In 2011, Obama continued the destructive pattern he followed in years one and two. Throughout his tenure, he’s done what supporters thought impossible.
Across the board on domestic and foreign issues, he governed to the right of George Bush. He’s waged multiple imperial wars, plans others, looted the nation’s wealth, wrecked the economy, consigned growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, and institutionalized tyranny to target dissenters challenging political corruption, corporate crooks, or abuse of power lawlessness.
He also promotes regime change in Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Lebanon, and other independent states. In addition, he targets Russia’s military strength and China’s growing economic might. At the same time, he supports ruthless, corrupt tyrants.
Moreover, he authorized indefinitely detaining anyone called a national security threat without charge (including US citizens). He continues Bush’s rendition and torture policies, authorized killing US citizens abroad, (like Anwar Al-Awaki for opposing America’s belligerency), and deployed Special Forces death squads covertly to 120 or more countries.
Notably, he destroyed hard won labor rights, wants education commodified and made another business profit center, and wages war on whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, Latino immigrants, and environmental and animal rights activists called terrorists.
Throughout his tenure, he’s governed lawlessly for the monied interests that own him. He hasn’t disappointed at the expense of core constituents and others deserving better.
Year three: Obama’s destructive agenda continued.
Obama’s Anti-Progressive Agenda
In year three, like years one and two, he’s been anti-progressive, hard-right, reactionary, belligerent, and pro-corporate. He’s pursued anti-populist policies favoring wealth and privilege, not social justice when more than ever it’s needed.
In contrast, progressive change demands social reforms benefitting ordinary Americans, citizens having more control over government, establishing comprehensive education and universal healthcare as fundamental rights, curbing excessive corporate power, purging corruption and waste, and ending imperial wars that ravage the world one country at a time or in multiples.
It also advocates supporting organized labor, preventing exploitation of children, workers and minorities, environmental conservation, equity and justice, and other democratic values.
In contrast, Obama supports wealth and power, not populist change. Throughout his tenure, he’s been pro-war, pro-business (with Wall Street atop the pecking order), anti-dissent, anti-democratic, anti-freedom, anti-civil and human rights, anti-environmental sanity, and anti-government of, by and for the people.
After winning the most sweeping non-incumbent victory in over 50 years, he broke every major promise made, imposed austerity when stimulus is needed, escalated imperial wars, and hardened repression to curb popular anger.
James Petras calls him “the perfect incarnation of Melville’s Confidence Man. He catches your eye while he picks your pocket. He gives thanks as he packs you off to war.”
He spurns human need, rule of law principles, other democratic values, and right over wrong. Supporters expecting change in year four or a second term are delusional and misguided. In fact, his worst policies lie ahead.
Obamanomics: Waging War on American Workers
In April 2011, Obama announced $4 trillion in largely social spending budget cuts over the next 12 years. In December 2010, with Democrats controlling both Houses, he extended Bush’s super-rich tax cuts after saying he’d end them.
He also agreed to $38 billion in vital social services cuts after promising to preserve them. They include:
$3.5 billion from Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) funding;
$2.2 billion from nonprofit health insurance cooperatives;
$600 million from community healthcare centers;
$1 billion from HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other disease prevention programs;
$1.6 billion from EPA’s clean/safe drinking water and other projects;
$950 million from community development grants;
$504 million from nutrition aid for poor Women, Infants, and Children (WIC);
$500 million from education programs;
$390 million from home heating subsidies to the poor, as well as $2.5 billion for the Low Income Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) announced in February;
$350 million from labor programs, including grants for community service jobs for seniors;
other social service cuts;
$786 million from FEMA first-responder funding;
$407 million from energy efficiency and renewable energy programs;
$260 million from National Institutes of Health (NIH) medical research;
$127 million from the National Park Service; and
billions less for public infrastructure and transportation spending, while increasing war appropriations by multiples more, including for conquering and controlling Libya.
