mentoring, intensive reading and math instruction, and extended learning time.” [This doesn’t address the reasons that students drop out in the first place – reasons that include parental disinterest, drugs, pregnancy and social alienation. Encouraging parental involvement only helps with parents who want or have time to be involved. Intensive reading and math instruction as well as “extended learning time” will cause many of these dropouts to run, not walk away from school.]

Support English Language Learners: Obama supports “transitional bilingual education and will help Limited English Proficient students get ahead by holding schools accountable for making sure these students complete school.” [This is one of my major bones of contention with the Democratic Party. They consistently advocate the segregation of foreign students, creating special bilingual classes for them. This becomes a crutch that impairs their ability to learn English and integrate into society as a whole. Of course, by maintaining this gap, there will always be a group whose rights they can fight for.]

Recruit, Prepare, Retain, and Reward America’s Teachers

Recruit Teachers: Obama says he will create new Teacher Service Scholarships that will cover four years of undergraduate or two years of graduate teacher education, including high-quality alternative programs for mid-career recruits in exchange for teaching for at least four years in a high-need field or location. Again, it’s the same old question – funding, funding, funding. Where is all of this money coming from? I wonder what is going to happen to all of the substandard teachers? I know … they can get jobs in the new, bigger federal government that will oversee all of these CHANGES!]

Prepare Teachers: Obama says he will require all schools of education to be accredited. He will also create a voluntary national performance assessment so we can be sure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom and start teaching effectively. Obama will also create Teacher Residency Programs that will supply 30,000 exceptionally well-prepared recruits to high-need schools. [Okay, for the sake of redundancy, we’ll pretend the Teacher Residency Programs and those in the federal government who will oversee it won’t cost a cent. I do question the paradox of a voluntary national assesment that will ensure that every new educator is trained and ready to walk into the classroom. What if teachers don’t “volunteer” to submit to this test. How will Obama “ensure” that they can “teach effectively?”]

Retain Teachers: Obama plans to  expand mentoring programs that pair experienced teachers with new recruits. [This makes sense to me. The education process should be a team effort and, frankly, I thought this was already in place. Aren’t department heads paid for doing this already? I’m not sure if this addresses the issue at hand here, however. As long as we’re throwing money around, how about providing incentives to department heads for increasing retention rates or, better yet, pay reductions or demotions for subpar retention rates?]

Reward Teachers: Obama wants local school districts to design programs that reward accomplished educators who serve as a mentor to new teachers with a salary increase. He also wants districts to reward teachers who work in under served places like rural areas and inner cities and teachers who consistently excel in the classroom as well. [Bravo! This is how it works in the business world. Paying for performance is what makes capitalism work. Without incentives, we become a society of drones. Also, it is important to keep in mind that these are all things that Obama advocates local school districts doing and that it has nothing to do with the federal government. Hooray, no new taxes here! (except for the teachers who do too good of a job and wind up in the “rich” tax bracket, under Barack Obama’s plan.)]

Higher Education

Create the American Opportunity Tax Credit: Obama wants to create a universal and fully refundable credit (the “American Opportunity Tax Credit”) that will ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is completely free for most Americans, and will cover two-thirds of the cost of tuition at the average public college or university and make community college tuition completely free for most students. Obama will also ensure that the tax credit is available to families at the time of enrollment by using prior years’ tax data to deliver the credit when tuition is due. [Holy crap! Talk about a whopper federal budget; the cost of this program alone has got to be astronomical. Because community colleges will be free, I can only assume that the teachers and administrators will be paid by the federal government. Is this what we really want? Even if we take the gargantuan leap of faith that the federal government could manage such a program, it gives the government the power over curriculum and could lead to the government controlling what information is disseminated to students. Teachers will become pro-government clones and all individuality of thought will be taken out of these progrms of higher learning. And, who are “most” students? Who will be excluded?]

Simplify the Application Process for Financial Aid: Obama will streamline the financial aid process by eliminating the current federal financial aid application and enabling families to apply simply by checking a box on their tax form, authorizing their tax information to be used, and eliminating the need for a separate application. [How the heck does this “streamline” the financial aid process? It does simplify it for applicants but someone in the government surely has to do something after the box is checked. This sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen. What if someone in the federal government misses the check box? It authorizes my tax information to be used by whom? What is the bureaucratic process after the box is checked?]

The burden of how well our education system does is always going to start with parents. Those parents that take an interest in their children’s education and who actively participate in the process will always have children who succeed academically. Those parents who do not value education or do not “have the time” to make sure that their children are doing all that they can in school will have children who do not value education and think it is a waste of time.

This is by far, the largest federal program that I have discussed in the Barack Obama Website Series. Ultimately, Barack Obama’s plan for education misses the boat because of his reluctance (or inability) to explain how he (we) will pay for it all. I shudder to think of what I will run into when I get to his plan for health care. But, let me not look too far ahead. Next up, the Obama plan for Energy & Development.


Barack Obama – Searching his Website for CHANGE: The Economy Issue (Part 3 of 28)

June 29, 2008

Toeing the party line, Barack Obama is a big supporter of UnionsOkay, really, I swear this time I’m going to try to make this shorter. In part 3 of the Barack Obama Website Series, I will take a look at Obama’s plans for CHANGE as it relates to the American economy.

A great deal of this section is repeated in other sections of his website, so I will only offer those points which are not redundant. I will also try to confine myself to the most important aspects of this issue.

