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Reach-y kisses

By Michael J. Smith on Monday March 9, 2009 09:16 AM

My friend Bruno (mentioned here before), the ultra-revolutionary by night and Obama cheerleader by day, recently wrote:

It's hard not to start going into a "rah-rah" list again, but I'm sort of impressed by in only 40 days passing the pay equity law, proposing a budget that has the Wall Street crowd really pissed off, coming out strong for the EFCA,  and a few other things. I don't like the bank bailouts, super ugh.   I guess I have my fingers crossed that he's trying to let it go so far that he's forced into something better....

  What he's done so far could be read as signalling  a willingness to go a further left if he gets support "from the bottom up". Today there's a headline that he wants to talk to the Taliban....

Here's the story about Obie and the Taliban:
Obama Ponders Outreach to Elements of Taliban

WASHINGTON — President Obama declared in an interview that the United States was not winning the war in Afghanistan and opened the door to a reconciliation process in which the American military would reach out to moderate elements of the Taliban, much as it did with Sunni militias in Iraq.

Mr. Obama pointed to the success in peeling Iraqi insurgents away from more hard-core elements of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, a strategy that many credit as much as the increase of American forces with turning the war around in the last two years. “There may be some comparable opportunities in Afghanistan and in the Pakistani region,” he said....

[Obama] signaled that reconciliation could emerge as an important initiative, mirroring the strategy used by Gen. David H. Petraeus in Iraq.

“If you talk to General Petraeus, I think he would argue that part of the success in Iraq involved reaching out to people that we would consider to be Islamic fundamentalists, but who were willing to work with us...."

Here's how I read this: Obama acknowledges that Bush's recent strategy in Iraq has been a "success" -- in a sense we need to explore and will return to -- and he's thinking maybe he should also try the Bush strategy in Afghanistan. (Of course I don't need to point out here that "moderate elements" is the standard Orwellian imperial code for "locals who can be bought.")

But for Bruno, this validation and embrace of the Bush approach constitutes a very hopeful sign. It would be interesting to see the world through Bruno's eyes for a little while, as long as one could be sure that the derangement was temporary.

There's more. Obie acknowledges that the Bush/Petraeus approach of buying up the local militias has been a "success." Now the success or failure of an undertaking can only be assessed by reference to its goals. Doesn't the acknowledgement of "success" imply agreement about the goals?

Is this what all those pwoggies had in mind when they were going all weak in the knees with Obiemania? Was their animus against Bush based only on the idea that he was doing a bad job? Did they agree with his goals, and reprehend him only for not attaining them?

Obie has pulled off a rather breathtaking bait-and-switch here. He has very smoothly repositioned the discourse about Iraq and Afghanistan into a discussion of means -- means to an end which is never explicitly stated but is implicitly agreed upon by all: namely, conquest.

Comments (21)

pro-war folks have proxies in the national discourse (media and/or government) who support the war.

anti-war folks are stuck with proxies in the national discourse who oppose the 'handling of' the war.

obamna is clearly of the second group. his acknowledgment of any kind of "success in Iraq" only makes for a smoother transition of power. (nice segue!)


There was never any chance that Obama, or any President, would just walk out of Iraq and Afghanistan. We've known for a long time that the end of Iraq would be to call it a victory and leave (however fucked up the country really was at the time.)

Obama did this by saying Afghanistan was where the action was now, and magically, Iraq disappeared from the public view.

Now, the wonks and the generals are beginning to see that Afghanistan is hopeless too, and they are starting to adjust expectations. I don't see Obama as being a great disappointment; merely a sentient being who's reacting to unmistakable information coming in from the outside.

Michael Hureaux:

Amazing how easy it is to sell a used pile of crap merely by changing the paint job.


The imperial project has many
Avatars eh?

Its agents are rife
But it's drones are a multitude

These drones have many
And various
Implanted controls
My favorite....
Common decency

Al Schumann:
Was their animus against Bush based only on the idea that he was doing a bad job? Did they agree with his goals, and reprehend him only for not attaining them?

It's very hard to tell. Some will say as much, but the same people who play at that eager beaver Realpolitik routinely compete to adjust their stance to fit whatever their flocks and flock leaders accept from their senior opinion makers. So, for example, when bombing people was bad because it's a bad thing to bomb people, that's what they believed and the pecking order took up morality -- as pecking points, if you will. When the flock leaders got the "efficacy" talking points, the flock praised efficacy and found flaws with the pod members who came up with less efficacious encomiums to efficacy.

I'd attribute the hook to common decency, but there's a struggle for dominance in the core flock. They're always triangulating against each other and Nader-baiting the stragglers. The Hillary-huggers and Kucinich-cuddlers are still being disciplined.

For a minority, perhaps, common decency is a reliably effective hook. But it's a rare bird who takes it further than goo-goo sentimentalism.


I think it's time to give up baiting the pwogs (and hoping that the decent few -- Krugman, Reich, etc. -- can still be redeemed) and start writing about the visionaries and lunatics who actually have something to say that might work. OP started to do this recently by digging up some old socialists or Debs-ites. Otherwise we're just engaging in schadenfreude, giggling at the passengers on the Titanic.

What's your psychiatric diagnosis of this disease, this exaggeration and making-up of "strong" stands? Is it simple narcissism, a projection of one's own importance into an important place?

Pay equity will do us a lot of good once the last job blows away in the wind...

