Originally created 11/16/2008
Our democratic ritual was met with an unusual amount of hosannas owing the historic nature of its victor. It does represent something that a minority could rise to the nation’s highest office–it does indicate that the country has made some progress through its tumultuous history.
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However, I think the Onion may have had it the best in its own assessment of this supposed history. It would seem to me all the better than an African-American become the next Bill Gates or Sam Walton, or be the scientist who cures cancer or some other such advance, rather than be a president. But even the cynicism of government distrust cannot fully obfuscate what was achieved by Barack Obama. Roderick Long noted: “I’m more pleased than not with the results of yesterday’s election (meaning pleased that Obama won out over McCain, not pleased that we got ourselves yet another president). Sure, Obama is a corporate liberal whose policies are not really any less fascistic or imperialistic than McCain’s, but a) he at least seems less trigger-happy than McCain; b) culturally, his election is a satisfying slap in the face to racism and parochialism (it’s great to see a black person at last in the nation’s highest-profile and most influential job – I just wish the nation’s highest-profile and most influential job weren’t the goddamn presidency); and c) hell, if I have to listen to some guy’s speeches for the next four to eight years, just from an aesthetic standpoint it’ll be a relief to have them coming from someone who’s charismatic and articulate rather than from an irritating doofus.” My God: the bubble of anti-Bush merchandise is about to collapse!
All along, the supporters of each candidate were growing increasingly strange. McCain was reaping the poisoned fruit of disastrous GOP policies of the last few years in combination with tactics that had alienated many wings of the conservative party, leaving behind only the diehards and kooks. As for Obama supporters, their victory almost seemed to be a redemption, a change greater than the substance of the man or any of his positions. There are numerous reports of his legions weeping when he won; even as same-sex marriage was being outlawed in states across the nation, gay individuals were doing likewise — despite some indication that Obama’s run might have galvanized elements of the left who might support the ban. Then there was the fascinating Chicago Trib article noting that even among Obama’s youngest supporters, tolerance seemed to end at political views. And of course, a bunch of bigoted assholes trying to become martyrs to the Church of Racism. It was always unclear on what exactly an Obama presidency was promising in any specific sense. His name was rather invoked as a mysterious talisman in order to ward off the encroaching shadows that have grown so long lo these past eight years.
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A Brave New Obamaian World
But is Obama the drastic change from Bush and his policies? Even though this was a central tenet of the Obama campaign, it was pointed out even before the election that there was little substantive difference between McCain and Obama on a policy level. As Antiwar.com notes, Obama does not seem a dramatic departure from the foreign policy the United States has been pursuing — and certainly not even within shouting distance of the non-interventionist policy advocated by the likes of Ron Paul and Ralph Nader. These two gentlemen, who barely registered a blimp on the electoral scale, did release a set of four points upon which they agreed, deviating significantly from the two main candidates:
Foreign Policy: The Iraq War must end as quickly as possible with removal of all our soldiers from the region. We must initiate the return of our soldiers from around the world, including Korea, Japan, Europe and the entire Middle East. We must cease the war propaganda, threats of a blockade and plans for attacks on Iran, nor should we re-ignite the cold war with Russia over Georgia. We must be willing to talk to all countries and offer friendship and trade and travel to all who are willing. We must take off the table the threat of a nuclear first strike against all nations.
Obama and McCain disagreed with virtually everything on this list, to certain degrees depending on the item. Obama was more open to negotiation, but engaged heartily in rhetorically lambasting Russia. Neither of them would consider removing troops from the United States’ half centuries old bases in Korea, Japan and Europe.
Privacy: We must protect the privacy and civil liberties of all persons under US jurisdiction. We must repeal or radically change the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, and the FISA legislation. We must reject the notion and practice of torture, eliminations of habeas corpus, secret tribunals, and secret prisons. We must deny immunity for corporations that spy willingly on the people for the benefit of the government. We must reject the unitary presidency, the illegal use of signing statements and excessive use of executive orders.
