Thursday, November 27, 2008

The curious case of Ken Haywood

From August 13, after the Ahmedabad serial bombings claimed by "Indian Mujahideen":
Ken Haywood, the American national from whose Internet Protocol (IP) address the Terror e-mail was sent prior to the Ahmedabad serial blasts, underwent lie detector tests on Wednesday, a senior police official said in Mumbai. Maharashtra’s Anti-Terror Squad (ATS), which is probing the case, traced the e-mail to Haywood’s flat in Navi Mumbai and found that his background and job were “of a slightly dubious nature”. But the information available so far is not good enough to charge him or suggest his involvement in the case.

“We have conducted inquiries on Haywood’s background and his company. These are of a slightly dubious nature, and even the company he works for and its office are a bit suspect,” ATS chief Hemant Karkare told The Indian Express. “However, this does not directly link him with the case in any way. After all, having a suspicious background, or even working for a bogus company is not enough to book anyone for involvement in terror activities,” he added.

G S Hegde, Haywood’s lawyer, said: “The ATS has not said anything about Haywood’s personal life, or his involvement in any criminal activities. We maintain he is innocent.”

The police in Mumbai and Bangalore have said there is primary evidence to show that Haywood’s wi-fi account was hacked into and compromised, resulting in the terror e-mail on July 26 — five minutes before the blasts. Questions remain as to who did it and how they picked on Haywood’s computer network.

Haywood is supposed to be a corporate training manager and general manager with a company called Campbell White, which describes itself on its website as a “premier executive soft skills trainer”.

On the corporate side, Daniel Rubianes is the managing director of the company with its main office at the first floor of the M S Plaza in east Bangalore. Rubianes, like many other employees of Campbell White, wears a second hat. On Thursdays and Sundays, he is pastor Dan Rubianes, the head of the Door Christian Centre — a church with origins in Arizona in the US but relatively new to India. Door Christian Centre is a part of the Pentecostal Christian Fellowship Ministries, also known as the Potter’s House. Haywood is a functionary of the Potter’s House in Mumbai.

August 19:

In a dramatic development in the terror email case, US national Ken Haywood, who had yet to be given a clean chit, flew out of the country with his family from Delhi late on Sunday night despite a lookout notice given to the immigration authorities.
According to sources, Haywood, his wife and their two teenaged daughters took a flight to Delhi from the Mumbai domestic airport on Sunday afternoon. They then took a flight to the US from the Indira Gandhi International Airport in Delhi between midnight and 12.30am, sources said.
Maharashtra's Anti-Terrorism Squad (ATS), which had summoned Haywood for questioning on Monday afternoon, was at a loss to explain how a person under investigation in a terror case managed to slip away.
In fact, this has led to speculation that the Indian government allowed him to leave the country. The US consulate in Mumbai refused to say anything on the case citing rules.
Historian and journalist Amaresh Misra:

Mumbai and India Under Attack

It is 4AM in India right now. I am in Mumbai reporting from the ground. I have not slept a wink. Mumbai is under attack. People and forces who killed Mahatama Gandhi, who demolished the Babari Mosque have triumphed. More than 16 groups of terrorists have taken over Taj, Oberai and several hotels. Hundreds of people are dead. For the first time no one is blaming Muslim organizations. The Mumbai ATS chief Hemant Karkare and other officers of the ATS have been killed. These were the same people who were investigating the Malegaon Blasts–in which Praggya Singh, an army officer and several other noted personalities of the BJP-RSS-Bajrang Dal-VHP were arrested. Karkare was the man to arrest them. Karkare was receiving threats from several quarters. LK Advani, the BJP chief and several other prominent leaders of the so-called Hindu terrorism squad were gunning for his head. And the first casualty in the terrorist attack was Karkare! He is dead–gone–the firing by terrorists began from Nariman House–which is the only building in Mumbai inhabited by Jews. Some Hindu Gujaratis of the Nariman area spoke live on several TV channels–they openly said that the firing by terrorists began from Nariman house. And that for two years suspicious activities were going on in this house. But no one took notice.

