By Stephen Lendman, Senior Contributing Editor
Promising change after eight Bush/Republican years, Obama delivered betrayal. With congressional Democrats, he exceeded Bush’s harshness, lawlessness, belligerency, and public trust betrayal.
He violated every major domestic and foreign issue promise made. As a result, he’s been complicit in:
- looting the nation’s wealth, wrecking the economy, and consigning growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures;
- giving Wall Street crooks greater money power, disguised as financial reform;
- waging multiple imperial wars and occupations, spending more on militarism than the rest of the world combined at a time America has no enemies;
- belligerently ousting Honduran President Manuel Zelaya and Libya’s Gaddafi;
- promoting regime change in Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Lebanon, and elsewhere against independent leaders, while continuing support for the world’s most ruthless, corrupt tyrants;
- presiding over a bogus democracy under a homeland police state apparatus;
- continuing Bush’s worst lawless policies; adding more of his own, including indefinite detentions without charge, and deploying Special Forces death squads in over 120 countries to kill targeted suspects, including Americans;
- targeting whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, Latino immigrants, and environmental and animal rights activists called terrorists;
- illegally spying on Americans more aggressively than Bush;
- destroying decades of hard won labor rights;
- waging class war to destroy Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, public and private pensions, as well as other New Deal and Great Society gains;
- wanting more aggressive media control than Nixon, according to veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas;
- stiff-arming budget-strapped states and distressed households;
- four years into a Main Street Depression, none of the millions of promised new jobs were created at a time real unemployment approaches 23%.
- imposing austerity when vital stimulus is needed;
- planning new cuts to sustain Wall Street, militarism, favoritism, waste, fraud, and other rewards for America’s top 1%;
- wanting education commodified, government’s responsibility for it ended, and making it another business profit center;
- enacting healthcare reform that taxes more, provides less, places profits above human need, and leaves a broken system in place; and
- promoting “shared sacrifice,” forcing worker sacrifices to let America’s super-rich share.
As a result, Occupy Wall Street (OWS) protests fill hundreds of cities nationwide, raging against an unjust system too corrupted to fix. OWS activists “protest for an American revolution,” because nothing less will work. Mayors deploy goon squads against them. Violent police crackdowns follow.
On October 26, Oakland, CA police attacked nonviolent protesters with tear gas, flash grenades, beanbag shotguns, and rubber bullets. Officers also threatened use of unspecified “chemical agents.”
Palestine came to Oakland’s 14th and Broadway. Veterans Against War member Scott Olsen sustained a serious skull fracture when struck on the head by a tear gas canister. He remains hospitalized awaiting surgery.
Ahead of the incident, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan defended city police, saying:
“I commend Chief Jordan for a generally peaceful resolution to a situation that deteriorated and concerned our community.”
Later she defended police violence, claiming they acted defensively. She lied. So did police officials saying protesters threw rocks, bottles and paint.
Across America, police violence and brutality are commonplace. Daily incidents occur. On January 1, 2009, Oakland police murdered Oscar Grant. Videotape evidence proved it. Five bystanders taped it.
Cops rarely are held accountable, even for cold-blooded murder. Endemic police violence brutalizes Americans. Eye-witness and videotape evidence shows nonviolent people tasered with 50,000 electrical volts. Deaths and injuries result.
Other incidents involve false arrests, painful cuffing, beatings, shootings, tear gas, stun grenades, rubber bullets, menacing attack dogs, and other forms of violence against society’s most vulnerable. They include people of color, students, workers, and others wanting social justice.
On February 4, 1999, New York cops shot African immigrant Amadou Diallo 41 times. Nineteen bullets struck and killed him while he stood unarmed peacefully in the vestibule of his apartment building.
On December 4, 1969, Chicago police murdered Black Panther activists Fred Hampton and Mark Clark while they slept.
Thousands of other nonviolent political victims fill America’s gulag prison system, the world’s largest by far.
In 1994, Congress passed the Police Accountability Act. It was incorporated into the 1994 Violent Crime and Law Enforcement Act, requiring compilation of national data on excessive police force. Nonetheless, Congress refused to fund it.
Moreover, local police aren’t required to keep records and submit them on Justice Department request. Nor is police violence and excessive force criminalized. Enforcement mechanisms are absent, and national security and border integrity related matters have carte blanche authority to commit murder.
Anything perhaps also goes to protect Wall Street and other corporate favorites from beneficial social change.
DOJ/FBI Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) data include thousands of police misconduct reports, many thousands of affected victims, hundreds of fatalities, and an average 15 or more known daily incidents, or one very 96 minutes.
This, in fact, represents the tip of the iceberg as data collection falls way short. Evidence also shows coverups, lax discipline, and failure to adhere to official policies and processes.
As a result, serious civil rights violations are commonplace, and why not. America became a police state, especially post-9/11 when repressive laws trashed constitutional freedoms.
The USA Patriot Act alone violates key Bill of Rights protections, including:
- Fifth and Fourteen Amendment due process rights by permitting indefinite detentions of undocumented immigrants that now apply to anyone anywhere in the world, including US citizens for any reason or none at all.
- First Amendment freedom of association rights the Supreme Court considers essential free expression. Now anyone may be charged and prosecuted for their alleged association with an “undesirable group.”
- Fourth Amendment protections from unreasonable searches and seizures. As a result, personal privacy rights were lost.
