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“Say It Ain’t So, Joe: the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party

“Say It Ain’t So, Joe:” the Latest Neoliberal from the War and Wall Street Party

Published at CounterPunch on March 20, 2019

 

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Follow the Money to the Border Wall

Photo credit: pbs.org

Follow the Money to the Border Wall
Published at CounterPunch on February 27, 2019

Readers may rightly believe that the government and segments of this society have fallen to their absolute lowest levels just as a new outrage becomes obvious. Such is the case with Trump’s (read his far-right handlers) border wall.

What are the objectives of the border wall? In other words, just what does the man behind the curtain and his handlers have in mind? First, they placate their base of haters and ignoramuses. Next, they make lots and lots of money for their special interests such as security companies, gun manufacturers, infrastructure companies, the military, and other government agencies.

The Real News Network presents a compelling recounting of just who will profit from Trump’s latest outburst of hate in “Trump’s Border Wall: Who Profits?” (February 25, 2019). Not surprisingly, some companies, like selected Israeli security companies that supply all manner of security equipment such as is used on Israel’s border wall (the Israeli West Bank barrier) at its border with the West Bank, have already seen their stock prices skyrocket: Follow the money: Make some good bets! Readers may be able to see the demonization of immigrants trying to enter the U.S. at the U.S./Mexican border connected to the plight of the Palestinian people in the West Bank. The comparison is more than valid.There’s lots of money to be made around the world from so-called security devices.

And while Israeli security companies are under scrutiny, consider that the racist Benjamin Netanyahu has just cemented a pact in order to facilitate a ruling majority with “ultranationalist extremists” of the Jewish Power party according to the Guardian (February 25, 2019). Now there’s a match made in hell: Trump and Netanyahu, an anti-Semite and racist president in the U.S. and a racist prime minister in Israel.

Then there is the question of infrastructure decay in the U.S. Who has not driven along roads and over and under bridges in the U.S. without being personal witness to those decaying roadways and bridges? Environmentalists may object here (Where is the juggernaut for mass transportation and environmentally friendly vehicles?), but in the near future we all need ways to get around and roads and bridges in the U.S. are an absolute disaster in many cases, while Trump touts his hate at the border with a wall. Trump would like around $8 billion to put his hate into reality at the border, but meanwhile human needs go unmet and ignored in the U.S.

Don’t pay attention to the grotesque caricature behind the curtain while the plutocrats and oligarchs take your wallet, destroy the sad remnants of democratic institutions, stoke the hate they are so adept at, laugh all the way to the bank, plan openly for a coup d’etat in Venezuela, and destroy the planet!

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

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The Mother of All Bombs: U.S. Foreign Policy

The Mother of All Bombs: U.S. Foreign Policy

Published at CounterPunch onFebruary 6, 2019

Following the horrific destruction left in the wake of World War II, the United Nations in its seminal and founding document, the Charter of the United Nations, set out to prevent future wars among member nations. The Charter’s admonition against war was also voiced in the lessons learned from the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals in its condemnation of war: “starting or waging a war against a territorial integrity, political independence or sovereignty of a state, or violation of international treaties or agreements.” are crimes against peace and “makes all war crimes possible.”

The few and the wealthy of many nations are no longer constrained by rules that categorize civilized and enlightened behavior toward other nations such as Venezuela and Iran. They’ve had many nations in their crosshairs and have met with much “success.” Their attacks against Venezuela’s sovereignty are the final nail in the coffin of the endless wars, and the preparation for war, that are now all the rage among the sycophants of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Venezuela is absolutely no threat to the U.S., and therefore, the U.N. Charter prohibits the kinds of dangerous and lethal idiocy that the Trump administration is now orchestrating against Venezuela. Readers need to consider that presidents are viewed in a positive light when they are seen as acting in a presidential manner, i.e., threaten or incite war against other nations. Recall the popularity of the newly elected Trump when he ordered the use of the mother of all bombs against Afghanistan. The bipartisan talking heads in the U.S. loved that theatre (“Trump Drops The Mother Of All Bombs On Afghanistan,” New Yorker, April 14, 2017).

Even billionaire Michael Bloomberg got in on the act of Venezuela bashing in his attacks against mild reformers of the political system like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren:
To plutocrat Michael Bloomberg, Sanders is a “demagogue” preaching “unreason,” while Sen. Elizabeth (D-Mass.) will transform the United States into a “non-capitalistic” system where “people are starving to death,” like “Venezuela” (“What The Left Gets Wrong About Bernie Sanders And Elizabeth Warren,” Huffington Post, January 31, 2019).

