Saturday Morning Musings on Corporate Control and Internet Freedom

Good Morning Conflucians!!

It’s so nice to wake up to sun pouring in my windows after the horrible rains of the past couple of weeks. I guess I should consider myself fortunate that all I had to deal with was some water in the basement. And since my ex-husband liked to buy every kind of tool and gadget, I happened to have a sump pump and a shop vac down there.

Yesterday it was 70 degrees here in the northwestern Boston area, and it looks like the nice, warm weather is going to stick around for the next week.

Ah…Spring! The forsythia is coming out and lots of green stuff is appearing in the yard. Soon the cherry trees will be blooming all over the place. Somehow it’s a little easier to be optimistic at this time of year than in the dead of winter.

In my Saturday morning ramble around the blogosphere, I came across an interesting piece by Cory Doctorow: Why I won’t buy an iPad (and think you shouldn’t, either) I found it thought-provoking, not because I was agonizing about whether to buy an iPad–I’m not even slightly interested in it–but because the arguments Doctorow makes are relevant to innovation in every area of life, including politics. Doctorow’s main point is that “incumbents make bad revolutionaries.”

I’ve spent ten years now on Boing Boing, finding cool things that people have done and made and writing about them. Most of the really exciting stuff hasn’t come from big corporations with enormous budgets, it’s come from experimentalist amateurs. These people were able to make stuff and put it in the public’s eye and even sell it without having to submit to the whims of a single company that had declared itself gatekeeper for your phone and other personal technology.

Doctorow argues that once any entrepreneur, no matter how visionary and innovative, gets enough power and control over a market, that entrepreneur/corporation/politician/journalist will try to corner the market and become a “gatekeeper” for what the rest of us are allowed to do, see, read, and buy.

We become nothing to them but anonymous “consumers” who will fork over our money and time and take whatever the controllers want to dole out to us. He says these gatekeepers have contempt for us as consumers–they want to “infantilize” us, keep us dependent on them, and prevent us from sharing the products we buy with others and modifying those products in ways that work for us as individuals.

Doctorow uses the example of a new iPad app offered by Marvel Comics. Not being a “comics person,” I don’t quite understand what it is, but here is Doctorow’s explanation:

I was a comic-book kid, and I’m a comic-book grownup, and the thing that made comics for me was sharing them. If there was ever a medium that relied on kids swapping their purchases around to build an audience, it was comics. And the used market for comics! It was — and is — huge, and vital. I can’t even count how many times I’ve gone spelunking in the used comic-bins at a great and musty store to find back issues that I’d missed, or sample new titles on the cheap. (It’s part of a multigenerational tradition in my family — my mom’s father used to take her and her sibs down to Dragon Lady Comics on Queen Street in Toronto every weekend to swap their old comics for credit and get new ones).

So what does Marvel do to “enhance” its comics? They take away the right to give, sell or loan your comics. What an improvement. Way to take the joyous, marvellous sharing and bonding experience of comic reading and turn it into a passive, lonely undertaking that isolates, rather than unites.

Isn’t this what is happening in every area of our lives these days? The internet has changed how we get our information and form our opinions; and the mainstream media, politicians, corporations, and the entertainment industry don’t like that one bit. They are going to fight to death to maintain control over the populace–making every effort to keep us passive and willing to settle for less than what we really need and want. As Doctorow says,

I think that the press has been all over the iPad because Apple puts on a good show, and because everyone in journalism-land is looking for a daddy figure who’ll promise them that their audience will go back to paying for their stuff. The reason people have stopped paying for a lot of “content” isn’t just that they can get it for free, though: it’s that they can get lots of competing stuff for free, too. The open platform has allowed for an explosion of new material, some of it rough-hewn, some of it slick as the pros, most of it targetted more narrowly than the old media ever managed. Rupert Murdoch can rattle his saber all he likes about taking his content out of Google, but I say do it, Rupert. We’ll miss your fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the Web so little that we’ll hardly notice it, and we’ll have no trouble finding material to fill the void.

Politicians are in the same boat as corporations–no wonder they have joined forces with big business in their joint efforts to control us and keep us consuming all the crap they want us to buy from them! The health care reform debacle is certainly a case in point. Most Americans want a single payer health plan–just expand Medicare to everyone and be done with it. Medicare already covers 40% of Americans, why not all of us? Medicare has very low overhead, so why should we have to buy insurance from corporations with 30% overhead?

It makes no sense, but the politicians tell us not to believe the obvious evidence that Medicare for all would be the best plan for the American people. They are going to do their best to try to convince us that we want to be forced to buy crap insurance from whomever they tell us to buy it from and that it was a fair trade-off for women to lose their reproductive freedom so that approximately 25 million more people can have crap health insurance that probably won’t provide the health care they actually need.

In 2008, the Democratic Party, along with the giant corporations who control the mainstream media, decided to force voters to sit back and just be consumers of whatever crap they decided to force down our throats. They selected a candidate for us instead of listening to what we wanted in a President. They weren’t interested in listening to us, and the President they chose for us isn’t interested in listening to what we think either.

Clearly Barack Obama and his corporate backers saw the danger of a vital, rough-and-tumble liberal blogosphere, and they realized they would have to deal with the big liberal blogs in order to win the Democratic nomination.

David Axelrod had a long history of running astroturf campaigns, and he knew just what to do. First, he needed to get young people involved. They would be attracted to a candidate who offered hope of “transformative change.” He introduced him to the product, Barack Obama, as a “transformative leader” and “inspirational speaker,” a “messiah” would would save the country from the Bush/Cheney gang.

Younger people wouldn’t know the difference. They wouldn’t really remember John Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, or even Bill Clinton, all of whom were better speakers and who implemented much more transformative policies than Barack Obama was offering–even the campaign before he reverse himself on nearly every issue.

Axelrod organized Obama camps where these enthusiastic young liberals could be trained to be “ruthless for Obama,” doing whatever was necessary to sell the new product on the internet and in person.

Then he sent these young people out to infiltrate the prog blogs, especially the biggest ones–Daily Kos and Democratic Underground. What the Obama crowd didn’t bank on was people like us who were a little older and/or wiser and just weren’t all that impressed with the packaging of the product. We wanted blueprints, details and specifics. We wanted to know what the guy really thought and believed. We looked past the packaging, and we decided not to buy the product.

Since, as Marcos Moulitsas likes to say, “it’s a big internet,” we headed out into the wilderness and started our own liberal blogs. No wonder they tried so hard to kill us off during the primaries. We weren’t interested in just being consumers of a product. We wanted to have a say in our own futures. We saw the government and the Democratic party as our employees, not our masters. We wanted freedom of choice.

Now that the banks, corporations and media have won the battle, now that they have their chosen front man and they have turned the “progressive blogs” into “access bloggers,” they are still doing everything possible to limit our choices so they can stay in control of the political system and keep us from gaining any real power over our lives. They are going to fight to the death to limit our control over our own internet experience, our choices of what media to consume.

We must be eternally vigilant in preventing the government and corporations from completely neutering the internet. Interacting with each other–with more and more people around the country and the world, freely exchanging ideas and information, is our best hope for saving what is left of democracy in America. They may have won this battle, but they have not yet won the war.

I’d love to get your take on this, but as always, please post links to what you are reading in the comments. Here are a few other stories that caught my eye this morning to get you started. Have a great Saturday everyone!!

Apple’s iPad hits store shelves


The Militia Man Next Door


Urologist Posts His Politics on His Florida Office Door


Terrifying Sea Critter Hauled from the Ocean’s Depths

Finally! Scientific proof that greasy breakfasts are good for us!

Beautiful Theories Destroyed by Ugly Facts

The 2008 Primary Map. Take THAT, David Plouffe!

Edward Luce at The Financial Times wrote a piece called America: The Fearsome Foursome and it’s all about how everything in the WH is run by a small evil group to which no one we know belongs.  Yep, everything bad that has ever happened in the past year is the fault of Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod. It’s all because this Gang of Four are in campaign mode, a *brilliant*, scintillatingly genius, never-before-seen-by-the-likes-of-man campaign mode where they came from behind and fought the party establishment and conventional wisdom and the vicious media to overcome all odds and triumph to make their way to the highest office of the land.  It brings a tear to my eye, I tells ya’.  It’s like Mike Eruzione leading the US Hockey team to victory against the Russkis at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980.  A Miracle! A Miracle!

Can we just cut the crap, please?

If the White House is in campaign mode, then Barack Obama is the campaign manager.  That’s how his campaign worked, according to David Plouffe in his book from just a few months ago, The Audacity to Win.  Barack Obama was a “hands-on” candidate and was the pilot of his campaign, according to Plouffe.  I would interpret this to mean that he approved of pulling his name off of the Michigan ballot, thereby screwing voters in MI and every Hillary voter in the country by extension.  And he must have been cool with the misogyny of the media too, right?  Some nice guy you got there for a president, eh?  By the way, Amazon’s review of the book is full of delightful details like:

Plouffe’s prose, alas, doesn’t much sweeten the deal. It’s filled with business-speak (“takeaway” used repeatedly as a noun, as in, “It certainly was not the chief takeaway from the debate”; gratuitous, macho-posturing profanity (“they picked Sarah goddamn Palin,” “let’s go win this [expletive] thing”); and a surfeit of baseball metaphors (“brushback pitch,” “unforced errors,” “[expletive] home run”).

If you’re looking for clues as to why this White House is screwed up, look no further than business jargon, that collection of “power words” that function as secret code words that identify the club members to each other but upon further investigation mean absolutely nothing.  Corporate culture is full of them.  When we hear our new CEOs say them during “Town Hall” meetings  and hear his sycophants dutifully repeating them in endless slide presentations, we start getting our affairs in order because the mergers and pink slips aren’t far behind.

Oh, yes, Obama is in charge all right.  His White House is painfully similar to a typical corporate executive department, which gives me a pretty good clue about who actually got him into office in the first place.

But let’s talk about the message that the FT piece sends.  In a nutshell, it sounds like Rahm Emannuel is ruining everything and that he’s not so good with 11th Dimensional Chess after all.

Well, there’s your problem right there.  According to most cosmic physicists, the human mind is incapable of understanding more than, oh, three dimensions on a good day.  Four is really pushing it for even the smartest among us.  Even Rahm.  11 is just beyond human comprehension.  It’s like, the geeks turn out these beautiful equations with some weird constant to the 11th power and they say, “Wow! That’s totally mind blowing.  WTF does it mean?  Hey, let’s go to Chuck’s for some wings for lunch.”  Those are the guys who can think to the 6th dimension.  (Or chemistry students who see that little “^” thingy in quantum chemistry and just apply it without really truly understanding what the f^*& that thing is and then burn the book after the final.)  That’s because, when you get into the REAL world, theories only get you so far after you graduate.  That’s when you have to apply your powers of observation and experience and refer to theory.

It’s cool to know some really great theoreticians and understand their work but when it comes right down to doing the day-to-day work, you read a lot of papers based on actual practice.  If the theory can’t be reduced to practice and the results replicated, it isn’t any damn good.

