Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Yes, I Can! Now I'm Pro-bama!
Barack Me, Obamadeus!!!

I've finally come around. I have seen the light and recognize that the only hope for our nation and the world rests upon the shoulders of that inspiring, passionate young Kenyan-Hawai'ian-Kansan Senator from Illinois. I have been won over by his progressive patriotism; his refusal to pander to the flag-pin wearing and pledge of allegiance empty gesture gestapo; his fierce commitment to change while making sure that everything will stay exactly the same.

Meanwhile, Obama's audacity to dream for a just future and see the best in this nation's worst helps make each and every white liberal from here to Berkeley feel less guilty about being white and not having any black friends. The next president can now be our black friend! It's basically a win-win situation for everyone (as long as you don't count 95% of the world). And I've come to embrace that hope.

Maybe it's Obama's bizarrely intense insistence that he's not Muslim that has made me see things a bit more clearly than I used to. As the multhiethnic, multiracial, multinational candidate for unity, peace, and understanding, it's certainly a relief that Obama so adamantly and unequivocally distances himself from twenty percent of the world's population, including millions of Americans. Personally, I just thank gawd that someone named Barack Hussein Obama can be just as xenophobic as the rest of the American ignorami.

Maybe it's Obama's stature as the "anti-war" candidate that has influenced my dazzling about-face. I mean, isn't this the guy who refuses to ever utter the words imperial, aggressive, or illegal when describing the actions of George W. Bush and Dick Cheney? This is the guy who has called any consideration of impeachment "unacceptable." Obama is my beloved presidential peacenik because he, as Paul Street reports,

has reassured the U.S. foreign policy establishment of his willingness to stay firmly within the spectrum of acceptable imperial opinion by voicing strong support for the U.S.-led bombing and invasion of Afghanistan that followed in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. According to Obama throughout the current ongoing contest, one of the main problems with George W. Bush's "mistake" (the Democratic presidential front runner never calls it a crime or immoral) of invading Iraq was that it has "diverted" U.S. military resources that should have been dedicated to the smart and just war in (on) Afghanistan. Like other official "doves" on the "bad war" in Iraq, he was a hawk on the supposedly "good war" in Afghanistan.
It really is comforting to hear that acting against the will of the world or the authorization of the UN by relentlessly bombing the civilian population of a sovereign country (an act that would undoubtedly yield substantial casualties) was the right thing to do and that, in Obama's own words to ABC on March 3rd, the president "responded properly when it came to Afghanistan."

Is this why I now love Barack Obama? It can't just be his enthusiasm for the first illegal invasion and occupation of the Bush administration, can it? No way. There's so much more, I almost don't know what to mention first. Almost.

I think what everyone really loves about Obama is his stalwart position against what everyone likes to call the "war" in Iraq - seems a bit more like an illegal invasion and subsequent brutal and never-ending occupation to me - but, hey, semantics schmemantics, right? Why split hairs when discussing aggressive American imperialism based on a web of dizzying lies and fabrications? Obama and his giddy supporters really like to tout his anti-war credentials ad nauseum, stating that their (and now my) candidate had opposed the war from the start. They like to reference Obama's October 26, 2002 speech at Daley Plaza in Chicago when he supposedly spoke out against the impending Iraq invasion (a speech that was removed from Obama's website once he became a viable presidential candidate). At the time, Obama was a State Senator and seemed to recognize that Iraq posed no threat to the United States, yet also revealed his belief that wars should be fought against "terrorism" and "intolerance" and that "even a successful war against Iraq will require a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences."

