The Obamiad Archives

June 14, 2008

The bird of Zeus

I've always admired Obama's ambiguous, strangely soothing signature cartouche -- are those furrows on a Kansas farm, or flag stripes so tranquillized they've ceased to wave? Its quietude and noncommittal subliminal suggestiveness make it the perfect emblem for a miraculous marketing campaign that simultaneously excited and reassured the target demographic without ever actually saying anything.

Here, however, the bland circlet appears oddly superimposed on a bad-tempered, reptilian eagle, clearly spoiling for a fight. As iconology goes, there's nothing anodyne about the Jovian bird, the Roman legionary bird, the bird so abundant in the visual rhetoric of American pugnacity that every street in this broad land ought to be knee-deep in mephitic raptor guano(*).

When birds appear, the augurs get to work. In this case, of course, neither the appearance of the bird nor its implications should come as any surprise.

* * *

The eagle's connection with the thunderbolt-hurling sky-father Zeus/Jupiter goes back a long way, but takes narrative form in our tradition with the story of Zeus and Ganymede. Zeus, being a Greek god, had a weakness for pretty boys -- in a totally manly, or godly, way, of course -- and Ganymede was the prettiest shepherd in Phrygia. So Zeus either sent an eagle, or turned himself into an eagle -- the sages are divided on this question -- and carried young Ganymede away for immoral purposes.

The Ganymede story has, I think, a certain melancholy relevance to the Obama story. Once again we see our blooming youths abducted by the thunderbolt-hurlers. In this case of course the eagle himself had to be kept hidden until after the trap was sprung, but now he can appear. All the young Ganymedes and Ganymedesses got carried away -- with nothing to hope for but hard usage and servitude.

* * *

On a completely irrelevant note: the eagle image appears on a part of the Obama website devoted to rebutting "smears" against the great man and his wife. The "smears" listed are not numerous, but one of them reads as follows:
SMEAR: Barack Obama is a Muslim

TRUTH: Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian.

So let me get this straight: The enlightened Obama campaign thinks it's a "smear" to say somebody is a Muslim? This position will be hard to digest in certain areas of Chicago's South Side.


(*) Though the eagle is in fact more often a scavenger than a bird of prey, as Ben Franklin, I believe, pointed out, when he suggested that the young United States would do better to adopt, as its winged mascot, the turkey.

June 18, 2008

Same old same old

Sometimes there's something good on one of my lefty mailing lists, like the following:

> OBAMA CAMPAIGN announces 'Senior Working Group on National Security'
> --Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
> --Senator David Boren, former Chairman of the Senate Select Committee  
> on Intelligence
> --Secretary of State Warren Christopher
> --Greg Craig, former director of the State Department Office of  
> Policy Planning
> --Secretary of the Navy Richard Danzig
> --Representative Lee Hamilton, former Chairman of the House Foreign  
> Affairs Committee
> --Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder
> --Dr. Tony Lake, former National Security Advisor
> --Senator Sam Nunn, former Chairman of the Senate Armed Services  
> Committee.
> --Secretary of Defense William Perry
> --Dr. Susan Rice, former Assistant Secretary of State
> --Representative Tim Roemer, 9/11 Commissioner
> --Jim Steinberg, former Deputy National Security Advisor
> AP's Nedra Pickler reports: 'Obama also was meeting Wednesday with  
> nearly 40 retired admirals and generals to discuss the state of the  
> military and the challenges in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.'   
My correspondent writes:
Madeleine Albright?

Warren Christopher?

William Perry?

Lee Hamilton?

Oh man, change is coming fast.

I'm so excited to see something so unique happening in my lifetime.

I'm also glad Clinton didn't win, she never would have picked new fresh faces like these!

June 19, 2008

Obama: NAFTA not so bad after all

Courtesy of Fortune magazine:
Obama: NAFTA not so bad after all
The Democratic nominee, in an interview with Fortune, says he wants free trade "to work for all people."

WASHINGTON (Fortune) -- The general campaign is on, independent voters are up for grabs, and Barack Obama is toning down his populist rhetoric - at least when it comes to free trade.

In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine's upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn't want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

"Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified," he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA "devastating" and "a big mistake," ....

Obama's tone stands in marked contrast to his primary campaign's anti-NAFTA fusillades....

In February, as the campaign moved into the Rust Belt, both candidates vowed to invoke a six-month opt-out clause ("as a hammer," in Obama's words) to pressure Canada and Mexico to make concessions....

Now, however, Obama says he doesn't believe in unilaterally reopening NAFTA.....

Obama also reiterated his determination to be a tougher trade bargainer. "The Chinese love free trade," he said, "but.... It's no secret they have consistently encroached on our intellectual property and our copyright laws.

Well, at least Disney and Microsoft should feel reassured.

June 23, 2008

Signs and seals

You saw it here first. Several days ago we noted that the Obama camapign seemed to be experimenting with a new, amped-up, patriotic upgrade to the soothing Obama blue-pill logo:

That version doesn't seem to have been entirely satisfactory. Here's the latest:

In case you can't make out the Latin inscription above the ruptured duck there, it's "VERO POSSUMUS", which is a reasonably good translation of "Yes we can."

Amazing, really, how Obama's formerly almost perfect-pitch campaign has taken this sudden plunge into laughable bathetic grandiosity. The New-Dealish blocky sans-serif type -- the constipated, chalky colors -- the frathouse Latin -- and above all, the splayed, two-dimensional eagle, a bird of very ill omen indeed.

All in all, it reminds me irresistibly of the new uniforms Nixon once designed for his palace guard:

June 25, 2008

Barack embraces the hangman

Obama is nothing if not fast on his feet. The Cool Young Black Dude is transforming himself, faster than the Incredible Hulk, into a Bloodthirsty Reactionary Asshole. You won't like me when... I'm the nominee.

