by Randy Shields
The “Obama Phenomenon” is a world-class consciousness-destroyer, guaranteed to burn a hole in your soul. Millions of once-progressive minds have fallen victim to the scourge. “Obama users have turned on friends and colleagues who kept their principles regardless of which capitalist flunky commits the crimes.”
Your Brain on Obama: Waiting for the Man
by Randy Shields
This article previously appeared in Counterpunch.
BAR editors’ note: We think this piece is just as relevant after the election, as it was before November 6.
“What will they do in January when Obama starts shot-gunning them with Social Security and Medicare cuts?”
This is your brain on Obama:
Smoking Obama increases apathy and reduces empathy, regardless of race, creed or color. Now blacks, as well as whites, don’t care in the least how many dark-skinned people America kills throughout the world. Before the Obama epidemic, the entire American working class had no class consciousness, but now it’s most historically progressive element (blacks) has no race consciousness either. (Blacks, like all factions of the Democrats, only have symbol consciousness — tangible improvements are never required.) For American capitalism, that Obama is some good shit.
Using Obama makes some people prone to wild mood swings and abrupt changes in personality. In their brainwashed cult-like state, Obama users have turned on friends and colleagues who kept their principles regardless of which capitalist flunky commits the crimes. What were shameful atrocities ten minutes before Obama was inaugurated suddenly became badges of “toughness” after he swore to uphold/destroy the Constitution. (Take your pick — that’s what he does.) Obama users need treatment but, unfortunately, funds have been fast and furiously diverted to buy guns for Mexican drug cartels.
Sometimes the initial Obama trip will ruin a life for years. After that first big hit of Obama on election night four years ago, liberals soon papered over their “Question Authority” bumper stickers with a smorgasbord of new ones: “War Is Oftentimes The Answer,” “Love Your Mother Drone,” “All Options Are On The Table,” “Visualize World Domination,” “Live Simply — That’s All You Can Afford Now, Assholes,” “The Earth Does Not Belong To Us — It Belongs To The US,” “Please Spy On Me And Strip Me And Check My Cavities And Make Me Safe,” and “Indefinite Detention And Execution Without Charge Or Trial: Fuck Yeah!”
Mainlining Obama emboldens liberals to express their racism in the socially-acceptable way of hating another “other,” the Muslims, whose women cover up their heads and sometimes aren’t allowed to drive, things that keep white liberal women awake at night. These liberals are righteously certain that head scarves and no learner’s permits are bigger problems for Muslims than racist American goons kicking down Muslim doors at midnight and taking away adult males to be tortured and jailed for years without charge or trial, or Muslim children living in constant terror of America’s flying killer robots that circle the skies above their schools and houses. Enjoy your freedom, ladies, as you drive from your nonpaying job at home to your three/fourths-paying job at work while being carpet-bombed by the messages of “your” society, freedom central, that says you’re either good for sex or good for nothing. But, damn, those head scarves could lead to sharia law — and lawn jockeys replaced by camel jockeys in the coming Allahbama! The horror, the horror…
“Union members forget that the current administration never lifted a finger to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed.”
Snorting Obama causes Hollywood celebrities to stand on the corner of Sunset and Vine, waiting for the Man for four years. When the Man finally drove up and rolled down the window, he took $15 million in exchange for this: “Yo, homies, you are way too rich and important to be treated like a plague of locusts anymore. I personally don’t care who you’re fucking or how you want to consecrate it. Just be responsible and practice safe democracy: never be a protester who fucks over a cop, never be a whistle blower who fucks over my government, never be a peasant who fucks over our demockracy-dispensing soldiers and, most importantly, never ever interfere with a rich person getting richer. Ah, you like that last one! Thanks for the cash! Love the rainbows! Peace out! …Step on it, I have to be at the pro-choice rally in 10 minutes to deliver my latest historic speech, ‘Combating the Politics of Fear.’ I hope the brochures are ready about the mysterious new group that’s backing Romney, the ‘Mormon Tabernacle Baby Fuckers and Coat Hangers for Christ Choir.’”
Throwing back too many cold wet Obamas can make union members forget that the current administration never lifted a finger to get the Employee Free Choice Act passed even though unions gave millions of dollars to Obama’s previous and current campaigns. See, junkies aren’t always skinny shadows in an alleyway — they can also be potbellied autoworkers taking a forty year spin, if they’re really lucky, in the walking dead wage slave treadmill.
