Not since Clark Kent changed in a phone booth has there been an instant image makeover to match Barack Obama's in the aftermath of his health care victory. "He went from Jimmy Carter to F.D.R. in just a fortnight," said one of the "Game Change" authors, Mark Halperin, on MSNBC. "Look at the steam in the man's stride!" exclaimed Chris Matthews. "Is it just me, or does Barack Obama seem different since health care passed?" wrote Peter Beinart in The Daily Beast, which, like The Financial Times, ran an illustration portraying the gangly president as a newly bulked-up Superman. What a difference winning makes – especially in America. Whatever did (or didn't) get into Obama's Wheaties, this much is certain: No one is talking about the clout of Scott Brown or Rahm Emanuel any more. – Frank Rich, New York Times
Dominant Social Theme: Winning changes everything.
Free-Market Analysis: We are not especially happy that Obama won his famous health care victory. We are pro-market, not pro-state and any way you examine it, the new health care legislation reorganizes the marketplace and mandates US citizens make payments to insurers or face cash penalties – or worse.
Predictably the propaganda is revving up. Those who believe in an imperial presidency and the expansion of the state are apparently delighted by the idea that the US federal government now has a big stick with which to beat bloody one-sixth of the US economy. More than this, we are sure we will eventually be inundated with large, breathless books explaining how a tall drink of water from Illinois managed to do what no other president in modern history had been able to accomplish – reorganize American health care and make it more like Europe's. Here's more from Frank Rich on the victory that has changed perceptions about Obama:
Obama largely remains a fixed point even while the rest of us keep wildly revising our judgments, whether looking at him through the prism of partisan politics, race, media melodrama or any other we choose. It's our recession-tossed country, not his presidency, that is rocked by violent mood swings. That doesn't mean his presidency will be successful. Being consistent is not the same as being a forceful leader. If there's been an overarching, nonideological failing so far in Obama, it's been his execution of the levers of power. …
But in the immediate aftermath of his health care victory, at least, there does seem to be real, not imagined, change in Obama's management modus operandi. Whether challenging Karzai and Bibi, or pushing through 15 recess appointments, or taunting those who would repeal the health care law to "go for it," this is a far more energized executive than the sometimes tentative technocrat we've often seen thus far.
The pace has picked up – if not to faster-than-a-speeding-bullet Superman velocity, then at least as much as the inherent sclerosis of Washington will allow. And not a moment too soon. The speed with which Obama navigates out of the recession, as measured by new jobs and serious financial reform, remains by far the most determinative factor in how he, his party and, most of all, the country will fare in the fractious year of 2010.
From Frank Rich's point of view it is great that Obama is energized and engaged. This means he will be able finally to turn his full attention to job growth, his presidency's "most determinative factor." But we would argue that Obama cannot have any effect on job growth, directly. Unless he wants to shove billions into the pockets of workers – and he doesn't – the best he can do, really, is print money, goose the stock market and wait for spillover effects into the larger economy. The problem Obama has is that central banking fiat-money printing has been so distortive that the economy is literally taking years to straighten out.
Of course the Bell is on the record as questioning whether or not the Obama administration wants a full recovery. There are plenty of reasons to believe that the powers-that-be desires a continuing financial crisis that will force additional globalization and the further demise of nation-states. How, then, does Obama fit into the larger picture? Is he is own man, or is he in a sense working for someone else? Recently Obama's credentials have come under broader attack, with questions being raised about his claim to be a constitutional law professor. Various investigations, including one concluded by the Internet-based Examiner, have raised further questions about the president's professional narrative:
A special investigation has discovered numerous bogus claims on Barack Obama's resume, including the outright lie that he was a 'Constitutional scholar and professor.' The claim turns out to be false. As investigators delve further into the background of Barack Obama, a disturbing picture is emerging of a man who is not who he claims to be. The information the public has been told concerning Obama is turning out to be false–fabrications and inventions of a man and an unseen force behind him that had clear ulterior motives for seeking the highest office in the land.
According to a special report issued by 'the Blogging Professor,' the Chicago Law School faculty hated Obama. The report states that Obama was unqualified, that he was never a 'constitutional professor and scholar,' and that he never served as editor of the Harvard Law Review while a student at the school. The real truth is that Barack Obama was merely an 'instructor' at Chicago Law School, not a professor. Commonly, instructors are non-tenure-track teachers hired by colleges and universities to teach certain courses for a salary that is well below that of Associate Professors or full Professors.
We have no idea if all this is true or not, but we do note that Obama has been very reluctant to release any of his personal or university records. If most if not all of what he claimed to be true on the campaign trail turns out to have been at least exaggerated, this would explain his reluctance. It would also indicate that he was might be at the center of a broad-based campaign to dress up his qualifications.
