* Served as President of the United States from 2009-2017
* Served as United States Senator from 2005-2008
* Served as Illinois State Senator from 1997-2004
Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. was elected President of the United States on November 4, 2008. Prior to that, he had served four years as a U.S. senator from Illinois (2005-2008) and eight years as an Illinois state senator (1996-2004).
Obama was born in Hawaii on August 4, 1961, to a white mother from Kansas (Anna Dunham) and a black Muslim father from Kenya (Barack Hussein Obama, Sr.). The couple had met when they were students at the University of Hawaii. When they married, Anna was unaware that her new husband was still legally married to a woman in Kenya, whom he had wed in 1954, and with whom he had fathered four children.
In his 1995 memoir Dreams from My Father, Barack Obama, Jr. describes his mother as “a lonely witness for secular humanism, a soldier for New Deal, Peace Corps, position-paper liberalism.” His father was a communist who had left his rural Luo-speaking village and his own Muslim father to become an “agnostic” and study economics abroad.
In his book Barack Obama: The Story, Washington Post reporter-editor David Maraniss explains that Obama’s parents were “married in name only.” Within a mere month after Obama’s birth, the baby and his mother had moved to Washington state, apart from the father. The father, for his part, left Hawaii in June 1962 and moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he pursued graduate studies at Harvard University. Not long thereafter, he returned to Kenya with another white American woman, whom he married there in 1964. In January 1964 Anna Dunham filed for divorce.
In an early 1964 memo, Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) official M.F. McKeon indicated that Harvard administrators were “planning on telling [Barack Obama, Sr.] that they will not give him any money, and that he had better return to Kenya and prepare his thesis at home.” Then, in May of that year, the director of Harvard’s international office told Obama precisely that. In a memo the following month, McKeon wrote that Harvard officials — who were “having difficulty with [Obama’s] financial arrangements and couldn’t seem to figure out how many wives he had” — had asked the INS to delay a request by Obama to extend his stay in the U.S., “until they decided what action they could take in order to get rid of him.” When the INS complied with Harvard’s wishes and denied Obama’s request, Obama returned to his native Kenya in July 1964 and never completed his Ph.D. He became a globe-traveling economist for the Kenyan government and would see his son only one more time, during a month-long visit in 1971.
In March 1965, Barack Obama Jr.’s mother married an Indonesian oil manager, a “non-practicing Muslim” named Lolo Soetoro, and the family moved to Jakarta, Indonesia, where the boy’s half-sister Maya was born. The family would reside there for four years. Obama attended school in Indonesia under the name Barry Soetoro; at that time, only Indonesian citizens were permitted to attend school in that country.
Obama and others have given much contradictory information regarding Obama’s religious upbringing. The most significant facts are provided below: Vis à vis Obama’s religious upbringing, Islam scholar Daniel Pipes reports the following:
“In Islam, religion passes from the father to the child. Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. [his Kenyan birth father] was a Muslim who named his boy Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. Only Muslim children are named ‘Hussein’.… [Barack Obama’s] stepfather, Lolo Soetoro, was also a Muslim. In fact, as Obama’s half-sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng explained to Jodi Kantor of the New York Times: ‘My whole family was Muslim, and most of the people I knew were Muslim.’ An Indonesian publication, the Banjarmasin Post reports a former classmate, Rony Amir, recalling that ‘All the relatives of Barry’s [Barack’s] father were very devout Muslims.’”
* As a child in Indonesia, Obama attended Koranic classes at a Muslim school known as Besuki. At tha same time, he attended the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic School.
* Obama’s good friend, the attorney and novelist Scott Turow, writes that Obama as a child spent “two years in a Muslim school, then two more in a Catholic school.” School records show that when Obama attended Catholic school, he was enrolled as a Muslim.
* Journalist Paul Watson of the Los Angeles Times learned from Obama’s childhood friends that “Obama sometimes went to Friday prayers at the local mosque.”
* Kim Barker of the Chicago Tribune found that “Obama occasionally followed his stepfather to the mosque for Friday prayers.”
* An Indonesian friend of Obama, Zulfin Adi, states that “[Obama] was Muslim. He went to the mosque. I remember him wearing a sarong [a garment associated with Muslims].”
* Obama’s former classmate in Indonesia, the aforementioned Rony Amir, recalls Obama as having been “previously quite religious in Islam.”
* Obama’s first-grade teacher at Assisi, Israella Dharmawan, once told reporter Paul Watson of the Los Angeles Times: “At that time, Barry was also praying in a Catholic way, but Barry was Muslim. … He was registered as a Muslim because his father, Lolo Soetoro, was Muslim.”
* Obama’s third-grade teacher at Besuki (the Muslim school) told Anne Barrowclough of the London Times: “His mother [a Christian] did not like him learning Islam, although his father was a Muslim. Sometimes she came to the school; she was angry with the religious teacher and said ‘Why did you teach him the Koran?’ But he kept going to the classes because he was interested in Islam.”
* One of Obama’s former teachers at Besuki recalls that Obama would “join the other pupils for Muslim prayers.” According to Daniel Pipes: “Praying the salat in of itself made Obama a Muslim.” In an exchange with a journalist early in his presidential run (in 2007), Obama expertly recited the adhan, the call to prayer (typically chanted from minarets), which he also recalled from his childhood. “In the eyes of Muslims,” says Pipes, “reciting the adhan in class in 1970 made Obama a Muslim then – and doing so again for a journalist in 2007 once again made Obama a Muslim.”
* In March 2004 Obama was asked, “Have you always been a Christian?” He replied: “I was raised more by my mother and my mother was Christian.”
* Robert Gibbs, who served as the campaign communications director for Obama’s first presidential race, said in January 2007: “Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian who attends the United Church of Christ in Chicago.”
* But two months later, in March 2007, Gibbs backtracked somewhat by saying that “Obama has never been a practicing Muslim.” As Daniel Pipes clarified: “By focusing on the practice as a child, the campaign is raising a non-issue, for Muslims (like Jews) do not consider practice central to religious identity.”
* In December 2007 Obama said, “I’ve always been a Christian. The only connection I’ve had to Islam is that my grandfather on my father’s side came from that country [Kenya]. But I’ve never practiced Islam…. For a while, I lived in Indonesia because my mother was teaching there. And that’s a Muslim country. And I went to school. But I didn’t practice.” He added: “My mother was a Christian from Kansas…. I was raised by my mother. So, I’ve always been a Christian.”
* In February 2008 Obama elaborated, “I have never been a Muslim.… [O]ther than my name and the fact that I lived in a populous Muslim country for four years when I was a child [Indonesia, 1967-71], I have very little connection to the Islamic religion.”
* In a September 2008 televised conversation with George Stephanopoulos, Obama made reference to “my Muslim faith,” and then changed it to “my Christian faith” after Stephanopoulos interrupted and corrected him. By Daniel Pipes’s reckoning, “No one could blurt out ‘my Muslim faith’ unless some basis existed for such a mistake.”
* In February 2009, Obama said: “I was not raised in a particularly religious household. I had a father who was born a Muslim but became an atheist, grandparents who were non-practicing Methodists and Baptists, and a mother who was skeptical of organized religion. I didn’t become a Christian until … I moved to the South Side of Chicago after college.”
* Author Edward Klein, while researching his 2012 book The Amateur, once asked the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s longtime pastor at Trinity United Methodisy Church in Chicago: “Did you convert Obama from Islam to Christianity?” Wright replied enigmatically: “That’s hard to tell.”
(1) Islam is a patrilineal religion: In Islam, the father passes his faith to the children; and when a Muslim male has children with a non-Muslim female, Islam considers the children Muslim. Obama’s grandfather and father having been Muslims – the extent of their piety matters not at all – means that, in Muslim eyes, Barack was born a Muslim.
(2) Arabic forenames based on the H-S-N trilateral root: All such names (Husayn or Hussein, Hasan, Hassân, Hasanayn, Ahsan, Muhsin, and others) are exclusively bestowed on Muslim babies. (The same goes for names based on the H-M-D root.) Obama’s middle name, Hussein, explicitly proclaims him a born Muslim.
(3) Registered as Muslim at SD Katolik Santo Fransiskus Asisi: Obama was registered at a Catholic school in Jakarta as “Barry Soetoro.” A surviving document correctly lists him as born in Honolulu on Aug. 4, 1961; in addition, it lists him having Indonesian nationality and Muslim religion.
(4) Registered as Muslim at SD Besuki: Although Besuki (also known as SDN 1 Menteng) is a public school, Obama curiously refers to it in Audacity (p. 154) as “the Muslim school” he attended in Jakarta. Its records have not survived but several journalists (Haroon Siddiqui of the Toronto Star, Paul Watson of the Los Angeles Times, David Maraniss of the Washington Post) have all confirmed that there too, he was registered as a Muslim.
(5) Islamic class at SD Besuki: Obama mentions (Audacity, p. 154) that at Besuki, “the teacher wrote to tell my mother that I made faces during Koranic studies.” Only Muslim students attended the weekly two-hour Koran class, Watson reports:
two of his teachers, former Vice Principal Tine Hahiyari and third-grade teacher Effendi, said they remember clearly that at this school too, he was registered as a Muslim, which determined what class he attended during weekly religion lessons. “Muslim students were taught by a Muslim teacher, and Christian students were taught by a Christian teacher,” said Effendi.
Andrew Higgins of the Washington Post quotes Rully Dasaad, a former classmate, saying that Obama horsed around in class and, during readings of the Koran, got “laughed at because of his funny pronunciation.” Maraniss learned that the class included not only studying “how to pray and how to read the Koran,” but also actually praying in the Friday communal service right on the school grounds.
(6) Mosque attendance: Maya Soetoro-Ng, Obama’s younger half-sister, said her father (namely, Barack’s stepfather) attended the mosque “for big communal events,” Barker found that “Obama occasionally followed his stepfather to the mosque for Friday prayers.” Watson reports:
The childhood friends say Obama sometimes went to Friday prayers at the local mosque. “We prayed but not really seriously, just following actions done by older people in the mosque. But as kids, we loved to meet our friends and went to the mosque together and played,” said Zulfin Adi, who describes himself as among Obama’s closest childhood friends. … Sometimes, when the muezzin sounded the call to prayer, Lolo and Barry would walk to the makeshift mosque together, Adi said. “His mother often went to the church, but Barry was Muslim. He went to the mosque,” Adi said.
(7) Muslim clothing: Adi recalls about Obama, “I remember him wearing a sarong.” Likewise,Maraniss found not only that “His classmates recalled that Barry wore a sarong” but written exchanges indicating that he continued to wear this garment in the United States. This fact has religious implications because, in Indonesian culture, only Muslims wear sarongs.
(8) Piety: Obama says that in Indonesia, he “didn’t practice [Islam],” an assertion that inadvertently acknowledges his Muslim identity by implying he was a non-observant Muslim. But several of those who knew him contradict this recollection. Rony Amir describes Obama as “previously quite religious in Islam.” A former teacher, Tine Hahiyary, quoted in the Kaltim Post, says the future president took part in advanced Islamic religious lessons: “I remember that he had studied mengaji.” In the context of Southeast Asian Islam, mengaji Quran means to recite the Koran in Arabic, a difficult task denoting advanced study.
In summary, the record points to Obama having been born a Muslim to a non-practicing Muslim father and having lived for four years in a fully Muslim milieu under the auspices of his Muslim Indonesian stepfather. For these reasons, those who knew Obama in Indonesia considered him a Muslim.
Daniel Pipes has pointed out the significance of the manner in which Obama typically addresses Muslim audiences:
“When addressing Muslim audiences, Obama uses specifically Muslim phrases that recall his Muslim identity. He addressed audiences both in Cairo (in June 2009) and Jakarta (in Nov. 2010) with ‘as-salaamu alaykum,’ a greeting that he, who went to Koran class, knows is reserved for one Muslim addressing another.” Further, Pipes notes that “In Cairo, he [Obama] also deployed several other pious terms that signal to Muslims he is one of them: (a) ‘the Holy Koran’ (a term mentioned five times): an exact translation from the standard Arabic reference to the Islamic scripture, al-Qur’an al-Karim; (b) ‘the right path’: a translation of the Arabic as-sirat al-mustaqim, which Muslims ask God to guide them along each time they pray; (c) ‘I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed’: non-Muslims do not refer to Islam as revealed; (d) ‘the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed … joined in prayer’: this Koranic tale of a night journey establishes the leadership of Muhammad over all other holy figures, including Jesus; (e) ‘Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed, peace be upon them’: a translation of the Arabic ‘alayhim as-salam, which pious Muslims say after mentioning the names of dead prophets other than Muhammad.”
Pipes offers also the following insight about Obama’s use of the phrase “Peace be upon them”: “Obama’s saying ‘Peace be upon them’ has other implications beyond being a purely Islamic turn of phrase never employed by Arabic-speaking Jews and Christians. First, it contradicts what a self-professed Christian believes because it implies that Jesus, like Moses and Muhammad, is dead; Christian theology holds him to have been resurrected, living, and the immortal Son of God. Second, including Muhammad in this blessing implies reverence for him, something as outlandish as a Jew talking about Jesus Christ. Third, a Christian would more naturally seek peace from Jesus rather than wish peace on him.”
In addition, Daniel Pipes observes that “Obama’s overblown and inaccurate description of Islam in the United States smacks of an Islamist mentality.” He elaborates:
“[Obama] drastically overestimates both the number and the role of Muslims in the United States, announcing in June 2009 that ‘if you actually took the number of Muslims Americans, we’d be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world.’ (Hardly: according to one listing of Muslim populations, the United States, with about 2.5 million Muslims, ranks about 47th largest.) Three days later, he gave a bloated estimate of ‘nearly 7 million American Muslims in our country today’ and bizarrely announced that ‘Islam has always been a part of America’s story. … since our founding, American Muslims have enriched the United States.’ Obama also announced the dubious fact, in Apr. 2009, that many Americans ‘have Muslims in their families or have lived in a Muslim-majority country.’ When ordering religious communities in the United States, Obama always gives first place to Christians but second place varies between Jews and Muslims, most notably in his Jan. 2009 inaugural speech: ‘The United States is a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus and non-believers.’ Obama so wildly overestimates the Muslim role in American life that they suggest an Islamic supremacist mentality specific to someone coming from a Muslim background.”
In 1971, Obama was sent back to Hawaii to be raised largely by his white, middle-class, maternal grandparents, and to attend the prestigious Punahou Academy. For only one month of his life, also when he was ten, Obama was visited by his biological father.
During his years in Hawaii, Obama attended Sunday school at the First Unitarian Church of Honolulu, which, according to a 2009 statement by its pastor, “has always been, and to this day still is, involved in political activism.” In the 1970s, First Unitarian served as a sanctuary for draft dodgers and had close ties to the radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), where Weatherman leader (and future Obama political alliy) Bill Ayers was a prominent figure.
Also in the Seventies, the Obama family became friendly with Frank Marshall Davis (1905-1987), a black writer and fellow Hawaiian resident. Davis wrote for the Honolulu Record (a Communist newspaper) and was a known member of the Soviet-controlled Communist Party USA (CPUSA). He soon became the young Barack Obama’s mentor and advisor.
In Dreams From My Father, Obama writes about Davis but does not reveal the latter’s full name, identifying him only as “a poet named Frank” — a man with much “hard-earned knowledge” who had known “some modest notoriety once” but was now “pushing eighty.” (Obama later confirmed to biographer David Maraniss that “Frank” was indeed Frank Marshall Davis.)
Obama in his book recounts how, just prior to heading off to Occidental College (in California) in 1979, he spent some time with “Frank and his old Black Power dashiki self.” Obama writes that “Frank” not only had told him that college was merely “an advanced degree in compromise,” but also had cautioned him not to “start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American way and all that sh–.”
As of December 1980, Obama was a doctrinaire Marxist who had been active in the anti-apartheid movement and had attended meetings of the Democratic Socialists of America. He believed that a Communist revolution in the U.S. was imminent, and that the recent election of Ronald Reagan to the presidency was nothing more than a minor set-back to that revolution.
In a February 16, 2001 interview, Obama made the following statements:
In his 2007 memoir Dreams from My Father, Obama wrote: “I spent the last two years of high school in a daze…. I kept playing basketball, attended classes sparingly, drank beer heavily, and tried drugs enthusiastically. I discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl.” (To hear an audio recording of Obama reciting those words, click here.) Obama also wrote this about his high-school years: “Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow [cocaine] when you could afford it.”
In his 2007 memoir Dreams from My Father, Obama recalls the following about his days at Occidental:
“To avoid being mistaken for a sellout,I chose my friends carefully. The more politically active black students. The foreign students. The Chicanos.The Marxist Professors and the structural feminists and punk-rock performance poets.We smoked cigarettes and wore leather jackets. At night,in the dorms,we discussed neocolonialism, [the socialist, anti-colonialist revolutionary] Franz Fanon,Eurocentrism,and patriarchy. When we ground out our cigarettes in the hallway carpet or set our stereos so loud that the walls began to shake, we were resisting bourgeois society’s stifling constraints. We weren’t indifferent or careless or insecure. We were alienated.”
A 1979 graduate of Occidental College named John C. Drew describes himself as having been “part of that same progressive/international network of friends and activists” that Barack Obama belonged to during his days at Occidental. Drew cites an article in which Occidental College political theory professor Roger Boesche, who taught at least two of Obama’s political science courses, was quoted as saying that Obama, as a student, “…hung out with the young men and women who were most serious about issues of social justice.” Adds Drew:
“What’s missing from this story is that the ‘social justice’ young men and women were, in fact, simply left-wing socialists. They found a hero in Professor Boesche because he made complex texts easier to understand and because he encouraged them to fight even though they would be inevitably ground up in the gears of history. The outrage that Obama felt when he got a ‘B’ from Boesche was due to the idea that Obama felt he was held to a higher standard because he was a revolutionary who shared Boesche’s perspective. Obama felt he was held to a higher standard because he was one of the student[s] in greatest ideological agreement with what Professor Boesche was teaching at that time.
“In one instance, Obama politely confronted his professor over lunch at a local sandwich shop called The Cooler. ‘He’d gotten a grade he was disappointed in,’ Boesche recalls. ‘I told him he was really smart, but he wasn’t working hard enough.’ Other students might have backed off at that point. But not Obama. He politely told Boesche he should have gotten a better grade. Even today, Obama recalls the demeaning mark. He told journalist David Mendell, author of a recent book called Obama, From Promise to Power, that he ‘was pissed’ about it because he thought he was being graded ‘on a different curve.’ Boesche still insists he gave him the grade he deserved.
“Later, I taught with Boesche while he was a visiting professor in the political science department at Williams College. Boesche was still a socialist by 1989 and was still an ardent advocate of John Rawls, A Theory of Justice. Boesche was proud, in a paper he wrote, that he had gotten a message from Rawls basically confirming Rawls’ socialist perspective. All of this, of course, should just do more to confirm the reliability of my impression that the young Barack Obama was already an ardent socialist Marxist revolutionary when I met him in the fall of 1980.
“Intellectually, we should gain a fresh and realistic perspective on the true nature (and depth) of Barack Obama’s ideology when we combine [Glenn] Beck’s understanding of social justice, with Boesche’s comments on Obama’s social justice friendships, and my comments that Obama was undoubtedly a Marxist revolutionary between 1980-1981.”
In February 2010, John C. Drew shared the following recollections he had of Obama:
“I met Barack Obama face-to-face later that same year in late December 1980. By then, I was in my second year of graduate school at Cornell. I was doing my first, official teaching. The young Ann Coulter was a student in Theodore J. Lowi’s Introduction to American Government course in 1980 and I was the teaching assistant responsible for guiding her small group discussion section. Back on the West Coast for Christmas break, I was visiting a girlfriend who was still attending Occidental College who introduced me to ‘Barry’ Obama and his housemate Mohammed Hasan Chandoo, a wealthy Pakistani student.
“My most vivid memory of my time visiting with Obama was the way he strongly argued a rather simple-minded version of Marxist theory. I remember he was passionate about his point of view. As I remember, he was articulating the same Marxist theory taught by various professors at Occidental College. Based on my more detailed studies at Cornell, I remember I made a strong argument that his Marxist ideas were not in line with contemporary reality – particularly the practical experience of Western Europe.
“I went on to become an assistant professor of political science at Williams College in MA, and won the William Anderson Award from the American Political Science Association for my doctoral dissertation….
“I think my experience with the young Barack Obama is useful evidence of why he was able to win the trust and support of Bill Ayers, Bernardine Dohrn and Alice Palmer. In 1995, Alice Palmer represented the state of Illinois’ 13th District. After she decided to run for Congress she named Obama as her hand-picked successor. Palmer’s extremist ideology is evident in an article she wrote for the Communist Party USA’s newspaper, the People’s Daily World, now the People’s Weekly World, in June 1986. Amazingly, it detailed her experience at the 27th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union….
“My gut feeling is that Obama won the trust of folks like Alice Palmer because he never surrendered that uncompromising, Marxist socialist ideology I saw in him as a sophomore at Occidental College back in 1980.
“My graduation photo helps me remember my days as a young revolutionary and the moments when – like Barack Obama – I sincerely believed a Marxist socialist revolution was coming to turn everything around and to create a new, fairer and more just world. Today, however, it pains me to write that I’m deeply ashamed of my radical views. With more maturity, I understand the true meaning of that red arm band. It is especially painful for me to look at it knowing that my time at Occidental College aligned with the brutal Khmer Rouge period (1975-1979) which covered the rule of Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge over Cambodia.
“Nevertheless, I’m happy to revisit this unhappy chapter of my life if it helps others better understand the sincere commitment to Marxist revolutionary thought which animated me and the young President Obama.”
In August 2023, Tablet magazine published a lengthy interview that journalist David Samuels conducted with author David Garrow, author of the book Rising Star, a 2017 biography of Barack Obama’s early years. In the course of the interview, the topic of Alex McNear, Obama’s white girlfriend at Occidental College, was raised in the following exchange:
SAMUELS: How did you get those three women, Obama’s college and law school girlfriends, to give you Obama’s love letters to them, and what was the most surprising thing you found in them?
GARROW: With Alex [McNear], I think she wanted to have her role known. So when Alex showed me the letters from Barack, she redacted one paragraph in one of them and just said, “It’s about homosexuality.”
And then sometime, right about when Rising Star came out, Alex indirectly sold the original, sold those letters, and they ended up at Emory [University]. So Emory put out a press release saying, “We’ve gotten these rare letters by Barack Obama.” And no mention of this paragraph that was too sensitive. None of the papers mentioned it. Emory didn’t mention it.
So I sent one of my oldest friends, [Emory University professor of politics and history] Harvey Klehr […] I emailed Harvey, said, “Go to the Emory archives.” He’s spent his whole life at Emory, but they won’t let him take pictures. So Harvey has to sit there with a pencil and copy out the graf where Barack writes to Alex about how he repeatedly fantasizes about making love to men.
From Occidental, Obama transferred to Columbia University in New York City, where he graduated in 1983 with a degree in political science. In 1982, Obama’s biological father — Barack Obama, Sr. — died in a car crash.
