2016: A Movie Review

By: FireTag
September 1, 2012

My wife seldom takes me to a movie, and never to a documentary.  So I was truly amazed last Sunday when she impulsively bought tickets to the documentary 2016: Obama’s America for a showing less than three hours in the future. I was already familiar with the books on which the documentary was based, and hadn’t even planned to take in the movie, but I appreciated her wanting to see it, so off we went. Having always wanted to be a movie critic, and being at least as familiar with the source material as most of the paid press seems to be, I thought I’d pontificate on my impressions here.

2016‘s source material comes from two books by Dinesh D’Souza, an Ivy-League trained Indian evangelical Christian scholar. The first is The Roots of Obama’s Rage; the second is Obama’s America: Unmaking the American Dream. Critically, both to the film’s strength and its ultimate limitations, there is a third source; substantial portions of the movie script consist of Barack Obama himself reading out loud the audio version of his own autobiography Dreams From My Father. It is difficult to dispute many of D’Souza’s assertions about Obama when the one speaking the assertion is Barack Obama himself and the “best selling” autobiography exists to provide all of the contextual background to the assertions to claim that anything “out of context” is occurring.

D’Souza’s theses begin with the observation that Barack Obama’s world view is indelibly stamped by the unusual form of childhood trauma he experienced. He suffered from parental abandonment issues — as many children do, unfortunately — but in the unique setting for an American politician at the intersection of first world privilege and third world leftist anti-colonialism. As D’Souza himself identifies the significance of being abandoned by his father in an interview about The Roots of Obama’s Rage that appeared in Forbes Magazine:

“America today is governed by a ghost.”

Barack Obama’s mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, met Barack’s father, Barack, Sr. while attending a language class in basic Russian at the University of Hawaii in September, 1960.  Ann had been born in Kansas, but had made a rapid physical and intellectual journey from the American heartland culture to the Pacific Coast. There progressive internationalism was already becoming established as a new idealism as the Western First World and Communist Second World struggled to gain a footing in Asia and Africa as the European Empires of Britain and France in particular could no longer maintain their illusions of economic viability on those continents. Ann was steeped in the views of the left even in high school. The school she attended in Washington was popularly known as the little “red schoolhouse”, and it wasn’t because of the color of the paint. Ann’s family successfully sought business opportunities in the Pacific, and so she found herself a freshman co-ed at the University of Hawaii, energized by the left-right intellectual  issues of the day just as later freshmen would debate civil rights in the American south, feminism, nuclear disarmament, or gay rights issues. Colonialism was a litmus test of the day, and she could not have avoided wanting to take a political view on the issue.

Barack Senior quickly swept her off her feet. He arrived at the University as the physical embodiment of the anti-colonialism ideal through a grant scholarship program designed to bring promising scholars with the potential to be future leaders  from Africa to the United States for study. He clearly had more worldly experience than Ann, and the man who would become President of the United States was born August 4, 1961. Ann was 18 years old.

Although the point was not made in the 2016 script, key dates are shown on the screen in a graphical timeline, and I’m compulsive about doing the math in any graphic.  Barack Senior married Ann on February 2, 1961 after Ann became pregnant with Barack and had to drop out of school. Many a college freshman would buckle under the burden of motherhood and what was then referred to as a “shotgun wedding”, but Ann was laboring under a particularly hard, unknown burden. (It will remain forever unknown how the history of the United States would have changed if the contraception issue in the 1960′s had been the same as it is today.)

Barack Senior already had a wife and two children back in Africa, and he neglected to mention that to Ann until years later. Ann did not voluntarily choose to be a junior polygamous wife. She thought she had married a soul mate and was sacrificing to help make that marriage work. In fact, she was not Barack Senior’s first love, and she would not be his last Western mate during his educational career.

There is some disagreement as to how quickly the marriage stopped working, with some biographies suggesting Ann was physically abused and thereby motivated to change schools to Washington.

Uncontested divorce papers were filed by Ann in January 1964, with Ann completing her undergraduate education in Hawaii and Washington State in the interim, and Barack Senior attending graduate school at Harvard. Ann married an Indonesian, Lolo Soetoro, in 1965, and Ann moved to Indonesia to join her husband when Obama was 6. Ann and Lolo were divorced in 1980. Much of the intervening years were spent with Ann abroad in Indonesia, and Barack remaining in Hawaii with Ann’s mother, who had become reasonably wealthy.

Barack saw his biological father only for one month at the age of 10, yet credits his father as inspiring his love of basketball and jazz:

“I only remember my father for one month my whole life, when I was 10. And it wasn’t until much later in life that I realized, like, he gave me my first basketball and it was shortly thereafter that I became this basketball fanatic. And he took me to my first jazz concert and it was sort of shortly thereafter that I became really interested in jazz and music. So what it makes you realize how much of an impact [even if it's only a month] that they have on you. But I think probably the most important thing was his absence I think contributed to me really wanting to be a good dad, you know? Because I think not having him there made me say to myself “you know what I want to make sure my girls feel like they’ve got somebody they can rely on.” — Barack Obama 11/21/2011

Clearly, the impression Barack formed of his father was mediated almost exclusively by how Ann wanted him to view his father. She could hardly have portrayed his faults as personal — especially in the formative years for Barack when she herself did not know the truth — without invalidating her own life path, and it would have been cruel (if tempting) to allow Barack to grow up with bitterness toward the man who sired him. So anti-colonialism remained in the air that the future President breathed. On these points, D’Souza is on solid, if unremarkable ground.

But it is extraordinarily difficult to predict from the existence of a trauma of the soul how an individual will respond. Abandonment, abuse, or identity crises turn some people into martyrs and brothers or sisters into monsters. Some become lost, others driven to great deeds. Whatever happened to Obama, he worked out his response to it by seeking out mentors from the far left who were already well acquainted with his American parents and grandparents (remember the “red schoolhouse” days), and this factor is supported both by statements by Obama in Dreams From My Father and by research carried out by D’Souza and others.

