January 1st, 2009Thomas Paine's Corner
Part One: The Plot Thickens
(or, Why Am I Not Surprised?)
By Vi Ransel
(A Chicago story… A citizen walks into his alderman’s office looking for a job. “Who sent you?” a staffer asks. “Nobody” he replies. Says the staffer, “We don’t want nobody nobody sent.” Who sent Obama? In exactly four years he’s risen from an unknown state senator to president. That only happens when somebody sends for you. - Sam Smith)
The nature of his administration was evident
as he introduced his transition team and potential members of his cabinet.
The individuals selected are fixtures of the economic aristocracy
and the Washington Consensus establishment.
His Transitional Economic Advisory Board consists entirely
of members and representatives of the economic stratosphere -
CEOs, investment bankers, former SEC and Federal Reserve Chairs,
Clinton re-treads, DLC members, lobbyists, slumlords and billionaires.
In particular, the personnel of his economic transition team
and those considered as presidential cabinet appointees
contradict his campaign rhetoric about changing politics
by building a ground-up movement of the American people.
There is not one representative of the unemployed, unions or workers,
consumers or home owners facing foreclosure,
no representative from the NAACP or NOW or those
without the means to keep warm or get healthcare.
He makes not even the pretense of consulting anyone
who represents the American majority
who will be directly affected by his economic policies.
And as a demonstration of his highest priority,
his first post-electoral meeting was with this team made up entirely
of representatives of the Ultra Wealthy class
to shore up the fortunes of their friends at the banks.
His actions since the election are meant to send a message
to Wall St and the Ultra Wealthy that he stands ready to defend
their social interests and personal wealth not only in the U.S.
but abroad via military violence, all at tax payer expense,
clashing with the mandate given him by the American electorate
to reverse neoconservative and Republican politics.
Barack Obama and his transition team are setting the stage
for business as usual, underscoring
the widening gap between the hopes and aspirations
of America’s hopeful majority
and those of the DLC and the Democratic Party’s
praetorian Upper Class Warriors.
He was invented just a few short years ago in anticipation
of foreclosures, job loss, lack of healthcare, inflation,
disappearing retirement accounts, utility shutoffs,
and reactions to decaying infrastructure and education.
They needed to put a new face on the same old agenda
while continuing the American Class War
by a simple repainting of the existing deck chairs
on the luxury liner, United States of America,
and rolling out a tantalizing symbol of change
from behind which Rich White Men continue to rule,
as we slide, here in American Oz,
into the iceberg of their arrogant hubris.
Through unprecedented contributions underwritten primarily
by Wall Street, corporate interests and their big gun attorneys
he became the most heavily-funded presidential candidate in history,
never before achieved by a democratic presidential nominee.
Corporations have invested so much in him
because his State and US Senate voting record,
proves that he can be trusted
to implement their ongoing agenda.
Their 745 million dollar marketing and branding campaign,
relentlessly targeted the American electorate
a small price to pay for the billions they’ll rake in
when he, like FDR, saves capitalism.
* * * * *
Penny Pritzker, his billionaire fund raiser,
is an American, sub-prime mortgage queen,
who helped develop, introduce and securitize these derivatives
for sale in America and to investors overseas.
His vice-president is the “Senator from MasterCard”,
the multi-millionaire who fought to make it harder
for regular Americans to declare bankruptcy,
since he represents the world’s capital of corporate charters.
Bankruptcy law used to insure
that debtors kept paying their mortgages,
but “Biden’s” bill makes them pay off credit cards first
and sets up them to lose their homes to foreclosure.
Joe Biden was for invading Iraq as long ago as the 1990s,
and he’s such a fervent Israel-firster, he considers himself a Zionist.
* * * * *
Obama’s Transition Team has three co-chairs…
Multimillionaire John Podesta,
one of DC’s most successful lobbyists
works to get our representatives to vote
not in our, but his clients’ corporate interests:
big oil and tobacco, Big Pharma,
genetically-modified food manufacturers,
Wal-Mart and the chemical industry,
and the biggest of America’s defense contractors.
