The Obvious (Forbidden) Answer

Yesterday, I ridiculed Obama’s ridiculous promise to waste $4 billion “helping” the mass-murdering automotive corporations.

If that’s such a bad idea, then what’s a better one?

Well, it sure ain’t rocket science:

For starters, moving toward better cars is already happening. Why in the world should the public have to pay for that, even at Obama’s pathetically paltry level?

What we need instead is to build ourselves modern intra- and inter-city railroads, and make all public transit free.

As to the money, nobody batted an eye about running the Iraq Invasion via deficit financing, and that criminality doesn’t come close to providing the macro-economic stimulus that building real railroads and funding free public transport would. Whatever deficits would be required up front would probably be gone within a few years, as a sea of good new jobs for workers added new paychecks and tax revenues.

Of course, none of this is going to happen, barring a massive democratic uprising. Corporate capitalism cannot survive without cars-first transportation in the USA. Hence, more roadkill is the only option that will be “on the table.”

Another Change You Can Believe In

Fresh off his post-primary promise not to question existing US policy on Israel, Mr. Obama has now revealed even more of what he meant by “change.”  Apparently, the unnamed “changes” he promised during his pathetic battle with the walking disease known as Hillary Clinton were not alterations in the murderous/suicidal policies of our troubled market totalitarian neo-racist nation, but rather swift, sharp shifts away from the things millions of poor, deluded Obama people thought they were voting for:

The general campaign is on, independent voters are up for grabs, and Barack Obama is toning down his populist rhetoric – at least when it comes to free trade.

In an interview with Fortune to be featured in the magazine’s upcoming issue, the presumptive Democratic nominee backed off his harshest attacks on the free trade agreement and indicated he didn’t want to unilaterally reopen negotiations on NAFTA.

“Sometimes during campaigns the rhetoric gets overheated and amplified,” he conceded, after I reminded him that he had called NAFTA “devastating” and “a big mistake.”

Does that mean his rhetoric was overheated and amplified? “Politicians are always guilty of that, and I don’t exempt myself,” he answered.

Olbermann Nails It

Not that it excuses Barack Obama’s disgusting, cleverly disguised “vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics” (spotted and described by Adolph Reed, in his book Class Notes, way back in 1996), but Keith Olbermann absolutely gets it right about the walking disease known as Hillary Clinton:

The video (with typically biased headline — this is not a rant; it’s a rare snippet of rather tame and long-overdue journalism).

What Did MLK Really Say About Personal Responsibility?

In his scramble to become Head Babysitter of the status quo in the United States, Barack Obama famously threw his minister, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, under the bus. There will be no “trouble-makers” on his bus, Mr. Obama wants to make clear.

But Reverend Wright is not the only victim of the Obama bus-toss routine. Another major victim has been none other than Martin Luther King, Jr.

As I noted here last month, on the 40th anniversary of Dr. King’s assassination, Obama ended a generally picayune and misleading commemorative speech with this conclusion:

One of the forgotten aspects of Dr. King’s legacy is how he demanded personal responsibility as well as societal responsibility.

This, of course, is standard code-talk for saying “Racism is over, so get off your asses, black people, and fuck you if you don’t.”

This is a blatantly wrong and anti-MLK thing to say, but, as my initial disgust wore off, I found myself wanting to return to the issue. What exactly did Dr. King have to say about personal responsibility?

To answer this question, you don’t have to look very hard. In fact, the topic didn’t just arise, but leaped up, in MLK’s very first major speech — which was about — dig it — BUSES!

Having just the night before been chosen to lead the newly-formed Montgomery Improvement Association, the 27-year-old MLK went to the Holt Street Church to explain to the overflow crowd of bus boycotters why Rosa Parks’ arrest a few days prior was a turning point.

