obama

For A’ That 44 – In The Free World

OE6YVYB7For the 44th episode of the For A’ That podcast  Andrew and I were joined by Christopher Silver.

Christopher is one the team that has been bringing some of the best and most talked about vids in the indyref campaign so far, and they’re currently in the process of making a feature-length documentary about it.

We talked about what stage they are at with the film and when and where we can expect to be seeing it.

That moved us on to the importance of crowdfunding in the campaign.

Everyone’s favourite Gitmo Non-Closer stuck his oar in last week, so we had a natter about that.

Will Scottish Independence deal cancer research a blow? The Express seemed to think so, we were less than convinced.

Also, given the increasingly surrealist note of the No campaign, I decided to take the Yes side on a more surrealist journey, and therefore talked about aliens.

There’s all that and much more.

Hope you enjoy (and if you feel up to helping us along with our running costs you can pop us a donation too.)

This is the direct download link (right click and save as)

You can listen to the show online at its web page

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Rattled

I’ve never been the biggest fan of Obama for a number of reasons, one of the chief amongst them being that fundamentally he has changed very little.

I’m also not the biggest fan of Bill O’Reilly, even though it should be obvious why, I think the section on him in this should provide more information.

Therefore, a discussion between the two isn’t natural viewing but I watched it anyway.

The thing I’m sure you’ll notice if you watch it is how badly rattled Obama was and how unconvincing. Very unusual from him.

For A’ That 12 – In And Out

Tory ConferenceBack to our roots this week as it was Andrew and myself having a chat.

We talked about the EU from a few different perspectives. The referendum and how it will affect things was one topic and we had a natter about some of the fundamental misunderstandings about what the EU is/does as well.

How the EU referendum might change things over at Holyrood got an airing. Could it strain the Unionist alliance?

The European Court of Human Rights has also been in the news a bit more than normal recently. Andrew has some interesting ideas as to why.

The rhetoric and the reality of what Obama had to say for himself this week was our final little topic.

This is the direct download link (right click and save as)

You can listen online at the homepage.

Or you can also get us on itunes.

Change You Can’t Perceive In

Change into a truckSo Obama makes a very mildly left-wing speech and everyone is slavering, I just don’t get it sometimes. The evidence does not support the level of jubilation from some on the left.

I saw it as pointing things in the right direction possibly, but no more than that.

Seem harsh? Well, 4 years on and gitmo still exists, drone attacks are continuing and probably increasing around the world. The list is extensive and depressing. I went into greater length about it here.

I imagine the speech, much like Obama’s presidency, will annoy the right-wingers without actually bringing about any real substantive change in how society over there works.

I know this has been stated a billion times but it is still important to repeat it – most of the policies carry on as normal whether it is the democrats or the republicans. There is some tinkering around the edges and a marked difference in presentation, but the basic neoliberal package and American Empire deal stays the same.

I have annotated a bit of what he said below to finish…

A decade of war is now ending (is it?). An economic recovery has begun (maybe).

We will defend our people and uphold (and export, even to those who don’t want them) our values through strength of arms and rule of law (it really depends on how you want to take this one). We will show the courage to try and resolve our differences with other nations peacefully – not because we are naïve about the dangers we face, but because engagement can more durably lift suspicion and fear. America will remain the anchor of strong alliances in every corner of the globe; and we will renew those institutions that extend our capacity to manage crisis abroad (I hope this means renewing them in a way that means that the US doesn’t have complete control over them any more), for no one has a greater stake in a peaceful world than its most powerful nation.

If Obama really wants to do some of the things he hinted at, then good luck to him and I hope it works.

Still have my doubts though, sorry.

For A’ That – Episode 3 – Dissonative Cognizance

Well that title was a nice wee word joke, wasn’t it? No? Ach well.


Anyway, in this 3rd episode of the For A’ That podcast The Peat Worrier and myself have a little more international outlook than usual as we talk about the US election a little but also relating to how people on this side of the Atlantic tend to see these affairs.

We also talk about the resurrection of Gordon Brown and Alasdair Darling. “Jam tomorrow” is also discussed, as well as why the ‘No’ campaign insist on bringing up Spain all the time.

Something of a running theme in the episode is the idea of cognitive dissonance, which is why I have written that title.

I hope you enjoy it, I think it was a rather interesting episode, no I don’t, yes I do, no I don’t. Oh damn, this dissonance thing is troubling.

You can download directly as mp3 here (right click and save as)

Or you can go to the page and listen online.

Calm Your Jets (Planes)

When Obama won 4 years ago, a number of people took the huff with me for mentioning these facts that I had found (via Andy Best)…

So, Obama’s in and all us ‘liberals’ are happy.

Just imagine if McCain had won and we saw the following aspects of his campaign carried through:

  • – Continuation of the ‘war on terror’ including more troops into Afghanistan (back to the stone age not enough) and promises to cross borders (invade) others if they ‘don’t comply’ – ie invade Iran and Pakistan.
  • – a promise to take intervention in latin America “further south” ie ‘deal with’ Venezuela and Bolivia
  • – national/single payer healthcare completely off the table.
  • – full support of the Cuba embargo
  • – refusing to be photographed with the mayor of SF so not to appear as supporting same sex unions.
  • – commitment to draconian immigration policies such as the mexico border wall.
  • – penal system and capital punishment off the table as is gun control
  • – 700 billion handout to companies who preach no nationalization and private competition

The thing that I then said of course, which some people took objection to, is that those were things from Obama’s campaign the first time round, not McCain.

