Obama and the Contradictions of Race in the United States

When I got on the bus last April after Barack Obama’s primary victory in North Carolina, the conversation was, naturally enough, about that victory. Despite its southern location, the town I live in — Asheville, NC — is known for its liberal politics and social tolerance. Consequently, the overriding tone was one of exuberance. Young black men and older veterans of the desegregation struggles of the 1960s smiled knowingly at each other. Indeed, one fellow said to every black person who got on the bus — “Black President.” Occasionally, he gave the new passenger what the right wing called a “terrorist fist pump.” If there was somebody on the bus who objected to this display, they kept their mouth shut.

As any person who follows the US news knows, this silence is disappearing. Indeed, since Sarah Palin hit the campaign trail, the rallies of her supporters and those of her fellow ticket member have become focal points for some of the most racist and small minded elements of the US body politic. The cries of “kill him” and “terrorist” heard at recent GOP campaign rallies are stoked by the slate of commercials appearing on television that insinuate some kind of evil comradeship between Barack Obama and and education professor Bill Ayers. Right wing talk shows and television programs broadcast outright lies that suggest Obama is somehow in league with Osama Bin Laden and hates the United States. They imply that his multiracial background is somehow Unamerican and a threat to national security. The GOP candidates meanwhile, send mixed messages regarding their agreement with these sentiments.

Given the recent rise in racist sentiment against Obama and the attempts to label his background as different from the America most Americans know, the question arises. Is a vote for Barack Obama a vote against racism? Despite his consistent support for a system dependent on racially tinged wars and economic policies that tend to hurt non-white people and nations the most, does the fact that he is an African-American strike a blow against the racist forces still at play in the United States? Will a black man in the White House put a symbolic end to the overriding assumption in US politics that only white men deserve to rule this capitalist preserve?

I believe it will. It will strike a blow against the retrograde racism that still resides in the US subconscious–a racism that surfaces when the racial order is seriously threatened as it was in the 1950s and 1960s during the struggles against racial apartheid in the US South and the more insidious racism of its northern states. It is this same racism that echoes in the attacks on Obama on FoxNews and right wing blogs. An Obama victory would symbolically undo the last vestige of white power in the Washington political world, while at the same time further entrenching the very system that white power birthed and white privilege has maintained.

It will also prove that skin tone, much like Maggie Thatcher’s rule in Great Britain proved about gender, that a person’s skin color does not decide their preference for any particular political or economic system. In other words, being black does not mean that one is a revolutionary. For those of us who have followed the political histories of various third world nations, it is no surprise that the temptation of money and power negates the racial and ethnic allegiances of most men and women. This isn’t to say that Obama has sold himself down a river of avarice and power without principle. It is merely noted to point out that Barack Obama has made it clear that he believes in the US system as much as almost any person who has run for the office. Consequently, he sees his primary role to be ensuring that that system perseveres.

Despite the servitude to this system built on the sweat and blood of African slaves, immigrant and native workingmen and women, and the blood of too many young men and women in uniform, Barack Obama’s run for president has become a historically important event. If he makes it to the White House, his presence there has the potential to become an event on par with the presidency of Abraham Lincoln during a bitter and bloody war that ended slavery in the United States. Like Lincoln, Obama is a servant of the capitalist system. Also like Lincoln, he is no radical, not even in his own party. Yet, like Lincoln, his presence in the White House could very well begin another re-imagination of the never-ending story of race in America. No matter what, his candidacy has highlighted the ever-present contradictions of a nation that founded itself by proclaiming the freedom and equality of all men while enslaving a considerable portion of its dark-skinned population.

Ron Jacobs is the author of The Way The Wind Blew: A History of the Weather Underground and Tripping Through the American Night, and the novels Short Order Frame Up and The Co-Conspirator's Tale. His third novel All the Sinners, Saints is a companion to the previous two and was published early in 2013. Read other articles by Ron.

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  1. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 16th, 2008 at 8:54am #

    ron jacobs,
    i do not mean to bring u up, ron. i see what i see.
    i’l leave the word “racism” undefined. the label self explains very little.
    but what is clear is the fact that people look dwn on people.
    so, this aspect of discrimination or discernment shld not be conflated w. racism.
    after all, that’s why we have tittles: baronses, graf, lord, earl, prince, king, et al.
    to me, this is invidious. and i haven’t read a word ab such discrimination; not even in DV.
    one can’t be a racist if one criticises ashkenazic volk. one is most likely angry/hateful against or envious of them .
    in other words, a poor person doesn’t look dwn on germans, french, ashkenazim, et al; a poor person may be envious/angry/hateful.
    racism may described as set of conclusions (not facts, of course) which one deduces on the basis of some body characteristics.
    such as shapes of skulls, traits, culture, etc.
    so, to me, looking dwn on people is by far more iniquitous than racism. thnx

  2. Max Shields said on October 16th, 2008 at 10:03am #

    Obama like Lincoln??? Where the hell did that thought fly into your brain? (IMO, it should have stayed there).

  3. Ron Jacobs said on October 16th, 2008 at 10:16am #

    Mr Shileds…
    Let’s re-read the paragraph…
    Despite the servitude to this system built on the sweat and blood of African slaves, immigrant and native workingmen and women, and the blood of too many young men and women in uniform, Barack Obama’s run for president has become a historically important event. If he makes it to the White House, his presence there has the potential to become an event on par with the presidency of Abraham Lincoln during a bitter and bloody war that ended slavery in the United States. Like Lincoln, Obama is a servant of the capitalist system. Also like Lincoln, he is no radical, not even in his own party. Yet, like Lincoln, his presence in the White House could very well begin another re-imagination of the never-ending story of race in America.

    NOW, I do equate the role Obama’s election might play in the history of the nation, especially when it comes to the nation’s racial history. I also comapre the two men’s roles in terms of their servitude to the capitalist system and the fact that neither man is a radical, but that’s where I end my comparison.
    If you know history, you will find my portrayal of Lincon in this way to be a relatively common view. If you pay attentio to what Obama says, you will know that my characterization of his political views and belief in capitalism to be accurate.

  4. Brian Koontz said on October 16th, 2008 at 12:21pm #

    A vote for Barack Obama is a vote against humanity and the world, since he will exterminate millions of people, hundreds of thousands by means of the military and millions more through economic policy, as well as provide perhaps the finishing touches on the annihilation of the world. That McCain is even more destructive is no reason to vote for a lesser mass murderer.

    Do you go to a polling station to vote for whether William Gacy or Jeffrey Dahmer should be given control of an army? Should we analyze their respective positions, to determine which of them would kill less?

    Racial history? Are you joking? Do you really think the corpses of Afghani children give a fuck? Why is the vanity of American blacks more important than the lives of the world’s poor?

  5. ron said on October 16th, 2008 at 12:48pm #

    Sadly, it doesn’t matter whether or not the Afghani children give a fuck (as you so eloquently put it). They are not voting. YOuare correct, but you are missing the point of the piece–imagw and reality/symbolims and concrete fact. but then again, floks who don’t understand nuance don’t see it either.

  6. Max Shields said on October 16th, 2008 at 2:35pm #

    Ron Jacobs
    I did read the entire paragraph, and just now, again. My point is reinforced.

    Why not just say McCain is an anti-trust Teddy Roosevelt?

    Lincoln/Capitalism? What planet did this emerge from Ron. Nietzche used to say those who see such likenesses suffer from myopia and cannot discern the critical differences.

    My point though is not that Lincoln was a great President. If the story is told without the context of elementary school readers, it’s plain that Lincoln was only special to the extent that he became president at all.

    But again, that is really beside the point. The round hole/square peg just doesn’t work here Ron J., trust me.

    Obama is as Brian says a dangerous shill for the ever more powerful corporate powers; as is McCain. But McCain is so beaten that kicking that dog seems almost cruel (I can’t believe I wrote that).

    No, it is Obama which must face fascism head on. This is not about the Civil War or the Great Depression. In some ways those were easy times. We’re facing total collapse. During the 19th century life was pretty tough; and it wasn’t exactly easy going for many during the early 20th century. But NOW!! We can’t breath or eat without our oil.

    Try this sometime. If you have a car, make sure it’s empty of gasoline. Put a gallon in. Drive until it stops dead. Then, get out and push it all the way back to where you started. That will give you a sense of what we’re talking about here.

    Obama still thinks we can go after Bin Laden and there’s an endless war on terror out there – HE’S IN FOR ONE HELL OF SURPRISE.

