What Matters Now? The Bush/Cheney Legacy

By Dennis Loo

Ex-Treasury Secretary Paul O"Neill, one of many disaffected former Bush White House officials, recounts Vice-President Dick Cheney saying in a 2002 White House meeting: "Reagan proved that deficits don't matter." [1]


The Bush/Cheney years prove that the rule of law and truth don't matter.


This has assumed many different expressions: losing elections and getting the most votes don't matter, torture doesn't matter, committing war crimes as policy and getting caught don't matter, separation of powers doesn't matter, attacking countries that have not attacked you first doesn't matter, international law, Nuremberg, the Geneva Convention, and the UN Charter don't matter, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights don't matter, being repeatedly caught red-handed lying and committing felonies don't matter, having the Democrats holding the majority in Congress doesn't matter, science, evolution, and global warming don't matter, being an American in the face of a Category 4 hurricane doesn't matter, running up unbelievable deficits, carrying out policies that show themselves to be disasters doesn't matter, being more unpopular for a longer time than any White House in at least polling history doesn't matter "the list goes on and on. In fact, just listing the items in this manner could go on for 10,000 words or more without any elaboration attempted.


It's mind-boggling what Bush and Cheney have shown doesn't matter. The sheer magnitude of their ambitions and mission - their very audaciousness - are astonishing. But what is even more amazing " is that they have been successful. As I write these words, it appears as if they will serve out the entirety of their two illegitimately seized two terms in the White House without indictments and without impeachment.

While a few individuals within the political leadership class in this country have dissented, and a few individual journalists have done their best to call out the sins of omission and commission of this regime, Bush and Cheney have gotten their way virtually every time. And when they have been blocked, by, for example, a bedridden and hospitalized John Ashcroft for whom even Bush and Cheney's latest demands for unrestricted access to every Americans" phone calls and Internet activity was too much, they have simply backed off and found another way to get what they wanted. Ashcroft won't co-operate? No problem. We"ll get the Congress, even if it's a Democratic ruled Congress, to pass the "Protect America Act" and the telecom amnesty bill and thus legalize what we wanted to do and legalize what we were doing before when it was patently illegal.

Bush and Cheney have screamed and yelled like spoiled rich kids when they don't get what they want and even when caught with their hands in the cookie jar, even when caught beating up and torturing the pets and neighborhood kids, including killing some of them, and lying about it, they have gotten their way.

Grasping the Bush regime's precedents is central to understanding the Bush/Cheney legacy. It's a poisoned path almost impossible to overestimate in its significance.

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When I think about Bush and Cheney's legacy, the image that keeps coming to mind is that of a black hood, covering an anonymous prisoner, held in indefinite captivity and tortured at Abu Ghraib, at Guantanamo, at Bagram, in Egypt, Syria, Uzbekistan, or in all too many other places where prisoners have been rendered extraordinarily, human beings treated like meat by tenderizing, through beatings.

Bush and Cheney are modern day Torquemadas, revivers and open exponents of that exquisite Spanish Inquisition innovation for torturing critics, unbelievers, and heretics: waterboarding.

Unjustly shed blood spreads in an ever-widening pool from foreign lands, now splashing onto our American sidewalks and in police interrogation rooms: "shock and awe" comes home. Pre-emptive wars abroad beget pre-emptive arrests of American demonstrators in St. Paul before the RNC. Torture of non-Americans abroad begets torture of an American, one of the RNC 8, here at home. Trumped up charges of terrorism off our shores begets domestic terrorism charges of U.S. citizens attempting to exercise their rights of speech and assembly.

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Revelation upon revelation of the White House's shocking acts, cascading like a waterfall, has not precipitated impeachment, calls for their immediate resignations, or their prosecution as war criminals. Bush and Cheney remain in office unscathed, like Jason Voorhees, the hockey-masked, horror movie murderer who lives on, movie after movie.

