In his post-presidency, Barack Obama has mostly tried to stay out of politics, spending a lot of time goofing off with billionaire friends, writing a book, creating TV shows, and collecting vast sums in buckraking speeches. But he has finally started to dip his toes back into the political waters, recently releasing endorsements for the 2018 election and cutting his first ad spot of the election cycle for the billionaire Illinois gubernatorial candidate J.B. Pritzker.
What's been most striking about this political re-entry is its profound worthlessness.
Exhibit A is the list of people he snubbed in his endorsements. He did not endorse Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in New York's 14th Congressional District, nor Democratic senators facing tough elections battles like Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), or Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.). Ben Jealous, the former head of the NAACP who is in a tight race for the Maryland governorship and whom Obama pointedly didn't endorse.
So why is Obama sticking his neck out for this guy, but not Jealous? One highly compelling explanation is that Pritzker's sister Penny (a billionaire in her own right) has been one of Obama's big money contacts since the beginning of his national career in 2004. "Her early involvement with Obama has been long credited with opening the door to an elite world of campaign financiers who then turned on the spigot, making him a financially viable candidate," writes Natasha Korecki in Politico. She was his national finance chair during his 2008 campaign, and he appointed her to be secretary of the Department of Commerce during his second term. Now she's on the board of directors of the Obama Foundation.
We see that in the pinch, Obama's wretched class politics swamps all other considerations. Pritzker, his family, and now Obama are all part of the logrolling wealthy liberal elite, trading donations, jobs, and favors back and forth both in government and out. The politics of someone like Jealous would radically disrupt this comfortable arrangement, attacking corrupt insider privileges and hiking taxes to create a more egalitarian society. Thus he cannot be in the well-upholstered centrist liberal clubhouse. If that means a Republican holds the Maryland governorship, by Obama's lights, so be it. thousands of mostly younger Americans had received enough of Obama’s “blunt lesson about power” to join the Occupy Wall Street Movement, which sought progressive change through direct action and social movement-building rather than corporate-captive electoral politics. (We will never know how far Occupy might have gone since it was shut down by a federally coordinated campaign of repression that joined the Obama administration and hundreds of mostly Democratic city governments in the infiltration, surveillance, smearing, takedown and eviction of the short lived movement.
Which brings us to Barack Obama’s ongoing campaign to win Congressional approval for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) – a classically neoliberal so-called free trade agreement that has been under secret construction by multinational corporate lawyers and corporatist government officials for at least a decade.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has once again aroused controversy, this time after he made comments about President Barack Obama at an event honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. that critics claimed disparaged the first African-American president and supporters insist was taken out of context. On Wednesday, during an event in Jackson, Mississippi honoring King's legacy on the 50th anniversary of his death, Sanders discussed the future of the Democratic Party with members of the audience.
"The business model, if you like, of the Democratic Party for the last 15 years or so has been a failure," Sanders told the audience, according to BuzzFeed. "People sometimes don't see that because there was a charismatic individual named Barack Obama, who won the presidency in 2008 and 2012." Sanders added, "He was obviously an extraordinary candidate, brilliant guy. But behind that reality, over the last 10 years, Democrats have lost about 1,000 seats in state legislatures all across this country."
At an earlier time in the history of the Republic, Obama’s arrogant defiance of Congress and the War Powers Act of 1973 might have provoked a constitutional crisis. But these are duller and more attenuated days, where such vital matters have been rendered down into a kind of hollow political theater. The wars will proceed. The Congress will fund them. The people will have no say in the matter.
While Obama sells pristine idealism to the masses, he is at heart a calculating pragmatist, especially when it comes to advancing his own ambitions. Obama doesn’t want to be stained with defeat. It’s one reason he has walked away from pushing for a Palestinian state, after his Middle East envoy George Mitchell resigned in frustration. It’s why Obama stubbornly refused to insist on a public option for his atrocious health care bill. It’s why he backed off cap-and-trade and organized labor’s card check bill and the DREAM Act.
The country was warping under the psychic weight of years of illegal wars, torture, official greed, religious prudishness, government surveillance, unsatisfying Viagra-supplemented sex, bland genetically engineered food, crappy jobs, dismal movies, and infantile, corporatized music–all scrolling by in an infinite montage of annoying Tweets. Even the virtual commons of cyberspace had gone solipsistic. Corporate capitalism just wasn’t delivering the goods anymore. Not for the bottom 80 percent, any way. The economy was in ruins, mired in what appeared to be a permanent recession.
