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Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons
Artwork/Political Cartoons

I. GLOBAL WAR on TERROR (GWoT):  D+ [Forget the rebranding; Obama has continued Bush’s strategically and morally bankrupt policy that fuels terrorism and global instability while cementing the worst of the Bush/Cheney legacy: the assault on civil liberties, press freedom, and human rights; the global, lawless, borderless and open-ended wars; and an imperial government that routinely kills civilians and deploys drones, private armies, and “special” operations in 75 nations – 15 more than when Obama took office1]

1. GWoT Strategy:  F [“AF-PAK” has been a catastrophe.  Elevating Gen. McChrystal (the shepherd of Rumsfeld’s lie to the Tillman family; infamous for the torture practiced at Camp Cropper in Iraq), was a predictable disaster; the violence in Afghanistan is at record levels, for both Afghan civilians and allied forces; our warlord, drug-lord, corrupt and extremist Afghan “partners” have provided one setback after another; the Taliban’s influence and territory in Afghanistan have only grown; in Pakistan, per the Brookings Institution, U.S. drones are killing TEN civilians to every ONE militant, destabilizing the government and alienating the population of a crucial ally (59% of Pakistanis see the U.S. as an “enemy” per a recent Pew poll); America continues to directly and indirectly finance the Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan (well into the hundreds of millions of dollars over the post-9/11 period); our support of dictatorial and brutal regimes and our failure to lead any credible peace initiative in the Middle East fuels extremism in the region; our counterproductive wars play into Osama bin Laden’s articulated strategy to lure America into quagmires that make us hated and drain our treasury (meanwhile our domestic problems grow), until we eventually collapse like the U.S.S.R.

As a side note, our activities in Somalia and Yemen are similarly counterproductive – antidemocratic and short-sighted; and our accounting of GWoT expenditures remains atrocious.]

2. GWoT Posture/Rhetoric:  C- [Although Obama has been far more image than substance on this front, the improvement over his predecessor is appreciable.  It meant something to the Muslim world when Obama (in his Cairo “New Beginning” speech) referred to the 1953 CIA-orchestrated coup in Iran.  Various other olive branches have had some ameliorative effect on America’s relationships and standing in the world.  Furthermore, despite all of Obama’s belligerent posturing (including his assertion of the “nuclear first strike” option, with regard to Iran and North Korea, and his justification for war while accepting the Nobel Peace Prize2), there is a real sense that the NeoConservatives have a reduced voice in this administration, and that America is less inclined to launch a major attack on another nation at a moment’s notice (faint praise, I realize).  Nonetheless, much of the more positive rhetoric is undermined by America’s continued support for various Middle Eastern dictators and refusal to apply the same standard to state and non-state actors, especially with regard to its primary ally in the region, Israel – even in the wake of the Goldstone report, exposing war crimes (on both sides) in “Operation Cast Lead” or following the Israeli attack on civilian ships carrying aid to Gaza, killing several peace activists including an American citizen.] 

3. GWoT vs. Civil Liberties and Rule of Law:  F [Another Bush debacle embraced, continued, and worsened by Obama.  Along with hyper-secrecy and blanket assertions of official immunity, the president has taken Bush’s evisceration of habeas corpus and the Bill of Rights to new depths, asserting that he has the right to:  continue gathering and hoarding the electronic records of Americans; assassinate an American citizen without any due process; bar an American citizen, uncharged with any crime, from entry into the U.S.3; detain individuals indefinitely without ever charging them with a crime; and kidnap individuals and whisk them off to nations where they are likely to be detained and tortured by American proxies.  He has kept the prison at Guantanamo open (and several detention centers in Afghanistan); he has jailed American soldier Bradley Manning in harsh conditions for more than half a year; he has persecuted government whistleblowers and threatened journalists like no president before him (Vice President Biden was not rebuked for calling Julian Assange a “terrorist”).  Obama has done these things while winking at (and illegally protecting4) crimes committed by Bush officials who authorized torture and corporate criminals, from civilian-slaughtering Blackwater (Xe) to Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Wall Street gang.  In keeping with Bush’s policy of deploying private contractors to police American citizens during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Obama has deployed the U.S. military to prevent journalists from reporting on the scope of the BP oil spill5 – both violations of at least the spirit of posse comitatus (the centuries-old tradition that prohibits the U.S. government from deploying the military against our civilian population).  Furthermore, Obama has continued asserting that a nuclear strike against Iran or North Korea remains “on the table” (a violation of the U.N. Charter) and extended legitimacy to coups in Honduras, Palestine, and Haiti.  Domestically, he has championed the reauthorization of the PATRIOT ACT, with no prescription for curbing the law’s abuses (particularly with regard to the FBI’s infiltration of peace groups6, abuse of national security letters, and entrapment approach to combating “terrorists” – talking disaffected young Muslims into going along with terrorist plots that originate entirely with the U.S. government).]