Al Schumann:

Seneca, I find the baiting and ridicule important. For some people, they make a more mutinous outlook easier. For others, they reinforce the outlook. They offer a modest complement to the positive outlets offered and suggested by others, here and in their own venues. And they offer relief from the frustrations of good prescriptive proposals that fall flat, for lack of resources and energy to support them.

By themselves, I agree with you: they're schadenfreude. Owen's mining of the visionaries and lunatics is invaluable; on its own, and by comparison. What he's got is a way forward. I don't think the baiting and ridicule diminish it.

Finally, have a heart, Seneca! Have pity on me. Most of the time baiting and ridicule is all I've got.


seneca wrote:

I think it's time to give up baiting the pwogs
I dunno, seneca. Ridicule can be very constructive. Getting a few people to feel foolish about their infatuation with the Democrats may seem a very modest goal, but it's useful as far as it goes -- or so I hope.

There's no lack of visionaries. Blueprints for Utopia abound. What's lacking is pissed-offedness.

And what's present in vast depressing excess is "hope" in figures like Obama, Pelosi, Biden....


Bruno is actually acting true to form as a Marxist. Others of the same ideological persuasion, such as Michael Parenti, who pooh-poohs the
"feudal" Tibetans' aspiration for freedom from their "modernizing" Chinese overlords, also have little sympathy for such "backward" peoples who were left behind in the March of History. Similarly, most organized Communist Parties in Europe such as the PCF never gave the time of day to, say, Algerians resisting the "civilizing mission" of the French.

In this, they are faithfully following the footsteps of Marx himself who was ambivalent about the struggle for independence of "backward" people such as Indians who revolted against their English overlords–manfully bearing the White Man’s Civilizing Burden—in 1857. It might of interest to listen to an interview (MP3 here, starts around minute 40) recorded in 1981 of probably the most prominent living Marxist, Eric Hobsbawm and count the number of times he manages to refer to non-industrialized societies as ‘backward’ in less than 20 minutes.


Sigh, haste makes waste. This should work.

So Marxism makes somebody gullible and secretly imperialist, sk? As somebody who's a bit of a Marxist myself, I suppose I'd better get busy adoring Obama and denouncing poor "people."

Gimme a break.


Michael, you could avoid using a term like "masses" to begin with. As you're using the less ideologically charged term, "people" there may be hope for you yet ;)


Yo, MJS. Perhaps your use of "Bruno" as a foil should be put out to pasture. First of all, he is hardly your typical lefty Obama apologist. Hell, he's hardly your typical CPUSA Obama apologist (that is, the other five besides himself are closer to the median). That dude is just stone cold losing it, drool running out of his mouth and pacing in tight circles on the street corner... and yet tenderly self effacing on occasion, too. He is just not the garden variety exhibit you'd put up the museum glass window to stand in for all the rest. Secondly, his CPUSA derangement is just giving "sk" license to issue his sandbox anarcho juvenilia. God help us that anyone would unequivocally defend the Chinese bureaucratic capitalists. But please, paint-by-numbers anti-Stalinist preening that would fine a nice home with the "black book of communism" crowd? Isn't anyone intellectually independent enough to split the difference and come up with something original?


On baiting the pwogs: that was thoughtless of me! We can never stop deflating hope and complacency. I've had more laughs on this site over the last three years than all the rest added up, and that must be good for something.

However, Michael, I noticed a slight flaw in the middle here:

"There's no lack of visionaries. Blueprints for Utopia abound. What's lacking is pissed-offedness."

1) Slightly derisory overtone to "Utopia".
2) "pissed-offedness" without a clear alternative merely leads to wishing for a better democrat.

We all want to get out of the empire business; and we all want an economy and central government not run by Wall Street. But what would those alternative states look like, on the ground? OP is pecking away at the problem, god bless 'im.

I am really accusing myself as much as MJS and Al, in this. I'm way too comfortable with cynical detachment.


"Isn't anyone intellectually independent enough to split the difference and come up with something original?"

i guess this common
recipe for conventional wisdom
leads to its negation


"giving "sk" license to issue his sandbox anarcho juvenilia"
nice squib
but my guess is sk
medds no stinking license
he like a nimbler more melancholy elmer fudd
hunts us stalinoids
in or out of season


"So Marxism makes somebody gullible and secretly imperialist'
or as in my case

gullible and overtly hierophantic


gluelicker writes, cogently:

Yo, MJS. Perhaps your use of "Bruno" as a foil should be put out to pasture. First of all, he is hardly your typical lefty Obama apologist.
That is certainly true. Bruno is a liberal who thinks he's a Marxist, and most of Obie's fan club are liberals who think that a liberal is something different from what it is.

But I still think Bruno is illuminating. In a way, he ties himself in the same kind of knots the liberals do -- he just ties 'em much, much tighter.

Bruno, like the garden-variety Obiemaniac, thinks that Obama is really, or secretly, or inwardly committed to the same things Bruno is. In Bruno's case, that's some notion of the "working class". In the standard liberal's case, it's some notion of common decency.

Both are equally self-deluded, and their delusion, though growing from somewhat different roots, bursts forth in much the same type of flower -- though Bruno's, admittedly, are huge gaudy things that only the hothouse of left sectarianism could possibly produce.


"most of Obie's fan club are liberals who think that a liberal is something different from what it is"


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