Barack Obama, the Great Deceiver

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Barack Obama swept into office on a tide of giddy enthusiasm. His “Hope and Change” was a pledge to reverse Bush era policies, including socialism for the rich, adventurism in the Middle East, and attacks on civil liberties. He announced his intention to serve as a transformational leader, invoking Abraham Lincoln, FDR and Ronald Reagan as role models. Despite the frigid temperatures, people poured into Washington, DC to hear his inauguration speech, wanting to be part of a remarkable passage.

It wasn’t simply that Obama was the first black president, but also that the economic devastation of the financial crisis opened up a historic opportunity to remake the social contract, to punish the reckless and greedy, no matter how lofty, and to build new foundations and safeguards for ordinary citizens. Obama, with his youthful vigor, his technocratic command of policy details, his “no drama” steadiness, his mastery of oratory, seemed uniquely suited to this time of need. His personal history of repeatedly breaking new ground fed optimism that he could do so for the nation as a whole.

Those times of heady promise are now a cruel memory. Again and again, Obama has shown his true colors. It isn’t simply that Obama lied. Politicians lie. But there are norms for political lying. The depth and dependability of Obama’s misrepresentations constitute a difference in kind.

See 6:40 to 12:40 for a reminder.

His pattern of grand promises producing at-best-in-name only and at worst outright bait and switch was well established by his 2008 campaign. Some close observers pointed out his past legerdemain, for instance, his misleading account of his years in New York, his record of fronting for finance and real estate interests in Chicago, his promise to bring a state-wide health care program to Illinois, which in the end was walked back to a mere study. And there were more decisive tells in 2008: the high level of Wall Street funding for his campaign, the inclusion of neoliberal “Chicago boys” in his economics team, his reversal on FISA after promising to filibuster it, which gave retroactive immunity to telecoms for aiding and abetting illegal wiretapping, and his whipping for TARP.

Obama didn’t make compromises necessary to lead effectively. He entered office with majorities in both houses and a country eager for a new direction. He has repudiated or retraded every pledge he made. He promised transformational leadership, and instead emulated Wall Street, devising complex programs that to sell average Americans short and reap his funders handsome rewards in the process. Rather than elevate his fellow citizens, Obama’s transactional focus and neoliberal philosophy have kicked the struggling middle class down the road greased by the right.

The ugly facts about how Obama has governed are beyond dispute. Numerous writers have set forth well documented bills of particulars against him, including “‘Lucy’ Obama and His ‘Charlie Brown’ Progressives” to “21 reasons why I will not vote for Obama in 2012” or “Obama’s Scandal List” (304 items long in 2009). And that’s before you get to the even longer list of despairing or outraged assessments on specific policy beats, such as this blog’s criticism of his coddling of the financial services industry, his failure to address festering problems in the housing market, his long-standing commitment to cutting Social Security and Medicare, and his refusal to address widening income inequality.

But even when you put aside the relentless propagandizing of the Democratic hackocracy and they way Obama has systematically neutered critics on the left, a mystery remains: why has his image remained largely immune to his performance? An insightful article in Australia’s The Age in January 2008 anticipated that Obama could not live up to his transformational promises even if he had made an earnest effort. It compared him to a high flying tech stock that would be hit by a sharp correction, and warned that the self-referential, messianic campaign would have to deal the disappointment that would come with trying to implementing the vision.

Yet puzzlingly, Obama retains a peculiar ability to elicit Pavlovian responses from many of his followers. Recall the press frenzy over the assassination of Osama bin Laden, who for years had been irrelevant to the operations of Al Qaeda. Contrast this reaction with the lack of widespread outrage over the fact that the Administration has bestowed on it the right to hit any American “suspect” the same way. Similarly, the beatification of Obama for his support of gay marriage gives him more credit than he deserves for a cold, political calculation. Obama can see that his opposition is virtually unchanged by this endorsement and he’ll win some serious funding. As Lambert points out:

The whole thing is also distressing because of the authoritarian followership involved. The one time anybody not in Obama’s charmed circle “made him do it” none of the doers claims credit for an amazing, generation-long triumph of courage and organizing skill (and, I might add, in the main, non-violent); the whole story is about Obama’s “evolution” instead of the house-by-house and family-by-family success of “coming out.” Gag me with a spoon.

Similarly, many of Obama’s betrayals go underreported. Obama promised to back labor and reneged. He vowed to support a card check bill that would facilitate the formation of unions at specific workplaces. After failing to act on it before the Democrats lost their filibuster-proof Senate majority, Obama simply declared it too difficult to pass, meaning not worthy of his time or political capital. He also pledged to the give 40,000 TSA employees the same bargaining rights as other Federal workers. Instead, after considerable delay, they were granted improved rights, but still less than those of other government employees.

Comparing the content of Obama’s actions with how they are presented to the public is key to understanding his distinctive skills as President. Obama, who sees the Great Communicator, Ronald Reagan, as his most important role model, is the Great Deceiver.

In many ways, Obama has simply taken the Reagan playbook to the next level. Reagan first and foremost was an actor, and succeeded in projecting sincerity, firmness of purpose, and idealism about America….in selling a story line developed and honed over the preceding decade by well-funded right wing think tanks and Madison Avenue marketers. But Republicans have been straightforward about their love of policies that favor the wealthy, their hatred of labor, their belief in American military dominance. Reagan was effective in promoting the idea that freedom was tantamount to economic choice. But democracy and the unrestricted operation of markets are in fact at odds, as we now know all too well. Many areas of commerce have advantages to scale, so successful operators will come to wield financial power, which they can turn into political clout.

It would be easier to come to grips with Obama if he could be more easily compared to past executives, whether actual or fictional. Obama’s intelligence and willingness to delve into details of policy issues resonate with the modern idealization of expertise, even when technocratically oriented Administrations have not fared well, at least for ordinary Americans. Famously, the “best and the brightest” of the Kennedy-Johnson era and Rubinite/Hamilton Project wonkery each paved the road to bad outcomes (the escalation of the Vietnam war, and the finance-friendly policies that produced the crisis, respectively).

At the same time, Obama is a stellar student of the best of Madison Avenue phrasemaking (don’t “signature strikes” sound innocuous?) and impressively polished even when off Teleprompter. Consider how Tom Engelhardt struggles to reconcile Obama’s veneer with his actions:

He has few constraints (except those he’s internalized). No one can stop him or countermand his orders. He has a bevy of lawyers at his beck and call to explain the “legality” of his actions. And if he cares to, he can send a robot assassin to kill you, whoever you are, no matter where you may be on planet Earth.

He sounds like a typical villain from a James Bond novel. You know, the kind who captures Bond, tells him his fiendish plan for dominating the planet, ties him up for some no less fiendish torture, and then leaves him behind to gum up the works.

As it happens, though, he’s the president of the United State, a nice guy with a charismatic wife and two lovely kids.

How could this be?

Engelhardt depicts a malevolent leader without using that word. It is hard to see a policy of drone strikes that have and will continue to kill innocents, a continuation of extraordinary renditions, and assassinations of American citizens merely suspected of terrorism, in any other light.

But his actions are detrimental not only for their overweening, super-hero-like force, but more often, for serving vested interests by being deliberately weak, badly watered down versions of real reforms (and correspondingly, notice how often Obama maintains he was boxed in by intransigent Republicans, when in fact they serve as convenient scapegoats for what he wanted to do anyhow?)

And by taking as much debate and energy as the genuine remedies, they prevent the topic from being revisited for years, if not decades. The frequently criticized Dodd Frank is one example, but the poster child is Obamacare. The program manages the difficult feat of worsening the fundamental problem of our health care system, which is bad incentives and resulting out-of-control costs. It enriched Big Pharma and the insurers rather than bringing them to heel. The result will be overpriced insurance that covers little. We’re seeing that start now as the FDA is looking into make a number of widely used drugs, such as high blood pressure and cholesterol medications, over the counter, which would mean they would not be covered by health care policies.

Readers of this blog are likely to argue that they have a jaded view of Obama, but still regard him as preferable to Romney. But they seem to fail to appreciate another layer of Obama’s deception, that his charm and unflappable demeanor mask his ruthlessness. It’s no accident that he chose Rahm Emanuel as his initial chief of staff, an enforcer and by all accounts one of the members of what was an unusually tight inner team. The Democrats are now indistinguishable from the Republicans in their mastery of Rovian playing on identity politics. Obama has also proven adept at neutralizing well positioned actual or potential threats, such as David Petraeus, Elizabeth Warren, and Eric Schneiderman.

Glen Ford, in “Why Barack Obama is the More Effective Evil” stresses that Obama gets what he wants and that makes him dangerous. Key extracts:

Let me say from the very beginning that we at Black Agenda Report do not think that Barack Obama is the Lesser Evil. He is the more Effective Evil….

They [Wall Street] invested in Obama to protect them from harm, as a hedge against the risk of systemic disaster caused by their own predations..They had vetted Obama, thoroughly, before he even set foot in the U.S. Senate in 2004.

He protected their interests, there, helping shield corporations from class action suits, and voting against caps on credit card Interest. He was their guy back then – and some of us were saying so, back then…

I have no doubt that New Gingrich and Republicans in general have worse intentions for the future of my people – of Black people – than Michelle Obama’s husband does. But, that doesn’t matter. Black people are not going to roll over for whatever nightmarish Apocalypse the sick mind of Newt Gingrich would like to bring about. But, they have already rolled over for Obama’s economic Apocalypse in Black America. There was been very little resistance. Which is just another way of saying that Obama has successfully blunted any retribution by organized African America against the corporate powers that have devastated and destabilized Black America in ways that have little precedence in modern times…

The real Obama was the initiator of this Austerity nightmare – a nightmare scripted on Wall Street, which provided the core of Obama’s policy team from the very beginning…

The real Obama retained Bush’s Secretary of War, because he was determined to re-package the imperial enterprise and expand the scope and theaters of war…

He would make merciless and totally unprovoked war against Libya – and then tell Congress there had been no war at all, and it was none of their business, anyway. And he got away with it.

Now, that is the Most Effective Evil war mongering imaginable. Don’t you dare call him a Lesser Evil. Obama is Awesomely Evil.

And remember, Obama has embraced deficit hawkery and has made “reforming” Social Security and Medicare a top priority for his next term.

Ford is right. Defending Obama as “the lesser of two evils” isn’t merely letting him off the hook for his betrayals. Those who take that position are actively enabling his conduct. They are part of the problem.

The success of gay rights activists shows how you effect change, and it isn’t primarily through the ballot box. Just like the successful program of the radical right launched in the the 1970s, these battles are fought on a much broader front, with national political change a lagging indicator of shifts in social tectonic plates. This a not a battle but a crusade, and takes more guts and tenacity than showing up and voting, or giving money to preferred candidates.

If you want this country to be different, you can’t just wish for it or expect voting to effect change. You need to be part of making it happen. And that was perhaps the greatest of Obama’s deceptions, that by listening to his seductive rhetoric, your passivity made you part of something greater and was tantamount to supporting change. That’s true only in the spiritual realm, not in the imperfect arena of here and now. Glenn Greenwald warned (emphasis his):

Obama is still a highly effective politician capable of this level of exploitation: exploiting people’s hopes and desires. When you combine that with the desire to believe — to feel once again that he will uplift people’s lives and that the hope one placed in him was justified and not misguided: nobody wants to feel like they were successfully defrauded — it’s an easy trick to repeat…that it’s a grand Manichean battle between Our Great Leader and Their Evil Villain — and there will be plenty of endorphins pumping through people’s brains. There will be enough to drown a large country.

Groups that have has a lasting impact on the social order – the Populists, the original Progressives, suffragettes, labor, blacks – organized outside the party system; indeed, when they were brought in the tent, they became less effective. The public has been told, again and again, the only choice is to hold your nose and select one of the two parties. It’s time we recognize that that myth no longer serves us.

Those of us who care about decency, the rule of law, constraints on corporate power, civil rights, and economic protections for the downtrodden have become complacent, and we are now reaping the bitter harvest of our neglect. Many of these protections seemed so fundamental that there has been a tremendous amount of denial over the speed at which they are being stripped from us. But these gains were not granted freely or easily by those in authority. They came about as a result of long, persistent, difficult campaigns. If we want to preserve the rights previous generations fought hard to win, we have to make this battle our own.

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  1. Rich

    He was also my last “hope” for the integrity of the American political process. I now see our process for what it is, a theater constructed to give the illusion of self-determination.

    I am now deeply cycnical, and refuse to be duped again. I will now only support third parties…(the challenge now is ballot access….something the corupt duopoly will forever obstruct)

      1. Mike

        All opposition politicians run on a platform of hope and change. The fact that Obama used those two words as almost the entirety of the substance of his campaign created great danger of the cynicism you speak of, and I think he is The Last Politician whose election foretells the slow unraveling of our democracy.

      1. Tertium Squid

        Dude, they want you to give up and lose hope.

        Third parties can win local elections all the time.

        Even “big office” elections can be affected. All presidential elections are close 55-45 affairs now. If Ron Paul runs as an independent and peels off some electoral votes somewhere, that will have a big effect.

        The duopoly will only reform when its existence is threatened.

        1. Warren Celli

          They welcome third party suckers and have the structure in place to dissipate all of your energies. And when the election is over you will have no lasting in government representative power to show for all of your efforts.

          It is time to diss the entire crooked system with proactive election boycotts (think of them as fourth parties) as a “Vote of No Confidence” in this crooked government. You already have 52% of the electorate as no shows who can be easily claimed as dissatisfied by their present boycotting actions (you know that apathy has nothing to do with them staying home). Get 18% more to boycott, vocalize it loudly and this government will lose all legitimacy and fail. You will also force these assholes to pass a mandatory voting law. Start working against that now in conjunction with the proactive boycotts! Set up fish bowls labeled “Election Boycotts! Vote of No Confidence in 1% Government!” on the commons everywhere and collect and display voter registration cards. Hand out boiler plate Proactive Boycott letters to be sent to Supervisors of Elections. Provide postage. Letters should state that lack of trust in government and the electoral process is the rationale for the boycott and include a demand that the letter be counted and publicly recognized as a “Vote of No Confidence”. Letters should also be displayed in the commons. No law breaking camping overnight. Keep it all legit and stress that it can all be done patriotically in the privacy of your own home. Discuss and create a Constitutional rewrite in tandem with the above. Make one person one vote on hand counted paper ballots a part of the New Constitution.

          Good post Yves, nice to see you so boldly taking it “outside the tent”.

          Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          1. Warren Celli

            Thanks Frank, NO on Facebook, yes on web site which is forthcoming. Here is a sample on this particular subject;

            Strategy — Phase One
            1. Election Boycotts:
            Gaining Power: Job number one — creating a responsive to the will of the people direct democracy electoral process… Farce to force! Yes, you have to give up being controlled by farce in order to take control and gain force! This will take proactive, not passive, boycotts of the present electoral process with a reorganization outside of, and in parallel with, the corrupt system.

            When you come to see that these abuses are either by design, as I strongly believe, or even not by design, it matters not. What matters is that the abuses exist, they are severe, and they are working to destroy us. Good conscience, love, and caring, compels us now — all of us — to withdraw our consent, to no longer be complicit, and to shun the present farce immoral social political system and start again to gain force outside the present system.

            The power of shunning — a ‘Vote of NO Confidence’… Voting is not a civic duty, it is a civil right like free speech. Just as you are not compelled to speak, you are not compelled to vote. Not voting is a vote that has the power of context. In times of citizen satisfaction a non vote can be considered a vote of confidence in the government that is setting the policy that is providing that citizen satisfaction.

            In turbulent times, where the citizenry is vocally dissatisfied and has repeatedly shown its disapproval when the government has repeatedly acted against its citizen will and been non responsive to that will, a non vote can be considered a ‘Vote of NO Confidence’ in that non responsive government. There is little doubt of citizen dissatisfaction with today’s aberrant wealthy self anointed elite corporate governance and little doubt that moneyed wealthy elite corporate interests have hijacked our government. Poll after poll leaves no doubt as to citizen dissatisfaction. Non votes in today’s context can confidently be counted as ‘Votes of NO Confidence’ in this hijacked government.

            We have a Constitutional crisis that can not be resolved from within — the system is too corrupt… Election boycotts will be a bottom up movement and will include a concurrent revision of the Constitution made by all participants. The Constitution, like software, is in need of a serious upgrade. Past corruption has prevented revisions along the way, and the present corporate hijacking of the government has made change from within impossible. The New Constitution, fashioned and structured after the old, will include an electoral process of direct democracy with open and transparent voting on paper ballots by all citizens, hand counted by real humans — not machines! That Constitutional revision to regain control of the rule of law should also include, as a minimum; regaining of citizen control of all media, corporations, and banking.

            Be wary of those who constantly implore you to seek remedial measures within the crooked system. Look at their wealth and stature and how they have come by it. People who advocate remedial change from within are either drinking the Kool Aid (they are totally gullible cons) or they are selling it (they are disingenuous shills). And don’t let them tell you that the American people are too stupid for direct democracy and can not be trusted to govern themselves. Yes, we have all been dumbed down a bit by the excessive ‘Greed and Evil is Good’ propaganda in the past forty plus years, but given the truth and the proper incentives the vast majority of American people are fair and intelligent and will recenter themselves to a sustainable course. That is what the wealthy elite gangsters are afraid of — fairness, direct democracy and the truth of sustainability.

            Proactive election boycotts as a ‘Vote of No Confidence’ in these corrupt governments should be organized in existing geographical areas; states, counties, etc. and they should be linked on the internet by all means possible for maximum exposure. Proactive means writing a letter of boycott intent to local Supervisors of Elections as a ‘Vote of No Confidence’ in the existing corrupt government. The letter should demand direct democracy, with paper ballots open to all citizens of all political persuasions, and should include a notice and demand that your letter will be publicly counted as a ‘Vote of No Confidence’. These votes should also be counted in parallel paper elections. Useless voter registration cards should be publicly collected and displayed in fish bowls at electoral boycott rallies. In tandem with that effort a rewrite of existing Constitutions should be begun. The intent is to erase Aggregate Generational Corruption so as to level the societal playing field (eliminate the FED, corporate person hood, regain control of the public media, the commons, etc.) and to eliminate the aberrant and immoral corrupt influence of the <1%.

            This struggle is at its essence about reclaiming and improving our intentionally soiled morality.

            Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

          2. Cindy Elmwood

            You are wrong. A boycott or vote of no confidence is indistinguishable from apathy, and that’s how you *really* dissipate the opposition. Third party is the only real answer, assuming you still want to work within a democratic/voting framework. Third parties in other countries are influential, and if there were a time for them to become influential here, it is now.

          3. different clue

            I wonder whether showing up and casting selectively blank ballots might not be a more effective (because more counted) way of voting No then just staying away from the polling place?
            For example, almost every ballot features initiative or referrenda items of interest to people in every locality. What if turnout was 90% with that 90% voting on those initiatives and referrenda . . . but only 20% of those voters marking the lines having to do with President or whatever other level people feel needs boycotting? Those “non-votes” would be hard to spin away if “not-cast” by people who clearly took the trouble to vote on whether it should be legal to shoot bears chased up trees by packs of hounds ( which was a ballot initiative one year here in Michigan). Imagine the unspinnable impact of 90% voter turnout to vote about hunting treed bears with dogs while those same voters make a point of refusing to cast a vote for President on the very same ballots on which they made a point of casting a vote on whether mourning doves shall remain a non-huntable songbird or shall become a huntable gamebird.

      2. Aquifer

        Supporting 3rd parties is not only NOT pointless, it is a NECESSARY adjunct to the crusade Yves refers to. Otherwise, the duopoly remains intact, whether you vote for them or not. Without making different choices at the polls the only thing that threatens it is outright revolution, and it is clear they are making preparations for that.

        Make no mistake, it is the ballot or the bullet and if you eschew the former, you are left with the latter ..

        1. chitown2020

          Where is the third party candidate..? Ron Paul already said he doubts he would bother running as a third party candidate because of the way the system is set up. The electoral college needs to go. Popular vote should elect the President. I like Eliot Spitzer because he gets it.

          1. different clue

            There are always some Third-Party wannabes. I will look for a semi-credible socialist alternative (other than the Green Party dancers-on-Wellstone’s-spit-upon grave.

      3. tom allen

        Third parties like the Socialists forced the Democratic Party to the left in the 1930s. But hey, it’s not like we’re in a depression right now, or there’s going to be a major shock to the economic system next month when the Eurozone collapses. And certainly, as we have seen in Greece and Germany, third parties NEVER have any influence.

        1. Aquifer

          Hear, hear! The Greens could be to the Dems what the Reps were to the Whigs – “spoilers” indeed …

          Good thing folks didn’t believe Abe “couldn’t win” ….

      4. F. Beard

        Only in the very short term. I wrote in Ron Paul in 2008 (Before I learned a thing or two about gold bugs) and now look, 4 years later he is making an even bigger splash. Heck, he could win the Republican nomination by 2016.

        I say forget this election and vote 3rd party so your candidate/Party might have a chance in 2016.

          1. chitown2020

            The electoral college needs to go. It is too Roman. Popular vote should be the only way to elect a President in a free and open society.

          2. chitown2020

            The electoral college reminds of the college of cardinals that elects the Pope. It is a bit too much like a Roman Dictatorship.

      5. Flying Kiwi

        “Supporting third parties is pretty much pointless in a first-past-the-post system.” – liberal

        No, it’s like turning the steering on a super-tanker. It can be a long time before anything seems to happen but it will eventually have an effect.

        1. William

          “Supporting third parties is pretty much pointless in a first-past-the-post system.” – liberal

          “No, it’s like turning the steering on a super-tanker. It can be a long time before anything seems to happen but it will eventually have an effect.”

          And in this case, with the rapidity at which this country is becoming a police state with a “justice” system that shelters economic criminals who continue their rapant fraud at the taxpayers’ expense operating within a fincial system which owns our government, by the time we begin to turn, we will have long before hit the iceberg and sunk.

      6. Guy Fawkes

        It is people like you who should be ashamed. We have every freedom to vote for WHOMEVER we choose, for now. And if we would have worked for a solid third party LONG ago, we would not now be beholden to a two party system, where we effectively cannot vote out the crooks.

        Shame on you for your little, little mind.

      7. OpenThePodBayDoorHAL

        I held my nose and voted for Mondale. Dukakis. Kerry. When I voted for Obama, I was hopeful and thought I knew what I would be getting. Turns out to be the biggest con of all: not just broken campaign promises, but rather active pursuit of the opposite of the promises. From bank reform, to health care reform, to imperial war, to civil liberties, the Obama agenda has made me wish for the likes of Gerald Ford, Nixon, and even that former anti-Christ Reagan. I can’t believe I’m making that statement: I would prefer the taxation, foreign relations, and domestic policies of Ronald Reagan over the current occupant. Think about that for a moment all you Obama apologists…
        As Lenin said “what then shall be done?” I left the country and last month gave up my US passport permanently. In shame. America has become the world’s Apex Bully, under Bully-in-Chief Obomba. Good riddance.

        1. Tuga

          I agree with you.

          As a foreigner and living in Europe I would like to tell you all. Obama is destroying your country. In Europe we are more worried with our current crisis but a lot of people think this. USA is a rotten Empire worst than us.

          Let me explain better. The Iran case. Ii is very strange how can Obama lead the West to the most pathetic strategic plan that is pressing the second most major oil producer of the world. Pressing and preparing everything to attack and start one war where 20% of the world oil production transits: the Ormuz strait in the Gulf Persic. No one in his sane mind understands why are the Americans leading this embargo and pushing us, all the West against Iran because no nuclear bombs exists in that country. But are the same lies as Bush made to us, Europeans and Westerns.

          The Russians have a theory. They believe that USA are disturbing the world on purposes to impose the American hegemony to others countries. And Americans are seeding wars through all the globe just to pretend they are defending the Democracy, the Freedom and Civil Rights but the Libya case doesn’t seem to be the case. USA are feeding ex-terrorists in Syria as they did in Libya. For us Europeans is very strange seeing this American behaviour and worst by an “progressive” President. What is going on in the USA? Nobody understands. Obama is worst than Bush and we know how bad he was.

          I wish you to understand that the world is getting sick of this. Some bad things are happening and we are seeing USA as one rogue state. Not only in some old places like the Middle East, Russia or China. But in Europe too. We are starting to look USA as some years ago we looked for Russia. A formidable militar power but without a good political system and very unstable for the World.

          We Europeans have been worried with our won problems and we didn’t have so much time to spot attentions and efforts to the “american problem”. Neither we are very sure what is going on in the USA. However never the USA seemed so bad as today. Never. Be careful Americans, you are loosing yours allies through the World. And Obama intentionally ignored Europeans and looked into Asia. Europeans were ignored even when they had hopes in your current President after the disastrous Bush and gave him a prize Nobel of the Peace. And now, this?

          We Europeans should start thinking to be independents of the American Militar Power and break up the OTAN. USA is not a reliable ally today. Today Obama looks Ieltsin in old days. Strange and unreliable. Why should we Europeans to hold an alliance with this rogue state?

          Be careful Americans. Enough is enough. Choose a good leader or you will regret in the future.

    1. mac

      Speak up and admit you folks voted Obama to prove to yourselves you were not prejudiced. Geraldine Ferraro was right!

      1. R Foreman

        People voted for Obama because they dared to hope, but they put their faith in a fraud.

        1. Joseph Browning

          This person voted Obama because, DEAR LORD, did you see what the other side was running!

          1. JerseyJeffersonian

            Well, this person looked with horror on both of the major party candidates, and voted for what I believed in. Green.

