Barry Soetoro

Nov 6th, 2008, in IM Posts, Opinion, by

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1,046 Comments on “Barry Soetoro”

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  1. avatar Arie Brand says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 4:05 am

    I omitted to give the link to the interesting interview with Perry Anderson.

    Here it is:

  2. avatar Odinius says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 8:07 am

    BB said:

    I appreciate you are indeed an erudite and much read pedant of the most sublime order but most of us normal schlubs, not as wonderfully enlightened as yourself perhaps, can conduct political debate without feeling the need to read obscure German philosophers in their original untranslated form. I’ve never read Mein Kampf or Das Kapital in German either but I can give a fairly decent stab at defining the ideologies of Hitler and Marx.

    You may understand Hitler’s defining ideology, because he put it into practice. Given that Adorno never invaded Poland, how can you possibly claim to understand what he was on about if you haven’t read him? And keep in mind, you brought up the Frankfurt School* in the first place.

    …and there’s the first part of the problem. The second problematic part is a lack of appreciation for the distinction between academic critique and political ideology. Plenty of academics have used Marx’s or Adorno’s theoretical tools for understanding the world without accepting any of the solutions put forward by his followers. Incidentally, these academics teach hundreds or even thousands of students every year without turning even 1% into academic Marxists or Frankfurt Schoolers, let alone political ones.

    *(For the record, if we’re badmouthing the Frankfurt School here, maybe we should also mention that it included one Jurgen Habermas, who is rightly considered one of the world’s foremost theorists on liberal democracy.)

  3. avatar Odinius says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 8:24 am

    BB said:

    Arie, like Odinius and a couple of other posters you have reverted to simply sticking your tongue out and going “nya! nya! nya!” when having your ideas confronted by someone who isn’t already tuned into your locked down mindset.

    To be fair, I have yet to see any ideas being confronted on here. I have, on the other hand, seen a lot of false accusations–which you have stated you agree are false–concerning Obama’s birth, and some weird accusations that Obama is a Frankfurt Schooler from someone who hasn’t read any of Frankfurt School texts, or demonstrated where in Obama’s policies one can find this alleged link to Adorno, et al.

    You’re quite a bit smarter and well-read than the birther clowns, BB, but so far, you’ve just offered a more sophisticated version of the poorly-founded smear.

    US politics would be a lot better off if people were as concerned with actual policy differences as they were with phantoms. There are some important issues that need serious debate in the public sphere, such as how to fix the country’s appalling finances, and this crap is just distracting. Here’s hoping the only serious Republican candidate so far, Mitt Romney, wins the primary…

  4. avatar Oigal says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 10:51 am

    Like I say Arie you’re obviously a world renowned expert on the Frankfurt school, good for you,

    going “nya! nya! nya!” when having your ideas confronted by someone who isn’t already tuned into your locked down mindset.

    Yet curiously it was the same author who brought the Frankfurt school into conversation to perhaps to add some degree of authority to what was invariably more personal opinion presented as facts.

    The regurgitation of something we heard on Glen Beck whilst impressive to our mates can be bit embarrassing when called to explain what we actually meant.

    After quoting books and references to back a position that one has never ever read and then being embarrassingly taken to task on it, juts makes the following a hoot..

    making up new language out of thin air, giving it an academic slant and then presenting it as if it were always part of the English language is fairly standard operating procedure of the left.

    Stevo,

    Yet he is exempt from the vilification, and popular media scrutiny, that the previous president was.

    I assume that FOX is not popular media in your view then. Personally I find it unwatchable as its format of 10mins of story followed by 20mins of fluff reflects the concentration span of its target audience (Although the slow but progressive meltdown of Beck is interesting to watch over the past couple of years). BO like all newly elected Presidents got a “honeymoon” period from the media but the nonsense that he gets an easier ride than anyone else since then is just not able to be supported in an rational fashion.

    Happy to hear Indonesianist is not a real word, as I can now remove Islamist, satanist from my musings. :-). Thankfully you guys aren’t in charge of the evolution of the English Language or we would still be stuck trying think of word for the train.

