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Thread: What An Asshole #24- Barack Obama

  1. #1

    What An Asshole #24- Barack Obama
    Resolute, Tough, Intense... Presidential

    The Obama Illusion
    Presidential ambitions from the start

    By Paul Street

    Long before any formal announcement (I’m writing this in early January), it was obvious that overnight sensation Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) wanted to be the U.S.’s next chief executive. The “charismatic” Obama was campaigning by at least November 2005, less than a year out of the Illinois state legislature. During 2006, Obama gave grave and “realistic” foreign policy speeches and made appearances on the “Tonight Show,” “Meet the Press,” “Late Night With Conan O’Brien,” the covers and/or pages of Time, Men’s Vogue, Marie Claire, Vanity Fair, and Washington Life. He appeared at the early political proving grounds of Iowa and New Hampshire. He reached across political and cultural lines—making a special point of talking to the religious right. He released a self-promotional book (deceptively titled The Audacity of Hope) that screamed presidential ambition beneath false humility and ponderous, power-worshipping prose. He received the praise, money, positive media attention, and public recognition that a serious presidential run requires. His campaign fundraising Midas touch became a factor in the mid-term Congressional elections. The significance of his ambition and ever-rising stature is enhanced by the fact that the Democrats’ presumed frontrunner, Hilary Clinton, is seen by many election experts and brokers as unelectable.

    If the Democrats’ candidate in 2008 is Obama, we can be sure that the right-wing Republican noise machine will denounce the nation’s potential first non-white male president as a dangerous “leftist.” The charge will be absurd, something that will hardly stop numerous people on the portside of the narrow U.S. political spectrum from claiming Obama as a fellow “progressive.” Certain to be encouraged by Obama and his handlers, this confusion will reflect the desperation and myopia that shaky thinking and the limited choices of the U.S. electoral system regularly instill in liberals and some squishy near leftists.

    So what sorts of policies and values could one expect from an imagined Obama presidency? There is quite a bit already in Obama’s short national career that has to be placed in the “never mind” category if one is to seriously to believe his claim (cautiously advanced in The Audacity of Hope) to be a “progressive” concerned with “social and economic justice” and global peace.

    Never Mind

    Never mind, for example, that Obama was recently hailed as a “Hamiltonian” believer in “limited government” and “free trade” by Republican New York Times columnist David Brooks, who praises Obama for having “a mentality formed by globalization, not the SDS.” Or that he had to be shamed off the “New Democrat Directory” of the corporate-right Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) by the popular left black Internet magazine Black Commentator (Bruce Dixon, “Obama to Have Name Removed From DLC List,” Black Commentator, June 26, 2003).

    Never mind that Obama (consistent with Brooks’s description of him) has lent his support to the aptly named Hamilton Project, formed by corporate-neoliberal Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and “other Wall Street Democrats” to counter populist rebellion against corporatist tendencies within the Democratic Party (David Sirota, “Mr. Obama Goes to Washington,” the Nation, June 26). Or that he lent his politically influential and financially rewarding assistance to neoconservative pro-war Senator Joe Lieberman’s (“D”-CT) struggle against the Democratic antiwar insurgent Ned Lamont. Or that Obama has supported other “mainstream Democrats” fighting antiwar progressives in primary races (see Alexander Cockburn, “Obama’s Game,” the Nation, April 24, 2006). Or that he criticized efforts to enact filibuster proceedings against reactionary Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito.

    Never mind that Obama “dismissively” referred—in a “tone laced with contempt”—to the late progressive and populist U.S. Senator Paul Wellstone as “something of a gadfly.” Or that he chose the neoconservative Lieberman to be his “assigned” mentor in the U.S. Senate. Or that “he posted a long article on the liberal blog Daily Kos criticizing attacks against lawmakers who voted for right-wing Supreme Court nominee John Roberts.” Or that he opposed an amendment to the Bankruptcy Act that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Or that he told Time magazine’s Joe Klein last year that he’d never given any thought to Al Gore’s widely discussed proposal to link a “carbon tax” on fossil fuels to targeted tax relief for the nation’s millions of working poor (Joe Klein, “The Fresh Face,” Time, October 17, 2006).

    Never mind that Obama voted for a business-friendly “tort reform” bill that rolls back working peoples’ ability to obtain reasonable redress and compensation from misbehaving corporations (Cockburn; Sirota). Or that Obama claims to oppose the introduction of single-payer national health insurance on the grounds that such a widely supported social-democratic change would lead to employment difficulties for workers in the private insurance industry—at places like Kaiser and Blue Cross Blue Shield (Sirota). Does Obama support the American scourge of racially disparate mass incarceration on the grounds that it provides work for tens of thousands of prison guards? Should the U.S. maintain the illegal operation of Iraq and pour half its federal budget into “defense” because of all the soldiers and other workers that find employment in imperial wars and the military-industrial complex? Does the “progressive” senator really need to be reminded of the large number of socially useful and healthy alternatives that exist for the investment of human labor power at home and abroad—wetlands preservation, urban ecological retrofitting, drug counseling, teaching, infrastructure building and repair, safe and affordable housing construction, the building of windmills and solar power facilities, etc.?

    In an interview with Klein, Obama expressed reservations about a universal health insurance plan recently enacted in Massachusetts, stating his preference for “voluntary” solutions over “government mandates.” The former, he said, is “more consonant with” what he called “the American character”—a position contradicted by regular polling data showing that most Americans support Canadian-style single-payer health insurance.

    Never mind that Obama voted to re-authorize the repressive PATRIOT Act. Or that he voted for the appointment of the war criminal Condaleeza Rice to (of all things) Secretary of State. Or that he opposed Senator Russ Feingold’s (D-WI) move to censure the Bush administration after the president was found to have illegally wiretapped U.S. citizens. Or that he shamefully distanced himself from fellow Illinois Democratic Senator Dick Durbin’s forthright criticism of U.S. torture practices at Guantanamo. Or that he refuses to foreswear the use of first-strike nuclear weapons against Iran.

    Never mind that Obama makes a big point of respectfully listening to key parts of the right wing agenda even though that agenda is well outside majority sentiment (Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, Off Center: the Republican Revolution and the Erosion of American Democracy). Or that he joins victim-blaming Republicans in pointing to poor blacks’ “cultural” issues as the cause of concentrated black poverty (Obama, The Audacity of Hope)—not the multiple, well-documented, and interrelated structures, practices and consequences of externally imposed white supremacy and corporate-state capitalism. Or that he claims that blacks have joined the American “socioeconomic mainstream” even as median black household net worth falls to less than eight cents on the median white household dollar. Or that he had this to say on the night after the Congressional mid-term elections, when the criminal and reactionary Cheney-Bush administration’s unpopularity with the American people cost the Republicans their majority in Congress: “If the Democrats don’t show a willingness to work with the president, I think they could be punished in ‘08” (Jeff Zeleni, “Democrats Fight to Say, ‘You’re Welcome,’” New York Times, November 5, 2006).

    Hitting the Right (Wing) Keynotes

    Never mind that Obama’s famous 2004 Democratic Convention Keynote Address—widely credited for catapulting him to national prominence—expressed numerous reactionary and incorrect notions that make the praise it received from the far right National Review (who called Obama’s oration “simple and powerful”) less than mysterious on close examination. This speech claimed that the U.S. is the ultimate “beacon for freedom and opportunity,” the “only country on earth” where his supposedly “rags to riches” is “even possible.” This despite the fact that the U.S. is actually the most rigidly hierarchical nation in the industrialized world, home to a stultifying corporate plutocracy, persistent and highly racialized poverty, astonishing incarceration rates (also quite racially disparate), and low mobility from lower to upper segments in its steep socioeconomic pyramid.

    Obama the Keynoter proclaimed that “every child in America” should “have a decent shot at life,” not that every kid deserves a full and decent life now and thereafter. He told Americans they should be ecstatic over the “miracle” that they don’t live under the iron heel of state repression (he made no exceptions for the nation’s two million prisoners), as if democracy is just the absence of a police state and not the power of the people to run their own society in an egalitarian fashion—talk about low expectations for freedom. He praised a Marine enlisted in the occupation of Iraq for “defending the United States of America” and for (supposedly) expressing “absolute faith in the country and its leaders.” Never mind that such chilling “faith” is the stuff of the very police state whose absence in the U.S. Obama called a “miracle.”

