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Obama's Money Cartel

Pam Martens exposes the slimy underside of the campaign for "hope" and "change". Obama says lobbyists "haven't funded my campaign". A lie, Martens writes in this explosive issue of CounterPunch. Five top contributors to Obama are registered lobbyists and he fronts for the most vicious players on Wall Street. Read how he helped pass the law for which Big Business had been scheming for a decade. PLUS Alexander Cockburn on the adventures of an Indian sociologist in Chicago's Projects. PLUS an eyewitness report from Jack Brown on how Egyptians greeted the people of Gaza. PLUS the truth about John McCain: "war hero" and "maverick" or mean-spirited fraud? Get your copy today by subscribing online or calling 1-800-840-3683 Contributions to CounterPunch are tax-deductible. Click here to make a donation. If you find our site useful please: Subscribe Now! CounterPunch books and gear make great holiday presents.

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Today's Stories

February 29, 2008

Matt Gonzalez
The Obama Craze

February 28, 2008

Patrick Cockburn
"Iraq" Falls Apart

Fred Gardner
The Birth of NAFTA

Michael Levitin
The Crisis in Kosovo is Just Beginning

William S. Lind
The Fake State of Kosovo

David Macaray
A Ray of Hope for Organized Labor

Stephen Fleischman
Nader's Latest Run: Monkey Wrench or Cattle Prod?

George Wuerthner
The Myths of Forest Health: Why Ecological Logging is an Oxymoron

Laura Carlsen
The North American Union Farce

Carl Finamore
Why the Delta-Northwest Deal Hasn't Taken Off

Michael Dickinson
The Day I Bombed the House of Commons

Website of the Day
Plane Stupid


February 27, 2008

David Rosen
Playing the Race Card: Obama, Love Across the Color Line and Political Dirty Tricks

Vijay Prashad
Bomber John: McCain and the 100 Year War

Harvey Wasserman
Incident at Turkey Point: Did Florida Go to the Radioactive Brink?

Andy Worthington
Guantánamo's Shambolic Trials: Pentagon Boss Resigns, Ex-Prosecutor Joins Defense

Wajahat Ali
Pakistan for Sale: an Interview with Ayesha Siddiqa on Pakistan's Military Economy

Peter Morici
The Auction-Rate Securities Fiasco: a Drama of Greed and Betrayal

Stephen Philion
Conspiracy Theory, Fears of Betrayal and Today's Anti-War Movement

Michael Donnelly
Obama by Unanimous Decision

Erica Rosenberg /
Janine Blaeloch
After the Land Deals: Will There be Any Wilderness Left to Protect?

Website of the Day
Dress Blues


February 26, 2008

Debbie Nathan
Confessions of a Gitmo Guard

Alan Dershowitz
v. Frank Menetrez

On Finkelstein

Harvey Wasserman
How Ohio Got Nuked

Michael Colby
Ralph Nader vs. the Fundamentalist Liberals

Gary Leupp
Condi vs. Putin on Bullying Belgrade

David Orchard
The New Conquistadors: Canada in Afghanistan

Martha Rosenberg
The Big HRT

Fran Shor
The Electoral Circus and Nader's Sideshow

Serge Halimi
The Dom Perignon Socialist Manifesto: Bernard Henri-Levy's Plan for the French Left

Global Balkans
Neo-Liberalism and Protectorate States in the Post-Yugoslav Balkans: an Interview with Tariq Ali

Website of the Day


February 25, 2008

Roger Morris
A Death in Damascus

Anthony DiMaggio
Military Bases, the Media and the Democrats

Ralph Nader
Why I'm Running

Patrick Cockburn
Iraq Broils

Paul Craig Roberts
Kosovo and the Empire Crazies

Peter Morici
Bernanke's Failing Policies: a Long Recession Looms

Dave Lindorff
General Welch's Whitewash: What We Still Don't Know About That Minot Nuke Incident

Saul Landau /
Farrah Hassen

Fanatics, Mountebanks and Drillers: a Bloody Oil Film

Heather Gray
James Orange, Civil Rights Legend

Robert Weitzel
Accomodating Torture

John Halle
Kucinich Goes Down

Website of the Day
Do the Trunk Monkey!

February 23 / 4, 2008

Alexander Cockburn
The Mushrooming Clouds That Hang Over McCain

Paul Craig Roberts
Obama and Global Trade

Wajahat Ali
Omissions of the Commission: an Interview with Phillip Shenon on the 9/11 Commission

Ralph Nader
Neutering the FDA

Jürgen Vsych
"What Was Ralph Nader Thinking?"