    Lincoln my ass.

  7. ron said on October 16th, 2008 at 3:10pm #

    I’m not disagreeing with Brian’s appraisal of Obama. I’m disagreeing with your “understanding” of my piece. But, obviously you can’t tell the difference, so I’ll just sign off. How does it feel to be so certain about the future? You almost sound like an endtimer.

  8. DanE said on October 16th, 2008 at 3:34pm #

    Run Tom Run:)

  9. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 16th, 2008 at 4:56pm #

    let me get into the fray, please.
    and let us also pay much less attention to what mccain, or obama (or any prez) knows, thinks, wants, hopes for and scrutinize what the real planners hope for, know, think, etcetc.
    i am starting my analyses from my conclusion or guess (or it may be factual) that planners of US warfare r cia, other agencies, pentagon, media, advisers, et al.
    instead of this analyses, i cld have posited the question, who and how many people plan a war?
    any war, including one in afgh’n?
    r we not assuming, that US invaded iraq and afgh’n, to win and beat the terrorists?
    a better assumption wld be that bush and planners invaded the two lands in question not to win anything nor to crush terrorism but solely to obtain a foothold in these lands.
    it takes only a perfunctory look to espy that u don’t hunt/catch terrorists w. tanks, artillery, planes.
    terrorists don’t need mountains, mines, tunnels, villages, or even a given country.
    any city wld do. and in any city, just 1, 2, or 3 plotters w. good education and memory. remember timothy mcveigh?
    if planners didn’t know this, then thousands upon thousands of well educated people must have been unknowlegeable ab. both iraq and afgh’n and even history; such as the fact that no occupied peoples gladhand invasions/occupations and in overwhelming number of such cases there is armed resistance.
    in fact, i know only of one people who did not resist their occupation; that was czechs.
    and only because they realized, any rebellion wld have been crushed.
    obama and mccain talk tough and oft silly; precisely, because they may know, they realy don’t manage such huge events all by selves if at all.
    no, i can’t accept that uncle sam is raising idiots to plan wars.
    chomsky relates folllowing; in relation to missiles in turkey, kennedy said, if we had missiles pointing at russia that wld be like russia pointing their missiles at us from cuba (or such a place). his adviser replied, But Mr. President, we have missiles in turkey! thnx.

  10. Max Shields said on October 17th, 2008 at 6:33am #

    Ron, I don’t disagree with your entire post, just where IMO you seem to run off the tracks with the Lincoln analogy. Every POTUS has preserved the system. They ARE the system. So, I just think it’s a stretch to single out Lincoln.

  11. Doug said on October 17th, 2008 at 1:48pm #

    Although it seems all politicians participate in a game that is basically not a win-win scenario, and a very serious, fatality potent game, what is more scary to me that our presidents or current candidates, is the idea if some of the people blogging here ever became even a mayor, nevertheless president. Their emotional and thinking patterns are so predictably, and apparently totally, controlled by propaganda…like cheap expendable pawns that aren’t even on the playing board. They are given the gift of “freedom of speech” but who truly have nothing of their own to say. Beyond all politics, their own heart and mind is still waiting to be discovered by them…but alas, they’re too busy taking sides and blasting people they do not even know.

    Characterizing people by such terms as terrorist, murderer, antichrist, and so on, it nothing more than the millennia old, often religious-based practice of demonizing someone or some group, in order to manipulate others to move in another direction. If people who do this are so savvy in understanding of people, politics and what is needed, why aren’t they on the ballot?

    What any politician will really do, as opposed to what they promise to do, is pretty much anybody’s guess. But to the extent that their promises, explanation of the issues and proposed solutions are or may be worth listening to, then the same energy used to blast them with meaningless drivel could be used to listen to them and respond to their rhetoric, and make as good an educated, informed decision as they can. So, there is their record, the multi-faceted interpretations of their record (spin), their rhetoric and whatever substance and potentially viable applicability it may have, and (whether fortunately or unfortunately) how well they present on television and in debates.

    If a blogger knows their own heart and mind, they will also know what is truly right, and what to do. “That” is their responsibility much more than babbling about who “others” should vote for. Do “your own” homework, share it without undue bias, and make “your own” decision. That actually works.

  12. George Thompson said on October 17th, 2008 at 1:59pm #

    The concept of race was invented by white men and used to divide poor whites and poor blacks so that rich whites could maintain power at everyone else’s expense. That paradigm has not changed. In fact it has led us literally to one “pair of dimes”. The question is not whether or not people want change. The question is what type of change do people want. Obama is a change in skin color only. He still represents corporations and the elite and no one wanting real change could or should vote for such a man, regardless of race.

    Obviously Americans are not the brightest bulbs or we would understand from history exactly what is taking place in America. The Democrats had to put a black man forth or they risked losing the black vote. Black people will always vote for black candidates because it is revenge for ongoing and historical racism in our minds. Of course this tit for tat solves nothing and is completely hypocritical of us to do so since that is the very thing that we complain about when a black man loses to a white candidate like the Harvey Gantt / Jesse Helms battle in North Carolina for the senatorial seat in 1996.

    Americans are a visceral bunch of opinionated people. We hear very little outside of the mainstream media. We are a brainwashed and coddled bunch who do not deserve out relative position in the world. Perhaps that is why we are losing it to China and India. We are fat, lazy, overeating, overconsuming, insecure, race-baiting haters of every other country on the planet who may at some time in the future or in the present present a challenge, real or imagined, to our hegemony. Our time has come and gone. The white elite tricked poor and middle class whites and now we are all going to pay the price for their myopia and blind racial loyalty.

  13. Max Shields said on October 17th, 2008 at 4:23pm #

    It does seem that Americans are not the “brightest bulbs”. During our 4 hundred year history what kinds of changes happened in Europe? How do these compare to the US trajectory?

    It does seem that the sheer mass and the way in which our political system has managed to stay in place unchallenged (at least no serious challenge) makes for a finely honed system which has been able to weather dissidents through a simple divide and rule, a falsified history that is planted early in life, and the complete alignment of all of the external powers within this nation-state to draw lines and limit dialog and hence thought.

    It’s not that we don’t get ideas, it’s just that they come too late in the process. That combined with centuries of quasi isolation and voila, you have a nearly illiterate, non-critical thinking electorate.

  14. Deadbeat said on October 17th, 2008 at 6:27pm #

    Brian Koontz writes
    Why is the vanity of American blacks more important than the lives of the world’s poor?

    Wow! Describing the struggles against racism (aka. white supremacy) in the U.S. by African Americans as “vanity” demonstrates sheer callousness and ignorance unfortunately held by some white males supposedly representing the “Left”. It is extremely ironic that some of these same “Leftists” engages in a certain “vanity” when the topic shifts to Zionism and its influential grip upon U.S. foreign policy.

    The war on Afghanistan and the whole notion of the “War on Terrorism” relates to the desire of Zionists in the U.S. to apply this racist label upon ALL Moslem and Arabs. Bin Laden himself directly ties 9-11 to the racist polices of the U.S. in the Middle East.

    Yet it is sheer irony that when Zionism is brought up in this context you get “Chomskyite” Leftists expending an inordinate amount of energy camouflaging and obscuring the disproportionate influence that Zionism has upon the U.S. political economy.

    Ron’s keen article takes the time to place the Obama campaign within the historical context of the struggle against racism in the United States. However what is extremely revealing from Mr. Koontz’s dismissive remark is either that ignorance is alive and well on the “Left” or that racism on the Left is very real as shown by a recent article from the New Left Review. It seems that such sentiments reveals an inability to provide the kind of analysis needed to build the solidarity with people of color that well be needed to challenge U.S. capitalism and militarism. People of color will outright reject such retrograde sentiments because such demonstrable hypocrisy not only reveals a lack of understanding but the possibility of betrayal.

    Ron Jacobs insightful piece captures the nuances of the Obama campaign and what it means to the masses of African Americans. Ron correctly examines its meaning, its historical context, and its place in the struggles against white supremacy. Ron added to the narrative and most importantly – analysis by articulating much of what is missing from Glen Ford’s rants. Unfortunately Ford’s rants and sentiments are now being used as a cover by folks like Mr. Koontz and other unfortunately white “leftists” to misplace their attacks on Obama.

