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An Explanation & Apology

My last post was, as a friend has repeatedly told me in the past, shrill. In my defense, I was filled with despair when I posted it. When I wrote, “You lie!!!”, I meant it very seriously, on multiple counts, unlike Representative Joe Wilson’s outburst some weeks ago, who was only concerned with the immigration issue. I read Obama’s Afghanistan speech and was deeply offended at his deceptive phrasing and his outright misrepresentations. I apologize for perhaps offending some of you, but I am tired of reading the apologies offered for Obama by liberals and progressives. The most common refrain I hear is that he has only been in office for 10 months and that we should just give him a chance. He doesn’t need a chance – he needs help. Obama, we must realize, is just another spokesman for Corporate America, Wall Street, and the military-industrial complex that has run this country into a ditch for the last 50 years. He is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and deceived a lot of people, including me, with the empty rhetoric of Change We Can Believe In. Whose fault is that? Ours. It’s time to realize what we are up against and gird for war. Has there been change? Very little and what little has transpired has been cosmetic, at best. Obama has issued seven signing statements in the short time he has been in office, only one of which is legal, according to David Swanson. James Petras lists eight important foreign policy setbacks for the Obama administration and the toxic effects of the use of depleted uranium weapons in Iraq have barely been covered by the mainstream media. Granted, most of these weapons were used during the Bush administration, but I don’t doubt that they are being used in Afghanistan also. His cave-in on the public option in health care is shameful and his continuing support for the bailout of the financial elite is nothing short of criminal. I just learned tonight that Isi Siddiqui, vice president of CropLife America, the pesticide industry trade group that derided Michelle Obama’s organic garden, has been nominated to the position of chief agricultural negotiator for international trade. Of course, CropLife’s website doesn’t use the word “pesticide”, but read between the lines and draw your own conclusions. What are Mr. Sidiqqui’s qualifications to be an international agricultural trade negotiator? I don’t know, but I do know that there are very likely plenty of other very well qualified people for the job. Obama follows – he doesn’t lead, except with cosmetic touches such as his wife’s organic garden. He follows Corporate America and Wall Street because liberals and progressives are not pressuring him to do otherwise. But it was his surge in Afghanistan that sent me over the cliff. One of the quotes that is displayed on my blog, by Boris Yeltsin, applies here: “You can build a throne with bayonets, but you can’t sit on it for long.” Obama, I predict, will not be sitting on the throne in 2012 unless liberals and progressives get off their asses and start demanding change that we can believe in. Opposition to his Afghanistan surge is widespread. Kucinich was right and as the “recession” continues, Americans are going to get more and more upset with Obama’s agenda. Here is an essay by Rabbi Michael Lerner, of Tikkun Magazine, who wrote the following piece about the response of many religious leaders at the Parliament of World Religions taking place now in Melbourne, Australia. What Obama is doing is completely contrary to the message of Jesus Christ and it is past time that religious leaders in this country called him on his blood lust and war mongering. I urge you to support the Network of Spiritual Progressives – only religion has the power to draw people together in support of a cause. Martin Luther King proved that in the 1960s. The religious right learned this lesson long ago – now it is time for liberals and progressives to join together also.

World’s Religious Leaders mourn the Obama Escalation in Afghanistan

by Rabbi Michael Lerner
(Thursday, December 3, 2009)

“…Obama seems not yet to have absorbed in a serious way: that the path to peace must be a path of peace, and that you cannot bomb and kill your way to security. This simple insight is the one thing shared by most of the world’s religious traditions, and it is to testify to the path of peace that thousands of religious leaders are assembled here to affirm a truth that Obama and the world must take seriously.

Many of the world’s religious leaders in attendance at the Parliament of World Religions taking place in Melbourne, Australia, are in partial mourning for the dream of a new world that President Obama promised, and decisively torpedoed in his announcement of major escalation of military forces in Afghanistan. While the conference sessions have officially ignored current political developments, the hallways are filled with heated discussions of the widespread disillusionment with Obama.

For political activists, the issue of Afghan escalation is primarily framed in terms of Obama’s failure to learn the lessons of Vietnam : one cannot win a war against a population that has been fighting for many decades for its own independence. No matter what America’s stated war aims, the people of Afghanistan perceive the American military presence as generating far more violence and destruction than they faced before the U.S. got involved.

For feminists anxious to protect the rights of women, the capitulation to Islamic fundamentalism in its treatment and denial of rights to women by the current Afghani government which America is pledged to support undermines any picture of the US actually providing a long-term strategy that would defend women’s rights.

And for working and poor people in the US who are told that serious health care reform would not only hurt the interests of the health insurance corporations and the medical profiteers (poor dears!) but also increase the deficit at a time when it must be reduced, the willingness to put hundreds of billions of dollars into war making with the deficit suddenly forgotten makes many wonder about distorted priorities once again.

For the religious leaders of the world assembled in Melbourne Australia for the Parliament, all these issues are quite salient. Yet what comes most directly to mind for many is the fundamental warp in the Obama Administration’s understanding of what could actually succeed in providing homeland security.

One reason many global religious leaders celebrated the outcome of the 2008 election was the perception fostered by the Obama campaign that the new President really understood that militarism and the use of force to achieve American objectives should be relegated to the dustbin of history, at least until every non-violent strategy has been exhaustively tried. We believed we had heard a clear message that Obama recognized the need to end global poverty and the suffering it has generated as the first step that must be given time to work before military options are embraced.

That approach was given teeth by the vice chair of the Progressive Caucus of the House of Representatives, Keith Ellison, who has worked with the Network of Spiritual Progressives to develop a Domestic and Global Marshall Plan (DGMP). The DGMP would have the US take the leadership in bringing the advanced industrial societies of the world to commit 1-2% of their Gross Domestic Product each year for the next twenty to once and for all end global poverty, homelessness, hunger, inadequate education inadequate health care, and to repair the global environment.

It seemed obvious to religious leaders that the meltdown of the global economy and the obvious role played by the ethos of selfishness and materialism presented the new President with a once in a lifetime opportunity to remake the global economy in ways that would redistribute wealth to the poor, thereby generating the very consumer demands that could rebuild the global marketplace by taking the monies that were not being spent and putting it in the hands of those whose immediate needs for food, clothing, housing and basic material needs would generate a global economic revival and end unemployment.

But the only way that could happen would be for the Obama Administration to have put its full energy behind a new approach to homeland security. Obama would have had to teach Americans that lasting security could come from generosity, whereas the strategy of domination of others had proved futile and a guaranteed loser.

Even when Obama started pouring trillions into the hands of Wall Street banks and investment firms there was still a hope in the religious world that he would remain faithful to the peace-oriented insights he had articulated during his campaign.

No wonder then that the global religious leaders convening in Melbourne are expressing dismay to each other. They have long known what Obama seems not yet to have absorbed in a serious way: that the path to peace must be a path of peace, and that you cannot bomb and kill your way to security. This simple insight is the one thing shared by most of the world’s religious traditions, and it is to testify to the path of peace that thousands of religious leaders are assembled here to affirm a truth that Obama and the world must take seriously.

1 Comment on “An Explanation & Apology”

  1. #1 Beth
    on Dec 9th, 2009 at 7:32 am

    I was terribly disappointed with Obama when he bailed out Wall Street, but I’m heartsick at his capitulation on the public option. For shame, Obama.

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