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Archive for the tag “Barack Obama”

Ain’t that the truth!

Hat-tip to Notes from a commonplace book for this response from Pravda to Barack Obama’s election as US president.

A change for the better – Pravda.Ru:

Only Satan would have been worse than the Bush regime. Therefore it could be argued that the new administration in the USA could never be worse than the one which divorced the hearts and minds of Americans from their brothers in the international community, which appalled the rest of the world with shock and awe tactics that included concentration camps, torture, mass murder and utter disrespect for international law. Yet in choosing Obama, the people of America have opted to come back into the international fold. Welcome back, friends!

Barack Obama is one man who has a mission and a dream. He will not change the world, as he claims and he might not even change the USA, in the near future at least. Powerful lobbies control the strings which control the puppets in Washington – indeed, it is not Washington that needs to be changed, but the invisible barons dictating its policies.

Politics and pessimism

So it looks as though Barack Obama is going to win the US Presidential election, and that the Democratic Party in the US will have a majority in the legislature as well.

No doubt his supporters will be elated.

For myself, I’m relieved, rather than happy.

I’m relieved that the nightmare of an unpredictable warmongering president of the US threatening to start World War III that has dominated the last eight years may be over.

I think there are many others who feel the same way.

There is widespread relief around the world that the Bush years are almost over.

But why not elation?

I suppose for me the reason is that history has shown that the Democratic Party in the US is no less inclined to war-mongering than the Republican Party. It’s just slightly less lunatic and unpredictable about it.

Bush (father and son) may have bombed Baghdad, but I cannot forget that it was Clinton, a Democrat, who bombed Belgrade.

And it was his colleague Madeleine Albright who forced war on Yugoslavia with just as much manic determination as George Bush II forced it on Iraq, and it was she, who, when asked if the lives of half a million Iraqi children was a price worth paying for American hegemony in the Middle East, said “We think the price is worth it.”

But in another respect, one can hope for better things. Under Bill Clinton’s Demcratic Party the US at least had balanced budgets, while the Republican administration of George Bush spent like there was no tomorrow, and have left the mess for Barack Obama to pick up. Will eight years be enough to sort out the mess that George Bush left?

So I hope Barack Obama lives up to the hopes that have been placed in him. I think back to the time when Tony Blair was elected as Prime Minister of the UK, and the hopes he aroused. Like Obama, he was young and dynamic and was a new broom promising change. But in the end he was a disappointment, and turned out to be as much a warmonger as Bill Clinton and George Bush combined.

Of course young dynamic leaders are attractive, but age is not necessarily a barrier. In South Africa Nelson Mandela was the best President or Prime Minister the coutnry has ever had since the union was formed in 1910, and he was also, at the time he was elected, probably the oldest.

His successors seem determined to destroy his legacy by squabbling over the spoils of office in bitter personal rivalries and factions. It is sad to see the ANC destroying itself like that.

There’s much talk about Mbhazima Shilowa and Terror Lekota forming a new party, which has been dubbed “Shikota” by journalists. But they somehow don’t bring as much hope as Barack Obama. I wonder how much they are driven by principle, and how much by sour grapes. Shilowa at least had the vision of an integrated transport system for Gauteng, and the progress in building the new commuter train line between Johannesburg and Pretoria is a tribute to his vision and energy. So perhaps there is some hope there.

Well, I hope Barack Obama will live up to the hopes of his supporters. I hope he will not start any new wars, and that he will succeed in bringing an end to the ones started by his predecessors. But somehow I don’t think history is on his side. Undoing the damage done by George Bush in the US and in the world may take a lot more than eight years, more likely eight generations.

See also Abstractions: Remember, remember, the 5th of November…, with some interesting links.

What will Caliban do next?

Zero Plus Zero Equals Zero – by Philip Giraldi:

If the next president is John McCain, one might well expect a continuation of the Bush Doctrine, with its disregard of world opinion and its emphasis on preemption and the use of the military to solve complex international problems. If it is Barack Obama, he will hopefully have a predilection to negotiate before bombing and a greater willingness to listen to the views of America’s foreign allies. But on key issues such as the Middle East, where Obama is advised by neocon-lite Dennis Ross and other Clinton administration holdovers like Madeleine Albright and Richard Holbrooke, one can expect little change. There might even be a regrettable tendency to demonstrate an Obama administration’s seriousness by picking a ‘small crappy little country and throwing it against the wall’ just to make a point, something that leading neocon Michael Ledeen has recommended (hat-tip to A conservative blog for peace.

