The Dream Café

Steven Brust: “A masterful storyteller of contagious glee and self-deprecating badassery” —Skyler White

Rant: Obama, Reverend Warren, and my friends list

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Apparently a number of my friends are hurt, puzzled, angered, offended, or some combination because known gay-bashing Reverend Richard Warren was asked by Obama to give the inuagural invocation.

I don’t know whether to be hurt, puzzled, angered, offended, or some combination by how they’re reacting.

Some of Obama’s appointments include: Ken Salazar for Secretary of the Interior.  He’s a supporter of the Iraq War.  He is a supporter of offshore oil drilling.  He backed continued tax breaks for Exxon-Mobile.  He is generally considered to the right of every Democrat except Lieberman.

Tom Vilsack is Secretary of Agriculture.  His credentials include backing everything that helps major agribusiness corporations at the expense of individual farmers–in particular, favoring ethanol subsidies for major corporations, which has the added bonus of driving up food prices.

The Secretary of Education is Arne Duncan, a proponent of the hated “No Child Left Behind” act, and a booster of privatizing schools, breaking teachers unions, and shutting down “underperforming” schools in low-income areas.

For Defense Secretary we have Robert Gates, the first Pentagon chief in US history to be retained in office when a new party took the White House.  The person leading the charge against personal freedom on behalf of the most hated president in recent history is being retained in office so he can–change, and become someone different?  I doubt it.  A supporter of the Surge, of continuing the Iraq war, and someone who has repeatedly refused to commit to withdrawing troops.  The national security team has been praised by Dick Chaney.  What does that tell us?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who voted for the Iraq War and against gay marriage.

And then there are his financial appointments: a Who’s Who of Goldman-Sachs.

So then: Obama’s agenda, judging from his appointments, seems to be: Continue the attacks on education, drive food prices up while destroying the small farmer, continue the war, continue the attacks on our personal freedom, and continue raping the environment so long as it is in the interest of Wall Street.

And now, NOW, you are upset because a gay-basher is saying a prayer at the inauguration?

Look: if you want to include that in the long list of either What We Can Expect From Obama, or How Obama Betrayed Me, then fine.  But to single out that one item, it feels like I’m being told, “I don’t mind if you take away my freedom, continue invading and torturing around the world, destroy the lives of individuals and the environment so the rich can stay rich, but don’t you DARE mess with the right of affectional preference!”

Someone has priorities screwed up and I don’t think it’s me.

corwin

Author: corwin

Site administrative account, so probably Corwin, Felix or DD-B.

0 Comments

  1. I’ve been angry about every one of Obama’s appointments so far. Did I miss the memo that said, if I didn’t cry out in pain every time I was kicked, I forfeited my right to cry out at all?

    I apologize for failing the political rigor test. I hereby turn in my political opinion permit. I swear to express only opinions on art and fashion henceforth, and agree to submit to monitoring for compliance by the Agency of People Who Know More Than I Do.

  2. I’m sorry–that was rude, and I shouldn’t have responded when I was angry.

    Of course we’re repelled by Obama’s appointments. But a lot of us expected we’d see an immediate sellout to big business and its bought representatives. We’re angry, but on some level, we pretty much expected we’d get screwed on the practical level.

    My outrage is partly of the straw/camel’s back variety. But it’s also because this is so completely unnecessary. This isn’t practical–this is pure symbolism, rubbing our noses in the hypocrisy without any attendant political advantage for the people in charge.

    So this happens to be the incident that bursts the dam and results in the outpouring of anger. Because it’s so perfectly gratuitous.

  3. Steve, liberals expected to ride on hope for at least Obama’s first 100 days. All his evil appointments can be rationalized, with great effort: after all, guys who locked up Japanese Americans during WWII helped the civil rights movement a decade later.

    But Rick Warren’s purely a symbol, and symbolic choices are harder to rationalize than ostensibly pragmatic ones. Though a surprising number of people are managing to swallow that camel, too.

    On previewing this, I see Emma’s said much the same thing. But I’ll post it anyway.

  4. corwin

    “But Rick Warren’s purely a symbol, and symbolic choices are harder to rationalize than ostensibly pragmatic ones. ”

    Hmmm. Okay, that makes sense. I guess people can stomach what Rupurt Murdoch is actually doing, or else lie to themselves about it; but if he were discovered to have a picture of Goebbels on his desk, people would flip out.