So, here we have a White House run by a corporate biz-speak accolyte, whose entire reduction to practice experience in applying the 11th dimensional chess game theory totals 142 days in the Senate. He has virtually no legislative experience to speak of.  I imagine his real skills are that he has mastered a certain attitude that is suave and debonnair (pronounced swave and de-boner for the uninitiated).  He looks like he swings a big dick.  He can use baseball metaphors with aplomb.  To get ahead, he’s charming to his colleagues (at first) and gets them to help him understand what they’re doing.  He gets them to share their secrets with him.  Then, as soon as he gets what he needs, he goes running to the guy two levels above him and has a chat.  Makes it looks like he figured all this stuff out by himself.  Says, “Her?  She’s good but she doesn’t really understand blah like you and I do.”  Pretty soon, the old chap is eating out of his hands.  (We corporate rats could write scads of papers on this technique, having seen it in action about a bazillion times.  And by the way, we’re getting really tired of it.  It’s costing us our jobs.)

And now his Fearsome Foursome is standing guard.  Ready to take a bullet for the guy, the one who is now in charge and is running everything, having gotten the confidence of the old guys.  They’re a slick bunch, that foursome.  They’ve got people actually believing that it’s not Obama’s fault that the country is the way it is and he can’t do anything about it.  He inherited this mess.  He didn’t make it messy.  It was BUUUUUSHH!

Yeah, like we didn’t see that coming.  It’s the reason why we didn’t want Obama in the first place.  We preferred the lady engineer who at least knew which mechanisms of government to push to get things done and looked like she read the papers and did her homework.

And it’s not Obama’s fault?  Please.  This is the job he wanted.  We all knew before he ran that the country was going to be a train wreck.  The Des Moines Register endorsed Hillary Clinton back in December of 2007 because they knew it was going to be a train wreck.  He inherited a train wreck and he knew it going in.  If he didn’t think he could do the job, he shouldn’t have run.  And Democrats who had been accurately predicting disaster for years during the Bush administration should have known better and not voted for him or promoted him and CERTAINLY shouldn’t be making excuses for him now.  Take responsibility for putting Obama in office and stop ignoring the ugly facts! It is a recipe for failure.

This is the real world in 4 dimensions with real people’s lives at stake.  It is not a game.

Addendum:

cx4800 found this video of the Des Moines Register endorsement from Dec. 2007.  The tone of the endorsement was absolutely clear: given the state of the country, this was no time to be day dreaming with Obama.  Obama knew full well that he was going to inherit a catastrophe and the Des Moines Register knew he wasn’t ready for it.

We *all* knew.

Reward Good Behavior- Al Franken

Al Franken has been busy, busy, busy this week!  Just look at all the stuff he’s been up to:

  • Al Franken spoke sternly to David Axelrod (does anyone else think that Axelrod has the profile of a rat? Raise your hand).  Where is the leadership from the White House?  LOL!  That’s a good one, Al.  I’m sure that was meant to be a rhetorical question.  See, Obama and his droogs handlers don’t think they *have* to lead.   I guess the White House figures that either the Senate forces the health care insurance reform bill on the House as is and makes the whole Democratic party look like they are capitulating to the right, thereby alienating their base, possibly permanently, or the Senate grows a more liberal spine and gets blamed by the media for capitulating to the extremist left.  Ooooo, Tea Partiers!  BOO!  It’s not like the media and its superultrauber wealthy, ruthless authoritarian owners like the Rupert Murdoch and Jack Welch proteges don’t have a vested interest in turning up the volume on those tea partiers.  Whatever, is the attitude the White House is projecting, with Obama doing the “And that would affect me how…?” posture of the smartass teenager.  Everyone <3 Obama, or so Axelrod thinks.  But my momma told me that “Looks don’t last, cookin’ do” (It’s probably Pennsylvania Dutch).  I suspect that a lot of people in those polls say they like Obama because they’re sick of being called racists if they say they don’t like his poor presidential leadership.   Obama might need his party someday.  Better make friends with those senators and stop being so coy and ethereal about his political philosophy.  Sink or swim with your party.  Solidarity should mean something and besides, we’re losing patience out here.
  • Al Franken gave a speech to NARAL on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  You can read the whole thing here.  Al’s got our back on the Choice front but I would like Al to think bigger than Roe v. Wade.  After all, we wouldn’t need a Roe v. Wade if women were truly equal persons under the law and were able to exercise their unalienable right to decide for themselves whether or not to become parents.  Or their unalienable right to worship as they please or not please.  Or their unalienable right to determine their own morality about their reproductive decisions as women in many developed countries around the world are able to do.  The time has come.  Roe v. Wade was never our ticket to equality.  Let it die.  Bring on the war.
  • Al Franken takes on media giants Comcast and NBC.  He’s absolutely right about one thing.  You can’t trust the media.  They are not on the side of a free society.  They on the side of those maintaining a carefully controlled underclass.  Hey, if Democrats want to vote for this merger without closing all of the loopholes and strengthening the anti-trust protections, who are we to stop them?  They’ve never wanted our input on anything anyway (but they call our houses incessantly for money and our votes).  On the other hand, I can see no logical reason why any entity would consciously participate in its own demise, content with a few weak promises of restraint from the guys who potentially have Democrats’ balls in their hands come election time.  If Comcast and NBC REALLY, REALLY want to merge, now is the time to extract that pound of flesh, like reinstatement of the “fairness doctrine” or painful concessions on net neutrality or new rules regarding competition in townships like mine where Comcast practically owns the high speed internet market, keeping out competitors like Verizon FIOS.  This is a no-brainer to those of us out here watching.  But Democrats have been winning a lot of Darwin Awards for the past several decades so expect them to screw it up.
Trust me, kids, the Al Franken Decade was a classic

The Al Franken Decade was a classic.

I’m happy to say that Al was one of my better bets in 2008.  He’s turned out to be pretty much what I expected: an assertive, principled, liberal Democrat who is a royal pain in the ass to the Republicans and some Democrats alike.  He opens his mouth and shameless liberal ideals come out of it.  Watching him go after insurance companies that cut people off at their sickest, defense contractors who force rape victims into mediation and Joe Lieberman’s endless monotone bogarting of the Senate mic has been a joy and a pleasure.  This may be the “Al Franken Decade”.  It’s 30 years late but I’ll take it.