Perhaps the single most important non-family mentor was Frank Marshall Davis, who was in Obama’s life for eight years and is referenced on a first name basis in Dreams From My Father 22 separate times. D’ Souza spends a good amount of screen time exploring what should have been widespread knowledge about Davis by 2008, but to get at D’Souza’s point it is useful to go directly to Paul Kengor’s recent biography of Davis, The Communist:

“Frank Marshall Davis was a pro-Soviet, pro-Red China, card-carrying member of Communist Party USA (CPUSA). His Communist Party card number was 47544. He did endless Soviet propaganda work in his newspaper columns, at every juncture agitating and opposing U.S. attempts to slow Stalin and Mao in the late 1940s and early 1950s. He favored Red Army takeovers of Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, and Central and Eastern Europe as a whole. In China, he urged America to dump the “fascist” Chiang in support of Mao’s Red forces. He wanted communist takeovers in Korea and Vietnam. He was adamantly, angrily anti-NATO, anti-Marshall Plan, anto-Truman Doctrine. He argued that U.S. officials under President Harry Truman–whom he portrayed as a fascist, racist, and imperialist–and under secretaries of state George Marshall and Dean Acheson were handing West Germany back to the Nazis, while Stalin was pursuing “democracy” in East Germany and throughout the Communist Bloc. He portrayed America’s leaders as “aching for an excuse to launch a nuclear nightmare of mass murder and extermination” against the Chinese and the Soviets–and eager to end all civilization. His writings were breathtakingly irresponsible and shamelessly outrageous. A Reverend Jeremiah Wright sermon or Professor Bill Ayers lecture is tame by comparison.”

Let it be stipulated that Davis had his reasons for hatred of America because of the racial trauma he had himself experienced. But that trauma led him to idolize monsters who used him for their own purposes while they slaughtered nations who had committed no racial offense to him. And he was the substitute father to an American president-to-be.

D’Souza’s next thesis is that Obama — coming from such a non-mainstream American political background — was able to rise to power where previous African American candidates like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton had floundered only because he, unlike them, masked his challenge to the mainstream. More importantly, he depended on no one wanting to peek under any mask because he offered America a grand bargain. Elect me, he was saying, and you will finally receive absolution for the great American sin of racism. At a time when America felt lost and punished, the hope for absolution swept the American people off their feet as surely as Barack Senior had swept Ann Dunham off her course decades earlier. And secrets remained hidden or ignored until half of the American people began to ask what we had done.

D’Souza’s final thesis is that, freed from any constraints by re-election, Obama will dispense with the mask entirely and promote the anti-colonialist “dreams from his father” in every way he can. He would not be content with redistributing wealth within America but would seek to pull down the American middle class precisely because they are near the richest 1% when seen on a global scale. Whether the rest of the world would be better off or worse off with such wealth redistribution in an absolute sense — an issue which D’Souza has seen debated within the developing world for decades — would not matter to Obama, D’Sousa contends. It is relative outcomes only that are important. There can be no absolution for the sins of America without further, just punishment.

Does D’Souza make the case for his last thesis? In my opinion, no. Why? Because he relies too heavily on Barack Obama’s own autobiography in making it. Consider what we have learned this year from another Obama biography, Barack Obama: The Story by the Washington Post’s David Maraniss. As reported here:

Mr. Obama’s memoir, Dreams From My Father, has given the president “nearly complete control of his own life narrative,” Dylan Byers and Glenn Thrush write. But Mr. Maraniss is the kind of writer who can challenge him — “find the strand that unravels the sweater,” as they put it….On Wednesday, Mr. Byers, working off an excerpt of the Maraniss biography in Vanity Fair, wrote of a “gotcha” moment – that Mr. Obama had created a composite of a girlfriend in New York that Maraniss interviewed for the book.

This was news, if only for a short time, because the press had read the memoir (if it had actually read the book at all) as a factual autobiographical account rather than as a literary work in which Obama took editorial liberties. Obama had stated, for example, that he used composite characters or other devices to serve narrative purposes, but it took more investigative reporting than most were willing to do prior to the 2008 campaign to sort out fact thought to serve the narrative, from omission or distortion by design, or from pure artistic license.

Again, in regard to D’Souza’s absolution of racial sin theory, would the electorate really have chosen any other president who named as his mentor Frank Marshall Davis? Would a press doing its job have let the impression of factual biography go unchallenged without following through on the implications of such facts?

Alternatively, are we to believe that Americans knowingly cast their lot with a President based solely on his literary accomplishments? We decided that the man we needed to lead us out of disaster was a professor whose demonstrated academic expertise – despite the departments from which his academic appointments came – was in writing about things rather than doing them? In editing articles about laws rather than publishing his own legal scholarship,  let alone passing and implementing them at either state or national levels? In writing about economies and foreign policies instead of running them?

D’Souza believes that Obama has been able – with the aid of a less-than-workmanlike press, and the desire of the American people to receive forgiveness for the sins of racism – to hide his core from the American people.

But, if you do accept that premise, why would you also conclude that an autobiography written by Obama himself would be anything that would reveal Obama in a true light rather than a self-flattering light? Secretive people do lie to their diaries when they plan on publishing the diaries!

Maraniss’ book contains dozens of examples from Dreams of the races of characters changed, events told as facts which are, at best, family myths, and Obama’s own “whiteness” downplayed. Even the story of his abandonment by his father at the age of two is not exactly the truth. Maraniss is one of the biographers who notes that physical abuse of Ann by Barack Senior may have led her to flee to Washington a year earlier, before Obama would have any memory of losing his father.

As a book seller, Obama needed a narrative then of himself as an edgy, oppressed victim of the white colonialists, foreign to America. Later, as a national political candidate, he needed a different narrative, and he told that one. Both narratives should be taken with a spoonful of salt, and elements of either narrative only taken seriously when established from sources beyond the narrator’s control.

So 2016: Obama’s America goes, in my opinion, one step too far. We have a President stamped with childhood abandonment and identity traumas that undoubtedly drive him in complex ways. Those drives have taken him into a world far to the internationalist left in the economic and foreign policy areas compared to most Americans. They have led to political alliances with machines that most Americans knew were corrupt well before he joined them. He has emerged at the top of those machines, but apparently with any promise of racial sin absolution conditional not only on his election to President, but his re-election as well. There need be no master plan here, as D’Souza tries to argue there is. There may only be a scarred, abandoned child, trying to acquire and maintain as much success as possible for as long as possible, and making up how to do that as he goes along.

We should have compassion for that child, but we need not do that by giving him any further power over the world. That may be profoundly dangerous. We still do not know what is under the mask.

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35 Responses to 2016: A Movie Review

  1. Stephen M (Ethesis) on September 1, 2012 at 5:15 AM

    Barack Obama.

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  2. Stephen M (Ethesis) on September 1, 2012 at 6:16 AM

    “Does D’Souza make the case for his last thesis? In my opinion, no”

    Thank you for a clear bottom line.

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  3. Andrew H. on September 1, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    I just read “Dreams of My Father” this last month, and am surprised to hear people talk about Frank Marshall Davis as a key mentor. Obama presents “Frank” (who we assume was Frank Marshall Davis) as a fascinating but ultimately unsatisfactory role model. He dismisses his ideas as those of an “aging hippie”. Obama presents himself as interested in what Frank has to say, but ultimately finds him a pathetic figure.