Moreover, Obama agreed to more draconian FY 2012 cuts and corporate tax breaks as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling before reaching its mid-May limit. More as well over the next 12 years, including:
$4 trillion overall;
$770 billion from education, environmental, transportation, and other infrastructure cuts, as well as lower wages and benefits for federal workers when they need more, not less;
$480 billion from Medicare and Medicaid, besides another $1 trillion from Obamacare;
$360 billion from mandated domestic programs, including food stamps, home heating assistance, income for the poor and disabled, federal pension insurance, and farm subsidies; and
$400 billion from military-related spending from unneeded weapons, as well as healthcare and other benefits for active service members and veterans.
Priority Pentagon items remain untouched to assure annual budget increases, generous supplemental add-ons, and secret open-checkbook intelligence allocations for numerous nefarious purposes.
As a result, people needs are on the chopping block for elimination to satisfy the insatiable appetites of Wall Street, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and America’s super-rich. Obama’s fully on board.
Eliminating Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Public Pensions
Political Washington hard-liners want them ended to transfer maximum public and private wealth to the recipients explained above.
Claims about Social Security and Medicare going broke are duplicitous. In fact, both programs are sound when responsibly administered. Nonetheless, they’re on the chopping block for elimination, beginning with benefit cuts, then privatizations to let corporate crooks profit at the expense of beneficiaries.
Obama tasked two deficit hawks for the job. They head his National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform (NCFRF) – former Senator Alan Simpson and Erskine Bowles, former Clinton White House Chief of Staff. They’re part of an 18-member team of like-minded members.
They recommended sharp tax reductions for business and super-rich elites. They also want deep Medicare cuts, co-pay increases, Social Security’s retirement age raised, and lower cost-of-living increases among other draconian proposals harming ordinary people enormously.
They’re coming and much more under bipartisan agreement to slash trillions of dollars from domestic spending over the next decade.
By law, automatic $1.2 trillion in cuts over 10 years will start in 2013. They’re to be equally divided between defense and domestic programs.
In fact, expect sustained military spending at the expense of gutting America’s social contract. Either way, lost purchasing power means less spending, fewer jobs, and greater public anger than today’s high levels.
In fact, deficit cutting is secondary. Key is protecting corporate handouts and Bush era tax cuts, as well as expanding them for business and upper-bracket earners.
Obama supports making ordinary Americans and seniors bear the burden so corporations and rich folks are spared. As usual, he talks tough, then caves, no matter the harm and injustice caused.
America’s Permanent War Agenda
In inflation adjusted dollars, annual defense spending more than doubled under George Bush. They’ve kept rising under Obama despite growing budget cutting pressures, at a time America’s national debt burden is much higher than acknowledged.
It hardly matters, given the military/industrial complex’s power to demand what it wants with Obama in tow to provide it. He also advanced America’s imperium destructively across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia to Russia’s borders.
After a decade, Afghanistan is now America’s longest war. No end of conflict is in sight. Withdrawing US forces from Iraq concealed their regional repositioning and continued presence on major bases America will keep operating.
In fact, increased force levels are planned on one or more Libyan bases, larger contingents in Kuwait, expanded ties with Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Qatar, the UAE and Oman, and a greater overall regional footprint to establish an enhanced “security architecture” to integrate air, ground, and naval units for future combat missions.
Throughout 2011, Obama bears direct responsibility for committing one of history’s greatest crimes against Libya. NATO’s killing machine under US direction dispatched truth by calling naked aggression against a nonbelligerent country the responsibility to protect.
When is war not war? It’s when cold-blooded killing is called the right thing. It’s when major media scoundrels cheerlead it, lies substitute for truth, and when public apathy lets criminal politicians, crime boss presidents, and NATO killers cause mass deaths, destruction and human misery with impunity.
