Saturday, September 8, 2012

'2016: Obama's America' Fact-Check

By BETH FOUHY 08/28/12 01:53 PM ET AP

2016 Obamas America
WASHINGTON — "2016: Obama's America," a new conservative film exploring the roots of President Barack Obama's political views, took in $6.2 million to make it one of the highest-grossing movies of last weekend. The film, written and narrated by conservative scholar Dinesh D'Souza, argues that Obama was heavily influenced by what D'Souza calls the "anti-colonial" beliefs of his father, Barack Obama Sr., a Kenyan academic who was largely absent from the president's life.
To document that claim, D'Souza travels to Kenya to interview members of Obama's extended family as well as to Hawaii and Indonesia, where Obama grew up. He also cites several actions and policy positions Obama has taken to support the thesis that Obama is ideologically rooted in the Third World and harbors contempt for the country that elected him its first black president.
The assertion that Obama's presidency is an expression of his father's political beliefs, which D'Souza first made in 2010 in his book "The Roots of Obama's Rage," is almost entirely subjective and a logical stretch at best.
It's true that Obama's father lived most of his life in Kenya, an African nation once colonized by the British, and that Obama's reverence for his absent father frames his best-selling memoir. D'Souza even sees clues in the book's title: "Notice it says `Dreams From My Father,' not `of' my father," D'Souza says.
But it's difficult to see how Obama's political leanings could have been so directly shaped by his father, as D'Souza claims. The elder Obama left his wife and young son, the future president, when Obama was 2 and visited his son only once, when Obama was 10. But D'Souza portrays that loss as an event that reinforced rather than weakened the president's ties to his father, who died in an automobile accident when Obama was in college.
D'Souza interviews Paul Vitz, a New York University psychologist who has studied the impact of absent fathers on children. In Obama's case, Vitz says, the abandonment meant "he has the tension between the Americanism and his Africanism. He himself is an intersection of major political forces in his own psychology."
From there, the evidence D'Souza uses to support his assertion starts to grow thin.
D'Souza says Obama's mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, shared his father's left-leaning views. After living in Indonesia for several years, D'Souza said, Dunham sent the younger Obama to live with his grandparents in Hawaii so he would not be influenced by her second husband, Lolo Soetoro, an Indonesian who worked for American oil companies and fought communists as a member of the Indonesian army.
"Ann separates Barry from Lolo's growing pro-Western influence," D'Souza says in the film. Obama has said his mother had sent him back to Hawaii so he would be educated in the United States.
In Hawaii, D'Souza asserts with no evidence that Obama sympathized with native Hawaiians who felt they had been marginalized by the American government when Hawaii was becoming a state. D'Souza also asserts again with no evidence that Obama had been coached to hold those views at Punahou, the prestigious prep school he attended.
"Oppression studies, if you will. Obama got plenty of that when he was here in Punahou," D'Souza says, standing on the campus in Honolulu.
In Kenya, D'Souza interviews Philip Ochieng, a lifelong friend of the president's father, who claims the elder Obama was "totally anti-colonial." Ochieng also discloses some of his own political views, complaining about U.S. policy in Afghanistan and Iraq and saying the U.S. refuses to "tame" Israel, which he calls a "Trojan horse in the Middle East." D'Souza seems to suggest that if a onetime friend of Obama's late father holds those opinions, so, too, must the president himself.
D'Souza then goes through a list of actions Obama has taken as president to support his thesis. Many of them don't hold water:

  • _ D'Souza rightly argues that the national debt has risen to $16 trillion under Obama. But he never mentions the explosion of debt that occurred under Obama's predecessor, Republican George W. Bush, nor the 2008 global financial crisis that provoked a shock to the U.S. economy.
  • _ D'Souza says Obama is "weirdly sympathetic to Muslim jihadists" in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He does not mention that Obama ordered the raid that killed Osama bin Laden and the drone strikes that have killed dozens of other terrorists in the region.
  • _D'Souza wrongly claims that Obama wants to return control of the Falkland Islands from Britain to Argentina. The U.S. refused in April to endorse a final declaration on Argentina's claim to the islands at the Summit of the Americas, provoking criticism from other Latin American nations.
  • _D'Souza says Obama has "done nothing" to impede Iran's nuclear ambitions, despite the severe trade and economic sanctions his administration has imposed on that country to halt its suspected nuclear program. Obama opposes a near-term military strike on Iran, either by the U.S. or Israel, although he says the U.S. will never tolerate a nuclear-armed Iran.
  • _ D'Souza says Obama removed a bust of British Prime Minister Winston Churchill from the Oval Office because Churchill represented British colonialism. White House curator William Allman said the bust, which had been on loan, was already scheduled to be returned before Obama took office. Another bust of Churchill is on display in the president's private residence, the White House says.