Let’s look at the record. In an interview from last year with PBS Frontline programme in the USA, John Rizzo of the CIA who had this to say…

…while candidate Obama “promised a sweeping overhaul of the Bush administration’s war on terror” and “a top to bottom review of the threats we face and our abilities to confront them,” Rizzo explains that, in fact, Obama officials during the transition made clear to the CIA that they intended almost complete continuity.  And Rizzo was joined in this assessment today by Dick Cheney, who — as recounted by his long-time faithful stenographer, Politico‘s Mike Allen — cites this continuity to (once again) claim “vindication”; said the former Vice President, “[Obama] ultimately had to adopt many of the same policies that we had been pursuing because that was the most effective way to defend the nation.”

I’m sure part of you wants to take issue with the last line there, but Change?

Well what about the fighting, Afhganistan? Still there. Yemen, oh, they are there. Libya, been there. Officially troops are out of Iraq, but there are lots of grey areas in that. Change?

George Monbiot puts the lie to notions of any kind of green or progressive climate change policies in this article.

Neither a CIA official nor George Monbiot could be accurately described as the radical left, so what do some of them have to say about Obama? Well, have a look at this list of some of the things he has done…

  • Signed the NDAA into law – making it legal to assassinate Americans w/o charge or trial.
  • Initiated, and personally oversees a ‘Secret Kill List’.
  • Waged war on Libya without congressional approval.
  • Started a covert, drone war in Yemen.
  • Escalated the proxy war in Somalia.
  • Escalated the CIA drone war in Pakistan.
  • Maintained a presence in Iraq even after “ending” the war.
  • Sharply escalated the war in Afghanistan.
  • Secretly deployed US special forces to 75 countries.

Many things in that list concern civil liberties, so what do the American Civil Liberties Union have to say about him…

“The Obama administration has endorsed many of the Bush administration’s national security policies,” says Jameel Jaffer, director of the American Civil Liberties Union – a leading US liberal rights group.

Mr Jaffer says this includes “policies that were regarded three or four years ago as the most extreme of the Bush administration’s policies.”

The most symbolic example is the prison at Guantanamo Bay, which Obama promised to close within a year during his 2008 election campaign, but which continues to detain inmates indefinitely and subject them to military trials, rather than trials in open court.

It may be unfair to blame President Obama for this – he initially tried to close Guantanamo but was ultimately blocked by Congress.

“But the administration does have the ability to fight back against those restrictions,” counters Jaffer.

“The administration does have the ability to go to the American people and say these restrictions don’t make any sense. That’s something that the president could have said and didn’t.”

All I am saying is that after 4 years, quite frankly, not much has changed. The only possible reason there could have been for voting for him was simply that he is not Mitt Romney. The 2 party left-right charade in the USA has been going on for so long and elections there were memorably described by John Pilger thusly…

They are a ritual danse macabre of flags, balloons and bullshit, designed to camouflage a venal system based on money power, human division and a culture of permanent war.

To finish, as was stated before, if you want some change – and this time he won’t have the excuse of needing to be re-elected – how about this for starters

“…if President Obama were serious about hope and change, he’d close the prison tomorrow, apologize to the detainees, and offer them financial reparations. That could be promptly followed up with the immediate indictment of all government officials (including those in Obama’s administration) responsible for supporting torture, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, extrajudicial punishment, etc. And why not toss in the immediate closing of the US military base at Guantánamo Bay and the return of that land to Cuba? That, I submit, would be a minuscule first step upon which we could build.”

 

Cringe You Can Believe In

After a few years it is fair to say that Obama’s neoliberal stance is clearly obvious.

It was also obvious before the election but a lot of people wanted to believe the myth.

Looking back on the few years we have had of continuing aggression and some seriously dodgy policies, I wonder how the writer of this astonishingly fawning article, written in 2008,  feels now. I present you just a small extract…

Is Obama an enlightened being?

No, it’s not merely his youthful vigor, or handsomeness, or even inspiring rhetoric. It is not fresh ideas or cool charisma or the fact that a black president will be historic and revolutionary in about a thousand different ways. It is something more. Even Bill Clinton, with all his effortless, winking charm, didn’t have what Obama has, which is a sort of powerful luminosity, a unique high-vibration integrity.

Maybe better to look at the thing in right way would be this article, by a markedly different author, which was written in 2009…

“…if President Obama were serious about hope and change, he’d close the prison tomorrow, apologize to the detainees, and offer them financial reparations. That could be promptly followed up with the immediate indictment of all government officials (including those in Obama’s administration) responsible for supporting torture, secret prisons, extraordinary rendition, extrajudicial punishment, etc. And why not toss in the immediate closing of the US military base at Guantánamo Bay and the return of that land to Cuba? That, I submit, would be a minuscule first step upon which we could build.”