Critics of Nicolas Maduro’s government are right to point out that some of the blame of the current state of domestic affairs in Venezuela is attributable to Maduro’s handling of dissent among ordinary Venezuelans. Additional responsibility is undeniable in that the Venezuelan economy has not diversified to the extent that could have offset the declining price of oil. But, these serious failings do not rise to the level of the attacks against Venezuela by those with power and wealth and their errand “boys” who want a one-dimensional political and economic world where their wildest whims of power and control go unchallenged.

The mass media have been the biggest and most vocal cheerleaders of regime change in Venezuela. Following upon the heels of Russia bashing from mass media outlets such as MSNBC, the New York Times and the Guardian have made Juan Guaido the poster boy of their own agendas in support of the few and the wealthy: “Si puede! (“Yes we can!”) shouts rapturous crowd at Juan Guaido rally,” (January 31, 2019). Quickly forgotten is the lead-up to the 2003 war in Iraq, based on lies that turned that nation into a quagmire of sectarian hatreds and civil war.

Will Maduro be dragged through the streets in the manner of Muammar Gaddafi (a scoundrel in his own right) following the U.S.-led bombing campaign that turned that nation (Libya) into yet another quagmire? The Trump administration has Cuba and Nicaragua next on its hit list with absolutely no basis. The rules of war specify that a direct threat must be established before any aggressive actions are taken against sovereign nations. No direct threats exist! We seem to have learned next to nothing from history and are condemned to repeat the egregious and lethal mistakes of the past! And why not, they’re big money producers for some.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

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“If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.”*

Women’s March Photo credit: Howard Lisnoff

“If I can’t dance to it, it’s not my revolution.”*

Published at CounterPunch on December 31, 2018.

The Women’s March is not immune to the same forces that have confronted the political left in the U.S. for decades. The larger women’s movement itself, that sprang from the antiwar movement and civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s, carried flaws along with its development that are not new to left political movements in the U.S.

Looking in as an outsider during the late 1960s and early 1970s, I noticed that much of the women’s movement was made up of upper-middle class professionals and well-to-do students who gave short shrift to large segments of women in the U.S. who did not have the advantages of middle-class or upper-middle class upbringing and the professional school degrees and advantages that that background afforded many in the women’s movement, particularly those in leadership roles. That the women’s movement has attempted to address some of these shortcomings in recent years is testimony to the vibrance of that movement, but the fact that most white women without college degrees voted for Donald Trump, the dyed-in-the-wool misogynist, is a an undeniable and valid criticism of the women’s movement’s effectiveness.

I have marched, along with my family, for two consecutive years at the Women’s March in New York City. It felt good being on the streets in solidarity with others, the cause was noble, but during both marches I felt that the marches were accomplishing little besides saying “Hooray for our side.” If the proof is indeed in the pudding, then the nomination and confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, with echoes of attacks against Anita Hill in the person of Christine Ford, is evidence of how the women’s movement’s power has changed little over the ensuing decades.

But now another issue has reared its ugly head as the second anniversary and third women’s march draws closer in January 2019. “Several people involved in planning the march say that at a November 2016 meeting, Women’s March co-chairs Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez ‘asserted that Jewish people bore a special collective responsibility as exploiters of black and brown people’” (Vox, December 21, 2018). Another Women’s March leader, Cassady Fendlay, who was present at the 2016 meeting, stated that the allegations of anti-Semitism are false. Also, one leader of the march has refused to cut ties to Minister Louis Farrakhan, a leader in the Nation of Islam, who has made anti-Semitic remarks in the past. At a February meeting, at which a Women’s March organizer was present, Minister Farrakhan “espoused anti-Semitic conspiracy theories.” Farrakhan has compared Jews to termites: “I’m not an anti-Semite, I’m anti-Termite.” Farrakhan stated, in a 2014 speech, “…the satanic Jews who control everything… ” Some may say that these issues, related above, amount to guilt by association, but the strength and frequency of anti-Semitic remarks by Minister Farrakhan cannot be dismissed.

As a Jew and a member of the political left, I am still reeling from the effects of the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in which 11 people were killed by an avowed anti-Semite and anti-immigrant madman. It’s a raw wound that has been apparent since Trump and some of his supporters began kowtowing to, and facilitating the growth of far-right neo-Nazis and white supremacists. The chants of “Jews will not replace us,” and Trump’s obscene comment, “but you also had people that were very fine people” among the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia at the Unite the Right rally in August 2017, is enough to bring images of the Holocaust to a position at the front and center of most Jews’ attention.