While the crimes of U.S. imperialism are legion, what was done largely behind the scenes in the past is now increasingly being carried out as official policy: no longer de facto but now de jure, no longer retail but wholesale.

What accounts for this momentous shift?

1968 and 2008

We need to go back a bit in time to trace the historical antecedents to the 2008 configuration of political forces. In doing so, it not only makes poetic sense to compare 1968 to 2008, it also makes historical sense.

One way to state this simply is that what makes 1968 different from 2008 is the absence in 2008 of a socialist camp that helped to inspire and sustain the high tide of insurgent movements, metaphorical prairie fires raging and spreading from China (the Cultural Revolution) and Vietnam to Africa, South America, Europe (e.g., May 1968 in Paris), and in the U.S. (the civil rights, anti-war, women's liberation, et al movements) that characterized the 1960s.

Lyndon Johnson's nemesis in the Vietnam War and anti-war protests/movement, Nixon's Watergate scandal and eventual resignation, the ensuing 1978 FISA law that was instituted to prevent future abuses from presidents wanting to spy on citizens, the consent decrees with police department "red squads" and restrictions on the executive branch, COINTELPRO and the like activities, Roe v. Wade and the abolition of the death penalty, all of these and more can be traced back to the post-World War II configuration of forces in the world in which a powerful socialist camp existed, an alternative to the capitalist/imperialist world.

There isn't room here to lay this out in its fullest, but Brown v. Board of Education in 1954 was made possible by the fact that the U.S. government could not contend for the allegiance of the non-aligned nations (the largely "brown, black and yellow" Third World) against the socialist world if it was seen internationally as segregating blacks in its own land.

This recognition led the federal government to file an amicus brief before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1953 explicitly stating that the U.S. could not afford to have segregation on this level given the international rivalry with the socialist world, paving the way for Brown v. Board. Brown in turn helped to lift the lid on the long-suffering masses of black people in this country who exploded in a movement that shook the world.

With the ebbing of these 1960s" insurgencies and the collapse of the socialist camp in the 1970s and 1980s, U.S. imperialism no longer had any real rivals - no nations with a competing system, no other superpowers, no vibrant social movements or vital labor unions. The U.S. empire could now expand into the formerly socialist and quasi-socialist world for markets, labor and resources, and dictate terms as it saw fit.

The rise of the neoconservatives - and the neoliberalists of whom the neocons are one specific expression of - would not have been possible without these larger changes to the world's political economy. The neocons" vision, exemplified in the Bush regime and first articulated by the Project for a New American Century in the 1990s, of taking full advantage of this period of American hegemony to prevent the emergence of any possible rivals internationally or domestically by launching pre-emptive wars, using elections theft, whipping up a Christian fascist social base, justifying an unrestricted executive ("unitary executive"), employing routine torture, overriding the rule of law explicitly, and deploying the global war on terror as its rationale and 9/11 as its rallying cry, must be understood in this context.

The Democrats and the corporate (non-right wing) media, for their part, are constantly playing catch up and "me too" with some rhetorical reservations and complaints, and some differences with respect to the need for multi-lateral maneuvers prior to unilateral (if necessary) actions, should be seen in this overall context as well. The differences might be summarized between the GOP and the Democrats in foreign policy this way - GOP: "No talking. Bombing starts now!" Democrats: "First we talk, then we bomb."

The reason why the rest of the political leadership class outside of the GOP has been unwilling to stop the Bush regime is because they share with the GOP a fundamental agreement about the rightness and necessity of a U.S. Empire. Given the extreme disparity of this empire vis a vis the rest of the world and even within the U.S. itself between the plutocracy and the rest of us, the use of increasingly heavy helpings of force and violence to repress people, combined with even more extensive deception, is necessary, no matter which major political party is in power.

