The Imperial Presidency (or how Obama f%$#ed us)

TL/DR: Obama, through cult of personality, has amassed unprecedented executive power, and now cedes that power to Trump

Bush the Lesser led the most imperial presidency since Nixon, at least up until his time. With no patience for due process, Bush set about changing the law through executive action. Bush showed very little knowledge of either law or political history, he may have been acting out of ignorance or bad advice.

In 2008 candidate Obama (rightfully) decried this as an unconstitutional power grab.

Evidently, sometime during the Obama regime the Constitution was changed, because it did not take long to change his tune. Obama is well aware that he is acting extra-Constitutionally, he is smart and he has studied the document.

The Constitution has not changed, still Obama has expanded executive overreach far beyond anything in history outside times of major war; certainly far beyond anything that Nixon could dream of.

Now Trump, the most unprepared person in modern history–whose behavior and character can best be described as erratic–is assuming presidential power.

I would love to see someone like candidate Obama become president some day.

What Syria is Really About

If you listen to the religious wackos, war in Syria is about prophecy. Isaiah 17:1 states:

“See, Damascus will no longer be a city
but will become a heap of ruins.”

Thankfully, those nutjobs are few, and Syria is about something else.

The Syrian civil war has been ongoing since the start of the Arab Spring in Winter 2010/2011.  Recently Assad has started to gain the upper hand, so why risk international reprisal now? I think the proof of chemical weapons use is incontrovertible, the proof of who used them is what is ambiguous. If it was not in Assad’s interests to use chemical weapons, then “cui bono” from drawing the US into the conflict?

The rebels in Syria are reported to be 10-20 percent Al Quida allies, they have committed uncounted atrocities against non-combatants particularly Christians.  They would benefit from gaining the US as their de facto airforce.

Israel and Syria have been at war (of varying degrees) since 1948, with 3 major conflicts during that period. Borders, water, weapons transfers and support for terrorism are all at play.  Israel took the Golan Heights from Syria and has made numerous, if periodic, airstrikes into Syria since then. Israel would benefit from a US attack on Syria.

Obama is under fire. Attention is focused on the continuous leaks of documents related to the NSA’s extra-Constitutional actions under the current (and previous) US regime.  Diverting attention must be a primary subject of any Obama strategy meetings. With active troops out of Iraq and our defeat in Afghanistan, numerous psychologically scarred and battle hardened troops are preparing to join the US unemployed. What do you think will be the result of this on domestic tranquility? There is little doubt that Obama will gain in numerous ways from an attack on Syria (and even more from a prolonged occupation).

If chemical weapons is really what the current saber rattling is about, the logical reaction would be to insert a strike team and isolate, secure, and extract the chemical stockpiles.  But of course, you can’t do that with cruise missiles.  Then again, this was never about chemical weapons. Cui bono?

Obama’s Attack on the Poor

Back in the day we used to call them limousine liberals, I guess the current generation would call them latte liberals.  Obama’s first term places him squarely amongst them.  Espousing platitudes supporting the poor while sitting on their back keeping them down.

The writing was on the wall with Obama’s early signature legislation SCHIP.  This brought health care to middle class kids whose parents would rather buy Nikes and X-Boxes than healthcare for their children.  Funded with a huge regressive tax on the poor and marginalized.  Next up was his clunker buy back, helping fund new cars for the middle class and then destroying perfectly good cars that could have helped give those in poverty transportation to gain employment.  Both of these programs, and a score more, served to take wealth from the bottom 10% and give it to the middle 50%.

The poverty rate has now reached peaks not seen in my lifetime (I am 47), over 6 million more American’s have fallen into poverty since Obama took office.  Extreme poverty has escalated under Obama.  Extreme poverty,  defined as existing at less than 50% of the poverty level, has gone up from 6% to nearly 7%, a 17% increase.

Even though Obama “solved” healthcare, the number of uninsured has risen every year of his presidency.