Obama voted for the renewal of the PATRIOT Act and, in a stunning betrayal of some of his followers, voted for the infamous FISA bill — the estimable Glenn Greenwald remarked wryly on the Democrats payday from telecoms in thanks. USAToday has noted that “six of the 15 people [Obama] named to his transition team are top fundraisers.”
The National Debt: We believe that there should be no increase in the national debt. The burden of debt placed on the next generation is unjust and already threatening our economy and the value of our dollar. We must pay our bills as we go along and not unfairly place this burden on a future generation.
The Federal Reserve: We seek a thorough investigation, evaluation and audit of the Federal Reserve System and its cozy relationships with the banking, corporate, and other financial institutions. The arbitrary power to create money and credit out of thin air behind closed doors for the benefit of commercial interests must be ended. There should be no taxpayer bailouts of corporations and no corporate subsidies. Corporations should be aggressively prosecuted for their crimes and frauds.
Neither McCain nor Obama criticized the bailout or economic policy in terms other than “we have to bail them out, but we’ll put them on a shorter leash”. Among the fun facts:
- “It is not about the time – the many times – that he hung up on political contributors in a Chicago mayor’s race, saying he was embarrassed to accept their $5,000 checks because they were $25,000 kind of guys. No, the definitive Rahm Emanuel story takes place in Little Rock, Ark., in the heady days after Bill Clinton was first elected President…Suddenly Emanuel grabbed his steak knife and, as those who were there remember it, shouted out the name of another enemy, lifted the knife, then brought it down with full force into the table. ‘Dead!’ he screamed. The group immediately joined in the cathartic release: ‘Nat Landow! Dead! Cliff Jackson! Dead! Bill Schaefer! Dead!'”
- From Emanuel himself: “Here’s how it would work. Young people will know that between the ages of eighteen and twenty-five, the nation will enlist them for three months of civilian service. They’ll be asked to report for three months of basic civil defense training in their state or community, where they will learn what to do in the event of biochemical, nuclear or conventional attack; how to assist others in an evacuation; how to respond when a levee breaks or we’re hit by a natural disaster. These young people will be available to address their communities’ most pressing needs.”
- “When the House Democratic majority passed a military appropriations bill slated for Iraq, a clause that would have prohibited an attack on Iran without a vote in Congress was deleted at the instigation of Emanuel and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. When Rep. John Murtha presaged the popular rebellion against the Iraq war by coming out against it in no uncertain terms, Emanuel urged Pelosi to refrain from endorsing his call for withdrawal, arguing that it would hurt the Democrats politically.”
- And who better to help lead us out of the depression than someone who had a hand in an organization that did so much to generate it! “[Emanuel] served on the board of directors of the federal mortgage firm Freddie Mac at a time when scandal was brewing at the troubled agency and the board failed to spot ‘red flags,’ according to government reports reviewed by ABCNews.com. According to a complaint later filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, Freddie Mac, known formally as the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, misreported profits by billions of dollars in order to deceive investors between the years 2000 and 2002. Emanuel was not named in the SEC complaint but the entire board was later accused by the Office of Federal Housing Enterprise Oversight (OFHEO) of having ‘failed in its duty to follow up on matters brought to its attention.'”
There are also some disturbing indications on how the Obama administration might operate, namely usage of executive orders. Glenn Greenwald points out that such orders are best used to expedite the reversal of previously issued abusive orders, rather than to create whole new areas of executive fiat — such as drilling in the Gulf.
As the Emanuel appointment indicated, could Obama ironically be the president to signal a return to slavery via conscription? Obviously the left will offer a justification of such community service/national guard esque service should it ever take a mandatory form — namely that it is not war related but “charity” oriented. To conscript a person into service, whether it be for war or community labor, is slavery. Thankfully, it does appear to be reaching such a proportion at this point, but rumblings of a homeland security force on par with the military are unsettling.