Background: the Supreme Court decided by a narrow 5-4 majority that you can't be put to death unless you've actually killed somebody. So we're not quite yet back in the palmy days of serious justice when you could be hanged for just about anything. But Mister Change We Can Believe In wasn't happy with this namby-pamby stuff:

Obama Condemns Supreme Court Decision in Child Rape Case

Barack Obama criticized the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision today striking down the use of the death penalty in cases of child rape.

“I disagree with the decision...." [he said].

The expected Democratic nominee said he believed the rape of a child “is a heinous crime” that fits the circumstance, siding with the four conservative justices who sit on the court, Chief Justice John Roberts, and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.

Obama, like Alito, disagreed with the decision because its impact would mean a blanket prohibition on the use of the death penalty. In his dissension, Alito wrote that the decision means the death penalty would not apply “no matter how young the child, no matter how many times the child is raped, no matter how many children the perpetrator rapes, no matter how sadistic the crime, no matter how much physical or psychological trauma is inflicted, and no matter how heinous the perpetrator’s prior criminal record may be.”

Expected Republican nominee John McCain also disagreed with the court’s decision....

Obama’s criticism—and alliance with the court’s conservative judges—may come as a surprise to some Democrats, but the Illinois senator has made notable steps toward the center of the political spectrum in recent weeks.

I don't know which bit of prose pleases me me more. The contenders are:
  • Alito's sadistic-salacious reverie on how many children one might rape, how often, and with what unspeakable attendant circumstances of filthy cruelty;
  • "The Illinois senator has made notable steps toward the center of the political spectrum in recent weeks. "
Alito's fantasy is delightfully reminiscent of Dr Strangelove ruminating that "animals can be brrred -- and slllaughtered!". Maybe nostalgia really *is* what it used to be.

But even so, the idea that this ghoulish Jack Ketch stuff represents the "center" has got to take pride of place.

It's too bad Obama isn't a southern Governor, like Clinton. Otherwise, it seems certain that he would not only fly home to supervise the conveniently-scheduled execution of some slightly darker-skinned citizen -- he'd probably pull the switch himself.

June 26, 2008

On the brighter side

A comment Too Good To Be A Comment showed up on an earlier entry just now:
I had a pleasing thought the other day.

Barack Obama's candidacy may be the thing that ends the surefire support of the Democrats among Black people.

Not among all of them, certainly, but maybe there will be enough peeling away from the party to make things difficult for the lesser head of Orthrus. Now that we actually have a Black candidate, and he's being forced to turn his back on his own people, treat them with scorn, and spit upon (at least half) his heritage, many may wake up to the fact that the Democrats are responsible for this state of affairs. That they're just taking the Black vote for granted, so Black people can be treated with as much derision as is needed to win back some of those who yearn for the white-hooded days of the Democratic Party's past.

The disgust and discontent could be made more palpable by the fact that nobody can excuse it as the candidate's own private white supremacism coming out, as they might with a white Democratic nominee. It will be clear that this is the structural white supremacism of the Democratic Party.

June 28, 2008


From the Times -- the London one, that is. Ignore the quaint orthography:
Barack Obama may recruit defence chief Robert Gates

In defiance of traditional party labels, Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, may ask the defence secretary of President George W Bush to stay on if he wins the White House.

Obama’s top foreign policy and national security advisers are pressing the case for keeping Robert Gates at the Pentagon after he won widespread praise for his performance. The move would be in keeping with Obama’s desire to appoint a cabinet of all the talents.....

Richard Danzig, an adviser to Obama on national security and a former navy secretary, said: “My personal position is Gates is a very good secretary of defence and would be an even better one in an Obama administration.”

The appointment would cause a furore among Democratic party activists but would have the advantage of providing continuity at a time when Iraq appears to be stabilising and demanding more independence from America.

Ivo Daalder of the Brookings Institution in Washington, a foreign policy adviser to Obama, said: “Robert Gates is one of the best defence secretaries we have had in a long time and it makes a lot of sense to keep him.”

Gates, a former member of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group, was initially sceptical about the troop surge in Iraq and has been quietly seeking an orderly transition to a new US administration in January so that hard-won military gains in Iraq are not thrown away in a hasty withdrawal.

At one stage last year, he had hoped that 60,000–70,000 US troops could be withdrawn by Christmas this year, but he was persuaded to back more modest reductions by General David Petraeus, the US commander. ...

Gates showed he was comfortable working with Democrats when he appointed John Hamre, a former senior official under Bill Clinton, to serve as chairman of the influential Defence Policy Board last year. He also appointed William Perry, a former defence secretary who is advising Obama, to the board....

James Carafano, a defence expert at the conservative Heritage Foundation in Washington, said Obama would be making a “smart move” if he asked Gates to carry on. [Gates] has clearly adopted a mainstream course on national security that would be acceptable to either McCain or Obama.”

Surprise, surprise. But here's the best:
Speculation intensified this weekend that Obama may offer Hillary Clinton the position of health secretary after he appointed Neera Tanden, her senior policy director and a key architect of her healthcare plan, to his campaign team.
Aiieee! Once wasn't enough? Spare us, Pharaoh! Spare us!

June 30, 2008

Enlightenment vs enlightenment

Pwogs are all aglum: now their black mage is The Nom, he's moving like a linebacker before the snap -- to the right.

But for us dreamers of sublation, the cry is hoorah for Hollywood. Now is that so wrong?

Let's do the parallel universe thing: Let's imagine what would have happened if, instead of the rocky reign of the Stuarts, Britain had endured the lesser evil of three consecutive Elizabeths. Would that green and perfidious island have "ended up in complete servitude"?