But this Transition team has “strict guidelines” for lobbyists.
His friend from Illinois, Valerie Jarrett
heads a Chicago real estate company
that worked with the Chicago administration
and received millions in local and federal subsidies
to oversee public housing which turned
into squalid, uninhabitable slum properties.
to Democratic Senator Tom Daschle.
He took the same position with an inexperienced Senate freshman
who was being groomed by the DLC and Democratic establishment.
* * * * *
Obama’s presidential Chief of Staff is Rahm Emanuel,
multi-millionaire former investment banker,
who with Clinton “reformed” welfare and helped to ram NAFTA
down the throats of environmentalists and labor.
He’s a leading member of the rightwing
Democratic Leadership Council
who says he’ll rein in remaining
Democratic Congressional liberals.
He volunteered for Israel’s IDF,
has dual US-Israeli citizenship
and the Israeli press touts him
as “Our man in the White House”
who’ll set the president’s agenda,
and control access to Obama’s Oval Office.
* * * * *
Barack Obama will improve on the War of Terror
by bombing and invading Pakistan.
He’ll leave 140,000 mercenaries in Iraq,
and expand the war in Afghanistan.
He’s not ruling out a nuclear first strike
in a pre-emptive attack on Iran.
And he’ll restore 9/11’s lost opportunity
to unite the world behind American aggression.
He promises to close Guantanamo while his advisors
plan “National Security Courts” and “Preventive Detention.”
He’ll let war criminals and corruption go unpunished,
as he sends billions more taxpayer dollars to the bankers.
He’ll send even more billions to Israel
along with our latest weapons,
endorsing Israeli apartheid, Gaza’s genocide
and the menace of Israeli aggression.
He’ll continue the Cuban embargo,
reignite the Cold War with Russia,
antagonize China, India and Pakistan
the DRC, Nigeria and Somalia.
He campaigned for Senate with a pro-NAFTA position.
He opposes single payer healthcare and a living wage.
He voted in support of the Patriot Act
and he’ll keep police state laws firmly in place.
He’ll do nothing to protect immigrants’ rights
and continue to undermine labor.
He’ll move toward privatizing education,
and keep Social Security firmly on the table.
He voted to make it harder to file class action suits
and for corporate-friendly tort “reform”,
against a 30% cap on credit card rates
and amnesty for illegally spying telecoms.
He supports the invasive real ID and the death penalty
and he’ll add to the list of crimes that are death-eligible.
He voted for a nuclear energy bill which included cluster bombs,
federal funding for Yucca Mountain and the production of ethanol.
He supported the bailout while rejecting moratoriums
on foreclosures and a freeze on mortgage rates
and wrote Clinton and conservatives were right to destroy welfare,
creating “workfare” to leave capitalism’s victims to their fate.
He led a 25-year reversal of an offshore drilling ban,
and wants to expand nuclear power and “clean” coal plants.
He’s for corporate subsidies, and enlarging the Pentagon’s budget
for U.S. military operations’ expansion.
A worsening financial crisis and a metastasizing budget
will preclude an expansion of social spending,
since Democrats intend to make the Working Class pay
for the breakdown of American capitalism
and the bailout of the financial aristocracy
as Obama makes the “difficult choices”
and industries line up for government handouts
while the people of America get screwed royally.
He embraces the politics of racist icons like Reagan
while claiming racism is not endemic in America
and that Blacks are 90% of the way to equality,
implying we’ll soon hear little about affirmative action.
While he presents a different face to the world,
reviving illusions of our democratic pretensions,
he’ll mute opposition to the plans of the financial elite
by providing the mirage of a hopeful alternative.
As his transition team moves further and further to the right,
we’ll see the true meaning of “change you can believe in”,
as Obama makes social and economic justice roadkill
while he drives America on in stagnant continuity.
