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.

Notes:
  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.”

Undecided

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