Tag 2008 U.S. Election

Noam Chomsky: What Next? The Elections, the Economy, and the World

Noam Chomsky discusses the meaning of President-Elect Barack Obama’s victory and the possibilities ahead for real democratic change at a speech last week in Boston.

So you think Obama’s going to change things?

Think again (think Tony Blair):

Tim Baldwin:

I shut my eyes when I listen to [Obama] and it could be Tony. He is doing the same thing that we did in 1997.

Matthew Parris:

Here we have a handsome, dashing and intelligent man, a man with generous instincts and a silver tongue; but a man with no distinctive plan for government that he has seen fit to share with us; a daring opportunist; somebody we may one day judge as a sort of Tony Blair with brains. And here we go again, all over again, hook, line and sinker.

Jon Snow:

Even after so many months of speech-making it’s still not clear what are the concrete changes that may now ensue and in particular, there are some big foreign policy areas where Obama is not promising a hugely different tack from Bush …

Tariq Ali:

As for what the policies are going to be, the situation is pretty depressing. I mean, Obama, during his campaign, didn’t promise very much, basically talked in cliches and synthetic slogans like “change we can believe in.” No one knows what that change is. In foreign policy terms, during the debates, his—what he said was basically a continuation of the Bush-Cheney policies. And in relation to Afghanistan, what he said was worse than McCain …

Ralph Nader:

He doesn’t like to take on power … I think his record in the state senate in Illinois and in the US Senate is that he doesn’t like to take on power. And if you don’t take on power, you know, the corporate power that dominates every department in our government, you’re going nowhere, because they control the budget, they control the priorities, they have heavy control on the media.

Jonathan Steele:

… his position contains massive inconsistencies … he has not repudiated the war on terror. Rather, he insists that by focusing excessively on Iraq, the Bush administration “took its eye off the ball”. The real target must be Afghanistan and if Osama bin Laden is spotted in Pakistan, bombing must be used there too.

John Pilger (who was right about Blair back in 1997):

Like all serious presidential candidates, past and present, Obama is a hawk and an expansionist. He comes from an unbroken Democratic tradition, as the war-making of presidents Truman, Kennedy, Johnson, Carter and Clinton demonstrates. Obama’s difference may be that he feels an even greater need to show how tough he is.

Michael Albert:

My guess is, sadly, that within one week, literally one week, Obama’s staff and cabinet choices will make decisively evident that without mass activism forcing new outcomes, change will stop at the surface. I fervently hope I am wrong.

Vice President-elect, Joe Biden, is a pro-war Zionist. Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff, helped push through NAFTA and favoured the war on Iraq. 

Alexander Cockburn on Rahm Emanuel:

He’s a former Israeli citizen, who volunteered to serve in Israel in 1991 and who made brisk millions in Wall Street. He is a super-Likudnik hawk, whose father was in the fascist Irgun in the late Forties, responsible for cold-blooded massacres of Palestinians.

Nader on Obama’s record:

Far more than Senator McCain, you have received enormous, unprecedented contributions from corporate interests, Wall Street interests and, most interestingly, big corporate law firm attorneys… Why, apart from your unconditional vote for the $700 billion Wall Street bailout, are these large corporate interests investing so much in Senator Obama? Could it be that in your state Senate record, your U.S. Senate record and your presidential campaign record (favoring nuclear power, coal plants, offshore oil drilling, corporate subsidies including the 1872 Mining Act and avoiding any comprehensive program to crack down on the corporate crime wave and the bloated, wasteful military budget, for example) you have shown that you are their man?

Obama: bought and paid for.

(thanks to Media Lens for this post)

Obama mania?

Michael Albert on the hope so many hold in Obama:

Some things are obvious.

Electing a first African American President is world historic.

The electorate bending toward sanity, eloquence, and dignity, rather than a death spiral into moronic depravity is positive, too, even if mostly because the alternative is a condition of abject horror.

Realignment of various voting sectors and undercutting market mania are very positive, too.

My guess is, sadly, that within one week, literally one week, Obama’s staff and cabinet choices will make decisively evident that without mass activism forcing new outcomes, change will stop at the surface. I hope I am wrong.

Relief, but no illusions

I harbour no illusions about the empty slogan “change we can believe in” but I can’t help feel a huge sense of relief that the right-wing (Democrats) of the Business Party have seized control off the far-right zealots (Republicans), in all three branches of U.S. government.

If you define democracy to be government by the people then the most generous thing you can say about the U.S., after two centuries, is that it is still a fledgling democracy. Even with a record turnout the Democrats and Obama were elected, roughly, with only 34% support of eligible voters.1 And this in a so-called representative democracy. It’s all light years away from participatory democracy, probably the only form of democracy truly worthy of the name.

There is no mass movement in the U.S. to push Obama and the Democrats for real social and economic change. The U.S. is still largely a country of the reactionaries controlled by fear, ignorance and big business propaganda. Garbage in, garbage out.

The biggest loser on the day: racism.

The biggest winner: Obama’s daughters, Sasha and Malia, who have been promised a puppy.

Update: Many reports describe the 65% turnout figure as that of “registered voters,” so the percentage of eligible voters in support of the Dems and Obama would be even less than 34%. I’ll post concrete numbers when I find them.

  1. Based on a pitiful but record turnout of 65% of eligible voters and a popular vote of 52% in favour of the Democrats and Obama. []

Noam Chomsky on 2008 U.S. election and U.S. democracy

Brilliant interview with Chomsky where he gets to the nub of things as usual.

People should vote against McCain and for Obama – but without illusions.

McCain team freaking out that al-Qaida wants McCain to win

Spencer Ackerman on a conference call held by the McCain campaign:

I just got off a conference call held by the McCain campaign to deny that Al Qaeda … is rooting for their man. To describe the call as panicked would be an understatement.

What was absent from the call, oddly enough, was any discussion about why Al Qaeda might want McCain to win. And there the case is simple enough. Al Qaeda prefers an indefinite U.S. occupation of Iraq and a bellicose U.S. all across the Muslim world to radicalize Muslims to its terrorist cause and drain the U.S. of its financial wealth — what Osama bin Laden calls his “bleed to bankruptcy” strategy. Hence, the reason why, as the CIA eventually concluded, Bin Laden tried to help George W. Bush’s reelection in 2004 by releasing a late-October tape. McCain pledges basic continuity with Bush on the Iraq war. As Scheunemann put it, “John McCain will spend what it takes to win.”


David Sedaris, on undecided voters (via Daring Fireball):

To put them in perspective, I think of being on an airplane. The flight attendant comes down the aisle with her food cart and, eventually, parks it beside my seat. “Can I interest you in the chicken?” she asks. “Or would you prefer the platter of shit with bits of broken glass in it?”

To be undecided in this election is to pause for a moment and then ask how the chicken is cooked.

The difficulty stealing U.S. election this time

Michael Collins on Scoop:

Election 2008 – The Difficulty Stealing It This Time