Obama and the CIA: the audacity of false hope
Good Cop, Bad Cop: The Military Industrial Complex picked Obama and Biden
- 2008 comments still valid
- not disappointed by Obama
- 2008 race fixed for Obama
- Obama & Bush
- "clean coal"
- Obama's first job after college: Business International, a CIA front
- Senator Obama & CIA
- non-racial imperialism
This page has not been updated much since November 2008, the predictions here that Obama would be a continuation of Empire have been upheld by events.
"The more things change the more they stay the same."
I’m not disappointed in the Obama - Biden administration.
They promised to oppose Single Payer health care, and they are against it now. They promised to expand the wars on Afghanistan and Pakistan, and those conflicts are now getting worse.
No one should be surprised that the new administration supports Bush era policies on rendition, warrantless wiretapping, increased military spending, corporate welfare for Wall Street, highway expansion, and official silence about Peak Oil.
It is encouraging that some Obama voters wonder why their team is "regime rotation" instead of regime change.
Our political system has been on autopilot for decades, especially since November 22, 1963 when President Kennedy was removed from office for wanting to stop the Cold War. The failure of our political system to address that crime is why the Democrats will not change imperial policies.
Sarah Palin was put on McCain’s ticket to ensure that he would lose, since Wall Street wanted the Democrats this time.
I voted for Cynthia McKinney for President, the Green Party candidate in 2008. While in Congress, she stood up to Bush on the deepest issues, and both parties joined forces to defeat her.
Obama's first job after Columbia was with a CIA front, so his warmongering as spokesperson for the Military Industrial Complex should not be a surprise. Plus you have to be a supporter of that to be allowed to win.
Obama's mentor at Columbia (for studying US Soviet policy) was Zbigniew Brzezinski, architect of the six month long nuclear war (Presidential Directive 59). When I heard Brzezinski announce in 2007 that he would back Obama I realized the powers that be had changed their mind on Hillary (who was still very useful in the administration but not the public face of the regime).
Obama was rigged for the election as much as Bush was in 2000. Palin was probably put on the R ticket to ensure McCain would lose. Obama's Senate election was a throw away from the R's - inviting a black failed politician from Maryland to move to Illinois to supposedly campaign against Obama was a joke, not a serious challenge to Obama. One doesn't go in four years from a State Senator in a 99% Democratic district (south Chicago) to President unless someone put you there.
Biden and Cheney share the same goal of using ethnic conflict to redraw the boundaries of the Middle East to control the oil. Will the Democrats be more successful at this than the Republicans? Good cop, bad cop. Two sides of a Mobius strip.
www.oilempire.us/biden.html The Biden Cheney campaign to split Iraq into three new countries.
www.oilempire.us/new-map.html The New Middle East Map
Obama, Cheney, Bush, Kerry and Sen. Brown (R-MA) are all cousins dating back to the 1700s in Massachusetts. The aristocracy, even if they don't agree on every detail on how to run the Empire.
I'm not at all disappointed in Biden and that other guy, it was obvious in 2007 what their administration would be. In 2008, I "voted" for Cynthia McKinney, which was pointless but it felt much better than voting for a champion of expanded nuclear power, the oxymoron of clean coal, drones and mineral wars in Africa. I "voted" None of the Above for the phony 2012 election.
"By the way, I would reach out to the first George Bush. You know, one of the things that I think George H.W. Bush doesn't get enough credit for was his foreign policy team and the way that he helped negotiate the end of the Cold War and prosecuted the Gulf War. That cost us 20 billion dollars. That's all it cost. It was extremely successful. I think there were a lot of very wise people. So I want a bipartisan team that can help to provide me good advice and counsel when I'm president of the United States."
- Barack Obama on LARRY KING LIVE: March 20, 2008
Most of Obama's Electoral College victory was merely having the states that went for Kerry but were stolen by Bush being accurately placed in the Democratic count -- Ohio, Florida, Iowa, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada. The states that Obama added to the D's were North Carolina, Virginia and Indiana (and possibly Missouri?). The elections were rigged for the D's this time, although the R's seem to have tampered with Congressional elections in Alaska, Minnesota and Georgia in an effort to try to keep the D's from having 60 votes in the Senate (the threshold needed to override a filibuster). This parallels the 2006 Congressional races - the Democrats were allowed to gain control of both houses, but the Republicans still managed to steal the Florida seat previously held by Katherine Harris, who was rewarded with a Congressional seat for helping rig the state for Bush in 2000. (Unfortunately, having the Democrats take over control of Congress has had minimal impact on imperial policies, although it did help ensure that the War for Middle East Oil has not - yet? - been extended to a War on Iran.)
Imagine what the 2008 vote count would have been if the D's main candidate had been a charismatic politician saying populist type things but with a "conventional" name that didn't make know-nothings nervous about ethnicity. Bush is at 20% in the opinion polls, and that's only because the media - and most of the opponent groups - shy away from discussing Bush's deeper crimes that are malice, not incompetence.
Obama won because he was allowed to.
The powers that be saddled the McCain campaign with the ridiculous, odious Sarah Palin. There are much worse Republicans than McCain, and if a moderate had been put on McCain's ticket it's possible he might have "won."
After the 2000 "election" do people STILL believe that the presidential elections are real? Or after six states were flipped with voting machines in 2004 to deny Kerry and Edwards their victory?
Control of the US empire is too valuable for the people who own the country to "let the people decide."
I'm not disappointed in Obama continuing many of Bush's policies - I am disappointed that so many liberals thought that the marketing campaign for "change" was real.
The Democratic Party died in Dallas on November 22, 1963. President Kennedy had vowed to scatter the CIA into a thousand pieces, but the CIA scattered Kennedy into a thousand pieces. JFK had tried to stop the Cold War, started the process to withdraw from Vietnam, called for making the "Moon Race" a cooperative effort with the Soviet Union and other nations, turned off nuclear testing, and wanted to shift course away from empire. That's why he was removed from office. The real "third rail" of American politics is not funding levels for Social Security, but to acknowledge that we had a military industrial complex coup d'etat in 1963. Much of the cynicism in our society is a reflection of this tacit understanding - that we are not really in a democracy.
In dissident CIA officer Philip Agee's memoir CIA Diary he states that the US embassy in Mexico City was privately briefed by the Mexican government who the next President was going to be - even though the "election" was still three years away.
It seems that the US election is like watching televised wrestling - it's a bruising contest, but it's all fake, theatrical entertainment that is rigged in advance.
Heads they win, tails we lose.
President Obama to award
GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN: All right. The most striking observation judging the 43rd and the 44th President of the United States when it comes to fighting terrorism, the most striking observation I can give you is their continuity, not their difference, and I would make--without fear--make the claim there are bigger differences between the 1st and 2nd Bush administrations--by that I mean 43-1 and 43-2--
GLENN THRUSH: They're going to kick you right off Fox. [Laughs]
GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN: --than there is between 43 and 44.
GLENN THRUSH: Explain. I'm sure--explain to me‑‑yeah, play that out.
GENERAL MICHAEL HAYDEN: Sure. In the second George W. Bush administration, we took an awful lot of the measures we understood as an emergency response and more regularized them, put them more under Congress, put them more under the court. We actually have--where we were eight years ago now, all right, as we were preparing for that election, and for that transition, we were moving Heaven and Earth to get the things we were doing in packages that allowed them to be transferrable to the next administration. And guess what? The next administration pretty much picked up most of the packages. Targeted killings? Oh, you bet. State secrets? Yes. Guantanamo is still open. I understand the policy decision, but Guantanamo is still open. We still have forever prisoners. President Obama agrees there are some people we will never try and we will never release. He kept the metadata program.
Full transcript: POLITICO's Glenn Thrush interviews Michael Hayden
By POLITICO Staff
Obama supports more coal mining, "clean coal" euphemism
January 5, 2007
"U.S. Senators Jim Bunning (R-KY) and Barack Obama (D-IL) today introduced the "Coal-To-Liquid Fuel Promotion Act of 2007." This bipartisan piece of legislation is based on the bill first introduced by Senators Bunning and Obama last spring and would help create the infrastructure needed for large-scale production of Coal-to-Liquids (CTL) fuel. It is a comprehensive bill that expands tax incentives, creates planning assistance, and develops Department of Defense support for the domestic CTL industry. "
Transcript of Obama interview with the Star-Tribune
By MEGAN LEE
Star-Tribune staff writer
Saturday, March 8, 2008 10:02 AM MST
Star-Tribune reporter Megan Lee interviewed presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama in Casper Friday. The following is a transcript of the interview:
Lee: Wyoming is a state whose economy relies on traditional fossil fuels -- coal, oil -- and a transition to a clean energy future, which I know you are pro as you discussed during the town hall meeting today about "punishing polluters." How would you suggest transitioning Wyoming from a bust-boom traditional fossil fuel state to a clean energy state? How would our economy last through that?
Obama: First of all, people are still going to be using coal and they're still going to be using oil and they're still going to be using natural gas. But what we have to do is price it properly and make sure that some of the billions of dollars that are generated from a cap and trade system, which is what I'm proposing, get re-invested in critical issues like clean coal technology. I come from a coal state. Southern Illinois, which has fallen on some difficult times, is a coal region and so I want to make sure that we're investing in ways to sequester the carbon that is emitted from coal power plants and I think that a lot of those jobs and a lot of that work should go into those states that are most familiar with these energy resources. If we do that, then not only do I think that we can create good jobs here in Wyoming, but I also think we could end up creating economic opportunities for export to countries like China that are gonna need ways of dealing with the side effects of carbon as well.
Lee: Wyoming just knocked down an idea for a clean coal plant here, and the reason was expense. Clean coal needs to be researched first ...
Obama: It's very expensive, which is why the federal government has to view this as an "Apollo Project", not just around coal, but also around solar, around wind and around bio-diesel. We have to have a broad energy mix, and I as president intend to make this one of my number one domestic priorities and to put in the resources needed in order to make it happen.
Lee: So you would be committed to funding clean coal?
Obama: Absolutely. Yes.
Obama shifts stance on environmental issues
By Ken Dilanian, USA TODAY
WASHINGTON — In May 1998, at the urging of the state's coal industry, the Illinois Legislature passed a bill condemning the Kyoto global warming treaty and forbidding state efforts to regulate greenhouse gases.
Barack Obama voted "aye."