    Thanks for explaining.

    But it still makes me crazy.

  5. There shouldn’t be a religious invocation at a presidential inauguration. That’s an effective endorsement of religion at a governmental ceremony. If there is going to be one anyway, it doesn’t make a lick of difference if it’s Rick Warren or Pope Sidious I or First Parent Sun Myung Moon.

    I don’t think liberals expected to ride on hope; only naïve ninnies did. We already knew that Obama and Biden oppose gay marriage even if they claim they support equal rights; if they truly, honestly cared, they’d’ve said so from the start. Anyone who complains has been steeping in denial, and i really can’t be sympathetic.

    I voted for Obama, and i still think he’ll end up doing a pretty decent job, but he’s not the messiah and we’re not headed for eight years of progressive paradise in the USA. Get a grip, people.

  6. Dude, it makes me crazy, too. I’ve been sitting on my rant pretty much since he’s been elected. I totally get why you flipped out over this. But we can’t say “I told you so” until he does, well, one of the things he’s been promising to do.

    The only thing that’ll truly disappoint me is if he pulls a Clinton on health care.

    Now, I want to rant about Boing Boing linking to snuff videos and disemvowelling people who complain, but see? I’m good.

  7. Steve, and because analogies matter, that’s not quite it. It’s more like Murdoch was bought out by Richard Branson, and everyone cheered, and then Branson said the new managing editor of the New York Times would be David Duke.

    Hmm. Maybe there just isn’t a proper analogy here.

  8. corwin

    Will: I was just giving an example of where the symbol was more powerful than the action.

  9. corwin

    Rone: “There shouldn’t be a religious invocation at a presidential inauguration.”

    Well, yeah.

  10. Steve, you are correct; we should patiently explain to the workers why they are going to be disappointed, and let the liberal petits-bourgeois work it out for themselves. I’m more concerned with what the SEIU’s members, my brothers and sisters, will do than with what the ACLU will do.

    Will: dsmvwllng? Ghhh.

  11. Will already said what I was going to say, that this is a symbolic thing. On that note I would also add that this is the sort of symbolic appointment with which you would normally appoint someone that you actually like and respect. Maybe someone like Rev. Wright, which probably would have caused less controversy.

    Then I remembered that when I first heard about this story I didn’t care. I’m gay and I could care less who does the invocation unless it’s Fred Phelps himself. I’m also an atheist. There really isn’t any person or part of the ceremony that will be less important to me than Rev. Warren and his mindless invocation to a God that I don’t believe in.

    Really, if Obama thinks that this will win him some support in the evangelical community then fine. Granted, he won’t get that support because they all think he’s the Antichrist because of the parenthetical “D” after his name. Obviously.

    So yeah, the net is that I’m sort of pissed because not only is he symbolically sticking to me but he’s doing something that will obviously fail in it’s objective. And I’d rather he do things that I like and, failing that, will succeed.

  12. If I were going to be outraged about this, I would be outraged at having an invocation–and a benediction, this time by Rev. Joseph Lowery, a liberal mainline Protestant who supports same-sex marriage–at all. And since that would be a futile battle: Is there anyone out there outraged that both prayers will be offered by Christian ministers? Probably, but apparently not on my LJ f-list.

    I’m appalled by some of his appointments, but I want to see what he does with them. There’s a long history of, for example, Supreme Court justices not performing as expected, so it could happen here, too. And there’s always the old saying about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer. This could work. (I’m a cranky old broad, but I guess I’m an optimist.)

  13. B. Ross Ashley: “patiently explain to the workers”? I hope that was irony or sarcasm and I missed it (skzb can, I think, testify to my exceedingly literal mind), because otherwise it’s the most arrogant bullshit I’ve read this week.

  14. Carol, I dunno Ross, so the answer could be “Both,” but there is a classic problem with having new knowledge: How do you share it without sounding like an asshole? Societies teach values, and ours goes far out of its way to promote the notion that capitalism is so much more important than democracy that we should accept the 2000 election, the NED and the CIA paying to overthrow duly elected leaders, etc.

    Sarcastic or not, Ross is right: if you’re going to explain, explain patiently, and explain to the workers. The owners and little owners of the US are too invested in the system to see or care what it does to the rest of us.

