Obama Is No Country Song

The opinion community has embraced Obama in a brotherly hug, a lover’s arms, a worshipers supplication, an enemy’s arm’s length grip and in a madman’s clutching. The millions of words swirling in a maelstrom, running hot and cold, all true and all false: Obama, champion of the common man. Obama, the elite’s new face. Obama, the hoped for. Obama, the unknown.

He is absolutely the new face of elite power: American power and beyond American power. It could be no other way. No one can get to the medium and upper reaches of global power and not be accepted by and acceptable to the world’s elite. While not monotonal, the elite does tend, like any interest group, to common harmonies.

It is not difficult to know the goals of the world’s most powerful and influential people: they wish to remain powerful and in control of their world (which in this case is The World). What doesn’t help them in these pursuits is either seen as a danger or as of no interest. A major difference between the elite and the rest of humanity is that they are able to actually do what they imagine. Mr. Obama is now a member.

The rest of the world’s people imagine more with hope than with action, hope ranging from studied possibility to desperation (thus, the power of ‘hope’ as a political word). We want to continue the life we have and to have a little more. Obama knows that world well. This is the great appeal of Mr. Obama, a man with the melodies of the multitudes supposedly still in his ear; now one of the leaders with the apparent power to write the music, a ‘stealth’ leader carrying the cacophony of the crowd.

But it is inconceivable that the major planned movements of humanity will not originate in the desires, expectations and adaptations of the elites. If we understand this reality, then we can find some voice even when we have none. If we understand nothing else, we must know that Obama is no longer of the many, but he will remember for a time the power of the many when they act in unison.

Much of the power of the multitude is in the unplanned movements of events and the degree to which the elite require the ordinary folk to support them in uncertainty. It is in this that Obama will, to some extent, have to chose sides: Will he use his depth of understanding to include the voices of the people in the adaptations of the elite or will he use that understanding to defeat those voices? To be a great leader is ultimately not in answering the call of the multitude, but in getting the elite to realize the importance of including some of the needs of the multitude in the elite’s expectations.

If we ask the right questions, we will get the right answers. Not, will Obama be co-opted by power? But, are people commonly co-opted by power? Not, will Obama remember his roots even in the face of great pressure? But, do people generally remember the experiences that form them? Not, will Obama act with disregard for others to support his personal and family self-interest? But…? You get the idea.

I believe that the ball in now in our court. (Please excuse the shift of metaphor; I could have said that we have counted out the ‘rest’ of the last 8 years and we have now been cued to our next part in the score.) When I sort through the answers to the above questions a most likely image forms: A new president with a willingness to listen to well presented argument and responsive to pressure from all sources. The most powerful and forming sources will be from the elites that have vetted him and found him acceptable, but he will not forget that when he was of the multitude he could get things done. The last administration had no such understanding and thus the depth of their failure in all things, except the flagrant and obvious support of the elite; like the obvious and embarrassing sycophancy of a fool.

The multitude never has an agenda and so is easily ignored, and difficult to please. This is the moment when an agenda is desperately needed. The much maligned intellectual community must listen to each other and get serious. We cannot complain that “the administration” doesn’t do the right thing unless, first we, and then, they know what the right thing is. The president and his advisors are not there to do the right thing, but to figure out the details of doing the right thing they are told to do.

As I wrote in a different and more passionate context: “(W)e need the counselors of caution to be resurgent by a force of will, driven from a desire to survive, driven to rise up from the backwaters, from the insane asylums, from the dusty library stacks and in an increasingly harmonious voice singing out, ‘enough is enough’ — the classic tautology of unacceptable surplus — singing out with the narcotic voice of the Sirens, ‘we are changing ourselves to death; we are growing the world to death; we cannot kill off the world and remain ourselves.'”

I think that there is some reasonable chance that an Obama administration will listen to the multitude for a time, even as it does the bidding of the elite. Simple randomness would suggest that every now and again someone will come to power who can realize, if only momentarily, the greater press of global biophysical reality. If enough of us are loud enough, are consistent enough and in tune enough, then there is a chance that this new administration will respond…for a time.

I heard a ‘screaming lobster’ metaphor the other day, but by then it is too late.

James Keye is the nom de plume of a retired academic and small businessman living with an Ecological Footprint of 1.6 earths. He can be reached at jkeye1632@gmail.com. Read other articles by James, or visit James's website.

55 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Don Hawkins said on November 10th, 2008 at 9:14am #

    James I sent this e-mail to one of the financial channels this morning. One person on the show said they were talking off camera with the smart minds they had on the show. I still have hope Obama will go for it but like you said the ball is in our court and time is short. If this new administration doesn’t do want is needed how many will know that? I am sure a few million in front of the capital is coming but will it be to late the time is now I don’t think we get a second chance.The question is what is needed and that is total focus and very hard choices. It can be done and in so many way’s could change the way we all think a kind of new way of thinking. Anybody out there know how to organize the largest get together in this country’s history because without that we can measure history in decades but again how many people know this? Here’s the e-mail.

    Ok smart minds try this one out. On Squawk Box we always hear big numbers in billions and trillions. Here is a number that we don’t hear almost never and that number is, is everybody siting down and that number is 96 months. Don’t know what that number means well divide 12 into that number and that should give you a hint. Then another 94 months after that is where the travel light move fast part starts to come in. Still time and the first 6 months after Obama takes office should tell us that story as we don’t have 96 months to start for real. It’s that real part some seem to have a hard time grasping.

  2. E. R. Bills said on November 10th, 2008 at 9:41am #

    Wise and well-reasoned. Let’s hope we’ll have his ear more rather than less and longer rather than–well, as long as possible. Many folks accuse me of having too high hopes. I just have hope. I just hope. but hope can a be a kind of complacent interia. We need to, as you said, stay in tune and keep Obama mindful of our expectations, not just ahnd him the keys to the kingdom and nod back off to sleep, like conservatives did the last 8 yrs for W.

  3. Don Hawkins said on November 10th, 2008 at 9:47am #

    I don’t care if Al Gore has a big house he is right and the time is now that means today and if you want to read all of what he wrote go to the New York Times. The push is on people make your voice heard.

    By AL GORE
    THE inspiring and transformative choice by the American people to elect Barack Obama as our 44th president lays the foundation for another fateful choice that he — and we — must make this January to begin an emergency rescue of human civilization from the imminent and rapidly growing threat posed by the climate crisis.

    The electrifying redemption of America’s revolutionary declaration that all human beings are born equal sets the stage for the renewal of United States leadership in a world that desperately needs to protect its primary endowment: the integrity and livability of the planet.

    The world authority on the climate crisis, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, after 20 years of detailed study and four unanimous reports, now says that the evidence is “unequivocal.” To those who are still tempted to dismiss the increasingly urgent alarms from scientists around the world, ignore the melting of the north polar ice cap and all of the other apocalyptic warnings from the planet itself, and who roll their eyes at the very mention of this existential threat to the future of the human species, please wake up. Our children and grandchildren need you to hear and recognize the truth of our situation, before it is too late.

    Here is the good news: the bold steps that are needed to solve the climate crisis are exactly the same steps that ought to be taken in order to solve the economic crisis and the energy security crisis.

    Economists across the spectrum — including Martin Feldstein and Lawrence Summers — agree that large and rapid investments in a jobs-intensive infrastructure initiative is the best way to revive our economy in a quick and sustainable way. Many also agree that our economy will fall behind if we continue spending hundreds of billions of dollars on foreign oil every year. Moreover, national security experts in both parties agree that we face a dangerous strategic vulnerability if the world suddenly loses access to Middle Eastern oil.

    As Abraham Lincoln said during America’s darkest hour, “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew.” In our present case, thinking anew requires discarding an outdated and fatally flawed definition of the problem we face.

  4. Don Hawkins said on November 10th, 2008 at 10:09am #

    We are out of time and the time is now. Make your voice heard and we just might get this done. It will take all of us.

    First, the new president and the new Congress should offer large-scale investment in incentives for the construction of concentrated solar thermal plants in the Southwestern deserts, wind farms in the corridor stretching from Texas to the Dakotas and advanced plants in geothermal hot spots that could produce large amounts of electricity.