Obama 2016 movie review

FRI AUG 24, 2012 AT 09:31 PM PDT
A Republican offered a liberal a ticket...the liberal renegotiated for a drink and a popcorn.  The Republican said "okay" and I went to see 2016: Obama's Evil (possibly incorrect title).
My republican co-worker has been talking about this movie (which he hasn't seen yet...beside the point I guess) and said I should go see it because it would "open my eyes to Obama".
Obviously my friend will be disappointed when he sees it.  First off D'Souza (known in this diary as "DD") gave the impression that Obama was born in Hawaii.  No audible boos or sighs from the audience, but maybe the audience was asleep?   But there was still plenty of conspiracy theory and intrigue.  But back to the start of this movie/smear.
The film starts with some exposition from DD about how DD is like Obama because DD was born in India and Obama is the son of a guy he barely knew who was born in Kenya.  Totally the same!  
Seriously DD was also born in the same year, graduated college in the same year, was Ivy League, and married in the same years.  They're practically brothers.  Except DD loves America while Obama hates America.  Random dot connecting followed.  I liked the film up until this point as I do find it inspiring that D'Souza and Obama were able to rise to great heights in America from humble beginnings.  But the film was all downhill after about ten minutes.
The basic point of the film was that DD was going to construct Obama's worldview from the viewpoints of people Obama knew.  The most important worldview according to DD was Obama's dad, from whom Obama's anti colonialism stems.  Obama was also effected by various other mentors and professors.  Imagine that, a college professor influencing his students.  Anyway Obama isn't a Muslim according to DD.  Not going to rehash every point since a lot of the conspiracy theories about Obama and his "League of Conspiratory Gentlemen" is well known.
What he is, according to DD, is (in so many words) an anti-American anti-colonial who wants to redistribute the wealth of America to the third world.  He also wants to bankrupt America for revenge...for something.  He also wants to weaken the American military.  DD ignores that American defense spending continued to grow under Obama and instead focused on the reduction in nuclear arms under the New START treaty of 2010 from 5,000 to 1,500 nuclear weapons.  
DD did what he did throughout the film by ignoring the numerous other nuclear reduction treaties the US has entered.  But half truths are what this film is constructed from.  
The budget deficits are a major tong in the trident DD tries to stick Obama with (besides anti-colonial redistribution of wealth and the weakening of the American military).  DD ignores the recession and the Bush tax cuts which are major reasons the deficit exploded.  
That's a brief review, I'm tired and couldn't take through notes since I saw the film in the theater.  DD also brought up that stupid Winston Churchill bust as evidence of Obama's anti colonialism.  Other tropes, including walking stupid Daniel Pipes, were evident throughout the film.  Dog-whistles were subtle as DD tried to maintain some semblance of neutrality and journalistic rigor but he was largely failed to keep his bias out of his documentary.
Otherwise the film should be noted for the extremely melodramatic nature.  I half expected Young-Obama-actor to cut his hand and swear a blood oath at the foot of his father's grave in Kenya.   The true villain in my opinion were colonial exploiters, both British and American.  The dark parts of American history such as the annexation of Hawaii against the native's will were the most interesting and compelling parts for me.  Perhaps Native Americans would say the same if they weren't, you know, mostly dead and assimilated.    The real heart of the film for me wasn't the right-wing pundits DD lined up to attack Obama but African men, especially Obama's half-brother George, talking about colonial oppression.  
George provided perhaps the best conservative opinion I've seen articulated.  When DD tried to get George to say something bad because Obama wouldn't help him out of poverty, George replied "he has a family of his own.  I'm a grown man and can care for myself" [paraphrasing].  No complaint, just he would handle his business.  Obama has more important things to do.  
Most people will have more important things to do than see this film.  It is as advertised.  An Obama attack piece which trots out every negative trope short of birtherism.  It will confirm for Republicans that Obama is an evil anti-American intent on undoing American from the bastion of American power.  Democrats will confirm that Dinesh D'Souza is a conservative.

