Archive for the ‘US politics’ Category

President Felipe Calderon had no right to criticize the state of Arizona over its attempt to enforce the immigration laws of the United States

May 22, 2010

PRESIDENT FELIPE CALDERON CRITICIZED THE ARIZONA LAW DESIGNED TO ENFORCE ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION DURING A JOINT SESSION OF CONGRESS ON MAY 20, 2010 IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. VICE PRESIDENT JOSEPH BIDEN AND SPEAKER OF THE HOUSE NANCY PELOSI APPLAUDED MR. CALDERON'S CRITICISM OF ARIZONA'S LAW.

 

During a recent two-day state visit to Washington, D.C., Felipe Calderon, Mexico’s president, lectured Americans on immigration policy. 

Mr. Calderon specifically criticized the law passed by the state of Arizona, which was designed to enforce federal law against illegal aliens in the United States because of lack of enforcement of immigration laws by the federal government. 

“Despite their enormous contribution to the economy and society of the United States,” there are persons who “still live in the shadows, and at times, like in Arizona, even face patterns of discrimination,” Mr. Calderon said at a ceremony at the White House to begin his visit. 

At a joint appearance with President Obama, Mr. Calderon told reporters that Mexico is against laws that “criminalize migration.”   

“We will retain our firm rejection to criminalize migration so that people that work and provide things to [the United States] will be treated as criminals,” Mr. Calderon said. 

In an appearance Thursday before a joint session of Congress on in the House of Representatives, Mr. Calderon told lawmakers that Arizona’s law “introduces the terrible idea that racial profiling is a basis for law enforcement.”  Mr. Calderon received a standing ovation from some — including Vice President Joseph Biden and Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi.  A video of the applause: 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLt3GgDQgVY  

The three members of the Obama Administration who attended Mr. Calderon’s speech to Congress — Attorney General Eric Holder, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Interior Secretary Ken  Salazar — all joined in the ovation for Mr. Calderon. 

In an interview before he departed the United States, Mr. Calderon said that “migration is a natural phenomenon and obeys the economic dynamic between the U.S. and Mexico.  It’s a textbook case of a big economy that is capital intensive and a  small economy that is labor intensive.” 

Mr. Calderon said of the Arizona law: “We worry because it has a clear element of presumption, including racial, that can open up a gap in understanding, and create hatred that will benefit no one, not Mexico and certainly not Arizona.” 

Many question the right of Mr. Calderon to criticize the United States when his own country is intolerant of civil rights. 

“Mexico is a total police state where its inhabitants and anyone who dares visit are subjected to some of the most draconian and brutal law enforcement measures on the planet,” wrote Paul Joseph Watson and Alex Jones in an article at prisonplanet.com.  

“Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison,” wrote Jerry Seper in washingtontimes.com.  “Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years.  Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms.  Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.” 

In response to Mr. Calderon’s remarks made to Congress, U.S. Representative Walter B. Jones of North Carolina issued a statement, which stated: 

I must say that I resent President Calderon coming into our country and criticizing our immigration laws.  Medico has some of the strictest immigration policies in the world, yet Mr. Calderon has the audacity to come into our Congress and criticize our laws.  That is outrageous, and I am extremely disappointed that other members of Congress and the Obama Administration choose to applaud those remarks. 

America is fed up with the drug cartels, human trafficking and the array of other criminal activity that continues to overload our southern border.  It is not the place of President Calderon to come into our country and criticize Arizona for passing a measure designed to give law enforcement reasonable tools to protect the people.  It would be more productive for the President to assist us in our efforts by discouraging his citizens from entering our country illegally. 

“I don’t think we should have some foreign leader come in here and criticize the statute of a state, where they are implementing a federal law on a state basis,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah about Mr. Calderon’s statements. 

“It was inappropriate for President Calderon to lecture Americans on our own  state and federal laws,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas. 

Throughout the United States, letters have appeared from ordinary Americans who were upset by Mr. Calderon’s lecture to Congress.  A letter from a woman in Texas that appeared on congress.org is an example: 

I am so very ashamed of our United States Government for giving the Mexican President praise and applause for coming here and degrading my country!!  I am simply livid!!  This man has No right to come and discuss our people and our laws — he can’t even run his own country and take care of his people.  I’m tired of my President apologizing all over the place for our beliefs.  I’m sick & tired of supporting all these ILLEGAL immigrants!!  . . . And why hammer Arizona for doing what’s supposed to be YOUR job!!!  . . . I’m fed up with illegals looking to me like I owe them something!  Either be an American for Americans or get to hell out of my house!!! 

A more well known American, Rush Limbaugh, remarked on his radio show: 

I saw it.  I saw the spectacle.  I watched a little bit of it.  Felipe Calderon’s speech to a joint session of Congress beating up on the Arizona law, criticizing the Arizona law and blaming us for al the guns in Mexico.  And the Democrats standing up and applauding, giving him a standing ovation for this.  This is unprecedented.  We have never before had an ally come  to the United States, make a speech before a joint session of Congress, rip our country, rip our states and have the Democratic Party stand up and applaud.  . . . It’s very, very troublesome. 

 (Photo Credit: Kevin Dietsch of UPI)

REP.WALTER.JONES

REP. WALTER JONES (R-NC) SAID HE RESENTED PRESIDENT CALDERON’S CRITICISM OF UNITED STATES IMMIGRATION LAWS

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Photographs of presidents of the United States of America

January 25, 2009
GERALD FORD, RICHARD NIXON, GEORGE H. W. BUSH, RONALD REAGAN AND JIMMY CARTER (DEDICATION OF THE RONALD REAGAN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY -- 1991)

GERALD FORD, RICHARD NIXON, GEORGE H. W. BUSH, RONALD REAGAN AND JIMMY CARTER (DEDICATION OF THE RONALD REAGAN PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY -- 1991)

Here are some photographs of presidents of the United States of America from Richard M. Nixon to Barack H. Obama.  All photographs were found at flickr.com. 

BARACK H. OBAMA (JAN 13 2009)

BARACK H. OBAMA (JAN 13 2009)

JIMMY CARTER (2007)

JIMMY CARTER (2007)

 

 

 

 

GERALD R. FORD

GERALD R. FORD

 

 

 

WILLIAM J. CLINTON

WILLIAM J. CLINTON

 

 

 

RICHARD M. NIXON

RICHARD M. NIXON

 

GEORGE H. W. BUSH

GEORGE H. W. BUSH

 

 

GEORGE W. BUSH

GEORGE W. BUSH

 

RONALD W. REAGAN

RONALD W. REAGAN

Photo and Art Credits:

Jimmy Carter (Brett Weinstein, aka Nrbelex)

William J. Clinton (Saint Anselm College — Jun  11 2007 — by Gil Talbot)\

Richard M. Nixon (oil on canvas — 1968 — Norman Rockwell)

George H. W. Bush (rally at Birmingham, Mich. — October 1980 — by John Levanen)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, BARACK OBAMA, GEORGE W. BUSH, WILLIAM J. CLINTON AND JIMMY CARTER (OVAL OFFICE -- JAN 25 2009)

GEORGE H. W. BUSH, BARACK OBAMA, GEORGE W. BUSH, WILLIAM J. CLINTON AND JIMMY CARTER (OVAL OFFICE -- JAN 25 2009)

Roland Burris was appointed by Gov. Blagojevich to fill Barack Obama’s senate seat but Mr. Obama is against the governor’s appointment

December 31, 2008
ROLAND BURRIS AT A PRESS CONFERENCE WITH GOVERNOR BLAGOJEVICH

ROLAND BURRIS AT A PRESS CONFERENCE WITH GOVERNOR BLAGOJEVICH

In a surprise announcement, Gov. Rod Blagojevich of Illinois appointed Roland W. Burris to Barack Obama’s vacant position in the United States Senate.