The presumptive Democratic presidential nominee now calls climate change "one of the greatest moral challenges of our generation," and proposes cutting carbon emissions 80% by 2050. But as a state senator, from 1997 to 2004, he usually supported bills sought by coal interests, according to legislative records and interviews.
Obama is not the only politician whose public stance has shifted on global warming, which a scientific consensus says has been caused chiefly by the burning of coal, oil and natural gas. Presumptive Republican nominee John McCain, who now backs limits on carbon emissions, was among 95 U.S. senators who voted in 1997 to oppose the Kyoto Protocol, an emissions reduction scheme that had been negotiated by then-vice president Al Gore.
Still, Obama, who touts his independence from special interests, made a point of embracing the coal industry as part of his quest for statewide office. When he ran for U.S. Senate in 2004, he was flanked by mine workers to proclaim that "there's always going to be a role for coal" in Illinois.
"He understands how important coal is to the state of Illinois and to the Midwest," said Illinois state Rep. Dan Reitz, a Democrat and former coal miner who sponsored the anti-Kyoto language and campaigned for Obama during the West Virginia primary.
Employees of coal companies and electric utilities have contributed $539,597 to Obama's U.S. Senate and presidential campaign, according to the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics. McCain, whose energy plan calls for taxpayers to invest $2 billion in "clean coal" research that includes technology to capture carbon emissions, has received $402,365 from coal and utility interests during the same period, since 2004 to the current campaign, according to the center.
Obama and the CIA:
Obama's first job after college was with Business International, which at the very least helped the CIA
Clinton, Quigley, and Conspiracy: What's going on here?
by Daniel Brandt
From NameBase NewsLine, No. 1, April-June 1993
Student leaders James Kunen and Carl Oglesby both report that in the summer of 1968, the organization Business International, which had links to the CIA, sent high-level representatives to meet with SDS. These people wanted to help organize demonstrations for the upcoming conventions in Chicago and Miami. SDS refused the offer, but the experience convinced Oglesby that the ruling class was at war with itself, and he began developing his Yankee-Cowboy theory.
note from oilempire.us: SDS was the Students for a Democratic Society, one of the key anti-war organizations during the War on Viet Nam. A splinter faction of SDS created the "Weathermen," who used violent tactics to protest war. One of the key members of this faction was Bill Ayers, now a neighbor of the Obama family in Chicago. It's not surprising that the Agency sought to infiltrate SDS (and probably did covertly). Obama's alleged leftist credentials were likely just establishing his street credibility. The elites like to control opinion leaders among all political tendencies, it is a mistake to assume they are only interested in right wingers.
The Anti-Empire Report
January 3rd, 2009
by William Blum
The question that may never go away: Who really is Barack Obama?
In his autobiography, "Dreams From My Fathers", Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as "a consulting house to multinational corporations" in New York City, and his functions as a "research assistant" and "financial writer".
The odd part of Obama's story is that he doesn't mention the name of his employer. However, a New York Times story of 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation.10 Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960.11
The British journal, Lobster Magazine – which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters – has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji.12 In 1987, the CIA overthrew the Fiji government after but one month in office because of its policy of maintaining the island as a nuclear-free zone, meaning that American nuclear-powered or nuclear-weapons-carrying ships could not make port calls.13 After the Fiji coup, the candidate supported by Business International, who was much more amenable to Washington's nuclear desires, was reinstated to power – R.S.K. Mara was Prime Minister or President of Fiji from 1970 to 2000, except for the one-month break in 1987.
In his book, not only doesn't Obama mention his employer's name; he fails to say when he worked there, or why he left the job. There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left – including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)14 – it's valid to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.
The Anti-Empire Report
July 3rd, 2012
by William Blum
Barack Obama, his mother, and the CIA
In his autobiography, Dreams From My Fathers, Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as "a consulting house to multinational corporations" in New York City, and his functions as a "research assistant" and "financial writer".
Oddly, Obama doesn't mention the name of his employer. However, a New York Times story of October 30, 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation. Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960.10
The British journal, Lobster — which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters — has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji.11 In 1987, the CIA overthrew the Fiji government after but one month in office because of its policy of maintaining the island as a nuclear-free zone, meaning that American nuclear-powered or nuclear-weapons-carrying ships could not make port calls.12 After the Fiji coup, the candidate supported by Business International, who was much more amenable to Washington's nuclear desires, was reinstated to power — R.S.K. Mara was Prime Minister or President of Fiji from 1970 to 2000, except for the one-month break in 1987.
In his book, not only doesn't Obama mention his employer's name; he fails to say exactly when he worked there, or why he left the job. There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left — including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)13 — it's reasonable to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.
Adding to the wonder is the fact that his mother, Ann Dunham, had been associated during the 1970s and 80s — as employee, consultant, grantee, or student — with at least five organizations with intimate CIA connections during the Cold War: The Ford Foundation, Agency for International Development (AID), the Asia Foundation, Development Alternatives, Inc., and the East-West Center of Hawaii.14 Much of this time she worked as an anthropologist in Indonesia and Hawaii, being in good position to gather intelligence about local communities.
As one example of the CIA connections of these organizations, consider the disclosure by John Gilligan, Director of AID during the Carter administration (1977-81). "At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind."15 And Development Alternatives, Inc. is the organization for whom Alan Gross was working when arrested in Cuba and charged with being part of the ongoing American operation to destabilize the Cuban government.
October 2008 commentary: Smart Empire vs. neo-cons
The 2008 "election" was a choice between Smart Empire and the Iran-Contra veterans, between the Rockefeller Republicans and the neo-cons, between the Council on Foreign Relations (Obama / Biden) and the American Enterprise Institute (McCain), between the old guard of foreign policy and the crazies.
We need better choices than that if we are going to be able to use some of the rest of the oil for relocalization, renewable energy and "power down" strategies to mitigate the end of the age of oil. Unfortunately, we are getting the choice of "smarter empire" versus "Fourth Reich," not a choice of "empire" versus "no empire." Worse, it is obvious that the "voters" are not going to determine the outcome via the ballot boxes, touch screen voting machines and ballot scanners - Presidential elections are rigged in advance by elites who are divided about tactics but not about the goal of US global dominance.
No one should be surprised that immediately after being annointed as the presumptive Democratic candidate for President, Barack Obama went to grovel at a meeting of AIPAC. Afterwards, he probably went to the 2008 Bilderberg meeting in Chantilly, Virginia (a suburb of Washington riddled with intelligence agency installations, notably the National Reconnaissance Office). The circumstantial evidence that he went to Bilderberg shortly after AIPAC is persuasive although not provable to legal standards (but he would be dumb not to have made an appearance given that he was in the neighborhood when their meeting happened).
Two excellent sources for tracking the details of the Presidential Circus are
www.prorev.com - Progressive Review
www.blackagendareport.com - Black Agenda Report
Don't expect me to keep a count of the major party flip flops from now to November. I'm sure there will be many. But, in the end, that's not the important issue to understand. What is more fundamental to understand is this: the other political parties find themselves in this flip-flop predicament because they have to appear to share our values while they serve someone else's.
The Green Party doesn't have to engage in shapeshifting because the Green Party is funded by and belongs to you.
-- Cynthia McKinney, 2008 Green Party candidate for President
As of this writing in early October, it is obvious that Senators Obama and Biden will win the national election - the only real question is whether they will be allowedˆ to win. This writer is guessing that they will be the public personas of the next administration, but we will all know soon enough.
If the team behind Senator McCain and Governor Palin manage to steal another Presidential selection, the environmental consequences would be stark and obvious. Readers of this website are presumably well informed on Republican environmental policies and there is an abundance of reporting about these disasters. However, the Obama and Biden approaches is more complicated and deserves closer examination.
Neither Obama nor Biden have records of prioritizing environmental protection. Obama comes from the world of Chicago politics where ecology is mostly a distant concept. Chicago is a very polluted metropolis and is the most dependent on nuclear power of any place in the country. Biden’s state of Delaware is dominated by the petrochemical industry, particularly the DuPont corporation.
The Obama/Biden team is promoting the illusions of “clean coal” and “safe nuclear power” as ostensible solutions to the energy crisis. Obama has been a strong supporter of the coal mining and burning industry dating to his days as an Illinois State Senator where one of his first votes was for a resolution opposing the Kyoto Treaty. Obama has also taken large donations from Exelon, which operates several nuclear power reactors around Chicago.
Both the Democratic and Republican campaigns are run by strong supporters of highway expansion. In 2005, Senator Obama worked with House Speaker Dennis Hastert to find funding for highways in the outer suburbs of Chicago including the “Prairie Parkway” (which Hastert was a primary supporter of). However, there is a difference between Biden and McCain regarding transportation policy. Biden is a long time Amtrak commuter between his home in Delaware and Washington, D.C., so presumably a Democratic victory would facilitate a substantial improvement in our neglected national train service. In contrast, Senator McCain is a implacable foe of passenger trains, preferring to exclusively subsidize highways and airports. Obama and Biden have an “all of the above” approach to transportation priorities, hoping to fund new superhighways and new trains, although the energy and economic crises mean we will have to choose new interstates or new trains.
Good Cop, Bad Cop and the Destruction of Iraq
Senator Biden's failed Presidential campaign in 2007 was primarily focused on dismembering Iraq as a supposed solution to ethnic conflict between different groups that allegedly was not fueled by the US occupation. This partition would make it much easier for the US to control the oil fields -- and a long term goal is to similarly divide Iran and Saudi Arabia, creating a new country out of eastern Saudi Arabia, southern Iraq and western Iran that would have nearly all of the oil of those three countries. If this new "Arab Shia state" were combined with US allies Kuwait, Bahrain and Qatar, this would give the US control over half of the world's remaining oil reserves. This is not a "failure" of US policy in Iraq, merely an extremely cynical Machiavellian strategy. However, this goal probably would require a President with a better image than George W. Bush to conclude.
Richard Nixon was the most environmental President of the past several decades. He signed most of the major environmental laws: Clean Air, Clean Water, National Environmental Policy Act, Endangered Species, etc. Nixon did not support these laws because he agreed with them, but because there was massive public pressure due to increasing pollution. Regardless of who is in the White House next year, everyone concerned with a livable planet needs to exert maximum efforts to demand accountability, democratic decisions and deep solutions to the ecological crises.
