Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
August 28, 2008

Billmon: Really Proud

Maybe the old lie that anyone can grow up to be president is still just that -- an old lie. But now we know that any child (man child at least) can grow up and become the presidential candidate of one of the country's two main political parties -- because the Democrats just proved it. (And eight years from now, I hope the party extends that same promise to every child, not just to those of us who are gender-challenged.) 

But, one giant step at a time. Some months back Michelle Obama reportedly said that for the first time in her life, she was really proud of her country. I don't know if she actually said that, or if she did what she meant by it -- personally, I think anyone who is really proud of a country (any country) should be in a psych ward, not the White House.

I guess I can understand the emotion, though. Because for the first time I can remember -- or at least since the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Richard Nixon -- I'm really, really proud to be a Democrat.       
Billmon: Really Proud

Note to new readers at Moon of Alabama. You may wonder why we have threads on Billmon posts here. The MoA About page explains the relation.

Posted by b on August 28, 2008 at 9:11 UTC | Permalink

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The rise and fall, and rise again of the fortunes of political parties is legion. I too was once proud to be a member in good standing of New Labour here in Britain. Look at it now. Political parties have a way of imitating species in the natural world. They rise to prominence, they take over and then gradually assume the rôle of just another species along with the others in the continuous struggle for survival. Making compromises and adjustments out of all proportion to their original purpose of transforming the environment out of which they had only yesterday so hopefully emerged. It is neither a sell out nor a disappointment. It is the nature of the beast.

Posted by: Spyware | Aug 28 2008 10:50 utc | 1

From the political stand-point, it makes a lot of sense to have Hilary Clinton speak at the convention. But her race-baiting conduct during the primaries diminishes all of us, especially because she was one "from who so much is expected"

Beyond the shamelessness & lack of grace of her doings, the political reality that allows her to get away with it is nevertheless a betrayal of African-Americans and much moreso, a betrayal of women, particularly White women. But women will have to decide if she is a role model, if she is an inspiration for future women leaders aspiring to higher office. And surely, many women have already made that decision.

Note that the Republican party punishes its members who cross non-negotiable political lines far more more harshly than the Democrats ever do. And as Billmon hints, the real question is not whether an African-American can become president but whether a Democrat with a spine who's willing to fight back can win.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 28 2008 11:07 utc | 2

I'm registered independent but this is also what I feel. Win or lose, we've crossed a threshold. It's a huge step.

Posted by: beq | Aug 28 2008 11:29 utc | 3

Billmon has said the nicest things he can say at this point about the Democratic Party, at the Democrat's high point in this year's election.

He may gush today, but he will be disappointed in due course at how hollow the Dem's performance will be from this point.

The long and steady barrage of Democratic betrayals to our Constitution, our population, our future generations, and the world at large since 2000 is not in any way repaired, nor do the Democrats offer even a pledge to undo their relentless, bipartisan support of the neocon agenda.

The only thing that would make me proud of the Democratic Party is if they would impeach the criminals they share the government with. I'll feel something other than sick fear and nausea at the Democratic Party when they turn back from the insane course they've pursued without cease or shame or conscience these past seven years.

But they won't. They helped get America to where it is right now, and they will not turn America away from war and empire.

That's nothing to be proud of, now or ever.

Posted by: Antifa | Aug 28 2008 11:37 utc | 4

What Billmon is gushing about, and let's face it, that's gushing for him, is the pinnacle of success of the campaign by the plutocracy to pacify and incapacitate any shred of progressive reform in the U.S. For starters, it's a blasphemy to label Obama an African American. Sure, his father was an African, but he was never an American. His mother was Caucasian, and Obama was raised by his Caucasian grandparents. So, culturally speaking, Obama has not truly lived the African American experience. His parents were not the descendents of slaves, and he was raised outside the culture. And you know what, it shows. He's perfectly suited for the liberal vote. The following is tongue in cheek for those who don't understand satire. He's so articulate for a black man, and so intelligent. He doesn't mumble like Jessie Jackson or talk jive like Al Sharpton.

Of course, many, if not all black folks will vote for him because of the symbolism Billmon gushes on about. It won't matter that the symbolism is mere projection, and that when the veil is pulled back, there resides yet another establishment pawn. It's masterful, you must admit, and actually quite riddled with plutocratical hubris. The plutocracy seems to be thumbing their nose at us, once again. The guy's name alone is an in your face joke. As others have mentioned, you can't make shit like that up. He was tapped long ago for this, and I'm sure they got a huge laugh at the time, and continue to laugh to this day, that they can pawn off this transparent trojan horse on a completely unwitting, uncritically accepting, somnambulant liberal voting block.

Posted by: Barry | Aug 28 2008 12:10 utc | 5

Bravo! and well said Antifa...

I was disappointed in billmons essay, because he is one whom can often expose the cancer within like a surgeon with scalpel... I'm almost positive I've read him castigate the dems for being complicit, not merely spineless. What a let down to see him soften.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2008 12:10 utc | 6

on preview, ditto barry,

welcome to Moon... what's your poison? My treat.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2008 12:14 utc | 7

Some months back Michelle Obama reportedly said that for the first time in her life, she was really proud of her country. I don't know if she actually said that, or if she did what she meant by it -- personally, I think anyone who is really proud of a country (any country) should be in a psych ward, not the White House.

She meant what she said--that she's proud of her country, just as Billmon is proud of his party, for being a political scene where a person of color could be nominated as a major party candidate for the Presidency.

Is she ashamed of her country's actions in Iraq? Quite possible not--or not to the degree that she can't still feel "really proud," and "for the first time in her life," of her country. And reasonably so, given the context of someone whose people have been treated as slaves for almost four hundred years by their fellow countrymen (or fellow citizens). In her eyes, America's crimes abroad must seem very slight indeed.

We of the anti-war movement have always had to understand that our priorities are those of a minority much smaller than other minorities, and that our influence on public affairs is correspondingly slight. We are, in our own way, the "niggers" of American politics: Americans, slighted and humiliated by our fellow countrymen, who would feel "really proud" of our country if it could just learn to put down the sword and lift the ploughshare.

If, over a period of four hundred years, a country can modify its racism in this way (and to this extent), might it not modify its imperialism in the same way (and to this extent) over a correspondingly long period of time?

If I didn't think the answer were yes, then I would certainly renounce my citizenship. And I don't for a minute suppose that such a national transformation would eliminate war: to improve the ways of a community, in my view, is a realistic goal, and essential to the life of that community (and to its right to survive). To change human nature is absolutely out of the question, and the person who hopes and intends to do so really does belong, as Billmon puts it, in a "psych ward".

Posted by: alabama | Aug 28 2008 12:28 utc | 8

Yes, Antifa, I agree entirely. Nothing much to be proud of with the Democratic gang. They helped get America to where it is right now, and they will not turn America away from war and empire.

Being "really, really proud to be a Democrat" at this point in history, black guy or no black guy, does tend to produce extreme nausea.

This is why Billmon doesn't drink around here anymore.

Posted by: DM | Aug 28 2008 12:35 utc | 9


Mostly I enjoy your posts. Almost always well measured and worthy of serious consideration.

But - you must be joking! You will give your country the benefit of the doubt, and hope that they will mend their recalcitrant ways within the next four hundred years! Wow, Americans really are exceptional. I hope all these sand-niggers with M16 bullet holes in their brain are appreciative of just how well Americans have mended their racist ways in the last four hundred years.

Posted by: DM | Aug 28 2008 12:55 utc | 10

But there are loyalties that go deeper than policies, deeper than ideas, deeper, even, than folly and cowardice. When I turn on the TV and see the crowd at a Democratic National Convention -- black and white and every shade in between, Anglo and Hispanic, gay and straight, old and young, Jew and gentile, I know somewhere deep down in my gut that those are my people, the Americans that I want to be my fellow Americans.

Maybe that emotional loyalty is why I've never quite been able to throw in my lot with the Greens or the Democratic Socialists or Ralph Nader (in the latter case it also helps that the guy is a complete asshole), even though their beliefs and positions are probably closer to mine than the Democratic Party's will ever be, even in the Glorious People's Republic of Obamastan.

I would say it is because the Democrats can tap into this emotional loyalty of group identification that they can run business-as-usual candidates successfully. And the problem is not the lack of spine but that they are beholden to moneyed interest and puts them first. Lacking spine is just a handy excuse. "I have to vote like my corporate sponsors want me to, otherwise the evil republicans will beat me up and take my lunch. But come election day, vote for me and not the evil republican, come on - you can identify with me!"

