Thursday, May 14, 2009

Yes We Can: 100 Days of Same Old, Same Old...


Lots of hoopla about; though the obstinate bleating of Hope! Change! are dying down a little, n’est pas?


I can't shrug off this feeling of unease I have, deep in the old gut. That the very worst hasn’t remotely happened yet. That none of the real issues are being dealt with. Everywhere in North America infrastructure is being touted as the saviour of the economy. More roads, more lanes, more construction. To what Happy McMansion with what Happy McCar?

Yeah, the daughters are cute, the wife brilliant, the dog adorable but the 100 Day record is now standing bleakly by itself, like a shrine to his predecessor.

However, the brilliant John Pilger says it so much better than I can:

In his first 100 days, Obama has excused torture, opposed habeas corpus and demanded more secret government. He has kept Bush’s gulag intact and at least 17,000 prisoners beyond the reach of justice. On 24 April, his lawyers won an appeal that ruled Guantanamo Bay prisoners were not “persons”, and therefore had no right not to be tortured. His national intelligence director, Admiral Dennis Blair, says he believes torture works. One of his senior US intelligence officials in Latin America is accused of covering up the torture of an American nun in Guatemala in 1989; another is a Pinochet apologist. As Daniel Ellsberg has pointed out, the US experienced a military coup under Bush, whose secretary of “defence”, Robert Gates, along with the same warmaking officials, has been retained by Obama.


And here we have the President’s stance on Gaza and the atrocities there:

All over the world, America’s violent assault on innocent people, directly or by agents, has been stepped up. During the recent massacre in Gaza, reports Seymour Hersh, “the Obama team let it be known that it would not object to the planned resupply of ‘smart bombs’ and other hi-tech ordnance that was already flowing to Israel” and being used to slaughter mostly women and children. In Pakistan, the number of civilians killed by US missiles called drones has more than doubled since Obama took office


And no one is leaving Iraq even though the soldiers there are now knocking each other off.

Perhaps the biggest lie – the equivalent of smoking is good for you – is Obama’s announcement that the US is leaving Iraq, the country it has reduced to a river of blood. According to unabashed US army planners, as many as 70,000 troops will remain “for the next 15 to 20 years”. On 25 April, his secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, alluded to this. It is not surprising that the polls are showing that a growing number of Americans believe they have been suckered – especially as the nation’s economy has been entrusted to the same fraudsters who destroyed it. Lawrence Summers, Obama’s principal economic adviser, is throwing $3trn at the same banks that paid him more than $8m last year, including $135,000 for one speech. Change you can believe in.


And I find it particularly hard to stomach Obama’s new best friend: Henry Kissinger, the despicable war criminal.


Much of the American establishment loathed Bush and Cheney for exposing, and threatening, the onward march of America’s “grand design”, as Henry Kissinger, war criminal and now Obama adviser, calls it. In advertising terms, Bush was a “brand collapse” whereas Obama, with his toothpaste advertisement smile and righteous clichés, is a godsend. At a stroke, he has seen off serious domestic dissent to war, and he brings tears to the eyes, from Washington to Whitehall. He is the BBC’s man, and CNN’s man, and Murdoch’s man, and Wall Street’s man, and the CIA’s man. The Madmen did well.


Read complete article here.

And don’t get me started on the Goldman Sachs’ ex-staffers sprinkled all over the Obama cabinet, holding out their hands for more bailouts, more bonuses, more leeching at the till of good tax payer money being poured down the bottomless pits of CEOs’ pockets.

Policies that are extraordinarily favorable to the financial elite that were put in place over the past month by the Obama administration have fed a surge in share values on Wall Street. These include the scheme to use hundreds of billions of dollars in public funds to pay hedge funds to buy up the banks’ toxic assets at inflated prices, the Auto Task Force’s rejection of the recovery plans of Chrysler and General Motors and its demand for even more brutal layoffs, wage cuts and attacks on workers’ health benefits and pensions, and the decision by the Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) to weaken “mark-to-market” accounting rules and permit banks to inflate the value of their toxic assets.


Wall Street has infiltrated every aspect of the ‘new government’. While:

At the same time, Obama has campaigned against restrictions on bonuses paid to executives at insurance giant American International Group (AIG) and other bailed-out firms, and repeatedly assured Wall Street that he will slash social spending, including Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

