Posted tagged ‘George W Bush’

01.29.17 Watch your words

January 29, 2017

What we call things makes a difference (note the Tea Party use of “Death Panels” — this was no accident). Here are two vocabulary changes I am now adopting:

  • I will not refer to the cabal that temporarily rules our country as an “administration” or “government.” Rather it will always be “Trump regime,” “GOP regime,” and (when I think even that is too gentle), “fascist regime.” Regime conveys the illegitimacy of the racist authoritarians in power and their contempt for the norms of democracy and rule of law.
  • I will make few, if any, further references to Great Britain or the United Kingdom. It is the racists of England who produced Brexit, just as the racists of the United States brought us our regime. The other nations that make up the UK had nothing to do with it. And as England carries this noxious policy through (led by PM Theresa May, who has appointed herself Trump’s lapdog, making even the ever- docile Tony Blair’s relationship with W look well adjusted), Scotland will certainly leave. So, “Little England” will be left (perhaps with its own lapdog, Wales, and perhaps with Northern Ireland in order to keep the Troubles from erupting again). Little England is a contemptuous moniker for a once-great nation that will deserve the international isolation it ends up with.

I maintain a “boycott list”: countries I will never set foot in because their people have chosen a path of racism, authoritarianism, and/or aggression. I am hereby adding Little England to that list, which now includes Austria, Hungary, Israel, Poland, and Russia. (Elections in Russia are hardly free and fair, but with Putin’s astronomical approval ratings, we know where the Russian people stand.) If I weren’t a US citizen, this country would certainly be on my boycott list, at least until the current regime were replaced.

©2017 Keith Berner

04.17.16 Bernie Sanders for President (with caveats)

April 17, 2016

Bernie Sanders represents my values. It’s about time we had a national leader who is not only willing but eager to speak truth to power. Sanders is right to describe our economic and political systems as rigged for the wealthy and powerful (who, of course, are usually the same). He is right to condemn corporate corruption. He is right to speak out against a Democratic Party establishment (currently embodied by the odious DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz) that has tried repeatedly to rig the current presidential campaign in favor of the establishment candidate, Hillary Clinton.

From a progressive-values standpoint, Sanders has very few flaws. He didn’t suddenly discover the moral catastrophe of economic inequality because of pressure during this campaign. He has been speaking up for the left-out, the “little people,” ever since he ran for mayor of Burlington, decades ago. Before that, he was an active participant in the civil rights movement. (Hints from Clinton supporters like [for shame!] Congressman John Lewis [D-GA] that he might have been insufficiently so, have been proven a lie.) His own integrity and incorruptibility are beyond question.

The only less-than-bright spot in Bernie Sanders is his relative lack of enthusiasm for gun control, which is hardly surprising for a politician from a rural state. Attempts by Clinton to portray Sanders as a gun nut, though, are wildly off the mark.

So, why have I lacked passion in my support for Sanders for president? Partly, it’s because I assumed he never had a chance. Party, it has been my assumption that his nomination would doom the Democrats in November. (I have softened on this as his poll numbers against Trump and Cruz have remained higher than Clinton’s; though I still believe that his numbers would drop significantly under a full-throttled GOP onslaught.)

I have also been thrown by the almost obsessive opposition to Sanders by progressive figures like Nobel laureate and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman. Krugman and others have been hammering away at how Sanders’s economic numbers don’t add up and how he lacks any reasonable plan for getting getting his program through a Congress that has stopped even the decidedly centrist Obama in his tracks.

I find these arguments compelling, but also have to remind myself (and you, dear reader) that almost no political candidate’s numbers add up or plans for success have any chance in the real world. Bernie Sanders’s campaign is aspirational. It is not a legislative program. And, Sanders is right that the only hope for progress in this country is a political revolution. That revolution isn’t going to start in Congress. But it has to start somewhere. If not Bernie Sanders, then who?!

Finally, I have been disturbed by Sanders’s almost complete failure to reach out to and captivate African Americans. I cannot imagine a political revolution in this country that does not include the very people who were the targets of America’s Original Sin and the country’s ongoing indifference to their daily lives and struggle. In creating his campaign, Sanders forgot African Americans and wrote off the South. To some extent, this was a reflection of his own skepticism about his chances. If he wasn’t really trying to win then it hardly mattered if he lost too many states with early primaries.