Even a successful war? I guess that the lack of evidence for any rationale or legal authority for the US to invade another country, in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions and International Law, wasn't enough to make Obama denounce the looming invasion, but rather that even though there was the potential for a "victory" (over what remains unclear and unspoken), the cost for such a win would be hard on the American people and might elicit unforeseen reactions. Throughout this speech, Obama repeats one point at least five times. He states, over and over again, that he does not "oppose all wars," but only "rash" and "dumb" ones. He, apparently, is a big fan of well-reasoned wars. And personally, that's what I like to see in our peace candidate. I mean, I like peace, but don't like being called a wuss. I hate being associated with the radical, far left, hippie crowd. The pinko tree-huggers who don't like neoliberal economics and question how great this country is and always has been (as long as you weren't a Native American, a black person, had a vagina, or lived in Hawaii, the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Cuba, Guam, Samoa, Yugoslavia, every single country in Central or South America, Iran, Mexico, Haiti, Dominican Republic, Congo, Angola, Somalia, Lebanon, Indonesia, Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Grenada, Bosnia, Pakistan, Palestine, Afghanistan, or Iraq). So, self-proclaimed liberals, don't worry about seeming too dissident. Obama helps you feel nice and secure in your pretend pragmatism and phony progressiveness, and his 2002 speech "against" the "war" was no different.

As Paul Street explains, "It was not a Left oration. Calling Bush's imminent war "dumb" but not criminal or immoral, it deleted the illegal and petro-imperialist ambitions behind the Iraq invasion being planned in Washington. It said nothing about the racist nature of the administration's determination to conflate Iraq with 9/11 and al Qaeda. It argued that invading Iraq would be a foreign policy mistake - something that would likely not work for American power - but NOT that it would be a brazenly imperialist transgression certain to kill untold masses of innocent Iraqis."

But, in truth, no one really wants an "anti-war" president when they can so easily have an "anti-this particular war at this particular time because it wasn't 'successful' and over a million Iraqis have been murdered, about five million Iraqis have been displaced either within Iraq or have fled to other countries, four thousand US troops have been killed, and the cost of the occupation will soar to over three trillion dollars when all is said and done, and oh yeah, and public opinion is against the war now so I guess I am too" president. Actually, Obama doesn't tend to mention the Iraqi dead or cite any moral reasons for opposing the invasion of Iraq. I just threw that in there because I believe he truly cares, though keeps forgetting to say anything. He's very busy after all.

Actually, what I really like about Obama's "anti-war"ishness is that, when asked what he would have done had he actually been in a political position to vote on the Iraq Resolution, the Senator told the New York Times on July 26, 2004, "What would I have done? I don't know. What I know is that from my vantage point the case [for authorizing the president to declare war, instead of abiding by the Constitution] was not made." Granted, this isn't a solid admission that he would have voted to yes on that particular resolution, but he does make clear that had he been "privy to Senate intelligence reports," like Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, John Edwards, Joe Biden, Chris Dodd, Tom Daschle, Chuck Schumer, and the sixty-nine other senators who voted yes, he may have made a different decision.

This Times interview, as Paul Street reports, "came one day before Obama delivered the speech that is widely credited for creating his overnight national notoriety - his famous Keynote Address to the 2004 Democratic Convention. That's the speech where Obama referred to Americans as 'one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.'" Street continues,
The national narcissism and militarism that lay at the heart of Obama's Keynote Address was more quietly evident when Obama discussed the terrible blood costs of the Iraq occupation purely in terms of "the more than nine hundred [U.S.] men and women - sons and daughters, husbands and wives, friends and neighbors - who won't be returning to their hometowns. I think," Obama said, "of the families I've met who were struggling to get by without a loved one's full income, or whose loved ones had returned with a limb missing or nerves shattered, but who still lacked long-term health benefits because they were reservists."

In the part of The Speech that came closest to directly criticizing the Iraq invasion, Obama suggested that the Bush administration had "fudged the numbers" and "shad[ed] the truth" about why "our young men and women" were "sent into harm's way." He added that the U.S. must "care for [soldiers'] families while they're gone, tend to the soldiers upon their return, and never go to war without enough troops to win the war, secure the peace, and earn the respect of the world."

What, morally cognizant listeners were left to wonder, about the considerably larger quantity (well into the tens of thousands) of Iraqis who had been killed and maimed and who lost income as a result of the criminal U.S. invasion of their country by the summer of 2004? What about the massive harm U.S. forces were ordered to inflict on Iraqis, considerably greater than the damage they experienced?

