Chomsky, Zinn, and Obama

You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches, and say you’re making progress.

– Malcolm X

Another Election Day approaches and I’m reminded of something the late Pakistani dissident, Eqbal Ahmad said about Noam Chomsky in the book, Confronting Empire (2000): “He (Chomsky) has never wavered. He has never fallen into the trap of saying, ‘Clinton will do better.’ Or ‘Nixon was bad but Carter at least had a human rights presidency.’ There is a consistency of substance, of posture, of outlook in his work.”

But along came 2004…when Chomsky said stuff like this: “Anyone who says ‘I don’t care if Bush gets elected’ is basically telling poor and working people in the country, ‘I don’t care if your lives are destroyed’.” And like this: “Despite the limited differences [between Bush and Kerry] both domestically and internationally, there are differences. In a system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes.”

Standing alongside Chomsky was Howard Zinn, saying stuff like this: “Kerry, if he will stop being cautious, can create an excitement that will carry him into the White House and, more important, change the course of the nation.”

Fast forward to 2008 and Chomsky sez: “I would suggest voting against McCain, which means voting for Obama without illusions.” And once again, Howard Zinn is in agreement: “Even though Obama does not represent any fundamental change, he creates an opening for a possibility of change.” (Two word rejoinder: Bill Clinton)

This strategy of choosing an alleged “lesser evil” because he/she might be influenced by some mythical “popular movement” would be naïve if put forth by a high school student. Professors Chomsky and Zinn know better. If it’s incremental change they want, why not encourage their many readers to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney? The classic (read: absurd) reply to that question is: “Because Nader or McKinney can’t win.”

Of course they can’t win if everyone who claims to agree with them inexplicably votes for Obama instead. Paging Alice: You’re wanted down the goddamned rabbit hole.

Another possible answer as to why folks like Chomsky and Zinn don’t aggressively and tirelessly stump for Nader or McKinney is this: 2004 proved that the high profile Left is essentially impotent and borderline irrelevant. Chomsky and Zinn were joined in the vocal, visible, and vile Anybody-But-Bush ranks by “stars” like Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Medea Benjamin, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Manning Marable, Naomi Klien, Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenreich, Martin Sheen, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Cornel West, etc. etc. and John Kerry still lost.

News flash: The “poor and working people in the country” that Chomsky mentions above are paying ZERO attention to him or anyone like him…and that’s a much bigger issue than which millionaire war criminal gets to play figurehead for the empire over the next four years.

Zinn talks about Obama and the “possibility of change.” It seems odd to be asking this of an octogenarian but: Exactly how much time do you think we have?

Every twenty-four hours, thirteen million tons toxic chemicals are released across the globe; 200,000 acres of rainforest are destroyed; more than one hundred plant or animal species go extinct; and 45,000 humans (mostly children) starve to death. Each day, 29,158 children under the age of five die from mostly preventable causes.

As Gandhi once asked: “What difference does it make to the dead, the orphans and the homeless, whether the mad destruction is wrought under the name of totalitarianism or the holy name of liberty or democracy?”

I promise you this: The human beings (and all living things) that come after us won’t care whether we voted for Obama or McCain in 2008…if they have no clean air to breathe, no clean water to use, and are stuck on a toxic, uninhabitable planet. They’d probably just want to ask us this: Why did you stand by and let everything be consumed or poisoned or destroyed?

Conclusion: A vote for either John McCain or Barack Obama is—at best—an act of criminal negligence.

Mickey Z. is the author of 11 books, most recently the novel Darker Shade of Green. Until the laws are changed or the power runs out, he can be found on an obscure website called Facebook. Read other articles by Mickey.

103 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. ron ridenour said on October 24th, 2008 at 7:57am #

    Mickey,
    You are a fresh, and impudent, voice. You tell it like it is in your eyes. Good. Impudent, because the prudent left knows it must back Obama or holocaust is soon on the horizon. Obama will do the man’s dirty work but with a bit of reason, not so fast, not so many….And what can we put in his place?
    Nadar, Greens? But you do know they can’t win, Mickey. You know that even if you and a handful other fresh-impudent left voices could, hypothetically, convince all the progressives-leftists-etc. to vote for say the Greens, still it would amount to no more than 2, 5, 10 most 20% of the voters. So, the world would have a dying war criminal McCain as president followed by a totally ignorant, though good-looking, racist, soon-to-be fascist vice-president, who could be the world’s key leader within the next four years. So what is the real choice?

    Still, I enjoy your writing and anger, your heart. I wish to know you last name or why you chose just Y.

    A comrade,
    Ron Ridenour

  2. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 24th, 2008 at 7:59am #

    excellent piece by michael z.
    i’d just like to evaluate the new prestidigition or even casuistry: the “lesser of the two evils”.
    first of all, i do not evaluate it as a fact, but as conclusion or even a wishful conclusion.
    ‘good’ wishes may actually worsen the sit’ns for many amers, afghanis, iraqis.
    so the ‘lesser’ evil may become under obama; or better yet, under the uncle, the greater evil.
    one may call the new parole also “cinical greater or lesser evil”
    people apppear to conflate governance w. govts. yet govts come and go;governance remains unchanged.
    the reason that US governance seems now more brutal/murderous than ever is not because governance had changed for worse but because of more destructive weapons.
    when apes fight, they use sticks, dust; they screech and scream. but if they had weapons we have, they’d also kill/maim more.
    thnx

  3. Rowan McLachlan said on October 24th, 2008 at 8:04am #

    This article is of minimal use. When in a two party system there is little choice – it is one or the other. None of the above is of no use at this point. Its nice to be idealist but realism is what is required at this juncture. Anyone taking the high ground and voting for Nader or some other no chancer, see the Socialist Equality Party, needs their head examined. The parameters and constraints are those within which you must work. So, this article is counter productive – at best. Criminal negligence, indeed, we are all complicit.

  4. obstruksion said on October 24th, 2008 at 8:37am #

    @Rowan

    Go tell the Zimbabweans, who this past election had only one choice on their ballot for president, that they needed to work within their “parameters and constraints”.

    I really don’t see how this article is counter-productive. Every new reader who begins thinking critically due to this article is a step in the right direction…

  5. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 8:41am #

    Mickey, “This strategy of choosing an alleged “lesser evil” because he/she might be influenced by some mythical “popular movement” would be naïve if put forth by a high school student. Professors Chomsky and Zinn know better.”

    I totally agree. I had read that Zinn, who, like Chomsky, is generally consistently has failed “us” miserably. The drumbeat for Obama is really much worse than anything I’ve ever heard before – Republicans and Conservatives (former Governor of MA), Barry Goldwater’s children, William Buckley’s son, Colin Powell, and I suspect, Rove will vote (and may at the last minute announce his endorsement for Obama).
    Even the crazy Bill O’Reilly is poised to endorse the O.

    Not to mention the unbelievable money from uber-transnationals. Than there’s the these high-minded independent youth bent radicals, Yahoo and Google who are constantly putting out the pluses on Obama and tracking every McCain foible and of course ignoring, the third parties.

    So, what does all this love between the far right and the collapsing generally resisting anti-imperialist intelligensia? When all that Obama has said yields absolutely no difference with his counterpart in crime?

    I hadn’t heard about Chomsky. Last I knew he was not supportive. I even heard that Sean Penn (for what it’s worth) a supporter of Kucinich who moved over to Nader to fund raise for him, has now mumbled something about voting for Obama.

    The sheer maddness, not simply of the fear of McCain, but the coalition of corporitism with an apparent faux progressivism.

    For me, to be clear, a true progressive doesn’t compromise – unless they’re in the congress there is no need to – the tenets of peace, justice and classless solidarity. Those tenets don’t cross lines, like a good war in Afghanistan may not be “good” but I’ll vote for the guy who has promised he’ll escalate that endless war and thereby the killing of innocents, because the other guy, somehow seems worse. A true progressive cannot rationalize that.

    A true progressive votes progressive, if there is a progressive in the running. So far, only Nader and McKinney meet that criteria.

    I suspect there is “white” guilt coupled with Obama’s appeal to the right corporate elite. It is not simply Zinn and Chomsky, it’s rampant as even those leveling the strongest criticism of Obama, ultimately line up with the Dems.

    So, far I’ve yet to hear an argument FOR Obama. It’s all about McCain. The Dems have succeeded in connecting him with Bush and War; even though almost all American wars are instigated by and run by Dem Commanders In Chief.

  6. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 8:44am #

    Rowan McLachlan,

    with all due respect – you are the problem. It’s that thinking that got us right where we are. Like it? I suspect not. Vote for Obama or McCain and it’s more of it.

    Does that mean that one of them won’t become president? Of course not. But that isn’t the point. There is a choice. You’ve just got to have the courage to take it.

  7. joeblow said on October 24th, 2008 at 8:44am #

    Rowan – please, get real…

  8. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 8:53am #

    “You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches, and say you’re making progress.”

    – Malcolm X

    The very system that killed Malcolm and MLK has given us Obama.

  9. Rowan McLachlan said on October 24th, 2008 at 8:54am #

    Nice to see how personal comments become. Yeah I am the problem – good one – when you have no idea about someones personal political beliefs. Anyone breathing oxygen and commenting on politics quickly becomes the enemy eh? Obama will get elected and there is little squabbling will do to change the fact. This is the reality. I am not American. We look towards you and realise quite simply what the problem is. The two party system of democracy is your system and what you face. Max – try reading some Chomsky.

  10. vox said on October 24th, 2008 at 9:46am #

    Rowan, you can’t complain about personal comments when you say that I (because I’m not voting for Obama or McCain, I’m voting with someone with whom I actually agree, Brian Moore, which is an alien concept to most people) need to have my head examined. Which is precisely what you said:

    “Anyone taking the high ground and voting for Nader or some other no chancer, see the Socialist Equality Party, needs their head examined.”

    Apparently, you believe that taking the low road (as opposed to the high ground of voting for a “no chancer”) is going to achieve a desirable result. You would have me do something dreadful in order to achieve, what, exactly?

    In the name of “realism,” the great curtain behind which those who wish to appear wise always hide, your advice to me is to vote for a candidate who has been funding an illegal and criminal war.

    That’s not realism, Rowan. That’s capitulation.

  11. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 10:35am #

    Rowan McLachlan,

    The “problem” we face is the fact that people represent themselves as “progressives”, rail against the two parties that have brought us here and then use words like the ones you did above as if our choices are defined by the very system which is the root cause of the problem.

    Sartre had a word for this (really two): Bad Faith. It is not merely hyprocracy. It is the very core essence of integrity which is breached. Without that integrity, that trust, there is really nothing.

    “try reading some Chomsky.” Now there’s an argument.

  12. Ramsefall said on October 24th, 2008 at 10:41am #

    As a long-time committed reader of both Chomsky and Zinn, it´s a difficult pill to swallow knowing that these men waver their principles in a time of crisis. Most of us subscribing to this website understand the ineffectiveness of our voting process, as we witnessed so clearly in the past two elections which were stolen. Our election process was already corrupt with a limited field of two from which to choose prior to the new dilemma of voter fraud. Considering this pair of major obstacles overcoming our limited democratic institution, how can any of us be expected to cast a vote for the lesser of two evils? Is that the extended and effective reach of our democracy?

    The fallacy of democracy should be more apparent than ever as we approach the finale of this 20-month circus — thank God, even living abroad I can´t bear any more of this farcical side-show distraction.

    Barack creates an opening for the possibility of change? Another member of the privileged elite is promising change for the masses — what a joke, and what an assault on our intelligence. Have we forgotten that he´s still a member of the club? Does being black change the dynamics of reality? I think not.

