'2016: Obama's America' Review: Insidious, Racist, and Surprisingly Effective
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2016: Obama's America Review: Insidious, Racist, and Surprisingly Effective

By Dustin Rowles | Film Reviews | August 26, 2012 | Comments ()


Co-written, starring, and based on the book, The Roots of Obama's Rage by Dinesh D'Souza, 2016: Obama's America is far more insidiously effective than any political documentary since Fahrenheit 9/11. Unlike most polemical documentaries that demonize their enemies before tearing them down with expert opinions from partisan pundits and scholars and mixing red-meat rhetoric, D'Souza attempts more than just to speak to the choir: He humanizes Barack Obama, draws parallels between his own life and the President's, and then meticulously builds his case. He also does so as a mild-mannered, intellectual man of color, instead of someone we would typically associate with an anti-Obama screed: Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, or an Ann Coulter (it was only after the movie that I found out that D'Souza was once engaged to Coulter).

In fact, the first two acts of the film are at times just as compelling for a supporter of Obama as it is for conservatives. D'Souza makes an attempt to understand President Obama's worldview by exploring his background. He does so by matter-of-factly discussing Obama's family history, using mostly passages from Obama's own book, Dreams From My Father. D'Souza talks about the politics of Obama's father, and about the influence his father's absence had on him: In a way, Obama idealized and romanticized his dad's politics. His strained relationship with his step-father in Indonesia -- he was a pro-Western man who worked for oil and gas companies -- actually hardened his affection for own father and created a resentment in Obama toward the entrenched political machinery of America, so argues D'Souza. The gist of the first section -- which also includes a section on Hawaii's supposed widespread resentment toward the United States -- seems rather benign: It highlights Obama's anti-colonialism, and whether or not it's true, it would be understandable if he were. In fact, I found myself sympathizing with many of Obama's alleged anti-colonial beliefs.

The second section digs deeper into Obama's politics, and goes over some familiar territory -- Bill Ayers, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, and a few other professors and intellectuals who believe that America is a super-power bully, holds on to too much of the world's wealth, and is irresponsible with it. Again, for liberals, these are not exactly strikes against Obama, but D'Souza also fails to provide proper context: The so-called radicals that Obama has associated with over the years are only a small percentage of the hundreds of scholars, politicians, fellow students, and colleagues in Obama's life that might have influenced him.

It's after creating a foundation for his theories on Obama's worldview that D'Souza fails, and he does so by vastly overreaching. D'Souza believes that Obama's anti-colonial fervor extends to America, and that Obama is seeking to level the global playing field, so to speak, by reducing the power and influence of the United States over the global economy. Obama is not interested in helping America's poor, D'Souza says, because Obama allegedly believes that even America's poor are wealthy by international standards (true!). (D'Souza bolsters this argument with an interview with one of Obama's half-brothers, a poor Kenyan living in dire straights, allegedly). In Obama's second term, D'Souza argues, the President would seek to redistribute wealth not just in the United States, but globally.

Reducing the number of American warheads from 5,000 to 1,500, as Obama has apparently done, is the first step. Obama allegedly plans to reduce our stockpile even further while, at the same time, allowing other countries, like Iran, to gain access to nuclear weapons, thus leveling the global playing field.

That argument is specious, at best, but where D'Souza really goes off the rails is in his assertion that Obama is attempting to take away America's financial strength by driving up our deficit so high that it'd bankrupt the United States. How? Among other things, the Affordable Care Act, of course. The America that Obama envisions, D'Souza argues, is one in which we're not a superpower, but a country financially incapable of oppressing other nations and their citizenry. In Obama's America, the Middle East would be turned into the United States of Islam and hold as much world power as we do.

It's a hell of a stretch to make, and D'Souza doesn't help his case by delving into a lot of racist speculation on how Barack Obama markets his blackness in order to convince white people into feeling noble and heroic for voting for a black man. D'Souza argues that, as someone who is of mixed race, Obama is able to seamlessly adapt and project himself in ways that both black and white people want to see him. It's complete bullshit, but it's also an effective talking point for conservatives, and one that I often hear parroted on conservative talk radio. This man, right here, has allegedly been removed of all of his "angry black man" characteristics and carefully cultivated to appeal to well-meaning white folks.


Ultimately, agree with D'Souza or not (and I vehemently do not), it's hard to argue against the effectiveness of his message to his target demo. The crowded screening I attended had scores of white people over the age of 50 nodding their heads along with D'Souza's arguments, audibly voicing their assent. However, there's very little rancor or vitriol in the film, which might suggest to conservatives that an intellectual argument is being made, obfuscating the ugliness and backwards racism that underpins the reasoning (I can almost hear my Tea-Party mother-in-law now, "But it can't be racist; it's being made by an Indian!"). Indeed, after years or little-seen, low-rent anti-liberal agitprop, it appears that the right may have finally landed their Michael Moore, but unlike Moore, D'Souza is -- at least as depicted in this film -- not an obnoxious blowhard as likely to rankle those in his own party as much as his enemies. He's a formidable Dartmouth academic that relies on (cherry-picked) facts and out-of-context statements to propel his arguments, and like them or not, they're a more difficult to defend against than typical conservative talk-radio conspiracy bullshit about how President Obama threatened the lives of Chief Justice Roberts' family to ensure Obamacare passed Constitutional muster. Wingnuttery you can easily dismiss, but at least D'Souza makes us work for it.

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Comments Are Welcome, Bigots and Trolls Are Not

  • blaze99

    I Have been searching for an unbiased review of this movie-any idea where I can find one?

  • jcsj

    Why blindly follow Obama? What is this man's dream for America - the World? If you really think that restructuring America so that it is on a more level playing field with the rest of the world is a good, humanitarian thing and the right thing for world peace, you are sadly mistaken. Obama followers are taking their freedom for granted right now.