To some extent, Sanders’s blindness to building a real “rainbow coalition” (to use a phrase that ended up sounding empty in Jesse Jackson’s mouth), like his stance on guns, is a result of decades serving a lily-white rural state. Sanders has tried to repair the damage recently and had some success. He is certainly not a bigot himself. But his early failures figure into my relative lack of passion for his candidacy.

The New York State primary campaign has provided an opportunity for me to rekindle some passion. Sanders has shown his typical, unusual courage in speaking out against Israeli policy and Prince of Darkness Benyamin Netanyahu ­– in Brooklyn of all places! Sure, college students have been pushing for boycotts and some progressive Jewish leaders have been denouncing AIPAC and Likud. But an actual elected official speaking the truth about Israel? And a Jewish one, at that? Unheard of! (Your blogger is also Jewish, but foremost a humanist.) This alone reinforces my commitment to support Sanders over a Clinton, whose whole family swears allegiance not only to AIPAC and Likud, but also to the butchers in Cairo (Mubarak and Sisi) and Riyadh.

Hillary Clinton, meanwhile is a poster child for most of what is wrong in our political system and country. I’m glad she has moved decidedly left in the course of this campaign, under pressure from Bernie Sanders and his supporters. She says she now opposes free-trade-at-all-costs and Wall St. dominance. Her utterances on this and other topics are encouraging, if not wholly persuasive. (Remember, Barack Obama appointed Wall St. and the NSA to run his administration after sounding very different during his campaign.)

As I have written, I have particular loathing for the Clintons because their hubris leads them over and over again to waste political capital on scandals of their own making. Open the books on Whitewater in 1992 and there is no impeachment. Admit to flawed judgment and release all the emails in 2015 and “Emailgate” disappears. Release transcripts of the Goldman Sachs speeches and you start to climb out of the hole your politically incompetent decision to feed at that trough dug in the first place.

I will never understand how African Americans managed to forgive the Clintons for the explicitly racist campaign Bill ran on Hillary’s behalf in 2008, and the implicit racism of Hillary’s dog whistles for the folks who now support Trump in places like West Virginia and Pennsylvania. Now we have the spectacle of Bill’s shouting down Black Lives Matter protesters last week. (The thought of that man running loose in the White House gives me the [slick] willies.)

(I accept Hillary’s denunciation of the 1994 crime bill. Everyone has learned a lot since then, including her. This is a case where she should be applauded for growth, rather than condemned for flip-flopping.)

To the extent that Clinton’s consistent progressive rhetoric this campaign season can be believed, there remains one area of profound difference between her and Sanders: foreign policy. Clinton voted for the Iraq War and has tried to distance herself from that decision only out of political expediency. Her embrace of military intervention in Libya more recently shows a continued arrogance (your blogger was torn on the issue at the time for humanitarian reasons, but was not secretary of state). It’s not not only that Clinton puts too much stock in military solutions; it is also that she believes in an American mission to remake the world. Hillary Clinton is a neocon. The fact that the GOP neocon establishment has recently hinted at supporting her in November should give more circumspect foreign policy analysts pause.

(Your blogger is not an isolationist and has some fear that Sanders could be too much of one. As destructive as US involvement in the world has usually been, the chaos that would result from complete US disengagement would not be pretty.)

A Democrat better win in November. The stakes for anyone to the left of Attila the Hun are higher this year than perhaps ever in American history. Unlike in the disaster years of 1980 and 2000, Democrats now have precious few holds on power across the country. Even as the national GOP is providing an amusing political spectacle this year, right-wing freaks own outright a substantial majority of governorships, state legislatures, and school boards from coast to coast. A slightly unbalanced Supreme Court has broadly expanded the powers of the corporate elite in the past 20 years and game will be up if the GOP gets one more appointment there. The only thing standing in the way of a right-wing extremist abyss is the presidency.