Obama loves a photo op, off he jets to Colorado to be seen commiserating with 50 gun violence victims.  But here in Oakland, CA those rates are just another month in the hood.  He jetted out here this past week, but he had no commiseration for these victims, they are poor…and black, they don’t make good photo ops.  No, he only came to raise money, money the city could have spent on these victims was used to protect Obama…while he raised campaign cash.

There is no sign that things would change in a second term, we really can’t afford another 4 years of the sort of “help” that Obama offers the poor.

I sit on a man’s back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure myself and others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means – except by getting off his back.
–Leo Tolstoy

Demand the Whitehouse Release the Memo

Article 3, Section 3 of the US Constitution:

Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort. No Person shall be convicted of Treason unless on the Testimony of two Witnesses to the same overt Act, or on Confession in open Court.

The Congress shall have Power to declare the Punishment of Treason, but no Attainder of Treason shall work Corruption of Blood, or Forfeiture except during the Life of the Person attainted. (emphasis added)

Anwar al-Awlaki, a US citizen, was targeted for assassination after being placed on a secret presidential kill or capture list.  This is clearly unconstitutional (see above).  President Obama, a former constitutional scholar, is clearly aware that his actions are outside constitutional bounds.

The Atlantic has an article up today discussing this issue.

I have created a petition at whitehouse.gov demanding that the Obama regime release the Justice Department memo authorizing the extra-judicial killing of al-Awlaki, I would appreciate you taking the time to sign the petition.

Where is the Outcry?

When George Bush flouted the law to wiretap and torture there was a huge outcry.  Emanating mainly from the left but also to some small degree from the right.  Now Obama has taken it up a huge step, putting a hit on an American citizen with no evidence of a crime presented, then following through with an extra-judicial execution.  Where is the outcry?  Extra-judicial execution is just a longer way of saying murder…  A US citizen was murdered by the US government with no trial, no evidence, and certainly no legal basis for the action.  Where is the outcry?

The left is quiet.  They are even apologetic, after all Anwar al-Awlaki was a “terrorist”, he deserved it they say.  Terrorist by whose testimony?  All we have to go on is the president’s word…and that would be summarily rejected as hearsay, not admissible.  Do we have any other evidence?  To my knowledge we don’t.  Let’s for a moment believe this inadmissible evidence, does that give the president the power to supersede the 5th Amendment and execute him without resort to judge, jury, due process, etc…? No, No, and NO!

The only (albeit muted) outcry that I have heard has been from the right.  Ron Paul stated that it may be an impeachable offense (if it isn’t, then what would be?) and was a sign of our slipping toward tyranny.

First they murdered Randy Weaver’s family, but I didn’t speak up because they tied him to a white supremacist; then they massacred scores at a compound in Waco, but I didn’t speak up because I’m not a religious fanatic; then they murdered al-Awlaki, but I didn’t speak up because they claimed he was a terrorist; then they came for me…

I thought Obama would lead us back from the precipice that GW left us teetering on, instead he pushes us over.

Here are a couple of articles questioning the President’s powers to execute US citizens:

The Shipler Report posits Crime or War,

and Salon has a nice write up (watch the video at Salon).

And here is Greenwald being interviewed on the Sam Seder show.

How Obama Led Me to Hate the Left

(really it is the so-called left…the US doesn’t have a left, just a bunch of anti republican democrats who pretend and pay lip service to being left)

During the Bush years, the American left was alive and well, protesting US imperialism, contesting US global hegemony, and generally voicing dissent against policies that discriminate and punish the down trodden.  Good leftists, one and all.  Code Pink, Move On, etc…

Then with much flair and pageantry Obama came to power.  We held our collective breath, anticipating with hope the changes that were coming.  Instead Obama surrounded himself with Wallstreet bankers, gave a bazillion in bailouts to corporate crooks, and expanded our foreign wars into far off lands.  Holy cow!  In most ways Obama is indistinguishable from Bush…the color of his skin is different, but policy wise…not much difference.  His signature achievement is healthcare, but even that is a boondoggle.  He took single payer off the table before he even started negotiating, and hoped for change was lost in the shuffle…most of it hasn’t taken effect, and the way things are going now…never will.  Bush’s expansion of Medicare was more meaningful that any alleged improvement under Obama.

