Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
January 20, 2009

The Anointment

There seems to be some kind of weird event in Washington DC today.

When other countries change their government, there is usually a special parliament session, a press conference and some dinner arrangement.

But there is either demand for a royal anointment event for the person taking the job of a self proclaimed leader of the free world, or the show is needed to create authority that would otherwise be missing. Or maybe both?

Anyway.

The following is by Hannah K. O'Luthon as posted in a comment here.Please add your own criteria in the comments. Writes HKO'L:

In a few hours BHO will take the oath of office, and assume the burden of transforming hope into achievement.

To avoid both partisan adulation and factional disdain in discussing his presidency, it seems useful to propose a few benchmarks for judging of success or failure. Since events will certainly condition the new president's range of effective possibilities, it is clear specific administration goals may undergo recalibration in the face of unexpected obstacles or opportunities. Thus, while the benchmarks are intended to be sufficiently explicit as to permit evaluation of success or failure, that evaluation will itself be influenced by events, and should not be effected with draconian rigor.

Obama's much repeated vow to bring change to American polity will, thanks to his predecessor, have ample scope for implementation, but the following five fundamental criteria might provide an evaluative framework. The subheads represent specific items for evaluation.

Obviously, others will have differing or more specific criteria, so those cited below are not intended to be exhaustive. About a year from now it might, however, be interesting to measure performance against promise.

  • - Restoration of government by law rather than presidential decree. (Constitutionality)
    a. Explicit end of tolerance for torture; prosecution with due process for the officials accused.
    b. FISA revisited; protection against invasion of privacy, TIA abandonned
    c. End to persecution of (American) Moslem activists (not terrorists) Al-Arian, Maher Al Ahar, etc.,
    d. Integrity of the election process
    e. Elevation of political discourse between government and opposition

  • - Foreign Policy: Will there be a clear modification in the goals and execution of American foreign policy?
    a. End occupation of Iraq
    b. End war in Afghanistan
    c. Talks with Iran given greater prominence
    d. Begin a more balanced policy with respect to the Israel-Palestine issue
    e. Rapprochement with "leftists" in Latin America, and Latin America in general
    f. End of Militarization of Foreign Policy and beginning of retreat from imperial overreach;
    g. Distancing from mercenaries, PMC's
    g. Dialing down of overblown rhetoric on terrorism, "freedom", etc.

  • - Economy
    a. Preventing or mitigating failure of GM, Chrysler, Ford, and other major industrial concerns.
    b. Preventing or mitigating the collapse of major financial institions
    c. Job creation aiming at full employment, or at least reduced unemployment
    d. Regulatory reform
    e. Greater transparency in government contracts
    f. Clean Energy initiatives

  • - Social Justice
    a. Major Health care reform
    b. Educational opportunity for all
    c. Women's issues and rights
    d. Tax reform in favor of the middle class
    e. Immigration un-demonized
    f. End to air traveller regimentation and humiliation

  • - Envirnoment and Quality of Life
    a. Multilateral agreements (towards Kyoto II)
    b. Green energy
    c. Drug trafficking in U.S., and abuse of pharmaceuticals
    d. Mileage and pollution standards (enforced)
    e. Support for non-military research
  • Posted by b on January 20, 2009 at 14:41 UTC | Permalink

    Comments

    We'll see about all that.

    Maybe it's my age and where I live but this day, THIS day is enormous.

    [pick away]

    Posted by: beq | Jan 20 2009 15:04 utc | 1

    b, you are asking for the moon.

    I would consider at most 10% progress under each of these heads to be realistic. Especially the rule of law, foreign policy and social justice heads.

    Posted by: a | Jan 20 2009 15:12 utc | 2

    I don't see a single item on the foreign policy wishlist happening, except maybe some pro forma jaw-jaw with Iran before the carpet bombing commences.

    Posted by: Ran | Jan 20 2009 15:25 utc | 3

    Never solidarity before criticism -Edward Said

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 20 2009 15:35 utc | 4

    i agree with beq. i happened upon the "we are one" celebration at the lincoln memorial and found myself with tears streaming down my face the rest of the afternoon. they still well up when i think of u2 performing pride. this from someone who was dismissive when asked if i'd be watching the inaguration. this moment may not be easily understood from afar, but it is as beq said, enormous here. in just one hour or so we will be free of george bush and dick cheney for starters. let's see what happens next, but for today, we will celebrate!

    Posted by: sharon | Jan 20 2009 15:37 utc | 5

    oh, for those who are in the u.s., if you're curious about sunday's event, it can be streamed at hbo.com.

    Posted by: sharon | Jan 20 2009 15:38 utc | 6

    How long will one more celebration sustain you? Addictive stuff, those big crowd scenes. How much work has been done in the transitional weeks on HKOL's checklist?

    Posted by: catlady | Jan 20 2009 16:25 utc | 7

    If the American political system is not understood correctly everything that happens here is baffling. Everybody thinks that the system is a democracy but constitutionally it is the product of a mixture of monarchy, the presidency, aristocracy, the senate, and democracy, representative democracy only in the house. So the election of a president is a monarchical event and all the pomp that a monarch is entitled to is displayed during the inauguration ( to augur in, to consecrate, to install). People rejoice as they have for milennia when they find a leader. Nothing mysterious.
    The monarchical aspect can readily shift into a leader of exception (Carl Shmitt) and all the consequences follow. those consequences are implicit, their explicit development will follow. Let's tend our garden.

    Posted by: jlcg | Jan 20 2009 16:38 utc | 8

    I find it rather disconcerting that some Democratic leaders are taking the lead to scapegoat "Entitlements," the code word for the retirement arm of Social Security, as the chief culprit in causing Social Security debt to spiral out of control. But due to the skyrocketing cost of healthcare in general, the actual chief cause of out-of-control debt in Social Security is the Medicare arm of Social Security.

    So I'm afraid that this may indeed serve as an early warning sign that Obama and the Dems will do next-to-nothing to rein in the cost of healthcare. And as to why leading Democrats are out to scapegoat the only retirement safety net for many ordinary Americans, no one needs to look any further to see that those with the Power of the Purse are very deep in the back pockets of Big Pharma and Big Health.

    Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 20 2009 17:19 utc | 9

    @8,

    The pomp and circumstance is not related to monarchy, but to the fact that head of state and head of government are fused in one person in the US. That one person is the president. He lights the xmas tree (head of state) and signs bills into law (head of govt). He throws the first baseball (head of state) and lobbies Congress to pass his bills (head of government).

    By contrast, in a parliamentary system these two functions are separate. In England the head of state is the queen and she does all the ceremonial crap. The head of govt is the PM and he does all the actual governing. This is why in these systems you do not get all the celebration associated with the swearing in of a new PM. He/she is sworn in and gets to work solving the problems of the country.

    Posted by: ndahi | Jan 20 2009 17:23 utc | 10

    I read HKO'L and I hear the "wonh wonh wonh" sound that is made to represent Charlie Brown's teacher, talking to the class.

    I hear the same sounds when I read Daily Kos, firedoglake, Glenn Greenwald, Crooks & Liars, Smirking Chimp, Eschaton/Atrios, and many of the other "prestigious" liberal and progressive blogs.

    Posted by: micah pyre | Jan 20 2009 17:31 utc | 11

    Sharon @ 5 --

    I spit on your celebration of a Pathetic Liar gaining the White House.

    Posted by: micah pyre | Jan 20 2009 17:33 utc | 12

    "We are a nation of ... non-believers."

    Man, I felt like he was speaking right to me.

    A truly exceptionalist speech.

    Posted by: biklett | Jan 20 2009 17:50 utc | 13

    Here is a poem for the occasion, from a poet I know who lives in Chicago

    HIS MASTER'S VOICE
    (on the inauguration of the President of The United States of America
    Barack Hussein Obama)

    Washington is rejoicing
    The inauguration of the president
    Barack Obama
    Minus his middle name
    Who is looking for some change
    In the White House
    Just like his brother on the street, asking
    "can you spare some change"
    but there will be no change.
    The whole world is duped again.
    Little Terrier is still on the record label
    Listening to his master's voice
    But this mutt is going to speak his master's voice.
    Right now America is like an economic souffle
    Crumbling and deflating
    And Oprah Winfrey is renting
    A hotel to celebrate the Change
    Which is going to be celebrated
    With firework in
    Gaza, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq
    And possibly Iran,
    Burning the children alive.
    America is going through the Change, a
    Cultural, political and moral menopause.
    And you want me to celebrate
    Because a black is in the White House
    Not a real black
    ½ black
    1/3 black
    2% black
    less filling black
    but as long as he is going to finish
    his mater's dirty job of bombing.
    He is ok because he is brown.He can stick around.
    So this my gift, a poem , to you Mr. President and
    all the casualties of
    women, men, children, animals
    and the house mice, you are going to drop bomb at.

