Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
November 11, 2008

On What The Presidency Requires

by Malooga

lifted from a comment


BO's qualities as a human being are irrelevant.

As Arthur Silber has pointed out numerous times, the office of the Presidency -- Commander-in-Chief of the greatest, fastest collapsing, Empire in History -- requires a level of pathological violence which no one here would countenance in a family member, and which instantly would land you in jail, or worse, if you were a member of the underclass and stole one billionth of what any President does, or were responsible for one billionth of the death, destruction, violence, and mayhem.

It requires misstating, or perpetrating non-existent threats, in Iran, Venezuela, Russia, Pakistan, Sudan, Somalia, Congo, Cuba, Bolivia, North Korea, and a dozen other places around the globe, as BO already has done, in the murderous interest of said Empire. It requires terrorizing and subduing populations of those countries so that ostensibly US-based corporations can appropriate the resources and wealth of those lands. It requires the use of CIA, special-ops, death squads, aerial bombing, remote bombing, drones and surveillance aircraft, spraying of toxic chemicals, radiological poisoning, killing of union leaders, economic suasion (starvation, destruction of critical infrastructure, destruction of drug manufactories, economic embargos, etc.), proxy wars, wars on drugs, wars with drugs, wars funded by drugs, humanitarian wars, concentration camps (1 1/2 M in Gaza), spying, data-mining, eavesdropping, propaganda, fear-mongering, threats, lying, duplicity, fear, subversion, etc. in pursuit of those goals.

It requires starving -- and growing -- the underclass of your own country so that the wealthiest, most pathological, most environmentally destructive, banksters can be rewarded with 700 Billion dollars -- the single largest transfer of wealth upwards in the history of this country since the land grants the railroads received 140 years ago – a program BO is in favor of. It requires telling the lower and middle class of your country that there is no money for healthcare, social security, infrastructure, etc. while we spend over one trillion dollars (9% of GDP, 6th largest consumer of petroleum resources if it were its own country, which in effect it is) -- more than the rest of the world combined -- on offensive warfare. (Combined, warfare, its subsequent amelioration, and corporate profits, account for close to 25% of GDP -- enough to wipe out all want and poverty in this and many other countries)

It requires support for the planet-destroying nuclear energy industry, for the use of DU weapons, for Uranium mining and radioactive tailings blowing in the glowering western winds, for the irradiation of our planet for hundreds of millions of years -- which BO is in favor of.

It requires supporting the nefarious, deadly GMO conspiracy -- ADM, Cargill, Monsanto, Con-Agra, Syngenta, etc. -- which together with Buffett and Gates, seek to OWN and control the food supply of the entire world, regardless of the murder that causes, or the health and environmental effects of such a policy, and having already shamelessly and criminally contaminated mankind’s several heritage crops – corn, for one, while pushing peasants, through so-called “free-trade” agricultural export policies, into starvation, undercutting and destroying local producers in the name of corporate profits.

It requires support of a media system, educational system, and cultural industry -- a vast propaganda apparatus dwarfing any the former Soviet Union ever had -- which keeps the vast majority of our country completely distracted and entertained, while completely ignorant of the violence our country causes; of the ecological consequences of our daily life; of how, where, and under what labor conditions resources are extracted, and subsequently assembled into the ephemeral consumer products of our capitalist existence; of basic issues of cause and effect; of even the most elementary level of critical thinking, all the while eternally testing (No Child Left Behind) and forcing the rote memorization of trivia, lies, distortions, and propaganda; and continuously instilling a pathologically destructive belief in American Exceptionalism -- a cultish religion which is capable of excusing any level of violence, genocide (Iraq, nuking Japan, firebombing Dresden) and destruction because "we mean well." It requires vocal public support for the cult belief in endless growth which is cutting out the support systems necessary for life on this planet exponentially faster. It requires vocal public support for the murderous ideology that people should service capital, rather than capital servicing human needs, that is to say, Capitalism – an ideology based upon individual greed and societal atomization, which even most here on this blog believe COULD SOMEHOW (????) be properly regulated and restrained before it consumes the entire planet, ouroboros-like, including the proverbial final noose. All of the above, by definition, is supported by BO categorically, wholeheartedly, and without precondition.

It requires support for the continued socially unsustainable upward redistribution of wealth -- albeit, with a few Clintonite sops thrown in to quell the masses (Almost one trillion in combined profits for the energy giants -- oil, coal, nuclear), while perhaps several billion will be very publicly spread around (mostly to large corporations) for "renewables" and coal gasification, etc. It requires support for Insurance company based, privately afforded and purchased, donut-riddled, safety-net catastrophic illness systems; no health care system; uncritical support for the vampirish drug and cancer industry, which encourages the upward redistribution of wealth and impoverishment of the underclass by the creation of all manner of narrow-minded, blindered, complicit specialists, often paid upwards of half a million dollars a year (as if dispensing drugs were really more difficult than fixing brakes on a car, both of which are “life-affecting”), to dispense drugs, radiation, and surgery, to what has exploded from one-in-thirteen to one-in-three, projected to reach one-in-two of our population within my lifetime, all the while ostrich-like sticking their educated, pampered heads in the sand to the obvious causes to this epidemic, amelioration of which would be “politically unacceptable.” It requires support for a universal soma-like national medication system, involving up to one in three of the population, so that they don’t completely freak-out by whatever small bits of actual reality of our situation actually does creep in; so that they don’t feel personal or collective pain, but can still feel jingoistic national frenzy; while heedlessly polluting our waterways with their drug-laden urine, causing havoc among fish and wildlife .

It requires all of this, and more -- infinitely more than I care to detail in this short post -- and none of the corporations which invested over half a billion dollars in BO’s selection have any doubt in his (or his running mates, should he falter as JFK did) ability to continue to perpetrate these crimes against humanity and life itself. (Strange how little interest in voting irregularities the left suddenly has now that their side has won.)

