The American Bear

Sunshine/Lollipops

This is the pattern that has been followed for decades: some social advances are accepted by the power structure — as long as the economic dominance of the ruling elite is not challenged. In Obama’s case, of course, this was a prerequisite, not a consequence, of his election. He would not have been allowed to be in the position of being elected president had he not clearly and continually signalled to the elite that he was in no way a threat to their power; in fact, as Hirthler notes, he went much further, and made it clear that he would be a more efficient and effective promoter of economic elite than cack-handed Republicans like George W. Bush, John McCain and Sarah Palin. And so it has proved. The nation’s oligarchs, corporations and financial sectors have devoured ever greater proportions of the nation’s wealth under Obama’s rule, while chronic unemployment and underemployment grinds on, the nation’s infrastructure rots, and the quality of life (and hopes for the future) of ordinary people continues to be degraded. Chris Floyd, Bait and Switch: The Heavy Price of Social Progress

Obama Denies That He Came Up With ‘Red Line’ on Syria | Jason Ditz

President Obama’s memory of his mid-August 2012 news conference isn’t great, as he sought today to “reframe” the whole red line on Syria conceit by insisting he’d never come up with it, and that it was actually “the world” who said that.

The world, for what it’s worth, never issued any such statement, but President Obama definitely did, terming chemical weapons use “a red line for us” in the conference, which was just one of many speeches in which he threatened Assad over last summer.

The point of all of this, from President Obama’s perspective, is selling the attack on Syria as something that the whole planet collectively obliged themselves into, as opposed to the truth of it being something President Obama manufactured on his own, and is now claiming was crossed on the basis of dubious, circumstantial evidence.

Ultimately it’s just one part of a multi-faceted effort to con the American public into a war that polls have repeatedly shown they just don’t want. This includes hostile rhetoric, phony claims of “proof,” and repeated references to the Holocaust.

It is inconceivable that Dr. King would share the stage with a president who was at that moment preparing a savage and illegal attack on a sovereign country. Dr. King’s voice has been censored and his dream vandalized, repackaged and presented as a gift to a corporate agent with a Kill List. Glen Ford, The Dreamer With a Kill List

Obama waxes eloquent over the casualties of chemical weapons, not a word though of the thousands his personal authorization destined to vaporization through his campaign of armed drones for targeted assassination. I’m suspicious. With a record of war crimes that he seeks desperately to cover up (hence, his obsession to punish and silence whistleblowers), how much can we trust him on Syria, even before UN monitors have reached conclusions? … One does not have to be an apologist for either side in the conflict to know that the US and its European clubbies are thinking and probably soon executing intervention not for the well-being of the Syrian people, but for reasons of US and Western goals which might well extend beyond the Middle East itself to an all-out confrontation, whether with Islam or China [or Russia] (or [all three]) doesn’t seem important, just so long as the militarization of class-rule on an international scale can continue. Norman Pollack, Obama’s War Itch

Freedom Rider: Obama Kind of Sort of Thanks Edward Snowden | Margaret Kimberly

President Obama held a news conference today. That fact is now particularly newsworthy, but the first item on his agenda was.

Thanks to Edward Snowden, Americans know that their personal data is sucked up into the maw of the surveillance state. Obama huffed and puffed and tried to blow the house down but Vladimir Putin gave Snowden temporary asylum in Russia and the big bad wolf went home empty handed.

So today the president announced a task force and a web site and an ombudsman and a transparent thingamajig to “restore confidence” in the government’s ability to spy on millions of people here and around the world. The question is why. After first going on Jay Leno’s show to yuck it up a bit before telling us we shouldn’t worry our pretty little heads about this, he now gives a performance of charades. Of course Snowden’s name came up and the slippery politician tried to have it both ways.

And there’s no doubt that Mr. Snowden’s leaks triggered a much more rapid and passionate response than would have been the case if I had simply appointed this review board to go through — and I’d sat down with Congress and we had worked this thing through — it would have been less exciting and it would not have generated as much press — I actually think we would have gotten to the same place, and we would have done so without putting at risk our national security and some very vital ways that we are able to get intelligence that we need to secure the country.”