It is hardly a "war," moreover, when the most powerful military state in history attacks and colonially occupies a weak nation it has already devastated over decades of military assault and even deadlier "economic sanctions."

"Securing the peace" was a morally impoverished and nationally arrogant, self-serving way for Obama to describe the real White House objective in Iraq by the summer of 2004: to pacify, by force when (quite) necessary, the outraged populace of a nation that understandably resented a brazenly imperial invasion it saw (with good reason) as driven by the United States' desire to deepen its control of Iraqi and Middle Eastern oil.

And "shade the truth" didn't come close to doing justice to the high-state deception - the savage, sinister, and sophisticated lying - that the Bush administration used and is still using to cover their real agenda, understood with no small accuracy by the people of Iraq.

Obama's comment about never "going to war" without the resources to "win" and to keep the world's "respect" evaded the critical question of the invasion's unjust nature. What, after all, was the leading problem with Hitler's invasion of the Soviet Union ? Was it that he we went in without the capacity to "win" and thereby lost global esteem or was it that he launched a monumentally criminal, racist and mass-murderous war of imperial aggression that killed millions of Russians, Germans and other Eastern and Central Europeans?!
Ok, ok, ok. Enough about Iraq! Seriously, is it really that important anyway? Probably not. So, moving on to other things I now love about Obama, let's talk about his voting to continue funding the occupation of Iraq every single time war budget bills were brought to the floor of the Senate. Or his interest in keeping thousands and thousands of US soldiers in Iraq even after his famed "withdrawal" in order to protect the gigantic US embassy/permanent military base and carry out "anti-terrorism" operations. Oh wait, sorry. That's about Iraq again. My bad. How about his voting to reauthorize the Patriot Act in July of 2005, thereby continuing to support the utter destruction of American civil liberties and authorizing the spying on American citizens under the guise of fighting those wily terrorists. Or maybe it's the fact that he voted to confirm Condaleezza Rice as Secretary of State, voted against Alberto Gonzalez's confirmation, and didn't show up to vote either way on Michael Mukasey. Maybe it's because he calls Joe Lieberman his Senate mentor. Maybe it's because of his hawkish stand on Iran and Pakistan and his interest in taking troops out of Iraq in order to put them back into Afghanistan. Maybe it's because he loves to talk tough about not taking money from lobbyists, even though he actually does. No wait, it's because you think he's in favor of stopping nuclear proliferation and dismantling of America's nuclear weaponry whereas he's actually in bed with the nuclear industry and wants more nuclear capabilities! Maybe it's because he doesn't rule out the use of mercenaries unaccountable to US or international law in America's violent foreign campaigns. Maybe it's because he is opposed to universal health care, praises the anti-social and destructive free market economy, and opposes gay marriage, stating clearly that, "I'm a Christian. And so, although I try not to have my religious beliefs dominate or determine my political views on this issue, I do believe that tradition, and my religious beliefs say that marriage is something sanctified between a man and a woman."

Speaking of Obama being a Christian, did you know that he's not a Muslim? Like really, definitely not? Oh, did we cover that already? Well, not in these terms: Obama has taken such pains to show himself to be an unshakeable friend of Israel that he really doesn't want anyone to think he's a Muslim. Obama loves Israel so much that he approved of the brutal and illegal Gaza seige and keeps proclaiming how staunch his support is for that rogue, racist, Apartheid, state. Any champion of civil rights and tolerance might balk at supporting a state that claims to be both "democractic and Jewish" in the same breath, but not my man Barack. Quite the contrary, Obama has done his damnedest to pander to pro-Israel apologists by condemning only Palestinian and Arab terrorism and refusing to accept that the troubles in the Middle East have anything to do with the Zionist theft of Palestine and subsequent subjugation of an entire people for over 60 years, instead blaming solely "the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam."

