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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 6/23/18

None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained

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From Counterpunch

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The road to total tyranny is littered with tests -- moments when those atop reigning oppression structures learn how far they can push the boundaries of decency without sparking potent people's resistance. One such moment when the demented jackass and imperialist butcher George W. Bush marched down a red carpet to screw up his evil, moronic face to announce the U.S. invasion of Iraq on openly false pretexts including the shamelessly idiotic claim that Saddam Hussein's government had been involved in the September 11, 2001 jetliner attacks, and the equally bogus charge that Iraq possessed a threatening stockpile of "weapons of mass destruction." The president and his team of Orwellian Neocon war pigs faced two days of mass protest across the country and around the world. Still, they were not deterred from launching a brazenly criminal invasion and occupation that would kill more than a million Iraqis, displace millions more, and devastate Iraq almost beyond recognition.

They got away with it. In a decent society, their crime would have sparked massive and prolonged civil disobedience and even revolution. They would have been prosecuted and jailed, perhaps even executed.

Six years later, the silver-tonged neoliberal Barack Obama would audaciously betray his claims to represent progressive "hope" and "change." He loaded his presidency with highly placed financial and corporate operatives who worked with him and other Washington politicians to bail out the very Wall Street parasites who had recklessly collapsed the U.S. economy. With Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress and an angry, "pitchfork"-wielding populace at the gates, an actually progressive President Obama could have rallied the populace to push back against the nation's concentrated wealth and power structures by moving ahead aggressively with a number of majority-backed policies: a stimulus with major public works jobs programs; a real (single-payer) health insurance reform; the serious disciplining and even break-up or nationalization of the leading financial institutions; massive federal housing assistance and mortgage relief; and passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would have re-legalized union organizing in the U.S.

But no such policy initiatives issued from the White House. Barry Citigroup Obama opted instead for the government to keep giving the U.S. populace what William Greider memorably called "a blunt lesson about power , who has it and who doesn't." Under Obama no less than under Bush, Americans "watched Washington rush to rescue the very financial interests that caused the catastrophe. They learned," Greider wrote:

"that government has plenty of money to spend when the right people want it. 'Where's my bailout,' became the rueful punch line at lunch counters and construction sites nationwide. Then to deepen the insult, the American people watched as establishment forces [under Obama's fake-progressive cover] re-launched their campaign for 'entitlement reform' -- a euphemism for whacking Social Security benefits, Medicare and Medicaid."

Americans also watched as Obama moved on to pass a health insurance reform (the so-called Affordable Care Act) that only the big insurance and drug companies could love, kicking the popular alternative (single payer "Medicare for All") to the curb while rushing to pass a program drafted by the Republican Heritage Foundation and first carried out in Massachusetts by the arch 1 Percenter Mitt Romney.

Obama was just getting started writing new chapters in the annals of neoliberal duplicity. Over the next seven years, the "liberal" and "progressive" -- the right even called him "Left" -- Obama:

+ Set new records for prosecuting whistleblowers, deported more immigrants than any president ever.

+ Launched a devastating and criminal war on Libya.

+ Ramped up the reckless New Cold War with Russia, in part by helping set up a neo-Nazi coup regime in Ukraine.

+ Helped install a right-wing coup regime in Honduras.

+ Cuddled up the vicious and arch-reactionary Saudi Arabian regime, keeping U.S. weapons flowing to that absolutist state as it began to pummel Yemen into epic humanitarian crisis.

+ Initiated a Darth Vader-esque retooling of the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

+ Offered fake constitutional cover for Bush's criminal torture practices.

+ Expanded the criminal U.S. war on Afghanistan, slaughtering thousands of innocent Pashtun women and children along the way.

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Paul Street ( and is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (2004), Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis (2007), Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (more...)
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