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

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

— an itinerant Minister 2008


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Con Man’s Self-Opiated Progressive Camp Followers

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

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

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

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

Obama’s Economic Con Game

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

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

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

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

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

The Two Faces of Obama

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

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

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

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

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

Obama, the Militarist, Outdoes His Predecessor

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

20 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Don Hawkins said on December 8th, 2008 at 9:21am #

    Hay what about that sit-in in Chicago. And the new President of the United States is backing them up. They want the $3,000 owed to them so they can have sort of a Xams The name of that company in Chicago is Republic door and window.

    A republic is a state or country that is not led by a hereditary monarch, but in which the people (or at least a part of its people) have impact on its government. The word originates from the Latin term res publica, which literally translates as “public thing” or “public matter”.

    We need to change that at least a part of its people part and of course there will be a few who don’t like this idea well they will just have to get over it or go to Colorado we the people will give them the whole State if they promise to stay there and build there own World that would be very interesting to see just how that played out. Money Island old very old book. I wonder how the domination on money island Colorado would work out for them.

  2. David said on December 8th, 2008 at 10:54am #

    Jeez, Petras.

    You sound really pissed off.

    It saddens me to tell you that the best that humanity, collectively and over the long haul, could have ever hoped for was to avoid global thermonuclear war and/or to not whack the environment. Perhaps one out of two isn’t so bad for a pretension and limited species.

    Get outside and enjoy what’s left while you can.

  3. HR said on December 8th, 2008 at 11:36am #

    The article is an excellent statement of the obvious. Obama successfully peddled his snake oil to the uncritical. Now, all of us are free to wallow in it. I’ll be curious to see just how far he will go in actually backing up the workers in Chicago … talk, as he has demonstrated, is cheap.

  4. bozh said on December 8th, 2008 at 11:46am #

    people dwell on obama way too much. people dwell on jesus too much.
    and look what we got from him? we’v got mns of deaf/dumb/blind people.
    i wld like to from DV contributors to cast widest look possible and not the narrowest possible.
    one does that by writing even a little bit ab what a personality thinks/says/does or will do.

  5. Danny Ray said on December 8th, 2008 at 12:38pm #

    Thanks James, for stating the obvious, and to all you other koolaid drinkers out there ,”I told you so”

  6. catherine said on December 8th, 2008 at 2:32pm #

    Great word, “dreg.” Perfect here.

    Good article, thanks. How long with the faithful continue to hold out hope, do you think?

  7. catherine said on December 8th, 2008 at 2:33pm #

    Uh, sorry, that should be “dregs.”

  8. Max Shields said on December 8th, 2008 at 4:05pm #

    While I agree that Obama is a spineless minion of the power structure, we have such short memories, or lack the historical underpinnings to realize that this country, dare I say it once again, is from its beginning an empire designed by elitist (with minor dissenting voices, who were mostly hypocritical). Our Constitution was not meant as a grand scheme for democracy, but as a means for an elite rule to keep the lid on the empire as it expanded and keep the perfunctory rebellions as they did occur in check.

    Obama is part of a long legacy not just two or three or four administrations but over 200 years of expansionism, exceptionalism and imperial empire occupation, wealth grabbing rule.

    “Our” presidents are caretakers of the kingdom, no more, no less. They get the spotlight, blame/credit for much of which is beyond their control. The wheels are turning and Obama’s job is to learn his cues and make sure he keeps that speechifying voice of his in shape – that’s all he’s got and we’re going to be pretty damn tired of hearing it, when he keeps using it to make it look like there’ll be better days a comm’n.

    The empire is at its end; he has the gawdawful job of not getting in the way as the great masses of workers, destitute, homeless, beggars (which is what most Americans will be as we journey into death on the installment plan). The crash is going to make the 30s look like a picnic.
    It’s happening. As the truth can no longer be held at bay, it will become an ugly reality.