The Problem:

The problem, as Barack Obama sees it, is two-fold: First, wages have remained stagnant as prices have risen over the last five years [of course the biggest idiot on the planet could have come to this brilliant conclusion]. Secondly, the wealthiest Americans received undeserving tax cuts that should have gone to middle class Americans. [Everybody knows that the wealthiest Americans don’t actually do anything to earn their money; they just watch the middle class work their butts off and cash in on that labor. None of them has ever worked a day in their lives; none of them has built a company from scratch and made the American Dream come true; they all just had rich parents who gave it to them. Oh yeah … I remember … these are the very people who employ the majority of Americans who are not on the government payroll!]

The Solution:

Barack Obama’s plan to solve the economic crisis is, like his platitudes of HOPE and CHANGE, quite vague. His plan does, however, contain HUGE influxes of federal (taxpayer) money. He oulines it as follows:

Jumpstart The Economy

Provide Additional Tax Rebates to American Workers: Despite the $152 billion economic stimulus package enacted under the Bush Administration, the economy has continued to weaken significantly, according to Barack Obama. He would like to further stimulate the economy by providing immediate tax rebates to American consumers at a total cost of $20 billion. [Keep in mind folks, that this is not “free” money. Americans will have to pay this loan back in the future or face further consequences resulting from a continually weakened dollar.]

Establish a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund: Obama wants to establish a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund that will increase emergency pre-foreclosure counseling and help “responsible” families facing foreclosure to “refinance their mortgages or sell their homes.” His plan is not intended to help speculators, people buying vacation homes or people that falsely represented their incomes. [I can hardly wait to hear how Obama is going to define what a “responsible” homeowner is. Responsible people do not get themselves into these situations in the first place!]

Provide $10 billion in Relief for State and Local Governments Hardest-Hit by the Housing Crisis to Prevent Cuts in Vital Services: Barack Obama believes that in the areas hardest-hit by the “housing crisis,” we should provide immediate, temporary funding in the form of $10 billion to state and local governments so that the decline in property values does not cause them to slash critical public services and cut vital infrastructure spending. [This does not address the real problem, here. State and local governments in these areas saw a huge influx of money in the past two years as real estate taxes grew along with the prices of homes. Rather than placing that increased money in special emergency funds or investing it, these governments blew the money on pork barrel projects. Now that home values are making a downturn, the state and local governments are whining about their loss of revenue. There has been no real loss of revenue, as housing prices have returned to normalcy. What is missing, however, is the influx of cash that they were using to finance all of the extra pork!]

Extend and Expand Unemployment Insurance: Barack Obama believes we need to “temporarily” extend the Unemployment Insurance program, investing an additional $10 billion, to address the needs of the long-term unemployed, “who currently make up nearly one-fifth of the unemployed” [no reference cited]. He states that these people are often “older workers who have lost their jobs in manufacturing or other industries and have a difficult time finding new employment” [again, no reference cited]. He contends that every dollar invested in Unemployment Insurance benefits results in $1.73 in economic output [still, no reference cited]. Obama’s plan will extend federal unemployment benefits for an additional 13-26 weeks at a cost of $10 billion. [This is certainly no shock. Democrats have thrived on representing the unemployed since the days of FDR and wouldn’t stand a chance of getting elected if they didn’t pander to those who either can’t or won’t work. If Democrats had their way, the majority of the country would be sitting at home, waiting for the government to take care of them. Conspiracy theorists have suggested that elected Democratic Party officials intentionally create roadblocks to economic success in order to expand their unemployed voter base.]

Provide Middle Class Americans Tax Relief

Provide a Tax Cut for Working Families: Barack Obama states he will create a “Making Work Pay” tax credit of “up to” $500 per worker or $1,000 per working family that will “provide 150 million workers with the tax relief they need” and “completely eliminate taxes for 10 million Americans.” [This, I must say is the most shockingly out of touch statement I have read on his website so far. Does he really think that 500 bucks is the tax relief I need? Can he possibly believe that handing out such an insignificant amount is going to even make a dent in the economic suffering of a single person? This is even less money than the much-maligned Busch Economic Stimulus Package gave to ALL Americans.]

Simplify Tax Filings for Middle Class Americans: Here, Barack Obama says he will simplify tax filings for middle class Americans by having the IRS create pre-filled tax forms from information that they have obtained from banks and employers so that all taxpayers have to do is simply sign the forms. This, he claims, will save American taxpayers “up to 200 million total hours of work and aggravation and up to $2 billion in tax preparer fees.” [Lets see, taking out the 10 million additional Americans that he says won’t have to pay taxes at all anymore, that leaves 140 million taxpayers if we use his numbers from the preceding paragraph. That would amount to a savings of under one hour and forty-five minutes per year of each individual’s time and almost $14.28 per working American. That means the average American will have enough time and money saved in a year to go out to a decent restaurant a buy half a meal!]

Eliminate Income Taxes for Seniors Making Less than $50,000: Barack Obama wants to eliminate all income tax for seniors making less than $50,000 per year, eliminating income taxes for 7 million seniors and providing these seniors with an average savings of $1,400 each year. Under Obama’s plan, 27 million American seniors will not need to file an income tax return. [Okay, TIME OUT: It has not been explained here what age group is being defined as a “senior.” Is he using the AARP’s definition (age 50 and older) or the Social Security Administration’s (67 years old for those born after 1959)? Also, Barack Obama does not provide any justification as to why these seniors are any more deserving of not paying taxes than working families, who are supporting children, are.]

