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By Eric Zuesse
This article will be the basis, the documentation, for the "No" position, in the first official national forum among Democrats, on the following question: "Should Barack Obama be the next Democratic candidate for president of the United States?" This meeting will be held in the Whiting, Vermont Town Hall, on Rt. 30, at 6:30 PM, on Tuesday November 15th, 2011, and it will be open to everyone everywhere -- everyone is invited to attend. This forum is sponsored by the Democratic Committee of the Town of Whiting.
The article was researched and written by Eric Zuesse, a Whiting resident, winner of the Mencken Award for investigative reporting, and author of IRAQ WAR: The Truth (2004), and of WHY the Holocaust Happened (2000). In January, his new book will be issued: CHRIST'S VENTRILOQUISTS: How Jesus's Enemies Wrote the New Testament.
Soon after Barack Obama was elected, on a platform of providing every American with a “Public Option, to keep the [health] insurance companies honest” (by providing nonprofit government competition for the health-insurance companies), and of providing accountability for Wall Street and other elite crimes, Obama appointed Bush’s N.Y. Fed chief Timothy Geithner (who had pushed for and organized a 100 cents-on-the-dollar bailout for investors in Wall Street’s toxic assets to come from U.S. taxpayers) as his Treasury Secretary, and appointed Eric Holder (who had wrangled a Presidential pardon for billionaire commodity trader Marc Rich) as his Attorney General, and Obama also told House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to block any movement for single-payer health insurance, which the Congressional Progressive Caucus had wanted to introduce as the left-most position for the bargaining and horse-trading that was to come on health care. Once Obama was ensconced in office, he chose the anti-public-option conservative Democratic Senator Max Baucus as the person to write his new health care plan. Baucus’s staff aide, Liz Fowler, formerly the VP of the nation’s biggest health insurance company, Wellpoint, promptly set about drafting the Obama plan. Right out of the starting-gate, Barack Obama was doing everything he possibly could to block any fight from the left against extremist right-wing Republican legislative initiatives in Congress. This drove everything farther to the right. He was thus doing exactly what a secret conservative fake “Democrat” would do to cripple Democratic opposition to Obama’s actually conservative legislative initiatives.
Here is the result, issue by issue:
Obama’s Rejection of Democratic Economics
Obama populated his National Economic Council and his Council of Economic Advisers not with liberal Democratic economists but with conservative ones. Instead of choosing progressive Democratic economists such as Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, Simon Johnson, James Galbraith, Dean Baker, or Nouriel Roubini, he chose conservative Democratic economists such as Lawrence Summers (originally an adviser to President Reagan), Christina Romer, Austan Goolsbee, and Jason Furman. However, his team of conservative Democratic economists were soon shocked to find that their President was even farther to the right than they were.
On 19 September 2011, the former Clinton-Administration economist, Brad DeLong, blogged headlining “Obama Develops His Own View of the Jobless Recovery,” and pasted in some excerpts from the just-published devastating take-down of the Obama Administration, Ron Suskind’s Confidence Men. DeLong being a professional economist, he included the book’s most revealing passage concerning Obama’s view of the nation’s economy as he was entering office and during his first years in office – the passage in this book that actually explained Obama's entire economic policy. This passage referred to the President’s two leading economic advisors, Christina Romer and Lawrence Summers:
Both ... were concerned by something the president had said in a morning briefing: that he thought the high unemployment was due to productivity gains in the economy. Summers and Romer were startled.
‘What was driving unemployment was clearly deficient demand,’ Romer said. ‘We wondered where this could have been coming from. We both tried to convince him otherwise. He wouldn’t budge.’
Summers had been focused intently on how to spur demand, and on what might drive a meaningful recovery. Since the summer, in meeting after meeting, he’d ticked off the possible candidates, and then discussed them – ‘it won’t be construction, it won’t be exports, it won’t be the consumer.’ But without a rise in demand, in Summers’s view, nothing else would work. What’s more, in such a sluggish, low-demand environment, Summers felt that banks probably shouldn’t be lending. ‘No one wants banks to offer credit to people who shouldn’t be taking on more credit.’
But productivity? The implications were significant. If Obama felt that 10 percent unemployment was the product of sound, productivity-driven decisions by American businesses, then short-term government measures to spur hiring were not only futile but unwise.
The two economists strained their shared memory of dozens of meetings: had they said something he’d misconstrued? At one point, Summers had mentioned how Keynes once wrote in a 1938 letter that the labor movement depressed productivity, and maybe Obama saw that the disruptions in the economy from the Great Panic gave employers an opportunity – an excuse, essentially – to harvest latent productivity gains.
After a month, frustration turned to resignation. ‘The president seems to have developed his own view,’ Romer said.
In other words, as the first of the many reader-responses to this posting said – and DeLong’s blog was followed by large numbers of Democratic economists, so these comments came mainly from professional economists who were on the liberal side of that very conservative profession – “Obama is now on record as to the right of Larry Summers on stimulus vs. deficit reduction. At that point, we are beyond ‘Obama as Rubinite’ or ‘Obama as blue dog’ and well into ‘Obama as GOP mole’ territory. This disgraceful shill for global capital has destroyed the Democratic party for a generation.”
Another said: “And I was always joking about Obama as the ‘Manchurian Candidate’ from the U of Chicago [a notoriously right-wing faculty]. Productivity? Really?”
Another said: “Law and economics [the associated far-Right UC viewpoint in political theory] background. Depressing.”
Another said: “I’m totally blown away. ... To read that he espouses crank nonsense like this is frightening.”
Another said: “Omigod. Larry Summers [the discredited conservative Democratic economist] looks good [by comparison to the President he advised].”
The only economists who still shared Obama’s view that high unemployment was a good thing – a sign of high economic productivity – were Republican economists, such as Glenn Hubbard, who had been George W. Bush’s chief economic advisor. No matter how far to the right Obama selected his team of economic advisors, they wouldn’t be as conservative as he was himself. Obama knew better than to retain Bush’s team of advisors; that would have been political suicide for him.
From this point forward, the only people who still supported Barack Obama were the uninformed and outright suckers – besides any fascist insiders who might possibly have been in on this con-game. Suskind’s title “Confidence Men” referred to an overwhelmingly dishonest group of conservative Democratic insiders who surrounded and advised this President. But who could have suspected that Obama himself was actually far more conservative than any of them, and was the vilest of all of those “Confidence Men”?
Businessinsider.com, on 20 September 2011, bannered “IT FINALLY COMES OUT: Why The Original Obama Stimulus Was Such A Disaster [too small],” and Joe Weisenthal cited this passage from Suskind’s new book as explaining why the first stimulus had been way too small to get the unemployment rate down. (It added jobs, but not enough to prevent some rise in overall unemployment.) Obama’s economists couldn’t persuade him that unemployment was even a big problem. And yet Obama was now pushing a second stimulus. Perhaps he changed his mind and finally recognized that unemployment was a big problem, after all. But certainly he recognized that the public thought it was; he was taking advantage of just about the only powerful weapon he had in his re-election campaign against a potential Republican opponent. He was now essentially daring the Republicans in Congress to block his second stimulus.
How credible is it that Obama was a secret Republican from the very start? On 10 February 2009, Paul.Kedrosky.com headlined “Obama On Bank Nationalization: Too Many Banks/Republicans,” and Mr. Kedrosky presented transcript excerpts from that night’s ABC News “Nightline” (“Obama: No ‘Easy Out’ for Wall Street”) in which Terry Moran asked the President: “There are a lot of economists who look at these banks and they say all that garbage that’s in them renders them essentially insolvent. Why not just nationalize the banks?” Moran was, in effect, asking the new President to indicate whether he’d do as Sweden had done (leave the losses with the investors in the junky bonds), or instead as Japan had done (bailed those investors out with taxpayer money). Obama chose the Japanese model, and Kedrosky was shocked at this, and pointed out the fraudulence of Obama’s explanation for his choice. Obama answered this question from Moran by saying, “Well, you know, it’s interesting. There are two countries who have gone through some big financial crises over the last decade or two. One was Japan, which never really acknowledged the scale and magnitude of the problems in their banking system, and that resulted in what’s called ‘the lost decade.’ They kept on trying to paper over the problems. The markets sort of stayed up, because the government kept on pumping [taxpayer] money in. But, eventually, nothing happened and they didn’t see any growth whatsoever. Sweden, on the other hand, had a problem like this. They took over the banks, nationalized them, got rid of the bad assets, resold the banks and, a couple of years later, they were going again.” All of this was exactly true, and if Obama had been both honest and intelligent – and not a psychopath – he’d have proceeded then to use that as the basis for what he’d do, since he acknowledged it would be the best for the country; but instead he now went into a sequence of obfuscations. Kedrosky lambasted Obama here, saying, “All this talk of ‘culture’, ‘traditions’, and so on are an opaque way of saying that Democrats are [no: that Obama is] terrified of nationalization because they [no: he] worry [worries] about Republican name-calling.”
Here was this new President’s grand opportunity to take advantage of the nation’s disgust with eight disastrous years of Bush/Republican corruption and serving the aristocracy at the public’s expense. And Obama completely and shockingly muffed it. He said: “So you’d think looking at it, Sweden looks like a good model. Here’s the problem:” and he named two: culture (Sweden’s being democratic socialist, versus America’s being what — fascist?), and scale (Sweden’s being a smaller country than the U.S.). Kedrosky pointed out the fraudulence of both of Obama’s arguments, and closed by observing: “Muddying the issue by saying that we would need to nationalize ‘thousands of banks’ isn’t helpful.” Bill McBride at calculatedriskblog.com bannered “Obama on Nationalization,” and included the February 10th commentary by Nouriel Roubini, the economist who had predicted the financial collapse. Roubini summarized what he understood to be the advice President Obama was receiving from his top economic advisors (Larry Summers and Tim Geithner), which led Obama to think that he should copy Japan. Roubini expected that Obama would probably reverse himself on this after “6-12 months.” It didn’t happen. Obama, as always, faked to the left, then pushed the Democratic Party (and America’s ideological center) father to the right.
Sweden had let the wealth of some aristocrats (the main holders of bonds and stocks in the failed banks) plunge, rather than transferring onto future taxpayers (the general Swedish public) those individuals’ losses; and the entire Swedish economy quickly recovered. Japan instead bailed out its aristocrats; and the economy never recovered. Obama knew all about it, and he chose the Japanese approach. This didn’t make sense unless Obama was a psychopath, but it was far too early in his Presidency for anyone to be able to draw such a conclusion rationally: such a conclusion seemed too bizarre to be an accurate reading of the man, since his Presidency was now just starting.
