The Anti-Empire Report

Writer Sam Smith recently wrote that Obama is the most conservative Democratic president we’ve ever had. “In an earlier time, there would have been a name for him: Republican.”

Indeed, if John McCain had won the 2008 election, and then done everything that Obama has done in exactly the same way, liberals would be raging about such awful policies.

I believe that Barack Obama is one of the worst things that has ever happened to the American left. The millions of young people who jubilantly supported him in 2008, and numerous older supporters, will need a long recovery period before they’re ready to once again offer their idealism and their passion on the altar of political activism.

If you don’t like how things have turned out, next time find out exactly what your candidate means when he talks of “change”.

Dear Lord, please save us from the Holy Republican Empire

Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, John Boehner, and many other Republicans often find it difficult to speak about domestic or foreign issues without bringing religion into the picture. Speaker of the House of Representatives John Boehner, for example, in a recent talk at the National Religious Broadcasters conference stated that America’s national debt is a “moral hazard.” The Washington Post (March 5, 2011) reported that “Boehner made clear that this fiscal crisis requires people to get on their knees.”

Rep. Joe Barton of Texas justified his opposition to controlling greenhouse gases because “you can’t regulate God.”

Arizona Senator Jon Kyl accused Democratic Senate Leader Harry Reid of “disrespecting one of the two holiest of holidays for Christians” for considering keeping Congress in session during Christmas.

Rep. Steve King of Iowa compared Democrats to Pontius Pilate, the ancient Roman official who sentenced Jesus to be crucified.[4]

And South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint recently declared that “the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets. … America works, freedom works, when people have that internal gyroscope that comes from a belief in God and Biblical faith. Once we push that out, you no longer have the capacity to live as a free person without the external controls of an authoritarian government. I’ve said it often and I believe it –– the bigger government gets, the smaller God gets. As people become more dependent on government, less dependent on God.”[5]

So, in a futile attempt to enlighten the likes of these esteemed Republican members of Congress, I feel obliged to point out the following:

On the 4th day of November 1796, a “Treaty of peace and friendship between the United States of America and the Bey and subjects of Tripoli, of Barbary” was concluded at Tripoli [Libya]. Article 11 of the treaty begins: “As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion … ” Be it further noted: Article VI, Section II, of the United States Constitution states: “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land; and the Judges in every State shall be bound thereby, any Thing in the Constitution or Laws of any State to the Contrary notwithstanding.”

The creed of America’s founders was neither Christianity nor secularism, but religious liberty.

After the terrorist attacks of 9-11, a Taliban leader declared that “God is on our side, and if the world’s people try to set fire to Afghanistan, God will protect us and help us.”[6]

“With or without religion, good people will do good things and bad people will do bad things. But for good people to do bad things — that takes religion.” — Steven Weinberg, Nobel Prize-winning physicist

The Bad Guys

I’ve written on many occasions about America’s ODE — Officially Designated Enemies: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Hugo Chávez, Fidel Castro, Daniel Ortega, Hasan Nasrallah, Moammar Gaddafi, and others. Once the government of the United States of America makes it clear that an individual foreign leader is not one of the Good Guys, that he doesn’t believe that America is God’s gift to humankind, and that he is not willing to allow his country to become an obedient client state, the US mainstream media invariably picks up on this and goes out of its way to denigrate the individual at every opportunity. (If any reader knows of any exceptions to this rule I’d be interested in hearing from them.)

Juan Forero has long been a Latin American correspondent for the Washington Post. He’s also the same for National Public Radio. I used to send letters to the Post pointing out how Forero was distorting the facts each time he wrote about Hugo Chávez, errors of omission compounded with errors of commission. None were printed, so I began to send my missives directly to Forero. He once actually replied saying that he (sort of) agreed with me on the point I had raised and implied that he would try to avoid similar errors in the future. I actually detected some improvement after that for a short period, then it was back to usual. During the current unrest in Libya, he wrote: “Chavez said it ‘was a great lie’ that Gaddafi’s forces had attacked civilians.”[7]

Well, how stupid can Hugo Chávez think the world is? We’ve all seen and read of Gaddafi’s attacks on civilians.

But it turns out that if you find the original Spanish you get a fuller and different picture. According to the United Press International (UPI) Spanish-language report, Chávez said that the fighting in Libya was a civil war and those who were attacked were thus not simply protestors or civilians; they were on the other side of the civil war; i.e., combatants.[8]

Al Jazeera in America

The uprisings in North Africa and the Middle East have given a great boost to al Jazeera, the television network based in Doha, Qatar. Until recently Americans shied away from the station; it was just too easily associated with the Middle East and Muslims, which of course leads easily to thinking about terrorists and “terrorists”; and certainly any well-brought-up American knew that the station could not be as unbiased as CBS, CNN, NPR or Fox News. The station had reason to be paranoid about its office in the United States, land of ten million crazies (more than a few of them holding public office). It occupies six floors in a downtown Washington, DC office building, but its name doesn’t appear on the building directory.

But US mainstream media now quote al Jazeera English and show their news footage. Many progressives, including myself, have taken to watching the station in preference to US mainstream media. In general, the news is of more substance, the guests are mainly more or less progressive, and there are no commercials. However, the more I watch it the more I realize that the station’s presenters and correspondents are not necessarily as well imbued with the progressive perspective as they should be.

One case in point of many I could give: On March 12 al Jazeera correspondent Roger Wilkinson was reporting about the trial in Cuba of Alan Gross, the American arrested after he dispensed electronic equipment to Cuban citizens. Gross entered Cuba as a tourist but was actually there in behalf of Development Alternatives Inc. (DAI), a private contractor working for the Agency for International Development (AID), a division of the State Department. Gross was thus a covert unregistered agent of a foreign government. Wilkinson reported this very controversial story with all the innocence and distortion of the US mainstream media. He mentioned in passing that the Cuban government tries to control the Internet. What can one conclude from that other than that Cuban officials want to hide certain information from its citizens? Just like the US mainstream media, Wilkinson gave no examples of any Internet sites blocked by the Cuban government; for the simple reason, perhaps, that there aren’t any. What is the terrible truth that Cubans might learn if they had full access to the Internet? Ironically, it’s the US government and US multinationals who impinge upon this access, for political reasons and by pricing their services beyond Cuba’s means. This is why Cuba and Venezuela are building their own undersea cable connection.