Pravda recently stated that compared to the Bush regime, only the devil could be worse. Perhaps they are right. But there is a remarkable continuity of violence in support of the perpetration of empire ("Our way of life," if you will) from Presidency to Presidency. Every single President has supported all of what I have described above, unwaveringly, as will BO. All of them have worked ceaselessly to expand economic influence, kill off peasants and natives, and spread around the girdle of the globe as fast as possible -- like some sort of out-of-control human yeast infection, laying claim to every thing, concept, and idea they have come across. All of them have come up with pitifully puerile, and pathologically violent, "Doctrines," excusing or justifying all of this for State Historians and Public Intellectuals to analyze, normalize, natter over on talk shows, and otherwise drool over for the edification of the masses.

Not even the most hysterical person I have encountered has expected BO to continue, or exceed, Bush's level of overt confrontation. But not even the most optimistic, most Kool-Aid-inebriated groupie expects BO to reverse all of the damage done by Bush -- to be able to miraculously bring us back to the exalted, whistfully reminisced year, 2000, when only two-thirds of Iraq was being bombed daily.

The "Ratchet Effect" is the operative metaphor here. We will get a troop drawdown in Iraq, and the closing of Gitmo. (These items are elite planner consensus, and would have happened even if McCain had magically been selected won. We will not get a cessation of violence world-wide, in any way. The Empire is a shark which consumes all in its path and it will continue to be so. We will not get the closing of the many other Gulags of Empire beside Gitmo, many in other "friendly" countries, most unknown to all but a few who monitor CIA plane landings world-wide, and unpublicized. We will not get a redefinition of torture, nor will we get a restoration of the constitutional rights taken away from us. Instead, we will get another faux-terrorist 9-11, a further crack-down on our freedoms (small as they are), further monitoring of all behavior, the introduction and normalization of a new family of offensive weapons: so-called "non-violent" crowd control technologies, of which tasers are merely the first public launching, continued spying, filming, data-mining of all of our actions, resulting in the public culling of a vocal few to great calmative effect upon the many. Under Holbrooke, Albright, Ross, Powers, and Rice (and Soros), we will get fewer "offensive" wars, and more "humanitarian" ones, and, of course, a huge ratcheting up of economic ones (begun already by the IMF and commodities price manipulation). (Yugoslavia and Rwanda have been adequately discussed here. The violence inflicted upon civilian life and structure is identical regardless of the justifications of Empire.) We will get more NGO intervention (read your Arundhati Roy on this pernicious weapon) to "aid" the afflicted.

The style of this administration will be much better, easier on the eye and the ear: We will be treated to the intelligent (if equally deceitful) disquisitions of a Clinton, along with the now ubiquitous (hollow) national self-congratulatory Afro-American, Horatio Alger story -- four years from State Senator to President -- and to the Kennedy-like Camelot cult fairy tale of a young couple steering a nation towards a new, even greater, America. We’ll feast our eyes on better clothes, savor over better meals being prepared in the White House, and proudly watch as all manner of liberal Public Intellectuals fawn over the new power couple at Affairs of State. Perhaps Maya Angelou will even write a poem:

Here on the pulse of this new day
You may have the grace to look up and out
And into your sister's eyes, into
Your brother's face, your country
And say simply
Very simply
With hope
Good morning.

(She wrote those lines before NAFTA, before welfare reform, before the US abetted bloody coups in Rwanda, and Haiti, and before the half million dead children in Iraq -- which not a single member of the ruling elite sought to contradict the bi-partisan sentiment that it was all, somehow, in Albright’s dark wording, “worth it.”)

And the symbolizism will be much softer. We will hear talk about humanity’s needs, and nation’s struggles against bad leaders and violent renegade movements, who must be overthrown for the welfare of the people. But nothing I’ve detailed above will change in the least. The vast bi-partisan death juggernaut will miss nary a beat. If our President appears less extreme, the climate (in more ways than one) will become even more extreme. And yet, perhaps the Cubs will finally go all the way one of these next four years. So we do have hope and there is much to look forward too.

But, seriously: In light of the vast, bi-partisan, undiscussed but universally accepted narrative and agenda, and the monstrous destruction it causes world-wide, focusing on BO’s purported, public-image manipulated, personality traits – his “decency as a human being”; or as NPR does in support of the cult-of-personality of the President, eternally filling dead air time with endless chipper-voiced stories of BO’s poker playing aptitude and strategy, his version of manhood compared to the hip-hop model, and anything else that the thirty-something, well-adjusted, metrosexual, young producers can mine from the cartoon-addled recesses of their normalized imaginations – imaginations which can dream up anything imbued with diaphanous “hope,” but are repulsed by “downers” like death and destruction – is, as I said above – completely irrelevant.

Posted by b on November 11, 2008 at 16:57 UTC | Permalink


Archer Daniels ADM up +52% for the month !
Cargill ----------
Monsanto MON up 11% for the month !
Con-Agra CAG (down 5% for the month)
Syngenta SYT up 13% for the month !
Chevron CVX up 28% for the month !

b, you are a life-saver, you've turned around my 401k portfolio!!

But seriously b, in eight years under Bush you never penned half
the ad hominem's and forward-looking projections on Der Decider,
that you've daily ranted and diatribed, since just one week ago.

Xanax is calling...

Posted by: Frank Gifford | Nov 11 2008 17:33 utc | 1

AFAIC, you take whole bunch of largely relevant facts, conflate them w/a bunch of other (at best) semi-relevant facts, then wad the whole thing up into an ornament you hang around OB's neck saying: This is who I (OB) am.

You're as far off to the marxist side as neo-cons are to the destructive, lieing "freedom"/expansionist/exploitive policies of last 8 years. You conflate as is suits your view. Acknowledging self-evident distinctions seems to elude your perception. You impute motives where no association w/the same are in evidence.

There's plenty of problems here... ok crimes, no doubt about that. What do you propose? I don't see anything in your post (or prior ones for that matter).

IMO your statements are unsophisticated, and lack any element of corrective measure. You suggest "American exceptionalism" as cause(s) where conditions you attribute were well established distinct from and prior to US influence.

What are your ideas for corrective measures? What are "voting irregularities" you suggest in such a venemous way? Please show me evidence of BO's wedded'ness to all the evil associations you assert. Etc etc etc...

With all due respect, you completely lose my interest w/this stuff.

