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Obama a False Hope

Obama a False Hope

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Published by nausherwanhafeez
This piece explains the fundamental flaws with voting for Barack Obama. This piece argues that Barack Obama is not offering a substantive change from the political status quo and he is, at best, a false hope. The piece concludes by arguing that people should vote for whoever they think is best, not who is most electable or the lesser of two evils.
This piece explains the fundamental flaws with voting for Barack Obama. This piece argues that Barack Obama is not offering a substantive change from the political status quo and he is, at best, a false hope. The piece concludes by arguing that people should vote for whoever they think is best, not who is most electable or the lesser of two evils.

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Published by: nausherwanhafeez on May 11, 2009
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1Obama a False HopeBy: Nausherwan Hafeez
“Whenever 
 you find yourself on the side of the majority, it's time to pause and reflect 
.”
 
-Mark TwainBarack Obama has been extensively vetted during the past twenty months of hiscampaign. During this time, Obama has effectively managed to mobilize a diverse group of supporters ranging from young voters, to African-Americans and liberal professionals. He hassteadily gained support through a savvy campaign and charismatic charm. He comes from adiverse ethnic back 
ground and purportedly offers a ―change we can believe in.‖
With ElectionDay just around the corner a close analysis of his policies and track record will indicate whatkind of President Obama would actually be. In particular, what would an Obama Presidencymean on both progressive issues and issues that affect American Muslims? A close look at hisrecord paints a disturbing picture of a future Obama Presidency.Before turning to Obama, it is important to understand that the American Muslimcommunity is no monolithic group. The estimated seven-million American Muslims are adiverse community that consists of both an indigenous African-American and immigrantpopulation. American Muslims are an under-represented constituency in political affairs eventhough the Muslim vote could play a critical role in determining who becomes President. Thereare large clusters of Muslims in key swing states such as Florida, Michigan, Pennsylvania, andVirginia. In the 2000 election, Muslims played a critical role in getting George W. Bush elected.Delinda C. Hanley, a News Editor at The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, wrote that: After surveying the community and making overtures to both Bush and his opponent,Vice President Al Gore, the American Muslim Political Coordinating Council PoliticalAction Committee (AMPCC-PAC), comprising the four major American-Muslimorganizations
 — 
the American Muslim Alliance (AMA), American Muslim Council(AMC), CAIR, and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), recommended that itsmembers vote for Bush.According to CAIR figures, that recommendation resulted in 78 percent of Muslimsvoting for George W. Bush. In Florida, the most crucial state in the last elections, exitpolls showed that 91 percent of the 60,000 Muslim Americans who voted supportedBush.Muslims were attracted to Bush for his stance on civil liberties, foreign policy, and social values.Muslims turned their support away from Bush after he reneged on his campaign promises and
turned out to be a bellicose warmonger. Hanley went on to note that a
June CAIR poll of Muslims who had voted for Bush in 2000 found that 50 percent planned to vote for Kerry, 26 forNader, only 3 percent for Bush, with the rest not yet sure.
In 2004, the Muslim ElectorateCouncil of America conducted a study that found that there are more than 2 million Muslims eligible to vote in the United States and about 57 percent of them were registered to vote. Thiselection cycle the Muslim vote appears headed towards Obama with the tacit
 — 
though notexplicit
 — 
endorsement by both CAIR and MPAC.
 