On 3 February 2009, Martin Wolf of Britain’s Financial Times, headlined “Why Davos Man Is Waiting for Obama to Save Him,” and he pointed out that the new U.S. President was shocking the international attendees at Davos by continuing with Bush’s bailout of the aristocracy. “The critics of the US – led by prime ministers Wern Jiabao of China and Vladimir Putin of Russia – had an easy story of incompetence and malfeasance to tell. Yet, however easy it may be to blame the US for the current global economic woes, it is also to the US that the world looks for a solution. ... The lead must come from the US; it remains the hyperpower; the [global] economic system is one it promoted; and the crisis had much to do with mistakes its policymakers and private institutions made.” Wolf said that the solution was: “First, focus all attention on reversing the collapse in demand. ... Second, employ overwhelming force. The time for ‘shock and awe’ in economic policymaking is now.” But he didn’t see it in Obama. “The world desperately needs Mr Obama to take a firmer grip. ... Unfortunately, what is coming out of the US is desperately discouraging. Instead of an overwhelming fiscal stimulus, what is emerging is too small, too wasteful and too ill-focused. Instead of decisive action to recapitalize banks, which must mean temporary public control of insolvent banks, the US may be returning to the immoral and ineffective policy of bailing out those who now hold the ‘toxic assets.’ ... This way lies a catastrophe.”
The next day, the Washington Post bannered “Bank Rescue Would Entail Triage For Troubled Assets,” and reported that, “The Obama administration’s emerging rescue plan for the banking system would amount to financial triage,” with the Treasury deciding which investors to bail out how much. Also on February 4th, Yves Smith at her nakedcapitalism.com headlined “The Bad Bank Assets Proposal: Even Worse Than You Imagined,” and she called the Obama plan that was being reported by the WP, “a hugely expensive ‘save the banking industry at all costs’ experiment that (1) Has nothing substantive in common with any of the ‘deemed as successful’ financial crisis programs; (2) Has key elements that studies of financial crises have recommended against; [and] (3) ... [wastes] fiscal firepower.” She cited especially “a study by the IMF of 124 banking crises,” which found that the most effective approach was the one Sweden had used in the early 1990’s, and that all of the approaches like Obama’s (e.g, Japan’s in the early 1990’s) had failed miserably.
On 11 March 2009, Barry Ritholtz at his ritholtz.com bannered “Lessons From Sweden,” and he presented a summary of how the Swedish Government in the early 1990’s had successfully dealt with a similar financial crisis. Ritholtz linked to a paper, “The Swedish Model for Resolving the Banking Crisis of 1991-93,” by Lars Jonung, who had overseen Sweden’s operation. Obama was violating every aspect of this program. He was behaving as if his sole concern was to bail out the aristocracy.
Bloomberg News bannered on 2 April 2009, “FASB Eases Fair-Value Rules,” and reported that “The Financial Accounting Standards Board, pressured by U.S. lawmakers [read: congressional Republicans, plus Obama pressuring congressional Democrats – Bloomberg was covering here for the actual guilty parties] and financial companies [read: Wall Street banks, not Main Street], voted to relax fair-value accounting rules.” In clear language: the FASB was caving to Administration/Republican pressure to permit the nation’s biggest banks to value their toxic assets at their fictitious “AAA” values as of the time when the banks had created them, rather than at their actual current trash values – typically around 25% of that. The FASB had eliminated the requirement for those assets to be listed at market value – had eliminated mark-to-market valuations of these assets – in order to enable Geithner to say that these banks passed their “stress tests,” and therefore didn’t need to be taken over by the FDIC and have their boards and top executives fired and replaced, their stockholders cleaned out, and their bondholders placed at the end of a long line whose front end would consist of all account-holders who were insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 in each respective account. Obama was protecting the current stockholders and bondholders in these Wall Street institutions, and AIG, and Bank of America (in North Carolina), so as to enable those people to sell the stocks and bonds in their banks to an investing public which would be deceived to think that the balance sheets of those banks proved that these were sound companies in which to invest. Obama wanted to transfer those banks’ losses onto outside investors and future U.S. taxpayers, and this FASB rule-change would enable the cover story: that the banks were okay and would be a sound “investment” for stockholders, bondholders, and future taxpayers. The American public were thus to serve as the financial sewer for the American and entire global aristocracy, to receive their financial waste-matter, on the basis of fraudulent “stress tests.” This was to be the final stage of the massive sequence of frauds that had produced the economic collapse to begin with.
Massimo Calabresi headlined in TIME, 08 May 2009, “Stress Tested: Has Geithner’s Bank Confidence Game Worked?” and he noted that Roubini had said that Wall Street banks’ having passed “the stress tests ‘would be good news if it were credible,’ but it’s not.” Calabresi closed: “Whatever his faults, Tim Geithner knows how to game America’s confidence in the banking system. But does that mean the stress tests themselves are one big confidence game? Perhaps.”
Obama’s Passion to Cut Social Security & Medicare
Obama was also giving signals that he would be willing to take leadership from Republicans in changing Social Security. Peter Peterson, who had been Richard Nixon’s first Treasury Secretary, had long been propagandizing for cutting Social Security. He was a millionaire-then-billionaire investor who wanted socialism only for the rich. On 12 February 2009, Jane Hamsher at firedoglake.com headlined “Obama, Social Security and the Diamond-Orszag Plan,” and she reported that Obama was promoting conservative Peterson-following Democrats to the job of tackling Social Security reform. Six days later (the same day on which the White House issued a press release titled “President Obama Establishes Bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility”), Hamsher bannered “Hedge Fund Billionaire Pete Peterson Key Speaker At Obama ‘Fiscal Responsibility Summit,’ Will Tell Us All Why Little Old Ladies Must Eat Cat Food.” At first, Obama was hoping to press Congress to reduce Social Security, but “House and Senate leadership [a.k.a., House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid] sent word back to the White House, something along the lines of ‘that F*!K, are you CRAZY?’” This was the first of a number of issues on which the new President tried to push congressional Democrats to lurch rightward but they refused. Many Democratic Representatives and Senators had come to Washington with their first objective being to help the public, not to amass the most enormous campaign chests, and Pelosi and Reid told Obama that his proposals to reduce Social Security would not pass in this Democratic Congress.
Peterson, with his foundation, continued pressing to reduce Social Security. On 29 April 2010, Dan Froomkin at huffingtonpost.com bannered, “Sanctimonious Deficit Hawks Target Social Security Safety Net,” and he reported on how “Peterson’s Deficit Fest’ was timed to come on the heels of the first meeting of President Obama’s deficit commission.” Then, on 21 May 2010, Nancy Altman and Eric Kingson headlined at “Nieman Watchdog: Questions the Press Should Ask” (but weren’t asking): “Has Obama Created a Social Security ‘Death Panel’?” This scorching exposé revealed that, “President Obama and the leadership in Congress have delegated enormous, unaccountable authority to 18 unrepresentative, inordinately wealthy individuals. The 18 individuals are meeting regularly, in secret, behind closed doors, until safely beyond this year’s mid-term election,” and they all seemed to agree on one thing: cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, but not raising taxes on corporations and on the rich (especially taxes on estates, capital gains, and dividends). Among the questions the press should be asking: “Why is the Commission apparently working so closely with billionaire Peter G. Peterson?” On 18 June 2010, healthbeatblog.com bannered “Don’t Confuse Pete Peterson’s Desire to Slash Medicare with the Goals of HealthCare Reform — Part 1.” The reporters said: “It would seem that Peterson’s day has come,” not only because of his closeness to the Commission members, but because “Peterson’s foundation is funding America Speaks, a series of high-profile town halls that will be held across the country later this month to launch ‘a national discussion to find common ground on tough choices about our federal budget.’” Republicans, and conservative Democrats such as Obama, pushed to cut government services, and to increase taxes, during a depression. Then, on 28 June 2010, economist Brad DeLong blogged “Listening to Arson,” and he expressed amazement that the Republican co-chair of the Deficit Commission was turning out to be as bad as he had expected; he said: “I had always thought that Barack Obama made a significant mistake in naming the Republican ex-senator Alan Simpson to co-chair the president’s deficit-reduction commission. Simpson was a noted budget arsonist when he was in the Senate. Indeed, he never met a budget-busting, deficit-increasing initiative from a Republican president that he would not lead the charge to pass. ... You don’t pick an arsonist to head the fire department.” But, as it turns out, that’s what Obama did. Congressional Democrats found themselves negotiating with the White House to find a way out of the impasse; and means-testing Social Security benefits in order to get wealthier retirees to help fund SS benefits for people in greater need of them was the way. On 9 July 2010, David Lightman of McClatchy Newspapers bannered “Retire at Age 70? Young People May Have to Under Plan,” and he reported that though delaying or otherwise cutting benefits wouldn’t contribute significantly (only 6% at the very most) to reducing the national debt, congressional Democrats were willing to consider doing it if it would be done in a way to produce “more progressive Social Security and Medicare benefits, and a stronger safety net.”
The conservative columnist, David Brooks, headlined in The New York Times on 6 March 2009, “When Obamatons Respond,” and he reported that “four senior members of the administration” had assured him: “They’re not engaged in an ideological project to overturn the Reagan Revolution, a fight that was over long ago.” Instead, they told him they were aiming to carry it on, by slashing “nondefense discretionary spending as a share of G.D.P.” from its then-current 4.6% down “to 3.1 percent by 2019,” which was by one-third. Moreover, “I got the impression they’d be willing to raise taxes on the bottom 95 percent of earners as part of an overall package,” – even though Obama had campaigned (and was still promising) never to do that. Furthermore: “He ... is plotting politically feasible ways to reduce Social Security as well as health spending.” They assured Brooks, “It’s not the Russian Revolution.” It was more of the Reagan Revolution. It was turning out that when Matt Stoller, on 29 October 2007, headlined “Paul Krugman Guts Obama on Social Security,” and said “It’s just a reality that Obama has given up on the progressive conversation,” he was correct.
