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.
Many are shaking their heads in disbelief that Sarah Palin would choose a term whose etymology is linked to the propaganda that ingrained the anti-Semitic lie in the minds of many that Jews drink the blood of Christian children during religious ceremonies. That Palin released her video statement just hours before President Obama spoke at a memorial service for the slaughtered victims of a political assassination attempt on a Jewish Congresswoman had many political pundits claiming that the Sarah Palin freak show had finally jumped the shark.
“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is it’s natural manure.”
One should wonder how much that quote, attributed to Thomas Jefferson (one of the most influential of the founding fathers held in such fetishized esteem high on an untouchable pedestal by the Tea Party Patriots) factored into the motivations of Jared Lee Loughner when he shot with the intention of killing Rep. Gabrielle Giffords.
Gifford’s office had dealt with threats of violence before, over the issue that gets the Randian Regressive Tea Party’s Colonial breeches in a bunch more than any other: health care reform.
Defenders of the Tea Party have distanced themselves from the Loughner shooting in an argument that can best be summed up with the four word sentence:
Loughner was crazy.
Anyone who has visited Loughner’s YouTube page and tried to parse his senseless syllogisms will come to the same conclusion. However, watching the Tea Party faithful circle the wagons to distance the hateful rhetoric they have been spewing with increasing volume these past several years from the act of a gunman who sought out an elected official that Sarah Palin had placed her crosshairs on is an exercise that brings to mind the proverbial phrase, popularized by William Shakespeare in Hamlet, Hoist with their own Petard.
Or is it?
Shakespeare’s meaning embodies an ironic justice wherein the creator of a weapon is then defeated by said weapon.
The question that should be part of the ongoing debate about the vitriol now endemic of right wing punditry and politics is this: does the right wing benefit politically from an environment where hate, fear, and violent rhetoric occasionally spills over into actual violence?
The clear answer is yes.
I am not suggesting any actual link between a right wing political organization and Jared Lee Loughner. No evidence at this stage in the game has surfaced to suggest anything of the sort.
However, when Jesse Kelly, the Tea Partier who ran against Giffords in 2010, held a gun-themed fundraiser and advertised it with an ad that said read "Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office, shoot a fully automatic M-16 with Jesse Kelly" do you think that high level Right wing political strategists were wincing or cheering behind closed doors as they analyzed the political expediency of a candidate for Congress in a State with some of the most lax gun laws in the world whipping up his followers by placing the words “remove Giffords from office” and “shoot a fully automatic M-16” in the same sentence?
When grown men stating showing up at town hall meetings attended by the President of the Unites States with signs that read, “We came Unarmed, this time!” Was that a plus or a minus in the political momentum that lead to the Republicans taking back seats in the midterm election?
Or how about when someone actually did show up to a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire that the President of the United States was speaking at with a handgun strapped to his leg to leg while carrying a sign referencing the Thomas Jefferson quote I spoke of earlier. That man with the gun held a sign that read, “It is time to water the tree of liberty.”
Finally, with this as a backdrop, and responding to the justified criticism of the Tea Party, Sarah Palin upped the ante with her famous call to arms: “Commonsense Conservatives and lovers of America: Don't retreat, Instead -- RELOAD!"
Again, do you think Republican strategists – in their private thoughts and meetings, thought all of this a poor strategy?
The answer clearly, is no.
Add all of these things up, and it leads to an environment that benefits the political aspirations of the far right wing lunatic fringe in this country. Evidence of this can be seen in the 2010 election, and further evidence will be found as the right wing pundits and behind the scenes strategists dance the delicate dance of fanning the flames of fear and hatred behind the scenes, while distancing themselves from real life political assassinations in public.
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