Fidel Castro
Watching the US Presidential Campaign from Havana

Andy Worthington
Britain's Guantánamo

David Macaray
Unions Under Assault

Jeremy Scahill
The Real Story Behind Kosovo's Independence

David Krieger
Stanley Sheinbaum
Caging the Cold War Monster

Ron Jacobs
Building for the Future

Michael Garrity
The Last, Best Hope for the Northern Rockies

Brian McKenna
Higher Ed's "Civic Engagements" Get Dumbed Down

Missy Beattie
Over the Hill with John McCain

Fred Gardner
American College of Physicians Takes Pro-Cannabis Stand (Mostly)

Boris Kagarlitsky
The Growth of the Russian Labor Movement

Mike Ferner
Kick That Barrel

Dan Bacher
On the Trail with the Border Angels

Christopher Ketcham
Hillary Goes Where Obama Fears to Tread

Poets' Basement
Davies and Buknatski

Website of the Weekend
Obama Mariachi


February 22, 2008

Mike Whitney
The Bonfire of Capital

Jason Hribal
Elephants and the Circus: The Story of Janet

Liaquat Ali Khan
Arresting Musharraf

Joshua Frank
That Obama Glow: the Nuclear Industry's Golden Child

Dave Lindorff
Vicki's John: Ask Not What She Did for Him, Ask What He Did for Her!

Liliana Segura
When Torture is Old News: McCain's Blonde Diversion

Robert Fantina
Castro, Bush and Cuba: a Fiasco Waiting to Happen?

Yifat Susskind
The ABCs of Death: Bush vs. Africa's Women

Norm Kent
Pushing 60 with Pot

Website of the Day
Bush Gets Down in Liberia

February 21, 2008

Saul Landau
Fidel Steps Aside

Elizabeth Schulte
Left Behind, With No End in Sight: America's Long-Term Unemployed

Helen Redmond
Health Care as a Human Right

Benjamin Dangl
Undermining Bolivia

Michael Levitin
Kosovo's Dilemma

Liam Leonard
Fear and Loathing on the Emerald Isle

Patrick Irelan
Land and Food in Venezuela

Linn Cohen-Cole
Poor Ohio: a Second Letter to Hillary on Her Ties to Monsanto

Michael Simmons
Daydream Believer: John Stewart, the Miles Davis of Folk Music

CounterPunch News Service
A Message from the Women of Okinawa to US GIs

Website of the Day
Cop Abuse in Shreveport


February 20, 2008

Paul Craig Roberts
Lies and Spies

Paul Krassner
My Brief Encounter with Fidel Castro

Fawzia Afzal-Khan
The Pakistani Elections

Farzana Versey
The Great Dictator: Musharraf, Peace and the Autumn of the Patriarch

Allan Nairn
Dying for a Second Round: Israel's New Plan to Attack Lebanon

John V. Whitbeck
If Kosovo, Why Not Palestine?

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
A Balcony Seat to Our Own Balkanization?

Steve Eckardt
Cuba Sans Fidel: No News is Big News

Lee Sustar
Union-Busting at Freightliner

Mike Ferner
How Sick of It are You?

Website of the Day
The US Military Index


February 19, 2008

Uri Avnery
Blood and Champagne

Paul Craig Roberts
Paying Insurgents Not to Fight

Gary Leupp
The Independence of Kosovo

Fidel Castro
The Moment Has Come

David Macaray
Management's Dirty Little Secret

Reza Fiyouzat
Buck the Circus! The Left and the Elections

Valerie Morse
The New Zealand Terror Raids: Land of the Long White Lie

Walter Brasch
Bush on Safari

Website of the Day
Don't Think Twice, It's Alright


February 18, 2008

Wajahat Ali
Free Pakistan: an Interview with Imran Khan

Diana Johnstone
NATO's Kosovo Colony

Paul Craig Roberts
What Do We Stand For?

Andy Worthington
Gitmo: "We're Making This Up as We Go Along"

Debbie Nathan
Bernie Ward's Sex Tapes

Anthony DiMaggio
Following the Money Trail: the Democratic Party and the Business of Elections

Bill Simpich
Ten Years Ago, People Power Stopped Clinton in Iraq

Eva Liddell
A Short History of Super-Delegates: Hope, Yes! But Pay in Cash

Christopher Brauchli
The President Who Couldn't Keep His Word: Short-Changing Veterans

Stephen Soldz
Wikileaks is Under Attack!

Johann Rossouw
The Ouster of Thabo Mbeki: South Africa and the Costs of Neoliberalism

Website of the Day
Sick of It Day!


February 16 / 17, 2008

Alexander Cockburn
The Terrorists Still at Ground Zero, 7 World Trade Tower, Lower Manhattan

Ralph Nader
We the Corporations ...

David Macaray
The Big Buy Out: Did GM Drive Another Nail in Labor's Coffin?

William J. Peace
Wheelchair Dumping

Ron Jacobs
War on the Psyche: Shellshock and Redemption

Diane Christian
War Corrupts

Alan Maass
Oil, Blood and Greed: Taking Upton Sinclair to the Big Screen (and Beyond)

Ramzy Baroud
Iraq and the US Elections

Michael Donnelly
Genitalia First! Old Guard Feminists Play the XX Card

Cpt. Paul Watson
The Art of Finding Whalers

James L. Secor
China Diary: Spring Festival and New Year 2008

Eve Bachrach
Bush Returns to Africa

Nikolas Kozloff
Hugo Chávez's Anti-Imperialist Army

Stephen Gowans
Steven Spielberg, Faux-Humanitarian

Missy Beattie
To Vote or Not to Vote?