The Minister Louis Farrakhan issue and the Women’s March is reminiscent of an early demonstration on the Boston Common in Boston, Massachusetts following the attacks of 2001 and the U.S. mobilization for war. The first speaker to address the crowd of protesters identified herself as Palestinian, a people with whom most Jews in the U.S. feel connected to in terms of decades of persecution. But the speaker’s opening remarks targeted Jews as being responsible for just about every sin that could be imagined on the international stage. The speaker portrayed Jews as some sort of evil cabal and I knew instinctively that this demonstration and rally was not one I felt that I could get up and dance to. I left, feeling that my identity (not to be confused with identity politics) was being hammered away at by the speaker.

With all of the brouhaha associated with this new twist in the women’s movement, an alternate group… March On… is but one example in an array of groups that has sprung up to answer an alleged unacceptable turn in this necessary and vital part of the movement of protest in the U.S. It may be true that if two leftists are gathered in the U.S., they will not be able to agree on either the time of day or the season, or the fact that the sky is generally blue on a sunny day, but it seems fairly obvious that casting one’s lot with those who speak words that support intolerance and create a loss of solidarity on the left are to be avoided.

Anti-Semitism, racism, and misogyny are all symptoms of the underbelly of humanity. We need to get the connections between that hatefulness correct on the left.

* Emma Goldman

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

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Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.

Police riot: Democratic Convention 1968 Photo credit: commondreams.org

Police Violence and Mass Policing in the U.S.

Published at CounterPunch on December 11, 2018

Wondering which side police in the U.S. are on…. left or right, is a more certain social science proposition than attempting to guess how many angels can safely fit on the head of a pin.

For those close to protest from the 1950s through today, including all facets of left protest, the broken and murdered bodies of protesters in the civil rights movement and the Vietnam antiwar movement, and movements beyond those heady days of protest are quite telling. Guns, fire hoses, batons, tear gas, fists, planting evidence, etc., have all been used viciously by police throughout the U.S. in doing the bidding of their political and financial overlords.

The militarization of the police began, not as a coincidence, in the 1970s. Special Weapons and Tactics (S.W.A.T.) “teams” were soon in evidence, as was the gathering of so-called intelligence by police units, a fact well known to Vietnam-era protesters, the movement to which mass policing responded. The dumping of military weapons and vehicles to the police was the direct result of the massive police mobilization during and following the Vietnam War. All that was needed was a globalized economy to begin the school to prison pipeline of which the police are an integral part.

Drug Abuse Resistance Education programs (D.A.R.E.), founded in Los Angeles in 1983, have been totally ineffective in stemming the tide of drug use in the U.S.  Indeed, D.A.R.E. has seen some police act as enforcers of discipline in schools in mostly poor neighborhoods and has furthered the school to prison pipeline in the U.S.

That many individual police have authoritarian leanings and behaviors comes as no surprise. The antipathy toward people of color in the civil rights era and beyond had its roots in the mass violence in the U.S. in which police were an integral part. That a member of the Black Panther Party would relate that violence is as “American as cherry pie” is no accident.

More recently, the repression by police, and especially the white shirts of the New York City police during the Occupy Wall Street movement, was effective in countering the push to begin to address the astronomical level of economic inequality that became pronounced as a result of the Great Recession, a recession largely caused by the globalization of trade, manufacturing, and the financial chicanery of the international banking establishment.

When antifascist protesters took to the streets of Washington, D.C. to protest the moron-in-chief’s inauguration, the police were aided by the liberal class in the U.S., including some in the mass media, who think that the power grab by the far right in the U.S. will end in some kind of genteel coffee klatch.

In August 2017, in Charlottesville, Virginia, police largely stood by while white supremacists and neo-Nazis beat up counter-protesters and finally killed Heather Heyer. The police response was reported by CNN in “Report on Charlottesville rally faults police over planning, failure to protect public,” (December 2, 2017).

When the police can’t get away with murder outright, they either resort to the tried and “true” technique of claiming they feared for their individual or collective safety, or as they did in Ferguson, Missouri in August 2014, falsely reporting that Michael Brown was some sort of dangerous criminal on the loose. When the police can’t get away with slander and libel, they sometimes shoot people in the back, or in similar ways, and those people turn out to be predominantly either black or brown.