This culminated during the July 2011 debt-ceiling debate. On 21 July 2011, the Washington Post bannered “Debt-Limit Talks: As Obama, Boehner Rush to Strike Deal, Democrats Are Left Fuming,” and reported: “Democrats reacted with outrage as word filtered to Capitol Hill, saying the emerging agreement appeared to violate their pledge not to cut Social Security and Medicare benefits as well as Obama’s promise not to make deep cuts in programs for the poor without extracting some tax concessions from the rich. When ‘we heard these reports of these mega-trillion-dollar cuts with no revenues, it was like Mount Vesuvius. Many of us were volcanic,’ said Sen. Barbara A. Mikulski (D-MD).” The issue was no longer whether there would be drastic cuts to SS and Medicare, but whether there would also be tax-hikes on the rich. Furthermore, Grover “Norquist [whose statement reported earlier that day to the editors of this same newspaper, saying that termination of the Bush tax cuts wouldn’t count as a tax increase, had evidently alarmed his financial backers] backed away from the reported remarks Thursday. ... Expiration of the cuts would amount to a tax increase” after all, Norquist announced. Also, the Washington Post headlined “Debt Talks Bring Tensions between Democrats, Obama, to Surface,” and reported: “The Democrats were winning, the senators said. The American people were with them on tax increases for the rich and the notion of ‘shared sacrifice’ [as if the bottom 99% hadn’t already paid plenty for the banksters’ crimes]. Why give up now? Why cut a deal without guarantees of new [actually merely restoration of old pre-Bush] tax revenue? ... Democrats lashed out. ... They questioned whether Obama shared their core values.” Businessinsider.com bannered “The Question Now: Can Obama Bully The Democrats Into a Debt Deal?” and reported that Senate Republicans were euphoric, convinced that Obama would sign steep budget cuts with no significant tax increases, a deal which would decimate the Democratic vote-turnout in 2012. Huffingtonpost.com headlined “Tom Coburn [Obama’s conservative Republican friend]: President Obama Will Back Down On Budget Bill Veto Threat,” and said that leading Republicans were confident that Obama would give them what they demanded. Washingtonsblog.com headlined “Debt Crisis Being Used as Shock Doctrine to Steal More Money from the American People to Give to the Richest 1%.” The world’s great newspaper, Britain’s Guardian, bannered “Barack Obama Is Gutting the Core Principles of the Democratic Party: The President’s Attacks on America’s Social Safety Net Are Destroying the Soul of the Democratic Party,” and the Guardian’s American reporter, Glenn Greenwald, said (and he documented) that “It is now beyond dispute that President Obama not only favours, but is the leading force in Washington pushing for, serious benefit cuts to both Social Security and Medicare.”
The next day, Patricia Murphy at The Daily Beast headlined “Democrats’ Debt-Deal Shutout: House Democrats are shocked and outraged that Obama is pursuing a debt deal with Boehner that sidelines them and won’t hike taxes – though some are resigned to it.” Also on the 22nd, “The Fix” blog at the Washington Post, headlined, “Democrats, Divided (on the Debt Ceiling),” and Cilizza and Blake reported that Obama was out to hold onto the White House, regardless of the wishes, or political survival, of Democrats in Congress. He was willing to destroy the Democratic Party, if need be, in order to stay in the White house, even if this would mean his ruling as the titular “President” when both houses of Congress would be Republican in a second Obama term. Obama wouldn’t be able to achieve anything that way, but he still would retain the title of “President,” and he still would have the power to place the aristocracy even deeper in his debt, so that they’d finance yet-bigger memorials to him (etc.) during his retirement.
Also on 22 July 2011, President Obama held a press conference, opening with “Remarks by the President.” He said: “Essentially, what we had offered Speaker Boehner was over a trillion dollars in cuts to discretionary spending [while the country sinks into depression], both domestic and defense. We then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security. ... We were offering a deal that called for as much discretionary savings as the Gang of Six. We were calling for taxes that were less than what the Gang of Six had proposed. And we were calling for modifications to entitlement programs, [which] would have saved just as much over the 10-year window. ... I spoke to Democratic leaders yesterday, and although they didn’t sign off on a plan, they were willing to engage in serious negotiations, despite a lot of heat from interest groups around the country. [NOTE: Like Ronald Reagan, he referred to traditional Democratic Party constituencies as ‘interest groups,’ but did not refer to traditional Republican Party constituencies that way. This phrase was psychological code for treating Democratic constituencies as being leaches or parasites upon the public, rather than as their being the public. He actually said this; and this type of language was heard frequently from him. It constituted a clear sign that he was a closet Republican.] ... It is hard to understand why Speaker Boehner would walk away from this kind of deal. And frankly, if you look at commentary out there, there are a lot of Republicans that are puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done. In fact, there are a lot of Republican voters out there who are puzzled as to why it couldn’t get done.”
During the Q&A session after the speech, Scott Horsley asked, “Q: Mr. President, can you explain why you were offering a deal that was more generous [to the Republicans] than the Gang of Six [composed of three conservative Republicans, two conservative Democrats, and one liberal Democrat]?” Obama answered: “Because ... there are a group of his caucus that actually think default would be okay. ... And so I understand how they get themselves stirred up and the sharp ideological lines that they’ve drawn.” Norah O’Donnell asked, “But they were willing to move on some revenues, apparently?” And he answered: “Absolutely.” He went on to explain: “If I’m saying to future recipients of Social Security or Medicare that you’re going to have to make some adjustments, it’s important that we’re also willing to make some adjustments when it comes to corporate jet owners, or oil and gas producers, or people who are making millions or billions of dollars.” Already, he and Bush had bailed out the aristocracy, and had placed the public into debt to do it; and now, he was saying that the public’s retirement and health plans should also be cut in order to “share” the pain, which the aristocracy didn’t actually share in, at all.
Three days later, on July 25th, Obama delivered an “Address by the President to the Nation,” in which he said: “While many in my own party aren’t happy with the painful cuts it makes, enough will be willing to accept them if the burden is fairly shared. ... And to his credit, this is the kind of approach the Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, was working on with me. ... This balanced approach isn’t on its way to becoming law ... because a significant number of Republicans are insisting on a different approach – a cuts-only approach. ... Many Republicans in the House refuse to consider this kind of balanced approach.”
On July 23rd, Mike Allen of Politico bannered “The Obama-Boehner Breakup,” about the collapse of the deal. However, already, Ezra Klein in the Washington Post, had explained in advance “Why Liberals Should Thank Eric Cantor [Boehner’s #2, and the Tea Party’s leader in the House].” Klein explained that whereas Obama wanted to make a deal that would satisfy Republican voters, few other Democrats were willing to go that far, and that therefore Cantor forced Obama to go into the coming 2012 electoral battle fighting to retain his base, instead of appealing to what was commonly referred to as the center-right: Republicans and independents. Obama didn’t have the stomach to fight for, and run on, a Democratic position; but now, because of the Tea Party’s intransigence, he would have to do that; this would now be the only way for him to compete in 2012.
Also on July 23rd, Jane Hamsher headlined at her firedoglake.com, “Obama: We Offered Cuts to ‘Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security,” and she quoted Obama’s admission that, “We [i.e., honestly: he, singular – this was his concession, not his and Boehner’s, but the master liar used here the plural in order to fool Democratic suckers] then offered an additional $650 billion in cuts to entitlement programs – Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security.” Her comment was: “It’s been two and a half years since we first said Obama was trying to cut Social Security. Denial is no longer possible.” She was right that she had been right. However, denial was still possible – for liberal fools.
On Sunday, 31 July 2011, Michael Tomasky at The Daily Beast bannered “The GOP Gets Its Way: As reports of a possible deal leaked out late Saturday night, it appears that Obama is meeting the Republicans – on their terms.” Furthermore, “It appears ... that Reid and Pelosi were getting their marching orders and being read the terms of surrender. ... Reid felt sideswiped by the White House.” This deal constituted the ultimate victory of the Reagan Revolution, thus far. Not a penny of tax-cuts, nor of elimination of any of the “temporary” tax cuts that George W. Bush and his Republican Congress had put in place back in 2001, were to be included – only slashing cuts in government services, to the middle-class and poor, including “huge cuts in entitlement programs [especially Medicare], the domestic budget, and more or less everything every Democrat in Washington (except, apparently, one) wakes up every day to fight for.” Tomasky opined, “It’s a bleak day for this presidency, and really in American history.” And yet, still, the program was being projected barely to dent the federal debt, and might greatly increase it on account of collapsing so much demand by soaring unemployment. (Though Tomasky didn’t mention it, the Medicare cuts were to gut payments to physicians who accept Medicare; this payments-slash was designed to drive physicians out of the public Medicare program, and force seniors onto private insurance – at, of course, enormously higher prices). Elise Foley at huffingtonpost.com bannered “Durbin: Debt Deal Will Be The Death Of Keynesian Economics,” and she quoted a Senate floor speech that day from #2 Senate Democrat Dick Durbin, where he said that the agreement was symbolically “moving us to the point where we are having the final interment of John Maynard Keynes,” the leading post-Great-Depression economist, and chief economic thinker of all liberal parties throughout the world, the man who overcame pre-Great-Depression economic thinking. “He normally died in 1946 but it appears we are going to put him to his final rest with this agreement.” A few hours later, “masaccio” at firedoglake.com headlined, “The Death of Keynesian Economics and the Resurrection of Supply Side Idiocracy.” The pre-Great-Depression economics, which said that there would always be purchasers for everything that any capitalist economy produced, was re-named “supply-side economics” when it took over and reigned within the U.S. during the Reagan Administration, and Reagan restored pre-Great-Depression economic policy, from that time till now. Durbin was essentially saying that the liberal economic theory which had gotten the world out of Great Depression #1 was finally interred at the start of what he feared might become Great Depression #2, and that the cycle would be repeated, with nothing at all having been learned from the previous failure of pre-Great-Depression economic thinking. Republicans still believed that everything which was produced would be sold, no matter how impoverished and in debt the public might be. Republicans continued to have faith that even if a tiny aristocracy owns virtually everything, everything that’s produced will be quickly sold at a profitable price. This failed prior to the first Great Depression; it failed again during the Reagan Administration (which quickly reversed course and re-instituted Keynesianism, though mixed with supply-side policies); but Obama and congressional Republicans were now going to restore full-bore pre-Great-Depression-#-1 economic policy in the U.S.
“Masaccio” at firedoglake.com was correct when he bannered on 31 July 2011, “The Death of Keynesian Economics and the Resurrection of Supply Side Idiocracy,” and decried the continuing victory of Ronald Reagan’s supply-side revolution in U.S. economic policy.