  5. avatar Odinius says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 11:41 am

    The idea that Obama has gotten a “free pass” from the American media is, frankly, hilarious. Might have been true for the first 100 days in office, but that’s normal. Bush got the same thing. So did Clinton. So did Bush I, etc.

    Since the end of the first 100 days, he’s gotten almost nothing but criticism, much of it undeserved. But this isn’t a surprise either…presidents always get sandbagged during economic downturns, regardless of whose fault it is. Clinton, Bush I and Reagan all experienced the same thing. All were initially blamed for conditions not of their making.

    When the economy picks up, he’ll shed his velcro and grow a teflon skin, like Bill and Ronny did. Dirt and smears will bounce off, and he’ll get credit for things he had just as little to do with.

  6. avatar Lairedion says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 11:57 am

    I’m a cultural Indonesianist and a political Westernist, whatever the hell it all means….

  7. avatar Odinius says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    For the record, “Indonesianist” is an informal way academics refer to those who specialize in the study of Indonesia. During the Cold War, “Sovietologist” was a common one.

    The idea of attaching the -ist suffix to places came about during the boom of area studies during the Cold War. The idea was that the holistic study of specific places in the world, as they are today, was as legitimate as the comparative study of specific “things” (e.g. ethnicity or labor), as was the norm in the social sciences. An “Indonesianist,” then, is an academically-trained “expert on Indonesian society.”

    Incidentally, the boom in area studies was a direct result of the Cold War, and the perceived need for better knowledge of the world by various government agencies engaged in the little tet-a-tet with the USSR, such as State and Defense. Left wing? Almost lost my coffee at that…

  8. avatar berlian biru says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 12:36 pm

    Oh yes, BB, just as a reminder, your original point was that Obama and his wife (who were both trained in legal matters) had been influenced by the Frankfurt School. The evidence for this has not been forthcoming either.

    Ah yes in all the ecitement I’d forgotten you’d brought that up, what else was it you asked?

    It is quite unlikely that he, in his legal training at Harvard, had to deal with these ideas at all.

    Odd how you concentrate on Obama’s legal training, I wonder why, it couldn’t possibly be because he originally studied at Columbia University could it? You know Columbia University where the Frankfurt School was based when it left Germany, the Columbia University whose press published the “only complete critical edition of Antonio Gramsci’s seminal writings in English” (Amazon).

    Gee whizz two stonking great connections between cultural Marxism and Columbia university. Big nook, big cranny.

    Coincidentally Columbia university was also the hotbed of the far left student uprisings of the 1960′s and to this day Columbia is still regarded as a university associated with far left, radical causes.

    Now what subject did young Barack Obama study at Columbia?

    Well blow me down with a feather! He studied, wait for it, you’ll never guess, that’s right, he studied political science.

    Political science at Columbia University in the early 1980′s and you expect us to believe he never encountered the Frankfurt School or Gramsci, two of the names I mentioned in my original post and both inextricably linked to Columbia University?

    Game, set and match I think my dear Arie.

  9. avatar Lairedion says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 12:40 pm

    And this all means a marxist is now residing in the White House.

    Maybe he should have flown to his friend in Havana after waving Dubbya goodbye.

  10. avatar Odinius says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 1:14 pm

    How does “encountering” Gramschi at college make you a “cultural Marxist?”

    (This is, of course, not even considering the fact that nobody’s yet established whether either Obama or Berlian Baru have actually read Gramschi.)

  11. avatar berlian biru says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 2:09 pm

    Odinius, Arie asked me twice to back up my contention that Barack Obama was exposed to the Frankfurt School and Gramsci while at university.

    I did so.

  12. avatar Odinius says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 2:18 pm

    Actually, why don’t we review the evidence in the case of whether Obama is a “Marxist” or not.

    IS OBAMA A ‘HARD’ MARXIST (i.e. communist)?

    Question: Has Obama attempted to overthrow the American democracy and its capitalistic order, and replace it with a “dictatorship of the proletariat” and “workers’ councils?”

