Tag Archives: Obama

Don’t like Obama, you’re a terrorist?

I am about to say something that will probably get me labeled as a terrorist: I am sore tired with the conduct of the Barack Obama administration.

In a normal universe, that sort of speech would be met with supreme indifference. Anyway, who says “sore tired” these days? But in this brave new world under the banner of the Obama Administration, such speech could tar me as a “right-wing extremist.” Me, who has no party (if both the Democrats and the Republicans were to disappear overnight and take their most obnoxious supporters with them, I’d be hard pressed to shed a tear) and couldn’t be motivated to choose a wing. 

According to a new report by the Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Intelligence and Anaylisis Assessment,

Rightwing extremists have capitalized on the election of the first African American president, and are focusing their efforts to recruit new members, mobilize existing supporters, and broaden their scope and appeal through propaganda, but they have not yet turned to attack planning.

While I’m sure that there are some unreconstructed rednecks who think that Orville Faubus was a great leader who are put out of joint by the fact that we’ve finally been able to elect a black man president, it’s one thing to spew racist screeds (and I’ve heard some distressing doozies — can we finally all agree that whatever the man may be, he is not a crypto-Muslim? Or a secret Muslim? Or a sub-rosa-Muslim? Or any sort of Muslim at all?) and another to take pot shots at his motorcade. The former is, as far as I remember Constitutionally protected. Slimy, disgusting and utterly devoid of rational thought, but Constitutionally protected.

Here’s where the report starts to get worrying, however, as the light is seemingly turned on anyone who has a political opinion that doesn’t track with the current Administration:

The current economic and political climate has some similarities to the 1990s when rightwing extremism experienced a resurgence fueled largely by an economic recession, criticism about the outsourcing of jobs, and the perceived threat to U.S. power and sovreignty by other foreign powers. (p.2)

Rightwing extremist chatter on the Internet continues to focus on the economy, the percieved loss of U.S. jobs in the manufacturing and construction sectors and home foreclosures. (p.3)

Rightwing extremists are harnessing this historical election as a recruitment tool. Many rightwing extremists are antagonistic toward the new Presidential administration and its percieved stance on a range of issues, including immigration and citizenship, the expansion of social programs to minorities and restriuctions on firearms ownership and use. (p. 3-4)

Prominent among these themes were the militia movement’s opposition to gun control efforts, criticism of free trade agreements (particularly those with Mexico) and highlighting perceived government infringement on civil liberties as well as white supremacists’ longstanding exploitation of social issues such as abortion, inter-racial crimes and same-sex marraige. (p.4)

Rightwing extremist views bemoan the decline of U.S. stature and have recently focused on themes such as the loss of U.S. manufacturing capability to China and India, Russia’s control of energy resources and the use of these to pressure other countries… (p.7)

See a theme there? Many of those same concerns are held by a large majority of people who would never join an extremist group. I’m concerned about the very concrete loss of jobs to Mexico — the drywall business, according to Doug McIntyre (KABC‘s morning drive-time host), used to be a lucrative industry for African Americans. Then, with the Reagan amnesty, suddenly black drywall installers found their jobs and paychecks dwindling till they were completely driven out of the market by Mexican day laborers. This is not some white-supremacist claptrap — there are many blacks who had to leave a high-paying industry because of illegal immigration. Am I or Doug McIntyre suddenly to be called “rightwing extremists” because we state a quantifiable truth? I can assure you, that the Catholic Church (which is anti-abortion and anti-gay marraige) is not populated with neo-Nazi skinheads ready to blow up a black church. And not supporting the current administration is no hallmark for fascist sympathies.

Of course the KKK should be vehemently gone after when they commit hate crimes. I would like nothing better than to see Tom Metzger and his filthy W.A.R. organization brought up in front of a judge for the mayhem they’ve caused. I cheered when the Aryan Nations was destroyed in a lawsuit brought by a woman whose son was murdered by those thugs, and Idaho is better for their absence. The American Nazi Party and its descendents should be labeled for the traitors they are — their ideological forefathers took a very good try at killing some of my relatives on the beaches of Normandy.

But that’s not what this is about. This is not about extremists. This is not about white supremacists. This is not about Militias, Ruby Ridge, Waco, Oklahoma City, no matter how many times those references are thrown about. This is about political payback. This is about Monica Lewinsky, and Jeremiah Wright, and the fact that people won’t just sit down, shut up and let the Messiah run the country, because he knows what’s best for everyone. This is about the impeachement of Bill Clinton, and about the so-called “power of the conservative media” (though I’d gladly give that droning gasbag Limbaugh a nickle if he’d cork it for a week) and the “us-vs.-them, rah team” mentality that’s unfortunately reasserted itself in politics since the end of the Second World War.  This is about Tea Parties, and protests, and rightful, controlled anger at a nation that many people feel is slipping away into something they want no part of. These are not people about to bomb a Federal building. These are not people who have an interest in retreating to the hills and forming some farcical “resistance force” or “guerilla militia”, play-acting that they’re the loyal Maquis under an occupier. These are not people who have some delusional, paranoid notion that “the Jews”, or the Bilderberger Group, or the Freemasons  are conspiring to take over the world.

