Mr. Obama’s Bipartisan “Achievements”
There has been a lot of talk, now that the elections are over and the legislature has fallen into the hands of Republicans about what this will mean for President Obama’s agenda and the Democratic agenda generally. This election season my inbox was full of Democratic politicians begging for money to foreclose the possibility of voters choosing the wrong party at the polls, yours probably was, too.
A persistent theme in these begging emails that I was getting was that the (evil) obstructionist Republicans have gummed up our system of government and the Democrats (the good guys) can’t get anything done in order to enact Mr. Obama’s agenda.
Looking at the accomplishments of Mr. Obama and the governing elites, this narrative, of course, is utter rubbish. The government is working. Mr. Obama and the Republicans have been cooperating all along. Great bipartisan advances and accomplishments are indeed being made.
So, what can we expect of this new aggregation of powers? Probably more of what it created before. Hence, let us review the accomplishments that these allegedly competing forces have created together…
Mr. Obama’s bipartisan accomplishments
Two-tiered justice system, rewards for criminal bankers
Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have kept the criminal banksters who crashed and looted our economy free, under-regulated, still dominating the political system, even larger than they were when they were “too big to fail” and paying the largest bonuses since their criminal activities crashed the economy. Mr. Obama’s efforts to prosecute financial frauds were even wimpier and less effective that George W. Bush’s. Mr. Obama’s much ballyhooed relief program for homeowners injured by the criminal bankster’s behavior failed miserably; some Democrats claim that Obama sabotaged the program behind the scenes. The result of Mr. Obama’s efforts has been to fuel a new era of Wall Street wealth while screwing average citizens:
They didn’t just blow up finance, they oversaw the swiftest transfer of wealth to the very top the world has ever seen. They screwed workers out of their jobs, they screwed homeowners out of their houses, they screwed retirees out of their pensions, and they screwed municipalities out of their revenues and assets.
Financiers are forcing schools, parks, pools, fire departments, senior citizen centers, and libraries to shut down. They are forcing national governments to auction off their cultural heritage to the highest bidder. Everything must go in firesales at prices rigged by twenty-something traders at the biggest and most corrupt institutions the world has ever known.
And since they’ve bought the politicians, the policy-makers, and the courts, no one will stop it.
Austerity, benefitting the 1% at the expense of the rest of us
Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts (his budgets, the sequester) have imposed the austerity that enriches the 1% at the expense of the rest of us. On Mr. Obama’s watch, taxes on the rich have decreased, shifting their burden onto everybody else. Mr. Obama was so intent on cutting social security benefits for older folks that the Progressive Change Committee characterized his dropping a particularly nasty proposal to cut benefits by miscalculating the effect of inflation on beneficiaries from his 2015 budget, a “huge progressive victory.” It’s a sad day when progressives consider it a “huge victory” when the depredations of an allegedly, progressive, liberal president and his partners in congress are diminished. You’d think that progressives would get excited about, um, progress rather than lack of regress. The economy delivered to us by Mr. Obama and his Republican colleagues took a lot of wrangling, but as one analyst put it:
Obama is the first President in post-war history (and maybe all of history) whose economy gave more money to the top 10% than the entire value of all productivity gains in his Presidency. Even George W. Bush didn’t manage that.
Now that’s an accomplishment!
Not to be forgotten as well are Mr. Obama’s actions to crack down on those outraged by the bankster criminals and the impunity Mr. Obama created for those that crashed our economy.
Free trade agreements promoting the fortunes of global corporations; attacks on working people
Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have promoted free trade agreements that will transfer national sovereignty to global corporations. His current efforts are to pass under a cloak of secrecy about the details, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, TISA the Trade in Services Agreement and TAFTA, the Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement – all of which promote the interest of corporate profits and aim to reduce the ability of citizens and governments to rein in corporate power.
Mr. Obama campaigned as a friend of organized labor and once in office couldn’t bring himself to work for organized labor’s top agenda item, EFCA. Nor could Mr. Obama find “a comfortable pair of shoes” when it was time to redeem another campaign promise to support labor when collective bargaining rights were attacked. Mr. Obama has not only failed to support labor unions, his administration has engaged in protracted attacks on them.
Promoting the interests of giant energy corporations; failure to address climate change
Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have promoted climate change and planetary destruction. Mr. Obama has used the NSA’s surveillance infrastructure to kill global climate agreements. Mr. Obama has demonstrated his deep commitment to reining in the use of carbon-based fuels by, among many other things, opening up the Arctic for deepwater oil drilling and shilling for “clean coal”.
The signature demand of the movement to address climate change, that Mr. Obama stop the Keystone XL pipeline has been kicked down the road a number of times by Mr. Obama who, in a stunning betrayal approved the southern part of Keystone XL while quietly approving numerous other tar sands projects. Mr. Obama has also been laying the groundwork to approve Keystone XL while claiming that in so doing he is not breaking any commitments:
The president said at the beginning of this year that he would approve the KXL if and “only if it will not lead to a net increase in overall greenhouse gas emissions.” Lo and behold, the State Department survey around that time concluded that the project would not significantly increase greenhouse gas emissions.
Extending and adding to Bush’s endless wars; enriching the military-industrial complex
Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have kept the military-industrial economy booming!
