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Thursday, December 29, 2011


I find no evidence whatsoever of all this talk of how "smart", how "brilliant" Obama is. All I've ever seen or herd from him is middlebrow mediocrity, petit bourgeois pablum. I think the thing that tipped me off to what a prefabricated product he is was a list he released of his "favorite songs". Utterly conventional, a half-hour's programming for a Clear Channel "adult contemporary" station. So when I hear people swooning about all his supposed 11th dimensional chess, I think, does he even know how to castle queen-side?

"The eternal now". It seems he has internalized Obama's "legal philosophy" for plutocrats of "Let's just look forward".

When I saw 'nincompoopery' in the title, I knew this could only be good!
Thank you for another year of hilarity and insightful commentary.

"Not a dime's worth a difference" applies as much to party loyalists as party candidates. Right-wingers do not have a monopoly on making dumb-ass predictions and then pretending they didn't.

Let's not be too hard on "Naïve" Lindorff. I, too, in former times, had excessively high hopes for the better angels of Obama's nature. To wit, a quote from my own eponymous blog:


Is Barack Obama a Snake in the Grass?

I can see why those of us with limited perception (i.e., everyone, approximately) might think that Obama is a member in good standing of the War Party. He talks like one. They treat him like one. He has the endorsement of Colin Powell, you betcha.

But follow me through the steps of a Gedankenexperiment. Let us suppose Obama is dedicated to gaining power by any means necessary. Clearly, the road to the White House is barred to anyone who does not welcome the embrace of the MICFiC (military industrial congressional financial corporate media complex). Let us reduce our occupation force in Iraq, says Barack - so we can put more boots on the ground with guns in their hands pointed at the inhabitants of Afghanistan. This is just what a suitable prospective Commander in Chief in Charge of Killing Foreigners would say.

But although Obama says things like this with apparent sincerity, what if he's lying to us - for our own good? What if he really is a Christian - not a Christianist, like Gov. Palin, but someone who tries to live according to the teachings of Jesus?

Recall Matthew 10:16 - the King James Version, which some believe quotes Jesus's exact words, if only English had been invented at the time, is:

"Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves."

As Brian said, "Blessed are the cheesemakers" - which should be understood to include all those involved in the production and distribution of dairy products.

On the other hand, maybe the following verse, following the format of Lewis Carroll's The Mad Gardener's Song, is a better prediction of the future:

She thought she saw a candidate
Who'd put an end to war.
She looked again, and found it was
The Same Game as Before.
"If that's the way it goes," she said,
"Then what is voting for?"

UPDATE April 6, 2009: Current evidence suggests that President Obama is in fact in sympathy with the prevailing views of the foreign policy and financier establishments. It's hard to make predictions, especially about the future, as famed sports figure Lawrence Berra has said.

Thanks much, gfod.

mistah charley, I knew this posting might incur some friendly fire, but it's friendly only in the sense that I like you (and others it might tweak); in 2008 you were fighting on the wrong side, and the support you and others gave Obama made it that much easier for him to back the Gaza invasion, accelerate drone strikes, and all the rest of it. I'd hope that you recognize that you could and should have known better, and take responsibility for that--unlike Mr. Lindorff, who went from pimping Obama to critiquing him without any acknowledgment of his previous role, just as he went from dismissing talk of a third party as "an infantile diversion" to lobbying for one himself. Either way, what I've said here (and I'll be saying more of it) needs to be said.

You are a stern taskmaster, John. I wasn't exactly "fighting" on the wrong side, although it is true I voted for Obama/Biden instead of McCain/Palin. Do you really think that if I had done anything else - or if I and the one million (to pick a wildly inflated number) registered voters across the nation, in our teeming metropolises and Norman Rockwell-esque small towns, who happen to share my general perspective, had done anything else - it would have resulted in moderating the future actions of the Commander in Chief of Killing Foreigners? You'll note that, even before the election, I raised the possibility that it would be The Same Game as Before. You can't get to A Different Game from here - you have to go to somewhere else first.

I also agree with D, by the way - there's no evidence Obama is particularly smart.

The guy who knew exactly what Obama was, months before the election was Arthur Silber. From 7th May 2008


"You may wish to engage in magical thinking -- as even liberals and progressives like to do these days, when they repeat with straight faces that Barack Obama's goal is "changing the very nature of politics" -- but deluding yourself that miracles will happen will not alter the nature or direction of our political system. Liberals and progressives correctly and severely criticize the Republicans for believing in such miracles with regard to Iraq, yet when it comes to their chosen savior on the domestic front, they themselves now sound like the worst kind of fundamentalist. Their capacity for critical thinking and analysis has vanished entirely, and they are capable of believing anything. Such people are exceptionally dangerous, especially to all the rest of us; I will be exploring some of the more particular dangers involved later in this series."

