Wednesday, May 21, 2008


David Seaton's News Links
I draw my share of flack because I don't imbibe the Kool-Aid on Obama, and I'd like to clarify this a bit.

The problem here, as I see it, isn't
really Obama, as it isn't really Bush, they are just symptoms.

America and Americans give the impression at this moment of wandering through history aided only by a white cane.

On one hand the people
reelect someone who was already clearly incompetent in 2004 and now they are about to elect someone without any practical experience of government.

Not just that, but a lot of things don't make sense.

Look at the reaction of the Chinese people (not just their government) to the earthquake and then look at the reaction of the American people (not just their government) to Katrina.

50 years ago, I think Americans would have responded like the Chinese. The Chinese reaction seems to me the normal reaction of a great people to a terrible tragedy, the American reaction seems to me both autistic and decadent and America didn't get to the position it occupies by being either autistic
or decadent... and it certainly won't/isn't keeping that position by being autistic and decadent.

So, the problem in my view is not Obama, the problem is not the leaders.

In a Democracy, even a flawed one like America's, the leaders are only symptoms, the problem is in the
society and that is where the work has to be done.

I think the country has been somehow hollowed out.


Well, I posted the above over at TPM Café and I got this question,
First I'm struck by your cynicism, If there were ever a year to have some hope it's this year. We've had more young people be involved than ever before on both sides of the isle. Even Ron Paul has been huge in his groundswell of support. This is also the most educated young electorate we've ever had. Certainly you have to have a little confidence America is at least starting to head in the right direction.

Secondly I would like to know how you square Clinton's vote for the war? If you are not a Clinton supporter who do you support?

To which I replied:

First the secondly:

Secondly I would like to know how you square Clinton's vote for the war? If you are not a Clinton supporter who do you support?
And firstly the secondly of the secondly. I am not a "Hillary supporter", although I like the idea of a woman president (of any color).

I think that by far the best candidate this year would have been Al Gore: experience, vision, right on the war, great international prestige based on action, not "charisma"... It still might happen in a hung convention, but the Democrats are the Democrats...

And secondly the secondly of the firstly:

Certainly you have to have a little confidence America is at least starting to head in the right direction.
Really, do I have to?

Four years ago, in perfect good faith, the American people
reelected a war criminal who had proved to be totally incompetent... even as a war criminal. Now they are ready to elect president a community organizer under the patronage of Dick Daley, with no experience relevant to managing the affairs of a superpower... pure Frank Capra, "Mr Smith Goes to Washington". Really do I have to have confidence?

And thirdly the secondly or perhaps the thirdly of the secondly.
Who do you support?
Actually I support myself, eating my bread in the sweat of my brow.

As to the presidency.

I see different scenarios:

  • Obama wins and reality and the interest groups and his desire for a second term cause him to fudge. I don't think he has anything near Jimmy Carter's integrity or anything like Bill Clinton's sex drive, so he will be much duller than people think. The kids will be heartbroken.
  • McCain wins and this means the end of Goldwater/Reagan Republicanism. (see Peggy Noonan's lament). This would truly transform American politics. Interesting idea: to survive, the Republicans commit ideological hara-kiri.
I really like what Obama says and I am horrified by many of the things McCain says, however, as you have noted, I am rather cynical, (the Spanish say that the devil knows more because of his age than because he is the devil) I pay little attention to anything a politician says when running for office and much attention to what he or she has actually done when in office.

In this case, as Obama has done practically nothing, I am left with what he says.

In the case of McCain, he has a very long record, some of it is quite attractive and some less. It does give you the feeling that there won't be many nasty surprises and there might even be some pleasant ones.

But, since I would have to vote absentee from Illinois, and the Land of Lincoln, will surely adorn itself with leis and hula skirts to vote massively for its favorite son, voting even for Ralph Nader would be a waste of time, so I probably will sit this one out. DS


Anna said...

This is an old post at RezkoWatch. It illustrates the difficulty of judging Obama by his words:you don't need a weatherman to know which way the polls blow. Obama tends to slide off of his stated positions. I expect that the change indicated ocurred at the same time Obama was backing Lieberman.

RezkoWatch FactChecker: Sen. "Barack O'bomb 'em"
Carl Davidson, a former president of the 1960s' radical organization Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), was a "key organizer" of the October 2, 2002, Chicago antiwar rally at which Sen. Barack Obama spoke out against the war in Iraq, saying that he was against "dumb wars", RezkoWatch reported April 28, 2008.

