On Obama and Pathological Tolerance of Criminality
By Paul Street at May 11, 2007
I do not understand our tolerance of imperial arch-criminality. Last night on “public” television I saw Joe Mantegna say that PBS will host Colin Powell in a special Memorial Day concert later this month..
I don't think Colin Powell sings or plays an instrument, so I guess they mean he'll be sitting in a front row seat wearing a tuxedo and smiling and waving. Maybe he'll give a little speech or something – that would be my guess.
Sorry, but I don't get it.
Colin Powell is a war criminal. He was a key player in the making of the Bush administration's fraudulent case for the mass-murderous, monumentally illegal occupation of Iraq. That brazenly imperialist war has killed many hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and more than 3300 U.S. soldiers.
I hope Colin Powell is haunted every night of his life by images of Iraqi children blown to bits by U.S. missiles and of U.S. G.Is missing their legs after going to Iraq under the false belief – deliberately propagated by the Bush administration (with Powell's critical assistance) and its media enablers – that Saddam Hussein's regime was linked to 9/11 and al Qaeda.
Colin Powell? I will not watch him talk and smile and wink and wave at a concert of any kind. The only thing about Colin Powell I want to hear is that he has been incarcerated for the rest of his life. Or that the aforementioned images caused him to hang himself.
I am reading in the papers where Condaleeza Rice has been working behind the scenes to defend Paul Wolfowitz from his critics at the World Bank, which he heads. People are upset at Wolfowitz because he directed some World Bank resources to his girlfriend.
I'm sorry, but I don't get it. This is what Paul Wolfowitz is in trouble about? As the Deputy Secretary of Defense and a leading "intellectual" with the Project for a New American Century (PNAC), Wolfowitz was a leading architect, advocate and agent of the illegal, mass-murderous oil occupation of Iraq. He's a world class war criminal.
I hope Paul Wolfowitz is haunted every night of his life by images of Iraqi children blown to bits by U.S. missiles and of U.S. G.I.'s missing their legs after going to Iraq under the false belief – deliberately propagated by the Bush administration and its media enablers – that Saddam Hussein's regime was linked to 9/11 and al Qaeda.
I don't care all that much about his corrupt girlfriend dealings at the World Bank. The only thing I want to hear about Paul Wolfowitz is that he has just been incarcerated for the rest of his life or that the aforementioned images caused him to slit his wrists.
Same for that mendacious imperialist Rice, who went on television to invoke the threat of “a mushroom cloud” to justify the unprovoked invasion of Iraq. Same for that vicious Al Capone-admiring bastard Donald “Shit Happens' Rumsfeld. Same for R. James Woolsey (Defense Policy Board), Eliot Cohen (Defense Policy Board), Ken Adelman (Defense Policy Board), Lewis Paul Bremer III (the first U.S. imperial Viceroy of Iraq), John Bolton (the frothy warmongering Under Secretary of State in March 2003), Rupert Murdoch (the blood-soaked warmongering CEO of the News Corporation), L. Lowry Mays (the imperialist CEO of Clear channel), Karol Rove (Bush's warmongering political strategist), Richard Armitage (Deputy Secretary of State in 2003), I. Lewis Libby (Dick Cheney's warmongering Chief of Staff), Doug Feith (the warmongering oil-imperialist Undersecretary of Defense for Policy at the invasion's launch), Gen. Tommy Franks (remember him? He got a Silver Cross or something like that for leading the invasion), Henry Kissinger (Defense Policy Board), Paula Dobriansky (the warmongering petroimperialist Undersecretary of State for Global Affairs in 03), Newt Gingrich (Defense Policy Board), Nicholas Chabraja (the war-profiteering CEO of General Dynamics), Riley Bechtel (CEO of the leading imperial “defense” contractor Bechtel), Daniel Pipes (warmongering PNAC intellectual), Michael Ledeen (warmongering militarist from PNAC and the American Enterprise Institute), Roger Ailes (CEO of proto-fascist Fox News), William Bennett (PNAC), Jeb Bush (PNAC), Frank Gafney (Center for Security Policy), Elliot Abrams (National Security Council), Otto Reich (Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs in 2003), John Ashcroft (right wing Christian fundamentalist), Ronald D. Sugar (CEO of the war-profiteering "defense" firm Northrop Grumman), David J. Lear (CEO of the war-profiteering petro-imperialist company Halliburton), William Swanson (CEO of the war-profiteering “defense” contractor Raytheon), Phillip Condit (CEO of the war-profiteering imperial “defense” contractor Boeing in March 2003), Vance D. Coffan (CEO of the war-profiteering imperial “defense” contractor Lockheed Martin when the invasion was launched), Rush Limbaugh (legendary warmongering right wing asshole), William Kristol (PNAC), Bill O'Reilly (legendary warmongering right wing asshole), John Negroponte (terrorist) and the rest all the way up of to Darth Cheney (fascist) and that miserable, moronic and sneering messianic militarist George W. Bush.
I hope they are all haunted every night of their wretched remaining lives by images of Iraqi children blown to bits by U.S. missiles and of U.S. G.I.s missing their legs after going to Iraq under the false belief – deliberately propagated by the Bush administration and its media enablers – that Saddam Hussein's regime was linked to 9/11 and al Qaeda.
The only thing I really want to hear about any of them is that they've just been incarcerated for the rest of their lives or that the aforementioned images finally compelled them to swallow pistols and blow their brains out the backs of their skulls.
