How Exceptional Is America? Let Me Count The Awful Ways

by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash

Ca[tainSo Vladimir Putin takes Obama to task for referring to America as the exceptional nation.

Well, he's wrong. We ARE exceptional. Here are the ways in which we are more exceptional than any other nation on earth:

1. We like to kill people. Especially helpless women and children. Since the end of WW2, we've slaughtered more folks in more wars than any other nation on earth. Not by the hundreds. Not by the thousands. But by the millions. No nation comes close to America when it comes to mass murder. No other nation is more evil than we are. And then we call our troops heroes, when they're nothing but hired killers.

2. Our former leaders — George W Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld et al — can't leave the country to travel overseas because they will get arrested as war criminals. How's that for exceptional?

3. We don't just specialize in killing foreigners. We like killing ourselves as well. Americans kill more Americans than any other nation on earth kill each other. It's like a continuation of the Civil War.

4. We are more cruel to animals than any other nation on earth. On our factory farms, we raise cattle and hogs and chickens so caged in, they can't move. Unlike an advanced country like Sweden, where they have laws protecting animal rights, we are the world's biggest sadists in our treatment of animals. (BTW, if you want to find some nations that are truly exceptional in a good sense, look no further than the Nordic nations of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland: they have the most generous and robust social welfare safety nets, with high taxes, yet they are the most economically competitive nations on earth, with successful world-wide brands like Ikea, Lego, Volvo, Nokia, Absolut Vodka, etc. The tiny nation of Denmark leads the world in wind power technology, generating 20% of its energy from wind. And these three countries spend proportionately more on foreign aid and helping other nations than any other. When it comes to exceptionalism, America is at least a century behind Scandinavia.)

5. With 5% of the world's population, we have 25% of the world's prisoners — more than Russia proportionately had under Communism, or South Africa under apartheid. We also spy on our citizens more than any other country. We're a complete police state. Witness our police suppression of the Black Panthers and the Occupy Wall Street movement.

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Obama Is Corrupt, Hillary Isn’t

by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash

Barack-Obama-Hillary-Clinton_0I heard an amazing story about Hillary Clinton from someone who worked for her. When she was a Senator, and some corporation gave her big campaign money, she wouldn't take the money if she knew she was going to vote against that corporation's interests on a bill that corporation wanted passed. She would tell them straight that she was going to vote against them, and then ask them if they still wanted her to cash their check, because she'd rather not have their money (this guy told me that weirdly enough, 90% of the corporations would tell her, heck, keep the money).

So this is a story about something very unique: an American politician who refuses to be bought.

One wonders if, under a Hillary presidency, with a Hillary Department of Justice … if Wall Street, Jon Corzine, and all the other financial crooks would be walking around free today.

Obama has been totally bought by Wall Street. Not a single CEO from any of the big banks has been in trouble with the law, after the biggest financial meltdown and scandal of our times. Wall Street sold stuff they knew was crap to pension funds and other customers, and even bet against the stuff they sold. This is big-time fraud, to sell stuff you know will blow up, but you don't care, because the stuff will blow up after you've collected your bonus. Too big to fail turns out to be too big to jail. Not a single hand of justice has been laid on them. And no laws have been made to force them to be honest and transparent. Tim Geithner and the SEC are giving Wall Street crooks a free pass. Jon Corzine openly stole a billion bucks from his customer accounts to cover his bad margins, and he is walking free.

Would Hillary have let Wall Street off scot-free? Who knows. But at least now I know she was willing to refuse money from corporations whom she was going to vote against. She was not for sale when she was a Senator. But Obama as president was and is for sale. He sold out to Wall Street when he became president, because his candidacy was backed big-time by Wall Street money.

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There’s No There There: Our Hollow President Obama

by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash

Obama-zuccotti-parkJust what exactly does President Obama whole-heartedly believe in?

It's not Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid. He was prepared to whittle away at all three of them in order to make a Grand Bargain with the GOP about our debt.

It's not peace: he's still fighting for no good reason in Afghanistan.

It's not the rule of law or habeas corpus: he's still got the extra-legal prison obscenity at Guantanamo Bay going.

It's not transparency: his administration goes after whistle-blowers like no other.

It's not a humane immigration policy: he deports more immigrants than any administration.