            No veal pen for me, thank you.

            But recall Yves’ point: the ballot is only one way to express oneself politically, and often enough with the way that the electoral system is gamed in the interests of the duopoly, not a very effective one. I’ll still vote my conscience, or at least as closely as I can given the options available. LOTE voting? Uh, no. Done with this. It’s a deadly trap that never – repeat, never – redounds to the benefit of the general citizenry. If you vote for the duopoly, there are no “shades of enthusiasm” or “reservations” discernible in your vote; it’s just a damn vote for one or the other of these conjoined entities. It will modify their behavior not a whit.

            Exemplifying your vision for the world in HOW you live your life is your most powerful political statement. It has the power to body forth your values, it has the ability to instruct the young and not so young, it can provide a counterpoise to conventional thinking.

            Some of this sentiment is expressed in the lyrics of the Pretender’s reggae-based song, “Waste Not Want Not”. (Listen to it if you can. It burns with zeal for the righteous, mindful way.)


            Take, take, take, takin’ what you don’t need
            You’ll get, get, gettin’ what you don’t need
            Stand back, take a look and take heed
            All the children in god’s kingdom bleed
            See the networks of concrete and steel
            They’ve no mystery but what they reveal
            Tells a story of a future that’s void
            Of the beauty and the majesty that life on
            Earth is meant to be

            Talk, talk, talk, talk about the government
            And not a word about political favor
            Everything touched is my political choice
            The life you take is your political voice
            The sacred cows come crashing to their knees
            Golden harvest reaped without intelligence
            There’s no chance between the heavens and the seas
            In a blood bath don’t laugh
            Grab your piece of golden calf

            Waste not want not pick it up
            Waste not want not pick it up
            Waste not want not pick it up
            Waste not want not

            Do unto others as you wish be done to you
            There’s a million lies ’round everything true
            You slaughter when you feast
            You disrespect the beast
            Make our beds and lie there, take your share

            Waste not want not pick it up
            Waste not want not pick it up
            Waste not want not pick it up
            Pick it up and eat it
            Waste not want not

          2. jonboinAR

            Same here, and I’m proud, I guess, to say I never believed that hopey changey bit. I just thought he appeared to be the most stable of the two candidates.

          3. nonclassical

            90 year old union insider whispers-not as important who votes, who votes for whom, as who counts votes…

          4. Guy Fawkes

            Yes, how horrifying to think that a Senator who engaged in the Keating 5 scandal could one day be President. Only in America, the America who no longer deals with scandals by sending people to PRISON. That Senator should have been voted out by the people of Arizona immediately after that scandal…’s hard to believe how duped or blind our voting public really is.

      2. CaitlinO

        In eight long, miserable years Bush managed to lose:

        2 towers
        4 jet planes
        2977 9/11 victims
        5568 coalition force members
        3 investment banks
        2 national commercial banks
        1 large insurer
        1 large California S&L
        $127B budget surplus

        And, oh yeah, 1 medium-sized, culturally unique Southern city.

        THAT’s why people voted for Obama.

        The only reason the current president, who has averaged nearly 9% unemployment and who has repeatedly betrayed a large, passionate segment of his base, has even the remotest shot at re-election is the searing memory of those eight catastrophic years.

        1. dirtbagger

          Totally agree with your Bush list. Sorry, but this post reads like a jilted lover. Obama was an unknown with a rather undistinguished and inconclusive legislative record, but the prospect of Palin in the oval office was just too awful to contemplate for many independent voters. Yes we wished for better government and hoped that Obama could begin to steer government policy in a better direction for all citizens of this country. Obama had the rare opportunity to do enact needed reforms, but he missed his chance and it will not come again.

          How much can one truly expect from the occupant of the oval office? Surrounded by Wall Street money, MIC, K Street, 535 congress members with competing programs, and the intoxicating effects of Presidential power. So what if the Republicans openly state their agenda in the living room while the Democrats(deceivers) say much the same quietly in the bath room? At the end of the day, the only thing that matters is the actual policy.

          I agree with the thesis of the post that Obama has done a poor job as President and does not deserve re-election. Pehaps Obama’s sin is greater than Bush’s, because from his actions, one can pretty much conclude that all of his principles are negotiable for political expediancy. Deceiver, politician, incompetent, whatever – all of presidents within my adult lifetime have not been highly principled. At least Obama has not sent me or my children a draft notice(yet).

      3. different clue

        I voted Obama to keep McCain out of office, and to keep Palin out of office after that. I don’t regret that vote for achieving that narrow aim.

        The Rs are not running a McCain-Palin ticket this time.

    2. Clonal Antibody

      If you are in California, then June 5th is your opportunity. California has gone for an open primary. The top two candidates regardless of party affiliation get into a runoff come Nov 6th. in June, anybody can get on the ballot with a relatively small effort.

      So come June 5th, vote with a vengeance for an alternative party — the most viable being the Green Party. For example, in my district we have Carol Brouillet running as the Green Candidate. She is well versed on money issues, having been involved with Zarlenga’s AMI, and with Ellen Brown’s group – she has met with Michael Hudson and Bill Black at AMI. She has also been active with the SF Bay Area occupiers.

      1. Jefferson

        Agreed. Her radio link for example, uses some weird non standard player that crashes everything. Keep it simple and more people will pay attention to you.

    3. JamesW

      Excellent points and speaking of theater, anyone else remember some time back Obama claiming he was creating an anti-fraud task force at either DOJ or Treasury?

      To date, no one has been able to uncover any evidence of its existence or creation — no personnel assigned to it, no telephone or cell numbers assigned, no nuthin’.

      The Hopeless Changeling strikes again!

      1. Michael G Marriam

        Tax revolt: sounds reasonable until you realize that the resulting national emergency would result in the application of a whole bevy of Executive Orders that effectively suspend the Constitution.

    4. Jefferson

      There is only one way that Americans can take back their country and that is a tax strike. That is, people just refuse to file income tax forms, whether they owe or not.

      1. chitown2020

        Property tax revolts will be the next phase. The result of rampant fraudclosures leads to unsustainable property taxes. Chris Whalen described foreclosure as a cancer in a Bloomberg interview.

    5. Todd

      I’m a big believer in third parties and think we should all push for them in local elections. On the National level there isn’t enough momentum for third party candidates and for better or worse it’s better to pick the one who most reflects your views.

      Otherwise we end up with the Nader effect. 2 descent candidates get beat out by a horrible one who has a solid base of voters. The republicans would love to have former Democrats vote for a third party. You never see the same level of push to change parties rallied in the Republican world. They will happily help finance third party candidates to help build their numbers.

      I wish Obama had been dogmatic and far more aggressive when he entered the White House but I have no desire to see the positive progress he has made dismantled by a new George Bush, support the wealthy and keep the wars going while bankrupting our country mentality. I lived through that once and learned a big lesson. I hope the rest of the voting world doesn’t have a selective memory. We are in a better place then we were in 2009 when Obama moved into the Whitehouse.

      So, support your independents and rally to make a difference on a local level. That is how you build a movement. Not throwing away a vote on a national level. At least in 2012 that is where we realistically stand.

  2. liberal

    I don’t think he was all that deceptive, at least in terms of ideology. All you had to do was look up his Americans for Democratic Action score while a US Senator, and you could see he was ideologically just about like Hillary.

    1. Eureka Springs

      How can you type “denial” with a straight face here? Obama isn’t GOP, he is definitive neoliberal Democrat to the core. Hell, the entire party didn’t even allow a feckless primary challenge for the sake of kabuki. There is no dispute, no debate allowed. Much less an sincere attempt to remove him from the position of party leader. If this doesn’t define the party, what does?

      I couldn’t agree more with your point that he wasn’t deceptive about it.

    2. alex

      Gotta agree ‘liberal’. Anybody who was terribly deceived or disappointed wasn’t looking at his past actions. And that’s the only thing that counts. I listen or watch politicians as little as possible, since I have no vote in the Academy Awards anyway. Occasionally I read (or skim) transcripts of what they say. I have no interest in their supposed character or personal history. Actions trump all else.

      And yet I voted for him. The Republicans these days make it so easy for Democrats to get elected. I think I miss Nixon.

    3. Fiver

      Nonsense. There was no question whatever as to what Obama intentionally projected as his persona, his character, his value set, his reason for seeking the Office – that he was a man who understood that the present system was failing, that the disparity of outcomes was no longer tolerable, and that he was intent on changing it, given the chance.

      The public believed he was going to remove the shit, not play with it.

  3. chitown2020

    People didn’t get when Obama said he believed in spreading our wealth around? That meant the theft and transfer of our wealth overseas by the FED. Chase and all of the FED banks are proxies for the theft and REDISTRIBUTION OF OUR WEALTH….they hijacked the Treasury long ago. All they give back to US is their debt and food stamps. Sheese, FEMA refused tornado victims downstate Illinois their own money to rebuild their homes. They don’t want recovery…they want fraudulently induced slaves. Like Max Keiser said, if the can’t fraudclose on us, they will probably gas US in our own homes. This is about CONTROL….if they cant control you they will try to kill you in many ways…Like making the cost of living unaffordable….Financial weapons of mass destruction first…….if you refuse to be made a renter they will find other ways to murder…like property and utility bill fraud…OVERCHARGING FOR EVERYTHING THAT WE FUND AND PAY FOR…ITS A GLOBAL SCAM BY THE MONEY CHANGERS OF BIBLICAL PROPORTIONS….

    1. chitown2020

      I almost forgot… the usury they collect….interest money from money they do not lend…usury fraud. They have more tools to drain every dime from US than imaginable. A CNBC commentator said this morning why the greed….the banks collect enough money from the interest in munis. That is the point it is not about the money…it is about control. The banks and the politicians have been the robber barons for the 1% all through history.

    2. Jon W

      You bring Max Keiser into a debate and you instantly fail. It’s akin to using Alex Jones to support a point, it invokes Scopie’s Law and your polemic loses merit.

  4. camper

    “It wasn’t simply that Obama was the first black president, ”

    Obama is the first GOP black president.

    “a mystery remains: why has his image remained largely immune to his performance?”

    people are loathe to admit their own mistakes. Denial ain’t just a river in Egypt.

    1. weinerdog43

      “a mystery remains: why has his image remained largely immune to his performance?”

      One possibility is that the attacks from the Right have been so relentless and over the top, the reaction has been, ‘Oh well, if he’s pissing off the Republics, he can’t be all bad.’

      1. Aquifer

        The irony is, if Obama is “pissing off” the Reps its not because he, like Clinton, isn’t carrying out their agenda, but because THEY aren’t getting credit for it from TPTB ….

        1. weinerdog43

          Ha ha. Too true. I’m still not voting for him this fall. I’ve long taken up Yves’ (& Glenn Greenwald’s) advice to watch what he does, not what he says.

    2. bluntobj

      There is no mystery. Most fans don’t want to question or criticize their team. “R” or “D” fandom is more important to identity for most people than their own thoughts or opinions.

      This means that for the sake of their team winning fans will suspend thought, judgment, and accept any consequences as long as they “win.”

      You can do anything to such people and get away with it; he has, and will do more. Ya’ll ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

  5. Deeper Reservations

    Our country has entered a period in which the types of deceptive techniques employed by Obama will be the norm. We are already seeing these mis-directions being emplyed at all levels of government and we can be certain they will be employed by whoever is elected president in 2012.

    1. Goin' South

      Yves has been evolving to the point of view that only direct action can accomplish anything. Electoral politics will never accomplish anything except for those who own the media and politicians.

      As the Wobblies have said for decades:

      Direct action gets satisfaction.

      1. Aquifer

        What “direct action”, sans ballots (or the viable threat of) or bullets, has gotten “satisfaction”?

        1. Goin' South

          Ever read Howard Zinn’s A People’s History? There’s nearly 700 pages of examples in there.

          1. Aquifer

            Yup, I’ve read it – and i still maintain that it is not until the minions of TPTB either lose, or are threatened with loss of, power that a damn thing is done to alleviate suffering. Unless of course you wish to argue that the direct actions succeeded in playing upon the “better angels of their (TPTB) nature” …

          2. Goin' South

            Your error is in mistaking some political office for power. Politicians are the paid agents not of the people but of the truly powerful. All this electioneering is merely a contest to decide who gets to serve the plutocrats and reap the bennies.

            All the now-threatened aspects of the “modern” work relationship–the 8-hour day, vacations, overtime pay, the right to organize–were won by direct action by militant unions before the National Labor Relations Act ever became law. The UAW organized the auto industry using direct action tactics like plant occupations, not winning NLRB elections. The Wagner Act served to tame labor, not empower it.

            You can read Zinn’s history and ignore the evidence if you like, but I’m with Emma Goldman:

            If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.

          3. Aquifer

            So, there was no need for the National Labor Relations Act? The unions did it all – what, one factory at a time, one industry at a time? Why bother with the law? And if elected officials only serve TPTB, how did the law get enacted? They certainly didn’t want it …

            My argument is not that elections are a magic wand and that is all we need to do, of course not. My argument is that elections are an important and underutilized arm, no leg, actually, in the process of making democracy work. And this current backlash against them that i see all over is, IMO, a big mistake. If you think we can have a direct democracy with 300+ million people or have to take to the streets, strike or riot every time we need to fix something, I would have to say that the first is unrealistic and the second is chaos or at least a real drag … Seems to me that is what elections are for, so we don’t have to spend all our time and energy in the streets …

            If our officials are owned by TPTB, still who elected those guys/gals in the first place? Have we done due diligence in choosing them? Reading this and other pieces indicates to me that i am not the only one who thinks we have not. Before we totally crap on “the system” because it doesn’t work, shouldn’t we at least pull out the instruction book and follow the directions? We haven’t done that for a long time ….

            If we cannot bring ourselves to take elections seriously – a relatively simple task in the great scheme of things, how can we possibly be up to the task of making the world anew?

            As far as elections being illegal – haven’t you noticed all the efforts at making voting more and more difficult, starting from just trying to get on a ballot? If TPTB didn’t recognize the potential elections had they wouldn’t spend so much time and money on obfuscating and blocking the process, they wouldn’t care who voted or who was voted for. They know very well what could be done with them, and they don’t want us to know ….

          4. Goin' South

            I suggest we judge all political parties by their flacks. And this thread makes it obvious that there’s not much difference between Dems, Repubs or Greens.

            All you lovers of political parties and politicians, why don’t you go all in and get behind the RCP and worship at the altar of Bob Avakian?

          5. Aquifer

            Sorry, don’t know what RCP or who Bob Avakian is, but doubt i would be inclined to “worship” there in any case as, being a bit of an iconoclast, i am not much into worshipping ..

            Gotta admit, being lumped in with D/R “flacks” I find a bit wounding, but from your perspective, as someone who apparently has no use for electoral politics, i suppose I see your point. As for there being no difference between D/R, Greens – am curious, could you explain the basis for that conclusion?

            As for being a “flack” for a party, i find that rather humorous, as i am an indy, registered with no party. I don’t much like parties, tend to agree with the FFs on that one. To me the fact that the Greens could be said to be “not much of a party”, in the sense that the D/Rs are, is, in my book, one of its recommending features …. It isn’t owned by corps, or really by anybody.

            The problem is, to get elected to anything, except in a pretty small place, you need a group or “party” to help and you need some kind of a platform that the members of the group can agree on so they all know what they are working for.

            So if I “stump” for Greens, it is not for the “party”, per se, but for the platform – and, in the case of Stein, for the candidate, who, IMO, is head and shoulders above the rest. I come to this out of passion for certain issues, e.g. single payer, ending the wars, etc. and i looked around for the folks I thought would be most likely to fight for these things in the places that had the power to enact them – Stein is a great fit and I have known other Greens.

            So GS, it’s clear you have no use for politics, but, just out of curiosity, are there things on the Green platform or with Stein you disagree with? Or is it that you think the only way to get them is outside of the ballot box? Do you think legislation is totally unnecessary for anything?

        2. Jefferson

          As said before, Americans refuse to file any income tax returns and all file new witholding statements claiming enough dependents to forestall any witholding first.

      2. Crazy Horse

        Hear hear: “If voting changed anything they’d make it illegal”

        In the age of Orwellian reality, elections are circuses conducted for the delusion of the participants. One party systems with two teams of players like we have in the US are much more effective than old fashioned dictatorships because they allow the subjects to take sides in a way that stirs their genetic memories of tribalism without affecting the structure of power in the slightest.

        “Change that we can believe in” will come to the USA when wave after wave of citizens march non-violently on the White House, willing to step over the bodies of their fellows mowed down by machine gun fire that Obama or Romney would order without hesitation.

        Or it will come when the most heavily armed citizenry in the world shoulders their weapons, unites with elements of the National Guard, police, and army and hangs criminals like Jamie Dimon from the lamp posts. (but more likely they will just hang black people and homosexuals in accord with tradition)

        Or most likely it will come later, to paraphrase T.S. Eliot, “not with a bang but with a whimper” as we march over the cliff of irreversible climate disaster.

      3. Ray Phenicie

        In a day gone by, when I supported the McGovern campaign, I would have been with you. Now . . . .?
        Let me reason by analogy since I know of no other way to get my point across.
        Say as a homeowner you notice water stains after heavy spring rains and many a foggy morning suddenly appearing on the finely plastered wall in your 250 year old historic gem of a house. You call a reputable contractor, they give an estimate to repair the ‘hole’ in the roof and rework the plaster. Done.
        Months later (November gales brought on a fresh rash of downpours) more water stains appear in a different part of the home (it is very large and some rooms are shut off while you vacation in the North country) and another contractor is called in. You and your spouse’s faces blanch when you are informed that the entire roof will have to be repaired; in addition, water that has been leaking into spaces between the walls has not been visible but various support beams have decayed to the point of needing to be replaced. To repair all of this, various walls will have to be pulled down so the workers can access the areas needing work.
        You agree because it is such a dear old house (cost estimate of $185,000 notwithstanding) and the work commences. While moving furniture out of some the rooms into unused areas, floor boards suddenly give way and the furniture and the floor go crashing to the level underneath. Further investigation shows an undetected infestation of carpenter ants (no gone) had utterly destroyed the integrity of over half of the floor boards in the house. The contractor issues an ultimatum at this point and stops all of the work, sends the workers home and asks for no payment even though small portions of the roof have supposedly been restored.
        Desperate for solace, as your love of the old house has now taken over all reason, you call another contractor, who, after assessing the damages says that about half of the house can be salvaged. You get a second opinion on this, and the assessor gives a thumbs down recommending instead that you move out immediately as the place is a death trap.
        I’ll just say this:
        Over at New Economic, L Randall Wray and others have said much the same thing as you and Yves say in this article. “If we all just . . . . ”
        Whatever we all should do to somehow replace the tired old framework that is not only molded away to sponge wood, but is covered over with ornate plaster work so as to be inaccessible for repair.
        Yes we could destroy the walls of the house and pull down the framework . . .
        Oh, but that’s the same as building a new structure.
        I’ll allow you to draw more analogies but for now please consider this and I beg of you to think deeply on what I have to say. I am in dead earnest.
        Our political structures of today are not the structures you refer to as described by Howard Zinn. Every political structure in this country is working in a zombie like state or is total control of the larger financial and business enterprises. Big Pharma set public policy on medical care. Big Paper and Timber sets public policy on how our forests and timberlands are to be handled. Big Oil and Big Utilities set policy (or lack of policy) on energy. Obviously, Big Finance determines that there will be no policy or a thieves only policy that banks and other financial entities will operate in. Big Political Parties set policy on how the whole agenda is set. Vote for a new House of representatives? Ha!
        Oh, news flash-that old house you love so much? The new contractor you hired so you could hang on to the far west wing? They just discovered all of the wiring in the house needs to be redone.

        1. Ray Phenicie

          After reading my rant for a second time I see I did not make the major point clear.
          We need to abandon our present society-move out
          We need to find a new location -maybe next door to the place from where we now stand – and start a new society. We need to start small.
          One thing the Puritan founders got right (despite tripping over their ideology from time to time) was that of not trying to move the whole of England to the New World.
          They did remove themselves from the rotting old house.

          1. Ray Phenicie

            It’s not a good idea to go around always mocking. Yes, Mars but I asked that you take me seriously. Please do this. I literally mean next door or in the town that you live in.
            Usually, I have found that those who mock do so because they are unable to formulate serious intellectual discussion on their own.

          2. jonboinAR

            Aquifer has a point. In your analogy you move out while the house is razed. What do you propose we do? What does “tear the whole thing down and start over” mean as regards our political system, our economy, our social web? Just what are you proposing literally?

          3. Whyawannaknow

            Mars? Why mess with a gravity well without the benefit of enough atmosphere to screen radiation. Go for the asteroids.

          4. Aquifer


            I wasn’t mocking, i was serious. There is no “next door” to go to anymore to “start over” on this planet, ala the Pilgrims, as in your example. This is it. Here we are. it is all around us.

            i was going to mention that such a one as Stephen Hawking is pushing for Mars exploration – for when we trash this planet. I disagree with him there – this is home, we live or die here. “Starting over” is not an option the way i see it, we have to work with what we have. We can do a lot – I don’t see us as living in a house that must be condemned; we may have to go down to the foundation, and live in the basement for awhile, if push comes to shove, but that is something …

            Yes, i do tend to mock, occasionally, but only when i see what i consider an absurdity – i did not consider your analogy absurd, in fact i thought it rather well laid out, i just disagree with your conclusion …

          5. Ray Phenicie

            I see people did misunderstand
            I’ll be blunt
            Give up any hope on this current society and government. Ever have food in your fridge that rotted? Did you try to recover the softened fruit and 20 days past the expiration day milk?
            No. You Threw IT out!
            The milk here is the government. It is 5000 days past the useful sell date.
            Work the rep and write the letter.
            Campaign and call in the contractor who wants you to salvage the house.
            When you’re done see what you will have./
            New report from the contractor
            The water pipes are in need of replacement, but you so dearly love the old house you will spend ten or 100 times the money and effort needed to build anew.
            Take over an apartment complex.
            Take over a school board.
            Take over the city council
            Take over the neighboring city council
            Then the the city next to that. Then the county next to that. When the majority of the counties are in your party’s hands take over the state.
            Start small and local, with the neighborhoods and move up
            Meanwhile, give up on that old house of reps that is rotten to the core. Move out.
            That’s building a new house.

    2. Chris

      Here, here, Yves for President

      Many here in Australia watched that famous speech. It was very emotional and that was intentional, you are less rational and discerning in that state.

    1. Valissa

      Yup! And what did we get for attempting to politely (speaking for myself I always attempt to be respectful when I disagree) point out to people, based on LOTS of evidence, what Obama was very likely to be like when elected? Being told we were racists, or other sorts of nasty name calling. It was my observation that those on the left who fell in love with Obama were incapable of thinking rationally, just like a friend who falls in love with some person you know is totally wrong for them, it’s better to shut up and be quiet about it. I figured it was because people were so angry and frustrated from the Bush years they desperately wanted to believe in some type of savior. After Obama was elected and showed his true colors many of my friends said that I was right, and I told them that I didn’t care about that at all (after all I expected Obama or any halfway charismatic Dem to win after the awful Bush years). What I was hoping they noticed was how they conned themselves, how they eagerly bought all the propaganda, and also that hopefully they learned they should treat people who disagree with them in good faith better (with out the name calling and other crap). But I’m not holding my breath on that. Unfortunately I lost a couple of friends over it, and other friends simply became more distant.

      1. Sunburn


        Listen, did we really have a choice in 2008?

        Let’s see? after 8 years of chimp Bush, we were given the choice of a curmudgeonly, old, bitter, cripple, short guy, right-wing, war mongering crank, along with his air head running mate…or

        Black Camelot?

        there was no choice, just like this current clown show.

        there is no choice. Obama will win. GOP doesnt have the math no matter what, even if they had the candidate, which they dont.

        I refer to Glen Ford who calls this charade as he sees it:

        Obama is and has always been elite power in ‘black face’.

        1. Carla

          Our only choice then was the same as it is now: act outside the republicrat system.

          Unfortunately, after 8 years of Clinton, 8 years of the Shrub, and 3 years of Obamney, tens of millions who have fallen from the middle class are just scratching in the dirt for survival. They are shell-shocked and numb.

          It’s hard not to think that was all part of the plan.

        2. Aquifer

          Ah, TPTB love it when they hear someone spout “TINA to the duopoly”, it is music to their ears ….

      2. Susan of Texas

        The whole thing is also distressing because of the authoritarian followership involved.

        Lambert is right; it is the authoritarian impulse, deeply ingrained in many of us from childhood, that comes to the surface when Obama is criticized. Obama is the left’s authority but, fatally, he also embodies the characteristic that liberals want to have–educated, sophisticated, successful, good family, and the ability to maintain ironic detachment and never show fear or self-consciousness, which we refer to as being cool.

        Rejecting Obama will take all this away from liberal authoritarian followers. They will lose power, which comes from supporting those in power and being part of the group in power. They will lose their sense of belonging to the liberal tribe, which gives people self-esteem, emotional reinforcement, and a sense of purpose. They will lose hope, trust and the alleviation of fear if they accept that Obama is not who they want him to be. And they will lose self-confidence and self-respect, because they made a very bad mistake out of bad judgement.

        If a conservative follower’s leader disappoints him he just gets another one because he job was to be obedient, not wise. That’s the job of authoritarian leaders. But if a liberal realizes he blindly followed authority he has no such consolation; his job was to learn and think and calmly make a rational choice. And he failed miserably at that task. There is too much at stake to expect a liberal to admit he is just another follower.

