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August 28, 2008

The Grinch Who Couldn't Quite Bring Himself To Steal Christmas

Despite my grousing about all the problems with Barack Obama, Joe Biden, the Democrats, the universe, etc., it's still incredible to see a major party nominate someone who's African American. (At least by America's psycho identity standards.)

I did think I'd live to see this, but I wouldn't have been surprised if it had taken forty more years. And I never imagined the first black candidate would be mildly liberal; I'd always assumed they'd be like Alan Keyes.

Good job, America!

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at August 28, 2008 02:37 PM

When reparations are finally paid to Black America, will the fact that the first Black president is ineligible for payments cause dismay to anyone?

Posted by: Seth at August 28, 2008 03:03 PM

I could not agree with you more.
After his speech to AIPAC and undivided Jerusalem, some of my friends and I were aghast and his changed position on FISA was another big blow. But after getting over the initial shock, I wrote to a friend that in spite of all the disappointments, I KNOW, there will be very few dry eyes when Pres Obama takes the oath of office.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 28, 2008 03:10 PM

I would have prefered it to have been someone like Barbra Jordan:

Barbara Jordan grew up in Houston's black ghetto, attended segregated public schools, and an all-black college, whre she graduated magna cum laude. She was involved in debate and oratory, winning a number of awards.

She chose law as a career because she believed she would then be able to have an impact on racial injustice. She wanted to attend Harvard's law school, but was advised that a black woman student from a Southern school would probably not be accepted.

Barbara Jordan studied law at Boston University, saying later, "I realized that the best training available in an all-black instant university was not equal to the best training one developed as a white university student. Separate was not equal; it just wasn't. No matter what kind of face you put on it or how many frills you attached to it, separate was not equal. I was doing sixteen years of remedial work in thinking."

After earning her law degree in 1959, she returned to Houston, starting a law practice from her parents' home and also getting involved in the 1960 election as a volunteer. Lyndon B. Johnson became her political mentor.

After unsuccessful tries at being elected to the Texas House, in 1966 Barbara Jordan became the first African American since Reconstruction in the Texas Senate, the first black woman in the Texas legislature. A Supreme Court decision and redistricting to enforce "one man, one vote" helped make her election possible. She was reelected to the Senate in 1968.

In the 1972 election, she ran for national office, becoming the first black woman elected to Congress from the South, and, with Andrew Young, one of the first two African Americans elected since Reconstruction to the U.S. Congress from the South. While in Congress, Barbara Jordan came to national attention with her strong presence on the committee holding Watergate hearings, calling for impeachment of President Nixon on July 25, 1974. She was also a strong supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, worked for legislation against racial discrimination, and helped establish voting rights for non-English-speaking citizens.

At the 1976 Democratic National Convention, she gave a powerful and memorable keynote speech, the first African American woman to give a keynote to that body. Many thought she would be named a vice presidential nominee, and later a Supreme Court justice.

In 1977 Jordan announced she would not run for another term in Congress, and she became a professor teaching government at the University of Texas.

In 1994, Barbara Jordan served on the U.S. Commission on Immigration Reform. When Ann Richards was the governor of Texas, Barbara Jordan was her ethics advisor.

Barbara Jordan struggled for many years with leukemia and multiple sclerosis. She died in 1996, survived by her long-time companion, Nancy Earl.

Posted by: S Brennan at August 28, 2008 03:36 PM

Alan Keyes or someone like him always did seem like a serious possibility.

The problem with Black Republicans is that they are mostly unelectable. Nobody trusts them. Who is the highest ranking elected Black Republican in the country? There are none at the national level.

Black republican politicians are an interesting theoretical phenomenon that rarely occur in nature.

Posted by: Seth at August 28, 2008 04:06 PM

The colon at the beginning was probably meant to serve as quotation marks. Still, yeah, a link would have been better.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at August 28, 2008 04:17 PM

This doesn't impress me emotionally. I'd be more impressed -- impassioned, in fact -- by a white dude with an actual sense of honor than a sell-out black man. Maybe it's because I always knew that a properly pro-Empire black person could make it in this country. Maybe it's because of my skin color.