They’re just  people. 

People who are tired of “stimulus packages” which are throwing their money down ratholes and given to men who put us into this economic situation.

They’re tired of politicians cramming values, whether those are liberal or conservative, down their throats.

They’re tired of seeing their paychecks diminished by taxes, taxes not going to run the essential functions of government, but to a myriad of social programs that they likely do not or cannot use.

They’re tired of seeing us kowtow to governments who hold ideals foreign, nay — diametrically opposed, to our own, because they hold a marketable commodity that we want.

They’re tired of being told that we have to allow waves of people from a foreign country who, while in a deplorable state, are overburdening an already thinly-stretched  social safety net, and who are taking jobs that unemployed Americans could be doing.

They’re tired of seeing politicians, many of whom have never run so much as a lemonade stand, demanding a direct hand in major corporations. Particularly when those corporations would be better served by just collapsing into dust and letting others take their place. 

They’re tired of being told someone else knows what’s best for them, particularly if that someone is a faceless, nameless functionary in the bowels of government.

They’re tired of the parade of self-serving politicians, so eager to aggrandize their own power and base by taking our money and giving it to worthless projects that just coincidentally happen to be lavished on their home states.

They’re tired of legislators who try to work in secret, drafting reckless spending bills, wasting our money, and then say that the bill must be voted on, sight unseen — that any delay, or even debate, would irreparably harm the nation.  

They’re tired of politicians who demand one code of behavior from us, and then willfully hold themselves to a much looser standard.

And calling these people “extremists”, or trying to tar them all with the brush of “terrorism” is only going to make them that much more annoyed. It seems to be “coincidental” that this report was released a couple of days in advance of April 15, when numerous “Tea Party” rallies are to be held across the nation, by people fed up with a government that is stuck at the feeding trough like a prizewinning pig. It can only be that this report was timed to make people think that the Tea Party protestors are aberrant individuals, focused on the ruination of the country, beholden to a “right-wing hate machine” that seeks to impose a Nazi-style totalitarianism, bring back slavery, force Southern Baptist Charismatic Christianity on us as the state religion, and kick puppies for good measure.

Because this is how it starts. Don’t dare engage with your opponent. Demonize them. Make them less than completely American. Question their patriotism. Question their sanity. Question their capacity for rational thought. Rip them down, deconstruct them and build them back up into a straw-man image of their former self. It’s so much easier to fight a straw man.

So much more one-sided.

So much easier to demolish.

And we’ve been down this road before, too many times, from both sides of the political spectrum. No, the Republicans are not blameless either, when they were tarring anyone who questioned Bush’s polices with the brush of being “unpatriotic” or desirous of a terrorist strike against this nation, and drowned out criticism with the chant “U-S-A! U-S-A!” as if that mantra made them more patriotic than the critic. Even now, Marc Levine talks of “socialism.” Sean Hannity fears “marxism.” And Glen Beck is concerned of “fascism.” I don’t see the Swedes taking over, nor the dread hand of Ulyanov hovering over this nation, nor jack-booted, black-shirted thugs force-feeding enemies castor oil. I instead see mediocrity, imbicility and cupidity in government. I also hope to only see four years of it.


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President Obama, it’s time for your closeup!

History was made last night, and don’t you think that the supporters of Barack Obama are going to let anyone forget that for quite some time. From Washington DC all the way to the town of Obama, Japan, celebrations have broken out across the globe, hailing the first black man to become President of the United States (no. Bill does not count, no matter how much he billed himself as “the first black president.”). That in itself is an amazing, epochal, foundation-shaking event. Only 50 years ago, within a human lifetime, blacks were refused seating in restaurants across the south, were told to sit at the back of buses — they even were forced to use separate drinking fountains from whites. Less than 150 years ago, blacks could still be legally kept as property. And now, a black man is president. In an election won in a majority white nation. I do not agree with President-elect Obama on the issues, and did not vote for him, but I salute, congratulate and celebrate him and his achievement. He’s earned his place in the history books.

A few things to remember though:

For the Democrats, remember that “all glory is fleeting.” Obama has won the presidency. The Democrats have also consolidated their hold on both houses of Congress (as of this writing, they still have, if four razor-thin-margin races go their way, a shot at a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate). They essentially rolled back the clock to the pre-Newt Gingrich status quo, where the Democrats had held a majority in the Senate and House, and had even wrested the presidency away from the Republicans — in effect this was the delayed Democratic answer to the Reagan landslide of 1980, when it seemed that were were on the cusp of a perpetual Republican ascendancy through Ronald Reagan.  Before Bush the Elder, Clinton and Bush the Younger.

