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Paul Rigby
11-14-2008, 09:01 PM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10948

Obama's Intelligence Agenda: More of the Same from the "Change Administration"

By Tom Burghardt

Global Research, November 14, 2008

Antifascist Calling


While expectations may be high that the incoming Obama administration will reverse many of the worst features of the Bush regime--from warrantless wiretapping, illegal detention, torture, "targeted assassinations" and preemptive war--now that the cheering has stopped, expect more of the same.

According to The Wall Street Journal, "President-elect Barack Obama is unlikely to radically overhaul controversial Bush administration intelligence policies, advisers say, an approach that is almost certain to create tension within the Democratic Party."
With hyperbolic "change" rhetoric in the air, Obama is relying on a gaggle of former intelligence insiders, warmed-over Clinton administration officials and "moderate" Republicans, many of whom helped Bush craft his administration's illegal policies.

With U.S. street cred at an all-time low, due in no small measure to Washington's hubristic fantasies that it really is an empire and not a rapidly decaying failed state, ruling elites have literally banked on Obama to deliver the goods.

During his run for the White House, the Illinois senator may have mildly criticized some of the administration's so-called "counterterrorism" policies including the Bushist penchant for secrecy, the disappearance of "terrorist" suspects, driftnet surveillance of American citizens and legal residents, CIA "black site" gulags and the crushing of domestic dissent.

But in the few scant days since the November 4 general election, the contours of what Democratic party corporatist grifters will roll-out come January 20 are taking shape. Citing Obama's carefully-crafted public relations blitz on the campaign trail opposing illegal spying, the Journal reports:

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

The new president could take a similar approach to revising the rules for CIA interrogations, said one current government official familiar with the transition. Upon review, Mr. Obama may decide he wants to keep the road open in certain cases for the CIA to use techniques not approved by the military, but with much greater oversight. (Siobhan Gorman, "Intelligence Policy to Stay Largely Intact," The Wall Street Journal, November 11, 2008)

The "current government official" cited by the Journal fails to specify precisely what it means to "keep the road open" when it comes to torturing prisoners of war in violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Considering that top Bush administration officials "repeatedly discussed and approved specific details of exactly how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency," as ABC News reported back in April, and that "high-level discussions about these 'enhanced interrogation techniques' were so detailed ... some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed--down to the number of times CIA agents would use a specific tactic," one is left to ponder what "much greater oversight" would actually mean.

Perhaps such "oversight" entails a cosmetic shake-up at the top rungs of U.S. intelligence agencies? The Washington Post reports that "The nation's top two intelligence officers expect to be replaced by President-elect Barack Obama early in his administration, according to senior intelligence officials."

But would the replacement of Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell, a former admiral who oversaw spooky Booz Allen Hamilton corporate contracts with the "intelligence community," and CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, an Air Force general who implemented Bushist warrantless wiretapping programs while NSA Director, represent "change" or continuity?

While some Democrats may oppose retaining America's top spooks because of their public support of Bushist policies, "other Democrats and many intelligence experts," according to the Post "give high marks to the current cadre of intelligence leaders, crediting them with restoring stability and professionalism to a community rocked by multiple scandals in recent years."

With a subtext arguing in favor of retaining McConnell and Hayden, Post journalists Walter Pincus (who has a dubious history of collaboration with the CIA as researchers Daniel Brandt and Steve Badrich note) and Karen DeYoung, cite unnamed "intelligence officials" who think their early departure "could be seen as politicizing their offices and setting a precedent for automatic turnover when the White House changes hands."

Hilariously (though I'm not laughing), Pincus and DeYoung cite the case of Bush's retention of George J. Tenet as CIA Director as a "stabilizing move," one viewed favorably within the Agency. Tenet, a Clinton appointee and political insider was a primary architect of intelligence forgeries, along with Bushist minions in the Pentagon and the Office of the Vice President when "the intelligence and the facts were being fixed around the policy," prior to the 2003 U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.

According to the Post, both men have expressed interest in keeping their perches atop the U.S. "intelligence community." And why wouldn't they? According to Secrecy News the October 28 release by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence revealed that the 2008 budget for the National Intelligence Program amounted to $47.5 billion, not counting an additional $10 billion in spending on the Pentagon's Military Intelligence Program.

It should be kept in mind the $57.5 billion doesn't include the Pentagon and other intelligence agency's "black budget" for undisclosed programs and "special operations" hidden within ultra-secretive "special access programs" (SAPs) kept off the books. According to defense and security analyst William M. Arkin,

There are also additional categories "above" Top Secret called "special access programs" that are used to protect presidential, military, intelligence, anti-terrorism, counter-drug, special operations, and "sensitive activities," as well as classified research and development efforts where it is deemed that extraordinary secrecy is needed to protect capabilities and vulnerabilities. Special access programs are regulated by statute and are defined as deliberately designated programs where "need-to-know" or access controls beyond those normally provided to classified information are created. The clearance and access requirements are identical to, or exceed, those required for access to sensitive compartmented information, and SAPs require special (and expensive) security, access, and communications measures. (William M. Arkin, Code Names: Deciphering U.S. Military Plans, Programs, and Operations in the 9/11 World, Hanover, NH: Steerforth Press, 2005, p.18)

Additionally, we have no way of determining what other secret slush funds are available to the "intelligence community" from a welter of illegal ventures such as the laundering of illicit funds by CIA intelligence assets in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Balkans, Colombia and Mexico. Derived from the international narcotics trade and "cleansed" as they pass through a series of off-shore banks and U.S. financial institutions, far-right narcotrafficking assets involved in the murder of trade unionists, journalists, leftist opponents or indeed, the 9/11 attacks which kick-started America's "war on terror," are readily available for planetary-wide U.S. "special operations."

The Obama intelligence transition team is led by former National Counterterrorism chief John Brennan and former CIA intelligence analysis director Jami Miscik, according to the Journal. But what the Journal fails to mention however, is that Brennan was a former president and CEO of the The Analysis Corporation (TAC) and the first chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), as investigative journalist Tim Shorrock reported in his essential book, Spies For Hire.

Much of TAC's business is with with the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC) where Brennan worked for three years. As Shorrock points outs, "In fact, the NCTC is one of the company's largest customers, and TAC provides counterterrorism support to 'most of the agencies within the Intelligence Community,' according to a company press release."

During the 1990s, TAC developed the U.S. government's first terrorist database, called Tipoff, for the State Department. In 2003, management of the database was transferred to the NCTC which Brennan managed. By 2005 Tipoff had morphed into the Terrorist Identities Datamart Environment (TIDE), the mother of all federal counterterrorism databases and the "wellspring" for watch lists distributed to airlines, law enforcement, border posts and U.S. consulates world-wide. According to Shorrock, in 2005 TAC won a $2.3 million contract in partnership with CACI International "to integrate information from the Defense Intelligence Agency into the TIDE database."

INSA, according to Shorrock is one of three "business associations representing intelligence contractors" and the "one with the closet ties to the government," which "primarily represents contractors working for the NSA and the CIA." And SourceWatch reports that among INSA's leading members can be found such corporate heavy-hitters as the scandal-plagued BAE Systems, Booz Allen Hamilton, Computer Science Corporation, General Dynamics, Hewlett-Packard Company, Lockheed Martin, ManTech International Corporation, Microsoft and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC). Indeed, current DNI Mike McConnell, was INSA chairman between 2005-2007 before heading up the Office of National Intelligence.

According the The Washington Post, Brennan "is one of several names that have surfaced, including Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-Neb.), as possible replacements for McConnell or Hayden." One can almost hear the clink of glasses amid popping corks in corporate suites across Virginia and Washington!

What do we know about Jami Miscik, Obama's other intelligence transition team leader? According to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Miscik "served as Director for Intelligence Programs at the National Security Council during the Clinton Administration from 1995 to 1996." In the run up to the Iraq war, Miscik played a key role in concocting fake intelligence about Iraq's alleged "weapons of mass destruction" and "links" to al Qaeda that were used by the Bush administration to sell the war to the American people. During this period, as head of the CIA's analytical division she suppressed reports from Company analysts that rejected Bushist claims as unfounded.

More recently, Miscik was "the Global Head of Sovereign Risk at Lehman Brothers" according to the CFR. "In this capacity," Miscik's biographers write with a straight face, "she assesses geopolitical and economic risks for the firm's senior management and clients." But with the multi-billion dollar collapse of Lehman Brothers amid allegations of massive fraud and management corruption, the failed firm is now under investigation for dodgy "structured products" and "mini-bonds." One can only wonder what advice the incoming Obama administration would seek from Miscik or indeed from CFR!

Once the Obama team is in place come January 20, will the crimes of the Bush regime be investigated by Congress or will gross criminality be prosecuted by a new team at the Department of Justice? Don't hold your breath.

The Washington Post reports that while "political considerations affected every crevice of the department during the Bush years," Ron Klain, Al Gore's former chief of staff who now occupies that position for Vice President-elect Joe Biden, dismissed calls to overhaul the Department and compared "preelection brainstorming sessions of Democrats" to "an escalating composition of woes." Post reporter Carrie Johnson writes,

Obama will have to do a careful balancing act. At a conference in Washington this week, former department criminal division chief Robert S. Litt asked that the new administration avoid fighting old battles that could be perceived as vindictive, such as seeking to prosecute government officials involved in decisions about interrogation and the gathering of domestic intelligence. Human rights groups have called for such investigations, as has House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.).

"It would not be beneficial to spend a lot of time calling people up to Congress or in front of grand juries," Litt said. "It would really spend a lot of the bipartisan capital Obama managed to build up." (Carrie Johnson, "Obama Team Face Major Task in Justice Dept. Overhaul," The Washington Post, November 13, 2008)

But as we've come to expect from the corporate media, Johnson failed to investigate Litt's own conflicts of interest when it comes to probing Bushist crimes by CIA and other intelligence officials. As Glenn Greenwald observes, "This brazen defense of lawlessness articulated by Litt is now as close to a unanimous, bipartisan consensus across the political establishment as it gets."

Indeed, Litt's argument in favor of impunity for mass murder, torture and lawless spying by high political officials, particularly the President and those closet to him such as Vice President Richard Cheney, mean they literally are exempt from the rule of law.

Greenwald reports that during his tenure at the Justice Department as the head of the criminal division under Bill Clinton, Litt

...spent much of his career as a federal prosecutor, aggressively prosecuting and imprisoning all sorts of ordinary Americans. He was one of the most vocal advocates for prohibiting government-proof encryption technology in order to preserve the Government's ability to access people's computer communications as part of criminal investigations, and was part of a Clinton DOJ that very aggressively pursued even garden-variety drug cases and used mandatory sentencing guidelines to ensure harsher sentences for common criminals. (Glenn Greenwald, "Post-Partisan Harmony vs. the Rule of Law, Salon, November 13, 2008)

While prosecuting and imprisoning low-level drug offenders and the poor is an absolute moral obligation for Litt and his ilk, hauling lawbreaking corporate and political clients before a court of law, like the impeachment of felons occupying high-office, is "off the table." Greenwald points out that as a partner at Arnold & Porter, an "up-armored" corporate legal behemoth, the company brazenly announced on Litt's Arnold & Porter page that he represented several employees of intelligence agencies "in connection with criminal investigations. None has been charged."

While the Post may depict him as an objective analyst, Litt is no more than a shill for well-heeled, "covered" clients. Indeed, if he represents CIA, NSA or White House officials involved in illegal intelligence and surveillance programs Greenwald writes, "that obviously motivates his insistence that investigations not be pursued." And so it goes...

Memo to Obama supporters: the new product roll-out is a smashing success, "change" has come to Washington, the corporate grift continues. Any questions?

Tom Burghardt is a researcher and activist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition to publishing in Covert Action Quarterly and Global Research, an independent research and media group of writers, scholars, journalists and activists based in Montreal, his articles can be read on Dissident Voice, The Intelligence Daily and Pacific Free Press. He is the editor of Police State America: U.S. Military "Civil Disturbance" Planning, distributed by AK Press.

Magda Hassan
11-15-2008, 01:13 AM
Looks like they're already talking 'smooth transition' in other words - no change Status quo forever. So much for the 'Change we can believe in' mantra BS. Obama is just standing quietly by letting all these criminals get away with the looting. Have they got his wife and kids hostage or what?

Peter Lemkin
11-15-2008, 06:32 AM
It is not a surprise and is disappointing, but the most important factor here is how the US Public will react - as they were expecting a modicum of real change. If they don't get it - perhaps both the Republican AND the Democratic Party are finished. I will happily dance on both of their graves! I wonder who will be head of the various intelligence agencies, and if he'll change the status of such things as the JFK Records Act et al.; investigate any assassinations etc. I would imagine the man, while intelligent, is not fully up to speed on the Deep Political Cabal [though he does seem to understand how at least MLK was done-in!] and now 'they' are whispering sweet lies and nothings into his ears, and showing him fake (or selected!) documents and intelligence reports in order to move him to their position. He never was in an opposition camp. But all that said, neither was JFK when he took office. People can be changed by events - they can grow and wake-up. We will see. Nothing was ever given by those at the top - it was always won hard-fought by those on the bottom forcing the change. Americans are lazy and have no idea what constitutes participation in a democracy - voting in semi-rigged elections every 4 years certainly doesn't quality.

Myra Bronstein
11-15-2008, 06:45 AM
Looks like they're already talking 'smooth transition' in other words - no change Status quo forever. So much for the 'Change we can believe in' mantra BS. Obama is just standing quietly by letting all these criminals get away with the looting. Have they got his wife and kids hostage or what?

Exactly.

"When transferring power from a functional, trustworthy regime, everyone favors a smooth transition. When exiting an era marked by criminality and bankrupt ideology, a little rockiness at the start would be a very good sign."

Naomi Klein (http://www.alternet.org/workplace/107000/wall_street%27s_bailout_is_a_trillion-dollar_crime_scene_--_why_aren%27t_the_dems_doing_something_about_it_/?page=2) (http://www.alternet.org/workplace/107000/wall_street%27s_bailout_is_a_trillion-dollar_crime_scene_--_why_aren%27t_the_dems_doing_something_about_it_/?page=2)

Presumably he made a deal with the devil to get in the history books. The nation's first African American president. Hooray.

Paul Rigby
11-15-2008, 07:35 AM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10948

Obama's Intelligence Agenda: More of the Same from the "Change Administration"

By Tom Burghardt

Global Research, November 14, 2008

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10960

Obama transition points to more war and repression

by Bill Van Auken

Global Research, November 14, 2008
World Socialist Web Site


President-elect Barack Obama owes his victory, both in the Democratic primaries and the general election, in large part to the overwhelming hostility of the American people to the years of military aggression, torture, extraordinary rendition, domestic spying and all of the other crimes that will constitute the indelible legacy of the Bush administration.

Thanks to his carefully calibrated criticisms of these policies, as well as his indictment of his principal Democratic opponent, Senator Hillary Clinton, for her October 2002 vote authorizing the US invasion of Iraq, Obama’s “change you can believe in” was perceived by many, both in the US and abroad, as a promise that his election would signal an end to militarism and attacks on democratic rights.

As the transition to the new administration unfolds, however, belief in Obama’s promise of change can be sustained only to the extent that one fails to examine the political record of those who are involved in this process.

For the most part, the Obama-Biden transition team is staffed by veterans of the Clinton administration, associated with the US wars in the Balkans and the policy of regime change in Iraq that set the stage for the war that followed under the Bush presidency.

Symbolic of this relationship is Obama’s decision to send Clinton’s former secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, to this weekend’s Group of 20 meeting in Washington as his personal emissary. Confronted in a 1996 interview on the CBS News program “60 Minutes” with the fact that US sanctions against Iraq had led to the deaths of half a million Iraqi children, Albright replied, “It’s a hard choice, but the price, we, think, is worth it.” She subsequently became a key architect of the US-backed dismemberment of Yugoslavia and the subsequent war against Serbia, which was marked by the widespread bombing of civilian targets. Such is Obama’s face to the world.

In terms of the military policy of an incoming Obama presidency, the most telling indication of the narrow character of the change that can be anticipated are the persistent reports that Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, may be kept at his post after the change in administrations.

Citing two of the president-elect’s advisers, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that “President-elect Barack Obama is leaning toward asking Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain in his position for at least a year.”

The retention of Gates, as the Journal points out, would send the clearest signal of essential continuity with the militarist foreign policy of the Bush administration. “Like the president-elect, Mr. Gates supports deploying more troops to Afghanistan,” the paper noted. “But the defense secretary strongly opposes a firm timetable for withdrawing American forces from Iraq, and his appointment could mean that Mr. Obama was effectively shelving his campaign promise to remove most troops from Iraq by mid-2010.”

The substantial support within the Democratic leadership for keeping Gates on was expressed last weekend by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat of Nevada) in an interview with CNN. “Why wouldn’t we want to keep him?” said Reid. “He’s never been a registered Republican.”

The other figure most often cited as a potential pick as defense secretary is former Clinton-era Navy Secretary Richard Danzig. Last June, Danzig delivered his own endorsement for retaining Gates, telling the Times of London, “My personal position is Gates is a very good secretary of defense and would be an even better one in an Obama administration.”

Whether Gates stays or goes, Obama’s selection of key personnel on his Pentagon transition team signals that the incoming administration “will handle Iraq and Afghanistan differently from the Bush administration—but will stop well short of a complete restructuring of American military strategy in the two war zones,” the Journal’s Yochi Dreazen reported in a subsequent column.

The co-leader of this team, Michele Flournoy, who was in the Defense Department under Clinton, is the current president of the Center for New American Strategy, a bipartisan think tank on military policy. She has publicly opposed the idea of setting a fixed timetable for withdrawing US troops from Iraq. In March 2007, she co-wrote a position paper on Iraq for the center, declaring, “The US has enduring interests in that besieged country and the surrounding region, and these interests will require a significant military presence there for the foreseeable future.”

Another prominent member of the transition team is Sarah Sewall, a Harvard University “human rights” specialist who served as an adviser to Gen. David Petraeus in Iraq and participated in the drafting of the military’s counterinsurgency field manual.

Also serving as senior adviser to the Pentagon transition effort is Sam Nunn, who was chairman of the Senate Committee on Armed Services from 1987 to 1995. A right-wing Democrat and cold warrior, Nunn left the Senate after leading a campaign against President Bill Clinton over the proposal to lift the ban on gays serving openly in the military.

The character of this transition team is in keeping with the real intentions of the incoming Obama administration: the continued occupation of Iraq by tens of thousands of US troops and a sharp escalation of the ongoing colonial war in Afghanistan.

The same picture emerges with the transition team at the Central Intelligence Agency. According to published reports, the leading figure in that effort is John Brennan, who headed up what is now known as the National Counter-Terrorism Center and previously served as CIA deputy executive director and former CIA Director George Tenet’s chief of staff. He left the agency in 2005.

It must be assumed that Brennan, a senior operator in the so-called global war on terrorism, was intimately familiar with and involved in decisions to carry out torture, assassinations, extraordinary rendition and domestic spying that were implemented during his tenure at the CIA.

Also figuring prominently in Obama’s intelligence transition team is Jamie Miscik, who headed the CIA’s analytical operations under Tenet. She played a leading role in manufacturing the phony intelligence about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction” and ties to Al Qaeda that was used to sell the war, and in suppressing reports from agency analysts that rejected both claims as unfounded. After leaving the agency at the end of 2004, she found a lucrative—though relatively short-lived—position as the head of global sovereign risk analysis at the now-bankrupt Wall Street firm Lehman Brothers.

While on the campaign trail, Obama on occasion denounced the Bush administration’s intelligence abuses—warrantless wiretapping, waterboarding, indefinite detention without trial—but when it came to a vote in the Senate last summer, he supported vastly expanded domestic spying powers for the National Security Agency and retroactive immunity for the telecom companies that collaborated with the Bush administration in carrying out the illegal wiretapping.

As with Gates, it is not ruled out that those in charge of US intelligence under Bush will stay on under Obama. Director of National Intelligence Michael McConnell and CIA Director Michael Hayden have both indicated they are prepared to remain at their posts in the incoming Democratic administration. McConnell, who gave Obama a presidential-style intelligence briefing last week, described the president-elect’s team as “very smart, very strategic.”

While Obama’s overall transition chief, John Podesta, stressed last weekend that the incoming president would swiftly repeal a number of executive orders issued by the Bush administration, the specific ones he cited—stem cell research, domestic oil drilling, etc. —did not include the multiple directives authorizing US military and intelligence forces to carry out acts of aggression around the world.

Given that Obama has vowed to escalate cross-border raids against Pakistan and prosecute the so-called war on terror—the pretext used to justify Washington’s use of military force to dominate the oil-rich regions of the globe—he will in all likelihood adopt these orders as his own.

It is only 10 days since Obama was swept to victory in the presidential election by a wave of popular hostility to the Bush administration. Yet the actions of the president-elect and his advisers are already making it clear that the longing of millions of Americans for an end to the growth of US militarism and international criminality are not to be realized after the inauguration in January.

I'm afraid I've already reached the stage where I find Obama's rhetoric laughable. The message from the transition couldn't be clearer: "Thanks, and good riddance, suckers!"