    Ford’s primary critique and fear about Obama is that he will weaken African American’s moral authority on issues of justice. I disagree. As Ron aptly points out race and gender holds no bearing upon ones disposition. Therefore the changes brought about by the Obama campaign may indicate the possibility and opportunity for African Americans to expand alliances and form new alignments especially with other oppressed groups throughout the U.S. and around the world.

    While Mr. Koontz rails against the “vanity of American blacks”, he fails to examine the Left’s role in creating the void that Obama filled this election cycle and the “Left’s” total lack of organizational and grassroots alternatives.

    Unfortunately Mr. Koontz’s remarks reflects the kind of sectarian voices on the “Left” that effectively retard solidarity through their obvious hypocrisy. If Mr. Koontz and for that matter Mr. Shields truly care about doing something for the people of the world the best place for them to start is by challenging Zionism that is present throughout the U.S. political economy and that has captured the American Jewish community.

  15. Brian Koontz said on October 18th, 2008 at 6:19am #

    You continue to speak nonsense, Deadbeat.

    #1 – You have yet to show any support for your assertion that Zionism controls US foreign policy, yet you continue to make that assertion. You seem to be more of a politician than a scholar or intellectual.

    Obama is a white man in a black man’s body. A couple black national politicians are Cynthia McKinney (reasonably black) and Ralph Nader (somewhat black). When one of THEM gets elected we will have broken the “color barrier” in the United States, not before.

    It shouldn’t matter to the populace whether a politician exists in a black, white, or otherwise body. What matters to black people is what *effect* the politician has on *them*.

    Especially given the history of American blacks, they should and usually do have compassion and care for Afghani children, as well as all others in the world who are targeted by the American elite, since they were and are targets as well. Any American black who gazes only at himself, and pretends that by electing Obama they are serving themselves, is vain, misguided, and tragically incorrect.

    Racists pretend that Obama is black, so as to give the *illusion* of the end of racism in the US, an illusion that serves the ruling class all too well.

    Obama’s blackness is only skin deep.

    You’ll continue to spout nonsense about me and about truth itself unless you stop and try to understand some of these issues.

    I have no problem with (and actually kind of enjoy) criticizing Chomsky whenever I disagree with him, and have done so a few times on this site. I find no flaw with Chomsky’s position that the US is using Israel as a strategic tool to further *it’s own* global empire – it’s a commonly used tactic to find a “friend in the region”, like Colombia is in South America. Israel is a “special friend” due to the Middle East being a “special region” (read, having vast oil). I don’t believe this because Chomsky said so – I believe it because as far I can tell it’s the truth.

  16. Doug said on October 18th, 2008 at 12:53pm #

    I’m afraid I don’t have the scholarly aspect to toss around and suggest that my education and therefore educated analysis makes my comments somehow more valid. But some things are much like their cover, despite the cliche. When the US supported and helped establish Israel, an act which was specifically against the Palestinians, and when they support people like Sharon, pretty much regardless of what they do…call it Zionist influence or anything you like…but you can’t make it humane and caring on an equality of justice and freedom basis. I shouldn’t think one would need to present a long stream of evidence that faux apple pie with a crust obviously on top, is not true apple pie, and does have crust on top.

    Personally, I hope Obama wins this thing. But to suggest that “Obama’s blackness is only skin deep” and then suggest that someone else doesn’t have a grasp, is ludicrous. There are PLENTY of blacks in the US who will vote for Obama just because he is black, and would do so if he were verified to be the devil himself (which seems totally out of character for the man). On the other hand, there are even more who will vote for McCain just because he isn’t black…and that’s a very cold ignorance-based fact. Visceral was a good word…fits an awful lot of US citizens, in this and many other areas. Watch the news, listen to the pundits, believe the part of the spin that suits their preexisting (often religion-guided) bias, their own sexual preference, and vote…and if voting doesn’t get what they want, perhaps they will also join or reactivate status in KKK or in other “less than 100% legal” areas to attain their goals.

    However, having said that, it is also true that there are plenty of blacks, many of them educated in both white and black history versions (as well as Native American and other), who despite being admittedly influenced by Obama’s skin color, also weigh every word he speaks, weigh his record, analyze the propaganda spin…for both Obama and McCain (and the rest)…and are determined to make the best decision for their country and all people that they can. I’m as white as the ace of spades, and just spent the evening last night in the company of several such people, who are activists against the “black condition” (in prisons and elsewhere) and who are vehemently voiciferous in many areas, and yet who truly care about the outcome for everyone on the ace and the rest of the deck, not just selected color areas on the ace.

    Get clear Brian…Obama “IS” black, and it does make a difference. So what? To pretend this is not so is just as ignorant as to suggest it is the only thing or that it is always the primary thing. How about just a “refreshing and different” thing (and one capable of expounding on issues in ways McCain cannot, despite his “Obama is ignorant and inexperienced” rhetoric)? I never really paid much attention to either of these men (although McCain was certainly more well known) until the campaign brought them to a point of opening their mouths in new ways. McCain might lose the election just on this alone…which makes me kinda chuckle.

    By the way, it has not been scholars and intellectuals who have helped the world to understand humanity, but people of heart and willingness to utilize commonly available inner wisdom (whether the person was an intellectual or not). Far too many scholars bias themselves by their reading of the works of others, and tout their so-called intellectual nature based on their analysis which is supported by this previous author/intellectual or that one. Similarly, people who spend years studying the works of philosophers, becoming conversant in deep thinking patterns, thereafter believe themselves to be philsophers and intellectuals. Some of them are pretty sharp…granted. But an awful lot of them are little more than educated parrots…(decided to delete the rest of that comment). Take economists for instance…who bark like they understand why the economy is reheated toast, and who prescribe so-called solutions…but always within the framework and context of the burnt toast. It’s like they miss the point, are ignorant of the cash cow mentality, and really believe in interest rates and so on as controlling economy. They talk about how the cost of medical treatment went up…what a joke. It doesn’t cost a bit more today than it did 50 years ago (for those procedures available then); it is simply being charged as though it were costing more, using dollars which have been artificially inflated to keep the “American Dream” seeking mentality focused on the “higher income in the future” carrot.

    In that regard, there is definitely some truth in the idea that Obama is still going to play the corporate game. But is someone suggesting that there is a path to and in the presidency which does not or will not play that game (and survive assassination attempts)? The cliche goes “money talks and xxxx walks”…but when push comes to shove, it is more like “money talks and sometimes others are never heard from again.” If a new Jesus were to run and get elected, so very many would follow him like puppies, but as soon as he stepped too far out of the “give us the money” cash cow owners’ mentality, he too would find himself hanging on wood (or more likely molded plastic), and many of his followers saying “I never knew the man!” That brings us square on to the visceral level so many US citizens operate on in critical moments. Ah well, time for this shallow-minded non-intellectual to stop rambling.

    If you want to find a “friend in” Colombia, you need to BE a “friend” wherever you are, and share that in Colombia. It is not so much a matter of political savvy (although that can be used for and against), but a matter of heart and understanding. If YOU personally would like to work in Colombia (or many places in the world), and be able to absolutely KNOW you are making a positive influence and impact, that is available to you, right now, today. Or if that isn’t feasible, if you would like to support such work in Colombia, that is also available. Similarly, this is available in West Bank, Iraq and many other places (with training, commitment and necessary training). Yes, Israel is a special friend, and I wish it was only about oil.

  17. Max Shields said on October 18th, 2008 at 2:41pm #

    Doug,

    what position on major issues has Obama taken that is decisively different than his opponent? (Two operative words – MAJOR and DECISIVELY.)

  18. bozhidar bob balkas said on October 18th, 2008 at 4:07pm #

    more ab the word “control” as in “zionists control or control disproportionately US foreign policy”.
    it’s best to ask, to what degree zionists control (on a scale 1-100)US foreign policy?
    from this question, other questions arise. does the zionist lobby control to some degrees kosovo policy?
    as far as i know, israel opposes kosovo independence. so we cld conclude that zionists have zero influence on what US does in kosovo.
    the same seems to be true ab US policy towards egypt, emirates, jordan, et al.
    actually zionists dislike US arming saudis.
    how ab israel? well, the policy of US towards pals is virtually the same as the zionist policy.
    in add’n, neither US nor Israel have declared israels borders nor revealed what the final sol’n is.
    zionists appear influential or even control 100 degrees US doings in expalestine.
    but because US can’t be bothered with running that mess?
    well, we don’t know what is going on.
    my conclusion is that US is in control; 100% control, because all these zionists r amers as well. thnx

  19. Doug said on October 18th, 2008 at 4:12pm #

    Hi Max…

    what position on major issues has McCain taken that is decisively different than his opponent? (Two operative words – MAJOR and DECISIVELY.)

