Author’s note: This article was written several days before President Obama’s escalation speech at West Point, when it was first leaked that 30,000-plus troops would be bound for Afghanistan. I offer this as argument that in less than a year, the Obama presidency is a failure, by his own campaign’s definition. I do so in the hopes of being presented an argument that convincingly counters the evidence of Obama’s policy trajectories presented here. And, as you will see, Sotomayor and the stimulus bill do not serve a sufficient counterweight to the general body of policy the Obama Administration has so far evinced.
The psychology of previous investment proscribes humans from responding rationally when conditions warrant or even demand. If the investment has been heavy enough, the psychology behind the investment will insist that people hold on to it, no matter how badly the investment may tank. This occurs at all scales. The American public’s investment in Barack Obama is tanking badly. The question at this point becomes, how much longer can the policy trend lines continue before the body of his political support collapses altogether?
President Obama has failed his mandate.
It’s not a happy thing to have to say. Many won’t agree, desperately fending off the obvious. The campaign sloganeering, well, it turned out to be just that. All the worse that so many had hoped otherwise. Obama has been embarrassingly supine in dealing with the know-nothings. The end game of which is what, exactly? Republicans will suddenly — one day — apprehend their misbegotten ways and cuddle the furry kitten? The GOP and their agents continue the attacks, the lies, the filibusters — a well funded font of rancorous, racist, rancid bullshit. Palin-Beck in 2012! That’s the ticket.
The last straw was escalation in Afghanistan. And didn’t he ever drag out the process of doing what the military told him he should do weeks ago? Perhaps that was suppose to make him look steely-eyed and circumspect. One wonders what the point of all this review was meant to reveal when the end product is to tap almost all the troops McChrystal wanted in the first place. In fact, we almost suspect that McChrystal may have high-balled his numbers as a negotiation entry point. Then again, maybe not. Because McChrystal knows he is dealing with a Democrat, one who seems especially smitten with getting along. Which meant, of course, that Obama would meet McChrystal’s opening bid, with the necessary appearance of due diligence of course, because, well, that’s how Democrats roll. They are the party of looking like they’re for “the people.” The “review” at this point looks like mere window dressing. Whether it was or was not is unimportant. Certainly, it is unimportant to those on the ground.
If this does go down with plus-30,000 troops, Obama can kiss it goodbye. Here is the short of it. One way or another, Afghanistan will be the doom of Obama. Withdrawal is conventionally seen as political suicide. It matters not that the American and Afghan public would like to see this happen. Obama will be “ravaged” by foes in Washington. Just like LBJ fretted. Once Afghanistan turns more deeply unpopular — more than now — political forces will then turn that against Obama, and it will become his Vietnam. If this escalation is a cave to military pressure and political considerations (and really, what else could it be?), then Obama may think he is staving off a near term political hit. In reality, he is only delaying political doom. And worse, he is consigning to their deaths, who knows how many more thousands, ravaging the land and the lives of millions more.
Tellingly, the left are squabbling about whether Obama is worse than Bush. Indeed, when one finds oneself in a position of defending any president by trying to demonstrate that they are “not worse than Bush,” or even mentioning, in a subjunctive clause, that Obama is not “worse than Bush,” the admission is plain: failure.
Obama has pathetically caved to most every Republican yowl on every domestic bill, only to watch no Republicans even vote for the butchered bill anyway. The health care botch will be the same [see below].
Obama demands Israel halt building on the West Bank, only to watch Israel approve more building on the West Bank.
Obama shamefully and shamelessly pulled a complete one-eighty on the odious FISA amendment. To his great pleasure now, as he only balloons the already expansive surveillance state [see below]. On the plus side, he did this before he was president.
Obama has adopted all Bush era legal positions and then some — even asserting sovereign immunity — in warrentless wiretap lawsuits and beyond.
Obama has quietly backed renewal of the worst of the PATRIOT Act provisions, and doing so over the objections of fellow Democrats.
Obama has only escalated, atrociously so given his “Si, se puede” campaign, immigration raids and harassment across the country, the American Apparel episode especially mean-spirited in a time of brutal recession. Only recently, a janitorial company “quietly let go” many illegal immigrants, a move that is part of an Obama administration plan to “thin the ranks of illegal immigrants by going after the companies that hire them.” Now, there’s a plan. All those homeless nurses and accountants piling up in LA tent cities can go work as janitors now that the illegals have been purged.
Obama has continued to assert the power to conduct extraordinary renditions, or, as the Italian court that convicted 23 Americans (22 CIA) of just such an operation called it, “kidnappings”.