The first decade of the 21st century has been marked by the Caliban versus Taliban wars. At least that is what it seems like, in the light of Robert Browning’s poem, Caliban upon Setebos:

Thinketh, such shows nor right nor wrong in Him
Nor kind, nor cruel: He is strong and Lord.

Am strong myself compared to yonder crabs
That march now from the mountain to the sea;
Let twenty pass, and stone the twenty-first,
Loving not, hating not, just choosing so.
Say, the first straggle that boasts purple spots
Shall join the file, one pincer twisted off
Say, this bruised fellow shall receive a worm,
and two worms he whose nippers end in red;
As it likes me each time, I do; so He.

And Caliban seems to be an appropriate metaphor for the USA — much strength, little intelligence, arbitrarily throwing some crappy little country against a wall like a crab, just to make a point, or even to make no point at all, as in the case of Iraq.

US election campaign rhetoric

As I’ve said elsewhere, the US presidential election campaign has reached the boring stage, in which mud-slinging has replaced rational debate on policies. But some people seem to find it more worrying than boring, especially when it comes to things like this

OPINION Blog | The Dallas Morning News:

It’s increasingly worrying that John McCain and Sarah Palin are embracing the acceptability of campaign tactics that play to the most racist and intolerant tendencies among their supporters. John McCain knows that Barack Obama has no links whatsoever to terrorism, and yet he’s doing everything he can to create that linkage. And he’s unleashing Sarah Palin to do his dirty work while McCain claims to be above this condemnable form of negative campaigning.

Hat-tip to Scyldings in the Mead-Hall who says: “I’m sorry, but intentionally or not, it sounds far too much like the tactics of a certain rabble rousing housepainter from Munich.” And tactics familiar to those of us in South Africa who lived through the National Party regime of Verwoerd, Vorster et al.

I haven’t been following it all that closely. Much of the rhetoric flying around now does not come from the candidates but from their “campaigns”, and their supporters engaging in juvenile tactics of misspelling names in laboured political puns.

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it dozens of times, people claiming that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a Muslim. That’s about as convincing as saying that Sarah Palin is a Muslim because she’s the governor of Al Aska.

I read newsgroup headings about the RePUGs and the GOP’ukes and the DemocRATs, and I think of all the benefits that the Internet had brought mankind — that infantile insults like these can be transmitted around the world instead of being confined to late-night seedy bars.

So I take this kind of rhetoric with a pinch of salt.

I remember that at one time the Anglican Dean of Johannesburg, Gonville Aubie ffrench-Beytagh, was charged with terrorism and that one of the items on the charge sheet was that he had said that Brigadier “Rooi Rus” Swanepoel of the Security Police (a nototious torturer) should be shot. It was a casual throwaway remark that anyone could make, and to treat it seriously as evidence of a conspiracy to kill him seemed ridiculous.

The courts thought so too, and ffrench-Beytagh was acquitted.

And so I’m inclined to think that this kind of rhetoric by the US presidential “campaigns” is just silly season hype.

But then I remember that Robert Kennedy was murdered while campaigning. And Martin Luther King, though not a candidate, was murdered a few months before.

So perhaps it’s more chilling than I thought.

US election campaign rhetoric

As I’ve said elsewhere, the US presidential election campaign has reached the boring stage, in which mud-slinging has replaced rational debate on policies. But some people seem to find it more worrying than boring, especially when it comes to things like this

OPINION Blog | The Dallas Morning News:

It’s increasingly worrying that John McCain and Sarah Palin are embracing the acceptability of campaign tactics that play to the most racist and intolerant tendencies among their supporters. John McCain knows that Barack Obama has no links whatsoever to terrorism, and yet he’s doing everything he can to create that linkage. And he’s unleashing Sarah Palin to do his dirty work while McCain claims to be above this condemnable form of negative campaigning.

Hat-tip to Scyldings in the Mead-Hall who says: “I’m sorry, but intentionally or not, it sounds far too much like the tactics of a certain rabble rousing housepainter from Munich.” And tactics familiar to those of us in South Africa who lived through the National Party regime of Verwoerd, Vorster et al.

