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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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Beijing Threatens “Severe” Retaliation Against Canada If Huawei CFO Is Not Released

China’s warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony.

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Via Zerohedge


Canada’s extraordinary arrest one week ago of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of Huawei founder and billionaire executive Ren Zhengfei, and its decision to charge her with “multiple” counts of fraud – a preamble to her likely extradition to the US to face charges of knowingly violating US and EU sanctions on Iran – has elicited widespread anger in Beijing, which declared Meng’s detention a “violation of human rights” during a bail hearing for the jailed executive on Friday.

That anger has apparently only intensified after the hearing adjourned without a decision (it will resume on Monday, allowing Meng’s defense team to argue for why she should be released on bail, contrary to the wishes of government attorneys who are prosecuting the case).

And with Canada insisting that it will prosecute Meng to the full extent of the law over allegations that she mislead banks about the true relationship of a Huawei subsidiary called Skycom, angry Chinese officials have decided to issue an ultimatum directly to the Canadian ambassador, who was summoned to a meeting in Beijing on Saturday and told in no uncertain terms that Canada will face “severe consequences” if Meng isn’t released, according to the Wall Street Journal.

China’s foreign ministry publicized the warning in a statement (though Canadian officials have yet to comment):

Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Le Yucheng summoned Canada’s ambassador to Beijing, John McCallum, on Saturday to deliver the warning, according to a statement from the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The statement doesn’t mention the name of Huawei’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, though it refers to a Huawei “principal” taken into custody at U.S. request while changing planes in Vancouver, as was Ms. Meng. The statement accuses Canada of “severely violating the legal, legitimate rights of a Chinese citizen” and demands the person’s release.

“Otherwise there will be severe consequences, and Canada must bear the full responsibility,” said the statement, which was posted online late Saturday.

Phone calls to the Canadian Embassy rang unanswered while the Canadian government’s global affairs media office didn’t immediately respond to an email request for comment.

The warning marks an escalation in Beijing’s rhetoric as investors worry that the arrest could cause the shaky trade detente between the US and China to devolve into acrimony. A federal judge issued a warrant for Meng’s arrest back in August. Though after she was made aware of the warrant, Meng avoided travel to the US. She was arrested in Vancouver last Saturday while traveling to Mexico.

Aside from breaking off trade talks, some are worried that Beijing could seek to retaliate in kind by arresting a notable US executive. While the threats of Chinese bureaucrats might not amount to much in the eyes of US prosecutors, threatening a US executive with long-term detention in a Chinese “reeducation camp” just might.

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The trials of Julian Assange

Eresh Omar Jamal interviews Italian journalist Stefania Maurizi in relation to the situation of Julian Assange.

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Authored by Eresh Omar Jamal for The Daily Star (Bangladesh):


Stefania Maurizi is an investigative journalist working for the Italian daily La Repubblica. She has worked on all WikiLeaks releases of secret documents and partnered with Glenn Greenwald to reveal the Snowden Files about Italy. She has authored two books—Dossier WikiLeaks: Segreti Italiani and Una Bomba, Dieci Storie. In an exclusive interview with Eresh Omar Jamal of The Daily Star, Maurizi talks about the continued arbitrary detention of Julian Assange, why powerful governments see WikiLeaks as an existential threat, and the implications for global press freedom if Assange is prosecuted for publishing secret government documents.

You recently had the chance to visit Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London. When was this and can you describe the state he is in?

I was able to visit him on November 19, after 8 months of failed attempts, because last March the Ecuadorian authorities cut off all his social and professional contacts, with the exception of his lawyers, and in the preceding 8 months, I had asked for permission to visit him nine times without success—the Ecuadorian authorities didn’t reply at all to my requests.

When I was finally granted permission to visit the WikiLeaks founder at the Ecuadorian embassy in London last November, I was literally shocked to see the huge impact his isolation has had on his health. Because I have worked as a media partner with him and his organisation, WikiLeaks, for the last nine years, I have met him many times and can tell when there are any changes in his body and mind. I wondered how his mind could keep working; but after talking to him in the embassy for two hours, I have no doubt that his mind is working fine. I still wonder how that’s possible after six and a half years of detention without even one hour of being outdoors. I would have had a physical and mental breakdown after just 6 months, not after 6 years.