Still, it is a big day of sorts and as The Therapy Sisters put it in Let's Put a Rich White Guy in the White House, eventually "we will have a rich brown guy in the Casablanca".

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Aug 28 2008 13:15 utc | 11

Less obvious than the race issue is the shift, at least in rhetoric, manifest in the critique of the repugs. Ideological, extreme, right wing is not a description we would have heard in a critique from a Bill Clinton, who after all was not all that distant from republicans in economic orthodoxy. The shift in the constituency is far more than what the party is offering and it would appear and they are beginning to catch up.

Posted by: YY | Aug 28 2008 13:59 utc | 12

Disclaimer: The following may un-intentionally appear to be a defense or advocation of Obama

It won't matter that the symbolism is mere projection, and that when the veil is pulled back, there resides yet another establishment pawn. It's masterful, you must admit, and actually quite riddled with plutocratical hubris. The plutocracy seems to be thumbing their nose at us, once again. The guy's name alone is an in your face joke. As others have mentioned, you can't make shit like that up. He was tapped long ago for this, and I'm sure they got a huge laugh at the time, and continue to laugh to this day, that they can pawn off this transparent trojan horse on a completely unwitting, uncritically accepting, somnambulant liberal voting block.

Nice read but were talking about a guy whose a grass-roots organizer in his quite recent life, comes from nowhere with a bunch of obscure aides & they put together the most creative & efficient political campaign in USA history, with never before tried fund-raising & awareness approaches that tap into every available channel including the internet, texting, door-to-door, and in the process have raised close to a half-billion dollars --- far more than anyone else ever

??? and a light bulb explodes in my head ---

The plutocracy is no way close to being this smart & has never been. Is Obama is a stooge or will he be one ? Its too soon to tell. He may yet become a stooge or maybe somewhat stoogish. But the one thing thats clear is that the plutocracy would never ever trust someone as off-beat creative as he has proven himself, to be their stooge. And if they were all that smart, they would not need to.

politicians are creatures & servants of their privilege and they are scared to death of having their skeletons outed. But this man from nowhere, Obama, pens a best-seller book (by his own hand) describing his past indiscretions and as a result indemnifying himself.

if the plutocracy were this smart, we are in a whole lot more trouble than we can even begin to imagine.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 28 2008 14:15 utc | 13

B Clinton at the convention:

"Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world,"
When will this ever stop? Nobody in "the world" is asking for US American leadership of global affairs, how long does it take those dildos in the Democratic Party to get that into their buff-heads? Leading the US should keep them busy enough, but no, it has to be the world. No mandate, but wanting to lead all of mankind, delusions of grandeur.

And whats this thing with being proud to be a Democrat, or American? Like being proud of Phelps gold medals, meaningless. In my books pride grows on achievements, and apart from Phelps and his trainer its hard for me to see how anybody else can get pride out of his swims. Same with the notion of pride in being from a particular country, say America or Germany, where is the personal achievement that would allow for this self-esteem?

Since when is joining a mainstream party an accomplishment, especially one largely made up of seemingly spineless enablers whose performance is, to quote former Australian PM Paul Keating, like being flogged with a warm lettuce?

Without wanting to offend, and I appreciate that almost any candidate the Dems could field would probably be better than the current administration or McCain, but Billmon and his fellow misty eyed Obama supporters pride in having a black male as their party's presidential nominee is on par with feeling proud to be part of the Republican team, coz it was them who had the first black woman as Sec of State.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Aug 28 2008 14:16 utc | 14

jony_b_cool #13:

if the plutocracy were this smart, we are in a whole lot more trouble than we can even begin to imagine.


Posted by: plushtown | Aug 28 2008 14:30 utc | 15

aside from the irony of the DNC being held at the Pepsi center it dawned on me last night, wonder if the RNC will be at the Cargill and Coke building in Minneapolis Saint Paul? But realistically enough it's not, they, The Republican National Committee has chosen the Xcel Energy Center for it's theater and whoring. How appropriate is that?

Anyway, my feelings of the Pepsi or Coke party aside, Amy Goodman's DemocracyNow! interviewed Nader this AM and though I'll never vote for him again, everything he said today I more than agreed with, especially the stranglehold of the 1987 debate committee keeping it just between our very own Cyon Orthus tour of chasing it's own tail on stage. What a show! Catch this two city tour!

High lights from the warm up band of party A...

despite being complicit in this catastrophic foreign policy, John McCain says Barack Obama is not ready to protect our national security.

Now, let me ask you this: Whose judgment do you trust?

Should you trust the judgment of John McCain, when he said only three years ago, "Afghanistan, we don't read about it anymore in papers because it succeeded"?

Or should you believe Barack Obama who said a year ago, "We need to send two more combat battalions to Afghanistan"?

The fact of the matter is, al Qaeda and the Taliban, the people who actually attacked us on 9/11

Wait! complicit? COMPLICIT? so the dems had nothing to do w/ it eh? and wasn't it mostly Saudi's who attacked us? these DEMOCRAT fuckers have twisted the truth so much and for so long it doesn't even look like a compete lie so much as full excursion into insanity.

Fuck Obomba bi den, what the fuck is wrong with you billmon?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2008 14:35 utc | 16

Antifa seems to see it, but still, I don't think many here see Billmon's point. He knows the future will bring disillusionment, disappointment, that disgusting things are ahead. He perfectly knows that this is just one ephemereal moment of grace that will soon fade. He's been there before.
As Antifa said, Billmon has said the nicest thing he'll probably ever say about the Dems for the next months, if not the next 4 years, and that it'll be mostly downhill from now on. I don't see anything in his post that would lead me to believe he's not fully aware of it, or even he's drunken the kool-aid.
I think this post is there mostly to show that a few times, in the middle of complete darkness, there could be a few light moments. And these moments are short-lived and the hope and joy don't last, yet they're all we've left when fighting the creeping dark, all that can keep us from total and definitive despair, all that can push us to fight back - without them, we would just let it be and let the whole world go to hell.
Of course, for many people - notably here around -, it's other things that do it.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 28 2008 14:40 utc | 17

sorry if this sounds retarded but a lot of people got off their couch and came out to vote for Obama but nobody voted for Phelps or Condi

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 28 2008 14:43 utc | 18

a people can be forgiven their carnivals of self fascination, the americans are not unique in this but they make of it at once a political strategy & business

what cannot be forgiven however that this carnival is bathed in blood. the blood of the people of iraq, of afghanistan, of pakistan - the blood of others. there is of course the blood of their own sons & daughters

i had tears last night for very different reasons than our blessed annie & billmon. i cried for those people in the audience who believed yet one more illussion, one more deceit - that things will change. they won't. history teaches us that empires do not give away their power peacefully. it has to be taken from them. the same is true of this empire

there were the small mercies that for the first time in 8 years you can hear people speak - who can speak whole sentences. that can speak as humans do. not the grunting, cackling or roaring & whining of the republican - & not babygaga like evildoers, folks etc etc. unfortunate their ability to be articulate does not cover that these very people have either beein initiators, enablers or completely complicit in the project of the empire & all the bloody consequencesj

i think the american people at heart are humanist & are to the left of their leaders - witness here at this site, the massive participation of our american brothers & sisters but the country as a whole rests profoundly racist to the core & that will not dissapear overnight & is at the very centre of their capacity to destroy the cultures & life of south east asian, africans & now those of the middle east

i cried last night when i saw older black men & women want to believe what they , more than any other segment of the population know to be true - that u s power is at its base - evil & is only capable of reproducing evil

& the media while being characters in the marx brothers 'duck soup' spreas their mendacity to levels that would even make that old fascist walter winchell blush - they represent the fanaticism of self satisfation - their arrogance is unbearable - & hopefully if i was a simple citizen of montana or of new jersey they would make me ashamed, deeply ashamed

& tho they us streaming - it was no mistake - that the army people represented at the convention never saw the light of day except in spielbergs mawky sentimentalism. a real opposition to the illegal & immoral wars cannot be seen - even today & even when they represent ony a quantitative difference from the monsters who bomb the 'other' in the night when they to dream of different destines

destined doomed to be extinguished

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 14:58 utc | 19

yeah, there is absolutely nothing to be proud of in the Dem camp. Billmon's gushing is probably best understood by the generational context he gave, the tiring "we've come so far." fine.

but while the bullshit theatrics and self-congratulating corporate cocksuckers waste precious time with empty rhetoric, the police state moves forward with cross-jurisdictional intelligence gathering fusion centers and cages set up in a warehouse that was deemed unsuitable for storing voting machines because of a lack of ventilation: perfect for stashing those pesky protestors who aren't fooled by this corporate funded pony show.

the reality of the criminally corrupt political duopoly and its nefarious global imposition is too harsh for most amerikans to internalize, so we continually allow ourselves to be mesmerized by shiny surfaces instead of digging a little to discover the systematic rot that lurks just beneath.

it's not, though, the politicians that are ultimately the problem, but the people's willful ignorance. it seems we'll con ourselves into believing any flimsy lie as long as it ensures the illusion of national solvency continues unblemished.