- Obama's first act as Senator, January 2005: voting to confirm fraudulent Ohio electors despite racist disenfranchisement of African American voters, which gave Bush & Cheney a second stolen term
- Obama praises George Bush the First for attacking Iraq (CNN, March 20, 2008)
- Senator Obama's voting record was not liberal
- war criminal advisors
- Obama opposes impeaching Bush & Cheney for their countless crimes
- support from Wall Street financiers
- supports more nuclear power, which is toxic to life
- wants to solve global warming and promotes clean coal - which is oxymoronic
- speech to AIPAC (American Israel Political Action Committee)
- 2007 threat to attack Pakistan
- Democratic Leadership Council (right wing D's) likes Obama
- Obama campaigned for Senator Joseph Lieberman over his liberal challenger Ned Lamont
- Progressive Review analysis
- Black Agenda Review analysis: imperialism with a new face
- Offshore Drilling on a Swift Boat: Geology is More Important than the Politics of Blame
- Hope, Delusion and Evolution how "hope" has been used as a weapon
- Zbignew Brzezinski (Obama's foreign policy advisor)
Hope and wishful thinking
"I am new enough on the national political scene that I serve as a blank screen on which people of vastly different political stripes project their own views."
-- Barack Obama, "The Audacity of Hope"
Inauguration During a Desert Storm
a rainstorm in the desert,
fine dining for starving refugees,
luxury hotels for the homeless?
To feel that the victors
don't want to kill me,
but rather are partially indebted
to my vote and peers.
Or will the desert rain
evaporate, like a mirage, before
the deluge can contact Earth,
thwarted by hot air and broken promises
written January 19, 1993, on the eve of the Clinton - Gore inauguration (while the outgoing Bush the First president was bombing Iraq), but before this writer learned about the Clinton/Bush business ties at Mena, Arkansas.
Inspired, in part, by watching a rainstorm at Canyonlands National Park, Utah, in July 1992 that evaporated half way between the cloud and the ground due to the heat and dryness.
Thoughts on the day after the 2008 electionPeak Oil expert Jan Lundberg suggested a few days before the 2008 Election that President Obama could become the US equivalent of Mikhail Gorbachev, who sought to reform Communism in the Soviet Union but ended up presiding over its dissolution.
Antidote to collapse disorientation: Celebrate a 9% oil-output decline and enjoy the future now
Culture Change Letter #208
by Jan Lundberg
[Political aside: Unless he blows it by letting the wind out of our sails, say by promising to invade Iran, there will probably be partying in the streets when Obama is elected and when he is sworn in to office. And pent up social change may become a runaway train, as Soviet society became under Gorbachev's glasnost and perestroika.]
Michael C. Ruppert suggested before the election that Obama will be an "economic janitor" for the catastrophic economic mess left behind by the Cheney / Bush regime. And it is worth noting that if the economic crisis was not so overtly severe, it is unlikely that Biden and Obama would be the replacement for Cheney and Bush.
The most interesting aspects of Obama becoming President are the obvious symbolic qualities and the large groundswell of public opinion that was part of making this "historic" accomplishment. Nearly the entire planet hoped for an Obama victory over McCain, but it will take more than mere symbolism for the rest of the world to relax about the US empire -- imperial policies need to be replaced by compassion and cooperation, and this goal will be much more difficult than merely electing an African-American president.
What If Bush Did It?
by Chris Floyd
Can We Talk About The Real Obama Now?
by Sam Smith
SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 08, 2008
My Barack Pages
by Jeff Wells, Rigorous Intuition
Clinton might have curried the Deep State's favour in Mena, but it withheld its deeper secrets from him and his Arkansas capo as from middle managers just passing through without a legitimate need to know. (The seeming otherworldliness of the Bush/Cheney years is largely accounted for by the broad, intuitive dread that Cheney knows.) Obama doesn't even display Clinton's idle curiosity, though he and his Chicago Mafia do show some of his hubris. Should he change in office, and light a lamp in America's shuttered rooms, he may feel the Earth take a half turn backwards, while its true rulers decide what to do with him.
REFLECTIONS ON REFLECTIONS
Obama: return to elite status quo
By Larry Chin
Online Journal Associate Editor
Nov 7, 2008
The reality of the continuing global crisis -- and Obama’s role as its latest figurehead -- demands even more astute opposition, even more aggressive demands for justice, and a redoubled effort to end war and imperial criminality.
Those who opposed Bush-Cheney must now refuse to drink the Obama Kool-Aid, and face the new challenge of battling a retrenched empire, a newly pacified population, and a naïve, hopeful and easily manipulated population that will be lost in even thicker denial; one that believes that “the bad guys are gone,” the worst is over, and that its salvation has been delivered.
November 05, 2008
Green Party Presidential Candidate Cynthia McKinney Responds to Obama Win
AMY GOODMAN: We only have a minute, but I wanted to—we only have a minute, but I wanted to ask Manning Marable, a big supporter of Barack Obama, how you feel about what Cynthia said and what she represents and Barack Obama did not.
MANNING MARABLE: I think Cynthia McKinney has shown throughout her entire career the kind of courageous leadership and progressive vision that we desperately need in America’s political system, that we shouldn’t be surprised that the left of the possible within the political system that we have in this country produces a progressive liberal like Barack Obama.
It is a breakthrough, in terms of Obama being the first African American, the first person of color, being the nation’s chief executive. But it still falls short of the kind of politics that Cynthia embodies, that I also share, that this is not—Obama’s victory is a victory over racism, but it is not a victory of the left. And progressives will be—have to challenge the Obama administration on all of these issues.
November 5, 2008
The Rebooting of America, 2008
By MICHAEL DONNELLY
... all this stuff about who are the “real Americans” is a deadly cancer that must be excised from the body politic; banned from use as a wedge by ambitious, conscienceless elitists of any political or religious persuasion or ethnic background.
So, yeah, that part of it and the prospect of more to come – four years of such attacks on Obama (making their endless attacks on Bill Clinton seem like childplay) was and will be insufferable. But, unlike the liberal Dems as a whole, Obama has proven he can stand up to bullies; i.e. Bill Clinton. It’s one of his best traits. And, I’m more than ready for the end of 216 years of white, male presidents.
There will be plenty of legitimate reasons to oppose Obamian policies without suffering through any more malignant, Rovian crap. And oppose Obama we will; on justifiable grounds; whenever necessary. He is, after all, an Imperial President-elect now.
Holding Obama Accountable from “Day One”
We’ll know soon enough how hard we’ll have to fight bad Obama policy. Even before Inauguration Day, we’ll know. Who Obama picks for his “team” will be all-telling. At first, I was offended at Obama’s calling out the Baby Boomers as a whole, not just the sorry lot of politicians my generation has produced. If President Obama fails to break completely with the narcissistic Baby Boomer politicians; we’ll know. If he keeps Gates at Defense or appoints Powell in his place; we’ll know. If he recycles Gore’s ghost writer and greenwasher-in-chief Katy McGinty at Interior; we’ll know. If he anoints Gore, himself, as some sort of Climate Change Czar; we’ll know. If he puts Zbiggy or Kerry at State; we’ll know. (Though, I would certainly enjoy the howls from the Right should he appoint Hillary or Bill Richardson as Attorney General.)
We’ll know soon enough if he intends to take on the prison-industrial complex; end the War on Drugs and stand down the private, mercenary armies like Blackwater.
How Obama will deal with the contraction of the Empire will also be quickly known. As Bill Bennett, of all folks has written, the Empire is an “extravagance” that we must stand down. If a plan to retreat from our 700 – 1000 overseas military installations isn’t developed soon, the country will be rapidly bankrupt and Obama will be a one-termer, for certain. The economic havoc wrought by not abolishing the empire will destroy any chance of gaining Universal Health Care like the civilized Democracies. Gone also will be any chance of a public works program to rebuild infrastructure.
WIBDI: A Prism for the New Paradigm
WRITTEN BY CHRIS FLOYD
As the United States enters a new and unprecedented political era -- or, as killjoy cynics would have it, as the American empire gets a new set of temporary managers -- the fate of the "dissident" movement that arose under the Bush Regime seems greatly occluded. So many of those who set out their stalls as bold outsiders "speaking truth to power" now find themselves on the inside, enthralled by power, speaking for power, as it is personified by President-elect Barack Obama -- who, ironically, has consistently repudiated many of the tenets and principles that provoked the dissidents' outrage in the first place.
I have always disliked this phrase "speaking truth to power" (although I'm sure I've lazily employed it myself on several occasions). No one needs to speak truth to power: power knows the truth well enough, it knows what it is doing, and to whom, and why. What we need, most desperately, are people who will speak truth about power, and speak it to people who might not have heard that truth through the howling cacophony of media diversion, corporate spin and political manipulation.
So for those of dissident bent who would still like to speak truth about power -- and who are not sending their CVs to the Obama transition team or signing on as happy warriors to defend the new imperial managers from revenge attacks by bitter partisans of the ousted faction -- the question of how best to comport oneself in this brave new world takes on some urgency. In this regard, we would like to suggest the following conceptual framework for analyzing and understanding the moral, ethical, social, economic and legal implications of the policies and actions of the coming administration. (And it even comes with its own handy acronym!):
"WIBDI: What If Bush Did It?"
This user-friendly analytical tool provides a quick and easy way of determining the value of any given policy while correcting one's perception for partisan bias. Simply take a particular action or proposal and submit it to the WIBDI test: If Bush did this, would you think it was OK? Or would you condemn it as the act of a warmonger, or a tyrant, or a corrupt corporate tool, etc.?
WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 5
CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE REAL OBAMA NOW?
Commentary from OilEmpire.US
March 27, 2008
Obama’s meteoric rise to front-runner status is partially due to the psychology of projection - wishful thinking that he supports ideals that a majority wants after the countless abuses of the past seven years (and past seven decades). But there’s a Grand Canyon sized gap between the rhetoric and the reality.
Obama's baptism in the Senate was to endorse the racist disenfranchisement of the African American voters of Ohio. On January 6, 2005, only one Senator, Barbara Boxer of California, voted against seating the fraudulent Electors from Ohio -- which gave Bush and Cheney a second stolen term. If Obama had stood with the Congressional Black Caucus and Dennis Kucinich, who voted against this fraud, the media and other elites would not be supporting his Presidential campaign.
