Posts Tagged Obama
By Dan Rather
“Cruel and unusual,” the phrase rings in my head as I read the press reports of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget.
But to even talk about it as a budget is to miss the point. It is not a budget. It is a philosophy, and one that may come as a surprise to many of the people who voted for Mr. Trump. They will hurt in real ways. Meanwhile it confirms the worst existential fears of those who see his presidency as a threat to the very being of the United States they know and love.
This is a man who made a lot of promises on the campaign about helping those struggling in society, about leading the United States to greatness in such things as fighting disease. If anyone had any doubt about the hollowness of his words, this philosophy is all the evidence one would need.
This is a philosophy that doesn’t believe in helping the poor, rural or urban, or the power of diplomacy or the importance of science. It is a philosophy that doesn’t want to protect the environment. It doesn’t believe in the arts. This is about putting a noose around much of the United States federal government and hanging it until it shakes with life no more. In the name of reining in waste, it rains pain and suffering amongst the Americans who already are the most vulnerable. It must be remarked that many of these programs are really small budget items in the greater scheme of things, rounding errors in the federal budget. The purpose is to send a message, not to save money.
Rather than investing in what truly will make America great, this philosophy pounds its chest with false bravado. People will die because of this budget. People will suffer. Diseases will spread, and cures will not be found (really? slash science research?) Our nation will be darker and more dangerous. You know it’s a philosophy because the budget has few details really in it. And here is where I see its saving grace.
This philosophy is not the United States I think a majority of Americans would recognize. I believe that we are not so cruel, so shortsighted, so dark. It’s easy to rail against the federal government on the campaign stump, but cutting programs that people rely on, that is the kind of thing that can break through the fake news into reality very soon. We have already seen the mess that has become of the health care efforts.
This philosophy is no longer theoretical and it will be a rallying cry for a reverse philosophy. Those who champion an empathetic America, an America prepared for the challenges of the modern world, will have plenty of evidence to point to. Mr. Trump has already put many Republicans in Congress on a defensive footing, on Russia and on healthcare. Wait until the constituents start calling about how they won’t be able to heat their homes in the winter or the agricultural programs that were slashed.
“The administration’s budget isn’t going to be the budget,” Senator Marco Rubio told the Washington Post. “We do the budget here. The administration makes recommendations, but Congress does budgets.” You can expect to hear a lot more of that kind of rhetoric.
Mr. Trump’s philosophy is an opening salvo in a battle for the soul of America that is only beginning. This will be a battle fought trench by trench. But I think it is winnable and America will reconfirm a governing philosophy that is hopeful, compassionate, and wise about the role of government in making our world a safer, fairer, and more just place to live.”
Everytime Fascist-In-Chief Trump refers to refugees or immigrants for that matter, he calls them bad, evil people who must be stopped.
Every single tweet! Every single speech.
All refugees are bad people and terrorists.
In reality, of course, these are families escaping war and violence (most of it which we created) and who have lost everything. These are the most vulnerable human beings that he is going after.
It is absolutely appalling, but also sadly and effective and time-honored practice by all tyrants.
Notice how there is a remarkable similarity between the treatment of Muslims today and the treatment of Jews in Germany in the 30s It is obviously the case that the point of the Muslim ban is to instruct Americans that Muslims are an enemy: a small, well-assimilated minority that we are supposed to see not as our neighbors or as fellow citizens but as elements of an international threat that needs to be contained and quashed in order to keep Americans safe. More than that, Trump’s policy is a provocation and distraction. It is meant to provoke and instigate fear and hate while at the same time distracting us from the real criminals we all need to be afraid of, namely him an his administration.
But the Third Reich is only one example. History, especially our own, is rife with this kind of dog whistle/provoke and distract politics. And it always plays out the same.
Remember in 1971, when Richard Nixon pronounced drugs to be “public enemy number one”? That was an odd choice, to put it mildly, in a nation wrecked by poverty, racial tension, injustice, civil strife, ecological disaster, corporate domination, a hated Vietnam War and much more.