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But Greenwald also points out some reasons to be thankful for the Obama win, from the perspective of judicial appointments. And if nothing else, he is a welcome change from Bush II, even (God help us) if it turns out to be on a merely superficial level — and even if it’s from someone who would apparently deport his own aunt.
My hope is that all these points against Obama add up to be so much as dust in the wind. I hope that he reigns in US foreign policy and in particular military spending. I hope he heeds the advice of Andrew Bacevich on the wars the nation has been sunk into:
First-order questions are begging for attention. How should we gauge the threat? What are the principles that should inform our response? What forms of power are most relevant to implementing that response? Are the means at hand adequate to the task? If not, how should national priorities be adjusted to provide the means required? Given the challenges ahead, how should the government organize itself? Who – both agencies and individuals – will lead? To each and every one of these questions, the Bush administration devised answers that turned out to be dead wrong. The next administration needs to do better. The place to begin is with the candid recognition that the Global War on Terror has effectively ceased to exist. When it comes to national security strategy, we need to start over from scratch.
A change in the office holder always brings fresh hope that the crimes of the previous administration have ceased (although they will likely go unpunished) — although in this case, that hope may be unfounded.
However, it is there nonetheless.
By far the best parody of this whole democratic rodeo — the 2008 Economic Witch Trial:
September 25th: The Rt. Rev. Bar. O’Bama preach’d a sermon claiming that the Economick Maladie in general, & the Livestock Market Catarrh in partickular, may not be due to the Vengeance of Almighty God. It may have a Moderne Scientifick Basis, he said, such as Liver Humours convey’d via Corrupted Ether.
He posited a cure through Massive Public Borrowing or by applying leeches to taxpayers (which sounded similar). Outside the Church of St. Anaesthesius, a hayswain smote him with a dead cat that was unusually ripe. Item: 1s/6d income, selling d. cat to hayswain.
September 26th: Goodie Palin, Capt. McCain’s amanuensis, handed out tracts blaming the Economick Decline upon deviant sexual practices, large lunches & big bonuses among workers in the livestock market. A costermonger, Ecclesiastes Pluckrose, caught a two-headed carp. Item: tkt. to see carp, 1/2 d.
September 27th: Thirty-seventh day of rain. Livestock markt. still closd. Idle traders broke into Saml. Walton’s Genl. Store & made off w. four hogsheads of Demerara Rum. Item: two gals. rum from traders, 2s/6d.
September 28th: Hephzibah Fishblight, the schoolmistress, announced a debate on Economick Decline featuring Capt. McCain, seckonded by Goodie Palin, v. Rev. O’Bama with the grave digger, Old Jo. Biden. The mkt. immediately sold out of Rotten Persimmons. Dead cats now trading at one guinea per.
Maybe Some shpahnking is in order? “Children whose parents spank them or otherwise inflict physical punishment may be more likely to have sexual problems later.”
Overheard in New York: “Fool! That word is biotech. Why you gotta be ignorant all your life?”
Real American Hero: Surviving 1500 ft drops
Portal to Mayan Underworld: Michael Bay comes up with an idea for a new Nic Cage movie
SF Gate’s Top 10 Campaign Films — What?!? No Manchurian Candidate?
retro CRUSH’s Top 10 Fictional Sports —
From April 2003: Putin taunts Blair about Saddam
William Anderson’s ultimately disappointing Socialism and medicine article
Male Porn Star: not living the dream
Fox News prints something worth reading? Instapundit’s Glenn Reynolds vs the Drug Warriors
Nike’s influence via the Olympic basketball championship
“Two off-duty female cops yelled, ‘We are the police!’ – and then pistol-whipped a Bronx man in what authorities call a case of road rage.”
Kim Soo Imm, a passionate Korean “Spy”
Times Online’s 10 Greatest Sci-fi Films Never Made
More on Renting vs. Buying
Gruesome War: A Surgeon’s Guide
Amish Apple Butter! Not under our watch!