At a press conference on December 30, 2008, Gov. Blagojevich called Mr. Burris “a senior statesman of the state of Illinois.” 

Governor Blagojevich added: “Please don’t let the allegations against me taint this good and honest man.”

A 16 minute video of the press conference from the web site of C-Span is found at this link: http://www.c-span.org/Watch/watch.aspx?MediaId=HP-R-13848

Congressman Bobby Rush (D-Ill.) spoke on Mr. Burris’ behalf at the press conference.

“I will ask you to not hang and lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointer,” Rep. Rush said.

Burris, 71, currently runs a political consulting firm that bears his name (Burris and Lebed Consulting) and is senior counsel at the Chicago law firm of Gonzalez Saggio Harlan.  His appointment  must be certified by the Illinois Secretary of State  Jesse White and accepted by the United States Senate. 

Secreary of State White said that he will not certify Mr. Burris “because of the cloud of controversy surrounding the governor.”   Even if Mr. Burris is certified by the  secretary of state, Mr. Burris is likely to have a difficult time being accepted into the Senate because President Elect Barack Obama is against the governor’s appointment.  Mr. Obama issued a statment that read:

Roland Burns is a good man and a fine public service, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they can not accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat.  I agree with  their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it.  I believe that the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place.  While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy.

Mr. Obama was the only African American member of the Senate.  Burris is also an African American.

Mr. Burris’ last government job was that of attorney general of the state of Illinois from 1991-95.   (While attorney general, he was chair of the Civil Rights Committee of the National Association of Attorneys General.)  He ran against Richard M. Daley for mayor of Chicago in 1995 but was defeated. 

Lost elections are nothing new to Mr. Burris.  His other disappointments in elections: an unsuccesful run for a state house position in 1968, defeated in a campaign for comptroller of the state of Illinois in 1974, turned away by voters in his bid for the United States Senate in 1984 (he lost to Paul Simon in the primary; Rep. Rahm Emanuel worked on Mr. Simon’s campaign) and three primary election losses in runs for Governor in 1994, 1998 and 2002.   (In 2002, he lost to Gov. Blagojevich. )

Mr. Burris was the vice chairperson of the Democratic National Committee from 1985-89.  He was comptroller of  the state of Illinois from 1979-91.  When he was successful in his 1978 campaign for comptroller, he became the first African-American to win a statewide office in Illinois.

Mr. Burris was born in Centralia, Ilinois on Aug. 3, 1931.  He obtained a B.A. in political science from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale and a J.D. in 1963 from Howard University.  He is married to Berlean M. Burris, Ph.D.

Photo Credit

xxx

U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey recused himself from the Bernard Madoff prosecution so that his son, Marc Mukasey, can represent a close employee of Mr. Madoff

December 18, 2008
A CARTOONIST'S DEPICTION OF MR. MUKASEY DURING HIS SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARINGS

A CARTOONIST'S DEPICTION OF MR. MUKASEY DURING HIS SENATE CONFIRMATION HEARINGS

BERNARD MADOFF AT HIS SECURITIES OFFICE IN HAPPIER DAYS WHEN HE WAS CONSIDERED TO BE A FINANCIAL MAVEN AND A BIG MACHER; HE HAS BEEN REDUCED TO THE STATUS OF A MOMZER NOW THAT HIS TRUE CHARACTER HAS BECOME KNOWN
BERNARD MADOFF AT HIS SECURITIES OFFICE IN HAPPIER DAYS WHEN HE WAS CONSIDERED TO BE A FINANCIAL MAVEN AND A BIG MACHER; HE HAS BEEN REDUCED TO THE STATUS OF A MOMZER NOW THAT HIS TRUE CHARACTER HAS BECOME KNOWN

When the federal government is involved in prosecuting perhaps the biggest financial fraud ever perpetuated by a single securities firm, it would be expected that the top law enforcement lawyer in  the United States — the attorney general — would take a center stage in the case.  But United States Attorney General Michael Mukasey recused himself from the case.  Why?  So that his son, a partner in Rudolph Giuliani’s law firm, can represent one of the members of Bernard Madoff’s now defunct securities company.  (Mr. Giuliani, the mayor of New York City on 9/11, was the United States Associate Attorney General in the 1980s during the Reagan administration.)

Justice Department spokesman Peter Carr said on Wednesday that Attorney General Mukasey would not be involved in any aspect of Mr. Madoff’s prosecution, which is being run by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan.

Attorney General Mukasey’s taking himself out of the Madoff prosecution is akin to Eli Manning declining to play in the Super Bowl, which would have caused Giants fans to yell bloody murder if Mr. Manning had sidelined himself.

Marc L. Mukasey, a partner in the law firm of Bracewell & Giuliani, is representing Frank DiPascali, the top financial officer of Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities LLC operated by the notorious Bernard Madoff, a 70-year-old New Yorker.  The young Mr. Mukasey has neutralized the older Mr. Mukasey from performing the job that Americans expect the United States Attorney General to perform.

“DiPascali was the Madoff employee who had the most day-to-day contact with the firm’s investors,” said an article by Pete Yost and Marcy Gordon of the Associated Press.  “Several described him as the man they reached by phone when they had questions about the firm’s investment strategy, or wanted to add or subtract money from their accounts.”

“Officials in Washington declined to answer if the Attorney General knew Bernard Madoff personally from his time in New York,” said Jason Ryan of ABC News.

Attorney General Mukasey is a 1959 graduate of the Ramaz School, a modern Orthodox Jewish school in New York.  The school invested $6 million in a fund that was a client of Mr. Madoff, said Kenny Rochlin,  Ramaz’s director of institutional advancement, according to a report on Bloomberg.com.

It was reported by Eric Lichtblau of the New York Times that Mr. Madoff’s wife, Ruth Madoff, 67, also has close ties to the Ramaz school in Manhattan, where she served on the board.

Marc Mukasey was an assistant United States attorney in New York for eight years.  He is currently the head of Mr. Guiliani’s White Collar Criminal Defense and Special Investigations practice.  Mr. Mukasey’s web  site states that his practice involves the representation of corporations and individuals accused of “securities fraud, antitrust violations, environmental crimes, money laundering, bribery, mail/wire fraud, tax offenses, embezzlement, and other business crimes.”

Americans throughout the country are outraged by the horrendous treachery of  Mr. Madoff, whose crimes have disproportionately affected Jewish Americans and Jewish charities. 