In Dreams From My Father, Obama reveals that during his student years at Columbia he “went to socialist conferences at Cooper Union and African cultural fairs in Brooklyn.” Specifically, these were Socialist Scholars Conferences (SSC), which featured the elite of socialist academia as well as union activists, political revolutionaries, reformers, and opponents of “corporate greed.” According to the libertarian writer Trevor Loudon, guest speakers at these conferences included “members of the Communist Party USA and its offshoot, the Committees of Correspondence, as well as Maoists, Trotskyists, black radicals, gay activists and radical feminists.”
In 1983, when he was a student at Columbia University, Obama wrote a lengthy article for the school magazine attributing U.S.–Soviet tensions mostly to America’s “war mentality” and the “twisted logic” of the Cold War. By Obama’s reckoning, President Reagan’s defense buildup served only to exacerbate the “silent spread of militarism” and reflected America’s “distorted national priorities” rather than a commitment to creating a “nuclear-free world.”
Matthew Vadum and Jeremy Lott provide an excellent explanation of what a community organizer does. They write:
“What does a “community organizer” do? Good question. Ever since former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani mocked Senator Barack Obama at the Republican convention in September 2008, for the senator’s community organizing past, and Alaska Governor Sarah Palin said that her previous experience as mayor was “sort of like a ‘community organizer,’ except that you have actual responsibilities,” [Obama’s] supporters have been furiously spinning this one. They’ve suggested a fanciful interpretation of “community organizer” that includes organizing church picnics and bake sales. Some have even had the cheek to suggest that Jesus Christ was a community organizer.
“In that spirit, we suggest a better historical precedent: Lenin. Community organizing is leftist, anti-capitalist agitation. It’s about making people angry so they push for change, and the kind of change they seek is rarely good. Community organizers are essentially professional political activists who believe that something is terribly wrong with America and that they are the ones we’ve been waiting for to fix it.”
Dr. Thomas Sowell, the eminent Stanford University sociologist, offers this assessment of what community organizers do:
“For ‘community organizers’ … racial resentments are a stock in trade…. What does a community organizer do? What he does not do is organize a community. What he organizes are the resentments and paranoia within a community, directing those feelings against other communities, from whom either benefits or revenge are to be gotten, using whatever rhetoric or tactics will accomplish that purpose.”
Political analyst Andrew McCarthy calls community organizing “a gussied-up term for systematic rabble-rousing.” He adds:
“The quest for raw power is the gospel according to the seminal organizer, Saul Alinsky…. In Obama terminology, ‘hope’ is the possibility that power may be wrested from society’s ‘haves’ by infiltrating their political system. Just as Willie Sutton robbed banks because that’s where the money is, organizers must target the very system they reject to acquire power—making themselves attractive to the great mass of society despite having ‘contemptuously rejected the values and the way of life of the middle class,’ as Alinsky put it. This is the formula for transformational ‘change’: the exploitation of power, once acquired, to redistribute wealth and elevate the left’s professionally aggrieved vanguard.
“Though this quest for ‘social justice’ must tread through regular politics, it cannot be achieved by regular politics. That’s where the pitchforks come in. ‘Direct action’—as Mr. Obama’s longtime confederates at ACORN (the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now) euphemistically put it—is the organizer’s signal tactic. Action, Alinsky taught, is the very point of organizing. ‘Direct action’ is barely disguised code for the occasional use, and the omnipresent threat, of mob mischief, unleashed against the law-abiding bourgeoisie. The organizer prospers by defining down our ethical boundaries—or, looked at the other way, by legitimizing extortion….
“In the short run, the goal of direct action is sheer extortion—i.e., to coerce capitulation in the controversy of the moment, be it a private business’s right to compensate employees or build production plants as it sees fit; a state’s sovereign power to defend itself by enforcing immigration laws; or Leviathan’s grab of one-sixth of the U.S. economy under the banner of ‘healthcare reform.’ Over the long haul, the goal is to demoralize civil society, to convince opponents that the ‘change’ in regular processes—particularly, reliance on the law—will be unavailing.”
Obama entered the work of community organizing in the spring of 1985, when he took a job with the New York branch of the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (USPIRG), the brainchild of Ralph Nader. According to his PIRG supervisor, Eileen Hershenov, Obama had already developed a solid grasp of the radical strategies that underlay community organizing – specifically, how the Left used the “community” umbrella to advance its radical agendas. Thus he was comfortable discussing everything from the tactics of Saul Alinsky, the godfather of community organizing, to the organizing strategies of socialist groups like the (defunct) Students for a Democratic Society. As Hershenov would recall, in her discussions with Obama they “were thinking about how you engage the world: what works coming out of the sixties, what structures and models worked and what didn’t.”
The structures and models of the Left that worked, according to those in the organizational universe where Obama now found himself, were strategies of moderation in pursuit of radical goals, of working within the “system” in order to undermine it. These were tactics devised by European Marxists such as Andre Gorz, who advocated proposing “non-reformist reforms.” Such reforms were designed to change the very nature of the market system and to take the anti-capitalist struggle to a new level. As Gorz himself put it, these reforms, which he also called “anti-capitalist reforms,” can be “sudden, just as they can be gradual,” but they all share one common aim: they must be “strong enough to establish, maintain, and expand those tendencies within the [capitalist] system which serve to weaken capitalism and to shake its joints.” Whatever form the reforms took, in other words, the ultimate goal was to bring capitalism to its knees and to transform the system from within.
Next, a small group of 20-odd churches in Chicago offered Obama a job helping residents of poor, predominantly black, Far South Side neighborhoods. Accepting that opportunity, Obama moved to Chicago and in June 1985 took a job with the Developing Communities Project (DCP), which was funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and a number of Catholic churches in Chicago’s South Side. One of those churches was St. Sabina Church, headed by Father Michael Pfleger (who would become a devoted supporter of Obama’s political career).
The executive director of DCP was Jerry Kellman — a veteran Sixties protester and a Saul Alinksy-trained community organizer who aimed to use the “social justice” teachings of the radical Catholic left to spread left-wing politics into the churches. Together, Obama and Kellman targeted black churches in particular.
Obama worked with DCP for the next three years on initiatives that ranged from job training to school reform to hazardous-waste cleanup. Obama would later describe, in his book Dreams from My Father, what his duties were with DCP:
“The day after the rally, Marty [Jerry Kellman in Dreams] decided it was time for me to do some real work, and he handed me a long list of people to interview. Find out their self-interest, he said. That’s why people become involved in organizing—because they think they’ll get something out of it. Once I found an issue enough people cared about, I could take them into action. With enough actions, I could start to build power. Issues, action, power, self-interest. I liked these concepts. They bespoke a certain hardheadedness, a worldly lack of sentiment; politics, not religion.”
Obama’s expenses at DCP were signed and approved by the late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, a far-leftist who founded the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD); who famously credited Mikhail Gorbachev, not Reagan or John Paul II, with having brought about the collapse of the Soviet Union; and who called for a “consistent ethic of life,” in an effort to persuade anti-abortion Catholics to likewise embrace pacifism and wealth redistribution.
David Freddoso, author of the 2008 book The Case Against Barack Obama, summarizes Obama’s community-organizing efforts as follows:
“He pursued manifestly worthy goals; protecting people from asbestos in government housing projects is obviously a good thing and a responsibility of the government that built them. But [in every case except one] the proposed solution to every problem on the South Side was a distribution of government funds …”
Nor was Obama reluctant to use intimidation as a tactic. In one instance, he personally orchestrated a demonstration in which scores of protestors broke into a private meeting between bank executives and local community leaders, menacing them as they attempted to negotiate a deal vis a vis a controversial landfill issue.
In August 2023, Tablet magazine published a lengthy interview that journalist David Samuels conducted with author David Garrow, author of the book Rising Star, a 2017 biography of Barack Obama’s early years. In an introductory piece preceding the interview transcript, Samuels wrote:
“There is a fascinating passage in Rising Star … in which the historian [Garrow] examines Obama’s account in Dreams from My Father of his breakup with his longtime Chicago girlfriend, Sheila Miyoshi Jager [a white/Asian woman who lived with Obama during the 1980s]. In Dreams, Obama describes a passionate disagreement following a play by African American playwright August Wilson, in which the young protagonist defends his incipient embrace of Black racial consciousness against his girlfriend’s white-identified liberal universalism. […]
“Yet what Garrow documented, after tracking down and interviewing Sheila Miyoshi Jager, was an explosive fight over a very different subject. In Jager’s telling, the quarrel that ended the couple’s relationship was not about Obama’s self-identification as a Black man. And the impetus was not a play about the American Black experience, but an exhibit at Chicago’s Spertus Institute about the 1961 trial of Adolf Eichmann.
“At the time that Obama and Sheila visited the Spertus Institute, Chicago politics was being roiled by a Black mayoral aide named Steve Cokely who, in a series of lectures organized by Louis Farrakhan’s Nation of Islam, accused Jewish doctors in Chicago of infecting Black babies with AIDS as part of a genocidal plot against African Americans. The episode highlighted a deep rift within the city’s power echelons, with some prominent Black officials supporting Cokely and others calling for his firing.
“In Jager’s recollection, what set off the quarrel that precipitated the end of the couple’s relationship was Obama’s stubborn refusal, after seeing the exhibit, and in the swirl of this Cokely affair, to condemn Black racism. While acknowledging that Obama’s embrace of a Black identity had created some degree of distance between the couple, she insisted that what upset her that day was Obama’s inability to condemn Cokely’s comments. It was not Obama’s Blackness that bothered her, but that he would not condemn antisemitism.”
In 1987, when Obama was executive director of DCP, he asked Chicago mayor Harold Washington to support a community organizing project whose advisory board would include Obama’s pastor Jeremiah Wright, the leftist Catholic priest Michael Pfleger, Illinois State Senator Emil Jones, and John Ayers (brother of former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers).
In a May 4, 1987 letter to Mayor Washington, Obama wrote: “Developing Communities Project (DCP) has brought together churches, blocks clubs and civic organizations to address some of the most pressing issues of the Far South Side – unemployment and low educational achievement among our youth.” He added that after “discussions with a wide range of actors in the field of education, … we have drafted the enclosed proposal for a Career Education Network.” “We are not seeking any city funding for our program,” Obama continued. “[H]owever, we do seek your whole-hearted support and endorsement of our initiative. We should therefore respectfully ask that within the next three or four weeks you agree to meet briefly with a small delegation of DCP leaders and the attached list of advisory committee members to discuss our proposal and your possible support for it.”
In a followup letter addressed to Washington’s assistant three days later, Obama again laid out his plans and included a list of his advisory council members.
Three of Obama’s mentors in Chicago were trained at the Saul Alinsky-founded Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF) in the Windy City. (The Developing Communities Project itself was an affiliate of the Gamaliel Foundation, whose modus operandi for the creation of “a more just and democratic society” is rooted firmly in the Alinsky method.) Alinsky was known for having helped to establish the aggressive political tactics that characterized the 1960s, and which have remained central to all subsequent revolutionary movements in the United States.
In the Alinsky model, “organizing” is a euphemism for “revolution” — a wholesale revolution whose ultimate objective is the systematic acquisition of power by a purportedly oppressed segment of the population, and the radical transformation of America’s social and economic structure. The goal is to foment enough public discontent, moral confusion, and outright chaos to spark the social upheaval that Marx, Engels, and Lenin predicted — a revolution whose foot soldiers view the status quo as fatally flawed and wholly unworthy of salvation. Thus, the theory goes, the people will settle for nothing less than that status quo’s complete collapse — to be followed by the erection of an entirely new system upon its ruins. Toward that end, they will be apt to follow the lead of charismatic radical organizers who project an aura of confidence and vision, and who profess to clearly understand what types of societal “change” is needed.
But Alinsky’s brand of revolution was not characterized by dramatic, sweeping, overnight transformations of social institutions. As Richard Poe puts it, “Alinsky viewed revolution as a slow, patient process. The trick was to penetrate existing institutions such as churches, unions and political parties.” Alinsky advised organizers and their disciples to quietly, subtly gain influence within the decision-making ranks of these institutions, and to introduce changes from that platform.
One of Obama’s early mentors in the Alinsky method, Mike Kruglik, would later say the following about Obama:
“He was a natural, the undisputed master of agitation, who could engage a room full of recruiting targets in a rapid-fire Socratic dialogue, nudging them to admit that they were not living up to their own standards. As with the panhandler, he could be aggressive and confrontational. With probing, sometimes personal questions, he would pinpoint the source of pain in their lives, tearing down their egos just enough before dangling a carrot of hope that they could make things better.”
For several years, Obama himself taught workshops on the Alinsky method.
“Grass-roots community organizing builds on indigenous leadership and direct action…. The debate as to how black and other dispossessed people can forward their lot in America is not new. From W. E. B. DuBois to Booker T. Washington to Marcus Garvey to Malcolm X to Martin Luther King, this internal debate has raged between integration and nationalism, between accommodation and militancy, between sit-down strikes and boardroom negotiations. The lines between these strategies have never been simply drawn, and the most successful black leadership has recognized the need to bridge these seemingly divergent approaches.”
Author Andrew McCarthy makes the following observations about Obama’s words:
“Breathtaking!… Lawfulness and lawlessness, thuggishness and regular politics—we’re not to divine any moral or ethical differences. They are just different ‘approaches’ to empowerment. They only ‘seem’ to be ‘divergent.’ It may be important to maintain the veneer of respect for legal processes, but it is just as legitimate to stretch or break the rules whenever necessary to achieve the desired outcome—social justice being a higher form of legitimacy than society’s rule of law. Separatism, menacing, and civil disobedience: none of these is beyond the pale; they are simply choices on the hard power menu Obama ‘bridges’ with soft power (i.e., the system’s mundane legal and political processes).”
As a young community organizer, Obama had close connections to the Midwest Academy, a radical training ground for activists of his political ilk. Probably the most influential community-organizing-related entity in America at that time, the Midwest Academy worked closely with the DSA and synthesized Saul Alinsky’s organizing techniques with the practical considerations of electoral politics. Emphasizing “class consciousness” and “movement history,” the Academy’s training programs exposed students to the efforts and achievements of veteran activists from earlier decades. Recurring “socialism sessions,” taught by Heather Booth, encompassed everything from Marx and Engels through Michael Harrington’s democratic socialism and the factional struggles of the Students for a Democratic Society, a radical organization that aspired to remake America’s government in a Marxist image. Knowing that many Americans would be unreceptive to straightforward, hard-left advocacy, the Midwest Academy in its formative years was careful not to explicitly articulate its socialist ideals in its organizing and training activities. The group’s inner circle was wholly committed to building a socialist mass movement, but stealthily rather than overtly. As Midwest Academy trainer Steve Max and the prominent socialist Harry Boyte agreed in a private correspondence: “Every social proposal that we make must be [deceptively] couched in terms of how it will strengthen capitalism.” This strategy of hiding its own socialist agendas below the proverbial radar, earned the Academy the designation “crypto-socialist organization” from Stanley Kurtz.
“Nearly every thread of Obama’s career runs directly or indirectly through the Midwest Academy,” says Kurtz, and, as such, it represents “the hidden key to Barack Obama’s political career.” The author elaborates:
“Obama’s organizing mentors had ties to [the Midwest Academy]; Obama’s early funding was indirectly controlled by it; evidence strongly suggests that Obama himself received training there; both Barack and Michelle Obama ran a project called ‘Public Allies’ that was effectively an extension of the Midwest Academy; Obama’s first run for public office was sponsored by Academy veteran Alice Palmer; and Obama worked closely at two foundations for years with yet another veteran organizer from the Midwest Academy, Ken Rolling. Perhaps more important, Barack Obama’s approach to politics is clearly inspired by that of the Midwest Academy.”
In the late 1980s, Obama and Thomas Ayers (father of former Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers) worked together on education issues in Chicago. In response to a Chicago summit exposing the poor quality of public education in the city, Chicago United — an organization founded by Thomas Ayers — formed a community advocacy coalition called the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools, or ABCs. Thomas Ayers included Obama, who at the time was director and lead organizer of the Developing Communities Project, in this coalition.
According to Stanly Kurtz‘s book Radical in Chief, Obama in 1988 was deeply involved in an organization called UNO that “favored civil disobedience and tactics that went to extremes.” That year, Obama helped to plan a demonstration where a mob of some 100 activists burst into a private boardroom where bank officials were discussing plans to develop a landfill with Waste Management Corporation. As former Justice Department official J. Christian Adams puts it, “Obama and his UNO gang delivered their message of opposition and intimidation.”
In 1988 Obama applied for admission to Harvard Law School. At the time, a Muslim attorney and black nationalist named Khalid Abdullah Tariq al-Mansour asked civil rights activist Percy Sutton to send a letter of recommendation to his (Sutton’s) friends at Harvard on Obama’s behalf.
Al-Mansour formerly had been a close personal adviser to Huey Newton and Bobby Seale, having helped them establish the Black Panther Party in the 1960s. He thereafter became an advisor to a number of Saudi billionaires known for funding the spread of Wahhabi extremism in America. Al-Mansour also showed himself to be a passionate hater of the United States, Israel, and white people generally.
With al-Mansour’s help, Obama in 1988 was accepted by Harvard Law School, where he became president of the Harvard Law Review — which never published any of Obama’s work. He graduated magna cum laude in 1991.
From April to November of 1992, Obama served as the Director of “Illinois Project Vote,” which registered approximately 150,000 mostly poor, mostly Democratic voters in Chicago’s Cook County before that year’s presidential election.
Also in 1992, Obama married Michelle Robinson (now Michelle Obama).
In an interview published by the Daily Herald on March 3, 1990, Barck Obama said: “I feel good when I’m engaged in what I think are the core issues of the society, and those core issues to me are what’s happening to poor folks in this society…. There’s certainly racism here [at Harvard Law School]. There are certain burdens that are placed [on blacks], more emotionally at this point than concretely…. Hopefully, more and more people will begin to feel their story is somehow part of this larger story of how we’re going to reshape America in a way that is less mean-spirited and more generous. I mean, I really hope to be part of a transformation of this country.”
In 1991, a 30-year-old Barack Obama, who at the time was president of the Harvard Law Review and a well-known figure on the Harvard campus, spoke at a rally in support of Professor Derrick Bell. The godfather of Critical Race Theory, Bell was infamous for his anti-white views and his contention that America was an irredeemably racist country. At the rally in question, Obama encouraged his fellow students to “Open up your hearts and minds to the words of Professor Derrick Bell,” whom he openly embraced during the proceedings. He also described Bell as someone who spoke “the truth.” For a video of a portion of Obama’s speech, click here.
In May 2012, Breitbart News reported that it had obtained a 36-page promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama’s then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, which stated that Obama was “born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.” The booklet, which was distributed to people in the publishing industry, includes a brief biography of Obama and 89 other authors represented by Acton & Dystel. Obama’s biography in the booklet reads as follows:
“Barack Obama, the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review, was born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii. The son of an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister, he attended Columbia University and worked as a financial journalist and editor for Business International Corporation. He served as project coordinator in Harlem for the New York Public Interest Research Group, and was Executive Director of the Developing Communities Project in Chicago’s South Side. His commitment to social and racial issues will be evident in his first book, Journeys in Black and White.”
The booklet also included biographies of such notable authors as former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill, sports legends Joe Montana and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, and a number of Hollywood celebrities.
Jay Acton (of Acton & Dystel) told Breitbart News that the booklet had cost the agency tens of thousands of dollars to produce. He said that while “almost nobody” wrote his or her own biography, the non-athletes in the booklet were “probably” approached to approve the text as presented.
Twelve times between 1992 and 2004, Obama taught “Current Issues in Racism and the Law” at the University of Chicago Law School, where he was a part-time lecturer. The course summary, likely authored by Obama himself, told students they would examine “current problems in American race relations and the role the law has played in structuring the race debate”; how the legal system was affected by “the continued prevalence of racism in society”; “how the legal system has dealt with particular incidents of racism”; and “the comparative merits of litigation, legislation, and market solutions to the problems of institutional racism in American society.”
According to The New York Times, Obama taught only three subjects at the University of Chicago Law School: “race, rights and gender.” Adds the Times:
“His most traditional course was in the due process and equal protection areas of constitutional law. His voting rights class traced the evolution of election law, from the disenfranchisement of blacks to contemporary debates over districting and campaign finance. …His most original course, a historical and political seminar as much as a legal one, was on racism and law…
“[In] one class on race, he imitated the way clueless white people talked. ‘Why are your friends at the housing projects shooting each other?’ he asked in a mock-innocent voice. …
“Mr. Obama was especially eager for his charges to understand the horrors of the past, students say. He assigned a 1919 catalog of lynching victims, including some who were first raped or stripped of their ears and fingers, others who were pregnant or lynched with their children, and some whose charred bodies were sold off, bone fragment by bone fragment, to gawkers. … ‘Are there legal remedies that alleviate not just existing racism, but racism from the past?’ Adam Gross, now a public interest lawyer in Chicago, wrote in his class notes in April 1994.
“Liberals flocked to his classes[.] … After all, the professor was a progressive politician[.] …”
Karen McQuillan writes, in American Thinker, that Obama was a lecturer, and not a full professor, because he “did not have the qualifications to be a professor.” Adds McQuillan: “Obama never published a single law paper. He was hired by the University of Chicago when they learned he had been given a book contract on race and law directly after graduating from Harvard. There was no book – just the contract, which he later reneged on. This is not the normal level of accomplishment for a University of Chicago professor or even lecturer.”
In the early to mid-1990s, Obama worked with ACORN, a grassroots political organization that grew out of George Wiley‘s National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO). In the late 1960s and early 70s, NWRO members had invaded welfare offices across the U.S. — often violently — bullying social workers and loudly demanding every penny to which the law “entitled” them.
Obama also worked for Project Vote, ACORN’s voter-mobilization arm. Project Vote’s professed purpose was, and remains, to carry out “non-partisan” voter-registration drives; to counsel voters on their rights; and to litigate on behalf of the voting rights of the poor and the “disenfranchised.” Obama was the attorney for ACORN’s lead election-law cases, and he worked (unpaid) as a trainer at ACORN’s annual conferences, where he taught members of the organization the art of radical community organizing.
In 1993 Barack Obama took a job as a litigator of voting rights and employment cases with the law firm Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland, P.C. (a.k.a. Davis Miner). That same year, he also became a lecturer at the University of Chicago Law School.
In 1994 Obama worked for Davis Miner on a case titled Barnett v. Daley, where he was part of a legal team that challenged the racial makeup of Chicago’s voting districts. The Obama team sought to raise the number of black super-majority districts from 19 to 24. According to the judge in the case, Richard Posner, Obama and his fellow litigators held that “no black aldermanic candidate in Chicago has ever beaten a white in a ward that had a black majority of less than 62.6 percent, and it is emphatic that the ward in which the population is 55 percent black is not a black ward — is indeed a white ward, even though only 42 percent of its population is white.”
In a 1995 class action lawsuit known as Buycks-Roberson v. Citibank, Obama and his fellow Davis Miner attorneys represented the plaintiffs in charging that Citibank was making too few loans to black applicants. The suit demanded that the bank grant mortgages to an equal percentage of minority and non-minority mortgage applicants. Under pressure, Citibank settled the case three years later after agreeing to increase its lending to unqualified applicants. (These so-called “subprime” loans set the stage for the cataclysmic housing, banking, and economic crisis of 2008 — a crisis which the American public blamed largely on Republicans, and which therefore essentially sealed Obama’s presidential victory that year.)