    I for one continue to stick to my principles which were partially molded by the dissident views of scholars like Chomsky and Zinn. No matter how desperate the situation appears to be, until we are given a choice that embodies something other than corrupt elites, I see no reason to participate in such a flawed and dysfunctional system. Insanity could be described as doing the same thing over and over while hoping to achieve different results, as such, supporting the changing of the guards (mascots for Democracy) every four years is futile to accomplish needed change.

  13. LD said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:01am #

    You guys should read the article in which Chomsky stated his views on ‘choosing’ Obama.

    He has never said you shouldn’t vote. I think what he’s always meant is that voting is the LEAST you can do. That our freedoms are won through popular movements not by once every four year beauty pageants.

    The article in which Chomsky ‘endorsed’ Obama needs to be read correctly. He said people in swing states should vote for Obama. He said between Obama and McCain, Obama would be better. He said that while the Dems and Repubs are marginally different, their effect on us will still be important enough that we should care.

    I dont think he’s given in or anything of the nature. He’s just being a realist. It’s not an ideological statement he’s making.

  14. Ron Horn said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:12am #

    It seems to me that whether you vote for national candidates or not, it really doesn’t matter. The capitalist organized economy is again in the process of self destruction. If you like this type of economy and think it can be made into a kinder, gentler one as Chomsky, Zinn, Michael Moore etc apparently do, then by all means vote. Otherwise it is a futile exercise.

    On 9-29-08 Der Spiegel, in an interview with their reporter, quotes German Finance Minister Peer Steinbrück as saying the following:

    Steinbrück: Overall, we have to conclude that certain elements of Marxist theory are not all that incorrect.

    SPIEGEL: And you, of all people, are saying this?

    Steinbrück: …In the end, unbridled capitalism with all of its greed, as we have seen happening here, consumes itself…

    This doesn’t mean that we, who have the ability to imagine other ways of organizing our econ0my to serve human needs rather than private profit, should simply sit back at watch it consume itself and vote for their candidates. The capitalist economy will gradually resurrect itself while taking an enormous toll on human welfare.

    What’s to be done that is more constructive than voting? I suggest reading the abundant literature on the left. There is so much, but not always easy to get a hold of. I recommend A Century of War by William Engdahl, the Anglo-American Establishment by Carroll Quigley, Gangster Capitalism by Michael Woodiwiss, The Washing Machine by Nick Kochan, Escaping the Matrix by Richard Moore. If your local library doesn’t carry them, get used copies cheaper through Abebooks.

    I also suggest working to strengthen local grass roots organizations working to strengthen local sustainable economies.

    And Max Shields, I think you’ve hit the nail on the head re the Obama phenomenon: it’s white guilt.

  15. Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:18am #

    Ron R and Rowan – thanks for waging this struggle with our friends and comrades.
    Everyone else, by placing Obama with McCain, fails to understand the historic significance of this election. If Obama is elected, his election will the response to 400 years of racial slavery that this society was grounded upon. You are missing that very point.
    By refusing to appreciate the history of white supremacy in this country, you do not understand what it means for an African-American to take the Whitehouse.
    By supporting Obama, we will obtain some breathing space in this country’s slide/ shift to fascism, and up to 3 or 4 new Supreme Court justices. That alone is enough.
    You who push Obama into McCain, have you been spending the last ____ years (you fill in the blank) working on building a revolutionary, socialist movement in this country?
    It’s been great to stay in the ivory towers, but try getting your feet dirty in the real life of t his country, talking to real people about change, and not your fellow bloggers who think progressives are the problem – study a little history, too, like in Germany 1932 – before you call your brothers and sisters guilty of ‘criminal negligence.’

  16. Michael Dawson said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:21am #

    What complete hyperbolic crap. Voting for Obama is “criminal negligence at best?”

    If you actually meant that, the implications would be huge and scary. One assumes you’re not planning on blowing up voting stations or sniping from rooftops. But that’s how you talk. Curiously psychotic and deeply anti-democratic.

    In reality, voting for Obama is at best exactly what Chomsky says it is — choosing small differences with small hopes. At worst, it’s a mistake.

    Criminal negligence is something real. So stop farting on it, and us.

  17. Erroll said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:22am #

    Rowan McLachlan may wish to read this extremely important and relevant book which points out how very little difference there is between the Democrats and the Republicans. I am about halfway through and find myself in full agreement with both the reviewer and the author on how the Democrats have continually failed to live up to their claimof being the party of the people. With Obama voting against the FISA bill granting the telecom companies immunity and voting to bail out Wall Street over the interests of the working class and the poor in this country as well as his hawkish advocacy of belligerent foreign policy, it seems apparent that Obama is following in the footsteps of such Democratic faux progressive leaders, like Truman, Carter, Clinton, et al.

    http://prisonerofstarvation.blogspot.com/2008/10/critical-reading-democrats-critical.html

  18. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:29am #

    Ron Horn: “I also suggest working to strengthen local grass roots organizations working to strengthen local sustainable economies.”

    You are, of course, correct. As they say, if voting mattered they’d have outlawed long ago.

    The only real change will come through local living economies that piece together an existence separate from the collapsing trade winds of the financial global markets.

    No other answer seems possible. The lords of acedemia and the pundits are all trash. This is when we test the metal of our priniciples to paraphrase a previous post.

  19. James Keye said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:35am #

    So you think there’s a right answer here? There are only optional and uncertain outcomes. A perfectly valid argument can be made for voting for an actuarially possible candidate, just as a principled argument can be made for voting for the person whose values best represent yours; add to this an argument for thoughtfulness, knowledge and intelligence.

    If this is a call for voting for honor and honesty only, then you might as well stuff your vote in your pocket. If it is a call to action (of which a vote is the palest), then onward into the breach.

  20. Jonathan said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:48am #

    “Anyone taking the high ground and voting for Nader or some other no chancer, see the Socialist Equality Party, needs their head examined.”

    I find this statement deeply cynical. Yes there is a two party system, and what Rowan does not seem to grasp is that by voting for a third party candidate one is actually doing something that may erode the absurd duopoly. Agreed that if we did actually abandon the ridiculous and undemocratic “lesser of the two evils” doctrine the status quo would be largely unchanged (may or may not lead to Mcain victory). However, the increased presence of these third party candidates would I believe do more for a positive change than any misguided support for Obama ‘Mchange’.

    And Ron, this not so fast not so many stuff about Obama and John the ‘Bringer of Doom’ McCain is not actually rational but nonetheless shows that your ‘prudent left’ are happy to support war crimes if they are done politely and with some ‘rationality’ and intellectual language.

  21. e poc said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:50am #

    I don’t think the debate about voting Obama vs. voting for a third-party candidate whose ideology/policies align more with yours is exhausted in a discussion of “voting principles” vs. “voting the lesser evil.” What I mean is that there’s a very serious possibility that the practical thing for leftists to do, when it comes to voting, is to vote for a third-party candidate rather than the lesser of the two major party evils. It may be true, as one commenter here says, that at best the left can achieve something like a 20% share of the vote for a third-party candidate, but what no one ever seems to address is what a huge practical difference that would make. One-fifth of the voting public casting ballots for a third-party candidate would drastically change the landscape of public political discourse in this country. True, John McCain might be president for the next four years, but twelve years from now the American public might be ready to seriously consider a Green candidate. Imagine, for example, that we’d all voted for Nader instead of Gore back in 2000. We would have gone through these same eight years of Bush, but I imagine the American public would be very much ready to hear Nader and McKinney as part of the general public discourse right now. Mainstream media would almost certainly have to cover some of the voices not represented by the two-party system, I think most obviously on the issues of war and economics. My point, I think, is that elections are not a separate thing from the rest of our political lives where it’s good and right to put aside our everyday views about the political landscape in order to vote strategically within the two-party system. Rather, like anything else, they are part of the debate and should be used as such.

  22. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 24th, 2008 at 12:08pm #

    a ballot cast for onestate sol’n in palestine, withdrawal of troops from afgh’n and iraq, healthcare, less militarism, more democratic society, etc. cannot be a waste of one’s ballot.
    so, zinn and chomsky think that millennial structure of governance will change with obama?
    they r ignoring clear historical record. no farmer or worker was ever allowed to participtate in any governance i know of.
    there r just a few exceptions. and the exeptions r recent and soon to be destroyed by plutocratic rulers.
    i did not expect zinn, et al wld ever cry uncle. to me, that’s what they r doing.
    possibility is so slight, like one in a zillion, that the structure of governance wld change even slightly let alone noticeably under any presidency.
    from now own, i’m not reading anything such regressives write.

  23. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 12:14pm #

    James Keye first, in isolation your argument can make sense. But if someone has been an ardent critic of the very institution and the very policies of the Govenment regarding foreign policy (as well as much of our so-called domestic policies) and than suggests that the lesser evil is a reasonable enough argument to cast your (his) vote; then I think you have a context that is deeper than simply making a broad case for one of these establishment candidates over another.

    The difference is not trivial if we are to take the cases of these polemical chaps as having any credence going forward. They [Chomsky/Zinn, et al] can have their opinions, but that does not make them beyond reproach simply because they have the “right”.

    The first segment of Democracy Now actually brings a little sanity to the issue. As opposed to the nonsense thrust about regarding Obama as a “socialist” or the spending spree of Palin.

    http://www.democracynow.org/2008/10/24/mccain_campaign_calls_obama_a_socialist

  24. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 12:21pm #

    e poc “It may be true, as one commenter here says, that at best the left can achieve something like a 20% share of the vote for a third-party candidate, but what no one ever seems to address is what a huge practical difference that would make. One-fifth of the voting public casting ballots for a third-party candidate would drastically change the landscape of public political discourse in this country. ”

    Wonderfully obvious and excellent point. If even 8 or 10% said no to the two parties (20% would be optimal) it would undermine the business as usual “mandate” that continues to drive this nation deeper and deeper into a ditch of war and environmental destruction.

    Voting for a third party would be a loud message if enough progressives would simply vote for those candidates they believe share their vision and values. Why is that so much to ask?

    To say McCain is an unreasoned murder; and Obama is a reasoned one is some choice. The bet, the one foisted every damn 4 years is that that is our choice – remember LBJ/Goldwater. And then think of the bloody hell of Vietnam.

  25. Sunil Sharma said on October 24th, 2008 at 12:24pm #

    LD said on October 24th, 2008 at 11:01am #
    “You guys should read the article in which Chomsky stated his views on ‘choosing’ Obama. He has never said you shouldn’t vote. I think what he’s always meant is that voting is the LEAST you can do. That our freedoms are won through popular movements not by once every four year beauty pageants. The article in which Chomsky ‘endorsed’ Obama needs to be read correctly. He said people in swing states should vote for Obama. He said between Obama and McCain, Obama would be better. He said that while the Dems and Repubs are marginally different, their effect on us will still be important enough that we should care. I dont think he’s given in or anything of the nature. He’s just being a realist. It’s not an ideological statement he’s making.”

    That’s how I understood Chomsky’s article as well. Agree or disagree with it (I’m voting for Nader), but at least understand the argument and the concern behind it rather than shoot wildly and charge that Zinn and Chomsky are sell-outs, “gatekeepers”, etc.

    – Sunil

  26. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 12:33pm #

    Sunil Sharma,

    Not to beat a dying horse here, but I certainly understand exactly what Chomsky is saying and yea – it’s called selling out in the neighborhood I come from. Maybe you just see it as a slight disagreement between which US imperialist leader we’re talking about voting for – if Chomsky want’s the cake he should not be so quick to take bite.