        Glenn Greenwald said of Andrew Sullivan:

        “[…I]t is wrong on every last level to relate to the President as a “father figure.” There was a time when I thought Sullivan’s serial blinding reverence for political leaders — Reagan and Thatcher, then Bush 43, now Obama — was the by-product of some sort of transferred British need to be subjects of a monarch. But I don’t think that theory explains much, since all kinds of native-born Americans do the same…. I was supportive of Obama’s marriage announcement because of the political benefits it would engender, not because it gave me some kind of personal validation that my father has finally accepted who I am. The President is not Our Father; he’s a politician who, like all people wielding political power, is in great need of constant critical scrutiny and checks. Relating to him as some kind of guiding paternalistic authority is, I’m sorry to say, really quite warped. But it’s far from uncommon, and that explains a lot.”

        The parent who demands unquestioning obedience in exhange for “love” and support raises the child who is driven to obey his parents and parent substitutes–gods, military leaders, political leaders, even cultural leaders.

        1. Doug Terpstra

          Profound psychological insight into the great mystery of desperate, tenacious support for a traitor and war criminal. I imagine the abused-spouse and Stockholm syndromes come into play here as well, but let’s not forget the big one, especially applicable the liberal elite of the veal pen, the Nation, MSNBC, pBS, nPR, etc.:

          “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” (Upton Sinclair)

          1. Susan of Texas

            Indeed, money is an enormously important part of the story. Reading Megan McArdle regularly has taught me to never underestimate the motivational power of money and all the fun and lovely things it buys. The DC libertarian pundit set might, like Jonah Goldberg, say that it’s all about ideology but he was paid a million dollars to write his latest book and that kind of payoff will buy a lot of pleasure.

      3. Lambert Strether

        What did we get? Well, the opportunity to create something new, I would say.

        I know about losing friends; the whole 2008 primaries were a lot like the Dreyfus affair in France. And one beneficial outcome is that I will never return to the Ds, not ever. They no doubt consider that beneficial as well, since by their actions that is the outcome they wished to achieve.

    2. jsmith

      And Marxists have been telling us for over a century that a capitialist system would inevitably end up where we’re at today, so what’s your point?

      That you win a gold “progressive” star?

      That you were smarter than the rest of the brainwashed Americans?

      If you want to be a vanguard for the left, then call of the dissolution of the capitalist system and quit wasting your time trying to vet inherently corrupt politicians in an inherently corrupt system.

      Sure, you were right but hasn’t Marx been “right” longer?

      Or don’t good “progressives” want to “go there”?

      Nah, let’s instead support another “progressive” capitalist who will change the system from within, right?

      1. Aquifer

        So Marx is the “messiah”, his message the Bible, and class war the legitimate “jihad”?

        Marxism and capitalism – 2 materialist philosophies. It’s all about the pie, the only question is the method for cutting it up …

        1. jsmith

          Right, but at this moment in history who seems to be holding the knife?

          I certainly isn’t the socialists, Aquifer.

          So, instead of frontally attacking their belief system we’re going to offer everyone a slightly modified version of the same system that will inevitably keep all of the powerful capitalists in control of society so that we can have these same debates every single time we – meaning the people – actually want to better their lives?


          You’re right at the turn of the 20th century it was the pressure of progressively minded capitalists that the capitalists really feared, I forgot.


          1. Aquifer

            See, that is the problem – you are stuck in that materialist philosophy box – in which the only choices are “capitalism” or “socialism”, as if there was no other way, and no, i am not talking about Clinton’s “3rd Way” crap.

            Actually i am thinking about the 21st century and beyond in which there are other paradigms besides “class war”. You seem to be stuck in the 19th ….

          2. jsmith

            Then please point me to the inaccuracies in Marx and his “outdated” class warfare theories.

            What is manifest today that makes Marx no longer applicable?

            Oh, that’s right, it’s because the elite have told us that he’s no longer applicable, right?

            Yeah, let’s throw Marx’s accurate and timely depictions of what happens to capitalist societies down the sh*tter and wait for someone, somewhere to think of the mysterious and ever elusive “3rd Way”.

            I mean, even though we could – right now, at this moment – utilize/adopt Marx’s writings to begin a movement against the capitalist superstructure, let’s reinvent the wheel, shall we?

            Why, what could be more logical?

          3. Aquifer

            See, you get stuck on “3rd way”, i had a suspicion you would, which is why i included that bit about Clinton … There are undoubtedly several ways, but we will never even get to think about them unless we get out of your “class” box.

            As for critique, hmmm, how about starting with definition of “class” …

            Where was the planet in Marx universe?

          4. jsmith

            Come on, you reject Marx’s theories on class yet then you want me to define class?

            So, you reject what you don’t know about?

            As for creating your whole new 3rd way or whatever it is you want to call it, fine.

            Are we going to have a convention or Skype meeting about it and then vote on each philosophical premise?

            That should only take the better part of the next century.

            Are we going to annoint someone, to be the fount of what we should think?

            Hmmmm, now how are we going to agree on THAT?

            Call me skeptical but I have a feeling your “3rd way” is going to look A LOT like what we have now with maybe some “scary” regulations thrown in to keep the oligarchs on chain, huh?

            How about instead of having us talk about something you consider so outdated as Marx, why don’t you regale me with your vision of the 21st century AND BEYOND!!!

            Just give me one plank of the Capitalism 2.0 platform.

          5. Aquifer

            Hey, you’re the expert on Marx and you can’t define what he/you mean by “class”? I eschewed the idea of “class war” as a defining motif, if for no other reason than the nebulousness of the concept of “class”. Before you can convince me we need or are in a “class war” you have to define your terms – first chore in any legitimate debate. I have had this discussion with others on other sites and “class” seems to be an “interesting” concept …

            As for Capitalism 2.0, you’ll have to look elsewhere for that plank, can’t help you there …

          6. jsmith

            Fine, let’s blow it out then, dude.

            Just so everyone can see that you’re not serious and not to be taken seriously, I’ll give you t this simple take on class from Wikipedia. Now tell us what’s wrong with this conception of class and class struggle?

            I’m not going to let you have the last word so it appears as if I shied away from your horsesh*t.

            “For Marx class is a combination of objective and subjective factors. Objectively, a class shares a common relationship to the means of production. Subjectively, the members will necessarily have some perception (“class consciousness”) of their similarity and common interest. Class consciousness is not simply an awareness of one’s own class interest but is also a set of shared views regarding how society should be organized legally, culturally, socially and politically. These class relations are reproduced through time.

            In Marxist theory, the class structure of the capitalist mode of production is characterized by the conflict between two main classes: the bourgeoisie, the capitalists who own the means of production, and the much larger proletariat (or ‘working class’) who must sell their own labour power (See also: wage labour). This is the fundamental economic structure of work and property (See also: wage labour), a state of inequality that is normalized and reproduced through cultural ideology.

            Marxists explain the history of “civilized” societies in terms of a war of classes between those who control production and those who produce the goods or services in society. In the Marxist view of capitalism, this is a conflict between capitalists (bourgeoisie) and wage-workers (the proletariat). For Marxists, class antagonism is rooted in the situation that control over social production necessarily entails control over the class which produces goods—in capitalism this is the exploitation of workers by the bourgeoisie.[10]

            Furthermore, “in countries where modern civilisation has become fully developed, a new class of petty bourgeois has been formed”.[11] “An industrial army of workmen, under the command of a capitalist, requires, like a real army, officers (managers) and sergeants (foremen, over-lookers) who, while the work is being done, command in the name of the capitalist”.[12]

            Marx himself argued that it was the goal of the proletariat itself to displace the capitalist system with socialism, changing the social relationships underpinning the class system and then developing into a future communist society in which: “..the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all.” (Communist Manifesto) This would mark the beginning of a classless society in which human needs rather than profit would be motive for production. In a society with democratic control and production for use, there would be no class, no state and no need for money.[13]”

          7. Aquifer

            ““For Marx class is a combination of objective and subjective factors. Objectively, a class shares a common relationship to the means of production. Subjectively, the members will necessarily have some perception (“class consciousness”) of their similarity and common interest.Class consciousness is not simply an awareness of one’s own class interest but is also a set of shared views regarding how society should be organized legally, culturally, socially and politically.”

            Well there you go – why not try asking the average, or not so average, person what “class” they are in and see what their “class consciousness” says about their “common interest”. How will they relate to the “classes” you have outlined? Seems to me your first chore is to to convince all to wear and identify with your “class” labels … Where does “middle class” fit in to this schema? You can define your “objective” factor all you like, but the subjective is equally important .. And what happens when, as i have found, there is dispute about which “class” one is in? When someone claims membership and others dispute it?

            “Marxists explain the history of “civilized” societies in terms of a war of classes between those who control production and those who produce the goods or services in society.”

            Well, when the “proletariat’s” pension fund owns stock in Wall street, and their retirement depends on how well that portfolio does, where does one’s interest lie? Why do you suppose folks bought the “gotta bail out the banks argument”? That is the perverse beauty of the current system, “class interests” have become entangled, at least perceptually, deliberately so, i would argue … that can change, of course, and i suspect you long for the good ole days of the 19th Century when it was clear who was who and what was what ..

            “This would mark the beginning of a classless society in which human needs rather than profit would be motive for production. In a society with democratic control and production for use, there would be no class, no state and no need for money.[13]“

            Shucks, that’s older than Marx – the early Christian communes operated on those principles …

            Sorry “dude”, but IMO, those “class” distinctions are dated – i have no quarrel with the idea that there is a “struggle” here and that it is tied up with concepts of power and control, but methinks that is a definition of the human condition and Marx analysis, as presented here by you and wiki, isn’t terribly useful now … You will have to impose, or “arouse” you might say, that “class consciousness” first before you can proceed with your Marxist solution. Frankly, I would rather go from where we are and work for that society “in which human needs rather than profit would be motive for production.” That’s what i have been arguing for for some time. I just don’t think we have to put on Marx’ straight jacket to get there ….

            Well, “horsesh*t” it may be, but it’s good fertilizer …. I can see why you don’t want me to be taken seriously – that would upset your philosophical applecart. But i’ll keep the horse that is producing the sh*t and you can have the applecart – ask Marx for a mule to pull it …

          8. jsmith

            Just as you think the majority of the proletariat in the US are actually getting a pension shows that you – like Occupy – are basically a bourgeios endeavor, something to allow the white suburbanites to blow off some steam and not to be taken seriously.

            You couldn’t have proven my point any better.

            Pension plans? Are you serious?

            So, this whole thing is about pension plans?

            Gee, and whose idea was the 401k, huh?

            Gee, it wouldn’t have been the captialists, eh?

            Finally, instead of really rebutting Marx you think we should return to some amorphouse amalgam of Christian values, y’know, like give peace a chance, all we need is love?

            Pathetic .

            TPTB are just quaking in their boots.

            No wonder you wait until I’m offline to post.

          9. Aquifer

            JS, you are a trip! You remind me of someone else i have “done battle with” on another site …

            As if i know when you are off-line! LOL, that one really cracks me up ….

            Never said what % of the “proletariat” I thought has a pension plan, or a 401K, for that matter – that wasn’t the point of the post and i think you know it …. If you asked folks if they considered themselves members of the “proletariat”, “bourgeoisie”, “petit bourgeoisie”, or “capitalist” class, how many would stare at you and not know what the hell you were talking about? Their “class consciousness” to the extent it is formed at all, would be formed on other lines …

            And you apparently agree with my point about entangling interests when you link 401kKs to “capitalists”, but part of the “proletariat”, at least, are contributing to them, n’est pas? So if you have a pension or a 401K does that disqualify you from being a member of the “proletariat”? And apparently “white suburbanites” are not members either, even though they may not have pensions …. By the time you exclude pension holders and white suburbanites and I am sure a number of other “groups” won’t make your cut, the size of the “prol” available for the “revolution” gets smaller. Though, as i said, as things get worse – more folks will get lumped in. That’s what you want, isn’t it? For folks to be so bad off that they will fit into your “class” cubbyholes ….

            My point was pretty clear – “class” distinctions that you talk about, to the extent they exist, don’t really look now like they did in Marx’ time. What are the requirements to be a “prol”? What little boxes do you have to check off? What little boxes disqualify you?

            I feel no need to “rebut” Marx – i have no quarrel with his analysis in his time, in his place. All i am suggesting is that his modern day interpreters, such as yourself, are a bit off the mark(x), and your rigid formulations, categories and prescriptions are not, IMO, optimal fits for our time.

            The amorphous amalgam of values you denigrate spring up again and again across time and space, including in your wiki description of where Marx apparently wanted to wind up …

            As for “quaking” in their boots, methinks TPTB aren’t losing any sleep over your formulation, either …

          10. jsmith

            WAAAAHHHH, socialism’s too hard says Aquifer!!

            Marx is just too complicated!!

            Dumb it down for the Millenials!!

            Grounding a movement in a coherent philosophy would take too much time and effort!!

            Jesus H. Lazy Christ!

            Gee, I wonder why no one knows about Marx’s writings in our day and age?

            Could it be that it’s been deemed just to “constricting” and “complex” by the “leftists” among us?

            Wow, that POV coincides nicely with that of the capitalists, huh, petit-doctor?

            Gee, I seem to recall socialist “teach-ins” being all the rage at the turn of the 20th century?

            Why shouldn’t we begin those again?

            Nah, let’s just glide along with our non-descript, non-demanding amorphous horsehit so when the time comes and the crisis reaches a crescendo we’re all left holding our dicks – sorry, ladies – in our hands not able to do anything because the entire protest movement has no basis, no goals, no philosophy, no answers.

            I mean, let’s say tomorrow Occupy was somehow magically able to command changes to be made.

            Can you tell me one definitive thing they would demand, Aquifer?

            Can you tell me one specific goal they would enact, Aquifer?

            No, you can’t.

            It’ll probably be something along the lines of strengthening Frank-Dodd, for chrissake.

            So, if it’s a case of who TPTB feel threatened by, I’m going with the philosophy that TPTB have consciously and overtly attempted to destroy for more than a hundred years rather than some namby-pamby holistic BS that doesn’t have the slightest concern for doing anything real.

            Yeah, we’re just going to all somehow magically figure out how to get along and together build a whole new smurf with a bright new smurf and lots of smurfs to smurf with.

        2. Chris Horton

          Marx was a passionately engaged social scientist, but above all he was a scientist. Like any modern scientist (which he was) he described and defined measurable aspects of the system he was studying, built a model of it – including a symbolic model that could be represented mathematically, and observed how that model would behave. Like any model of reality it was incomplete, subject to revision, subject to challenge or replacement by a better one. But despite a century of the defenders of capitalism trying to banish his economic model from public discourse and trying to prove him wrong by making their system depression-proof, it is undeniable that we have ended up where his model predicted.

          Does that make him a god? Was Einstein or Darwin a god? Were they failed gods because their theories didn’t predict everything?

          So now what? What other baggage do you want to pin on Marx so as not to look at his model seriously? His model doesn’t predict what socialism will look like, and he himself never attempted that. All he claimed is that the working people were acquiring the skills and knowledge to carry on without a propertied ruling class. Lenin attempted to predict what socialism would look like, because as a political leader he was faced with the necessity of painting a possible way forward, but in State and Revolution, profound as it was, he painted a future that was not to be in the lifetime of the people who made the Soviet revolution.

          As for revolution, Marx’s model only predicts massive meltdown with no way forward within the constraints of capitalist property relationships and accumulated claims. He himself was a historian, a careful student of past and contemporary revolutions, and a passionate revolutionary, but he had no answers for this one.

          And now here we are, already going over the falls with no certainty any of us will survive the plunge and without a map of the land beyond. Just a map of how we got here and who the players are – and our dreams and hopes and love for each other and for humankind.

          One thing is clear, monopoly financial capitalism has to go. Another is that the talent and knowledge to run the world without the help of the bankers and corporate super-rich is out here among the people, if we could get organized enough to claim it. In most of the world the working people are perhaps sufficiently organized and self-aware that if necessary they could take the leadership. In America we are clearly not. But time is up. Now what?

          Only one path remains – with your last dying breath get out there now and organize, organize, organize! Let go of all your excuses, your hunger for safety, comfort, certainty, peace. Let go of all preconceptions of who will be with or against us among the 99% or even the 99.9%. And let go of your preconceptions and packaged answers. This is all new for us. No moment like this has ever happened in North America, and perhaps not anywhere. Nor will it come again.

          This is the moment we’ve been expecting. Grab it or die. Or grab it and die. No guarantees except that inaction is doom.

          1. Aquifer


            I find your “defense” of Marx a bit more palatable than that of JS, in that you don’t seem as dogmatic about the “magic words” as (s)he does, and those are what my “quarrel”, to the extent i have one, is with. Basically it seems you are saying he came up with a mathematical model to describe the outcome of situations which have recurred for eons – what happens when a few people grab all the goodies and don’t leave enough for the rest – and institute a “system” whereby they get to persist in and perpetuate this set up.

            I am not putting “baggage” on Marx – methinks his “acolytes” are. But to the extent he attempted to “mathematize” his system, it seems to me he runs into all the potential problems that involves, as seen clearly in the current debate between “modern” economists, as critiqued on this site. And my critique is to point out that just maybe the terms of the “equation” have to change a bit – some things perhaps were left out of his model, like the planet as a fixed system, e.g. that need to be included – that his conception of “class” needs to be reconsidered, etc.

            As you say we are living in times we haven’t seen, or at least been aware of, before – and to limit ourselves to the strict dictates of an analysis, no matter how “brilliant” formulated 150 years ago in another place, limits our perceived available options enormously.

            I want to be able to pick the best from all ideas – not stick to any “ism” or limit myself to any Bible – I threw that post out to see what would return. JS’ and your response are 2 examples – yours is definitely more in tune with my thinking on the subject ….

          2. jsmith

            “As you say we are living in times we haven’t seen, or at least been aware of, before…”

            Allow me to comment on this theme.

            What makes you think that this time is any different?

            What is so very special and different about today’s elite oligarchic class holding sway over the rest of the 99.9% of a society?

            I’m sorry to burst your bubble but yes, it has happened before. Time and time and time and time and time again.

            So much so that this guy named Marx hypothesized it would ALWAYS happen given a certain kind of society.

            But now borrowing slogans from the tech sector we’re just all thinking differently now, all plugged into a smarter planet, a new world of possibility…

            You know why the socialists at the turn of the 20th century were successful?

            Because there was no television/media to pump stupid self-serving consumerist shite into everyone’s heads so that the workers forgot they were workers and being exploited and instead believed in the “specialness” of their time periods.

            Yeah, this time’s different, huh?

            At the top, I bet it looks about the same.

          3. Roland

            Aquifer, Marx’ description of class is not outdated. Since the Western world embraced neoliberalism, Marx is just looking smarter and smarter all the time. That’s not surprising, since after all Marx was one of the great classical Western political economists, and his work was mostly concerned with describing and explaining the history and political economy of liberal capitalism.

            The only thing that ever made Marx look possibly out-of-date were the post-WWII Welfare States. For few decades, in a few countries, it looked like it might be possible to have capitalism with permanent institutions to mitigate class warfare. But given the short-lived and anomalous nature of the so-called Western Welfare States, however, it’s not surprising that Marx devoted but a single page of the Manifesto to the question of what he dismissed as “bourgeois socialism.”

            It gives one a funny feeling when reading a preface written to a mid-20th century English edition of Marx, when one realizes that the academic criticism and commentary aged much more rapidly and much less gracefully than the classic work itself.

            The period of the World Wars and Cold War represented a parenthesis in the history of capitalism. Those protracted and costly conflicts delayed the capitalist penetration of most of the world. The wars also prevented the bourgeoisie in Western countries from fully exploiting and suppressing their own national proletariats. But with the end of the Cold War, the capitalists have become free of significant geopolitical restraint on their global ambitions. Therefore, they no longer feel any need to conciliate the working classes of the Western countries.

            Now the world is comfortably back onto a normal Marxist trajectory. We see the entire world opened up to capitalist “markets.” We see in every country the bourgeoisie as the dominant class. We see the small propertied and professional classes steadily pushed down into debt and eventual prolehood. Capitalism itself becomes less and less about industry and commerce, more and more about banking and finance. That’s our world, and it is much as Marx described.

            Moreover, if you suitably adapt Lenin’s pamphlet “Imperialism” for the existence of fiat currencies, his chapters on finance capital are not bad at all. The chapter discussing the social geography of a capitalist world featuring a global division of labour (largely based on Hobson) is simply uncanny, and doesn’t even need any adaptation to be applicable to contemporary conditions!

      2. chitown2020

        The dissolution of Free Market Capitalism is what they want. Capitalism is not the problem…it is the hijacking and monopolization of Capitalism caused by ponzi scheme socialism and taxation by the FED. Social engineering has allowed the Globalists to hijack and steal everything from US. Leninism, Marxism, Naziism, Socialism, Fascism, Communism, are all ways the Globalists use to gain slow, strategic complete CONTROL… always ends in Totalitarianism….a ditatorship and comes like a thief in the night to most. They want to make the masses believe they own you. The FED is all about robbery in order to control and make the masses believe lies. Most people cant even wrap their heads around the fact that banks are predators…..

      1. Sunburn

        I think I made my point.

        Obfuscating an obvious point because it hurts your personal sensibilities or your ego is not very productive.

        It’s choosing not to see.

        But let me respond by saying that I support well regulated capitalism.

        here is a great piece of writing on the rollback

        (In political science, rollback is the strategy of forcing change in the major policies of a state)

        of all that was won vs finance capital early on in the last century and how it was systematically dismantled.

        A great history.

        The Return of ‘Financialized’ Liberal Capitalism

        and a classic you all know

        Looting: The Economic Underworld of Bankruptcy for Profit by Akerlof & Romer

  6. BondsOfSteel

    What are we to do? The Powers That Be have locked up both political parties… as they did in Greece… but our system doesn’t allow for a Syriza.

    1. Sunburn

      the system doesn’t “allow” because people are still too invested in this rotten system.

      people are more worried about their FICO, icrap, government handouts (whether legitimate or by crook, whether at the household level or corporate), and live streaming the ‘whole world is watching’, than actually doing something, the course for action is clear.

      don’t bring your grande 2% crappaccino double half-caff with your baby on your shoulders to ‘protest’.

      you cant protest via check book. Mario Savio is rolling in his grave.

      you can either storm the barracks, or you can let the storm troopers Barack you.

      Forget ows, never forget wisconsin.

      1. tom allen

        At the presidential level, at least, there’s Jill Stein (Green Party) and Stewart Alexander (Socialist) on the left. Plenty of other choices if those don’t float your boat, but the Greens and the Socialists at least have some party structure. They could have more if the media blackout was lifted.

        1. Aquifer

          Tom, they could have even more if folks would stop falling for this TINA, “can’t win”, “spoiler” BS that TPTB have spent so much time and effort drumming into our brains. If i had a nickle for every time i have heard this crap, usually in “defense” of not “wasting your vote” for them, i could fund Stein’s campaign all the way to the WH, instead of waiting for my SS check each month to send a donation …

          (Hmm, maybe that’s why they want to gut SS :))

      2. BondsOfSteel

        Not really. Our winner take all system assures a binary choice, or that all other choices happen in the primaries.

        Do you really think the next president will not be a D or R?Heck Greens or Libertarians can’t even win congressional districts. These races are now even to expensive (by design) for other parties / non-billionaire independents to compete.

        The only practical thing that other parties can do is move the Overton window.

        1. Everythings Jake

          Third parties are far less likely to effect change from the top down, but they can have an effect from the bottom up – notably, by focusing on candidates for local elections (so it is important to focus on school boards, and city council seats, your local dogcatcher even if that is an elected position). That’s how the right wing put the machine in place that eventually brought GW Bush to power (with, of course, not inconsiderable help from the Supreme Court). But still, that is the same strategy a progressive left should employ to bend the Democratic party to its will.

  7. Kevin Egan

    This essay really catches our hellish dilemma–thank you, Yves.

    Occupy is our best hope, but it seems to be fading fast–and yes, Obama seems to have directed the crackdowns, as Dave Lindorff reports over on Counterpunch today.

    Apart from Occupy, though, I see two avenues of relief, because Obama’s racial identity is his magic talisman, and tribalism is the most powerful force in society:

    a) a Romney victory, which will allow us to see the enemy clearly again.

    b) the rise of a prophetic counter voice to Obama from the African-American community, one that is powerful enough to call him out and disgrace him utterly in the eyes of all his followers–because if he loses the black community, he’ll lose the rest almost instantly.

    Tavis Smiley, Cornel West, and Glen Ford, have been trying heroically, but this would take a figure as gigantic as Martin Luther King, Jr: imagine MLK saying to Obama, “You have betrayed everything that I gave my life for!”

    Where is that prophetic voice? “Would to God that all the Lord’s People were Prophets!” said Moses….

    1. Sunburn

      thank you for mentioning Glen Ford.

      I encourage everyone to please support Glen Ford, Bruce Dixon & Margaret Kimberley, over at Black Agenda Report.

      Needless to say, you don’t have to be ‘Black’…

    2. F. Beard

      I like Moses. And when I looked up your quote of him, (btw, thanks), I found this gem:

      So Moses said to the Lord, “Why have You been so hard on Your servant? And why have I not found favor in Your sight, that You have laid the burden of all this people on me? Was it I who conceived all this people? Was it I who brought them forth, that You should say to me, ‘Carry them in your bosom as a nurse carries a nursing infant, to the land which You swore to their fathers’? Where am I to get meat to give to all this people? For they weep before me, saying, ‘Give us meat that we may eat!’ I alone am not able to carry all this people, because it is too burdensome for me. So if You are going to deal thus with me, please kill me at once, if I have found favor in Your sight, and do not let me see my wretchedness.” Numbers 11:11-15 New American Standard Bible (NASB) [emphasis added]

  8. leafleaper

    One of the available responses is to ignore him and elect a decisively Progressive Congress.