Objectives included replacing an independent regime with a client one; colonizing, occupying, pillaging, and raping Libya for profit; controlling its resources; excluding China and Russia from access; privatizing its enterprises; exploiting its people; ending Jamahiriya social benefits; and letting America establish strategically located North African bases among other reasons for waging war.
Also at issue is Washington’s Greater Middle East agenda. One country at a time is ravaged toward achieving America’s goal of unchallenged regional dominance to Russia and China’s borders.
Years earlier, constructive chaos was planned to redraw regional lines to achieve key geopolitical goals. Wars followed, shifting from one target to another. Obama’s pursued them more aggressively than Bush and plans more, no matter their lawlessness or body count.
Syria’s now targeted. Washington replicated its Libya model. Heavily armed insurgents are involved. So are Turkey, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon’s March 14 alliance, other Arab League partners, and Israel.
Regime change is planned, with or without war. Expect it if other measures fail. Internal and external forces are involved. In Libya, NATO formed the Transitional National Council (TNC) to replace Gaddafi and Jamahiriya government. Proxy Syrian National Council (SNC) members were enlisted to replace Bashar al-Assad’s regime after it’s ousted.
Disturbing reports surfaced about hundreds of US and NATO Special Forces massed on Syria’s border. Using them perhaps with air power is planned if sanctions and internal insurgency fail.
Anti-Iranian rhetoric is also heated. America claims Tehran threatens world peace. In October, Washington falsely charged Iran with plotting to kill Saudi Arabia’s US ambassador.
In November, outdated, forged, long ago discredited, and perhaps nonexistent documents were used to claim Iran’s developing nuclear weapons. According to America’s latest March 2011 intelligence estimate, no credible evidence proves it. Instead, baseless accusations may precede replicating Libya’s model to target Iran belligerently.
On December 15, Manhattan Federal Judge George Daniels said he’ll sign an order accusing Iran, Hezbollah, and Al Qaeda of 9/11 responsibility.
In response to a lawsuit brought by family members of 9/11 victims, he claimed Iran provided material support to Al Qaeda, based on spurious testimonies from three Iranian defectors whose affidavits remained sealed during court proceedings.
Testimonies given were false. Iran, Hezbollah and Al Qaeda had nothing to do with a plot hatched in Washington to initiate America’s global war on terror. Ravaging the world one country at a time was planned. Syria and Iran may be next.
Supporting Dangerous Nuclear Power
Despite Fukushima’s multiples worse disaster than Chernobyl, Obama supports jump-starting nuclear power construction. In 2008, candidate Obama said unless a “safe way to produce (and store) nuclear energy (is found), then absolutely we shouldn’t build more plants….I am much more interested in solar and wind and bio-diesel (to produce) clean energy and (new) jobs.”
At the same time, he accepted generous industry contributions, as well as earlier for his 2004 Senate campaign. As president, he now supports tens of billions of dollars in industry loan guarantees for new facilities – free money. He’s committed to accelerating new construction. It’s been halted since Three Mile Island in 1979. Numerous takers are lining up to take advantage.
Energy Secretary Steven Chu and other officials downplay the hazards, including 23 US nuclear plants at 16 locations using the same failed GE-designed Mark 1 containment vessels as Fukushima. Earlier, the NRC called them susceptible to explosions and failure because of cost-cutting design features.
No matter the risks, Obama’s an unabashed nuclear power supporter. He believes no new regulatory oversight is needed. He’s endangering public safety promoting it. It should be abandoned in favor safer, clean, renewable alternatives.
Partnering with Israeli Lawlessness
Obama calls his commitment to Israel “unshakable.” Claiming he’s done more than anyone, he said:
“I am proud to say that no US administration has done more in support of Israel’s security than ours. Don’t let anybody tell you otherwise. It is a fact.” America’s “led the way.” Whatever Israel wants it gets, including more military and other foreign aid than all other countries combined.
No wonder James Petras calls him “America’s first Jewish president.” He “crossed the River Jordan,” backing its “colonial power in a strategic region of the” world, no matter how threatening “to world peace (and) democratic values….”