Obama is a dangerous chance for amerika to feel good about itself: see, we used to hang your kind from trees for the crows, but look at this articulate token we're propping up for you, amerika. LOOK HOW FAR WE'VE COME!!!

the only problem is the rest of the world knows exactly how far we've come, and neither corporate parrot is capable of moderating the empire at this point, and even if they could, few amerikans would want to see our global position diminished.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 28 2008 15:29 utc | 20

Not to sound a sour note but, woe is me, so much dissolution and despair with the American party political system. The Democrats in particular. But, what if none of you posting here decided to vote on Polling Day? Presently the turnout in a presidential election hovers somewhere around 50%. Or maybe even less. So, you don’t vote. The other guys do and their guy gets “elected”. If the no vote option becomes wide spread it won’t take more than a generation for it to fall to probably a 80% of those eligible to vote who don’t bother to go to the polls. The result—would it be any different with what you’ve already got? A packed Supreme Court appointing the president. A supine Democrat congress. A wanabe Democrat candidate (not to mention those up for election in the Senate and House) talking out of both sides of his mouth at the same time. As Nader said, there is only one party in the U.S.. It’s called the Business Party and any candidate for any office of whatever party label who doesn’t toe their line just won’t get past the door. Give it a rest. Last time round it was the turn of the Republican-Republican candidate. This time it’s the turn of the Republican-Democrat. They take it in turns. It’s the way the system works.

Posted by: Spyware | Aug 28 2008 15:32 utc | 21

Spyware: what exactly is your point?

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 28 2008 15:46 utc | 22

Billmon, is very smart.

He knows that the Dem pols including Obama will disappoint everyone as soon as they are elected.

The liberal interventionists around Obama will at the first possible moment "take some small crappy country and throw it against the wall so everybody notes we mean business." The Democratic congress will continue to take away liberties and to screw the poor and will love their good relations with this AND that lobby.

The Dems are again moving to the right and therefore it is possible that many of the young and more liberal folks, even DKos readers, will not vote at all.

Billmon also knows that there is a real danger that McCain might win and that then things could get much worse very fast.

Seeing that situation what is Billmon to do?

a. Use his talent and fame to rally everybody to vote for the party that is less worse?
b. Rally against the Dems for their terrible and behavior and their lies and help McCain win?
c. Slip into depression and helplessness?

He chooses a. Good choice, Billmon.

Posted by: b | Aug 28 2008 15:51 utc | 23

I forgot if I said it here or at some other place like News Group Blog. Whatever. For me, it's quite simple. The next US president will be in the exacte same position as Gorbachov was in 1985. He will have over the next 8 years, against his will and desire, to overview the disintegration of the US empire and the vanishing of US power at large. Or he might choose the flight forward, which can only lead to nuclear warfare and possibly, if not probably, nuclear holocaust for most of mankind.

We can guess what McCain would do; it's fairly obvious by now.
We don't know what Obama would do. He's the last hope - not the last best hope of a bright and glorious future for the world, or for the USA, but the last hope for the US to survive as a nation, and not a bankrupt failed state or even a smoldering radioactive ruin.
The sad point is that I don't know if we have any other option left ahead. For now, we mostly can hope Obama won't act like a complete lunatic, but rather like a responsible human being and head of state. We have to hope that at the end of the day he'll be able to see that the US could be just another major power on Earth, and not the might hegemon of the known universe, and live with it - and that he can lead the country this way (which actually could be far more difficult than Obama seeing the light). If he's not, we're pretty much fucked and this century will go on deeper and deeper into the darker abyss of history.
I fear that it's only when the US will be in a position like post-WWII and post-Suez UK that people might have a chance of having a decent party to vote for.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Aug 28 2008 16:07 utc | 24

in my discussions w/ my african comrades on the u.s. election i am continuously reprimanded as not being sensitive enough to the cultural significance of obama's presidential nomination. while i pretty much agree w/ barry's (#5) analysis on the use of that symbolism for marketing purposes & controlling dissent and i try to make sure others take that into consideration when forming their understandings, i cannot deny, as one struggling to always be aware of how my white perspective/privilege shapes/limits my outlook, that there are factors involved which i will never truly be able to relate to. few of those friends actually expect obama to offer real political change or to deter imperialist foreign policy, but the very fact that he is not a ruddy whitefella provides an immense hope to many that transcends the arena of professional politics. and the implications of what that can/may translate into is where the real symbolic importance will bear fruit.

Posted by: b real | Aug 28 2008 16:07 utc | 25

indeedy... b, @#23

Cthulhu for President! Why vote for a lesser evil? Cthulhu 2008

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2008 16:11 utc | 26

Yeah, Uncle $cam, fuck you too. Billmon reaches for the positive instead of sneering from behind cynicism. Obama IS a good person. Obama WILL be a great president. Obama WILL turn America around.
You're a political chickenhawk $cam, and I'll enjoy watching you and all the other cynics that comment here eat fucking crow.

Posted by: waldo | Aug 28 2008 16:17 utc | 27

i think it is huge. huge, humongous. i hate racism. the nomination of obama breaks a glass ceiling. it doesn't matter that he or the democratic party are massively flawed. this says more about the evolvement of our common human nature than it says about either the candidate or the party. when i think about it makes a lump in my throat.

all my/your criticisms, everythimg and anything any one says about him or the party doesn't take that lump away. someday maybe, we as humans will be colorblind and won't that be a glorious day. we are one step closer to that goal. it is not going to end war or suffering, it is not putting an end the power of the elite and corporate power, there is a lot it will not have an impact on. for me, this does not diminish the beauty of hearing that cracking sound, it is music to my ears that brings tears to my eyes even now when i think about it.

this is not about obama, it is about the aspirations of the people who voted for him. it is about a visions of our future, regardless of whether he can bring that vision home.

one of the people who commented @ billmon's diary said that at her/his work black people weren't saying that much about it, but noted a lot of them had planned taking leave time from work today to spend time with their parents and families.

are you guys so cynical you can't see what this represents? i can't stop crying.

Posted by: annie | Aug 28 2008 16:17 utc | 28

I don't get the haters. We get the politicians we deserve. It is that simple. If the Dems are worthless (and they are to a large extent), it is not the fault of the political class, but an apathetic opposition, which in turn creates an apathetic public.

The rise of the Right in the US has been a long time coming. While traceable to economic shifts that might be called post-industrial, it may also be said that the Right (an unhelpful term, I admit) simply works harder to capture public resources, including information.

Posted by: d | Aug 28 2008 16:35 utc | 29

annie speaks for me.

Posted by: beq | Aug 28 2008 16:55 utc | 30

We're all complicit in enabling the plutocrats in one way or the other. We may work in their offices or their factories, we may buy their gasoline or their food, we may pay for their cable & telephone service or we may buy the products they bring in from China or their diamonds from the Congo. Or we may smoke their tobacco, buy their stocks & funds, drink their booze or rent their property.

We do what we have to do today and its the sacrifice we make for a greater good tomorrow. Nobody here thinks anybody else has sold their soul to the devil because they bought gasoline from Shell or beer from Cindy McCain.

Obama could be just like us & win for the greater good, or he could be who we want him to be & he loses

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 28 2008 17:00 utc | 31

beq!!! you inspire me!!! i was following your lead @3..

Win or lose, we've crossed a threshold. It's a huge step.