    THAT is doable.

    Lets elect us a congress that will put him to the test and see if he will break cover and veto REAL Single Payer, REAL laws against usury, and REAL union organizing protections.

  9. ltr

    I agree completely, and thank you for such an incisive and brave essay. (I hope this posted.)

  10. Woodrow Wilson

    “select one of the two parties. It’s time we recognize that that myth no longer serves us.” –

    Another problem is getting Americans to actually vote. Not sure there’s an answer to what will motivate “The People” to vote in droves. If we could get a 65%-70% turnout, it would create an environment where candidates other than Democrat & Republicans would thrive.

    Until then, we’re stuck in a quagmire of theft, deceit and outright corruption. Or, until it gets bad enough, and we’re not close to that yet.

  11. EmilianoZ

    No, I can’t believe Obama is evil. Look at all the gray hairs he’s got since he became president! They’re the signs he cares for us.

    He had some hard decisions to make and making them took its toll on him. His gray hairs are the stigmata of the cross he bears for us.

  12. Roquentin

    The idea that a 3rd party has any legitimate chance of succeeding in the US is a joke, even a 3rd party that consisted of even purer neoliberal capitalist ideology of the Ron Paul sort. Let alone a left-wing 3rd party. This entire line of thought gives way too much credit to our electoral system. It isn’t so much broken as functioning exactly like those in power want it to, which means delegitimizing and excluding any views they don’t approve of. Even if a 3rd party were to arise, it would almost certainly be a “re-branding” of the existing ideology, the Democrats or Republicans under a different name.

    Therefore, I would still maintain that Obama is the best of the options currently on the table, knowing and accepting everything in the above article. Sure, that distinction is worth very little, but I wouldn’t argue otherwise. I’d rather have him in the White House than Romney, which is the only “decision” any of us are making about how this country is run.

    I agree completely with the call to attempt to enact political change outside of the ballot box. The only way our system will change is if the people force it to.

    1. chris

      Chris Hedges: “Colonized by Corporations”

      “Go ahead and vote this November. But don’t waste any more time or energy on the presidential election than it takes to get to your polling station and pull a lever for a third-party candidate—just enough to register your obstruction and defiance—and then get back out onto the street. That is where the question of real power is being decided.”

    2. Coldtype

      Your last paragraph betrays profound confusion on your part. If you accept the premiss that there is no alternative to Obummer and will support him in spite of his track record then why should he or the forces he represents take your objections seriously? This was precisely the logic Rahm Emanuel drew upon when he advised O’bomb to “ignore the progressives” (so called) as they “had no other place to go”. That’s only true if you choose to believe it…

      By giving the man your vote, thus a mandate, you share some complicity with the outcome.

    3. tom allen

      Will a third party succeed? It’s unlikely, though it has happened once or twice. And these are unlikely times.

      Will a third party influence policy? Hmmm. Try asking yourself that question.

    4. Aquifer

      Lord, a perfect example of “a third party can’t win, so i will vote for the ‘lessor evil'”

      Not only have you succumbed to the power of TPTB’s chief meme, but apparently you don’t subscribe to the gist of Yves post – Obama as the more effective evil, unless of course you like folks who are “effective” no matter what they are effective at …

      1. Roquetin

        I’m not making the “lesser of two evils” argument, even though there is plenty of merit to it. More than that, I’m certainly not saying I like the current setup. I find it just as repulsive as most of you. I am, however, in no way above realpolitik and find it naive to think that being principled, even if it means certain defeat and will accomplish nothing is the best option. The two-party system, regardless of how you feel about it, controls the political apparatus in the US from top to bottom.

        It’s time to stop pretending anyone else has a legitimate chance, especially at the national level. The non-major parties have trouble even electing someone to city council and to act as if they have the leverage to do anything on the national stage is foolish.

        Once again, I’m disputing none of the argument about Obama deception. I would only argue that Obama, as distasteful as it is to say so, is as good as it’s going to get in 2012. In a perfect world, somewhere that isn’t the current US, a different setup might be possible, but that isn’t where we are or what’s available.

        1. Aquifer

          Hmmm, so we have a system in which being principled isn’t the best option … And though you may not be “OK” with it, you are willing to go along because, as Cronkite would say, “that’s the way it is”

          Of course you realize that the reason we have this system is precisely because we have been willing to go along with it …

          You cannot achieve what you cannot conceive, and you obviously cannot conceive of a system in which being principled is a good option …

          Listen to yourself, listen to what you are saying – do you realize that you are mouthing the same “principle” that WS operates under …

          “A different setup might be possible” – so why not work for that set up ….

  13. arby

    Yves, great post. Innovative people must break the binary choice box. The only path to that is casting a vote but a vote that does not go to one of the binary choices. The fact of the vote – and hopefully – lots of non binary choice votes would create a market opportunity for another organization. If two choices are corrupt, none of the above at least is a vote for the rule of law.

  14. sunny129

    He is just another ‘two bit’ politician just like before him. interested in only two things:

    Get elected and get re-elected. In between promise like hell and collect funds!

    Political leaders and the process is CORRUPT to the core and subservient corporate interests!

  15. jsmith

    And the first thing people have to do is get angry.

    Recognize that the entire media superstructure has been put in place so that the populace never becomes angry at being stolen from and aiding/abetting in the murder of innocent people.

    Either you’re entertained or you’re engaged in a “debate”.

    Either way, you’re not as angry as you should be about people who are literally stealing your livelihood from you as they snuff out in cold blood the lives of people around the planet.

    I mean, why do you think they’ve militarized the police in the US?

    Because the elite KNOW that we should be angry.

    It’s just that they have underestimated the power/effectiveness of their propaganda system in subduing/brainwashing the populace.

    Yves, is right in recognizing Obama is a deceiver as they all are but let’s go further and ask some important questions:

    So, do we keep talking to deceivers?

    Should we debate deceivers?

    Should we listen to deceivers?

    Should we give deceivers any respect whatsoever?

    These are the questions the American people need to really answer.

    Once you realize someone is actively doing you harm, actively making your life harder, the very least you can do is not pay attention to them anymore or give them any more respect.

    It starts in everyone’s own mind, where it leads from there…

  16. Aquifer

    Powerful post ….

    But although i agree with “99%”, I have to take exception to what seems to me short shrifting of the electoral process – ala “isn’t primarily through the ballot box …. takes more guts and tenacity than showing up and voting, or giving money to preferred candidates.”

    I have had a long standing argument with someone on another site with someone who argues pretty much the same “Groups that have has a lasting impact on the social order – the Populists, the original Progressives, suffragettes, labor, blacks – organized outside the party system;” and says that electoral change brings up the rear and really isn’t all that important anyway. But what this argument fails to appreciate, IMO, is that in these cases it was VIABLE threats of political undoing that scared the powers that be into enacting into law the changes that were demanded. They all, i do believe, had political arms that were gaining ground, not being marginalized. Without a threat to the seat of power, there is no incentive for TPTB to change. As you say, power concedes nothing without a demand – but what is the lever through which that demand exercises its leverage? Petitions? Marches? Strikes? Bullets?

    Why do you suppose there was, still is, all that BS about Nader in ’00 – he presented a nascent threat and had to be nipped in the bud. If, instead of decreasing, his numbers had increased in ’04, ’08 you would be seeing a very different politics now. Why the insistence, to the point of it becoming “common knowledge”, that TINA to the duopoly, 3rd parties “can’t win” or are “spoilers”? These have been burned into our brains. Why? Because they are true? Hell no. Because these 3rd parties, especially from the left represent TPTB worst fears – pols they don’t own … They hate democracy and love it when the political process is denigrated – happy that folks think the duopoly, their duopoly, is all there is or could be, even if folks hate it. If it were “officially” a one party process, folks would openly rebel, but having “2” parties keeps the illusion alive …

    Folks have died all over this planet for the right to vote – some of those movements you mentioned were about gaining that right. If voting hasn’t been working out too well lately (at least the last several decades), is it because the system is inherently faulty or because of the way we have used it? It has the ability to be quite powerful as an agent of change if we use it for that purpose instead of treating it like a horse race or American Idol or whatever.

    Has voting failed us or have we failed voting? When you use an heirloom tapestry to mop up the bathroom floor, what do you expect?

    You say “when they were brought in the tent, they became less effective”. Any political tent or the duopoly’s tent?

    It is more important than ever, IMO, to support those parties of principle who are considered “marginal”, because they don’t have much money, by the MSM. Why don’t they have much money? Precisely because they refuse to be bought by TPTB who are the only ones that HAVE any money …

    I am glad you said “The public has been told, again and again, the only choice is to hold your nose and select one of the two parties. It’s time we recognize that that myth no longer serves us.” The problem is unless the public understands that there is a viable option to those parties, the only other conclusion they can come to after acceding to that sentiment is that there is no point in voting at all ….

    You can organize, march, petition, e-mail, phone all you want but unless TPTB feel a threat of losing their seat of power, it won’t amount to a fart in the wind, all the excitement not withstanding. The only real threats are the ballot or the bullet. I prefer the former ….

    1. jsmith

      “You can organize, march, petition, e-mail, phone all you want but unless TPTB feel a threat of losing their seat of power, it won’t amount to a fart in the wind, all the excitement not withstanding. The only real threats are the ballot or the bullet. I prefer the former ….”

      And you think those at the top of a capitalist system are going to be threatened in any way whatsoever by any capitalist candidate no matter how “progressive”?

      How about building a movement against the system itself?

      If you want to really threaten TPTB then you have to advocate for a system in which they will have no power.

      Public banks.

      Public utilities.

      Vast public services.

      Severe limits on the accumulations of wealth.

      You can’t think to threaten capitalist bastards with one of their own.

      1. Aquifer

        Straw man – who is arguing for a “capitalist” candidate?

        Just who is going to set up your “Public banks. Public utilities. Vast public services. Severe limits on the accumulations of wealth” and how?

        I love the – problem equation on one side, solution equation on the other with “and then a miracle happens” in between – “arguments” ….

        1. jsmith

          “Straw man – who is arguing for a “capitalist” candidate?”

          Umm, you are in constantly telling everyone to vote for the Jill Stein of the Green Party who is a capitalist.

          That’s who.

          Don’t worry, Aquifer, I get it.

          You’re one of those “we can change the system from within” kool-aid sippers.

          So, the difference between you and David Plouffe is what exactly?

          You gotta be in it to win it, right?

          Socialist goals are just to “pie in the sky” in our current political reality so they should be abandoned, huh?

          1. Aquifer

            So, can’t answer my question, huh? Instead have to resort to labeling Stein a “capitalist”, ptui, as if that were all that needed to be said instead of addressing the nuts and bolts.

            Sorry, don’t know who David Plouffe is, though i have heard the name.

            As for “socialist goals” you don’t get there by running around with a sign “Up with Socialism, down with Capitalism” which seems to be the gist of your “argument”.

            I have run into this type of slogan sans solution on a number of sites – always the same ….

            So who do you support, or are you one of those “fie on elections” folks?

          2. Aquifer

            Oh, yeah – Chomsky has endorsed Stein, but i guess he’s a “capitalist”, too, huh?

          3. jsmith

            Ooh, Noam Chomksy!!!

            You mean the Noam Chomsky who along with the “fightin’ progressive” Chris Hedges endorses the official story as concerns 9/11?

            That Noam Chomsky?

            Well, sh*t I’d better listen to what he says then, right?

            As for “getting there”, you really, really seem to expect change to be instituted in one election cycle.

            I mean, instead of trying to build a philosophical foundation on which to base a movement you’re STILL more concerned with the horse race.

            Wow, this time there are THREE horses!!! Smell the change!!

            You obviously don’t understand the difference between slogans and goals?

            Or is it that your reality has been so blindered by today’s elite that you can’t even conceive of having a goal that is not permissible in today’s system?

            Is that it?

            Why not bring attention to a movement that has as its platform the elimination of the very system that causes?


            Yes, yes, he’s not a serious candidate just like socialist goals aren’t serious and we all should be serious, right?

        2. jsmith

          Instead, why not support goals that go to the heart of the matter and directly threaten the system?

          Instead of asking for Congressional criminals to – please! – add amendments to some section of some law, why not begin a movement that actually advocates for societal changes that will have a lasting impact and which can’t be so easily rescinded by the next crony capitalist who’s in charge?

          Yes, it will take longer but it would be more worthwhile.

        3. Aquifer

          Aha, so you do have a candidate! Why didn’t you say so instead of just trashing a Green? Why not have them debate? There was a 3rd party debate not too long ago, didn’t see your candidate there …

          And you critique of Chomsky is that he isn’t a 9/11 Truther? Oh man, give me a break ….

          Is your guy a Truther?

          1. jsmith

            Yes, a big critique I have of Chomsky, Hedges and Cockburn is that they all completely, unabashedly and without question accept and endorse the official story of the events of 9/11.

            If these supposedly smart, “rebellious” progressives don’t have the balls/guts to stand up for what is right, then I don’t really give a sh*t as to what else they might say.

            I know, scary, huh?

            Not respecting people who have no respect for truth and reality, huh?

            As concerns Jerry White and the SEP, I don’t know if they actually have a position on the events of 9/11 but I do know that they at least understand that it is capitalism itself that lies at the root of most our present problems.

            And that is a lost closer to truth than what any of the other candidates are saying.

          2. Aquifer

            Well if “9/11 Truth” is your criteria for whom to respect and whom to reject, don’t you think you ought to pin your guy down on that one?

          3. jsmith

            Well, I tried to but I couldn’t find a definitive statement as to his beliefs on 9/11.

            Either way, at least he isn’t part of the establishment and he is advocating an end to the current system unlike Chomsky the MIT “anarchist” professor and Hedges the Princeton/Harvard/Nation “fighting progressive.”

            Gee, those guys aren’t part of the establishment at all, eh?

            You should have written, “Tee Hee” after your last comment as the maturity level you display in speaking to 9/11 shows that intellectually you are a child.

            Just as you think discussing 9/11 truth is really a hoot and silly, I can’t begin to think of what other issues you think are just a laugh riot.

            BTW, how do we know – what with your fixation on this election and candidates – that you’re not on the Romney campaign?

            I mean, you’ve been spamming people here for months to support the Greens with your vague ideas as to the 3rd way, etc, chastising those who want to not vote.

          4. Aquifer


            “at least he isn’t part of the establishment …”

            Wait, refresh my memory, where does your guy work again?

            “… shows that intellectually you are a child.”

            Aren’t we all supposed to become like little children to enter the kingdom?

            Who said discussing 9/11 was “silly” – not me. What i do think is a hoot is when people run out of argument and have to resort to insulting another’s intelligence …

            Well shucks, of course anyone who is “fixed” om elections ipso facto MUST be for Romney, n’est pas? How astute of you … (tee, hee)

            Oh those vague ideas of “third way” – you mean single payer, stopping our wars, green jobs, and all that silly stuff?

            So, you agree with not voting? Even for your guy?

            Look, JS, it seems rather clear to me that this is NOT going to to be a substantive discussion, it is getting rather silly and petulant on both our parts, and i am amazed that our “little” exchange” hasn’t been cut short before now. I have too much respect for NC to continue this further, so at the risk of looking as though i am “conceding”, which of course i am not – methinks this will be “it” for me, and besides, I’m getting hungry …

          5. jsmith

            Using the term “Truther” is derogatory and used to be denigrate the truth movement.

            But I’m sure you know that.

            As concerns the other issues let slide, well, I’ll let them slide too.

          6. Anon

            I’m a anonymous Truther. What’s wrong with that ? Wars based on lies aren’t new things. But 9/11 lies are so obvious if you just take 15 seconds to look at the WTC7 6.5 seconds collapse video. Chomsky, Krugman and all others american intellectuals have chosen silence. So yes, to me this is the test of the courage and intellectual honesty of any public figure, especially in America.

            Before 2005, the popularity of the truthers or the truth movement is low, you can make excuses that you haven’t seen this or that. Now when the internet is practically everywhere, and the fact that you can read this means you can type WTC7 in google search, and you don’t get this truth about 9/11 ?

    2. Amateur Socialist

      Please don’t cite Nader as a threat to anybody. I voted for him in 2000 and attended rallies for him. I believed him when he said that he would continue to work to build the green party after the presidential election develop a national presence and identity.

      After the election Ralph disappeared just like always until he wanted to try again in 2004 to much less ballyhoo. He didn’t lift a finger to elect a green city councilman much less build a national organization. Same ol same ol.

      1. Aquifer

        So you were one of those folks who dropped off the bandwagon in ’04, ’08 because “he” didn’t build the Green Party”? So did you vote Green in’04,’08 – are you working for Greens now?

        He HAS stumped for Green candidates – Hawkins in NY, e.g. but Nader, per se, was not the point of my post. Whether he was actually a threat or not, he was perceived to be by TPTB which is why the onslaught of the TINA, “can’t win”, “spoiler” memes that are still branded on 3rd party foreheads – you can see them in this thread, even.

        It is amazing how effective this labeling is in getting folks to dismiss 3rd parties – they don’t even check them out, let alone take them seriously, once they are labeled as “can’t win”. A brilliant, devastating piece of propaganda by TPTB – it is so under the radar that i am having a VERY hard time in getting folks to recognize how destructive it is ….

        1. Amateur Socialist

          Hey you’re the one who cited Mr. Nader by name. I just made a personal observation regarding his own rhetoric.

          FWIW I will not vote for or support Obama in 2012. The money I sent to candidates and parties in 2008 is all going to progressive bloggers and occupiers now. I personally subscribe to Chris Hedges formulation – vote against the bastards (and nothing else) then back to the streets.

    3. jonboinAR

      You said: “But what this argument fails to appreciate, IMO, is that in these cases it was VIABLE threats of political undoing that scared the powers that be into enacting into law the changes that were demanded. They all, i do believe, had political arms that were gaining ground, not being marginalized. Without a threat to the seat of power, there is no incentive for TPTB to change. As you say, power concedes nothing without a demand – but what is the lever through which that demand exercises its leverage? Petitions? Marches? Strikes? Bullets? “.

      That’s a powerful point. I think it’s probably true that historically a third party hasn’t needed to win, to “win”. Third party then is the way to go, then, except for the SCOTUS nominating dealy, which scares me back to voting for Obama (the non-Repub who CAN win).

      1. Aquifer


        With regard to the SC, a couple of things – first, unless at least one of the conservative judges leaves, it won’t matter anyway – the “liberal” judges are the ones most likely to leave or kick off. The conserv. ones are quite hale and hearty. Second, the laws and policies that Obama has passed and signed and will continue to, as this post has demonstrated, IMO, are more devastating than the SC decisions, for all the brouhaha. Citizens United. eg. can be abrogated with a Con. Amendment – a political decision which brings me to …

        The “can’t win” routine again – anybody who gets enough votes wins. Can Stein, e.g., get enough votes? Sure. Will she? That, my friend, will be up to us ….

        And you have accepted that the power of third parties does not lie completely in whether it “wins” a particular election. It’s power, short of winning, lies in its perceived threat to TPTB. And that perception is formed when TPTB see that the support for a party is growing – in every election, say, its votes increase. i used the Nader example because he ran 5 consecutive times – if his numbers had grown in ’04, ’08, ’12 instead of shrinking, even though he wouldn’t have won – you would see a very different politics today,

        So now the Dems look around, they see no threat, hence no incentive whatsoever to stop courting the 1%, where the money is. Though they hear lots of grinding and gnashing of teeth, yawn, yawn, been there, done that – they “know” the “f***ing retard” progressives will tuck in their tails and vote for them in Nov – because of all the TINA, “spoiler”, and yes, SC, stuff they tossed out there – they know this because that is what the “f***ing retards”, in spite of all the threats to do otherwise, have ALWAYS done before. Staying home doesn’t work, because the only messages it sends is “we are pouting”, it doesn’t tell them what we want, nay, demand, from them ..

        Nothing will change, except to grow worse, SC not withstanding, as long as we enable them – and we enable them by voting for them or more importantly by failing to vote for a 3rd party. The time for empty threats has passed, they are worthless and understandably considered toothless. We HAVE to mean it this time – the numbers must grow, large and fast – we are running out of time. Might that put a Rep in? Maybe, but SO WHAT – this post demonstrates the Dem is worse than what we could have even conceived of a Rep being not that long ago ..

        Things will be done with this guy that couldn’t be done by a Rep pres, e.g. gutting of SS, because the Dems will cave to their “leader” – even the most celebrated prog, Kucinich, caved when asked to do so by “dear leader” – and no amount of SC nominations will make up for that …

        There is a phrase Stein uses which i think says it all – we have been told to be silent, and we have out of fear, but our silence has brought us everything we were afraid of; it is time to stop the politics of silence and fear and practice the politics of courage. As FDR said, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself … Or, if you are a Dune fan, fear is the mindkiller …

  17. Andrew

    This essay goes too far. “He has repudiated or retraded every pledge he made” simply is not true. While it is true that Obama did not live up to our expectations, it is also true that the alternatives in 2008 and in 2012 would have been and would be MUCH worse.

    What lesson would be learned by the Left not supporting Obama in 2012 and him losing to Romney? What would we gain? How would the country or the Democratic Party be better off in the future? The fact that whoever wins in 2012 will probably nominate 3 justices to the SCOTUS should be cause enough for every liberal/progressive/lefty to strongly support Obama’s reelection.

    I wish Obama were the embodiment of our rose-colored image of FDR. The political reality is on domestic issues the POTUS just isn’t that powerful anymore. We have to have a strong legislative majority of progressives, not the slim margins of liberals and conservatives who called themselves Democrats. We have to both push the president and have his back. This essay is a perfect example of how we on the Left get huffy and refuse to play when we don’t get 100% of what we want.

    You want to get things done? Grow up! Face the reality of 21st century politics in America. And get to work supporting president Obama’s re-election and supporting progressives in Congress.

    1. Lambert Strether

      “Grow up!” Ya know, Yves is one of the more mature people I know. And infantilization is a very familiar tactic from Obama fans in 2008.

      Where Obama fans get the idea that insulting people they seemingly wish to work with their faction I don’t know, but they do it all the time.

      Good luck with Robama!

      1. Sunburn

        Andrew, decent try and thanks for all the solutions you suggested.

        But, the lesser of two evils is hardly a ‘choice’.

        My suggestion to you is to also grow up and to stop Watching MSNBC.

        1. Andrew

          When president Romney nominates three more Scalias to the supreme court, your pyrrhic victory of defeating the imperfect Obama will be complete. Oh what a service you will have done for the country.

          Mature people deal with reality and get things done. Others blog.

          1. Sunburn

            Andrew, stop the partisan fear mongering.

            we all know Romney is not getting elected and has absolutely no chance to get into the wh.

            That ought to be enough for you to stop insulting people and to sleep soundly at night.

            Try it.

          2. Lambert Strether

            Since we don’t have the rule of law — thanks in great part to Obama gradually providing retroactive immunity to the banksters for thousands of robosigning felonies during their destruction of the land title system under MERS — what does the Supreme Court matter?

          3. Goin' South

            You convinced me. Obviously the most important election in this sector of the galaxy since the Big Bang.

          4. Gerard Pierce

            And by the way, the current Roberts’ court will endure long enough to trash what ever part of our rights hasn’t already been trashed by executive order.

            And most of the current federal judiciary are either member of or were approved by the Federalist Society.

            If Romney gets elected, you can lose the rest of your rights by a 6-3 or 7-2 margin. BFD.

          5. JerryDemim

            Andrew, If you are a Obama campaign operative as I expect that you are, I would like to wish you a very deep and heartfelt F*%k you. If I am correct and you are involved with the campaign, can you tell me who I have to talk to in order to get a full refund of my Obama 2008 campaign donations? I think fraud is sufficient enough grounds.

            If you’re not, then my deepest condolences and I suggest you seek help for your affliction. All of your excuses, apologies and equivocations remind me of a battered wife protecting her abusive husband. Its sad, seek help. There is a political identity for you outside the confines of the two-party system. Its out there waiting for you, you just have to let go of your fear. Again, let go of your fear and accept the truth. If you don’t understand go back and read the post, slowly. You’re either part of the problem or part of the solution here, and the solution is not more support for proven frauds protecting the utterly corrupt and kleptocratic status quo.

    2. gregg

      Andrew, just what is it about Obama that is different from a third term of Bush?

      My life ain’t different — I pay taxes at 41% state, fed and fica. Barry paid 22% and Mitten 13.9%. All the wars continue and some new ones have been started. The health industry has been saved from collapse with “the mandate”.

      People that think we are somehow better off with Barry-O practice delusion of the worst kind.

      Time to vote third parties…

    3. up to 2.03% less suckage

      Two thumbs up! Andrew’s a parody. He’s got the blabby condescending lameness of the Dem hack down pat.

      You know it’s a joke when they trot out the last-ditch Dem argument: the most desperate Dem hacks are always trying to make us give a rat’s ass about the Supreme Court, like if they shit on the rule of law 6-4 every time, it’s somehow vastly more terrible than shitting on it 5-4 every time. Screw the Justices, just end-run them with a genuine NHRI instead of this phony Potemkin one you’ve got. But party hacks can’t begin to comprehend that.

      First of all we gonna let you suckas lose. You perfidious Dems are gonna pay.

      1. jonboinAR

        I don’t know. That SCOTUS nominating issue coming up is the one that always gets me thinking that I HAVE to vote for Obama.