  27. Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 12:57pm #

    To whomever said, “If voting mattered, they would have outlawed long ago,” has not been watching what is going on in this country. They are trying to outlaw it as we speak. Check out all the efforts to strip people of voting powers, the vote suppression, caging – all of it, and then tell us what your pure-leftist view is.
    Study history: what were the voting powers of say, Black people in the South, just a few decades ago? How did it change?
    No one is saying vote and then go home. Voting is the least we can do in political struggle. All that say, oh, if only we all voted Green, etc., I voted Green in 2000. And during the crisis that followed, we all sat on our collective asses, even Ralph Nader. In 2000 he could have shown that he is a true leader, that he understood leadership by coming out and saying, I disagree with Gore, but he did win. Nader did not do anything. I’m not criticizing Nader for taking Gore votes, that’s not the point. The point is that in a crisis, Nader failed us. We also failed us.
    Those who wish for a Green Party country, have you been organizing one for the last 8 years?
    We need to support Obama, and keep pressure on his White House after the election.
    We also need to be prepared to act if the Vote is stolen, is manipulated beyond what it should be. If you keep saying both parties are the same, it doesn’t matter which one wins, then you’re not in a place to act if the vote is stolen. You’ve out-lefted yourself.
    Vote for Obama and be ready to act.

  28. KF said on October 24th, 2008 at 1:04pm #

    Chomsky, of course, is a gatekeeper. There is overwhelming evidence that JFK and MLK were assassinated. But Chomsky won’t hear it. “Silly!” He shouts. It’s funny how Chomsky knows the gov’t lies about everything. But when it comes to assassinations and 9/11 he plays coy: “The gov’t lies?! Where did you get that idea?!”

  29. Rowan McLachlan said on October 24th, 2008 at 1:16pm #

    Exactly Frank.

    Talking crap about a Chomsky – an intellectual the majority of Americans have never heard of – and who has a stunning record in academia – in a moment of critical importance isnt going to help anyone.

    Obama is an educated dude and in the poor history of American Presidents he seems to be a shining star. Even if he does turn out to be another dud. If you fantasists are hoping that voting for a third party is going to be some kind of symbollic victory – you better hope your mates vote Democrat – or you’re gonna be stuck with another Republican. Democracy is slow and typically incremental. Don’t throw your vote away on a lost cause on this occasion. The cost of doing so has never been higher.

    For you splendid ‘progressives’, this is a simple concept to grasp.

  30. KF said on October 24th, 2008 at 1:24pm #

    Ask the Native people of America if Obama supporting the border wall or his willingness to bomb Pakistan and/or Iran will help them get their land back.

  31. Giorgio said on October 24th, 2008 at 1:26pm #

    To cut a long story short, the fact is that the American electoral system has been all along rigged and it’s become even more obvious now. The FACELESS POWERS behind it couldn’t care less whether McCain or Obama wins the presidency. They’ve got BOTH in their pockets. What changes is the style but the substance remains the same. If Obama wins, you’ve got a sleezy, ‘charismatic’, mulatto president to show the world that America is not only a “great democracy” but also a colour blind, non racial one. If McCain wins, this “frog that just jumped out of the water gasping for air looker” will be amply harmonized by a former beauty contest bimbo VP, and the world will be delighted looking at her.
    So, where is the loss? Nowhere!
    The World thus finally reachs Absolute Equillibrium!
    There may be a slight tilt to the Left OR a slight tilt to the Right, but the direction still remains firmly ahead!
    ALLELUIA!

  32. Giorgio said on October 24th, 2008 at 1:38pm #

    ….and even GOD couldn’t be this Perfect !

  33. pebird said on October 24th, 2008 at 1:59pm #

    The problem isn’t who runs for President. The problem is thinking that the President is the position that will change things.

    Political organization takes a variety of forms – voting for the POTUS ever years is a very small portion.

    Sometimes you have to pick the least worst candidate – but it’s fantasy to think that solves anything but delaying the worst.

    There is virtually no doubt that the world would be better off now if Gore had won in 2000 – but that doesn’t mean that electing Gore was the solution – just better than shooting yourself in the head.

    Lets stop worshiping the President of the US – yes we have to get the best that is realistically available (which has always been the lesser of two evils) – but there are other places we can spend our time.

  34. Ron Horn said on October 24th, 2008 at 2:06pm #

    My problem with Chomsky and Zinn is that always seem to be willing to settle for the crumbs that the capitalist class is occasionally and under duress is compelled to trickle down onto us working people. They both make references to the crumbs that we got during the New Deal and the Great Society administrations. The crumbs during the New Deal were admittedly significant, but that was only because the ruling class at that time was still shaking in its boots from the trauma of the Russian Revolution and the fact that there was no unemployment in the Soviet Union as they made rapid strides in developing their planned economy.

    Mickey Z’s point is well taken. The voting for Obama because he is providing for the possibility of change thesis misses the fact that we are running out of time. The way the current ruling class is screwing up everything, there won’t be even crumbs for working people to live on. This system is on a collision course with the earth’s ability to sustain human life. As a result, we as a human race are edging ever closer to a tipping point, if we haven’t already passed it, which will inevitably lead us into catastrophic environmental damage caused by pollution and radical changes in our climate. Why don’t people like Zinn and Chomsky point out this urgency and the necessity for grass roots organizing to build a sustainable economy under the control of working people? The aging process seems to have stunted their imagination. Why do they let themselves get sucked into the importance of voting in the US elections exercise?

  35. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 2:09pm #

    Frank Gormlie the parties over. Obama/McCain. It’s over.

    Green Party, Nader….if only. The party is OVER. So, vote for McCain, or Obama.

    This is not about history, it’s about NOW. And this empire has run its course. Kiss the corpse adieu…

  36. Tyler Tarwater said on October 24th, 2008 at 2:17pm #

    The only time Chomsky talks about voting for the “lesser of two evils” is in interviews where he is asked who he thinks people should vote for. In his writings, he always advocates social movements and organizing as the only way to change things, and his advice on voting is no contradiction. It is not as if he goes out of his way telling people how important the election is and how you should vote for Obama, but instead he is simply answering a tactical question. In fact, he is extremely critical of the more liberal half of what he calls the single business party with two factions, always basing his criticisms on what the media labels as the “liberal” viewpoint.

    Furthermore, I don’t understand the concept that choosing the lesser of two evils is somehow not progress. Who can deny that destruction and repression has accelerated in the past 8 years? There are differences in the two parties, as small as they may be, and when we get the better of the two evils, that does help in giving us some breathing room to focus on our number one concern of organizing a movement.

  37. Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 2:24pm #

    Max Shields – don’t make me say that oft-heard truism about they who forget history end up repeating it, but I guess I just did.
    How ahistorical for you to say ‘this is not about history.’
    How did ‘this empire’ run its course? With the Wall Street meltdown? If you really think the empire is over, go out and ask the journalists and 400 people arrested during the RNC convention in St. Paul, if they agree with you. Hurry over to the commander of the 3rd Infantry Division, 1st Brigade – just recently deployed for ‘the homeland,’ if he thinks the empire is over and then also ask him what are his marching orders.
    I know, Max, you’re a caring lefty, but you say things that make me think you’re not watching what is actually going on, as opposed to some left-wing purist version of the ‘fall of capitalism’ – which leftists have been predicting for – what since 1848? – . If is not over yet, if it was, why are they trying so hard to prevent voting. Are you up on all the latest efforts in vote suppression, caging, removing people off the rolls.
    We’re sliding into fascism, folks, and you’re discussing how many pure leftists can dance on the tip of a noodle. As leftists, we should be the first to caution and prepare our people for what’s coming.

  38. KF said on October 24th, 2008 at 2:35pm #

    Frank, you said:

    “We’re sliding into fascism…”

    Umm, we’re not there yet? I guess if the banks get bailed out we’ll know that we’ve arrived. Some day.

  39. Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 2:39pm #

    No, we’re not there yet. Proof: this conversation.

  40. rosemarie jackowski said on October 24th, 2008 at 3:16pm #

    We have been there since some obscure law clerk made a notation in the margins of a legal document and gave ‘personhood’ to corporations. There are now 700 billion new reasons to believe that we have been devoured by fascism.

  41. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 24th, 2008 at 3:23pm #

    gormlie,
    one can’t, in my opinion, prove that US is not fascist or not sliding into fascism by positing only one fact.
    the fact that my posts appear on dv and eslewhere may mean that the ruling class in america is least bit worried ab 1,2, 5% of US pop writing in marginal media ab US.
    in add’n, we may first find out how many people read alternate media.
    my guess is ab 10% of US pop.
    of which half r just left of hitler.
    with such strong grip on power, why wld the ruling class persecute, prosecute, jail dissidents and invite domesic terrorism?
    there wld be retaliation. and it wld be very easy to terrorise also the rich people.
    it is the ruling class or uncle, as i say, which controls all media, cia, fbi, police, military, money, the house of horrors (world) WH, senate, congress, education.
    and to worry wld be fruitless and in toto needless.
    and most important of all nazification of US had been comleted long time ago and now’s spreading over the planet.thnx

  42. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 3:30pm #

    Frank, when you have no power – when you give what power you do have away to the corporate fascist, you’re no threat and you can talk and post all you want. They let you do that, don’t ya know?

  43. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 3:49pm #

    Frank Gormlie, just read your comments about history and the like.

    I’ve been reading – market just plummeted to 4k, and houses in my city are being foreclosed by the hundreds.

    The party’s over. It’s not about which ism you’re about, it’s about acknowledging what is happening. The pain is still at bay for enough so they think the new POTUS will make a difference.

    The oil is peaked, all energy, the life blood of the material economy is drying up like a prune. The most important two words: NET ENERGY.

    Those words trump, Wall Street bailouts, GDP, GNP, Consumer index, employment, commodity markets, etc, etc. etc.

    No, energy…no economy. It’s over, gone. The political system/corporate personage that rosemarie mentions got us here. And guess what Frank – it can’t get us out. It and Obama/McCain only know one direction – MORE OF THE SAME.

    That’s the problem Frank. I’m not a leftist. Those old ideological lines you cling to along with the notion that a president can fix this is beyond passe.

    It’s not history that’s going to help us. We’re not getting out of the “woods”. The woods are gone.

    Until you Obama (lesser of two evil) folks get that, and stop with the ideological crap, and understand NET ENERGY the more you’ll understand this is not a cycle we’re in; this is not a new administration can help us out of this.

    What it is Frank, is understanding that you have to get your ass in gear and do a whole heluva lot more than vote. I don’t know where you live but if it gets cold in the winter, get lots of blankets. Food? Start up a farm in your front yard if you have one. Health care – fu%ckit… it’s a luxury. We had our chances. And decade after decade, we said fu%ckit, we don’t need anyone or anything. During our wars we simply gobble up the planet; rape it until there is no more.

    So, Frank you won’t find that in your history books. But you’ll find the old word – FAMINE there. It will be coming back just like an old love song, Frank.

    Chomsky has has his finger on foreign affairs but clueless when it comes to the storm brewing. It’s ok to be a critique until the shit starts really hitting the fan, Frank.

  44. Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 3:49pm #

    Obviously, the rulers have a lot of power. And they, through the Bush administration has been developing more than your ordinary presidential officeholder.
    Rulers of any age never gave up power. But it is wrested from them by social movements that gain enough strength and influence – through a variety of tactics, the ballot box, the mass demonstration, civil disobedience, armed struggle, boycotts, radical pamphlets and newspapers and blogs, by marching with left views through the institutions, by insurrections, by take-overs, by sit-ins. The list goes on.
    Our task as leftists – as revolutionaries – is to utilize these tactics in the service of the people, educating, organizing and mobilizing our people, to wrest power from the rulers.
    Since we have failed – for whatever reason – to develop and create a revolutionary movement – we have to operate and work in the social-political-economic fabric that we live in, in our historical moment.
    Our historical moment is one that, on one hand, we are about to elect the first African-American president in a 400 year old slavery/ Jim Crow system, and on the other hand, we are sliding into fascism. Because of this moment, we need to work with as broad an array of social forces as possible; the elect Obama movement is one of the most important social forces to arrive on the political scene in probably a decade. These are our people.
    It is the movement behind Obama that is most important. We must work with these folks as they push and country leftward. And if the terrible happens, we must be there with them. If the election is stolen, we must help lead the resistance. By working with this movement, our credibility is ensured with the forces that will need to resist.