  15. With the example that Bush gave in “look at what I can get away with”, why is anyone really surprised? My only hopes for Obama was a return to the “same old, same old” instead of the insatiable international feeding we had under Bush.

  16. Will: “[T]here is a classic problem with having new knowledge: How do you share it without sounding like an asshole?”

    That’s exactly what makes some evangelicals so annoying: they are so certain that they have the Revealed Truth and that it is their duty to share it with all the unenlightened.

    My viewpoint is that when you want to share knowledge, you START with the presumption that it is just possible that you are wrong.

  17. I’m encouraged by his selection of Steve Chu for Energy Secretary. re: ethanol, it’s not surprising given the corn production of Illinois that Obama has endorsed corn-to-ethanol when pinned down. BUT, he doesn’t usually bring it up when talking about his energy strategy, so that fact along with the Chu appointment makes me think that he will quietly de-prioritize corn-to-ethanol in favor of better alternatives.

    I actually think safe, modern nuclear power (like France, not Chernobyl) is probably the only *current* tech that can supply us enough power in the short run. Better than coal for sure, even with the waste issue. What do y’all think?

  18. I’m kind of hoping there’s method to the appointment madness. Willing to wait and see. But primarily, I think change has to happen from individuals and that change can swing the direction of a nation. I’d like a practical revolution; backyard gardens, clotheslines and chickens. (Electric dryers account for 5-10% of home energy usage. Stop supporting big agriculture. And so on.) But I think it all has to start with an individual decision to change, to recognize that unsustainable means unsustainable, and not to wait for Washington to “fix it”.

    I dunno what to think about Rev. Warren, but I am cheered that the CA atty. general is stepping up against Prop 8.

    And no matter what I think of choices thus far, I am still utterly convinced Obama/Biden is a better choice than McCain/Palin. Meanwhile, the rest of us can do what we can do. Me, I’m going to go solar and raise chickens. Preferably a heritage breed that needs preserving. And I’ll cross my fingers for CA.

  19. “My viewpoint is that when you want to share knowledge, you START with the presumption that it is just possible that you are wrong.”

    Huh. Why share knowledge that may be wrong?

    That’s maybe a third of a joke. Entirely seriously, I’ll note that too often, people who want others to consider the possibility they’re wrong have rejected the possibility for themselves.

  20. Will: Why share knowledge that may be wrong? Because that’s the only kind of knowledge there is. Unless, you know, you’re God or something.

    One of my intellectual heroes, John Dominic Crossan, talks about this. I don’t have the book at hand, but he discusses having total commitment to his beliefs while still always maintaining an awareness that others with other beliefs have a similarly strong commitment and that they may be right and he wrong, or both wrong, or even both right. Now, I don’t have “beliefs,” but regarding my opinions, I do try to operate that way.

  21. Carol, a serious question: Who doesn’t? Other than insane people?

  22. Part of the problem is that the so-called progressives who have been so outraged at Obama’s cabinet appointments have fallen into the trap of thinking people are essentially one-dimensional. The credit some have extended Obama on the appointments presumes, simply, that we should wait and see how these people conduct themselves. If Obama presents a satisfactory, or, hopefully, excellent agenda, and these people do their part to push it through, he will be hailed as a wise politician who brought talented people close and used them to their best. If they utterly fail, or if internecine disputes fracture the administration, the gamble will have failed.

    The selection of Rick Warren is a different matter. While there is merit in “bringing everyone to the table”, I don’t see why each of those factions should get a soapbox. Perhaps it is an internet thing, but lately it seems like bigotry has been getting a strange presumption of merit, as if those who reject bigotry are the really, truly closed-minded. After all, we’re so unreasonable as to think that two adults of the same sex can consent to a loving, trusting relationship; we’re so angry and bigoted that we can’t see that a gay man is the equivalent of a farm animal, or a child rape victim; we’re so horribly bigoted that we can’t see that the only real equality is the one in which some groups have superior standing before the law.

    If Warren does his part without creating too much controversy, he will be praised for his temperance, for showing wisdom, even though the very next day he will be back to speaking his horrid slanders.

    Yes, people have a right to feel included, but that doesn’t mean that other people should be pushed to the fringe. Marginalizing your support in order to empower bigotry is a curious political maneuver, although one that fits the new Democratic spirit of accommodation and appeasement.