    The only hope is to stay away from the national picture; create a local economy, import/export with your neighbors, create local currencies or time banking, invest locally, shop and buy what you need and can make – locally, make sure your farms are alive and well – if not do something about it; and by all means protect your food and water.

    The great infrastructure of America is ebbing. The oil prices going from 140 USD down to near 50 USD is like a tsunami as the tide goes out before rushing back with a furry at 250 USD per barrel. And alternatives – try lanterns and candels. We were a horribly selfish people. First we used slaves than we drained the world of its resources for our “comfort” and endless buying sprees and horrible decadence as it filled the biosphere, with endless war machinery, after killing millions with the first and only atomic explosions, and massacres of indigenous people; all the while convincing ourselves that “they” were jealous of “us”.

    Exceptional? In the end we are tied to our beginnning. Is it pure selfishness or just stupidity? Or both?

  9. bozh said on December 8th, 2008 at 5:38pm #

    who made money from increased price of oil and gas? where did the extra $1-2 a gln go?
    max, i’m glad that at least u say much like i say it.
    in short, forget ab jesus, kennedy, obama, bush, et al and concetrate on what US does and what it did.
    study the structure of any governance and how it functions; it only obtains an elucidation.
    same for christians. it’s an org that is structured just like an army and has only one cheek,
    having never turned the other cheek to its manufactured enemies like iraqis, et al.
    in US u have strong warhawks in christians. u have two-tier jurisprudence, two or three-tier health care.
    higher education for rich people’s children; thus not tapping on 80% of US talent.
    and the ruling class is onto all this; thus this knowledge is not disseminated in schools, media, entertaimnet or as a person said “infantainment” thnx
    etcetc. thnx

  10. Petronius said on December 8th, 2008 at 9:38pm #

    goes to show that here one can fool all of the people all of the time.

  11. JN said on December 8th, 2008 at 10:58pm #

    The ‘change’ from Bush to Obama is a perfect example of the purpose that elections are designed to serve in fundamentally undemocratic ‘liberal democracies.’ A new figurehead is appointed, the parties switch places, & everything that has been discredited over the past 8 years is re-legitimised despite the fact that nothing has actually changed. Of course Obama can afford to be bi-partisan: both parties are basically the same on major issues (foreign policy, economics, etc). The whole point of these electoral theatrics (in a system that very effectively excludes any real challenge or alternative to the status quo from ‘mainstream’ politics) is to disguise the fact that we are living in a capitalist dictatorship & to distract people from the real issues & the power that they have to do something about them.

    Moreover, an Obama regime may actually prove worse than Bush, difficult as that is to imagine. In Britain, Tony ‘New Labour’ have used their official status as the ‘lesser evil’ to do things that would have met with much greater opposition if done by the Tories (EG: the wars, Private Finance Initiative, erosion of civil rights, etc), cheered on by their supposedly ‘progressive’ & ‘liberal’ apologists.

    Fucking ‘liberals’ are as much the problem as ‘conservatives.’ They magnify their minor differences to conceal their essential unity as servants of capitalism/imperialism.

  12. johndoraemi said on December 9th, 2008 at 1:22am #

    Good stuff, Dr. Petras.

    Obama could also end up being the first black president to be impeached…

  13. Ramsefall said on December 9th, 2008 at 3:33am #

    Prof. Petras,

    an excellent read, perhaps pissed off but with clear justification as outlined in this piece. An historical election/moment indeed, the greatest con job yet to be pulled over the nation and easy to detect pre-election based on his campaign advisors and his own voting record. He has surrounded himself with experienced, elite hawks who will commit themselves to the facial restructuring and spring cleaning of their hegemonic empire; a clip here and a tuck there, we’re on our way!

    More to follow, thanks.

    Best to you.

