U.S. tries to assassinate U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki

Yesterday, riding a wave of adulation and military-reverence, the Obama administration tried to end the life of this American citizen — never charged with, let alone convicted of, any crime — with a drone strike in Yemen, but missed and killed two other people instead:

A missile strike from an American military drone in a remote region of Yemen on Thursday was aimed at killing Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born cleric believed to be hiding in the country, American officials said Friday.

The attack does not appear to have killed Mr. Awlaki, the officials said, but may have killed operatives of Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

The other people killed “may have” been Al Qaeda operatives. Or they “may not have” been. Who cares? They’re mere collateral damage on the glorious road to ending the life of this American citizen without due process.

Glenn Greenwald | Salon

Obama and the Works of Death

Setting pen to paper and thereby blessing the project was President Obama, who had announced a year ago in Prague the goal of a nuclear-free world, but with his recent budget, will actually increase nuclear weapons production more than any other president since Ronald Reagan.

Here’s a piece of hypocrisy that surpasses even that of George W. Bush. Cheer on disarmament while drawing up plans for new facilities. Raise up a hopeful vision and, behind the scenes, ensure its dying. An Orwellian nightmare.

Need it be added, the weapons manufacturers are delighted.

“Obama’s Nuke Vision Sees Cash Flow to Labs,” was the headline last week in the Santa Fe New Mexican. The article reported that Obama will increase funding for nuclear weapons research and security programs $7 billion more next year, an increase of $624 million from the 2010 fiscal year.

John Dear | CommonDreams

Bush/Cheney/Obama radicalism

So that’s where the American consensus now lies.  The practices used by Britain, Spain, India and Indonesia (and the Reagan administration) of treating Terrorists as criminals and convicting them in normal courts — with due process — is too fringe Leftist for the United States, which has spent decades sermonizing to the rest of the world about the need for due process and the evils of arbitrary detention.  Instead, our political and media establishment demands that we replicate the policies of Libya and Saudi Arabia:  simply hold accused Terrorists without trials or, at most, invent special due-process-abridging military tribunals to ensure they are convicted.

George Bush and Dick Cheney ended up as two of the most despised political leaders of the last century, so our establishment had to pretend that they, too, found their policies to be distasteful and extreme.  But that was clearly a pretense.  In those very rare instances where Obama and his Attorney General try to deviate, they’re accused (including by leading members of their own party) of accommodating “the Far Left” and being “Soft on Terror.”

The undeniable truth is that our establishment craves Bush/Cheney policies because it is as radical as they are.  That one is automatically accused of being too Leftist merely by literally reciting Reagan administration policy on Terrorists (in words if not deeds)  — and that one can be “centrist” only by standing with the due-process-denying practices of Libya and Saudi Arabia — reflects just how far the American spectrum has regressed.

Glenn Greenwald | Salon

An American World of War

2010 will be another year of war for the United States and, from assassination campaigns to new fronts in what is no longer called the Global War on Terror but is no less global or based on terror, it could get a lot uglier. The Obama administration may, from time to time, talk withdrawal, but across the Middle East and Central Asia, the Pentagon and its contractors are digging in. In the meantime, more money, not less, is being put into preparations and planning for future wars. As William Hartung points out, “if the government’s current plans are carried out, there will be yearly increases in military spending for at least another decade.”

When it comes to war, the only questions are: How wide? How much? Not: How long? Washington’s answer to that question has already been given, not in public pronouncements, but in that Pentagon budget and the planning that goes with it: forever and a day.

Of course, only diamonds are forever. Sooner or later, like great imperial powers of the past, we, too, will find that the stress of fighting a continuous string of wars in distant lands in inhospitable climes tells on us. Whether we “win” or not in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and now Yemen, we lose.

Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse | TomDispatch

Corporate Healthcare

The health care bill is one of the most flagrant advancements of this corporatism yet, as it bizarrely forces millions of people to buy extremely inadequate products from the private health insurance industry — regardless of whether they want it or, worse, whether they can afford it (even with some subsidies).

In other words, it uses the power of government, the force of law, to give the greatest gift imaginable to this industry — tens of millions of coerced customers, many of whom will be truly burdened by having to turn their money over to these corporations — and is thus a truly extreme advancement of this corporatist model.

It’s undeniably true that the bill will also do some genuine good, as it will help many people who can’t get coverage now to get it (though it will also severely burden many people with compelled, uncontrolled premiums and will potentially weaken coverage for millions as well). If one judges the bill purely from the narrow perspective of coverage, a rational and reasonable (though by no means conclusive) case can be made in its favor. But if one finds this creeping corporatism to be a truly disturbing and nefarious trend, then the bill will seem far less benign.

Glenn Greenwald | Salon

First They Came for the Banksters

With apologies to Pastor Niemöller:

First they came for the banksters, and showered them with money and put them in the Administration in a way that was not change we could believe in.

Then they came for the military industrial complex, and sent more and more of our children to die in faraway lands that had never attacked us in a way that was not change we could believe in.

And now they’ve sold out our hope for a national health care system not run by millionaire gangsters in suits. And who is left to speak for us?

Thom Hartmann | CommonDreams

Fighting Another Dumb War

I have spent enough time inside the American military to have tasted its dark brutality, frequent incompetence and profligate ability to waste human lives and taxpayer dollars. The deviousness and stupidity of generals, the absurdity of most war plans and the pathological addiction to violence—which is the only language most who command our armed forces are able to understand—make the American military the gravest threat to our anemic democracy, especially as we head toward economic collapse.

