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Stop Begging Obama and Get Mad

Posted on Sep 14, 2009
AP / Charles Dharapak

President Obama is mobbed after delivering his major health care address to Congress. Obama has promised to deliver millions of new customers to insurance companies.

By Chris Hedges

(Page 2)

But what happens in a society where everything conspires to check you out even when you make the herculean effort to integrate into the world of malls, celebrity gossip and too many brands of cereal on a supermarket shelf? What happens when the corporate state says that you can die in its wars but at home you are human refuse, that there is no job, no way to pay your medical bills or your mortgage, no hope? Then you retreat into your private hell of rage, terror and alienation. You do not return from the world of war. You yearn for its sleek and powerful weapons, its speed and noise, its ability to abolish the lines between sanity and madness. You long for the alluring, hallucinogenic landscapes of combat. You miss the psychedelic visions of carnage and suffering, the smells, sounds, shrieks, explosions and destruction that jolt you back to the present, which make you aware in ways you never were before. The thrill of violence, the God-like power that comes when you can take a human life with impunity, is matched against the pathetic existence of waiting for an unemployment check. You look to rejoin the fraternity of killers. Here. There. It no longer matters.

There is a yawning indifference at home about what is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan. The hollow language of heroism and glory, used by the war makers and often aped by those in the media, allows the nation to feel good about war, about “service.” But it is also a way of muzzling the voices that attempt to tell us the truth about war. And when these men and women do find the moral courage to speak, they often find that many fellow Americans turn away in disgust or attack them for shattering the myth. The myth of war is too enjoyable, and too profitable, to be punctured by reality. And so these veterans nurse their fantasies of power. They begin to hate those who sent them as much as they hate those they fought. Some cannot distinguish one from the other.

As I stared into the faces of the men from A Gathering of Eagles on Saturday at a protest calling for the closure of the Army Experience Center in Philadelphia, I recognized these emotions. These men had arrived on black motorcycles. They were wearing leather jackets. They had lined up, most holding large American flags, to greet the protesters, some of whom were also veterans. They chanted “Traitors!” at the seven people who were arrested for refusing the police order to leave the premises. They sought vindication from a system that had, although they could not admit it, betrayed them. They yearned to be powerful, if only for a moment, if only by breaking through the police line and knocking some God-hating communist faggot to the ground. They wanted the war to come home.

It is we who are guilty, guilty for sending these young men and women to wars that did not have to be fought. It is we who are guilty for turning away from the truth of war to wallow in a self-aggrandizing myth, guilty because we create and decorate killers and when they come home maimed and broken we discard them. It is we who are guilty for failing to defy a Democratic Party that since 1994 has betrayed the working class by destroying our manufacturing base, slashing funds to assist the poor and cravenly doing the bidding of corporations. It is we who are guilty for refusing to mass on Washington and demand single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. It is we who are guilty for supporting Democrats while they funnel billions in taxpayer dollars to sustain speculative Wall Street interests. The rage of the confused and angry right-wing marchers, the ones fired up by trash-talking talk show hosts, the ones liberals belittle and maybe even laugh at, should be our rage. And if it is not our rage soon, if we continue to humiliate and debase ourselves by begging Obama to be Obama, we will see our open society dismantled not because of the shrewdness of the far right, but because of our moral cowardice. 


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Chris Hedges spent two decades covering wars in Latin America, Africa, Europe and the Middle East and is the author of “War Is a Force that Gives Us Meaning.” His latest book is “Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.” His weekly column appears Mondays on Truthdig.

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By voice2, September 14, 2009 at 2:33 pm Link to this comment

Try the following experiment. Read these words out loud and listen to the sound of your own voice. Do you hear your own voice? Good! Keep listening to your own voice, while you read these words out loud.

Read in your own pace and rhythm and articulate these words for the sole purpose of getting in touch with your sound. These words convey a non-verbal, rather than a verbal message. In this experiment you can deliberately go beyond your verbal fixation. 

Continue to read out loud and listen to your sound. Yes, most likely, you are imprisoned by the verbal. You do not experience the freedom of speech when your connection with nonverbal is broken. It is your verbal obsession which makes you think that struggle for attention is the basis for spoken communication.

As long as you maintain your focus on the verbal,on how you want to be perceived by others, you continue to deny your own non-verbal experience, because your attention is outward-oriented and fragmented.

People always think of listening to others when they hear the word “listen.” This is because they were
educated to listen to authority outside themselves.
These words, however, give you an experience of what it is like to listen to yourself, while you speak.

Most of the time you do NOT listen to yourself while you speak. And, those who “like to hear themselves speak” although they may can demand that others have to listen, they do not listen to themselves either. Fact is that only very few people speak with Voice2 and even when they do it is mainly accidental.

You repeat, maintain and increase your problems of human relationship because you speak with Voice1. Unless you become aware of Voice1, you cannot speak with Voice2. Only when Voice1 is inhibited, only when you develop the skill to stop Voice1, can you begin express and elicit conversation with Voice2.

Voice1 usually drowns out Voice2, not because you are incapable, but because you have not really made the distinction. If you do not listen to it your self, how do you expect others to hear it? You must make the distinction. These words help you to become aware of Voice2. By realizing that you speak with Voice1, you begin to recognize Voice2. You do not need to practice Voice2, it is your authentic voice.