    Second, we should begin the planning and construction of a unified national smart grid for the transport of renewable electricity from the rural places where it is mostly generated to the cities where it is mostly used. New high-voltage, low-loss underground lines can be designed with “smart” features that provide consumers with sophisticated information and easy-to-use tools for conserving electricity, eliminating inefficiency and reducing their energy bills. The cost of this modern grid — $400 billion over 10 years — pales in comparison with the annual loss to American business of $120 billion due to the cascading failures that are endemic to our current balkanized and antiquated electricity lines.

    Third, we should help America’s automobile industry (not only the Big Three but the innovative new startup companies as well) to convert quickly to plug-in hybrids that can run on the renewable electricity that will be available as the rest of this plan matures. In combination with the unified grid, a nationwide fleet of plug-in hybrids would also help to solve the problem of electricity storage. Think about it: with this sort of grid, cars could be charged during off-peak energy-use hours; during peak hours, when fewer cars are on the road, they could contribute their electricity back into the national grid.

    Fourth, we should embark on a nationwide effort to retrofit buildings with better insulation and energy-efficient windows and lighting. Approximately 40 percent of carbon dioxide emissions in the United States come from buildings — and stopping that pollution saves money for homeowners and businesses. This initiative should be coupled with the proposal in Congress to help Americans who are burdened by mortgages that exceed the value of their homes.

    Fifth, the United States should lead the way by putting a price on carbon here at home, and by leading the world’s efforts to replace the Kyoto treaty next year in Copenhagen with a more effective treaty that caps global carbon dioxide emissions and encourages nations to invest together in efficient ways to reduce global warming pollution quickly, including by sharply reducing deforestation. Al Gore

  5. Max Shields said on November 10th, 2008 at 10:14am #

    James this sounds like a supplecant’s going to the ear of the monarch – let’s say a latter day Emperor Marcus Aurelius rather than the earlier Claudius (Bush). Both had blood on their hands, but one was brutish and insane while the other balanced a “listening to the Roman senate” while still killing and enslaving.

    It is not a complete parallel to be sure, but it contrasts the mind set that says, it’s their country and we just live here: hopeful to get a hearing by the mighty.

    This is not what’s needed. It may be all that can be expected for the centers of power; but that is not a strategy for real fundamental change.

    Change will come with collapse. When that happens, as I’ve said elsewhere, will be fighting over the scrapes and singing the tune of El Ducci? Or will we have transformed our world through grass-root work today.

    The authoritarian personality, and we all crave however slight for someone who knows more or is well connected to help us, can be the biggest challenge we face – what is our mind-set, the frame for solving problems – top down authoritarian (however benevolent that authority may seem or be)? Or are we ready to move beyond the old frame of empire?

  6. James Keye said on November 10th, 2008 at 10:34am #

    Mr. Shields,

    When working with a bulldozer I give directions to the driver; I don’t try to pull the controls from his hands. If we think, I believe correctly, that government is to work for the best (utilitarian best) benefit of the people and that it needs to be told what to do, then we must take that responsibility, if we do not those most closely placed to power will. That is my argument in comprehensible brief.

  7. George Thompson said on November 10th, 2008 at 11:06am #

    I appreciate this argument as a pessimist or positive realist but who is the better man? someone that has killed one person for no good reason or the man who has done it twice? There is no lesser of two evils. Evil is evil. The Democrats are a slower, more cautious evil than the neocons but it is evil to the same destructive end. A slow demise is only more effective at paralyzing the people. In fact Americans mobilized against the Republicans because they were in fact so brutally blatant and blunt in their disregard for all things non-corporate and humanistic.

    It is a practical argument that we should accept something better than something worse but only if that something truly is better and we have not been duped by pomp, circumstance, good looks and lofty speech. There is no question that Obama will listen to corporations and Wall Street more than the people because he owes them for putting him into office. He also owes the people for voting for him but they will not reap nearly the reward of the powers that be. It’s simple math.

    What I’m saying is that we deserve better. We deserve leaders that are good to the core and do what is right for all people at all times and never what is good for bloodthirsty, abusive corporations and the wealthy few. Corporations can be a force for good but not when profit is the only motive in a monetary system such as ours. Greed quickly transforms them into a plague on humanity and the environment. As you said we cannot survive without this planet. It is high time that we had a leader that acted on that reality instead of spewing empty rhetoric of promise. Time may be, and usually is, shorter than we think.

  8. Don Hawkins said on November 10th, 2008 at 11:14am #

    James of course that is true. Max it is too late we must start now with what we have and the knowledge we have. It is too late already for millions and maybe more we are now trying to save what we can of human civilization. The first six months or so of this new administration will tell the story. We are about to see the good the bad and the ugly up close. There could be that illusion of competence or lies but will be very easy to see. It’s going to be anything but boning for the people who have managed to take the red pill and see this for what it is the beginning or the end that simple. Never have human’s had there fate in there hands like right now today.

  9. Max Shields said on November 10th, 2008 at 11:26am #

    What we have Don are choices. Stop taking what they give you/us. There are choices, man!

    If people want to play with the power structure – have at it; but don’t proclaim it a strategy; or discuss it like it’s new…

    The problem is it’s old, and tired and there’s work to be done.

    Create something, then, if you must go to power but first get your own power. Otherwise you’re just a bunch of meaningless noice.

  10. Max Shields said on November 10th, 2008 at 11:39am #

    What makes anyone believe that someone who has given over everything to power to become President will be willing to share that power. Where was the look in the eye of compassion for the nameless and powerless, the millions of poor. I never saw it above the oratory.

    Obama tried to project compassion through himself; as if his existence and very being was the symbol of something more than a man of color. As if he could represent a deep sorrow, a tragic sense that wed him to the masses. That somehow that was what he was offering to the disenfranchised; nothing more. I went through my city today and saw the same people on stoops, same folks wandering aimlessly, homeless. It’s not that Obama is expected to change those conditions (he’s not even in the Oval Office, yet). But it won’t be changed through this system. Top down programs down work.

    The problems are too deep, too ingrained in the system. This is not 1930. The wheels are coming off. I’m not sure that anything less than breaking the country into 8,9 pieces, each with their own regional gov’ts with minimal DC involvement after the break up will be sufficient.

    It is too costly to keep the empire, even the one on the North American continent. The US became one gigantic corporation that needs to massively downsize. And each piece needs to re-organize and downsize further.

    When you whisper in Obama’s ear, tell him it’s time to radically decentralize and dismantle the empire. See what he has to say, before he takes that to the lords and masters.

  11. Don Hawkins said on November 10th, 2008 at 11:48am #

    I have half a tank of gas in my truck. We have a farm and need a truck. I filled my truck up one day after Ike and still have half a tank. I don’t fly or buy anything we don’t need. It is cold and hot in our house. I’ll say it again if you can use my help to organize to get heard I will help if I can as I don’t know how to do that. I know the science and seem to be good at cutting through the noise or maybe it’s I just pay attention. Only a few months away and then it begins and we are all part of this some no most yes.

  12. James Keye said on November 10th, 2008 at 12:43pm #

    It sounds to me, Mr. Shields, that you have surrounded yourself with very good reasons for doing nothing. I have tried to offer even the nihilist an optional way to understand the present moment in a way that offers a potential for positive action. I think a reasonable reading of my essay would demonstrate a strong skepticism, but not a Manichaean rejection of what is certainly the super ordinate role of the elite.

  13. Max Shields said on November 10th, 2008 at 1:25pm #


    Nothing? Not at all, just the opposite. As the now very tired saying goes “doing more of the same and expecting different results is…” doing pretty much nothing. Doing the “same” in this case is presuming the path to our predicament lies within the creation of the predicament; and that a reasonable approach to an unreasonable problem will somehow, with a dose of healthy skepticism for the “rejectionists”, turn things around.

    You must think it will work, James, otherwise why waste time – yours or whoever does the calling.

    Again, the man, Obama, is in the lap of power, surrounded by power, with ideas and thoughts that our little minds can’t begin to fathom and you’re going to bother the big fella with what?

    If that sounds course it’s only because there is hope and then there is false hope. Discerning the difference is what we need to do first.

