Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Rhetoric, hope, hysteria … [updated]

Obama Oath, by John Cox

Take away the hope, the expectation, the wall to wall and coast-to-coast hysteria  (from sea to shining sea) ... on substance I heard just this: Sacrifice, Duty, Responsibility to Others.

Did you hear that too?

He didn't actually say "Ask not what you can do for your country, ask only what your government can do for you" -- he didn't say those actual words, but that was the text at the top of his page.

He didn’t actually say “We have nothing to fear but fear itself,” but every sign says that Roosevelt’s incantation and that same idea that he could talk the world out of disaster in the same disastrous way were in the back of his mind.

This is the Year of the Depression. It will take more than fine words to fix it, and on substance we heard only this: rhetoric with only one message:  Give Up, Do What You're Told, Don't Be Selfish.

And if anyone thinks that is going to fix what ails the American economy, or bring hope, or rescue the American Dream (or protect the goddamn Constitution, which is what the Oath of Office required him to promise)... then I have a bridge to nowhere I can sell them.

Are you buying?

Obama's World, by John Cox

Obama's World, by John Cox. With thanks to Andrew Wyeth., and hat tip The Egoist

UPDATE:  Over the day I’ll be adding comments from some of the people I like offering some of what they think:

  • Myrhaf:  “Ever notice how Barack and Michelle Obama love telling the American people how much they will have to work?   In a free country a president does not tell people they must work hard. In a free country a president does not lecture people on their responsibilities…
        Barack Obama assumes power over a nation that he loves to remind us is suffering a dire crisis. He fails to understand that the crisis is due to massive intervention in the economy by the state. His solution to the crisis is much more massive intervention in the economy.
        Obama speaks grimly of the work we must do and the responsibilities we must bear because he hopes Americans will sacrifice for the collective good. It is his only conception of how to deal with the crisis: lead the collective in sacrifice.”
  • Edward Cline: “What do pirates, outgoing president George W. Bush, president-elect Barack Obama, and Congress all have in common?
        President-elect Obama, when he takes the oath of office on January 20th, will swear to protect the United States and uphold the Constitution. But as he made clear throughout his campaign, and has made clear in a number of television interviews and at press conferences since winning the election, he promises to do no such thing.
        Instead, he has promised to continue the federal government’s policy of “saving” the country by looting the productive private sector of wealth and manpower in a program that will make his hero, Franklin D. Roosevelt, look like a rank amateur. He will, with Congress’s help, add over a trillion dollars to the over trillion dollars rung up by the Bush administration.   
        Hypothetically, this represents a mortgage on the lives of two or three unborn generations. Hypothetically, because the economy and the country will collapse long before our elective oligarchy and its bureaucratic minions present impoverished Americans with the tax bill.”
  • Ari Armstrong: “I disliked quite a lot about Rick Warren's prayer at Barack Obama's inauguration. But he did have one excellent line, that we are united not by race and not by religion, but by our commitment to freedom. To the degree that the religious right -- and the religious left -- takes that insight seriously, we can all get along fine in the political arena.”
  • Edward Cline again: “Watching news media coverage of Barack Obama’s journey to the White House was much like watching the broadcast propaganda of a dystopian fantasy in films like V, or the Richard Burton’s1984, or Fahrenheit 451 -- except that the news media is not a vast government department spewing out lies and disinformation, haranguing and brow-beating the public, but a nominally independent entity reporting Obama’s triumph with deliriously mindless happy talk…
        Having written extensively on America’s Revolutionary period in fiction and nonfiction, I took special and personal offense to Obama’s Philadelphia speech on January 17th, in which he appropriated the Revolution without once mentioning the ideas that made it possible. In that speech, he turned those unnamed ideas inside out, pronouncing the words “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness,” but meaning entirely different things by them. Your “life,” he said or implied, is not entirely your own, but your neighbor’s or the nation’s; your “liberty,” he suggested, exists as long it is regulated if not otherwise prohibited; your “pursuit of happiness,” he insisted, is possible but not before you serve and sacrifice for the good and happiness of all.
