Monday, February 25, 2008

Spengler on Obama

Spengler at the Asia Times is uncharacteristically vituperative about Barack Obama. And we get a clue to the mysterious Spengler's real identity. He writes under an alias for the Asia Times

Spengler drops a hint about where he's been, who he knew.

The senior Obama died in a 1982 car crash. Kenyan government officials in those days normally spent their nights drinking themselves stupid at the Pan-Afrique Hotel. Two or three of them would be found with their Mercedes wrapped around a palm tree every morning. During the 1970s I came to know a number of them, mostly British-educated hollow men dying inside of their own hypocrisy and corruption.

I'll guess that Spengler once worked as a consultant for either an international aid agency or a multilateral financial institution. That's always an interesting but disillusioning experience.

Development aid to the Third World is largely a racket run for the benefit of "international staff" who revel in their quasi-diplomatic status amidst poverty so extreme they are as gods by comparison. The other major beneficiaries are the host country counterparts who shamelessly rip the development assistance off. Everybody knows and everyone plays along. It's a corrosive moral atmosphere in which hypocrisy is the principal virtue. In consequence people who work in International Development consist of two basic types. The first type is the cynical, devil-may-care consultant who never rises in the aid bureaucracy but is indispensible to getting anything done. They pointedly reject the trinkets of international bureaucracy and while young enough think they can change the system. But they always give up in the end. The second type is the anal careerist of the subcontinental sort who scrupulously claims every perk due him, from paid home leave to relocation and drapery expenses; and who is as soulless and dead as the carpet he walks upon. In contrast to the first type, they never give up, no matter what.

But living the life of the first type provides a great opportunity to absorb color. There's nothing like sitting in a home-made sauna, built by a mad Finn in the tropics to remind him of home, with the temperature turned up so high that the pitch is bubbling out of the pinewood and dripping on your hair. Then running out when you can stand no more and leaping into a swimming pool, much to the consternation of the local househelp, who can never quite get used to the antics of the mad foreigners. And then to stagger back to the bar and buddy up to a German consultant so drunk he is toasting to the Fuhrer's health and greets you as his favorite untermensch.

And then to go out into Third World night and watch the children asleep on the street unaware that the angels who are meant to guard them are forever barred from their simple dreams.

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Blogger Whiskey said...

I think Obama's resentment of America is becoming more obvious. And perhaps if McCain is savvy, will become a 50-state loser or so.

It would be good to see an epic wipeout of Obama AND Democrats in a reverse-coattail situation, if only to remind Dems that picking a "hate America" man is dangerous for their own fates.

It can all be boiled down to one commercial: McCain -- loved America so much he underwent torture on her behalf; Obama hates it so much Farrakhan endorses him and he won't say the Pledge of Allegiance (picture of Obama slumping down).

2/25/2008 01:10:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Wretchard, back when you were undercover, I wondered if you and Spengler weren't one & the same. W for the optimism, S for the dirge. Or W for the base, S for the acid.

2/25/2008 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Wretchard, back when you were undercover, I wondered if you and Spengler weren't one & the same.

No. I've often wondered who he was. The clues have narrowed things somewhat. But I will respect his anonymity.

And in this case I was surprised by his vehemence because it is not supported by the logic of his argument. That is unusual for the anonymous Spengler. He is often biting, but he usually gives a reason. Here his bite gnashes. Why?

2/25/2008 01:46:00 PM  
Blogger hdgreene said...

Sorry, this is off topic.

I'm working on a novel and I posted the start at

It's only one page long but it's a mighty long page. If any one reads it let me know where you stop. I'm might turn it into a short story.

You'll have to go way down to the bottom to find comments.

2/25/2008 01:52:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...


" this case I was surprised by his vehemence because it is not supported by the logic of his argument. That is unusual for the anonymous Spengler. He is often biting, but he usually gives a reason. Here his bite gnashes. Why?"

Looks like he lived in Africa for a while. White Africans tend to be pretty mellow about black people or foaming at the mouth racists (either extreme but almost never in between). Maybe Spengler has racism issues?

2/25/2008 02:03:00 PM  
Blogger Kirk Parker said...


Nah, I don't think Wretchard can do curmudgeon anywhere near the same league as Spengler does. (The latter sometimes, as in the Obama article cited here, makes Michael Maren sound like the Mother of All Pollyannas.)

2/25/2008 02:06:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

I think you and Spengler are both cynical geniuses. His piece and your comments are eye-opening to say the least -- on many subjects. His economic analysis is very interesting. I was surprised by his reference to Megan McArdle. I always pictured him sipping drinks at a bar in Mumbai, something like the one in Star Wars. The Internet shrinks the world. He could be in Connecticut.

I hope he's wrong about Obama, because I'm not sure anything will keep him from being elected. Clinton's apparently sincere confession about "being honored" was distressing to me. Is she under the spell? Any of the other leading Democrats who were running, were probably more capable, more well-defined and more centrist than Obama. Obama's vaunted web-site is pretty thin soup as well, and I really don't believe it.

2/25/2008 02:15:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Hillary's campaign is running a picture of Obama dressed in Muslim garb in Somalia with Somali elders.

If these guys are part of the Islamic Courts Union and/or BlackHawk Down, stick a fork in Obama. He's done.

So Hillary is not going gently into that good night. She'll take down Obama and possibly lots of Blue Dogs too, to make her point that Dems should fall in line, not in love (with the latest fling). Don't mess with the Smartest Woman in the World(tm).

As for Spengler my impression is that he is not a racist, rather his time in Africa led him to negative conclusions of the failure of most Africans. That of tribalism and worship of tribe over what he believes is the transformative power of Western Civilization: nationalism married with Christianity in a "notional" American-style rather than "Blud und Boden" German style of Westernization.

No one can look at say, Zimbabwe where three times as many people starve to death a week (as died at the height of violence in Iraq) and argue that Africa does not represent a massive failure on all social levels.

His dislike of the corrupt and drunken men of ability, unable to escape tribalism in Kenya, is telling.

2/25/2008 02:33:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I just read Spengler's article earlier today. I picked up the link to it at the American Thinker site.

Prior to reading this article, a couple of days ago I read this one,

where one gets a real flavor for what kind of woman she is. And it drops hints of her character. Between that article and what Spengler has written, one has to ask the question: from whence does her rage and nastiness come? If she was at Princeton during the mid eighties, I cannot imagine it being a place where black students would be ridiculed or even rudely treated. That would not square with my experience of how I observed minority students being treated during my undergraduate days (1977-82)where I went to school. And during my days as a graduate student during the mid-eighties. One cannot imagine faculty treating her in an undignified manner as well. Of course, the world being what it is, there are going to be the occasional boorish cretins. Look, when I was in the Army before I went to college I encountered a few black soldiers who treated me very poorly because I was white. That did not make me a bitter person, or to generalize all black Americans as being racists.

So, what does this say about either the quality of her mind or the kind of upbringing she received? We all endure insults to our dignity in this life. Because I am of French-Canadian ancestry, I've heard my share of insults directed at my ancestors (they were called "the niggers of the North"), but this had no effect on how I regard myself as an American or the dignity of my ancestors.

There has to be something deeply petty and mean about both Michelle Obama and Stanley Ann Dunham to nurture the kind of hatred they indulged in.

What worries me is this: How do we find a way to expose and explain these very significant facts about the influences in his emotional-intellectual configuration without being taken to task for the usual labels that the Left would assign to his critics? I do not have any personal hatred of the man, and I do not wish to see him dragged through the mud in a very personal way. I just don't like his ideas and what he stands for. I think it would result in a period of crisis and disaster for this country. I know we can recover from it, but how much damage that does occur is going to be up to how America's enemies exploit this window of opportunity that Obama and his policy people give them.

2/25/2008 02:40:00 PM  
Blogger shivermetimbers said...


"It can all be boiled down to one commercial: McCain -- loved America so much he underwent torture on her behalf; Obama hates it so much Farrakhan endorses him and he won't say the Pledge of Allegiance (picture of Obama slumping down)."

This is fabulous :-)

I would also throw in a few clips of Mrs. Obama for emphasis as well.

But, I think Obama is pretty slick. Right now he is just playing his base to beat Hillary, and his base have no problem with a 'Hate-America' message.

Would he change this effectively during the election?

On Hugh Hewitt's web site, he discusses that Obama is using his Senate office to limit McCain's spending to $9 million between now and the convention.

It looks like he is thinking through various angles in winning dirty. He was also the one who had his opponent for the Senate's divorce papers unsealed, which helped him win.

2/25/2008 02:41:00 PM  
Blogger Hope Muntz said...

'Spengler' is almost certainly a pseudonym of longtime fringe Asia correspondent Sol Sanders. They share many of the same obsessions, sentence constructions, and careless typing habits ("malice of forethought"), some of which look to me like they were phoned in to a non-American typist. The two also share just about the same accuracy rate in prophesying--that is to say less than 20%. However one may admire his/their personal knowledge of the continent, acerbic style(s), and cynical assertions, both are less reliable than Debka, which is saying something.

As for the Obama piece: so what? The point about Michelle's obvious initial anger and unhappiness is valid--she has the look and sound of a perpectually cheated-on wife suddenly given a platform--but comparing Obama's mother to the founder of the 'Shining path' is just plain weird. And Sukarno, the man who slaughered half a million (largely Chinese) communists could hardly be termed a 'leftist'. Spengler's loony isolation from the reality of American life allows him to overlook the far scarier ties that Obama has to corrupt urban black groups like the Nation of islam, ties that continue on with some of his longtime staffers. Now, there's a story. But Spengler is in no position to write it.

2/25/2008 02:56:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

I do not have any personal hatred of the man, and I do not wish to see him dragged through the mud in a very personal way.

I think this comes close to the real problem. The race issue is so poisonous that I'm not sure how many people can really say why they're saying this or that about Barack Obama. Even those who are making a conscious effort to expunge racism from their minds may be tainted by it. I would not discount envy either. Barack Obama is a man so talented that it's tempting to ascribe some kind of deficiency in character to him to make one feel better about oneself.

