The Vanity of Perfectionism

Exclusive: As President Obama faces a tough reelection fight, some on the Left vow to sit it out or vote for a third party, saying support for Obama would dirty them. But there is another moral imperative, to mitigate the harm a U.S. president can inflict on the world’s people and the planet itself, says Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

Some Americans view elections as a time to express their disappointment or even their anger at the shortcomings of the major party candidates closest to their own positions, a tendency particularly noticeable on the Left. In recent decades, this behavior has contributed to a string of Democratic defeats at the presidential level Hubert Humphrey in 1968, Jimmy Carter in 1980 and Al Gore in 2000 as well as key setbacks in Congress in 1980, 1994 and 2010.

President George W. Bush being told by chief of staff Andrew Card that "the nation is under attack" on 9/11. Bush remained frozen for nearly seven minutes.

And, with its disproportionate prevalence on the American Left, this voting pattern now threatens to cost Barack Obama a second term. Some on the Left feel no compunction about aiding in Obama’s defeat even if it means installing Mitt Romney, an unabashed one-percenter in the White House.

Romney also would likely be accompanied by a Republican-controlled Congress with a mandate to complete the dismantling of the New Deal at home and, abroad, to extend the Afghan War and possibly start a new war with Iran. So the question is: should politics be an expression of your feelings or your expectation of consequences?

For the past 40-plus years, this “lesser-evil” debate has been fought primarily on the Left in America. By contrast, the Right tends to challenge Republican candidates in primaries but then lines up behind the party nominees whoever they are.

Progressives have shown less determination to fight for control of the Democratic Party, preferring instead to vote for third-party candidates or simply express their displeasure by sitting out November elections.

While brushing aside alarms about the dangers from the Republicans, many progressives instead focus on the failures and misdeeds of the Democrats. Humphrey was too slow in opposing the Vietnam War; Carter shifted too much to the center; Gore supported the NAFTA trade agreement and military intervention in Yugoslavia; and Obama continued prosecuting the “war on terror” (albeit by a different name and in a more targeted fashion) and didn’t do enough to enact progressive priorities.

Much Worse?

While there is surely merit in all these complaints, the other side of the debate would note — from a progressive perspective — that the Republican alternative is often worse, sometimes much worse.

Indeed, one way to view this question is to ask: What might the world look like if the “lesser-evil” Democrat had prevailed in those earlier elections? What if Richard Nixon had lost in 1968, Ronald Reagan in 1980, and George W. Bush in 2000? Would Americans and the people of the planet be better off?

We now know, for instance, that in 1968, President Lyndon Johnson was serious about negotiating an end to the Vietnam War and was closing in on that objective. The evidence is also overwhelming that Nixon’s campaign went behind Johnson’s back to sabotage the peace talks, denying Vice President Humphrey a last-minute boost and enabling Nixon to hang on for a narrow victory.

Nixon then continued the Vietnam War for four more years, while infusing U.S. politics with his paranoid win-at-all-cost poison.

Though many progressives in 1968 may have felt justified in expressing their anger at Johnson and Humphrey by boycotting the Democratic campaign, the practical effect of that behavior was to turn the U.S. government over to a dangerous individual, Nixon, whose policies not only extended the unimaginable horror across Southeast Asia but helped overthrow Chile’s democratic government in 1973 and unleashed a spasm of right-wing terror across Latin America.

For all his faults on the Vietnam War, Humphrey would have supported Johnson’s efforts to bring the war to a close quickly and would have worked to refocus the U.S. government on domestic priorities, like poverty and racism. Humphrey had long been a stalwart for civil rights and economic fairness. The United States also would have been spared the Watergate scandal and the ugly way it changed American politics.

Anger at Carter

In 1980, many progressives were angry with President Carter for shifting the Democratic Party toward the center, a trend that prompted a primary challenge from Sen. Edward Kennedy.

After defeating Kennedy, Carter had trouble rallying the Left behind him heading into the fall election against Ronald Reagan (whose campaign apparently had learned some of Nixon’s old tricks and undercut Carter’s efforts to negotiate freedom for 52 Americans held hostage in Iran).

It was common to think then and it is conventional wisdom now that Carter was an inept president who lacked a grand vision and over-emphasized issues like alternative energy, human rights, arms control with the Soviets, and peace in the Middle East.

In retrospect, however, a Carter second term could have proved crucial in weaning Americans from their dependence on fossil fuels, restraining right-wing repression in Latin America and elsewhere, pushing nuclear non-proliferation, and pressuring Israel to reach a two-state solution with the Palestinians.

In 1980, the anti-Carter intensity on the Right was driven by those same priorities. Carter was a threat to Big Oil which wanted nothing to do with alternative energy, a threat to Cold Warriors who wanted to heat up international tensions (though the Soviet Union was in a steep decline), and a threat to the Likud’s strategy of blocking a Palestinian state by moving more and more Jewish settlers onto the West Bank.

The election of Ronald Reagan along with the Republican victory in the Senate sent the United States off on a very different course than the one Carter had charted.

Reagan more than halved the top marginal income tax rate for the rich; he expanded the military budget even as the Soviets were seeking detente; he created a gigantic federal deficit; he smashed unions; he slashed federal regulations, including on financial institutions; he gutted Carter’s programs for alternative energy and reversed environmental policies; he collaborated with death squads across Latin America and in Africa; he vastly expanded U.S. support for Islamic fundamentalists fighting a Soviet-backed government in Afghanistan; he looked the other way as Pakistan developed a nuclear bomb; and he put Middle East peace on the backburner as Israel bolstered the West Bank settlements and invaded Lebanon.

Ronald Reagan also imposed a new orthodoxy on the way journalists, scholars and politicians could talk about the United States. Whereas the 1970s offered a brief window for looking back honestly at the many wrongful acts committed by the U.S. government, the 1980s saw an enforced “patriotism” that frowned on as Reagan’s UN Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick put it those who would “blame America first.” Critical voices were marginalized, controversialized and effectively silenced.

While it’s impossible to chart alternative histories precisely, it is safe to say that many of America’s problems were made worse by Reagan’s presidency.

He began the systematic savaging of the Great Middle Class, widening the gap between the rich and everyone else; he sharply increased the national debt; he pushed the deregulation frenzy on Wall Street; he continued America’s dependence on fossil fuels and disdained environmental safeguards; he alienated Washington from much of the Western Hemisphere by supporting state terror across Central America; he transformed Afghanistan into a home for Islamic terrorism; he permitted nuclear proliferation in South Asia; he allowed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to fester.

It is perhaps a commentary on how Reagan neutered the U.S. press corps and duped the American people that he is remembered as one of the greatest U.S. presidents. To this day, almost no one in Washington’s mainstream dares to speak critically about the real effect that Reagan’s presidency had on the country and the world.

Bush v. Gore

In 2000, the United States was at another crossroads. Eight years under President Bill Clinton had addressed some of the problems left behind by 12 years of Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

For instance, by slightly raising the top marginal tax rate on the rich, restraining spending and riding the wave of the new Internet economy, Clinton had succeeded in eliminating the federal deficit. By the end of Clinton’s presidency with employment expanding and poverty shrinking government budget estimates foresaw the complete elimination of the national debt.

But Clinton had upset the American Left by continuing many of the tough-guy policies from the Reagan-Bush-41 era. Clinton kept in place harsh sanctions against Iraq and intervened militarily in sectarian clashes in the old Yugoslavia. He also had worked with Republicans to limit welfare, to expand trade agreements and to loosen more regulations on the banking system.

So, when his Vice President Al Gore faced off against Texas Gov. George W. Bush, some on the Left decided it was time to teach those “triangulating” Democrats a lesson. However, instead of challenging Gore for the Democratic Party nomination in the way that the Right has reshaped the Republican Party these progressives supported Green Party candidate Ralph Nader and ignored warnings that this strategy might doom Gore’s election chances.

Nader encouraged this result by telling young and impressionable voters that Gore was “Tweedle-dee” to Bush’s “Tweedle-dum.” Nader ran on the slogan, “not a dime’s worth of difference” between Bush and Gore. On the Left, many activists appeared persuaded that there really were no meaningful distinctions between Bush and Gore.

However, in retrospect, there were key differences. Experienced on the world stage, Gore was alert to the terror threat from al-Qaeda, while Bush pooh-poohed the danger. He blew off a CIA warning in August 2001 and then sat dumbstruck in a second-grade classroom reading “The Pet Goat” on 9/11 when two hijacked commercial jets struck the Twin Towers in New York and another headed toward the Pentagon.

Bush then followed the advice of neoconservative advisers — rushing through a retaliatory invasion of Afghanistan and letting al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden slip away — so the U.S. military could move on to invading Iraq, which had nothing to do with the 9/11 attacks.

The Iraq invasion and resulting chaos led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and ironically helped al-Qaeda establish a foothold in the Sunni areas of Iraq. Meanwhile, Bush’s neglect of the Afghan conflict allowed al-Qaeda’s allies, the Taliban, to stage a comeback there.

If Gore had been president, it’s very possible 9/11 never would have happened and even if it did Gore would have almost surely responded in a less blunderbuss way. Gore also had a strong record for respecting the constitutional rights of Americans and the principles of international law, while Bush treated both as inconveniencies to be ignored or overridden.

Bush also enacted more tax cuts weighted toward the wealthy, blowing a huge hole in the federal budget and hollowing out more of the middle class. Bush appointed two more right-wing justices to the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts and Samuel Alito, key votes in the 2010 Citizens United case, which opened the floodgates to special interest spending to buy elections.

But perhaps most significantly, Gore cared about the looming existential crisis of global warming, while Bush treated the issue with disdain, thus contributing to the hostility now expressed by right-wingers who depict the science on climate change as a myth and as part of some grand socialist conspiracy.

If the planet continues toward climate devastation with ice caps melting, sea levels rising and droughts disrupting food supplies a key turning point will have been the presidency of George W. Bush, rather than the presidency of Al Gore.