The case of Lawrence Summers, director of the National Economic Council and Obama’s top economic adviser, highlights the politically incestuous character of relations between the Obama administration and the American financial elite.
Last year, Summers pocketed $5 million as a managing director of D.E. Shaw, one of the biggest hedge funds in the world, and another $2.7 million for speeches delivered to Wall Street firms that have received government bailout money. This includes $45,000 from Citigroup and $67,500 each from JPMorgan Chase and the now-liquidated Lehman Brothers.
For a speech to Goldman Sachs executives, Summers walked away with $135,000. This is substantially more than double the earnings for an entire year of high-seniority auto workers, who have been pilloried by the Obama administration and the media for their supposedly exorbitant and “unsustainable” wages.
Alluding diplomatically to the flagrant conflict of interest revealed by these disclosures, the New York Times noted on Saturday: “Mr. Summers, the director of the National Economic Council, wields important influence over Mr. Obama’s policy decisions for the troubled financial industry, including firms from which he recently received payments.”
Summers was a leading advocate of banking deregulation. As treasury secretary in the second Clinton administration, he oversaw the lifting of basic financial regulations dating from the 1930s. The Times article notes that among his current responsibilities is deciding “whether—and how—to tighten regulation of hedge funds.”
Summers is not an exception. He is rather typical of the Wall Street insiders who comprise a cabinet and White House team that is filled with multi-millionaires, presided over by a president who parlayed his own political career into a multi-million-dollar fortune.
Michael Froman, deputy national security adviser for international economic affairs, worked for Citigroup and received more than $7.4 million from the bank from January of 2008 until he entered the Obama administration this year. This included a $2.25 million year-end bonus handed him this past January, within weeks of his joining the Obama administration.
Citigroup has thus far been the beneficiary of $45 billion in cash and over $300 billion in government guarantees of its bad debts.
David Axelrod, the Obama campaign’s top strategist and now senior adviser to the president, was paid $1.55 million last year from two consulting firms he controls. He has agreed to buyouts that will garner him another $3 million over the next five years. His disclosure claims personal assets of between $7 and $10 million.
Obama’s deputy national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, was paid $3.9 million by a Washington law firm whose major clients include Citigroup, Goldman Sachs and the private equity firm Apollo Management.
Louis Caldera, director of the White House Military Office, made $227,155 last year from IndyMac Bancorp, the California bank that heavily promoted subprime mortgages. It collapsed last summer and was placed under federal receivership.
The presence of multi-millionaire Wall Street insiders extends to second- and third-tier positions in the Obama administration as well. David Stevens, who has been tapped by Obama to head the Federal Housing Administration, is the president and chief operating officer of Long and Foster Cos., a real estate brokerage firm. From 1999 to 2005, Stevens served as a top executive for Freddie Mac, the federally-backed mortgage lending giant that was bailed out and seized by federal regulators in September.


Read more at Global Research

But there are rumblings of distress amongst the populace who are beginning to shrug off the election torpor of Happy Days are Here Again. Even with the red alert of The Big Swine Flu Distraction.

Guns and ammunition are disappearing off the shelves. Dry goods are being accumulated by those who have a few pennies of their own left.

The harsh and painful reality of millions of homeless, foodless and jobless, corruption at the highest level and no one taking care of the store at home is finally beginning to sink in.

We are on our own. Pass the Koolaid.

23 comments:

  1. Hi WWW

    Excellent. I share your concern. Barack Obama clearly lacks a healthy coterie of critical friends and has always been in danger of being hung out to dry in my view. I suspect he thinks he's both smart enough and ethical enough to manage in the shark pool and also believes that he MUST and that could be his undoing.

    xxx

    Pants

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  2. Very interesting, thanks for that. I haven't seen anything nearly as critical in the British media. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose, it seems. I was always impressed by Obama's charisma, but I was also aware that his actual policies were hard to discover. Now the reality is coming clear.

    As I've said before, what exactly is he doing for those who are jobless, homeless, penniless and ill? Not very much as far as I can see.

    Pilger is always worth a read, a journalist of rare integrity.

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  3. Thanks for that - much better than we get over in the UK...

    Why do I get the feeling that a nice dry cave in the middle of nowhere with a plot of veg-growing land and some chickens might be the best place to be for the next forty years?

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  4. Meet the new thugs.same as the old thugs eh. All this is the last days of the last world empire.

    I believe that things are gonna get even more interesting in the coming few years left to the American Empire.

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  5. Pants:
    IMO there are none to be admired in his immediate posse. All are somehow tarred with some dirty feathers.
    PS - did you see the Nobless Oblige Award I bestowed on you?
    XO
    WWW

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  6. Nick:
    And as always, the press are not doing their jobs.(I know it begs the question of if they ever did).
    It seems like they are all still bending over.
    Pilger is one of the few in the world who is unafraid to speak the truth.
    XO
    WWW

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  7. Jo:
    Speaking of, we just dug out another bed for turnips and carrots in the garden yesterday and I'm thinking of chickens....
    XO
    WWW

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  8. GFB:
    You and me both, friend. The rumblings from agri-business, grain and other dry-goods growers are as tin to the ear.
    I heard on CBC that we are 20 years behind on planning for these days. 20 years!!!
    XO
    WWW

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  9. I'm going to have to be the odd one out here, WWW. The feeling deep in my own gut is quite the opposite to your own.

