As a matter of fact, President Obama admitted as much Saturday during his Selma speech. While his dulcet words now waft high above the Homeland, waiting to be chiseled into the marble halls of his library shrine (if not into the hearts and minds of the populace), one of his paragraphs remains as firmly grounded in the American soil as a patch of ineradicable Alabama kudzu:
Look at our history. We are Lewis and Clark and Sacajawea, pioneers who braved the unfamiliar, followed by a stampede of farmers and miners, and entrepreneurs and hucksters. That’s our spirit. That’s who we are.
|Oh What a Tangled Web of Kudzu (credit: Alabama Press-Register)|
Without a willing suspension of disbelief in our own mythic history and the endless spinning of our national yarn, where would we be as a country? We Shall Overcome our cognitive dissonance, or our heads will surely explode.
But plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose. Without even a hint of irony, Barack Obama proclaimed:
We have endured war and we’ve fashioned peace. We’ve seen technological wonders that touch every aspect of our lives. We take for granted conveniences that our parents could have scarcely imagined. But what has not changed is the imperative of citizenship; that willingness of a 26-year-old deacon, or a Unitarian minister, or a young mother of five to decide they loved this country so much that they’d risk everything to realize its promise.It was only a day before Obama uttered those words that, risking their own freedom, a group of protesters was arrested outside a Nevada Air Force base, where soldiers are still at war, busily droning people to death with technological wonders from the safety of their trailers. The troops were operating from a Kill List of "militants" whom Obama himself has personally marked for pre-emptive extermination.
Anti-drone protesters who said they wanted to spotlight war crimes and connect with pilots were arrested after trying to block the entrance Friday at a US Air Force base in southern Nevada.
More than 100 people were assembled Friday morning outside the Creech Air Force Base in Indian Springs near Las Vegas, officials said.The protesters attempted to block the entrance but the workers were able to come and go during the shift change between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m., officials said.
Organizers said protesters stood or laid down on the road in front of the two access gates. Others were stationed along the highway carrying photos and tombs to represent drone warfare victims....The protesters said they have been at the site for a week to speak out against remotely piloted aircraft flying armed missions in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. Organizers said the protest drew people and advocacy groups from 18 different states. Casey Stinemetz of Veterans for Peace said the St. Louis-based organization saw the event as an opportunity to reach out to the "cogs in the machine," such as the pilots and other Creech personnel who carry out drone operations.President Obama, for his own part, has been successful in keeping the names and other details of his drone victims -- said to number in the thousands -- a deep, dark secret from the American people. He is not about to cross that bridge. As he explained in Selma, "that’s why we argue and fight with so much passion and conviction -- because we know our efforts matter. We know America is what we make of it."
Predators and war criminals are magically made into aw-shucks hucksters and entrepreneurs. And speaking of entrepreneurship, the USA now leads the world in weapons sales and production, thanks to its endless war of terror and escalation of conflict in the middle East:
The annual study by IHS Inc.—which looks at military markets in 65 nations, excluding small arms, munitions, and surveillance programs—finds that the United States is behind one-third of all equipment and weapons exports world-wide.
This is no small amount: in 2014, global "defense" trade surpassed $64.4 billion, the report finds.
"Defense trade rose by a landmark 13.4 percent over the past year," said Ben Moores, senior defense analyst at IHS Aerospace, Defense and Security, in a press statement. "This record figure has been driven by unparalleled demand from the emerging economies for military aircraft and an escalation of regional tensions in the Middle East and Asia Pacific."
The U.S., further, is the top profiteer from rising conflict across the Middle East, accounting for $8.4 billion in exports to this region in 2014, compared to $6 billion the previous year.Meanwhile, U.S. allies in the expanding war against ISIS are boosting their weapons imports significantly. Saudi Arabia blew past India to become the number one weapons importer in the world. Analysts predict that, in 2015, Saudi Arabia will account for one of every seven dollars spent on such imports.No matter that Saudi Arabia has one of the most abysmal human rights records in the world, even going so far today as to physically bar the female Swedish foreign minister from addressing the Arab League meeting, on top of its funding of 9/11 murderers, its whippings of bloggers, its horrendous treatment of women, its beheadings of dissidents. Saudi Arabia is a respected partner in profit of the United States, you see.
And hypocrisy never stopped Barack Obama before. Just today, he declared socialist Venezuela to be a national security threat, and slapped it with economic sanctions for.... drumroll, please.... committing unspecified "acts of violence or abuse of human rights, (penalization for or prohibition of) freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption."
The White House said the order targeted people whose actions undermined democratic processes or institutions, had committed acts of violence or abuse of human rights, were involved in prohibiting or penalizing freedom of expression, or were government officials involved in public corruption.
"Venezuelan officials past and present who violate the human rights of Venezuelan citizens and engage in acts of public corruption will not be welcome here, and we now have the tools to block their assets and their use of U.S. financial systems," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.
"We are deeply concerned by the Venezuelan government's efforts to escalate intimidation of its political opponents. Venezuela's problems cannot be solved by criminalizing dissent," he added.The democratically elected government of Venezuela is not involved in a drone assassination program or a high tech arms cartel that colludes with autocratic governments, nor has it invaded any of its neighbors or established a thousand military colonies around the world. What it has done is accuse American hucksters and entrepreneurs of trying to stage one of their CIA coups in the national interest of the same multinational oil companies having long, sordid histories of Latin American plunder. The Venezuelan government is in the process of expelling "State Department" personnel from the country. And the Venezuelans own a huge chunk of the world's oil reserves.
And Barack Obama possesses an outsized chunk of the world's bullshit reserves. He has earned near-universal plaudits for his most recent speech. His power to wow the crowds with his voice is seemingly invincible.
The only thing more cognitively jarring than the president's gorgeous Selma speech was the presence of George W. Bush as an honored guest at the event marking Bloody Sunday. Bush was invited because he did sign the renewal of the Voting Rights law, before the GOP went totally off the rails with the election of the first black president.
The nearest thing to controversy about Bush's presence, as far as the New York Times is concerned, is that Bush was "cropped out" of their front page photo showing the Obamas marching across the bridge. The award-winning Times photographer claims he inadvertently "super-overexposed" Bush.
That's irony for you. The real sin of the Times is that they never exposed George enough while they had the chance, and when it could have made an actual difference. They planted phony stories on nonexistent gold cake uranium and Iraq WMDs, greasing the skids for an illegal invasion. Bending to White House pressure, they'd withheld James Risen's blockbuster story about illegal government eavesdropping on everyday Americans, helping Bush sail to a second term.
So many hucksters, so little time.