    Ifti Nasim
    Chicago
    1-20-2009

    Well said Itfi!

    Posted by: a | Jan 20 2009 17:52 utc | 14

    ndahi (10), your first paragraph paraphrases one of my favourite comments by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts who said "America is a 'democracy' which appoints a dictator once every 4 years".

    Posted by: Parviz | Jan 20 2009 18:01 utc | 15

    The gay bishops prayer, you can not watch on HBO -censored.
    HBO accuses Obama for he censor ship, Obama says it was not me.

    Send a clip of the concert to a friend or post on you blog - this land is you land or mine or his, you can not, courtesy of HBO-copyright.
    Yep, it is the crowning of the new "emperor", it remains to be seen if he wears clothes.

    quite fun to follow on DK, or HuffPost.

    all the starstruck stars, the music, U2, Beyonce, Denzel and Tom all party like there is no tomorrow.

    Posted by: sabine | Jan 20 2009 18:04 utc | 16

    www.whitehouse.gov has changed. But the Search doesn't work.

    It said "Bad request Reference #7.127cf648.1232474779.0" when I asked for "Russia" and accused my browser of sending something wrong.


    That's not good. Government seems not to work under Obama. Information requests go unanswered. And the questioner gets accused ... can we have the old site back?

    :-)

    Posted by: b | Jan 20 2009 18:09 utc | 17

    The problem I have with such celebrations is that they merely reinforce the self-defeating belief of many Americans that everything they do is "bigger, better, more magnificent" than anyone else. It's an in-your-face, Exceptionalist celebration that is supposed to make Americans 'feel good' about themselves and about their country even as their country continues to support Israeli barbarity and wreaks global havoc on helpless populations. America's Ponzi-scheme economy is bankrupted by its crooked dealers, so what else is there to celebrate?

    Yes, in other nations, leaders are elected to wild celebrations on election night, but then they get on with the job of governing, while the U.S. insists on a dead additional 2 months to prepare for some unseemly, self-congratulatory ritual.

    It's only in dictatorships, and the U.S.A., that such fanfare accompanies an election.

    Posted by: Parviz | Jan 20 2009 18:11 utc | 18

    While the new Chief Executive may endeavor to set the tone and direction of his administration--he is just that, an executive. One who must work with the same old corrupt Washington system--the Congress, who will work to thwart him.

    I'm expecting only small things past undoing some of the "executive privilege" items that Bushco implemented.

    Obama could start by opening the records of the previous administration--but it isn't going to happen.

    Posted by: Obelix | Jan 20 2009 18:12 utc | 19

    ndahi,

    Royalty in America is found in mansions across Hollywood, not in the oval office at the White House. And if any of America's founders were still around today, the vast majority of them would see to it that Bush be taken out and hung by his toenails for making the executive branch have far more powers than the other two branches of government combined.

    So if Obama really wants to prove to us that he's a really great president, then he won't think twice about not reducing executive power, thus restoring balance of power back to pre-Bush levels. And if he refuses to do so, then we might as well kiss democracy goodbye and say hello to monarchy.

    Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 20 2009 18:22 utc | 20

    well lets just tell the truth. obama is a nice guy perhaps? but a joke , no resume , absentee senator when he got a real job and "bi racial" not afro american. speaks well! this is driving me crazy everyone is calling him "afro american" and he is in FACT "bi racial". why is he taking the brown side? how about the white side, his mother is white and father afro afro so-- why is everyone from here and there calling him the "first afro american president"? He is NoT! I repeat he is "bi racial" . white and brown . what the hell is that all about? anyone? lets just have facts!
    the tv made me puke, you would think jesus? came back to earth from heaven? this is a orgy party for a king not a civil servant. he also should take no pay to show us his sacrifice! all those political bums should take half pay as a example. we do pay them- dont we? situation hopeless.

    Posted by: winston smith | Jan 20 2009 18:40 utc | 21

    one phrase in the speech that jumped out at me was Obama's call on us to "choose our better history." while this phrase might seem innocuous, to me it's a call to actively and consciously suppress the grayish complexity of our history in favor of the positive spin placed on historical events, like saying the civil war was all about freeing the slaves.

    choosing our better history means reducing Martin Luther King to his "Dream Speech" instead of acknowledging his amazingly courageous "Beyond Vietnam" speech, where he called out this country's terrible behavior in regions like latin america.

    to move forward it seems Obama is telling us we need to be unburdened by any negative understanding of our past, because we are the greatest nation ever, and Obama is now the leader of the FREE WORLD. And with that mentality, anyone who "spits" on today's celebratory atmosphere will be increasingly marginalized instead of reached out to.

    why do they hate us? we lamented after 9-11. eight years later, and we still don't want to hear any of the many answers to that question.

    Posted by: Lizard | Jan 20 2009 18:42 utc | 22

    @ Sharon & beQ

    it is easy enough for me to believe it is a special moment. even crotchety old cynics like me get teary listening to the man. what a relief to hear someone able to speak. I want to believe the things he said. I really really do.

    just for a little while, out of respect to the millions who never imagined a common man, and black, one of their own could become the most powerful man on the face of the earth, lets just savor the moment. There will soon be bad news coming from somewhere or another and we can get on with renting our garments and gnashing our teeth.

    today, lets just be happy for those who are happy.

    Posted by: dan of steele | Jan 20 2009 18:44 utc | 23

    To dan of steele.

    Big Hug.

    :)

    Posted by: beQ | Jan 20 2009 18:54 utc | 24

    Lizard (23) and Dan-Of-Steele (23), you're both right, each in your own way. I've been trying my hardest not to rain on the figurative and literal parade but my Lizard-like instincts (sorry, Lizard) got the better of me in post 18 above. But now I'm steeling myself (sorry Dan) for the future and refraining from further comment "out of respect to the millions".

    Posted by: Parviz | Jan 20 2009 18:54 utc | 25

    @23,

    Well said. I really hope he does at least some of what he is obviously capable of. I also don't want people to be too cynical to attempt to try to make real change. It's just that most people close their eyes when they make a wish.

    Posted by: biklett | Jan 20 2009 19:17 utc | 26

    LBJ got his civil-rights and "Great Society" legislation passed because he was a shrewd old-time politician who knew where the bodies were buried and could twist an arm to the point of breaking it.

    Obama doesn't have that advantage. Short of accusing a recalcitrant legislator of being racist, what other weapons does he have in his arsenal?

    Posted by: Obelix | Jan 20 2009 19:17 utc | 27

    Actually, I rather though the "choose our better history" remark as wonderfully two sided statement, coming as it did after a remarkably honest assessment of our ancestors lives, noting the sweatshops and whips that greeted many of them on our shores. It seemed to me to be both a call to follow the instincts of our better history, and live up to those expectations by making a better history for our lives, to tell our children and grandchildren. He used the phrase New Age twice that I counted, which seems to be a pretty clean break from past policies. He also placed wind and solar power -before- biofuel in his mention of the new energy future, which is encouraging. Let's see what he can do, at the least he has a large grass roots organization to help him when he finds himself at odds with our brutish brainless 'elite'.

    You guys are real cynical sometimes, but I love you. Don't forget that it's worth feeling a bit of hope for the future sometimes.

    Posted by: Li | Jan 20 2009 19:24 utc | 28

    Amy Goodman had coverage of the inauguration and had Howard Zinn on to comment, but Howard Zinn took her by surprise and told her that he is not watching the inauguration.

    He also added that Obama is just a possibility and he will become a reality IF there is a social movement that will push him in the correct direction.

    Posted by: ndahi | Jan 20 2009 19:27 utc | 29

    @23

    That is why I read the speech and I did not listen to it or view it. When you are listening you are at the mercy of the orator. When you are reading you are not.

    I read the speech and there is nothing special about it. The one line that I liked was the one that we are "Muslims, Christians, Jews and non-believers." I liked the inclusion of non-believers. T

    he rest of the speech is all BS, re-packaged crap about how America's greatness is still to come blah blah blah...Obama is smart enough to know that the US is in severe decline and MUST shed the empire to at least have a chance of survival. But he will not say that, because he is a moral coward. Just like he was a moral coward when he through the Palestinians under the AIPAC bus, and through Reverand Wright under the bus of expediency. His last act of cowardice was refusing to comment on Israel's criminality in Gaza, choosing instead to hide behind the tired line "there is only one president at a time."

    Posted by: ndahi | Jan 20 2009 19:37 utc | 30

    b russia worked for me

    as my friend and i watched the bush helicopter go up we both (in sync!)exclaimed how we'd like to see it explode.

    i have never seen a national moment like that it my lifetime. i wonder when the next time so many happy people will be in one place at one time in this country.

    clearly this is not the environment to express how it made me feel, so i won't.

    my favorite part

    Help us then, now, Lord, to work for that day when nation shall not lift up sword against nation, when tanks will be beaten into tractors, when every man and every woman shall sit under his or her own vine and fig tree, and none shall be afraid; when justice will roll down like waters and righteousness as a mighty stream.

    Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get back, when brown can stick around -- (laughter) -- when yellow will be mellow -- (laughter) -- when the red man can get ahead, man -- (laughter) -- and when white will embrace what is right.

    Let all those who do justice and love mercy say amen.

    AUDIENCE: Amen!

    REV. LOWERY: Say amen --

    AUDIENCE: Amen!

    REV. LOWERY: -- and amen.

    AUDIENCE: Amen! (Cheers, applause.)

    Posted by: annie | Jan 20 2009 19:42 utc | 31

    Winston Smith,

    My guess is that the only reason why there are so many Americans who are dead set against classifying Obama as someone of mixed race is because they are still stuck in the mindset that those of pure-race are superior to those of mixed-race lineage.

    But genetics tells us that this sort of mindset is dead wrong for two reasons: 1) humans as a species can't, by any reasonable stretch, be broken down into separate and distinct races and 2) purebreds, as a rule, are genetically inferior to mutts.

    Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 20 2009 20:03 utc | 32

    Obelix@27

    He does access to a shrewd old-time politician who knows where the bodies are buried, that would be Joe (Pro Credit Card Corps) Biden. Which isn't much consolation, nor does it make me happy that the dems as Cynthia@#9 points out, are already putting social programs 'on the table'.

    Nor does it say anything in that, these jackals couldn't have done most of what they have done with out the complicity of the "opposition".

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 20 2009 20:10 utc | 33

    The U.S. system needs all the pomp&circumstance of the inauguration like it needs the same over elections - to compensate for the actual impotence of government, because in the end they'll simply do what they are told and say it's for the good of the country.

    I suppose though, if Obama has real illusions about amplifying the power of government and move against elite directives, then he's setting himself up properly to do so, by creating a set of (gigantic) expectations like never seen before. He's managed so far to use those expectations to create a bulldozer of potential that he could indeed piush back and go to war (internally) with the PTB. Or he could just as easily stand atop the mountain (of potential) he's created and shout out "look at me! Look what I did!" Then return to prettyfied version of business as usual.

    Posted by: anna missed | Jan 20 2009 20:10 utc | 34

    i read the 'better history' remark as continuation of the mythical history of this settler state as the address went on to glorify "the risk-takers, the doers, the makers of things" and "obscure" laborers who "packed up their few worldly possessions and traveled across oceans" and "struggled and sacrificed" [primarily the people who actually lived here for generations] "so that we might live a better life"

    it's all a very calculated appeal to the legends & myths of this country, b/c those stories & illusions make up the basic consensus, a "common good", on which such a diverse and sprawling republic rests, and which are necessary to evoke patriotic sentiment to the status quo's advantageous influence social control

    people don't want to hear bad things about their country & history is in need of hell of a lot of airbrushing after the exiting regime

    the focus now is on image-building to at least prolong the decline of this country's influence, if not attempt to restore it to the state of disbelief (ignorance) it once enjoyed

    so the message shifts little.. not much, but w/ a dash of humility

    This is the source of our confidence - the knowledge that God calls on us to shape an uncertain destiny

    Posted by: | Jan 20 2009 20:11 utc | 35

    Hey Annie, when was that? Today?

    I was all set up to watch, but then the quartet began to play 'Lord of the Dance,' for fuck's sake, and so I fled to feed the chickens and get firewood. So I missed the Reverend Saddleback's prayer (my father in England assured me it was horrible). Obama is a truly impressive speaker, but despite my special 'non-believer' shout-out I found myself trying hard NOT to register the usual recycled 'city on the hill' pap. I suppose he has to say those things, but wouldn't it be nice to live in a world that didn't require that sort of simplistic tub-thumping from a man who, we have some slim reason to believe, might be above it...

    Posted by: Tantalus | Jan 20 2009 20:12 utc | 36

    Also, how long are we meant to accept that "America is still a young country?"

    Posted by: Tantalus | Jan 20 2009 20:14 utc | 37

    I listened to President Obama's Inaugural Speech and really liked it also. This is truly a day for celebration.... America's first Black President, and like many have said earlier, Bush is gone!!! = Hooray!!!!
    If President Obama stays honest to his words, our celebration will not be in vain. I know that's a big "if", and I have been just as critical as anyone about Obama's past votes and actions/inactions. Let's hope he becomes more than just an impressive speaker/politician, but that he will take his own words today into his heart and mind.

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 20 2009 20:19 utc | 38

    From Obama's speach:

    As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake. And so to all other peoples and governments who are watching today, from the grandest capitals to the small village where my father was born: know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman, and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity, and that we are ready to lead once more.

    Sorry folks. Nobody in this world wants to be led by you anymore. We are not donkeys. Let yourself be led if you must but stop to bother us 6 billion people in the rest of the world with your leading.

    How can anyone but a donkey applause that line?

    Posted by: b | Jan 20 2009 20:22 utc | 39

    Is it just me, or did Bill and Hillary look pissed walking to their seats? Bill especially.

    Also, it seems both Bush I and Dick were suffering from "back problems." maybe they engaged in their sadistic luciferian rituals with a little too much vigor before this GREAT HISTORIC MOMENT.

    Posted by: Lizard | Jan 20 2009 20:30 utc | 40

    My (wine-infused) take-away line, which sounded to me as directed to Israel and to Bush:

    You will be judged by what you build, not by what you can destroy.

    It was a great speech. Also the poem. Oh, and Aretha!


    Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 20 2009 20:39 utc | 41

    b @ 39

    From your lips to God's ears. Not Rick Warren's God, though - not His ears, thanks very much.

    Posted by: Tantalus | Jan 20 2009 20:41 utc | 42

    b,
    How can anyone but a donkey applause that line?

    can anyone but a USAmerican applause that line.

    it reminds me of some GI in '83 who told me that they were stationed in Germany to safe us from the Russians. I had a good laugh and told him that he would be amongst the first to run to england when the ruskie came. He was not impressed with my reaction.

    This whole speechifying is like any sugar coated ending of a Hollywood movie, bad guy dead, good guy gets cheers and girl, kisses everywhere, camera fades out into glorious sunset.

    You got your 10$ worth of entertaining, and tomorrow we are back to business as usual.

    The only thing I really enjoy out of the new POTUS is the fact that the offspring of slaves entered the Whitehouse by the front door, not the servants entrance. That with Michelle and her Mother plus the rest of the Robinson Clan in "da house", to some extend the USA has come full circle. Will it change anything for Afro/Americans in their daily lifes? Who knows. But it is a good thing, regardless of Obamas future performance.

    Posted by: sabine | Jan 20 2009 20:46 utc | 43


    tantalus, that wasn't from rev sattleback, it was from the benediction by rev lowery after the swearing in. he is a famous civil rights advocate. it was also the only time during the ceremony i heard the voice of the crowd speak in unison.

    Posted by: annie | Jan 20 2009 20:54 utc | 44

    A few comments on some coments. The african amerikan bi-racial red herring is just that because when a white person sees a bi-racial person, the chances are great that their consciousness will register the person as 'unwhite' and treat him her as such. This is especially true from bigots and since so much of what I have experienced of amerikan culture is unashamedly bigoted, I can understand exactly Obama has decided to go with the flow and accept that in the eyes of most amerikans he is indeed an african amerikan.

    I was sickened by the display of 'we are the greatest' amerikan exceptionalism this am (local time) too. The worst of it is that if Obama was truly an agent of change that was going to govern amerika as one nation among many he would have dialled back on all the 'bringers of peace and justice' crap so as to get the locals into the groove of seeing themselves as being just the same as the people of other nations - instead of pushing the falsehoods about being more free etc that amerikan leaders spout to justify invasion,murder, rape and theft in foreign lands.

    The guy's speechifying is the thing that causes the most concern because since his policies and actions are gonna be much the same as shrub's, his ability to fool the peeps as many times as he chooses, also means that we may have been seeing the anointment of a tyrant, one who won't go quietly in 8 years but who will 'bow to the will of the people' in 2016 and 'reluctantly appoint himself prez for life'.

    The empire is getting dangerously close to the time when such empires do smash the vestiges of democracy or republic. The history books in 'liberal democracies' rarely tell you this but when a tyrant does win control of a nation, the initial reaction of the masses is usually joyful. That is tyrants become that most often, because of selfishness and complacency by citizens who are too short sighted to see the consequences.

    Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 20 2009 20:56 utc | 45

    Annie,

    Yep, I knew it wasn't Ol' Saddleback.

    Posted by: Tantalus | Jan 20 2009 20:59 utc | 46

    b,
    That line, "we are ready to lead the world" struck me like lightning and is just plain wrong. Quite awhile back during Obama's campaign, I complained on MOA that Obama would often talk about "changing the world" at the end of his speeches. However, trying to lead by example "light the world" as noted a few lines before, is a virtue that all nations and people should have. That is very different than "leading a donkey". Unfortunately, Obama wishing to send more troops to Afghanistan validates your point.