  45. Marryam said on October 24th, 2008 at 3:53pm #

    Excellent piece Mickey, just what I’ve been trying to tell my family and friends.

    In a nutshell: the figurehead of a corporate elite will not make any qualitative difference for the state of the world. Its the same corporate structure with the same aggressive policies and same power-hungry goals

    I’ve got two words from philosophy of science that we all need to internalize: paradigm shift

  46. Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 4:01pm #

    Rosemarie and KF – if you really think we are living under fascism now, what are you doing about it? Have you become like a ‘good German’? Why haven’t you moved? Once fascism is firmly in place, it can only be destroyed from without.
    Yes, I am aware of the ‘Friendly Fascism’ theory, and yes (see Naomi Wolf’s “The End of America” ) we are sliding quickly, but to believe we’re already there and do nothing is such a dead end, I don’t believe you really deep inside believe it; it actually becomes a type of intellectual cop-out, ‘oh, we’re in fascism now, and we can’t do anything about it, so I guess I’ll go buy that dvd, and fix up the kitchen.’
    It also disarms one. It puts one in a disposition that does not react or response to true constitutional crises.

  47. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 4:06pm #

    Frank, there’s no movement behind Obama. There’s an audience in front of him. You think that’s a MOVEMENT? You must equate posting on DV a revolution!!

    Screw “stealing the election”. This is not a joke Frank. This is an urgent matter and voting will seem like so much prissy pooo. Come on Frank.

    Movement? When people are in the street knocking down the front gates of the white house and starting to upturn the powers from their MacMansions, then you’ll have a movement. I think we’ll make a great big farm on the front lawn of the WH. Enough food to keep the local bellies full.

    Obama is a conservative elitist. He’s a regular stepson of William F. Buckley. His step brother is Chris. The uberneocon/trotskyite – Chris Hitchens (friends like Obama just call him Hitch) has a poster of Obama in his room next to Troysky and Dick Cheney.

    Come on, Frank. DV is about dissidents; not patronizing phony baloney give me five Obama elitist is the only ideology you’ll need.

    Frank, forget history. Open up a daily newspaper. The party’s over. The DOW is DOWN to 4k Frank!!! The bailout is worthless, as are the signatores of that corporate bill – Obama and McCain.

  48. Deadbeat said on October 24th, 2008 at 4:15pm #

    Michael Dawson says…

    What complete hyperbolic crap. Voting for Obama is “criminal negligence at best?”

    I agree wholeheartedly with his comments. Mickey Z. piece while at best passionate is extremely useless because of its sheer lack of nuance and analysis. For example both Gore and Kerry did not lose the election in 2000 and 2004 respectively. They both capitulated. In both cases racist voter suppression was used to deny African American their right to vote and have their votes counted. Mickey Z clearly ignore these racist practices against an oppressed group that he will need to align with if he really want to achieve any real systemic change.

    His closing remark will essentially brand 95 – 99% of the African American electorate who will vote for Obama with “criminal neglect” is racist on it face. This is similar to the mistake that Brian Koontz recently made in his fit of passion.

    Obama really fucked up the “Left” rhetoric this election cycle because of the fact that he is African American. The “Left” unfortanately engages in its own brand of hyperbole not unlike mainstream politicians. Apparently nuance and analysis is foreign to Mickey Z.

    A much better cogent and nuanced critique of Obama can be found on CounterPunch in an article by Todd Chretien entitled “Why I’m Not Voting for Obama “.

    Chretian concludes his article with the following…
    The fact that millions of American workers look set to elect the first Black president is a good barometer of what could be. But it’s no substitute for systematic political debate and the patient building of social movements, socialist organization and practical action.

    Chretian takes the time to provide a well balanced and nuanced and thoughtful argument. In addition I posted another thoughtful analysis by Solidarity who seek to work with the people involved in the Obama campaign while at the same time not endorse Obama. The reason for such a strategy is to enable themselves to ingratiate themselves to Obama supporters and to offer an alternate and critique rather than alienate themselves.

    Also Mickey Z is quite wrong about what occurred in 2004. Much of the Left self-destructed. Medea Benjamin planted herself in the Green Party in order to support David Cobb. The Left also diffused the anti-war movement in 2004 in order to shift the focus away from Zionism which was being highlighted as a major reason for the War on Iraq. These two events weaken the Left. This is not 2000 when Nader was filling arenas. It is clear that both Nader and McKinney doesn’t have the kind of support that Obama is getting. That is because Obama is filling the void created by the Left four years ago.

    Essentially however Chomsky and Zinn endorsement of Obama is irrelevant this year. In 2004 both voices had more clout with their ABB endorsement of Kerry since it was a very close election result. Had Chomsky and Zinn endorsed Nader in 2004 it could have made a difference in strengthen Nader and Green Party.

    In 2008 however with the overwhelming support and momentum of the Obama campaign, Chomsky and Zinn influence is greatly diminished.

    However had Chomsky been a real voice exposing Zionism’s influence upon U.S. Foreign Policy lo these past 8 years then his voice could have opened up space for politicians to take a firmer stance against the influence of AIPAC. Unfortunately, Chomsky expended much of his rhetoric to discredit Mersheimer and Walt and at the AIPAC conference the brazen kowtowing of both Obama and McCain to Zionism in order to gain the Presidency.

    Now that Capitalism seem to be withering and with African Americans and Latinos being scapegoated for the mortgage meltdown by the mainstream, Mickey Z and others on the “Left” needs to figure out how to approach these oppressed groups in order to build up ranks so that a real challenge can be mounted.

    There are many reason for folks not to vote for Obama but these folks can critique Obama without all the blaming the electorate (victim) rhetoric. Such rhetoric only leads to alienation and will not build solidarity.

  49. Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 4:18pm #

    Max – listen to yourself: — ‘forget history.’ Why should we forget history, Max? That’s crazy. Come on, yourself, Max.
    100,000 of your fellow Americans came out to see Obama in St. Louis the other day. No American politician in the modern era has ever seen that size of a crowd.
    The Dow only fell 300, but look how far it has fallen the last few days. Max, do you have stocks? I don’t. Is is the end of the party for you?
    Obviously there is an environmental crisis. But you give no quarter, Max. you have no answers, NET ENERGY in all caps – what does that mean? You’ve given up. I’m sorry. By giving up you’ll become complacent.
    Max, this is serious. The election could be stolen. You don’t care, because you equate Obama with McBush, so you won’t do anything if the moment calls for you to step up.

  50. Deadbeat said on October 24th, 2008 at 4:33pm #

    Max says…

    Frank, there’s no movement behind Obama. There’s an audience in front of him. You think that’s a MOVEMENT? You must equate posting on DV a revolution!!

    I agree with Max Shields that the Obama campaign is not a “movement”. Obama campaign is a “phenomenon”. But what Mr. Shields dismisses is that the Obama campaign tapped into the mass discontent and the void that the Left itself help to create. The Left had a chance to address mass discontent in 2004 but due to their fear that Zionism influence of the War on Iraq would take center stage the anti-war movement was diffused and weakened by the Left. That is why the Left threw its support for John Kerry and the collapsed the Green Party behind David Cobb.

    IMO many of the opinion here in DV and the critique on Obama lacks the sophistication and nuance needed in order to reach out to the masses who have fallen behind the Obama campaign. The Obama phenomenon could be an opportunity for the Left albeit it is not the kind of opportunity they would like. The reason is because they are in a state of denial and their main position — collapsing the Democratic Party — has been neutralized by the Obama campaign. But the real MISSED opportunity was four years ago when the Left collapsed and diffused the anti-war movement. THAT WAS A REAL MOVEMENT.

    So it is hypocritical that these same members of the Left that diffused the anti-war movement because of their fear of confronting Zionism and expend so much of their rhetoric denying, camouflaging, and diffusing American Zionism would be critical of the electorate for lining up behind the Obama campaign.

  51. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 4:34pm #

    Frank, until you understand net energy you won’t get it.

    But I’ll get you started. Net energy is the energy expended to get energy from nature. The more energy expended to extract energy than the source is “dried up”. It’s true of coal, oil, uranium, whatever. All of these are peaking. Today, the known coal is of close to the lowest grade requiring enormous sources of energy to extract it. Same is true of oil. Not all is the same.

    The point, Frank is that even alternative energy source can begin to match our need to these older fossil energy sources. The net energy is less than the energy required to use it.

    There is no material economy when this happens. Aside from nature, everything human created requires this energy including our food.

    This is not a theory, Frank. It is observable and has been for decades. There is NO historical equivalent, Frank. No history book covering the last 5,000 years was so predicated on the use of a single source of energy – fossil. The Cubans have come close, but Cuban life style which made a dramatic recovery was and is nothing like the all consuming American economy and culture. Add to this China and India, Frank.

    Rubin and Summers are Obama’s economic advisors. Let me explain, these two chaps pushed us ever futher along the path that leads us to this precarious situation. This is not a joke. This is an urgent matter. The party, Frank is over. You’ll find the word famine in the dictionary. Fascism is there too.

    Good luck, Frank.

  52. tuned in said on October 24th, 2008 at 5:17pm #

    i’ll never for the a pro-war candidate who is part of the elitist. nader’s tireless commitment to Truth continues to impress and amaze me, so if i do vote (despite knowing it’s a farce) i’d vote for him.

    to all those in this discussion who stand tall and true to your ethics, refusing to vote the duopoly, you’re my heros!

  53. Hue Longer said on October 24th, 2008 at 6:11pm #

    Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 4:01pm #

    “Rosemarie and KF – if you really think we are living under fascism now, what are you doing about it”?

    Google Rosemarie Jackowski

  54. Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 6:29pm #

    Max and Deadbeat: about no movement behind Obama – you’re wrong. I’ve seen it, I’ve been in it, and I have felt it.
    Obviously you have a bunch of regulars who come here and support you. That’s cool. You do need to broaden out, quit dissing some of the chief dissident voices of our time – Zinn, Chomsky – and learn how to have discourse with fellow dissidents without dissing them; what’s the point, if not to find some kind of unity so we can have some kind of action together, and build our relationships. I heard none of that; no one had anything to say positively about any of my points except Rowan. Find unity somewhere.
    Good luck, and good luck to your blog.

  55. MrSynec said on October 24th, 2008 at 6:51pm #

    We do not have a true left in this country anymore. The faux “leftists”
    call themselves ” progressives” .
    A true leftist is looking for the interests of the average Joe/Jane.
    A true left wants jobs with living wages , universal health care, good education, decent housing and secure retirement for the citizens.
    He wants a clean environment , a sane foreign policy and protection
    of the average citizen from the power of the state.
    A true leftist will never vote for Obama, and I mean never!!
    Both Obama and McCain are war-mongers and beholden to big Business/Money. As a matter of fact, Obman got from Wall St. more campaign contributions than what McCain got.
    Vote for the Green Party. It has the organization for a viable third
    party that will break the current monoply. Yes, it will lose this election, but with perseverence and as more people realise the sham
    of the current two party system, it eventually will win.
    Continuously voting for the “lesser of two evils” is a vote for despair , hopelessness and no REAL CHANGE ever.

