Obama’s 5th Column Crumbles
Obama’s 5th Column Crumbles
Exclusive: Cornel West and other such political opportunists
“Of all our studies, history is best qualified to reward all research.”—Malcolm X [el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz]
“Beware of the naked man who offers you clothes.”—African Proverb
The most insidiously dangerous of all systemic gatekeepers are those who masquerade as progressives or so-called leftists but who in reality act as the fifth column for the maintenance of U.S. Empire abroad and internal repression at home.
Perhaps the most egregious example of this can be found in those alleged ‘progressive’ members of the Black and White ‘intelligentsia’ who urged the struggling, everyday, Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people of this nation to support the 2008 then U.S. presidential candidacy of the corporate-backed, war mongering, silver tongued Barack Obama.
Thanks in no small measure to support from black systemic gatekeepers such as Cornel West, Amiri Baraka (aka Leroi Jones), Al Sharpton, and Henry Louis Gates, et al; Barack Obama became and was installed as the 44th president of the United States—the first nominally-black head of the U.S. Empire. It is now the year 2011, and the poor and disenfrachised people of all colors in this nation are suffering increased economic austerity, massive joblessness and home foreclosures, the largest incarceration rate in the world, a de facto police state, an extension and expansion of the unconstitutional ‘PATRIOT Act,’ a continuation of the outrageous ‘extraordinary rendition’ program, the continuance of the U.S. gulag at Guantanamo, and last but by no means least, the bloody U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and now north Africa.
The above-mentioned systemic gatekeeping opportunists knew full well by the middle of the year 2008, that Barack Obama was the darling of the blood sucking U.S. corporate/military elite. Nevertheless, they supported him and urged others to do so. They shamelessly urged that Obama be supported whether “critically” or otherwise. Thus, these systemic gatekeepers did all in their power to neutralize, ignore, marginalize, or stifle those, including Black Agenda Report’s Glen Ford and Bruce Dixon, The Black Commentator’s Larry Pinkney and Dr. Lenore Jean Daniels, and former U.S. Congresswoman and 2008 Green Party presidential nominee Cynthia McKinney and her running mate Rosa Clemente etc., who for at least four years now, have been repeatedly disseminating the clarion call as to the enormous systemic dangers of supporting the corporate groomed and backed Barack Obama. On the other hand, the systemic political opportunists, and most particularly those of the Black and White intelligentsia masquerading as ‘progressives,’ were well aware of the fact they were urging everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people in this nation to go against their own interests and court economic and political disaster in the person of Barack Obama.
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Awakening From Obama’s Seductive Spell
by Gary Olson
President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, expected to cost more than $1 billion, is underway. Given incumbency and likely opponents, he’ll probably win. Of course ZNet readers understand that won’t make a whit of difference for most Americans. But if you know someone still slumbering in an Obamamania-induced trance, I have a guaranteed spell breaker. Paul Street’s book, The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2010, paperback) demolishes any remaining misapprehension that Obama is anything other than a Wall Street/military-friendly, seductive-sounding servant of concentrated wealth and power. I assigned it as a text this term in my course “U.S. Workers in the Global Economy” and for many students it was a game changer.
This week, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman expressed deep disappointment in the president and asserted that “Mr. Obama is still clearly clinging to his vision of himself as a figure who can transcend America’s partisan differences” (April 11, 2011). Perhaps, but given the facts, Obama’s record as president shouldn’t come as a surprise: Recycling discredited economic advisors like Rubin and Geithner, rescuing ruthless Wall Street speculators, extending the Bush-era tax cuts for the super-rich, abandoning his healthcare “public option” and quickly selling out to private insurers, going back on his pledge to close GITMO, maintaining 50,000 troops in Iraq while substituting mercenaries for others, a pitifully inadequate stimulus package, doing virtually nothing about the real unemployment rate of 18 percent and shrinking paychecks, a record-setting Pentagon budget, pushing anti-labor trade deals, reneging on his campaign promise to reform management-friendly labor laws and reducing payments to social security. Finally, in Obama’s Vietnam, the disastrous and immoral Afghanistan War which costs taxpayers $2 billion per month, 98,000 U.S. troops remain on the ground. In 2010 alone, 499 U.S. soldiers died there and 440 Afghan civilians were killed by U.S. led forces. Last year, U.S. troops in Afghanistan suffered a tripling of amputations of more than one limb. And this is only a short list from Obama’s first term which feels more like Bush’s third term.
More of Obama’s true colors emerged when he refused to utter a word of solidarity with besieged public workers in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere. This is the same person who, while campaigning in 2007, eloquently proclaimed “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collective bargaining when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself and I’ll walk the picket line with you as President of the United States of America because workers deserve to know that somebody is standing in their corner.” And only a year after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Citizens United that corporations could contribute unlimited funds to politicians, Obama named Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric, notorious for exporting job and tax avoidance, as his “jobs czar.”
However, contrary to complaints from a few disgruntled liberals, Obama isn’t a morally compromised, spineless individual, betraying his most cherished ideals. Quite the contrary, Street documents via exhaustive examples that Obama has been consistently to the right of center throughout his public career and is doing what he was groomed to do. It was the combination of a brilliant marketing strategy, beguiling rhetoric, and something approaching a cult of personality that put him over the top in 2008.