        Lest it be thought that I am putting words into his mouth or twisting his meaning, read the transcripts of all of Obama’s campaign and acceptance speeches, and it will be seen that he is no friend of life, liberty or the pursuit of happiness -- qua individual rights. Obama’s speeches have always been a broth of rhetorical ambiguities and populist language addressed to the worst in men, concealing an intention to rule, to decree, to govern like a prince with the unqualified leave of his subjects.
        Obama’s admirers and supporters constitute a people who do not want to be free, and who do not want anyone else to be free. Allowing their emotions to govern their minimal thought and their actions, they have endorsed his notion that everyone must be tied in servitude and sacrifice to everyone else to “work together” for a “more perfect union.”
  • Lindsay Perigo: “President Barack Obama's inaugural address offered some grounds for cautious reassurance…
        The scary semi-Marxist and terrorist-appeaser of the campaign trail was barely to be glimpsed. A more mature Obama, clearly sobered by his daily reality-briefings and his reported reading of Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson, extolled 'the ideals of our forebears.' The candidate who had once said the Constitution should be overturned to allow for un-American 'positive rights' became the President who spoke of 'remaining true to our founding documents' …
        He became perhaps the first President to acknowledge that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion for those who so choose, as he listed 'non-believers' among those who make up the diversity of belief systems in America…
        Above all we must remember that he remains in thrall to the sacrifice of the individual to the collective, the very antithesis of the founding ideals of which he spoke so glowingly. Until America has a President who understands and upholds a person's right to live for his own sake, liberty-lovers can never sit back and relax.
        It is to be hoped that President Obama will continue his study of Thomas Jefferson and Adam Smith ... and even more crucially, that he will add Ayn Rand to his reading list."
  • Glenn Reynolds: “It was a big deal when JFK became the first Catholic President, but now it seems quaint that that was ever an issue. It will be nice to see the same thing come true regarding the first black President.” [Hat tip Tim Blair].
  • Edward Hudgins on the new era of race in America. David Boaz offers these dissident notes on the "coronation." And Johan Norberg chooses the three best excerpts from the inauguration. [Hat tip Stephen Hicks]
  • Michael C. Moynihan at Hit & Run: "To Theodor Adorno, the writing of poetry after Auschwitz was barbarism. After 9/11, Graydon Carter, former editor of Spy magazine, declared an end to "the age of irony." As of noon today, after the inauguration of President Barack Obama—the "world's inauguration," according to the awful David Gergen—we have apparently entered the post-political humor era. Because there ain't nothing funny about Hope and Change."
  • From Samizdat: "Here is something very topical for today, Inaugaration Speech Generator."
  • Tibor Machan: "The man looks like he walked off the cover of GQ but, as with
    many who adorn the covers of that and other magazines featuring beautiful
    people, there is no evidence of any in depth political wisdom coming from
    him. All that talk about change was bunk--no change of any importance is
    likely to come from the Obama administration apart from what is expected
    from any liberal democratic presidency. And that kind of change I find
    nothing but repugnant--a nostalgic throwback to the New Deal, for example,
    and an open embrace of the idea of wealth redistribution."
  • To be continued ...


  1. "Are you buying?"
    Nope. The direction Obama points to is demonstrated perfectly by the EUSSR.
    I never cared much about the particular pigmentation of socialists--I loathe them all equally.

  2. A president who has read both of Smith's books, it can't be all bad. But I do doubt that he has leant anything from them. His views on trade, for example, don't seem very Smith like to me.

  3. Obama may have mentioned "un-believers" but that term and the way he used it made it pretty clear that atheists are about as welcome as a turd floating in the White House swimming pool. It's akin to the use of the derogatory term "climate changer deniers" for people who are stubborn enough to ask for a sliver of evidence before reversing 200 years of economic growth.

  4. Obama, like his Progressive supporters, often sounds like nothing so much as Mussolini with a gentler tone of voice and gesture. Just as Goldberg describes in Liberal Fascism...

  5. Three thoughts regarding Obama:

    1) today the commies won the cold war without firing a shot

    2) are any US veterans of Korea and Vietnam ticked off about a communist being the president?

    3) It is deeply ironic that the Bush dynasty, which created the crisis of terrorism to replace the crisis of communism in order to destroy personal freedoms, has been succeeded by someone who is a communist and a terrorist.


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