Posted by: annie | Aug 28 2008 17:01 utc | 32

so we're so suppose to celebrate one step forward for every ten steps back? 600 immigrants were arrested in Jackson Mississippi a few days ago, just like the massive raid last May in Iowa, where the immigrants, mostly Guatemalans, were processed in the stockyard like cattle. so if immigrants are the new "niggers", where's the moral outrage?

I don't want to minimize the important symbolism of what Obama means to a minority group that's been exploited from slavery to segregation; from athletics to entertainment. b real's post is an eloquent reminder of why Obama's nomination matters, and why a privileged white kid like myself should think twice about spewing my own subjective opinions. I'm just tired of getting suckered by hope hucksters blowing hot air up my ass.

maybe my cynicism is, like, a generational character flaw or something. regardless, i'm still planning on working through my gag reflex to cast a vote for someone.

anyway, on with the show...

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 28 2008 17:15 utc | 33

Obama IS a good person. Obama WILL be a great president. Obama WILL turn America around.

because he's part black?

As Barack Obama prepares to make the war in Iraq a centerpiece of his campaign against John McCain, serious questions remain about what Obama will do with this massive private, shadow army in Iraq. Jeremy Scahill filed this report:

House Oversight Chair Henry Waxman Calls for Cancellation of Blackwater’s Contract in Iraq;Obama, 'not so fast'...

In an exclusive interview with Democracy Now! correspondent Jeremy Scahill, Congressman Henry Waxman, chair of the powerful House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has called on Sen. Barack Obama to cancel the private military firm Blackwater’s Iraq contract if Obama is elected president. Waxman’s Committee is the top investigative body in the Congress and has been leading multiple investigations into the firms activities. In recent months, Obama has indicated he intends to continue using private military companies as part of his foreign policy and specifically in Iraq.

Annie, these are two different issues, I think it's right and just that history has been made by selecting an African American, my truck is not even with billmon being proud, it's with him being aloof on the complete complicity of most dems. It's seemingly a complete u-turn from where billmon was traversing before he quit writing, for all we know it could be a complete impostor/sockpuppet playing w/his account...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2008 17:20 utc | 34

I think we'll have truly crossed a threshold when we grapple with the concept that humans of any race, gender, color or orientation are equally capable of being contemptible, backstabbing, opportunistic sellouts and a primary like the one we've just seen doesn't naturally and immediately evoke the question from us:"So, are you a racist or a misogynist?" I've been pretty good about keeping myself distanced from it, but there's far, far too much back-slapping going on here for my liking. We haven't overcome any prejudices as long as we are still fixated on race.

I just won a nice sum of cash from a Scottish friend of mine who swore to me that "You Yanks are too racist to nominate that black fella." I knew I would win the bet because I know my people and I knew we were too racist not to nominate him. The chest-puffery going on over this historic occasion is based entirely upon the man's pigmentation rather than what Dr. King would have called the content of his character. As far as I am concerned, the ethnicities of the candidates is a question for a future game of Trivial Pursuit akin to "Who was the first left-handed Hispanic astronaut?", but don't let me rain your progessiver-than-thou parade.

I also respectfully disagree with Bernhard at #23, although the argument he puts forward actually is progressive (and I would expect no less from him!) rather than a protracted self-congratulations which serves to disguise a pretty ugly status quo. I disagree with b simply because, unlike our newly vocal shills for the jackass party would try to persuade us,
A.)I do not subscribe to the axioms that there is a "lesser" evil at work here since they are all feeding at the same trough,
B.)nor do I believe that supporting alternative parties is "throwing your vote away" or swinging things for the Republicans (if you're a Democrat) or the Democrats (if you're a Republican).

While I am grooving on the lip service Obama pays to the hankering Americans have for "change we can believe in", I am not to the believing part yet. Maybe you can consider it "progressive" that he acknowledges that people are dissatisfied with the way the country is being run rather than the head-in-the-clouds approach taken by the present administration. The problem is, everyone had a love-fest when the Democrat majority took over Congress in 2006 based on the same premise. Funny, while the Democrats acknowledge that a majority crave a course change, they invariably use that desire as a tool for their own self-promotion and then it's same-as-it-ever-was, same-as-it-ever-was... and we clutch our pearls and wait for the next smooth talker to run the very same game on us. Obama's choice of the bottom-feeder Joe Biden as running mate tells us all we need to know when we are weighing the question of whether he is cynically exploiting our hopes or not.

Sorry, kids. Seen this too many times to get excited over something as inconsequential as a person's complexion. Wake me when someone genuinely different comes along.

Posted by: Monolycus | Aug 28 2008 17:47 utc | 36

[alabama]: If, over a period of four hundred years, a country can modify its racism in this way (and to this extent), might it not modify its imperialism in the same way (and to this extent) over a correspondingly long period of time?

Except if the logic that allowed the country to modify its racism is the same machine that drives the imperialism? Then it doesn't sound so hopeful.

Isn't what we have here a section of the political class that realizes that we can't keep ruling with the stick and retain a smidgeon of legitimacy, either within or without? In previous iterations, Democratic nods at racial mending while pushing us into Vietnam, etc. In this iteration, president that can speak in complete sentences, one that by being Black symbolically appeals to a chunk of electorate that otherwise would be demanding substantive economic reforms.

We get the symbolism and a few minor nods in our direction, and they get:
(1) the energy from a bunch of soon-to-be disillusioned young people,
(2) a free pass to continue neoliberal reforms,
and (3) a bunch of progressives left scratching their heads thinking "and he sounded so smart".

As adrienne rich said, our country has "its own ways of making people disappear". The poor white black and brown people in the audience at the DNC? Are they represented or are they "disappeared"? Is this progress? What is it progress toward?

Posted by: frayjusto | Aug 28 2008 17:52 utc | 37

The rise of the Right in the US has been a long time coming. While traceable to economic shifts that might be called post-industrial, it may also be said that the Right (an unhelpful term, I admit) simply works harder to capture public resources, including information.

Sure, the Right are better at it. They work harder to seize power and to hold on to it. Here in post-industrial Britain the rise of the Right was an inevitable outcome of the destruction of all those social icons which had become the handles of power for the Left. Over here the Right is better organised, better informed and indefatigable in capturing public resources. They are totally professional in getting their message across to the public and despite the different party labels (Tory or New Labour) they have been in power for the past thirty years.

Posted by: Spyware | Aug 28 2008 18:03 utc | 38

Yeah, my neighbor is gushing on about Phelps and gold medals and America. Mostly because this neighbor has a son on the local high school swim team, so it means his son is a Phelps, too. Or the next Phelps. He's all wet, anyway. This neighbor is real proud of America because of Phelps. Got a lump in his throat, he does.

Phelps has spent most of a short lifetime training like a mad dog. Long time, laboring away in chlorinated pools. All that time, this neighbor with the fresh lump in his throat could not have told you who or what a Phelps is. Couldn't have told you a scant three weeks ago. Now, it's all he talks about.

Pride in things you had nothing to do with is like taking pride in each frame of those Viewmaster picture wheels kids play with. As soon as one reason for being proud gets old, you just roll another one in front of your eyes, and there's that old lump in the throat all over again.

Politicians count on this kind of limbic response. The nature of political movements and parties is that they do just this, they operate on the basis of lumps in the throat. That's how you get the vote out of the unwashed multitudes. Of course, every political group has its lumps to sell, in every language, in every country. And it works, everywhere.

Here among the fifty States we've got Mom, apple pie, the flag, God in Heaven, little green apples, the rockets' red glare, pickup trucks, the Phelps, cowboys, martial music, white picket fences, steeples, John Wayne, Ronnie Reagan, the Obama, Abe Lincoln, and on and on, and it all amounts to martial music and fairy tales about a better tomorrow.

It works because it is the nature of human beings to live there. It's dreary and scary and boring to live here, right now. So much nicer over there, in a better tomorrow. So we all like to live there. Seriously. Human beings live in stories about themselves, in dreams and plans about themselves and the world they have in mind. Tomorrow is our favorite place, and we spend practically every waking moment there.

Any human being who lives right here, right now, is a cynic, and if you hadn't noticed it before, that word is a dismissal. It is a genuine four letter word, despite the extra digit. Any human being who has learned through bitter experience and hard living that lumps in the throat only spell trouble is no longer qualified to partake in the conversation about how shiny tomorrow is. Out with them.