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By suziekidder, September 14, 2009 at 2:31 pm Link to this comment

Wow.  From time to time I read something that was so difficult to read - wrenching, horrific, disturbing, unsettling, and “almost had to stop halfway through” .... that you know you’ve just read the most important thing anyone has said to you in a very long time.  War requires insanity from those who wage it, and those of us who send them off to do this “in our name” owe them at least the chance to tell us how it was.  And then we must each do at least one thing to stop doing this to each other.

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By ohiolibgal, September 14, 2009 at 2:27 pm Link to this comment

It’s as if they are all just playing us, it’s a big
shell game. There is no party that is progressive
these days - the republicans are maybe just a bit to
the left of Mussolini, and the democrats as a whole
is comfortably right of center now. In other words,
with the democrats things can get marginally better,
but no big systemic changes are coming.

We do need civil unrest like the civil rights and
anti war movements on steroids. However there are now
problems with that now, corporate MSM. 3,000 tea
baggers/birthers get mega coverage. Tens of thousands
of people protesting Bush being installed as an
illegitimately appointed president in 2000 got
virtually ignored, as did massive anti Iraq war

So…it’s going to be harder to bring about real
change than it’s ever been, and it may be incredibly
important that we make these changes ASAP while we
still can. One tough situation.

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By Jon, September 14, 2009 at 2:26 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris, you continue to nail it in your columns, but most of the country is so deeply entranced that your words and thoughts will not sink in.  Americans in general do not realize they are living in a corporate run state; they don’t even realize what a corporation is—that it is legally required to make a profit, and it does so through the most destructive means to workers, the environment, the nation’s future. 

Decades ago, Americans stopped being citizens and happily became ‘consumers,’ and so Congress got bought by the banks and corporations, and we’re seeing the result today.

I agree regarding Obama.  He’s a suit for the banks and corporations and his actions tell me that ‘they,’ meaning his team, don’t care about the American worker’s future—-only hoping they will go shopping and use those credit cards once again.  When millions of unemployed later this fall lose their benefits, then maybe there will be some noise.  I’ve seen zero done for the foreclosed, the bankrupt—-as if Americans just don’t matter to this White House. 

Are they just going to discard millions of Americans?  If so, then they need to issue euthanasia kits, and be clear about it at least.

America has no business plan, but does, it seems, have a going OUT of business plan, which will leave millions unemployed and broke.

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By neptunus, September 14, 2009 at 2:23 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

omg, this is so stupid.


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By Angel Gabriel, September 14, 2009 at 2:07 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Change the channel Martha - this is all too much to take! All I want is a Pizza, a super sized Coke, and a pillow to hide my head under. Militantly forced change whoaa, that’s way to hard! This is just so upsetting that I’m going to Baaaa myself to sleep!

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By ardee, September 14, 2009 at 1:53 pm Link to this comment

LostHills, September 14 at 3:19 pm

I agree with your premise until you suggest not voting at all. By all means vote the third party or independent candidate of your choice instead of the sham of a two party system. But to not vote is to not even try to make things better.

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By The Mad Loon, September 14, 2009 at 1:33 pm Link to this comment

The following link is to an animated version of a speech made by Tommie Douglas recorded in 1962. This speech is as relevant today as when it was originally made

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By tp, September 14, 2009 at 1:10 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Chris Hedges hit the nail on the head. Now what??

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By doublestandards/glasshouses, September 14, 2009 at 1:06 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Americans do get angry but their anger is always

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By glider, September 14, 2009 at 12:21 pm Link to this comment

“Just be patient. When it happens there is no turning back.  I’ve never seen so much media censorship and control, on behalf of Obama. It will spend itself out very soon.”

I share your sentiments and “hope” you are right.  But there has been a lot of shit that has gone down with barely any visible active protest.  Many of us want to believe a tempest is brewing but that is all it is now, “hope”.

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By LostHills, September 14, 2009 at 12:19 pm Link to this comment

If there’s any hope for this country, “liberals” and “progressives” have got to break with Obama and the Democratic party and begin working boldly and defiantly for a true progressive agenda. Im terms of holding us back from where we really need to go, the Democratic party is far worse than the Republican party, because they represent themselves as the only alternative to the right and then capitulate to them on every important issue. The voters have decisively rejected the conservatives and demanded change, but the Democrats are not delivering that change. Step two is to reject the Democrats just as firmly. If you consider youself a liberal or progressive you have to stop voting for Democrats until they come back to the fold. Vote independent or third party or don’t vote at all. But don’t continue to reward a prty that is selling you down the river by giving them your votes.

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By AmericanDream, September 14, 2009 at 12:08 pm Link to this comment

And we all sit here ranting, arguing with each other.  I don’t see any significant changes the past 3 decades.  Might as well get out while you can… Canada anyone?

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By tropicgirl, September 14, 2009 at 11:56 am Link to this comment

Just one more comment about the call to action.

The silence among liberals is deafening, but I think that is the right thing to do

Obama’s machine will bend it to mean some sort of approval. The fact that the
liberals are hanging back and watching is in itself important.

