Tag Archives: President Obama

Why You Should Embrace the Twilight of the Debt Bubble Age, by MN Gordon

How will America pay for the recently enacted tax reform bill? The same way it pays for everything else: with debt. From MN Gordon at economicprism.com:

People are hard to please these days.  Clients, customers, and cohorts – the whole lot.  They’re quick to point out your faults and flaws, even if they’re guilty of the same derelictions.

The recently retired always seem to have the biggest axe to grind.  Take Jack Lew, for instance.  He started off the New Year by sharpening his axe on the grinding wheel of the GOP tax bill.  On Tuesday, he told Bloomberg Radio that the new tax bill will explode the debt and leave people sick and starving.

“It’s a ticking time bomb in terms of the debt.

“The next shoe to drop is going to be an attack on the most vulnerable in our society.  How are we going to pay for the deficit caused by the tax cut?  We are going to see proposals to cut health insurance for poor people, to take basic food support away from poor people, to attack Medicare and Social Security.  One could not have made up a more cynical strategy.”

The tax bill, without question, is an impractical disaster.  However, that doesn’t mean it’s abnormal.  The Trump administration is merely doing what every other administration has done for the last 40 years or more.  They’re running a deficit as we march onward towards default.

We don’t like it.  We don’t agree with it.  But how we’re going to pay for it shouldn’t be a mystery to Lew.  We’re going to pay for it the same way we’ve paid for every other deficit: with more debt.

A Job Well Done

Of all people, Jack Lew should know this.  If you recall, Lew was the United States Secretary of Treasury during former President Obama’s second term in office.  Four consecutive years of deficits – totaling over $2 trillion – were notched on his watch.

 

To continue reading: Why You Should Embrace the Twilight of the Debt Bubble Age

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Why Presidents Campaign on Peace but Rule by War, by Joey Clark

There is a huge embedded constituency in Washington that cuts across many parts of the government that promotes war. From Joey Clark at theantimedia.org:

I hope we will soon stop simply damning war presidents as hypocrites and killers so we may take the time to see the complex reasons why presidential peace candidates continue to become warmongers.

As a candidate, George W. Bush promised a humble foreign policy.

But as president — especially in reaction to the violent and tragic imperial blowback of 9/11 — humility gave way to hubris. War was not only waged against Bin Laden’s terror network and the Taliban in Afghanistan but also globally against all Terror, a campaign that somehow led U.S. forces to topple a tyrant in Baghdad only to ignite and invite more terror to a fight amongst the rubble.

As a candidate, Barack Obama railed against Bush’s wars of “choice,” promising peace in Baghdad, Kabul, and beyond.

But as president, Obama’s peace prize and campaign promises gave way to more wars of choice.Though Obama “ended” the war in Afghanistan, leaving thousands of troops stationed there, he escalated the Afghan war first. Obama pulled out of Iraq only to topple Gaddafi in Libya. He attempted to topple Assad in Syria only to jump back into Iraq once again to take on ISIS — no doubt an enemy of the United States but an enemy also interested in toppling Assad in Syria. He fought both sides of the same war, inflaming the conflict further. His expanded use of drones is also well documented.

As a candidate, Donald Trump railed against the Bush and Obama wars, including Afghanistan, as an utter waste of American blood and treasure — treasure and manpower that should go to “America First.” Candidate Trump didn’t shy away from saying he would bomb the shit out of ISIS, but his candidacy did seem to suggest a change in direction to a more ‘realist’ and ‘transactional’ approach to foreign policy as opposed to Bush’s overt hubris and Obama’s covert idealism.