    Never mind that Obama’s speech scaled new heights of cringing, pseudo-patriotic nausea-inducement by making disturbing “hope” parallels between: “the hope of slaves sitting around a fire singing freedom songs,” “the hope of a young naval lieutenant bravely patrolling the Mekong Delta,” and the “hope of a skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him.” The lieutenant referred to in his speech was Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry whose government’s imperial right to “patrol” great rivers on the other side of the world during the 1960s Obama took as axiomatic. The “skinny kid” referred to a young Obama, grooming himself for a Harvard education while attending an elite private school and living with his white grandparents in sunny Hawaii. The connection with singing slaves? A shared belief in what Obama called “God’s greatest gift to us, the bedrock of this nation—a belief that there are better days ahead.” Yes, the brutalized black slaves of racist antebellum America were looking forward to the glorious white-imperialist rape of Southeast Asia when their faith in “better days” would find glorious realization in the napalming of Vietnamese children, the images of which shocked Martin Luther King, Jr. into denouncing the Vietnam war in strident and forceful terms.

    Embracing Imperial Criminality

    Never mind Obama’s “mush-mouthed” (Glen Ford and Peter Gamble, “Obama Mouths Mush on War,” Black Commentator, December 1, 2005) pronouncements on the illegal, racist, and imperialist invasion and occupation of Iraq. Obama’s handlers and supporters place considerable emphasis on the claim that the junior senator from Illinois has voiced a “consistent position against the war” and (by extension) the Middle East. The assertion has some technical accuracy; Obama has publicly questioned the Bush administration’s case for war since the fall of 2002. But serious scrutiny of his “antiwar position” shows that the supposedly “pragmatic” and “non-ideological” Obama speaks in deferential accord with the doctrine of empire. In Obama’s carefully crafted rhetoric, Operation Iraqi Liberation (OIL) has been a “strategic blunder” on the part of an essentially benevolent nation state. Given his presidential ambitions, it is unthinkable for him to acknowledge the invasion’s status as a great international transgression that is consistent with the United States’ long record of imperial criminality. It is equally unimaginable for him to acknowledge that the war expressed Washington’s drive to deepen its control of strategic petroleum resources—an ambition in direct opposition to the alleged U.S. goals of encouraging Iraqi freedom and exporting democracy.

    In a recent address designed to display his foreign policy bona fides, Obama showed his continuing willingness to take seriously the claim that OIL was an effort to “impose democracy” on Iraq, even faulting the Bush administration for acting in Iraq on the basis of unrealistic “dreams of democracy and hopes for a perfect government” (Obama, “A Way Forward in Iraq,” speech to the Chicago Council on Global Affairs [CCGA], November 22, 2006).

    Consistent with his denial and embrace of Washington’s imperial ambitions, Obama has refused to join genuinely antiwar forces in calling for a rapid and thorough withdrawal of troops and an end to the occupation of Iraq. In a critical November 2005 speech to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Obama rejected Rep. John Murtha’s (D-PA) call for a rapid redeployment and any notion of a timetable for withdrawal. Obama’s call for “a pragmatic solution to the real war we’re facing in Iraq” included repeated references to the need to “defeat” the “insurgency”—a goal that means continuation of the war. As commentators Ford and Gamble noted in a critical analysis of Obama’s CFR address: “In essence all Obama wants from the Bush regime is that it fess up to having launched the war based on false information and to henceforth come clean with the Senate on how it plans to proceed in the future. Those Democrats who want to dwell on the past—the actual genesis and rationale for the war and the real reasons for its continuation—should be quiet. Obama and many of his colleagues are more interested in consulting the Bush men on the best way to ‘win’ the war than in effecting an American withdrawal at any foreseeable time.”

    Obama’s November speech to the CCGA advocates a vaguely timed Iraq “scenario” in which “U.S. forces” might remain in the occupied state for an “extended period of time.” Obama advances a “reduced but active [U.S. military] presence” that “protects logistical supply points” and “American enclaves like the Green Zone” (site of one of the largest and most heavily militarized imperial “embassies” in history) while “send[ing] a clear message to hostile countries like Iran and Syria that we intend to remain a key player in the region.” U.S. troops “remaining in Iraq” will “act as rapid reaction forces to respond to emergencies and go after terrorists.” This is part of what Obama meant when he told a fawning David Brooks that (in Brooks’s approving language) “the U.S. may have no choice but to slog it out in Iraq” (David Brooks, “Run, Barack, Run,” New York Times, October 19, 2006). Never mind that the recent mid-term elections and a mountain of polling data show that the majority of Americans support rapid U.S. withdrawal, as do the vast majority of the Iraqi people—the purported beneficiaries of Cheney’s “dreams of democracy.”

    The only polling data that Obama referenced in his CCGA speech and in the foreign policy chapter of his recent book is meant to illustrate what he considers to be the real danger in the wake of the OIL fiasco: that Americans are leaning dangerously towards “isolationism” and thus turning their backs on the noble superpower’s global “responsibilities.”

    At one point in his CCGA oration, Obama had the audacity to say the following in support of his claim that U.S. citizens support “victory” in Iraq: “The American people have been extraordinarily resolved. They have seen their sons and daughters killed or wounded in the streets of Fallujah.”

    This was a spine-chilling selection of locales. Fallujah was the site for a colossal U.S. war atrocity. Crimes included the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the targeting of ambulances and hospitals, and the practical leveling of an entire city—in April and November 2004. The town was designated for destruction as an example of the awesome state terror promised to those who dared to resist U.S. power. Not surprisingly, Fallujah is a leading symbol of U.S. imperialism in the Arab and Muslim worlds. It is a deeply provocative and insulting place for Obama to choose to highlight American sacrifice and “resolve” in the occupation of Iraq.

    Likewise, Obama also praised U.S. occupation soldiers for “performing their duty with bravery, with brilliance, and without question” (CCGA speech). It’s hard to determine which is more disturbing in this comment: Obama’s blindness (intentional or not) to the important and welcome fact that many troops do in fact strongly question the war or his upholding of the unquestioning execution of frankly criminal military orders as a good thing.

    “He’s a Player”

    Liberal bloggers and writers at places like Daily Kos and the leftmost sections of the corporate-neoliberal punditocracy (e.g., Frank Rich at the New York Times) can speak and write all they wish about the “progressive” potential of a Barockstar presidency. As David Sirota rightly observed last summer, Obama is “interested in fighting only for those changes that fit within the existing boundaries of what’s considered mainstream in Washington, instead of using his platform to redefine those boundaries. This posture,” Sirota notes, “comes even as polls consistently show that Washington’s definition of mainstream is divorced from the rest of the country’s (for example, politicians’ refusal to debate the war even as polls show that Americans want the troops home).” It is because of Obama’s “rare ability to mix charisma and deference to the establishment,” Sirota finds (in an overly respectful assessment), that “Beltway publications and think tanks have heaped praise on Obama and want him to run for President.”

    But then, Obama would never have risen so quickly and remarkably to his current position of dominant media favor and national prominence if he was anything like the egalitarian and democratic “progressive” that some liberals and leftists imagine. In the corporate-crafted and money-dominated swamp that passes for “representative democracy” in the U.S., concentrated economic and imperial power open and close doors in ways that preemptively suffocate populist potential. Big money is not in the business of promoting genuine social justice or democracy activists (so-called “gadflies” like Wellstone, to use Obama’s description). Viewing public policy as a mechanism for the upward distribution of wealth, it promotes empire and inequality by underwriting what Ken Silverstein calls “the smothering K Street culture and the revolving door that feeds it—not just lobbyists themselves but the entire interconnected world of campaign consultants, public relations agencies, pollsters, and media strategists”—without whose favor and assistance serious presidential bids are next to unthinkable. “All of this,” Silverstein notes, “has forged a political culture that is intrinsically hostile to reform” (Ken Silverstein, “Barack Obama Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine,” Harpers’ Magazine, November 2006).

    Obama (a former editor of the Harvard Law Review) knows this very well. He’s been “trimming his sails,” as he likes to say when he’s telling more genuinely progressive interviewers (e.g. Sirota and Silverstein) why he had to support one corporateor militarism-friendly policy or position after another. He’s been expressing his deep deference for the national and global politico-economic establishment in accord with harsh plutocratic realities. He has had to make his “charismatic” way through Mammon’s polyarchic vetting rounds, impressing the critical gate-keeping powers-that-be with his “reasonable” commitment to working within the existing dominant domestic and imperial hierarchies. He wouldn’t be where he is, practically overnight, if he hadn’t made his “Hamiltonian” (corporate-imperial) safety clear to the masters of national policy and doctrine, who hold the keys to the kingdom. As a Washington lobbyist recently told Silverstein, “Big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn’t see him as a ‘player’…. What’s the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?” (Silverstein, 2006).