I recognize that this makes the history books, but as far as advancing the U.S. or humanity, Obama's election won't mean a damned thing. It is, in fact, a curious quirk resulting from the utter incompetence of our most rabid imperialists. A sister to the phenomenon of not being able to keep up with scandal, or the satire-proof nature of the Bush administration (since every silly exaggeration of their foulness turns out to be a prediction of their next policy initiative).

Obama is a skilled opportunist (that is a complement, not a slight) and, in a world where aristocracy and new-century fascism has locked up political innovation, he seized a narrow opportunity created by Bush's strident commitment to failure and horror.

It's more like finding a dollar on the sidewalk after a terrorist attack on a bank. Fortuitous, but hardly the result of your own exquisite planning.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at August 28, 2008 05:01 PM

If Alan Keyes had ever gotten hard traction in his campaign for the White House, I might have voted for him. Because that would have been HILARIOUS.

Posted by: Dan Coyle at August 28, 2008 05:19 PM

I suspect none of will live to see a nominee, black or white or female, who seeks a different American Dream. The nomination of Obama will simply make (some of) "us" feel good because the white rug in the room has been replaced with a black one. The furniture remains.

Posted by: donescobar at August 28, 2008 06:05 PM

I am not the only one who thinks Obama's defining virtues and vices are skilled opportunism and selfish fealty to imperialism, respectively. Here's Ted Rall on him, just today:

Obama's politics are neither complex nor internally inconsistent. They are opportunist. Whatever works with voters is good. "His philosophy is ambition," Cooper Union historian Fred Siegel told the New York Times. "I see him as having a rhetoric rather than a philosophy."

The thesis that America has somehow evolved such that a black man can win the Presidency, shared by most of the posters here, the site's authors, Paul Krugman and Jon Stewart and a host of commentators, is completely fucking wrong. The U.S. is not that static. It's not a video game. We didn't hit a new level and unlock new freakn' abilities. ("Now your black units can be advanced to the maximum level if they have at least 5 points in Oreo.") Obama is a result of a particular time and place. No Bush, no Obama. And everything that happened in the 2000 election was fairly luck dependent for all sides.

But Bush or no Bush, the U.S. was grinding into the abyss. It's the general backdrop of unassailable corruption that makes the U.S. political scene so volatile when it comes to spectacle, but stable when it comes to substance. People WANT massive change in substance, but the aristocracy resists: massive bursts of spectacle is the release valve, the compromise. It's almost the crap we want. But not quite. If Gore had been president, maybe we'd be watching, with grim fascination, as anti-imperialist and racist bigot Ron Paul crushed hapless Republican dogs underfoot for the right to put the last nail in the Dem's coffin from an independent run. Perhaps our first true third party would have been rightwing instead of left. But the spectacle would still be just that. The elections outcome would still just stabilize the status quo, reinforce old values, and correct the excesses that nearly overturned the crime families of our nation.

Obama represents a cultural fluke, not a political evolution.

If he starts talking about shutting down military bases in Europe and equal funding for all elementary school kids, send me a nice box of shut the fuck up and I'll pay postage.

Until then, cut this "I think I might just cry" bullshit. You're literally making me sick. (I have a bit of gas.)

Posted by: No One of Consequence at August 28, 2008 06:14 PM

IOW, the prez is a feel-good cover for The People Who Really Run Things. So let's all feel good.

Posted by: Don Bacon at August 28, 2008 06:39 PM

Two points:
1). Did you notice the repeated phrase "since Reconstruction" in the bio of Barbara Jordan? It's a warning to beware of American racism, and it's power to backlash with a vengeance, given the chance.

2). Whatever it means for Americans, and whatever real significance Obama's skin color or politics eventually makes, we are surprising the hell out of the rest of the world, which has come to expect the worst from the U.S. after George W. Bush.

If hundreds of thousands of Berliners, or the people I met last spring in West Africa, can be so inspired by a possible President Obama, then I'm glad Jon and others can express some appreciation of this. It doesn't require a full-blown suspension of cynicism to do so.