But all the same there are real issues with his candidacy. But I don't think they stem from Barack Obama the man. I believe they arise mostly from the terrible needs and guilts which are somehow channeled in his person. This is the flipside argument to those who claim he is 'healing' American society. That may be, but any such healing will first drag us through the shadow of the valley of shame.

As regards Spengler, my own hypothesis is that he understood all too well how the guilt game was played by the elites of the Third World. He's too burned to be took. And rightly or wrongly, he warns against being suckered by it. My experience is that such warnings fall on deaf ears.

The guilt game works not because people need absolution but because they need to flaunt their superiority. The smartest of the Third World huckersters understand this essential fact and make the most of it: White Guilt is not an appeal to decency but to vanity.

Recently Australian Prime Minster Kevin Rudd sponsored a showy ceremony saying "sorry" for the historical wrongs done to the Aborigines. Then he promptly reaffirmed the system of reservations that has kept them in bondage for so long. Such "sorrys" are useless. They are really more about the need to feel good about themselves than to treat other people as equals. And that's why forgiveness begged of this sort is never granted. It is really never about them. Only about us.

2/25/2008 02:57:00 PM  
Blogger dla said...

Hillary has released the flying monkeys.

Obama is still untouchable. Republicans aren't going to like him more because he dressed as a traditional Somali - but then why would any self-respecting Republican like Obama? Democrats certainly aren't going to sour on Obama because of a Somali wardrobe - can that be worse than Barney Frank or Ted Kenedy?

Hillary wants those ruby slippers.

2/25/2008 03:31:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...


The problem now is that our educational and media institutions have set up the parameters of discourse in such a way as to pre-empt any criticism of ideas, policies, or records of a candidate like Obama as being "racist." Yet, why are not his legions of supporters in the middle muddle who vote for him because of his race not called "racist?" Because they surely are, and I think it is disrespectful towards black Americans in fending off critical discourse because of the perversions of political correctness/multiculturalism.

The first step in respecting Obama the man is to take on what he believes in and what his policies would be. And if he will not reveal these things on his own, we have the right to insist on it and to pry into the layers of his development as a thinking human being.

Stealth candidates are completely unacceptable. A candidate who cultivates this kind of stealth is not beyond our reasonable suspicions.

It's the middle muddle that worries me even more than Obama. Their credulousness indicates how far our education system has fallen, and the far-reaching consequences.

2/25/2008 04:05:00 PM  
Blogger Peter Grynch said...

Actually McCain's campaign ad writes itself:

"Mr McCain, where do you stand on the issues?"

McCain: "The best way to explain my positions is to contrast them with my honorable opponent. One of us stands for losing the War in Iraq, raising taxes, and growing the size of Big Government. I stand opposed to all of those. Oh... and My wife has ALWAYS been proud of America!"

2/25/2008 04:22:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Fred what is interesting is that first, Obama is the choice of the hype generation. Obama girl of course did not bother to vote for him. That's something boring middle class mothers and fathers do. She did however sway around in a video. Which was the point. Same with Scarlett Johannson. It's social status among wealthy white yuppies.

Secondly, Rasmussen has poll results for definitely vote FOR and AGAINST. McCain has least amount of vote AGAINST (33%) while Hillary has 46% AGAINST and Obama 43% AGAINST.

As Obama becomes the nominee expect that to rise. Unlike McCain who has scandals "discounted" because he's been around a long time and has the "maverick" image, Obama besides hype has nothing.

Like Lindsay Lohan, Britney, etc. he can go from pop obsession to has-been object of ridicule in a heart beat. He has built no electoral coalition, no effort to get homeowners, or married couples, or the like who make up the vast majority of the voting public. As such he's extremely vulnerable to being depicted as Farrakhan Lite.

Which I fully expect.

Look at what happened to Bill Clinton's political skills after 8 years of social isolation in the White House followed by 8 years of Davos-ification. Obama if anything is worse than that. Anyone can attract Hollywood's "kaballah" of the moment. Building winning electoral coalitions is hard, sustained, thoughtful work.

Who is Obama's Rove, Carville-Begala, his Atwater?

2/25/2008 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger WLUEDU said...

I think that Ms Obama's thesis at Princeton can be explained on more simple terms than that she is race-obsessed. It's this: the topic provides it's own defense against academic judging. It removes any sense of anonymity from the author, self-identifies the author as "wounded" by the Princeton experience, and then makes the claim that the Princeton experience is "wounding", based on her race. It becomes an exercise in politically-correct tautology. It guarantees a passing grade. Whole academic departments now openly embrace this style of writing, calling it "authentic".

2/25/2008 04:27:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Wrethchard and others above are right -- the only thing in the world that can make racism look good is that ignorant and sanctimonious reverse-racism that by comparison gives regular old off-the-shelf racism at least the virtue of honesty.

2/25/2008 04:37:00 PM  
Blogger wretchardthecat said...

Obama besides hype has nothing.

True but not true. True in the sense he has no voting record or administrative experience. Untrue in that he has shown a remarkable instinct for finding his advantage. A lot of guys from his Alinsky days would have been stuck in the "community organizing", outsider groove. That was Ralph Nader's mistake and why Nader will never amount to anything.

But Obama knew how to get inside from Day One. Farrkahan. Rezko. Daley. Soros. Kerry. Kennedy. AIPAC. Look at how he went after the Latinos, how he's gotten the Hoffa imprimatur. He knows how to find the right buttons to push and is not inhibited in pushing them.

A lot of less talented politicians -- Nader comes to mind -- wouldn't touch those guys out of a kind of scrupulousness. Obama has no such scruples. He'll bridge to anyone. He says so up front, just like he said he did dope. He'll go right up to Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong Il, probably Osama himself if Bin Laden were still alive and consented to meet.

He'll go up to anyone because at the center of everything is Obama. Don't think I'm criticizing him. That's his genius. He makes his own rules. Like Napoleon or Nelson he is beyond the Fighting Instructions. Lesser mortals are constrained by convention. He's beyond convention. And his freedom, I think, stems at one level from a persona which only comes alive when it is on the public stage. Read Spengler carefully. Obama the private man is smaller than Obama the Man of Destiny. But Obama the Man of Destiny is an emergent phenomenon larger than the man himself.

Therefore I don't think it is a safe bet to write him off as a Milli Vanilli nonentity. Obama is at least an order of magnitude a better politician than Hillary Clinton.

McCain shouldn't make the mistake Darius made at Gaugamela. Just because you should win doesn't mean you will win. Against talent nothing is certain. Obama is dangerous in that he can seize the opportunities in the shift of a position.

However he's not invincible. He's safe only while he shifts and moves. But that was Napoleon's strength too; and Obama shifts well and to a plan. He's inventing himself as he goes along. By the time Hillary opened up on his ethnic and Muslim past he had already established himself as a sober, AIPAC-approved politician with Kennedy and Kerry support. Hillary's fires landed on a vacated lot. Two months ago people might have cared about Obama in a Muslim outfit. Now it's too late. He's grown.

Hillary's problem was that she thought she could control the tempo of events. But she was wrong. He got inside her ponderous loop. And I don't mean by rhetoric; Obama out-dealt her politically.

I wonder if McCain the ex-attack pilot has the "fangs out" fire needed to match Obama? We'll soon find out.

2/25/2008 04:55:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I hate to keep agreeing with the boss, but he's right -- if Obama was 'nothing', or an 'empty suit' or a 'lightweight' he would not currently be bulldozing that gigantic chrome-plated Clinton machine into the nearby drainage ditch.

Sure, it's all because of his uncritical fans -- but they are, y'know, "voters".

IOW, it is what it is.

2/25/2008 05:15:00 PM  
Blogger desert rat said...

Break it down, State by State.
The race hinges upon PA.

Conservative Democrats that will not support a Black man.

Governor Ed Rendell says that accounted for 5% of his advantage over Lynn Swann. GWBush lost PA by 2.5% to JFKerry.

There stands the election, in the winner take all Electoral College.

2/25/2008 05:36:00 PM  
Blogger Fred said...

I find I do not share Spengler's views about the economic future of the country. He has some decent grasp of what is happening now, in terms of the business cycle. He seems to understand that the Reagan tax cuts were dramatic and eventually had dramatic effects on job creation and wealth creation, that going forward we are not going to get quite that kind of kicker to jump start the economy. But not all down phases of the business cycle are ended by a drug that gets an adrenaline rush.

Stocks have underperformed because for a while they outperformed. The money flowed out of equities and into real estate, eventually creating a bubble of over valuation that naturally must correct.

What is really holding everything back right now, across the world of free markets, is energy prices. OPEC actually is trying to add to supply, and there seems to be some record of this being in evidence. What seems to be frantically trying to negate that are the moves that Russia and Venezuela are making to restrict output and supply. Nigeria is a separate case; it's situation owing to the Muslim rebels constantly threatening the oil platforms and workers.

Energy costs are holding back commerce and causing discretionary spending to shrink.

Nothing I hear from Obama (what little he's said)and, more importantly his ideological end of the spectrum, indicates an appreciation of the fact that you have to expand the supply of energy in all its forms to blunt what Russia and Venezuela are trying to do.

Economic and foreign policy are glaring weaknesses of Barack Obama. Yeah, he may try to dance away from it, but he can be pinned down and exposed there. Spengler is right to say, indirectly, that a large segment of American society is looking for a handout, but that is only part of the picture. There are plenty of people who are educated and sophisticated enough to know that conjuring up more government programs and teats will not solve the problem and will only make things worse.

He may be elusive and in motion, but he has to stand at fight for what he believes in at some point.

2/25/2008 05:38:00 PM  
Blogger joe buz said...