Ever since Neocons de facto took over American foreign policy, after the collapse of the Soviet empire in 1991, rejecting the ‘Peace Dividend’ that many had expected, the cry in Washington D.C. has been to impose an America-centered New World Order by military means.
Successive administrations, both republican and democratic, have toed the line and dutifully pursued the same policy of world domination by launching a series of direct or covert wars of aggression around the world, in violation of international law. This explains why the United States has over 1,400 foreign military bases in over 120 countries, and why they are being expanded.
The election of Senator Barack Obama, in 2008, was expected to stop these destructive American military vendettas around the world, most of them under the initiative of the Executive, with little input from Congress, as stipulated in the U.S. Constitution. After all, in 2009, President Obama accepted the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize, which carried a stipend of about $1.4 million, for his promise of creating a “new climate” in international relations and of promoting nuclear disarmament. Instead, it can be said that “Two Full Terms of War” is the legacy of his two terms in office. Mr. Obama didn’t settle any war, and he initiated many more.
An Open Letter President Obama worked since his election in 2008 for several noteworthy causes: (1) the reinforcement and the greater enrichment of the billionaires and their multinational financial institutions on Wall Street; (2) the furtherance of President George W. Bush's effort to conquer, directly or indirectly, the vast petroleum reserves, the vast natural gas reserves, and the major water routes in and around north Africa and southwest Asia; (3) the protection and the empowerment of the racially bigoted and genocidal state of Israel; (4) the political enslavement and hence the cultural and economic genocide of the Palestinian people; (5) the enrichment of U.S. health insurers and U.S. pharmaceutical companies; and (6) the modernization of the racially bigoted status quo in the U.S. police state and its imperialist military regime.
Under President Obama, the United States, along with the United Kingdom, targeted Zimbabwe for regime change.
In like fashion, President Obama stood for other injustices against formerly colonized peoples. For example, under President Obama, the United States completed George Bush's conquest of Iraq and Afghanistan, while also furthering the U.S. military incursion into Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Syria.
President Obama organized an insidiously bigoted embargo against the economy of Iran, so as to crush its research and investments in nuclear energy. Meanwhile the United States protected Israel's nuclear armaments which posed a genocidal threat to Arab peoples in southwest Asia and to African and Arab peoples in north Africa.
President Obama imposed extraordinary political and economic pressure against the Venezuelan people's experiment with economic egalitarianism, against the Cuban people's experiment with a morally conscious socialism, against the Iranian people's experiment with revolutionary Shi'a nationalism, and against the Colombian people's rebellion against tyranny.
During Obama's presidency, the racially bigoted American police state murdered scores of unarmed black men, women, and children, with many of these atrocities recorded by video cameras for the world to see. In essence, white nationalism posits today a new form of legalized lynching.
During most of his first two years as president, Obama fought mightily for health care reform that enriched health care insurers and multinational pharmaceutical companies. During that period, he also "bailed out" billionaires and their agents on Wall Street.
During most of Obama's first two years in office, he enjoyed the benefit of a filibuster-proof majority in the U.S. Senate, while also enjoying the benefit of a legislative majority in the U.S. House of Representatives. With those majorities, Obama could have mobilized a substantial reform of federal sentencing and habeas corpus. That majority could also have legislated immigration reform, so as to protect immigrants from unjust deportation. In fact, with his congressional majority during his first two years in office, President Obama could have pushed effectively for legislative relief for historically black colleges and universities, so as to establish a long term program for the uplift of the black nation, both in the United States and abroad. But none of that took place.
Similarly, the Israeli Defense Force wreaked genocidal death and destruction in Gaza for at least a month leading up to Obama's first inauguration in January 2009. When the Israeli Defense Force decimated the population in Gaza, and when Oakland police murdered Oscar Grant, President Obama did nothing. Of course, I dare not ignore President Obama's disturbing refusal to ask the Georgia Board of Pardon and Parole to stay the execution of Troy Anthony Davis.
Meanwhile, the mass incarceration of America's black and poor constitutes a modern-day form of slavery. Yet, in the midst of this seeming apocalypse, President Obama encourages our withdrawal from the following struggles: the fight for human rights, the fight for true egalitarianism, and the righteous struggle for revolutionary change. Instead, he espouses, like Rush Limbaugh, an allegiance to "American exceptionalism." He does this not simply as the U.S. president. In other words, he promotes American exceptionalism while cowardly refusing to push for genuine legislative reform that would right the wrongs listed in this statement.