Our worst fears have come true. It is clear that Mossad is involved in the whole affair. An entire city has been attacked by Mossad and probably units of mercenaries. It is not possible for one single organization to plan and execute such a sophisticated operation. It is clear that this operation was backed by communal forces from within the Indian State. The Home Minister Shivraj Patil should resign. The RSS-BJP-VHP-Bajrang Dal should be banned. Advani and others ought to be arrested. Today is a day of shame for all Indians and all Hindus. Muslims and secular Hindus have been proven right. RSS type forces and Israel are all involved in not only destabilizing but finishing India. India should immediately snap all relations with Israel. We owe this much to Karkare and the brave ATS men who had shown the courage to arrest Praggya Singh, Raj Kumar Purohit, the army officer and several others.

A photograph publushed in Urdu Times, Mumbai, clearly shows that Mossad and ex-Mossad men came to India and met Sadhus and other pro-Hindutva elements recently. A conspiracy was clearly hatched.

Monday, November 24, 2008

"Maroni should do what I did when I was secretary of the interior. He should withdraw the police from the streets and the universities, infiltrate the movement with secret (provacateurs) agents, ready to do anything, and, for about 10 days, let the demonstrators devastate shops, set fire to cars and lay waste the cities. After which, strengthened by popular consent, the sound of ambulance sirens should be louder than the police cars. The security forces should massacre the demonstrators without pity, and send them all to hospital. They shouldn't arrest them, because the magistrates would release them immediately, but they should beat them up. And they should also beat up those teachers who stir them up. Especially the teachers. Not the elderly lecturers, of course, but the young women teachers."

A senior Obama campaign official shared with The Washington Note that in July 2008, the McCain and Obama camps began to work secretly behind the scenes to assemble large rosters of potential personnel for the administration that only one of the candidates would lead.

Lists comprised of Democrats and Republicans were assembled, sorted into areas of policy expertise, so that the roster could be called on after the election by either the Obama or McCain transition teams.

This kind of out-of-sight coordination is rare between battling presidential camps and provides some indication that both Obama and McCain intended to draw expertise into their governments from both sides of the aisle -- or at least they wanted to appear interested in doing so if the information leaked out about the list development process.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Plunge Protection Team Protection Team

Cynical Illusions

Paul Street:
Before he could be in a position to be sold (brilliantly) on the mass American electoral market, of course, Obama first needed to sell himself to the national political and business elite that controls much of the political action behind the scenes. That sales job did not involve deceptive one- or two-message commercials and slogans. It was about candid, up-close meetings in which the candidate made it clear that he posed no substantive challenge to dominant domestic and imperial structures and doctrines. That earlier marketing project, ably recounted by Ken Silverstein and David Mendell, took place in late 2003 and 2004 and made possible the first great rolling out of Brand Obama during the senator's instantly famous keynote address to the Democratic National Convention in late July of 2004. It has continued behind the scenes ever since, with Obama continually reassuring his many big-money sponsors and corporate media enthusiasts that he is not some sort of starry-eyed idealist about to seriously question the interrelated hierarchies and ideologies of corporate-managed state capitalism, empire, and inequality.

The basic Obama message to the nation's ruling class - NOT advertised to the electorate - is that he is safe to concentrated power centers even if occasional populist-sounding slivers make their way into the construction of "Brand Obama." More than that, the campaign's message to the elite has included the promise that Obama will wrap reigning institutions and dogma in fake-progressive rebel's clothing and help repair the damage done to the United States' global public relations image by the vicious and clumsy post-9/11 excesses of the brazenly imperial Cheney-Bush gang.

Consistent with that hope, Advertising Age hails President-Elect Obama for producing "An Instant Overhaul for Tainted Brand America." The journal quotes David Brain, CEO of the global public relations firm Edelman Europe, Middle East and Africa, on how "the election and nomination process is the brand relaunch of the year. Brand USA. It's just fantastic."

