Fuck Obama: revisting a post from 2008

Well, it looks like the knife in our collective back is being rammed in even deeper.

With that in mind, I just wanted to take a second to remind everyone that I WARNED YOU.

Yes, way back on November 21, 2008, I posted the following in my now defunct old blog.


Obama Wins! … Ad Age’s Marketer of the Year

“I honestly look at [Obama’s] campaign and I look at it as something that we can all learn from as marketers,”  to see what he’s done, to be able to create a social network and do it in a way where it’s created the tools to let people get engaged very easily. It’s very easy for people to participate.”

~ Angus Macaulay, VP-Rodale marketing solutions

B(a)RAND Obama Won!!!!

He didn’t just beat McCain, either.

He whupped all comers. Including, according to Ad Age, Apple, Nike, and Coors.

Ad Age Poll – How they voted
Marketer % of votes
Obama 36.1%
Apple 27.3%
Zappos 14.1%
Nike 9.4%
Coors 8.7%
McCain 4.5%

This really shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone, considering that Obama spent a cool $339.8 MILLION on “media” during the 2008 election cycle.

For the sake of perspective, I’ll provide a few comparisons:

John McCain spent $118.8 Million

Ralph Nader spent $2.0 Million

Cynthia McKinney spent $78.7 Thousand

You were told that you wanted CHANGE.

You were told that you wanted HOPE.

Then you were told over, and over, and over again, that Barack Obama represented that change and hope. You were told this by newspapers, and magazines, and t-shirts, and signs in people’s windows, and on the radio, and on stickers on people’s cars, and most importantly, on TV.

Then, you probably heard people talking about it at your places of business. I know that I did. I’d walk into our little office kitchen and hear people saying things like “You know, the Republicans have had eight years to screw things up; we need change.”

I’d hear statements like this and just shake my head, astonished at how open most people are to suggestion. It’s very similar to the way that people will say things like “I’m lovin’ these fries,” or “but Fox is fair and balanced,” or “those towers came down because the jet fuel burned so hot that it melted the steel beams,” or even “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for.”

You know, I was just considering the relevance of that last quote, and I almost deleted it. The more I think about it, though, the more it seems to be the most accurate description of the phenomenon that I’m attempting to describe here.

Marketing really is a lot like the “old Jedi mind trick” that Obi Wan Kenobi used so brilliantly in Star Wars. Instead of mind-fucking stormtroopers though, we get brainwashed into thinking that America is in Afghanistan in order to spread democracy, that it’s anti-Semitic to criticize the policies of the government of Israel, and that Barack Obama represents change and hope.

The parallels run even deeper than that, though, as the stormtroopers in the clip linked above seemed to have no idea that they were being manipulated. If there’s a strormtrooper version of the water cooler, my guess is that there’d be lots of conversations about how silly it is that those wacky Jedi Knights think that they’re actually able to influence the weak minded, when in reality, everyone knows that the Jedi mind trick doesn’t work at all…

And THAT is the brilliance of both the Jedi mind trick AND propaganda.

Oops. I almost forgot that we only call it propaganda when it happens OUTSIDE of the United States.


What I really meant to say was … THAT is the brilliance of both the Jedi mind trick AND advertising.

After all, how many people do you know who would admit to being influenced by advertising?

How often do you hear one of your friends say something like this:

“I saw a poster the other day that subtly, but beautifully combined the noble visage of Barack Obama with the colors of the American flag and an all caps version of the word HOPE. Even though it presented nothing more than a slickly designed, but intellectually empty platitude, it convinced me that he has my best interests at heart. It probably has a lot to do with its resemblance to that totally boss Che Guevara poster that I had over my bed when I was in high school.”

I’m guessing that you NEVER hear any of your friends say anything even remotely like that, and yet MILLIONS of dollars were spent on exactly this sort of poster, which seemingly led to millions of people repeating the Obama Hope/Change meme INCESSANTLY, and voting him into the (arguably) most powerful position in the world, despite the apparent fact that he does NOT represent hope, change, or the best interests of normal people (READ: people who are NOT politicians, bankers, or corporate CEOs).

