Sunday, April 27, 2008

All eyes are on Indiana: A little knock at the door from the Clinton campaign...quoting Ralph Nader's Public Citizen

Northern Indiana/The Campaign Trail of Tears--Just three-days-ago we got a call on our telephone from the Clinton campaign asking if we were supporting Senator Clinton. You can guess my answer:

"No, we're voting Obama." I said. The Clinton-volunteer was very well-mannered, but sounded genuinely disappointed and made the call painless and brief. What can I say? There's no force on earth that would compel me to lose my mind and vote for Hillary Clinton. Admittedly, there are many times I feel it's not worth it to vote for Obama either. That's where the usefulness of the third party and "third-way" come in. Victory comes in successfully pressuring office-holders while constructing a solid political base. Change comes slowly, over generations.

Still, I think Obama's capable of listening to the American public if we pressure him enough, rather than achieving nothing-at-all with the Republicans. There's a reason why the remnants of our national unions don't contribute to the GOP--they should begin reconsidering their financial support of the DNC, it hasn't worked-out for them. Nonetheless, we should be asking ourselves why we have to pressure politicians who talk the talk, but refuse to walk the walk. We should be asking them directly why they vote the way they do, and quit ignoring the warning signs.

Frankly, Obama's a mixed-bag and he's being coy about a lot of his voting behavior in the Senate. Senators Obama and Clinton skipped the vote on the renewal of FISA with the constitutionally questionable Protect America Act (PAA) provisions that could grant the telecommunications companies legal immunity from prosecution for cooperating with illegal warrantless surveillance program initiated by the Bush administration in 2002.

This was very cagey behavior, and it raises very serious questions about their commitment to upholding the right of the American public to privacy. This is just one example, there are many others. Importantly, candidates Obama, Clinton, and McCain need to explain why they keep funding the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, and why there haven't been serious moves towards impeachment of the current administration.

Saturday, we received the mailer below (pictured with its reverse-side). What's interesting is that it makes a case that is just another half-truth about candidate Obama. While it's true that Senator Clinton voted against HR 6 in the summer of 2005, and Obama voted for it, her campaign's math is wrong in the subsides to big oil and other dirty energy industries, and there are other problems in the mailer.

Is Barack Obama hiding his light underneath a bushel?
Perhaps, but note the language in the mailer: "THE TRUTH: Energy company employees donated over $650,000 to Barack Obama and got what they wanted." Note that the key word is "employees." That could be anyone. It could be a CEO, or it could be an engineer. It could be a janitor or even a secretary, maybe even a couple of warehouse workers. The mailer doesn't go into that kind of detail, but it should when it makes such scathing accusations.
Looking directly at its source--the Center for Responsive Politics's website companies aren't anywhere near the top donors to Obama, but sketchy lenders like JP Morgan Chase and Citigroup are. The mailer has its origins in a campaign strategy that appears to have been unleashed as early as late-February, early-March of this year in other states.

Frankly, candidate Clinton has no room to criticize. The last few weeks have shown that the Senator from New York is willing to stoop very low indeed to win, and is willing to win at any cost. Her donors represent the Fortune 500 in as many areas as Obama's do, if not more. That should tell you something about how forthcoming she'll be as a president. Not even race-baiting has been low enough, and that suggests a tendency towards ruthlessness. This should be no surprise.

Clinton's campaign quoting of Public Citizen's article "The Best Bill Corporations Could Buy: Summary of Industry Giveaways in the 2005 Energy Bill" is particularly galling considering Ralph Nader and his campaign aren't impressed with either candidate, and likely less so with Clinton. "Indiana families can't afford Barack Obama"? That's a presumptuous comment considering that the Senator and her husband granted China most favored nation trading status to China in the early-1990s, as well as the passage of NAFTA, running roughshod over the unions and everyone else standing in the way.

The Clintons were hardly alone in this anti-labor charge. The reason that the GOP hates the Clintons so much is because they simply stole their fire. It's a personal enmity, not a doctrinal one. They've got the Republicans beat at being anti-labor, and they're working on being more hawk-like when it comes to war. That's why Senator Clinton won't apologize for her "yea" vote that gave full-authorization for aggression against Iraq in 2002. She's hardly sorry about it at all. Why should she be? Actions speak louder than words. She might find-out how John Kerry felt in 2004, possibly the first political casualty of the war in Iraq. So be it.

Candidate Obama appears to have his own problems in these areas as well, but admittedly has a considerably shorter
voting record on social issues, and generally, everything else. He wasn't in the Senate in 2002, and so we can only speculate how he would have voted. It's the opinion of this writer than he would have given it a "yea" vote had he been in office at the time. None of this speaks well of him.

What we do know is sometimes troubling, and Senator Obama should be able to answer direct questions regarding the reasoning behind how and why he voted the way he did on particular issues. However, a much greater onus is on Senator Clinton since we have a clearer picture of where she's coming-from, and it's not the left. There is more hope with Obama, but it should be tempered with a stark pragmatism and suspicion. Shaking babies (for loose-change), and kissing hands (of the rich) isn't going to cut it anymore.

"The Best Bill Corporations Could Buy: Summary of Industry Giveaways in the 2005 Energy Bill, Public Citizen, July, 2005.

The St. Petersburg Times on the accuracy of the Clinton campaign's claims against Obama and energy company donations:

Senate Rollcall for HR6, Summer of 2005:

Exactly how Ralph Nader feels about Hillary Clinton's track record:

Contributions to Senator Barack Obama's campaigns from 1989-2006, Center for Responsive Politics, as of March 31st, 2008: