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« Living in Small, Weak Countries | Main | Linkage »

April 29, 2009

Obama in Popular Culture

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Has there been a political figure since JFK who has had Pres. Obama's impact on pop culture iconography? Che, maybe? In New York City, Obama's face sometimes seems to be everywhere.

You can buy a Warholesque framed portrait from an art gallery:

obama_portrait_in_gallery_window02.jpg

Or you can keep it real, man, and make your Obama purchases on the street:

obama_trinkets_for_sale02.jpg

Feeling a little sour? Freshen your breath with an Obamamint:

obama_mints02.jpg

My favorite recent Obama appearance, though, was on the over of a New Age/Yoga giveaway magazine.

obama_on_new_life_cover01.jpg

New Life editor Mark Becker said this in his editor's note:

I want to thank my dear friend Peter Max for creating and donating his portrait of President Obama, who I affectionately call Om-Bama, to adorn our cover ... We are living in very exciting time since we finally have a president who realizes what is broken and is willing to go out on a limb and step up to the plate to make these changes to create the America that our forefathers dreamed of.

"Om-baba" -- talk about hopeful!

Meanwhile, back in the real world, Pres. Obama seems to be carrying on as you'd expect any well-connected, know-it-all, Ivy Keynesian to behave. Here's how financial blogger Doug Henwood -- a lefty who favors nationalizing banks, so don't look at me that way -- evaluates Obama's performance:

So far, the Obama administration’s notion of change, when it comes to this bailout, is to replace the Goldman Sachs alum at the top of the Tarp apparatus with a Merrill Lynch alum. Wow, that’s change we can all believe in, eh?

Henwood is always worth a read, I find. While I can't get on board with the solutions he favors, his criticisms and observations often strike me as smart and informed.

What does Obama represent to some people?

Best,

Michael

UPDATE: A good passage from anti-globalist lefty Naomi Klein:

Wall Street funded Obama’s campaign. They funded his Inauguration. They paid huge speaking and consulting fees to some of his closest advisers. What I am calling corruption is better understood as “crony capitalism.” It’s the systematic trading of favors between corporate and political elites to secure wealth and power. And the truth is, most of the time the trading of favors doesn’t even need to be explicit. It’s more that this corporate-political nexus creates an impenetrable culture in Washington, so the hedge-fund managers and bank CEOs are the ones who are in the ears of the Washington policy makers — they are their constituency, their community, the ones saying whether or not a given policy will work. And, of course, the problem is that the voices of regular people are left out.
posted by Michael at April 29, 2009




Comments

Can't take credit for this, Dennis Perrin put it succinctly: George W. Bush was a stupid imperialist. Obama is a smart imperialist.

Except for changes on stem cell research funding and abortion and some nebulous rhetoric about environmental regulation there are no major policy differences between Bush or what President McCain would do and Obama.

The major difference is stylistic. Obama has become a pop culture icon because his rhetoric is appealing if you accept it as genuine and don't delve beneath the surface.

Posted by: Peter L. Winkler on April 29, 2009 3:13 PM



his criticisms and observations often strike me as smart and informed.

That's what truly smart lefties often do. I am reminded of Giles Pontecorvo's smart political films like the Battle of Algiers and Burn! Quite perceptive. Hell, even Marx himself made some good good criticisms of capitalism:

LINK

LINK


Posted by: Thursday on April 29, 2009 3:20 PM



"What does Obama represent to some people?"

That they are better and more enlightened then others.

Posted by: Stupid Redneck on April 29, 2009 3:23 PM



"Out on a limb" to "step up to the plate" . . . and some people find yoga vacuous.

Posted by: Narr on April 29, 2009 4:19 PM



This crap almost drove me out of yoga classes. The level of sanctimony was thick as a brick.

Obama is the crowning achievement of the racial quota system. Since the proponents of the racial quota system have been lecturing us (and themselves) that racial quotas are the solution to all human problems, they have invested everything in Obama. He must be right. He must succeed. Or else... well, maybe racial and sexual quotas aren't the solution to everything.

Humans almost always overlearn lessons, creating the next problem. Since the end of WWII, and the end of the nightmare of Nazi-ism, liberals have been busy eradicting the "root problems" that caused the nightmare. They are well on the way to creating the root problems that will be the cause of the next nightmare.

Posted by: Shouting Thomas on April 29, 2009 4:45 PM



Obama is the tool of the you-know-whos.
You don't become a media darling without the, uh, media. They elected him and now they own and operate him.