Less exciting? How about never would have happened? How about senators Wyden and Udall being stone walled at every turn when they asked questions about the NSA and the FISA court?

Well anyway, he was forced to answer not only to millions of Americans but to foreign governments who now know that they were being spied on too. I can’t say it enough. Edward Snowden is one of my favorite people. He did the right thing, he screwed our government, and then he got away. Obama and his crew are left sputtering and hoping Leno helps them out.

How perfect is that?

The question is how do we make the American people more comfortable? If I tell Michelle that I did the dishes—now, granted, in the White House, I don’t do the dishes that much, but back in the day—[laughter]—and—and she’s a little skeptical, well, I’d like her to trust me, but maybe I need to bring her back and show her the dishes and not just have her take my word for it.

Barack Obama

This shit is weak.

Obama’s Praetorian Guard of Capitalism (2) | Norman Pollack

The “hidden hand” approach to presidential leadership is just one more public relations gimmick to distract attention from the substantive content of Obama’s record and policies. This was a failed presidency from Day One, when it became apparent that ’08 campaign rhetoric … was plain hooey. The appointment of the Geithner-Summers team of Clinton-Rubin deregulators was the tip-off to acceptance of market fundamentalism and Wall Street rampages with impunity. And the coziness of Obama’s relations with the CIA, JSOC, and the intelligence and military communities made clear an aggressive foreign policy (pace, Nobel Peace Laureate) composed of the Pacific-first geopolitical strategy, an escalation in paramilitary operations, and, with John Brennan and “Terror Tuesdays,” the extreme ugliness and ruthlessness of embarking on a personal course (far exceeding his predecessor) of armed drones for targeted assassination.

Obama carries on, with some new faces (e.g., Rice, Powers), and new slogans, such as humanitarian interventionism, but on his watch, and with his essentially nihilistic, opportunist mental framework, we as a nation are closer to fascism than at any time in American history. Whomever constitute his “admirers,” presumably liberals and progressives, merely confirms that radicalism is dead in America, the victim of its own shallowness and false consciousness.

Obama’s Praetorian Guard of Capitalism | Norman Pollack

Obama’s “Hidden Hand” political strategy in his second term (Peter Baker, in NYT, July 16) merits notice for its utter phoniness (and NYT/Baker gullibility), as though a low profile, designed to convey the velvet glove of measured yet steady reform, has changed anything in his presidency, which from the start has raised sophisticated corporatism, with its full antiradical implications, policies, consequences, to a high art. Obama’s legacy—it’s too late for him to worry about this now—will be defined by his treachery as a leader and putative tribune of the people. In retrospect, Nixon and Bush 2 appear as mere choirboys in comparison, not because of Obama’s “smarts” (he has the brashness of a hustler, which passes in our day for intelligence), but because he can use liberalism as a backdrop for the pursuit of consistently reactionary policies, domestic as well as foreign. Liberals and progressives, especially, have been taken in, the latest enormous crime being massive surveillance which, once revealed, is allowed to become yesterday’s news, attention shifting instead to Snowden’s apprehension—an example where the real criminal seeks to pin the label of “criminal” on the one who exposes the crime. Liberals/ progressives sit on their hands (perhaps that’s where Obama’s team got the idea of the “hidden hand” as the latest selling point to cover up a record which hardly needs covering up, so far has radicals’ rigor mortis set in) while data mining, Espionage Act prosecutions, the whole range of civil liberties made mincemeat of, all constitute only one area of manifold and fundamental abuses: the liberalization of cynicism, to render it palatable to the groupies, while the haute crowd of bankers, militarists, defense contractors, national-security advisors, DOJ apologists for international war crimes, and, as they say in the Shakespeare plays, diverse and assorted other characters, laugh in their teeth.