It’s always “the other guy” who falls for the swindle.  You’re too smart for that, though.

So, why then are billions upon billions of dollars spent every year on advertising?

The answer is BECAUSE IT WORKS.

It works on the other guy, and it works on YOU, too. If you really think that Barack Obama represents any kind of real change, then you’re in dire need of a wake-up call.

Barack Obama voted to reauthorize the Patriot Act.

Barack Obama voted for the FISA legislation that gives immunity to the telecom corporations that cooperate with the Bush Administration’s illegal wire-tapping.

Here’s how the ACLU describes the FISA bill:

“an unconstitutional domestic spying bill that violates the Fourth Amendment and eliminates any meaningful role for judicial oversight of government surveillance”

Caroline Fredrickson, Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office called the bill “a Constitutional nightmare” and noted “with one vote, Congress has strengthened the executive branch, weakened the judiciary and rendered itself irrelevant.”

This past August, Barack Obama reversed his original stance against off-shore oil drilling.

Obama believes that “the death penalty is appropriate in certain circumstances.”

He is planning to INCREASE troop levels in Afghanistan.

Obama will NOT rule out the continued use of private security firms, such as Blackwater, in Iraq.

Regarding the EXPANSION of the United States military, Obama had this to say in January, 2008:

I strongly support the expansion of our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines.

He flip-flopped on his primary election ANTI-NAFTA stance, once Hillary Clinton was gone and it became useful to do so.

As I recently pointed out, Obama had this to say about former President George H.W. Bush and his foreign policy team (Including Sec. of Defense, Dick Cheney):

“You know, one of the things that I think George H.W. Bush doesn’t get enough credit for was his foreign policy team and the way that he helped negotiate the end of the Cold War and prosecuted the Gulf War. That cost us $20 billion dollars. That‘s all it cost. It was extremely successful. I think there were a lot of very wise people.”
~ (Larry King Live 3/23/08).

Obama voted IN FAVOR of the taxpayer funded $700 billion Wall Street bailout, which brings me to what is perhaps the most important issue of all.  Obama has been deafeningly silent on the legalized pyramid/ponzi scheme known as fractional reserve banking, and the Federal Reserve Bank, which, combined with all of the other world’s Central Banks, is the engine that drives the world’s WAR MACHINE. I’ve never heard Obama come anywhere near a discussion regarding the abolition, or at the very least, the nationalization of the Federal Reserve, despite the fact that under the Fed system, the U.S. government is forced to BORROW, at interest, every single dollar it spends (your tax dollars actually go directly to paying the interest on this debt).  THIS insane mechanism is the root cause of inflation, and is also the reason why the United States is over 10 TRILLION dollars IN DEBT.

I plan to devote a lengthy essay to this very topic in the not too distant future. I assure you, however, that you will NEVER hear Barack Obama talk about it.

The reason is simple. It’s because he doesn’t care about CHANGE, or HOPE, or YOU.

Unless, as I said earlier, you happen to be a politician, a banker, or a corporate CEO.

As Chuck D. once famously opined:

“Don’t believe the hype”


For much more current evidence of Obama’s corporo-fascist servitude, see my recent post titled I’m sorry, but Obama is a corporatist tool.

Rafeef Ziadah: We teach life, sir

“Today, my body was a TV’d massacre, and let me just tell you, there is nothing your U.N. resolutions have ever done about this, and no soundbyte I come up with, no matter how good my English gets, no soundbyte, no soundbyte, no soundbyte will bring them back to life. No soundbyte will fix this.

We teach life, sir.

We teach life, sir.

We Palestinians wake up every morning to teach the rest of the world life, sir.”

~ Rafeef Ziadah

Occupy Wall Street Photo Essay – Part 2

Part 1 of the America Psycho Occupy Wall Street Photo Essay is so enormous at this point that it’s launching extremely slowly on underpowered PCs. With that in mind, I bring you Part 2.