On the night of July 31st and morning of August 1st, the deficit deal was finally announced. Christopher Ruddy, the founder of Richard Mellon Scaife’s newsmax.com, which was the most popular conservative news website, headlined “Obama Blinked Again,” and he delightedly announced, “The proposal offers no new taxes. Obama’s 180-degree turn is deja vu.” The front page of huffingtonpost.com bannered “Debt Ceiling Deal that Cuts Trillions ... It’s All Cuts: Deal Would Slash Trillions, Create Super Congress, No Unemployment Benefits Extension ... ... Paul Krugman: The President Surrenders.” CBS News bannered “Boehner: I Got 98 Percent of What I Wanted,” and Boehner’s exact statement to Scott Pelley was, “I got 98 percent of what I wanted. I’m pretty happy.” At The Daily Beast, Eleanor Clift headlined “The Tea Party’s Debt Triumph,” and Michael Tomasky headlined “Obama Gives It All Away,” while Peter Beinart (formerly of the conservative Democratic The New Republic) headlined “How the Tea Party Won the Deal.”
Of course, a larger percentage of congressional Republicans than of congressional Democrats voted for this disgusting deal. The reason that a significant percentage of Democrats ended up voting for it was that congressional Democrats didn’t want the public to blame the Democratic Party for the market panic that would ensue from their turning it down. The “Democratic” President had already backed this deal; congressional Democrats would then have minimal 2012 re-election chances themselves; the President could run against what they had done if they killed it, and certainly the Republican candidate would do so. Congressional Democrats would have received all the blame for crashing the economy; they were trapped by the Obama-Republican deal. Obama was looking out only for himself; congressional Democrats didn’t want the blame if a failure of passing the debt-deal were to cause an immediate financial collapse. So, they were forced to let it pass.
The debt-ceiling deal set up a congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, which consisted of 12 members: 3 Republican Senators, 3 Republican Representatives, 3 Democratic Senators, and 3 Democratic Representatives. Obama got what he wanted. These 12 congressmen would now be required to agree on at least $2.1 trillion in debt-reduction for the next ten years, and 80% would have to come from spending cuts. (The latest poll had shown that even Republican voters wanted 26% to come from tax-hikes; so, this Obama position was actually well to the right of even Republican voters. However, it certainly wasn’t to the right of the aristocrats who funded the Republican Party.) On 6 August 2011, Britain’s Economist bannered “America Has Avoided Default, But Political Dysfunction Is Threatening Its Chances of Recovery,” and reported, essentially, that Republicans on the committee would hold firm against upper-bracket tax-hikes, and Democrats would hold firm against gutting Social Security and Medicare. Then, on 28 October 2011, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (whose own policy recommendations accepted significant reductions in SS benefits) headlined “Democrats Offer Significant Concessions ... to the Right of Bowles-Simpson and Gang of Six,” and reported that the 6 Democrats were seeking 20% of deficit-reductions to come from tax-hikes, and 80% from budget-cuts. The “Gang of Six” had recommended 31% come from tax-hikes; The Bowles-Simpson “Catfood Commission” had 34%. So: Obama was going to achieve his goal of transferring virtually all the costs of dealing with the Bush-generated 2008 crash onto the non-wealthy.
Obama’s Ditching the Public Option
Obama also violated his campaign promises to provide all Americans with “a public option which will keep the private insurance companies honest,” by supplying nonprofit government-operated health insurance as an alternative to what private insurance companies provide. Like Hillary Clinton, he sometimes contradicted that and said that the public option would be available only for individuals who didn’t already have insurance.
In February 2008, “Barack Obama’s Plan for a Healthy America” had said “Key features of this initiative include: A new Public National Health Plan, similar to the coverage available to federal employees. These plans will be available to all Americans.” By July 2008, “Barack Obama’s Plan for a Healthy America” had changed that description to: “The Obama plan will: (1) establish a new public insurance program available to Americans who neither qualify for Medicaid or SCHIP nor have access to insurance through their employers, as well as to small businesses that want to offer insurance to their employees. ...” He now was implicitly proposing to restrict the plan to only 5% of the population. America’s national “news” media during the campaign never asked Obama any question such as “Do you favor or oppose creating a government-administered health insurance option that anyone can purchase, competing with private insurance plans?” That was always the basic question about the “public option.” Therefore, America’s voting public never had an opportunity to get to know what “Barack Obama’s Plan for a Healthy America” actually meant regarding a public option. Obama was pressed on “the individual mandate” and other such details, but never on this, the core health-insurance concern for most Democratic voters — the voters he was seeking in Democratic primaries. America’s major “news” media did a putrid job, and so it’s no wonder that voters were confused. When Obama, on 9 September 2009, finally made clear that his “public option” would be unavailable to anyone who had or who could obtain private insurance, no journalist asked him, “How, then, will this “keep the insurers honest” or “help keep [their] prices down”? So, conning the American public was just a breeze.
Obama had always said that the public insurance option would “help keep the insurers honest,” or words to that effect. He said this even after his actual plan was limited to only 5% of the population. For example, on 11 June 2009 he told a town hall in Green Bay, “If the private insurance companies have to compete with a public option, it will keep them honest and help keep prices down.” Even his 9 September 2009 speech to Congress said “An additional step we can take to keep insurance companies honest is by making a not-for-profit public option available.” But the plan that he actually offered to Congress offered instead a “public option” which wouldn’t really be competing with private insurers at all. It was to be made available only to the 5% of Americans who didn’t already have insurance through a for-profit insurance company. So, his statements here were just a blatant lie. Obama was employing the standard con-man salesman’s bait-and-switch routine; he had baited the public with a real public option — which all polls showed that they supported — and was now switching that for something very different and far more limited, as constituting the goods he was hoping actually to deliver to them.
This made Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid furious. They were especially furious that Obama selected the very conservative Max Baucus, in the Senate, as being the person who would draft his plan. It was written by Baucus’s aide Liz Fowler – on leave as VP of the largest private insurer, Wellpoint – and with advice from Obama’s aide Nancy-Ann DeParle. Once Pelosi got so furious in a phone call with Obama that she threatened to kill it unless he improved it.
Then, there was Obama’s dishonesty about “the individual mandate” in his health insurance plan. His plan during the campaign explicitly excluded the individual mandate – exluded any requirement for individuals to purchase insurance. He even attacked Hillary Clonton’s plan for its including an individual mandate. On 23 February 2008, she stood before microphones and cameras, and harangued in angry tones, “Shame on you, Barack Obama!” alleging that two of his campaign’s flyers lied about her positions.
One of Obama’s two flyers said that her health insurance plan’s including an individual mandate meant that individuals who couldn’t afford to buy health insurance, under her plan, would be legally forced to do so. This flyer’s exact words were: “Hillary’s health care plan forces everyone to buy insurance, even if you can’t afford it. ... and you pay a penalty if you don’t.” That allegation was true. Hillary herself had once admitted that the force she’d use might be to garnish the wages of anyone who fails to purchase health insurance, but she always evaded answering exactly how her “legal mandate” (or legal requirement) would be enforced. Clearly, the liar, regarding that flyer, was Hillary, not Obama. However, once Obama became elected as President, he immediately inserted into his plan the very same individual mandate that he had condemned while campaigning.
Obama’s Other Lies During the 2008 Contest
On 19 February 2009, Jake Tapper of ABC News, headlined at his “Political Punch” blog, “Language You Likely Won’t Hear Today from President Obama,” and he took Obama to task for continuing NAFTA unchanged despite Obama’s campaign promises to at least try to renegotiate it in order to introduce protections for workers and for the environment. Obama made fun of reporters who tried to bring up his campaign lies. Some of the reader-comments posted there were stung by Obama’s ridicule of reporters who respected the truth and who expected the President to, also. For example: “Some campaign slips or changes of mind are forgivable. Obama’s entire campaign was based on lies. His first month is a list of broken promises to the American people.” Unfortunately, the deceptions by Obama were clearly demonstrated in the immediate wake of his November 2008 campaign victory, when, on 8 November 2008, Stephen Labaton in The New York Times headlined “The New Team: Timothy F. Geithner,” and he reported that “Mr. Obama nominated Mr. Geithner to be Treasury secretary.” Geithner, as the chief of the New York Fed, had proven himself to be a fierce fighter to protect the wealth of the aristocracy and to transfer their gambling losses onto U.S. taxpayers. This was a criminal nomination, which proved the new President to be a traitor, like Bush. It was compounded on 1 December 2008, when PBS bannered “Obama Nominates Eric Holder as Nation’s Top Law Enforcement Official.” Even before Obama stepped into the White House, the fix was in for protecting aristocratic criminals, both as regards their wealth and as regards their immunity from prosecution.
Obama’s Protection of Republicans
This new Democratic President’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, did everything he could to protect Bush Administration officials from investigation, and to block their prosecution. However, he was vigorous beyond justice, in prosecuting Democrats. The AP headlined on 9 April 2009 “AG Eric Holder: Siegelman Case Not Under Review,” and reported, concerning Holder’s recent decision throwing out the Justice Department’s prosecution case against Alaska’s former Republican U.S. Senator Ted Stevens. “Asked whether he was taking another look at the other public corruption prosecutions, such as the conviction of former [Democratic] Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman or cases against others, ... Holder said he didn’t have any reviews under way.” This was despite Siegelman’s pleas for a Justice Department review of his case, and despite 52 former state attorneys general signing a letter in 2008 urging a Justice Department review of that case. (The entire case had been rigged by Karl Rove and Bush’s U.S. Attorney in Alabama, Leura Canary. Barack Obama chose to retain Canary.) By now, 75 former U.S. Attorneys had signed it. Holder still ignored it. Soon after, this petition had 91 signatures. Holder still ignored it. In fact, on 12 May 2009, the AP headlined “Prosecutors Ask for Longer Sentence for Siegelman,” and reported that, “federal prosecutors [working for Leura Canary] want former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman to serve a much longer sentence. ... The prosecutors have sent a letter to federal probation officers recommending that Siegelman be sentenced to 20 years. ... Siegelman was originally sentenced to more than seven years in prison.” These prosecutors were holdovers from the Bush “Justice” Department, who were retained by Obama. They all should have been immediately fired and gone.