    4. Aquifer

      “We have to have a strong legislative majority of progressives,”

      Hmm, and where do you suppose we will get those? From the rest of that statement, it seems you don’t think they will come from the Dems. So if no 3rd party and only crummy Dems/Reps in Congress, your reason for voting Obama is not that you think he can useful get anything done, or will even try, for that matter, but because of the SC?

      LOL, we usually don’t hear that last ditch stand until farther along in the process and only when it is clear to all, even his supporters that the Dem candidate really isn’t worth spit as far as positions/policies are concerned. So, OK, for the sake of argument, which of the conservative majority justices do you think he will have a chance to replace, and if none, how will we wind up with other than a conservative majority in 4 years in any case?

      As far as alternatives in ’08 and ’12, you think Nader, e.g. would have been MUCH worse?

    5. Fiver

      “This essay is a perfect example of how we on the Left get huffy and refuse to play when we don’t get 100% of what we want.”

      That’s an absolute riot. And just what % of what the public wanted did the public get? Would you care to toss out a number?

    6. Ben Shaw

      This article is correct. Obama is the more effective of two evils. But, there is another choice, which hasn’t been mentioned. Rocky Anderson, who has walked the Progressive Walk his entire career, is now seeking the Presidency as the nominee of the new Justice Party. Check out his Website at His speech to supporters in Seattle, offers the best insight into his character and his vision for this country and the world. See it here:

    7. T. H. Endgame

      Andrew has it right. I am a very liberal democrat, and this article not only goes too far, it misses the mark entirely. But reading the comments section is what really makes my jaw drop. Pointing out that a view is immature or ignorant is not an ad hominem criticism of the holder of the view, and therefore the admonition to grow up is not an attack on the person. Andrew’s detractors should get used to being told that much of what they are saying is ignorant, because it is, and in my opinion the igorance displayed on this page is vast. It’s why Occupy has dwindled to a few bands of a few dozen misled people that nobody pays attention to anymore.

      1. archer

        Let me get this straight….

        Andrew (who I guarantee is decades younger than Yves) calls her immature, not once, but a second time after readers call him out on it. And you get annoyed that readers took offense?

        In case you missed it, and it looks like you did, many of the comments did make substantive responses. By contrast, all you do is say you don’t agree with the reading without offering backup and engage in your own ad hominem. If this is all Obama defenders can offer, it’s not persuasive.

  18. Leonor Fontes

    The truth hurts. I totally agree with this article. Obama is the great betrayer.

  19. Cletus

    Obama is a Conservative in Progressive clothing.

    Won’t vote for him again — even if it means wasting a vote on a third-party candidate, or getting really pissed and pulling the handle for Romney (and I have never voted Republican before) as a protest vote.

    I’ll probably write-in some petty criminal from the local paper.

    The Democrats are hardly different than the Republicans, at this point. The Republicans have a lock on hypocrisy and are slightly slimier, while the Democrats are cowards and smell a little worse.

    If the destination is political limbo, does it really matter who is driving?

    1. weinerdog43

      “The Democrats are hardly different than the Republicans, at this point.”

      Heck, I’ve got a better slogan than ‘Forward’….
      “Vote Obama, now 14% less sucky than Mitt.”

      The point I’m remembering now is that he’s still 86% suck.

    2. JerryDemim

      “wasting a vote on a third-party candidate”

      Only way to register dissent, unless Aquifer’s second option appeals to you more.

        1. Aquifer

          I used to be a Kucinich fan – worked for him in ’08 and was supporting him in ’12 – voted for him in the NY primary even after he had dropped out. But then came Obamacare and AF 1 ….

          When he “got on board” and abandoned one of his signature issues, “for the sake of the Party”, as even he put it, it hit me right between the eyes – there was no point in supporting Dems, any Dems, no matter how “prog” they were – when they would choose party over principle if the squeeze was put on ..

          If they wear a D or an R on their sleeve – they are beholden to corp parties for their political sustenance – compromised from the get go …

  20. Doug Terpstra

    This is a definitive indictment of Obama without hyperbole. I (almost) feel some sympathy for him, because when his legacy is clearly framed in the rear-view mirror, in the context of so many convergent calamities—military, economic, and ecological—his name will be mud. And no matter how much he enriches himself, it won’t be worth it. My sincere hope is that he will have ample time to repent in a prison cell.

    Your post is especially welcome, Yves, in reminding us not to succumb to cynicism and defeat.

  21. Fusion Center

    US Treasury Department gets firmly behind ‘Muricas Bank:
    Matt Zames new CIO.

    1. chitown2020

      The Globalists via the FED have hijacked the U.S. TREASURY DEPT…This is the biggest financial coup de tat of our wealth in history. The FED is cleaning us out and transferring our wealth overseas. The FEDCORP. is bankrupting US and turning America into an indentured debt slavedom.

  22. Habeas Debtor

    I’m going with Chris Hedges on this one. NDAA is a clear sign of dangerous paranoia, and it is entirely “all about the money” for whatever alleged progressive group is out there.
    The truth is the first casuality in politics, Obama is no greater liar than any of the previous administrations.

    1. chitown2020

      It is all about CONTROL….when you are robbed of everything you become weak and willing to accept their NWO dictatorship. Like socialized healthcare, a nation of renters, the Vatican gold backed dollar and a World Tax….All fraudulent fixes for the depression the NWO Globalists created. They accomplished some of their evil plans through freemason F.D.R and WWII…..THEY USE MANUFACTURED WAR AND TYRANNY TO SNEAK IN TYRANNY AND OPPRESSION…We are now witnessing their microchip mark of the beast evil end game plan. REJECT ALL FIXES FOR FRAUD…ABOLISH THE NWO….ABOLISH THE FED. The U.S. CONSTITUTION GIVES NO LEGAL POWER TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT…We were hoodwinked by traitors from within. As J.F.K. said in his speech about Secret Societies….our enemies are both foreign and domestic. Their plan is written in the WORLD CONSTITUTION …they are instituting this plan by THE PATRIOT ACT, THE HEALTHCARE PLAN, THE NDAA, SOPA, PIPA AND AGENDA 21…GOOGLE IT AND READ THESE DOCS….IT IS GLOBALIST TYRANNY.

      1. chitown2020

        Oops…I meant to say they use manufactured war and manufactured crises to sneak in tyranny and oppression. They fear monger lies and brainwash.

      2. chitown2021

        Paranoid conspiracy theorists believe the Illuminati cabal still exists, either in its original form or as a paradigm for later cabals. Many PCTs believe that large banking families have been orchestrating various political revolutions and machinations throughout Europe and America since the late eighteenth century, with the ultimate aim of bringing about a satanic New World Order.” Lucifer, the Devil, Hugh Heffner. WAKE THE MASSES!

        1. chitown2020

          Oh its all true and it is hidden in plain sight…beware the liars and deceivers that spread lies as truth…Pleased to meet you…hope you guess my name…but what’s puzzling you is the nature of my game….the name of the game is CONTROL..They want to make you “think” they own you…..they don’t…their game is what they can make US we owe them any money…..HA…Its quite the opposite.

  23. Amateur Socialist

    A very fine piece of writing thank you Yves. I wish I could get some of my “BECAUSE ROMNEY WILL BE WORSE! SHUT UP SHUT UP SHUT UP!!!” democrat friends to read it with an open mind

    This may be one of Obama’s most tragic legacies – the creation of a potential sustained rift between progressives and moderates in the democratic party. With the democrats divided on occupy and the GOP vexed by tea parties inc. it may turn out to be a long couple decades ahead….

    1. alex

      “progressives and moderates in the democratic party”

      Should read: moderates and reactionaries in the democratic party

  24. Habeas Debtor

    “Those times of heady promise are now a cruel memory.”
    Times of “heady promise” was generated by the Ministry of Propaganda – he got the most funding from Defense and Wall Street, yet the masses believed in hope and change? We have no free press.

  25. Solar Hero

    It’s not about third parties, it is about de-legitimizing the current duopoly, not hard to do because about 50% of the electorate doesn’t vote already. The Soviet Union fell partly because the political leadership was delegitimated by the intellectuals and voices of conscience within the U.S.S.R…we have a long way to go but Yves thanks for starting it!

  26. Sports

    Let’s get the post count over 300! Obama this, Obama that – congressman and senators who keep getting re-elected for life.

  27. Gil Gamesh

    One may never know, but if Obama were consciously trying to ruin the United States, he couldn’t be more effective than he is…at ruining the United States. Bear with me.

    Consider Obama the revolutionary, consumed with hatred for our deeply racist, classist, militarist society, ruled by the cruelest of rapacious, amoral sociopaths. Every black man, person of color, minority, Muslim, indeed, even white men consigned to selling their labor, feel the awful, soul crushing, dehumanizing weight of the American “Project”. Most relent and accept, many go mad, many more narcotize themselves, many are imprisoned. Some, a few, vow to do something, to get back, to get even, to get the Man, to bring down the system. But our society has proved to be incapable of revolutionary change.

    Maybe Obama is the angriest black man ever, but his soul is on ice. His genius was to figure out that Business As Usual is the best, quickest, and surest way to cause the collapse of this capitalist, open prison. Yes, I know, ascribing base motive is the safer bet, Me. Ockham. But, sometimes, the revolutionary act escapes us,until after the fact.

    1. ohmyheck

      Or you could put this theory in the category of “11th-Dimensional Chess” explanation.

      1. JurisV

        You just made me spew my beer into the monitor and lapping it up is not an option!

        This slogan has to be spread: “The More Effective Evil” not “The Lesser Evil” in referring to the duopoly non-choice. Thank you Glen Ford…

    2. scraping_by

      Tom Tomorrow did a couple of panels on the speculation that Shrub and his cronies were hippie antiestablishmentarians who cleaned up to bring down the Republican Party. And then Barrington Obama and his crew talked progressive to sabotage the Dems. Then they put This Modern World on Daily Kos, and I couldn’t see giving them the clicks.

  28. Andalf

    President Dimon told us things are looking up, starting to turn around, on the up and up. Sit back, relax, poverty and hunger are states of mind.

  29. Lambert Strether

    “your passivity made you part of something greater and was tantamount to supporting change”

    The “stand with” locution so prevalent in career “progressive” fund-raising operations (and, really, what other kind of operation do they run?) captures the passive ethos perfectly. All you have to do is “stand,” by signing a (commission-based and resold) online petition, “Liking” a Facebook page, adding your name to a (commission-based and resold) email list, or even by sending, oh, $3.00.

    It’s the “strength of weak ties,” alright — as a form of mindf***ing.

  30. briansays

    white liberal guilt played a large role in the earlier electoral successes
    the desire to believe
    serving to atone for historical stain of race on the country
    you could be played
    and he knew it

  31. TK421

    Time to beat a dead horse again: how can anyone call Obama “the lesser of two evils” when he has done things far worse than any Republican has ever proposed? For instance, Obama thinks he can have anyone killed, for any reason or no reason, even an American. Does Mitt Romney think this? (this does not mean I will vote for Romney) In fact, I submit that this position of Obama’s is so bad that it can not possibly be made worse; the worst another president can do is equal it.

    1. weinerdog43

      Is this the line of argument from ‘The Princess Bride’? Not sure if I want to try to match wits with a Sicilian.

  32. Stratos

    “… these gains were not granted freely or easily by those in authority. They came about as a result of long, persistent, difficult campaigns. If we want to preserve the rights previous generations fought hard to win, we have to make this battle our own.” Thank you, Yves!

    Perhaps the most effective way to take on One Percenters is to systematically dismantle their pillars of support. One successful campaign was described on News Dissector Radio ( One of the guests warned that prison was a likely outcome for effectiveness.

    A prime non-violent method is the use of boycotts and divestment. One of the most successful boycotts in American history was the Chinese Boycott of 1905 ( The author, Yunqiu Zhang, notes “The boycott of 1905 did not reverse the U.S. immigration policy toward Chinese nationals, and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 remained in effect until 1943.” The Boycott was highly successful in shutting down the regime of state, mob and individual violence against Chinese immigrants in the US.

    Even to this day, 107 years later, Chinese and other North East Asian communities in the US are free of anti-Asian media incitement to violence, private citizen mob violence and police harrassment. That is in stark contrast to the treatment of the African-American community in 2012.

  33. JC

    Yves, you are the Alice Amsden of the finance world. Your bravery and conviction makes me glad there are still people like you around.

  34. Bam_Man

    Obama has embraced deficit hawkery

    While running Trillion Dollar Plus budget deficits every year in office.

    Quite a feat!

  35. René

    Lowkey – Obama Nation Part 2 Lyrics

    I don’t, I don’t want no, Obama, Obama nation (abomination)
    I’m not gonna, vote for your inauguration
    Cause I don’t need your, Obama, Obama nation (abomination)
    I’m not gonna

    Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
    Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit

    After you divorce yourself from the right wing
    Propaganda campaign, it’s all simple and plain
    America customed the game
    Your president got an African name, now who you gone blame?
    When they drop them bombs out of them planes
    Using depleted uranium, babies looking like two headed aliens
    Follow the money trail it leads to the criminal
    Ain’t nothing subliminal to it, that’s how they do it
    See they game they run, give a f-ck if he’s cunning
    Articulate and handsome, Afghanistan held for ransom
    By the hand of this black man, neo-colonial puppet
    White power with a black face, he said f-ck it i’ll do it
    A master of disguise, expert at telling lies
    Then they gave him a Nobel Peace Price
    Should of known he was trained in Chicago
    Word to Chairmen Fred and Mark Clark
    What they do in the dark will come out in the light
    Like a wiki leaks site
    So I guess Nkrumah was right, who’s ready to fight?
    Last stage of imperialism, I ain’t kiddin
    In the immortal words of Marvin Gaye ‘This ain’t living’

    Obama, Obama nation (abomination)
    I’m not gonna, vote for your inauguration
    Cause I don’t need your, Obama, Obama nation (abomination)
    I’m not gonna

    Limbaugh is a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
    Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit

    You ain’t fooling everyone I see the games you play
    You was V.I.P. at the B.I.C
    And we know that’s code name for C.I.A
    The same way your cameras are watching us we’re watching you
    Think we’re easy to control you ain’t got a clue
    Revolutions on the way, let’s see what your gonna do
    You gonna send the troops? You gonna drop the nukes?
    See it’s not where you’re from it’s where you’re at
    He’s sitting in the White House so who cares if he’s black
    And why’s there soldiers still out there in Iraq?
    Natural resources ain’t yours, its theirs give it back!
    You’re just another puppet but i’m not surprised
    Look at Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice
    They didn’t change shit, house nigga’s fresh off the slave ship
    You’ll all burn in hell even Michelle, Obama Nation

    I don’t, I don’t want no, Obama, Obama nation (abomination)
    I’m not gonna, vote for your inauguration
    Cause I don’t need your, Obama, Obama nation (abomination)
    I’m not gonna

    Limbaugh was a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
    Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit

    Was the bigger threat from Osama or from Obama?
    Military bases from Chagos to Okinawa
    I say things that other rappers won’t say
    Cause my mind never closed like Guantanamo Bay
    Hope you didn’t build a statue or tattoo your arm
    Cause the drones are still flying over Pashtunistan
    Did he defend the war? No! He extended more
    He even had the time to attempt a coup in Ecuador
    Morales and Chavez, the state’s are on a hunt for ya
    Military now stationed on bases in Columbia
    Take a trip to the past and tell em I was right
    Ask Ali Abunimah or Jeremiah Wright
    Drones over Pakistan, Yemen and Libya
    Is Obama the bomber getting ready for Syria?
    First black president, the masses were hungry
    But the same president just bombed an african country

    I don’t, I don’t want no, Obama, Obama nation (abomination)
    I’m not gonna, vote for your inauguration
    Cause I don’t need your, Obama, Obama nation (abomination)
    I’m not gonna

    Limbaugh was a racist, Glenn Beck is a racist
    Gaza strip was getting bombed, Obama didn’t say shit

    1. chitown2020

      The NWO is fomenting WWIII. Obama is a scapegoat. I did not vote for him but no President can go this alone. He is in a den of vipers. I am not saying he isn’t a Globalist…he said he was..remember..He believes in spreading the wealth around. Both parties have a NWO Globalist agenda..This ideology has infiltrated and has hijacked both parties….it flies in the face of freedom and is Unconstitutional and therefore illegal….GLOBALISM is their BIG IDEA…it enables robbery and transfer of wealth to other countries…It suffocates freedom and robs and oppresses the people. Globalism begins with social engineering and leads to communist oppression and ends with a Totalitarian Dictatorship. It is about control. The Globalists are CONTROL FREAKS….THEY WANT TO OWN YOU…

    2. ohmyheck

      Thanks, Rene! I love this! It actually gives me hope, that it isn’t just a few wonky bloggers on the ‘net who get what is going on. Maybe Jill Stein should use that song in campaign add…

  36. Tim

    It’s a bit suprising as a person that tends to vote more to the right, to see those on the left who tend to be more disposed towards protest as not seeing the obvious opportinity to protest the election as a voting for a 3rd party or write in candidate.

    What if 99% of americans voted and the winner of the presidential election only got 17% of the total vote? That would be a statement! Only once the Rep. Dem other vote has other as the majority will a true opportunity for a third party emerge.

    1. Stratos

      Written like a true constitutional conservative…and progressive me agrees with your assessment.

    2. StealthBadger

      The only chance to break the two-party duopoly will come from within one of the two parties that sees it as no longer to its advantage (either that, or a constitutional crisis that can’t be swept under the rug).

      About the only thing we can do is attempt to subvert the Democratic party internally (crazy people have dibs on subverting the GOP, and have for decades, but their model for doing it has been instructive) and use it as a lever to break the duopoly open. In fact, with the GOP gone wild, now may be a very good time to be working on it.

      One thing is for certain, uncritically cheering on any politician is NOT a recipe for change.

    3. CaitlinO

      A 99% turnout with 17% of votes for the ‘winner’ is as close to a no-confidence measure as we can get in our political system. I think 3rd party or write-in are the only ways to go.

      Ultimately, though, for me it comes down to the fact that I simply couldn’t live with myself and with the future consequences for our country if I help out either Romney or Obama into office.

    4. Fiver

      It would indeed be a statement, but I rather expect the next thing to happen would be a declaration of a state of emergency.

  37. gozounlimited

    Truth be known …. Obama turned everything over to the Clintons (agenda) … no surprises here. The question is did Obama obfuscate due to incompetence…or was he a front all along?

  38. Jim in MN

    In the night he’s a star in the Milky Way
    He’s a man of the world by the light of day
    A golden smile and a proposition
    And the breath of God smells of sweet sedition

    Great Deceiver

    Sing hymns make love get high fall dead
    He’ll bring his perfume to your bed
    He’ll charm your life ’til the cold winds blow
    Then he’ll sell your dreams to a picture show

    –King Crimson, The Great Deceiver

  39. Norcal_Steve

    Great Post Yves!

    It seems very clear now that stupidity and cognitive dissidence is not limited to those on the right. Plus, to those who view Obama with eyes wide open, what is left to believe in? Where can the US head except to worse and worse places and things are already so bad I shudder to try to imagine what it’s going to look like as we go further down the road? I can’t imagine how we’d ever get anyplace better now without things getting really, really bad first. Honestly that’s just too depressing and makes me not to want to even think about the future.

  40. Lambert Strether

    Using the Archdruid’s formulation, the pro-gay marriage faction turned themselves into a veto group, as opposed to being a captive constituency.

    What career “progressives” and Obama Fans are all about is preventing that same transformation from happening elsewhere.

    Now, it remains to be seen whether Obama will betray the gay marriage faction (the odds are good that he will), so that’s not an argument for continuing to support the legacy party system.

    But the Archdruid makes a nice point nonetheless.

  41. Hugh

    Excellent writing. The first step is just saying no. No to Republicans, no to Democrats. Saying no to some Democrats and some Republicans is insufficient. That just translates into “more and better” of whichever and it doesn’t work. Both parties represent the country’s elites. They do not represent its people. If there were a politician in either party who had the people’s good at heart, the first thing they would do is leave their party.

    Someone (Matthew 6:24) once said no one can serve two masters. Our elites, Republican and Democrat, serve the kleptocrats. They do not serve us. It does not matter that they say they serve us or that they serve everyone. If they serve the 1%, then they serve the 1%, no one else, and the rest is lies for us rubes.

    The argument of the lesser of two evils is bankrupt. The differences between the two parties are cosmetic and rhetorical. In substance, they are the same. Obama and the Democrats have been ruling to the right of Bush and Cheney. Under such circumstances, how can we even identify the lesser evil?

    We are not responsible for elites that do not represent us. We only are if we validate them by voting for them. We do not owe our votes to Romney or Obama. The Democratic and Republican parties do not own our votes. We should stop acting as if they do.

    1. JamesW

      Jill Stein in 2012 — Green Party now or forever forget about America.

      A Green — A dem with a spine !

  42. StealthBadger

    First, you can’t talk about the presidency without talking about The Bubble. The occupant of the Oval Office very rarely gets to hear information that isn’t pre-digested to death. Obama reading ten letters a day that aren’t vetted by his staff (LOL) is considered remarkable (if this is even true, which I doubt). I don’t think we’ll know what he was and is actually thinking and doing until decades after he’s out of office, just like any other president.

    Second, Obama seems to be approaching the system as a whole as if it were “working as intended.” It is not working as intended for anyone save a very few, therefore his attempts to move along with it are creating consequences that are just as dysfunctional as the system itself. I also see the office as shaping the officeholder to a large degree, because of the immense pressures of the position and the influence brought to bear upon it.

    Third, I have no idea what to make of his prior profession teaching Constitutional Law and his current positions, though Sinclair Lewis often gives me a glimmer of understanding here: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!” Substitute position, respect, whatever for salary as necessary.

    Fourth, I seriously doubt that voting for a third-party-candidate is going to be effective, because that too would be using the system with the assumption that it is working as intended (and it’s not). I think the closest thing we have to an instructive example as to how to deal with this is the transformation of the Republican party from 1976 (at the latest) to the present. The modern GOP is an ugly thing, but the idea of working on a party from the bottom up and maintaining that effort for decades is probably the only way to introduce something into the mix that will structurally change the power relationships that inform our society.

    That sort of effort is the only thing that has so far, short of war (and war almost by definition destroys many, many more civilians than it helps, so let’s not go there, ‘kay?).

    1. Aquifer

      “Fourth, I seriously doubt that voting for a third-party-candidate is going to be effective, because that too would be using the system with the assumption that it is working as intended (and it’s not).”

      No, voting 3rd party would be an attempt to return “the system” to working as intended, as a clear statement of what people need. We have been using it as political version of American Idol, not as a real agent for change. … If we had been using it for the latter, we wouldn’t have voted the way we did for at at least the last couple of decades ..

      As for working on a party from the bottom up, if you are referring to the legacy parties, we can see how well that has been working, the Tea party has, indeed, done quite well with the Reps and the Dems have been able to purge their “progs”. If working on a 3rd party is the answer, that is being done but too few are doing it because they subscribe to your “doubt that voting for a third-party-candidate is going to be effective” so why bother …

    2. JerryDemim

      “The modern GOP is an ugly thing”

      So is the Democratic Party. At least the Republicans are more or less honest about their agenda. They seem to behave pretty much the same on camera as they do in committee. The Democrats, outside of a very small handful of names, now that is a very different story. Liars through and through, funded by the exact same interests as the Repugs, same secret agenda, different words and identity-politik signifiers.

      Your post makes no sense.

      1. Blunt

        “The modern GOP is an ugly thing, but the idea of working on a party from the bottom up and maintaining that effort for decades is probably the only way to introduce something into the mix that will structurally change the power relationships that inform our society. …

        Your post makes no sense.”

        Correction, YOUR post makes no sense except as a suggestion that a single clause somehow defines the gist of an argument. That is logically and politically inept, but well within the bounds of the Teabagger madness and the madness of the guilty white neo-liberals. Your reveal yourself as someone whose interest is in the defense of a single party viewpoint.

        Can you say it? Neither legacy party is interested in “the people” except as a lode to exploit unmercifully? Nah, betcha can’t.

        Correct your stance or just admit that you’re basically a Teabagger who drinks the Paul Ryan kool-aid. The truth will set YOU free.

        Although, for the rest of us, the truth is readily revealed in your post.

    1. scraping_by

      Who’s “we”?

      Luckily, nobody’s got onto the “forgive” thing. That would be too much chutzpah even for a bankster.

  43. steelhead23

    Yves, I suspect that this blog string will tax your server, or hit your limit for responses. Dear God Yves, you’ve hit it on the nose. I so wanted Liz Warren to challenge Obama in every primary state – not so much because she genuinely cares about the American people, but because he does not. And a serious attack from the left flank would have profoundly affected the party.

    Thank you so much for writing this – but its late. This should and could have been written well before primary season. I full well understand that decisions made by my county commissioners, or water or sewer boards likely would have more direct effect on my life that any decision emanating from Washington – but please note – whether it is the integration of local police into national networks or the aggressive assertion of federal primacy in dealing with financial regulations, the fascists in DC are consolidating power – and we really should try to stop them. Pay attention folks, they want absolute control and the internet, with blogs just like this one, is in their crosshairs.

  44. Puppet

    Obama is a Puppet, as is Romney.

    The fact that you are disillusioned shows your naievety regarding the American political system.

    1. Aquifer

      Methinks it was not Yves who was “disillusioned” – to be “disillusioned” you have to be “illusioned” in the first place …

      1. scraping_by

        The benefit of the doubt is not an illusion. It’s a functional method of getting along in a society. It’s an act of social trust, and most people take it as a gift and try to deserve it. Barry and the rest of the grifters just take it.