  23. Also, to make up for that rant which will probably piss you off, I will ask you a totally random question about writing:

    It seems like you have had to make up a giant assload of names for places and people who will never be seen or heard from, in descriptions of events that are unimportant to the narrative: Lord This-or-that, who fought the battle in the 10th Cycle in the Whatchamacallit Valley against Emperor Watdafuck, where the Cavalier Howsyaboy distinguished himself in taking Fuckemup Hill. As commemorated by the playwright the Marquis of Burrito in his play “Taquito and the Count of Pupusa.”

    So, do you find coming up with all these names fun and enjoyable, or annoying but necessary, or something that spins out of your head that you don’t even think about, or something else entirely?

  24. Will: I’m not sure what you mean–“who doesn’t” what? If you mean have the approach to life I describe in the second paragraph, you already mentioned people who have rejected the possibility for themselves (so I’m thinking you must mean something else).

  25. Carol, can you name any sane people who don’t consider the possibility that they’re wrong?

  26. Uh, not meaning to leave insane people out of this—many insane people consider the possibility that they’re wrong. But suggesting someone doesn’t consider the possibility of being wrong is essentially suggesting they’re mad.

  27. skzb, et al: Need me to bring you a tin foil hat?

  28. Nice try, “chris”, if that is your real name, but studies show that tin foil hats actually make government mind control radiation MORE effective. http://people.csail.mit.edu/rahimi/helmet/

  29. Hmmmm “rone” you are trying trying to keep me controlled by “them”.

  30. Chris, if you’ve got a spare one, sure!

  31. People cheered for Obama because he was the poster boy for “change”. As a service member I was for Mac because I knew that he at least had morals that I could accept. I know Mac is a “politician”, and everything dirty and wrong that term brings with it, and I accept him for it. But it cracks me up that oh so many people thought Obama wasnt going to be that type of “politician”.

    Well quess what America, and the world, things for the next 4 years will be status quo here in the good ole USA.

  32. Barack Earl Jefferson Kennedy will make disappoint many of the true believers, methinks.

    It’s almost as though the system isn’t designed to accept change quickly or something…

  33. Oboy, oracles.

  34. Will: Sure, you can define “not considering the possibility that you’re wrong” to constitute insanity. And maybe there is no one who is clinically sane (for want of a better term) who never considers the possibility. But there are plenty of people who appear to be sane who apparently never seriously think about the possibility that their beliefs, especially deeply held ones, are wrong.

  35. Eric: That’s actually a big subject; I’ll try to remember to do a post on it.

    Will and Carol: This is interesting, to be sure. On the one hand, there are echoes of of the old, “Only the insane don’t question their sanity,” which any mental health professional will tell you is rubbish: many perfectly sane people do not question their sanity, and many, perhaps most psychotics do, indeed, wonder if they have lost touch with reality.

    But at a more significant level, just what is going on here? “My viewpoint is that when you want to share knowledge, you START with the presumption that it is just possible that you are wrong.”

    What does this mean, exactly? All knowledge, after all, is not the same. There are tautologies: 2+2=cliche. Might it be wrong? Of course not; it’s a tautology. It doesn’t tell us anything wrong any more than it tells us anything new.

    Then there is the knowledge that “I” exist. To entertain the possibility that you are wrong, is to entertain the possibility that the most extreme subjective idealists are right. I beg to submit that you, Carol, are really, really sure you exist, and you question it only on the level of playing mental games with yourself, if that.

    Do we wish to consider the possibility that the real world is, in fact, a figment of our imagination, and thus we cannot “know” that the world around us exists? Okay, enjoy; but don’t try to do that at the same time you’re entertaining the possibility that you don’t exist, or you might hurt yourself.

    So, we have tautologies, we have objective reality. Then things get more complex, and, it seems, you are arguing that somewhere along the way, probably related how likely you are meet disagreement, you ought to be presuming that you might be wrong.

    I question this entire approach.

    I suspect there is a tendency here to go, “I get really annoyed with those asshole evangelists who seem so SURE about things that are clearly nonsense. To be consistent, I must, therefore, object to anyone who is sure about anything, otherwise I’m being hypocritical.” If you couple that with a personal distaste for, and an extreme sensitivity to arrogance or anything that smells like it might be arrogance, then it’s pretty easy to try to lay down an absolute rule like, when arguing with someone, you should start with the presumption that you might be wrong.