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 20 2009 21:11 utc | 47

    i could not in clear conscience watch or review any of the inauguration

    i am still too taken with the war on the palestinian people & the rush to betray her people - specifically by europeans but also by her arab brothers

    though, in my heart i know that we have passed a quintessential - the delegitimising moment of isreal

    & in latin america we see the polyphony of the red waves, in greece we see the beginning of a europen movement to fight back the neoliberal policies that have meant in one way or another, the murder of cultures, the murder of peoples

    i trust in annie, sharon, beq - & i hope obama represents a part of the movement of people against the injustice we have spelt for a long long time - those united states of america

    america is a rogue nation

    she will have to offer real proof that there is real change & i think we will know this very quickly

    Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jan 20 2009 22:40 utc | 48

    cynthia : thanks for the reply but as you say "you guess" and its not most- its everyone calling him "afro american". by the way there are 3 americas fyi! another subject! as for mutts- we are all mutts if we realy look back i'll assume. obama is part of the african "race", the brown race- part of the human race. his mother was of the white "race". that makes obama "bi racial" period. my guess is that the brown race in this country thinks he is pure brown and 97% voted for him as thats their new savior with prejudice.FACT he didnt want to blow that by correcting them. remember we are talking race not nationality. he is being called wrongly the first black" wrong color" President as i never saw a black person- have you? hell i lived in st thomas, bahamas for 2 years apiece and never saw a black person . i was asked by the brown people why the brown people in the "states" call themselves black. i had no answer. guess- throw back to the "black panthers"? which sounds better than "brown panthers" . right? Good luck, ws

    Posted by: winston smith | Jan 20 2009 23:30 utc | 49

    I have a decidedly mixed reaction to the inaugural events.

    Against the backdrop of racism in American history, this is indeed a remarkable, historic moment. This should not be downplayed--but it also should not affect how people view the other dimensions of the alleged "change."

    In all other dimensions besides the obvious race issue, I see no change. Obama's speech could have been delivered by Bill Clinton or Newt Gingrich--indeed, if you substitute just some words, they WERE in fact delivered by both. Of course, all these are fully consistent with the appointments made by Obama. In fact, these are fully consistent with the actual policy stances Obama has taken for a few years already. Hardly "change."

    So, this is a sort of hoodwinking game: Americans are projecting the obvious change that they do see onto areas where there aren't real changes. Obama isn't actively promising these changes, but he is not discouraging these misattributions either (while doing much to create the impression that he's standing behind them, without really saying so much). He has no reason to, really--they are working to his advantage without costing him anything, at least for now.

    In some sense, Bernhard's reaction is spot on: he is not an American. He's not burdened by the legacy of American history. So, in some sense, he is better positioned to judge Obama without rose-colored glasses that many liberals here have on. Indeed, I am curious as to how the self-congratulatory, grandiloquent talk in the States is being contrasted wtih other events in various parts of the world--especially in the Middle East where Obama's inauguration was ushered in with the Israeli assault on Gaza. How much are they taking in this "change" business?

    Posted by: kao_hsien_chih | Jan 20 2009 23:30 utc | 50

    A Tinfoil hat comment-

    If you were the evil overlord of everything and had an opportunity to have one million of the most fanatical Democrats gathered in one place during the cold and flu season...I wonder if they have designer bugs that wait longer than three days before people get the first runny nose.

    Here is a brief I found on RSOE's website the other day

    RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service
    Budapest, Hungary
    2009-01-19 19:45:08 - Epidemic Hazard - Morocco

    EDIS CODE: EP-20090119-20116-MAR
    Date & Time: 2009-01-19 19:45:08 [UTC]
    Area: Morocco, Bejaia and Jijel provinces, The area wasn\'t definied.,

    !!! WARNING !!!

    Description:

    Anti-terrorism leaders say a number of al-Qaida militants in training have been killed by the "black death, a plague that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages. At least 40 al-Qaida followers have died since the disease swept through a training camp in Algeria, The Sun reported Monday. The deaths became known when security forces found a body beside a road. "This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease," one security source told the British publication, although it wasn't reported how the deadly outbreak started. "It spreads quickly and kills within hours. This will be really worrying al-Qaida." The victim was associated with al-Qaida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, the largest and most powerful al-Qaida group outside the Middle East, the Sun said. Al-Qaida leaders said they fear the plague has spread to other cells or to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The epidemic began in the
    hideouts of the al-Qaida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb in Algiers, sources told The Sun. The group fled to Bejaia and Jijel provinces. The plague has several forms: Bubonic plague is spread by infected rat fleas and pneumonic plague is airborne bacteria spread similarly to flu. Unlike the epidemic in 1665 when 30,000 Londoners died, world health officials said plague outbreaks now can be treated with antibiotics and deaths are rare.

    Not confirmed information!


    Emergency and Disaster Information Service
    Hungary, Budapest

    Sending AlertMail: 2009-01-19 19:45:08 [UTC]


    How's that grab ya'?

    Posted by: David | Jan 20 2009 23:31 utc | 51

    she will have to offer real proof that there is real change & i think we will know this very quickly

    very quickly, my patience is on a very short leash. domestic issues are important, like health care, but my heart is in the middle east. if i see no deviation from the neocon agenda, i'm snapping like a rubberband for my extension is is on maximum as it is.

    Posted by: annie | Jan 20 2009 23:37 utc | 52

    Debs is dead @45,

    One can equally argue that "black people" who view those that aren't black enough (multiracials) as "unblack" are bigots as well. Either way, it's high time that we as modern humans scrap this backwards notion that our species can be neatly divided into separate and distinct races. If we fail to do so, those who take pride in their particular brand of racial purity (whether it's white, or black, or whatever color of the rainbow) will continue to commit racial discrimination and race-based hate crimes against those with different racial purity and especially those who are of mixed race.

    And I hate to think that Obama chooses to classify himself as African American, instead of as multiracial, because he believes multiracials are intrinsically inferior to African Americans.

    And unless the US Constitution is rewritten to include first ladies/first gentlemen as elected or appointed officials, wives and husbands of presidents are totally irrelevant to the presidency. Their one and only job in government is to ride on the president's coattails.

    Posted by: Cynthia | Jan 20 2009 23:54 utc | 53

    Poem@14-thanks a!

    A Tinfoil hat comment-

    If you were the evil overlord of everything and had an opportunity to have one million of the most fanatical Democrats gathered in one place during the cold and flu season...I wonder if they have designer bugs that wait longer than three days before people get the first runny nose.

    Here is a brief I found on RSOE's website the other day

    RSOE Emergency and Disaster Information Service
    Budapest, Hungary
    2009-01-19 19:45:08 - Epidemic Hazard - Morocco

    EDIS CODE: EP-20090119-20116-MAR
    Date & Time: 2009-01-19 19:45:08 [UTC]
    Area: Morocco, Bejaia and Jijel provinces, The area wasn\'t definied.,

    !!! WARNING !!!

    Description:

    Anti-terrorism leaders say a number of al-Qaida militants in training have been killed by the "black death, a plague that ravaged Europe in the Middle Ages. At least 40 al-Qaida followers have died since the disease swept through a training camp in Algeria, The Sun reported Monday. The deaths became known when security forces found a body beside a road. "This is the deadliest weapon yet in the war against terror. Most of the terrorists do not have the basic medical supplies needed to treat the disease," one security source told the British publication, although it wasn't reported how the deadly outbreak started. "It spreads quickly and kills within hours. This will be really worrying al-Qaida." The victim was associated with al-Qaida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb, the largest and most powerful al-Qaida group outside the Middle East, the Sun said. Al-Qaida leaders said they fear the plague has spread to other cells or to Taliban fighters in Afghanistan. The epidemic began in the
    hideouts of the al-Qaida in the Land of the Islamic Maghreb in Algiers, sources told The Sun. The group fled to Bejaia and Jijel provinces. The plague has several forms: Bubonic plague is spread by infected rat fleas and pneumonic plague is airborne bacteria spread similarly to flu. Unlike the epidemic in 1665 when 30,000 Londoners died, world health officials said plague outbreaks now can be treated with antibiotics and deaths are rare.

    Not confirmed information!


    Emergency and Disaster Information Service
    Hungary, Budapest

    Sending AlertMail: 2009-01-19 19:45:08 [UTC]

    How's that grab ya'? Good thing they haven't confirmed the information yet, or is it? OooOOoOooOoOO

    Posted by: David | Jan 21 2009 0:00 utc | 54

    Elizabeth Alexander

    Praise song for the day.

    Each day we go about our business, walking past each other, catching each others' eyes or not, about to speak or speaking. All about us is noise. All about us is noise and bramble, thorn and din, each one of our ancestors on our tongues. Someone is stitching up a hem, darning a hole in a uniform, patching a tire, repairing the things in need of repair.

