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Democrats lost moral high ground after ignoring Obama morphing into Bush

from the Screeching Kettle

When President Obama was sworn into office back in January 2009, and just a few months later agreed to “look forward” and disregard gross human rights violations committed by Bush officials (such as waterboarding, insect pits, solitary confinement, and more), they were quiet.

When President Obama oversaw the brutal force-feeding of untried prisoners at a detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, they said nothing.

When President Obama’s mass-deportations of undocumented immigrants in the US outpaced deportations under his predecessor, they stayed silent. As the Nation reported, “To pay for the ballooning enforcement-first approach, the budget for immigration enforcement grew 300 percent from the resources given at the time of its founding under Bush to $18 billion annually, more than all other federal law-enforcement agencies’ budget combined.”

When President Obama spent his first term in office outspending his predecessor on raids against legal marijuana dispensaries, his supporters had little to say. “There’s no question that Obama’s the worst president on medical marijuana,” Rob Kampia, executive director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told Rolling Stone magazine. “He’s gone from first to worst.”

When President Obama extended the US military occupation of Afghanistan until 2024, anti-war Democrats under George W. Bush were nowhere to be found.

When President Obama fabricated a reason to bomb oil-rich Libya in 2011, and then just a year later, reauthorized the US invasion of Iraq, they were voiceless, with the exception of a few scattered protests in the US, none of which came anywhere close to the size of those against the 2003 invasion of Iraq carried out by a Republican president.

When it was revealed that President Obama met weekly with his advisers for what was dubbed “Terror Tuesday” to decide who was worthy of being picked off by US predator drones around the world – and when it came to light that President Obama had a “kill list” and US citizens were on it, and were being killed, all without due process – again, barely a peep.

When Obama granted legal immunity to telecom companies that had conducted invasive spying during the George W. Bush years, when he extended the Patriot Act, when he prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all past presidents combined, when he expanded the NSA’s surveillance programs, and when he signed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and greenlit indefinite detention of US citizens without trial, Democrats remained complacent.

From January 2009 to the end of 2016, there has been a near-virtual silence from those identifying as Democrats against a variety of violations committed under President Obama, violations which were widely protested during the George W. Bush years, a fact that didn’t go unnoticed by researchers at the University of Michigan, who released the results of an analysis of antiwar activity and found that after Obama’s election, “Democratic participation in antiwar activities plunged, falling from 37 percent in January 2009 to a low of 19 percent in November 2009.” Unsurprisingly, they also discovered that “anti-Republican attitudes had a significant, positive effect on the likelihood that Democrats attended antiwar rallies.” Moreover, polling data from early 2012 showed Democrats supporting the same policies they heavily opposed during the Bush years, like keeping Guantanamo Bay open and drone warfare.

Under a Democratic president, the occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan was continued, US boots hit the ground in Syria and Iraq, US bombs fell in Libya, US drones terrorized the skies over Pakistan and Yemen, America’s nuclear arsenal was upgraded, and highly provocative military drills were conducted along the borders of Russia and China. Eight years of warmongering by the Nobel Peace Prize winner has been met with eight years of silence by the very same members of his party who protested such activities under a president whose main difference was the political party he was affiliated with.

But the eight year drought of direct action by Democrats abruptly ended in November of 2016 when someone from the “other” party just barely managed to score a presidential nomination. Facing a loss of power, suddenly, Democrats reappointed themselves as the sole defenders of minorities everywhere and quickly attempted to seize the moral high ground. Faces familiar during the Bush years clawed their way out from under enormous piles of steaming hypocrisy to lecture the world on human rights, faces like Michael Moore, who for the past two elections (2008, 2012) encouraged everyone to go out and vote for the guy blowing the legs off Muslim teenagers in faraway lands with aerial death machines. Protests filled major cities across the US with demonstrators wielding signs about human rights, equality, and social justice, the irony lost on them that the candidate they wanted so badly to win would have been just as dangerous to the very minorities they attempted to champion.

Muslims, both domestic and foreign, would have continued to fall under the threat of persecution, violence, or radicalization under a Hillary Clinton administration. She supported the US occupation of Afghanistan and both the 2003 invasion and 2012 reinvasion of Iraq, she supported the drone campaigns in Pakistan and Yemen, and she supported Obama’s meddling in Egypt and Syria, as well as the bombardment of Libya in 2011. Where was the outcry during the Obama years? Where was the outcry when she took these positions as a presidential candidate? As Glenn Greenwald of the Guardian wrote back in 2013:

Does anyone doubt that if Obama’s bombs were killing nice white British teenagers or smiling blond Swiss infants – rather than unnamed Yemenis, Pakistanis, Afghans and Somalis – that the reaction to this sustained killing would be drastically different? Does anyone doubt that if his overhead buzzing drones were terrorizing Western European nations rather than predominantly Muslim ones, the horror of them would be much easier to grasp? Does it really take any debate to know that if the 16-year-old American suspiciously killed by the US government two weeks after killing his father had been Jimmy Martin in Sweden rather than Abdulrahman al-Awlaki in Yemen, the media interest and public outcry would be far more substantial?