Breathing in secondhand Obama makes right wing politicians absolutely crazy — they’re getting nearly everything they want but they hate it coming from a black man — so they become even more outrageous to justify their purpose and donations. What will they do in January when Obama starts shot-gunning them with Social Security and Medicare cuts! OMG, just close your eyes and enjoy it, Mitt and Newt, and all you other unelectable Republicans with ridiculous names. (What will be the names of Republican presidential candidates four years from now — Spooge, Suds, Glitch, Glub, Santorum, or will the eventual nominee’s name simply be changed to He Hate Me?) You don’t get it — you’re the joke now — all of the capitalists’ most important business is transacted through the Democrats. You’re the jesters and clowns. No one trusts you with how to roll back working class gains in Central and South America and give them back to the landed oligarchs and Wall Street, no one trusts you to breath new life into the formerly moribund American nuclear power industry, and you’re a long way from getting your black belt in Judo-Christianity and being able to instantly subvert the Arab Spring, turning it into a divide and conquer bloodbath for the benefit of the United States of Israel — they trust Obama and the Democrats for these “achievements.” Can you stand on your head, Mitt? Cool. What about walking on your hands? Or a cartwheel — let’s see a cartwheel.
William Burrough’s explained Obama’s “Naked Lunch” presidency a long time ago: 1) “Never give anything away for nothing” — like drawing down in Iraq while doubling up in Afghanistan and expanding war into Pakistan, Yemen and Libya. 2) “Never give more than you have to (always catch the buyer hungry and always make him wait)” — like: after eight years of the Bush/Cheney rampaging evil, give back some verbal crumbs but nothing tangible. 3) “Always take back everything if you possibly can” — like Social Security and Medicare, promised prosecution of CIA torturers and spying telecom companies, or offers of a public option in healthcare and closing Guantanamo.
So there you are, America: jonesin’, begging for a taste, standing on the corner on November 6, waiting for the Man.
“We have to get out of this sick dysfunctional relationship we have with the bad cop Democrats and worse cop Republicans.”
Disclaimer: This has been a public service announcement. It was not paid for by the bloodthirsty foaming-at-the-mouth kill-the-poor psychopathic Snidely Whiplashy revolting earth-hating racist bastards known as Republicans who are the final stage of Obama use. This is where Obama leads. Kicking Obama may result in four years of the DRs (the delirium romneys) that some people feel they won’t survive. However, many people are not, now, surviving Obama and the survivors are compromising away their lives, freedoms and living standards year after year, surrendering to the lesser evil du jour of the capitalist class. We have to get out of this sick dysfunctional relationship we have with the bad cop Democrats and worse cop Republicans. We have to stay away from them so that our heads can clear.
I understand someone not voting, for the good reasons set forth by Linh Dinh. (There have been many presidential elections where I haven’t voted because evil was the only item on the menu. My favorite votes were my 1976 write-in of Karl Marx and 2008 for Cynthia McKinney. In 1976, at age 20, I was actually expecting the Springfield, Ohio News-Sun to say in their post-election coverage: “… and Karl Marx received one vote.” I was hopeychangey before hopeychangey was cool. A few paragraphs from now, I’m going to make a case for voting for Jill Stein of the Green Party.) I also understand Obama’s Harvard law professor, Roberto Mangabeira Unger, saying in this astounding video, why it’s important that Obama lose, even though it means Romney winning, something crystallized again this week after seeing rancid pundit Joe Klein defending the drone killing of Muslim children on MSNBC — this is a mindset that needs jumped on with both feet. (It was up to MSNBC conservative Joe Scarborough to bring a touch of sanity by questioning Barack Obombit’s kingly murder spree across the globe.) The weakest arguments are for voting for Obama. If you believe in voting, shouldn’t politicians who don’t do anything you want be limited to one term? Fool us for four years, okay, but nobody should ever get the opportunity to fool us for eight. If there’s no electoral punishment, why would these politicians/criminals ever change their ways? Shouldn’t the attitude be: have some goddam self-respect — and bring on the next Devil?