    Someone is trying to make music somewhere with a pair of wooden spoons on an oil drum with cello, boom box, harmonica, voice.

    A woman and her son wait for the bus.

    A farmer considers the changing sky; A teacher says, "Take out your pencils. Begin."

    We encounter each other in words, words spiny or smooth, whispered or declaimed; words to consider, reconsider.

    We cross dirt roads and highways that mark the will of someone and then others who said, "I need to see what's on the other side; I know there's something better down the road."

    We need to find a place where we are safe; We walk into that which we cannot yet see.

    Say it plain, that many have died for this day. Sing the names of the dead who brought us here, who laid the train tracks, raised the bridges, picked the cotton and the lettuce, built brick by brick the glittering edifices they would then keep clean and work inside of.

    Praise song for struggle; praise song for the day. Praise song for every hand-lettered sign; The figuring it out at kitchen tables.

    Some live by "Love thy neighbor as thy self."

    Others by first do no harm, or take no more than you need.

    What if the mightiest word is love, love beyond marital, filial, national. Love that casts a widening pool of light. Love with no need to preempt grievance.

    In today's sharp sparkle, this winter air, anything can be made, any sentence begun.

    On the brink, on the brim, on the cusp -- praise song for walking forward in that light.


    Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 21 2009 0:11 utc | 55

    & i find it a little odd thatg the nation in whom those united states are in hock - china - seems to have not got a mention at all

    Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jan 21 2009 1:19 utc | 56

    MSM tonight was referring to satellite photos showing the inaugural crowds as,
    "little ants... err...ant people, umm, I mean, that's how (^) described them." %)

    annie 31), we kept waiting for flares to pop from Bush's helicopter, to thwart
    any Stinger missiles being launched from the 1400 Pentagon side of the Potomac.

    Google Maps down: "We could not understand the location 1400 Defense Pentagon" %)

    "Approximately 23,000 employees, both military and civilian, contribute to the
    planning and execution of the "defense" of our country." And at $1,000B a year
    'revenues', that's $43,000,000 per employee 'production efficiency', compared to,
    say, Apple Corporation, with 32,000 employees, but only a paltry $32B in revenue!

    What do we need a bailout for? DOD-DHS LLC is the most profitable in history!

    Posted by: Sharia Greensleeves | Jan 21 2009 1:28 utc | 57

    U.S. Stocks Retreat in Worst Inauguration Day Decline

    http://www.cnbc.com/id/28749674

    Posted by: Rick | Jan 21 2009 1:43 utc | 58

    remembereringgiap@56,

    you know us americans, we'll just file for bankruptcy and tell the Chinese "tough turds" to you. What are they gonna do? Make us send all our plastic crap back?

    It's will be an economic F-YOU in the vein of what Brazil did back in early 2000.

    Link to brazil

    Posted by: David | Jan 21 2009 2:05 utc | 59

    I have to say that I find the emphasis on percentage of 'blood' highly offensive. I tried to explain the reason that Obama is classed as an african amerikan (wrongly in my view but not for any of the reasons stated thus far) in a way that didn't cause a confrontation with racist self deluded 'liberals in their own imagination', but when it comes back to the old lies of bigotry such as "hey some of them are racists too" as if we lived in a fantasy world that had an equal distribution of power across races in amerika, I believe it immoral to not confront such ignorant, fear-based prejudice.

    The belief sets commonly held in amerika, those 'memes' which the media addresses in their twisted version of reality, are rarely if ever determined from what a small subset of the african amerikan minority believe.

    These alleged truths are derived from the values of white middle amerika, that the media both determines and moulds.

    In amerika as in a great many white dominated societies, when whitey sees a person of mixed white/unwhite parentage, generally their first reaction towards that person is the same reaction as they have towards any unwhite.

    This is particularly true of those humans whose parentage derives from africa, or any of the other races whose colouring is of a much darker hue. Sometimes people from asian countries aren't subjected to this, but mixed african, australian aboriginal, melanesian and polynesian people are almost always held in the same low regard as those african, australian aboriginal, melanesian and polynesian people who don't have any white antecedents.

    There is an exception to this. After a lifetime of enduring the same shit as "full blooded" (a horrible and totally meaningless word) members of the minority, if a person of mixed ancestry puts their hand up for one of the tokenistic handouts that whitey occasionally grants, such as compensation for children being stolen from their parents or an insistence that people from the minority be given a fair chance when applying for jobs or promotions, the bigot who has treated those of mixed ancestry so poorly in the past, then starts decrying the fact that someone who is 'half white' is copping the same deal as those who are 'black' as if colour or percentage blood had been the sole determinant all along.

    Culture is far more important than race in working out who a person is. We know (or at least I hope we do here in MoA) that regardless of race people are all humans underneath their skin tone and their values, beliefs and behaviors are a result of the culture they have been brought up in.

    Obama wasn't brought up in a traditional african amerikan culture. His culture was white upper middle class amerikan, so it is probably incorrect in that sense to consider him an african amerikan.

    On the other hand, we have no way of knowing how his childhood outside his immediate family circle eg at school, playing sport going to church etc, was.

    Hawaii is no racial equality paradise, the worst of whitefella disdain in hawaii is reserved for the indigenous polynesians, the Hawaiians. So it may be that many whiteys were too busy being scared of (and therefore bigoted towards) Hawaiians to worry about one african of mixed parentage, especially one who wasn't a product of white amerika's slavery.

    Even so there would have been some, especially amongst more recent arrivals from the home of the invaders, the so-called mainland (as if Hawaii could ever be regarded as a natural extension/adjunct of mainland North America) who looked at the young Obama and saw 'just another n....r'.
    Equally there is no way of knowing how the indigenous people of Hawaii looked upon the young Obama. Did they see another member of an oppressed minority, a slightly more exotic chunk of tucker for the execrable 'Dog the Bounty Hunter'? Or did they see a slightly exotic but equally culpable representative of the oppressors who had annexed their nation and exterminated the traditional leadership of Hawaii utilizing amerika's earliest attempt at biological warfare?

    Of course once Obama reached adulthood he immersed himself in african amerikan culture, and married an african amerikan. Those who contend that was unnecessary, a 'put on' may also like to consider how likely it is that white amerika, a culture which has only shown couples in mixed race relationships on TV within the last 5 years, and then rarely, would elect Obama as prez were he married to a 'white' woman.

    I don't know. Maybe Obama is no great fan of being considered an african amerikan either, but it is difficult to believe he would have got anywhere near the prezdency if he had tried to 'pass' as a whitefella.
    That would have pissed off narrow minded whitefella bigots even more.

    Posted by: Debs is dead | Jan 21 2009 2:49 utc | 60

    Sorry folks. Nobody in this world wants to be led by you anymore. We are not donkeys. Let yourself be led if you must but stop to bother us 6 billion people in the rest of the world with your leading. How can anyone but a donkey applause that line?

    Right on, b. A donkey or an ass.

    No man is wise enough to be another man's master. Each man's as good as the next -- if not a damn sight better.--Edward Abbey

    Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 21 2009 3:49 utc | 61

    Sorry folks. Nobody in this world wants to be led by you anymore. We are not donkeys. Let yourself be led if you must but stop to bother us 6 billion people in the rest of the world with your leading. How can anyone but a donkey applause that line?

    Right on, b. A donkey or an ass.

    No man is wise enough to be another man's master. Each man's as good as the next -- if not a damn sight better.--Edward Abbey

    Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 21 2009 3:50 utc | 62

    Sorry folks. Nobody in this world wants to be led by you anymore. We are not donkeys. Let yourself be led if you must but stop to bother us 6 billion people in the rest of the world with your leading. How can anyone but a donkey applause that line?

    Right on, b. A donkey or an ass.

    No man is wise enough to be another man's master. Each man's as good as the next -- if not a damn sight better.--Edward Abbey

    Posted by: Don Bacon | Jan 21 2009 3:50 utc | 63

    Meanwhile... Head shots, get your head shots, News not at 11.

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 21 2009 3:55 utc | 64

    I notice that the Obama and Pepsi logos have officially merged:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SKPgnmDRIWA&feature=related

    That captures the mindlessness and vacuity of the Barack Obama phenomenon better than anything else I can think of.

    Posted by: Ted | Jan 21 2009 4:00 utc | 65

    Debs@60-

    While growing-up BO must have experienced moments his cultural identity collided with his racial identity. I wonder how this shaped his view on race?

    I'd think it would be easier for him to identify with his white culture and look down upon lower income blacks, viewing them with much the same distain as whites, and also blaming them as the reason for any racism he suffered.

    I think this is a common problem many blacks face, as the majority of them have as much to do with violent inner-city gangsta' culture as the pope, yet all bare the burden of blame. It only takes getting pulled-over a couple of times and have cops treating you like a criminal to piss a person off, especially if you knew it was only because of your skin color.