In the meantime, I propose we show Al some appreciation and demonstrate to the other “anonymous Senators” who are secret liberal Al admirers (that means YOU, Bob Menendez)  that good behavior will be rewarded.  You can make a contribution to Al here.

$25 per Conflucian adds up to a lot of reward.

Power in the USA: political string theory in US politics

Puppet_Master
How are power relations shaping the U.S. political sphere? From the primary campaign to the tea parties and the raucous healthcare forums, Americans are out in force. Regardless of their political stripe, are their actions in their own best interest or are they being played? What influences are determining how people perceive the issues, what aspects of the issues are open to debate, and what aspects are not open for consideration? Whom is mobilizing whom and for what?

Steven Lukes, in his classic “Power: A Radical View” offers a framework for analyzing the types of power relations that shape policy and society within democratically-oriented nations. The overly simplified summary that follows is intended as a tool to direct our discussion.

Power, oversimplified, is the capacity of individual or collective agents to achieve their intended outcomes by getting others to act for these outcomes, even when these outcomes are against their own best interests. In achieving these outcomes the three dimensions of power tend to function in a complimentary fashion.

The first dimension of power is the capacity to realize one’s aims in decision-making situations. This is the capacity to acquire a representative majority, whatever form that may take, be it a simple plurality or a Presidential veto. For example, the Democrats now control the House, the Senate, and the Presidency because they acquired a representative majority in all of these areas in the last election.

The second dimension of power is the capacity to determine the agenda, that is, the scope of decision-making situations. This is the capacity to contain and direct deliberation within parameters wherein first dimension power can be exercised to achieve one’s aims while concurrently foreclosing considerations that could undermine one’s first dimension power. An example of the second dimension of power at work is that President Obama and many ranking Democrats, even with their filibuster-proof majority, have effectively excluded single-payer from the healthcare reform options.

The third dimension of power is the capacity to secure prior consent to these decisions by manipulating how people perceive their parameters of choice. In harnessing their choices, one either harnesses their actions, the choices and/or actions of others they have power over, or both. In this way, according to Amartya Sen, the ‘most blatant forms of inequalities and exploitations survive in the world through making allies out of the deprived and the exploited.’

Propaganda, i.e. political spin and sloganeering, for example, exists to seep, and/or be ground into, people’s consciousness to influence their decision making, as Goebbels noted. “Government should not interfere with business“, “Socialism (or capitalism) is evil”, “Free trade brings freedom”, and “Healthcare forum disrupters are all astroturfed Republicans” are examples of such sloganeering propagandizing and Rove and Axelrod practise propaganda architectonics.

Social signs of third dimension power relations include overtly inequitable distributions of natural and cultural social goods within a community; a relative acceptance of these social relations among those disadvantaged by these relationships; and evidence of mechanisms in play that have prevented the disadvantaged from perceiving their circumstances as potentially otherwise. From the perspective of a single payer advocate, for example, I perceive the clusters of people who are making statements about keeping the government out of Medicare as being in the same boat as those who are pushing for Obama’s bait-and-switch private insurance debacle while thinking they are getting a publicly-funded cost effective model. Both groups are actively working against their own interests.

Assuming that the three dimensions of power are alive, well, and very much involved in the continuing mass transference of wealth from the middle class to the elite, what can be done to reverse this trend? As bloggers, and blog participants, what can and should we do?

crb278024

Digg!!! Tweet!!! Share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to NewsvineAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Furl

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Friday Morning at The Confluence

Is it just me or does it seem like the Professor and the Policeman story is getting more airplay than the Michael Jackson story did? Obama and Axelrod must be giggling and snickering right now. Talk about astroturf! The topic of the weekend was supposed to be health care, but just one planted question and now health care is on the back burner. It appears the vote that was so important to the President, is now off, and it’s no biggie.

“As long as I see folks working diligently and consistently, then I am comfortable,” Obama told a crowd gathered in a high school gym for a town-hall styled meeting here today. “But I don’t want to delay just because of politics.”

Um…isn’t politics precisely the reason for the delay?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says there will be a vote in September. But will it happen? The New York Times reports that the White House has been negotiating madly with blue dog Dems to keep the bill alive.

The White House chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, led a hastily called three-hour negotiating session at the Capitol with conservative Blue Dog Democrats, the group of fiscal hawks who have stalled action on the health care bill in the House.

But the wrangling over health care is pushing back other items on Obama’s agenda.

While Congress can resume its efforts in the fall, other major items on the president’s agenda, like climate change and rewriting financial regulation, have also been postponed, and are likely to be further delayed until the health care debate is resolved.

[....]

Democratic leaders fended off suggestions that health care legislation could lose momentum if there is no action until the fall. But the delay will give Republican opponents ample time to highlight what they say are the bill’s flaws, and will subject moderate lawmakers, many of whom are on the fence, to a barrage of questions, including whether the nation can afford the $1 trillion, 10-year price tag.

Oh well…who cares if thousands of Americans die for lack of health care? Now we have another media circus to distract us–the Prof. Skip Gates vs. Sgt. James Crowley road show. Both the cop and the prof. are milking this thing for all it’s worth–talking about the incident on every available media outlet. In a few months will these two guys be starring on a reality TV show?

I don’t mean to make light of a very serious issue–racial profiling–but I really thought this story morphed into an embarrassing spectacle today. Here are just two of the dueling media appearances made by Crowley and Gates.

Radio interview on WEEI, Boston Sports Radio with Sgt. James Crowley (both hosts are right-wingers)

Crowley sounds very reasonable, but I noted two interesting things. When talking about what happened inside the home, Crowley speaks in the passive voice. The rest of the description is in the active voice. That strikes me as odd. Crowley also says he told Gates to “calm down” and “lower his voice.” Saying “calm down” is almost never useful, and I wonder why such an experienced policeman wouldn’t know that.