Sometimes there is too much yelling. Besides, the conservatives are doing a lot
of heavy lifting now so let’s see what happens.

And it is important to hold back to see what the Progressive Caucus will do.

Again, I predict, that, as soon as it death of the public option is definite, you
will see more action.

And then the anti-war action will begin.

Liberals have not come to the exact point of directly challenging Obama
publicly, but it is very, very close and it has to happen.

Just be patient. When it happens there is no turning back.

I’ve never seen so much media censorship and control, on behalf of Obama. It
will spend itself out very soon.

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By Manuel A. Domenech, September 14, 2009 at 11:55 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

About Vietnam Vets suicides read these:

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By glider, September 14, 2009 at 11:21 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges
“we are the problem. If we do not tap into the justifiable anger sweeping across the nation, if we do not militantly push back against corporate fraud and imperial wars that we cannot win or afford”

Chris is right on here.  The silence is deafening isn’t it?  I am going to take a stab at the reason for this conundrum.  The internet and the lack of a non-electronic social counter-culture.  Anger, such as that which led to the militant protests against the injustice of the Vietnam War, got its outlet in physical communal discussions amongst like minded individuals.  This elemental human experience led to real action of mass street protests.  Today the anger amongst like minded individuals is not lacking.  But the outlet amongst this educated group is now internet postings such as on this forum.  This has lead to superior information distribution.  But there is a difference in real social interaction and the pseudo interaction of the internet, which is not something we have evolved to base our actions upon.  This is leading to an expression of anger without the requisite physical expression of it.  It is all electronic and it is much easier for the government to control.  I hope there is a way to break free from this dilemma.

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By ma77hew77, September 14, 2009 at 11:10 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you so very much for your insight and your honesty.

You have hit so many perfect notes and made clear connections.

I live with the same frustrations and pains of knowing history enough to see what seemingly lies before us.

Thanks for your ongoing courage in writing what you see with your eyes and feel in your gut.

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By thebeerdoctor, September 14, 2009 at 10:58 am Link to this comment

re: Michael G

The psychological conflict between the idea (idealism) and the reality (where falls the shadow) is something I noticed in Barack Obama back during the campaign:

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By glider, September 14, 2009 at 10:47 am Link to this comment

This was a great article. 

Apart from the arguments and direction of this piece which I am in total agreement over, I found one statement to be unbelievable. If it is true it alone would be the most profound anti-war statement hidden by mass media.

“More Vietnam veterans died from suicide in the years after the war than during the conflict itself”

Is there a reference for this data?  It does not sound correct to me, but I am tremendously interested in what the actual number is, normalized to the average rate of suicide in the population amongst the same age group.  It is a powerful piece of information.

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By Jean Gerard, September 14, 2009 at 10:26 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Let’s have some specifics, Chris.  We are going to Washington saying what?  In what manner?  How effectively?  We are going to reach whom with what we say?  How are we going to reach them?  We are going to arrange meetings beforehand with Senators and Representatives so we have someone to talk to when we get thee?  We are going to work with media ahead of tims to assure that we get fair coverage?  We are going to avoid screaming and yelling and arguing with kooks in opposition?  We are going to be sure speakers and leaders make realistic suggestions rather than accuse and criticize. We are going to be smart enough not to be misled? You need to help people follow through wisely and effectively on your suggestions for intelligent involvement, not mere agitation for agitation’s sake.  To merely imitate right wing belligerence and hysteria is not good enough.

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By Big M, September 14, 2009 at 10:16 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

“The right-wing accusations against Barack Obama are true. He is a socialist, although he practices socialism for corporations. He is squandering the country’s future with deficits that can never be repaid. He has retained and even bolstered our surveillance state to spy on Americans. He is forcing us to buy into a health care system that will enrich corporations and expand the abuse of our for-profit medical care. He will not stanch unemployment. He will not end our wars. He will not rebuild the nation. He is a tool of the corporate state.”

He has no authority as to deficits, health care, unemployment, or rebuilding the nation. What in the hell is wrong with the author that he actually believes that those things are the job of the Fascist-in-Chief, anyway? When did this country become a 300 million-strong bunch of whiners who stand around waiting for a known crook to fix their problems? And they wonder why things are the way they are?

Jesus Tapdancing Christ.

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By tropicgirl, September 14, 2009 at 10:03 am Link to this comment

Chris—This is truly brilliant and an EXAMPLE OF HOW MEDIA COMMENTORS
CAN ACTUALLY EXIST IN THE PRESENT, and make contributions that actually

Obama is indeed a corporate socialist. Obama has this in common with the
neo-cons. They would all be happy to subscribe to Obama’s ideas of corporate
welfare as long as there are no reforms ever introduced. I don’t think Obama
will get the reforms. They should have been done at the time of the bailouts.

Its just another “carrot” to push through the health insurance company bailout
bill before us.

This love and respect for corporations, above the American citizen, is a view
SHARED by Obama and Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck and the others. They,
like Obama, refuse to regulate, refuse to speak against corporations (in a
serious manner other than speech rhetoric). He will NOT support any “America
first” ideas for getting our jobs back, just like Rush et al. Most grassroots
conservatives are fine with a public option or single payer to exist along side
corporations. Rush and the neo-cons would not, even though they try to
represent the grassroots in their own vein. It is not true. They don’t support
the wars anymore and they will fight for the environment. Rush and gang like
to misrepresent them but those are the corporate voices who infiltrate.

