Posts Tagged Obama

On the Father of the Muslim-American War Hero

Khizr Khan speaks during the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia

Khizr Khan, whose son, Humayun S. M. Khan was one of 14 American Muslims who died serving in the U.S. Army in the 10 years after the 9/11 attacks, offers to loan his copy of the Constitution to Republican U.S. presidential nominee Donald Trump, as he speaks while a relative looks on during the last night of the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S. July 28, 2016.

At the Democratic National Convention last week Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party pulled at the stops in order to gain traction and win points with nearly all segments of American society, which is a diverse bunch. One way of doing so was to bring in the father of a Muslim American “war hero” who brought the Democratic National Convention to its feet on Thursday night with his impassioned rebuke of Donald Trump and his anti-Muslim rhetoric.

Pakistan-born Khan, 65, appeared on stage at Wells Fargo Arena, the site of the Democratic convention, with his wife, Ghazala, at his side. He spoke of the heroism of his son, Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004 by an advancing vehicle loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives. The 27-year-old soldier, who was born in the UAE, ordered his unit to halt while he walked toward the vehicle, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers from the ensuing explosion.

While I stand in full solidarity with Mr. Khan and feel deeply saddened by the loss of his son at the hands of our war mongering politicians, including Hillary Clinton whom he, ironically, supports, I ask myself: what about the parents and loved ones of all those Muslims who died at the hands of President Obama’s as well as Hillary Clinton’s  actions and policies in the Middle East?

Am I supposed to be impressed and touched that these self proclaimed men and women of honor bring in a token Muslim to their convention to show their solidarity with Muslim-Americans while at the same time, and behind closed doors and as we speak, they have ordered another round of drone attacks to those very parts?

I understand that this was Clinton’s way to put a human face onto the people who are the target of Trump’s vitriol and hateful rhetoric, but why does no one talk about all the Muslims Clinton and Obama got killed with their actions, including drone strikes?

Their lives matter, too. They loved their children, too. Who is listening to their pain? Who is lowering the flags for them? Who is inviting them to talk and giving them a chance to be heard?

I am bothered by how gullible and easily fooled people are. How superficially they look at issues, how a bit of fanfare, smiles and hugs and a few words of select wisdom are enough to win them over and embrace a candidate who has not only voted for the very fraudulent Iraq war Mr. Khan’s son died in (for nothing, if I may add) but who beats the drums to war as we speak and has no intention to stop US meddling and killing in the Middle East.

Clinton believes that this (token) Muslim she paid off to support her campaign was her being the epitome of decency and inclusion, when in reality  what she is doing is just using Muslims becasue it is politically expedient.

The truth is, each year thousands of Muslims, you know, the very brethren in faith of Mr. Khan,  die at the hands of our troops whose missions have been signed off and approved by the likes of President Obama and, later to be, Hillary Clinton. Each year dozens, if not hundreds, of families are torn apart, killed, separated and rendered destitute  due to the military actions our leaders sign off on. The current refugee crisis in Europe did not just take place in a vacuum or was brought on by itself. We had a lot to do with it.

To see no one talk about or mention that and instead celebrate Hillary Clinton as if she wasn’t a war monger who has voted for every military action in the Middle East she could vote on and who has called Palestinians in Gaza, terrorists, is disturbing and appalling.

Furthermore, by inviting these Muslim parents and using their tragedy for political gain (which, in and of itself is a pretty deplorable)  both Clinton and Obama just reinforce the binary of choice forced on Muslims: pacifism or violence. Most may not realize but by consistently putting onus on Muslims to ‘solve’ ISIS, our leaders  absolve any part US government policies have played and continue to play in the growth, cultivation and influence of ISIS.

Words are important, showing solidarity to the battered Muslim community is important – but don’t expect me to be grateful when you show up and tell me you support Muslims while you surveil, imprison and kill their kin.

Seeing so many American Muslims just eat up the words by Khan and, by extension, giving their support to Clinton and sing praise to her whilst ignoring this government’s policies (you know, the stuff that has actual impact on actual lives) is disappointing, albeit expected.

The sad thing is that Trump’s fascism and obscene Muslimophobia have created the kind of situation where Democrats do not, in fact, have to worry about addressing the deeper issues of military action, and specifically drone strikes, in the Middle East in any meaningful way.