    The evangelists, you see, rely on the word of God, more or less reinterpreted by themselves, and ask you to believe in either their interpretation, or in the word itself. But if one is to “patiently explain” why it is dangerous to think Obama might be working in our interests, we cannot rely on authority, the argument itself, based on facts and carefully built conclusions, must be convincing. In such a case, the issue of whether the person doing the arguing says, “In my opinion,” or, “so far as I can tell,” is beside the point; it becomes a question of style, not substance, which I think is correct. Give me the facts, give me the conclusions; I don’t much care one way or the other about how sure YOU are of them.

    At least, that’s how it seems to me. But I might be wrong, of course.

  36. Mr. Brust, I thank you for condescending to notice my question, and I look forward to your answer. I would tack on the question of whether you have an actual system for determining these names?

    As to politics, well, I will defer to the memory of my mother, who in her abruptly ended 53 years, managed to point out something really important about families, which is this: “Yes, okay, okay, but for right now can we just have a nice Christmas?” To which I can find no real rebuttal, nor would I wish to argue with her.

  37. Ahh religion. The root cause of more bloodshed and tyranny than any other concept. It really makes one think if we would have been better off without the idea of religion, throughout history. Religion has brought a certain amount of kindness and morality to the world, but the key problem is that they are inherently intolerant of other religions.

    The “word of god” may be perfect and incorruptible, but it is a thing translated countless different ways by man and therefore flawed. Why can’t we just love and respect one another without a book telling us that we need to? I look forward to the day.

  38. @37
    Wow that first sentence is ridiculous. Do you think without religion we’d have world peace and wonderful governments and hugs and rainbows forever and ever?

    I would say that things like population pressure, economic pressure, limited resources, real estate, etc etc all outweigh religion.

    Sure, religion is a great rallying cry and motivator, but in no way is it the “root cause of more bloodshed and tyranny than any other concept.”

  39. Christian, religion is just one excuse of many, and if you look at history, it was rarely the most prominent excuse. The reason for bloodshed and tyranny is simple: greed. Wars of acquisition are all from greed. Popular revolutions are usually against situations created by greed. Show me a war where greed was not the primary factor, and I’ll be grateful. But even if you can do that, I’ll only have an exception to the rule.

  40. I will agree that greed, as a base concept, is the primary factor. In my zeal I was not descriptive enough in my thoughts. So put another way, religion is the root tool used to cause more bloodshed and tyranny than any other means.

    Again, if religion was uncorrupted by man it would be a pleasing idea. Or should I say ideal.

    Dont get me wrong, I am a deeply spiritual person. But I dont need a book to tell me that killing my neighbor and sleeping with his dog is a bad thing (confusing on person).

  41. Christian, religion’s not about morality, though few religious people would admit that. It’s about community. I was baffled by how little attention religious people pay to their texts until I realized that.

  42. Uh, Will? Don’t you think that religion is a sufficiently complex subject that it might be about any number of things? It is pretty clear that religion is about morality to many people; it’s just that, for many American Christians, it’s about their neighbor’s morality.

  43. It seems I have to break out my old Who albums every election to remind people that there is no such thing as change:

    Meet the new boss. Same as the old boss.

  44. Wow, what a dust-up.

    To me this seems like a critique of Nero’s music while Rome burns. Not that music criticism is unimportant, or that citizens should accept every lie offered, but there are bigger issues here.

    At the moment, the economy of the globe is wrecked, and getting out of it will be a bear we won’t fight. It took the WPA and every other Depression era program + World War II (including lend-lease) + the Marshall Plan to get the global economy going the last time things got this bad. Only now there is a much more complete integration of the various national and transnational economies such that unless damn near all recover, none will. Just as clearly, the health care and public education systems are broken as well, with the needed overhauls ideologically outre.

    In another vernacular, the capitalists had so bankrupted the bourgeoisie that some of them were beginning to throw in their lot with the workers in the 1930s. It took a massive redistribution of income and increase in wages to both restore faith (false consciousness) in the capitalist system and to bribe the workers with more stuff which their higher wages enabled them to enjoy on their longer vacations. (Eduard Bernstein won bigger than anyone could have dreamed.) But now the proletariat is not just in the industrialized West, it is now in places like China as well (where the lid is rattling), so it’s going to take the same kind of program (WPA ++ and WWII and MP) on a GLOBAL scale to get buy-in back (restore false consciousness) from (in) the global proletariat. Good luck with that.

