Newspaper logo


Obama Year One: Betrayal and Failure

by Stephen Lendman
Monday, 21 December 2009

In Obama's America, only the privileged have rights, not people of color, the poor, and growing numbers going hungry, without jobs, and other life's essentials his budget allocations won't fund.

Promising change after eight George Bush and Republican dominated years, Barack Obama won the most sweeping non-incumbent victory in over 50 years along with congressional Democrats gaining large House and Senate majorities. In addition, at 56.8%, voter turnout was the highest since Richard Nixon's "secret plan" to end the Vietnam war and his "Southern" and "law and order" strategies beat Hubert Humphrey and independent George Wallace in 1968.

On election night, the mood celebrated hope for progressive change, an end to imperial wars, and a new day for America. When word came around 10PM, expectant thousands in Chicago's Grant Park erupted with chants of "yes we can," hoping Obama would make a difference at a time of deepening economic duress.

In its November 4, 2008 editorial titled, "The Next President," The New York Times called it "one of those moments in history when it is worth pausing to reflect on the basic facts," then listed some:

Endorsing his candidacy early on for a socially liberal new beginning, Nation magazine editor, Katrina vanden Heuvel, looked for a "transformational presidency, (a) new era of possibility, a historic opportunity for a progressive governing agenda and a mandate for bold action....Tonight we celebrate," she said.

Campaigning, he offered change, a new course, sweeping government reforms, addressing people needs, and "ensur(ing) that the hopes and concerns of average Americans speak louder in Washington than the hallway whispers of high-priced lobbyists," the same ones he said wouldn't run his administration, but would "have a seat at the table," and why not given their large contributions to him and other Democrats.

Little wonder that a year later hope is now disillusion, frustration, and anger over promises made, then broken with an awakening knowledge that change won't come unless growing millions demand it.

A Man of the People or Machine Politics

Obama rose through the system, a man James Petras calls "the greatest con man in recent history" in comparing him to Melville's Confidence Man: "He catches your eye while he picks your pocket." He talks change but delivers continuity.

He's a highly skilled demagogue doing Lincoln one better through his campaign and early months in office by fooling enough of the people to matter.

Connected to the fringes of Chicago politics, he served three terms in the Illinois Senate from 1997 - 2004. After a failed 2000 congressional race, he became a US senator in 2004, then used his position for a successful presidential bid. While "cordial, (but) not close" to Richard Daley, he endorsed his reelection, and called his connection to former fundraiser, Antoin "Tony" Rezko, "a bone-headed mistake," after he was indicted and convicted on federal corruption charges. Also troubling was his "political godfather," Emil Jones, Jr., former Illinois Senate president, who was tainted by an "ethical cloud."

His chief fundraiser is Penny Pritzker, some describe as America's most powerful woman and one of the richest as heiress to part of the Pritzker fortune. Believed over $40 billion, most of it is grandfathered in tax-free offshore trusts. Only the little people pay taxes as a prominent scafflaw once said.

An October 2008 Bloomberg "Power of Penny Pritzker" article stressed the enormous influence she wields in Democrat party circles as a fundraiser extraordinaire, and, according to Warren Buffet, she's the person to call when you want to "get the job done."

Bloomberg largely credited her with getting Obama elected and mentioned her connection to the subprime meltdown. Called by some the "subprime queen," she was one of its originators when she ran the failed suburban Chicago Hinsdale-based Superior Bank. With $2.3 billion in assets, it was from predatory lending, sloppy bookkeeping, overstating securitized assets, and suspected fraud kept hidden until regulators closed it in July 2001. Behind the scenes, Pritzker has clout in the administration without headlines because of her connection to Wall Street and other powerful interests.

The Illusion of "Yes We Can"

As a senator, Obama's voting record told all, that he supports power, not progressive change, but few took the trouble to check it:

It eviscerates fundamental Bill of Rights freedoms, ones Obama voted to sacrifice and does as president by agreeing with Congress to extend three Patriot Act provisions set to expire at year end - to let government operate roving wire taps, search any person's business, personal, and library records by authorization of a national security letter, and spy on foreign nationals with no known links to terrorist designated groups.

He supported:

He opposed the 2006 Military Commissions Act but supports military tribunals and preventive detentions for torture prison detainees.

He waffled on CIA interrogation practices and won't prosecute offenders.

He voted to expand NSA eavesdropping powers while rhetorically opposing "excessive secrecy, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping, and enhanced interrogation techniques like simulated drowning that qualify as torture through any careful measure of the law or appeal to human decency." More below that as president he authorized these and other abhorrent practices he disingenuously condemned as a candidate.

He voted to approve rogue Bush administration appointments, including Robert Gates as Defense Secretary, John Negroponte as Director of National Intelligence, and Michael Chertoff as Secretary of Homeland Security.

He backed the 2007 Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act (S. 1959), called the "thought crimes" act. It passed the House but not the Senate.

He opposes impeaching Bush and Cheney or prosecuting all high-level torturers, and overall had a more Republican than Democrat voting record. It's unsurprising as on war and peace, Israel/Palestine, Wall Street, and most things business, it's hard telling the difference.

In the Senate, he earned his bona fides, showed he was "safe," and once elected hasn't disappointed - the powerful, that is, not the people growing increasingly discontented for being betrayed by a leader no different from the rest.

Pre and Post-Inaugural Appointees

From transition to his economic, national security, and other high-level team, most are former administration officials - from Wall Street, the military, and other key power centers for continuity, not progressive change he disdains. The result has been the worst of all possible worlds, including permanent wars, eroded civil liberties and social services, and plundering the nation's Treasury for Wall Street while ignoring the public interest.