America's tomorrow is not shiny. America's tomorrow will actually be the result of actions taken by ourselves and our representatives to date. What has been going on in America for lo, these many years is the most shameless treason, porcine looting, warmongering, and official misconduct that it is possible to imagine. That kind of thing does not bring shiny tomorrows. It bring poverty, ignorance, greed, war, and brutal death and division.

The nation has been trashed, misled, looted, screwed blue and tattooed, sold down the river, and will soon reach a state of economic division rivaling the feudal estates of medieval Europe.

Anyone with a lump in their throat about America is not here. They are out singing under the linden tree.

Posted by: Antifa | Aug 28 2008 18:08 utc | 39

respectfully, annie & beq - i think it is far too late in the day. the executive, the congress & the judiciary are completely corrupt or comprimised

i cry for the people who dream & i cry for people whose dreams ended in the night of bombardment of the u s empire. that women in the office in tal afar - has she the right to dream as you do, that man in herat praying - does he not have a right to dream, that college student in islamabad, - a whole world of dreaming. aren't their dreams just as sacred as that of any american

i'm moved by the people & the people alone

you have had an afro american lying to the united nations - servile & complicit. you have a monster, perhaps an incomparable monster condaleeza rice - from whose mouth murder flows so easily

i simply do not see the change - on the contrary i see a dangerous empire in its dying days willing the world to destruction

you may speak of glass ceilings but the inequality of opportunity is american as apple pie

so when i watch people who have fought for their lives with sweat & blood - fooled once again. that, only that - makes me weep

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 18:18 utc | 40

DM, I'm taking a long view. And why not? I've lived in and through all kinds of American racism, and I've come to understand that reparations and amendments are never punctual; if they come at all, they come in "untimely" ways (intempestives, unzeitgemässe --how I love words that say the same thing and sound so utterly different!).

My point--a modest point--remains the same: Obama's wife has something to be proud of. This may be the happiest moment in her life, and she's welcome to it. I even suspect that she's earned it.

If, 350 years or more ago, someone had said, with more than prophetic clarity, that a man of color would govern a country to be launched 150 years thereafter in this very land (under difficult, and even ambiguous, circumstances, of course), he would be locked up as a maniac or hung as a sorcerer.

And if he had said this to a slave, just off the boat from Africa (supposing the two could speak the same tongue), I can well imagine that the slave might have said in reply, and to borrow your own words, I hope all [us] sand-niggers with M16 bullet holes in [our] brains are appreciative of just how well Americans [will have] mended their racist ways in the last four hundred years. And of course his point, in all its asperity, would be taken well.....

Meaning what?

Meaning that yes, Obama's nomination is (perforce) of small consolation to anyone who lost life or limb or anything else to the tenacious rapacity of racism over the past 400 years.... As it is to those who suffer from our imperialism (all of us, whether we know it or not).

We can hope for improvement without ignoring the ongoing grief. In fact we have to, if we wish to stay on track. And I wish to stay on track: If a way to the better there be,/ It exacts a full look at the worst (Thomas Hardy).

Remind me, DM: who started that harsh exchange a couple of years ago--the one that I told Pat last month I would not resume in this bar?

Posted by: alabama | Aug 28 2008 18:19 utc | 41


and Elvis, you forgot Elvis!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2008 18:25 utc | 42

in a just world every criminal including bush in this administration would be in the docks. that is change i could believe in
if reparations were made to the people of iraq & every other country they have despoiled. that is a change i could believe in
if the constitution was scrupulously respected & there existed a just jurisprudence. that is a change i could believe in
if there was a real & substantive equality of opportunity. that is a change i could believe in
if the corporations of america had to pay for the crimes they commit on a financial, political & ecological level - that is a change i could believe in

none of these
nothing is going to change

least of all - there will be no change at all with the israel lobby

the militarisation of america is an integral element of its criminality & that is not going to change one iota

someone has mentioned that theis country needs to be brought down in the same way that gorbachev & his country were brought down. then perhaps then - it would change

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 18:39 utc | 43

@ r'giap...

No change... sorry.

WHO: 'Social injustice is killing people on a grand scale'

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 28 2008 18:50 utc | 44

Yeah, Annie, that's part of my point. It's 40 years since MLK was murdered, and we're still electing presidents and politicians on the color of their skin, be it black, white, brown, yellow and their gender. How the hell can one call that progress. Let's not forget, MLK was offed because he crossed the line, not because of his stance on the issue of race. When he sought to wage a class war, and a war against imperialism and empire, he had to go, and when they placed him in the dirt, any progress he had inspired in that regard was buried with him. Face it, there is no choice here. It's the same choice. I so want to believe, but common sense and critical analysis preclude my irrational desires. Obama has been vetted, and he is a witting tool of pacification. If he wasn't, he never would have made it this far, this fast. He's where he is because tails you lose and heads they win. The Plutocracy is that smart, and yes, we're really fucked. The Empire is choosing to go down in a Blaze of Glory and the next president will share the infamy of Captain Edward Smith. Full Steam Ahead. Let's not equate realism with despair. It only serves to marginalize and dismiss, which doesn't make for constructive dialogue.

Posted by: Barry | Aug 28 2008 18:51 utc | 45

If a way to the better there be,/ It exacts a full look at the worst (Thomas Hardy).


your point is taken - but therein lies the crime - that it is an illussion, yet one other illussion & we can see that in a number of books like 'the rise of the vulcans' - that this illusion was being prepared by the republican with colin powell for exactly the same reasons - to use a man(no matter how deeply i oppose him)of good faith to cover the crimes that are part of the malignancy of empire

you know that i love american literature of the 19th & early 20th century - & there is not one amongst their number who do not say exacly what i say - perhaps they say it more clearly & in words only an american can recognise. the malignancy they spoke of is exacly the one of which i speak

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 18:52 utc | 46

Anyone with a lump in their throat about America is not here.

if you are refering to my post you weren't hearing me.

this says more about the evolvement of our common human nature than it says about either the candidate or the party...someday maybe, we as humans will be colorblind and won't that be a glorious day.


I don't want to minimize the important symbolism of what Obama means to a minority group that's been exploited from slavery to segregation

you don't get it. who this impacts is minimized by limiting it to "a minority group'.

Posted by: annie | Aug 28 2008 18:57 utc | 47

'giap: unfortunately i think you're right.

maybe when it's all taken away we'll finally see the squandered amerikan experiment clearly.

despite the hypocrisy of the founding fathers and the genocidal manifest destiny that shaped this nation, the constitution and bill of rights are still radically transcendent declarations of universal human rights. maybe someone should take them out of the trash, dust them off, and try abiding by them for once.

alabama: i like that hardy quote, but i seriously doubt there are many amerikans out there, myself included, capable of "a full look at the worst"

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 28 2008 19:00 utc | 48

What Antifa said --- I thought the truth jumped out of Bob Costa's mouth when overwhelmed at Phelps' 1/100 of a second victory, breathlessly shouted into the microphone that "Phelps doesn't just want to win the competition, he wants to DESTROY his competitor". I'm not sure what we would do without these ever present narrators turning everything into a war.

Posted by: anna missed | Aug 28 2008 19:14 utc | 49

annie: okay, so i didn't phrase my concession to those who are encouraged by Obama's nomination very well, but i respectively disagree with your assertion that i don't get it. this race baiting is bullshit distraction, and i'm sick of it. getting mired down in a divisive race discussion like this is exactly what they want us to do.

Barry: excellent point.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 28 2008 19:19 utc | 50

if it was'nt for wishing for a "better tomorrow", slaves would still be picking cotton, and women likewise would be seen but not heard

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Aug 28 2008 19:22 utc | 51

here is what the demoshats should be talking about

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 28 2008 19:31 utc | 52

well, that exotic afghan ingredient is already in the recipe...
and, when some 'world leader' starts talking about glasnosting or perestroikying, the cake will be almost ready

Posted by: rudolf | Aug 28 2008 19:34 utc | 53

remembereringgiap, certainly those authors train their minds on the darkness of the land, and some of them even prophecy its utter, and utterly just, ruin. But not one of them--not Melville, Hawthorne, Dickinson, Poe, or anyone else we might name--allows himself or herself the luxury of despair. To do so would betray their vocation--one of hoping, rather than believing (a difference hard to draw, I agree, but certainly fundamental).