As I wrote in early 2006 in Impeach the President: the Case Against Bush and Cheney:

"We have been witnesses to momentous public policy changes over the last thirty years: the systematic dismantling of the New Deal/welfare state and its replacement by the security or neoliberal state. The neoliberal state (which takes its name from liberal in the sense of laissez-faire capitalism a la 18th C. economist Adam Smith) features deregulation, deindustrialization, re-engineering, privatization, downsizing, globalization, and in our case, an American imperialist empire. It means that social safety net programs are being slashed right and left while the state's coercive apparatus-the military, the criminal justice system, security and surveillance activities and agencies-are being vastly expanded. When the GOP speaks of curbing government (or as tax activist Grover Norquist has famously stated, shrinking the government so much that it can be drowned in a bathtub) they mean curbing the social safety net. They don't mean shrinking military or police or spy functions.

"The key figures in this new economic and political order are transnational corporations that dwarf most of the world's national economies. As of 2000, of the 100 largest economic entities in the world, 51 of them were transnational corporations. Wal-Mart was larger than 182 countries. The 200 largest corporations" combined sales were larger than all of the world's countries" economies less the top 10 countries in economic size! Moreover, this concentration of wealth and power is accelerating. The dominance of these giant conglomerates and their allies in government means that we can expect ever-rising levels of job and social insecurity since this is the fundamental logic driving globalization. The Democrats are not going to stand up to these transnationals; they have not, nor are they capable of it. Hoping and praying that electing Democrats in 2006 will somehow turn this around is a losing strategy. The main problem isn't that the Democrats are spineless or that they can't get their act together. The main problem is that both major parties are the political representatives of big capital and of globalization.

"It's important to further recognize that this isn't just because the Democrats are beholden to big campaign contributors, resolvable through campaign reform legislation, although that is obviously part of the picture. The essence of the problem is that this situation is precisely what we should expect. When you"re talking about economies on a world scale in which the major players are monstrously large and the stakes involved are gigantic, there is no reason to expect that the people who run in these kind of circles, whether they are CEOs or public officials, are going to truly subject their fantastic power and wealth to the whims of an electorate in which everyone rich and poor alike has one vote. Would you, if you had their level of power and wealth and their ideology? If you had more power than 182 countries and you were one corporation, would you let the electorate decide they were going to, for example, nationalize you? Would you put the fate of your extremely concentrated power and wealth in the hands of 'the people'

"Both major parties in this country are in agreement that this new economic order of globalization, this security state, is the right thing. They differ somewhat over some particular policies, with some sectors, for example, more based in science and more concerned about the environment (e.g., Gore), but they don't differ on the fundamentals. The media are themselves fully embedded within this new economic order; they are themselves major corporations. The Democrats aren't the leading political representatives of this new order because in their highest and best expression, the Democrats are FDR New Dealers, and the material basis for that stance has been getting wiped out systematically over the last thirty years. That is why the Democrats appear to be so hapless and so feeble against the GOP's cutthroat viciousness, for the GOP represents the most aggressive, most in your face cutting edge of the ascendant neoliberal state."

With this as background, let's go on to take a look at the 2008 election.

The Campaign by Bush's Successors

McCain and Obama in their campaigns have done all they can to distance themselves from Bush and Cheney rhetorically. But neither candidate filibustered any of the bills that legalized torture, abrogated habeas corpus, authorized and funded unjust wars, granted retroactive immunity for felonious, massive spying on Americans, gave the White House unfettered, patently unconstitutional, emergency powers, including the power on the president's say-so alone to declare martial law and use military force on American soil to quell any "emergency," as declared and defined unilaterally by the president.

Both McCain and Obama have steadfastly refused to put a stop to any of this in their capacities as U.S. Senators, even though it has been their explicit legal and moral responsibility to do so. In 2005, for example, when McCain sponsored the Anti-Torture Amendment and Bush, forced to sign it, appended a signing statement, one of the over 750 signing statements that Bush has used, to say that he would ignore the Act. McCain said and did nothing. Obama declined to filibuster the Military Commissions Act of 2006 that legalized torture and eliminated habeas corpus rights for people labeled "unlawful enemy combatants," and when voting against it, objected to it not on the grounds that it was barbaric and unthinkable, but because it was "dumb."