        That said, the knowledge that Barry was a finance industry sock puppet was, indeed, inside knowledge. Next time we’ll listen to insiders like Riverdaughter (who has, I see, made an appearance. Hope the job thing’s getting better, love.) and other insiders when they feel bad vibes.

        Keeping away from “I’m smarter than you” posture, spread the word on the next bunch. Romney’s already being presented as the Evil Clown. Let people know there’s no real alternative in Barry.

        1. riverdaughter

          Well, you know what they say: “One step ahead makes you a leader, two steps ahead makes you a martyr”

          The job front is as bad as I’ve ever seen it.

          As for being an insider, I’m not sure what you mean. I hate balancing my own checkbook and I’ve never done finance. If you mean, was I a stakeholder in a corporation? Yes, as an employee. I’d do it again in a heartbeat. There are some lines of work that shouldn’t be done on a small scale. A nice medium sized corporation is ideal for drug discovery. I’ve also never been privy to the marketing and sales or management decisions. I’m just a labrat and happy to have done what I could to cure disease. That’s as insidery as I get.

  45. Kokuanani

    Thank you, Yves.

    I am SO tired of arguing with the “lesser of two evils”/”so, you want ROMNEY” folks.

    Now I’m just going to send them this article.

  46. M Sakel

    This is not an ‘opinion’. This is the epiphany come lately. Yves Smith’s analysis synopsizes the catastrophic presidency of Barack Obama.

    When Hillary Clinton (not a wholly-owned Wall St. subsdidiary as the Hope and Change candidate) and her supporters warned about the “Empty Suit” and “Teleprompter narcissist” candidate of unknown intentions, they were laughed at the great misogynist media turned against her while letting Barack O. get away with inanities and a past and resume largely unknown and unremarkable. He had a nice baritone voice and had studied well for the part he was to play. His director was Wall Street and Madison Avenue prepared the ground well.

    But, in all fairness, who else could have “effectively” allowed for the creation of 3.5 million refugees (according to State Dept) in the “AfPak region” with hundreds of dead children killed by high-powered drones dropped, as the Canadian Nato general said, “never closer than 150 feet from the schoolyards”!! Who else could have so effectively destroyed the dreams and hopes of millions and made them feel as if it was the natural thing anyway.

    The Third Man scene is phenomenally true today as it was then after WWII when the shattered European countries were adapting to the “free markets”….History repeats itself and now Wall Street launched a speculative attack on the euro that’s destroying the lives of millions. Obama has done little to regulate and prevent further disasters. Yes, he has been “most effective” in his role as Wall Street’s evid derivatives cabaret act.

    1. Aquifer

      Oh, puhleeze, don’t start trying to pave the way for “Hillary ’16” They’re both schmucks … I voted for her (a heart over head vote) in ’00 for Senator, but by the time ’06 rolled around my heart had sufficient shock therapy to wise up ….

      It’s a bit early to get into the “look at her record thing” but i suspect we’ll have to, soon enough, sigh ….

  47. freedomny

    Great post…scary post. Because there are no “real” (as in Democratic) choices for US.

    I didn’t vote for the guy… because of the ACORN connection….and a sneaking little feeling, a gut reaction, that he was just too good to be true. Did, however, allow myself some optimism for a “short time” regarding the Hope and Change thing.

    1. Stratos

      There was no “ACORN Connection”. When the Congress passed that illegal bill of attainder against ACORN, The Prez signed it with lightning speed.

  48. econ

    As an observer, it is truly ironic that there inhabits in the governance of US the expressed aim to put FEAR in the hearts and minds of citizens and to assuage this fear possess the
    largest military force seen by the world.

    1. Stratos

      And thanks to NDAA and the Democrats in Congress, that military now considers the American people the enemy.

  49. steve

    Granted he didn’t come close to meeting expectations based on his soaring rhetoric, but I think you are losing perspective to a considerable degree. Compare him to his predecessor, he promised to be a uniter and not a divider, and who claimed to be channeling Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, as he lied his way into war and then tortured the prisoners. If you grade on a curve, Obama may even come close to meeting his promises.

  50. wafrankli

    Obama misleads! Yes, but I am working for him and voting for him as the absolute lease worst choice for the office. And I have no scales on my eyes, nor did I in 2008. As to taking your vote elsewhere, or throwing it away or sitting on your hands, go on, lot of impact that will have. No one can get shit done individually, by themselves. I grow sick of those who cannot identify the worse alternatives such as McCain, who divested himself of any shred of honesty, Palin, Mittens who simply wants to buy his kingdom and let the forces evil and darkness loose to demolish the country, literally. Capitalism, predatory capitalisn has to be controlled, shackled, neutered before any people on this earth are safe for whatever time we have left before nature takes us out, makes us extinct. In this context, join a group, a party and get with it. Vote for the leastworst alternative as it is all we have now. Wake up on Nov 15, and know we have this struggle with capital yet again, probably with worse actors yet. Forget right or left it is havegots vs havenots. Too many of you have bought economic and social Darwinism, Screw you, I got mine! This is the battle of this century.

    1. Aquifer

      “Capitalism, predatory capitalisn has to be controlled, shackled, neutered before any people on this earth are safe for whatever time we have left before nature takes us out, makes us extinct.”

      And you think Obama is gonna further that goal? Or is even in sympathy with it? You clearly have ignored the gist of this post ….

      The least worse choice? For what, dogcatcher? Shucks, not even that – i am sure he has droned a few dogs as well …

      There are better choices but because you refuse to entertain them you will continue to enable precisely the opposite of what you say you want …. You must really hate Reps that you would support such a schmuck just to beat them, cutting off your nose to spite your face ….

      Do you live in Kansas, by any chance?

      You may not have scales on you eyes, but your cataracts are whoppers …

      1. M.Black

        Thanks, Aquifer. The idea of carrying Obama as one’s shield into the “battle of this century” against predatory capitalism was as sad as it was loony. I had to go get a drink.

    1. itsyou

      Well if Romney was in the White House, the current lot of “progressives” who are currently giving Obama a pass on everything, would snap out of it and start fighting for the basic ideals that progressives stand for.

      1. CaitlinO

        Great point. The self-muzzling of MoveOn, DailyKos and so many others has been infuriating to watch.

    2. chitown2020

      Ron Paul promotes the Vatican gold back dollar…the mark of the beast. He is a Hoodwinker on a HUGE ISSUE. He wants to Abolish the FED and Re-ISSUE WORLD BANK CURRENCY…….! THAT IS EVIL DECEPTION ….!!!! We need our own currency…U.S. BANK NOTES backed by our own natural resource revenues issued via state banks…That is how to ABOLISH THE FED TYRANNY..of credit lending.

  51. ltr

    I have read this essay 3 times now and each time agreed more and was more grateful for it. I have already been telling friends and appropriate acquaintences I will vote against President Obama, and I will surely be doing so and even happily doing so for the endless stream of falseness in policy.

  52. Andrew

    It’s incredible to me that the fools who agree with this essay think anything they believe in would be better with Mitt Romney in the Oval Office. You want to vote for a 3rd party? You’re voting for Romney. You want to sit home and pout that Obama did not live up to your unrealistic expectations? You’re voting for Romney. The time to move Obama more to the Left is while he’s in office. If whining left wingers let the opportunity to reelect Obama slip away, this country will make another huge lurch to the Right.
    And no, I’m not a clandestine Obama campaign operative. I’m a progressive who is sick of the cry babies who would rather shoot themselves in the foot than win the race.

    1. Aquifer

      The first clue as to your misjudgment is that anyone who doesn’t vote for Obama is voting for Romney – wrong, as i, and i hope many others, am voting for neither.

      And no, we don’t believe that anything we believe in would be better with Romney – nor with Obama, which is why we are voting for neither ..

      Moving Obama left? Been there, tried that, got the T-shirt, but it doesn’t work. Time to “move on” (or is that where you’re from?)

      As for lurching to the right, another reason why we are voting for neither

      1. Andrew

        Last week alone was yet another example of how we can move Obama to the left. Sitting home in protest is a vote for Romney. Shame on you if you do it. You’re fooling yourself that you’re helping your cause or the country.

        1. Aquifer

          Oh really? And what happened then, pray tell – Obama declaring he was for the right of gays to marry, but of course that is a state’s rights issue, so nothing further required of him as POTUS ….

          If you don’t realize that the only reason he did that is to dip into the gay money pot, as he sees other sources may be insufficient, you are a bit more naive, or desperate, than i might have thought.

          Of course you could argue that you don’t care why he did it, as long as he did – but realize once he gets the money, that will be the end of that …

          If you want to see the precursor, just check out the XL pipeline saga – he sucked a lot of folks in on that one, as well …

          Oh, Andrew, i feel bad for you, i really do, but i feel even more bad for the rest of us – as we will all get screwed because too many feel the way you do …

        2. M.Black

          “…we can move Obama to the left”

          Presumably, you are referring to Obama’s statement on gay marriage, though with Dick Cheney having declared his support for same 8 years ago, one can’t be sure. What exactly did YOU (as in “we”) do to get Obama to move to the “left”? Did you seriously threaten to withhold your vote and money from him, as some big gay contributors appeared to be seriously doing? Or did you just ask nicely and he complied? If so, maybe you can get him to evolve a little faster on all the other crap he’s responsible for — starting with ending legal discrimination against LBGT folks in the federal-contractor workplace, which he can accomplish with the stroke of a pen. Good luck.

        3. Aquifer

          PS – here is a BIG part of the problem – you assume that when i say i will be voting for neither I will be “sitting home in protest”, as if that were my only other choice. Nope, i will be voting for what i want, as you should be – unless of course Obama is what you really want, in which case, it seems to me, you need, what do they say, an “intervention” ….

        4. Lambert Strether

          Would you like a match for that straw, Operative Andrew?

          I didn’t see anybody advocating “sitting home in protest” and certainly not Aquifer. Since the legacy parties maintain their duopoly with ballot access restrictions, it can be hard to vote for a candidate, if that candidate is no0t Robama (or Obomney).

          In fact, I do not advocate not voting, because that feeds into a voter apathy narrative.

          You can:

          1. Vote for an emergent party candidate if they are on the ballot. In my state, I will vote Green.

          2. You can write in your candidate — “Mike Check,” for example.

          3. You can spoil your ballot.

          All of these methods will get your vote counted. Don’t stay home!

      2. ohmyheck

        Because, like Andrew wrote, it’s about—“win one for the team”. It isn’t about the consequences of what happens after the “win”, it’s just “winning”. “My side beat their side, yay for us”, just don’t question what you’ve “won” behind Door # Democrat. It might be a steaming pile of shit, but my side won it, so it must be Teh Bomb!

        This is the problem when you get the Authoritarian need to be “right” that overrules the ability to think objectively.

    2. Aquifer

      As for shooting oneself in the foot – watched too many folks do that the first time around and am amazed that many like yourself are thinking of doing it again – how can you win a race with no feet? (oh, i forgot the prosthetics …)

      As for winning the race – the only race you will win with either Obama or Romney is the race to the bottom – which is hard to get up from with no feet …

    3. andrew's homunculus

      Get it through your thick Dem skull. We Do Not Care which corporate puppet Jamie Dimon shakes around. We don’t need your futile rigged electoral politics when we’ve got a functioning civil society. Hey, shouldn’t you be assembling lawn signs?

      1. Andrew

        I’ll stick to the real world and actually get things done. You go ahead and whine and waste your vote and help the people doing the most damage to the country. Luckily, so far, there are more workers than whackjobs. Maybe one day you’ll grow up and join us workers.

        1. F. Beard

          It’s not a waste. I don’t like either candidate so will vote 3rd Party. If enough people do so then their choice might have a national voice in 2016 and win by 2020 – a mere 8 years later.

          And if not, then at least both major Parties might receive a sufficient enough rebuke at the polls to reform them.

          1. Aquifer

            I’ve been hoping that would happen since at least ’00, but TPTB chimed in big time with their TINA, “can’t win” and “spoiler” memes and folks chickened out in ’04, and ’08, as i am afraid, for all the talk, they may again. That is why i “rant” about those memes so much – they are change killers. And soon, too soon methinks, things will get so bad that folks won’t have the patience for the polls …

            I am glad you are looking at the “long haul”, but you are a “one note pony” like me, and we tend to be stubborn, don’t we – “eyes on the prize” and all that …

          2. F. Beard

            but you are a “one note pony” like me, Aquifer

            I prefer “harmonious chord.” :)

          3. Aquifer

            sorry, didn’t mean to insult you – i rather like ponies, myself, “pony up” and all that, (someone else on this thread has already called my stuff “horsesh*t”)

            I will try to speak in achord with your preferred term in the future ….

        2. bob

          Classic. You have just demonstrated the perfect circle. Right wing, calvinist democrat.

          You are still a Tory in most of the world view, in spite of any neat, ironic and/or complete BS that comes out of your very small, well conditioned brain.

          Sign up at and we will send a team of “progessives” to come over and complete the lobotomy. As the name suggests, they start low and work their way up. Trust us, it works.

      2. andrews homonuculus

        Oh right, I know you, you’re that guy on the corner who pushes the walk button a million times, harder and harder, and never figures out that it doesn’t make the light change. The perfect voter.

    4. Doug Terpstra

      Is that you, Andrew Sullivan, authoritarian follower? Can’t make out the wolf under all that sheepskin?

      You need a serious dose of reality. Obama has gone far to the right of GWB with assassinations, the NDAA, the war on Libya, the 23-year extension in Afghanistan, opacity, bailouts, corporate welfare, and the Obomneycare bailout of death-panel profiteers. Can you imagine McCain achieving any of those calamities with large Dem majorities in both houses?

  53. jawbone

    Chris Hedges has a powerful post up about what it will take to free ourselves from our corporate colonialist oppressors — it will be long, it must be as nonviolent as possible, and it will require putting our bodies on the streets.

    …. We have been, like nations on the periphery of empire, colonized. We are controlled by tiny corporate entities that have no loyalty to the nation and indeed in the language of traditional patriotism are traitors. They strip us of our resources, keep us politically passive and enrich themselves at our expense. The mechanisms of control are familiar to those whom the Martinique-born French psychiatrist and writer Frantz Fanon called “the wretched of the earth,” including African-Americans. The colonized are denied job security. Incomes are reduced to subsistence level. The poor are plunged into desperation. Mass movements, such as labor unions, are dismantled. The school system is degraded so only the elites have access to a superior education. Laws are written to legalize corporate plunder and abuse, as well as criminalize dissent. And the ensuing fear and instability—keenly felt this past weekend by the more than 200,000 Americans who lost their unemployment benefits—ensure political passivity by diverting all personal energy toward survival. It is an old, old game. (Page 1)

    Hedges explains the life cycle of revolutions, that most violent revolutions end badly, and that Occupy scares The Powers That Be because many of its members see just what the kleptocratic corporatists are doing to them and the nation. The educated people whose ambitions are thwarted, whose futures are cramped, some of whom will never be able to put their educations to use in the fields they chose are the ones who sink into the lower classes economically and can best help the poor and working classes understand what they are up against and, most important, how to fight them.

    A revolution has been unleashed across the globe. This revolution, a popular repudiation of the old order, is where we should direct all our energy and commitment. If we do not topple the corporate elites the ecosystem will be destroyed and massive numbers of human beings along with it. The struggle will be long. There will be times when it will seem we are going nowhere. Victory is not inevitable. But this is our best and only hope. The response of the corporate state will ultimately determine the parameters and composition of rebellion. I pray we replicate the 1989 nonviolent revolutions that overthrew the communist regimes in Eastern Europe. But this is not in my hands or yours. Go ahead and vote this November. But don’t waste any more time or energy on the presidential election than it takes to get to your polling station and pull a lever for a third-party candidate—just enough to register your obstruction and defiance—and then get back out onto the street. That is where the question of real power is being decided. (Page 3)

    A depressing read, but also inspiring.

    1. Robbie Dunham

      President Dimon sounded so confident and outright arrogant: ‘Badda Bing, we blew 2 Billion, fugedda about it Gregory mah man’ I don’t think he cares about some trivial election. Why should we?

    2. jsmith

      Although Hedges says a lot of things that are true and pays his respects to the leftist thinkers of the past, I have to disagree with Hedge’s main point:

      I don’t think the elite are scared of Occupy.

      At all.


      Because they are not really a threat for all of the reasons Hedges states in dealing with other oppositional groups in the past.

      Fanon, Malcolm, Marx, all of them had agendas that threatened the elite of their times.

      What is the Occupy agenda specifically?

      I mean, it sure feels good to think that you’re threatening but really what specifically does Occupy threaten?

      Is it really fair to lump Occupy together with the bloody revolutions and NATO interventions that have roiled the Middle East? early 20th century Russia? Algeria? Latin America? the civil rights movement?

      I’m not trying to diss the honest efforts that go into Occupy but I really can’t let Hedges all to rosy views on the power of Occupy go unchallenged.

      I mean, how could the elite make sure that a protest never really became a threat?

      Hmmm, one way would be to convince the protestors that their peaceful, non-violent, demand-less demonstrations were just “oh, so scary” and that they – the elite – really just can’t stand to see such “effective” protests.

      The elite saw millions and millions of people protest the Iraq war in 2003.

      Those protests were simply ignored and don’t think the elite don’t think they can ignore the Occupy ones either.

      They’re not scared of Occupy and Hedges sounds like a collaborator – don’t get more angry, the elite are already really scared of you guys!

      Occupy has to come up with specific goals that threaten the elite – more than adding a robust Volcker Rule – before the elite will be really scared.

      Sorry, but that’s the truth and no amount of romanticization on Hedge’s behalf will change that.

      1. HR3808

        The Occupy you prefer is LaGreca’a DailyKos Democratic version. Everything is spelled out nicely, the opposing party, the framed status quo, what should be done next.
        The other version. as others have written, is the one with no specific agenda, rejecting the systems that are in place, that do not work. But to have a group that actively resists a family being thrown on the street is quite impressive. Note how MoveOn quickly adopted a version of these activities that exited any pretense of resistance.
        In any event, responsibility includes understanding what violence really means. Did you read the article? Romantic? Please lad.

        1. jsmith

          Nice try, but the one I prefer is actuallly threatening to the system and has goals that threaten the system.

          I guess you missed all my posts on how we should be using Marxism as the basis for protest, huh?

          Don’t worry, lad, I know it’s hard to pay attention these day.

          Oohh, Occupy’s big goal is point out how great a more effective Volcker Rule would be?

          Sh*t, that’s really, really, scary.

          What next? An emendation of a couple of labor laws?

          And you think I sound like DailyKos?

          Well, fight on junior Sandinista, FIGHT ON!!!

          1. Steve

            Endorsing violence is crazy. Not sure what you are specifically railing against. There has been plenty of violence from law enforcement and draconian legislation that appears directly motivated by public dissent. Are you hung up on what motivates this violence, and attempts to crush dissent? DailyKos isn’t Occupy – are they?

          2. jsmith

            There is a difference between having a intellectual/philosophical position that threatens the dominant paradigm and actually physically getting violent against the elite.

            I’m advocating that if we’re going to start engaging against the elite superstructure then we’d better have a viewpoint that is at the very least antagonistic towards it or else it will be easily co-opted and the movement killed.

            Ask for a Volcker Rule and you’re going to get – at best – a watered down version of some semblance of a Volcker Rule.

            Ask for the nationalization of all banks, utilities and transportation companies?

            A compromise from that standpoint will yield a lot more in tangible results.

            Yes, people have been beaten up but for what?

            Minor changes to the legal structure governing finance?!

            If you’re gonna get beat up anyways, you may as well be demanding more like the end to the system that is beating you.

  54. M.Black

    Thank you, Yves. Well said, very well said.

    And as evidence of Obama’s greatest evil, one need only read wafrankli above. It is an evil no mere Republican can effect: leading perfectly decent citizens to support, vote for, work for the re-election of Wall Street impunity and the control of society and government alike by rich elites, endless war, the increased suffering of the poor and the old and the infirm (see the designs on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps), the legitimizing of torture, the general abrogation of civil rights, the growing national security police state, the dereliction of the environment and public health — in sum, the cynical sabotage of democracy in service to predatory capitalism.

    Wafrankli no doubt sincerely believes, “This is the battle of this century” — while preposterously clinging to, as his/her Cross and Shield in that battle, a tool of the status quo (and worse) like Obama. I do not know that a real, ardent and active opposition to all the evils listed above will arise with a Republican in the White House. Wafrankli and his cohort of enablers are proof it will not arise with Obama there.

  55. Crazy Horse

    Great essay, Yves,

    I’ll close with a few sound bite slogans:

    Barack Obomber: Predator Drone Terrorist
    Barack Obama sucks Goldman Sachs
    Barack Obama: Billions for Banksters, Bankruptcy for You

    I’m going to vote for Mitt Romney because he wears magic underwear that allows him to fly. And I hope he’ll need it when millions of Americans surround the White House.

  56. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Yves, you wield the fiery sword of truth and justice. You are a woman of “virtu.” You have what it takes to fill Lincoln’s shoes.

  57. termite nom nom nom

    When the recession sets in this month or next, and blows up some banks in the summer, and repo and letters of credit and trade seize up, and Obama winds up in the same slough of disgrace as Bush and popular revulsion pukes him out like a bad clam, that’s going to be mildly satisfying, but the main thing is, executive churn intensifies collapse, and you can’t rip a kleptocracy out by the roots until it has collapsed of its own weight. In the meantime I don’t have to vote, I just have to throw 100 different monkey wrenches into the works every day until I hear BANG CLANK and then nothing. This criminal state has got to go.

  58. RIverdaughter


    I got called a racist republican uneducated, working class, menopausal old woman for saying these very things four years ago. While I was happy that the country had overcome the race barrier, and I tried to be optimistic, my intuition told me he was bad, bad news. There’s a reason I’ve been flogging the 2008 primary for four years. The way it was conducted should have set off alarm bells about Obama, the party, and the financiers.

    The question is, what are we going to do about it? It would have been a heck of a lot easier to turn this ship around if we had started last year. Now, we have to hope for sme kind of game changing event.

  59. SR6719

    One of your best, Yves.

    Also, excellent comments by Hugh and jsmith, among others.

  60. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®©

    I voted for Obama in 2008, primary and general.

    I didn’t expect a liberal, but I had no idea he’d be this bad.

    I will be voting for Jill Stein for President this year.

    I’m told that I’m wasting my vote, because she has no chance.

    I respond, “I’ve been wasting my vote voting for Democrats and expecting them to be different from the Republicans when it comes to protecting banksters and blowing up foreigners for corporate profits.”

  61. Jill

    I think that political parties have taken the place of religion in people’s lives. I notice that people are taking their “values” from parties in ways people used to get them from their church. I’m not certain when this first began but I see it more and more.

    In part, this seems to account for the unquestioning support of murder and torture when one’s side engages in it (just as it does with various religious crusades/jihads etc.)

    Authoritarianism requires that “values” come from a fixed source outside the individual. It is why people keep defending Obama and Democrats no matter what they do. The party is now propping people up in a way that a religion might.

    BTW, in Ohio, Obama began his speech with; “I still believe.” That tells us exactly what is going on.

  62. Anarcissie

    There is no point in voting for the lesser evil, because your vote is not going to determine the outcome of the election anyway. If you vote at all, you might as well vote for someone you like, and if you choose carefully, you might not get blood on your hands in the voting booth.

  63. Timothy Gawne

    Amen amen amen.

    The single greatest threat to American today is that not enough people DESPISE Obama.

    I don’t mean tepidly acknowledge that he is not perfect. I mean DESPISE him, boo him in public, react with outrage when anyone praises him.

    The best thing that any of us can do is to hate Obama. There must be a penalty for selling us out. If, after all of this, Obama is still treated like a rock star, what sort of example will this set? He sold us out. He lied to us. He betrayed us.

    Americans are not fond of King George – but they hate Benedict Arnold. I am not fond of Cheney and Bush II – but I really really fond Obama despicable. Public pressure does have an influence. And it starts here.

  64. JTFaraday

    RE: all this talk of third parties.

    I’m not opposed to “Third parties” but, in stark contrast the betrayal of Hopey Changey, this article highlighted 2 successful movements for cultural and political change, neither one of which required a “Third Party” to make substantial progress on their agenda:

    “The success of gay rights activists shows how you effect change, and it isn’t primarily through the ballot box. Just like the successful program of the radical right launched in the the 1970s, these battles are fought on a much broader front, with national political change a lagging indicator of shifts in social tectonic plates. This a not a battle but a crusade, and takes more guts and tenacity than showing up and voting, or giving money to preferred candidates.

    If you want this country to be different, you can’t just wish for it or expect voting to effect change.”

    I also saw someone comment that not voting third party represented “abandoning the system” as if it didn’t work.

    Neither the gay rights/gay marriage nor the social conservative movements abandoned the system. What they did do and what made them successful is that they were, in the first instance, real grass roots cultural movements that cohered around and were fueled by personal convictions.

    Second, they didn’t assume that success was dependent upon the approval of the Emperor and His Courtiers. They worked state by state legislative agendas, sent court cases up through the lover courts, captured popular support at local school boards, etc.

    Ultimately, they did the work themselves and where necessary enlisted sympathetic lawyers or other assistance rather than delegating all authority to a pol who could be bought off or otherwise diverted into his or her own agenda.

    We need something more like that.

    1. F. Beard

      sent court cases up through the lover courts, JTFaraday

      Freudian slip?

      I wonder how much blackmail the homosexual lobby used, what with all the politicians in the closet?