Trade

Fight for Fair Trade: Obama says he will “fight” for fair trade practices with other countries of the world that will open up foreign markets to support good American jobs, using trade agreements “to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world.” He continues by stating he will “pressure the World Trade Organization to enforce trade agreements and stop countries from continuing unfair government subsidies to foreign exporters and non-tariff barriers on U.S. exports.” [I can only ask myself, “What does it mean when he says he will ‘pressure’ and ‘fight’?” Really, Barack, I’d laugh if I were a foreign country and you used words like that to me. Is this before or after you have our military withdraw from Iraq with their tails tucked between their legs? You shouldn’t use words like that unless you mean them. I also don’t understand why any foreign country would be willing to open their markets to “support good American jobs.” Don’t they have their own citizens’ jobs to look after?]

Amend the North American Free Trade Agreement: Obama believes he will be able to work with the leaders of Canada and Mexico to “fix NAFTA so that it works for American workers.” [There is really no plan, here. These are just words. A plan would outline what specifically Obama would use as an incentive for Canada and Mexico to accept a new deal that doesn’t “work” for their countries’ workers.]

Invest in the Manufacturing Sector and Create 5 Million New Green Jobs

Barack Obama says that he will double federal funding for research and tax breaks to companies for the creation of the “first wave” of green technologies and jobs. He will also increase funding for federal training programs that include green technologies in addition to creating a “Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that will require 25 percent of American electricity be derived from renewable sources by 2025.” [This latter goal would be far more believable if he supported increasing the number of nuclear power plants. I mean, come on now, 25%! How many windmills does he think the environmentalists are going to let us erect before they come to the conclusion that we may be potentially decapitating the nation’s bird population or disrupting the breeding habits of the North American brown bat? On a side note, I can’t help but wonder how we have evolved technologically when our answer for “new” energy is to revert to a device that has been around, by some accounts, for nearly 2,000 years! I do support the transition to electric cars. Keep in mind, however, that “plugging in” will cause an even greater demand for electricity that will certainly put a damper on the 25% goal. I can also already hear the environmentalists screaming about the number of batteries polluting the landfills, as well.]

Support Small Business

Barack Obama plans to eliminate all capital gains taxes on start-up and small businesses in order to encourage innovation and job creation. He also wants to invest $250 million to create a national network of “public-private business incubators which will facilitate the critical work of entrepreneurs in creating start-up companies … in disadvantaged communities throughout the country.”[Huh? I don’t know what a “business incubator” is! I do know that $250 million works out to $5 million per state, which hardly seems like an amount of money that will make any significant impact on the creation of businesses. Barack Obama also doesn’t state how long a new, small business will be exempt from capital gains taxes under his plan.]

Labor

Barack Obama says he wants to strengthen the rights of union employees by overturning the National Labor Relations Board’s decision to exempt certain supervisors from union protections and prohibit companies from permanently replacing striking employees. He also states that he will raise the minimum wage and index it so it adjusts to national inflation rates. [Bear in mind that these are Barack Obama’s plans to CHANGE Washington from the “politics of old.”  Are you kidding me? These ideas have been the mantra of the Democratic Party since Franklin D. Roosevelt’s “New Deal” in 1932. Taking away business owners’ rights to permanently replace workers who refuse to show up is a concept that has the potential to shut down the American Economy. Unions are already crippling this country’s ability to compete in a global economy. The concept of annually increasing the national minimum wage does not address the wages of those who make more than minimum wage. Their wages must increase in proportion to the minimum wage or we will become a two-tiered society; those at the top and those at the bottom. The backbone of this country – the middle class – will disappear altogether. Can anyone say “South America?” Once again, I must point out that the President of the United States does not have the power to do these things. Thank God! If he did, we would never be able to stop the snowball of inflation as it bounded down the hill, growing larger and more burdensome as it and the American economy crashed at the bottom.]

Protect Home Ownership and Crack Down on Mortgage Fraud

The overall theme here is that the unscrupulous mortgage industry has been tricking home buyers into purchasing mortgages that they cannot afford by making things too confusing for the average person to understand. In this section of the plan, Obama would like to create a 10% Universal Mortgage Credit (much like the current sales tax credit) for homeowners who do not [or are too lazy to] itemize their deductions.

The plan also calls for increasing penalties on those lenders who engage in mortgage fraud and mentions his Stop Fraud Act, which provides the first federal definition of mortgage fraud [the definition is never provided, however].

Further, Obama states he will create a fund to help “innocent” homeowners refinance their mortgages and will prevent bankruptcy courts from foreclosing on a house without offering refinancing terms. This fund will be “partially” funded by penalties imposed upon the unscrupulous mortgage industry.

[Frankly, I have no problem with people being able to refinance their mortgages. I don’t know how he plans to define who the “innocent” home purchasers are versus the ones that were trying to “game” the system. Maybe an IQ test would be in order. The fact is, the current crisis was created by homeowners who bought more house than they could afford, paid too much for those houses and gambled that they could take advantage of the low introductory rates being offered by lenders before refinancing a couple of years down the road. Anyone with a brain could see a year before the housing industry crash that there were far more homes being built than the market could support and that housing prices were going to come crashing down. Because people purchased homes that were overpriced, when their prices fell, banks were not willing to refinance loans, since the houses were not worth what they were purchased for. I have never understood why adjustable rates are permitted in the mortgage industry or the credit card industry, for that matter. Speaking of credit cards …]

Address Predatory Credit Card and Payday Loan Practices

The credit card industry is largely unregulated and gets away with things that would be criminal in any other industry. This section of Barack Obama’s Economic Plan needs far more detail than Obama has gone into on his website and would garner greater support if people understood the terms that he uses. I agree wholeheartedly with everything contained in this section (are you shocked?) and feel the need to explain them item by item]:

Ban Unilateral Changes to Credit Card Terms: Credit card companies have provisions in their agreements that allow them to change their fees, interest rates and virtually every aspect of their contracts with card holders with only a fifteen day notice. This means that, at their whim, credit card companies can decide to change the interest rate you are paying from 10% to 20%, make it retroactive, tack on handling fees and pretty much violate any and all terms of the credit card agreement that was signed by the card holder.