  20. Max Shields said on October 18th, 2008 at 4:55pm #

    Doug,

    Thank you. You’ve proven my point. There is No difference.

    Progressives, anti-imperialist leftists have no major party candidate.

  21. Doug said on October 18th, 2008 at 4:57pm #

    Oh I guess that response would be taken as unduly evasive. Um uh…gee…gosh…I dunno? Do you. I mean you got me against the ropes here. So, what major and decisive policies have been different between actually elected presidents of recent times? Why, we can undoubtedly consume a lot of blog space answering that question. So, let’s move on to another one. How is it that the last several presidents, which gets to include both Republican and Democrat presidents, all in their own way and time, supported the initiating of NAFTA and other similar, overlapping, multilateral trade agreements? Why, gee Doug…that’s a no-brainer…to establish free and better trade and relations between nations, and to improve the quality of life in third world countries. Anybody can see that? Oh I see, then the state of California being sued for nearly a billion dollars over a properly voted and passed environmentally sound law (about use of a gas additive in Lake Tahoe), causing California to back up a step, repeal the law, and issue a letter of apology (after which the use continued, and thousands of private wells and a huge percentage of Lake Tahoe’s municipal water supply had to be shut down)…is a good example of such betterment from free trade?

    Why mention this now? What does it have to do with Obama/McCain debates and “major issues” being “decisively different” from one candidate to another? Different party, different candidate, different president, different front story issues…but same cash cow mentality, corporate mechanism plundering, and same political backing of global impact buy-in promotion to laws which effectively remove sovereignty…and visa vis…the so-called power behind the vote of the people. If the people vote, and their popular vote is set aside by very strange political maneuvering to manipulate a smaller set of controls (electorate, and which votes shall we count), and if their expresssed collective will is set aside by a greedy law suit (one example)…then what does it really really really matter about pre-election positions on (front story) issues? Yeah, it matters…but how much? The so-called vote and will of the people were allegedly expressed by putting GW in office, and setting aside the many arguments about GW and his policies on a point by point basis…is the US today better than it was in 2000? I submit that “NO” is the appropriate answer to that question.

    Then why consider a discussion about Obama at all??? People put their trust in people, but in the end, they get what they get…and frankly, they aren’t all that surprised when presidents (and other elected officials) either cannot or will not perform as promised. Well, there is an answer to THAT question…and a preliminary suggestion.

    Answer: I talk about Obama very little, but the little I do is because I think Obama’s got heart…and I’m not picking that up from McCain. He can talk all he wants about his lifelong service to the country, and of course, so can the Bush family and many others. The question is not did these people serve, but what value was their service?

    Suggestion: Create an entirely new governance, test it, and once it is viable as a drastic improvement over what is currently in place, the dismantle and scrap the lame excuse for governance that we currently have and brag so much about around the world…calling it democracy, but applying it like a nuclear-threat based religion.

    When you ask: “what position on major issues has Obama taken that is decisively different than his opponent? (Two operative words – MAJOR and DECISIVELY.)”…it sounds logical to have asked it. I suggest that it might be the wrong question. I hope Obama wins because I think the guy’s got some genuine heart…that is not simply waving a red-white-and-blue banner in front of a bull-like public, and suggesting that alignment with the symbolic nature of that banner is reason enough to be elected. But snide comments and innuendos aside, let’s just say that the election is over…and somebody won…either candidate. At that point, the real questions begin to be answered, such as “Did the US citizenry win?” and “Were the desires and needs of the US citizenry truly and effectively addressed?” This is much different than “what position on major issues has Obama taken that is decisively different than his opponent? (Two operative words – MAJOR and DECISIVELY.)”…and always has been.

    Post election, if Obama wins…we will all see what he does or doesn’t do. We will discover if he is a terrorist, the antichrist, a murderous war-monger, an inexperienced boob…or…now I know this is way out in left field, especially for someone not directly addressing your question, we might just discover something good or better than before. I’ll tell you up front…I’m not holding my breath, or jumping up and down waving a banner stating HE WILL…HE WILL…do this or that. I wouldn’t do that for any candidate…oh, perhaps except if Stephen Gaskin was on a ticket somewhere, I might.

    Perhaps we need to be “more” visceral, rather than less. But we would need to redefine what viscerality meant in our lives. Are we authentically visceral in our own right? Or are we vicarious reactionaries who adopt a collage of views and response of others, and call our reactions visceral? People used to be more willing to trust their gut…their mind…and their heart…and do so with attention to the record. Not so sure that practice is widely extant in today’s America. Seems there are many more who are propaganda-driven intellectual (and thus somewhat logically predictable and manipulable) tag-alongs.

    We should not even have the governmental system we have. It is not operating for the best interest of its stated people (US citizenry), nor is it operating for the best interest of peoples worldwide, not even it stated allies. There is a dire need for a fresh breeze, but do we hear this being a major campaign issue? No…nothing but a little drizzle about it, clad in cliches, nudging to the surface the idea that things will be different, capitalizing on the known fact that people want and need things to be different. But just how different will they be…with either Obama or McCain at the switch? We’re about to find out.

  22. Doug said on October 18th, 2008 at 5:23pm #

    Oh, and by the way, Max…no one “proved” your point. No one proved anything at all. Just because you pose a question loaded and devised to use to support your view or agenda, does not prove anything, whether it is answered (adequately or inadequately) or not. You’re still looking at right and left wing ideologies as though either of them were real or mattered. 2001 hit the US people, and it wasn’t about which wing was which. It did however, tend to suggest that someone somewhere did not like us. Could it be because of our style of politics in the world in conjunction with other nasty factors? Hawks and doves do fly in the faces of us all, behaving as we might expect them to. Could we put our little pet birds to rest long enough to deal with real human issues, rather than some of the crapola floating around the air waves purporting to be grave important issues? If any of the various camps of intellectuals truly understood humanity, and thus the US citizenry, the truly major issues which face us would be at the fore, and not a bunch of nonsense. I’ll just say this about it (for the moment)…we as a species have but a short time available in which to deal with real issues if indeed we have time to rectify them. If we spend that time doing politics, voting on stupidiy issues without understanding of what underlies them, and quibble about records and racial undertones…we don’t have as much time left to, not merely examine, but handle our real issues. People are worried about whether they’ll be able to keep their SUV, about whether their children will be exposed to variations on sexual preferences, about whether non-Christian influence might become stronger on our soil, and many more meaningless concerns. How about being concerned about whether there will even be a humanity tomorrow, or whether people will understand one another and be able to relate successfully and happily tomorrow, or whether people will be seeing thousands or millions die from starvation, tsunamis, synthetically exacerbated genocide and civil unrest, whether people will be threatened (or worse) by nuclear weapons, whether nuclear plants will still be being built which have almost zero security against a large terrorist attack? Gee, I’m tempted to throw in meteorites and UFOs…but I suppose I should leave some “space” for others. Yes, they both exist, and yes they are both of some sort of concern…what might happen with one, and what might not happen with the other (because we are so utterly stupid in our pursuits and so-called issues).

  23. Beverly said on October 18th, 2008 at 6:37pm #

    What’s with all the lefty hand wringing about race? Obama says there is no black America/white America and let’s all join hands and transcend race, yada, yada. And we know if Obama says it, it must be true.

    Here’s one black person that won’t wring one finger over the possibility of Obama losing because racists don’t vote for him. The guy trips over his wingtips running from so-called black issues such as poverty and jobs when in fact, these are issues that really do transcend race. Mr. Fauxgressive is a master politician, giving just enough lip service to voter concerns while winking at his corporate string pullers to assure them he won’t stop their greed gravy train.

    It’s maddening to watch black, labor, and progressive misleaders demand nothing from Obama when they know full well he’s another DLC puppet who’ll continue rubberstamping all the wrong policies.

    As for those blacks caught up in the “historical moment” of the first black president – get a grip on reality folks. You’ve seen black politicians at the local, state, and national level screw you over just like the white pols. If you don’t demand specific action from Obama on key issues pre-election, don’t expect anything post-election.

    The vicarious thrill of a black president (actually he’s biracial) will wear off damn quickly once black people find troops (half of whom are black) still in Iraq five years from now and also in Afghanistan, Iran, and maybe Pakistan. The thrill will really be gone once black folks wake up and smell the reality of the problems of jobs, housing, foreclosures, healthcare, etc. to be the same after 4 years of Obama.