    Consistent with his secret identity as a corporate “player,” Silverstein notes, Obama assiduously supported the ethanol-promoting objectives of the Illinois-based firm Archer-Daniels Midland, which has provided him with private jets on at least two occasions. He has also defended the interests of Illinois’ gigantic electrical firm Exelon, America’s leading nuclear plant operator and a company that has given more than $74,000 to his campaigns. The slim chance that Obama might ever choose “starry eyed idealism”—Silverstein’s lobbyist-informant’s way of describing the elevation of peace and justice over the imperatives of Empire & Inequality, Inc.—has probably become thinner now that Obama has recently joined (thanks largely to his latest book contract) the millionaires’ club.

    For those who are interested this is the post that started it all. It was originally posted on Jan. 07, 2008 and if you take the time to read through the very long thread you will find that all of the things talked about in articles and comments have proven to be rather accurate if not understated. I will continue to build this thread over the next weeks and hope that folks here will take all this information and spread it around their towns in a feverish fashion.

    Original thread here:
    "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."

    -Karl Marx's 1859 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

  2. #2


    wonder how many people are thinking you look like a genius right about now ;)?

  3. #3
    Senior Member Tinoire's Avatar
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    OK, I'll be the first to admit it

    Even though alarm bells went off about Obama, I was so blinded by my hatred of Hillary Clinton that I pushed them aside when they started that drama of the sexists against the racists.

    Looking back now, I see how deftly Obama manipulated Black people's fears and White people's guilt.

    I always thought Chlamor was a genius but he pegged Obama better than anyone out there. I'm still stunned at how well he pegged him and how consistently impervious Chlamor remained to the manipulation and charm.

    Damn Chlamor, you sounded the alarm early about how dangerous this crook was ad how much damage he'd do.

    Everytime I see him on TV, the only phrase that comes to mind is yours, "God, what an asshole".

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tinoire's Avatar
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    That was written in 2007 ????

    [ul]"If the Democrats’ candidate in 2008 is Obama, we can be sure that the right-wing Republican noise machine will denounce the nation’s potential first non-white male president as a dangerous “leftist.”


    "some squishy near leftists"?

    Ouch, that hurts but touche.

    Re the DLC affiliation, I knew Obama was lying through his teeth when he said he wasn't now and had never been DLC. In his best Clintonian parsing, he now proudly admits he's a "New Democrat". God I loathe him. What a liar. Obama lost me at his FISA betrayal but that's no excuse for having ever fallen for it.

    This article certainly lays it out. Paul Street didn't miss a beat.

  5. #5

    Clinton gave Obama a lot of cred with progressives

    It was a question of the devil they knew versus geting someone, anyone, who wasn't a Clinton. The entire DU drama of "progressives" like John Edwards and Obama saving us from Clinton was absurd. There isn't and never was a nickel's worth of difference.

    If only Obama's cheif rival for the nomination had been a progressive, I think the bloom would have fallen off the rose sooner.


  6. #6

    Barack Obama and The Audacity of Deception

    Barack Obama and The Audacity of Deception
    13 December 2007

    Barack Obama and The Audacity of Deception: The Manufacture of Progressive Illusion

    by Paul Street

    Barack Obama and his corporate handlers are masters of smoke and mirrors. Obama claims to have bumped his Afro-centric pastor from his official presidential announcement to "protect" the minister, rather than to shield his own candidacy. Obama implies that Hillary Clinton is a tool of corporate money, when he is a cog in the very same machine. He tells a Black audience that his own conception was made possible by civil rights struggles at Selma, Alabama, 1965, and Birmingham, 1963 - but Obama was born in 1961. And he claims a vote for him is the equivalent of joining the anti-war movement. Of course, real anti-war activity isn't that easy - what comes easy for Barack Obama, is lying.

    "From the very beginning, Barack Obama said No to the War in Iraq. Join the movement to end the war and change Washington." - Flyer mailed to Iowa voters, Obama for America (Des Moines, IA)

    "'Protecting' Rev. Wright."

    All mainstream United States politicians purvey falsehoods big and small, but United States Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) and his campaign lie and deceive with distinctively nauseating chutzpah.

    Last February, for example, Obama promptly revoked Rev. Jeremiah Wright's scheduled statement of a public prayer before the senator officially declared his bid for the White House. A preacher known for fiery sermons against American racism, poverty, and imperialism, Wright was Obama's avowed spiritual mentor - his personal agent of religious conversion on the South Side of Chicago in the middle 1980s.

    Last April, Obama told New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor that he was "only shielding his pastor from the spotlight" when he booted Wright from the stage (Kantor 2007). In July, Obama told Newsweek reporters Darren Briscoe and Richard Wolffe that he "may have been over-protective" toward Wright (Briscoe and Wolffe 2007).

    "Obama acted to protect his campaign from charges that it was too closely connected to the preacher."

    But everybody knew Obama had acted to protect his campaign from charges that it was too closely connected to a preacher who occasionally questioned dominant U.S. social hierarchies. Kantor said as much when she wrote that "Mr. Wright's assertions of widespread white racism and his scorching remarks about American government have drawn criticism, and prompted the senator to cancel his delivery of the invocation when he formally announced his candidacy in February" (Kantor 2007).

    "So they got together and Barack Obama, Jr. was born."

    But the Rev. Wright story was just a little white lie compared to the big black fib Obama told in Selma, Alabama last March. Trying to sound authentically African-American during a speech memorializing the forty-second anniversary of the 1965 Voting Rights March at the Pettis Bridge in Selma, Obama claimed that his black (Kenyan) father and white (Kansan) mother married and conceived the future Barockstar because of the great Civil Rights struggles fought in Selma and Birmingham, Alabama. "There was something stirring across the country because of what happened in Selma, Alabama," Obama intoned, "because some folks are willing to march across a bridge. So they [his parents] got together and Barack Obama Jr. was born."

    "So don't tell me I don't have a claim on Selma, Alabama," Obama droned on. "Don't tell me I'm not coming home to Selma, Alabama. I'm here because somebody marched. I'm here because you all sacrificed for me" (Obama 2007).

    Wow. Too bad Barack Obama Jr. was born in 1961, two years before the famous campaign to desegregate Birmingham, three years before the Civil Rights Act, and four years before the famous Selma march!

    It's true that Obama's immaculate multicultural conception came four years after the Montgomery Bus Boycott, but his parents "getting together" across racial didn't have much to do with the Civil Rights Movement. It was more likely a reflection of the fact that his home island of Hawaii was relatively "tolerant" on racial questions - a distant geographic and cultural cry from the racially segregated U.S. South to which Obama absurdly tried to claim strong biographical connection.

    "Not because of the folks writing the big checks."

    But let's move on to more substantive matters. It's important not to get overly mired in personal matters along the lines of Hillary Clinton's recent (literal) kindergarten assault (Bosman 2007)on Obama (1).

    Last August, Obama audaciously told thousands of labor union members at Chicago's Soldier Field that he was "running for president...because of you, not because of folks who are writing big checks" (Helman 2007). He made a big point of the fact that he "does not take money from corporate lobbyists," unlike business-friendly Hillary Clinton.

    He uttered his worker-pleasing words even as his campaign was bending with fierce plutocratic winds fanned by giant global investment firms and corporations that were helping him join leading corporate Democrat Clinton in setting new electoral fundraising records.

    Ever wonder why the "progressive" (as he repeatedly describes himself) Obama dances for Wall Street on the (fake) Social Security "crisis" (Krugman 2007a) and sounds like Mitt Romney and Rudy Guliani in decrying the specter of "government mandated" universal health care (Krugman 2007b)? Curious about why the avowed environmentalist thinks that nuclear power should be considered part of the solution to America's energy crisis and has recently joined Hillary in voting for the extension of the corporate-neoliberal North American Free Trade Agreement to Peru?

    "Obama's campaign was bending with fierce plutocratic winds fanned by giant global investment firms and corporations."

    Follow the money. Obama's presidential campaign has received nearly $5 million dollars from securities and investment firms and $866,000 from commercial banks through October of 2007. Obama's top contributor so far is Goldman Sachs (provider of $369,078 to Obama), identified by Center for Responsive Politics (CRP) investigators as "a major proponent of privatizing Social Security as well as legislation that would essentially deregulate the investment banking/securities industry." Eight of Obama's top twenty election investors are securities and investment firms: Goldman Sachs, Lehman Bros. (number 2 at $229,090), J.P. Morgan Chase and Co. (# 4 at $216,759), Citadel Investment Group (#7 at 4166,608), UBS AG ($146,150), UBS-America ($106,680), Morgan Stanley ($104,421), and Credit Suisse Group ($92,300). The last two firms are also known to be leading privatization advocates (Center for Responsive Politics 2007a).

