Why Obama is a phony

11-25-2008, 03:04 PM
World-renowned public intellectual Noam Chomsky discussed the meaning of Obamaís victory and the possibilities ahead for real democratic change at a recent address in Boston. Chomsky has been a professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for over a half-century and is the author of dozens of influential books on US foreign policy, the role of intellectuals, and the function of mass media. In his first public appearance since the election Professor Chomsky spoke last week to a packed audience in Boston at an event organized by ďEncuentro 5.Ē His talk was titled ďWhat Next? The Elections, the Economy, and the World.Ē

NOAM CHOMSKY: Well, letís begin with the elections. The word that the rolls off of everyoneís tongue is historic. Historic election. And I agree with it. It was a historic election. To have a black family in the white house is a momentous achievement. In fact, itís historic in a broader sense. The two Democratic candidates were an African-American and a woman. Both remarkable achievements. We go back say 40 years, it would have been unthinkable. So somethingís happened to the country in 40 years. And whatís happened to the country- which is weíre not supposed to mention- is that there was extensive and very constructive activism in the 1960s, which had an aftermath. So the feminist movement, mostly developed in the 70s-Ėthe solidarity movements of the 80ís and on till today. And the activism did civilize the country. The countryís a lot more civilized than it was 40 years ago and the historic achievements illustrate it. Thatís also a lesson for whatís next.

Whatís next will depend on whether the same thing happens. Changes and progress very rarely are gifts from above. They come out of struggles from below. And the answer to whatís next depends on people like you. Nobody else can answer it. Itís not predictable. In some ways, the electionóthe election was surprising in some respects.

Going back to my bad prediction, If the financial crisis hadnít taken place at the moment that it did, if it had been delayed a couple of months, I suspect that prediction would have been correct. But not speculating, one thing surprising about the election was that it wasnít a landslide.
bq. By the usual criteria, you would expect the opposition party to win in a landslide under conditions like the ones that exist today. The incumbent president for eight years was so unpopular that his own party couldnít mention his name and had to pretend to be opposing his policies. He presided over the worst record for ordinary people in post-war history, in terms of job growth, real wealth and so on. Just about everything the administration was touched just turned into a disaster. [The] country has reached the lowest level of standing in the world that itís ever had. The economy was tanking. Several recessions are going on. Not just the ones on the front pages, the financial recession. Thereís also a recession in the real economy. The productive economy, under circumstances and people know it. So 80% of the population say that the countryís going in the wrong direction. About 80% say the government doesnít work to the benefit of the people, it works for the few and the special interests. A startling 94% complain that the government doesnít pay any attention to the public will, and on like that. Under conditions like that, you would expect a landslide to a opposition almost whoever they are. And there wasnít one.

So one might ask why wasnít there a landslide? That goes off in an interesting direction. And other respects the outcome was pretty familiar. So once again, the election was essentially bought. 9 out of 10 of the victors outspent their opponents. Obama of course outspent McCain. If you look at theóand we donít have final records yet from the final results, but theyíre probably going to be pretty much like the preliminaries a couple of months ago. Which showed that both Obama and McCain were getting the bulk of their financing from the financial institutions and for Obama, law firms which means essentially lobbyists. That was about over a third a few months ago. But the final results will probably be the same. And there is aóthe distribution of funding has over time been a pretty good predictor of what policies will be like for those of you who are interested, thereís very good scholarly work on this by Tom Ferguson in Umass Boston, what he calls the investment theory of politics. Which argues essentially that elections are moments when groups of investors coalesce and invest to control the state and has quite the substantial predictive success. Gives some suggestion as to whatís likely to happen. So that partís familiar. Theówhat the future is as I say, depends on people like you.

The response for the election was interesting and instructive. It kept pretty much to the soaring rhetoric, to borrow the clichť, that was the major theme of the election. The election was described as an extraordinary display of democracy, a miracle that could only happen in America and on and on. Much more extreme than Europe even than here. Thereís some accuracy in that if we keep to the West. So if we keep to the West, yes, itís probably true. That couldnít have happened anywhere else. Europe was much more racist than the United States and you wouldnít expect anything like that to happen.

On the other hand, if you look at the world, itís not that remarkable. So letís take the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Haiti and Bolivia. In Haiti, there was an election in 1990 which really was an extraordinary display of democracy much more so than this.

In Haiti, there were grassroots movements, popular movements that developed in the slums and the hills, which nobody was paying any attention to. And they managed, even without any resources, to sweep into power their own candidate. A populist priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide. Thatís a victory for democracy when popular movements can organize and set programs and pick their candidate and put them into office, which is not what happened here, of course.