So claimed the magnificent Diderot: "Two or three consecutive reigns of a just and enlightened despotism... is one of the great misfortunes of any free nation."

Sound to you like the possible pending Obama anni mirabiles? Recall that the three consecutive terms of the New Deal saved corporate America to march triumphantly under the victory arch of world war two right smack dab into the heyday of the American century.

Is this why, on some tacit, crumbling-infrastructure mind level, we rads fear Obie's success far more than his failure? Is this why we root for dismalitude? Why are we so fond of spoiling the ballots of Lady Liberty -- while she remains on the limited liability plan?

July 1, 2008


Senator Obama strongly approves of patriotism. It's an interesting text, and very much what we've come to expect of Obama: the product of a highly intelligent, reflective individual determined to leave no platitude un-repeated. You can almost see the two sides of his nature taking turns being on top, as one sentence succeeds the last.

Usually I hate Talmudic posts that reprint the text, with the blogger throwing in an occasional catcall from the peanut gallery, but Barack is such a remarkable and unusual talent, and his twists and turns have so much dramatic interest, that it seems right to depart from standard procedure:

We reflect on these questions because we are in the midst of a presidential election, perhaps the most consequential in generations....
Here of course we have a central Democratic Party trope -- last unveiled in the Most Important Elections Of Our Lifetime, two years ago. This observation is aimed at all the useful liberal idiots who may have started to waver in their faith as Barack has plunged rightward since winning the nomination. If you love your children and grandchildren -- vote for me! Even though I'm a fink!

But here's Thoughtful Barack again:

After all, throughout our history, men and women of far greater stature and significance than me have had their patriotism questioned in the midst of momentous debates. Thomas Jefferson was accused by the Federalists of selling out to the French. The anti-Federalists were just as convinced that John Adams was in cahoots with the British and intent on restoring monarchal rule. Likewise, even our wisest Presidents have sought to justify questionable policies on the basis of patriotism. Adams' Alien and Sedition Act, Lincoln's suspension of habeas corpus, Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans - all were defended as expressions of patriotism, and those who disagreed with their policies were sometimes labeled as unpatriotic.

In other words, the use of patriotism as a political sword or a political shield is as old as the Republic. Still, what is striking about today's patriotism debate is the degree to which it remains rooted in the culture wars of the 1960s - in arguments that go back forty years or more. In the early years of the civil rights movement and opposition to the Vietnam War, defenders of the status quo often accused anybody who questioned the wisdom of government policies of being unpatriotic.

Well, that got my attention. especially the sword-and-shield thing. Whose motto was that? Let me see... ah, well, who remembers? But then, in a classic on-the-one-hand, on-the-other-hand move, our man goes on:
Meanwhile, some of those in the so-called counter-culture of the Sixties reacted not merely by criticizing particular government policies, but by attacking the symbols, and in extreme cases, the very idea, of America itself - by burning flags; by blaming America for all that was wrong with the world; and perhaps most tragically, by failing to honor those veterans coming home from Vietnam, something that remains a national shame to this day.
Scorecard: the promoters of the Vietnam War were guilty of "questioning" people's patriotism. But the other side attacked the very idea of America itself, burned flags, spit on returning soldiers, etc. I think the counterculture lost this round, don't you?

Thoughtful Barack comes back -- temporarily:

[T]he anger and turmoil of that period never entirely drained away. All too often our politics still seems trapped in these old, threadbare arguments - a fact most evident during our recent debates about the war in Iraq, when those who opposed administration policy were tagged by some as unpatriotic...
Wait for it --
... and a general providing his best counsel on how to move forward in Iraq was accused of betrayal.
Spitting on the flag again! They just can't stop doing it!

Shifting into lyrical mode again:

I remember, when living for four years in Indonesia as a child, listening to my mother reading me the first lines of the Declaration of Independence - "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." I remember her explaining how this declaration applied to every American, black and white and brown alike; how those words, and words of the United States Constitution, protected us from the injustices that we witnessed other people suffering during those years abroad. That's my idea of America.
The guy is good, isn't he? But here's what comes next:
As I got older, that gut instinct - that America is the greatest country on earth - would survive my growing awareness of our nation's imperfections
Uh-oh. When the "greatest country on earth" shows up, it's time to duck and cover. And indeed:
... [P]atriotism is... loyalty to America's ideals... It is the application of these ideals that separate us from... Iraq, where despite the heroic efforts of our military, and the courage of many ordinary Iraqis, even limited cooperation between various factions remains far too elusive.

I believe those who attack America's flaws without acknowledging the singular greatness of our ideals, and their proven capacity to inspire a better world, do not truly understand America.

He lost me with our "singular greatness". I really couldn't read on. Oh, yeah, I know, his defense attorneys -- and they are legion -- will say this is what you have to do in order to be elected. To which I can only respond: In that case, I can't begin to care who gets elected.

July 2, 2008

Not anti-

From the Financial Times, via an intellectual-property scofflaw pal of mine:
Obama camp signals robust approach on Iran

The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran is the biggest threat facing the world, according to one of Barack Obama's senior foreign policy advisers....

In an interview with the Financial Times, Anthony Lake, a former US national security adviser who has worked with Mr Obama since the start of his campaign, also urged the US to learn lessons from its traumatic withdrawal from Vietnam regarding pulling out of Iraq....

Mr Lake depicted the Democratic candidate as a tough-minded realist rather than an anti-war politician....

He stressed that Mr Obama, even after withdrawing troops from Iraq over 16 months as he has promised, would maintain "a residual presence for clearly defined missions". These would include military training, and "preparedness to go back in if there are specific acts of genocidal violence".

"That is not 'cut and run and let's just see what happens'," Mr Lake said.....

Highlighting a parallel with his first posting as assistant to Henry Cabot Lodge, a US ambassador in 1960s Saigon, he said: "It is common sense that we could not leave Vietnam successfully unless we left behind a government in Saigon that could govern successfully.