    D’Souza seriously thinks that after 4 years of moderate technocratic government, that Obama is going to go radical in his final term? With what will surely be a divided Congress that will not pass any major legislation?

    And in the book, Obama presents himself as a often confused kid, trying to figure out his place. Reducing the portriat to “edgy, oppressed victim of the white colonialists, foreign to America” underplays the complexity of the portrait he draws.

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  4. Bob on September 1, 2012 at 8:16 AM

    FireTag:
    I have not seen “The documentary 2016: Obama’s America”. But I did read your OP and have watched Obama for four years.
    Put me down as a non-acceptor of the views of the OP. I judge Obama by the four years I have viewed him.

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  5. Brent on September 1, 2012 at 8:52 AM

    The OP is interesting. The movie even more interesting. Obama is certainly guided by… something… although I don’t know what that something is. As for me and my house, we will not be voting for him this time around.

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  6. FireTag on September 1, 2012 at 9:06 AM

    Ethesis:

    I’ve fixed it. I guess that’s a perfect example of how you make a mistake in haste at the beginning, and then perpetuate it throughout the document because you don’t believe you could have made such a simple mistake in the first place. Sort of like being the press in the 2008 election, I guess. :D

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  7. FireTag on September 1, 2012 at 10:01 AM

    Andrew H:

    You are making the same assumption that D’Sousa does — specifically, that Obama reveals the truth about events and his reactions to them in his writings. Rather, he narrates those events in a way that evokes the response from his readers about HIM that he desires. As one reviewer of Dreams put it, I believe, in Dreams we don’t see Obama inventing himself. We see Obama inventing himself inventing himself. It is the second level “meta-inventing”, not the first, to which we have to pay attention once Obama’s role is political leader and not literary star.

    Frank Marshall Davis was NOT ever a hippy. Although he certainly went in for sexual orgies, in addition to or as part of a rebellion against Christianity (there’s a whole literature on that aspect of Davis’s life, too, but it isn’t relevant to the OP), he was not the “mellow” kind that stuck flowers in the gun barrels of National Guard troops at Kent State.

    There are literally HUNDREDS of newspaper articles written by Davis that followed Stalinist propaganda lines, right down to switching positions 180 degrees when Stalin switched from Hitler’s accomplice to Hitler’s enemy in WW2. No peace and love there at all, but “sad old hippy” was far more comfortable a phrase to explain Davis than “failed old revolutionary”. If you used the latter, you’d be compelled to discuss why you did or did not reject the revolutionary and radical in your “self discovery”. The former expression can be finessed, even if it is the FAILURE, not the revolutionary aspect of Davis’ character, that you find repulsive. And “Dreams From My Father” was certainly not a call to FAIL at his father’s dreams.

    Maraniss, in interviews about any negative publicity his book generated toward Obama, described Obama as a “pragmatist.” It is critical to understand that “pragmatic” is not “moderate”. A pragmatist recognizes that he or she can not have what he or she wants because others have the power to STOP that. A moderate WANTS those who oppose them to get some of what they want, even if they DO NOT have the power to stop him from getting what he wants.

    In the political record of Obama from Chicago onward, you’ve seen the actions of a pragmatist, not a moderate. Certainly, there is nowhere near a 50-50 split in the polls as to whether Obama is a creature of the American political center or a creature of the American political left. Remember that conservatives in America consistently outnumber liberals by about a 2:1 margin. “Moderates” in the US political spectrum tend to be on the center-right — what strong progressives tend to call “extremist”. :D

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  8. Ray on September 1, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    Thanks for this review. FireTag.

    I voted for President Obama much more as a vote against the Republican party’s handling of war than as an actual endorsement. I didn’t buy his rhetoric, but I couldn’t vote to continue the leadership “system” at the time. Governor Romney wasn’t my top choice this time around, but this review captures much of my concern over President Obama – not that I really believe the apocalyptic view of many people I know, but that I just don’t trust the man behind the mask (and I do believe he lives behind a mask). If Congress was unified and could vote unchecked to support his ideal agenda, I would be very, very concerned – just as I would have been in the same situation with Rick Santorum.

    Off topic a bit, but life’s little ironies are so delicious sometimes. In 2008, the Mormon candidate was the only Republican to have been married to only one woman, while in 2012 both of the primary candidates are descended from polygamy.

    Eight years ago, I would have been laughed out of the room if I had dared suggest either of those as possible.

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  9. Bonnie on September 1, 2012 at 12:26 PM

    I think everyone’s narratives should be taken with a spoonful of salt – both those we create for ourselves and those we create for others. My own narrative has changed over the years. The great power of the atonement is the power to transcend our narrative. I’ve long been a bit cynical (breaking my own rule about the destructiveness of cynicism) about the true influence of a president and the strange king-maker tendencies of modern Americans, so I don’t put a lot of stock in the capacity of any one individual to single-handedly destroy or save a country. In short, I doubt it matters near as much whom we elect as it does whether we are honest with our employers and mindful of our children.

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  10. ed on September 1, 2012 at 10:29 PM

    Yes indeed…how could we ever predict what Obama were to do if he were to be president? What in his background or experience can we look at to know how he would govern? How might he wield this awesome power?

    I mean, if you think Obama is is just too risky and unknown after 4 years in office, how could you vote for Romney, who only held any elective office for 4 years and now seems to repudiate (when convenient) much of what he did then? Seriously?

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  11. FireTag on September 1, 2012 at 11:03 PM

    ed:

    I’m a Washington Redskins fan. I’ve seen enough of Rex Grossman to know he isn’t the answer. I’ll take my chance on the rookie Griffen at QB, not with a lot of short term hope, but with a certainty we have to change.

    I’ll be the same in my politics this year.

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  12. Andrew H. on September 2, 2012 at 6:09 AM

    Your #11 comment about preferring the unknown rookie over the current starter makes perfect sense, I have no problem with that. But the idea that we should fear Obama because of a secret hidden agenda is silly. Jesus said, “By their fruits ye shall know them.” Not by their secret high school reading list. Obama has a long enough record of statements and actions as a public figure to make judgments about what he thinks is important, and what he wants to do. Imagining a secret long-held desire for radical change goes against the Occam’s razor principle of simplicity.