In June 2016, as reported in the Guardian, white supremacists and neo-Nazis were allowed to get away with only very minor charges at the mayhem resulting from a far-right rally, while California officials “pursued criminal charges against eight anti-fascist activists who were stabbed or beaten…” Readers get the picture here without much embellishment of the facts. 

What shocks in much of this again is how some liberals join the right in condemning the actions of anti-fascists while the grotesque outrage of what is actually going on in the far right in the U.S. is often seen on an equal footing with the pushback on the part of some on the left. Indeed, many revisionists on the left bemoan the actions of radical protest and protesters during the late 1960s and early 1970s in reaction to the grotesqueness of the Vietnam War, a reality that allowed the right in the U.S. to rewrite the history of that war into the “noble cause” rhetoric of Ronald Reagan.

By taking part in this condemnation and fabrication of history, with its forces of murder on the right around the world and in the U.S., the stage is set for further bloodletting. Witness Trump’s campaign rallies in 2016, when he encouraged the violent among his followers to do physical harm to counterprotesters. How far behind could mass murder and intimidation be? 

“You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.” In other words, Trump gave a wink and a nod to white supremacists and neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. How hard do readers think it could be for police to pick up on this green light to align with the right while physically and “legally” punishing the left.

In a small town in Rhode Island during the 1968 presidential campaign, just outside of the local Eugene McCarthy for President campaign office, teenagers, who routinely congregated both inside and on the sidewalk outside of that office, were routinely harassed by police. On one night, a young man was arrested by police and beaten at the local police station for the crime of being outside of the campaign office and being brash. No matter that the young man was the son of a prominent local businessman. The latter made no difference to the police who acted with complete impunity even then. On the federal level, the national police, the F.B.I., had long been involved in its formal counterintelligence program (COINTELPRO) that included spying, harassment, and facilitating murder as standard operating procedures against protest and protesters. 

It is both a quaint and outdated idea that police will be neutral arbiters of the administrative branch of governments. It is most often the case that police will act in tandem with the judicial branch with violence and mass incarceration often being the predictable outcome.

Whether it was the police riots at the Democratic nominating convention in 1968 at the height of the Vietnam War, or a simple traffic stop, or incidents of police wilding, the authoritarian nature of policing in the U.S. is apparent. That such generally unchecked and ultimate power over life and death on the streets of the U.S. often leads to deadly results need not come as a surprise to a government and people with a growing political right and in many cases the extreme right.

Indeed, the left’s admirable commitment to nonviolence is remarkable in the face of such repression.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

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The Day I Almost Went to Prison for Life

Photo credit: Boston Globe (the other current recreational marijuana facility)

The Day I Almost Went to Prison for Life
Published at CounterPunch on November 29, 2018

Larry and I took the bus from Augusta to Atlanta, Georgia on a Friday night in November 1969. We were at the halfway point of basic training at Fort Gordon and the first weekend pass was our reward for surviving the rigors of military training during the Vietnam era. We were both in the National Guard, and unlike some others in our training unit, we would get to go home in the early spring following the completion of both basic and advanced training in our military specialty.

I was completely against the Vietnam War, but that is not the subject of this essay. I read Martin Luther King’s Where Do We Go From Here: Chaos or Community? as the bus sped along the roads to Atlanta through the night. My first stop in Atlanta was at what would become King’s temporary tomb next to the church where he preached along with his father: Ebenezer Baptist.

In the evening of that Saturday, Larry and I were going to unwind, and since beer was about all we could get at the basic training PX, we would go out in search of some grass in the hippie enclave of Atlanta on Peachtree Street. It didn’t take long for us to make a connection, and we returned to our hotel and rolled a few joints and smoked them.

Soon after finishing the joint, I began what seemed like a paranoid trip. Looking back over forty-nine years I can be a bit more objective and conclude that it probably were forces that had little to do with the marijuana that put me in the mental state I experienced. I had trouble breathing and the room was doing all manner of distortions. Had I noticed Larry, who was uncontrollably smacking his lips, I probably could have concluded that it may have been a combination of basic training, homesickness, and whatever particular personality traits were at play that were causing such a strong reaction.

I told Larry that I was heading to a hospital to get checked out and away from the confines of our room and he accompanied me. The taxi that we hired took us to a hospital where we were quickly tossed out onto the sidewalk, the staff adding that this was a private facility and we were not welcome there.

