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Buying Brand Obama

Posted on May 3, 2009
AP photo / Charles Dharapak

Branding in action: President Barack Obama gestures during a town hall meeting in Fort Myers, Fla., in February to discuss the economy.

By Chris Hedges

Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.

What, for all our faith and hope, has the Obama brand given us? His administration has spent, lent or guaranteed $12.8 trillion in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street and insolvent banks in a doomed effort to reinflate the bubble economy, a tactic that at best forestalls catastrophe and will leave us broke in a time of profound crisis. Brand Obama has allocated nearly $1 trillion in defense-related spending and the continuation of our doomed imperial projects in Iraq, where military planners now estimate that 70,000 troops will remain for the next 15 to 20 years. Brand Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, including the use of drones sent on cross-border bombing runs into Pakistan that have doubled the number of civilians killed over the past three months. Brand Obama has refused to ease restrictions so workers can organize and will not consider single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. And Brand Obama will not prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, including the use of torture, and has refused to dismantle Bush’s secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus. 

Brand Obama offers us an image that appears radically individualistic and new. It inoculates us from seeing that the old engines of corporate power and the vast military-industrial complex continue to plunder the country. Corporations, which control our politics, no longer produce products that are essentially different, but brands that are different. Brand Obama does not threaten the core of the corporate state any more than did Brand George W. Bush. The Bush brand collapsed. We became immune to its studied folksiness. We saw through its artifice. This is a common deflation in the world of advertising. So we have been given a new Obama brand with an exciting and faintly erotic appeal. Benetton and Calvin Klein were the precursors to the Obama brand, using ads to associate themselves with risqué art and progressive politics. It gave their products an edge. But the goal, as with all brands, was to make passive consumers mistake a brand with an experience. 

“The abandonment of the radical economic foundations of the women’s and civil-rights movements by the conflation of causes that came to be called political correctness successfully trained a generation of activists in the politics of image, not action,” Naomi Klein wrote in “No Logo.”

Obama, who has become a global celebrity, was molded easily into a brand. He had almost no experience, other than two years in the Senate, lacked any moral core and could be painted as all things to all people. His brief Senate voting record was a miserable surrender to corporate interests. He was happy to promote nuclear power as “green” energy. He voted to continue the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He reauthorized the Patriot Act. He would not back a bill designed to cap predatory credit card interest rates. He opposed a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872. He refused to support the single-payer health care bill HR676, sponsored by Reps. Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers. He supported the death penalty. And he backed a class-action “reform” bill that was part of a large lobbying effort by financial firms. The law, known as the Class Action Fairness Act, would effectively shut down state courts as a venue to hear most class-action lawsuits and deny redress in many of the courts where these cases have a chance of defying powerful corporate challenges. 


Square, Site wide
While Gaza was being bombarded and hit with airstrikes in the weeks before Obama took office, “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel,” according to Seymour Hersh. Even his one vaunted anti-war speech as a state senator, perhaps his single real act of defiance, was swiftly reversed. He told the Chicago Tribune on July 27, 2004, that “there’s not that much difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who’s in a position to execute.” And unlike anti-war stalwarts like Kucinich, who gave hundreds of speeches against the war, Obama then dutifully stood silent until the Iraq war became unpopular.

Obama’s campaign won the vote of hundreds of marketers, agency heads and marketing-services vendors gathered at the Association of National Advertisers’ annual conference in October. The Obama campaign was named Advertising Age’s marketer of the year for 2008 and edged out runners-up Apple and Take it from the professionals. Brand Obama is a marketer’s dream. President Obama does one thing and Brand Obama gets you to believe another. This is the essence of successful advertising. You buy or do what the advertiser wants because of how they can make you feel. 

Celebrity culture has leeched into every aspect of our culture, including politics, to bequeath to us what Benjamin DeMott called “junk politics.” Junk politics does not demand justice or the reparation of rights. Junk politics personalizes and moralizes issues rather than clarifying them. “It’s impatient with articulated conflict, enthusiastic about America’s optimism and moral character, and heavily dependent on feel-your-pain language and gesture,” DeMott noted. The result of junk politics is that nothing changes – “meaning zero interruption in the processes and practices that strengthen existing, interlocking systems of socioeconomic advantage.” It redefines traditional values, tilting “courage toward braggadocio, sympathy toward mawkishness, humility toward self-disrespect, identification with ordinary citizens toward distrust of brains.” Junk politics “miniaturizes large, complex problems at home while maximizing threats from abroad. It’s also given to abrupt unexplained reversals of its own public stances, often spectacularly bloating problems previously miniaturized.” And finally, it “seeks at every turn to obliterate voters’ consciousness of socioeconomic and other differences in their midst.” 

Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt, By Chris Hedges, Truthdig Columnist and Winner of the Pulitzer Prize -- Get Your Autographed Copy Today Also Available! Truthdig Exclusive DVD of Chris Hedges' Wages of Rebellion Lecture The World As It Is: 
Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress: A collection of Truthdig Columns, by Chris Hedges -- Get Your Autographed Copy Today

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By HonestJohn, May 5, 2009 at 6:06 am Link to this comment

Job well done….I will be watching Adam Curtis’s documentary,  and already like what I see….we all have to really look at why we see things they way we do, as we have been “programmed” all our lives by what we watch on TV, what we read in newspapers and magazines, what we eat, and how we live in a “democracy”....Thanks

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By ardee, May 5, 2009 at 3:48 am Link to this comment

Virginia posts:

“We’ve learned the Republicans are world criminals. Now we’re forced to confront the sad reality the Democrats are just as bad.”

Comments like this one are exactly why I can’t stand Hedges article.

What a load of crap!! (and most definitely, not true)”

I would offer that history itself is the greatest opponent of this denial of fact.

1. the Democrats voted for or otherwise went along with everything the Bush administration wanted.
2. upon assuming a majority the first thing your beloved party did was take impeachment off the table.
3.upon assuming the White House your favorite democrat retained a Bush appointee at Defense, a man who almost single handedly politicized intel while at the CIA.
4. Obama went on to appoint DINO’s like Summers and Geithner, and, even before election, rushed back to Washington to pimp for the outrageous TARP payments, handing money to the very people who caused this economic meltdown.
5.While calling for the closure of Guantanemo and the end to torture he retained the practice of sending prisoners off to other nations to do our torture for us, often with CIA personnel present.
6. Federal Judges have cited extreme surprise at the positions of Obama lawyers mirroring those of the former Bush lawyers in Federal Courts.
7. One of his first acts was to escalate the ridiculous War on Terror and put more of our children in harms way in what is basically a strategy that increases resistance instead of decreasing it.

I could go on, probably to the limit of this post in fact, but I would note that Obama has also begun policies and practices of which I approve of course, and I await the words to translate into deeds. But the diatribes you post against those who criticize are far from helpful, especially as you fail to put any meat within them.

“Mere unorthodoxy or dissent from prevailing mores is not to be condemned. The absence of such voices would be a symptom of grave illness in our society.”  Earl Warren

“Institutions are, in a moral sense, impotent unless they are supported by the sense of responsibility of living individuals.”
Albert Einstein

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By prole, May 5, 2009 at 1:52 am Link to this comment

From ‘Necessary Illusions’ to “deadly illusions”, Hedges goes Chomsky one better. The touching idealism implicit in such notions is perhaps the greatest illusion of all and is shared by many on the intellectual Left. How else can those who believe in the illusion of the virtue of the people explain the reality of the conspicuous lack of virtue in the people.  Of course, “The junk politics practiced by Obama is a consumer fraud”, which is probably exactly why it’s so popular with so many. Historian Walter A. McDougall’s recent multi-volume history of America, views the country through the realistic lens of, in his words, “the American people’s penchant for hustling—in both the positive and negative senses.” Given this historical penchant it’s not so hard to understand how they might flock to a con artist like Obama-flim-flammer. Sure, “it is about performance. It is about lies. It is about keeping us in a perpetual state of childishness” - but they couldn’t get away with it if “we” didn’t let them. “But, the longer we live in illusion, the worse reality” we can profit from. Most Americans have been alot more concerned recently with rising oil prices in the Middle East than they have with rising casualties among the populations there. Americans for the most part have always been amenable to the crimes of empire as long as some of the spoils trickle down to them. They’re not as naive about the costs to others as they like to pretend, despite their readiness to believe in the self-serving illusions that are used to cover up these crimes. It’s no good just to blame corporations or the media, the American public has to bear it’s full share of the guilt.  Most of them, if presented the opportunity, probably wouldn’t behave much differently than those “corporate overlords [who] loot the Treasury”. “Brand Obama is about being happy consumers…We like our president. We believe he is like us” because, unfortunately, he is. Sadly, we don’t need to be “duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are” in our best interest but not in the interest of other populations outside are own. “We ask to be indulged and comforted by clichés, stereotypes and inspirational messages…” to hide that discomfiting fact from ourselves. “The worse reality becomes—the more, for example” other innocents we kill in the Middle East— “the more people seek refuge and comfort in illusions”. “These creators, who make massive profits peddling these illusions, have a” very receptive audience. “The longer we live in illusion, the worse reality will be when it finally shatters” whole societies around the globe. “This is the ultimate danger of the Obama Brand. It effectively masks the wanton” external “destruction and theft being carried out by our corporate state” with the support of much of the American population who like to shirk the blame with illusions of not knowing anything. “These corporations, once they have stolen trillions in taxpayer wealth, will leave tens of millions of Americans bereft, bewildered and yearning” them but a small taste of what they’ve helped inflict on countless others around the world.