"It seems obvious in retrospect; it was not obvious enough to too many politicians at the time. In Iraq it's the same problem."...

Mr Lake was sympathetic to aspects of Mr McCain's idea of a League of Democracies, one of the centrepieces of the Republican's foreign policy plans.

...[H]e backed the general idea of a grouping that was "not an anti-Russian device but an effort to find ways for the democracies to act together on issues of defence of our common values . . . specifically on issues when the UN can't act".

Even that notion might be difficult to digest for European countries wary of offending Moscow or seeming to sidestep the UN. But as Mr Lake's words indicate, Mr Obama could yet be a demanding partner for the rest of the world.

* * *

So Obama is "not anti-war." I was always taught that in English a double negative added up to a positive.

I really wonder -- not for the first time -- why so many people think the Democratic party is more anti-war, or rather less pro-war, than the Republicans.

It's interesting too that the ancient campaign to keep Russia in a box -- which dates back to well before the US was Top Country, and has now entered its third century under the new management -- seems to be cranking up again. That was high on the agenda in the Clinton years, but seems to have been rather back-burnered under Bush.

Plus ca change: Palmerston and the Whigs were always more interested in an aggressive policy against Russia than the Tories were. Although the parallel is a bit inexact; there really are no conservatives in the 19th-century sense anymore, and certainly none in the Republican Party.

Still, it's fun in a grim kind of way to hear these themes and motifs recur.

July 9, 2008


Apparently Jesse Jackson has had an epiphany, foreshadowed here some weeks ago:
Jackson also says something about how [Obama] was "going to get his (twin objects of male anatomy) cut off."

Jackson, who recalled his remark as, "The senator is cutting off his you-know-what with black people," expressed deep regrets for saying it, even in what he thought was a "private conversation."

That Jackson and his inadvertently-public private conversations! Unfortunately, what he has to say in private is usually a lot more interesting than what he says in public. His scandalous "Hymietown" comment, which was arguably rather perceptive as to the facts though offensively phrased, famously led to his own self-castration moment.

Now, alas, he's groveling again:

"For any harm or hurt that this hot mic private conversation may have caused, I apologize. My support for Senator Obama's campaign is wide, deep and unequivocal. I cherish this redemptive and historical moment."
The difference between the Hymietown moment and this one is, of course, that this time Jackson was a) on the money about the facts, and b) chose the right words.

What he's apologizing for, then, is not saying something untrue, or using an injurious term. He's apologizing for getting off the reservation... again.

Kind of a tragedy, really -- his capacity and persistent impulse to get off the reservation are in fact his most appealing qualities, and he always finds himself doing penance for his most conspicuous virtue.

July 11, 2008


Ob's lily-white meritoids want like hell for their guy to come through all this as the first national post-color line black pol, but maybe Clio has other plans for him. Maybe he's to play a role like the earnest intense guy pictured here:

Reviewing his recent sermon on fatherhood maybe Ob knows this is his real deeper darker calling, and is cool with it. Maybe he knows he comes off a shitload better as an update of ole Booker T than as a Negro League version of Mattress Jack -- at least in sympathetic non-black job-class living rooms.

His reversal/reversion timely message to the vast white and Latino undershirt class? "Now we're together -- but on the moral plane, anyway, not quite equal."

July 14, 2008

Keeping the faith

Here's the New York Times' artfully-constructed redaction of Obama's recent headlong rightward charge, and the base's response. It's a thing of beauty, really -- the article, I mean, not the Obama campaign. The Times' capacity to disguise a political tract as a piece of bland, factual news reportage has got to be admired. I've snipped a good deal of flesh from the piece, the better to reveal its elegant bone structure:

Obama Supporters on the Far Left Cry Foul

PORTLAND, Ore. — In the breathless weeks before the Oregon presidential primary in May, Martha Shade did what thousands of other people here did: she registered as a Democrat so she could vote for Senator Barack Obama.

Now, however... Ms. Shade said she planned to switch back to the Green Party.

“I’m disgusted with him,” said Ms. Shade, an artist. “I can’t even listen to him anymore. He had such an opportunity, but all this ‘audacity of hope’ stuff, it’s blah, blah, blah...."

While alarm may be spreading among... left-wing bloggers or purists.... There is also a wide streak of pragmatism.... in a party long vexed by factionalism.

“We’re frustrated by it, but we understand,” said Mollie Ruskin, 22... “He’s doing it so he can get into office and do the things he believes in.”

Nate Gulley, 23... said... “It’s self-evident that he’s a different kind of candidate.”

David Sirota, a liberal political analyst and author, [said] “I don’t think there’s disillusion.... He is a transformative politician, but he is still a politician.”

... Many Obama supporters said the most vocal complaining... was largely relegated to liberal bloggers and people who might otherwise support Ralph Nader... or Dennis J. Kucinich....

Kari Chisholm, who runs a blog,, and does Internet strategy for Democratic candidates. “They believe their ideology is the only idealism and Obama’s is very mainstream. I’m not surprised they’re getting a little cranky. They’ve always been kind of cranky.”...

“I don’t think the test on him is in an explicitly narrow set of check boxes that have to get filled,” said Kevin Looper, executive director of Our Oregon, a liberal advocacy group. “I think it’s about do his campaign and his message embody serious changes for the direction of the country?”

Rhys Warburton, a 25-year-old Brooklyn resident... said... “It doesn’t make the others any better or more attractive to vote for.”

... “Seventy-five thousand people do not attend political rallies unless something truly magical is happening,” Bob Blanchard wrote....

“When [sc. 'where'? -- MJS] are these people going to go, anyway?” Mr. Blanchard said of left-wing critics...