I haven’t been following it all that closely. Much of the rhetoric flying around now does not come from the candidates but from their “campaigns”, and their supporters engaging in juvenile tactics of misspelling names in laboured political puns.

If I’ve seen it once, I’ve seen it dozens of times, people claiming that Barack HUSSEIN Obama is a Muslim. That’s about as convincing as saying that Sarah Palin is a Muslim because she’s the governor of Al Aska.

I read newsgroup headings about the RePUGs and the GOP’ukes and the DemocRATs, and I think of all the benefits that the Internet had brought mankind — that infantile insults like these can be transmitted around the world instead of being confined to late-night seedy bars.

So I take this kind of rhetoric with a pinch of salt.

I remember that at one time the Anglican Dean of Johannesburg, Gonville Aubie ffrench-Beytagh, was charged with terrorism and that one of the items on the charge sheet was that he had said that Brigadier “Rooi Rus” Swanepoel of the Security Police (a nototious torturer) should be shot. It was a casual throwaway remark that anyone could make, and to treat it seriously as evidence of a conspiracy to kill him seemed ridiculous.

The courts thought so too, and ffrench-Beytagh was acquitted.

And so I’m inclined to think that this kind of rhetoric by the US presidential “campaigns” is just silly season hype.

But then I remember that Robert Kennedy was murdered while campaigning. And Martin Luther King, though not a candidate, was murdered a few months before.

So perhaps it’s more chilling than I thought.

McCain not "natural born" citizen after all

It seems that people have been querying the citizenship of both leading candidates for the US presidency — Barack Obama’s father was Kenyan, but he was born in the USA. John McCain, however, was not.

clipped from www.nytimes.com

In the most detailed examination yet of Senator John McCain’s eligibility to be president, a law professor at the University of Arizona has concluded that neither Mr. McCain’s birth in 1936 in the Panama Canal Zone nor the fact that his parents were American citizens is enough to satisfy the constitutional requirement that the president must be a “natural-born citizen.”

The analysis, by Prof. Gabriel J. Chin, focused on a 1937 law that has been largely overlooked in the debate over Mr. McCain’s eligibility to be president. The law conferred citizenship on children of American parents born in the Canal Zone after 1904, and it made John McCain a citizen just before his first birthday. But the law came too late, Professor Chin argued, to make Mr. McCain a natural-born citizen.

“It’s preposterous that a technicality like this can make a difference in an advanced democracy,” Professor Chin said. “But this is the constitutional text that we have.”

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Decimating moral values

Christian Conservatives Uniting Behind McCain – Swampland – TIME:

At a meeting Tuesday in Denver, about 100 conservative Christian leaders from around the country agreed to unite behind the candidacy of John McCain, a politician they have long distrusted, marking the latest in a string of movements that bode well for McCain’s general election prospects among the Republican base.

‘Collectively we feel that he will support and advance those moral values that we hold much greater than Obama, who in our view will decimate moral values,’ said Mat Staver, the chairman of Liberty Counsel, a legal advocacy group, who previously supported Mike Huckabee’s candidacy.

Hat-tip to Richard Catto for this one. Richard comments:

Hahahahahaha!!! Obama is going to DECIMATE moral values, is he? He’s going to kill every tenth one, or one in every ten, is he?

Really? Wow! Secretly, I am hoping it’s the 6th one (do not commit adultery).

And of course the same charge could be levelled against John McCain, and could already have been levelled against George Bush, who has already decimated moral values: Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s oil.

I wonder if Mat Staver could be more specific about which one he thinks Barack Obama is intending to knock off, and what evidence that he has that John McCain will not do the same.

I Just Love Irony

Notes from a Common-place Book: I Just Love Irony:

Today I read where Dr. James Dobson took issue with Barack Obama, here. I particularly noted one quote:

‘I think he’s deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology,’ Dobson said, adding that Obama is ‘dragging biblical understanding through the gutter.’

Maybe the word ‘traditional’ has a different meaning to Dr. Dobson. But of course, he should be an expert when it comes to ‘confused theology.’

Like I say, I just love irony.

What more can one say?

