by Dennis Trainor, Jr
No one will argue with the fact that Moammar Gadhafi is crazy. Not crazy like your eccentric college roommate who you like hanging out with from time to time but would never actually want to trade places with, but crazy in an evil villain, cartoonish Dr. Strangelove kind of way. However, let me ask you a question and ask you to hold off on answering for 180 seconds: is he any crazier than Barack Obama?
"Gadhafi has lost the legitimacy to govern, and it is time for him to go without further violence or delay," said U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton,
and then added by way of direct threat: "No option is off the table."
British Prime Minister David Cameron
, continuing the quaint tradition of Britain walking in lockstep with Washington told lawmakers: "We do not in any way rule out the use of military assets" to deal with Gadhafi's regime.
Gadhafi, the man behind the most brutal crackdown of any Arab during the current wave of popular uprisings going viral in the middle east, played the part of the batshit crazy Dr. Evil for the ABC News cameras in an interview with Christine Amanpour when he said, totally deadpan (no pun) that there are no protests in the streets & laughed off a question about whether he would acquiesce to Barack Obama’s demand that he step down:
"My people love me. They would die for me
," he said.
"It sounds, just frankly, delusional," said U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice. She added that Gadhafi's behavior, including laughing on camera in TV interviews amid the chaos, "underscores how unfit he is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality."
It is hard to argue with that sentiment.
And yet, what do the following facts do to disprove my thesis that our current leaders, Obama included, are unfit to lead and disconnected from reality: We are a country that spends $100 billion
a year waging war in Afghanistan that 2/3 of the U.S. population is against and even now more and more military hawks claim is a lost cause, while legislators wrangle over how to cut $100 billion from the budget without any meaningful mention or debate about cutting war spending.
Isn’t it time that a main-stream journalist, like Anderson Cooper, or Brian Williams, or Christian Amanpour- who apparently can get an interview with anyone she wants, has a sit down with President Obama, and underscores that in continuing the Bush doctrine of preventative war, in doing nothing to disprove Martin Luther King’s assessment that the United States Government is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world, funding the military at a rate exceeds the spending of the next 16 nations combined underscores how unfit Obama is to lead and how disconnected he is from reality?
By Dennis Trainor, Jr.
Even though Obama allowed the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier to form Unions and fortify the defenses of middle class in the war being waged on us by the super rich, to all but disappear from the administrations priority list, Americans know that he will be there when the chips are down.
He promised as much, in no uncertain terms on the campaign trail
"Understand this. If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain, when I'm in the White House, I'll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I'll walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States because Americans deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner."
His language as President has never quite lived up to his poetic rhetoric as a candidate, but the country does not need poetry now.
What the country needs is a President who stands with them and fights against the coordinated assault on workers, planned by the super rich and being enacted by a new breed of activist GOP Governors.
What the country needs is a President to point out that collective barraging is not to blame for the financial crisis; criminals on Wall Street are.
What the country needs is a President to help us understand that even before Gov. Scott Walker gave corporations $117 million in tax cuts, in large part creating the current $137 million deficit it was individuals who made up four times the tax revenue of the State.
And that ratio is criminal.
The numbers of the Federal level are even worse. Individuals account for almost 5 times the tax revenues that corporations do. Compare that to the 50-50 ratios that existed when Ronald Regan took office and you begin to see how wealth has been trickling up, not down, for the past 30 years.
What the country needs is a President to help us understand that the current battle being waged in Wisconsin is not the first battle in a long war ahead of us, but, if the elite right wing super rich get their way, will be the last stand for Unions in a violent siege that they withstanding since Regan broke the Air Traffic Controllers Union.
Not in a Union? Don’t care about Unions?
If Unions are broken, the center of American Politics- already pulled to the right, goes even further.
If Unions are broken, corporate welfare will increase, and promoting the general welfare- as called for in the preamble to the Constitution, becomes a distant memory.
Yes, my Tea Party Constitutional champions: you have been arguing the wrong side of this issue all along. You claim to be into liberty, and yet act like puppets.
So, this is a black and white issue. Choose a side: You can bow down to the Super Rich Great Gatsby’s of the world and be happy with whatever crumbs they are willing to toss your way- casting yourselves in the subservient role of a beggar in some nightmare Dickensian pageant,
Or take a stand in solidarity with workers to promote the general Welfare.
By Dennis Trainor, Jr
First Tunisia, Egypt, and then every hour it seemed a new revolution was emerging Algeria, Iran, Libya, and Bahrain- I mean, Bahrain- come on- if you would have asked most Americans what Bahrain was two months ago, more people would have guessed it was a dip for Pita chips, not a country whose people were being gunned down while peacefully protesting.
