Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Transcript: ABC News Interview of Barack Obama (6-16-08)

Read the entire transcript. Some excerpts below:

TAPPER: You talked about the need to change the status quo in education today.

OBAMA: Right.

TAPPER: But one of the ways that proponents of school choice say that the best way to change the status quo is to give parents, inner-city parents a choice. Why not?

OBAMA: Well, the problem is, is that, you know, although it might benefit some kids at the top, what you're going to do is leave a lot of kids at the bottom. We don't have enough slots for every child to go into a parochial school or a private school. And what you would see is a huge drain of resources out of the public schools.

So what I've said is let's foster competition within the public school system. Let's make sure that charter schools are up and running. Let's make sure that kids who are in failing schools, in local school districts, have an option to go to schools that are doing well.

But what I don't want to do is to see a diminished commitment to the public schools to the point where all we have are the hardest-to-teach kids with the least involved parents with the most disabilities in the public schools. That's going to make things worse, and we're going to lose the commitment to public schools that I think have been so important to building this country.

TAPPER: So it would help some kids, but overall it would be bad for the system?

OBAMA: I think it would be overall bad for most kids.

On National security:
TAPPER: Speaking of the Supreme Court, you applauded the decision that the Supreme Court made last week. The Bush administration says, no matter what people think about other programs, other policies they've initiated, there has not been a terrorist attack within the U.S. since 9/11. And they say the reason that is, is because of the domestic programs, many of which you opposed, the NSA surveillance program, Guantanamo Bay, and other programs.

How do you know that they're wrong? It's not possible that they're right?

OBAMA: Well, keep in mind I haven't opposed, for example, the national security surveillance program, the NSA program. What I've said that we can do it within the constraints of our civil liberties and our Constitution.

Obama opposes same sex marriage. Which is a courageous stand to take within in the Democatic Party:
TAPPER: OK, last one, and that is same-sex marriage is now going on in California.

OBAMA: Right.

TAPPER: You oppose same-sex marriage.


TAPPER: Do you think that the fact that this is now going on in California, does that cause you to re-think your pledge to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act?

OBAMA: No. I still think that these are decisions that need to be made at a state and local level. I'm a strong supporter of civil unions. And I think that, you know, we're involved in a national conversation about this issue.

You know, I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, but I also think that same-sex partners should be able to visit each other in hospitals, they should be able to transfer property, they should be able to get the same federal rights and benefits that are conferred onto married couples.

And so, you know, as president, my job is to make sure that the federal government is not discriminating and that we maintain the federal government's historic role in not meddling with what states are doing when it comes to marriage law. That's what I'll do as president.

TAPPER: Does it bother you, what California's doing?


Pew Survey: What the World Thinks of the US

The Bush disaster might've done irreparably damage to the image of the United States worldwide:

This year's edition of the Pew Global Attitudes Project — a worldwide survey that has been around since 2002 — polled more than 24,000 people in 24 nations on a wide swath of topics, from their opinions on Iran and its nuclear program to which nation they think is doing the most damage to the environment (answer: We are. Also China.). Many of the report's conclusions are fairly obvious — the majority of countries surveyed describe their economic conditions as bad, and many citizens in Muslim nations consider America to be their enemy.

First, the important question — what does the world think of America? For the first time since the commencement of the Iraq War, there was a slight uptick in favorable attitudes towards the U.S., with positive views increasing since 2007 in half of the countries for which comparative data was available. Such statistics are good news for the nation, but perhaps not so much for George W. Bush, whose departure from the White House next January is the likely cause for the increases. Only three nations — Tanzania, Nigeria, and India — had majorities who expressed confidence in Bush's handling of world affairs. Each of the other 21 countries, by wide margins, held little to no confidence in President Bush.

Majorities in 39% of nations polled believe that whoever replaces Bush will change U.S. foreign policy for the better, though in 20 out of 23 nations surveyed, more people have confidence in Sen. Barack Obama than in Sen. John McCain. America also scores high ratings for the quality of its democracy. Majorities in two-thirds of countries surveyed say that the U.S. respects the personal freedoms of its citizens.