I mean, Obama did organize a large number of people and many enthusiastic people in whatís called in the press, Obamaís Army. But the army is supposed to take instructions, not to implement, introduce, develop programs and call on its own candidate to implement them. Thatís critical. If the army keeps to that condition, nothing much will change. If it on the other hand goes away activists did in the sixties, a lot can change. Thatís one of the choices that has to be made. Thatís Haiti. Of course that didnít last very long. A couple of months later, there was military coup, a period of terror, we wonít go through the whole record. Up the present, the traditional torturers of Haiti, France, and the United States have made sure that there wonít be a victory for democracy there. Itís a miserable story. Contrary to many illusions.

Take the second poorest country, Bolivia. They had an election in 2005 thatís almost unimaginable in the West. Certainly here, anywhere. The person elected into office was indigenous. Thatís the most oppressed population in the hemisphere, those who survived. Heís is a poor peasant. How did he get in? Well, he got in because there were again, a mass popular movement, which elected their own representative. And they are the source of the programs, which are serious ones. Thereís real issues, And people know them. Control over resources, cultural rights, social justice and so on.

Furthermore, the election was just an event that was particular stage in a long continuing struggle, a lot before and a lot after. There was day when people pushed the levers but thatís just an event in ongoing popular struggles, very serious ones. A couple of years ago, there was a major struggle over privatization of water. An effort which it would in effect deprive a good part of the population of water to drink. And it was a bitter struggle. A lot of people were killed, but they won it. Through international solidarity, in fact, which helped. And it continues. Now thatís a real election. Again, the plans, the programs are being developed, acted on constantly by mass popular movements, which then select their own representatives from their own ranks to carry out their programs. And thatís quite different from what happened here.

Actually what happened here is understood by elite elements. The public relations industry which runs elections here-quadrennial extravaganzas essentially- makes sure to keep issues in the margins and focus on personalities and character and so onĖand-so forth. They do that for good reasons. They know- they look at public opinion studies and they know perfectly well that on a host of major issues both parties are well to the right of the population. Thatís one good reason to keep issues off the table. And they recognize the success.

So, every year, the advertising industry gives a prize to, you know, to the best marketing campaign of the year. This year, Obama won the prize. Beat out Apple company. The best marketing campaign of 2008. Which is correct, it is essentially what happened. Now thatís quite different from what happens in a functioning democracy like say Bolivia or Haiti, except for the fact that it was crushed. And in the South, itís not all that uncommon. Notice that each of these cases, thereís a much more extraordinary display of democracy in action than what weíve seenĖimportant as it was-here. And so the rhetoric, especially in Europe is correct if we maintain our own narrow racist perspective and say yeah, what happened was in the South didnít happen or doesnít matter. The only matters is what we do and by our standards, it was extraordinary miracle, but not by the standards of functioning democracy. In fact, thereís a distinction in democratic theory, which does separate say the United States from Bolivia or Haiti.

Question is what is a democracy supposed to be? Thatís exactly a debate that goes back to the constitutional convention. But in recent years in the 20th century, itís been pretty well articulated by important figures. So at the liberal end the progressive end, the leading public intellectual of the 20th century was Walter Lippman. A Wilson, Roosevelt, Kennedy progressive. And a lot of his work was on a democratic theory and he was pretty frank about it. If you took a position not all that different from James Madisonís. He said that in a democracy, the population has a function. Its function is to be spectators, not participants. He didnít call it the population. He called it the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders. The ignorant and meddlesome outsiders have a function and namely to watch whatís going on. And to push a lever every once in a while and then go home. But, the participants are us, us privileged, smart guys. Well thatís one conception of democracy. And you know essentially weíve seen an episode of it. The population very often doesnít accept this. As I mentioned, just very recent polls, people overwhelmingly oppose it. But theyíre atomized, separated. Many of them feel hopeless, unorganized, and donít feel they can do anything about it. So they dislike it. But thatís where it ends.