Why Clinton Lost and why Obama won

The media have been going to town on Barack Obama’s clinching of the US Democratic Party’s nomination as presidential candidate.

The South African media, in their usual racist fashion, have concentrated on the superficialities — the colour of Obama’s skin. That says more about South African society than it does about the US presidential election — it shows that nearly 15 years after the end of apartheid, we are still obsessed with race, to the exclusion of other considerations.

Very few have have mentioned what could be Obama’s downfall — his attitude satirised in the song:

The working class can kiss my arse
I’ve got the foreman’s job at last

in his sudden back-tracking on peace by announcing that he wouldn’t talk to Hamas, showing that the “change you can believe in” hype was just that – hype, and that underneath, once he had secured the nomination, he was reverting to the same old image of the warmongering USA, bully boy of the world.

But these pieces give a different view, which the mainstram media seem to have missed:

ZNet – Why Clinton Lost:

Yesterday, brought another effort: Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter offers ‘Five Reasons Obama Won. Five Reasons Clinton Lost.’ Those latter five, which in places echo the Journal, boil down to ‘No Respect for the Voters,’ ‘Poor Strategy,’ ‘Weak Management,’ ‘Arrogance,’ and ‘Entitlement.’

Both of these pieces offer smart insights about why Clinton lost, and it’s hard to dispute the salience of any of these factors. But neither the Journal nor Alter give significant consideration to an additional factor that may have been more important than any other: Clinton’s vote to go to war in Iraq.

Even before this latest batch of stories, the media’s efforts to explain Clinton’s struggles have consistently downplayed Iraq, as bloggers like The Atlantic’s Matthew Yglesias and Atrios have pointed out.

It’s hard to remember now, but last year, when he was a dark-horse challenger, Obama’s consistent opposition to the war, along with Clinton’s vote for it, provided much of the rationale for his long-shot candidacy. Without that black-and-white contrast, it’s doubtful whether his insurgent campaign could have gotten off the ground.

And Stephen Zunes, professor of Politics at the University of San Francisco says ZNet – Why Obama Won:

Barack Obama has won the race for the Democratic nomination for president against Hillary Clinton on the issues. Sort of.

This is not what the pundits will tell you, who would rather focus upon the most superficial and trivial aspects of the two final candidates’ style, personality, associates, personal history, and campaign organization and strategy, not to mention race and gender.

This is not what many on the left will say either, in recognition of how little differences there were between the two candidates’ stated positions on most policies.

Another difference between the two, which has nothing to do with sex or skin, is that Barack seems to be populist, while Hillary seems to be elitist. This point has been noted by several bloggers, like Tauratinzwe in Observations from the Sidelines: Yes, WE Can!:

The essential difference between Barak Obama and Hillary Clinton is found in their use of the first person pronoun.

Listen to Hillary and you hear the first person singular used over and over. ‘I will . . . ‘ ‘I have . . . ‘ I – I – I.

Listen to Obama and you hear the first person plural pronoun. ‘We can . . . ‘ ‘We are able . . . ‘ ‘Yes we can!’ ‘Si, se puede!’

The second person plural pronoun is also used differently. Clinton says she will do things for you. Obama says he will enable you to do things.

Now I’m not a fundi on US politics, and as I’ve noted in my blogs, I sometimes find it difficult to understand American culture, but until Obama capitulated to the Israel lobby last week, I thought he might be the better of the two. I do have a stake in American politics — after all, as a result of George Bush’s warmongering and other policies we are paying a lot more for fuel and food. So it would be nice to be able to believe in change, and that makes Obama’s backpedalling even more disappointing.

Oh well, so much for peace

If anyone thought the next US President might offer change you can believe in, they were obviously sucked in by a lot of empty rhetoric.

Hat-tip to Sam PF for this one.

clipped from news.bbc.co.uk

Barack Obama has pledged unwavering support for Israel in his first foreign policy speech since declaring himself the Democratic nominee for president.

He told the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (Aipac), a prominent lobbying group, that Israel’s security was “sacrosanct” and “non-negotiable”.

Mr Obama told Aipac real security came from lasting peace in the Middle East – and he would work from the start of his administration to achieve a Palestinian state alongside an Israeli one, but with Jerusalem as the undivided capital of Israel – a comment rejected by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

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