Posts Tagged ‘bankers’

The only reason you’d continue to support a man like Barack Obama in 2012 is that you haven’t been paying any attention to his policy choices over the last 3 years.

Don’t misunderstand me. I’m not advocating voting for Mitt Romney. The man is a well-oiled political robot, and the generally negative response he’s received from pillars of his own party illustrates that clearly enough. For the life of me, I’m not sure how anyone on either side of the political spectrum could possibly be enthused about the current election cycle.

But this article is for all those in my generation who continue to believe in the empty promises of the Obama administration, despite all evidence to the contrary. This is an easy-to-use fact sheet on why Barack Obama does not deserve your vote in 2012.

Obama’s administration has upheld the Bush doctrine of pre-emptive war, further stripped the American people of their civil liberties, overstepped its Constitutional bounds, gotten into bed with the bankers and the nation’s wealthiest citizens at the expense of the average working man, and has broken innumerable campaign promises, governing in direct opposition to the once-hopeful slogan of “Change We Can Believe In”.

What follows is a short list of five reasons to not vote for Barack Obama.

#1: Passage of the NDAA

On December 31st, 2011, while everyone was busy ringing in the New Year, Barack Obama quietly signed into law a piece of legislation far more draconian than anything offered up by the Bush administration. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, which outlined the budget for U.S. defense expenditures at home and abroad, includes a notable section (1021) under the heading of “Counterterrorism” which allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens suspected of aiding and abetting terrorist activities, without trial.

Section 1021 reads as follows:

Congress affirms that the authority of the President to use all necessary and appropriate force…includes the authority for the Armed Forces of the United States to detain covered persons (as defined in subsection (b)) pending disposition under the law of war.

“Covered persons” is subsequently defined as “any person who has committed a belligerent act or has directly supported such hostilities in aid of [terrorist] enemy forces.” A “belligerent act” is never defined, and neither is it stipulated that an individual must be found guilty in a court of law in order to be treated as a supporter of terrorism. Suspicion alone is enough.

The Section continues, stating that “disposition under the law of war” is to be interpreted as referring to “detention under the law of war without trial until the end of the hostilities…” This effectively nullifies the Writ of Habeas Corpus, which is applied to all citizens in the Constitution of the United States, and guarantees them a fair and free trial in civilian court. And, of course, the “end of hostilities” is open to debate as well. The “war on terror” is a war declared on an abstract concept, not a nation state or even a particular organization of people, so how and when can it possibly end?

For his part, in the signing statement, President Obama assures us that his “Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens”, and that the government “will interpret section 1021 in a manner that ensures that any detention it authorizes complies with the Constitution, the laws of war, and all other applicable law”.

But very few of us will be satisfied with hoping that our government will not choose to exercise the power it’s been newly invested with. It’s a dangerous gamble.

And more to the point, as Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) made clear on the floor of the Senate, it turns out that the Obama administration insisted that the controversial provision be included and that no exemption be made for U.S. citizens. In fact, numerous proposed amendments specifying that the American people be exempt from indefinite detention were defeated, apparently under pressure from the White House. Why insist on it if you don’t plan on utilizing it?

In its defense, the Obama administration has pointed to subsection (e) of Section 1021, which reads:

Nothing in this section shall be construed to affect existing law or authorities relating to the detention of United States citizens, lawful resident aliens of the United States, or any other persons who are captured or arrested in the United States.

But this is, as critics have pointed out, simply “meaningless rhetoric” designed to assuage our fear without actually guaranteeing our rights. The folks over at The Tenth Amendment Center, a civil liberties watchdog group, have this to say about it:

This provision is sometimes touted as protecting citizens because it preserves existing Supreme Court decisions. The problem is that, as yet, there are no Supreme Court decisions that squarely provide the full measure of habeas corpus protection to citizens or legal aliens accused within our borders. This is true because neither the Bush nor the Obama administration has had the audacity to round up U.S. citizens without our borders and hold them indefinitely without trial.

Johnathan Turley of The Guardian describes this bill as a “Mayan moment” for civil libertarians. “2012,” he says, “is when the nation embraced authoritarian powers with little more than a pause between rounds of drinks.”