As with Part 1, I’ll be updating this on a continuing basis, so stay tuned.


The Newest photos are at the bottom.


Occupy Wall Street Photo Essay


I’ve been attending the Occupy Wall Street protests quite a bit.

If you have the means and the inclination, I highly recommend that you take part, as civil disobedience seems to be the only tool left to us.

As Mario Savio said:

“There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part; you can’t even passively take part, and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop. And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, to the people who own it, that unless you’re free, the machine will be prevented from working at all!”

Yesterday, we shut down the Brooklyn Bridge.

Join me, and put your bodies upon the gears.

I don’t have much time to write these days, so I’m just going to continuously update this photo essay, so stay tuned.

The newest photos are at the bottom.


Fukushima: Orders of magnitude worse than Chernobyl

‎”Nearly a million people have already died as a result of Chernobyl, despite what W.H.O. says, and the I.A.E.A. This is one of the most monstrous cover-ups in the history of medicine. Then we extrapolate through to Japan. Japan is, by orders of magnitude, many times worse than Chernobyl.”

~ Dr. Helen Caldicott

As I said last week, governments lie, and the compliant corporate media generally serve to amplify those lies. You really need to dig for solid information from more independent sources like Arnie Gunderson, and Dr. Helen Caldicott. Especially since the Peace Laureate is still pushing for new plants to be built in the U.S.

Gunderson, a former nuclear power industry executive and whistleblower, has been providing very informative periodic updates on Fairewinds.com. Here’s his latest.

In addition to Gunderson, I came across a video of Dr. Helen Caldicott, who has spent 38 years educating the public about the medical hazards of the nuclear age and the changes we must make to human behavior in order to reverse environmental destruction.

As the quote at the top of the page would suggest, she doesn’t paint a rosy picture. According to her, we’ve really screwed the pooch this time, guaranteeing a cancer-filled future for millions with our short-sighted, greed based energy policies.

She claims that the Fukushima disaster is producing a fallout cocktail of plutonium, radioactive iodine 129, strontium, cesium, tritium, and more, and that it will eventually spread over the entire northern hemisphere, and since in some cases we’re talking about half-lives of millions of years, we’ll be seeing a smorgasbord of thyroid cancer, bone cancer and leukemia until we finally figure out a way to destroy the entire planet and just be done with it already.

I’m not a religious person, but hey, smoke ’em if you got ’em.

Chris Hedges Speech – April 15, 2011 – BOA Protest

“Liberal or Conservative, it makes no difference now. Barack Obama serves corporate interests as assiduously as George W. Bush. And to place our faith in any party or established institution as a mechanism of reform is to be entranced by the celluloid shadows on the wall of Plato’s cave.”

~ Chris Hedges

As I mentioned here, New York City’s Union Square was my destination yesterday for a Bank of America/plutocracy protest. In all honesty, I expected a much bigger turnout than the 250ish people who showed up, especially since Chris Hedges was slated to make an appearance, but those of us who made it were fierce and on point.

And since Hedges can say it better than I could on my best day, I’ll just pass him the mic…

Oh, and you really need to see this guy dance to the jazzy rage of Junkyard Empire’s version of Get Up, Stand Up.

Dancing goodness begins at 0:41.

Greenwald: Obama’s “bad negotiating” is actually shrewd negotiating

I’m too busy to write at the moment, so I’m just going to highlite Glenn Greenwald’s latest piece in which he does a great job of shattering the “incompetence theorist” myth that continues to propose that poor Obama keeps on “failing” to enact progressive policies, while being “forced” to enact corporatist friendly ones.

It’s a point that I made here last week, and it’s really nice to see that Glenn and I are on the same wavelength, because he’s awesome.