The majority of Democrats in both House and Senate support the use of drone strikes that have proven to result in devastating civilian losses. Yet, it appears as though all they had to do is just invite a token Muslim to the table, throw around a few words about inclusion of the Muslim community, and they are guaranteed our votes. In other words, all they have to do is NOT be a vitriol spewing hater such as Trump, and they got it made. No need to examine the larger issues of foreign policy, specifically  as pertaining to the Middle East and the use of drones to kill those Muslims they pretend to care about. Just do not be Trump and you got their vote.

And, of course, someone who questions that is dismissed and called a Republican enabler whose continued criticism of Democrats is going to cost Clinton the election.

 

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Misplaced Priorities

President Barack Obama formally vetoed legislation authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on today, the latest development in what has become an ongoing standoff between him and congressional Republicans over approval of the controversial pipeline.

At the same time, there is all sorts of hell breaking loose over immigration and President Obama’s deportation relief which allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children temporary authorization to stay and work. The plans  are currently on hold, because twenty-six states, led by Texas, sued the federal government to block those actions, and a federal judge sided with them in issuing a preliminary injunction. But it was not a final ruling on the constitutionality of Obama’s action. Instead, the order will prevent the policies from moving forward as the lawsuit proceeds. The federal government is expected to appeal.

Congressional Republicans are committed to gutting the immigration policies as part of a funding package for the Department of Homeland Security, thus holding thousands of DHS employees hostage to extort a concession out of the President. Should Obama and Democrats keep their promises to block the Republicans’ package, DHS could shut down on Feb. 27. Republicans want Democrats to approve a bill that would fund DHS and stop Obama’s immigration executive actions from moving forward.

Republicans say the blame should be put on Democrats if a shutdown occurs. But a majority of Americans think the GOP would be to blame rather than the president, according to a CNN poll released Tuesday.

What a clusterfuck.

But I have to say: Keystone pipeline and immigrants. Who the fuck cares?

What about tax relief for the middle class instead of just for millionaires?

What about closing tax loopholes so rich people and corporations pay the taxes they should?  That would take care of our deficit problem in no time.

What about a national debate over minimum wages and increasing them to something resembling a livable wage (not that $10 or even $15 an hour are livable wages).

What about the fact that over the past few years abortion rights have been restricted in an unprecedented manner?

What about student loan relief and bail outs?

How about not appointing bankers and Wall-street execs into key government positions, Mr. President?

These should be our priorities –  not illegal immigrants and a freaking pipeline.

It is good to see that no matter what the occasion, the President’s priorities are always messed up. Choose your battles. I could not give two shits about whether immigrants get to stay or not. when there are far more pressing issues at stake here. What does he want all these immigrants here, if they are not going to get paid a decent, livable wage anyway? What about people who are here right now and struggling? Shouldn’t his limited time, resources and energies be spent on more pressing issues? I am so sick of the misplaced priorities by even so-called allies.

For months now it’s been about these issues. If he cares about the environment, then how about holding BP accountable and criminally charging them? How about giving more funding and authority to the EPA so that they can go after polluters? How about tightening environmental legislation by imposing stricter standards? Who the fuck cares about the Keystone Pipeline? Not that it is not an issue, but if environmental protection and human health is the priority here, then there are far more urgent issues we need to tackle than the Keystone pipeline. Obama knows that, as we speak, Republicans are gearing up to destroy the middle class even more so than they have done in order to enrich the wealthy some more. So shouldn’t he be spending his resources and priorities accordingly? Shouldn’t he be choosing his battles more wisely, instead of on immigration and the building of a pipeline?

Priorities. We don’t have them.

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How Gullible Are You?

After a three month hiatus I am back and what better way to start off the quest for knowledge, wisdom and non bullshittery than to ask yourself this very simple question: How gullible are you?

10942607_1429185550706710_5682680835405031896_nAre you gullible enough to believe that the billion galaxy universe was just created for us?

Are you gullible enough to believe that a god would impregnate a poor peasant girl to give birth to himself so he can then grow up and die for a bunch of sins that he created in the first place so that one day he may come down and die for them to prove a point? (Are you officially lost amid this convoluted clusterfuck way of thinking here? Um, yeah, so am I)

Are you gullible enough to believe that Islam is a wonderfully peaceful religion that is merely misunderstood?

Are you gullible enough to believe that ideas, even bad ideas  – and religion is full of bad ideas – do not influence the people we become? The decisions we make and the priorities we set?

Are you gullible enough to believe that corporations are people? That money does not influence political outcomes?

Are you gullible enough to believe that giving rich people tax exemptions so they can hide their wealth in offshore accounts creates jobs and helps some worker stuck in a minimum wage paying slow death improve their standard of living?