#2: Extension of the PATRIOT Act Without Revision

The PATRIOT Act, considered by most civil liberties groups to constitute a gross invasion of privacy, came up for a one year renewal in early 2011. Barack Obama  had campaigned on the notion that legislation like the PATRIOT Act ought to be revised to include regulatory oversight, in order to avoid any possible abuse of power.

Obama’s official campaign statement regarding the war on terror, entitled “Barack Obama: The War We Need To Win”, stated that: “As president, Barack Obama would revisit the PATRIOT Act to ensure that there is real and robust oversight of tools like National Security Letters, sneak-and-peek searches, and the use of the material witness provision.”

But in the run-up to renewal, the Obama administration dramatically reversed its stance on the bill. Not only did Barack Obama fully support the Act, sans revision, he issued an official statement requesting that it be extended for not one year, but three! The statement made clear that the President “would strongly prefer enactment of reauthorizing legislation that would extend these authorities until December 2013.”

The Act’s renewal was successful, and specific provisions again came up for re-authorization in the middle of 2011. Obama unconditionally supported their renewal, as well, and as Politifact reports: “By reauthorizing the Patriot Act, President Obama guaranteed (barring any judicial action) that the law will live on in its current form until June 1, 2015.”

And this, of course, is not the extent of Obama’s trampling on the freedoms of the American public. The recent passage of CISPA, a draconian piece of legislation aimed at imposing government control on the internet, or the Executive Order entitled “National Defense Resource Preparedness”, which allows the Executive branch to seize control of the nation’s industries, transportation and energy, as well as to utilize the military domestically however the President sees fit; all of this represents a systemic pattern, not a handful of isolated incidents.

#3: Murder of American Citizens Overseas

On September 30th, 2011, Barack Obama ordered the targeted killing of American and Yemeni Muslim Imam, Anwar al-Awlaki, who was suspected (but never tried or found guilty) of being a top-ranking member of Al-Qaeda, working for the organization as one of its most influential recruiters.

Several weeks later on October 14th,  his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was also murdered in a CIA drone strike, while on his way to a barbecue. Abdulrahman was a full American citizen, born in Denver, Colorado.

Al-Awlaki and his son were just two names on the government’s targeted killing list, which was started during the Bush administration and has been continued and added to during Obama’s tenure in office.

The targeted killing of American citizens, depriving them of the due-process guaranteed to them under the Constitution is more than cause for concern. It represents a fundamental violation of our most basic right as members of American society. The administration’s justification for the murder of al-Awlaki is that there was no other way to eliminate the threat he posed to the country.

Of course, critics have pointed out that this would in no way be considered an acceptable argument in the context of domestic criminal behavior. Ted Kaczynski and Timothy McVeigh, for example, could not have been killed in an air strike without due process simply because arresting them was difficult.

Meanwhile, Eric Holder (who has advocated the suspension of Miranda rights for any American citizen suspected of aiding and abetting terrorist organizations) stated unequivocally that the murder of American citizens falls within the purview of the President, and that it’s legally justified under the following three circumstances:

First, [if] the U.S. government has determined, after a thorough and careful review, that the individual poses an imminent threat of violent attack against the United States; second, [if] capture is not feasible; and third, [if] the operation would be conducted in a manner consistent with applicable law of war principles.

Which puts our fates squarely in the hands of the Executive branch and its “thorough and careful review” (the details of which are not disclosed to the general public), rather than in the hands of a jury of our peers. Again, we’re asked to simply trust that the government won’t overstep its bounds. And were trust enough, we never would have needed to depart from the monarchy.

This is Orwellian reasoning, and were it coming from the mouths of the well-known players of the Bush administration (say Rumsfeld or Ashcroft), the left would quickly condemn it. As it stands, however, there’s been relatively little public outcry over this flagrant violation of Constitutionally guaranteed rights outlined in the 5th Amendment, which states clearly that the government cannot deprive citizens of life or liberty without due process, regardless of suspected criminal activity.

#4: Extension of the Bush Tax Cuts for the 1%

On December 17th, 2010, President Obama signed a bill extending the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans for another two years.