In a February 2, 2007, Socialist Worker article, Adam Turl wrote:

Carl Davidson, a former Vietnam War protest leader who helped organize the 2002 rally Obama so famously spoke at, says that after the protest and the 2003 invasion, Obama's position on the war began to morph.

"After he visited Iraq when the war was on, he turned," Davidson wrote recently. "Now we had to set aside whether it was right or wrong to invade, now we had to find the 'smart' path to victory, not Bush's 'dumb' path...[I]n dealing with Iran, we had to leave on the table bombing their nuclear sites. For this, a lot of the local antiwar activists started calling him 'Barack O'bomb 'em.'

"He wasn't listening much to us anymore, but to folks much higher up in the [Democratic Leadership Council] orbit. He had bigger plans."

A few days later, Dan Curry of Reverse Spin picked up on Davidson's comments.

While Barack Obama cavorts in Hollywood with the likes of George Clooney and spars with Hillary Clinton, the Marxist community in Chicago sits patiently and waits.

They too, want an audience with Obama. They won’t be giving him money. They want to know if he’s still the same person they endorsed in 1995 when he first ran for state Senate.

This fascinating link [from January 21, 2007] is courtesy of Bill Baar [who is not blogging at present]. It is a discussion board post one month ago by Carl Davidson, a longtime fringe leftist who claims to know Obama well. To put Davidson’s philosophy in perspective, read this account of a [September 2006] meeting of the reconstituted radical group SDS where he said his Vietnam era generation was "the last generation that believed in America." Bernardine Dohrn, the Weather Underground terrorist who now teaches at Northwestern University, sent her regrets (seriously).

Anyway, here’s what Davidson said on the discussion board about Obama. He recalled the good old days, when Barack and the far left Chicago New Party were on the same page:

I’m from Chicago, too, and known Obama from the time he came to the New Party to get our endorsement for his first race ever. I’ve been in his home, and as an IL legislator, he’s helped or community technology movement a number of times. He said all the right things to the ACORN and New Party folks, and we endorsed him, but I noticed too, that he seemed to measure every answer to questions put to him several times before coming out with it.

He spoke at our first antiwar rally. He spent most of his speech detailing all the wars in history he supported, then finally made a distinction between just wars and "dumb" wars, and going into Iraq, which was still six months down the road then, was a "dumb war," and he flatly opposed it. Good, that put him on our side, and some of us organized a fundraiser for him for his Senate race. But a friend of mine, and also an Obama campaigner, at that first rally, nudged me and asked, "Who was that speech for? Certainly not this crowd." Now we know.

After he visited Iraq when the war was on, he turned. Now we had to set aside whether it was right or wrong to invade, now we had to find the "smart" path to victory, not Bush’s "dumb" path. Also, in dealing with Iran, we had to leave on the table bombing their nuclear sites. For this, a lot of the local antiwar activists started calling him "Barack O'bomb 'em". He wasn’t listening much to us anymore, but to folks much higher up in the DLC orbit. He had bigger plans.

To be fair, I read a recent speech he gave to laid-off workers from a plant closing out in Galesburg, IL, around globalization, corporate responsibility, the safety net, the third wave, and so on. It was very good. Save for not mentioning the war, I probably couldn’t written a better one myself.

Giving the current crisis and developments in Congress, he may move back to our side on the war, and get as far as, say, [Penn. Rep. John] Murtha's position. But right now he’s not in the "Out Now" camp, not as good as Murtha, and a triangulator par excellence. I’ve watched him do it up close. The press and his publicists put him in our camp, but if you look at his speeches and votes since his trip to Iraq, I think you’ll find he has a way to go. Our peace groups here are sending a bunch of us to visit him soon, and get on his case. Perhaps he’s still a work in progress, as Jesse Jackson says, but he still has a way to go to get back in my good graces, and those of many more of us here also.

Carl Davidson, Chicago

"I wonder if the Obama camp will publicize this meeting. It promises to be more interesting than the one in Hollywood."


