From Hope to Fear: The Obama Obfuscation

It is going to be one of the Great Questions of the era we currently find ourselves in.

How did this guy:

tumblr_md31dmr7aq1qzupj0o1_500Turn into this guy:

BMaF3jqCMAAGZSpSince the start of the year Obama’s administration has been deluged with a series of quasi-Nixonian scandals: a two month phone tapping exercise led by the Department of Justice on Associated Press journalists (the AP responded by calling it a “massive and unprecedented intrusion”) and the news that the IRS targeted a number of right-wing campaign groups in a move that might at best be described as “dodgy”.

Then came the revelation that US government was basically spying on everyone through PRISM, a top-secret surveillance program that gathered intelligence from Microsoft, Facebook, Google and other Silicon Valley giants.  Obama’s response to these exposures was a study in intellectual dishonesty that you really ought to see here:

Really watch Obama in this video. Note the slight hunch, the greying hair and his unsmiling minders behind him. He waves away the greatest denouement of government intrusion into the private lives of its citizens in history with a flippant conveyor belt of platitudes and blandishments. Observe adages as tired as his body language, 58 seconds of crap like ‘trust’, ‘oversight’ and ‘bad guys’.

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You cherish the constitution? Bullshit. PRISM and its associated programs take the 4th amendment, hose it with gasoline and light the bastard thing up. Obama, lest we forget (or try and make excuses for him) is a constitutional law professor who knows exactly what it is that he has helped to dismantle. He is up there with this guy now:

I didn’t want to believe that Obama was just another political hack. Back in 2008 he seemed like a radical departure from the stuffy, fed on lies and bullshit world of Clinton and Bush. Obama graced paragraphs with Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks and yeah, you know what, it felt right. Obama seemed to be the promise of America made flesh. Anything could be projected onto Obama and the Brave New World we hoped he represented. Obama the apotheosis of progress. Obama the harbinger of a new age of racial harmony that would spirit us away from old dysfunctions and conflicts, Obama the story: his journey from the working class to the White House was Gatsby-ish in its scope and emotional resonances. This was before he was even inaugurated, before he even fucking did anything at all – the guy was an action figure before he was the President. Seeing the name of Dr King or Ghandi or Mandela in the same paragraph as Obama’s brings home the nauseous realisation that they don’t have anything in common at all.

obama-wins-reelection-memes

 

No one cares though. No riots, no demonstrations, no real outcry outside of the Guardian comment section/stoned guys on Reddit strata of society. The American public actually seems to love being spied on and here in Britain there is one CCTV camera for every 14 subjects (we’re not technically citizens in the UK). Voltaire reminds us how dangerous apathy is:

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I find myself watching Obama on television and not really recognising what he has become. The firebrand from 2004, the avatar of hope in 2008 has become the dull diet Bush of 2013. The only real ‘change’ Obama has wrought has been in this transformation, this sacrifice of his values. It is hard not to feel angry, hard not to feel betrayed at some personal level. View his metamorphosis here:

I haven’t even mentioned his failure to close Guantanamo Bay prison, his use of a fleet of robotic aerial drones to hose liquid metal death on third world shepards without recourse to international law. These facts, and every scandal of the last few months are symptomatic of a flawed and dysfunctional administration.

Christ, I’m starting to sound like FOX news.

 

 

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2012 in Review: Part 3 – Obama Sleepwalks, Romney Blunders and the BBC explodes

Obama - better than you now, in the past and almost certainly in the future.

Obama – better than you now, in the past and almost certainly in the future.

Enough about Bane, what about Bain? Former CEO of Bain Capital (the kind of organisation that nearly sliced James Bond in half with a lazer) Mitt Romney managed to make people with access to television news in 2012 feel comforted – ‘no, I’m not as stupid as that guy’ people said the world over. Whether he was casually flipping through ‘binders of women’, telling us with a straight face that ‘corporations are people’ or pissing off the whole of Great Britain on a foreign relations tour that was more Peter Griffin than presidential, Romney managed to make even the biggest imbeciles feel smart in 2012.

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The only thing pleasing about Romney’s presence was the obviousness of his ultimate absence from the presidency. The worldview Romney represented is currently flowing down a demographic sinkhole into political irrelevance; old rich white guys won’t be able to get away with telling people to ‘self-deport’ much longer, they can’t even get away with it now anyway. Barack Obama, despite numerous achievements, even the fact that he is President at all (reading ‘Dreams from My Father‘ this year I was struck by just how incredible a man Obama is), has been disappointing – the fact that Guantanamo Bay is still open, Drones still buzz around shredding civilians with about as much discretion as Britney in a hairdressers and a more general malaise in his presidency – a sense that he has allowed the extremist wing of the Republican party to set the political agenda since 2010, all added up to a feeling of impasse around his presidency.  Yet Barry remains the first man to sleepwalk his way to the White House, his lethargic debate performances and the notion that his election was a statistical inevitability rendered the election itself oddly artificial, devoid of real drama.