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By TheHandyman, May 5, 2009 at 1:46 am Link to this comment

What I’ve seen a lot of, not so much here as on other blogs, is the willingness to not question Obama’s accomplishments or lack thereof and to even make excuses for him. There is this notion of one man overwhelmed by trying to make every decision. He doesn’t! That is why he appoints people with expertise and experience to postions that can deal with particular problems. A lot of problems have not been dealt with at all while others have been dealt with in the poorest possible way, such as the economic crisis. As I said earlier, Ralph Nader laid all this out when he wacampaigning for President. He said something that I hoped would not come true and still hope that it won’t but see little evidence that there will be any other outcome. He said, “it is better to vote your conscience and vote for someone who cannot win than it is to vote for someone who can and does win and betrays you. Obama has been betraying the People who supported his campaign early on. What happened is that the real Liberals didn’t hold his feet to the fire. They were so afraid that Hillary or McCain would wind up in the Whitehouse they gave their unconditional support to him even after he backtracked on single payer, voted for the FISA bill after saying he wouldn’t. And realize that he got almost $100,000 from the telecom industry after that vote. it looks like pragmatism was just another word for “I have no real principles.”

I think what a lot of those that voted for Obama thought they were going to get was someone who who be bold and make decisions and use the office as a bully pulpit to get the People those things that he promised. They thought he would, especially after givingh him a Democratic majority to support him, get a single payer health care system, bring all the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan, would help create jobs and get the People involved in righting the ship of State that has been for the last 8 years been listing heavily to the right. Instead the prisoners are still housed like dogs at Guantanamo. He is flip flopping about the war crimes committed by members of both parties with regards to torture.

Obama needs to make up his mind as to whetyer he wants to be the People’s President, or whether he wants to be the pet poodle of the Owners.

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By Outraged, May 5, 2009 at 1:43 am Link to this comment

Okay…. yep, I inadvertently forgot to link to the video, “The Century of Self”.  I concede.

To those who may have interest, the link.

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By Outraged, May 5, 2009 at 1:28 am Link to this comment

For those who wish to argue my original comment (the first comment on this thread)... I’m good with that, fire away.

Although I’d like to say, STRAIGHT UP that for ANYONE to deny me without VALIDITY, my intent, my premise or my SLEEP….. I will argue (in character) as if I actually were the person I was claiming to be.

I’m good at devil’s advocate, I’ve known too many inherently good people dissed simply because they didn’t “get with the program” OR because they were outrageously mislead.

But I’m not REALLY them, just the same…I’ll challenge you….win the argument.

Make me BELIEVE I can trust you, the dems, the repubs…. the doctor, the nurse, the teacher, the food industry, big pharma, the local mayor, the rich jack-off, the holy-roller, the liberal, the conservative, the banksters, Oprah, The View, Gates, Rockefeller, McCain, Obama, Clinton (both of them), hug a tree, plant a garden, do your best, think twice, the police, the army, our foreign policy “experts”, a journalist, another journalist or that other journalist, some commenter, my neighbor, the guy I work with, the girl I work with, this book I read, this “other” book I read, FOX news, MSM, alternative media, people who appear nice, my dog, my parakeet, my slippers… I need to go on….?

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By Outraged, May 5, 2009 at 12:55 am Link to this comment

What an interesting thing it is to play devil’s advocate.  Some heard me, some were “thrown for a loop”, but many heard nothing.  They….win or lose….right or wrong, and without CONSEQUENCE held to their BELIEF.  Some of the points, were factual or had valid points….others were simply BELIEF.

You can make a religion out of anything.  Many do.  If you cannot see this, you haven’t been paying strict enough attention AND challenging yourself.  Challenging yourself, truthfully IS the measure of a person.  It has no set parameters, it has no heroes, it questions intent, it challenges tradition, it has no enemies, it has no friends.

It isn’t ABOUT fixing something “out there”, it is about fixing something “in here” so that we can go “out there” and be of service to our communities, our nation, the world and in turn, ourselves.

This video series was made available awhile back, for those who haven’t viewed it, please do.  It is called: “The Century of Self” and examines much of what Mr. Hedges is saying.  All of us need to RE-EXAMINE our reality, and anyone who can qualify their supposed innate superiority in this regard, or to claim they’ve NOT been affected….. is only to acknowledge delusion.

From Chris Hedges’s article:

“In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we do not seek reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion. We ask to be indulged and comforted by clichés, stereotypes and inspirational messages that tell us we can be whoever we seek to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities, and that our future will always be glorious and prosperous, either because of our own attributes, or our national character, or because we are blessed by God.  Reality is not accepted as an impediment to our desires. Reality does not make us feel good.”

Yes… we do “ask” for it.  But there’s a reason for that too.  Who among us is immune?  Or for the biblical folks, “Let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

It appears we are lacking NOT ONLY critical reasoning skills, but also listening skills and empathy as well.  Empathy and listening does not inherently mean we should ABSOLUTELY “join up” nor endorse the premise.  It means to consider truthfully, factually and empathetically what others, NOT LIKE OURSELVES are saying.

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By freedom loving american, May 4, 2009 at 10:48 pm Link to this comment

I agree with most of the article. However we must realize the President Obama is trying to recover from the most blood thirsty, thieving, murdering, group of thugs in the history of the United States of American, the bush administration. They destroyed so much of our country and what we stand for as a people or principles our values and let’s not forget our economy. Granted it started with Ronald Reagan in 1980 so they have had 30 years of total control.

Obama is not a terrorist like the MSM tried to insinuate and Faux news and other American hating, freedom hating, liberty hating wingnuts said he was.  He is not a liberal, libertarian, or green party supporter like many of us on this website our.  He is a moderate democrat which means two things.
First and foremost he is not a republican, hooray.  And let’s hope we never again turn this great nation over to the party of greed, hate, fear, and terror, which is all the 21st century Republican Party stands for.  Frankly I strongly believe if we have fair elections and all citizens’ right; not privilege, but right; to vote is restored and we stop taking away that right to vote from millions of our citizens a republican will never be president again. In a true democracy the 21century Republican Party would be a very very minor party maybe .05%-2%  of voters, tops. 

Secondly President Obama will try to negotiate with the republicans, which as we all know is a big mistake. The republican party is to the united states as cancer is to out bodies. It is killing us and the world both symbolically and literally. However, since the republicans own, control and sponsor the MSM and own hundreds and thousands of other wingnut media outlets it is impossible for a democrat to get a democratic agenda passed.

Well the republicans own the MSM so they can make-up whatever stories they want. But, far worse than the idiotic lies they constantly spread about the democrats is all the thieving, illegal, murdering deeds they commit routinely.  They do not have to worry because nobody will ever know since the MSM will never print their evil deeds.

Even back in the 1980’s when the media was far less controlled by the ringwinghatenuts; the Iran-Contra scandal was reported for months in the Central American newspapers before the MSM was forced to report any articles regarding the illegal war, murders, corruption, illegal weapons sales, and drug running carried out by the Reagan administration. So next time you hear the republican bobble-heads praising Ronald Reagan you now know why. 

I believe president Obama is a good moderate democrat trying his best and frankly that does make me feel good.  However, we need to start electing more some democrats that are a bit more liberal and we need to make our voices hear. It will take baby steps, so I truly hope we have time to learn to walk again.

Have a nice evening everyone.

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By HonestJohn, May 4, 2009 at 9:09 pm Link to this comment

Thanks to Mr Hedges for being brave enough to print what he feels in his heart is the truth. He is in good company, I cite Naomi Klein, William K Black, Janet Tavakoli as a few others who have also come out with similar opinions on how President Obama is handling our economic crisis. These are all people who I find very intelligent, trustworthy and not paid for by the financial terrorists that have hijacked our future, and drained our retirement accounts.
I suggest that people who fail to see the real problem of the past and current administrations policies read and listen the the links.

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By Virginia777, May 4, 2009 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment

Trolls are THE most annoying thing on the Internet.

That said, I always say with Trolls:

They are trying to Shut You UP,

so don’t!!

These libertarian and right-wing fiends, which have been running all over TD of late, are cleaning up here on Chris Hedges post, no less,

thanks to the Great (I really do LOVE this writer) Chris Hedges.