While many institutions and individuals share the blame for installing Bush in the White House, part of the responsibility must fall on the Green Party and Ralph Nader, who helped Bush get close enough to steal Florida’s electoral votes and thus the presidency. The bitter irony is that the one major mark that the American Green Party may have on history is enabling an anti-environmental president to put the world on course for ecological destruction.

Yes, I know Nader and the Green Party deny all responsibility for this catastrophe; they point their fingers at everybody else including Al Gore. But their arguments are sophistry. The truth is they ignored many timely warnings about the danger that ultimately came to pass; they knew they were playing chicken with the planet; their reckless words (about “Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee” and “not a dime’s worth of difference”) were unsafe at any speed.

Obama’s Reelection?

Which brings us to 2012 and what many on the Left insist is another meaningless election between two politicians whose only differences are cosmetic. We are told again that it doesn’t matter whether President Obama gets a second term or if Mitt Romney and the Tea-Party Republicans take full control of the U.S. government.

We’re told that elections simply don’t matter, even if these right-wing Republicans will likely gut what’s left of the New Deal and the Great Society; will further concentrate wealth at the top; will free Wall Street from even the modest burden of the Dodd-Frank regulations; will drive more middle-class families into poverty; will let thousands of Americans die prematurely without health care; will put neocons firmly back in charge of U.S. foreign policy with plans to extend the Afghan War and start possible new wars in Syria and Iran.

After all, Barack Obama has not been perfect on these issues. He has blood on his own hands. He has made many compromises. He is far from the socialist that some Tea Partiers claim he is. I’m often told by progressives that they are “disappointed” in Obama as if their feelings are the most important part of this equation.

It does seem that some on the Left will only be satisfied with perfection. They act more like critics whose job is to find fault with a politician than as participants in a political process. “Obama should have done this; Obama should have done that.”

Indeed, some behave as if what’s truly important is that they be recognized as staking out the “perfect” the most uncompromising position, regardless of how impractical that stance might be or what harmful side effects it might have.

This vanity of perfectionism sometimes takes precedence even if it may help empower an unstable or incompetent U.S. leader who would implement horribly destructive policies that could kill millions.

What some on the Left fail to grasp is that who is elected President of the United States even with the deep gradations of gray among the major-party choices can mean life or death to people around the planet, even life or death for the planet itself.

So, this choice over how to vote should not be a decision based upon personal feelings or one’s flattering desire for a perfect self-image. The American people are hiring the person who will be entrusted with the nuclear codes, who will have the power to start wars, who will decide whether to take action on global warming.

Real people in other countries live or die by such U.S. decisions. Even if some Americans feel that voting for some imperfect candidate is too degrading, too compromising, the decision can have devastating consequences for others.

Yes, there is an element of triage here, since neither Obama nor Romney would be a pacifist. Some people will die regardless of who’s elected, but there can be an order of magnitude difference. There is a distinction between targeted killings of al-Qaeda operatives (even with “collateral” deaths of people in the vicinity) and the mass slaughter inflicted by fullscale war.

At minimum, it would seem to be the duty of American voters to minimize the damage that their country might inflict on people in faraway lands. Even if perfection is not an option, one of the choices is likely to cause fewer deaths and wreak less havoc than the other. It may be impossible to know the future but history can be some guide.

While this responsibility to mitigate harm to the world may seem unsatisfying to Americans who yearn for something much closer to moral purity and who don’t want to sully their consciences with such moral relativism this lesser-evilism does have a profoundly moral basis.

Just stop and ask: as imperfect as Humphrey, Carter and Gore were, would the world be in a better place if they had been elected in 1968, 1980 and 2000, respectively.

Would there likely be fewer people living in poverty in the United States or dying without health care? Would American politics be more democratic and less corrupt than it is today? Would the environment be less endangered? Would science and reason be disparaged the way they are today?

Would a lot of innocent Vietnamese, Cambodians, Salvadorans, Guatemalans, Nicaraguans, Afghans, Iraqis and people from many other countries be alive today? Might they have escaped horrible deaths, rapes and maiming? While no one can say for sure, you can make a reasonable guess.

So, in the end, what’s more important? What’s more moral? The vanity of perfectionism when perfection is not an option or doing the imperfect thing to save some innocent lives and maybe save the planet?

To read more of Robert Parry’s writings, you can now order his last two books, Secrecy & Privilege and Neck Deep, at the discount price of only $16 for both. For details on the special offer, click here.]  

Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories in the 1980s for the Associated Press and Newsweek. His latest book, Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush, was written with two of his sons, Sam and Nat, and can be ordered at His two previous books, Secrecy & Privilege: The Rise of the Bush Dynasty from Watergate to Iraq and Lost History: Contras, Cocaine, the Press & ‘Project Truth’ are also available there.

71 comments for “The Vanity of Perfectionism

  1. Marcus Green
    July 31, 2012 at 14:13

    As a member of the Green Party of Washington State, although I do vote for democrats and admittingly have the luxury of voting for a Green for President as I live in a definitively “blue” state, I find Mr. Parry’s categorization of events, along with the Green party, disingenuous and extremely insulting. For an organization that purports to offer an “alternative” to the mainstream and corporate news I find it a bit ironic that they are parroting old talking points from the democratic establishment. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Parry rather conveniently left out the over 243,000 registered democrats who voted for Bush, not Nader, over Gore. It is also rather convenient that Mr. Parry left out the over 94,000 people who were purged from the voter rolls in Florida, prior to the election. It’s rather funny as well that no one ever mentions, including Mr. Parry, never bring up the fact that libertarian votes costs Republicans including Mr. Bush in 2000, votes, I guess the disdain for third parties is only reserved for those on the left. The biggest thing of course that Mr. Parry doesn’t bring up is that Gore actually did win Florida, as the New York Times found when they went back and did a recount of every county. What actually kept Gore from winning was five unelected Supreme Court Justices, led by Sandra Day O’Connor, when they without precedent and an egregious interpretation of the law, to the point that they attached a statement to their ruling in effect saying that future cases should not look to their particular judgment as an example should similar disputes arise in the future. There is a great article dispelling the arguments Mr. Parry laid out here… I am proud to say that as a progressive I contribute regularly to independent media sources including Truthout, Truthdig, Democracy Now and Common Dreams. I am said to say that Consortium News will no longer be amongst them, and I’ll certainly be sharing this article with my fellow Greens in Washington, as well as nationally and allow them to make up their own mind about their contribution habits.

    • August 1, 2012 at 00:27

      Well said, sir. Thank you.

  2. July 31, 2012 at 01:08

    This is a very depressing thread beneath a very depressing essay. This nation is stumbling toward self-destruction, and those who refuse to enthusiastically embrace the suicidal trajectory are being castigated as fools and moral degenerates. Clearly, regardless of which corporate imperialist’s dupes come out in greater force in November, this nation will have the president it deserves come January. May God have mercy on you all, because you’ll get none from me.

  3. Mary Bell Lockhart
    July 30, 2012 at 21:56

    Thank-you, excellent article. To those who call President Obama the “lesser of two evils” I say that he is clearly the “best of the always imperfect.” We never get perfect in our leaders because they are human beings who have to work with the tools and in the situations they find themselves. To insist on purity is childish and foolish. Politics never has, never will worked that way. There is a world of difference between Democrats and Republicans. You can be sure that the tea bags aren’t telling their troops to sit out the election because their candidates have not been perfect. Are we not at least as smart politically as they are?

  4. Terry Washington
    July 30, 2012 at 14:04

    The trouble with this “purist” argument to my mind is that it ignores the fact that it ultimately favours the Republican right rather than the Democratic left/liberal, the Richard Nixons, Ronald Reagans and George W.Bushes as opposed to Hubert Humphrey, Jimmy Carter and Al Gore. Although I have my criticisms of Obama, I for one recognize the difference between imperfect allies on the one hand and avowed enemies-just as Churchill and Roosevelt allied themselves with Stalin’s Soviet Union to fight the Third Reich! SO WHY THE HELL CAN@T THE LEFT????????????????????

    • July 30, 2012 at 22:07

      >just as Churchill and Roosevelt allied themselves with Stalin’s Soviet Union to fight the Third Reich

      Stalin “outdid” Hitler in evil in part because he was in power longer.

      Also see: “Why I’m a Pacifist: The dangerous myth of the Good War”

      By Nicholson Baker

  5. eesabi
    July 29, 2012 at 23:47

    That’s fine that the author will be voting for Obama. From inside his worldview, it makes perfect sense. I can see that he’s concerned about the direction of the US. He cares.

    I prefer to vote third party, and from within my worldview, it also makes sense. I care, too. In my experience, I find that a good number of third party voters happen to be creative, independent people who are willing to work hard against tough odds on a shoestring budget, and with little initial support.. But that is the role of pioneers – to envision something new, and to work for it, despite the uphill nature of it all.

    And anyway, no one has the complete solution (voting strategy or otherwise) for a country of 300+ million. I think we can all agree that many of us (both D and Independent voters) are committed and working towards a positive future, and there are many ways to do that.

  6. July 29, 2012 at 21:43

    Maybe BHO is indicative of what would have happened were HHH elected or Carter to a second term, etc.

    Bush the Second carried out the Carter Doctrine.

    “Under the pressure of bureaucratic-statified capitalism, liberalism and
    conservatism converge. That does not mean they are identical, or are
    becoming identical. They merely increasingly tend to act in the same way
    in essential respects, where fundamental needs of the system are
    concerned. And just as the conservatives are forced to conserve and
    expand the statified elements of the system, so the liberals are forced
    to make use of the repressive measures which the conservatives advocate:
    because the maintenance of the system demands it.”

    In other words, preservation of the status quo.

    “Democrats and Republicans are two factions of the Business Party.”

    –Noam Chomsky

    “The US is governed by the Property Party and its two right wings.”

    –Gore Vidal

    “Clinton was the best Republican president we ever had.”

    –Michael Moore


  7. July 29, 2012 at 21:32

    Very good and cogent arguments in the comments section on why the Toxic Twins should not be allowed to continue to game the system and make cowards of us all.