    Meanwhile, Obama's presidential run has been "assisted" by more than $2 million from the health care sector and nearly $400,000 from the insurance industry through October of 2007 (Center for Responsive Politics 2007b). Obama received $708,000 from medical and insurance interests between 2001 and 2006 (Center for Responsive Politics 2007c). His wife Michelle, a fellow Harvard Law graduate, was until a recently a Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, a position that paid her $273, 618 in 2006 (Sweet 2007).

    And Obama's sixth largest contributor is Exelon, the proud Chicago-based owner and operator of more nuclear power plants than any entity on earth (Center for Responsive Politics 2007a).

    Go figure.

    As for his "lobbyist ban," last August the Los Angeles Times reported that Obama "raised more than $1 million in the first three months of his presidential campaign from law firms and companies that have major lobbying operations in the nation's capital." Campaign finance expert Stephen Weissman observed that this raised troubling questions about the practical relevance of Obama's much-ballyhooed pledge to turn down donations from "federal lobbyists."

    "Obama's rise to national prominence and presidential viability, Helman discovered, depended significantly on PAC and lobbyist money."

    As Los Angeles Times reporter Dan Morain explained, "some of the most influential [lobbyist] players, lawyers and consultants among them, skirt disclosure requirements by merely advising clients and associates who do actual lobbying, and avoiding regular contact with policymakers. Obama's ban does not cover such individuals."

    Thus, to give one example, Obama received $33,000 in the first quarter of 2007 from the Atlanta-based law firm Alston & Bird, which maintains a large lobbying division in Washington. Obama's $33,000 came bundled from a number of "consultants" employed by the firm.

    Also deleted from Obama's "ban" are state lobbyists. Obama took $2000 from two Springfield, Illinois lobbyists for Exelon, which spent $500,000 to influence policy in Washington in 2006 and gave $160,000 directly to Obama (Morain 2007).

    An especially big dent in the armor of Obama's effort to sell himself as the noble repudiator of lobbyist, PAC, and special interest money generally was inflicted in early August of 2007. That's when the Boston Globe published a widely circulated article titled "PACs and Lobbyists Aided Obama's Rise: Data Contrast With His Theme." Globe reporter Scott Helman reviewed campaign finance records to find that a "more complicated truth" lurked "behind Obama's campaign rhetoric." Obama's rise to national prominence and presidential viability, Helman discovered, depended significantly on PAC and lobbyist money, including large sums from "defense contractors, law firms and the securities and insurance industries" to his own powerful PAC "Hopefund." Of special interest was Helman's determination that Obama was retaining close and lucrative funding relationships with leading Washington-based lobbyists and lobbying firms while technically avoiding direct contributions from those key campaign finance players (Helman 2007)[2].

    "‘Join the movement to end the war' caucusing for Barack Obama."

    But for my money the worst example of Team Obama's taste for truly audacious deception is their effort to appropriate the spirit and support for the antiwar movement.

    Listen to these two sentences from the cover of a shiny new mailing that I just got from the Obama campaign in Iowa: "From the very beginning, Barack Obama said No to the War in Iraq. Join the movement to end the war and chance Washington" (Obama for America 2007).

    Yes, you read that correctly. "Obama ‘08" is equating caucusing for the junior senator from Illinois with joining the antiwar movement.

    Never mind some basic facts of history. In late July of 2004, for example, Obama admitted to the New York Times that he did not know how he would have voted on the 2002 Iraq war resolution had he been serving in the United States Senate at the time of the vote. Here is the relevant Times passage: "In a recent interview [Obama' declined to criticize Senators Kerry and Edwards for voting to authorize the war, although he said he would not have done the same based on the information he had at the time.' But, I'm not privy to Senate intelligence reports,' Mr. Obama said. 'WHAT WOULD I HAVE DONE? I DON'T KNOW.' What I know is that from my vantage point the case was not made'" (New York Times, 26 July, 2004).

    "Obama admitted to the New York Times that he did not know how he would have voted on the 2002 Iraq war resolution had he been serving in the United States Senate at the time of the vote."

    Obama has never opposed the "war" (naked and one-sided U.S. imperial aggression) on the same terms as the actual antiwar movement. His much-ballyhooed "antiwar speech" in Chicago during the fall of 2002 followed much conventional wisdom in the foreign policy establishment by criticizing "dumb wars." It said absolutely nothing about the obviously criminal and imperial, oil-motivated nature of the great international and human rights transgression Cheney and Bush were preparing for Iraq and the world community.

    In the part of his famous 2004 Democratic Convention Keynote Address (generally credited with producing his national celebrity) that came closest to directly criticizing the Iraq invasion, Obama suggested that the Bush administration had "fudged the numbers" and "shad[ed] the truth" about why "our young men and women" were "sent into harm's way." He added that the U.S. must "care for [soldiers'] families while they're gone, tend to the soldiers upon their return, and never go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world."

    Morally cognizant and reasonably informed listeners were left to wonder about the considerably larger quantity (well into the tens of thousands) of Iraqis who had been killed and maimed and who lost income as a result of the criminal U.S. invasion of their country by the summer of 2004. What about the massive harm U.S. forces were ordered to inflict on Iraqis, considerably greater than the damage they experienced?

    "Securing the peace" was a morally impoverished and nationally arrogant, self-serving way for Obama to describe the real White House objective in Iraq by the summer of 2004: to pacify, by force when (quite) necessary, the outraged populace of a nation that understandably resented a brazenly imperial invasion it saw (with good reason) as driven (as even Alan Greenspan admits) by the United States' desire to deepen its control of Iraqi and Middle Eastern oil.

    And "shade the truth" didn't come close to doing justice to the high-state deception - the savage, sinister, and sophisticated lying - that the Bush administration used and is still using to cover their real agenda, understood with no small accuracy by the people of Iraq. It is hardly a "war," moreover, when the most powerful military state in history attacks and colonially occupies a weak nation it has already devastated over decades of military assault and even deadlier "economic sanctions."

    It gets worse. Obama has repeatedly voted to spend billions on the illegal invasion since his arrival in the U.S. Senate. He inveighs against the "Tom Hayden wing of the Democratic Party" and has told congressional Democrats they would be "playing chicken with the troops" if they dared to actually (imagine) de-fund the Cheney-Bush "war."

    He voted to confirm as Secretary of State (of all things) the mendacious war criminal Condoleezza Rice, who played a critical role in advancing the preposterous Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) claims Bush used to invade Iraq.

    "Obama has repeatedly voted to spend billions on the illegal invasion since his arrival in the U.S. Senate."

    He distanced himself from fellow Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin when Durbin faced vicious right-wing attacks after daring to tell some basic truths about U.S. torture practices in Iraq.

    Obama used his considerable political and campaign finance muscle to back centrist Democrats against antiwar progressives in numerous Congressional primaries in 2006 (he even supported the neoconservative Joe Lieberman - his self-chosen Senate mentor - against the antiwar insurgent Ned Lamont in Connecticut). After their attainment of a majority in the Congress in November of 2006, Obama warned Democrats against being seen as working against the remarkably unpopular and arch-criminal Cheney-Bush administration.

    Obama has repeatedly and absurdly claimed that the illegal invasion was launched with the "best of [democratic] intentions."

    He praises U.S. military personnel for their "unquestioning" "service" in Iraq and (despite numerous U.S. atrocities there) for "doing everything we could ever ask of them."

    His belated calls for withdrawal are hedged by numerous statements indicating that an Obama White House would maintain a significant military presence in and around Iraq for an indefinite period of time. And Obama has refused to support taking a reckless (possibly even nuclear) U.S. military assault on Iran off the table of acceptable U.S. foreign policy options. Obama couldn't bother to be present on the Senate floor to vote against the Bush's administration's provocative, saber-rattling move to define Iran's Revolutionary Guard as "an international terrorist organization" (3).

    So, yes, by all means let's "join the antiwar movement" for... no, not for the actually Left-progressive antiwar candidate Dennis Kucinich, but for...Barack Obama.

    Please lie less (brazenly)

    If you've read this commentary in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, or Nevada, please print it off and take it down to your closest Obama '08 "HOPE" headquarters. Ask the staffers there to tell Barack Obama to cut the crap - or at least just to lie a little less often and a little less brazenly.

    Tell them this isn't about the juvenile mudslinging that Hillary Clinton has embraced. It's about empire and inequality, corporate power/business rule, the meaning of progressivism, the business-sponsored authoritarian peril that haunts our fading democracy, and the invisible lives and fates of billions around the world.
    "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."

    -Karl Marx's 1859 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

  7. #7

    Hey Kid

    Less than you think? LOL.

    Here in Ithaca I took more flak from this stuff and those booklets than you can imagine. You've never seen so many peaceniks get irate. I should write a book about the experience itself. I've never seen such a mass agglomeration towards an idol. Very bizarre.

    Now most of the folks around town are sheepishly trying to defend that they had no other choice or just saying they feel betrayed.