Obama’s “bad negotiating” is actually shrewd negotiating

Wednesday, Apr 13, 2011 09:14 ET

By Glenn Greenwald

In December, President Obama signed legislation to extend hundreds of billions of dollars in Bush tax cuts, benefiting the wealthiest Americans. Last week, Obama agreed to billions of dollars in cuts that will impose the greatest burden on the poorest Americans. And now, virtually everyone in Washington believes, the President is about to embark on a path that will ultimately lead to some type of reductions in Social Security, Medicare and/or Medicaid benefits under the banner of “reform.” Tax cuts for the rich — budget cuts for the poor — “reform” of the Democratic Party’s signature safety net programs — a continuation of Bush/Cheney Terrorism policies and a new Middle East war launched without Congressional approval. That’s quite a legacy combination for a Democratic President.

All of that has led to a spate of negotiation advice from the liberal punditocracy advising the President how he can better defend progressive policy aims — as though the Obama White House deeply wishes for different results but just can’t figure out how to achieve them. Jon Chait, Josh Marshall, and Matt Yglesias all insist that the President is “losing” on these battles because of bad negotiating strategy, and will continue to lose unless it improves. Ezra Klein says “it makes absolutely no sense” that Democrats didn’t just raise the debt ceiling in December, when they had the majority and could have done it with no budget cuts. Once it became clear that the White House was not following their recommended action of demanding a “clean” vote on raising the debt ceiling — thus ensuring there will be another, probably larger round of budget cuts — Yglesias lamented that the White House had “flunked bargaining 101.” Their assumption is that Obama loathes these outcomes but is the victim of his own weak negotiating strategy.

I don’t understand that assumption at all. Does anyone believe that Obama and his army of veteran Washington advisers are incapable of discovering these tactics on their own or devising better strategies for trying to avoid these outcomes if that’s what they really wanted to do? What evidence is there that Obama has some inner, intense desire for more progressive outcomes? These are the results they’re getting because these are the results they want — for reasons that make perfectly rational political sense.

Conventional D.C. wisdom — that which Obama vowed to subvert but has done as much as any President to bolster — has held for decades that Democratic Presidents succeed politically by being as “centrist” or even as conservative as possible. That attracts independents, diffuses GOP enthusiasm, casts the President as a triangulating conciliator, and generates raves from the DC press corps — all while keeping more than enough Democrats and progressives in line through a combination of anti-GOP fear-mongering and partisan loyalty.

Isn’t that exactly the winning combination that will maximize the President’s re-election chances? Just consider the polling data on last week’s budget cuts, which most liberal commentators scorned. Americans support the “compromise” by a margin of 58-38%; that support includes a majority of independents, substantial GOP factions, and 2/3 of Democrats. Why would Democrats overwhelmingly support domestic budget cuts that burden the poor? Because, as Yglesias correctly observed, “just about anything Barack Obama does will be met with approval by most Democrats.” In other words, once Obama lends his support to a policy — no matter how much of a departure it is from ostensible Democratic beliefs — then most self-identified Democrats will support it because Obama supports it, because it then becomes the “Democratic policy,” by definition. Adopting “centrist” or even right-wing policies will always produce the same combination — approval of independents, dilution of GOP anger, media raves, and continued Democratic voter loyalty — that is ideal for the President’s re-election prospects.

That tactic in the context of economic policy has the added benefit of keeping corporate and banking money on Obama’s side (where it overwhelmingly was in 2008), or at least preventing a massive influx to GOP coffers. And just look at the team of economic advisers surrounding Obama from the start: does anyone think that Bill Daley, Tim Geithner and his army of Rubin acolytes and former Goldman Sachs executives are sitting around in rooms desperately trying to prevent budget cuts and entitlement “reforms”?

Why would Obama possibly want to do anything different? Why would he possibly want a major political war over the debt ceiling where he looks like a divisive figure and looks to be opposing budget cuts? Why would he possibly want to draw a line in the sand defending Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security from any “reforms”? There would be only two reasons to do any of that: (1) fear that he would lose too much of his base if he compromised with the GOP in these areas, or (2) a genuine conviction that such compromises are morally or economically intolerable. Since he so plainly lacks both — a fear of losing the base or genuine convictions about this or anything else — there’s simply nothing to drive him to fight for those outcomes.