Mr. Obama has bombed (at least) seven nations, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Iraq and Syria. Mr. Obama signed the NDAA into law – making it legal to assassinate and indefinitely detain Americans w/o charge or trial. Mr. Obama has discovered that he’s really good at killing people, killing more than 2400 people in five years with just one of his programs, including four American citizens, one of whom was 16 years old and had the nerve to be born to an “irresponsible father.”
Mr. Obama has reinvigorated Mr. Bush’s “Global War on Terror” by starting a brand new war that he projects to be a “3 year long war,” or maybe a 30 year war if you listen to some more enthusiastic warmongers.
In the process of creating this new, long war, Mr. Obama and his team have created a new, sinister enemy organization out of thin air with the help of a friendly mass media.
Mr. Obama (D-General Dynamics), has even opened up the prospect of a brand new cold war with a proven adversary and times couldn’t be much better for the military industrial complex – war profiteer stocks are booming! That’s an accomplishment in this depressed economy.
Two-tiered justice system, protecting war criminals
Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have kept American war criminals free and prospering. The always forward-looking Mr. Obama has protected his predecessor, the Bush administration from prosecution for war crimes. Not only did he protect them from domestic prosecution, but Mr. Obama worked to derail prosecutions of Bush administration officials in foreign jurisdictions and, gosh golly, the actions were all bipartisany.
Mr. Obama has not only protected his predecessor from prosecution, he has boldly created opportunities for his successors to abuse and torture people:
By refusing to prosecute Bush-era officials for their culpability in major human rights abuses such as the CIA program and Abu Ghraib, President Obama is not just failing to enforce justice but is essentially guaranteeing that such abuses will happen again in the future. His administration has demonstrated that even if government officials perpetrate the most heinous crimes imaginable, they will still be able to rely on their peers to conceal their wrongdoing and protect them from prosecution. This not only erodes the rule of law, it also helps create a culture of impunity that will inevitably give rise to such actions once again.
Expanding Bush’s illegal warrantless wiretapping, building out the infrastructure of an authoritarian regime
Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have grown the surveillance state expanding the Bush administration’s massive illegal dragnet surveillance of domestic communications and communications records of millions of ordinary Americans.
Together with congress and the judicial branch, Mr. Obama is building out the infrastructure of a Stasi state. Mr. Obama has been working with congress for years through the ndaa to expend executive powers to include indefinite detention, expand the “war on terror” and remove constitutional protections from american citizens. They are still working together this year to bring indefinite military detention without charge home to the US.
Mr. Obama has also been working in a bipartisan manner, under section 1033 of the NDAA to militarize american police forces, arming them with all sorts of inappropriate military gear and providing inappropriate military training, creating a culture of police intimidation and spawning an industry.
Interference with, spying on and harrassment of journalists and whistleblowers
Mr. Obama has continued and expanded the Bush administration’s efforts at punishing uncooperative journalists and whistleblowers. While the Bush administration did some nasty things, such as outing Valerie Plame for her husband’s whistleblowing, the Obama administration has employed the Espionage Act on more people than have been prosecuted under it in all previous administrations. Mr. Obama has also employed dragnet surveillance methods to obtain evidence of leaking by journalists. The Obama administration has continued the Bush administration’s threats to jail James Risen for failure to testify in a whistleblower case. There is a long list of actions against journalists and whistleblowers that this administration has engaged in.
In order to prevent leaks by whistleblowers, Mr. Obama has created a program that screams authoritarian regime by asking federal workers to spy on each other and report co-workers for suspicious actions or fitting risk profiles.
Keeping Guantanamo open, retaining prisoners cleared to leave, visiting cruel and unusual punishments on detainees
Mr. Obama’s bipartisan efforts have kept Guantanamo open and still torturing brown people. Mr. Obama has for years claimed that he intends to close the Guantanamo Gulag, but has yet to take meaningful action. This despite the fact that Mr. Obama could close Guantanamo any time he wants. One is left to suspect that Mr. Obama’s failure to close the gulag is related to a desire to sweep the abuses and torture of those incarcerated there under the rug.
Since what’s past is prologue, this is what I think are the foreseeable future consequences of this aggregation of elected officials:
The statute of limitations clock will be run out on the banksters. None of the major corporate bankster criminals will see the inside of a jail cell.
Mr. Obama will finally get his “Grand Bargain,” Social Security and Medicare benefits will be diminished and there will be even greater tax abatement for the wealthy and corporate interests. The wealth transfer upwards will continue unabated, there will be further cutting of social programs, food stamps, etc.
Obama will get fast-track authority for the free trade agreements he is negotiating.
Keystone XL will be approved, Obama will sign on. There will be no significant progress on limiting climate change.
There will be boots on the ground in the middle east by 2017. Obama’s wars will intensify and spread to include fighting in states like Turkey, Jordan and Lebanon – perhaps others.
There will be no prosecutions of Bush or Obama administration war criminals, the culture of impunity will be maintained. The CIA torture report will not see the light of day unless it is leaked.
The infrastructure of authoritarian rule will continue to be built out, NSA spying capacity will continue to expand, the militarization of police will continue – though with some review of the heavy weaponry that is passed out like candy, fearmongering about terrorists amongst us will intensify in order to maintain the cover to expand authoritarian policies.
The war on journalists and whistleblowers will continue. Obama will get to at least a 9th person charged under the Espionage Act during his tenure.
Guantanamo will still be open and abusing people when Obama leaves office.
What do you predict?