Posted by: jdmckay | Nov 11 2008 17:39 utc | 2

With all due respect, you completely lose my interest w/this stuff.

I scrolled after as BO already has done.

Posted by: Regular Poster | Nov 11 2008 17:57 utc | 3

Once again, Malooga, your comments are nothing short of brilliant, and I agree with every point. The truth hurts, but only through recognizing that pain, rather than denying it and clinging to false hope, can we truly overcome. When people lash out at you here, they are reacting to the pain your words invoke, and unjustly blaming you for that pain.

Posted by: Obamageddon | Nov 11 2008 18:10 utc | 4


Posted by: timidcurious | Nov 11 2008 18:45 utc | 5

@1 - But seriously b, in eight years under Bush you never penned half
the ad hominem's and forward-looking projections on Der Decider,
that you've daily ranted and diatribed, since just one week ago.

Check the archives.

Posted by: b | Nov 11 2008 19:32 utc | 6

us imperialism is remains the greatest threat to humanity

but there is something in my dark & fanatic heart - that wants to believe that a nation can be like person & be practically self-reflexive. that there exists a will in the american people that can pull us back from the abyss - tho in my cerebral cortex - i think we have already gone over

what i feel is ahistorical, i know - for the facts are with malooga, here & there can't be much question of that. obama, though as an expression of the will of the people may be capable of of recognising the empire is dead & that this nation must live conretely with that reality

if it cannot stop its imperialist impulse - it will become - as have sd very, very ugly indeed

french & british imperialism did not yield easily - in essence they had to be shamed into it - even tho the leaders of both britain & france have pretensions that correspong to no other reality than the one in the most revanchist history books

britain has never realised that since suez - it is a laughing stock - that its pompous parade of puppets whether wilson thatcher blair or brown only underline their sad & dangerous delusions of grandeur but at a functional level i believe they understand their proper impotence before history & even before the current conditions

the real light for me comes from latin america - from their people & from their cadre

the real question indeed the absolut question for me remains - equality of opportunity - where this does not exist then that nation or empire is lost

what is happening today is that through this election - american exceptionalism - is being sold again today - like a hoary & ragged cloth - that is not the fault of obama but on the limits of the imagination of the elites

unlike malooga tho i do not find the decency or intelligence of obama, irrelavant . a real intelligence, a real decency can change many, many things. whether it is powerful enough to change the essential elements of capitalism & its highest stage, imperiialism is another question entirely

as i have also sd i do not think we will have to wait very long to witness which way the wind will blow - events are clearly surpassing men & their flimsy structures & their ill begotten ideas. immediate history is & will confront this next administration in a way perhaps imperialism has ever been confronted

the lineaments of what is the next stage in capital's narrative are revealing themselves very quickly

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 11 2008 19:55 utc | 7

According to another fine mind that posts here (not nearly enough), Im' prolly in your your camp

Regarding recently discussed Super market's and their empty shelves here and here as well as my #28 and others posts in that same thread, I knew there were other fishiness that I couldn't recall at that moment, well whatda know, it came to me after seeing the following

On store shelves, stealthy shrinking of containers keeps prices from rising


Across the supermarket, manufacturers are trimming packages, nipping a half-ounce off that bar of soap, narrowing the width of toilet paper and shrinking the size of ice cream containers.

Often the changes are so subtle that they create "the illusion that you are buying the same amount," explained Frank Luby, a pricing consultant with Simon-Kucher & Partners of Cambridge, Mass.

The reason I bring it up here, is in response to #1...
Archer Daniels ADM up +52% for the month !.

Wonder why that is...

ADM is part and parcel of the whole game of 'structural violence', and as I have said before, we can not afford to see these things as aberration's or anomalies anymore, they are all part of the same either direct or indirect possibly methodical, social control of the tightening noose. The great herding.

I don't have time to find it now, however, I'll post it later, but I had a article the explained that with a mere 4.3% of the so called bail out, we could feed everyone on this planet. However the ptb, would rather prey on the powerless for profit. Now in their their unsalable thirst for power and control, they are preying on the comfortable; funny how the [working] poor and the destitute, only catch a break when the upper class fights back, which they haven't yet, but they are beginning to stir from their slumber.

Excellent post Malooga!

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 11 2008 20:16 utc | 8

find myself falling between jacobs & greene at counterpunch

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 11 2008 20:25 utc | 9

i didn't notice that Malooga was in the ticket for the WH...
although he could propose them, he doesn't have a 'correctiving measures' job, does he? i thought it was the OB guy who was running for this job.
and OB is one man, and he's got in front of him a huuuge machine of greed and destruction... who's gonna change who?

you sd "ok, crimes", ok crimes???
obviously you never saw this little, ok, crimes with your own eyes, or felt them in your flesh...
countless fellow humans are, in this very moment, experiencing it

the meme "american exceptionalism, the last hope of earth" should be read downwards, cause it means exactly the opposite

Posted by: rudolf | Nov 11 2008 20:33 utc | 10

downwards ~= inverted, reversed (?)
(can't find the right word)

Posted by: rudolf | Nov 11 2008 20:38 utc | 11

It’s posts like this Malooga, that keep me vigilantly lurking and sorting through the mass of verbiage here at the Moon. Whether you can hang all you say unquestioningly on OB remains to be seen but your enumeration of the pernicious items of empire resound in my mind as I daily search for words to express my understandings and outrage to friends (or anyone who will listen).

Thank you. Please post more often again.

Posted by: Juannie | Nov 11 2008 21:03 utc | 12

Excellente! Malooga. Thanks for the perspective that is easy to loose.

Posted by: Intelvet | Nov 11 2008 21:27 utc | 13

No doubt much of the inventory you describe is true and are the exclusive property of the U.S. empire, that Obama will of course be compelled inherit by hook or by crook. I don't know who's fantasy it is that it could somehow be otherwise - that Obama or any other person electable in the U.S. could magically and overnight bring about a massive and profound change to the inertia of empire. For all practical reasons I don't see the point of entertaining any such expectation outside of some psychological necessity of remaining aloof in some idealistic ivory tower. An ivory tower every bit as delusional as one that sees Obama as the messiah, or one that sees him as a populist face of one world fascism. Frankly, I prefer to hold my expectations a little closer to reality.