Like most first-term Presidents after two years, Obama is preoccupied with his re-election, and perceives — not unreasonably — that that goal is best accomplished by adopting GOP policies. The only factor that could subvert that political calculation — fear that he could go too far and cause Democratic voters not to support him — is a fear that he simply does not have: probably for good reason. In fact, not only does Obama not fear alienating progressive supporters, the White House seems to view that alienation as a positive, as it only serves to bolster Obama’s above-it-all, centrist credentials. Here’s what CNN’s White House Correspondent Ed Henry and Gloria Borger said last night about the upcoming fight over entitlements and the debt ceiling:

Henry: I was talking to a senior Democrat who advises the White House, outside the White House today who was saying look, every time this president sits down with Speaker Boehner, to Gloria’s point about negotiating skills, the president seems to give up another 5 billion dollars, 10 billion dollars, 20 billions dollars. It’ s like the spending cuts keep going up. If you think about where the congressional Democrats started a couple of months ago they were talking about no spending cuts on the table. It keeps going up.

But this president has a much different reality than congressional Democrats.

Borger (sagely): Right.

Henry: He’s going for re-election, him going to the middle and having liberal Democrats mad at him is not a bad thing.

Borger: Exactly.

That’s why I experience such cognitive dissonance when I read all of these laments from liberal pundits that Obama isn’t pursuing the right negotiating tactics, that he’s not being as shrewd as he should be. He’s pursuing exactly the right negotiating tactics and is being extremely shrewd — he just doesn’t want the same results that these liberal pundits want and which they like to imagine the President wants, too. He’s not trying to prevent budget cuts or entitlement reforms; he wants exactly those things because of how politically beneficial they are to him — to say nothing of whether he agrees with them on the merits.

When I first began blogging five years ago, I used to write posts like that all the time. I’d lament that Democrats weren’t more effectively opposing Bush/Cheney National Security State policies or defending civil liberties. I’d attribute those failures to poor strategizing or a lack of political courage and write post after post urging them to adopt better tactics to enable better outcomes or be more politically “strong.” But then I realized that they weren’t poor tacticians getting stuck with results they hated. They simply weren’t interested in generating the same outcomes as the ones I wanted.

It wasn’t that they eagerly wished to defeat these Bush policies but just couldn’t figure out how to do it. The opposite was true: they were content to acquiesce to those policies, if not outright supportive of them, because they perceived no political advantage in doing anything else. Many of them supported those policies on the merits while many others were perfectly content with their continuation. So I stopped trying to give them tactical advice on how to achieve outcomes they didn’t really want to achieve, and stopped attributing their failures to oppose these policies to bad strategizing or political cowardice. Instead, I simply accepted that these were the outcomes they most wanted, that Democratic Party officials on the whole — obviously with some exceptions — weren’t working toward the outcomes I had originally assumed (and which they often claimed). Once you accept that reality, events in Washington make far more sense.

That Obama’s agenda includes an affirmative desire for serious budget cuts and entitlement “reforms” has been glaringly obvious from the start; it’s not some unintended, recent by-product of Tea Party ascendancy. Since before Obama was even inaugurated, Digby has been repeatedly warning of his support for a so-called “Grand Bargain” that would include cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And Jane Hamsher and Ezra Klein had a fairly acrimonious exchange very early on in the Obama presidency over the former’s observation that Obama officials were expressly advocating cuts in Social Security while Klein insisted that this would never happen (yesterday, Klein reported that Obama would be supportive of Bowles-Simpson, which proposes deep cuts to Social Security, and boasted of his anticipation weeks ago that this would happen). Before Obama’s inauguration, I wrote that the most baffling thing to me about the enthusiasm of his hardest-core supporters was the belief that he was pioneering a “new form of politics” when, it seemed obvious, it was just a re-branded re-tread of Clintonian triangulation and the same “centrist”, scorn-the-base playbook Democratic politicians had used for decades.