    While I understand being skeptical about a politician’s writings, this kind of skepticism of Dreams From My Father does not pass the smell test for me. If a politician wanted to throw people off the trail about their secret radical plan, it seems like they would write about what a great person they were, and what sensible ideas they have. But Obama wrote about a confused young man making a series of bad decisions. Pushing a girl down because he was embarrassed people would think she was his girlfriend. Clumsily trying out his black identity as an older teen, and getting shot down for trying to prove himself by excluding others. Immaturely experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Throughout the book Obama talks about the dumb or embarrassing things he did in his journey to discover/create an identity [as far as I read, I had to return the book to the Fukuoka library last week without finishing the last third]. If that was part of his secret plan to get people to vote for him in a future election, he sure picked a unique way of doing it.

    Finally, as far as knowing an older guy who was a Communist party member. Remember the times. For black intellectuals in the 1930s and 1940s, socialist/communist ideas were common, as they were among the third world anti-colonial movement. Capitalism seemed to be in complete cahoots with the powers of oppression. Naturally, many concluded that capitalism itself was the enemy, and turned to its antithesis, socialism. By the time you get to the 1980s, these guys were mostly dying out, and very few of the rising generation picked up their torches. Obama, like most black intellectuals and members of the middle class, had little use for that kind of ideology. Instead, the emphasis was on succeeding within the capitalist system through education and mutual aid.

    I’ll say it again. In terms of American politics in the 1970s-1990s, Obama is a moderate. A moderate. If he sees distantly extreme for some, I would say it is they who have done the ideological moving, not him.

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  13. Mike S on September 2, 2012 at 10:23 AM

    I saw this movie this weekend and it was one of the worst movies I have seen in a long long time. Granted, Obama has a persona based on where he came from, but the movie draws completely unwarranted conclusions from that. Examples:

    The movie suggests the decrease in house prices is an attempt by Obama to gut the middle class. The housing crisis started under Bush.

    The movie suggests that the moratorium on off shore drilling is an attempt to subjugate US energy policy to third world countries in an attempt to make up for the colonialism of the past. Nevermind that the policy changed after the Gulf disaster and was based on environmental causes.

    The movie implies that Obama is running up deficits on purpose. Nevermind that trillions have been spent on Bush’s wars. Our that Obama inherited a major economic collapse that started on Bush’s watch.

    It goes on and on through dozens of examples. Facts are completely twisted and completely unwarranted assumptions are made. This is absolutely the worst movie is have seen in a long, long time. Unfortunately, many Americans are so oblivious to actual facts that they will see this and actually believe it. But they also think Glen Beck and others are unbiased sources of news.

    Two thumbs down

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  14. FireTag on September 2, 2012 at 10:51 AM

    Andrew H:

    As I thought I made clear in the OP, I agree with your notion that there is no secret master plan revealed in “Dreams”. There is little revealed in “Dreams” at all except a narrative that Obama WANTS you to believe for his purposes AT THE TIME, which may have been nothing more extensive than self-promotion. Length did not permit me to explore the extent and nature of the “artistic liberties” Obama took in the OP, but there is a more extensive discussion of what Maraniss found in the Daily Mail, and Maraniss remains pro-Obama, so can hardly be accused of bias against him:

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2161817/Obamas-grandfather-Stanley-Armour-Dunham-tortured-British.html#ixzz1yKierZZB

    You will note that many of the switches (distortions?) in the list INVOLVE the racial identity of characters. These switches in race and the role of oppressor versus oppressed systematically serve a narrative of “self-discovery” in the book that the actual events could not plausibly have done in Obama’s real life. But no one would really have been interested in Obama’s autobio without that “discovery” of his authentic connection to Africa as the end point, would they? So one can infer nothing from its presence. True or false, it HAS to be written that way. He starts at point A (messed up, abandoned child), and convinces you that he has reached point B (mature “moderate”) without ever plausibly explaining HOW the REAL events of his life, as opposed to his crafted memoir, get him to B.

    Your defense of Davis as being typical of black intellectuals in the 30′s and 40′s fails on two counts. True, there was an intellectual fascination with socialism and communism among BOTH white and black intellectuals throughout the 30′s and 40′s (a larger percentage of whites were communist in that era than blacks were), and the universities have remained the strongest bastion of such views ever since. Indeed, I acknowledged that colonialism was the litmus issue between right and left in the 1950′s. But the oath of loyalty signed in joining the CPUSA in the 1930′s was to the Leninist — i.e., revolutionary — overthrow of the government of the United States of America, and Davis’ peak output in support of Communism was in the 1950′s when the USSR and China were moving into pre-capitalist societies (e.g., Korea) and repressing violently rebellions among their previous east European conquests.

    Davis IS typical, however, of a whole series of connections between Obama and radicals that REQUIRE an explanation.

    If I may switch gears for a moment, Romney knows lots of people in the Mormon hierarchy, but because he grew up Mormon, the existence of his connection to them is self-explanatory. WHAT WOULD HAVE TO BE EXPLAINED WOULD BE WHY ROMNEY LEFT MORMONISM. Since he didn’t leave Mormonism, no explanation is required.

    Obama grew up among radicals. He continues to maintain connections to radicals that united with (or, as we would have put it in the 1960′s, “sold out to the man”) a corrupt Chicago (and then Illinois) political machine.

    It is still the burden of proof on Obama to show HOW he got from messed-up-kid raised in circumstances that destroy many people to mature “moderate”. “Dreams” provides no plausible narrative for THAT switch, and the governing record of the past term (and in Chicago/Illinois before hand) is one of relentless acquisition of political power to himself and dispensation of rewards to his allies in the machine.

    I still stand by my OP conclusion:

    “There need be no master plan here, as D’Souza tries to argue there is. There may only be a scarred, abandoned child, trying to acquire and maintain as much success as possible for as long as possible, and making up how to do that as he goes along.”

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  15. Mike S on September 2, 2012 at 12:04 PM

    Also, Obama may have changed his story/presentation as he went along, but that’s just because he’s a politician. Romney has certainly done the same thing concerning his views about many issues – presenting them very differently for different audiences and at different points in his political career.

    This movie (and it’s conclusions) is about as tastefully done as if someone spent 90 minutes talking about Romney and his secret desire to subjugate the world to a Mormon dynasty, quoting the White Horse prophecy, documenting “secret” meetings between Romney and various high church leaders, secret things going on in the temples, etc. Someone may certainly think that, but it’s not why Romney also flip-flops on different issues – it’s just that he’s a politician.

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  16. ed on September 2, 2012 at 3:45 PM

    Andrew H:

    I think you misunderstood FireTag. You might think he wants Rex Grossman replaced because of his performance as a quarterback in recent years. But No!

    FireTag is concerned about what Grossman thinks about football “under the mask.” There is some evidence that Grossman dabbled other sports in high school, even such “un-American” sports as Soccer and Golf! His cousin played on a high school team that used the Wishbone! His entire philosophy of quarterbacking is suspect! Under these circumstance, giving him the power to direct an offense would be irresponsible and risky.