    I fell out with John Pilger some time ago - though I admired him a lot back in the day. I feel he has joined the drama for drama's sake brigade.

    Give Obama a chance for goodness sake. He can't do exactly what he would like to do - he has congress and Republican opposition to deal with. He needs "some of the same old faces" the ones who caused the mayhem - they are the ones who must assist in sorting it out - for now.

    Obama is catching flack for what went on for 8 years during Bush and co's administration. It was always going to happen.

    I have confidence in Obama's judgement, I think he's going about things in the only logical way. There was never going to be a perfect way to get out of a swamp of shit without some smell sticking.

    100 days is not enough time from which to judge him. Give the guy a chance y'all...PLEASE!!!

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  10. WWW, very well put together. You summed it up well.... Change was only a rhetoric that worked for a short while. Now that the honeymoon period is over, let's see what will they come up with next to put the public into a deep deep sleep??

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  11. It's a very disturbing message you send us, WWW, but in reality it doesn't much differ from all the other Western Democratic governments, does it? We thought he was the son of God and now he's turned out to be a politician like all the others in the Western world.

    Our own Social Democrats have sold out to the Christian Center Rights who are holier than the pope if you would believe them, and they are selling the country up the river.

    I have lost my faith and I hope that here in the Netherlands some crisis evolves, so that we will be forced to have elections and get a proper government in, by the people and for the people.

    My Obama balloon has been burst, it is sad, but that's the way it goes. I'll keep a close eye on him and his actions, but please keep us informed. You are doing an excellent job. We don't hear much in the Netherlands that's critical. Not even after his first 100 days.

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  12. Why is Obama bringing down the auto industry on purpose? The same reason he's bringing down the economy.

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  13. T:
    While I get that most Americans want to continue hoping, I really, really do, the facts of the first 100 days are very, very clear to me.
    When Obama had the chance to really speak up and act in a civilized fashion unlike his predecessor, he has not. We have to deal with facts and not feelings.
    One of the facts that really devastated me was the suppression of the torture evidence which involved the raping of innocent children in front of their mothers.
    The reason he suppresses this? Not for 'security' as he righteously (and dishonestly) says, but to further protect his criminal predecessors.
    He knows the American people would rise up and demand he prosecute them.
    XO
    WWW

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  14. Nevin:
    H'mm let's see. Iran? Another attack on US soil?
    There's something afoot. Another distraction is called for!
    XO
    WWW

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  15. Irene:
    We are similar here in that the 'right' is in power, both in the province I'm in and in Canada. And no one, but no one is addressing anything like the real issues. I feel I'm living in an alternative universe - much as you do, I suspect. I think everyone is watching The Anointed for some guidance but it is all smoke and mirrors and more of American Empire. And there's nothing left!
    XO
    WWW

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  16. Foxwood:
    Welcome!
    Now to be fair, Obama inherited a whole slimy mess of a fallen economy.
    He had the opportunity to do something rather than invest in the death knell of the oil based economy and bailing out the fraudulent bankers and insurance companies. And he didn't.
    XO
    WWW

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  17. Oh, say it isn't so...I still so want to believe in Obama, and fairies, and Santa Claus...I dont have all the facts and figures that you have unearthed...I dont want to crack the ice and see the cold, dark water lurking underneath (the waterboarding of America)...I am still gliding along the surface in the sunshine...please, let it all be possible ...but, thanks to your article, I am going to be paying more attention...

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  18. Marylou:
    "the waterboarding of America" - I love it. Well said.
    I think we all need to be awake and alert to protect ourselves. I desperately wanted to believe in Obama and the toothfairy but he is singing from the exactly the same page in the songbook as old Dumbya.
    XO
    WWW

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  19. A friend of mine who has worked at high level in the world of international security (for politicians and celebrities alike), said that in his view good people who got to the top always ended up being psychologically 'eaten' (ie controlled) by others with hidden agendas who were already there and who were the power behind the throne.) My friend also has this theory that because celebrities are almost completely controlled by their managers to the extent of often marrying who their managers plan would do their careers the most favours, they kick up an enormous fuss if their ludicrous sandwich requests are not just so when they arrive as it is pretty well the only are of control they have left in their lives after a while. Plus they are genuinely going nutty fairly quickly under all the pressures on them/the weight of their own ego's as well.

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  20. Laura:
    A very interesting take on the whole cult of celebrity (and I include politicians in that). I haven't a doubt in my head that Obama is controlled not in any small way by the debts he accumulated to the ones who crowned him.
    A rock and a hard place and he affirms again today that he breaks his campaign promises by these kangaroo courts he is validating.
    XO
    WWW

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  21. Thank you for an excellent post.
    I think the name of the song (by Carrie Underwood) is "I TOLD YOU SO".

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  22. Brighid:
    Sad but all roads lead to the truth, it was lovely while it lasted, we all need something to dream on!
    XO
    WWW

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