Similarity, it seems rather odd – at least to a decent person astutely aware of the realities of our times – that Fuehrer Trump and Republicans are choosing to focus on illegal immigration when there are hundreds of other things that should take precedence given our state of affairs. After all, immigrants didn’t cause the problems of this nation, but they are the easiest targets to malign and bully and vilify, just as all poor people who have nothing are.
Nixon’s war on drugs was never about drugs but about the Drug War’s primary targets: Blacks and young voters. Once the Vietnam war was over, the “war on drugs” focused on destroying the lives of people of color and poor whites and those very people were scapegoated for ills they never even caused in the first place while those very criminals that caused those ills were running the show, writing policy and in the process scapegoating the victims, the targets of those sinister policies.
In an article in Harper’s Magazine, author Dan Baum reveals that in reviewing notes of his conversation with John Ehrlichman, who had served as Nixon’s domestic policy advisory, Baum came across a bombshell admission from Nixon’s senior adviser.
Ehrlichman conceded that, in his own words:
“The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. […] We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”
It is eerily similar to what is happening now. The anti Muslim/refugee propaganda, much like the war on drugs, is designed as a tool to win votes. It has never been, and never will be, about the safety of Americans and all that other jingoistic bullshit our fascist administration will have you believe, just as the war on drugs was never about drugs and keeping Americans safe, but about the exploitation of racial resentment and fear for political gain and power.
As such, it has succeeded more than any other political scheme of the last half of the twentieth century and this is the exact same route Trump is taking this nation on once again.
I want to point out that anti-immigrant sentiments and deportations have been huge under Obama. ICE itself keeps public data on who it removed from the country during the Obama years. Even as it got better at focusing on convicted criminals, a very substantial number were noncriminals. In Fiscal Year 2015, 139,368 convicted criminals were removed by ICE; the same year, 96,045 noncriminals were removed.
That’s just the ICE deportations, which are focused on the interior of the country. Elliot Young, a history professor at Lewis & Clark College who studies immigration, tallied the numbers using government data that includes deportations by the Border Patrol and other agencies that do removals closer to the border. He concluded that 56 percent of immigrants who were removed from the country between 2009 and 2015 were noncriminals.
“Obama was more believable than Trump and it wasn’t true when he said it,” Young said of both presidents’ supposed focus on criminals. Even if the government is truly trying to target criminals, “the reality on the ground is that they are picking up lots of people who either don’t have any criminal convictions or they have low level misdemeanors or have crossed the border more than once and have been deported which then becomes a criminal offense.”
And the Trump administration has already expanded its focus beyond criminals. In the executive order he signed on January 25, Trump laid out “enforcement priorities” for removals by the Department of Homeland Security that include immigrants who have “committed acts that constitute a chargeable criminal offense” or who have “abused any program related to receipt of public benefits.” These immigrants have the exact same priority as those who have been charged for criminal offenses.
The ACLU’s Joanne Lin explained that the executive order basically makes all undocumented immigrants a “priority” for removal. “So, like, jaywalking, have you ever driven without your wallet because you left your wallet at home? That begs the question whether any of us could actually meet that standard, in all candor,” she said.
“Because it doesn’t say that you’ve been arrested, you’ve been charged, you’ve been booked, it just says you ‘committed,’” she said. “It’s very wide berth. It’s written that way because under this administration they want every undocumented immigrant to be a potential priority.”
In fact, under Obama’s watch a record number of people have been deported out of the country. As of 2015, more than 2.5 million undocumented people had been deported by immigration authorities since President Obama took office in 2009, a total which is record-setting. During the two terms of his predecessor, President George W. Bush, just over 2 million people were deported.