In a functioning democracy like say Bolivia or the United States in earlier stages, they did something about it. Thatís why we have the New Deal measures, the Great Society measures. In fact just about any step, you know, womenís rights, end of slavery, go back as far as you like, it doesnít happen as a gift. And itís not going to happen in the future. The commentators are pretty well aware of this. They donít put it the way Iím going to, but if you read the press, it does come out. So take our local newspaper at the liberal end of the spectrum, ďBoston Globe,Ē you probably saw right after the election, a front page story, the lead front page story was on how Obama developed this wonderful grassroots army but he doesnít have any debts. Which supposed to be a good thing. So heís free to do what he likes. Because he has no debts, the normal democratic constituency, labor, women, minorities and so on, they didnít bring him into office. So he owes them nothing

NOAM CHOMSKY: What he had was an army that he organized of people who got out the vote for Obama. For what the press calls, Brand Obama. They essentially agree with the advertisers, itís brand Obama. That his army was mobilized to bring him to office. They regard that as a good thing, accepting the Lippman conception of democracy, the ignorant and meddlesome outsiders are supposed to do what theyíre told and then go home. The Wall Street Journal, at the opposite end of the spectrum, also had an article about the same thing at roughly the same time. Talked about the tremendous grassroots army that has been developed, which is now waiting for instructions. What should they do next to press forward Obamaís agenda? Whatever that is. But whatever it is, the armyís supposed to be out there taking instructions, and press work. Los Angeles Times had similar articles, and there are others. What they donít seem to realize is what theyíre describing, the ideal of what theyíre describing, is dictatorship, not democracy. Democracy, at least not in the Lippman sense, it proved- I pick him out because heís so famous, but itís a standard position. But in the sense of say, of [South America], where mass popular movements developed programs; organize to take part in elections but thatís one part of an ongoing process. And brings somebody from their own ranks to implement the programs that they develop, and if the person doesnít theyíre out. Ok, thatís another kind of democracy. So itís up to us to choose which kind of democracy we want. And again, that will determine what comes next.

Well, what can we anticipate if the popular army, the grassroots army, decides to accept the function of spectators of action rather than participants? Thereís two kinds of evidence. Thereís rhetoric and thereís action. The rhetoric, you know, is very uplifting: change, hope, and so on. Change was kind of reflective any party manager this year who read the polls, including the ones I cited, would instantly conclude that our theme in the election has to be change. Because people hate whatís going on for good reasons. So the theme is change. In fact, both parties put both of them, the theme was change. So the theme is change. In fact both parties, both of them the theme was change. You know, break from the past, none of old politics, new things are going to happen. The Obama campaign did better so they won the marketing award, not the McCain campaign.

And notice incidentally on the side that the institutions that run the elections, public relations industry, advertisers, they have a roleótheir major role is commercial advertising. I mean, selling a candidate is kind of a side rule. In commercial advertising as everybody knows, everybody who has ever looked at a television program, the advertising is not intended to provide information about the product, all right? I donít have to go on about that. Itís obvious. The point of the advertising is to delude people with the imagery and, you know, tales of a football player, sexy actress, who you know, drives to the moon in a car or something like that. But, thatís certainly not to inform people. In fact, itís to keep people uninformed.

The goal of advertising is to create uninformed consumers who will make irrational choices. Those of you who suffered through an economics course know that markets are supposed to be based on informed consumers making rational choices. But industry spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year to undermine markets and to ensure, you know, to get uninformed consumers making irrational choices.

And when they turn to selling a candidate they do the same thing. They want uninformed consumers, you know, uninformed voters to make irrational choices based on the success of illusion, slander, and effective body language or whatever else is supposed to be significant. So you undermine democracy pretty much the same way you undermine markets. Well, thatís the nature of an election when itís run by the business world, and youíd expect it to be like that. There should be no surprise there. And it should also turn out the elected candidate didnít have any debts. So you can follow Brand Obama can be whatever they decide it to be, not what the population decides that it should be, as in the south, letís say. Iím going to say on the side, this may be an actual instance of a familiar and unusually vacuous slogan about the clash of civilization. Maybe there really is one, but not the kind thatís usually touted.

So letís go back to the evidence that we have, rhetoric and actions. Rhetoric we know, but what are the actions? So far the major actions are selections, in fact the only action, of personnel to implement Brand Obama. The first choice was the Vice President, Joe Biden, one of the strongest supporters of the war in Iraq in the Senate, a long time Washington insider rarely deviates from the party vote. In cases where he does deviate theyíre not very uplifting. He did break from the party and voting for a Senate resolution that prevented people from getting rid of their debts by, individuals, that is, from getting rid of their debts by going into bankruptcy. Itís a blow against poor people whoíve caught in this immense debt thatís a large part of the basis for the economy these days. But usually, heís a, kind of, straight party-liner with the democrats on the sort of ultra naturalist side. The choice of Biden was a, must have been a conscious attempt to show contempt for the base of people who were voting for Obama, or organizing for him as an anti-war candidate.