In 10-15 years we'll look back on this time as directly analogous to the 90's looting of Russia. They raped Russia on the way up & they raped it on the way down. They're doing the same to the US. The best analogy for Obama may actually be Yeltsin.

Same group, same game, some of the exact same people (Larry Summers), different country, similar outcome. When it's over the US will be the former USSA -- a smoking ruin of Brazilification. They'll be long gone by that time, though, just as they're long since gone from South Africa and Russia...

Posted by: asdf on April 29, 2009 5:11 PM



asdf,

Its not the Jews who run the US--its the Roman Catholic Church.

Obama comes out of Chicago and Illinois, which are completely run top to bottom by the roman catholics. Just find out who runs Chicago, Cook County, and the State of Illinois executive, judicial, and legislative branches. Ditto for DC.

Do your research.

Posted by: Nano on April 29, 2009 8:48 PM



You're both wrong. It's not the Jews or the Catholics. It's the Templars working with the Freemasons! That eye on the back of the US dollar. Well, it's embedded with a microscopic camera that monitors your pants pocket. I'm not joking.

Posted by: JV on April 30, 2009 12:47 AM



Of course it was the Roman Catholics. Fucking Roman Catholics. Their manifest popery was warned against by the founding fathers and know-nothings alike. I mean, who did *you* think I meant?

You must be a crazy person to think that there is anything in common between Rahm Emmanuel, Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, David Axelrod, Tim Geithner, and Ben Bernanke...

And of course the Roman Catholics run Chicago. That's why when Blago faced off against Rahm, the New York Times (owned by a prominent Roman-Catholic family, the Sulzbergers) decided to nuke Blago.

That's also why Obama made his very first speech after winning the Democratic Nomination in front of a Roman Catholic church.

Please join me in my press campaign for a Pulitzer: pointing out the power of pedophiles and papists.

Posted by: asdf on April 30, 2009 2:15 AM



Ah, yes, he'll make this the country our forefathers dreamed of. As a student of history, I appreciate how long Jefferson, Madison, Adams et al labored over the founding documents, which of course called for high taxes, nationalization of industries, gun control, and enormous federal budgets with trillions of dollars of deficits built in, thus allowing future generations to pay taxes were imposed before they could vote.

It's all right there in the 10th amendment: "The federal government has the right to assume any powers it so chooses, despite any objections by the people or the states."

Becker is a @#$%ing ignoramus. If our forefathers woke up today, they would get their hands on some guns and start shooting.

Posted by: Tom Naughton on April 30, 2009 3:53 AM



Is the comparison to JFK quite right? I have the impression (open to correction) that the fuss about JFK was largely posthumous.

Posted by: dearieme on April 30, 2009 7:00 AM



"They funded his Inauguration."

Who funded Bush' last inauguration which cost more than Obama's? Hmmmm? I love how the "conservative" love to point at the cost of the inauguration, while ignoring the fact that it cost no more than any other. Oh, and did you miss the fact that most of Obama's campaign chest came from "special interests"? And, by "special interests", I mean individual donations.

"called for high taxes, nationalization of industries, gun control, and enormous federal budgets with trillions of dollars of deficits built in, thus allowing future generations to pay taxes were imposed before they could vote"

Thank goodness finally got the Republicans out so we could put an end to that!

Posted by: Upstate Guy on April 30, 2009 9:38 AM



"If our forefathers woke up today, they would get their hands on some guns and start shooting."

Don't you worry Mr. Naughton, we're gonna have plenty of shooting. Seriously...

Posted by: Stupid Redneck on April 30, 2009 9:51 AM



Posted by Upstate Guy at April 30, 2009

We were told that with Obama, things would be different. Last time I checked, Goldman Sacks of Our Money was still running the gov't. Now we're told, well, Bush did it too. Yay! That makes it OK! Don't be angry at Mr. Naughton, be angry at Naomi Klein!

Posted by: Stupid Redneck on April 30, 2009 10:48 AM



I don't blame the Jews or the Catholics, and I don't think either of them runs the USA.

It's JV. It's JV who owns this country. It's JV who's responsible for everything going wrong. 9/11. The financial collapse. Seth Rogen becoming a star.

It's not them. It's him.

The Truth is out there, asdf and Nano. LOOK INTO IT, M*THERF*CKERS!

Posted by: Truthie McTruther on April 30, 2009 11:07 AM



Michael asks an excellent question, "What does Obama represent to some people?"

