Print view: Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part I)
Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure (Part I)
by Stephen Lendman
Monday, 27 December 2010
The opposite of a yesteryear Democrat, Obama maintained a 30 year agenda of shifting public wealth to the rich, as well as supporting capital, not public welfare, including targeting middle class households for destruction.
Last December, a two-part article discussed Obama's year one betrayal and failure, accessed through the following links:
In year two, the pattern continued, revealing domestic and foreign policies that:
outdid George Bush by exceeding his harshness, lawlessness, belligerency, and public trust betrayal;
maintained a 30 year agenda of shifting public wealth to the rich, as well as supporting capital, not public welfare, including targeting middle class households for destruction;
looted the nation's wealth, wrecked the economy, and consigned growing millions to impoverishment without jobs, homes, savings, social services, or futures;
let hunger, homelessness, poverty, and those uninsured grow to unacceptable levels;
backed Wall Street's financial coup d'etat by greater Fed empowerment, as well as institutionalizing speculation, "too-big-to fail," super-wealth, and big money power;
plans new global monetary measures to control the world's money;
continued America's permanent war agenda by expanding imperial adventurism, increasing covert and overt aggression on new fronts with out-of-control military spending, exceeding the rest of the world combined at a time America has no enemies;
became the latest war criminal Nobel Peace Prize recipient;
executed his first successful coup d'etat in Honduras against its democratically elected president, then backed the fascist regime replacing him;
failed attempting regime change in Iran;
continued providing military, economic and political aid to the world's most ruthless, corrupt despots;
maintained a longstanding policy of supplying Israel with annual billions, more on request, other add-ons and extras, interest-free loans, the latest weapons, munitions and technology, unrestricted US market access, free entry of its immigrants, and unbridled support for its illegal belligerence, occupation, and crimes of war and against humanity;
presides over a bogus democracy under a homeland police state apparatus, sacrificing due process, judicial fairness, and other civil liberty protections in the name of national security;
continued torture as official policy, extraordinary rendition to prison hellholes, and for the first time, targeted US citizens for assassination;
invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent lawsuits by victims of rendition, torture, abuse, and those opposing warrantless wiretapping;
targets whisleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, environmental and animal rights activists, anyone challenging state power, and civil rights lawyers who defend them too vigorously called terrorists or threats to national security;
endorsed preventive detention without charge for those at Guantanamo considered dangerous, but no evidence allows prosecuting them;
expanded Bush administration spying and secrecy;
refused to prosecute its officials, suppressing proof of their culpability;
planned cybersecurity tyranny, threatening a free and open Internet, consumer privacy, and civil liberties; more on how below;
waged war on organized labor through fewer jobs, less pay, reduced benefits, and gutted work rules, including health and safety on-the-job protections;
tried controlling the media more aggressively than Nixon;
denied budget-strapped states financial help, forcing them to slash welfare programs, education, health care for the poor, and other vital services when they're most needed;
continued to commodify public education, end government responsibility for it, and make it another business profit center;
promoted dangerous vaccines for a non-existent threat;
promoted health care legislation that rations care; enriches insurers, drug giants and large hospital chains; places profits above human need; and keeps a dysfunctional system in place; Peter Singer's July 15, 2009 New York Times article endorsed administration policy, headlined: "Why We Must Ration Health Care," saying it's essential to apportion a "scarce resource" to those who can afford it; others will get only what they can pay for;
on the pretext of improving food safety, enacted agribusiness-friendly House legislation, harming consumers, small farms and food producers without improving America's industrial food system; on November 30, the Senate passed its own version; more on that below;
wants so far not passed legislation to let corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits by raising energy cost, while creating a speculative bonanza through a new carbon trading derivatives scheme;
cracks down harder on undocumented immigrants than George Bush, deporting a record number in FY 2010; others are held in over 300 detention facilities in nearly every state in the country, treated like criminals or terrorists; and
promoted a national ID card for all citizens and legal residents to be able to monitor them everywhere at all times.
Year two: Obama's destructive agenda continued.
Militarizing and Exploiting Haiti
An earlier article explained that Haiti is no stranger to adversity. Except for a brief time after its successful 1791 - 1803 revolution turning slaves into citizens and during Jean-Bertrand Aristide's tenure, it's experienced over 500 years of severe oppression, slavery, despotism, colonization, occupation, reparations, embargoes, sanctions, deep poverty, starvation, unrepayable debt, and natural calamities from destructive hurricanes to powerful earthquakes, most recently on January 12. It devastated greater Port-au-Prince, killing up to 300,000, leaving around 1.5 million Haitians homeless with little aid and no help to rebuild.
Some countries reacted quickly, mostly a few Latin American ones, including Cuba and Venezuela. Washington did nothing, deploying marines and paratroupers instead, militarizing the country, obstructing, not providing aid, promising $1.1 billion, delivering none, planning only exploitation of Haiti's resources and cheap labor.