Nick Ragone has an interesting resume. He is both "a presidential historian" and the senior VP of client development at the leading global advertising firm Omnicom Group's Ketchum. "We've put a new face on [America] and that face happens to be African-American," Ragone told Advertising Age. "It takes a lot of the hubris and arrogance of the last eight years and starts to put it in the rearview mirror for us."

Rigone might want to review Orwell's dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty Four on the deletion of unpleasant history - sent "down the memory hole" - by totalitarian communication authorities. "Rearview mirror" is code language for Orwellian revisionism.

Then there's the interesting commentary of Harvard Business School professor John Quelch. Quelch is a former "WWP Group" (a global advertising firm) board member and the co-author of a recent book with an oxymoronic title: "Greater Good: How Good Marketing Makes for Better Democracy."

According to Welch, echoing Orwell, "The election result zero-bases the image of the United States worldwide. We have a clean slate with which to work," Welch told Advertising Age. "Let us hope the opportunity is not squandered the way it was after 9/11."

According to Carolyn Carter, the London-based president and CEO and Grey Group Europe, Middle East and Africa (creator of the popular teeth-rotting "Coke Zero" ad campaign for Northern Europe), "The last eight years broke faith in Brand America, and people want that faith restored."

Enter the openly imperial Obama, who is "almost like Che Guevera, in a good way," according to Foreign Policy magazine's web editor Blake Hounshell. "He has icon status," Hounshell explains, "with the all the art around the world of his face." The difference, of course, is that Che boldly inspired radical challenges to the American Empire but Obama inspires captivation with the corporate-imperial U.S. and its supposed self-reinvention as a land of progressive democracy and endless possibility. According to Scott Kronick, global marketing firm "Ogilvy PR's" Beijing-based president, Obama's triumph "send a strong message to the world that despite what many people believe and feel...America can be very open, democratic, and progressive."

Monday, November 17, 2008

Getting Real Now

Paul Street, The Empire's New Clothes:

‘Holding Domestic Constituencies in Check'

At the same time, many in the establishment sensed (accurately) that Obama is particularly well-suited to the goal of wrapping corporate politics and the related American Empire Project in insurgent garb. Their profit- and empire-based system and "leadership" has been behaving so badly that a major image makeover is required to keep the rabble (the citizenry) in line. Once he was properly "vetted" and found to be "reasonable" - to be someone who would not fundamentally question dominant power structures and doctrines - Obama's multicultural background, race, youth, charisma, and even his early opposition to the Iraq War became useful to corporate and imperial elites. His outwardly progressive "change" persona is perfectly calibrated to divert, capture, control, and contain coming popular rebellions. He is uniquely qualified to simultaneously surf, de-fang, and "manage" the U.S. and world citizenry's hopes for radical and democratic transformation in the wake of the Bush-Cheney nightmare. As John Pilger warned last May:

"What is Obama's attraction to big business? Precisely the same as Robert Kennedy's [in 1968]. By offering a ‘new,' young and apparently progressive face of Democratic Party - with the bonus of being a member of the black elite - he can blunt and divert real opposition. That was Colin Powell's role as Bush's secretary of state. An Obama victory will bring intense pressure on the US antiwar and social justice movements to accept a Democratic administration for all its faults. If that happens, domestic resistance to rapacious America will fall silent" [8].

Obama's race is no small part of what makes him "uniquely qualified" to perform the key tasks of mass pacification for which he has been hired. As Aurora Levins Morales noted in a Z Magazine essay written for left progressives last April:

"We're far more potent as organizers and catalysts than as voters. Our ability to create a world we can thrive on does not depend on who wins this election, it depends on our ability to dismantle profit-based societies in which greed trumps ethics. This election is about finding a CEO capable of holding domestic constituencies in check as they are further disenfranchised and... [about] mak[ing] them feel that they have a stake in the military aggressiveness that the ruling class believes is necessary. Having a black man and a white woman run helps to obscure the fact that ...decline of empire is driving the political elite to the right. Both [Obama and Hillary Clinton] represent very reactionary politics...Part of the cleverness of having such candidates is the fact that they will be attacked in ways that make oppressed people feel compelled to protect them" [9].

