President Barack Obama entered office as a “hope and change” candidate who promised to be far different from his predecessor George W. Bush. However, in his fifth year in office, Obama has taken on the trappings of a “strongman,” a leader found more often in Africa, the land of Obama’s paternal lineage, and in Asia, from where his step-father hailed.
Obama has not only maintained unprecedented “unitary executive” powers amassed up by Bush and his vice president, Dick Cheney, but in the area of surveillance and press restrictions, Obama has gone far beyond the preceding administration . . .
Many Obama supporters believed that the first African-American president and a former constitutional law professor would ring to the presidency an appreciation for not only the rule of law and America’s traditions of free speech, a free press, and a belief on privacy but also an understanding that the United States is but one of some two hundred nations, many in Africa and Asia, that Washington must learn to live with in peace.
But after five years in office, an ominous shadow has emerged over the United States. Obama has instituted an unprecedented system of surveillance of the phone calls, e-mails, and Internet transactions of Americans, including eavesdropping operations directed against journalists and their sources. Associated Press president Gary Pruitt recently told the National Press Club in Washington that the wire service’s “longtime trusted sources” have stopped speaking to AP reporters as a result of the Obama administration’s wiretapping of journalists and their sources, as well as unprecedented criminal charges pursuant to the 1917 Espionage Act being brought to bear on government whistleblowers.
Obama’s dalliance with fascism is part and parcel of a troubling trend among first generation American politicians who have a parent or parents that came to America from nations lacking a strong tradition and history of democratic rule. This appears particularly true among first generation Hispanics, individuals like Florida’s Republican Senator Marco Rubio and Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, whose parents come from nations like Cuba, Mexico, Honduras, and other nations that have suffered from military junta after junta and who adhere to the right-wing line of bolstering U.S. national security at all costs, the Bill of Rights be damned. These Latino and Latina leaders also support with U.S. aid and military advice right-wing regimes in Honduras, Colombia, Paraguay, and Guatemala, and right-wing opposition groups in Cuba, Venezuela, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Ecuador, and other countries. Moreover, the goals of America’s political “caudillo class” in Latin America and elsewhere are supported wholeheartedly by Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry. Moreover, Bush-era Justice Department officials like John Yoo and Viet Dinh, champions of the Patriot Act, hail from South Korea and South Vietnam, respectively. These nations have hardly had strong democratic traditions and values.
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