This is the way to view the sincere conservative grassroots groups. Much closer
to liberal grassroots.

If Obama were a sincere reformer (which he is nOT) he would easily be able to
separate the sincere grassroots from the neocons. Instead, he builds up their
machine, calls them names, and blows up his own chances of being perceived
as honest. We are all watching this happen.

And Obama still perpetuates the myth of Democrat vs. Republican that childish
sites like Huffpo still toot about. That is the Washington game.

Obama is about as “progressive” as Reagan was if you look at the substance.
And, because he is “in power”, all the criminal elements are folded in.

I predict as soon as it BECOMES DEFINITE AND OBVIOUS that Obama REJECTS A
PUBLIC OPTION then you will see massive liberals react radically against him.

I think they might even join the Tea Parties and some are already.

The main point is, more and more, people are not believing the carrot and stick
game in Washington anymore. They are happy about their power to protest, no
matter who does it, and they are willing to quit their party and become

Obama has ruined any sense of that the word “progressive” means. I am much
more comfortable being a liberal and have many conservative friends who think
I am normal.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, September 14, 2009 at 10:00 am Link to this comment

Wars are just another tool in the politicians play book.  Whenever things are going bad domestically (as they routinely do) try a good war to deflect criticism and focus.  Almost every president had his war (or pseudo-war).  Even Reagan had Granada (a real hotbed of revolutionary zeal).

It is an unfortunate artifact of the present political environment that anyone who aspires to higher office must pass through the official gatekeepers of either party.  Those are the deeply embedded political operatives and wealthy benefactors who must decide on the person’s suitability and malleability to occupy that office.  Bush was so perfect for the job they picked him outright to run.  In Obama’s case, he had to overcome the race thing but was otherwise a perfect choice.  He has charisma and a rhetorical style that appeals to a broad range of voters.  But he also quietly supports all the power center’s goals so they let him pass.

As for the left enabling the right, I wonder how much progress there would be if there wasn’t a left.  Narrow mindedness by the right should not diminish the left’s desire to correct obvious shortcomings in public policy.  And I assume Chris Hedges, beyond having to produce weekly copy for TruthDig, feels strongly about the issue of wars and their impact.  He certainly has enough experience to qualify as an expert.  Someone has to be the conscience of this country and to point out failings.  For some time now, this has been missing in our discourse and I welcome his strong voice.

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By Michael G., September 14, 2009 at 9:24 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

This is one of the most compressed, relevant, intellectually lucid and emotionally evocative posts on the subject of current events in America for a long, long time.

And who is Obama and why is he constitutionally incapable of stepping up to the plate?

I agree with Bill Maher’s balsy characterization of Obama, when he is in full speechifying mode, as a “Black Elvis.” On a more sinister note, I believe that Obama’s psychology is fundamentally linked to racial issues that have been internalized to the point of making him a virtual puppet and, in street jargon, an Oreo condemned even by the Black Progressive caucus.

This psychology, as far as I know, has never been adequately explored.

Obama’s entire personality has been built around the desire to be perceived as a pleaser, and here we are talking about the White Power Structure, the capitalist credo on Wall Street, if not the imperialist credo associated with American neocolonialism. Metaphorically speaking, this is a man who would prefer to vote “present” rather than taking a position. He is our Black Neville Chamberlain, and precisely because of the fact he is Black, the “Hitlers” he has conciliated are everywhere and there has been no end to his conciliations.

He is neither a Martin Luther King nor a Malcolm X. Frank Rich recently suggested that Obama was “punking” his supporters (I found his use of prison-speech ironically appropriate). Obama’s betrayals go hand in glove with his being a Black Oreo who simply cannot walk his talk no matter how much we want him to. They go together, and if Maher or Rich didn’t say that overtly, I believe it was implied.

Maher understood that we have “enabled” Obama precisely because he is our “Black Elvis.”  He had, for a time, put us in a trance, and boy, we do like our trances. We, the Northern “liberals,” know that there is no speech-maker better than Obama. It wasn’t a racist utterance on Maher’s part. It cut to the very core of things.

In the face of the widespread racism in our society, Obama had every reason to fear what Cheney and Bush might have tacitly (or overtly?) threatened prior to the inauguration. And so, Obama did the unthinkable. He bent over farther for these same individuals than most other candidates would have done, and predictably, he also bent over for Wall Street. Carter, who was also widely viewed as a weak president, was at least a person of principle. Obama is a president who wears his “principles” on his sleeve, but I don’t think they run very deep.

As a president, I think he is overcompensating and capitulating in ways that are unprecedented in my lifetime. Now, he says he “owns” the health plan, fallout and all. He also owns a jillion dollar bank bailout, Afghanistan and the betrayal of the majority of people who voted for him. I voted for Obama excepting a change. But now? Would you really want to buy a used car from this guy?