In this context, it is frightening to hear Sanders supporters tout a “Bernie or Bust” line. It’s bad enough that Nader and his supporters deemed Gore the larger evil in 2000, leading to hundreds of thousands dead in Iraq, not to mention W’s myriad other policy disasters, which – at best – will take decades to recover from.

It seems unlikely now that the Democratic nominee will be anyone other than Hillary Clinton. Trump and Cruz may be flawed enough to lose even in the face of an uninspired Democratic electorate or a new Clinton scandal. But if Bernie supporters stay home, or – worse – continue to attack Clinton after the nomination is secured – they create unacceptable risk.

So, why am I still going to vote for Bernie Sanders in the Maryland Democratic primary on April 26? Because his voice still needs to be heard. Also, because if he can manage to win convincingly in the remaining primaries (which I doubt), he could just eke out a victory in July. (If Sanders does not win in New York this Tuesday, I will call publicly for him to tone down the anti-Clinton rhetoric.)

Bernie Sanders is an American hero for raising issues that Democrats have ignored for decades. He is worthy of your vote. But let not your love of Bernie now blind you to the greater imperative of Democratic victory in November.

02.21.16 BREAKING NEWS: WaPo is a right-wing rag

February 21, 2016

The fact that the Washington Post’s editorials are right wing does not, in itself, make the newspaper a rag. And, to be fair, this supposed bastion of the “liberal media” is not all right wing. On social policy, from capital punishment to gay rights to reproductive freedom, WaPo is reliably progressive. It’s all the other topics that get under a progressive’s skin:

  • On foreign policy, the paper is almost always hawkish neocon, ala W, Rumsfeld, and Wolfowitz
  • The paper is virulently anti-labor
  • Its coverage of the local region is wearyingly pro-corporate/pro development.

What makes the paper a rag is mostly the lack of a firewall between its editorial opinions and its news coverage. Two recent instances come to mind.

On January 20, the Post covered Maryland Republican Governor Larry Hogan’s budget under a headline including the words “tax relief.” Last time I checked, the objective term for lower taxes was “reductions” or “cuts.” The moniker “relief” comes directly from Grover Norquist: taxes are ipso facto bad and any reduction in them is about alleviating a burden on the suffering populace.

Another example is on the front page of today’s Metro section (no link provided, because I’m referring to the hard copy), where a headline declares: “Hogan learns to lead his way: Governor finds success while foiling foes’ attempts to vilify him.” On the continuing internal page, the headline reads “Hogan’s moderate agenda leaves Democrats little to attack.”

Neither of these statements is objectively true. First, one can hardly call Hogan’s record a success, when the Democratic legislature just overturned six of his vetoes. Reacting to the last veto override – restoring voting rights to ex-felons – the governor threw a temper-tantrum, unleashing a barrage of hard-right attacks and threats against Democratic lawmakers. Since that outburst, Hogan has taken to name-calling and assaults on legislators’ integrity that have embarrassed even the GOP.

Second, “moderate” is clearly in the eyes of the beholder. Many of us would not consider a refusal to allow citizens to vote moderate at all. (One can disagree with me on this, but the very point I’m making is that the Post is stating its opinion as objective fact.)

Further evidence of the WaPo’s “raggishness” comes from the decreasing quality of its reporting and writing. The newspaper has nearly given up covering the metro area at all. There is a single political reporter (Bill Turque) assigned to 1-million strong Montgomery County, for example, and his writing is usually superficial and vapid. (A county politician I discussed this with yesterday called Turque “lazy.” I think it’s the publication’s fault for allowing him to be.)

I have seen the lack of a firewall between opinions and reporting in the Post for years: consider the decades-long refusal to acknowledge now-County Councilman Marc Elrich’s very existence in print, because they didn’t like his stand on growth (slow it down!) and unions (support them!).

Many, see a recent decline in overall quality since Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post two-and-a-half years ago. The bottom line is that WaPo has gone from being irritating and unprincipled to being an outright embarrassment.

Sadly, there is only one quality daily newspaper left in this country of over 300 million: the New York Times. And even the NYT hardly matters, when most of the country gets its news from Fox, comedy shows, and internet conspiracy theorists. Seeking explanations for the Trump phenomenon? The decline of quality journalism is certainly one of them, with WaPo as Exhibit 1.