“Many of the investors allegedly swindled by Wall Street money manager Bernard Madoff are, like him, Jewish, and for many of them, contributing to Jewish causes is a crucial part of their culture,” said an Associated Press article.  “The effect of their losses on the Jewish philanthropic world is being seen as nothing less than catastrophic.”

Jewish Americans from Orthodox to Reformed congregations are furious at the wickedness of Mr. Madoff.  The Orthodox internet publication, Vos Iz Neias? (What Is News?) ran a headline that stated: Bernie “the Ganef” Out On Bail: Gets Curfew, Monitoring Bracelet At Hearing.  Mukasey: I Am Out Of This Case.  The Israeli internet publication, YNetNews, had a headline stating: Madoff scandal “a shot through Jewish heart.”

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said it missed repeated opportunities to discover Mr. Madoff’s fraud.  SEC chairman Christopher Cox said that the SEC failed to act on “credible, specific” allegations about Mr. Madoff dating back to 1999.

“I am gravely concerned by the apparent multiple failures over at least a decade to thoroughly investigate these allegations or at least any point to seek formal authority to pursue them,” Mr. Cox said in a written statement.

“I can’t comprehend how a well-run investigation would have missed a fraud of this magnitude,” said Lynn Turner, a former SEC chief accountant.

At article on Bloomberg.com by David Scheer and Allan Dodds Frank stated:

The SEC, already faulted over the collapse of Bear Stearns Cos. and Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc., faces critcism for failing to detect the fraud that prosecutors say Madoff confessed to.  A House panel will hold a hearing  next month.

Madoff’s responses to a 2005 SEC inspection of his brokerage operation should have raised suspicions and prompted further inquiries, said two people familiar with the matter.

Two years later, the agency closed a separate probe into tips and press report suggesting his investment returns were too good to be true.  Money manager Harry Markopolos helped trigger that inquiry by suggesting Madoff may be running a Ponzi scheme or front-running, a person with knowledge of the  case said.  In the latter practice, traders buy shares for their account before filling customer orders, betting on a likely market move.

One of the SEC’s investigative teams that examined the Madoff firm was headed by a lawyer named Eric Swanson, who served 10 years at the SEC before leaving in 2006 when he was the assistant director of the office of compliance inspections and examinations in Washington.  In 2007, Mr. Swanson married Shana Madoff, a niece of Bernard Madoff and the daughter of his brother, Peter Madoff, the Madoff firm’s chief compliance officer.

The SEC issued a statement in which it reported that Mr. Swanson was part of a team that looked into the books of Mr. Madoff’s securities firm in 1999 and 2004.  It said that it has “strict rules” prohibiting employees from participating in cases involving companies in which they have a personal interest.

Mr. Swanson is currently employed by BATS Exchange in Kansas City, according to the New York Times.

Rabbi Shmuley Boteach wrote in the Dec. 16, 2008 issue of Vos Iz Neias? titled The “Ganef” Madoff: Rancid Materialism Is Corrupting Our Community:

The Jewish community better get serious about the cancer that’s growing inside it.  The devastation on Wall Street carries a lot of Jewish names, from firms like Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers to individuals such as Bernard Madoff, whose $50 billion Ponzi scheme collapsed over the weekend, and  lawyer Marc Dreier, arrested last week for defrauding investors of millions of dollars.

On the Internet more and more people who don’t like us are beginning to connect the dots, pointing out that there are an awful lot of Jews who bear responsibility for Wall Street’s fall.  Anti-Semites will always find something to hate us for, and I’m way to busy to worry about what a bunch of bigots think anyway.

Rather, what worries me is this: what if some [of] it is true?  What if our community has become too obsessed with money? . . . What if a disproportionately large number of young Jews are running to work on Wall Street and never even considering  jobs like teaching, the rabbinate, or doing outreach becasue the compensation, comparatively, stinks?

Mr. Madoff is out of custody on bail.  U.S. Magistrate Judge Gabriel Gorenstein ordered Mr. Madoff to wear an ankle monitoring  bracelet and stay at his Park Avenue apartment from 7 p.m. to 9 a.m.  Judge Gorenstein also ordered Mr. Madoff and his wife to surrender their passports.

For a 35-second video clip of Mr. Madoff at an April 2004 hearing, during which he suggests that he is an honest money manager, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KGDF4MZn_uY

BERNARD.MADOFF.PRISON.PHOTO.BY.PETER.RAD

BERNARD MADOFF IN PRISON (PHOTO BY PETER RAD)

Art Credit:

Mukasey cartoon (Dwayne Booth, a Los Angeles cartoonist, who goes by the name of Mr. Fish)

Is Rahm Emanuel a good choice to serve as Barack Obama’s chief of staff in the White House?

December 6, 2008
REP. RAHM ISRAEL EMANUEL

REP. RAHM ISRAEL EMANUEL

President-elect Barack Obama’s first appointment to a high position in his administration was Rep. Rahm Israel Emanuel (D-Ill.).  The question arises whether Mr. Emanuel’s ties to Israel will interfere with the opportunity for Mr. Obama to work on an effective Israel-Palestine peace plan.

Mr. Emanuel, 49, did not serve in the United States military.  However, he was a volunteer for the Israel Defense Forces at an Israeli army base during the 1991 Gulf War.  His hawkish pro-Israel position — perhaps as strong as the position of Sen. Joseph Lieberman — suggests that the Obama Administration may not promptly end the war in Iraq.  Mr. Obama’s promises about Iraq have gone from “I will bring this war to an end in 2009” (statement made before he won the nomination of the Democratic party) to his current goal of gradually removing troops until most of them are removed by the summer of 2010.

Mr. Emanuel’s Israeli pedigree was discussed by Anshel Pfeffer and Shlomo Shamir, who wrote in the Nov. 6, 2008 issue of Haaretz:

Emanuel, a former Bill Clinton adviser, is the son of a Jerusalem-born pediatrician who was a member of the Irgun (Etzel or IZL), a militant Zionist group that operated in Palestine between 1931 and 1948.

Commentator and humorist Jay D. Homnick tried to visualize the Arab reaction to hearing about Mr. Emanuel’s selection by Mr. Obama.  In the Nov. 7, 2008 edition of The American Spectator, Mr. Homnick wrote:

To the Palestinians, hearing that a Jew was the first pick can’t be encouraging.  To hear he’s an Israeli must be galling.  But to hear he comes from an Irgun family will enrage them to a fever pitch.

The Arabs, even the most simpatico among them, are not fans of the Zionists who liberated Israel from British rule.  The fact that Ben-Gurion, Weitzmann and their Haganah force were political leftists endears them but little.  Still, through gritted teeth they learn to tolerate.  But try and mention Begin’s Irgun or Yitzhak Shamir’s Lehi to any non-Jewish Middle Easterner and watch smoke coming out of their ears.  The Irgun and Lehi were the right-wing, and a much tougher crew.  The story of Anwar Sadat is rendered far more amazing by his willingness to make peace not only with Israel, but an Israel led by arch enemy Begin.

Mr. Homnick wrote that pro-Israel persons “have to like that Obama’s first thumb went into someone else’s eye.”