David Michael Green
Warming Slowly to Obama

Wajahat Ali
Attack of the Info-tainment Circus

Poets' Basement
Gibbons, Willson, Mickey Z., Orloski and Reuther

Website of the Day
Yellowstone's Bison Need Your Help--NOW!



February 15, 2008

George Szamuely
The Absurdity of "Independent" Kosovo

Patrick Cockburn
Ground-Truthing the Surge: Is the US Really Bringing Stability to Baghdad?

Wajahat Ali
Pakistan is Burning: an Interview with Steve Coll on the Taliban, Bin Laden and the Bush Administration

Mike Whitney
Henry Paulsen's Wild Ride on the Economic Hindenberg

Alan Farago
God and the Democrats

Chris Genovali
Alberta's Black Gold Rush

Jacob Hornberger
Courting Injustice: Scalia on Torture

Dave Lindorff
Snoops Always Ring Twice: Bush's Protect America Bill Bull

Website of the Day
Live From the Land of Hopes and Dreams



February 14, 2008

Kathleen and Bill Christison
Palestine in the Mind of America

Mike Whitney
Swan Song for NATO

Clancy Sigal
Strike Notes from a Screenwriter

George Wuerthner
A Bloody Sham: the Yellowstone Bison Slaughter

Peter Morici
Is Bernanke Headed for the Exit?

John Ross
Drug War Mayhem Boils Over from Border to Border

Allan Nairn
Mafia Rules in the Middle East: If You're Big Enough, You Can Whack Anyone

Rannie Amiri
Lebanon's Warmongers

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
The New Tractatus: Where Wittgenstein Meets Feinstein

Donna Volatile
Be Careful What You Vote For, You Just Might Get It

Seth Sandronsky
The Student Squeeze: Fighting California's Tuition Hikes

Website of the Day
Conventions: the Land Around Us


February 13, 2008

Nikolas Kozloff
Meet John McCain: Mr. Big Stick in Latin America

Alan Farago
Hell to Pay: Warren Buffett on the Goal Line

Christina Kasica
King's Dream Foreclosed: the Subprime Crisis in Black America

Vicente Navarro
How to Read the U.S. Primaries

Hall Greenland
Australia's Finest Hour

Lee Sustar
Strange Stimulation: Too Little for Those Who Need It Most

David Macaray
The Writers' Strike Finally Ends

Roderick Frazier Nash
Celebrating Wilderness

Patrick Irelan
Hugo Chávez and High Anxiety at the NYT

Anthony Papa
Mean Mister Mukasey: AG Tries to Block Crack Cocaine Releases

Carl Finamore
Another Parade Passes Me By: Don't Let Your Movement be Coopted by Politicians

Website of the Day
John He Is


February 12, 2008

Frank J. Menetrez
The Case Against Alan Dershowitz

Paul Craig Roberts
War Without End

Dr. Trudy Bond
The Elephant at Gitmo: Camp 7 and the Torturer's Shrink

Andy Worthington
The Guantánamo Six: Why Charge Them Now? What About the Torture?

Col. Dan Smith
The Psychology of Killing: Close In or Far Away?

Ronnie Cummins
Globalization: Standing at the End of the Road

Ralph Nader
Open the Government

John V. Walsh
Antiwarriors, Divided and Conquered

Dave Lindorff
Obama and Progressive Change: Let's Hope the Movement Transforms the Candidate

Michael Donnelly
Who's Pimping Whom? The Clintons' Selective No Talk Rules

Ron Jacobs
La Lucha Continua: Castro's "Life"

Ben Tripp
Beggars Collide

Website of the Day
Springsteen and Youngstown


February 11, 2008

Cockburn / St. Clair
Lessons for Obama: When is a Delegate Not a Delegate?

Wajahat Ali
A Discussion with Walt and Mearsheimer on the Israel Lobby

Ray McGovern
Waterboarding for God and Country

Allan Nairn
The Shooting of Jose Ramos Horta

Uri Avnery
An End Foreseen?

Chris Floyd
American Psycho: the Meaning of Mitt Romney's Exit Speech

Martha Rosenberg
School Lessons in a Lunchbox: Lunchmeat from Tortured Cows

Stephen Fleischman
The Bonnie and Clyde of American Politics

Marc Lamont Hill
Not My Brand of Hope

Liliana Segura
Obama and Torture: the Sounds of Silence and Equivocation

Peter Morici
Challenges for the New President

Christopher Brauchli
A Drug Rant from a Former Taker

Website of the Day
Annie vs. the Blue Angels


February 8 / 10, 2008

Paul Craig Roberts
Does the GOP Have Aces Up Its Sleeves?

Patrick Cockburn
Will Moqtada al-Sadr's Truce Hold?

Mike Whitney
The Great Bust of '08

Anthony DiMaggio
How the Press Covers Waterboarding

Andy Worthington
The Guántanamo Trials: Where are the Terrorists?

