Post Letter: Obama far from supporting the ‘American dream’

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As stirring, patriotic and admirable as Richard E. Newell’s Wednesday letter, “Supporting Obama continues the American Dream,” was, I’m afraid he neglected a few of Barack Obama’s accomplishments. So as not to underestimate the president, we write a modest addition.

Under former President George W. Bush’s tenure, we invaded Afghanistan and Iraq and bombed Pakistan. President Obama saw the folly in this; he corrected Bush’s shortcomings by increasing drone strikes in Pakistan (from 42 under Bush to 243 under Obama, according to the New America Foundation), bombing Libya, Yemen and Somalia and sending 100 U.S. soldiers to Uganda last October.

Obama has expanded executive power to a greater extent than former President Bush dared; now, an American president can order the assassination of American citizens suspected of terrorism.

Obama reauthorized the Patriot Act and signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows indefinite detention of America citizens suspected of any crime that a president deems an act of terror. Guantanamo Bay remains open, and Obama continues to support warrantless wiretapping.
Let us now, however, focus on issues outside expanded executive power and civil-liberties violations. (Besides, the civil-liberties violations threaten only bad people, so why should anyone care?)

Surely, after the financial crisis, Obama has led the charge against corporatism. Sadly, Obama is no less corporatist than the Republicans, although his rhetoric differs.

According to, his top contributors include Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase and Morgan Stanley. Obama’s replacement for chief of staff when William Daley departed to co-chair Obama’s re-election campaign (a former Midwestern chairman of JPMorgan) is Jacob Lew, a former high-level Citigroup official.

For a more comprehensive list of Obama’s connections with Wall Street, see “9 Wall Street Executives who Cashed in on the Boom — and the Bust” on Mother Jones.

Possibly the most harmful domestic policy on minority groups, the war on drugs, has been unflaggingly executed by Obama. The Department of Justice continues to raid and prosecute medical marijuana shops in California, for instance, even when they are legal under state law.

But wait!

Surely on immigration, Obama is more compassionate than previous administrations. If only.

Until last September, the Obama Administration has seen 1.06 million illegal immigrants deported. The Bush Administration oversaw 1.57 million deportations; in two-and-a-half years, Obama has almost topped Bush’s record during eight.

At least the Obama administration “is seen as the most transparent and corrupt-free since the Clinton Administration.” What a difficult feat that would be, but, shockingly, it’s a completely inane opinion. The administration’s use of the state-secrets privilege to block the release of documents, to halt court review of warrantless wiretapping and to refuse to provide details of its drone strike program in Pakistan only begins to exhibit the flagrant disregard for government transparency.

The shameful treatment of Bradley Manning and the response to WikiLeaks have been embarrassments to the allegedly transparent administration. Apparently, in the modern American tradition, the protection of whistleblowers and government accountability represent an unwelcome nomad.

The great democratic socialist George Orwell wrote: “At any given moment there is an orthodoxy, a body of ideas which it is assumed all right-thinking people will accept without question. It is not exactly forbidden to state this or that or the other, but it is ‘not done’… Anyone who challenges the prevailing orthodoxy finds himself silenced with surprising effectiveness. A genuinely unfashionable opinion is almost never given a fair hearing, either in the popular press or in the highbrow periodicals.”

We cannot speak for Mr. Newell, but our American dream isn’t recognizable in a president who shows abominable disregard for civil liberties, peace, limited government, the poor and government transparency.

What an absurdity to think that any non-partisan liberal, libertarian and conservative could support Obama.  If we desire any sort of liberty, equality and prosperity, our moral standards prevent us from campaigning for a continuation of undeclared and endless war, corporatism, civil-liberties violations, racist domestic policies, ignorant immigration policies and executive secrecy.

Anthony Hennen is a senior studying journalism and a copy editor for The Post; Chase Peterson-Withorn is a sophomore studying political science; Nathan Kelly is a junior studying integrated language arts education.

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