Posted by: Whistler Blue at August 28, 2008 06:52 PM

No One:
Ha ha, you are right. Crying at any inauguration would be grotesque, unless of course you are weeping tears of shame and grief. Who cares whether the puppet has Caucasian or Negro features as long as the strings don't show?

If the rest of the world likes us better because of Obama then they are as stupid as we are.

Remember in 2000 when they let protestors line the route of the motorcade and scream Fuck You at Bush? Why isn't that made part of the ceremony on a permanent basis?

Posted by: Seth at August 28, 2008 07:07 PM

"Some appreciation" is OK, but let's also remember the words from "As Time Goes By"--adapted for this topic:
"A nominee is just a nominee...The fundamental things apply..."

Posted by: donescobar at August 28, 2008 07:09 PM

John Caruso: You may describe Sen Obama any way you want and I do not agree with many of his positions on various issues. The fact remains that this is a historic moment for my country and it is a step in the right direction and NOTHING is going to change that fact.
Whether he is black enough or not or he is too black will be judged by the voters ( as some have already decided, they will not vote for him because he is black). The important thing is he considers himself black so who am I to question his identity?
Presidential candidates ( and other candidates running for public office ) have changed their positions after getting elected. I will not be holding my breath that President Obama will carry out all the programmes I may want him to or ones he has promised. However, the alternative candidate being unthinkable as the next occupant of the Whitehouse, I will accept Sen Obama as the president but at the same time, put pressure on him to carry out my agenda to the extent possible by means at my disposal as a citizen.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 28, 2008 07:13 PM

NOoc: "Not the only one"? You should read Arthur Silber and Chris Floyd; I think you'd appreciate them.

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at August 28, 2008 07:27 PM

I, on the other hand, will get misty-eyed and say "Good job, (Anglo)Amewica", when a non-corporate candidate gets the 'nomination' to one of the major parties. And I don't think I'll see than in my lifetime, either, unless gas gets to more than $10 a gallon.

Posted by: Pepito at August 28, 2008 09:54 PM

"it is a step in the right direction"

color me skeptic, but how exactly?? It seems to me like the natural progression of things since the triumph of the civil rights movement. This was bound to happen eventually, either now or in the next 20 years.

I really don't give two shits about what color the Imperialist in Chief is, he could be green for all I care. Are his policies gonna be any different from the ones of his predecessors? Methinks not. And you seem to be falling into the same trap as many of your less politically sophisticated countrymen, stressing what amounts to a personal trait over real policy issues.

Posted by: Pepito at August 28, 2008 10:02 PM

Pepito is 100% right. I know its a big deal and all, but the election should be about his policies. Every time I turn on the news I see some new propaganda about the candidates, but I really have no idea exactly what either of them plan to do! I read today, in the same article, that Obama plans to research alternative fuel, and that he's a genius for coming up with that. Meanwhile, McCain apparently plans to "throw money at anyone who comes up with a new battery", and he's an idiot. Call me uninformed, but despite the clearly liberal bias of that article I read, there was no major difference in the descriptions of their plans! I don't think a "Good Job, America" is in order until policies become as well-known as the candidates skin color. That would be REALLY revolutionary.

Posted by: Yellowben at August 28, 2008 11:44 PM

Let's hope that the candidates don't plan to do anything.
Let's hope that the people will be energized to communicate to their representatives the good things that ought to be done.
Let's hope that our representatives will write laws to implement the people's will.
Let's hope that the new president will faithfully execute those laws, while ending US meddling in other peoples' business.
Nah -- democracy wouldn't work.
Let's just let the new decider decide, whenever he gets around to it.

Posted by: Don Bacon at August 29, 2008 12:15 AM

what pepito said. I've been saying much the same thing of late, with far more obscenities thrown in there.

he wants to escalate the Afghanistan clusterfuck, his Iraq drawdown won't end the occupation, he wants to expand our already grotesquely bloated killing machine, he fellates AIPAC, courts the religious mouthbreathers, voted for immunity for the police-state collaborating telecoms, selected Joe "lying, warmongering, endlessly bloviating douchebag" Biden as running mate and on and on.

can't muster the slightest enthusiasm.