Linn Cohen-Cole
Hillary, Will You Renounce Your Ties to Monsanto?

Firmin DeBrabander
Notes from the Foreclosure Front: Suing Your Way to Solvency

Cpt. Paul Watson
The Other Whaling Industry: How Greenpeace Cashes In on the Suffering and Deaths of the Great Whales

Kenneth S. Pope
Why I Resigned from the American Psychological Association

Jacob G. Hornberger
American Soldiers Will Pay the Price for Bush's Torture Policy

Robert Bryce
Beyond Group Think on Climate Change: If More CO2 is Bad ... Then What?

P. Sainath
The Last of the Buccaneer Editors

Allan Nairn
Give Me Back My Land

Fred Gardner /
Pebbles Trippet

"The District Attorney of Shasta County Doesn't Know the Law!"

Andrew Wimmer
Growing Up Catholic: Ignorance is Death

Robert Fantina
America's Disgrace: the Case of Omar Khadr

David Michael Green
Partycide in Six Easy Steps: Watch the Democrats Destroy Themselves

Kevin Zeese
Is Dennis Kucinich Being McKinney'd?

Peter Morici
Wall Street Gives Bernacke a Vote of No Confidence

Chris Driscoll
Could Nader be the Come-Back Kid of 2008?

Prairie Miller
Black August: Bringing George Jackson's Life to the Screen

Poets Basement
Davies and Buknatski


February 7, 2008

Patrick Cockburn
Why Baghdad Will Explode Again

Bill Christison
Potholes Bigger Than Ever for Palestinians

David Anderson
NBC's "To Entrap" a Predator: Perverting Justice for the Sake of Ratings

Ron Jacobs
Innocent Flesh: Recruiting Kids to Kill

Nikolas Kozloff
Hugo Chávez's Coca: It's the Real Thing

Jane Rockefeller
The Moral Economy of an Anti-Poverty Foundation

Andy Worthington
On Waterboarding: Two Questions for Michael Hayden

Dave Zirin
Instep Intifada

Saul Landau
The "Honestest" Candidate Since Lincoln

Susie Day
Our Blob in the White House

Website of the Day
George Carlin on Voting


February 6, 2008

Cockburn / St. Clair
Super Tuesday's Vote for Chaos

Ben Rosenfeld
Informant Games: The Disturbing GreenScare Case of Briana Waters

Vijay Prashad
An Intellectual Hustler Lays It All Out

Joe Bageant
Nine Billion Little Feet on the Highway of the Damned

Michael Donnelly
What White Women Do In Private Voting Booths

Allan Nairn
Does the US Need a Civilizing Mayan Invasion?

Kathryn Gray
Wilderness on Edge: The Fate of Donner Summit

Ray McGovern
Powell's UN Fiasco

Sheldon Richman
The Whining Empire

Paul Cantor / Roger Sparks
A Presidential Aptitude Examination

John Chuckman
Political Bits and Pieces

Website of the Day
Save the Albatross

February 5, 2008

Winslow T. Wheeler
The Chaos in America's Vast Security Budget

Tariq Ali
Why I Will Not Participate in the Turin Book Fair

Stephen Soldz
The Secret Rules of Engagement in Iraq: Did Rumsfeld Authorize War Crimes?

Chris Floyd
Strange Fruit: America's Gulag and the Good War

William S. Lind
Saddam's Secret War Strategy: Die and Win

Martha Rosenberg
Live From the Killing Floor

Heather Gray
Conversations with Georgia Voters

Ayesha Ijaz Khan
Obama, Bhagwandas and the Battle for a Secular Politics

David Macaray
Unions Need to Stop Being So Nice

Eliza Ernshire
Making Music and Laughing Till the Tears Run

Brenda Norrell
Hated Nation

Website of the Day
The Things I Used to Do



February 4, 2008

Marc Levy
Winter in America

Patrick Cockburn
The Bird Market Bombings

Saree Makdisi
Strangling Gaza

Uri Avnery
From Stalingrad to Winograd

Alan Farago
Let's Get Bambi! Someone is Slaughtering Florida's Key Deer

Ben Tripp
Spare Change: the Whine of the Progressive Voter

Paul Wolf
Civil Wars North and South

Paul Craig Roberts
Why Were the 9/11 Tapes Destroyed?

Joshua Frank
MoveOn's Obama Endorsement: Why There's No Hope for Change

John Halle
Whither Progressive Democrats?

Website of the Day
How to Cheat in School


February 2 / 3, 2008

Alexander Cockburn
Hot Democratic Properties

Pam Martens
Bankers Gone Bonkers: Global Finance and the Insanity Defense

Ralph Nader
The Great Clinton-Obama Debate: Questions They Weren't Asked

John Ross
Hilaria vs. "El Moreno"

Wajahat Ali
Hillary, Obama and the Clash of Civilizations: an Interview with Imam Zaid Shakir

Robert Fantina
A Colony by Any Other Name: Iraq as Stepchild of the American Empire

B. R. Gowani
Not All Veils and Guns

James L. Secor
China in Winter: On the Western Edge of the Great Snow

John V. Walsh
The Invisible Green Primary

Niranjan Ramakrishnan
Barack's Bubble, Bubba's Trouble

Dave Zirin
Who Stole the Super Bowl's Soul?