There is an interesting blog post on Dissenting Justice about the notion that Crowley’s attempt to save Reggie Lewis’ life proves he harbors no racial bias at all.

CNN interview with Henry Louis Gates:

To me Gates comes off as more than a little over the top–calling Crowley a “rogue” police officer and mind-reading–claiming to know for sure that Crowley had a profile in his mind when he arrived at Gates’ house and then tried to fit Gates into that profile. I’d like to get MABlue’s take on this interview.

Later in the day Crowley was refusing to talk to the media. Was he told by his superiors to clam up?

NPR’s Talk of the Nation covered this story today. I found the show very interesting. You can listen to the broadcast here.

A few more stories on the prof.-cop story:

Cop who arrested black scholar is profiling expert

Bias, Racism, Being a Jerk, and Abuse of Power

Sergeant Who Arrested Professor Defends Actions

Obama stokes racial passions, police anger

GOP siezes on Obama cops remark

Other Stories of Interest (to me anyway)

Nation’s ENT Surgeons Respond to President Obama’s Press Briefing Remarks on Tonsillectomy Procedures

White House Response to CREW Suit for Health Care Execs Visitor Records Insufficient

New Yorker says he would have been suicide bomber

Michael Vick Could Be Reinstated by NFL

New Scientist: Enigma of the 23-year-old baby (Highly Recommended!)

Surgery ends the tale of the five-legged dog

When Legislators Attack: 10 Political Brawls Caught on Tape

Why does the soda taste different in a bottle than a can?

Please feel free to post links to stories you found interesting and/or important–or funny, we could use funny! It’s Friday, after all. TGIF!!

Digg!!! Tweet!!! Share!!!

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Furl | Newsvine

Saturday Open Thread: What’s Happening?

Captain Richard Phillips

Captain Richard Phillips

I’m not usually the bloodthirsty type, but I’ve been feeling pretty angry lately about the Somali pirates who have been holding an American ship captain hostage. Yesterday, when I heard he had tried to escape and then been recaptured, my head just about exploded.

The captain of the Maersk Alabama, Richard Phillips, tried to escape from the lifeboat he’s sharing with four pirates in the Indian Ocean and was quickly recaptured, a pirate said yesterday. Two U.S. warships in the waters off East Africa are monitoring the pirates.

“Negotiations are under way to free the American captain and the discussions are continuing,” a man calling himself Da’ud, who identified himself as one of the pirates, said yesterday in a telephone interview from the area of Eyl, Somalia. “The captain is unharmed and at this stage we aren’t going to hurt anyone.”

WTF?! Where is “President” Obama? Why doesn’t he want to answer questions about this situation? Yesterday, reporters asked him about it, and Obama gave a typically snotty response: “Guys, we’re talking about housing right now.”

You know, I would like an explanation. I understand there are U.S. Navy ships near the scene of these events. Why don’t they have sharp shooters to pick off the pirates in the lifeboat? Or Navy Seal types swimming under water to aid Phillips’s escape? How must Phillips feel knowing that even if he courageously tries to escape again, no one will come to help? Isn’t that what happened in Somalia during the “Black Hawk Down” incident–no one came to the rescue? Exactly how are we going to fight the Taliban in Afghanistan if our military can’t deal with some pirates? Is it too bloodthirsty for me to want to bomb the hell out of Mogadishu after this pirate incident is resolved? I don’t get it. And I’m willing to be educated. I heard on a radio last night that the fear is the pirates could kill Phillips if any attempt is made to rescue him through firepower. That’s probably true, but why can’t I hear an explanation from the U.S. President?

In line with the pirate standoff, how come Dear Leader isn’t doing anything about North Korea? They shoot off a rocket and what does the O-man have to offer in response? “Just words,” as far as I can tell. I found this hilarious commentary by a British Conservative in the comments from last night’s cocktail post. He refers to Obama as “President Pantywaist.”

Then came the dramatic bit, the authentic West Wing script, with the President wakened in the middle of the night in Prague to be told that Kim Jong-il had just launched a Taepodong-2 missile. America had Aegis destroyers tracking the missile and could have shot it down. But Uncle Sam had a sterner reprisal in store for l’il ole Kim (as Dame Edna might call him): a multi-megaton strike of Obama hot air.

“Rules must be binding,” declared Obama, referring to the fact that Kim had just breached UN Resolutions 1695 and 1718. “Violations must be punished.” (Sounds ominous.) “Words must mean something.” (Why, Barack? They never did before, for you – as a cursory glance at your many speeches will show.)

Is it wrong that I somewhat agree with this guy?

In other news, there are rallies around the country this afternoon, organized by A New Way Forward. William Greider and other former koolaid sippers are all thrilled about these actions. I still love Greider, but I’d feel a whole lot better about his judgment if he hadn’t fallen for Obama’s lies the first time.

Apparently the leaders of ANWF are Joe Trippi and Mike Lux, who as far as I know are still on the koolaid. Am I wrong to be a little bit suspicious? Another Conflucian suggested to me that this could be an “Obot army” effort to take the focus off the Obama administration’s complicity in the financial crisis and put it all on the bankers. Is that too tinfoil hat? After reading this article last week, I really don’t think so. Obama and his Axelrodian puppetmasters are some very manipulative M-Fers. Paging Cinie! If anyone could scope this out, she could!

So what are you reading/hearing/watching today? Please share your links. Our commenters are the best researchers evah!!