Let’s cut the the BIG question that someone, somewhere should probably begin talking about. It is precisely the question to which Chris Hedges’ article points.  This is what is actually behind FOX News stories. There is a long-term political strategy at work here. To scold the right wingnuts for racism or being fascists is irrelevant and insufficient. This is the work of Karl Rove, or someone very much like him. It implements a strategic plan to use Obama’s weaknesses against him. Moreover, it is working. Even as the wheels come off the Obama-machine, the wheels are coming off our democracy.

What’s going to happen in 2012 when Obama’s presidency is seen as totally failed, and when people seek strength in a leader? Cheney would make one hell of a dictator. My guess is that it’s coming, and it won’t be despite Obama’s behavior as president, but because of it. Time to stop asking for him to be himself. Time to look elsewhere.

Sorry to be a one trick pony, but think Germany, 1932.

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By MeHere, September 14, 2009 at 8:44 am Link to this comment

Thank you, Chris, for another reminder about what war is and what US imperial wars are.  And, above all, for pointing out that these wars are about people just like the rest of us.

It is fascinating to notice the absence of good, strong arguments for the wars.  Everything I seem to find is tentative, generalized, illogical, and highly speculative.  Not even eloquent Obama has been able, or willing, to come up with full, coherent statements. You would think he would at least feel obligated to give us progress reports once in a while.  The result is that our wars have simply become part of the landscape, just like bridges and roads. They are just out there and periodically we do maintenance work.

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By G.Anderson, September 14, 2009 at 8:38 am Link to this comment

The corporations that are destroying this country, are continuing to move forward with that destruction.

Obama’s economic reforms are being squashed because of a new re inflated bubble, it looks like health care reform will be very profitable to the health care industry.

It’s tiring and pointless to argue about the rhetoric, just like Bush who mouthed tried and true conservative political beliefs but was not a conservative, Obama does the same.

So while people are caught up arguing about some very nice speeches, the plutocracy keeps moving foward with their plans.

At the end of the day, you can continue arguing about what was said, it will be cold comfort, when this country is gone.

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By thebeerdoctor, September 14, 2009 at 8:35 am Link to this comment

re: Purple Girl

In your interesting and passionate diatribe against the left and right you state: “BTW—thanks for 8yrs of W and Dick, Nadarites.”
Well that is quite an exaggeration to say the least. Both the 2000 and the 2004 Presidential elections were stolen outright. How do I know this? I live in the state of Ohio.

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By middlepath, September 14, 2009 at 8:34 am Link to this comment

Actions speak louder than words, President Obama. You came into office on the coattails of special interests and there lies your loyalty. The same is true for every politician in Congress.

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By Jim Yell, September 14, 2009 at 8:03 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

It is a sad thing that much of what is written here and all of the article I would consider true. My father was a combat veteran of WWII. He made life miserable for his family and even the animals. Much of this was PTS, but some of it was his World View which was Me Tarzan, you Jane. I doubt that he ever gave up the falsehood of militarism or the degree he had been abused by our government. I doubt he much thought of the misery and disorder he transfered to his family. Now multiply this thousands and even millions of times over. No wonder we are pschotic.

I will give one good hurrah for Mr. Hedges, as the article echoes a question I have asked over and over for the last few years, “what happens when the troops come home”; “what happens when the mercenaries, the Blackwater goons come home?” Once I felt pride that “war lords had not been part of our history”, but we may be entering that stage of disorganization and it is all thanks to the military Industrial complex and a general unwillingness to think for ourselves, to even get the knowledge to think for ourselves.

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By Purple Girl, September 14, 2009 at 8:00 am Link to this comment

And out come the Lunatic Fringe from the Left- Yippeeee!
What were you doing when Obama was talking- mastrabating?
He never said he’d end the War in Afghanistan.
He never said he would institute Single payer.
He never said he would support Gay marriage (only unions)
He never said he’d eliminate Oil, coal or Nuclear power.
Give it up Chris you are just as deluded and fanatical as the Far Right.
Let me Guess you think Nadar is a Liberal. Even though he has never run for or held any Public office which could move the agenda forward. Only shows up to siphon off votes from the Dems Presidental bid. BTW- thanks for 8 yrs of W and Dick, Nadarites.
I suspect this article is your coming out debut as a Right wing sympathizers- something most of US have known for quite some time. In fact do you think we haven’t noticed your Ghost Writing for Freedom Works. You hail Obama as a ‘Liberal’ so they can rightly claim it as so. Obama may have liberal ideas, but he is not a liberal, he is a prgamatist. He has not called for everyone to go Meatless, stop driving cars nor go organic.
But let US review some of the Wonderful ideas the Far left fringe have offered the Far Right, beyond the ‘Socialist’ accusation. Painted AIDS as a Gay and IV Drug user disease, allowing the Right to block funding on ‘Moral Grounds’. AIDS is a blood disease, which has the potential to effect all that have blood- human and non human alike (Feline Lukemia,EIA).
How about that concession to the Oil industry by demanding we convert to the fuel guzzling and Food supply destroying Biofuel Corn. heckova Job helping the Oil industry increase oil useage and profits, with the added bonus of villifying alternative fuels. Ya never thought about the ramifications?
And By the Way have you given up your environmental concerns, Since it will require more electrical Power Plants, Stations and Lines. so your are worried about the pipelines going through Anwar, but not the powerlines through our forests and neighborhoods? 
As much as the last 40 yrs have been a ‘win’ for the Neo Cons- it ahs been the zealots on the Far Left who have helped make it all possible. The Neo cons must be very appreciative of you playing the ‘opposition’. Every Action has a equal or greater Reaction- making it all possible. Screw you are you are nothing more than a covert operative for the Write.
Seems they’ve even signed on to your calls for an immediate withdrawl from Afghanistan- you must be proud to be part of their legion.
Seems the Right is not only executing plays out of the Lefts Handbook- they have an autographed copy.
Sit down and Shut up with your buddies the Teabaggers- you both have fucked this country over long enough!