Detention and isolation are killing him slowly, and no one is doing anything to stop it. The media reports, the commentators comment, but at the end of the day, he is still there; having spent the last six and a half years confined to a tiny building with no access to sunlight or to proper medical treatment. And this is happening in London, in the heart of Europe. He is not sitting in an embassy in Pyongyang. It is truly tragic and completely unacceptable. And I’m simply appalled at the way the UK authorities have contributed to his arbitrary detention, and have opposed any solution to this intractable legal and diplomatic quagmire.

Having bravely defended Assange for years, the Ecuadorian government in late March cut off almost all his communications with the outside world. What prompted this turnabout and what is its purpose?

Politics has completely changed in Ecuador, and more in general, in Latin America, since 2012, when Ecuador granted Julian Assange asylum. I have never had any interviews with the current Ecuadorian President, Mr Lenin Moreno, but based on his public declarations, it’s rather obvious to me that he does not approve of what Julian Assange and WikiLeaks do.

With all his problems, Rafael Correa (former president of Ecuador) protected Assange from the very beginning, whereas Lenin Moreno considers him a liability. Moreno is under pressure from the right-wing politicians in Ecuador, and also from very powerful governments, like the US and UK governments, who will leave no stones unturned to jail Assange and destroy WikiLeaks. I am not sure how long Lenin Moreno will hold out against this immense pressure, provided that he wants to hold out at all.

Assange was vindicated not so long ago as to why he cannot leave the embassy when the US Department of Justice “accidentally” revealed in November that the founder of WikiLeaks had been secretly charged in the US. What do you think those charges are for?

It’s hard to say unless the charges get declassified and I really appreciate how the US organisation, Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press, is fighting before the court in the Eastern District of Virginia, US, to have the charges declassified.

There is no doubt whatsoever that the US authorities have always wanted to charge him for WikiLeaks’ publications. They have wanted to do so from the very beginning, since 2010, when WikiLeaks released its bombshell publications like the US diplomatic cables.

But the US authorities have been unable to do so due to the fact that WikiLeaks’ publication activities enjoy constitutional protection thanks to the First Amendment. So it will be very interesting to see how they will get around this constitutional protection in order to be able to charge him and other WikiLeaks journalists and put them all in jail.

Why have some of the most powerful governments and intelligence agencies invested so much resources to attack Assange and WikiLeaks?

You have to realise what it meant for the US national security complex to witness the publication of 76,000 secret documents about the war in Afghanistan, and then another 390,000 secret reports about the war in Iraq; followed by 251,287 US diplomatic cables and 779 secret files on the Guantanamo detainees; and to watch WikiLeaks save Edward Snowden, while the US was trying everything it could do, to show the world that there is no way of exposing the NSA’s secrets and keep your head attached to your neck having done so.

You have to realise what this means in an environment like that of the US, where even the most brilliant national security reporters didn’t dare to publish the name of the head of the CIA Counterterrorism Center, Michael D’Andrea, even though his name and the abuses committed by his centre were open secrets within their inner circles. Although the New York Times finally did, later on. But this was and still is the reality in the US, and even though it may not be as bad in the UK, it’s still quite bad. Look at what happened with the arrest of Glenn Greenwald’s husband, David Miranda, at the Heathrow Airport during the publication of the Snowden Files. Look at what happened with The Guardian being forced to destroy its hard drives during the publication of those files.

There are different levels of power in our societies and generally in our western democracies, criticism against the low, medium and high levels of power via journalistic activities is tolerated. Journalists may get hit with libel cases, have troubles with their careers; however, exposing those levels is permitted. The problem is when journalists and media organisations touch the highest levels, the levels where states and intelligence agencies operate.

WikiLeaks is a media organisation that has published secret documents about these entities for years, and Julian Assange and his staff have done this consistently, not occasionally like all the other media organisations do. You can imagine the anger these powerful entities have towards WikiLeaks—they perceive WikiLeaks as an existential threat and they want to set an example that says, “Don’t you dare expose our secrets and crimes, because if you do, we will smash you.”

If Assange is prosecuted, what impact might it have on other publishers and journalists and on press freedom globally?

It will have a huge impact and that is why organisations like the American Civil Liberties Union are speaking out. Never before in the US has an editor and media organisation ended up in jail for publishing information in the public interest. If Julian Assange and the WikiLeaks’ staff end up in jail, it will be the first time in US history and will set a devastating precedent for attack on press freedom in the US, but actually, not only in the US. Because if a country like the US, in which the activities of the press enjoy constitutional protection, treats journalists this way, you can imagine how other countries where the press doesn’t enjoy such strong protection will react. It will send a clear message to them: “Your hands are free.”