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  17. Julia on September 2, 2012 at 4:59 PM

    In #14
    A: “If I may switch gears for a moment, Romney knows lots of people in the Mormon hierarchy, but because he grew up Mormon, the existence of his connection to them is self-explanatory. WHAT WOULD HAVE TO BE EXPLAINED WOULD BE WHY ROMNEY LEFT MORMONISM. Since he didn’t leave Mormonism, no explanation is required.”
    And
    B: “It is still the burden of proof on Obama to show HOW he got from messed-up-kid raised in circumstances that destroy many people to mature “moderate”. “Dreams” provides no plausible narrative for THAT switch, and the governing record of the past term (and in Chicago/Illinois before hand) is one of relentless acquisition of political power to himself and dispensation of rewards to his allies in the machine.”

    I am confused by these two statements, on several levels.

    In A, so Romney has no need to explain his early life and how it impacts his political positions? I don’t think being Mormon is the part of his early life we should be asking about. I would like him to “prove” that growing up in a wealthy family didn’t make his views of the world vastly different from the bottom 99%.

    I would like to know how much experience has has with “the poor” who use the social safety net, and which he said he wasn’t worried about. When the budget proposed by his running mate would decimate the programs he was talking about that make “poor people” something to not worry about.

    I don’t think that you can say that we need to look at what Obama’s childhood was like, without demanding the same thing of Romney (or Both Bush presidents) or any other politician. I agree that our life experiences shape who we are, especially the ones we have as we are coming of age, and learning how to see the world. There are lots of things we could see as early indications of choices made later. Examples include; Bush using the National Guard to avoid being drafted, Romney’s deferment to serve a mission in France, Obama’s early college experiences and his start at political organizing in his community. All of these were experiences that shaped their lives and attitudes about government, service, civil society obligations, etc.

    In B, what kind of “evidence would you find acceptable? Could it come from him, or would it be found in other sources? Where would we find those sorces if we need them?

    Would we also need Romney to prove that his changes in ideology, between the time he was governor and now? Again, could it come Romney, or would it be found in other sources? Where would we find those sorces if we need them?

    I think your desire for answers is certainly appropriate, but I don’t think we should give Romney a pass on answering them because he was raised LDS and is still a member.

    I also am not sure that being exposed to different ideas, especially if you never specifically claimed them for your own, means that you need to prove that you do not believe them. As far as I know, Obama never joined CPUSA (unless that is “hidden” with his real birth certificate) so I don’t see the need for him to specifically denounce everything he has heard and thought about, but did not end up embracing. I took several political science classes by a CPUSA member, and I learned a lot about communism, but I also learned about a lot of American political parties since the founding of the country. I haven’t joined the Bull Mouse party, just because I understand what they stood for, anymore than I would join either the Democrats or Republicans. (And I don’t understand what either party stands for at this point.)

    I would hate to think I needed to publicly renounce all the opinions I hear in church meetings that I don’t agree with. I don’t think it would be embarrassing for me, but I wouldn’t want to embarrass the YW leaders who taught them to me, since I believe they were sincere.

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  18. FireTag on September 2, 2012 at 10:26 PM

    Julia:

    Let me again try to distinguish between the position of the person who DOES NOT CHANGE from the person who DOES ASSERT CHANGE. They are not symmetric.

    If you walk into a room and see that the furniture is exactly as you left it, what is there to explain? You may wonder why the room’s owner didn’t have different design taste, or wish the furniture was a different color. But it doesn’t surprise you that the furniture is where you left it.

    On the other hand, if you walk into a room and the couch is sitting on a different side of the room, that has to have some explanation. Furthermore, when you ask for an explanation, and you are instead told that, no, the couch was always on that side of the room, you are entitled to become suspicious.

    Obama is trying to tell me that the couch has always been on that side of the room. Connections that are matters of public record supposedly had NO effect on forging his character or his rise in politics, even when he is forced to repudiate those connections — as with Jeremiah Wright — in mid-campaign. He somehow rose to the top of a political machine once run by Al Capone, still so acknowledged as corrupt that SINCE THE 1970′s there has been one conviction for corruption about EVERY 45 DAYS, and that could hold a governors’ convention in a prison wing without any travel expenses. Yet, he emerged from that a citizen-serving moderate, and that requires NO explanation??!!

    Yet, any “explanation” coming from “Dreams from My Father” could only relate to “moderation” in the first place if Barack Senior’s goals had been moderate, which the book does NOT claim. Further, it depends on Obama’s identity being forged by events that DID NOT occur. Let me quote briefly from Maraniss’ research, as discussed in the Daily Mail piece I linked in an earlier comment:

    “One of the enduring myths of Obama’s ancestry is that his paternal grandfather Hussein Onyango Obama, who served as a cook in the British Army, was imprisoned in 1949 by the British for helping the anti-colonial Mau Mau rebels and held for several months. …In a 2008 interview, Sarah Obama claimed that he was ‘whipped every morning and evening’ by the British. ‘They would sometimes squeeze his testicles with metal rods. They also pierced his nails and buttocks with a sharp pin, with his hands and legs tied together. He was lucky to survive. Some of his fellow inmates were mutilated with castration pliers and beaten to death with clubs.’

    “But Maraniss, who researched Obama’s life in Kenya, Indonesia, Hawaii and the mainland United States, found that there were ‘no remaining records of any detention, imprisonment, or trial of Hussein Onyango Obama’. He interviewed five people who knew Obama’s grandfather, who died in 1979, who ‘doubted the story or were certain it did not happen’. This undermines the received wisdom that Obama’s grandfather was a victim of oppression, an assumption that has in turn fuelled theories that Obama harbours an animus towards Britain based on a deeply-rooted rage about the way Onyango was treated.”

    “John Ndalo Aguk, who worked with Onyango before the alleged imprisonment and was in touch with him weekly afterwards said he ‘knew nothing’ about any detention and would have noticed if he had gone missing for several months.

    “Zablon Okatch, who worked with Onyango as a servant to American diplomats after the supposed incarceration, said: ‘Hussein was never jailed. I know that for a fact. It would have been difficult for him to get a job with a white family, let alone a diplomat, if he once served in jail.’

    “Charles Oluoch, whose father was adopted by Onyango, said that ‘he did not have any trouble with the government in any way’

    “A tale of the father of Obama’s Indonesian stepfather Soewarno Martodihardjo being killed by Dutch soldiers as he fought for Indonesian independence turns out to be ‘a concocted myth in almost all respects’, Maraniss finds.”…

    “A character in Obama’s memoir called Ray, portrayed as a symbol of young blackness, is in fact based on a fellow pupil who was half Japanese, part native American and part black and was not a close friend.”