The tax cuts amounted to 858 billion dollars of lost revenue between 2010 and 2012. That’s 858 billion of revenue lost during a time when we’re actively pushing to cut the salaries of teachers, to layoff firefighters and police officers, and to bust up public sector unions in order to scrimp and save a few pennies here and there.

The Obama administration, for its part, defends itself by stating that if they hadn’t extended the tax cuts, all legislative efforts favored by Democrats would have been blocked by the Republicans in the Senate.

However, as we’ll see below, Obama’s relationship with big business, big banking, and the wealthiest individuals in the country is far from reluctant.

So when Obama says (as he did just a few nights ago, while “slow-jamming” the news with Jimmy Fallon) that those on the right want to pay back the national debt only as long as it doesn’t include taxing billionaires, remember that it was Obama who put his signature to a bill that cost the country nearly 900 billion dollars for the sake of easing the burden on the nation’s wealthiest.

#5: In Bed With the Bankers

Obama, during the 2008 election cycle, received $1,013,091 from Goldman Sachs, $808,799 from J.P. Morgan, $736,771 from Citigroup, $624,618 from Time Warner, and multiple millions of dollars from various other moneyed interests in the financial sector.

Compare that to McCain’s donor list, which features the same corporate players, but about half of the amount of money donated from each company.

Obama’s former Chief of Staff, Rahm Emmanuel (now Mayor of Chicago), earned millions of dollars in investment banking after leaving the Clinton White House in 1999, much of it working in collusion with Goldman Sachs.

Then there’s the revolving door between Goldman and the Obama administration. More than a few prominent members of Obama’s team have enjoyed a long and profitable relationship with the banking giant. McClatchy reports:

Several former Goldman executives hold senior positions in the Obama administration, including Gary Gensler, the chairman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission; Mark Patterson, a former Goldman lobbyist who is chief of staff to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner; and Robert Hormats, the undersecretary of state for economic, energy and agricultural affairs.

Meanwhile, allegations surfaced long ago that Goldman used its influence with the Obama administration to address charges of fraud leveled against them by the Securities and Exchange Commission. During their bout of legal troubles with the SEC, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein visited the White House on at least four separate occasions to meet with President Obama. Their topics of conversation remain a mystery, of course.

And Obama’s collusion with the banking system goes further than that. In 2010, Obama began actively pursuing negotiations with five of the largest banking organizations in the country, stating that he would drop all investigations into their mortgage-related crimes (which caused the 2008 financial crisis) in exchange for a one-time payoff of roughly 20 billion dollars to the American people.

The deal was struck in February of this year, and the banks agreed to a 26 billion dollar settlement in exchange for immunity. The New York Times reports:

After months of painstaking talks, government authorities and five of the nation’s biggest banks have agreed to a $26 billion settlement that could provide relief to nearly two million current and former American homeowners harmed by the bursting of the housing bubble, state and federal officials said.

Reuters continues:

In exchange, the banks would get immunity from civil lawsuits by the states, as well as similar guarantees by the Justice Department and Department of Housing and Urban Development, which have participated in the talks. State and federal officials declined to say if any form of immunity from criminal prosecution also is under discussion.

The deal comes on the heels of new revelations that the banks continue to engage in all of the risky and potentially illegal practices which brought about the 2008 collapse. According to Reuters:

…major banks and other loan servicers have continued to file questionable documents in foreclosure cases. These include false mortgage assignments, and promissory notes with suspect or missing “endorsements,” which prove ownership. The Reuters report also showed continued “robo-signing,” in which lenders’ employees or outside contractors churn out reams of documents without fully understanding their content.

Critics contend that this deal amounts to bankers buying their way out of jail. Which of course it does. This from

[Iowa Attorney General Tom] Miller has repeatedly lied, on behalf of Obama, that the banks would be granted only limited immunity from their crimes, despite multiple leaks from within his group to the London’s Financial Times and the Wall Street Journal, insisting that in fact, the banks will be given a “Get Out of Jail Free” card for everything.