II. IRAQ:  D [Obama has simply continued the Bush policy, a recipe for future unrest in that U.S.-demolished and fractured country.  While he has continued to drawdown troops (per the SoFA that Bush negotiated with the IUG), Obama has lied about the true status of our remaining troops, declaring that all “combat troops” have left, when they’ve simply been reclassified as “non-combat” troops.  Obama has continued to ignore the causes of Iraq’s ongoing sectarian violence while forwarding Bush’s plans for a permanent, largely military U.S. presence in Iraq, with huge bases in Baghdad, Basra, Mosul, Kirkuk, and Kurdistan, guarded by American military forces and some 8,000 mercenaries, including employees of Blackwater/Xe (despite the Iraqis’ repeated efforts to expel that company from their supposedly sovereign nation).  Obama continues to champion the least representative Iraqis (the Supreme Council which is an Iranian creation, and the overrepresented Kurds, because they share America’s interest in a divided Iraq); while pushing the Iraqis to authorize an extension to our military presence and sign a “Hydrocarbons Law” that gives Western oil companies control of Iraq’s most valuable resource over the next 20-35 years.  In short, thanks to Obama, the U.S. is still in denial about Iraq, still trying to “collect our winnings” while pretending we have not worn out our welcome – still backing barely-representative former exiles over genuinely popular leaders like Moqtada al-Sadr (a less than perfect leader who has been comically vilified in the American press and blamed for the worst crimes of some of our best Iraqi “partners,” the Supreme Council and their “reformed” Badr Brigades).  The debacle continues, with no change in America’s privatization demands or its approach to ethno-sectarian divisions in the country.]

III. CODE PINK comment/instruction

As a peacemaker, President Obama has been an enormous disappointment.

From our perspective, President Bush’s response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, was entirely wrongheaded, from the PATRIOT ACT and the illegal mass-wiretapping of American citizens to the criminal invasions and barbaric militarism that ensued, with its collateral damage, kidnappings, and institutionalized torture. 

Americans voted overwhelmingly in 2006 and 2008 to reject the policies and values of George W. Bush, especially his failed wars and unrelenting assault on the rule of law. 

Tragically, President Obama has wasted (with extreme prejudice) an ENORMOUS mandate for real CHANGE, starting with his opportunity to end the Global War on Terror.  With the American public clamoring for de-escalation of Bush’s wars and a return to Constitutional norms (repudiating the torture-condoning legal arguments of Yoo, Addington, Cheney, and co.), Obama chose to continue those wars – escalating them in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and the Horn of Africa.  He continued making claims of Executive authority consistent with President Bush’s Unitary Executive assertions (Bush’s position that Nixon was basically correct when he claimed that “when the president does it, that means that it is not illegal!”). 

Worst of all, Obama has demonstrated himself to be a believer in Dick Cheney’s version of Executive Power.  He has continued the practice of abusing Presidential Signing Statements, suggesting that the President is exempt from even the laws he signs into existence!  Obama has continued to shroud the government’s illegal actions in official secrecy, waging a war on responsible journalism and legal systems everywhere in order to continue kidnapping, torturing, and violating the civil and human rights of citizens and non-citizens alike… all the while playing right into bin Laden’s hands, reading from the script our enemy has written for us.

