By Robert Romano
Occasionally, it's good to take people at their word. If somebody says something explicitly, you should listen implicitly, because they tend to mean what they say. There is no further need to question their every answer.
And so it is with Barack Obama. He thinks "one of the tragedies of the civil rights movement" was that it tried to achieve too many of its goals via the courts. This was good for achieving application of voting rights and the like, but not for "redistribution of wealth" and "basic issues of political and economic justice in the society."
Instead, he believes that a better strategy is to do so legislatively. Okay, we get it. He really does believe in the "redistribution of wealth." He wants to "spread the wealth." He has said it repeatedly. He believes it. He means it.
There's no misunderstanding here at all. We should take the man at his word.
However, Slate's Emily Bazelon would have one believe that when he spoke of "redistributive change", Senator Obama did not really mean what he said at all. As Mr. Obama's self-appointed translator, she explains that he "was speaking against the backdrop of an old debate in the legal academy, which was not about who should pay higher taxes."
Excuse me? The debate may not have entirely been about progressive taxation-one of the primary instruments of wealth redistribution-but it most certainly was about the best method of achieving redistribution of wealth, as Mr. Obama explicitly noted.
To somehow suggest that Mr. Obama's views on wealth redistribution are entirely divorced from his views on raising taxes on the top 5 percent of wage earners is, well... wrong. Inaccurate. Misleading.
He explicitly justified that view-in favor of progressive taxation-to Joe the Plumber because he wants to "spread the wealth around":
"It's not that I want to punish your success, I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance at success, too... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."
Clearly to "spread the wealth," you first have to take the wealth. But, Ms. Bazelon is undaunted. Her piece is titled, "He's Not Robin Hood." The subheadline reads, "What Obama really meant by ‘redistributive change.'" To be fair, perhaps this was an editorial decision and those weren't her intended headlines. Though they probably were.
Nonetheless, they are misleading because Mr. Obama really does want to engage in the redistribution of wealth. Some folks support taxation because they believe there are certain, limited functions that government ought to perform. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, goes much, much further. He thinks that the wealthy should be taxed at higher rates so that the money may be redistributed to those less fortunate-or those who simply don't care to work quite as hard, thank you.
Ms. Bazelon even admits it: "[O]f course Obama is for redistribution." And then, almost as if catching herself in mid-fall, she gasps, "So is any politician, including John McCain, who favors a progressive income tax. Governments constantly take more from one group and give more to another."
The controversy, Ms. Bazelon, is not over the structure of the tax code per se. That is a well-entrenched tragedy. It is over why Mr. Obama-and all other Marxists...or, rather, socialists... excuse me, Democrats-believe the tax code ought to be structured that way. About which, there is no misunderstanding: Senator Obama wants to tax the wealthy at higher rates so as to "spread the wealth around".
Senator McCain, we suspect, does not believe that is the proper role of government-even though he has in the past shown a decidedly unfortunate proclivity for taxation and even class warfare rhetoric.
So let us not conflate the issues involved. The controversy is over Mr. Obama's motives for raising taxes on the top 5 percent of wage earners. Or whoever else happens to enter his crosshairs as the "undeserving" rich. There is no misunderstanding.
We got it. We'll take him at his word. He really is a socialist who wants to-as he has repeatedly said-"spread the wealth".
Robert Romano is the Editor of ALG News Bureau.
By William Warren
ALG Editor's Note: The refusal of the LA Times to release the video of Barack Obama toasting Rashid Khalidi is an outright betrayal of the American people's trust as well as the canons of journalism. The question, as many have noted, is not only why Mr. Obama is attracted to these radicals, but why are these radicals attracted to Mr. Obama. This cartoon may be republished free of charge. Please contact us if you need a black & white or higher resolution version.
By Stephanie Ramage
(Originally published by the Sunday Paper here.)
The difference between truth's complexity and the media's shallowness is most striking when it comes to the subject of "embracing diversity," something that Sarah Palin has done more than John McCain, Joe Biden, or even Barack Obama.
Palin has embraced diversity in a way that Obama never has. I don't doubt Obama's sincerity about his willingness to do so; whenever he's out on the campaign trail and taking the time to talk to people who seem quite different from himself, like Joe Wurzelbacher, he's doing that, so I'm not saying he hasn't done it. But Sarah Palin has done it profoundly and intimately in having her baby, Trig.
Trig Palin, and how America has reacted to him, illustrates the difference between true tolerance and cheap, easy notions of diversity.
The greatest measure of any society's tolerance for diversity is not in how it treats racial minorities, or women, or those with same-gender sexual preferences, or the poor; the greatest measure of our tolerance is how we treat those who cannot contribute to society in the way that most of us do.
We are all valued because of what we can do for others. Regardless of your color or gender or sexual preference or economic status-even if you're unemployed as you read this-if you're healthy and fairly mentally sharp, you've got the means of contributing to society in the usual way: work, taking care of a family, volunteering, etc. You don't need much guidance or care or consideration. You work and produce and generally don't need the rest of society to do much for you.
To truly embrace diversity, we have to embrace those who are really, truly, fundamentally different from ourselves. Skin color is superficial. Gender differences are malleable. Economic differences fluctuate over time. But those who are fundamentally less able to contribute in traditional ways are truly different.