Main Entry:
\vī-ˈtü-p(ə-)rə-tiv, -pə-ˌrā-\

: uttering or given to censure : containing or characterized by verbal abuse

This Appalachian American had to consult Webster on that one...
The article left me wondering about ol Spengy's Ma, Pa and most likely ex-wife.
Ms. O does concern me a bit though as her disdain appears and sounds quite genuine.

2/25/2008 05:46:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Wretchard -- how many Presidential elections did Alinsky win? A Farrakhan and a Kennedy and a Kerry and a Hoffa lose the white guy electorate. Blue Collar White men at 25% still make up the largest portion of the electorate. Alinsky might be useful for getting elected on the South Side and jiggering things to face Alan Keyes (by unsealing Ryan's unsavory divorce records). But that won't help against attacks on the very NATURE of Obama's nothingness but OBAMA.

Working class white guys, particularly UNION guys look at him with suspicion. Hoffa can endorse him, but what does that have to do with the voting booth? Where blue collar Michigan deer hunters understand that Obama both wants to take their rifles and replace them on the job with a Black or Latino. Racial spoils politics and Affirmative Action, Open Borders, "si se puede" cuts both ways. Ask Governor Cruz Bustamante.

The more the man of Destiny is embraced by Farrakhan and a wave of Red Flags and Spanish, the more Blue Collar and Middle Class whites will reject him. He's already at 43% vote against and that's before ANY McCain negative ads. Or put it this way -- in about six months Obama has achieved the negatives that took Hillary 16 years to achieve. [That leaked Drudge pic was GENIUS! Obama today became "Muslim" for millions of Drudge viewers this AM. His denials and anger only made it worse. GENIUS.]

Obama HAS NEVER RUN AGAINST REPUBLICANS NATIONALLY. He's never run for the "center." He's never run against Republicans for the White Vote. That 75% of the electorate. He's never run where gun rights, dislike of Muslim terrorists, etc. is important. He's never run in the South, West, or NE against Republicans. Heck in NYC, liberal whites elect REPUBLICANS because Dinkins made Black mayors unthinkable for generations. He won a total of ONE election courtesy of the Daley Machine in IL against Alan Keyes.

Put it this way -- it's a sign of tremendous weakness for BOTH Obama and the Dem Party that his obvious disdain for the Flag he expresses constantly AND his fondness for radical politics (Che flags, Ayers/Dorn, Farrakhan, Wright, dressing up like Somali Muslim elder) is not only a deal-breaker but something that's winning in his party.

Hillary knows what she's doing. She's not going to win the nomination. But she can do much of McCain's work for him, paint Obama as essentially pals with Osama and Ahmadnutjob and Louis Farrakhan and theres not a THING Obama can do about it. Because he's not insulated by a long pedigree of action in the public eye. His endorsements by Kerry and Kennedy and Hoffa only cement that image. They're a huge turn-off to most middle class voters.

White middle class homeowners can see their home values plunge even further, and lives become miserable, as Obama's Farrakhan Lite attitudes exact a soft on crime image. And that's just one huge pocketbook issue.

Obama's success is more a huge WEAKNESS in the Dem Party coalition. Hillary can argue after Obama drags down the blue dogs to defeat and Congress flips to Reps (or comes close) that the Dems need to triangulate again for 2012 and fall in line. Not in love.

If Joe Average is in the voting booth, how does Obama defend against charges that he loves "Muslims more than the Flag," that he's Farrakhan Lite, that he's culturally one of Joe Average not his eternal class enemy: wealthy white yuppies at Starbucks or the "cool" and "hip" minority grievance candidate?

He's not running against Hillary anymore. But McCain and Reps. Nationally. Believe that Farrakhan and Muslim pic will run all over the place. Obama lacks a long centrist record to insulate from that attack.

2/25/2008 06:35:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Or to sum up -- I don't think Obama is that skilled or smart.

That photo -- avoidable and signals to middle America he's a radical. Ayers, Dorn, Gun Control, Muslim Summit, Farrakhan, his wife's outbursts, etc. All rookie mistakes a guy who's never won the white centrist vote would make.

Thinking he's still in Wicker Park. He's not in Wicker Park.

[If he wanted to win he'd meet with NRA and support them against DC's Heller gun ban. Man believes his own hype.]

2/25/2008 06:37:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...

I reject the notion that middle american whites won't vote for a black man -- or, rather, that they won't against him merely because he happens to be black. They might however vote against him because he is the "black" (i.e. "community") candidate, rationally, not out of racism.

Obama gets to have it both ways to a great extent, not overtly pushing himself as the "black" man -- while knowing full well that that is a great part of his appeal in the thinking of more educated and liberal whites who want to prove their own enlightenment (or are too unsure of their own values to risk being perceived as making a racial vote -- I'm sure a cause for part of the early polling goofs, not denied racism).

Hell, *I'd* love to vote for a good black candidate -- it really would end a lot of residual racial crap in this country, but I'd want to vote for someone like President Palmer on "24" ;)

As to women, I'd vote for a Margaret Thatcher in a heartbeat.

Speaking of Obama's women, part of Michelle's chip on her shoulder might be base don what I have seen elsewhere with genuinely talented, intelligent, successful blacks: they often resent that their abilities are in constant, though never spoke, doubt. However, they blame the racism of whites, when in fact its is the only rational response to affirmative action policies which inevitably undermine confidence in black achievements because AA ultimately involves selectively lowering standards. Of course the abilties are questiong - that's the whole basis, the whole point of AA.

2/25/2008 07:37:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Newscaper --

"Hell, *I'd* love to vote for a good black candidate -- it really would end a lot of residual racial crap in this country, but I'd want to vote for someone like President Palmer on "24" ;)"

No it would not. That's magical thinking. Blacks fear White absorption as Michelle Obama wrote in her thesis. They also demand special privileges and want excuses and scapegoats for choices made. The Black Urban community is violently disfunctional, gang-ridden, single mother dominated, with most young men violent gang members. Education is "white" and so is working hard, delayed gratification, getting married, etc.

Obama being President would not change that one bit. Racial strife is DIRECTLY caused by BLACK SEPARATISM. It will NEVER END.

Moreover, OF COURSE WHITES WON'T VOTE FOR BLACKS WHEN THEY ARE THE "BLACK" CANDIDATE. That's the other edge of the Identity politics sword. Guys like Wellington Webb in Denver, Tom Bradley in LA, etc. could get elected but they HAD to reassure white voters they were not racialists. They had to explicitly position themselves that way. As Michelle Obama noted.

Did Bradley get elected Governor? No. Because statewide, whites concluded he was a "racialist." Same btw for Cruz Bustamante in the Recall circus. Dinkins made NYC a Republican Mayoralty for Rudy and Bloomberg. Harold Washington made CHICAGO a White Mayoralty. Farrakhan is the kiss of death for Obama, unless he moves (and he won't) to promise to put the guy in jail. Only that will make Whites comfortable with him.

And that's the way Identity Politics cuts. Live by it, die by it.

Your needs are "ending racial strife" but that's not the need of the hard-pressed blue collar worker threatened on one end by outsourcing and global trade and the other by "diversity" which is aimed at dumping him from his job and being replaced by a minority.

Obama's political skills are all aimed at Wicker Park wealthy liberals who dream of "ending racial strife" by "apologizing" by "voting for the black guy." Or South Side Chicago Farrakhan politics. He's never had to reach blue collar white workers in large numbers, nor nervous white homeowners worried about Black Crime spilling over to THEIR neighborhood.

WHEN not if the 527 Orgs start defining him as Farrakhan's pal, as Muslim-friendly, as anti-Flag/anti-American, as gun grabber, etc. ... Obama has no skill set, experience, etc. to fall back on. His every instinct is to move HARDER LEFT which cements the 527 imagery.

Millions saw Obama on Drudge today dressing as a Somali Muslim. What's his response? More racial politics.

2/25/2008 08:14:00 PM  
Blogger Whiskey said...

Or put it this way.

Obama comes off like Donovan McNabb's press conference complaining that as a "black Quarterback" he gets more criticism than white Quarterbacks.

Reporters laughed at the Press conference. They called out Grossman! (Rex Grossman of the Chicago Bears) and Eli! (Eli Manning of the Giants).

2/25/2008 08:16:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

For a little Obama schadenfreude: Cartoon for Tuesday, February 26, 2008. Joe B, look that up in your Funk and Wagnel's.

And, OT, Report: Widow of slain Hezbollah terrorist blames Syria for killing. Who knew Muggsy was married?

2/25/2008 08:29:00 PM  
Blogger newscaper said...


Are you partly barking up the wrong tree? I'm not happy with Obama for many of the same reasons you stated, hence my notion that the *right* black president (one who truly happened-to-be-black -- rather than "I'm not 'black'"*wink*) would be a good thing -- no, not magically fixing everything, but taking away a lot of excuses would be healthier all around.

2/25/2008 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Just read Spengler's article. He's a European, or someone educated in those precincts.

Why a Eurp? because he has no understanding of America at all. And loathes us as much as he claims Obama does. His description of Americans as a bunch of people who fled their old countries out of hatred and resentment, actuated largely by religious fervor or greed, is an account that has no understanding of the potency of American idealism, Enlightenment values, the love of liberty, or even our love for the land we live on. He takes our flaws for the whole of us, and, like most Euros, values us only as the world's policeman, nanny, and cash register.

And he seems to think that your nation has to have been in business for a thousand years before it has a history worth cherishing. Not so.

A pox on him.

He might be right about the Obamas, though.

2/25/2008 10:27:00 PM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Beverly said:

"Just read Spengler's article. He's a European, or someone educated in those precincts."

I suggest reading all of Spengler's articles. He's quite erudite and has an amusing style of writing. His knowledge of 19th century American history is better than most Americans (that doesn't say much). My experience with Europeans is when they do have an interest in history they tend to study their own.

The theory that Spengler is Sol Sanders is interesting. Sol Sanders is a member of the Committee on the Present Danger and associates with some fairly powerful people. However if one reads articles published under Sanders' name and then reads Spengler, there does appear to be a difference in style (Spengler seems to be a better writer).