Chris, you really do need to re-examine your position on Obama.

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By torontored, May 4, 2009 at 7:57 pm Link to this comment

....or everything you have written in this article is just a blinkered partisan perspective, deliberately representing reality in the most negative light possible. Actually having just read one of your books, there is no doubt.
100 days in, and you have written off this President. What, in fact, you are actually saying is that democracy does not exist at all in the USA. That being the case, I hope you do more than just winge about.

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By bg1, May 4, 2009 at 7:46 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Beautiful piece.  Well done. Obama, the new brand of corporate America and Wall Street.

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By samosamo, May 4, 2009 at 7:22 pm Link to this comment

I just got a solicitation call from the NRA trying to warn me about the loss of rights of the citizens and not just the second amendment. I flat told them if they think they can stop what the oligarchs have done then they must be just pissing in the wind.

The people of this country are so drugged by the msm, religion, the government the ‘best and brightest’ of the financial sector and are so reliant and addicted to the bullshit the msm traitors to this country have perpetrated on the citizenry of this country, that to stop the electorate(includes obama), the lobbyist, the neocons is far beyond their capacity to accomplish. So much so these traitors have broken the laws so blatantly and so often that their ‘rights’ to do so are now established by attrition.

If there are many left to try and defeat this theft of what was their country would be sheer folly, much less pick up a gun and try to fight and win another revolution. Everybody seems to want it just handed to them like so much that already has been handed to them but now it has taken away.

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By ThaddeusStephens, May 4, 2009 at 7:17 pm Link to this comment

Oh, and Virginia;
are you still out there?

I looked up vicious on One Look and
Looky here
what came up*:vicious&ws1=1&first=101

121. blood
143. murder
156. hemlock

Again, if you’re going to just tweety bird in out out
“I,m virginia and I have nothing of substance to say”
go tweety on another page.

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By ThaddeusStephens, May 4, 2009 at 7:09 pm Link to this comment

Hey virginia,

try reading the comments from some of your cohorts.
from Outraged:
“So…. if you want to be heard…. never mind, I shut down at the beginning of your thingy here because I AM TOO GO****ED tired, do you understand….I am too god***d tired.”

I’ve inserted the cleaned up version so my comment will not be excised as his will.

You brought up the idea of goriness

“and increasingly vicious”

Facts are indeed vicious.

Also please keep your attacks straight- I did not say this but your response directly implies that I did.  ” but to say the party as a whole is “equal” to the Republicans, is crazy.
(and right-wing)”

Fact is V. that you came into this stream with a poorly thought out response that did not say anything. All I heard was the splish-splash of alligator tears hitting the carpet because you were dismayed at having your TeeVee hero portrayed in a somewhat unflattering light. The light of day can bring out some of the truth however.

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By Virginia777, May 4, 2009 at 6:45 pm Link to this comment

“bloodthirsty Obama supporters”

what in the world are you talking about?

The vast “blood-thirst” our country has been witnessing, has been coming from the vampires on the Right, and from not Obama.

to be sure, there are some Democrat sell-outs (Jane Harman comes to mind),

but to say the party as a whole is “equal” to the Republicans, is crazy.

(and right-wing)

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By ThaddeusStephens, May 4, 2009 at 6:27 pm Link to this comment

I say that the political opinion on some web sites has been too bland and there is much Good we will see the as the political debate heats up.

I would like to ask,
Can all of you bloodthirsty Obama supporters please keep a civil tongue in your head?

Also please address some of the real issues. Juvenile whining about beating up on someone else will not be taken seriously. This article is not about bashing.

1. Democrats garnered $69,823,872 from the financial sector in the 2008 election.
Hedge’s article points out, correctly, that Obama is trotting to the tune of his paymasters; on a regular basis since 01/21/2009, trucks back up to the Treasury and haul billions away to the financial sector. In an incisive monograph that would debilitate any rational Obama supporter, authors Viral V. Acharya & Matthew Richardson, Professors, remark that the TARP bailout package,
“Appears to be providing a large transfer of wealth from the taxpayers to the financial sector without significant returns and without a resolution of the credit crunch at hand.” pg 42 of ‘Restoring Financial Stability: How to Repair a Failed System. Wiley (March 23, 2009)ISBN-10: 0470499346.

2. Less than a month after signing an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, President Barack Obama has quietly agreed to keep denying the right to trial to hundreds more terror suspects held at a makeshift camp in Afghanistan that human rights lawyers have dubbed “Obama’s Guantanamo.” In a single-sentence answer filed with a Washington court, the administration dashed hopes that it would immediately rip up Bush-era policies that have kept more than 600 prisoners in legal limbo and in rudimentary conditions at the Bagram air base, north of Kabul.’s_bagram_air_base_will_be_obama’s_guantanamo/

3.The First 100 Days of the Obama Administration: Small Glimmers of Hope, but Little Real Change
The first 100 days of the Obama administration presented a historic opportunity to restore the Constitution after the Bush administration’s systematic attempts to dismantle it, right by right, while ignoring international human rights standards. Yet, despite several strong steps, the Obama presidency has failed to live up to its promises in many areas of critical importance, including human rights, torture, rendition, secrecy and surveillance.

4. This list could and will go on and on as long as I am able to sit up and type.

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By Thomas O. Anderson, May 4, 2009 at 6:01 pm Link to this comment

to Virginia:

“(and most definitely, not true)”

The Democratic and Republican leaderships both dance to the tune of the Zionist gangsters. Don’t tell me Obama (with Biden and Emanuel by his side) is any better than a Zionist loving Bush or Cheney.

If there is any saving grace left in either of our two major parties, it will come from those members who have the moral autonomy to speak out against the Zionist influence, and do what we all know is right.

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By Virginia777, May 4, 2009 at 5:37 pm Link to this comment

“We’ve learned the Republicans are world criminals. Now we’re forced to confront the sad reality the Democrats are just as bad.”

Comments like this one are exactly why I can’t stand Hedges article.

What a load of crap!! (and most definitely, not true)

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By Thomas O. Anderson, May 4, 2009 at 5:31 pm Link to this comment

Just as the “truth,” offered by the Internet, revealed and destroyed the Republicans - who successfully revived the Nazi blueprint - the same “truth” (such as offered by Hedges and Truthdig) is laying bare the fraud and collusion put forth by the Dems.

Obama has had his chance, and he’s blown it in spades.

We’ve learned the Republicans are world criminals. Now we’re forced to confront the sad reality the Democrats are just as bad. At least it only took a hundred days to find out.

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By @CT, May 4, 2009 at 5:30 pm Link to this comment

Virginia777 writes: “This is taking the Left in exactly the wrong direction, when the Left is so desperately needed to address the huge wrong in our Country.”

Nonono: in fact, this is taking what’s left of the left baaack from the “Obaama” organization, which suckered its celebrity “leaders”, and its many mindless monied non-profits, to get elected, and—no surprise, given His record—has sold ‘em out in every. possible. way.

Thank goodness a few people—Hedges, Klein, Greenwald, a few more—are signalling the simpering sheep, in plain and simple words, to walk off the happy gas.

Give the former Democrats’ figurehead a B for birthday-suit and bait-and-switch, an F for fasci-form humbuggery, and get back to it.

Here’s hoping for more—PLENTY more—from Hedges.

Great foto, too: remember that Der CHANGEling, who got his start selling out his mentor in the “black community”, before moving on to turning over the Treasury to the corporations, has a Cosby-esque attachment to “welfare reform” and “responsibility” for the poor.

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By Virginia777, May 4, 2009 at 5:23 pm Link to this comment

I enjoy criticism as much as the next person, and I also understand the huge danger AIPAC presents to our country,

but Hedges attempt to place Obama within the realm of “Celebrity Culture”,

is nothing less than misunderstanding the Obama presidency.

(and yes, I still believe in the potential of the Left)

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By ardee, May 4, 2009 at 5:06 pm Link to this comment

By Virginia777, May 4 at 7:42 pm #

“Chris Hedges continues to waste his time and ours with his petty (and increasingly vicious) Obama-bashing.

This is taking the Left in exactly the wrong direction, when the Left is so desperately needed to address the huge wrong in our Country.

What a waste of time and talent!!”

I would ponder if ‘petty’ is applicable when the article is read without the lens of partisanship filtering it. One might have hoped as well for a clarification as to the ‘direction’ the Left is being dragged by Mr. Hedges?

The Left ( a nebulous term at best when discussing American politics I fear) helped elect President Obama, at least the moderate and progressive segments thereof. Whether or not they did so based upon a realistic appraisal of the man and his politics is moot, or rather less important than whether the left will remain at his side for very much longer.

There are, I would note, a few rather well posed responses, both pro and con, I would suggest that you read or reread them in more impartial fashion. Perhaps even the article itself.