Ms. Shade, the Green-turned-Democrat-returned-Green voter, spoke about Mr. Obama while leaning out her second-floor apartment window, where she has placed homemade signs urging the impeachment of President Bush. Others say “Free Gaza” and “Occupation is Terrorism.” She said twice that the American political system was “rotten.”

“You realize,” Ms. Shade said, her voice fading with resignation, “that you’re talking to somebody who’s pretty far out of the mainstream.”

And the piece closes with that elegiac dying fall. The only kind of person who'd object to Obama's new trajectory would be an obviously crazy lady(*) like the evocatively-named Shade -- a "far left" "factionalist", a person who isn't "pragmatic," a "cranky" "idealist", the sort of "complainer" who "cries foul," very likely a Naderite (horror of horrors) and, needless to say, a "purist".

With enemies like Shade and her fellow loons, who needs friends -- or even reasons? It's "self-evident" that Obama is "different". Large attendance at a rally obviously shows he's "magical." He "embodies" everything that's good. He's not as bad as McCain -- in fact, he would have overtake and pass McCain in his rightward journey before young Mr Warburton would reconsider.

And oh yes, he's "transformative," the sage David Sirota tells us.

This last claim particularly interests me. I'm not sure what Sirota means by it, or why he believes it. The only transformation I've seen Obama perform is the transformation of thousands of bright, good-hearted young people into incoherent, babbling zombies.


(*) Irony alert. I personally agree with everything Shade and her stickers say.

July 19, 2008

Obama = Erasmus?

More dribble from one of the HuffPo's uncompensated coolies:
Obama's Christian Humanism

In his campaign's response to Jesse Jackson's live-microphone incident, Barack Obama made it clear he views social and cultural cajoling to be a natural extension of progressive politics. Libertarian-leaning voters recoil when they hear Obama preaching about turning off our TV sets... I believe his embrace of pastoral duties is an important aspect of his "new politics" gambit, and an indicator of his deepest priorities.....

....His simple and lucid (and, it would seem, instinctive) connecting of social cajoling and progressive stances expresses a conviction that government has a role in improving lives as well as guiding us toward ethical behavior.... Like Ronald Reagan, Obama is eager to connect with us emotionally and personally in order to create a channel for values-laden communication.

Whoever said Caesaropapism was dead? Pastor-in-chief, forsooth!

While Obama says he submitted himself to "God's will," he pointedly adds that his faith "came about as a choice and not an epiphany," and that his naturally skeptical mind did not suddenly vanish when he placed his trust in Jesus Christ. Because Obama's religiosity appears to be a consciously chosen pathway with a pragmatic social purpose....
The Galilean Hasid who founded the religion Obama claims adherence to -- that difficult and paradoxical personality -- what would he have said about a "careful" withdrawal from Mesopotamia? The empire of his day tortured him to death -- in the name, no doubt, of "pragmatic social purpose."

July 21, 2008

The shade of things to come...

... apparently will not be green, in the literal sense anyway (and, I think, the metaphorical as well, but that's another topic):

AMMAN, Jordan—An Obama campaign ban on green clothing during the candidate’s visits to Israel and Jordan has created wide puzzlement....

In a memo to reporters, described as “a few guidelines we sent staff before departure to the Middle East,” Obama advance staffer Peter Newell laid out rules on attire....

First among them: “Do not wear green.”

An Obama aide explained to reporters that green is the color associated with... Hamas. But... green is more generally seen as a symbol of Islam.

“A ban on wearing green seems bizarre,” said Richard Bulliet, a professor of Middle Eastern history at Columbia University.... “I think they’re just being overcautious to a ridiculous degree,” Bulliet said.

Mohamad Bazzi, a professor of journalism at New York University and former Middle East bureau chief for Newsday, called the instruction “very strange.”...

Though the campaign’s other sartorial instructions – directing women to dress demurely – are fairly standard, Bazzi said he’d never heard it suggested before that journalists not wear green while traveling in the Middle East, an observation echoed by other reporters.

“I’ve been to the Middle East with Secretaries of State and on my own, and I’ve never heard of anything like that,” said New York Sun national security reporter Eli Lake.

Sermons in stones. This latest foolish overreach on the part of the Obama cult, silly as it is, may well be pregnant with larger meaning.

Immediately one realizes that this is Lakoffism in action: imagery isn't everything -- it's the only thing. If a reporter wears a green shirt, some frother somewhere might put together a fruitcake case that Obama is soft on Islam, to update a fine old slogan -- Red scare then, green scare now.

Which is pretty funny. This mighty movement is scared to death of a few isolated paranoid fools.

What's even more interesting, though, and creepier, is the cult's fanatical conviction that perception can be controlled out to the fifth decimal place, and its willingness to act on this conviction, to the point of telling people what colors to wear. It's like a suburban high school.

We've already seen the cult issue a ukase -- or should I say a fatwa? -- against the New Yorker, and now they've declared war on a sizable chunk of the visible spectrum.

August 2, 2008

Abada abada abada...

Interesting. The normally very eloquent and collected Obama reduced to stammering incoherence by a young black guy in Florida:

Guy can easily handle anything white folks can throw at him. But this particular barb seems to have hit a tender spot. Maybe he's more human than he appears to be.

August 3, 2008

An open letter from Barack Obama

Forwarded by a helpful comrade. Excerpts:

Dear friends on the left,

Hobgoblins, small minds and stupid consistency go together, as Locke reminded us, so I suppose it shouldn't have come as a surprise that a cast of "progressive leaders" has again assembled locust-like at the waning stages of the electoral cycle to "urge me to listen to the voice of the people" and not "to retreat from the stands that have been the signature of (my) campaign."

