Obama’s Top Ten Fabrications As Created By The RNC

Hotline-on-Call has posted Obama’s Top Ten Fabrications, invented by the Republican National Committee in preparation for Barack Obama’s scheduled appearance on David Letterman’s show. If this is the best they can do, the RNC is slipping. They’ve invented far better lies in the past. Sooner or later we’ll hear from the Obama Class Mates For Truth and get the real dirt (even if invented). Despite the claim of fabrications here, I suspect that if you take two old class mates as adults and ask them their perceptions of what happened during their school years, you will get two different stories and both will pass a polygraph test.

It is hardly worth going through the full list. The top Obama fabrication deals with the story Obama said he read in Life but couldn’t be found. It does appear to be true that the article Obama mentioned did not appear in Life. It turns out that similar stories appeared in both Time and Look. I guess everyone will have to decide for themselves if they can vote for a man who would confuse Time and Life magazines. Then they can consider a President who confused Iraq for the people behind the 9/11 attack and went to war against the wrong country. Apparently some of the current GOP candidates even backed that decision.

I’m not sure of the answers to some of the others, but they are pretty mild compared to many of the statements from the Republican front runners. Anyone want to discuss Mitt Romney’s life-long hunting? It is possible that Obama did take some artistic license in writing his autobiography. I guess it would be good to get an explanation for these possible discrepancies, but actually I’m far more interested in hearing the details of Obama’s health care plan or how he’d get us out of Iraq.

Update: More debunking at The Anonymous Liberal

Obama Joins Edwards in Boycotting Fox Debate, But Can This Be Taken Further?

Barack Obama has joined John Edwards in boycotting the debates hosted by the Congressional Black Caucus and to be broadcast by Fox. Last week Edwards announced he would not appear, stating “there’s just no reason for Democrats to give Fox a platform to advance the right-wing agenda while pretending they’re objective.” While the debates might have gone on without Edwards, having a second major candidate boycott them greatly reduces the chances that they will be taken seriously.

Fox has used previous occassions such as debates to distort and attack the messages presented by Democrats while pretending to provide news coverage. Fox is not a news outlet and should not be treated like one. They have the right to express their opinions, however distasteful and vile their opinions might be, but they should not be allowed to pretend to be a news organization while actively promoting the agenda of the authoritarian right.

Boycotting these debates is a logical first step. I wonder if more can be done. Perhaps their access should also be considered. Fox should be considered an opinion source like Air America, The New Republic, and The National Review. To the degree that such opinion sources are allowed access to news makers and events, Fox should be treated the same. If only news outlets are allowed, this should exclude Fox. Fox should not be treated like a news network unless they decide to respect basic principles of journalism in presenting news rather than Pravda-like propaganda.

Update: Ben Smith reports that Hillary Clinton is also not participating. (I think this one from him is pretty clear cut–it’s not like he’s saying that Hillary is suspending her debating for that evening.)

Update II: While I’m rarely surprised by the irrational comments from the conservative blogs, I found a new example of bizarre logic in tracking back the links to this post. Confederate Yankee first incorrectly claims that the argument against Democratic candidates appearing on Fox is that this would legitimize them. They go from there to an even more absurd argument that somehow Nancy Pelosi’s trip to Syria legitimizes any crimes committed by the Syrian government. They even repeat the common, but totally erroneous, claim that her actions were illegal, while having no problems with Republicans who also visited Syria. Their underlying logic is actually very simple. The authoritarian right neither respects democracy or the fact that there is more than one branch of government, and any perceived challenge to the absolute authority of their leader should be a crime.

Fox is not a legitimate news source due to their failure to respect basic journalistic principles of fairness and objectivity. Their legitimacy is not determined by who appears on the network. Visiting countries such as Syria is part of Pelosi’s job, and this also has nothing to do with legitimacy. This is a normal function of Congress under normal circumstances. This becomes even more important when faced with a President who is incapable of performing the duties of his office in a competent manner.

