Barack Hussein Obama

24 Oct

Horses, Bayonets … and COWS?

in Barack Hussein Obama, Elections
Official photographic portrait of US President...

Official photographic portrait of US President Barack Obama (born 4 August 1961; assumed office 20 January 2009) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Excerpt from my latest post at the Foreign Policy Association:

From the Associated Press to the Huffington Post and everything in between, Obama emerged as the clear front-runner in this war of wits. In responding to Romney’s diminished tally of naval ships by noting that “we also have fewer horses and bayonets,” Obama showcased his own experience in this area while simultaneously casting his opponent as uninformed, naïve and generationally disconnected. While it may not have changed any minds, the the only ones not laughing this morning are those powerful representatives of America’s bayonet lobby.

In all likelihood, Romney’s statement probably had less to do with any reasoned analysis or personal stance on nautical dominance than as a dog whistle for a candidate lacking service history to appear pro-military. His choice of anachronisms may have set Obama up for the easy one-two, but in responding to such platitudes with humor, the president revealed a tacit agreement with his opponent’s underlying assumption that military strength is derived from superior hardware. Unfortunately for both candidates, and our national discourse, this is empirically fallacious.


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278 of 366

in 04.10.2012, 365: the 2012 edition, 365:2012, Barack Hussein Obama, Day 278, Storm, Video

278 of 366

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  • Photo owner: Jay Daverth
  • Date Taken: Thu, 2012-10-04 11:00
  • Date Uploaded: Sat, 2012-10-20 22:11
  • Views: 1
Storm coming in. Think I went a little crazy with the post-processing tho...

156 of 366

in 04.06.2012, 365: the 2012 edition, 365:2012, Barack Hussein Obama, Daughter, Day 156, Family, Food, Girls, Jessilyn, Video

156 of 366

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  • Photo owner: Jay Daverth
  • Date Taken: Mon, 2012-06-04 12:19
  • Date Uploaded: Wed, 2012-06-20 13:59
  • Views: 1
Little girl + Giant Burrito.
13 Dec

The Violence Within: Bring the troops home

in Barack Hussein Obama, Capitalism, Corporatism, Foreign Policy, Marxism, Military

With the stroke of his talented larynx, Obama bids adieu to the Iraqi occupation by declaring that “those days are over.”  Aside from the physical relocation of America’s armed expression from one base to another, I’m not entirely sure what days he means.  Of course, all but his most fervent ideologues know that this is more of a pre-election year holiday salve than substantial shift in foreign policy.  A steaming pile of ho-ho-ho to maybe help forget this shameful conquest so we can go on pretending that we do not provide the mechanism for multi-national corporations to endlessly divert capital from periphery to core. 

But hey, score one for the bumper-magnet ribbon crowd who can now rejoice over years of straddling some imaginary line between abhorring the war yet supporting the troops. 

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02 May

Obama, Osama and the Making of a Martyr

in Barack Hussein Obama, Osama bin Laden, Terrorism
A still of 2004 Osama bin Laden video

Image via Wikipedia

It is the height of childish naiveté to believe in Evil with a capital ‘E’.  There are indeed all manner of imaginable (and as yet unimaginable) evil acts and ideologies; those that inflict suffering and run counter to a generally shared vision of global justice.  Yet no serious student of history can conclude that people themselves are ever truly Evil.  The very worst villains of our collective global society, from Hitler to Stalin and, yes, bin Laden, were each seeking to actualize a utopic vision of peace and prosperity.  Each has been, therefore, motivated by the very same ideals of goodness embodied in our own Judeo-Christian foundations. 

Yet as the old cliché goes, he who lives by the sword must die by it.  The moment bin Laden constructed the pseudo-religious framework through which to elevate his Fatwa into the realm of violence, he surrendered any semblance of moral authority he may have once claimed. As both the movement’s primary architect as well as its principal propagandist, he belonged to a class of ideologues beyond conversion, redemption, or reason.  Much as Bush saying that “either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists,” bin Laden’s declaration of Takfir against Muslims who failed to support his version of Islam constructed an essentially Manichean worldview in which there was no middle ground. 