FOOTNOTES:

1 David Swanson:  “State of Our Union:  War Rages On, Dissent is Repressed. We Need to Bring Our War Dollars Home and Invest in Rebuilding America”

2 Swanson

3 Swanson

4 Swanson

5 Swanson

6 Swanson

When competing ideologies are apparently irreconcilable and political expression is increasingly toxic (as in the current environment), there is only one sane response: informed, rational, cool-headed PRAGMATISM.

IF ONLY an American leader would emerge and make the case for proven solutions!

Using Prof. Krugman‘s example of the abortion debate: The “pro-life” and “pro-choice” factions will NEVER agree on the question of abortion’s legality/morality. Yet there is widespread agreement on the desirability of reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies and abortions in America.

I have spent the past two decades wishing that some Solomon-like politician would simply present the case for dramatically reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies in this country using proven methods: sex education and universal health care.

Implementation of such solutions would reduce the frequency of abortion to a mere fraction of the current frighteningly high rate (some 1 in 4 American women have an abortion at some point in their lives; a disgrace in our wealthy nation).

Similarly, I would love to see President Obama (or some centrist Republican) make the clear case — based on innumerable historical and global examples — that neglecting the least fortunate in our society will ultimately destroy our economy.

Just as America has been well served by the enforcement of minimal labor and environmental standards, it is also in our best interest to treat and prevent societal ills before they metastasize… lest we devolve into the Third World kleptocratic and anarchic state we increasingly resemble (after decades of massive privatization and deregulation).

Leave ideology out of it! No single ideology will ever “prevail” — and everyone is entitled to his/her opinion. We need to revive America’s capacity for logic and reason (the forces of unbridled greed have nearly reduced us to two tribes of unthinking animals — divided and nearly conquered — but it’s not too late!).

The Bush-Obama years have alerted Americans that our way of life and prosperity are threatened. Americans are ready to listen to a true voice of hope… hope we can truly believe in (not some mere slogan).

It’s time to have an adult discussion about WHAT WORKS, instead of continuing to pursue utterly failed policies like border walls, torture, spying on our citizens, drone assassinations, and illegal wars — not to mention the willy-nilly criminalization of everything from abortion to soft drugs to muckraking journalism to radical expression (Islamic or otherwise).

Such policies have demolished America’s moral credibility in the world while nearly bankrupting us and more than doubling our prison population — making us #1 in the world for incarcerating our own citizens… meanwhile we neglect to educate our citizens and provide each and every American with basic health care and services; a sure path to the bottom.

[SUBJECT] Contributing to Obama and the Democrats…

…is something I can no longer do, in good conscience.  Obama’s foreign and domestic policies largely represent continuity from his predecessor (or worse, such as the president’s assertion of the right to execute American citizens without a shred of due process). 

I did not canvas neighborhoods in Missouri, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. and donate hundreds of dollars to elect this corporatist party — and yet that is what I have received for my efforts: a “Democratic” party that scorns progressive values and fights its base, tooth and nail, to advance GWB-style conservatism: tax cuts for millionaires and hikes for 40 million low-income Americans; millions illegally foreclosed upon; Mitt Romney’s health care “reform;” persecution of journalists (Assange) and whistleblowers; and a wholeheartedly NeoConservative foreign policy, continuing the policies that erode civil liberties at home and create terrorists at home and abroad. 
 
It would be easier to take if I had seen this president fight — just once — on the side of liberals, instead of against us (such as when the Public Option was clearly within reach; or reform of the financial industry’s fraudulent, plundering practices). 

I will never make the same mistake again. 
 