©2016 Keith Berner

01.31.16 Heart and head do battle in the Democratic primaries

January 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton is by far the most experienced and qualified candidate for president this year, with background in the White House, the Senate, and as Secretary of State.

Bernie Sanders represents my ideals and aspirations.

Hillary (and Bill) create scandal without crime, when they meet criticism with silence. Their arrogance and sense of entitlement led to Ken Starr and Monica Lewinski as it has to the continued prominence of the “email scandal” this year. If the Clintons had opened the books on Whitewater or said “I blew it and I’m sorry” as soon as the email issue arose, there would have been no festering wound that wasted their political capital and damaged our interests. This same arrogance led Hillary to sell her soul to Wall St. in million dollar speeches even though (1) she didn’t need the money, (2) knew she was going to run for president, and (3) knew (or ought to have) that her actions would hurt her politically.

Bernie is squeaky clean.

Hillary is nearly 100% artifice and focus-group-tested sound bites. (It was distressingly hilarious when her campaign announced a few months ago that she would henceforth be more spontaneous.)

Bernie is authentic. He says what he means and doesn’t pretend to be anyone else.

The Clintons turn nasty when they sense they’re in political trouble. Who can forget their racist campaign in 2008, once they realized that they had underestimated Barack Obama (another sign of their famous arrogance)? The same tic is on display in 2016, with Chelsea Clinton’s lie that Bernie would take away everyone’s health care. (Clinton supporters do the same kind of thing: in yesterday’s Huffington Post, Peter D. Rosenstein twice calls Bernie a liar, just because they happen to disagree.)

Bernie fights fair, exemplified by his refusal in the first Democratic debate this year to carry on about Hillary’s emails or to distort her record and positions.

Hillary couldn’t excite a roomful of kindergarteners hopped on Frosted Flakes. Bernie draws huge, passionate crowds wherever he goes.

I loathe the Clintons. It’s only somewhat about policy. Yeah, I’m very disturbed by Hillary’s hawkishness and history of Wall St. fealty. But what I truly hate is their character: the entitlement, the nastiness, the perpetual handing of rope to their (and our!) enemies. It’s shocking how politically tone deaf these veterans of national politics are. But arrogance and stupidity go hand in hand.

As one after another progressive pundit has made the case against Bernie in recent days, they keep coming back to how unrealistic his plans are. (On Facebook, I recently agreed with Paul Krugman’s argument in the New York Times against “relitigating” health care reform.) Or they point out that Bernie could lose by McGovernite proportions against whatever evil fucker the GOP puts up against him.

Of course, the critique of Bernie’s pie-in-the-sky idealism is on the mark. Faced with a hostile Congress (there’s doubt that even the Democrats would support his plans), there isn’t a chance in hell for single payer or free college tuition. But the flip side of that argument is that all campaigns tout plans that won’t stand a chance in the meat grinder of politics and legislation. What is wrong with painting a picture of where you would like to lead?

As for electability, Bernie’s supporters are right that many recent polls show him running as well or better than Hillary against named GOP opponents. But the flaw in this argument is that the national media has only just begun to beat up on him (thanks, Washington Post for your great leadership on this) and the GOP has mostly ignored him. How will his polling numbers fare when he is in the spotlight as the Democratic nominee? Not well, I assure you.

On the other hand, everyone knows everything about Hillary. There will be no new lines of attack on her. Those of us who loathe her will still loathe her. Those who love her know their lover well and won’t suddenly go fickle. That is, the polling on Hillary is what it is and is not going to change more than marginally in months ahead.

Oh how I want a Bernie Sanders in character and ideals to be our president. Oh how terrified I am that – even if he could pull off the nomination (which remains extremely unlikely) – he could lead us off the cliff in November.

And don’t forget, the left and the Democrats are at the edge of the abyss. Unlike when Ronald Reagan won in 1980 and W pulled off his wins in the aughts, the GOP now has a lock on Congress and a huge majority of states and this year’s party is far to the right of the GOP of even 10 years ago.

The only thing in the way of hard-right government by mandate in this country is a Democratic president in 2017.

