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Barack Obama could have been Abdulrahman al-Awlaki

20 Jul
This image comparing the response Trayvon Martin's death with response to Abdulrahman al-Awlaki's death has gotten a lot of circulation through social media.

This image comparing the response to Trayvon Martin’s death with the response to Abdulrahman al-Awlaki’s death has gotten a lot of circulation through social media.

In a moving speech this week, Obama said “Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago.”  If he extended this empathy to teenagers like Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, a 16-year old US citizen killed by a drone strike, this world would be a better place. 

Obama making statements that are ironic in context is an established theme of his second term. Last December, speaking about the massacre at Sandy Hook, Barack Obama wiped a tear as photographers snapped away and peace activists asked “what about the hundreds of innocent children massacred by your foreign policy?”

In Northern Ireland for the G8 summit last month, Obama told a group of children “to those who choose the path of peace, I promise you the United States of America will support you every step of the way.”  In Dublin soon after, parliament member Clare Daly asked “Is this person going for the hypocrite of the century award?” and pointed out “that by any serious examination, this man is a war criminal.”

Now it’s this matter of Trayvon Martin. Friday, Obama made an unscheduled appearance at a White House briefing.  He seemed to enjoy having surprised reporters, then launched into somber reflections on last weekend’s verdict which declared George Zimmerman not guilty of murder, or even of manslaughter, in the death of 17-year old Trayvon.  As usual, the president’s speech hit all the right notes.

Obama started with a few words about Trayvon’s family and remarked on “the incredible grace and dignity with which they’ve dealt with the entire situation. I can only imagine what they’re going through…it’s remarkable how they’ve handled it.”  That’s certainly true, and it’s good to hear it said. The way Trayvon’s family has handled this is inspiring.

Then Obama talked about the “professional manner” in which the trial was conducted.  He said “reasonable doubt was relevant, and they rendered a verdict. And once the jury’s spoken, that’s how our system works.”  Okay, it’s the president’s job to tell us the system works.  We should forgive him for that if he wasn’t doing so much to actually make the system worse.  But here’s the words that made the most headlines:

You know, when Trayvon Martin was first shot, I said that this could have been my son. Another way of saying that is Trayvon Martin could have been me 35 years ago. And when you think about why, in the African- American community at least, there’s a lot of pain around what happened here, I think it’s important to recognize that the African-American community is looking at this issue through a set of experiences and a history that doesn’t go away.

Obama then explained some stuff that a lot of white people don’t want to hear.  He said there are “very few African-American men in this country who haven’t had the experience of being followed when they were shopping in a department store. That includes me.”  He gave more examples and said, “I don’t want to exaggerate this, but those sets of experiences inform how the African-American community interprets what happened one night in Florida. And it’s inescapable for people to bring those experiences to bear.”

He said a lot more, and it’s poignant. You can read the transcript.  But that’s what makes Obama so dangerous. He’s an amazing speaker, even his opponents admit to that.  What he said about Sandy Hook was moving.  His speech to the children of Northern Ireland was expertly crafted.  Every time he opens his mouth, it’s awesome and inspirational if you ignore the reality of what Barack Obama’s administration actually does.  For example, murdering Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki.

Abdulrahman was a 16-year old American citizen born in Denver, Colorado.  He was killed by a US drone strike in Yemen on October 14, 2011 along with his 17-year old cousin and eight other people said to be on their way to a barbecue.  His father, an “alleged terrorist” had been killed two weeks prior.  Some people wondered why the US is dropping bombs on a country it isn’t at war with.  Robert Gibbs, former White House press secretary, defended the teenager’s murder and said he should have had “a more responsible father.”

Abdulrahman Al-Awlaki had a brown complexion, just like Obama’s hypothetical son.  And like that 16-yeat old killed by a drone, Obama was born in the United States (well, we think) but he moved to a Muslim majority country while still a minor.  One might hope that parallel would engender as much empathy for Abdulrahman as Obama seems to have for Trayvon.  Some say Obama cries crocodile tears.  No one can see inside his heart, but there are good arguments for that.