The Genius of Obama’s Magic Donor List

barack-obama-from-dc-examinerYou know, I’ve been thinking a lot about how and why Black Obama was shoved down America’s throats and all the attendant events surrounding the Obamenon of the Obamanationization of Omerica.  I think of how he came out of nowhere with money grown on trees dripping out of his ass, beloved of all though none had yet met him, and I go, “Huh?  What the fuck is up with that?”  Then I marvel at how fortunate he is to appear black on the anniversary of so many noteworthy events in black history that might otherwise have gone unnoticed, like the 45th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech.  There’s not much doubt that were it not for the monumentousness of the historic nature of a having a candidate who appears to be black run for president, that one might have come and gone without proper deference being paid.  I mean, in normal, non-monumentally historically natured times, who the hell makes a big deal about a 45th anniversary?  So, right there, you have a reason to be thankful that there is Obama.

Then, there’s the inescapable fact that without the awe-inspiring presence of the Inspirer of Awe, black Americans like me might have continued to go about our business blissfully unaware of our longing for our collective, unspoken need to validate ourselves be fulfilled by installing a man who appears to be black in the Oval Office.  Without the Obamessiah deigning to play Joshua to Dr. King’s Moses, black Americans might still be inclined to lobby and petition the government for things previously denied, but now obviously guaranteed them, like, jobs, education opportunities, access to health care services and equal treatment under the law.  Thank God we don’t have to worry about stuff like that anymore.

Yet, the most wondrous of things to behold is the sheer genius, nay intellectual artistry, employed by the architects and engineers of Obamania.  A political campaign propelled by a new media source whose birth, growth and development mirrors the candidate, now president’s own, how lucky is that?  A campaign designed by a man as notorious for his ability to create faux grassroots support on his clients’ behalf, creating the illusion that the poison they spew is desired by teeming hordes of consumers, as he is for getting black guys elected, meets a candidate who appears to be black and whose past, failed attempts at community organizing can be exploited as a dedication to grassroots organization, are you kidding me?  Match made in Heaven my ass!  This…is…Kismet!

And, in the ultimate stroke of genius, corporate sponsors desperate for up close and personal access to power to buttress their inflated sense of self importance can be recruited as co-conspirators in this win-win good-for-everybody exercise in democracy at work by encouraging them to subvert the campaign donor laws while contributing massive amounts of cash necessary to promote the wondrous goodness of He Who Would Come To Be Known As The One to the huddled masses yearning to be seen as tolerant of black people.   By breaking up the obscene amounts of money being funneled into the campaign by corporate entities into individual employee donations, the campaign Astroturfer can not only grow the campaign donor list, he can inform the conveniently nascent alternative media sources of the wonders of perpetuating the small donor myth now afforded him by the swelled numbers of individual contributors.  In addition, the black man manipulating Astroturfer now possesses an alternate, invaluable tool for indoctrinating the gullible, since the real campaign donation sources include individual  mainstream media information disseminators among other purveyors of influence.  Thus, at any time, thousands of media and other influential employees of institutions of higher learning, government, and finance, can be directly contacted at a moment’s notice and given information, talking points and marching orders straight from the Astroturfer’s mouth.

Direct access to the validation seeking black Americans and their fellow hopeless country-men and -women desperate for change via the Bullies of the Blogosphere and the Mainstream Media Maniacs by way of the White House in 1 easy step through the courtesy of Corporate America.  Thousands of employees of Citigroup, JP Morgan, Pepsi, Time Warner, MTV, BET, Dreamworks, Microsoft, Stanford, Columbia, etc., along with the other “small donors” on the list, now get to hear straight from the Astroturfing man with the office next door to the president any time he feels like telling them something.  Now we know why Obama 2.0 wants us all to have stimulus package house parties.

Combine that with daily talking point exchanges between the White House Chief of Staff, Rahm Emanuel and two of CNN”s “Democratic strategists,” Paul Begala and James Carville, and you’ve got the country on information lockdown.

Gotta love that.

Now if I could just figure out who hired the Astroturfer in the first place…

X-posted at Cinie’s World

Why I’m PUMA

melanistic_panthera_onca4I am a PUMA today for the exact same reason I went looking to become something that didn’t yet exist on May 31, 2008; I object to the manner in which Barack Obama became my president.  And nothing I’ve seen before or since has mitigated that essential truth in the slightest, in fact, the more I see of the way he operates, the more upset I get.  Barack Obama offends my sense of fair play.  From what I’ve been able to determine through my research of him, he has pushed the against “da roolz” envelope in every contested election he’s won.  Though he cannot be accused of outright cheating, he has built his entire pseudo-impressive career out of finding obscure loopholes to screw to his orgasm, thereby raping the process to his pleasure and advantage.

As has been extensively chronicled, in 1996, Obama won his first election to the Illinois Senate by contesting the voting petition signatures gathered for all of his challengers, getting them all disqualified, and running unopposed.   Before he could complete his second term of office, after winning re-election in 1998 over African American Republican Yesse Yehudah (whose name later emerged in Obama bribery allegations) he mounted a disastrous 2000 campaign for sitting Congressman Bobby Rush‘s seat, who beat the pants off him like he was a red-headed stepchild, by playing his “my black card on the table trumps the Uppity Magic Negro card up your sleeve.”   It worked, and Obama never let that happen again.

Given Illinois’ convoluted system regarding Senate terms…

Every Senate district elects its members to serve two four-year terms and one two-year term per decade.

…and Obama’s predilection for reticence, the details regarding his Illinois Senate runs are rather sketchy.  However, considering that his opponent in  1998, Yehuda, won approx. 10% of the vote, and that in 2002 he ran unopposed, its safe to assume that, for some reason, Obama’s re-elections were basically a rubber-stamp formality.  Curiously, Wikipedia mentions that Obama was re-elected to the Illinois senate in 2002, presumably in November, yet numerous sources report that he had already begun preparing for a run at the U.S. Senate by June of that year.  From the Boston Globe:

In mid-2002, Obama began to focus on the upcoming US Senate race. The incumbent, Republican Peter Fitzgerald, seemed beatable, and it was not clear Carol Moseley Braun, who had held the seat before Fitzgerald, would try to reclaim it. Obama and his wife made a deal: This would be, as his wife puts it now, “the last hurrah.”