Shortly after Mr. Emanuel’s appointment was announced, Mr. Emanuel’s father, Dr. Benjamin Emanuel, made a disparaging remark about Arabs.  Speaking about his son’s potential impact on the Obama administration, Dr. Emanuel said in an inteview with Ma’ariv, an Israeli newspaper:

Obviously he’ll influence the President to be pro-Israel.  Why wouldn’t he?  What is he, an Arab?  He’s not going to be mopping floors at the White House.

Dr. Emanuel’s remarks brought a prompt response from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC).  In a letter to Rep. Emanuel  dated Nov. 11, 2008 from Mary Rose Oakar, ADC president, and Kareem Shora, the organization’s executive director, the ADC asked Rep. Emanuel to publicly disavow and repudiate his father’s “unacceptable smear.”  Ms. Oakar and  Mr. Shora wrote:

One can readily imagine the justifiable outcry if someone made a similar remark about African-Americans, Jews, or Hispanics, concerning cleaning the floors of the White House.   Do the normal standards of decency and  civility not apply when talking about Arabs? . . . We sincerely hope you distance yourself from any demeaning characterizations of any ethnic, religious, or racial group.

A statement issued by Rep. Emanuel’s office said that Mr. Emanuel called Ms. Oakar and “apologized on behalf of his family and offered to meet with representatives of the Arab-American community at an appropriate time in the future.” 

The ADA website reported that Rep. Emanuel said: “From the fullness of my heart, I personally apologize on behalf of my family and  me.  These are not the values upon which I was raised or those of my family.”

Apology or no apology, Rep. Emanuel’s hard line pro-Israel position can not be dismissed.

A Sept. 25, 2006 article by Nina Easton, Washington bureau chief of Fortune, was titled Rahm Emanuel, Pitbull politician.  Ms. Easton further described the Emanuel family’s Israeli military connection:

“[Rahm Emanuel] has one of the strongest survival instincts I’ve ever seen,” says longtime friend Mary Leslie, who attributes that inner reserve to his Israeli roots.  His father, Benjamin, was born in Jersusalem, the son of pharmacists who had escaped the Russian pogroms.  In the 1940s Benjamin Emanuel interrupted his medical school training in Switzerland to take part in an unsuccesful scheme to smuggle guns from Czechoslovakia to the Israeli underground.  He later served as a medic in the 1948 Israeli war of independence.  (Rahm would echo his father’s dedication during the Gulf war.  With Iraqi Scuds falling on his father’s home country, he volunteered for military-vehicle-maintenance duty near the Lebanese border.)

The Haaretz article by Mr. Pfeffer and Mr. Shamir said that Mr. Emanuel was named for a friend of Dr. Emanuel named “Rahamin,” who was killed while fighting for Lehi.  (Lehi is the Hebrew acronym for the Lohamei Herut Israel, Fighters for the Freedom of Israel, also known as the Stern Gang after its notorious leader Avraham Stern.)

Mr. Emanuel’s surname also results from fighting for Israel.   Elisabeth Bumiller wrote in the June 15, 1997 edition of The New York Times Magazine:

The Boys [Rahm and his two brothers, Ariel and Ezekiel, aka Zeke] went to summer camp in Israel, and reveled in the family lore: in 1933, after their uncle Emanuel Auerbachwas killed in a skirmish with Arabs in Jerusalem, the family changed its last name to his first, as a tribute. 

An article in the Nov. 6, 2008 issue of The Jewish Journal noted that Mr. Emanuel is bearish about a Palestine-Israel peace agreement.  The publication stated:

These days, however, Emanuel is not optimistic about the chance of a Palestinian state arising from the current ruin.  “If you were to say up front, ‘We’re creating a state and then we’re negotiating the details,” he told CNBC last summer, “not only would you be rewarding terrorism, you would be rewarding all the corruption that goes with it.”

Mr. Obama’s selection of Mr. Emanuel supports the position of Ralph Nader that Mr. Obamais siding with hard-liners for Israel.  In an open letter to Mr. Obama dated Nov. 3, 2008, Mr. Nader said that Mr. Obama made a

transformation from an articulate defender of Palestinian rights in Chicago before your run for the U.S. Senate to an acolyte, a dittoman for the hard-line AIPAC lobby, which bolsters the militaristic oppression, occupation, blockage, colonization and land-water seizures over the years of the Palestinian peoples and their shrunken territories in the West Bank and Gaza.

Mr. Nader said that for “there [to] be a chance for a peaceful resolution of this 60-year plus conflict” between Israel and Palestine, there will need to be support by the United States.  He then criticized Mr. Obama for not being even handed in the conflict:

[Y]ou align yourself with the hard-liners, so much so that in your infamous, demeaning speech to the AIPAC convention right after you gained the nomination of the Democratic Party, you supported an ‘undivided Jerusalem,’ and opposed negotiations with Hamas — the elected government in Gaza.  Once again, you ignored the will of the Israeli people who, in a March 1, 2008 poll by the respected newspaper Haaretz, showed that 64% of Israelis favored ‘direct negotiations with Hamas.’  Siding with the AIPAC hard-liners is what one of the many leading Palestinians advocating dialogue and peace with the Israeli people was describing when he wrote ‘Anti-semitism today is the persecution of Palestinian society by the Israeli state.’

In an interview of Mr. Nader by Alexander Cockburn in the Nov. 7/8, 2008 edition of Counterpunch, Mr. Nader described Mr. Emanuel as “the worst of Clinton” and a “[s]pokesman for Wall Street, Israel, globalization.”

Mr. Emanuel was born in Chicago, where he attended Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School.  His family moved to Wilmette, IL, a lake shore Chicago suburb, where he graduated from New Trier High School.  Short in stature (5′-7″) with dark circles under his eyes, Mr. Emanuel also studied ballet at the Evanston School of Ballet.  He obtained a liberal arts degree at Sarah Lawrence College in 1981.  (In an article in the Summer 2003 issue of Sarah Lawrence Magazine Mr. Emanuel said that he studied “American history — we studied mainly by reading Supreme Court opinions on major constitutional issues.”)  Mr. Emanuel also obtained a master’s degree in speech and communication from Northwestern University in 1985. 

While working on his undergraduate degree, Mr. Emanuel worked on the unsuccessful congressional campaign of David Robinson of Chicago.  He worked on Democrat Paul Simon’s election to the U.S. Senate in 1984.  In 1988, he became the national campaign director for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).  In 1989, he served as the senior advisor and chief fundraiser for Richard M. Daley’s successful campaign for mayor of Chicago.

After his volunteer service in Israel, Mr. Emanuel became the director of finance for then Governor Bill Clinton’s presidential primary campaign in 1991.

Mr. Emanuel’s fundraising skills were described in the Nov. 6, 2008 edition of The Jewish Journal.  The article quoted Steve Rabinowitz, a political and public relations consultant in Washington who also worked in the Clinton White House: “He schmoozed many, many millions [of dollars] all over the country, including money from traditional Democratic Party givers, who are disproportionately Jewish, and new Democratic givers.”

After Mr. Clinton was elected president, Mr. Emanuel was a senior advisor to Mr. Clinton in the White House from 1993-98.  He served as assistant to the president for political affairs and then senior advisor to the president for policy and strategy.