      1. JTFaraday

        Perhaps I was thinking about the anti-abortion lobby, which certainly tries to send its cases to sympathetic courts.

    2. Lambert Strether

      Absolutely true. Both are needed. Nobody, I think, said a third party substituted for the social movements; in fact, they are driven by them (I would argue…)

    3. Aquifer

      Well, that’s true – you don’t need elections unless you need to enact laws codifying and enforcing rights/policies/programs. If you need laws you need someone to enact them, unless you wish to rely on initiative and referendum, and that is not available for everything in all states and certainly not in the country at large. Even there, it is a 2 edged sword – look at Prop 13 in CA or even the back and forth on gay marriage – the influence of money is writ large there as well ..

      Movements and politics need not “marry”, but they had better at least cohabit. One without the other is like running a race on one leg and tying up the other one – can be done, i suppose, but one definitely hurts one chances of winning …

      1. JTFaraday

        I said I didn’t reject the idea of “Third Parties,” that mimic the behavior of our current Duopoly Parties with things like getting out the vote efforts and horse race coverage.

        On the other hand, it does seem to me that you reject out of hand the empirical fact that there are other ways of creating social, political, and legal change than electoral/ representative politics, particularly at the national level.

        You also seem to skirt the empirical fact that representative politics, particularly at the national level, ultimately entails dumping your civic responsibility on a relative handful of frail individuals.

        In this day and age these frail individuals consistently go to the Empire to die. I do not take it as a given that a Third Party would be any more successful in US Congress than the current Progressive and Black caucuses, whereas apparently you do.

        You point out that change requires a legislative agenda, and this requires a “Third Party.” What is the gay marriage movement if not the advancement of a legislative agenda at the state level? Where is this “Third Party”?

        By the time this legislative agenda reaches the Empire, it will be much more difficult for its opponents to claim that it was imposed on the entire country by Imperial fiat. This is exactly what social conservatives have been saying about abortion since Roe v. Wade, a thing they have been steadily undermining despite its status as Imperial Fiat.

        Here is where we can see that even the Imperial Fiat you so desire is not Final.

        These other ways of creating change, without delegating authority to political representatives, are not “working outside the system.” They ARE the system.

        That’s my only point. You and your kinder, gentler Elizabeth Warren can take it or leave it.

        1. Aquifer

          Whoa, TJ lets back up a bit here …

          “… “Third Parties,” that mimic the behavior of our current Duopoly Parties with things like getting out the vote efforts and horse race coverage.”

          All parties/candidates need to “get out the vote” if they expect to do well in elections. That is only a derivative critique that springs from hating elections per se. As for “horse race”, that is a critique for the media – politics ain’t no “horse race” for me.

          “it does seem to me that you reject out of hand the empirical fact that there are other ways of creating social, political, and legal change than electoral/ representative politics, particularly at the national level.”

          Where did you get that idea – what I have said is that, outside of initiative and referenda, if you need laws passed you need leg. to pass them and we choose legs by election … I never said there was no other way to get change – but that electoral politics were necessary to the extent law is – unless of course you wish to resort to “common law” for everything, or wait for court findings, hoping that the petitioners have enough money and time to make their case, have standing to get in, and crossing you fingers that a court, whose members were either appointed by “elected” officials, or are themselves “elected” will agree with you, AND that it won’t be overturned on appeal ….

          “You also seem to skirt the empirical fact that representative politics, particularly at the national level, ultimately entails dumping your civic responsibility on a relative handful of frail individuals.”

          Hmmm, well we are all “frail” for all that. But what does my “civic duty” entail at a national level? And if not dealing with reps in the fulfillment of that duty, who am i dealing with? We all get together over the internet? No seriously …

          At the local level i was involved up to my ears in “civic duty” for about 10 years. i went to more TB meetings than the TB members did, filled files with FOIA docs, ran for office (lost, no surprise, huh) and even sued the TB (won, but victory could easily be lost by the TB just changing a few things). It was because i understood that practicing one’s “civic duty” could eat up your life that i realized to have one outside of it one really needed to have reps to take care of the nuts and bolts. And if you made sure to get good ones, you wouldn’t have to spend your life in the Town Hall. The big issues you talk about need movements behind them, no doubt – but you are describing a system where it doesn’t matter who sits in office, and i tell you, it does …

          Would a third party be any more effective? No guarantee, but the comparison is not with the Black and Progressive caucuses whose members belong to the corporate duopoly and at the end of the day, no matter what they call themselves, dance to its tune, ala Kucinich. The members of a party not so owned, who depend, not on corps, but on their constituents for sustenance, have at least a fighting chance .. It certainly is worth a try, IMO

          Again, as you say, – the “gay agenda” had legislative goals – they wanted something passed by “elected” legislatures. Did they get it without 3rd party members? Yes. Did they get it without convincing those legs that they would be out on their ears if they didn’t pass it? Or had they succeeded in putting in “gay friendly” legs? How long did it take for this movement to get to this point? Generations … The next time we are about to go to war how long do you want to wait for your movement to stop it – is this an argument against the usefulness of elected office or of 3rd parties? If the former, your example of the “gay agenda” success would seem to support my position – they got what they wanted – the legalization of marriage. Legalization, as in law. If it is about the latter, i put it to you that 3rd parties could greatly streamline and augment the success of movements – we won’t know ’til we try.

          If you are content with the 2 legacy parties and prying what you want out of them with movements – hey, have at it. Outside of gay marriage in Ca, and a few other instances, i am more than unimpressed, i am really pissed off at them …

          Your argument re Roe is a bit confusing – on the one hand, you tout movements use of the courts as an outside the electoral process mechanism, but then turn around and call Roe an imperial fiat creating a backlash. I would point out to you that the current backlash is being played out in legislative chambers by elected officials – members of the duopoly that, apparently, it is unimportant to challenge ..

          It is not I who desire an Imperial fiat, you are the one who seems to think that outside leg. (court) legal change is better …

          As for Elizabeth Warren, where the hell did THAT come from? Sorry, no relation ….

          1. JTFaraday

            “I never said there was no other way to get change – but that electoral politics were necessary to the extent law is – unless of course you wish to resort to–”

            I never said anything about abolishing electoral politics. I even said you can have your third party and your progressive revolving hero of the week, your kinder gentler Elizabeth Warren in the form of the sainted Jill Stein.

            Now grow up and quit straw manning me.

    4. Stratos

      You forgot to add that both Gays and Rightwingers have really generous, wealthy funders. Funding of movement infrastructure is vital.

      1. JTFaraday

        Right now nothing costs more than mounting a political campaign, especially at the Imperial level– where you’ll find yourself immediately outbid.

        Too many pols are mere careerists– look where the alleged “community organizer,” Barack Obama, is today– need for dirty money on the plausible story that they can’t win without it.

        Elections will always cost a lot, either in money or effort, because you have to reach the disengaged voting public. The other efforts at least have the virtue of deploying activist citizens (and whatever money you may have) at the point where the “decision makers” elected by the voting public already are.

        Granted you can still be outbid, especially in the Empire where all the money is, but there is still something to be said for making yourself a pest. :)

        1. JTFaraday

          Oops. I seem to have lost something in there. I think it was:

          “Too many pols are mere careerists–- look where the alleged “community organizer,” Barack Obama, is today–- and even well intentioned representatives will rationalize their need for dirty money on the plausible story that they can’t win without it.”

  65. psychoanalystus

    “Yet puzzlingly, Obama retains a peculiar ability to elicit Pavlovian responses from many of his followers.”

    That says a lot about the American people, doesn’t it? Because it’s usually dogs that respond so well to Pavlovian techniques.

    1. skippy

      In 2008, there were an estimated 327 million television sets in the US.

      Ninety-nine percent of American households have at least one television and the majority of households have more than one. As a whole, the television networks of the United States are the largest and most syndicated in the world.[1]

      Skippy… Woof… Woof.

      1. psychohistorian

        It feels good to be part of the 1% in this case.

        When you tell Americans they are brainwashed by their TV’s they look at you with a blank stare and they start talking about their favorite sitcoms…..of course they are faith based.

  66. chitown2020

    EVERY President is a puppet for the GLOBALIST NWO. The only Pres who tried to usurp the HOLY SEE in modern times was J.FK…The NWO has been working to install their TOTALITARIAN DICTATORSHIP for decades. I have a friend who is an EX-FBI agent who told me that this end game plan really took off after the Roman Empire killed Kennedy…right after Vatican Council II was formed. Bush Sr. talked about this BIG IDEA ..a NEW WORLD ORDER CAN EMERGE in his speech in 1990. If you missed the speech it is on you tube. We need an American Patriot in 2012 or its gonna get ugly. Do we really want the Nazis running this country from behind the scenes for another 4 years..? ..RESTORE THE U.S. CONSTITUTION..ISSUE OUR OWN CURRENCY….U.S. BANK NOTES VIA STATE BANKS BACKED BY OUR OWN NATURAL RESOURCE REVENUES…ABOLISH THE FED/U.N./NATO/IMF/VATICAN BANK TYRANNY…! NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY WILL PREVAIL…!

    1. no really

      Hey, as phony bullshit nonexistent god is my judge, no shit, the UN is nothing but honest, powerless pukes like us. The closest thing to a functioning government you’ve got is in Geneva. Read this and tell me they’re not on your side:

      That’s your rights. The NWO is just a boogieman that the government uses to scare you. They want to keep rights and rule of law offshore so they can let the spooks and bankers bleed you.

      1. chitown2020

        The NWO is an ideology ……..A BIG IDEA….and a methodology used to CONTROL US.. ….WAKE UP..!

  67. Tao Jonesing

    The only way to ensure that Social Security as we know it is scrapped is to vote for Obama. Only a nominally Democratic POTUS can accomplish that Republican goal.

    But as a consolation prize you “progressives” will get a half-hearted fight for “gay marriage” that Obama will surrender in the back room before it ever begins.

    Let’s make Romney POTUS. Will he be able to gut Social Security as Barry wants do do? No. Will he be successful in outlawing gay marriage? No.

    Obama is the lesser of two evils? Hardly. Anyone who votes for Obama because of non-economic issues such as gay marriage and abortion rights is a myopic fool who deserves the misery he and the rest of the 99% will suffer when Obama gets his second term.

    1. chitown2020

      Romney and his 25 million dollar bank account in the Caymens? He is a Globalist too…With a Globalist Ideology…What he did with Bain Capital proves it. These candidates are not dems or repubs….they are NWO GLOBALISTS…Romney wants manufactured debt slavery too. As far as saving SS…don’t trust, verify.

    2. CaitlinO

      In my darkest moments I find myself thinking that the only way to right this mess is to vote the worst possible actors into office. Just as an addict has to hit bottom we may have to bring the fraud that our democracy has become to a complete, abject collapse before we can hope to re-build it.

  68. OopsBaby

    This post is rambling insanity. A teenage girl’s cut out collage. So are the links that you think support your grand thesis. So much green and red, not enough shades of blue and gray. Every single grievance you have with the president is a matter of opinion, or opinion of degree.

    And the supporting comments in support of voter apathy are insane.

    Obama didn’t betray you, idiots. He’s the best president in your lifetimes.

    1. Aquifer

      “He’s the best president in your lifetimes”

      Well that may be true, if you were born yesterday … Does your name suggest that may be so?

      1. chitown2020

        Why is Obama the best President in our lifetimes? Is he going to stop the robbery by the FED, jail the crooks, and have Timmy cut us all a big fat check….? Is he going to issue our own currency….????? issue nationwide loan recissions? ?? Drop bags of money from the sky…?? Because my pockets are emptier now than ever so that is not a sign of progress or moving forward…All I see from these politicians is tyranny and oppression…!

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Wrong. I’m old enough to tell you the presidents in my lifetime that were hands down better than Obama: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and HW Bush. And you can make a decent case for the rest, ex Nixon and Shrub, being less bad too. For instance, Ronald Reagan was more upset with unemployment at 8% and took more action to lower it than Obama was at 10% unemployment with more flattering definitions of unemployment. And taking the position that it was permissible to kill pretty much any American citizen without court approval would never have occurred to Reagan.

      1. Economics Considered

        Excellent coda to your incredibly perceptive and astute blog post. Thank you so so much for the eloquent delineation of the ‘state’ of Obama.

      2. Warren Celli

        This brief comment, with its relative ratings of Presidents, capsulizes for me, the intentional behind the curtain cultural shifting from the good old fashioned Vanilla Greed for Profit to the present Pernicious Greed for Control.

        I too have lived through these Presidencies and have witnessed the intentional shift from the past post W.W.II more moral values of; fairness, love, respect, opportunity, togetherness, hope, desire, etc. — to the present elite immoral corporate values that instead instill and normalize; preemptive war, fear, divisiveness, hate, racism, torture, greed is good, homelessness, extra judicial assassinations, wealth adoration, etc.

        We have been neglectful as a people yes, but we have been very guile-fully enticed and made comfortable along the way in a very deceptive orchestration, and some of us, by virtue of a greater profit taken in the deception, are more responsible than others. Especially so the ‘pillars of the community’ throughout America in the Vanilla Greed for Profit camp. Through appeal to their greed and their immorality, they have been more greatly rewarded by an even more immoral and evil force (Pernicious Greed for Control), with excess profits to unwittingly assist in destroying their own seed corn. They do not yet realize how thoroughly they have been deceived and that they will not have a chair when the music stops playing. This is not just another cyclical valley. This is a grinding war of attrition as we sink into naked cannibalism.

        Along with urging all citizens to action in the commons, an extraordinary effort has to also be made to involve that greater resource Vanilla Greed for Profit Camp to most rapidly understand and mend their immoral ways and join in on reclaiming the commons and rebuilding our stained morality. The drug gang R&D program in Mexico is right around the corner. If you think taxes are extortion you haven’t seen anything yet. Strong measures are needed. Election boycotts are not out of order.

        Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      3. Fiver

        Carter was a cut above all of them – that perhaps the sanest, most decent man ever to hold the position was replaced by an immensely destructive, affable fool of a man, and then re-elected, poses the core question:

        Does the US public want responsible leadership, or a perpetual binge?

      4. Wayne Tolleson

        “I’m old enough to tell you the presidents in my lifetime that were hands down better than Obama: Eisenhower, Kennedy, and HW Bush.”

        Well, there goes all your credibility, my friend. If you really think that everything that George H.W. Bush put this country through is worse than Barack Obama, you’ve kinda revealed yourself to be an uninformed and out of touch whiner.

        This isn’t to say Obama has been good by any stretch of the imagination. But if you really think he’s worse than George H.W. Bush, you’ve reached the “making sh*t up” territory, and are doing a tremendous disservice to liberals and progressives.

        1. Warren Celli

          Its a relative assessment. They are all scum bag puppets. The importance is the shift and decline in morality through ever stronger and more devious propaganda; through incremental and excellent use of the Noble Lie.

          Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      5. Anon

        It’s not a defense of Obama, but the previous US presidents you mentioned didn’t have the like of 9/11 problem on their hands, with the popularity of the internet. That’s a tough job to do consider such assets as Susan Lindauer

        1. LeeAnne

          …the likes of 9/11 -on your hands? -really?

          on my pile of books to throw out, I recently flipped through and found this gem written by a “senior researcher and professor at the U.S. Naval War College …” whose book got some play a few years ago:

          “…the US will stop its long-term policy of dithering on Columbia’s slow disintegration as a state and finally commit itself to ending the nearly joint rule of the drug cartels and the rebel groups within that failed state. This will be an amazingly MESSY task, OUR EMBRACING OF WHICH must go all the way if we are to succeed. My guess is that a 9/11-like trigger WILL HAVE TO OCCUR to set the endgame in motion, SOMETHING THAT THE WHITE HOUSE CAN RALLY SUPPORT AROUND …Columbia will not rise to the top of the list, however, so long as North Korea and Iran sit at the top two positions.

          from “The Pentagon’s New Map: War and Peace in the Twenty-First Century” pg. 380, 2004 by Thomas P.M. Barnett

          cute, huh? not so bright, I’d say -to put something like that in writing to sell a book and get some consulting fees?
          And the editors didn’t notice? You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to see the truth of the matter. Just open your eyes.

          Barnett’s qualificationS to advise on foreign policy include; from the fly leaf of the book: “senior strategic research and professor at the U.S. Naval War College, Assistant for Strategic Future, Office of Force Transformation, Office of the Secretary of Defense, NewRulesSets.Project in partnership with Cantor Fitzgerald to draw new “maps” of power and influence in the world economy, …”

  69. orionATL

    y.s. –

    the “ruthlessness” you have mentioned is one very prominent dimension of the obama personality – his decision to run for president without a smidgen of the experience needed gave a hint at that characteristic, as did his move of the dnc to his chicago campaign headquarters upon being assured of the nomination.

    a related personality characteristic is amorality.

    our president, in matters such as denial of bill of rights freedoms, or refusal to investigate major bank officials’ culpability, or use of drones and the killing of civilians, or the assassination of american citizens, or his tolerance of the repeated serious misconduct within the u.s. doj/fbi, has revealed an indifference to illegality and individual suffering which i translate as amorality.

    why this approach to governing?

    i am puzzled.

    for one, however, the multiple lies the president told the american people in 2008, when it wasn’t even necessary to do so to insure his victory, suggest to me a stunted personality.

    it seems in retrospect as if he were thinking in 2008, “o.k., what can i say to convince these unhappy voter that i hold values they hold dear.”

    that’s pretty much a karl kristian rove position on electoral politics, isn’t it?

  70. Aquifer

    Yves, great post – the most well written, succinct synopsis of Obama from his “inception” until now i have seen and i am glad you wrote it …

    My only plug (and plug, and plug, and …) is for adding that we have alternatives and we should choose them.

    As you can tell from the number and vigor of comments, this is a topic that is timely and won’t go away, even after the election, so although this isn’t your main “gig” i hope you revisit it from time to time …


  71. chitown2020

    We better do our homework on all candidates. We cant just believe everything we are told and vote for any quack or we will be worse off…………..CONgress and the Senate are more evil than Obama. They write the laws. We The People have to infiltrate them to usurp this.

  72. Wayne Tolleson

    I agree with many of the criticisms of Obama, but to suggest that Obama is the same as, or worse than, the Republicans is JUST PLAIN STUPID.

    Do you guys really not remember 2001-2009? It really wasn’t that long ago. Yes, we were all disappointed in the Clinton years. But were the Clinton years as bad as the Reagan years? Were they as bad as the Bush years?

    Hell freakin’ no, they weren’t. I’m not saying we ought to accept Obama’s failures and disappointments, but if Obama isn’t reelected, y’all are gonna find out exactly what the difference is between Obama and Romney.

    I’ll take the disappointment over the psychopath any day of the week.

    1. F. Beard

      … y’all are gonna find out exactly what the difference is between Obama and Romney. Wayne Tolleson

      “Better an honest enemy than a treacherous ‘friend’.” Ieuan

      I can’t vote for the Mormon (religious reasons) but I’m pretty sure Romney would be the “less effective of two evils.”

      1. Wayne Tolleson

        “I can’t vote for the Mormon (religious reasons) but I’m pretty sure Romney would be the ‘less effective of two evils.'”

        This is exactly the same rhetoric I heard about George W. Bush in 2000. Were the Clinton years kinda disappointing? Hell yeah, they were. But when Clinton left office, the country wasn’t completely decimated.

        When Bush left office, the country was in ruins. No, Obama has not done nearly enough to address our underlying problems, but we’re still in much better shape than we were in Jan. 2009, when we had been losing 700,000 jobs per month for months. Clinton and Obama might have bombed other countries, but they didn’t launch full scale invasions of two countries.

        Be careful what you wish for. A lot of people told you there was a massive difference between Bush and Gore, but a lot of you didn’t listen. As disappointing as Obama is, he’s still much better than Romney.

        1. F. Beard

          I think a Romney election would provoke a backlash much as people will throw up a large dose of arsenic while a more subtle application (Obama) will kill them.

          1. F. Beard

            Also, the presumption that Republicans understand economics is gone, (thanks to Bush) so Romney will have a difficult time being too much of a bastard.

          2. Wayne Tolleson

            It’s sad to me that people forget just how destructive Republicans are. Obama didn’t create most of what we see today. HE INHERITED IT. Any good he has attempted to do has been blocked, disrupted, stalled, and filibustered by the insane and fascist right wing.

            If people are dumb enough to think that Romney would be no worse than Obama, they deserve what they’ll get.

    2. Fiver

      Nonsense. Bush and the Reps are oafish amateurs. I think Big.


      Wall Street’s Global Drone King

  73. psychohistorian

    If the comments are any indicator, we may see some significant 3rd party voting…..nice to see the D & R being deprecated. Would that it will make a difference.

    Yves, You are not going to be invited to the presidential anointment ball at this rate.

  74. Directm

    The problem is structural not frictional, and the base root of the problem is we have forgotten how to differentiate the abstract from flesh and blood…

  75. Jonas the Bold

    You’ve got to be kidding me.

    Anyone who believes this snake-oil salesman should have their training wheels ripped from their tricycle.

  76. Paul Tioxon

    As Capitalism has been regularly debunked here, with acute expert testimony and the weight of history repeating itself to confirm the reasoned arguments and words of contempt, it impossible not to equally defenestrate the political component which made capitalism a global triumph, without an alternative. This is the age of decadent politics. It is certainly not original or insightful that Yves passionately hammers away at the dead weight of President Obama. The conclusion that the 2 parties aren’t worth anything to the working men and women of America and that there is not a dimes worth of difference between goes back aways, including the 3rd party campaign of George Wallace in 1968.,_1968

    Wallace was not the first or last, Ross Perot, to ride resentment and contempt for the 2 party system into national prominence. Wallace put 10 million votes along with 5 states into his pocket and held one of the largest and most frightening political rallies in the heart of Manhattan at MSG. But he would not have rode a wave of discontent if the lesson had not already been internalized as learned cultural wisdom by the populace. We already know that we are regularly being screwed and that is why voter participation rates are so low in the country.

    But everyone does not have the luxury of age and experience or a solid university education to have informed political perspectives. It could be easy for me and anyone to pick a fight with Yves over some point or another in this fire and brimstone. But it is more important to not attack her for over the top generalizations or some unfounded fear that she will change the course of history by scaring people off from coming out to vote Dem or at to vote at all. If you see George Clooney’s movie, “THE IDES OF MARCH”, you will see the true believer getting slapped in the face by reality that he can’t deny. The overwhelming message of the movie is delivered by the NYT reporter who tells the political operative that you WILL be disappointed by your candidate. And certainly not in some venal, too small to matter issue.

    Yves has seen more and knows more than enough to think to a valid conclusion about President Obama. And, I don’t think Mitt Romney will win. He is one of the worst candidates the republicans could have possibly come up with and reminds me of the Philadelphia arrangement.

    In this city, the Democrats rule. But not for reason of skill, loyalty or anything positive or negative that they do. There is a long standing arrangement in this city between the republicans and the democrats. The democrats could have driven every last republican into the dust bin of history long ago. But, for a multi generational agreement to never put up a candidate that can punch his way out of a wet paper bag, the republicans get traffic court. There is one family that has headed up the republicans for generations, since they were driven from power after WWII. They field no one of any consequence ever and do nothing to build any credible presence in the city. Mitt Romney may well have been in Philadelphia’s republican party all of his life as far as I can tell, because he looks indistinguishable from the non entities that appear election after election by deliberate decision to throw the race.

    President Obama knows the price tag for stimulus to be at least $2TRILLION on domestic spending. He really does not need to be worried about being crucified by Rush, Cantor or Lance Priebus. He can shut down military bases in England, Spain, and Italy without worry of Euro War. He can retire air craft carriers that are older than the Reagan presidency and not replace them. We have a 17 navy advantage and of those 17 foreign navies that our singular navy is equal to, most are our NATO allies. The cost of Afraquistan warfare is virtually gone. He has no more excuses about getting things done.

    And if he doesn’t Hillary or Joe can forget about a run. The Green Party and others like it will swell with members. The great depression may have started in 1929, but Roosevelt did not get into office until 1933. By then, people were a lot more desperate. And many laws and programs did not come into effect until 1936-37. With unemployment running out now and republicans forcing austerity down the throats of the populace at the state level, you will not a have the placid Americans of OWS, but the victims of trauma induced by the deliberate political dismantling of the safety net before our eyes while President Obama watches over a greater role for women and gays in combat. That’s not progress.

    Finally, and most of all, I vote. There may not be 3rd party alternatives on the local level, but there will be for Federal offices. Voting is something I do, not because I can win anything at all. I vote, because it is a social activity, the kind that predates the nation state or the economy. Voting is a social act, to be done with others and if done with purpose, you can gain a measure of control over your everyday life, in concert with others. On the national level today, voting does not connect to that power over your life, but is still not to be abandoned. Without the regular practice to operate our communities and larger polities, via the ballot, we capitulate any consent that we currently have. Voting can be taken away, not just suppressed or rendered meaningless or kubuki or whatever, but taken away entirely. I vote for the disciplined social practice that must not be allowed to rust, because it is the one direct channel to making or breaking the law makers that govern my relations to others and the world at large.

    There are other institutions that matter aside from the ballot, but that means that voting is one of a complex of institutions that requires participation to operate society for my benefit and hopefully, reaches to the levers of state power and economic security. We need to vote to practice how to work together in a social relationship that has not been reduced to a commodity. Voting is not wishing. It is work, more work than some people are willing to do without a paycheck. And in the capitalist world, that makes you a sucker. Or a slave. Because no one wants to work for free. Voting is mistakenly confused with a meaningless ritual, that it is a social practice without a practical outcome that can not be converted into currency. Voting is work, but it is not work for money, for pay or psychic satisfaction. It helps maintain the social order. And without the social order, the political economy has no foundation for support.

