What WikiLeaks Reveals
David Michael Green
GAY & LESBIAN COMMUNITY NOTES
Bang You're Dead
"Cat's Paw" Liability
One Year After
Exploiting U.S. Coal
Angola 3 News
The Real Cost of Prisons
Angola 3 News
Savage Imperialism 2
U.S. Threat to China
Nicolas J.S. Davies
Zaps - 01/11
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The Obama Syndrome
Surrender at Home, War Abroad
Book by Tariq Ali; Verso, 2010, 156 pp.
Tariq Ali reports that the system is rotten, everybody knows it. One can almost hear Ali uttering these words the same way he does in a lecture or a debate: carefully, slowly, self-assured. Ali writes that Obama favors a thoroughly discredited market-oriented approach to every important issue while nurturing the military muscle to enforce it. Bailouts for the casinos on Wall Street? No problem. Help for homeowners in jeopardy? Not so much. Increased military spending? Obama makes Bush look like a welterweight. Withdraw from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan? Obama calls leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq complemented by a large contingent of mercenaries, and completing the largest U.S. embassy in the world in Baghdad, withdrawal. He ups the ante in Afghanistan—although Ali says we shouldn't be surprised because he promised to do so in his campaign. He increased the drone attacks across the Afghanistan border with Pakistan (which have killed countless innocent civilians and destabilized the regime) and spread the so-called terror war to Sudan, Yemen, and Somalia. After winning the election, he watched as Israel mercilessly attacked hospitals, schools, mosques, homes, orphanages, UN facilities, and used white phosphorous munitions on the civilian population of Gaza.
Repeatedly Ali describes the pusillanimity of the Obama style of governance. For example: "Unable and unwilling to deliver any serious reforms, Obama has become the master of the sympathetic gesture, the understanding smile, the pained but friendly expression that always appear(s) to say, 'Really, I agree and wish we could, but we can't. We really can't and it's not my fault.' The implication is always that the Washington system prevents any change that he could believe in. But the ring of truth is absent."
Obama and his Secretary of Education Arne Duncan have promoted charter over public schools in the process vilifying teachers and their unions. They promote militarized schools in Chicago and elsewhere. Ali speculates that this is a process designed to obviate the need for a draft by creating a surplus contingent of war recruits from the underclass, available for service to empire.
Only six months before the oil disaster in the gulf, Obama and his industry-friendly secretary of the Interior, Ken Salazar, had colluded with the oil giants to allow for just the type of oil drilling that resulted in the catastrophe. Again and again, Ali shows that Obama works, like his predecessors, for the ruling elite and, in the class warfare that is raging, as an agent of the plutocrats.
At one point Ali calls it only half ironic that a leading columnist for the Financial Times lists the most important events of 2009 as speeches by Obama. Ali cites Obama's Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech alluding to the "limits of reason"—as if our society has approached anything resembling reason, let alone scaling its limits.
Perhaps worst of all is Obama's economic team. Ali writes that as President Clinton's treasury secretary, Robert Rubin helmed the deregulation of Wall Street that culminated, in 1999, in the repeal of the Depression-era Glass Steagall Act. The Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act dissolved the barrier between commercial and investment banks and insurance companies, which were largely responsible for the economic collapse of 2008. Lawrence Summers, Timothy Geithner, Neal Wolin, and others instrumental in drafting the legislation, protégés of Rubin, were all appointed to top posts in the Obama regime. Rubin left the Treasury to pocket a cool $120 million at Citigroup and Wolin to the Hartford Insurance Company. Both corporations benefited from this revolving-door economic policy and were subsequently bailed out by U.S. taxpayers.
Speaking of Obama's mandate in January 2009 and the citizenry's disgust with eight years of the Bush regime, Ali writes, "If ever there was a moment for a set of measures [to be] enacted [to regulate the so-called free market] this was surely it, but U.S. politics had for many decades been based on the needs of corporate capitalism, with the government as a supportive, rather than a controlling, force. The economy was wedded to militarism and financialization."
Ali doesn't put all blame on Obama and offers a prescription for the terrible problems confronting us: "The lack of popular social movements in the United States enabled the elite to impose its own solutions, and these were, unsurprisingly, designed to boost the existing arrangements.... The lesson is an old one: without action from below, there will be no change above."
Tracy Phillip McLellan is an activist living in Chicago.
Z Magazine Archive
CUBAN 5 - From May 30 to June 5, supporters of the Cuban 5 will gather in Washington DC to raise awareness about the case and to demand a humanitarian solution that will allow the return of these men to their homeland.
Contact: email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org.
BIKES - Bikes Not Bombs is holding its 24th annual Bike- A-Thon and Green Roots Festival in Boston, MA on June 3, with several bike rides, music, exhibitors, and more.
Contact: Bikes Not Bombs, 284 Amory St., Jamaica Plain, MA 02130; 617-522-0222; mailbikesnotbombs.org; www.bikesnotbombs.org.
LEFT FORUM - The 2013 Left Forum will be held June 7-9, at Pace University in NYC.
Contact: 365 Fifth Avenue, CUNY Graduate Center, Sociology Dept., New York, NY 10016; http://www.leftforum.org/.
VEGAN FEST - Mad City Vegan Fest will be held in Madison, WI, June 8. The annual event features food, speakers, and exhibitors.
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ADC CONFERENCE - The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) holds its annual conference June 13-16 in Washington, DC, with panel discussions and workshops.
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CUBA/SOCIALISM - A Cuban-North American Dialog on Socialist Renewal and Global Capitalist Crisis will be held in Havana, Cuba, June 16-30. There will be a 5-day Seminar at the University of Havana, plus visits to a co-op and educational and medical institutions.
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NETROOTS - The 8th Annual Netroots Nation conference will take place June 20-23 in San Jose, CA. The event features panels, trainings, networking, screenings, and keynotes.
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MEDIA - The 15th annual Allied Media Conference will be held June 20-23, in Detroit.
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GRASSROOTS - The United We Stand Festival will be hosted by Free & Equal, June 22 in Little Rock, Arkansas. The festival aims to reform the electoral process in the U.S.
LITERACY - The National Association for Media Literacy Education (NAMLE) will hold its conference July 12-13 in Los Angeles.
Contact: 10 Laurel Hill Drive, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003; http://namle.net/conference/.
IWW - The North American Work People’s College will take place July 12-16 at Mesaba Co-op Park in northern Minnesota. The event will bring together Wobblies from across the continent to learn skills and build one big union.
PEACESTOCK - On July 13, the 11th Annual Peacestock will take place at Windbeam Farm in Hager City, WI. The event is a mixture of music, speakers, and community for peace. Sponsored by Veterans for Peace.
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LA RAZA - The annual National Council of La Raza (NCLR) Conference is scheduled for July 18-19 in New Orleans, with workshops, presentations, and panel discussions.
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ACTIVIST CAMP - Youth Empowered Action (YEA) Camp will have sessions in July and August in Ben Lomond, CA; Portland, OR; Charlton, MA. YEA Camp is designed for activists 12-17 years old who want to make a difference.
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