I will actually breath a little bit easier if the new administration out of the gate repeals the directives against stem cell research, or SCHIP, CIA torture license, bulldozes Gitmo, or removes the tax cuts for the rich. Or if they nix the Poland missile program, and end the Iraq war. I'll see these as positive steps in the right direction. While others will say its a veiled step toward islamofascism or communism, or simply as the inevitable symptoms of a collapsing empire, let alone celebrate the decisions on their own merit, as decisions made among other choices. Just as I expect to be disappointed when the right choices are not taken for political and practical reasons, because while your laundry list of ills is balanced on the pyramid of American empire, the rest of the world is either integrally entwined in that empire or are furiously constructing their own. Most, if not all you're list of economic, human rights, environmental, and etc. violations can equally apply to most nation states if not in scale then at least in spirit. The U.S. empire at this time and space being simply the largest, and therefore, the most destructive.

My basic argument though, is not to deny the evils you site. But to question the wisdom of universally condemning solutions, before they have a chance to succeed.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 11 2008 21:39 utc | 14

Thank you anna missed.

[I'm going to go eat worms now]

Posted by: beq | Nov 11 2008 21:59 utc | 15

Beat me to the punch beq. Thanks a.m.

Gonna pass on the worms tho'.

Posted by: Hamburger | Nov 11 2008 22:02 utc | 16

As far as exceptionalism goes, Obama is in many ways compelled to embrace it. In the deeper sense American exceptionalism is rooted in its political system that (supposedly) guarantees an equal platform of opportunity. From that (supposedly) unique political construction flows the notion that it's a "better" or exceptional system of governance that Americans share. In many ways America is wedded to exceptionalism by necessity of its profoundly multicultural/racial demographic - where the more garden variety racial or sectarian ideals of exceptionalism are trumped by the national (exceptional) identity. Otherwise, the many groups would collapse into an unwieldy collection of competing ethno/sectarian identities. In this sense, Obama himself is a triumph of American exceptionalism.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 11 2008 22:14 utc | 17


am with you very often but i cannot share your optimism. it is an optimsm that has destroyed people i know generation after generation, country after country

the times are so so dark - anything outside of gramsci's optimism of the will pessimism of the intellect tries to reach too far

the situation as i see it - is as it is in latin america - the ball is in the people's court. they & they alone can transform the words that come out of ob's mouth into materiality. only they have the means & endurance to do so

nelson mandela is a very, very great man but even this man, this extraordinary man with the love of his people in his heart could not change south africa to the extent it needs to be changed - land ownership/redistribution - is only one example but sadly there are many. the freeing & then the election of nelson mandela gave his people & the world a moment of great joy - of seeing possibilities where one onlu once saw bleakness - but the forces of imperialism, the imf colonialialism's claws were set to deeply in the skin - & tho there has been change in south africa it is too little - even after all these years. the principal beneficiaries reamin white elites & the black bourgeoisie they have cultivated

the struggle for justice gave birth to nelson mandela & struggle constructed an extraordinary man

barrack obama is not nelson mandela. he is a parliamentary politician. he may be a very freat man but the forces allied against him are extraordinary & in a country like america i think it is appropriate to fear for his safety

my hope is that he can convince at least some of the crooks that create capital that their path will lead only to the tomb - theirs & ours - that he can convince them of the practical need of vision - it is clearly not enough - but if he did at least some of the things that you demand annamissed in your 2nd paragraph - i would understand that the times will have changed enough that at least there can be reflection

i want humanism to be expressed practically, i want equallity of opportunity, i want the weight on the people's back to be lifted

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 11 2008 22:16 utc | 18

& i think all that mallooga is suggesting - is that this is not the time to rest on our asses. it is clear to me that our malooga is not an armchair theorist or cynic but has a clear eyes on what people must do on the ground & for that i thank himfor even the harshest reminder

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 11 2008 22:23 utc | 19


I simply worry that the universal condemnation of optimism tends to breed only a glum dispossession, inaction, and ultimately resignation - as a defense mechanism. If there are no expectations, then there are no disappointments and the lethargy marches on.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 11 2008 22:49 utc | 20

Malooga has lots of good points with which I could agree.
That said, the US isn't the fastest growing or fastest collapsing empire ever. Arguably, Alexander's, Napoleon's, Timur's, Hitler's went up and down far quicker - for different reasons in each case of course.

Now, we have to keep in mind that Obama is no god, the US of A is no allmighty deity. For all its faults and evil, despite all its power, it cannot conquer forever. Everything has an end.
Then, it's nothing new. Polybius said it a very long time ago, prophesying what would happen 550 years before the actual sack of Rome by the Goths.

From Book 38 (depicting the fall and annihilation of Carthage by Rome)
21 Turning round to me at once and grasping my hand Scipio said, "A glorious moment, Polybius; but I have a dread foreboding that some day the same doom will be pronounced on my own country." It would be difficult to mention an utterance more statesmanlike and more profound. 2 For at the moment of our greatest triumph and of disaster to our enemies to reflect on our own situation and on the possible reversal of circumstances, and generally to bear in mind at the season of success the mutability of Fortune, is like a great and perfect man, a man in short worthy to be remembered.

22 Scipio, when he looked upon the city as it was utterly perishing and in the last throes of its complete destruction, is said to have shed tears and wept openly for his enemies. 2 After being wrapped in thought for long, and realizing that all cities, nations, and authorities must, like men, meet their doom; that this happened to Ilium, once a prosperous city, to the empires of Assyria, Media, and Persia, the greatest of their time, and to Macedonia itself, the brilliance of which was so recent, either deliberately or the verses escaping him, he said:
A day will come when sacred Troy shall perish,
And Priam and his people shall be slain.
3 And when Polybius speaking with freedom to him, for he was his teacher, asked him what he meant by the words, they say that without any attempt at concealment he named his own country, for which he feared when he reflected on the fate of all things human. Polybius actually heard him and recalls it in his history.