One might enumerate the good things being accomplished as well as the things not so good, or even those things still unnoticed or unmentioned by the administration as yet. But I find it less than helpful to seem to take a position that well posed criticisms are unwelcome or even detrimental. On the contrary, criticism is the sign of health of the body politic and its absence should be feared.

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By Virginia777, May 4, 2009 at 4:42 pm Link to this comment

Chris Hedges continues to waste his time and ours with his petty (and increasingly vicious) Obama-bashing.

This is taking the Left in exactly the wrong direction, when the Left is so desperately needed to address the huge wrong in our Country.

What a waste of time and talent!!

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By Ed Harges, May 4, 2009 at 4:37 pm Link to this comment

beerdoctor writes:

“Did they really believe all that belligerent red meat he chewed and spit out at the AIPAC convention, two years in a row, was simply overheated campaign rhetoric?”

Indeed. Actually, what made it so appalling is that this was overheated rhetoric from a guy whose whole appeal was supposed to be based on restraint and careful judgment.

“No drama Obama” was supposed to the brand. That was one of his biggest selling points. And yet, what we saw was that, when it comes to Israel, even “no drama Obama” has to fall all over himself and foam at the mouth with passionate declarations of violent fealty to Israel and its expansionist goals. He went to the right of GW Bush, for crissake. He didn’t have to talk this way to anybody else on the campaign trail — certainly there was no other right wing constituency before which he felt any need to grovel. But wow, when that AIPAC convention rolls around, you’d better hump that Israeli flag and moan with ecstasy and have a freaking sticky wet orgasm, or you’re not “credible” on “foreign policy”.

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By @T, May 4, 2009 at 4:30 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is the best thing on the Obaama fraud.

More! More! And meaner—more on the mob, Axelrod and Kerry, Chicago.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 3:44 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller—People are dying, you know. There are things that the all-powerful Dems could do to stop it. So, no, I wont “stop whining”. I am sick of hearing that “settling” is ok.It just makes you part of the problem.

Dont forget, you “settle” for us all.

We have a right to an opposition party.

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By Numbskull, May 4, 2009 at 3:02 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Realist,  your list of Obama good-things is out of date. See:

Domestic spying with this crowd will be as bad as it was with Bush. Only with Bush, he was sort of clear about his intent. Pr. Obama and his legal quack Holder are back-door operators.

No more of your misleading lists, laddie. Get back to making bubbles in the bathtub.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

The Unions always back Dems., it is no revelation.Unions is the uS are so lame, they are almost not worth discussing. And the entire “world of Unions” knows it. BOTH parties are to blame for this. Blue Dogs are not even backing EFCA. Business is already pleased with the proposed “compromises”. The Dems have “enforced” contracts for CEOS and, crapped on ones for Labor and credict card holders.

It is fine to back Pres. Obama as a Democrat,if you are a Democrat. It is also fine to think that the Dem Party is just to fricking conservative.

The Democratic party should know this—-if Pres. Obama’s term ends with the crappy credit care reform bill and corporate health “reform”, they will NOT be backed by progressives, and, you will have a third party candidate to blame again for not doing anything.

So far, there is not one thing that the Dems have not compromised on. That is the fact, in alot of the legislation you name.

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By Leefeller, May 4, 2009 at 2:53 pm Link to this comment

Reality defined by reality, I love it. Sour grapes does get old, especially when one had to listen to it since before Obama won,  over and over again.  Never good enough, why did Obama not do this? He should have done something else. 

Well, Bunkey, things never turn out as you envisioned.  As I have said before, if Obama does one of the many things I hope he can do, I will be happy. Set the bar a little lower, the whining is already beyond long of tooth.

Hedges has a following of preconditions whiners, they must all have been Republicans.

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By Folktruther, May 4, 2009 at 2:47 pm Link to this comment

The pr industry DOESN’T control our elections, Realist.  The corporate and bankster rich do, using the pr industry.  Which I assume you are part of. Obaama is continuing the Bush wars, the shouveling of tax payer money to the bankers, the Israeli oppression, and the spying and other repression of the American population.  It is you that are cherrypicking marginal issues and rhetoric.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 1:28 pm Link to this comment

felicity—that would NOT be an “us”...I’ve worked in homeless shelter, but, used to live in them also.

So, saying that I am asking more of “us”, I just mean that I am not now dumpster diving.

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By Realist, May 4, 2009 at 1:20 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I appreciate that Chris and others here who second his opinions are sincere about wanting to change the world for the better but the core of Hedges’ piece - beyond all his ramblings about branding & marketing (wow - what a revelation: that the p.r. industry controls our elections.  More insight please!) seems to be his line about Obama having no moral code.  Well, I suppose if that’s your thesis before looking at any evidence, you’ll be able to then conveniently pick and choose bits of information to support the conclusion you have already come to.

Then you can ignore the following, which to me, point to a distinct moral code, as far as progressives are concerned:

-Obama chose a low paying community organizing job, coming out of Harvard when the world was pretty much his oyster
-Obama spoke out against the Iraq war long before it was politically convenient to do so
-Obama has a 100% rating from Planned Parenthood and NARAL
-Obama supported comprehensive immigration legislation including a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants
- co-sponsored ban on discrimination based on sexual orientation while in the Illinois Senate. The measure became law after Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate. (2004)
-Voted for having Illinois endorse embryonic stem cell research. (2004) and most recently, as President, signed the bill for federal stem cell funding

-Obama’s ranking as a Senator from the following in 2005/06:
Service Employees International Union 94%
International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers 100%
United Auto Workers 93%
NAACP - 100%
Human Rights Campaign - 89%

Voted YES on removing oil & gas exploration subsidies. (Jun 2007)
Voted YES on making oil-producing and exporting cartels illegal. (Jun 2007)
Voted YES on factoring global warming into federal project planning. (May 2007)
Voted YES on disallowing an oil leasing program in Alaska’s ANWR. (Nov 2005)
Voted YES on reducing oil usage by 40% by 2025 (instead of 5%). (Jun 2005)
Voted YES on banning drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Voted YES on limiting soldiers’ deployment to 12 months. (Jul 2007)
Voted YES on implementing the 9/11 Commission report. (Mar 2007)
Voted YES on preserving habeas corpus for Guantanamo detainees. (Sep 2006)
Voted YES on requiring CIA reports on detainees & interrogation methods. (Sep 2006)
Voted NO on extending the PATRIOT Act’s wiretap provision. (Dec 2005)
Voted YES on establishing a Guest Worker program. (May 2006)
Voted YES on allowing illegal aliens to participate in Social Security. (May 2006)
Voted YES on giving Guest Workers a path to citizenship. (May 2006)

I could go on. You get the point.  Hedges has essentially cherry-picked some “anti-progressive” Obama votes and pretends that is the sum of the man.

Now, I’m not saying those on the left should praise the ground Obama walks on.  When one doesn’t agree with the administration policies, reasoned argument and analysis is required.  But when you start from a viewpoint that infers there is very little difference between Bush and Obama but “branding”, I don’t think you’re going to do anything but preach to the converted.  And quite frankly, I think it’s bordering on absurd to imply there is no difference between Obama and the man who held the office before him.

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By felicity, May 4, 2009 at 1:04 pm Link to this comment

KDelphi - you are absolutely right.  More is expected of us who have, not because we’ve earned it but because it was given to us gratis.  A little back up.  I was born (in ‘32’) with the proverbial silver spoon in my mouth.  The Depression was out there some place but certainly not in my ‘place.’  It wasn’t until at around the age of 50 when I ended up running a homeless women’s shelter that I really understood what poverty was, is, and has always been.

It’s an all consuming, life-long fight to just stay alive. I’ve never had to fight to stay alive so more is expected of me to justify my existence.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 1:01 pm Link to this comment

You also wrote:
“Would you really want to “be equal to” N Korea, Venezuala, Russia, Iran, or even the E. U.?  Would you really want to count on the U.N. for our safety and well-being”

Since when are these countries, which have almost nothing in common (a very oded grouping!) “dependent for safety and well being ” on the UN?

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By truedigger3, May 4, 2009 at 12:57 pm Link to this comment

youraveragejoe wrote:
“Iraqis could “vote us out” at any time.  But they don’t.  How do you feel about Russia cutting of natural gas to the Ukraine?”

Common on Joe, are you equating Russia with Iraq
and USA to the UKraine? Are you kidding.?!!
Who will dare to cut the oil to the only super-power in the world and why? Everyone wants to sell his oil.
There was no need to invade Iraq and destroy
its infra-structure and cause the death of more than
a million people and turn about 4 million to refugees.
This is immoral, illegal and against international

You also wrote:
“Would you really want to “be equal to” N Korea, Venezuala, Russia, Iran, or even the E. U.?  Would you really want to count on the U.N. for our safety and well-being”

No Joe, nobody called for any of that. What people
want is a sane unagressive foreign policy. That is all.
There is a difference between being the class president with it perks and advantages who is
being respected and looked up to and being the courtyard bully who shake-down weak and
poor kids from their lunch money.!!!