Offering a handful of Obama images in the Warhol style that have been appropriated for commercial purposes and a soundbite from "New Life", New York's Guide to Yoga Awareness magazine (which is so quintessentially new ageist as to seem a parody of itself) sets the tone for responses. The links, interestingly, are provocative critiques of Obama's financial team and the bailout of Wall Street from the perspective of a pair of leftists.

So, the answers are beginning to come in. To some people Obama represents "Change", the symbol of racial equality, and a good marketing opportunity. To others he represents the crowning achievement of the racial quota system, or the tool of the you-know-whos ... although there seems to be a bit of a dispute over whether the you-know-whos are the Jews, Roman Catholics, or Commies. Personally, I'd say tool of the global corporatists, but that's just me.

Posted by: Chris White on April 30, 2009 12:01 PM



Personally, I'd say tool of the global corporatists, but that's just me.

So you're done "waiting and seeing?" Attention everyone, it is now OK to criticize Obama!

Posted by: Wait n' See on April 30, 2009 12:58 PM



In all seriousness, Obama is a president with a personality that seems to mean a lot to certain groups of people. Last time we had a president with such an iconic personality was probably Reagan. Plenty of likenesses of him back then, if I remember correctly, although they weren't Warholian.

Personality and style aside, he's turning out to be just another tool of corporations, mostly financial institutions. It's a bit of a disappointment, but I never got my hopes up that much anyway.

Posted by: JV on April 30, 2009 1:35 PM



asdf,

Obama comes out of Chicago, which is run by the Catholic Church--here they are, all the Roman Catholics who run Illinois:

Mayor Richard Daley
Cook County Board President Todd Stroger
Cook County Commissioner John Daley, who runs Todd

Speaker of the Illinois House Mike Madigan
Senate President John Cullerton Jr.
Governor Pat Quinn
Ex-Governor Rod Blagojevich
Attorney General Lisa Madigan
State Comptroller Dan Hynes
State Treasurer Judy Barr Topinka

GOP Party Chief Andrew McKenna
Dem Party Chief Mike Madigan

US Senator Dick Durbin, Senate Majority Whip

Federal Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald, the policeman

You cannot get on the ballot in Illinois without the consent of the Catholic hieriarchy of Chicago, period. They run Chicago and the State of Illinois. Obama is the boy of Cardinal Francis George, because he never would have been a state senator or a US senator without Church approval.

Look at all the Catholics in Obama's cabinet:

Hilary Clinton (raised Roman Catholic)
Robert Gates
Ken Salazaar
Thomas Vilsack
Hilda Solis
Kathleen Sibelius
Shaun Donovan
Ray LaHood
Janet Napolitano
Lisa Jackson

And the whole military and intelligence services

Mike Mulligan, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff
Robert Muller, Head of FBI
Leon Panetta, CIA Chief

Tony Blair recently converted to Roman Catholicism
George Bush is considering converting
Jeb Bush is a Catholic and high level Knight of Columbus
George H. W. Bush is a papal Knight of Malta
Ex-CIA chief (2001) George Tenet is a Knight of Malta
Ex-FBI chief (2001) Thomas Pickard is a Roman Catholic

That makes the Iraq War a New Crusade.

In terms of the media, New-Corp Rupert Murdoch is a papal Knight of St. Gregory

Thomas Middelhoff, CEO of Bertlesmann is a Catholic

If the jews actually ran anything, they would have one billion followers the world round, like the Catholic Church and Pope. But they don't. The Vatican has always had jews on its payroll to dangle in front of an angry populace when things go wrong. And they will again in the coming financial collpase of America. You are an ignorant anti-semite. Get an education about who really runs the world. The Catholic Church runs it buddy. Woe to the rube who thinks in the dem-repub paradigm, or blames the blacks and jews. Where's P.T Barnum when you need him?

Posted by: nano on April 30, 2009 6:36 PM



Since his administration is now just 100 days into a four-year term, I still have a wait and see attitude. Just as I still view him as merely the better of the pair of choices our Duopoly gave us to pick from this time around ... not that that is anything more than faint praise indeed.

What I do find curious is how quickly his detractors have moved from fear mongering about him as a radical leftist, closet Islamist, to calling him out as an elitist tool of Wall Street Jews.

Posted by: Chris White on April 30, 2009 7:15 PM



The whole phenomenon is such cloying, awful kitsch, isn't it?