Haiti was opened for business, occupied to be plundered, its people on their own, sink or swim under circumstances assuring mass suffering, starvation, disease and for many, death. Only corporate interests mattered at a time of dire need.
Eleven months later, Haiti is still plagued by rubble everywhere, extreme deprivation, promised aid undelivered, none from Washington, 1.5 million without shelter in streets and other open spaces, and now raging cholera, and the aftermath of a sham election, institutionalizing coup d'etat rule.
Washington's imperial hand orchestrated it, denying Haitians any chance for real change. It represents another betrayal by a president showing contempt for essential needs, human rights, and basic freedoms, at home and abroad, even under the most dire conditions.
America's Permanent War Agenda
America glorifies wars in the name of peace, historian Gore Vidal titling his 2002 book, "Perpetual War for Perpetual Peace," saying:
"Our rulers for more than a century have made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own."
It's persisted mainly since Franklin Roosevelt goaded Japan to attack us. It then continued in Korea, Vietnam, numerous proxy wars, the Cold War until the Soviet Union's 1991 dissolution, and now Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and new wars to be launched at opportunistic times against unnamed enemies.
Obama is America's latest warrior president, talking peace, waging war, packaged as liberating ones for democracy, freedom, and justice against bogus threats, when, in fact it's an imperial agenda for wealth, power, and unchallengeable global dominance.
He lied calling Afghanistan a "war of necessity, not choice," doubled the force contingent since taking office, yet stays mired in an unwinnable quagmire. He also destabilized Pakistan, plans control over the Caspian Sea's oil and gas riches, as well as energy routes to secured ports for export.
He approved US military bases encircling Russia, China and Iran, obstructing their solidarity and cohesion. He promised change and delivered betrayal, nearing year three of his tenure. Like his predecessor, he aroused global anger, his agenda endangering everyone, including Americans, heading the country for tyranny and ruin.
An earlier article called March 21 a day of infamy when House and Democrat leaders bullied, bribed, cajoled, muscled, and jerry-rigged Obamacare to pass, despite most Americans opposing it with good reason. Ralph Nader called it a "pay-or-die system that is the disgrace of the Western world," costing double what other Western countries spend and delivering less, rationing care to enrich corporate providers while making a dysfunctional system worse.
Henceforth, junk insurance policies will leave millions underinsured. Costs will remain out-of-control. Insurers can still deny care by delaying, contesting, preventing or over-charging people from accessing it. Everyone must have coverage or be penalized if opt out, a provision many states are contesting. A Virginia federal judge just ruled it unconstitutional, a battle the Supreme Court will decide. Company-provided policies will be taxed as ordinary income, harming working households most of all.
Physicians for a National Health Program denounced it, saying the new law "will enrich and further entrench (private insurers, forcing) millions of Americans to buy" defective coverage leaving most worse off than before at a cost of hundreds of billions of tax dollars given predators to game the system for profit, the public losing out. Moreover, 23 million Americans will remain uninsured, "translate(d) into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths annually and an incalculable toll of suffering."
Obama's centerpiece domestic policy scammed the public with a package of expensive mandates, new taxes, and sweetheart deals, creating a fragmented, dysfunctional, unsustainable system, denying Americans what they urgently need - universal coverage, an expanded, improved Medicare for all, everyone in, no one out, what neither party or Obama delivered.
Capitulating on Financial Reform
Omitting real structural reforms, Democrats, Republicans, and Obama agreed on a patchwork of half-measures. Instead of restraining financial fraud, too-big-to-fail empowerment, an out-of-control Fed, and casino capitalism's ability to game the system with public money, it institutionalized business as usual. The Financial Times (FT) quoted a Wall Street banker saying "We are all breathing a sigh of relief here....we can live with this." Indeed so since Wall Street lawyers wrote it. The FT added: investors believe the "overhaul in financial rules would not have a significant impact on the industry's structure and profitability."
Indeed not by:
empowering a financial aristocracy;
letting Wall Street run the country;
institutionalizing fraud, speculation and bailouts;
leaving executive pay, bonuses and perks untouched;
letting credit agency scams continue;
permitting giant banks, insurers and other financial firms to get bigger; and
establishing a toothless Consumer Financial Protection Bureau along with other anti-reform provisions.
Bottom line: the worst of bad practices will continue, besides teams of lawyers devising ways around whatever regulations emerge. According to University of San Diego Law Professor Frank Partnoy, "Wall Street has always been very skilled at getting around rules, and this law will be no different," especially with its loopholes, half-measures, and overall weakness. Bankers got the best deal big money can buy. The public again was scammed.
Part II concludes Obama Year Two: Continued Betrayal and Failure.
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This story was published in the Baltimore Chronicle on December 27, 2010.