I hope Spengler's true identity is not revealed. He's more interesting as the mysterious expatriate intellectual.

2/25/2008 11:49:00 PM  
Blogger someone said...

"Why a Eurp? because he has no understanding of America at all."

Well, maybe a touch more than that, but he certainly misses the nuances of the American polity. He doesn't live here, and it shows.

But then again, our esteemed host has that foreigner's problem too. As I recall, he was writing epitaphs for Iraq after November 2006.

2/26/2008 01:04:00 AM  
Blogger Jimmy said...

zWow, this is the best thread you've had going in a while. Very interesting stuff. Two quick points on two issues discussed:

1. Development work. Wretchard, your take on the sector is, if harsh, pretty accurate. I live it now. To your scene, add another layer: picture a generous helping of late-20 something, elitist first-worlders with their Masters in International Development, all hanging out exclusively with each other, sleeping with each other and doing (soft) drugs on binge weekends.

You think the 45-year old consultant drinking at the expat bar is cynical? Try the 28-year old "Program Manager" drinking at the local chop bar complaining that the WIFI sucks. At least the former had to develop the trait after many years of anguish. The younger face of aid work comes ready-made with a Nihilism that must be seen to be believed.

2. Obama's race as an electability issue: It has been said by many pundits wiser than I, that the first black president will be a conservative with a capital C.

He must be, to an extreme, an all-American boy, deeply religious, an perhaps most importantly, with a spouse right out of the 50's.

Any hint of less than full patriotism (i.e. "I don't wear the flag pin because I AM a patriot" and gushing love for America (in simple words and without caveat) will not work.

Any woldview that doesn't, at every step, unabashedly promote our interests first and foremost (a luxury that apparently every country in the world that exists or has ever existed, can afford except us) is doomed.

Any family background that doesn't include an Apple-pie mom instead of a thrice married third-world aficionado, is toast.

In effect, the Collin Powel model will be the next black president, and maybe the next two or three for that matter. 12% of the population, regardless of their larger impact on American society, must face that basic fact.

2/26/2008 02:12:00 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...


now that i have read this article ALL has clarified...

Things that were bugging me are put into focus...

Man was that spot on...

This democrat will support ANYONE but Obama.....

2/26/2008 06:09:00 AM  
Blogger TmjUtah said...

I believe that Spengler may well have cut hist teeth in the pioneering days of the the NGO's.

You had to be an idealist to pursue that kind of work back in the early days - say beginning in the sixties, But only the willfully naive could keep up the good fight without become fatally cynical and jaded or merely latching onto their spot at the trough.

My impression is that Spengler became a kind of Herodotus for his slice of cultural history. His historical background appears encyclopedic. His grasp of contemporary issues and personalities is impressive. His writing is simply fantastic; I never merely scan his work.

Maybe... just maybe he started out intimately involved with Great Works, only to watch them whither away under the weight of weak, dishonest men and an institutional commitment to failure; watched them not even die, really, but translate into some immortal, zombie-like entity that sucks the treasure from rich countries and the life from poor ones.

He'd learn to recognize the masters of the trade. And he'd see the victims cheering their own executioner, too. Here we are in 2008 in America, and our choices, by free and fair election, for the presidential election, are boiled down to Obama, McCain, and Hillary!?

I think Spengler might be displaying a bit of righteous indignation here. You can only warn people not to play their electric guitars in the bathtub just so many times...

Hell, I'm just a high school graduate taking time off to do some remodeling and home repair, and I'M embarrassed by what has floated to the top of the primary process.

For the record: I think that the Dems are heading for a brokered convention... and a blow out loss afterward.

The Clintons will leave the party a bigger wreck than they found it.

2/26/2008 08:14:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Well, WiO, that leaves you with the other candidate, and her demonstrated Palestinian-radical sympathies. Maybe your inner-GOP is coming out?

2/26/2008 08:21:00 AM  
Blogger eggplant said...

Fred said:

"What is really holding everything back right now, across the world of free markets, is energy prices. OPEC actually is trying to add to supply, and there seems to be some record of this being in evidence. What seems to be frantically trying to negate that are the moves that Russia and Venezuela are making to restrict output and supply."

I urge Belmont Club members to give the The Oil Drum a look. It was Wretchard who first touted me onto that website. The Oil Drum addresses the various aspects of "Peak Oil". The basic concept behind Peak Oil is simple:

It requires energy to pump petroleum out of the ground, refine it and ship it to the consumer. When the energy required to process a quantity of petroleum is greater than the petroleum's energy content then the petroleum will remain in ground despite there being an economic need for it.

Some of the concepts behind Peak Oil are nonintuitive. For example, there maybe more petroleum in the ground of the continential United States than has previously been extracted. However that oil is either so deep, dispersed or fractionated that it has no economic value.

One often reads about some new super huge oil deposit discovered deep under the ocean that will supposably be a new source of petroleum wealth. However what one does not read is this new oil deposit maybe so deep that it is uneconomical to extract. Supposably very ordinary substances like rock salt take on a totally different character when under enormous pressure, e.g. rock salt becomes a viscous fluid. Rock salt around an oil well can sometimes make the petroleum unextractable because the well becomes self sealing.

One can learn lots of interesting stuff at the Oil Drum. I should add that some fairly extreme loons, doomers and moonbats post comments on the Oil Drum (the comment quality is very mixed). As always, one must skip over the nonsense when searching for pearls of wisdom.

2/26/2008 08:52:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Haven't posted here in a bit but Spengler's piece is so lame. Disappointed that Wretchard would pass it on (even if he's not exactly endorsing it.) OBama's worldview is his own. It's NOT that of his wmother or his wife. And there's nothing strange about a variances here. I love and respect my mother and my wife. Doesn't mean I see the world through their eyes. Obama ends his last book with (after a invoking a jog past the Licn Memorial) witt the following line: "My heart is full of love for this country." No damn reason to take Spengler's word over O's - Decline of West? Give me a break - Eclipse of Reason is more like it!

Here's comment on where we're at. (Adn btw - America is looking pretty damn good right now - we could have an election between 2 pols with IMAGINATIONS - McCain has a head on his shoulder two. Forget Spenger!!!!!!!!!!

By Benj DeMott
“They’re like a cult!” exclaimed a Clinton supporter working the crowd outside Zabars. She may have been looking my way because my little boy had an Obama button on. I felt a bit silly about that but his mama is from Africa and she’s rooting hard for her homeboy. (Not to say I’m not!) While the Clintonista’s jibe didn’t really get under my skin, I had a harder time handling Adolph Reed’s hard line on Obama. Convinced that Obama’s just another neo-liberal pol with a For Sale sign around his neck, Reed goofed on me: “You’ve been drinking that ‘Hope’ Koolaid.” But he wasn’t smiling. He’s expressed his disdain for both Obama and Clinton(s) last fall in his piece “Sitting This One Out (See:”)

Obama’s slogan “Stand For Change,” is a non-starter for Reed who’s been working to build a Labor Party in America for over a decade. From where he’s sitting, the Obama campaign seems unlikely to nurture the kinds of class-consciousness needed to transform this country. I doubt I can convince Reed to walk with Obama, but I recently came across a transcript of a video commentary by a Law Professor named Lawrence Lessig (See: that might speak to other non-believers. I’ve excerpted a portion of it below and then added on some material drawn from Obama’s own statements and writings, from a declaration of the Industrial Areas Foundation (which helped shape Obama's world-view), and from a recent Washington Post article by Charles Peters. While my name is on this piece of web-work, I’m functioning more as an assembler than author.

Let’s get back to Hillary’s fans. They treat her polarizing public persona as a virtue, her “negatives” mutate into positives since a Democrat will need “sharp elbows” to beat the Republicans next fall. Clarity about the limits of civility in politics is all good. If a fight’s coming, roll up on it. But Clintons put a mean, trivializing spin on political conflict. It’s all about them and they tend to cut corners with the truth. Not to put too fine a point on it, the Clintons have lied on Obama. Lessig explicitly connects their tactics in this campaign with Karl Rove’s. Making his case for Obama, Lessig looks back…

When I think about the worst in politics in the last fifteen years there are two features that stand out for me. One is the lack of moral courage of candidates and presidents like Bill Clinton, and second, a lack of political decency, in particular around the elections that got this man (Bush) into office orchestrated by this extraordinary figure, Karl Rove. Think about Karl Rove's tactics in South Carolina, where he made racial suggestions through push-polling that drove many Republicans away from John McCain, probably costing McCain the election. Suggestions that were false and were extraordinarily unfair and that were made for the purpose of defeating the opponent.

Or think about the swiftboating of John Kerry, by trashing his strongest feature — the fact that he alone of all the candidates had voluntarily gone to war to defend his country in an unpopular war, while the President and the Vice-President found ways to escape that war. What Rove did was to find a way to take this strong feature of Kerry’s campaign and target it by suggesting false or misleading facts about his service in Vietnam, assaulting Kerry’s character: that’s swiftboating.

I remember watching these things happen and thinking to myself “How in America can these sort of techniques win?” Yet the worst thing in this current campaign, has been watching this kind of Rovian Republicanism become acceptable to Democrats. Think for example about the issues around the war: Hillary Clinton and Bill Clinton have launched an attack on Barack Obama, claiming he has been “inconsistent” about the war. Here's what she said in one of the debates:

It was after having given that speech, by the next year the speech was off your website. By the next year, you were telling reporters that you agreed with the president in his conduct of the war. And by the next year, when you were in the Senate, you were voting to fund the war time after time after time.
Now as Hillary Clinton knows, this statement is both false and misleading. It’s false because in fact, the speech that she says was removed from Obama's website remained there throughout the course of the next year. You can know that by going to this site, The Archive org's Wayback Machine...It was there the whole year. And even after that year Barack continued to lead his Foreign Policy section by describing his strong and consistent and principled opposition to George Bush's decision to take us to war.