    One other point that needs be made is that of the Supreme Court. The Republicans insist on ideological purity in their nominees, but they do not reciprocate. And why should they? As Russ Feingold put it in announcing his intention to vote for Bush’s corrupt and fascistic choice for AG, the president has a right to his choices. (Never mind “advise and consent.”)

    Hence, Antonin Scalia, the most vicious, reactionary, fascistic and authoritarian justice in modern history, got *unanimous* support in Congress for his appointment. Not one single Democratic Senator would vote against him. Kennedy got one dissenting vote. And so forth.

    Meanwhile, rather than insisting on nominating a left, progressive or even centrist to replace the liberal giants such as Brennan, Clinton vetted his Supreme choices with Sen. Orrin Hatch, one of the most reactionary Republicans in the Senate, and put forward a former Kennedy aide who had masterminded Carter’s initial deregulatory steps for the truckers and airline industry (Steven Breyer) and a right-centrist justice who enjoys the company of Scalia and used to have weekly lunches with her ‘mentor’ Robert Bork. And Obama puts forward two women, one of whom is Catholic and refuses to say whether she might overturn Roe v. Wade, and the other of which believes in the expansive doctrine of the president’s plenary powers.

    So we end up with seven reactionaries and two liberals (both appointed by Republicans, by the way), and then the two liberals being replaced by statist centrists. All this with the fulsome and enthusiastic cooperation of the Democratic Party, desperate to maintain its status as the lesser lapdog of the corporate-fascist elite.

    The problem with the two-party system is that it is fundamentally a tool, and a very effective one, for keeping the rabble down and divided. And so it was designed to function; and it is inherent in the machinery.

    As long as we are given only the choice of sociopathic monsters as the parties’ standard bearers, we will be ruled by sociopathic monsters. The fact that some have a friendlier mask does not change this in the least. As Harry Truman is alleged to have said, “If you give the people a choice between a Republican and a Republican,they’ll support the Republican every time.”

  8. J
    July 29, 2012 at 19:02

    Ok, my big, overriding, ultimate drop-dead question for Parry and those who support his analysis:
    *Why* would any candidates in any elections listen to any constituency that says, “You may do anything whatsoever as long as it is the slimmest sliver better than your competitor, and we will still vote for you–there is practically no sin you can commit that would convince us not to vote for you”? It seems to me that *THE* primary way to influence a candidate is to give him/her the STRONG IMPRESSION that THEY WILL NOT GET ELECTED UNLESS THEY “MEET YOUR DEMANDS.” This seems to me to be, in large part, why the Republican party endlessly requires conformity on certain issues, such as abortions and now, tax cuts. They aren’t just better at “staying on message”; they have found that they MUST stay on message, because they know they will NOT win if too many of their religious right voters stay home as disaffecteds; the anti-taxers will refuse to vote for them if they support any increases, and the more “reasonable” Republicans can be relied upon to go along with the anti-tax rhetoric as a partial victory. Norquist’s horrific “pledges” on taxes have worked in part because they have been part of an implicit and sometimes explicit threat to not vote for a candidate who breaks the pledge.

    Republicans *know that they cannot win without checking some boxes* — anti-abortion/reproductive rights, anti-gay-marriage, pro-Christianity as the superior religion, anti-taxes. Christian Conservatives have repeatedly stayed home when they’ve too disliked a candidate, and *thus are a bloc whose agenda MUST be addressed by the Republicans.*

    This is the hard reality of politics, it seems to me: playing hardball when immense interests are at stake. And being able to exercise power and influence, if you are not a Corporation or a Corporate Oligarch, is about the *plausible threat of losing the election.* It is ONLY if progressives offer a viable, unambiguous, and BRAZEN threat to NOT vote for Obama that will FORCE him (or any politician) to move. This is politics, not [my horrible stereotyping of the] Cub Scouts–the point is not hold hands and sing fricking Kumbayaya to resolve our differences. You have to be willing to take a hit to win the long game, and showing pols that you will vote for them as long as they do not transgress PAST their opponent party means that they will transgress ALL THE WAY they can, up to the opposing party. The likelihood that they will EVER enact your agenda, or significant parts of it, seems practically nil.

    I would be THRILLED to receive cogent rebuttals of these premises.

    • F. G. Sanford
      July 29, 2012 at 21:06

      There is no sane argument to rebut your position. That’s not to say there won’t be rebuttals. Our problem, in my opinion, gets a little “edgy” to define. It stems from the failure to ridicule and belittle willful ignorance and bronze-age mythology as the infantile psychosis it represents. This is true whether we discuss health care, abortion rights, gay rights, free speech or foreign policy. In a rational world, abortion for a pregnant twelve year old would not be a moral decision to be made based on the lunatic ravings of our “witch doctors”. The question would not be whether it is legal. For the good of society and the child, it would be mandatory. But until people start openly bashing medieval thinking and reminding these ignorant bastards that they are, in fact, ignorant bastards, nothing will change. If they could get away with it, the “Christian” right would still be burning people at the stake. Their motivation is power, not piety. They are succeeding because it is “politically incorrect” to offend them. Why should medieval lunacy deserve anyone’s respect? Answer that, and no rebuttal can stand against you.

  9. Raj
    July 29, 2012 at 12:53

    I will be irritated if the gop nutters celebrate in victory.. Claiming their hateful views are consistent with mainstream america when it was all because the liberals and progressives are nothing but a bunch of pussies who cant come together and fight for their policies. But they choose to whine and sit out and hope someday by chance, they get change. But they do no fighting for it.. Rmbr, it will be easier to fight for liberal policies with a blue government… Think obama isnt blue enough? Well good luck fighting for your climate change policies to ppl who deny climate change is even occuring

    • bluepilgrim
      July 29, 2012 at 13:58

      Quite a growing list of insults and smears:
      fu**ing retards

      and now


      And now complaining that liberals and progressives can’t come together (at least with the admission that the Democrats are not liberals or progressives, it seems..).

      And yet people are supposed to vote for Democrats after they have trashed everyone who doesn’t fall into lockstep with them, in their pursuit of wars and murder, ignoring the environment, making the rich richer and protect the banksters, corporate crooks and fascists (including war criminals of past and present US regimes), destroying social programs, and dismantling the constitution, rule of law, and human rights — and blatantly lie about it. On top of that, when there is some fight back, as with the occupation movement, the Democrats as much as the Republicans send in cops to pepper spray, break heads, tase, arrest, confine people to “free speech zones”, and try to co-opt and buy off the movement.

      On top of that, amazingly, the Democrats and Obama supporters accuse the left of being out of touch with reality!

  10. Darkwing Duck
    July 29, 2012 at 09:04

    What evidence does Mr. Parry have that hard-left liberals sitting it out is why Carter, Humphrey, etc. lost their elections?

    I will not vote for someone who orders the assassination of innocent American kids (Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki), full stop.

  11. Ken Weeks
    July 29, 2012 at 05:32

    Ah, yes, the 4th Temptation in Eliot’s “Murder in the Cathedral”

    “This last temptation is the greatest treason,
    to do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

    Aren’t you just being vain, Sir? Aren’t you just aspiring to martyrdom? Less offensive than “f**king retarded,” but probably still unwise if your goal is to win reluctant votes for Obama. The “least harm” argument is powerfully made but the “vanity” insult is counter-productive. It didn’t work in the play, either.

  12. July 28, 2012 at 21:19

    >Yes, I know Nader and the Green Party deny all responsibility for this catastrophe…

    Can we also blame Nader for taking impeachment off the table?

  13. JonnyJames
    July 28, 2012 at 13:59

    The apologists for the status-quo needn’t worry: Obama will “win” a second term. The BigMoney will ensure that.

    We ought to have political seats auctioned off to the highest bidder on live TV: that would be more transparent and “democratic” than what we have now.

    The Banksters may be criminals, but they are not stupid; either way they win. They have the politcal markets hedged as well.

  14. JonnyJames
    July 28, 2012 at 13:50

    Mr. Parry can “vote” for whomever he wishes, but to apologize for war crimes, bankster fraud, authoritarianism, treason (Al Awlaki murders; NDAA etc.) He pronounced Bradley Maning guilty before due process.

    Obama is a corrupt, right-wing, neoliberal, authoritarian, pathological liar and all around PR man for what I call the 5 families of the ruling Oligarchy. And Parry wants us to “vote” for him?

    That is an insult to anyone informed of the issues. I would rather vote for Ronald Reagan – he makes Bush Jr./Obama/Romney look like a saint in comparison.

    The late Howard Zinn’s main thesis: all social/economic change comes from organized civil disobedience from below – not from politicians. History is clear on this, Has Mr. Parry not read People’s History?

    Why does he disagree with other public intellectuals like: Chris Hedges; Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, Glenn Greenwald, Glen Ford, Jarrod Ball and so many others?

    I would love to see Mr. Parry debate the likes of these folks on the issue.

    The WinnerTakesAll; BigMoney; Bankster-rolled; BigMediaCartel orchestrated PR spectacle that we call “elections” has become nothing short of a laughingstock. I guess my defininition of “democracy” (see Robert Dahl) is quite different than that of Mr. Parry.

  15. hogorina
    July 28, 2012 at 13:40


    This late President was a willing tool, of an establishment, ( party ), dedicated to internationalism. This master of political prostitution was the superb individual, as being wire-pulled by well-known fellow beings, of whom controlled all branches of federal government. Yes, entering public office in more adventure and promised wealth. This man’s greatest achievement was to totally destroy our national educational system. This act was in line with Marx’s coworker Fredrick Engels. In 1848 at the First Communist International gathering, this destruction of the family via control of educations, was Johnson’s commemorated act, via the Communist Manifesto. In one act, this doubled-jointed fence jumper, from one party to the opposite, through Gerrymandering pertinent legislation, directly into the furthering of internationalism’s incipient encroachment, into the hands of universal socialism. True to life, LBJ all the way, as a pseudo Democrat embroiled
    with pseudo republicanism, in absolutely committing a two party treason against an unsuspicious nation being kept in darkness by a renegrade of pro-socialist ganders via the mass news industry. Johnson’s dealing with the Korean ( Police Action ), once called, is well known, as a double indemnity
    political risk, in tangling with the banking and internationalists; our military suffered tremendous loses. And the ideal in searching for responsible leadership and under the dome, is the battle cry momentarily.