Only Allow Interest Rate Increases on Future Debt: If a credit card holder is just one hour late on a payment, credit card companies currently have the ability to increase the credit rate on every purchase that you have previously made. In fact, many credit card companies have purposely set the time that a payment is considered late to occur before the mail arrives on that due date. Things happen in life and sometimes a bill goes unpaid by accident. The credit card companies are hoping this occurs so that they can double and even triple the amount of money that you owe them. This frequently puts people in situations where they become so overburdened with debt, that they become buried in a hole they can never get out of. Barack Obama understands that some people may be deemed less credit worthy because of missed payments. While it is permissible for credit card companies to increase rates on future purchases, they would not, under his plan, be able to increase the interest rate on past money owed [AMEN!].

Prohibit Universal Defaults: This is, perhaps, the most disgusting provision of credit card agreements. The “Universal Default” provision allows credit card companies to increase your interest rates for past and future debt if you have missed or made a late payment to ANY creditor. They may also increase your credit rate on past and future debt if your credit score falls. This would be like your mortgage company doubling your house payment because you returned a video one day late to Blockbuster.

Prohibit Interest on Fees: There are numerous fees buried in the fine print of credit card agreements. Credit card companies currently are allowed to charge interest on those fees. So, if you owe a late fee, for example, a credit card company can slap you with a $25 charge and triple your interest rate on money owed from 12% to 36%. Effectively, this means that the $25 charge is really a $34 APR fee in this example.

Place a Cap of 36% on Payday Loans: People who need this type of advanced money are already “robbing Peter to pay Paul.” The fees that are being charged would land a loan shark in jail. Obama’s plan would cap the amount that these companies can charge at 36%. Even at this rate, a person whose normal take home pay is $400 would only receive $256 from the Payday loan places. Personally, I think that even this rate is too high but, if credit card companies can get away with it, I guess these businesses can too!

For the most part, Obama’s plan for the economy seems to wipe out the middle class. The tax relief that he offers is less than the tax cuts that are in effect under the Bush plan. Furthermore, business owners will be forced to cut jobs, lower salaries and raise prices to compensate for the higher taxes that they will have to pay as individuals. Raising the minimum wage will not have much of an effect, as workers will be scrambling to find the few remaining jobs.

Unions will gain unchallenged power under this plan that will destroy many American companies, who will no longer be able to compete with other businesses around the world. Unprecedented loss in jobs can be expected as many companies move their operations overseas. This plan has economic meltdown written all over it!

There is not even a mention in Barack Obama’s plan about the largest contributing factor to our current economic woes – the high cost of fuel. This is apparently not seen as a problem to him since he recently said “I would have preffered that the price of oil got to its current rate more gradually [than it did].”

In Part 4 of the Barack Obama Website Series (coming soon to a computer near you), I will be examining Barack Obama’s plan for CHANGE as it relates to education.


Barack Obama – Searching his Website for CHANGE: The Disabilties Issue (Part 2 of 28)

June 19, 2008

Barack Obama discusses the Disablities issue.

In part two of the Barack Obama Website Series, I’ll take a closer look at Barack Obama’s website http://barackobama.com/, looking for specifics on how exactly he proposes to CHANGE the lives of those with disabilities. The “Disabilities” web page states that “Obamas [sic] comprehensive agenda to empower individuals with disabilities fits in with the campaign’s overarching message of equalizing opportunities for all Americans.” Personally, I’d substitute the word “overreaching” for the word “overarching,” since he cannot possibly accomplish all that he has set out to do from the Executive Branch and many of his plans impinge upon the rights of individual states, companies and even other countries of the world. It’s big government at its worst but hey, what do I know? … I was educated in the public school system that he seems to believe needs so much CHANGE.  

I intended to post part two of the Obama website series days ago but I got too bogged down in the minutia of everything contained in the “Disabilities” section of his website. In the interests of being more concise, I have skipped the mundane and have concentrated on the meat.

The Problem:

The following quote describes the Disabilities problem, according to Barack Obama:

“In 2006, working-age Americans with disabilities were almost three times more likely to live below the poverty line than those without disabilities. While the average annual household income of individuals in the United States without disabilities was $65,400 in 2006, the average annual household income for people with disabilities was $36,300. And the employment rate for persons with disabilities in 2006 was at least 40 points lower than the employment rate of working-age individuals without disabilities. These dismal statistics offer evidence of severe shortcomings in our country’s efforts to break down the barriers that exclude people with disabilities and deprive them of true equality of opportunity and independence.” 

[I agree 100% with the notion that people with disabilities should be given every opportunity that is practical to enable them to acquire gainful employment. I really don’t think there are a whole lot of people who would disagree with that. My problem is with the numbers that Barack Obama uses here. The funny thing about statistics is that they can be easily manipulated to prove practically any point one wants to make. These numbers automatically lump individuals with severe mental retardation and other incapacitating disabilities in with other disabled individuals who have been able to find success in the workplace. By doing this, he is able to lower the average household income and increase this group’s unemployment statistics. This exaggeration of the problem (a tactic Barack Obama presumably learned from Al Gore) is an attempt to convince us that all handicapped individuals have little chance of making it in this country.]