He partners with Israel’s worst crimes and provides assured Security Council vetoes of measures harming its interests.
Like past administrations, he also supplies annual billions of dollars in aid, state-of-the-art weapons and munitions, the latest technology, intelligence, interest-free loans, special privileges afforded no other nations, and other generous benefits.
Moreover, despite hard economic times, he approved more in Washington’s FY 2012 budget bill. It provides $236 million for Israel’s missile defense programs, including Arrow-2, Arrow-3, and David’s Sling.
Beholden to America’s powerful Israeli Lobby, world peace and America’s own interests are threatened.
Jeopardizing Internet Freedom
Candidate Obama promised to “(s)upport the principle of network neutrality to preserve the benefits of open competition on the Internet.”
As president, his FCC, congressional Democrats, and political extremists threaten it. On May 12, Senator Patrick Leahy (D. VT) introduced “S. 968: Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011 (PROTECT IP).” Referred to the Judiciary Committee, May 26 hearings were held. So far, no further action was taken.
Leahy calls it a measure to “protect the investment American companies make in developing brands and creating content and will protect the jobs associated with those investments.”
In fact, it introduces new censorship provisions that violate First Amendment freedoms, without which all others are at risk.
If enacted, Internet service providers (ISPs), search engines, and other information location tools must block user access to sites accused of very loosely defined copyright infringement.
On October 26, Rep. Lamar Smith (R. TX) introduced “HR 3261: Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA): To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of US property, and for other purposes.”
Referred to the House Judiciary Committee, no further action so far was taken. In enacted, SOPA will sabotage the domain name system. It may also eliminate DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) safe harbors that spur economic growth and online creativity.
Along with Leahy’s PROTECT-IP Act, SOPA will force ISPs to disappear certain websites, endangering Internet security.
At issue is targeting free expression. It’s not about curbing online piracy or promoting prosperity, creativity and entrepreneurship. An appointed Internet czar would decide if US interests are harmed at the expense of user rights and providers serving them.
After promising to protect Net Neutrality, expect Obama to end it if these measures pass.
In mid-December, Congress passed the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act. It includes little reported harsh police state provisions. After earlier promising a veto, Obama signed them into law. Another promise made, another broken. His betrayal record stays intact.
Henceforth, anyone anywhere, including US citizens, may be indefinitely held without charge or trial, based solely on suspicions, spurious allegations or none at all.
No reasonable proof is needed, just suspicions that those detained pose threats. As a result, indefinite detentions can follow mere membership (past or present) or support for suspect organizations.
Presidents now have unchecked dictatorial powers to arrest, interrogate and indefinitely detain law-abiding citizens if accused of potentially posing a threat.
Constitutional, statute and international laws won’t apply. Martial law will replace them if so ordered.
As a result, US military personnel anywhere in the world may arrest US citizens and others, throw them in military dungeons, and hold them indefinitely outside constitutionally mandated civil protections, including habeas rights, due process, and other judicial procedures.
In other words, presidents may order anyone arrested and imprisoned for life without charge or trial. Tyranny arrived in America. Abuse of power replaced rule of law protections, despite three post-9/11 Supreme Court decisions supporting habeas and other constitutional protections in civil courts for anyone charged with crimes.
A Final Comment
Obama exceeded the worst of George Bush. With another year in office and likely reelection, he’ll continue waging permanent wars, flaunting democratic values, imposing repressive police state harshness, concentrating wealth and power disproportionately, destroying the nation’s middle class, turning workers into serfs, and making the country more than ever unfit to live in.
It’s happening under a president promising change unless public outrage stops him. Sustaining pressure without letup is crucial for as long as it takes. There’s no other way.
Quitting’s not an option! There can’t be to have any chance for success!
The alternative is Orwell’s vision of “a boot stamping on a human face forever.” If preventing that isn’t job one, what is?
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at [email protected]
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.