Notwithstanding Obama’s support for the very policies that caused the housing crisis, he would speak about the crisis as though it were the result of forces unrelated to those policies. In August 2013, for instance, he said: “So the income of the top 1 percent nearly quadrupled from 1979 to 2007, but the typical family’s incomes barely budged. And towards the end of those three decades, a housing bubble, credit cards, a churning financial sector was keeping the economy artificially juiced up, so sometimes it papered over some of these long-term trends. But by the time I took office in 2009 as your president, we all know the [housing] bubble had burst. And it cost millions of Americans their jobs and their homes and their savings.”
In an October 28, 1994 NPR interview, Obama discussed American Enterprise Institute scholar Charles Murray’s controversial new book, The Bell Curve: Intelligence and Class Structure in American Life. He accused Murray of racism, and of caring too little about early childhood education prevention programs like Head Start. He claimed that: “[Murray is] interested in pushing a very particular policy agenda, specifically the elimination of affirmative action and welfare programs aimed at the poor. With one finger out to the political wind, Mr. Murray has apparently decided that white America is ready for a return to good old-fashioned racism so long as it’s artfully packaged and can admit for exceptions like Colin Powell. It’s easy to see the basis for Mr. Murray’s calculations.”
Further, Obama attributed Americans’ overall opposition to affirmative action to a declining economy: “After watching their incomes stagnate or decline over the past decade, the majority of Americans are in an ugly mood and deeply resent any advantages, real or perceived, that minorities may enjoy.”
Obama also said it would be “just plain stupid” — and would indicate “a moral deficit” — to oppose making a taxpayer-funded “investment” in an expansion of government programs for children and low-income workers: “Real opportunity would mean quality prenatal care for all women and well-funded and innovative public schools for all children … a job at a living wage for everyone who was willing to work …”
In 1995, Obama sued, on behalf of ACORN, for the implementation of the Motor Voter law in Illinois. Jim Edgar, the state’s Republican governor, opposed the law because he believed that allowing voters to register using only a postcard would breed widespread fraud.
ACORN would later invite Obama to help train its staff. Moreover, Obama eventually would sit on the Board of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which gave a number of sizable grants to ACORN — including $45,000 in 2000, $75,000 in 2001, and $70,000 in 2002.
Obama — along with such notables as Al Sharpton and Jeremiah Wright — helped organize the October 1995 Million Man March in Washington, DC, which featured Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan. Said Obama in the immediate aftermath of the March:
“What I saw was a powerful demonstration of an impulse and need for African-American men to come together to recognize each other and affirm our rightful place in the society…. Historically, African-Americans have turned inward and towards black nationalism whenever they have a sense, as we do now, that the mainstream has rebuffed us, and that white Americans couldn’t care less about the profound problems African-Americans are facing.”
In a 1995 interview, Obama made reference to a hypothetical “white executive living out in the suburbs, who doesn’t want to pay taxes to inner city children for them to go to school.”
In the same 1995 interview, Obama said:
“I worked as a community organizer in Chicago. I was very active in low-income neighborhoods, working on issues of crime and education and employment, and seeing that in some ways, certain portions of the African American community are doing as bad if not worse, and recognizing that my fate remained tied up with their fates, that my individual salvation is not going to come about without a collective salvation for the country. Unfortunately I think that recognition requires that we make sacrifices, and this country has not always been willing to make the sacrifices necessary to bring about a new day and a new age.
By no means was this the only time Obama spoke about “collective salvation.” In a 1998 radio interview he said: “… my individual salvation is not going to come about without a collective salvation for the country. Um, unfortunately I think that recognition requires that we make sacrifices and this country has not always been willing to make the sacrifices necessary to bring about a new day and a new age.”
In 2004, while promoting his book Dreams from My Father, Obama said: “My individual salvation depends on our collective salvation.”
In a Northwestern University commencement speech in June 2006, Obama said: “[W]hat I’ve found in my life is that my individual salvation depends on our collective salvation. Because it’s only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you’ll realize your true potential, that you’ll become full grown.”
In the aforementioned 1995 interview, Obama said:
“… [T]he truth of the matter is that many of the problems that Africa faces, whether it’s poverty or political suppression or ethnic conflict is just as prominent there and can’t all be blamed on the effects of colonialism. What it can be blamed on is some of the common factors that affect Bosnia or Los Angeles or all kinds of places on this earth, and that is the tendency for one group to try to suppress another group in the interest of power or greed or resources or what have you.
In a December 28, 1995 interview published in the Hyde Park Citizen newspaper, Obama explained his views on income inequality in the United States:
“In an environment of scarcity, where the cost of living is rising, folks begin to get angry and bitter and look for scapegoats. Historically, instead of looking at the top 5% of this country that controls all the wealth, we turn towards each other, and the Republicans have added to the fire.”
In that same interview, Obama said that his perspective on the “top 5%” had been shaped by his experiences abroad:
“It’s about power. My travels made me sensitive to the plight of those without power and the issues of class and inequalities as it relates to wealth and power. Anytime you have been overseas in these so-called third world countries, one thing you see is the vast disparity of wealth of those who are part of power structure and those outside of it.”
In the mid-1990s, Obama developed a friendship with fellow Chicagoans Bill Ayers and his wife Bernardine Dohrn, university professors who hosted a fundraiser at their home to introduce Obama to their neighbors during his first run for the Illinois state senate in 1996. (This fundraiser was likely organized by the socialist New Party.) Ayers (who contributed money to Obama’s 1996 campaign) and Dohrn had been leaders of the 1960s domestic terrorist group Weatherman, a Communist-driven splinter faction of Students for a Democratic Society. The pair had participated personally in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972. To this day, both have remained unrepentant about their former terrorist activities and their hatred of the United States.
There is compelling evidence suggesting that Ayers contributed heavily, if not entirely, to the writing of Obama’s 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father.
When questioned about his relationship with Ayers during an April 2008 Democratic primary debate, Obama responded:
“This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who is a professor of English in Chicago, who I know, and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He is not somebody who I exchange ideas from [with] on a regular basis. And the notion that somehow, as a consequence of me knowing somebody who engaged in detestable acts forty years ago when I was eight years old, somehow reflects on me and my values doesn’t make much sense … [T]his kind of game, in which anybody who I know, regardless of how flimsy the relationship is, [that] somehow their ideas could be attributed to me, I think the American people are smarter than that. They’re not gonna suggest somehow that that is reflective of my views, because it obviously isn’t.”
But in reality, Obama’s ties to Ayers were deep and longstanding. In 1995, for instance, Obama was appointed as the first Chairman of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge (CAC), a “school reform organization” founded by Ayers, who would later write, in his book Teaching Toward Freedom, that his educational objective was to “teach against oppression” as embodied in “America’s history of evil and racism, thereby forcing social transformation.”
When National Review Online writer Stanley Kurtz in 2008 asked the Obama presidential campaign about the nature of its candidate’s connection to Ayers and the CAC, the campaign issued a statement claiming that Ayers had not been involved in the “recruitment” of Obama to the CAC board in 1995. But when Kurtz reviewed the CAC archives at the Richard J. Daley Library at the University of Illinois, he found that Ayers in fact had been one of five members of a working group that assembled the initial CAC board which hired Obama.
“Ayers founded CAC and was its guiding spirit,” Kurtz wrote in September 2008. “No one would have been appointed the CAC chairman without his approval.” According to Kurtz, the CAC archives show that Obama and Ayers worked as a team to advance the foundation’s agenda — with Obama responsible for fiscal matters while Ayers focused on shaping educational policy. The archived documents further reveal that Ayers served as an ex-officio member of the board that Obama chaired through CAC’s first year; that Ayers served with Obama on the CAC governance committee; and that Ayers worked with Obama to write CAC’s bylaws.
A September 2008 WorldNetDaily report offers still more details:
“Ayers made presentations to board meetings chaired by Obama. Ayers also spoke for the Chicago School Reform Collaborative before Obama’s board, while Obama periodically spoke for the board at meetings of the collaborative … According to the documents, the CAC granted money to far-leftist causes, such as the radical Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, or ACORN, which …has done work on behalf of Obama’s presidential campaign.”
WorldNetDaily reported further that “while Obama chaired the board of the CAC, more than $600,000 was granted to an organization founded by Ayers and run by Mike Klonsky, a former top communist activist. Klonsky was leader of the Marxist-Leninist Communist Party, which was effectively recognized by China as the all-but-official U.S. Maoist party.” Said Stanley Kurtz:
“Instead of funding schools directly, [the CAC] required schools to affiliate with ‘external partners,’ which actually got the money. Proposals from groups focused on math/science achievement were turned down. Instead CAC disbursed money through various far-left community organizers, such as ACORN.”
Kurtz has provided the following synopsis of the CAC/Ayers agendas:
“The CAC’s agenda flowed from Mr. Ayers’s educational philosophy, which called for infusing students and their parents with a radical political commitment, and which downplayed achievement tests in favor of activism. In the mid-1960s, Mr. Ayers taught at a radical alternative school, and served as a community organizer in Cleveland’s ghetto.
“In works like ‘City Kids, City Teachers’ and ‘Teaching the Personal and the Political,’ Mr. Ayers wrote that teachers should be community organizers dedicated to provoking resistance to American racism and oppression. His preferred alternative? ‘I’m a radical, Leftist, small-c-communist,’ Mr. Ayers said in an interview in Ron Chepesiuk’s, ‘Sixties Radicals,’ at about the same time Mr. Ayers was forming CAC.”
Between 1995 and 1999, Obama and CAC distributed $110 million to a variety of leftist education enterprises for “experiments” in Chicago’s public schools.
On February 25, 1996, Obama (who was then a candidate for the 13th Illinois Senate District) was a guest panelist at a “townhall meeting on economic insecurity,” sponsored and presented by the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). His fellow panelists included William Julius Wilson (a longtime DSA activist from the Center for the Study of Urban Inequality); University of Chicago professor Michael Dawson; and DSA National Political Committee member Joseph Schwartz. In his remarks, Obama discussed how government could play a “constructive” role in improving society.
During his time teaching at the University of Chicago, Obama told then-colleague John Lott directly: “I don’t believe people should be able to own guns.”
As a candidate for the Illinois State Senate in 1996, Obama promised to support a ban on “the manufacture, sale & possession of handguns.”
In 1998 Obama supported a ban on the sale of all semi-automatic guns.
Years later, while running for the U.S. Senate in 2004, Obama spoke in favor of federal legislation to block citizens nationwide from receiving concealed-carry permits. “National legislation will prevent other states’ flawed concealed-weapons laws from threatening the safety of Illinois residents,” he said.
That same year (2004), Obama spoke in favor of banning gun sales within five miles of a school or park, which would have effectively shut down almost all gun stores.
During his U.S. Senate tenure, Obama supported Washington, DC’s comprehensive gun ban, which prevented district residents from possessing handguns even in their own homes; required that long guns be kept locked and disassembled; and lacked a provision allowing the guns to be reassembled in the event of an emergency.
In December 1997 Obama wrote a blurb praising Ayers’ recently published book, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of Juvenile Court, calling it “a searing and timely account of the juvenile court system, and the courageous individuals who rescue hope from despair.”
A notable attendee at the aforementioned political gatherings which Ayers and Dohrn hosted on behalf of Obama (in the mid-1990s) was Democratic state senator Alice J. Palmer (of Illinois’ 13th District), who quickly developed a friendly relationship with Obama. Prior to her stint in politics, Palmer had worked for the Black Press Institute and was editor of the Black Press Review. During the Cold War, she supported the Soviet Union and spoke out against the United States. In the 1980s she served as an executive board member of the U.S. Peace Council, which the FBI identified as a Communist front group (and which was an affiliate of the World Peace Council, an international Soviet front). Palmer participated in the World Peace Council’s Prague assembly in 1983 — just as the USSR was launching its “nuclear freeze” movement, a scheme that would have frozen Soviet nuclear and military superiority in place.
State senator Palmer was instrumental in Obama’s entry into politics. In 1995 Palmer decided to pursue an opportunity to run for a higher office when Mel Reynolds, the congressman from Illinois’ 2nd District, resigned from the House of Representatives amid a sexual scandal involving him and an underage campaign volunteer. As Palmer prepared to leave the state senate, she hand-picked Obama as the person she most wanted to fill her newly vacated senate seat. Toward that end, she introduced Obama to party elders and donors as her preferred successor, and helped him gather the signatures required for getting his name placed on the ballot.
But in November 1995, Jesse Jackson, Jr. defeated Palmer in a special election for Reynolds’ empty congressional seat. At that point, Palmer filed to retain the Democratic nomination for the state senate seat she had encouraged Obama to pursue; that seat would be up for grabs in the November 1996 elections. She asked Obama to politely withdraw from the race and offered to help him find an alternative position elsewhere.
But Obama refused to withdraw, so Palmer resolved to run against him (and two other opponents who also had declared their candidacy) in the 1996 Democratic primary. To get her name placed on the ballot, Palmer hastily gathered more than the minimum number of signatures required. Obama promptly challenged the legitimacy of those signatures and charged Palmer with fraud. A subsequent investigation found that a number of the names on Palmer’s petition were invalid, thus she was knocked off the ballot. (Names could be eliminated from a candidate’s petition for a variety of reasons. For example, if a name was printed rather than written in cursive script, it was considered invalid. Or if the person collecting the signatures was not registered to perform that task, any signatures that he or she had collected likewise were nullified.)
Obama also successfully challenged the signatures gathered by his other two opponents, and both of them were disqualified as well. Consequently, Obama ran unopposed in the Democratic primary and won by default.
“I liked Alice Palmer a lot,” Obama would later reflect. “I thought she was a good public servant. It [the process by which Obama had gotten Palmer’s name removed from the ballot] was very awkward. That part of it I wish had played out entirely differently.”
In 1995 Barack Obama sought the endorsement of the so-called New Party for his 1996 state senate run. He was successful in obtaining that endorsement, and he used a number of New Party volunteers as campaign workers.
Co-founded in 1992 by Daniel Cantor (a former staffer for Jesse Jackson‘s 1988 presidential campaign) and Joel Rogers (a sociology and law professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison), the New Party was a socialist political coalition whose objective was to endorse and elect leftist public officials — most often Democrats. The New Party’s short-term objective was to move the Democratic Party leftward, thereby setting the stage for the eventual rise of new socialist third party.
Most New Party members hailed from the Democratic Socialists of America and ACORN. The party’s Chicago chapter also included a large contingent from the Committees of Correspondence, a Marxist coalition of former Maoists, Trotskyists, and Communist Party USA members.
On April 7, 2010, Trevor Loudon of NewZealblogsopt reported:
Obama was involved as early as 1993, with a New Party “sister” organization – Progressive Chicago. This organization was formed by members of the New Party as a support group for “progressive” candidates. It’s main instigators included New Party members Madeline Talbott of Chicago ACORN and Dan Swinney, a Chicago labor unionist….Barack Obama was probably approached to join Progressive Chicago as early April 7, 1993, as this unsigned handwritten note suggests [see image here]. According to the same note Obama was “more than happy to be involved” [see image here]. By September 1993 Obama was one of 17 people listed as a signatory on all Progressive Chicago letters – as shown by the second page of this September 22 Progressive Chicago letter to Joe Gardner [see image here]…. It appears beyond doubt that Barack Obama was involved, more than two years before his Illinois State Senate run, with a New Party founded, “sister organization” – Progressive Chicago.”
In a 2010 interview, Carl Davidson, a Marxist activist who helped establish the New Party, recalled Obama’s involvement with the New Party: “A subcommittee met with [Obama] to interview him to see if his stand on the living wage and similar reforms was the same as ours. We determined that our views on these overlapped, and we could endorse his campaign in the Democratic Party.”
Not only did Obama seek the New Party’s endorsement in the mid-Nineties. By 1996, Obama himself had become a member of the New Party. When author Stanley Kurtz revealed this in late October 2008, the Obama campaign vehemently denied Kurtz’s claim, calling it a “crackpot smear.” But in June 2012, Kurtz proved conclusively that Obama had indeed been a member of the New Party. Wrote Kurtz:
“Recently obtained evidence from the updated records of Illinois ACORN at the Wisconsin Historical Society now definitively establishes that Obama was a member of the New Party. He also signed a ‘contract’ promising to publicly support and associate himself with the New Party while in office.
“Minutes of the meeting on January 11, 1996, of the New Party’s Chicago chapter read as follows:
“Barack Obama, candidate for State Senate in the 13th Legislative District, gave a statement to the membership and answered questions. He signed the New Party ‘Candidate Contract’ and requested an endorsement from the New Party. He also joined the New Party.
“Consistent with this, a roster of the Chicago chapter of the New Party from early 1997 lists Obama as a member, with January 11, 1996, indicated as the date he joined.”
In a 1995 story in the Chicago Reader, Obama was quoted saying: “In America, we have this strong bias toward individual action. You know, we idolize the John Wayne hero who comes in to correct things with both guns blazing. But individual actions, individual dreams, are not sufficient. We must unite in collective action, build collective institutions and organizations.”
“The right wing talks about this but they keep appealing to that old individualistic bootstrap myth: get a job, get rich, and get out. Instead of investing in our neighborhoods, that’s what has always happened. Our goal must be to help people get a sense of building something larger…. People are hungry for community; they miss it. They are hungry for change….
“The right wing, the Christian right, has done a good job of building … organizations of accountability, much better than the left or progressive forces have. But it’s always easier to organize around intolerance, narrow-mindedness, and false nostalgia. And they also have hijacked the higher moral ground with this language of family values and moral responsibility.
“Now we have to take this same language—these same values that are encouraged within our families—of looking out for one another, of sharing, of sacrificing for each other—and apply them to a larger society. Let’s talk about creating a society, not just individual families, based on these values. Right now we have a society that talks about the irresponsibility of teens getting pregnant, not the irresponsibility of a society that fails to educate them to aspire for more.”
Another key supporter of Obama’s 1996 state senate campaign was Carl Davidson, a Marxist who in the 1960s had been a national secretary of Students of a Democratic Society and a national leader of the anti-Vietnam War movement. In 1969 Davidson (along with Tom Hayden) helped launch the “Venceremos Brigades,” which covertly transported hundreds of young Americans to Cuba to help harvest sugar cane and interact with Havana’s communist revolutionary leadership. (The Brigades were organized by Fidel Castro‘s Cuban intelligence agency, which trained “brigadistas” in guerrilla warfare techniques, including the use of arms and explosives.)
In 1988 Davidson founded Networking for Democracy (NFD), a program encouraging high-school students to engage in “mass action” aimed at “tearing down the old structures of race and class privilege” in the United States “and around the world.” In 1992 he became a leader of the newly formed Committees of Correspondence, a Marxist coalition of former Maoists, Trotskyists, and members of the Communist Party USA. In the mid-1990s Davidson was a major player in the Chicago branch of the aforementioned New Party.
Obama’s 1996 senate campaign also secured the endorsement of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), the largest socialist organization in the United States and the principal U.S. affiliate of the Socialist International. Obama’s affiliation with DSA was longstanding, as evidenced by his reference, in Dreams From My Father, to the fact that during his student years at Columbia University he “went to socialist conferences at Cooper Union,” a privately funded college for the advancement of science and art. From the early 1980s until 2004, Cooper Union had served as the usual venue of the annual Socialist Scholars Conference. According to Trevor Loudon, guest speakers at these conferences included “members of the Communist Party USA and its offshoot, the Committees of Correspondence, as well as Maoists, Trotsyists, black radicals, gay activists and radical feminists.” London observes that “Obama speaks of ‘conferences’ plural, indicating [that] his attendance was not the result of accident or youthful curiosity.”
Obama won his 1996 race for the Illinois state senate in the 13th District, which mostly represented poor South Side blacks but also a few wealthy neighborhoods.
In 1998, Obama attended a performance of “The Love Song of Saul Alinsky,” a play which was being staged at the Terrapin Theater in Chicago. Following the performance, Obama took the stage and participated in a panel discussion about the show. Writer Andrew Breitbart described the play as follows:
“So, what’s in the play? It truly is a love song to Alinsky. In the first few minutes of the play, Alinsky plays Moses – yes, the Biblical Moses – talking to God. The play glorifies Alinsky stealing food from restaurants and organizing others to do the same, explaining, ‘I saw it as a practical use of social ecology: you had members of the intellectual community, the hope of the future, eating regularly for six months, staying alive till they could make their contributions to society.’
“In an introspective moment, Alinsky rips America: My country … ‘tis of whatthehell / And justice up a tree … How much can you sell / What’s in it for me. He grins about manipulating the Christian community to back his programs. He talks in glowing terms about engaging in Chicago politics with former Mayor Kelly. He rips the McCarthy committee, mocking, ‘Everyone was there, when you think back – Cotton Mather, Hester Prynn, Anne Hutchinson, Tom Paine, Tom Jefferson … Brandeis, Holmes … Gene Debs and the socialists … Huey Long … Imperial Wizards of all stripes … Father Coughlin and his money machine … Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd … and a kicking chorus of sterilized reactionaries singing O Come, All Ye Faithful …’
“And Alinsky talks about being the first occupier – shutting down the O’Hare Airport by occupying all the toilet stalls, using chewing gum to ‘tie up the city, stop all traffic, and the shopping, in the Loop, and let everyone at City Hall know attention must be paid, and maybe we should talk about it.’ As Alinsky says, ‘Students of the world, unite! You have nothing to lose but your juicy fruit.’
“The play finishes with Alinsky announcing he’d rather go to Hell than Heaven. Why? ‘More comfortable there. You see, all my life I’ve been with the Have-Nots: here you’re a Have-Not if you’re short of money, there you’re a Have-Not if you’re short of virtue. I’d be asking more questions, organizing them. They’re my kind of people – Hell would be Heaven for me.’
“That’s The Love Song of Saul Alinsky. It’s radical leftist stuff, and it revels in its radical leftism.”
Joining Obama on the discussion panel were the following individuals:
Quentin Young: Young is a longtime supporter of communist causes, and a friend of William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn. He is also a strong supporter of a single-payer, government-run healthcare system.
Leon Despres: Despres knew Saul Alinsky for nearly half a century, and together they established the modern concept of “community organizing.” In 1937 Despres worked with secret Communist and Soviet spy Lee Pressman to support strikers at Republic Steel in Chicago. He also worked with another Communist Party front, the Chicago Civil Liberties Committee.
Also in 1937, Despres and his wife met with, and delivered a suitcase of “clothing” to, Leon Trotsky, who was then in Mexico City, hiding from Stalin’s assassins.Timuel Black: U.S. military intelligence believed that Black, who worked closely with the Socialist Party in the 1950s, was also a member of the Communist Party. In the early 1960s Black was a leader of the Hyde Park Community Peace Center, where he worked alongside former radical Trotskyist Sydney Lens and the Communist Quentin Young. Black served as a contributing editor to the Hyde Park/Kenwood Voices, a newspaper run by a Communist Party member. By 1970, Black was on the advisory council of the Chicago Committee to Defend the Bill of Rights, a group controlled by the Communist Party. Black says he has been friends with William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, “going back to 1968, since long before I knew Barack.”
Studs Terkel: Terkel was a sponsor of the Scientific and Cultural Conference for World Peace in 1949, which was arranged by a Communist Party USA front organization.