The Solution:

Barack Obama’s “Plan To Empower Americans With Disabilities” has four parts, “designed to provide lifelong support and resources to Americans with disabilities.” I will tackle each section, one at a time:  

Provide Americans With Disabilities With The Educational Opportunities They Need In Order To Succeed:

Fully Funding the Individuals with Disabilities Act: Obama takes a well-deserved shot at Congress by admonishing them for not shouldering 40% of each state’s “excess cost” of educating children with disabilities, as was promised in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). He plans to “enforce” the stipulations of IDEA in addition to making sure that the federal government lives up to its end of the agreement. [Personally, there are other programs that I would also like to see funded as promised by the federal government. One small one that comes to mind is Social Security.]

Early Intervention for Children with Disabilities/Universal Screening of All Infants and Two-Year-Olds: Barack Obama believes that the federal government needs to step in and ensure that all states are performing the American College of Medical Genetics’ full recommended panel of 29 tests for possible disorders for each and every infant born in this country. [Here, we see one of the first signs of a theme that runs rampant throughout “Doctor” Obama’s plan for the country; that is, having Big Government step in, further diluting each state’s Constitutional rights to govern themselves.]

Additionally, Obama contends that many of these conditions can be treated before they become permanent and goes even further by suggesting a “national goal” of retesting every two-year as well. [A “national goal” is an admirable thing. It reminds me of my “personal goal” … to win the lottery!]

Next, Barack Obama says he will invest $10 billion in early intervention educational and developmental programs for children up to five years of age. [Thank God he isn’t asking the American people to invest the $10 billion for the early intervention educational and developmental programs. I don’t know where it would come from. Frankly, I didn’t know Barack had that kind of money!]

Improve College Opportunities for High School Graduates with Disabilities: Barack Obama states that students with disabilities are less likely to attend and/or complete college than their peers without disabilities. [Again, one must factor out the children who are mentally and/or physically unable to even go to school if this statistic (again, not cited) is to be used.

He goes on to state that those students with disabilities that do graduate enter the workplace at the same level as their classmates without disabilities. {I’m not exactly sure what the term “same level” means, but I’ll assume that he is saying that their pay is equal. If this is the case, then it seems to suggest that there is indeed, no discrimination in the workplace against individuals with handicaps.]

Obama’s plan to make college more accessible is to make college more affordable for all students who wish to attend by having the federal government pay for the first $4,000 of most students’ college tuition and to subsidize two-thirds of the cost of tuition at “the average public college or university.” [Please notice that this is in the form of fully refundable tax credits. Also note that this program is to be available to not just students with disabilities, but to most students. It does not say who will be excluded from this program, nor does it state how we will cover the shortfall in taxes collected in an already deficit-ridden federal budget.] 

End Discrimination And Promote Equal Opportunity

Restoring the Americans with Disabilities Act: Barack Obama admonishes the U.S. Supreme Court for restricting the Americans with Disabilities Act by way of decisions that they have made that “narrowly define” what it means to have a disability. Because of those decisions, he claims that lower courts are further narrowing the scope of what defines a disability. [Barack Obama, as usual, does not cite the cases which have caused him to make this outrageous claim against The Supreme Court of the United States of America. Never fear, I have taken the time to look up the cases. In one, two myopic sisters sued over the right to fly commercial airlines. In the other two cases, truck drivers sued their companies claiming that they lost their jobs because of disabilities (one was essentially blind in one eye and the other had a heart condition). In each case, the Supreme Court ruled that the individuals did not have a “disability” as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act. The Act defines a disability as a physical or mental impairment that “substantially limits” one or more “major life activities.” The U.S. Supreme Court found that the truck driver with the heart condition could take medication to correct his condition and therefore could not sue under “The Act,” the myopic sisters could wear protective lenses to correct their “disability” as well and the monocular driver could still see and was not substantially limited in one or more of life’s activities because of it.  It is not the Supreme Court’s fault that the legislators did not do a better job of defining what a disability is. You may view each of these cases at Sutton v. United Air Lines, Murphy v. United Parcel Service and Albertsons v. Kirkingburg].

Appointing Judges and Justices Who Respect Laws Designed to Protect People with Disabilities: Here, Barack Obama says he will “appoint judges and justices who respect Congress’ role as a co-equal, democratically elected branch of government and who exhibit empathy with what it means to be an American with a disability.” [There are two things wrong with this statement. The obvious one is that U.S. Presidents do not appoint Supreme Court Justices – they can only nominate them – it is the U.S. Senate that confirms the nomination that leads to their “appointment.” I’ll let that slide, however, since Barack Obama has spent so little time actually doing the job he was elected to do, he may have forgotten the role of the Senate. The second problem I have with this statement reflects back to Part 1 of the Barack Obama website series, where he accuses George W. Bush of the “politicization” of the Department of Justice. Isn’t this “the pot calling the kettle black?” Oops, poor choice of words. I’m sure the Obama camp will say that I just made a racist remark against the kettle!]

Require Insurance Coverage by Medical Insurers: Barack Obama states that he will “require coverage for serious mental illnesses to be provided on the same terms and conditions as are applicable to other illnesses and diseases. [Here we go again! Now Barack Obama intends to step on individual health insurance providers’ rights to offer the kind of health care coverage that they want to under their company plans. This means that those companies who are not providing what Obama deems to be adequate mental health care coverage, will have to add it to their benefit programs. Do you think this will necessitate a higher price for the insurance that they offer? Count on it!] UPDATE: As proof that Obama will indeed, be the candidate of CHANGE, this part of the Disabilities Plan has mysteriously disappeared from his website. Perhaps he lost some campaign funding provided by the healthcare industry as a result of this policy.