But the charge is also misleading, because there's no inconsistency in opposing the war and actually supporting funding for it once the war has been launched or supporting funding for our troops once they are there. Think about Howard Dean, who was the strongest candidate in the 2004 election opposing the war: he absolutely and clearly signaled that even though he opposed the war he would not cut off funding for the troops or withdraw them immediately if he became President.

This is a kind of swiftboating — it takes the strongest feature of Barack’s personal, political case: the fact that he made the right decision about the war, and tries to weaken it by false and misleading allegations.

Or think about the brouhaha around Ronald Reagan. At a Nevada editorial event, Barack said this about Ronald Reagan:

I mean, I think Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America, in a way that, you know, Richard Nixon did not and in a way that Bill Clinton did not. He put us on a fundamentally different path, because the country was ready for it.
And then a little later he said:

And the Republican approach, I think, has played itself out. I think it's fair to say that the Republican party was the party of ideas for a pretty long chunk of time there over the last ten, fifteen years, in the sense that they were challenging the conventional wisdom.
This statement says two things: a), that Reagan was a transformational president; and b), that the Republicans were a party of ideas.

Both statements are obviously true.

What Barack did not say, however, was a) that he agreed with Ronald Reagan's views, or that only the Republicans had ideas. And here's how that statement was used by Hillary Clinton in the debate at Myrtle Beach just before the South Carolina primary:

She said:

He has said in the last week that he really liked the ideas of the Republicans over the last ten to fifteen years.
Now you saw what he said, and you can see that what she says here is just plainly false; Rovian in its character. But finally, consider this issue around the question of a woman’s right to choose whether to terminate a pregnancy. Hillary Clinton and her campaign have campaigned on the idea that Barack Obama is weak on “choice” in mailings in both Iowa and New Hampshire and in public speeches to women, and young women in particular.

Lorna Brett Howard was a supporter of Hillary Clinton, a former president of the Chicago NOW organization. But she was so outraged by what she called the “false statements” about Barack's campaign that she made this video, now appearing on YouTube where she affirms that during his time in the Illinois State Senate, no one had ever questioned Barack Obama's support for women’s rights, including the right to choose…

[Ms. Howard] has publicly switched her support from Hillary Clinton to Barack Obama because Hillary Clinton had been using the kind of techniques that we Democrats associate with Republicans…

Now people will say in response to this “Oh, that's so naive. All politics is like this. You can’t punish one candidate because they're stuck on this style of politics.”

But this is the way all politics will be only if we reward this kind of behavior. And that’s a good reason, following Lorna, for people who support Hillary Clinton to either criticize her campaign or switch to support Barack Obama.

Obama himself realizes exactly what he’s up against: “the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election.” But he’s more than an anti-Clinton who deserves credit for good behavior. One of his responses in the South Carolina debate helps define what makes his politics different not just from Clinton’s but every other presidential candidate of our time (including Edwards, Nader, Kucinich et. al.). Late in the debate, which was held on Martin Luther King’s birthday, the moderator asked each of the candidates why King would’ve or should’ve supported him or her. Edwards responded first. Invoking his commitment to “end poverty,” he offered “two reasons.” A more reflective Obama turned the question around:

Well, I don’t think Dr. King would endorse any of us. I think what he would call upon the American people to do is to hold us accountable, and this goes to the core differences, I think, in this campaign. I believe change does not happen from the top down. It happens from the bottom up. Dr. King understood that. (APPLAUSE) It was those women who were willing to walk instead of ride the bus, union workers who are willing to take on violence and intimidation to get the right to organize. It was women who decided, “I'm as smart as my husband. I'd better get the right to vote”…Them arguing, mobilizing, agitating, and ultimately forcing elected officials to be accountable, I think that's the key...So that has been a hallmark of my career, transparency and accountability, getting the American people involved. That's how we're going to bring about change. That’s why I want to be president of the United States, to respect the power of the American people to bring about change.
Obama’s respectful mode isn’t about false modesty. He wants to be a great president and he knows that’s impossible unless Americans become a great people. That equation is the basis for a radical yet supremely practical politics. Earlier this year, Lawrence Goodwyn, a historian who knows as much as anyone about America’s organizing traditions wrote a piece for the Nation drawing a parallel between the 2006 Democratic sweep and the 1930 Congressional elections that preceded the Democratic landslide two years later. The election of 1932, of course, led to the New Deal’s massive social programs and helped enable the unionization of America’s industrial working class. (An Italian Red sect in the 70’s once suggested there’s been one Dictatorship of the Proletariat in history – FDR’s New Deal coalition.) Obama understands America may be at a moment when a similar a kind of transformative electoral politics is now possible. But only if Democrats refuse to accept Rovian tactics and the micro-management style of poll-driven politicians who assume triangulating toward victory, even by the tiniest margins, is all that matters. Obama made the case for thinking big at the South Carolina debate:

The truth is that we as Democrats have not had a working majority in a very long time. And what I mean by that is a working majority that could push through the kinds of bold initiatives that all of us have proposed. And one of the reasons that I am running for president is because I believe that I can inspire new people to get involved in the process, that I can reach out to independents and, yes, some Republicans who have also lost trust in their government and want to see something new. When you look at Bush and Cheney and their record, the one good thing they've done for us is they have given their party a very bad name. (APPLAUSE) That gives us a unique opportunity in this election, and what we can’t do, I think, is just to take the playing field as a given. We want to expand the scope of the electorate so that we can start getting a 60 percent majority, more folks in the House, more folks in the Senate, and I think that's something I can do. And that's why we've seen record turnout in every election so far. I’m not taking all the credit for it. I think people are voting against George Bush. But I also think that we've inspired people who had not previously voted before, and that's what the Democratic Party has to do.
Obama’s sense of possibility is way over Hillary’s head. And that became apparent when when she picked up on his Change theme at one of the debates:

Well, let me say first, that I think we're all advocating for change; we all want to change the status quo, which is George Bush and the Republican domination of Washington for so many years.
But, as Lawrence Lessig asks, “Is that really all we're trying to achieve in this election, to get the Republicans out of office?” Lessig notes that Obama (and Edwards) not only sounded a call for more fundamental change, they backed up that call by refusing to take money from lobbyists or PACs who rule Washington. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, is a quid pro quo pro as the following exchange at the yearly Kos convention last summer indicates:

[A question for Hillary Clinton] Senator Edwards has really a very straightforward question here, which is will you continue to take money from lobbyists or will you take his position...[Hillary’s response] Yes I will. I will, because you know a lot of those lobbyists, whether you like it or not...represent real Americans.

But as Lessig points out:

The question is not who they represent,though they represent a lot of foreign entities as well...the question is whether their influence represents — mis-represents — solutions for America. Whether the effect they have and the power they have in controlling the agenda and access to members of Congress shifts the way Congress responds to the issues.
Lessig’s analysis of Clinton’s business as usual perspective, resonates even more after one glances at the opening pages of Obama’s book, The Audacity of Hope, which signal his, Obama’s, seriousness about taking on the culture of lobbyists. Obama evokes his feelings of awe when he first entered the Senate Hall and recalls his first respectful meetings with old masters of the institution. But he’s not just happy to have been there. His eye has traveled. He notes how speeches given in the Senate Hall tend to be canned presentations for the cameras: “In the world’s greatest deliberative body, no-one is listening.” The speeches are for show; the real work is being done on the down-low with the lobbyists behind closed doors. Obama understands his challenge is to open it all up – to create a context where public discourse amounts to more than partisan cover stories, more than empty oratory.

When Obama calls Hillary out now for being too secretive when she approached healthcare reform in the 90’s, he’s not scoring a cheap point. His argument follows from his whole understanding of the right relations between politicians and the people. There’s been a lot of talk lately about details of the candidates’ healthcare plans. (Edwards’ plan seems to have been the best.) But there was an important recent exchange between the candidates that wasn’t so wonky. During the last debate Obama proposed that “instead of negotiating behind closed doors,” he’d push to bring all parties together and have the negotiations “broadcast on C-SPAN so that the American people can see what the choices are.”

Because part of what we have to do is enlist the American people in this process. And overcoming the special interests and the lobbyists who -- Senator Clinton is right. They will resist anything that we try to do. My plan, her plan, they will try to resist. And the antidote to that is making sure that the American people understand what is at stake. I am absolutely committed to making sure that anybody in America who needs health care is going to get it.
BLITZER: I just want to be precise, and I'll let Senator Clinton respond. But you say broadcast on C-SPAN these deliberations. Is that a swipe at Senator Clinton because...

OBAMA: No, it’s not a swipe. This is something that I've been talking about consistently. What I want to do is increase transparency and accountability to offset the power of the special interests and the lobbyists.(APPLAUSE) If a drug company -- if the drug companies or a member of Congress who's carrying water for the drug companies wants to argue that we should not negotiate for the cheapest available price on drugs, then I want them to make that argument in front of the American people. And I will have experts who explain that, in fact, it is legitimate for drug companies to make profits, but they are making outsized profits on the backs of senior citizens who need those prescription drugs. And that is an argument that the American people have to be involved with, otherwise we're not going to get any plan through.

Hillary wasn’t trying to see that – “Now I think we might be able to [put all those deliberations on C-SPAN] but that’s a little heavier lift than what the president is going to propose, because what happens is we have to have a coalition.” At the risk of making too much of this exchange, I was struck (once again) by Obama’s instinct to stimulate political engagement and Clinton’s ho-humming the prospect of the American people joining in a democratic discussion.

The candidates’ very different impulses on this score probably testify to their different life-experiences. I recall reading somewhere that Hillary once wrote a thesis about Saul Alinsky’s projects. But Obama spent a couple years of his life working as a community organizer under the aegis of the Industrial Areas Foundation (which was put together by Alinskyites). Here's an excerpt from the IAF’s mission statement, which still seems to inform Obama’s own approach to politics.

