Posts tagged ‘Obama’


Presidential Politics
In 2008 I worked hard to elect him.
In 2009 I was heartbroken,
in 2010 — numb.
In 2012 I “threw my vote away”.
On inauguration night, 2013, I dreamed of Barack Obama.
It was anxious, conflicted, and short.
Second chances? Maybe.
But I am again heartbroken,
that even now  my dreams
are strangers to audacity.

A Dream Deferred?

Maybe an official of some Asian consulate has read Harold Meyerson’s column on the President’ s untapped army. “A paper tiger,” the bored functionary sighs.

What is... and what should be

What is... and what should be

That reader might be more perceptive than anyone at present realizes.  An e-mail  list is not an army. A year ago millions of people like myself were indeed “fired up and ready to go” knocking on doors,  and telephones,  and credit cards. Electronic networking was a terrific tool for turning ferment  into  political mobilization.  But I believe that Obama’s first six months in office has demobilized —  or at least immobilized — a significant part of his army:

Health care — If a “government option” is the extreme left of the debate (possibly even to be sacrificed through negotiation, and subject to mixed messages from the administration) the battle is already largely lost. Sure I favor single payer, but if it’s not even in the discussion, then the “progressive” side is at the mercy of insurance companies and related forces.

The Economy — The effort and money devoted to saving capitalism from itself dwarfs everything done for everyone else.  ’nuff said on the subject, except that…

War and Peace issues are  proceeding as promised, with a shrinking mess in Iraq and a growing one in Afghanistan/Pakistan. The economics of this “smarter”  superpower warfighting will cripple  progressive domestic initiatives, i.e.,  those that get past the snarls of Republicans, blue dogs, and the lobbyists they pay attention to.

Hope, by its nature, never entirely dies. Obama tapped into and became the symbol of a pwerful impulse. In office, he has blunted it.  Meanwhile the raving Right has increasing become the respectable opposition. This foretells failure at the top and dangerous mass polarization below. I do not want this to happen. But it seems that at this point Obama’s vaunted confidence  has led him into dangerous waters, and perhaps blinded him to necessary corrections of course. Read more…

The Washington Post and Israel

Today’s lead Washington Post editorial rejoices over the withdrawl of the putatively pro-Arab Charles Freeman as appointed head of Obama’s National Intelligence council. As the post now has online “debates” with the editorial board, I jumped in to say “shame on you” to the Post:

First read Post editorials every day, noticing the even tone and careful writing, even on positions you oppose. Then notice the patronizing slop that begins with “latest failed nominee peddles a conspiracy theory” in this editorial

Why? Because all debates start with assumptions of what is reasonable and respectable. And the best “spin” is that which reinforces a desired environment of assumptions.

It is only in the past few years that challenging what the Israeli Government and AIPAC et al. say is good for Israel has become even half-respectable. That is why the editorial can smugly equate the Israel Lobby (supporting muscular democracy — for Israeli Jews) and “Americans who support Israel” (I am one), going on to call Freeman’s statement “grotesque libel”.

And so the usually impeccably dressed editorial board drops its pants on this issue. It’s a good sign that consummate professionals and old-timers like Pincus and Broder can keep their heads — and belts — when the topic is Israel/Palestine.

The real story is a vicious tragedy in which the leaders on both sides embrace arrogance, hatred, and violence. American cheerleading for “Israel” a la the Post editorial makes things worse — but American political support and money have almost always sustained the catastrophe.

Perhaps Freeman meant “change” on this fundamental level. Then perhaps he was unseated by the combination of fear, influence and self-righteousness that can reasonably be called “the Israel Lobby.”

CABERNET OBAMA and the Grapes of Education

Vintage Clinton. Chateau Gates. Estate-bottled Geithner. Finding Obama’s appointments hard to swallow?  Well, take a deep breath and try these for the scoop on Arne Duncan, our Secretary-of-Ed to be:

and follow that by looking on Truthout for  Marc Ash’s “Be the Change,” which is probably the last word on where “progressives” now stand ( as I stand inside the rain…), and certainly better than what I could write. But exactly what I’m trying to say.

Letter to Bill Ayers

[For a more personal take, start with “Bienvenidos,” using the link at the right. Use the Truthout link to see what Bill Ayers had to say after months of being used as a Hillary-McPalin whipping boy against Obama. Looking forward: What, I ask Ayers, is his organizing perspective for these hopeful but perilous times?

no shame

no shame


1. Educators and parents know that you are a dedicated teacher.
2. Progressives of all kinds, including the commentators here [the responses to Ayers’ Truthout essay] AND the Obamas (I trust) know that you are and have been a smart and hardworking progressive for many, many years.
3. Sarah Palin and her audience “know” that you are an unrepentant badguy and enemy. In addition, the McPailin campaign believed (foolishly, in the event) that you would make a terrific bogeyman. As did Hillary.

So now, my brother, my question/opinion for the “movement that is always busy being born when its not busy dying.”: Our traditional role has been to speak truth to power and anyone else who will listen. And to try to “make” truth- based realities (good schools, mobilized voters, collectives, etc, etc,). When that is compared to the pain and misery especially our country has created or helped along, many crazy and stupid things seem called for. You did some of those, and in a different mode so did I and many other folks.

Some of us were able to recover from our fanaticism (as you know, others died or were destroyed — perhaps with their own cooperation). So now — among “us” — you are a source of strength and encouragement — and ideas.

But what are your ideas for reaching Barack and the rest of those who elected him? I.e. those who either believe the myths of American exceptionalism or believe that “realism” means not challenging it. The economy and the ecology are in crisis. They will form a conjuncture with our military, quasi-imperial investments, probably headlined by Afghanistan/Pakistan.

The times, I expect, will be a’changin’ even more in the next decade than they were in the Sixties. The election campaign could have — but did not — help prepare Americans for that. We need “change” that affects and includes many folks who believe that their own hard work and American superpower benevolence are all that we need.

As you know,

it ain’t so.

Where to go?

Peace When?

Hope springs...

Hope springs...

Well, here we are, soon to elect a new President. Among folks I know there are about as many supporting Cynthia McKinney as supporting John McCain. For the vast majority, the question has become How much — or how little — can we expect from an Obama presidency?

That begs the question, How much courage will Barack have to lead? We already have a crisis nearly everyone failed to even imagine — the economy — plus the ones many remain in denial about  — the planet, and war/peace. During the campaign, Obama has not shown that much courage;  many explain this as the compromises necessary for him to get elected.

I reject that reasoning,  even though  my expectations are not too different from those Obama-supporters who use it.  And with apologies to the ghost of Nadezha Mandelshtam, I have to say that the prospects for great things AFTER an Obama victory are a case of “hope against hope”.

But it’s not over until the fat lady sings — and the skinny lady concedes. So I am actively campaigning for my very intelligent and cautious candidate.


[Note:   If you want family, poetry, and medieval personal history first,
head to “Bienvenidos” from link at right.]

Imagine a world in which a baby born in Ecuador or Bangladesh has possibilities similar to one born in Potomac, Maryland or, say, various golden precincts of California. Impossible, many would say, or reserved for a distant galaxy in a different millenium.

Here’s what I say: This  vision — this utopia or New Jerusalem lacking all details except possibility — is the only worthwhile metric for thinking about current policy.  Our work, then, is learning and building in that direction. Crises, even existential crises, are not in this view pretexts for “realistic” solutions that increase inequality, deception and oppression.

In that light the 2008 presidential campaign is a failure .  An Obama administration — inshallah —  will not be.

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