Who’s in Charge Here, Anyway?


P. J. Sullivan

President Obama seems such a nice man.  A family man  with a beautiful wife and beautiful children. And the requisite family dogs. As wholesome as Ozzie and Harriet. His rhetoric is beautiful, full of hope for progressive change. He even has a Nobel peace prize.  What’s not to like?

But wait a minute here!  He is commander-in-chief of the biggest military machine in history. A military machine that trespasses in many countries, that tortures and kills people. Innocent people. He wages wars. Unjust wars, unnecessary wars. He terrorizes people with drones. He modernizes America’s nuclear arsenal while calling for an end to nuclear weapons.

What are we to think of this man? Either he is a hypocrite or he is not in charge. He has not kept his campaign promises. Has he tried?  Horrible things are happening on his watch.

He is a president, not a king or dictator. There are limits to his power. Republicans in Congress have blocked him at every step. So is Obama in charge? Is any president ever in charge? What is a president anyway? Is a president only a front for the invisible oligarchs who  actually rule?  FDR said that presidents are selected, not elected.

S. Brian Willson, author of Blood on the Tracks, said,  “What the United States call democracy is actually a vertical model of remote governance by oligarchs—economic barons and their political representatives.”

According to Giuseppe Prezzolini, “Representative government is artifice, a political myth, designed to conceal from the masses the dominance of a self-selected, self-perpetuating, and self-serving traditional ruling class.”

So a traditional ruling class is in charge, not the president? Then is the president to blame for what it does? He is if he willingly fronts for the rulers, lending them his aura of credibility.

Does it matter who is president? Are presidents only facades? Poster boys for the oligarchy? I think presidents can make a difference, but not nearly as much as people think. Obama is very different from George W. Bush, but is his administration’s record very different from that of Bush? I think not. Bolivian president Evo Morales said of Obama, “If something has changed, it’s just the color of the president.” Has a change of presidents ever brought more than cosmetic change? Would a President Gore have invaded Iraq? (Hillary Clinton supported that invasion.)

The Kennedy assassinations in the Sixties suggest that  it does matter to the invisible rulers who is president.

If The Donald should become president—perish the thought—there would be limits to the damage he could  do because the same puppeteers would be pulling his strings. But would those limits be adequate? Remember, there is a Supreme Court nomination pending.

6 thoughts on “Who’s in Charge Here, Anyway?

  1. Thank you for your insightful and all too true comments. Let us all work together to stop America’s continued willful aggression.

  2. “What the United States call democracy is actually a vertical model of remote governance by oligarchs—economic barons and their political representatives.” The two party system has evolved into a machine for self-preservation for itself which entails controlling financial and spending legislation at the expense of the nation.

    Why Hillary Clinton is consistently considered more “rational” or “effective” than Trump is a mirage despite the TV networks favoring Hillary Clinton, which is bias masquerading as reporting.

  3. In a word, the answer is “YES!” That is, Obama, the seemingly mild-mannered Constitutional Law Professor is, personally, a hypocrite. And yes, POTUS serves at the pleasure of the US Ruling Class. Since “our” government insists on maintaining the whitewash of JFK’s assassination, we may never know the full story. But it’s open knowledge that in the days leading up to Nov. 22, 1963 Dallas was seething with extremist rightwing hatred toward our first (and thus far only) Catholic president. It’s also well known that FDR was surrounded by a brain trust that helped him craft the policies that saved Capitalism from the Great Depression (though it can well be argued that the stimulus of preparation for World War II was the real “cure” for that malaise). A persuasive, winning personality is obviously helpful in putting over a president’s program to the electorate. That being said, let it be remembered that to this day “Libertarians” and their ilk absolutely despise Roosevelt and his legacy. A certain Mr. Churchill also made stirring speeches during the crisis of the great war, but on the whole what did he stand for? Continued exploitation of “little ‘wogs'” overseas and suppression of their desire for independence. Now, Dubya is a whole other beastie. I dare say it was never more obvious than during that simpleton’s residence at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that POTUS is just a front man for the real policy- and decision-makers. (Despite little George’s pathetic boast that HE was “the Decider”!) Given the gullibility of the US electorate, only time will tell how much damage a Trump could wreak if he succeeds in winning the White House. “Checks and balances”? Ah, takes me back to my elementary school classes in Civics! Guess what, folks? Most of what we were taught back then (in my case, I’m talking about the 1950s) was and remains pure poppycock.