At the end of the day, I think there are two sides to this Assange and WikiLeaks saga: the US-UK national security complex, but more in general, I would say, the people within the national security complex, who want to destroy Julian Assange and WikiLeaks to send a clear message to journalists: “Don’t mess with us if you don’t want your lives to be destroyed.” While on the other side, there are the freedom of the press guys, meaning journalists like me, who want to demonstrate the exact opposite: that we can expose power at the highest levels, we can expose the darkest corners of governments and come out alive and well. And actually, we must do this, because real power is invisible and hides in the darkest corners.

Eresh Omar Jamal is a journalist for The Daily Star (Bangladesh). You can find him on Twitter: @EreshOmarJamal and Stefania Maurizi: @SMaurizi

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Diplomacy a Waste of Time with Washington

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

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Authored by Stephen Lendman:


The US is a serial lawbreaker, operating by its own rules, no others.

Time and again, it flagrantly breaches international treaties, Security Council resolutions, and other rule of law principles, including its own Constitution.

Diplomacy with Republicans and undemocratic Dems is an exercise in futility.

Trump’s JCPOA pullout and threatened INF Treaty withdrawal show Washington can never be trusted.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova’s proposed US outreach to discuss INF Treaty bilateral differences is well intended – despite knowing nothing is accomplished when talks with Washington are held, so why bother.

It’s just a matter of time before the US breaches another promise. They’re hollow when made. Kremlin good intentions aren’t enough to overcome US duplicity and implacable hostility toward Russia.

“We are ready to continue the dialogue in appropriate formats on the entire range of problems related to this document on the basis of professionalism and mutual respect, without putting forward unsubstantiated accusations and ultimatums. Our proposals are well known and remain on the negotiating table,” said Zakharova, adding:

“We have admitted (US) documents for further consideration. This text again includes accusations in the form of unfounded and unsubstantiated information about Russia’s alleged violations of this deal.

Comments to Washington like the above and similar remarks are like talking to a wall. The US demands all countries bend to its will, offering nothing in return but betrayal – especially in dealings with Russia, China, Iran, and other sovereign independent governments it seeks to replace with pro-Western puppet ones.

Not a shred of evidence suggests Russia violated its INF Treaty obligations. The accusation is baseless like all others against the Kremlin.

“No one has officially or by any other means handed over to Russia any files or facts, confirming that Russia breaches or does not comply with this deal,” Zakharova stressed, adding:

“We again confirm our consistent position that the INF Treaty is one of the key pillars of strategic stability and international security.”

It’s why the Trump regime intends abolishing it by pulling out. Strategic stability and international security defeat its agenda. Endless wars and chaos serve it.

The US, UK, France, Israel, and their imperial partners get away with repeated international law breaches because the EU, UN, and rest of the world community lack backbone enough to challenge them.

It’s how it is no matter how egregious their actions, notably their endless wars of aggression, supporting the world’s worst tinpot pot despots, and failing to back the rights of persecuted Palestinians and other long-suffering people.

The only language Republicans and Dems understand is toughness. Putin pretends a Russian/US partnership exists to his discredit – a show of weakness, not strength and responsible leadership.

In response to the Trump regime’s intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty, he said Russia will “react accordingly” – precisely what, he didn’t say.

A few suggestions, Mr. President.

  • Recall your ambassador to Washington. Expel the Trump regime’s envoy from Moscow and other key embassy personnel.
  • Arrest US spies in Russia you long ago identified. Imprison them until the US releases all Russian political prisoners. Agree to swap US detainees for all of them, no exceptions.
  • Install enough S-400 air defense systems to cover all Syrian airspace. Warn Washington, Britain, France and Israel that their aircraft, missiles and other aerial activities in its airspace will be destroyed in flight unless permission from Damascus is gotten – clearly not forthcoming.
  • Publicly and repeatedly accuse the above countries of supporting the scourge of ISIS and likeminded terrorists they pretend to oppose.
  • Warn them in no uncertain terms that their aggression against the Syrian Arab Republic no longer will be tolerated. Tell them the same goes if they dare attack Iran.
  • Stop pretending Mohammad bin Salman didn’t order Jamal Khashoggi’s murder, along with ignoring the kingdom’s horrendous human rights abuses domestically and abroad – including support for ISIS and other terrorists.
  • Put observance of rule of law principles and honor above dirty business as usual with the kingdom and other despotic regimes for profits.
  • Do the right things at all times and damn the short-term consequences – including toughness on Washington, the UK, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

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