Jeremy Scahill
Blackwater and Blood

Fidel Castro
Reflections on Lula

Joe Allen
Tet Reconsidered: the Turning Point in the Vietnam War

Stephen Lendman
Life in Occupied Gaza

Patrick Irelan
What Happened to the Streetcars?

Andrej Grubacic
Ziga Vodovnik
Caligula's Horse: the USA, New Europe and Kosovo

Josh Karpoff
Dead Soldiers and the Antiwar Movement

Ron Jacobs
Carl Oglesby's War

Paul Krassner
Tom Waits Meets Super-Joel

Website of the Weekend
Company Woman: Hillary and Wal-Mart


February 1, 2008

Ray McGovern
The Iniquities and Inequalities of War

Diane Farsetta
The Wild Career of James "Dow 36,000" Glassman

Patrick Cockburn
The Most Dangerous Country in the World for Journalists

Tariq Ali
Et Tu, New York Times?

Allan Nairn
Eating Dirt for Lunch in Haiti

Rannie Amiri
Collective Punishment in Beirut

Ramzy Baroud
People Power in Gaza: They Simply Did It

Kenneth Couesbouc
The Mother of All Snowballs

Peter Morici
Recession Looms

Mumia Abu-Jamal
Witha "Brutha" Like This: Bill Clinton as White Negro

Rosemary Jackowski
27 Reasons Nader Should Run for President

Scott Campbell
Direct Action to Stop the War Re-emerges

Website of the Day
Betes et Hommes


January 31, 2008

Saul Landau
Return to Afghanistan

Andy Worthington
Horror at Guantánamo

Mike Whitney
Rate Cut as Dagger: America's Teetering Banking System

Jeff Ballinger
Sustainability for Dictators Initiative? Clinton Praises the "Suharto of the Steppe"

Tiffany Ten Eyck
The Saga of the Freightliner Five

William Loren Katz
Waterboarding: Torure or Mystery?

Alan Farago
Why the Republicans are in Deep Trouble

Col. Dan Smith
Oh Say Can You See the 2009 Budget?

China Hand
Slouching Toward Islamabad

Dave Lindorff
The Usual Suspects Once Again

Wadner Pierre
Fake Democracy in Haiti

Website of the Day
One Big Union


January 30, 2008

Cockburn / St. Clair
McCain vs. Clinton?

Christopher Ketcham
The Genius of the Development Industrial-Complex

Robert Weissman
America By the Numbers: The Shameful State of the Union

Neve Gordon
An Experiment in Famine

Paul Craig Roberts
Regulation or Deregulation, Which is Worse?

Joanne Mariner
How Anti-Terror Laws Threaten Free Speech

David Macaray
Labor's Only Real Weapon

Liaquat Ali Khan
Is NATO Committing Genocide in Afghanistan?

Raymond J. Lawrence
Prankster-in-Chief: Bush's Troubling Non-Verbal Communication

Dan Bacher
The Collapse of the Central Valley Salmon

Website of the Day
Onward Through the Fog


January 29, 2008

Franklin C. Spinney
Bush's New War Budget: the $70 Billion Hand-Off

Mike Whitney
The Great Credit Unwind of 2008

Alan Farago
Buyer Beware: Florida, the Candidates and the Latin Builders Association

Patrick Cockburn
"The Americans Bring Us Only Destruction"

Gary Leupp
"We Can't Afford to Let Them Spill the Beans:" a Sibel Edmonds Timeline

R. F. Blader
A World Without Abortion: USA v. Romania

Ahmad Faruqui
Musharraf's Post-Electoral Prospect

Fran Shor
Obama, the Kennedys and "Change We Can Believe In"

Jeremy Scahill
Secret Trials and Criminal Convictions: the Ordeal of the Blackwater Protesters

Allan Nairn
Bush's SOTU: Entitlement, Justice and the War of All Against All

Website of the Day
The Ghost of Rambo


January 28, 2008

Patrick Cockburn
Return to Fallujah

Paul Craig Roberts
The End of American Liberty

Allan Nairn
The Breaking of the Gaza Wall

Eyad al-Sarraj / Sara Roy
Ending the Stranglehold on Gaza

Martha Rosenberg
Obit for the "Front Page" City

Corporate Crime Reporter
How They Rip Us Off

David Michael Green
Kristolizing Iraq: What a Great Freakin' War

Jennifer Van Bergen
What's Left?

Nancy Oden
Survival Tips for Hard Times

Divya Karnad
Saving India's Sea Turtles

James L. Secor
Pissed About Pistorious: Why the Olympics Needs a Gimp

Website of the Day
Yellow Journalism?