It's not justice: he didn't go after the Bushies who promoted torture, nor did he prosecute the fraudsters of Wall Street who ruined our economy.

It's not gay rights: he still doesn't agree with gay marriage.

It's not the labor movement: he never pushed for Card Check and he ignored the grassroots fight over union negotiating rights in Ohio and other heartland states (what if he had marched with them as he promised in his campaign? just imagine the galvanizing effect on labor, the Dems and himself).

It's not basic progressive principles, like Medicare for all, or at minimum a public option to give folks a real healthcare choice.

It's not even his own progressive base, who worked hard to elect him, and whom he and his acolytes disdain as “the professional left.”

It's not anything. In fact, it's nothing. President Barack Obama has a shell, but not a core. He's not a man of principle. He's a man of expedience. A so-called pragmatist.

In other words, he's our first thoroughly post-modern president. There is no objective truth: everything is relative, plural and contextual. Obama mistrusts ideology from a very unique perspective: he has no ideology of his own.

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The Immensity Of Killing Bin Laden vs. The Banality Of Language

By Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash


There are events so shocking, untoward or thrilling, they are bigger than language. Beyond words.

In my lifetime, such events have included the assassinations of JFK, MLK, and Bobby Kennedy, as well as 9/11 and the killing of Osama bin Laden. Being a South African-American, I'd add the 1976 Soweto Uprising and Mandela's release from jail.

What sets these events apart from all others? They scorch the collective cerebellum. They rip away the veil we construct between us and reality to such a degree that, for at least a minute, and sometimes for days, we look straight into the heart of the raw what-is. The realness of the Real upends our world and blows our minds. We find ourselves staring into an approximation of Kant's Ding an sich. Language becomes inadequate. Eloquence cannot meet the moment. The event is too original for any rhetoric to be appropriate. As Adorno famously observed about the greatest crime in history, “Poetry isn't possible after the Holocaust.”

Listen to a mother talking about what happened when she and her husband heard the news that Osama bin Laden was dead. Maureen and Alexander Santora lost their firefighter son on 9/11, and this is from an interview on May 5th at Ground Zero. Mrs. Santora is talking.

“Well, Al was out watching TV and I was on the computer and he yelled out, come out right away, and I came out to the TV and on the bottom was, you know, Osama bin Laden is dead. And then they kept, you know, delaying the President coming out to speak. And we thought initially the President would say, we thought it was him, but it was a mistake. And when he came out and he said he's actually dead, we just sat there for 20 minutes and didn't move. We were just motionless. And then we were just filled with joy. We just were filled with joy. We were just elated at the realization that this had actually happened.”

Zapped by reality for 20 minutes. As if there were too much reality to absorb. And then filled with a wordless joy.

But that's not where it ends. After the merciless intrusion of the real, something happens that robs us of that moment, that wrenches us away from the unmediated experience of the raw what-is, the actual Actual.

That something is language. Inevitably, a consensus language emerges. An official narrative spins the event out of our original grasp — or nongrasp — into the pastiche of consolation or celebration.

It's like a couple ready to claw each other's clothes off, but trapped in a wedding that goes on forever. The wedding is beautiful, but it allows no room for the raw, wet desire that drew them together in the first place.

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Obama The House Negro — Pity The Man Who Walks On His Knees (And The Nation He Leads From That Position)

by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash

Lemmings Just when you think Obama can't be more disappointing, he lets you down again. Yes, he can.

The midterm elections have come and gone as blip-quick as the adult mayfly — which gets to live, fly, mate and die in 24 hours (there's some consolation: the males fly around with two penises, the females with two vaginas).

Obama campaigned and campaigned but the pitiful Democrats got thumped and shellacked and shat upon from a dizzy height like a gaggle of virgins sodomized in a fancy castle by the Marquis de Sade's massively endowed manservant Latour. They gave up 64 seats in the House: a GOP takeover.

Had it not been for the good fortune of some idiot candidates nominated by the Tea Party, they would've lost the Senate, too. In a state where Senate Leader Harry Reid was universally despised, the GOP managed to dig up a crazy-as-a-rattler-on-crystal-meth candidate that the people of Nevada feared more than they hated Harry Reid. Amazing. Bonk me with a blowdryer.