  4. What an absolutely appropriate graphic image to illustrate this thread topic. George W. Bush — or “the Shrub,” as the late Molly Ivins called him — always reminded me of Don Knotts and the inimitable television character he created: Barney Fife, the bumbling deputy sheriff of fictional Mayberry, North Carolina, on the Andy Griffith show (1960-1968). John Dilulio, Dubya’s first director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (early 2001 to August 2001), called Bush, Jr, and his chief advisers “The Mayberry Machiavellis,” an insight which I found both appropriate and poetic. Like, for example:

    (from Hanoi Haiku)

    Deputy Dubya
    Sheriff Cheney’s Barney Fife
    Lost in Mayberry

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2006


    Deputy Dubya’s Droopy Diaper Rap

    You fell asleep on watch and let some bad guys blow us up,
    And when you woke you swore to pay them back.
    You then attacked a country that had never done us harm
    Which seems to indicate it’s brains you lack.

    You needed made-up reasons that you thought the rubes would buy.
    You swore Saddam Hussein had done the crime.
    You had Ms. Rice warn darkly of some sprouting mushroom clouds
    In little less than forty minutes’ time.

    Dick Cheney spoke of spies who may have met one night in Prague
    Discussing who-knows-what? or when? or how?
    He claimed that all this nothing added up to something big
    That justified attacking Iraq now.

    Don Rumsfeld claimed to know just where to find those awful bombs.
    He said he knew exactly where they were.
    That none had ever come to light disturbed him not at all;
    For dreams, not facts, made better sales allure.

    And Colin Powell played along and told the world untruths
    In service to a man who oft betrays;
    And now no thinking person who resides on Planet Earth
    Believes a single word that this man says.

    Your CIA did what it does, whatever that might be;
    And spent more billions finding zilch to fear;
    But undeterred you pressed ahead until the spooks agreed
    To tell you everything you longed to hear.

    The Pet Press pundit sycophants fell quickly into line;
    For “access” they had sold their souls for free.
    You gave each one a nickname in return for which they swore
    To overlook your rank stupidity.

    The Congress went along and did precisely not one thing
    To cure us of our doubts about their worth.
    They swarmed aboard the lemming liner, “Gulf of Tonkin II,”
    And led us once again to rue their birth.

    So came the night of green-hued TV pictures from “The Front”
    With breathless claims of “Shock and Awe” profound
    That really only lulled and bored the viewers back at home
    Impressing no Iraqis on the ground.

    You and your team, of course, converged to watch the main event;
    To stomp and cheer each way-cool boom and bang.
    You had photographers snap pictures of you gettin’ down
    And doin’ that studly Texas hamster thang.

    With manhood issues unresolved, you pranced and leaped about
    With every adolescent urge fulfilled,
    You launched three dozen missiles at a Baghdad neighborhood
    Yet never cared to wonder whom you’d killed.

    And don’t you think that forty missiles seem a little much
    To cut the heads off three Iraqi men
    Who, anyway, were somewhere else when all the bombs arrived
    And not where you supposed them to have been?

    That word “decapitation” sounded swell not long ago
    But now only reminds us of your lies.
    Some folks have lost their heads, all right, just not the ones you planned;
    Just those who drive your trucks and cook your fries.

    So things have gone from only-bad to worse-than-that and more
    As GI coffins come home late at night;
    And billions run into the hundred-billions off the books
    Which makes those foreign lenders quake with fright.

    You started spouting Jesus jive because you think it sells
    Among religious folks who live in dread
    Of terrorist hijackers crashing into Red State barns
    And working people organized and led.

    To you, the Middle Ages sound like just the place to reign
    With hopeless people waiting for their doom
    Who every thousand years or so take off their clothes and climb
    Up on their roofs to wait for what? and whom?

    You learned to watch the NBA and do that high-five dance.
    You’ve learned your three-word mantras through and through.
    George Tenet taught you how to ‘slam-and-dunk’ and jockstrap-sniff
    But still you’ve never grown to more than you.

    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2005

    Thank you, Don Knotts, for Barney Fife, the absolutely perfect personification of George “Deputy Dubya” Bush. What a fount of poetic inspiration. Too bad for the world he left in flames, though.

  5. “Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on…um, uh…Is there a copy of ‘My Pet Goat’ handy I can read aloud from?”

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