  56. Max Shields said on October 24th, 2008 at 6:53pm #

    Frank, it’s always a question of who’s dissing who.

    As of late, we’ve had an onslaught of Obama supporters like you coming and providing absolutely no factual basis for their support other than to speak of Obama’s intelligence and the some kind of “movement”. They fail repeatedly to provide a cogent argument that makes Obama’s policies any different in substance to that of his Republican counterpart.

    There are those here, who question the credibility of the two party system and the candidates they produce.

    Your arguments are common pop talk that we hear on the regular mainstream corporate owned news. So, while you may feel you’ve found a “new” face and a “movement” behind it, there are those, who simply see no there there.

    We see Obama’s advisors and they look like Clinton’s advisors. For those who think American capitalism, free trade and neoliberalism is good, well Obama certainly serves your purposes.

    If, on the other hand, you seek real fundamental change, then Obama, and this is not an impression, this is based on his website and the words of his many speaking engagements, is simply a void.

    While, I may have a problem with Zinn and Chomsky, I don’t think of them, as I’ve come to see you, as Obama enthusiasts. It is clear they are not on your side. My concern with them is that their works do not allow for a kind war vs a vicious one; and yet Obama gives no hope regarding a change in the imperialism Zinn and Chomsky rail against, and have for 40-50 years. I find that intellectually dishonest.

    So, Frank, do not conflate these intellectuals with your position. I’m not sure if you buy the neoliberal free market. If you do, as I said, you have your man. If not, you are smitten with a speech maker and confuse a crowd, however big, with a movement.

    Movements are unified around clear positions. War? Obama only has a problem with the selection of Iraq. Energy? Clean Coal and nuclear are on the table. Patriot Act. Signed-off. Iraq war funding. Signed-off on it. etc.

    What is the Obama movement?

    You see, Frank, it’s not dissing to question the rationale and reason you’re applying. I apologize if I fail to see anything “dissident” about your remarks here.

    Deadbeat, perhaps Frank is the “leftist” you’ve been charging with undermining itself.

  57. Frank Gormlie said on October 24th, 2008 at 7:17pm #

    Max, I find you dishonest and a fraud. And that’s too bad. By insulting me, Zinn, others who disagree with you, you do a dis-service to yourself, your blog, and forces for change. You have not ‘heard’ a word I’ve said, instead you have labeled me as an ‘Obama ethusiast’ as if the world has never heard of a popular front. You have not given anything I and apparently others who have attempted to talk with you any credit. It’s all you, Max, and you’re right, as usual.

  58. lichen said on October 24th, 2008 at 7:31pm #

    Yes, it is criminal negligence to vote for someone who aspires to be an ecocidal, poverty-creating war criminal, like Obama. Center-rightists who come here to attempt to defend Obama and insult the left have no principals themselves to speak from. I will never vote for that scum-sucking fraud, nor do I support the media apparatus that props up this fake democracy with it’s fake candidate, who has nothing but the status quo behind him and will do nothing to change that. The democrats will always be the problem, as will the lesser evilists and those who claim that a movement to bring real democracy to this country is impossible.

  59. MrSynec said on October 24th, 2008 at 7:53pm #

    To MaxSheild,

    I read and admired and agreed with most of your postings until your post of 3:49. You went out on tangent and seemed like you are ranting. What is going on.!!?? One of your rants talked about PEAK OIL. PEAK oil is trick to suppott Nuclear Energy, Ethanol and raising oil prices. Yes, there is a limited amount of oil in earth NOW, but technology is progressing and may new oil is forming and new source of energyt is coming on line like solar, wind, hydro and thermal to name a few. So, PEAK OIL is not a pressing issue right now. It might
    be , but not in the near future.
    In the last few days oil went from $147/barrel to $67/barrel. What
    happened to “we are running out of oil, so we have to raise the price??!!

  60. Alice said on October 24th, 2008 at 9:53pm #

    That kicked serious ass…just what I needed right now…

    Groove out,
    -Alice

  61. Max Shields said on October 25th, 2008 at 5:44am #

    MrSynec,
    Not sure which post you’re talking about regarding the “tirade”. I must admit I was having a Celine moment with Frank.

    As to peak oil, it’s observable, not theoretical, and I would add, that while there are all kinds of nut-jobs who want nuclear energy (sorry if there are any out there), I don’t think peak oil is a conspiracy to get nukes.

    Why? Because all of the serious geologists who talk about peak oil being real are anti-nuke or at least not advocating nukes. For instance one of the many widely researched are the works of Richard Heinberg. Heinberg is no friend of the nuke industry; just the opposite.

    Exploiting peak oil to interject nukes is a capitalist ploy; but it does not diminish the fact that peak oil is happening. The truth is even if you think nuclear is a “good” alternative, uranium according to Heinberg is even in worse shape regarding its availability than oil.

    That whole oil areas peak, again, is not a theory. It is real, observable and when it happens those areas are forever lost as sources of oil. The aggregate of the world’s known oil is at or near peak. That is when it begins to cost more in energy to get it out of the ground than the energy it produces.

    The point that Heinberg, and many other peak oil geologists make, is that our consumption has grown expotentially. It is not merely about alternatives, whatever they are, because the demand for the very sources of energy outstrip the supply. Heinberg understands that a consumptive growth economy requiring natural resources is unsustainable. Western life style is toxic and will require a complete redo.

    As to prices, MrSynec, the market price of oil does not reflect anything having to do with what’s in the ground. Ask yourself, did they open a new refinery during the last 2 months? What really changed that would reduce it. You see, natural resources, oil, copper, etc. are treated as commodities. And while they are processes, they are not manufactured. And the grades of oil are not equal. Much of what we see is low grade at this point. Regardless, the price goes up and down. That’s called market speculation and has nothing to do with the real economy or situation with peak oil.

    Again, no doubt, you have come across those who use this as the basis for nuclear energy. That’s what capitalists do with just about anything – you’ve seen the Che teeshirts?

    I am a staunch opponent. I would strongly suggest you check out Rebecca Solnit’s Reasons Not to Glow. She provides what I think is the most succinct, well written points to be made against nuclear energy.

  62. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 25th, 2008 at 6:22am #

    what to me is of significance is the fact that finallyin US a second party emerged.
    and if nader get’s 3-5% of the votes it wld be for me and pals, iraqis, iranians, syrians, et al an astounding success.
    nader is just begining. he’s not giving up; he loves america.
    a vote for the ‘loser’ is a success. thnx

  63. Ramsefall said on October 25th, 2008 at 6:50am #

    Whew, has this been a hot thread going nowhere or what? Slinging feces isn’t going to change the nation’s pathetic socio-politico-economic reality, it’ll only make the place smell more like crap.

    Whether you blindly support the duopoly and believe there is a left, or hold to the theory that exercising what little rights remain by voting a third party is obligatory, the fact of the matter is the vote is being cast for a mascot — nothing more. Sure, Obama might bring a barely noticeable change, but it won’t be anything significant and it certainly won’t resuscitate the economy nor the imbalanced principles on which it is based. As for Nader, too many of us wasted that card in 2000 and it got us W, make the same mistake a second time and you’ll see Palin as VP, perhaps even P eventually.

    You give the Presidents of contemporary times far too much credit; his/her strings are pulled by the military-industrial-complex and the corporatocracy, i.e. the ruling elite. Those are the institutions of absolute power in the US or the men behind the curtain, however it’s chosen to be seen. And yes, Eisenhower is rolling in his grave as the bickering builds. The petroleum cartels, banking racketeers, Wall Street pigs and Washington cronies all fornicate in the same bed and present the public with the rhetorical puppets they best see fit to help maintain their course. True progressives like Rosa Parks wouldn’t stand a chance in this today’s climate, sadly enough.

    I sympathize with all of the contributors here, and like Bill Clinton I feel your pain and frustrations, for it’s an uphill battle which has never resembled an exponential curve so accurately. There’s certainly no comfort in realizing how misaligned the nation and the rest of the world truly is at present, nor that it will take a hell of a lot more than a vote to attain any sort of shift in the right direction. From this dysfunctional monetary-based economy which produces scarcity around the globe in order to create greater profits, to an uncontrollable addiction on petroleum and a runaway corporate industry which has siphoned off nearly all the Constitutional Rights established by our Forefathers, it all needs to be flushed away, for the present models are not based on sustainability of functionality.

    What’s happening is happening for a reason, it is the path we must tread as our awareness increases in order to reach our final destination whether here or beyond. It’s all just a ride people. The only thing we can do as individuals is experience unconditional love, then collectively we’ll begin to see the changes we desire — that is the only option, i.e. choice.

    I believe James Marshal Hendrix summarized it best, “When the power of love overcomes the love of power, the world will know peace”.

  64. rentstrike said on October 25th, 2008 at 6:59am #

    Two men who are tools of the military-industrial complex still can have significant differences. GWB rolled back 200 — yes, 200 — environmental regulations in his first years in office. Is anyone here suggesting that Gore would have done the same? Does anyone doubt that our environment is significantly and perhaps irrevocably more dangerously polluted as a result?

    Bush cut off USAID condom shipments to sixteen low-income nations in Africa and Asia, including Kenya, Lesotho, Ethiopia and Zambia. Since USAID is the primary source of condoms to countries that can’t afford them, the result has been devastating in terms of the continued spread of HIV. A Palin administration (we have to assume the worst) certainly would continue to withhold AIDS prevention materials from clinics and national health services that do not agree to abide by a gag rule preventing them from providing medical information about abortion.

    Species extinction is irrevocable. HIV transmission is irreversible.

    I’m serious, Mickey. I want an answer: Does or does not what actually happens as a result of the election matter? Do we have the right to use the people and animals who would die under McCain-Palin but not under Obama-Biden as pawns to make an obscure political point that won’t be heard by anybody anyway? It’s not as though withholding one’s personal vote in any way contributes to the long-term struggle for an alternative way of organizing our economies and communities.

    Either McCain or Obama will be the next President. We can’t change that. Those who live in battleground states might be able to help determine which it is. Which it is probably will make a material difference, if not to us personally, to many, many other beings.

    People in other countries wish they could vote in our elections because their own lives and livelihoods hang in the balance. When it comes to climate change, we are the rogue nation. The actual, physical fate of the planet depends in part on what US voters decide. Environmental experts say that Obama’s stated plans are significantly better than those of McCain. We have no reason to doubt them.We’ve already spent eight crucial years going backwards. It really is an emergency. Playing “politics as usual” — e.g., pretending that substantially different candidates are exactly the same because they serve the same economic interests — is unethical in this context.

  65. Max Shields said on October 25th, 2008 at 7:17am #

    rentstrike
    We really don’t (that include you and I) what Gore would have done as president. First, his record on war which is the biggest anti-environment (re: life) is right there with the best of the militarists.

    It is what happens when the system and the candidate are one. And all the establishment (2 party) candidates are one with the system. I think that should be clear.

    Was the killing of thousands in Bosnia, Somolia, and Iraq during the Clinton/Gore administration acceptable to you? Is that the alternative you think is worthy of consideration on voting day? Remember the US terrorists attacks on Iraq, and the embargo that arguably kill hundreds of thousands of Iraqis – all during Clinton/Gore.

    Critical thinking is called for political calculations about lesser of two evils. We, humans, can do better than that.

    For me, it is mere bickering to argue Obama vs McCain. Their mudslinging are all red herrings. Obama a “socialist”?!? What nonsense, but it keeps progressives on the defense so they pay no attention to the Obama policies of imperial war and zionist machinations.

    It’s like Clinton with Lewinski. Who was paying attention while the US lit a torch to the Balkans?

    Differences. Of course. Meaningful differences, for some, but for most absolutely not.