    I finally heard some of his speech on NPR this evening. You'd have thought today was christmas, new years, easter and the start of Desert Storm all rolled into a neat Made-For-TV event... This was paid for by whom?

    The portions I heard sounded awful Hawkish; all war, defend our way of life, yada, yada, yada.

    I'll bet he'll invade mexico to fight lawless fuckery over the boarder. That will be a fight americans will support because those thugs are right on our doorstep, and it looks like Hugo Chaviz is ringing the doorbell...

    I'm placing my cynical bets on four wars and beginning in 2012, four more wars. Keep repeating until all life on the planet is wiped-out.

    Sometimes I don't think it's zionist goons pulling the strings... The only critters that stand to benefit from humans destroying the world are the cockroaches


    Posted by: David | Jan 21 2009 4:06 utc | 66

    a culture which has only shown couples in mixed race relationships on TV within the last 5 years

    what about i love lucy? or 'tom & helen willis' from the jeffersons? or ally mcbeal? ER? the drew carey show?

    Posted by: b real | Jan 21 2009 4:26 utc | 67

    That captures the mindlessness and vacuity of the Barack Obama phenomenon

    surely you mean the "branding"

    Posted by: b real | Jan 21 2009 4:30 utc | 68

    Don Bacon: right on with the Ed Abbey quote! this is completely off topic, but it sure was nice to see a young man named DeChristopher monkeywrench the last minute land grab in Utah made possible by our NO LONGER PRESIDENT BUSH (you know what, it does feel pretty good to be able to finally write that and have it be true)

    Posted by: Lizard | Jan 21 2009 4:55 utc | 69

    from the "you've got to be f*cking kiddin' me" department:

    US agencies chase down potential inauguration day threat

    WASHINGTON (AFP) – US intelligence services chased reports of a potential terrorist threat Tuesday as President Barack Obama was sworn in before massive crowds amid an unprecedented security lockdown.

    Officials were tightlipped about the seriousness of the terrorist threat, with the Department of Homeland Security saying the information was "of limited specificity and uncertain credibility."

    But a Homeland Security official, who asked not to be identified, said it was linked to a militant Somali group called al-Shabab.

    Posted by: b real | Jan 21 2009 4:55 utc | 70

    @Ted

    yep, Coke Or Pepsi...

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 21 2009 5:06 utc | 71

    appears that stage is crudely being set for a Somalia escalation b real.

    a great place for Obama to establish his "Yes I can too pulverize defenseless third world countries" bona fides.
    .


    Posted by: ran | Jan 21 2009 5:49 utc | 72

    There were more people present for the inauguration than for any other transfer of power in US history. Contrast this with 2004 when a long military convoy brought Bush to the White House down empty streets. There was much joy today and an overpowering sense of relief. The champagne flowed, Americans who were taking part in this, even just by watching TV, were dancing, laughing, shedding tears of joy.

    The Obama speech was solid in my view with a sombre undertone, it did not play for the grandstanding rhetoric common to these occasions. I don't think it was engineered for applause lines, but I thought it was effective.

    Inauguration Day was a tremendous shot in the arm for our morale. I felt today that we really have a chance to improve the nation and society during Obama's term.

    Posted by: Copeland | Jan 21 2009 6:04 utc | 73

    Posted by: b real | Jan 21 2009 6:21 utc | 74

    it did not play for the grandstanding rhetoric common to these occasions

    really? how you figure that? and isn't it great a party for change costs 150 million dollars? 45 of that was private donations, the rest, your ignorant pocketbook.

    that's like cheering for more after taking a severe, bipartisan ass drubbing.

    Posted by: Lizard | Jan 21 2009 6:27 utc | 75


    good-will & a positive image are indispensable to any leader of a democracy who seriously wants to get the toughest type goals accomplished.

    and here we have a man, particularly skilled at grooming his political image and sometimes its not going to be a pretty sight watching & listening to him do it for a lot of us including myself.

    so the Obama-bashers/cynics/sceptics/pessimists to the last woman/man want this man to step up & apply his power & authority to achieving progressive ideals including ending empire & exploitation at home & abroad. And he's supposed to smite the all-powerful enemy & banish them from the land so we can be free & whole again.

    its just so ironical that so much is expected and demanded from this man and he's supposed to get it all done without elevating & leveraging the goodwill & beneficial image he's going to need most especially in the rough days ahead.

    Posted by: jony_b_cool | Jan 21 2009 7:59 utc | 76

    jony_b_cool, the most realistic comment of the lot. there was absolutely nothing barak obama could have done today that would have pleased most of those writing here. folks, you are all intelligent people. why do you expect what is impossible and then complain when you don't get it. doesn't anyone here understand public relations and marketing?

    the speech was a grab bag full of mixed messages, probably the best that could be managed given the audience. i found myself remembering that he has had to work hard for all he has accomplished. black children are told they have to do things twice as well as their white counterparts in order to succeed. i can't imagine his experience was that different. i know hawai'i and i know there is racism. the hawai'ian word is popolo. i get the sense that obama understands very well what it is to be african american in this country. he also has two children to raise to deal with it. today gave the gift of hope and promise of a better future to the next generation of african americans and a sense of belonging/a validation that the older generations have never felt before. it was a beq said enormous. and for all of the criticisms that can and have been leveled, he pulled it off rather well.

    he also, in his first day in office, requested a halt to the guantanamo tribunals begun yesterday and ordered all of bushes midnight regulations halted pending review. what this will come to we will see, but i am willing to give this man a chance rather than leap to conclusions out of cynicism and bitterness. i doubt i will agree with everything he does, but he's a far cry from george bush and dick cheney.

    whoever the cretin was who spit on "my" celebration - nice. hope it made you feel better to piss on what was a meaningful day for millions of people in this country and beyond.

    Posted by: sharon | Jan 21 2009 8:32 utc | 77

    jony_b_cool, the most realistic comment of the lot.

    Yeah, I guess this isn't realistic... enough.

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 21 2009 9:01 utc | 78

    jony_b_cool, sharon


    My dis-trust is not so much of Obama himself, he seems nice enough, lovely wife, cute kids, and an all together compelling story.

    But, i dis-trust Congress/Senate, not much has changed there and/or will change in the future. The moneymaker and shakers and movers are the same. The financial mess will not be cleaned up with nice words, and i don't believe the US public has any idea of the mess they and we are in, and how little can be done to change the course. And the little that could be done, will hurt the investor class, do you believe they let him bring change?
    Universal healthcare? Who is going to pay for this, the un/under employed?
    Safe retirement funds? Is the money physically still there, or has it been used away already, and no one dares to say shit?
    Treasury in the red to the eye balls? Who will pay back the dept and at what interest rate? And so on, and so on. All these problems demand solutions, and i doubt that the average us american will like the solutions.

    In Germany (i hail from bavaria - and there used to be lots of Amis stationed and not always USA's finest) we consider the "Ami" to be like children - easily entertained, loud, unconcerend most of the time, obnoxious,selfish, very selfish after cheap thrills.
    The spectacle of the inauguration seem to confirm this. Tacky, loud, and big, very big. Lookit we are still here, we are still the biggest wang on the block.

    But the speeches seem to support the fears of the pessimists. Our way of life above all other ways of life. Defend US interest in the world, everywhere, anytime. In short with us or not, as we will take what we need, from where ever.

    So he has put a halt on trials in Guantanamo? He will review legislation that is on the table?
    This is feel good politics, he has to give the "progressive" movement (what the hell does this movement actually stand for), something, they voted for him, they believe that he owes them. But these are politics from the US for the US.

    Me, i am concerned about his foreign politics, the people he chose to transmit and communicate said foreign policies, and i see no real change.

    He lost me with his speech about smart/dumb wars, and that he would send bombers into pakistan if they would not behave the way the US wants them to.
    This to me shows that he has as little respect for sovereignty as all other US presidents.
    And his silence about Gaza, while he had so much to say about Mumbai?

    So I wait and see, but i expect nothing other than business as usual.

    Posted by: sabine | Jan 21 2009 9:39 utc | 79

    should be unconcerned.

    sorry, sometimes i just don't see it.

    Posted by: sabine | Jan 21 2009 9:41 utc | 80

    thanks, uncle $scam. what your comment has to do with barak obama's inauguration eludes me. this is becoming a very dark and ugly place, the other side of freeperville. well, you've got one thing in common - tearing down obama.

    the strange thing is that i find myself here defending him. shaking my head, i think "he wasn't even my candidate". what i realized is that what i am defending isn't barak obama but what this has meant to non-white americans and a good amount of white americans. to equate that with the utter cruelty and inhumanity that killed that little girl is beyond any reasonable consideration.

    you're becoming what you hate.