... For example, I am claimed to have professed a commitment to "universal health care." May I remind you that even in the primary debates, where one might have expected some attention to the grassroots base of the party, I explicitly and boldly rejected universal health care. The latter was associated with my opponent Mrs. Clinton and while neither of us has any intention of addressing the root of the health care crisis, namely the for-profit health care insurance industry which has funded both of our campaigns lavishly, my "solution" as Paul Krugman noted at the time was well to the right of that of the DLC's initial choice of candidate.

It does not escape my notice, incidentally, that your communiqué fails to even mention the health care delivery system which you, and most Americans for that matter, support, namely single payer. I take this as a validation of what is perhaps the primary function of my campaign: to extract from the realm of the possible and consign to the realm of the unthinkable and the unutterable what is for most of the civilized world economic common sense and common moral decency. I am happy to report that your letter is a strong indication of my success in having achieved this transformation, one which, as Adolph Reed has written, amounts to nothing less than the functional eradication of the left.

Thus, to take another indication, while you have yet to notice it, so too into the Orwellian memory hole has gone the hope that our nation will "shed its warlike stance around the globe and focus on diplomacy" as a means of resolving conflicts. Allow me to direct you to my website where I call for 92,000 new troops, the redeployment of those soldiers removed from Iraq to an intensified conflict in Afghanistan-and possibly Pakistan. Also included in most of my recent foreign policy addresses are calls for unilateral action against governments suspected of support for terrorism not to mention my repeated threats against Iran and Venezuela.

Also consigned to the realm of far-left fantasy is "an environmental policy that transforms the economy by shifting billions of dollars from the consumption of fossil fuels to alternative energy sources". In his previous capacity as chief lobbyist for energy giant Exelon, my campaign manager David Axelrod has spoken eloquently of the need to ramp up the construction of nuclear power plants. That's what I mean by "alternative" and please rest assured that Mr. Axelrod will serve as a strong voice for this "alternative" in my administration. i will also invest in "alternative energy" through continuing subsidies to corn based ethanol, in so doing securing payback to the farm behemoth Archer Daniels Midland for having bankrolled my campaign at the crucial initial stages. Another "alternative energy source" embraced by me is "clean coal" and the industry which helped me ascend to the first rungs of the political ladder in Illinois.

... And then you wake up, as my wife likes to say.

And when you do wake up, you will realize that you are left with one option: "challenging" me. But please bear in mind that with the new surveillance capacities which I authorized as Senator and which will be available to me as President, challenging the executive branch is no longer the fun and games it was in the past. I have, of course, no intention of revealing sources and methods, but for the moment let's just say that I know what you had for breakfast this morning.

That said, you may rest assured it is quite unlikely that I will need to exercise these powers for any purposes beyond my own personal amusement.

For indeed I, and the corporate executives, white shoe law firms, big money lobbyists and their numerous apologists are in your debt for having led so many leftists into the abattoir which is my campaign. The movement which only a few years ago assembled millions in the streets of Manhattan, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago and other cities is in shambles-unable to organize a gathering beyond a few old timers at a street corner, let alone the kind of action which might actually cause me and my base to take notice.

There is no need for a howitzer when the tiniest fly swatter will do quite nicely against the political force which you now represent.

And so in conclusion allow me to cite the deathless interrogatory of Clint Eastwood which applies not just to my campaign but which is routinely appealed to, consciously or not, by all politicians of any stripe:

"What are you going to do about it, Punk?"

Given that, for the past generation, you have repeatedly hoisted the white flag before the battle even began, the smart money is on your doing absolutely nothing.

Warmest Regards,


August 4, 2008

Studies in iconography

A helpful correspondent writes:
Have you seen the MoveOn ad on Comedy Central: various talking heads (in front of a white Apple-style background) confess to what would initially appear to be a major peccadillo (e.g., drug use) but then it turns out they are confessing to "hope." It ends with a "your mind on hope" chick (literal chick cheeping--I forget the name of the comedian actor holding the chick).
"Apple-style background" is well-observed, I think. Obama marketing and Apple marketing do seem to have a lot in common stylistically. There's an essay somebody with a better visual sense than mine ought to write.

Being more word-oriented myself, I noticed the usual Obamacult rhetorical style, with its hypnotically rhythmic repetition of a floating signifier -- "hope", of course, in this case. One senses that it would be very uncool to ask "hope for what, exactly?"

But that's the kind of dreary literal-minded pedantic guy I am; and for the same reason my attention was particularly arrested by this line:

For eight years we all thought it was gone. But now it's back. Hope.
Leaving aside the fact that these characters were children eight years ago: The implication is that the "hope" shortage is a quite recent development, due entirely to the terrible Bush & Co.

Here we see beautifully illustrated the systematic historical amnesia that's both a prerequisite and a core product of Democratic Party cultists like MoveOn. The ghastly Clinton years are retrospectively re-imagined as a rosy time when the very rivers ran with "hope."

But MoveOn has unintentionally told an important truth in this line. "Now it's back" -- after eight years. Let's see -- what went away eight years ago, and will be coming back now, besides "hope"? Why, Clintonism: which can be crisply defined as Bushism wearing, like Bottom in the play, a donkey's head. Bushism is frank about the goals of corporate hegemony, global empire, and the Third-Worldization of the home front; the difference from Clintonism is that Clintonism is less candid about the same goals.

So thanks, MoveOn, for letting the cat out of the bag, and telling us what we can really "hope" for: a slimmer, hipper, iPod-savvy Bill Clinton.

Off to see the wizard

I recently paid a long-deferred visit to the Obanomics page at this world-historical man's site.

The preamble, as noted elsewhere, has its charm. If you happen to find yourself running a Cantonese takeout somewhere in the bowels of middle America, passing out bags of deep-fried death on the installment plan, it might read like notes from the sunny side of Dream Street.

