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September 06, 2008

"History Could Be Swallowed Up So Completely"

In his memoir Dreams From My Father, Barack Obama describes the three years he lived in Indonesia during the late sixties after his mother married his stepfather Lolo. This was immediately after the Indonesian military staged a quasi-coup and carried out one of the biggest bloodbaths of the 20th century.

No one knows precisely how the US was involved in the coup itself and the subsequent massacres. However, several things are clear. The US despised Sukarno, the president whom the coup pushed out, because he kept Indonesia in the Non-Aligned Movement and was one of the NAM's main leaders. Likewise, the US loved Suharto—the Indonesian general who seized power from Sukarno and subsequently ruled the country for 30 years—because he did exactly what we told him to. And there's testimony and documentation that the US provided lists of people for the military to kill, as well as various kinds of assistance while they were doing the killing. As James Reston of the New York Times wrote (approvingly) in 1966:

Washington is being careful not to claim any credit for this change...but this does not mean that Washington had nothing to do with it. There was a great deal more contact between the anti-Communist forces in that country and at least one very high official in Washington before and during the Indonesian massacre than is generally realized. General Suharto's forces, at times severely short of food and munitions, have been getting aid from here through various third countries, and it is doubtful if the [Suharto] coup would ever have been attempted without the American show of strength in Vietnam or been sustained without the clandestine aid it has received indirectly from here.

Beyond that, it's still murky forty years later. And even this basic history is essentially unknown in America, since it reflects on us so badly. (For instance, see this story about a New York Times reporter; interestingly, he started his career as an assistant to James Reston.)

So all in all, this is the kind of thing would-be presidents of the United States don't talk about. Thus, it's truly surprising that in his book Obama both (1) provides the history honestly, and (2) discusses how societies forget this kind of thing on purpose, and describes how this is a basic, terrifying aspect of power. According to Obama, "history could be swallowed up so completely, the same way the rich and loamy earth could soak up the rivers of blood."

Was Obama right about this? Well, according to Google, there is literally just one specific reference anywhere online to his writing about the coup.

In any case, here's the most relevant stuff, although the whole Indonesia chapter is well worth reading. And if you want to hear Obama actually say "Even the smart guys at the Agency had lost count," I've also posted an mp3 of the highlights.


When we passed a row of big houses with high hedges and sentry posts, my mother said something I couldn’t entirely make out, something about the government and a man named Sukarno.

“Who’s Sukarno?” I shouted from the backseat, but Lolo [Obama's stepfather] appeared not to hear me...

[My mother] had expected it to be difficult, this new life of hers. Before leaving Hawaii, she had tried to learn all she could about Indonesia: the population, fifth in the world, with hundreds of tribes and dialects; the history of colonialism, first the Dutch for over three centuries, then the Japanese during the war, seeking control over vast stores of oil, metal, and timber; the fight for independence after the war and the emergence of a freedom fighter named Sukarno as the country’s first president. Sukarno had recently been replaced, but all the reports said it had been a bloodless coup, and that the people supported the change. Sukarno had grown corrupt, they said; he was a demagogue, totalitarian, too comfortable with the Communists...

She found herself a job right away teaching English to Indonesian businessmen at the American embassy, part of the U.S. foreign aid package to developing countries. The money helped but didn’t relieve her loneliness. The Indonesian businessmen weren’t much interested in the niceties of the English language, and several made passes at her. The Americans were mostly older men, careerists in the State Department, the occasional economist or journalist who would mysteriously disappear for months at a time, their affiliation or function in the embassy never quite clear. Some of them were caricatures of the ugly American, prone to making jokes about Indonesians until they found out that she was married to one, and then they would try to play it off—Don’t take Jim too seriously, the heat’s gotten to him, how’s your son by the way, fine, fine boy.

