With the presidential elections approaching, there are those who argue, yet again, that whatever problems there are with the Democrats and Obama, the "alternative"—the Republicans—are much worse. So when it's all said and done, the argument goes, people who don't want the "right wing" to take over must fall in line behind Obama and the Democrats.
The reality is that in key ways, Obama as U.S. president has been even worse for the masses of people, in the U.S. and worldwide. This is a fact that can be clearly demonstrated. Here are six main ways that Obama has gone beyond Bush in fascistic, brutal, reactionary moves, in service of the ruling system of capitalism-imperialism.
1. Assassinations on the President's OrdersBefore becoming the president and commander-in-chief, Obama opposed the prison set up by George W. Bush at Guantánamo to indefinitely hold hundreds of people without charges, simply based on U.S. accusations of links with terrorism. Obama said then that "a perfectly innocent individual could be held and could not rebut the Government's case and has no way of proving his innocence."
Once in the White House, Obama has not only reaffirmed the policy of indefinite military detentions with the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act last December. He has actually gone further than Bush by claiming, and acting on, a supposed presidential authority to assassinate anyone, including those with U.S. citizenship, anywhere in the world just based on the presidential say-so that those targeted are "terrorists" and a danger to U.S. interests.
The world saw this outrageous policy in action last September when missiles fired from a U.S. drone hit a car driving across a desert in Yemen and killed seven men, including Anwar al-Awlaki. Awlaki, a U.S. citizen, was a spokesman for al-Qaeda. (Another man killed in the attack was also a U.S. citizen.) A few weeks later, another U.S. drone attack took the lives of al-Awlaki's 16-year-old son along with his 17-year-old friend. The U.S. claimed that al-Awlaki had a role in planning and directing al-Qaeda terrorist attacks—but refused to provide any evidence or present actual charges, and there was, of course, no trial. This was simply a cold-blooded "hit" ordered by the leading U.S. imperialist godfather.
According to news reports, there is a secret panel of government officials within the executive, part of the National Security Council, that discusses who to place on the kill list, with the president making the final decision. There is no public record of this process, no laws regulating it, no judicial review. In a March 5 speech, Attorney General Eric Holder made the ludicrous but chillingly fascist claim that this ultra-secret process inside the administration makes this executive assassination policy constitutional. As Leon Panetta, Obama's CIA chief, put it, "[The] President of the United States obviously reviews these cases, reviews the legal justification, and in the end says, go or no go."
For an in-depth analysis of this issue, see "Obama Administration: Judge, Jury, and Executioner."
2. Blaming Youth for Their Own OppressionIn a series of Father's Day speeches since coming into office, and in various other public remarks, Obama has consistently put the onus for the poverty, high prison rates, poor education, and the whole oppressive situation that Black and Latino youth face on the people themselves. Like Bill Cosby, Obama claims that the problem is "personal responsibility"—absentee fathers, youth with sagging pants, too much TV, and so on. Left totally out of this is the reality: how this system has devastated communities of the oppressed; left little "choice" for millions of youth except the underground economy or the military; targeted young men with "stop and frisk" racial profiling and outright police murder; and thrown millions into prisons, many for minor drug violations.
And at the core of this message is the revival and strengthening of the patriarchal family, with the father at the head and acting as "role model." In a sick "joke" at a 2010 White House dinner, Obama combined his reactionary push for patriarchy with the broadening war of drones. Addressing the members of the pop band Jonas Brothers who were in attendance, and referring to his two daughters, Obama said, "Sasha and Malia are huge fans but, boys, don't get any ideas. Two words for you: Predator drones. You will never see it coming."
As Carl Dix said in 2009 on the radio program Democracy Now! about Obama's message: "The people are being blamed—and who better than Barack Obama, the first Black president, to blame Black youth for their plight? If George Bush does it, people would say it's racist. But when the first Black president does it, it actually draws people into it."
That's just the first two. This is some fierce truth telling. Make a point to read the full list and great job Revolution!
And, at Black Agenda Report, Bruce A. Dixon also provides some truth telling:
We hear it all the time.... “Give the man a chance!” “He's only been president 38 months! it took Bush eight years to mess things up....” Or “He can't do nothin' cuz Republicans are blockin' everything...,” and most tellingly “He's the president --- he doesn't have a magic wand...”
Evasions and excuses like these are now the staple of black politics. Black America's political class, its learned and wise preachers, pundits and politicians counsel us in this, the age of the First Black President to “get realistic” by dialing back our expectations for economic democracy, by dropping our demands for peace and justice. After all, in the world of mature grown folks, expecting this or any president to crack down on greedy corporations and banksters, to stem the tide of foreclosures and evictions, to rein in health care costs, to refrain from starting predatory foreign wars in Asia and Africa, or to preserve Medicare and Social Security is just plain foolish. Democratic expectations, they say, are the provice of the socially immature, the politically unsophisticated.
The president himself has repeatedly deployed the “magic wand” line, both as defense and offense, as scornful mockery of those who believed his campaign promises to raise the minimum wage, to stand up to oil companies, and to walk a picket line. It ain't his fault. They should know better. One of his spokespeople suggested that those demanding those kind of promises be kept should be drug tested. That is the level of barely concealed contempt the president and the whole of the black political class have for the rest of us.
Make a point to share these with everyone you know, please. It's so rare we get truth.
BAR does hard hitting stuff every week, I know. But it's just like a one-two punch having both of those on the same day.
"Iraq snapshot" (The Common Ills):