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Understanding Barack Obama

  1. Dec 29, 2008 #1


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    Barack Obama's three books are online.

    Dreams from my Father is an autobiography, a narrative about coming of age, struggle with identity, and an insight into parts of the world one might not find in one's own life.

    Audacity of Hope is a discussion of Obama's politicial philisophy. Chapter 4, Politics, and Chapter 5, Opportunity, are worth reading. Whether or not one voted for Obama, try to read the book with an open and objective mind.


    I haven't read the third, Change We Can Believe In, yet so I can't comment.
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  3. Dec 29, 2008 #2
    The big question I have regarding Senator Obama is the issue of Reverand Wright, because Reverand Wright was like a father to him (according to him), married him to his wife, baptized his children, and he attended the church for twenty years. But Reverand Wright also gave Louis Farrakhan, the racist leader of the Nation of Islam, a lifetime achievement award and I believe travelled with him to meet dictator Quaddafi back in 1984.

    Which leads me to three conclusions about the Senator:
    1) Either he was incredibly ignorant about all this, which would show bad judgement
    2) He knew of Wright's views but didn't care and allied with him for politicial reasons
    3) He agreed with those views

    I do not think it was number one, which means it would probably be number two or three, which makes me uncomfortable. I think the mainstream media was highly hypocritical in letting Senator Obama slide on this issue the way they did.

    If it had been a white politician whose minister of twenty years whom he called a father figure had given a big award to some KKK member or Nazi sympathizer, I think it would have created a tremendous amount of hard media scrutiny.
  4. Dec 29, 2008 #3
    It's a little late to worry about Obama's affiliations or experience or even campaign promises.

    He was elected quite decisively...now it's time to support him.

    As for the media...they got what they wanted...AND Bush is gone...no more excuses.

    Now it's time for them to start doing their jobs again and take a VERY hard look at what went on in Congress for the past few years leading up to the housing collapse, the bailout mismanagement/abuses and the real story about derivatives.
  5. Dec 29, 2008 #4


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    Dreams from my Father mentions a bit about Wright who was a major figure in the African-American community in Chicago, and Trinity United Church of Christ was a prominent force in the African-American community in Chicago. It is important to realize that the minister is not the church, but rather the church is the congregation/members.

    Obama met Wright in the course of his work as a community organizer, when Obama had no affiliation with any Church. Perhaps Obama joined Trinity as his political career took off.

    Obama was apparently baptized at Trinity UCC in 1988 and was a member until 2008. I have no idea how often he attended, which is something that doesn't seem to be a matter of record.

    Here is Obama's words on his Spiritual Journey

    From what I've read, Barack Obama is very thoughtful, and concerned about how well a government serves it citizens. That's not to say that he's always necessarily right.

    Obama's words seem to reflect positively in contrast to Wright's harsh rhetoric.
  6. Dec 29, 2008 #5

    Ivan Seeking

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    My parents are in their seventies and I still gain new insights into their personalities every year. So, point 1). is a false conclusion. Knowing someone, even for many years, does not suggest that you know everything about their views or deepest held biases. Also, as people age, they change. Among your options, you didn't include: Wright is getting a bit whacky in his old age; Wright has grown less idealist and more bitter over the years, both of which seem likely to me. Your are also ignoring the history of black activism. Wright represents the past - the days when there were severe injustices againt blacks.

    How did the Jews feel about the Nazis?