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The President Is Missing
by Paul Krugman
What have they done with President Obama? What happened to the inspirational figure his supporters thought they elected? Who is this bland, timid guy who doesn’t seem to stand for anything in particular?
I realize that with hostile Republicans controlling the House, there’s not much Mr. Obama can get done in the way of concrete policy. Arguably, all he has left is the bully pulpit. But he isn’t even using that — or, rather, he’s using it to reinforce his enemies’ narrative.
His remarks after last week’s budget deal were a case in point.
Maybe that terrible deal, in which Republicans ended up getting more than their opening bid, was the best he could achieve — although it looks from here as if the president’s idea of how to bargain is to start by negotiating with himself, making pre-emptive concessions, then pursue a second round of negotiation with the G.O.P., leading to further concessions.
And bear in mind that this was just the first of several chances for Republicans to hold the budget hostage and threaten a government shutdown; by caving in so completely on the first round, Mr. Obama set a baseline for even bigger concessions over the next few months.
But let’s give the president the benefit of the doubt, and suppose that $38 billion in spending cuts — and a much larger cut relative to his own budget proposals — was the best deal available. Even so, did Mr. Obama have to celebrate his defeat? Did he have to praise Congress for enacting “the largest annual spending cut in our history,” as if shortsighted budget cuts in the face of high unemployment — cuts that will slow growth and increase unemployment — are actually a good idea?
Among other things, the latest budget deal more than wipes out any positive economic effects of the big prize Mr. Obama supposedly won from last December’s deal, a temporary extension of his 2009 tax cuts for working Americans. And the price of that deal, let’s remember, was a two-year extension of the Bush tax cuts, at an immediate cost of $363 billion, and a potential cost that’s much larger — because it’s now looking increasingly likely that those irresponsible tax cuts will be made permanent.
More broadly, Mr. Obama is conspicuously failing to mount any kind of challenge to the philosophy now dominating Washington discussion — a philosophy that says the poor must accept big cuts in Medicaid and food stamps; the middle class must accept big cuts in Medicare (actually a dismantling of the whole program); and corporations and the rich must accept big cuts in the taxes they have to pay. Shared sacrifice!
I’m not exaggerating. The House budget proposal that was unveiled last week — and was praised as “bold” and “serious” by all of Washington’s Very Serious People — includes savage cuts in Medicaid and other programs that help the neediest, which would among other things deprive 34 million Americans of health insurance. It includes a plan to privatize and defund Medicare that would leave many if not most seniors unable to afford health care. And it includes a plan to sharply cut taxes on corporations and to bring the tax rate on high earners down to its lowest level since 1931.
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In President Obama, Republicans find a patsy
while progressives get man who wasn’t there
Shades of the beginning of the health care reform debate, when Obama kicked off the proceedings by taking a single-payer approach off the table and making it clear he wasn’t that enthused about a public option.Just like that, Obama gave away his bargaining chips. No need for anyone to get huffy because he was going to be oh so reasonable.That’s why 2010 will be forever remembered as the year Obama bound up the nation’s partisan wounds and beat Republicans’ swords into plowshares to be used in a cooperative, fruitful quest for health care reform everyone could support and feel good about.
In fact, what we’ve been able to do is to present to the House Republicans a budget framework that would cut the same amount of spending as Speaker Boehner and Chairman Rogers originally proposed — their original proposal for how much would be cut.
And several weeks ago, there were discussions between the White House and Speaker Boehner’s office in which we said, let’s start negotiating off of that number, $73 billion. We are now closer than we have ever been to getting an agreement. There’s no reason why we should not get an agreement. As I said before, we have now matched the number that the Speaker originally sought.
Only in Obama’s sappy, pushover dreams.
Ever the ones to bargain in bad faith and move the goal post once their demands are met, Republicans suddenly decided if Obama would so easily cave to $33 billion in 2011 domestic spending cuts, he could be made to cave for $40 billion.
If Obama had a clue about economics and good economic advisors giving him sound pointers, he’d have started out fighting tooth and nail against anycuts to the 12 percent of the budget mostly allotted to helping children, the elderly and needy of all ages. If Obama had a clue, he would’ve insisted that while the economy still needs stimulus spending to promote job creation, and while the states are shredding their safety nets, he’d tolerate no cuts to the 2011 budget.And, if Obama had the courage of any Democratic political convictions, he would’ve been the one to become more hostile, more demanding and more uncompromising.An Obama demonstrating that kind of unbending resolve, that willingness to stand behind and fight for what’s right, is the one we thought were voting for in 2008. It’s the one we’ve needed along.
Faced with mounting “tea party” resistance, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) has rejected the reductions as inadequate and called the Democrats’ proposal “smoke and mirrors.”
According to a senior administration official, Boehner said at the White House meeting that he wanted what amounted to $40 billion in cuts.
That surprised White House aides, who believed Boehner had accepted the $33-billion number, at least if details could be hammered out.
Sadly, maddeningly, that kind of Obama is the man who wasn’t there.