    But that’s short-term

    In a few years, the Boomers will retire and permanently muck-up the works of the national budgets of all Western “democracies.” Shortly thereafter (by the odds), the sea level will rise some inches to a few feet when big chunks of Antarctica start breaking off, and that in turn will inundate the major port cities of the globe. Kiss off the global economy at that moment and for years to come.

    So, sure Nero probably sucked as a fiddle player, and his choice of music might be called into question as well. If Obama’s cabinet picks are going to determine the direction of his administration, that sucks; and the choice of Rick Warren to deliver the inaugural invocation is perhaps the coup de grace.

    Until January 20th, however, there is actually no empirical evidence for what policies Obama will attempt to enact. Campaign statements are no more reliable than cabinet picks in proving what a newly elected executive will do (from Mayor on up). I have strong doubts that Obama will take any of the steps that need to be taken to fix problems in the short term, and just as little faith that he will take the sensible steps needed to avert the catastrophes that are clearly (shall I add, “to me,” Carol?) on the horizon.

    As Dostoesvky observes most acutely in The Brothers Karamazov, justice cannot be premised upon injustice, so ends cannot determine means. Thus, I wait with somewhat baited breath (but no significant hope) that Obama will enact policies that create more socially just world that will survive the coming challenges. Until then, I couldn’t give a tinker’s damn about Rick Warren delivering an invocation, or which politico sits where in the Cabinet.

  45. JP: I, on the other hand, care very much which politico sits where in the cabinet, because that is one of the ways we can estimate how directly, how strongly, and how quickly Obama will attack. And because I happen not to believe campaign promises, this does not mean I ought not to argue, using examples, with those who still believe them; quite the contrary. This is what B. Ross Ashley @ 10 meant by patiently explain.

  46. skzb: I hear you, I think, but do not agree. Having watched this thing from the very early days, my sense is there is a whole lot of Democratic Centralism inside team Obama. The discipline helped him win, and the instincts of the people who were most important in the show other than Obama (Plouffe and Axelrod) proved spot-on in their estimate of what it would take for him to win the election.

    If the Administration is run along the same lines, it would matter much more what decision is taken than who happens to be charged with carrying it out. Three cases: Salazar, Clinton, and Daschle.

    Salazar certainly has the ties to the oil & gas industry and others who would rape the landscape and seascape. He may be an advocate for their interests in the Cabinet. If he wins the argument, that would be a very bad thing. I see no particular reason to believe he would win the argument, though, and in that case he’s responsible for selling the policy to his buddies even though they won’t like it. An easier task for him than someone I would actually like in that position. He might try to pull a Cheney, sneak things in here and there, but I’d double dog dare him to try and expect to get away with it. The Obama transition people here (I work in downtown DC, live just outside, so guilty as charged on insiderism and all that may go with it) have been going deep into the woodwork to ferret out the Cheney termites and their matching pernicious policies, and that expertise will not go away. Democratic centralism is a reactive as well as proactive concept.

    Clinton is both extraordinarily ambitious and talented. Interesting thing about being SecState, though, you only have power when your interlocutor believes you speak for the President. Again, if the policy is set well at the top, doesn’t matter what she thinks, because if she isn’t backed every time someone tries to reach Obama over her head, she becomes ineffective. As her entire career in public life strongly suggests, power is more important to her than any principle. A double-edged sword, to be sure, but one that only has power in sync with the wielder (who must be sure it does not bite him). Appointing Susan Rice UN Ambassador and explicitly giving her cabinet rank is another check on Clinton — he can always go through Rice if he doesn’t trust her, and the reverse is also true. Rice and Clinton don’t agree on much, so that will be interesting.

    Daschle is the ultimate insider, which is why he comes in. More progressive by a touch than many in the Cabinet, he has the capacity to pull a more subtle version of the kind of political stunts Johnson used to pull when he wanted something from Congress. His explicit job is get health care reform done, and there is every reason to believe that something will get done. The question, of course, is what. Of all the stuff outlined in the campaign, this is the one that probably comes closest to real predictor of the basic direction of policy.

    Again, I’m not particularly optimistic that the necessary things will be done. Given the very tight message control of the Obama campaign, I have every reason to believe he has a good chance to achieve what he sets out to achieve, and see his choices as well-positioned to take on the entrenched interests that will get in the way of any serious change. I just strongly doubt that he has what it takes even from a mental perspective to take the necessary steps. Then again, maybe his years as a community organizer were more formative than not, in which case he’s now “the man” he has to lobby.