Just two months into the last year before the final year of the Mayan calendar, the final year in the history of the world, according to 4 out of 5 nihilistic moon bat conspiracy theorists surveyed- the middle East, some real estate with a high level biblically apocalyptic significance, is about as stable as the trifecta of Charlie Sheen, Bolivian coke, and a harem of Heidi Fleiss employees.
So, are we witnessing the beginning of the end? Or is this, somehow, the end of the War on Terror?
Peter Beinart, writing in the Daily Beast, opines:
“the revolutions transforming the Middle East
are also deeply sad because they underscore what a terrible waste the last decade of American foreign policy has been. Since September 11, the United States has spent more than $1 trillion in Afghanistan and Iraq
. Those wars have cost thousands of young Americans their lives
and maimed many more. … From Egypt to Libya to Bahrain to Iran, the lesson of the last month is that any regime that offers its people neither free speech nor a decent job is ideologically weak… Had America’s leaders understood that after 9/11, they might have realized that waiting on events, rather than trying to remake the Middle East at gunpoint wasn’t such a bad idea after all.”
The conclusion here, paraphrasing Beinart, is that as democratically elected regimes pop up in the middle east that are less do not have a history of acquiescing to a US foreign policy, Al Qaeda will find fewer pockets of disenchantment to recruit from.
While Beinart stops short of pointing out that the trillions of dollars spent killing and maiming innocent civilians in countries that posed no immediate threat to us is not only illegal and immoral, but almost certainly blowback inducing. The freedom dance that is going viral in the Middle East is encouraging, and deserving of our full support. However, the U.S. has played the part of Imperial Bull in a Religious, Cultural and Geopolitical China
shop for so many decades that it takes a special brand of born in the USA Hubris to think that when all of the dust settles on the tectonic shifts now happening in the middle east, we will wake up to a world that looks at the United States like a benevolent patriarch.
by Dennis Trainor, Jr.
Make no mistake about it. Wisconsin’s recently elected Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s threat to call in the national guard if Union Members respond to his proposed bill that would strip collective bargaining rights away from Union Members, is not only an attack against Union members in his state, it is right now the main front on the war being waged against the middle class.
Among the many negative consequences of our extended great recession is the growing perception, nurtured by ultra right wing corporate interests, that paints the picture of Union members in this country who are over compensated and in some way need to sacrifice like the rest of us.
Ignored in this argument are two facts:
While real unemployment in this country continues to flirt with 20%, Wall Street records record profits. In fact, according to the Commerce Department, U.S. companies earned the highest profit rate in the 3rd quarter of 2010, since, well, EVER. So, for all of you worshipping at the alter of Ronald Regan, tell me, when is some of this shit gonna trickle down? Okay, let me glance at my figures- oh, yes that is right Regan was wrong. Ever since the Gipper busted the Air Traffic control Union, wealth has been getting redistributed upwards at a rate that threatens to eliminate the middle class. Are you familiar with the term serfdom? Ah … What's in a name? That which we call a slave by any other name would work for free.
Also ignored in the argument that Union members in this country are over compensated and in some way need to sacrifice like the rest of us is the following.
The sacrifices made by Union Members in this country gave all of us, no matter if we ever paid a dime in Union dues, a minimum wage, a 40 hour work week, overtime, sick days and in many other tangible ways helped create what we used to call the American Dream: The belief that if we apply our will and work hard for a living that we would secure for ourselves and our family a well earned and secure place in the middle class.
That dream, like the middle class itself, is under siege and on life support.
This public war against Unions is a major front in the very real war being waged on the middle class. The deck, financed by the Koch brothers and other individuals and corporations whose interests lie solely in increasing the profit margins for the ultra rich, is stacked against us. So much so, that messaging on this issue has infected the middle class to the extent that many blue collar workers who no longer work under the protective umbrella of a union consistently parrot the talking points of Fox News; essentially defending their would be executioners.
The Citizens United Case that opened the floodgates for increased corporate financing in elections will give us more elected officials who act as brazen warriors in the fight against the middle class. The Citizens United ruling will yield be more Governors like Scott Walker and New Jersey Union busting crusader Chris Christie.
There need to be more of us, like the tens of thousands protesting in the streets of Madison Wisconsin, whether we be in Unions or no, who are willing to stand, together, against them.
by Dennis Trainor, Jr
During Sunday’s Pre Super Bowl Interview with Bill O’Reilly, Barack Obama said a few things that jumped off the screen. Among them, on offhand comment in response to O’Reilly’s suggestion that the President had grown more guarded since becoming President. Obama said “Well, I think what is true is that, when you're in this job, everything you say could affect markets.”