    The Obama folks are generally believers who forgot what Obama said and seem to latch on to what he “represents”. As we make one excuse for him after another, there is a deep reality which will not go away regardless the sublime talk of children with Obama tee-shirts.

    We’ve lived too long in utter detachment. Our way of life has given us a false sense of the world…we need to learn where food actually comes from, that outside is a place to live and play, that neighbors and communities is where ideas and culture is born. All of that and much more is lost in a world of artifacts made by one time abundance of energy that has magnified our existence.

    We’re children playing with fire…and Obama is not a real person but an extension of this irreality.

  14. Ramsefall said on November 10th, 2008 at 1:45pm #


    while I don’t put much, if any, faith in Obama for being reactionary to the people, we won’t reach an accurate conclusion on that notion unless we try. I do agree with you that the window of opportunity will be brief, which means if his feet are going to put to the fire, it’s time to organize now and be ready for his debut as President. The only way to be effective is if the multitude possesses an agenda, without one…

    As you point out, “A major difference between the elite and the rest of humanity is that they are able to actually do what they imagine. Mr. Obama is now a member.” However, not only is he a member, I have to concur with Max in that even more so, he is an “extension of this irreality.” Holding to that, I’m pretty certain that both he and they will do what they can in order to continue doing what it is that they imagine. I hope I’m wrong in that assessment, but he is just another corporate representative, a true politician, and as such expecting the minimum could be a long shot.

    Thanks for the article and your rationale.

    Best to you.

  15. Brian Koontz said on November 10th, 2008 at 1:55pm #

    As long as there is such a thing as the elite, the world is doomed. As George Thompson said, the Democrats just make for a slower death. The only value in having a Democrat in office is to give us more time to destroy the elite.

    It’s a common fantasy that the elite can be controlled. Much is written by Western intellectuals about how wonderful the New Deal was in America, and how it showed that the regular joes of the 1930s could pressure the elite into benevolence. There are any number of ridiculous aspects of this argument. One is the the New Deal was not about benevolence, it was about maintaining the power of the elite in the face of a threat – it was a *compromise*. Leftist western intellectuals, serving the elite while claiming not to, say that this compromise was in fact a victory for the poor. I’m not sure what aspect of increased imperialism (ongoing throughout the period) and the advent of nuclear weapons (early 1940s) serves *the poor*.

    This is the best that James Keye can offer us in this piece – the *best* result of his thinking is another compromise. A “victory” will result in compromise and a delay of the inevitable death of the world while a defeat will result in quick catastrophe.

    Defining the delaying of the world’s death as a “positive action” is accurate but needs to be seen as a very short-term position. Fine, an Obama presidency delays the world’s death (to a small extent) versus what a McCain presidency would have done. And fine, some degree of populist pressure on Obama delays the world’s death versus no degree of populist pressure.

    The elite will fall – the only question is what will be left of the world when they do. Our job is to ensure the best possible world. The best way to ensure that world is to destroy the elite quickly.

    If we controlled the elite we would be the rulers and they would be the slaves. The elite, by definition, CANNOT be controlled. They can only be destroyed. This is not nihilism – it’s objective reality.

  16. Jonathan said on November 10th, 2008 at 2:04pm #

    Once again Max, fantastic comments. However, I would like to ask you more specifically what you propose doing? Wait for the inevitable breakup (in a sense also a semi-delusional false hope)? Refrain from any belief in the system as it is and work towards creating functional micro autonomies? Or to loosely paraphrase Rove? continue to analyze and describe reality as it is enacted by history’s ‘real actors’ (mention this in response to your last line – Obama does not belong to the ‘reality based community’)?
    Thanks and all the best

  17. Suthiano said on November 10th, 2008 at 2:20pm #

    I am sure Hitler too inspired some with hope. That is to say I agree with Max Shields. What happens when the excuses run out and hope fades? How damaging is the resulting cynicism? In the 1790s Robert Southey, the English Romantic poet and friend of Coleridge and Wordsworth, was filled with hope by the French Revolution. In 1796 he wrote the anti-war poem “After Blenheim” (sometimes called The Battle of Blenheim). By 1800 he was anti-Gallic and then supported the war against Napoleon a few years later. By 1813 he was Poet Laureate; a mouthpiece for the conservative English establishment.

    When I see this in Al Gore’s letter: “Economists across the spectrum — including Martin Feldstein and Lawrence Summers — agree…” It tells me he lacks the vision or will to make the changes that are necessary to do what he claims to want.

    “I’m not sure that anything less than breaking the country into 8,9 pieces, each with their own regional gov’ts with minimal DC involvement after the break up will be sufficient.”

    I agree with this entirely. It will be creative, new ideas from outside the traditional (existing) power structure that will bring about meaningful change. Wherever we find a firmly held assumption, we should be thinking, is that true? Does that NEED to be that way?

    We can’t really imagine how we will be after a metamorphosis, but to think that we will be us, as we are now, perhaps with slight adjustments, would be to deny the need for change… would be to place a limit on human creativity, ability and spirit… would be to sentence us to death.

  18. Brian Koontz said on November 10th, 2008 at 3:11pm #

    About Rove’s comment:

    The elite are destroyers of the world. That is their role with respect to reality. They create nothing.

    The vast majority of humans have little conscious connection to the elite. Their connection is with their family, friends, and co-workers and with the natural world. That’s where *creation* occurs, that’s where reality occurs, and real history occurs.

    Instead of detailing THAT history, real history, most intellectuals detail the history of the elite, which is the history of the corruption of and destruction of real history.

    The elite imagine themselves to be the real actors of the world and the intellectuals support this notion through either positive or constructive treatment of them, and no treatment at all of the non-elite.

    James Keye says that the elite are the only ones who “do what they imagine”. This is the complete opposite of the truth – the elite are the only ones who *don’t* do what they imagine. No human being wants to destroy the world – only human beings who have divorced themselves from benevolence “want” to destroy the world.

    Being a member of the elite is similar to being insane – noone really *wants* to be insane – it’s just that circumstances sometimes lead to such a thing, and make people think they desire it. The elite and the insane lead wonderful lives according to them and perverse lives according to those who experience them.

    Take a look at common people (I don’t mean Americans, the rulers of the world) – they are very happy with their lives, remarkably happy given the travesties committed on them by the elite. Other than elite monstrosities, these people are getting exactly what they want.

    It’s only the elite who are never happy, never satisfied – everyone else is often happy and often satisfied. It’s obvious who is doing what they want and who keeps doing things they hate, and then tries to perpetually correct their past actions.

    It’s *only* the elite who are miserable. Even a starving young mother has a smile on her face as she looks at her child.

    The elite bury their misery in power, wealth, and domination. With every destructive act they commit it rears it’s ugly head.

    Real history is unexamined by the intellectuals who refuse to cover it, who believe that the Karl Roves of the world are more important than the starving mothers, or the bloated corpses, or the common people with their everyday lives.

    Intellectuals constantly look for the unique, the “special”, the never-before-said, the vanguard, the original, the revolutionary, the “true”.

    And in smiles, in conversation, in changing relationships, in embraces, in disagreement, in shared silence, nothing need be said, nothing can be said, according to the intellectuals, who scoff at such things and look to the Karl Roves of the world for something worthy of their critique.

    In ignoring true reality intellectuals have helped built a propaganda system in conjunction with the elite whose purpose is to control reality.

    Everyone smiles at their child. The intellectuals, regardless of their “political position” smile at Karl Rove. What a naughty boy he is. Now this naughty boy writes for a mainstream magazine. How dare they employ him! Don’t they know better? Don’t you see how we are trying to help you out by telling you this?

    Smiles speak volumes. Volumes that cannot be written by the intellectuals, cannot be controlled by the intellectuals, and thus must be destroyed by the intellectuals.

    To intellectuals, reality itself is a foreign language. Those intellectuals are xenophobic.

    James Keye makes a fundamental error common to intellectual supporters of the elite – he believes that humans *want* to be members of the elite. The elite are few in number not because they are the cream of the crop of humans but because few humans want to descend to their level. Few humans want to destroy the world, but a few are willing to do so for personal profit. And unfortunately, at least with respect to the past several thousand years, that’s all it has taken.

    Obama has achieved something for blacks in the same sense as a human achieves something when he becomes a devil.