“I believe that America's free market has been the engine of America's great progress. It's created a prosperity that is the envy of the world. It's led to a standard of living unmatched in history. And it has provided great rewards to the innovators and risk-takers who have made America a beacon for science, and technology, and discovery…We are all in this together. From CEOs to shareholders, from financiers to factory workers, we all have a stake in each other's success because the more Americans prosper, the more America prospers.”
Then there's "Barack Obama's Plan to Jumpstart the Economy," which comes in four bullet points. Though it's aimed at the right sorta folks, and weighs in at $50 billion, its about twenty times too small to amount to a hope-tribe fulfillment:
  • Provide Additional Tax Rebates to American Workers:. Stimulus: $20 billion.
  • Establish a $10 billion Foreclosure Prevention Fund: Stimulus: $10 billion.
  • Relief for State and Local Governments Hardest-Hit by the Housing Crisis: Stimulus: $10 billion.
  • Extend and Expand Unemployment Insurance:. Stimulus: $10 billion.
Tax relief? Instead of a massive payroll tax rebate, he'll "cut income taxes by $1,000 for working families" to offset payroll taxes instead -- i.e., hammer one more nail in the coffin of the progressive income tax, while in substance increasing the tax burden share of paycheck America. Monstrous.
"Obama believes that trade with foreign nations should strengthen the American economy and create more American jobs"
How? Not by busting the oiler/Asian forex cartel, that's for sure. Instead, "He will stand firm against agreements that undermine our economic security.... use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world..." Since he knows that's a paper-tiger move, he'll also "update the existing system of Trade Adjustment Assistance." Bigger, better collision mats.

Oh, he's gonna create 5 million new clean and green jobs in "manufacturing" -- where we need prolly 15 million just as a starter.

Crumbling infrastructure? He's going to out-Hoover Herbert himself. He'll "create a national infrastructure reinvestment bank" -- that is, he'll add another potential crumbling financial institution -- another Freddie or Fannie -- to infuse funds into our great national transportation rebuild. At what rate, you ask? $6 billion a year. That won't even pay for the orange cones on the interstate.

Oh it goes on. Jobs get created, like gamma babies in Huxley world. It's gonna rain jobs, folks, rain 'em -- good ones, high-pay secure ones, fulfilling ones!

Speaking of incubators: how's this sound, Mr and Ms Startup: "a National Network of Public-Private Business Incubators". Okay, not for take-out joints but -- you got a breakthrough product up your sleeve?


"Obama will strengthen the ability of workers to organize unions. He will fight for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act. Obama will ensure that his labor appointees support workers' rights and will work to ban the permanent replacement of striking workers. Obama will also increase the minimum wage and index it to inflation to ensure it rises every year."

Good luck, Babar.

The hits just keep on coming:

  • "Obama will crack down on fraudulent brokers and lenders"
  • "Address Predatory Credit Card Practices"
  • "establish a five-star rating system"
  • "Reform Bankruptcy Laws" (A final right cross to the chin of Mr Potters everywhere?)
  • "Consolidate... the American family"
  • "High-Quality Afterschool Opportunities -- "
Oh man oh man -- do we have to get this guy into the White House, or what?

August 8, 2008

All hail Obama Caesar

According to The Note:

Obamaland wants a nomination by acclimation, not by roll call -- something that hasn't happened since LBJ claimed the nomination in a party still reeling from JFK's death, in 1964.
Meanwhile, Hill & Bill want a token vote with Hill's name in nomination. This is supposed to be very meaningful for Hillary's supporters -- and maybe it is at that, poor devils.

August 11, 2008

'Bama baits the bear

The Great Game is afoot again in the Caucasus -- when did it ever stop, really? -- and Obama, though a late pick, is valiantly scrambling to keep up.

McCain, an old Cold War veteran, beat Barry to the punch with a chest-thumping line of bluster: Russia's quick and (it seems) highly effective response to that fool Saakashvili's adventure in South Ossetia runs the risk of "serious negative consequences", or some such, to Russia's relations with the US and... Europe!

(Is McCain also running for president of Europe? Do you have to ask? Do the Europeans get a vote? Same answer.)

Some guy at Daily Kos thought Barry would do better:

Obama, as a force of reason, will more likely deal with the complexity and reality of the situation, and will thus be completely marginalized (in the Cheney/Bush/Rove/neocon mindset).
It's tempting to follow up this idea that Obama is a "voice of reason." Reason? He's entirely a voice of feeling, as far as anybody can tell. And our Kosnik also thinks that the South Ossetia brouhaha was contrived by the present US administration solely with reference to the upcoming election: for him, it goes without saying that an American presidential election is the hub of the universe.

But let's rein ourselves in here, avoid these interesting side trails, and keep following the story line. Here's Barry's actual response -- not quite what our Kosnik was hoping for, I fear:

... [T]he situation in Georgia.... continues to deteriorate because of Russia’s escalation of the use of military force... No matter how this conflict started, Russia has escalated it well beyond the dispute over South Ossetia.... The Georgian government has proposed a cease-fire and the Russian government should accept it.
(The Georgian government has proposed a cease-fire because they are -- not surprisingly -- getting their asses kicked.)
This is a clear violation of the sovereignty and internationally recognized borders of Georgia.... [We should] review multilateral and bilateral arrangements with Russia, including Russia’s interest in joining the World Trade Organization.
He even drags in the "Olympic ideal" -- how terrible that Russia should harsh our mellow during the Olympics!

The whole thing is well worth reading, and thoroughly vomitous. For the first time, I'm starting to think that the wrinkly white guy might actually have a shot. Wouldn't that be a hoot?

