Tag Archives: barack obama

An anthropologist looks at Obama in Laos and sees the harsh truth

Summary: Nobel laureate President Obama visits Laos to the acclaim of the US press. Maximilian Forte looks beneath the celebrity glitter to see harsher truths about our neoliberal elites. It takes the vision of an anthropologist to see through their hypocrisy, pretenses, and lies.

Obama in Laos, 7 Sept 2016

President Obama greets monks on Sept 7 at a Buddhist Temple in Luang Prabang, Laos. Photo: AFP – Saul Loeb.

Cosmopolitan Imperialism: Obama Does Anthropology in Laos?

By Maximilian C. Forte.
From Zero Anthropology. Reposted with his generous permission.

Obama, the cerebral son of an anthropologist” — this is how the Associated Press touted soon to be ex-president Barack Obama on his visit to Laos this week. The AP went even further, declaring Obama’s approach “soft diplomacy”. One has to wonder where all of the “soft diplomacy” was in the seven brutal wars simultaneously fought by Obama (Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria), a number of them pursued illegally (either in violation of international law, or domestically in violation of the War Powers Act), and all with disastrous consequences.

However, it’s good that the AP declared — because this was the real point of their boosterism: “If there was a single day that demonstrated just how different Obama is from Donald Trump this might have been it”. I agree, but it’s not Obama that will survive the comparison. Unfortunately, anthropology also gets a bad name thanks to Obama and the AP.

At a town hall meeting in Laos, Obama took another opportunity to air American laundry in front of a foreign audience. Apparently, Obama feels that the best way he can find sympathetic anti-Trump audiences is by going to the other side of the planet.

Obama praised “multiculturalism,” which as a cerebral former teacher of constitutional law, he would know has no support in the US Constitution. He was asked about “e pluribus unum,” from an Indonesian woman, and he garbled his answer with evasive and anodyne platitudes. According to another AP report

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Alaska’s climate scientists tell us the rest of the news, what Obama forgot to mention

Summary: Obama journeys to Alaska and says things. Our journalist-stenographers reprint this as news. They do not consult local experts, and so miss an important part of the story. This post gives you the rest of the news.

Alaska temperatures 1949-2014

From the Alaska Climate Research Center. Click to enlarge.

The great oddity of the climate change campaign is the disinterest of journalists in reporting it well. Stories about our certain doom often omit vital context (e.g., burning off the world’s fossil fuels means the 21st century relies on coal for energy, like the 19thC), forget to mention the IPCC when it disagrees with alarmists (e.g., about the danger of a methane apocalypse), and ignore the host of research facilities studying relevant aspects of our changing world.

We see that last factor at work in journalists’ reporting about Obama’s climate campaign tour of Alaska. Google News shows no stories in the mainstream news mentioning the findings of the Alaska Climate Research Center. I have posted their work in response to previous panicky stories about Alaska melting in 2009, in 2013, and again here.

Here is their Temperature Changes in Alaska page (updated annually; red emphasis added). It’s quite clear.

“This page features the trends in mean annual and seasonal temperatures for Alaska’s first-order observing stations since 1949, the time period for which the most reliable meteorological data are available. The temperature change varies from one climatic zone to another as well as for different seasons. If a linear trend is taken through mean annual temperatures, the average change over the last 6 decades is 3.0°F.

“… Considering just a linear trend can mask some important variability characteristics in the time series. The figure at right shows clearly that this trend is non-linear: a linear trend might have been expected from the fairly steady observed increase of CO2 during this time period. The figure shows the temperature departure from the long-term mean (1949-2009) for all stations. It can be seen that there are large variations from year to year and the 5-year moving average demonstrates large increase in 1976.

“The period 1949 to 1975 was substantially colder than the period from 1977 to 2009, however since 1977 little additional warming has occurred in Alaska with the exception of Barrow and a few other locations. The stepwise shift appearing in the temperature data in 1976 corresponds to a phase shift of the Pacific Decadal Oscillation from a negative phase to a positive phase. Synoptic conditions with the positive phase tend to consist of increased southerly flow and warm air advection into Alaska during the winter, resulting in positive temperature anomalies.”

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The hidden but important IPCC foundation for Obama’s Clean Power Plan

Summary: The internet overflows with commentary about climate change, much by scientists. Yet all this talk generates more heat than light. Here’s a small but telling example, about an IPCC finding that should be a standard note in articles about Obama’s Clean Power Plan — but is ignored by journalists and so little known.

“Ignorance and confidence are constant companions.”
Into the Heart of Truth by John McAfee (2001).

EPA: Clean Power Plan

Obama’s sweeping Clean Power Plan rests on a finding in Chapter 10 of  Working Group I of the IPCC’s latest report, AR5 — something important and little known. See page 884, emphasis added…

“We conclude, consistent with Hegerl et al. (2007b) {i.e., chapter 9 of AR4}, that more than half of the observed increase in GMST {global mean surface temperature} from 1951 to 2010 is very likely due to the observed anthropogenic increase in GHG {greenhouse gas} concentrations.”

AR4’s statement about the effect of GHGs was similar (although put in its Summary for Policy-makers, not page 884): “Most of the observed increase is global average temperature since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.”

In both AR4 and AR5 the IPCC defines “Very likely” as having a “likelihood of the occurrence/outcome” at “>90% probability”. That’s below the 95% standard usually used in both science research and making of vital public policy decisions (e.g., by the EPA and FDA).