You know very well that I don't think the US will mend its ways in my own lifetime, and that I've adapted my living and thinking to accept this dark and troubling fact. But that doesn't exempt me from the task of hope. To abandon hope would be an indulgence in utter despair--what's called, in the good old theological parlance, a sin against the Holy Spirit. And you wouldn't want me to go there. Even if you swore up and down that you did, I simply wouldn't believe it, because there's nothing of the diabolical in your thinking. There never has been.

Hope can take the form of wishing for the ruin of the country--hoping that it be wiped away from the earth, sooner rather than later. To which, however, such hope must also, and necessarily, extend itself to the prospect that those ruins shall serve as a monument--a "memorandum" of folly and evil. Grounds for a better day.

As for Mrs. Obama, her happiness causes no harm, and it brings joy to people who need it. I call that a healthy thing, and wish her more of the same.

Posted by: alabama | Aug 28 2008 19:51 utc | 54

thanks Lizard for #52 link. Why are obvious things the same as those we deny? (because too scary and undignified, not to mention the paid shepherds.)

Posted by: plushtown | Aug 28 2008 19:54 utc | 55


there is more than a hint of that despair in the poets hart crane & elizabeth bishop. in dreiser that dread seems to dominate but admittedly it's been quite a while since i have read him

there is a courage of spirit in these writers that i have never witnessed in american political culture. the exceptions are notable like w e dubois, malcolm x, cesar chavez, david gilbert

today that political courage seems to be completely absent tho i am sure it exists in the same way that it does here - with people who work in their communities fighting for eaqality of opportunity or even a little justice

& anywhere people fight for these thing - yes , there is hope

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 20:13 utc | 56


that better tomorrow arrived when people stopped wishing for it to be bestowed upon them by Jeezus or the Gummint some day, and fought the powers that be -- in the streets and on the battlefields of the Civil War and the lynching grounds of the South until they got it.

The plutocrats do not grant their wealth and power unto the masses. The masses come and take it away from them, from time to time. Then the plutocrats go back to stealing it back again by the thimblefuls, by the miracle of compound interest, and the miracle of TeeVee news.

Posted by: Antifa | Aug 28 2008 20:25 utc | 57

lizard, when i say who this impacts is minimized by limiting it to "a minority group' is not race baiting. one hardly has to be a member of those 'encouraged' by his nomination to be part of those impacted. perhaps as you say it is generational for what it may mean is our youth are becoming more colorblind. racisms victims include the minds of those who hate and learn to hate as second nature. actually i think it would be an excellent sign if someday the idea that a black man or woman could be chosen to lead us will be no amazement at all. none whatsoever. i consider it a luxury to be amongst those who have so much issue w/many of his principles (as i certainly do) that his race is simply beside the point. i am not going to argue w/you whether you get my point or not. you are more a testimony to it by arguing against it.

that said i won't bore anyone here any further w/how awesome i think it is. we can all carry on w/what it won't palestine. grr.

Posted by: annie | Aug 28 2008 20:53 utc | 58

In the US, remembereringgiap, no major writer has ever, to my knowledge, intervened directly in the political process (not that they don't hold forth, and often explicitly, on the politics of their moment). We have no Voltaire, no Hugo, no Chateaubriand, no Maurras, no Sartre (nor, sauf erreur, do the British and the Germans). This certainly calls for some study.

Yeats has fun with this. Near the beginning of A Vision he writes, in a "letter to Ezra Pound": "Dear Ezra Pound, do not become a senator of your country..." (Yeats having just completed a six-year-term in the Irish Senate).

Posted by: alabama | Aug 28 2008 21:08 utc | 59

didn't mailer try at one point to be elected?

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 21:19 utc | 60

annie: sorry, didn't intend to accuse you personally of race baiting.

maybe if i had been involved in the struggle for civil rights--if i had come of age during the tumultuous sixties-- then maybe i could separate the importance of Obama winning the nomination from the overwhelming disappointment of watching him flee to the right. well, i didn't, and i can't.

for me, Obama represents the success story of capitalism's ability to adapt its marketing techniques to sell us the same bundle of lies in updated packaging. it's the same way capitalism diffused the Boomer "revolution" and brought you back into the fold. today is just more of the same, nothing new.

that said, people need their hope. sure, you can't eat it when you're starving, or burn it when you're freezing, but i hear it may help get one out of bed in the morning to face another day of servitude to our capitalist masters.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 28 2008 21:27 utc | 61

thanks to the folks who did succumb to the Spielbergian charade.

Posted by: rjj | Aug 28 2008 21:34 utc | 62

Billmon has clearly been watching too many Steven Spielberg (the most toxic movie maker since Walt Disney) movies.

Posted by: rjj | Aug 28 2008 21:39 utc | 63

Yea, as Mayor of New York--at about the time he was charged (I think) with trying to kill his wife. And also duking it out with Gore Vidal on t.v. Those were lively days!

But tell me, remembereringgiap, do you consider Mailer a major writer? If you do, which books do you recommend? (To my regret, I haven't read him in forty years.)

Posted by: alabama | Aug 28 2008 22:08 utc | 64

it may help get one out of bed in the morning to face another day of servitude to our capitalist masters.

come on lizard, don't stick me w/the hope meme. you know i'm not buying the message. if you're going to poke holes in my argument the least you could do is attack what i'm saying. what helps someone get out of the bed in the morning to go work for your master is waking up w/the person you love regardless of what color they are.

peoples lives are impacted by social change. antifa doesn't seem to think things have changed one iota since martin was killed. are things moving so slow you can't even recognize it?

Interracial marriages represented 0.7% of all marriages in 1970, rising to 1.3% in 1980 and 2.2% in 1992. With the introduction of the mixed-race category, the 2000 census revealed interracial marriage to be somewhat more widespread, with 2,669,558 interracial marriages recorded, or 4.9% of all marriages

Opinions on interracial marriage by youth generation

"[T]oday, not only is it legal to be in a mixed relationship, but to some degree it’s expected—especially among younger generations. More than one-fifth of all Americans have a close relative married to someone of another race, and 91 percent of Generation Y-ers say interracial dating is perfectly normal."



drip drip drip, just cuz you can't see it doesn't mean it isn't happening or that it doesn't impact our daily lives in positive ways.

Posted by: annie | Aug 28 2008 22:39 utc | 65


ambivalent, but i think 'the naked & the dead','armies of the night', 'the executioners song' & 'harlot's ghost' are all exceptional works/B> but i must admit i prefer the genius, really the genius of jack kerouac in all the early works, 'The Town and the City', 'On the Road','Visions of Cody', 'Visions of Gerard' & 'Vanity of Duluoz' especially visions of gerard which possesses a spiritual depth completely absent in western literature except by moment in melville, or wm blake - though i am hopefully not diabolic i have never been religious in any sense except as a reader of texts - sacred & profane - but this book by kerouac very nearly converted me when i was a younger man

there is a humility in his work that is not there at all in the nation.

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 23:01 utc | 66

sorry bout that - but there is almost a saintly love in his work not unlike that of st augustine. so much love. from a person who wrote in nation infected by violence & hate & who have been now manipulated, in fear

it is sad, but i am unconvinced that america will change & connected to the new thread - i am very fearful of what that america will do in the coming months

i am so surprised by the firmness of russia because it seems now for 50 years that america has wreaked violence all over the globe without reckoning & i feel that reckoning may come much sooner than i expected

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 23:13 utc | 67

the empire that initiated acts such as this must dissapear

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 23:39 utc | 68

an open letter from leonard peltier - reality not symbols

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 28 2008 23:42 utc | 69

call me delusional, but I have watched decades of the Huxtable family, fresh prince, (will smith) marketed rap and gangster hip hop from I Spy, to Kanye West's "George Bush Don't Like Black People". Marketed, nay pushed down American consumers throats as if it were a grand psyop... all leading to this moment...

as for Disney and Spielberg, I can almost guarantee they are CIA manipulation...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2008 0:41 utc | 70

annie, i'm not trying to poke holes in your argument, and i really have no interest in attacking what you have to say.

the good work of the civil rights movement has certainly had the positive effects you describe @65, and maybe my generation takes those positive changes for granted because we didn't experience what your generation experienced. but in the context of this political campaign, race is being exploited as a measure of social progress, while the candidate himself tosses his pastor in front of the PC bus and chastises absentee black fathers to appease white amerika.

as i tried to imply by posting the link @52 (thanks plushtown) race has been a convenient and useful distraction from what we should really be focusing on: class warfare and the global incitement of nuclear armed nations by dangerously delusional corporate thugs.

this entire (s)election process has been one tremendous distraction. if war breaks out with russia or iran, the color of the president's skin will be the least of our concerns.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 29 2008 1:20 utc | 71

what lizard said...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2008 2:14 utc | 72

Every man must decide whether he will walk in the light of creative altruism or in the darkness of destructive selfishness.