That's the good news. The bad news is that, "with few exceptions, the American economy is now seen as having a negative impact on national economies, both large and small, in all parts of the world," according to the study's authors. Additionally, the majority of nations included think that the U.S. is extremely influential in their nations — and that such influence is not a good thing. More than half the nations polled see the United States as the world's top polluter — and Americans are considered among the least concerned about the effects of global warming. The nation most trusted to "do the right thing in protecting the world's environment" — Germany.

We're not alone in the hate, though, because China parallels the United States in several of these categories: it too is criticized for its unilateralist approach to foreign affairs and its hands-off approach to environmental issues. China, though, is knocked for its anti-freedom attitudes, many of which have been brought to greater light in recent months as a result of this summer's Beijing Olympics. And most Asian and Western nations express skepticism and concern over Chinese-made products, many of which have been subject to recall in the past year.

Obama Won't be Able to Change Washington Despite Promises

Barack Obama is a decent and sincere politician. And he promises to change the ways of Washington. Unfortunately his aspirations won't be enough. He is one man. Obama will not be able to change a system that is ruled by a moneyed elite that been running things many decades. As long as he is a member of the two-party system he will never be able to change things. John McCain despite his dishonest talk about being a maverick is up to his neck in playing the Washington game. We need a revolution. And that doesn't come from above but the people. This article is from Newsweek:

I went to a party last Sunday night given by a friend, a well-known journalist, who is well connected in Washington and friends with various movers and shakers, particularly in the legal world. The conversation, after the expression of shock about the loss of Tim Russert, turned to Jim Johnson, the "consummate Washington insider," as the papers called him, who had been ousted as Barack Obama's veep vetter. The people I talked with seem to think Obama had been unwise to hire someone who had profited so mightily from his Washington contacts. Still, the general assumption seemed to be, of course, any new president will need to hire people who know the town, who are "wired" and get around.

Someone in my little group did try to wonder what it would be like if a president only hired outsiders, but he was quickly drowned out. Jimmy Carter had tried to go around the usual powers-that-be with his Georgians; to a lesser degree, Bill Clinton had tried that with his Arkansans, and before long his team was forced to bring in Lloyd Cutler, the late super lawyer and Washington wise man who seemed to enjoy rescuing rookie presidents from their neophyte mistakes. Besides, someone in the group asked, would it really be an improvement if Obama brought in a bunch of political fixers from Chicago?

There was a certain amount of worry that the Washington establishment was about to embark upon one of its periodic acts of cannibalism and start questioning the client relationships or legal involvements of other Washington insiders close to Obama--notably Eric Holder, another veep vetter who, as deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, took part in the Marc Rich pardon. One of the lawyers at the party noted that few big-time lawyers could (or would wish to) withstand such guilt-by-association scrutiny. We all agreed it would be unfortunate if, say, Greg Craig was disqualified from taking a top job with Obama (whom Craig advises on foreign policy) because he has, necessarily, represented some shady types over the years as a white-collar defense lawyer at the law firm of Williams and Connolly.

[...]The fact is that Washington is largely dominated by people, some of them very smart, who get well paid to represent the status quo and fairly narrow interests.

These people are not by any means wicked or unjust or venal--some of the guests at the party had performed significant public service in one way or another. Many of them were Democrats who will vote for Obama. But I am sure that if you took a poll and asked them whether Obama could really change Washington-could really close loopholes on energy companies and raise taxes on the rich, reform the health-care system and significantly scale back the ill effects of global warming, substantially improve public schools or get us out of Iraq anytime soon--the answer would have been no, probably not. These "realists" might even want such changes, or most of them. But they know how Washington works. They might argue that Obama will need insiders if he really wants to change Washington (think of FDR hiring stock speculator Joseph Kennedy to be the first head of the Securities and Exchange Commission). But at the same time they have a strong appreciation for congressional gridlock and the countervailing powers of influence peddlers. They know that money--perfectly legal money--can trump idealistic campaign promises in a city thick with more than 30,000 lobbyists.