This finding about the effect of GHGs is relatively little known compared to AR5’s better known finding in the Summary for Policymakers about all anthropogenic forcings…

“It is extremely likely {95%+ certainty} that more than half of the observed increase in global average surface temperature from 1951 to 2010 was caused by the anthropogenic increase in greenhouse gas concentrations and other anthropogenic forcings together.”

I learned of the AR5’s lower level of confidence about the effect of GHG from a comment by attorney Tom Curtis in a comment at Skeptical Science, There are few mentions of this on Google. I asked two climate scientists if they know of this (they didn’t) — understandable since it’s buried on page 884 of AR5. This factoid about the effect of greenhouse gases has several kinds of significance.

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Obama made the trains run on time, & other accomplishments

Summary:  Nothing reveals our values like what we applaud. The Left’s love for Obama, and the things for which they applaud him, reveal their corruption and why they’ve become trivial political force in America.  {2nd of 2 posts today.}

“Mussolini may have done many brutal and tyrannical things; he may have destroyed human freedom in Italy; he may have murdered and tortured citizens whose only crime was to oppose Mussolini; but ‘one had to admit’ one thing about the Dictator: he ‘made the trains run on time.’

— From The Prevalence of Nonsense by Edward Darling and Ashley Montagu (1967).

Obama's accomplishments

This shows a common form of applause for Obama. How many ways can this graphic astonish us?

Myopia about anti-liberal actions

First, it displays myopia on a fantastic scale, ignoring Obama’s anti-liberal actions. His illegal surveillance programs (& advocacy for broad NSA power), most aggressive-ever use of the Espionage Act of 1917, persecution of whistle blowers, mockery of his pledge to run the “most transparent administration ever“, continued use of Guantanamo Bay, and his assassination programs (including US citizens). He has done many of the same things Liberals condemned Bush Jr for doing, and done things Bush did not even imagine — such as the gift to the world’s mega-corps called the Trans Pacific Partnership (so awesome we’re not allowed to see the text).

Blindness to his wars

Second, it shows blindness to Obama’s wars, breaking with the Left’s anti-war tradition. He executed Bush’s plan for withdrawal from Iraq, deepened our wars in Afghanistan and Yemen, waged an illegal war in Libya (of the sort he specifically promised not to do) — with terrible results — and laid the foundation for future ways by expanding Africom.

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The TPP shows the workings of our New America, if we care enough to look

Summary:  In this post an insider tells us the sad details about the Trans Pacific Partnership that provide insights into the workings of the New America being raised on the ruins of the Republic-that-once-was. Not just the treaty but the process that creates it. In this afternoon’s post, part 2, Alexis de Tocquiville helps us more clearly see what’s happening to America, with the perspective provided by experience and distance in time.  {Part 1 of 2 today.}

Bush & Obama: First Buddies:

Bush & Obama: First Buddies



  1. Partners at the creation
  2. The Trans-Pacific Partnership
  3. For More Information
  4. The fall of the old regime
  5. Conclusions
  6. For More Information


(1)  Partners at the creation of New America

“The problem is choice.”
— Neo in The Matrix Reloaded (2003).

One of the great themes of these posts has been the historic transformations of America under Bush Jr. and Obama. They brilliantly used both the groundwork laid during the previous generation and the unique opportunities created by 9/11 and the 2008 crash to alter the direction of our national evolution in ways profound although not yet clear. Their four terms, so consistent in most aspects of domestic and foreign policy (excluding social policies of little interest to our rulers) have raised the skeleton of a New America on the ruins of the old.

Revolutions and reformations done with popular support occur in the daylight. Those done without it occur in the shadows, cloaked in euphemisms amidst assurances that nothing important has changed. One way to show the real nature of these events is contrasting today’s news with a yardstick from the past. This post does so by looking at Obama’s work to gain approval for the Trans-pacific Partnership (TPP) with passages from the greatest work by Alexis de Tocqueville: The Ancien Regime and the French Revolution. He gives us a mirror in which we can more clearly see ourselves.

Stop the TPP fast track

(2)  The Trans-Pacific Partnership

Slowly news leaks out about the Orwellian-named Trans-pacific Partnership, othorganized by the Bush Administration and negotiated by Team Obama. The American people are not partners in this deal. It’s kept unusually secret to prevent opposition from mobilizing before the final rush after the deal is finalized — and the beneficiaries have greased the way for approval. Here we see, again, Obama’s contempt for Congress and the American people.

The latest evidence comes from Michael Wessel, a cleared liaison to two statutory advisory committees for the TPP. He was a commissioner on the U.S. Trade Deficit Review Commission. He published “I’ve Read Obama’s Secret Trade Deal. Elizabeth Warren Is Right to Be Concerned” at Politico.

The public criticisms of the TPP have been vague. That’s by design — anyone who has read the text of the agreement could be jailed for disclosing its contents. I’ve actually read the TPP text provided to the government’s own advisors, and I’ve given the president an earful about how this trade deal will damage this nation. But I can’t share my criticisms with you.

I can tell you that Elizabeth Warren is right about her criticism of the trade deal. We should be very concerned about what’s hidden in this trade deal — and particularly how the Obama administration is keeping information secret even from those of us who are supposed to provide advice.

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