David Guyatt
11-15-2008, 12:16 PM
It is not a surprise and is disappointing, but the most important factor here is how the US Public will react - as they were expecting a modicum of real change. If they don't get it - perhaps both the Republican AND the Democratic Party are finished. I will happily dance on both of their graves! I wonder who will be head of the various intelligence agencies, and if he'll change the status of such things as the JFK Records Act et al.; investigate any assassinations etc. I would imagine the man, while intelligent, is not fully up to speed on the Deep Political Cabal [though he does seem to understand how at least MLK was done-in!] and now 'they' are whispering sweet lies and nothings into his ears, and showing him fake (or selected!) documents and intelligence reports in order to move him to their position. He never was in an opposition camp. But all that said, neither was JFK when he took office. People can be changed by events - they can grow and wake-up. We will see. Nothing was ever given by those at the top - it was always won hard-fought by those on the bottom forcing the change. Americans are lazy and have no idea what constitutes participation in a democracy - voting in semi-rigged elections every 4 years certainly doesn't quality.

It would be nice to think that the public will do something abut it Pete, but history tells us that they probably won't and if even they try, their efforts will be most probably be ignored.

I keep boring people with the same message: there is no democracy. It's a myth to keep you slumbering. The law is not fair or impartial. It is written to favour the wealthy and corporations so that they can pick your pockets and plunder our assets with impunity.

Only when enough people wake up to these hardball facts can any change even be possible and even then it would be a remarkable achievement as entrenched power would never give up without a fight -- and theyhold all the aces...

Myra Bronstein
11-15-2008, 03:51 PM
... (http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10960)
I'm afraid I've already reached the stage where I find Obama's rhetoric laughable. The message from the transition couldn't be clearer: "Thanks, and good riddance, suckers!"

And I've reached the stage where I find his rhetoric laughable and his silence a sad confirmation of business as usual.

Peter Lemkin
11-15-2008, 04:08 PM
It would be nice to think that the public ill do something abut it Pete, but history ells us that they probably won't and if even they try, their efforts will be most probably be ignored.

I keep boring people with the same message: there is no democracy. It's a myth to keep you slumbering. The law is not fair or impartial. It is written to favour the wealthy and corporations so that they can pick your pockets and plunder our assets with impunity.

Only when enough people wake up to these hardball facts can any change even be possible and even then it would be a remarkable achievement as entrenched power would never give up without a fight -- and theyhold all the aces...

David, I don't want to get into a contest as to which of us here is the most cynical [as I may well win]. I disagree with nothing you said and reiterate your point that ONLY if people wake-up to the millenia-old control by the Elites nothing can be done. If they do - anything is possible. Otherwise, we might as well all commit suicide [or have another joint or scotch and laugh at it all awaiting the end with a whimper]. We must have just a modicum of hope against hope. I'm not of the optomistic persuasion, myself, but I do have that tiny sliver of hope - as I know what is possible IF ONLY the sleeping and hypnotized/propagandized masses would awake from their trance and slumber. Let us hope and let us endeavor [as I assume this Forum is for] to aid in that awakening - otherwise we are only documenting the end of humanity and life at the hands of greed and avarice on the part of the upper-upper-class. F**k 'em.

Paul Rigby
11-15-2008, 04:56 PM
It would be nice to think that the public ill do something abut it Pete, but history ells us that they probably won't and if even they try, their efforts will be most probably be ignored.

I keep boring people with the same message: there is no democracy. It's a myth to keep you slumbering. The law is not fair or impartial. It is written to favour the wealthy and corporations so that they can pick your pockets and plunder our assets with impunity.

Only when enough people wake up to these hardball facts can any change even be possible and even then it would be a remarkable achievement as entrenched power would never give up without a fight -- and theyhold all the aces...

Amen, Brother Guyatt!

David Guyatt
11-15-2008, 05:14 PM
David, I don't want to get into a contest as to which of us here is the most cynical [as I may well win]. I disagree with nothing you said and reiterate your point that ONLY if people wake-up to the millenia-old control by the Elites nothing can be done. If they do - anything is possible. Otherwise, we might as well all commit suicide [or have another joint or scotch and laugh at it all awaiting the end with a whimper]. We must have just a modicum of hope against hope. I'm not of the optomistic persuasion, myself, but I do have that tiny sliver of hope - as I know what is possible IF ONLY the sleeping and hypnotized/propagandized masses would awake from their trance and slumber. Let us hope and let us endeavor [as I assume this Forum is for] to aid in that awakening - otherwise we are only documenting the end of humanity and life at the hands of greed and avarice on the part of the upper-upper-class. F**k 'em.

Cynical? Moi? Vouz?

But we are agreed. We only can hope that something remarkable will happen to surprise us all. My point though - miracles aide - is that it will either be through a major calamity or via the spilling of blood ---- as entrenched power is not going to be relinquished without a fight.

But you're entirely right in saying that the underlying motive of this forum is to spread the word about the reality in which we live - rather than the myth stuffed down our craws everyday of our lives by the puppets of the mainstream media.

Paul Rigby
11-15-2008, 08:24 PM
And I've reached the stage where I find his rhetoric laughable and his silence a sad confirmation of business as usual.

The question then arises - what is to be done? Well, one useful place to begin is at the inauguration. A very large, very silent protest: let the banners do the talking. And after?

David Guyatt
11-16-2008, 10:20 AM
The question then arises - what is to be done? Well, one useful place to begin is at the inauguration. A very large, very silent protest: let the banners do the talking. And after?

And after the bannerfest at said inauguration dear boy, Obama and his team will go back to the White House, pour themselves a large bourbon, sip it, smile, and then go about doing what they've been hired to do.

None of which has anything whatsoever to do with what the US voter wants him to do or voted him into power to do.

The entire election process in the US is a serial Circus Maximus with sly clowns predominating.

But on a more humourous serious note, I watched Robin Williams in concert last night. He sounded like an Omaba groupie with Obama this and Obama that and Obama everything - ending with a gag about Obama having Kennedy blood.

Don't these showbiz guys ever get embarrassed hiking up their petticoats to give their favourite politicians a quick glimpse?

Damn! There's my cynical slip showing again...

Dawn Meredith
11-16-2008, 11:34 AM
And after the bannerfest at said inauguration dear boy, Obama and his team will go back to the White House, pour themselves a large bourbon, sip it, smile, and then go about doing what they've been hired to do.

None of which has anything whatsoever to do with what the US voter wants him to do or voted him into power to do.

The entire election process in the US is a serial Circus Maximus with sly clowns predominating.

But on a more humourous serious note, I watched Robin Williams in concert last night. He sounded like an Omaba groupie with Obama this and Obama that and Obama everything - ending with a gag about Obama having Kennedy blood.

Don't these showbiz guys ever get embarrassed hiking up their petticoats to give their favourite politicians a quick glimpse?

Damn! There's my cynical slip showing again...

Dave: It's just that Americans so want to believe our pols can and will make a difference. We all fall for it, even those of us who are aware of the powers that be. And I think some come to the office with every good intention. Jimmie Carter, Bill CLinton ( well then there's Mena...) and certainly Obama. So I am keeping an open mind. While cynical. Only I call it informed.
Dawn

Paul Rigby
11-16-2008, 08:53 PM
And after the bannerfest at said inauguration dear boy, Obama and his team will go back to the White House, pour themselves a large bourbon, sip it, smile, and then go about doing what they've been hired to do.

Bourbon? For Clinton retreads? Nah.

You're quite right about the certain indifference of the "new" masters of the (shrinking) universe, but they're not the target audience: We need an early dramatisation of the forthcoming betrayal for the benefit of the poor sods who put their trust in Wall St.'s Team B.

Then there needs to be some new thinking and genuine creativity. The challenge is considerable - how to create, or merely simulate, in the absence of any kind of "left" in America, a bloc that will act as some kind of counterweight to the corporate gangsters.

The answer has to lie in a combination of the wallet and US international credibility as a democracy. Suggestions solicited.

As are cheques, but no balances.

Paul

Paul Rigby
11-20-2008, 07:09 PM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10948

Obama's Intelligence Agenda: More of the Same from the "Change Administration"

By Tom Burghardt

Global Research, November 14, 2008

http://www.chris-floyd.com/

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Plus ça change: "Progressive" Leaders Ride War Machine Deeper Into Darkness

by Chris Floyd


Armed with the same invincible ignorance and arrogance that have for generations led their imperial forbears to bitter defeat in Afghanistan, Barack Obama and Gordon Brown have both pledged themselves to a substantial escalation of the Anglo-American adventure in Central Asia. Thus these two self-proclaimed "progressive" champions of benevolent change are guaranteeing more of the same bitter fruit already produced by this misbegotten enterprise: more death, more ruin, more suffering, more corruption – and more violent extremism.

The latter, of course, is where we came in, with the Carter-Reagan marshalling of extremist jihadis -- known as "freedom fighters" in those days of yore -- to hotfoot the Soviets and their secular Afghan clients. Indeed, the entire arc of America's bipartisan policies in the region over the past 40 years can be seen as the elaborate construction of a gargantuan, self-propelled blowback machine, producing an endless effluent of violence, threat, chaos and crime that is now sluicing through the entire world. But blowback, as we all know, is not a design flaw of imperial policy, at least not for the most part; it is a design feature. No War Machine without perpetual war and rumors of war; no war profits – and no war powers – without the War Machine.

So perhaps we do wrong to criticize Obama and Brown, on policy grounds, for their intention to kill more civilians and kindle more hatred and sorrow in Afghanistan. After all, we are told over and over how very intelligent these two leaders are, how well-read, how penetrating, far-seeing and deep-delving they are, especially in comparison to their fatuous predecessors. The glaringly obvious folly – in human terms, and on the moral plane – of escalating the war in Afghanistan, and possibly expanding it into Pakistan, cannot have escaped such perceptive men. Therefore, we can only conclude that their policies, like those of their predecessors, are based on altogether different considerations, ones in which the lives of the Afghan people, and the genuine security of their own people, are of little concern.

For this is the hard truth – the blood-and-iron truth – that our age has taught us so well: war is always a win-win proposition for the corporate-militarist state that has devoured the American Republic. Even if the particular conflict itself ends badly or inconclusively, it always engenders vast profits and increased power and privilege for the corporate-militarist elite -- and the temporary managers they graciously allow the American people to "choose" from a rigorously sifted, highly circumscribed menu of "viable" candidates. So it doesn't matter if this war or that war is "ill-conceived" or "badly managed" or a "serious mistake" or "the wrong war at the wrong time," or if its public justifications are based on lies or ignorance or arrogance, or if it bankrupts the treasury, beggars the citizenry, and destabilizes the world. The small, golden, coddled circle still reaps dividends of profit and dominance.

Naturally, this kind of thing can't go on forever; history is replete with examples of imperial elites who eventually bled their nations dry and saw them fall into ruin or curdle into a fearful insignificance. But I think that those who believe – either hopefully or in despair – that the American empire will shrivel away anytime soon are badly mistaken. The war machine and the security apparatus are not shrinking; they are growing by leaps and bounds, and Obama has promised to make them even larger. The economic disaster doesn't threaten the position of the imperial elites at all. On the contrary, as we have seen in the last few weeks, the Obama-backed "bailout" plan has enriched the already rich and powerful to a staggering degree. As CNBC reports, the government has spent more on saving the rich from the consequences of their greed than it spent in winning World War II: more than $4 trillion so far, with much more to come. This astonishing theft – the largest gobbling of public loot by a rapacious elite in the history of the world – will only further cement the powerful in their entrenchments on the commanding heights of society. The nation may rot beneath them, may be roiled by storms of blowback; but that is not their concern, it is no defeat for them. You can lose; they do not.

This is not to say that our elites don't tell themselves any number of flattering, self-justifying fairy tales about the boundless nobility and righteousness of their intentions. They can do this because they identify the interests of the system of elite rule (and the comfort, power and privilege they personally receive from the system) with the common good of the nation, or the world, as a whole. This allows them to pursue truly monstrous policies without regarding themselves as monsters. This allows them to order actions, such as the escalation of the destructive, destablizing conflict in Afghanistan, which they know, with absolute certainty, will needlessly murder innocent women, children and men -- and still talk earnestly and sincerely about their hopes for peace, their concern for humanity, their deep, abiding faith in a loving God. But again, as we have said over and over here, what matters are not the rhetorical justifications of power or the stated intentions of power -- or the charisma, likeability or compelling story of the wielders of power; what matters are the operations of power, its actual effects on the human beings on the receiving end of its machinations. Like love, power is what it does, not what it says.

Any discourse that omits this perspective seems to me to be lacking in rigor and realism, and leaves one highly vulnerable to delusion and manipulation -- and complicity in evil.

Peter Lemkin
11-20-2008, 07:24 PM
Good overview on the incoming Administration, as it now stands...and may well fall....
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/20/agents_of_change_or_hawks_clintonites

Myra Bronstein
11-21-2008, 04:24 AM
Dave: It's just that Americans so want to believe our pols can and will make a difference. We all fall for it, even those of us who are aware of the powers that be. And I think some come to the office with every good intention. Jimmie Carter, Bill CLinton ( well then there's Mena...) and certainly Obama. So I am keeping an open mind. While cynical. Only I call it informed.
Dawn

I think that's really the bottom line--exactly what Dawn says. From what I've seen many Americans decide what to believe based how how the information makes them feel. If it makes them feel bad they tend to recoil from the truth. The 'big bad' is too awful to let in.

Other Americans manage to open their minds to horrible truths even though it's traumatizing. I think they're in the minority.

Is that peculiar to Americans, or is it typical of people everywhere?
I wonder if other nationalities use this emotional filter to the extent that Americans do.

Myra Bronstein
11-21-2008, 04:25 AM
...

As are cheques, but no balances.

Paul

Nicely said Paul.

Peter Lemkin
11-21-2008, 07:01 AM
I think that's really the bottom line--exactly what Dawn says. From what I've seen many Americans decide what to believe based how how the information makes them feel. If it makes them feel bad they tend to recoil from the truth. The 'big bad' is too awful to let in.

Other Americans manage to open their minds to horrible truths even though it's traumatizing. I think they're in the minority.

Is that peculiar to Americans, or is it typical of people everywhere?
I wonder if other nationalities use this emotional filter to the extent that Americans do.

Denial is 'where its at' - just too scary for most to contemplate and doesn't fit the mythology about America they've all been immersed in. I've lived in a few countries and have found others that share this trait to some extent [I lived in Sweden for a while and most there couldn't handle entertaining any 'real' conspiracy in the Palme assassination]; that being said, I think Americans have especially strong rose-colored glasses. Germans, Russians, Czechs and many others I've met in their own countries have NO illusions as to how evil and far from the 'official version' true history can be. Americans want to be naive, are naive and have been propaganzied to be naive [in general]. Yes, some significant minority can see 'behind the curtain' and through the MSM/Mythological fog - and it isn't pretty. Deep Political viewing is a very painful place - but once you 'see' there is no way back to the fairy tale. No wonder depression and cynicism is endemic in our minority community.

Paul Rigby
11-21-2008, 07:44 PM
Good overview on the incoming Administration, as it now stands...and may well fall....
http://www.democracynow.org/2008/11/20/agents_of_change_or_hawks_clintonites

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11056

Obama’s transition: A who’s who of imperialist policy

by Alex Lantier

Global Research, November 19, 2008
wsws.org


The contradiction between the aspirations and hopes of millions of Americans who voted to repudiate the Bush administration's policies of war and social reaction and the class character of the incoming Obama administration has become increasingly clear over the two weeks since Election Day.

The filling out of Obama's transition team with a cast of financiers, lobbyists and defense operatives gives tangible evidence of what is being prepared. The makeup of the team, which Obama has said is working to make "as seamless a transition on national security as possible," shows that his administration will consist of proven veterans of the Washington establishment who are deemed more competent, but no less ruthless, than the Bush administration in defending the interests of US imperialism.

Previous incoming administrations made concessions to public sentiment, appointing figures with popular appeal to second-tier posts. In 1977, President Jimmy Carter, whose administration marked a significant rightward shift by the Democratic Party, nevertheless named one-time civil rights activist Andrew Young as US ambassador to the United Nations—a post from which Young was fired after meeting with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Relying on the overwhelming hatred of American people for the despised Bush administration and his status as the first African-American president, Obama does not feel the need to make such an appeal. Indeed, he has gone out of his way to solidarize himself with right-wing politicians. On Monday, Obama met in Chicago with John McCain, his Republican opponent in the election. In an interview the previous evening on the "60 Minutes" television program, he affirmed his decision to appoint Republicans to his cabinet, and his advisors have widely floated the possibility of his retaining Robert Gates as secretary of defense.

Obama's transition team is of a piece with these maneuvers. It is co-chaired by Valerie Jarrett, a Chicago real estate magnate and confidante of Obama, and John Podesta, former chief-of-staff for President Bill Clinton and head of the Podesta Group, a Washington lobbying firm. The transition team employs 450 people and has a budget of $12 million. It includes several "review teams" to prepare recommendations for the incoming administration's nominations and policy.

The co-chairs of the US Treasury review team are Josh Gotbaum, an investment banker at Lazare Frères who served in numerous positions during the Clinton administration, and Michael Warren, chief operating officer of Washington lobbying firm Stonebridge International LLC.

The co-chairs of the State Department review team are both former Clinton administration State Department officials. Tom Donilon is a former top lobbyist for US mortgage giant Fannie Mae, recently bailed out with US taxpayer funds, and now a partner at law firm O'Melveny and Myers. He is a member of several influential foreign policy think tanks. Wendy Sherman is a top employee at the Albright Group, an international lobbying firm founded by Clinton administration Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

The co-chairs of the Department of Defense review team are John White, who served as deputy secretary of Defense in the Clinton administration and recently headed the Kennedy School's Middle East Initiative at Harvard University, and Michèle A. Flournoy, deputy assistant secretary of defense in the Clinton administration and president of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS) think tank.

Members of CNAS, a rather small Washington think tank with a staff of 30 employees founded in 2003 by Podesta and Flournoy, play an outsized role in the Obama transition team. Obama advisors told the Wall Street Journal that Flournoy might become the first female US defense secretary. Wendy Sherman, who serves on the CNAS board of advisors, is expected to receive a top State Department job. Two CNAS advisors, Susan Rice and James Steinberg, are reportedly on Obama's short list for national security advisor.

So many CNAS members are likely to join the Obama administration that CNAS officials told the Journal they were concerned the think tank might fold after Obama's inauguration. However, they added, they hope to recruit Bush administration officials leaving office to fill the CNAS vacancies.

CNAS publications, many of which are publicly available on its web site, make it clear that the Obama administration's foreign policy will have a thoroughly imperialist character. A June 2008 CNAS report authored by Flournoy and other CNAS staff calls for a "conditional engagement" of US troops in Iraq and opposes a fixed timeline for a US withdrawal—a position now adopted by Obama. It advocates the large-scale deployment of US ground forces to Afghanistan and Pakistan to pursue an Iraq "surge"-style policy of buying off local military leaders and massacring those who resist.

The CNAS also favors a policy of using Japan and India to contain China in East and South Asia. On November 11, it published a report on US naval power, warning of a potential great power war in the Pacific Ocean and calling for the US Navy to stay ahead of the Chinese Navy. The New York Times' November 16 editorial, "A Military for a Dangerous New World," echoed these recommendations, warning against China "expanding its deep-water navy," saying the US cannot "cede the seas," and adding that it cannot "allow any country to interfere with vital maritime lanes."

Obama's consideration of Hillary Clinton for the position of secretary of state further underscores the falsity of his pose of opposition to the Bush administration's militarism. During the Democratic primary campaign, he attacked Clinton for having voted to allow Bush to attack Iraq, calling it a strategic blunder. He also denounced her for voting in favor of a Senate resolution branding the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. During the primary campaign, Clinton declared that the US would "obliterate" Iran if it attacked Israel. Now Obama is considering placing her at the head of US diplomacy.

These developments illuminate a fundamental political truth: Obama was the choice of a faction of the US political establishment that saw him as the ideal figurehead for the repackaging and recalibration of US imperialist policy.

Myra Bronstein
11-22-2008, 02:11 AM
David, I don't want to get into a contest as to which of us here is the most cynical [as I may well win]. I disagree with nothing you said and reiterate your point that ONLY if people wake-up to the millenia-old control by the Elites nothing can be done. If they do - anything is possible. Otherwise, we might as well all commit suicide [or have another joint or scotch and laugh at it all awaiting the end with a whimper]. We must have just a modicum of hope against hope. I'm not of the optomistic persuasion, myself, but I do have that tiny sliver of hope - as I know what is possible IF ONLY the sleeping and hypnotized/propagandized masses would awake from their trance and slumber. Let us hope and let us endeavor [as I assume this Forum is for] to aid in that awakening - otherwise we are only documenting the end of humanity and life at the hands of greed and avarice on the part of the upper-upper-class. F**k 'em.

Amen, Brother Lemkin!

Obviously things are grim, but as Lyle Lovett says:
"What would you be if you didn't even try?
You have to try."

So if we're not trying to make a difference then what are we doing here?
Just complaining about things?
I can't stand chronic complainers, personally.
There's nothing more tiresome.

Furthermore I don't want to justify the motto of lazy and selfish people everywhere that "One person can't make a difference." In addition to being lazy and selfish I think they're wrong.

Paul Rigby
11-22-2008, 08:58 PM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11056

Obama’s transition: A who’s who of imperialist policy

by Alex Lantier

Global Research, November 19, 2008
wsws.org

A short sketch of those most likely to comprise Obama's key "changelings." Most of the names will be deeply unfamiliar...

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11091

This is Change. 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House

by Jeremy Scahill

Global Research, November 22, 2008
Alternet.org - 2008-11-20


U.S. policy is not about one individual, and no matter how much faith people place in President-elect Barack Obama, the policies he enacts will be fruit of a tree with many roots. Among them: his personal politics and views, the disastrous realities his administration will inherit, and, of course, unpredictable future crises. But the best immediate indicator of what an Obama administration might look like can be found in the people he surrounds himself with and who he appoints to his Cabinet. And, frankly, when it comes to foreign policy, it is not looking good.