    Time alone will show what direction it all goes.

    I’d rather provide to workers an accurate picture of the landscape as it exists, and let them form their own impressions about what is happening, why, and what to do about it. Gramsci was ever more right than uncle Karl about how to break false consciousness, and it has naught to do with members of the petit bourgeoisie doing the communicating. Point for uncle Karl, though, if the proper steps are not taken to shore up the capitalist system, the collapse will approach the type of totally bottomed-out swing in the business cycle that he believed would be the harbinger of revolution. It is at that point that the organic intellectuals may find a forum — initially perhaps within something like the SEIU — to spark a growing true consciousness. It is then that the likes of us can take the injunction of the Eleventh Thesis on Feuerbach to heart.

    If the ideology that Franz and Kelly and Natalia et. al. tried to bring the the Empire is truly suited to the world it came from, maybe we’ll see some things come to pass.

    Not trying to convince, really — though that would be cool — so much as trying to detail why I wrote what I did.

  47. Steve @ 42, I think you, with little experience of churches, underestimate the role of community. When morals are imposed, they tend to be the community’s, not the religion’s. That’s why religious folk are often surprised when they learn what is and isn’t in their texts, and why major religions are awfully selective about the parts of the text they use. The text is just something to wave when you’re angry at someone who said Mohammad didn’t shave his body or Sodom and Gomorrah has nothing to do with homosexuality. When Popes called for war, they sought palaces, not souls.

    JP, thanks for reminding me that I wasn’t insane in the days when I liked Daschle. Though I’m not as optimistic as I would like to be about the form of health care he’ll give us—I think they’ve talked so much about this that they have to give us something, but I don’t expect it to be all that we need.

  48. JP: I see where you’re coming from; but it seems to me that not only do cabinet appointments show what areas of expertise the executive is interested in, they also serve to indicate to the bourgeoisie just what the plans are–and it is here that it seems significant (not to mention sinister) that the defense team was praised so highly by Chaney.

    Will: I believe that tends to be more true in America (and, in particular, parts of America) than world-wide. The determining of morality and the expression of morality are not either/or, but interact in complex and interesting ways. Didn’t you read Kautsy’s Foundations of Christianity? Consider the changes in belief systems propagated by the 3rd Century Church in order to make palatable the 3rd Century feudal monarchy. Then look at the relationship between the rise of Lutheranism and the downfall of feudal property relations. Moral systems and economics and political structures play among each other, and churches sit in the middle whipsawing cause and effect.

  49. Steve, I should read that.

    I’m not denying that religion is used to subjugate once wars end. Anyone who reads the Cyrus cylinder with a cynical eye knows that’s an old practice: God(s) wanted you to lose and us to win.

    But using religion after a war to confuse and control the populace doesn’t make it a reason for war. Greed stays the reason.

    Though we quibble about the effect of religion in beginning wars, I completely agree that state religion is used to control states. Which, you know, sucks.

  50. skzb: You may very well be right about how the Cabinet picks may be interpreted by the bourgeoisie. Though I try to prepare for the worst, I do have two children and so try to maintain some hope, however unjustified. So, perhaps, rather than a sign to the capitalists of his intentions, the Cabinet picks are head fakes (to use a basketball term for our hoops pres-elect).

    Excellent call on Kautsky in the context of religion and community values. Not sure, though, that Will’s take applies particularly well in the U.S., so much as this country is just particular in having so many little sub-communities with their own churches. Still, this has to be one of the more marxian-literate blogs around.

    One of the really interesting things about the failure of the U.S. public education system, combined with the explosion of media outlets, is that the inculcation in the social religion isn’t succeeding very well. The symbols by which the elite manipulate opinion don’t work well on the youngest adult generation — lots of empirical data out there on this.

    That generation, of course, went heavily and strongly for Obama. If they turn on him (as they will if you are correct and my hopes are indeed ill-founded), we may take a few hints from the goings on Greece these days as to what may unfold here in mid-2010 or early 2011.

  51. I’m wondering if the President-elect isn’t giving a wink and nod to every political group in the country, making everybody think that regardless of what he has said or whom he has appointed he is really on “their” side. This is just politics, though; I’ll bet the further to the left you are the happier you will be with the real decisions coming out of Washington DC as time goes on, regardless of who has what titles.