    There are third party candidates who don’t mince words, who call it like they see it, not like their handlers tell them to see it.

    It’s your decision. I think it takes courage to defy the military industrial complex. Obama cannot do it; but you can.

  66. proximity1 said on October 25th, 2008 at 8:04am #

    citing you:

    “But along came 2004…when Chomsky said stuff like this: “Anyone who says ‘I don’t care if Bush gets elected’ is basically telling poor and working people in the country, ‘I don’t care if your lives are destroyed’.” And like this: “Despite the limited differences [between Bush and Kerry] both domestically and internationally, there are differences. In a system of immense power, small differences can translate into large outcomes.” ”

    “Standing alongside Chomsky was Howard Zinn, saying stuff like this: “Kerry, if he will stop being cautious, can create an excitement that will carry him into the White House and, more important, change the course of the nation.” ”

    ” Fast forward to 2008 and Chomsky sez: “I would suggest voting against McCain, which means voting for Obama without illusions.” And once again, Howard Zinn is in agreement: “Even though Obama does not represent any fundamental change, he creates an opening for a possibility of change.” (Two word rejoinder: Bill Clinton)”

    “This strategy of choosing an alleged “lesser evil” because he/she might be influenced by some mythical “popular movement” would be naïve if put forth by a high school student. Professors Chomsky and Zinn know better. If it’s incremental change they want, why not encourage their many readers to vote for Ralph Nader or Cynthia McKinney? The classic (read: absurd) reply to that question is: “Because Nader or McKinney can’t win.” ”

    “Of course they can’t win if everyone who claims to agree with them inexplicably votes for Obama instead. Paging Alice: You’re wanted down the goddamned rabbit hole.”

    Another possible answer as to why folks like Chomsky and Zinn don’t aggressively and tirelessly stump for Nader or McKinney is this: 2004 proved that the high profile Left is essentially impotent and borderline irrelevant. Chomsky and Zinn were joined in the vocal, visible, and vile Anybody-But-Bush ranks by “stars” like Michael Moore, Susan Sarandon, Medea Benjamin, Sean Penn, Barbra Streisand, Manning Marable, Naomi Klien, Phil Donahue, Barbara Ehrenreich, Martin Sheen, Bruce Springsteen, Eddie Vedder, Cornel West, etc. etc. and John Kerry still lost. ”

    ——————————————————————————

    Cynthia McKinney? That’s your _serious_ alternative to Barack Obama? Cynthina McKinney is at _best_ only an alternative to Sarah Palin, a yet bigger dope, lacking even more in what should be deemed the minimum necessaary attributes for a person in or in line for the office of president of the United States.

    A vote for John McCain is comparable to playing Russian Roulette with all the chambers loaded. A vote for Ms. McKinney or Mr. Nader instead is comparable to removing _one_ round from the fully-loaded revolver and then playing Russian Roulette.

    What’s actually going on in this election–though you’re too stupid to appreciate it—is that, with a bit of luck, what remains of _responsible_ voting adults in the United States are going to save _both_ the brain-dead Bush-Cheney-Rove-McCain hopeless morons _AND_ their leftward complement, idiots of the sort you represent, FROM THEMSELVES.

    As faulty as Obama is as a candidate, the United States will literally _not_ survive as a nation or a society long enough for Nader or McKinney or anyone else to come along afterward and put the place back together—even if they were capable of that and they are manifestly NOT capable of it— if Obama is not elected.

    That, however, is a purely academic question, since, no matter what else happens, neither McKinney nor Nader are going to come anywhere close to being elected, and the chances now look very small for McCain barring his stealing the election through fraud.

    That leaves the still very _large_ probability that, even _with_ Obama’s best efforts joined with those of all the best and brightest in the nation, there shall still be no reversing the final decline and self-inflicted destruction of the United States, so dazzling stupid are its people.

    You and your arguments here offer an excellent example of that.

  67. Jonathan said on October 25th, 2008 at 9:22am #

    Frank, you are right the Obama frenzy is a ‘Movement’ – a corporate sponsored feel-good delusion. Speaking of delusion, believing that Obama or any Dem President can cause real change or that there is such a meaningful difference between Reps and Dems (re Gore vs Bush etc) is also delusional in the same way that banking on a democratic congress cutting funding for the war or impeaching Bush was a fantasy.
    Rentstrike, what is your evidence that Obama/Biden would be so much more benevolent than McCain/Palin?

  68. e poc said on October 25th, 2008 at 9:22am #

    One thing I would like to point out is that real change does not happen four years at a time. And of course real change does not happen because one president (even third-party presidents) gets elected rather than another. I have no problem with people who think that electing Barack Obama is the best path to true change (although I think they’re wrong) and I don’t think it’s productive to call him or his supporters names or get angry about it. But I think we all have to remember how slow change is and how much sacrifice it takes. It doesn’t come by electing Obama or electing Nader or McKinney. But it also doesn’t come by electing McCain. When this country was founded, only rich white men could vote; women and blacks couldn’t own property; most black people were chattel slaves. It’s become very sad to me that we’re so scared of the fucking Patriot Act or signing statements that we think it’s worth giving up our principles on election day in order to secure a modestly better outcome on election day. This is a point on which I really agree with the author of this post: Chomsky and Zinn both know that real change happens slowly at grassroots levels, but they (like the rest of us) seem to be forgetting that now that there’s a good chance of marginal change for the next four years. The question, to my mind, is really whether we care about the next four years more than we care about real, sustainable change. We got through eight years of Bush; we can get through four of McCain. We can get through four of Palin if we have to. That’s fine. I’m prepared for that. It’s not even a matter of principle; it’s a matter of keeping our eyes on the prize, so to speak. And if we want real change we have to work for it, even in elections. It seems like most of us know that Obama does not represent real change. If some of you think that his election would somehow catalyze the forces of real change, that’s fine, but I strongly disagree. For the rest of us, I think it’s our responsibility to put our vote behind the principles of real change. In absolutely nothing we do should fear play a part. In absolutely nothing we do should we believe that the next four years matter more than the next 400.

  69. Max Shields said on October 25th, 2008 at 9:41am #

    e poc to your point about “slow change”, I really think we’re not talking about change that is determined through a democractic process which can be very slow. If, in fact we are collapsing, that fall could be precipitous and thus require massive urgent changes.

    This is not about business as usual cycles – economic or electorial. This is about what we’ve done which is now moving rapidly out of human control. It is the consequences of that that we will have to respond to. Can the political system, such as it is, and the officials they produce deal with series of crises? So far I don’t see that capacity. The system is incapable. It might be that someone can, through the urgency of what is upon us, bring about the kind of change that is necessary.

    It is not a question of who will be president, I agree that we’ve lived through Bush, Reagan, and Nixon; and living through LBJ was no picknick with the slaughter in Vietnam and ultimately the broadening war in Southeast Asia.

    Getting lost in an election and thinking, believing that there is a “movement” behind one of the candidates is delusional. That may protect our personal psyche for a moment but denial will not produce the necessary reactions (deluding oneself into thinking that the system has produced a candidate, with a movement (it is antithetical to what a movement is!) is a form of denial.

    We can make nice and pretend this is simply business as usual and “why can’t we all just get along”, but rearranging the decks on the Titanic come instantly to mind.

  70. proximity1 said on October 25th, 2008 at 9:43am #

    epoc writes,

    “But I think we all have to remember how slow change is and how much sacrifice it takes. It doesn’t come by electing Obama or electing Nader or McKinney. But it also doesn’t come by electing McCain. When this country was founded, only rich white men could vote; women and blacks couldn’t own property; most black people were chattel slaves. It’s become very sad to me that we’re so scared of the fucking Patriot Act or signing statements that we think it’s worth giving up our principles on election day in order to secure a modestly better outcome on election day.”

    But recent experience–that between November of 2000 and the present—belies this claim. _Sometimes_ (as our own times are witness) “change” happens with alarming speed. The changes which Bush-Cheney and Rove, and their organized supporters inside and outside of government have wrought are truly stupendous.

    If you took time to list all the ways in which constitutional government has been dismantled since G.W. Bush took office, you’d be face to face with the evidence that disputes the claims that “real change does not happen four years at a time” and “real change does not happen because one president (even third-party presidents) gets elected rather than another”.

    At times, _yes_, “real change” does come about from just _one_ election. That change can be anything from minor to epochal in its character. Bush’s tenure has meant change for the worse on an enormous scale AND in enormously serious _nature_. Thus, _both_ the scope and the nature of the change which Bush-Cheney have produced are quite real and quite devastating.

  71. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 25th, 2008 at 9:45am #

    max, as far as i know most of the killings in bosnia was perped by serbs.
    or better yet, velikoserbs, the fascists.
    amers have entered the frey in ’94 and on the side of muslims and croats.
    and croats of bosnia were velikocroats and fascists (veliko=greater)
    wld u care to cite the number of people US had slain in bosnia and where/when in bosnia?
    i won’t go into the justification of nato for invading bosnia.thnx

  72. Max Shields said on October 25th, 2008 at 10:12am #

    Bob, I’m not arguing about whether Serbs were killing more or less people, I’m addressing American military interventionism; and I’m talking about it not as a single act but as an orchestrated foreign policy.

    More later…

  73. Frank Gormlie said on October 25th, 2008 at 11:06am #

    You guys win! You’ve convinced me never to ever drop by here and waste a dime again. Hope you’re proud that you are so divisive, dogmatic and enliven your own sectarianism that you turn off people to anything vital in your message. I checked back just to see if there was any, any mitigation of Max’s tirades, and there is none.

  74. Max Shields said on October 25th, 2008 at 11:16am #

    Frank, on your way out read Max Kantar’s article.

    Adios, amigo!

  75. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 25th, 2008 at 11:30am #

    frank,
    i avoid like plague labeling or attacking people or even their ideas; instead as much as possible i posit some facts, conclusions, and suggest what can be done.
    i agree that there is too much ad hominem labels on dv also. thnx

  76. mary said on October 25th, 2008 at 11:40am #

    FYI Naomi Wolf and Howard Zinn are on Global Research Radio next Monday with Stephen Lendman
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=10685

  77. proximity1 said on October 25th, 2008 at 12:18pm #

    ” i avoid like plague labeling or attacking people or even their ideas; instead as much as possible i posit some facts, conclusions, and suggest what can be done. i agree that there is too much ad hominem labels on dv also. thnx “—bozhidar bob balkas

    And Bush, Cheney, Rove, etc. really appreciate that, too!

    Please, let us not _label_ anyone, or their ideas, and, for heaven’s sake, let’s not (verbally) _attack_ them! Why, that would be _rude_, wouldn’t it? I mean, these people have fostered and been directly responsible for programs and policies which rightly make them internationally liable for prosecution as war criminals. They’ve systematically dismantled constiutional government in the United States and replaced that with not with what “might become” a lawless police state, but what is that in fact already.

    But, let’s all remain calm and polite at all times, as civilization is flushed down the toilet. Because when it’s too late, when every priceless freedom is gone, what will count _most_ to those living in the aftermath is how we all remained on our best polite behavior, treating _everyone_ and everyone’s words and deeds with respect. No matter _how_ morally repugnant and outrageous and destrcutive of the common good those words and deeds were.

    goodie for _you_, “bob”!!

  78. rosemarie jackowski said on October 25th, 2008 at 1:40pm #

    Frank said…”Rosemarie and KF – if you really think we are living under fascism now, what are you doing about it? Have you become like a ‘good German’? Why haven’t you moved? Once fascism is firmly in place, it can only be destroyed from without….”
    Looks like Frank has left the discussion here. I was going to answer him, but Hue Longer did it for me. THANKS HUE.