Imperial ‘Re-branding'

The logic works at the global as well as the domestic level. A considerable segment of the U.S. foreign policy establishment thinks that Obama's race, name (technically Islamic), experience living (Muslim Indonesia, as a child) in and visiting (chiefly his father's homeland Kenya) poor nations and his nominally anti-Iraq War history will help them repackage the U.S. imperial project (replete with more than 730 military bases located in nearly every nation on Earth) in softer and more politically correct cover [10]. John Kerry, who ran for the presidency four years earlier largely on the claim that he would be a more effective manager of empire (and the Iraq War) than George W. Bush [11], was certainly thinking of these critical imperial "soft power" assets when he praised Obama as someone who could "reinvent America's image abroad" [11A]. So was Obama himself when he said the following to reporters aboard his campaign plane in the fall of 2007:

"If I am the face of American foreign policy and American power, as long as we are making prudent strategic decisions, handling emergencies, crises, and opportunities in the world in an intelligent and sober way....I think that if you can tell people, ‘We have a president in the White House who still has a grandmother living in a hut on the shores of Lake Victoria and has a sister who's half-Indonesian, married to a Chinese-Canadian,' then they're going to think that he may have a better sense of what's going on in our lives and country. And they'd be right" [12].

What Obama didn't tell reporters was that his idea of "prudent" and "intelligent" foreign policy is strongly committed to U.S. global hyper-militarism and world supremacy, including unilateral action whenever "we" deem it necessary to "protect the American people and their vital interests" [13].

Obama's distinctive biography is one of his great attractions to the mostly white U.S. foreign policy elite in a majority non-white world that has been deeply provoked and disgusted by U.S. behavior in the post-9/11 era (and truthfully before). He is a perfect symbol of deceptive imperial "re-branding." According to the power-worshipping and unconsciously imperialist New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof three weeks ago, the election of a black president "could change global perceptions of the United States, redefining the American ‘brand' to be less about Guantanamo and more about equality" [14]. Never mind that the U.S. remains the most unequal and wealth-top-heavy country in the industrialized world by far, strongly dedicated to maintaining steep socioeconomic and disparity within and between nations and scarred by a domestic racial wealth gap of seven black cents on the white dollar.

Call it "the identity politics of foreign policy." The Empire wants new clothes and Obama is just the man to wear them.

"If there's anyone out there who still questions the power of our democracy..."

The first public words out of Obama's mouth on the evening of his election were richly consistent with his assignment of restoring legitimacy to the American System. "If there is anyone out there who still doubts that America is a place where all things are possible.....who still questions the power of our democracy," Obama intoned, "tonight is your answer" [15].

Our supposed "left" President-Elect's first statement was NOT a call for peace, justice, and equality. It wasn't a call for America to confront the inseparably linked problems (what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called the "triple evils that are interrelated") of economic exploitation, racism (deeply understood), and militarism-imperialism.

No, it was a Reagan-like declaration bolstering the American plutocracy's ridiculous claim that the U.S. - the industrialized world's most unequal and wealth-top-heavy society by far - is home to a great democracy and limitless opportunity for all.

And what's with the word "still" (used twice) in Obama's assertion? It's not exactly like the case for the U.S. being a great popular democracy has been made with special, self-evident strength in recent times! The last three-and-a-half decades have brought the deepening top-down infliction of a sharply regressive corporate-neoliberal policies that are widely (but irrelevantly) repudiated by the majority of U.S. citizens [16].