We took a second taxi and landed in a public hospital, in a unit, or rather a large holding room, where what seemed to me to be a large number of people who were dealing with similar reactions from a variety of drugs and/or alcohol. While we waited, a man who was confined to a wheelchair in handcuffs began writhing violently and screaming… Within seconds, the wheelchair where he had sat was turned into small pieces of wood, detached wheels, and unrecognizable metal objects. I completely freaked out at that sight and the police were called and both Larry and I were put in the back of a cruiser.

At that point, Larry began giving me dirty looks and said that his license to practice law in California could be revoked given our current situation. The cop driving the cruiser said that we would end up in prison for life for our offense of smoking pot and we had better come clean and direct him to the people on Peachtree Street who had sold us the marijuana he now held as evidence of our criminality.

By this point, I was coming down from the trip and knew better than to turn anyone in for anything, and in any case to try to tell the difference between the folks who sold us the stash and the others who were walking along the street in the hippie district of Atlanta would have been impossible. Satisfied that we couldn’t help the police locate the people who had sold us the pot, we were dropped off at the door to our hotel and I spent the rest of the night, before falling asleep, dealing with Larry’s glares after he was brought so close to professional ruin. The police never asked for our names and we were never arrested or charged. We were simply intimidated and finally let go.

Fast forward forty-nine years later when I will get up before dawn, three days from now and drive a little over an hour to a retail marijuana shop in Northampton, Massachusetts on the first morning that recreational marijuana will be sold legally east of the Mississippi River. It’s not that I’m a pothead or major druggy or anything like that… Maybe I still would rather have an occasional beer as I recall Phil Ochs in Outside of a Small Circle of Friends: “Smoking marijuana is more fun than drinking beer, But a friend of ours was captured and they gave him thirty years.” I haven’t smoked marijuana since that night in any substantial way. Nixon supported the spraying of paraquat on marijuana fields and that freaked me out for a number of years. A next-door neighbor grew stuff that would have taken a barn full to make someone high, so I really have been disconnected from it all.

I’ll stand in line on Tuesday morning and an educated guess is that police will be directing traffic rather than looking to arrest anyone. Some might say that by doing this I’m subsidizing the marijuana industry and they may be right to a degree, but it means something to have voted for the recreational marijuana ballot initiative in 2016 and to be able to take advantage of a people’s movement in an angry and imperfect world that includes the untold thousands in jail for nonviolent drug charges and some people who have been murdered for similar reasons.

The way it actually turned out

Frigid weather, snow, rain, and Thanksgiving kept me from traveling to Northampton for six days. When my wife Jan and I finally arrived, the line was long and it took about an hour and a half to get into he marijuana facility.

Outside, while waiting, a young man stood in back of us with a friend and he seemed to know nearly everything there was to know about marijuana. Once inside, it took almost no time to make a purchase and the person who took our order and checked us out was friendly and remarked, “I’m glad that folks from your generation could see this happen,” I thought, if he only knew the story that stood behind his observation. Once outside of the facility, walking back to our car, someone on the street behind us said, “I wanted to come to see the social scene today.” It was, indeed, quite a scene as the cliche went during the 1960s and early 1970s.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister

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We Still Don’t Get it on the Left

Ku Klux Klan 1921-1922 Photo credit: Library of Congress

We Still Don’t Get it on the Left

The messages via email began arriving in my inbox as midterm election results were still undecided in places such as Florida and Georgia. Some of the emails came from MoveOn and all of the appeals were in support of two local demonstrations/vigils to be held in support of Jeffrey Sessions who had just been fired by Donald Trump. Imagine leftists and liberals holding vigils for a racist whose last official act as attorney general was to make it impossible for the Justice Department to investigate local police departments. Here’s a guy who heaped praise on the Ku Klux Klan, but opined that their only flaw was that some members of that group smoked marijuana.

The Guardian ran an article, “National populism is unstoppable-and the left still doesn’t understand it” (November 8, 2018), by Matthew Goodwin, co-author of National Populism: The Revolt Against Liberal Democracy, in which he makes many cogent observations on the sweep of right-wing movements in several so-called liberal democracies in the West:

So what is really going on? National populism is revolving around four deep-rooted societal shifts: the “four Ds”. First, there are high levels of political distrust, which are being exacerbated by populist leaders who paint themselves and their followers as victims of a political system that has become less representative of key groups. Second, many people have strong and entrenched fears about the perceived destruction of national cultures, ways of life and values, amid unprecedented and rapid rates of immigration and ethnic change. Accompanying this distrust and fear are anxieties related to deprivation and the loss of jobs and income, along with a strong sense that they and their ethnic and social group are being left behind relative to others in society.