I think the time has passed where Obama’s allegiance to Wall Street over Main Street just might cost him the 2012 election. While the administration continues to point out that Obama’s maneuvers in the mine field left him by that Texas Village idiot avoided the Second Great Depression, the barometer they are using to judge our recovery are only important to the great Gatsby white glove top hat strata of our society. Yes a good portion of the middle class has their retirement linked, via a 401K plan, to the health of the Dow Jones, growing legions of that dwindling middle class do not have the luxury of looking to the horizon.
Predatory lending practices have left many in underwater mortgages- loosing sleep over the moral quandary of walking away where, if a corporation were in a similar situation, they would walk away from that mortgage without batting a eyelash on their brow lifted, chemically peeled Botox infused faces.
While Wall Street thrives (corporate third quarter profits in 2010 increased 28% form the previous year, the highest year to year increase on record) Middle America is drowning. A deceiving statistic is that unemployment recently fell to 9%, but that is because statics do not account for those out work so long that they are no longer considered part of the workforce and those working part time that wish to work full time. Adjusting to include those last two groups, real unemployment is over 17%.
How does corporate America thrive then?
NAFTA and the culture of exporting jobs without demanding anything in return is a major culprit. So we can thank another so called Democrat, Bill Clinton, for that pat on the back – or shove off the cliff as it were given to the middle class. Corporate America takes jobs elsewhere and creates a culture where an hourly gig an Wall Mart is something wished for longed for and to be grateful for. Soon we will be begging for crumbs from the aristocrats’ table like beggars in some Dickensian pageant.
And Obama walks on eggshells because he is afraid of affecting the markets?
More and more I believe that Obama cannot be both a great President and get elected to a second term.
Were he to announce drastic cuts in military spending – even cutting the Department of Defense budget by 80% would keep the US the largest military spender in the world- and reallocate some of the money to education, green energy, or single payer Medicare for all- he would certainly be ostracized by the establishment of both parties.
Were he to announce now, that the Bush – and now Obama- tax cuts for the rich would not be renewed in 2012 (as they almost certainly will be as they are set) and that the rich will have to pay a progressive tax system – he would almost certainly be committing political suicide.
Were he to fire his current chief of staff, former JP Morgan exec William Daley and instead take council from consumer watchdog like, dare I even say it, Ralph Nader might – shudder the thought- “Affect the markets”.
Doing any of these things might make Obama less popular, but when judged by history, they would make him right.
Perhaps he would even be labeled as the man who saved the middle class.
Thursday, during a live video streaming event from the White House, I got to ask President Obama a fair question, but one that is never asked of him in the mainstream media: “How is your PREVENTATIVE war policy different than the Bush doctrine, and can you refute the assessment of MLK that the US government is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world?” - DT
With 9.4 % Unemployment
and real unemployment hovering near 20%
, President Obama’s 2011 State of the Union is going to focus on the economy.
What follows then is not a preview of what he will say, but what he could say. Imagine the world tomorrow if Obama said anything like this:
The Great Recession – in the words of former Sec. of Labor Robert Reich
- accelerated trends starting three decades ago -- outsourcing abroad, automating work, converting full-time jobs to temps and contracts, undermining unions, and getting wage and benefit concessions from remaining workers.
The result is that a few corporate behemoths now serve as the tail that wags the dog. Too big to fail, they act with immunity, impunity and will in perpetuity work to enslave more of us while worshiping at the alter of the bottom line.
Obama could say:
The Supreme Court, in their landmark Citizens United ruling, have assisted the corporate state in advancing toward the day when the vote of the individual citizen (unless that citizen also happens to be a multi national corporation) will be as impotent as a eunuch at a rugby match.
Obama could say:
The isle in this chamber that separates us is a farce. Until radical election finance reform and lobbying laws are enacted in this country we all take our marching orders from the same cadre of capitalist criminals.
Obama could say:
We cannot win the war in Afghanistan, just as we could not win the war in Iraq. You cannot win an occupation. You may have called preventive wars the Bush doctrine, but the truth is Presidents of both major parties have been operation under the same foreign policy since ww2. Tonight, I am announcing that I will bring all troops home from Afghanistan and Iraq, and slash the military budget to one that matches the expenditures of China. That we spend more than China- a country of 1.3 billion- and the next 17 countries ranked in terms of military expenses combined is obscene in times of economic prosperity; during this- our great recession, it is nothing short of pornographic.
The money will be re-allocated to establish an FDR like jobs program aimed at making the Unites States a leader in green technology. Additionally, a significant portion of money saved in slashing the military budget will go towards the establishment of a Department of Peace. For too long, the Department of Defense, in implementing a foreign policy that lead Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr to say, correctly, that US is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world has created a culture of blowback that endangers the United States and our allies. A Department of Peace (imagine the peace corps on steroids) will create a culture of blowback that will make future generations of US citizens not fear the concept of Karma as a boomerang.
The President will not say any of this, of course. No one who has just appointed a former JP Morgan chase executive to his chief of staff is looking out for the common woman or man.
