Friday, April 29, 2011

Obama: Words vs. Reality

"Why don't we close Guantanamo and restore the right of habeas corpus, because that's how we lead, not with the might of our military, but the power of our ideals and the power of our values. It's time to show the world we're not a country that ships prisoners in the dead of night to be tortured in far off countries. We're not a country that runs prisons which locks people away without ever telling them why they're there or what they're charged with. We're not a country which preaches compassion to others while we allow bodies to float down the streets of major American cities. That's not who we are."
--Barack Obama, 2008 campaign

That was the fake Obama back during the campaign.

The reality of course is that Obama has not only kept Gitmo open and operating, but he's since issued an executive order (March, 2011), which firmly makes both infinite military detention of anyone the military doesn't like, as well as Gitmo itself, permanent features of American 'freedom' and 'democracy'.

President Obama yesterday signed an Executive Order which, as The Washington Post described it, "will create a formal system of indefinite detention for those held at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay" and "all but cements Guantanamo Bay's continuing role in U.S. counterterrorism policy." The Order -- which codifies a system of charge-free indefinite detention and military commissions once ostensibly scorned by Democrats

Glenn Greenwald, Salon

For those who paid attention in history classes, you'll know that the American Declaration of Independence listed a long series of examples of the tyranny of the British King against which they were rebelling. Do some of these sound familiar?

  • He has made Judges dependent on his Will alone for the tenure of their offices, and the amount and payment of their salaries. (sounds like a military 'court' to me, since every military officer is dependent on the President for promotion).
  • He has erected a multitude of New Offices, and sent hither swarms of Officers to harass our people and eat out their substance.
  • He has affected to render the Military independent of and superior to the Civil Power.
  • For quartering large bodies of armed troops among us:
  • For protecting them, by a mock Trial from punishment for any Murders which they should commit on the Inhabitants of these States:
  • For depriving us in many cases, of the benefit of Trial by Jury:
  • For transporting us beyond Seas to be tried for pretended offences:
  • He has plundered our seas, ravaged our coasts, burnt our towns, and destroyed the lives of our people.
  • He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.

Sorry to tell everyone the bad news, but we Patriots LOST the American revolution. Oh, it might have looked like we won at first. But in the long run, the Torries obviously won. Because we now have a government that acts just like the one the Torries wanted. And we have a President who's repeating the abuses of King George III.

Glenn Greenwald, a U.S. constitutional lawyer and blogger, says that these new WikiLeaks documents "conclusively underscore the evils" of the Obama executive order: "The idea of trusting the government to imprison people for life based on secret, untested evidence never reviewed by a court should repel any decent or minimally rational person, but these newly released files demonstrate how warped is this indefinite detention policy specifically."
WikiLeaks Files Reveal Failures of US Intelligence

Well, it repelled our Founding Fathers enough for them to pledge their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to stop it. But, for today's Tory Americans, apparently its just fine and dandy.

My guess is that seismologists in Virginia have had to detune their seismographs because otherwise they were constantly picking up the vibrations from Thomas Jefferson turning in his grave.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Deliberate Losers

There's something horribly wrong with a political movement that deliberately makes losing elections its goal.

In America, everything depends on political power. And political power comes from being able to win elections, or at the very least otherwise influence the outcome of elections. Nothing else matters. That's why money rules today. Because every professional politician is convinced that money, and the power to buy lots of TV ads with that money, is the key to winning elections. Every politician wants to win. Every politician thinks money is the sure way to win. Every politician does whatever they have to do to get access to that money.

Meanwhile, the left works to make sure it loses. The left works very hard to make sure it can't even influence the outcome of a campaign. The latest example of this comes from Mr. Nader.

Ralph Nader: Pressure Obama with primary

OK, from just the headline, that's a very good idea. The left should of course be challenging a sitting president who's policies are basically those of Ronald Reagan. The Democratic primaries are a place to do this. Of course the majority of the Democratic party that's to the left of Obama and Reagan should indeed be fighting in the Democratic primaries.

But, then you get to the details. This is where you see once again the left taking the political action of picking up a gun and aiming at its own feet.

Nader told POLITICO on Wednesday that he is working on bringing together about half a dozen presidential candidates who could “dramatically expand a robust discussion within the Democratic Party and among progressive voters across the country.” Each would focus on a specific issue where the far left says Obama hasn’t done enough, including the environment, labor and health care.

Read more:

Beating Obama in a primary with a strong, unified campaign of all of us who are left of Reagan would be a huge challenge. Splitting the vote between six opposition candidates would of course make it certain that the left would lose.

This is what passes for useless strategy from the left. They want to make a statement. They want a chance to get up on some stage and make strong statements about some cause. The problem is, that by deliberately setting up a strategy that signals an intention to lose from day one, what really happens is that every thing these Democrats say they oppose will be certain to occur.

This is anti-war activists once again trying to find a way to be certain to elect a pro-war President.

This is single-payer health care advocates once again trying to find a way to elect a President who's main concern is the profit margins of health insurance corporations.

This is privacy and human rights advocates once again trying to find a way to elect a President who believes in spying on Americans and even assassinating Americans by executive fiat.