Obama has a momentous opportunity to do what he repeatedly promised over the course of his campaign: bring actual change. But the more we learn about who Obama is considering for top positions in his administration, the more his inner circle resembles a staff reunion of President Bill Clinton's White House. Although Obama brought some progressives on board early in his campaign, his foreign policy team is now dominated by the hawkish, old-guard Democrats of the 1990s. This has been particularly true since Hillary Clinton conceded defeat in the Democratic primary, freeing many of her top advisors to join Obama's team.

"What happened to all this talk about change?" a member of the Clinton foreign policy team recently asked the Washington Post. "This isn't lightly flavored with Clintons. This is all Clintons, all the time."

Amid the euphoria over Obama's election and the end of the Bush era, it is critical to recall what 1990s U.S. foreign policy actually looked like. Bill Clinton's boiled down to a one-two punch from the hidden hand of the free market, backed up by the iron fist of U.S. militarism. Clinton took office and almost immediately bombed Iraq (ostensibly in retaliation for an alleged plot by Saddam Hussein to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush). He presided over a ruthless regime of economic sanctions that killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, and under the guise of the so-called No-Fly Zones in northern and southern Iraq, authorized the longest sustained U.S. bombing campaign since Vietnam.

Under Clinton, Yugoslavia was bombed and dismantled as part of what Noam Chomsky described as the "New Military Humanism." Sudan and Afghanistan were attacked, Haiti was destabilized and "free trade" deals like the North America Free Trade Agreement and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade radically escalated the spread of corporate-dominated globalization that hurt U.S. workers and devastated developing countries. Clinton accelerated the militarization of the so-called War on Drugs in Central and Latin America and supported privatization of U.S. military operations, giving lucrative contracts to Halliburton and other war contractors. Meanwhile, U.S. weapons sales to countries like Turkey and Indonesia aided genocidal campaigns against the Kurds and the East Timorese.

The prospect of Obama's foreign policy being, at least in part, an extension of the Clinton Doctrine is real. Even more disturbing, several of the individuals at the center of Obama's transition and emerging foreign policy teams were top players in creating and implementing foreign policies that would pave the way for projects eventually carried out under the Bush/Cheney administration. With their assistance, Obama has already charted out several hawkish stances. Among them:

-- His plan to escalate the war in Afghanistan;

-- An Iraq plan that could turn into a downsized and rebranded occupation that keeps U.S. forces in Iraq for the foreseeable future;

-- His labeling of Iran's Revolutionary Guard as a "terrorist organization;"

-- His pledge to use unilateral force inside of Pakistan to defend U.S. interests;

-- His position, presented before the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), that Jerusalem "must remain undivided" -- a remark that infuriated Palestinian officials and which he later attempted to reframe;

-- His plan to continue the War on Drugs, a backdoor U.S. counterinsurgency campaign in Central and Latin America;

-- His refusal to "rule out" using Blackwater and other armed private forces in U.S. war zones, despite previously introducing legislation to regulate these companies and bring them under U.S. law.

Obama did not arrive at these positions in a vacuum. They were carefully crafted in consultation with his foreign policy team. While the verdict is still out on a few people, many members of his inner foreign policy circle -- including some who have received or are bound to receive Cabinet posts -- supported the invasion and occupation of Iraq. Some promoted the myth that Saddam had weapons of mass destruction. A few have worked with the neoconservative Project for the New American Century, whose radical agenda was adopted by the Bush/Cheney administration. And most have proven track records of supporting or implementing militaristic, offensive U.S. foreign policy. "After a masterful campaign, Barack Obama seems headed toward some fateful mistakes as he assembles his administration by heeding the advice of Washington's Democratic insider community, a collective group that represents little 'change you can believe in,'" notes veteran journalist Robert Parry, the former Associated Press and Newsweek reporter who broke many of the stories in the Iran-Contra scandal in the 1980s.

As news breaks and speculation abounds about cabinet appointments, here are 20 people to watch as Obama builds the team who will shape U.S. foreign policy for at least four years:

Joe Biden

There was no stronger sign that Obama's foreign policy would follow the hawkish tradition of the Democratic foreign policy establishment than his selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his running mate. Much has been written on Biden's tenure as head of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, but his role in the invasion and occupation of Iraq stands out. Biden is not just one more Democratic lawmaker who now calls his vote to authorize the use of force in Iraq "mistaken;" Biden was actually an important facilitator of the war.

In the summer of 2002, when the United States was "debating" a potential attack on Iraq, Biden presided over hearings whose ostensible purpose was to weigh all existing options. But instead of calling on experts whose testimony could challenge the case for war -- Iraq's alleged WMD possession and its supposed ties to al-Qaida -- Biden's hearings treated the invasion as a foregone conclusion. His refusal to call on two individuals in particular ensured that testimony that could have proven invaluable to an actual debate was never heard: Former Chief United Nations Weapons Inspector Scott Ritter and Hans von Sponeck, a 32-year veteran diplomat and the former head of the U.N.'s Iraq program.

Both men say they made it clear to Biden's office that they were ready and willing to testify; Ritter knew more about the dismantling of Iraq's WMD program than perhaps any other U.S. citizen and would have been in prime position to debunk the misinformation and outright lies being peddled by the White House. Meanwhile, von Sponeck had just returned from Iraq, where he had observed Ansar al Islam rebels in the north of Iraq -- the so-called al-Qaida connection -- and could have testified that, rather than colluding with Saddam's regime, they were in a battle against it. Moreover, he would have pointed out that they were operating in the U.S.-enforced safe haven of Iraqi Kurdistan. "Evidence of al-Qaida/lraq collaboration does not exist, neither in the training of operatives nor in support to Ansar-al-Islam," von Sponeck wrote in an Op-Ed published shortly before the July 2002 hearings. "The U.S. Department of Defense and the CIA know perfectly well that today's Iraq poses no threat to anyone in the region, let alone in the United States. To argue otherwise is dishonest."

With both men barred from testifying, rather than eliciting an array of informed opinions, Biden's committee whitewashed Bush's lies and helped lead the country to war. Biden himself promoted the administration's false claims that were used to justify the invasion of Iraq, declaring on the Senate floor, "[Saddam Hussein] possesses chemical and biological weapons and is seeking nuclear weapons."

With the war underway, Biden was then the genius who passionately promoted the ridiculous plan to partition Iraq into three areas based on religion and ethnicity, attempting to Balkanize one of the strongest Arab states in the world.

"He's a part of the old Democratic establishment," says retired Army Col. Ann Wright, the State Department diplomat who reopened the U.S. embassy in Kabul in 2002. Biden, she says, has "had a long history with foreign affairs, it's not the type of foreign affairs that I want."

[B]Rahm Emanuel

Obama's appointment of Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff is a clear sign that Clinton-era neoliberal hawks will be well-represented at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. A former senior Clinton advisor, Emanuel is a hard-line supporter of Israel's "targeted assassination" policy and actually volunteered to work with the Israeli Army during the 1991 Gulf War. He is close to the right-wing Democratic Leadership Council and was the only member of the Illinois Democratic delegation in the Congress to vote for the invasion of Iraq. Unlike many of his colleagues, Emanuel still defends his vote. As chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006, Emanuel promoted the campaigns of 22 candidates, only one of who supported a swift withdrawal from Iraq, and denied crucial Party funding to anti-war candidates. "As for Iraq policy, at the right time, we will have a position," he said in December 2005. As Philip Giraldi recently pointed out on Antiwar.com, Emanuel "advocates increasing the size of the U.S. Army by 100,000 soldiers and creating a domestic spying organization like Britain's MI5. More recently, he has supported mandatory paramilitary national service for all Americans between the ages of 18 and 25."

While Obama has at times been critical of Clinton-era free trade agreements, Emanuel was one of the key people in the Clinton White House who brokered the successful passage of NAFTA.

Hillary Rodham Clinton

For all the buzz and speculation about the possibility that Sen. Clinton may be named Secretary of State, most media coverage has focused on her rivalry with Obama during the primary, along with the prospect of her husband having to face the intense personal, financial and political vetting process required to secure a job in the new administration. But the question of how Clinton would lead the operations at Foggy Bottom calls for scrutiny of her positions vis-a-vis Obama's stated foreign-policy goals.

Clinton was an ardent defender of her husband's economic and military war against Iraq throughout the 1990s, including the Iraq Liberation Act of 1998, which ultimately laid the path for President George W. Bush's invasion. Later, as a U.S. senator, she not only voted to authorize the war, but aided the Bush administration's propaganda campaign in the lead-up to the invasion. "Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile-delivery capability and his nuclear program," Clinton said when rising to support the measure in October 2002. "He has also given aid, comfort and sanctuary to terrorists, including al-Qaida members Š I want to insure that Saddam Hussein makes no mistake about our national unity and for our support for the president's efforts to wage America's war against terrorists and weapons of mass destruction."

"The man who vowed to deliver us from 28 years of Bushes and Clintons has been stocking up on Clintonites," New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd recently wrote. "How, one may ask, can he put Hillary -- who voted to authorize the Iraq war without even reading the intelligence assessment -- in charge of patching up a foreign policy and a world riven by that war?"

Beyond Iraq, Clinton shocked many and sparked official protests by Tehran at the United Nations when asked during the presidential campaign what she would do as president if Iran attacked Israel with nuclear weapons. "I want the Iranians to know that if I'm the president, we will attack Iran," she declared. "In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them."

Clinton has not shied away from supporting offensive foreign policy tactics in the past. Recalling her husband's weighing the decision of whether to attack Yugoslavia, she said in 1999, "I urged him to bomb. Š You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?"

Madeleine Albright

While Obama's house is flush with Clintonian officials like former Secretary of State Warren Christopher, Defense Secretary William Perry, Director of the State Department Office of Policy Planning Greg Craig (who was officially named Obama's White House Counsel) and Navy Secretary Richard Danzig, perhaps most influential is Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton's former Secretary of State and U.N. ambassador. Albright recently served as a proxy for Obama, representing him at the G-20 summit earlier this month. Whether or not she is awarded an official role in the administration, Albright will be a major force in shaping Obama's foreign policy.

"It will take time to convince skeptics that the promotion of democracy is not a mask for imperialism or a recipe for the kind of chaos we have seen in the Persian Gulf," Albright recently wrote. "And it will take time to establish the right identity for America in a world that has grown suspicious of all who claim a monopoly on virtue and that has become reluctant to follow the lead of any one country."

Albright should know. She was one of the key architects in the dismantling of Yugoslavia during the 1990s. In the lead-up to the 1999 "Kosovo war," she oversaw the U.S. attempt to coerce the Yugoslav government to deny its own sovereignty in return for not being bombed. Albright demanded that the Yugoslav government sign a document that would have been unacceptable to any sovereign nation. Known as the Rambouillet Accord, it included a provision that would have guaranteed U.S. and NATO forces "free and unrestricted passage and unimpeded access throughout" all of Yugoslavia -- not just Kosovo -- while also seeking to immunize those occupation forces "from any form of arrest, investigation or detention by the authorities in [Yugoslavia]." Moreover, it would have granted the occupiers "the use of airports, roads, rails and ports without payment." Similar to Bush's Iraq plan years later, the Rambouillet Accord mandated that the economy of Kosovo "shall function in accordance with free-market principles."

When Yugoslavia refused to sign the document, Albright and others in the Clinton administration unleashed the 78-day NATO bombing of Serbia, which targeted civilian infrastructure. (Prior to the attack, Albright said the U.S. government felt "the Serbs need a little bombing.") She and the Clinton administration also supported the rise to power in Kosovo of a terrorist mafia that carried out its own ethnic-cleansing campaign against the province's minorities.

Perhaps Albright's most notorious moment came with her enthusiastic support of the economic war against the civilian population of Iraq. When confronted by Lesley Stahl of "60 Minutes" that the sanctions were responsible for the deaths of "a half-million children Š more children than died in Hiroshima," Albright responded, "I think this is a very hard choice, but the price -- we think the price is worth it." (While defending the policy, Albright later called her choice of words "a terrible mistake, hasty, clumsy, and wrong.")

Richard Holbrooke

Like Albright, Holbrooke will have major sway over U.S. policy, whether or not he gets an official job. A career diplomat since the Vietnam War, Holbrooke's most recent government post was as President Clinton's ambassador to the U.N. Among the many violent policies he helped implement and enforce was the U.S.-backed Indonesian genocide in East Timor. Holbrooke was an Assistant Secretary of State in the late 1970s at the height of the slaughter and was the point man on East Timor for the Carter Administration.

According to Brad Simpson, director of the Indonesia and East Timor Documentation Project at the National Security Archive at George Washington University, "It was Holbrooke and Zbigniew Brzezinski [another top Obama advisor], both now leading lights in the Democratic Party, who played point in trying to frustrate the efforts of congressional human-rights activists to try and condition or stop U.S. military assistance to Indonesia, and in fact accelerated the flow of weapons to Indonesia at the height of the genocide."

Holbrooke, too, was a major player in the dismantling of Yugoslavia and praised the bombing of Serb Television, which killed 16 media workers, as a significant victory. (The man who ordered that bombing, now-retired Army Gen. Wesley Clark, is another Obama foreign policy insider who could end up in his cabinet. While Clark is known for being relatively progressive on social issues, as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO, he ordered bombings and attacks that Amnesty International labeled war crimes.)

Like many in Obama's foreign policy circle, Holbrooke also supported the Iraq war. In early 2003, shortly after then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the UN, where he presented the administration's fraud-laden case for war to the UN (a speech Powell has since called a "blot" on his reputation), Holbrooke said: "It was a masterful job of diplomacy by Colin Powell and his colleagues, and it does not require a second vote to go to war. Š Saddam is the most dangerous government leader in the world today, he poses a threat to the region, he could pose a larger threat if he got weapons of mass destruction deployed, and we have a legitimate right to take action."

Dennis Ross

Middle East envoy for both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Ross was one of the primary authors of Obama's aforementioned speech before AIPAC this summer. He cut his teeth working under famed neoconservative Paul Wolfowitz at the Pentagon in the 1970s and worked closely with the Project for the New American Century. Ross has been a staunch supporter of Israel and has fanned the flames for a more hostile stance toward Iran. As the lead U.S. negotiator between Israel and numerous Arab nations under Clinton, Ross' team acted, in the words of one U.S. official who worked under him, as "Israel's lawyer."

"The 'no surprises' policy, under which we had to run everything by Israel first, stripped our policy of the independence and flexibility required for serious peacemaking," wrote U.S. diplomat Aaron David Miller in 2005. "If we couldn't put proposals on the table without checking with the Israelis first, and refused to push back when they said no, how effective could our mediation be? Far too often, particularly when it came to Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy, our departure point was not what was needed to reach an agreement acceptable to both sides but what would pass with only one -- Israel." After the Clinton White House, Ross worked for the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a hawkish pro-Israel think tank, and for FOX News, where he repeatedly pressed for war against Iraq.

Martin Indyk

Founder of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Indyk spent years working for AIPAC and served as Clinton's ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs, while also playing a major role in developing U.S. policy toward Iraq and Iran. In addition to his work for the U.S. government, he has worked for the Israeli government and with PNAC.

"Barack Obama has painted himself into a corner by appealing to the most hard-line, pro-Israel elements in this country," Ali Abunimah, founder of ElectronicInifada.net, recently told Amy Goodman of Democracy Now!, describing Indyk and Dennis Ross as "two of the most pro-Israel officials from the Clinton era, who are totally distrusted by Palestinians and others across the Middle East, because they're seen as lifelong advocates for Israeli positions."

Anthony Lake

Clinton's former National Security Advisor was an early supporter of Obama and one of the few top Clintonites to initially back the president-elect. Lake began his foreign policy work in the U.S. Foreign Service during Vietnam, working with Henry Kissinger on the "September Group," a secret team tasked with developing a military strategy to deliver a "savage, decisive blow against North Vietnam."

Decades later, after working for various administrations, Lake "was the main force behind the U.S. invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton years," according to veteran journalist Allan Nairn, whose groundbreaking reporting revealed U.S. support for Haitian death squads in the 1990s. "They brought back Aristide essentially in political chains, pledged to support a World Bank/IMF overhaul of the economy, which resulted in an increase in malnutrition deaths among Haitians, and set the stage for the current ongoing political disaster in Haiti." Clinton nominated Lake as CIA Director, but he failed to win Senate confirmation.

Lee Hamilton

Hamilton is a former chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and was co-chairman of both the Iraq Study Group and 9/11 Commission. Robert Parry, who has covered Hamilton's career extensively, recently ran a piece on Consortium News that characterized him this way: "Whenever the Republicans have a touchy national-security scandal to put to rest, their favorite Democratic investigator is Lee Hamilton. Š Hamilton's carefully honed skill for balancing truth against political comity has elevated him to the status of a Washington Wise Man."

Susan Rice

Former Assistant Secretary of Sate Susan Rice, who served on Bill Clinton's National Security Council, is a potential candidate for the post of ambassador to the U.N. or as a deputy national security advisor. She, too, promoted the myth that Saddam had WMDs. "It's clear that Iraq poses a major threat," she said in 2002. "It's clear that its weapons of mass destruction need to be dealt with forcefully, and that's the path we're on." (After the invasion, discussing Saddam's alleged possession of WMDs, she said, "I don't think many informed people doubted that.")

Rice has also been a passionate advocate for a U.S. military attack against Sudan over the Darfur crisis. In an op-ed co-authored with Anthony Lake, she wrote, "The United States, preferably with NATO involvement and African political support, would strike Sudanese airfields, aircraft and other military assets. It could blockade Port Sudan, through which Sudan's oil exports flow. Then U.N. troops would deploy -- by force, if necessary, with U.S. and NATO backing."

John Brennan

A longtime CIA official and former head of the National Counterterrorism Center, Brennan is one of the coordinators of Obama's intelligence transition team and a top contender for either CIA Director or Director of National Intelligence. He was also recently described by Glenn Greenwald as "an ardent supporter of torture and one of the most emphatic advocates of FISA expansions and telecom immunity." While claiming to oppose waterboarding, labeling it "inconsistent with American values" and "something that should be prohibited," Brennan has simultaneously praised the results achieved by "enhanced interrogation" techniques. "There has been a lot of information that has come out from these interrogation procedures that the agency has, in fact, used against the real hard-core terrorists," Brennan said in a 2007 interview. "It has saved lives. And let's not forget, these are hardened terrorists who have been responsible for 9/11, who have shown no remorse at all for the death of 3,000 innocents."

Brennan has described the CIA's extraordinary rendition program -- the government-run kidnap-and-torture program enacted under Clinton -- as an absolutely vital tool. "I have been intimately familiar now over the past decade with the cases of rendition that the U.S. Government has been involved in," he said in a December 2005 interview. "And I can say without a doubt that it has been very successful as far as producing intelligence that has saved lives."

Brennan is currently the head of Analysis Corporation, a private intelligence company that was recently implicated in the breach of Obama and Sen. John McCain's passport records. He is also the current chairman of the Intelligence and National Security Alliance (INSA), a trade association of private intelligence contractors who have dramatically increased their role in sensitive U.S. national security operations. (Current Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell is former chairman of the INSA.)

Jami Miscik

Miscik, who works alongside Brennan on Obama's transitional team, was the CIA's Deputy Director for Intelligence in the run-up to the Iraq war. She was one of the key officials responsible for sidelining intel that contradicted the official line on WMD, while promoting intel that backed it up.

"When the administration insisted on an intelligence assessment of Saddam Hussein's relationship to al-Qaida, Miscik blocked the skeptics (who were later vindicated) within the CIA's Mideast analytical directorate and instructed the less-skeptical counterterrorism analysts to 'stretch to the maximum the evidence you had,' " journalist Spencer Ackerman recently wrote in the Washington Independent. "It's hard to think of a more egregious case of sacrificing sound intelligence analysis in order to accommodate the strategic fantasies of an administration. Š The idea that Miscik is helping staff Obama's top intelligence picks is most certainly not change we can believe in." What's more, she went on to a lucrative post as the Global Head of Sovereign Risk for the now-bankrupt Lehman Brothers.

John Kerry and Bill Richardson

Both Sen. Kerry and Gov. Richardson have been identified as possible contenders for Secretary of State. While neither is likely to be as hawkish as Hillary Clinton, both have taken pro-war positions. Kerry promoted the WMD lie and voted to invade Iraq. "Why is Saddam Hussein attempting to develop nuclear weapons when most nations don't even try?" Kerry asked on the Senate floor in October 2002. "According to intelligence, Iraq has chemical and biological weapons Š Iraq is developing unmanned aerial vehicles capable of delivering chemical and biological warfare agents."

Richardson, whose Iraq plan during his 2008 presidential campaign was more progressive and far-reaching than Obama's, served as Bill Clinton's ambassador to the UN. In this capacity, he supported Clinton's December 1998 bombing of Baghdad and the U.S.-led sanctions against Iraq. "We think this man is a threat to the international community, and he threatens a lot of the neighbors in his region and future generations there with anthrax and VX," Richardson told an interviewer in February 1998.

While Clinton's Secretary of Energy, Richardson publicly named Wen Ho Lee, a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, as a target in an espionage investigation. Lee was accused of passing nuclear secrets to the Chinese government. Lee was later cleared of those charges and won a settlement against the U.S. government.