These men knew the country, though, or parts of it anyway, the closets where the skeletons were buried. Over lunch or casual conversation they would share with her things she couldn’t learn in the published news reports. They explained how Sukarno had frayed badly the nerves of a U.S. government already obsessed with the march of communism through Indochina, what with his nationalist rhetoric and his politics of nonalignment—he was as bad as Lumumba or Nasser, only worse, given Indonesia’s strategic importance. Word was that the CIA had played a part in the coup, although nobody knew for sure. More certain was the fact that after the coup the military had swept the countryside for supposed Communist sympathizers. The death toll was anybody’s guess: a few hundred thousand, maybe; half a million. Even the smart guys at the Agency had lost count.

Innuendo, half-whispered asides; that’s how she found out that we had arrived in Djakarta less than a year after one of the more brutal and swift campaigns of suppression in modern times. The idea frightened her, the notion that history could be swallowed up so completely, the same way the rich and loamy earth could soak up the rivers of blood that had once coursed through the streets; the way people could continue about their business beneath giant posters of the new president as if nothing had happened, a nation busy developing itself. As her circle of Indonesian friends widened, a few of them would be willing to tell her other stories-about the corruption that pervaded government agencies, the shakedowns by police and the military, entire industries carved out for the president’s family and entourage. And with each new story, she would go to Lolo in private and ask him: “Is it true?”

He would never say. The more she asked, the more steadfast he became in his good-natured silence...

Power. The word fixed in my mother’s mind like a curse. In America, it had generally remained hidden from view until you dug beneath the surface of things; until you visited an Indian reservation or spoke to a black person whose trust you had earned. But here power was undisguised, indiscriminate, naked, always fresh in the memory. Power had taken Lolo and yanked him back into line just when he thought he’d escaped, making him feel its weight, letting him know that his life wasn’t his own. That’s how things were; you couldn’t change it, you could just live by the rules, so simple once you learned them. And so Lolo had made his peace with power, learned the wisdom of forgetting...

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at September 6, 2008 09:14 AM

This worst part of this is that Barack Obama is a smart guy. He understands this. That's why he hung out with people like Jeremiah Wright, to learn that side of history, the part of being black in America that's been "swallowed up". And yet now he smiles for the camera and pretends like he's never heard about it. He's been "yanked back into line" just like his stepfather and he knows it. He knows perfectly well that the Bush regime has committed crimes just like Suharto, and he now has every intention to help cover them up. He loves Big Brother.

Posted by: john at September 6, 2008 09:43 AM

I don't get that Obama loves Big Brother. He acknowledges Big Brother.

I think when his plane had "mechanical problems" three days before the FISA vote Big Brother was acknowledging Obama.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at September 6, 2008 09:58 AM
So all in all, this is the kind of thing likely presidents of the United States don't talk about. Thus, it's truly surprising that in his book Obama both (1) provides the history honestly, and (2) discusses how societies forget this kind of thing on purpose, and states this is a basic, terrifying aspect of power.

I think this says something interesting about us, but I'm not sure what yet. That we'd allow a fellow like this, with these published views, to realistically contend for the executive.

The saving grace here is that the current power elite understand the significance of this but must bide their time, unable to counterbalance in the conventional way (mainly due to what GWB has done to the tenor of the country and the people).

To attack based on published passages like these would be counterproductive; that's why the Jeremiah Wright was so convenient -- he could illustrate to Joe Sixpack the ideological company that Obama is contaminated with, without having to delve into the ugliness of the published matter that JS references.

One Google reference? Does anyone actually need proof that corporate media has a grip here, and it doesn't matter if they're saurian overlords, or corporatist cabal -- the effect is the same.

I'm deeply pessimistic, so I tend to think that Biden's presidency may be ahead of schedule. Joe's not contaminated; his leftyshness is characteristically American. His view of power conventionally academic.

Posted by: Labiche at September 6, 2008 09:59 AM
He acknowledges Big Brother.

I agree with Bob in Pacifica. Bill Clinton luved Big Brother; Obama acknowledges that he understands power the way ordinary people see see it in their lives.

Posted by: Labiche at September 6, 2008 10:04 AM
I think this says something interesting about us, but I'm not sure what yet. That we'd allow a fellow like this, with these published views, to realistically contend for the executive.