  16. Robert1014
    July 28, 2012 at 11:01

    Obama has already demonstrated that he is easily as bad as Bush was, and arguably worse, in his continuation of America’s War of Terror against the world, with its ongoing destabilization, destruction and mass murder, (and in claiming–and acting on–his right as Commander in chief to unilaterally execute anyone in the world, including American citizens); in expanding the diligence and breadth of the security state here at home and increasing punitive repression of whistle-blowers; in increasing government opacity rather than the transparency he promised; in co-opting the hopes of those who agitated for reform of our health care system by cobbling together an industry-friendly “solution” that solves little and will likely preempt any real chance for substantive change for many years to come, if ever; in facilitating the theft by the banks of taxpayer money in the bailout that attached no conditions or requirements on the banks to forgive the debts and renegotiate the mortgages of their customers, (whose money the bailout fund was drawn from); in refusing to launch investigations of the financial industry for massive fraud or against members of the previous administration for war crimes, (which he has continued); and so on.

    By contrast, we don’t actually know what Romney would attempt to do or what he would succeed in doing.

    I’m voting (again) for a third party candidate, not because I require perfection, but because I cannot vote for a person who is, in his actual actions in office, a murderer and war criminal, a factotum for the ruling class, and a facilitator of the expansion of tyranny in America. Obama is not just “a disappointment,” or “not perfect,” he is a catastrophe.

    We are living in a fascist state already. That it may not yet appear to be so to many Americans reflects poorly on our own obliviousness to what is happening around us, and demonstrates the insidious step-by-step progress by which tyranny can come to pass, a result of the “it can’t get any worse” complacency of human beings generally.

  17. July 28, 2012 at 10:33

    The following about the CIA’s analysis from a colleague cuts against Mr. Parry’s forceful writing campaign these last few months to re-elect Obama based on “lesser evilism”. Everyone’s entitled to his or her own opinion, of course, as election politics heat up and predominate, driving out most other issues. I certainly hope that based on his years of covering US federal government workings, that Parry understands Washington DC better than others and therefore IS correct, that if Obama is re-elected, he will prove to be the “lesser evil”. But my opinion, for what it’s worth and I don’t think it’s based on perfectionism, is he won’t.

    Ala JFK, it’s not what Obama can do for us but we, civil society, can do for the President (and the country) or any elected official. In my opinion, putting as much effort (as Parry and many others are doing) into electoral politics based on what any politician is promising to do for the country (and us), instead of the impact we the people can have on the politician(s) is premised on the exact opposite of what our focus should be. Any real hope for change lies in the power of civil society, not any given politician(s). If the effect of Obama’s election was and is to further gut and effectively manipulate our civil society, than it’s the worst of the evils.

    “Exactly the same argument was made by the CIA in a largely overlooked, secret memo prepared by the agency in 2010 and published by WikiLeaks. In it, the CIA worried that Western European populations were rapidly turning against the war in Afghanistan and would force their governments to abandon it. But the agency concluded that their biggest asset in preventing this was having Obama use his popularity with Western Europeans to persuade them of the war’s merit. In other words, replacing the swaggering, smirking, cowboy imagery of the despised George Bush with the prettier, kinder, gentler, and more intellectually elevated Obama as the face of American militarism would make the war appear more justified and noble, and thus more popular.”

    Obama seems to be the gift that keeps on giving – to our rulers. Evil, yes; lesser, no.

    • F. G. Sanford
      July 28, 2012 at 12:25

      Thank you. Mr. Parry’s position represents loyalty to the label rather than loyalty to the contents. In this case, the label says “Cheerios”, but the contents are “Grape Nuts”. At least with Romney, you buy “Fruit Loops” and you get “Fruit Loops”. I agree with one of the other responders who essentially said, “we need to hit a brick wall before the American awareness level improves.” I don’t believe for a moment that one is less evil than the other. They’re both puppets, but with Romney, it’s easier to see the strings. We live in an era of crimes on a massive scale, but they are subtle. The perpetrators wear suits and white shoes instead of choker collars and jack-boots. All of our “defensive strategies” of recent design defend against threats that don’t exist. To the student of military history, this implies preparation for attack. These are not defensive strategies. They are strategies to obtund retaliation. This is true on both the domestic and international fronts. Romney’s transparency stems from his complete disdain for the insights of the populace. He is aloof, and as a consequence, he often says what he really thinks. With Obama, it’s anyone’s guess. There is certainly no track record to indicate the “heart of gold” so many progressives are patiently waiting for him to reveal. Can anyone claim that Bush’s “White Shoe Boys” were any different than the current clique? Or that Romney will usher in a crew that is different from what we have now? We worry about the Right Wing Armageddon Death Pact promulgated by the likes of Reverend Hagee. Do any of you really think that these ideologies are any less inchoate among our current foreign policy wonks? Recent foreign policy statements sound like the Cliff’s Notes versions of The Brookings Institute, Rand Corporation, CFR and the Project for a New American Century. At home, we are subjected to tactics Hermann Goering never imagined. There’s an old political slogan: “Fascism means war!” When will we realize that the inverse is also true?

    • Robert Schwartz
      July 30, 2012 at 11:01

      I, too, wish to offer my thanks to you for weighing in in this discussion. I had commented after Mr. Parry’s column in which he discussed the regret of an activist who opposed Humphrey in ’68, that I wished Ray McGovern, another frequent columnist here, would weigh in on this subject. So far he hasn’t, but your comment is just as welcome. Perhaps you’ll write a full length column about the election?

  18. Wallace McMillan
    July 27, 2012 at 23:46

    Interesting opinion piece and I’ve enjoyed the comments from all. Perhaps we are at the point where the USA has to “crash and burn” before we get back to some sense of what our Constitution is all about. I am deeply troubled that our President Obama’s 1st term feels like Bush’s 3rd. The additional incursions on our freedoms by the President is something I would expect from the neocons!
    Maybe we need to finally hit the wall and the American people will say “Enough!” and take our country back.

  19. abi
    July 27, 2012 at 23:01

    Very disappointing post from a writer I have nothing but respect for. ‘Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good,’ and its offshoot, ‘the vanity of perfectionism,’ are facile slogans that are designed to intimidate people from voting their conscience. Ultimately, they serve to make change impossible.

    If you can convince enough people that only two candidates have any chance of winning, then of course it becomes true. But if enough people believed that voting for the candidate who most reflects their views is the only rational way to cast a vote, America would be a much different country. A much better country.

    But instead, we march to a drumbeat pounded out by editorial writers, op-ed columnists, bloggers, radio bloviators, TV pundits, and others who all claim to know what’s good for the rest of us. As a result, like the good soldiers that we are, we vote within the box labeled D or the box labeled R. Always.

    And look where it’s gotten us.

    It’s time to try something new, like thinking for ourselves.

  20. L.karamazov
    July 27, 2012 at 22:43

    The writer of this article is insane.

  21. bluepilgrim
    July 27, 2012 at 21:44

    Actually, there is quite a bit of political space not controlled by the “1%”, and the occupy movement was just the beginning of it’s resurgence. Unlike some alternative parties, the Socialist Equity Party and has been working at politics, in the US and all over the world, full time, all the time, for years. There is quite a bit more to it than just winning elections — there is working to organize and build a base, and much of that is outside the dominant political machine. You won’t hear about that from the corporate press, however — you have to listen to people like Chris Hedges and Howard Zinn.

  22. fusion
    July 27, 2012 at 20:45

    Obama’s record, as two of our list members have summed it up:

    “{His] conduct in office with respect to: torture, rendition, drone warfare, the surge in Afghanistan, touting himself as a more insightful peace warrior than Gandhi or King, silencer by prosecution and financial bankruptcy of whistleblowers, constitutional law professor become judge, jury and executioner of Bradley Manning, signer of the recent DOD statute authorizing/demanding arrest of citizen suspects, – and that’s merely a start of the list of opprobrious actions taken.”
    george collins on July 27, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    […] “indefinite detention without trial, asserting the right to assassinate anyone without due process, bailouts for predatory banks, prosecuting more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, making war against how many countries? [more than his predecessor], support for increasing the surveillance state…
    whowouldjesusbomb on July 27, 2012 at 5:34 pm

    In short Obama has broken his oath of office; he has shown himself to be a man without honor. He exemplifies King George, as summed up in the Declaration of Independence…“A Prince whose character is thus marked by every act which may define a Tyrant, is unfit to be the ruler of a free people.”

    Let’s consider things from a fundamentally different point of view; one which has nothing to do with vanity, or hurt feelings but rage.

    Bringing Romney and the Rs into power, with the likely evil consequences, might lead to enough public outrage to begin the major shift we need …

    MLK’s “…radical revolution of values. When machines and computers, profit and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values.”

    Grace Lee Boggs on the ““Next American Revolution” [and the revival of Detroit]; or Gar Alperovitz on the “New Economy Movement [and transformation in Cleveland]

    It is likely that a full-fledged public uprising, and the massive repression that would ensue, would be destructive on an unprecedented scale. But the structure and implements of oppression grow day by day.

    Better to have the uprising now than to wait while it gets more and more dangerous and painful?

    “Fusion’s” viewpoint is radical, not ‘progressive.’ Liberals share responsibility for the present disastrous situation; if in doubt, read Chris Hedges.

    Fusion: Major USAF, Ret’d : WWII – Fifth Air Force, Southwest Pacific – Hollandia, Morotai, Leyte, Luzon, Okinawa, Tokyo; Korean War – RADC, ARDC; 20 years an active reservist…sworn to “defend the Constitution against all enemies foreign And domestic..”–- my father served with the Engineers in France in WWI and came from retirement to serve in the US and Europe in WWII; and my wife worked her way through Barnard and Rutgers Law School to take the oath in the presence of the Supreme Court.

    You want us to vote for Obama?