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By Tom L, May 4, 2009 at 12:44 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Not a new problem.

Lord Byron:

I want a hero: an uncommon want,

When every year and month sends forth a new one,

Till, after cloying the gazettes with cant,

The age discovers he is not the true one;

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By Max Shields, May 4, 2009 at 12:33 pm Link to this comment


Sounds like you’ve not had a job before. Real drag, buddy.

Look, I’m surprised you even have time to think about not having time to think.

Now back to sleep…I mean work, hi ho.

Walter Lipmann was a jounalist, and wrote while you were in the womb.

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By Xntrk, May 4, 2009 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Opinions are easily expressed on this forum. Facts and alternatives are sadly lacking…

Actions speak louder then words, so let’s examine some of the salient ones [assuming outraged has a working vocabulary, if not a comprehension of recent history]:

No Bankruptcy Reform; no real help against losing one’s job or one’s home; no help for US Manufacturing plants; no end to the wars in the Mid-East; no end to the excessive military spending; no end to the Cuban Blockade; no Single-Payer Health Care; no end to covert spying on US citizens; no civil trials for Guantanamo Prisoners; no end to disappearances and torture at undisclosed sites by the CIA.

This is just a partial list of what BHO did not accomplish in his first 100 days, as President, with a large majority of Democrats in Congress.

What he did do is bail-out the Wall Street crooks so they can continue destroying the world’s economy and environment.

George W. said that he was a ‘Compassionate Conservative’, and then proved he didn’t know the meaning of the words. Obama is now defining them for us, like Clinton, he seems ‘to feel our pain’

Does that make me feel better? Not one damned bit!

As for alternatives, I don’t have many to offer. Local action is as easily ignored in most communities as it is on the National stage. Militant Right Wing Extremists are arming and threatening, and planting a garden seems a rather pathetic response. Voting for a non-existant 3rd Party is also questionable. What was once a burgeoning Green Party has faded away here in Hawaii, especially with a local boy in the White House, and our Senators bringing home bushels of defense dollars.

Maybe I’ll emigrate: Chavez invites us to Venezuela if we want to see a REAL Revolution, which includes both hope and change.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

Leefeller—So, is it ok to be “joyful” about the status quo , as long as it is not the democratic party? Decrying populism is playing right into corporate hands. Were you as upset when people were decrying Bush? I think it is that Democrats have so internalized Pres. Obama that it must feel like a personal affront to them to critizcize. Perhaps they also feel disappointment themselves, and, but, dont wish to admit that he is not all that they assumed ,as told by the media.

Sorry, I prefer people to—40 cats??!! Gawd…I assume that they are outside…lol

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By Leefeller, May 4, 2009 at 11:57 am Link to this comment

My status quo is fine, it is everyone else’s that sucks!

Kedelphi, my alleged love affair with status quo is not the intention of my post nor was it really about Obama, so I may not have been clear.  Instead it is the glee of attacking status quo, or in this case attacking Obama, however it could be Bush the Pope or the Romans. Pick a bash!  My premise is the glee and joy with which the attacking is done:  I occasionally do this myself or course my reasons are noble in my mind;

Bashing, and waving pitch forks is a self inflicted distraction from reality of why one does the bashing, a cause to look into the future instead of the present. For the present sucks.  That is to say, people who are comfortable and happy in their lives and pleased with life, are not usually the best candidates for joining the bashing crowd. Bashing requires real or designed discomfort or unhappyness, poverty, a feeling of injustice true or not,  even hate can lurk in this group of strange bedfellows, forming a dysfunctional commodore, who would otherwise never associate. .

Since we are talking Obama here in the Hedges article, I attemepted to stay on subject.

My personal aversion to joining mass movements may be my own comfort level with myself and my 40 cats, it will take much more than status quo for me to bring out my pitch fork,  Though I do linseed oil the handle just in case.

Mine is not a criticism of those doing the bashing, it is my perceived underlying understanding of why it exists.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

felicity—I am not in the position that you suggest.

Several people who live here have begum dumpster diving again..

It is not those who are dumpster diving as you seem to suggest, that are being faulted.

It is people like you or I. We need to expect MORE for those who do not have the time to do it. Otherwise, we are just blowing smoke out of our ass..

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By C Quil, May 4, 2009 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

Brilliant post.

The Obama campaign got an award from the Advertising Guild (or whatever they call themselves) for the presidential campaign. That’s pretty scary.

All you hear about is the dog, the organic garden and the wifely arms. You hear nothing about the rampant militarism, the looting of the people’s money to pay the rich criminal banksters and the further shredding of the constitution.

Meet the new boss…same as the old boss.

So depressing.

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By felicity, May 4, 2009 at 11:34 am Link to this comment

KDelphi - I know and hear of so many people, young to old, whose hopes and dreams for themselves and especially their children have been smashed to pieces. At this point in time for them, just keeping a roof over their heads and food on the table demand all their waking hours. (I recently read that 31 percent of American males are looking for and not finding work.) 

They’re not out of touch with reality:  Reality is at their door, big time.  Hedges, you and even I may have the luxury of, if you could call it that, of monitoring and critiquing the political landscape, but to fault them for not doing so seems almost cruel.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 11:29 am Link to this comment

remedy’s response is typical of people who say “what else could we do?? “
and “all these terrible things will happen if we dont…” , when, in fact, they know fully well what “else” we could have done.

The last argument is some variation of “better than Bush”..all the arguments are emotional, and fail to address any of the facts listed in the article.

The “policies” that are being pushed, by whomever is at the controls (and , I have to assume its Pres. Obama, or he had better do some firing!)are compromised. They are conservative policy, at best.

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By kb, May 4, 2009 at 11:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Three things:
Obama is very establishment oriented(does this make him an ‘antidisestablishmentarian?); much more than H Clinton, and that’s not saying much!
The corporations still run the show.
And, finally, no more long comments, please…if one reads them, it’s never worth it.

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By bell, May 4, 2009 at 11:13 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Good article. I love this guy; real rabble-rouser who fuels his torchlight with facts. There are two aspects of the Obama experience I find troubling. The less obvious connects with Hedges’ comments on the Fairness Act. I haven’t read the thing but it seems there is an ongoing attempt by the Federal government to weaken the power of State governments..a state of affairs Prof. Obama knows runs counter to the intent of our Constitution.
The second revolting fact is the Holder/Obama endorsement of government spying on its citizens, the oddly-named “Patriot Act.”  These two matters alone are enough to undo any confidence in the man civil libertarians might have found encouraging.

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By thebeerdoctor, May 4, 2009 at 11:12 am Link to this comment

re: KDelphi

KDelphi’s comments about how puny the so-called Democrats have become is damn accurate. Because the vast majority of successful democrats have become craven sycophants of corporate lobby money, they are unable to function in the best interests of those who are without power. So the military money continues to flow to Israel, proving to the world you can be a self-determined welfare client nation state (yes we can!). That reforming the drug war means making mandatory sentences for cocaine more uniform (yes we can!). That the answer to the largest country without a national health service is simply to make it more affordable (yes we can!).
But I really wonder why the Obamacons are shocked. Didn’t they read his web site pamphlets? Did they really believe all that belligerent red meat he chewed and spit out at the AIPAC convention, two years in a row, was simply overheated campaign rhetoric? Of course over heated rhetoric is the excuse BHO uses whenever someone happens to capture him in a contradiction on camera, otherwise known as an old fashioned, bald face lie. And (yes he can!) to that also.

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By herewegoagain, May 4, 2009 at 10:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Much of what Chris Hedges says here is the truth, but we have a choice people. We can gnash our teeth in frustration over this *national* issue of ongoing betrayal by the Democratic Party, OR…

We can actually get off our asses, step away from the computer, and help build local communities to create a better overall country. It’s becoming an overused cliche, but real change will only occur from the ground up.

Tired of corporate overlords calling the shots in Congress? Advocate for independent and local businesses in your community! Sick of the Wall Street bailouts? Keep your money in a local bank or credit union! Fed up with our government allowing the piece-by-piece sell off of our motherland for the sake of “growth”? Attend your local city council meetings and organize with likeminded folks to raise hell at any attempts to do this in your own community!

No, Obama is not going to do this for us. That is crystal clear at this point. We’re going to have to do the job ourselves.

Are we up for the task? No doubt about it, it’s certainly more difficult than sitting comfortably behind a computer screen and complaining bitterly about politicians once again betraying the voters.

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By truedigger3, May 4, 2009 at 10:53 am Link to this comment

remedy wrote:
“What would the writer suggest Obama had done on taking office, let the banks go under and throw us into a full depression like the 30s.”