I am presently devoting all my efforts to persuading progressives to abandon these Wall St-first Democrats and seek a LIBERAL standard bearer to support in the next election.  I hope that you who are reading this will consider my arguments (www.invitation2artivism.com) and join my cause.  In the coming months, I will explain my strategy for dealing the corporate-duopoly (Rs and Ds) a major setback and making progressives (and true conservatives) relevant again.
 
Thank you,
James O’Donnell III
 
P.S. And now, regrettably, I must unsubscribe from your service.

To the Tea Party and Republicans:

The violence you seek to dismiss as “random” is anything but. Please consider the possibility that you are supporting a genuinely fascist movement, ascendant in America since at least 9/11.

Please understand that I’m not trying to insult you; both Republicans and Democrats have led us to this frightening place (Republicans with their demagoguery; and Democrats with their cowardice).

Besides which, the term “fascism” should never be used as a bludgeon, simply to silence those with whom we disagree. It has a specific meaning derived from its historical context: Italy under Mussolini; Germany under Hitler; Spain under Franco. Those regimes were distinguished by the following characteristics:

— Aggressive nationalism, waging foreign wars and aggression;
— Populism based on identity politics, demonizing minorities (based on race, religion, sexuality);
— Hostility toward liberalism, communism, labor unions, artists, and intellectuals;
— Corporatism that merges the interests of the state with those of big business;
— The culture of victimhood, stoking xenophobia and resentment in the majority;
— Acceptance of state violence, including torture and executions; and
— Intolerance of dissenting views — the end of civil discourse.

 

Many of us have understood for years that America is devolving into a fascist state (Naomi Wolf has written an excellent book on the subject).

We watched in horror as George W. Bush embraced the methods and rhetoric of fascism, from his political purges at the Justice Department and expert manipulation of the media, all the way down to his employment of the Nazi’s preferred euphemism, “enhanced interrogation techniques,” to refer to institutionalized TORTURE.

Obama has simply continued the Bush policies. A corporatist lackey like his predecessor, he could not be further from a “Leftist” or “Socialist” — and the people who routinely label him such are simply demonizing him to push him even further to the right.

Such pundits and politicians are not your advocates. Posturing aside, they demonstrate nothing but contempt for the Constitution, habeas corpus, civil rights, and America’s traditional values.

They constantly tell us WHO TO BLAME for the damage wrought to our economy and society, and HOW THREATENED our traditions and values are…

They blame immigrants, gays, progressives, minorities, intellectuals (anyone but the true power elite: the mega-banks and speculators who plundered the world’s economy; oil companies that prop up dictators and extremists like the House of Saud; health-related industries with their actual death panels; telecommunications giants that marginalize dissent out of existence; the military-industrial complex that makes America hated and feared in the world; and so on.

Raised in Arizona, I consider myself a socially-liberal conservative with libertarian tendencies. PLEASE trust me that I have labored long and hard, putting facts before ideology, to understand the forces that are threatening our future.

It isn’t “Liberalism” that’s destroying America (NIXON was more liberal than Obama). It is the 30-year assault on the middle class and the massive transfer of wealth to the top 1%, led by “free-trading” outsourcers (slavers) and faux-conservatives in both political parties, stripping away the regulations that once protected Capitalism and helped our markets run smoothly.

No self-respecting American should even consider voting for an establishment Republican or Democrat in this environment.

The dogs of fascism (using Orwell’s metaphor), railing against “the other” and inciting hate and fear — “birther” conspiracies and “death panel” foolishness — are America’s REAL enemies. They use the language of violent revolt and draw rifle-sights over their political opponents, urging us to hate and distrust our neighbors (“divide and conquer” is their mantra).

Like my father the veteran (and dozens of other old-school conservatives I respect) most center-right Americans are better than these creeps. They should not buy into their cheap, ugly worldview (for there is no “War on Christmas”). These fearmongers are our enemies — not the “straw man” liberals they invent. They would incite us to turn this great country into an anarchic state where political violence is common and free discourse is nonexistent.