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February 29, 2008

Count Me Out

The Obama Craze


Part of me shares the enthusiasm for Barack Obama. After all, how could someone calling themself a progressive not sense the importance of what it means to have an African-American so close to the presidency? But as his campaign has unfolded, and I heard that we are not red states or blue states for the 6th or 7th time, I realized I knew virtually nothing about him.

Like most, I know he gave a stirring speech at the Democratic National Convention in 2004. I know he defeated Alan Keyes in the Illinois Senate race; although it wasn't much of a contest (Keyes was living in Maryland when he announced). Recently, I started looking into Obama's voting record, and I'm afraid to say I'm not just uninspired: I'm downright fearful. Here's why:

This is a candidate who says he's going to usher in change; that he is a different kind of politician who has the skills to get things done. He reminds us again and again that he had the foresight to oppose the war in Iraq. And he seems to have a genuine interest in lifting up the poor.

But his record suggests that he is incapable of ushering in any kind of change I'd like to see. It is one of accommodation and concession to the very political powers that we need to reign in and oppose if we are to make truly lasting advances.


Let's start with his signature position against the Iraq war. Obama has sent mixed messages at best.

First, he opposed the war in Iraq while in the Illinois state legislature. Once he was running for US Senate though, when public opinion and support for the war was at its highest, he was quoted in the July 27, 2004 Chicago Tribune as saying, "There's not that much difference between my position and George Bush's position at this stage.
The difference, in my mind, is who's in a position to execute." The Tribune went on to say that Obama, "now believes US forces must remain to stabilize the war-ravaged nation ­ a policy not dissimilar to the current approach of the Bush administration."

Obama's campaign says he was referring to the ongoing occupation and how best to stabilize the region. But why wouldn't he have taken the opportunity to urge withdrawal if he truly opposed the war? Was he trying to signal to conservative voters that he would subjugate his anti-war position if elected to the US Senate and perhaps support a lengthy occupation? Well as it turns out, he's done just that.

Since taking office in January 2005 he has voted to approve every war appropriation the Republicans have put forward, totaling over $300 billion. He also voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice as Secretary of State despite her complicity in the Bush Administration's various false justifications for going to war in Iraq. Why would he vote to make one of the architects of "Operation Iraqi Liberation" the head of US foreign policy? Curiously, he lacked the courage of 13 of his colleagues who voted against her confirmation.

And though he often cites his background as a civil rights lawyer, Obama voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act in July 2005, easily the worse attack on civil liberties in the last half-century. It allows for wholesale eavesdropping on American citizens under the guise of anti-terrorism efforts.

And in March 2006, Obama went out of his way to travel to Connecticut to campaign for Senator Joseph Lieberman who faced a tough challenge by anti-war candidate Ned Lamont. At a Democratic Party dinner attended by Lamont, Obama called Lieberman "his mentor" and urged those in attendance to vote and give financial contributions to him. This is the same Lieberman who Alexander Cockburn called "Bush's closest Democratic ally on the Iraq War." Why would Obama have done that if he was truly against the war?

Recently, with anti-war sentiment on the rise, Obama declared he will get our combat troops out of Iraq in 2009. But Obama isn't actually saying he wants to get all of our troops out of Iraq. At a September 2007 debate before the New Hampshire primary, moderated by Tim Russert, Obama refused to commit to getting our troops out of Iraq by January 2013 and, on the campaign trail, he has repeatedly stated his desire to add 100,000 combat troops to the military.

At the same event, Obama committed to keeping enough soldiers in Iraq to "carry out our counter-terrorism activities there" which includes "striking at al Qaeda in Iraq." What he didn't say is this continued warfare will require an estimated 60,000 troops to remain in Iraq according to a May 2006 report prepared by the Center for American Progress. Moreover, it appears he intends to "redeploy" the troops he takes out of the unpopular war in Iraq and send them to Afghanistan. So it appears that under Obama's plan the US will remain heavily engaged in war.

This is hardly a position to get excited about.


In 2005, Obama joined Republicans in passing a law dubiously called the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) that would shut down state courts as a venue to hear many class action lawsuits. Long a desired objective of large corporations and President George Bush, Obama in effect voted to deny redress in many of the courts where these kinds of cases have the best chance of surviving corporate legal challenges. Instead, it forces them into the backlogged Republican-judge dominated federal courts.

By contrast, Senators Clinton, Edwards and Kerry joined 23 others to vote against CAFA, noting the "reform" was a thinly-veiled "special interest extravaganza" that favored banking, creditors and other corporate interests. David Sirota, the former spokesman for Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee, commented on CAFA in the June 26, 2006 issue of The Nation, "Opposed by most major civil rights and consumer watchdog groups, this Big Business-backed legislation was sold to the public as a way to stop "frivolous" lawsuits. But everyone in Washington knew the bill's real objective was to protect corporate abusers."