And, from a Chicago Maroon piece written July 12, 2002:

Democratic State Senator and University Law School Senior Lecturer Barack Obama has begun assessing his chances in the 2004 US senate race. Obama has commissioned a statewide poll by the Colorado firm Harstad Strategic Research, and he has filed for federal permission to begin fundraising. Obama will have to win the democratic primary in order to face incumbent Republican Senator Peter Fitzgerald in ’04.

Note the article from 2002 refers to Obama as a “Senior Lecturer” not “professor,” as he has claimed to be; a claim which was backed up, but “nuanced” (their word, not mine)  by Fact Check.org via the University of Chicago.  Another example of Obama’s fondness for “nuance”regards his now, much bally-hooed, then, largely ignored, unfilmed, 2002 Iraq war speech:

“My objections to the war in Iraq were not simply a speech,” Obama said. “I was in the midst of a U.S. Senate campaign. It was a high-stakes campaign. I was one of the most vocal opponents of the war.” (Obama delivered the speech in October 2002; he did not officially declare his candidacy for the U.S. Senate until January).

Even in this era of YouTube and camera phones, a recording of Obama’s speech is all but impossible to find. The Obama campaign has gone so far as to re-create portions of the speech for a television ad, with the candidate re-reading the text, with audience sound effects.

So, according to the above article from NPR, this cornerstone and centerpiece of Obama’s presidential campaign was actually an insignificant speech delivered to about 1,000 people by a little known guy running unopposed for the state Senate, at somebody else’s (Jesse Jackson) rally.    Even Obama’s campaign manager, David Axelrod, has admitted as much.   Quoted in the New York Times Caucus blog lamenting the lack of recorded Iraq war speech material:

“I would kill for that,” he was quoted as saying. “No one realized at the time that it would be a historic thing.”

Similar “nuance” marks the man’s entire biography, yet he has somehow managed to create the illusion of transparency.  When David Axelrod joined (became) Obama’s team in 2004, the elements of Obama’s new, “I am, too, black enough, but not too black, just short of under-handed envelope pushing” political philosophy began to successfully knit themselves  together.  On his AKP&D Message and Media website, “the Axe” takes his full share of credit:

In 2004, Axelrod helped State Senator Barack Obama score a landslide win in his U.S. Senate campaign, developing a message and media strategy that enabled Obama to defeat six opponents in the Democratic primary with an astounding 53% of the vote. He is currently serving as media advisor to Obama’s presidential campaign.

Continue reading

Obacrats Can’t Be This Stupid

05burris-600Whoever thought maneuvering Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich into a position that allowed U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald to officially criminalize machine politics-as-usual for political advantage has got to be the biggest neophyte yahoo rube to come down the pike since…Barack Obama.  Let’s review.  Barack Obama, the only African American in the Senate for two years, mysteriously generates enough money and clout to mount a successful run for the presidency out of a political environment so corrupt that “Lincoln would roll over in his grave,” how?  By being an all-around, all-American, above-board, swell, good guy, of course.  Sure.

Surrounded by his personal band of proselytizing disciples; Rahmbo the Emanuel, Valerie Magdalene, King David of the Astroturf, Antonin of Houses, and Jon, the Groper of Graven Images, to name a few, the Obamessiah scampered above the sewer waters of Illinois corruption as if they were a North Side private gymnasium treadmill.  As a fisher of men, He was often unfortunately touched, but not tainted by, the activities of the unworthy among those He assembled and attempted to make pure, as has been dutifully chronicled by the mainstream media Keepers of the Holy Book of the Obamessiah.  However, Barack remains the Reformer, bathed in the Light.

Clean, bright and articulate by resume, the recent machinations by the Combine Machine of the Obacrats are threatening to reveal enough cracks in the Obamirror of Righteousness to expose His Holy Stupid-as-a-Stumpness in a nationally broadcast Naivete Scene.  Did it never occur to the No Drama Obama crew that manipulating a fellow player not of their clique into a corner carried risks?

When one of their number, Antonin of Houses, stumbled and fell by the wayside, the Obasciples simply stepped gingerly, single-file around him, leaving him where he lay, disavowing him three times as they boarded the Obabus he rolled under when they continued confidently on their preordained journey to the Promised Land.  The Obamessiah did not lay hands upon him, nor did He absolve him of his sin; He simply denied knowledge of him as He brushed His Holy shoulders and allowed Himself to be driven on.  This was a Holy boo-boo.

For Antonin of Houses had special knowledge of Valerie Magdalene and the Obamessiah, and Antonin was pisseth.

Fast forward to the twenty-first century post-election ensconcement of the Obamessiah as President-In-Training Wheels.  Having written and disseminated his own Holy backstory to the Chroniclers, and having consumed their regurgitated praise to his overfill, the Obamesiah, drunk with his own Obamessiah-ness by proxy, allowed Himself to believe He, Jr. Father, Knew Best.  Thus began the chess match, whereby playing unopposed, the Obamessiah cleverly checkmated Himownself.

Seeing a way to eliminate his only real threat to absolute power in His own backyard, Barack of Hyde Park decided to continue to attempt to appear to levitate above the machinations of His betrayed Obasciple of the Houses,  and the locust-and-honey-eating way clearer, the crude Rod the Blagojevich, while shining His Holy Light upon their common evangelical activities, forgetting He too, was bathed in His Own Light.  Thus, He Screweth Himself.