King’s December 5, 1955 speech, as reported by Harvard Sitkoff in his marvelous new book, went like this:

Several hundred blacks crammed the sanctuary and the basement auditorium, while several thousand more lined the sidewalks surrounding the church, listening on loudspeakers to rousing renditions of “Onward, Christian Soldiers” and “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms,” to somber Scripture readings, and to pleas for financial support by numerous ministers.

Then an unassuming Martin King mounted the podium. Few in attendance had ever heard him speak, and the short, chubby preacher was hardly a commanding presence in the pulpit.

“We are here this evening for serious business,” he intoned slowly, “and we are determined to apply our citizenship to the fullness of its means.” In his rich, deep voice, he calmly recalled the history of bus segregation and asked the black community to protest the arrest of Rosa Parks, “not one of the finest Negro citizens, but one of the finest citizens in Montgomery.”

Having captured his listeners with his deliberate enunciation, King quickened his cadence and wagged an admonishing finger. “You know, my friends, there comes a time, there comes a time when people get tired-tired of being segregated and humiliated, tired of being trampled over by the iron feet of oppression.” Loud applause and shouts forced King to pause, then to pause further as the throng outside added a rising, clamorous approval.

The volume and pitch of the preacher’s words rose. “There comes a time, my friends, when people get tired of being thrown across the abyss of humiliation, where they experience the bleakness of nagging despair. There comes a time when people get tired of being pushed out of the glittering sunlight of life’s July and left standing amidst the piercing chill of an alpine November.” A wave of clapping hands and stomping feet shook the church and again made King wait.

“We had no alternative but to protest.” King pointed again for emphasis. “For many years, we have shown amazing patience. We have sometimes given our white brothers the feeling that we liked the way we were being treated. But we come here tonight to be saved from that patience that makes us patient with anything less than freedom and justice.”

King’s baritone resounded: “The great glory of American democracy is the right to protest for right.” Looking down at his hands on the sides of the lectern, he contrasted that right with those “incarcerated behind the iron curtain of a communistic nation,” and with the violence and lawlessness of white supremacists who defied the Constitution, stirring more shouts of “Keep talking” that momentarily drowned him out.”If we are wrong,” King contended, “the Supreme Court of this nation is wrong. If we are wrong, God Almighty is wrong!” Straining to be heard above the din, he thundered, “If we are wrong, Jesus of Nazareth was merely a utopian dreamer and never came down to earth! If we are wrong, justice is a lie.”

The preacher waited. “And we are determined here in Montgomery to work and fight, until justice runs down like water and righteousness as a mighty stream!” The rafters shook. To still the crescendo of cheers, King held both palms aloft and bowed his head. “If you will protest courageously and yet with dignity and Christian love”-his voice lowered-“when the history books are written in future generations, the historians will have to pause and say: ‘There lived a race of people, black people, fleecy locks and black complexion, of people who had the moral courage to stand up for their rights. And thereby they injected new meaning and dignity into the veins of civilization.’ [THAT’S RIGHT!] [YESSIR.] [SPEAK. SPEAK!]

“This is our challenge,” he concluded with his head aloft, “and our overwhelming responsibility.”

The rhythm of the words, the power of the rising and falling voice, the bold vision of triumphing over wrong stunned the crowd into sudden silence as King abruptly stepped away from the pulpit, trembling from his effort. Then, rising as one, the congregation shouted its resolve to continue the boycott.

As they say in kindergarten, the wheels of the bus go round and round. Alas, it’s always the wrong people who feel the kiss of the tread…

Obama Hashes MLK

Fresh off yet another paean to Ronald Reagan, and not long after trashing his own minister for saying that racism and illegal U.S. wars exist, Barack Obama chose today, the 40th anniversary of the most tragic assassination in American history, to make nonsense of the life and struggles of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Here’s Obama’s general explanation:

The struggle for economic justice remains an unfinished part of the King legacy because the dream is still out of reach for too many Americans.

So, in other words, Obama’s version boils down to this: Once you’ve reached “economic justice” for yourself, you’ve “reached” MLK’s dream.