The IAF is non-ideological and strictly non-partisan, but proudly, publicly, and persistently political. The IAF builds a political base within society's rich and complex third sector - the sector of voluntary institutions that includes religious congregations, labor locals, homeowner groups, recovery groups, parents associations, settlement houses, immigrant societies, schools, seminaries, orders of men and women religious, and others. And then the leaders use that base to compete at times, to confront at times, and to cooperate at times with leaders in the public and private sectors
The IAF develops organizations that use power - organized people and organized money - in effective ways. The secret to the IAF's success lies in its commitment to identify, recruit, train, and develop leaders in every corner of every community where IAF works. The IAF is indeed a radical organization in this specific sense: it has a radical belief in the potential of the vast majority of people to grow and develop as leaders, to be full members of the body politic, to speak and act with others on their own behalf. And IAF does indeed use a radical tactic: the face-to-face, one-to-one individual meeting whose purpose is to initiate a public relationship and to re-knit the frayed social fabric.

Obama’s account of his own ("face-to-face") organizing in South Chicago (in his memoir Dreams from My Father) tells how he witnessed everyday people, some of whom he would not have "picked" to become leaders, grow into their own capacities to take on authority figures in public. I’m reminded, just now, of Obama’s story of a crew from Altgeld project who confronted officials at the Chicago Housing Authority who were prevaricating about asbestos levels in their apartments. “Obama’s army” that day included one pious, married lady who was used to being patronized. She started off shaky but steadied as she suddenly found herself holding "her first press conference.” When one CHA official finally stopped disrespecting the Altgeld insurgents and started playing nice, another woman rebuked him: “We don’t need your donuts, we need answers.”

Obama’s tale of how these woman found their voices came back to me when Hillary touted her own moment of self-discovery on the campaign trail. Obama seems to have realized long ago that if politics is chiefly about insiders like him (and Hillary), it’s nothing. The point is to encourage America's outsiders to realize their capacity to change themselves and the world…

“We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.” That line from Obama’s Super Tuesday speech sounded to my ears like a play on the famous feminist line: “We are becoming the men we wanted to marry.” What gives Obama’s rhetoric of hope such amazing grace is his capacity to invoke the truths of identity politics without sublating class matters.

Hillary’s own identity politics makes her preferable to her husband (who stands for zip but his own sense of entitlement). One of her feminist supporters, recently called attention to Hillary’s mid-90s speech in China, where she defied State Department officials and spoke forthrightly about the oppression of women. But, even in this speech, probably her finest moment in public life, she came across as a woman on top. “We come together in fields and in factories. We come together in village markets and supermarkets. We come together in living rooms and board rooms.” [Emphasis added.] But women who “come together” in factories are a world away from those who mix in board rooms. While Obama talks (too) easily about transcending divisions between “rich and poor,” he has a basic street sense of what separates someone who sat on Walmart’s corporate board from the women he organized with in South Chicago.

There’s a section of Obama’s Dreams where he dives into a second wave feminism that’s less class-bound (and race-bound) than Hillary’s. Obama recalls how a black woman he was working with in Chicago -- a single mother -- once showed up for a community meeting wearing blue contact lens. He allows that he responded with less than perfect sensitivity to this woman’s self-image issues. A couple weeks later, he redeemed himself slightly by arranging for his comrade to see the play For Colored Girls…

For the next hour [the seven black women] took turns telling their stories, singing their songs. They sang about lost time and discarded fantasies and what might have been. They sang of the men who loved them, betrayed them, raped them, embraced them; they sang of the hurt inside these men, hurt that was understood and sometimes forgiven. They showed each other their stretch marks and the calluses on their feet; they revealed their beauty in the lilt of their voice, the flutter of a hand, beauty waning, ascendant, elusive. They wept over the aborted children, the murdered children, the children they once were. And through all of their songs, violent, angry, sweet, unflinching, the women danced, each of them, double-dutch and rhumba and bump and solitary waltz; sweat-breaking, heart-breaking dances. They danced until they all seemed one spirit. At the end of the play, that spirit began to sing a single, simple verse.

I found God in myself
And I loved her/ I loved her fiercely

Lights came up; bows were taken; the girls behind us cheered wildly. I helped Ruby with her coat and we walked out to the parking lot. The temperature had dropped, the stars glinted like ice against the black sky. As we waited for the car to warm up. Ruby leaned over and kissed me on the cheek.


Her eyes, deep brown, were shimmering. I grabbed her gloved hand and gave it a quick squeeze before starting to drive. Nothing more was said; for the entire ride back to the South Side, until I left her at the door and wished her good-night, we never broke that precious silence.

I hope feminists who assume Hillary would be “better for women” try to hear that “precious silence.” Maybe they’ll have second thoughts.

Obama notes that his experience with Ruby shook up his own predisposition to erect a wall “between psychology and politics, the state of our pocketbooks and the state of our souls.” Obama’s body and soul talk here doesn’t quite fit that IAF template and I can imagine skeptical responses from organizers who know black (and white) working class people need unions and broad-scale solidarity more than fleeting personal experiences of self-validation. But you don’t need to buy into Generation O – Obama! Oprah! Orgasms? – to recognize that class consciousness is necessary but not sufficient to comprehend the life of desire in America. Obama’s responsiveness to the varieties of urgency (and suppression) in our culture isn’t a sign that he’ll give into the Imperial Middle muddle. It’s a testament to the range of his sociological imagination and his recognition that most Americans choose NOT be defined solely by their lives on the job. (While that makes it hard as hell to organize them, there’s something life-affirming about their Great Refusals.)

Obama’s variousness can seem like a con. Especially to those who assume politics must be about potholes, not uplift. “Obama is just a preacher,” said a Hillary-backer with undisguised contempt. Skepticism of his Churchy side is widespread among secular “progressive” types. I know where they’re coming from. I recall feeling superior when Bush claimed (in one of his debates with Gore) his favorite political philosopher was Jesus. But that just proved how little I knew about the genealogy of morals. Right around the time Obama was getting into the race, I came across Jean Bethke Elshtain’s Public Men, Private Women, which turned out to be right on time for the upcoming campaign. It was a kick in the head to discover Hannah Arendt and Cornelius Castoriadis – great 20th Century philosophers of democracy and freaks for the Greeks – missed how the originary Christian Moment turned this Man’s Man’s Man’s World upside down. For it was Jesus – God Bless ‘im – who upheld homey values of kindness and compassion that had always been consigned to the domestic sphere and dissed as women things, unworthy of the agora.

Obama doesn’t bow down to Christers. He went out of his way to push the congregation at Martin Luther King’s church. “We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them.” In that setting, the underscored word underlined the deeply unchristian aspect of homophobia. Obama’s ease with gay people is probably a sign of his worldliness and urbanity. But he has the wit not to mix up his rejection of intolerance with off-putting tics of bi-coastal elites. Recall that line from his 2004 Keynote speech: “We got some gay friends in the Red States…”

Obama the empath irritates both hard leftists and Democratic party partisans who know that anger is an energy. A capacity to imagine others from within will tend to make enemies seem less hateful, more human. Obama is, notoriously, not an Angry Black Man. But his cool shouldn’t be confused with a lack of passion or a lack of clarity. His line on the American Dilemma is marked by his lucidity about “the trouble with friendship.”

Unfortunately, all too often when we talk about unity in this country, we've come to believe that it can be purchased on the cheap. We've come to believe that racial reconciliation can come easily - that it's just a matter of a few ignorant people trapped in the prejudices of the past, and that if the demagogues and those who exploit our racial divisions will simply go away, then all our problems would be solved. All too often, we seek to ignore the profound institutional barriers that stand in the way of ensuring opportunity for all children, or decent jobs for all people, or health care for those who are sick. We long for unity, but are unwilling to pay the price.
If that seems a little abstract, check his one-liner protesting against: “Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others.”

Obama has backed up such words with deeds. His most important achievement as a State Senator was the bill he got through the Illinois legislature which mandated all police interrogations and confessions be videotaped. The idea was to stop cops from beating confessions out of suspects. Charles Peters recently offered an account of how Obama got his “heart and soul” bill passed over the initial objections of the law enforcement establishment, Illinois’s Governor, Republicans who were “automatically tough on crime,” Democrats who were scared to seem “soft on crime,” and anti-death penalty advocates who worried that Obama’s bill “by preventing the execution of innocents would deprive them of their best argument.” When the police lobby proposed to limit the videotaping to confessions, Obama held out “knowing that the beatings were most likely to occur during questioning.” He not only prevailed, he was so persuasive “that the bill passed both houses of the legislature, the Senate by an incredible 35 to 0.” And then Obama talked the Governor into signing the bill, making Illinois the first state to require such videotaping.

Peters argues that Obama’s successes in the Illinois Legislature (where he passed other significant legislation) indicates “Obama’s campaign claim that he can persuade Americans to rise above what divides us is not just rhetoric.”

Obama's campaign may falter. Perhaps it won't amount to much more than a re-run of Jesse Jackson’s last try. But, then again, Obama’s deeds as a legislator distance him from Jackson’s decades of speech acts. That and the fact that the race for the nomination is still on suggest that maybe there really is something new under the sun.

Obama explained how/why he believed change is going to come at the end of his speech on Martin Luther King’s birthday. So lets end this by giving him the last word.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She's been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.

And if they can shake in that room, they can shake in Atlanta.

And if they can shake in Atlanta, they can shake in Georgia.

And if they can shake in Georgia, they can shake all across America. And if enough of our voices join together; we can bring those walls tumbling down. The walls of Jericho can finally come tumbling down. That is our hope - but only if we pray together, and work together, and march together.

Brothers and sisters, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for peace and justice, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for opportunity and equality, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle to heal this nation and repair this world, we cannot walk alone.

So I ask you to walk with me, and march with me, and join your voice with mine, and together we will sing the song that tears down the walls that divide us, and lift up an America that is truly indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all. May God bless the memory of the great pastor of this church, and may God bless the United States of America.