I think what it says is that power is a pretty reliable corrupter, and that powerful people know how reliable it is. It's one thing to speak truth to power when you don't have much -- let lone any -- of the stuff. It's another thing entirely to accept that you've become the person you warned your children about...

Posted by: radish at September 6, 2008 11:15 AM

That was Kundera's point. Ultimately, the issue is not one's inability to tell right from wrong: it is one's struggle against forgetting. Power wins not by convincing you that bad is good but that bad is not there any more.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at September 6, 2008 11:31 AM

Obama is very much like Bill Clinton--both of them are extremely bright and know about the skeletons in America's closet and they can turn the empathy on and off as needed. I heard Clinton on Democracy Now talking about East Timor and he admitted that the US had done shameful things, but then said he didn't want to look at the past, but at the future.

That's the trick they often use. Chomsky (using his characteristically clunky prose) calls it the doctrine of "change of course". He was referring to the fact that someone in the mainstream will occasionally admit that yeah, the US was involved in some horrible ruthless action, But Now Things Are Different. It's silly to dwell in the past, we've learned our lessons, let's move forward. There's no national soul-searching--nobody is going to write a massive article in the NYT outlining how every President from Ford to Clinton sided with the Indonesians in their brutal occupation of East TImor, right up until 1999, or how we were involved in the mid-60's killings. It'll just be admitted here and there, on some marginal lefty radio program or in a book, but it's not going to get widespread attention.

It is interesting that Obama wrote about this without prodding, but perhaps he was building up his credentials as the great progressive hope, someone who knew the score. Plenty of time to move to the center once he got closer to power.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at September 6, 2008 11:46 AM

Donald: I don't think he was writing cynically at the time; instead, I take it as evidence of just how far he's fallen.

Jon: I agree with your (or Obama's) overarching point, but it's nothing unusual for Google to give few results for a quote that's so specific; you could easily reproduce that result with dozens of other quotes from the book. A better illustration is how often Obama himself mentions it now.

Posted by: John Caruso at September 6, 2008 11:58 AM

I'm not sure, John. You might be right. What I've read about Obama, though, makes me think he's been running for President for a long long time. I think he and Bill Clinton both are capable of real empathy and real understanding, as Obama demonstrated here, but they also know that the closer they get to power, the less they can talk like this. Obama is surely smart enough to know all along that once the Presidential campaigning began in earnest, the last thing he could do is sound like Noam Chomsky, or for that matter, his own pastor and former friend. I think he felt he could write honestly about some shameful episode in Cold War history from 40 years ago, win points from progressives for doing it, and not have to worry about it coming up again later on, because as Labiche suggests this isn't the sort of story the mainstream press or his rightwing critics would like to give a more thorough airing. The press itself sometimes does dig up some past horror--the AP has a good reporter who's been covering the Korean investigations into US and South Korean war crimes in that war, but there's never any extensive discussion about this. No editorials on how it takes decades for Americans to find out what we did in past wars (though in reality British books and leftwing Americans have written about this before), no lessons about what happened then might suggest about coverage of current wars.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at September 6, 2008 12:42 PM

OTOH, maybe Obama was more naive and idealistic than I'm willing to admit and he really has fallen low--sorta like the Huey Long character in "All the King's Men". It would make him a more interesting person. But boy, did he fall fast.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at September 6, 2008 01:04 PM

It seems comical to me to talk of how our politicos have "fallen." From what, you need to ask. From a couple of years of youthful and Un-Americanically misguided idealism--Hillary (?) or Obama? From integrity to (oh no!) corruption?
Silly stuff.
Obama is like Clinton who is like Reagan (both soooo likeable) who is like...Put the winners and losers, from Carter to Bush in a bag, shake them out and ask yourself if the four years under one of them would have been really all that different from those of another. Maybe by five cents worth.
Political philosophy has been dead, or at least dormant, in our land for decades. A different war or a few more or fewer crumbs off the table, that's about it. We're in the middle, where politics is the equivalent of jello in food.

And that reminds of the joke about a Viennese gourmet who, on a visit to the UK, was presented with a plate of jello. "Don't tremble," he said to the quivering red clump in front of him, "I'm not going to eat you."
And that is, in my not all that humble opinion, is what we should be saying too.

