Thursday, October 2, 2008

Obama as the post-Marxist Left's "Manchurian Candidate"

Some notes by Barry Rubin

The left's--and here I mean far left--support (promotion? creation? management?)--of Obama is incredibly significant. Obama is not just another liberal candidate and what is going on now in the Democratic party's candidate is not just some offshoot of Franklin Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnson, the Clintons, Al Gore (when he gets off the issue of climate change at least), and so on.

Here's a scoop for you: go look at Bill Ayers's site and check out his logo. This isn't something done 20 years ago but recently. When you see the star, go check out NLF and North Vietnamese flags. Yep, it is their logo. So here is a close companero of the Democratic presidential nominee thumbing his nose at America by choosing the symbol of the North Vietnamese and NLF Communist groups which killed 35000 Americans and lots more Vietnamese. Ayers knew what he was doing. He didn't worry because he was not afraid anyone would mind or that the media would expose him. Wonder what Vietnam war vets, even those of mixed feelings about the war, think of that one. Will Ayers be an honored guest in the Obama White House?

The story missed here is the basic philosophy and strategy of the post-Marxist far left that so parallels Obama and his doings. It comes from the three main themes of the far left from the failure of the 1960s-1970s down to today.

The first theme is the composition of leadership and main cadre for the far left movement within the United States, stemming from what was once called the "New Working Class" concept of "the long march through the institutions." With the proletariat (the old Marxist Communist version of revolutionary force) having failed to bring revolution (remember these are supposedly backward people who cling to guns, religion, etc., etc) the motive force of the revolution would be upper middle class professionals, people like community organizers, directors of hospital outreach programs, foundation executives, people in the media, entertainment industry and academia, etc. This is really what has come to pass.

The key figure here is not Che Guevera but Antonio Gramsci, founding leader of the Italian Communist Party who came up with the idea of seizing control of the cultural-intellectual institutions. For the slogan, seize the means of production (factories), you can substitute in this hi-tech, post-industrial age: seize the means of idea-value-cultural production.

The second theme is to build an alliance of minorities and marginalized groups whose "oppression" has supposedly made them both outsiders and haters of the American system--non-whites, women, gays, etc. But this theme has been weakened more than the other two pillars. Regarding women, Hillary Clinton provided an alternative view and the mistreatment of Hillary-who I voted for, by the way-lost a lot of voters. Now along comes Sarah Palin to show that women can take many different political viewpoints. (They're almost as untrustworthy as the proletariat, the revolutionary theorists must be saying.) Also women have made remarkable progress in America so even remaining grievances can be seen as solvable without any big changes in America.

Moreover, Hispanics can be pretty religious and conservative, while Asian immigrants may also focus on the work ethic and educational achievement. Jews furnish many individual cadre but the community as a whole is alienated because of its concern for Israel and sensitivity toward mounting antisemitism (often fomented by the left). For a number of reasons, then, this second theme has become weaker, a major factor in undermining the left.

The third theme is the global dimension of the revolutionary concept of the post-Marxist left. Remember that 35 years ago the Weathermen had already seen the main purpose of revolution in America as supporting the Third World, it was an altruistic self-sacrifice of privilege of those who had given up on the proletariat.

But the Third World revolutionaries of the earlier years--Ho Chi Minh, Che Guevera, etc.,--are gone. Most of these people nowadays, except for the occasional Latin American dictator with populist rhetoric, happen to be radical Islamists.

Let's face it, this movement down deep sees forces like Iran, Syria, and radical Islamism as, at worst, allies, and at least more beneficial forces in the world than America.

This doesn't mean that an Obama presidency would be in the hands of the far left. There would be many historically mainstream liberal types and technocrats. But there is a far-ranging program and very extreme world view behind this movement. Some of its policies would be disastrous for America and the world on purpose. Others would be catastrophic because they misunderstand the world and reject such historic triumphs of Western civilization as pragmatism, the scientific method, the Enlightenment, and even basic constitutional freedoms. For example, what would be left of freedom of speech after not just "hate speech" but what could be called "offensive speech" has been delegitimized if not criminalized?

A lot more sophisticated attention and thought needs to be put on the post-Marxist left, Obama, and American culture and educational systems. This is not liberalism but the far left hijacking liberalism in a way that the Communist party tried to do--with far less success--in the 1930s. And it is very scary.

Above article received by email

Obama: I Didn't Actually Talk To Any Skeptical House Members

Obama, yesterday:
"I was on the phone every day with Secretary Paulson and the congressional leaders, making sure that the principles that have ultimately been adopted were incorporated into the bill," Obama told CBS's Bob Schieffer, explaining, "I think, [that] is an indication of the degree to which, when it comes to protecting taxpayers, I was pushing very hard and involved in shaping those provisions."