Obama has continued to assert the power to hold detainees indefinitely, without charge. Apparently, he intends to do so.
Obama has continued to assert the power to conduct military tribunals in lieu of trial. Apparently, he intends to do so.
Obama has continued to assert the power to spy on Americans. Apparently, he intends to do so. With sovereign immunity.
Obama has continued to assert the power to torture and abuse detainees secretly, specifically within the confines of US SOC base at Bagram, and a similar facility at Balad Air Base in Iraq.
Obama has adopted a position on the Guantanamo detainees so arbitrarily pendulous, it makes Bush look like a model of sober reason: no trials for anyone. Say what you will about that, but it is consistent. Obama’s “position” is no position at all. He’s all over the map. Particle and wave. “Whatever works.” Yes, he really is a Democrat.
Obama will fail to close Guantanamo Bay as a detainee prison by his own deadline and admission. Obama fired the man who was trying to close it according to Obama’s own agenda [see below]. I predict this may go on for years, as Obama attempts to keep the GOP from swatting him on the issue. And once again, petty domestic politics drive policy.
Obama has overseen the worsening of conditions at Guantanamo Bay.
Obama has upped the US military footprint in South America by bumping up military presence in Colombia, with the lapdog enthusiasm of a visibly excited Uribe on full display. Pissing off everyone else, of course, but no matter. Tensions are bound to escalate beyond those already on the rise.
Obama displayed an unaccountable hypocrisy and equivocation regarding the Honduran coup, even as his administration railed against Tehran for election rigging. Of course, the one-way outrage is not unaccountable at all, and certainly not when one’s own military base is quietly involved.
Obama has continued to embrace long standing US-resistance to treaties banning landmines and other passive, deadly weapons, weapons that kill thousands of children every year. This, even as the world observed the 20 year anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the passing of which was notable only for the sole company the United States keeps in refusing ratification of that treaty: Somalia.
Obama has deployed private mercenaries in Somalia.
Obama has only continued the escalation of the Pentagon budget, and emergency off-the-books contingency funds.
Obama has more currently deployed troops in Iraq and Afghanistan than Bush ever did. And he is about to up that unhappy fact in Afghanistan again. Certainly, we will be assured there will be a timeline for withdrawal. And certainly, it will be a sham.
Obama is expanding the US “Embassy” in Islamabad to behemoth proportions, in keeping with the model presented to the world in Baghdad. Pakistanis are fuming at this project, viewing it rightly as a “military and intelligence command outpost.”
Obama has promoted, rather than denounced and fired, the commander of JSOC, which oversaw extreme abuse and torture of detainees. Under McChrstyal’s command, many subordinates were convicted of such crimes. No one above of the rank of major was convicted, despite “the documented role of more senior officers and civilian officials in authorizing and then covering up these crimes.”
Obama intends that the “withdrawal” from Iraq will be as every bit as farcical as has always been planned. Major permanent military bases (and a billion dollar embassy) holding 50-60,000 troops, scattered hither and pointedly yon. Oil contracts are in the works.
Obama is escalating a global missile defense shield, first actively begun by Reagan, mandated by the 1992 Defense Planning Guidance and then later by the plowed under Project for the New American Century. The putative suspension of the installations in Poland and Czech Republic was a technical ruse. There will be missiles and radar in those places, and elsewhere, such Romania and Bulgaria. Plans are afoot for footprints in Georgia, Azerbaijan and beyond the Caspian.
Obama has escalated pipeline negotiations throughout Central Asia. This may not sound bad. Did I mention that Blackwater and JSOC are conducting military operations in Uzbekistan? No? Not yet? [see below.]
Obama has escalated the drone war “dramatically” in Pakistan. Blackwater appears to be fully involved. Of course, the whole damned debacle is illegal, but no matter.
Obama continues to embrace the employment of Blackwater, which is roaming wild in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan, and elsewhere. Yes, Uzbekistan. In addition to planning drone strikes and operations against suspected Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in Pakistan for both JSOC and the CIA, the Blackwater team in Karachi also helps plan missions for JSOC inside Uzbekistan against the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan
“That piqued my curiosity and really worries me because I don’t know if you noticed but I was never told we are at war with Uzbekistan,” he said. “So, did I miss something, did Rumsfeld come back into power?” Obama has overseen a skyrocketing forty percent increase in private contractors in Afghanistan between June and September of this year. There is some change here: no other president has overseen a war employing more private contractor personnel than Obama. Private contractor personnel now comprise fifty-seven percent of all US personnel in Afghanistan.