This same cowardice in the face of tyranny is belied by the candidates" bravery - or gall - to ask that we hand over power to them despite their adroitly avoiding doing anything that would block or reverse any of Bush and Cheney's brazen and grotesque transgressions.

If a member of a group of rapists, while participating in a gang rape, were to say to a horrified female bystander, "If you support me becoming the gang leader I promise that no more gang rapes will happen under my leadership," what would our bystander think? Would she not be stunned by her interrogator's moxie? Would she not scream back in his face: "How dare you! Stop the raping now!"

Yet millions and millions of bystanders have not been seeing this rape of our country, of our people, of the people of Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and of the planet itself, as a rape. They have been seeing it as something else.

Hoodwinking

Besides hoods, then, I cannot also help but think of hoodwinking and the 2008 elections.

Hoods and hoodwinking: two words that form an appropriate pair, like two bookends. If people were books, bookends are needed to keep the people in line. Without the hoodwinking, hoods would not work. Without the hoods, the hoodwinking would be insufficient.

Which is worse? The hoods? Or the to date successful hoodwinking?

Bush and Cheney's would-be successors would not be credible to even the most ill informed American voter if Obama and McCain didn't declare themselves "reformers" and "change agents," at odds with Bush and Cheney.

In every election cycle candidates promise some kind of change. But this time the degree of necessary distancing by both parties" nominees from the incumbent far surpasses previous contests. A further indication of this difference is the fact that - for the first time in history - America will have a black president - a black president - if the votes are actually counted. Obama's nomination would not have been possible had the desire for change not been so pronounced.

At the same time, both candidates must sustain a precarious tightrope act of voting for measures that protect and advance the Bush agenda while seeking to persuade people to vote for them on the basis of a future promise of change, a change in which, apparently, the winner will stop doing what they"ve been doing all along and suddenly start doing something very different.

The degree of antipathy for the Bush regime, the possibilities for something more than mere rhetoric to come from this period, and the sharp limitations to this electoral game, all stand out in relief.

On the one hand, the American electorate knows in its bones that Bush and Cheney are trouble, like the malevolent creatures that pursued Frodo in the Lord of the Rings on dark horseback, their thunderous hooves reverberating through the night.

On the other hand, the hoodwinking by the major parties is pervasive - the belief and hope, no matter how forlorn, that simply punching a touch screen will put this sordid and obscene eight years to rest is " foolish, naïve, woefully inadequate, and ultimately immoral.

How could infamous atrocities and a veritable host of malignant deeds such as the mass murder of more than a million, two hundred thousand people in Iraq, egregious abandonment in New Orleans and its people in the face of Katrina, mass surveillance in felonious violation of the 1978 FISA law, brazen and unchallenged declarations by the White House that it is unaccountable to Congress, to international law, to the Constitution or to anyone at all, and on and on, be made right by what individuals do behind a closed space in a polling station for a few moments on one day in November 2008?

If casting a vote for some new president could install into office the most compassionate, most principled, most powerful individual in history who was determined to right the wrongs, no matter what the personal cost - need it be said that such a person wasn't a nominee of any party - how could this knight in shining armor sweep his sword and single-handedly undo these monstrous things?

This knight on horseback who has stood by all these years while Guinevere has been repeatedly raped, the peasants" villages and fields looted and burned, the treasury sacked, the troops off fighting foreign wars, committing daily atrocities upon the direct orders of their superiors, bogged down in occupations that are only enflaming the populace of those distant lands, is suddenly going to restore the honor that he has allowed to be debased for every single day of the last eight years? Why, because he finally recognizes that it's the right thing to do? We should stake our lives, this country's and the world's fate, on a slender reed of desperate hope that they will have an epiphany upon becoming the new Commander in Chief of the most powerful imperialist empire in history?