    1. Fiver

      You are going to vote for Obama. He is going to toss interests you care about a couple of bones, and some things are going to improve over the next 2-3 years. People like yourself will be running around heralding the “Return of Good Times” with an “I Told You So” chorus, and will be just about to utterly spend themselves with overbrimming Democratness when the entirely un-fixed financial system is plowed under by its own infernal contrivances – except much worse.

      You suppose “Hillary” or “Joe” want to follow that act?

  77. Max424

    Excellent vid choice.

    Added bonus: The blog gets a fitting Song de Jour, Anton Karas’ eerie (skin-crawling) Third Man Theme for the Zither, and the Zither only.

    Note: That’s not quite true about Switzerland, the Cuckoo clock implication being that they haven’t produced any great artists or thinkers. What about the modern Renaissance man Roger Federer? He speaks six languages, fluently, while playing championship level tennis so balletically you can’t hears his sneakers’ squeaking.

    (I ask a rhetorical: Could neo-liberal America produce an advanced gentleman remotely like Roger Federer?)

    Note II: Also unmentioned by Orson (Graham Greene), two centuries of boring Swiss democracy has generated the highest per capita concentration of wealth in human history.

    The lesson of the 200 year long Swiss experiment: A smart, cooperative Democracy can be a rich place, for everyone.

  78. Economics Considered

    I would like to submit to the readers of this fabulous blog that there is actually an extremely powerful tool that the voters do have (for youR specific consideration also, Aquifer)

    The presidency can do great harm – but it is rare that it can do much good (Eisenhower and Kennedy come to mind as exceptions with enormous impacts on the vitality of the country)

    The key to the country for the voters is not the presidency – it is the House of Representatives (and on a more extended time frame, the Senate). And what can be done is incredibly simple – and truly as incredibly powerful as the commenters here struggle uselessly to address.

    It is truly and incredibly simple – every two years, vote for the person running against the incumbent. Think about it. If the ENTIRE House were new, the message from the voters would be thundering. We rejected the status quo. We expect you to work to help your country, not the 1%. And make no mistake – if you don’t we’ll put an entirely new House in place in two years. Get busy.

    And as a side notion that is quite amusing – can you imagine the chaos of the ‘power structure’ when the established bulls are ALL gone ?? All committees and committee chairmen up for grabs. Even the inane power trappings of premium office space would be up for grabs. It would probably take 6 months just for the dust to settle – a cynic would think that this was 6 months when they would not be doing additional harm.


    This is something that actually COULD work. Nothing else will – and that is rock hard reality.

    1. David

      I’ve said the same for many years now: vote them all out. Do it again and again and again until they get that they work for us.

      But people won’t vote against “their team” and half(?) of incumbants run unopposed so no choice in the primary.

  79. myiq2xu

    Obama, with his youthful vigor, his technocratic command of policy details, his “no drama” steadiness, his mastery of oratory, seemed uniquely suited to this time of need.

    I wouldn’t call 47 “youthful” but I’ll give you a pass on that one. But the other three are fallacious.

    Obama is no policy wonk. He was egregiously bad in the early debates and though he improved he never did catch up to Hillary. She was the true technocrat. He copied most of his ideas from her.

    His “no drama” steadiness was mostly a result of a cooperative media. They simply ignored any negative stories about Obama. Remember the SNL “Do you want your pillow fluffed” skit? After the one time he got grilled by moderators in a debate with Hillary he refused to do any more debates and his followers tried to organize a boycott of ABC. He also has a tendency to get pissy and condescending with anyone who annoyed him and call women demeaning terms like “sweetie”.

    As for his mastery of oratory, he was simply reading other peoples’ words off a teleprompter. Flying solo he is a stuttering ass who committed numerous gaffes (also ignored by the media).

    Candidate Obama was an illusion conjured up by David Axelrod.

    1. Fiver

      Quite agree there was and is little daylight between Obama and H. Clinton’s policy, no surprise given half of Obama’s team is former Clinton – the other half being former Bush.

      All 3 serve(d) elite, US corporate globalist Empire.

  80. DP

    Great piece Yves.

    The comment on Obama’s recent endorsement of gay marriage not increasing his opposition triggered something for me. I had been wondering about the timing of the announcement, given how long he’d tried to straddle the fence and does nothing without making a political calculation.

    I recall a piece no more than a couple of weeks ago from the NYT (probably read because of a link from NC) on Obama’s fundraising, with the emphasis on how they were finding it tough to meet their aggressive fundraising goals because Obama has offended a lot of Wall Streeters by saying bad things about them (though it’s just rhetoric as they well know). The article reported on a dinner with Wall Streeters whining about whether Obama would go after private equity in his campaign against Romney.

    One of Obama’s top fundraising people made a comment that they would have to go harder after other deep pocket groups to make up what they couldn’t raise from Wall Street. He specifically mentioned gays. Hence, the new “principled” stance on gay marriage from Obama, which is his principled attempt to open gay checkbooks wider.

    1. DP

      And now I see in your links for 5/15 that the NYT reports that about 2/3 of Americans are skeptical about Obama’s endorsement of gay marriage and think it is politically motivated instead of principled. But the article doesn’t say what the potential political motivation could be; despite the headline about skepticism it simply reports on poll results with a couple of comments from people who were polled.

      I figured it out Obama’s likely motivation for endorsing gay marriage now from another New York Times article, but either the 5 NYT reporters who wrote and/or contributed to this article don’t read their own paper, can’t connect the dots or knows their career interests aren’t served by connecting the dots. Not that it likely would have gotten past their editor and management had any of them done so.

      1. DP

        Here’s the 5/2 NYT article on Obama’s latest Wall Street fundraiser.

        Here’s the part that makes it pretty clear why Obama suddenly jumped off the fence and endorsed gay marriage:

        “Obama’s finance team had already realized that if Wall Street was going to give less — potentially far less — than last time, other constituencies would have to give more. Hollywood, a reliable source of Democratic campaign cash, was looming larger in Obama’s fund-raising calculations. So were tech entrepreneurs and gay donors.”

        So what gifts is Obama about to bestow on the tech industry?

  81. chitown2020

    Obama is a disgrace. He is now on the record saying that because CHASE is such a BIG BANK….losing $2 billion in customer money is O.K……! Cramer on CNBC said he is surprised to see Obama knows the difference between banks…! WTF….? They are all ONE GIANT MEGA BANK….I wonder if Chase lost a crap load of Cramers money or Obamas money if it would be O.K because it was a BIG BANK…….?? Not only are these jerks arrogant, they are traitors….It is obvious Obama is going to allow his bankster friends to rob us into bankruptcy …. As much as I despise Bush I cant even imagine him saying that because a BIG BANK lost customer money it is o.k..,TAKE THE MONEY OUT….!

    1. Up the Ante

      “As much as I despise Bush I cant even imagine him saying that because a BIG BANK lost customer money it is o.k.. ”


      upstagin’ Booshie is a considerable effort

      1. chitown2020

        Secret Societies consider lying honorable if it helps promote their agenda……that is what most people do not realize when they believe everything they are told by politicians…They are hoodwinkers…Trust, but verify..They cause distractions from the real issue…Like what it is these FED BANKS ARE SELLING AND BUYING WITH CLIENT MONEY…..???? WORTHLESS JUNK…BACKED BY ZERO COLLATERAL…THE “WORTH” THAT BACKS THESE BANKS IS ZERO…..THEY ARE INSOLVENT…

        1. chitown2020


  82. b.

    If you are looking for a difference without distinction between the “choices” in this election: Romney is inept as a political liar, but extremely capable as a member of the predatory oligarchy. Obama is a consummate and extremely capable political liar, as well as extremely adept at serving the members of the predatory oligarchy. Obama is more competent than Romney to deliver – he had to be, because his entire life was shaped by the recognition that he was not born into the elite into which he, by “virtue” of his “talents”, belonged.

    So Romney will be more blatant with respect to serving corrupt oligarchy interests, and more effect in the short term, but we will be unable to hide what he is doing. Obama, on the other hand, serves the elites well in the long-term, and is pitch-perfect in “selling” it to the People. Inbred wealth is stupid – putting a priority on unsuistainable short-term growth – and Romney has operated in this mode his entire corporate career. As an eye-opener, Romney is preferable to Obama.

    I am long on the prospects that keeping Obama until the iceberg hits all the cans kicked down the road would offer an opportunity to discredit the D version of the consensus, but after the last decade it should be clear that nothing that the R’s and D’s do can reasonably discredit either. You do democracy with the People you have, not the People you wish for. Romney is going to run the economny into the ground faster than Obama. Whether that translates into less exploitation, or actual change, is a crapshoot.

    A footnote: After this

    nobody in the good state of Wisconsin that opposes Walker should be able to vote for any candidate that supports Obama. Barrett seems to avoid the record on this, but it is reasonable to assume that, given his chosen “Issues” he will not run against Obama. That means that Occupy Capital has already “lost” the election – the question is whether they continue to claim they wanted to win it in the first place.

    1. John Regan

      In other words, then, it’s all going down the crapper. The only question is whether fast and openly or slow and stealthily.

      Romney for the former, Obama for the latter.

      Fair point, I think. Not that I like it, you understand. LOL

  83. Jeff N

    I recommend the book “Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics” by Paul Street. It was published on Sept 2, 2008; before Obama was even elected. In it, Street explains (with examples from his entire career) why Obama is not a progressive and will enact a center-right agenda if elected.

    Examples – In 2002 and 2005 he gave speeches that only bashed the Bush administration; not the war.

    I remember not hearing what I wanted to hear from Obama during the campaign, and I kept taking the “leap of faith” that these were lies to get moderate votes, and everything would be fine after the election.

    But no – everything he said that was right-leaning before the election came to pass.

    And does anyone remember his victory speech? Not one thing about Democratic ideals/values being positive. I remember being offended; Democrats do have better ideas than Repubs.

    After reading this Street book, I now feel like *we’re* more to blame for any disappointment at Obama’s presidency.

  84. suzanne

    The time is ripe for a revolution. Occupy Wall Street was only the beginning. Vote JILL STEIN 2012.

  85. Lincoln

    Can the author fix the link under ….and his whipping for TARP. 4th paragraph, I would like to read that.

  86. Mr. B

    Obama has deceived his base and the comments here testify to that fact.

    I would consider most of the comments here to be somewhere between absurd and ludicrous from a political and economic perspective. This just means I don’t agree with almost anyone. But this dissonance and conflict is actually common ground because there are many like me (conservative, libertarian and constitutional) who are completely dissatisfied with the status quo. (For the record, I am a vociferous critic of Clinton, Bush and Obama.)

    Some have repeated the theme of a third party candidate or simply a strike on voting for a Democrat (Obama) or a Republican (Romney) (and in state and local elections). Voting both parties out is the key to the recovery of America by its people.

    In the end, government must decrease if you and I (as different as we may be) want life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. I believe the framers of the Constitution knew about and considered the issues we have today. After all, they were experts in understanding human nature. While technology has changed, human nature has not.

    While that may mean a certain amount of rugged individualism, self-reliance and personal responsibility (including for outcomes), it beats an ever advancing government bent on increasing and maintaining power at the expense of the majority of Americans.

    One thing I know, more government is not the solution. The larger our government, the more severe our problems (regardless of the party in power).

    Best to all.

    1. F. Beard

      One thing I know, more government is not the solution. Mr. B

      Agreed. It doesn’t take a big government to send out restitution checks for banker theft and for a Negative Income Tax.

      So glad we agree!

    2. Fiver

      So how, for example, would the US and global public be able to rid themselves of Monsanto’s lock on most of the developed world’s food supply without something that goes a good deal further than minimalist government?

  87. GCT

    Spot on Br. B. Many people voted for President Obama because it was a historical event and they believed in hope and change. Well some of us expected this administration to do what it is doing. Go look at his voting record. We did before we voted.

    We do indeed need to cast out both the Dems and the Repubs. We tend to blame bankers for our woes but the real blame lies with our corrupt politicians enabling banks to do what they do. I hope some here have learned a lesson but most will still vote down party lines and call each other names. The politicians are laughing all the way to DC.

  88. JTFaraday

    “Wow, that POV coincides nicely with that of the capitalists, huh, petit-doctor?”

    Petit-docteur… My, this thread is really something else.

  89. M

    Still bewildered by this.

    Most of the ‘scathing takedowns’ here seem to be of the order “Obama said X! But actually a slightly weakened form of X!!!1” For fuck’s sake, calm down before you form a mirror image of GOP blogger hyperbole.

    Even the character assassination at the beginning of the piece makes no sense: Obama said something vague about his time in NY but actually left out random, uninteresting details? At what point does this rise to some kind of dastardly malevolence in anyone’s eyes?

    Nor is the policy inveiglement all that much better: Obama promised rights for TSA workers! And he got… some rights! Not all of them! Does anyone here who isn’t tripping really believe this counts as a broken promise in the context of an increasingly partisan and difficult Congress?

    Which planet are you all living on?

    1. chitown2020

      M…What this basically boils down to is that people are sick and tired of paying for BANK FRAUD….They are also sick of the secrets, the cover ups, the lies, fraud and deception by our elected officials. People are losing everything because of what the politicians have allowed and are still allowing these banks to do. The President is blatantly lying, arrogantly cavorting with, and covering up for our enemies. When people lose everything, they lose it.

        1. Fiver


          Thanks. Appreciate the sentiment.

          When it comes to “comrades”, though, methinks you’ve confused me with someone else.

          I’m a democratic socialist, or more accurately, an “eco-socialist”, meaning someone who believes we either agree to equitably share the colossal burden of transforming the global economy into something sustainable, or perish in a spiral of resource wars and ecological madness.

          Essentially, a “brother’s keeper” Christian (without the literal “Son of God” motif) with a hard-boiled realism vis a vis the prospects for a US, Western, and global economy premised on unlimited consumption and infinite resilience of the biosphere – for example, the oceans, which sustain us all, with be essentially dead inside of 50 years. Not a cheery thought I know, but that’s the trajectory and we to date remain in virtually total denial. It took 150 years to grow about 6 billion people from oil (it took a hundred thousand years to reach the first 1 billion). The challenge we all face is at least as great as the last Ice Age.

          So I keep chipping away. Thanks again.

  90. Fiver

    Solid piece along with some excellent comments (and I read several hundred). I would like to add a cent or 2:

    We are well into what will in retrospect be seen as an elite-driven, coldly calculated “changing of the guard” with respect to the official, MSM-distributed version of Western politics.

    As we all know, this politics casts all in the most simplistic of terms, an either/or world of left/right or liberal/conservative, and since early 2011, it has been evident that TPTB had decided that the “far right” had served its purpose(Obama absorbs the anger, not Wall Street), and was going to be reeled back in for some R and R. The “whackos”, starting with Beck and Trump, were dispatched in rapid succession like so many clay pigeons, leaving the hapless Romney’s political compass comically destroyed in the process.

    Obama is going to win – maybe big. Even if Reps retain the House, there is no way they will repeat the last 4 years of cartoon “No”. They are going to revert to form – all spending is good spending so long as the money makes it into the right pockets. There will be a sizable stimulus package of some sort and shiny but sickly versions of a few other measures advocated by more “progressive” Dems. These will be hailed by elite Heads across the board, with none happier than an eager Fed and slavering Wall Street. The leverage the US has created over its competitors, combined with a 2-year spending binge with free money will finally deliver the bubble they’ve all prayed for. In roughly late 2014, it blows to bits because nothing of importance was fixed.

    In Europe, German banks have been desperately attempting to avoid being the ones pounded by the only “hard money” that matters, a devastating loss. That effort was doomed as soon as the Fed/Geithner/Obama provided the means for the same financial hoodlums that created the 2008 crisis to rip the Eurozone debt pyramid to bits with regulatory impunity.

    While obviously the European situation is much more complex, the “far right” solution was also rolled out for all to see, and to similar effect – its own total discredit. But again, and critically, with mission accomplished – the politicians took all the heat while the financial/corporate globalist elites ensured more than a decade’s bogus or extracted “gains” were heavily fortified.

    The rollback of this “far right” in Europe began with the ECB moves last fall in tandem with the installation of Goldman technocrats in Greece and Italy – the latter acts serving to increase public opposition. ECB and other Central Bank operations floated a massive rally, while preparing for the political “tide” to turn in various elections, the last being the one that sees Merkel retired. In the meantime, the ownership of much of Europe has changed hands or is up for grabs.

    So the faces are a-changing. The entire situation is about to be re-defined and re-scripted but this time with the full-throated language and policy package of the centre-right-centre “progressive” – a big blast of “coordinated” global stimulus is pretty much assured, setting off a false-dawn mini-boom in the US, and apparent “growth” in Europe. But the fundamentals remain. China, Japan and Europe are all in trouble. Just when the return of “Good Times” is on the cover of Time, Obama gets to oversee the bust in late 2014, but this time, there’s going to be nowhere to hide politically for the elites. Nowhere. That could get more than a little dicey, but perhaps there is one chance for real progressives.

    Obama positively relishes being President and has convinced himself he is a fabulous fit for the job. It is just possible he could be turned against Wall Street if his Presidency was at stake.

    Hmmmm. Just what was friend Jamie of Jamie’s Privateer Morgan up to? Why such an amateur job from the Scion of Risk? Why such a transparently pathetic performance, such a riot of fake self-flagellation and firing of purported boobs who couldn’t possibly be boobs? What did regulators know? Who else knew? Why…?

    1. Jon W

      You think you’re a good writer, but you’re not. It’s gobbledegook for conspiracy nuts. Just state the facts and leave the wannabe Op-ed tendencies for your blog.

  91. proximity1

    Several people have asked explicitly or implicitly what else might be done or what next might be done?

    I think one useful step would be to try and take a step back, so to speak, and reconsider things from a more fundamental viewpoint.

    We could ask more basic questions, discuss more basic issues and begin by addressing facts, not opinions about facts, nor our mere unsupported viewpoint. We could notice and attend to issues that are usually left out of discussions such as this. Here we have dozens of varying and conflicting opinions clashing and competing for attention. In them, the disputants generally offer no orienting fact set, no explantion of purpose or intent, no delineation of what he hopes to accomplish in posting his views, arguments, etc.

    We could step back from that approach and ask such questions as,

    What are the goals our discussion aims to advance? And how–very specifically– does it or might it advance them?

    What are the fundamental obstacles? How are they maintained, and what would be the best ways to address them? That is, “What insights, understanding do we need but lack? Where can we find it and how can be encourage others to take the time and trouble to acquaint themselves with these matters?

    In this medium, in these discussions, each of us is largely without much idea of the knowledge and capacities with which those reading and participating here begin.

    But we could, for example, note and state that to a very large degree, much of the public outside this space, this blog, is essentially lost and wandering helplessly in a set of circumstances they neither made nor understand very much about.

    Regular readers here are in general somewhat better off. They have at least some conception of the essential issues and problems but that basic knowledge is not expressly stated; so we don’t know, for example, how much agreement exists here and in what particulars it is found–or not found.

    Where, if not in a blog such as this one, can any average person turn for a start at gaining an orientation on the social and political issues which are at the heart of our current difficulties? We should make it part of the objective here to provide an answer to that question, to provide pointers toward that orientation and those resources for the readers who come here without them.

    Clearly, all the organization, time, and resources are on one and only one “side” of the divide. An existing power-structure spares no effort or expense to find, identify, select, train and promote that part of the talented public on which it shall depend in the near and longer-term future.

    As for similar efforts on the parts of opposing points of view there is?—there is basically nothing. No organization, no effort, no attempt to inform and enable any individual or group to effectively challenge and counter the well-organized and equipped forces which constitute those who most benefit from the status quo and who have every reason and incentive and instrument to help themselves not keep and maintain that status quo but advance its controls and resources beyond their present conditions.

    We might, here, at the very least, offer direction and guidance to these lost and confused. There are those who are going to mock that aim, call it “elitist”, “arrogant”, “condescending”, and any other terms of derision one can come up with. That ridicule has to be borne and dismissed for the distraction that it is. For, frankly, I see no other resources ready to give direction and informative references to the many who are, while confused and frustrated, ready to attempt to understand the real social issues which confront them and the sources and precedents of these issues, how they may be best understood and what they mean for the great majority of the public–that is, in other words, “What the ‘stakes’ are, why they are and what the ordinary public can and should know about them in order for there to be any hope of producing an effective coordinated response at some point, near or distant, in the future.

    We can go on discussing and debating the pros and cons of Barack Obama until the next election comes and goes. Then we can resume the same round of claims and counter-claims after we’re confronted with the electoral outcome. But what effectively could and should come from more of the same?

    We must start asking better, more thoughtful questions and producing better, more thoughtful discussion, reasoning and analysis of those questions because those who favor the status quo, those whose interests that status quo serves, are very well organized, committed, well-provisioned and they have very clear aims and objectives and the practical means to achieve them.

    “We, the ‘others’,” their opponents, on the other hand, are not only divided and disorganized, “we”–that is, many of us, particularly outside this forum, have neither a clear understanding of the issues and the stakes involved, nor any idea of where to turn to find that.

    After accepting the fact that all of that will require time and concerted effort, we need some basic agreement about terms, about issues, about priorities, about problems and their sources, about resources for gaining shared insight and knowledge of these things—we need this as a prerequisite to just about anything else in the way of progress.

  92. LeeAnne

    stick around. your questions will be answer and you’ll learn -if you’re a good critical reader.

  93. Adams

    Thanks, Yves. Don’t know if you were naked when you wrote this, but you have laid bare Barry’s perfidy.

  94. HopeYouChangeIntoShit

    I COMPLETELY SUPPORT Barack Hussein Obama!

    That is because I believe that NO ONE other than he will be able to achieve the dream that all we South Americans have; namely of of witnessing how the U.S. C-O-L-L-A-P-S-E-S into a well-deserved dung-heap of putrid stinking krap.

    After all, Americans have AMPLY proven their willingness to commit war crimes, crimes against humanity, torture, rape, murder, illegal foreign invasions, massive international financial fraud, kidnapping, and several dozen OTHER atrocities.
    GRACIAS OBAMA! La reputa madre que te pario a vos y a TODOS los americanos bastardos torturadores degenerados.

  95. time4truth

    Great article. Obama will go down as the greatest disappointment in American Presidential history. This is not a democracy. You are merely presented with Candidates hand chosen and manipulated. Think of these politicians for what they really are – paid actors with hollow words. Actions speak louder than words and for this they are silent. They only solution is revolution which will be impossible in the new technologically advanced police state. Third parties are not an option as the barriers have been erected. Any attempt at revlolution will result in another created event similar to 911 – the first step in preparations for the coming economoic crisis. The next step will be the continued false internet attacks followed by more control of the internet in the name of security and control. Orwell was right he was just off by 30 years.

    1. ms_xeno

      [snicker] Nothing “extreme” about drone bombings, gleefully killing single-payer (when the majority of U.S. citizens actually wanted it), bank bailouts, spying on your own citizens for their “crime” of being anti-war, treating women like subhuman morons who can’t be trusted to take Plan B (rejecting outright the opinion of your own medical experts in the process), etc.

      Sure, Buddy. It’s all so calm and collected and “centrist.” Only expressing disapproval for it (and Obama) is extreeeeeeeeeeeeeeme.

  96. Jay Hollenkamp

    He’s a centrist, and our system requires centrists to jut to one side for elections. Your standards applied to this system only passes extremists. Extremists clog or get majority and pass counterproductive legislation.

  97. T. H. Endgame

    I hope there’ s a rape-free zone in the comments section for this blog. And the examples in the article don’t support the drastic conclusion. Read the article about his early days in NY, as just one example. Where’s the promised smoking gun? You can look for it, but you’ll have to look pretty hard, because it’s not there. Nearly every source has nothing but praise. The worst you can find is one guy who says Obama embellished his memory of one job. Please.

    1. reprobate

      Huh? Did you watch the video? That alone is damning. Or read this post?

      As for the New York reference, you have it backwards. The Times made it clear (in a very mild way) that Obama didn’t represent his history in New York accurately in his bio. Even if the misrepresentations weren’t earth shaking, why would someone do that in such a visible way? This speaks to a well established casualness with the truth.

  98. Hugo Stiglitz

    This post is a perfect example of why Yves and NC are indispensable, and, as usual with such a stellar post, a long, informative, lively and varied comments thread.

  99. hidflect

    The whole gang look, act and are a brotherhood of con artistes. Holder, Axelrod, Rahm, Geitner. All have the same manner of expression. Flat, blank yet faintly smug, ever slightly smiling but masked. Strained to stiffness designed to only need lasting until the public exposure is finished.

  100. jorod

    The real enemy is the professional politician class. Put in term limits. It will end most of the corruption. Prevent people like Biden and Obama holding up the taxpayers.

  101. Harry

    I’m not bothered by the fact that I don’t agree with much of what this article accuses Obama of being. What annoys the crap out of me is this author’s vitriolic tone which makes our president sound like a third world dictator. Its only purpose is to scare and infuriate readers. This does very little to further a totally warranted conversation about Obama’s flawed first term.

  102. Eve's Myth

    Say, “Yves,” shouldn’t you be telling your braindead zombie followers that as recently as 9 months ago you were caught in the D vs R, let’s support the Ds trap?

    Shouldn’t you be telling about your supposedly evolving view?

    Or are you just trying to be the deeply entrenched insider who knows all?

    Long essays belaboring the obvious? What an insider!

Comments are closed.