Are you gullible enough to believe that wealthy people are wealthy because they work for it instead of being the laziest, greediest, most opportunistic moochers that they are, who exploit the system, with proficiency and profligacy about which poor would-be swindlers can only dream?

Are you gullible enough to seriously think that beliefs and the ideas that inform them are beyond criticism and above reproach?

Are you gullible enough to believe that there is an actual marked difference between Democrats and Republicans?

Are you swayed by fluffy and hopeful State of the Union Addresses by our one percent fellating leaders? Are you so enamored by the belief in them that you forget that despite lofty speeches promising to help the middle class, they wanted to (and have in the past) appoint Wall Street executives in key goverment positions, such as President Obama’s nomination of Wall Street executive and banker Antonio Weiss for a top job at the Treasury Department?

Are you gullible enough to believe that one middle-class boosting policy enacted for every twenty pieces of legislation enacted furthering the “causes” of millionaires, bankers, corporations and oil companies, will bring us a step closer to the direly needed changes we need? That such half-assed steps will strengthen the middle class?

Are yo gullible enough to believe that giving more tax breaks to millionaires is good for all us?

Are yo gullible enough to think that most millionaires are even paying any taxes?

Are you gullible enough to believe that placing health care in the hands of private corporate entities that do not give two shits about your health but instead care a whole lot of about the bottom line, was better for people? Or constitutes health care reform?

Are you gullible enough to believe that the Republican party stands for anything else beside hate, greed and bigotry?

Are you gullible enough to seriously believe that the solution to the crisis we face today with respect to a diminishing middle class is corporatist Hilary Clinton?

Are you gullible enough to believe that a Senate that actually votes on whether climate change is real or not can be trusted with accomplishing anything meaningful for this country and its people?

So exactly how gullible are you?

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Aaand Here We Go Again

US-ATTACKS-9/11-MEMORIAL-OBAMAIt is a proud, proud moment for war mongers – Republican and Democrat alike  – because President Obama – you know, this amazing shining beacon of Progressivism and the man who was going to do things differently and bring about change we can truly believe and who was supposed to finally be the person to break us out of bad habits such as engaging in fabricated, pointless, illegitimate and not well-thought-out wars that do nothing but suck up our resources and create a milieu ripe for extremists and other such scum that keep targeting us and our people – finally became yet another President to announce military engagement in Iraq, this time without trying to pretend we do it for nation building.

Not wanting to be the first President in a long line of Presidents to not announce military airstrike in Iraq, President Obama proudly announced a bombing campaign in Iraq stating equally proudly that the United States has taken the first step in its planned expanded fight against Islamic State militants (ISIS)  going to the “aid” (uh-huh) of Iraqi security forces near Baghdad who were being attacked by enemy fighters.

The U.S. Central Command said it conducted two airstrikes Sunday and Monday in support of the Iraqi forces near Sinjar and southwest of Baghdad.

A vote on the broader use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) isn’t expected to happen until after Election Day because, of course not. First you lie to the public with lofty speeches and then once you got their votes, you turn around and do what you wanted to do all along by saying something about national security and changing priorities.

The White House feels good about the chances for getting authorization for the package through Congress, a senior administration official said. Obama spoke with lawmakers from both parties on Monday and, according to the official, is personally gratified that he has received support from Republican and Democratic leaders for the proposal.

warAccording to the White House, officials weren’t sure the idea would receive bipartisan support with the public still wary of military action following the Bush years. But, the official said, congressional leaders expressed bipartisan agreement for that path forward during an Oval Office meeting last week with Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

Boehner and Obama spoke last Wednesday on the telephone and have cooperated in trying to move the package forward — a sharp shift from the chilliness over much of the last year.

It is interesting that there is bipartisan support for the President’s plan (always a sign that something is amiss because if Republicans are for it, it cannot be good) because nothing brings politicians together more than war and, of course, one is not bound to find a Republican who never met a war he didn’t like.

The only extent to which Republicans and Democrats differ from one another in this is that Republicans worry the military actions  will not go far enough (66%) whereas by contrast, 54% of Democrats say their bigger concern is that it will go too far.

This is amazing: we now have gone straight from nation building to military building and we are not even trying to pretend otherwise anymore.

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Of course, the bigger question to ask – and which everyone on Capitol Hill and the White House refuses to ask –  is whether we really think that bombing Iraq once again, thus undoubtedly causing the deaths of countless innocent people and creating the kind of havoc only war can create, to maybe get a few ISIS operatives is going to put an end to ISIS.

The thing is  that ISIS is the symptom of a larger problem. You bomb and kill them, two new groups will grow in their place in no time and the cycle continues.