2/26/2008 10:20:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

Well, I disagree with many--most--of your premises, benj, but I do admire your effort.

And you make the original point very well, that the zeal for BHO makes BHO a real force.

Folks may want to dismiss it as 'personality cult' but the reason that phrase exists is because the phenomena does.

If the guy actually can pull our atomized American politics back toward a center of gravity, he may win, regardless of where that center alights in the left/right spectrum.

Governing after the win is a whole 'nother subject tho.

2/26/2008 11:05:00 AM  
Blogger Nomenklatura said...

Wretchard wrote:

"I'll guess that Spengler once worked as a consultant for either an international aid agency or a multilateral financial institution"

Been there, done that, in another part of East Africa, at the same time (1980-ish).

Development aid to the Third World is largely a racket run for the benefit of "international staff" who revel in their quasi-diplomatic status amidst poverty so extreme they are as gods by comparison. The other major beneficiaries are the host country counterparts who shamelessly rip the development assistance off. Everybody knows and everyone plays along. It's a corrosive moral atmosphere in which hypocrisy is the principal virtue.

It didn't take many meetings between senior African government officials and representatives of the World Bank to reveal the whole sham system, to anyone who was present. The Africans had not so long ago moved into the houses of their former colonialist masters, taking over the chauffeured cars (and cutting the salaries of the servants by at least 80%). Neither they nor the bankers flying in from the World Bank cared whether the millions of dollars in aid project money would be in any sense well spent, or eventually repaid (they weren't, except as a paper-shuffling exercise resulting in more never-to-be-repaid debt). The whole process on both sides, above the very junior or 'useful idiot' level, was about the payment of salaries, commissions, expenses, pension contributions, housing allowances and jobs for relatives. It was entirely insulated from the needs, intentions or goals of the public in both developed countries and Africa.

As a result I can sort of understand Spengler's vehemence. The guys from the World Bank were unimpressive but they were, in Western terms, salesmen. Fill out the paperwork, shake hands, smile, taxi to the airport, move on to the next deal. People you don't expect that much from.

The African guys though were the leadership of their countries, for which it was clear at the time they they were an unmitigated, sorry disaster. They would sit around, drink, talk at length and often amusingly, but were otherwise devoid of substance. The idea that someone who doggedly and in the face of the evidence admires and even emulates a man like that (his father), might become President of the United States is indeed frightening and revolting.

While the core of Spengler's objection to what he sees in Obama's paternal heritage appears to be this casually corrupt fecklessness, so damaging over the past 50 years in Africa, what he sees on his mother's side appears just as toxic, a lifelong and apparently well documented commitment to "Radical anti-Americanism".

Then he adds in the extremely sketchy paper trail we have on Obama and the charge that he is a chameleon, "the political equivalent of a sociopath", and the overall picture is not pretty.

I'm not sure how far I can accept the last charge. I think all politicians want to appear to be what the person they are talking to wants them to be. Perhaps Spengler's best point here is that a sociopath is weakly if at all connected emotionally to the people around him, and there is indeed very little evidence that Obama feels connected to or even favorably disposed towards much of America, or that he feels he would have in office a specific responsibility to protect Americans. That's something it's surely not unreasonable to believe a President ought to have.

Brilliant as Obama may have been in feeling and speaking his way to this point, I fully expect myself that we will in future be talking about him not as a political genius but instead in the context of a McGovern-style electoral debacle which, the judgement will be, showed just how dreamily nuts Democrat party activists were in 2008.

The most interesting aspect of his candidacy (as long as we can safely disregard the prospect of him winning the election) is why the Democratic party is choosing him in spite of all these problems. My best guess is that in this respect he's a sort of a 'Hail Mary pass for the endzone' at a time when the clock seems to be running out for the concept of domestic collectivism as credible approach to economic challenges.

2/26/2008 11:29:00 AM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

The biggest problem--and that's saying something--with the aid system described above is that the players occupy the places of other men and women who might do it right.

2/26/2008 11:51:00 AM  
Blogger Fred said...


I went to The Oil Drum, as you suggested, to look around. It is an interesting site. Bookmarked it and added it to my "Finance and Investing" category.

What still confuses me is the behavior of the oil futures markets today, pushing the barrel over $101. If the U.S. economy (and perhaps others)is slowing, with consumers retrenching, at a moment when oil supplies are going ahead of demand, something has the traders spooked in a counterintuitive way. Whatever it is, I can't see it. Of course, China continues to gobble up oil at a much faster rate of growth than we exhibit. This year our annual increase in demand for petroleum is just a tad over 1%. What is it in China? The 9%-12% range? And not much lower in India. However, the really interesting scenario to watch will be how China's economy is affected by our economic slowdown. I do not know a lot about China. I've never been there. So, I am wondering if the concept of conservation in the face of higher prices has any purchase over there.

2/26/2008 12:30:00 PM  
Blogger Benj said...

Thanks for giving me a shot Buddy -Embarrassed I posted that whole piece. Originally wrote something just for this site that was more pointed (I think) and then added on just a swatch from that whole enchilada...But I lost the comment first time I tried to post it and was too lazy to write it all over again. Now I wish I had!!

I hear you re those premises. And in the end they will almost surely keep us apart politically - but if/when it all comes down again a la 9/11 - I got your back and, more importantly, so will Obama. I'm damn disappointed he hasn't been willing to move off the "dumb" Iraq war dime. But, then again, that's understandable/forgivable when you realize he's sensed all along how he could transform this country. Hard to get all that excited about democracy in Iraq when you know what needs doing here and know you might just be the One to help get it done. (Precisely because you know you're NOT all that.)

And even on Iraq, he's better than you might think. Might go back to the Foreign Affairs Committee hearings over the past couple years - must be transcripts some place - and check how Obama talked to Condi or Crocker or Khalizad. He asks questions - LISTENS - Unlike Hill or Kerry - who simply deliver their statements and add-on a snotty question. Obama sounds like he wants to find stuff out. IF ONLY to make a better case for his side!!! But he actually believes in democratic discourse...

If it don't just get ugly - We could have an amazing election. People should have to hear WHY Michelle O has a damn point. Anyone who knows her pop's life story knows Mrs. McCain's got no right to lecture anyone in Michelle's fam. Just as Obama knows it's his DUTY to HONOR John M.'s service to America. And to make his fans swallow it! WAKE UP EVERYBODY - THIS IS an AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL moment - Forget the damn pledge of Allegiance - but DIG how those folks were shouting USA USA after O won Wisconsin!!!!!!

Do you know Langston Hughes’s lines? - "LEt America be the dream the dreamers dreamed - Let it be that great strong land of love" - (LET AMERICA BE AMERICA AGAIN!) - I've been introducing my 4 year old African American son to America's revolutionary history. He's going to come up knowing all about Washington, and Valley Forge and Tom Paine and Swamp Fox and the Sons of Liberty. And when he's older and can deal with it - he's going to learn the heartbreaking story of Washington's ambivalence about slavery. BTW - anyone who loves American (or is interested in the larger meaning of this campaign) should read Henry Wiencek's "An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America." Nothing po-mo or fashionable about it. (I don't think the academic left even noticed Wiencek's very "staight" work of history.) But it's a shameful story that still matters EVEN as we recognize all that the G.W. and the founders did for ALL of us...

American history is all about Double Truths. In the post I lost about Obama - I wrote a bit about the range of his inside/out experiences...Middle American fam background/Indonesian exile/ Harvard boy/Hawaian/ Black preppie/inner city organizer/willed Christian/ son of a (mild) cultural relativist etc etc etc - His experience has taught him the DOUBLE-TRUTH!! That's the key to wisdom (and democracy)!!!!!

Thanks again for not dismissing my pov out of hand... Best, b.

2/26/2008 02:23:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

I get what you're saying, benj. I think we all know there's a "double truth" in American history, and BTW that's a fine way of putting it.

And idealism is good -- we need it. But the problem a lot of us have with it is that as a guiding philosophy it historically has run toward an economuic system that delivers less of the good life for everybody except the masters who must control all the myriad allocations.

If BHO can find a way to champion the ideals of individualism over the ideals of collectivism, he can win a lot of conservatives who see in him the same inspirational quality that you see.

Also, great comment on the possibility of a 'clean' respectful, issues-oriented election. Repudiating the lung-rippers who've run too much of the show over the last decades would be a great lift for America.

2/26/2008 03:15:00 PM  
Blogger jj mollo said...

I took a cursory look comparing the Sol Sanders article to the Spengler article. There is a strong similarity in tone and attitude, but the flow is different. Statistics are also different. MSWord gives Spengler a Reading Ease score of 37 vs. 27 for Sanders. Spengler sentences are much shorter. Sanders has 8 percent passive sentences vs. 3 percent. It could be the influence of a better editor at Asia Times, but I doubt it myself.

2/26/2008 08:31:00 PM  
Blogger nenhures said...

Just two brief observations.
I think Spengler may be wrong, but his insight is powerful and quite interesting. The kind of hatred ms. Obama seems to show has nothing to do with concrete things like, for instance, having been slighted because of her race. It's the kind of metaphysical hatred only literate people and mainly intellectuals are able to have. A hatred of the US like hers is only nourished by whatever her country has done for her, by whatever positive quality America has. Her hatred of the US resembles the most virulent kind of anti-semitism because it is the hatred of an abstraction she believes in and sees as evil incarnate. That was possibly Obama's mom's hatred too, that of the American who effectively abandoned her homeland in order to go native inside a different culture which attracted her exactly because she saw it as both America's victim and a kind of anti-America.

Now, about Spengler, his relationship with German culture is something beyond a foreigner's well-informed admiration. I's be tempted to say he is German, but the way he uses the English language doesn't sound exactly Germanic to my ears. Thus, I guess that his native language is equidistant from German and English, but close enough to them for him to be an insider of both cultures while coming originally from a smaller, rich but more secret one. He's probably Dutch, though I wouldn't entirely discount the possibility of his being a Middle-European: Czech, Polish or Hungarian.

