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In defense of Obama

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From http://www.flickr.com/photos/16501075@N00/9656914272/: Independence Day
Independence Day by alexxis


It is fashionable for the radical left to describe President Obama as some kind of evil Bush clone. The consensus seems to be that he is personally dedicated to making sure that Sasha and Malia grow up in a world totally dominated by the kind of people who have always subjugated African-Americans and now treat all average Americans like second-class citizens. This simplistic way of looking at a man in a unique historical position should embarrass anyone who calls himself liberal. It resembles the black-and-white thinking style of Tea Party supporters.

Conservatives are having a more rational discussion of the flaws of the Obama administration than radical leftists, at least if you turn Fox off and tune into more respectable sources of conservative viewpoints. No, not Jonah Goldberg or Charles Krauthammer. Not pseudo-intellectual hack writers but genuine, thinking conservatives. The kind that pointy-headed liberals claim don't exist. You know, Americans who don't happen to agree with their basic philosophical assumptions. How do they expect to have a national discussion when they assume all conservatives are morons? They must think that even as a minority they will somehow force their views on people for whom they show contempt. The fact is, no one is going to hold the President and Congress responsible if we dismiss anyone who disagrees with us. We need to do it together, conservatives and liberals sending the same message about what we want and holding government to it. This could start with a broad-based opposition to attacking Syria.

Left-wing critics cite the fact of Obama's economic advisers being among those most responsible for the financial crisis, his promises to step up the Afghanistan War and drone bombings and his taking single payer off the table as evidence that he is totally "sold out" to corporate interests, especially the banksters. It is true that they contributed lavishly to his campaign, eventually dwarfing the amazing amount he raised from small donors. Do they think anyone could have gotten elected in 2008 without that money, let alone the post-Citizens United 2012 election? They also seem to have no idea what it takes to get anything done when you are President.

In fairness, the same criticism could be made of his unquestioning supporters. It is not enough to say that Republicans block every good thing he tried to do, so he needs to work on what is "politically possible." Nothing is possible if you don't try! He has ignored many critical issues or at best paid them lip service. A leader is supposed to persuade the People of what needs to be done to, such as addressing global climate change and establishing a rational foreign policy, two issues that are intimately related.  Of course, making this point is taboo in a political system dominated by neocons and neoliberals whose basic policies on these issues differ only in details. Republicans and Democrats do argue about whether it is good for the economy to use tax money to create jobs and whether the social safety net should be only damaged or destroyed, but these differences won't save a fundamentally flawed economy that is only going to get worse if banksters aren't brought to justice and the Trans Pacific Partnership becomes a reality.

If you aren't too angry to read on, please bear with me. I am on your side.

Representative democracy depends on citizens having a respectful conversation. Only when we can demonstrate consensus can we legitimately talk about "the will of the People," let alone "the 99%."  If we continue to divide ourselves and blame "the other side" for all the problems, Congress and the White House will continue to do as they please, regardless of poll data showing that a great majority of Americans agree on critically important issues that Congress and the President ignore for fear they will lose favor with those to whom they feel they owe their offices. They tell themselves they have no choice: they must compromise so that they can "serve the People" the best they can in a system completely corrupted by special interest money.

Today, Americans should look at President Obama's record in a whole new light. Not as all good or all bad, but judged by the standard of what may be the only viable way for the President to get in a position to "be the change that Americans need."  On Saturday, he reversed himself (okay, with equivocation) and insisted that Congress weigh in on the decision to intervene directly in Syria. That was not in the plan that Obama's handlers had. Judging from the recommendations of his national security advisers, that plan hasn't changed. They are clearly still calling for an action that would have made Bush blush. Indirect support of the al Qaeda-dominated "Free Syrian Army" will fail to topple the dictator-du-jour.  

The insane rush to war at the risk of sparking WW III may have been too much for the normally compliant President known for "leading from behind." He might have real doubts. He might have had them even before escalating the war in Afghanistan and agreeing to take part in the illegal assault of Libya. How can anyone know what is in a man's heart? Those who assume he always lies about his intent do not seem to consider that he feels compelled to act as he does because he cannot do otherwise without the people behind him, unless he wants to risk the fate of JFK.

Obama has never admitted that Assad was carefully selected based on the fact that his country is inconveniently situated between Iran and its European market, but he didn't write the script he was following. It was based on a plan developed over the years in think tanks funded by corporations that stood to benefit from control of oil and gas supplies in the Mideast and from the wars that would be essential to securing that control. The object of the plan is to assure that US-based energy interests will dominate the Mideast supply by cutting off a proposed pipeline from gas-rich fields in Iran and off the Syrian coast to Europe in a deal that would benefit Russia. And people say that Putin is just a hardass with a jones to give the US a hard time!

I guess that might be true, if you assume that American interests are synonymous with the profits of transnational oil companies, weapons manufacturers, private Armies, connected firms like Halliburton and Bechtel and God knows how many companies with extensive Pentagon and CIA connections. That's why they call it the military-industrial complex, after all. Their interests are not consistent with those of us who foot the bills for these wars, subsidies to oil companies and massive corporate welfare to all the other war pigs with their snouts in the government trough.  We have to start pointing that out every time we hear the phrase "American interests" used that way.