    As usual, the left wrings hands over every thing but the right thing. Racism (along with crooked voting machines) is the least of the problem. The left’s undeserved loyalty to the Democratic party and unwavering support for whatever corporate puppets party bosses foist upon voters is the real problem.

  24. Brian Koontz said on October 18th, 2008 at 7:10pm #

    In reply to Doug:

    –”I’m afraid I don’t have the scholarly aspect to toss around and suggest that my education and therefore educated analysis makes my comments somehow more valid. But some things are much like their cover, despite the cliche. When the US supported and helped establish Israel, an act which was specifically against the Palestinians, and when they support people like Sharon, pretty much regardless of what they do…call it Zionist influence or anything you like…but you can’t make it humane and caring on an equality of justice and freedom basis. I shouldn’t think one would need to present a long stream of evidence that faux apple pie with a crust obviously on top, is not true apple pie, and does have crust on top.”–

    Virtually the entire American elite is Zionist. But they are not Zionists because they believe in the ideology of Zionism – they are Zionists because of their desire to *use* Israel in their own (non-Zionist) agenda. There is *no* point in them supporting Palestinians and every point in them supporting Zionist Israel, therefore they are Zionists, but without the heart of Zionism that true Zionists possess.

    That is to say, they are fair weather Zionists. If somehow the political balance of power shifts and they are able to have an “in” with the stronger side, they will no longer be Zionists. True Zionists will go down with the ship.

    “Personally, I hope Obama wins this thing. But to suggest that “Obama’s blackness is only skin deep” and then suggest that someone else doesn’t have a grasp, is ludicrous. There are PLENTY of blacks in the US who will vote for Obama just because he is black, and would do so if he were verified to be the devil himself (which seems totally out of character for the man). On the other hand, there are even more who will vote for McCain just because he isn’t black…and that’s a very cold ignorance-based fact. Visceral was a good word…fits an awful lot of US citizens, in this and many other areas. Watch the news, listen to the pundits, believe the part of the spin that suits their preexisting (often religion-guided) bias, their own sexual preference, and vote…and if voting doesn’t get what they want, perhaps they will also join or reactivate status in KKK or in other “less than 100% legal” areas to attain their goals.”

    You misunderstand my position – I’m saying that politically speaking, Obama is not black (and is clearly white). I’m not saying that others view him that way. I agree with you that many voters, black and white, treat Obama’s “blackness” as meaningful. However, the electorate does not set a candidate’s policy agenda, the interests that control him (largely corporate and multinational) do. So with all due respect to Joe Sixpack who thinks his vote and his “preference” means something, it really doesn’t.

    “However, having said that, it is also true that there are plenty of blacks, many of them educated in both white and black history versions (as well as Native American and other), who despite being admittedly influenced by Obama’s skin color, also weigh every word he speaks, weigh his record, analyze the propaganda spin…for both Obama and McCain (and the rest)…and are determined to make the best decision for their country and all people that they can. I’m as white as the ace of spades, and just spent the evening last night in the company of several such people, who are activists against the “black condition” (in prisons and elsewhere) and who are vehemently voiciferous in many areas, and yet who truly care about the outcome for everyone on the ace and the rest of the deck, not just selected color areas on the ace.”

    The only point of activism is to win. I haven’t seen much winning in terms of improving the prison situation. I wouldn’t even call myself an activist until I’ve won something meaningful. Calling oneself an activist because of one’s self-described *attempt* to do something meaningful is silly. This may or may not apply to your company, but often enough applies. But maybe the word itself is the problem – activist comes from “active”, which means “energetic”. So these are people expending energy – that’s actually a really good definition based on the outcomes they produce.

    There are lots of people who consider, and think, and consider, and think, and then they act in pointless ways. And it’s even worse because the whole point of all this thinking is to convince themselves of their self-righteousness, which ends up being the only outcome.

    “Get clear Brian…Obama “IS” black, and it does make a difference. So what? To pretend this is not so is just as ignorant as to suggest it is the only thing or that it is always the primary thing. How about just a “refreshing and different” thing (and one capable of expounding on issues in ways McCain cannot, despite his “Obama is ignorant and inexperienced” rhetoric)? I never really paid much attention to either of these men (although McCain was certainly more well known) until the campaign brought them to a point of opening their mouths in new ways. McCain might lose the election just on this alone…which makes me kinda chuckle.”

    It’s like the Jim Carrey movie “Dumb and Dumber”. Obama and McCain can be called “White and Whiter”. Sure, White can be preferred to Whiter, and maybe one can like Obama’s smooth talk, actual facts (after 8 years of Bush), and well-aligned teeth. But spending countless hours analyzing Gacy and Dahmer, thinking thinking thinking, talking talking talking, arguing arguing arguing, is FUCKING INSANE. Arguably more insane than Gacy, Dahmer, Obama, or McCain themselves.

    “By the way, it has not been scholars and intellectuals who have helped the world to understand humanity, but people of heart and willingness to utilize commonly available inner wisdom (whether the person was an intellectual or not). Far too many scholars bias themselves by their reading of the works of others, and tout their so-called intellectual nature based on their analysis which is supported by this previous author/intellectual or that one. Similarly, people who spend years studying the works of philosophers, becoming conversant in deep thinking patterns, thereafter believe themselves to be philsophers and intellectuals. Some of them are pretty sharp…granted. But an awful lot of them are little more than educated parrots…(decided to delete the rest of that comment). Take economists for instance…who bark like they understand why the economy is reheated toast, and who prescribe so-called solutions…but always within the framework and context of the burnt toast. It’s like they miss the point, are ignorant of the cash cow mentality, and really believe in interest rates and so on as controlling economy. They talk about how the cost of medical treatment went up…what a joke. It doesn’t cost a bit more today than it did 50 years ago (for those procedures available then); it is simply being charged as though it were costing more, using dollars which have been artificially inflated to keep the “American Dream” seeking mentality focused on the “higher income in the future” carrot.”

    It makes a big difference whether one is a serious intellectual or one is not. There are bankers, there are janitors, and there are intellectuals. An intellectual is a specialist in thought, and then further specializes in one or more areas of thought. Joe Sixpack on Monday might think he is a banker, on Tuesday a janitor, and on Wednesday an intellectual, and he is wrong. Part of the anti-intellectualism in America is the false notion that everyone has the same quality of thought. We should trust neither our banking nor our thinking to Joe Sixpack.

    I agree with you about the variability of quality within a given profession. There are crappy economists, crappy janitors (excuse the wordplay), and crappy intellectuals. A high degree of quality is always rare, and the same holds true for intellectuals. Being an intellectual is no proof that what one is saying is true – all it proves is that one’s purpose in working life is to examine reality and to contemplate it.

    There’s also an entirely separate issue – which is that of a person’s role in the elite ruling class structure, and how this corrupts his “profession”. For example an “economist” by one definition is someone who examines and understands the economy, but by another definition is someone who holds a *position* in society that is defined as “he who examines and understands the economy”. The problem in many societies is that the second definition proliferates, and economists can be entirely incompetent but hold their position for any number of reasons, often that they behave in ways favorable to the elite (but which have nothing to do with the “official” purpose of their profession). Therefore Ann Coulter is a “pundit” officially and a liar and provocateur in reality, Wolf Blitzer is a “journalist”, and so on. In deeply corrupt societies like the US it gets to the point where for many people there is seemingly no connection between what one actually does and what one is “supposed to do”.

    “In that regard, there is definitely some truth in the idea that Obama is still going to play the corporate game. But is someone suggesting that there is a path to and in the presidency which does not or will not play that game (and survive assassination attempts)? The cliche goes “money talks and xxxx walks”…but when push comes to shove, it is more like “money talks and sometimes others are never heard from again.” If a new Jesus were to run and get elected, so very many would follow him like puppies, but as soon as he stepped too far out of the “give us the money” cash cow owners’ mentality, he too would find himself hanging on wood (or more likely molded plastic), and many of his followers saying “I never knew the man!” That brings us square on to the visceral level so many US citizens operate on in critical moments. Ah well, time for this shallow-minded non-intellectual to stop rambling.”

    Jesus would never get elected. Neither the Republican nor Democratic party would touch him. The media would disparage him. The media would treat him so badly that his popularity with the American people would severely erode. Then he would find it very difficult to get on the ballet. And then, finally, if worse comes to worse, the Diebold voting machines would magically turn out a “Jesus loses” result.