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By thebeerdoctor, September 14, 2009 at 7:28 am Link to this comment

re: Southern Gal

The Obama administration may be able to pull the wool over the eyes of the American people, when it comes to our empirical designs, but the rest of the world is not buying it:

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By ender, September 14, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to this comment

The right actually is.  They may not like to think about it, but we are able to consume conspicuously like no other nation because of our military might exploiting the resources of much of the world.  That has worked for the last 100+ yrs, but as CCDillion points out, we are no longer the only Gorilla in the cage.  Without firing a weapon, China can ruin us economically because we used them to fund our last two wars of aggression.  But while the teabaggers relish in our aggressive colonialism and damn the immorality of our murder of millions for monetary advantage, progressives are still all too willing to take advantage of the undue and illgotten largess of our corporate exploitation of third world nations make available to us.  I don’t know if there is an answer.  I’ve lost the optimism of my youth, and have gained some belief in karma, not necessarily as a spiritual thing, just as a law of nature.  If there is any validity to you reap what you sow, then we’ve got a lot of bad, bad seed to pay for as a nation.

The ruling ogliarchy is already starting to move it’s money and power base elsewhere and leaving the common citizenry to pay the bill.  Then, when we are broken down sufficiently, we can be better exploited by the MI Complex for generations to come.

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By ender, September 14, 2009 at 7:17 am Link to this comment

The right actually is.  They may not like to think about it, but we are able to consume conspicuously like no other nation because of our military might exploiting the resources of much of the world.  That has worked for the last 100+ yrs, but as CCDillion points out, we are no longer the only Gorilla in the cage.  Without firing a weapon, China can ruin us economically because we used them to fund our last two wars of aggression.  But while the teabaggers relish in our aggressive colonialism, progressives are still all too willing to take advantage of the undue and illgotten largess our corporate exploitation of third world nations make available to us. 
I don’t know if there is an answer.  I’ve lost the optimism of my youth, and have gained some belief in karma, not necessarily as a spiritual thing, just as a law of nature.  If there is any validity to you reap what you sow, then we’ve got a lot of bad, bad seed to pay for as a nation.

The ruling ogliarchy is already starting to move it’s money and power base elsewhere and leaving the common citizenry to pay the bill.  Then, when we are broken down sufficiently, we can be better exploited by the MI Complex for generations to come.

We are on the path of Rome and all of the historical empires.  You expand or collapse but you can’t stay the same.

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By Southern Gal, September 14, 2009 at 7:15 am Link to this comment

With the decline in jobs and the economy, more and more young people may turn to the military for education and work experience. During the so called debates on health insurance reform, no one has mentioned that the Pentagon, the military industrial complex and the armed services eat up a majority of our budget. Congress bemoans our indebtedness into the future regarding social programs, but makes no mention of the abuse and waste of precious human, financial and natural resources by waging wars around the world for power and control of other countries’ resources. It’s like we’re in this nightmare and we can’t wake up. I truly believe that war is a last resort when our very existance is challenged and all else fails. I believe that we should take care of the men and women who are in our military and provide for them during and after their service in wars. I’d like to see the architects of our wars and the people who support wars (but are safe at home) put on the front lines to experience what they promote at others expense. We have become a nation of bullies, thugs and cowards with no true moral compasses. I understand that there are people around the world who wish harm to this country. I don’t think that we can combat those people by bombing civilians in other countries and creating more people who want to see this country punished for its agression and meddling into other countries political affairs for the sake of capitalism and corporate greed. We have to be smarter in our use of our people in service and in our methods to combat acts of violence against our country and our people. Waging armed conflicts around the world is not the way to gain safety for our people and does not support our so-called Christian values, beliefs and philosophies.

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By jackpine savage, September 14, 2009 at 6:35 am Link to this comment

Yeah, everyone listen to ITW: just STFU and be a good, loyal Democrat. Your job is to make excuses for a president who wants to expand a pointless and destined to fail foreign occupation/counterinsurgency. Give thanks for a President who wants to force you to purchase insurance (whether you can afford to or not) from the same companies that have turned America’s health care system into the 37th best in the world and the most expensive. Cheer on the guy who waltzed into office and immediately made sure that your great, great grandchildren would be on the hook for the cost of making sure that investment bankers don’t take too many hard knocks.

Yes, all hail another shitty, Democratic president. (Carter got the shaft, but Clinton didn’t get nearly what he deserved for failing at the once in a century chance to change the world with the end of the Cold War…hell, he didn’t even try…no, worse, he turned swords into more swords instead of plowshares.)

All the problems you see are of your own imagination, and really your own fault for not standing behind the president like you’re should.