  • I disagree that he is a formidable scholar. Coming from an Ivey League school does not make you formidable and this seems to be the only credential he has worth noting. His arguments in this film are weak at best. What scares me is that people are buying into this, but I'm not fooled. I'm not even appalled. A more accurate description of my reaction is unimpressed. It does not surprise me at all that so many people are touting this movie as conclusive evidence against Obama. Critical thinking skills are greatly lacking in this country. Why are we so willing to take everything the media throws at us as truth? This disgusts me. We let right wing and left wing media influence our thoughts way too much. WE NEED TO LEARN TO THINK FOR OURSELVES!!! Otherwise we will find ourselves in the dark ages once again.

  • Jjdny

    Obama was a huge mistake in the first place, hopefully this film will keep us from making the same mistake again

  • jmm64

    The documentary showing across America titled ' 2016: Obama's America ' provides a lot of insight into Obama's influences in his life, and it is a must see film for all American voters. Obama supporters will, also, enjoy this movie since it will answer a lot of questions about Obama's early influences in his life and what his agenda may be in a second term if re-elected. Just saw the movie yesterday in Ohio to a packed audience and at the end of the movie, most people were applauding.

  • Joey 52601

    Pajiba needs to hire a new film critic. It is alright to disagree with a film's message, but give your reasons, please. It is not alright to just list the film's arguments and facts and then respond with, "that's bull." That is not constructive. Any elementary school student could have typed this up. Also, there are numerous points in which the author sounds racist himself. "The crowded screening I attended had scores of white people over the age of 50 nodding their heads along with D’Souza’s arguments..." Finally, addressing Obama's tactic of using his race as a political tool is NOT racist. It's simply identifying racism. It's hard to believe that this crap got published. Conservative or liberal, this gives true journalism a bad name.

  • BierceAmbrose

    /meta - generic apology for going dark.

    Work reared its ugly head when mid-afternoon yesterday I realized it was mid-afternoon.

    Imma reply as I can & thank each of you who gifted me with a direct reply. Earning the shekels is gonna interfere some more, like the meeting they're paying me for, starting one minute ago.

  • Great movie. Hillarious to see the liberals melting down over people hearing the facts about Obama. Facts they should have known 4 years ago, but back then everyone was just Chanting Obama, Obama, Obama, and voting for him because he was black. The Truth hurts and the reviews against this movie are proof of that!

  • Shel_In_GA

    Because D'Souza claims his film is a "documentary", you believe it is true? Did you take Michael Moore's documentaries as true? I guess not. Could it be that you take this documentary as true because it fits what you have already convinced yourself is true? Both D'Souza and Moore approach their documentaries with an agenda, so you should be suspicious of points made by both. D'Souza uses points that are easily discredited. For example, the issue of the bust of Winston Churchill was on loan and due to be returned before Obama took office. So, why should I believe his other points without further investigation? I think efforts like D'Souza's hurt our nation more than they discredit the opposition.

  • ,

    Don't blame me, I voted for Alan Keyes.

  • Ben

    I like Obama, but I'm Canadian so...

  • greystokememphis

    If Obama was so bad, it wouldn't be necessary to lie about him, would it?

  • Djones29

    Obama is the real bigot, and he must be stopped! http://tinyurl.com/9yf33xa

  • KlaatuSentMe

    This lame ass excuse for a movie is a sad retreat of D'Souza's craptastic book "The Roots of Obama's Rage" which was gloriously disemboweled at Media Matters - http://mediamatters.org/resear....

    Seriously, fuck this dill-hole and the mouth-breathing pseudo-Christians who believe this type of obvious hatemongering. I would say I weep for the future, but this shit happens all the time.

  • CKoz

    The truth is hard to swallow, isn't it? I love how people can see what is right in front of them and continue to deny it. Here - have some more Kool-Aid.

  • John G.

    This post is going to draw republi-tards down on us with their comment infecting nonsense.

  • Greedy

    Thanks for keeping it classy and open-minded.

  • John G.

    If they keep moving the line further right, it is not open minded to keep moving with them.

  • john G -- thanks for that sentence. I'm currently visiting relatives and everyone is so hard right that it's like stepping into an eery alternate reality where facts are never facts. When I raised a fact about America's retched statistics regarding gun violence the response was "well i don't know that statistic, but it's not true!!!" (my mom's brilliant defense , which was followed by a claim that gun massacres wouldn't happen if only everyone was allowed to carry concealed weapons. Uhhhhh)

    Republicans are just too crazy for me this millenia. I know so many so I keep trying to have real conversations but they are not in a place of reality anymore. It's mind blowing... or at least mind-corroding.

  • Shel_In_GA

    Nathaniel, so true. I can't tell you how many of my friends and acquaintances have told me that they don't care about the truth if they agree with the points made or, as I was told recently, "I only listen to those people that tell me what I want to hear." After 30+ years of volunteering for Conservative political campaigns, I could not take it anymore. Propaganda professionals, volunteers, publishers, pundits, and candidates now dominate campaigns. It is truly scary for the future of our system. I want strong campaigns on the Left and the Right - not propaganda. The people we truly need to run are unwilling to lower their standards to run for office. And, Citizens United has made it much worse.

  • Slash

    Shocked to read that white people over the age of 50 hate Obama. But they're not racist. Oh no. The very suggestion that old white people hate Obama because he's black is an insult to them. Because there's no racism anymore. If only everybody would just agree that there's no more racism and run Obama out of D.C. and back to Chicago where he belongs, everything would be wonderful and perfect again, like it was back in the early 2000s. I know we all want to relive those glorious years.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Why, yes. You get it.