The rally in Chicago on October 2nd, 2002 was not organized by a politician or a recognized political force. Quite the contrary. It was organized by a loose group of friends—veterans of the women’s movement, the student movement, the civil rights movement, who alarmed by the prospect of what they considered an unwise and unfounded march to war and aware, yet seeing no one—from politicians to pundits to the press daring to speak out against a seemingly all-powerful republican juggernaut,—and fearing that if they did not speak out the war, the very room for disagreement with the White House on any issue would vanish, took it upon themselves to reclaim the public space for dissent.

Meeting in a living room in Chicago just ten days earlier, we chose to act agreeing that on October 2nd, 2002, we would assemble in Chicago’s Federal Plaza to stand against the war. With a gut feeling that other Americans also thought the invasion of Iraq was foolhardy, if not immoral and absurd, but with no assurance than anyone would come to a demonstration we agreed that "If we were five, we would be five." "If we were without any elected officials, we would be an involved citizenry. But we would take a stand."

But we were not alone. In fact nearly 3,000 people assembled in Federal Plaza on that day responding to the flurry of emails (a new organizing technology for us) that seemingly liberated people from their sense of isolation and offered them the opportunity of collective action - of community. Black, Latino, White, veterans of the peace and women’s movements, the 60s, high school and college youth, community activist—a mosaic of the City. Long time leaders like Jesse Jackson, Juan Andrade and Julie Hamos and a new voice.... not yet known to the crowd, to the media or to the nation.... the voice of State Senator Barack Obama."

Katz and former SDS president Carl Davidson, "two perennially engaged ’60s veterans and ex-SDS members", Jeff Epton wrote December 15, 2003, in In These Times, were "key organizers" of the October 2, 2002, anti-war demonstration. Originating as Chicagoans Against War with Iraq (CAWI), by December 2003 CAWI had morphed into Chicagoans Against War and Injustice. Davidson explained, "as the war transformed from invasion to occupation, CAWI activists managed to avoid splits over sectarian and strategic differences, and committed to stay together and move from 'protest to politics'."

In 2005, Katz and Davidson co-authored Stopping War, Seeking Justice. Davidson is "now a figure in the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism, an offshoot of the old Moscow-controlled CPUSA," Cliff Kincaid wrote February 18, 2008, for Accuracy in Media.

Davidson is also an Obama supporter, now heading up a group called Progressives for Obama. On his personal blog Keep On Keepin' On, Davidson recently defended Sen. Obama's comments about small town people being bitter.

Anonymous said...

50 years ago, America had literacy tests, admittedly not always fairly enforced, to keep the unteachable from voting. You leftists thought getting rid of them was a great idea.

Why do you now pine for the America of 50 years ago?

Anonymous said...

Hey David, I'm from Europe and I think your gut feeling is right. I'm generally sympathtic to the "Left" but at least here in Europe they are responsible for some of the wrongest policy decisions when actually in power. A gross example would be the german Greens and Social Democrats authorising the war on Yugoslavia when the conservatives would have been much more cautious about it.

Maybe, if the general political development in the US is still lagging behind Europe by quite a bit, and they are bound to mirror our developments with a bit of lag, a weak "leftist" like Obama could become responsible for even grosser misdecisions than in Europe.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

50 years ago, America had literacy tests
That was in the South. Jim Crow is Jim Crow and universal suffrage is universal suffrage. I d0n't pine for that America, that's for sure.

Anonymous said...

You neatly misrepresent my point, and then demolish a straw man.

As I explicitly mentioned, literacy tests were abused to disenfranchise African-Americans. I'm with you on wishing those times good riddance.

Literacy tests were also used to keep the sort of people who today vote for the candidate most likely to provoke a nuclear war (rapture morons) away from the ballot box.

Especially in a winner takes all, essentially two party system, (which the United States but no country in Continental Europe has) such people can cause a disproportionate amount of headaches, such as giving Bush his margin over Kerry.

People stupid enough to pine for nuclear war simply do not have the wits to be responsible voters.

If anything I am more against racists abusing literacy tests than you are, because it allowed Democrats like LBJ, keen to expand their voting base, to discredit the entire idea that incorrigibly incompetent people should not make decisions at the polls.

This trashing of the Constitution gave the Democrats an electoral advantage for a few election cycles; now these poor people vote for a Constitution-abusing warmonger who claims to be a Republican.

Perhaps ends justify means, but the leftists who praise LBJ should have the decency to accept responsiblity for his legacy.

RC said...

