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Barack Obama’s failed presidency

I’m a former lifelong Democrat, stating here a clear and incontestable fact: Barack Obama is a failed President.

Eric Zuesse

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Published with the permission of the author. First appeared on strategic-culture.org

It’s true not just because of the sad realities such as that «Top Ex-White House Economist Admits 94 % Of All New Jobs Under Obama Were Part-Time» — or, as the economists Alan Krueger and Lawrence Katz wrote in the original of that study: «94 percent of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements».

«Alternative work arrangements» referred there to Americans who were involuntarily working only part-time jobs — they simply couldn’t find full-time, though that’s what they wanted. In other words: Obama’s failure isn’t just because of America’s increasingly sales-clerk, and burger-flipping, workforce.

And Obama’s failure is also not just because «Poverty Rose In 96 % Of U.S. House Districts, During Obama’s Presidency». However, that reality turned out to be decisive in Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump on November 8th, as Nate Cohn pointed out in The New York Times on December 23rd, headlining, «How the Obama Coalition Crumbled, Leaving an Opening for Trump». Hillary was running on Obama’s poor record.

Obama’s failure is also because of other important reasons. Among them is the uncounted thousands of people who were killed in, and the uncounted millions of people who became refugees from, the places where Obama (or else his installed regimes) bombed and caused the residents to either die or flee.

George W. Bush’s destructions of Iraq and even Afghanistan were now being followed by the destructions of Libya by Obama and Sarkozy, and of Syria by Obama, Saud, Thani and Erdogan, who armed the tens of thousands of jihadists and sent them into Syria to overthrow and replace Assad.

Bush’s destructions were followed also by Obama’s keeping in power the barbaric junta-regime that replaced the democratically elected Honduran Presiden Manuel Zelaya on 28 June 2009 shortly after Obama entered the White House. This junta-regime, in turn, caused Honduras’s murder-rate to soar 50% to become the world’s highest, which then caused hundreds of thousands of Hondurans to flee and become undocumented U.S. immigrants, against which Donald Trump campaigned.

The Obama regime has thus created far more misery outside America, than inside it. Failures such as those didn’t cost Hillary Clinton many (if any) votes (because most voters didn’t even know about these foreign-affairs matters), but those failures were actually even bigger than Obama’s failures in purely domestic U.S. policy matters (which voters do know about).

Trump campaigned against ‘illegal immigrants’, but he never even called attention to those people’s fleeing the hells that the U.S. regime had created in not only Honduras but earlier in Guatemala and El Salvador — coups and U.S.-trained death squads.

In noting Obama’s failures, I’m not a Republican; I’m no one who is condemning Obama for his allegedly being a ‘Marxist’ ‘Muslim’, or some other imaginary distraction from the reality (a reality which is too Republican for Republicans to be able to criticize — so, they’ve instead ignored that reality, and cited fake ‘reasons’ against him, including ‘death panels’ and other fabrications, which Republicans then forgot about after their fraudulent allegations against him became clear, to all but insane people, as being just Republican lies).

Obama is a failure not because he wasn’t sufficiently conservative or ‘Christian’ (as Republicans had constantly accused him of having been), but instead because he wasn’t sufficiently progressive (nowhere close to being a progressive) — and, in many ways, he was actually far more conservative than any of his duplicitous campaign-rhetoric had pretended him to be. He’s an extraordinarily gifted liar — he was phenomenally successful at that.

And I am not blaming Obama for congressional Republicans’ having been more obsessed with making him be a failed President, than they were interested in making America be a successful nation. Republicans lie at least as much as he does, just not nearly as skillfully. (They especially can’t feign compassion as skillfully as he.)

This article thus does not blame him for what the overt Republicans were doing to cripple the little good he had actually tried to achieve — such as closing Guantanamo. It’s only about Obama’s failure.

Obama’s failure was all his own — it’s not because of the good things that Republicans had blocked him from doing; it is instead because of the horrible things (such as his failed TPP, TTIP and TISA trade-treaties, and his successful 2011 killing of Gaddafi, and 2014 coup in Ukraine) that were central to his actual agenda — a conservative, even reactionary, agenda, which favored the interests of the hundreds of billionaires who control U.S.-based international corporations, above the interests of the 300+ million American people, whom the U.S. President is supposed to be serving.