Obama’s Subservience to Wall Street
Though Obama opposed prosecutions of Bush, or of Cheney, or of any of the banksters, he did favor prosecution of Siegelman. And although Obama persecuted Don Siegelman, Obama protected Bushies, and protected banksters. On 3 April 2009, Politico bannered, “Inside Obama’s Bank CEOs Meeting.” Eamon Javers reported Obama telling Wall Street CEO’s, inside the White House, “My administration ... is the only thing between you and the pitchforks.” Obama’s remark was implicitly analogizing here: he implied he was protecting them not from prosecutions for crimes (which he actually was), but instead from angry mobs outside, who were driven by irrational hatred (like lynch mobs were in the Old South). Obama was metaphorically siding here with the plantation owners, not the slaves; with the KKK, not their victims. He was going to protect banksters from the public (i.e., from the very people who had been looted by banksters, and by Bush, and now also by Obama). He wasn’t going to protect the public – which he here analogized to a hate-obsessed mob. His attitude was despicable, above all for the leader of his country. But it turned out to be who – and what – he really was.
Obama also appointed some conservatives to key positions in his Administration. For example, Gary Gensler was a former Goldman Sachs and Citigroup cheerleader for not regulating derivatives trading, and protégé of the conservative economist Lawrence Summers; and on 25 March 2009, Robert Sheer headlined in the Nation, “Obama’s Toxic Advisers,” and condemned Obama’s appointment of Gensler to run the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, whose job was regulating derivatives trading. Sheer wrote: “Gensler helped create this financial crisis when he was in the Treasury Department back in the Clinton era.” Scheer quoted Vermont’s progressive U.S. Senator Bernard Sanders’s statement against this nomination: “Mr. Gensler worked with Senator Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan to exempt credit default swaps from regulation, which led to the collapse of AIG.” In other words, Obama was whoring to Wall Street insiders, right from the get-go. This didn’t win him Wall Street’s support, however: they knew that Obama not only was weak, but was classically weak — someone who never retaliated. The aristocracy would have gained nothing by supporting Obama against the Republican Party. Not only was the Republican Party their own political organization, but Barack Obama was terminally weak, because he had no guiding moral principles, no ethical system to which he adhered. Pushing him around might even be fun for them.
Obama’s man at the U.S. Treasury, Tim Geithner, was unalterably opposed to any type of accountability against the banksters who had run their firms into the ground and whom he and Bush and now Obama let off not just scott-free but enormously wealthy. On 18 March 2009, Politico headlined “AIG Rage — the Fallout,” and former Mckinsey consultant Yves Smith noted that, “As for the bonuses [which AIG execs gave themselves, which Obama and Geithner said the government could do nothing about], the idea [from Geithner and Obama] that they [the bonuses] couldn’t be clawed back is a canard. Treasury should have filed lawsuits against the senior executives in charge at the time of the bailout ... for accounting fraud, or at least made clear it was prepared to file charges.” All AIG bonuses could have been retrieved by the Government, which now owned AIG. Robert Reich noted: “American taxpayers have so far committed $170 billion to the giant insurer, ... the most money ever funneled to a single company by a government since the dawn of capitalism,” yet those executives “are planning to give themselves over $100 million in bonuses.” Obama behaved as if he were in the banksters’ pockets. This was not “Change You Can Believe In,” to recall Obama’s campaign promise. It was “more of the same,” and such things destroyed the new President’s credibility.
The Washington Post had been gung-ho for invading Iraq, but remained considered to be a “liberal” newspaper, and it used the standard devices that “liberal” purveyors of “news” employ to push the public dialogue to the Right. On 13 March 2009, Carrie Johnson headlined there “How Obama Will Handle U.S. Attorney Posts Still Unclear,” and Ms. Johnson took the Republican spin against the incoming President Clinton in 1993, and threw it against Obama now in 2009: “When President Bill Clinton took office, he fired all U.S. attorneys at once, provoking intense criticism in the conservative legal community,” even though that was normal practice for an incoming President. “Advisers to Obama say they have learned from past mistakes, including Clinton’s decision to require all U.S. attorneys to submit their resignations.” The argument given there against doing that (firing them all) was that doing it was “partisan” and would interrupt ongoing cases. However, the normal procedure had always been that U.S. Attorneys, all of whom are political appointees, submit their resignations to the new President, but continue to serve until replacements are confirmed by the Senate. Moreover, the U.S. Attorneys scandal, under Bush and Gonzales, had produced a hyper-conservative and hyper-Republican group of incumbent U.S. Attorneys. Furthermore, Monica Goodling’s having ideologically screened applicants for career positions at Bush’s Justice Department meant that even some of the career personnel there had gotten their jobs via illegal means. Thus, if ever there were a new President who should have swept the deck clean of all of them, it was Obama, right now. The U.S. Attorneys should have all been fired, as the normal practice had been, and investigations should have commenced promptly into illegally hired career personnel. The Washington Post was, therefore, essentially providing a megaphone to the Republican Party’s calls for Obama to avoid being “partisan,” and was hoping that he’d be dumb (or else conservative) enough to fall for this “bipartisanship” bait. However, actually, the only way that Obama could possibly have had a successful Presidency would have been for him to promptly prosecute all of the Bush-Administration crimes, and to hold all culpable Bush Administration officials to the strictest standards of accountability, and to prosecute also all of the Wall Street and other executives who had grown super-rich by defrauding investors and by causing the entire world’s economy to nosedive. This was the only time to do it; if Obama had learned anything from his few failures along the campaign trail, the message would have been: Present things to the public in a clear, either-or, moral framework, which displays whom the victims were, and which holds the perpetrators fully to account to those victims for those crimes. Only by means of Obama’s exploiting the current rage against Republican crimes could Obama have started his Presidency on a path toward success, and thus not fulfilled Limbaugh’s famous January 2009 call, “I hope he fails.” Even a few months of delay in this would inevitably mean permanent reduction in Obama’s ability to bring about progressive change (if he had any serious intention of that). If he were to wait years to start demonizing the Republican opposition, he would be a fool, and his Presidency would fail. Worse: It would blur the moral lines, and the public would increasingly see Obama as willingly supporting Bush’s crimes and as inheriting the responsibility for them.
And Obama dealt the same leniency to the banksters. For example, on 26 August 2010, Jesse Eisinger and Jake Bernstein of ProPublica.org issued the first of a series of investigative news reports about the self-dealing amongst Wall Street institutions, self-dealing that the top executives there needed in order for them to be able to “earn” their enormous pay. Headlining “Banks’ Self-Dealing Super-Charged Financial Crisis,” this report said that, “Over the last two years of the housing bubble, Wall Street bankers perpetrated one of the greatest episodes of self-dealing in financial history. Faced with increasing difficulty in selling the mortgage-backed securities that had been among their most lucrative products, the banks [executives] hit on a solution that preserved [for their stockholders] their quarterly earnings and [for themselves] huge bonuses: They created fake demand ... bought their own products. ... By 2006 [this] became a common industry practice.” An outstanding example was published by Eisinger and Bernstein on 22 December 2010, headlining “The ‘Subsidy’: How a Handful of Merrill Lynch Bankers Helped Blow Up Their Own Firm”: “Two years before the financial crisis hit, Merrill Lynch confronted a serious problem. No one, not even the bank’s own traders, wanted to buy the supposedly safe portions of the mortgage-backed securities Merrill was selling. Bank executives came up with a fix that had short-term benefits [for those executives] and long-term consequences [for the firm’s stockholders]: They formed a new group within Merrill, which took on the bank’s money-losing securities. But how to get the group to accept deals that were otherwise unprofitable? They paid them.” Then, near the end of Obama’s term, ProPublica headlined from Eisinger and Bernstein, on 20 October 2011, “Did Citi Get a Sweet Deal [from Obama]? Bank Claims SEC Settlement on the CDO Clears It on All Others,” and they reported that Obama’s team prosecuted only “one low-level employee, Brian Stoker, as responsible for the bank’s misconduct,” and that the investors who were suing Citigroup were outraged that “the SEC apparently limited its case to a single CDO,” which “represents extreme caution, at best – and a failure to grapple with the magnitude and harmfulness of the misconduct, at worst,” according to the cheated investors. But this situation was even worse than that: Obama was letting off the hook all of the top Wall Street executives, and letting them keep all their enormous loot, which had been robbed from their own firm’s stockholders and bondholders, and especially from the bondholders in the fraudulently packaged and marketed mortgage-backed securities.
Obama’s Subservience to Big Oil
Obama was also turning out to be conservative on the most important public-policy issue in the entire history of the human species: control of global warming. On 1 September 2009, the Washington Post bannered “U.N. Climate Talks End in Cloud of Discord: Industrialized, Developoing Nations Still at Odds Over How and When to Cut Emissions.” The deal that wealthy nations were offering to other nations was that if they didn’t want to be cooked like the entire planet would be cooked, they’d have to share the burden of cleaning up this problem which the already-industrialized nations had caused. This was a deal which would have been politically suicidal for any government in an underdeveloped nation to accept, and it would also have been a demeaning deal for them to accept – so, they didn’t accept it. On September 21st, The New York Times bannered “Europeans Say U.S. Lacks Will on Climate,” and reported that in this crucial period before the international climate-change conference later that year in Copenhagen, the U.S. was still the world’s chief laggard and barrier to agreement, because there was “lack of political will on the part of the United States to adequately address climate change. The American reluctance to accept any agreement that would require legally binding and internationally enforceable targets for reductions in greenhouse gas emissions could doom the Copenhagen session, they said.” The U.S., under Obama just the same as under George W. Bush, was pressing for underdeveloped nations to foreswear off coal and oil at the same time as the U.S. and already-advanced nations, which had already become developed via those cheap means. Obama was thus, in effect, demanding that no agreement would be acceptable which didn’t lock underdeveloped nations into their relatively retarded economic condition, prohibiting them from exploiting the cheap-and-dirty takeoff path which the U.S. and other developed countries took. Not only was this attitude psychopathic, but it was extremely shortsighted economically for the United States, because it blocked the U.S. from one of its few remaining pathways to retaining its global economic dominance: the pathway whereby the U.S. would have surged to leadership in developing and marketing green technologies – the technologies which would, to a large extent, generate global economic dominance in the future. Furthermore, Obama was pressing that any agreement which would be reached would be “enforced by domestic — not international — law,” thus making any such agreement not worth the paper it would be printed on: any merely national enforcement would quickly become controlled by each nation’s local aristocracy and would therefore be nullified in all nations. Fortunately, however, there still existed very substantial support within the world’s aristocracies to do battle against the U.S. on this: the very same day, Reuters headlined from London “Global Businesses Demand Ambitious New Climate Deal” and reported, “‘Developed countries need to take on immediate and deep emission reduction commitments that are much higher than the global average,’ the statement,” from “a coalition of more than 500 international companies” said. The United States was an extraordinarily conservative economically advanced nation, and was thus ideologically isolated among its economically advanced peers. The U.S., being an especially corrupt and especially faithful country, was dragging down the entire industrialized world, and was thereby threatening the biosphere of all nations, by blocking urgently needed global actions against climate change. On 2 November 2009, Britain’s Guardian bannered “Climate Negotiators Grow Impatient at Lack of Leadership From America: UN and EU Pile Pressure on US to Set Ambitious Carbon Cuts.” Obama was shocking foreigners, who had been expecting him to be radically different from George W. Bush, not only in his rhetoric but in his policies.