    It is explicitly an insult, specifically "racist", which is quite the insult, to assert that because white people over 50 are white and over 50 they hate President Obama.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Ultimately, agree with D’Souza or not (and I vehemently do not), it’s
    hard to argue against the effectiveness of his message to his target
    demo. The crowded screening I attended had scores of white people over
    the age of 50 nodding their heads along with D’Souza’s arguments,
    audibly voicing their assent.

    Is that ageist, racist, or both? I have trouble with "-ists."

  • space_oddity

    Serious bot attack going on in the comments section!

  • seth


  • space_oddity

    It's all gone now, but back when this review was originally posted, there were new comments every couple seconds from people pushing a cougar-love site.

  • randomhookup

    Cougars need love, too.

  • space_oddity

    Dinesh D'Souza is a complete blowhard. The fact that anyone's listening depresses the hell out of me. Speaking as a progressive, the fact that Obama is even painted as 'radical' is a mark of how far right we as a country have drifted.

  • BierceAmbrose

    You need to get out of your bubble. "Flyover country" has always been somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun. (Using that execrable over-simplification that does nothing but encourage people to choose up sides and fight.)

    I keep coming back to different strokes for different folks. Why not go all progressive in NY State, California (all of Ectopia, really) and a few more, and let other people go to the hell they believe in in their own way?

  • AudioSuede

    Back off the "flyover country" line. Minnesota has voted blue in more presidential elections in a row than any other state in the nation, including California and New York. It's more the South-of-the-Mason-Dixon line that's consistently red (though not always).

  • Joey 52601

    Republicans freed the slaves. Democrats fought them on it. Your redneck/republican association doesn't apply.

  • Shel_In_GA

    Josiah, yes, Southern Democrats (Dixiecrats) fled to the Republican Party when the Civil Rights Act was passed. One cannot compare the two parties of today with the two parties of the past.

  • AudioSuede


    I didn't say anything about rednecks. I stated a fact, which is that the majority of southern states on both coasts are republican strongholds. Also, the Republican and Democratic parties are so vastly different today from Lincoln's day they're unrecognizable.

  • space_oddity

    My point was simply that by most standards, the actions and policies pursued by the Obama administration would have been largely in keeping with Republican policy thirty years ago. That, and the fact the spurious attacks on him with the constant cries of 'socialism,' 'redistribution of wealth' etc. are the exact OPPOSITE of what a lot of lefties problems with him are. And yes, that's oversimplifying it.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Oh, so true on the progressive disappointment. The candidate with the talent for letting people project onto him what they need to see (paraphrasing from one of his books) annoyed a lot of people who projected upon him.

    So, into this vast gulf of opportunity created by the other guys, The
    Stupid Party left all their semi-successful governors on the sidelines
    to nominate the MittBot. Really?


    - The progressives, the real honest to god progressives though he'd be a lot more aggressive & effective an advocate. (Which is less dumb than the other disappointed folks, given his voting record. Although, "present?")

    Also, they were surprised that we have a constitutional republic, a bicameral legislature and *aren't* a parliamentary system. The head of state doesn't automatically have a legislative majority. Whoever takes over the Presidency seems to get surprised by that one every time.

    - The more "moderate" folks are appalled in the other direction. Which is just dumb given his voting record. Also the thing that's terrifying folks who aren't so progressive,
    thinking he'll be unleashed when reelection isn't a consideration. Progressive voting record + willingness to govern by regulation vs. legislation & it's 7:2 there'll be an impeachment attempt on those grounds if President Obama gets a second term.(*)

    - The anti-war folks and civil libertarians are conspicuously silent on the continuation of the entire portfolio of Bush Administration anti-terror policies with the exception of expanded extra-judicial assassination by Terminator-drone and supporting the occasional insurrection in a sandy country as long as France goes first, and it's absolutely not about oil.

    - The small town chamber of commerce semi-righties are baffled and scared to discover that nothing is working, even with all the smart people making speeches and stuff. (The chamber types might have to do something. Or make a choice. Interferes with lunch.)

    - The idealists are shocked, shocked to discover that long-knife politics and various kinds of gutterball continue.

    - Also, apparently global warming is continuing to raise sea levels.

  • space_oddity

    The point being: there are plenty of reasons to be upset or unhappy with Obama; the absurd idea that he's deadset on undermining American exceptionalism and leveling the global playing field is not one of them.

  • BierceAmbrose

    You know, I really want to make a "rage virus" joke, but can't find my way around the "angry black man" and "comes from monkeys" things.

    Here I have a perfectly lame joke with a movie reference and all I have in my head is the comeback: "You just said that because he's black - raaaaaacist!" (I probably deserve this for watching Chris Matthews - ever.)

    No, I want to say it because it's a bad joke.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Oh, I agree that armchair psychologizing is more or less rhabdomancy, (for the Freud joke.) Mining for daddy issues to turn a pol into Darth Vader seems an odd thing to spend a book on. On the other hand, Freud did psychologize Leonardo da Vinci from a distance, so there's no accounting for tastes, I suppose. (Text available from Project Gutenberg.)

    Yet, politics seems oddly drawn toward apocalypse & grand conspiracies. Why is that? Adrenaline addiction? Stampede the masses? Create a demeaned "other" to scapegoat? Maybe create a crisis to exploit, which for all the blather is just a Kinsley gafe & hardly original with Rham-bo.

    Maybe there's a corollary to Occam's Razor, something like: "In politics, the most mundane, unapocalyptic explanation is most likely true, yet least attractive."

  • WTF are you talking about? You're a long-time commenter here, so I'm puzzled as to why all of a sudden you don't know how comment threads work. It's really jarring when you're trying to follow a conversation, and then someone chimes in talking about things as if they were up for discussion in the first place, which they weren't. I can't find a single thing in your reply to space_oddity that has a single thing to do with what he said. Why don't you go take a breather for a second there? You seem to be doing this a lot regarding this article.

  • BierceAmbrose

    "Dinesh D'Souza is a complete blowhard".