Posted by: donescobar at September 6, 2008 01:20 PM

I don't think he was writing cynically at the time; instead, I take it as evidence of just how far he's fallen.

I'm with John. I don't think he was running for president since birth like Clinton, or even from age 25. From what I know, when he wrote this he was thinking more of being mayor of Chicago, or possibly an Illinois senator. Looking back now his rise seems foreordained, but it really has been incredibly improbable. Everything has broken right, including things that were bad for him personally -- for instance, I suspect if his mother hadn't died so young, she would be a real problem for him right now in her role as radical commie earth goddess who sleeps with the darkies.

Finally, I'd bet he was pulled in several directions while writing this. A big part of him is obviously politically ambitious and cautious, but he's extremely perceptive and can genuinely write, and I suspect his vanity about that often won out over his ambition and caution.

All people are a complex stew of motives, even the ones who rise to power and kill millions. And almost always they're just doing what seems to make sense at the time, rather than engaging in some kind of long term master scheme.

So, "All the King's Men" is an apt comparison, I'd say.

Posted by: Jonathan Schwarz at September 6, 2008 01:26 PM

It is really sad and unfortunate that the left a.k.a. the liberals a.k.a. the progressives have become so cynical that unless a candidate does exactly what they want him/her to do, the candidate can do nothing right. I do not claim that Sen Obama is PERFECT or that he has not compromised himself by changing his positions on certain issues. But at least there is some evidence that he is capable of empathy, he has gone through life experiences which none of the candidates has gone through. And if he does get elected, ONE CAN HOPE, he will bring necessary changes in the way the govt functions and re-evaulate our alliances. And yes, power can corrupt but it can also be used wisely and for the benefit of the people because certain amount of power is necesary to implement policies and programmes for the country and the people.

And I found couple more ref regarding that quote on google, one on National Review!!

and another one from the Guardian of UK.

Both are worth reading as they give two different takes on what he has written!!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 6, 2008 01:53 PM


Sure, you can hope, but check out the salesman from whom you're buying it.
Since RR led us into "morning again in America," what have the "change agents" and purveyors of hope done for 90% of the people?

On that front, I'll have to go along with Cioran: "To hope is to deny the future."

Or, the more popular Santayana warning about those who do not learn from history. Most Americans know that from "Peanuts" and Lucy and Charlie Brown agreeing to kick the football she's holding for him.
Again? You bet. Snake oil is snake oil is snake oil.

Posted by: donescobar at September 6, 2008 02:06 PM

donescobar: Thank you for introducing me to a new writer ( as I always write, I am always learning something new at ATR ) but somehow your quotation from Cioran does not quite match with what I found on google about what he wrote!

"This book saved my life". So recalls the Romanian philosopher E. M. Cioran about a book that meditates on madness and death, the absurdity of existence, and the agony of consciousness. Cioran finds in our darkest fears not only reasons to continue living but also the comic, absurd humor in doing so".
BOOK: On the Heights of Despair

And yes, I do know that if we do not learn from history, we repeat it but we DO REMEMBER and we do not have to repeat it or if it is being repeated, we do have means at our disposal to change its direction.

And I have enjoyed that story of Lucy and Charlie Brown and kicking the ball always and still do but I do not think Charlie Brown is stupid. May be Lucy does. I admire Charlie Brown's perseverence that one day HE WILL KICK the ball.

I am an optimist but also a realist and I would rather spend my energy on how I make the best of a given situation rather than wringing my hands and saying "nothing will change" and give up.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 6, 2008 02:44 PM

I'd love to kick that ball too, but right now I don't know how we can get near it. At least, not without the kinds of actions we deplore in those holding it.
Cioran may only intensify our frustration. Maybe better to read the great Skeptic and Realist, Brecht.
When the government of the DDR (GDR, German Democratic Republic) declared that it was dissatisfied with the protests staged by its people, he suggested the government elect itself a new people. That's the ticket.