So it is clear, the Obama presidency is a failure, he is a useful idiot for the moneyed class.  So obviously, the left should be up in arms, only they aren’t.  Nobody raised a whimper when he extended the Bush tax cuts, now known as the Bush/Obama tax cuts.  No one raised a cry when he expands war to a new muslim nation on a monthly basis.  No hue is heard when Obama puts out hit squads for American citizens who have never been charged let alone convicted of any crime.  Guantanamo is still open for business, the rich continue to get richer, and poverty increases unabated.  All of this is expected from any corporate shill that gets elected president, so why should it make me hate the left?

No one complains, the so called left is compliant, complacent, and apologetic.  They are still whining about the Bush tax cuts long after they have segued into the Obama tax cuts.  The left is only opposed to wars started by people with an R after their name.

Let’s be clear, Bush is gone…he is a historical footnote.  Let’s quit blaming him.  The prisoners in Guantanamo are there by executive order, they could be removed by executive order, if the president had the will.   Where is code pink?  Why aren’t they throwing paint on this administration?  I guess war is OK as long as it is a democratic war.  Imperialism is evidently OK as long as it is democratic imperialism.

And that is why I hate the American left, because they are not left of center.  They are simple useful shills for the democratic party…if democrats opened concentration camps,  so-called left would help fill them. Disgusting, repugnant, and makes me ill.

Anybody but Obama 2012!

How Times Have Changed…

When the Viet Nam War expanded in 1970/71 to include strikes into Cambodia and Laos, the US anti-war movement was up in arms.  Mass walkouts and protests culminated in the Kent State shootings.  The expansion of the war led to Australia and New Zealand leaving the battlefield.  This was followed shortly thereafter with the release of the Pentagon Papers and subsequently  to the US retreat.

Fast forward 40 years.  Another president fighting a losing war not of his choosing decides to expand into other countries in a last ditch effort to stem the tide of insurgents.  Strikes in Pakistan and Yemen escalate sharply. Where is the outrage?  Where is the protest?  As in the past, government leaks expose the entire criminal enterprise, but there is nary a peep let alone a concerted effort to put an end to it.

The times have changed, but it is WE who have failed the test.

What has the president done for me:

Set up federal grants to states to provide money to help those with disabilities to work from home;

Created a fund to encourage technologies that aid those with disabilities;

Created the President’s Plan for AIDs relief, the largest contribution ever to combat a single disease;

The President’s Malaria Initiative, goal of cutting malaria in half, currently saves about 15 million lives per year;

Medicare Prescription Drug initiative, helped cut the cost of prescription drugs for seniors by 40%

Launched a global threat reduction program that removed enough fissionable material to produce 30 bombs;

Persuaded Libya to give up its WMD and advanced missile programs;

Cut in half the US stockpile of nuclear weapons;

Increased funding for National Endowment for Democracy by 150%;

Provided more than 1.5 billion for aid to Darfur;

Added preventative screening to Medicare funding, saving untold number of lives;

Provided funding to open 1200 community health centers;

Funded Supplemental Education Services which provides after school tutoring to move than half a million kids;

Pushed the US to commit more than $22 billion for climate change technologies;

Created the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument, the largest in American history;

Created Project Safe Neighborhoods, helping bring crime down to a 30 year low;

Greatly increased budgets of National Science Foundation and National Institute of Health;

Greatly expanded the roles of LGBT and other minorities in his cabinet;

Signed the Great Lakes Legacy Act to begin cleaning contaminated sediment in the great lakes;

Signed Brownfields legislation to speed up the clean up of abandoned industrial sites.

These are just a few of the things that GW Bush accomplished as president.  Still we do not give him a pass on being a war criminal.  So why are we giving Obama a pass?

Anyone but Obama 2012!  Get on the train, let’s put this war criminal in Guantanamo.