To view a list of additional individuals who participated in the panel discussion following the Alinsky play, click here.
In 1994 Obama joined the 12-member board of the Chicago-based Joyce Foundation, which targets its philanthropy in large measure toward organizations dedicated to the agendas of radical environmentalism, “social justice,” prison reform, and increased government funding for social services, particularly for minorities. Obama would remain a board member for eight years, during which time the Joyce Foundation made grants to such groups as the Chicago Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, the Children’s Defense Fund of Ohio, the Jane Addams Resource Corporation, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the World Wildlife Fund, the National Wildlife Federation, the Sierra Club Foundation, the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Izaak Walton League of America, the Union of Concerned Scientists, SUSTAIN, the Tides Center, the Environmental Working Group, the World Resources Institute, the League of Women Voters Education Fund, the Democracy 21 Education Fund, the Brennan Center for Justice, the Brookings Institution, Alliance For Justice, the Council on Foundations, the Center for Community Change, the National Network of Grantmakers, Physicians for Social Responsibility, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group Education Fund, the Nine to Five Working Women Education Fund, the Rockefeller Family Fund, Environmental Defense and the Urban Institute.
At an October 19, 1998 conference at Loyola University, Barack Obama said: “There has been a systematic … propaganda campaign against the possibility of government action and its efficacy. And I think some of it has been deserved…. The trick is, how do we structure government systems that pool resources and hence facilitate some redistribution, because I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody’s got a shot.”
At other points during his address, Obama stated that the “working poor” on welfare constituted a political voting bloc that could be harnessed to the advantage of Democrats. Specifically, he said that:
Obama also had been a board member of the Woods Fund of Chicago since 1993. In 1999 he was joined on this board by Bill Ayers, who would serve alongside Obama until the latter left the Fund in December 2002. (In 2002 — while Obama was still on the board — the Woods Fund made a grant to Northwestern University Law School’s Children and Family Justice Center, where Ayers’ wife, Bernardine Dohrn, was employed.)
In 2000, Obama ran against former Black Panther and incumbent congressman Bobby Rush in the Democratic Primary for the U.S. House of Representatives. Rush denounced Obama as an “elitist” who “wasn’t black enough,” and crushed him by nearly a two-to-one vote margin. Obama returned to the Illinois state senate for another four-year term.
As noted earlier, during his state senate years Obama was a lecturer at the University of Chicago law school, where he became friendly with Rashid Khalidi, a professor in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations. Obama and his wife were regular dinner guests at Khalidi’s Hyde Park home. Khalidi and his wife Mona had founded in 1995 the Arab American Action Network (AAAN), noted for its contention that Arab Americans face widespread discrimination in the United States, and for its view that Israel’s creation in 1948 was a “catastrophe” for Arab people. In 2001 and again in 2002, the Woods Fund of Chicago, while Obama served on its board, made grants totaling $75,000 to AAAN.
In 2003 Obama would attend a farewell party in Khalidi’s honor when the latter was leaving Chicago to embark on a new position at Columbia University. At this event (which was also attended by William Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn), Obama paid public tribute to Khalidi as someone whose insights had been “consistent reminders to me of my own blind spots and my own biases … It’s for that reason that I’m hoping that, for many years to come, we continue that conversation — a conversation that is necessary not just around Mona and Rashid’s dinner table,” but around “this entire world.” Khalidi then returned the favor, telling the largely pro-Palestinian attendees that Obama deserved their help in winning a U.S. Senate seat, stating, “You will not have a better senator under any circumstances.”
According to journalist John Batchelor, “AAAN vice-president Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada [a website that, like AAAN, refers to Israel’s creation as a “catastrophe”] has remembered Mr. Obama’s speaking in 1999 against ‘Israeli occupation’ at a charity event for a West Bank refugee camp; and Mr. Abunimah … has also recalled Mr. and Mrs. Obama at a fundraiser held for the then-Congressional candidate Obama in 2000 at Rashid and Mona Khalidi’s home, where Mr. Obama made convincing statements in support of the Palestinian cause.”
In a January 18, 2001 radio interview, Obama said: “There’s a lot of change going on outside of the Court that judges have to essentially take judicial notice of. I mean you’ve got World War II, you’ve got the doctrines of Nazism that we are fighting against, that start looking uncomfortably similar to what’s going on, back here at home.”
Shortly after Obama’s unsuccessful run for Congress in 2000, he was deeply in debt, with little cash at his disposal (his annual part-time salary as a state senator was $58,000) and a stagnant law practice that he had largely neglected during a year of political campaigning.
In early 2001 a longtime political supporter, Chicago entrepreneur Robert Blackwell, Jr., hired Obama to provide legal advice for his (Blackwell’s) growing technology firm, Electronic Knowledge Interchange (EKI). In exchange for his services, Blackwell paid Obama an $8,000 retainer each month for roughly a 14-month period — a total of $118,000.
In return for these payments, Obama pressured the Illinois state tourism board to send a $50,000 grant to EKI. He also issued a formal written request for Illinois officials to furnish a $50,000 tourism promotion grant to another Blackwell company, Killerspin, which sells equipment and apparel related to the sport of table tennis. The day after Obama wrote this letter, his U.S. Senate campaign received a $1,000 donation from Blackwell.
Killerspin would not receive the full $50,000 it was seeking that year, but only $20,000. With Obama’s help, however, the company eventually secured $320,000 in state grants between 2002 and 2004 to subsidize the table tennis tournaments it sponsored. As blogger Ed Morrissey observes: “This looks like a rather obvious quid pro quo…. In exchange for $118,000 in salary, Blackwell received $320,000 in state taxpayer money and influence at the highest level of state politics.”
Obama’s presidential campaign website reported that Blackwell in 2008 committed to raise between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama’s White House run that year.
Eight days after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Barack Obama issued the following statement, in which he: (a) asserted that the attacks had grown out of “a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair”; (b) exhorted Americans to be “unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent”; and (c) urged the U.S. “to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe.”
“Even as I hope for some measure of peace and comfort to the bereaved families, I must also hope that we as a nation draw some measure of wisdom from this tragedy. Certain immediate lessons are clear, and we must act upon those lessons decisively. We need to step up security at our airports. We must reexamine the effectiveness of our intelligence networks. And we must be resolute in identifying the perpetrators of these heinous acts and dismantling their organizations of destruction.
“We must also engage, however, in the more difficult task of understanding the sources of such madness. The essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others. Such a failure of empathy, such numbness to the pain of a child or the desperation of a parent, is not innate; nor, history tells us, is it unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity. It may find expression in a particular brand of violence, and may be channeled by particular demagogues or fanatics. Most often, though, it grows out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.
“We will have to make sure, despite our rage, that any U.S. military action takes into account the lives of innocent civilians abroad. We will have to be unwavering in opposing bigotry or discrimination directed against neighbors and friends of Middle Eastern descent. Finally, we will have to devote far more attention to the monumental task of raising the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe-children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores.”
On January 21, 2002—Martin Luther King Day—then-Illinois state senator Obama delivered a racially charged speech at a Chicago church, stating that “Enron executives did to their employees” was akin to “what Bull Connor did to black folks.” (Enron was an energy company that went bankrupt after its massive engagement in accounting fraud came to light in 2001, and left 20,000 employees suddenly jobless. Bull Connor was Birmingham, Alabama’s Commissioner of Public Safety in the 1960s, and became famous for directing fire hoses and police attack dogs against anti-segregation demonstrators in his city.)
Lamenting the large number of African American males “caught up in the criminal-justice system,” Obama said: “It’s hard to imagine that the powerful in our society would tolerate the burgeoning prison industrial complex if they imagined that the black men and Latino men that are being imprisoned were something like their sons.”
Obama also charged that having the public “education system … funded by [local] property taxes” is “fundamentally unjust.” “So you have folks up in Winnetka [Illinois], pupils who are getting five times as much money per student as students in the South Side of Chicago,” he stated.
Obama’s MLK Day speech was also drenched in the rhetoric of class warfare. He said: “The philosophy of nonviolence only makes sense if the powerful can be made to recognize themselves in the powerless. It only makes sense if the powerless can be made to recognize themselves in the powerful…. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but rich people are all for nonviolence. Why wouldn’t they be? They’ve got what they want. They want to make sure folks don’t take their stuff.”
Obama was an outspoken opponent of the Iraq War ever since it was first discussed as a possible means of unseating Saddam Hussein from power. On October 2, 2002, Obama gave an antiwar speech alongside Jesse Jackson on the very day that President Bush and Congress agreed on a joint resolution authorizing the use of force against Iraq. It was with this speech that Obama first caught the attention of the American public.
Suggesting that the prospect of war was largely a Republican ploy to distract voters from domestic issues that were impacting minorities negatively, Obama said:
“Now, let me be clear – I suffer no illusions about Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal man. A ruthless man. A man who butchers his own people to secure his own power. He has repeatedly defied U.N. resolutions, thwarted U.N. inspection teams, developed chemical and biological weapons, and coveted nuclear capacity. He’s a bad guy. The world, and the Iraqi people, would be better off without him….
“After September 11th, after witnessing the carnage and destruction, the dust and the tears, I supported this administration’s pledge to hunt down and root out those who would slaughter innocents in the name of intolerance, and I would willingly take up arms myself to prevent such tragedy from happening again. I don’t oppose all wars…. What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair, weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological agendas down our throats, irrespective of the costs in lives lost and in hardships borne….
“But I also know that Saddam poses no imminent and direct threat to the United States, or to his neighbors, that the Iraqi economy is in shambles, that the Iraqi military is a fraction of its former strength, and that in concert with the international community he can be contained until, in the way of all petty dictators, he falls away into the dustbin of history.”
Also in his 2002 speech, Obama said that instead of using force to depose Saddam, America should “fight” for democratic reforms in the Middle East, for stronger international nuclear safeguards, and for energy independence:
“Those are the battles that we need to fight. Those are the battles that we willingly join – the battles against ignorance and intolerance, corruption and greed. Poverty and despair.”
The Chicago rally was staged by a group called Chicagoans Against the War. Some of the key organizers were Carl Davidson (the aforementioned Marxist antiwar activist and Obama supporter), BettyLu Saltzman (an officer of the New Israel Fund), and Marilyn Katz (a former Students for a Democratic Society radical in the Sixties).
In July 2004, Obama delivered the keynote address at the Democratic National Convention in Boston. He used the speech to introduce himself to a national audience while impugning the Bush administration and the War in Iraq.
In 2004 Obama ran for one of Illinois’ two seats in the U.S. Senate. The Chicago Tribune endorsed Obama’s campaign. More importantly, the Tribune persuaded a Democrat-appointed judge in California to open the sealed divorce records of Obama’s Republican opponent to the media. The resulting sex scandal, based on allegations in the divorce records by a Hollywood actress eager to prevent her ex-husband from getting custody of their children, prompted the Republican to resign from the race.
Human Events magazine provides the details:
One month before the 2004 Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate, Obama was down in the polls, about to lose to Blair Hull, a multimillionaire securities trader. But then the Chicago Tribune leaked the claim that Hull’s second ex-wife, Brenda Sexton, had sought an order of protection against him during their 1998 divorce proceedings.
Those records were under seal, but as The New York Times noted: “The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had ‘worked aggressively behind the scenes’ to push the story.” Many people said Axelrod had “an even more significant role — that he leaked the initial story.”
Both Hull and his ex-wife opposed releasing their sealed divorce records, but they finally relented in response to the media’s hysteria — 18 days before the primary. Hull was forced to spend four minutes of a debate detailing the abuse allegation in his divorce papers, explaining that his ex-wife “kicked me in the leg and I hit her shin to try to get her to not continue to kick me.”
After having held a substantial lead just a month before the primary, Hull’s campaign collapsed with the chatter about his divorce. Obama sailed to the front of the pack and won the primary. Hull finished third with 10 percent of the vote.
Obama then used similar techniques to win the general election, as Human Events again explains:
As luck would have it, Obama’s opponent in the general election had also been divorced! Jack Ryan was tall, handsome, Catholic — and shared a name with one of Harrison Ford’s most popular onscreen characters! He went to Dartmouth, Harvard Law and Harvard Business School, made hundreds of millions of dollars as a partner at Goldman Sachs, and then, in his early 40s, left investment banking to teach at an inner city school on the South Side of Chicago.
Ryan would have walloped Obama in the Senate race. But at the request of — again — the Chicago Tribune, California Judge Robert Schnider unsealed the custody papers in Ryan’s divorce five years earlier from Hollywood starlet Jeri Lynn Ryan, the bombshell Borg on “Star Trek: Voyager.”
Jack Ryan had released his tax records. He had released his divorce records. But both he and his ex-wife sought to keep the custody records under seal to protect their son.
Amid the 400 pages of filings from the custody case, Jack Ryan claimed that his wife had had an affair, and she counterclaimed with the allegation that he had taken her to “sex clubs” in Paris, New York and New Orleans, which drove her to fall in love with another man….
Ryan had vehemently denied her allegations at the time, but it didn’t matter. The sex club allegations aired on “Entertainment Tonight,” “NBC Nightly News,” ABC’s “Good Morning America,” “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno,” and NBC’s “Today” show. CNN covered the story like it was the first moon landing….
Four days after Judge Schnider unsealed the custody records, Ryan dropped out of the race for the horror of (allegedly) propositioning his own wife and then taking “no” for an answer.
Alan Keyes stepped in as a last-minute Republican candidate.
And that’s how Obama became a U.S. senator. He destroyed both his Democratic primary opponent and his Republican general election opponent with salacious allegations about their personal lives taken from “sealed” court records.
With a $10 million campaign war chest from contributors, and with no Republican opponent who could garner much support, Obama had an open road to become the next U.S. Senator from Illinois. His friend and political supporter, the longtime Chicago alderwoman Dorothy Tillman, helped him win the voting in Chicago’s predominantly black wards. He also received valuable backing from the Jesse Jacksons, Junior and Senior, and Rev. Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition.
From 2004-2012, Obama received many donations from high-ranking officials and/or board members of Islamist organizations. Specifically, he received a total of $106,725 in contributions from individuals affiliated with the North American Islamic Trust, the Islamic Society of North America, the Muslim American Society, the Muslim Alliance in North America, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, the Muslim Students Association, the SAAR Foundation (SAFA Trust Group), the International Institute of Islamic Thought, the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.
In March 2005 Obama joined forces with the Web-based, grassroots political network MoveOn — which seeks to use its fundraising clout to push the Democratic Party ever further to the political left — in an effort to raise campaign money for West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd’s 2006 reelection bid. In a letter to MoveOn members, Obama wrote: “You and millions of others, working through MoveOn, have helped change the way politics works in this country.”
In a 2005 commencement address, Obama described the conservative philosophy of government as one that promises “to give everyone one big refund on their government, divvy it up by individual portions, in the form of tax breaks, hand it out, and encourage everyone to use their share to go buy their own health care, their own retirement plan, their own child care, their own education, and so on.” “In Washington,” said Obama, “they call this the Ownership Society. But in our past there has been another term for it, Social Darwinism, every man or woman for him or herself. It’s a tempting idea, because it doesn’t require much thought or ingenuity.”
“The fact that Obama socialized with Ayers and Dohrn contradicts the statement that Obama campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt gave the New York Times in 2008: ‘Mr. LaBolt said the men … have not spoken by phone or exchanged e-mail messages since Mr. Obama began serving in the United States Senate in January 2005 and last met more than a year ago when they bumped into each other on the street in Hyde Park.’
“That statement now appears to be ‘Clintonian’ in its dance around the truth. Obama and Ayers may not have emailed or spoken by phone, but they had, we now know, spoken face to face–at least on July 4, 2005, and perhaps at other times as well.”
In September 2005, Obama spoke at a town hall meeting of the Congressional Black Caucus. Nominally devoted to the subject of “eradicating poverty,” the meeting was replete with condemnations of President George W. Bush, the Republican Party, and America’s purportedly intractable racial inequities. Obama stopped short of suggesting that the allegedly slow federal response to the victims of Hurricane Katrina (which had devastated New Orleans and the Gulf Coast earlier that month) — especially black victims — was motivated by racism. But he nonetheless claimed that racism was the cause of what he perceived to be the Bush administration’s lack of sensitivity to the struggles of African Americans generally:
“The incompetence was colorblind. What wasn’t colorblind was the indifference. Human efforts will always pale in comparison to nature’s forces. But [the Bush administration] is a set of folks who simply don’t recognize what’s happening in large parts of the country.”
Blacks in hurricane-hit areas were poor, Obama further charged, because of the Bush administration’s “decision to give tax breaks to Paris Hilton instead of providing child care and education …”
In 2005, then-U.S. Senator Obama delivered a speech wherein he not only emphasized government’s duty to expand the welfare state, but also ascribed the success of many people to “blind luck.” Said Obama: “The fact is that there is a major ideological battle taking place right now in this country. And I think that we can win it if we can articulate it. Essentially, the other side has an easier job, because their argument is essentially, what is labeled ‘The Ownership Society’ …. says ‘We’re all in it by ourselves.’ So if you’ve got a healthcare problem, we’re gonna set up a healthcare account, we’ll put $5,000 in it, and from that point on, you’re on your own. You worry about healthcare inflation. Retirement? Retirement account. Figure out how much you can save. It doesn’t matter that your wages haven’t gone up in 4 or 5 years. It doesn’t matter that you’re being squeezed by all sorts of costs, from $3 a gallon gasoline to the cost of higher education for your child. You figure out how to save. There’s a certain attractiveness in its simplicity [to] that idea. And it’s particularly attractive, I think, for those of us who are successful, because it allows us to be self-congratulatory and say, in fact, the cream rises to the top. … denying the role of blind luck that played in getting everybody here, or the sacrifices of a generation of women doing somebody else’s laundry and looking after somebody else’s children, to get you here.”
In that same 2005 speech, Obama derided the “passive indifference” that allegedly had caused the Bush administration to respond slowly to the poor, black victims of Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans. He also mocked the administration’s supposedly elitist attitude and inability to empathize with people who were not white and affluent. Said Obama: “You know, after the hurricane and its aftermath, there was a lot of discussion about the fact that those who were impacted by the achingly slow response on the part of the federal government were disproportionately black … [W]hat was revealed was a passive indifference that is common in our culture, common in our society, that of course, a sense that of course once the evacuation order is issued, that you will hop in your SUV and fill it up with $100 worth of gasoline and load up your trunk with some sparkling water and take your credit card and check in to the nearest hotel until the storm passes. And the notion that folks couldn’t do that simply did not register in the minds of those in charge. And it’s not surprising that it didn’t register, because it hasn’t registered for the last 6, 7, 8, 20, 50, 75, 100 years.”
At a Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) meeting in 2005, a broadly smiling Obama posed for a photograph with the Jew-hating black nationalist Louis Farrakhan. Also posing with Farrakhan and Obama were Mustapha Farrakhan (Minister Farrakhan’s security chief and son), Joshua Farrakhan (his other son), and Leonard Farrakhan Muhammad (his chief of staff and son-in-law). In addition, the photo included a Farrakhan ally named Willie F. Wilson, who had once led a protest against an Asian business by a mob shouting, “Fu** the Chinks”. The photographer, Nation Of Islam employee Askia Muhammad, subsequently hid the photo for the next 13 years, in order to protect Obama politically. As Muhammad explained in January 2018, he had “basically swor[n] secrecy” and handed over the picture to Farrakhan’s chief of staff and son-in-law, Leonard Farrakhan, who had kept the photo under wraps for 13 years.
In 2006 Obama endorsed the aforementioned Dorothy Tillman in the Third Ward race for the Chicago City Council. A passionate admirer of Louis Farrakhan, Tillman was a leading proponent of reparations for slavery. Claiming that America remains “one of the cruelest nations in the world when it comes to black folks,” Tillman continues to declare that the U.S. “owes blacks a debt.”
In December of 2006, Obama, who by then was contemplating a run for the presidency, met in New York with billionaire financier George Soros, who previously had hosted a fundraiser for Obama during the latter’s 2004 campaign for the U.S. Senate.
One of the most powerful men on earth, Soros is a hedge fund manager who has amassed a personal fortune estimated at about $7.2 billion. His management company controls billions more in investor assets. Since 1979, Soros’ foundation network — whose flagship is the Open Society Institute (OSI) — has dispensed more than $5 billion to a multitude of organizations whose objectives can be summarized as follows:
According to Andrew C. McCarthy, the former U.S. attorney who investigated the 1998 American embassy bombing in Kenya, charges that Obama interfered in Kenya’s internal politics possibly in violation of the Logan Act. That law bars Americans who are “without authority of the United States” from conducting relations “with any foreign government … in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States.”
“McCarthy says Obama undermined U.S. relations with a strong antiterrorism ally in an African region where al-Qaida operates. In 2006 … Obama campaigned for a pro-communist candidate running against Nairobi’s pro-American government – ‘in outrageous contravention of U.S. policy and, probably, federal law.’
“Obama spent six days barnstorming the Kenyan countryside in support of Raila Odinga, the socialist Luo who was seeking the presidency. Appearing with Odinga at campaign stops, Obama gave speeches accusing the sitting Kenyan president of being corrupt and oppressive, leaving the masses in poverty. Obama’s interference ‘was more than reckless,’ McCarthy writes. ‘It was borderline criminal (and that’s being generous).’
Earlier, Odinga had visited Obama in the U.S. – in 2004, 2005 and 2006 – and Obama had sent an adviser, Mark Lippert, to Kenya in early 2006 to plan a trip by the senator timed to coincide with Odinga’s campaign.
On January 16, 2007, Obama announced the creation of a presidential exploratory committee. Within hours after the announcement, Soros sent the senator a contribution of $2,100, the maximum amount allowable under campaign finance laws. Later that week, the New York Daily News reported that Soros would back Obama over Senator Hillary Clinton, whom he had supported in the past.
At the time Obama announced the formation of his exploratory committee, he had logged a mere 143 days of experience in the U.S. Senate (i.e., the number of days the Senate had been in session since his swearing in on January 4, 2005).
On February 10, 2007, Obama officially announced his candidacy for President. Possessing no experience in an executive office, Obama said: “I recognize that there is a certain presumptuousness in this, a certain audacity to this announcement. I know that I have not spent a long time learning the ways of Washington, but I have been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington have to change.”
Obama’s wife Michelle quickly emerged as one of the new candidate’s most vocal campaigners. In a February 2007 appearance with her husband on the television program 60 Minutes, Mrs. Obama implied that America’s allegedly rampant white racism posed a great physical threat to her husband. Said Mrs. Obama: “As a black man, you know, Barack can get shot going to the gas station.”
In a January 2008 speech, Mrs. Obama depicted the U.S. as a nation whose people are inclined to “hold on to [their] own stereotypes and misconceptions,” and to thereby “feel justified in [their] own ignorance.”
During a February 18, 2008 speech in Milwaukee on behalf of her husband’s campaign, she declared, “For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country, and not just because Barack has done well, but because I think people are hungry for change.”
In a March 4, 2007 campaign speech saluting the 1965 civil rights march in Selma, Alabama, Obama claimed that his parents were inspired by the righteous passions of Selma before he was born. Said Obama: “There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama, because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born. So don’t tell me I don’t have a claim on Selma, Alabama. Don’t tell me I’m not coming home when I come to Selma, Alabama.” “This is the site of my conception,” he added. “I am the fruits of your labor. I am the offspring of the movement.”