This hypocrisy will be explained as pragmatism,
Obama’s “necessary concession to reality”,
but in reality this pragmatism is a euphemism
for the same old neo-conservative ideology.
His Clinton Era leftovers, now corporate lobbyists,
are rushing back to DC in a sickening flash forward
of the Class War’s continuation in America
and the metastasizing of wars of imperial conquest.
As representatives to the G-20 summit he sent
Jim Leach, of the infamous Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act
and Madeleine “We think the price was worth it” Albright.
And we’re supposed to cut Obama some slack?!!
He’s not the solution, but the face of the problem,
the perfect symbol of change made on Wall Street
and the Ultra Wealthy’s savviest members
in response to the crisis of their imperial policies.
Corporate capitalists have a knack for selling
seeming rebellion against themselves,
marketing products which allow people to pretend
to transcend the conformity of which these products are an emblem,
and besides, their tired ideology needed to be repackaged,
rebranded and sold as “change you can believe in”.
Deliberate mis-education, indoctrination via entertainment
and news that’s actually public relations,
reduces communication to slogans and symbols,
and markets policy, politics and politicians
like brands used for consumer indoctrination
supported by stories which evoke strong emotions,
repeating buzzwords and slogans ad nauseum
’til we give up and buy the Scott, the Marcal,
the Cottonelle, the Angel Soft or the Charmin
because they don’t give us the time to think,
just project our values on the product they’re selling,
so all that’s left for the people to do
is click their heels three times, say “Yes we can”
and hope for the change we can believe in,
in the ongoing electoral extravaganza.
Reality has nothing to do with it
and there’s a reason we remember advertising slogans.
They paid doctors of psychology billions to create psyops,
and if it didn’t work they wouldn’t spend money to do it.
As a consequence Americans are the last ones to know
what their country is actually doing,
while the rest of the civilized world stands appalled
at the depth of our ignorance and imperial hubris.
Marketing personality and image to distort the anger
people feel at the two-party duopoly’s regressive policies
in service of the oligarchy and corporate control
has reached its apex in Barack Obama.
Three weeks before he was elected, He was named
“Advertising Age’s” Marketer of the Year.
He beat out Apple, Coors and Nike,
going from unknown to president in four years.
His $745 million dollar marketing campaign
allowed him to surround himself with ad men
who have a (firm) grasp on the people’s psychology
due to their expertise in marketing and branding.
While he was initially sold by ad agency AKP&D,
when he won the primary he hired an entire stable,
including Murphy Putnum Media,
Shorr Johnson Magnus, Dixon Davis Media,
Squier Knapp Dunn Communications and SS&K.
And contrary to his media-promoted image,
just one-quarter of that 745 million came from small donors.
And he established himself as America’s leading brand,
and an iconic label the whole world over.
Through his advertising slogan “Change we can believe in”
and the hint his skin color meant radically different polices,
he’s chosen a right-wing cabinet and advisors
who are pro-foreign wars and domestic austerity.
He’s appointing the architects of the economic collapse
who engineered it through deregulation
and deceiving the American people into believing
that the status quo is actually a change.
And as he disarms them with genial disingenuity,
they’ll lower their guard and acquiesce
to programs Bush would have been pilloried for
which savage the interests of the American Working Class
while funneling more of their hard-earned money
to the rapacious financial pirates manning the banks.
His checkered voting record highlights his capitulation
to the Democratic Party and the profit system it defends,
but people cling to the HOPE that he’ll deliver other than
what his past words and actions have proven him.
His candidacy, his entire career, was designed
as a means of effecting tactical changes
in pursuit of US imperialist interests
while masking a rightwing political agenda.
Anyone who paid attention to what he was doing and saying,
and looked at his voting record is not at all surprised.
And the “Left”, the Democrats and the mainstream media,
will to go to any length in order to provide
the rationale for subordinating the mandate
the American electorate expects to see,
their hopes of change for a brighter future
fulfilled by Obama’s impending presidency.