Obama has never run a real campaign against a Republican -- his State Senate district in Chicago was almost entirely Democrats, and his one and only campaign for the Senate was against Alan Keyes, a lunatic carpetbagger who has now deserted the Republican Party for the "Constitution Party" (an entity that looks forward to the scenario of Margaret Atwood's novel The Handmaid's Tale).
Obama says he wants to stop global warming (as if that goal is physically possible at this late date) and also supports an increase in coal mining.
Obama has voted repeatedly to fund the War on Iraq. Obama’s chief foreign policy advisor is Zbigniew Brzezinski, who crafted previous plans for the Peak Oil Wars when he helped design the Rapid Deployment Force in the late 1970s (now called Central Command, the military command that attacked Iraq). Brzezinski’s 1997 book “The Grand Chessboard” helped lay the foundation for the current imperial atrocities, predicting that "as America becomes an increasingly multicultural society, it may find it more difficult to fashion a consensus on foreign policy issues, except in the circumstance of a truly massive and widely perceived direct external threat."
If Senator Obama is allowed to become President of the Oil Empire, look for US intervention in Africa to increase dramatically. The cover of the new "War on Terror" will be used to mask the grab for African oil and minerals. This is probably the real goal of the recently created AFRICOM military command.
It is likely that Obama is just playing the role of pretending that Hillary has not already been pre-selected. But if Plan B materializes, and Obama becomes the nominee of the Democratic Party, that would suit most of the elites fine. Obama, like Hillary, has war criminal advisors, is backed by Wall Street, favors more coal mining and nuclear power, and supports the most reactionary parts of the Democratic Party (Obama campaigned for the odious Senator Lieberman over his more liberal challenger Ned Lamont).
Listening to the Obama rhetoric shows the speeches to be largely empty slogans that do not suggest the positions that the Senator would have (or would be forced to have) if somehow he makes it to the White Man's House on January 20, 2009.
The Progressive Review notes that Obama is like Chauncey Gardiner is the subtle parody "BEING THERE" (movie with Peter Sellers). Everyone projected onto Chauncey what they wanted to see, rather than what was.
Few Obama supporters want to think about why Obama campaigned for the hideous Joe Lieberman over Ned Lamont, or the fact that Obama is on record suggesting extending the wars to Pakistan might be a good thing.
The only question is are the elites backing him because his policies are almost identical to Colin Powell's, or because he is the designated fall guy to let the R's stay in the White Man's House?
Heads they win, tails we lose.
August 14, 2008
Master Plan or Screw Up? Georgia and U.S. Strategy
By MIKE WHITNEY
Brzezinski is not only the architect of the mujahadin-led campaign against Russia in Afghanistan in the 1980s, but also, the author of "The Grand Chessboard--American Primacy and its Geostrategic Imperatives", the operating theory behind “the war on terror” which involves massive US intervention in Central Asia to control vital resources, fragment Russia, and surround manufacturing giant, China.
"The Grand Chessboard" is the 21st century's version of the Great Game. The book begins with this revealing statement:
"Ever since the continents started interacting politically, some five hundred years ago, Eurasia has been the center of world power.....The key to controlling Eurasia is controlling the Central Asian Republics."
This is the heart-and-soul of the war on terror. The real braintrust behind "never-ending conflict" was actually focussed on Central Asia. It was the pro-Israeli crowd in the Republican Party that pulled the old switcheroo and refocussed on the Middle East rather than Eurasia. Now, powerful members of the US foreign policy establishment (Brzezinski, Albright, Holbrooke) have regrouped behind the populist "cardboard" presidential candidate Barack Obama and are preparing to redirect America's war efforts to the Asian theater. Obama offers voters a choice of wars not a choice against war.
a small quibble - one reason for the "switcheroo" mentioned below is that Iraq turned out to have more oil than the Caspian Sea basin in the central Asian former Soviet republics. The Caspian has enough oil to justify new pipelines such as "BTC" through Georgia, but it's not another Middle East (as was hoped for in the late 1990s).
Obama praises George HW Bush's 1991 war on Iraq
Note: the first Bush war on Iraq resulted in an estimated 200 to 300 thousand slaughters, mostly of Iraqi conscripts and lots of civilians. The first Bush baited Iraq to invade Kuwait (telling Saddam that the US didn't have a position on "Arab / Arab" borders, even while Saddam had troops massed on the border). When Iraq invaded Kuwait, the Central Command was in the middle of a war game exercise simulating Iraq invading Kuwait. The Desert Storm massacre helped ensure that the military budget would not be substantially reduced to generate a "peace dividend."
Central Command (Centcom) is the successor to the Rapid Deployment Force, a military structure created by the Carter administration to increase the ability of the US to seize the Persian / Arabian Gulf oil fields. The architect of the Rapid Deployment Force - Zbigniew Brzezinski - is Obama's chief foreign policy advisor.
CNN LARRY KING LIVE
Sen. Barack Obama Speaks Out on the Iraq War, Race, Hillary Clinton and Pastor Jeremiah Wright
Aired March 20, 2008 - 21:00 ET
KING: A couple of quick things, Senator. Would you, in your administration, make use of Bill Clinton?
OBAMA: Absolutely. I think that, you know, Bill Clinton is a brilliant statesman and politician, and I think that any president would want to use his skills and his relationships around the world.
By the way, I would reach out to the first George Bush. You know, one of the things that I think George H.W. Bush doesn't get enough credit for was his foreign policy team and the way that he helped negotiate the end of the Cold War and prosecuted the Gulf War. That cost us 20 billion dollars. That's all it cost. It was extremely successful. I think there were a lot of very wise people. So I want a bipartisan team that can help to provide me good advice and counsel when I'm president of the United States.
Obama supports keeping troops in Iraq, voted as Senator to fund war
Jeremy Scahill: Despite Antiwar Rhetoric, Clinton-Obama Plans Would Keep US Mercenaries, Troops in Iraq for Years to Come
Jeremy Scahill reports Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will not "rule out" using private military companies like Blackwater Worldwide in Iraq. Obama also has no plans to sign on to legislation that seeks to ban the use of these forces in US war zones by January 2009. Despite their antiwar rhetoric, both Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton have adopted the congressional Democratic position that would leave open the option of keeping tens of thousands of US troops in Iraq for many years.
Obama: Plan B for the elites
Obama has only shown his eager willingness to please -- not buck -- elite consensus.
Obama has been tapped by the elite, just look at who his advisers are and how much money is pouring in to his campaign from Wall St. Elites will be fine with a President Obama. However I still believe Obama is the perfect straw man to give the Whitehouse back to a McCain run Republican Party.
-- Michael Kane, Thu, 21 Feb 2008
(Kane was a staff writer for FromTheWilderness.com)
US political establishment lines up behind Barack Obama
By Patrick Martin
4 February 2008
All the Baggage, None of the Charm
By Daniel Patrick Welch
Created Jan 26 2008 - 10:16pm
I should start with full disclaimer: The only Democratic candidate I hold in lower esteem than Hilary Clinton might be Barack Obama. This is not a pro-Obama piece. In a recent argument with a potential Clinton voter who accepted the critique of Obama but rejected it for Clinton, I reminded my interlocutor that they were, in fact, the same candidate: twin cheeks on the same fat corporate ass, as it were. So why do I care that the HillBilly Machine got so roundly trounced in South Carolina?
In the first place, with no discussion of any substance anywhere in the current "debate," the only genuine emotion left is the bookie’s adrenaline rush, which from a distance amounts to a sort of minor high on some vague perception that the good guys won or the bad guys lost.
South Carolina seems to be the race where the mud gets slung, viz the repulsive re-torture of John McCain by Karl Rove’s machine in 2000 to Clinton 42’s shameless patronizing this week. I would call it the mud race, but in a state so officially racist that it still flies the confederate flag it would certainly be twisted. Hillary--let’s call her Clinton 44 with a question mark--tried to flee the state and let 42 do her dirty work. Nice try, Hil. The only thing as ugly as seeing Slick Willie get pounced on by the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy is the underlying slickness of the Willie itself--or himself.
Mr. Obama Goes to Washington
By David Sirota
The Nation - 6/7/06
He seems like everything to everybody, which is not necessarily his fault. Much of the media coverage of Obama has been personality focused, as the story of the son of a Kenyan and a Kansan, the third African-American senator since Reconstruction. Because the media have not looked as closely at his political positions, Obama has taken on the quality of a blank screen on which people can project whatever they like. But he hasn’t discouraged this. A masterful politician, Obama has a Bill Clinton-esque talent for maximizing that screen and appearing comfortable in almost any setting. And, like Clinton, Obama has an impressive control of the issues and a mesmerizing ability to connect with people. ....
Just as Ned Lamont’s antiwar primary campaign against prowar Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman was gaining momentum, Obama traveled to the state to endorse Lieberman. Like the Duckworth endorsement, Obama’s move was timed to derail an insurgent, grassroots candidate. To progressives this may seem surprising, given Obama’s progressive image. But remember, according to the New York Times it is Lieberman–one of the most conservative, prowar Democrats in Washington–who is “Obama’s mentor in the Senate as part of a program in which freshman senators are paired with incumbents.” ....
he appears to be interested in fighting only for those changes that fit within the existing boundaries of what’s considered mainstream in Washington, instead of using his platform to redefine those boundaries. This posture comes even as polls consistently show that Washington’s definition of mainstream is divorced from the rest of the country’s (for example, politicians’ refusal to debate the war even as polls show that Americans want the troops home).
Obama’s deference to these boundaries was hammered home to me when our discussion touched on the late Senator Paul Wellstone. Obama said the progressive champion was “magnificent.” He also gently but dismissively labeled Wellstone as merely a “gadfly,” in a tone laced with contempt for the senator who, for instance, almost single-handedly prevented passage of the bankruptcy bill for years over the objections of both parties. This clarified Obama’s support for the Hamilton Project, an organization formed by Citigroup chair Robert Rubin and other Wall Street Democrats to fight back against growing populist outrage within the party. And I understood why Beltway publications and think tanks have heaped praise on Obama and want him to run for President. It’s because he has shown a rare ability to mix charisma and deference to the establishment.
LETTERS IN THE EDITOR’S MAILBAG
Published: April 5, 2008
Candidates rarely write speeches
I was just reading all the recent letters and am amazed at all the people who saw Barack Obama in Eugene and how they think he is so wonderful because of what he said in his speech and all the other speeches he has made.