Posted by: donescobar at September 6, 2008 02:55 PM

John Caruso: I think our comments crossed so did not see your post till I posted my comment.

I was only talking about MY PERCEPTION regarding Sen Obama and was not speaking on behalf of anyone else as far his being perfect is concerned.

I do feel there is cynicism on part of some in the liberal communinity but it has nothing to do with thinking tht they have to make the same choices I make. It may have something to do with life experiences or it may be wrong perception on my part. I do not claim to be always right.

I read your post on your website and I do not agree with that now. As I wrote before, I am an optimist but a realist and will agree with you if he is elected and does what you are sure of.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 6, 2008 03:17 PM
Power wins not by convincing you that bad is good but that bad is not there any more.

Bernard is right. You simply stop doing the analysis. Things. Simply. Are. Why do you think so many leaders are surprised by revolution?

I take it as evidence of just how far he's fallen.

John, understanding and moral sense are two different things. Just because Obama understood how nasty empires are doesn't mean he had a moral conversion. Humans are perverse.

No one has provided any evidence that Obama is a particularly good person. This is problematic because an average person with his power would be a complete asshole. Humanity, well, sucks. Average people with tremendous power are mass murderers. It takes extroardinary people to rule well, and Obama -- morally speaking -- isn't extroardinary. (Maybe he's an extroardinary lawyer or administrator -- I don't know or care. My concentration is narrow.)

Obama, as I said before on other threads, just got lucky. He's running for the sake of running. (Go google Ted Rall -- he has some stuff on this.)

But at least there is some evidence that he is capable of empathy

Um, people we meet on the street who can give us only some evidence of empathy are what we call, back home, complete assholes.

Here's the problem: royalty rules apply. Humanity takes whatever rules for personal standards and healthy psychology and throw them out the window the moment the subject gains power. Then the masses are happy so long as the nobleman in question doesn't go on a raping spree. And even that will be forgiven if he doesn't rape anyone of means.

I think this monstrous flaw is really part of the human condition; every society on earth does it. Worse, it's usually combined with either optimism or pessimism, which are both the same thing (the same logical fallacy): the optimist believes we live in the best of all possible worlds; the pessimist fears this is true. In both cases, true hope is denied (since that would require imagination and spur action): in both cases, possibilities are forclosed.

a) The King is good! (He's gotta be, because he's the only king we have, cross your fingers. . .)
b) The King is bad! But hey, whattaya gonna do? I'm gonna go get mine.
c) Um, since the King is a mediocre prick, I'm going to kill him and replace him with at least two branches of government.

Option "c" is the cause of almost all of Western Civilization. Option "c" does not occur to either optimists or pessimists, imo. (And, because most humans slide into these mindsets, Western Civilization took a very long time to come about.)

The power of accurate observation is commonly called cynicism by those who have not got it.
-- George Bernard Shaw

But have a care, folks. Call things as they are and you're cynical! Use those facts to describe what beautiful and marvelous things could be and you'll be called a pathetic romantic (yes, by the same person in the same breath!). The result of this is that not a damn thing you just said will actually need to be analyzed by the person who just made the accusation. . . which was the point of the accusation.

That's why forty pages of political analysis and discussion of third party issues will always result in a poster claiming "you guys are just helping McCain."

Posted by: No One of Consequence at September 6, 2008 04:47 PM

Rupa Shah: Just like Mccain, Obama will follow the same path WE are already on. BOTH major parties are dedicated to and invested in these very same policies they have SUPPORTED these last 8 years, only the poor results have slowed anybody down. If Obama had a VISION of something different he would have said so. AMERICA has to come up with a different vision, a different path, then things will change, for better or worse. The problems and the answers begin and end with US, not whom WE elect.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 6, 2008 04:52 PM

Mike Meyer: I agree with you completely. Our country has to have a different outlook and our priorities have to change. In a previous comment at another post at ATR, I had mentioned, that the process will have to begin with school children and they will have to unlearn a lot of things in terms of what people believe as to what America stands for and what it is all about and learn WHAT IT SHOULD STAND FOR but till that generation is ready, I personally feel, I have to make the best of choices given to me and hope to make the right choice.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 6, 2008 05:31 PM

NoOneofCo: I AM NO GEORGE BERNARD SHAW. Do not have any further comment.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 6, 2008 05:35 PM

No one--

That's very good analysis, IMO.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at September 6, 2008 05:54 PM

If US presidents didn't insist on 'looking to the future' at every opportunity they'd have to spend all their time on the phone, making long overdue apologies.