Saving the banks doesn’t mean saving the management
and the share and bond holders and all those people
who bought those exotic financial papers hoping to
make a quick buck. All those troubled banks should
have been nationalized at least temporarily and cleaned up and recapitalized and supplied with new
management teams and let the share and bond holders
and the betters on “Casino Wall St” swallow their
losses and get lost.
That would have been much cheaper, saving hundreds of
billion of dollars of taxpayers’ money and leading
to much faster recovery.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 10:50 am Link to this comment

Leefeller—Is it not our “job” as citizens to NOT “go with the status quo”? What good is it to go with it, when all around you is falling? Why would anyone wanto to uphold the status quo?

People are not asking for things that could not be achieved. HOnestly, when you think about it, what “progressives” are calling for is very minor, in the scheme of things—-bankruptcy “reform” (to before Clinton), something in the credit card bill, like a LIMIT, and to make it retroactive, before it is the next big economic crisis, stop giving money to banks or put limits on it.. ...its not nearly enough.

Theyre just asking that Dems try, in small ways, not to be GOP.

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By truedigger3, May 4, 2009 at 10:33 am Link to this comment

Outraged wrote:,


If you are “TOO GODDAMNED tired” , why don’t you go
to sleep first and when you wake up and have your
tea or coffee after that hopefully you will understand, quoting you, ” what the hell he is talking about”
Where is Hedges elitist rage you are talking about??
It is your rage that is worth noting.
Why are so tired and enraged? Are THEY working you
too much?  Instead of directing your rage toward the
imaginary elitists, why don’t you direct your anger toward the people who are working you to death?
And what is the differenc between Bush and Obama?
There is no REAL difference between them except
in style and minor cometics in the fringe issues.

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By Folktruther, May 4, 2009 at 9:59 am Link to this comment

Obama has consolidated the political counterrevolution that hss transformed the US power system form a bougeios Democracy to a presidential plice state.  Both parties now support the continuation of Bushite policies kickstarted by 9/11 and legitmated under the fraudulent War on Terrorism.
This marks the ending of the Western tradition as a world power and its legitimation of capitalist Democracy and the imperialism of the White Man.

The historical problem is how the American people can mobilize against the increasingly despotic American power system when the unions have largely been destroyed and the power of the American population stifled by modern techniques of television and advertizing manipulation.  Especially with Zionism largely hijacking US foreign and domestic policy.  And the electoral system dominated by the Gop-Dem coalition.

The first step is to initate an ideology that orients the people against exploitive and oppressive power.  This must be a world ideology, like marxism in rhw 20st centur, since the problems that we face our world problems.  But marxism orginally was an international ideology that was constricted by the Western tradition, since capitalism was orginally developed in Europe.  With globalization and world communication and transportation networks, it is now possible to develop political and social theory from a world historical perspective.

But developing this theory is a historical process.  What should we be doing, in addition, NOW, in the US. I don’t know.

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By KDelphi, May 4, 2009 at 9:56 am Link to this comment

Before you say how “depressing” Hedges is, please consider the article…that is part of his point..

“We ask to be indulged and comforted by clichés, stereotypes and inspirational messages that tell us we can be whoever we seek to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities, and that our future will always be glorious and prosperous, either because of our own attributes, or our national character, or because we are blessed by God. Reality is not accepted as an impediment to our desires. Reality does not make us feel good.”

The facts are all there….can someone please dispute the legislative “accomplishments” that Hedges lists, rather than responding emotionally? It is a choice you know, not always an easy one. NO matter how soothing it may be, one must eventually face facts….what remains to be seen , is how long will it take the gen public to digest it all…further..

“...appear real even though we know they are staged. They are capable, because they can evoke a powerful emotional response, of overwhelming reality and replacing reality with a fictional narrative that often becomes accepted truth.”

People must pay atttention to this! I am warm-blooded——sure I get a lump in my throat sometimes, when I hear Obama speak—-I learned long ago to disregard this…you simply have to think with your higher functions and not let emotions take over. The person speaking on tv, is NOT “emotionally involved ” with you…it may appear as it he is, to your brain. Refuse to accept your lower brain ‘s suggsetion that this is “your friend” or someone that “understands you personally”!! He couldnt if he wanted to.

Facing what is truly happening(what policies are being put in place, what monieed intersts are being served) may not be pleasant,,,but the “voter apathy” everyone talks of could be alleviated if people could face the truth. Whether one LIKES Pres. Obama, except in foreign matters, is pretty irrelevant.

felicity—what you fail to see (or do not wish to) is that Hedges is merely pointing out the slick marketing that has many confusing what the man does with what they THINK that the man is fine to “like” him…it just doestn translate to actiohn. All Outraged seem to be saying ,(sorry, maybe youre just very tired) at this point, is ‘he’s better than Bush” long will that be good enough? We cannot let the horrifying presidency of Dubya make us lower our expectations for a lifetime.

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By samosamo, May 4, 2009 at 9:55 am Link to this comment

I don’t know if it is too late, but if congress and the president want to score a point, then they could stop this “A massive lobbying campaign against bankruptcy reform legislation known as “cram-down” appeared to be working”.
Truly this is also an extremely important reason to slap the lobbyists with regulations or out and out outlaw lobbyism. It is really nothing more or less than criminal treasonous bribery. A key point that undeniably proves our electorate do not work for those that elected them. Pelosi and reid being the 2 top gangsters of the congress and ‘boss’ obama hanging loose at the white house in case he is needed, for what, no body really seems to know.
Link to video:

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By Leefeller, May 4, 2009 at 9:52 am Link to this comment

Hedges self proclaimed knowledge of reality, has enlightened me into seeing reality for what it really is.  Reality, defined by Hedges and seconded by his fans.  Could one even suspect a tiny morsel of jealousy?

Is it just possible, ivory towers of Hedges are not made of ivory? 

Failures real or not, but perceived by individuals, provides the perfect propagation grounds for bashing status quo, what ever they may be.  For it is in the looking beyond and pointing of fingers which hides reality from one. Bashing with glee covers reality of the self. In other words,  a tool for enabling the ability of ignoring and covering of self disappointments.

Maybe this is why,  I perceive the normal hypocrisy in this article and of course the blatant oxymoron in the title, “Buying Brand Obama”?

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By mstar57, May 4, 2009 at 9:40 am Link to this comment

Another GREAT article!! Hats off to you, Chris! - I couldn’t agree with you more…Keep up the good work and thanks!!

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By grumpynyker, May 4, 2009 at 9:29 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Cynthia McKinney, who I voted for, said the same thing while she and Rosa Clemente was running on the Green Party ticket.  Alas, Ms Mckinney has been tarred with the anti-Semite brush so she is dismissed.  However, if she or Ralph Nader run in 2012, I’ll happily vote for either candidate.  Until Amerikkka and the West realize their error of establishing Israel in western Asia sixty years ago, the world will not heal.

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By Anarcissie, May 4, 2009 at 9:21 am Link to this comment

This disappointment with Obama is another facet of the same monarchicalism with which much of his support is redolent (and, indeed, that of his opposition as well).

In this, the thing that strikes me as especially odd is that the followers of this particular monarch do not seem to have read their leader’s very own words, as published and easily available months, even years ago.  He did not at any time claim to be any sort of revolutionary; to the extent that his positions and proposals differed from those of his competitors, they were often slightly more conservative.  If it was going to win, then, Brand Obama had to use the best and most advanced marketing tactics.  And did.  “Yes, we can”—never mind what. 

I don’t see anything to get very excited about.  Didn’t anyone read the material?

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By Fadel Abdallah, May 4, 2009 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

“Kings, queens and emperors once used their court conspiracies to divert their subjects. Today cinematic, political and journalistic celebrities distract us with their personal foibles and scandals. They create our public mythology. Acting, politics and sports have become, as they were during the reign of Nero, interchangeable.”

“In an age of images and entertainment, in an age of instant emotional gratification, we do not seek reality. Reality is complicated. Reality is boring. We are incapable or unwilling to handle its confusion. We ask to be indulged and comforted by clichés, stereotypes and inspirational messages that tell us we can be whoever we seek to be, that we live in the greatest country on Earth, that we are endowed with superior moral and physical qualities, and that our future will always be glorious and prosperous, either because of our own attributes, or our national character, or because we are blessed by God. Reality is not accepted as an impediment to our desires. Reality does not make us feel good.”
As usual, Chris Hedges analysis of “brand Obama” is painfully true. However, the fact that this situation is not new in the realm of empires, kingdoms, and political-military powers of all times gives me some comfort of hopelessness that it could ever be better than it is. On the margin of Hedges piece, I would like to highlight few points:

1. Obama is no revolutionary, nor is he a principled reformer. He’s just the typical professional, opportunist politician, with the typical amount of personal ego, self-interest and vainglorious traits.