An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.

...But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we've come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy.

A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual doom.

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable... Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. The hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who remain neutral in times of great moral conflict. - MLK jr.

A cynic is not merely one who reads bitter lessons from the past, he is one who is prematurely disappointed in the future.
Sidney J. Harris


If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. - John Quincy Adams

Posted by: waldo | Aug 29 2008 3:13 utc | 73


I think they've lied to us enough.

Now I have the key to the hieroglyph
pain gave me between fits of a drunk's laughter
from a jailer and glares from a rabid dog
without a heart.

This much I also know: it will be difficult to make men accept
this nakedness someone who possesses the light reverts to
hard to convince them that so far all the laughs were turned against
and that all the hands held out to them had cruel nails.

(It's a little chilly but it's better that way
now that the mortal fires
the flushed faces in the middle of the orgy
the feverish myth invented by the wine settled in your blood
and spider webs clinging to the tongue have all disappeared.)

And I'll be the one
to take care of the wounds.

Roque Dalton

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 29 2008 3:48 utc | 74

i read here from time to time and seldom comment anymore, but i did come by tonight to see if note had been taken of billmon's diary. must admit that it took me by surprise as well. but i also have to say that i understand it completely. i don't believe he is talking about quantifiable change, but instead a shifting of perspective. something that is both subtle and ground shaking.

i spent 9 years of my life involved with an african american attorney who is just as articulate, intelligent, and well-educated as obama. barry, both of his parents were african american but i don't think in the eyes of most americans it made him any more black than obama. i was truly offended by your remarks suggesting that obama isn't black enough. what i expect you miss is something that most white americans have no clue about - the experience of a brown or black person in this country. my ex bf was educated at harvard and then columbia, but had trouble hailing a cab and was refused entry to boutiques in the toney soho neighborhood where his law office was located (these shops kept their doors locked and admitted people via buzzer). it doesn't matter how you speak or where you went to school or if one of your parents is white - if you are darker skinned in this country, you are the other and you are to be feared.

seeing the sea of faces listening to obama's speech tonight, i agreed completely with billmon's sentiments. i think it says something about this country that is positive for a change. i think it offers us one last chance. and, no, i do not pin these hopes on a skinny black guy from chicago/hawai'i, i pin them on us, every last one of us. this is our chance to take this moment and move forward with it and to reclaim what is ours. believe me, after laboring for the last year and a half deep within the impeachment movement, it takes a lot for me to say this. i have worked my ass off to convince my so-called liberal rep, jerry nadler, to do what he openly acknowledges is the right thing only to be shut down by him time and time again because he is not willing to put his career on the line and buck the democratic party leadership. am i demoralized? yes. but i will not stop and i hope we will all find a way to ride this obama wave to make change. note, i did not say for him to make change - i don't believe he personally will - but that we make change. and that will mean somehow balancing the cynicism with hope and putting more energy into making a difference than just complaining on a blog. i have no illusions about obama. he is far from the progressive i would like to see in office, but he can be a tool for us to use to promote change. i think billmon recognizes that. will obama proceed with serious investigations and prosecution of this administration? chances are he won't on his own, it is up to us to push to make this happen. will electing obama change the nature of our dysfunctional system? maybe/maybe not, but it is that much more likely if we step up, take advantage of the momentum, and do our best to make it happen. the nomination of obama says there just might be enough good out there still, that together we can make a difference. we just might still have a chance.

or then again, we can be all piss 'n vinegar and watch it all go down in flames saying i told you so.

Posted by: sharon | Aug 29 2008 4:37 utc | 75

Beautiful, Sharon. Thank you for that clear, straight post!

And remembereringgiap, I've got some reading to do.

Posted by: alabama | Aug 29 2008 5:26 utc | 76

I got a question, at what point does Obomba become a war criminal too? Can anyone here answer that? When does he take on the mantel of boniface war crim? Has he already?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2008 5:34 utc | 77

Of course he has, Uncle $cam--but you knew that already. As does everyone else on this thread.

Do you think for a minute that we aren't wrestling with this little conundrum? Really?

No, you do not--but your customary patience with conflict is running a little short these days.... and perhaps for good reason.

Posted by: alabama | Aug 29 2008 6:14 utc | 78

sharon: i also believe in a shifting perspective. i believe the amerikan perspective shifts whenever and however the media tells it to.

seeing the sea of faces tonight watching Obama speak certainly says something about this country, like how gullible and easily herded we are when the alternative is facing up to all the shit amerika has sewn across the globe.

other than that, keep up the fight for impeachment, as that is one of the long shots we need to even begin to address the disaster of the last eight years.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 29 2008 6:25 utc | 79

Thanks sharon, annie, alabama.

You all have taught me a little bit about how to think clearly about the negatives in Obama (and others) while remaining implacably confident and optimistic about the actual future.

I agree that it is most important to find the inspiration that powers optimism, hope if you will. Sincerely, optimism is healthy.

It's kind of like "trust, but verify" or "love backed by force."

I too watched Billmon's despair after preaching "anyone but Bush" and then witnessing Kerry's failure. His dark predictions of the outcome from that 2004 Bush victory were correct and unfortunately led perhaps to his subsequent silence.

Like Meteor Blades who posts on Daily Kos, Billmon is again advocating for a small change rather than giving up hope.

I think a small change for the better is better than none.

Posted by: jonku | Aug 29 2008 6:37 utc | 80

alabama: i like that hardy quote, but i seriously doubt there are many amerikans out there, myself included, capable of "a full look at the worst" (Lizard, @48)

Posted by: alabama | Aug 29 2008 6:50 utc | 81


Posted by: Lizard | Aug 29 2008 6:56 utc | 82

I think the last sentence @79, Lizard, is a good instance of the incapacity mentioned @ 48.

Posted by: alabama | Aug 29 2008 7:19 utc | 83

While I haven't studied much Solzhenitsyn, May I suggest Gustaw Herling's A world Apart: Imprisonment in a Soviet Labor Camp During World War II

Studying Gustaw Herling, has taught me lessons in hope. It very much reminds me of the following which I collected from my virtual travels,

"The more I understand hope, the more I realize that all along it deserved to be in the box with the plagues, sorrow, and mischief; that it serves the needs of those in power as surely as belief in a distant heaven; that hope is really nothing more than a secular way of keeping us in line.

Hope is, in fact, a curse, a bane. I say this not only because of the lovely Buddhist saying "Hope and fear chase each other's tails," not only because hope leads us away from the present, away from who and where we are right now and toward some imaginary future state. I say this because of what hope is."

Pandora's legacy?

Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

"Can you dig it, suckas?!"

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2008 7:22 utc | 84

Thanks sharon.

Posted by: beq | Aug 29 2008 11:18 utc | 85

Wow, I'm stunned. I might as well be talking to Fundamentalists, because that's exactly what it is. Religion comes in many forms.

Uncle, believe me, Obama can do no wrong with people this blind. He could launch a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia and they would find a way to rationalize his actions, as their skin melts and their children scream in agony, just as those on the right rationalize the actions of their chosen ones.

Like I said, it's masterful. Unlike many of you, I refuse to watch any of the spectacle, because Marketers are the Magicians of yesteryear. You're being hypnotized and your objectivity is clearly compromised.

Don't take my word for it, though, I'm just a little old nobody.

Posted by: Barry | Aug 29 2008 12:11 utc | 86

How progressive, on the forefront of social advances the Tories must have felt when they made Margaret Thatcher in '76 the first ever female British PM, breaking a century old glass ceiling. Surely, now that a woman can be PM, Britain would change for the better. Hmmm….

seeing the sea of faces tonight watching Obama speak certainly says something about this country, like how gullible and easily herded we are
My exact thoughts Lizard. People believe in Obama, not unlike people's faith in some deity. There is no evidence which would suggest to me Obama is gonna bring about the change he is harping on about like a broken record, but that is irrelevant to his followers.

As Monolycus wrote above, in 2006 the Democrats were given majority in Congress, and nothing changed. Not a thing. Every crappy policy Bush & Cheney came up with was rubber stamped, wars continually financed. The more things appear to change, the more they stay the same.