And of course there’s no end to the Republican devils that Demoncrats can scare us with: The Republican hydra-head recently sprouted again with Indiana US Senate candidate Richard Mourdock who said, “Even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, it is something that God intended to happen.” Why does God never intend for the American people to be given a living wage or single-payer healthcare or affordable housing? No, God always insists that Americans be raped, because white midwestern yahoos say so. God, in His commendable compassion, always speaks to the stupidest motherfuckers alive because no one else will talk to them. Amber waves and fruited plains of flyover country nut jobs like Mourdock seem to guarantee coastal liberals in the bag for Ovomit no matter how many Afghani children he murders. Righteously condemning Mourdock was DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz who claimed on camera a few weeks ago that Obama doesn’t have a kill list. Since she missed it the first time on the front page of the May 29 New York Times, she’s just been given another chance to believe her lyin’ eyes with the October 24 front page story in the Washington Post, detailing Obama’s Orwellian death squad presidency. Obama, Romney, Klein, Mourdock, Schultz — one is as wrong and disgusting and as interchangeable as another, and if we don’t resist them we will become them — like the infected zombies in the movie “28 Weeks Later.”
“If there’s no electoral punishment, why would these politicians/criminals ever change their ways?”
Here’s my miscellaneous thoughts about voting or not voting or What To Do in general: There’s no harm in admitting that we are currently powerless over capitalism, that nothing works, voting doesn’t work, armed struggle doesn’t look promising, and general strikes and destabilization (ala the Vietnam years) are not on the horizon. Late stage American monopoly capitalism is one of the most effective slaveries in the history of the world. It’s absolutely totalitarian in that nothing positive is allowed to happen for the working class majority. It’s a madhouse where every law is written by the criminals themselves whether it’s prescription drugs, healthcare, forests or banking, and every protest movement (when there is one) is spied upon, infiltrated, disrupted and thrown into chaos until it’s silenced, co-opted or disappears entirely. And, yet, the demented slaves believe they are free and trudge onward with faith in their masters’ 3B Plan for spreading “freedom” throughout the world: brainwashing, bribery and bombs. Powerful nations like Russia and China continue to be encroached on and encircled by US military bases — and watch America destroy nation after nation in the Mideast — but have a puzzling lack of interest in slowing down the US juggernaut.
And America isn’t “lost.” The Skinner box of America is working beautifully for the ones who operate it. We’re lost because we keep wandering in a maze of hope and change and reform, encountering funhouse mirrors of greater and lesser evils, ever changing, morphing and repeating. We mistakenly believe that our identities are tied up with staying in the funhouse, we can’t imagine what we would do outside the funhouse, so we haven’t had the courage to shatter the glass and leave. We are constantly presented with images and artifacts about how great we are, how great we have it and how we have triumphed, like Ripley’s Believe It Or Not museums which contain sections of the real Berlin Wall.
Hell is other people, said Sartre. Hell is other Americans, say many of us. As one correspondent, Tony, wrote to me, “The working classes of imperialist nations have always been pretty detestable, haven’t they?” Yes, indeed, and this insight provides a possible direction for us. We need to start living for the world, for what’s right in the world because there are many right things in the world — we forget this because these things aren’t in America. Remember, we’re in lock down, every day we’re simply on guard, trying to avoid that next capitalist ass reaming around the corner — an unaffordable illness or injury, a job loss, a car repair that’s worth more than the car, Social Security and Medicare cuts, crashing deflation in everything we own and relentless inflation in everything we need (gas, food, medical care, health and auto insurance), an economic pincer movement whose message — to the old, the very young, the sick, the infirm, the crazy, the beat and anyone else who’d like to “cooperate” — is: get the fuck off the planet. The Republican and Democrat duopoly’s pretend presidential debates, like their conventions, are just another of their portable prisons that they drag with them everywhere, where nothing positive can be heard or said or done. There are many nations that have made tremendous gains in healthcare, literacy, living standards, income equality and land distribution. There are many empowered people in the world, but they seem to only become that way when their backs are against the wall. There’s no systematic, well-known and well-articulated plan for socialism, but millions have learned what’s hopefully a basic unforgettable lesson: that the more capitalism and the profit motive are pounded down, the more elevated is the mass of humanity.