A Great Leader vs A Poor Leader

Roosevelt put people to work during hard times.  He built infrastructure: bridges, tunnels, trails and other things that helped lead us to prosper later on.  Go to any national park and you see the results: stone walls, trails, lodges, and other great works that still stand over half a century latter.  These will probably still be standing half a century from now.
Compare this to the hot tar projects that nObama funded. These “shovel ready” projects are mostly shit.  I’ve seen nObama’s crappy hot tar paths right next to Roosevelt’s 70 year old achievements…the differences are startling. These new projects won’t last ten years, let alone a hundred.
nObama lacks the vision and force of personality that makes a great leader. At this point I would be happy to see him rise to the level of mediocrity. But I won’t hold my breath waiting.

What I wouldn’t give to have candidate Obama as president instead of the incompetent war criminal we are saddled with.

(posted from my phone)

Who’s the Liar?

There is an “f” word whose definition includes corporations and government colluding against the populace.

Today I woke up to the news that BP has plans to capture 2 million gallons of oil per day. Well that certainly is a relief because the government’s worst case scenario is that it is leaking less than 1.7 million gallons per day.  Problem solved, let’s see what else is on TV.

Or is it?  They like to switch the numbers up, sometimes we will be talking barrels, the next sentence we switch to gallons, and then back again.  All part of a concerted effort to downplay what is going on in the Gulf.

For the longest time the worst case flow rate was 19000 barrels a day.  Then BP started siphoning off 630,000 gallons (15000 barrels) per day and it had no noticeable impact on the flow.  That same day the Obama regime announced that the flow rate was actually between 20 and 40 thousand barrels.  Great way to write history as we go along.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that BP manages to capture their promised 48,000 bbl/day.  I am betting the government will release new numbers that very day showing that the flow was actually closer to 60,000 bbl/day.  And so it will continue.  As each lie is exposed they let a little more of the truth out.

BP and the government continue their collusion to hide the magnitude of what is going on.  The media they can’t buy off with access, they exclude from news gathering.  And we can all stand around and look surprised when the oil washes into the Dry Tortugas.

Oh but we should rest assured, Obama has a speech planned.  I guess that will make everything all better.

I think the above stands on its own, but to head off criticism, I’ll offer up some ideas that, if taken by the president, would restore his credibility in my eyes.

He could announce that hazardous waste clean up trainings will be given in major metro areas across the US.  He could announce that he has cut deals with Amtrak, Greyhound and the major airlines to use their excess capacity to ferry volunteers to the afflicted areas.  He should immediately mobilize every willing person to cleaning the beaches before the oil hits (after the oil comes ashore that garbage becomes hazardous waste and the costs of disposing of it skyrocket).  FEMA should set up tent cities to handle the influx of volunteers.  He should use his speech to call for every one able to go beat the oil back from the shores and work to get it cleaned up.  He should wrap the whole call to arms in the flag and declare that it is our national duty to prevent the destruction of some of the most fragile (and beautiful, as well as life sustaining) ecosystems.

But he won’t do that.  Instead he will say that he met with BP and they are working to get the oil stopped.  He will announce that he will print, borrow, spend untold billions and state that he will not rest until this is cleaned up.  He will feel the pain of  the economic impact on the gulf area, yadda yadda yadda…

By now we all know Obama can give a pretty speech.  However, it is becoming increasingly clear that he is impotent to actually getting anything done.

This battle is not winnable, but with enough effort we can surely minimize our losses.  Unfortunately, there seems very little will, starting at the top.

Edit: Fox is reporting that BP is planning on capturing 80,000 bbl/day by mid July!  How bad is this thing?  That is 3.4 million gallons per day!!  An Exxon Valdez every 3 days.

Edit 2: CNN is currently reporting that the government has raised the amount of oil pouring into the gulf to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels per day.  I can’t currently link to it as it is just a breaking news headline at the top of the page without a story attached.  Should we place bets on when they admit that it is over 80,000?  (6-15-10, 2:30 PM PST)