'2016: Obama's America': What the Critics Are Saying

Video: Watch Thursday night's DNC speeches
The NBC Politics team has compiled speech highlights from the final evening of the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
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President Barack Obama accepts the Democratic presidential nomination and addresses the DNC, Thursday, in Charlotte, N.C.

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Vice President Joe Biden delivers his speech to the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., slams Mitt Romney's actions while traveling abroad and criticized the GOP presidential nominee for failing to acknowledge U.S. troops at the RNC.

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Former Florida Governor Charlie Crist tells the DNC, Thursday, that President Obama will "heal" 'America.

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Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer addresses the DNC, Thursday, in Charlotte, N.C.

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Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm delivers a fiery speech at the Democratic National Convention crediting President Obama with rescuing the auto industry.

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Caroline Kennedy explains to the DNC why she feels this November's presidential election is vital to the future of America.

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Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords leads delegates in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina.

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Rep. James Clyburn, D-S.C., addresses the DNC, Thursday, explaining that President Obama has made good on many of the promises he made four years ago.
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Rep. John Lewis, D-Ga., delivers an emotional speech Thursday, at the DNC.

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Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., jokes to the DNC crowd that "Myth" Romney would have made a better governor than Mitt Romney


Published on Sep 5, 2012 by 
Randy Johnson, Cindy Hewitt, and David Foster, former employees at companies controlled by Romney's Bain Capital, spoke to the Democratic National Convention Wednesday night.

Published on Aug 31, 2012 by 
Watch as the Time Warner Cable Arena in Charlotte, North Carolina, transforms from a sports venue into a world-class convention hall. The arena will host the 2012 Democratic National Convention from September 4-6 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Veteran Nate Davis at the 2012 Democratic National Convention

Hispanic Ads for President Obama

Published on Aug 2, 2012 by 
Spanish TV queen Cristina Saralegui tapes a second TV ad for Barack Obama in the campaign'. Saralegui, considered the Latina version of Oprah, appears with a much more assertive attitude toward the incumbent's critics.

Published on Jul 2, 2012 by 
2012 Obama Campaign Spanish language web ad announcing the support of Journalist Cristina Saralegui for the Obama reelection campaign

Published on Apr 18, 2012 by 
2012 Obama Spanish language campaign ad featuring a campaign worker in Denver, Colorado, announcing that the campaign is being launched and inviting viewers to "join us from the beginning" to "build the Obama campaign in 2012 from the start."

Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland gives DNC dose of Midwest humor

Posted: 09/04/2012
Last Updated: 23 hours and 17 minutes ago
By: Sally Buzbee

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland is channeling Midwestern populism and heaping on some humor as he lays out the Democrats' "case against Romney."
"If Mitt was Santa Claus, he'd fire the reindeer and outsource the elves," Strickland said in one of a series of sharp quips aimed at the Republican nominee for president.
Strickland argues that Americans shouldn't trust the former Massachusetts governor -- a multimillionaire private equity firm founder -- because Romney has held some of his investments in overseas accounts and refuses to release all of his tax returns.
"Mitt Romney has so little economic patriotism that even his money needs a passport. It summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps," Strickland said.
He said any person who aspires to be president "should keep both his treasure and his heart in the United States of America."
Polls indicate that many voters feel Romney does not understand their day-to-day financial problems.

Jerusalem And God Vote Gets Booed At Dem Convention

Delegates and members of the Democratic party booed after former Gov. Ted Strickland (D-OH) discussed God and moved to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Convention chairman Antonio Villaraigosa, mayor of Los Angeles, had to ask for the Yea and Nay vote several times before declaring the motion passed.

C-SPAN cameras captured the dissatisfaction among members after the motion passed.

More information from the Associated Press:

Democrats have changed their convention platform to add a mention of God and declare that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel.