What misrepresentation, in both directions. Not only does Mr. Obama shrink Dr. King’s inherently collective dream of a fair, egalitarian, democratic, and peaceful society down to the size of a raisin the sun, but, by making the “dream” about mere personal economic comfort, he once again does exactly what his massively over-rated “race speech” did — it lets the smug and the comfortable off the hook for their own share of our collective situation. “I’m comfortable, so Dr. King’s dream is real for me!”

At best, this reduces MLK’s dream (which was actually a challenge, if you have an ear and a brain) to the long-running, insipid, selfish “American dream” propaganda line. That particular dogma has always been designed to get people to take their suburban possessions as a reason to abandon all but the most stupid and apathetic form of ethics and politics.

But, wait. As always with the “major” candibots, it gets worse. Not only does Obama want to shrink MLK down to his own puny scale, but he blatantly tries get you to believe that his own past, present, and future sell-outs are somehow compatible with anything MLK ever said or did. King called for democratic socialism and honest racial reconciliation in America. Meanwhile, here’s what Obama would have you think he called for:

that we’ll be able to find a job that pays a decent wage, that there will be affordable health care when we get sick, that we’ll be able to send our kids to college, and that after a lifetime of hard work, we’ll be able to retire with security

“Affordable” health care? Seriously? No wonder Obama feels compelled to call MLK’s prescriptions — demands for a society-wide “radical redistribution of economic power” and genuine, practical repair of the crushing damages of racial slavery and Jim Crow — “modest dreams.”

But, wait. It gets even worse than this! It couldn’t possibly be a speech by an aspiring “mainstream” politician without this steaming pile of de rigeur excrement, could it?:

While Obama talked about increasing the number of police on the streets, expanding after-school and other programs and rebuilding the economy to give young people alternatives to crime and hope for the future, he also told the public that government can’t do everything.

“Men, you have to take care of your children,” he said, noting that his own father left him and his mother when he was two.

Echoing an issue that former Vice President Dan Quayle was ridiculed for when he raised it in the early 1990s, Obama said that parents must marry.
Here, the words won Obama a standing ovation.

“One of the forgotten aspects of Dr. King’s legacy is how he demanded personal responsibility as well as societal responsibility,” Obama said.

From the mountaintop to the toilet bowl…

The Selling of the Candibots: Bad as You Thought

“We’re surprised it’s been so early,” said Greg D’Alba, chief operating officer for advertising sales at CNN. “And this will probably open the door.”

The early-arriving “it” to which Mr. D’Alba refers, of course, is multi-million-dollar advertising campaigns from the candibots seeking the U.S. Presidency. The pace of such spending has already topped $2 million a week from both the Klinton and Obama spin-a-thons.

What this means is that this whole charade we continue to swallow as a legitimate electoral process is indeed getting even more rotten — at a pace that surprises even seasoned commercial television insiders. Meanwhile, the list of un-addressed dire domestic and international problems also rapidly lengthens. The “political” marketing money gets ever bigger and pours into the idiot box ever earlier. As it does, the “debate” gets ever less substantial and genuine. Lather, rinse, repeat — until the country and/or the Earth implodes and/or explodes.

And, once again, recall that advertising is but the tip the marketing iceberg. Even as they use the inherently anti-rational and anti-democratic medium of television to push your buttons with quasi-promises of eensy-weensy tax shifts and new laws to force the poor and the insecure to buy third-rate private health “insurance,” the “major” candibots are also certainly spending ever-increasing sums on focus groups and other types of marketing research. As in the larger enterprise of big business marketing, their purpose is not to discover people’s deepest needs, but merely to find and exploit weaknesses. The candibots’ end goal is to fill their gaping ego-voids by winning the struggle to use political marketing to sell us a new brand of babysitting the status quo.

This is one area where the best choice right now is to surrender yourself to that other, more genuine kind of “E.D.” — Electile Dysfunction. Prescription: If you find yourself taking these vote-stealing hucksters seriously for more than a quarter-hour, seek immediate help.