I voted for Barack Obama both times, because both of his opponents («Bomb bomb bomb Iran» McCain in 2008, and «#1 geopolitical foe» Romney in 2012) were clearly determined to focus America’s enormous military expenditures away from exterminating the jihadists and their Saudi funders, toward instead conquering Iran (McCain) and Russia (Romney).

Also, Republicans — throughout at least the period extending from 1910 to 2010 — consistently had, in fact, produced a record of far less success with the U.S. economy, than did Democrats, and especially because neither McCain nor Romney had repudiated the very worst President in U.S. history (at least prior to Obama) and his atrocious record of lies and needless bloodshed and invasions: George W. Bush — Bush’s Party instead reaffirmed that monstrous President.

And, consequently, I never expected Barack Obama to turn out to have been, quite possibly, even a worse President than Bush. Nobody expected that — except Republicans, for whom Bush wasn’t bad enough to satisfy them (and certainly not bad enough for them to apologize for — so, they did not apologize for him).

Here, then, is Obama’s astounding record of failure:

«From a Democracy to a Plutocracy»

«Understanding President Obama’s Strategy to Force Cutting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid»

«Obama Finally Lays His Cards on the Table»

«Barack Obama Is Now Completing His Long-Held Plan to Subvert the Democratic Party»

«Obama: ‘I Don’t Care About the Public’s Welfare’».

As that last one documented, the Obama ‘Justice’ Department scored an all-time low number both of financial institution fraud prosecutions, and of white-collar-crime prosecutions. Obama came into power immediately after an economic crash that was loaded especially with financial-institution frauds. He protected the banksters. So, financial-executive-fraud prosecutions didn’t soar, like they should have; instead they plunged.

Obama told the Wall Street bigs, near the start of his regime, on 27 March 2009, in private, inside the White House: «My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks. … I’m not out there to go after you. I’m protecting you… I’m going to shield you». And that’s what he did. And, on 20 September 2016, Dave Johnson of the Campaign for America’s Future, headlined «Banks Used Low Wages, Job Insecurity To Force Employees To Commit Fraud», so there was no way that the employees could keep their jobs except to do the crimes that they were being virtually forced by their bosses to do.

The criminality was actually at the very top — where Obama had promised «I’m protecting you». So, the TARP’s Inspector General urged, on 26 October 2016 (since the President was refusing to prosecute those people), «that Congress remove the insulation around Wall Street CEOs and other high-level officials by requiring the CEO, CFO and certain other senior executives to sign an annual certification that they have conducted due diligence within their organization and can certify that that there is no criminal conduct or civil fraud in their organization».

The Special Inspector General of TARP, Christy Goldsmith Romero, was proposing this, as being the way to make prosecutions, of these top-level fraud-executives, so easy that the Obama Administration’s claims — that there was no top-level fraud that could be prosecuted — would be an even more blatant, absurdly false, lie, than it had been.

If this country were Ukraine, or even Russia, then Americans (trained by decades of a CIA-controlled ‘free press’) would say «Oh, of course those countries are corrupt, but America isn’t like that». But, at least under Barack Obama, ‘we’ were that. This was America — and ‘our’ President was protecting the elite fraudsters, instead of prosecuting them.

Nonetheless, anyone who would say that the American people are not better off now than they were at the end of Bush’s disastrous Presidency would be either misinformed or lying, because there’s lots of data showing that, finally, eight years after Bush, Americans are better off than they were at the end of Bush’s miserable eight years (even though not yet better off than Americans were prior to Bush’s 2007-2008 crash).

On December 15th the Administration published its record of ‘successes’ «The 2017 Economic Report of the President» which was real but not adjusted for the fact that Obama came into office at the pit of the economic crash, which means that such ‘successes’ are almost inevitable, hardly a credit to Obama. But yet, the reality stands, that the Obama economic recovery was the weakest in the entire post-World-War-II period.

Plus, the federal debt doubled on his watch, even while, as that Economic Report mentioned only in passing: «The United States has seen a faster increase in inequality in recent decades than any of the major advanced economies, and despite the historic progress made over the last eight years, the level of U.S. inequality remains high». Normally, after an economic crash, economic inequality reduces; but under Obama it remained at or near its pre-crash high.

It was an economic record (and an invasion and coup record) of which any Republican President could justifiably have been proud (since conservatives favor inequality, a caste system) — but no Democrat could (except fake ones — such as Obama and the Clintons).

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Social media purge continues, as platforms operate as publishers (Video)

The Duran – News in Review – Episode 80.