And let’s not forget that Obama, like Bush before him, and certainly like Hillary Clinton after him had she won, offered support to regimes like Saudi Arabia, which are notorious for oppressing homosexuals and women.

Domestically, the War on Terror has also caused a variety of discriminatory problems for the same minorities Hillary Clinton and other Democrats claim to be interested in protecting. In early 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) sued the Obama administration over government surveillance programs allegedly aimed at curtailing domestic Muslim extremism. According to the ACLU, based on public documents, “the initiatives appear based on theories about so-called radicalization and violence that years of social science research have proven wrong. They also result in ineffective law enforcement and unfairly stigmatize American Muslims.” Just a few years prior, it was also reported that the Obama administration was continuing to fund Bush-era programs in New York City that helped police departments spy on predominately Muslim American neighborhoods. As USA Today reported, money from Washington helped pay for “computers that store innocuous information about Muslim college students, mosque sermons and social events.” In the event of a Hillary Clinton victory, it seems likely that these types of policies wouldn’t disappear given her passionate support for and involvement in the Obama administration.

And then there’s the War on Drugs, another minority-crushing gem supported by both Republicans and Democrats alike. In 2010, just a year after Obama was sworn into office, black men and women were nearly four times as likely as whites to be arrested on charges of marijuana possession, even though the two groups used the drug at similar rates. African-Americans are 62 percent of drug offenders sent to state prisons, convicted at a rate 57 times higher than white men, yet they represent only 12 percent of the US population. In New York, Latinos are arrested at nearly 4 times the rate of whites for marijuana even though, as with blacks, the rates of use are nearly the same, and from 2008 to 2014, one-quarter of a million people were deported for nonviolent drug offenses, often due to low-level marijuana possession. Hillary Clinton vowed to continue failed drug prohibition policies and disregard the overwhelming evidence illustrating its blatantly racist overtones.

The idea that the Democratic Party is in any way, shape, or form entitled to the moral high ground over the equally horrific opposing party is a beyond ridiculous assertion without any basis in reality. To see crowds of people motivated to action by the loss of their party, protesting an archaic electoral college system that they would have likely accepted the results from had their candidate won, tests the limits of ones ability to empathize with their plight. Kill lists, defense of torture, mass surveillance, US citizens being picked off by drone missiles, the continued buildup of a vast empire – none of it prompted thousands upon thousands of American Democrats to fill cities across the US in a fit of anger because at the time, their chosen political racehorse was in Washington.

If Hillary had won, the drone strikes would have continued. The wars would have continued. The spying would continue. Prohibition would continue. Whistleblowers would continue being prosecuted and hunted down. And minorities would continue bearing the brunt of these policies, both in the US and across the world. The difference is that in such a scenario, Democrats, if the last eight years are any indication, would remain silent – as they did under Obama – offering bare minimum concern and vilifying anyone attacking their beloved president as some sort of hater. Cities across the US would remain free of protests, and for another 4-8 years, Democrats would continue doing absolutely nothing to end the same horrifying policies now promoted by a Republican.

Trump’s victory, if there is anything good to say about it, will at least breathe much needed life into an antiwar sentiment that has been largely dormant since Bush left office. Issues like drone strikes, torture, military occupations, mass surveillance, and other hot button subjects once protested by Democratic partisans during the Bush era will again – hopefully – be criticized and fought against. Yet the shame about it all is that this time, those unaffiliated with either of the two major parties – those who have been focused on these issues while Democrats have offered pathetic excuses and baseless justifications in defense of them – won’t make the mistake of thinking Democrats will stick around for the fight if they win office again in the next election.


  1. Hertog Jan says

    Am going to learn this by heart, and add something about “did nothing about the people in charge on 9/11.”

  2. Reblogged this on nonnie7696's Blog and commented:

    #ConservaDems #Neoliberalism #NeoFeudalism #CorporateFascism #Warmongers #WarCriminals #CrimesAgainstHumanity #WarProfiteers #RegimeChangeForOil #Imperialism #ObamasLegacy

  3. “Democrats lost moral high ground”? ……… are you kidding. Democraps and Republican’ts haven’t had “moral” anything for so long that even discussing it seems odd! Seems to be a lost concept in the U.S. in general.
    But a great post, however.