Robert Gates

Washington consensus is that Obama will likely keep Robert Gates, George W. Bush's Defense Secretary, as his own Secretary of Defense. While Gates has occasionally proved to be a stark contrast to former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, he would hardly represent a break from the policies of the Bush administration. Quite the opposite; according to the Washington Post, in the interest of a "smooth transition," Gates "has ordered hundreds of political appointees at the Pentagon canvassed to see whether they wish to stay on in the new administration, has streamlined policy briefings and has set up suites for President-elect Barack Obama's transition team just down the hall from his own E-ring office." The Post reports that Gates could stay on for a brief period and then be replaced by Richard Danzig, who was Clinton's Secretary of the Navy. Other names currently being tossed around are Democratic Sen. Jack Reed, Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel (a critic of the Iraq occupation) and Republican Sen. Richard Lugar, who served alongside Biden on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Ivo H. Daalder

Daalder was National Security Council Director for European Affairs under President Clinton. Like other Obama advisors, he has worked with the Project for the New American Century and signed a 2005 letter from PNAC to Congressional leaders, calling for an increase in U.S. ground troops in Iraq and beyond.

Sarah Sewall

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Assistance during the Clinton administration, Sewall served as a top advisor to Obama during the campaign and is almost certain to be selected for a post in his administration. In 2007, Sewall worked with the U.S. military and Army Gen. David Petraeus, writing the introduction to the University of Chicago edition of the Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. She was criticized for this collaboration by Tom Hayden, who wrote, "the Petraeus plan draws intellectual legitimacy from Harvard's Carr Center for Human Rights Policy, whose director, Sarah Sewall, proudly embraces an 'unprecedented collaboration [as] a human rights center partnered with the armed forces.'"

"Humanitarians often avoid wading into the conduct of war for fear of becoming complicit in its purpose," she wrote in the introduction. "'The field manual requires engagement precisely from those who fear that its words lack meaning."

Michele Flournoy

Flournoy and former Clinton Deputy Defense Secretary John White are co-heading Obama's defense transition team. Flournoy was a senior Clinton appointee at the Pentagon. She currently runs the Center for a New American Security, a center-right think-tank. There is speculation that Obama could eventually name her as the first woman to serve as defense secretary. As the Wall Street Journal recently reported: "While at CNAS, Flournoy helped to write a report that called for reducing the open-ended American military commitment in Iraq and replacing it with a policy of 'conditional engagement' there. Significantly, the paper rejected the idea of withdrawing troops according to the sort of a fixed timeline that Obama espoused during the presidential campaign. Obama has in recent weeks signaled that he was willing to shelve the idea, bringing him more in line with Flournoy's thinking." Flournoy has also worked with the neoconservative Project for the New American Century.

Wendy Sherman and Tom Donilon

Currently employed at Madeleine Albright's consulting firm, the Albright Group, Sherman worked under Albright at the State Department, coordinating U.S. policy on North Korea. She is now coordinating the State Department transition team for Obama. Tom Donilon, her co-coordinator, was Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs and Chief of Staff at the State Department under Clinton. Interestingly, Sherman and Donilon both have ties to Fannie Mae that didn't make it onto their official bios on Obama's change.gov website. "Donilon was Fannie's general counsel and executive vice president for law and policy from 1999 until the spring of 2005, a period during which the company was rocked by accounting problems," reports the Wall Street Journal.

Denis McDonough and Mark Lippert

While many of the figures at the center of Obama's foreign policy team are well-known, two of its most important members have never held national elected office or a high-profile government position. While they cannot be characterized as Clinton-era hawks, it will be important to watch Denis McDonough and Mark Lippert, co-coordinators of the Obama foreign policy team. From 2000 to 2005, McDonough served as foreign policy advisor to Senate Democratic Leader Tom Daschle and worked extensively on the use-of-force authorizations for the attacks on Afghanistan and Iraq, both of which Daschle supported. From 1996 to 1999, McDonough was a professional staff member of the House International Relations Committee during the debate over the bombing of Yugoslavia. More recently, he was at the Center for American Progress working under John Podesta, Clinton's former chief of staff and the current head of the Obama transition.

Mark Lippert is a close personal friend of Obama's. He has worked for Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, as well as the Senate Appropriations Committee and the Democratic Policy Committee. He is a lieutenant in the Navy Reserve and spent a year in Iraq working intelligence for the Navy SEALs. "According to those who've worked closely with Lippert," Robert Dreyfuss recently wrote in The Nation, "he is a conservative, cautious centrist who often pulled Obama to the right on Iraq, Iran and the Middle East and who has been a consistent advocate for increased military spending. 'Even before Obama announced for the presidency, Lippert wanted Obama to be seen as tough on Iran,' says a lobbyist who's worked the Iran issue on Capitol Hill, 'He's clearly more hawkish than the senator.' "

Barack Obama campaigned on a pledge to bring change to Washington

"I don't want to just end the war," he said early this year. "I want to end the mindset that got us into war." That is going to be very difficult if Obama employs a foreign policy team that was central to creating that mindset, before and during the presidency of George W. Bush.

"Twenty-three senators and 133 House members who voted against the war -- and countless other notable individuals who spoke out against it and the dubious claims leading to war -- are apparently not even being considered for these crucial positions," observes Sam Husseini of the Institute for Public Accuracy. This includes dozens of former military and intelligence officials who spoke out forcefully against the war and continue to oppose militaristic policy, as well as credible national security experts who have articulated their visions for a foreign policy based on justice.

Obama does have a chance to change the mindset that got us into war. More significantly, he has a popular mandate to forcefully challenge the militaristic, hawkish tradition of modern U.S. foreign policy. But that work would begin by bringing on board people who would challenge this tradition, not those who have been complicit in creating it and are bound to continue advancing it.

...to those who were in cryogenic suspension during those boom years for decent government under Slick Willie.


Jeremy Scahill pledges to be the same journalist under an Obama administration that he was during Bill Clinton and George Bush's presidencies. He is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army and is a frequent contributor to The Nation and Democracy Now! He is a Puffin Foundation Writing Fellow at the Nation Institute.

Peter Lemkin
11-22-2008, 09:26 PM
A short sketch of those most likely to comprise Obama's key "changelings." Most of the names will be deeply unfamiliar...

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11091

This is Change. 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House

by Jeremy Scahill

Global Research, November 22, 2008
Alternet.org - 2008-11-20
...to those who were in cryogenic suspension during those boom years for decent government under Slick Willie.

Sad, but true. Good piece by Scahill. The Clinton Admin was bad. Bush was, yes, worse - so looks like we're headed back to.... bad. Great latitude we are 'allowed'. :mad: Nothing was ever given by the Elites - not the 40 hr week; not unions; not minimum wage; not the end to slavery; not the vote for women - and on and on - every one of those and more were hard fought for. If we expect more we have to fight and push more - get out in the street more and make more noise by a variety of means and constantly. We're saddled with a horrible system that, naively, most believe is the best of all possible worlds - ha! Did Clinton or Carter come clean on Dallas - or any other Deep Political stuff? Did they end pre-emptive wars and covert operations? Did they defang the MIC or let the average person make a decent wage and living - even [perish the thought] have National Health Care? Nix - they let things just go on as they have been going on - holding the place for the even meaner Repugnicrats - that's the game - two rigged teams and no one else is allowed to play. I say we pelt the 'field' with so much **** they have to pay attention and can't play their game anymore. It is just the Yankees and the Cowboys. We want and need neither. WE are the sovereign - if only we'd begin to act like it. Yes, the Elites manipulate and propagandize the average person - but the average person all too oftne lets them - even in some ways welcomes the warm and fuzzy mythology and lies - knowing [minus the details] they are likely just that - lies. it is hard to get up in the morning and feel good about humanity, generally. But those of us who know which side the bread is buttered on [neither side] really have to engage this battle. Time is running out on the Planet. I say that as an Environmental Scientist and as an observer of the growing power of the Deep Political structures. New Game or End Game. Choose one.

Paul Rigby
12-01-2008, 09:03 PM
A short sketch of those most likely to comprise Obama's key "changelings." Most of the names will be deeply unfamiliar...

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11091

This is Change. 20 Hawks, Clintonites and Neocons to Watch for in Obama's White House

by Jeremy Scahill

Global Research, November 22, 2008
Alternet.org - 2008-11-20

...to those who were in cryogenic suspension during those boom years for decent government under Slick Willie.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Keep the Change: The Empire Beat Goes On

Written by Chris Floyd


Here are a few short takes on an overwhelmed day. All of the pieces below deserve much more attention -- especially the first one -- but these brief mentions will have to do for the moment.

Arthur Silber is back, with a vengeance, laying bare the true cost of the "unity" which Barack Obama has brought to previously dissident quarters: Kiss, Kiss, Kill, Kill. To pluck just one gem from the piece, Silber reminds all those "realist progressives" who believe we should be "realistic" about the blatantly pro-fatcat, pro-empire Obama team because, realistically speaking, it's as good as we are going to get, of this truth:

"Two percent less shitty than Pure Evil" is still evil. Many people expend untold energy to avoid that very simple, indisputable fact.

It is, as usual, a must-read; so go read it. While you are there, drop some coinage in The Cyrano Fund, to help one of Arthur's beloved cats get some much-needed medical care.

In his piece, Silber also points to a post by Michael J. Smith which clearly outlines the dynamic of perpetual betrayal which drives the Democratic Party. Alluding to a decision by the New York state Democratic Party to renege on a pre-election promise to advance legislation that would treat people with same-sex partners as fully human beings, Smith notes:

Readers older than, oh, say, twelve, may have noticed a pattern with the Democrats. They campaign on some issue -- in the previous Most Important Elections Of Our Lifetime, the 2006 midterms, it was the Iraq war, for example. Then once safely in office, the find a reason why they can't actually do anything about the issue until they get something else on the next election cycle -- the White House, or the state senate, or a second term for the Governor (why? This one seems especially arbitrary).

Justin Raimondo takes up this same theme with this cold-eyed look at Obama's new "National Security" team: "The End of the Affair." And Matthew Rothschild is on the case as well, stating the obvious (always a novel approach in the fantasyland of our national discourse: "With Gates, Obama Opts for Empire." As Rothschild notes:

Let’s remember: Gates was head of the CIA during Bush I. As such, he was involved in the invasion of Panama, the funding of a genocidal regime in Guatemala, the support of Suharto’s brutal government in Indonesia, and the overthrow of Jean-Bertrand Aristide in Haiti.

With Bush I, he pushed the first war against Saddam Hussein, even when it seemed that Saddam was preparing to withdraw from Iraq. And now with Bush II, he’s been running the Iraq War, which Obama vowed to end.

And Gates has come out with modernizing our nuclear weapons arsenal—that means making new nukes—even though Obama talked about nuclear disarmament during the campaign...

Obama doesn’t really want a change in foreign and military policy. He said as much during the campaign when he praised Bush Sr. and said he wanted to return to the bipartisan consensus of the last forty years.

In those forty years, the United States waged war against Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. It helped overthrow the Allende government in Chile. It supported Suharto’s invasion of East Timor. It financed and trained death squads in Central America. And on and on.

With the Gates choice, Obama proves he’s not about ending the U.S. empire. He’s about running the U.S. empire—with less bravado than Bush-Cheney, but perhaps more efficiently. And he’s perfectly willing to use the old hands like Gates, bloody as they are, to get that job done.

This completely non-controversial, indisputable statement of plain facts should be running in every newspaper in the country -- in place of all the feel-good hogwash about "steady hands" and "serious pragmatists" and "continuity in wartime."

Speaking of wartime, and Obama's pledge to expand the Terror War front in Central Asia, Robert Fisk sees the writing on the wall in Afghanistan:

The collapse of Afghanistan is closer than the world believes. Kandahar is in Taliban hands – all but a square mile at the centre of the city – and the first Taliban checkpoints are scarcely 15 miles from Kabul. Hamid Karzai's deeply corrupted government is almost as powerless as the Iraqi cabinet in Baghdad's "Green Zone"; lorry drivers in the country now carry business permits issued by the Taliban which operate their own courts in remote areas of the country...

"Nobody I know wants to see the Taliban back in power," a Kabul business executive says – anonymity is now as much demanded as it was before 2001 – "but people hate the government and the parliament which doesn't care about their security. The government is useless. With so many internally displaced refugees pouring into Kabul from the countryside, there's mass unemployment – but of course, there are no statistics.

"The 'open market' led many of us into financial disaster. Afghanistan is just a battlefield of ideology, opium and political corruption. Now you've got all these commercial outfits receiving contracts from people like USAID. First they skim off 30 to 50 per cent for their own profits – then they contract out and sub-contract to other companies and there's only 10 per cent of the original amount left for the Afghans themselves."

...The Afghan Minister of Defence has 65,000 troops under his dubious command but says he needs 500,000 to control Afghanistan. The Soviets failed to contain the country even when they had 100,000 troops here with 150,000 Afghan soldiers in support. And as Barack Obama prepares to send another 7,000 US soldiers into the pit of Afghanistan, the Spanish and Italians are talking of leaving while the Norwegians may pull their 500 troops out of the area north of Heart. Repeatedly, Western leaders talk of the "key" – of training more and more Afghans to fight in the army. But that was the same "key" which the Russians tried – and it did not fit the lock.

But hey, if the Afghan adventure goes up in smoke, there is always another prime target for the Bush-Obama-Gates "War on Terror": the American people. As the Washington Post reports, with astonishing sang-froid, the Terror Warriors plan to deploy 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States, to "help" local authorities with "domestic emergencies." And as many others have noted earlier, the definition of a "domestic emergency" requiring the use of combat troops against the American people is entirely up to the discretion of our old friend, the Unitary Executive -- soon to be appearing in a brand-new sepia-toned edition, but still packing the same authoritarian punch we've come to know and love so well.

Now don't you feel safer already? Aren't you proud to be an American again? Isn't it great to see how things are changing?

Peter Lemkin
12-03-2008, 08:00 PM
The Anti-Empire Report

December 1st, 2008
by William Blum
www.killinghope.org
Vote First. Ask Questions Later.

Okay, let's get the obvious out of the way. It was historic. I choked up a number of times, tears came to my eyes, even though I didn't vote for him. I voted for Ralph Nader for the fourth time in a row.

During the past eight years when I've listened to news programs on the radio each day I've made sure to be within a few feet of the radio so I could quickly change the station when that preposterous man or one of his disciples came on; I'm not a masochist, I suffer fools very poorly, and I get bored easily. Sad to say, I'm already turning the radio off sometimes when Obama comes on. He doesn't say anything, or not enough, or not often enough. Platitudes, clichés, promises without substance, "hope and change", almost everything without sufficient substance, "change and hope", without specifics, designed not to offend. What exactly are the man's principles? He never questions the premises of the empire. Never questions the premises of the "War on Terror". I'm glad he won for two reasons only: John McCain and Sarah Palin, and I deeply resent the fact that the American system forces me to squeeze out a drop of pleasure from something so far removed from my ideals. Obama's votes came at least as much from people desperate for relief from neo-conservative suffocation as from people who genuinely believed in him. It's a form of extortion – Vote for Obama or you get more of the same. Those are your only choices.

Is there reason to be happy that the insufferably religious George W. is soon to be history? "I believe that Christ died for my sins and I am redeemed through him. That is a source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis." That was said by someone named Barack Obama.1 The United States turns out religious fanatics like the Japanese turn out cars. Let's pray for an end to this.

As I've mentioned before, if you're one of those who would like to believe that Obama has to present center-right foreign policy views to be elected, but once he's in the White House we can forget that he misled us repeatedly and the true, progressive man of peace and international law and human rights will emerge ... keep in mind that as a US Senate candidate in 2004 he threatened missile strikes against Iran2, and winning that election apparently did not put him in touch with his inner peacenik. He's been threatening Iran ever since.

The world is in terrible shape. I don't think I have to elucidate on that remark. How nice, how marvelously nice it would be to have an American president who was infused with progressive values and political courage. Just imagine what could be done. Like a quick and complete exit from Iraq. You can paint the picture as well as I can. With his popularity Obama could get away with almost anything, but he'll probably continue to play it safe. Or what may be more precise, he'll continue to be himself; which, apparently, is a committed centrist. He's not really against the war. Not like you and I are. During Obama's first four years in the White House, the United States will not leave Iraq. I doubt that he'd allow a complete withdrawal even in a second term. Has he ever unequivocally called the war illegal and immoral? A crime against humanity? Why is he so close to Colin Powell? Does he not know of Powell's despicable role in the war? And retaining George W. Bush's Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, a man against whom it would not be difficult to draw up charges of war crimes? Will he also find a place for Rumsfeld? And Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano, a supporter of the war, to run the Homeland Security department? And General James Jones, a former NATO commander (sic), who wants to "win" in Iraq and Afghanistan, and who backed John McCain, as his National Security Adviser? Jones is on the Board of Directors of the Boeing Corporation and Chevron Oil. Out of what dark corner of Obama's soul does all this come?

As Noam Chomsky recently pointed out, the election of an indigenous person (Evo Morales) in Bolivia and a progressive person (Jean-Bertrand Aristide) in Haiti were more historic than the election of Barack Obama.

He's not really against torture either. Not like you and I are. No one will be punished for using or ordering torture. No one will be impeached because of torture. Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, says that prosecuting Bush officials is necessary to set future anti-torture policy. "The only way to prevent this from happening again is to make sure that those who were responsible for the torture program pay the price for it. I don't see how we regain our moral stature by allowing those who were intimately involved in the torture programs to simply walk off the stage and lead lives where they are not held accountable."3

As president, Obama cannot remain silent and do nothing; otherwise he will inherit the war crimes of Bush and Cheney and become a war criminal himself. Closing the Guantanamo hell-hole means nothing at all if the prisoners are simply moved to other torture dungeons. If Obama is truly against torture, why does he not declare that after closing Guantanamo the inmates will be tried in civilian courts in the US or resettled in countries where they clearly face no risk of torture? And simply affirm that his administration will faithfully abide by the 1984 Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment, of which the United States is a signatory, and which states: "The term 'torture' means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining information or a confession ... inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or any other person acting in an official capacity."

The convention affirms that: "No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture."

Instead, Obama has appointed former CIA official John O. Brennan as an adviser on intelligence matters and co-leader of his intelligence transition team. Brennan has called "rendition" – the kidnap-and-torture program carried out under the Clinton and Bush administrations – a "vital tool", and praised the CIA's interrogation techniques for providing "lifesaving" intelligence.4

Obama may prove to be as big a disappointment as Nelson Mandela, who did painfully little to improve the lot of the masses of South Africa while turning the country over to the international forces of globalization. I make this comparison not because both men are black, but because both produced such great expectations in their home country and throughout the world. Mandela was freed from prison on the assumption of the Apartheid leaders that he would become president and pacify the restless black population while ruling as a non-radical, free-market centrist without undue threat to white privilege. It's perhaps significant that in his autobiography he declines to blame the CIA for his capture in 1962 even though the evidence to support this is compelling.5 It appears that Barack Obama made a similar impression upon the American power elite who vetted him in many fundraising and other meetings and smoothed the way for his highly unlikely ascendancy from obscure state senator to the presidency in four years. The financial support from the corporate world to sell "Brand Obama" was extraordinary.

Another comparison might be with Tony Blair. The Tories could never have brought in university fees or endless brutal wars, but New Labour did. The Republicans would have had a very difficult time bringing back the draft, but I can see Obama reinstating it, accompanied by a suitable slogan, some variation of "Yes, we can!".

I do hope I'm wrong, about his past and about how he'll rule as president. I hope I'm very wrong.

Many people are calling for progressives to intensely lobby the Obama administration, to exert pressure to bring out the "good Obama", force him to commit himself, hold him accountable. The bold reforms of Roosevelt's New Deal were spurred by widespread labor strikes and other militant actions soon after the honeymoon period was over. At the moment I have nothing better to offer than that. God help us.
The future as we used to know it has ceased to exist. And other happy thoughts.

Reading the accounts of the terrorist horror in Mumbai has left me as pessimistic as a dinosaur contemplating the future of his grandchildren. How could they do that? ... destroying all those lives, people they didn't even know, people enjoying themselves on vacation ... whatever could be their motivation? Well, they did sort of know some of their victims; they knew they were Indians, or Americans, or British, or Zionists, or some other kind of infidel; so it wasn't completely mindless, not totally random. Does that help to understand? Can it ease the weltschmerz? You can even make use of it. The next time you encounter a defender of American foreign policy, someone insisting that something like Mumbai justifies Washington's rhetorical and military attacks against Islam, you might want to point out that the United States does the same on a regular basis. For seven years in Afghanistan, almost six in Iraq, to give only the two most obvious examples ... breaking down doors and machine-gunning strangers, infidels, traumatizing children for life, firing missiles into occupied houses, exploding bombs all over the place, pausing to torture ... every few days dropping bombs on Pakistan or Afghanistan, and still Iraq, claiming they've killed members of al-Qaeda, just as bad as Zionists, bombing wedding parties, one after another, 20 or 30 or 70 killed, all terrorists of course, often including top al-Qaeda leaders, the number one or number two man, so we're told; so not completely mindless, not totally random; the survivors say it was a wedding party, their brother or their nephew or their friend, mostly women and children dead; the US military pays people to tell them where so-and-so number-one bad guy is going to be; and the US military believes what they're told, so Bombs Away! ... Does any of that depress you like Mumbai? Sometimes they bomb Syria instead, or kill people in Iran or Somalia, all bad guys ... "US helicopter-borne troops have carried out a raid inside Syria along the Iraqi border, killing eight people including a woman, Syrian authorities say" reports the BBC.6 ... "The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials. ... The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States," the New York Times informs us.7 So it's all nice and legal, not an attack upon civilization by a bunch of escaped mental patients. Maybe the Mumbai terrorists also have a piece of paper, from some authority, saying that it's okay what they did. ... I'm feeling better already.
The mythology of the War on Terrorism

On November 8, three men were executed by the government of Indonesia for terrorist attacks on two night clubs in Bali in 2002 that took the lives of 202 people, more than half of whom were Australians, Britons and Americans. The Associated Press8 reported that "the three men never expressed remorse, saying the suicide bombings were meant to punish the United States and its Western allies for alleged atrocities in Afghanistan and elsewhere."