The fact is, through the policies of his administration, Barack Obama has murdered thousands of innocent people.  Hundreds of children are among that number.  A study released last year by Stanford Law School and New York University’s School of Law looked at drone strikes in Pakistan and said “from June 2004 through mid-September 2012, available data indicate that drone strikes killed 2,562 – 3,325 people in Pakistan, of whom 474 – 881 were civilians, including 176 children.”

That’s 176 human children who are dead because Barack Obama plays the role expected of him by the financial-military complex that paid for both his campaigns.  That’s just the number on the books, in one country, in one period of time, killed by drones.  It doesn’t enumerate this administration’s death toll in Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia or anywhere.  It doesn’t look at the people shot in the head with bullets or even killed by bombs dropped by planes that have pilots.

George Zimmerman killed one boy and he’s one of the most hated men in the America.  So is Dzohar Tsarnaev, suspected of killing three people and injuring many more in a terrorist attack at the 2013  Boston Marathon.  But what do people hate Obama for?  Conservatives hate him for his healthcare plan, their worry about increased gun laws and, in too many cases, the color of his skin.  But every week there’s evidence that Democrats still love Barack Obama.

Let’s hope the era of liberal Obamadolotry is ending.  Some realized our president is a villain when Bradley Manning went to jail or when Edward Snowden joined him.  Some got the message as cops beat unarmed protestors affiliated with the Occupy movement and Obama said nothing.  Some saw the truth when they lost their jobs and homes to banksters awarded billions by Obama’s bailouts.  And for certain people in the military who once supported Obama, participating in the carnage of US government sponsored terrorism has changed their minds.

Barack Obama is a confidence man.  He’s just like a handsome cad who bilks an old widow out of her fortune.  He knows the words and gestures to make people feel good, and hopeful, and alive again.  But well-chosen words doesn’t erase a death toll.  Sympathy for Trayvon Martin doesn’t bring  Abdulrahman al-Awlaki or anyone else back to life.  Here’s a video from Abdulrahman’s grandfather: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GQlbnulmnEw

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Hey Jimmy Carter, let’s do some anarchist shit together

19 Jul
Jimmy Carter speaks at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in 2011 photo by John Stephen Dwyer.

Jimmy Carter speaks at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum. 2011 photo by John Stephen Dwyer.

The United States is an evil empire and presidents are bad people that do really terrible things.  Mass murdering war criminals Bush and Obama should be sharing a jail cell. We might throw Bill Clinton and Reagan’s corpse in there too.  But I got to be honest.  I like Jimmy Carter.

No, 88-year old Carter isn’t a radical. Don’t expect to see him chilling at the Lucy Parsons Center or talking theory at the Center for Marxist Education.  But it’s obvious this dude is ten miles left of the the average politicized Democrat on Facebook with their war apologetics and Obamadolotry.

“America has no functioning democracy at this moment.” Jimmy Carter said that three days ago, according to Der Spiegel, and it’s certainly spot on.  And a while back, he told CNN that Edward Snowden’s NSA leak “has probably been, in the long term, beneficial” to the United States.

And check this.  Last summer, Carter wrote an article called “A Cruel and Unusual Record” that was published in the New York Times.  Other media outlets remarked about it, and people shared the links, then it was forgotten.  But it says a lot.  Here’s how it starts:

The United States is abandoning its role as the global champion of human rights.  Revelations that top officials are targeting people to be assassinated abroad, including American citizens, are only the most recent, disturbing proof of how far our nation’s violation of human rights has extended. This development began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public.

Carter goes on to criticize “the president’s right to detain a person indefinitely…a broad, vague power that can be abused without meaningful oversight from the courts or Congress.”  He describes how recent laws “allow unprecedented violations of our rights to privacy through warrantless wiretapping and government mining of our electronic communications.”  And here’s Carter’s take on Obama’s foreign policy:

Despite an arbitrary rule that any man killed by drones is declared an enemy terrorist, the death of nearby innocent women and children is accepted as inevitable. After more than 30 airstrikes on civilian homes this year in Afghanistan, President Hamid Karzai has demanded that such attacks end, but the practice continues in areas of Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen that are not in any war zone. We don’t know how many hundreds of innocent civilians have been killed in these attacks, each one approved by the highest authorities in Washington. This would have been unthinkable in previous times.