    According to intellectuals, Obama is a “success story”. That speaks volumes about Western intellectual leftism.

    Those are more volumes that Western intellectuals have no interest in. Down the memory hole with it!

    Obama will lead American blacks to imperial power and domination! Go Obama, Go Obama!

    Most people achieve what they want. The history of the elite is the tragic history of the world. A history ONLY told by intellectuals.

    Haven’t we had enough tragedy, or will only the death of the world by an end to it?

  19. DavidG. said on November 10th, 2008 at 3:21pm #

    We don’t need to destroy the elite. We need to change human nature! We humans are the problem with our world.

    We, mindless, violent, primitive creatures that we are, can talk until the end of time but we will suffer the same problems over and over until we destroy ourselves.

    We have three options:

    1. Hope for a mutation to take place, one that brings about a new species, a neo-human that does not carry a genetic predisposition for greed and violence.

    2. To allow genetic engineering to eradicate our inherited genetic problems.

    3. To give everyone a Prozac-type pill to curb the evil forces within us (which are driving us towards extinction) so that we can sit down and try to figure out how to change the nurture side of our learning so we become better able to deal with the dark forces within.

    Talk is cheap. Urgent action is required!


  20. Deadbeat said on November 10th, 2008 at 4:12pm #

    Once again the focus is on Obama rather than on a comprehensive alternative. Unless done with empathy and nuance you will not reach the Obama supporters. Suthiano’s “Hilter” hyperbole will not win converts and in fact will only marginalize the Left when the inevitable disappointment occurs. We already saw that with Nader’s “Uncle Tom” remark and the backlash from a prominent member of the Hip Hop community.

    What happened this year is that the Left LOST. And it is up to the Left to recognize THAT it LOST and HOW IT LOST and how to renew itself.
    If the Left chooses to use enmity and disdain toward Obama and especially Obama supporters then when Obama disappoints (or as Suthiano says “when the excuses run out and hope fades”) the very people who the Left hoped to attract will diffuse (just like the anti-war movement. Anyone see a pattern?).

    In that event any hope and opportunity to strengthen the left will be wasted (just like 2003. Anyone see a pattern?).

    Thus participation will recede (Anyone see a pattern?) and the right-wing neocons will have their chance once again to recapture power.

    This situation call for a change in tactics. Nader complained during his CounterPunch interview with Alexander Cockburn that he won’t be constrained in his criticism of Obama as if anyone is stopping Ralph. I found that to be a joke. The Left certainly can and should criticize Obama. The tactic is to do it in a way that won’t be alienating. Like Obama himself says — “disagree without being disagreeable.”

    Smearing Obama as “Hitler” is not the smartest way to critique Obama if the goal is to truly expand the Left.

  21. Don Hawkins said on November 10th, 2008 at 4:26pm #

    The elite are few in number not because they are the cream of the crop of humans but because few humans want to descend to their level. Few humans want to destroy the world, but a few are willing to do so for personal profit. And unfortunately, at least with respect to the past several thousand years, that’s all it has taken.

    Brian that was well done something I have thought about for years.

  22. Max Shields said on November 10th, 2008 at 5:17pm #


    Your question about what I propose to do is a fair one. I’ve addressed it here and there on DV (and probably should find it and link to it for future reference).

    I am not shying away from the need for a constuctive direction. My main point is identifying what is rather than assuming we must play with the existing paradigm as given to us (to do so is a losing hand). The history of what is has a long arch and has withstood numerous attacks and has succeed in coming out the winner. We need to understand that before we can address real solutions, real alternatives.

    I have suggested a form of localism using as its premise the Global Charter, but the local project must not simply fall in line with a template, rather see it as a well conceived reference for building solidarity as we go forward.

    Such a movement realizes the pain of imperial empire and it also realizes that such an entity does not negotiate on terms other than power. Even when the centers of power “give” a bit, as they did immediately after WWII, the power was never really conceded and so, today, we have a full throttle corporate empire – this form of empire began in the 15th century and the seeds of free market and corporate globalization began during that time as well.

    This narrative has been with us for centuries. Empires collapse when they cannot be sustained. The life of human civilization is net-positive energy (when it takes little energy to make energy). Our civilization rests on the abundance of cheap oil (cheap in terms of net energy). Our market economics ignores this by treating energy as a commodity.

    But to the point: what to do? In my humble opinion: Take your personal energies and keep them far away from partisan politics – particularly the larger empire scale where your head will be chopped off. Build your movement through local economics – understand what a “real” economy is. It has nothing to do with global free markets. The engine of all classical economics is trade; and a balance of trade. Keep it local, build it around food, a local food system that produces local jobs, develop enterprise incubators, introduce workers’ cooperatives and community businesses that are owned BY the community and cannot leave for cheap labor.

    Create a local infrastructure that replaces imports with local production. Create trading partners in your region; eventually, with town, cities and village throughout the world – but these MUST be fair trade agreements – equal playing field.

    Influence, nudge your local government to make it responsive. Cities and towns are the best way to get some action – if you’re organized. Always have local support, always engage power from the strength of people. Keep it human scale.

    These are not new thoughts as much as the antithesis of the American Dream gone wacky. The Corporate elite would be threatened by this, but in the early stages they will try to coopt it (green-washing as WalMart and others try to do or you food chain with their “local produce). Don’t be fooled keep it local, make local the mantra.

    As far as breaking up the nation-state (a relic from the emergence of the latter day empires) that will happen in due course. The net-energy problem is only getting worse and will as it always does undermine the power elite. But it’s a waste of time to go groveling to power – remember only talk to power when you are strongest. Don’t expect compassion (as a rule) from the power elite and their proxies (POTUS).

    All for now.

  23. Max Shields said on November 10th, 2008 at 5:35pm #

    Correction not global charter but Earth Charter.

    mea culpa

  24. James Keye said on November 10th, 2008 at 7:32pm #

    I, in many cases, disagree on matters of substance with Mr. Shields, Mr. Koontz and others, but that is to be expected and a careful reading of this essay or others should be sufficient to sort out the differences. What I do take exception to is the intellectually dishonest defining of my views so that an argument can be made to support a comment writer’s biases.

    In no place either in this essay or any others do I state a belief that humans (in general) want to be members of the elite, or does this or any piece argue in support of the elite. But neither do I deny that the power structure of the world includes interconnected and powerful people, or that these elites have a hugely disproportionate influence on events of general importance.

    The issues around Madness and modernity are very complex and deeply connected with our human biology manifesting in environments incompatible with its fullest expression. Not just the elite are Mad. Madness is the failure to function in reality. We have thoroughly compromised the very notion of reality and would hardly notice it if it melted the ice on our very shores or entered our lungs as lead dust, etc.

    As to imagining – again complex – the powerful do what they imagine; I implied nothing about them imagining well or even sanely. The multitude, in general, cannot accomplish their imaginings with the same ease. Of course, there are those who do imagine with sanity and biological accomplishment; they are of another “elite” all together.

    Lastly, the idea of changing human nature is and has been one of our greatest sources of trouble through out the ages. If only wolves did not bite they would make great pets and useful too, and so we have the neotenic family canine, a pale but relatively safe reflection of that magnificent animal. If that is your goal for people – large safe numbers of biologically drugged half humans – I violently disagree.

  25. Max Shields said on November 10th, 2008 at 7:42pm #

    James, I don’t mind that you disagree with me, but what you just wrote is completely beside any points I’ve made here (at least consciously).

  26. DavidG. said on November 10th, 2008 at 7:58pm #

    James Keye, the fact that you ‘violently’ disagree proves my point completely. Thanks.

  27. E. Bills said on November 10th, 2008 at 9:47pm #


    Your efforts to reason with the acerbic doubt-mongers who people the fringes of the progressive movement are valiant, but wasted. They criticize and condemn the movement’s newfound possibilities very effectively, but they have no realistic, viable strategies of their own.

    If Obama actually does accomplish some good (even if it’s incremental), it won’t be enough for them and they’ll surely dismiss it. If it’s not a perfect, pure accomplishment, they’ll just allege it wasn’t worthy of the effort to begin with. theirs is not ours and maybe that’s a good thing.

