"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Jun 21, 2011

You Decide...


"Louis Farrakhan, speaking at the American Clergy Leadership Conference on May 28, lambasted President Barack Obama over the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and U.S. military intervention in Libya, calling him an 'assassin' and a 'murderer.'

'We voted for our brother Barack, a beautiful human being with a sweet heart,' Farrakhan said, in a video making the rounds on the internet. But he has turned into someone else, Farrakhan told the crowd. 'Now he's an assassin.'

Or this:

"President Barack Obama told Democratic Party donors tonight that the bond between the U.S. and Israel is 'unbreakable.'

'The United States and Israel will always be stalwart allies and friends,' the president told about 80 people at a dinner for Americans in Support of a Strong U.S.-Israel Relationship. 'That bond is unbreakable and Israel’s security will always be at the top tier of considerations of how America manages its foreign policy.'..." 

I don't know why men such as Cornell West and Louis Farrakhan have to preface their condemnations with assertions about Obama's former goodness. I don't find it particularly credible. People who seek the Presidency and who have any chance of achieving that office probably have a good idea what it is they want and how they're going to get it. They know what the job entails, which is why a candidate with any chance of obtaining the position will so often run on his ability to be a good, dependable, patriotic Commander in Chief.

It's what Hillary Clinton did. It's what John McCain did. It's what Barack Obama did. I mean, this is a guy who literally practiced the role on his way to the office, and continued to perfect its outward appearances once he achieved it:

"Never a soldier himself, but suddenly their commander-in-chief, President Barack Obama wanted to learn the job from the ground up. 

Including the salute. 

Under the guidance of an expert, aides say Obama privately repeated his salute over and over again until he got it down. In a testament to how sensitive the White House is about the commander in chief practicing this basic military gesture, aides would not say who taught Obama how to salute. But every time he uses it, Obama is trying to convey an insider’s respect for the armed forces without saying a word. 

'That attention to detail, that focus on the outward manifestation of what we expect, is compelling,' said retired Gen. Paul Eaton, who advised Obama during the presidential campaign. 'Whoever worked with him on that did a pretty good job.'

Obama’s evolution as commander-in-chief during his first year in office largely involved proving that he was up to the job – that a 48-year-old former law professor and one-term U.S. senator who campaigned on ending the Iraq war had the resolve to lead the military through some of its toughest years in recent history..."

The guy didn't just want the job. He wanted the soldiers who would in turn take his orders to believe he was equal to the task of giving them. He wanted to simulate, and have them give their faith in return. He wanted - and it's no stretch to assume he still wants it - Uncle Sam's professional murder squad to read his gestures and bearing and believe deeply that he deserved the job of sending them off to smash, rape and kill.

I find that difficult to reconcile with a man of sweet and innocent heart.

But that's just me.


I'm not black. I don't know what it's like to have to convey to a domestically captured and oppressed nation forged and shaped by slavery, poverty, Jim Crow and the war on drugs how it is that the first Commander in Chief who looks like them is in fact just another Great White Father in all but appearance.

I can look from my relatively isolated position on the hybrid border between minority and parochial school cautionary tale and just come to the conclusion that Barack Obama made his peace with murder, war and oppression a long, long time ago. I can write something that flirts with insensitivity - perhaps, that he is Bill Clinton in black face - and put it down and move on because I don't have any history which defines my ratio of melanin per square inch of skin as a moral dilemma and a sign that I belong at the bottom of the heap. I belong instead to the tribes of the Noble Defeated, like Gaul under Rome, mythic Israel in Bondage, or the rump remnant of the Tsalagi.

Soon, I hear, we will be taking applications from among the leftover Palestinians.

Maybe it's necessary to argue that Barack Obama could have been a good man if only he'd been stronger, thereby placing his potential in competition with his kinesis in order to illustrate, by the very contrast in motion, that he's not a good man and therefore loses claim to the loyalty of a people.

I don't know.

On the one hand, we have Farrakhan's willingness to move from an imaginary Obama to the real one who so willingly murders the enemies of the monstrous American machine. On the other, we have Obama, who could if he wanted to say seven words and change the world:

"The Israeli occupation of Palestine is wrong."

I know he won't. People who want the job he has don't say those words. And they probably never will. Not even in the silence of their waking dreams.