    “‘In the memoir Barry and Ray, could be heard complaining about how rich white haole [upper class white Hawaiian] girls would never date them. In fact, neither had much trouble in that regard.’”

    Not to belabor the point, but the same kind of racial fictionalization of characters is noted by Maraniss in regard to other girl friends of Obama.

    So, I’m not questioning the need to examine how life may have affected a candidate. I am insisting that we examine the REAL life, not the candidate’s own fictionalized one, in order to determine those effects.

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  19. FireTag on September 2, 2012 at 10:40 PM

    Ed:

    Actually, I think Grossman’s stats are QUITE sufficient to bench him, in and of themselves. He has this tendency to go for TD passes that turn into TDs for the opposing team, and can’t seem to understand why his own bosses keep trying to rein him in.

    Dangerous trait in both a QB and a Commander in Chief. I’d gladly trade him from Washington back to Chicago for a first round draft choice. There haven’t yet been many bios of Rex Grossman, so I can’t speculate on how his childhood may have made him the kind of player he is. He apparently didn’t write his autobiography before he’d actually made the NFL.

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  20. Julia on September 3, 2012 at 1:43 AM

    Firetag

    That was an incredibly long comment to have not addressed or answered a single one of the points in my fairly long comment. I gave you the benefit of the doubt and read the long, rambling, not relative to my comment “response.”

    All I can say is that unfortunately, you had no desire to use your method of “reviewing” and even pretend to apply them to anyone else. In doing so, you actually proved my point for me.

    I would suggest you let Eric, at Mormon Iconoclast to thr reviewing, since he has the background for it, but since he is open about being a member of the Democratic party, he probably is as untrustworthy as all other Democrats.

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  21. FireTag on September 3, 2012 at 9:29 AM

    Julia:

    I thought I addressed your main thesis, your dispute of the meaning of your points A and B rather extensively. I presumed that was your main thesis because it’s the thesis you led with.

    So let me go deeper into your comment:

    “I don’t think being Mormon is the part of his early life we should be asking about. I would like him to “prove” that growing up in a wealthy family didn’t make his views of the world vastly different from the bottom 99%.

    “I would like to know how much experience has has with “the poor” who use the social safety net, and which he said he wasn’t worried about. When the budget proposed by his running mate would decimate the programs he was talking about that make “poor people” something to not worry about.”

    The Republicans spent their last campaign night attempting to address that very question. Their narrative, which you may believe or not, of course, is that Romney became concerned about the poor because his role as a priesthood member of integrity with ward and stake responsibilities required that he care for the poor and suffering in order to be faithful. He quipped at one point — tellingly to the people likely in this forum, I think — that he didn’t mind losing his own money, but didn’t want to solicit investment from the church because he “didn’t want to go to hell.” Do you find it implausible that religious people may find it an obligation they must obey to give time and money to succor others or expect to be judged for it before God?

    He further talked about learning about the struggles of others as his own wife struggled against both breast cancer and MS, or as ward members faced the loss of loved ones in cruel ways and required a pastor. Those were the “three AM phone calls” Mitt Romney had to learn to deal with, and most Mormon bishops, protestant pastors, Catholic priests, or Jewish rabbis can understand how they change you.

    The country wasn’t asked to take his word for it. There was a moving mini-testimony meeting of normal people who told of his personal help at times of crisis in their lives. If your coverage came only from the MSM, you may not know the content of those stories yet — if you even know they existed — but you will. The swing states in particular will be saturated with them over the next two months.

    I will also speak to the persisting “myth” that the Romney budget proposals CUT spending on the poor. In Washington-speak, a cut is when an agency doesn’t get all of the increase it was hoping for. Planned spending INCREASES for the Federal government as far as the eye can see — which has the Libertarians pissed — and Ryan’s proposals don’t even BALANCE the budget for decades. We’re talking about spending over $40 trillion in the next decade as opposed to closer to $50 trillion. The poor are threatened by the mathematics of promises already made that can never be kept. The sooner we get real about that, the fewer people are going to get badly hurt.

    Oh, and Julia, I started out in life as a Democrat, until an earlier generation of well-meaning liberals convinced me of the error of my ways because their policies produced genocide abroad and desolation in our cities despite their trying to produce peace and justice.

    The Republican plan is growth in the private sector, not European style austerity, because only the private sector can generate wealth efficiently as opposed to government’s inefficient redistribution of wealth already created.

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  22. Julia on September 3, 2012 at 10:29 AM

    Firetag-

    Maybe I should start with: I am not and haven’t been affiliated with any political party. I watch whatever news coverage is available on each party convention, each election cycle. I did watch the “mini-testimony meeting” and I heard all of the speeches both as they went in real time, and later on playback on my DVR. I will do the same thing with the Democratic convention, and I will listen and think critically about those things that are said there.

    I have no idea what MSM is, but I try to keep up with a variety of news sources, including Fox, BBC, and occasionally John Stewart and Stephen Colbert, to understand the variety of view points held by people with different world views.

    I get that you buy the party line of the Republican party, and that the final night of the convention (maybe all of it?) convinced you that Romney is the guy. You are glad all the “witnesses” will be “saturated” with the sound bites that best fit the narrative at the time. I get it. You get to have your opinions. I am glad you feel good about your choice. Just don’t try to say that your view is somehow a critique or Review of thoughts a movie, without a biased view point.

    My questions were to that point. The question about Romney and Ryan are at least as valid as questions about Obama are. I was trying to use the specific “concerns” that you expressed in the OP and comments to demonstrate what they would look like from the other side.

    I don’t think that Obama or Romney do a great job being consistent in their personal narratives and political rhetoric. Both have huge holes in their credibility. The biggest difference I see is that the Democrats seem to understand that they have to address those holes, and answer questions. The Republicans seem to think they are above reproach, and do no questions should need answers. I don’t know if that will be addressed in more detail during the rest of the election of not. (I lost my crystal ball a long time ago.)

    I think that the primary thing that you missed, the “hole” in your argument if you will, is that demanding answers on one side and not the other leave the side not talking open to more attacks. The more talking and less listening (or in this case reading my entire comment and answering the entire critique) means that you make silly mistakes based on your assumptions about who you are taking to, and what they think.

    Not everyone fits into the neat boxes of “Republican” and “Democrat.” with more people choosing nonaffiliated or Independent (not the same thing) candidates can’t assume that they can win an election just on the strength of their base. All of the points I brought up are things I have read other places. People who haven’t decided who to vote for are asking these questions. A candidate and party can simply say, “You are wrong,” but it doesn’t mean that people will accept that when specific statements run up against previous positions and don’t match. With Romney, those concerns come from the right, almost as often as from the left.