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By dihey, September 14, 2009 at 6:13 am Link to this comment

If I understand Mr. Hedges correctly he classifies President Obama as a faux- (or pretend- if you wish) Socialist. Make that Social Democrat and you are more closely correct because that is what he is and not a Socialist.
Social Democrats all around the Western World have supported new wars: In Germany: WW1 and now troops to Afghanistan; Netherlands, Belgium, France, Great Britain: colonial wars after WW2 and troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.
As for Socialists: try Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht who opposed WW1 and were murdered afterward for their stance. Barry is no Rosa and no Karl. Not by any long shot. And do not try to overwhelm me with his anti-Iraq speech because he voted funds which the Bush administration used to continue that war. Barry is the combination of a brave talker and weak actor.
I do not say that Social Democrats in Europe have done no good. They have, especially on labor legislation.

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By The Mad Loon, September 14, 2009 at 5:32 am Link to this comment

You can debate whether Obama is a progressive or not all you want, but until the people pick up their pitch forks and torches and march on the castle nothing will change.

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By montanawildhack, September 14, 2009 at 4:54 am Link to this comment

Mr. Hedges needs to chill out man!!!  The real war has not yet begun….  I’m speaking, of course, of the coming war with Iran…  Our Neo-con buddies (euphemism for Hebrews) are cooking it up right now as we speak….  And the American media will promote it with the same zeal they did with Iraq..  And fighting the Persians isn’t going to be like our current “wars” fighting the equivalent of a couple thousand boy scouts… No!! It’s gonna be a real honest to goodness WAR!!! America and Israel uber alles… Have a nice day….

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By heath, September 14, 2009 at 4:18 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Inherit My Fart,

Obama is clearly a willing accomplice. We fed-up are not dooming the dems; the dems have doomed us.

It is far too easy a thing to see, so why don’t you see it? ...

Mr. Hedges,

Your sage perspective is a treasure. So much terrible sacrifice necessary for its evolution, but you do not waste one bit of it. From the whole of my heart, Thank you.

I am reminded of the late Kurt Vonnegut and his historic detainment in Dresden. He was one of the great humanists of all time, as are you sir. You share your gift with the world brilliantly! If only the wider population could be swayed.

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By godistwaddle, September 14, 2009 at 4:06 am Link to this comment

Expecting a corporate stooge like Obama to do anything about predatory capitalism is like expecting Robert Rubin to do anything about bad banking practices. 

Obama is about to ORDER us to buy insurance from the very companies which created this awful health care system. 

Shows what happens when an electorate is as ill-educated and disdainful of real education as ours and then shows its utter ignorance by electing a sweet-talking con man.

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, September 14, 2009 at 3:55 am Link to this comment

I don’t see how Hedges undercuts Obama.  He may not be (thank God) Bush/Cheney but he is no progressive.  The Democratic party suffers from the exact opposite of the Republicans.  While the GOP crowds into a dark corner on the extreme right, the Democrats have become a party of inclusion which is far too broad to be effective.  How can a party accomplish anything when it covers the spectrum from the far left to the soft right?  There is no cohesion and no consensus with such a broad philosophy.  The result of this mess is a party that tacks to the right on important social issues because it has to find enough votes to overcome the automatic Republican filibuster.  But the center-right is not where innovation blossoms.  It is inherently conservative and much for the status quo.  People in the center want compromise (I should know ... I spent much of my life there) and the “middle ground”.  The center is also largely silent (Nixon liked to call them the “Silent Majority”).

I’m not a raging liberal but I realize (now) that one has to be of a liberal persuasion in order to effect change.  Conservatives fear change ... it is their psychological character.  But holding on to old ideas and ways of viewing the world will not alter the simple fact that it has changed.  We are no longer the only 800 lb. gorilla in the cage.  There are several more and, frankly, they are younger and stronger than us.  We need to adapt to a different world and to start thinking about the type of country we want in the future.  Obama is an improvement on Bush/Cheney but he is not good enough.  And we, the people, are not good enough either.  We have become complacent and willing to take the token gifts offered by our leaders instead of demanding the whole solution.  That will not suffice to fix what ails us.  Either we demand real change or we are doomed to quickly fade into irrelevance.  Is that what we really want?

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By montanawildhack, September 14, 2009 at 3:28 am Link to this comment

The great author and poet Edward Abbey was Right On when he said that it is time for the soldiers to come home from the pointless wars and begin pointing their guns at the REAL EMEMIES in our capitol buildings….

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By Inherit The Wind, September 14, 2009 at 3:20 am Link to this comment

Yet again, Hedges passion clogs his brain.  With usual destructive “progressive” dogma, he helps the Right undermine a Democratic President. They never figured out that because doing it to Johnson was justified since his war got 58,000 Americans killed, that you didn’t have to do it to EVERY Democratic President.
They did it to Carter.
They did it to Clinton.
They are doing it to Obama.

Hedges is wrong.  The nutty fascist right is ALREADY entrenched and have been ever since Carter was undermined, letting Reagan into office.

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By ardee, September 14, 2009 at 3:01 am Link to this comment

We are a damaged nation, as the author and the two posts preceding mine so eloquently note. We are also a nation of people seemingly far too easily led, and that may be the most difficult obstacle to change.