Alex Christoforou

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Following the suspension of Alex Jones, Twitter has also moved to restrict Jones’ Infowars account.

BuzzFeed News is reporting that the Infowars account will be restricted from tweeting, but will still be able to browse Twitter and send direct messages to other users, while users will still be able to view the account.

The move, which essentially puts the account in read-only mode, comes less than a day after Twitter temporarily limited Infowars proprietor Alex Jones for a week after he tweeted a link to a video in which he called on his supporters to get their “battle rifles” ready. That video, which was shared on Twitter-owned live streaming service Periscope, was also shared by Infowars earlier on Wednesday.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed that Infowars’ account, which has more than 430,000 followers, will be prevented from tweeting, retweeting, liking or following other users during a seven-day window. The account will stay online, allowing users to view it during that period.

Via Zerohedge

On Tuesday, Twitter suspended the conspiracy theorist and blogger for violating the social media company’s policies, in a stark reversal for Jack Dorsey who previously bucked the trend by other tech giants to muzzle the Infowars creator.

As CNET first reported, Jones’ account was put in “read only” mode and will be blocked from posting on Twitter for seven days because of an offending tweet, the company said. While Twitter declined to comment on the content that violated its policies, a Twitter spokesperson told CNN the content which prompted the suspension was a video published Tuesday in which he said, “now is time to act on the enemy before they do a false flag.”

A Twitter spokesperson wouldn’t say what would get Jones or Infowars permanently suspended, however they noted “We look at [the] volume and nature of violations before suspending an account,” according to Buzzfeed.

The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris discuss the latest twists and turns in the vicious social media purge of conservative right and libertarian accounts. Platforms are acting like publishers and this may mean the end of monopoly social media services.

Remember to Please Subscribe to The Duran’s YouTube Channel.

Meanwhile, in a censorship move against Libertarian commentary, Ron Paul Institute director Daniel McAdams and Antiwar editor Scott Horton were suspended by Twitter for simply retweeting. Justin Raimondo informs…

Target Liberty reports

Update from Justin:

Neither @scotthortonshow nor @DanielLMcAdams have been reinstated. You can see their tweets: they can’t tweet.

RW

Daniel McAdams explain what happened…

Robert I can give you an update from my perspective regarding what happened:

Yesterday on Twitter, former US diplomat Peter Van Buren (@WeMeantWell) took members of the mainstream media to task for swallowing and printing government lies without even bothering to check them out. He said as a former US government official (turned whistleblower) he also lied to the press on behalf of the government and was astonished that the press swallowed each one, hook, line and sinker.

Several corporate media hacks and in particular one employee of an NGO funded by George Soros — a fellow called Jonathan Katz — piled on Peter, accusing him of all manner of treachery. When Peter ended one response with a sarcastic reference to zombie attacks – “I hope a MAGA guy eats your face” — which is obviously a joke, Katz replied that he is reporting Peter for promoting violence.

So he and his buddies ganged up on Peter and got him banned. Scott Horton and I were incensed over the ban, which seemed to us totally arbitrary. There was no threat of violence and it was no different than millions of Tweets all the time. So Scott and I both joined in and criticized Katz for running off to the authorities in attempt to get someone banned rather than just walk away from the debate.

Katz then did his usual routine and ran to the authorities and had Scott and me banned. Mine was for, as Twitter informed me, because “you may not promote violence against, threaten, or harass other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or serious disease.” There is no way at all that my Tweet violated the above rule. In no way did I harass or threaten based on those criteria. I merely strongly criticized Katz for running to the authorities to get Peter banned.

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“I’m Not A Racist, But I’m A Nationalist”: Why Sweden Faces A Historic Election Upset

Sweden is set to have a political earthquake in September.

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Via Zerohedge


“Trains and hospitals don’t work, but immigration continues,” Roger Mathson, a retired vegetable oil factory worker in Sweden, told Bloomberg on the same day as the violent, coordinated rampage by masked gangs of youths across five Swedish cities.

We noted earlier that Swedish politicians were quick to react with anti-immigrant party ‘Sweden Democrats’ seeing a surge in the polls ahead of the September 9th election.

“I’m not a racist, but I’m a nationalist,” Mathson said. “I don’t like seeing the town square full of Niqab-clad ladies and people fighting with each other.”

Is Sweden set to have its own political earthquake in September, where general elections could end a century of Social Democratic dominance and bring to power a little known (on the world stage), but the now hugely popular nationalist party often dubbed far-right and right-wing populist, called Sweden Democrats?

