Sore Losers Continue Attacks on Obama

While many Clinton supporters are now backing Barack Obama, unfortunately there remain segments who were so deluded by the distortions of the Clinton campaign that they still believe their own fictitious talking points. Perhaps the worst example of a liberal blog which exudes hatred of Obama on a regular basis is the blog I left to form this blog–The Democratic Daily. They continue to distort Obama’s positions in order to portray him as someone who does not respect Democratic values, while they supported a candidate who is significantly to the right of Obama on these issues.

Yesterday they had an inaccurate post on Obama’s support for faith based institutions, repeating the claim which AP later corrected that Obama would let “religious charities that receive federal funding consider religion in employment decision. This was corrected later in the day which may or not be apparent to readers of that rambling post,  If they paid attention to Obama’s actual speech they would have found he said:

“Now, make no mistake, as someone who used to teach constitutional law, I believe deeply in the separation of church and state, but I don’t believe this partnership will endanger that idea – so long as we follow a few basic principles. First, if you get a federal grant, you can’t use that grant money to proselytize to the people you help and you can’t discriminate against them – or against the people you hire – on the basis of their religion. Second, federal dollars that go directly to churches, temples, and mosques can only be used on secular programs. And we’ll also ensure that taxpayer dollars only go to those programs that actually work.”

The post further distorts Obama’s views on religion, ignoring the fact that he has taken the strongest stance of any of the candidates on defending separation of church and state.

The pathetic thing about Clinton supporters is that while the criticize Obama for moving towards the center during a political campaign, they fail to realize that Hillary Clinton has been moving towards the right for several years in preparation for running.  While they criticize Obama for supporting faith based initiatives (with appropariate protections to respect separation of church and state) they ignore the fact that Hillary Clinton has been a supporter of faith based initiatves for quite a while.  Even worse, Clinton has been heavily influenced by the religious right for years. This has had a negative influence on her policy positions, including her support for laws against flag burning and her vendetta against video games.

This same anti-Obama meme is seen again today with Stuart O’Neill quoting from Taylor Marsh to support his attacks. He might as well quote from Ann Coulter. Nothing which either has to say about Obama should be taken very seriously or considered to have any factual basis. O’Neill writes, ” I was busy writing about Hillary Clinton and didn’t study the details of Obama’s positions. As I’ve said here many times, I think the guy is an empty shirt.”

He didn’t, by his own admission, study the detail of his positions and yet he has the gall to clasify Obama as an empty shirt. It is hard to justify such an assessment of someone when you have not paid attention to what they have been saying.

His latest post is based upon Obama’s support for the FISA compromise. While I disagree with Obama on this, it is rather unfair, as well as dishonest, to deny his support for liberal values, especially when supporting someone far to the right of him on civil liberties issues. Besides, Clinton has come under plenty of criticism on her own for her weak opposition to the FISA bill. It is also Clinton, and not Obama who supported the war, even if the same blog has attempted to obfuscate the facts on this issue. It is also Clinton who has repeatedly resorted to pandering to fear of terrorism to attempt to scare voters into supporting her. It is this mind set which Clinton promotes which has created the entire problem with FISA.

Criticism of Obama, from the left or the right, is fair game. I’ve criticized a couple of his positions myself (on FISA and same-sex marriage) in the past week. However to criticize a specific policy is one thing. To continue to run the same type of campaign of distortion which we’ve seen from the Clintonistas even after their leader is out of the race is another thing entirely. If they would actually make the effort to study what Obama actually believes they would find that he has been the strongest supporter of liberal values and civil liberties to run for president this year. Besides, if they are concerned about Obama’s inevitable move towards the center, just imagine what would have happened if the candidate was Hillary Clinton, who started out far to the right of Obama on these issues. Finding faults in Obama does not mean that the alternatives were any better.

David Brooks Repeats False GOP Talking Points on Obama’s Tax Policy

Yesterday’s column by David Brooks illustrates why I both like and dislike his work. His column starts out making points similar to a recent post I wrote on the realignment between the parties, with an increasing number of educated and affluent voters now voting Democratic.  Brooks writes:

Political analysts now notice a gap between professionals and managers. Professionals, like lawyers and media types, tend to vote and give Democratic. Corporate managers tend to vote and give Republican. The former get their values from competitive universities and the media world; the latter get theirs from churches, management seminars and the country club.

The trends are pretty clear: rising economic sectors tend to favor Democrats while declining economic sectors are more likely to favor Republicans. The Democratic Party (not just Obama) has huge fund-raising advantages among people who work in electronics, communications, law and the catchall category of finance, insurance and real estate. Republicans have the advantage in agribusiness, oil and gas and transportation. Which set of sectors do you think are going to grow most quickly in this century’s service economy?