Obama has coddled Wall Street beyond anyone’s wildest fears. He has said not a word that I can discern about the bailout sham. Is he sad that the Wall Street brethren who dumped vast sums on his meteoric rise to the White House behaved so badly before, during, and after the bailout? His administration is more vested with Wall Street chums than the Bush White House. A ghastly embarrassment.
Obama got needlessly shabby on Greg Craig. Another embarrassment. A gross performance and easily as bad as anything Bush ever did. But worse, because Craig was pushing Obama’s own agenda and got burned because Obama discovered some scary things that make that ol’ Constitution just as silly as Bush and Cheney always said it was.
Obama is watching key supporteres flee his administration, either forcibly or by choice: personal matters.
Obama is pushing the Congressional Black Caucus and the GOP together in refusing to address the concerns of the CBC regarding financial reform. “Waters suggested the CBC’s 43 members could vote with the GOP to scuttle a variety of Democratic bills if Obama and Emanuel don’t address what she thinks is a lack of understanding of the CBC’s wide-ranging goals of reducing urban unemployment, home foreclosures and bank failures.” Obama continues to ignore the Don Siegelman miscarriage, and leaves Bush/Rove DoJ hacks in situ in Alabama. Siegelman claims that there has been “no substantial change in the heart of the Department of Justice from the Bush-Rove Department of Justice.” The judge who oversaw the travesty, Mark Fuller, is friends with all the DoJ Rovian Canarys, and had a personal grudge against Siegleman. Fuller is in ownership of a defense contracting company that fuels Air Force One.
Obama stood back on health care reform and watched the carnage from the sidelines. He stood nowhere, for nothing. Congress made a hash of it, as is their wont. Who knows what it will actually do, but it will get tens of millions of new customers for the insurance companies. In all likelihood, the bill will wind up being a shameless corporate crap shoot, without the snake eyes. The man who once said single payer was the obvious solution, sat on his hands while a vestigial public option was ravage further, and pernicious C Street amendments popped up like ulcerous sores. Not a word. He’ll sign anything at this point.
Obama has ramped up the secret surveillance state beyond mortal reckoning. There are estimates, of course, wherein numbers drop into the $50-100 Billion* bin. Under Obama, the NSA is building a giant secret facility in Utah that will house a Yottabyte archive. Surveillance state “Fusion Centers” are spreading like wildfire.
Obama has thrown out a trail balloon about cutting NASA’s budget. Yes, let’s cut that one half of one percent of the federal budget that goes to that wastrel NASA. All that fancy pants galavantin’ about the solar system, and … learnin’ stuff. Can’t recall Bush threatening to cut the NASA budget. He wanted to kill Hubble — the certitude of that “billions of years” talk shook his biblical bones — but at least he wanted to go to Mars or some crazy shit. Now, NASA are talking to the Chinese about partnering up. Change! Not exactly the change I was imagining.
Obama’s glamour is wearing thin. In fact, it’s threadbare. The Chinese know it. He’s a pushover. In this, the investment cannot let go; he is so damned likable.
That is over. Obama’s plain failure is obvious. Unlike the election of 2000, 2008 was a known, vital cast, one the American public knew was important. No one really thought or knew what the stakes would become in 2000 (except perhaps for those in on the fix). Not so in 2008. We all knew it. The wreckage is everywhere.
The above is not an agenda bent on fixing any of it, but reeks of acquiescence and inertia. It demonstrates that Santos knew, two years ago, what we know now.
Mr. Obama, if this truly is your path for the United States, you have failed your mandate. Not your Goldman Sachs mandate — clearly not — but the one entrusted to you by the American public, one that is desperate for a change of course. One that still believed it was actually possible. This is not that change of course. Though admittedly persistent, as many a dead president may testify, this course is a dead end. Instead of doing or even attempting to take on the necessary tasks at hand, you have folded across the board. Cowardice in the face of potent adversaries? or were you in on this all along?
* Let’s just note the institutional proclivities here. Up to a $100 Billion per year into op tech to spy on Americans is unremarkable, secret in fact, yet $80 Billion per year on health care for American citizens redounds to gross public spectacle, reason dragged through the shit strewn ditch, spat upon by clotpols with guns fully strapped. Because health care for Americans, well, that’s some dangerous stuff, there.
Kenneth Anderson, an astronomer who has worked on a number of NASA projects, devotes his scientific training to observations and inferences about current affairs, politics and the media. He blogs at boneheadcompendium.com and can be reached at ken-AT-boneheadcompendium.com