Posted by: CluelessJoe | Nov 11 2008 22:56 utc | 21


i think we are all in agreement on that. that n this moment, of all moments we need action, not apathy & that is how i read malooga - that our day to day actions are the real construction of light. the greene article on counterpunch expresses well how these last 8 years have been physically oppressive - so it is good that we breathe a little better - knowing that the monsters who had nearly succeeded in destroying a people - are forced out, shamed

equally, that the times we are living in require hope but also tenacity, nay even ferocity

& i remember well the presumption that blair would energise the left - instead of betraying it in as deep a way as the labor party in the 1926 general strike. he was sold as light but he has brought nothing but darkness, surveillance, fear & antisocial orders to that country. australia, new zealand & canada are other examples of how social democrats used the illusion of hope to create the greates inequalities of opportunities since the 19th century

guarded hope but hope itself must be guarded against betrayal

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 11 2008 23:26 utc | 22

Obama came out of nowhere & created a political will for his "vision" where there was nothing. And he's too smart to squander it. Its an inversion of America's culture wars that two-thirds of America's White youth declared for Obama. And there is no possibility that he will let them down. While past presidents have sought a core "middle-class" constituency, Obama ventured that White youth amongst others could constitute for him what the middle-class had for his predecessors. And he was right by about 7 points.

curiosity is the lead into thinking. Then comes the relentless thinking & re-factoring into the "new" ground that may define Obama's turf. And he's not under any circumstances going to risk his painfully earned political goodwill/legitimacy on policies that he has not rigorously converged into.

its hard to see how theres a better option than seeking to turn America's immense strengths to its advantage like no one has in modern American political history. And with the rest of the world rooting for him too, if theres a sweet-spot that brings it all together, Obama will find it.

Posted by: jony_b_cool | Nov 12 2008 1:00 utc | 23

I teach teachers how to better reflect in writing what they do, and so to take leadership of their schools. Many of them who benefit most from my instruction are Latina or African-American, and they understand that politics is politics, but they and their children are still heartened that a majority of voters have said, "I do not despise you for your color", that perhaps the people here are built on something stronger than racism.

It means the people here might accept leadership in spite of racism, which is self-hatred directed out. It is a promise that we might have it within us to survive. If you believe there is no one to save you but yourself and perhaps your fellow human beings, it is something to have evidence that others are willing to believe in you as well.

Honestly, who among us expects to be saved by some hero leader fighting the tides of history?

No one I hope. Our task is like salmon swimming upstream: we have to learn to find and ride the counterswirls in the river that give us just enough counter-motion against the current that we can leap barriers and survive despite the downward direction history constantly sweeps us.

Posted by: citizen | Nov 12 2008 1:14 utc | 24

And with the rest of the world rooting for him too, if theres a sweet-spot that brings it all together, Obama will find it.

And if he does, well, lets just put it this way, they aren't calling him the neo JFK for nothing.

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 12 2008 1:40 utc | 25

Strike One:Obama's Plan To Expand Afghan War/Get Bin Laden

Strike Two:Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact

President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party.

As a candidate, Mr. Obama said the CIA's interrogation program should adhere to the same rules that apply to the military, which would prohibit the use of techniques such as waterboarding. He has also said the program should be investigated.

Yet he more recently voted for a White House-backed law to expand eavesdropping powers for the National Security Agency. Mr. Obama said he opposed providing legal immunity to telecommunications companies that aided warrantless surveillance, but ultimately voted for the bill, which included an immunity provision.

The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight.


Unlike the above-discussed report about Obama's intentions concerning executive orders, which was confirmed by Obama transition chief John Podesta, reports like this should be taken with a hefty dose of cynicism, as they are often used by people to push a President-elect in the direction they want him to go. Still, there's no question that there will be immense pressure on Obama among his closest advisers not to follow through on the commitments he made on issues relating to executive power, and -- as the article suggests -- Obama's past support for FISA expansions and telecom immunity (after he promised he would oppose them) lends credence to these reports.

How many goals before the punt?

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 12 2008 1:49 utc | 26

i hope president obama will have the good taste to have jimi hendrix's star spangled banner at his inaugaration

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 12 2008 2:17 utc | 27

I agree that Malooga has presented a great deal of pertinent info about the empire. We don't know where America will go from here; however I feel it is fair to say that the recent election is a watershed moment for American democracy, not only in terms of the great evil that was cut off, but in the possibility of real recuperation of jurisprudence in the long run, given that Obama will win another term in office.

Every little bit helps when it comes to the restoration of the rule of law; and the rehabilitation of federal agencies under Obama's administration will do some real good. Agency accountability and the lifting of a regime of secrecy will restore confidence throughout the country. The Bush administration bled the entire executive branch of civic virtues, and I look forward to a reversal of that situation. As various parts of the body politic begin to heal, other parts of the government anatomy will begin to respond to treatment.

Malooga's enumeration of imperial evils and his rightful indignation at the various agencies that carry out the dirty work are horrible facts, which I would in no way dispute.

I don't think Malooga's dire prognosis and dismissal of Obama's decency is reasonable, from a political point of view. He may think I'm am exaggerating, but I don't think America is the same nation after this election. I also disagree with his belief that Obama will not do some significant work to restore constitutional checks and balances, restore habeas corpus, and address torture and other abuses of human rights. The removal of the prisoners at Gitmo from military special tribunals and their transfer to the jurisdiction of US Courts is every bit as powerful a statement, as the closing of the prison itself.

Posted by: Copeland | Nov 12 2008 6:45 utc | 28

The fever has been running high here at MOA as of late, perhaps we could all use a stress breaker. Nothing does it better than laughter,SO I'm told. Some of you may remember Richard Pryor. Damn I loved that guy...

Richard Pryor, 1st black President

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Nov 12 2008 7:41 utc | 29

As Arthur Silber has pointed out numerous times, the office of the Presidency...requires a level of pathological violence which no one here would countenance in a family member, and which instantly would land you in jail, or worse, if you were a member of the underclass and stole one billionth of what any President does, or were responsible for one billionth of the death, destruction, violence, and mayhem.