To continue reading: Why Presidents Campaign on Peace but Rule by War

The Age of No Privacy: The Surveillance State Shifts Into High Gear, by John W. Whitehead

You have, unless you want to stay locked up in a super-secure room all day, virtually zero privacy. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“We are rapidly entering the age of no privacy, where everyone is open to surveillance at all times; where there are no secrets from government.” ― William O. Douglas, Supreme Court Justice, dissenting in Osborn v. United States, 385 U.S. 341 (1966)

The government has become an expert in finding ways to sidestep what it considers “inconvenient laws” aimed at ensuring accountability and thereby bringing about government transparency and protecting citizen privacy.

Indeed, it has mastered the art of stealth maneuvers and end-runs around the Constitution.

It knows all too well how to hide its nefarious, covert, clandestine activities behind the classified language of national security and terrorism. And when that doesn’t suffice, it obfuscates, complicates, stymies or just plain bamboozles the public into remaining in the dark.

Case in point: the National Security Agency (NSA) has been diverting “internet traffic, normally safeguarded by constitutional protections, overseas in order to conduct unrestrained data collection on Americans.”

It’s extraordinary rendition all over again, only this time it’s surveillance instead of torture being outsourced.

In much the same way that the government moved its torture programs overseas in order to bypass legal prohibitions against doing so on American soil, it is doing the same thing for its surveillance programs.

By shifting its data storage, collection and surveillance activities outside of the country—a tactic referred to as “traffic shaping” —the government is able to bypass constitutional protections against unwarranted searches of Americans’ emails, documents, social networking data, and other cloud-stored data.

The government, however, doesn’t even need to move its programs overseas. It just has to push the data over the border in order to “[circumvent] constitutional and statutory safeguards seeking to protect the privacy of Americans.”

Credit for this particular brainchild goes to the Obama administration, which issued Executive Order 12333 authorizing the collection of Americans’ data from surveillance conducted on foreign soil.

 

To continue reading: The Age of No Privacy: The Surveillance State Shifts Into High Gear

Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years, by John Solomon and Sara Carter

Big Brother Obama, supposed constitutional scholar, went above and beyond the call of duty in shredding Americans’ civil liberties. From John Solomon and Sara Carter at circa.com:

The National Security Agency under former President Barack Obama routinely violated American privacy protections while scouring through overseas intercepts and failed to disclose the extent of the problems until the final days before Donald Trump was elected president last fall, according to once top-secret documents that chronicle some of the most serious constitutional abuses to date by the U.S. intelligence community.

The Obama administration self-disclosed the problems at a closed-door hearing Oct. 26 before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that set off alarm. Trump was elected less than two weeks later.

The normally supportive court censured administration officials, saying the failure to disclose the extent of the violations earlier amounted to an “institutional lack of candor” and that the improper searches constituted a “very serious Fourth Amendment issue,” according to a recently unsealed court document dated April 26, 2017.

The admitted violations undercut one of the primary defenses that the intelligence community and Obama officials have used in recent weeks to justify their snooping into incidental NSA intercepts about Americans.

Circa has reported that there was a three-fold increase in NSA data searches about Americans and a rise in the unmasking of U.S. person’s identities in intelligence reports after Obama loosened the privacy rules in 2011.

Officials like former National Security Adviser Susan Rice have argued their activities were legal under the so-called minimization rule changes Obama made, and that the intelligence agencies were strictly monitored to avoid abuses.

To continue reading (and to read the FISA court opinion): Obama intel agency secretly conducted illegal searches on Americans for years

 

Guantánamo’s Last 100 Days, The Story That Never Was, by Karen Greenberg

The US government can decide a noncitizen is a terrorist and put them in prison for indefinite detention, with no right of habeas corpus. Such has been the fate of Guantánamo’s prisoners, some of them for over a decade. Hopes that Barack Obama would keep his campaign promises and shut Guantánamo were dashed, and President Trump wants to put more prisoners there. From Karen Greenberg at tomdispatch.com:

In the spring of 2016, I asked a student of mine to do me a favor and figure out which day would be the 100th before Barack Obama’s presidency ended. October 12th, he reported back, and then asked me the obvious question: Why in the world did I want to know?