Sweden, a historically largely homogeneous population of 10 million, took in an astounding 600,000 refugees over the past five years, and after Swedes across various cities looked out their windows Tuesday to see cars exploding, smoke filling the skies, and possibly armed masked men hurling explosives around busy parking lots, it appears they’ve had enough.

Over the past years of their rise as a political force in Swedish politics, the country’s media have routinely labelled the Sweden Democrats as “racists” and “Nazis” due to their seemingly single issue focus of anti-immigration and strong Euroscepticism.

A poll at the start of this week indicated the Sweden Democrats slid back to third place after topping three previous polls as the September election nears; however, Tuesday’s national crisis and what could legitimately be dubbed a serious domestic terror threat is likely to boost their popularity.

Bloomberg’s profile of their leader, Jimmie Akesson, echoes the tone of establishment Swedish media in the way they commonly cast the movement, beginning as follows:

Viking rock music and whole pigs roasting on spits drew thousands of Swedes to a festival hosted by nationalists poised to deliver their country’s biggest political upheaval in a century.

The Sweden Democrats have been led since 2005 by a clean-cut and bespectacled man, Jimmie Akesson. He’s gentrified a party that traces its roots back to the country’s neo-Nazi, white supremacist fringe. Some polls now show the group may become the biggest in Sweden’s parliament after general elections on Sept. 9. Such an outcome would end 100 years of Social Democratic dominance.

The group’s popularity began surging after the 2015 immigration crisis began, which first hit Europe’s southern Mediterranean shores and quickly moved northward as shocking wave after wave of migrants came.

Jimmie Akesson (right). Image source: Getty via Daily Express

Akesson emphasizes something akin to a “Sweden-first” platform which European media often compares to Trump’s “America First”; and the party has long been accused of preaching forced assimilation into Swedish culture to be become a citizen.

Bloomberg’s report surveys opinions at a large political rally held in Akkeson’s hometown of Solvesborg, and some of the statements are sure to be increasingly common sentiment after this week’s coordinated multi-city attack:

At his party’s festival, Akesson revved up the crowd by slamming the establishment’s failures, calling the last two governments the worst in Swedish history. T-shirts calling for a Swexit, or an exit from the EU, were exchanged as bands played nationalist tunes.

Ted Lorentsson, a retiree from the island of Tjorn, said he’s an enthusiastic backer of the Sweden Democrats. “I think they want to improve elderly care, health care, child care,” he said. “Bring back the old Sweden.” But he also acknowledges his view has led to disagreement within his family as his daughter recoils at what she feels is the “Hitler”-like rhetoric.

No doubt, the media and Eurocrats in Brussels will take simple, innocent statements from elderly retirees like “bring back the old Sweden” as nothing short of declaration of a race war, but such views will only solidify after this week.

Another Sweden Democrat supporter, a 60-year old woman who works at a distillery, told Bloomberg, “I think you need to start seeing the whole picture in Sweden and save the original Swedish population,” she said. “I’m not racist, because I’m a realist.”

Sweden’s two biggest parties, the Social Democrats and Moderates, are now feeling the pressure as Swedes increasingly worry about key issues preached by Akesson like immigration, law and order, and health care – seen as under threat by a mass influx of immigrants that the system can’t handle.

Bloomberg explains further:

But even young voters are turning their backs on the establishment. One potential SD supporter is law student Oscar Persson. Though he hasn’t yet decided how he’ll vote, he says it’s time for the mainstream parties to stop treating the Sweden Democrats like a pariah. “This game they are playing now, where the other parties don’t want to talk to them but still want their support, is something I don’t really understand,” he said.

Akesson has managed to entice voters from both sides of the political spectrum with a message of more welfare, lower taxes and savings based on immigration cuts.

With many Swedes now saying immigration has “gone too far” and as this week’s events have once again thrust the issue before both a national and global audience, the next round of polling will mostly like put Sweden’s conservative-right movements on top

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The Turkish Emerging Market Timebomb

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him.

The Duran

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Authored by Jim O’Neill, originally on Project Syndicate:


As the Turkish lira continues to depreciate against the dollar, fears of a classic emerging-market crisis have come to the fore. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s populist economic policies have finally caught up to him, and sooner or later, he will have to make nice with his country’s traditional Western allies.