What a crock. Fancy quoting serial apocolypse drama-queen Silber to illustrate your paranoiac worldview. (I know, Chris Floyd worships him).

If you have an intelligent, forward-thinking, honest, courageous president, the man moulds the office, not the reverse.

Obama has a minefield that he can negotiate if he doesn't have panicky morons throwing shitballs at him.

Thus far he's done nothing except show the chimp the door. Any speculation (and there's plenty of that around here) is just that; airy-fairy nonsense that serves only to gratify its purveyor.

In a scathing put down of bloviator Armando Llorens who's rubbished Obama for twelve months, John Cole (no brains trust himself) points out "In other words, there is a lot of bullshit floating around out there. No one knows what is going on, no decisions have been made. The press is in a vacuum, publishing rumor and innuendo, and you have no clue what Obama’s opinion on torture, Gitmo, or anything else is beyond what he has publicly stated repeatedly and campaigned upon, and for you, working from a profound position of ignorance (your normal state, I might add) to state that Obama all of a sudden supports torture but “merely wants greater oversight,” deserves nothing other than a firm round of South Park, the Musical ( link is totally NSFW, totally immature, and totally encapsulates my firm feelings about the biggest bloviating moron writing for a left-wing blog)....Yes, right now the “Cult of Obama” wants you to STFU. At least until he, you know, actually does something that deserves your derision. And if and when he does, we will join you. Until then, amuse yourself writing diaries for No Quarter, and while you are at it, do us a favor and ask Larry about the “Whitey” tape. Wanker.

In the comments..."As an Obama cultist, I say save criticism until Obama is on the 50 cent coin or on Mt. Rushmore."

I'll settle for February.

Posted by: waldo | Nov 12 2008 7:57 utc | 30

citizen we have to learn to find and ride the counterswirls in the river that give us just enough counter-motion against the current that we can leap barriers and survive despite the downward direction history constantly sweeps us.

then do we lay our eggs!

I'll settle for February.

me too. i'm taking a self imposed breather. not so sure it serves us to condemn him prior to him taking office. i'm sort of excited about what he does the first couple weeks.

anna missed, yep

Posted by: annie | Nov 12 2008 13:53 utc | 31


i want humanism to be expressed practically

Exactly right. Everything else is just wasted air, wasted energy, whether it be benign or malign. We've been carefully trained to accept politics as an endless hermetic ritual. I'm pinning everything on the fact that I do recognize Obama as a fellow human being, not some heirophant in Brooks Brothers robes.

Posted by: Tantalus | Nov 12 2008 14:06 utc | 32

I'm always afraid to post comments like this to a blog because, on a personal level, I am barely keeping my head above water, and on a discourse level, a certain amount of energy is involved in composing a piece like this and after (excuse me) shooting my intellectual wad, I am always dismayed by the far greater effort of defending, conceding, amplifying, refining, etc. one's thesis rather then moving on to the next glimmering conception -- especially on blogs where posts go stale in a day or two -- longer than it takes my for ideas to ferment and clarify.

Last year I posted a rather long response on Louis Proyect's blog which was picked up by deanander on Stan Goff's blog. Immediately after this event my life was hit by another of its now almost normalized cataclysms and, bereft of home and income, I could not personally justify computer time while the big belly and various other little bellies cried out. I'm not quite there today, but if I disappear please understand that I do not shy in the least from an intellectual conflict but rather must often answer to baser but more fundamental needs.

That said, it appears to me that my comment has, in general, been grossly misunderstood. I hope to be able to attempt a longer response and clarification.

However, let me say this at this point: More important than my belief or disbelief in Hope, is my belief that Hope MUST be grounded in objective analysis. This seems to me the only grounds for intellectual discourse -- already a tautology for those who can read between the lines. Great societal emotional waves may change the course of History, but they will always be led by those who have done the analysis.

Don't get me wrong -- I am not a vanguardist in the least, I am far more of an anarchist, and for that reason I believe that Hope, if it is to exist, lies in engaging all in critical discourse and analysis.

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 12 2008 15:20 utc | 33

Strange how little interest in voting irregularities the left suddenly has now that their side has won

not so sure about what is meant by 'the left' -- obama w/o illusions was a popular mantra in the runup to election day -- however the center for media and democracy has a wiki that has been gathering facts about those irregularities which may be of interest.

Election Protection Wiki: The One-Stop Website for Guarding the Vote

What went wrong with voting in last night's U.S. elections, and what went right? The election itself is over except for a few recounts, but the election process is still being scrutinized.

The Election Protection Wiki, online at, is the Center for Media and Democracy's non-partisan collaboration of citizens, journalists and researchers, a one-stop-shop for exposing voter suppression and other threats to election integrity. We collect just the straight facts that are fully referenced to external, verifiable sources. You can get directly involved; we need your help!

for instance, a new entry today is Colorado: Over 44,000 voters purged from registration rolls before election day, according to Sec. of State (Nov.12, 2008)

Posted by: b real | Nov 12 2008 15:26 utc | 34

Can anyone here explain to me what the difference between "obama w/o illusions" and "support our troops" is? They both seem to support military engagement and death around the peripheral world (Obama's own public statements and campaign promises) without critical thought. Seems to me to be more of an internecine team struggle. What does the underclass believe? Are the Pakistanis for "O w/o I"? I never realized how much Chomsky, Zinn, et al. channeled the prejudices of their own pampered class.