Guaranteeing Health Care Coverage: According to Barack Obama, “many people do not seek work or leave the workplace because they need the guaranteed health insurance that the federal government benefit programs provides.” Under this part of his plan, Obama will ensure that the federal government make available subsidies to pay for coverage for Americans with disabilities “who cannot afford [insurance].” He also will prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage based upon pre-existing conditions. [This will undoubtedly drive up the cost for insurance plans for all Americans, who will have to subsidize the increased medical costs of those with pre-existing conditions. This is a truly shocking part of Obama’s plan, considering the already skyrocketing cost of health insurance!]

Increasing Employment Rate Of Workers With Disabilities

A great deal of this section has nothing to do with disabilities and is stated in the “Family” section of Barack Obama’s website. [This will be discussed in Section 9 of the Barack Obama Website Series … coming soon to a computer near you.] After plodding through the mundane, the salient issues that Barack Obama plans to CHANGE with respect to increasing employment for those with disabilities follow the same “big government will save you” theme that is becoming redundant.

Increase Executive Branch Hiring of Workers with Disabilities: Barack Obama says he will re-instate an Executive Order passed by Bill Clinton that mandates the hiring of 100,000 federal employees with disabilities in the form of affirmative action [the Democratic Party’s euphemism for quotas]. [There is no mention of who (if anybody) repealed this Executive Order. Nor does it state if these will be 100,000 new jobs or if there will be 100,000 experienced, non-disabled federal employees that will lose their jobs, whether they are more qualified or not].

Supporting Small Business Owned by People with Disabilities: Barack Obama says that he will direct the Small Business Administration to amend their regulations under The Small Business Act to give preferential treatment in the awarding of government contracts to business owners who have disabilities. [Once again, Barack Obama has decided that the United States President is a dictator and that he will have powers that are not provided under the U.S. Constitution. I must also point out that there may be a few members of the Small Business Administration who would balk at the idea of losing their equal rights to government contracts.]

Establishing a National Commission on People with Disabilities, Employment and Social Security: Barack Obama hopes to create a new governmental commission that will include “Presidential appointees, Congressional appointees and the Commissioner of the Social Security Administration and the Secretaries of Labor and Health & Human Services as ex officio members.” [You have to give Barack Obama a lot of credit here; if the President of the United States were able to create such a commission without the approval and funding of the legislative branches, it would be an excellent way of ensuring that some of the people that helped fund his Presidential run, got high-paying jobs, courtesy of the American taxpayers. Are you listening, Bill Ayers?]

Supporting Independent, Community-Based Living for Americans with Disabilities

Before tackling this segment, perhaps it is best to define what is meant by “community-based living.” The Virginia Community Based Services Division does an adequate job of defining their mission by stating their goal is to “respectfully [create] real life solutions that maximize the employment, independence and full inclusion of people with severe disabilities.”

I, personally, doubt that anyone is against letting any disabled individual try to integrate as normally into society as possible. Community-based living facilities are a more expensive alternative to the state institutions that many disabled individuals are required to rely upon, due to a shortage of these community-based facilities.

There is very little in this part of Barack Obama’s Disabilities Plan that would get any argument on the principle of the need for more of these facilities and their benefit to those with disabilities. The only issue here is whether states would be paying for these facilities or the federal government. As far as the average taxpayer is concerned, there is no difference; one way or other, it’s coming out of their pockets.

The only twist that Obama slips in here is that he wants to set up a voluntary program that will deduct $30 from each person’s paycheck to go to a program that will help pay for long term care of disabled persons. Those who have contributed for at least five years would then, themselves, be able to receive benefits should they ever need them.

[For a change, I have very little to say in this regard except to add that similar promises were made regarding our Social Security payments. It is more than likely that many will see little if any benefits from the vast sums that the federal government has stolen from the American people for the bankrupt Social Security system. What would give any rational human being any reason to believe that the federal government wouldn’t squander the money contributed to this program as well? It should also be pointed out that, due to the wording of the proposed $30 per paycheck plan, those who are paid bi-monthly would be paying less for this program than those who receive weekly paychecks. Of course this is “voluntary” and I am a little skeptical as to how many Americans would “volunteer” to give up as much as $1,560 a year to the program. The contributions would more than negate the tax cuts outlined in Barack Obama’s Economic Plan.

All in all, the Disabilities Plan on the Barack Obama website offers very little hope for those with disabilities. All of the goals are admirable but will surely resort in unending debates and litigation as to whether these are state or federal government issues. It does, however, offer a great deal of insight on the true Barack Obama. One can easily see why he has been labeled as the most liberal Senator in Washington and that he is not even close to being the bipartisan leader that he claims he will be. Big Government, more taxes and more entitlements; where is the CHANGE? He couldn’t toe the Democratic Party line more if it was glued to his shoes!

After part two of the twenty-eight part series on Barack Obama’s website, I feel the need, once again, to promise that I will make the next review more concise. Really, can it be that hard? Let’s see what we will be reviewing next … the Economy! (Oh, crap!)