I will vote for Bernie in Maryland’s April primary. And I won’t vote for Hillary in November, because I know that Maryland will go blue even without my vote. But if I were in Ohio or Virginia, I’d do what I must to prevent a catastrophe.

I want Bernie to win in Iowa and New Hampshire, because the progressive idealism he represents needs an ever-increasing voice in the national debate.

But after going back and forth on this for year, I’m back where I started: crossing my fingers that Clinton does nothing (more) to self destruct, wins the nomination, and vanquishes the forces of darkness in November.

PS. I contributed to Bernie’s campaign this year and would never give a dime to the Clintons or their wholly owned DNC.

©2016 Keith Berner

05.11.14 Don’t carry Assad’s water

May 11, 2014

An old friend of mine (call him “Joe”) withholds a small part of his federal income taxes every year to protest various US policies and writes an annual letter to the IRS detailing the reasons. This year, his top policy objection was Obama’s promised cruise-missile attack on Syria as punishment for Bashar al-Assad’s alleged chemical-weapons use last year. Joe points to an excellent article by Seymour Hersh in the London Review of Books that sows considerable doubt about Assad’s responsibility for the particular use of sarin gas. With W and the neocons’ manipulation of evidence to justify the unjustifiable in Iraq, I’m with Joe and Hersh at this point: very willing to disbelieve US intelligence and the politicians who decide how to make use of it.

I have trouble with Joe’s selection of this case, though. First, he’s going after a policy that was stopped in its tracks by public opposition in the US and UK. The US attack on Syria never happened, so why waste ink on it as a lead instance of US wrongdoing?

Second, Joe is willing to admit that “Assad may have used chemical weapons in the past” but elsewhere declares that Assad “was not violating international law.” Well, I guess the meaning of “was” is the bone of contention here. For Joe, the fact (which is in dispute) that Assad didn’t use chemical weapons on one occasion absolves Assad of guilt for use on other occasions. In considering Assad’s guilt or innocence under international law, Joe also blithely ignores Assad’s use of mass starvation and cluster munitions against civilians, which are in clear violation of the Geneva Conventions.

Ok. I get the very narrow argument Joe is making. US bluster and threats of violence were uncalled for in response to a single crime that there is reasonable doubt about. Never mind the rest of the crime spree.

Now, Joe and I have a very deep philosophical disagreement. He is almost a pure pacifist, which I’m not. I believe as much in the duty to shoot an individual who is about to kill 100 as I do in an international duty to protect: the responsibility of bystander nations to stop atrocities that (1) they know about and (2) have the means to stop. Though I find US foreign policy to be replete with imperialist aggression and violence against the innocent, this does not, in principle, change my view that the US must sometimes use force to stop evil, as we did in the Balkans (some years too late) and didn’t do in Rwanda. Yes, I distrust US motives and policymakers. No, I do not believe the US can never do good by opposing evil.

Readers of this blog may recall that I ended up opposing US intervention in Syria last year because of a third principle of justified intervention: near certainty that the good to be achieved through such an intervention will outweigh the harm caused. I didn’t believe then and don’t believe now that Obama and those in his administration who supported a war policy had thought for a moment past the initial strikes they planned. They were not bothering to weigh ends, means, and consequences. I ended up believing that this poorly thought-out policy would likely result in a much larger scale of death and suffering than it could possibly prevent. (This mirrors, in part, my well-borne-out opposition to the neocons’ Iraq war: their ideology had so blinded them to the need for advance planning and consideration of consequences that, even if one believed Hussein had WMD [and I admit I allowed myself to be duped in 2003], there was just no possibility that W & Co. could be trusted to conduct a rational and balanced policy around it that would minimize death and suffering.)

Back to Joe. It disturbs me when thinkers and leaders on the left, in their eagerness to oppose the US or imperialism, choose to let other evildoers off the hook — even climb into bed with them. Joe denies that he is aligning himself with Assad by declaring the latter innocent under international law. It sure smells like alignment to me. I find this somewhat analogous to Hugo Chavez, who — in justifiably fearing US aggression against his desire to redress social and economic ills in Venezuela — found the need to make friends with North Korea’s Kims, Zimbabwe’s Mugabe, Putin, and (of course) Assad. Sure, Joe: go after the US, but do you need to carry Assad’s water to do so?