That is why military action in such a short-sighted, knee-jerk manner is not the answer. We need to step back and rethink our strategy toward the Middle East altogether, not engage in those very acts that created the milieu that gave rise to entities like ISIS in the first place.

I am afraid that all this will do is perpetuate the violence, create an even bigger disdain for the US and, worse of all, cost the lives of countless innocent people as collateral damage before we are back at square one.

Not to mention that we cannot afford this. Our last engagement in Iraq nearly bankrupted us, we cannot afford another war, however short-lived it allegedly may be. And it will not be short-lived. Once you are in, once you start arming rebels and becoming part of the deal, there is no easy way out. You are bound to stay around to continue and finish what you started. It took us nearly a decade to get out of Iraq (and we are still not really fully out) and we are still in Afghanistan.

I am absolutely terrified and appalled that going to war has become such an easy thing to do with our lawmakers.

We are such a disgraceful country and seem to seriously have no other priorities besides stealing from the masses to get a few people rich and go to wars.

We keep insisting that we do not have the funds to feed our hungry and, therefore, slash food-stamps and welfare programmes; that we cannot extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed; that we cannot increase the minimum wage (as we speak, Republicans have blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act once again); over the past six or seven years, Republicans have fought tooth and nail to make sure we do not get the Affordable Care Act which makes affordable health care accessible to everyone; we claim we do not have the money to build on, strengthen and expand our social safety net programs and enact a host of middle-class strengthening policies citing lack of resources and a deficit (which, ironically, was created, among other things,  by being in a perpetual state of war); we say we cannot regulate polluters and strengthen regulatory agencies to safeguard the environment and with it our health, slashing their funding, but somehow we seem to be able to always find copious amounts of money to engage in yet another expensive military strike under questionable rationales.

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Quote of the Day

When I was secretary, we had basically a two-war strategy. We had to maintain sufficient forces to be able to fight two wars at once. He switched that. Now we’re going to have a one-war strategy. And that’s all being done as a rationale to justify further deep cuts in the defense budget so he can allocate that money to food stamps or whatever else he wants to spend it on.

Dick-Cheney-1-300x214Dick Cheney criticizing President Obama for prioritizing feeding people over waging wars.

If there ever was any doubt that Republicans do not believe people are entitled to food, what Dick Cheney, former Vice President and eternal war mongering war criminal at large, had to say at an energy industry trade show in Billings, Montana should put all those doubts – and denials – to rest.

If I had not read it, I would not believe that someone is and can be so openly callous so as to state, as a matter-of-factly and with a straight face, that spending money to feed human beings is a waste as that money could be better used engaging in wars.

The thing that is truly disturbing is that he is so cavalier and smug about this. There is not even any pretense to caring about peoples’ lives and the human cost of war. I can almost picture him saying this with the demeanor of a bad cop with a wicked grin who just wants anyone to give him a reason.

Another thing to note, of course, is that President Obama does not and has not prioritized the poor and hungry over anything. He was the architect behind the Draconian sequester (thinking that if he makes it cut-throat enough, it would turn away even Republicans. Little did he know), he failed to close down Gitmo, he continues to support and sign off on the use of drones and, if I recall, he personally signed an $8.7 billion food stamp cut into law!!

So, on the one hand you got this sorry excuse for a human being named Dick Cheney declare, without shame and compunction, that spending money on feeding people as opposed to going to war was a waste and on the other hand you got him accusing the President for having done precisely that when the President has clearly not ever put the poor and hungry before any other cause, including war, the defense budget, Wall Street and private industry in general.

Thirty years ago Obama would have been a proud candidate for the Republican party, palling around side-by-side Ronald Reagan. He is not a liberal, no matter how many times people repeat that. It is just that the Republican party of yesteryear is gone and what has remained has moved substantially more to the Right, getting greedier and more Orwellian than ever, in turn making someone like Obama look like a Liberal.

Conservative hypocrisy and callousness truly have no bounds.

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Just One of Us

1399331510298.cachedIt is so sweet and reassuring, really, that Michelle Obama is such a down to earth kinda woman spending her time as the First Lady working on important issues such as cutting the ribbon on the newly redesigned Costume Institute wing dedicated to fashion maven and tastemaker Anna Wintour.

Public service at its best.

