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Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Careful of that "god forbid" John - my money's on Adolph Petraeus being the next appealing face for fascism, which could leave these 4 years of Big O looking almost appealing if the warmed up military machine then gets turned on the citizens of "The Homeland"...

HOW does one argue against this "O. is just misled, not evil" mindset? I know so many pro-peace people who actually believe he's helpless to oppose his war-minded advisors. (He would love to end the slaughter, but they won't let him.) What to say to combat that idiocy?

He would love to end the slaughter, but they won't let him.

The argument often put forth (by those who believe that Obama would, despite all evidence to the contrary, genuinely like to end the war and withdraw the troops and help the Palestinians and all that good stuff) is that, if he tried it, the National Security State would arrange a suitable accident.

To which my reply is, well, risk is part of the job description. You want to go down in history? Go down in a spray of blood, man, if that's what it takes. You'll get a much better-looking memorial than most of us will ever get.

...the National Security State...

No no no, don't allow NE his euphemism; "National Security State" is actually a meaningful term outside of his conspiracy fantasies. Call it what it is: the shadow government (and whenever possible, add mocking variants of "omnipotent").

My reply is the same as yours, and that's just one of the many ways in which this notion is irrelevant to how we judge Democratic presidents (the adjective is critical since this excuse never applies to Republicans, who are always cast by the mind-reading Democrat spinning the theory as willing co-conspirators with the all-powerful cabal). I may write up the full rebuttal some day just to have all the responses collected in one place, if I ever feel like wasting a few precious hours of my life.

Oh, and Rosemary:

HOW does one argue against this "O. is just misled, not evil" mindset?

There's not likely to be anything you can say that will convince anyone making this argument, since they're speaking from a near-religious faith that Democrats have good intentions (and Republicans have bad intentions). But my usual response is that it just doesn't matter. I don't care what Obama, Bush, Saddam Hussein, Clinton, Pinochet, Sharon et al are secretly feeling in their heart of hearts while they're committing their crimes; I just care about the crimes.

I like this blog...

Is it really helpful to think of O as an "enemy" though, or any politician for that matter? I'm really asking. At this point I feel like since politicians will always be corrupt, it's hardly any good to feel as though politicians will always be our enemies. Doesn't it rather become more fitting to think of them as pinballs who respond only to the threat of loss of wealth or power? I'm for anything opposing the President and all of his nefarious actions. But if he's our enemy, the government will always be our enemy... Don't know if I'm comfortable with that.

Hey there, it's been awhile since I checked in at Distant Ocean, and so of course, wow, you have several very powerful posts starting right at the top of your page. Nice writing, even though of course the subject matter is appalling.
I just got this e-mail from Jason Leopold, writing to beg donations for the allegedly Leftie "Truthout" site. Jason Leopold cites Left political complacency as specifically a funding problem:

I want to share with you an experience I found to be incredibly disturbing; it's something I think you should be concerned about as well. In the days after Barack Obama was sworn into office, I had several conversations with colleagues, friends and activists who told me that the election of a Democrat, and one as charismatic as Barack Obama, totally removed the urgency of supporting independent media. These people believed that simply by having a Democrat in the White House, as well as Democrats controlling both Houses of Congress, we no longer needed to fret about all the issues that had concerned us for the past eight years. I think they believed, naively, Democrats were going to swiftly end the wars, close down Guantanamo, repeal the Patriot Act and provide us with the real health care reform we were promised. In other words, we were now going to be taken care of because "our side" was in control.
I found this to be laughable - I thought it was a joke. However, David Swanson, a progressive activist whom I admire and respect, drove the point home for me during a recent interview. He said the election led to the disbanding of several progressive groups, such as United for Peace and Justice, because funding completely dried up. ...
I don't need to tell you wars are still being waged, Guantanamo is still open and we're a long way from universal health care...

Just to add to the chorus... the problem discussed here, Left political complacency, isn't specifically an Obama problem. I occasionally volunteer my time for the Surfrider Foundation, an environmental nonprofit, and my older friends there note that this is what always happens with a Democratic administration, since at least the time that Carter took over from Ford (doubly so when Clinton took over from Bush I). As you, John, once noted about the Center for Constitutional Rights... the public donations dry up the very minute a Democrat gets in office. Predictably. The rank-and-file Left assumes the leader it's elected is going to fix all the problems now, so it stops personally fighting the problems, let alone challenging the leader.

...so in some ways -- as John and several posters on this site imply -- we get the government that we deserve. Complacency somehow became part of the definition of "Hope" and "Change".

Is it really helpful to think of O as an "enemy" though, or any politician for that matter?

It's just a word, and you can choose one that you're more comfortable with. The point is that it's critical not only to recognize that he's not an ally, but that on almost every issue he's the opposite.

But if he's our enemy, the government will always be our enemy...

That's not what I was saying (and I'm not even sure what would have led you there). For example, there've been times when the Bolivian government was rightly considered the enemy of its people, but that certainly isn't the case now. But when the government is acting counter to our values and interests, it's crucial to see that for what it is and act accordingly.

Thanks for replying. I guess what I'm saying is that Obama is probably the best we can have in the WH until at least 2016. So until like.... 2015 the best we can do is push him in the right direction.

I'm having a bit of difficulty expressing myself, as you pointed out, but I'm arguing for an approach between Kucinich's pathetic desire to protect the Obama presidency, and your implication that said presidency should simply be opposed.

I'm picking nits, and as you say, it's just a word. Just not one I like, given the situation...

I get what you're saying, but would you have said the best we could do with George Bush was to push him in the right direction? I'm guessing not--and I know most people would never have said that, because Bush was viewed fundamentally differently from Obama. And that's what I'm saying is a serious mistake.

In any case, Obama's shown no sign that he can be pushed in the right direction on any topic--just the opposite, in fact. And while his rhetoric is often encouraging (much like Bush's), his actions invariably put the lie to it.

Obama and Bush are both playing on the same team, and it's not ours.

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