I admire Joe’s withholding of tax payments out of principle. (I don’t make that same decision, because by paying my taxes, I feel better equipped to fight against the Kochs and others who oppose all public expenditures.) There are many things I regret seeing my money go for: US subsidies to industries that drive up food prices or worsen global warming; horrific amounts of spending on unnecessary weapons systems; the money put into the NSA and others who threaten civil liberties; elimination of estate taxes on the mega weathy. Why choose as your #1 target a policy that never was implemented (and which hardly any money was spent on) and make pals with a horrific mass murderer in the process?

PS. “Joe” is a real person, but his views are more nuanced than I present them here. Consider this fiction in order to make a point.

©2014 Keith Berner

11.23.13 Impeach Obama

November 23, 2013

Readers of this blog know  I am not suggesting impeachment based on Obama’s being a Muslim socialist who was born in Kenya. (Oh that he were a socialist!) My bill of goods against the president starts with his right-wing stands on civil liberties (and Wall Street) and ends with his complete, nearly incomprehensible incompetence.

Civil Liberties

Barack Obama lost my enthusiastic support in the summer of 2008, when he switched sides on telecom immunity. Until then, he had supported holding the telcos (led by the always-evil Verizon) accountable for  sharing customers’ private data with the government. Then he suddenly decided  these corporate behemoths were golden. I voted for Obama in 2008 and cried when he won. But I knew then that the man others would accuse of socialism was at best a tepid liberal and at worst a  bonafide right-winger.

Obama has gone on to be the worst civil liberties president in American history. Apart from ending torture (which, granted, is a big deal), this administration has taken nearly all of W’s extra-legal, barely legal, or it’s-legal-because-we-say so surveillance and detention tactics and expanded them. It has pursued a drone war that doesn’t discriminate between the guilty and innocent or US citizens and foreigners. And, of course, there’s the NSA, which has shown the big lie in Obama’s promise to lead the most transparent and open government ever. Obama’s obsession with secrecy has led to the highest number of prosecutions against leakers in history, along with truly frightening attacks on the press, the essential institution for holding government accountable and preserving freedom.

The extent of this president’s obsession is shown by his reaction to Edward Snowden. When Obama backed out of a summit with Vladimir Putin earlier this year, do you think it was because of Putin’s dictatorship, with its attacks on civil society or its encouragement of violence against gays? Hell no! It was because Russia had taken Snowden in. Then, the mere possibility that Snowden might be aboard the Bolivian president’s plane, as it transited Europe in July, was sufficient for the US to get pliant allies to ground the aircraft so that our agents could see for themselves.

Incompetence

After the GOP shut down the government and nearly forced the US to default on its debts this fall, prognosticators were reporting lowest-ever ratings for that party and predicting Democratic gains in 2014. Since then, it is Obama’s ratings that have fallen off a cliff and Democratic candidates are running scared across the country, as they try to figure out how to distance themselves from the president. The political world has reversed course in little more than a month!

The Obamacare disaster not only has the potential to set back the cause of health-care reform for a generation, but has also breathed new life into the right-wing extremists who own most of the land area of the country and one house of Congress. If the GOP takes the Senate next year, there will be one man to blame: Barack Obama.

No, it wasn’t bad enough that the president forgot to pay  attention to whether the rollout of his signature achievement was going to work. He had to compound that self-inflicted wound (a European friend of mine referred to  it as an “own goal” – when a soccer player scores one for the other team) by repeatedly, knowingly lying to the American people about their right to keep their existing policies. What did Obama think – that no one would notice?!

(Substantively, I have no problem with forcing the cancellation of policies that would undermine the whole system. It’s the lying about it that is the problem.)

So then Obama tried to undo the damage by announcing a “fix” that will allow people to keep these lousy policies. And immediately, analysts declared the fix unworkable. We are now learning day after day (thanks, Washington Post) about the details of the failed website: how the administration hired the wrong people to build it and ignored clear, persistent warnings that it wasn’t going to work.