As reporter Tim Graham wrote for Newsbusters.org: “This was a pretty bizarre claim for a man who was born in Hawaii and whose parents never had a real marriage, and were literally on different continents by the time of the Selma march of 1965. Selma didn’t bring his parents together; they were officially divorced in 1964, and Obama’s father left Harvard in 1964 and returned to Kenya with another white American woman, named Ruth Baker, and they married there in 1964. His mother married Lolo Soetoro in 1965. The real story in no way resembled Obama’s mythical narrative that Selma inspired two people to fall in love and conceive a future president.”
The claim that Obama’s parents “never had a real marriage is based on Washington Post reporter-editor David Maraniss’s book Barack Obama: The Story, wherein the author explains that Obama’s parents were “married in name only.” Within a mere month after Obama’s birth, he and his mother had moved to Washington state, apart from the father. The father, for his part, left Hawaii in June 1962 and went to Harvard before eventually returning to Kenya with another white American woman, whom he married there in 1964. All this occurred before the 1965 civil rights marches in Selma.
At a March 2007 campaign event in Selma, Alabama, Obama appeared and marched with members of the New Black Panther Party, including Panther leader Malik Zulu Shabazz. The Panthers had come to Selma explicitly to support Obama. At one point, Shabazz and the other Panthers were photographed marching behind Obama with their fists raised in “Black Power” salutes. (Click here for photos of Obama sharing the same podium as the Panthers.) (Click here for a photo of Obama marching nearby Panther leaders in a large crowd.)
In a June 2007 campaign appearance at Hampton University in Virginia, then-presidential candidate Obama delivered a racially charged and, at times, angry speech to an audience of black ministers, including his longtime pastor at Trinity United Church of Christ, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. (Wright’s long tradition of anti-American, anti-white, anti-Semitic rhetoric had recently been exposed by a few media outlets.) In the speech, Obama explicitly defended Wright, saying: “They [the media] had stories about Trinity United Church of Christ, because we talked about black people in church.” Obama then mocked Wright’s critics, accusing them of having said, in essence: “Oh, that might be a separatist church.”
The Daily Caller said of the video showing Obama’s 2007 speech: “For nearly 40 minutes, using an accent he almost never adopts in public, Obama describes a racist, zero-sum society, in which the white majority profits by exploiting black America…. The spine of Obama’s speech is a parable about a pregnant woman shot in the stomach during the 1992 Los Angeles riots. The baby is born with a bullet in her arm, which doctors successfully remove. That bullet, Obama explains, is a metaphor for the problems facing black America, namely racism. And with that, Obama pivots to his central point: The Los Angeles riots and Hurricane Katrina have racism in common.”
In his Hampton speech, Obama shouted: “The federal response after Katrina was similar to the response we saw after the riots in LA. People in Washington, they wake up, they’re surprised: ‘There’s poverty in our midst! Folks are frustrated! Black people angry!’ Then there’s gonna be some panels, and hearings, and there are commissions and there are reports, and then there’s some aid money, although we don’t always know where it’s going—it can’t seem to get to the people who need it—and nothin’ really changes, except the news coverage quiets down and Anderson Cooper is on to something else.”
At that point in the speech, an agitated Obama told the crowd that he wanted to give “one example because this really steams me up.” He continued: “Down in New Orleans, where they still have not rebuilt twenty months later, there’s a law, federal law—when you get reconstruction money from the federal government—called the Stafford Act. And basically it says, when you get federal money, you gotta give a ten percent match. The local government’s gotta come up with ten percent. Every ten dollars the federal government comes up with, local government’s gotta give a dollar. Now here’s the thing, when 9-11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act—said, ‘This is too serious a problem. We can’t expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you gotta put in. Well, here’s ten dollars.’ And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, ‘Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with y’own money, here. Here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not gonna wait for you to scratch it together—because you’re part of the American family.’”
Obama then stated, angrily, that majority-black New Orleans was treated differently by the federal government: “What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money? Makes no sense! Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans, they [government leaders] don’t care about as much!”
In reality, by January of 2007—fully six months before Obama’s Hampton University speech—the federal government had sent at least $110 billion to areas damaged by Hurricane Katrina, as compared to just $20 billion that had been pledged to New York City after 9/11. Moreover, the federal government had, on occasion, waived the Stafford Act during its reconstruction efforts. For instance, on May 25, 2007—a few weeks before Obama’s Hampton speech—the Bush administration had sent an additional $6.9 billion to Katrina-affected areas with no requirements for local outlays. It is inconceivable that Obama, as a sitting U.S. Senator, could have been unaware of this.
Also in the Hampton speech, Obama made repeated appeals to racial solidarity: “We [blacks] should have had our young people trained to rebuild the homes down in the Gulf. We don’t need Halliburton doing it. We can have the people who were displaced doing that work…. We need additional federal public transportation dollars flowing to the highest need communities. We don’t need to build more highways out in the [affluent white] suburbs.” Rather, said Obama: “We should be investing in minority-owned businesses, in our neighborhoods, so people don’t have to travel from miles away.”
Obama ended his speech this way: “America will survive. Just like black folks will survive. We won’t forget where we came from. We won’t forget what happened 19 months ago, or 15 years ago, or 300 years ago”—an unambiguous reference to slavery.
At a December 2007 fundraiser in Tampa, Florida, Michelle Obama said: “What it reminded me of was our trip to Africa, two years ago, and the level of excitement that we felt in that country – the hope that people saw just in the sheer presence of somebody like Barack Obama – a Kenyan, a black man, a man of great statesmanship who they believe could change the fate of the world.”
Many notable individuals and organizations began to identify themselves publicly as Obama supporters. Among these were: George Clooney; Rob Reiner; Ariana Huffington; Jesse Jackson; Michael Eric Dyson; Manning Marable; Cornel West; Barbara Weinstein; Laurence Tribe; Jane Fonda; Tom Hayden; Michael Ratner; Danny Glover; Martin Sheen; Susan Sarandon; Spike Lee; Michael Moore; Bill Maher; Bruce Springsteen; Ted Kennedy; John Kerry; John Conyers; Luis Gutierrez; Barbara Lee; Major Owens; Jan Schakowsky; Bobby Rush; Pearl Jam; and ACORN.
On October 23, 2007, the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) website boasted that it had “actively supported Obama during the [Senate] primary election” of 2004. By election day 2010, the Party had scrubbed that fact from the original Web page — in an effort to prevent Obama’s critics from publicizing and exploiting evidence of that support.
In April 2007, Obama addressed the activist Al Sharpton’s National Action Network, telling an overflow crowd of listeners about his success as an Illinois lawmaker in making health insurance available to children and reducing the cost of prescription drugs for senior citizens. He also expressed his opposition to racial profiling in law enforcement, detailing how he had helped pass legislation against the practice. In addition, he asserted that society must help ex-convicts escape an “economic death sentence” by securing jobs for them when they leave prison.
Shortly after Barack Obama had declared his candidacy for President, his campaign set up “Camp Obama,” an intensive two-to-four-day training program for campaign volunteers. The camp’s curriculum and methods were modeled on the teachings of Saul Alinsky. Aaron Klein of WorldNet Daily reports the following:
“Jackie Kendall, executive director of the Midwest Academy, was on the team that developed and delivered the first Camp Obama training for volunteers aiding Obama’s campaign through the 2008 Iowa Caucuses…. Hans Riemer, who served as national youth vote director for the Obama campaign, said of the camp: ‘We are training them, teaching them how to be effective, showing them what their role is in our strategy to win the election … We’re taking people from raw enthusiasm to capable organizers.’
“Camp Obama director Jocelyn Woodards told reporters her job was to ensure volunteers had ‘real concrete ways to be involved and organize in their local communities. We go through everything from canvassing, phone banking, volunteer recruitment, our campaign message, how to develop an organization locally.’
Another radical who taught at Camp Obama was Robert Creamer, a Chicago political consultant who plead guilty to bank fraud and withholding taxes while heading Citizen Action of Illinois. Citizen Action is a spin off of Midwest Academy….”
Jodie Evans is a radical activist and Democratic fundraiser best known as the co-founder — along with Diane Wilson, Global Exchange’s Medea Benjamin, and a Wiccan calling herself Starhawk — of Code Pink for Peace. Evans also works closely with Leslie Cagan, the former co-chair of United For Peace and Justice. BigGovernment.com has chronicled Evans’ extensive ties to Barack Obama:
In 2007 Obama appointed Robert Malley, the Middle East and North Africa Program Director for the International Crisis Group, as a foreign policy advisor to his campaign. ICG receives funding from the Open Society Institute (whose founder, George Soros, serves on the ICG Board and Executive Committee). Prior to joining ICG, Malley had served as President Bill Clinton’s Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs (1998-2001); National Security Advisor Sandy Berger’s Executive Assistant (1996-1998); and the National Security Council’s Director for Democracy, Human Rights, and Humanitarian Affairs (1994-1996). Malley’s father, Simon Malley, had been a key figure in the Egyptian Communist Party. Rabidly anti-Israel, Simon Malley was a confidante of the late PLO leader Yasser Arafat; an inveterate critic of “Western imperialism”; a supporter of various leftist revolutionary “liberation movements,” particularly the Palestinian cause; a beneficiary of Soviet funding; and a supporter of the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan.
Robert Malley alleges that Israeli — not Palestinian — inflexibility caused the 2000 Camp David peace talks (brokered by Bill Clinton) to fail. He has penned several controversial articles — some he co-wrote with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to Arafat — blaming Israel and exonerating Arafat for that failure. (In 2008, the Obama campaign would sever its ties with Malley after the latter told the Times of London that he — Malley — had been in regular contact with Hamas as part of his work for ICG.)
“Thanks to all of you at Planned Parenthood for all the work that you are doing for women all across the country and for families all across the country—and for men, who have enough sense to realize you are helping them, all across the country….
“What kind of America will our daughters grow up in? Will our daughters grow up with the same opportunities as our sons? Will our daughters have the same rights, the same dreams, the same freedoms to pursue their own version of happiness? I wonder because there’s a lot at stake in this country today. And there’s a lot at stake in this election, especially for our daughters…. With one more vacancy on the [Supreme] Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a woman’s fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe versus Wade, and that is what is at stake in this election….
“We know that five men don’t know better than women and their doctors what’s best for a woman’s health. We know that it’s about whether or not women have equal rights under the law. We know that a woman’s right to make a decision about how many children she wants to have and when—without government interference—is one of the most fundamental freedoms we have in this country….
“I have worked on these issues for decades now. I put Roe at the center of my lesson plan on reproductive freedom when I taught Constitutional Law. Not simply as a case about privacy but as part of the broader struggle for women’s equality….
“We need more programs in our communities like the National Black Church Initiative which empowers our young people by teaching them about reproductive health, sex education and teen pregnancy within the context of the African-American faith tradition….
“Now the good news is that there has been a decline in the teen birth rate, in part due to the outstanding work of Planned Parenthood [i.e., the quarter-million abortions the organization performs each year]….
“When we have achieved as one voice a strong call for that kind of more fair and more just America, then I am absolutely convinced that we’re not just going to win an election but more importantly we’re going to transform this nation….”
Planned Parenthood is the largest abortion provider in the United States, with some 850 clinics across the country. It purports to offer “a wide range of medical and counseling services and health care education,” but its primary business is providing abortion services.
In 2004 Planned Parenthood completed 138 abortions for every adoption referral it made to an outside agency. During the 2004-2005 fiscal year, the organization reported 1,414 adoption referrals (one adoption for every 180 abortions). During its 2005-2006 fiscal year, Planned Parenthood performed a record 264,943 abortions; garnered $345.1 million in clinic income; took in $212.2 million in donations; and received record taxpayer funding of $305.3 million. Total income reached a record $902.8 million.
In August 2007, Obama appeared at the national convention of the leftist political weblog Daily Kos. According to a New York Times report: “Mr. Obama, who has built his candidacy upon the mantra of change, received booming applause when he was introduced to the audience of more than 1,500. When the moderator mentioned that the senator turned 46 years old on Saturday, several of those gathered in the ballroom began to serenade him with ‘Happy Birthday.’”
On December 4, 2007, Obama’s campaign announced the creation of its African American Religious Leadership Committee. Among the committee’s more notable members were Rev. Jeremiah Wright, Rev. Otis Moss III, and Rev. Joseph E. Lowery.
Jeremiah Wright and Trinity United Church of Christ
From March 1972 until February 2008, Jeremiah Wright — whom Barack Obama described as his “spiritual advisor,” his “mentor,” and “one of the greatest preachers in America” — was the pastor of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC), where Obama had attended services since 1988, and where he (Obama) had been a member since 1992. Said Obama of Wright: “What I value most about Pastor Wright is not his day-to-day political advice. He’s much more of a sounding board for me to make sure that I am speaking as truthfully about what I believe as possible and that I’m not losing myself in some of the hype and hoopla and stress that’s involved in national politics.”
Wright embraces the tenets of black liberation theology, which seeks to foment Marxist revolutionary fervor founded on racial rather than class solidarity. His writings, public statements, and sermons reflect his conviction that America is a nation infested with racism, prejudice, and injustice. Wright is also a strong supporter of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.
Controversy erupted in early 2008 when news reports surfaced detailing Wright’s incendiary comments. Obama initially dismissed the audio/video clips as mere “snippets,” claiming that the media were highlighting only Wright’s “most offensive words,” and that his statements had been taken out of context.
In May 2008, Obama finally made a move to distance himself from Wright and formally ended his membership in the church. As a result of the controversy, Wright stepped down from his position with the Obama campaign’s African American Religious Leadership Committee.
Long before the controversy over Wright had erupted, Rev. Jim Wallis, the founder of the Sojourners evalngelical ministry, told an interviewer: “If you want to understand where Barack [Obama] gets his feeling and rhetoric from, just look at Jeremiah Wright.”
During his years as a member of TUCC, Obama had given a great deal of money to the church. In 2005, for example, he gave $5,000. The following year he gave $22,500. According to their 2005-2007 tax returns, Obama and his wife donated a total of $53,770 to TUCC during the three years following Obama’s 2004 election to the U.S. Senate. Moreover, during his tenure as a board member of the Woods Fund, Obama helped steer $6,000 to Trinity.
Soon after the Wright controversy became public — and indeed threatened to derail Obama’s campaign — Wright was interviewed by author Edward Klein. Wright told Klein that “one of Barack’s closest friends” had send him (Wright) an e-mail offering him $150,000 “not to preach at all until the November presidential election.” Wright elaborated: “Barack said he wanted to meet me in secret, in a secure place…. So we met in the living room of the parsonage of Trinity United Church of Christ … just Barack and me…. And one of the first things Barack said was, ‘I really wish you wouldn’t do any more public speaking until after the November election…. It’s gonna hurt the campaign if you do that.’” Wright replied, “I don’t see it that way. And anyway, how am I supposed to support my family?” According to Wright, Obama then said:”I’m sorry you don’t see it the way I do. Do you know what your problem is? You have to tell the truth.”
Rev. Otis Moss III — whom Obama has extolled as a “wonderful young pastor” — served as assistant pastor of TUCC from 2006-2008 and then succeeded Jeremiah Wright as pastor when the latter retired. In one notable sermon, Moss likened the condition of contemporary black Americans to that of the hapless lepers referenced in biblical stories. He further implied that whites — who, in his estimation, continue to subjugate blacks both socially and economically — are the “enemy” of African Americans. “Our society creates thugs,” Moss added. “Children are not born thugs. Thugs are made and not born.”
Rev. Joseph Lowery is a prominent figure in the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. Viewing the United States as a nation that is “not committed to serious efforts to address the issue of racism,” he has warned that “white racism is gaining respectability again,” and that “there’s a resurgence of racism … at almost every level of life.” Lowery has expressed contempt for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, specifically because the black conservative Thomas opposes the use of affirmative action (i.e., race preferences) in business and academia. Says Lowery: “I have told [Thomas] I am ashamed of him, because he is becoming to the black community what Benedict Arnold was to the nation he deserted; and what Judas Iscariot was to Jesus: a traitor; and what Brutus was to Caesar: an assassin.”
Another notable religious supporter of Barack Obama is Rev. Michael Pfleger, a white Roman Catholic priest who has been the pastor of Saint Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago since 1981. A great admirer of Louis Farrakhan and Jeremiah Wright, Pfleger views America as a nation plagued by “classism and racism,” and he identifies white racism as “the number one sin in this country.” Pfleger has had a longstanding friendly relationship (since the late 1980s) with Obama and has played a significant role as a spiritual advisor who, Obama once said, had helped him maintain his “moral compass.”
Between 1995 and 2001, Pfleger contributed a total of $1,500 to Obama’s various political campaigns — including a $200 donation in April 2001, approximately three months after Obama (who was then an Illinois state senator) had announced that St. Sabina programs would be receiving $225,000 in state grants. (After Obama’s 2004 election to the U.S. Senate, he would earmark an additional $100,000 in federal tax money for Pfleger’s work.) Pfleger also has hosted a number of faith forums for Obama during his political campaigns.
In May 2008 Pfleger was a guest preacher at Trinity United Church of Christ (TUCC), where he condemned America as a racist nation that “has been raping people of color.” He also declared that Hillary Clinton felt a sense of “white entitlement” in her quest to become President. When portions of this sermon were aired widely by the media, Obama denounced Pfleger’s rhetoric as “divisive” and “backward-looking,” and soon thereafter he announced that he was leaving Trinity church.
Yet another religious figure affiliated with Obama is Rev. James Meeks, a Democratic member of the Illinois state senate, where he served alongside Obama from 2002-2004 (prior to Obama’s election to the U.S. Senate). Meeks also has been the pastor of Chicago’s 22,000-member Salem Baptist Church since 1985, and he was once the executive vice president of Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow/PUSH coalition.
In July 2006, Meeks sparked controversy when he delivered a heated sermon excoriating Chicago mayor Richard Daley and others regarding public-school funding issues. “We don’t have slave masters,” Meeks shouted. “We got mayors. But they [are] still the same white people who are presiding over systems where black people are not able … to be educated.” Also among the targets of Meeks’ wrath were African Americans who supported Daley. Said Meeks: “You got some preachers that are house niggers. You got some elected officials that are house niggers. And rather than them trying to break this up, they gonna fight you to protect this white man.”
Meeks is a longtime political ally of Barack Obama, who in 2003 and 2004 frequently campaigned at Salem Baptist Church during his run for the U.S. Senate. Meeks, meanwhile, appeared in television ads supporting Obama’s candidacy. In 2004, Obama personally selected Meeks to endorse him in a radio ad. In a 2004 interview with the Chicago Sun-Times, Obama described Meeks as an adviser to whom he looked for “spiritual counsel.” In 2007 Meeks served on Obama’s exploratory committee for the presidency. The Obama campaign website listed Meeks as one of the candidate’s “influential black supporters.” A Meeks endorsement of Obama was featured on that same website in 2008. Also in 2008, Meeks was named as an Illinois superdelegate pledged to Obama for the Democratic convention in Denver, Colorado.
For his 2008 presidential run, Obama formed a Black Advisory Council whose members included, most notably: (a) Marxist professor Cornel West, a longtime member of the Democratic Socialists of America and a great admirer of Obama’s former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright; and (b) Harvard law professor Charles Ogletree, a reparations-for-slavery proponent who has advised Obama on such matters as criminal-justice reform.
In 2007, Obama had appeared with Cornel West at a Harlem, New York fundraiser attended by some 1,500 people; it was Obama’s first campaign visit to Harlem, and it came shortly after the senator had announced his candidacy for President. At the event, West vehemently denounced the “racist criminal-justice system” of the “American empire.” He then introduced Obama to the crowd, saying: “He is my brother and my companion and comrade.” When obama took the microphone, he expressed his gratitude to West, calling him “not only a genius, a public intellectual, a preacher, an oracle … he’s also a loving person.” The senator then asked the audience to give West a round of applause. (Click here for video.)
After winning the Iowa Caucus in January 2008, Obama delivered a victory speech in which he urged his supporters to join him in demonstrating “the courage to remake the world as it should be,” and to help him “change this country, brick by brick, block by block.”
After Obama’s victory in the Iowa Caucus, longtime Communist Party USA supporter Frank Chapman — who had previously chaired the National Alliance Against Racist & Political Oppression and served as a board member of the U.S. Peace Council, both Communist Party fronts — wrote a letter that was published in the January 12, 2008 edition of the CPUSA publication, Peoples Weekly World:
“Now, beyond all the optimism I was capable of mustering, Mr. Obama won Iowa! He won in a political arena 95 percent white. It was a resounding defeat for the manipulations of the ultra-right and their right-liberal fellow travelers. Also it was a hard lesson for liberals who underestimated the political fury of the masses in these troubled times.
“Obama’s victory was more than a progressive move; it was a dialectical leap ushering in a qualitatively new era of struggle. Marx once compared revolutionary struggle with the work of the mole, who sometimes burrows so far beneath the ground that he leaves no trace of his movement on the surface. This is the old revolutionary ‘mole,’ not only showing his traces on the surface but also breaking through.
“The old pattern of politics as usual has been broken. It may not have happened as we expected it to happen but what matters is that it happened. The message is clear: we can and must defeat the ultra-right, by uniting the broadest possible coalition that will represent an overwhelming majority of the people in a new political dynamic. We must quickly shed yesterday’s political perspective and get in step with the march of events.”
During a Democratic presidential debate on January 21, 2008, Obama expressed his belief that Republican politicians had failed to provide adequate opportunities for the social and economic advancement of minorities:
“I am absolutely convinced that white, black, Latino, Asian, people want to move beyond our divisions, and they want to join together in order to create a movement for change in this country. The Republicans may have a different attitude…. The policies that they have promoted have not been good at providing ladders for upward mobility and opportunity for all people.”
Also in January 2008, Obama’s relationship with a federally indicted real estate developer came to light when rival candidate Hillary Clinton said, during a South Carolina Democratic Party presidential debate: “I was fighting against … [Republican] ideas when you were practicing law and representing your contributor, Rezko, in his slum landlord business in inner city Chicago.” Clinton’s reference was to Tony Rezko, a Syrian-born, Chicago-based restaurateur and real estate developer who had been one of the first major financial contributors to Barack Obama’s political campaigns in the 1990s. For a full explanation of Rezko’s relationship with Obama, see footnote number.
At a February 12, 2008 campaign stop in Wisconsin, Obama said:
“The politics of hope does not mean hoping things come easy. Because nothing worthwhile in this country has ever happened unless somebody somewhere stood up when it was hard, stood up when they were told, no you can’t, and said, yes we can. And where better to affirm our ideals than here in Wisconsin, where a century ago the progressive movement was born. It was rooted in the principle that the voices of the people can speak louder than special interests, that citizens can be connected to their government and to one another, and that all of us share a common destiny, an American Dream.”
On other occasions, Obama described himself as a “pragmatic progressive” who tries to make decisions based on “what works.”
In February 2008 Louis Farrakhan called Obama “a herald of the Messiah.” “Barack has captured the youth,” said the Nation Of Islam leader, referring to the passionate support Obama had drawn from young people in America. “And he has involved young people in a political process that they didn’t care anything about. That’s a sign. When the messiah speaks, the youth will hear. And the messiah is absolutely speaking.”