2. To my disappointment, I was more entertained, than enlightened, by all the theatrics related to the first-family dog, his personal blackberry phone story, his personal sports inclinations,the $ 550.00 price of his wife’s sneakers, the designers of their clothes and his appearance on the comedy show of Jae Leno.

3. As a tax-payer, I am particularly disturbed how much extra cost his security detail and entourage will add to the burdens of just protecting one person and one family, while crimes in the streets keep rising.

4. As an American of Palestinian background, I am greatly disturbed how Obama surrounded himself with Zionists, some of them, like Rahm Emanuel, carry a double Israeli and American nationality, who served in IDF and whose father was a terrorist.

5. One misconception among Afro-Americans about Obama is that he is the first black American president. The fact of the matter is that he is only 50% black. In fact, if he was 100% black, he would have never been elected, even if he performed miraculous acts like those of the times of Moses, Jesus or Muhammad.

6. Those who groomed him for this position knew well that a man of color is the benign alternative to a possible bloody revolution or civil war, following several decades of erring Anglo-Saxon policies and politics, culminating in the disastrous years of evil Bush.

7. Thus far Obama wants to be everything for everyone; a situation that might render him irrelevant to the majority of people.

8. I am particularly disturbed at how often he invokes the name of God and how his inauguration was heavily a religious affair; not much different from the times of G. Bush.

9. Afro-Americans, as an ethnic group, will most likely be the most disadvantaged because of Obama’s election. Both the psychology and the prevailing argument is that the struggle for the civil and economic rights has reached its culmination point with his election. So civil rights legislation, affirmative action policies and even the voting rights reforms will be halted as irrelevant under the guise that African-Americans, and by extension all other minority groups, have reached the epitome of social and economic through the example of one family. People will forget the fact that few early blooming tulips do not make spring!

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By felicity, May 4, 2009 at 8:29 am Link to this comment

Well, Mr. Hedges, your article cut deep in two ways.  Clearly, you have charged, indicted, tried and found Mr. Obama guilty of multiple crimes already committed against the American people with a promise of many more to follow.

Intentioned or not, you have also indicted the American people.  According to you we are uninformed, easily duped, puerile, stupid, lazy, manipulated androids whom the media and the politicians turn on or turn off at their will and we’re too dumb to realize what’s happening.

I hope you read and think about the comment of ‘Outraged’ who in a way echoes Thoreau when he said that most men lead lives of quiet desperation.  Hopefully, you’ll be able to find in yourself a little compassion toward your fellow human beings.

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By artie, May 4, 2009 at 7:41 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Every few years,I reread “The Power Elite”, by C. Wright Mills. It details the ongoing disparity between the power elite and the masses, feared but anticipated by Jefferson.

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By Jon, May 4, 2009 at 7:32 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Hard to admit, but this Hedges article speaks truth to Obama’s machine, and essentially says ‘believing is seeing.’  When I look at what the Obama team DOES, as Hedges points out, I sure don’t see a progressive agenda, and specifically for exacmple, that campaign promise that Obama made over and over to ‘give the American people the same health care that Congress gets,’ is now off the table. 

But there are many, to paraphrase Hedges, who ‘believe [in the Obama brand] and then see reality based upon that belief.’  They do so at their and the nation’s peril in my view.

Many will be or have been banned from “Democratic” web sites for talking like Hedges does, but those who see the sharp contrasts between the Obama brochure and actual happenings and actions, are and should be alarmed, and should point out the inconsistencies.  We can’t go to sleep again.

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By beegee, May 4, 2009 at 7:27 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

chris, so sorry that you are miserable and unhappy. this man has been president for 3 months. that he is not significantly different from any other president, in your estimation, is too bad. our political system did not get this way over night. it cannot be changed over night. we cannot move from a right wing reactionary government to a full-blown leftie government without making a few stopping points. I’m sorry you’re so unhappy. your book about fascism and christianity was right on. but now, you’re just whining. i don’t think obama is the answer to everything. but the alternative was too frightening to even consider. we now have a chance to right some prodigious wrongs. let’s give this man the opportunity to do that before declaring him irrelevant, useless, and inept.

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By G.Anderson, May 4, 2009 at 7:06 am Link to this comment

It should be clear to all concerned that politics in the United States is a total failure. Because we are a plutocracy, and a failed one.

The only solution for this problem would have been to help the people of this country, to give them relief from their debt slavery, but now it looks as if that relief is fading from view, and with it the hope that America would avoid complete and catasrophic economic collapse.

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By youraveragejoe, May 4, 2009 at 6:27 am Link to this comment

Well said on BO and his no-change policies, right up to some more general implications at the end about neoconservatism.

Although peace through strength is an imperfect policy, it’s better than the alternatives.  “It takes a village” (gag) is a flawed concept, and is dangerously naive for International affairs.  Diplomacy is preferred, but any diplomat will tell you that it’s impossible to negotiate from weakness.

Preserving the existing free-flow of critical raw materials (for everyone) is not the same as American Imperialism or bullying.  Iraqis could “vote us out” at any time.  But they don’t.  How do you feel about Russia cutting of natural gas to the Ukraine?

The top dog will always be vilified by those that need to create a villain to distract their people from the failures of their own system.  A chorus of this doesn’t change that simple fact.

Would you really want to “be equal to” N Korea, Venezuala, Russia, Iran, or even the E. U.?  Would you really want to count on the U.N. for our safety and well-being?

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By thebeerdoctor, May 4, 2009 at 6:17 am Link to this comment

What Chis Hedges calls the Obama brand with such gloomy glee, is nothing new. What he is referring to is political theater. Those images that he moans about on computer and television screens is just a marketing extension of tactics that have been in politics forever. Consider George Washington’s last address, where he thoughtfully with dramatic pause, took out his spectacles and said he had given everything to his country, including his eyes.
The fact that much of Obama’s policies are not much different than George W, the previous, should not be much a surprise to readers of Truthdig. But here TD’s house minister falls short in seeing that symbolism is quite important to this whole process. Setting a different tone, not only in skin color but in using intelligent language, is a welcome improvement over Bush the lesser, and his ride ‘em cowboy, dead or alive, smoke ‘em out of their holes persona.
It is also strange that Hedges would quote Walter Lippmann. For it was Walter Lippmann who said about leadership that “The final test of a leader is that he leaves behind him in other men the conviction and the will to carry on.”
If that is the final test, then George W. Bush has Barack Obama to thank for proving he was a true leader.

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By tomack, May 4, 2009 at 5:58 am Link to this comment

Wexler’s right on all points, and I feel the hole we’re digging may end up trapping us. However,I’m still holding out hope that this admin will begin to see it, understand it, then act on it. And ACT means doing things differently than the last team, which, so far, they haven’t.

To quote Twain again for the 500th time, “Loyalty to your country—always. Loyalty to your government—when they deserve it.”

And so far….well, I’m happy Obama is in versus the alternative, but I fear I may not be in another year or two.

And remember always, the best citizen is one who is continually critical—regardless of whom is in office.

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By Thomas O. Anderson, May 4, 2009 at 5:58 am Link to this comment

After reading this piece, any so-called “progressive” who still deems themselves a proud Obama “hoper” needs to quickly seek medical help.

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By William W. Wexler, May 4, 2009 at 5:22 am Link to this comment

Hey outraged…

I’m sorry that you lay such a proud claim to being among the totally uninformed.  It’s people just like YOU who have enabled the deterioration of our political system into the joke that it is today.

The joke would be funny if it didn’t get people killed.  Ha ha, look at America, the most powerful nation the earth has ever seen, with the best electronic communications network ever devised, and yet 60% of people polled in 2006 by the WaPo said that Saddam Hussein was directly involved with 9/11.  A similar percentage can’t find Washington DC, Iraq, or Viet Nam on a map.

And then you feign outrage at being TOLD what’s going on.  Well, well, well.  You demand the right to remain ignorant as long as Obama is doing “better” than Bush.  But you’re really so uninformed, how would you even know if Obama is doing “better”?

You wouldn’t, and that’s why the charade of “good times” passes muster for most “folks”.  I will agree that it is refreshing to have a president who can create a cogent argument with a string of coherent sentences.  I will agree that Obama talks the talk, sometimes.  But on a string of key issues, including but not limited to gun control, Iraq/Afghanistan, FISA, single payer health care, separation of church and state, campaign finance reform, Middle East policy, and others, there’s not a dime’s worth of difference between Obama and the GOP/Bush.

I identified this problem last June in an angry piece on my website.  Obama needed the progressives to do the leg work for his campaign, because the progressives are the group that get fired up and will actually hang out in coffee shops talking to people and knock on doors with campaign literature.  Once it became clear that he would beat Hillary in the primary, he threw us off and under the bus and started pandering to the center/right section of the spectrum.  The change in rhetoric was remarkable.