  28. Brian Koontz said on November 10th, 2008 at 11:12pm #

    In reply to James Keye:

    “As to imagining – again complex – the powerful do what they imagine; I implied nothing about them imagining well or even sanely. The multitude, in general, cannot accomplish their imaginings with the same ease. Of course, there are those who do imagine with sanity and biological accomplishment; they are of another “elite” all together.”

    The powerful never do what they imagine. The powerful never imagined a world one push of a button away from nuclear annihilation, they never imagined a world nearing global ecological collapse, the Neoconservative subset of the powerful never imagined such resistance in Iraq.

    If the elite proceed they will destroy the world, and themselves along with it. Even now, when that fact is totally obvious, they *still* don’t imagine it. They share with an insane a lack of priority given to the effects of their own actions with respect to reality, since their first priority is to achieve their dream.

    Many people suppose the elite want power, imagine themselves with power, and therefore achieve their imaginings by attaining power. I wish that were true. The elite don’t want power, they want *more* power. Elite psychology is not only found in the elite themselves, but in all humans whose primary objective in life is increasing their own power. This desire for *more* power than however much they currently have is limitless. They *never* attain their imaginings since their imaginings, fully articulated, is to attain ultimate power – power without the possibility of threat, without the possibility of decay. A Fountain of Youth combined with an Impenetrable Fortress combined with Unlimited Slaves.

    Just like the insane, the elite aren’t living in reality – they are living in their dreamworld. While the insane’s dreamworld might consist of condemnation of society, or living out an idea (rather than living by human convention), the elite’s dreamworld consists of working toward ultimate power. For them, the only purpose of everything in the world is to serve that goal. Once they attain that goal, their real life will begin. The elite are those people who are trying to give birth to themselves. They are afraid of fear, of showing fear, of injury, of receiving resistance, of anything that reminds them of their human limitations. They cannot live until they remove all of their human limitations. This is what makes them so determined and so effective – the rest of us know we are alive and enjoy life – the elite know they are dead and desperately try to create their own life. This life can only occur once a womb is found, and that womb requires total security, total protection, total control.

    Hence the elite *must* have control. Their life is meaningless without it. This is why so many Romans committed suicide after losing power.

    It’s a fantasy to suppose the elite have control because they are effective. They have control precisely because they are NOT effective, because they don’t appreciate what it means to be alive. Control is their hope, their security blanket, their connection to their dreams, and their dreams are all that matter to them.

    The elite are a subset of the insane whose control over reality prevents them from being treated as insane. Most cultures do not have an elite just as most cultures do not have insane people.

    We should end the insanity and emulate human cultures which do not include an elite.

  29. Suthiano said on November 10th, 2008 at 11:27pm #

    It’s evident why the left fails in North America: those who profess to be progressives would see themselves living the exact same lives, but in a changed world…

    The so-called-left defines itself with statements like: Your efforts to reason with the acerbic doubt-mongers who people the fringes of the progressive movement are valiant, but wasted”. So our “allies” on the “left” resort to ad hominem fallacies to get their “points” across.

    Albert walked through the outer circle… the fringes as it were. The land was peopled with acerbic doubt-mongers…. they burned effigies as a challenge to reason.

    None of these fallacious reasoners have explained how they will be able to judge whether “Obama actually does accomplish some good”. Perhaps they will be able to declare it. Perhaps it is linked to the knowledge that Obama is the lessor of two evils, which is known a priori. Blasphemous are those who doubt this reality. Mongers of doubt, no doubt.

    “What happened this year is that the Left LOST. And it is up to the Left to recognize THAT it LOST and HOW IT LOST and how to renew itself.”

    The “progressives” who frequent this site need to take a deep breath. Instead of pretending like I’ve been saying anything other than that “the left has lost” perhaps you should read what I write. The left is fragmented by reactionary clowns who refuse to doubt their own elitist tendencies. While deadbeat chooses to use the first sentence of my post as a red herring to distract from the general sentiment of what I said, it cannot be ignored that while deadbeat asserts that I relied on “Hitler hyperbole” to promote the “traditional left” and to deny that we “LOST”, that the core of my post was contrary to such claims:

    “I agree with this entirely. It will be creative, new ideas from outside the traditional (existing) power structure that will bring about meaningful change. Wherever we find a firmly held assumption, we should be thinking, is that true? Does that NEED to be that way?

    We can’t really imagine how we will be after a metamorphosis, but to think that we will be us, as we are now, perhaps with slight adjustments, would be to deny the need for change… would be to place a limit on human creativity, ability and spirit… would be to sentence us to death.”

    Perhaps deadbeat thinks he saw me with Joe Biden at one of the old leftist rallies, promoting the same old rhetoric. For the sake of my own ego, I hope he heard that speech when I said: “I believe in change. A hope for the United States of America. I want to thank my opponent John McCain for his valiant service for us in Vietnam. If he didn’t drop those bombs from 10,000 feet I don’t know who would’ve done it! Let’s also thank George W. for helping with the “transition of power”, and for supporting the “bailout”, which we so desperately needed”.

    Whereas I promote discussion around new strategies and ideas, you make erroneous assessments of my positions, which are based on an inadequate understanding of history. You do so with anger in your voice. Am I to be blamed for pointing out that “hope” is not an argument? And certainly not the basis for a “new left”? History has been made up of “great men” who are divine “legislators”, the chosen ones with a vision that should not be questioned by “acerbic doubt-mongers”.

    If you’re going to dedicate a post to attacking me, at least address my argument, rather than creating hyperbole around a fragment out of context.

  30. Deadbeat said on November 10th, 2008 at 11:55pm #

    What Suthiano doesn’t seem to understand is that the Left is not only fragmented which is correct. What he ignores is that the Left is TINY. When there has been a real mass movement on the Left, it has been extremely successful in diffusing that mass energy rather than devise a strategy to ENGAGE that energy.

    I am sure Hitler too inspired some with hope.

    Apparently Suthiano is upset that I focused on his Hitler remark and it is clear that Suthiano doesn’t get it. He clearly doesn’t understand how Obama and his campaign alters the rhetoric that the Left has to use in order to win converts. Associating “Hitler” with Obama regardless of how you may fell about Obama will only alienate you from the MASSES who will be needed in order to really alter the course of this nation.

    Obama whether you like it or not represents the struggle of African American against racism and discrimination in the United States. Pissing on Obama by associating his rhetoric with Hilter will not bring these folks in your direction.

    I’ll state it again so that it can sink into Suthiano rhetoric. There are MANY ways to legitimately criticize Obama and using empathy and nuance is one such strategy.

    But go ahead and compare Obama to Hitler and when Obama fails to keep his promises you’ll notice that his massive support base especially African Americans won’t be heading in your direction.

  31. kalidas said on November 11th, 2008 at 12:04am #

    One thing for sure, just like Cicero, etal, someRahm will be whispering in Obama’s ear and filming him with his Chertoff.

  32. James Keye said on November 11th, 2008 at 6:22am #

    Koontz, 1) You confuse the imagining with the consequences. 2) Attributing motivations is tricky and then arguing from the attributions is not intellectually honest. 3) The consideration of the nuance of sanity — quite good. But, again to conclude from your own reasoning alone is not honest to the process — a little insane!

  33. Don Hawkins said on November 11th, 2008 at 6:28am #

    It is clear, then, that wisdom is knowledge having to do with certain principles and causes. But now, since it is this knowledge that we are seeking, we must consider the following point: of what kind of principles and of what kind of causes is wisdom the knowledge?
    The life of theoretical philosophy is the best and happiest a man can lead. Few men are capable of it (and then only intermittently). For the rest there is a second-best way of life, that of moral virtue and practical wisdom. (Aristotle, Metaphysics, 340BC)

  34. Don Hawkins said on November 11th, 2008 at 7:22am #

    ‘If we all blame each other, we’re gonna fry the planet’ Hell I’ll do my part and I guess I am Joe public so how about you so called elites are you going to help? Think of this as kind of a war. Dreamland knowledge and then we must consider the following point of what kind of principles and of what kind of causes is wisdom the knowledge. We are a corporation and your friend. We live in harmony with all living creatures the birds the deer and most of all human’s yes the human element. Oh and by the way do you own stock in our company? Yes what kind of principles and of what kind of causes is wisdom the knowledge? The push is on dreamland people and those of us who know may not win but the fight is on.