Posted by: Tom on April 30, 2009 9:00 PM



Obama's campaign was in large part funded by super-rich individuals, many from financial circles: such as George Soros and the Sandlers (billionaire ex-owners of Golden West). "Wall Street" as an institution? I don't think so. Wall Street paid off, as always, when it looked like Obama would be a winner. Given the radical intrusion of the Federal government into financial business, and the enormous amounts of money being ladled out, it would be fiduciary malfeasance for any Big Finance management not to get on board with the winners.

This of course leads to regulatory capture, and crony capitalism, which is a form of corruption. It's been known for decades that Democrats are the biggest advocates of "corporate welfare".

BTW, Blowhards, ISTM you have a nutcase on your hands. The Catholic Church is the secret backer of the most pro-abortion President in history? I don't think so.

Obama himself? I think that for a large segment of the population he represents the embodiment and empowerment of "hip". He's relatively young, he's black, he's urban... A quintessential late Boomer.

(Parenthetical note: Obama will be the first modern President whose home away from the White House will be deep in a major urban center - presenting a number of novel security and logistics issues.)

For a larger, substantially overlapping segment, he represents the revived "liberal" or "progressive" program - a "Good Guy", who has the Right Background, and wants to do all the Right Things, as opposed to those dreadful Bush Republicans. They invested all their hopes in him.

Posted by: Rich Rostrom on May 1, 2009 1:55 AM



Obama is the boy of Cardinal Francis George

http://www.suntimes.com/news/politics/obama/1508134,cardinal-george-notre-dame-obama-invite-040209.article

Cardinal Francis George called the University of Notre Dame's decision to invite President Obama to speak at its commencement an "extreme embarrassment" to Catholics.

"It is clear that Notre Dame didn't understand what it means to be Catholic when they issued this invitation," said George, who made his remarks at a conference Sunday hosted by the archdiocese's Respect Life office in Rosemont.

Posted by: asdf on May 1, 2009 2:21 AM



Love the Klein quote. Brava!

Posted by: Lester Hunt on May 1, 2009 8:29 AM



BTW, Blowhards, ISTM you have a nutcase on your hands.

I resemble that remark!

Consider these items:

George W Bush is going to convert to Catholicism so that he can have sex with his daughters.

The Trilateral Commission was recently made a personal prelature of Pope John Paul II (and if you believe John Paul--so called!--is dead, then I have a Ponte Vecchio in Rome with several Grand Wizard King Kleagle Star Lodge Masons dangling from it to sell you).

A member of the Unites States Senate was seen reading the comic strip Cathy. In 1985. Cath-y. Cath-olic. In 1985, only one year after nineteen eighty four. Coincidence? I think not!

I is the 9th letter of the alphabet. K is the 11th letter of the alphabet. 9/11 --> IK. Ik. As in Cathol-IK. Coincidence? I think not!

I could adumbrate further, but the Spanish Inquisition is knocking on my door. And I didn't even expect them!

Pray for me. Just make sure to use a Protestant Bible.

Yours in sola fide because it's not like I've got any facts or anything,
Nano Nano

Posted by: Nano Nano on May 1, 2009 10:39 AM



For once, Naomi Klein has said something that I agree with. The Wall Street/Washington DC axis is crony capitalism just like the crony capitalism that is common in Asian countries like Japan and Korea. The big corporations have the connections with big government and they reward themselves appropriately.

The problem I have with Klein is that she correctly points out the evil of big business/big government, but then goes on to blame "free markets" in general. What she complains incessantly about is not real free markets, but should properly be called corporate socialism.

Posted by: kurt9 on May 1, 2009 5:01 PM



kurt, I would argue that crony capitalism is the inevitable result of a poorly regulated free market.

Posted by: JV on May 1, 2009 11:33 PM



JV,

I don't think I agree with you. I think much of government regulation has the result of protecting big established businesses from competition by smaller and leaner start ups. I think this is especially true for the auto and medical industry. Much of auto manufacturing regulation is to prevent competition from the Big 3 auto makers. FDA regulation makes it enormously expensive to develop new biomedical therapies and medical licensing gives the AMA and state medical boards monopoly power.

The hard core leftist, Noam Chomsky, has admitted that the Fortune 500 would not exist if it were not for government regulation and specialized tax breaks. The fact that he still favors big government (and big business despite fully admitting this makes it clear that he is evil.

The more I think about it, the more I disagree with you on this. Big government and big business have the fact that they are big in common with each other.