How could the dramatic abdication of legal and moral responsibility by the Democratic Party and the mass media in the face of the tyranny of George and Richard for all these years not require the sustained civil resistance of millions of people to change the terms and alter the balance of forces?

How could the existing balance of forces that have spectacularly given Bush and Cheney free rein for all - and even more - than they have demanded, be left intact and yet result, after January 20, 2009, in a prosecution and repudiation of the horrid things that Bush and Cheney and a co-operative and collusive Congress have done collectively?

What fools we would be to believe in such a thing!

But foolishness of this kind, wishful thinking based on nothing more than wistfulness for a romanticized bygone country and government, are everywhere to be seen. If you ask people who have been following what's been going on in the last eight years about the fate of the nation, what you hear from them is both a deep anger or at least dismay about the Bush years and from far too many, a completely unrealistic anticipation of "change" courtesy of the very national leaders who have been part of the problem themselves. How can leaders claiming the mantle of moral leadership do so when as leaders in the Senate they have countenanced torturers and war criminals?

This betrayal of morality and the rule of law is of world-historic proportions.

From it flow two ineluctable facts.

First, any future president and vice-president could do not only precisely what George and Richard have done, but go even further. What does going even further entail? The very thought is alarming, for what they have already done is incredible. This precedent setting, this poisoned legacy - this demonstration that they could "push and push and push" (as Cheney's chief of staff, David Addington has said) and no "larger force" would stop them - is the essence, and the most important element, of the Bush legacy.

Second, the spectacular refusal by the political leadership class to prevent and undo a de facto dictatorship - a dictatorship that has been successful in making this unfettered executive unaccountable to any other branch of government de jure - cannot merely be the failings or poor judgment of weak and credulous individuals. This is a structural failure, not a transitory problem. Whatever the possible merits of the incoming president, he or any future president has an open license with no expiration date to become a tyrant who claims his or her power on the grounds of "protecting the homeland against an external and/or internal enemy." The means to fabricate a state of emergency, to initiate or allow a false flag attack, are now within the grasp of any president, present or future. This strategy is immune to any challenge so long as its premises remain unchallenged. In other words, we have a simple, foolproof recipe that Bush and Cheney have been following, and that the Democratic Party has been fully co-operative in carrying forward, for any tyrant to consolidate power.

What Must Happen?

Bush and Cheney's record levels of protracted unpopularity has not been enough to provoke their being brought to justice for their abuse of office and, beyond that, their horrid crimes against humanity. All of the ingredients are presently in place for a police state to be swung into motion. All that is lacking is a precipitating incident such as another 9/11 or civil unrest. Inertia among the people and betrayals by our leaders, barriers standing in our way until now, must therefore be overcome to avoid the full and open implementation of a police state at some point in the future, and quite possibly in the very near future.

To meet the terms of this critical situation represents a tall order. Americans do not have the rich tradition of mass political struggle we can find in other countries such as France. Belief in representative government and the sufficiency of voting alone is very strong among Americans.

The Milgram Experiment and Germany in the 1930s

Even more important than the relative weakness of mass political action in the U.S., we have the precedents of the 1930s" rise of fascism in Germany and the 1960 Stanley Milgram Experiment. The fascists took power in Germany and Italy and were ultimately defeated in WW II, but not before the Nazis had killed nine million in their concentration camps alone. Milgram, a social psychologist, sought to understand the social dynamics that permitted the Nazis to rise to power and to hold onto it despite the barbarousness of their rule. His initial hypothesis was that there was something about Germans that made them peculiarly obedient to authority and willing to do monstrous things, or permitted them to look the other way when terrible things were done to others. Milgram planned to take his experiment to Germany after pilot testing it in the U.S. He never did make it to Germany, however, because he discovered the answer here at home: Americans are just as willing to do terrible things to strangers when instructed to do so by men in authority as were the "Good Germans" of the 1930s and 1940s.

