As the seventh anniversary of the jihadist murder of nearly 3,000 American civilians passed last week, it is useful to recall an article that the Hyde Park Herald published on September 19, 2001 — written by a young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama. Even all these years later, it is revealing of the mindset of the man who would be leader of the free world. Obama starts out well enough, saying: “We need to step up security at our airports. We must reexamine the effectiveness of our intelligence networks. And we must be resolute in identifying the perpetrators of these heinous acts and dismantling their organizations of destruction.” He then, however, almost immediately veers into psychobabble.
Saying that we must understand “the sources of such madness,” Obama declares that “the essence of this tragedy, it seems to me, derives from a fundamental absence of empathy on the part of the attackers: an inability to imagine, or connect with, the humanity and suffering of others.” This lack of empathy isn’t, he says, “unique to a particular culture, religion, or ethnicity.” Rather, it grows “out of a climate of poverty and ignorance, helplessness and despair.” In other words, poverty causes Islamic jihad. Obama reiterated this point last July during a CNN interview, when he related the rise of jihadist sentiment in Indonesia to poverty: “And now in Indonesia, you see some of those extremist elements. And what’s interesting is, you can see some correlation between the economic crash during the Asian financial crisis, where about a third of Indonesia’s GDP was wiped out, and the acceleration of these Islamic extremist forces.”
And in a May interview with David Brooks of the New York Times, Obama (while again calling upon American officials to examine “the root causes of problems and dangers”) declared that the jihad terrorist groups Hizballah and Hamas are “going down a blind alley with violence that weakens their legitimate claims.”
Would President Obama, then, address what he thinks of as the “legitimate claims” of these groups by showering the money of American taxpayers upon them, so as to raise (as he put it in his post-9/11 article) “the hopes and prospects of embittered children across the globe — children not just in the Middle East, but also in Africa, Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe and within our own shores”?
It seems likely that he would — and it is yet another indication that the Candidate of Change is actually the Candidate of Reviving Tired Failed Policies. The U.S. has showered billions in foreign aid on Pakistan over the last seven years — while high-level Pakistani officials played a double game, making all the right anti-terror noises while aiding the jihadists on the sly.
If poverty causes terrorism, why is Pakistan aiding the Taliban, and edging ever closer to implementing the strictest possible version of Islamic law, so many billions of dollars later?
In fact, the poverty-terror connection has been debunked many times. Fortune magazine, for example, reported in March 2007 that “of the 50 poorest countries in the world…only Afghanistan (and perhaps Bangladesh and Yemen) has much experience in terrorism, global or domestic.” The 9/11 hijackers were “middle-class sons of Saudi Arabia and many were well-educated. And Osama bin Laden himself is from one of the richest families in the Middle East.”
Fortune noted that a 2003 study of Palestinian terrorism found “higher-status respondents (merchant, farmer or professional)” were significantly more likely than “those lower down the ladder (laborer, craftsman or employee)” to agree that there were “circumstances under which you would justify the use of terrorism to achieve political goals.” And Harvard professor Albert Abadie studied 1,776 terrorist incidents, only to find no connection between poverty and terrorism: “When you look at the data” to find such a connection, he said, “it’s not there.”
If Barack Obama is elected president, will he continue to operate according to these failed paradigms, or will he face hard realities and adjust his policies accordingly? The lack of even the smallest shift in his views on poverty and terrorism between 2001 and 2008 do not bode well for the answer to this question.
The promise of the internet is the free flow of information and ideas – at the touch of one’s fingertips. The appeal of that promise is obvious among Farsi speakers. In 2004, a survey found that Farsi was the fourth most popular language of bloggers on the internet. And internet usage in Iran has been steadily increasing. The press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders calculates that in 2004 there were just over one million internet users inside Iran; today it says, that number has climbed to eighteen million.
But the government of Iran views access to the free flow of information and ideas by the Iranian people as a challenge to its legitimacy and power. At a workshop on media censorship sponsored by the U.S. government’s Broadcasting Board of Governors, Iranian-born journalist Babak Yektafar explained the regime’s mindset:
“They do see this as a direct threat to their existence, to their stability.”
As a result, the Iranian government goes to great lengths to control internet usage, and its attempts at control are increasing. All internet service providers must be approved by the Ministry of Culture and Guidance, and the government uses filters to block thousands of websites.