What amazes me most is the brazen claims of presidential impotence necessary to excuse all of this. Atrios has written for weeks about the “can’t do” spirit that has overtaken the country generally, but that mindset pervades how the President’s supporters depict both him and the powers of his office: no bad outcomes are ever his fault because he’s just powerless in the face of circumstance. That claim is being made now by pointing to a GOP Congress, but the same claim was made when there was a Democratic Congress as well: recall the disagreements I had with his most loyal supporters in 2009 and 2010 over their claims that he was basically powerless even to influence his own party’s policy-making in Congress.

Such excuse-making stands in very sharp contrast to what we heard in 2008 and what we will hear again in 2012: that the only thing that matters is that Obama win the Presidency because of how powerful and influential an office it is, how disaster will befall us all if this vast power falls into Republican hands. It also contradicts the central promise of the Obama candidacy: that he would change, rather than bolster, the standard power dynamic in Washington. And it is especially inconsistent with Obama’s claimed desire to be a “transformational” President in much the way that Ronald Reagan was (but, Obama said to such controversy, Bill Clinton was not). Gaudy claims of Fundamental Change and Transformation and Yes, We Can! have given way to an endless parade of excuse-making that he’s powerless, weak and there’s nothing he can do.

Obama’s most loyal supporters often mock the notion that a President’s greatest power is his “bully pulpit,” but there’s no question that this is true. Reagan was able to transform how Americans perceived numerous political issues because he relentlessly argued for his ideological and especially economic world-view: a rising tide lifts all boats, government is not the solution but is the problem, etc. — a whole slew of platitudes and slogans that convinced Americans that conservative economic policy was optimal despite how much it undermined their own economic interests. Reagan was “transformational” because he changed conventional wisdom and those premises continue to pervade our political discourse.

When has Obama ever done any of that? When does he offer stirring, impassioned defenses of the Democrats’ vision on anything, or attempt to transform (rather than dutifully follow) how Americans think about anything? It’s not that he lacks the ability to do that. Americans responded to him as an inspirational figure and his skills of oratory are as effective as any politician in our lifetime. It’s that he evinces no interest in it. He doesn’t try because those aren’t his goals. It’s not that he or the office of the Presidency are powerless to engender other outcomes; it’s that he doesn’t use the power he has to achieve them because, quite obviously, achieving them is not his priority or even desire.

Whether in economic policy, national security, civil liberties, or the permanent consortium of corporate power that runs Washington, Obama, above all else, is content to be (one could even say eager to be) guardian of the status quo. And the forces of the status quo want tax cuts for the rich, serious cuts in government spending that don’t benefit them (social programs and progressive regulatory schemes), and entitlement “reform” — so that’s what Obama will do. He won’t advocate, and will actually oppose, steps as extreme as the ones Paul Ryan is proposing: that’s how he will retain his “centrist” political identity and keep the fear levels high among his voting base. He’ll pay lip service to some Democratic economic dogma and defend some financially inconsequential culture war positions: that’s how he will signal to the base that he’s still on their side. But the direction will be the same as the GOP desires and, most importantly, how the most powerful economic factions demand: not because he can’t figure out how to change that dynamic, but because that’s what benefits him and thus what he wants.

Ironically, Obama is turning out to be “transformational” in his own way — by taking what was once the defining GOP approach to numerous policy areas and converting them into Democratic ones, and thus ensconcing them in the invulnerable protective shield of “bipartisan consensus.” As Digby put it: “Reagan was a hard-core ideologue who didn’t just tweak some processes but radically changed the prevailing conventional wisdom. Unfortunately, Obama is actually extending the Reagan consensus, even as he pursues his own agenda of creating a Grand Bargain that will bring peace among the dueling parties (a dubious goal in itself.)” That has been one of the most consequential outcomes of the first two years of his presidency in terms of Terrorism and civil liberties, and is now being consecrated in the realm of economic policy as well.

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