Small town struggles after immigration raid
Secretly Recording a Traffic Stop is apparently illegal
You could be anywhere: the Photoshopping of video
A private nuclear power generator? Come and get some, Montgomery Burns
Internet radio makes its last stand
Kate Beckinsale is the sexiest woman on the planet for 2008? Look, nothing against Kate, I think she is an excellent role model for other hot actresses by participating in onscreen threesomes (NSFW). But the best? I disagree, sir. How about Monica Bellucci though? 40+ years of age and making it to the top 8.
There’s eccentric, crazy and Kim Jung Il batshit insane
Indie film gems all made for less than $1 million
Strange bedfellows: GM and environmentalists join together to suck some government tit
Football recruiting stories: frickin awesome
British commanders say the war in Afghanistan cannot be won
Who’s seceding from the Union now? Apparently, Northern California
Stefan Karlsson attacks the Swedish myth: “Recently, the so-called Swedish model — that is, the Swedish economic system with high taxes and a big welfare state — has been celebrated again in the press.”
Say goodnight to Posse Comitatus: “The Army Times reports that the 3rd Infantry’s 1st Brigade Combat Team is returning from Iraq to defend the Homeland, as ‘an on-call federal response force for natural or manmade emergencies and disasters, including terrorist attacks.'” Hey Glenn Greenwald, get on the fucking train!
Letterman vs. McCain: who can make less sense?
World murder capitals: hey there, New Orleans!
From the Left: growing dissatisfaction with the Obama cult
Sean Corrigan vs Schadenfreude: An Austrian Econ Catfight
The NY Times Tally of federal bailouts
Gloom and doom: Bill Bonner on the financial crisis while others point out that those that maimed the patient are trying to revive it and most Americans oppose the bailout
Halloween fallout: Scary weapons!
Learning from Mistakes only works after age 12. That’s not what my belt says.
DNC t-shirts may have crossed a line. Haha, jokes about beating up protesters! That’s rich.
Yeah, we were lied to and no one important got punished: top officials knew of torture in 2002
Fun with libel: Retailers suggest E-bay leads to shoplifting
Hitchcock: Monster or moralist? Or haberdasher?
Pre-crime detector not involving Tom Cruise
Top Ten worst television shows ever?
Shift in abortion demographics
Wu-Tang Clan name generator: just call me 100-Watt Warrior. I’m going to put that on my fucking tombstone. Then there’s the Sarah Palin baby name generator. My name would be “Cue Manhunt Palin”. Not sure wherefrom that came.
The miracle berry takes the sourness out of food
America’s ten most stressful cities
After the fall: Lehman employees and their families
Free sex brothel — but you’re being watched
A rape case without evidence. Mike Nifong, line 1…
Yikes. Just yikes…
Go ahead, play with spider…
William Odom: soldier to the end
World’s fastest rollercoaster: 0-128 mph in 3.5 seconds
The motivation behind traffic cameras: dollah billz y’all
The end of bailout transparency — and it has to do with officer compensation
Military spending: a flow chart
China becoming dissatisfied with US dollars
Ron Jeremy wind-up toy: that ain’t right
A legacy of police torture on the South Side of Chicago
Runaway train apparently stops in Nebraska
Another friendly fire coverup?
British public info messages went pretty Orwell
Conspiracy time in the old corral! It’s the Iranian ship of death
DRUNKEN KARAOKE PING PONG INCIDENT — now that would be an awesome name for a band
The lurker bomb knows where you sleep
The amazing pictures of the Brightest Nights on Earth
Space Odyssey meets the internet — the intergalactic space child is reality porn
The fascinating World Disaster Map
There are not even words — OJ is the anti-Obama
Miss Keeley would be a hell of a Bond girl if she could act
The perfect bank craigslist aided robbery right up to the retarded part
The scariest video games of all time — Doom just keeps looking more and more dated
“Andover man shot with crossbow, beaten with bat, run over, burned“. That pretty much speaks for itself.