Stating that they are only doing it to criminals is nothing but a manipulative tool designed to get the masses behind this callous and inhumane undertaking, becasue when you say you are doing it to criminals, images of dark and brown men with knives raping and murdering and stealing from the precious white man are conjured up in peoples’ minds and they begin to wonder if maybe there isn’t some value to ridding the country of these dark elements. After all, who wants rapists and sinister criminals in their midst.
But nothing could be further from the truth and the targets of deportation and anti immigrant policy are not the evil people our administration will have you believe.
The only criminals in this country harming Americans aand posing a threat to their health and safety as well as security are Fuehrer Trump and his white supremacist, fascist administration of billionaires and bigots. And dog whistling about minorities, refugees and the poor and scapegoating them is a time honored tradition among authoritarians and charlatans such as him and his administration.
At the Democratic National Convention last week Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party pulled at the stops in order to gain traction and win points with nearly all segments of American society, which is a diverse bunch. One way of doing so was to bring in the father of a Muslim American “war hero” who brought the Democratic National Convention to its feet on Thursday night with his impassioned rebuke of Donald Trump and his anti-Muslim rhetoric.
Pakistan-born Khan, 65, appeared on stage at Wells Fargo Arena, the site of the Democratic convention, with his wife, Ghazala, at his side. He spoke of the heroism of his son, Army Capt. Humayun S.M. Khan, who was killed in action in Iraq in 2004 by an advancing vehicle loaded with hundreds of pounds of explosives. The 27-year-old soldier, who was born in the UAE, ordered his unit to halt while he walked toward the vehicle, saving the lives of his fellow soldiers from the ensuing explosion.
While I stand in full solidarity with Mr. Khan and feel deeply saddened by the loss of his son at the hands of our war mongering politicians, including Hillary Clinton whom he, ironically, supports, I ask myself: what about the parents and loved ones of all those Muslims who died at the hands of President Obama’s as well as Hillary Clinton’s actions and policies in the Middle East?
Am I supposed to be impressed and touched that these self proclaimed men and women of honor bring in a token Muslim to their convention to show their solidarity with Muslim-Americans while at the same time, and behind closed doors and as we speak, they have ordered another round of drone attacks to those very parts?
I understand that this was Clinton’s way to put a human face onto the people who are the target of Trump’s vitriol and hateful rhetoric, but why does no one talk about all the Muslims Clinton and Obama got killed with their actions, including drone strikes?
Their lives matter, too. They loved their children, too. Who is listening to their pain? Who is lowering the flags for them? Who is inviting them to talk and giving them a chance to be heard?
I am bothered by how gullible and easily fooled people are. How superficially they look at issues, how a bit of fanfare, smiles and hugs and a few words of select wisdom are enough to win them over and embrace a candidate who has not only voted for the very fraudulent Iraq war Mr. Khan’s son died in (for nothing, if I may add) but who beats the drums to war as we speak and has no intention to stop US meddling and killing in the Middle East.
Clinton believes that this (token) Muslim she paid off to support her campaign was her being the epitome of decency and inclusion, when in reality what she is doing is just using Muslims becasue it is politically expedient.
The truth is, each year thousands of Muslims, you know, the very brethren in faith of Mr. Khan, die at the hands of our troops whose missions have been signed off and approved by the likes of President Obama and, later to be, Hillary Clinton. Each year dozens, if not hundreds, of families are torn apart, killed, separated and rendered destitute due to the military actions our leaders sign off on. The current refugee crisis in Europe did not just take place in a vacuum or was brought on by itself. We had a lot to do with it.
To see no one talk about or mention that and instead celebrate Hillary Clinton as if she wasn’t a war monger who has voted for every military action in the Middle East she could vote on and who has called Palestinians in Gaza, terrorists, is disturbing and appalling.
Furthermore, by inviting these Muslim parents and using their tragedy for political gain (which, in and of itself is a pretty deplorable) both Clinton and Obama just reinforce the binary of choice forced on Muslims: pacifism or violence. Most may not realize but by consistently putting onus on Muslims to ‘solve’ ISIS, our leaders absolve any part US government policies have played and continue to play in the growth, cultivation and influence of ISIS.