Its a common refrain of mine that I judge Democrats on actions, not words. Well, the same has to go for the anti-war left. This is a proposal for the certain defeat of every cause we hold dear in the next election. This is a proposal for no change at all. That rule by Wall Street and war after war after war is just fine and dandy and exactly what we are looking for. That's the 'actions' that come from this proposal. The proposal would spark a lot of fine words in Democratic debates that no one watches anyways. But, the action that it would guarantee is the re-election of this pro-war Democratic President, and the continuation of rule by Wall Street and more and more war, death and destruction as America launches war after war upon the world.

At some point, the left needs to just stand up and fight for what it believes in. Until that happens, nothing will change. As much as I've admired Mr. Nader in the past, this proposal is a guarantee that nothing will change in this next election either.

There seems to be one political force that could possibly challenge today's political power of money. That's a massive grassroots political campaign. Replace money power with people power. The question is, does having a group of candidates run hopeless campaigns that are designed from the beginning to make sure they lose to Obama make that happen? Can't see how. Will you spend night after night after work going door to door for a candidate that's certain to lose? Are campaigns that exist only to get some politician on stage 'talking about issues' going to create this grassroots surge? Has the left's problem been a lack of talking? Not likely the way leftists like to talk. :)

When will the left get serious about politics in this country? Deliberately structuring the left's campaigns to lose to the corporate Democrats is not the way to do it.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Did Obama's Election Kill the Antiwar Movement?

Did Obama's Election Kill the Antiwar Movement?

"As president, Obama has maintained the occupation of Iraq and escalated the war in Afghanistan," said Heaney, U-M assistant professor of organizational studies and political science. "The antiwar movement should have been furious at Obama's 'betrayal' and reinvigorated its protest activity.
"Instead, attendance at antiwar rallies declined precipitously and financial resources available to the movement have dissipated. The election of Obama appeared to be a demobilizing force on the antiwar movement, even in the face of his pro-war decisions."

Duh, who could have foreseen that having the 'anti-war movement' go out and campaign for the candidate backed by wall street millions, the same candidate who was advocating expanding the military, raising the defense budget and calling the war in Afghanistan the 'right war' and criticizing Bush for not being bloody enough in pursuing it ... who could have foreseen that this would harm the anti-war movement in the long term?

The energies of the anti-war movement were co-opted into electing a very pro-war candidate. Apparently, according to this study, this was fine with many of the participants of the anti-war movement since they were more anti-Republican than anti-war. Supporting a pro-war Democrat and supporting today's Democratic wars is apparently not a problem when the main issue was always that they just hated the Republicans.

And unfortunately, most of today's anti-war rumblings from the Republican side of the fence are likely to be equally ephemeral. Again, the main problem the Republicans probably have with todays wars is that they are run by a Democrat.

And of course, all of this has massively discredited the existing anti-war organizations and leadership. After all, the antiwar organizations that have massively supported this pro-war Democrat and these Democratic wars, by their silence if by no other means, have to be seriously discredited. They complain that donations have dropped. This undoubtably refers to the big corporate Democrat donors who have become less interested in opposing wars in an era of Democratic wars, but for me, I know I laugh when any of these organizations ask me for money now that they revealed themselves to be far more anti-Republican than anti-war.

Me, I'm one of those third party radicals who oppose the war no matter whether its a (R)-war or a (D)-war. All war is abhorrent. Hopefully, more people are joining me. If you are frustrated that your loyalty and votes for Democrats haven't ended these wars, then perhaps its time for you to move on past being a Democrat. And, undoubtably, in the next decade we'll see a similar chance at a learning experience from the Republican side, as the Republicans will eventually regain power, and the supporters of today's outsider Republicans who are complaining about the wars will be equally shocked at how pro-war their heroes and most of their fellow traveling Republicans become when the wars once again become (R)-wars.

Both parties are really pro-war. Both parties will lie about being against war, or against nation-building, or against international entanglements, whenever its convenient for their efforts to gain votes and power. But, neither party opposes war. Neither party has historically. Despite all the Republican rhetoric about the peace-niks in the Democratic party, the Democratic Party was only anti-war for a couple of years around the time of the popular rebellion against the Democratic leadership that marked the McGovern nomination in 1972. The party regulars then soon regained power, and when they did they did two things. They restored the pro-war stance of the Democratic party, and they changed the rules of the Democratic party to try to make sure McGovern never happened again, and that the Democratic party would never be anti-war again.

And oh yeah, back in the 1860's the Democrats were opposed to the US Civil War, mainly because they were the party of the southern slave holders. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any time the Republicans were anti-war. As close as they came was apparently the opposition of people like Lindbergh against the US trying to stop Hitler. Then again, the Republicans of the day hated the three time winner Roosevelt at least as viruntly as modern day Republicans hate Obama. So, maybe that was more of a hate-Roosevelt anti-war movement than the Republicans being totally pro-Hitler. At least one would hope that was the case.

To push an anti-war position in American politics, it is necessary to move beyond the traditional parties. The only place where consistent anti-war positions and candidates can be found is outside the traditional parties.

To all the Obama voters who pretend they were fooled by voting for their openly pro-war, pro-military spending candidate who was backed by millions of wall street dollars, well, don't blame me, I voted for McKinney. There were true anti-war candidates on the ballot last time. Maybe too many to allow for a concentration of effort and votes to see how strong we really. But, Obama was clearly a pro-war choice, and there were anti-war choices on the ballot.

Why is everyone surprised that voting for the pro-war Obama candidate has not worked out well for the anti-war movement?