    Now that I think about it some more, this might work: "Wait, 'Dinesh D'Souza' is a Pajiba-handle? Who knew?"

  • Uncle Mikey

    Yeah, only righties are expected to rethink their positions. Lefties have it all figured out and are above criticism. We get it. Sorry to "jar" you with a request to be as openminded as you insist we should be. Now go take a breather, Bierce. Into your corner.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Quoting @SpaceOddity in reply to @RIP

    "Speaking as a progressive, the fact that Obama is even painted as 'radical' is a mark of how far right we as a country have drifted." (Emphasis added - ed.)

    That "drift" is an illusion.

    "We as a country" never were all that leftward. When you look at the whole demo - 300+ million people and 50 states, over time frames bigger than election cycles - it ain't that different now than it's been. We seem to be about 50/50 in electing Republican / Democrat presidents and congresses. Sometimes the progressive left gets some traction despite being a minority of opinion, especially when there's a turnover in the Presidency. The relevant fact is being a minority of opinion, still. (Y'all might try more convincing people who don't agree with you, and less insulting them, but that's just me.)

    So, RIP I responded directly to the comment I replied to - third sentence, quoted above. In contrast, I can't think of something useful or funny to add to "Dinesh D'Souza is a complete blowhard".

  • Sassafrass Green

    But but but he's willing to admit that we're flawed as a country! That's practically treason! We're perfect and never wrong! We do everything flawlessly! To think otherwise is to love terrorism!


  • JQ

    Were you being sarcastic?

  • sara


  • Greedy

    It might be debatable that "Barack Obama markets his blackness in order to convince white people into feeling noble and heroic for voting for a black man." but he sure as hell markets his blackness to black people.

    Asking questions about how one is leveraging their race is not the same as racism.

  • davia55

    Marketing his blackness would be political suicide. Only 15% of the population is black

  • AudioSuede

    Every presidential candidate (well, Democrats, at least) have groups or wings of their campaigns that cater specifically to minority groups. There's also a "Latinos for Obama." Does this mean he has some Latino ancestry and is manipulating that secret heritage for votes?

  • Greedy

    Do you really not see a difference between a group sharing the same race/culture/language forming a committee to support a particular candidate (which is bad enough), and a candidate recruiting the support of a specific race via direct solicitations on his website, and on tv and radio ads? Sure, both Reps and Dems are playing the race card to some degree or another, but only one side ever gets called on it. And more often than not, the charge of racism is leveled as a tactic to discredit a policy standpoint, than actually exposing real racism. Don't want unlimited immigration into the U.S.? Racist. Think changes should be made in the welfare system? Racist. Want voter rolls to be scrubbed to make sure people are actually eligible to vote? Racist. Think President Obama is a charlatan who has fabricated much of his life story to further his political career? Racist racist racist.

  • AudioSuede

    Wow, where to start.

    Political candidates target donations for specific groups all the time. If Mitt Romney had an "African Americans for Romney" page on his website, I wouldn't consider it racist. Because the point isn't to single out a group and grift them, the idea is to locate issues that might be important to voters within those blocs and address how a candidate might work towards success in those areas. African-Americans have lobbying groups (the most notable being the NAACP) because there are issues that are important to the African-American community. Same as other races and minority groups. Is it ageist to have a page devoted to seniors or to college students? I don't think so. Same idea applies here.

    Also, let's stop calling it "playing the race card." No one of any substance is making every single issue a racial issue. But there are times when we need to be able to recognize whether things will disproportionately affect certain minorities if they move forward. A lot of immigration reform legislation is unduly harsh towards people of Mexican descent, including those who've come to the U.S. legally or were born here. So it's important that we discuss the right and wrong within those pieces of legislation. The same is true of a large portion of welfare reform. The percentages of the minority population vs. the percentages of the white population that are affected by welfare legislation are not exactly fair. We need to be mindful of how we affect people who are different from ourselves and how we can do it in the most equal manner possible. Scrubbing voter rolls is one thing, but there are too many instances of it happening in districts and neighborhoods that are disproportionately minority-based, to the point where many minorities are forced to re-register, get voter cards, and hope that their paperwork is processed in time for the election when many of their white friends or community members on the other side of the district line don't have to change a thing. This also discourages elderly and student voting, blocs that traditionally vote for one side more than the other.

    As for that last point, that's not so much racist as it is kinda conspiratorial and crazy. There's a pretty substantial amount of documented evidence about his life to this point. I think it would be pretty hard in the internet age to become president and have made up your life story.

  • BierceAmbrose

    No. It means he is pandering to that particular demographic as a category vs. individuals, for votes.

    I'm not a fan of lumping people into groups for political purposes, especially groups defined by color or ancestry. Groups defined by geography or economic class are less bad, but still make me uncomfortable.

  • AudioSuede

    Groups get defined. It happens. People define themselves too. is self-definition off-limits? It's only when the groups that have been defined are treated in a manner that is negative or prejudiced that grouping becomes a problem. What he's doing, and what other candidates do, is identifying issues that are important to a particular group in order to address them within his platform. Some people vote based on how their vote will help or hurt the group with which they self-identify. This is just one way of informing them and working with them.

  • BierceAmbrose

    It might be debatable that "Barack Obama markets his blackness in order to convince white some (My change - ed.) people into feeling noble and heroic for voting for a black man.

    No, it's not.

    And the current Republican ticket market their "whiteness" in order to allow some people to feel reassured with a pair of Rotarirans.

    And the current Dem blabber-machine throws the "whiteness" thing at the Republicans every change they get.

    And the Repubs point out President Obama's "unusual background" whenever they can get away with it.

    And the Dems have a series of takes on "Mormor-crazy" they're drip, drip, dripping out there.(*)

    Also, this just in the sun came up in the East this morning.