He’s said that unchecked campaign contributions are “legal bribery.”  He’s called for the close of Guantánamo Bay and says US policy is violating the “basic rules of law and principles of justice enumerated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”  Even looking at it strategically, he says “instead of making the world safer, America’s violation of international human rights abets our enemies and alienates our friends.” 

Good.  Jimmy Carter knows what’s up.  Maybe he’s our Great White Hero.  Maybe he has some plan to give power to the people and take it away from the plutarchs and sociopaths in Washington and Wall Street.  So what should we do, Jimmy Carter?

As concerned citizens, we must persuade Washington to mentions course and regain moral leadership according to international human rights norms that we had officially adopted as our own and cherished throughout the years. 

Persuade?  How, by sending perfumed valentines to our senators?  Damn it, Jimmy Carter.  I guess you got a lot of criticisms and zero plan to change anything.  But we can still chill together.  I got zero plan too.  And maybe we can work on your delusions that this country was ever moral.

Can a card-carrying socialist get elected to Boston City Council?

18 Jul
Terra Friedrichs and Seamus Whelan in the studio on July 11, 2013.

Terra Friedrichs and Seamus Whelan in the studio on July 11, 2013.

Seamus Whelan, our first guest on “Banned in Boston” last week, is running for a seat on Boston City Council.  He’s also a member of Socialist Alternative who often mentions the Occupy movement and its ideals.  Seamus, a native of Ireland, had some good things to say and his accent was a nice change from what we usually hear in the studio.

Terra Friedrichs, our second guest, was every bit as interesting.  She wants to amend the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts so that it clearly states corporations are not people and money should not equal political power.  What’s better, she’s identified a specific process that can force such a proposal to come before legislature.  It’s an exciting idea.

To listen, click here.

“Banned in Boston,” a weekly radio show that delivers radicalism with a local accent, is broadcast live every Thursday night, 8 pm on UNregular Radio and as repeats on Metacomet Radio.  John Stephen Dwyer, author of this blog, is one of the hosts.

Jill Stein on running to lose, being too political, and whether justice is possible under capitalism

14 Jun

Marisa Egerstrom, Jill Stein and Rene Perez in the space shared by UNregular Radio and DigBoston

Our guest on “Banned in Boston” last night was Jill Stein, Green Party presidential candidate in 2012. We discussed the protests in Turkey this month centered in Gezi Park and what Stein calls “a general outbreak of justice and democracy.” Then, addressing the question “how do we turn public will into political will?” Stein described being excluded from a recent rally against tar sands in which she was deemed “too political” too speak. After that, we turned to a statement by Slavoj Žižek, perhaps the most high-profile philosopher of our time, in which he alleges far-left candidates run to lose. Before wrapping up, we wrestled out an answer for the big question, “are peace and justice are possible under a capitalist system?”

Along the way we touched upon austerity, the Black Agenda Report, breaking up the banks, eviction blockades, the Economic Bill of Rights, fair trade, the Forward on Climate rally, Greece and Latin America, fracking, the Green Shadow Cabinet, the Green New Deal, Left Forum, lesser evils, Noam Chomsky, Occupy Wall Street, parliamentarianism, police brutality and intimidation, predator politics, presidential elections, suppression of free speech, tar sands blockades against TransCanada, tree hugging, wars for oil, unions and the labor movement, Barack Obama, local Socialist candidate Seamus Whelan (misidentified as “Sean Whelan”), Chuck Turner of the Green-Rainbow Party of Massachusetts, Elizabeth May of the Green Party of Canada, the perceived lack of ethnic diversity in the Green Party, and even FDR’s New Deal.

This episode was co-hosted by Marisa Egerstrom of the Protest Chaplains, Rene Perez who is known to some as the “man in the Yellow Hat,” and me, John Stephen Dwyer. Thanks to Noah Evans, Chris Faraone, Liam Leahey, and Jeff Nunes for submitting questions , Evan Greer (our guest on next week’s show) for the music, and to Occupy Boston for their support . To stream or download the mp3 file for this episode click here.