Democratic leaders insist it would be wrong to interpret
the election as a mandate for substantial policy changes,
and that the next administration must “rule” (!!!) from the center.
And his own advisors are “well aware of the dangers
of interpreting the results of the election as a mandate
for unabashed liberal government,” and so the Democrats
must reject the will of the American people
and work with the bastards they just voted out.
Democrats are seeking to dampen expectations
and they’re joined by respected economists and historians,
investigative reporters, populist pundits and editors
of newspapers, magazines and online journals,
because not only are they sleeping with the enemy,
the enemy is who they have become.
This is what passes for The left in America.
And even Dr. Phil tells us that past behavior
is the best indicator of future actions.
Get a clue! Obama is not our savior.
Non-Blacks who oppose Obama’s policies
will branded with epithets like “racist” and “traitor”,
while Blacks who oppose him will be ignored or disdained
or perhaps given an “enemy combatant” designation.
Obama is not a uniter or a divider, but a pacifier,
a dark horse financed and groomed by the financial elite
to install as one more popular, yet pliant sock puppet.
What we’ve achieved is a Pyrrhic victory,
since it appears all we got for our vote
was a truly magnificent White House lawn jockey
sitting astride a neoconservative Trojan Horse
singing a siren song with the allure of unobtainable democracy
obscuring the fact that the economic and political process
is just a matter of deciding who gets what and how much.
And his administration will regurgitate the same old agenda,
while a recycled Clinton/Bush team continues to cakewalks us
down the river for sale to the corporate plantation
in a parody of change which is the status quo in blackface
and the Democratic Party and the corporate-owned media
form a Greek chorus bewailing our “exaggerated claims
of entitlement” and “impractical” raised expectations
for which they having nothing but contempt and callous disdain.
Obama is the exclusive property of billionaires,
bought and branded with the 745 million dollar mark of Cain,
whose most valuable asset will be getting the American people
to voluntarily drink this Peculiar Institution’s Kool-Aid.
And unless this rightwing Trojan Horse,
is actually a double-agent/mole,
Americans have once again been screwed
in the ongoing electoral minstrel show.
Wherein all the bipartisan chiefs of Washington sit within
bearing our collective death and fate -
“And are Ulysses arts no better known?
This hollow fabric either must enclose
within in blind recess, our secret foes;
or ‘t is an engine rais’d above the town,
t’ o’erlook the walls, and then to batter down.
Somewhat is sure design’d by fraud or force:
trust not their presents, nor admit the horse.”
- Virgil’s Aeneid, Book Two, translated by John Dryden.
His “Team of Reactionaries embodies the president-elect’s cynical and contemptuous repudiation of his campaign rhetoric and the aspirations of the vast majority of those who voted for him.” - Tom Eley
“The illusion of freedom will continue as long as it’s profitable to continue the illusion. At the point where the illusion becomes too expensive to maintain, they will just take down the scenery, pull back the curtains, and you will see the brick wall at the back of the theater.” - Frank Zappa
“People who shut their eyes to reality simply invite their own destruction, and anyone who insists on remaining in a state of innocence long after that innocence is dead turns himself into a monster.” - James Baldwin
“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.” - Albert Einstein
“The cure for despair is not hope.” - Phyllis Wheatley
“Obama’s ascendancy is an excellent illustration of how the system handles dissent. A black face, a soothing voice and a vague message of change - all designed to keep the rabble pacified without changing anything at all.” - Mickey Z
Poet and part-time actor Viola Ransel is a Senior Contributing Editor with CJO.
To further your sociopolitical education, strengthen your connection with the radical community, and deepen your participation in forming an egalitarian, just, ecological, non-speciesist and democratic society, visit the Transformative Studies Institute at http://transformativestudies.org/ and the Institute for Critical Animal Studies at http://www.criticalanimalstudies.org/.