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  23. FireTag on September 3, 2012 at 11:42 AM

    Julia:

    Perhaps we are talking past each other because I start from the assumption that every person has a “default setting” as it were. In physics we have the principle of inertia: an object at rest stays at rest unless a force acts upon it; an object in motion continues with the same motion unless a force acts upon it.

    Romney’s initial trajectory — the environment in which he was raised — simply doesn’t start from the same place as Obama’s. I don’t have ANY evidence that Romney’s family environment taught him extremism; his father lost the Republican nomination, for crying out loud, over his opposition to the Viet Nam war when he lived in an area of Michigan where the “auto” unions built military TANKS. Barack Obama started out in a bad situation for little ones; and the people he sought out, both in his formative years and in his political life, seem to have been more concerned about ruling the poor than in raising them up. Of all the routes a person of talent could take to lift himself up, why did he choose the one system where “nobody who ain’t sent by somebody gets into see anybody”, as the Chicago machine has been so exquisitely described.

    How many people in this country have actually socialized with multiple people over an extended period who have advocated and/or committed acts toward the violent overthrow of the United States government? Think it’s a lot less than 3 million? Because that would be 1% of the population who would be unlike the other 99% of us.

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  24. Julia on September 3, 2012 at 12:01 PM

    Firetag,

    I am going to assume that you don’t know just how offensive your language is, or how dismissive you are of the experiences of a huge number of people who you glibly dismiss as people who can’t figure out who their allies are.

    I have no idea how you think having a father who is part of the political elite, and who was “oppressed” by his party for not believing in a favorite belief of the time, makes him somehow unaccountable for how his early life impacts his politics.

    I would hate for my more liberal friends to write me off for going to church with a fair number of people who are bigots. I am amazed how many members immediately label me as a radical because I listen to more than FOX news. There is not a single issue I have brought up on this post that has not been said by the right wing of the Republican party during the primary process.

    And no, I do not accept the insulting idea that no one from Chicago could be honest, (I believe we still have stakes there) or that having people in your young life with a consistent world view means you will agree with them or have any desire to initiate any policy or thought they espoused. If there was that kind of predetermination, we would not see political thinkers in the church. Every one of my Primary teachers was very conservative (we were given Reagan buttons for learning scriptures) and I still grew up to be able to look at Reagan’s early life (when his family received government assistance on a number of occasions) and see the disconnect from his early life, and his eventual policies.

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  25. FireTag on September 3, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    Mike S.:

    I have been late in responding to your comment because I wanted to be sure of where Obama was in his political career when “Dreams” was published as I considered that the narrative may have been influenced by political needs at the time. It was published in 1995 (republished in 2004 with a forward and a copy of his 2004 Convention address).

    Certainly differences between the 1995 and 2004 versions could be accounted for by several benign mechanisms — maturity, a different perspective on past events, or the dynamics of his immediate campaign for the US Senate.

    But it would be cynical indeed of me to suggest that Obama wrote the book in 1995 with such a long term political path in mind. In 1995, Obama had not yet begun to campaign for a position in the Illinois legislature from an entirely-Chicago district centered in fund-raising on the neighborhood of Hyde Park. Wikipedia contains several contemporary local news sources about his entry into the political realm:

    Knapp, Kevin (July 5, 1995). “Alice Palmer to run for Reynolds’ seat”. Hyde Park Herald: p. 1. “Talk of who might replace Palmer, assuming she wins the race, has already begun. One front-runner might be Palmer-supporter Barack Obama, an attorney with a background in community organization and voter registration efforts. Obama, who has lived ‘in and out’ of Hyde Park for 10 years, is currently serving as chairman of the board of directors of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge. Obama said that even though the election would be years away, ‘I am seriously exploring that campaign.’”

    Hevrdejs, Judy; Conklin, Mike (July 7, 1995). “Hevrdejs & Conklin INC.”. Chicago Tribune: p. 20. Retrieved February 10, 2010. “Polpourri: . . . Barack Obama will announce he’s running for the state Senate seat occupied by Alice Palmer, who’s running for Reynolds’ U.S. congressional seat. Obama, who has worked with Palmer, is an attorney at Davis, Miner, Barnhill & Galland and newly published author of Dreams from My Father.”
    Mitchell, Monica (August 23, 1995).

    Very few people running for such a relatively low office would write an autobiography with that purpose in mind. Candidates for State Senator want to shake your hand and give you a brochure. They don’t usually have a written autobiography. Maybe Hyde Park is stranger than I thought :D

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  26. FireTag on September 3, 2012 at 1:21 PM

    Julia:

    I did not suggest the insulting idea that no one from Chicago could be honest. I did suggest that the many honest people of Chicago have been oppressed by a political machine whose long-term corruption is now beyond serious debate. Am I supposed to give Al Capone the benefit of the doubt at this point? Who were the reformers who cleaned up Chicago’s act? When did they do it? If not, am I not entitled to ask how an “honest” politician rises to the top of such a machine and brings his allies to Washington?

    If I glibly dismiss your concerns about Romney — and I don’t think I have — it’s because I do NOT understand WHY you seem to think that success in building a business career should lead to a normal trajectory of contempt for the poor while success in building a political career should normally lead to a trajectory of concern for the poor. THAT is the double standard I see at play here. Why would you think that the impact of Romney’s early life would be contempt, when you can’t present evidence of contempt later in life? The Obama campaign has been trying to tar Romney with massive negative ads for months on end and nothing has stuck. Rasmussen polls approximately 15,000 voters on party preference every month (500 every night of polling). The August results were published on September 1, and now show the highest percentage of Republican Party identification in the 10 years they’ve been asking the preference question.

    Republicans aren’t dodging the questions independents and undecideds are asking. They are answering them to the increasing satisfaction of the electorate. Romney has been rising steadily throughout August as a result.

    I honestly do not get why you think Romney isn’t answering the questions that are important to the electorate as a whole, and I am just as honestly tired of Republicans being called stupid, or racist, or anti-women because conservatives and liberals have different moral wiring. Conservatives get offended, too.

    And I hope you noted that I did conclude in my review that D’Souza did NOT make his case.

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  27. Geoff -A on September 4, 2012 at 2:52 AM

    Today we had some friends to lunch who have been living in SLC for the last few years. Although they pointed out that media thererarely covers much outside Utah they were also convinced that the only ballanced coverage was by FOX and that NPR for example was in the pocket of the left. We did not defend our support for the left in politics because they were so vehement.