Ms. Easton discussed Mr. Emanuel’s tenure with the Clinton Administration in her Fortune article on Mr. Emanuel.  She wrote:

A year after Clinton took office, Emanuel was demoted.  “He was very upset,” recalls [brother] Zeke.  “He thought he was going to get kicked out of the White House.”  He didn’t, and neither did he quit.  Instead, Emanuel regrouped, helping lead the charge on key Clinton initiatives, including the crime bill, the assault weapons ban, and NAFTA.  “He was constantly on the offense,” says [Paul] Begala.  Emanuel planned to leave after the 1996 election, but Clinton promoted him to take George Stephanopoulos’s spot as senior advisor for policy and strategy.

Still, Emanuel had political aspirations of his own, which necessitated some financial security.  So in late 1996 he traded in Clinton as his boss for Bruce Wasserstein, a major Democratic donor and Wall Street financier.  ‘Money is not the be-all and end-all for him,” says brother Zeke.  “But he knew he needed money so that wouldn’t be a problem while he was doing public service.”  Over a 2 1/2-year period he helped broker deals — often using political connections — for Wasserstein Perella.

According  to congressional financial disclosures, he earned more than $18 million during that period.  His deals included Unicom’s merger with Peco Energy and venture fund GTCR Golder Rauner’s purchase of SBC subsidiary SecurityLink.  But friends say his competition also benefited from two sales of the Wasserstein firm itself, first to Dresdner Bank and then to Allianz AG.

While a member of the Clinton Administration, Mr. Emanuel was present for the 1993 Rose Garden signing ceremony after the Oslo accord between Israel and Palestine.  It was reported that he choreographed the handshake between Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat.

Mr. Emanuel left his position in the Clinton Administration to accept a high paying investment banking job with Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein in Chicago, where he reportedly earned an estimated $16-18 million.

“It’s a striking sum even in the richly paid world of corporate deal-making, let alone for someone without an MBA or any prior business experience other than running a small political consultancy,” said a 2003 Chicago Tribune story about Mr. Emanuel’s substantial earnings.

The timing of his departure from Dresdner Kleinwort was fortuitous for Mr. Emanuel because a few years later the investment bank began booking large losses.

“Dresdner Kleinwort racked up losses towards the end of [2007] from investments in subprime and other risky investments,” reported Reuters on March 14, 2008. 

Dresdner Kleinwort was part of Germany’s Dresdner Bank AG, which was owned by Europe’s biggest insurer, Allianz SE.  In September 2008, The Wall Street Journal reported that Dresdner Kleinwort was eliminating about 3,000 jobs to bring its work force to about 6,000.

In Mr. Emanuel’s first congressional financial disclosure, he reported earning $9.7 million in deferred and other compensation in 2002 alone from Wasserstein Perella and Co.

Mr. Emanuel also has ties to another institution which contributed to the current financial crisis: the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation (aka Freddie Mac).  Mr. Emanuel served on the board of directors of Freddie Mac between 2000 and 2003.  

“Clinton’s going-away gift to Emanuel was a seat on the quasi-governmental Freddie Mac board, which paid him $231,655 in director’s fees in 2001 and $31,060 in 2000,” wrote Lynn Sweet in the Chicago Sun-Times on Jan. 3, 2002.  Mr. Emanuel told Ms. Sweet that his duties as a member of the board were to attend quarterly meetings and take part in committee meetings in person or via phone.

Mr. Emanuel ran for United States Representative for the 5th District of Illinois and took office in 2002.  His candidacy was at the end of his tenure with Freddie Mac, which contributed $25,000 to his campaign, according to the Chicago Sun-Times article by Ms. Sweet.  (Freddie Mac was Mr. Emanuel’s third largest contributor.)   He ran for the seat vacated by Rod Blagojevich, who became the governor of Illinois.  During the campaign, he “indicted his support of President Bush’s position on Iraq, but said he believed the president needed to better articulate his position to the American people,” reported Eli Kintisch for Jewish Telegraphic Agency.  

During Mr. Emanuel’s campaign, he was able to get the assistance of the National Jewish Democratic Council (NJDC) to condemn allegedly anti-semitic comments made about Mr. Emanuel by the late Edward Moskal, president of the Polish American Congress.  Mr. Moska was supporting Nancy Kaszak, a Polish-American state representative, for the position being sought by Mr. Emanuel.  He charged that Mr. Emanuel had dual citizenship with Israel and had served in the Israeli Army.

Ira N. Forman, executive director of the NJDC, stated in an NJDC press release dated March 7, 2002 that “Emanuel was born in Chicago and never served in the Israeli army.”  

The Israel army status is probably more a matter of semantics (i.e., volunteer in the Israel army or volunteer with the Israel army).  In an interview with NBC News’ Andrea Mitchell on the day that Mr. Emanuel endorsed Mr. Obama for president, Ms. Mitchell said to Mr. Emanuel that “you were in the Israeli army” and Mr. Emanuel nodded his head in agreement.  

[NOTE — See 1:19 into the video at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21134540/vp/24970618#24970618See also 0:44 into the video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U_yA8J-oGQkSee also article dated Nov. 2, 2008 by Orly Azoulay in the Israeli publication Ynet News: “When Bill Clinton began his campaign for presidency, he appointed Rahm Emanuel to direct the campaign’s finance committee.  But Emanuel left when the Gulf War broke out, in order to volunteer in the IDF.”]

After Mr. Emanuel easily defeated Republican challenger Mark Augusti in the general election, he supported the October 2002 joint Congressional resolution authorizing the Iraq War.  The other nine members of the Illinois Congressional delegation including Sen. Richard Durbin voted against the resolution.

An example of Mr. Emanuel’s hawkish, pro-Israel position was pointed out in an editorial by Ali Abunimah in the Nov. 5, 2008 edition of The Electric Intifada:

In Congress, Emanuel has been a consistent and vocal pro-Israel hardliner, sometimes more so than President Bush.  In June 2003, for example, he  signed a letter criticizing Bush for being insufficiently supportive of Israel.  “We were deeply dismayed to hear your criticism of Israel for fighting acts of terror,” Emanuel, along with 33 other Democrats wrote to Bush.  The letter said that Israel’s policy of assassinating Palestinian political leaders “was clearly justified as an application of Israel’s right to self-defense.”

In July 2006, Emanuel was one of several members of Congress who called for the cancellation of a speech to Congress by visiting Iraqi prime minister Nouri al-Maliki because al-Maliki criticized Israel’s bombing of Lebanon.  Emanual called the Lebanese and Palestinian governments “totalitarian entities with militias and terrorists acting as democracies” in a 19 July 2006 speech supporting a House resolution backing Israel’s bombing of both countries that caused thousands of civilian victims.