During the recent US election campaign, John McCain and his followers repeated a sentiment that has become a commonplace – that the War on Terrorism has been a success because there hasn't been a terrorist attack against the United States since September 11, 2001; as if terrorists killing Americans is acceptable if it's done abroad. Since the first American strike on Afghanistan in October 2001 there have been literally scores of terrorist attacks against American institutions in the Middle East, South Asia and the Pacific, more than a dozen in Pakistan alone: military, civilian, Christian, and other targets associated with the United States. The year following the Bali bombings saw the heavy bombing of the US-managed Marriott Hotel in Jakarta, Indonesia, the site of diplomatic receptions and 4th of July celebrations held by the American Embassy. The Marriott Hotel in Pakistan was the scene of a major terrorist bombing just two months ago. All of these attacks have been in addition to the thousands in Iraq and Afghanistan against US occupation, which Washington officially labels an integral part of the War on Terrorism. Yet American lovers of military force insist that the War on Terrorism has kept the United States safe.

Even the claim that the War on Terrorism has kept Americans safe at home is questionable. There was no terrorist attack in the United States during the 6 1/2 years prior to the one in September 2001; not since the April 1995 bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City. It would thus appear that the absence of terrorist attacks in the United States is the norm.

An even more insidious myth of the War on Terrorism has been the notion that terrorist acts against the United States can be explained, largely, if not entirely, by irrational hatred or envy of American social, economic, or religious values, and not by what the United States does to the world; i.e., US foreign policy. Many Americans are mightily reluctant to abandon this idea. Without it the whole paradigm – that we are the innocent good guys and they are the crazy, fanatic, bloodthirsty bastards who cannot be talked to but only bombed, tortured and killed – falls apart. Statements like the one above from the Bali bombers blaming American policies for their actions are numerous, coming routinely from Osama bin Laden and those under him.9

Terrorism is an act of political propaganda, a bloody form of making the world hear one's outrage against a perceived oppressor, graffiti written on the wall in some grim, desolate alley. It follows that if the perpetrators of a terrorist act declare what their motivation was, their statement should carry credibility, no matter what one thinks of their cause or the method used to achieve it.
Just put down that stereotype and no one gets hurt.

Sarah Palin and her American supporters resent what they see as the East Coast elite, the intellectuals, the cultural snobs, the politically correct, the pacifists and peaceniks, the agnostics and atheists, the environmentalists, the fanatic animal protectors, the food police, the health gestapo, the socialists, and other such leftist and liberal types who think of themselves as morally superior to Joe Sixpack, Joe the Plumber, National Rifle Association devotées, rednecks, and all the Bush supporters who have relished the idea of having a president no smarter than themselves. It's stereotyping gone wild. So in the interest of bringing some balance and historical perspective to the issue, allow me to remind you of some forgotten, or never known, factoids which confound the stereotypes.
Josef Stalin studied for the priesthood.
Adolf Hitler once hoped to become a Catholic priest or monk; he was a vegetarian and was anti-smoking.
Hermann Goering, while his Luftwaffe rained death upon Europe, kept a sign in his office that read: "He who tortures animals wounds the feelings of the German people."
Adolf Eichmann was cultured, read deeply, played the violin.
Benito Mussolini also played the violin.
Some Nazi concentration camp commanders listened to Mozart to drown out the cries of the inmates.
Charles Manson was a staunch anti-vivisectionist.
Radovan Karadzic, the Bosnian Serb leader, charged with war crimes, genocide, and crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia, had been a psychiatrist specializing in depression; the author of a published book of poetry as well as children's books, often with themes of nature; and a practitioner of alternative medicine.

I'm not really certain to what use you might put this information to advance toward our cherished national goal of becoming a civilized society, but I feel a need to disseminate it. If you know of any other examples of the same type, I'd appreciate your sending them to me.

The examples above are all of "bad guys" doing "good" things. There are of course many more instances of "good guys" doing "bad" things.
Notes
Washington Post, August 17, 2008?
Chicago Tribune, September 25, 2004 ?
Associated Press, November 17, 2008 ?
New York Times, October 3, 2008 ?
Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom (1994) p.278; William Blum, Rogue State, chapter 23, "How the CIA sent Nelson Mandela to prison for 28 years" ?
BBC, October 26, 2008 ?
New York Times, November 9, 2008 ?
Associated Press, November 9, 2008 ?
See my article at: http://www.killinghope.org/superogue/terintro.htm ?



William Blum is the author of:
Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War 2
Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower
West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir
Freeing the World to Death: Essays on the American Empire

Portions of the books can be read, and signed copies purchased, at www.killinghope.org

Previous Anti-Empire Reports can be read at this website.

Dawn Meredith
12-03-2008, 11:42 PM
This is really depressing. Hey Caroline Kennedy backed him. But after reading the above few articles ....I just copied and pasted some to a friend with the heading "now you can say 'I told you so' ". He'd been out of the country during the election (for six months) to avoid fights with his Oboma voting friends and just hearing about all the false hope and false change...

He's not even president yet and already I am glad I don't have an Obama bumper sticker on my car.

But really, did we think that someone DIFFERENT, TRULY DIFFERENT would ever be permitted to be elected?

(Deep down there's still a tiny part of me that thinks he will "turn" like JFK...but....then I read here and reality sinks in.)

Peter Lemkin
12-05-2008, 06:14 PM
http://www.votenader.org/blog/2008/11/08/in-public-interest-between-hope-and-reality/

In the Public Interest Between Hope and Reality
by Ralph Nader

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words "hope
and change," "change and hope" have been your trademark
declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives
and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers
of power that want not "hope and change" but the continuation of
the power-entrenched status quo.

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous,
unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall
Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm
attorneys. Never before has a Democratic nominee for President
achieved this supremacy over his Republican counterpart. Why,
apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall
Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so
much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate
record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign
record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil
drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and
avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the
corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget,
for example) you have shown that you are their man?

To advance change and hope, the presidential persona requires
character, courage, integrity—not expediency, accommodation and
short-range opportunism. Take, for example, your transformation
from an articulate defender of Palestinian rights in Chicago
before your run for the U.S. Senate to an acolyte, a dittoman
for the hard-line AIPAC lobby, which bolsters the militaristic
oppression, occupation, blockage, colonization and land-water
seizures over the years of the Palestinian peoples and their
shrunken territories in the West Bank and Gaza. Eric Alterman
summarized numerous polls in a December 2007 issue of The Nation
magazine showing that AIPAC policies are opposed by a majority
of Jewish-Americans.

You know quite well that only when the U.S. Government supports
the Israeli and Palestinian peace movements, that years ago
worked out a detailed two-state solution (which is supported by
a majority of Israelis and Palestinians), will there be a chance
for a peaceful resolution of this 60-year plus conflict. Yet you
align yourself with the hard-liners, so much so that in your
infamous, demeaning speech to the AIPAC convention right after
you gained the nomination of the Democratic Party, you supported
an "undivided Jerusalem," and opposed negotiations with
Hamas—the elected government in Gaza. Once again, you ignored
the will of the Israeli people who, in a March 1, 2008 poll by
the respected newspaper Haaretz, showed that 64% of Israelis
favored "direct negotiations with Hamas." Siding with the AIPAC
hard-liners is what one of the many leading Palestinians
advocating dialogue and peace with the Israeli people was
describing when he wrote "Anti-semitism today is the persecution
of Palestinian society by the Israeli state."

During your visit to Israel this summer, you scheduled a mere 45
minutes of your time for Palestinians with no news conference,
and no visit to Palestinian refugee camps that would have
focused the media on the brutalization of the Palestinians. Your
trip supported the illegal, cruel blockade of Gaza in defiance
of international law and the United Nations charter. You focused
on southern Israeli casualties which during the past year have
totaled one civilian casualty to every 400 Palestinian
casualties on the Gaza side. Instead of a statesmanship that
decried all violence and its replacement with acceptance of the
Arab League’s 2002 proposal to permit a viable Palestinian state
within the 1967 borders in return for full economic and
diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Israel, you
played the role of a cheap politician, leaving the area and
Palestinians with the feeling of much shock and little awe.

David Levy, a former Israeli peace negotiator, described your
trip succinctly: "There was almost a willful display of
indifference to the fact that there are two narratives here.
This could serve him well as a candidate, but not as a
President."

Palestinian American commentator, Ali Abunimah, noted that Obama
did not utter a single criticism of Israel, "of its relentless
settlement and wall construction, of the closures that make life
unlivable for millions of Palestinians. …Even the Bush
administration recently criticized Israeli’s use of cluster
bombs against Lebanese civilians [see www.atfl.org
for elaboration]. But Obama defended Israeli’s assault on
Lebanon as an exercise of its `legitimate right to defend itself.’"

In numerous columns Gideon Levy, writing in Haaretz, strongly
criticized the Israeli government’s assault on civilians in
Gaza, including attacks on "the heart of a crowded refugee
camp… with horrible bloodshed" in early 2008.

Israeli writer and peace advocate—Uri Avnery—described Obama’s
appearance before AIPAC as one that "broke all records for
obsequiousness and fawning, adding that Obama "is prepared to
sacrifice the most basic American interests. After all, the US
has a vital interest in achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace
that will allow it to find ways to the hearts of the Arab masses
from Iraq to Morocco. Obama has harmed his image in the Muslim
world and mortgaged his future—if and when he is elected
president.," he said, adding, "Of one thing I am certain:
Obama’s declarations at the AIPAC conference are very, very bad
for peace. And what is bad for peace is bad for Israel, bad for
the world and bad for the Palestinian people."

A further illustration of your deficiency of character is the
way you turned your back on the Muslim-Americans in this
country. You refused to send surrogates to speak to voters at
their events. Having visited numerous churches and synagogues,
you refused to visit a single Mosque in America. Even George W.
Bush visited the Grand Mosque in Washington D.C. after 9/11 to
express proper sentiments of tolerance before a frightened major
religious group of innocents.

Although the New York Times published a major article on June
24, 2008 titled "Muslim Voters Detect a Snub from Obama" (by
Andrea Elliott), citing examples of your aversion to these
Americans who come from all walks of life, who serve in the
armed forces and who work to live the American dream. Three days
earlier the International Herald Tribune published an article by
Roger Cohen titled "Why Obama Should Visit a Mosque." None of
these comments and reports change your political bigotry against
Muslim-Americans—even though your father was a Muslim from
Kenya.

Perhaps nothing illustrated your utter lack of political courage
or even the mildest version of this trait than your surrendering
to demands of the hard-liners to prohibit former president Jimmy
Carter from speaking at the Democratic National Convention. This
is a tradition for former presidents and one accorded in prime
time to Bill Clinton this year.

Here was a President who negotiated peace between Israel and
Egypt, but his recent book pressing the dominant Israeli
superpower to avoid Apartheid of the Palestinians and make peace
was all that it took to sideline him. Instead of an important
address to the nation by Jimmy Carter on this critical
international problem, he was relegated to a stroll across the
stage to "tumultuous applause," following a showing of a film
about the Carter Center’s post-Katrina work. Shame on you,
Barack Obama!

But then your shameful behavior has extended to many other areas
of American life. (See the factual analysis by my running mate,
Matt Gonzalez, on www.votenader.org). You have turned your back
on the 100-million poor Americans composed of poor whites,
African-Americans, and Latinos. You always mention helping the
"middle class" but you omit, repeatedly, mention of the "poor"
in America.

Should you be elected President, it must be more than an
unprecedented upward career move following a brilliantly
unprincipled campaign that spoke "change" yet demonstrated
actual obeisance to the concentration power of the "corporate
supremacists." It must be about shifting the power from the few
to the many. It must be a White House presided over by a black
man who does not turn his back on the downtrodden here and
abroad but challenges the forces of greed, dictatorial control
of labor, consumers and taxpayers, and the militarization of
foreign policy. It must be a White House that is transforming of
American politics—opening it up to the public funding of
elections (through voluntary approaches)—and allowing smaller
candidates to have a chance to be heard on debates and in the
fullness of their now restricted civil liberties. Call it a
competitive democracy.

Your presidential campaign again and again has demonstrated
cowardly stands. "Hope" some say "springs eternal." But not when
"reality" consumes it daily.

Sincerely,
Ralph Nader

Paul Rigby
12-05-2008, 06:48 PM
http://www.votenader.org/blog/2008/11/08/in-public-interest-between-hope-and-reality/

In the Public Interest Between Hope and Reality

by Ralph Nader

Dear Senator Obama:

In your nearly two-year presidential campaign, the words "hope
and change," "change and hope" have been your trademark
declarations. Yet there is an asymmetry between those objectives
and your political character that succumbs to contrary centers
of power that want not "hope and change" but the continuation of
the power-entrenched status quo...

Sincerely,
Ralph Nader

http://antiwar.com/justin/?articleid=13857

December 5, 2008

A Loud Silence: That's the response from the "antiwar" wing of the Democratic party to Obama's Iraq sellout

by Justin Raimondo


Is it really possible that President-elect Barack Obama intends to break his campaign promise to "end the war" in Iraq, and keep US troops in that country well beyond the sixteen month timetable for withdrawal he advocated during the campaign?

The answer, according to the New York Times, is a fairly certain yes:

"On the campaign trail, Senator Barack Obama offered a pledge that electrified and motivated his liberal base, vowing to "end the war" in Iraq.

"But as he moves closer to the White House, President-elect Obama is making clearer than ever that tens of thousands of American troops will be left behind in Iraq, even if he can make good on his campaign promise to pull all combat forces out within 16 months.

"'I said that I would remove our combat troops from Iraq in 16 months, with the understanding that it might be necessary — likely to be necessary — to maintain a residual force to provide potential training, logistical support, to protect our civilians in Iraq,' Mr. Obama said this week as he introduced his national security team."

Tens of thousands – a prime target for terrorists, a "residual force" that, in any other context, would be seen as an army of occupation, and a reminder to the Iraqis that they still aren't free of us, nor we of them. That "residual" force, we are told, could number as high as 70,000 troops "for a substantial time even beyond 2011." At a cost of billions, to be sure.

This is not "ending" the war.

The retention of Gates, the appointment of Hillary the Hawk, the "team of rivals" gambit that is supposed to inoculate Obama against criticism from the pro-war right – this pre-inaugural political drama is a dress rehearsal for betrayal. Antiwar voters, who put Obama in office, are about to get screwed – and their alleged spokespersons, at least amongst the left-wing punditariat, are bending over with alacrity. Somebody please tell Rachel Maddow to drop the "quackitude," and reorient her own attitude – because she soon won't have George W. Bush to kick around anymore. The ball is in her court – and in Keith Olbermann's, if he can only remember to take his meds.

My guess, however, is that they'll miss the basket by a mile. After all, it looks like GE Capital – a division of General Electric, corporate parent of MSNBC – has got their bailout to the tune of untold billions. Unlike the blue-collar types, like General Motors and the UAW, they didn't have to come crawling to Congress, hat in hand, with a plan to show what they're going to do with the money. It was payment for services rendered: thanks for your business, and please come again.

There's no accountability from this crowd. Forget the pretentious rhetoric about "inclusion," and the alleged sanctity of the "democratic process." The only kind of populism these folks understand is the kind that's packaged and sold by Madison Avenue, for the benefit of Wall Street.

From all the formerly outraged "antiwar" personalities in the media and politics, we hear nothing in response to Obama's preemptive betrayal – carried out before he even takes office – except a very loud and embarrassing silence.

Where is the ever-voluble Arianna Huffington? Busy choosing her wardrobe for the Inaugural Ball. And Rachel's so focused on getting Susan into the inaugural after-party at the White House that such mundane matters as the continuing occupation of Iraq shrink into well-deserved insignificance. As for Keith Olbermann, I hear he's demanding GE Capital's bailout check be made out directly to him. After all, he's earned it – they've all earned it.

It's been remarked before that Team Obama is a re-run of the Clinton administration, as far as appointments are concerned, but there's been less attention paid to what this actually means, stylistically: the return of the old Clintonian trick of redefining words to fit the circumstances. Get ready for more lectures on what the true meaning of the word "is" is. They're going to redefine us out of Iraq, whilst leaving the occupation intact, by re-labeling military personnel and "changing the mission." Since the mission is being reduced to specific tasks, like force protection, these will no longer be "combat troops." They'll be something else – but not, technically, an occupying force. Or, at least, that is what MSNBC will no doubt be reporting as fact.

The moral slackness, the complete lack of perspective, and of course the boundless arrogance – it's all coming back to Washington. So when did it ever leave? Well, then, expect a ratcheting up, at the very least, of all the worst aspects of the old Clinton administration, especially in the foreign policy realm. These people have forgotten where they've come from so quick that, in a few months, they'll be acting just like their predecessors: warlike, imperious, and ready to rumble. As far as the future of American foreign policy is concerned, I have only three words to say: watch out, Pakistan!

So where is the left, anyway?

Glenn Greenwald, among the best of the liberals, is AWOL on Obama's foreign policy sellout. Sure, torture is bad, and it's very noble to be against it, I'm sure, but what about the endless war that gives it a conceptual framework and legitimizes it in the name of "national security"?

Where are the "antiwar" liberals? They're on their way to the Inauguration, and you'll have to pardon them if they slam the door of the limousine in our faces.

Okay, so what about the commies? As obnoxious and outright crazy as they can be, surely they are sufficiently sincere and consistent in their opposition to US imperialism to resist the lure of Obama-mania.

Well, not exactly … because, you see, unfortunately, they don't make commies like they used to. Take, for example, the softcore Communist party types who lord it over the main antiwar "coalition," United for Peace and Justice. These are old-style CPUSA types, whose subservience to the Democratic party is a matter of longstanding doctrine, and whose hopes for "Popular Front" with the incoming administration fit in quite well with the Obama-as-Roosevelt narrative the left is playing in their heads.

The war in Iraq? As they say in the Big Apple, fuggeddaboutit! The Communist Party of Iraq supports the American occupation, and has from the beginning. The endless "withdrawal" from Iraq can be glossed over in the name of getting out "responsibly."

The war in Afghanistan? One hardly expects much sympathy, in these quarters, for a people that defeated the Soviet Union and arguably brought about its downfall. As for Obama, in a statement on his election victory they take credit for his success:

"For more than six years, United For Peace and Justice and the antiwar movement have stood firm in our opposition to the war in Iraq. Our consistent work played a major role in turning public sentiment against the war, and that sentiment helped lay the foundation for the Obama campaign's success."

You'll note that there's no mention of Afghanistan, until much later, and then only in an ambiguous context. After all, these people consider themselves part of the team – Obama's team:

"Obama has put forth the challenge and United For Peace and Justice is ready to meet that challenge as we work to change our nation's path from militarism and greed to peace and justice."

The real challenge these leftist appendages of the Obama administration face is explaining to their own supporters how and why we're still going to be in Iraq at the end of Obama's first term. In the meantime, however, they can gush over their multiculti messiah and even take credit for his election – and forget about all those tiresome antiwar demonstrations. I see they're holding a "National Assembly" soon, which is going to discuss their new strategic orientation: their last such document professed to "stay alert" to the threat of an expanded war in Afghanistan, as well as reiterating UFPJ's opposition to the occupation of Iraq. But actions speak louder than words: where are the relatively large demonstrations of the Bush era?

I see no indication of any such action anywhere, not even from the Marcyites, who made a profession out of mounting these marches. However, they seem to have split into two factions, the most active of which is preoccupied with calling for a government "bailout" for "workers", freeing Mumia, and calling for a National Day of Mourning on Thanksgiving – a public relations triumph in Bizarro World, from what I hear.

This loud silence from the ostensibly antiwar Left is all the more inexplicable given the fact that they're right: Obama does owe his election in large part to their efforts, which helped turn public opinion against the crazed foreign policy of the Bush White House. From a raucous crowd that wouldn't shut up, to a mobilization of Trappists – that's the current and very curious trajectory of the "official" antiwar movement in America.

The irony of this strange paralysis is that there never was a better time for them to get out the old placards, unfurl the banners, and take to the streets with their demands – after all, this is a President who listens to them, presumably. I never understood the logic of demonstrating in front of the Bush White House: after all, that's the last place anybody would be sympathetic. This, however, is a White House of a different color, so to speak. Having taken credit for electing Obama, what's to stop antiwar demonstrators from asking for a little something in return? They can do it respectfully: like Russian peasants supplicating the Czar.

Sooner or later, the antiwar movement will have to respond, as the Afghan front takes center stage in our perpetual "war on terrorism," and the War Party digs its spurs into the hindquarters of the national security bureaucracy, which actually administers and implements American foreign policy. The quick extension of the conflict into Pakistan by the Obama administration is another development we have to look forward to, complete with an Indo-American alliance and the ratcheting up of regional tensions. China, Russia, and Iran all have legitimate cause for concern.

We are entering a very dangerous time, as everyone's attention is diverted away from the field of foreign affairs while the economy melts down. However, war is often seen as the "solution" to our economic problems. The popular myth that war is good for the economy has been concretized by the doctrine of "military Keynesianism." After all, if government spending of any sort is the best way to kick-start the economy, then why not more military spending to create government-guaranteed jobs and keep the bubble expanding?

I note that the UFPJ statement comes out strongly against "militarism." I have news for them: they haven't seen anything yet.