Posted by: Malooga | Nov 12 2008 16:17 utc | 35

my perceptions

obama w/o illusions == bottom-up tactical response to playing the voting game as rigged/constrained - a strategic move to repudiate against the greater of two evils - w/ full understanding that brand O does not represent the ideal choice & taking the few minutes it takes to check the box does not imply complacency & recognized the obligation to exert pressure from the grassroots level

support our troops == top-down social control tactic wherein natural affinity for human bonds is converted into what is essentially complacent/passive support for the machine & decisions at the top

from what i read - not confirmed - chomsky voted mckinney & zinn voted nader

Posted by: b real | Nov 12 2008 16:41 utc | 36

Copeland: *I don't think Malooga's dire prognosis and dismissal of Obama's decency is reasonable, from a political point of view. He may think I'm am exaggerating, but I don't think America is the same nation after this election.*

The myth is that this was a transformational election. Some great radical change has overcome the nation in which America has been energised and found its soul. The voting figures tell a different story:

Voter turnout at historic "landmark" transformational elections
1979 UK 81%
1980 USA 54%
1997 UK 71%
2008 USA 64%

% of registered electorate voting in those elections for the winning party/candidate:
1979 UK Thatcher/Tories 33%
1980 USA Reagan 27%
1997 UK Blair/Labour 31%
2008 USA Obama 31%

A third of the USA failed to vote in the election. Two thirds did not vote for Obama. No change. The mass of the people followed their ususal unthinking instincts and voted or not as they always do, supporting their party as they support their football club. There has been a change at the White House - a brainless white man is leaving and an intelligent man of colour is coming in. Jubilations and celebrations. Sweaty night caps have been flung in the air. We must expect that Leviathan will surely continue to lurch instinctively in the same preordained direction heedless of any shrill urgings from the new keeper charged with its care and feeding.

Posted by: Kelso | Nov 12 2008 16:45 utc | 37


If you remember, we had a long and surprisingly bloody debate on the issue of faith here a few months ago - interesting that some of those issues are showing themselves now. We're being asked to believe that Obama will make a difference, to have faith.

I want Obama to effect change, but I have no reason to believe that he will. My lack of faith has something to do with what we know about his political record, but a lot to do with my knowledge and experience of politicians. I want to put my trust in him as a human being of intelligence and integrity, yet I believe that to do so would be acting against my best interests.

I don't believe, however, that Obama's election should be the signal for those of us who believe in absolutes - peace, justice, equality - to relax into moral compromise. I'm looking foward to the positives that seem to be on the way. But I'm betting that the moment the killing starts to slow down just a bit we're in for another 'mission accomplished' moment, and it will come from what the Right so laughably calls 'the Left.' They'll tell us every little gain is a miracle, but it won't be. And as you point out, Anno 2000 wasn't any sort of Annus Mirabilis. There is no point to which we can turn back the clock and say 'here's the Golden Age.'

Again, like rgiap, I want humanism to be expressed practically. I'm trying to share the hope of others that Obama knows how to do that.

Posted by: Tantalus | Nov 12 2008 17:23 utc | 38

1979 UK 81%
1980 USA 54%
1997 UK 71%
2008 USA 64%

i am not sure how comparing the US turn out w/UK turnout is relevant.

A third of the USA failed to vote in the election. Two thirds did not vote for Obama. No change.

hmm, interesting perspective. tho not roundly shared. mcClatchy

"Yesterday, more young people voted than in any election since 18-year-olds won the right to vote in 1972,"

there are more ways to look at the election than simply by the number of voters. who voted and how they voted. states that had not voted for a republican prez for many years (virginia 4 decades) went blue. Obama won more popular votes than any other president in our history. i heard 9 states flipped from red to blue.

The mass of the people followed their ususal unthinking instincts and voted or not as they always do

not necessarily. who chooses to be apathetic and why can tell a very different story. if minority and youth participation is unprecedented, and social or fiscal conservative participation lingers, it could represent a shift that one won't see simply looking at the number of voters.

"It's not at all a historic election in terms of turnout," said Curtis Gans, the director of the Committee for the Study of the American Electorate at American University in Washington.

What may be historic is the registration and turnout of Democrats and the activity in some formerly solid "red" states such as North Carolina.

Posted by: annie | Nov 12 2008 17:42 utc | 39

another thing, young voters generally stick to party affiliation later on, more often for not. most of those youth voters voted dem. that coupled w/the fact the demographics is going to be moving towards more minority voters, not less, means this could be the beginning of the end for the lily white gop.

Posted by: annie | Nov 12 2008 17:48 utc | 40

one more thing regarding kelso's assertion The myth is that this was a transformational election. Some great radical change has overcome the nation

i am in the camp of believing in stolen elections for 2000 an 04. had this been another case of cash surplus the rethugs would have had a harder time letting this one go. my point being we really don't know what the margins were in those last 2 elections but we were led to believe it was fairly neck 'n neck. my guess is the demographics led to larger dem populace prior to this election than was reported. election watchers posited we were going to have to have a landslide to really win this last one. registration was up 42 million from 04 and Obama won by almost 8 million votes, i don't know the last time there was a spread like that in the popular vote.


#Obama was the first Democratic nominee to win the presidency without winning five or more states of the American South. He was the first presidential candidate of either party since 1968 to win the presidency without winning Louisiana and Arkansas, as well as Tennessee and Kentucky since 1960.

# Neither candidate on the winning ticket was from the states of the old Confederacy; not since Harry Truman and Alben Barkley in 1948 had such a Democratic ticket won. Although a few Democratic tickets during that time had two northerners (in 1968, 1972 and 1984), this was the first time that such a ticket won a majority of the vote in even one Southern state

that info may not resonate in the UK, but it means something here.

Posted by: annie | Nov 12 2008 18:16 utc | 41

Nice to see that Robot Wisdom blog is linking to MoA posts. I've enjoyed Jorn's links and writing for years. Link

Posted by: biklett | Nov 12 2008 18:18 utc | 42

half-hour against the grain interview w/ immanuel wallerstein
New Day, Black Clouds

It may be a new day under Obama, but economic black clouds loom. Immanuel Wallerstein reflects on Obama's victory and describes the current crisis as a depression, placing it in the context of broad political-economic trends.

Posted by: b real | Nov 12 2008 23:04 utc | 43

wallerstein - le capitalisme touche a sa fin

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 12 2008 23:35 utc | 44

I simply worry that the universal condemnation of optimism tends to breed only a glum dispossession, inaction, and ultimately resignation - as a defense mechanism. If there are no expectations, then there are no disappointments and the lethargy marches on.

Yup. B's saying that there is no hope, so why bother?

He also sees conspiracies in his beer.

Posted by: | Nov 13 2008 3:28 utc | 45

Late to this thread. While I agree with the description of the empire and thus the role of the emperor, if I understand the Ratchet Effect correctly it is better to vote for the pawl then the torque.