    It’s time to stand against tyranny, stand for freedom.

    • bluepilgrim
      July 27, 2012 at 21:53

      It may well be easier to organize against Romney the Clown than against Obama, the “more effective evil” ( ), but in the end the task is about the same: waking people up, organizing, building, and establishing an truly democratic alternative government of, by, and for the people. It isn’t really about the puppets, but about the puppet masters, and even more so the system and structures themselves, in which everyone is trapped.

  23. July 27, 2012 at 18:24

    Your cheap shot is claiming that I am being “prissy” because I refuse to vote for an assassin, a murderer.

    Coming right back at you … what kind of scum are you who WILL vote for a murderer for cheap partisan advantage?

    Let’s be clear about who are the low-life here.

    • photon's feather
      July 27, 2012 at 21:50

      Yes, let’s be clear. What kind of scum would work to ensure that the worse candiddate will win? What kind of scum would help to ensure that the country – and the world – move even faster toward destruction?

      Did you come here to debate or to get personal and call names? If the latter, rest assured that not all commenters here will hesitate to respond in kind. But if that’s all you have to offer, perhaps you should find another forum – one that is tailored to angry, empty rhetoric?

      • bluepilgrim
        July 27, 2012 at 23:30

        To me, you seem a bit touchy about name-calling for someone who just flung some feces in the form of ‘idiot’ and ‘dupe’ at those who do not vote for Obama as you want them to.

        You also repeat the canard that voting for an alternative party is the same as voting for Romney. One might as easily, from the conservative position, argue that voting libertarian or other alternative is the same as voting for Obama. That’s not true either (talk about empty rhetoric…).

        People do need to get beyond the partisan, and electorial, nonsense. Viewing , Michael Parenti on Deep Politics, and Christ Hedges at
        would be a decent start. So would absorbing material at and his discussion about the systemic problems of capitalism (which are world-wide). This fascism were suffer under is from global corporations and international fascists who work to colonize every country, including the US — and both major US presidential candidates and parties work for them. Continuing to ignore this will likely be fatal for the human species.

  24. whowouldjesusbomb
    July 27, 2012 at 17:34

    Bradley Manning, illegal drone attacks, attacking medical marijuana, signing into [so-called] law indefinite detention without trial, asserting the right to assassinate anyone without due process, bailouts for predatory banks, prosecuting more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, making war against how many countries? [more than his predecessor], support for increasing the surveillance state… how bad does a Democrat have to be before I stop voting for them? The duopoly must die. Withdrawal of cooperation with BOTH parties is necessary for real change.

    Al Gore lost? LIE. Start talking about the fact that our elections are not legitimate before you ask me to take this drivel seriously. That needs to happen NOW if you want to have a real election ever again.

    I appreciate Robert Parry’s journalism. Thank you very much for that. But your opinionating leaves a lot to be desired.

    • photon's feather
      July 27, 2012 at 21:43

      The duopoly isn’t going to die, if all most progressives do is kvetxh and moan. And it certainly isn’t going to die with just one presidential election, which is all we’re facing right now.

      Sorry, but Mr. Parry said very clearly that Bush got close enough to Gore to allow him to steal the election: “While many institutions and individuals share the blame for installing Bush in the White House, part of the responsibility must fall on the Green Party and Ralph Nader, who helped Bush get close enough to steal Florida’s electoral votes and thus the presidency.”

      So just who are you calling out for lying?

      IF you want to act as critic, first try figuring out what was said.

      Your reading leaves a lot to be desired.

      • neo-realist
        July 27, 2012 at 23:53

        “part of the responsibility must fall on the Green Party and Ralph Nader, who helped Bush get close enough to steal Florida’s electoral votes and thus the presidency”

        The larger blame goes to Al Gore for being a p**s poor campaigner. Hell, he even lost his home state! If Nader had not run, Jeb and Katherine simply would have disenfranchised more black people and ensured that more votes were flipped by Diebold machines.

  25. F. G. Sanford
    July 27, 2012 at 16:41

    We’ve gotten ourselves into this mess by failing to develop alternative energy and maintaining a foreign policy which inflames two thirds of the rest of the world. The current administration didn’t start us down this road, but neither has it applied the brakes, let alone turned us around. In some respects, it has tromped on the gas. Quietly, privately, some thinkers confess that we will have to go to war in order to preserve the dollar as the world reserve currency. Our failure to develop alternatives, crushing debt and the velocity of our current decline makes it almost impossible to change course. Our lost manufacturing base means we can’t sustain a protracted conventional war. We have to maintain hegemony over the Middle East’s mineral resources, or abandon the hog-trough we’ve been slopping at for the last sixty seven years. So, regardless of who wins, the story will be the same. Piers Morgan or Larry King, it’s the same tripe regardless of the host. Our two-party system, in the words of comedian Lewis Black, has become a “Bowl if shit looking at itself in the mirror”. Today, with eloquent sincerity and a tone of gravest concern, President Obama signed a bill which funds “…a program that has been critical in terms of providing security and safety for Israeli families,” and it pledges a U.S. veto of “any one-sided anti-Israel resolutions at the United Nations Security Council”. In other words, Israeli families are a bigger issue in this election than American families. And, regardless of which human rights or international legal standards Israel continues to violate, we’re going to vote to support those travesties. This is what the American public appears to want, and both candidates are groveling to comply. If American voters are so dumb as to support initiatives inimical to their own interests, fine. It’s their bowl, and they can eat whatever they want from it. I understand the constraints, but for God’s sake, throw me one liberal “bone”. Give me a sign. Drop the charges against Bradley Manning, or stop the drone attacks or close Gitmo, or something that looks progressive. Otherwise, it’s just more of the same. I’m not a perfectionist. I’m just tired of eating shit.

  26. Jacob Shepherd, Jr.
    July 27, 2012 at 16:34

    I am just a good old middle-class fellow who flew B-17’s over Germany in WWII, and who never misses a chance to vote for good democrats. I have watched the Republicans over the years get worse and worse in their efforts to pack the Supreme Court with Republican leaning jurists who continue to be very kind with the folks who have the money. Apparently some people believe that if you have money, you somehow must be smart. Well, I will point to people like Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and there are many others, who show that Democrats can be smart too, and wealthy! Republicans throw around the big words which includes the big lies and trash talking coming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. In my opinion, and it is my prerogative to have one since everybody else does, that Mitt Romney is the weakest candidate the Republicans have put on the ticket in many years and that may be ever. I fear for the United States in many respects if he should be elected as President. Barack Obama was placed in a terrible situation when first elected and had to take over and clean up the mess left by another wealthy … …., and I won’t say those words in public. We were close to another depression when Obama took office and he saved our bacon in many ways. The Republicans ganged up on him the very night he was inaugurated and put the plan into effect to disrupt, disobey, vote against any and everything that the President and the Democrats tried to do. It is unfortunate that the Democratic Party is made up of the middle class and those on further down the line of have nots, who are dependent on a job, a chance at a health care system that is not rigged against them and to have people like Grover Norquist in congress who holds all congressmen hostage if they try to make it possible to pay off some of the Government debt by being sure that those with their millions and billions should pay their fair share in taxes. Mitt Romney is not a descent, tax paying citizen of the United States….he is a four flusher who has used every device he could find and then some to hide his assets in some tax haven off-shore, and a gaggle of lawyers figuring out new loopholes to avoid any tax at all. Our tax system is a travesty, our Republican leaning Congress and Supreme Court are enemies of the majority of the people in the United States and if they can manage to keep enough of the democrats (their idea of “lower class”) from voting by suppression of various kinds, then we may very well wind up once more in a terrible depression. Let’s all band together and let Barack Obama do his job and that means voting for him for a second term….he deserves it!

    • Barbara D. Rosenberg
      July 28, 2012 at 17:53

      Thank you, Mr. Jacob Shepherd, Jr. At last, after reading all of these posts, someone who is making sense and who I can agree with, understand, and have respect for! Good job. Please, G-d, let Obama win this election!

  27. rlaing
    July 27, 2012 at 16:29

    Jeffery Goldberg claims to support Barack Obama because he thinks there is a much higher probability of Obama attacking Iran than Romney. Nixon goes to China kind of thing: he can get away with being further to the right than Romney because of the way he presents himself.

    Right-wing intellectuals also prefer Obama for his stance on civil liberties. From Cheney to Ashcroft to Jack Goldsmith, they are united in praise, and understandably so. I am sure that if Bush had claimed the right not merely to spy on Americans without warrants, but to assassinate them without trial, there would have been some real opposition from Democratic partisans, however hypocritical.

    I have no idea what, if anything, is in Barack Obama’s soul or the soul of Mitt Romney, nor do I care to speculate. Even supposing that Obama is some kind of closet liberal (I doubt this personally, but whatever), the fact of the matter is that legislatively, he is far to the right of Richard Nixon.

    The reason for this is not a matter of ‘souls’, but of the collapse of any structure in the US but corporations that pays steady attention to the business of setting policy rather than the superficial question of personality.

  28. george collins
    July 27, 2012 at 16:23

    Bob’s position is not stated here for the first time. It’s a probative stance to take however the conclusion drawn is not the only one with arguable merit.

    More can obviously be said but I think there are at bottom two premises that ground Bob’s argument that certain too precious progressives are contemplating sitting out or throwing their vote to an impossibly hapless third party candidate to spite Obama’s imperfections, to salve their instinct for purity and despite risk of greater evil should the Republicans “rule” unrestrained by the superior humanity of the Democrats.

    The first premise is that Obama has not been so bad, so bad that as a matter of conscience for some it is a moral dilemma to ratify Obama’s conduct in office with respect to: torture, rendition, drone warfare, the surge in Afghanistan, touting himself as a more insightful peace warrior than Gandhi or King, silencer by prosecution and financial bankruptcy of whistleblowers, constitutional law professor become judge, jury and executioner of Bradley Manning, signer of the recent DOD statute authorizing/demanding arrest of citizen suspects, and that’s merely a start of the list of opprobrious actions taken.