Finally, many political systems in the west are having to grapple with a new era of dealignment, in which bonds between voters and traditional parties are breaking down, and hence the path for new political challengers is much more open.

Many of Goodwin’s points have been made by other writers and social scientists using different assessments and terminology, but the outcome is the same in society after society with profound effects on the rest of us and the entire planet. They—populists of the far right—want simple or easy answers to difficult questions and they are sometimes eager and ready to use violence to achieve their ends.

While many pundits celebrated the results of Tuesday’s election as a stopgap against Trump, he hardly skipped a beat getting back to his hate-filled rhetoric and actions against immigrants and dropped a passing comment about praying for the victims of the latest national gun outrage in California.

Back to Goodwin: He’s accurate in his assessment that the far right juggernaut carries in it seeds of the culture wars that began in response to the movements for change in the 1960s across the globe. I don’t think that they’re stoppable at this point and the Sword of Damocles of nuclear war and the destruction of the natural environment hang in the balance. And while we’re waiting for this almost inevitable debacle, let’s get out there for Sessions!

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

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Wake-up From the Nightmare

Protest March, January 21, 2017. Photo credit: Howard Lisnoff

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As We Approach the 2018 Election

Protest March January 21, 2017 Photo credit: Howard Lisnoff

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The Neoliberals Are Complicit in This Train Wreck

Photo/illustration credit: publicdomainpictues.net

The Neoliberals Are Complicit in This Train Wreck

Published at CounterPunch September 11, 2018

I get a kick out of many Democrats. Readers would think in reading Barack Obama’s September 7, 2018 speech at the University of Illinois, that all we have to do is go out and vote for Democrats and we’d be on the way to restoring our troubled, but exceptional democracy (“Barack Obama: You need to vote because our democracy depends on it” Guardian, September 8, 2018). What an absolute crock of shit!

The former President states that “democracy has never been easy,” but that “November’s elections are more important than any I can remember in my lifetime.” Then he continues by stating that progress in America has been “fitful… incomplete” and that progress has been achieved by “acts of heroism and dedication by citizens, by ordinary people…”

He follows by serving up a litany of the Republican’s “threats to our democracy” that just about everyone who is not hiding in a fallout shelter already knows. He also castigates young people, who in the last midterm election voted at the rate of “One in five.”

How can the sane parse this exceptionalism-in-trouble narrative? Well, let’s begin with the former President. He completely ignored those in need during the economic debacle (read Great Recession) of 2007-2008. He bailed out the fat cats who have steadily increased their share of wealth in the U.S. and have now been lavished with even greater gifts from the dunce Trump. He left the rest of us to foot the bill and sucked the equity out of the homes of millions of people, a significant number of whom were his staunch supporters and depended on home equity for their financial footing.

Next, look to U.S. militarism for an answer to where the so-called nation’s treasure is being dumped. Obama went along with endless U.S. wars to get along with the power elite. He expanded the war in Afghanistan. Now there’s a lost cause if ever there was one!

In terms of public schooling in the U.S., Obama tried to install a kind of meritocracy among schools by ignoring schools in poor areas and giving a part of the small share of federal funds that go toward public education to those districts capable of mounting competitions for that money that was sort of like the gladiatorial fights of ancient Rome.

Obama was the consummate neoliberal, and when a black professor’s (Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr.) rights were egregiously violated by police in Cambridge, Massachusetts, he had a beer fest at the White House.

And the greatest existential threat of our time, environmental destruction, got short shrift from Democrats. Again, it was tinkering around the edges of disaster.

The former President ends his speech at the the University of Illinois, stating that “Change happens. Hope happens.” “And that can be the legacy of your generation.”

I would like to be as sanguine as the man I voted for for President, but the reality on the ground is that government by the few and the wealthy has been on a long march to oblivion that began with the jettisoning of the values and programs of the New Deal during a Democratic administration (Truman’s) and has accelerated ever since with its worst expressions through the “Great Communicator” Reagan, right up until the white supremacist Trump. It’s no accident that a right-wing, low-functioning clown now occupies the White House and the neoliberals and those with great wealth with a lust for domestic and international violence put us in such extreme jeopardy. It may very well be too late to salvage anything like the quaint democracy that Obama invoked in Illinois. Those who pull the strings won’t let a socialist or social democrat past the threshold.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer.

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