Do they all realize that these speeches the candidates and all other politicians make are not even written by them? They are written by speechwriters who write what the people want to hear.
If you think the speeches are so inspiring, maybe you should elect the speechwriter, not the politician saying the words. Anyone can say inspiring words, but how many politicians can anyone remember actually doing what they said they would do after they got elected?
Not many, if any, because they have forgotten exactly what it was the speechwriter said they would do after being elected. Or, it wasn’t really their plan in the first place, but it sounded good in the speech.
War Criminal advisors
January 03, 2008
Vote for Change? Atrocity-Linked U.S. Officials Advising Democratic, GOP Presidential Frontrunners
Independent journalist Allan Nairn and American Conservative correspondent Kelley Beaucar Vlahos discuss a little-addressed facet of the 2008 campaign: many of the top advisers to leading presidential candidates are ex-U.S. officials involved in atrocities around the world.
ALLAN NAIRN: Well, Obama’s top adviser is Zbigniew Brzezinski. Brzezinski gave an interview to the French press a number of years ago where he boasted about the fact that it was he who created the whole Afghan jihadi movement, the movement that produced Osama bin Laden. And he was asked by the interviewer, “Well, don’t you think this might have had some bad consequences?” And Brzezinski replied, “Absolutely not. It was definitely worth it, because we were going after the Soviets. We were getting the Soviets.” Another top Obama person--
AMY GOODMAN: I think his comment actually was, “What’s a few riled-up Muslims?” And this, that whole idea of blowback, the idea of arming, financing, training the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to fight the Soviets, including Osama bin Laden, and then when they’re done with the Soviets, they set their sights, well, on the United States.
ALLAN NAIRN: Right. And later, during Bill Clinton’s administration, during the Bosnia killing, the US actually flew some of the Afghan Mujahideen, the early al-Qaeda people--the US actually arranged for them to be flown from there to Bosnia to fight on the Muslim/NATO side.
Another key Obama adviser, Anthony Lake, he was the main force behind the US invasion of Haiti in the mid-Clinton years during which they brought back Aristide essentially in political chains, pledged to support a World Bank/IMF overhaul of the economy, which resulted in an increase in malnutrition deaths among Haitians and set the stage for the current ongoing political disaster in Haiti.
Another Obama adviser, General Merrill McPeak, an Air Force man, who not long after the Dili massacre in East Timor in ’91 that you and I survived, he was--I happened to see on Indonesian TV shortly after that--there was General McPeak overseeing the delivery to Indonesia of US fighter planes.
Another key Obama adviser, Dennis Ross. Ross, for many years under both Clinton and Bush 2, a key--he has advised Clinton and both Bushes. He oversaw US policy toward Israel/Palestine. He pushed the principle that the legal rights of the Palestinians, the rights recognized under international law, must be subordinated to the needs of the Israeli government--in other words, their desires, their desires to expand to do whatever they want in the Occupied Territories. And Ross was one of the people who, interestingly, led the political assault on former Democratic President Jimmy Carter. Carter, no peacenik--I mean, Carter is the one who bears ultimate responsibility for that Timor terror that Holbrooke was involved in. But Ross led an assault on him, because, regarding Palestine, Carter was so bold as to agree with Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa that what Israel was doing in the Occupied Territories was tantamount to apartheid. And so, Ross was one of those who fiercely attacked him.
Another Obama adviser, Sarah Sewall, who heads a human rights center at Harvard and is a former Defense official, she wrote the introduction to General Petraeus’s Marine Corps/Army counterinsurgency handbook, the handbook that is now being used worldwide by US troops in various killing operations. That’s the Obama team.
Obama's voting record in Congress
MONDAY, JANUARY 07, 2008
Just some of his votes compiled by creativeyouth.net
1/06/05: Obama voted for Bush's Ohio electors. Roll Call 1
1/26/05: Obama voted to confirm Condoleezza Rice for Secretary of State. Rice was largely responsible for 9/11, the Iraq War, threats of war against Iran, Syria,Venezuela and other nations. and for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent victims in unnecessary wars of her making. Roll call 2
2/15/05: Obama voted to confirm Michael Chertoff, a proponent of water-board torture, an individual connected to the financing of 9/11 and the man behind the round-up of thousands of people of Middle-Eastern descent following 9/11.
4/21/05: Obama voted to make John "Death Squad" Negroponte the National Intelligence Director. In Central America, John Negroponte was connected to death squads that murdered nuns and children in sizable quantities. He is suspected of instigating death squads while in Iraq, resulting in the current insurgency. Instead of calling for Negroponte's prosecution, Obama rewarded him by making him National Intelligence Director.
7/01/05: Obama voted for H.R. 2419, termed "The Nuclear Bill" by environmental and peace groups. It provided billions for nuclear weapons activities, including nuclear bunker buster bombs. It contains full funding for Yucca Mountain, a threat to food and water in California, Nevada, Arizona and states across America.. Roll call 172 [W]
11/15/05: Obama voted for continued war, again. Roll call 326 was the vote on the Defense Authorization Act (S1042) which kept the war and war profiteering alive, restricted the right of habeas corpus and encouraged terrorism.
2/2/06: Obama voted to extend the USA-PATRIOT's attack on the Constitution for five weeks to allow Congress time to put together the support to adopt the renewal of USA-PATRIOT. Roll call 11
6/13/06: Obama voted to commend the armed services for a bombing that killed innocent people and children and reportedly resulted in the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a person unlikely ever to have existed and who was reported killed three times previously. Michael Berg, whose son was reportedly killed by al-Zarqawi, condemned the attack and expressed sorrow over the innocent people and children killed in the bombing that Obama commended. Roll call 168 [W]
6/22/06: Obama voted against withdrawing the troops by opposing the Kerry Amendment (S. Amdt 4442 to S 2766) to the National Defense Authorization Act. The amendment, which was rejected, would have brought our troops home, ended the fighting and forced the Iraqi people to take charge of their security. Roll Call 181 [W]
Obama's voting record in 2007 establishes that he continues to be pro-war. On March 28, 2007 and March 29th, 2007, he voted for cloture and passage of a bill designed to give Bush over $120 billion to continue the occupation for years to come (with a suspendable time table) and inclusive of funding that could be used to launch a war with Iran.
Gee, not a very promising picture -of course better than the majority of the other candidates except for.......... Need any more reasons to support Kucinich? Really want change?
SUNDAY, MARCH 2, 2008
THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW ABOUT OBAMA
[Matt Gonzales is running with Ralph Nader as an independent vice presidential candidate. From an article in Counterpunch]
CLASS ACTION REFORM: In 2005, Obama joined Republicans in passing a law dubiously called the Class Action Fairness Act that would shut down state courts as a venue to hear many class action lawsuits. Long a desired objective of large corporations and President George Bush, Obama in effect voted to deny redress in many of the courts where these kinds of cases have the best chance of surviving corporate legal challenges. Instead, it forces them into the backlogged Republican-judge dominated federal courts. By contrast, Senators Clinton, Edwards and Kerry joined 23 others to vote against CAFA, noting the "reform" was a thinly-veiled "special interest extravaganza" that favored banking, creditors and other corporate interests. . .
CREDIT CARD INTEREST RATES: Obama has a way of ducking hard votes or explaining away his bad votes by trying to blame poorly-written statutes. Case in point: an amendment he voted on as part of a recent bankruptcy bill before the US Senate would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. Inexplicably, Obama voted against it, although it would have been the beginning of setting these predatory lending rates under federal control. Even Senator Hillary Clinton supported it. Now Obama explains his vote by saying the amendment was poorly written or set the ceiling too high. His explanation isn't credible as Obama offered no lower number as an alternative, and didn't put forward his own amendment clarifying whatever language he found objectionable.
LIMITING NON-ECONOMIC DAMAGES: These seemingly unusual votes wherein Obama aligns himself with Republican Party interests aren't new. While in the Illinois Senate, Obama voted to limit the recovery that victims of medical malpractice could obtain through the courts. Capping non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases means a victim cannot fully recover for pain and suffering or for punitive damages. Moreover, it ignored that courts were already empowered to adjust awards when appropriate, and that the Illinois Supreme Court had previously ruled such limits on tort reform violated the state constitution. . .
MINING LAW OF 1872: In November 2007, Obama came out against a bill that would have reformed the notorious Mining Law of 1872. The current statute, signed into law by Ulysses Grant, allows mining companies to pay a nominal fee, as little as $2.50 an acre, to mine for hardrock minerals like gold, silver, and copper without paying royalties. . . The Hardrock Mining and Reclamation Act of 2007 would have finally overhauled the law and allowed American taxpayers to reap part of the royalties. . . Later it came to light that one of Obama's key advisors in Nevada is a Nevada-based lobbyist in the employ of various mining companies
ENERGY POLICY: On energy policy, it turns out Obama is a big supporter of corn-based ethanol which is well known for being an energy-intensive crop to grow. It is estimated that seven barrels of oil are required to produce eight barrels of corn ethanol, according to research by the Cato Institute. Ethanol's impact on climate change is nominal and isn't "green" according to Alisa Gravitz, Co-op America executive director. "It simply isn't a major improvement over gasoline when it comes to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions." . . . Obama voted in favor of $8 billion worth of corn subsidies in 2006 alone, when most of that money should have been committed to alternative energy sources such as solar, tidal and wind.
SINGLE-PAYER HEALTH CARE: Obama opposed single-payer bill HR676, sponsored by Congressmen Dennis Kucinich and John Conyers in 2006, although at least 75 members of Congress supported it. . . Obama's own plan has been widely criticized for leaving health care industry administrative costs in place and for allowing millions of people to remain uninsured. "Sicko" filmmaker Michael Moore ridiculed it saying, "Obama wants the insurance companies to help us develop a new health care plan-the same companies who have created the mess in the first place."