On 20 November 2009, The New York Times bannered “Nations Unveil Plans to Rein In Emissions,” and reported that Yvo de Boer, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (which was the Copenhagen meeting’s sponsor) said, “We now have offers of targets from all industrialized countries except the United States.”
On 2 September 2011, Jon Walker of firedoglake.com bannered “Obama Shelves EPA’s Ozone Restrictions,” and he reported that Obama had overridden his EPA chief Lisa Jackson and had announced, “I have requested that Administrator Jackson withdraw the draft Ozone National Ambient Air Quality Standards at this time,” so as “to underscore the importance of reducing regulatory burdens, ... particularly as our economy continues to recover.” Walker noted that, “The big winners are corporations that pollute. The big losers are individuals with respiratory problems. ... Research has found that people who live in areas with high levels of ozone, mainly big cities, are significantly more likely to die of lung cancer.” Walker also noted that another “winner from Obama’s decision is the Republican economic framing.” By Obama’s accepting, in advance, the phony Republican allegation that the Federal Government was over-regulating corporations and was thereby causing the bad economy, Obama had moved the national political discourse even farther to the Right, and was doing this immediately before the 2012 Presidential and congressional contests.
Reuters headlined, “Obama Backtracks on Smog Plan, Bows to Big Business.”
The AP bannered “Obama Halts Controversial EPA Regulation,” and reported that “Obama overruled the Environmental Protection Agency – and the unanimous opinion of its independent panel of scientific advisers,” and noted that, “the groundlevel ozone standard is most closely associated with public health – something the president said he wouldn’t compromise in his regulatory review.” Moreover, Obama’s action actually was leaving in place a George W. Bush ozone standard that President Bush himself had said he was willing to strengthen, though not as much as courts might demand.
Obama was reversing his campaign promise and refusing to improve the standard at all. He now would now have to fight in the courts to keep air pollution high in America.
Politico bannered “Obama Blindsides Enviros – and His Own EPA,” and reported that he had humiliated his own EPA and virtually all environmentalists. The reader-comments posted there were contemptuous of Obama, and many said that only if he dismantled the EPA itself could he merit any respect. Conservatives refused to accept Obama.
Abcnews.go.com/blogs headlined for this 2 September 2011 news story, “Obama Withdraws Environmental Rules, Citing Business Burden,” and the reader-comments that were posted there, as was usually the case with ABC News, were extremely conservative, such as “It’s a brilliant move on Obama’s part,” and “This is admitting that his policies are failing.”
There was no respect for Obama. He was now 100% endorsing the reasoning that George W. Bush, the oil and coal companies, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had always presented: the idea that regulations to improve automobile fuel economy or otherwise to improve the environment are a drag on – instead of a boost to – the economy. Obama was leaving environmental technological advancements to other nations’ economies to advance, and to innovate. America, under an Obama Presidency, would be committed instead to pushing forward with outdated, old, dirty, technologies, which even China was committed to replacing as fast as possible. All of Obama’s environmental promises were now exposed as having been made without any authentic concern on his part for either the environment or the economy, but only for satisfying companies such as BP (which he had let run the Deepwater Horizon cleanup operation, poisoning the workers). Perhaps he hoped that, if Wall Street wouldn’t provide big money for his re-election, at least people such as the Koch brothers might. But could Obama have been really that stupid? Or was he the Manchurian candidate instead, coming forth now and exposing his real nature?
Only the latter explanation seemed consistent with all of the evidence. Obama wasn’t stupid; he had always been a committed secret agent for the aristocracy. He was willing to serve it even if they were to prove ungrateful toward him. He worshipped the powerful, regardless of whether they respected him at all.
Obama’s curt official announcement of his decision provided no documentation to counter the EPA and its (unanimous panel of) scientists; he just ignored them. The New York Times bannered, regarding this 2 September 2011 news story, “Obama Administration Abandons Stricter Air-Quality Rules,” and reported that, “Lisa P. Jackson, the E.P.A. administrator, has pushed hard for a tougher ozone standard, telling associates that it was one of the most important regulatory initiatives she would handle during her tenure.” However, Obama didn’t even inform her of his intention to zap all of her work, and all of the scientific panel’s work, until he announced this decision publicly, and just zapped it, directly contrary to all of his campaign rhetoric. He waited until the very last moment to do this, perhaps having hoped that, somehow, the Business Roundtable and other opponents of a strengthened rule would prevail without his involvement. “Leaders of major business groups – including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Petroleum Institute and the Business Roundtable – met with Ms. Jackson and with top White House officials this summer seeking to moderate, delay or kill the rule. They told William M. Daley, the White House chief of staff, that the rule would be very costly to industry and would hurt Mr. Obama’s chances for a second term.” In other words: these men were threatening Obama that they’d flood the Republican Party with cash if he did what even George W. Bush had said he might possibly be willing to do: strengthen the rule just a little bit. So: Obama didn’t strengthen the rule, at all.
Obama’s relationship with Lisa Jackson, and with all Americans who cared about the air they breathed, would now be openly hostile, excepting only his rhetoric, which continued unchanged.
Ezra Klein, at the blog of the Washington Post, was on vacation, but Brad Plumer filled in for him there, and headlined “Did the White House Double-Cross Its Supporters on the Smog Rule?” and Plumer documented that “it” had. (Under the standard rule here, blaming the top person – the President himself – wasn’t permitted; so, “it” had done the double-crossing.)
Apparently, Obama’s expectation was that there was enough faith among his followers, so that they’d be vulnerable to his lies and campaign commercials, and simply turn out for him on Election Day, regardless of his actual actions, as if rhetoric were all that mattered. But he had to know that he would lose at least a few voters on account of this obvious cave-in. He evidently held a higher priority than their continued support; the only question that remained now was: What was that higher priority, really? Like a typical undercover agent, he remained cool, and didn’t really disclose himself, except in his actions.
His words no longer added up, at all, to anyone outside his faithful followers, who simply and unquestioningly believed in him.
Obama ignored what had been known since at least 2003 on this ozone matter – that is, since even George W. Bush’s first term. So, we’ll repeat that here: Eight years earlier, on 27 September 2003, the Washington Post had bannered “Study Finds Net Gain From Pollution Rules: OMB Overturns Past Findings on Benefits.” Eric Pianin reported: “A new White House study concludes that environmental regulations are well worth the costs they impose on industry and consumers, resulting in significant public health improvements and other benefits to society. ... OMB now says it had erred last year by vastly understating the benefits of EPA’s rules establishing national ambient air quality standards for ozone and for particulate matter – a major factor in upper respiratory, heart and lung disorders.” The study found that the economic benefits from the environmental regulations were actually from 500% to 700% the size of the economic costs of those regulations. George W. Bush ignored this study; he ignored his own Office of Management and Budget, but this is what they found. And now, Barack Obama also ignored it. And Obama was supposed to be a Democrat. Bush was more honest: He admitted that he was a conservative! He admitted that he was a Republican!
Obama’s Subservience to BP as an Example
On 20 April 2010, occurred the explosion (and two days later, the collapse) of BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig in the Gulf, the deepest oil well in history (the wellhead being a mile under water, standing atop a drill-hole going down yet another 7 miles to the top of the oil basin), which resulted in the worst environmental catastrophe in history (other than global warming itself), an enormous uncontrolled oil gusher a mile down in the Gulf of Mexico. Ten days later, Daniel Starling in the Kansas City Tribune, headlined “President Obama’s Energy Policy Spells ‘Disaster’,” and he documented Obama’s corruption on energy policy. On April 30th, Mobile Alabama’s Press-Register headlined “Leaked Report: Government Fears Deepwater Horizon Well Could Become Unchecked Gusher,” and Ben Raines reported: “‘The following is not public’ [the] document states — A confidential government report on the unfolding spill disaster in the Gulf makes clear the Coast Guard now fears the well could become an unchecked gusher shooting millions of gallons of oil per day into the Gulf. ... The White House, NOAA, the Coast Guard and BP PLC did not immediately return calls for comment made early this morning.” On 1 May 2010, the Los Angeles Times bannered “Tiny Group Has Big Impact on Spill Estimates: Sky Truth, with one paid staffer and a one-room office, has caused officials to backtrack and revise what they say about the size of the gulf disaster.” Julie Cart reported that this tiny nonprofit analyzed satellite photos and made mincemeat of the gross underestimation from BP and from the Obama Administration on the amount of oil which had already spilled from this gusher at the bottom of the Gulf. Four days later, Juliet Eilperin in the Washington Post, headlined “U.S. Exempted BP’s Gulf of Mexico Drilling from Environmental Impact Study,” and she reported that the Obama Administration on 6 April 2009 had granted BP an exemption from environmental concerns to drill the Deepwater Horizon well. Two days after Eilperin’s report, McClatchy Newspapers bannered, on May 7th, “Since Spill, Feds Have Given 27 Waivers to Oil Companies in the Gulf,” and Marisa Taylor reported that, “Since the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig exploded on April 20, the Obama administration has granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of [proposed] oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.” On May 13th, The New York Times bannered “Size of Oil Spill Underestimated, Scientists Say,” and Justin Gillis reported that scientists were saying BP and the Obama Administration were using the wrong technique to estimate the volume of oil which was gushing, and were being blocked by the Obama Administration from using the correct technique. Five days later, Karl Burkhart at Mother Nature Network bannered “Coast Guard and BP Threaten Journalists With Arrest for Documenting Oil Spill,” and he reluctantly concluded that, “The Obama administration, it appears, has higher priorities ... namely helping BP in its frantic efforts to keep the public in the dark about what is almost surely the worst environmental catastrophe in U.S. history.” Then, on May 19th, Randy Rieland at grist.org headlined “Big Oil’s Friends on Capitol Hill Block Spill Liability Increase,” and he reported that Senate Republicans were fighting to retain the existing $75 million cap on an oil company’s liability when a blowout occurs, while some Senate Democrats were trying to raise that cap to $10 billion of liability, and while the Democratic leader of the Senate (Harry Reid) “said the cap should be eliminated altogether.” Meanwhile, conflicting statements were coming out of the Obama Administration on the issue of this liability cap. Republicans — and maybe also Obama — wanted U.S. taxpayers to bail out oil companies, whenever those firms have accidents like the present one, which cost tens of billions of dollars. Only one thing was clear about Obama’s energy policy: By his not immediately joining and leading the charge (from Harry Reid and others) to eliminate those liability-caps, he proved that he wanted to continue the enormous subisidization of carbon fuels by U.S. taxpayers; he proved that controlling global warming was definitely not his highest priority. On May 20th, McClatchy Newspapers bannered “Low Estimate of Oil Spill’s Size Could Save BP Billions in Court,” and reported that underestimating the daily volume of oil gushing from the spill would reduce the damages BP would ultimately be legally obligated to pay for the spill. However, the propaganda coming out of the Administration and BP offered a different explanation for this: “BP and the Obama administration have said they don’t want to take the measurements for fear of interfering with efforts to stop the leaks.” Also on the 20th, The New York Times headlined “Scientists Fault Lack of Studies Over Gulf Oil Spill,” and Justin Gillis reported that, “Tensions between the Obama administration and the scientific community over the Gulf oil spill are escalating, with prominent oceanographers accusing the government of failing to conduct an adequate scientific analysis of the damage and of allowing BP to obscure the spill’s true scope.” The next day, in the same newspaper, Ian Urbina bannered “Conflict of Interest Worries Raised in Spill Tests,” and he reported that the Obama Administration was ordering that volunteers who were collecting animal carcasses from the spill area must send them to a certain lab which BP had selected, and that another lab, which the Administration was itself using to test water from the spill area, “is part of an oil and gas services company in Texas that counts oil firms, including BP, among its biggest clients.” A Florida official who was leery of sending Florida’s samples to such labs said “Everywhere you look, if you look, you start seeing these conflicts of interest in how this disaster is getting handled.” Everything that Obama was doing — though nothing that he was saying — was consistent with his objective here being to reduce BP’s liability, and consequently to leave the victims to bear as much of the cost as possible, uncompensated by anyone other than America’s taxpayers. Finally, on 10 June 2010, a scientific panel, which the Administration had created (under pressure) to estimate the size of this gusher, said that it was between 25,000 to 30,000 barrels — over a million gallons — daily. Initially, the Administration had estimated it was 1,000 barrels daily, then 5,000, then 15,000. But this wasn’t really “finally,” after all. Just five days later, Sam Stein of huffingtonpost bannered “Oil Spill [Gusher] Estimate Increased to 35K-60K Barrels A Day,” and reported that “a group of government and independent scientists” came up with this “improved estimate of how much oil is flowing,” essentially doubling the immediately-prior official estimate.