    Posted by: sharon | Jan 21 2009 9:46 utc | 81

    sabine, it's 5 am and i need to go to bed, but i will respond by saying, take his speech apart and remember the context. i agree with your concerns about foreign policy. hrc and joe biden are hawks. however, i am waiting before criticizing. the size of the inauguration was all about the people of this country being a part of it. that people traveled to be a part of it, waited in the cold just to see the motorcade pass, marched in a parade till after dark in frigid winter weather. this can be a watershed moment for this country. i think obama's speech today was all about us - we need to push him in the direction we need to go in. this is something that was not possible with bush. do you think u2 would ever have been asked to perform at a bush inauguration. how likely to do you think it is that a musician would have raised his voice in support of the palestinians at a bush inaugural event. it is a small thing, but the fact that bono did it suggests that he thought the message would be received.

    but enough, i have too much to do to spend time here arguing with people who think that they are smarter than everyone else just because they can see all the things that are wrong. honestly, i think it is much more difficult to come up with solutions than it is to identify the problems and then complain about them.

    Posted by: sharon | Jan 21 2009 9:58 utc | 82

    Lets not lose sight of the fact that at this time there are more people in the U.S. politically motivated than in any time in (my) memory. I've never seen anything like it. The level of expectation is in the stratosphere.

    Posted by: anna missed | Jan 21 2009 10:21 utc | 83

    Sharon. Thank you.

    Posted by: beq | Jan 21 2009 12:46 utc | 84

    Three of the "heros" Obama's handlers have chosen for him to cloak himself in were all felled by assassins.

    Obama just "happened" to accept the democratic nomination and gives his acceptance speech 45 years after Dr King gave his "I have a dream" speech. He just "happens" to be sworn in the day after america has a holiday honoring Dr King. Am I the only one who finds the timing of this odd?

    Sharon@82 "i think it is much more difficult to come up with solutions than it is to identify the problems and then complain about them."

    Yes, this is true, but it is even harder to fix problems by hiding your head in the sand. If we don't hold these bastards accountable, then no one will. Politicians have shown again and again that they have no problems helping corporate interest, but once elected, won't even throw the citizens a bone.

    I think the festive mood in america has as much to do with getting rid of the bush boys as it does with having our first black figurehead. I feel the reason we have a black president is the powers that be will get a big laugh watching him get blamed for the screwing america will take. And the looks on our faces when we realize we're still being screwed, and by a brother no less, will make the elites LTAO.

    Barak is just another political hack, better spoken (thanks to all that extra work) than most, but because of this even more insidious than McCain. At least McCain would have faced huge public opposition from the moment he hit the ground – Obama will have everyone saying, "give him a chance" while snaking through his four years.

    I don't see any political change in his selections for his cabinet, in his political rhetoric or his enjoying his silent vacation while Gaza burned.

    Barak's supporters will excuse him his gaffs because they have invested all of their political capitol in him and they'll probably even support him when he rears his ugly corporate head and starts using all the executive privilege given him by the previous two presidents. This is my biggest worry.


    The "progressives" are to me more dangerous than the right-wing kooks, because progressives think any problem can be solved with legislation that "punishes" behaviors progressives don't like using taxes or criminal satutes. They want the world to be like Sesame Street, instead of Animal Planet, but they forget what a Chaotic structure life is and the most benign solutions often cause the greatest problems later on.

    Like I read in another post. If I see BO start driving the country in what I feel is the right direction, I'll hop on and do what I can to support him. But I'm not going to get back on the same bus going the wrong way just because there's a new driver.


    Posted by: David | Jan 21 2009 13:43 utc | 85

    sharon

    i think you anger is displaced

    thevast majority here question american state power. any u s state power. & that, fiven the ec-vidence seems to be the most prudent critical space to take

    anna missed makes the essential point - whether the patricipatipn of the people will in turn be transformrd into a real power to affect the worst policies

    on the palestinians, on iraq, on iran & on afghanistant - what happens here will tellus nearly everything. on making a fundamental shift on education health & housing - domestically are another. whether the very real crimes by the bush administration are punished & that jurisprudence is rehabilitated are specific questions. if there are no changes there - that will be telling

    if the earnest yet plaintive cries of the american people are heard & the nature of governing changes - the we will be heartened but it is quite infantile to get into a reified form of idol worship. that idol worship takes people & nations to very dark places

    & sharon you imply that people (posters) are not working at a day to day level & that as you know, is not true & in any case i know that the communication that takes place here is not of the infantilile jingoist, sophomoric kind that is to be found on dkos, firedoglake etc

    if we are ugly it is because we live in a world that has been made ugly. if it is dark it is because we are obligated to write of the dark times in the dark times

    Posted by: remembereringgiap | Jan 21 2009 14:42 utc | 86

    obama, as chief imperialist of a desperate, waning empire, is fair game

    while there is the possibility that he may provide some questionable degree of mitigation of the crimes & violence resulting from the pursuit of state power, only a deluded person would imagine that a POTUS would not protect the empire

    and that's where i find a gap between the objectives of those who criticize obama & those who criticize those who criticize obama

    Posted by: b real | Jan 21 2009 16:02 utc | 87

    paul street:

    Race and the Illusion of Greater Liberalism

    Besides helping his novelty dividend, Obama's race fed the false notion that Obama was more liberal than his leading opponents in the Democratic primary race - something that proved very useful in capture a Democratic voter base that had been pushed left by the Bush administration. The fact that Obama is black helped deepen his appeal to certain voters by making him seem more liberal than he really was.

    According to researchers studying the political psychology of race, voters asked to compare a black and a white candidate with similar political positions will tend to see the black candidate as "more liberal." Consistent with the finding, exit-poll data shows that Obama did much better than his centrist ideological soul-mate Hillary Clinton (who actually ran slightly to his left on domestic policy during the primaries) with Democratic primary voters who identified themselves as "very liberal" in numerous key states. Clinton did somewhat better with the large number and percentage of Democrats who called themselves "moderates."

    Since Obama's actual policy agenda was generally no more liberal than Clinton's - his housing and health care plan were more conservative - it seems likely that many voters were identifying Obama as more liberal because of his race.

    ...

    Race and "Holding Domestic Constituencies in Check"

    At the same time, many of his elite sponsors have certainly long understood that Obama's technical blackness helps make him uniquely qualified to simultaneously surf, de-fang, and "manage" the U.S. citizenry's rising hopes for democratic transformation in the wake of the long national Bush-Cheney nightmare. As John Pilger argued last May: "What is Obama's attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy's [in 1968]. By offering a 'new,' young and apparently progressive face of Democratic Party - with the bonus of being a member of the black elite - he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell's role as Bush's secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US antiwar and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent."

    Obama's race is part of what makes him so well matched to the tasks of mass pacification and popular "expectation management" (former Obama advisor Samantha Power's revealing phrase). As Aurora Levins Morales noted in Z Magazine last April, "This election is about finding a CEO capable of holding domestic constituencies in check as they are further disenfranchised and....[about] mak[ing] them feel that they have a stake in the military aggressiveness that the ruling class believes is necessary. Having a black man and a white woman run helps...make oppressed people feel compelled to protect them."

    i've likened this to a new type of 'americanization campaign', only now on a global scale, and pointed out the obvious parallels to the way in which a product is repackaged & rebranded to increase market coverage

    from the 2007 rpt by the CSIS commission on smart power

    Smart power is neither hard nor soft—it is the skillful combination of both. Smart power means developing an integrated strategy, resource base, and tool kit to achieve American objectives, drawing on both hard and soft power. It is an approach that underscores the necessity of a strong military, but also invests heavily in alliances, partnerships, and institutions at all levels to expand American influence and establish the legitimacy of American action. Providing for the global good is central to this effort because it helps America reconcile its overwhelming power with the rest of the world’s interests and values.

    soft power is exerting power (influencing others to do what you want) by means other than coercion

    one of the commission's recommendations for the next president of the united states was that

    American leaders ought to eliminate the symbols that have come to represent the image of an intolerant, abusive, unjust America. The unfairness of such a characterization does not minimize its persuasive power abroad. Closing the Guantanamo Bay detention center is an obvious starting point and should lead to a broader rejection of torture and prisoner abuse. Guantanamo’s very existence undermines America’s ability to carry forth a message of principled optimism and hope.

    there is a script being followed here

    acknowledge that & then you'll be able to find ways to stay one step ahead

    Posted by: b real | Jan 21 2009 17:02 utc | 88

    b real@88

    What I was trying to say, but not as concisely as you put it together. Nice post, thanks.

    Posted by: David | Jan 21 2009 18:54 utc | 89

    The quote from Pilger is, as I see it, a dubious prediction, "An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US antiwar and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent."

    I doubt activists will line up to accept the unacceptable, if America goes on in a rapacious way. Moreover, our exclamations of joy at the event yesterday, do not imply that those of us who are happy are simply committed to Obama no matter what he does.

    Americans needed to celebrate the end of the Bush years and welcome in what is new, and what, for all we know, will address the injustices and crimes of the Bush years.