Words are important, showing solidarity to the battered Muslim community is important – but don’t expect me to be grateful when you show up and tell me you support Muslims while you surveil, imprison and kill their kin.
Seeing so many American Muslims just eat up the words by Khan and, by extension, giving their support to Clinton and sing praise to her whilst ignoring this government’s policies (you know, the stuff that has actual impact on actual lives) is disappointing, albeit expected.
The sad thing is that Trump’s fascism and obscene Muslimophobia have created the kind of situation where Democrats do not, in fact, have to worry about addressing the deeper issues of military action, and specifically drone strikes, in the Middle East in any meaningful way.
The majority of Democrats in both House and Senate support the use of drone strikes that have proven to result in devastating civilian losses. Yet, it appears as though all they had to do is just invite a token Muslim to the table, throw around a few words about inclusion of the Muslim community, and they are guaranteed our votes. In other words, all they have to do is NOT be a vitriol spewing hater such as Trump, and they got it made. No need to examine the larger issues of foreign policy, specifically as pertaining to the Middle East and the use of drones to kill those Muslims they pretend to care about. Just do not be Trump and you got their vote.
And, of course, someone who questions that is dismissed and called a Republican enabler whose continued criticism of Democrats is going to cost Clinton the election.
President Barack Obama formally vetoed legislation authorizing the construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on today, the latest development in what has become an ongoing standoff between him and congressional Republicans over approval of the controversial pipeline.
At the same time, there is all sorts of hell breaking loose over immigration and President Obama’s deportation relief which allows undocumented immigrants who came to the U.S. as children temporary authorization to stay and work. The plans are currently on hold, because twenty-six states, led by Texas, sued the federal government to block those actions, and a federal judge sided with them in issuing a preliminary injunction. But it was not a final ruling on the constitutionality of Obama’s action. Instead, the order will prevent the policies from moving forward as the lawsuit proceeds. The federal government is expected to appeal.
Congressional Republicans are committed to gutting the immigration policies as part of a funding package for the Department of Homeland Security, thus holding thousands of DHS employees hostage to extort a concession out of the President. Should Obama and Democrats keep their promises to block the Republicans’ package, DHS could shut down on Feb. 27. Republicans want Democrats to approve a bill that would fund DHS and stop Obama’s immigration executive actions from moving forward.
Republicans say the blame should be put on Democrats if a shutdown occurs. But a majority of Americans think the GOP would be to blame rather than the president, according to a CNN poll released Tuesday.
What a clusterfuck.
But I have to say: Keystone pipeline and immigrants. Who the fuck cares?
What about tax relief for the middle class instead of just for millionaires?
What about closing tax loopholes so rich people and corporations pay the taxes they should? That would take care of our deficit problem in no time.
What about a national debate over minimum wages and increasing them to something resembling a livable wage (not that $10 or even $15 an hour are livable wages).
What about the fact that over the past few years abortion rights have been restricted in an unprecedented manner?
What about student loan relief and bail outs?
How about not appointing bankers and Wall-street execs into key government positions, Mr. President?
These should be our priorities – not illegal immigrants and a freaking pipeline.
It is good to see that no matter what the occasion, the President’s priorities are always messed up. Choose your battles. I could not give two shits about whether immigrants get to stay or not. when there are far more pressing issues at stake here. What does he want all these immigrants here, if they are not going to get paid a decent, livable wage anyway? What about people who are here right now and struggling? Shouldn’t his limited time, resources and energies be spent on more pressing issues? I am so sick of the misplaced priorities by even so-called allies.