In March 2008 the controversial Al Sharpton, a strong supporter of Obama’s presidential candidacy, revealed publicly that he was in the habit of speaking to Obama on a regular basis — “two or three times a week.” Sharpton also said that he had told Obama four months earlier, “I won’t either endorse you or not endorse you. But I will tell you I can be freer not endorsing you to help you and everybody else.” According to Sharpton, Obama then protested and asked for his public support: “No, no, no. I want you to endorse.”
As he had done the year before, Obama in 2008 again addressed Sharpton’s National Action Network to seek its support. Calling Sharpton “a voice for the voiceless and … dispossessed,” Obama stated: “What National Action Network has done is so important to change America, and it must be changed from the bottom up.”
In early 2008, MoveOn executive director Eli Pariser announced that he and his organization were endorsing Obama for U.S. President. “We’ve learned that the key to achieving change in Washington without compromising core values is having a galvanized electorate to back you up,” said Pariser, “and Barack Obama has our members ‘fired up and ready to go’ on that front.”
Said Obama in response: “In just a few years, the members of MoveOn have once again demonstrated that real change comes not from the top-down, but from the bottom-up. From their principled opposition to the Iraq war — a war I also opposed from the start — to their strong support for a number of progressive causes, MoveOn shows what Americans can achieve when we come together in a grassroots movement for change…. I thank them for their support and look forward to working with their members in the weeks and months ahead.”
In April 2008 Ahmed Yousef, a political advisor for the terrorist group Hamas, told interviewer Aaron Klein that his (Yousef’s) organization was hopeful that Obama would win the presidential election and change America’s foreign policy vis a vis the Arab-Israeli conflict. When reporters subsequently asked Obama what he thought of the Hamas leader’s endorsement, Obama said: “My position on Hamas is indistinguishable from the position of Hillary Clinton or [Republican presidential candidate] John McCain. I said they are a terrorist organization, and I’ve repeatedly condemned them. I’ve repeatedly said, and I mean what I say: Since they are a terrorist organization, we should not be dealing with them until they recognize Israel, renounce terrorism, and abide by previous agreements.”
During an April 2008 campaign stop in San Francisco, Obama said:
“You go into some of these small towns in Pennsylvania, and like a lot of small towns in the Midwest, the jobs have been gone now for 25 years, and nothing’s replaced them. And they fell through the Clinton administration and the Bush administration, and each successive administration has said that somehow these communities are gonna regenerate, and they have not. And it’s not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
In June 2008, Obama named former New Leftist Anthony Lake as one of his leading foreign policy advisors. Lake served as a special assistant for national security affairs under President Nixon in 1969-70, but soon thereafter he stepped down from that post to protest the Nixon administration’s bombing raids in Cambodia — raids that were designed to support the existing government against the power-grabbing efforts of Pol Pot and his bloodthirsty Khmer Rouge.
By 1972 Lake was an activist in Democrat George McGovern’s presidential campaign, whose platform was founded on the axiom that the military conflicts of Southeast Asia were rooted in the “arrogance of American power” rather than in Communist aggression. Lake called for the newly installed Democrat Congress to cut off funding for the governments of South Vietnam and Cambodia in January 1975. When Republicans warned that a Pol Pot victory would inevitably result in a Cambodian “bloodbath,” Lake and his fellow anti-war Democrats accused their critics of trying to stir up “anti-Communist hysteria.”
After Congress followed Lake’s course and cut the above-referenced funding, the governments of Cambodia and South Vietnam were quickly overrun by the Communists, who, during the next three years, slaughtered nearly 3 million Indo-Chinese peasants in one of the most horrific genocidal campaigns in the recorded history of mankind.
Lake’s 2008 appointment to the Obama campaign was withdrawn after the revelation that in a 1996 television appearance, Lake had stated, erroneously and naively, that the recently deceased Alger Hiss may not actually have been a Soviet spy.
At a June 2008 campaign stop in Jacksonville, Florida, Obama suggested that his political opponents were trying to exploit the issue of race to undermine his candidacy. “It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy,” he said. “We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”
The following month, Obama told his listeners at another campaign event: “They [Republicans] know that you’re not real happy with them and so the only way they figure they’re going to win this election is if they make you scared of me. What they’re saying is ‘Well, we know we’re not very good but you can’t risk electing Obama. You know, he’s new, he doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency, he’s a got a funny name.’”
Speaking at a July 2008 gathering of hundreds of minority journalists in Chicago, Obama said the United States should acknowledge its history of poor treatment of certain ethnic groups:
“There’s no doubt that when it comes to our treatment of Native Americans as well as other persons of color in this country, we’ve got some very sad and difficult things to account for…. I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged…. I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds.”
In August 2008, Obama named Senator Joe Biden to be his vice presidential running mate.
In the summer of 2008 a mortgage-lending crisis of immense proportions caused many U.S. banks to go out of business and led to the virtual collapse of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, America’s two largest underwriters of home mortgages. The roots of the crisis were traceable, in large measure, to the Community Reinvestment Act put in place by the Carter administration in 1977 and reinforced by the Clinton administration in the 1990s. As a September 30, 1999 New York Times article explains:
“Fannie Mae … has been under increasing pressure from the Clinton Administration to expand mortgage loans among low and moderate income people and felt pressure from stock holders to maintain its phenomenal growth in profits.
“In addition, banks, thrift institutions and mortgage companies have been pressing Fannie Mae to help them make more loans to so-called subprime borrowers. These borrowers whose incomes, credit ratings and savings are not good enough to qualify for conventional loans, can only get [so-called ‘subprime’] loans from finance companies that charge much higher interest rates — anywhere from three to four percentage points higher than conventional loans….
“Demographic information on these borrowers is sketchy. But at least one study indicates that 18 percent of the loans in the subprime market went to black borrowers, compared to 5 per cent of loans in the conventional loan market.
“In moving, even tentatively, into this new area of lending, Fannie Mae is taking on significantly more risk, which may not pose any difficulties during flush economic times. But the government-subsidized corporation may run into trouble in an economic downturn, prompting a government rescue similar to that of the savings and loan industry in the 1980’s.”
The Editors of National Review Online explain the connection between the foregoing policies and Barack Obama:
“One of the reasons so many bad mortgage loans were made in the first place is that Barack Obama’s celebrated community organizers make their careers out of forcing banks to do so. ACORN, for which Obama worked, is one of many left-wing organizations that spent decades pressuring banks and bank regulators to do more to make mortgages available to people without much in the way of income, assets, or credit. These campaigns often were couched in racially inflammatory terms. The result was the Community Reinvestment Act. The CRA empowers the FDIC and other banking regulators to punish those banks which do not lend to the poor and minorities at the level that Obama’s fellow community organizers would like. Among other things, mergers and acquisitions can be blocked if CRA inquisitors are not satisfied that their demands — which are political demands — have been met. There is a name for loans made to people who do not have the credit, assets, income, or down payment to qualify for a normal mortgage: subprime.”
As Forbes magazine points out, “Obama has been a staunch supporter of the CRA throughout his public life.”
Though ACORN played a large role in creating the climate that brought on the mortgage crisis, Obama in 2007 told a gathering of that organization’s members: “I’ve been fighting alongside ACORN on issues you care about my entire career.” (NOTE: Obama’s ties to ACORN would continue long after the 2008 presidential election. Indeed, on October 16, 2013, the Daily Caller reported that ACORN Housing official Bruce Dorpalen was still advising top Obama administration officials on housing policy years after the organization had been shuttered by scandal.)
Also in 2007, Obama stated that “subprime lending started off as a good idea — helping Americans buy homes who couldn’t previously afford to.” When the crisis arrived in 2008, Obama not only blamed Republicans, but tacitly blamed the very institution of capitalism — referencing it by the pejorative code name of “trickle-down” economics.
In September 2008 it was learned that Obama, during his first three years in the Senate (2005-2008), had received more political contribution money ($126,349) from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac than had any other legislator except Connecticut Senator Christopher Dodd, who had been in Congress continuously for 33 years.
Two of Fannie Mae’s major players had noteworthy ties to Obama. James Johnson, a longtime aide to former Vice President Walter Mondale, headed Fannie Mae from 1991 to 1998. While dutifully following the Clinton administration directive mandating that Fannie Mae make subprime loans to borrowers who were poor credit risks, and thereby helping to run the mortgage lender into the ground, Johnson himself earned tens of millions of dollars in his Fannie Mae post — including $21 million in 1998 alone. In the summer of 2008, Obama tapped Johnson to chair his vice presidential selection committee; but soon thereafter, Johnson had to resign in disgrace from that position when it was revealed that he personally had taken at least five real estate loans (totaling more than $7 million) at below-market rates from Countrywide Financial Corporation.
Johnson’s successor as Fannie Mae’s head, Franklin Raines, had previously served as a budget director to Bill Clinton. During his years at Fannie’s helm (1999-2005), Raines, while continuing to oversee the ill-advised policies that ultimately would bankrupt the company, pocketed nearly $100 million in compensation before leaving under a cloud of scandal when it was learned that he had manipulated profit and loss reports so as to enable himself and other senior executives to earn gargantuan bonuses, even as the financial empire he oversaw was imploding. Notwithstanding Raines’ poor track record, the Obama campaign consulted him in 2008 for his advice on housing matters.
Obama has consistently, without a single exception, voted in favor of expanding abortion rights and the funding of abortion services with taxpayer dollars. In July 2006 he voted “No” to requiring physicians to notify parents of minors who get out-of-state abortions. In March 2008 he voted “No” on a bill prohibiting minors from crossing state lines to gain access to abortion services. Also in March 2008, he voted “No” on defining an unborn child as eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP), which was designed to cover the medical-care costs of uninsured children in families whose incomes were modest but too high to qualify for Medicaid.
When Obama was a state senator, two separate partial-birth abortion bans came up for vote in 1997. Obama voted “present” on both occasions, the functional equivalent of a vote against the ban. In The Audacity of Hope, he explained that his opposition to the ban was rooted in the fact that the bill contained no exception for cases where a mother’s “health” might require the procedure.
In 2000 Obama voted against a bill that would have ended state funding of partial-birth abortions.
In 2001 he voted against the Induced Infant Liability Act, which was intended to protect babies that survived late-term abortions from being permitted to die from intentional neglect. He explained his vote as follows:
“[W]henever we define a pre-viable fetus as a person that is protected by the equal protection clause or other elements in the Constitution, what we’re really saying is, in fact, that they are persons that are entitled to the kinds of protections that would be provided to a — a child, a nine-month-old — child that was delivered to term. That determination, then, essentially, if it was accepted by a court, would forbid abortions to take place…. For that reason, I think it would probably be found unconstitutional.”
As David Freddoso observes, Obama’s argument:
“implies that babies born prematurely without abortions might not be ‘persons.’ They might have to be ‘nine months old’ before they count…. [O]ne might even conclude from [his words] that he actually does think they are persons. But, he argues, we cannot legally recognize them as ‘persons.’ Because if we do, then somewhere down the road it might threaten someone’s right to an abortion…. Barack Obama’s actions indicate he thinks that before any other rights are granted to ‘persons,’ the Constitution exists to guarantee abortion rights.”
Though it did not in any way conflict with, or compromise, Roe v. Wade, Obama voted against this same legislation in 2003. As chair of the Health and Human Services Committee, he blocked another attempt to bring the bill to the floor of the Illinois Senate.
On April 4, 2002, Obama challenged the sponsor of the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, a bill designed to protect infants who had been intended for abortion but had not died (prior to exiting the mother’s body) as expected, as follows:
“As I understand it, this [bill] puts the burden on the attending physician who has determined, since they were performing this procedure, that, in fact, this is a nonviable fetus; that if that fetus, or child — however way you want to describe it — is now outside the mother’s womb and the doctor continues to think that it’s nonviable but there’s, let’s say, movement or some indication that, in fact, they’re not just coming out limp and dead, that, in fact, they would then have to call a second physician to monitor and check off and make sure that this is not a live child that could be saved….
“Let me just go to the bill, very quickly. Essentially, I think as — as this emerged during debate and during committee, the only plausible rationale, to my mind, for this legislation would be if you had a suspicion that a doctor, the attending physician, who has made an assessment that this is a nonviable fetus and that, let’s say for the purpose of the mother’s health, is being — that — that — labor is being induced, that that physician (a) is going to make the wrong assessment and (b) if the physician discovered, after the labor had been induced, that, in fact, he made an error, or she made an error, and, in fact, that this was not a nonviable fetus but, in fact, a live child, that that physician, of his own accord or her own accord, would not try to exercise the sort of medical measures and practices that would be involved in saving that child. Now, it — if you think there are possibilities that doctors would not do that, then maybe this bill makes sense, but I — I suspect and my impression is, is that the Medical Society suspects as well that doctors feel that they would be under that obligation, that they would already be making these determinations and that, essentially, adding a — an additional doctor who then has to be called in an emergency situation to come in and make these assessments is really designed simply to burden the original decision of the woman and the physician to induce labor and perform an abortion. Now, if that’s the case — and — and I know that some of us feel very strongly one way or another on that issue — that’s fine, but I think it’s important to understand that this issue ultimately is about abortion and not live births. Because if these are children who are being born alive, I, at least, have confidence that a doctor who is in that room is going to make sure that they’re looked after.”
But Obama knew quite well that children were being born alive and were not looked after by the abortion doctors; that in 10 to 20 percent of the cases where induced labor abortion was practiced, the infants survived and were then being left, uncared for, to die; and that these facts were precisely what had prompted the legislation in the first place.
Jill Stanek, a nurse and pro-life activist, said the following about Obama in August 2008:
“In committee he took the opinion of the ACLU attorney and said that he thought that this would be something that would overturn Roe v. Wade, and he opposed it in committee, and then he took a leadership role opposing this to go on and be the sole senator to speak against this bill on the Senate floor, not once, but two years in a row.
And he brags on his Web site now that he strategized with Planned Parenthood to defeat this bill…. He said on the Senate floor as a matter of fact that he thought that this would ultimately be considered unconstitutional, and he said that he strategized with Planned Parenthood to vote present because in Illinois a present vote is the same as a no vote. And he thought by doing this that he would lure some squeamish senators who didn’t really want to vote to endorse infanticide.”
In 2006 Obama voted “Yes” on a Senate Budget amendment allocating $100 million to: “increas[e] funding and access to family planning services”; “fun[d] legislation that requires equitable prescription coverage for contraceptives under health plans”; and “fun[d] legislation that would create and expand teen pregnancy prevention programs and education programs concerning emergency contraceptives.”
Obama’s voting record in the foregoing matters earned him a 100% rating from NARAL Pro-Choice America in 2005, 2006, and 2007. He also received a 100 percent rating from Planned Parenthood in 2006, and a zero percent rating from the National Right-to-Life Committee (an anti-abortion group) in 2005 and 2006. Says David Freddoso, “I could find no instance in his entire career in which he voted for any regulation or restriction on the practice of abortion.”
On July 17, 2007, Obama declared, “The first thing I’d do as President is sign the Freedom of Choice Act.” This bill would effectively terminate all state restrictions on government funding for abortions. It would also invalidate state laws that currently protect medical personnel from losing their jobs if they refuse to particpate in abortion procedures.
In an August 17, 2008 interview with Pastor Rick Warren, Obama stated that abortion rates had not declined over the previous eight years. But this was untrue. Abortion rates had actually decreased rather dramatically during that period, reaching a three-decade low.
Rev. Warren asked Obama directly:”Now, let’s deal with abortion … [A]t what point does a baby get human rights, in your view?” To this, Obama replied:
“Well, you know, I think that whether you’re looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade.
“… I am pro-choice. I believe in Roe v. Wade, and I come to that conclusion not because I’m pro-abortion, but because, ultimately, I don’t think women make these decisions casually…. And so, for me, the goal right now should be — and this is where I think we can find common ground. And by the way, I’ve now inserted this into the Democratic party platform, is how do we reduce the number of abortions? The fact is that although we have had a president who is opposed to abortion over the last eight years, abortions have not gone down and that is something we have to address….
“I am in favor, for example, of limits on late-term abortions, if there is an exception for the mother’s health. From the perspective of those who are pro-life, I think they would consider that inadequate, and I respect their views….
“What I can do is say, are there ways that we can work together to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies, so that we actually are reducing the sense that women are seeking out abortions. And as an example of that, one of the things that I’ve talked about is how do we provide the resources that allow women to make the choice to keep a child. You know, have we given them the health care that they need? Have we given them the support services that they need? Have we given them the options of adoption that are necessary? That can make a genuine difference.”
Obama as a lawmaker opposed the death penalty and authored legislation requiring police to keep records of the race of everyone questioned, detained or arrested.
Obama promised that as President, he would work to ban racial profiling and eliminate racial disparities in criminal sentencing. “The criminal justice system is not color blind,” he said, “It does not work for all people equally, and that is why it’s critical to have a president who sends a signal that we are going to have a system of justice that is not just us, but is everybody.”
According to Obama: “[W]e know that in our criminal justice system, African-Americans and whites, for the same crime … are arrested at very different rates, are convicted at very different rates, receive very different sentences. That is something that we have to talk about. But that’s a substantive issue and it has to do with how … we pursue racial justice. If I am president, I will have a civil rights division that is working with local law enforcement so that they are enforcing laws fairly and justly.”
Obama stated that the much harsher penalties for crimes involving crack cocaine as opposed to powder-based cocaine — the former disproportionately involve black offenders, whereas the latter involve mostly white offenders — were wrong and needed to be completely eliminated.
He also pledged to “provide job training, substance abuse and mental health counseling to ex-offenders, so that [ex-convicts] are successfully re-integrated into society.” Moreover, he vowed to create “a prison-to-work incentive program to improve ex-offender employment and job retention rates.”
In Obama’s calculus, many young black men engage in street-level drug dealing not because they seek to profit handsomely from it, but because they are unable to find legitimate jobs anywhere. Said Obama: “For many inner-city men, what prevents gainful employment is not simply the absence of motivation to get off the streets but the absence of a job history or any marketable skills — and, increasingly, the stigma of a prison record. We can assume that with lawful work available for young men now in the drug trade, crime in any community would drop.”
During his years as a legislator, Obama voted against a proposal to criminalize contact with gang members for any convicts who were free on probation or on bail. In 2001 he opposed, for reasons of racial equity, making gang membership a consideration in determining whether or not a killer may be eligible for capital punishment. “There’s a strong overlap between gang affiliation and young men of color,” said Obama. “… I think it’s problematic for them [nonwhites] to be singled out as more likely to receive the death penalty for carrying out certain acts than are others who do the same thing.”
In 1999 Obama was the only state senator to oppose a bill prohibiting early prison release for offenders convicted of sex crimes.
Obama has occasionally attacked special interests in the Democratic Party. In the past, for instance, he was prepared to help students escape from bad public schools by considering school vouchers. But he now toes the anti-voucher party line and thus the special interest of the Democratic Party’s biggest funding and activist base, the National Education Association.
In his 2008 presidential campaign, Obama stressed the importance of increasing government expenditures on public education. “We’re going to put more money into education than we have,” he said. “We have to invest in human capital.”
Obama’s education plan called for “investing” $10 billion annually in a comprehensive “Zero to Five” plan that would “provide critical supports to young children and their parents.” These funds were to be used to “create or expand high-quality early care and education programs for pregnant women and children from birth to age five”; to “quadruple the number of eligible children for Early Head Start”; to “ensure [that] all children have access to pre-school”; to “provide affordable and high-quality child care that will … ease the burden on working families”; to allow “more money” to be funneled “into after-school programs”; and to fund “home visiting programs [by health-care personnel] to all low-income, first-time mothers.”
In Obama’s view, virtually all schooling-related problems can be ameliorated or solved with an infusion of additional cash. Consider, for instance, his perspective on the low graduation rate of nonwhite minorities:
“Latinos have such a high dropout rate. What you see consistently are children at a very early age are starting school already behind. That’s why I’ve said that I’m going to put billions of dollars into early childhood education that makes sure that our African-American youth, Latino youth, poor youth of every race, are getting the kind of help that they need so that they know their numbers, their colors, their letters.”
Obama opposed the Supreme Court’s 2007 split decision that invalidated programs in Seattle and Louisville (Kentucky) which sought to maintain “diversity” in local schools by factoring race into decisions about which students could be admitted to any particular school, or which students could be allowed to transfer from one school to another. Under these programs, parents were not free to send their children to the schools of their choice. Instead they were obliged to abide by the quotas preordained by bureaucrats who had never met any of the children whose educational lives they sought to micromanage. Both the Seattle and Louisville programs were representative of similar plans in hundreds of other school districts nationwide.
In Obama’s opinion, the Court’s “wrong-headed” ruling was “but the latest in a string of decisions by this conservative bloc of Justices that turn back the clock on decades of advancement and progress in the struggle for equality.” “The Supreme Court was wrong,” Obama added. “These were local school districts that had voluntarily made a determination that all children would be better off if they learned together. The notion that this Supreme Court would equate that with the segregation as tasked would make Thurgood Marshall turn in his grave.”
Viewing racial mixing as an educational objective compelling enough to warrant the use of quotas and bussing for its attainment, Obama stated that “a racially diverse learning environment has a profoundly positive educational impact on all students,” and thus he remains “devoted to working toward this goal.”
In 1997 Obama opposed an Illinois welfare-reform bill, proposed by Republican senator Dave Syverson, which sought to move as many people as possible off the state welfare rolls and into paying jobs. He tried to weaken the legislation by calling for exceptions not only to the requirement that welfare recipients make an effort to find employment, but also to the bill’s proposed five-year limit on benefits.
Two months after Svyerson’s bill was first proposed, Obama added his name to it. The legislation ultimately would slash welfare rolls by some 80 percent. As David Freddoso points out, “It was a bill that the Senate had to pass in order to conform to the federal welfare-reform laws. It passed with only one senator voting against it.”
Presidential candidate Obama said many times, “I am going to give health insurance to 47 million Americans who are now without coverage.” But as political analyst Dick Morris points out, the 47 million statistic included at least 12 million illegal immigrants who were uninsured. Another 15 million uninsured were eligible for Medicaid but had not yet registered for it — primarily because they had not yet been ill. When they would enroll eventually, they would receive inexpensive health care, courtesy of American taxpayers. Then there were uninsured children, almost all of whom were eligible for the State Children’s Health Insurance Program — even if their parents had not yet enrolled them therein. That left fewer than 20 million uninsured adults who were either American citizens or legal immigrant non-citizens. To address this situation, Obama proposed to dramatically restructure the country’s health-care system.
At an AFL-CIO conference in 2003, Obama said: “I happen to be a proponent of a single-payer health care plan…. ‘Everybody in. Nobody out.’ A single payer health care credit–universal healthcare credit. That’s what I’d like to see, but as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we have to take back the White House and we’ve got to take back the Senate and we’ve got to take back the House.”
“My commitment is to make sure that we’ve got universal healthcare for all Americans by the end of my first term as President…. I would hope that we can set up a system that allows those who can go through their employer to access a federal system or a state pool of some sort. But I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately. There’s going to be, potentially, some transition process. I can envision a decade out, or 15 years out, or 20 years out…”
On April 3, 2007, Obama said:
“Let’s say that I proposed a plan that moved to a single payer system. Let’s say Medicare Plus. It’d be essentially everybody can buy into Medicare for example…. Transitioning a system is a very difficult and costly and lengthy enterprise. It’s not like you can turn on a switch and you go from one system to another. So it’s possible that upfront you would need not just, I mean, you might need an additional $90 or $100 billion a year.”