In this century we've witnessed the execution of a monumentally criminal petro-imperialist Iraq Invasion sold to the U.S. populace by a spectacular state-media propaganda campaign (including preposterous claims of noble democratic intent Obama has embraced) that mocked and subverted the nation's democratic ideals. Dominant U.S. media's role in the invasion of Iraq marks perhaps the all-time low point of the "free press" in the U.S. [17]. The "democracy disconnect" - the gap (chasm really) between majority public opinion (which supports things like national universal health care, significant reductions in military expenditure and imperial commitment, massive public works, reduced corporate power, etc.) and "public" policy - is a widely acknowledged problem in American political life [18]. The specter of homeland totalitarianism - please see Sheldon Wolin's recent book Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism (Princeton, NJ, 2008) - has never loomed larger than in the opening decade of the 21st century.

"If there is anyone out there who still questions the power of our democracy"? Hello? How about: "Is there anybody who seriously thinks we really have a functioning democracy in the U.S.?"

8. John Pilger, "After Bobby Kennedy There Was Barack Obama," Common Dreams, May 31, 2008, read at
9. Aurora Levins Morales, "Thinking Outside the Ballot Box," Z Magazine (April 2008).
10. James Traub, "Is (His) Biography (Our) Destiny?" New York Times Magazine (November 4, 2007). See also Liza Mundy, "A Series of Fortunate Events: Barack Obama Needed More Than Talent and Ambition to Rocket From Obscure State Senator to Presidential Contender in Three Years," Washington Post Magazine (August 12, 2007).
11. See Paul Street, "Bush, Kerry, and ‘Body Language' v. ‘Message': Notes on Race, Gender, Empire and Mass Infantilization," ZNet Magazine (October 12, 2004).
11A. John F. Kerry, "Truly Transformative," Newsweek (April 28, 2008): 34.
12. Quoted in Traub, "Is (His) Biography (Our) Destiny?"
13. For truly ugly details, please see the fourth chapter - titled "How ‘Antiwar?' Obama, Iraq, and the Audacity of Empire" - in my book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics.
14. Nicholas Kristof, "Rebranding the U.S. With Obama," The New York Times, October 23, 2008, p. A27.
15. Barack Obama, "Remarks on Election Night," Chicago, IL (November 4, 2008), read at
16. For one among many sources, see see Jeff Faux, The Global Class War: How America's Bipartisan Elite Lost Our Future and What It Will Take to Win it Back (New York: Wiley, 2006).
17. For some important recent reflections, see John Bellamy Foster, Hannah Holleman, and Robert W. McChesney, "The Military/Industrial/Media Triangle," Monthly Review (October 2008), pp. 15-16.
18. For sources and details, see Paul Street, "Americans' Progressive Opinions vs. ‘The Shadow Cast on Society by Big Business,'" ZNet Sustainer Commentary (May 15, 2008), read at

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Friday, November 14, 2008

(Very Belated) Ronnie Drew Appreciation

Seven Drunken Nights

The Auld Triangle: Featuring Charles Haughey! (and U2)

Monto (at the Royal Albert Hall)

Forgiveness, Redemption, America

A comment on this post by Greenwald:

We have a financial crisis, two wars and a president-elect who won on a strategy of post-partisan politics. We all know Bush was small-minded and quite possibly a criminal, and we certainly should get the facts out (behind closed doors) so this does not happen again. But a political witch hunt for bureaucrats would send Obama home after four years. The entire affair would become immensely political and discredit Obama's whole appeal to the MIDDLE MAJORITY. No self respecting Democrat wants to see America's dirty laundry aired after we have just won back a big dose of good will from our international friends. Isn't it remarkable how many people they've been able to convince that their fate depends upon letting our political leaders break the law without consequences?

Greenwald's response:
If the Government were to create the position of Brainwashing Czar -- or Citizen Control Czar -- and that person issued a report recommending that the Government try to inculcate the population into believing that it was for their own Good that political leaders were free to break the law and not be prosecuted, nobody would think it possible. Everyone would say: "oh not, not even the most potent brainwashing techniques, applied to the most mindless and subservient population, could ever convince them of that."