2/27/2008 02:03:00 AM  
Blogger Benj said...

Buddy - double truth really isn't MINE - it was the idea implicit in the work of AMerican liberal thinkers who were later claimed as influences by neo-cons (thinkers like Lionel Trilling, Robert K. Merton (the guy who invented the phrase "unintended consequences" etc.) But the neo-cons traduced their fathers! Left out the idealism (and the subtlety and anti-racism)!! Re the economic question. It's a real one. But, Adam Smith didn't have all the answers..(BTW Smith was a great believer in SLAVERY - he dismissed the heroes in UK who started up anti-slavery agitation - Everyone knew, according to the Old Adam, that Slavery would never die.)...Might try to resist the assumption that you have to choose between individualism OR solidarity (what you call collectivism). (An Aside: Both Obama and McCain have had experiences that taught them implicitly that's a false opposition.) The anti-capitalist workers who sat in at Flint in the 30's and the anti-communist ones who made Solidarnosc in Poland belong to the same tradition. I think that's where the moral capital lies...But, you're right that tradition hasn't come up with THE economic solution. Still, I think you can get a glimpse of where we might be headed - a glimpse that won't scare you - in Bill Greider's book "The Soul of Capitalism." Which is NOT an anti-capitalist screed!!! It provides an extraordinary set of stories about recent instances of "worker ownership." The kinds of enterprises range from a temp agency staffed by ex-cons and drug addicts (IAF sponsored - Obama's teachers!) to paper mills in North Carolina to...I won't go on here. But do check the book and you'll get the facts/stories that might blow your mind. (You can read an interview with Greider here:

Who owns the idea of Worker Ownership? Well, it sure as hell doesn't fit into the paradigms of statist leftists. But though it is certainly about enlightened self-interest, it doesn't come down to Greed is Good or WHATEVER IS IS RIGHTism...Worker ownership is an idea that, sorry, sublates the opposition between individualsim and collectivism. I think it's the economic foundation for a new politics...OBama hasn't picked up on it but here's hoping...

Best, b.

2/27/2008 09:51:00 AM  
Blogger Featherless Biped said...

I think Spengler was dealing with a bad burrito when he wrote that one. It was definitely well below his usual standards of decency.

2/27/2008 01:54:00 PM  
Blogger Zenster said...

Development aid to the Third World is largely a racket run for the benefit of "international staff" who revel in their quasi-diplomatic status amidst poverty so extreme they are as gods by comparison. The other major beneficiaries are the host country counterparts who shamelessly rip the development assistance off. Everybody knows and everyone plays along. It's a corrosive moral atmosphere in which hypocrisy is the principal virtue.

I recommend that everyone unfamiliar with the man please read “For God’s Sake, Please Stop the Aid”, by James Shikwati. Some excerpts:

Huge bureaucracies are financed (with the aid money), corruption and complacency are promoted, Africans are taught to be beggars and not to be independent. In addition, development aid weakens the local markets everywhere and dampens the spirit of entrepreneurship that we so desperately need. As absurd as it may sound: Development aid is one of the reasons for Africa's problems. If the West were to cancel these payments, normal Africans wouldn't even notice. Only the functionaries would be hard hit. Which is why they maintain that the world would stop turning without this development aid.

But it has to be the Kenyans themselves who help these people. When there's a drought in a region of Kenya, our corrupt politicians reflexively cry out for more help. This call then reaches the United Nations World Food Program -- which is a massive agency of apparatchiks who are in the absurd situation of, on the one hand, being dedicated to the fight against hunger while, on the other hand, being faced with unemployment were hunger actually eliminated. It's only natural that they willingly accept the plea for more help. And it's not uncommon that they demand a little more money than the respective African government originally requested. They then forward that request to their headquarters, and before long, several thousands tons of corn are shipped to Africa and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unscrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN's World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It's a simple but fatal cycle.

Wretchard: This is the flipside argument to those who claim he is 'healing' American society. That may be, but any such healing will first drag us through the shadow of the valley of shame.

That is because the only “healing” that Obama truly wants is a strengthening of America’s sense of shame over its profound prosperity.

This is the eternal message drummed into us by communists and democrats. It is the Zero-Sum-Equation that attributes America’s wealth to raping the Third World. Perish the thought that America’s massive contributions of foreign aid would ever be considered. Such self-loathing cannot for one minute entertain the notion that America’s high technology has bred up miracle after scientific miracle in the form of vaccinations, hybridized crop strains, satellite imaging or even just that small miracle called the Internet Oh! The SHAME!!!

The guilt game works not because people need absolution but because they need to flaunt their superiority. The smartest of the Third World huckersters understand this essential fact and make the most of it: White Guilt is not an appeal to decency but to vanity.

Bravo! Witness how secretly bigoted liberals profess undying love for their “Little Brown Brothers” by decrying American greatness, even as they pride themselves in donating a few table scraps to some starving sub-Saharan children. All the while, these “compassionate” types demand adoption of “green” energy sources like windmills and solar power that will NEVER POWER ONE SINGLE STEEL MILL in all eternity. Such liberality falls flat once it becomes clear how such “humanitarian concerns” demand that all undeveloped countries be damned to remain that way through unforseeable future decades in order to meet their precious Kyoto protocols.

Fred: why are not his legions of supporters in the middle muddle who vote for him because of his race not called "racist?" Because they surely are, and I think it is disrespectful towards black Americans in fending off critical discourse because of the perversions of political correctness/multiculturalism.

You ask the very most dangerous sort of questions, Fred.

Buddy Larsen: if Obama was 'nothing', or an 'empty suit' or a 'lightweight' he would not currently be bulldozing that gigantic chrome-plated Clinton machine into the nearby drainage ditch.

Given the Swiss-watch precision and ultimately cynical nature of Hillary’s campaign, it is nearly impossible to argue otherwise. The only way to detract from Obama’s skills is to point out how Hillary possesses all the appeal of a week-old sack of dead polecats.

Whiskey_199: That leaked Drudge pic was GENIUS! Obama today became "Muslim" for millions of Drudge viewers this AM. His denials and anger only made it worse. GENIUS.

That was my own personal perception and I’ve yet to see any refutation of it. It matters not one whit that the photo was from 2006. Moreover, Obama knew damn well he was going to run two years ago. Donning that turban was every bit as much of a thumb-in-the-eye to America as his embrace of Farrakhan. As you noted:

it's a sign of tremendous weakness for BOTH Obama and the Dem Party that his obvious disdain for the Flag he expresses constantly AND his fondness for radical politics (Che flags, Ayers/Dorn, Farrakhan, Wright, dressing up like Somali Muslim elder) is not only a deal-breaker but something that's winning in his party.

If these are his selling points, who will he reach save those well beyond the fringe? Unless this nation’s electorate is brain dead—an unfortunately sure bet—the center will not hold with such blatant anti-Americanism. In the blandest of terms, Obama’s iconography is entirely ill-suited to mass marketing. Yes, it reaches directly into the heart of his most hardcore voters but they are already convinced, not to mention, beyond the pale. Those—in the middle—who require the most convincing will be the least persuaded by Obama’s “radical lite”.

The Black Urban community is violently disfunctional, gang-ridden, single mother dominated, with most young men violent gang members. Education is "white" and so is working hard, delayed gratification, getting married, etc.

Not only that but the middle-class White electorate knows this damn well. Even if Obama escapes being perceived as being “Black”, his lenience for this entire gamut of “anti-White” propensities all militates against support for his, already, nebulous platform.

Eggplant: When the energy required to process a quantity of petroleum is greater than the petroleum's energy content then the petroleum will remain in ground despite there being an economic need for it.

Slight correction. There is NO “economic need” for oil that is too expensive to pump out of the ground. Please carry on.

Nomenklatura: It didn't take many meetings between senior African government officials and representatives of the World Bank to reveal the whole sham system, to anyone who was present. The Africans had not so long ago moved into the houses of their former colonialist masters, taking over the chauffeured cars (and cutting the salaries of the servants by at least 80%). Neither they nor the bankers flying in from the World Bank cared whether the millions of dollars in aid project money would be in any sense well spent, or eventually repaid (they weren't, except as a paper-shuffling exercise resulting in more never-to-be-repaid debt). The whole process on both sides, above the very junior or 'useful idiot' level, was about the payment of salaries, commissions, expenses, pension contributions, housing allowances and jobs for relatives. It was entirely insulated from the needs, intentions or goals of the public in both developed countries and Africa.

I can only refer you to James Shikwati’s aforementioned article.

2/29/2008 09:48:00 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I used to work for one of the UN aid agencies, and one of the top men there told me personally that "through-put [to the starving] for food aid in sub-Saharan Africa is five per cent. And he, a die-hard Leftist, snickered as if he'd told me a dirty joke.

I was actually shocked. I'd thought they'd rake off maybe 25%. Hell, even the damn Mafia only robs about 4% of the baggage at JFK International. But they don't have politicians covering their backsides, so they can only bleed the host organism a little bit.

2/29/2008 10:33:00 PM  
Blogger buddy larsen said...

beverly, the mafia's "few percent" graft principle might make NGO graft look way out of line, but that's probably a mis-frame. It might be better to figure the NGO graft, and then ask, what is this number a few percent of ?

3/01/2008 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger M. Simon said...

And then to stagger back to the bar and buddy up to a German consultant so drunk he is toasting to the Fuhrer's health and greets you as his favorite untermensch.

A classic.

3/02/2008 03:56:00 PM  
Blogger Waymad said...

Another leetle clue about Spengler: in this article, he compares his terrier to Talleyrand. Brit or Northern Euro, for sure. Who else loves terriers?

Love or hate him, whoever 'he' is, one can never ever dismiss a Spengler piece out of hand. There's more than a hint of ecclesiastical learning in there, too. Another clue?

3/02/2008 04:38:00 PM  

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