    From the perspective of law and progressive principles as well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Yes, Obama has been that bad. He’s even outdone Bush II’s little Oval Office dance mimicking a search for WMD, but joshing with the Jonas Bros. that he had two words for them were they to impliedly mess with his daughter fans: “Predator Drones….you’ll never see them coming!”

    The Second latent premise is that Romney, impliedly…though he may die from ineptness prior to his coronation by the GOP, would be a greater humanitarian disaster. We have to acknowledge that’s a possibility. Yet, however, bumbling and gauche Romney appears, it he is awful as a performer, and weasel-like about his positions, he has no history of flouting national and international law whereas we need know nothing more of Obama’s propensities.

    Lastly, Bob’s analysis of the tragedy following Progressives infatuation with their perfection aspirations results in a conclusion that would bar the chance of any third party making a serious claim on the Presidency and thereby cheapens the remaining myth that we have a democracy on our hands vs. an oligarchy.

    Cheers All.

  29. John Puma
    July 27, 2012 at 16:21

    Claiming the presidential right to murder US citizens, without judicial review, is quite a ways from perfect, “doncha know.”

    Mr Obama’s doing so actually got Cheney to stop growling his disapproval and wet his pants in envy.

    This country’s two-party tribal system is a one way street to ruin. Our “choice” is only the elapsed time to get there.

    • photon's feather
      July 27, 2012 at 21:20

      Ah, but everyone knows that more time is often the only thing you can hope for. How many times in your life have you wished that you had more time? How often have you been unable to get to important tasks or pursue some enjoyable activity, for lack of time? How often have you been unable to finish something or to do it as well as you would have liked, for lack of time? How often have you had to tell someone, “I’m sorry, but I just don’t have the time?” How desperate is the global warming situation, and how worried are scientists that we just don’t have enough time? How many lives have been lost because the sick or the injured could not be gotten to treatment in time?

      With time, we could work on moving the Democratic Party back to the left. With time, we could work to improve voter rights and access to voting. (We’ve got to work at the lower levels of government for that!)
      With time, we could get more progressives elected to Congress – which after all is where legislation is done. The most disastrous policies of the craziest wrong-wing president could be stopped, if a sufficiently progressive Congress were in place. (Just look at how the ‘tea party’ fanatics have stopped any/ all needed, useful legislation; how the Republicans in Senate – loyal only to their party and its policy of economic treason – filibuster anything that would help the country.)

      With time, we can make sure that the next Supreme Court openings – (at least one, perhaps several in the next presidential term) – do not go to more far-wrong-wingers. Just one new appointment of even a centrist could stop the unrestrained takeover of our nation by big corporations and big money.

      With time we could turn this country off the path to ruin.

      The crazies took over the Republican Party. Are you suggesting that, given enough time, progressives could not take back the Democratic Party?

      I’ll go with the old adage: Time is of the essence.

      • Robert Schwartz
        July 29, 2012 at 09:35

        Are you suggesting that, given enough time, progressives could not take back the Democratic Party?

        Certainly not under the current game-rules. As I noted in my comment earlier (and above) we are at a point where Richard Nixon looks like a progressive compared to Barack Obama. Also as I noted, it was the Communists, Socialists and Union Organizers who initially proposed the ideas that became the New Deal legislation under FDR.

        Now, given the media filters in place, the huge money donated which feeds directly into the corporate media coffers, and the Democratic Party structural rules enacted after the McGovern candidacy (Super-Delegates, etc.) make the notion of pushing the Democratic Party leftward a laughable proposition. To repeat what I said above, to move the GOP rightward is to move toward the money, to move the Democrats leftward is to move against the money.

  30. Antonio Cafoncelli
    July 27, 2012 at 15:27

    Good article and well put Robert. Nixon, Reagan and G W Bush have been disgraceful for America and the rest of the world. The position of this purists pseudoleftists, reminds me very much to the Trotskysts supporters in Argentina. They would rather vote with the plutocrats and the olygarcs of the Rural Argentina that own vast territories of land and are the 1% of USA, instead of voting with the progressive, national and popular model of the actual President of Argentina Christina Kirshner. They always side and vote with the right. These perfectionists from Argentina are not Marxists as they claim to be, because they do not understand basic Dialectic Materialism. Regarding our country USA, it is essential to understand this historical and present moment that our country is living. Even though there are present and structural contradictions in economic and foreign policy, they will finally resolve in a synthesis that will be positive for the country and all fellow Americans. We need to support and vote for President Obama if we want to reach THE PROMISED LAND that these purists and antihistorical voters believe the rigth pathway is to vote for third parties.

  31. July 27, 2012 at 15:25

    Thank you for your moral clarity.
    Yes I m a progressive that still — even now! hopes against hope that Obama rediscovers his soul.
    And yes the lesser of Evilism is itself evil.
    Of course.
    But purity when the planet is at stake is the opiate
    or crack
    of the progressive class.
    Romney is thoroughly predictable
    And Obama has been much a disappointment for the reasons we all see.
    But I dont think a second term is at all predictable.
    Obama did have a recognizable soul.
    No evidence that the Mitt ever did.

  32. bluepilgrim
    July 27, 2012 at 14:49

    I have long since outgrown the ‘Dr. Spock’ choices parents use to manipulate children (‘Do you want to clean your room before or after you have your snack?”) and false choices offered by those in power.

    I’m going to vote for Jerry White of the Socialist Equity Party because that’s who I want, and who I think is the best candidate (not because he is perfect). I am not a conservative nor a liberal — I’m a socialist. My voting has lettle to do with Dems or Reps beyond understanding that they are two wings of the corporate, fascist oligarchy, imperialists, war mongers, and fascists.

    Voting is not complicated, and not something which is part of a negotiation: if people simply voted for who they wanted the most, and who support the policies they want, instead of allowing themselves to be manipulated by false-choice propaganda then we would not be in this fix.

    Isn’t that what voting is supposed to be — voting for who and what you want? That doesn’t address the problem of lack of participatory democracy and the corruption and breakdown of the political system, of course, but as for voting, that’s clearly the way to go.

    “No, I want neith Coke nor Pepsi — bring me a cup of strong coffee”.

    • photon's feather
      July 27, 2012 at 20:42

      You can want – and vote for – any ‘third party’ candidate you want – but you aren’t going to get him/ her for president. If you want to move the country left, you have to work for it constantly – not just on election day. Work to expand the Socialist Party, if they are who you want. Get some candidates elected at lower levels of government, where there’s a chance to do so. But the presidency in 2012? Not gonna happen.

      The primary is where you vote your conscience. Now there are only two viable candidates. You want coffee, rather than Coke or Pepsi? (So do I, by the way.) Either work with the restaurant to get coffee on the menu or go to another restaurant.

      So, work on your third party. But don’t forget: the system is set up for two parties only, so you’ll have to work on changing the legislation, too.

      Your choices are only two: bad or worse.

      I detest Obama, always have, always will. (If I were a betting man, I’d be willing to wager that I detested him before you did.) He’s a stinking neo-liberal, a militarist, a corporatist, a right-winger. I began to suspect that the Democratic Party was considering putting him forward for the presidency long before the primaries came along. (Were you paying attention, or did you miss it?)

      All that said, when stood up against Romney, Obama looks damn good by comparison.

      A vote for your socialist is a vote for Romney. A vote for any ‘third party’ candidate is a vote for Romney. If we get a President Romney, we’ll thank ALL the idiots and dupes who voted for him.

      • bluepilgrim
        July 27, 2012 at 21:33

        I knew about Obama when he was in Illinois politics. I’ve been working for socialism and participatory government for 40 or 50 years.

        A vote for an alternative is certainly NOT a vote for Romney, any more than installing Linux is supporting Microsoft: that’s an absurd statement, not true, and repeating the mindless propaganda. In any case, I refuse to vote for a war criminal, gangster, or someone who trashes the constitution and rule of law. I will vote for who I think is best, whether I think he’ll win or not, or if anyone else agrees with me. A vote for Jerry White is a vote for Jerry White — no more and no less.

        I am NOT an idiot or dupe, and I have to wonder about those who call names and try to trash people who they don’t agree with. Did you learn how to do that from Limbaugh or O’Reilly?
        OK — you choose to vote for Obama: I understand the line of thinking behind it, but think that’s an error — but it’s your vote and I’m not going to denigrate you, call you names, or tell lies to try to bully you into voting otherwise. (I find that arrogant trait of liberals to be quite annoying.)

  33. bob fearn
    July 27, 2012 at 14:40

    Of course Mr. Perry is correct and it is tragic that America continues to reject flawed individuals and elect even more flawed individuals. This is consistent with the ignorance and arrogance that are so prevalent in America. When an experienced, honest and capable candidate with a long history of public service emerges, such as Mr. Nader he is even more soundly rejected than war mongering plutocrats.

    I just don’t get it.

  34. Robert Schwartz
    July 27, 2012 at 14:29

    Bob Parry questions whether voting for Obama for reelection becomes a moral imperative for those who revile him, because of the consequences of a Mitt Romney election, especially as relates to the victims of our foreign aggression.

    In light of that, it is important to view Obama’s record with regard to U.S. involvement in foreign military actions. To start with, Obama escalated the war in Afghanistan. He kept Robert Gates at the helm of the Pentagon. He has expanded conflict into more areas than Bush did. He did keep to the Bush withdrawal timetable in Iraq, but only because Malaki wouldn’t sign a new SOFA agreement. Meanwhile, he keeps goading Iran with more military hardware in the Gulf, and seems determined to encircle both China and Russia with U.S. bases and missile batteries. This is the “Lesser-Evil” offered by the Democrats.

    “Progressives have shown less determination to fight for control of the Democratic Party, preferring instead to vote for third-party candidates or simply express their displeasure by sitting out November elections.” – Bob Parry

    Not quite that accurate. There had been an effort to move the Democratic Party leftward. It brought the reaction of Super-Delegates and other rules changes to make that structurally more difficult. Even this past year, an effort to mount a primary challenge to Obama by the Progressive Caucus of the Democratic Party of California was greeted with the threat by the party at large to decertify that caucus should the effort continue. Also, to move the Democratic Party away from its base is to move it towards the big money donors, while on the GOPher side of things, to move farther to the right is to move closer to the money.