NORTH AMERICAN FREE TRADE AGREEMENT: Regarding the North American Free Trade Agreement, Obama recently boasted, "I don't think NAFTA has been good for Americans, and I never have." Yet, Calvin Woodward reviewed Obama's record on NAFTA in a February 26, 2008 Associated Press article and found that comment to be misleading: "In his 2004 Senate campaign, Obama said the US should pursue more deals such as NAFTA, and argued more broadly that his opponent's call for tariffs would spark a trade war. AP reported then that the Illinois senator had spoken of enormous benefits having accrued to his state from NAFTA, while adding that he also called for more aggressive trade protections for US workers.". . . Obama cast the deciding vote against an amendment to a September 2005 Commerce Appropriations Bill, proposed by North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan, that would have prohibited US trade negotiators from weakening US laws that provide safeguards from unfair foreign trade practices
SOME FINAL EXAMPLES: On March 2, 2007 Obama gave a speech at AIPAC, America's pro-Israeli government lobby, wherein he disavowed his previous support for the plight of the Palestinians. . .
He wouldn't have his picture taken with San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom when visiting San Francisco for a fundraiser in his honor because Obama was scared voters might think he supports gay marriage . . .
Obama acknowledges the disproportionate impact the death penalty has on blacks, but still supports it, while other politicians are fighting to stop it. . .
Obama aggressively opposed initiating impeachment proceedings against the president and he wouldn't even support Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold's effort to censure the Bush administration for illegally wiretapping American citizens in violation of the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. . .
Progressive Review, 2008
WHERE CHANGE REALLY COMES FROM
by Sam Smith
One of the reasons that change is so hard to come by these days is that the things that make it happen have increasingly been forgotten, replaced, dismissed or ignored. .Just as urban migrations have caused tens of millions to lose simple but critical skills of rural survival, so the tens of millions of Americans who have migrated into the purported sophistication of post-modern politics have left behind many of the habits, technique and skills that created democracy in the first place and then sustained it.
Who needs community when you have television commercials and the Internet? Who needs serious conversation when you have tracking polls? Who needs the grass roots when you can afford to lay Astroturf anywhere you want? Who needs local organizing when you have huge national groups that can raise more money in a few days than a nation of precincts once could have in a whole year? Who needs the skills of a community organizer when you can go to the Harvard Business School?
Except for one problem: the corporate based system that has seized control of our politics lacks the interest, imagination, integrity, capacity and soul to produce positive change. Whatever the sign on the side of the political machine says, whatever the TV commercial claims, how ever many times the candidates chant the word "change," we have, in fact, systematically been destroying the means by which we once achieved what it is we say we want.
.... we have change reduced to a matter of simple iconography. In the 2008 campaign, for many a choice of a woman or a black was considered change enough. The rest would take care of itself.
Of course, it never does, in no small part because the bad guys fully understand that politics is about real things, not cuddly symbols. And well before Inauguration Day they are on the case, cutting the deals, writing the legislation, and passing the bucks.
THE TIMIDITY OF HOPE
FRIDAY, JANUARY 4, 2008
IDOLS AND PRESIDENTS
THE COUNTRY badly needs a decent president but Iowa voters went to their caucuses and selected instead two preachers, one ordained, the other self-anointed and both successful manipulators of cheap cliches purportedly leading us, in one case, to Christ and, in the other, to hope and change.
Monday, February 11
OBAMA: WHY CHEERING IS BAD FOR YOUR HEALTH
Two essential facts about the presidential campaign:
1. Of the present candidates who could possibly be elected, Barack Obama is clearly the best.
2. This is more cause for concern than for hope.
Symbolizing the new Middle Ages in which we live - in which thought and action are guided by media-driven myth (as opposed to the church-driven myth of the earlier medieval era) - Obama has arrived at his status without record, without programs and without a vision beyond a collection of trite but effective evangelical cliches. He is, however, of the right mythical looks, age and color.
Early in the campaign, I compared him to Chauncy Gardiner aka Chance the Gardener, an earlier manifestation of magnificent nothingness to appear on the American political scene - albeit the fiction of Chance was safely contained in the movie "Being There" while Obama was running for election to a real White House.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 2008
I am already in trouble for not being sufficiently enthusiastic about Barack Obama and the dude hasn't even been nominated yet.
I even wrote that he was the best candidate who could possibly win, albeit adding that this was more cause for concern than for joy.
But the days when you took someone's vote and didn't ask too many questions are apparently over. In modern liberalism, you not only have to be on the right side but for the right reasons.
And so now, according to one blog, I am "excoriating Barack Obama" and full of "fear and loathing." Another reader writes to say, "you nay-sayers can either get on the train or get out of the way." Even two-thirds of my immediate family is on my case.
Yet before I am dragged off to my first Skeptics Anonymous meeting, let me try to explain why I haven't turned to Barack with appropriate enthusiasm and faith.
Just writing that seems silly. After all, until now even missionaries understood that it was their job to convert and not the heathens' task to justify their apathy and doubt.
On the other hand, I have been through this before. It wasn't long after I began writing critically of Bill Clinton that I became a "Clinton hater," a marvelous piece of snake oil semiotics in which the Clintonistas claimed the status of oppressed peoples while his opponents were dumped amongst the ranks of anti-Semites and the KKK.
One of the few pleasures of the last eight years, despite regularly excoriating the Bush regime, has been that no one has called me a "hater." In fact, in fifty years of journalism, Clinton is apparently the only politician I have ever "hated." The rest I have just criticized or exposed. I thought I was doing the same thing with Clinton but then I didn't yet understand post-modern politics.
All along, I just thought I was doing my job, serving my readers instead of power, the latter being the preferred cause of the more conventional media which has never understood the difference between objectivity and obsequiousness. Twenty years ago, I put it this way:
"The preoccupation of the press with power, in no small part, is a reflection of its own social ambitions rather than an accurate description of the world. The erstwhile dictum that the only way for a journalist to look at a politician is down his nose has been replaced by the dictum: don't bite the source that feeds and glamorizes you."
By the way, the politician the press was protecting then was named Ronald Reagan. Its love of power is quite non-partisan and the reader has become its non-partisan victim.
Then there's the problem of policy. I call it life but apparently the correct word is policy. In pro-Obama writings you find a dismissive approach towards "policies" as though they were nice things as long as hidden away in statements or for fellows at the Brookings Institution, but not the real - like enthusiasm, hope and faith.
Here's where I fail again. I actually think providing Americans with decent healthcare and housing and ending usurious interest rates is more important than having a nice president talking with enthusiasm about hope and faith.
Where did I pick up this odd idea? From the Democratic Party, which from Roosevelt to Lyndon Johnson had it as a central thesis. Which is why we have a minimum wage, Medicare, Social Security and some modicum of control over banks and investment firms. Social Security once symbolized real hope to Americans. Now Obama symbolizes hope and, according to him, everything about Social Security is "on the table."
Sadly, for anyone under 35 there has hardly been a measure passed in their lifetime that would give much credibility to "policies." But it is possible. Consider what that evil man Richard Nixon did. He proposed a healthcare plan to the left of either Obama or Clinton. This plan included a provision in which any American could sign up for Medicaid paying on a sliding income scale. He indexed Social Security for inflation, created the Environmental Protection Agency and OSHA as well as the first real federal affirmative action program. If a guy as bad as Nixon could do all that, shouldn't we expect a bit more from the sainted Barack Obama?
Then there's the politics of the situation. In the old Democratic Party, liberals instinctively understood they were fighting a two front war: one front against the Republicans and the other against the bad guys in their own party: George Wallace, Strom Thurmond, Carmine DeSapio, Richard Daley etc. With Clinton, the liberal wing of the party became gutless puppets of the Democratic Abandonship Council.
Compare that with the Republicans who reached their modern pinnacle in a state of constant internal conflict that goes on to this day. It is interesting to speculate on whether liberals, if they had been as assertive within their own party as the GOP right, might not have had similar results.
One other thing: I suffer from the delusion that if I want words put together well I should go to a bookstore and not to a political speech. As George Orwell noted, "in our time, political speech and writing are largely the defense of the indefensible. Thus political language has to consist largely of euphemisms, question-begging and sheer cloudy vagueness."
In one debate, for example, Obama and Clinton spent a half hour on healthcare and no one noticed that their entire purpose was to defend programs designed to protect the useless and destructive private insurance industry. I would feel quite differently about Obama's language if he used the words "single payer" as often as he does "hope."
Finally, if they insist on talking about hope, I've got the Obamists beat. My optimism far exceeds theirs because I truly believe we could have done better than Barack Obama. And still can some day.
8:30 AM 5 comments
At February 14, 2008 9:32 AM, Anonymous said...
Well said Sam. Once upon-a-time, non-electoralists like myself found ourselves arguing with politicians about means not ends. Now, however, it is arguing with true-believers about their faith and at that point everyone is a prosperity-gospel ostrich.
At February 14, 2008 9:56 AM, John said...
Thanks so much Sam. That was really invigorating. I especially like the line about us being the real optimists-it the Obamaite who have resigned themselves to the least-worst.
By the way, it appears the Obama's Chief Economic Advisor Goolsbee who made a phantom appearance on the comments section of this site (!), is in fact the chief economist of the [Democratic Leadership Council] DLC.
So next time the Obamaites try to deny their ties to the DLC, try bringing that up.
Also, for what it's worth, he's Skull and Bones.
If you liked the War on Iraq, you'll love the War on Pakistan
Obama might send troops into Pakistan
By NEDRA PICKLER, Associated Press Writer
Wed Aug 1, 8:22 AM ET
WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said Wednesday that he would possibly send troops into Pakistan to hunt down terrorists, an attempt to show strength when his chief rival has described his foreign policy skills as naive.
The Illinois senator warned Pakistani President Gen. Pervez Musharraf that he must do more to shut down terrorist operations in his country and evict foreign fighters under an Obama presidency, or Pakistan will risk a U.S. troop invasion and losing hundreds of millions of dollars in U.S. military aid.
"Let me make this clear," Obama said in a speech prepared for delivery at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. "There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al-Qaida leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will."
The excerpts were provided by the Obama campaign in advance of the speech.
Obama's speech comes the week after his rivalry with New York Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton erupted into a public fight over their diplomatic intentions.
Obama said he would be willing to meet leaders of rogue states like Cuba, North Korea and Iran without conditions, an idea that Clinton criticized as irresponsible and naive. Obama responded by using the same words to describe Clinton's vote to authorize the Iraq war and called her "Bush-Cheney lite."
The speech was a condemnation of President Bush's leadership in the war on terror. He said the focus on Iraq has left Americans in more danger than before Sept. 11, 2001, and that Bush has misrepresented the enemy as Iraqis who are fighting a civil war instead of the terrorists responsible for the attacks six years ago.