Okay, enough of the Obamessiah allegory; it’s not only making me nauseous, I’m not nearly as good at it as John, South of Melrose over on Liberal Rapture or Gerald Baker; plus I need to be free to call bullshit without all this pseudo-Christian baggage.  So, let’s get back to brass tacks, shall we?

The fact remains that Obama screwed the pooch when he tried to play innocent while pointing the finger at Blagojevich.  Everybody in Illinois knew Blags was under investigation, he even hinted at the worst kept secret in politics the day before he was arrested.  Everybody also knew that even with Rezko’s making like a canary, Fitzgerald didn’t have enough to indict.  He still doesn’t.  But when the president-elect bats his exaggeratedly wide-open eyes and tilts his head in your direction when somebody else calls you a crook, people sit up and take notice.

Obama and company knew that if they dangled the vacant Senate seat plum just right while they dropped unsubtle hints that Fitzgerald was sure to pick up, the investigation against Blags was sure to intensify.  However, methinks they underestimated the existing intensity of the ongoing investigation.  Thinking that the tentacles would subsequently stretch out in all directions, they never considered that they already did, that it wasn’t just one Blagojevich phone that was tapped, and that more of their pre-cleanup involvement was already caught on tape.

Now, the smartest president in the room and his gang have been interviewed in a pay-to-play scam and have proclaimed their innocence, just like Blagojevich, just like Bill Richardson.  Though Blago has been arrested, before his alleged crime could criminally implicate anybody else, he hasn’t been indicted, he was released on a paltry bond, and he remains free to exercise his duties as governor.  And, now that he has done just that, the Obacrats, who for their own nefarious reasons, swept Obama to power, are desperate to get Blags to nullify himself, since they know they have no legal, or moral, authority to do so.  They also know now that Blagojevich knows it, too; by making the appointment, the Obacrats are not only rendered impotent, they’ve handcuffed  and prevented themselves from exercising any power they might once have wielded.  For, even if they impeach Blago, or he now resigns, there’s nothing that would make Roland Burris’ appointment to the Senate retroactively invalid.  From Politico:

The Democrats’ preferred solution to the Burris problem is for the Illinois Legislature to impeach Blagojevich, paving the way for Democratic Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn to take his place and appoint someone other than Burris to Obama’s vacant seat. But even that could create a legal headache, legal observers say, since the Burris appointment would still be pending.

“Even if Blagojevich is impeached, that doesn’t undo all the actions he has taken as governor,” said Andrew Raucci, a former chief justice for the Illinois Court of Claims and now a Chicago-based attorney.

Democrats say that if Burris hasn’t been seated by the time Quinn takes over, he could name someone else to the seat by rescinding Burris’ certification papers.

Burris was having none of it. At a news conference at Chicago’s Midway Airport, the former Illinois attorney general testily said to reporters, “Why don’t you all understand that what has been done here is legal? I am the junior senator from Illinois, and I wish my colleagues in the press would recognize that. All the drama — I guess it keeps you all in a job.”

And, to make bad matters worse, not only is Burris adamant that he is the junior senator from Illinois no matter what ticky-tack maneuvers the Obacrats try to pull, the potential criminalization of day to day political manipulation makes every satellite in the Oba-universe vulnerable.  Just ask Bill Richardson.

The best laid plans of mice and men, gang aft aglae.

Beta-testing “Hope”

Here is Deval Patrick beta testing the Obama message in the Massachusetts governor’s race in 2006;

Yes, Hope and Change are commonly used words but when they are used in virtually the same way by a different transcendent African-American politician, and not only that but he lifts whole segments about the power of “just words”, then what we have here is a case of “Well, it worked so well in Massachusetts, why not with Obama?”

And what the heck is it with all of Obama’s ties to Massachusetts anyway? Kerry, Kennedy, Patrick, it seems like some kind of rich little northeast cabal. Did the old boys club in Massachusetts get all freaked out that a woman might not win (well, a woman vould win. Just not *this* woman.) that they got together to make Obama the inevitable nominee? Is that what this is all about? These wimps, especially Kerry, who were bitch slapped by the Republicans in 2004 and who are still running scared are prepared to do another capitulation to them rather than stand up to the media narrative, defy it and once and for all put them back in their place? Are progressives being thrown under a bus by the hereditary establishment?

Sure looks like it to me. Where did all of Obama’s money come from? It wasn’t all small donations. No one starts out of the gate with that much cash. The whole Kerry endorsement now looks like a sham. He gave Obama his donor lists a year ago, I’m betting.

I always liked Al Gore. I thought he could extrapolate. He can see what’s coming up next. Kerry always struck me as a bit pedantic compared to Gore. So, I have to believe that Gore can see that if Hillary wins the nomination, she will have gone a long way towards breaking the spell and stranglehold the media has on picking our candidates. It is the GOP-media complex that sets up these contests and then tears down our candidate. They are the perception managers. Encouraging the voters to pay no attention to them would be the patriotic thing to do.

Ya know, I don’t know what was up with Gore and the Clintons. Yes, there have been stories but none of it made a whole lot of sense to me. But as much as Bill has been accused of being Hillary’s ventriloquist, she runs circles around Obama on policy in debates. It’s clear that she really knows this stuff. It’s not robotic. She does variations on a theme. You can’t fake it and she doesn’t. She’s wheathered some of the worst media possible. I don’t think either Gore or Kerry ever had it this bad. She *is* solidly progressive. We don’t really know what Obama is, but we know he’s not necessarily channeling his own inspiration when he speaks.

If Gore was waiting for her to earn it, I think she’s pretty much done that. Surely the Goracle can see who is the better candidate at this point. Here’s a hint: It’s not the one who was given the Deval’s campaign by David Axelrod in the hopes that rhetoric would mask a lack of real substance. The mask is off.

And for you Obamaphiles who are angry because Clinton’s campaign has finally exposed Obama for what he is, well, better late than never.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 413 other followers