Which leaves us, I guess, with wondering how an imaginary good man became the very real murderer we get to see on the teevee. If we're lucky, it might have us asking, perhaps, how we've never evolved beyond the belief that power corrupts.

Power doesn't corrupt. It's an attractor. It draws out those who want it, and maybe more than a few who need it.

You know how I know this?

Barack Obama could have won the job to lose it. He could have spent four years guaranteeing that no one would bundle him a hundred dollars, never mind ten thousand, ever again. He could have called the prison system what it is: a continuation of Jim Crow and a sustained, organized, over budgeted and increasingly privatized criminalization of poverty. He could have scheduled fourteen hundred and sixty separate press conferences, and devoted each one to a different discussion of the sad record of American history. The drug war. The fire sale of the Commons. The perils of regulatory capture. The militarization of education. Predatory insurance practices. The systemic and relentless religious, institutional and industry betrayal of women. Neoliberal structural adjustment as privateering. Environmental niche collapse. The dying oceans. The connection between markets and the death of the bees. What that means for hungry people everywhere. High sugar, low nutrient "affordable" foods and the sacrifice of two generations of children. Race. Gender. Class.

You get the picture.

He didn't do that, did he?


You decide.

Was he a good man who should have known better, but was corrupted by power, or did he long ago make the choice to become the kind of man who could whitewash the brutal Israeli occupation and the American funding of it on his way to a thousand dollar a plate dinner and the dreams of untroubled sleep?


JM said...

Farahkan's also praised Hitler, so that shit ain't new.

mp said...

suppose you're preaching to the choir here (nature of blogging), but this is good stuff.

Will Shetterly said...

They say Obama was good to justify their gullibility. Adolph Reed Jr didn't fall for it. He nailed Obama in 1996: "In Chicago… we’ve gotten a foretaste of the new breed of foundation-hatched black communitarian voices; one of them, a smooth Harvard lawyer with impeccable do-good credentials and vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics, has won a state senate seat on a base mainly in the liberal foundation and development worlds. His fundamentally bootstrap line was softened by a patina of the rhetoric of authentic community, talk about meeting in kitchens, small-scale solutions to social problems, and the predictable elevation of process over program—the point where identity politics converges with old-fashioned middle-class reform in favoring form over substance."

Will Shetterly said...

PS. It is my theory that the most apologetic of the folks who finally figured out that Obama is what he's always been are the folks who fall prey to identity politics, which, much though I admire him, certainly includes Cornell West.

David K Wayne said...

He might be anti-semitic, but he didn't praise Hitler. That's network news bullshit.

As for Obama, he's as much of an actor-stooge as Reagan (so was Bush II, but his casting agents fucked up). If he did anything remotely sympathetic to Afro-Americans, the media would eat him for breakfast. He's a creation of the media, so he's as subject to its 'rules' as a videogame avatar. Commentators - black, white, left, liberal or right - are just playing a sophisticated videogame, expecting 'interactive' closure without knowing that the rules, and likeliest results, are pre-programmed. I'm sure if Duke Nukem or Super Mario looked and sounded like me, I'd invest a lot more faith in the character's success.

JM said...

Yes, he did:

he's also pretty misogynist too:

Anonymous said...

He said Hitler raised up the German ppl which is undeniably true. He didn't glorify the holocaust.

Jack Crow said...

My response, by way of the post above. Thanks for the food for thought.

David K Wayne said...

JM -

Please try and read whole paragraphs, pay attention to verbs as well as nouns, and relate sentences - words even - to the ones before and after. It's really, really starting to bug the fuck out of me.

"Wicked killers" and "evil" don't mean "I love the guy!" And Nat Hentoff saying "black Hitler" doesn't translate into Farrakhan saying "Yes I am!"

Jonathan Versen said...

Jack, the SF author Frank Herbert, of all people, said the same thing about power attracting precisely the kind of people who were predisposed to misuse it.

Jack Crow said...


I confess an enduring influence, in Herbert.

Wish I could stand the computer for longer periods of time than are possible to me right now, because I'd love to discuss it further.

Hoping these clusters pass. so much I've neglected.

Anonymous said...

JM's batting 1.000 for Team Podesta.