  79. ajohnstone said on October 25th, 2008 at 2:04pm #

    I always quote a previous presendential candidate when i come across the lesser of two evils argument about casting votes and will do so again here .
    “It is better to vote for what you want and not get it than to vote for what you don’t want and get it.” Eugene V. Debs

  80. Hue Longer said on October 25th, 2008 at 4:05pm #

    Your Welcome Rosemarie—but he didn’t seem to care.

    This talk of Gore would have been greener is exactly why McCain will be better than Obama (hear me out).

    Max brought up the easy one with Gore’s war credentials, but the stuff that most Democrats consider green he gets high marks on as well…

    NAFTA was his baby….he was THE salesman for it

    Clinton gets a lot of credit for saving the Northwest but his business as usual without a fight winking continued paying companies to cut down trees with US tax dollars…Gore said nothing from day one until the end when he pretended to not be for the salvage law

    He was a fox hired to guard the hen house when it came to Kyoto…he killed it because it was unfair to the US.

    I’m sure there’s more, but they don’t come immediately to mind because so few talk about Gore and Clinton in this kind of light. That is because Dems don’t hear attacks from the right concerning this stuff (why would they?) and they believe their guy is on the left. Clinton and Gore was a disaster for the world and the gift that McCain will give is that at least the “left” won’t fall asleep at the wheel defending blow jobs while the world burns.

    So this isn’t speculation, Gore would have made up for his lack of plain daylight belligerence with his ether like effect on his supporters. Most Democrats believe Afghanistan was a great idea, imagine what else they would have supported if it was a “good guy” doing it.

    Vote Nader and if that actually gets McCain in, get mad at Democrats who didn’t help but then understand it is better medicine

  81. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 25th, 2008 at 5:00pm #

    but when/where/how was ever power wrested from any ruling class?
    i know of no country (except china, korea, cuba, venezuela) in which a ruling class had been deposed by any means whatsoever and replaced w. a socialist governance.
    and least of all by politico-clerico-educational means. farouk had been deposed in egypt and we have there now a dictatorship/corruption.
    how ab. france, germany, UK, and an endless number of countries?
    in all of them there is stratification and vast gap betwn classes in econo-military-political power.
    does warfare against afgh’n not prove it? why do we still have royalty and nobles in UK.
    and all arab lands r ruled by the rich: sultans, emirs, kings. education/protest against such people has not emended the sit’n in those lands an iota.
    scholing for children was allowed and now made mandatory because the ruling class finally saw that it can enormously benifit.
    balloting was also allowed because it was obvious (finally) to the ruling class that this too is good for the rulers.
    in short, it is not movements that change anything for better.
    unless, of course, let’s say in US, it had 200mn members.
    e.euro lands have deposed communism but look what is happening. these lands now send their boys to kill children in afgha’n and iraq.
    education is the only. i see no other way. thnx

  82. Nigel said on October 25th, 2008 at 5:05pm #

    The conscience vs. cold reality debate: It seems to me the most compelling argument for voting 3rd is to help build a movement in that direction. Voting for the candidate you ‘want’ just on general principles, if performed by enough people, will result in a McCain presidency, so the only valid reason to do that is if you think there is literally no difference between the two. But that’s just not true, even if it is almost true. It’s the difference between Justices Ginsberg and Alito; between escalation of Afghanistan over Iraq, and Afghanistan AND Iraq; between greater social service privatization, and the very modest but still preferable changes in the healthcare system that Obama prescribes. So voting conscientiously is an idle exercise here, you must pick. Arguing that choosing one of the two is just a perpetuation of the paradigm is only valid if you are willing to start planting bombs and lead an insurrection (not that that has no place). However, addressing the first possible reason for voting 3rd, that you want to create a wide movement of voters rejecting the duopoly: this does has theoretical merit. I just think, though, that this is not how such a movement is built. It has to come from the bottom, which means city councils, county officials, and state leaders. As long as local politics is still dominated by the duopoly, you can’t just make the leap onto the national stage. If you simply can’t bring yourself to vote Obama, fine, don’t. But understand that it doesn’t mean people who do are treasonous or criminally negligent.

  83. Beverly said on October 25th, 2008 at 6:22pm #

    Chomsky and Zinn are classic examples of why the left is beyond lame. They are so intimidated by the Democratic party that they refuse to demand anything of relevance from puppet candidates nor will they call out said puppets for the hypocrisies, evasions, and capitulations to ill-advised right wing policies.

    The party keeps these cowards, along with the rest of its constituents, in line with fearmongering – “If you don’t vote Democrat, bad things will happen – abortion will be outlawed, war will rage on, jobs will be lost, a pox will envelope the land.”

    By now, these Code Orange alerts should ring hollow in leftist ears. A Democratic president was head cheerleader for NAFTA. Today’s vice-presidential nominee was in favor of invading Iraq BEFORE 9/11. Today’s Democratic majority in Congress rubberstamps ill advised policies (continued war funding, wiretapping, job killing trade deals) of a Republican president with approval ratings lower than Nixon.

    In the 70s, the Chrysler bailout included conditions that benefited taxpayers and company workers in the event the company returned to profitability. What concessions of relevance for the current bailout did today’s Dems get other than a few tweaks that will aid far too few homeowners and communities? And did I mention that Democratic politicians helped craft legislation to deregulate the financial industry, much of which contributed to the current mess?

    Supreme court nominees? Democratic senators on the nominating panel spend more time gushing over the medival, regressive nominee than with tough questioning about potential issues the court will hear. This includes questions on corporate accountability, not just abortion and affirmative action.

    Foreign policy? Be the administration Republican or Democrat, imperialist policies to enrich corporations and military contractors abound under the guise of spreading democracy and freedom. The cost to U.S. citizens? Death and injury to soliders; tax dollars looted by war profiteers rather than spent on domestic needs; increased terrorism against U.S. citizens at home and abroad.

    All this voting Democrat sure did “help” the nation.

    How the party bigwigs must piss their pants and pantyhose laughing at how easy it is to get over on not just the ignorant average Joes informed via uninformative media, but also the highly educated/older and “allegedly wiser” types like Chomsky and Zinn along with veterans of the political/social trenches such as civil rights advocates and labor organizers – people who have dealt and dithered with the party long enough to know better.

    As for those “stars” Mickey Z mentioned, sadly they do have sway over their adoring fans, especially the rock musicians and filmmakers. So you get a crapload of younger voters blindly following endorsements The Boss, and whatever the current It band of the moment is, along with fat assed sellout Michael Moore. The limousine liberal crowd is alive and well amongst this group along with their Hollywood friends whose Babylon of good times will roll on regardless of who occupies the White House and Congress. They are useless to aiding the masses in getting anything out of either political party – and like professional intellectuals such as Chomsky, West, and Zinn – total cowards in confronting the Democratic party and more effectively – supporting a third party or independent candidate.

  84. Andy Best said on October 26th, 2008 at 4:05am #

    I’m in late here but I feel I have a valid point for everyone. I was reading Frank and RMJ’s little exchange about if we already have fascism or not.

    The problem is that we judge whether we live in a regime or not based on very very extreme sterotypes of what that would be like. We have been propagandised.

    I have lived in Shanghai now for seven years. It is definitely a non-transparent authoritarian government that routinely jails or executes dissenters of one form or another.

    My surprise was how free most people were and how close it was to back home (UK). You are basicaly free here, in day to day life, unless you cross certain lines. But – it’s clearly a regime of sorts, albeit one that still makes certain concessions to stop outright revolt.

    I can go to diverse rock gigs and the local bands can rip into the Olympics set up or issues, mock anything they like and we’re all dressed like punks and blah blah. But if you want to take community action that opposes the national ideology – the gloves come off. Sound familiar?

    What I got out of this experience was this: the sudden awareness of how close we are to this back home. And that, in some areas, we were there already.

    For example. You can protest here – but you have to apply for a permit and follow rules set by the people you are protesting. Its hard to get and when you finally get out there you are under constant risk of violent police action for the slightest perceived infraction. Sound familiar?

    When we ask ourselves how bad things are and if we need to take action – lets make sure we are not using a McCarthy style cartoon of the single worst day at the height of Stalin’s regime as the comparison.

    If you see what I mean?

    Andy.

  85. Max Shields said on October 26th, 2008 at 8:07am #

    I think our understanding of fascism which is very much aligned to none other than Mussilini. But from FDR

    Franklin D. Roosevelt on fascism

    The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it comes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism – ownership of government by an individual, by a group or by any controlling private power.”

    I would say, we’re are clearly there!

  86. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 26th, 2008 at 8:16am #

    i remember that some weeks ago i labeled chomsky as a “minizionist”.
    some people were angered over this.
    a minizionist to me is for a twostate ‘sol’n’. a maxizionist keeps an eye on much more that just tiny, impoverished expalestine.
    twostate ‘sol’n’ wld reward enormous crimes against yet another indigenous people.
    and the war criminals may not ever face any court, even after thier deaths. some justice.
    people who tell people to vote for obama, who may or may not be “greater evil”, r to me persona non grata.

  87. Jonathan said on October 26th, 2008 at 11:18am #

    I think both these videos are worth watching in light of the discussion as it is as they say straight from the horses mouth and interestingly Chomsky does not explicitly endorse Obama but rather echoes what Nigel suggests – there virtually no differences between the two parties but in a longer span of time the majority of Americans fare marginally better under a democratic Pres.
    http://www.zmag.org/zvideo/2871
    http://www.zmag.org/zvideo/2869

  88. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 26th, 2008 at 12:37pm #

    folks who suggest people vote for obama do not espy an obvious fact: there is only one constitution.
    and there is only one interpreter/interpretation of the constitution. and one is either for that constitution/interpretation or not.
    a working person, whether white, black, latino need not be bothering to apply for the job of interpreting the constitution.
    and folks, there is only one governance in US. and u’r for it or against it.
    and there is only one party in US.
    nader is starting a second party. do not expect it to be of much significance for decades.
    it’s a start. and i am astounded that i some people have starded.
    to me zinn and chomsky r fundamentally wrong. Or? have they been threatened by uncle? thnx

  89. Jeremy Wells said on October 26th, 2008 at 2:26pm #

    Obama and the Democratic Party are fully complicit in maintaing the corporate status quo. Especially when corporate capitalism is collapsing, Obama fully supported the bailout rewarding the very system and individuals who have causef the latest fraud upon the people.

    Obama is not against the undending global wars for power and profit. Obama supports keeping corporate profit in the collapsed privatized health care system. Obama speaks of establishing a “national service” (ie. the universal draft) to further impose U.S. corporate interests. etc.etc. ad nauseum.

    To think that “pressure” can be applied to Obama AFTER the election, when he is fully compromised BEFORE the election, is insane. Obama has surrouneded himself with people such as Rupert Murdoch, Warren Buffett, Republican advisers, etc. His cabinet will be filled by similar corporate operatives who will work to re-establish and maintain corporate.profit.

    Obama has embraced all the directives from his “handlers” representing the interests of the capitalist ruling class. He cannot oppose the interests that put him into power. His candidacy is one last effort effort to deflect the rage of millions of newly impoverished people by cynically creating yet another false hope that somehow the capitalist system still works. After this comes the military suppression of the resulting “civil disorder” that is the inevitable result.

    Vice presidental candidate Biden has spilled the beans, perhaps, in this cynically warning of what the capitalist ruling class has in store for us once figurehead Obama is installed.

    Biden’s chilling remarks at fundraiser
    What “incredibly tough” foreign policy actions is Obama preparing?
    By Patrick Martin
    22 October 2008

    http://www.wsws.org/articles/2008/oct2008/bidn-o22.shtml

    “In remarks made over the weekend in Seattle, Democratic vice presidential candidate Joseph Biden warned that Barack Obama, if elected president, would be compelled to take deeply unpopular actions in both domestic and foreign policy within months of taking office.