The operational incompetence is stunning. The lying continues a long pattern of Obama political incompetence. It took nearly 3-½ years for the president to recognize that the GOP wasn’t interested in negotiating a deal, any deal – no matter how right wing. He kept negotiating with himself – publicly — continuously moving farther and farther toward GOP positions and getting nothing in return.

The Obamacare debacle began in 2009, when Obama abdicated all leadership on the matter to Congress, which – of course – was in thrall to the insurance industry and other corporate interests,  producing the complex mess that is teetering on the edge today. Obamacare – if it survives – will do at least as much to enrich private interests as to lower costs (higher than any other industrialized country) or produce better outcomes (worse than any other industrialized country).

In 2010 Obama (granted – with the complicity of spineless Democrats in Congress) ceded the entire political dialogue to the rising Tea Party and the likes of Sarah Palin. While talk of death panels dominated the media in summer and fall of that year, Democrats headed towards a crushing defeat at the polls. I’m not just referring to the loss of the House, but also the loss of statehouses, coast to coast. The GOP dominance in the states then produced the gerrymandering and voter suppression measures that will keep the GOP in power at least until the 2020 census, if not beyond. Much of this is due to Obama’s mind-numbing inability to use the bully pulpit, build effective political alliances, and buck up scared-of-their-own-shadows Democratic lawmakers.

Consider foreign policy. In a space of two years, Obama has taken the US from being a moral, human rights champion to being a realpolitik status-quo power that Henry Kissinger could love. Your blogger (who works for a human rights organization) is sometimes torn between idealism and realism in foreign policy. I get that this stuff ain’t easy. But to go from an embrace of Hosni Mubarak (a personal friend of Bill & Hill) to supporting the Muslim Brotherhood (who were, after all, the winners of a democratic election), to praising Abdul Fattah al-Sisi’s thugs as if they were akin to Thomas Jefferson (why can’t John Kerry just shut his fucking mouth?!)?

The result is that everyone  in Egypt hates and distrusts us, even as we continue funneling billions of dollars to the brutal murderers who now run the place. For god’s sake: if you’re going to support a military dictatorship, at least do so in a manner that wins that dictatorship’s trust and respect! We learned this past week that al-Sisi is trying to negotiate closer ties with Putin.

The promised “pivot to Asia”? Gone south due to other distractions. The relationship with the European allies (who were practically drooling at the chance to start over following the horrific reign of W’s cowboy neocons)? Toast, because of our spying and a general sense of US fecklessness.

And then there are the “red lines.” Use chemical weapons, Obama says, and we’ll do something really, really bad to you. Except that we don’t really mean it. And so when we get a face-saving opportunity to back away from the humanitarian catastrophe in Syria, we jump at it.

Whether or not to bomb Syria was not an easy decision – see my post on the topic. The problem was the stark declarations from Obama without, apparently, any consideration of what should come next. This administration doesn’t stop and ask: hey, what will we do if the other guy doesn’t respond the way we expect him to? There is no Plan B. Only destined-to-fail Plan As.

Facing Facts

Now hear this, Obama fan-boys and –girls: we are not comparing Barack Obama to W or Mitt. Of course Obama is better than any GOP alternative!

We ought to be comparing Obama to what he could have been and to what this country (and the world) need. We ought to be holding this man accountable for repeatedly handing our enemies (the Tea Party right) the rope to hang us with.

To those who say, “Well, being president is hard. What do you expect?” – I ask, is it too much to expect basic competence and a commitment to tell the truth (at least in our own self-interest)? Is it, really?

The title of this blog post is serious. I don’t expect it to happen, but I would be delighted to see Barack Obama resign or be removed from office. Let’s give Joe Biden a chance to see if he can get the basics of governance and leadership right.

The Obama administration is finished, kaput, done. All two-term presidents lose power as their lame-duck status grows. None has experienced a collapse of this magnitude at the very inception of the second term. None has faced entrenched, fanatical enemies like the GOP is today. Democrats and progressives would be smart to move on, to try something — anything — rather than sitting back and whimpering as this failed president sets the table for GOP victories to come.

©2013 Keith Berner