Obama was also pushing BP’s approach to hiding its seeped oil, though scientists pointed out that the oil dispersants which BP was using for this were only going to make the long-term damages from the spill even worse. On 19 May 2010, the University of California at Berkeley headlined “Ecologist Urges Caution in Gulf Coast Cleanup,” and reported that the head of Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Ecology Department, Terry Hazen, was extremely opposed to the use of these dispersants. “Hazen has more than 30 years experience studying the effects of oil spills. He says the oil will be damaging enough; toxic dispersants will just make it worse. He points to the 1978 Amoco Cadiz Spill off the coast of Normandy as an example. He says areas where dispersants were used still have not fully recovered, while areas where there was no human intervention are now fine.” The Obama Administration ignored such advice.
Rolling Stone issued online on 8 June 2010, and June 24th in the printed edition, Tim Dickenson’s scathing and very long exposé about “The Spill, The Scandal and the President: The inside story of how Obama failed to crack down on the corruption of the Bush years.” Dickenson made clear that though the rhetoric from President Obama and his Interior Secretary Ken Salazar was reformist, they lied and were doing everything they possibly could to permit Bush’s policies and personnel to continue essentially as before on energy policy and at the Minerals Management Service. “‘Employees describe being in Interior — not just MMS, but the other agencies — as the third Bush term,’ says Jeff Ruch, executive director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which represents federal whistle-blowers. ‘They’re working for the same managers who are implementing the same policies.’” Furthermore, “Salazar did not even ensure that MMS had a written manual — required under Interior’s own rules — for complying with environmental laws.” Moreover, “BP is the last oil company on Earth that Salazar and MMS should have allowed to regulate itself. The firm is implicated in each of the worst oil disasters in American history,” and had “the worst safety record of any oil company,” including Exxon — the company that finally had to take over the oil consortium’s BP-led cleanup of Exxon’s Valdez disaster after BP’s incompetence as the project-manager became obvious to everyone. “Most troubling of all, the government has allowed BP to continue deep-sea production at its Atlantis rig — one of the world’s largest oil platforms, ... in waters nearly 2,000 feet deeper than BP drilled at Deepwater Horizon. According to congressional documents, the platform lacks required engineering certification for as much as 90 percent of its subsea components — a flaw that internal BP documents reveal could lead to ‘catastrophic’ errors.” And yet, still, Obama was muzzling government employees who were struggling to warn the public about the lawbreaking they observed. For example, “Scientists were stunned that NOAA, an agency widely respected for its scientific integrity, appeared to have been co-opted by the White House spin machine. ‘NOAA has actively pushed back on every fact that has ever come out,’ says one ocean scientist who works with the agency. ‘They [the White House]’re denying until the facts are so overwhelming, they finally come out and issue an admittance.’” But, “Others are furious at the agency [NOAA] for criticizing the work of scientists studying the oil plumes rather than leading them’ [said ‘a former government marine biologist’]. NOAA and other federal agencies were under muzzle. “Only six weeks into the disaster did [NOAA] finally deploy its own research vessel to investigate the plumes,” whose existence BP was denying for as long as they could get away with doing so. Obama was determined to ignore the plumes. His EPA chief Carol Browner announced that three quarters of the oil in the Gulf was somehow “gone.” Rick Outzen at The Daily Beast then headlined on 17 August 2010, “Exclusive: BP Oil Spill Coverup,” and he found that BP was simply ordering that no further reports would be issued about the plumes, nor even about any “tar balls.” In this regard, Obama was acting as if he were a BP employee, if not a BP stockholder; he wasn’t acting as he was: the U.S. President.
On 2 September 2010, environmentalist Jerry Cope at huffingtonpost, headlined “No Safe Harbor on Gulf Coast; Human Blood Tests Show Dangerous Levels of Toxic Exposure,” and he reported that, “Within two days after arriving in the region in mid-July, everyone on our team began getting sick. After our first day out on the water with Captain Lori of Dolphin Queen Cruises touring the lagoons around Orange Beach, Alabama, we all had extreme headaches. ... That evening, I developed a gagging, coughing reflex that was so intense and persistent it was impossible to speak to my daughter on the phone. ... Over the next several weeks these symptoms continued to worsen until I developed chemically-induced pneumonitis.” He noted that, “The use of the Corexit dispersant 9500 and the highly toxic 9527 by BP, with the approval and assistance of the US Coast Guard and EPA, has been the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism. Never before has such a huge quantity of the toxic compound been used anywwhere on the planet. Most countries including NATO allies ban its use.” He interviewed one of the nation’s leading experts on it, who said “The annals of environmental diseases are strewn with stories about physicians who have had their careers ruined” by trying to study these sorts of cases,” and who advised that only if the Federal Government would provide researchers with protection would there likely be substantial research on this in the U.S. “I don’t think even the oil companies that work down there would try and bump off a guy who works with the public health service.” All of this dispersant-use was being done in order to hide the visual effects from the spill, and long-term poisoning of people and of animals was evidently less important, both to BP and to Barack Obama.
On 23 May 2010, Ian Urbina bannered in The New York Times, “Despite Obama’s Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead,” and he reported that, “In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for new drilling and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records.” Furthermore, “At least six of the drilling projects that have been given waivers in the past four weeks are for waters that are deeper — and therefore more difficult and dangerous — than where Deepwater Horizon was operating.” Eight days later, on May 31st, the NYT’s John M. Broder and Michael Luo headlined a “News Analysis”: “Reforms Slow to Arrive at Drilling Agency,” and they reported that President Obama, on April 2nd, had instructed the Interior Department, concerning drilling policy, “It turns out, by the way, ... that oil rigs today generally don’t cause spills. They are technologically very advanced.” Obama ignored the fact that the corruption at the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service might have caused such technological questions to be really beside the point, just irrelevant. Rooting out this corruption hadn’t been a priority with Mr. Obama until after the Deepwater Horizon blowout, well into his Presidency. He was oblivious to what really mattered. Subsequently, on June 11th, McClatchy Newspapers did an extensive investigation, titled “Obama Overlooked Key Points in Giving OK to Offshore Drilling,” and Steven Thomma portrayed a President who was totally top-down like Bush, who “never reached out himself to prominent dissenters” from the views he received from his inner circle, and who, now in retrospect, cast all blame downward and ignored the lessons he could have been learning about his own failures and about how to become a better President. Obama blamed the oil companies and the Minerals Management Service — but not also and especially himself, for his not having made the necessary inquiries about them ahead of time, and for his having similarly in the past made the very same errors with regard to health policy, Afghanistan, financial services, and other issues. Obama was simply an incurious, faith-drenched, and arrogant man — like Bush. (Only his rhetoric was not.) The very same day, Mr. Thomma also bannered “Engineers Say Interior Changed Oil Report After They Signed It.” Like in the Bush Administration, scientists and other commentators hired by the Obama Administration could not trust that their advice and opinions would be seriously considered, or even honestly represented to the American people. An Interior Department spokesperson was quoted here as saying, “We acknowledge that they were not asked to review or comment on the proposed moratorium,” but only “on a technical basis” — meaning, perhaps, pro-forma. The engineers were disturbed to find their signatures “falsely signaling their support for a drilling moratorium that they thought went too far. ... ‘The reason we don’t agree is that we think it makes the system less safe. It increases risk, it doesn’t reduce risk,’ Texas oil consultant Ken Allen said in an interview. ... ‘We do not agree with the six-month blanket moratorium on floating drilling,’ they said. ... “When we start back up again, we’re going to have a much harder time getting [laid-off rig workers] back. We’ll have less experienced people on the rigs.’” Then, on June 18th, McClatchy’s Shashank Bengali bannered “Obama Officials Still Approving Flawed Gulf Drilling Plans,” and reported that, “Despite President Barack Obama’s promises of better safeguards for offshore drilling, federal regulators continue to approve plans for oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico with minimal or no environmental analysis.” Moreover, “Last week, Defenders of Wildlife and the Southern Environmental Law Center filed suit in federal court in Alabama challenging MMS’s approval of 198 new deepwater leases in the central Gulf since the BP spill began.” Obama’s duplicity was clear.