    In closed-door gatherings with two audiences of Democratic Party insiders and fundraisers, Biden forecast a major international crisis in the first six months of an Obama administration.”

  90. Max Shields said on October 26th, 2008 at 3:42pm #

    Jonathan,

    This slight difference that Chomsky seems to advocate, however slight, reminds me of Solomon’s decision on how best to divide the baby.

    It is trite and meaningless to say that one Party provides somewhat better than the other. This is particularly true when we realize that we are not in some kind of linear trajectory that allows an interplay of two parties = good guy/bad guy.

    How does one say that people fare slightly better when the empire requires its pound of human flesh on the battle field? The life of what Pakistan or Afghan child is worth this “slightly better” deal; this Hobbsian choice?

    Who can write book after book, decade after decade; and make a fair living at it, no less, and utter, this slight difference as if to say, well, if you gotta go to the polls, better to pick the Dem than the Rep., when Chomsky could be saying there are TWO candidates who agree with what I’ve been expounding decade after decade, book after book: Nader and McKinney – if you must vote, by god, vote for one of them!

    That’s called having the courage of your convictions.

  91. mystylplx said on October 26th, 2008 at 7:44pm #

    “The lessor of two evils.”

    That very way of thinking is part of what Obama has been running against–the philosophy which believes that anyone who doesn’t agree with you 100% is “evil.” And since Obama agrees with you more than McCain then he is “the lessor of two evils.”

    The truth is that very way of thinking is the most evil thing there is. The inability to accept diversity of opinion and the need to demonize those who don’t think like you are the foundations of evil in this world.

    Chomsky and Zinn understand that. Neither of them agrees with Obama on every issue, but neither of them feel the need to demonize him either–they see him for who he is and they endorse his candidacy. Obama is not a Saint (neither is Nader) but nor is he a devil. What he is is the best person for the job at this moment in history.

  92. mystylplx said on October 26th, 2008 at 8:21pm #

    Max Sheild wrote: “Who can write book after book, decade after decade; and make a fair living at it, no less, and utter, this slight difference as if to say, well, if you gotta go to the polls, better to pick the Dem than the Rep., ”

    I think you are intentionally misunderstanding. It’s not about “the Dem.” or “the Rep.” Charectorizing them that way ignores the fact that they are two vastly different human beings. Neither of them is “evil,” nor is either of them a saint. But they are two very different people, and pretending there is “no difference” between them is little more than obstinate blindness. And equating each of them with their respective party, as if they each personify their party, is more than obstinate blindness–it’s dishonest obstinate blindness.

  93. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 27th, 2008 at 7:26am #

    let us jump to a clear fact: fact is we don’t know whether one or the other administration wld turn out to be “lesser or greater evil”
    so, electing obama or mccain may amount to even greater suffering for iraqis, et al.
    true, electing dems might mean a few $ more in people’s pockets or it might not.
    voting for nader is voting to end the occupations; bringing healthcare, etc.
    to me, at this time, it is perplexing that some people say, Vote for lesser evil, when the lesser evil in their heads may easily become greater or much greater evil. thnx
    OK, chomsky, zinn tell us wats going on in ur heads.?
    thnx

  94. Martha said on October 27th, 2008 at 8:22am #

    Max Shields boiled it down to the basics: “This slight difference that Chomsky seems to advocate, however slight, reminds me of Solomon’s decision on how best to divide the baby.”

  95. Jonathan said on October 27th, 2008 at 10:05am #

    Max, I completely agree with your comment, and after having thought a bit more about what Chomsky is actually saying with his tacit support for the Dems my respect for him fizzled somewhat. If either Chomsky or Zinn are actually afraid of the consequences of giving their implicit endorsement to the Dems that in it self speaks volumes about the state of things as they are. I can partly understand their lack of courage, that said, given their huge sphere of influence it may have been better had they withheld their opinions.

  96. Max Shields said on October 27th, 2008 at 12:52pm #

    Jonathan,

    It is precisely that sphere of influence that led me to post a response to your first remarks. The strength, call it power, of these two has only eminated from the consistency of their criticism. Even when I’ve disagreed with Chomsky, there is a clear logical consistency that is missing here.

    As far as anyone easily convinced to vote because of some utterances, I suppose they’re simply looking for an excuse.

    I did read that Chomsky did not so much endorse, but stated that those in swing states may want to vote for the Dem and those who are in non-swing states should consider someone like Nader or McKinney.

    If Chomsky resides, as I think he does, in Mass. then by that thinking he should be voting for Nader.

  97. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 27th, 2008 at 4:35pm #

    max,
    my concern is ab zinn et al having been quoted as saying, Vote for lesser evil.
    as for how many people may actually vote for obama is, to me, of much lesser evil than to advise amers to vote for obama. especially, by prominent people.
    more votes for obama because chomsky, et al r advising/telling people to vote for obama, may also be of greater evil.
    now, if i who finished last in my class and having only 3 yrs schooling have figured this out, why cldn’t these very well educated people figured out about possibility/probability of emergence of greater evil whether obama or mccain gets in.
    is not uncle sam in control? if so, u cld elect me for president and i, fearing for my or my wife’s life, wld also commit greater evil.
    or at least as much as evil as uncle demands.
    this analyses shows or even proves that s’mthing has happened.
    eg, are these people minizionist? and obama being better for zionists? thnx

  98. Zeke said on November 2nd, 2008 at 8:59am #

    Acting as if the Democrats and Republicans are different faces of the same coin is facile, immature. I may identify more closely with the Green candidate any given election year, but there is no excuse to vote Green. (And even less to voter Nader.) Without significant electoral reform, 3rd parties are inconsequential – even if the Greens somehow got that 5% they never get. Better to vote for Obama, on the Working Families ticket (NY state). This sends the message that I’m a progressive voter who will hold Obama to any pledges I hold dear.

    That hypothetical Pakistani or Afghan child isn’t going to be impressed with your 3rd party vote. Chomsky and Zinn are correct. Things aren’t black and white; Obama is a shade better.

  99. Max Shields said on November 2nd, 2008 at 11:20am #

    Zeke,

    Now put down you calculator, pencil and paper, and think.

    Now tell us, what positions has Obama taken that you think are worthy of your “mature” vote?

  100. Anna said on December 14th, 2008 at 5:25am #

    This reminds me, to some extent, of the small population of “revolutionary leftists” in the US who literally think they are going to shortly begin a revolution and overthrow the government via coup-d’etat and, therefore, socialism or anarchism or anarcho-insertword-ism will prevail. The fact of the matter is that the majority of the population in this country are completely clueless about the genuine state the country is in because all their information comes from CNN and FOX news and all the other garbage in the mainstream media. Yet somehow these very people, who believe bullshit along the lines of ‘FOX news is “the no spin zone”‘ and ‘the Democratic Party is hard-left’ and ‘America is getting closer and closer to Socialism’ and, for Christ’s sake, ‘Barack Obama is a Communist!’ are going to miraculously shed their straight jackets of misinformation, run into the streets, and take part in a leftist revolution to overthrow their own government. Granted, your take is far more sensible than that, but I still don’t believe it’s sensible enough to translate into any palpable change. You’re right that we don’t have a lot of time, but the sad fact of reality is that, no matter what anyone does, significant transition to a transparent non-imperial more socially and economically-just society is going to be a timely process.. no matter what. The revolutionary left and the Greens (which is not to compare the two, because they are immensely dissimilar) can sit around and wait the rest of their lives for their revolution or the election of a president from their own party, but the reality is that it isn’t just going happen one day out of nowhere. If the Greens want to win a presidential victory (or any third party wants to win such a victory, for that matter), they’d better work their way up. That is to say, they have to start with the House of Reps. Instead of spending their money and effort on a campaign for their undeniably ill-fated presidential candidate, they’d be wise to scrap the idea for a few years and redirect their funds, energy, and attention on securing a few seats in the House and the Senate. I’m not certain about the following statement, but isn’t it generally true abroad that a party with no representation in parliament doesn’t have much of a shot as the head of the nation? Consider: Ralph Nader had, instead of running for president for the past couple decades, poured his resources into building a strong Green Party base and convincing leftists that the Democrats/Republicans are the same brand, putting Greens in congress, and establishing his (former) party as a ‘legitimate’ (as the term would commonly be accepted in the US) political party. Yes, it may have taken a couple decades, but as a result of the effort and patience, he probably would have had a decent shot at being successful in the election just this past November. If not him (considering his age), someone else in the Green Party.
    Look, I’m on the libertarian left, I know where you’re coming from. But I think you have to take into account that being a ‘purist’ in this form (and I mean no disrespect) may ultimately be counterproductive to your goals. If we take the time now to embark on the long process of building a strong base that will be taken seriously, perhaps we will live to see a member of a third party elected president. But these symbolic gestures aren’t moving the country forward an inch. It sucks. But it’s the way it goes.

  101. Ramy said on December 20th, 2008 at 8:50pm #

    Bemoaning the fact that the system is flawed does not change the fact that the system is the only one we have. I wholeheartedly agree that a vote for Nader would be better than a vote for Obama and, of course, McCain. But the point that you bring up about Nader not being able win IS RELEVANT. If you want to vote for Ralph Nader, by all means, please do. I don’t think any vote is ever wasted. But when the (highly flawed, no one is denying) system is such as it is you have to be more realistic. Calling a vote for Obama “an act of criminal negligence” is horrifically inacurrate.
    Let me exaggerate the situation to make the point. Let’s say that instead of John McCain, Adolf Hitler were to accept the Republican nomination. Now your choice becomes a person with real progressive ideas for the oval office but little chance of actually getting to the White House in Ralph Nader, a viable and, for the sake of this argument, Moderate candidate in Barack Obama, and to the right of everyone ever, Hitler. Now, if you know that Ralph Nader is not likely to win because of an albeit unfair two party system, it becomes an act of criminal negligence to vote for Ralph Nader.
    In closing, Mickey, i’d like to say that I have a lot of respect for you and people like you: idealists. You, along with people like Ralph Nader, play an important part in the political discourse in this country and the truth is that we need more people like you who are devoted to progressive ideals. But please, don’t tell me that voting for a man like Barack Obama is an act of criminal negligence. Voting in a two-party system while naively acting oblivious to the system itself is more dangerous than i think you realize.

  102. H.Z. said on February 6th, 2009 at 4:20pm #

    Well, you’re not going to break the paralysis of the two-party system within the party system. In other words, you’re not going to break it in the electoral system by putting up a third-party candidate whose showing will inevitably be pitiful and will therefore only be a demonstration of the weakness of the movement outside of the electoral arena. If you choose to go into the electoral arena, you’d better go in with strength. If you’re going with weakness, you are not doing a progressive movement any good. To me it is a waste of Ralph Nader’s energy to throw himself into the electoral process, ’cause his energy is best used by building a movement, by doing what he has done for most of his life very effectively, reaching out to millions and millions of people who will not vote for him but who really believe in his ideas, and help him to organize those people so that whoever is elected as president will then have to face a constituency, a citizenry which demands change.

  103. bob graph said on March 25th, 2009 at 12:27pm #

    This article is a bunch of self-righteous crap. Chomsky and Zinn have both risked going to prison for resisting the Vietnam war in their careers and have dedicated their lives to radical causes. They deserve more respect in their age than to have a younger writer with obviously not a shred of their talent diss them on the internet. Your books Mickey Z are probably based on their research and theory. So what if you don’t agree with them, 99 percent of the world is reading their books and not yours so show a little respect for the old school.