And yet, right here in my very own comment section, you have one person after the next coming forth to say how all of the Important Things the New Leader has to do for them means that, for their own Good, the Old Leader and everyone who worked with him must be given carte blanche to commit crimes.

Really stunning.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Thursday, November 06, 2008

I Have A Dream

On Vietnam

Rahm Emanuel

Writing back in February about Lawrence Lessig urging Americans to cast Obama as the Prez:

So I want you to shut your eyes and imagine what it will seem like to a young man in Iraq or in Iran, who wakes up on January 21st, 2009, and sees the picture of this man as the president of the United States. A man who opposed the war at the beginning, a man who worked his way up from almost nothing, a man who came from a mother and a father of mixed cultures and mixed societies, who came from a broken home to overcome all of that to become the leader in his class, at the Harvard Law Review, and an extraordinary success as a politician. How can they see us when they see us as having chosen this man as our president?

There can be no clearer way that we could say, that we could say that the United States could say, that we have changed, than by electing this man. There is no way we could more clearly move on toward peace than this. He represents the very best of who we are, the best of character, of integrity and ideals. And someone who opposed the war from the start.

Just picture it - the faces of those young men, all over the world, from Borneo to Nome, their eyes agleam, cut to the madrassah in Northern Pakistan, to the café in Gaza, to the slums outside Mexico City, see the wonder and happiness, face - face- face - hear the soundtrack swell...Filipinos, slowly beginning to applaud...worshippers in Mecca, looking up, as one, to read the news in skywriting overhead, slowly releasing smiles....O...B...half an A... and in Sierra Leone someone lifts a scarred limb and cries Obama! There won't be a dry eye in the house!

And here the entertainment industry really delivers:

Here's the UGC version:

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

"The Content of His Character"

"all I have heard from the US is a strange elation and this from people who normally don’t lean toward optimism. " – steppling at Lenin’s Tomb

That strange elation. Yes. An inexplicable euphoria. Sadrugestrane was right wasn’t she? It became evident on election night. I know those were all real tears, Keith Olberman’s and Jesse Jackson’s. And mine. And my friend’s with whom I stayed up late, on the phone watching MSNBC on the web. And saying of some missed old folks how sorry we were they’d not lived to see it – as over the past years we sometimes said when feeling sad one consolation was they had not lived to see so many things. My friend voted for McKinney that afternoon – NYState was safe enough. On election night we were so moved it was strange, really really nervous and then really really elated, strangely, like the feelings were being shot into you like a drug, my friend said she felt like her emotions were attached to strings being yanked... it was so eerie.

-what's this feeling?

-what is it, I know this feeling!

-lemme think shhh! Shhh!

- baseball

- uh-hunno. No. Shhh!

-like a familiar scent that just…

-Spielberg! It’s Spielberg euphoria!

- yes! exactly! ET! Schindler's List!

And then all those flags in the park in Chicago, so scary suddenly. I thought about sadrugestrane’s comments which I had just read a little before and started telling my friend. Those flags and the ebullient youth, American rebirth, and the old men veterans of the civil rights movement saying "I never thought I'd live to see the day...." , renewal, rebirth (rebranding) and everyone in tears, and then there’s Obama.

“If he says…if he says that I’m going to freak out.”

He said it, though. Immediately. The immediate assertion that if anyone is worried about the United States’ ruling class’ power, about its lawlessness and ruthlessness, about power concentration in the US, anyone worried about civil liberties and the vestiges of democracy, about crimes against humanity, the closing possibility of progressive politics, the loss of influence of the US citizenry over their so powerful state, the global hegemon, just put that thought aside....America is a beacon....America is the world leader because of its inherent virtue…America is unique….uniquely Good….the way he worked in I Have A Dream to mark then versus now (we have judged him by the content of his character)....the way he said "opportunity" instead of "equality"....that ultra frightening creepy sea of stars and stripes, t shirts and baseball caps, and close-ups.