    Are the PARAOLYMPICS being shown there? I have just watched a man with no arms win a silver medal in a 4 x 100 individual medely swimming race. He was beaten by a man with one arm and one leg. An Austtralian woman with cerable palsy won a bronze medal in track cycling in spite of having a ceasure in the middle of her race. Many of these people are interviewed after their taces and show wonderful humour,character, and are inspiritational.

    I have not seen any reference to the Paraolympics on LDS websites I visit, and thought you should have been inspired as I am?

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  28. Julia on September 4, 2012 at 5:56 AM

    Geoff:

    I wish we had Parslympic coverage. I make do with the Paralympic App on my iPhone. I think if the Paralympics were on TV, people are worried no one would watch all the political conventions, debates, etc.

    I actually have a post I am finishing up and will be posting this week, addressing the fact yhat we, as Americans, are really missing out. I would love to have your insight, since I can’t watch them. Would you be willing to email me? Findingmywaysoftly @gmail. com (just take out the two spaces)

    Thanks, I hope. :-)

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  29. Will on September 4, 2012 at 10:19 AM

    Firetag,

    Great post.

    I thought D’Souza missed the mark in some parts, but was spot on other points. America was a colony after all and we did fight off the British to gain our freedom. I do agree however, that Obama views the United States in the wrong light. I do think that he thinks people (or nations) that obtained their wealth did so by exploiting others – a zero sum attitude that if someone is winning, than someone else has to be losing. A win-win situation is usually the case with wealthy people. Bill Gates for instance created enormous wealth for himself and for those around him; and, society as a whole benefited from his advancements.

    I do think Obama is trying to make the US just another nation and is doing (purposely or by simple incompetence) this by failing to deal with the uncontrollable debt. D’Souza failed to address the real issue facing the United States in his movie and that is China. On average, an American makes 6 times more than their Chinese counterpart. We have 16 trillion in general obligation debt and an estimated 54 trillion in unfunded liabilities. China, on the other hand has 3.5 Trillion in reserves and no unfunded liabilities. China is buying industrial and precious metal by the ton – Gold, Silver, Palladium, Platinum and on and on and on. Most importantly, the Yuan is now starting to be used as an international currency. Mcdonald’s and Boeing just did multi-billion dollar projects with Yuan backed bonds.

    When the Yuan becomes the world’s currency, we are screwed. Really screwed. Instantly, our purchasing power will be at least 1/6 of what it was. It will be good for our long debt (mostly owed to China), but consumer products will be at least six times as much as they currently are. Wal-mart and China have translated into a pay increases for most Americans as we could buy products so cheap, but as soon as the Yuan becomes the world’s currency every American will get an enormous pay cut. This transfer of wealth willtake place because the US cannot keep their fiscal house in order. Because Obama and his administration refuse to make the necessary cuts in spending. Hell,they won’t even pass a budget.

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  30. Nick Literski on September 4, 2012 at 11:14 AM

    #21:
    He quipped at one point — tellingly to the people likely in this forum, I think — that he didn’t mind losing his own money, but didn’t want to solicit investment from the church because he “didn’t want to go to hell.”

    Personally, I found Romney’s “Hell” joke odd, since LDS don’t believe in “Hell,” in any sense common to mainstream christianity.

    Do you find it implausible that religious people may find it an obligation they must obey to give time and money to succor others or expect to be judged for it before God?

    What I find plausible is that Romney is hiding from the American public his own solemn covenant to consecrate “everything with which he has been blessed, and everything with which he may be blessed” specifically to “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” With such an obligation, why should I be surprised or impressed by Romney’s stories about taking care of his own church members?

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  31. FireTag on September 4, 2012 at 5:07 PM

    Nick:

    Good points, but the difference between Mormon hell and mainstream Baptist hell, for example, is that hell in Mormonism gets divided into the “pit” and “outer darkness” The former is finite, proportional in painfulness to sins committed, and eventually leads to repentance and a reward and a separation infinite in degree and extent from that of those banished to outer darkness. I think Romney considered stealing from church to get one pretty deep in the pit.

    I also know a great many church members who still manage to screw up the lives of other church members with perfectly clear consciences, and I suspect from some of your past comments that you probably could think of many supporting examples. So, yeah, I’m impressed by people who sincerely live their religious beliefs even when my beliefs require me to oppose them.

    Of course, as much as it may annoy people, TBM’s actually want to convert everyone, so Romney wouldn’t see any contradiction between helping Mormons and the yet-to-be-converted Mormons. :D

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  32. FireTag on September 4, 2012 at 5:17 PM

    Will, I don’t think the change implied in your last paragraph would necessarily be proportional, but I get your basic point. Countries can go from 1.5% interest rates for 10-year bonds to 6-7% interest rates really fast if they lose safe haven status, and that can collapse living standards. There’s an NYT article on Real Clear Politics today indicating that the Spanish have had capital equal to several per cent of their GDP flee their country as thousands of the middle and upper middle classes (let alone the “rich”) flee to havens in Germany or Britain.

    That is the most serious threat to a country’s poor short of wars and plague — and the latter may not lag all that far behind.

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  33. Kullervo on September 4, 2012 at 7:56 PM

    (1) Will, you do understand that Congress has to pass a budget, not the President and his administration, right?

    (2) Remembers 2004, when many liberals were genuinely terrified that Bush planned to invoke national emergency powers to suspend elections and usher in a fascist, theocratic American imperial regime? This kind of nonsense is what happens when you get all of your input from a political echo chamber. We can thank the information age for letting us make ourselves ridiculous by only listening to what we want to hear.

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  34. Will on September 4, 2012 at 9:00 PM

    Kullervo

    Yes, but it has to actually get votes to pass. Obama’ budget received absolutely no votes. Not one vote. The Senate, which has been controlled every year by his own party, was defeated 99-0. Not one vote. That is real leadership, right?

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  35. FireTag on September 4, 2012 at 11:50 PM

    Kullervo and Will:

    More to the point, the Republican House has passed budgets. The Democratic SENATE has not.

    The 0 votes for Obama’s budget is part of an overall electoral strategy of the Dems wishing to avoid any responsibility of going on the record for ANY solution to the debt crisis. When your party assembles power by appealing to coalitions of narrowly identified individual interests, you don’t WANT much more than a working majority, because it makes it less profitable for each individual interest group to divide goodies up among more mouths.

    When the times are good, you can postpone internal conflicts; when they turn bad, you have to turn on other interest groups within your coalition and decide who gets tossed off the island. If you take a vote on the record and it’s your supporters who take it on the chin, your supporters take it out on you, so it’s always the other guys who did the dirty deed, and you never leave a paper (or today, video) trail if you can help it.

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