The “hidden hand” fits perfectly with Obama’s (and all of Washington’s, now that he has set the tone, and shown how easy it is to get away with it) compulsive-obsessive regard for secrecy, itself entwined with not only the over-classification of government documents (leading to a state-secrets defense for what amounts to as judicial immunity), but also surveillance per se, the need for control, the perhaps still greater need for acting with impunity, as with targeted assassination, without fear of discovery. What a bunch of miscreants on which we, as a nation, have bestowed the public trust! It gets worse, the further one probes: taxation, or the lack thereof, of corporate, banking, and individual wealth; deregulation, nonregulation, outright favoritism—take your pick, as economic concentration moves along, and the Boeings, GEs, Monsantos, Morgan, Chases, are doing very well, thank you; stonewalling and utter stupefaction when it comes to climate change; above all, a gargantuan military apparatus, and missions enough planned or secretly executed to please the most discerning connoisseur (aka, maniacal devotee of murder, mayhem, and lethal instruments of terror), with little at all remaining to maintain a social safety net worthy of the name. Under Obama, militarism = planned impoverishment. Or if not planned, nevertheless operationally the result; for the country is suffering big time, as corporate profits swell, infrastructure crumbles, education is neglected, cities decay, private equity funds blossom, all amid the inhumaneness and colossal waste of military outposts spread worldwide, naval forces steam to the Pacific, Special Ops forces gain purchase on practically every continent, a veritable merry-go-round as the music spins in tarantella fervor the tune of counterrevolution. The Obama Administration is the New Praetorian guarding the welfare of global capitalism, with a special nod to what is quaintly termed the US national interest.

Obama would consider Ray Kelly to replace Janet Napolitano

Yep. That Obama and that Ray Kelly:

President Barack “kill list” Obama thinks Ray “Stop n Frisk/Mosque Crawler” Kelly has done an “extraordinary job” as New York’s police commissioner, and would consider him as a candidate to replace departing Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, he said Tuesday.

Obama told Univision’s New York affiliate that he plans to put together a group of ”strong candidates” for the job and that Kelly would be one if he’s interested in leaving his current position. “Mr. Kelly might be very happy where he is, but if he’s not I’d want to know about it, because obviously he’d be very well qualified for the job,” the president said.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he called Denis McDonough soon after Napolitano announced her departure on Friday. Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) also voiced his support for Kelly.

Obama's secret kill list – the disposition matrix

… Berjawi and Sakr both travelled to Somalia after claiming that they were being harassed by police in the UK, and were then stripped of their British citizenship. Several months later they were killed. The exact nature of any intelligence that the British government may have shared with Washington before their names were apparently entered into the disposition matrix is deeply secret: the UK has consistently refused to either confirm or deny that it shares intelligence in support of drone strikes, arguing that to do so would damage both national security and relations with the US government.

More than 12 months after Sakr’s death, his father, Gamal, a businessman who settled in London 37 years ago, still cannot talk about his loss without breaking down and weeping. He alleges that one of his two surviving sons has since been harassed by police, and suspects that this boy would also have been stripped of his citizenship had he left the country. “It’s madness,” he cries. “They’re driving these boys to Afghanistan. They’re making everything worse.”

Last year Gamal and his wife flew to Cairo, formally renounced their Egyptian citizenship, and on their return asked their lawyer to let it be known that their sons were no longer dual nationals. But while he wants his family to remain in Britain, the manner in which his son met his death has shattered his trust in the British government. “It was clearly directed from the UK,” he says. “He wasn’t just killed: he was assassinated.” [must read]

From the Merely Calamitous to the Ungraspably Nauseating | Arthur Silber

Honest to Christ, contemplation of a statement from the Killer-in-Chief — a serial murderer with a goddamned Kill List — that extols “a nation of laws,” asks “if we’re doing all we can to widen the circle of compassion and understanding in our own communities,” and goes on to say, “We should ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to stem the tide of gun violence,” goes far beyond nausea and horror. If a significant number of Americans were remotely healthy, they would treat Obama as they would any monster who raises his bloody arms from the open chest of his latest victim, lifts up his hands — which hold his victim’s heart, liver and other organs — twists himself with enormous effort into his most obviously and fundamentally false serious mien and with phonily solemn voice, as blood soaks the scene, implores us all to love one another and embrace tenderness and gentle care for each other as the greatest of virtues. Healthy people would regard such a scene with the monster as insane and horrifying. People should have the identical reaction to such statements from the fucking Killer-in-Chief. But most people assuredly do not, and I am beginning to think that is because this nation as a whole has suffered an irreparable psychotic break. I may exaggerate, but not by much. On some days, and this is one of them, I’m not even certain I’m exaggerating any longer.