    • In fairness, though, not everyone is up to speed on that particular issue, which is why the point needs to be re-iterated endlessly.

      But yeah, I know: how could anyone not have caught on to the utter bankruptcy of the political class so brazenly on display all of the time, eh?

      On the up side, nearly half of the eligible electorate didn’t bother showing up for the “vote,” and as Kettle puts it, f there is anything good to say about the seemingly sudden re-awakening among those who even bothered to cast ballots, it does “breathe much needed life into an antiwar sentiment that has been largely dormant since Bush left office.” Not much comfort, but at least a little . . .

      • Tubularsock has always thought that having someone decent to vote for might just turn out the vote. May explain why so many didn’t “bother showing up, “eh”?

  4. michaelk says

    Liberals. the left, live under the illusion, the conceit, at least vast swathes of them do, that they are smarter and more sophisticated than the morons on the right, the kind of people ready to vote for Trump. Whilst intelligent people wouldn’t dream of it. No, they’ed vote proudly for Obama or Clinton, who everybody with half a brain knows is so much better than another awful Republican.

  5. johnschoneboom says

    All so true. And what do my Democrat-voting friends get when I tell them stuff like this?


    Not sure what the way forward is, other than wait for the end of the world and start over.

  6. Kathleen Lowrey says

    Absolutely. I simply cannot read any more laments by anti-racist feminist liberals about how Trump has changed everything when under Bush, and Obama, with explicit promises for more under Clinton II, the United States has been systematically murdering poor men, women, and children of color overseas for YEARS. Not just murdering, either: torturing and maiming, too. Having Donald Trump as president is symbolically important — the U.S. can’t put a good face on any of it anymore.

  7. BigB says

    The war on drugs – my favourite American hypocrisy – when the truth is written it shall be called by it’s true name “the war on Hispanics and Blacks”. It is nothing short of a genocide and ongoing ethnic cleansing.
    Probably because it would be career (or actual) suicide – no one asks the question “who supplies the drugs?” There is only one conclusion to be drawn – it has been a deliberate Government policy since the end of WWII – they even set up their own import company – the Cocaine Import Agency.
    It started with the Luciano/Lansky operation which become known as “the French Connection” – it expanded into the “China White” heroin for arms trade in SE Asia run by Ted Shackleys “secret team” – of course there is the Contra connection in which “$14m for the Contras came from drugs” – written in North’s diary. Gary Webb made the Contra supply to the crack epidemic of the 90s in his “Dark Alliance” series – the bit they really don’t you to know about is the Barry Seal operation that was flying coke straight into the nose of the then governor of Arkansas – William Jefferson Clinton – it’s all lies! That was in Mena – you may have heard of Mena. There were a thousand Menas.
    At every stage the poor and underprivileged were targeted – not solely – there were plenty of White junkies in Vietnam and plenty of whites are hooked now (abuse among the ethnic communities is down). They are not racist – they just don’t care anymore.
    BTW – BBC propaganda alert. I saw on the news the other night that the Mexican heroin trade is increasing and young White privileged college folk are suffering as a result (build a wall!) The nasty Mexican dealers are cooking an extra 3-5 kilos a week to meet demand. With at least 13.5 million users worldwide that’s a drop in the ocean. What they want to divert attention from is that 90% of the production comes from Afghanistan – nasty Taliban. There is no Government connection – it’s all lies!

    • Brian Harry, Australia says

      Not to mention the ‘Laundering’ of billions of dollars of proceeds of the international drug trade through the biggest American and British Banks(for which the Banks have been fined, but no one has been jailed) and no apparent attempt to follow the money trail through the banking system to its ultimate destination.
      Is it any wonder that there is unlimited funds available to bribe politicians of all shades, and once you’ve bribed them, you own them for life.

      • BigB says

        Absolutely, the only ‘liquidity’ that kept many of the big banks afloat in’08/09 was laundered ‘black money.’ BCCI was set up as a shellgame specifically to launder money and fund international terrorism (including al Qaeda.) The original BCCI was the Vatican Bank – which laundered drug money and redistributed it as funds for the counter-Communist Gladio operations in Italy and the rest of Europe. In fact, the drugs/terrorism/illicit arms trade is so interwoven as to count as one trade.

  8. ‘Gender-equal’ snow removal procedures left Stockholm paralyzed

    STOCKHOLM, Sweden, November 16, 2016 – A “feminist” snow removal plan that dictated sidewalks be cleared before streets plunged Sweden’s capital in chaos after a record snowfall.