Why then, do so many of us commoners still look to him for hope?
The US objective in the nine-year quagmire, as oft repeated by President Obama is “Disrupting, dismantling and defeating Al-Qaeda and preventing its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.”
The only problem with that statement is that it is a lie.
A curiosity about our stated objective is that, according to the estimate of CIA director Leon Panetta
, there are fewer than 50 Al Qaeda left in Afghanistan. So, US strategy is a bit like taking a Glock semiautomatic handgun to hunt squirrels – and while we have come to expect such behavior from the good citizens of Arizona, it is something less than becoming as a US foreign policy objective.
But I hear you saying, wait- Al Qaeda has fled to neighboring Pakistan, and to defeat the 200 or so Al Qaeda in Pakistan we need a base in a friendly country from which to launch offensive strikes against the enemy with about 100,000 US troops.
Okay, so let me get this straight. We are in Afghanistan because we were attacked on 9/11. Check.
We were attacked on 9/11 because our foreign policy- dating back to the end of World War 2- dictates that the US enforce international order. This includes, but certainly is not limited to, decades of meddling in the Middle East. Check.
So, to prevent further attacks, our logic goes, we have expended trillions of dollars in wars since 9/11 doing the very thing that got us attacked on 9/11 to begin with.
Is that it?
Isn’t that a bit like alcoholic putting vodka in their cheerios to cure a hangover? Sure, the short term benefits might feel good, but in the end you wind up penniless, estranged from your family and standing at the entrance of the Lincoln Tunnel with a window squeegee trying to make enough change to buy yourself a fifth of old crow.
Of corse the main problem with our stated objective in Afghanistan – disrupt, dismantle, defeat, etc – is that it is a lie.
If this were Pinocchio, Obama would have an Eifel tower coming off of his face.
On NBC’c meet the press recently, Senator Lindsey Graham openly called for permanent US bases in Afghanistan
. While this goes against the grain of our stated cut off date of 2014 to withdraw from Afghanistan, permanent military bases would be consistent with our foreign policy for the last 70 odd years. Namely: we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, to assure the survival and the success of the Imperial Agenda of the United States.
In the face of the Great Recession, tuition hikes, foreclosures, real unemployment near 20%, US Soldiers killing and dying, what will we Americans do when confronted with a President who continues to look us in the face and lie?
If history is any guide, we will elect him to a second term.
The way MLK spent the last years of his life are either glossed over or ignored by the annual parade of safely packaged old newsreel footage that gets dusted off and presented to us by the mainstream media in between commercials for Doritos, beer, and erectile dysfunction remedies.
Martin Luther King, Jr did not get killed for daring to dream of a day when a man would be judged by the color of his skin but the content of his character, he was assassinated for saying things like the “United States is the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today."
"True compassion," King declared, "is more than flinging a coin to a beggar; it comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring."
King did not see U.S. foreign policy as something disconnected from the edifice that needed restructuring; just the opposite.
When King was killed, he was traveling the country to rally support for the Poor People’s Campaign. He envisioned "a multiracial army of the poor" that would descend on Washington — engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience at the Capitol, if need be — until Congress enacted a poor people's bill of rights. In King’s words, Congress had displayed "hostility to the poor" by appropriating "military funds with alacrity and generosity," but providing "poverty funds with miserliness."
When King delivered his “Beyond Vietnam” speech at Riverside Church exactly one year before his death he said: “Over the past two years, as I have moved to break the betrayal of my own silences and to speak from the burnings of my own heart, as I have called for radical departures from the destruction of Vietnam, many persons have questioned me about the wisdom of my path…”
In defending accusations from within his own ranks that peace and civil rights don’t mix, King said:
“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today -- my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”
This prompted Life magazine to write that Kings words were "demagogic slander that sounded like a script for Radio Hanoi" and lead Reader’s Digest to warn of a coming “insurrection.”
While we can debate how close our nation has come to realizing the dream of King’s – that his children would live in a world that did not judge a man by the color of his skin but by the content of his character - we have progressed far enough towards that day to have elected to the office of President a man whose skin color would have had him drinking out of a separate water fountain just a few generations ago.
Let us then judge Obama by the content of his character.
As commander in chief of a country that is still very much the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today, what would King say to him were he here?
This year, the observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. day enjoys the ironic calendar pairing of being the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhower’s farewell address, when he warned of the growing Military Industrial Complex.
I imagine that if King were alive today, he would be underscoring Eisenhower’s warning and be a champion championing Bradley Manning much more so than Barack Obama.
And Bradley Manning, who allegedly leaked documents to WikiLeaks that lay bare the machinations behind a government that is still hostile to the poor and produce perpetual war, could use more people like King who saw silence as a betrayal.
-Dennis Trainor, Jr.