I just can't imagine being an American news broadcaster and having to get up in front of a camera and say “President Bush said this” and “Vice President Cheney did that” and "Condaleeza Rice met so-and-so" and so on. These people are vicious, monumental war criminals and arch-authoritarian hyper-plutocrats to boot. They are world-systemic super-predators.
It is a disgrace that they still hold office and are still free to commit terrible atrocities.
Which brings me to Barack Obama. There is something very seriously wrong with this guy.
There's a section in Obama's ponderous, power-worshipping and Janus-faced campaign book The Audacity of Hope (one of the three worst books I've ever read) where he claims that George W. Bush “and the people around him”are “pretty much like everyone else.” The Bush-Cheney gang-bangers are “possessed,” Obama says, “of the same mix of virtues and vices, insecurities and long-buried injuries as the rest of us.”
Say what now?
I read that passage to a University of Iowa student the other day and this is what he said: "that's fucked."
The student is right.
Obama has no business telling us that we're all "pretty much like" those arch-transgressors.
Obama shouldn't talk that kind of shit to Americans. He should be ashamed of himself for that sort of commentary.
Just like he should be ashamed of himself for saying that Iraq was invaded with the best of democratic intentions. And that black Americans have made it 90 percent of the way to equality in the U.S. And that the United States' “greatest asset has been our system of social organization,” that is capitalism – “a system that for generations has encouraged constant innovation, individual initiative and efficient allocation of resources.” And for telling people in developing nations to reject “left-leaning populists”' argument that they “should resist America's efforts to expand its hegemony” and try (imagine) to “follow their own path to development.” And for saying that “the biggest casualty of [the Vietnam War] was the bond of trust between the American people and their government – and between American themselves.” How about the 3 million Vietnamese the imperial criminals in Washington killed (along with 57,000 U.S. soldiers) during the 1960s and 1970s – a source of some of that terrible fraying of the shared "ties that bind" Americans that Obama so grotesquely bemoans?
If you want the page citations, go read the extended review (titled "Obama's Audacious Defernce to Power") I did of his book for ZNet and Black Agenda Report. While you are at it take a look at the latest piece I did on Obama, where I provide evidence in defense of Russell Simmons' comment that the Senator is a “mouse” of big capital.
It would be interesting to ask some injured Vietnam or Iraq war veterans if they share Obama's revolting “pretty much just like us” perspective on Bush and Cheney, who supported the criminal U.S. war on Vietnam but had “other priorities” than “serving” in Indochina during the 1960s and 1970s.
Such veterans shouldn't harbor any bitterness towards their warmongering Chickenhawk superiors, Obama thinks. He argues that “those who are struggling – or those who claim to speak for those who are struggling” are not “freed from trying to understand the perspectives those who are better off.”
The duty to feel “empathy,” he claims, is shared by the “the powerless” and “the oppressed” as well as “the powerful” and “the oppressor” (p. 68 in Audacity).
The veteran sitting with missing limbs in Walter Reed Hospital is supposed to “empathize” with the filthy rich warmongers who sent him or her off to die and kill on totally false pretexts. The parents of dead G.I.s are supposed to “empathize” with the War Pigs who made the fraudulent case for launching the illegal oil invasion that killed their son or daughter.
No, sorry...that is completely pathological. Slaves do not need to understand and empathize with their masters. Ordinary working-class citizens do not need to empathize with wealthy arch-plutocrats and war criminals. They just don't. Such empathy would be pathological.
The Barockstar is all about: pathological accommodation with power and evil. He's got this totally perverse aversion to conflict and struggle – a sick, fake-cool and quasi-academic over-attachment to conciliation.
He puts an erudite, Harvard- and corporate-media-certified spin on Rodney King's pathetic plea: “Can't We All Just Get Along?”
Let me tell him the answer to that question: “No. Hell No. Sorry, but we cannot all just get along.”
No self-respecting and authentic advocate of democracy and “social justice” (a recurrent phrase in Audacity of Hope) would ever extend an olive branch of any kind to people like Bush and Cheney.
Wanting to get along with people like them and the forces they represent has nothing to do with democracy. It has everything to do with being a power-seeking asshole.
Democracy is not about us all getting along. It's not about “reaching across the aisle.” It's not about making deals with criminals. It's not about “civil discourse” (another pathetic Obama obsession). It's not about dropping your responsibility to fight the power and struggle for radical change. It's not about foolishly hoping for liberal and pseudo-liberal saviors (Obama is correctly described as "deeply conservative" in a recent flattering New Yorker write up) to make it all okay.
It's about one person, one vote. It's about equal policymaking influence for all people, regardless of wealth and race and gender, etc. It's about majority rule. It's about turning the world upside down and sweeping the privileged few off the stage of history.
It's often ugly and mean. And it's fundamentally opposed to the business system that is giving Obama most of his political money and which he calls our “greatest asset.” By the way, Obama's career campaign finance profile includes a considerable sum from the Henry Crown investment company, a major Chicago-based investor in General Dynamics, a leading imperial "defense" contractor.
I honestly don't know who is worse – a Cheney or an Obama. Is the enabler parent who tells the child to tolerate and "understand" the parent who beats and rapes the child any less evil than the more direct abuser? Is the good cop who gives you a sip of Diet Coke any less part of the same dynamic of oppression than the bad one who slams your head against the wall?