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By thebeerdoctor, September 14, 2009 at 1:43 am Link to this comment

Chris Hedges writes: “The myth of war is too enjoyable, and too profitable, to be punctured by reality.” Is this not true of nearly all aspects of American life these days? You have the so-called tea-baggers who channel all of their xenophobic rage for the benefit of Dick Armey and Steve Forbes, along with the CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America, so that their Freedom Works Foundation works diligently to end Medicare, privatise Social Security, abolish Net-neutrality, and make sure the billionaires pay the same flat tax rate as people making 20 thousand a year. But forget about asking these supporters why they promote this cause: They Do Not Care To Listen.
Hedges’ collective existential rant, which is essentially the fault dear Brutus is not in the stars, but in ourselves, is correct and timely, but will largely be ignored. Especially by those who feel Glenn Beck has been given a raw deal, by anyone who questions his patriotic veracity, because after all, is he not our protector and saviour from the evil ACORN?
The return of Don Imus to televised national coverage of his radio show, reveals that if you are a handy enough tool for the power structure, and you make them enough money, any transgression can be forgiven, provided there is some cooling off time… like NFL quaterback Michael Vick.
The Obama disappointment thing is way overrated. Those who are shocked that he turns out to be a Corporate enabler should have actually read what he was saying all along. If you misunderstood? Well as Barry himself would say: that was just the overheated rhetoric of the campaign.
As the crime boss on the Supreme Court, ‘Big Tony’ Scalia would say: “just get over it!”

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By Peter, September 14, 2009 at 1:37 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I’m sorry, are you saying that we’re to up in arms against Obama because of the
war in Iraq and Afghanistan? Wasn’t it this conservative right you speak of that
put us in that war? And you go on to personify the hellaciousness of war and
the alienation which follows, but not once mention how it is Obama’s fault?

Would you rather the ‘Obamanation’ flee from what we’ve undertaken during
Bush’s administration? The Iraqi’s say they don’t want us but we can’t leave
them either.

Next Mr. Hedges,
“It is we who are guilty for failing to defy a Democratic Party that since 1994
has betrayed the working class by destroying our manufacturing base, slashing
funds to assist the poor and cravenly doing the bidding of corporations.”

Citation please? Wasn’t Halliburton a Cheney pet project?

If you’re so pissed about war and the remnants, why not attack the military
industrial complex. As Eisenhower stated, it is horrible for this country. Just as
bad as the capitalism which drives us to outsource to developing nations. 

How many companies are tied into this industrial complex?

And how much have we been spending on such?

Total Contracts Recorded: 2,096
Total Contracts Dollar Value: $175,426,147,172  

But what about before Obama?

Political outcry is perfectly fine isn’t it? But pointing fingers and saying bread is
cake isn’t so nice.

Peter 18, DE

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By C.Curtis.Dillon, September 14, 2009 at 1:15 am Link to this comment

How familiar these word sound.  My father “survived” WW2 but came home a different man.  He marched with Patton across Germany and became one of the first Americans to enter the Bergen-Belson concentration camp.  He took rolls and rolls of pictures during his journey.  Many found their way into a scrapbook of his many exploits.  A battlefield commendation for valor when his platoon was caught behind enemy lines and so many scenes of “domestic” bliss during a hurried dinner next to their jeep.  But the most haunting were the bodies ... thousands and thousands stacked up like cord wood.  And the obscene black ink protecting their private parts (compliments of army censors) while the far greater horror was the dead stares and emaciated bodies which screamed of the atrocities that befell them.

He returned a hero and once again went back to work and started raising his 2 young boys.  But I know, even though I was very young, that he was deeply troubled.  He had lost his center and became angry far too easily.  His ghosts must have been overwhelming because, one night he simply said goodbye to my mother and disappeared into the darkness.  Next morning they found his body, a large caliber bullet hole in his right temple.  His demons had prevailed.

Only those who have never experienced war can so cavalierly send our most precious resource onto the killing fields.  War is rarely justified and all too often victory damages both victor and vanquished.  As Chris Hedges so accurately depicts, those who experience the carnage and survive are haunted by their deeds forever.  America is not threatened by the Taliban and we cannot win any war in Afghanistan when the local people do not believe in the cause.  We learned this in Vietnam but seem to have forgotten.  The Afghan people don’t want us anymore so we should leave.  It is their life and their future ... we have no part in it.

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By Mac, September 14, 2009 at 1:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Thank you Chris,

That was a great piece.  I am sickened by what I see in the U.S. today.  If Obama were to ask Americans to march en masse to capitol hill and demand single payer health care, or at least a high-quality public option, I believe there would be a lot of participation. He hasn’t done that, and he won’t.  Grass roots organizations need to organize that march now. 

The only hope is if we can get 5 million people marching - so many that the media can’t ignore it.  And they must stay there until congress and the prez do what’s right for us, not the corporations.  Progressives have tried to take over the Dem party at different points during the last 40 years but have been thwarted by the “centrists” or blue dogs or DLC members who are no different than the repugnantcants, and the MEDIA that always paint the progressives as far out there “leftists”, extremists, out of the mainstream, etc.  The MSM knows exactly how to manipulate public opinion to maintain the status quo.

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