However, this was but a screwup in a teacup compared to what the Dems did, which was wreck their chances for making any more “reforms” for the next two years or more. And a silent fart in a huge cathedral compared to what our President has wrought, which was wreck his chances for re-election. Just like the Republicans have successfully obstructed anything that can do the country any good over the last two years so they can blame everything wrong on the Democrats, they are now going to make damn sure nothing good happens at all so they can blame everything wrong on the president, and replace him with Mitt Romney (maybe even Sarah Palin). Simple election strategy, and amazingly effective.

Pity poor Obama. That hopey-changey thing didn't work out so well for him at all. He got only two short years to be an effective President. He came from nowhere real fast, and he's going back there real fast: the Mayfly of Presidents.

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What Obama Can Learn From Lady Gaga (And Progressives From The Tea Party)

by Evert Cilliers aka Adam Ash

Lady_Gaga My name is Obama. But call me Icarus.

I soared on the wings of an angel. I was the biggest star the planet had ever seen, without having to go near a guitar. I was dancing on the moon, when suddenly, the moon gathered its bowels and dropped me like a turd back on earth.


And here I sit, in my redecorated Oval Office, surrounded by all these clever Ph.D people, and by my pointillist-picture-perfect family, and I'm gobsmacked and paddywhacked and privately pissed and publicly petulant.

People scorn me. Left and right. They treat me like a dog.

After all I've done. What a record of legislation! How did I legislate? Let me count the bills.

On my 24th day in office, I whelped a $787 billion Recovery Act that included $78.61 billion of green energy stimulus, and cut the taxes of 95% of our taxpayers.

But I didn't rest.

I squeezed out Healthcare Reform. That took a little longer. It was an almost stillborn breech baby, but today it is incubating and will start kicking about four years from now if the Republicans don't starve it to death before then. Wonder of wonders, in its placenta can be found the detritus of the “pre-existing condition” scam. Unfortunately the baby is missing its genitals — the public option — but some industry deal snipped that one out of its genetic code.

Still, I didn't rest.

Soon I begat Financial Reform that included a Consumer Financial Protection Agency birthed by Elizabeth Warren and now being midwifed by her.

And then, lest you forget, as most Americans have, I saved Detroit. Plus I shook down BP for $20 billion.

Those were my five biggies. Stimulus, health, finance, Detroit, BP shakedown. There's a lot of little stuff too numerous to mention: my ban on torture, the student loan overhaul, our foreign rep restored, two okay Supreme Court ladies, etc.

But what happened? Where have all the voters gone? I feel like Sartre locked out of De Beauvoir's bedroom because she's banging the husband of the wife I banged, or their daughter, all because of some combination of nausea and misplaced ressentiment because our final philosophy agregation exam jury quibbled about whether they should give first place to me or to her, and then naturally confirmed her second-sex status.

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird — and at Obama

by Evert Cilliers (aka Adam Ash) and Wallace Stevens


In 1917, Wallace Stevens, to my mind the best American poet of the 20th century (sorry, Sylvia Plath fans), published one of his most famous poems, “Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird.” What with Barack Obama being our first black President, and also a leader who elicits a variety of responses, from the sensible to the absurd, I thought it might be interesting to look at Obama through the lens of this poem.

(Note: this piece is shorter than my usual 8,000-word epic rants. Last month I wrote a 17,000-word saga, mixing stories about my strange family with social commentary and snippets of the history of South Africa, where I grew up. I didn't get the usual fifty plus readers comments, but the ones I got were so enthusiastic and heartfelt that I am honor-bound to repeat this personal anecdote/social commentary form again. I thank all those 3QDers who read the whole damn thing and expressed their thanks. You make me love what I do, and make me love 3QD for letting me do what I do. BTW, if you're brave enough to climb this Mt. Everest, google “The World Cup, my White Afrikaner Skin, my Fascist Parents, Mandela, Obama and Forgiveness.” And now on with a mercifully shorter piece.)


Among twenty snowy mountains,

The only moving thing

Was the eye of the blackbird.

The problem with Obama is the problem with democracy, as famously described by Churchill in a Commons speech in 1947, after the British voters repaid him for saving civilization by throwing him and his party out in 1945: “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” Obama is the worst form of president, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Today there are a few pols that are mildly interesting — Nancy Pelosi, Ron Paul, Anthony Wiener, Paul Ryan, Bernie Sanders, Howard Dean, Jeb Bush, Barney Frank, James Webb, Newt Gingrich, Alan Grayson — but none to match Barack Obama. Among the snowy mountains of Washington, his is the only eye worth catching. He can still summon the mojo to enchant a crowd (to see him in top form, google “realclearpolitics Obama: Republicans want to bamboozle you”).