For months now it’s been about these issues. If he cares about the environment, then how about holding BP accountable and criminally charging them? How about giving more funding and authority to the EPA so that they can go after polluters? How about tightening environmental legislation by imposing stricter standards? Who the fuck cares about the Keystone Pipeline? Not that it is not an issue, but if environmental protection and human health is the priority here, then there are far more urgent issues we need to tackle than the Keystone pipeline. Obama knows that, as we speak, Republicans are gearing up to destroy the middle class even more so than they have done in order to enrich the wealthy some more. So shouldn’t he be spending his resources and priorities accordingly? Shouldn’t he be choosing his battles more wisely, instead of on immigration and the building of a pipeline?
Priorities. We don’t have them.
After a three month hiatus I am back and what better way to start off the quest for knowledge, wisdom and non bullshittery than to ask yourself this very simple question: How gullible are you?
Are you gullible enough to believe that a god would impregnate a poor peasant girl to give birth to himself so he can then grow up and die for a bunch of sins that he created in the first place so that one day he may come down and die for them to prove a point? (Are you officially lost amid this convoluted clusterfuck way of thinking here? Um, yeah, so am I)
Are you gullible enough to believe that Islam is a wonderfully peaceful religion that is merely misunderstood?
Are you gullible enough to believe that ideas, even bad ideas – and religion is full of bad ideas – do not influence the people we become? The decisions we make and the priorities we set?
Are you gullible enough to believe that corporations are people? That money does not influence political outcomes?
Are you gullible enough to believe that giving rich people tax exemptions so they can hide their wealth in offshore accounts creates jobs and helps some worker stuck in a minimum wage paying slow death improve their standard of living?
Are you gullible enough to believe that wealthy people are wealthy because they work for it instead of being the laziest, greediest, most opportunistic moochers that they are, who exploit the system, with proficiency and profligacy about which poor would-be swindlers can only dream?
Are you gullible enough to seriously think that beliefs and the ideas that inform them are beyond criticism and above reproach?
Are you gullible enough to believe that there is an actual marked difference between Democrats and Republicans?
Are you swayed by fluffy and hopeful State of the Union Addresses by our one percent fellating leaders? Are you so enamored by the belief in them that you forget that despite lofty speeches promising to help the middle class, they wanted to (and have in the past) appoint Wall Street executives in key goverment positions, such as President Obama’s nomination of Wall Street executive and banker Antonio Weiss for a top job at the Treasury Department?
Are you gullible enough to believe that one middle-class boosting policy enacted for every twenty pieces of legislation enacted furthering the “causes” of millionaires, bankers, corporations and oil companies, will bring us a step closer to the direly needed changes we need? That such half-assed steps will strengthen the middle class?
Are yo gullible enough to believe that giving more tax breaks to millionaires is good for all us?
Are yo gullible enough to think that most millionaires are even paying any taxes?
Are you gullible enough to believe that placing health care in the hands of private corporate entities that do not give two shits about your health but instead care a whole lot of about the bottom line, was better for people? Or constitutes health care reform?
Are you gullible enough to believe that the Republican party stands for anything else beside hate, greed and bigotry?
Are you gullible enough to seriously believe that the solution to the crisis we face today with respect to a diminishing middle class is corporatist Hilary Clinton?
Are you gullible enough to believe that a Senate that actually votes on whether climate change is real or not can be trusted with accomplishing anything meaningful for this country and its people?
So exactly how gullible are you?
It is a proud, proud moment for war mongers – Republican and Democrat alike – because President Obama – you know, this amazing shining beacon of Progressivism and the man who was going to do things differently and bring about change we can truly believe and who was supposed to finally be the person to break us out of bad habits such as engaging in fabricated, pointless, illegitimate and not well-thought-out wars that do nothing but suck up our resources and create a milieu ripe for extremists and other such scum that keep targeting us and our people – finally became yet another President to announce military engagement in Iraq, this time without trying to pretend we do it for nation building.
Not wanting to be the first President in a long line of Presidents to not announce military airstrike in Iraq, President Obama proudly announced a bombing campaign in Iraq stating equally proudly that the United States has taken the first step in its planned expanded fight against Islamic State militants (ISIS) going to the “aid” (uh-huh) of Iraqi security forces near Baghdad who were being attacked by enemy fighters.