True Obamabots refused to see this turnaround in rhetoric.  The ‘droid faction just kept chanting about hope and change.  The chant should have been “change you can hope for”.  On all the issues Mr. Hedges talks about we will get no change whatsoever.  Instead we will get photo ops, feel-good political theater, and halfway measures that will actually make things worse rather than better.  Those in power will not give up their power gracefully; instead they will resist and tighten their grip on it.  Putting a political schmoozer like Obama in charge of changing this system would never work, even if the politically-connected wanted to give their power back to the electorate.

No, if the electorate wants to regain control we are going to have to fight for it, and in order to do that we will have to inform ourselves.  So, outraged, you have defined yourself as part of the problem.  Not only that, but you have also said that you don’t want to be bothered with any of the details.  What is it that you want, then?  A check in the mail?

Of all the Obama policies I noted back in June, the one that troubles me the most is that there is not going to be any change in trajectory of the nation’s foreign policy.  Obama has made some insignificant changes to the window dressing.  However, make no mistake about it… the plan is American hegemony.  The neocon ringleaders may be out of Washington, but their policies live on.  Obama’s policy is continuation; the US will continue dominate the world through military power, defending our economic interests and claiming the right to access world raw materials and resources no matter where they lie.  This will inevitably lead to more wars and entanglements.


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By remedy, May 4, 2009 at 4:51 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

What would the writer suggest Obama had done on taking office, let the banks go under and throw us into a full depression like the 30s. I read and hear many that fault his actions but give no details of what they would have done. He has spent alot on a situtation that was left for him not of his making but if you follow his plan he intends to get health care passed which will save tons of the government money and give business a new breath of air. Healthcare is the single most strike agaisnt small business creation in this country, and thats where jobs are created, not in huge corporations. Next is energy if we follow where Obamas plan goes we will save that 780 billion a year on foreign oil not to mention what we spend on military spending to keep the middle east safe enough to get that oil. Is he right? I dont know yet but im willing to give him sometime and find out.

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By leftyrite, May 4, 2009 at 4:34 am Link to this comment

One of the best posts in weeks.

Like almost everyone I know, I’m relieved that President Obama is in office. However, what Chris states is clearly true. President Obama puts Geithner and Summers, and the interests that they clearly represent, first, last, and always, above the interests and the clearly stated wishes of the American electorate. Democratic hands are always tied, we are informed, whether it be by Ben Nelson, David Petraeus, or Arlen Specter. “Help us, please, we need eighty votes in the Senate to maybe be effective…on a good day.”

I’d rather work for, and vote for, a third party with little chance of winning over a period of twenty years—if those years would lead us to something good and whole and truly progressive.

Sadly, Obama is looking like a “brand” to me as well.

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By chambalkirani, May 4, 2009 at 4:28 am Link to this comment

This is an excellent, if pessimistic, piece.  We should remember some positive changes, such as closing (yet to happen) of Guantánamo prison, prohibition on “black sites” and torture.  I still hope that the employee free choice act will pass, and that even without single payer, at least everyone will be covered.
It’s a double whammy.  It is doubtful that without the economic crisis Obama would have won, but the the crisis is at once too deep to have any serious discussion on any spending other than “fixing the economy”, and yet not deep enough to engender actual social unrest.
The fact is Obama - even if he wanted to - can’t bring change alone.  If we sit complacently and let the Summer’s and Geithner’s of the world determine policy, we will not get change.  When the most popular question on the virtual town hall is when will marijuana legalised, while others, like Outraged, are “too goddamned tired” to care, we are doomed to get more of the same.

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By ardee, May 4, 2009 at 3:41 am Link to this comment

I appreciate the insight that ‘outraged’ brings to this discussion in his post that accurately casts the voter apathy that allows such overwhelming control of this nations governance. I only wish that post had included a more optimistic tone in discussing ways to cut through such ennui and alienation from the process. After all, why are we here if not to explore solutions?

“It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people’s minds.” Samuel Adams

Our system has been purposively manipulated to make the ultimate power in this nation, the electorate, less powerful. As ‘outraged’ so eloquently notes we need no jackbooted troopers to subvert the intent of the founders of this nation, only a media sworn to tell no truths and a few stores filled with cheap and unnecessary junk made important and purchased with credit designed to trap.

I refuse to give in to cynicism, however, as that is exactly how progress is blocked.

“All truth passes through three stages’ first, it is ridiculed; second, it is violently opposed; and third, it is accepted as self evident” Arthur Schpenhauer

I applaud the article and the author, Mr. Hedges, for his accurate and passionate words and hope that we can spread this word and this concept far and wide.

Lastly, who indeed is Walter Lippman:

“The present crisis of Western democracy is a crisis of journalism. Everywhere men and women are conscious that somehow they must deal with questions more intricate than any that church or school had prepared them to understand! Incredibly, they know that they cannot understand them if the facts are not quickly and readily available. All the sharpest critics of democracy have alleged is true if there is no steady supply of trustworthy and relevant news. Incompetence and aimlessness, corruption and disloyalty,panic and ultimate disaster must come to any people denied an assured access to the facts.”  Walter Lippman

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By Diane K. Morris, May 4, 2009 at 2:04 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You say, “A public that can no longer distinguish between truth and fiction is left to interpret reality through illusion. Random facts or obscure bits of data and trivia are used to bolster illusion and give it credibility or are discarded if they interfere with the message.”

Mr. Hedges… The American people might wake up to the horrific version of ‘The Truman Show’ we live in, if credible journalists like yourself would conduct honest investigations into the events of 9/11 and stay with the story until the FACTS can’t be ignored in the corporate media.  I recommend you start by interviewing Richard Gage AIA, founder of where you may read the following:

Apr 22, 2009
Scientists Find Unignited Explosive Residues in WTC Dust
— Gregg Roberts

Red/Gray Chips Match Advanced Thermitic Materials Developed in US Government Labs

Berkeley, CA, April 23, 2009— A team of scientists that includes 9/11 luminaries Steven Jones, Kevin Ryan, and seven other authors from three countries announced this month the long-awaited publication of their 25-page article “Active Thermitic Material Discovered in Dust from the 9/11 World Trade Center Catastrophe.”
Berkeley, CA, April 23, 2009 — More than 640 Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth (AE911Truth) are calling for a new, independent investigation into the destruction of the World Trade Center high-rises. These building professionals cite evidence of explosive demolition at all three WTC high-rises on 9/11 and document the evidence at their website. Michael Heimbach, assistant director of the FBI’s counterterrorism division, wrote that their claims and conclusion were “backed by thorough research and analysis.” 

Until the truth is revealed, 9/11/01 will continue to be used to justify torture, war, and loss of civil rights..

“If you can get people to believe absurdities…you can get them to commit atrocities.”  Voltaire

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By truedigger3, May 4, 2009 at 1:43 am Link to this comment

An excellent article, but I am hoping its predictions
don’t materialize and people wake up from their trance and get to understand and be aware of what
is really going on around them. But I am not optimistic about that.!!

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By TheHandyman, May 4, 2009 at 1:22 am Link to this comment

Well said Chris. Of course I heard all of these things that you are saying somewhere else before, Now, where was that? Ah, yes, now I remember, Ralph Nader predicted everything that Obama has done almost a year ago. See, unlike the media and 95% of the citizens of this country, Ralph does his homework. Ralph knew the advisors who Obama surrounded himself with and what their priorities were. I doubt Ralph has had time to say, “I told you so.” Ralph was in Washington doing the work for the People that the people they elected weren’t doing long before Obama was a community organizer and Ralph got results. But did the MSM report what Ralph said? No, they only reported what he sdaid about Obama being a white man in a black man’s skin which is exactly what he has turned out to be.

I really had hoped that Obama would suceed beyond all our wildest dreams, but he is just more of the same only with a more intelligent smile. He is just as owned as Bush or Clinton was.

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By Outraged, May 4, 2009 at 1:13 am Link to this comment

The REAL problem, Chris is that….“you make no sense to me.”  You go on and on… but so what, I don’t know who the hell Walter Lippmann is (and I’m certainly not going to “look it up”), and I’ve NEVER been told who the hell he is, I MEAN it… never!

So while you “elitist’s” rage on, it means NOTHING to me, because you see I “work” for a living…. I do all those things that others scoff at.  Therefore, I have to get up early, I’m tired and if Obama is doing better than Bush…. good enough, because ONE, I don’t know who the hell you are citing and TWO… I’m tired, flippin DOG TIRED.

So…. if you want to be heard…. never mind, I shut down at the beginning of your thingy here because I AM TOO GODDAMNED tired, do you understand….I am too goddamned tired.  Whatever.

So…. some say life’s a bitch and then you die…., me… I’m not so sure, but goddamn it if I actually had the time… then they’d see, then they’d wake up, then I’d be heard.

Who are you talking to Chris…?  Are you talking to me….?  It doesn’t seem like it, and I gotta tell ya’, that’s “good enough for me”.

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