No matter how truly horrifying have been the acts perpetrated under the al-Qaedist banner, Osama bin Laden was above all a man fighting for salvation.  First and foremost the salvation of the House of Saud, then the pan-Islamic nation, and finally the whole of the human race.  Fuelled by an inflated perception of his role in the Soviet collapse, resentment of Western politico-economic policies and cultural disdain for modern secular liberalism among Arab nations, the ideological author of al-Qaedism sought to challenge an emergent global order that itself has inflicted untold suffering to the majority of the planet. 

While bin Laden’s ideological justification for violence may have been anathema to our own understanding of world peace, it did not emerge in a vacuum.  For elevating capitalism to monolithic proportions, Bill Clinton must shoulder some blame for both creating the fertile soil within which al-Qaeda thrived as well as for failing to grasp to full potential of bin Laden’s allure among the deprived and marginalized.  For allowing himself to be manipulated time and again into destruction at home and abroad, George W. Bush is destined to fade into obscurity as the unequivocal loser of this epic battle; the Goliath whose very defeat elevated David to mythical status.  Yet much as his predecessors, Obama inherited more than just a propagandist; he was left with a genuine threat to the ideals of civil society and global democracy.  Were it not possible to capture and contain this threat, I find it difficult to fault him for ordering a kill.

Yet whatever relief we may feel at the ‘resolution’ of this decade-long manhunt, we must remember that, as RAND terrorism expert, William Rosenau, noted in the wake of the Iraq invasion:

Al-Qaeda is a worldview, not an organization. Before 9/11, some parts of the US intelligence community described al-Qaeda as a hierarchical, cellular terrorist group with bin Laden at the centre, barking out orders to his ‘troops’ in the field and plotting attacks around the world. This mistaken perception was a hangover from cold-war era thinking about terrorism ... [rather it] is made up of a politically, nationally and ethnically diverse group of militants who don’t agree on everything but subscribe in general terms to an ideology. Bin Laden’s genius was in packaging and promoting an ideology that found enormous appeal among some elements of the Muslim world, and that allowed militants engaged in local struggles to reconceptualise their fights as part of a broader global struggle.

No matter how inevitable bin Laden’s death may have been, we should be careful not to characterize it as a victory.  At minimum, his story serves to illuminate our own failure to create an equitable society in which violent ideologies hold no influence.  Yet in a more practical sense, we must understand that his death does nothing to erase his ideas and may contrarily serve to strengthen his adherent’s resolve.  Al-Qaeda is not a snake but a hive of bees – cutting off the head does little but inflame the passions of its soldiers who, incidentally, may simply birth a new queen.   Rather, if we truly seek an end to this conflict, we must couple his death with our own redemption by acknowledging the harm inherent in capitalist totalitarianism and renouncing violence in all its forms.  Without this, all we’ve managed to do is kill an elderly diabetic with a big mouth.

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28 Apr

Obama’s Magic Paper

in Barack Hussein Obama, Comics, Conspiracy Theories

When I woke this morning to news that Obama's team released another copy of his birth certificate I literally facepalmed.  Whoever handles public relations in that administration should be forced to write 100 times "They will never like us" on their own genitals.  Releasing a document after three years only lends legitimacy to an otherwise silly fringe.  These people neither believe nor care about what papers the guy can or can't produce.  They'd be all too happy to ignore this if it were Schwarzeneggar smoking cigars in the Oval Office.  This is strictly about Obama being black, or more specifically, not white.

I made a little comic to express my frustration (click for larger image):

full

18 Nov

More thoughts on civility in political discourse

in Barack Hussein Obama, Democracy, Elections, Libertarianism, Marxism, Politics, Republicans, Tea Party
An illustrative representation of a "Civi...

Image via Wikipedia

It’s no secret that I’ve been struggling to find my voice these last few years.  Those of you who have been following this blog since 2002 probably recall the days when I was a great deal more hostile than I am today.  I wish I could say that I’ve tempered this because of some transcendent cognitive shift or, even better, my fellow herd-mates actually doing less to piss me off.  It is true that my Ph.D., publications and other projects have given me a more proactive outlet for these emotions, but only among (let’s face it) a very, very small segment of the population both equipped and amenable to engaging on this this level.  In other words, eggheads.