We need to figure out ways of practicing international solidarity — financially, morally, socially and intellectually. Capital has no boundaries or constraints and neither should we. Borders are bullshit, they’re for slaves — what do I care if a million Central Americans come across the border tomorrow since I want this whole country upended and ungovernable anyway. “Governable” is the wrong word because it connotes some legitimacy when what we are is policed, not governed. We’re prisoners, not participants. We’re the enemy. We should be able to go anywhere we want in the world just as if we had the freedom of a dollar bill. (If the Federal Reserve has its way, our dollars won’t be welcome either.) Our friends and familiars aren’t in Washington, DC, they’re in the jungles of Columbia, the heroic rubble of Bint Jbeil in Lebanon, the governments of Cuba and Venezuela and Ecuador, the mines of South Africa, the virtualsphere of WikiLeaks, the streets of Athens. One day there might be millions of Americans knocking down the fence at the southern border to get out of this country.
“The more capitalism and the profit motive are pounded down, the more elevated is the mass of humanity.”
Although I’m voting, I recognize it as being pretty meaningless. But I think not voting is pretty meaningless, too, because the ruling class doesn’t care how illegitimate their elections are — what can you say about the US Congress which has a lower turnover rate than the old Soviet Politburo? Not voting doesn’t mean anything in and of itself — it only means something if it’s backed up at some point by armed force and rebellion — something “illegal” — against a totally illegitimate system. America could deteriorate to the point where only the 10,000 wealthiest families voted and, if there was no violent protest, it would continue indefinitely.
I vote for “illegality” when I’m able to. The Green Party’s ticket of Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala got my vote when they got arrested trying to crash the fake Obamaromna debate. I want to encourage more “illegality.” I want to pat “lawlessness” on the back. If comrade Linh Dinh convinces 1,000 people not to vote in the 2016 presidential election that’s quite an achievement, but will anyone know about it? If the actions of Stein and Honkala convince even 100 people to get arrested crashing the 2016 debates that will indeed get some attention, especially if it’s in conjunction with the League of Women Voters sponsoring presidential debates again, explicitly presenting the duopoly’s debates as bogus. Will any of that matter? Nope, not in and of itself, because it has to lead to something else — like general strikes, destabilization and/or armed rebellion. I feel that Stein and Honkala’s actions put us closer, though still far away. (American capitalism will probably destroy itself before we ever have the pleasure of doing it ourselves.) It gets more of the working class in the mindset that we’re right, the ruling class is wrong and that what they call “crimes” (our resistance) are really the paths to justice. Stein and Honkala’s arrests are what leaders do in a corrupt society where no “legal” change is possible — real and honorable leaders commit “crimes” and go to jail. Real dishonorable criminals “legalize” their crimes and stage manage the world to make sure that they are never confronted with their actions. Whether the certified war criminal or the uncertified war-criminal-in-waiting is elected, what we know for sure is that the vast majority of Americans do not want either one of them to be president.
I vote for any kind of “lawlessness” directed toward the American ruling class — they don’t have any rights, except to get the fuck out of the way of the world’s working class. I don’t share a “common humanity” with Ozombnie politicians. They’re monsters to me. (A small kudo to the Obama supporter in my area who drives around with a pet carrier strapped to the roof of her car with a stuffed dog hanging out of it, making fun of Romney’s wretched treatment of his real dog. Vacant vacuous Romney, Bain of every creature’s existence.) I vote for Jill Stein and Cheri Honkala’s civil disobedience and arrests. I would have liked Rocky Anderson and Gary Johnson and multitudes of their followers to charge the debate site and get arrested as well. The Republican and Democratic presidential debates are elaborately packaged deceptions with everything negotiated in advance. Cowards like Obama and Romney would never sit down for an hour on national television with an informed questioner like Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian — they only have the “courage” to bomb Pakistani, Afghani and Yemeni children from 10,000 miles away. The sexual predators of children are called pedophiles but what do we call the serial murderers of children? That’s easy: President of the United States of America. Look it up — it’s in the newspapers every week. If I haven’t told you yet today, America: fuck you. I rain thunderbolts on you. You don’t care about sunshine anyway, you like the funhouse darkness, your play world of fake images of yourself as big and powerful and free and noble and good. But outside in the sunlight, the world sees you as politically, morally, intellectually, socially, industrially and financially bankrupt. All that you have left is your dollar reserve currency status, backed up by drones, death squads, secrecy, surveillance and totalitarian stage management. Everything else is gone. Poof! Round up, stop, frisk, detain, deport, disappear, imprison, infiltrate, entrap, terrorize, dehumanize, scapegoat, render, torture and bomb the usual dark-skinned suspects, from sea to shining sea.