    (*) The contraception mandate & response was unbelievably bad politics - tremendous inoculation against the "Morman Crazy" line of attacks.

  • AudioSuede

    The contraception mandate was a massive win for Obama. He made the controversial stance, then backed off so he could look like a deliberating agent of compromise, and then when his opponents were all riled up and running head first into the issue, he was able to sit back and let all his attackers look like backwards imbeciles who don't respect women's rights. It created a line in the sand: "This guy wants to give women free birth control. These guys hate the idea of women getting free birth control. Who are you voting for?" It was an ingenious strategy.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well, obviously I read it differently.

    I think he may have firmed up a base that was going to vote for him anyway, while riling up the other guys' base & flipping some otherwise undecideds.

    My other point stands - he can't go as hard at the "Mormon, crazy" without feeding the "anti-religion" label, and the "rule of regulation not law" "narrative" (I hate that word. Used ironically.), and reminding of the health care law which is still unpopular in the population as a whole vs. the progressive base.

    All that said, nobody pays me as a political consultant, so I'm probably not all that good at it.


  • AudioSuede

    That paragraph was a series of grammatically nonsensical statements, but if I'm gleaning from it correctly, you're implying that Obama has been going after Romney for being Mormon, which he hasn't, especially since the contraceptive debate (which took place before Romney won the nomination) was primarily targeted by the Catholic lobby. But the whole "anti-religion" thing is a smoke-screen. As for the health care law, it's actually popular when people are polled on the things the law actually does (i.e. when it's broken down by its component parts), but the whole "Obamacare" tag has been effective in people saying it's wrong or immoral or some such which doesn't make any sense because morality would dictate that we should offer medical assistance to anyone who needed it, but I digress.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Well, you seem to have followed well enough.

    Factually, the DNC and several super-PACs have been going after Romney for being Mormon on the DL, with more in the pipeline, well-timed to allow no time to refute or counter. Obama's been keeping his own statements off that issue, which he has to to maintain "likability" and stay away from his own weaknesses around choice of church and pastor.

    The contraceptive debate spurred by the HHS regulation was post-Romney sewing up the nomination, and continues. How many lawsuits are pending, currently? Some new group joined w/in the last fortnight. This round of contraceptive mandating has stirred up a fair number of Catholic institutions, which will secure some number of voters for Romney.

    You are correct that, properly phrased, some, perhaps many individual provisions of the health care law poll positively. The polls like this that I have read - not every poll - ask about results. I've also seen a couple on this subject where slight changes of phrasing flip the result 10-20%.

    You are also right that the "Obamacare" tag has some baggage. I think it's well-deserved baggage. From accounting shenanigans like more years' revenue than expenses, to procedural shenanigans in getting it "passed", to ridiculous provisions like buying off individual legislators, or putting an excise tax on medical devices in preference to drugs - who has the bigger lobby? - the bill is a mess.

    Besides, enthusiasm for grand ideas *always* erodes as you get down to particulars.

    There's 3-4 things broken in our health care system that you could fix pretty easily, with maybe 60% or better backing in the population & legislature. It's a shame President Obama and the congressional majority at the time had to mess that up going for a grander grab. They've sullied the issue for a generation.

  • RhymesWithSilver

    I read some of D'Souza's work years ago- his writings on American exceptionalism and capitalism didn't line up with my own views, but they were far from irrational. More recently, he's drifted further toward the wingnutty right, and has doubtless profited from it, but they could do worse for a spokesman. D'Souza is also leveraging his own race here; his arguments would have a lot less mileage if he himself were not brown. Is an additional yard of speculation in this direction permissible because he's Indian? Or is he "as good as white" either by ethnicity or by association with unabashed racists who share his band on the political spectrum? Is even asking that question racist? There are plenty of questions here about race and racism, but the distinctions don't come down in any one direction anymore. Race is subjective. We can't expect people to participate in a "conversation about race" if we can't distinguish racism from mere bias or ignorance, and we shut down everyone who expresses an idea we don't like before we even start. I don't agree with D'Souza's increasingly tinfoil hat-worthy ideas, but there's a lot of grey area in questions of race and how we see it and use it and how it effects us. The idea of leveraging one's race is no different from the idea of white privilege; it's certainly real, and the debate is really about its significance and what we do when we become aware of it. But it's not racist to suggest that a phenomena exists.

  • BierceAmbrose

    D'Souza is also leveraging his own race here; his arguments would have a lot less mileage if he himself were not brown.

    Well, speaking as a white, hetero male of a certain age(*), "mileage" ain't the half of it - there's some stuff you just can't touch depending on race, age or orientation.

    (*) I mean a white guy can't touch. Or one who's old. And don't get me started on the whole "hetero" thing.

  • FullOnPiglet

    Must be a day to day struggle for you.

  • BierceAmbrose

    Thank you for making my point for me.

  • stevens

    Brilliant. Attack the messenger when you can't debate the message.

  • FullOnPiglet

    Did I say he was wrong? I'm thrilled with his message.

  • BierceAmbrose

    No you didn't say he was wrong.

    I'm going to have a hard time coming back around to anything else after being called a racist - not personally, mind you, just my demo which is apparently destiny - twice in the review and twice more in the comments at current count.

  • FullOnPiglet

    Aw. I wish I could take you out for waffles and a trip to Disneyland.

  • I'd be more impressed if this documentary weren't apparently based on an act of mindreading, carried out at a distance and reaching decades back in time.

    Actually, now that I think about that, I AM super impressed. What can Dinesh D'Souza tell us about the Ameila Earhart crash?

  • BierceAmbrose

    What can Dinesh D'Souza tell us about the Ameila Earhart crash?

    Nothing. He can, however tell us why she was compelled to fly with the boys. I'm guessing "daddy issues", which seems to be a theme, no?

  • BierceAmbrose

    Oh, that's funny. Nice.