The whole thing was suddenly obviously completely ersatz, completely managed, a completely commodified grass roots movement like MobLogic.Tv is CBS Interactive’s pseudo indymedia. That ice rink at Rockerfeller Plaza, the tension and the release, very much a spectacle, a pageant, the rebranding of the American empire, even the beginnings of the creation of an American master race, a new kind of race, Herrenvolk 3.0, the antiracist master race, the antifascist fascism. MSNBC takes you to his father's little hometown in Kenya, roots, "we are the world", we own the world. The US has always used blackness this way, culturally imperialistically, to disguise imperialist capitalist power in popular black culture etc.. Then of course my friend and I are thinking we're so cynical, and paranoid, but those American flags, and that dreadful speech, and all this self-congratulation by the citizens of a country in the course of escalating crimes against humanity, somehow brought to cheer the belligerence and the bullshit they are actually mobilised to oppose, to buy the cause as the cure, and it all so easily distracts from the massive concentration of power and capital going on, it's all so reassuring – see? Our election special shows it’s still possible to have a clean election, it’s still possible to have crowds in the street who aren't getting teargassed, young people opposing the current regime vocally not handcuffed and arrested as terrorists etc etc.. If you just accept the patronage and leadership of the elite, you can vent in the streets all you like.

Something so incredibly creepy ersatz spectacle imageverse descended over the Historical Moment as we watched it (on the web, talking on the phone). Even though of course it is really real, people's feelings are real, the support is real but all absorbed by what is unreal, by image, by not even convincing image. It's good enough, this flimsy image, because there is no competition. (Yes yes, but Bullshit does matter! Bullshit is all that matters! It's all there is after all!) And it happens before your eyes, the substance evaporating into image. The opposition to the occupations is real but taken under the direction of the beneficiary and protagonist of those occupations; the desire for the redistribution of wealth is real but simply harnessed and transformed into support for the plutocrats, just the way real desires for real goods and real satisfactions are channelled into purchases of iPhones and sneakers. The whole movement is real, real discontent and real desires but seized, given form, organised by a massively costly, centrally planned marketing operation by the oligarchy around a main character cast by Wall Street to be the protagonist and hero of all this, not chosen by people or rising through a movement, chosen by Wall Street and given the resources to organise dispersed grievances around him into an ersatz movement given value by real movement content, enclosing real public fury and willingness to be active that lacks any left organisation to organise it, enclosing that and arranging it around this appointed leader, laying claim then to all the appearance of legitimacy that expropriated reality of political activism, clustered around him and the democratic party wall street machine, grants. And so he deftly ornaments it in these phrases of MLKJr and these images and gestures to the past, spectral spectacle of a real movement, but this is the commodified “movement”. It’s made out of real popular politics just the way commodities are made out of real labour and talents and efforts and lives; there’s a use value there but it's transformed into the property of the plutocratic oligarchy who will use it, have used it, for their own ends. Amazing enclosure and exploitation. Real popular politics are enclosed to be turned to the profit of empire.

But for several weeks before the election "Steal Back Your Vote" was among the top Google searches. One is tempted to believe the plutocrats have done us all a favour without knowing it, sort of the way Marx saw capitalism creating conditions for socialism. "Steal back your politics."

The Audacity of Despair

Although polls going into the final weeks of October showed Sen. Obama in the lead, it remained unclear whether the failing economy, dilapidated housing market, crumbling national infrastructure, health care crisis, energy crisis, and five-year-long disastrous war in Iraq had made the nation crappy enough to rise above 300 years of racial prejudice and make lasting change.

"Today the American people have made their voices heard, and they have said, 'Things are finally as terrible as we're willing to tolerate'," said Obama, addressing a crowd of unemployed, uninsured, and debt-ridden supporters. "To elect a black man, in this country, and at this time—these last eight years must have really broken you."

Added Obama, "It's a great day for our nation."