The comment by an expatriate American in Paris in Michael Moore's film, Sicko, is true, "In Europe the governments are afraid of the people. In America, the people are afraid of the government." Much anguish has been expressed and will continue to be expressed by Americans and non-Americans about how the U.S. population has allowed the predations of the Bush regime to continue. But the German Nazi experience and the Milgram Experiment indicate that the problem we face here is not principally a question of national character.

The problem comes down to two fundamental factors. First, relatively more comfortable conditions for Americans, in combination with a corporate media that has become increasingly an integral part of the ruling structure and less and less an even mild critic (much less, watchdog) of that structure, tend to make Americans less inclined to engage in political actions on behalf of justice. Second, obedience to authority is difficult to overcome. The first factor has to do with material conditions and the impact of those material conditions on consciousness. The second factor has to do with human social dynamics in general.

Because the Democratic Party is the one of the two ruling parties in the most powerful military and richest imperialist empire in history (albeit an Empire now hobbled, in deep debt and in trouble!), it is only realistic to expect that such a party would be fundamentally representative of the rich and powerful. How could it be otherwise? Were it otherwise and were the Democratic Party really representative of the people, why would those who actually exercise power in our country not disallow and marginalize the Democrats? Why would the wealthy be giving hundreds of millions of dollars to a party that didn't protect in fundamental ways the wealthy? "One person, one vote" isn't how political power is actually exercised. Votes don't decide matters. If they did, George W. Bush would never have been president.

So that's on the one hand. On the other hand, people cannot change public policy or repudiate the Bush regime without political leadership advancing their sentiments. The sentiment against the Bush Program is widespread - indeed, it is by far the majority sentiment. The media, by treating impeachment as verboten, and the Democratic Party, in doing the same, have effectively blocked what the majority of Americans want - the impeachment and conviction of Bush and Cheney. If the New York Times or Barack Obama were to come out for impeachment tomorrow, would anybody be wondering why the American people have allowed these reactionaries in the White House to remain? Of course they would not, because the outpouring of public sentiment in support of impeachment and trials followed by convictions would be immense.

The Democratic Party, the Republican Party, and the corporate media will not provide this kind of leadership because to do so at this point means that the leading institutions and opinion-makers in the society would have to open a Pandora's Box and not only risk widespread social instability but also reveal the level of their own complicity in crimes against humanity. The level of their complicity is profound.

In the face of their abdication of moral and legal responsibility, constituting an alternative legitimate authority to the existing one is absolutely indispensable. Without this, mass sentiment cannot find meaningful expression and become a material, potentially decisive, force.

So this is what must be done. Can it be done?

The realization of such a scenario has no real historical equivalents in a country such as this, but let me sketch out a couple of points.

The problem needs to be attacked from two ends. On the one hand, people on the grassroots level need to start - on an individual level - to speak out and take a public stand against tyrants and a consolidating police state. As individuals (and organizations) do this, they will find that they are changing the atmosphere around them because they are speaking to and representing majority sentiment. They are voicing openly the sentiments that most of those around them share but feel unable to do more about than grumble to their friends and family. By voicing these sentiments publicly and calling for others to act upon these sentiments - wearing an orange ribbon daily is one visible way of doing this - those who step forward in this way are creating new conditions and giving an opening for others, who share their sentiments and have been gnashing their teeth in frustration, to also step forward. The individuals who do this are acting as leaders among the people and becoming leaders by doing so.