Afghanistan, Torture, etc.
Moreover, Obama’s “Justice” Department was supporting the G.W. Bush Administration’s policies on torture and secrecy, whenever those policies were being challenged in court by the victims. For example, on 23 July, The New York Times (as a Republican newspaper having no reason to deceive on this particular matter, since the issue here made Obama look bad) headlined “U.S. Judge Challenges Evidence on a Detainee,” and William Glaberson reported about a case where Bush had imprisoned at Guantanamo a certain Afghan boy on the basis of no actual evidence, but where Obama turned out to be no better than Bush. “Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle of Federal District Court, ... last week criticized the government’s case against the detainee as ‘an outrage,’” but Obama’s “Justice” Department was still continuing to support the detainee’s continuing imprisonment. “Judge Huvelle expressed fury at the government for ‘dragging this out for no good reason’ after ‘your case fell apart.’” Even the Army’s prosecutor against the boy acknowledged that, “The evidence suggests to me ... that he is not guilty.” But Obama always defended in court the actions by the Bush Administration. Another example of this was that, on 28 October 2009, the San Francisco Chronicle headlined “Court to Reconsider CIA Torture Flight Ruling,” and Bill Egelko reported that, when a three-judge panel had ruled to hear the case of five men who were suing on account of their having suffered, under Bush, “extraordinary rendition” and torture, the Obama Administration appealed the decision, and continued to defend in court what the Bush Administration had done. And two days later (which was on a Friday), the AP headlined “Obama Administration Seeks to Block Wiretap Suit,” and reported that, “The Justice Department invoked the state secrets privilege Friday to try to stop a lawsuit over Bush era wiretapping.”
Obama had run for the White House promising to escalate the war against Afghanistan’s Taliban and Al Qaeda, and this is a promise that he kept, even though Bush had already lost that war, by withdrawing troops from Afghanistan to fight in Iraq, and by abandoning the Afghan people to their corrupt aristocracy or “warlords.” Obama was now embarking on a policy to take upon himself the blame for Bush’s failure. The war in Afghanistan was well beyond the period when it still would have been salvageable. Furthermore, the U.S. was now backing a government which was able to win re-“election” only by massive ballot-box stuffing. For example, on 2 September 2009, Dexter Filkins in The New York Times headlined “Tribal Leaders Say Karzai’s Team Forged 23,900 Votes,” and reported that in one district, Shorobak: “The ballot boxes were taken to Shorobak’s district headquarters, where, Mr. Bariz [the district’s governor] and other tribal leaders said, local police officers stuffed them with thousands of ballots. At the end of the day, 23,900 ballots were shipped to Kabul, Mr. Bariz said, with every one marked for President Karzai. ‘Not a single person in Shorobak District cast a ballot — not a single person,’ Mr. Bariz said,” because Karzai’s brother “detained the governor of Shorobak [Mr. Bariz], and shut down all of the district’s 45 polling sites on election eve.” Of course, George W. Bush wouldn’t have had any concern about theft of an election, except that it shouldn’t have been done so crudely. But Obama? Obama continued his escalation in Afghanistan as if these troops’ constituting an alien invading Christian army in an impoverished Muslim country didn’t matter — not even if the only way to keep the puppet leader in power were at the butt of guns and tanks. Even if Obama possessed tact in dealing with Americans, all that he seemed to offer the citizens of a place like Afghanistan was boundless faith in raw power. That’s how he acted. The Taliban were a curse, but so were the occupiers — and the occupiers were aliens.
On 26 January 2010, Eric Schmitt headlined in The New York Times, “U.S. Envoy’s Cables Show Worries on Afghan Plans,” and he reported that, “The United States ambassador in Kabul warned his superiors here [in Washington] in November that President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan ‘is not an adequate strategic partner’ and ‘continues to shun responsibility for any sovereign burden,’ according to a classified cable that offers a much bleaker accounting of the risks of sending additional American troops to Afghanistan than was previously known. ... ‘Sending additional forces will delay the day when Afghans will take over, and make it difficult, if not impossible, to bring our people home on a reasonable timetable,’ he wrote Nov. 6. ‘An increased U.S. and foreign role in security and governance will increase Afghan dependence, at least in the short term.’” Eikenberry warned that Karzai “and much of his circle do not want the U.S. to leave and are only too happy to see us invest further.” President Obama ignored his envoy’s warnings and advice.
Obama continued to pursue his war in Afghanistan, despite its having degenerated, from this moment forward, into a military occupation propping up a corrupt Afghan aristocracy. Of course, the United States was also a kleptocracy, and perhaps Obama would never have become President if he were seen by America’s conservative aristocrats as being a threat to them; so, Obama was already compromised, at least at home. But if he were smart, he would have told Karzai that either he would accept a re-do of the “election,” run this time by Afghans overseen by the U.N. or by some other neutral international body, or else the U.S. would withdraw from Afghanistan and fight Al Qaeda in the same way it was fighting them in Pakistan, via drones. Obama didn’t do this; he was unintelligent. He had been informed; he couldn’t fail to have known that by staying unconditionally in Afghanistan he would become viewed by Afghans as a Christian occupier of millions of Muslims – as an alien military occupier. But despite this fact’s being obvious, he remained unconditionally in Afghanistan. This was yet another way in which he was a disastrous failure (if not worse) as the U.S. President.
Though Obama had come into office promising to close the Guantanamo Bay prison within a year (a promise he failed to keep), he continued Bush’s policies at the far larger Bagram prison in Afghanistan. On 29 November 2009, The New York Times bannered “Afghans Detail a Secret Prison Still Operating on a U.S. Base,” and Alissa J. Rubin reported that at Bagram, “the black jail consists of individual windowless concrete cells,” and, “Human rights officials said the existence of a jail where prisoners were denied contact with the Red Cross or their families contradicted the Obama administration’s drive to improve detention conditions.” In addition, Obama continued to send American troops into Afghanistan fighting and dying so as to prop up the extremely corrupt Hamid Karzai government, even after Afghan President Karzai blatantly rigged the “election” which kept him in power.
Honduras’s popular elected President Manuel Zelaya (popular especially among the poor) was removed in a fascist coup on 28 June 2009, and the Obama Administration weakly called for his reinstatment, but the whole world awaited some more definitive response from the United States, especially because no country recognized the new regime, and all countries condemned it. Then, on 6 August 2009, McClatchy newspapers bannered “U.S. Drops Call to Restore Ousted Honduran Leader,” and Tyler Bridges reported that Zelaya wouldn’t receive U.S. backing, after all, in his bid to be restored to the Presidency. Though every international organization had called the Honduran coup illegitimate, and refused to recognize the leader chosen by its junta, the Obama Administration finally came out for Honduras’s fascists. The chief lobbyist who had been hired in the U.S. by the Honduran aristocracy (who had actually installed this new Honduran government), was Hillary’s old friend and fundraiser, Lanny Davis. So, the Honduran aristocracy (largely the Faraj clan) had purchased a line straight to the U.S. Secretary of State, via Mr. Davis. On August 13th, Mark Weisbrot of the Center for Economic and Policy Research headlined a Sacramento Bee op-ed “Obama Tacitly Backs Military’s Takeover of Honduran Democracy” and he reported that the Administration’s recent “statements were widely publicized in the Honduran media and helped to bolster the dictatorship. Perhaps more ominously, the Obama administration has not said one word about the atrocities and human rights abuses perpetrated by the coup government. Political activists have been murdered, independent TV and radio stations have been shut down, journalists have been detained and intimidated, and hundreds of people arrested.” There was now, again as under Bush, widespread revulsion against the U.S. throughout Latin America. Also on the 13th, Dick Emanuelson, at the Americas Program of the Center for International Policy, headlined “Military Forces Sow Terror and Fear in Honduras,” and he described in Honduras a situation very much like that which had occurred in Argentina when the generals took over there in 1976 and rounded up and “disappeared” leaders that constituted a threat to the aristocracy’s continued rule. The U.S. was now the only power sustaining the Honduran junta’s illegitimate government.
Obama's Perversion of Justice
Andrew Krieg, of the Justice and Integrity Project, headlined on 2 November 2011, “Siegelman Nov. 2 Showdown Hurts Obama, Not Rove,” and he reported that former Democratic Alabama Governor Don Siegelman’s case was about to come to a head. The Obama Administration was baldly breaking federal laws by refusing to disclose to Siegelman’s defense team what the evidence was on the basis of which Siegelman was being prosecuted. “Also, the Obama Justice Department in June 2009 fired its top in-house paralegal for the Siegelman trial, Tamarah Grimes, after she complained to Bush and then Obama authorities about trial and office procedures, including [Rove friend] Leura Canary’s supervisory role” over the prosecution. Krieg went on: “Grimes is a Republican whom I interviewed extensively in 2009. ... Political strategists at the top of the Obama administration apparently have decided to let Republicans in several of the Deep South states do pretty much what they want in the criminal justice system in major political cases, according to Bill Barnes, Alabama’s most recent Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate. He believes Obama officials have written off his and other red states in his region, and hope to wheedle concessions from powerful Republican senators on matters elsewhere.” That was the most charitable interpretation possible of Obama’s motives in the case; this interpretation assumed that Obama wasn’t a Republican in disguise, a Manchurian candidate for the aristocracy. If Barnes’s interpretation were true, then Obama would need to have been a very stupid man, indeed. Obama won zero congressional support from Southern Republican Senators.
The Bottom Line for the Democratic Party
Obama has been so conspicuously bad, that the Washington Post/ABC News Poll on 2 November 2011 found that 61% of American voters wanted a third-party candidate to run in the 2012 Presidential race. If Democrats nominate Obama, then a Ralph Nader type of candidacy will be likely, but if an authentic Democrat represents the Party instead, then the Republicans won’t stand a chance, not even with all their Wall Street cash. We need a candidate who won’t be dragging around Obama’s ugly baggage, which Republicans hate because he calls himself a Democrat, and which independents despise because he’s so obviously a hypocrite who stands with the aristocracy against the public. Moreover, a real Democrat as our standard-bearer could fire up the Democratic Party, but the fake Democrat Obama won’t be able to do that. Too many people now know the reality about this man. The Democratic Party needs an authentically Democratic candidate.
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