As a quick refresher on Zionism, Joe Mowrey reminds us that,
Zionism is the political ideology which promotes the exclusivity of Jews in Israel over any other racial, religious or ethnic group. Zionism, by definition, is racism. Israel, with the full support and funding of the United States, flagrantly violates international law and engages in the systematic ethnic cleansing and oppression of the Palestinian people as well as in the establishment of an apartheid system, not just in the West Bank and Gaza, but in Israel proper. The illegal colonization of Palestinian lands is an international crime and a model of institutionalized racism which is without equal any where in the world in that it is so widely ignored and even encouraged by the majority of so-called civilized nations. More importantly, what is largely forgotten in the little discussion there is of illegal settlement activities being practiced by Israel, is that the settlements themselves are racially exclusive. Jews only need apply. Palestinians aren't even allowed to drive on the same roads as the Israelis in the Palestinians' own territory. I wonder how Mr. Obama would respond if Canada decided to build huge whites-only cities in U.S. territory. I wonder if he would be willing to refrain from driving on a series of Canadians-only roads connecting those illegal colonies. It would only be a security precaution, after all, and Canada is such a stalwart ally of ours.
But, at least, Obama is clear-headed, even-handed, and open-minded enough to know that Israel has absolutely no role in Middle East affairs or the ever increasing drive toward Western militarism, colonialism, occupation, hegemony, and imperialism in the region.

Oh wait, I know I know! What made me turn the corner on the Obama campaign must have been his universally (read: corrupt media and historically unaware American public) lauded race speech, entitled "A More Perfect Union," delivered on March 18, 2008 in, Philadelphia, the city of brotherly love. How fitting. Barack really brought the ol' house down with this one. He fully denounced Rev. Wright's lucid and very true comments about American racism and foreign policy blowback, stating that his pastor expresses "a profoundly distorted view of this country - a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America." Words like this inspire me (even though it's curious that Obama has not felt the need to distance himself from Martin Luther King, Jr., who, spoke vehemently against the Vietnam War and called the United States government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.") I am very glad I don't have to feel bad about this country's systematic racism, even though, as Paul Street writes,
Sorry, but white racism is in fact endemic in the United States, even if the U.S. has stopped being what Wright calls (in one of the clips circulated by presumed Obama enemies) "the US of KKK." As Obama certainly knows quite well, anti-black racism is deeply rooted in how U.S. real estate and labor markets operate, how the U.S. education system functions, how home mortgages are marketed, how credit is extended, how the U.S. criminal justice system works, how economic development is directed, how health care is structured, and much more. There's a vast body of research (I have produced some of it) showing persistent systematic anti-black discrimination and bias in the schooling, feeding, training, hiring, promoting/demoting, healing, insuring, serving, reporting, patrolling, monitoring, arresting, sentencing, incarcerating, transporting, empowering, representing, funding, evaluating, assisting, analyzing, judging, televising, praising, punishing, rewarding, shaming. birthing, killing, and burying of the American people. Multidimensional institutional and societal racism remains deeply woven into the fabric of the nation's institutions and daily life.

What Obama really means to say is that many, maybe most white folks no longer see it as politically correct to be openly race-prejudiced in the U.S. He also means to convey that white America is now much less consciously and intentionally racist than it used to be.
And that's good enough for me. I've always been a fan of letting injustice off easy and finally I have a candidate who allows me to feel good about that trait of mine. I can finally be proud to live in a land where the "hope" and "change" candidate for president can say, with a straight face, "I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies."

Dissent truly is over-rated and because of this, I stand with Obama. I stand with Obama now and I stand with Obama until midnight tonight, at which point April Fools Day will be over and I can go back to having the slightest bit of self-respect, morality, and good judgment.

Barack, I'm not fooled. But it's good for you that everyone else is.



johnsic said...

Oh lord Baltimore.....

So many good points again in your blog. You never really fooled me though. I know you too well. BUT, I get the feeling that to actually do love Obama but you just keep talking yourself out of it because, in truth, your ideal candidate would never be elected. Ever. Never. Ever. I think you know, practically speaking, that he's the closest thing to us that might ever have a chance to win. And to me, at this point, is the most important thing. I know you don't really believe McCain and Obama are of the same cloth, do you?

johnsic said...