    The biggest snowfall in 111 years proved the first real test for the “feminist” or “gender-equal” snow removal policy brought in by a new municipal council controlled by a Left-Green coalition.

    The city government is intent on putting as much civic energy into clearing bike paths and sidewalks used by environmentally- and fitness-minded women as into the roads frequented by male-dominated motor vehicle traffic.

    But chaos reportedly was the result for both genders, according to the tabloid Aftonbladet’s headline, “Feministisk snöröjning funkar inte i Stockholm,” (“Feminist Snow Removal Flunks in Stockholm.”)

    Buses (also, it turns out, heavily used by women) were stuck by the hundreds on roads blocked by stalled cars. Light rail trains moved at half speed, forcing stranded commuters to walk for hours to get home from work, slipping and falling on glasslike sidewalks and bike paths. Others stayed home with children as schools shut down.


    But I bet they have time for these kind of policies!

    When it came out in the Wikileak emails that Clinton and the DNC had sabotaged Bernie Sanders to clear the path for Hillary and the ones protesting now said nothing then, it shows their rank hypocrisy.

    • John says

      Sanders’ supporters may have spoken out on the issue – but not Sanders himself.
      Why is that?

  9. John says

    There is a potentially alternative course of action that truly ethical Democrats could take.
    In Britain, there is a new and growingly influential movement called Momentum, which was primarily engaged in securing the re-election of Jeremy Corbyn as Leader of the Labour Party. Now that that objective has been secured, it is developing into an alternative policy-making body for the Labour Party, as well as getting organised to win the next general election and gain national power as the next UK Government.
    I don’t know what plans Bernie Sanders has for the future and what plans his supporters now have in terms of developing new policies for the Democrat Party. If they were to set up a similar body in the US to the UK’s Momentum, this could reintroduce some moral and ethical backbone back into the Democrat Party.
    I am sure people like Jeremy Corbyn, John McDonnell and other leading associates with Momentum would be more than happy to pass on information and knowledge gained in the UK which would assist the Democrats.

  10. GTFONWO says

    Brilliant. Perfect. Could not say it better myself. This piece will be the go-to synopsis, and the obituary of the DNC. Alas, tho, Trump will make no difference.

  11. If the American people persist in electing the worst of them to the ultimate office then they will persist in being treated as the fools they are!

    • To be fair the two party system (by now, one-party-two-fronts) ensures that no decent human being will ever survive the vetting process.

      So where Americans are culpable is in (1) not seeing this and (2) treating ever-morphing political parties as brands, or football teams.

      The ROW has been afraid of Democrat presidents for one hundred years since they are the warmongers par excellence. American gems are astonished when they here this

  12. Brian Harry, Australia says

    It doesn’t matter what a candidate for the Presidency thinks BEFORE he is elected. When he/she is elected that’s when reality kicks in………..

    • Brian Harry, Australia says

      The video is readily available here in Australia. Bill Hicks, describing what happens to each new President after he is elected, being shown a video of the Kennedy assassination…………and then, when it’s finished, being asked, by America’s richest capitalists, “any questions?”

          • Brian Harry, Australia says

            Thanks for the effort…….But I cannot watch that one here in Australia……weird huh?

            • Yep, it is weird.

              Just watched Bill’s performance, again, of “Relentless, 1992.”

              You know, I forget about him, but then someone like you will mention him, and it’s like discovering him again for the first time.

              Like Carlin, his shtick had broad social and political relevance and even now makes him as relevant as ever.

              Hard to believe that he was only 33 when he died.

              • Brian Harry, Australia says

                It’s suspicious at least. He was hugely critical of the ruling elite, like George Carlin, and both of them didn’t hold back. Both of them opened my eyes to the fakery of the MSM……

            • John says

              The internet – and internet content – is not as “free” and as accessible as we perhaps think it is.
              Different countries have different technical systems, based originally around differences in TV formats.
              The US/North America, for example, was the first to introduce colour TV but it was technically different to that used in the UK, which was arguably a technically better system and provided a better standard of colour output.
              In addition, some of the increasingly influential global corporations have been tying up licencing for TV and other forms of output through licencing arrangements, some of which involves paying fees for access to content.
              This – I believe – also applies to YouTube, which has different systems for different parts of the world.
              This is why it is not always possible to view the same content according to whether one is in the UK, Europe, North America or Oceania.
              Is there anyone who can spell this out in better than detail than I can manage and who an suggest ways of overcoming the differences between the different technical systems?

              • Brian Harry, Australia says

                Thanks for that clarification. I can’t help with the technicalities. I’m sooo…. “20th Century”…………

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