    But the problem is actually far deeper than that. Jesus cannot exist in modern times. He would be picked up and tortured, probably killed, for “terrorism” or whatever other pretext.

    Hey, one never knows. Maybe the fundies are right. Maybe Jesus did return at the start of the millennium, and died in a CIA black site torture cell in Eastern Europe a few months later. Next time you talk to a fundie have fun with that myth.

    Whatever exists in reality is what is *allowed* to exist in reality by the powers that be. Someone in jail is there because the elite wants it – someone who is not in jail is there because the elite wants it. We are all constrained, we are all restricted, we are all slaves. Until we destroy the elite and free ourselves, THERE IS NO JESUS.

    “If you want to find a “friend in” Colombia, you need to BE a “friend” wherever you are, and share that in Colombia. It is not so much a matter of political savvy (although that can be used for and against), but a matter of heart and understanding. If YOU personally would like to work in Colombia (or many places in the world), and be able to absolutely KNOW you are making a positive influence and impact, that is available to you, right now, today. Or if that isn’t feasible, if you would like to support such work in Colombia, that is also available. Similarly, this is available in West Bank, Iraq and many other places (with training, commitment and necessary training). Yes, Israel is a special friend, and I wish it was only about oil.”

    It’s only about oil (and everything related to it, like military bases to allow wars against countries with oil). The American Elite don’t care about Judaism, they don’t give a shit about Zionism, they don’t believe in God, *all they care about is power and wealth (and allowing the two to be easily exchanged)*.

    Silly optimists always think something different. They think “Oh, if only we get rid of the Zionists who have infiltrated Washington!”

    Zionism became powerful after World War II due to the backlash against Nazism, which at that point of course was beating a dead horse. Jews were seen as the victims of Nazism, and therefore should be the beneficiaries of the corpse of Nazism. The corpse fed the Jews and Israel was born under Zionist ideology.

    America became an official ally of Israel only after 1967, when the Israeli military showed it’s prowess during the Six-day War. That itself proves the lack of true Zionism among the American Elite, but obviously no amount of proof is enough to dispel the notion among people who host it for irrational reasons.

  25. Doug said on October 18th, 2008 at 8:53pm #

    Preface: Mostly I agree with your take (“In reply to Doug”)…

    …they are Zionists because of their desire to *use* Israel in their own (non-Zionist) agenda.

    You’ve sort of outlined the use of religion in general by “the controllers” (i.e.-elitists), and any number of other subject areas where emotion-clad myth is available to cloud the truth…both the religious truth and the political agenda truth.

    That is to say, they are fair weather Zionists. If somehow the political balance of power shifts and they are able to have an “in” with the stronger side, they will no longer be Zionists. True Zionists will go down with the ship.

    I would say that the “balance of power” has more to do with the balance of violent fatal measures capability (or appearance of capability poker style), rather than true power. People are kept dancing to the music so fast that they forget where their actual seat of power lies, both individually and collectively. As long as the waters of personal power are kept murky, distracting people from truth and substituting informational structures to look at in its place, then it is all a (multifaceted) matter of controlling information…whereupon, often largely populations control themselves in the desired pattern.

    You misunderstand my position – I’m saying that politically speaking, Obama is not black (and is clearly white). I’m not saying that others view him that way. I agree with you that many voters, black and white, treat Obama’s “blackness” as meaningful. However, the electorate does not set a candidate’s policy agenda, the interests that control him (largely corporate and multinational) do. So with all due respect to Joe Sixpack who thinks his vote and his “preference” means something, it really doesn’t.

    Acknowledged….then agreed (re Joe). I would add that Obama is just another Joe, and that whether viewed as white or black, and whether operating in the political arena as corporate or non-corporate (which I would not characterize as white/black, even though appearances may support that)…he is still a human…and humans are, despite their diversity, all fundamentally alike…from Hitler to Mother Teresa. I am not speaking of their behavior, by which people judge them, but about their core reality beneath the humanity and any chosen behavior. Rather than us judging and deciding what people are, we would do well to look at their foundation (which is universally the same) and from our own observation and noticing it as it is, assist them and others to view them as they really are…rather than as what they’ve done or might do, where they fit in a hierarchy of assumed, alleged and enforced power that is only symptom rather than real power.

    The only point of activism is to win. I haven’t seen much winning in terms of improving the prison situation.

    Perhaps within the framework where “winning” is what people believe is going on, then activism is about winning. I am not an activist, although I work with activists and support certain things they do. Some would say that makes me an activist at some level. Would I like to see certain outcomes which could be viewed as winning? Yes. Are those outcomes the crux of the issue? No. While the surface behavior (which goes much deeper than simply obvious behavior) appears as extremely volatile, changeable at the slightest whim, the core reality of people is not that volatile ogre it is so oft characterized as being. Their reality is not what elitists allow it to be, and yet, these do effect what distinctly appears as control of others’ behavior…often willingly, as in the case of Joe, who buys into the propaganda and supports an agenda far different than the rationale for it he swallowed. This is a subject which, while tackled regularly by intellectuals, necessarily reaches far beyond what the intellect can tackle because of the nature of intellect, thoughts and thinking itself. (“end of line…”)

    It makes a big difference whether one is a serious intellectual or one is not…Part of the anti-intellectualism in America is the false notion that everyone has the same quality of thought…There are…crappy intellectuals.

    While that is what I was aiming at in my anti-intellectual-sounding comments, there is another area critical to intellectualism. That is the notion that thinking about everything is the path to the ultimate solution re reality. Following that idea, one would come upon “the only point to being an intellectual is to win” (i.e.-whatever solution or believed information structure, as/is right=win). In our usual intellect-oriented views, this is quite logical. But all thinking and logic is rather circular, following cyclic paths, sometimes obviously logical, sometimes not…but all reaching the same dead-end. The dead-end could loosely be defined (for it rather defies full definition by its nature) as “where observation of reality begins in mind, observation of symbols necessarily ends.” That boundary puts thinking in proper perspective, for thoughts of any kind, at any level, including feelings, emotions and experiences as levels of thought (rather than separate things) are structures of symbols…ABOUT…something, and as such, cannot BE the reality of anything. Intellect can contemplate thoughts about reality, but cannot think reality. Reality is not symbols, and thus cannot be represented…but is always expressive of itself only. Noticing that boundary as irrevocably being what it is, puts the intellect and all its family, south of the border so to speak. So there is no correct information “about reality”…for reality is not in the symbols such information is made up of. Elitists do not allow reality, but do inhibit people’s natural tendency to notice it…which is the reason for religion, politics, government (of people who believe they need it rather than knowing their own reality and power), and so on.

    Jesus would never get elected…But the problem is actually far deeper than that. Jesus cannot exist in modern times. He would be picked up and tortured, probably killed, for “terrorism” or whatever other pretext.

    True…but stepping beyond that to a scenario where magically he was already elected.

    Hey, one never knows. Maybe the fundies are right. Maybe Jesus did return at the start of the millennium, and died in a CIA black site torture cell in Eastern Europe a few months later. Next time you talk to a fundie have fun with that myth.

    I was raised by them. Took me awhile to realize I did not need to follow suit…and why it was important to look beyond the blinders. Not their fault, as their blinders were surgically implanted at birth…along with stories about Santa Claus, etc. (which was also a big let-down).

    It’s only about oil…

    In the thinking of elitists, perhaps…assuming they actually think rather than just act instinctually toward what their conditioning tells them is the “correct” direction (another sort of fundamentalism).

    Silly optimists always think something different. They think “Oh, if only we get rid of the Zionists who have infiltrated Washington!”

    Just one area of optimism. There are areas where optimism is justified, despite the fact that elitists stomp on its gonadinal resources at each opportunity. (poorly constructed coinage, but I kind of like the feel of it)

    Zionism became powerful after World War II due to the backlash against Nazism, which at that point of course was beating a dead horse. Jews were seen as the victims of Nazism, and therefore should be the beneficiaries of the corpse of Nazism. The corpse fed the Jews and Israel was born under Zionist ideology.

    America became an official ally of Israel only after 1967, when the Israeli military showed it’s prowess during the Six-day War. That itself proves the lack of true Zionism among the American Elite, but obviously no amount of proof is enough to dispel the notion among people who host it for irrational reasons.

