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Obama

Something i saw today got me thinking of Colombo, and does Colombo even have a ‘counter culture’ movement? Does Colombo have meme’s? Do we get taken up with random shizz that don’t mean anything in particular? Of course we do, various teledrama phrases spring to mind like ‘I know the law putha’ anyone remember that? Could that chap be Colombo’s Giant?

I think there is mass scale sick to deathness with political BS. Its always been there sure, but with the war over poor people are expecting to get richer, this is clearly not happening. I think people need to be woken up, the economics of their situation be made aware to them. I’m not saying the government isn’t trying, but it isn’t trying hard enough. Corruption is there, cronyism is there, Hambantotism is also there.

Andre the Giant Has a Posse was a poster/street art campaign that was started by Shepard Fairy. Was watching Exit through the Gift Shop and finally found the bloody meaning behind the Andre the Giant posters. My earlier suspicions were confirmed, it doesn’t really mean anything.

But it doesn’t have to actually. The fat face with the look of a man trying to size you up for dinner with the word OBEY written in big think lettters is nothing short of Orweillian. The concept behind it is really interesting. Fairy (far as i know that IS his real, not figurative, name) borrowed the picture off some tabloid and stuck the OBEY motif to it and then stuck it on several walls in an around LA. This took for some inexplicaple reason and soon thousands of people were sticker bombing the US with Andre.

To quote Shepard Fairy from the movie

“Even though the Andre the Giant sticker was just an inside joke and i was just having fun, i liked the idea of.. the more stickers that are out there the more important it seems, the more important it seems, the more people wanna know what it is, the more they ask each other and it gains real power from perceived power’.

An A the G movement site has this to say

The Giant project isn’t a sales pitch, it’s an experiment in phenomenology, prodding the collective psyche with something inexplicable, creating an illusion of a secret society…What Fairey hoped to get across was that Giant uses the same propaganda techniques that try to sell you cigarettes, movies and presidents.

Funnily enough, Fairy did use the same skill set to sell a president. And people bought it too. The Obama posters were probably some of the coolest pieces of election campaigning i’d ever seen, but like a lot of people now i think Obama was just same same, with marginally different skin tone.

So why get worked up over nothing? Its a psychological blip. Something constantly in your face that you don’t know the meaning of, that you’re driven by curiosity to get to the bottom of it sort of like one of those itches under the skin your nails can’t get at. Hopefully in the process you end up becoming a little more aware of your surroundings.

“Once you examine it, there’s nothing left but the aesthetics of a process. If people realize, ‘I was manipulated by that,’ then maybe, like the domino effect, they’ll say, ‘What else am I being manipulated by, that I’m not questioning?’”

The message is in the medium. All this is a very novel, surrealistic approach to social activism. You don’t point and shoot, you just sort of create a jarring affect and hope it leads to something.

…say, ‘Question Authority,’ or ‘Stop Racism.’ You just get a pat on the back from the people who agree with you already, and the people who don’t agree with you don’t even think about it. So for me it’s just about creating an individual dialogue process that can expand into people trying to interpret it, and asking someone else, and then there’s two people talking about it. Something just going on that people can’t pigeonhole along with everything else.”

Obey the Giant is a meme that came out of a counter culture movement. The anti corporate, anti commercial, anti paid advertising one. It slowly morphed into a subset of corporate culture anyway vis a vis the Obama posters and Fairy’s ‘Black Market’ graphic design firm.

There may be something there in Colombo for a potential sticker bombing campaign. But i’m thought bouncing I suppose. As the three wheel dudes know; Life is rainbow.

obama peace

It’s beginning to occur to me that Obama must be feeling rather put off by winning the peace prize. In the beginning I thought the whole thing was a publicity stunt of some sort initiated by colluding Western powers. But my conspiracy theory hormonal surge has dulled now, as it usually does, in the face of other emerging trains of thought.