Initially I found some interesting material in his column, but he really goes downhill in the next paragraph:

Amazingly, Democrats have cultivated this donor base while trending populist on trade by forsaking much of the Clinton Third Way approach and by vowing to raise taxes on capital gains and the wealthy. If Obama’s tax plans go through, those affluent donors could wind up giving over 50 percent of their income to the federal government.

In terms of populism, it is notable that of the three major candidates this year, the two who ran populist campaigns, Clinton and Edwards lost while the candidate who is most market-oriented and influenced by Chicago school economists did win. Obama’s victory was a clear sign of the direction the Democratic Party has been moving for the last several years.

Even worse is the mischaracterization of Obama’s tax policies. Such scare tactics on his tax policies represent typical Republican attacks, similar to their old claims that Democrats will take away people’s guns and bibles. I didn’t bother to respond to this column yesterday as I’ve discussed Obama’s tax policies  recently (here and here). Obama’s tax policies are most likely designed to avoid scaring away the affluent new Democratic voters who Brooks discusses. Obama has been saying that those making up to $250,000 will not see an increase in taxes, including income taxes, capital gains taxes, and Social Security payroll taxes. It is primarily those in the top one tenth of one percent who will see an increase, primarily as they benefited the most from Bush’s tax cuts.

Jared Bernstein has commented further on this column:

According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center’s analysis of Obama’s tax plan, the correct share for the richest 1 percent of households–those with income above $600,000–is 36 percent; for the for the richest 0.1 percent, above $2.9 million, the rate would be 39 percent. Note also that since these estimates include taxes remitted by corporations, the actual tax returns that these households fill out would find them paying less than 30 percent of their income in taxes. Even with Senator Obama’s proposal to raise Social Security taxes on those with earnings above $250,000, a proposal for which he has yet to specify a rate, tax liabilities of the affluent would still be far below 50 percent of their income.

It’s also worth noting that these tax rates for those at the top of the scale are about the same as those that prevailed under Bill Clinton’s presidency (average for the top 1 percent, 1993-2000: 35 percent), a period of strong and broadly shared economic growth.

John McCain and Flip-Flopping


John McCain’s flip-flops have become a common topic of discussion in the news media and blogosphere. Keith Olbermann mentioned several in the video above (transcript under the fold). Crooks and Liars followed up with links to back up a list of flip-flops (including a link to a previous post here):

Political reform, Immigration, Gay marriage, Abortion, Nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain, Military actions against rogue states, Negotiating with Kim Jong Il, Negotiating with Castro, Negotiating with terrorists (acceptable in 2002 when Powell went to Syria. In 2006, McCain said sooner or later we’ll talk to Hamas, not appropriate now), Unilateral action against suspected terrorists in Pakistan (Confused leadership with Obama, not with Bush) Warrantless wiretapping, Torturing Detainees, Indefinitely holding detainees, Iraq War, Tax cuts for the rich, Estate tax, Privatizing Social Security, Balanced budget, Windfall profits tax, Offshore drilling, Bush fundraisers, Jerry Falwell, Pastor John Hagee, MLK Jr. holiday, South Africa divestment, the confederate flag, and alternatives to evolution being taught at school

McCain has not only flip-flopped on policy, but has also flip-flopped on his admission that he doesn’t know much about economics. First Read reminds McCain of the many times he as admitted this.

Steve Benen has compiled a long list of flip-flops and discusses the topic today. He notes that the media is much less concerned about flip-flops when McCain is being accused of this than when John Kerry was accused of flip-flopping in 2004. Flip-flops need to be evaluated on their individual merit. Most of the flip-flops that Kerry was accused of were based upon Republicans distorting Kerry’s position and then claiming a flip-flop when his actual position did not match what they claimed it was. Often it is justifiable to change one’s mind, especially when conditions change or when new information is available. Politicians must consider what their constituents want and what legislation has a chance to pass, which can vary over time.

Steve also agrees that a flip-flop is not always bad, but is concerned of the manner in which McCain has changed his mind out of political expediency when running for president:

But therein lies the point — McCain was consistent on most of these issues, right up until he started running for president, at which point he conveniently abandoned literally dozens of positions he used to hold. The problem isn’t just the incessant flip-flops — though that’s part of it — it’s more about the shameless pandering and hollow convictions behind the incessant flip-flops. That the media still perceives McCain as some kind of “straight talker” who refuses to sway with the political winds makes this all the more glaring.

As Josh Marshall recently put it, “McCain is absolutely gung-ho and certain that he’s right about whatever his position and ‘principles’ are at the given moment. But they change repeatedly.”