This is an interesting exercise in trying to read the owl droppings for what he's going to actually do in office, but just take a look at his official campaign documents on foreign policy. On Latin America, for one, it's all about "fixing" years of Bush's benign neglect - short a coup or five - of the region. Policy objectives like "Barack Obama believes the U.S. must restore its traditional leadership in the region" doesn't exactly inspire a lot of hope for anyone with a memory. The invocation of FDR's 'good neighbor' policy just means he wants to support the status quo without paying the high price for military interventions, plus a high-falutin grab bag of economic initiatives that are neither here nor there. The IMF and the WB, he says, are "in need of modernization and reform", like their spectacular loss of influence hasn't been one of the most positive developments of the past decade.

There's none of the usual liberal hyperventilating about Hugo Chavez's thuggish strong man tactics, but it groans about unspecified "flawed elections" there, and foots FARC with the bill for corruption in Columbia, where his campaign boasts about expanding Plan Columbia. So you know union activists will be safe.

But he promises to restore habeas corpus. Obviously we've got a real fighter for truth and justice on our hands.

Posted by: buermann at September 6, 2008 06:08 PM

I won't ask you to trust him, but don't just assume your arguments will have no effect on Obama or those close to him.

Posted by: hf at September 6, 2008 07:49 PM

hf: But YOU are asking for US to vote for him?

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 6, 2008 08:48 PM

I could see that John. You're right: you don't have go all Christlike and love-your-neighbor-as-yourself in order to point out that, say, empires suck and create fascist, murderous regimes. You just need the basic civic-mindedness that says a person should tell broad and important truths. Even this is lost to Obama now. So at one point he was as civic-minded as your average, well-read American. That's rather sad, I suppose.

I've never seen all of The Candidate. I think I saw bits as a child. I don't think it would be passe, but it definately wouldn't shock.

Actually, though, the theme of that film gets to one of the problems in modern politics: because the stakes of political action are never that high, politics is the purview of the petty. If each representative had a chance of imprisonment or death for poor use of power, dilletentes wouldn't consider political office. Sure, more crazies would, but I like crazies: they either get things done by doing them or by creating massive opposition to whatever crazy shit they're doing. They're great.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at September 6, 2008 09:06 PM

if he becomes president, and stays for a second term, and keeps personal records, given the weight the next 8 years will have over maybe centuries of human affairs, wow, will his next book be interesting.

Posted by: hapa at September 6, 2008 09:11 PM

Mike Meyer: In view of your repeated request to call the speaker to proceed with Impeachment, I thought this may interest you.

ps this is not directly related to subject under discussion.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 6, 2008 09:21 PM

Rupa Shah: Great treatise on the subject. Enjoyed the presentation and left Nan's number, of course. Who knows Ms. Scarry might call. I figure if as much as 10% of voters DEMAND IMPEACHMENT, my salesmen, George and Dick are on the docket.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 6, 2008 10:51 PM

Mr Schwartz wrote: "I'd bet he was pulled in several directions while writing this."

Yes, I agree. New writers of fiction tend to leave that impression with their readers. Those in thrall of Romanticism are the most heavy handed.

Thank you for the excerpt. This is the first one of any depth --length-wise-- that I've read online.

Posted by: Mary at September 7, 2008 12:39 AM

I find it extremely ironic that the subject of all this pop psychoanalysis is an American politician. The US of A, of all places, is one country whose founders clearly understood that individuals are and will always be weak and corrupt and so they wrote a constitution to split/spread/balance the powers held by individuals and institutions. Not nearly good enough a constitution, obviously.