In 2006, authorities banned high-speed connections, making it difficult to download western cultural products, including songs and films. In 2007 the Iranian government arrested more than ten bloggers, mostly women demanding an end to severe gender discrimination in Iran. This month, four women who contributed to feminist websites were given six-month prison sentences for threatening national security.
Paula Dobriansky, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs and co-chairperson of the Global Internet Freedom Task Force, views the internet as a potent tool for democratization and individual freedom. It is the task of free people, she says, to support those journalists and citizens who struggle under the restrictions placed on internet usage by oppressive regimes like Iran. She is optimistic about the outcome:
“With the partnership of fellow democracies, industries and non governmental organizations, efforts to regulate and restrict free speech will ultimately prove an unsuccessful attempt to hold back the rising tide of democratic change.”
he was also Walter Mondale’s Campaign Chairmen in 1984
And the CEO of Lehman Brothers
Obama’s top economic advisors have ties to Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, AND Lehman Brothers — all asked for help from the Feds this weekend. They also have ties to Countrywide, who was in the news this past spring for the same reason!
Jim Johnson, who is currently Barack Obama’s economic advisor, was not only CEO and Vice Chairman of Fannie Me, he was also a managing director at Lehman Brothers.
On May 22, 2008, Democratic Party officials confidentially divulged that Obama had asked Johnson “to lead the process” for selecting Obama’s running mate. However, Johnson soon became a source of controversy when it was reported that he had received below market rates loans directly from Angelo Mozilo, the CEO of Countrywide . Property records show Mr. Johnson has received more than $7 million in loans from Countrywide since 1998, the first coming in the waning days of his Fannie Mae tenure. [ http://online.wsj.com/article/SB12127997… ]
“John McCain. 25 May 2005, speaking to the Senate:
Mr. President, this week Fannie Mae’s regulator reported that the company’s quarterly reports of profit growth over the past few years were “illusions deliberately and systematically created” by the company’s senior management, which resulted in a $10.6 billion accounting scandal.
The Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight’s report goes on to say that Fannie Mae employees deliberately and intentionally manipulated financial reports to hit earnings targets in order to trigger bonuses for senior executives. In the case of Franklin Raines, Fannie Mae’s former chief executive officer, OFHEO’s report shows that over half of Mr. Raines’ compensation for the 6 years through 2003 was directly tied to meeting earnings targets. The report of financial misconduct at Fannie Mae echoes the deeply troubling $5 billion profit restatement at Freddie Mac.
The OFHEO report also states that Fannie Mae used its political power to lobby Congress in an effort to interfere with the regulator’s examination of the company’s accounting problems. This report comes some weeks after Freddie Mac paid a record $3.8 million fine in a settlement with the Federal Election Commission and restated lobbying disclosure reports from 2004 to 2005. These are entities that have demonstrated over and over again that they are deeply in need of reform.
For years I have been concerned about the regulatory structure that governs Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac–known as Government-sponsored entities or GSEs–and the sheer magnitude of these companies and the role they play in the housing market. OFHEO’s report this week does nothing to ease these concerns. In fact, the report does quite the contrary. OFHEO’s report solidifies my view that the GSEs need to be reformed without delay.
I join as a cosponsor of the Federal Housing Enterprise Regulatory Reform Act of 2005, S. 190, to underscore my support for quick passage of GSE regulatory reform legislation. If Congress does not act, American taxpayers will continue to be exposed to the enormous risk that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac pose to the housing market, the overall financial system, and the economy as a whole.
I urge my colleagues to support swift action on this GSE reform legislation.”
He was ignored. There was even more pressure after Democrats took congress, but as we know Senator Chris Dodd, Chairman of the Banking Committee was getting his pockets lined by Country Wide, and laughingly running a no-chance campaign for President will Wall Street burned.
K-Loe notes further:
The legislation was blocked by Democrats, with the assistance of a few Republicans.
James Johnson, former CEO of Fannie Mae and current Obama advisor, has cost us many tens of billions of dollars we can’t afford.
Franklin Raines, former CEO of Fannie Mae and current Obama advisor, has cost us many tens of billions of dollars we can’t afford.
Barack Obama: if we can’t afford his advisors, we certainly can’t afford him.