  35. Max Shields said on November 11th, 2008 at 9:12am #

    As is too typically the case, attempts of cogency are mired with conflation of one poster with another.

    Obama is a member of the ruling elite. We know what the man said to get elected – how much of that he “needed” to say will forever be a mystery, since the economy trumped all other topics and his offering was just “not McCain/Bush” and nothing more.

    But after spending some time and providing an answer to Jonathan’s request, posters like Bills want to simplify it all into an Obama context.

    My arguments are not about Obama per se it is about the delusion that the empire will un-empire itself regardless the party/personality. To become a president you can not be a threat to the system; to the contrary you must embolden it. You must govern as if the world is hostile to American interest and so threatening. It’s that simple.

    When cheap fossil energy was plentiful, and consumption relatively low (FDR) the empire had wiggle room; that’s not the case today. FDR sat at the pinnicle of American acent. Obama is catching in the downward trajectory – a wounded but still powerful imperial empire.

    As far as Obama’s intentions, we can gauge them by his actions. And only his appointment picks will provide a window into that. What that will all add up to we’ll see. But if this, as I and others suspect, a great unraveling, I’m not sure what the POTUS can and will do. Will he retain Bush/Cheney unitary POTUS to control or “push down and out” power?

  36. James Keye said on November 11th, 2008 at 10:05am #

    Mr. Shields,

    You are conflating one idea with another: that one has to be accepted by a system to become its leader is generally true, but that the rest of your assertions naturally follow is not clear at all. You are obviously among the educated and literate 25% of the adults of this nation — probably even among the thoughtfully
    literate 10% — it is frightening when some many of such clear talent have allowed themselves to think so sloppily. It is a luxury, like so many others, that we can no longer afford.

  37. Max Shields said on November 11th, 2008 at 10:29am #

    “…allowed themselves to think so sloppily. It is a luxury, like so many others, that we can no longer afford.”

    Is this, as I suspect, easier said than explained? If you can provide clarity would be much appreciated.

  38. James Keye said on November 11th, 2008 at 11:21am #

    On the contrary, Max (I love that: ‘on the contrary’), I think it can be explained without undue difficulty. Thinking without study and care, especially in support of long held and comfortable beliefs, is a luxury of times and circumstances with less drastic consequences than we face at present. There are times when “correct” action in Reality is the only option left available that can have a positive outcome. The greatest knowledge, the most efficient and rigorous logic, the most insightful intuition and the most general wisdom all need to be combined into the actions that we take as nations and as a species. I don’t think that it will happen, but it is the only sport around worth playing.

  39. Max Shields said on November 11th, 2008 at 11:51am #

    Well, James, since you think efficient rigor and local are missing, along with action, I think I know better from where I come than you do.

    My thinking did not spring forth untutored or without rigor and certainly not without substantial action.

    When I spoke of localism, I was not speaking from a text book or a theory. I take quite serious the consequence of actions and words. I also know that our human capacity and energies are not endless and they must focus on a clear understanding of the underlying issues, the most basic principles before embarking on wild notions of converting the system of elite power through the auspicous of a new President.

    You may see what I’ve posted as simple idle play. I may see the same in what you’ve posted. I don’t think either of us believe we are being playful here. But I do see flaws with your thinking (and apparently you do with mine, though you haven’t been clear on exactly what that is.)

    Ah well, James, wish you the best. I thought you had more of an interest in the biological underpinning of our dilemma given your background. Organized complexity may be a place we can find common ground and move from there…who knows?

  40. Jonathan said on November 11th, 2008 at 12:38pm #

    Thanks Max for the explanation. I had a feeling that you would tend in the direction of localism but I just wanted a confirmation as I think the question of ones own actions are important in how we criticize other’s. I also asked because I have been slowly working towards building such local community based autonomies and have found the greatest obstacle in working with people even to actually realize the need for such an approach and that is why it is so heartening to find people with similar views.
    With regards to the believers in Obama and those with a even a little hope in his ability to bring about incremental change I would like to ask them what they are actually hoping for? I feel that many of these hopes that I can ascertain have very little basis in reality – but hey, hope is not a bad thing in any way.
    If the system of Empire is fundamentally flawed, rooted in genocide, principles that promote elitism, abuse, slavery, how can even so called (progressive) benevolent emperors make any significant and beneficial changes other than to dismantle the system (I don’t think the vested interests would let even the saintliest president change anything that would threaten their positions of privilege). That is why I feel it necessary to work outside the paradigm of power.

  41. Suthiano said on November 11th, 2008 at 12:52pm #

    I wasn’t aware that there were so many philosophers amongst us.

    “Obama whether you like it or not represents the struggle of African American against racism and discrimination in the United States. Pissing on Obama by associating his rhetoric with Hilter will not bring these folks in your direction.”

    While I appreciate your attempt to get through to a member of the “lunatic fringe” such as myself, it won’t be accomplished with more declarations like the ones made above. Is Obama a symbol with a static, defined meaning? Like the cross? Did the cross represent the same thing to 12th century Muslims as it did to 12th century Christians? For me, Obama is a symbol of how easy it is to get swept up in “mass movements”, particularly ones that have the full support of most of the mainstream media (a traditional ally of the left?), and in doing so forget the real issues, and the real work, which is the same today as it was on Novemeber 1st, 2nd or 3rd.

    The difference between me (who, will drive away any potential ally, with my nonstop references to Hitler), and you is that I can handle the fact that Obama might represent something different to someone other than me, wheras you can’t. You seek to silence the debate by relegating dissidents to the fringe. The voice of the dissident is thus the voice of the lunatic. Consequently you’ve managed to alienate yourself from someone who is a member of the “tiny” left. You didn’t do so with any Hitler rhetoric, but by being a jackass.

    “But go ahead and compare Obama to Hitler and when Obama fails to keep his promises you’ll notice that his massive support base especially African Americans won’t be heading in your direction.”

    I must be speaking a different dialect of English than deadbeat. Where was this comparison? Is it possible the comparison had something to do with the shortcomings of the “rhetoric of hope”, and very little to do with Obama as being an individual who is similar to Hitler? Did the rest of the paragraph directly following the one sentence in which Hitler is mentioned seek to accomplish this? Was I attacking Obama as a Hitler figure or was I making a nuanced argument against the limits and dangers of “hope”? You could always return to the source and see for yourself. Or, I suppose, I could use your tactics and declare exactly what my words represent, and then there would be no debate.

    What is particularly interesting is that deadbeat claims to be concerned with “converting” souls to the “TINY” left. He provides a few suggestions on how to go about doing so: by using the “altered rhetoric” supplied by the Obama campaign (put together by those strategists of the left), or by using a nuanced and empathetic approach. He provides nothing else. What is this altered rhetoric? Does it have anything to do with hope? Can you please re-read my original post and see if you understand its nuances, ignoring the one time usage of Hitler’s name? Would you show me a little bit of empathy in your responses, rather than seeking to relegate me to a lunatic fringe? Would you mock and degrade existing leftists in your quest not to “alienate the MASSES”?

    Be wary of whom you make bedfellows with. I have no desire to align myself with the elitists on the “left” who would make such ridiculous assertions as: “You are obviously among the educated and literate 25% of the adults of this nation — probably even among the thoughtfully literate 10%”. Where are you getting these figures? What crystal ball do you possess that allows you to so classify people? I suppose you would place yourself in amongst the “thoughtfully literate”?

    “Thinking without study and care, especially in support of long held and comfortable beliefs, is a luxury of times and circumstances with less drastic consequences than we face at present”.

    What is not “long held” about the belief that change comes from elections? This is the most comfortable belief I can think of. It allows us to think that we can go on living our lives the same as before, so long as we make the right decision every four years. What have I been “shouting” from the “fringe” since I entered this debate? Must I be a broken record and repost my comments again, or will those who so adamantly disagree read what I write before responding? Take it in, now think about it with study and care.

    “There are times when “correct” action in Reality is the only option left available that can have a positive outcome. The greatest knowledge, the most efficient and rigorous logic, the most insightful intuition and the most general wisdom all need to be combined into the actions that we take as nations and as a species”.