2Progressives care about a wide range of issues, from universal health-care to an end oour imperialistic wars abroad. Many progressives voted for Ralph Nader in 2000 but have beenso cowed by the Bush Presidency that they are willing to sell their ideals short for the lesser of two evils. This strategy will ensure that the Democratic Party will continue to take theprogressives vote for granted and we will not see real change. However, progressives still appearto be flocking to Obama.In spite of this, progressives and American Muslims need to temper their enthusiasm forObama. A close look at his record on civil liberties, foreign policy, economic policy, andpersonal actions indicate that support for Obama is misplaced.
Civil Liberties
Over the past eight years, civil liberties have rapidly declined and this has been a causefor consternation amongst progressives. Issues such as the National Security A
gency‘s (NSA)
 illegal warrantless wiretapping program, the Patriot Act, and Faith-Based initiatives have
curtailed basic rights. Obama‘s stance on these issues has been both highly pernicious and
seriously misplaced. Furthermore, he slighted the Muslim community during his March 18, 2008Speech on Race.
 NSA Wiretapping
The NSA wiretapping is arguably the most blatant government intrusion on Americancitizens in a generation. This secretive program was exposed in December 2005 by the
 New York Times
and allowed the Bush Administration through to illegally monitor
 — 
without warrants
 — 
phone calls, e-mails, Internet activity, text messaging, and other communications involving anyparty believed by the NSA to be outside the U.S. In May of 2006, the
USA Today
 exposed how the NSA had been secretly collecting the phone records of millions Americans with the help oAT&T, Verizon, and BellSouth. This program went above and beyond the legal method tomonitor the electronic communication of Americans which was to obtain a warrant from thesecret court authorized by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). Russel Tice, anNSA whistle-blower, explained:  The FISA court
 —it‘s not very difficult to get something through a FISA court. I kinda
liken the FISA court to a monkey with a rubber stamp. The monkey sees a name, themonkey sees a word justification w
ith a block of information. It can‘t read the block, butit just stamps ―affirmed‖ on the block, and a banana chip rolls out, and then the next
paper rolls in front of the monkey. When you have like 20,000 requests and only, I think,four were turned down,
you can‘t look at the FISA court as anything different.
 So, you have to ask yourself the question: Why would someone want to go around theFISA court in something like this? I would think the answer could be that this thing is alot bigger than even the President has been told it is, and that ultimately a vacuum cleaner
approach may have been used, in which case you don‘t get names, and that‘s ultimatelywhy you wouldn‘t go to the FISA court. And I think that‘s something Congress needs to
address. They need to find out exactly how this system was operated and ultimatelydetermine whether this was indeed a very focused effort or whether this was a vacuumcleaner-type scenario.
 
3With the government and telecommunications companies involved in an explicitly illegalwiretapping program, this should have been something that was easily opposed. Since listeningin on the private conversations of American citizens without warrants is a felony under U.S.law
 — 
punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine for each offense
 — 
this programshould have been opposed and the criminals involved prosecuted. James Bamford, author of several books on the NSA, explained how the program worked: [The NSA] picks up communications from satellites, it taps undersea and undergroundfiber-optic cables, it gets information any way it can, and then some of the information is
encrypted, and it‘s responsible for breaking those codes and then sending the information
that it gets from these intercepts to other agencies.The massive amount of information that the government has obtained illegally is a seriousintrusion on all Americans civil liberties. However, Barack Obama opposed prosecution for thecriminals involved in this program and,
in fact, endorsed the White House‘s
illegal actions.So how did Obama do this? After the NSA illegal wiretapping program was exposed, theBush Administration called for an overhaul of the FISA Act. They temporarily received the fixthat they wanted in the Protect America Act, but a permanent fix was more elusive. The twomajor issues that held up a revised FISA bill were the issue of prosecution for those involved inthis program and how the new act should be structured. A spokesman for Barack Obama initiallystated on October 24, 2007 that:
―To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactiveimmunity for telecommunications companies.‖
 This was the right stance to take. Yet when the final FISA bill came to a vote in the Senate
 — 
which included retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies
 — 
not only did ObamaNOT filibuster the bill, he voted in favor of cloture
 — 
a technique that closes discussion on a billand brings it up for vote
 — 
and voted in FAVOR of the revised FISA bill. This was a two-partflip-flop by Obama; he sold out both civil rights activists and did the exact opposite of filibusterthis flawed act. The
 New York Times
 editorialized that: [This bill would make it] much easier to spy on Americans at home
, reduce the courts‘ powers and grant immunity to the companies that turned over Americans‘ private
communications without a warrant.
…The real
reason this bill exists is because Mr. Bush decided after 9/11 that he was
above the law…
 
Proponents of the FISA deal say companies should not be ―punished‖ for cooperatingwith the government. That‘s
Washington-speak for a cover-up. The purpose of withholding immunity is not to punish but to preserve the only chance of unearthing the
details of Mr. Bush‘s outlaw eavesdropping. Only a few senators, by the way, know just
what those companies did.

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