Another enemy, another crusade, another "necessary" war that requires the production of arms and the militarization of labor – just like the "good war" did. If Obama is indeed a post-racial version of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as the lefties hope, then it becomes ever more important to keep a very close watch on his foreign policy. After all, Clare Booth Luce was dead on right when she said of FDR: "He lied us into war." Whether it was for our own good, as historians like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., aver, is an issue the Rachel Maddows and Keith Olbermanns of this world will have to face in the very near future. And, correct me if I'm wrong, but I'm certain I know which side they'll come out on….

~ Justin Raimondo

Peter Lemkin
12-05-2008, 07:37 PM
Great analysis of the Obama cabinet of non-change by Ralph Shoenman and Mya Shone http://takingaimradio.com/shows/audio.html
Do take the time to listen - no transcript available.

Paul Rigby
12-06-2008, 05:39 PM
Great analysis of the Obama cabinet of non-change by Ralph Shoenman and Mya Shone http://takingaimradio.com/shows/audio.html
Do take the time to listen - no transcript available.

Kindly desist from posting interesting links - there aren't enough hours in the day...

By the way, did I really read right that Obama defended his compilation of a Cabinet full of Clintonian deadbeats and war criminals on the ground that he was anxious to avoid "group think"? The only thing likely to boom in the US in the next four years will be satire. What an idiot explanation.

On a more cheerful note, enjoy the quote in bold below.


http://www.counterpunch.org/

Weekend Edition

December 5 / 7, 2008

CounterPunch Diary: Honeymoans From the Left

By ALEXANDER COCKBURN

A month after he won the White House Barack Obama is drawing a chorus of approval from conservatives who spent most of this year denouncing him as a man of the extreme left. “Reassuring”, says Karl Rove, of Obama’s cabinet selections. Max Boot, a rabid right-wing commentator, confesses, "I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain." In Murdoch’s Weekly Standard, mouthpiece of the neocons, Michael Goldfarb reviewed Obama’s appointments and declared that he sees “nothing that represents a drastic change in how Washington does business. The expectation is that Obama is set to continue the course set by Bush in his second term."

But on the liberal-left end of the spectrum, where Obama kindled extraordinary levels of enthusiasm throughout his campaign, the mood is swiftly swinging to dismay and bitterness. “How… to explain that not a single top member of Obama's foreign policy/national security team opposed the war?” Katrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, asked last Monday. She went on, “For Obama, who's said he wants to be challenged by his advisors, wouldn't it have made sense to include at least one person on the foreign policy/national security team who would challenge him with some new and fresh thinking about security in the 21st century?”

“How nice, how marvelously nice it would be,” wrote the left-wing historian William Blum sarcastically here on the CounterPunch site last week, “to have an American president who was infused with progressive values and political courage.” Blum speedily made it clear that in his estimation Obama is not endowed with these desirable qualities: “He's not really against the war. Not like you and I are. During Obama's first four years in the White House, the United States will not leave Iraq. I doubt that he'd allow a complete withdrawal even in a second term. “

Similar sentiments came from another popular left-wing reporter, Jeremy Scahill, who wrote here on Tuesday, “The assembly of Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, Susan Rice and Joe Biden is a kettle of hawks with a proven track record of support for the Iraq war, militaristic interventionism, neoliberal economic policies and a worldview consistent with the foreign policy arch that stretches from George HW Bush's time in office to the present.”

Suddenly a familiar specter is shuffling back under the spotlights. A long piece on Obama’s foreign policy advisors last Tuesday carried the headline, “Are Key Obama Advisors in Tune with Neocon Hawks who wants to Attack in Iran.” The author is Robert Dreyfuss, a level headed leftish commentator. He sketched in the political backgrounds of advisers to Obama and concluded that “Tony Lake, UN Ambassador-designate Susan Rice, Tom Daschle, and Dennis Ross, along with leading Democratic hawks like Richard Holbrooke, close to Vice-President-elect Joe Biden or Secretary of State-designate Hillary Clinton -- have made common cause with war-minded think-tank hawks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), and other hardline institutes.”
These Obama-hawks, Dreyfuss gloomily told his readers, reckon that talks with Iran about its nuclear program will fail. On the heels of this failure they urge “a kinetic action” in the form of a savage bombing campaign by the US Air Force.

Four more years of anxious articles about the impending attack on Iran? I’d rather read Piers Plowman again, the dullest work I ever had to trudge through when I read Eng Lit at Oxford. Criticisms of Obama’s foreign policy team are, if anything, outstripped by gloom and indignation over his economic team. The economist Michael Hudson complained here recently that Obama was meekly following the advice of banker and former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin, putting Rubin’s protégés in key Obama administration posts: “Larry Summers, who as head of the World Bank forced privatization at give-away prices to kleptocrats; Geithner of the New York Fed; and a monetarist economist from Berkeley, as right-wing a university as Chicago. These are the protective guard-dogs of America’s vested interests.”

More mouldy cabbages are being hurled at Obama’s picks at the Pentagon, starting with the familiar visage of Robert Gates, already in occupation of the top job, having been put there by George Bush Jr, to replace Donald Rumsfeld. Winslow Wheeler, for many years a senor Republican staffer in Congress, has a solid reputation as one of the best-informed of all the observers of that vast sink hole of fraud and waste, the US Defense Department.

During Gates’ tenure, Wheeler complains in an interview by Andrew Cockburn here last Wednesday, “things have only gotten worse. The budget’s going up faster than ever before in recent history; the size of our forces is going south; the equipment continues to get older.”

Wheeler says “the second tier of appointments that they’re talking about in the press for the Obama team are mostly holdovers from the Clinton era, when things were almost as bad as they were during the Bush era. Most of the major hardware programs that are now coming a cropper as major cost and performance disasters were conceived during the Clinton era. Things such as the Future Combat Systems, or the Navy’s DDG 1000 Destroyer known as the Arsenal Ship and later the DDX Destroyer, spawned when Richard Danzig was Secretary of the Navy. Danzig is under active consideration to be deputy secretary of defense and Gates’ natural successor when Gates finishes whatever short timer term he has under Obama. The F-22 fighter, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, it goes on, all these programs that are cost and performance disasters had their genesis during the Clinton era.”

Asked by Andrew about Obama’s National Security Advisor, Jim Jones, Wheeler replied tartly , “He is a man of great stature, physically and figuratively, in Washington. He is a Washington ‘heavy’ but if you look at his record, nothing much ever happened. Things went south in Afghanistan pretty rapidly when he was supreme commander of all Nato forces in Afghanistan. When he was Commandant of the Marine Corps, a lot of the marines’ overpriced underperforming hardware programs, such as the V-22 [vertical takeoff troop transport plane] and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle were endorsed and continued happily along. He seems to have been mostly a placeholder when he had these very senior and important positions.

In Jones’ favor I have heard that at some point in Bush time he lodged with Condoleezza Rice a report on Israeli conduct that was so harsh it had to be swiftly tossed to the shredder. I look forward to reports of a mano a mano between the vast Jones and the diminutive Emanuel. One striking feature of these complaints is that if the many of complainers had their suspicions about Obama during the campaign, they kept their mouths firmly shut. Across eight presidential campaigns, since Jimmy Carter’s successful run in 1976, I’ve never seen such collective determination by the liberal left to think only positive thoughts about a Democratic candidate. Indeed, some of the present fury may stem from a certain embarrassment at their own political naivety. In fairness to Obama, beyond the vaguely radical afflatus of his campaign rhetoric about “change”, Obama never concealed his true political stance, which is of the center-right. In every sense of the phrase, he can say to his left critics, “I told you so.” And indeed he did.

The obvious question is whether this chorus of political disillusion on the liberal left is of any political consequence. Obama is sensitive on the matter. He defended himself last week by saying that in these dire times Americans need to be comforted by the installation of familiar and respected figures in the new administration. The polls bear him out. The public is mostly happy with what it has seen thus far. The new President, Obama insisted, will be the man setting the new course.

In his salvoes against Obama’s awful economic team, Michael Hudson brought up one ominous parallel. Jimmy Carter won the presidency in 1976, after eight years of Richard Nixon. The hopes of the liberal left were similarly high. Almost immediately Carter dashed their hopes with hawkish foreign policy appointments. Two years after Carter took over the Oval Office, Jim Ridgeway and I, working for the Village Voice, went to interview William Winpisinger, president of the Machinists’ Union and one of the most powerful labor leaders in America. We put a tape recorder on his desk and asked, “Is there anything President Carter could do to redeem himself in your eyes? Winpisinger eyed the tape recorder bleakly and said, “Die.”

A year later Carter was grimly fighting a liberal-left challenge to his re-nomination by the Democrats for a second term. The challenger was Teddy Kennedy. Though Carter beat off the Kennedy threat, he was seriously weakened and lost his relection bid. One can surmise that one reason Obama has made Hillary Clinton Secretary of State is to head off a Kennedy-type challenge. The trouble with slogans like “change” is that they are like zeppelins. The wind can whistle out of their pretensions with dreadful speed.

But it would be foolishly premature to conjure up the possibility of serious left resistance emerging in any form that would be bothersome to Obama. All it will take for now will be a bone tossed out of the limo, in the form of one or two halfways decent appointments on the enviro side. Nixon launched his green crusade (Earth Day, EPA, etc) in an effort to split the left and Obama could do the same. How about a “war” on global warming, with some version of the Roosevelt era’s Civilian Conservation Corps waging “war” on the fictive foe known as man-made global warming.

In the present juncture, with untrammeled “free enterprise” reeling in bankrupt disorder into the state’s vital, albeit servile embrace, Obama’s rallying of youth to the cause of “hope” and “change” could head off into some unpalatable directions, as a glance at the popular “crusades” launched in the 30s will swiftly attest. As has often been pointed out, there were close similarities between the CCC and similar quasi-militarised bodies of this nature in Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy. If you want to see fascism in action, don’t look in the direction of militia men in camo clustered around Hayden Lake, Idaho. Look at the Air Quality Management District in Los Angeles, the model Rep Waxman will be brandishing in the coming war on bad things in the air, though not – to be sure – the bad things in the air that make serious money for big corporations. If the price of a rhetorical crusade against “global warming” is to be bombing Teheran, I think most of the GW fanatics will echo Madeleine Albright and cry out, “We think the price is worth it.”

Paul Rigby
12-06-2008, 06:07 PM
Kindly desist from posting interesting links - there aren't enough hours in the day...

By the way, did I really read right that Obama defended his compilation of a Cabinet full of Clintonian deadbeats and war criminals on the ground that he was anxious to avoid "group think"? The only thing likely to boom in the US in the next four years will be satire. What an idiot explanation.

On a more cheerful note, enjoy the quote in bold below.

Dick Starnes, from a recent email, on the rich promise of “change you can believe in”:


I am heartened by the track being taken by our president-elect. The war cabinet is in place, the ugly specter of peace has been banished for the foreseeable future, and the new Congress clearly will be no better able to deal with the nation's ills than was the old, thus fulfilling the sooth I have been saying these many months.

It will truly be interesting to see how this great nation responds to what promises to be an economic disaster that will surely equal the Great Depression in scope and longevity. I see no possibility of escaping ruinous inflation, real hardship (a thing the American people are not accustomed to) and, ultimately, political unrest of an order of magnitude not see in these latitudes since the Civil War. After the technocrats and academic fakers have had their way, and failed, the demagogues will crawl out of the woodwork and, to be sure, find a ready audience in this land of knuckle-draggers, Jesus freaks and various other stubby-fingered vulgarians. I am gratified that you agree with me as to these matters.

Paul Rigby
12-08-2008, 07:05 AM
Dick Starnes, from a recent email, on the rich promise of “change you can believe in”:

http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11315

A Historic Moment: The Election of the Greatest Con-Man in Recent History

By James Petras

Global Research, December 7, 2008


"I have a vision of Americans in their 80’s being wheeled to their offices and factories having lost their legs in imperial wars and their pensions to Wall Street speculators and with bitter memories of voting for a President who promised change, prosperity and peace and then appointed financial swindlers and war mongers." An itinerant Minister 2008

Introduction

The entire political spectrum ranging from the ‘libertarian’ left, through the progressive editors of the Nation to the entire far right neo-con/Zionist war party and free market Berkeley/Chicago/Harvard academics, with a single voice, hailed the election of Barack Obama as a ‘historic moment’, a ‘turning point in American history and other such histrionics. For reasons completely foreign to the emotional ejaculations of his boosters, it is a historic moment: witness the abysmal gap between his ‘populist’ campaign demagoguery and his long-standing and deepening carnal relations with the most retrograde political figures, power brokers and billionaire real estate and financial backers.

What was evident from even a cursory analysis of his key campaign advisers and public commitments to Wall Street speculators, civilian militarists, zealous Zionists and corporate lawyers was hidden from the electorate, by Obama’s people friendly imagery and smooth, eloquent deliverance of a message of ‘hope’. He effectively gained the confidence, dollars and votes of tens of millions of voters by promising ‘change’ (implying higher taxes for the rich, ending the Iraq war and national health care reform) when in fact his campaign advisers (and subsequent strategic appointments) pointed to a continuation of the economic and military policies of the Bush Administration.

Within 3 weeks of his election he appointed all the political dregs who brought on the unending wars of the past two decades, the economic policy makers responsible for the financial crash and the deepening recession castigating tens of millions of Americans today and for the foreseeable future. We can affirm that the election of Obama does indeed mark a historic moment in American history: The victory of the greatest con man and his accomplices and backers in recent history.

He spoke to the workers and worked for their financial overlords.

He flashed his color to minorities while obliterating any mention of their socio-economic grievances.

He promised peace in the Middle East to the majority of young Americans and slavishly swears undying allegiance to the War Party of American Zionists serving a foreign colonial power (Israel).

Obama, on a bigger stage, is the perfect incarnation of Melville’s Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to fight wars in the Middle East on behalf of a foreign country. He solemnly mouths vacuous pieties while he empties your Social Security funds to bail out the arch financiers who swindled your pension investments. He appoints and praises the architects of collapsed pyramid schemes to high office while promising you that better days are ahead.

Yes, indeed, "our greatest intellectual critics", our ‘libertarian’ leftists and academic anarchists, used their 5-figure speaking engagements as platforms to promote the con man’s candidacy: They described the con man’s political pitch as "meeting the deeply felt needs of our people". They praised the con man when he spoke of ‘change’ and ‘turning the country around’ 180 degrees. Indeed, Obama went one step further: he turned 360 degrees, bringing us back to the policies and policy makers who were the architects of our current political-economic disaster.

The Con Man’s Self-Opiated Progressive Camp Followers

The contrast between Obama’s campaign rhetoric and his political activities was clear, public and evident to any but the mesmerized masses and the self-opiated ‘progressives’ who concocted arguments in his favor. Indeed even after Obama’s election and after he appointed every Clintonite-Wall Street shill into all the top economic policy positions, and Clinton’s and Bush’s architects of prolonged imperial wars (Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates), the ‘progressive true believers’ found reasons to dog along with the charade. Many progressives argued that Obama’s appointments of war mongers and swindlers was a ‘ploy’ to gain time now in order to move ‘left’ later.

Never ones to publicly admit their ‘historic’ errors, the same progressives turned to writing ‘open letters to the President’ pleading the ‘cause of the people’. Their epistles, of course, may succeed in passing through the shredder in the Office of the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel.

The conjurer who spoke of ‘change’ now speaks of ‘experience’ in appointing to every key and minor position the same political hacks who rotate seamlessly between Wall Street and Washington, the Fed and Academia. Instead of ‘change’ there is the utmost continuity of policy makers, policies and above all ever deepening ties between militarists, Wall Street and the Obama appointments. True believer-progressives, facing their total debacle, grab for any straw. Forced to admit that all of Obama’s appointments represent the dregs of the bloody and corrupt past, they hope and pray that ‘current dire circumstances’ may force these unrepentant warmongers and life long supporters of finance capital to become supporters and advocates of a revived Keynesian welfare state.

On the contrary, Obama and each and everyone of his foreign policy appointments to the Pentagon, State and Justice Departments, Intelligence and Security agencies are calling for vast increases in military spending, troop commitments and domestic militarization to recover the lost fortunes of a declining empire. Obama and his appointees plan to vigorously pursue Clinton-Bush’s global war against national resistance movements in the Middle East. His most intimate and trusted ‘Israel-First’ advisers have targeted Iran, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Palestine and Iraq.

Obama’s Economic Con Game

Then there is the contrast between the trillions Obama will shower on the financial swindlers (and any other ‘too big to fail’ private capitalist enterprise) and his zero compensation for the 100 million heads of families swindled of $5 trillion dollars in savings and pensions by his cohort appointees and bailout beneficiaries. Not a cent is allocated for the long term unemployed. Not a single household threatened with eviction will be bailed out.

Obama is the trademark name of a network of confidence people. They are a well-organized gang of prominent political operative, money raisers, mass media hustlers, real estate moguls and academic pimps. They are joined and abetted by the elected officials and hacks of the Democratic Party. Like the virtuoso performer, Obama projected the image and followed the script. But the funding and the entire ‘populist’ show was constructed by the hard-nosed, hard-line free marketeers, Jewish and Gentile ‘Israel Firsters’, Washington war mongers and a host of multi-millionaire ‘trade union’ bureaucrats.

The electoral scam served several purposes above and beyond merely propelling a dozen strategic con artists into high office and the White House. First and foremost, the Obama con-gang deflected the rage and anger of tens of millions of economically skewered and war drained Americans from turning their hostility against a discredited presidency, congress and the grotesque one-party two factions political system and into direct action or at least toward a new political movement.

Secondly the Obama image provided a temporary cover for the return and continuity of all that was so detested by the American people – the arrogant untouchable swindlers, growing unemployment and economic uncertainty, the loss of life savings and homes and the endless, ever-expanding imperial wars.

Featuring Paul Volker, ‘Larry’ Summers, Robert Gates, the Clintons, Geithner, Holder and General (‘You drink your kool-aid while I sit on Boeings’ Board of Directors’) Jim Jones USMC, Obama treats us to a re-run of military surges and war crimes, Wall Street banditry, Abu Ghraib, AIPAC hustlers and all the sundry old crap. Our Harvard-minted Gunga Din purports to speak for all the colonial subjects but acts in the interest of the empire, its financial vampires, its war criminals and its Middle East leaches from the Land of the Chosen.

The Two Faces of Obama

Like the Janus face found on the coins of the early Roman Republic, Obama and his intimate cronies cynically joked about ‘which is the real face of Barack’, conscious of the con-job they were perpetrating during the campaign. In reality, there is only one face - a very committed, very consequential and very up front Obama, who demonstrated in every single one of his appointments the face of an empire builder.

Obama is an open militarist, intent by every means possible to re-construct a tattered US empire. The President-Elect is an unabashed Wall Street Firster – one who has placed the recuperation of the biggest banks and investment houses as his highest priority. Obama’s nominees for all the top economic positions (Treasury, Chief White House economic advisers) are eminently qualified, (with long-term service to the financial oligarchy), to pursue Obama’s pro-Wall Street agenda. There is not a single member of his economic team, down to the lowest level of appointees, who represents or has defended the interests of the wage or salaried classes (or for that matter the large and small manufacturers from the devastated ‘productive’ industrial economy).

The Obama propagandists claim his appointments reflect his preference for ‘experience’ – which is true: his team members have plenty of ‘experience’ through their long and lucrative careers maximizing profits, buyouts and speculation favoring the financial sector. Obama does not want to have any young, untested appointees who have no long established records of serving Big Finance, whose interests are too central to Obama’s deepest and most strongly held core beliefs. He wanted reliable economic functionaries who recognize that re-financing billionaire financiers is the central task of his regime. The appointments of the Summers, Rubins, Geithners and Volkers fit perfectly with his ideology: They are the best choices to pursue his economic goals.

Critics of these nominations write of the ‘failures’ of these economists and their role in ‘bringing about the collapse of the financial system’. These critics fail to recognize that it is not their ‘failures’, which are the relevant criteria, but their unwavering commitment to the interests of Wall Street and their willingness to demand trillions of dollars more from US taxpayers to bolster their colleagues on Wall Street.

Under Clinton and Bush, in the run up to the financial collapse, they facilitated (‘deregulated’) the practice of swindling one hundred million Americans of trillions in private savings and pension funds. In the current crisis period with Obama they are just the right people to swindle the US Treasury of trillions of dollars in bailout funds to refinance their fellow oligarchs. The White President (Bush) leaves steaming financial turds all over the White House rugs and Wall Street summons the ‘historic’ Negro President Obama to organize the cleanup crew to scoop them out of public view.

Obama, the Militarist, Outdoes His Predecessor

What makes Obama a much more audacious militarist and Wall Streeter than Bush is that he intends to pursue military policies, which have already greatly harmed the US people with appointed officials who have already been discredited in the context of failed imperial wars and with a domestic economy in collapse. While Bush launched his wars after the US public had their accustomed peace shattered by an orchestrated fear-mongering after 9/11, Obama intends to launch his escalation of military spending in the context of a generalized public disenchantment with the ongoing wars, with monumental fiscal deficits, bloated military budgets and after 100,000 US soldiers have been killed, wounded or psychologically destroyed.