The Democrats, with Obama being no exception, are no different to Republicans, a bunch of imperial crusaders with an inability to comprehend their own history, permanently engaged in just picking the yummy bits that neatly fit in their concept of US exceptionalism. But hey, Al Capone already knew that "You can get much further with a kind word and a gun than you can with a kind word alone." Obama understands that, being from Chicago and all.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Aug 29 2008 13:06 utc | 87

I wrote "thanks to the folks who did succumb to the Spielbergian charade." @62

I meant who did NOT succumb. NOT! NOT! NOT! Slip of the keyboard. Hmmm.

The good news is, he is African American. = joke punchline.

Posted by: rjj | Aug 29 2008 13:36 utc | 88

How the Democrats Helped Bush Hijack the Country
By Cynthia McKinney

28/08/08 "ICH" -- - Our country has been hijacked and the Democrats have proven themselves to have been in on the plan. When it came to the Constitution, the Democratic leadership showed us that aiding and abetting illegal spying on us was more important to them than protecting our civil liberties.

When it came to war and occupation, the Democratic leadership showed us that financing an illegal and immoral war, based on lies, was more important to them than the people's desire for peace.

And when the people, hurting from the financial mismanagement of this country, called for accountability for the crimes that have been committed against the people here, against the global community, against nature, itself, the Democratic leadership took impeachment off the table!

Grassroots Democratic Party activists want a livable wage! A "Medicare-for-all" type of health care system, repeal of the Bush tax cuts that have ushered in the greatest income inequality in this country since the Great Depression. But the Democratic Party has shown itself to be incapable of providing even a semblance of the values even of its own activists.

The Democratic Party's national leadership didn't even mention Hurricanes Katrina and Rita survivors in their Congressional agenda for the first 100 days.

The Democratic Party's national leadership gave us the Iran Naval Blockade bill, the Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act, and telecom immunity. They continue to fund war and occupation to the tune of $720 million a day while our children graduate from college tens--or even hundreds--of thousands of dollars in debt. Entire cities are going into receivership while the Democratic leadership in Congress gives the Pentagon one half trillion dollars annually with no accountability, no strings attached. That's over and above spending for war.

Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo are the hallmarks of the new U.S. gulag Democrats are helping to create.

They want us to believe that China and Russia are our enemies, in addition to the 60 countries on Dick Cheney's list. They want us to believe that workers, who come to this country to support thier families after Democratic leadership in the country saddl3ed workers with NAFTA, are our enemies. But we are here today to declare that we know who the real enemies are: those false patriots that George Washington warned us of, who wrap themselves in the flag while betraying our values.

We are the true patriots!


Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2008 13:45 utc | 89

I watched Obama's speak last night and then, because he co-opted the ghost of Dr King, I looked up the great doctor's 'Beyond Vietnam' speech:

I am convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a "thing-oriented" society to a "person-oriented" society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

A true revolution of values will soon cause us to question the fairness and justice of many of our past and present policies. n the one hand we are called to play the good Samaritan on life's roadside; but that will be only an initial act. One day we must come to see that the whole Jericho road must be transformed so that men and women will not be constantly beaten and robbed as they make their journey on life's highway. True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it is not haphazard and superficial. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring. A true revolution of values will soon look uneasily on the glaring contrast of poverty and wealth. With righteous indignation, it will look across the seas and see individual capitalists of the West investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries, and say: "This is not just." It will look at our alliance with the landed gentry of Latin America and say: "This is not just." The Western arrogance of feeling that it has everything to teach others and nothing to learn from them is not just. A true revolution of values will lay hands on the world order and say of war: "This way of settling differences is not just." This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation's homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into veins of people normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.

Does anyone else find it distasteful in the extreme that Obama can enlist Martin Luther King to serve his rhetorical ends while spouting the same deadly lies about Georgia, Iran, Iraq, Russia? Dr King was a believer, a revolutionary and he died for his country. To use the words of a preacher of love to perpetrate hate and death... But apparently there's no end to our blindness and inability to look backwards even a few short years into the world's unseemly past.

Full speech here.

Posted by: Tantalus | Aug 29 2008 13:49 utc | 90

Tantalus, thanks for the timely MLK link, and you are dead right. The hypocrisy is mind boggling. To conjure up an association with a legend like Dr. King, and then in your 45 minute acceptance speech not even once mention the continued plight the black community is facing, roughly sums up his idea of change.

The for me defining paragraphs came when he started talking about foreign policy:

You can’t truly stand up for Georgia when you’ve strained our oldest alliances. If John McCain wants to follow George Bush with more tough talk and bad strategy, that is his choice — but that is not the change that America needs.

We are the party of Roosevelt. We are the party of Kennedy. So don’t tell me that Democrats won’t defend this country. Don’t tell me that Democrats won’t keep us safe. The Bush-McCain foreign policy has squandered the legacy that generations of Americans — Democrats and Republicans — have built, and we are here to restore that legacy.

As commander in chief, I will never hesitate to defend this nation, but I will only send our troops into harm’s way with a clear mission and a sacred commitment to give them the equipment they need in battle and the care and benefits they deserve when they come home.

I will end this war in Iraq responsibly, and finish the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan. I will rebuild our military to meet future conflicts. But I will also renew the tough, direct diplomacy that can prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons and curb Russian aggression. I will build new partnerships to defeat the threats of the 21st century: terrorism and nuclear proliferation; poverty and genocide; climate change and disease. And I will restore our moral standing, so that America is once again that last, best hope for all who are called to the cause of freedom, who long for lives of peace, and who yearn for a better future.

Yaaaawn, where have I heard that before? One thing is sure, the assassins won't be paid for by the military industrial complex, he is their man.

Posted by: Juan Moment | Aug 29 2008 14:14 utc | 91

Wow. I'd forgotten what nasty sectarian assholes so many of you are, and why I eventually ran the lot of you out of my "bar". Thanks for reminding me.

Bernhard -- I would very much appreciate it if you would:

a.) stop linking to my diaries at Daily Kos, and

b.) stop flogging MoA's ancient connection to Whiskey Bar in your efforts to attract readers.


Posted by: billmon | Aug 29 2008 21:02 utc | 92


that's really, really funny, billmon

Posted by: b real | Aug 29 2008 22:03 utc | 93


sadly i do not see any change at all. illussions that are constantly repacked is an element of american exceptionalism. sharon speaks & works for hope but what is really witnessed in fact is degredation, despair & dread

the damage done to all elements - the executive, legislative & judicial is from my understanding - irreparable - that it will be a long haul for communites to repair community by community

the hope, above all is manufactured & in that sense whether billmon or wolf blitzer is trumpeting that hope is the same for me & given that b has largely honoured billmon in fact & in his attention to detail in the posts that have been a light in these dark times - so i find the facetiousness of billmon's response though, i am also not surprisedbeause there is not a little of that bill maher smarminess in his writing. in any case it has been a long time since those times in his bar - b has his own voice & he does not need the sanctimony of the owner of the whiskey bar

american exceptionalism enacts itself in multiple ways - the arrogance of billmon is one of them

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 29 2008 22:08 utc | 94

hahaha.. billmon's in one of his moods again, if in fact that is the real billmon...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Aug 29 2008 22:10 utc | 95

& sharon knows implicity the heartfelt anguish of rick - is far from sectarian. it is questioning, yes interrogating the nature of our illusions & if that is not useful, i do not know what is

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Aug 29 2008 22:14 utc | 96

Since when is having an opinion and a position sectarian?

Posted by: Tantalus | Aug 29 2008 22:23 utc | 97

billmon #92, don't see how an historical sidenote is flogging, nor have I seen any attempt to attract readers. In any case, thank you for your own brain and efforts.

Posted by: plushtown | Aug 29 2008 22:59 utc | 98

b, I would hope that you continue to link. I appreciate billmon and you.

Posted by: beq | Aug 29 2008 23:14 utc | 99

wow is right.

b, for what it's worth, your stamina and attention to detail far surpasses the plethora of hacks and egoist keyboard jockeys who consider themselves journalists. i deeply appreciate the work you do here.

sectarian assholes? yeah, good thing you ran all these opinionated people from your "bar" billmon. Kos coddling is definitely a better fit for you.

Posted by: Lizard | Aug 29 2008 23:23 utc | 100

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