    Yet, I'd be more impressed had I seen a comment like this over the years when Bush-The-Younger was on the journalist's couch for his daddy issues. (It's out there. Just ask the internet.)

    One reason I love Mikey Kaus as an analyst is he's willing to call bullshit on the party that's allegedly for the stuff he prefers. Got his ass dismissed from Salon for not getting with the program, despite his preferences being somewhere to the left of France's new Socialist big man.

  • Strand

    Well, at least it seems to be less rabid (albeit more insidious) than most right wing 'documentary' fare like the Kirk Cameron or Ben Stein turds. Baby steps right?

  • no one

    Well of course it’s insidious and racist, doesn’t that go without saying? And hell yeah anything that’s anti-Obama is a “screed”. Because duh. And racism. And of course Bill Ayers and Rev Wright are just a small percentage of all the other influences whose home he began his political career in and in whose church he sat for 20 years.

    Gah, whatever. At least the last paragraph was an actual review of the movie and not just more defense of ‘the one’.

  • Bert_McGurt

    Is there an argument in this comment somewhere? Some substance beyond mocking implications would maybe work.

  • Lipton

    Most rational people don't simply consume one or two political voices and make those the center of their political or religious thought and belief. We have a lot of influences and sometimes we realize that the person, as we mature, we realize that the person we've been listening to has an ideology that diverges from our own but that still doesn't negate the way they helped us grow intellectually.

    I've spent over 20 years in the Mormon Church and somehow I've still been able to turn out as a progressive and a feminist and a supporter of gay rights because I have the capacity to make my own decisions and have my own thoughts. And the more I've learned about history the more I've discovered how flawed and contradictory some of our great political heroes are (like the Founding Fathers) but that doesn't mean that I don't respect what they accomplished even if I don't agree with every part of their numerous philosophies.

    Believing in ideologues and the sweeping statements of "history" are easy, a child's version of political discourse. Yes, Dustin reviewed the movie through the lens of a particular political viewpoint but he did so critically, noting the strengths and weaknesses in the filmmaker's argument. You would be well served to employ a little critical thought in your own consumption of political propaganda, regardless of the side from which it emerges. I don't care which side you end up on as long as you parse it out and make it your own.

  • sherlockzz

    I'll give the reviewer credit for trying to be fair, even as the word "begrudging" comes to mind, while wearing his bias on his sleeve. However, the bias seems so extreme to me that I surmise it might have been impossible for him to actually be fair. The reviewer has done his job. He has made me want to see the movie.

  • David Sorenson

    Of course we're going to defend "The One." Sure it's a silly movie, but it's really underappreciated. You've got Carla Gugino and Jason Statham. Jet Li is fantastic in it. And the fight choreography. It's just amazing.

    What really disappoints me is your need to bash a movie that isn't even in the review. This is an adult conversation. Try to stick to the topic at hand.


  • BierceAmbrose

    You made me laugh out loud. Thank you for that.

  • Sassafrass Green

    Wow. And it's impossible for anything against Obama to be racist? I'm not saying all points against Obama are, but if the filmmaker's point is that Obama uses his mixed race background to lull white people with the intention of leveling the country's power down, that's pretty racist.

    Look. Some people dislike Obama for racist reasons. Other people don't. Some people dislike him a mix of the two. It's not drinking the Kool-ade to point out racism when we see it. I'm not sure if you're aware, but racism is still very much a thing that exists. Pointing it out and acknowledging its influence, especially in a political documentary, is not blindly defending the president or being some mindless drone. It's seeing racism and denouncing it. End of story.

  • BierceAmbrose

    I do not think that word means what you think it means.

    When I was a sprout, admittedly only shortly after we learned to tally our oxen and wine in Linear-A(*), "racist" meant treating a group of people as inferior simply based on their race, denying a group particular opportunities, rights or protections simply based on their race, or harboring a belief in the net separate identity, history and destiny, particularly superiority/inferiority of groups of people, distinguishable only by their race.

    I'm not a fan of "race" as a useful idea. AFAIK, all the various "races" interbreed successfully, producing viable offspring, which makes us a species of varying hues and proportions, with some demographic differences that sometimes track to color. I think that's mostly history. To say your color makes your poor, or weak, or evil or stupid - wouldn't that be racist?

    ... if the filmmaker's point is that Obama uses his mixed race
    background to lull white people with the intention of leveling the
    country's power down, that's pretty racist.

    No. The fimmaker would be racist only should he make an accusation like this: "President Obama is a opportunist and race hustler because he's black, and all black people are like that."

    Somebody said something eloquent once about judging people by the content of their character not the color of their skin. I'd broaden it to behavior - race hustling, for example. I think we should judge people based on what they do, regardless of who their parents were. I'll have to check our respective colors to see if I'm allowed to quote that.

    (*) Meaning I'm pink vs. chocolate & also old. Thus, based on my color and age demographic, I am unavoidably the mouth-breathing target demo for this propaganda piece, also stupid, reactionary, and racist, or so says, well, lets not name names.

  • AudioSuede

    I think it's the implication that he's "changing his race," as in acting presidential is a purely white notion and the black man has to act white in order to be elected. That is the part that I perceive as racist. Obama doesn't "act black" or "act white." He acts like he acts.

  • Sassafrass Green

    Yeah, that's what I was getting at. I didn't really state my argument clearly.

  • aroorda

    The way you self implode at the end of your comment is breathtaking. Get this, remember it too please, people can think Obama is doing a good job without being the second coming of Christ. I hate political threads, so this is my last poston this review.

    There is zero hero worship of Obama in the review. There is zero defense of Obama. In fact he says the director has compelling points.

    If Obama released a feature film arguing he was a great president, the right would explode in self righteous indignation, that is what is so infuriating about a 2 hour Mitt Romney campaign ad.