Mr. Emanuel became a member of the house sub-committee that had oversight of Freddie Mac, reported Ms. Sweet in the Chicago Sun-Times.  Ms. Sweet reported that Mr. Emanuel also had options for 2,500 shares of Freddie Mac while he was on the sub-committee.  Mr. Emanuel told Ms. Sweet that it was not a conflict of interest because his financial stake in Freddie Mac was in a blind trust and he would recuse himself from voting on Freddie Mac issues.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) ultimately charged Freddie Mac with assisting in 85 fundraisers between 2000 and 2003 that collected about $1.7 million for federal candidates.  In 2006, Freddie Mac paid a $3.8 million fine to the FEC to settle the case.  See press release from the FEC at http://www.fec.gov/press/press2006/20060418mur.html

In 2005, Mr. Emanuel was named the chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC).  The committee recruits candidates for the House of Representatives and helps to raise funds for Democrats running for the House.

“As head of the party arm charged with recruiting and electing candidates, [Emanuel] was known to end fundraising calls with the oath: ‘Fuck you.  I love you,'” said an article titled Battering Rahm: Democrat attack dog in the Nov. 8, 2008 issue of London’s The Guardian.

Democratic strategist Paul Begala described Mr. Emanuel’s aggressive style as a “cross between a hemorrhoid and a toothache,” it was reported by Ms. Easton in her article in Fortune. 

“I love Rahm but that’s a small group of us,” Mr. Begala was quoted as saying.   “He’s not a beloved figure like Tip O’Neill or Dick Gephardt.  Rahm’s there because they want to win.”

On his reputation as a Democratic attack dog, Mr. Emanuel was quoted in the Nov. 12, 2006 Chicago Tribune: “I wake up some mornings hating me too.”

Mr. Emanuel is known to be vulgar and overly aggressive when working behind the scenes.  His off-camera vocabulary is said to be peppered with four letter words; he “knows his way around lewd speech as well as any David Mamet character,” wrote Jack Shafer in the Nov. 6, 2006 edition of Slate.  “Emanuel . . . is a drama queen; seething, foaming Mamet production; a big mouth; and a calculating mensch who loves nothing more than to stroke the feed bag for press-corps noshers.”   (Mr. Mamet is a short — 5′ 6″ — Jewish screenwriter/director/producer/playwright/poet from Chicago known for realistic, profane dialog and whose “gritty work . . .reflects the hardened attitude of his native Chicago and often revolves around domineering male characters and their macho posturing.”   Biography on Mr. Mamet promoting his availability as a speaker through The American Program Bureau.

Mr. Emanuel has been said to display “naked aggression” and a “slash-and-burn style,” wrote Robert Kurson in a recent article in Esquire.

An example of Mr. Emanuel’s aggressiveness was mentioned in an article by Joshua Green in the Oct. 20, 2005 edition of Rolling Stone:

[T]here’s the story of how, the night after Clinton was elected, Emanuel was so angry at the president’s enemies that he stood up at a celebratory dinner with colleagues from the campaign, grabbed a steak knife and began rattling off a list of betrayers, shouting “Dead! . . . Dead! . . . Dead!” and plunging the knife into the table after every name.  “When he was done, the table looked like a lunar landscape,” one campaign veteran recalls.  “It was like something out of The Godfather.  But that’s Rahm for you.”

Ms. Easton further described the perception of Mr. Emanuel by other Democratic officials:

He also symbolizes the party’s painful internal divisions.  He is praised by Democratic strategists who think the party needs to resist moving left (nearly twice as many American voters call themselves conservative as call themselves liberal) and distrusted by some in the party’s liberal wing.  He considers Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman a good friend, even though Lieberman’s support of the Iraq War inflamed leftist sentiment and cost him his party’s nomination. . . . Emanuel himself criticizes Bush’s conduct of the war but not the original decision to topple Saddam Hussein.

Ms. Easton further reported about Mr. Emanuel’s support of the Iraq war:

On Iraq, Emanuel has steered clear of the withdraw-now crowd, preferring to criticize Bush for military failures since the 2003 invasion.  “The war never had to turn out this way,” he told me at one of his campaign stops.  In January 2005, when asked by Meet the Press’s Tim Russert whether he would have voted to authorize the war — “knowing that there are no weapons of mass destruction” — Emanuel answered yes.  (He didn’t take office until after the vote.)  “I still believe that getting rid of Saddam Hussein was the right thing to do, okay?” he added.

In an essay dated Dec. 9, 2005, Andrew Cockburn wrote in Counterpunch that Mr. Emanuel recruited candidates who were not strong opponents of the Iraq War.

As [head of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee] he decides which candidates for the House should get money and other support from the national party.  At a time when any fool can see that the public hates the war more this month than last, and will hate it even more next month and the month after that, [Mr. Emanuel] is doing his best to recruit candidates, preferably rich ones, guaranteed to eschew vocal opposition to the war.

Mr.Cockburn also reported that NAFTA, which passed in 1993, resulted in “the consequent evisceration of the American industrial economy” and that Mr. Emanuel “directed the Clinton White House operation to get the treaty passed by any means necessary.”

Writing in the Oct. 24, 2006 edition of Counterpunch, John Walsh provided insight into Mr. Emanuel’s view on the Iraq war and how to deal with leaders who might criticize Israel:

The war on Iraq benefited Israel by laying waste a country seen to be one of its major adversaries.  Emanuel’s commitment to Israel and his Congressional service to it are not in doubt.  The most recent evidence was his attack on the U.S. puppet Prime Minister of Iraq, Nouri al Maliki, because Maliki had labeled Israel’s attack on Lebanon as an act of “aggression.”  Emanuel called on Maliki to cancel his address to Congress; and he was joined by his close friend and DSCC counterpart, Sen. Chuck Schumer, who asked: “Which side is he (Maliki) on when it comes to the war on terror?”  In terms of retired Senator Fritz Holling’s statement that Congress is Israeli occupied territory, Rahm Emanuel must be considered one of the occupying troops. 

In April 2006, Mr. Emanuel announced that he would support Hillary Rodham Clinton if she ran for the presidency in 2008.  In January 2007, Mr. Obama asked Mr. Emanuel to support him for his bid for the presidency.  Mr. Emanuel chose to stay officially neutral.

“I’m hiding under the desk,” Mr. Emanuel was quoted by reporter Mike Dorning in the Chicago Tribune.  “I’m hiding under the desk.  I’m very far under the desk, and I’m bringing my paper and my phone.”

Mr. Emanuel stayed neutral in the Clinton-Obama battle for the Democratic nomination until June 4, 2008, when Mr. Obama’s nomination became all but a certainty.  Mr. Emanuel was the last member of the Illinois Congressional delegation to endorse Mr. Obama.  The endorsement was made just before Mr. Emanuel went with Mr. Obama for Mr. Obama’s appearance before the AIPAC executive committee.

Referring to the AIPAC meeting, Mr. Emanuel said in an interview on June 4, 2008 on All Things Considered on National Public Radio:

This is where I wanted to support him.  Without a doubt there were a lot of expectations in today’s speech, and I think he gave a very powerful speech. . . . What is a friend?  Somebody who you implicitly trust for their loyalty and you expect their honesty.  If Barack was elected, Israel would have a friend.

In 2006, Mr. Emanuel became the Democratic Caucus Chairman.  He succeeded Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC), who was elevated to Majority Whip.  During 2006, he also co-authored a book titled The Plan: Big Ideas for America with former Clinton policy advisor Bruce Reed, president of the Democratic Leadership Council.  