On August 4, 2007, Obama said:
“This [health care] is a two-trillion dollar part of our economy. And it is my belief that, not just politically but also economically, it’s better for us to start getting a system in place, a universal health care system signed into law by the end of my first term as president, and build off that system to further, to make it more rational…. By the way, Canada did not start off immediately with a single payer system. They had a similar transition step.”
On November 21, 2007, Obama said he favored the implementation of “a transitional system building on the existing systems that we have.” He elaborated:
“[T]ransitional hopefully because the system currently is so, such a patchwork of inefficiency that over time I would want to see Medicaid, Medicare, the children’s health insurance program, SCHIP — all those integrated more effectively.”
In the summer of 2008, when asked by a campaign audience about single-payer healthcare, Obama said, “If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer [government-run] system … my attitude is let’s build up the system we got, let’s make it more efficient, we maybe over time … decide that there are other ways for us to provide care more effectively.” (Obama would sound this theme again in June 2009, when he told an unreceptive American Medical Association: “I’ll be honest, there are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well.”)
The Obama campaign asserted that gender-based “discrimination on the job” was a big problem in America. “For every $1.00 earned by a man, the average woman receives only 77 cents,” said the campaign website. “A recent study estimates it will take another 47 years for women to close the wage gap with men.” To rectify this, Obama “believes the government needs to take steps to better enforce the Equal Pay Act, fight job discrimination, and improve child care options and family medical leave to give women equal footing in the workplace.”
But Obama’s claim that women were underpaid (in comparison to men) by American employers was untrue. As longtime employment lawyer William Farrell, who served as a board member of the National Organization for Women from 1970 to 1973, explains in his 2005 book Why Men Earn More, the gender pay gap is actually 20 cents per dollar, not 23 cents. And that gap can be explained entirely by the fact that women as a group tend, to a much greater degree than men, to make employment choices that involve certain tradeoffs; i.e., choices that suppress incomes but, by the same token, afford tangible lifestyle advantages that are highly valued.
For example, women tend to pursue careers in fields that are non-technical and do not involve the hard (as opposed to the social) sciences; fields that do not require a large amount of continuing education in order to keep pace with new developments or innovations; fields that offer a high level of physical safety; fields where the work is performed indoors as opposed to outdoors (where bad weather can make working conditions poor); fields that offer a pleasant and socially dynamic working environment; fields typified by lower levels of emotional strife; fields that offer desirable shifts or flexible working hours; fields or jobs that require fewer working hours per week or fewer working days per year; and fields where employees can “check out” at the end of the day and not need to “take their jobs home with them.”
Moreover, Farrell notes, women as a group tend to be less willing to commute long distances, to travel extensively for work-related duties, or to relocate geographically in order to take a job. In addition, they tend to have fewer years of uninterrupted experience in their current jobs, and they are far more likely to leave the work force for extended periods in order to attend to family-related matters such as raising children.
When all of the above variables are factored into the equation, the gender pay gap disappears entirely. When men and women work at jobs where their titles and their responsibilities are equivalent, they are paid exactly the same.
“It is hard to overstate the degree to which our addiction to oil undermines our future…. A large portion of the $800 million we spend on foreign oil every day goes to some of the world’s most volatile regimes. And there are the environmental consequences. Just about every scientist outside the White House believes climate change is real. We cannot drill our way out of the problem. Instead of subsidizing the oil industry, we should end every single tax break the industry currently receives and demand that 1% of the revenues from oil companies with over $1 billion in quarterly profits go toward financing alternative energy research and infrastructure.”
At a July 30, 2008 campaign stop in Missouri, Obama said: “There are things that you can do individually … to save energy; making sure your tires are properly inflated, simple thing, but we could save all the oil that they’re talking about getting off [from] drilling, if everybody was just inflating their tires and getting regular tune-ups. You could actually save just as much.”
Obama is a staunch supporter of federal ethanol subsidies; in 2006 he himself inserted an ethanol subsidy into proposed tax legislation. In his book The Audacity of Hope, he characterized “alternative fuels like E85, a fuel formulated with 85 percent ethanol” as “the future of the auto industry.” But as David Freddoso explains, by 2008 ethanol “was contributing to record-high food prices and causing food riots in the developing world … exhausting water supplies, driving up gasoline prices, and exacerbating smog.” Freddoso examines what he calls “the physics of ethanol” as follows:
“To produce five gallons of ethanol from corn, one must spend the energy equivalent of roughly four galons of ethanol for farming, shipping, and processing. (In other words, ethanol has a 25 percent net energy yield.) … America’s entire 6.5 billion gallon ethanol production created the net energy equivalent of 2.2 days’ worth of American gasoline consumption.” (Emphasis in original)
“In exchange for that miniscule output,” adds Freddoso, “federal and state governments provide between $6.3 billion and $8.7 billion in annual direct and indirect subsidies…. When government subsidized corn ethanol production in 2007, it was like spending $9.00 to create a gallon of gasoline, and doing it 853 million times.”
In January 2008 Obama said the following about the future of the coal industry, which currently accounts for half of all the electricity produced in America: “If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted.” Added Obama:
“When I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, you know, under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.”
Obama’s position on the issue of global warming is unambiguous. His campaign website declared:
“Global warming is real, is happening now and is the result of human activities. The number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes has almost doubled in the last 30 years. Glaciers are melting faster; the polar ice caps are shrinking; trees are blooming earlier; oceans are becoming more acidic, threatening marine life; people are dying in heat waves; species are migrating, and eventually many will become extinct. Scientists predict that absent major emission reductions, climate change will worsen famine and drought in some of the poorest places in the world and wreak havoc across the globe. In the U.S., sea-level rise threatens to cause massive economic and ecological damage to our populated coastal areas.”
During a 2008 campaign stop in Oregon, Obama called on the United States to “lead by example” on global warming. “We can’t drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times … and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” he said. “That’s not leadership. That’s not going to happen.”
Homeland Security / War on Terror
In 2004 Obama spoke out against the Republican-led Congress’ budgets generally, and against the 2001 anti-terrorism bill known as the Patriot Act specifically, suggesting that the Act infringed upon Americans’ civil liberties. Said Obama:
“When you rush these budgets that are a foot high, and nobody has any idea what’s in them and nobody has read them … It gets rushed through without any clear deliberation or debate, then these kind of things happen, and I think this is in some ways what happened to the Patriot Act. I mean, you remember, there was no real debate about that. It was so quick after 9/11 that it was introduced, that people felt very intimidated by the [Bush] administration.”
Obama voted “No” on a bill to remove the need for a FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant before the government may proceed with wiretapping in terrorism-related investigations of suspects in other countries. “Warrantless surveillance of American citizens, in defiance of FISA, is unlawful and unconstitutional,” said Obama.
In Obama’s view, “the creation of military commissions” to try terror suspects captured in the War on Terror was, from its inception, “a bad idea.”
Such commissions are designed to adjudicate the cases of so-called “unlawful combatants” — as distinguished from “lawful combatants” — who are captured in battle. The former are entitled to prisoner-of-war status and its accompanying Geneva Convention protections; the latter are entitled to none of those things. Article IV of the Geneva Convention defines lawful combatants as those whose military organization meets four very specific criteria: “(a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign [a uniform or emblem] recognizable at a distance; (c) that of carrying arms openly; [and] (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.” Al Qaeda, for one, fails even to come close to satisfying these conditions. Obama opposes the distinction between lawful and unlawful combatants, and has called for the repeal of any separate standards regulating the treatment of each.
Obama also voted in favor of preserving habeas corpus — the notion that the government may not detain a prisoner without filing specific charges that can expeditiously be brought before a court — for the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. U.S. officials consider these prisoners — captured mostly on the battlefields of the Middle East — to be of the highest value for intelligence purposes, or to constitute, in their own persons, a great threat to the United States. Said Obama:
“Why don’t we close Guantanamo and restore the right of habeas corpus, because that’s how we lead, not with the might of our military, but the power of our ideals and the power of our values. It’s time to show the world we’re not a country that ships prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far off countries.”
On June 19, 2008, political analyst Dick Morris described Obama’s prescription for dealing with terrorism as follows:
“[Obama has] urged us to go back to the era of criminal-justice prosecution of terror suspects, citing the successful efforts to imprison those who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. [He said] ‘It is my firm belief that we can crack down on threats against the United States, but we can do so within the constraints of our Constitution…. In previous terrorist attacks — for example, the first attack against the World Trade Center, we were able to arrest those responsible, put them on trial. They are currently in U.S. prisons, incapacitated.’
“This is big — because that prosecution, and the ground rules for it, had more to do with our inability to avert 9/11 than any other single factor. Because we treated the 1993 WTC bombing as simply a crime, our investigation was slow, sluggish and constrained by the need to acquire admissible evidence to convict the terrorists.
“As a result, we didn’t know that Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible for the attack until 1997 — too late for us to grab Osama when Sudan offered to send him to us in 1996. Clinton and National Security Adviser Sandy Berger turned down the offer, saying we had no grounds on which to hold him or to order his kidnapping or death.
“Obama’s embrace of the post-’93 approach shows a blindness to the key distinction that has kept us safe since 9/11 — the difference between prosecution and protection.”
The War in Afghanistan and the Iraq War
In August 2007, Obama suggested that as a result of President Bush’s poor military leadership, U.S. troops in Afghanistan had done a disservice to their mission by “just air raiding villages and killing civilians, which is causing enormous problems there.”
Vis a vis the war in Iraq, Obama, as noted earlier, was an outspoken opponent of the invasion at the outset. Over time, however, he made a number of statements that seemed to indicate vacillation in terms of his views about the war. During the November 11, 2007 airing of Meet The Press, newsman Tim Russert reminded him of some of those statements:
“In July of ’04 [you said]: ‘I’m not privy to Senate intelligence reports. What would I have done? I don’t know,’ in terms of how you would have voted on the war [in 2002].
“And then this: ‘There’s not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush’s position at this stage.’ That was July of ’04.
“And this: ‘I think’ there’s ‘some room for disagreement in that initial decision to vote for authorization of the war.’
“It doesn’t seem that you are firmly wedded against the war, and that you left some wiggle room that, if you had been in the Senate, you may have voted for it.”
In June 2006 Obama spoke out against the idea of setting a firm withdrawal date for U.S. troops in Iraq. Immediately after the midterm election five months later, however, Obama declared that it was vital “to change our policy” and to bring home all American troops. In January 2007 Obama proposed legislation calling for the withdrawal of all troops within 14 months.
In a September 12, 2007 speech, Obama said: “There is no military solution in Iraq, and there never was. The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq’s leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops. Not in six months or one year – now.”
Throughout his time in the U.S. Senate, Obama repeatedly maintained that Iraqis would achieve a political solution once American soldiers had left.
In early 2008, the Obama campaign website declared that Obama, as President:
“… would immediately begin to pull out troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of . He would call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq, convened with the United Nations, which would not adjourn until Iraq’s leaders reach a new accord on reconciliation. He would use presidential leadership to surge our diplomacy with all of the nations of the region on behalf of a new regional security compact. And he would take immediate steps to confront the humanitarian disaster in Iraq, and to hold accountable any perpetrators of potential war crimes.”
Claiming that the U.S. presence in Iraq was “illegal,” Obama campaigned publicly in 2007 and 2008 for a speedy withdrawal of American troops from Iraq. But in a July 2008 discussion he held with Iraqi leaders in Baghdad, Obama privately tried to persuade them to delay an agreement on a timetable for such a withdrawal until after the November elections. According to Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari, “He asked why we were not prepared to delay an agreement until after the U.S. elections and the formation of a new administration in Washington…. However, as an Iraqi, I prefer to have a security agreement that regulates the activities of foreign troops, rather than keeping the matter open.”
The political implications of delaying the troop withdrawal were clear: If Obama were to win the election and subsequently set the withdrawal in motion, he could claim credit for doing what President Bush allegedly had been unable or unwilling to do.
Obama also vowed to “fulfill America’s obligation to accept refugees” from Iraq. “The State Department pledged to allow 7,000 Iraqi refugees into America,” said the Obama campaign, “but has only let 190 into the United States. [President] Obama would expedite the Department of Homeland Security’s review of Iraqi asylum applicants.”
After President Bush announced in January 2007 that he would send a “surge” of some 21,500 additional troops to Iraq in an effort to quell the insurgency there, Obama said: “I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there. In fact, I think it will do the reverse.” Throughout 2007, Obama continued to argue that the surge was ill-advised.
Three weeks after President Bush had announced the surge, Senator Obama introduced the “Iraq War De-escalation Act of 2007,” which, if it had passed, would have removed all U.S. troops from Iraq by March 2008. “I don’t know any expert on the region or any military officer that I’ve spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground,” said Obama.
In July 2007, Obama said: “Here’s what we know. The surge has not worked.”
In July 2008, by which time the surge had proven to be extremely effective in reducing the violence in Iraq, newscaster Katie Couric asked Obama: “But yet you’re saying … given what you know now, you still wouldn’t support [the surge] … so I’m just trying to understand this.” Obama replied:
“Because … it’s pretty straightforward. By us putting $10 billion to $12 billion a month, $200 billion, that’s money that could have gone into Afghanistan. Those additional troops could have gone into Afghanistan. That money also could have been used to shore up a declining economic situation in the United States. That money could have been applied to having a serious energy security plan so that we were reducing our demand on oil, which is helping to fund the insurgents in many countries. So those are all factors that would be taken into consideration in my decision — to deal with a specific tactic or strategy inside of Iraq.”
In mid-July 2008, the portions of Obama’s campaign website that had emphasized his opposition to the troop surge and his statement that more troops would not change the course of the war, were suddenly removed.
On the matter of using enhanced interrogation techniques (such as waterboarding) on high-level terrorist suspects, Obama emphatically pledged to end that practice: “This means ending the practices of shipping away prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far-off countries, of detaining thousands without charge or trial, of maintaining a network of secret prisons to jail people beyond the reach of law…. That will be my position as president. That includes renditions.”
Obama also condemned the “flawed military-commission system that has failed to convict anyone of a terrorist act since the 9/11 attacks and that has been embroiled in legal challenges.” He preferred to try terror suspects and unlawfal combatants in civilian courts rather than in military tribunals.
Moreover, Obama criticized the Bush administration’s warrantless wiretaps of terror suspects: “This administration acts like violating civil liberties is the way to enhance our security. It is not.”
Obama commonly accused the Bush administration of trampling on the Constitution: “I taught constitutional law for ten years at the University of Chicago, so . . . um . . . your next president will actually believe in the Constitution, which you can’t say about your current president.”
While running for Congress in 2000, Obama prepared a position paper on Israel in which he stated, “Jerusalem should remain united and should be recognized as Israel’s capital.”
Along the same lines, in January 2008 Obama wrote, in response to a question about how he foresaw “the likely final status of Jerusalem,” that “Jerusalem will remain Israel’s capital, and no one should want or expect it to be re-divided.”
Similarly, in a June 4, 2008 speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Obama said, “Let me be clear…. Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided.”
The next day, after a number of Arab sources criticized Obama’s comments, an unnamed Obama adviser tried to “clarify” the candidate’s statement by suggesting that it left room for Palestinian sovereignty. Soon thereafter, Obama said: “[T]he truth is that this was an example where we had some poor phrasing in the speech” and a reminder of the need to be “careful in terms of our syntax.” He said his point had been “simply” that “we don’t want barbed wire running through Jerusalem, similar to the way it was prior to the ’67 war.”
Military/Missile Defense/Weapons Systems
In 2006, Obama, speaking to an audience about the interplay between faith and politics, said:
“Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy? Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith. Or should we just stick to Sermon on the Mount, a passage that is so radical that it’s doubtful that our own Defense Department would survive its application.”
“I will cut tens of billions of dollars in wasteful spending. I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems. I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems. I will institute an independent Defense Priorities Board to ensure that the Quadrennial Defense Review is not used to justify unnecessary defense spending…. I will set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons. To seek that goal, I will not develop new nuclear weapons. I will seek a global ban on the production of fissile material….”
Redistribution of Wealth
“You know, if you look at the victories and failures of the civil-rights movement, and its litigation strategy in the court, I think where it succeeded was to vest formal rights in previously dispossessed peoples. So that I would now have the right to vote, I would now be able to sit at a lunch counter and order and as long as I could pay for it, I’d be okay, but the Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.
“And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution — at least as it’s been interpreted, and Warren Court interpreted it in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: [It] says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.
“And that hasn’t shifted, and one of the, I think, the tragedies of the civil-rights movement was because the civil-rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.”
A caller then asked: “The gentleman [Obama] made the point that the Warren Court wasn’t terribly radical. My question is (with economic changes) … my question is, is it too late for that kind of reparative work, economically, and is that the appropriate place for reparative economic work to change place?”
“You know, I’m not optimistic about bringing about major redistributive change through the courts. The institution just isn’t structured that way…. You start getting into all sorts of separation of powers issues, you know, in terms of the court monitoring or engaging in a process that essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time. You know, the court is just not very good at it, and politically, it’s just very hard to legitimize opinions from the court in that regard.
“So I think that, although you can craft theoretical justifications for it, legally, you know, I think any three of us sitting here could come up with a rationale for bringing about economic change through the courts.”
In October 2008, Bill Whittle of National Review Online analyzed Obama’s words (from 2001) as follows:
“There is nothing vague or ambiguous about this. Nothing.
“From the top: ‘…The Supreme Court never entered into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society. And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical.’
“If the second highlighted phrase had been there without the first, Obama’s defenders would have bent over backwards trying to spin the meaning of ‘political and economic justice.’ We all know what political and economic justice means, because Barack Obama has already made it crystal clear a second earlier: It means redistribution of wealth. Not the creation of wealth and certainly not the creation of opportunity, but simply taking money from the successful and hard-working and distributing it to those whom the government decides ‘deserve’ it.
“This redistribution of wealth, he states, ‘essentially is administrative and takes a lot of time.’ It is an administrative task. Not suitable for the courts. More suitable for the chief executive.
“Now that’s just garden-variety socialism … [C]onsider this next statement with as much care as you can possibly bring to bear: ‘And uh, to that extent, as radical as I think people tried to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical. It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution — at least as it’s been interpreted, and [the] Warren Court interpreted it in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties: [it] says what the states can’t do to you, says what the federal government can’t do to you, but it doesn’t say what the federal government or the state government must do on your behalf.’
“The United States of America — five percent of the world’s population — leads the world economically, militarily, scientifically, and culturally — and by a spectacular margin. Any one of these achievements, taken alone, would be cause for enormous pride. To dominate as we do in all four arenas has no historical precedent. That we have achieved so much in so many areas is due — due entirely — to the structure of our society as outlined in the Constitution of the United States.
“The entire purpose of the Constitution was to limit government. That limitation of powers is what has unlocked in America the vast human potential available in any population.
“Barack Obama sees that limiting of government not as a lynchpin but rather as a fatal flaw: “…One of the, I think, the tragedies of the Civil Rights movement was because the Civil Rights movement became so court-focused, uh, I think that there was a tendency to lose track of thepolitical and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalitions of power through which you bring about redistributive change. And in some ways we still suffer from that.’
“There is no room for wiggle or misunderstanding here. This is not edited copy. There is nothing out of context; for the entire thing is context — the context of what Barack Obama believes. You and I do not have to guess at what he believes or try to interpret what he believes. He says what he believes.
“We have, in our storied history, elected Democrats and Republicans, liberals and conservatives and moderates. We have fought, and will continue to fight, pitched battles about how best to govern this nation. But we have never, ever in our 232-year history, elected a president who so completely and openly opposed the idea of limited government, the absolute cornerstone of makes the United States of America unique and exceptional.”
Obama generally favors significant increases in the tax rates paid by Americans. In 2001 he said, “I consider the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy to be both fiscally irresponsible and morally troubling.”
Obama has been known to characterize high-earners’ reluctance to pay more money in taxes as evidence of their racial insensitivity or bigotry. In a 1995 interview, for instance, he made a disparaging reference to a hypothetical “white executive living out in the suburbs, who doesn’t want to pay taxes to inner-city children for them to go to school.” In the same interview, he condemned the widespread “tendency,” both in the U.S. and elsewhere, “for one group to try to suppress another group in the interest of power or greed or resources or what have you.”
During a June 28, 2007 primary debate at Howard University, Obama was asked, “Do you agree that the rich aren’t paying their fair share of taxes?” He replied, “There’s no doubt that the tax system has been skewed. And the Bush tax cuts — people didn’t need them, and they weren’t even asking for them, and that’s why they need to be less, so that we can pay for universal health care and other initiatives.”
In 1999 Obama voted “No” on a bill to create an income tax credit for the families of all full-time K-12 pupils. In 2003 he voted “Yes” on a bill to retain the Illinois Estate Tax. He also supported raising taxes on insurance premiums and levying a new tax on businesses. In his keynote address at a 2006 “Building a Covenant for a New America” conference, he urged Americans of all faiths to convene on Capitol Hill and give it an “injection of morality” by opposing a repeal of the estate tax.
In the U.S. Senate, Obama voted several dozen times in favor of tax increases.
In June 2008, Rea Hederman and Patrick Tyrell of the Heritage Foundation summarized presidential candidate Obama’s tax proposals as follows:
“His plan would boost the top marginal [income tax] rate to well over 55 percent—before the inclusion of state and local taxes—resulting in many individuals seeing their marginal tax rate double…. Senator Obama would end the Bush tax cuts and allow the top two tax rates to return to 36 and 39.6 percent. He also would allow personal exemptions and deductions to be phased out for those with income over $250,000 … [and] would end the Social Security payroll tax cap for those over $250,000 in earnings. (The cap is currently set at $102,000.) These individuals will then face a tax rate of 15.65 percent from payroll taxes and the top income tax rate of 39.6 percent for a combined top rate of over 56 percent on each additional dollar earned.
“High-income individuals will be forced to pay even more if they live in cities or states with high taxes such as New York City, California, or Maryland. These unlucky people would pay over two-thirds of each new dollar in earnings to the federal government…. Senator Obama’s new tax rate would give the United States one of the highest tax rates among developed countries. Currently only six of the top 30 industrial nations have a tax rate for all levels of government combined of over 55 percent. Under this tax plan, the United States would join this group and have a higher top rate than such high-tax nations as Sweden and Denmark. The top marginal rate would exceed 60 percent with the inclusion of state and local taxes, which means that only Hungary would exceed Senator Obama’s new proposed top tax rate.”
In an April 2008 Democratic primary debate, Obama was asked, by journalist Charlie Gibson, a question about his proposal to nearly double the capital gains tax (from 15 percent to 28 percent). Said Gibson: “… In each instance when the rate dropped [in the 1990s], revenues from the tax increased. The government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the [capital gains] tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down. So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?”
Obama replied that he wished to raise the tax “for purposes of fairness.” “We saw an article today,” he explained, “which showed that the top 50 hedge fund managers made $29 billion last year…. [T]hose who are able to work the stock market and amass huge fortunes on capital gains are paying a lower tax rate than their secretaries. That’s not fair.”