August 12, 2008

Predictable as the monsoon season

Bound to happen, right? Zbigniew "Not dead yet" Brzezinski, one of Obama's shopworn national-security wise men, plays the inevitable Hitler card:

Obama adviser compares Putin to Hitler

The former US national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, has called on the world community to isolate Russia... likening its tactics to those of "Hitler or Stalin".

Brzezinski, who was the national security adviser under President Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981, and is now an occasional adviser to the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, said the Russian prime minister, Vladimir Putin, was "following a course that is horrifyingly similar to that taken by Stalin and Hitler in the 1930s".

He said that Putin's "justification" for splitting up Georgia - because of the Russian citizens living in South Ossetia - could be compared to when Hitler used the alleged suffering of ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland as a pretext for annexing Czechoslovakia in 1938.

In an interview with the conservative German daily Die Welt, he said even more striking were the parallels between Putin's strategy against Georgia and Stalin's invasion of Finland in 1939, describing both as "the undermining of the sovereignty of a small, democratic neighbouring state through the use of violence". He added: "Georgia is to an extent the Finland of today, both morally and strategically."

Wow! Georgia is not just Czechoslovakia -- it's Finland too! And Putin is not just Hitler -- he's Stalin too!

Presumably Zbig is keeping Poland and Attila the Hun in reserve, for when he really needs to lay it on thick.

November 5, 2008

Nunc dimittis

Couldn't have asked for a better Guy Fawkes Day present: Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff in the Obama administration. Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace.

Rahm is an old favorite here at SMBIVA: not just a Clinton hatchet man, but an actual Israeli, to all intents and purposes, whether or not the guy has a Promised Land passport in a hidey-hole somewhere.

Rahm's dad was in the Irgun, Rahm himself flew back to the Heimat during the first Iraq war and served in the Israeli army (as some kind of unenlisted civilian volunteer, he says), and he was and has remained a stalwart promoter of the second and still ongoing Iraq war.

Don't look for any constructive developments anywhere between the Euphrates and the Nile with this ghoul roaming the White House corridors.

Nice to see that Mr Change And Hope is living up -- very quickly indeed -- to our low expectations of him.

November 7, 2008

Obie to labor: See you in 2012

From the Wall Street Journal:

Next Administration Shows Signs It Will Seek Middle Ground With Business on Thorny Issues

WASHINGTON -- The weak economy, congressional races that empowered moderates and President-elect Barack Obama's choice of business-friendly advisers suggest Democrats will go slow on controversial labor and regulatory issues.

A bill that would make it easier for unions to organize workers, efforts to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions, and a slew of contemplated taxes will likely take a back seat....

Later this month, Congress is expected to start crafting an economic-stimulus bill.... Some Democrats say the bill could include incentives for alternative-energy initiatives. But anything more controversial -- such as a provision allowing bankruptcy judges to lower mortgage payments for homeowners -- likely won't be included.

That proposal and measures making it easier for people facing bankruptcy to gain protection from creditors are favored by many Democrats, including Mr. Obama. But such proposals could be difficult to pass in their current form without a protracted fight that could tarnish the new administration.

November 8, 2008

Getting better all the time

I'm really enjoying myself these last few days. Here's the latest: Obama will apparently be continuing Clinton's and Bush's provocative forward policy with respect to Russia -- a Western imperial tic (as I've observed here repeatedly) with a 150-year history.

From Aunty Beeb:

US President-elect Barack Obama will go ahead with plans to build part of a controversial missile defence system on Polish soil, Poland has announced.

President Lech Kaczynski's office said the pledge was made during a telephone conversation between the two men.

Russia opposes the US plans, and early this week said it planned to deploy missiles on Poland's border and electronically jam the US system.

This is the first signal that Mr Obama plans to continue George Bush's policy.

During the US election campaign, Mr Obama said he wanted to review the system to build a missile defence system in central Europe to ensure it would be effective and would not target Russia.

November 11, 2008

Obama: Soft on welfare queens

-- No, no, not those welfare queens, a different bunch:

President-elect Barack Obama yesterday urged President Bush to support immediate aid for struggling automakers and back a new stimulus package, even as congressional Democrats began drafting legislation to give the Detroit automakers quick access to $25 billion by adding them to the Treasury Department's $700 billion economic rescue program.
I've always been very amused by the contrast between the self-representation of business folk, and the actuality. Some years ago, a couple of other propellerheads and I had quite a good idea -- an idea which some other propellerheads ended up making a lot of money with -- and we went with our begging bowls to various venture-capital folk (this was when that unamiable species was as thick on the ground as bison were, before the railroads came). The first question the VC guys asked (and they were guys, every time, so cool your jets there, Ms Steinem) was this: "What are the barriers to entry for potential competitors?" The Grail they were seeking, you see, was quite simply monopoly. Competition is for losers.

Representation: risk-taking; self-made; beholden to no one; bold; unafraid of possible failure; eager to compete on the level playing field, may the best man win, et cetera, et cetera -- one has heard all this piffle a million times, right?

Reality: they hate competition worse than cholera, and when they fail, they run to Uncle for a handout.

And Uncle, with both halves of his bicameral, bipartisan brain, feels their pain.

March 28, 2011

Boots on the ground

Latest from Mike Flugennock, who writes:

For those of you who were able to tear yourselves away from the tragedy in Japan and the US media’s gushing over Obama’s “humanitarian intervention” in Libya, there was some horrifying news from Afghanistan which underscores Obama’s hypocrisy in the area of human rights and violence: the publication in German publication Der Spiegel of a batch of photographs taken by US soldiers with their “trophies” — the corpses of Afghan civilians murdered by “kill teams” who created artificial “combat situations” in order to hunt human beings for sport.

About The Obamiad

This page contains an archive of all entries posted to Stop Me Before I Vote Again in the The Obamiad category. They are listed from oldest to newest.

The mortgage trap is the previous category.

The October surprise is the next category.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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