No, if I have been more civil on this blog of late it is because I have been self-censoring.  Not that this is necessarily a bad thing - the motivation for thinking before I blog still rings true.  I want to see some rather profound changes in the world I live, and that starts with me.  Poking fun and otherwise berating people for their beliefs, no matter how willfully ignorant I feel they may be, will not lead to change.  In fact, the opposite is probably more true – calling someone out on their idiocy is just going to make them a louder, more defensive idiot.  So I am trying (with at best a modicum of success) to be the change I wish to see.

That said, I remain a work in progress and have chosen to remain fairly mum throughout the last election season.  Yet following on Monday’s post about civility in the media, I do recognize that while my censorship may not add to the rampant taint among armchair pundits, it certainly does nothing to help either.  I want to be certain that I am not using civility as an excuse for cowardice; that friend, family, peace-activist or hater, if you’re being an asshat, I hope to have the courage to tell you so.  And I hope for the insight to tell you in such a way as to heal, not hurt.  I still don’t know if these aims can coexist.

Would, therefore, that I were a humorist instead of a cynic, I might be able to publish something constructive instead of telling you outright that if you think Obama is a socialist I strongly believe that you are either willfully ignorant of what this means, a weak-minded sheep, or an unabashed racist and I defy you to provide a smidge of evidence to the veracity of this nonsense.  But if you think he is on your side, that Obama spends his days trying to fight for the middle class, then you’re just as deluded. 

I lobbied for Obama.  I did it because I believed (and remain convinced) that he is infintiely more qualified for the job than McCain/Palin would have been and have neither regretted my efforts nor my vote.  But this president, like any other in my lifetime, is beholden to the same neoliberal machine as the Republicans you probably voted for (even if fooling yourself into believing that a ‘Tea Party’ candidate is not a Republican).  You don’t get elected to high-level office in this country without espousing the values of top-down economics, regardless of party.  The fact that you keep voting against your own economic interests is an indication of how strongly our global hegemons have convinced you to identify with their value system.  And I believe that this identification lies at the root of much suffering in the world.

I love you all, but will continue to shout - in the nicest possible way - that I think you’re being a tool until either the machine breaks down, we achieve class consciousness, or both.

TMW2010-11-17colorlowres


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23 Jan

MotherJones Blog: Obama to Bush: I Can Release Your Records. Don't Like It? Sue.

in Barack Hussein Obama, George W. Bush, Politics

Ohhh snap!

On his first day in office, President Obama put former president Bush on notice. His administration just released an executive order that will make it difficult for Bush to shield his White House records--and those of former Vice President Dick Cheney--from public scrutiny by invoking the doctrine of executive privilege. Shortly after taking office, Bush handed down his own executive order, amending the Presidential Records Act to give current and past presidents, along with their heirs, veto power over the release of presidential records, which are considered the property of the American people.

"[Obama]'s putting former presidents on notice that if you want to continue a claim of executive privilege that [Obama] doesn't think is well-placed, you're going to have to go to court," says Anne Weismann, the chief counsel for Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington (CREW).

Cowards and Thieves begone!!

23 Jan

Oh Happy Day!

in Barack Hussein Obama, George W. Bush, Politics, Terrorism

President Obama yesterday eliminated the most controversial tools employed by his predecessor against terrorism suspects. With the stroke of his pen, he effectively declared an end to the "war on terror," as President George W. Bush had defined it, signaling to the world that the reach of the U.S. government in battling its enemies will not be limitless.

While Obama says he has no plans to diminish counterterrorism operations abroad, the notion that a president can circumvent long-standing U.S. laws simply by declaring war was halted by executive order in the Oval Office.

Key components of the secret structure developed under Bush are being swept away: The military's Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, facility, where the rights of habeas corpus and due process had been denied detainees, will close, and the CIA is now prohibited from maintaining its own overseas prisons. And in a broad swipe at the Bush administration's lawyers, Obama nullified every legal order and opinion on interrogations issued by any lawyer in the executive branch after Sept. 11, 2001.

It was a swift and sudden end to an era that was slowly drawing to a close anyway, as public sentiment grew against perceived abuses of government power.

Boo-yah!