Posted by: ran at August 29, 2008 12:18 AM

I'm not an American but I suppose my reaction would be bitterness in stead of pride, seeing how the disgusting protoplasm of the system manages to encapsulate/exploit the struggle for racial emancipation by allowing Obama to come forward.

Posted by: Paul at August 29, 2008 07:25 AM

"Mildly liberal"?

You need to come back to earth and click some of the links on your blogroll. I suggest starting with Arthur Silber and Chris Floyd.

Posted by: Grimblebee at August 29, 2008 08:09 AM

Dear sweet fancy Moses, Jon, you've got to be careful. Even with all your commenters picking up the cynical slack, that kind of mood whiplash can sting a bit.

As there have been no comments in the thread from Jon himself, I can only conclude that, despite the valiant attempts of everyone else posting, he's spontaneously combusted upon non-ironically writing the words "Good job, America".

Posted by: grendelkhan at August 29, 2008 08:43 AM

Save the Oocytes: I love me some Silber. In fact, I need to check on him. He was sick again last time I visited his site.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at August 29, 2008 09:27 AM

Okay, let me put this in perspective for those of you who don't have the privilege of black family members (a distinct privilege in this day and age because it acts as some check against TV bullshit).

Here's what you'd want to do: walk up to a black family member, talk about economic and social problems, get them to point out how systemic and institutional racism (not penny-anny bigotry) are the root of these problems, then tell them:

"But hey! The president is black! You should feel great!"

THAT is what your "good job, America!" amounts to.

Who here can say that and NOT deserve a "fuck you" in response?

Posted by: No One of Consequence at August 29, 2008 09:31 AM

HE'S A TAXPAYER, no matter what his skin color is and deserves his shot as much as anyone else.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at August 29, 2008 10:49 AM

NoOnOCo: It is not a matter of telling a black person, "You have to feel good because the president is black" just like, one can not tell a white person, he or she HAS to feel good because the president is white.
When a group of people have suffered racism and discrimination just because of the colour of its skin and then it sees someone of that colour "REACH THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN", what it feels is HOPE, a precious commodity without which, life would be difficult to survive.
I watched the speech last night and people were crying- black, white, hispanic---they have hope that things will change for the better and after what our country and people have gone through in the past eight years, to deny them that hope by telling them, "you have to feek good because the president is black" would be a heartless thing to do. No one claims it will be perfect ( Obama presidency ) but at least it is a beginning of a new chapter in the history of next 4-8 years.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 29, 2008 11:33 AM

Again, must apologise for lack of typing skill.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 29, 2008 11:35 AM


Those people that are crying are utter rubes, and are in for a very, very rude awakening come Jan 20th (or November).

Posted by: anonymouse at August 29, 2008 12:03 PM
When a group of people have suffered racism and discrimination just because of the colour of its skin and then it sees someone of that colour "REACH THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN", what it feels is HOPE, a precious commodity without which, life would be difficult to survive.

He reached "the top of the mountain" by being a rat-bastard traitor who spat in the face of Christ instead of doing his duty, politically and theologically.

If someone said you could overcome any bigotry against you -- and all you had to do was rip off some impoverished seniors -- would you celebrate now that there was hope for advancement?

Seriously, what the hell are you going on about?

I'm not talking about fools that don't know any better. People ignorant about Obama's policies and positions, like those who are ignorant about politics in general, are out of the scope of this discussion. They're wrong on the facts, so they're wrong on their emotional response. They think Afghanistan is the "good war" so they fail to weep over the fact that the suicide rate for women there is higher than it is for men -- the only place in the world where this is true. They failed to cheer because some powerful imams issued fatwas against violence a few weeks ago. They fail to laugh at the Republican's pro-socialist agenda when it applies to the rich when compared to their ruthless market rhetoric. They can't respond correctly. They don't know. They've been lied to so long they can barely tell what the truth feels like. They don't know. So please, spare me the responses to Obama's speech. The hearers responded appropriately based on what they understood. It. Changes. Nothing.