    And remember, who is appointed to the Supreme Court is more important than all the rest of this political stuff.

  52. dvcastle,

    ‘Ware casual definitions of left and right. The political discourse that talks of “left” and “right” osbfuscates more than it illumines.

    ACLU-left cares more deeply about the Supreme Court than “all the rest of this political stuff,” with a few exceptions which in an case it believes the Supreme Court should dictate policy on.

    It matters very much indeed, to me, what policies are pursued. I think many others in this thread have expressed the same opinion. Yet between us our expectations/hopes/requirements/demands on policy issues diverge somewhat, though I’d think we’re all left — of the kind that has been called an infantile disorder

  53. Steve, I don’t give much thought to whether I exist or not. (Even without getting into a discussion of what we mean by “exist.”) I can’t come up with any explanation for the phenomenon of my interacting with the universe other than that I “exist,” and the universe does too, but there may be another explanation. In this as in everything, I do the best I can with the observations, experiences, and knowledge I have up to this moment.

    I don’t exactly object to people being sure about things; it’s more that I’m wary of it.

    I tend not to lay down absolute rules, for myself or anyone else.

    I’m not sure you got the point of my comment about “patiently explain to the workers,” but I think Will did. I wasn’t complaining about the sharing of information, even believing one is absolutely correct, but the way it is done. “Patiently explain to the workers,” as if there were no possibility of their arriving at the information on their own.

  54. Carol, few people arrive at information on their own. I know I generally learned what I know from others. Information needs to be shared. If that wasn’t true, no one would ever bother to repress it.

  55. JP ~ you are correct, terms like left or right are a bit lazy. I should have written if you prefer Government intervention like the Alliance in Firefly, then you are going to love what’s coming.

  56. Uh, in #54, that should be “suppress,” not “repress.” Write late, regret early…

  57. I can only give my opinion, and I’m not sure how much it reflects the other people outraged over the appointment, but for what it’s worth:

    When Obama was elected, but not only Prop 8 but multiple anti-gay initiatives on more than just marriage issues were passed, I considered it at best a mixed result, leaning towards the bad.

    Then, almost every one of my non-gay liberal friends had the same reaction, almost verbatim: “That’s really sad and wrong, but it will be reversed in a few years. Right now, we’ve got so much to be thankful for.” I tried to imagine the left being so philisophical and dismissive if Obama had been elected, but multiple states had outlawed abortion. Of course not, the entire left would be outraged and mobilized.

    So, we’ve got an active and successful targetted attack on gay rights, mobilized in many places on multiple fronts. Obama’s position already makes clear we can expect sympathetic noises and not much more on gay issues. And the rest of the “liberal alliance” can’t even be bothered to SOUND outraged, let alone move to action.

    And, at least for me, that’s why I scream louder at gay issues, and focus on them more; because I can’t trust anyone else to do it. Every ounce of energy I move from gay issues to something else is an ounce of energy no one else is going to replace.

    I don’t think anyone, left or right, has realized just how explosively angry the gay community is right now. And if people aren’t as angry about the issues closest to their hearts: well, tough.

  58. You speak for me, Dave. The absence of dismay and anger in my circle of friends and family sickens me. I don’t want war over any less. I don’t want women’s rights ignored. I want children to be fed, sheltered and educated. I want the marriage to my spouse to be legal in this country and I want it right now. Here’s a question: If people were not homophobic, would that be the last way in which it is o. k. to hate? It seems that it is o. k. to hate homosexuals.

  59. “If people were not homophobic, would that be the last way in which it is o. k. to hate? It seems that it is o. k. to hate homosexuals.”

    That depends on what you mean by “hate.” Like many other words (“fascist” “racist”), it has become a word that has seen its meaning bleed away from overuse. When it becomes obvious and cliche to point out that “hate” no longer means “has a dangerously aggressive anitpathy for”, but instead “has an opinion which I do not share” then we shall find ourselves wondering why “hate” crimes should be against the law.

    Unintended consequences, they is a bitch.

  60. Can anyone suggest a good book on socialism? Something still in print and an easy-ish read? I read Marx’s Communist Manifesto years ago, but I don’t have a good book on socialism to arm me in future arguments.

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