I guess there is a sincere logic in the notion that if you, as the First Lady and representative of your country, look great wearing expensive designer couture and hair-dos, going to talk shows and hanging out with the elite Hollywood crowd and sport things like $800 a pair of Jimmy Choos while posing on the cover of Vogue magazine a mere week after your husband unleashed a devastating Sequester onto the neediest of the American people, you inspire these very people to aspire to be something more, thus working oh so hard to pull themselves up by their bootstraps – or in this case – their Jimmy Choo strappy sandal straps.

Just like she were one of us. A true woman of the people.

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Another 1%er Event

It is becoming increasingly more evident that regular folks in this country, you know, your average taxpaying, working middle-class stiff, the ones that are keeping this economy and country, really, going – from their occupations as teachers, in the service industry to non-profit work etc., do not matter very much.

I said it before and I say it again, but for the one percent that run this country, middle class folks seemingly are nothing more than readily sources of warm bodies when you need to engage in another war for profit under the guise of security.

They are a a source of tax revenue to support and underwrite the 1%.

If, as a one percenter, they have done a good job choosing the two lousy candidates for them and then giving them the illusion that they have a “choice” on the day they go out and cast a vote (see Citizens United)  then they are a “vote” to help “elect” your candidate and if you have done a really good job, as Republicans have with their voter base, you not only give them the delusion that they have a choice between candidates but you actually get them to vote for the very candidate, and thus against their own self-interest, you put on the ballot.

Everytime there is a cut in government spending, the middle class and the poor, of course, have to make sacrifices and see the programs and policies that benefit and protect them slashed and reduced,  not the wealthy and thus the architects of our economic system that keeps the wealthy tax exempt under the guise that they are “job creators” while repeatedly requiring that cuts to government spending (because of lost revenue due to those tax exemptions) come from those very middle class protecting programs.

While the white collar criminals of Wall Street and the banking system got bailed out instead of imprisoned for the crimes they committed, poor people, and thus Wall Street’s direct and indirect victims, are sent to jail for essentially being poor.

And when our so-called leaders and politicians open the doors to let America “in” for a night of celebration, laughter good times and appreciation, the only ones invited to the table, literally, are members of the 1%.

It is, after all, no coincidence that the yearly White House Correspondent’s Dinner (WHCD)  resembles a Hollywood red carpet event and that everyone in that event, except those serving food and beverages, are members of the one percent. 

It is sad to know that the average American is not on the President’s radar even when he  decides to decide to hang out with the public. 

Instead of inviting over some of those hard working average American citizens, the ones that did the grunt work and got him elected, to shake hands with and thank them for their truly thankless jobs and positions and pressure in society, he instead surrounds himself with top members of the elite cracking jokes.

It is ironic that on the one hand we’ve got the Occupy Wall Street movement, with demands for equity and relief for the middle class, the 99%, – an event and movement the President and his wife endorse, while on the other hand any event of any significance in this country, including this Dinner, is hosted and populated by the wealthy and privileged, the 1% only.

The 99% only seem to matter in as much as they make for great talking point or otherwise help score political points and not because anyone really actually cares about changing the current paradigm, the current dysfunction with respect to structural exploitation and institutionalized greed in this country that have allowed the 1% to accumulate more wealth than the rest of us combined.

There are thousands of people who dedicate every day of their lives to not only public service but to their townships, counties, states and communities in general – one way or another. They are the backbone of America, they are the people the President allegedly works for and leads. They are the ones who, through their hard work, such as teachers, champion the very causes this Dinner is to honor and uphold – yet the only ones who once again get to benefit from all this, even if just in a celebratory manner, are rich people; the 1% – literally – as everyone at that dinner is a millionaire – without exception, because otherwise who could afford something like $50,000 a plate just to get in?

Not that I don’t love the outrage about economic injustice for us poor, hard working middle class folks when it’s politically expedient and all but it’d be nice if the actual American people – you know, the 99%  – such as the journalists meant to be holding the US government to account, the non-profit workers, the public servants, the researchers, activists and just the people on the ground who work everyday on these issues for Americans without anyone paying much attention to them –  were, once in a while,  invited to the table and celebrated by our leaders, instead of actors, reality TV stars and models – who neither represent the American people, nor have contributed in any meaningful way to the political and social world they are in,

Speak of being out of touch. Romney is not the only one.

Money begets money and at the end of the day, when all the political talking points and phony strategizing to supposedly empower the 99% have been made, rich people still only take care of and intermingle with their own.

All this talk about empowering the 99% and leveling the playing field are just that: rhetoric. No one really means it and The White House Correspondent’s Dinner is the best example to the point.

The United States would be a very different place if everyone cared about inequity when there wasn’t a presidential election in which appearing to care about inequity could score political points.

 

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