Obama, beholden as he is to the banking system and big business, is no friend to the average, American worker. His record over the last three years speaks for itself.

(BONUS!) #6: Warmonger in Chief

Yeah, I know I said “Top Five”, but this is too important to ignore.

In March of 2011, the Obama administration began airstrikes in support of rebel forces, aimed at ousting Colonel Muammar Gaddafi from power in Libya.

We have spent upwards of 1 billion dollars in Libya, though that’s not what’s gotten politicians from both sides of the aisle riled up. President Obama, who campaigned on the rule of law, and portrayed himself as the anti-Bush, the candidate who would respect Congressional authority and reign in the Executive branch, never sought Congressional approval for military action in Libya.

Under the War Powers Act of 1973, the President has 60 days from the beginning of any conflict to obtain official Congressional authorization for the use of military force. Obama, in a move which ruffled the feathers of many of the members of his own party, simply refused to comply. His administration stated flatly that the rules don’t apply to Libya:

“We’re not engaged in sustained fighting. There’s been no exchange of fire with hostile forces. We don’t have troops on the ground. We don’t risk casualties to those troops. None of the factors, frankly, speaking more broadly, has risked the sort of escalation that Congress was concerned would impinge on its war-making power.”

And further:

The president said he welcomed “Congressional action in support of the mission,” which “would underline the U.S. commitment.” But the administration argues this “support” is not required. It says the action in Libya is not war but, euphemistically, a “limited kinetic action.”

But many – Democrats, Republicans and Independents alike – feel differently. Jules Lobel, professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, stated that the Obama administration is “definitely supporting hostilities in a context where they could be fired upon. They are involved in a war, and the fact that they are in a support role, that I don’t think is dispositive in the War Powers Resolution debate.”

Obama’s unilateral action in Libya caused Representative Walter Jones (R) of North Carolina to introduce a resolution in the House that calls for the impeachment of President Obama should he fail to obtain authorization for the use of military force from Congress in the future.

Meanwhile, Obama is ratcheting up the rhetoric in the march to war with Iran. A story released several weeks ago in the Jerusalem Post asserted that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton has issued a final warning to the Iranians: the upcoming round of diplomatic negotiations in April represent the last chance to avoid military conflict. An unidentified Russian diplomatic source is quoted as saying:

“The invasion [of Iran] will happen before the year’s end. The Israelis are, in effect, blackmailing Obama: either he supports the war, or he risks losing the support [of the Jewish lobby].”

Speaking at joint press conference with British Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this morning, President Obama seemed to deliver the same message to the world, saying that the “window for diplomacy is shrinking”:

“Tehran must understand that it cannot escape or evade the choice before it. Meet your international obligations or face the consequences.”

And in Syria, reports have been coming in for some time (unreported, for the most part, by the mainstream media) that U.S. Special Forces are already on the ground and actively seeking the destabilization of the Assad regime.

An email from Reva Bhalla, Director of Analysis for the Texas-based “intelligence provider” Stratfor Corporation, described a plan being formulated by NATO and the United States to commit terrorist attacks in Syria in an effort to topple President Bashar al-Assad.

The email, released as part of the Wikileaks Stratfor dump, includes details of a joint strategic meeting which took place at the Pentagon on December 6, 2011, and included at least one representative from both the UK and France.

Bhalla was informed by those present that, media reports to the contrary, US Special Forces commandos were already on the ground in Syria, attempting to “commit guerrilla attacks, assassination campaigns, try to break the back of the Alawite forces [Assad’s support base], elicit collapse from within.”

The email records that:

After a couple hours of talking, they said without saying that SOF teams (presumably from US, UK, France, Jordan, Turkey) are already on the ground focused on [reconnaissance] missions and training opposition forces.

It’s troubling, to say the least, picturing the President ordering unilateral military force with the Nobel Peace Prize dangling around his neck.

So what happened to the era of law and order Obama was supposed to usher in? What change did this President bring? How much hope do you have for the future after reading the above? Obama has followed in the footsteps of his murderous, Constitution-shredding predecessor.

Spread this around to those who should read it. Don’t cast your vote for yet another madman on a power trip.