    Finally, are you suggesting that any expression of white racism is synonomous with being a KKK sympathizer, or a Nazi? There is no distinction between a personal bias, and the desire for lynchings and gassings?
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2008
  7. Dec 29, 2008 #6
    Yes I absolutely agree with you. Every politician should be scrutinize in the same manner. For this election, that was not the case. Obama supporters hung effigy of Palin: silly prank. College kids hang effigy of Obama: Hate crime. if a white politician had a mentor who was a white supramacist, He would be under sever scrutiny. I bet if obama racially identify himself as a white person rather than a multiracial person, he would be labeled a sell-out and racist. Obama's church's even says that they are not unshamed that they have an almost all black congregation Can you imagine if Mccain's church website stated that they were unashame to have an all white congregation? The media would have a field day with this story (as they rightly should )
  8. Dec 29, 2008 #7
    One of my grandfathers spews racist rhetoric all the time. My grandparents on the other side are hard core christians who think anyone who has not accepted jesus as their savior is going to hell. They also feel sorry for black people and mexicans because they think they are obviously not as smart and industrious as others. My own parents are semi-racist even. These are my own family. The people whom I grew up around and shaped who I am and how I think. What do you think that says about me?
  9. Dec 29, 2008 #8
    You have lively holiday dinner conversations? (SORRY...I couldn't resist)

    Obviously you are a free thinking person who makes his own decisions and forms his own opinions.

    Unfortunately, politicians are often beholden to the people who help them achieve their goals...whether they agree 100% or not.
  10. Dec 29, 2008 #9
    You cannot changed the attitudes and beliefs your families members might have about black people. Most sane people will understand that you did not have anything to do with having racists family member However, having family members that espoused racism and choosing to go to a church that espousing a slightly racist philosophy are entirely two different things. The philosophy that Trinity churh seems to carry is black liberation theology created by James Cone, where whites are strictly seen as oppressors and minorities are strictly seen as victims.
    Last edited: Dec 29, 2008
  11. Dec 29, 2008 #10
    My father is half African-American (just like Senator Obama), so he is essentially considered a black man; my mom is half Irish, half German, so I came out as mostly a white guy (the African part shows up more in my sister, who has a Latino look to her). I have been raised white, but my father was raised black, and asking him about Senator Obama, he said that it's just how some of those pastors are, spewing rhetoric like that, perhaps from old age or who knows what, it doesn't mean that Senator Obama agreed with it or not, in his view. He voted for McCain, but he isn't "anti-Obama."

    Not sure what I think, as I know when I was once watching Larry the Cable Guy (the comedian) and he pulled out a guitar with the Confederate flag, to which then the opposite happened, my father got highly offended and walked out of the room; me, I was okay with it because I didn't think Larry meant it as being racist, I figured it was just a "Southern pride" type of thing.

    One thing regarding Senator Obama's books, in them I doubt he would have been wise to write the kind of rhetoric that Reverand Wright spews, even if that is what he felt; wouldn't be the ideal way to begin a political career!

    But I wish Senator Obama would have explained his relationships and alliances better.

    Well it could be a false conclusion then. But also knowing people for many years usually means you get to know them pretty well.


    Yes; he needs to realize these are modern times then.

    No, I am saying that just as Reverand Wright gave Farrakhan, a noted racist, an award, if a white political candidate had such a minister or pastor who gave some KKK or Nazi or white racist an award, and the politician had a long relationship with that pastor/minister, don't you think the media would have grilled them?

    Well if they're family you grew up around, that's a little different. If they are people you go and meet as an adult and start a twenty year relationship with, who knows.

    On my dad's side of the family, which is coal black (he had a black mother, and white father, but his siblings had the same mother, but a black father) his ex-wife before my mom was a member of the NAACP.

    On my mom's side, some parts of the family are racist unfortunately, and since she is part Germany, part of the family even fought on the German side during WWII! (this part is not the racist portion though).

    Families can be crazy!

    The other thing about Senator Obama that got me is when he was speaking to that group of multimilionaires and billionaires in San Francisco and talked about "bitter Americans who cling to their guns and religion." It just seemed very elitist-sounding, as if he had a "We big city elites must do our best to help those poor, miserable, destitute middle Americans who cling to things like guns and religion (because only people with problems find joy out of guns) and who are like sheep and need the maternal-like guidance of us, the elites."

