ISIS is Israeli Secret Intelligence Service

Monday, August 8, 2011

Obama on the Backs of the Poor

Obama on the Backs of the Poor

Exclusive: The painful resolution of the debt-ceiling crisis shows that Republicans and the Right know how to play hardball – and that the Democrats and President Barack Obama know how to get rolled.

Former CIA analyst Ray McGovern is thinking about other options.

By Ray McGovern
August 08, 2011

What are we to make of the Obama-brokered deal on debt and spending?

It was certainly what the Germans call eine schwere Geburt (a difficult birth); it was one of the few times I would have favored abortion.

I am reminded of a sermon that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. gave during the turbulent 1950s, in which he peered into the future and issued a prescient warning:

“A nation or a civilization that continues to produce soft-minded
men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

In promoting and then signing the so-called “deficit reduction”
legislation, President Barack Obama has definitively confirmed
that he stands in the ranks of those spiritual-death-dealing,
“soft-minded” men about whom Dr. King warned so ominously.

In my view, even dyed-in-the-wool Obama supporters will now
have to let the scales fall from their eyes. The new one-sided
“compromise” so clearly promotes the interests of the wealthy
over those of the poor that, in Biblical terms, it can readily be
seen as a Goddamned deal.

I want to share some thoughts with those among us — believers
and non-believers alike — who shudder at the prospect of our
children and children’s children inheriting a country far
different from the one promised by the American Dream, a
nation approaching “spiritual death.”

If you are not greatly concerned with the growing disparity between
the rich and poor in this country, take another minute to ponder
another warning from Dr. King in the same sermon:

“Passively to accept an unjust system is to cooperate with that
system, and thereby to become a participant in its evil.”

It is a bitter pill – and a great disappointment – that the President
has turned his back on those about whom the Hebrew and Christian
scriptures express the deepest concern, the anawim.

This frequently used Biblical word denotes not just those on the
margins, but the despised, hated, poor, often said in Scripture
to include the widows, the orphans, the strangers.

My atheist friends regularly remind me to widen my perspective.

The scriptural mandate to care for the widows, the orphans and the strangers springs from the highest of human instincts, and neither requires nor presupposes a faith perspective.

In modern American history, it also has been shown that having a
vibrant middle class is good for business, while a society of a few
rich and many poor is prone to destructive boom-and-bust cycles.

A huge majority of economists concede that America has been
sliding into a land of haves and have-nots for the past several
decades and that the “deal” Obama signed into law on Tuesday
will do little, if anything, to improve the lives of our fellow citizens
deprived of work, shelter, medical care and other necessities.

In sum, Obama – again put in a corner by Republicans who appeared
ready to force the United States into default if they didn’t get their
way – reneged on a promise not to let the burden for coping with the
economic/fiscal mess fall primarily on the backs of the poor.

The immediate deficit-cutting plan excludes any additional tax
revenues from the rich, a line in the sand drawn by Republicans
who were determined to protect even an extravagant tax loophole
for corporate jet owners and special tax breaks for oil companies
recording record profits.

And Republican leaders have made clear that they will be equally
adamant against any new tax revenue from the recommendations of
a special congressional committee, meaning that the United States
will soon face another budget crisis in which the Republicans will
demand even deeper spending cuts.

Demons and Scripture

Scripture contains a lot of stories about demons.

These texts were always a stretch for me, until I found myself investigating my country’s use of kidnapping, torture and black-site prisons — not to mention targeted assassinations. No longer could I make light of the demonic.

Lessons from the various indignities visited on many of my friends
in inner-city Washington have served as confirmation. Ex-offenders
are especially prominent among the anawim of our nation’s capital.

If we are to follow Dr. King’s mandate to avoid participation
in unjust systems and practices inevitably exacerbated by the
legislation signed by the President on Tuesday, we need to
decide how to react. Ideally, we will choose to move forward in
a wide, justice-and-peace oriented community.

From what is known of Jeremiah Wright, Obama’s pastor in
Chicago, and the United Church of Christ’s reputation for
faithfulness to Hebrew as well as Christian scripture, it is a
safe bet that the social gospel was preached again and again
in the hearing of an attentive Obama.

There is no way he could have escaped the insight that the ancient
Hebrew concept of social justice was something that many in the
U.S. power elite today would decry as an un-American activity.

This Hebrew concept of justice, which Jesus strongly embraced, challenges modern America and its economic inequality at almost every turn.

Take, for example, the Biblical concept of the Jubilee Year, which mandated widespread redistribution of wealth every 50 years. (See what I mean about “un-American?”)

I think we can assume that, if Obama were paying attention, he
would have assimilated the starkly countercultural Hebrew concept
of the Jubilee Year — an inspiration that rejected the idea of
accumulated wealth and the outsized power that goes with it.

The Bible was dead serious about the redistribution of wealth. The
Jewish sense was that, over time, the community would inevitably
see immoderate wealth and immoderate poverty co-existing.

In other words, it was a given — for a whole bunch of very human
reasons — that there would be mal-distribution of wealth, and the
concept of Jubilee was to squash it all back down, essentially
requiring everyone to return to the same starting point every 50
years as a matter of law.

Granted, it was a primitive idea for a simple economy, but the
Jubilee spirit was the spirit of the God of the Hebrews who insisted
time and again through the Biblical writers and prophets “there shall
be no poor among you.”

And for that to happen, there had to be periodic sharing of wealth.

It would be perhaps too much to expect that President Obama would have broached something along these lines to House Speaker John Boehner.

Still, would it have been too much a stretch to expect some mutual concern – from Republicans and Democrats alike – over the growing disparity between rich and poor in this country?

Boehner is fond of advertising that he is a Catholic. Me too.

The House speaker is a little younger than I am, but I would be surprised if he had not learned that the first thing Jesus of Nazareth said in his inaugural speech was that he had come to “bring good news to the poor.”

There was only bad news for the poor from the debt-limit

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