If you are wanting Al "Earth Tones" Gore as the Pres, David, that seems not to be very cynical to me. Al is simply not the cynic's choice. So shame on that commenter.
I like your Abbot and Costello explanation but now I think 'Who' might be on second base, not first, anymore.
And from Anna's extensive comment I have only to say what I have thought all along: Obama is much more Machiavelli than he is Mr. Smith. And in my book, that's good.
Obama will be up against Putin and the Hu Jintao full court press, from two directions at once, and on top of that, the Iraq swamp under his feet, the million mosquitos of all the other international second level attacks, underminings and crises, all accompanied by the crowd, the US citizenry, as they wail and rend garments over gas and food and heating prices and the dessicated economy.
Obama is not ignorant, he knows what he is up against.
If there IS any argument against him, and also Hillary or McCain, shouldn't it be that anyone who wants to play that game on the court we'll have in 2009, is simply, plainly insane?
Maybe Al Gore is as boring and normal as we all suspected and he wouldn't dream of taking the job now.

Avedon said...

I don't believe for a minute that George Bush was re-elected in 2004. I've looked carefully at the numbers, the excuses, the "explanations", and the statements of witnesses, and all I see is that there's no evidence that Bush won except that the Republicans who own the voting machines said he did. Everything else says that Kerry won in a landslide.

I also think you are way too trusting of the media narrative about McCain. He's not a garden-variety Republican of the old stripe, he's a neocon crazy who is every bit as nasty as his detractors say. The only times he has gone against the right-wing is when he had to acquiesce to popular issues in his state for the sake of re-election, and he never did it if it was anything that would make a difference. People imagine that he has changed from a previously better man, but he hasn't - he's always been contemptuous of the troops, corrupt, and a warmonger. Don't make him out to be anything else.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

He had a pretty straight record of being a "realist" of the Colin Powell variety , which is normal in a professional soldier/sailor, at least until until he started running for the presidency. Personally I think he is pandering to AIPAC in order to take Florida.

Most veterans are not as eager as the Chicken Hawks, this their family their are sending off.

RC said...

My father was Army Corps of Engineers, a sergeant. Was in the North Africa campaign, and up through Italy, also in Korea for the whole thing. When I told him I would not register and would not go to Vietnam and would not go to Canada either, just face the music in court, he said it made sense to him, but why not at least go to University in the meantime? One thing that very few military types fess up to but that they know is true is that the whole military game is bizarre as a way of accomplishing anything. We don't mean that there isn't battlefield bravery and honor, we just mean "The Army Way" as opposed to how a rational organization might go about accomplishing something. My father eventually {by the sixties} claimed that the whole government was now on the Army Way standard and he didn't mean anything positive by the remark. For those who wish to undermine the weakness of my argument, I concede that perhaps there is no rational organization, so let us just say less dysfunctional.

Gray Brechin said...

Enough Gore-ulation, and especially the vision thing! Despite presumably writing "Earth In the Balance," Al Gore scarcely mentioned the environment as an issue in the 1999 campaign. He chose the odious Joe Lieberman as his running mate. He then not only acceded to the Republicans' election theft but gaveled down the Black Caucus's attempted challenge of same. Thus, he shares with Justice Sandra Day O'Connor responsibility for the hideous disaster of the Bush2 years. He's as deserving of the Nobel Prize as was Henry Kissinger.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Gore's as deserving of the Nobel Prize as was Henry Kissinger.
You don't go with the Nobel you want, you go with the Nobel you have.

stunted said...

I realize this is a little late for a comment, but Avedon and gray brechin bring up the election results from 2004 and 2000, respectively. If, indeed, the 2004 election was stolen, let alone a Kerry landslide, and if there was any meek caving on the 2000 judicial coup d'etat, we are the ones to blame; not Al Gore; not anybody else. We could have, like any people ready to back up its so-called principles with action instead of bumper stickers, simply refused to go to work; brought America to a standstill until the real winner was acknowledged. This, of course, requires inconvenience and sacrifice.

Lieberman was a strange choice, though..........

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

Lieberman was a strange choice, though..........
You bet!
I have never figured out Lieberman. He is like some sort of Albatross.

stunted said...

The only explanation for the Lieberman VP choice that I can dream up is that, as he was the first Democrat in Congress to publicly shame Clinton for the stain on the little blue dress, Gore chose him to create a sanitary barrier between him and the Prez., obviously thinking this would help his chances.

David Seaton's Newslinks said...

I think you are right