When I was a little kid, people were convinced the commies were gonna kill us if we didn't let the CIA do whatever it wanted without telling us. Kennedy became a threat to the Security State that served the military-industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about. In secretly negotiating with Khrushchev, ordering a withdrawal from Vietnam and announcing he intended to work toward ending the Cold War, he signed his own death warrant. Don't believe it?  In 1977, the House Select Committee on Assassinations concluded that he was killed as a result of a conspiracy, one that remains uninvestigated.

The cover up included the classification of thousands of key documents that were never released to the Warren Commission and that remained classified after 50 years. Obama refused to declassify them this year, as called for by an act of Congress after the murder.  Who can blame him? Who knows what his handlers would do if he let the public know that the people who killed Kennedy for trying to make peace still have influence to this day. Why else would Kissinger, the architect of the war Kennedy tried to stop, be chosen to head the 9/11 Commission? Thank goodness Special K was reluctant to reveal the clients who "consulted," with him, or there might have been another whitewash, right?

Everyone has a theory about why Obama amazed the world by asking Congress to do its duty and determine whether or not we should commit a premeditated act of war on a country that had not attacked us.  All of them seem to assume the worst of Obama's intentions. None acknowledge the very real danger of straying too far from the script. They fail to account for the fact that a hostage cannot simply announce he is ready to join in an attack on his captors when they have a gun pointed at his head.

Why don't we assume for the sake of hope for our future that the President may be simply waiting for the American people to make him "be the change" we need? After all, he told us in 2008 that we would have to be the change we want. Obama's willingness to encourage discussion of reversing the US policy of preemptive war at the whim of the President might just make this possible. The protests against the latest illegal war may have provided him cover. The corporatocracy does not fear the power of Presidents. It fears the power of a People united.

Now that the question will go before Congress, Americans must stand together to demand an end to neocon plans for world domination, with which neoliberals have conspired. The people of the UK have spoken through their Parliament. Now it is our turn. We need to build on the momentum of the anti-intervention movement to get people to realize that the "War on Terror" is really a war on democracy and national self-determination. We have all the ammunition that we need. The truth is even out in the mainstream press. It is easily extracted from the lies once we abandon the assumption that our government will not blatantly lie to us. Only a fool can still believe that, and most of them appear to be in Congress. It's our job to remind them of the wise saying "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice"..uh, we can't get fooled again."

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I am a former Army and VA psychiatrist who ran for the US Senate in 2010 on a campaign based on a pledge to introduce a constitutional amendment to abolish corporate personhood. Now that the general public is beginning to understand the (more...)
 

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Yes, the author's heart is in the right place but ... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 11:15:18 AM
For some reason, the "reply" button is not functio... by Rick Staggenborg, MD on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 11:55:07 AM
At some point the President needs to stand up for ... by Richard Pietrasz on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 12:14:07 PM
The reply is as confusing as the article, IMO. ... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 12:33:50 PM
Thanks for helping me make clear the difference be... by Rick Staggenborg, MD on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 12:42:22 PM
When a person is tried in a criminal court, it is ... by Richard Pietrasz on Friday, Sep 6, 2013 at 4:58:34 PM
hope that flapping my arms would save me. I'd at l... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 12:46:46 PM
you should expect to be judged. If you run for Pre... by Daniel Geery on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 1:09:37 PM
Agree completely, as this author fails to distingu... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 1:24:53 PM
It seems pointless to argue with someone who compl... by Rick Staggenborg, MD on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 1:31:25 PM
3) You mischaracterize my argument as being that ... by Rick Staggenborg, MD on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 1:32:38 PM
5) The statement " it is thus logical to judge hi... by Rick Staggenborg, MD on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 1:34:00 PM
Thanks for the acknowledgement on ad hominem. &nbs... by Robert S. Becker on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 2:42:10 PM
I see this all the time amongst fellow liberals, s... by Michael Meredith on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 3:52:59 PM
Thanks for emphasizing the main thrust of the arti... by Rick Staggenborg, MD on Sunday, Sep 8, 2013 at 9:43:01 PM
as I experienced as a teacher seem to mostly follo... by Jim Miles on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 6:10:41 PM
"Left-wing critics cite the fact of Obama's econom... by Shireen Parsons on Wednesday, Sep 4, 2013 at 7:52:44 PM
Shireen, a delusion is a fixed belief that persist... by Rick Staggenborg, MD on Sunday, Sep 8, 2013 at 10:16:32 PM
black individuals.Glen Ford:  of Black Agenda... by Lester Shepherd on Thursday, Sep 5, 2013 at 10:17:31 AM
This shows the point I was trying to make, Lester.... by Rick Staggenborg, MD on Sunday, Sep 8, 2013 at 10:25:14 PM
All white presidents have been racists.  They... by Lester Shepherd on Monday, Sep 9, 2013 at 7:26:23 AM
Just because all US Presidents are racists does me... by Lester Shepherd on Monday, Sep 9, 2013 at 7:27:56 AM
something is surely correctOnly  we then do n... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Sep 5, 2013 at 3:52:42 PM
depend on the frameworks one brings to bear.  ... by Robert S. Becker on Thursday, Sep 5, 2013 at 4:42:04 PM
I think you are right here...On the other hand, I ... by Mark Sashine on Thursday, Sep 5, 2013 at 5:11:05 PM
I started in my first comment by assuming he has a... by Robert S. Becker on Thursday, Sep 5, 2013 at 6:37:37 PM