Well, the first post-election appointment was for Chief of Staff, which is a crucial appointment; determines a large part of the presidentís agenda. That was Rahm Emanuel, one of the strongest supporters of the war in Iraq in the House. In fact, he was the only member of the Illinois delegation who voted for Bushís effective declaration of war. And, again, a longtime Washington insider. Also, one of the leading recipients in congress of funding from the financial institutions hedge funds and so on. He himself was an investment banker. Thatís his background. So, thatís the Chief of Staff.

The next group of appointments were the main problem, the primary issue that the governmentsí going to have to face is what to do about the financial crisis. Obamaís choices to more or less run this were Robert Rubin and Larry Summers from the Clinton--Secretaries of Treasury under Clinton. They are among the people who are substantially responsible for the crisis. One leading economist, one of the few economists who has been right all along in predicting whatís happening, Dean Baker, pointed out that selecting them is like selecting Osama Bin Laden to run the war on terror.

Yeah, Iíll finish. This saves me the problem of whatís coming next, so Iíll finish with the elections. Let me make one final comment on this. There was meeting on November 7, I think of a group of couple, of a dozen advisers to deal with the financial crisis. Their careers were, records were reviewed in the business press, and Bloomberg News had an article reviewing their records and concluded that these people, most of these people shouldnít be giving advice about the economy. They should be given subpoenas.


Because most of them were involved in one or other form of financial fraud, that includes Rahm Emanuel, for example. What reason is there to think that the people who brought this crisis about are some how going to fix it? Well, thatís a good indication of whatís likely to come next, at least if we look at actions. We couldnít, but it wonít. You can bring this up. Ask what we expect to see in particular cases. And thereís evidence about that from statements from Obamaís website. Iíll mention just one thing about Obamaís website, which gives an indication of whatís happening. One of the major problems coming is Afghanistan and Pakistan. Thatís pretty serious. Take a look at Obamaís website under issues, foreign policy issues. The names donít even appear. I mean, weíre supposed to be ignorant and meddlesome outsiders. Weíre not supposed to know what Brand Obama is. So you canít find out that way. The statements that you hear are pretty hawkish. And it doesnít change much as you go through the list. Iíll wrap up here. So itís up to you to continue.

11-25-2008, 03:16 PM
what the hell? :lol:

11-25-2008, 03:17 PM
He will achieve 50% more for the people than the Bush adminstration, this is all that matters.

11-25-2008, 03:36 PM
But I thought he was going to put an end to war and hunger, and cure all the world's diseases. :sad:

Sunset of Age
11-25-2008, 03:49 PM
:scratch: PD's second account?

11-25-2008, 03:50 PM
But I thought he was going to put an end to war and hunger, and cure all the world's diseases. :sad:

Obama might of been the 2nd comming in disguise.:angel:

11-25-2008, 03:57 PM
Welcome back undiomele, MTF's resident know-it-all. A legend in her own tiny mind. Guess you are coming out of hiding now that the ACC is over.

So, what ever happened to the great recession of September 2007?
You called me stupid for not knowing that the US was in recession 14 months ago. Well, now that a recession appears to have arrived, is this another one or are you just going to pretend your dumb anti-US posts of 2007 were actually ahead of their time? Well, sorry, but a recession exists in real time, you can't pretend you were just ahead of everyone else in your desperation to see the US in trouble.

I think everybody here knows that you are the real phony.

11-25-2008, 04:02 PM
Recession doesnt affect members of MTF or middle/lower class society, the people who are worried are the fat cats with deep pockets and illegal savings in corrupt government funded banks.

11-25-2008, 04:04 PM
Having now skimmed through the above piece I can only conclude that undiomele and Chomsky are pissed because Obama is not going to follow the political lead of Hugo Chavez and put Washinton DC on a course leading to the streets piled high with garbage, as is the case, apparently, in Caracas.
But Hugo is on maneouvres with the Russian navy, why worry about the situation in Caracas?

11-25-2008, 04:06 PM
Recession doesnt affect members of MTF or middle/lower class society, the people who are worried are the fat cats with deep pockets and illegal savings in corrupt government funded banks.

Nonsense. One of the most frightening parts of the recession is the probable 10% unemployment rate in the lower/middle class.
However, nice that you don't consider MTF members in that group.

11-25-2008, 04:21 PM
Nonsense. One of the most frightening parts of the recession is the probable 10% unemployment rate in the lower/middle class.