The move came after criticism from Republicans.

Many in the audience booed after the convention chairman, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, ruled that the amendments had been approved despite the fact that a large group of delegates objected.

He called for a vote three times before ruling.

The party reinstated language from the 2008 platform that said "we need a government that stands up for the hopes, values and interests of working people and gives everyone willing to work hard the chance to make the most of their God-given potential."

The platform also now includes what advisers said was Obama's personal views on Jerusalem.

Arctic sea ice falls below 4 million square kilometers

Following the new record low recorded on August 26, Arctic sea ice extent continued to drop and is now below 4.00 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles). Compared to September conditions in the 1980s and 1990s, this represents a 45% reduction in the area of the Arctic covered by sea ice. At least one more week likely remains in the melt season.

Overview of conditions

Figure 1. Arctic sea ice extent for August 2012 was 4.72 million square kilometers (1.82 million square miles). The magenta line shows the 1979 to 2000 median extent for that month. The black cross indicates the geographic North Pole. Sea Ice Index data. About the data

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image
Throughout the month of August, Arctic sea ice extent tracked below levels observed in 2007, leading to a new record low for the month of 4.72 million square kilometers (1.82 million square miles), as assessed over the period of satellite observations,1979 to present. Extent was unusually low for all sectors of the Arctic, except the East Greenland Sea where the ice edge remained near its normal position. On August 26, the 5-day running average for ice extent dropped below the previous record low daily extent, observed on September 18, 2007, of 4.17 million square kilometers (1.61 million square miles). By the end of the month, daily extent had dropped below 4.00 million square kilometers (1.54 million square miles). Typically, the melt season ends around the second week in September. 

Conditions in context

Figure 2. The graph above shows Arctic sea ice extent as of September 3, 2012, along with daily ice extent data for the previous five years. 2012 is shown in blue, 2011 in orange, 2010 in pink, 2009 in navy, 2008 in purple, and 2007 in green. The 1979 to 2000 average is in dark gray. The gray area around this average line shows the two standard deviation range of the data. Sea Ice Index data.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image
In 2012, the rate of ice loss for August was 91,700 square kilometers (35,400 square miles) per day, the fastest observed for the month of August over the period of satellite observations. In August 2007, ice was lost at a rate of 66,000 square kilometers (25,400 square miles) per day, and in 2008, the year with the previous highest August ice loss, the rate was 80,600 square kilometers (31,100 square miles) per day. The average ice loss for August is 55,100 square kilometers (21,300 square miles) per day. This rapid pace of ice loss in 2012 was dominated by large losses in the East Siberian and the Chukchi seas, likely caused in part by the strong cyclone that entered the region earlier in the month and helped to break up the ice. However, even after the cyclone had dissipated, ice loss continued at a rate of 77,800 square kilometers (30,000 square miles) per day.
August air temperatures at the 925 hPa level (approximately 3,000 feet above the surface) remained slightly above average (1 to 3 degrees Celsius, or 2 to 5 degrees Fahrenheit) over the much of the Pacific sector of the Arctic Ocean as well as at its central sector, with slightly higher temperatures in the Beaufort Sea (approximately 4 degrees Celsius, or 7 degrees Fahrenheit above average). On the Atlantic side, the Kara and Barents seas continued to have air temperatures around 1 to 4 degrees Celsius (2 to 7 degrees Fahrenheit) below average.
At the end of August, ice remained in the Western Parry Channel, and neither the northern or southern routes of the Northwest Passage were open. While much of the ice has cleared out, ice still remains, as confirmed by our colleague Steve Howell at the Canadian Ice Service. In the latter half of August, more ice actually moved into the passage routes when ice was pushed down into the channels from the north. Whether that ice will clear out remains to be seen.

August 2012 compared to previous years

Figure 3. Monthly August ice extent for 1979 to 2012 shows a decline of 10.2% per decade.

Credit: National Snow and Ice Data Center
High-resolution image
The monthly averaged ice extent for August was 4.72 million square kilometers (1.82 square miles). This is 2.94 million square kilometers (1.14 million square miles) below the 1979 to 2000 average extent, and 640,000 square kilometers (247,000 square miles) below the previous record low for August set in 2007. Including 2012, the August trend is -78,100 square kilometers (-30,200 square miles) per year, or -10.2 % per decade relative to the 1979 to 2000 average.