Obama will win the popular vote just as most white presidents before him won: by upholding the value of "whiteness". (Just go read Silber about this notion; it would take pages to go into it here.) The fact that many people are wrong about what his presidency means is no reason to feign emotion. I know exactly what his presidency means and must respond to this truth. Now blacks have another rhetorical device that will be used against them whenever civil rights come up -- and no better defender for the same than what was had under Clinton.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at August 29, 2008 12:18 PM

anonymouse: What would you suggest? Voters stay home and do nothing? IMO, we have the most ridiculous electoral process ( as written in the constitution ) which is really not democratic, so one has to make the best of what one has ( or choose the lesser of two undesirable options ).
I am a skeptic but not a cynic and an eternal optimist so will always be hopeful that things will change. By how much, we will just have to wait and see!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 29, 2008 12:20 PM

NoOnOCo: WOW! I did not realize, an individual
could not express her/his opinion just because you see things differently. And is not a bit presumptuous to think that "people are totally ignorant and they do not know!!!! and can not respond correctly"?

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 29, 2008 12:41 PM
And is not a bit presumptuous to think that "people are totally ignorant and they do not know!!!! and can not respond correctly"?

I never said that and you pulled that quote out of your ass, Rupa -- but you knew that.

And there is plenty the U.S. public is wrong about because it is lied to by the U.S. aristocracy. You knew that, too.

And it's clearly not the public's fault, and implying that I said it was -- that I was treating the public poorly -- is counterfactual. You knew that as well.

Given that you knew what you just wrote was, well, stupid, I won't take insult. If you want to rewrite it, feel free.

In other news, I did want to point out that my take on the insult towards blacks, in particular, that the celebration of the black president creates is not the mere result of Obama's policies. Remember, Obama is the one who "transcends" race. He told whites "It's all over, the good guys win!" And in doing so he told blacks "Shut the fuck up -- you have nothing to complain about." Then he literally added insult to that injury by lecturing -- hell, it was more like hectoring -- black fathers.

Of black men between 25 and 35, fifty percent have been in prison. Fifty. Fucking. Percent. If you CONTROL for that, black families actually are more coherent than WHITE families.

In other words, blacks are doing fairly well despite the government pogrom against them.

So if you celebrate Obama's blackness as a credit to the U.S., you celebrate the obfuscation of the U.S.' crimes towards blacks.

Hence the "fuck you" that you deserve.

(The fact that most of the celebrants are white brings the irony, and the deserved wrath, to almost intolerable levels.)

Posted by: No One of Consequence at August 29, 2008 01:13 PM

Yeah, I'm gonna get all weepy over the election of yet another bloody-handed corporate-owned empty-suit, too.

Posted by: AlanSmithee at August 29, 2008 01:32 PM

NoOnOCo:To disagree and be disgreeable and to be civil or not is totally your prerogative. Please do not bother to respond. I can not compete with you in that regard and will not respond if you have any comment directed to me.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at August 29, 2008 02:10 PM

I was brought up to believe that it is uncivil to express pleasure when a person uses racism to achieve a good. I am learning, from liberal blogs, that my family's of uncivil is not universally accepted.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at August 29, 2008 02:40 PM

ALL OF YOU... have WAY too much free time.
Including you Super-Fat Schwarz!

Posted by: RTT at August 29, 2008 06:08 PM


I watched the speech last night and people were crying- black, white, hispanic---they have hope that things will change for the better and after what our country and people have gone through in the past eight years, to deny them that hope by telling them, "you have to feek good because the president is black" would be a heartless thing to do.

It's not heartless to warn someone that they're being snowed by a practiced con artist, it's doing them a favor. What is heartless is cynically manipulating people's genuine hopes, desires, pains, and fears with the sole intention of gaining and exercising power—as Obama has done and will continue to do.

Unless these teary-eyed people are corporate CEOs, have millions of dollars, or are the prime minister of Israel, Obama certainly won't be looking out for their interests once he's in power. And as unpleasant as that may be to hear, anyone who points it out now deserves gratitude in response, not criticism. If someone mentioned that there was a cockroach in my bowl of Cheerios, I wouldn't get angry at them for ruining my enthusiasm for breakfast; I'd say hey, thanks, I sure wouldn't have wanted to munch on a cockroach.

Posted by: John Caruso at August 29, 2008 10:28 PM