    Answer: No.

    VERDICT: Okay, fine. So he’s not a communist. Well that was obvious anyways. But…

    IS OBAMA A ‘SOFT’ MARXIST (i.e. social-democrat)?

    Question: Has Obama pursued any redistributive economic policies, particularly taking from the rich and bourgeoisie, and redistributing to the working classes and poor, but within the context of a capitalistic economy?

    Answer: He spoke of rescinding the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest US citizens, but only return their tax rates to 1999′s low rates. He also spoke of giving the middle class a tax cut. Marx, for the record, despised the middle classes. Obama, for the record, has not rescinded those Bush tax cuts.

    Not only that, Obama continued Bush’s bank bailout policies, an act of corporate welfare. He also forced GM and Chrysler to restructure in a way that greatly reduced their number of working class employees.

    Probably the best bit of evidence that Obama is a continental-style socialist would be his health plan. Incidentally, this is not socialized/nationalized health insurance, but a reorganization of the private-sector, for-profit health system already in place in the US. While it would provide insurance for everyone, it would do so in a way that continues to cost more than health care in any other industrialized country, and continues to be a for-profit, capitalistic venture. Meanwhile, he’s agreed to a lot of cuts that affect students and the poor as part of the 2011 budget. Even if these didn’t originate with him, he still signed them into law, when he had the power of veto.

    VERDICT: No evidence Obama is a “‘soft” Marxist. In fact, there’s plenty of evidence he’s the opposite–a capitalist who has instead dedicated public funds to prop up big finance and big business…not the “workers” or the poor. His major piece of social welfare legislation would make most real social democrats cry in anguish.

    This brings us to the final question…IS OBAMA A ‘CULTURAL MARXIST?’

    Question: Has Obama…hold on a second…actually I’m not sure what the question actually is. As far as I can understand, it’s “did Obama go to a college where someone or other probably taught Gramschi?”

    Answer: Yes, he did go to a college where someone probably taught Gramschi. But we still don’t know:

    a. whether he took any classes in which Gramschi was taught (hate to break it to you, but it’s not on most polisci syllabi)

    b. whether he actually read Gramschi (Prison Diaries is not exactly a beach read, and lots of students skip it)

    c. assuming he did take said class and did do said reading, whether he was attracted to its premises and ideas (most people who read Gramschi in school don’t end up adopting its ideas)

    d. assuming he did take said class, did do said reading and was attracted to said premises and ideas, in what sense or to what degree (people can take all kinds of different things out of social theory they read in college)

    e. assuming he did take said class, did do said reading, was attracted to said premises and ideas and in the sense that might make him some sort of Gramschian Marxist, whether he still thinks the way he did in college (most people attracted to radical literature at that age lose the attraction after a couple years off campus)

    VERDICT: To sum, then, the allegation that Obama may have taken a class in which Gramschi might have been taught, so that he could have become attracted to his ideas, possibly in a way that would be consequential for his policy prerogatives–in an undefined but generally nefarious way–and that it isn’t impossible he still feels the same way…doesn’t meet the burden of evidence in even the most cursory of ways.

    ALL THREE CASES AGAINST OBAMA ARE HEREBY DISMISSED.

  13. avatar Odinius says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    BB said:

    Odinius, Arie asked me twice to back up my contention that Barack Obama was exposed to the Frankfurt School and Gramsci while at university.

    I did so.

    No you didn’t. You demonstrated that it was possible he was.

    George W. Bush was an undergraduate majoring in history from 1964-1968. Yale during that period was one of the bastions of the New Left movement in academia, and the campus was full of radicals. As a result of this temporal and spatial coincidence, George W. Bush may have been exposed to Marx, Gramschi and other left-wing writers. Does that make George W. Bush a “cultural Marxist?”

  14. avatar Arie Brand says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 3:04 pm

    BB said:

    Well blow me down with a feather! He studied, wait for it, you’ll never guess, that’s right, he studied political science.