    On a more personal note. Obama’s hand-selected chief of staff Rahm Emanuel called us “Fuckin’ Retarded.” His Homeland Security goons in conjunction with local law enforcement beat, gassed and rubber-bulletted my friends at Occupy. He has participated in the torture of Bradley Manning.

    In short, lesser-evilism has brought us to a point where Richard Nixon looks like a progressive compared with the current Democratic office holder. The Dictatorship of the Duopoly exists only because not enough people challenge it, not because it produces progressive results. It was the Socialists, Communists and Union Organizers who first introduced the ideas behind the legislation that became under FDR the New Deal. Without significant pressure from the left, Obama will only continue to cavort with the likes of Geithner, Bernanke, Summers, Immelt, Daley, etc., etc….

    • Rosemary Molloy
      July 28, 2012 at 07:53

      Could not agree more. At 75, I’ve voted in a lot of elections, but am resolved never again to soil my soul in a national one. The “lesser evil” is still evil.

    • jo6pac
      July 29, 2012 at 11:27


      Rosemary right on

    • isdivc
      July 29, 2012 at 15:38

      I have thought about this argument for 40+ years and still have trouble with it depending on the candidates. Some conclusions I have decided though.

      The first is that voting is important, but it is not the path to real progressive change. As Mr. Schwartz points out, when you get close to actually achieving something within a major party, they will change the rules. Both parties are dominated by coporate interests and political parties that are totally vested in the current arrangement. They would destroy either party before allowing it to change to an anti-corporate institution.

      The second is that, notwithstanding the above, it does make a difference which party is in power. The power of Supreme Court appt’s is a critical difference, for example. Other examples are national health care, the current fight to at least recognize the importance of climate change and pollution, etc. along with other modest but significant changes that Mr. Parry points out. We can vote all we want and it may be helpful in some situations but working within the political parties is not the answer. It is worth the half-hour or so to vote as long as your expectations are not high.

      The conclusion is that STRATEGICALLY progressives should focus on building power among the citizenery rather than focus on narrow political party in-fighting to achieve change. Voting is simply a TACTIC that has some value but is not the ultimate vehicle to ride to a progressive society. The revolution we need won’t be and can’t be achieved by voting. Radical change requires sustained organization, resources, education, and people in the streets. Hopefully, it can remain non-violent but it may not. However, I don’t see any other option.

      • Haudenosaun
        August 2, 2012 at 02:02

        I also agree completely.

        However, revolution will not be contained in one nation or in one hemisphere. This revolution will be global. Can it remain non-violent? Ultimately, no. Measures have already been put in place to ensure that it cannot. They’re in control of banks and can lean on any government to freeze personal accounts. They control high tech weaponry some of which we are aware of, much that we are not. It’s only a matter of time before gun laws are enacted in the U.S. (effectively, under a Republican president). They have control over communications and are masters at spreading propaganda. They are going after control of the internet but already have the capability of shutting it down. Many of the above controls give them the capability of creating a false flag event on a global scale.

        This is what we’ll be up against and we need to be finding solutions now to counteract some of these measures. Whistleblowers will be invaluable. More importantly, people of the world will need to transform themselves into a truly global community of sharing and brotherhood. No longer should they be able to pit us against each other, either through ideology,religion or culture.

        Sounds like a conspiracy theory doesn’t it. I sure the hell hope it is. But it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.

    • Paul G.
      July 30, 2012 at 02:36

      Very thoughtful analysis, I agree completely.Also remember what the Daley machine did to the demonstrators-and the press, where the quip “beat the press’ originated- at the “68 convention, Humphrey’s.
      I have replied to the issues in the other two Parry articles promoting Obamascam; and don’t want to repeat myself; I’d rather address the style of his article which is condescending and insulting, very parental and inappropriate.
      Mr Parry belabors the term “perfect”. Does he not read the comments to his other Big O. articles? What fool would want “perfect”; like who out there wants “perfect”. Who are these “perfect” people? The problem is unlike the defeated Democratic Presidential candidates he likes to cite; Obamascam is a quantum leap downward and rightward. It is not a question of “perfect” or a slight disagreement or feeling ill after voting for the “lesser evil”; it is a question of whether to reinforce the behavior of a man who has shown such gross malfeasance in running the country and is the biggest Democrat con-man since LBJ won election after promising not to escalate in Vietnam. A man who has violated his oath to defend the Constitution by signing a bill denying habeas corpus at the discretion of Potus(fortunately rejected by Federal Court). There is a word for such a person, dictator; a word which also covers a man who prosecutes anyone who reveals corruption or incompetence in his administration. A word which covers someone who arbitrarily targets and murders individuals with nothing even resembling a due process. Even Hillary thinks he is over the top with the drones; a tactic which has doubled the size of Al Quaeda Arabian Pennisula thanks to blowback.
      Now in this article I have learned that the election of every Republican President after Eisenhower( a flaming liberal compared to Obomber by the way); is the fault of those who didn’t tow the line and participate in the twin party charade. Quite a mind boggling leap there;though the Bush/Gore election was close enough to qualify for that criticism; but only that one. Mr. Parry grossly overestimates the electoral power of the left if he thinks that.
      Frankly the Presidency is up for grabs to the highest bidder; money talks, the rest of us walk. So I am not sure this debate even matters. The only hope is congress and you don’t need a major party to enter that. Look at Jim Jeffords, and Bernie Sanders of VT. and (yuuuch) Lieberman all independents and all Senators. So Mr. Parry would you please talk to your readers like they are adults. Cheer up, Romney is so stupid he may not be as dangerous: and if there is a Democratic, and progressive independent majority in both houses, he might just inspire the wussie Dems to find some guts and stop him in his tracks.

  35. Jym Allyn
    July 27, 2012 at 14:20


    Thank you for articulating the real stupidity of some liberals in failing to recognize the terrible nature of conservative concepts and “values.”

    The best way to improve the US economy and safety is to have more formerly elected Republican officials.

    Those people who feel neutral about this fail to realize that NOT voting for Obama (despite his not being “perfect”) is a vote FOR certified stupidity and lies.

    • bluepilgrim
      July 27, 2012 at 20:23

      Try to get the terminology correct: people who don’t support Obama are not stupid, but ‘fu*#ing retarded’, as per Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s former Chief of Staff. It’s fairly obvious now where the Democrats are coming from, what and who they serve, what they think of ‘we the people’, and of war criminals.

      It was so much easier to resolve to never vote for Republicans or Democrats again after Obama took office and his minions began to name-call at those who did not fall into line, often sounding like the fanatical right wing which also likes to talk about ‘stupid liberals’ (when they are not also busy gutting social programs, the economy, or making wars).

      • William Carr
        July 29, 2012 at 01:38

        “It’s fairly obvious now where the Democrats are coming from, what and who they serve, what they think of ‘we the people’, and of war criminals.”

        You’re projecting. The author pinned you but good.

        You don’t get Perfection, and you’re vain enough to start name-calling and making accusations yourself.

        • bluepilgrim
          July 29, 2012 at 04:33

          You talk about name calling and then call me vain. And you say I’m projecting. In response to a major Democrat, Obama’s CoS, calling people FU**** retarded.

          In fact the title of the article is an insult.

          All personal attacks — just like the right wing does — because you are as bad as any right wing Republican, and demonstrates exactly what’s wrong with the Democrats and how they are so much like Republicans.

          Thanks for the demonstration and proof of what I said.

  36. Jerry McIntyre
    July 27, 2012 at 14:17

    Mr. Parry: One progressive’s vanity of perfectionism is another’s Hobson’s choice. I voted every time for Ralph Nader; not because I’m a harebrained perfectionist, but because he inspired me with his life’s work to redress injustice. Obama’s rhetoric is inspiring but his performance is, from the my perspective, ho hum—at best. In my opinion, the Green Party best represents progressives. My beloved United States of America will not self-destruct with the election of a clown like Mitt Romney.

    • Trish Purcell
      July 28, 2012 at 00:55

      Jerry, how foolish you are! Idealism is wonderful and the ideal something we should always strive for. But without the balance of some practical wisdom it promotes fantasy and ignores reality. Open your eyes and your mind. Your beloved United States of America is already self-destructing. Romney as president will be devastating.

    • William Carr
      July 29, 2012 at 01:33

      You voted for Nader, KNOWING that he could NEVER win ?

      KNOWING that you were throwing your vote away and empowering the Republicans ?

      • bluepilgrim
        July 29, 2012 at 08:26

        Realistically, in practice, one vote will never swing a national election. Even a few hundred votes will lead to recounts, with the attendant games and manipulation, and perhaps the selection of a president by the Supreme Court, as when Bush was appointed despite Gore having actually won, upon close examination afterwards.

        Small as it is, the value of one vote for an alternative is like dropping a grain of sand into a gaping crevice, and yet also making a statement which helps to empower the alternative — in fact counting more the fewer people vote for that candidate than a vote for a big party would.

        That a vote for an alternative has power beyond that for a major party is shown in how upset the Democrats are that anyone would dare to vote for anyone else, and the fear (and insults) it generated.

        But there is one other consideration in voting for who you want (and not voting for a fascist or war criminal or gangster): it is the moral value of doing so — of simply doing what is right. It’s hard to measure that in terms of the millions of people involved, although there is an effect, but the effect on personal integrity is immense. Choosing to vote for someone because they are good, rather than trying to follow the crowd and vote for a “winner” may go against the current bankrupt American ethos, but the spiritual value reamins as strong as ever.

  37. Frances in California
    July 27, 2012 at 14:06

    How nice for you, Marty, that you can be so haughty and purist. Fact: If Romney wins the general election – regardless of the reason – I won’t be able to afford to live in the US. Nice goin’, y’all!