"He confuses our mission," Obama said, then he spread responsibility to lawmakers like Clinton who voted for the invasion. "By refusing to end the war in Iraq, President Bush is giving the terrorists what they really want, and what the Congress voted to give them in 2002: a U.S. occupation of undetermined length, at undetermined cost, with undetermined consequences."
Obama said that as commander in chief he would remove troops from Iraq and putting them "on the right battlefield in Afghanistan and Pakistan." He said he would send at least two more brigades to Afghanistan and increase nonmilitary aid to the country by $1 billion.
He also said he would create a three-year, $5 billion program to share intelligence with allies worldwide to take out terrorist networks from Indonesia to Africa.
Wall Street supported Obama
by MAX FRASER
February 11, 2008
Obama and the real estate crisis.
Obama's Campaign Cash
The junior Senator from Illinois denounces the corrosive influence of private political cash on U.S. democracy while cozying up to Chicago's notoriously corrupt Big Money Mayor Richard M. Daley (with whom he shares the same high-priced campaign consultant (David Axlerod) and raking in campaign largesse from wealthy world-capitalist interests. His top career sponsors include Goldman Sachs, Exelon (the world's leading nuclear plant operator), the Soros Fund Management, J.P Morgan Chase & Co., leading corporate law and lobbying firms (Kirkland & Ellis and Skadden, Arps, Sidley Austin LLP and others), top Chicago investment interests (including Henry Crown & Co and Aerial Capital Management) and the like.
Obama's reliance on such deep-pockets supporters helps explain why he voted for a business-driven "tort reform" bill that rolled back working peoples' ability to obtain reasonable redress and compensation from misbehaving corporations. It is certainly part of why he opposed an amendment to the Bankruptcy Act that would have capped credit card interest rates at 30 percent. It is undoubtedly related to his vote against a bill that would have killed an amendment to the 2005 energy bill that Taxpayers for Common Sense and Citizens Against Government Waste called "one of the worst provisions in this massive piece of legislation." Under the amendment, which passed with Obama's help, U.S. taxpayers are providing millions of dollars in loan guarantees to power plant operators. They "risk losing billions of dollars if the companies default," as Ken Silverstein wrote in the November, 2006 issue of Harper's Magazine ("Barack Obama Inc.: The Birth of a Washington Machine").
Special interest influence is certainly behind Obama's constant plugging of federally subsidized ethanol ("E-85") as an environmentally friendly "alternative fuel." Reliance on corporate cash and power is also likely related to Obama's opposition to the introduction of single-payer national health insurance on the curious grounds that such a welcome social-democratic change would lead to employment difficulties for workers in the private insurance industry and that "voluntary" solutions are "more consonant" with "the American character" than "government mandates." The latter judgment is advanced despite the fact that a large U.S. majority supports government-mandated universal health insurance.
Obama, it is worth noting, received $708,000 from medical and insurance interests between 2001 and 2006, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. His wife Michelle, a fellow Harvard Law graduate, is a Vice President for Community and External Affairs at the University of Chicago Hospitals, a position that paid her $273, 618 in 2006. For what it's worth, she also received $51,200 for attending a few board meetings of TreeHouse Foods, a giant firm where she was made a director after Obama was elected to the U.S. Senate.
One day after Obama denounced Big Money control of U.S. politics in Iowa City, Iowa, the Los Angeles Times reported that Obama "raised more than $1 million in the first three months of his presidential campaign from law firms and companies that have major lobbying operations in the nation's capital." Obama has also received a combined $170,000 so far this year from financial giants Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, who together spent $4.6 million on federal lobbying in 2006.
"Obama received more than two-thirds (68 percent) of his first quarter 2007 fundraising total ‘from donations of $1000 or more.'"
The Los Angeles Times also reported that Obama received more than two-thirds (68 percent) of his first quarter 2007 fundraising total "from donations of $1000 or more." Obama has "played up populist themes of [campaign finance] reform," trumpeting his "large number of small donations" and claiming (in the Senator's words) to be "launch[ing]a fundraising drive that isn't about dollars.". But his astonishing first-quarter campaign finance haul of $25.7 million included $17.5 million from "big donors" ($1000 and up) - a sum higher than the much more genuinely populist and remarkably pro-labor John Edwards' total take ($14 million) from all donors.
According to Chicago Sun Times columnist Lynn Sweet, "Obama talks about transforming politics and touts the donations of ‘ordinary' people to his campaign, a network of more than 100 elite Democratic ‘bundlers' is raising millions of dollars for his White House bid. The Obama campaign prefers the emphasis be on the army of small donors who are giving - and raising - money for Obama. In truth, though, there are two parallel narratives - and the other is that Obama is also heavily reliant on wealthy and well-connected Democrats."
Black Agenda Review: Obama - imperialism with a new face
Putting Black Faces on Imperial Policies
by BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford
As African Americans contemplate the possibility of Barack Obama in the Oval Office, they should consider the ramifications of a Black face at the helm of an unreconstructed imperial policy. During the Secretary of State tenures of Colin Powell and Condoleezza Rice, the face of U.S. aggression and lawlessness in the world, has been Black - a hell of an image to present to the planet! Barack Obama shows no inclination to abandon imperialism as state policy - only to avoid dumb wars, while placing U.S.-designated interests above international law.
“The 2008 Obama presidential run may be the most slickly orchestrated marketing machine in memory. That's not a good thing. Marketing is not even distantly related to democracy or civic empowerment. Marketing is about creating emotional, even irrational bonds between your product and your target audience. From its Bloody Sunday 2007 proclamation that Obama was the second coming of Joshua to its nationally televised kickoff at Abe Lincoln's tomb to the tens of millions of dollars in breathless free media coverage lavished on it by the establishment media, the campaign's deft manipulation of hopeful themes and emotionally potent symbols has led many to impute their own cherished views to Obama, whether he endorses them or not.”
“Black Agenda Report has long held that Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton are identical, politically. Both are associated with the Democratic Leadership Council, the corporate rightwing of the Democratic Party. Clinton proudly upholds the DLC banner, while Obama claims to not be a member, but behaves exactly as if he were one.”
Throughout the 1930s, 40s and 50s, being identified as an active member of the NAACP in the South could cost your livelihood and home, your freedom, even your life. Many whose names nobody remembers served, and quite a few paid that price.
Today's NAACP officials, like their counterparts in corporate America, fly and dine first class --- they hobnob with celebrities and CEOs, and they depend on Disney, Chrysler, Bank of America and Fox TV to broadcast its annual Image Awards, which are handed out to other celebrities and black officials of whichever administration is in power.. The NAACP has in the recent past even chosen its CEO from the ranks of black execs at telecommunications corporations that digitally redline African American neighborhoods.
A significant portion of the black leadership in those days was responsible to black communities alone. They crafted political responses to the public policy crises of that era which they pursued both inside and outside America's legal system, responses aimed at changing public policies that harmed African American communities. Attorneys Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall crisscrossed the continent defending black prisoners on death row and filing cases to overturn legal segregation. It was due to years of these efforts that Thurgood Marshall, in the 1940s became known as "Mr. Civil Rights".
By contrast, a current black elected official like Atlanta's Kasim Reed, whose legal practice consists of defending corporate employers from civil rights and discrimination lawsuits represents himself with a straight face as a "civil rights lawyer". Presidential candidate Barack Obama too, is widely credited with being a "civil rights lawyer" too, despite having tried few or no significant civil rights cases in any court of law. . .
Can you imagine the black leadership in your town even talking to high school students, let alone calling them out in the street to accomplish a change in public policy? Can you envision today's celebrity and business-oriented black leadership trying to mobilize black America for anything more radical than watching their TV shows, buying their books, or volunteering and voting in their campaigns for political office. It is hard to construct a scenario in which today's black leaders might be induced to stand up to the crime control industry, to become persistent, forceful advocates of revolutionary reforms which can appeal broadly to the African American community . . .
Whenever we do see the beginnings of a mass movement to challenge our nation's misguided policy of black mass incarceration, one that unites our young and our old, our churches and our unions and the people on our street corners it won't be led by the folks we think of as black leaders today. And until the policy of mass incarceration is transformed into an explicitly political issue and directly challenged, black youth have little reason to listen to those leaders.
Obama supports nuclear power
Consider what even the best use of nuclear energy leaves in its wake over the long haul an uninhabitable planet. No matter who is in charge we end up with millions of tons of waste with a half-life in the tens of thousands of years.
-- The Simulacran Republic, by Joe Bageant, December 24, 2005
Nuclear plants become a factor in elections
Democrats soften their stances on traditionally GOP-backed solution
08:58 AM CST on Sunday, January 27, 2008
By ELIZABETH SOUDER / The Dallas Morning News
Barack Obama says nuclear power should be explored as an energy option.
Obama opposes peace in Israel / Palestine
March 5, 2007
Obama: On Israel and AIPAC
"We Must Preserve Our Total Commitment to Our Unique Defense Relationship with Israel"
By Sen. BARACK OBAMA
Remarks of Senator Barack Obama
As Prepared for Delivery
AIPAC Policy Forum
March 2, 2007
Published on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 by CommonDreams.org
Obama’s Foreign & Military Policies: Old Wine in a New Bottle?
by Joseph Gerson
There is an eagerness here in the United States for a new face, for healing words, and for a new vision of the United States’ role in the world. These are needs around which Senator Barack Obama’s presidential campaign is understandably positioning itself.There is also a tradition of a large sector of the U.S. peace movement identifying with and being co-opted by what it perceives to be the most liberal and/or charismatic presidential candidate. As we saw in the first years of the Carter and Clinton presidencies, there is also often a felt need to believe that with a Democratic president in office, there is little need to take a critical view or for mobilization. It has taken several years for people to catch on to what is really happening.
For these reasons I think it is important that people take a hard look at Barack
Obama’s major foreign and military policy speech which he gave yesterday in Chicago.
Reading it this morning has confirmed my worst fears. It differs little than the formulas being presented by Hillary Clinton, lacking even the boldness of Zbigniew Brzezinski’s (Founding Director of the Trilateral Commission and National Security Advisor to president Carter) recommendations for a “second chance” to restore U.S. imperial dominion in the Post-Cold War era. I found the number of his positive references to Republican Senator Lugar indicative of Obama’s agenda and deeply disturbing. While Obama speaks in terms of the need for “a new vision”, his rhetoric is rife with America-first chauvinism, rejects “the notion that the American moment [read global hegemony] has passed”, an insists that the U.S. once again fill “the position of leader of the free world.”, and building a “21st century military.”