Giving Obama the peace prize is like clapping the big ugly dark dude who just walked into your school heartily on the back and giving him an award for being nice. You know he’s got the potential to be bad. And you know that eventually, given the conditions of the school and its internal dynamics (now that’s phrase you never heard in school), he will be bad. Now imagine that same bloke commanding the fear and submission of all the teachers and imagine his father having enough money to buy ten schools like that and donate it to charity. This dude could run amok and do anything he wants. If unchecked, what will follow is a lot of stolen lunches,  broken noses, stolen test papers, lunch money and a host of other things. Beware the big, rich guy that turns bully.

The Nobel Committee saw this potential disaster unfolding. And how did they see this? Oh just by randomly taking things like the intensification of forces and violence in Afghanistan, the buildup of tensions among emerging superpowers, G-bay, conflicting international policies and Iraq into consideration. None of these situations are particularly heading in a ‘peaceful’ direction.

Not to say that Obama had non-peaceful intentions, but his earlier almost too idealistic rhetoric was starting to give way to a more ‘pragmatic’ bush type approach to conflict. He was slowly beginning to see that things may be just a little bit tougher to fix than he imagined, if he wasn’t planning on using a gun.

And, just a like a guy who set out to pluck apples and found out that the tree is taller than he thought it was, he will contemplate climbing it (the hard way) or chopping through the trunk in order to get at the fruits (going on the warpath). It’s a presumably an easy choice to get wrong for someone sufficiently stressed and distanced from morals and ideals as one is likely to get when caught up in the thick bureaucracy of the red tape jungle, probably what happened to Bush (but let’s not go into that).

So now what the Nobel committee has done is suddenly come on up right behind Obama while he was secretly giving vent to evil thoughts of cutting down the apple tree and surprise him by surrounding him with a horde of happy teary eyed people all applauding him and heartily congratulating him for being the savior of all apple trees, everywhere in the world.

And they’re still watching him. The stature of the Nobel Prize is at stake. The Western world has bestowed its most sought after honor upon its potentially biggest hero. Thereby giving Obama the potential of becoming the world’s biggest zero as well. I mean sure, Bush was mean and he didn’t care much for peace; but at least he was open about it and was in your face, people knew where they stood with Bush.

But Obama, if he does nothing spectacular, will become just a pretender, and that’s far worse than being a villain. The Nobel committee, to boot, will have to explain away a massive embarrassment and deal with arguably irreparable damage as well if he goes moron. So the trust it has placed on Barrack is telling.

(insert heartfelt comment about world peace and trust in Obama’s integrity, to end this post on a audaciously hopeful note, no i never get tired of that quip. )

obama peace 2

Cheers to DeeCee for inspiring me with her forwarded e-mail which contained a number of similar cartoons. Yes, Mondays don’t rock in my nick of the concrete woods.

v for victory. or peace?

I never thought i’d live to see the Nobel peace prize become just another meaningless Mahindapattama or a ‘Dr’ Mervyn Silva badge, but Yesterday Barrack Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace prize for ‘extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples’. He will join the ranks of recent peace prize winners such as Mohammed El-Baradie, Al Gore, Mohammed Younus, Martti Ahtisaari etc.

Most peace prize winners’ achievements are quantifiable; at least based on albeit broader guidelines. But Obama seems to simply have won this based on what he is best at; rhetoric. No wonder the conservative right is all up in arms about it, just turn on FOX news and see.

What peace he has brought to the world remains in the words of his panoramic speeches. And in the meanwhile, civilians continue to be bombed in Afghanistan, detainees continue to be held unjustly in G-bay and ruthless suppression continues to occur against the Palestinians in the Middle East.

The Economist asks this audacious question,

…is the award premature? Although the prize may be given in the spirit of encouraging Mr Obama’s government, it might have been better to wait for more solid achievements. With so many good intentions, and so many initiatives scattered around the world (and an immensely busy domestic agenda, including health-care reform and averting economic collapse), Mr Obama appears to be racing around trying everything without yet achieving much.