    But the day of euphoria is over now, and we have to make our judgments on what this administration under Obama's leadership is willing to do.

    Posted by: Copeland | Jan 21 2009 20:55 utc | 90

    i hear you, copeland, and do not make any claims that obama celebrators constitute a monolithic group. and we can separate a support for the symbolic significance of the transition from support for the office or actor themselves.

    i'm afraid that pilger's prediction isn't as dubious as you may think, though. obama has specifically co-opted the slogans of activist mvmts and marched progressives right on down the off-ramp.

    for instance, UFPJ -

    Antiwar organizing in the Obama era

    THE MAIN U.S. antiwar coalition, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ), held its national convention in Chicago on December 12-14.

    While the U.S. continues to occupy Iraq and is planning a major escalation of forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the conference drew only 248 attendees, fewer than at its convention last year. Such a low turnout should come as no surprise; UFPJ has not called a major national antiwar demonstration in close to two years and has invested the bulk of its forces either directly or indirectly in campaigning for the Democratic Party.

    ...

    At the convention, the majority of UFPJ's leadership and featured speakers argued forcefully that the antiwar movement should credit itself for helping get Obama elected and be encouraged that we will now finally have an ally in the White House.

    ...

    But the antiwar movement must come to grips with the reality that Obama's Cabinet appointees and explicit foreign policy proposals are far from antiwar.

    ...

    Yet the convention marked a turn in UFPJ's past practice of focusing specifically on the war in Iraq. Now, UFPJ proposes to broaden out to highlight economic justice, racism and climate change, among a host of other issues.

    ...

    But while it's important for all activists to address the connections between war and other pressing issues, the central project of the antiwar movement must continue to be organizing for the immediate end to the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. Otherwise, the antiwar movement is retreating from its core mission.

    i've read additional coverage on how UFPJ has steered away from issues that they feel may offend obama, but i don't have any links handy. the gist is that, at a time when the coalition should be more militant in its ability to influence political leverage, it is, instead, prostrating itself as a milquetoast mvmt waiting for a handoff from their new quarterback.

    will al giordano's organizing efforts be different?

    personally, i'll hold off on celebrating until cheneybush are before an international tribunal

    Posted by: b real | Jan 21 2009 21:49 utc | 91

    Late catching up. Late to add my Thanks, Sharon.

    Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 21 2009 22:02 utc | 92

    I Ain't Got No Quarrel With The VietCong...

    the black agenda report: Barack Obama and the African American as World Citizen

    As one of many who worked day and night for three years in the early 1980s to elect Chicago's first black mayor, I can understand the undefineable tears shed by many last November, and the shiver some felt when Barack Obama laid his hand on Abe Lincoln's bible. We danced and wept and prayed and rejoiced in Chicago a generation ago, and in other places too. But eventually the party was over, and this one will soon be too, for most of us. For many of us, it's already time to take stock. Were the hopes and dreams and prayers and effort put behind the Obama campaign a wise investment? And what does the election of Barack Obama mean for the position of African Americans as global citizens?

    Until now, black Americans have always enjoyed, on the world stage, a presumption that we as a people and as individuals were not responsible for the lawless and criminal acts of the US government around the world. In the Vietnam era, many black GIs came home with stories that their lives had been directly spared by Viet Cong and North Vietnamese fighters at close quarters who could have killed them, but seemed to single out white American soldiers instead. When Iranian students captured the US embassy in Teheran, they offered to let the black Americans go.

    Polling data has consistently shown African American communities to be less sympathetic to US military adventures around the world, and to harbor more healthy skepticism of war aims and claims than any other sector of the electorate. Immediately before the Iraq invasion, a Gallup poll showed black America opposing the war almost two to one, the opposite of white America. No wonder our international image is dominated by figures of courageous moral opposition to empire like Muhammed Ali and Dr. Martin Luther King. But with the election of Barack Hussein Obama, and the explicit targeting of Africa as a battleground for American control of the world's resources and markets, that is definitely about to change.

    The moment Barack Obama took the oath of office, he became commander in chief of America's far-flung global empire, more than 800 military bases strung across the planet, and at least a million and a half uniformed personnel, secret prisons, torturers, and looters of whole economies.

    ...

    Some black Americans have been quoted in the media saying that they finally felt they could unpack their bags here in the U.S, that they could finally fly the American flag with pride. Good for them. We should let them know what that flag is standing for around the world, with or without a black man in the White House. We used to be regarded as a people of struggle, innocent of the crimes of our government. That era is over. It's time to wake up after the party and wonder what will become of the international image of African Americans in the wake of an Obama presidency?

    [also - the middle portion of bruce dixon's commentary there gives props to a blog post on AFRICOM by occasional MoA contributor crossed crocodiles]

    allan nairn: Killer in Chief. Obama's Choice: Will this President Murder Civilians?

    As Americans today justly celebrate their sweet win over the country's own racism they should at the same time see that they are now installing the world's new killer in chief.

    Obama , on taking office, will inherit a state pre-programmed in ways that kill civilians, a vast, globe-spanning machine on autopilot, unconstrained by murder law.

    As president, Obama will instantly become the world's number one arms dealer, number one trainer of secret police, number one detonator of bombs, and number one sponsor of forces, US and foreign, that by objective definition do terrorism.

    Obama can stop that. He can cry halt, order: 'Stop civilian killings. Now.'

    If he truly does, he'll be a hero worthy of Dr. King, of the freedom giants he rode.

    If not, he'll become responsible for mass murders, and the first victims will likely fall sometime between today's swearing-in and the last inaugural ball.

    Posted by: b real | Jan 22 2009 4:24 utc | 93

    Mr. Obama promised to bring "change" to Washington, DC.

    Unfortunately, Obama appointed Hillary Clinton to be his Secretary of State, and, as a result, set the new administration on the same course Hillary Clinton would choose--immediately return the Clinton administration to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

    This assertion is not as far fetched as one would think, because virtually every major appointment to the Obama administration is a former Clinton associate. All the appointments, moreover, are Beltway insiders.

    For example, Rahm Emanuel, a former Clinton advisor, is Obama's Chief of Staff.

    Obama’s National Economic Council, Lawrence Summers, was Clinton's Treasury Secretary.

    Bill Richardson, Clinton’s UN ambassador and energy secretary, is Obama's commerce secretary.

    Bill Clinton's lawyer, Eric Holder, is Obama’s choice for attorney general.

    Rounding out the list of former Clinton officials who are members of the Obama administration we find former State Department official Wendy Sherman; former Deputy Secretary of Defense John White; Defense Secretary William Perry; Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. In addition, we also find Michael Froman, who served as Rubin’s chief of staff; Peter Orszag is director of the Office of Budget of the White House and Christopher Edley, who served the Clinton administration and is married to a former Clinton deputy chief of staff.

    Per Arthur Silber, but which should be painfully obvious to anyone with the intellectual acumen of a sponge:

    Any individual who rises to the national political level is, of necessity and by definition, committed to the authoritarian-corporatist state. The current system will not allow anyone to be elected from either of the two major parties who is determined to dismantle even one part of that system.

    WhatsoEVER he does do, he will do nothing that would interrupt or jeopardize or cast doubt upon the existing structures.

    Guantanamo represents only 1% of the secret TORTURE prisons around the globe where the USA DOES practice TORTURE. Diego Garcia, Bagdad, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and many others are not mentioned in the main stream media and it does not make part of Obama’s PR program.

    The number one priority among many number one priorities facing President Barack Obama should be investigating and arresting the criminals in the Bush administration.

    By saying he is looking forward and not at the past gives a green light to all future presidencies who wish to trample the constitution, lie us into wars, torture, scoff at the rule of law, turn their backs on the Geneva Conventions.

    This just goes to show that our politicians are in a elite club, an exclusive institution and that in most instances,regardless of party or crimes committed will always protect the institution.

    Posted by: Uncle $cam | Jan 22 2009 5:23 utc | 94

    Shorter #94

    "It's a big club, and you aint in it."

    Posted by: | Jan 22 2009 5:53 utc | 95

    Guantanamo represents only 1% of the secret TORTURE prisons around the globe where the USA DOES practice TORTURE. Diego Garcia, Bagdad, Jordan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and many others are not mentioned in the main stream media and it does not make part of Obama’s PR program.

    Obama to Close Foreign Prisons and Guantánamo Camp

    WASHINGTON — President Obama is expected to sign executive orders Thursday directing the Central Intelligence Agency to shut what remains of its network of secret prisons and ordering the closing of the Guantánamo detention camp within a year, government officials said.

    The orders, which would be the first steps in undoing detention policies of former President George W. Bush, would rewrite American rules for the detention of terrorism suspects.
    ...

    Many questions remain unanswered, but the American gulag is in the MSM news and is included as "part of Obama's PR program". BO will have no international cred if he does not move on this.


    Posted by: Hamburger | Jan 22 2009 9:52 utc | 96

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