- Authorized unchecked government surveillance powers to access personal records, monitor financial transactions, as well as student, medical and other personal records.
“Sneak and peak” searches are now permissible through:
- “delayed notice” warrants;
- email tracking; and
- internet and cell phone surveillance.
- secret evidence may be obtained lawlessly and withheld from defense lawyers;
- immigrants may be denied their right to counsel if unable to provide their own; and
- built-in safeguards are ended to let domestic criminal and foreign intelligence operations share information so CIA can now spy domestically.
For the first time, in fact, the Act also created the federal crime of “domestic terrorism,” applicable to US citizens as well as aliens.
It states criminal law violations are considered domestic terrorist acts if they aim to “influence (government policy) by intimidation or coercion (or) intimidate or coerce a civilian population.”
As a result, anti-war, global justice, environmental and animal rights activism, civil disobedience, and dissent of any kind, including OWS protests, may be called “domestic terrorism.”
Notably under the Patriot Act’s Section 806, with no hearing or notice, authorities may confiscate or freeze all foreign and domestic assets of any individual, entity, or organization accused of engaging in, planning, supporting, concealing, or perpetrating any act called domestic or international terrorism against America – even by protesting nonviolently.
Other provisions are just as harsh, using vague language. It gives authorities wide latitude to twist the law perversely and advantageously against anyone for anything called terrorism, whether or not true.
Bipartisan complicity passed other police state laws. Any may be used against peaceful OWS protesters, especially if their numbers grow and stay the course for uncompromising social changes.
Earlier reports hinted at what’s coming. In December 2007, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination published one titled, “In the Shadows of the War on Terror: Persistent Police Brutality and Abuse of People of Color in the United States,” saying:
“Since this Committee’s 2001 review of the US, during which it expressed concern regarding incidents of police brutality and deaths in custody at the hands of US law enforcement officers, there have been dramatic increases in law enforcement powers in the name of waging the “war on terror (resulting in) the use of excessive force against people of color….(It’s not only continued post-9/11), but has worsened in both practice and severity” – a NAACP representative saying it’s “the worst I’ve seen in 50 years.”
On April 4, 2007, Northwestern University Medill School of Journalism’s Ryan Gallagher headlined, “Study: Police abuse goes unpunished,” saying:
From 2002 – 2004, over “10,000 complaints of police abuse were filed with Chicago police….but only 19 resulted in meaningful disciplinary action, a new study asserts.”
According to Gerald Frazier, president of Citizens Alert, it reflects “not only the appearance of influence and cover-up,” but clear evidence that city residents are being abused, not protected, despite the department’s official motto being “We Serve and Protect.”
Police notoriously attack nonviolent global justice protests against the IMF, World Bank, G-8, G-20, and WTO. Others demonstrating peacefully at national political conventions also harsh police crackdowns and mass arrests.
In 2005, the New York ACLU’s “Rights and Wrongs at the RNC,” reported on New York police attacking peaceful protesters at the Republican National Convention.
Free expression and assembly rights were denied. Over 1,800 arrests were made, including observers, members of the media and bystanders, the most ever at a national political convention.
Mistreatment resulted, including detentions in unsafe conditions, denial of medical care, painful handcuffing for long periods, and other lawless abuses.
At issue is protecting wealth and privilege from populist change. Social justice activism is suppressed. Those with power want to keep it. Nothing’s yielded unless forced.
Wall Street tops the pecking order. Money power in private hands to make more of it lets them occupy and control Washington.
What they want, they get. Ordinary people lose out. Rage against the system demands change. Getting it requires focusing on issue one – returning money power to public hands as the Constitution’s Article 1, Section 8 mandates.
Succeeding demands organized people putting their bodies on the line against police violence. Key is staying the course, knowing that social justice depends on returning money power to public hands where it belongs.
If that’s achieved, everything else is possible. Otherwise, it’s not!
A Final Comment
On October 25, a new Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report showed America’s richest 1% tripled their income from 1979 – 2007. They also doubled their national income share at the expense of the bottom 80% losing out.
Findings also concluded that the top 20% of US households increased their national income share. The other 80% declined. Inequality grew to unprecedented levels.
People of color and youths are hardest hit. Notably the study ended before Main Street’s Depression began in 2008. Updated findings will show greater than ever disparities.
Obama’s done nothing to address them. He’s beholden solely to America’s monied interests, notably those on Wall Street.
In the 1960s, economist Arthur Okum began calculating America’s Misery Index by adding unemployment and inflation rates for a sense of public pain or lack of it in good times.
In October, it hit a record high above 25%, exceeding its May 2011 25% and earlier June 1980 22% peaks. Given current conditions absent policy measures to improve them, analysts see it going higher.
Yet, on October 18, Obama outrageously told ABC News he supports OWS protesters, saying:
“The most important thing we can do right now (is) letting people know that we understand their struggles and we are on their side….”
For nearly three years, he systematically waged war on working Americans, targeted organized labor for destruction, and focused solely serving wealth and power.
That’s his legacy of shame. Polls show OWS protesters know it. Some people can be fooled some of the time, others all of it.
However, Fordham University Professor Costas Panagopoulos surveyed New York protesters and found three-fourths angry about Obama’s performance.
His research’s only surprise is that all of them don’t condemn his fealty to Wall Street and other corporate favorites at their expense.
Give it time. Perhaps later nationwide OWS surveys will show practically no one supports him. Why should they when he spurns them on all issues mattering most.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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