    James, “Philosophy is a battle against the bewitchment of our intelligence by means of our language” (Wittgenstein, PI, 109).

  42. Max Shields said on November 11th, 2008 at 1:20pm #


    We are on the same “page”.

    Incremental change, itself is flawed. It is a lazy way of saying, not now later, but bit by bit we’ll become…or get…

    That’s just not the way the real world works – certainly not the paradigm which powers the empire. Which half of the baby to we split to make everyone happy?

    There is, in this case, a zero-sum at work. The System is X; not Y. If you want Y, get a new system. There is no inch by inch.

    Take health care. Obama’s “plan” – so we keep a privatized system with its convoluted rules tied to employment and broaden it to make it “affordable” to more through some gov’t subsidies. First, that’s what gave us our pathological monocultural food system that produces non-food for human consumption. Subsidizing megafarms NOT to plant or only plant millions of acres of corn and soy. But in this case, it’s a subsidization of private insurance and pharma!!! Madness.

    It is STILL a profit driven system which is by its very nature a monopoly – Why? Because health care satifies a basic human need. To privatize human needs is to create a monopoly that at very best creates poverty and at its all too frequent worst creates death.

    This is just one example of an Obama incremental approach. Great on paper…doesn’t step on the power elites toes and leaves us without f&ckn health care. What a f&ckn genius this Obama cat is!!

  43. Suthiano said on November 11th, 2008 at 2:35pm #

    Max and Jonathan, how dare you question Obama’s ability to change this nation… one increment at a time!

    Just look at who Obama appointed to his “Transition Economic Advisory Board”, names that mean change:

    “First, there’s former Treasury Secretary Robert Rubin. Not only was he chairman of Citigroup Inc.’s executive committee when the bank pushed bogus analyst research, helped Enron Corp. cook its books, and got caught baking its own. He was a director from 2000 to 2006 at Ford Motor Co., which also committed accounting fouls and now is begging Uncle Sam for Citigroup- style bailout cash.

    Two other Citigroup directors received spots on the Obama board: Xerox Corp. Chief Executive Officer Anne Mulcahy and Time Warner Inc. Chairman Richard Parsons. Xerox and Time Warner got pinched years ago by the Securities and Exchange Commission for accounting frauds that occurred while Mulcahy and Parsons held lesser executive posts at their respective companies.

    Mulcahy and Parsons also once were directors at Fannie Mae when that company was breaking accounting rules. So was another member of Obama’s new economic board, former Commerce Secretary William Daley. He’s now a member of the executive committee at JPMorgan Chase & Co., which, like Citigroup, is among the nine large banks that just got $125 billion of Treasury’s bailout budget.

    Another slot went to former White House economic adviser Laura Tyson. She’s been a director for about a decade at Morgan Stanley, which in 2004 got slapped for accounting violations by the SEC and a month ago got $10 billion from Treasury.

    That’s not all. There’s Penny Pritzker, the Obama campaign’s national finance chairwoman. She was on the board of the holding company for subprime lender Superior Bank FSB. The Chicago-area thrift, in which her family held a 50 percent stake, was seized by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. in 2001. The thrift’s owners agreed to pay the government $460 million over 15 years to help cover the FDIC’s losses.

    Even some of the brighter lights on Obama’s board, like Warren Buffett and former SEC Chairman William Donaldson, come with asterisks. Buffett was on the audit committee of Coca-Cola Co.’s board when the SEC found the soft-drink maker had misled investors about its earnings. Donaldson was on the audit committee from 1998 to 2001 at a provider of free e-mail services called Mail.com Inc. Just before he left the SEC, in 2005, the agency disciplined the company over accounting violations that had occurred on his watch.

    … Donaldson, for one, was chairman when the SEC voted in 2004 to let the big Wall Street banks, including Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. and Bear Stearns Cos., lever up their balance sheets like drunks. Talk about blowing it.

    And whom did Obama tap for White House chief of staff? Rahm Emanuel, the Illinois congressman who was a director at Freddie Mac in 2000 and 2001 while it was committing accounting fraud” (http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=20601039&sid=aNCFKvAMUQ6w&refer=home).

    Even journalists at boomberg.com see through Obama’s rhetoric… it’s a terrible sign when the “intellectuals” on the left cannot.

  44. Shabnam said on November 11th, 2008 at 2:49pm #

    Obama knows that his ACTION is going to bring more deaths , War, terrorism and destruction for communities in the targeted regions such as the Middle East, North Africa and the Central Asia, therefore, people have all the rights to criticize a puppet of Zionist elite and leader of a broken international financial system where Obama has willingly expressed his desire to be the next president to be seated in the white house– black face is more convincing since black represented ‘victimhood’ in the past but not any more- with a shallow slogan such as ‘Yes, we can’ good for the ignorant followers. Majority of American people feel that they are victims of the broken economic system and, therefore, they felt a Black president may have more sympathy towards their misery. This was accompanies with the support of the gatekeepers, like Howard Zinn, recommended Obama for desperate ‘progressive’ fools.

    The writer makes a mistake when writes an opportunist statement:
    ”A major difference between the elite and the rest of humanity is that they are able to actually do what they imagine. Mr. Obama is now a member.”
    If the author describes elite as ‘successful’ in implementing policies design to direct human actions to serve this small community’s interest in preservation of their hegemony over the rest of the population, he may be right. However, the opposition groups and those who are interested in human dignity do not accept this narrow definition. We have many figures around the world who have sacrificed their position as elite to serve the interest of their nation and humanity not their enemies. Mossadegh, prime minster of Iran in 1940s and beginning of 1950s is an example of someone who was toppled, almost killed, tried and exiled to a village in Iran until his death but people still remember him and respect him as an elite and a leader – not only in Iran, the Middle East, the Central Asia and Africa and among older generation in western countries – as symbol of resistance against the British empire and its financial backers but also a good model to follow. Dr. Mossadeq was coming from an aristocrat family who let the Iranian Oil nationalization movement against British empire but his democratic government was toppled by British, backed by Rothschild family, and American administration, the rising power in 1953. Dr. Mossadeq, who had the IMAGINATION to serve his community and humanity, was toppled by those who Obama has given his pledge of allegiance to serve. This means that Obama is going to serve those who are willing to crash democratically elected government if that government does not serve the interest of war criminals. We already have seen Obama’s vicious gesture towards Hamas, democratically elected by Palestinian people because Israel and Zionist lobby wants to ignore. Mossadeq wanted to implement his policy based on his IMAGINATION to serve HUMANITY. Obama’s decision to invite Clinton administration’s staff back into his administration, starting with Rahm Emmanuel, shows us what Obama HAS CHOSEN TO DO. Bill Clinton, the most pro Zionist administration ever, smoothen the path for the invasion of Iraq by the neocon through his policy. The Invasion of Iraq was impossible without Clinton administration’s policy of ‘Dual containment’ designed by Martin Indyke from The Washington Institute for Near East policy, an Israeli think tank and off shoot of AIPAC, where this policy killed more than 650,000 Iraqi people, many children, and ended with soft partition of Iraq, desired by “the Greater Israel” project through NO FLY ZONE.
    This policy let to a weak and fragmented Iraq before the invasion, a policy that is playing again against Iran with full support of Obama who wants to be a puppet of the ruling elite. The worsen Situation of Palestinian through phony ‘peace process’ and building of more settlements and changing the language of occupied land into ‘disputed land’ , all are the result of Clinton administration’s policies led by Dennis Ross. Now, Dennis Ross is Obama’s advisor on Iran who advices him to say lies such as ‘nuclear Iran is unacceptable’ discarding NIE reports where they have announced: “Iran does not have a nuclear weapon program’ to please AIPAC, his backer, while he is ignoring Israel’s illegal nuclear weapon, more than 300 bombs ready to go, shows that Obama is more puppet than a white president because Obama is determined to show his loyalty to white power where regarded blacks as ‘inferior’ so he can be protected and accepted. Thus, Obama felt he had to take more steps to prove his loyalty to serve white power by offering ‘undivided Jerusalem’ as capital of Israel where white faces such as Clinton, Bush and McCain, could afford not to make. Obama as a black candidate was not trusted in the beginning and he felt has to expand his IMAGINATION by offering ‘undivided Jerusalem’ as capital of Israel which IS NOT HIS PROPERTY to give to an apartheid state, Israel, where has stolen Palestinian land against oppressed people of Palestine, with the support of black community who have presented white power as responsible party for their misery in the past but ignoring Obama’s exploitation of Palestinian and other groups in the Middle East and Africa including Sudan to put a black face in the White house.