If we don’t resist them, they will continue to steal elections (Florida 2000 and Ohio 2004); intimidate open debate (town halls in 2010); drain our national wealth (forests, oceans, mountains, and lakes); and squelch competition and the free market (subsidizing corporate giants at the expense of small businesses).

I beg you to consider alternative views. Read Thomas Franks’ What’s the Matter with Kansas?, Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine, or Noam Chomsky’s Hegemony or Survival. Listen to Amy Goodman’s DemocracyNow! It turns out that the marginalized folks have gotten it right for years — on WMD lies, Wall Street bailouts, “free” trade pacts, cap & trade schemes, and more.

Stop passively accepting the cheap, seductive lies of the new “conservatives.” They are, quite simply, the proponents of a new American fascism, and we must stop them.

Today, MoveOn.org tried to get me worked up about the fact that Maine’s rabid new governor wants to tell Obama to “go to hell!” So what? Most progressives should be echoing him!

On the political front, this is my most urgent plea: THE LEFT SHOULD TELL OBAMA AND THE DEMOCRATS (ASAP) THAT WE ARE THROUGH WITH THEM, JUST AS THE RIGHT SHOULD BE GIVING THE REPUBLICANS PRECISELY THE SAME MESSAGE.

2010’s MIDTERM ELECTION SHOULD GO DOWN IN HISTORY AS THE LAST ELECTION DICTATED BY THE TWO-HEADED HYDRA OF THIS ANTI-AMERICAN CORPORATIST DUOPOLY.

THE ESTABLISHMENT (“Left” and “Right”) IS OUR SHARED ENEMY, BEHIND THE ASSAULT ON OUR CONSTITUTION and THE MASSIVE TRANSFER OF WEALTH TO THE TOP 1%.

Reality: Although the “Tea Party” was largely the creation of the corporate media, there is a genuine conservative outrage in the nation that Obama and the Democrats spurned their mandate and continued Bush’s transformation of America into a corporatist state: rewarding Wall St. fraud with the increasingly broken spine of the middle class (pension funds defrauded, millions illegally evicted from their homes, hundreds of thousands of public workers laid off); letting PhRMA and AHIP write the insurance “reform” law; expanding terrorist wars that benefit extremists and kill women and children with globally-deployed drones (at a 10:1 ratio, civs:militants, per the conservative Brookings Institute); and persecuting honest journalists, liberals, Muslims, and labor unions.

Believe it or not, many non-establishment conservatives (REAL conservatives) across the country share progressives’ disappointment on these issues! They don’t like the Wall St. bailout, National RomneyCare, or the war in Afghanistan any more than we do! They want to see the Federal Reserve audited — WE SHOULD JOIN THEM ON THESE FRONTS!

Consider where Bush and Obama have led us: It is now “okay” in America (not even worthy of discussion in the corporate media) that the President can order the assassination of an American citizen with NO due process, whatsoever. Right now, OBAMA is jailing and torturing an American soldier, Bradley Manning, who has not even been charged with a crime (seven months of solitary, involuntary drugging, and no exercise are reportedly having a devastating effect on this young man — a HERO if he is “guilty” of leaking America’s least classified documents and trying to shake-up a journalistic establishment that is still “selling WMD lies,” in one form or another — like the current nonsensical clamor for “austerity” — sacrificing the economy of the many, to create the economy for the few).

Conservative outrage is not misplaced (no matter how foolish Tea Party types appear, spouting the empty and backwards “Socialism” and “Death Panels” rhetoric of corporate plants like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin).

If MoveOn had any sense, the organization would urge its members to give the Dems the finger and reach out to locally organized Tea Parties and other conservatives across the nation, RIGHT NOW (urging them to do likewise for the GOP).

TOGETHER we can pressure this “Bad Cop-Worse Cop” government to restore the Bill of Rights, end the wars, rebuild our infrastructure, and prosecute the Wall St. Criminals who pillaged our economy… or WE CAN REPLACE THEM.

YES, WE CAN.