Obama’s appointments of Clinton, General Jim Jones, dual Israeli citizen Rahm Emanuel and super-Zionist Dennis Ross, among others, fit perfectly with his imperial-militarist agenda of escalating military aggression. His short list of intelligence candidates, likewise, fits perfectly with his all-out effort to "regain US world leadership" (reconstruct US imperial networks). All the media blather about Obama’s efforts at ‘bipartisanship’, ‘experience’ and ‘competence’ obscures the most fundamental questions: The specific nominees chosen from both parties are totally committed to military-driven empire-building. All are in favor of "a new effort to renew America’s standing in the world" (read ‘America’s imperial dominance in the world’), as Obama’s Secretary of State-to-be, Hillary Clinton, declared. General James Jones, Obama’s choice for National Security Advisor, presided over US military operations during the entire Abu Ghraib/Guantanemo period. He was a fervent supporter of the ‘troop surge’ in Iraq and is a powerful advocate for a huge increase in military spending, the expansion of the military by over 100,000 troops and the expanded militarization of American domestic society (not to mention his personal financial ties to the military industrial complex). Robert Gates, continuing as Obama’s Secretary of Defense, is a staunch supporter of unilateral, unlimited and universal imperial warfare. As the number of US-allied countries with troops in Iraq declines from 35 to only 5 by January 1, 2009 and even the Iraqi puppet regime calls for a withdrawal of all US troops by 2012, Gates, the intransigent, insists on a permanent military presence.

The issue of ‘experience’ revolves around two questions: (a) experience related to what past political practices? (b) experience relevant to pursue what future policies? All the nominees’ past experiences are related to imperial wars, colonial conquests and the construction of client states. Hiliary Clinton’s ‘experience’ was through her support for the bombing of Yugoslavia and the Nato invasion of Kosova, her promotion of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), an internationally recognized terrorist-criminal organization as well as the unrelenting bombings of Iraq in the 1990s, Bush’s criminal invasion of Iraq in 2003, Israel’s murderous bombing of civilian centers in Lebanon…and now full-throated calls for the ‘total obliteration of Iran’. Clinton, Gates and Jones have never in their mature political careers proposed the peaceful settlement of disputes with any adversary of the US or Israel. In other words, their vaunted ‘experience’ is based solely on their one-dimensional militarist approach to foreign relations.

‘Competence’, as an attribute again depends on the issue of ‘competence to do what’? In general terms, ‘The Three’ (Clinton, Gates and Jones), have demonstrated the greatest incompetence in extricating the US from prolonged, costly and lost colonial wars. They lack the minimum capacity to recognize that military-driven empire-building in the context of independent states is no longer feasible, that its costs can ruin an imperial economy and that prolonged wars erode their legitimacy in the eyes of their citizens.

Even within the framework of imperial geo-political strategic thinking, their positions exhibit the most dense incompetence: They blindly back a small, highly militarized and ideologically fanatical colonial state (Israel) against 1.5 billion Muslims living in oil and mineral resource-rich nations with lucrative markets and investment potential and situated in the strategic center of the world. They promote total wars against whole populations, as is occurring in Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia and, which, by all historical experience, cannot be won. They are truly ‘Masters of Defeat’.

The point of the matter is that Obama appointed the ‘Big Three’ for their experience, competence and bipartisan support in the pursuit of imperial wars. He overlooked their glaring failures, their gross violations of the basic norms of civilization (of the human rights of tens of millions civilians in sovereign nations) because of their willingness to pursue the illusions of a US-dominated new world order.

Conclusion

Nothing speaks to Obama’s deep and abiding commitment to become the savior of the US empire as clearly as his willingness to appoint to the highest position of policy making the most mediocre failed politicians and generals merely because of their demonstrated willingness to pursue the course of military-driven empire building even in the midst of a collapsing domestic economy and ever more impoverished and drained citizenry.

Just as Obama’s electoral campaign and subsequent victory will go into the annals as the political con-job of the new millennium, his economic and political appointments will mark another ‘historic’ moment: The nomination of corrupt and failed speculators and warmongers. Let us join the inaugural celebration of our ‘First Afro-American’ Imperial President, who wins by con and rules by guns!


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Peter Lemkin
12-08-2008, 09:52 AM
http://globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=11315

A Historic Moment: The Election of the Greatest Con-Man in Recent History

By James Petras

Global Research, December 7, 2008

[QUOTE]I am heartened by the track being taken by our president-elect. The war cabinet is in place, the ugly specter of peace has been banished for the foreseeable future, and the new Congress clearly will be no better able to deal with the nation's ills than was the old, thus fulfilling the sooth I have been saying these many months.

It will truly be interesting to see how this great nation responds to what promises to be an economic disaster that will surely equal the Great Depression in scope and longevity. I see no possibility of escaping ruinous inflation, real hardship (a thing the American people are not accustomed to) and, ultimately, political unrest of an order of magnitude not see in these latitudes since the Civil War. After the technocrats and academic fakers have had their way, and failed, the demagogues will crawl out of the woodwork and, to be sure, find a ready audience in this land of knuckle-draggers

Well, I wasn't expecting too much, so the disappointment is not as great as for many others. You simply can't be backed and elected to President now UNLESS you are part of the problem and not part of the solution. I think he'll be slightly less-worse than Bush, but that is saying nothing, about a nothing. The situation is bad - real bad - and getting worse on all fronts. I hear many on the radio and internet upset at his appointments, but waiting to give 'em a chance....well, OK, I'll give him a week - but won't hold my breath for the wars to end or the unPatriot Act to be repealed, investigation on the great crimes to begin, etc.

Most are just not willing to 'vote' every day; all day - by being citizen activists. Use it - or loose it. We got the least bad candidate....great! Now what...keep fighting and get rid of the two parties, that are one; get rid of the Oligarcy oppressing us and everyone else - all living things; fight damn it! - is everyone so lazy or so comfortable or so bought-out or afraid? The coming Depression [already started...but far, FAR from finished!] may awaken many - but many will also have a diminished voice; as it is harder to be active when survival is the first and last order of the day. There will come a tipping point soon, when there will be no way out of this mess - only to record for some visiting civilization from some other planet the death throws of the late human 'civilization', and all the other species they took with them.

The time is now. The only answer is us collectively. The problem is those in control, their rotten system, their lies and deception; and then those in denial or afraid to act. Don't take anything for granted - even the internet - they have the means to shut it off, should they want to - locally or selective sites/homes. Act as if your and other's lives depended upon it. They do!

Sorry, had to get that off my mind.....hard to watch the Planet and my Nation dying and not get upset. I don't think many realize how bad the situation now is...and is on track and roaring along right into oblivion, unless we change the direction 180 degrees, real soon!!! Yes, human societies have always been a 'mess', but this is an unprecidented mess - and the new tools in the hands of those in power are unprecidented, as well. We are running out of the luxury of time....IMO.

Peter Lemkin
12-08-2008, 08:05 PM
Interesting compilation by Scahill on Obama...read and weep...or laugh...or vomit.

Right-Wingers and Neocons Love Obama's Cabinet Appointments
Posted by Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet at 9:51 AM on November 30, 2008.
http://www.alternet.org/blogs/peek/109160/right-wingers_and_neocons_love_obama's_cabinet_appointme nts/
"[T]he new administration is off to a good start."
-- Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell.

"[S]uperb ... the best of the Washington insiders ... this will be a valedictocracy -- rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes."
-- David Brooks, conservative New York Times columnist

"[V]irtually perfect ... "
-- Senator Joe Lieberman, former Democrat and John McCain's top surrogate in the 2008 campaign.

"[R]eassuring."
-- Karl Rove, "Bush's brain."

"I am gobsmacked by these appointments, most of which could just as easily have come from a President McCain ... this all but puts an end to the 16-month timetable for withdrawal from Iraq, the unconditional summits with dictators, and other foolishness that once emanated from the Obama campaign ... [Hillary] Clinton and [James] Steinberg at State should be powerful voices for 'neo-liberalism' which is not so different in many respects from 'neo-conservativism.'"
-- Max Boot, neoconservative activist, former McCain staffer.

"I see them as being sort of center-right of the Democratic party."
-- James Baker, former Secretary of State and the man who led the theft of the 2000 election.

"[S]urprising continuity on foreign policy between President Bush's second term and the incoming administration ... certainly nothing that represents a drastic change in how Washington does business. The expectation is that Obama is set to continue the course set by Bush ... "
-- Michael Goldfarb of the neoconservative Weekly Standard.

"I certainly applaud many of the appointments ... "
-- Senator John McCain

"So far, so good."
-- Senator Lamar Alexander, senior Republican Congressional leader.

Hillary Clinton will be "outstanding" as Secretary of State
-- Henry Kissinger, war criminal

Rahm Emanuel is "a wise choice" in the role of Chief of Staff
-- Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, John McCain's best friend.

Obama's team shows "Our foreign policy is non-partisan."
-- Ed Rollins, top Republican strategist and Mike Huckabee's 2008 campaign manager

"The country will be in good hands."
-- Condoleezza Rice, George W. Bush's Secretary of State

David Guyatt
12-09-2008, 10:23 AM
When Adminitrations change but the basic and most important policies do not, it is a clear sign that other invisible forces are truly in control.

Having said that, the electoral process of our democratic west is a charade in any case, designed to lull people into believing a sham dream that they have a say in how politics work and how their money is spent. They do not. Matters of state are far too important to be left to chance and the whim of the citizen casting their votes.

What is so sad, however, is that when the next great hope comes along in a decade or so he/she will receive the same adoration of those same tens of millions -- who held Obama so high in their esteem -- and will also fail miserably to live up to their hopes and expectations.

The democratic process is a fixed roulette wheel and it will remain fixed so long as punters continue to enter the Casino and spin the wheel.

And by God they will...

Dawn Meredith
12-10-2008, 12:07 PM
When Adminitrations change but the basic and most important policies do not, it is a clear sign that other invisible forces are truly in control.

Having said that, the electoral process of our democratic west is a charade in any case, designed to lull people into believing a sham dream that they have a say in how politics work and how their money is spent. They do not. Matters of state are far too important to be left to chance and the whim of the citizen casting their votes.

What is so sad, however, is that when the next great hope comes along in a decade or so he/she will receive the same adoration of those same tens of millions -- who held Obama so high in their esteem -- and will also fail miserably to live up to their hopes and expectations.

The democratic process is a fixed roulette wheel and it will remain fixed so long as punters continue to enter the Casino and spin the wheel.

And by God they will...

David:
I totallyy agree with you but what do we do instead? Just give up and let the bastards destroy the planet? They are well into that already. I was listening to Alex Jones on coast to coast the other night and he was talking about how this economic collapse has been planned for sometime now. Alex has been saying it for years. (He's my hometown hellraiser to me, love the guy). So even though we here know it's all controlled, people in the US can still be a sucker for a guy who promises change and peace. Compared to the devestation under the Bush empire Obama has got to be better. But the bar is now so low. I admit that I was EXCITED on election night. I recall many on the EF predicting that there would be no election, Bush would just remain.
And perhaps he "has". I can only expect the worst and hope it does not occur.
Dawn

David Guyatt
12-11-2008, 09:51 AM
The first thing to do imo, is to recognize that the democratic system is not broken, but fixed and, therefore, taking part in that process is simply playing someone else's game (which they are delighted for you to do).

If you know a Casino has a fixed wheel, you don't go in and play. Ditto the democratic system. Actively don't vote.

Richard Welser
12-14-2008, 02:53 AM
you know, the only problem with joining this site is the volume of reading added to the volume of reading I already had....

Jesus. I'm not a 'religious' guy but, holy crap. It seems the biggest problem I now have is simply trying to keep up. Events are happening in greater frequency and quantity.

The only quibble I have with a comment made way above here somewhere had to do with religious Jesus folks reacting .. or some such.

Just a personal anecdote...... snip, sorry. my error, due to cautious, paranoid second thoughts...

So as we make comments about Christians, or other groups.... may be they are accurate for the standard, main stream Baptists, whatever, .... but they are not accurate for others......

Richard Welser
12-15-2008, 12:59 AM
By way of apology, nobody in any previous post said anything out of sorts. I only ended up deleting some of what wrote, deciding instead to be a bit more circumspect.

Sorry if any confusion.... especially mine .... had some rum and eggnog left over and decided to consume it. Now, I'm five pounds heavier.

David Guyatt
12-15-2008, 09:27 AM
I recommend fine red wine Richard. One can have a bad morning with it in the absolute knowledge that it is good for your heart even if your wallet is unlikely to easily recover anytime soon... :D

Mark Stapleton
12-16-2008, 04:24 AM
When Adminitrations change but the basic and most important policies do not, it is a clear sign that other invisible forces are truly in control.

Having said that, the electoral process of our democratic west is a charade in any case, designed to lull people into believing a sham dream that they have a say in how politics work and how their money is spent. They do not. Matters of state are far too important to be left to chance and the whim of the citizen casting their votes.

What is so sad, however, is that when the next great hope comes along in a decade or so he/she will receive the same adoration of those same tens of millions -- who held Obama so high in their esteem -- and will also fail miserably to live up to their hopes and expectations.

The democratic process is a fixed roulette wheel and it will remain fixed so long as punters continue to enter the Casino and spin the wheel.

And by God they will...

I doubt I would have said this three years ago, but I agree with every word of this post, David.

I'm on board, albeit a little late.

David Guyatt
12-16-2008, 12:29 PM
It's truly sad Mark, but reality is reality and should not be confused with wish fulfillment...

Mark Stapleton
12-17-2008, 12:08 AM
It's truly sad Mark, but reality is reality and should not be confused with wish fulfillment...

Exactly.

There's a few assassination researchers who have trouble accepting reality, too.

Paul Rigby
05-04-2009, 06:32 PM
It's truly sad Mark, but reality is reality and should not be confused with wish fulfillment...

http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/status-quobama-hundred-days-fake-progressive-bs-and-liberal-left-surrender


Status QuObama: A Hundred Days of Fake-Progressive BS and Liberal-Left Surrender

The nation's first Black president proceeds unmolested by the Left as he moves mountains of money in a crusade to save the investment banking class. Anti-war forces dissolve into nothingness as Barack Obama extends the U.S. occupation of Iraq indefinitely. A new theater of war called Af-Pak coagulates in South Asia, yet benumbed "progressives" praise their president as the consummate man of peace. "By demanding nothing of Obama and the Democrats except that they not technically be Republicans, our so-called "progressive" organizations effectively grant advance approval to whatever corporate and imperial policies the new president and the Democrats execute."

by Paul Street

"The new White House, with its first black president, its first black Attorney General, and its first black Ambassador to the UN decided not to be present at the world's leading forum to address international race relations."

Barack Obama's media maven David Axelrod recently told the Los Angeles Times that "Barack Obama wasn't elected to stand guard over the status quo; he was elected to change it." Insofar as Axelrod is right on why millions of voters supported Obama, the obvious question is "so what?"

Obama was selected by the predominantly corporate and imperial establishment in advance precisely to, well, preserve the capitalist, imperial, and racial status quo.

THE "HIDDEN PRIMARY"

Every four years, many Americans are fooled into investing their hopes in an electoral process that does not deserve their trust. These voters are led by the dominant (so-called "mainstream") corporate media and the broader U.S. political culture and thought-control system to hope that a savior can be installed in the White House - someone who will raise wages, roll back war and militarism, provide universal and adequate health care, rebuild the nation's infrastructure, produce high-paying jobs, fix the environmental crisis, reduce inequality, guarantee economic security, and generally make daily life more livable.

The dreams are regularly drowned in the icy waters of historical and political "reality." In the actuality of American politics and policy, the officially "electable" candidates are vetted in advance by what Laurence Shoup calls "the hidden primary of the ruling class."

By prior Establishment selection, all of the "viable" presidential contenders are closely tied to corporate and military-imperial power in numerous and interrelated ways. They run safely within the narrow ideological and policy parameters set by those who rule behind the scenes to make sure that the rich and privileged continue to be the leading beneficiaries of the American system.


"All of the ‘viable' presidential contenders are closely tied to corporate and military-imperial power in numerous and interrelated ways."

In its presidential as in its other elections, U.S. "democracy" is "at best" a "guided one; at its worst it is a corrupt farce, amounting to manipulation, consistent with the larger population projects of propaganda in a controlled and trivialized electoral process. It is an illusion," Shoup claims - correctly in my opinion - "that real change can ever come from electing a different ruling class-sponsored candidate." (Laurence H. Shoup, "The Presidential Election 2008," Z Magazine, February 2008).

While he advances the illusion of change through corporate-controlled elections with a special flair, "Brand Obama" is no special or magical exception to this harsh reality.

As recent reports on Obama's "first 100 days" make clear, the dominant (so-called "mainstream") corporate media is propagating the foolish notion that the new president has in fact acted impressively on his purported mandate to "change the status quo." The deeper reality of the new administration is straight out of Shoup: preservation of the existing order.

My article in last week's Black Agenda Report (titled "Race Cowardice From the Top Down") was dedicated to Obama's deep conservatism on race. This essay focuses on Obama service to the related and combined structures of American empire and capitalism, both of which are of course richly racialized.

OBAMA AND THE EMPIRE

The Occupation Lives On

Obama won his epic primary battle with Hillary Clinton largely because he was able to convince much of the Democratic Party's liberal base to believe in the fairy tale that he was a strong and consistent opponent of George W. Bush and Hillary's arch-criminal invasion of Iraq. The fantasy lives on. Reading the fine print on Obama's Iraq plan, however, it is evident that he intends to sustain the occupation of that country into the indefinite future. He will keep at least 50,000 troops in Iraq well after the August 2010 combat troop withdrawal date he campaigned on.. Many of the troops who stay will be in combat units re-designated as "Advisory" brigades, a new classification that George Orwell would appreciate. Obama's "withdrawal" plan "says nothing about the private contractors and mercenaries that are an essential part of the occupation and whose numbers may even be increased to cover functions previously provided by active-duty troops. ...It will leave in place the world's largest foreign embassy, as well as the world's largest CIA foreign station, in Baghdad." The U.S will maintain critical control over Iraqi skies and a significant naval and air presence "over the horizon."


"It is evident that he intends to sustain the occupation of that country into the indefinite future."

So much for a rapid end to the occupation, long supported by the great majority of Iraqis, not to mention most Americans since 2005.

The Doctrine of Good Intentions

Recently, Obama added occupation insult to injury during his visit to so-called "Camp Victory" in Iraq. Consistent with his longstanding support for the Doctrine of America's Good and Democratic Intentions on the global stage, Obama said that its time for the Iraqis to step up to the plate and "take responsibility" for the "democracy" and "sovereignty" the noble United States has so benevolently granted them. This was a nauseating thing to say more than six years into a brazenly imperial and petro-colonial invasion that Obama is finding ways to continue against the expressed will of the Iraqi people.

Beyond the fact that Iraqis have been standing up against the foreign invaders in the name of national sovereignty since the beginning of the U.S. invasion, Obama's claim of benevolent U.S intent is Orwellian in light of the unimaginable havoc we have wreaked in Mesopotamia, including more than 1 million killed, a vast out-exodus of the professional class and the near-collapse of Iraqi infrastructure, all following in the wake of an earlier devastating U.S. military attack and more than a decade of mass-murderous U.S.-led "economic sanctions. As the respected veteran Middle East journalist Nir Rosen recently said on Democracy Now two weeks ago, we've created a Hell in Iraq, not a free democracy.

Kooky Conspiracy Talk on "Af-Pak"

Meanwhile, Obama is increasing the level of imperial violence in Afghanistan and in nuclear Pakistan. He brushed off Afghanistan president Karzai's plea for the U.S. to stop killing Afghans and for the U.S. to propose some sort of timeline for ending our illegal occupation of that country. Karzai's minimal assertions of national independence have irked Obama, who is increasing the U.S. force presence in Afghanistan, a legendary graveyard of empires.

Noam Chomsky reasonably expects Karzai to be placed under the supervision of a U.S. imperial surrogate who will essentially run the country from Washington.

"Obama is expanding the United States' not-so covert war in Pakistan."

It would be nice to report that the real source of Obama's irritation with Karzai was that the Afghan president recently signed a law that worsens the terrible oppression of women in Afghanistan. But when asked about that law, Obama made it clear that women's right have little to do with his "new strategy" for Afghanistan, which is all about "defeat al Qaeda ."

At the same time, Obama is expanding the United States' not-so covert war in Pakistan. As the Middle East expert and University of Michigan historian Juan Cole has been saying of late, Obama has bought into a recycled version of the crackpot Cold War conspiracy and "domino theory." In Obama's "updated, al Qaida version" of the domino thesis, Cole notes, "the Taliban might take Kuna Province, and then all of Afghanistan, and might again host al-Qaida, and might then threaten the shores of the United States."

Pakistan is added on to Afghanistan by Obama like Cambodia was added on to its neighbor Vietnam by President Nixon. This time however, the dangerous territorial expansion is openly acknowledged with Obama merging the two nations "into one theater of war, called Af-Pak" (Glen Ford).

As Cole observes, Obama's call to arms is no more credible than Dick Cheney and John McCain's raving about the danger of an "al-Qaida victory in Iraq." The Taliban and al Qaeda are nowhere close to being able to take over Afghanistan and Pakistan. If anything, Cole notes, the greatest thing working on the weak Pakistani Taliban's behalf is the occurrence of U.S. Predator drone strikes on Pakistani territory, which help the extremists seem like sympathetic victims to parts of the Pakistani public.

Standard Double Standards on the Middle East, Race, and Cuba

Obama is continuing core Bush policies on Israel and Iran. He refuses to pay honest attention to the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people, about whose fate he stayed sickeningly mute during the savage U.S.-Israel assault on Gaza last December and January - an attack that conveniently ended on the day of his inauguration.

"Obama refuses to pay honest attention to the legitimate grievances of the Palestinian people."

Obama lectures Arabs on their duty to "unclench [their] fist[s] but says nothing about Israel's murderously employed fists and refuses to acknowledge the well-known fact that Israel is a heavily nuclearized state in the Middle East. He continues the Bush administration practice of ignoring the Palestinians' elected government and refuses to acknowledge that continuing illegal Israeli incursions into the West Bank make the official U.S. goal of a two-state Israel-Palestine solution impossible.