Barack Obama – Searching his Website for CHANGE: The Civil Rights Issue (Part 1 of 28)

June 10, 2008
Barack Obama and Al Sharpton

Barack Obama and Al Sharpton

I don’t get it. I hear so many people singing the praises of the new political messiah, Barack Obama, but I can’t get a real answer as to why they so desperately want him to be President. Sure, I hear reasons why not to vote for the other guy. People provide amazingly insightful phrases like, “I just think he’s more Presidential” or “I think he’ll take us in the right direction” and, of course, the CHANGE mantra repeated ad nauseam; but, I needed to know what the furor was all about. Since even his supporters could not provide any substantive answers, I decided to go to Barack Obama’s website, barackobama.com, and see for myself what Barack Obama’s platform is and what I could find out about his plans for CHANGE.

My first impression, as I reviewed his “Issues” tab, was that there are a whole lot of issues that he hopes to CHANGE (more than twenty-five, as a mater of fact). I couldn’t help but roll my eyes upon seeing this because, as anyone with even a cursory knowledge of our political system can tell you, 95% of the issues he lists have nothing to do with the office of the Presidency. Instead, they are issues that can only be resolved by our Congress, where Barack Obama served for an entire two years before deciding that he had had enough of that and that running for President would be more fun. But, I’ll play the game and pretend that the President is a dictator and can magically affect all of these CHANGES. At least I could have a better idea of what he might or might not veto if he were to be presented with this nation’s (and some would say the world’s) highest position.

I originally was going to tackle all of this in one article; but, with twenty-eight different issues, I decided to limit each article to just one item. In fact, I have created a whole category for them (Barack Obama Website Series) so that they may be referenced more easily. Each issue listed on his site is quite comprehensive, so please allow me a few days between each post to write each artice in this series. It is quite an undertaking! With all that said, let me at last get to tackling the first issue on his website – The Civil Rights Issue:

The Problem:

As Barack Obama sees it, minorities receive unequal treatment by employers, the police and our criminal justice system. Women, particularly minority women, Obama points out, receive less pay than white men [Obama does not mention of minority men, here. Also, he doesn’t make any mention of the fact that women miss work far more often than men due to family and medical issues and he does not address the fact that women cost businesses more in health care plan expenses and maternity leave. Check with your company’s personnel department and see the numbers for yourself! I can also point out that many women leave the workplace early to have children and/or enter it late for the very same reasons, thereby limiting their ascensions on the corporate ladder. None of these things matter, however. It’s far easier to blame the big, bad, white men for the disparities. Being a white man, I know I rarely miss a meeting at my local S.W.A.M. (Suppress Women And Minorities) chapter. Oh, I forgot … my female boss (who makes more than me) didn’t invite me to attend! (How she slipped through the cracks, I’ll never know)].

Next, Barack Obama states that hate crimes have risen in the last two years by eight percent. [Correct me if I’m wrong here; but, doesn’t that coincide with about the same time that the Democrats took over with a majority in Congress? He clearly must be mistaken; the Democrats would never let something like that happen on their watch!]

He also makes a vague reference to an [ahem] unnamed study that “discovered numerous efforts to intimidate, mislead and suppress minority voters.” [With sources like that, I can only imagine that he has a great future ahead of him as a reporter or columnist with The New York Times or Cosmopolitan Magazine if this political thing doesn’t pan out for him.]

Then [and I was waiting for it], Barack Obama plays the race card, stating that Hispanics and African Americans are twice as likely as whites to undergo abuses by law enforcement officials – offenses which include being subdued and arrested. [I was shocked when I read this because, we all know that only the Clintons and the Republican “hate machine” are capable of using race as an issue. I don’t know; maybe it’s just that I live in a different “white” world, right next door to my Puerto Rican and African American neighbors. None of them has ever been harassed by police, arrested or subdued while living next to me. Oops, I forgot … one normally has to commit some kind of a crime for that to occur!]

Speaking of crimes, Barack Obama plays his second race card [Now he has a pair!], asserting that crack cocaine users are being discriminated against versus powder cocaine users by receiving harsher sentences. He attributes this to the “fact?” [not cited, again] that most crack cocaine users are black and powder cocaine users are white.

The Solution:

What does Barack Obama suggest we do to CHANGE these outrageous things? Bear in mind that many of these things are state and local level issues. In the interests of plodding ahead, however, I’ll ignore that trivial fact.

Strengthen Civil Rights Enforcement

Barack Obama says he’ll strengthen civil rights enforcement by reversing “the politicization that has occurred in the Bush Administration’s Department of Justice.” [Since a Democrat-controlled Congress approved of Justice Samuel Alito, I can only assume that he is taking a shot at his own Party, here. Or, could it be that the inexperienced Obama believes that Alito is the first Supreme Court Justice ever to have been nominated where there may have been a political agenda involved?] He adds to this by saying he will “put an end to the ideological litmus tests used to fill positions within the Civil Rights Division.” [I don’t know if many people know what that means but it sure sounds good! Here, Barack Obama is saying that he doesn’t care what the ideological positions are of anybody who works within the Civil Rights Division of the federal government. Bigots, fascists, racists and hate mongerers of all sorts can breathe a sigh of relief here; they all will still be able to get a job overseeing civil rights in the Obama Administration!]

Combat Employment Discrimination

Barack Obama states he will combat employment discrimination by working to “overturn the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that curtails racial minorities’ and women’s ability to challenge pay discrimination.” [Maybe Obama thinks that by becoming the President of the United States, he will inherit some unbelievable gift of persuasion. Or, could it be that Obama may just have to “engage in the politicization … of the Department of Justice” himself, in order to nominate a judge who shares his own ideology in this regard?]