"Fighting" was a continuation of the "friendly fire" metaphor, but you did more than just vote for him; you wrote a post laying out reasons why people should ignore his worst rhetoric, endorsements, etc and assume that he was actually their secret ally, giving them an argument that they (and you) could use to rationalize away some of the most disturbing things about him. And you were saying similar things elsewhere (even after he'd started "giving orders to kill civilians and all that"). In other words, you were actively running interference for him.

About "do you really think that if I had done anything else"...c'mon, mistah charley, you're better than that argument. I participated in the shutdown of the Port of Oakland a few weeks back; do you really think if I hadn't gone it would have mattered? I've been to dozens of anti-war marches; do you really think if I'd stayed home it would have changed anything? I worked on behalf of the Greens and Nader in 2000; do you really think the hours I spent on sidewalks talking to people ultimately made any difference? Etc, etc. We each have our contributions to make which on their own are unlikely to have any noticeable effect, but taken together they're meaningful indeed, and each of us is responsible for deciding how we're going to allocate that small measure of influence. You're obviously not personally 100% responsible for anything Barack Obama has done--nobody is except the man himself--but you are 100% responsible for doing your small part to make it easier for him to do it.

Thank you John. For this blog and for you.

Mr. Mistah Charley, PhD:

While I'm tempted to make a longer argument refuting the "do you really think that if I had done anything else" notion, Mr. Caruso does so much more succinctly so I won't. Instead I will nitpick on the statement "I voted for Obama/Biden instead of McCain/Palin." The words in the statement imply that those are the only two options when deciding how to vote (I won't claim that that is the meaning that you intended to get across but it is what the words themselves imply). This is demonstrably not true as the only limit on the number of options when one goes to vote is ones imagination and each different option has different effects. Voting for a minor party has a different effect then voting for either of the major parties (even if different people disagree with what that effect is).

I assert that if we live in a democracy the only rational voting choice is one in which one actually supports and if we don't live in a democracy and one believes in democracy then one is foolish to vote for the perpetuation of the political structures. If we don't live in a democracy and one votes for a major party, one is voting against democracy. Anybody who votes for the lesser of two evils is in fact voting for aristocracy.

Mr. Caruso:

My primary frustration with someone like Mr. Lindorff is that it seams to me like they think they've discovered this brand new revolutionary tool called a minor party: that it's some novel idea of theirs. This is insulting to those of use who have worked hard for minor parties and/or minor party candidates. It's also disingenuous. There are numerous third parties each of which work for something different (and almost every contested political position has more then two candidates running for it in any election). Chances are there is already a minor party Lindorff would support if he would bother to actually look at minor party politics instead of making his arrogant pronouncement. I don't know if having disparate third parties to the left of the democrats or having a unified third party to the left of the democrats is more effective at changing the democratic party (my own guess is that having multiple third parties is more effective and that it doesn't matter because I believe in democracy) but an intellectually honest Mr. Lindorff would take an honest look at existing minor party politics and would talk about supporting a minor party in the context in which they exist as opposed to something new that has to be invented from whole cloth.

I don't think I disagree with you but my reaction to a story like Mr. Lindorff's is different then yours. I think it's reason to celebrate whenever someone rejects a major party in favor of a "third" party. If that person has an audience that trusts him enough that individuals question their own loyalty to a major party that I think that's more positive then negative even if Mr. Lindorff is ignorant about minor parties and writes from an ignorant perspective.

I understand your frustration. Mr. Lindorff is being intellectually dishonest in many ways. They way that frustrates you in your post is just not one that frustrates me. When I read, or listen to, something I judge the argument on that argument absent of what the person has previously wrote, or said. I take someone's track record into account from judging how much authority I should put into somebody on factual claims (and I acknowledge that I am too naive on this matter) but not on the validity of an argument based on claims I agree with. Since I acknowledge not everybody themselves treats arguments as critically as I do (or think I do), I acknowledge that what you've expressed frustration with is a problem but it doesn't personally frustrate me and I'm happy that someone is (apparently) abandoning the democratic party especially if he convinces others to do the same.

In Gratitude
Benjamin Arthur Schwab

The worst part of Lindorff is that he continually claims to live "in Philadelphia." This tagline is even appended to his recent CounterPunch article with a photo of the barn on his multiple acres, located somewhere in Pennsylvania pretty darn far from the city.

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