In a September 2008 Fox News Channel television interview, Obama pledged to cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans, while raising taxes on those who earn more than $250,000. Political commentator Bill O’Reilly objected, “That’s class warfare. You’re taking the wealthy in America, the big earners … you’re taking money away from them and you’re giving it to people who don’t. That’s called income redistribution. It’s a socialist tenet. Come on, you know that.”
Obama replied, “Teddy Roosevelt supported a progressive income tax…. If I am sitting pretty and you’ve got a waitress who is making minimum wage plus tips, and I can afford it and she can’t, what’s the big deal for me to say, I’m going to pay a little bit more? That is neighborliness.”
In October 2008, CNS News provided the following analysis of the Obama tax plan, which, according to Obama, would feature the aforementioned tax cut for all those earning less than $250,000 per year, or 95 percent of American taxpayers:
“Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s plan to cut taxes on 95 percent of taxpayers would effectively increase government spending by an average of $64.8 billion a year and effectively raise income tax rates for many Americans, even on some earning $20-$50,000 per year, according to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center.
“The heart of Obama’s tax cut proposal is in his use of refundable tax credits, which the Center describes as ‘credits available to eligible households even if they have no income tax liability’ — in short, refunds available even to those who don’t pay taxes. These refunds are claimed on tax returns and are paid to all taxpayers who qualify for them, regardless of whether they owe taxes or not. These refunds have the ability of reducing a taxpayer’s liability below zero, meaning they can get a refund without actually paying taxes.
“In real numbers, 60.7 million people who have no tax burden at all will receive refunds from Obama, while only 33.8 million people, who pay approximately 40 percent of income taxes, will get any kind of refund. Twenty percent of taxpayers, who pay 87.5 percent of total income taxes, will actually see after-tax income decline under Obama by nearly two percent, according to the Center.
“By using these refunds, Obama is able to claim that he is giving a tax cut to 95 percent of households, although only 62 percent of households pay any income taxes at all. This means that Obama’s tax plan calls for giving money to some households that do not pay taxes, including a plan to make community college ‘essentially free’ and pay 10 percent of the interest on all mortgages.
“The problem with Obama’s characterization that his proposals are tax cuts is that refundable credits are calculated as outlays, or direct spending, not as reductions in tax rates, according to the Center. This means that, in budgetary terms, some of Obama’s tax cuts are actually spending increases.
“The Tax Policy Center estimates that Obama’s spending proposals will be so large that they effectively eliminate income taxes for 15 million households, increasing the percentage of households that pay no taxes from 37.8 percent to 48.1 percent….
“When compared with current law, people earning $20,000-$50,000 a year will see their effective tax rates — the amount of money the taxpayer actually ends up paying the government — increase on average under Obama’s plan, according to Tax Policy Center figures.
“Most households making $30,000-$75,000 will not see a reduction in their taxes under Obama’s plan relative to current law, according to the Center. In fact, the only strata that will see a majority of its effective tax burden reduced under Obama are those making less than $30,000 per year and those making $75,000-$200,000 per year.”
The net result of the tax plan, according to the figures above, will be to increase by more than 25 percent the number of households that pay no taxes at all, thereby effectively increasing the size of the welfare state.
At an October 2008 campaign appearance in Ohio, Obama was approached by a man named Joe Wurzelbacher (who thereafter would become widely known in the media as “Joe the plumber”). Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was planning to purchase a business which was projected to earn in excess of $250,000 per hear, and that Obama’s tax plan, which would raise taxes (by 8.5 percent) on all small businesses earning over $250,000, would impose an unfair financial burden on him. Obama replied that the tax increase on businesses like his was justified because it would enable the government to give tax breaks to people earning considerably less than $250,000. “I think when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” said Obama.
The National Taxpayers Union — an organization that “seeks to reduce government spending, cut taxes, and protect the rights of taxpayers” — gave Obama ratings of zero percent, 16 percent, and “F” in 2005, 2006, and 2007, respectively.
Americans for Tax Reform — which “believes in a system in which taxes are simpler, fairer, flatter, more visible, and lower than they are today” — gave Obama a zero percent rating in 2005 and a 15 percent rating in 2006.
The Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council — which “works to influence legislation and policies that help to create a favorable and productive environment for small businesses and entrepreneurship” — gave Obama a rating of 9 percent in 2005.
The National Federation of Independent Business — which seeks “to impact public policy at the state and federal level and be a key business resource for small and independent business in America” — gave Obama a rating of 12 percent in 2005-2006.
The Business-Industry Political Action Committee — which “supports pro-business candidates who have demonstrated the skill and leadership necessary to fuel a pro-business Congress” — rated Obama 15 percent in 2005 and 10 percent in 2006.
“Earmarking” refers to the commonplace congressional practice of directing federal tax dollars to local projects which are often frivolous and of extremely limited utility. In fiscal year 2008, Obama was the sole Senate sponsor of 29 earmarks whose aggregate sum was $10.7 million. Earmarks are often informal quid pro quo arrangements, where recipients show gratitude by giving money to the political official who steered the earmarks their way. For example, after Obama inserted earmarks into a 2008 defense appropriations bill, the recipients sent $16,000 in contributions to Obama’s presidential campaign.
Sometimes the quid pro quo works in the other direction, where the senator earmarks money for recipients after they have taken action that is in some way beneficial to the senator. For example, in 2007 Obama earmarked $1 million for the University of Chicago Medical Center, where his wife, who served as vice president of the Center, had received a $200,000 pay raise immediately after Obama took office as senator in early 2005.
In 1998 Obama proposed the creation of a study panel to examine the feasibility of having the government regulate and cap automobile insurance rates. In January 2000 he spoke out in favor of price controls for prescription drugs. A year later he called for the establishment of a five-person government “review board” to place a cap on drug prices in Illinois. To read economist Thomas Sowell’s explanation of why price controls have historically failed to lower costs or improve products and services, click here.
In September 2005, Obama sponsored “Senate Concurrent Resolution 53,” which expressed “the sense of Congress that any effort to impose photo identification requirements for voting should be rejected.”
Obama’s voting record clearly reflects his desire to expand entitlements for illegal aliens.
Obama opposes immigration raids designed to identify illegal aliens in workplaces or housing units. He says the U.S. should “allow undocumented immigrants who are in good standing to pay a fine, learn English, and go to the back of the line for the opportunity to become citizens.” “When I was a state senator in Illinois,” Obama has said, “I voted to require that illegal aliens get trained, get a license, get insurance to protect public safety. That was my intention. The problem we have here is not driver’s licenses. Undocumented workers do not come here to drive. They’re here to work.” In short, he is in favor of permitting illegal aliens to obtain driver’s licenses.
Obama voted in favor of allowing former illegal aliens who had previously worked at jobs under phony or stolen Social Security numbers, to someday reap the benefits of whatever Social Security contributions they may have made while they were so employed.
He voted in favor of an amendment placing an expiration date on a point-based immigration system (i.e., a system that seeks to ensure that people with skills that society needs are given preference for entry into the United States). Obama instead advocates a system focusing on the reunification of family members, even if that means permitting the relatives of illegal aliens to join the latter in America.
Obama seeks to delineate a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens, so as to “bring people out of the shadows” and allow them to “to fully embrace our values and become full members of our democracy.” Said the Obama campaign in 2008: “America has always been a nation of immigrants…. For the millions living here illegally but otherwise playing by the rules, we must encourage them to come out of hiding and get right with the law.”
As a U.S. senator, Obama was a supporter of the DREAM Act, intended to allow illegal aliens to attend college at the reduced tuition rates normally reserved for in-state legal residents. He helped to pass a state version of such a law in Illinois during his years as a state senator. Said the Obama campaign, the DREAM Act “would allow undocumented children brought to the United states the opportunity to pursue higher education or serve in our military, and eventually becoming legalized citizens…. [I]nstead of driving thousands of children who were on the right path into the shadows, we need to giver those who play by the rules the opportunity to succeed.”
In September 2008, Obama told the North Carolina Public Radio station WUNC that the children of illegal immigrants should be permitted to attend community colleges. “For us to deny them access to community college, even though they’ve never lived in Mexico, as least as far as they can tell, is to deny that this is how we’ve always built this country up,” said Obama.
According to Dick Morris, the political strategist who formerly advised President Bill Clinton, Obama’s plan for universal health care would include coverage for illegal immigrants.
In March 2008, Obama voted to table a Senate amendment calling for the withdrawal of federal assistance “to sanctuary cities that ignore the immigration laws of the United States and create safe havens for illegal aliens and potential terrorists.”
In July 2007 Obama was a featured speaker at the annual convention of the National Council of La Raza, an open-borders group that lobbies for racial preferences, mass immigration, and amnesty for illegal aliens. Among his remarks were the following:
“I will never walk away from the 12 million undocumented immigrants who live, work, and contribute to our country every single day.
“There are few better examples of how broken, bitter, and divisive our politics has become than the immigration debate that played out in Washington a few weeks ago. So many of us — Democrats and Republicans — were willing to compromise in order to pass comprehensive reform that would secure our borders while giving the undocumented a chance to earn their citizenship….
“[W]e are a nation of immigrants — a nation that has always been willing to give weary travelers from around the world the chance to come here and reach for the dream that so many of us have reached for. That’s the America that answered my father’s letters and his prayers and brought him here from Kenya so long ago. That’s the America we believe in.
“But that’s the America that the President and too many Republicans walked away from when the politics got tough…. [W]e saw parts of the immigration debate took a turn that was both ugly and racist in a way we haven’t seen since the struggle for civil rights….
“We don’t expect our government to guarantee success and happiness, but when millions of children start the race of life so far behind only because of race, only because of class, that’s a betrayal of our ideals. That’s not just a Latino problem or an African-American problem; that is an American problem that we have to solve….
“It’s an American problem when one in four Latinos cannot communicate well with their doctor about what’s wrong or fill out medical forms because there are language barriers we refuse to break down….”
In July 2008, Obama again spoke to NCLR. Among his remarks were the following:
“The theme of this [La Raza] conference is the work of your lives: strengthening America together. It’s been the work of this organization for four decades –lifting up families and transforming communities across America. And for that, I honor you, I congratulate you, I thank you, and I wish you another forty years as extraordinary as your last….
“The system isn’t working when a child in a crumbling school graduates without learning to read or doesn’t graduate at all. Or when a young person at the top of her class — a young person with so much to offer this country — can’t attend a public college.
“The system isn’t working when Hispanics are losing their jobs faster than almost anybody else, or working jobs that pay less, and come with fewer benefits than almost anybody else.
“The system isn’t working when 12 million people live in hiding, and hundreds of thousands cross our borders illegally each year; when companies hire undocumented immigrants instead of legal citizens to avoid paying overtime or to avoid a union; when communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids — when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come home from school to find their parents missing, when people are detained without access to legal counsel….
“[W]e’ll make the system work again for everyone. By living up to the ideals that this organization has always embodied the ideals reflected in your name, ‘Raza,’ the people. [Actually, a literal translation is “the race.”] … And together, we won’t just win an election; we will transform this nation.”
The U.S. Border Control (USBC), a nonprofit citizen’s lobby dedicated to ending illegal immigration and securing America’s borders, reports that Obama’s immigration-related votes are consistent with USBC’s values only 8 percent of the time. By USBC’s definition, Obama’s stance on immigration qualifies him as an “open borders” advocate.
Obama voted against a bill to declare English the official language of the U.S. government. Under this bill, no person would be entitled to have the government communicate with him (or provide materials for him) in any language other than English. Nothing in the bill, however, prohibited the use of a language other than English.
Constitution / Supreme Court
In his 2006 book The Audacity of Hope, Obama expresses his belief that the U.S. Constitution is a living document (subject to reinterpretation and change), and states that, as President, he would not appoint a strict constructionist (a Justice who seeks to apply the text as it is written and without further inference) to the Supreme Court:
“When we get in a tussle, we appeal to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution’s ratifiers to give direction. Some, like Justice Scalia, conclude that the original understanding must be followed and if we obey this rule, democracy is respected. Others, like Justice Breyer, insist that sometimes the original understanding can take you only so far — that on the truly big arguments, we have to take context, history, and the practical outcomes of a decision into account. I have to side with Justice Breyer’s view of the Constitution — that it is not a static but rather a living document and must be read in the context of an ever-changing world.”
When President Bush in 2005 nominated John Roberts to be Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Obama stated that few Supreme Court cases involve any controversy at all, “so that both a [conservative like] Scalia and a [leftist like] Ginsburg will arrive at the same place most of the time on those 95 percent of cases.” In the other 5 percent, he said, “the critical ingredient” was neither the law nor the Constitution says, but rather “what is in the judge’s heart.”
Obama said in a floor speech on September 22, 2005:
“[W]hen I examined Judge Roberts’ record and history of public service, it is my personal estimation that he has far more often used his formidable skills on behalf of the strong in opposition to the weak. In his work in the White House and the Solicitor General’s Office, he seemed to have consistently sided with those who were dismissive of efforts to eradicate the remnants of racial discrimination in our political process. In these same positions, he seemed dismissive of concerns that it is harder to make it in this world and in this economy when you are a woman rather than a man.”
Obama was also “deeply troubled” by “the philosophy, ideology and record” of yet another Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, Samuel Alito. “There is no indication that he [Alito] is not a man of fine character,” Obama said in a floor speech on January 26, 2006. “But when you look at his record, when it comes to his understanding of the Constitution, I found that in almost every case he consistently sides on behalf of the powerful against the powerless.”
Columnist Terrence Jeffrey observed in February 2008:
“In contrast to his soaring campaign rhetoric about bringing America together, Obama’s Senate speeches against Roberts and Alito revealed a polarizing vision of America. Minorities, women, employees and criminal defendants were among the weak; majorities, men, employers and prosecutors were among the strong.”
In April 2007, newsman Wolf Blitzer asked Obama, “Are there … Justices right now upon whom you would model [appointments to the Supreme Court]?” Obama replied, “Well, you know, I think actually Justice [Stephen] Breyer, Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg are very sensible judges. I think that Justice [David] Souter … is a sensible judge.”
In an August 2008 symposium, Obama was asked which, if any, of the current Supreme Court Justices he would not have nominated if he had been President at the time. He replied that he would not have nominated Clarence Thomas, because “I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation. Setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretation of a lot of the Constitution.”
On another occasion, Obama criticized Justice Antonin Scalia for believing “that the original understanding [of the Constitution] must be followed, and that if we strictly obey this rule, then Democracy is respected…. [I]t is unrealistic to believe that a judge, two hundred years later, can somehow discern the original intent of the Founders or ratifiers.”
Explaining the criteria by which he would appoint judges to the federal bench, Obama declared:
“We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy, to recognize what it’s like to be a young teenage mom, the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old–and that’s the criterion by which I’ll be selecting my judges.”
“I’ve spent my entire adult life working with SEIU. I’m not a newcomer to this. I didn’t just suddenly discover SEIU…. Your agenda’s been my agenda in the United States Senate. Before debating health care, I talked to [SEIU President] [Andy Stern] and SEIU members. Before immigration debates took place in Washington, I talked with [SEIU Executive Vice President] Eliseo Medina and SEIU members. Before the EFCA Employee Free Choice Act, I talked to SEIU.
Obama supports an initiative known as the Global Poverty Act (GPA), which, if signed into law, would compel the U.S. President to develop “and implement” a policy to “cut extreme global poverty in half by 2015 through aid, trade, debt relief,” and other means.
Said Obama in February 2008:
“With billions of people living on just dollars a day around the world, global poverty remains one of the greatest challenges and tragedies the international community faces. It must be a priority of American foreign policy to commit to eliminating extreme poverty and ensuring every child has food, shelter, and clean drinking water. As we strive to rebuild America’s standing in the world, this important bill will demonstrate our promise and commitment to those in the developing world…. Our commitment to the global economy must extend beyond trade agreements that are more about increasing profits than about helping workers and small farmers everywhere.”
According to a February 2008 report by Accuracy in Media editor Cliff Kincaid, the adoption of the GPA could “result in the imposition of a global tax on the United States” and would make levels “of U.S. foreign aid spending subservient to the dictates of the United Nations.” Kincaid stated that the legislation would earmark some 0.7 percent of the U.S. gross national product to foreign aid, which over a 13-year period would amount to roughly $845 billion “over and above what the U.S. already spends.”
During a July 2007 Democrat primary debate, Obama was asked: “[W]ould you be willing to meet separately, without preconditions, during the first year of your administration, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?”
He replied: “I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.”
Notwithstanding subsequent criticisms from Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden, and numerous other Democrats as well as political commentators — all of whom contended that some preconditions were essential — Obama initially did not change his position.
Over time, however, he and his campaign staffers sought to quietly, incrementally reframe Obama’s position. For instance, his senior policy advisor Susan Rice in early 2008 said Obama would “meet with the appropriate … leaders” of such countries, specifying Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In May 2008, Obama further parsed his words of the previous year: “What I said was I would meet with our adversaries including Iran, including Venezuela, including Cuba, including North Korea, without preconditions but that does not mean without preparation.”
When he was asked to explain how preconditions differed from preparation, Obama replied: There’s a huge difference … There are a whole series of steps that need to be taken before you have a presidential meeting but that doesn’t mean you expect the other side to agree to every item on your list.”
During a May 18, 2008 campaign event, Obama said: “Iran, Cuba, Venezuela — these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don’t pose a serious threat to us…. Iran may spend one-one hundredth of what we spend on the military. If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn’t stand a chance.” Two days later, he told another audience: “Iran is a grave threat. It has an illicit nuclear program. It supports terrorism across the regions and militias in Iraq. It threatens Israel’s existence. It denies the holocaust….”
For a wide-ranging overview of Obama’s voting record on an array of key issues, click here.
In January 2008 the National Journal published its rankings of all U.S. senators — based on how they had voted on a host of foreign and domestic policy bills — and rated Barack Obama “the most liberal Senator of 2007.” “Obama’s [foreign policy] liberal score of 92 and conservative score of 7 indicate that he was more liberal in that issue area than 92 percent of the senators and more conservative than 7 percent,” the researchers explained. In the area of domestic policy voting, the study found that “Obama voted the liberal position on 65 of the 66 key votes on which he voted … [and] garnered perfect liberal scores in both the economic and social categories.”
The leftist organization Americans for Democratic Action (ADA) similarly rated Obama’s Senate voting record at 97.5 percent. By contrast, the American Conservative Union (the ADA’s ideological antithesis) gave Obama a rating of 8 percent.
After declaring his presidential candidacy in early 2007, Obama clearly became far more focused on campaigning for his White House run than on performing the legislative duties for which he had been elected to the U.S. Senate. From January 2007 through September 2008, he missed 303 votes (a total of 46 percent of all votes that came before the Senate.
During the 2008 presidential campaign, Obama — through what historian Michael Ledeen described as “a secret back channel — sent Ambassador William G. Miller, who had previously (during the shah’s rule) served in Iran as chief of staff for the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, to Tehran to assure the mullahs that he (Obama) was a friend of the Islamic Republic, and that his policies would please them. Wrote Ledeen: “The central theme in Obama’s outreach to Iran is his conviction that the United States has historically played a wicked role in the Middle East, and that the best things he can do for that part of the world is to limit and withdraw American military might and empower our self-declared enemies, whose hostility to traditional American policies he largely shares.”
On November 4, 2008, Barack Obama was elected President of the United States. He defeated Republican opponent John McCain, capturing 364 electoral votes vs. McCain’s 162. Obama received a total of 64,538,980 votes (52.5%), vs. McCain’s 56,802,609 (46.2%).
On November 2, Obama delivered an impassioned campaign speech supporting Andrew Gillum‘s gubernatorial bid in Florida. Said Obama: “So, you want someone who is actually going to work for working people? Andrew Gillum is somebody who is going to work for working people. … He knows the promise of this country. So he’s not going to work for people who had it handed to them. He’s going to work for people who had to work their way up just like his parents did to look after him, to look after their families. Andrew has lived the American Dream. And if you give him your vote, he will fight to make sure every child in Florida has the same chance that this state and this country gave him.”
In a November 2020 interview, National Public Radio host Michel Martin asked Obama to speak about the “fever of racism” that allegedly plagued the United States. “That fever, as you said, that’s been a defining feature of a lot of our life,” Obama replied, adding that many American racists had resented his presidency simply because he was the first black man to hold that office:
“I think that what did happen during my presidency was yes, a backlash among some people who felt that somehow, I symbolized the possibility that they or their group were losing status not because of anything I did, but just by virtue of the fact that I didn’t look like all the other presidents previously…. It would surprise me if you didn’t have a big cross-section of the country that was still carrying around a bunch of baggage and still a little disturbed by the advances that African Americans had made. It would surprise me if changing demographics and the growing Latino population didn’t scare a certain segment of this population, just because I know enough about American history to know that that’s always been a fault line in American history.”
In the same interview, Obama lauded the nationwide protests and riots sparked by the May 25, 2020 incident in which George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man, had died shortly after a physical encounter with a white police officer in Minneapolis. Lamenting America’s intransigent “systemic injustices” in “inequities,” Obama said: “I think what happened this summer with George Floyd was so important, where you saw at least some shift in the general population in recognizing that there’s real racial bias in how our criminal laws are applied and how policing operates in this country.”
Obama was outraged in April 2021, when a white policewoman in Minnesota accidentally shot and killed a 20-year-old black man named Daunte Wright, who was resisting arrest and attempting to flee the scene. Said Obama in a statement:
“Our hearts are heavy over yet another shooting of a Black man, Daunte Wright, at the hands of police. The fact that this could happen even as the city of Minneapolis is going through the trial of Derek Chauvin and reliving the heart-wrenching murder of George Floyd indicates not just how important it is to conduct a full and transparent investigation, but also just how badly we need to reimagine policing and public safety in this country.
“Michelle [Obama] and I grieve alongside the Wright family for their loss. We empathize with the pain that Black mothers, fathers, and children are feeling after yet another senseless tragedy. And we will continue to work with all fair-minded Americans to confront historical inequities and bring about nationwide changes that are so long overdue.
“These fatal shootings are not isolated incidents. They are symptomatic of the broader challenges within our criminal justice system, the racial disparities that appear across the system year after year, and the resulting lack of trust that exists between law enforcement and too many of the communities they serve.”
In November 2020, Obama purchased an $11.75 million, 6,892-square-foot waterfront home situated on nearly 30 acres of land on Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The home is equipped with seven bedrooms, eight and a half bathrooms, several stone fireplaces, a detached barn, and a swimming pool. To view photos of the luxurious estate, click here.
Obama’s net worth at the time was approximately $135 million.
At a September 25, 2022 meeting of Hispanic realtors in San Diego, California, Obama stated that racism was the cause of the opposition that many Americans felt vis-a-vis the open borders and mass illegal migration that was occurring under President Biden. “Right now, the biggest fuel behind the Republican agenda is related to immigration and the fear that somehow America’s character is going to be changed if, people of darker shades, there are too many of them here,” said Obama. He also stated:
In the summer of 2022, Obama said: “Sometimes it just turns out they’re mean, they’re racist, they’re sexist, they’re angry. And your job is then to just beat them because they’re not persuadable.”
By The Unreported Story Society & Judicial Watch