In The Plan, the authors proposed compulsory service for all Americans ages 18 to 25.  To “fight against the spread of  evil and totalitarianism” the authors suggested increasing “the military’s ‘thin green line’ around the world by adding to the U.S. Special Forces and the Marines, and by expanding the U.S. army by 100,000 more troops.”  They made the plea that “we must protect our homeland and civil liberties by creating a new domestic counter terrorism force like Britain’s MI5.”  (MI5 means “Military Intelligence, Section 5.”)

It is curious that Mr. Emanuel would equate MI5 with protecting civil liberties.  MI5 is reported to have secret files on more than 270,000 persons.  The MI5 was accused by Liberal Democrat MP Norman J. Baker of “hoarding information about people who pose no danger to this country,” reported Martin Delgado in London’s Daily Mail in July 2006.

“A new domestic spying operation is an obvious threat to our civil liberties,” wrote John Walsh in Counterpunch.

A close friend of Mr. Emanuel is David Axelrod, who was Mr. Obama’s chief strategist during his presidential campaign.  Mr. Obama has named Mr. Axelrod as his senior advisor.

Mr. Axelrod signed the ketubah (Jewish wedding contract) at Mr. Emanuel’s 1994 wedding to Amy Rule, who Mr. Emanuel met on a blind date.  Mrs. Emanuel converted to Judaism shortly before their wedding.  She is a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.  They have three children, son Zacharias and daughters Ilana and Leah.  The children attend the same Conservative Jewish day school that Mr. Emanuel attended in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago.  The Emanuels are members of Anshe Shalom B’nai Israel, a modern Orthodox congregation in Chicago.

Mr. Emanuel’s mother, Martha Smulevitz, is a psychiatric social worker and  former civil rights worker.   Emanuel’s older brother, Ezekiel, is an oncologist and bioethicist at the National Institutes of Health.  His younger brother, Ari, is a talent agent in Los Angeles.  He also has an adopted sister, Shoshanna, who is 14 years younger than him.

Photo Credit:

The Washington Post/Getty Images

World headlines immediately after Barack Obama is elected as President of the United States of America

November 5, 2008

OBAMA.MAKES.HISTORY.WASHINGTON.POST.2008

BANNER HEADLINE IN THE WASHINGTON POST

Immediately after it was announced that Sen. Barack Obama was assured of being awarded at least 270 electoral votes, the news media (newspapers, magazines, weblogs) throughout the world announced the results.  A compilation of the headlines is set forth at:

 http://obama2008.s3.amazonaws.com/headlines.html

Here are some of the headlines:

The Globe and Mail (Toronto) — Obama overcomes: More than 100,000 cheer Obama in Chicgo

National Post (Don Mills, Ontario) — The new first family

Pravda (Moscow) — A change for the better

The Canberra Times — Tears of joy across the US

The Daily Mirror (London) — IT’S THE BLACK HOUSE: Obama is new President

New York Times — OBAMA: Racial Barrier Falls as Voters Embrace Call for Change

New York Post — OBAMA WINS

Los Angeles Times — OBAMA WINS: First African American in highest U.S. office

Mother Jones — Barack Obama Will Be Our Next President

The Progressive — A Historic Vote Defying Racism

The Nation — President Obama

Vancouver Sun — Obama wins U.S. election

Salon — President-elect Barack Obama

Slate — OBAMA.  He won Ohio.  He’s going to the White House

The Jerusalem Post — President-elect Obama: We’ve sent a message to the world

Haaretz — Obama tells cheering, weeping victory throng “We are one people”

The Independent (London) — A PLACE IN HISTORY

The Guardian (London) — President Obama: McCain praises rival in concession speech after record turnout in historic election

Belfast Telegraph — Obama clinches US presidency after decisive victory

The Telegraph (London) — Obama promises a new dawn after historic victory

Barack and Michelle Obama at their victory celebration in Chicago

Barack and Michelle Obama at their victory celebration in Chicago

The Australian — Obama claims victory in US election

Sofia Echo (Bulgaria) — BARACK OBAMA VICTORY SPEECH: “CHANGE HAS COME TO AMERICA”

The Times (London) — Tears of joy at Barack Obama victory party as history is made

CNN — “Yes, we did,” Obama crowd chants at rally

The Christian Science Monitor — Obama sweeps to historic win

Daily News (New York) — OBAMA MAKES HISTORY

Le Monde (Paris) — Barack Obama elu president: “Le changement est la!”

International Herald Tribune (Paris) — Obama wins U.S. election

Le Figaro (Paris) — President Obama

Liberation (Paris) — Etats Unis: la revolution Obama

Chicago Tribune — Barack Obama, our next president

Seattle P-I — Obama wins presidency: Illinois senator makes history, will be sworn in as 44th chief executive

The Seattle Times — “CHANGE HAS COME TO AMERICA”

Atlanta Journal Constitution — OBAMA: CHANGE HAS COME

Austin Statesman — Barack Obama elected 44th U.S. president

Minneapolis Star Tribune — OBAMA WINS: Historic victory overcomes America’s racial barriers

The Denver Post — OBAMA ELECTED PRESIDENT IN HISTORIC VICTORY

St. Louis Post-Dispatch — Face of the future: Obama rolls to a historic victory

The Scotsman (Edinburgh) — Barack Obama elected 44th president of America

Spiegel (Hamburg) — GOOD MORNING, MR. PRESIDENT: Europe’s Wish List

Sydney Morning Herald — “A NEW DAWN” — Obama makes history with US election result

The New Zealand Herald — Obama: “Change has come to America”

Arab News — Obama makes history with win in US presidential vote

Kansas City Star — History made: Obama becomes first black president in landslide

Anchorage Daily News — Obama wins presidency

Salt Lake City Herald — Obama wins, first black to gain presidency

The Huffington Post — PRESIDENT-ELECT OBAMA: “CHANGE HAS COME TO AMERICA”

Daily Kos — Celebrating, Chicago Style: People are literally dancing in the streets

BBC News — Obama wins history US election

Reuters — Obama captures historic White House win

Associated Press — Obama sweeps to victory as first black president

Forbes — Obama Wins Election

U.S. News & World Report — Barack Obama Elected President: In a historic victory, the Illinois senator becomes the first African-American to win the presidency

Time — Barack Obama Wins Big: “Change Has Come to America”

Newsweek — OBAMA TAKES THE WHITE HOUSE

The Wall Street Journal — Obama Sweeps to Historic Victory: Wins in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Florida Were Keys to His Victory Over McCain; Democrats Pick Up Seats in House and Senate, Bolstering Their Majorities

Photo Credit:

[Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images]

Election eve showdown: two senators, two presidential candidates and many promises

November 4, 2008
The covers from "Presidential Material" biographical comics published by IDW Publishing (comic art by J. Scott Campbell)

The covers from

On the day before the election for the office of the President of the United States of America, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wrote “end of the campaign” opinion pieces in The Wall Street Journal.  Mr. Obama’s article was on the left side of the page.  Mr. McCain’s article was on the right side of the page.  It was a kind of contest as to who could promise the most to the voters.