The New York Times, today:
Aides to Mr. Obama said he had not directly reached out to try to sway any House Democrats who opposed the measure. But where Mr. McCain had accused Mr. Obama of taking a hands-off approach to the financial crisis, Democratic advisers said they believed that Mr. McCain now had a role in the legislation's failure.

(Hat tip, MKH.) Why was Obama talking to the cabinet official and congressional leaders who were already on board than the rank-and-file of his own party who were skeptical? Why didn't he talk to the three Democrats from Chicago who opposed the bill? Why didn't he talk to the twelve Democrats on the banking committee who opposed the bill? This is the persuasion equivalent of "voting present."


Amazing (dis)Grace: Obama children video

Watching this video has disturbed me more than almost anything I have seen in recent years. It is the kind of exploitation of children that reminds me of Young Pioneer Camps I saw when visiting the Soviet Union in the Eighties. You could say, as some have, that this is much like what happens with children in churches and synagogues across America, but this is about a political figure - one of two current presidential candidates and the one leading in the polls. The Drudge headline references the "Dear Leader." Quite apt. Here for you edification are the words of the people who saw fit to put this together (there's more at the link):

Sing for Change chronicles a recent Sunday afternoon, when 22 children, ages 5-12, gathered to sing original songs in the belief that their singing would lift up our communities for the coming election. Light, hope, courage and love shine through these nonvoting children who believe that their very best contribution to the Obama campaign is to sing.

And they complain about the religious right - can you imagine the reaction to a similar group of kids singing about McCain under the tutelage of an evangelical minister?


Bill v. Barack on Banks

Clinton instructs Obama on finance and Phil Gramm

A running cliche of the political left and the press corps these days is that our current financial problems all flow from Congress's 1999 decision to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933 that separated commercial and investment banking. Barack Obama has been selling this line every day. Bill Clinton signed that "deregulation" bill into law, and he knows better.

In, Maria Bartiromo reports that she asked the former President last week whether he regretted signing that legislation. Mr. Clinton's reply: "No, because it wasn't a complete deregulation at all. We still have heavy regulations and insurance on bank deposits, requirements on banks for capital and for disclosure. I thought at the time that it might lead to more stable investments and a reduced pressure on Wall Street to produce quarterly profits that were always bigger than the previous quarter.

"But I have really thought about this a lot. I don't see that signing that bill had anything to do with the current crisis. Indeed, one of the things that has helped stabilize the current situation as much as it has is the purchase of Merrill Lynch by Bank of America, which was much smoother than it would have been if I hadn't signed that bill."

One of the writers of that legislation was then-Senator Phil Gramm, who is now advising John McCain, and who Mr. Obama described last week as "the architect in the United States Senate of the deregulatory steps that helped cause this mess." Ms. Bartiromo asked Mr. Clinton if he felt Mr. Gramm had sold him "a bill of goods"?

Mr. Clinton: "Not on this bill I don't think he did. You know, Phil Gramm and I disagreed on a lot of things, but he can't possibly be wrong about everything. On the Glass-Steagall thing, like I said, if you could demonstrate to me that it was a mistake, I'd be glad to look at the evidence.

"But I can't blame [the Republicans]. This wasn't something they forced me into. I really believed that given the level of oversight of banks and their ability to have more patient capital, if you made it possible for [commercial banks] to go into the investment banking business as Continental European investment banks could always do, that it might give us a more stable source of long-term investment."

We agree that Mr. Clinton isn't wrong about everything. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act passed the Senate on a 90-8 vote, including 38 Democrats and such notable Obama supporters as Chuck Schumer, John Kerry, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Dick Durbin, Tom Daschle -- oh, and Joe Biden. Mr. Schumer was especially fulsome in his endorsement.

As for the sins of "deregulation" more broadly, this is a political fairy tale. The least regulated of our financial institutions -- hedge funds -- have posed the least systemic risks in the current panic. The big investment banks that got into the most trouble could have made the same mortgage investments before 1999 as they did afterwards. One of their problems was that Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns weren't diversified enough. They prospered for years through direct lending and high leverage via the likes of asset-backed securities without accepting commercial deposits. But when the panic hit, this meant they lacked an adequate capital cushion to absorb losses.

