I had a strange conversation the other day. I was on my way to work and I ran into a professor of mine smoking a cigarette on the street. After the mundane bass player jabber of which I will kindly spare you, we drifted into talking of politics and Obama's chances of getting elected. Unprompted, my professor commented off-handedly about how their is fear in his mind that Obama might get assassinated sometime during the future.
Oddly enough, this wasn't the first time I've had conversations that followed these lines. When I first started hearing people elaborate on this idea, I dismissed it as a conspiracy theory young people like me like to twiddle with to entertain ourselves. But the idea stuck with me, and I decided to do a little research on the idea on this newfangled interweb machine.
After flowing through a few entertaining blog sites, (Check out Bob Geiger's blog. It's very funny and not related to this post at all, but it's in the citations anyway. (1) ) I stumbled upon an interesting article toying with the idea of what the likelihood of an Obama assassination would be. (2) Although much of the article is what-if scenarios, Palermo struck a chord with me when he started talking about privatized military forces and the lack of control the federal government really has over them.
Enter Blackwater. According to their website, Blackwater could be any corporation on the face of the earth. Their "Company Core Values" (3) is hilariously vague, and could be used unchanged to describe anything from a private equity firm to a donut shop.
In reality, they are a private military firm employed as mercenaries in the Iraqi war. (5) They train their own forces and do not present any numbers publicly over the deaths they have caused or sustained during the course of combat. Palmero says that during the course of Bush's tenure, federal support of Blackwater has grown from 27 million dollars to over 1 billion dollars. For those of you doing the math, thats a 3700% increase in budget over the course of merely 8 years.
Check out what they're doing with their extra scratch too. This year, they spend 30 million dollars countersuing the families of four of their dead soldiers. (6) The US Army gives money to surviving relatives of dead soldiers. (7) They even give the dignity of sending a note to the relatives thanking them for their service to their country. Blackwater sticks these grieving Americans with a 30 million dollars tab.
Blackwater is also recruiting and deploying troops within the United States. They were stationed in New Orleans during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and they have brand new training facilities in both Mt. Carroll, IL and San Diego, CA. (4) (5)
So will Obama be shot just like Malcolm X, JFK, and Martin Luther King Jr.? I can't answer that. My crystal ball is out of order. 50 Cent seems to think it could happen, and Bill O'Reilly thinks 50 Cent is a "pinhead" for entertaining the possibility. (8)
I for one don't think Curtis James Jackson is all that dumb. A privately controlled military funded by the federal government is awful scary to me. Especially a privately controlled military that sues its own widows and avoids paying taxes. (9)
I certainly hope Obama isn't shot. I don't think I could handle the press, the conspiracy theories, and the general media stupidity that would ensue. But as the saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely. Looking at an increasingly privatized military and a president with the newfound power to cancel the elections in the event of a "national security crisis," (10) I can't help but be a little bit scared. This is the kind of stuff nightmares are made of. My hopes and prayers go out to you Obama. I sincerely hope you won't need them.
Dan Choma is a bassist, drummer, and composer in the Minneapolis Saint Paul area. After doing the research for this article, he stole some of his roomates tequila to help him sleep. He can be reached for comment at firstname.lastname@example.org.