    "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."

    -Karl Marx's 1859 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

  8. #8


    I don't think I have ever seen a more craven and hypocritical and cowardly move - Obama dumping Reverend Wright. Despicable.

    All throughout the Democratic party, millions of Democrats went from defending Wright to viciously attacking him in a brief span of 24 hours, following their master's lead, and it was then that I knew there was something truly depraved and dangerous about the movement.

  9. #9


    Never mind the peaceniks being "betrayed - they should have known better, and they actively helped Obama fool the people and they savagely beat down any opposition.

    The people, however, were betrayed. That won't go away.

  10. #10

    I remember that being an enlightening moment for me as well.

    I refused to attack Rev. Wright; I was attacked for that.

  11. #11

    how soon we forget

    Again and again and again when people tried to point out that there was no difference between Clinton and Obama, the Obama zealots talked about the war. Obama was the anti-war candidate, they insisted - they were relentless on that. Now, the exact same people are saying "what ever gave you the idea that Obama was anti-war? You weren't paying attention very well." As if that isn't bad enough, they then go on to defend not merely Obama, but the wars as well, and to viciously attack the anti-war people just as aggressively as any Republican ever did. "Just because YOU want the war to end to promote your personal agenda, that doesn't mean the rest of us have to fall into lockstep. Obama is the president of ALL Americans."

    Liars. They don't seem to care that we know they are liars - which means they are arrogant, as well.

    We even had someone post at DU yesterday that the critics of Obama have an agenda to tear down America - "some people actually want America to collapse to make room for their utopia, and that is why they criticize Obama." That is worse than anything the Bush supporters were saying to us.

  12. #12

    it is pathetic

    Nothing that Wright had to say is unusual in AA churches, and I have heard similar things from the pulpit many, many times. It is called "the truth" where I come from. People from here where I am now, living in little all white communities and going to fundy churches, may well be surprised and frightened by what is said in AA churches. That is their problem - I can tell you they would all get a much better reception in almost any AA church in the country then they would ever give a person of color who came to their church - and it is the country's problem, and we had an opportunity to make progress on that with the Wright controversy. Instead, to save his own ass Obama catered to and caved in to those irrational fears that whites have, and gave the bigots and extreme right wingers more power and credibility, and denied the reality, the experience of people of color in this country.

    Shame on him for that.

  13. #13

    Very well-put.

    I agree.

  14. #14

    Obama's Obscene Speech in Cairo: Lies in the Service of Death

    Obama's Obscene Speech in Cairo: Lies in the Service of Death

    The world has always offered certain apparent pleasures that are best enjoyed under particular conditions: a mind that deliberately and systematically avoids every difficult question of fact, just as it rejects inquiry into all instances of divergence and contradiction between proclaimed intentions and continuing patterns of action; a willingness to succumb to the easy, sentimental allure of contentless phrases and slogans, provided one joins the pretense that pretty-sounding utterances carry nobility and significance; an approach to analysis that voluntarily restricts itself to the familiar, the conventional, and the comfortable. In a passage from The March of Folly excerpted here, Barbara Tuchman quotes George Orwell on the general nature of this refusal to engage in serious thought:

    Refusal to draw inference from negative signs, which under the rubric "wooden-headedness" has played so large a part in these pages, was recognized in the most pessimistic work of modern times, George Orwell's 1984, as what the author called "Crimestop." "Crimestop means the faculty of stopping short, as though by instinct, at the threshold of any dangerous thought. It includes the power of not grasping analogies, of failing to perceive logical errors, of misunderstanding the simplest arguments ... and of being bored and repelled by any train of thought which is capable of leading in a heretical direction. Crimestop, in short, means protective stupidity."

    Most of Barack Obama's pronouncements require Crimestop as the indispensable analytic tool -- if, that is, one wishes to invest those pronouncements with importance, originality and courage.

    This is never more true than on the occasion of a major policy address by Obama. It was certainly true of Obama's heralded speech on race in America. At the beginning of a detailed consideration of that speech, I quoted several especially dreadful examples of what ought to be regarded as embarrassingly Crimestopped "appreciations" of what we were told was Obama's soaring and inspiring rhetoric. Some commentators have perfected this approach to The Wonder of Obama; see the third example here. Our stupefyingly trivial and ignorant political culture is happy to provide plentiful rewards for one's willingness to emit such gurglings on a regular basis. If you enthusiastically associate your name with phrases such as "the triumph of word over flesh," you may be provided a major platform at the Washington Post. O glory unexcelled!

    The task of analyzing one of Obama's major speeches is likely to deter many of those who would undertake the work of deconstruction. The reason is simple, and terrible: the lies are so numerous and comprehensive that one hardly knows where to begin. I suspect some might decide not to begin at all. In this manner, the strength of the lies increases, as the truth recedes always farther into the mists of distance. Toward the end of "Obama's Whitewash," after setting forth many of the reasons for my conclusion (although certainly not all of them), I wrote:

    Almost every politician lies, and most politicians lie repeatedly. Yet in one sense, Obama's speech is exceptional, rare and unique -- but not for any of the reasons offered by Obama's uncritical, mindless adulators. It is exceptional for this reason: it is rare that a candidate will announce in such stark, comprehensive terms that he will lie about every fact of moment, about every aspect of our history that affects the crises of today and that has led to them, about everything that might challenge the mythological view of America. But that is what Obama achieved with this speech. It may be a remarkable achievement -- a remarkable and detestable one, and one that promises endless destruction in the future, both here and abroad.

    All of this applies with equal force to Obama's speech in Cairo last week. Time and space prohibit a detailed examination of all the lies told by Obama. We will focus only on some of the more critical ones.

    As a broad, preliminary matter, consider this statement from Obama last week, identifying the overall perspective that serves as the foundation for United States foreign policy:

    Of course, recognizing our common humanity is only the beginning of our task. Words alone cannot meet the needs of our people. These needs will be met only if we act boldly in the years ahead; and if we understand that the challenges we face are shared, and our failure to meet them will hurt us all.

    For we have learned from recent experience that when a financial system weakens in one country, prosperity is hurt everywhere. When a new flu infects one human being, all are at risk. When one nation pursues a nuclear weapon, the risk of nuclear attack rises for all nations. When violent extremists operate in one stretch of mountains, people are endangered across an ocean. And when innocents in Bosnia and Darfur are slaughtered, that is a stain on our collective conscience. That is what it means to share this world in the 21st century. That is the responsibility we have to one another as human beings.

    This passage is nearly identical to one offered by Obama two years ago in another major foreign policy address; I discussed that earlier speech in detail, in "Songs of Death." I characterized the following as "the diseased heart of Obama's address"; note the similarity and continuity of Obama's views, which are also those of America's ruling class and the foreign policy establishment:

    In today’s globalized world, the security of the American people is inextricably linked to the security of all people. When narco-trafficking and corruption threaten democracy in Latin America, it’s America’s problem too. When poor villagers in Indonesia have no choice but to send chickens to market infected with avian flu, it cannot be seen as a distant concern. When religious schools in Pakistan teach hatred to young children, our children are threatened as well.

    Whether it’s global terrorism or pandemic disease, dramatic climate change or the proliferation of weapons of mass annihilation, the threats we face at the dawn of the 21st century can no longer be contained by borders and boundaries.

    The horrific attacks on that clear September day awakened us to this new reality. And after 9/11, millions around the world were ready to stand with us. They were willing to rally to our cause because it was their cause too – because they knew that if America led the world toward a new era of global cooperation, it would advance the security of people in our nation and all nations.

    My remarks concerning Obama's speech in 2007 can also be applied to President Obama's latest proclamations:

    While I do not minimize the (possibly) serious dangers of avian flu, it must be acknowledged that this is a novel justification of the notion that the U.S. must continue to maintain the greatest military in the history of the world, as Obama goes on to insist. It appears we must be able to invade, nuke or otherwise coerce every nation on earth into doing our bidding -- so that the world will be safe for healthy chickens. And here I had thought the Marx Brothers all were dead.

    This is the Open Door world carried to impossible, entirely unrealizable and ridiculous extremes. The door is not only open: the door and the entire structure in which it had been installed have been obliterated. The United States must be the global hegemon so that every human being eats well, is properly educated, and has a good job, until every society and culture is thriving and properly "democratic" in the form we alone will dictate, and until there is a (healthy) chicken in every pot.

    I also noted that this perspective seeks to "justify almost any intervention, anywhere, any time." Given the realities of our world at present, especially when coupled with the boundless, murderous determination of the U.S. ruling class, you can leave out "almost" from that phrase, and you will never need to apologize for the omission. For our governing class, the "right" of the United States to force everyone else to do our bidding, using whatever means they deem necessary regardless of how many people must die, is absolute -- for, as Obama and every other national politician who wields power regularly declare, "America is the last, best hope of Earth." And on Earth: "America is God. God's Will be done."