The U.S. Central Command said it conducted two airstrikes Sunday and Monday in support of the Iraqi forces near Sinjar and southwest of Baghdad.
A vote on the broader use of military force against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) isn’t expected to happen until after Election Day because, of course not. First you lie to the public with lofty speeches and then once you got their votes, you turn around and do what you wanted to do all along by saying something about national security and changing priorities.
The White House feels good about the chances for getting authorization for the package through Congress, a senior administration official said. Obama spoke with lawmakers from both parties on Monday and, according to the official, is personally gratified that he has received support from Republican and Democratic leaders for the proposal.
According to the White House, officials weren’t sure the idea would receive bipartisan support with the public still wary of military action following the Bush years. But, the official said, congressional leaders expressed bipartisan agreement for that path forward during an Oval Office meeting last week with Boehner, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
Boehner and Obama spoke last Wednesday on the telephone and have cooperated in trying to move the package forward — a sharp shift from the chilliness over much of the last year.
It is interesting that there is bipartisan support for the President’s plan (always a sign that something is amiss because if Republicans are for it, it cannot be good) because nothing brings politicians together more than war and, of course, one is not bound to find a Republican who never met a war he didn’t like.
The only extent to which Republicans and Democrats differ from one another in this is that Republicans worry the military actions will not go far enough (66%) whereas by contrast, 54% of Democrats say their bigger concern is that it will go too far.
This is amazing: we now have gone straight from nation building to military building and we are not even trying to pretend otherwise anymore.
Of course, the bigger question to ask – and which everyone on Capitol Hill and the White House refuses to ask – is whether we really think that bombing Iraq once again, thus undoubtedly causing the deaths of countless innocent people and creating the kind of havoc only war can create, to maybe get a few ISIS operatives is going to put an end to ISIS.
The thing is that ISIS is the symptom of a larger problem. You bomb and kill them, two new groups will grow in their place in no time and the cycle continues.
That is why military action in such a short-sighted, knee-jerk manner is not the answer. We need to step back and rethink our strategy toward the Middle East altogether, not engage in those very acts that created the milieu that gave rise to entities like ISIS in the first place.
I am afraid that all this will do is perpetuate the violence, create an even bigger disdain for the US and, worse of all, cost the lives of countless innocent people as collateral damage before we are back at square one.
Not to mention that we cannot afford this. Our last engagement in Iraq nearly bankrupted us, we cannot afford another war, however short-lived it allegedly may be. And it will not be short-lived. Once you are in, once you start arming rebels and becoming part of the deal, there is no easy way out. You are bound to stay around to continue and finish what you started. It took us nearly a decade to get out of Iraq (and we are still not really fully out) and we are still in Afghanistan.
I am absolutely terrified and appalled that going to war has become such an easy thing to do with our lawmakers.
We are such a disgraceful country and seem to seriously have no other priorities besides stealing from the masses to get a few people rich and go to wars.
We keep insisting that we do not have the funds to feed our hungry and, therefore, slash food-stamps and welfare programmes; that we cannot extend unemployment benefits for the long-term unemployed; that we cannot increase the minimum wage (as we speak, Republicans have blocked the Paycheck Fairness Act once again); over the past six or seven years, Republicans have fought tooth and nail to make sure we do not get the Affordable Care Act which makes affordable health care accessible to everyone; we claim we do not have the money to build on, strengthen and expand our social safety net programs and enact a host of middle-class strengthening policies citing lack of resources and a deficit (which, ironically, was created, among other things, by being in a perpetual state of war); we say we cannot regulate polluters and strengthen regulatory agencies to safeguard the environment and with it our health, slashing their funding, but somehow we seem to be able to always find copious amounts of money to engage in yet another expensive military strike under questionable rationales.