President Barack Obama celebrates with his daughters Sasha and Malia and First Lady Michelle Obama in Chicago on November 7
When it drops out of the blue, a doctor telling you that you have cancer evokes utter disbelief.
At least, that is the way it happened with me. And of all cancers, blood cancer? Come on!
I shrugged it off, and got a second blood check done, not telling the lab about the diagnosis the previous day.
Through the glass partition in front of me as I waited to get the results, I saw the lab technician in a private diagnostics center in Hanoi go into panic. Heads turned to look at me. She, the lab technician, beckoned me to the counter, asked me to thrust my arm again into the small partition, and took some more blood, apologizing for doing so. She said she had to do the test again. I assured her it was alright.
More panic. More heads turning. I knew something was up. The distraught lab technician gave it one more try (I was still calm; with so many people looking at me, the only foreigner there, there was nothing else I could do). She collected blood yet again, and finally, said: “Please go collect the results from the senior doctor.”
What happened next is a long story for another day, but the long and short of it is that yes, I did have leukemia and it was not looking very good.
So it is that when I hear about other people in similar predicaments, I get a little emotional. As I did when I read John Grisham’s novel, “The Rainmaker,” in which Danny Ray, a leukemia patient, dies while he could have lived because the insurance company refused to pay for a bone-marrow transplant. I personally know at least four people still living because they were able to get a bone-marrow transplant.
And I got emotional when I heard President Obama, just a couple of days ago, recount the anecdote of someone with leukemia being saved by Obamacare in the nick of time, because the insurance companies were going into their refusal act again.
But I did not join the rapturous applause that followed the President’s portrayal of his healthcare plan’s triumph in this instance. I sat in stunned disbelief as I watched the performance.
The hypocrisy was breathtaking. In fact, you could build a building taller and bigger than the World Trade Center if you piled on the hypocrisies, one on top of the other.
This is the same Obama who, repeatedly, in the Presidential debates and elsewhere, crowed about how he has imposed the most debilitating sanctions in history on Iran in order to discourage its alleged nuclear weapon ambitions, when his own intelligence agencies have discounted the threat.
Doesn’t the President of the United States know that these sanctions are depriving millions of Iranians of badly needed medicines, including leukemia and other cancer patients for whom badly needed imported medicines are now no longer affordable?
And what are the sanctions for? To placate Israel, which has a history of rabid aggression, which has hundreds of nuclear warheads that it has never admitted to, and which has refused sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT).
Iran is a signatory to the NPT. Would the US, Israel, France, China, India and other nuclear powers sign the treaty and allow their nuclear facilities to be inspected?
Cancers are not the only killers in the world, as Obama, the savior, knows very well. His drone attacks have claimed the lives of thousands of innocent men, women and children. And they continue to wreak destruction and death in the most cowardly, despicable manner.
Obama’s campaign, some say, was saved by superstorm Sandy, which took the wind out of his opponent Romney’s sails.
There is poetic injustice here.
Both Obama and Romney did not mention even once, in their campaigns, the threat of climate change that faces humankind today. Sandy, scientists say, came courtesy global warming. No moderator or mainstream media commentator covering the campaign seemed to think climate change was worth talking about.
Obama has been steadfast in supporting and initiating actions, including opening up natural parks for drilling, that advance the interests of the fossil fuel industry, a strong opponent of all actions aimed at mitigating the impacts of climate change.
In his victory speech, Obama referred to countries far away that hanker for the independence, democracy and freedoms enjoyed by the people of the United States, “the greatest nation on earth,” as evidenced by the just concluded “free elections.”
This, coming from a man who has failed to repeal the Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the NSA wiretapping program and every other assault on civil liberties launched by the Bush administration using the world trade centers and the “war on terror” as cover.
This, from the man who has signed some dicey provisions into the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
As columnist Chris Hedges notes:
“Obama has carried out a far more egregious assault on our civil liberties, including signing into law Section 1021(b)(2) of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), than George W. Bush. Section 1021(b)(2), which I challenged in federal court, permits the US military to detain US citizens, strip them of due process and hold them indefinitely in military facilities. US District Judge Katherine B. Forrest struck down the law in September.
The Obama administration immediately appealed the decision. The NDAA has been accompanied by use of the Espionage Act, which Obama has turned to six times in silencing whistle-blowers. Obama supported the FISA Amendment Act so government could spy on tens of millions of us without warrants. He has drawn up kill lists to exterminate those, even US citizens, deemed by the ruling elite to be terrorists.”
Is this what democracy and freedom look like?
To Americans, and many people all over the world who are celebrating Obama’s reelection, I can only say:
Wake up and smell the coffee.
By Hari Chathrattil - an expat who lives and works in Ho Chi Minh City (The story can be found in the November 9th issue of our print edition, Vietweek)