End the Other War–The War on Drugs (and Minorities)

Cato-at-Liberty points out that, in addition to the recommendations of the American Freedom Agenda discussed in the previous post, there is another area where a liberal blogger called for Democratic candidates to be more liberal/libertarian–on the drug war. Ariana Huffington wrote about the drug war last week, noting “a major disconnect in the 2008 Democratic race for the White House. While all the top candidates are vying for the black and Latino vote, they are completely ignoring one of the most pressing issues affecting those constituencies: the failed War on Drugs, a war that has morphed into a war on people of color.” Huffington wrote:

Our political leaders’ avoidance of this issue comes with a very stiff price (and not just the more than $50 billion a year we’re spending on the failed drug war). The toll is paid in shattered families, devastated inner cities, and wasted lives (with no apologies for using that term).

During the ten years I’ve been writing about the injustice of the drug war, I’ve repeatedly seen politicians pay lip service to doing something about it, then duck and watch as the sickening status quo claimed more victims. Here in California, of the 171,000 inmates jamming our wildly overcrowded prisons, 36,000 are nonviolent drug offenders.

Huffington notes that a Republican is calling for reform, and calls on the Democratic candidates to do the same:

The injustice is so egregious that a conservative Republican senator, Jeff Sessions, is now leading the charge in Congress to ease crack sentences.

“I believe that as a matter of law enforcement and good public policy crack cocaine sentences are too heavy and can’t be justified,” says Sessions. “People don’t want us to be soft on crime, but I think we ought to make the law more rational.”

There’s a talking point Hillary and Obama should adopt. It’s both the right thing and the smart thing. Because of disenfranchisement statues, large numbers of black men who were convicted of drug crimes are ineligible to vote, even those who have fully paid their debt to society. A 2000 study found that 1.4 million African American men — 13 percent of the total black male population — were unable to vote in the 2000 election because of state laws barring felons access to the polls. In Florida, one in three black men is permanently disqualified from voting. Think that might have made a difference in the 2000 race? Our short-sighted drug laws have become the 21st Century manifestation of Jim Crow.

Joining the Conservatives When They Are Right

I agree with John Nichols. This is a platform which I would like to see all the candidates endorse:

• End the use of military commissions to prosecute crimes.

• Prohibit the use of secret evidence or evidence obtained by torture.

• Prohibit the detention of American citizens as enemy combatants without proof.

• Restore habeas corpus for alleged alien combatants.

• End National Security Agency warrantless wiretapping.

• Empower Congress to challenge presidential signing statements.

• Bar executive use of the state secret privilege to deny justice.

• Prohibit the President from collaborating with foreign governments to kidnap, detain of torture persons abroad.

• Amend the Espionage Act to permit journalists to report on classified national security matters without threat of persecution.

• Prohibit of the labeling of groups or individuals in the U.S. as global terrorists based on secret evidence.

Nichols reports that these proposals come from the American Freedom Agenda which is chaired by Bruce Fein, a “former Nixon administration aide who served as deputy attorney general under President Reagan.” We may disagree with some of his previous actions, including his work on the impeachment of Bill Clinton. We may also question some of the others involved, such as Richard Viguerie, but their arguments make perfect sense:

“The most conservative principles of the Constitution have been repeatedly violated in the last several years,” says Fein. “[The] Founding Fathers engrafted a system of checks and review of one branch by another — a system of due process safeguards against injustice that is likely to occur because of prejudice and fear. And those checks and balances have eroded enormously over the last several years, particularly since 9/11.”

Viguerie is even blunter, suggesting that “a constitutional crisis… has developed to alarming proportion under President George W. Bush.”

Rejecting the suggestion that conservatives must remain silent because Bush is supposedly one of their own, Viguerie says, “Conservatives must not fail to oppose the massive expansion of presidential powers out of fear they will be aid and comfort to the Left. Concern about one branch of government acquiring excessive power should not be the providence of liberals, moderates, or conservatives. It must be the concern of all Americans who value liberty…”

Preserving civil liberties and restoring the checks and balances on government which were eroded under George Bush should be a top priority. We now have people on both the right and the left who are calling for this. I hope we can get the candidates of both parties of sign on to these principles. After all, Republicans would be following the lead of prominent conservatives, and, besides the fact that these are liberal principles, Democrats such as Clinton and Obama have at times sought to reach across the aisle on ideas in which there is shared agreement.