It has a point. Obama currently is talking like a Jack of all trades but is yet to become the master of even one.

According to Nobel’s wishes the award must go to ‘the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses’

Obama’s work, though commendably full of very ‘prize worthy’ words, are yet to materialize in any concrete action. They should have waited another year or so to see if he would deliver. After all, all the other winners had to show concrete results before being awarded anything…

So what has Obama done so far? Where is this ‘change’ that has been going around apparently for the whole world to see? Only change I see is a darker tone of skin in the white house.

People are still dying in Iraq, casualties have only increased lately including those of US soldiers. Violence has exacerbated in Pakistan, the Taliban has expanded its control. The Gaza Strip and the West Bank are no better. Sure, you may say that the 100;1 ratio of Palestinian to Israeli deaths officially still happened during Bush’s last days but Obama was still president elect, and in the name of humanity, he could have said something or raised a protest. Reasonably supposing that he really knew what was going on.

The UN security council was going to pass a motion, simply a statement condemning the Israeli attacks, but even a mere statement against the war crimes being committed by Israel was vetoed by the United States. This was the same United States whose public was caught up in the wave of ‘change’ and ‘Rebranding America’ etc. Obama didn’t even raise a finger in protest. Hiding behind his ‘presidential elect’ status to absolve himself of any responsibility.

His flumbering beginnings in handling the ‘Financial Crisis’ have proven inadequate to say the least. The much harped about G20 produced nothing less than ‘heroic hypocrisy, unreliable sums, weak promises, meaningless language and self-serving commitments other than a very few worthwhile achievements’ (read more of Miles Saltiel’s report). His ‘stimulus’ packages have drawn widespread criticism from many economists (big names like Krugman and Stiglitz) as being extremely inappropriate given the current banking system.

It is increasingly looking like the boom-bust cycle will need to run its course until markets make their own recovery and Keynesian style hole digging and re-filling stimulus plans may or may not get us there quicker, but they will not work in the US is pumping its money into largely inefficient and loss making banks.

Also, where is the inquest into what happened in the Bush years? Where is all the war crime and 9/11 conspiracies that need to be investigated? The advent of Obama and his main calling card ‘change’ served the most effective purposes of brainwashing the world community into forgetting all about the previous years of US rule. It had the effect of making them think that ‘hey, here’s a new guy, let’s just forget the old guy, let’s change and move on’. But that change itself was insubstantial and mostly made up of clever and emotionally appealing rhetoric. And those of us who expected some actual substance from the man after he gained office will soon be sorely disappointed.

I came across this interesting debate on the economist. Carried out between Mr. Mark Medish (MM) proposing the notion that American shine is still intact and Prof. Kishore Mahbubani (KM) opposing the notion. There were many interesting points raised with a LOT of interventions by readers which contributed to a very diverse flavor of a discussion.

When it comes to America, i have often been jokingly accused by friends to be anti-American. Which im obviously not. But what i am is an anti-corporate-greed, anti-inequality, anti-suppression and anti-war crime type of bugger. And sadly, during my formative years, America has seemed to me to be a country that leans toward exemplifying most of which i morally stand against.

But first, what is Brand America? MM argues that there are two Americas, not one. One is America the country, the other is America the Idea. The American idea is an idea of freedom, equality, justice and leadership. Which are extremely noble sentiments IMO.

This ‘leadership’ role though, also in my opinion, seems to have been confused to a certain degree with ‘dominance’ by the many participants in the debate. Like America needs to be in the forefront of everything in order to preserve its ‘brand value’. Which i think is wrong. You don’t have to squash everybody else to be a leader. Taking the lead means guiding everybody else when they cant see. Not hoping that they cant see so that they can be guided. IMO again.