Each article was several hundred words.  Mr. Obama’s article was titled “The Change We Need.”  Mr. McCain’s article was titled “What We’re Fighting For.”  The WSJ editors chose to highlight these words from Mr. Obama’s article: “I’m proud to have the support of businessmen like Warren Buffet.”  For Mr. McCain, the editors chose the words: “Protectionism and taxes hikes are wrong for the economy.” 

The editors chose some irrelevant words to highlight.  Americans do not care whether Mr. Buffet endorsed Mr. Obama.  And protectionism and taxes have nothing to do with

The controversial cover from The Progressive magazine that depicted Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama kissing

The controversial cover from The Progressive magazine that depicted Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama kissing

why the United States economy is in the beginning of a long recession and perhaps at the beginning of a real depression.

The candidate’s promises

Jobs — Mr. Obama promised to “create two million new jobs.”  Mr. McCain promised to “make sure we help workers who’ve lost a job that won’t come back find a new one that won’t go away.”

Health Care — Mr. Obama promised to “make health care affordable and accessible for every American.”  Mr. McCain promised to “bring down the skyrocketing cost of health care with competition and choice, reform the insurance market to be fair, and allow you to keep the same health plan if you change jobs or choose to stay home.”

Taxes — Mr. Obama promised to “give a tax break to 95% of workers and  their families.”  Mr. McCain promised to “cut taxes on families, seniors, savers and businesses.”

Iraq War —Mr. Obama promised to “end the Iraq war responsibly” and “finish the fight against bin Laden and the al Qaeda terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 . . . .”  Mr. McCain promised to not “pull out [of Iraq] prematurely and regardless of the conditions on the ground” and to “expand our armed forces and transform our civil and military agencies to win the struggle against violent Islamic extremism.”

Education — Mr. Obama promised “[t]o give every child a world-class education so they can compete in this global economy for the jobs of the 21st century . . . .”  Mr. McCain did not mention the word “education.”

Free Trade / Fair Trade — Mr. Obama did not mention the words “free trade” or “fair trade.”  Mr. McCain promised to “open new markets to goods made in America and make sure our trade is free and fair.”

Energy — Mr. Obama promised to “invest $15 billion a year over the next decade in renewable energy”  and “help end our dependence on Middle East oil.”  Mr. McCain promised to “end three decades of failed energy policies” and “strengthen incentives for all energy alternatives — nuclear, clean coal, wind, solar and tide.”

Change the World or Get the World Back on Track

Finally, Mr. Obama promised to “change this country and change the world” while Mr. McCain promised “to get our country, and our world, back on track.”

The voters are likely to get exactly what they deserve.

Art credits:

Comic book art of Mr. Obama and Mr. McCain standing are from “Presidential Materials” biographical comics published by IDW Publishing and drawn by American comic book artist J. Scott Campbell, aka Jeff Scott. 

Los Angeles based graphic designer Sako Shaninian painted the image of Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama kissing.

Corporations should not have the rights of humans

October 10, 2008
RALPH NADER HAS DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY

RALPH NADER HAS DEVOTED HIS LIFE TO CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY

Perhaps the most important law that could be passed to ensure justice for Americans would be a law that made it clear that corporations do not have the rights of human beings.

The most widely recognized personality to hold this position is Ralph Nader.  He has written extensively on the subject.  In Mr. Nader’s 2004 book titled The Good Fight, Mr. Nader wrote:

Whether we think in terms of justice under law or equal protection of the laws, it is untenable that artificial entities called corporations are given most of the constitutional rights of real humans while aggregating powers, privileges, and immunities that individuals, no matter how weathy, could never come close to attaining. 

Two thirds of corporations paid no income taxes

Two thirds of corporations paid no federal income taxes between 1998 and 2005, according to a report released this summr by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).  The report said that 1.2 million corporations (66.7 percent) paid no income tax.  The corporations had combined sales of $2.5 trillion, the report said.  The report also noted that about 25 percent of large corporations — those with at least $250 million in assets or $50 million in receipts — paid no corporate income taxes.

In Mr. Nader’s 2000 book titled Cutting Corporate Welfare, Mr. Nader explained the widespread practice of corporate welfare.

Corporate welfare — the enormous and myriad subsidies, bailouts, giveaways, tax loopholes, debt revocations, loan guarantees, discounted insurance and other benefits conferred by government on business — is a function of political corruption.  Corporate welfare programs siphon funds from appropriate public investments, subsidize companies ripping minerals from federal lands, enable pharmaceutical companies to gouge consumers, perpetuate anti-competitive oligopolistic markets, injure our national security, and weaken our democracy.

Political corruption and corporate welfare

Treating corporations as having the rights of living people contributes to political corruption and corporate welfare.  Mr. Nader reasons that the doctrine of corporation as person must be reversed.

“A national debate is needed regarding the necessity to reverse the dicta in the 1886 Supreme Court case of Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad that first awarded the corporation constitutional status as a person and in subsequent decisions,” Mr. Nader wrote.  “Corporations are not human beings, they don’t vote; they are artificial entities which should be subordinated to the rights of human beings.”

Mr. Nader argues that “there can be no equal justice under the law if . . . Exxon has all the rights of humans plus all the privileges and immunities to concentrate enormous power and escape responsibility in ways unavailable to the wealthiest real people.”

As an example of the legal fiction of a corporation being a person with substantial rights but without corresponding responsibilities, consider these fact patterns: (1) A human being selling office supplies to the government is caught short changing the government (i.e., delivering 140 legal pads when he was supposed to deliver a full gross of legal pads).  After being caught, the human being is convicted of theft and is banned from doing future business with the government.  (2) Boeing Aircraft Co. is caught conspiring with Pentagon officials to inflate the cost of aircraft being sold to the government.  The Boeing employees implicated in the conspiracy are fired but Boeing is not banned from doing future business with the government.

Looted and drained trillions of dollars

“The U.S. needs to crack down on corporate crime, fraud and abuse that have just in the last four years looted and drained trillions of dollars from workers, investors, pension holders and consumers,” Mr. Nader wrote.  “Among the reforms needed are resources to prosecute and convict the corporate executive crooks and to democratize corporate governance so shareholders have real power; pay back ill-gotten gains; rein in executive pay; and enact corporate sunshine law, among others.” 

Mr. Nader has been warning of Wall Street and other corporate criminals for years.  The current financial crisis should make it apparent that Mr. Nader has been right all along.

“[B]ailouts, of course, are generally doled out to large corporations and industries,” Mr. Nader wrote in Cutting Corporate Welfare.  “When a family-owned restaurant fails, no government intervenes to stop it from going up.  If a small factory can’t pay its bills, it goes out of business.  The bailout, a premier form of corporate welfare, is typically yet another market distortion against the interests of small and medium-sized businesses.”

Corporate corruption will continue so long as corporations are given the rights of people and Americans do not educate themselves about corporate abuse.

“Successfully ending corporate welfare as we know it will turn on a sustained campaign to educate, organize and mobilize citizens,” Mr. Nader wrote.  “Merely documenting abuse is not sufficient to spark the national movement needed to trump corporate power.”