I have a friend who is an autistic adult. She has what is called "highly functioning autism." I have known her for more than 10 years. I don't check in with her as I should. I have my own concerns, my own family, and I have seen how worn out people become when they are the caregivers for those with autism, mental retardation or mental illness. It is the single most exhausting job in the world.
Sometimes she will call or email me and ask if I can help her with small things-writing a letter of recommendation for a job or special program, for example-but in general, my friend fends for herself against overwhelming odds.
Her father died when she was a child. When her mother, who had taken care of her all her life, died a few years ago, my friend was moved into a group home and, in the curious way of those like her, learned through sheer memorization the basic things she needed to know. She knows entire MARTA schedules by heart. She can recite verbatim the cooking instructions off packages. She knows the provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act better than most attorneys.
Yet, despite this stunning cache of knowledge, most people steer clear of my friend. Despite vast resources aimed at racial equality and countless programs to "promote diversity" we do not truly embrace real diversity. Those who are too different-like my friend-are made to feel unwanted and unwelcome.
I understand how difficult it is to reach out. I know that impulse to avoid contact. Her voice is very high-pitched and if she has something on her mind she will pretty much shriek it at you on a loop for a stretch of 15 minutes at a time. It can be headache-inducing.
When she worked at a local bookstore, she wanted to be the reader for the Saturday story time. She loves kids. But the bookstore's management didn't like her voice and thought the kids wouldn't like her, so they made her sort books in the stock room. She never got to interact with people and because she is very social, the isolation tormented and depressed her.
Reaching out to someone like my friend is a demonstration of a belief in real diversity-not the fashionable so-called "diversity" that requires only that we reach out to those whose skin color and sexual preferences are different from our own.
Face it, having gay friends is deemed "cool" by society; being seen with a racially mixed group is also considered hip and open-minded. In most urban areas, that's easy diversity-nobody's going to tell you to stop bringing that black person or gay person around. But, like what theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace"-a sort of superficial Christianity that you don't have to work at-it doesn't really expand your knowledge of what it means to be human; because what we learn from racial and sexual tolerance is that beneath the thin veneer of color or gender we are all the same, while what we learn from reaching out to those with Down syndrome, autism, mental illness or mental retardation is that some people really are profoundly different from the rest of us and we should love them anyway.
To embrace them is a greater, broader, and more hard-won diversity. It is not fashionable or hip, but it reminds us to value those from whom we have not one thing to gain. What purpose do they serve? In a world where everyone must be cool and smooth and efficient, Sarah Palin's son Trig is a reminder that humanity is really none of those things. Only by truly accepting our species' many imperfections can we begin to understand what tolerance and diversity really are.
Stephanie Ramage is the News Editor of the Sunday Paper.
By Isaac MacMillen
When it comes to security for his own "victory party," Barack Obama has no problem mandating photo identification. But when it comes to the sanctity of the democratic process, he rises in opposition to any form of identification whatsoever.
Unfortunately, this election clearly demonstrates the importance of voter identification. Already reports have cropped up of voter registration irregularities (including hundreds of thousands of voter forms with mismatched data in Ohio alone), multiple registrants, fake registrants-the list goes on and on- and Obama's clear-cut links to groups such as ACORN don't help matters either.
The concern that Obama and others share over voter ID is that it would disenfranchise those without official identification. They cite statistics such as the 10 percent of the US population that supposedly lacks government-issued ID.
While legitimate voters should never be denied that critical right, the very importance of the right means that it should be safeguarded to ensure that only those legally allowed to vote do so. To do otherwise is to cheapen the right that one supposedly holds in highest esteem. Or, as State Representative John Blust (R-NC) stated so aptly, "Illegal voting partially disenfranchises all those who legally participate in our elections."
Americans overwhelmingly agree. 82 percent of Americans (including two-thirds of Democrats) support mandating a photo ID to vote, according to a Rasmussen poll.
Yet if the concern is that not all who can vote are able to vote, one must look at the number of unregistered voters. Each year, millions of would-be-eligible voters are unable to vote simply because they did not register.
In 2006, a Pew survey indicated that up to 22 percent of the US population was not registered to vote. In fact, according to Pew, only 4 percent of all responders listed "illness or disability" as the reason for not registering, and only 30 percent stated that it was "difficult" to get to a polling station. In short, most of them simply just didn't feel like it. And that is their right. Yet one hears no cries of "disenfranchisement" against them.
But for those who do wish to vote-including those who for one reason or another have no photo ID-the options are myriad. Go to the local police department and get an ID. But if that isn't possible, Federal law mandates that provisional ballots be allowed so that those who appear ineligible at the polls, but are convinced otherwise, may vote on paper, with the vote to later be verified and counted (if legitimate).
So if the individual arrives at the polling station without an ID, he or she will be allowed to simply cast a provisional ballot. Once their identification is confirmed, their vote will be counted. Thus the purity of the vote will be preserved, as well as the right of the voter.
Yet in spite of this, Barack Obama still opposes mandating photo IDs for voting-though he will not be denied the right to rigidly demand the same for his own swingy soiree.
So, party hearty, Barack. But how about allowing your fellow Americans the same right to security you reserve for yourself?
Isaac MacMillen is a contributing editor of ALG New Bureau.