    Yes, but one more example of the “same ol’.” Makes me wonder who the majority of modern Jews prefer to see become president. I suppose it is well known, but not by me. It has rather bothered me over the years, that some of the more jagged edges of Judaism’s self-serving ideology has become foundational to much of the religious undercurrent in the US, as well as our ROE…but then, that’s pretty much the definition of sovereignty, as also the basic tenets of corporate absolution. My primary mind-boggle about it has been how many many times I’ve heard about the horrors of the holocaust…and it truly was horrible, and something no one could ever deserve to endure. But in my own experience, I have not heard the same people making these cries, crying out so loudly about other genocide, or the swath of death allegedly left behind their forebears’ supposedly God-guided carnage millennia ago. Seems a little one-sided to say the least. If indeed, certain people are in need of bringing it up over and over, under the guise of “we’ll never let it happen again…by never letting it be forgotten,” it would seem they would focus on atrocities against all people, and not just replaying graphic videos of the holocaust. Certainly that is not true across the board, but it is definitely a repetitive show on TV. They seem to miss that every time they replay it, they also remind people that many people, not just the Nazis, hated them. So whether any hatred could be said to be justified or not, it was/is still there…so why not delve deeply into that instead, if the purpose and goal is that it never happen again. The exact same thing can be said about the US and hatred toward us here.

  26. Doug said on October 18th, 2008 at 9:13pm #

    RE: I haven’t seen much winning in terms of improving the prison situation.

    There are huge changes afoot regarding the attitude of inmates…but alas, “huge” is not nearly huge enough numbers-wise. This same change has been applied to prison staff, with similar attitudinal improvement. If support is brought to bear to support what really works, rather than trying to assemble a collection of things hoping they will work, then the prison situation will experience a very wide-spread internal change so drastic, it could well outshine stories touted by religions. Of course, that is just one area of the situation. But suffice it here to say that, if this comes about (supporting an already-proven turn-key system “on its own terms”), then there absolutely will be visible, tangible, measurable results in terms of the impact on societies in the “value added” sense. When that is experienced, the tough mainstream who block such overall changes (beyond mouthing them, passing legislation that doesn’t carry much weight, etc.), will find it advantageous to get behind that popular shift in the prison-related status quo.

    The model is successfully tested worldwide with unbelievable but documented results for thousands of people. I agree that this is not “much winning in terms of improving the prison situation” quantitatively; however, it is a substantial precursor sitting in the wings, awaiting the appropriate catalyst. Such a supportive move cannot be taken lightly…as in “any support will do”…for if the support is such that it undermines the premise and foundation of the success thus found (i.e.-what really works), and/or is in favor of attempting to mandate and utilize that success to integrate into an old mold where it doesn’t belong…it could well dissolve under the weight of that inappropriate structure.

    So anyway, don’t throw in the towel just yet. It “is” already happening…but is a slow process (now just over 30 years in the making and testing). Its slowness is partly due to the nature of it, wherein controlling people, coercing people, and legislatively mandating people’s behavior…is not part of or appropriate to the process. That is a hard sell item, for it goes pretty much directly against the grain of what is being done, even within the context of a rehabilitative model (meaning that too often those administrating what is called rehabilitation do not really have a handle on what it is, or what is needed to effect and maintain it).

  27. Deadbeat said on October 19th, 2008 at 12:05am #

    Beverly makes some pertinent comments albeit mostly cynical and misses the point of Ron’s excellent article which is more about the candidacy rather than the individual. In fact Obama, during his acceptance speech in Denver, in an “in-your-face” moment, tells his critics of their mistake. The Obama candidacy is not a referendum on Obama but a referendum on his supporters. Therefore attacks (really critiques) on Obama have to be placed into a different context. The same old tactics used by the Left and even the Right just won’t work.

    It is also clear that whether or not Obama ran for the Presidency African Americans would still vote for any Democratic candidate regardless of race or gender. And the Left would still be futilely complaining about how citizens are wasting their votes on the Democrats despite the fact that the Left still does not offer any viable alternatives.

    The Obama candidacy fills the void that the Left helped to construct. Obama being black offers yet an important aspect to how Americans (whites) respond to it. It was clear from the onset that African Americans did not fully embrace the Obama candidacy until after Iowa when whites were willing to vote for him. The Clinton campaign using out-and-out racism is what galvanized African Americans behind Obama. The McCain and especially the Palin rallies and their racist overtures well also increase the number of African Americans showing up on Election Day.

    It must be mindnumbing to the Left as they examine Obama’s support as lacking any real “substance”. However that is a perspective that diminishes the struggles against white supremacy. Beverly as a well as Glen Ford as African Americans believe that their “blackness” provides them with a unique ability to critique Obama. Unfortunately Beverly and Ford’s view is not the majority view of African Americans. This is NOT to say that their perspectives are wrong but the problem is the elimination of nuance in their analysis.

    For example, in 2004 Glen Ford threw his support for Howard Dean and why did he do that? Ford supported Dean because he gave a speech on race. However when you compare policy issues Obama is clearly more progressive than Dean. So why doesn’t Ford support Obama? It is because Ford wants blacks to maintain a “moral authority” on issue of injustice knowing full well that as President that Obama as a black man will commit injustices. IMO that is juvenile because race or gender should not be the determining factor on where anyone stands on issue of justice and injustice. Essentially Ford is playing a “race” card that locks blacks into a category.

    Likewise Beverly points out the following…
    It’s maddening to watch black, labor, and progressive misleaders demand nothing from Obama when they know full well he’s another DLC puppet who’ll continue rubberstamping all the wrong policies.

    But these same “misleaders” demanded far less from John Kerry in 2004 yet African Americans, labor and progressives overwhelmingly voted for him. Recall that “progressives” quashed the anti-war movement four years ago in order to support Kerry (Anybody but Bush) rather than build a real progressive alternative. After the 2004 elections with all that momentum lost the anti-war movement hasn’t recovered thus creating the void that the Obama candidacy filled. What was and is still maddening is that the Left still refuses to examine the role it played in creating this opportunity for Obama

    Therefore the problem IMO is NOT Barack Obama. Just like Rev. Wright says he is doing what politicians do. The problem is that if the Left REALLY wants to challenge and confront the Democrats they must build a VIABLE alternative that can attract the Democratic Party’s most loyal constituency – African Americans. The “vanity” sentiment that I critiqued and the “blame the voter” rants of Glen Ford only alienate the very constituency that the Left must attract in order to weaken the Democrats.

  28. Brian Koontz said on October 19th, 2008 at 6:27pm #

    In reply to Doug:

    This:

    “Perhaps within the framework where “winning” is what people believe is going on, then activism is about winning. I am not an activist, although I work with activists and support certain things they do. Some would say that makes me an activist at some level. Would I like to see certain outcomes which could be viewed as winning? Yes. Are those outcomes the crux of the issue? No. While the surface behavior (which goes much deeper than simply obvious behavior) appears as extremely volatile, changeable at the slightest whim, the core reality of people is not that volatile ogre it is so oft characterized as being. Their reality is not what elitists allow it to be, and yet, these do effect what distinctly appears as control of others’ behavior…often willingly, as in the case of Joe, who buys into the propaganda and supports an agenda far different than the rationale for it he swallowed. This is a subject which, while tackled regularly by intellectuals, necessarily reaches far beyond what the intellect can tackle because of the nature of intellect, thoughts and thinking itself. (”end of line…”)”

    This:

    “So anyway, don’t throw in the towel just yet. It “is” already happening…but is a slow process (now just over 30 years in the making and testing). Its slowness is partly due to the nature of it, wherein controlling people, coercing people, and legislatively mandating people’s behavior…is not part of or appropriate to the process. That is a hard sell item, for it goes pretty much directly against the grain of what is being done, even within the context of a rehabilitative model (meaning that too often those administrating what is called rehabilitation do not really have a handle on what it is, or what is needed to effect and maintain it).”

    And in particular this:

    “Acknowledged….then agreed (re Joe). I would add that Obama is just another Joe, and that whether viewed as white or black, and whether operating in the political arena as corporate or non-corporate (which I would not characterize as white/black, even though appearances may support that)…he is still a human…and humans are, despite their diversity, all fundamentally alike…from Hitler to Mother Teresa. I am not speaking of their behavior, by which people judge them, but about their core reality beneath the humanity and any chosen behavior. Rather than us judging and deciding what people are, we would do well to look at their foundation (which is universally the same) and from our own observation and noticing it as it is, assist them and others to view them as they really are…rather than as what they’ve done or might do, where they fit in a hierarchy of assumed, alleged and enforced power that is only symptom rather than real power.”