Great Britain puts its collective ring on it.

Great Britain puts its collective ring on it.

I’m one of those annoying hipster types that was not looking forward to the London Olympic Games in 2012. There was that ugly red squiggle ‘sculpture‘ in the olympic park, the crappy corporate hysteria that surrounds every games and the frankly bizarre science fiction sex toy mascot things. Thus, having spent most of the summer organising  all the sarcastic things I would say about the games in my head for the inevitable Twitter free-for-all that would ensue, I ended up massively disappointed. In the best possible way. Being a Londoner this summer was like being a Bolshevik in October 1917. It was more than ok. It was a dimension away from the London of a year previously, as if the city had demarcated two periods of craziness, one bad (buildings on fire, lots of trainers stolen), one good (slow motion montages of healthy role models, lots of gold medals won). You would walk around and see random people smiling, grinning even. The weather was a delight. We won a silly number of medals. Luis Suarez was booed with delirious abandon in the football tournament but not as much as slimy puss-cheeked Tory Chancellor George Osbourne was whenever he creeped into an Olympic venue.

Jess Ennis - um yes.

Jess Ennis – um yes.

We booed! We cheered! We had debates about the intricacies of sports that we didn’t understand on Twitter. We realised that as well as having much better booty, Jess Ennis was a much better role model than Pippa Middleton. We laughed as jumped up diet-Bieber Tom Daley only managed a bronze after the media had spent four years wanking over pictures of his bronzed torso and TOWIE tooth filled maw. The opening ceremony was a sensational triumph (even though nobody talked about how most of its best imagery was nicked from the film ‘Brazil’). The BBC surpassed itself with glorious seemingly 24 hours a day coverage, whilst avoiding the temptation to roll out the John Barrowman/Tess Daley/Fearne Cotton axis of evil. Outside of expunging the image of Boris and Dave dad-dancing, the legacy of the games so far (writing this in the first week of 2013) seems to consist of this and this. Generation. Inspired.

If you closed your eyes and were asked to draw a pedophile it would probably look a lot like this.

If you closed your eyes and were asked to draw a pedophile it would probably look a lot like this.

What next for the BBC after a year of acclaimed sporting coverage? A massive sex scandal/cover-up involving that dead bloke who dressed like a sweet shop and inspired more nervous laughter (Jimmy Savile) than anybody else in British history? Indeed. The Savile scandal was the most genuinely lurid and disconcerting story of the year. Unlike Joseph Kony, Savile didn’t need to be made famous – he was famous, perhaps the most famous British television/radio personality of the last half-century. His eccentricism:  the manner in which he spoke, dressed; his reclusive personal life, all marked him out as ‘different’. A friend to Prince Charles and Thatcher, the first host of Top of the Pops, a man who raised £40 million for charity. 

Entertainer. Philanthropist. Pedophile.

Entertainer. Philanthropist. Pedophile.

Yet Savile’s sexuality had always been questioned. There have been idle pub jokes: “I wish everyone would stop criticising Jimmy Savile. When I was 8, he fixed it for me to milk a cow blindfolded” and so on. More famously there was the Louis Theroux documentary “When Louis met… Jimmy” in 2000, which painted Savile as a sad man, desperate to remain in the public conciseness but without public intrusion into his public life; a cipher in his own home clinging oedipally to objects that reminded him of his late mother.  In October a storm broke; Savile it appeared was a predatory sex offender and possibly even a necrophiliac. As these allegations broke, day after day, the media – and in particular our dear BBC became a chickenless head that frankly didn’t have a fucking clue what to do. Panorama was investigating Newsnight, and Newsnight was investigating itself and Jeremy Paxman didn’t know who to ask questions of and Esther Ransen wouldn’t shut up about how much she loved kids and ITV was laughing a lot and Philip Schoefield gave David Cameron a list of names (Sorry Lord Mcalpine) and Eamon Holmes and these women presumably felt ashamed. Total chaos then. Personally I would’ve dragged Prince Charles out in front of the flashbulbs and asked him some impertinent questions but he is a prince and we are a bunch of peasants, so that kind of thing doesn’t happen in this country. I was reminded of my old school. The whole affair was succinctly surmised by my mother: “He’s ruined the 70’s for me”. Quite. In related news the Pope got twitter this year, @Pontifex.

Kent Brockman: Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it's time for our viewers to crack each other's heads open and feast on the goo inside? Professor: Yes I would, Kent.

Kent Brockman: Professor, without knowing precisely what the danger is, would you say it’s time for our viewers to crack each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside?
Professor: Yes I would, Kent.

As a year I think it’s safe to say that 2012 began in January and finished unexpectedly in December. It was a decent enough year, lacking a bit of the sparkle of 2011. The bloke shouting “FENTON” was no Rebecca Black for example. Or maybe it was? That will be for the historians to decide in the years ahead of us. I look forward to 2013; Joseph Kony’s continuing, epic game of hide and seek, the Pope’s first hashtag and best of all a film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.