Nation contributor Dan Zegart noted further: "On its face, the class-action bill is mere procedural tinkering, transferring from state to federal court actions involving more than $5 million where any plaintiff is from a different state from the defendant company. But federal courts are much more hostile to class actions than their state counterparts; such cases tend to be rooted in the finer points of state law, in which federal judges are reluctant to dabble. And even if federal judges do take on these suits, with only 678 of them on the bench (compared with 9,200 state judges), already overburdened dockets will grow. Thus, the bill will make class actions ­ most of which involve discrimination, consumer fraud and wage-and-hour violations ­ all but impossible. One example: After forty lawsuits were filed against Wal-Mart for allegedly forcing employees to work "off the clock," four state courts certified these suits as class actions. Not a single federal court did so, although the practice probably involves hundreds of thousands of employees nationwide."

Why would a civil rights lawyer knowingly make it harder for working-class people to have their day in court, in effect shutting off avenues of redress?


Obama has a way of ducking hard votes or explaining away his bad votes by trying to blame poorly-written statutes. Case in point: an amendment he voted on as part of a recent bankruptcy bill before the US Senate would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Inexplicably, Obama voted against it, although it would have been the beginning of setting these predatory lending rates under federal control. Even Senator Hillary Clinton supported it.

Now Obama explains his vote by saying the amendment was poorly written or set the ceiling too high. His explanation isn't credible as Obama offered no lower number as an alternative, and didn't put forward his own amendment clarifying whatever language he found objectionable.

Why wouldn't Obama have voted to create the first federal ceiling on predatory credit card interest rates, particularly as he calls himself a champion of the poor and middle classes? Perhaps he was signaling to the corporate establishment that they need not fear him. For all of his dynamic rhetoric about lifting up the masses, it seems Obama has little intention of doing anything concrete to reverse the cycle of poverty many struggle to overcome.


These seemingly unusual votes wherein Obama aligns himself with Republican Party interests aren't new. While in the Illinois Senate, Obama voted to limit the recovery that victims of medical malpractice could obtain through the courts. Capping non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases means a victim cannot fully recover for pain and suffering or for punitive damages. Moreover, it ignored that courts were already empowered to adjust awards when appropriate, and that the Illinois Supreme Court had previously ruled such limits on tort reform violated the state constitution.

In the US Senate, Obama continued interfering with patients' full recovery for tortious conduct. He was a sponsor of the National Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation Act of 2005. The bill requires hospitals to disclose errors to patients and has a mechanism whereby disclosure, coupled with apologies, is rewarded by limiting patients' economic recovery. Rather than simply mandating disclosure, Obama's solution is to trade what should be mandated for something that should never be given away: namely, full recovery for the injured patient.


In November 2007, Obama came out against a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872. The current statute, signed into law by Ulysses Grant, allows mining companies to pay a nominal fee, as little as $2.50 an acre, to mine for hardrock minerals like gold, silver, and copper without paying royalties. Yearly profits for mining hardrock on public lands is estimated to be in excess of $1 billion a year according to Earthworks, a group that monitors the industry. Not surprisingly, the industry spends freely when it comes to lobbying: an estimated $60 million between 1998-2004 according to The Center on Public Integrity. And it appears to be paying off, yet again.

The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007 would have finally overhauled the law and allowed American taxpayers to reap part of the royalties (4 percent of gross revenue on existing mining operations and 8 percent on new ones). The bill provided a revenue source to cleanup abandoned hardrock mines, which is likely to cost taxpayers over $50 million, and addressed health and safety concerns in the 11 affected western states.

Later it came to light that one of Obama's key advisors in Nevada is a Nevada-based lobbyist in the employ of various mining companies (CBS News "Obama's Position On Mining Law Questioned. Democrat Shares Position with Mining Executives Who Employ Lobbyist Advising Him," November 14, 2007).


The New York Times reported that, while campaigning in Iowa in December 2007, Obama boasted that he had passed a bill requiring nuclear plants to promptly report radioactive leaks. This came after residents of his home state of Illinois complained they were not told of leaks that occurred at a nuclear plant operated by Exelon Corporation.

The truth, however, was that Obama allowed the bill to be amended in Committee by Senate Republicans, replacing language mandating reporting with verbiage that merely offered guidance to regulators on how to address unreported leaks. The story noted that even this version of Obama's bill failed to pass the Senate, so it was unclear why Obama was claiming to have passed the legislation. The February 3, 2008 The New York Times article titled "Nuclear Leaks and Response Tested Obama in Senate" by Mike McIntire also noted the opinion of one of Obama's constituents, which was hardly enthusiastic about Obama's legislative efforts:

"Senator Obama's staff was sending us copies of the bill to review, and we could see it weakening with each successive draft," said Joe Cosgrove, a park district director in Will County, Ill., where low-level radioactive runoff had turned up in groundwater. "The teeth were just taken out of it."

As it turns out, the New York Times story noted: "Since 2003, executives and employees of Exelon, which is based in Illinois, have contributed at least $227,000 to Mr. Obama's campaigns for the United States Senate and for president. Two top Exelon officials, Frank M. Clark, executive vice president, and John W. Rogers Jr., a director, are among his largest fund-raisers."