There are, in fact, those out there who believe Obama is only one in a long line of pretend US chief-executives whose power is circumscribed and directed by far more powerful forces. We were surprised to find recently that one of the most vocal of Obama's critics is Lyndon LaRouche – an economic historian and political gadfly who has highly praised past Democratic presidents in the past, most notably John Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt. But LaRouche calls Obama "Nero" and suggests that he is mentally unbalanced.
Now we know there are some who might claim that LaRouche himself is mentally imbalanced, but his analysis of history (presented in great detail over decades) is not without merit. LaRouche sees much of modern history through the eyes of Venetian banking, and he is able to cite certain historical interpretations to buttress his perspectives. According to LaRouche, millennial history is actually a war between Renaissance inspired nation-states buttressed by the Catholic Church and the Reformation supported by various forms of Protestantism.
The rap on the Reformation is actually well known; the Reformation implies Enlightenment – the Age of Reason, Rousseau, Voltaire, the horrid French Revolution and its tabula rasa formulations of statist control. If indeed, humankind can discover all things through reason, and if humans are a blank slate at birth, then one need only erect a perfected political environment to produce perfected citizens (enter George Orwell and Aldous Huxley). LaRouche sees a direct linkage between the Age of Reason and modern day totalitarianism. In this he is not alone.
Where LaRouche departs from much standard history, even free-market history, is in his interpretation of the Reformation as a Venetian-initiated schism, one that the Venetians were able to engineer in Britain as well. His point is that the great Venetian banking families of the second millennium AD found themselves under attack in the 13th and 14th century by the Holy Roman Empire (including Spain, France, etc.) and engineered an escape to Germany and especially Britain while fighting back against the Catholic church by organizing a Protestant religious movement via Luther, Calvin, etc.
It is often hard to tell fully what LaRouche's sources are for his perspectives, but let us grant him this formulation. Where we would depart from LaRouche is in attributing the various schisms that afflicted Catholic Europe merely to Venetian manipulation. As LaRouche himself acknowledges in passing, the Gutenberg press itself virtually ignited the Renaissance. Venetian manipulations or not – even the Reformation is not likely to have occurred without the explosion of biblical knowledge that showed the Catholic church to be corrupted. The Gutenberg press therefore provided the knowledge that the Venetian banking families may have attempted to manipulate for their own ends.
LaRouche also argues that the power elite of that time – increasingly the Venetian banking families that seem to have established themselves in Britain – were behind many of the other schisms and wars that wracked Europe at that time. Our point here would be that that era's power elite took advantage of the communications revolution, but that it ultimately got away from them as revolutions tend to do.
Evidence for our point of view is to be seen in the unfolding religious schisms that continued over centuries, far beyond what the manipulative Venetian proponents of the Enlightenment might have foreseen. Ultimately a powerful new expression of man's relationship to God (an intimate one that didn't even need the church, necessarily, as an intermediary) was cultivated both in Europe and increasingly in the New World. It was the New World that provided the greatest threat to the newly founded European banking hegemony and (even according to Larouche) agitated them no end.
In fact, this is the struggle that has been waged ever since. On the one side is ranged the Anglo-American power elite and its faux Enlightenment. On the other side are ranged the citizens of nation-states, enriched by a Renaissance genealogy and (from our perspective) ever-closer, more intimate and personal ties to Godhead. Communications technology – specifically the empowering information of the Gutenberg press – has played a role in establishing this factionalism and it is our impression that the Internet is playing a similar role today.
We have maintained that the Internet will impel the power elite to "take a step back." There is no doubt, even when one applies a historical Venetian overlay, that the communication technology of the Gutenberg era had a strong effect on the course of history. The Gutenberg press not only helped engender the Reformation, it also supported the further schisms that led to an explosion of freedom in the New World where the hand of the European power elite did not reach. The press laid the foundation for the Renaissance and the republican virtues and scientific principles it rediscovered.
We have provided the above exegesis because we found Frank Rich's column a tad puerile. It's bigger than that, we thought. The idea that Obama, post-victory, had turned into a kind of political superman seemed a bit … facile. The currents run quite a bit deeper, so far as we are concerned. Standing against current-day sociopolitical, power-elite manipulations and warfare is very obviously a renewed communications revolution, proffered by the Internet. Millions have awakened as a result.
Certainly, the powers-that-be shall try to manipulate the Internet for their own ends, but as it was with the Reformation, the results will not be predictable and likely not favorable, at least in part, for those intending to use the 'Net to further consolidate wealth and authority. It is even possible that in an attempting to manipulate the Internet, the elite shall end up with schisms of their own, as they did in medieval times. The consequences are varied and endless.
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