    Political science at Columbia University in the early 1980?s and you expect us to believe he never encountered the Frankfurt School or Gramsci, two of the names I mentioned in my original post and both inextricably linked to Columbia University?

    Game, set and match I think my dear Arie.

    One almost hears that triumphant banging of the glass on the counter.

    But you have not even produced circumstantial evidence, my dear Berlian. Let us look at the facts:

    The Institute for Social Research, aka 'Frankfurt School", came before the war to Columbia University mainly at the invitation of Robert Lynd, then Professor of Sociology there. Its main links at Columbia were with the sociology department, not that of poilitical science.

    Already in 1940/41 two of its main contributors, Adorno and Horkheimer, found employment on the West Coast – where they were followed by Pollock. Others (Marcuse, Neumann, Kirchheimer and Lowenthal) started working, as Germany experts, for the Ofiice of Strategic Services. Only a rump institute remained and that disappeared as well in 1949.

    Obama started more than thirty years later, in 1981, in Columbia. His major was not in sociology but in political science, specialising not in political theory but in international relations – a subject that hardly has any links with the interests of any of the early collaborators of the Institute for Social Research.

    And that constitutes evidence that he was influenced by the Frankfurt School?

    You must be joking.

  15. avatar Arie Brand says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 3:35 pm

    Who is behind these attacks in which the term “cultural Marxism” and conspiracy theories about the nefarious activities of foreign, mainly Jewish, theorists are used as political weapons?

    Bill Berkowitz has some ideas about this:

    Behind the Attacks?

    The most significant institutional support for the theory of cultural Marxism comes from Weyrich, Lind, and their Free Congress Foundation (FCF). Lind writes that the FCF “was the first Washington-based conservative think tank to … develop a new cultural conservatism … aimed directly at the causes of America’s cultural decline.”

    In 1987, the foundation’s first book was published on the subject: Cultural Conservatism: Toward a New National Agenda. Next came Cultural Conservatism: Theory and Practice, an anthology of essays. All this culminated in a videotape that attacked the Frankfurt School, “Political Correctness: The Dirty Little Secret.”

    Weyrich’s role is significant. Over the last three decades, he has been instrumental in developing many of the right’s most influential institutions. He helped fund the Heritage Foundation, now one of the most powerful think tanks in Washington. He is a founder of the American Legislative Exchange Council, a corporate-sponsored association of hundreds of conservative lawmakers. And he helped establish two key conservative coalitions: The Rev. Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority in the 1970s, and Pat Robertson’s Christian Coalition a decade later.

    In 1999, Weyrich authored a widely circulated “letter to the conservative movement” in which he lamented the widespread popularity of the “ideology of political correctness” and “the cultural disintegration that is gripping society.” Conservatives should separate themselves “from the institutions that have been captured by the ideology of Political Correctness,” Weyrich argued.

    At the same time, Weyrich has had a “habit of flirting with racists and anti-Semites that dates back to his early involvement with George Wallace’s America Independent Party,” according to New York Observer columnist Joe Conason. As one example, Conason cites a 2001 Easter E-mail sent by Weyrich to thousands of his supporters declaring that “Christ was crucified by the Jews.”

    A year earlier, Weyrich had blasted Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen for “adhering so slavishly to the line laid down by the Frankfurt School.” Cohen’s sin? He had criticized Charlton Heston, then the National Rifle Association spokesman.

    “Surely [Cohen] must recognize that Political Correctness is an ideology … that … demands we all accede to many lies: that men and women are interchangeable, that there are no differences among races or ethnic groups within races (when those groups are taken as wholes, as PC demands), that homosexuality is normal,” he wrote. “This is, in fact, the unholy trinity that Political Correctness requires we all bow down and worship: ‘racism, sexism, and homophobia.’”

    Read on:

    http://www.splcenter.org/get-informed/intelligence-report/browse-all-issues/2003/summer/reframing-the-enemy?page=0,0

  16. avatar Stevo says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Its ok to use left & right to broadly describe a persons social or political leanings. However I think both sides often tend to be misled by this arbitrary generalization. What tends to happen is, assumptions are made about that persons individual views, based on preconceived perceptions about the right/left overall.