Barack Obama’s web site then adds that “he will also pass the Fair Pay Act to ensure that women receive equal pay for equal work and the Employment Non-Discrimination Act to prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity or expression.” [Here, I have to repeat myself. Congress passes laws, not Presidents. If he wanted to get these laws passed, why didn’t he do it when it was his job? Oh, right … he only really served two years of his term. It’s hard to get much done in so little time and with so little experience. Women and those that are sexually disoriented, don’t get me wrong here; I absolutely think you deserve exactly the same amount of pay as men, straight or otherwise, as long as you are providing the same exact amount of work. In my white, straight, man-ruled world, I have seen the discrimination that is described here. I have worked for two companies that were owned by women where all of the managers were women, even though there was a fifty-fifty split of men and women employees. I’m sure none of us menfolk was qualified to be a manager, however.]

Expand Hate Crimes Statutes

Barack Obama says he will strengthen federal hate crime legislation and expand hate crimes protection by “passing the Matthew Shepherd Act” and that he will “reinvigorate enforcement at the Department of Justice’s Criminal Section.” [Bravo to you on this, Barack Obama! Anybody who is involved in hate crimes should absolutely be subject to the harshest of punishments. Unfortunately, Obama is stating that he will be able to control not just one, but now both of the other branches of the federal government from the Executive Branch.]

End Deceptive Voting Practices

Barack Obama says that he will end deceptive voting practices by signing into law his own legislation that “establishes harsh penalties for those who have engaged in voter fraud and provides voters who have been misinformed with accurate and full information so they can vote.” [Maybe Barack has something here. The easiest way to ensure that your law is signed, is to switch seats quickly! This bill is near and dear to Barack Obama’s heart, I know. His cronies managed to uncover petition fraud in Barack Obama’s run for the only other “elected” position that he held prior to becoming a U.S. Senator by eliminating all five of his opponents in his run for the Illinois State Senate seat. He won a landslide victory against “unopposed.” Seriously, though, does anybody have a problem with Barack’s position on this one? I think you’d be hard-pressed to find any politician who would openly oppose this type of legislation. Hardly an election-breaker I would think, however.]

End Racial Profiling

Barack Obama says he will “ban racial profiling by federal law enforcement agencies and provide federal incentives to state and local police departments to prohibit the practice.” [Here, Barack Obama is playing race card number three (he now has three of a kind!). I’ll let him slide, though, since he will undoubtedly make many terrorists happy with this one. I mean, happy terrorists don’t hurt people right? He didn’t say all of his CHANGES would be good for the country, did he? I’m sure it will make us look better in the eyes of the rest of the world, whose opinion seems to matter to him more than those of his own countrymen. It’s no wonder why Hamas has endorsed Barack Obama as President!]

Reduce Crime Recidivism by Providing Ex-Offender Support

Here, Obama says he will “provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that they are successfully re-integrated into society.” He adds that he will also “create a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.” [Why not? If you’re going to support the rights of terrorists, you certainly need to support your country’s own criminals! Hey, I’m all for alternatives to prison for drug offenders if they work better, but who’s paying for all of the mental health counselors here, anyway? I don’t know how he plans to get the second part of this plan to work, however. There is hardly a company left in this country that has a personnel department that doesn’t require a pre-employment background check and drug screening. Even if they have cleaned up their act drugwise, they’ll never get a decent company to hire them. The slightest glitch on your criminal record will get you disqualified for almost every job nowadays. He needs to add “and I will have passed into law, a bill that prohibits companies from doing any pre-employment background checks or drug screening.” That should work! I hope those with children in daycare don’t have a problem with it, though. It should also be pointed out that these are most certainly state issues and one that the federal government can’t and shouldn’t have any hand in dealing with. That is, unless you are of the liberal mindset that every aspect of your life needs to be controlled by the federal government. I mean, what do we really need all of these different states for anyway?]

Eliminate Sentencing Disparities

Obama believes the disparity between sentencing crack and powder-based cocaine is wrong and should be completely eliminated. [I covered this at the beginning of the article. He only makes a statement about what is wrong with America here but offers no solution about the role of the federal government in implementing this CHANGE. Those that peruse his website further will find that Barack Obama feels this CHANGE is necessary in order to eliminate the racial gap created by laws that treat blacks (crack users) to harsher penalties than whites (powdered cokeheads). Congratulations Barack, you have now played your fourth race card and we are only on issue #1 out of twenty-eight! (Maybe he will win the election; four of a kind is awful hard to beat!)]

Expand The Use of Drug Courts

Barack Obama’s final act under the heading of civil rights will be to expand the use of drug courts. He says this will give “first-time, non-violent offenders a chance to serve their sentence, where appropriate, in the type of drug rehabilitation programs that have proven to work better than a prison term in changing bad behavior.” [Holy cow! I thought the mental health counselors were going to be expensive. Now he wants the federal government (meaning the taxpayers) to pay for drug rehabilitation centers for all first time drug offenders. I don’t know about all states, but don’t most states give probation to first time offenders in exchange for them entering a drug treatment program? Sure, the offender has to pay a fairly small fee for the treatment program but; since they are “proven” (no study cited) to work so well, these people should have plenty of money left over that they would otherwise have been spending on drugs. I mean really, it worked so well for Lindsay Lohan, right?]

Whew, that was only issue number one! I can’t believe I actually thought I could cover all twenty-eight issues listed on his website in one post. My next post will parse the issue of “Disabilities” as outlined on Barack Obama’s website. Maybe on that issue, I’ll find a reason to vote for him!