On energy policy, it turns out Obama is a big supporter of corn-based ethanol which is well known for being an energy-intensive crop to grow. It is estimated that seven barrels of oil are required to produce eight barrels of corn ethanol, according to research by the Cato Institute. Ethanol's impact on climate change is nominal and isn't "green" according to Alisa Gravitz, Co-op America executive director. "It simply isn't a major improvement over gasoline when it comes to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions." A 2006 University of Minnesota study by Jason Hill and David Tilman, and an earlier study published in BioScience in 2005, concur. (There's even concern that a reliance on corn-based ethanol would lead to higher food prices.)

So why would Obama be touting this as a solution to our oil dependency? Could it have something to do with the fact that the first presidential primary is located in Iowa, corn capital of the country? In legislative terms this means Obama voted in favor of $8 billion worth of corn subsidies in 2006 alone, when most of that money should have been committed to alternative energy sources such as solar, tidal and wind.


Obama opposed single-payer bill HR676, sponsored by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers in 2006, although at least 75 members of Congress supported it. Single-payer works by trying to diminish the administrative costs that comprise somewhere around one-third of every health care dollar spent, by eliminating the duplicative nature of these services. The expected $300 billion in annual savings such a system would produce would go directly to cover the uninsured and expand coverage to those who already have insurance, according to Dr. Stephanie Woolhandler, an Associate Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and co-founder of Physicians for a National Health Program.

Obama's own plan has been widely criticized for leaving health care industry administrative costs in place and for allowing millions of people to remain uninsured. "Sicko" filmmaker Michael Moore ridiculed it saying, "Obama wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan-the same companies who have created the mess in the first place."


Regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement, Obama recently boasted, "I don't think NAFTA has been good for Americans, and I never have." Yet, Calvin Woodward reviewed Obama's record on NAFTA in a February 26, 2008 Associated Press article and found that comment to be misleading: "In his 2004 Senate campaign, Obama said the US should pursue more deals such as NAFTA, and argued more broadly that his opponent's call for tariffs would spark a trade war. AP reported then that the Illinois senator had spoken of enormous benefits having accrued to his state from NAFTA, while adding that he also called for more aggressive trade protections for US workers."

Putting aside campaign rhetoric, when actually given an opportunity to protect workers from unfair trade agreements, Obama cast the deciding vote against an amendment to a September 2005 Commerce Appropriations Bill, proposed by North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, that would have prohibited US trade negotiators from weakening US laws that provide safeguards from unfair foreign trade practices. The bill would have been a vital tool to combat the outsourcing of jobs to foreign workers and would have ended a common corporate practice known as "pole-vaulting" over regulations, which allows companies doing foreign business to avoid "right to organize," "minimum wage," and other worker protections.


On March 2, 2007 Obama gave a speech at AIPAC, America's pro-Israeli government lobby, wherein he disavowed his previous support for the plight of the Palestinians. In what appears to be a troubling pattern, Obama told his audience what they wanted to hear. He recounted a one-sided history of the region and called for continued military support for Israel, rather than taking the opportunity to promote the various peace movements in and outside of Israel.

Why should we believe Obama has courage to bring about change? He wouldn't have his picture taken with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom when visiting San Francisco for a fundraiser in his honor because Obama was scared voters might think he supports gay marriage (Newsom acknowledged this to Reuters on January 26, 2007 and former Mayor Willie Brown admitted to the San Francisco Chronicle on February 5, 2008 that Obama told him he wanted to avoid Newsom for that reason.)

Obama acknowledges the disproportionate impact the death penalty has on blacks, but still supports it, while other politicians are fighting to stop it. (On December 17, 2007 New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine signed a bill banning the death penalty after it was passed by the New Jersey Assembly.)

On September 29, 2006, Obama joined Republicans in voting to build 700 miles of double fencing on the Mexican border (The Secure Fence Act of 2006), abandoning 19 of his colleagues who had the courage to oppose it. But now that he's campaigning in Texas and eager to win over Mexican-American voters, he says he'd employ a different border solution.

It is shocking how frequently and consistently Obama is willing to subjugate good decision making for his personal and political benefit.

Obama aggressively opposed initiating impeachment proceedings against the president ("Obama: Impeachment is not acceptable," USA Today, June 28, 2007) and he wouldn't even support Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's effort to censure the Bush administration for illegally wiretapping American citizens in violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. In Feingold's words "I'm amazed at Democrats cowering with this president's number's so low." Once again, it's troubling that Obama would take these positions and miss the opportunity to document the abuses of the Bush regime.


Once I started looking at the votes Obama actually cast, I began to hear his rhetoric differently. The principal conclusion I draw about "change" and Barack Obama is that Obama needs to change his voting habits and stop pandering to win votes. If he does this he might someday make a decent candidate who could earn my support. For now Obama has fallen into a dangerous pattern of capitulation that he cannot reconcile with his growing popularity as an agent of change.

I remain impressed by the enthusiasm generated by Obama's style and skill as an orator. But I remain more loyal to my values, and I'm glad to say that I want no part in the Obama craze sweeping our country.

Matt Gonzalez is a former president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and is running on Nader's ticket as a vice presidential candidate.

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