    This often results in common ground being totally overlooked.

    It also results in some folk taking a position simply because it’s an opposing one, or to be seen aligning themselves with the group they identify with. This can be done without proper consideration of the individual topic or facts.

    As an example; I have challenged a few views on this thread. I won’t mention any names, but I find I generally agree with the things these people have to say on most topics.

    Of course I don’t bother to comment on those posts ;)

    In my opinion this is where some of the opposition to Obama comes from. I see little evidence he is off on the far left. In fact in some places he would be perceived as far right. He is aligned as being left of his opposition and probably is. So it’s natural that he will be held up as an example of all that is wrong in the world, by the right.

    The fact he has a bit of an exotic heritage also causes some people to feel a bit uneasy. That’s just human nature and I don’t dismiss those people as racist or ignorant bigots. I am sure he understands the reality of that. It’s not the first time he has had to fit-in.

    But if we cast aside the labels, we see a president who is not really doing anything very radical.

  17. avatar Lairedion says:
    April 26th, 2011 at 6:04 pm

    stevo,

    But if we cast aside the labels, we see a president who is not really doing anything very radical.

    No sh*t, I have argued this a couple of comments back but some people just want to push it for futile reasons.

  18. avatar Odinius says:
    April 27th, 2011 at 9:01 am

    He’s not radical at all. He’s not even a progressive democrat, yet he’s provoking a rather baffling hysteria among some quarters. This moves debate from necessary things like policy distinctions to distractions like whether the birth certificate released to the public and confirmed by the state of Hawaii as the real, genuine, certified thing is “long-form” or not.

    If people want to criticize the US president, or any politician, they should go ahead. But they should criticize his policies and proposed policies, say why they believe these are not the best paths, and offer alternatives.

  19. avatar Oigal says:
    April 27th, 2011 at 10:00 am

    As was mentioned before and in the words of the immortal Baldrick “I have a cunning plan” If the birther issue alive was not a white house election plan, it should be. It’s a classic.

    BO and his advisers must be rubbing their hands together at the Birthers and such nonsense as it immediately renders the orators as unelectable to the vast majority of “swinging and rational republicans”. Would they be worried about losing votes to the dingbats, rednecks and “cultural marxist” :-) shrills? Hardly, lets be honest those votes from the dark underbelly were never part of his demographic anyway.

    Meanwhile, a pretty lack luster performance gets a free ticket. Mind you, I am not fan but I would vote BO just for the antics of the ding bat birthers and their inbred ilk for another few years.

  20. avatar berlian biru says:
    April 27th, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Arie, I answered your question now why don’t you answer mine; why did you choose the Frankfurt School for the subject of your dissertation if you are so convinced they are of little relevance to modern political thought and of interest only to obscure “nooks and crannies” of some minor US universities (passing swiftly over the fact that Columbia is one of the major universities in the US if not the world).?

    Could we synopsise your thesis as follows:

    “The Frankfurt School was a minor philosophy propounded by obscure Germans who did little other than theorise about pointless German words, they were basically not that far removed from conservative thought and they have had absolutely no influence whatsoever in modern political or philosophical thought.”

    Have I got that right? Seems a bit odd to write a dissertation about them then.

  21. avatar Arie Brand says:
    April 27th, 2011 at 3:12 pm

    I have already answered that point. They were not unimportant in themselves but had little to do with the development of the views you have castigated. I think the reason they are now referred to in certain quarters as the initiators of ‘cultural disintegration’ is mainly a matter of propaganda in which a foreign and largely unknown scapegoat comes in handy.

    In my dissertation (published as a book in 1976) I mainly focussed on the early Habermas who had then not yet published his magnum opus (English trsl. ‘The Theory of Communicative Action’ 2 vols. 1987). In the process I also dealt with Adorno and Horkheimer.