  45. James Keye said on November 11th, 2008 at 4:14pm #

    I would recommend practicing a reading style that attempts first to discover the meaning(s) intended by the writer (of the words) before looking for any possible interpretations with which to take exception. The discussion, while interesting, no longer has anything to do with what I offered in my essay or comments. However, it is pleasant to see so passionate a discussion on matters that I consider important.

  46. Brian Koontz said on November 11th, 2008 at 4:51pm #

    In reply to Deadbeat:

    “Apparently Suthiano is upset that I focused on his Hitler remark and it is clear that Suthiano doesn’t get it. He clearly doesn’t understand how Obama and his campaign alters the rhetoric that the Left has to use in order to win converts. Associating “Hitler” with Obama regardless of how you may fell about Obama will only alienate you from the MASSES who will be needed in order to really alter the course of this nation.”

    The masses don’t need to join the left – they need to realize their own power. There is no conversion, there’s only organizing and directing populist power.

    The people should not be organized under a leftist banner, they should be organized under *their own* banner.

  47. Max Shields said on November 11th, 2008 at 5:10pm #

    As I noted in a piece by Ron Jacobs, the issue with this election, and it has been well documented beginning in the run by Nixon (Selling of the President), that what we have is an ever increasing (billion dollars) marketing scheme we call an campaign/election.

    The “masses” are use to celebrating celebrities. The marketing machine gave them a celebrity – Obama. He was packaged, learned to play his role, stayed on script and the crowds got ever larger. The young girls cried with tears of pent up adulation – much like a Michael Jackson or Beatles concert of years past.

    Rosemarie stated elsewhere that there is a direct correlation between number of votes a candidate got (including 3rd Party) and the money in their coffers that went out to spend on marketing.

    Enough money will buy you just about anything in the “land of the brave, home of the free”. You can scale it from municipal elections right through to the top tier. Add to that a dose of oratory excellence and a party machine that’s been doing this for 2 centuries – and voila!!

    This is not a beginning point for change. It’s a deadend.

    (James, you are right, this has gone far afield of you post.)

  48. Shabnam said on November 11th, 2008 at 6:37pm #

    “A major difference between the elite and the rest of humanity is that they are able to actually do what they imagine. Mr. Obama is now a member.”
    The writer should develop a habit to read comments more carefully and not be disappointed by those who have shown his misleading optimism to buy time for Obama to strengthen his position against his critics
    The above quote describes the difference between elite who have realized their imagined world by implementing their policy against those with no power who can not put their imagined world into play. The elite can not exercise their power over us if there were not abundance of opportunists who were willing to DO THE RIGHT THINGS including misleading their supporters and community in order to become a MEMBER. Few may think this is part of the human nature. Fortunately not everyone thinks the same. Obama has abandoned his position and have modified his own views on number of occasions including on foreign policy regarding Palestinians and Iraq issue to be accepted as a MEMBER. This kind of service is not representative of ‘leadership’ but opportunism.

  49. James Keye said on November 11th, 2008 at 7:03pm #


    Are you suggesting that the wealthy and traditionally powerful do not have greater ability to manifest their imaginings for action than the multitude? As I pointed out earlier, imaginings and consequences are different things. If you read the essay of which the quote is a part, you would know that I have presented a very mild proposal: There may be a small window of opportunity to influence Obama that should be taken advantage of. If you are saying that an Obama administration may go terribly wrong, then I could not disagree. But your very strange interpretation that my piece is some how driven by aspirations of lackihood is amusing.

  50. Shabnam said on November 11th, 2008 at 10:08pm #

    You write:
    “If we ask the right questions, we will get the right answers.”
    You do not question how the power of elite is formed but you ask: “Are you suggesting that the wealthy and …..[Do] not have greater ability to manifest their imaginings for action than the multitude?”

    Of course they do. Are you willing to do things that a traditionally powerful Bush family has done so you can have greater ability to manifest your imagining for action? I don’t know about you, but I do not want to do the same. This is the difference between conscientious people who are not willing to see the destruction of humanity in order to have that kind of power. The elite has created billions of hungry people with disintegrated societies through manufactured crisis, campaign of disinformation and deception, wars and terrorism in regions abundant with natural resources including Africa and Asia. Obama has given many signals that he is willing to do the same to become a MEMBER of the corrupt elite. His first new conference looked very much like Clinton administration responsible for human tragedy in Afghanistan, Sudan and Iraq, prerequisite for invasion of Iraq by the neocon.
    Your hopefulness is very amusing when you write:
    “When I sort through the answers to the above questions a most likely image forms: A new president with a willingness to listen to well presented argument and responsive to pressure from all sources ….but he will not forget that when he was of the multitude he could get things done.”
    He has shown that he is willing to listen to power but he is not going to be responsive to pressure from all sources since our concern is opposite to elite concern and he can not satisfy both at the same time to remain a MEMBER.
    He needed ears of everyone to present himself as a ‘leader’ who can be trusted. In return, he needed supporters to convince the elite that he can deliver. Obama cleverly has not given his supporters much in terms of explaining his policies regarding number of issues but whatever he has put forward is not attractive. My concern most likely is different from yours. My concern is his foreign policy regarding the Middle East, North Africa and the Central Asia. He has assured elites to expand US hegemony in these regions, using all available options on the table. Thus, he is not going to be that much different from either Bush or Clinton regarding Afghanistan, Sudan, Iraq and other places.
    He has asked the world to accept “American Leadership” where the US has NO CREDIBILITY in the world. How do you want to expand your hegemony with no credibility? The only tool you need is the Weapon of Mass Destruction. Thus, I do not imagine the kind of hope you have imagined from Obama’s administration.

  51. James Keye said on November 12th, 2008 at 5:38am #

    How the elite formed and the roles of wealth and power in designing human economic and social order is not the subject of this essay. It is about what I see as a fleeting opportunity to have a point of pressure on the elite through a man who may still have a clear memory of his history. If you wish to wallow in fantasies of powerlessness, then do so. The elite is not monolithic (or as I suggest above, not monotonal). Their interests can be influenced. If you understand the possibilities will you be influenced? I would think so. But it is a dangerous world.

  52. Shabnam said on November 12th, 2008 at 6:42am #

    Obama has already sent enough signals to convince the majority of people in the targeted regions such as the Middle East, the Central Asia and North Africa that there is no CHANGE in American foreign policy. I am not a fool to ignore the fact that Zionist Clinton administration is coming back headed by a new face. It is a dangerous world not to see the real enemy and believe in their MANUFACTURED enemy and phony ‘war on terror’ in order to expand American hegemony. Obama is going to continue the same based on MANUFACTURED enemy and cooperate with the real one. Those who view CHANGE of color in the white house as real change will ignore all signals Obama has given us so far thus will pay the price at the end.

  53. James Keye said on November 12th, 2008 at 6:58am #

    You have carefully argued yourself into a position from which no action on the essential forces that control the larger world is possible, but it is your argument. If it results in no action, it will be self fulfilling and, in a way that you may never understand, answers your question about the creation of elites in the first place. Good luck to you.

  54. Max Shields said on November 12th, 2008 at 7:32am #

    James Keye since you are keen on some kind of action, who would represent your model for the kind of action you are calling for?

  55. James Keye said on November 12th, 2008 at 7:55am #

    Learn, speak, act. The Berrigans, Nader, MLK, my son who is building an artist’s cooperative (community), my niece who is teaching school in China, Bill Ayers (when necessary), David Iglesias (a bit self-serving, but still). My friend Ron who should be retired but is heading a Charter school for at risk kids. All of those who wrote, emailed, called when the FCC (under little Powell) was going to allow new monopolistic rules. A young farmer who raises only the most carefully crafted foods, a son of San Francisco elite who devoted himself to the creation of quality soil. And….