Meanwhile, commercial banks that had heavier capital requirements were struggling to compete with the Wall Street giants throughout the 1990s. Some of the deposit-taking banks that were allowed to diversify after 1999, such as J.P. Morgan and Bank of America, are now in a stronger position to withstand the current turmoil. They have been able to help stabilize the financial system through acquisitions of Bear Stearns, Washington Mutual, Merrill Lynch and Countrywide Financial.

Mr. Obama's "deregulation" trope may be good politics, but it's bad history and is dangerous if he really believes it. The U.S. is going to need a stable, innovative financial system after this panic ends, and we won't get that if Mr. Obama and his media chorus think the answer is to return to Depression-era rules amid global financial competition. Perhaps the Senator should ask the former President for a briefing.


Biden & Partners

How they're making Delaware a mecca for the tort bar

Joe Biden debates Sarah Palin tomorrow night, so expect to hear a lot about how he and Barack Obama will change Washington. Moderator Gwen Ifill might want to ask the Democratic Vice Presidential nominee how that message squares with the story of Mr. Biden, his son, and the lawsuit lobby.

A remarkable political fact of Mr. Biden's career is that his top campaign contributor is SimmonsCooper, a law firm in Madison County, Illinois, of all places. Aficionados of tort law will understand. SimmonsCooper is a big asbestos player, and Madison County was until recently one of America's meccas for jackpot justice. But the story gets better: Mr. Biden has been helping the tort bar turn his home state of Delaware into a statewide Madison County.

SimmonsCooper made hundreds of millions of dollars on asbestos cases in Madison County, but that started to change in 2004. The business community helped to elect conservative Lloyd Karmeier to the Illinois Supreme Court. Madison County Circuit Judge Daniel Stack also took over the asbestos docket, was determined to clean house, and began dismissing suits filed by residents outside his jurisdiction.

SimmonsCooper and other firms started shopping for a new legal goldmine. And where better than Delaware? Many companies incorporate there, which means a list of defendants usually includes a Delaware target. Beginning in mid-2005, SimmonsCooper began transferring its suits to Bidenland.

The trial bar's strategy has been to overwhelm Delaware's once-sensible legal system, taking advantage of rules that pressure companies to settle. In the 22 months following SimmonsCooper's first asbestos filing in Delaware, the state was hit with 412 suits, primarily from SimmonsCooper and fellow asbestos giant Baron & Budd.

According to the Madison County Record -- a legal journal that has doggedly followed this story -- clerks in Wilmington were "working nights and weekends to keep up" with the filings. The trial lawyers drew sympathetic judges that have already overseen big verdicts against defendants, primarily Detroit auto makers. Plaintiffs have obtained certain procedures that raise the costs of defense, and restrict defendants' ability to take discovery.

To keep the jackpots coming, the tort bar has focused on reshaping Delaware's political and judicial landscape. SimmonsCooper knows all about this, having spent a fortune on judicial and county board elections in Madison County. The trial bar poured money into the 2004 re-election campaign of Democratic Governor Ruth Ann Minner, who happens to control judicial appointments in Delaware. Some 24 national asbestos and plaintiffs attorneys -- including Dickie Scruggs, since convicted of bribery -- contributed the legal maximum in the run-up to Ms. Minner's victory. SimmonsCooper has also contributed nearly $35,000 to Jack Markell, the Democrat running to replace Ms. Minner this fall.

Also up for special attention was Beau Biden, son of Senator Biden. SimmonsCooper needed a local firm to file its Delaware suits, and it settled on Bifferato, Gentilotti and Biden, where Beau was a partner. This gave young Beau a share of the firm's asbestos winnings. Beau Biden was also widely known to have political ambitions, and SimmonsCooper donated $35,000 to help Beau get elected state attorney general in 2006. Meanwhile, SimmonsCooper employees have funneled $200,000 in campaign donations to the senior Biden.

"Delaware is fast becoming asbestos lawsuit central," says Steve Hantler, president of the American Justice Partnership Foundation, and a former Chrysler assistant general counsel. "A tsunami of lawsuits being filed by the SimmonsCooper firm, along with the flow of campaign dollars to Delaware politicians is quite the troubling coincidence."

Mr. Biden is one of the tort bar's staunchest allies in Congress, blocking reform at every opportunity while trying to defeat conservative judicial nominees. His quid pro quo with SimmonsCooper in Delaware helps explain why asbestos suits continue to weigh down the courts even after tens of thousands of cases have been shown to be invented. The "change" lawyers will believe in if Mr. Biden makes it to the White House is cold, hard cash.


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1 comment:

mary said...

Dude the only thing you have a PhD in is rank stupidity.
Have a nice life moron.