    Since you provided a synopsis of my thesis for me I will give you a bit of the ‘authorised’ account. I will not harass you with the 6 page English language summary of this Dutch language book but these are the initial paragraphs:

    This book examines the problem of how and to what extent the attainability of objectivity in the social sciences is influenced by the fact that knowledge is always acquired selectively, that is, that it is based on an interest.

    The two authors whose theory of knowledge is discussed here, Weber and Habermas, agree that the acquisition of knowledge (in the social sciences) is always led by an ‘interest’. “Object formation’ is based on a certain ‘Erkenntnisinteresse’. But the agreement in their epistemological views does not go further than this. It disappears when the question of how and to what extent the diversity of interests impinges on objectivity has to be answered.

    In the improbable case that you want to hear the conclusion I am ready to serve you.

    The ‘Frankfurt Schule’ was not turning out agitprop, as you seem to think, but to a large extent preoccupied with fairly abstruse epistemological and ontologicaL problems. One of the central problems was how reason could have an emancipatory function – appear as ‘practical reason’ as different from ‘instrumental reason’.

  22. avatar Lairedion says:
    April 27th, 2011 at 8:52 pm

    Well, all nutters in this thread can go to sleep now. Obama’s birth certificate has been released today:


    Obama Birth Certificate Released By White House

  23. avatar shirley says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 4:35 am

    the information I have about barak obama ,says he was born in kenya.
    his father and mother were in kenya ,at the beach cooling off when the mother went
    into labor,he was born in a hospital in kenya,with father and grandmother present.
    they came back to hawaii 3 days later and registered a live birth. the parent could
    say he was born at home,then registered the birth in hawaii.

  24. avatar Steve says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 4:38 am

    Yes that is the long from certificate “they” were asking for.

    However I do not think its right to refer to people as nutters & crackpots simply for asking legitimate questions of a public figure. Bush had many ridiculous accusations made against him, but his antagonists were not labelled in the same way.

    (Having said that, I have looked at some of the earlier posts on this thread, and there are certainly some that would fit the nutter/crackpot description!)

    I am looking forward to see what the conspiracy theorists come up with now……………… this will be fun ;)

  25. avatar shirley says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 4:45 am

    the birth certificate said live birth aug 4 1961.
    ann registered the birth with her signature august 7 1961,exactly 3 days later.
    as was stated. NOW how do you like that!

  26. avatar shirley says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 4:53 am

    steve i have a long copy from kenya hospital that says barak obama was born
    in kenya- it also has his foot print on the birth certificate.
    let’s see you call this a nut case.

    foot print,foot print (son) you can’t deny a foot print!!!!!!

  27. avatar Arie Brand says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 6:11 am

    And that awful Trump had the hide to say that he is proud of himself …

  28. avatar Arie Brand says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 7:31 am

    But he is not the only one whose hide is on display. GOP leaders are now saying that Obama should talk about serious issues and not create a distraction. There is a nice Jewish term for that: chutzpah.

    Look at this article plus video in Huffpost about ‘elected birthers on the hill’. The video has disappeared.

  29. avatar Oigal says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 7:46 am

    What a joke that Trump is! If ever a person’s past should be exposed it is him. What a sad state of affairs for the right.

  30. avatar Odinius says:
    April 28th, 2011 at 7:52 am

    So…that’s 25 pages of fun now ended. I’d say goodbye to the birthers, but will it stop? I doubt it.

    As Jonathan Swift once said, you cannot reason someone out of something they were not reasoned into.

    Like the Bush Derangement Syndrome that proliferated on the far-left during the last administration — the 9/11 truthers were the birthers of the Bush era — Obama Derangement Syndrome is a hydra-headed monster of conspiracy theories. Some will now switch to related variations, questioning the president’s religion or, as Trump has started to do, his school records. Conspiracy theories always parade as scientific theory, pushed by people claiming to have special knowledge of some monstrous fraud. But in the end, it is fright-wing politics peddled to the gullible, troubled and hyper-partisan.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/OPINION/04/27/avlon.birther.nonsense/

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