Now, it’s Obama’s turn, and he has a job that nobody should envy. Iraq is improving, but both we and the Iraqis see a need to stick around, at least in the short term and it can still get messy. However, with anti-war groups seeing him as the last best hope for a full withdrawal immediately, he is going to be pulled in two directions at once, especially once the SOFA (Status of Forces Agreement) between Iraq and the US is finally settled. The economy is still in shambles from the sub-prime mortgage fiasco (if I were advising Obama, I would suggest he order criminal investigations of Lehman Brothers, AIG, Bear-Stearns, Countrywide, and the other subprime lenders, and then introduce bills in Congress geared towards making sure this disgrace never happens again), and it will fall to Obama to start picking up the pieces — Lord knows Bush hasn’t had a run of particularly good luck or competence in repairing it — the $600 stimulus giveaways were a joke, and the bailout only seemed to reinforce the perception that the Bush Administration was only interested in helping out well-heeled donors and corporate grandees (it didn’t help that AIG turned around and sent its top execs some of the same people who got us into this misshive in the first placeto a spa resort for pampering). The bailout did nothing to fix the problems with selling mortgage-backed securities, particularly from those at risk of default, that was the powderkeg that exploded the crisis. 

Obama undeniably benefited from this groundswell of anger at a Bush administration now widely seen as incompetent, and it showed. Here, in California, for instance, numerous counties that had gone for Bush in 2004 (while the president was still riding the post-Iraq high)  flipped to Obama, including San Bernardino County, which has seen a drastic increase in foreclosures since the crisis hit.  People were not voting for the Democrats. They were voting for change, as represented by Obama. He could have worn a ferret or a marmoset or a Thompson’s Gazelle on his lapel instead of a donkey — so long as it wasn’t an elephant, he was golden.

Since much of the vote is coming down to the pocketbook, we still have to see which Obama is going to be the one in office — the financially secure if governmental expansionist Obama who will lay on a new New Deal or the “marxist,” “redistributionist” Obama who will raise taxes on the rich (whatever his definition really is) to try and float all boats equally. If we get the latter, whether from a desire to be that or through his being goaded by radicals who want to see implicit promises carried through, it could end up backfiring if the economy suffers.

And to that, remember that the electorate is fickle. They want to see a quick turnaround (even though such may be impossible, and even Obama acknowledged that in his victory speech, pleading for patience by saying that solutions may not take effect in one year or one term) and if the situation does not improve to their satisfaction, 2010 is right around the corner, hanging like the sword of Damocles ready to drop on the Democrats.

For Republicans and conservatives who may be on suicide watch right now, the message should be “don’t panic.” The sun rose in the sky this morning, even if it be over a America that elected Obama. The world is not going to tilt off its axis. This is not a sign of the apocalypse. It’s just an election. Take a deep breath and realize that Pennsylvania Avenue is NOT about to be renamed Red Square or Arafat Boulevard or some such nonsense like that. And, let’s call a spade a spade — John McCain was about as electrifying a candidate as a soggy paper towel, which is a let-down because the man showed cojones of brass while a guest of the NVA in Hanoi. He chose not to forcefully fight Obama, carrying on a bizarre campaign that would play things close to the vest and then suddenly lunge out and mention Bill Ayres or Jeremiah Wright, while not attacking Obama’s use of private contribution funds after publicly stating that he would eschew them to qualify public money. His plans were often non-existent and poorly articulated, and his attempts to suspend the campaign and get back to Washington, in the hopes that it would make him look like a statesman still on the nation’s clock while Obama blithely continued on with business as usual, backfired hugely, as it both tied him with the pork-laden abomination as well as make him look panicky by going when there ended up being little to do.

 So, suck up, buck up and come back with a new plan if you seriously want to retake either Congress or the White House.

And stop with the sour grapes nonsense. On the radio today, I heard some callers talk of how Obama’s not “my president.” It doesn’t work that way. Whether or not you agree with him (and I don’t), Barack Obama won the election of 2008 fair and square. He earned it. He is our president, or at least he will be on January 20, 2009. To say otherwise is to strip him of his rightly-deserved laurels and to strip the office of President of the respect it deserves. I dislike George W. Bush for a great many things. But he is my president. I distrusted Bill Clinton. But he was my president. I will likely disagree with Barack Obama on a great many things. But he will be my president. We do not have the luxury in this country of setting up a “government-in-exile” every time an election goes awry (or when the candidate, as here, just seems to say “screw it”). There will always be another election. But for now, it’s time to deal with President Obama.

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