And look where we are now: guessing what decisions affecting billions of people some pretty much random fella might or might not make on a whim. Pathetic.

Posted by: abb1 at September 7, 2008 10:01 AM
And look where we are now: guessing what decisions affecting billions of people some pretty much random fella might or might not make on a whim. Pathetic.


At least we're not doing something ambitious and more directly destructive.

What do you actually expect from the commentariat? I see us as a bunch of parlor socialists wanking each other. If you're not getting off, you've got to give some feedback how you like it. Faster? Tighter? With two hands? :-)

Go McCain and MILF!

Posted by: Labiche at September 7, 2008 10:24 AM
I find it extremely ironic that the subject of all this pop psychoanalysis is an American politician.

Speak for yourself. I never waste time trying to figure out WHY someone is corrupt in power (because the cause would not advance my cause if I knew it). I don't give a flying fuck in a windstorm why Obama or his "rivals" are assholes. Assholes don't deserve that kind of time from me. At best, I will evaluate which ones are worst for me and my fellow citizens, the same way the EPA is supposed to determine which environmental disaster deserves the most money thrown at it. If you want to go off on a rant about how too many people are trying to figure out how a pol feels, try a celebrity blog.

My own conclusion -- and this was the topic for the better posters on this and similar threads -- was merely that Obama was corrupt, and my own analysis was on the nature of power and corruption -- oh, lookee-there, that's what the framers were concerned with, too. Swing and a miss.

Do read carefuly. If a poster points out that a man who thwarts the constitution for personal gain is corrupt, said poster hasn't engaged in psychoanalysis: she or he has made a deduction based on empirical evidence. No telepathy required.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at September 7, 2008 11:10 AM

Winners are corrupt. Losers lay claim to "integrity." It's the American Way, in politics and in business, which are identical twins here.

Posted by: donescobar at September 7, 2008 12:14 PM

donescobar: Why not admit that ALL are corrupt, winners, losers, runnerups, AND the guy counting the votes. Be done with it and approach YOUR politics from that angle. Then none of the 4 horsesasses and buggy parties candidates look that good OR look that bad. ALL one needs is SOMETHING and out advertise the other 2 parties, 'cause they BOTH together got nothing.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 7, 2008 07:13 PM

Cynic, n. A blackguard whose faulty vision sees things as they are, not as they ought to be. Hence the custom among the Scythians of plucking out a cynic's eyes to improve his vision.

Ambrose Bierce

Posted by: Diamond LeGrande at September 7, 2008 07:41 PM

What's Obama's plan for NOLA? What's Mccain's? YET ANOTHER hurricane may make landfall very soon, what's the PLAN to QUICKLY get NOLA and the other coastal areas better defended as this one could be a 4 or better, I think EVERYONE understands that. Sure, its levees and pumps but so far its "slow go or no go" at best and wasting money at a phenominal rate. Now I'm all for nationalizing halliburton and kbr, sell their shit to pay for the NEW levees and pumps. I believe prescedent is being set as WE speak with Freddie and Fanny. If Freddie and Fannie can be used to launder T-Bills to finance the war then halliburton and kbr can be used to launder T-Bills for NOLA.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at September 7, 2008 07:55 PM

Saw Obama on TV today: he seems to have glimpsed his fading away. The Dems, without any political philosophy, have hardly a notion of what they could possibly stand for. Clinton brought them into the dead center, devoid of anything but business thinking, which the Publicans claim for themselves.
Why not do the honest thing and replace the WH with the NYSE? Profit over spin.

Posted by: donescobar at September 7, 2008 09:41 PM

Put the corp in charge of the WH directly and the game falls apart. Oligarchies are more stable than monopolies, both because the spoils of theft and murder are spread, making the rulers less likely to squabble (like, say, when one loses an election he should have won) and because it makes managing the losers easier.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at September 7, 2008 09:49 PM

I don't hear any squabbling. Haven't, for years. Why, by gum and by golly, we're all Americans.
American sheep, but American. Rally round the ROI, boys, the global economy gonna get your CEO.

Posted by: doescobar at September 7, 2008 10:33 PM