  • no one

    The fact that you see zero defense of Obama in that 'review' says more about you and the gap between us then I could ever put into words.

  • Fabius_Maximus

    The fact that you see a defense of Obama in that review says more about you and the gap between you and reality that I could ever put into words.

    See how easy it is to make a claim without offering any kind of proof?

  • Sassafrass Green

    You're being pretty gross. And arrogant.

  • no one

    well, not 'just' more defense of the one.

  • David Sorenson

    Never understood the whole "The One" thing. This supposed reverence that democrats have for Obama isn't even a tenth of the reverence republicans have for Ronald Reagan now, and that's even weirder because the republicans didn't worship Reagan that much when he was alive.

  • kirbyjay

    Why is no one in this country aghast that we had a sitting president suffering from early onset Alzheimer's?

  • BierceAmbrose

    Public figures' images get cleaned up over time. They become paragons, retroactively. It's double-plus common with perceived successes.

    Hell, the Dems are taking credit for the "balanced budget" under President Clinton - you know the one he / they were dragged kicking and screaming into by the reactionary and dangerous Newt Gingrich. They were even taking credit for welfare reform as a fiscal responsibility argument, that is, until the current administration put that in play with a regulation relaxing the work requirement.

    That welfare reform thing was astonishingly bad politics, BTW.

  • David Sorenson

    It's way more than that. Nixon got cleaned up. Reagan gets name dropped at every major republican speech as a true paragon of modern republican values despite the fact that he would at best be a moderate republican now if not a RINO (republican in name only). Odds are some tea party candidate would beat Reagan in a primary.

    Also the welfare reform thing is a lie. A falsehood. An untruth. http://www.factcheck.org/2012/...

  • BierceAmbrose

    Reagan gets name dropped at every major republican speech as a true paragon of modern republican values despite the fact that he would at best be a moderate republican now if not a RINO (republican in name only).

    In what way do you mean he'd be at best a moderate? I've been hearing that assertion, but the only policy I've heard named is "tax increases." In memoirs from the Reagan administration that I have read, agreeing to certain, limited tax increases (in the midst of other tax cuts) was part of a grand "deal" to later cut spending. The legislature reneged.

    Deficits at that time were part of a strategy to "starve the beast." Reduce revenue & spending cuts will be forced. That strategy ... well, we can see how well it worked. But the point is deficits were not considered OK during the Reagan administration. They were thought something so horrible their existence would force difficult, right action, so I have read.

    I think hypothetical Reaganesque tax increases now, if there are such things, have to account for this history. Also, from the data I've seen federal revenue seems to peak around 18-19% of GDP, independent of tax rates. So proposing to increase tax rates to increase revenue has to also answer two questions. Why we believe that you won't just spend more? And why should we believer that you'll actually take in more revenue? That or it isn't about revenue, which makes it social engineering not a fiscal policy.

    Or are we talking about a different policy from the Reagan administration, not the Reagan tax increases?

    The most astonishing political rehabilitation to me is the Nixon cleanup. This campaign cycle I've heard Democratic officials using "Nixon did it, so you Republicans must agree that it's a good thing." Nixon? Nixon!?! Democrats? Nixon? He was the devil the Republicans could never live down, and rightly so.

    In our current spasm, we haven't yet gotten to wage and price controls, gas rationing and the other joys of the Nixon / Carter economy. We are, however, doing a pretty good job of turning a financial system crisis into a fiscal crisis then a collapsed economy. Yay, us!

  • BierceAmbrose

    Fact check says Romney's TV ad over states the case. They focus on the word "gut", in "gut welfare reform." I, for one, am shocked, shocked to see histrionics in a political ad, but nevermind.

    Fact check has somewhat more - What's that word again? - "nuanced" things to say about the specific changes proposed to welfare administration.

    As for me, I said "relaxing" not "gut", which is, indeed correct. "Work" is to be interpreted as "work activities" and there's a list that's more than doing a job for somebody else, for which you get paid.

    Before saying "relaxing", I read both the "ruling" and two relevant sections of the law - one about work requirements and one about what can be modified by regulation (I forget the technical term of art for this.) I also watched on the TV several interviews with people involved in the process of creating that particular law, who argued both "It's the end of the world." and "It's no big thing." I wasn't at the time preparing for a deposition, so the names escape me at the moment. I was looking for primary data to form some kind of opinion for myself.

    With that background, the "regulation" looks to me to modify the terms - the actual words - of the bill. The section of the bill that defines work requirements looks to me to be excluded from such modification by another section of the bill. And the actual modification changes what counts as meeting the work requirement.

    I am less certain of the following. It looks to me from the history of the bill that both the work requirement and excluding the work requirement from modification by regulation were the intent of the legislature at that time. It looks to me like the legislature at the time intended to specifically prevent the federal agency involved from defining, or redefining work requirements.

    Fact check could have gone after any of these things:

    - Does the proposed change "gut the law"? Matter of opinion. Depends on how important you think the definition of work is.

    - Does the proposed change, change how the work requirement can be met? Yes.

    - Is the proposed change made through regulation? Yes.

    - Is changing the work requirement this way allowed by the law? I think no, but as the lawyers say we don't know what's legal until a judge rules.

    Most interesting to me is that the mechanism for adjusting the work requirement involves "waivers" by which a state can appeal to the feds for a different set of rules. Whenever I see "waivers" I think "somebody's opinion" and in regulation that bugs me.

    As for this: "Also the welfare reform thing is a lie. A falsehood. An untruth."

    Depends on what the meaning of "thing" is.

  • BierceAmbrose

    It's double-plus common with perceived successes.


    Sometimes I just don't know what to do. Some readers hereabouts will get that reference at all. Some will get it deeply. Many won't.