Moving on from that, what was noticeable was the strong rhetoric coming from the proposing side and the equally strong facts coming in from the opposing side. One may thing that facts trump rhetoric any day. But we are talking brand and perception here. People are not only influenced by facts, they are also influenced by sights, sounds, the look of the thing and how they perceive things. Most of which are non-quantifiable.

Also, the Brand that is America, a political/ economic superpower, seems more shaken than ever. And that’s it. It is America’s super power status that is in danger here. And I say what the hell? just because you’re not a superpower does not mean that you still cant be a great nation right?

On devolution of power (which seems inevitable) a fact also brought up by KM dealt specifically with the ‘historical aberration’ of 200 years of European domination followed by American domination before which (from year 1 to 1820) the biggest economies in the world were India and China alternatively. And he says that it is only a matter of time before they ‘resume their natural place’.

The superiority of America as a ‘democracy’ seems unanimously agreed upon but its economic superiority? not so much.

It is my opinion that every empire collapses eventually. From the Egyptians to the Romans to the Brits and now, to the Americans. It’s like the countries of the world take turns to dominate each other, the decider being nothing other than who comes off on top after the inevitable conflicts/ war.

Check out the debate. I’d love to hear your views.

I think there is something very wrong with the hype surrounding Barack Obama and his forthcoming inauguration. The whole thing seems to me more fitting to a totalitarian dictatorship than a great democracy, more like a monarch’s coronation or a Roman general’s triumph than a swearing-in ceremony for an elected president.
Take the cost of the event for starters: $160 million (ten or eleven times what it cost to inaugurate Clinton and Bush). Hardly what taxpayers fork over their hard-earned cash for, is it? And then consider that there will be 40,000 security personnel at the inauguration – more than the number of troops the US has serving in Afghanistan. The outgoing President has even declared a ‘state of emergency’ in DC. Kathryn Muratore got it right on LewRockwell.com when she said:
Welcome to the inauguration of the “leader of the free world.” You may only enter the city through these designated roads and transit systems. You will only have access to the inauguration after passing through a security checkpoint, where you will be treated with suspicion. There will be thousands of armed men surrounding you at the ceremony and parade. But, hey, that’s the price of freedom!

I’m sure that if the founding fathers could see it, they would be absolutely sickened.

And of course, it isn’t just the event that is the problem – it’s… (read more)

Tom Bowman for adamsmith.org

My sentiments largely echoed. I do not really think Obama is going to make any significant change except to change whatever inefficiencies that exist the US’s existing methods in the pursiut of global economic dominance. I think a more comprehensive change is needed in the system itself to put the world in a brighter path for the future. Otherwise we’ll just end up in a worse position than we are now in another 70 years or so. (assuming we’ll get out of this one without any major wars/disasters) I’ll be very surprised for instance, if he turns out to be another Andrew Jackson. Fingers crossed though. I’ve blogged about this guy way too much already.

Damn! That was fast. And well, you could say I was an Obama supporter if you like. Personally I don’t think things would have been a lot different in many areas even if Mccain came into power but well Obama was, interesting. The man is full of theatrics and I was kind of expecting a nail biting finish. Instead he just breezes through.

I will not give you a blow by blow of it since you’re probably already plugged in to CNN from morning or something. Still wish I could’ve stayed back at home though. It’s great entertainment. Probably the last bit of drama that we’ll get in a while. And that’s what this race has been so far, super entertainment! I’m sorry it’s over. I guess we can all go home now.

Obama. Huh. He’s got the hype alright. But if people are imagining him to be a Jack Black in high school and shake everything up in the While House then I think we’re all in for a bit of an anticlimax. Nope, now it’s going to be back to the old routine of bill passing and legislation. A bit scarier ‘cos the democrats seem to have an overwhelming majority now. Personally I’m more concerned about the war. Destabilization the Middle East and South West Asia has to stop. Human rights violations in the Gaza strip have to stop. Give me a president who will change that.

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