In any case, I do not believe the political process is capable of delivering anything useful to me. I believe that individuals and small groups are only capable of positive change. It is for this reason that I think the most positive trend in the next decades will be the emergence of the open source DIY biology. If molecular nanotechnology proves to be possible, this will empower individuals and small groups even more. I believe that Peter Thiel is correct when he says the ultimate battle between good and evil in our time is that between technological innovation vs. the political process.

Posted by: kurt9 on May 2, 2009 2:55 AM



kurt, I agree with a lot of what you're saying. My point is not that a regulated market, no matter the quality of the regulation, is a good thing. And perhaps you're right in that GOOD regulation is impossible under our current system. But it seems to me that many of the most recent market-based catastrophes have been triggered by a lack of oversight. I'm thinking mostly of the California energy crisis of a few years back and our current banking mess.

I agree with you 100% that it will be DIY endeavors that move us forward, and that technological advances are making those endeavors both more accessible and more impactful.

Posted by: JV on May 2, 2009 1:27 PM



Re regulations, free markets, banking, etc ... And just putting this out there ... (I know all too well that I have nothing of my own to add here.)

I had lunch a little while ago with a guy who has mucho experience in investment banking and the loan biz. I grilled him a bit about what went wrong. He seems to be a good, knowledgeable guy; he seemed to be speaking to me openly, reflectively.

Anyway, here's what his basic explanation for the disaster was. Not that there was no regulation. Not that the regulators were corrupt. Instead what went wrong was that the financial market's innovations outpaced the ability of the overseers to make sense of what was going on.

"You know that old cliche: the reason wars are such disasters is that the generals are always fighting the last war, not the current one?" -- he said something like that to me.

In other words: credit default swaps? No one -- and certainly nobody in the "regulators" class -- had any realistic idea of how they'd behave, or even what risks they presented. Why? Simply because no such product had ever been seen before (and because regulators, like most people, tend to be a little conservative in the wrong way -- they tend to do what they've always done, even when situations change).

His other interesting contribution: He goes to D.C. and works with politicians and staffers. How does Obama's economic team strike him? "Very smart, very academic, and completely beholden to their political and financial masters."

How about the politicians, especially the Senators and Congresspeople? Well, my acquaintance said they're often empty suits, often stupid, and that even the smart ones are too caught up in politics to even begin to understand what's really going on.

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on May 2, 2009 1:44 PM



My point is that Klein is off base criticizing free markets, in general, when she is really complaining about the problems of corporate socialism. I believe her problem is that she is deluded enough to believe that there is a "top-down" solution to whatever problems she yaks about.

I do not believe in top-down solutions to anything. Top-down "solutions" are necessarily zero-sum and I consider "zero-sum" solutions to be immoral.

The California energy crises of 2000 was caused by state-level government regulation that made it essentially impossible to build new generators in California and other regulation that allowed the utilities to buy their power from whomever based on price, but did not allow them to SELL the power at whatever price. Thus, all of the utilities went "temporarily" insolvent.

Posted by: kurt9 on May 2, 2009 4:14 PM



asdf and Nano Nano

I see the rabid anti-semites have dismissed the truth of the control of Rome over the United States and the world. Oh well.

As far as Francis George not liking abortion, then why does he allow those procedures to be done in his Catholic hospitals? The church says one thing publicly, and then does another secretly. BTW, Francis George also says he doesn't condone pedophilia among priests, but he's done his best to ignore rooting out pedophile priests in his diocese and the families of those victims. So much for what Francis George says. Obama is Fracnis George's boy, because you can't get on the ballot in Illinois if the Catholic Church doesn't like you. You guys don't know how things work. the catholic control of the largest states in America is obvious. Just look at California, Florida, Michigan, etc. The only place jews manage to eeke out the semblance of control is New York. But upstate New York is controlled by Catholics (look at the governor's office).

As far as the fake Nano Nano, continue with your brethren to root around in the dark, trying to figure out why your country engages in perpetual wars, soaring debts, the creation of a fascist corporate/government police state, loss of individual freedom, and economic impoverishment, all while maintaining the illusion that you run the show through the ballot box. As you laugh at the idea that the Old World completely runs the new, I laugh at the morons who sit in their armchairs watching TV and playing with the internet, all while thinking they run America. That is truly laughable.

Its amazing how you can tell people the truth and they deny it. You run nothing. The jewish heirarchy have been the puppets the Catholic monarchs and Pope since the Middle Ages. NOthing has changed. The Old World infliltrated and took over the rogue colony long ago.

Posted by: Nano on May 3, 2009 4:32 PM






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