Evolution of sea surface temperatures in August

Figure 4. A buoy deployed on August 8, 2012 in open water during the storm initially shows a very warm 10-meter (33-foot) thick surface mixed layer (upper left image). On August 12 (upper right image), the buoy enters a relatively cooler patch, gradually warms, enters another cool patch 12 days later (bottom left image), and then starts to warm again through August 26 (bottom right image). Red, orange, and yellow indicate higher temperatures, while blues and purples indicate lower temperatures.

Credit: University of Washington Polar Science Center
High-resolution image
In recent summers, Arctic Ocean sea surface temperatures (SSTs) have been anomalously high (see our 2010 and 2011 end-of-summer posts), in part linked to loss of the reflective ice cover that allows darker open water areas to readily absorb solar radiation and warm the mixed layer of the ocean. According to Mike Steele, Wendy Ermold and Ignatius Rigor of the University of Washington, SSTs in the Beaufort, Chukchi, and Laptev seas were once again anomalously high before the strong cyclone (mentioned earlier and discussed in our previous post) entered the East Siberian and Chukchi seas on August 5, 2012. SSTs were as much as 5 degrees Celsius (9 degrees Fahrenheit) above normal along the coastal areas in those seas. After the storm, the warm water that developed through summer was interspersed with large areas of cold water created by ice melt. By the third week of August, sea surface temperatures were mostly back to levels observed before the storm, but with a few more patches of colder water interspersed from additional ice melt.
A closer view of the variation in SSTs before and after the storm is recorded in the University of Washington Polar Science Center UpTempO buoy data. A buoy deployed on August 8, 2012 in open water during the storm initially shows a very warm 10-meter (33-foot) thick surface mixed layer, likely the result of solar heating. On August 12, the buoy enters a relatively cooler patch, gradually warms, enters another cool patch 12 days later and then starts to warm again through August 26. These patches of cooler water may be a result of ice melt and/or the impact of advection from the storm.

Old ice continues to decline

Figure 5. These images from March 2012 (left) and August 2012 (right) show the age of the ice cover in spring and at the end of summer. Much of the Arctic ice cover now consists of first-year ice (shown in purple), which tends to melt rapidly in summer’s warmth. However, the oldest ice, that had survived five or more summers (shown in white), declined by 51%.

Credit: M. Tschudi and J. Maslanik, University of Colorado Boulder
High-resolution image
Ice age is an important indicator of the health of the ice cover. Old ice, also called multiyear ice, tends to be thicker ice and less prone to melting out in summer. The last few summers have seen increased losses of multiyear ice in the Pacific sector of the Arctic; multiyear ice that is transported into the Beaufort and Chukchi seas tends to melt out in summer before being transported back to the central Arctic Ocean through the clockwise Beaufort Gyre circulation. This summer, the tongue of multiyear ice along the Alaska coast mostly melted out by the end of August, with a small remnant left in the Chukchi Sea. The ice on the Pacific side of the Arctic has melted back to the edge of the multiyear ice cover, which should help to slow further ice loss in the region. In the Laptev Sea, by contrast, a large amount of first-year ice remains. In the last two weeks, open water areas have developed within the first-year ice in the Laptev Sea, helping to further foster melt in that region.
Between mid-March and the third week of August, the total amount of multiyear ice within the Arctic Ocean declined by 33%, and the oldest ice, ice older than five years, declined by 51%.

Further reading

Kwok, R., and G. F. Cunningham. 2010. Contribution of melt in the Beaufort Sea to the decline in Arctic multiyear sea ice coverage: 1993–2009. Geophys. Res. Lett., 37, L20501, doi:10.1029/2010GL044678.
Maslanik, J.A., C. Fowler, J. Stroeve, and W. Emery. 2011. Distribution and trends in Arctic sea ice age through spring 2011. Geophys. Res. Lett., 38, L13502, doi:10.1029/2011GL047735.

VIDEO: Animation generated using data from ESA’s CryoSat satellite reveals changes in Arctic sea-ice thickness between October 2010 and March 2011.