Beneath progressive pretentions, Barack Obama the national political phenomenon has never been anything other than a tool of the United States’ corporate and financial ruling class. Obama rose to power in Washington with remarkable, record-setting financial backing from Wall Street and K Street election investors. Those elites are not in the business or promoting or tolerating politicians who seek to challenge the nation’s dominant domestic and imperial hierarchies and doctrines.
Three months into Obama’s presidency, popular rage at Wall Street was intense and the leading financial institutions were weak and on the defensive. The nation’s financial elite had driven the nation and world’s economy into an epic meltdown in the period since Silverstein’s essay was published – and millions knew it. Having ridden into office partly on a wave of popular anger at the economic power elite’s staggering malfeasance, Obama called a meeting of the nation’s top thirteen financial executives at the White House.
The massive taxpayer bailout of the super fat cats would continue, along with numerous other forms of corporate welfare for the super-rich, powerful, and parasitic. This state-capitalist largesse was unaccompanied by any serious effort to regulate their conduct or by any remotely comparable bailout for the millions evicted from their homes and jobs by the not-so invisible hand of the marketplace. No wonder 95 percent of national U.S. income gains went to the top 1% during Obama’s first term.
Americans also watched as Obama moved on to pass a health insurance reform (the so-called Affordable Care Act) that only the big insurance and drug companies could love, kicking the popular alternative (single payer “Medicare for All”) to the curb while rushing to pass a program drafted by the Republican Heritage Foundation and first carried out in Massachusetts by the arch 1 percenter Mitt Romney.
2015-02-03 Washington Was Behind Ukraine Coup: Obama admits that US “Brokered a Deal” in Support of “Regime Change”
US President Barack Obama’s recent interview with CNN’s Fareed Zakiria reveals the United States’ involvement in the Ukrainian crisis from its outset and that the country worked directly with Ukrainian right-wing fascist groups, experts told Sputnik. On Sunday, in his interview with CNN, Obama admitted that the United States “had brokered a deal to transition power in Ukraine.”
“Obama’s statement is reiterating something that the world public opinion already knew — the US was involved in the coup of [ex-Ukrainian President] Viktor Yanukovych from the start. History shows us that the US has overthrown numerous governments in Latin America, Asia and Africa and replaced them with leaders that ruled with a fascist ideology that proved useful for Washington’s geopolitical interests,” independent researcher and writer Timothy Alexander Guzman told Sputnik.
The defining image of the Obama White House is a culture of so-called smart power and death – F-35 fighter jets, unmanned killer drones, Navy Seals, Delta Force death squads, and more recently, the White House kill list. In an act of unprecedented arrogance, President Obama has granted himself the authority to order the assassination of anyone, anywhere, anytime, with no questions asked, no trial, no due process – just pure law of the jungle. And what has been the response of the political Left in Vermont to this egregious behavior? Stony silence.
There is only one fundamental question which really matters, and it will not appear on the ballot anywhere. “Is there any justification whatsoever for the continued existence of the largest, wealthiest, most powerful, most materialistic, most environmentally toxic, most racist, most militaristic, most violent empire of all-time – an empire which has lost its moral authority and is unsustainable, ungovernable, and unfixable?”
At the outset, Becker and Shane note that, although Obama vowed to “align the fight against Al Qaeda with American values,” he has now ordered the obedient Brennan to prepare a top secret “nominations” list of people whom the President may decide to order killed, without charge or trial, including American citizens.
The authors understate this as “a moral and legal conundrum.” It is, in fact, a moral and legal impossibility to square “kill lists” for extrajudicial murders with traditional legal and moral American values.
Enter the legal consiglieres. Attorney General Eric Holder and Harold Koh, the State Department’s top lawyer, seem to have adopted the retro (pre-1215) practices of their immediate predecessors (think Ashcroft, Gonzales, Mukasey) with their extraordinary ability to make just about anything “legal.”
Even torture? No problem for the earlier trio. Now it’s a kill list! No problem!
It is tough enough to know that in the White House sits someone who betrayed not only the Palestinians, but all the oppressed people in the world and in the US he promised to engage and represent. A relentless struggle against the ethnic cleansing of Palestine will continue outside the realm of the western corridors of power.
What we learned from Egypt and Tunisia, even if we are not sure what would be the endgame there, is that struggles outside corridors of power do not wait for leaders, well-oiled organizations and people who speak in other people’s names.
If you are part of that struggle be counted today and do what you can regardless of the unfortunate Obamafication of our world.