  38. Marty Heyman
    July 27, 2012 at 13:45

    You have to be kidding. We have decades of solid proof that the Democrats and Republicans generally agree on foreign policy and support of the “business community.” Mr. Obama failed to address any of the over-reaching security intrusions into our most basic civil liberties and the domestic policies have been clumsy and ineffective. Sure, Romney is worse but if we ever needed a demonstration of the ultimate failure of the country’s two-party cartel and its monoculture, this Presidential Election qualifies as an excellent example.

    • July 27, 2012 at 18:17

      I agree. The Obama administration undermined climate change reform at Copenhagen and Durban. He’s as beholden to the industrial polluters, Big Oil, etc as any Republican candidate.

      Plus, in the absence of any popular opposition movement, it’s naive in the extreme to speculate that Obama would feel any pressure to do the right thing regarding the biosphere.

      Administration officials unequivocally, repeatedly have expressed their contempt for radicals, progressives, The Left. Why does Bob Parry insist on pretending that Obama is in any way substantially different from Romney?

      As Tariq Ali writes,

      “A modern American president — Republican or Democrat — operates as the messenger-servant of the country’s corporations, defending them against their critics and ensuring that no obstacles are placed in their way. Since the right to profit is considered sacrosanct, any serious alternative is automatically rejected. In order to ensure the survival of the richest, it is democracy that has to be heavily regulated instead of capitalism. This is the permanent tension that lies at the heart of a capitalist democracy and is exacerbated at times of crisis. The inhuman exigencies of the system precludes policies that would obviously benefit a majority of the population. There have been exceptional conjectures in the past, where a combination of domestic crisis and radical demands from below push an administration in a reformist direction, but their frequency is limited. The New Deal measures in the 1930s and the Civil Rights Act three decades later were the results of action from below.

      “Unable and unwilling to deliver any serious reform, Obama has become the master of the sympathetic gesture, the understanding smile, the pained but friendly expression that always appeared to say, “Really, I agree and wish we could, but we can’t. We really can’t and it’s not my fault.” The implication is always that the Washington system prevents any change that he could believe in. But the ring of truth is absent. Whether escalating an unwinnable war, bailing out Wall Street, getting the insurance company lobbyists to write the new ‘health care’ bill or suggest nominations to his cabinet or the Supreme Court, the mechanism he has deployed is always the same. A better option is put on the table for show, but not taken seriously. A worse option is rapidly binned. And a supposed compromise emerges. This creates the impression among party loyalists that the prez is doing his best, that a team of serious thinkers is hard at work considering every possibility, but the better alternative simply isn’t feasible. This is followed by the spin doctors coming down hard to defense some shoddy compromise or other….

      “Obama’s aggression is reserved for progressives on his own side, a right uppercut to be deployed against those on his left. As for the rest, it’s business as usual. Corporations of every sort and the politicians and lobbyists attached to them will never be stomped into oblivion. Instead they’re raised on stilts.”

      (from Tariq Ali’s “The Obama Syndrome”)

    • William Carr
      July 29, 2012 at 01:31

      Wow. You really didn’t get the point.

      Where’s your decades of proof showing Democratic Presidents invading countries for their resources?

      President Obama is walking a tightrope.

      The President that replaces even ONE of the Conservative Justices determines the course on the Supreme Court for decades.

      So he simply CAN’T abandon all thought of the real prize by fixing YOUR favorite issue.

      The author of the piece practically laid it out for you.

      You want our President to abandon strategy and bull straight ahead fixing everything.

      But surprise; the Republicans are too strong, too well organized, and too quick to pounce on any sign of weakness. Look at them now, making up stuff so they have something to complain about.

      A Democratic President that tried to restore civil liberties would be popular but would be accused of being soft on Terrorism.

      And please try to remember, Congress makes the laws. Obama decided not to arrest children of immigrants and they are calling for Impeachment.

      Imagine if he refused to enforce the Patriot Act !

      Repairing this kind of damage requires careful planning and patience.

      But some people get huffy and start complaining when they don’t see instant results.

      P.S. That means YOU.

      Go re-read the article.

      • J
        July 29, 2012 at 18:45

        Decades of proof showing Democratic presidents killing foreign nationals cavalierly in support of our own narrow interests? Sure:

        “the necessity of bombing Nagasaki questionable as well even accepting the necessity argument, the choice of civilian targets questionable as well” — Truman making the actually controversial, among his military leaders, decision of dropping the A-bombs and killing hundreds of thousands, including many many civilians; the only use of nuclear weapons by any country to date;

        Going from this, there’s Truman and the Korean War including the proposed use of nuclear weapons, and Truman bypassing a Declaration of War by Congress — a precedent used to poor effect by our (then-)current president, though Truman was not the first to set it;

        FDR & Carter: Carter had the “foresight” to let Iran’s Shah seek medical treatment in the US, against the advice of the staff of his own Embassy in Iran — helping to precipitate and the hostage crisis that most hurt his own career; support for the brutal dictator/crime family, the Somozas, in Nicaragua (this latter is an analysis of Carter’s true colors from one of the most prominent US academic researchers of Latin American politics, James Petras); the Somozas were almost literally the Hitlers of Nicaragua, backed by US presidents, Democratic & Republican, and rose to power with FDR’s practical blessing after assassinating his opponent Sandino; numerous Latin American interventions on this page, including also the School of the Americas, i.e. school for Latin American dictators to make friends with military strong-arm tactics backed by the US and to go back to become dictators of their countries supported by the US, founded under Truman; a number of horrible things done under Kennedy and Johnson, not just in Latin America but also in the happy funtime place known as the Vietnam War (continued by Nixon & Ford, but started by Kennedy & Johnson), also the Bay of Pigs, Papa Doc’s Haiti, and almost WWWIII under Kennedy & Johnson; El Salvadorean Death Squads forming, undercutting UN conferences on racism and technology transfer, helping restore the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia after the Vietnamese had kicked them out, sponsoring genocide in Indonesia by selling them weapons while they wiped native peoples out, and loads of other fun times under Carter, the Sanctions of Iraq under Clinton that a) didn’t weaken Saddam and b) led to the deaths of thousands of children — not his fault, one says? But the policy was obviously not weakening him by the time Clinton left office, and many had died, yet he continued to support it — he bears responsibility for not stopping a failed policy that also hurt people; and more.

        …the Dems are responsible for a massive amount of war, death, imperialism, and destruction and that simply has not been rebutted with evidence. The fact that the Republicans were also bad isn’t enough, and the death tolls under Dems are, I think, higher (though of course it all depends on how — and who — you count). I rather think it’s naive to think any given Dem is going to change this horrifying trend of imperialism and massive disregard for the residents of other countries, and to me, to suborn or support anyone who is wrapped up in this endeavor — especially those most deeply wrapped in it is a moral compromise to be made only with the most extreme caution and reluctance. Support for the Democrats is support for death abroad, just as surely as it is for the Republicans. And never forget — Democratic Congresses have repeatedly failed to stop preventable wars and conflicts, or even give token resistance — cf. the IRAQ WAR. The resolution giving Bush the questionable power to do what he’s doing now probably could’ve been stopped by Dems if they hadn’t nearly-all voted for it; same with the PATRIOT ACT, and Jesus Christ, elected in 2006 on a wave of “we want change; we want out,” what the FUCK-ALL are they waiting for and what have they done? They’ve back down on pretty much every fight. Picking your fights is one thing; throwing them is another.”

        Dems have arguably done more that has resulted in more deaths of foreign nationals than Republicans. Both of them believe in American Empire. And what, praytell, is the long-term plan from stopping this type of horror altogether? Parry often, and correctly, points to the necessity of building an effective progressive infrastructure. Perhaps we would be better off debating and implementing that than debating between a candidate who will preside over the death of thousands of foreign nations, and a candidate who will preside over the death of a slightly greater or slightly smaller number of foreign nationals?

      • Paul G.
        July 30, 2012 at 01:10

        decades of proof showing Democratic Presidents invading countries for their resources?

        Maybe you are not old enough to remember but it was Democrat Lyndon Johnson when running against the arch hawk Barry Goldwater in .64 stated….”I’ll not send Amurican(sic) boys to go do what Asian boys ought to do for themselves…” After his election he promptly escalated the war in Vietnam up to half a million troops. Oh and while he was telling the public this he was telling the joint chiefs ..” if I get elected, you will have your war.” JFK had ordered the withdrawal of 1000 troops, at point where they were just advisors. As soon as he took office after Kennedy’s murder, LBJ reversed that decision, going into full bore invasion of combat troops after his election two years later.

      • July 30, 2012 at 23:22

        @William Carr:

        This book is called Against Empire, published in 1995 by Michael Parenti. It’s only 100 pages long.

        Here is a documentary, less than an hour long, called Blood and Oil. It’s a film adaptation of Michael Klare’s book of the same title.

        Another book you might consider is David Swanson’s excellent “War is a Lie”.

        You probably have heard of Major General Smedley Butler. He wrote the short essay and book called “War is a Racket”. This is what he said about war:

        You will recall that Woodrow Wilson, FDR, Truman, JFK, LBJ, Carter, Clinton and Obama are all Democrats. Their wars were imperialist wars, imperialism being defined by Parenti as, “the process whereby the dominant politico-economic interests of one nation expropriate for their own enrichment the land, labor, raw materials, and markets of another people.” (from chapter 1 of Against Empire, also available here:

      • Cary Stotland
        July 31, 2012 at 12:08

        “A Democratic President that tried to restore civil liberties would be popular but would be accused of being soft on Terrorism.”

        But, he would have retained my vote. Obama’s signing of NDAA and HR347 REMOVED OUR CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS. I CANNOT vote for him because he chose to do so. Especially after he vowed not to sign them. Sure, Congress WROTE them, but that’s why we have an Executive veto. Obama chose not to fight for REAL Constitutional issues, and regardless of the “what ifs”, I CANNOT vote for him.

        “Imagine if he refused to enforce the Patriot Act !” I IMAGINE that he should have REFUSED TO SIGN THE EXTENSION.

        I’m sorry, but in my opinion Obama has been an ineffective leader. He needs to be replaced, as do most incumbents. Congress REFUSES to address term limits, so we must do it for them. VOTE INDEPENDENT!

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