Would that he spoke truths that we need to hear: that with its National Security Statement and invasion of Iraq the Bush Administration has precipitated a comprehensive imperial crisis; that in addition to profoundly alienating the United States from most of the world and breaking the U.S. military, that with its twin towers of deficit (national and trade) the economic foundations of our and future generations’ real security is being undermined. When the rising waters of global warming threaten to drowned our cities - the pillars of our civilization and economy - we will not have the hundreds of billions of dollars we need to build our version of Dutch dikes.
Obama’s speech does including a few hints of limited reform: reducing [not eliminating] the number of nuclear weapons on hair trigger alert; nodding to the recent Kissinger, Shultz, Perry & Nunn article on nuclear threats; increasing U.S. foreign aid; reducing the U.S. addiction to oil, and the U.S. talking leadership in reducing green house gases because we are the world’s larges producer of these global warming pollutants. (By the same logic he should be calling for U.S. leadership in completely eliminating nuclear and conventional weapons.)
Obama says that “There are five ways America will begin to lead again when I’m president.” Here they are with a few side comments from yours truly: “bringing a responsible end to this war in Iraq and reinforcing on the critical challenges in the broader region.”
1. “bringing a responsible end to this war in Iraq and reinforcing on the critical challenges in the broader region.”
a. Note the use of the word “responsible.” His “plan” calls for phased withdrawal of all combat troops by March 31, 2008, with U.S. troops remaining in Iraq and “over-the horizon” to “prevent chaos in the wider region and to fight Al Qaeda. This is a reaffirmation of U.S. hegemony in the Middle East and of the use of Iraq as “host” for U.S. military bases, and as Phyllis Bennis has pointed out, could leave tens of thousands of U.S. troops in Iraq.
b. He notes that “Hamas and Hezbollah feel emboldened and Israel’s prospects for a secure peace seem uncertain.” (There is no mention of Israel’s continued occupation of much of the West Bank, the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem, the Wall, or Israel’s nuclear arsenal which contributes to Iran’s belief that it “lives in a dangerous neighborhood.”
c. Obama raises the fear of the “challenge of Iran” and the centrality of the war in Afghanistan (where the U.S. is backing war lords, Karzai remains the mayor of Kabul, and negotiation with the Taliban continues to be ruled out.)
2. To build “the first truly 21st century military…we must maintain the strongest, best-equipped military in the world.” This includes the “ability to put boots on the ground” While there is no mention that U.S. military spending already equals that of the rest of the world’s nations combined, and that basic human needs in this country are being sacrificed on the alter of military spending and the military-industrial-complex, Obama says “I strongly support the expansion of our ground forces by adding 65,000 soldiers to the Army and 27,000 Marines” - nearly 100,000 more U.S. warriors!!
Obama goes on to say that “No President should ever hesitate to use force - unilaterally if necessary - to protect ourselves and our vital interests” (Middle Eastern, Caspian Sea or Venezuelan oil??) He then uses the 1991 Desert Storm war as the multi-national model for the “use [of] force in situations other than self-defense…”
He also describes “effective diplomacy and muscular alliances” as essential to “the full arsenal of American power and ingenuity”, complementing “our” military to “ensure that the use of force is not our sole available option.” While this is not the Bush II “romance of ruthlessness”, it gives primacy to military frames of reference, seeing diplomacy as complementing U.S. military power and not (as a non-pacifist liberal might expect) the reverse.
3. On nuclear weapons, after his wink in the direction of the Kissinger-Shultz-Perry-Nunn manifesto, he presents a rehash of Kerry 2004: the greatest threat of nuclear war comes from non-state terrorists and rogue states (which challenge U.S. hegemony….) The fact that the U.S. has prepared and threatened to initiate nuclear attack at least 30 times since Nagasaki, and that its massive nuclear arsenal, nuclear threats, and disregard for the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty is the most powerful structural forces encouraging nuclear weapons proliferation is not mentioned.
a. His first priority is security “all nuclear weapons and material at vulnerable sites within four years.” - a worthy goal
b. He want to negotiate a “verifiable global ban on the production of new nuclear weapons material.” The term “verifiable” is important and a significant improvement over the smoke and mirrors version the Bush Administration has put forward
c. “[T]he world must prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons and work to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear weapons program…In pursuit of this goal, we must never take the military option off the table.”
Like President Bush, Senator Clinton and former Senator Edwards, Obama has reiterated that “all options” must be on the table - which includes by definition nuclear attack and which at this writing is backed up by the presence of two nuclear-capable aircraft carrier task forces in the Persian Gulf.. Obama is reasserting that we can enforce the hypocritical and very dangerous doctrine that we can possess and threaten other nations with thousands of thermonuclear weapons, that we can permit our friends (India, Pakistan, Israel) to obtain nuclear weapons outside the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, and makes no mention of the U.S.NPT commitment to negotiate the elimination of its and other nations’ nuclear arsenals.
d. To “deemphasize the role of nuclear weapons” Obama says that “the United States and Russian must lead by example” and “remove as many weapons as possible from high-alert, hair-trigger status.” How many is “as many as possible”? What about the United States’ Article VI commitments to eliminate nuclear weapons? What about Russia’s proposal that when the START I Treaty expires in 2009 that the U.S. and Russia be required to reduce their nuclear arsenals to 1,000 weapons each, and the need for demobilized nuclear weapons be destroyed, not stockpiled. That, in turn, could provide the foundation for bringing the world’s lesser nuclear powers into negotiations for their complete elimination.
4. “[T]he fourth way America must lead is to rebuild and construct the alliances and partnerships necessary to meet common challenges and confront common threats.”
While it is necessary to building partnerships and greater collaborations to prevent non-state terrorism, to reverse global warming and prevent epidemics like AIDS, Obama also spoke I terms of maximizing U.S. “power”, hearkening back to the Cold War (!!) with the statement “Leaders like Harry Truman and George Marshall knew that instead of constraining our power, these institutions magnified it.” [Emphasis added.]
Like Bill Clinton and W. Bush’s National Security Statement before him, Obama warns that while China’s rise “offers new opportunities for prosperity and cooperation” it also means “new challenges for the United States and our partners in the region” (including the extreme right wing government in Tokyo which is reaffirming militarist values by refusing to acknowledge the sexual slavery of Asian and Pacific women during W.W.II, is preparing to undo the country’s pacifist constitution; and leading members of which, are raising the possibility of Japan become a nuclear weapons state.) Like President Clinton, Obama promises to “forge a more effective regional framework in Asia that will promote stability” - enforced, of course, by hundreds of U.S. military bases, more than 100,000 forward deployed U.S. troops, the Seventh Fleet, missile defenses, nuclear weapons and the weaponization of space…
5. “The fifth way American will lead again” Obama tells us “is to invest in our
common humanity” with significant increases in the United States paltry commitment for foreign aid. Rather than have U.S. Americans “turn inward”, he stresses what he learned while visiting “The Horn of Africa’s Combined Joint Task Force which was headquartered at Camp Lemonier in Dijbouti.” His belief is that the U.S. can reverse “Al Qaeda’s progress in recruiting a new generation of leaders” through the U.S. military, diplomats and aid workers in “operations to win hearts and minds,” supporting sustainable democracy and providing “the world’s weakest states…what they need to reduce poverty, build healthy and educated communities, develop markets and generate wealth.”
Much of this could be helpful if the U.S. military were not involved, Recall that resistance to the presence of foreign militaries is not limited to Third World nations. Our own Declaration of Independence decried the “abuses and usurpations” that are inherent to the presence of foreign military forces. Over and above the importance of providing increased and appropriate foreign aid, is the need to address the structural and policy rift (a Grand Canyon) between the U.S. and Islamic nations. This means casts aside the doctrine of “Full Spectrum Dominance” in the Middle East and beyond and opting for Common and Human Security. It means making negotiation of a just Israeli-Palestinian peace - consistent with U.N. General Assembly Resolutions 242 and 338 - the first priority of U.S. Middle East policy.
Friends, we are in a very fluid situation. The belief that the U.S. is somehow the best and the model for all peoples, that the U.S. must always lead, and that the foundation of our security in the world is a genocidal imperial military, not the practice of democracy is extremely dangerous. It threatens our future as well as those with whom we share the planet. The 2008 presidential campaign, which will have enormous impact on who lives, who dies, and how. Like the people who are bird dogging candidates in New Hampshire and Iowa, we must be both imaginative and dedicated in bringing ALL U.S. troops home from Iraq now, and developing Common and Human Security visions and policies that can secure the future for us all.
The old saying has it that “If the people lead, the leaders will follow.” Let’s do it!
This is a personal analysis and does not reflect official opinions or views of the American Friends Service Committee. Joseph Gerson is Director of Programs of the AFSC in New England and author of Empire and the Bomb: How the U.S. Uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate.
Obama called hypocrite for wife's Wal-Mart link
By Philip Sherwell in New York, Sunday Telegraph
Last Updated: 11:37pm BST 12/05/2007 (May 12)
As a fluent public speaker, independent-minded wife, devoted mother and professional woman, Michelle Obama has been hailed as an invaluable asset to her husband Barack's mission to capture the Democratic 2008 presidential nomination.
Yet, while her style and performance are winning plaudits on the campaign trail, a little-reported business interest of Mrs Obama's has opened her husband up to one of the criticisms that politicians fear most - the taint of hypocrisy.
She is taking a break from her main job, as a well-remunerated Chicago hospital executive, to campaign for her husband. But she has just been re-elected to the board of an Illinois food-processing company, a position she took up two years ago to gain experience of the private sector.
And the biggest customer for the pickles and peppers produced by Treehouse Foods is the retail giant Wal-Mart, the world's largest corporation and the bête noire of American liberals, including Sen Obama, for its employment practices, most notably its refusal to recognise trade unions. ....
Hillary Clinton, Sen Obama's main rival for the Democratic nomination, can testify to the political dangers in liberal America of being associated with Wal-Mart, even though the company's cost-cutting policy makes its goods more affordable for the low-paid. The New York senator and wife of the former President Bill Clinton still encounters flak for serving on the company's board from 1985 to 1992, before becoming First Lady.