The irony here is that you really do want Obama to be our next president. Fool me once, fool me twice, can't get fooled again...

Nima Shirazi said...

johnsic -

Just because my ideal candidate (my brother, and not just because he has a heckuva jump shot) would never be elected ("Ever. Never. Ever," as you put it), doesn't necessarily mean that I secretly want Obama to win or that I like his policies in any way.

Do I want John McCain to win? Absolutely not. Do I think that Obama and McCain are the same and would both present an identical future for this country and for the world? No, of course not.

Do I think, however, that Obama is everything (anything?) that his enthusiastic supporters and promoters claim (or possibly even believe) he is? No. And this is why I devote some (much? most?) of my time here on this blog to exposing the realities of Obama's campaigning and policies. I am not at all opposed to people choosing to cast their vote for Barack Obama come November (provided there actually is an election); what I am opposed to is the idea that Obama really is this luminary vision of hope and change - because, quite simply, he's not.

If change means "black guy, not white guy," then sure, he's kind of a change. And that would be great. But if change means actually changing the system of abusive government, fixing the lack of corporate oversight and regulation, stopping anti-social economics, and ending the hegemonic and imperial ideology of this militaristic society we live in these days, then Obama signals no real change.

I just want readers (if there are any) to understand what they are actually voting for and to be confident in that choice. I do not wish to sway anybody away from the Obama camp - if only because there's no other camp that has any chance to win that would be any better or less destructive - I only want voters to know why they're voting a certain way, not to believe campaign and media hype, and to recognize which of their own morals, ethics, beliefs, and issues they are casting aside in order to vote, in good conscience, for which ever candidate they choose to vote for.

The best argument I've heard yet for actively supporting Obama is the issue of the Supreme Court. Even if Obama and McCain acted the same on every issue I care about (which, granted, I understand they wouldn't - necessarily), McCain's appointees to the Supreme Court over the next four or eight (yikes) years would be considerably different that Obama's. Goodbye Roe v. Wade, for starters. And that's really bad news. So, on that front, I completely understand the importance, or even necessity, to support Obama.

I understand all these things, but am left with such little faith in Barack (especially due to his increasing pandering to elements that I believe are truly diabolical and inexcusable) that I still don't believe I'd rest easy having voted for him. He still just doesn't pass my "breaking point" test. Yes, I agree with him on some things, and strongly disagree on others. But there are fundamental things that I find appalling about him - and so far they have trumped what I may like about him to a large extent.

I encourage everyone to just actually learn about Obama and make an informed decision. If he passes your own "breaking point" test, then by all means vote for him. As a friend of mine said to me, "Like you, I was kicking myself after voting for Kerry because I thought he was a complete d-bag. I promised I wouldn't do that again. However, for me, Obama is somehow different, if only in his ability to get people active and involved. He's kind of like Howard Dean except not so bat-shit crazy."

It's all about what you feel to be the right thing to do. I just don't the idea of people making uninformed decisions. That's all, really. To say that Obama is an "anti-war" candidate or that his proposed policies and professed ideals are different from what we've seen for the past fifty years is unfortunately untrue, and I don't like when people who think they know what's up repeat those bullshit talking points. They've been duped. If they know that Obama isn't a radical and isn't a progressive and is barely even a liberal (whatever that is) but want to vote for him anyway, great. But at least they're not being fooled.

Anonymous said...

I just googled the Barack me, Obamadeus quote, and this came up.
Wow. The president has already been elected, and I assume that this was written well before that, so all of this is meaningless conjecture... But wow.
I am going to read your blog. I disagree with most if not all of your views, but you, sir, have elevated Sarcasm to an Art Form. Regardless of my views or possible fallacies or falsehoods, I enjoyed this post. There were points where I genuinely couldn't tell if you were a sarcastic Republican or a unintelligent Democrat who was quoting all the wrong sources.
The best sarcastic essay that I have read to date.
I salute you.