However — and this is what makes Obama really interesting — he appears to have lost his progressive base somewhere between Air Force One and the White House urinal. Obama may be the smartest guy in any room, but when it comes to keeping his loyal base loyal, he has moved into full possession of an ear of tin, a tongue of lead, and a brain of plank.


I was of three minds,

Like a tree

In which there are three blackbirds.

Looking at candidate Obama in 2008, three mindsets pertain:

(a) Obama was the hope of the universe, the dawn of a new day, a progressive nation changer of unfathomable potential, an avatar of Dr King, Gandhi, Mandela and FDR.

(b) Obama was a socialist demon Nazi Hitler Lenin Antichrist Arab Muslim, the real-world manifestation of super-conservative America's worst hates and fears.

(c) Obama was a blank slate on whom we could all write ourselves; he was whatever you wanted him to be, a projection of your innermost desires, the change that was us that we were waiting for.

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The World Cup, My White Afrikaner Skin, My Fascist Parents, Mandela, Obama, And Forgiveness

by Evert Cilliers (aka Adam Ash)  fifa sharia 6jul10xzapiro

Five weeks ago I said to my brilliant girlfriend: “I'd like to see my father before he dies.” She said: “Congratulations.” She'd been asking me on and off for two years whether I'd like to go and visit him where he lives in Cape Town, South Africa, and my stock answer had always been: “I don't have the slightest interest in ever seeing my father again.”

So what changed?

You here at 3quarksdaily know me as a passionate ranter against our irresponsible elites (for my favorite screed ever, google this title: “Government Is Not The Problem, Private Enterprise Is: The Global Terrorism Of Al Qaeda, BP And Goldman Sachs”). However, that's not what I'm up to now. This time out, I'm autobiographical. Personal. Self-revelatory. Unbuttoned. A la Moll Flanders. Or Paris Hilton. Confessions of an Opium Eater or something, at double the length of my usual rants.

I made the big Gauguin move of my life two decades ago, when I walked out on my South African Jewish Princess wife in our seven-room, three-bathroom apartment on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Except I didn't go to Tahiti. I went to a garret on Manhattan's Lower East Side. For fifteen years, while I was poor and wrote, wrote, wrote my seven unpublished novels (and became the 90s slam poet Evert Eden), my ex-wife and I didn't communicate. Then, out of the blue, I got a call from her.

“I'd like to see you,” she said.

“Why?” I asked.

“I'm dying.”

She always had a way of knocking the wind out of my sails. This time the issue was galloping cancer in her stomach.

I went to hang out with her and her brother and her sister during her last days on earth, in that big, elegant apartment, now sans my large paintings, but filled with South African art, a shrine to our homeland.

“I've got no charge with you anymore,” she informed me, in the magnanimous version of her imperial Jewish Princess voice. I thought, “fuck you,” but I just nodded.

Two days before she died, throwing up her guts in a gush of blood and stuff, my ex-wife lay propped up in her bedroom with me on the side of her beautiful bed, designed to her specifications, as was everything and everyone around her. Her doctor brother had been slamming her with as many drugs as he could to keep her semi-comfortable but still lucid.

The two of us were sitting alone, the very ex-married couple. She said:

“How can this be happening to me, when I've always tried to be so good?”

“It's fate,” I said. “We can't control what happens, just how we deal with it.”

It's amazing how one pulls out the most boring cliches at the best and worst of times. My ex-wife suddenly got up and walked to the bathroom, which had always been her bathroom when we lived together; I used the bathroom one room over. As she walked, trailing a sheet behind her, she said in the commanding version of her imperial Jewish Princess voice:

“Make the bed.”

I stood there, looking at the huge mess of sheets and blankets, caught like the proverbial husband in habitual male learned helplessness.

“How?” I asked.

Without losing a beat, and without even looking at me, she snapped:

“Military style.”

The door of the bathroom closed behind her. And I made that goddamn bed that she and I had spent ten years in, that I hadn't seen in fifteen years, and General Patton himself would've approved.

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