Turkey’s falling currency and deteriorating financial conditions lend credence, at least for some people, to the notion that “a crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” I suspect that many Western policymakers, in particular, are not entirely unhappy about Turkey’s plight.

To veteran economic observers, Turkey’s troubles are almost a textbook case of an emerging-market flop. It is August, after all, and back in the 1990s, one could barely go a single year without some kind of financial crisis striking in the dog days of summer.

But more to the point, Turkey has a large, persistent current-account deficit, and a belligerent leader who does not realize – or refuses to acknowledge – that his populist economic policies are unsustainable. Moreover, Turkey has become increasingly dependent on overseas investors (and probably some wealthy domestic investors, too).

Given these slowly gestating factors, markets have long assumed that Turkey was headed for a currency crisis. In fact, such worries were widespread as far back as the fall of 2013, when I was in Istanbul interviewing business and financial leaders for a BBC Radio series on emerging economies. At that time, markets were beginning to fear that monetary-policy normalization and an end to quantitative easing in the United States would have dire consequences globally. The Turkish lira has been flirting with disaster ever since.

Now that the crisis has finally come to pass, it is Turkey’s population that will bear the brunt of it. The country must drastically tighten its domestic monetary policy, curtail foreign borrowing, and prepare for the likelihood of a full-blown economic recession, during which time domestic saving will slowly have to be rebuilt.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s leadership will both complicate matters and give Turkey some leverage. Erdoğan has  constitutional powers, reducing those of the parliament, and undercutting the independence of monetary and fiscal policymaking. And to top it off, he seems to be reveling in an escalating feud with US President Donald Trump’s administration over Turkey’s imprisonment of an American pastor and purchase of a Russian S-400 missile-defense system.

This is a dangerous brew for the leader of an emerging economy to imbibe, particularly when the United States itself has embarked on a Ronald Reagan-style fiscal expansion that has pushed the US Federal Reserve to raise interest rates faster than it would have otherwise. Given the unlikelihood of some external source of funding emerging, Erdoğan will eventually have to back down on some of his unorthodox policies. My guess is that we’ll see a return to a more conventional monetary policy, and possibly a new fiscal-policy framework.

As for Turkey’s leverage in the current crisis, it is worth remembering that the country has a large and youthful population, and thus the potential to grow into a much larger economy in the future. It also enjoys a privileged geographic position at the crossroads of Europe, the Middle East, and Central Asia, which means that many major players have a stake in ensuring its stability. Indeed, many Europeans still hold out hope that Turkey will embrace Western-style capitalism, despite the damage that Erdoğan has done to the country’s European Union accession bid.

Among the regional powers, Russia is sometimes mentioned as a potential savior for Turkey. There is no doubt that Russian President Vladimir Putin would love to use Turkey’s crisis to pull it even further away from its NATO allies. But Erdoğan and his advisers would be deeply mistaken to think that Russia can fill Turkey’s financial void. A Kremlin intervention would do little for Turkey, and would likely exacerbate Russia’s own .

The other two potential patrons are Qatar and, of course, China. But while Qatar, one of Turkey’s closest Gulf allies, could provide financial aid, it does not ultimately have the wherewithal to pull Turkey out of its crisis singlehandedly.

As for China, though it will not want to waste the opportunity to increase its influence vis-à-vis Turkey, it is not the country’s style to step into such a volatile situation, much less assume responsibility for solving the problem. The more likely outcome – as we are seeing in Greece – is that China will unleash its companies to pursue investment opportunities after the dust settles.

That means that Turkey’s economic salvation lies with its conventional Western allies: the US and the EU (particularly France and Germany). On August 13, a White House spokesperson confirmed that the Trump administration is watching the financial-market response to Turkey’s crisis “very closely.” The last thing that Trump wants is a crumbling world economy and a massive dollar rally, which could derail his domestic economic ambitions. So a classic Trump “trade” is probably there for Erdoğan, if he is willing to come to the negotiating table.

Likewise, some of Europe’s biggest and most fragile banks have significant exposure to Turkey. Combine that with the ongoing political crisis over migration, and you have a recipe for deeper destabilization within the EU. I, for one, cannot imagine that European leaders will sit by and do nothing while Turkey implodes on their border.

Despite his escalating rhetoric, Erdoğan may soon find that he has little choice but to abandon his isolationist and antagonistic policies of the last few years. If he does, many investors may look back next year and wish that they had snapped up a few lira when they had the chance.

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