Posted by: a swedish kind of death | Nov 13 2008 15:55 utc | 46

Another late comment.

I wanted to address Malooga’s first sentence, BO's qualities as a human being are irrelevant.

Public figures have several levels of identity. Arbitrarily, let’s say three.

The first is the person, with its body, speech; personality, character; thoughts, ideas, desires, etc. etc. For Obama, that might be, “charismatic”, “has a nice voice”, “cunning”, “wants to be President”, “believes in God”, whatever.

The second is the epistemic Obama, a core of beliefs, habits of mind, ways of thinking and handling problems, world views, political stances, past actions, linked to actions and future plans - seen as set within a certain environment, social, cultural, economical, etc. and linked to group belonging, and role or function in life. The essence of Obama-ness, if one likes, as it manifests itself in situations, and shapes the future - in his case.

The third is the official record, the Britannica Encyclopedia entry, with date of birth, voting record, honors gathered, books written, principles espoused in public, actions undertaken, etc.

The problem with US political, social, media life is that is mixes all three levels in a multicolored rather revolting stew of varied and clashing opinion. I have come to believe this is *deliberate*, and not just an accident of the post-political age, and serves the purpose of turning people’s attention away from societal organization (politics.)

The problem with BO is that BO I is a deliberate creation for the public. Obama is a politician, and in public always on stage. BO is acting the part of Obama, the ideal son-in-law, or in a more theatrical image, the way a waiter acts out his role of waiter. (See a forgotten philosopher, Jankelevich.)

Obama III is a mystery; he is too young, too obscure, and media raddled from relatively early age. Why did he write his first two books? I haven’t read them, but they were surely image-shaping exercises and would not have been crafted had not the the promise of future greatness been at least sniffed out and worth a bet.

So we are left with Obama II ...surely relevant and what I tried to address in previous posts. His policy proposals, for ex.

Posted by: Tangerine | Nov 13 2008 17:33 utc | 47

sometimes, it would seem, people forget what times we are living through & what times we are likely to live through

wallenstein's dark daignoses are not the only ones informed by a critical intelligence. gore vidal too & any number of economists

they, like us believe obama could not be worse than bush, that he could not stretch the criminality of the state any further than the cheney - bush junta. other than that, what they see in our immediate future is very, very dark

(the few signs this week - compromise on liebermann, the dropping of charges against bolton, meirs, gonzales, the implicit support for the madman paulson, ssome national intelligence questions - are at this point speculation but they do not augar well)

when you are writing a very dark poem - you are not doing it out of pessimism but of love. annamissed must understand that well. i read neither mallooga as b's texts as acts of love. neither is playing a game intellectually or rhetorically & i have an implicit trust in that

any intelligent heart is relieved to see bush shaled out of office but any reasonable heart knows prudence @ do not invest in godheads. they have all been shattered in any case & only their simulacras appear on 'christian' tv & in the hearts & minds of the cruelest men who cover the waterfront of hate within islam & judaism

evangilical behaviour was best desribed by my late mother - who sd that kind of faith was a sinking ship - & the 'leaders' wanted as many people to share in their suicide

in their different ways b & malooga are saying - look to yourself, look to your immediate community, look to the world. lizard & i see it on different continents - exactly how the dispossessed are configured & how they are growing.

the inequlity at the base of that must be demolished, once & for all

it is not a utopian project, but as wallerstein would suggest - it can be perhaps a part of a considered practice that can lead us through this mess

& we must not forget in the joy of an obama victory -that the people of iraq, afghanistan, pakistan & palestine are being slaughtered. that vast numbers of them have been slaughtered & each one of them deserved a life as rich & multiplicitous as our own

an integral part of the friedmanite project was to turn the people into objects. to emasculate all political power that the people held at every level, political, cultural & sportif - to render them as useless things the more financial capitalism stated to encirlcle itself in its own selfish encerclement & you only have to witness one paulson press conference to know he does not know his ass from his elbow & it is palpable & must be obvious to even the most imbecilic amongst us

the peoplemust pull themselves out of the shit in which we are covered & learn to take poltical responsibility for themselves, their community & their world

if they are incapable of that - then we are royally & fatally fucked

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 13 2008 18:09 utc | 48

r'giap, A most eloquent ending to this thread. And I do hope its over, because I can't think of anything more disagreeable than pressing points against the much broader (and established) narrative laid out in the thread. Again, my only foible is against the implied naivete of people willing to do selfless hard work for Obama, and the rush to pre-judgement.

Posted by: anna missed | Nov 13 2008 19:58 utc | 49

i hope it is clear through my twisted syntax & my grinding grammaire that ;

i read both malooga's & b's texts as acts of love

Posted by: remembereringgiap | Nov 13 2008 21:53 utc | 50

didn't catch this essay by tim wise until now, but it seems appropriate here & hits points well worth considering in our general post-election analyses that has developed across multiple threads - Good, and Now Back to Work: Avoiding Both Cynicism and Overconfidence in the Age of Obama

Those who say this election means nothing, who insist that Obama, because he cozied up to Wall Street, or big business, is just another kind of evil no different than any other, are in serious risk of political self-immolation, and it is a burning they will richly deserve. That the victorious presidential candidate is actually a capitalist (contrary to the fevered imaginations of the right) is no more newsworthy than the fact that rain falls down and grass grows skyward. It is to be properly placed in the “no shit Sherlock,” file. That anyone would think it possible for someone who didn’t raise hundreds of millions of dollars to win–at this time in our history at least–only suggests that some on the left would prefer to engage politics from a place of aspirational innocence, rather than in the real world, where battles are won or lost.

So let us be clear as to what tonight meant:

Posted by: b real | Nov 14 2008 20:01 utc | 51

Brilliant b real. Thank you. I picked up a lot of things while volunteering but the one thing I keep close to me is a card we were asked to give to potential volunteers. It says:

"I'm asking you to believe. Not in my ability to bring about real change in Washington...I'm asking you to believe in yours."

I believe.

Posted by: beq | Nov 14 2008 20:53 utc | 52

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