Derek Jeter is the worst shortstop in baseball
Gas prices down spells beeg trouble for ethanol
Bolivian president tells US anti-drug efforts to fuck off
The last soldiers to die in the pointless war
Cleansing of Iraqi Christians and the silence of American Christians
“In one case, a hidden camera in a police interview room filmed detectives bashing a suspect during an interview. The suspect was repeatedly slapped and kicked, pinned to the ground and hit with a telephone when he asked to call someone.” Not going to lie: I laughed out loud when I read that.
“In Case You’re An Idiot: Canada Wants To Make It Illegal To Play Video Games While Driving”
“Blondes make good girlfriends but brunettes are better wives“. This sounds scientific.
Flexible displays interest the military-industrial complex
Nothing like being addicted to computer cleaner. That may be lower than head-shaking.
Prison official’s wife makes off with the goods
Civil servant fined for…leaving secret files on a train
Combat Hand Signals, my favorites: “Aim for the Ass”; “Jesus Christ They’re Shooting at Us”; “I Brought the Wrong Ammo Again”
BBC Fire Presenter for Turban Remarks — that’s just plain funny
TEN BELOW ZERO
A War Without End: Part II
The War on Drugs, now 37 years old, claims a myriad of victims:
- “A Lima, OH jury has acquitted police officer Joseph Chavalia of involuntary manslaughter in the death of 26-year-old Tarika Wilson. Chavalia shot and killed Wilson and wounded her infant son during a drug raid last January. Wilson was unarmed. During the raid, one of Chavalia’s fellow officers shot and killed the two dogs owned by Wilson’s boyfriend and the target of the raid, Anthony Terry. Chavalia testified that he mistook his fellow officer’s shots at the dogs for hostile gunfire coming from the bedroom where Wilson was standing with her child. Chavalia then fired blindly into the bedroom.”
- Marijuana and Pain Management
TEN BELOW ZERO 4
GLOBAL WARBLE? – WADING INTO THE THEORY OF ANTHROPOGENIC GLOBAL WARMING – Don’t Stop Believing
- “Dear FRONTLINE: Your 2-hour program broadcast on 21 Oct 08 called HEAT followed the script of the self-appointed priests of global warming exactly. There was no attempt at balance. Those who might have provided it were marginalized as ‘Deniers’ with no names and were accused by innuendo of being paid by the fuel industry. A Canadian reporter who was also an environmentalist discovered that many ‘Deniers’ were highly qualified scientists who would better be called the less pejorative name ‘Climate Realists.'”
- “Recent mapping of a number of raised beach ridges on the north coast of Greenland suggests that the ice cover in the Arctic Ocean was greatly reduced some 6000-7000 years ago. The Arctic Ocean may have been periodically ice free.”
From the Wikipedia:
“Operation Northwoods or Northwoods, was a false flag conspiracy plan, proposed within the United States government in 1962. The plan called for CIA or other operatives to kill innocent people and commit acts of terrorism in U.S. cities to create public support for a war against Castro-led Cuba. One plan was to ‘develop a Communist Cuban terror campaign in the Miami area, in other Florida cities and even in Washington’.”
This Week’s Stephen Colbert’s Guitarmageddon Toss of the Gauntlet:
THE CLASSICS vintage Eddie van Halen, and his iconic baroque 1980s guitar shred “Eruption”. What’s going on with Eddie’s outfit there? Looks like a gay plumber from the future slipped and fell into a time vortex:
Jimi Jam – Down on that Killing Floor live in Monterey.
Double Black Diamond: The world’s fastest guitarists — this is just silly. This fucker is playing a big x of guitars. METAL!:
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SIGNED: MCWOP, FAIT A ST. LOUIS, 11/16/08