“Banned in Boston,” a weekly radio show that delivers radicalism with a local accent, is broadcast live every Thursday night, 8 pm on UNregular Radio and as repeats on Metacomet Radio. John Stephen Dwyer, author of this blog, is one of the hosts.

350.org disses Obama’s golf holiday with encouraging candor

20 Feb
Comments like this one make it hard to be optimistic.

But comments like this one make it hard to be optimistic.

350.org is currently distributing a photo of Obama, with text, via Facebook.  Nothing new about that, right?  But this doesn’t show the president next to an inspiring quote, or caught in some photo op that makes him look like a hero.

This image from Huffington Post shows Obama in the Florida sunshine, playing golf with fossil fuel executives on the same day – February 17, 2013 – that thousands of protestors shivered outside the White House in what’s being called the biggest climate protest in US history.  It makes Obama look really bad, as it should.

Lately, I’ve been a critic of 350.org for the over-sympathetic and under-critical messages they have been broadcasting about Obama through social media and other channels.  I am glad, however, to see that someone administering their social media “gets it” enough to unflinchingly point out who and what Obama really considers priority.

How does 350.org suggest people express their outrage at Obama’s cavalier snub?  They provide information about contacting the White House via telephone and email. Not exactly the stuff of revolutionary politics, but that’s okay, for now.  Rome didn’t fall in a day.

The action in DC on February 17, 2013 looked, sounded, and felt like an Obama rally. That hurt the movement because it completely disgusts many of the radical people that are needed under this “big tent.”  I hope the backlash from non-Democrats of many stripes – Greens, Anarchists, Communists, Socialists, whatever –  has been loud enough that it doesn’t happen again.  Until it does, I will try to be optimistic.

Here's what 350.org posted on Facebook after the State of the Union Address on February 12 with the recommendation "Click LIKE if you're ready to see the President put these words into action..."

Here’s what 350.org posted on Facebook after the State of the Union Address on February 12 with the recommendation “Click LIKE if you’re ready to see the President put these words into action…”

The climate movement has a tough, uphill battle.  What hope we have seems reliant upon the movement being both uncompromising and uncompromisingly non-partisan.

Last night, on Occupy Boston Radio’s “The Realm News” with Frank Capone and Andrea Romig, I outlined three assumptions that I think are crippling the movement against climate change.  If this is something you care about, please listen here.

Chris Dorner, the pope, capitalism, and the case against Occupy Boston

15 Feb

Listen to the “Banned of Boston” gang as they argue, rant and joke about topics including Benedict XVI, the execution of Chris Dorner, Obama’s State of the Union Address, Suffolk County dropping its case against Occupy Boston activists, the possibility of peaceful revolution, the problem of capitalism, the problem of fascism, the problem of racism, and the problem of -isms.  Thanks to co-hosts Rene Perez and Nelson Terry, guests Ruth Garcia, KC Hoye, Garret Kirkland, Mass Krawitz, Jeff Nunes, and technical producer Liam Sherry.   To hear the February 14, 2013 episode, click here.

You might also want to read “Charges against Occupy Boston have been dropped.  So why aren’t we celebrating?”

“Tonight the President said he would end the drone wars”

13 Feb
2010 photo by John Stephen Dwyer

2010 photo by John Stephen Dwyer

Last night, Barack Obama gave a State of the Union address that began with a quote from John F. Kennedy telling us that his task as president was “to report the State of the Union.  To improve it is the task of us all.”

What came next might surprise some people.  Keegan O’Brien, a student and activist in Boston, encapsulated it as follows:

Tonight the President said he would end the drone wars, repeal any law that indefinitely detains Americans, repeal any law that gives our government the right to kill someone on suspicion on anything, tax the rich their fair share, propose a single payer health care plan, decriminalize drugs and fund rehabilitation centers, enact a plan to phase out all oil and gas drilling, reunite families torn apart by immigration raids, dramatically reduce the military budget, guarantee housing as a human right, and work hard to pass inclusive non-discrimination policies across the board. #NOT

Obama did actually say some good things he plans to do, like improve education and fight to raise minimum wage to $9 per hour.  Unfortunately, I’m pretty sure he was lying.  A transcript of Obama’s speech is posted at the Washington Post.