    Too many people still fail to appreciate that Obama and the ruling class in general believe this as sincerely as they believe anything. Moreover, they mean it -- and they will do whatever it takes to achieve their aims. You disbelieve these basic truths at your great peril, as millions of people around the world have tragically come to understand.
    "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."

    -Karl Marx's 1859 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

  15. #15
    Senior Member anaxarchos's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Hurricane Alley

    All Obama had to do was to throw a few crumbs...

    One or two...

    And Chlamor would be wandering around like an R.Crumb character: "The End is Near...."

    Chlams just got lucky. The fucker turns out to be far more arrogant than suspected. Obama gets a kick out of doin' it out in the open: "What are you gonna do about it?"

    Of course, a historic worldwide economic depression also contributed.

  16. #16


    Not a believer in it. Merely the residue of good design. Or in this case startin' with the AD-VISERS and their well worn tracks.

    Sad to say one actually didn't need much to go on here as it was all out in the open in the early days. Still can't believe the fervor and outright insanity which prevailed. I'll say it again, I've never seen so many people completely shut off their critical thinking skills and completely plug their ears.
    "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."

    -Karl Marx's 1859 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

  17. #17

    Running Dog Obama

    Running Dog Obama
    by Paul Street
    July 30, 2007

    Empire and Inequality Report, No, 24

    Barack Obama’s most recent attempt to prove his Harvard-certified safety to the doctrinal gatekeepers of the U.S. foreign policy establishment ought to make it clear once and for all that he is what the Maoists used to call a "running dog lackey of United States imperialism."


    I am referring to Obama’s July/August Foreign Affairs essay, titled “Renewing America’s Leadership” (Obama 2007).

    Reading as much like a campaign speech as an academic or policy document, this 5000-word article begins by praising Franklin Delano Roosevelt for “buil[ding] the most formidable military the world had ever known” and for giving “purpose to our struggle against fascism” with his “Four Freedoms.”

    It praises Harry Truman for “champion[ing] a bold new architecture to respond to the Soviet threat -- one that paired military strength with the Marshall Plan and helped secure the peace and well-being of nations around the world.”

    It commends Obama’s special historical role model John Fitzgerald Kennedy (JFK) for “moderniz[ing] our military doctrine, strengthen[ing] our conventional forces, and creat[ing] the Peace Corps and the Alliance for Progress” to “to show people everywhere America at its best” while “colonialism crumbled and the Soviet Union achieved effective nuclear parity.”

    “Our Struggle Against Fascism”

    Funny how Obama didn’t actually break-out the “Four Freedoms”: freedom of speech and expression, freedom from want, freedom from fear and freedom of worship. Maybe that’s because the United States policymakers from Roosevelt II through Kennedy (and beyond) regularly violated most of them in the enforcement of their particular imperial concept of the “national interest.” During the middle and late 1930s, US policymakers helped enable the rise of European fascism that culminated in Hitler’s march of terror. The US watched with approval as Fascist darkness set over Europe during the inter-war years. American policymakers saw Italian, Spanish, German and other strains of the European fascist disease as a welcome counters to “the Soviet threat” – essentially the demonstration Russia made of the possibilities for national modernization outside the capitalist world system – and to Left movements, parties and related social-democratic policy drifts within Western Europe.

    In 1937, Roosevelt’s U.S. State Department’s European Division argued that European fascism was compatible with America’s economic interests. This key diplomatic agency reported that fascism’s rise was a natural response of “the rich and middle classes” to the threat posed by “dissatisfied masses,” who, with the “the example of the Russian Revolution before them,” might “swing to the left.” Fascism, the State Department argued, “must succeed or the masses, this time reinforced by the disillusioned middle class, will again turn to the left.” The French Popular Front government of the middle 1930s was an example of the democratic socialist threat that made fascism acceptable to American officials before Hitler launched his drive for a New World Order.

    It is true that fascism became an avowed U.S. enemy during WWII. This did not occur, however, until fascism, holding power in two leading imperialist states, directly attacked U.S. interests. American policymakers intervened against fascism on the basis of perceived national self-interest, not out of any particular concern for the human rights of the French or, for that matter, European Jews or anyone else (Zinn 2003, pp. 407-410; Chomsky 1991, pp. 37-42).

    After the war, America’s accommodation of European and Asian fascism in the inter-war period became something of a model for U.S. Third World policy. In the name of resisting supposedly expansionist Soviet influence and anti-capitalism, the U.S. sponsored, funded, equipped, and provided political cover for numerous “Third World fascist” regimes. In doing so, it enlisted and protected numerous Nazi War criminals (e.g. Klaus Barbie) with anti-Left “counter-insurgency” skills deemed useful by “the Good War’s” victorious empire.

    “The Greatest Thing in History”

    The post-World War II era and the Cold War began with Truman’s perpetration of one of the greatest war crimes in history. He ordered the monumentally mass-murderous bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki well after U.S. authorities knew that Japan was decisively defeated and looking to surrender. He did so with full knowledge that the Japanese only required assurances that the institution of the Emperor could be permitted to remain intact – a condition he agreed to meet after but not before dropping the bombs. Upon learning about the destruction of Hiroshima, he remarked, “this is the greatest thing in history.” His decision to use the atom bomb was about advancing U.S. global power vis-Ă*-vis Russia and the rest of the world in the post-WWII era. It was not about saving American or Japanese lives (Alperovitz 1995).

    The Cold War Truman, Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations’ determination to use nuclear weapons as a tool of unilateral imperial advancement hatched a nuclear arms race that almost turned fatal in October of 1962. We are still living with the lethal consequences of that arms race, which could have been prevented if the U.S. had put atomic power to internationalist and multilateral instead of murderous and imperial use. The arch-Cold Warrior Kennedy was an especially dangerous transgressor. He rode into the White House partly on the transparently false “missile gap” campaign suggestion that the Eisenhower administration had “permitted” the Soviet Union to achieve nuclear parity with the U.S – a great deception that Obama revealingly embraces 47 years later.

    “Scaring the Hell Out of the American People”

    “Greatest Generation” U.S. planners and policy makers continued with the restoration of fascist power in “liberated” Italy and intervened for elite class rule and against popular social revolution in the Balkans. In proclaiming the militantly U.S.-globalist Truman Doctrine, the Truman administration smeared democratic struggles in Greece as a Soviet “Communist” export. It did this in order to “Scare the Hell out of the American people” so they would accept the permanent imperial re-militarization of U.S. society and policy – helping thereby to sustain and expand the powerful “military industrial complex” that Dwight Eisenhower left the White House warning Americans about.

    Consistent with that goal, Truman and two key members of his cabinet, including George Marshall “systematically deceived Congress and the public into thinking that the USSR was about to launch World Wear III with an invasion of Europe in 1948.” They did this, Frank Kofsky has shown, in order “to push through their foreign policy program, inaugurate a huge military buildup and bail out the near bankrupt airline industry” (Kofsky 1993).

    The Real “Soviet Threat”: Who Deterred Who?

    From the Truman Doctrine on, the basic Cold War pattern was set for the U.S. subversion of democracy and national independence across the planet. Some of the most egregious subsequent examples – the Bushcons did not invent “regime change” - came in Iran (CIA coup 1953), Guatemala (U.S.-sponsored and directed coup and military takeover 1954), Chile (U.S.-sponsored coup and military takeover, 1973), Indonesia (U.S. sponsored military takeover 1965) are just some of the more spectacular examples in a long list. Hundreds of thousands of peasants, workers, leftists and intellectuals paid with their lives for the U.S. campaign against independent development and social justice in the Third World.

    When Third World proxies were unavailable or inadequate for the task of “deterring democracy” (Chomsky 1991) in the Third World, U.S. forces intervened directly with massive assaults, as in Korea (1950-1954) and Vietnam (1962-1975). The latter assault, which killed 3 million Indochinese and destroyed Vietnam’s capacity for independent development beyond Western supervision (the point of the U.S. attack), was fundamentally “escalated from state terror to aggression” (Chomsky 1993, p.1) by the Kennedy administration

    Cuba was spared such direct U.S. intervention largely because the Soviet Union deterred the United States from launching a full-scale attack on the Cuban Revolution. Kennedy was forced to stand down from a planned invasion but continued to maintain major and provocative terrorist operations (under the guise of “Operation Mongoose”) in Cuba during and after the missile crisis of 1962 (Chomsky 2002, pp. 7-9). .