    But hopefully Obama is a good man and will be a good president.
    Last edited: Dec 30, 2008
  12. Jan 1, 2009 #11
    As far as Obama being an elitist, while that might be true, his mantra was always "change." It may just be a stereotype, but those "people who cling to guns and religion" are oftentimes stuck in their ways, for better or worse. I don't think Obama meant what he said from a condescending viewpoint, just as another tie-in to his overall campaign message.
  13. Jan 1, 2009 #12
    He certainly doesn't seem "Elitist" in these photos...unless you mean "Celebrity"? Actually, the golfing photos look a lot like Tiger Woods.


    Don't judge a book by it's cover...whether that be vacation photos or a single sound bite.

    Remember "Read MY Lips" (Bush)...this is the standard we need to apply to Obama moving forward.
  14. Jan 1, 2009 #13


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    You don't see a difference between "almost all" and 'all"? Essentially, according to you, Obama's church is saying that they are proud they have white members- a mixed race congregation. I see nothing wrong with that.
  15. Jan 1, 2009 #14


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    I came from a family and a culture where racial and minority epithets were not uncommonly used at the dinner table or casual conversation. Yet I saw many acts of kindness and fair treatment of all regardless that belied any thought that my parents harbored actual enmity, as opposed to cultural insensitivity, toward others simply because of differences.

    While I came to disagree with my parent's expression of things, as Obama said in his Philadelphia speech about Reverend Wright when he would no more disavow Wright than he would his own family, neither did I seek to change my family nor certainly thought to disavow them. They came from a world that had defined them and their view of the world. They knew I disagreed, but they surely knew that I loved them as they loved me, flaws and all.

    The presumption then that Obama acts or believes in any way in Wright's extreme rhetorical expressions is surely as false, as presuming that he doesn't have the capacity to respect someone with whom he doesn't agree. His selection of Rick Warren speaks to his ability to associate without adopting. Those that continue to flagellate Obama with Wright should as surely remember then that he associates with Warren too.

    His speech on Wright and Race.
  16. Jan 1, 2009 #15
    I went to the funeral service for an old friend yesterday.

    The priest asked everyone to read along as he cited the "Creed"...There were 2 passages I wasn't inclined to read aloud...I didn't leave...I skipped over them and continued to participate.

    Again, it's a little late to second guess Obama's choice of reverend any more than critiquing the Chicago political machine.

    Obama did what he needed to do to be elected...he won decisively...now he will be OUR President for the next 4 years.

    He's our President, support him, hold him to his words and critique his actions. If you like the job he does over the next 4 years...re-elect him...if not (???)...maybe a better choice will come along.
  17. Jan 2, 2009 #16
    Obama's political philosophy: The unions put you into office, return the favor.
  18. Jan 2, 2009 #17


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    Please provide a link to the source you have for this.
  19. Jan 3, 2009 #18


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    Unions simply don't have the power to put anyone into office these days. They have lost an enormous number of members and a lot of power over the last 50 years.

    If you are saying unions favor Democrats and Democrats tend to help unions, yes, that's true. As it should be.
  20. Jan 4, 2009 #19
    Did Obama say no to the money handed to him by the AFL-CIO? No. The first thing Obama will do when he enters office is to make sure that the 'bail out' plan is restructured in favor of the unions - UAW in particular. The UAW was not going to allow congress to simply let the markets 'fix themselves', they would rather not work. The unions won't work without their benefits and that was the promise Obama made.

    Look at it this way: they had the ability to bankrupt the Big Three with their healthcare and retirement benefits and gave Obama about $50 million. Really, no power?
  21. Jan 4, 2009 #20


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    I think you grossly misread Obama if you think that he is a disciple of something for nothing. I don't think his union IOUs are so compelling in any event.

    Is he for redistribution of economic opportunity? I'd suspect so. But he's also interested in improving infrastructure for very powerful reasons - support increased economic growth. Better roads. Develop a more robust power grid that can be used as a conduit for new energy opportunities. I also hear him talking about increasing the number of hours of school. Imagine a more educated population.

    The mood of the country is such that I doubt there will be many opportunities to sit around and get paid. Getting everyone involved and working on something actually useful may just be a powerful tonic in fueling a recovery and leading the world in greening our use of resources.
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