    "Double-plus" is a callback to 1984 where the "Ministry of Truth", spent their time rewriting history so the heroes became paragons, using language specifically designed to limit thought. For example, all added emphasis was reduced to "plus" and sometimes "double-plus" in a language designed to eliminate nuance. There is only us & them, good & bad, or rather "ungood."

    Language used to hoodwink is seen in 1984, Animal Farm and a lot of Orwell's other work. Another recurring example of the theme of thought control, therefore political control, through language is creating dog-whistle words that preempt thinking and shut down conversation. Stuff like "raaaaaa-cist." Or "lib-ur-al!!!!"

    Maybe this might apply to the current election, or broader discussion of Democrat / Republican, conservative / liberal & etc. Orwell, let's remember, was a practicing propagandist through much of his career.

    The link is to an movie version of Animal Farm.

  • aroorda

    I'm really sorry you had to go see this Dustin. It's ridiculous that racist petty bullshit like this does so well in theaters in our country.

  • David Sorenson

    It's not even racist. That's almost the saddest thing. Most republicans don't hate Obama because he's black. That would take more commitment. Honestly a bit more strength of character in a weird way. What they do hate him for is almost sadder. The biggest reason republicans hate Obama is because he's a democrat.

    If Barack Obama switched to the republican party and bowed down to Ayn Rand and Grover Nordquist, they would love him to death. He'd have a prime time speaking gig at the convention even if he wasn't president. Sean Hannity would be begging to have him on his show.

    Racism, as noxious as it is, takes a certain strength and commitment. You're hating every single person of a specific race based upon nothing more than their racial identity. This? It's way more petty. They're hating him because he has a "D" next to his name instead of an "R."

  • Having lived in the South of the Mason-Dixon line during the 2008 election I can tell you plenty of people hated him based on the color of his skin and were teaching their children to do the same. I was teaching 8th grade U.S. History at the time and part of the curriculum in civics, therefore the election process and there were a lot of racist comments being thrown around by students who were simply regurgitating what they had heard at home.
    Racism is pandemic and under the radar in a way that I don't think enough people are willing to address in this post-Civil Rights era America. racism happens at home and leaks into public life when racists let their guard down. Same with homophobia, anti-women sentiments, etc.

  • sherlockzz

    It's aggravating to be called a racist because one disagrees with someone's actions or views. I haven't seen the movie but I've seen the president's defenders constantly playing the race card to shut down opposition. Once upon a time, it was "the economy, stupid". Now, it's supposedly not the economy but the president's skin color that the reason for opposition to his presidency. It's not only unfair, it's illogical. Mathematically, this man was elected president. Many of those voters now oppose this man for reelection. Are we to believe they've become racist in the last three and a half years? I haven't seen the movie so I will withhold judgment on whether the reviewer is playing the race card but one can only hear "wolf" so many times before the effectiveness of the charge wears off.

  • AudioSuede

    As a liberal who likes to get into arguments with conservatives and has many friends who are much the same, I can say with certainty that I have heard someone "play the race card" (or, as I would call it, "calling out racism") maybe 3-5 times defending Obama, total. The only people I hear talk about it are conservatives, who claim it's somehow impossible to criticize Obama because he's black. No one here has claimed that to disagree with the president is to be defined as a racist. No one I know has ever done so. I have never done so. I won't call you racist until you say or do something racist, and that doesn't include disagreeing with the president.

    Now, let's move this conversation along.

  • sherlockzz

    You should watch more MSNBC. Chris Mathews plays it almost every day and, although I don't watch Al Sharpton regularly, I've seen enough of him to believe he probably has a regular race card poker game going on every day on his show as well. This other person responding below mentions three other examples of race card playing that happened recently that got national airplay. If a conservative politician mentions food stamps, welfare or voter ID he is called a racist automatically without regard to the merits of the debate. Terms like "dog whistle" and "code words" are thrown around without basis. It stifles meaningful debate and empowers the thought police.

  • AudioSuede

    Okay, before we move on, I'd like to put a moratorium on the term "thought police" or any other reference to 1984. 1984 is the Dave Matthews Band of books: I'm sure it's great, but the hardcore fans of it sound either crazy or absurd when they talk about it. It's so hyperbolic and over-the-top. It's like quoting Ayn Rand. First off, it's fiction. Second, it makes it sound like you read one really cool book in high school and haven't read anything since. It'd be like me comparing the Tea Party to the angry mob in To Kill A Mockingbird. It might even be a valid comparison, but it's a 10th-grade metaphor in a full-grown-adult conversation.

    On to the point, I don't recall Chris Matthews or Al Sharpton being recent candidates for office. True, they should stick to being reporters and avoid punditry. But if we're gonna be singling out a politically-affiliated news organization for hammering on a point, I'm a lot more comfortable with a network that goes too far trying to root out political racism than a network that tried really hard at one point to give credence to the birther movement and then balked when everyone pointed out that they were insane and (yes) racist.

  • sherlockzz

    You didn't limit your comment about race card playing to candidates. You said "someone" and identified yourself as "a liberal who likes to get into arguments with conservatives". My examples of MSNBC hosts fit both descriptors precisely. Besides, limiting the examples of race card playing to candidates is disingenuous. Candidates try to keep their hands clean on this kind of thing and usually have their minions or surrogates or ventriloquist dummies sling the mud.

    And, I tried to avoid your baiting of the conservative lure, I really did but, the 1984 and Ayn Rand jig is so shiny here in the pond. I just have to go for it. Here goes...

    Surely you realize that your desire exclude any references to "1984" in the discussion is exactly the actions a thought policeman might take?

  • AudioSuede

    It's really hard to type because my eyes are rolling so hard. I don't want people to stop using references to 1984 because they're so apt and oh I'm so scared of being called a member of the oh-so-real-and-not-fictional thought police. I want people to stop using references to 1984 because they make everyone sound like we're in a bad episode of The X-Files.

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