Barack Obama, who is as mesmerized by the red, white and blue bunting draped around our vast killing machine as the press, the two main political parties and our entertainment industry, will not halt our doomed imperial projects or renege on the $1 trillion in defense-related spending that is hollowing out the country from the inside. A plague of unchecked militarism has seeped outward from the Pentagon since the end of World War II and is now sucking our marrow dry.

It is a familiar disease in imperial empires. We are in the terminal stage. We spend more on our military—half of all discretionary spending—than all of the other countries on Earth combined, although we face no explicit threat.

Chris Hedges | truthdig

President Obushma

I listened to President Obama’s Nobel Prize acceptance speech with the same feeling of growing nausea that I used to get listening to Bush. Yes, hard to believe that the two could ever be compared as public speakers but, with a year’s full of speeches now on the record, the inconvenient truth about Obama is that his actions rarely match his rhetoric.

In each of the four critical areas that define this moment — the crashing global economy, healthcare reform, global climate change, and American militarism — however audacious and stirring his words, Obama’s appointments, policies, and decisions are barely distinguishable from Bush’s.

For the full inside story on the economy, Matt Taibi’s recent piece in Rolling Stone — Obama’s Big Sellout — makes it painfully clear that from the moment Obama took power he turned the economy over to the very same rich scumbags who caused the economic crisis, but who were all major donors to Obama’s campaign.

“This new team of bubble-fattened ex-bankers and laissez-faire intellectuals then proceeded to sell us all out, instituting a massive, trickle-up bailout and systematically gutting regulatory reform from the inside.”

It is hard to find a single action on the economy that would have been any worse under Bush.

Ditto healthcare reform. Oh, they’re all making noise now about how it’s fine that the public option is dead because we’ll expand Medicare instead, and won’t that be great. Only a) it will never happen, since the same crew of congressional creeps who blocked single payer and the public option are lining up to block this latest plan and b) even if it does happen it is still a massive wealth-producing machine for the insurance and pharmaceutical industries.

Any un- or under-insured folks out there thinking that relief is on the way are seriously deluded. In the end they will change some terminologies and claim some reforms and the system will continue to decline just as it did under Bush.

Climate-change? In advance of the Copenhagen summit, Obama and the American congress did not even address the issue. The strongest message in the American zeitgeist is that climate scientists are crooks and cheaters; Obama made no effort to set the record straight on Climate-gate or to rouse the public for Copenhagen.

Maybe he gets a pass on this one, given that there’s so much on his plate. The sorry fact remains that the state of American environmentalism is as lame and disjointed as if Bush were still in charge.

Finally, as Obama picks up his Peace Prize: I cannot think of single thing that Obama has done — beyond his nifty speechifying — that is in any way better than Bush regarding American militarism and the war on whoever.

The many injustices of Guantanamo; the secret torture prisons and the practice of rendition; rejection of the international treaty banning land mines; sucking up to the Israelis and turning a blind-eye to continued illegal settlements; escalating an unwinnable war that will only destroy more innocent lives and generate new enemies; and through it all, not a hint of the understanding that militarism represents a hellish misappropriation of essential resources.

As during the darkest hours of the Bush administration, we should give up all hope of a peaceful transition to a more humane world. With Obama at the helm things will be getting much, much worse — a total breakdown of the dominant power structure — before there’s any chance of anything getting better.

Michael Sky | ThinkingPeace

Obama’s War

Obama has been taken over by the military industrial hawks and national security theorists who play war games with other people’s lives and money. I had hoped Obama might be a more forceful leader who would reject the same old interventionist mindset of those who profit from permanent war. But his newly announced Afghan policy shows he is not that leader.

So, we must look elsewhere, starting with ourselves. The first job of a citizen is to keep your mouth open. Obama is wrong on his policy — deadly wrong — and those of you who see this have both a moral and patriotic duty to reach out to others to inform, organize and mobilize our grassroots objections, taking common sense to high places.

Also, look to leaders in Congress who are standing up against Obama’s war and finally beginning to reassert the legislative branch’s constitutional responsibility to oversee and direct military policy. For example, Rep. Jim McGovern is pushing for a specific, congressionally mandated exit strategy; Rep. Barbara Lee wants to use Congress’ control of the public purse strings to stop Obama’s escalation; and Rep. David Obey is calling for a war tax on the richest Americans to put any escalation on-budget, rather than on a credit card for China to finance and future generations to pay.

This is no time to be deferential to executive authority. Stand up. Speak out. It’s our country, not theirs. We are America — ultimately, we have the power and the responsibility.

Jim Hightower | CREATORS.COM

Obama the War President

It was nice while it lasted — the audacious dream, the anti-war President, the brand new way of doing things. Nice to feel like progressives were at last on the side of history. Nice to imagine that America, having made the huge breakthrough of electing an un-white guy, would go on to even more critical breakthroughs.

No more war. Winding down the empire. Shifting military spending to social needs. Environmental action. Universal healthcare…..

True, the wheels have been wobbling and threatening to fly off the wagon from Obama’s very first appointments. But he’s such a charming, likable man, so much better than the last guy!

Just as Bush’s supporters stood by him despite all his failings because he was such a likable man, I just ignored the uneasy feelings and kept hoping that the next big decision would be better.

That will never happen. Obama’s decision to escalate in Afghanistan has confirmed that his presidency is firmly in the hands of the military-industrial-complex. We will continue to flush ever greater sums and precious lives down the sewer of war-mongering and we will have neither money nor will to do any of the other important things.

War trumps everything. Being a war president means that he will never be the people’s president that we worked so hard to elect.

Michael Sky | ThinkingPeace