    Lead me to say:

    This is war we are engaged in with the elite, not a therapy session. Those people who don’t understand this (or not willing to understand it) are jeopardizing the prospect of any of us surviving.

  29. Max Shields said on October 20th, 2008 at 6:20am #

    Beverly,
    As usual you are right on point! The “leftists” that you site above are the dullards who think voting for a “black” man makes them “progressive”.

    Your apologies for Obama are misplaced, Deadbeat. Obama has used race to leverage his position with blacks. African Americans have, as a voting block, gone Dem regardless of the candidate. Nothing particularly new there. What is new are the conservative African Americans, the Republican African Americans, the wealthy African Americans who are planning to vote (and give mucho dinero) for Obama.

    There are progressives who will vote for Obama because they sincerely feel that as bad as he is, one of these two establishment candidates isgoing to end up in the White House, so better O than M. They don’t buy the O shit, just aren’t willing to chance another GWB.

    I heard Michael Moore state all the things wrong with O and than say he’ll be on him every day he’s in office after he (Moore) votes for him. He than goes on to say how Canada has 5 parties (only 40 m people) and how that’s what we need. And yet Moore, with his almost legit, somewhat twisted irony, won’t lift a funkin finger to help build a real movement from which can grow a real alternative for millions of Americans who have no representation or voice. Alternatives that will change the dogma of preditory corporate hegemony and imperialism. And deal, as Nader has, directly with the injustice of our justice sysetm, the wretchedness of our growing poor.

    GWB, in hindsight, may begin to look pretty status quo. He’s an extention of the Clinton years; and I really don’t think W had any thoughts about necons or nation building or invading when he was running the first time. I don’t even think he knew what the hell a neocon was.

    Yea, he’s a dry drunk dumb ass and O is not. Viva la difference!!

    What I think Beverly understands is that with Obama what you see is what you get. He’s a corporatist, who’s learned how to play the game and go a long. These’s not “post” election Obama.

  30. Doug said on October 20th, 2008 at 7:46pm #

    RE – Lead me to say:

    This is war we are engaged in with the elite, not a therapy session. Those people who don’t understand this (or not willing to understand it) are jeopardizing the prospect of any of us surviving.

    What I am speaking of is not therapy; however, in some respects it performs the same function better. But beyond the behavioral outcome aspect, there is something that has been trained out of human patterns, which is restored…and as it is, it effects things, part of which leads out of the “no survival” direction. Perhaps it is important to say that survival is a matter of viewpoint, since we could be “surviving” at another level, perhaps in another paradigm.

    History bears out the notion that people must struggle to survive, with superior strategy, and then still might bite the bullet…so I’m not really trying to argue that point. But I will make a comment with regard to how what I’m talking about does fit into the overall process in which abundant evidence is available that the generated/evoked components which become a direction can be impacted, and thereby that direction changed.

    It can be argued that this same history proves mankind is and will always be a manipulative, self-serving, and often violent force in the world, deeply conflictied and often unhappy…or simply dead. However, until mankind wraps their head, feelings and more around that which would dissolve such a view, then that view is apt to continue to be evidenced and considered axiomatic.

    Yes, there is the percentage of people who will not participate in that direction…at least for now. And the percentage who will, are few, and often ineffective, or effective only in temporary measures. Despite the somewhat corny nature of the “100th monkey” research-based story, there is some truth in the idea that key survival- and belonging-oriented shift-triggering ideas can spread quickly. So, the smaller process I am speaking of, which contributes to the direction and success of the larger process, is already extant and already proven to work in all cultures, and in many environments, including radical/fatal-related ones.

    The question naturally arises, “Just what can this small percentage of people do?” Since the answer to that has limitations, and since the preponderance of evidence (quantitatively) suggests failure, many people blow it off, and do not want to waste time with it, favoring spending their time in pursuits believed to have better potential for fruition…especially where survival is concerned.

    When these two ideas or directions are juxtaposed in an “either/or” context, it is pretty much a hands down landslide decision. However, such a context is neither required nor healthy. Much of what mankind is doing is painful at best, continually disenfranchising if not fatal, and widely undesirable…and yet considered to be the unavoidable truth, and the lesser of two evils (along with the proposition that moving in any other direction or way is akin to species or race or national suicide, depending on the scope of the arena described).

    So, I propose taking a modified approach, which does not disregard so-called tried and true, but deemed necessary methodology, and yet which also does not disregard that which can introduce shifts leading to change into the overall larger process in various ways, in small enough chunks to have an impact, but without unduly endangering anything. Sudden radical change can be as disruptive and fatal as continuing on a known-fatal path.

    If those “small chunks” are effective in and of themselves, and therefore have some impact, and then if enough people participate in and employ them, the cumulative impact moves toward the “sum greater than parts” valuation.

    The proof of this can be found through testing the impact and its influence in microcosms within the overall macrocosm, and this has indeed been done over and over.

    In prison settings, this has modified several things: 1)individual inmates’ attitudes and behavior (and granted, these were of those who were willing to participate); 2)changes in inmates’ levels of violence among inmates in general over a given population; 3)changes in inmates’ attitude in terms of cooperativeness and increase in positive action toward internal environmental change; 4)significant changes in released inmates recidivism statistics and in particular in terms of recidivism that leads to re-incarceration (example: from 71% down to 47% with 3-year post-release follow-up); 5)positive impact in the communities from post-release activities of previously incarcerated people, not simply in terms of not reoffending, but also in terms of positively contributing to society, and sometimes in reparative ways; 5)officers (correctional and law enforcement) experiencing a safer facilities-internal environment among inmates and also among officers who also participated, 6)prison executive staff (wardens and others, across multiple prisons and multiple states, and in multiple countries) expressing gratitude regarding significant results which made their facilities to be better places to work, and to be more functional toward providing the stated purpose and service to the communities for which they were designed.

    In the community setting, similar results are found; however, identifying them statistically is often difficult, and often enough the results are not as contrast-dramatic, which is often to be expected. Still, people volunteer to report significant, sometimes huge changes in their own lives over time, as well as seeing the same in others. One area of this community involvement is youth…which leads to preventative measures. For it is much better to have youth with attitudes which do not land them in prison, than to pour billions of dollars and tons of effort into effecting oft-dubious rehabilitative measures.

    So any individual person can integrate things which work to effect a small amount of this impact and influence into society in a number of ways, and in a number of settings…contributing collectively to a larger cumulative impact and influence.

    Since this is already available, it comes down to this: If the small percentage who are basically willing do nothing because they believe there is nothing which will work, then that potential is lost. If that percentage maximizes its potential, then the impact and influence grows at optimal speed. If such maximization is not possible, for a variety of reasons (such as lack of information, lack of evidence available to them personally, lack of financial or other means for any individual to involve themselves, prohibitive environs, etc.), then it is possible to strike a medium ground where maximization looks more like…”Will YOU explore, discover and do this?” And for each one who will, then that cumulative motion is increased, and who knows how many monkeys are already involved? One might posit that we are not monkeys, and I agree…and yet our modus operandi is not all that different in many ways. BUT…we do have the ability, availability of method and process (already proven and awaiting our participation), to shine in ways our hairy cousins cannot.

    I’m not blowing smoke here…this is a right now thing, and very very doable.

  31. Drew said on October 22nd, 2008 at 2:29pm #

    As continental thinker Alain Badiou points out, the obsession with race and humanism in the Left is self-defeating. Humans are a multiplicity. All we can do is assert that differences exist and nothing more. That we give certain priority to supposidely ‘victimized’ minorities is flawed thinking. Internationalism logically transcends considerations of race.

    On the issue of zionists-
    America and Israel are united in a front to preserve a homeland for Jews. This is national self-determination. Some of you translate this as imperialistic war mongering, yet if an Arab country were to do the same it becomes freedom fighting and liberation against the ‘imperialistic war mongering hegemonial racist pig machines’.

    America is 80% white, thus it will look out for white interests. Whats your point? I don’t see anyone attacking Japan for their 99% Japanese race interests.

    I also find the assertion that Obama and McCain want to destroy the entire planet in a holocaust of destruction pretty ridiculous. Have you seriously stopped and considered how over the top those claims sound? Sure, a few invasions here and there, but total planetary destruction in the name of capitalist imperialism?