    In the U.S.-USSR Cold War relationship, it was the Soviets not the Americans who are most accurately described as the great power exercising deterrence against a globally ambitious other – a basic truth unmentionable outside officially marginal circles (Chomsky 1991, pp.9-68).

    Washington consistently justified its post-WWII record of global criminality with a great myth that Obama naturally embraces: the Soviet-“communist” campaign for world conquest. But honest U.S. assessments at the time acknowledged that the real Soviet danger was rather different. It was that the USSR modeled the possibility of independent national development beyond the parameters of U.S.-led world-capitalist supervision The actual "Soviet threat" arose not from any Soviet commitment to world revolution (long since abandoned with the defeat of Trotsky) but from “Marxist” Russia’s determination to follow its own path and its concomitant refusal “to complement the industrial economies of the West” (Chomsky 1991, p. 27).

    This refusal was a terrible example for the Third World, as far as leading Truman and Eisenhower planners like George Kennan and Dean Acheson – both warmly praised in past Obama publications and speeches (see for example Obama 2006, pp. 284, 304) – were concerned. The illusory Soviet quest for “world domination” and the related “domino theory” were always covers for the real specter haunting "Greatest Generation" planners in the post-WWII world: the danger that peripheral states would choose to follow their own autonomous road of development, outside and against the selfish, world-systemic needs of the state-capitalist core, run by and for the United States (Chomsky 1995, pp. 78-82, 91-93).

    “To Maintain This Position of Disparity”.

    To grasp some of the lovely “Four Freedoms” sentiment behind such supposedly benevolent U.S. Cold War policies as the sponsorship of vicious military dictatorships in Indonesia, Iran, Greece and Brazil (to name just a few U.S. “Free World” partners), we can consult an interesting formulation from Obama’s wise “Wilsonian” hero George Kennan (see Obama 2006, p, 284). As Kennan explained in Policy Planning Study 23, crafted for the State Department planning staff in 1948:

    “We have about 50 percent of the world’s wealth, but only 6.3 percent of its population…In this situation, we cannot fail to be the object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity…to do so we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and day-dreaming; and our attention will have to be concentrated everywhere on our immediate national objectives…We should cease to talk about vague and …unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards, and democratization. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are hampered by idealistic slogans, the better….we should not hesitate before police repression by the local government” (Quoted in Chomsky 1995, pp. 9-11)

    The Marshall Plan, the U.S. reconstruction project for the war-ravaged European core, was loaded with selfish imperial content. U.S. assistance was predicated on investment and purchasing rules that favored U.S.-based corporations and on the political marginalization of Left parties that had gained prestige leading the fight against fascist forces the U.S. had initially welcomed as counters to the European Left. The U.S. military stood ready to intervene directly in the event of Left electoral victories in Western Europe.

    Throughout the American “struggle against fascism” – a war won primarily by the workers, soldiers and peasants of the Soviet Union – U.S. planners worked behind the scenes to make sure that the U.S. would emerge as the unchallenged hegemon in the world investment and trading system (Zinn 2003, p. 413).

    In a similar vein, JFK’s Alliance for Progress was all about defeating the Cuban-inspired specter of Leftist and independent development and entrenching the power of U.S-sponsored oligarchs and militaries in Latin America. It never delivered on its false promises of significant land reform and economic development for the Latin American people (Miroff 1976, pp. 110-142).

    Yes, by all means, let us hail FDR, Harry Hiroshima Truman, and JFK and their magnificent contributions to “the peace and well-being of nations around the world.”


    Does if it matter if Obama whitewashes past imperial U.S. violence and propaganda? Of course it does. Those who forget, delete, deny or condone past imperial (and other) crimes and deceptions are likely to commit and justify new such deadly transgressions in the future if they attain the power to do so. You can learn a lot about what a policymaker and politician will do in the present and future by knowing his or her take on the all-too living past.

    “To Leave Iraq a Better Place”

    As it happens, Obama’s Foreign Affairs article contains more than dubious historical reflection to feed suspicions that he (like Hillary and perhaps John Edwards – see Street 2007a and Street 2007b) can be expected to fulfill Maoist expectations if he reaches the imperial throne. Moving from the supposedly glorious post-WWII past he wants to restore (“we can be [Kennedy’s] America again” he says) to the shameful present, when an especially clumsy and stubborn Republican administration has dropped the ball of Empire. Obama criticizes fellow Harvard graduate George W. Bush for “respond[ing] to the unconventional attacks of 9/11 with conventional thinking of the past, largely viewing problems as state-based and principally amenable to military solutions. It was this tragically misguided view,” Obama claims, “that led us into a war in Iraq that never should have been authorized and never should have been waged.”

    Obama rips the White House for trying to “impose a military solution on a civil war between Sunni and Shiite factions."

    "The best chance we have to leave Iraq a better place,” Obama says, “is to pressure these warring parties to find a lasting political solution.” He argues that “only Iraqi leaders can bring real peace and stability to their country.” “We must make it clear we seek no permanent military bases in Iraq,” Obama ads.

    Too bad the Cheney-Bush administration did not invade Iraq in “response” to 9/11 or to “leave Iraq a better place.” It exploited the “unconventional attacks” to launch an illegal, one-sided and state-based war of colonial occupation – long sought by neoconservative Bush insiders –to deepen U.S. control over Iraq and the Middle East’s stupendous, strategically hyper-significant energy resources. It was the longstanding and bipartisan petro-imperialist ambitions of our foreign policymaking class that “led us” into the war.

    Those ambitions and that “war” had and have nothing to do with improving Iraqi’s lives and have predictably deepened the crisis of Iraqi “life” – a long-running catastrophe the U.S. has been fueling since at least the 1980s. The occupation has involved the building of a large number of in fact permanent military bases that an Obama (or a Hillary Clinton or Edwards or Richardson) presidency would never dismantle, as is suggested by the Senator’s claim that he would maintain an “over-the-horizon military force in the region to protect American personnel and facilities” inside Iraq.

    Too bad Obama’s superficially generous statement that Iraqi leaders alone can stabilize and pacify their country deletes the uncomfortable fact that the U.S. assault is the main force that has torn Iraqi apart and generated a civil war that has often been fanned quite directly by U.S. occupation authorities. Also lost in Obama’s translation is the elementary moral fact that the U.S. owes Iraq massive reparations – to be configured and used in accord with the Iraqis’ needs.

    “This Enemy Operates Globally”

    Obama praises “our servicemen and servicewomen” for “perform[ing] admirably while sacrificing immeasurably.” Then he vilifies Islamic jihadists who “reject modernity, oppose America, and distort Islam” and who have “killed and mutilated tens of thousands of people just this decade. Because this enemy operates globally,” he observes it must be confronted globally.”

    Too bad the illegal U.S. wars against Iraq and Afghanistan (Obama and other leading Democrats never criticize the latter colonial operation) have killed HUNDREDS of thousands of innocent Arab, Pashtun and other Southwest Asian civilians, helping explain why millions of Middle Eastern and Muslim people “oppose America[‘s]” Islam-distorting assault and support defensive jihad against Washington’s imperial invaders, policies, and structures.

    With over 700 military bases located in nearly every nation on earth and a “defense” budget that accounts for roughly half the world’s military spending, the United States seems to most of the world’s population to be the relevant “enemy” who “operates globally.”

    And it’s too bad that "our" troops’ “admirable performance” in service to Bush’s imperial mission has involved shocking racist and imperial violence against civilians. As Chris Hedges and Laila Al-Arian report in the July 30th edition of The Nation, the occupation is “a dark and depraved enterprise, one that bears a powerful resemblance to other misguided and brutal colonial wars and occupations, from the French occupation of Algeria to the American war in Vietnam and the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory.”

    Many of fifty U.S. occupation veterans interviewed by Hedges and Al-Arian have “returned home deeply disturbed by the disparity between the reality of the war and the way it is portrayed by the U.S. government and media.” By returning GIs’ account, the war on the ground includes the gratuitous killing and torture of Iraqi civilians, including children. The invasion involves the routine “indiscriminate” application of U.S. force and numerous “disturbing patterns of behavior by American troops.”

    “I guess while I was there [in Iraq],” one returning occupation soldier (Jeff Englehart, former Specialist, Third Brigade, First U.S. Army Infantry Division) told Hedges and Al-Arian, “ the general attitude was ‘ a dead Iraqi is just another dead Iraqi. You know, so what?”

    Numerous veterans “described reckless firing once they left their compounds. Some shot holes into cans of gasoline being sold along the roadside and then tossed grenades into the pools of gas to set them ablaze. Others opened fire on children. These shootings often enraged Iraqi witness es.”

    “We heard a few reports, in one case corroborated by photographs,” Hedges and Al-Arian report, “that some soldiers had so lost their moral compasses that they mocked or desecrated Iraqi civilian corpses.”