Nonsense? Its true, why should lesser off people be worried about this? Money is unlimited isnt it?

The problem is who gets the most, thats why all this is happening, greed.

11-25-2008, 04:53 PM
tl; dr. Which is why I dropped linguistics theory like an STD-riddled whore once I cracked open Chomsky. There was always another drama class.

11-26-2008, 12:18 PM
I was just trying to stir up debate and introduce Noam to ppl who haven't come across him yet. ;) The man's a guru. :)

06-16-2009, 12:21 AM
Here's the recent Bill Maher critique. I have to say that much of it rang true. I'm a big admirer of Obama's intellect, poise, and general ideals, but I'm starting to feel the seeds of discontent on some domestic issues. I hope he will not simply compromise (or spend) his way into ineffectiveness.


06-16-2009, 01:52 AM
I'm all for change, especially from the nightmare Bush years, but Obama's actions or lack of actions lately, isn't making me very confident.

Thanks. I agree with the above, but non-tennis has been a desert since Obama took power. I guess for most MTFers it is still to early commit blasphemy.
I am starting to think the problem is that he believes so deeply in himself he is content to just sit back and admire himself perform. Style over substance.

One minute he is gushing about the wonderful vegetable garden on the White House lawn, which will be used to have his children eat healthy, the next moment he is doing a foto-op at a hamburger joint, ordering a big greasy burger with all the trimmings. The camera should then have cut back to the White House with Michelle and the kids munching on steamed broccoli.
Why not just get it over with and announce an Obama family reality show along the lines of the Osbournes? Anyone got a good title?

06-16-2009, 01:53 AM
Is it just tailored to me or does everybody get an ad at the top of the page offering relief from a tight foreskin?

06-16-2009, 02:01 AM
Thanks Q. I had not seen it in its entirety before. Seems like Mahr and I are on the same page as regards TV foto-ops.

06-16-2009, 01:10 PM
Chomsky knows his stuff.

That he gets critical reviews from many people is quite common, but that is his job, to be a critic of US domestic and foreign policy.

It's great that we have one of the most important intellectual's of all time speaking the truth and does not act like a brainwashed robot that keeps saying that everything America does is a marvel, and if you disagree you are "Anti-American", a very interesting term for those who care to take a look at its origins.

Great post undomiele. :yeah:

Bravo, Chomsky a rebel without a pause. :worship: :worship:

06-16-2009, 09:23 PM
Chomsky knows his stuff.

So it is FACT then???? OBAMA IS A PHONY

06-16-2009, 09:29 PM
It's great that we have one of the most important intellectual's of all time speaking the truth and does not act like a brainwashed robot

Maybe you are the robot for blindly accepting everything a left-wing appointed ''intellectual'' says as profound truth. After all, Sartre said that Che Guevara was ''the perfect man,'' one of the dumbest statements ever made.
But then I suppose Chomsky could top that by declaring Hugo Chavez the perfect man. It amuses me that both you and undiomele feel the need to say something like ''most important intellectual of all time'' every time you mention his name, almost as if you are afraid people might forget it if it is not drummed into our heads.

Certainly, from his comments on Haiti in the above article, I would say that everything he says should be seen in the context of his anti-American agenda.

06-16-2009, 09:53 PM
but that is his job, to be a critic of US domestic and foreign policy.

He is actually a professor of linguistics.

06-17-2009, 04:44 AM
It's fine man, you don't have to like him.

Of course he is a professor of linguistics, but is most known for his political actcivism.

Even the New York Times, a magazine Chomsky has bitterly condemned numerous times, has called him "Arguably the Most Important Intellectual Alive".

They just like saying things like that about dissident professors all over America :rolleyes:

I agree with Chomsky of most of what he states, and in the area of Israel and Palestine Obama is definitely being a phony. Chomsky already warned that after all the rhetoric wore away his policies would mirror George W. Bush's in many ways, not only foreign policy wise.

06-17-2009, 01:18 PM
It's fine man, you don't have to like him.

What did you think of what he said about Haiti? How he could blame the Duvaliers, tontons and all those destroyed forests on France and the US is beyond my understanding.
Same thing goes for the Bolivian leader, Morales, who seems to be nothing more than a puppet of Chavez.

09-28-2009, 10:28 PM
Obama's smile is amazingly similar in 130 pictures taken at the Met recently.


09-28-2009, 11:54 PM

thats cause hes permanently enthusiastic individual.

09-29-2009, 11:21 PM
He's wearing a Hallowe'en Mask.