Let me give an example of this from a college student who on her own set up an orange-draped table on my campus to distribute orange ribbons:

"Honestly it was one of the most frightening things I've done in a long time. I was praying for a familiar face, but I just dove in and started asking students as they walked by if they wanted to pick up a ribbon to support our anti-war movement, at first many of them just kept walking and said no thanks (a little discouraging...). However, as more students began to come out of class I was able to grab the attention of a few who came up to the table and wanted to know what the orange and the ribbons were all about "

"I was so pleased to see many people taking the ribbons and putting them on their backpacks and on their shirts. As time passed and more students came out, I begin to get people to pledge to get three other people to wear the orange ribbons. I got about 10 pledges from people who said that they had friends that would wear the ribbon in support. I remember this one guy who came back and asked me if he could have one for his girlfriend :) It was great! "

"Another young woman from the CGU [Claremont Graduate University] mentioned that 'people in this generation haven't had their "1960s" yet and need to' and that she would try to spread this out in Claremont... Another gentlemen " had friends that would wear the ribbons too and that he was interested in how this turned out. My most memorable one was the professor that took a ribbon and thanked me for doing what I was doing :) Another professor said that he wanted to see us in front of the school picketing just like they did in the 60's.

"Overall, even though my palms were clammy and I was nervous each time I spoke to someone it was very rewarding and I think I passed out about 150 ribbons, if not more, out [over the course of an hour and three-quarters], especially to classmates and even to a gentlemen at an Empire conference."

On the other hand, those who are already leaders in the society such as public officials, actors, intellectuals, artists, musicians, religious leaders, professionals, teachers, working class organizers, and so on, need to do the same. They need to use their credibility and their influence to take the moral high ground. Some individuals from this strata have done this, but they need to be bolder and there need to be many more doing so.

To contrast two examples of what I mean here I would cite what the Berkeley City Council did in 2008 disinviting the Marine Recruiters from Berkeley and what the Minneapolis City Council did in green lighting the police state measures used against demonstrators during the RNC in August 2008. The Berkeley City Council's actions helped to spark a thousand Berkeley high students powerfully demonstrating against the military recruiters and the right-wingers who came out to defend recruiting more bodies for unjust wars. The Berkeley students" actions in turn inspired Portland High School students to do similarly at their City Council's offices. The craven collusion by the all-progressives Minneapolis City Council with the gendarmes, on the other hand, led to the despicable and alarming fascistic attacks on demonstrators and on freedom of speech and assembly during the RNC. We need much more of what Berkeley did and no more of what the Minneapolis City Council did.

Some people will still say, "But it won't work. It's not worth sticking my neck out there. I want something less risky and more realistic. I will/did vote for Obama and I hope that he will take care of this."

The outcome of the battles to come in our society and world isn't predetermined. Those battles are already in process, with more convulsive ones to come. That is for certain. What we can also say for certain is that if the American people do not stand up in the millions (on the order, specifically, of several million) and become a powerful, independent political force on the scene fundamentally changing the political balance of forces by demanding a reversal of the Bush Program, then 1) economic disasters will continue and deepen profoundly, and 2) the disastrous war on terror will spawn further catastrophes abroad and at home.

We can see what an Obama presidency will look like unfolding in real-time now with respect to Pakistan. In August 2007 Obama advocated launching military attacks in Pakistan regardless of the Pakistani government's wishes and without bothering to even notify them that the U.S. was striking on their country. At the time Biden, Clinton, and even George W. Bush ridiculed Obama for being bellicose. In July 2008, as the New York Times recently reported, Bush secretly signed orders adopting Obama's proposal and the land and air attacks have ensued. Pakistan's government and its people, including the families of innocent victims of these U.S. attacks, have decried these blatant violations of their national sovereignty. Blowback, the sort that resulted in 9/11, is in the making.

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Which future do we want? Which side are we on? Are we going to be "Good Americans?" Or will the following comment from Debra Sweet recently be the cutting edge injunction by a movement that dramatically turned things around, "Stop thinking like an American and start thinking like a human being"?

[The endnoted (sources cited) version of this article can be viewed at the journal where it was originally published, State of Nature
http://www.stateofnature.org/whatMattersNow.html.]