    Twenty four veterans “said they had witnessed or heard stories from those in their unit of unarmed civilians being shot or run over by convoys. These incidents were so numerous that many were never reported.”

    The killing of “unarmed Iraqis” is “so common many of the troops said it became an accepted part of the daily landscape.”

    Several interviewees told Hedges and Al-Arian of cases where U.S. soldiers would “plant AK-47s” next to the bodies of unarmed Iraqis they had butchered “to make it seems as if the civilian dead were combatants” (Hedges and Al-Arian 2007)

    “Mom, we killed women on the street today,” one U.S. soldier recently reported from Iraq. “We killed kids on bikes” (Urbina 2007).

    If such savage criminality (ultimately traceable to top decision-makers in Washington) is what comes out of the United States’ purportedly advanced culture of “modernity,” we should not be mystified if many Middle Eastern people might wish for a pre-“modern” time when the region might be free of Americia's supposed civilizing mission.

    The Middle East’s “Only Established Democracy”

    Obama calls for the U.S. to “focus our attention and influence on the festering conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians -- a task that the Bush administration neglected for years. “Our starting point,” Obama says, “must always be a clear and strong commitment to the security of Israel, our strongest ally in the region and its only established democracy.”

    Too bad the increasingly militarized and regressive Israeli “democracy,” whose “security” is Obama’s declared first priority (“starting point”), rests on the racist, U.S.-protected occupation of Arab/Palestinian land – an occupation the American U.S. foreign policy establishment deeply supports.

    The False Specter of “Isolationism”

    Voicing an especially recurrent theme of his (see Obama 2006, pp. 303-304; Obama 2006a), Obama cautions Americans against becoming so disillusioned by Bush II’s foreign policy that they fall into the dangerous clutches of "isolationism." “After thousands of lives lost and billions of dollars spent,” Obama says, “many Americans may be tempted to turn inward and cede our leadership in world affairs. But this,” the junior Senator from Illinois warns, “is a mistake we must not make. America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, and the world cannot meet them without America.”

    Never mind that Americans are not veering towards isolationism. They support neither aggressive unilateral U.S. imperialism nor isolationism but an enlightened and democratic internationalism that honors international law and shows respect for the wishes of others (see for example Chicago Council on Foreign Relations 2004).

    It is interesting that Obama measures the Iraq War body count in the “thousands” while accusing Islamo-terrorists of “killing and maiming tens of thousands.” His use of the word “thousands” means that he sees imperial U.S. troops as the only mention-worthy victims in the Iraq War. He deletes the hundreds of thousands of Arabs who have lost their lives in “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Those deaths – like those of the one million or so Iraqis George Bush I and the “recognizably progressive if modest” (Obama 2006, pp. 34-35) Bill Clinton killed with “economic sanctions” during the 1990s – provide critical context for understanding why millions of Muslims and Middle Easterners “oppose America.”


    Obama’s Foreign Affairs article gives people and states beyond U.S. borders strong reasons to fear the prospect of a United States with running dog Obama at the helm. “The American moment is not over, but it must be seized anew,” Obama proclaims, adding that “we must lead the world by deed and by example” and “must not rule out using military force” in pursuit of “our vital interests.”

    The last three words harken back to another Democratic imperialist’s “Carter Doctrine” (which updated the Monroe Doctrine for the global petro-capitalist era to include the Persian Gulf region in the United States’ inviolable sphere of special interest and unilateral action) and are a code phrase for other nations' oil, located primarily in the Middle East.

    “A strong military,” Obama says, “is, more than anything, necessary to sustain peace,” echoing George Orwell’s fictional totalitarian state of Oceana, which proclaimed that “War is Peace” and “Love is Hate.”

    We must “revitalize our military” (to foster peace), Obama declares, partly by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 to the Marines.

    Do not rule out future overseas occupations carried out in the name of the “war on terror” by an Obama White House. “We must retain the capacity to swiftly defeat any conventional threat to our country and our vital interests,” Obama pronounces. “But we must also become better prepared to put boots on the ground in order to take on foes that fight asymmetrical and highly adaptive campaigns on a global scale.”

    Reassuring the bipartisan imperialist establishment that he will not be hamstrung by international law and civilized norms when “our vital interests” (other peoples’ petroleum, primarily) are "at stake," Obama says that “I will not hesitate to use force unilaterally, if necessary, to protect the American people or our vital interests wherever we are attacked or imminently threatened.”

    Prepare to take cover, if you can, subject peoples of the oil-rich periphery!

    And do not rule out pre-emptive and even so-called preventive wars with Obama at the helm. “We must also consider using military force in circumstances beyond self-defense,” the junior Senator who would be Emperor declares, “in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability -- to support friends, participate in stability and reconstruction operations, or confront mass atrocities.”

    Sound familiar?
    "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."

    -Karl Marx's 1859 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

  18. #18

    There are all kinds of "left" and "liberal" Obama supporters

    By Street, Paul

    Boyd - In my experience there are a good # of people on the "liberal-left" who aren''t detached from reality about Obama at all but who I find just as disdainful of the basic left criticisms offered here as any deluded Ga Ga for Obama type. I know a few people like this. With them its not delusion or lack of understanding of basic centrist realities about Obama but rather (a) despair and (in some cases) (b) a particularly unattractive and (for me anyway) nasueating cynicism about ordinary peoples' capacity to resist power in any kind of relevant way. I know some folks in this (b) category. Some common threads among them are: possession of advanced professional/academic degrees; a sense of being too educated/intelligent for ordinarypeople and the broader horrific society they inhabit; substance abuse; prior histories in campus-based Sixties and Seventies movements and anger at their collapse; pathologically contrarian and hyper-individualistic attitudes in various areas of life; depression; a sense of self-righteousness about their glorious vote for a black candidate; an exaggerated sense that ordinary white people could not have any relevant issues with the Obama W.H. that aren't basically about racism; a sense that it doesn't matter to do elementary due-diligence research on Obama's policies because facts don't matter anyway in this culture (they lean towards "post-modernist: nihilism). Now this last characteristic does push them toward detachment, I guess, because if you get too cynical and lazy to do the basic work of researching what Empire's New Clothes (Obama) is really all about (he's EXACTLY about what a dedicated cadre of left analysts like Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon and John Pilger and I have been saying for years now), then you do in fact become ignorant of basic realities.

    There are all kinds of "left" and "liberal" Obama supporters --- one underestimated group among them is the Cynics. a group that overlaps with the despondent.

    I go back and forth on how to respond to Obama's "left fans." I started off acerbic and biting and that didn;t work out all that well. I went to polite and understanding and that worked for a bit and then faded.

    Now I'm just honestly confronting folks with things like "so how many more innocent kids have to get blown up in Afghanistan by U.S. bombs before you'll think about scraping that Obama sticker off the back of your car" or "Hey, I see you've got a 'Union Yes' sticker and an Obama sticker on your car over there. What you think about what happened to the Employee Free Choice Act? Think he'll ever open up NAFTA for re-negotiation? How about that auto-bailout?"

    Now I'm going to start wokring on the environmentalist Obama-defenders I know with ammo from the St.Clair and Frank piece I cited intyhe previous comment..

    Maybe the attitude to take to a lot of these creepy Obama folks is the one that Malcom X took towarrds Dr. King: use shame and mockery to push them left.

    But then it isn't just or mainly about "Obama;" of course, it's also and more fundemtnally about the dominant order's success in getting people to define "politics" as being only about these big quadrennial candidate-centered election spectales/rituals/extravaganzas instead of being about day-to -day grassroots struggles for justice, peace, democracy etc.
    "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."

    -Karl Marx's 1859 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

  19. #19

    Worst part

    Wright was great, wish he'd been out there even more, he didn't take any shit either

  20. #20

    Obama 'Bottles Up' Torture Probes

    Obama 'Bottles Up' Torture Probes

    July 2, 2009

    The Obama administration is moving to “bottle up” the pressure for exacting accountability from ex-President George W. Bush and his subordinates for their policy of torturing detainees in U.S. custody, says Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

    Ratner says President Barack Obama has presented increasing resistance to releasing relevant documents and his administration has shown no sign that it is willing to fulfill the U.S. government’s duty to prosecute officials responsible for torturing “war on terror” detainees.

    “This administration is doing everything it can to bottle up and cover over any kind of look at the torture program.” Ratner said, but he noted that international pressure continues to build.

    For instance, Ratner noted that UN human rights advocate Navi Pillay recently said senior officials implicated in torture must be held accountable if a nation is to be considered civilized.
    "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their existence, but their social existence that determines their consciousness."

    -Karl Marx's 1859 Preface to the Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy

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