  14. Ramsefall said on December 9th, 2008 at 4:01am #


    true words ringing loud and clear. I keep hearing Jim Morrison, “This is the end, beautiful friend, this is the end, my only friend, the end.” Its resonating words have to somehow, someway carry us on to better days of conscious awakening, kindness toward our neighbors and planet, and compassion for life and truth, with all heartless, mindless egotism blown to the wayside of our historical path to the world’s demise.

    Best to you.

  15. Josie Michel-Brüning said on December 9th, 2008 at 7:04am #

    While considering this article as an excellent analysis of Obama’s crew and their ambitions basing on 200 years of arrogance and exploitation of others, basing originally on jewish-christian ideology: “You are the chosen people (or elected?). Make the earth subjected to you!” I wonder, if all of you will resignate or give up by now?
    What about protests at the Wall Street? What about just taking them at their words?
    Yes, we can make a change! Didn’t you ask us to do so?
    What about those idealistic young people going from house to house and promoting Obama’s election?
    What about the motto: “We had the joy of sharing our hopes, but now we share the will of fullfilling them.”?

  16. Josie Michel-Brüning said on December 9th, 2008 at 7:20am #

    Just an addition: There is an island only 90 miles from your coasts away, practicing resistance being a laboratory of democratic socialism, still not perfect – because of threatening invasions, terrorist acts carried out from your territory and not to forget by “embargo” read blockade – but nevertheless struggling for the right to enjoy living.
    There are five Cubans being held in your prisons as hostages of their system, which has to be punished for wanting to enjoy their kind of living. – I regard them as one of the peaks of the iceberg. –
    If we manage to rehabilitate them, we have won a step forward. We would have made a difference, causing change.
    For more information: http://www.freethefive.org

  17. dino said on December 9th, 2008 at 7:40am #

    An excellent article but i read in counterpunch an excellent article written by Ted Honderich which praised the American system of democracy.Anyway ,supposing that Obama is a real reformist what other choices he has for forming his team?Insofar i know there are not others much better possibilities.But i think that all the people of the world watch the steps of Obama and his govern i can’t believe that will be a continuation of Bush era.

  18. Uri Evnery said on December 9th, 2008 at 11:38am #

    Excellent article! If Obama is a zionist puppet it will become one other major sign of the Israeli infestation of US democracy and the coming 8 years US will even go further down the drain, both economically and millitarily. One day Americans will wake up and zionists will despair completely. Israel on that day will threaten the world with total selfdestruction. The zionists will try to destroy everyones lives if they do not get their JHWH-promised Great Israel. That day we will be talking about how to disarm the jewish fanatics instead of muslim fanatics!!

  19. Gary Corseri said on December 13th, 2008 at 8:48am #

    Is it possible that James Petras is getting even better, stronger, feistier as his hair gets whiter?

    This is hard-hitting, no-punches pulled journalistic writing of a kind that is long gone in the mainstream media cesspool of political correctness and deliberate circumvention.

    Professor Petras’ name may have some connection to the Latin “petra” for rock. If so, he is well-named for he stands on rock-solid truth and percipience. Add his name to the pantheon of our best elder-statesmen social critics and political writers. (With Chomsky long gone into the “deep structure” of language and imperial rationalizations, and with the venerable Mr. Zinn fading into Obama boosterism, the pantheon requires some irrigation now.)

    Thanks, James, for naming names, telling it like it is and telling it how it’s gonna be. May you add many years to your “fifty year membership in the class struggle.”

  20. Robert Buchanan said on January 21st, 2009 at 5:50pm #

    I came across this article a bit late, but it’s a refreshing and illuminating read in contrast to the nauseating fawning of the mainstream news media.
    It should be mentioned that the decades-long and mostly subliminal effort by corporate entities and political institutions in the U.S. to influence the self-perception of the common man as a consumer, rather than a citizen, has been quite effective. The Obama campaign has exploited this success more than perhaps any commercial enterprise, by selling this figurehead fraud and “his” selection of Zionist warmongers and corporate shills to an eager, uncritical and vapid public.
    You get what you pay for.