The answer was simple. Years before I had written a book about Guantánamo’s first 100 days and I was looking forward to writing an essay highlighting that detention camp’s last 100 days. I had been waiting for this moment almost eight years, since on the first day of his presidency Obama signed an executive order to close that already infamous offshore prison within a year.

I knew exactly what I would write. The piece would narrate the unraveling of that infamous detention facility, detail by detail, like a film running in reverse. I would have the chance to describe how the last detainees were marched onto planes (though not, as when they arrived, shackled to the floor, diapered, and wearing sensory-deprivation goggles as well). I would mention the dismantling of the kitchen, the emptying of the garrison, and the halting of all activities.

Fifteen years after it was first opened by the Bush administration as a crucial site in its Global War on Terror, I would get to learn the parting thoughts of both the last U.S. military personnel stationed there and the final detainees, just as I had once recorded the initial impressions of the first detainees and their captors when Gitmo opened in January 2002. I would be able to dramatize the inevitable interagency dialogues about security and safety, post-Guantánamo, and about preparing some of those detainees for American prison life. Though it had long been a distant dream, I was looking forward with particular relish to writing about the gates slamming shut on that symbol of the way the Bush administration had sent injustice offshore and about the re-opening of the federal courts to Guantánamo detainees, including some of those involved in the planning of the 9/11 attacks.

To continue reading: Guantánamo’s Last 100 Days, The Story That Never Was

Watch: 5 Signs We’re Going to War: “A Plan Implemented By Bush, Continued Under Obama, And Kicked Up A Notch By Our New President”, by Melissa Dykes

From Melissa Dykes at The Daily Sheeple, via Mac Slavo at shtfplan.com:

Is it possible that not everything is as it seems?

While the majority of America is being distracted by shiny things and manipulated into civil unrest over identity politics, Melissa Dykes of The Daily Sheeple warns that an unprecedented push for war is underway.

It’s pretty clear that we’re being taken to war… A plan implemented by George W. Bush after 9/11… continued under Obama… and now kicked up a notch by our new President, Donald Trump.

Watch (3:52):

Obama’s Bombing Legacy, by Nicolas J. S. Davies

President Obama got a Nobel Peace Prize before he did anything to deserve it, and after he got it, everything he did contradicted it. From Nicolas J. S. Davies at antiwar.com:

As President Obama leaves office, much of his foreign policy record remains shrouded in the symbolism that has been the hallmark of his presidency. The persistence of Obama’s image as a reluctant war-maker and a Nobel Peace Prize winner has allowed Donald Trump and his cabinet nominees to claim that Obama has underfunded the military and been less than aggressive in his use of US military power.

Nothing could be further from the truth, and their claims are clearly designed only to justify even more extravagant military spending and more aggressive threats and uses of force than those perpetrated under Mr. Obama’s “disguised, quiet, media-free” war policy.

The reality is that Obama has increased US military spending beyond the post-World War II record set by President George W. Bush. Now that Obama has signed the military budget for FY2017, the final record is that Obama has spent an average of $653.6 billion per year, outstripping Bush by an average of $18.7 billion per year (in 2016 dollars).

In historical terms, after adjusting for inflation, Obama’s military spending has been 56 percent higher than Clinton’s, 16 percent higher than Reagan’s, and 42 percent more than the US Cold War average, when it was justified by a military competition with a real peer competitor in the Soviet Union. By contrast, Russia now spends one-tenth of what we are pouring into military forces, weapon-building and war.

What all this money has paid for has been the polar opposite of what most of Obama’s supporters thought they were voting for in 2008. Behind the iconic image of a hip, sophisticated celebrity-in-chief with strong roots in modern urban culture, lies a calculated contrast between image and reality that has stretched our country’s neoliberal experiment in “managed democracy” farther than ever before and set us up for the previously unthinkable “post-truth” presidency of Donald Trump.

To continue reading: Obama’s Bombing Legacy