Wall Street's Financial Coup d'Etat

Like his predecessor and previous ones since Ronald Reagan, Obama put a criminal cabal in charge of furthering the greatest wealth transfer in history - from the public to the top 1%, unfettered by rules, regulations, the law, or onerous taxes. It's designed to keep offshoring high-paying jobs, wipe out the middle class, hollow out America, turn it into Guatemala, centralize power, end social services, destroy communities and local infrastructure, and leave poverty, unemployment, homelessness, hunger, a permanent underclass, and despair in its wake under militarized tyranny for enforcement.

From her experience as a high-level Washington/Wall Street insider, Catherine Austin Fitts describes the process that:

Engineered globally, it's a government-business cabal to create housing, debt, and other bubbles, substitute new ones for old, and manipulate markets up or down for enormous profits. It involves pump and dump schemes, naked short selling, and various other ways to suck wealth from the many to the few so cleverly that few know what's happening, or when they do it's too late.

From the wreckage comes proposed financial reform, but watch out. It's for a new global monetary control scheme under a Financial Stability Board (FSB), working cooperatively with the secretive Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the Basel, Switzerland-based central bank for central bankers run by the monetary authorities of six dominant nations - America, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Japan, and Britain. If established, it's the next, perhaps final, step toward ruling elite control of the world's money - their long sought holy grail to complete their coup d'etat triumph over all humanity, with Obama facilitating the process in defiance of the public interest he abandoned on day one as president.

Democracy for the Few, not the Many

More than ever, American democracy is bogus under a police state apparatus sacrificing civil liberties in the name of national security. Included are:

Secret Surveillance and Threatened Cybersecurity Tyranny

Obama usurped unchecked surveillance powers, including warrantless wiretapping, accessing personal records, monitoring financial transactions, and tracking emails, Internet and cell phone use to gather secret evidence for prosecutions. In addition, his Justice Department claims the federal government can't be sued for illegal spying, an interpretation no member of Congress or administration ever made, not even George Bush or his Republican allies.

In March, Obama's DHS cybersecurity head, Rod Beckstrom, resigned over NSA's greater role in guarding government computer systems, its concentrated power with no checks or balances, and the continuation of Bush's illegal warrantless wiretapping called secret and not reviewable by courts for reasons of national security.

Under Obama, NSA partnered with the Justice Department, DHS, FBI, CIA, and the nation's other spy agencies as a collective big brother targeting political dissidents using police state authority against anti-war protestors, environmental and other activists, Muslims, Latino immigrants, and lawyers who defend them.

Privacy is no longer possible as potentially everyone and everything is surveilled, including:

Our entire private space is now public if spy snoops decide to invade it.

Cybersecurity Legislation that Threatens a Free and Open Internet

In April, the 2009 Cybersecutity Act (S 773) and companion legislation (S 778) to establish a cybersecurity czar were introduced in the Senate, purportedly to protect against cyber espionage or attacks that might cripple critical infrastructure and comprise national security. Don't believe it.

If enacted in original or redrafted form, they'll give Washington unprecedented power over the Internet by:

Political Persecution Under Obama

He declared war on Islam, Latino immigrations, animal and environmental rights activists, anyone challenging state power, and civil rights lawyers who defend them too vigorously.

Using familiar police state tactics, Muslims especially have been persecuted for their faith, ethnicity, prominence, activism, and charity. They've been singled out, rounded up, held in detention, kept in isolation, denied bail, restricted in their right to counsel, entrapped by paid informants, tried on secret evidence, convicted on bogus changes, given long sentences, then incarcerated for extra harsh treatment as political prisoners in segregated Communication Management Units (CMUs). They violate US Prison Bureau regulations stating:

"staff shall not discriminate against inmates on the basis of race, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or political belief (including) administrative decisions (involving) access to work, housing and program."

Also, the Supreme Court's February 2005 Johnson v. California decision, ruling that segregating prisoners by race, ethnicity or language is illegal. The practice began under George Bush and continues unchanged under Obama.

So does the war on Latino immigrants, undocumented ones here because NAFTA and WTO rules destroyed their livelihoods at home, forcing them North for jobs to support their families.

As a sweeping anti-terrorism bill, the November 2002 Homeland Security Act (HSA) created the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), giving Washington repressive police state powers used vigorously thereafter. In March 2003, its largest investigative and enforcement arm was established - the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE). Along with Muslims, Latinos are its prime targets, using militarized unconstitutional tactics against vulnerable, defenseless people who've been persecuted ever since.

Like his predecessor, Obama's shock troops target them at the border, at work sites, and in their homes. Using goon-squad tactics, they're illegally confronted with shotguns, automatic weapons, and seized without warrants or explanation, then held for prosecution, imprisonment or deportation with no acknowledgement of their rights. Innocent as well as undocumented Latinos are arrested, including their families, often by pre-dawn swat-like private home intrusions.

In August, Obama announced stepped up immigration enforcement through more centralized control for better ways to track, process, incarcerate, and/or deport growing numbers of undocumented immigrants - not treat them humanely as international law and DHS/ICE regulations stipulate.

In this and numerous other ways, Obama is doing Bush one better by exceeding his harshness, lawlessness, and betrayal of the public trust. Against Latinos, it's through aggressive immigration enforcement with planned legislation coming to include a temporary guest worker program so employers can exploit them as serfs, much like the 1942 - 1964 Bracero Program under which millions of Mexican migrant farm workers had no rights, were harassed and oppressed, then deported when no longer needed.

In Obama's America, only the privileged have rights, not people of color, the poor, and growing numbers going hungry, without jobs, and other life's essentials his budget allocations won't fund.

Part II will conclude Obama Year One: Betrayal and Failure.

Steve Lendman

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national topics. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Mr. Lendman's stories are republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.

Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on December 21, 2009.