No Cure For That
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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.

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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.