Obama is continuing the basic Bush policy of encouraging an anti-Iran alliance between the Israeli occupation state and so-called "moderate" Arab states. These "moderate" states include Egypt's atrocious dictatorship and Saudi Arabia, the most reactionary government on Earth. All of these states continue to be lavishly funded by the U.S.

Obama has followed in George W. Bush's footsteps by boycotting the second international United Nations conference on racism, the so-called "Durban II" gathering in Switzerland this month and for the same two basic reasons as Bush. First, the conference dares to raise the issue of slavery reparations. Second, the conference dares to discuss the racism experienced by Arab Palestinians under the apartheid-like system in the occupied territories. And so the new White House, with its first black president, its first black Attorney General, and its first black Ambassador to the UN decided not to be present at the world's leading forum to address international race relations.

Meanwhile, Obama resorts to off-the-books, so-called supplemental funding of the colonial Iraq and Afghanistan Wars - a deceptive war-financing method that Bush pioneered and which Obama said he would abandon.

He sustains the crushing 47-year trade embargo and the American travel ban on Cuba, rejecting broad Latin American sentiment and even the opinion of some Republicans. He insists on trying to punish and undermine Cuban socialism, which can never be forgiven for daring to modernize and develop outside and against the supervision of Uncle Sam.

A Tortuous Record on Habeas Corpus and Torture

Then there's Obama's interesting record on human rights and torture. Last February the Obama administration filed a federal brief that embraced the Bush administration's position against habeas corpus as long as the "enemy combatants" are seized abroad and flown to the Bagram Air Force prison in Afghanistan instead of to Guantanamo.

Two Thursday ago, the Obama Justice Department expressed its determination to protect CIA torturers from prosecution after it released memorandums on the Bush administration's extreme torture practices. Those memorandums only saw the light of day because of a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union. By announcing in advance that it will not go after the direct torturers, the Obama administration has destroyed its ability to use the threat of prosecution as a way of getting CIA personnel to testify against the top officials who formulated the Bush torture policy. It also disturbingly echoes the Nazi's defense of human right perpetrators on the grounds that the criminals were just following orders.

"The Obama administration has destroyed its ability to use the threat of prosecution as a way of getting CIA personnel to testify against the top officials."

As the Justice Department released the memos spelling out brutal CIA interrogation methods a couple weeks ago, Obama said that "nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past" (New York Times, April 17, 2009). This from a former and supposedly liberal law professor, someone who should be expected to understand that one investigates and punishes past human rights crimes precisely in order to discourage and prevent their occurrence in the present and future. It's true that Obama subsequently seemed to relent a bit in the face of a wave of civil-libertarian disgust and said that his Attorney General Eric Holder might want to investigate the Bush administration lawyers who approved torture. But don't look for much from Holder. As one of my regular ZNet readers recently noted, "Holder was a key figure in the early days of Bush's 'dark side' policies, breaking ranks (if one can call the weak Democratic Party opposition ‘ranks') to support Bush's denial of Geneva protections to detainees."

As the New York Times reported nine days ago, citing top White House aides, moreover, Obama "opted to disclose the memos because his lawyers worried that they had a weak case for withholding them and much of the information had already been published in the New York Review of Books, in a memoir by George Tenent, the former CIA Director, and even in a 2006 speech by President George W. Bush." (New York Times, April 21, 2009, A1).

Now we have Obama and the Democratic leadership in the Senate signaling that they will block efforts to set up an independent commission to investigate the Bush torture policy. Obama spokesperson Robert Gibbs justifies this sickening position by saying that "this is not a time for retribution" and that "we're all best suited looking forward."

"My Most Agonizing Decision"

Revealingly enough, when Obama went to Langley last week to reassure CIA staffers of his safety to their interests, Obama said that his decision to release the torture memos was the "most agonizing" call of his presidency so far. I heard that line on the evening news and turned off my television. "Wow," I said. "The was his ‘most agonizing' decision so far - reluctantly agreeing under legal compulsion to release documents showing a previous administration's human right crimes. Not his decision to launch missiles and expand illegal wars certain to kill children and other civilians in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Not his decision to hand out yet more hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars to Wall Street parasites while poverty rises across the nation and the world. Not his decision to increase the war and military budget while destitution expands at home and abroad.

OBAMA AND CAPITALISM

"Keeping Perpetrators Afloat"

Turning to the home front, Obama refuses to advance the obvious cost-cutting and social democratic health care solution - single-payer national health insurance (improved Medicare for all). Consistent with his recent description of himself as a "New [that is corporate] Democrat," Obama will spend untold trillions of dollars on further taxpayer handouts to the giant Wall Street firms who spent millions on his campaign and who drove the economy over the cliff. He is too attached to those firms and to their so-called "free market" ideology to undertake the elementary bank nationalizations and public financial restructuring that are obviously required to put the nation's credit system on a sound and socially responsible basis. Obama's plan to guarantee the financial, insurance, and real estate industries' toxic, hyper-inflated assets while keeping existing Wall Street management in place amounts to a giant effort (according to liberal economist James K. Gailbraith) to "keep perpetrators afloat" at a cost of at least one trillion taxpayer dollars. The program amounts to what leading liberal economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman calls a "coin flip" in which "investors win if its heads and taxpayers lose if its tails." The government (identical to the people in a functioning democracy) takes more than 90 percent of the risk but private investors reap at least half the reward.

Fake-Progressive Chest-Pounding/ "No Peace Dividend"

Obama pounds his chest about executive bonuses and makes carefully orchestrated visits expressing concern about poverty and job-loss to places like Pomona, California and Elkhart, Indiana. But it's all a public relations game crafted to provide fake-progressive cover for his corporate, Wall Street agenda and for his related commitment to the unmentionable 1$ trillion-a-year Pentagon budget, which pays for more than 760 bases across more than 130 nations and accounts for nearly half the military spending on earth - all in the name of "defense." The leading Wall Street investment firm and bailout recipient Morgan Stanley reported one day after Obama's election victory that Obama "has been advised and agrees that there is no peace dividend."

"Change Means More of the Same"

Early last April the New York Times published an article with an ironic title: "In Cuba, Change Means More of the Same." This "news" item reports that "rather than dismantling Cuba's socialist framework," Cuba's President Raul Castro "seems to be trying to make it work more efficiently." Castro, the Times reports, seeks to keep power concentrated "at the top." But what is U.S. President Barack Obama - Mr. "Change" himself - trying to accomplish other than to make the American corporate profits system "work more efficiently" without "dismantling the [capitalist] framework" and with power (and wealth) still concentrated "at the top?"

"It's all a public relations game crafted to provide fake-progressive cover for his corporate, Wall Street agenda."

As the Times acknowledged last March in an article titled "English-Speaking Capitalism on Trial," Obama and his neoliberal partner Gordon Brown, the British Prime Minister, have "focused on ways of revitalizing the [existing] system.... Even as both men have embarked on enormous increases in public-sector spending," Times correspondents John Burns and Landon Thomas noted, "they have maintained that the solutions to the crisis lie in reawakening the markets and recapitalizing the banks rather than tearing at the system's foundations. And both, when they respond to private anger at the private sector, have seemed more geared to managing anger than stoking it."

As the prolific Marxist geographer David Harvey recently observed on "Democracy Now," "what [the Obama team is] trying to do is to reinvent the same system" - to "reconstitute the same sort of capitalism we have had over and over again over the last thirty years in a slightly more regulated, benevolent form" that doesn't "challenge the fundamentals"

"Conservative Solutions to Radical Problems"

Meanwhile, Obama's tepid and undersized stimulus plan is dysfunctionally over-loaded with business-friendly tax cuts and too short on labor-intensive projects to put people to work right away. He says nothing or close to it about the overdue labor law reform he campaigned on, the Employee Free Choice Act, which ought, as Noam Chomsky recently argued, to be at the heart and center of any reasonably progressive economic recovery program. Worse, Obama speaks in support of the anti-union, teacher-bashing, and test-based corporate education agenda, advocating teacher "merit pay" and charter schools. He makes a public visit (in support of his stimulus bill) to the headquarters of Caterpillar, a provider of bulldozers for illegal Israeli settlements. Caterpillar was also the first large U.S. manufacturer in decades to break a major strike with scabs.

"Obama says nothing or close to it about the overdue labor law reform he campaigned on, the Employee Free Choice Act."

Praised by political and media elites for the skill with which he and his handlers are "managing expectations," Obama fails to advance elementary and urgently needed progressive measures like a moratorium on foreclosures, a capping of credit card interest rates and finance charges, and the rollback of capital income tax rates to 1981 (not just 1993) levels. He won't let the government enter into the business of making direct mortgage loans. Even before the inauguration, Obama committed himself to so-called "entitlement reform," code language for claiming to cut the federal deficit by chipping away at Medicare and Social Security - by taking a pound of flesh from the incomes and health of senior citizens.

His federal restructuring of the auto industry is bound to lead to yet more wage and pension cuts for current and retired auto workers. His refusal to undertake such restructuring on Wall Street, which collapsed the economy, reflects the enormous political power of the street's great firms but many labor progressive also think it may reflect the fact there are no great institutions of working class power like the UAW to be undermined on Wall Street. Consistent with that suspicion, Obama's aides defend him against the charge that he is wimpy when it comes to confronting powerful institutions by praising him for "picking fights" with "main components of the Democratic base, like organized labor" (New York Times, April 19, 2009, Sec.1, p.1) - as if unions instead of capitalist corporations were the real source of money and power in Washington.

The liberal-progressive economist Robert Kuttner, who hoped passionately for a "progressive" Obama presidency, is sorely disappointed, noting that the new chief executive is advancing "conservative solutions to radical problems." Kuttner's thwarted dreams for Obama are summarized in a rapidly written book published before the election under the revealing (see below) title "Obama's Challenge."

[i]Socialism for the Rich and Capitalism for the Rest

Meanwhile, a rising number of citizens in "the world's richest nation" face new challenges in the struggle simply to keep a roof over their heads and food in their bellies. Badly damaged by a vicious 1990s welfare "reform" (elimination) that Obama has repeatedly praised as a great policy success, the nation's public family cash assistance system is too weak to match the expansion of destitution across America even as the new president advances a new level of Wall Street Welfare. Tent cities, modern-day Hoovervilles for the evicted and foreclosed, have sprung up in more than a dozen U.S. cities. Foreclosures dipped briefly while the mortgage companies waited for the details on Obama's tepid housing plan. But foreclosures are surging again and unemployment continues to expand as Obama speaks of "glimmers of [economic] hope" and while Fed Chief Bernake claims to discern "green shoots" of recovery.
"Wall Street paychecks and bonuses are soaring back to 2007 levels."

And yet last Sunday's New York Times reports on page one that pay at the nation's leading investment banks, after falling off last year, is, yes, bouncing back to stratospheric heights. Wall Street paychecks and bonuses are soaring back to 2007 levels, thanks in no small measure to the fact that the bankers can borrow cheaply, with all those federal guarantees. It's party time again on the street, thanks to the $600 billion committed under the TARP, the vast credit lines proffered by the Fed, expanded F.D.I.C. guarantees, the government bailout of AIG, and the like...thanks to not-so Temporary Assistance for not so Needy Banks,
A recent glowing Los Angeles Times assessment of Obama's first hundred Days reproduces an interesting statement from Obama to the leaders of the banking industry last March. As the financial chieftains began to complain to him about the public's failure to understand their industry's need for high levels of compensation, Obama cut them off. "Be careful how you make those statements," Obama said. "The public isn't buying that. My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks."

As a student who told me about this Los Angeles Times story writes, "The question for me (and I assume for many leftists) is why is Obama using his administration to protect the bankers from the angry rabble (us)? Why doesn't his administration simply address the people's needs and leave the bankers to their fate? These are, of course, rhetorical questions. We know that he is serving to protect and legitimate the highly undemocratic and destructive class system of state capitalism through another crisis."

"What's the Dollar Value of a Starry-Eyed Idealist?"

It's not for nothing that Obama received a record-setting $38 million from the financial, real estate, and insurance industries in the last election cycle, including close to $1 million from Goldman Sachs alone. Government Sachs and Morgan Stanley and AIG are not in the business of handing over the White House to progressive enemies of Empire and Inequality, Incorporated.

"Morgan Stanley and AIG are not in the business of handing over the White House to progressive enemies."

"It's not always clear what Obama's financial backers want," Ken Silverstein noted in the fall of 2006, "but it seems safe to conclude that his campaign contributors are not interested merely in clean government and political reform - a reasonable judgment given well-known facts on the purposes behind election finance at the upper levels. "On condition of anonymity," Silverstein reported, "one Washington lobbyist I spoke with was willing to point out the obvious: that big donors would not be helping out Obama if they didn't see him as a ‘player.' The lobbyist added: ‘What's the dollar value of a starry-eyed idealist?'"
The Invisible Color of the Crisis

Two and a half years later, the crisis of black and Latino communities deepens with special pain and invisibility. Following the usual racial pattern in the long history of American business cycles, the Great Recession is hitting people of color harder than it is hitting whites. The rising official black poverty and unemployment rates continue (as usual) to hover around double that of whites.

This "little" problem is rarely discussed in the "mainstream" political and media culture. It doesn't help, of course, that the new administration stays militantly silent on the nation's savage racial inequalities and the institutional racism that continues to feed those disparities in the age of Obama, consistent with the extreme race-neutralism of the Obama campaign (see Paul Street, "Race Cowardice from the Top Down," Black Agenda Report. April 22, 2009) - this even after Obama's technically black Attorney General made a speech (last February) arguing that the U.S. in a "nation of cowards" on race.

"The new administration stays militantly silent on the nation's savage racial inequalities."

Domestic Private Assault Weapons Live On

With rising economic insecurity, the population becomes more and more dangerously unraveled. Domestic gun violence is in the rise and yet even as we endure a record epidemic of mass shootings, the "pragmatic" Obama has recently suggested that he will abandon yet another campaign promise by failing to fight in Congress to renew the ban on assault weapons that expired in 2004.

[b]LEFT" SURRENDER: OUR CHALLENGE, NOT OBAMA'S

"We Were Warned"

Progressive activists and intellectuals are right to be angered about the new president's short but already clear record of centrist imperial and state-capitalist governance and "expectation management." But as Naomi Klein noted some weeks ago, they have no right to be disappointed or surprised. Obama's post-election trajectory is thoroughly predictably given well-known limits and incentive in the dominant, corporate-crafted U.S. political culture and party system and in light of numerous warnings about the Obama phenomenon that various Left activists and intellectuals over recent years.

As Scott Horton noted last March on Antiwar.com, "those who bought into the slogans ‘Hope' and ‘Change' last fall should have read the fine print. We were warned."

Indeed, candidate Obama's speeches to elite establishment bodies like the Council on Foreign Relations and his presentations to institutions like NASDAQ and wealth funders and newspaper editorial boards sent strong signals of his basic underlying safety to - and belief in - dominant domestic and global hierarchies and doctrines.

"Obama has consistently surrounded himself with elite agents of corporate and imperial power."

From the start of his campaign and through his cabinet selections and appointments, moreover, Obama has consistently surrounded himself with elite agents of corporate and imperial power, people like James Jones, Rahm Emmanuel, Lawrence Summers and Timothy Geithner. Obama's claim that he will provide the "vision" to move such corporate and imperial operatives in a "progressive" direction is like a baseball manager claiming that he's going to build a team based on speed and defense with a roster full of clumsy, slow-footed 280-pound power hitters.

"Incapable of Action or In Obama's Pocket"

Furthermore, progressives need to take a certain degree of responsibility for Obama's behavior. The absence of spine and intelligence on the part of what passes for a Left in the U.S. is quite remarkable. By demanding nothing of Obama and the Democrats except that they not technically be Republicans, our so-called "progressive" organizations effectively grant advance approval to whatever corporate and imperial policies the new president and the Democrats execute.

Real progressive change is our challenge, not Obama's. But many of us on the left don't seem terribly interested in meeting the test. As John Judis has argued in even the centrist journal The New Republic, a major reason that Obama has been able to go forward with a conservative and inadequate economic plan "is that there is no popular left movement agitating for him to go" further..."Sure," Judis writes, "there are leftwing intellectuals ...beating the drums for nationalizing the banks and for a $1 trillion-plus stimulus. But I," Judis argued, "am...referring to movements that stir up trouble and get people angry. Instead, what exists of a popular left is either incapable of action or in Obama's pocket." By Judis' analysis, the U.S. labor movement and groups like "Moveon.Org" are repeating the same "mistake that political groups often make" - the mistake of "subordinating their concern about issues to their support for the Democratic Party and its leading politician."

"What exists of a popular left is either incapable of action or in Obama's pocket."

The antiwar movement is disbanding itself, essentially defeated by the nation's first black president. The Congressional Quarterly claims that the anti-war movement is paying the price of "its own success." But that's baloney. As BAR's Glen Ford points out. "The anti-war movement has hit rock-bottom because of its failure to challenge this particular president, an imperialist with charm, a warmonger with a winning smile. Obama has whipped them, but good."

This is exactly what John Pilger and I predicted would result from an Obama presidency last year - the abject surrender and pacification of the antiwar movement based on the fairly tale notion of Obama as an antiwar president.

Meanwhile, the dominant U.S. labor federations are on board with Obama's inadequate corporate health care and economic stimulus plans.. They remain remarkably respectful and relatively mute in their public commentary on Obama's apparent reluctance to push the EFCA. Grotesquely enough, SEIU president Andy Stern is an open and vicious opponent of single-payer national health insurance, itself supported by most Americans.

Meanwhile, the left Democratic journal The Nation has absurdly called Obama's tepid budget proposal "an audacious plan to transform America" in progressive ways. Progressive filmmaker Michael Moore proclaimed absurdly that Obama's auto restructuring plan sends the message that "the government of, by, and for the people is in charge here, not big business."

"You Can Carp and Gripe"

According to the liberal historian Alan Lichtman, assessing Obama's First Hundred Days for two Los Angeles Times reporters, "you can carp and gripe. But you really have to go back as far as Franklin Roosevelt for this much coming out of a newly elected president." Besides forgetting the example of Lyndon Johnson, Lichtman elegantly obliterates the question of the empire- and inequality-friendly content and power-preserving nature of what it is exactly that is and isn't coming out of the White House. The liberal academic's pithy comment also managed to identify substantive criticism of the new administration as negativistic fault-finding and complaining - a standard charge against anyone who dares to criticize concentrated power from the left.

"Progressives Can Only Hope..."

"The most progressive aspects of the New Deal owed their existence to working class protest."

Leading left-liberal Democratic economists/public intellectuals Robert Kuttner and Paul Krugman hope for "a new New Deal" under Obama. They fail, however, to mention the significant extent to which the most progressive aspects of the New Deal owed their existence to working class protest and to related left-wing activism during the 1930s. In a New York Times column titled "Franklin Delano Obama" six days after the election, Krugman wrote that "Mr. Obama's chances of leading a new New Deal depend largely on whether his short-term economic plans are sufficiently bold. Progressives," Krugman counseled, "can only hope that he has the necessary audacity."

Just yesterday (I am writing on the morning of April 28, 2009), Krugman said the following at the end of a column that criticized Wall Street bankers for believing that they will soon be able to return to their pre-2008 norm of making outrageous profits off other people's money: "We can only hope that our leaders prove them wrong, and carry through with real reform."

In "Obama's Challenge," Kuttner hoped that the onset of "the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression," will lead Obama to shows his colors as "that rare transformational leader" who "educates" the "people on behalf of expansive uses of progressive government" through the "force of [his] own character."

Progressives can only hope that the great, wise, and wonderful wizard of Obama can have the audacity to save the day? Hello?

"Only When it Has Encountered Rebellion From Below"

Krugman and Kuttner might want to take a look at Howard Zinn's bestselling volume A People's History of the United States or at Francis Fox Piven and Richard Cloward's classic study Poor Peoples' Movement: How They Succeed and Why They Fail, to review some elementary lessons on how big progressive change occurs. These studies demonstrate in rich historical detail how direct action, social disruption, and the threat of radical change from the bottom up forced social and political reform benefiting working- and lower-class and black people during the 1930s and the 1960s. They show the critical role played by grassroots social movements and popular resistance in educating presidents and the broader power elite on the need for change. As Zinn noted two springs ago, "The Democratic Party has broken with its historic conservatism, its pandering to the rich, its predilection for war, only when it has encountered rebellion from below, as in the Thirties and the Sixties."

As Obama himself (along with John Edwards) repeatedly noted during the campaign, in a comment that has not fallen from his lips since he reached the White House, "change doesn't happen from the top down. Change happens from the bottom up." And here we might add that change from the bottom up happens through the painstaking creation and expansion of grassroots social forces and organizations beneath and beyond the great quadrennial corporate-crafted mass marketed narrow-spectrum and candidate centered electoral and media extravaganzas that pass for the only politics that matter in the United States.

Paul Street (paulstreet99@yahoo.com) is a political commentator and author in Iowa City, IA. He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Paradigm, 2004); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (Routledge, 2005); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History (Rowman & Littlefied, 2007), and Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Paradigm, 2008).

David Healy
05-05-2009, 12:58 AM
It's truly sad Mark, but reality is reality and should not be confused with wish fulfillment...

Exactly.

There's a few assassination researchers who have trouble accepting reality, too.

it appears there are MANY alleged JFK assassination researchers even, who can't wait for the demise of the United States of America. I wonder why? :hmmmm2: