Obama Year One: Betrayal and Failure (Part II) - by Stephen Lendman
Part II concludes an account of Obama's betrayal, not promised change.
Obamacare Plans to Ration Healthcare and Enrich Big Providers
After House passage in November, the Senate is now about to pass a stealth scheme to ration care and enrich insurers, the drug cartel, and large hospital chains, the way Washington always works.
It plans market-based solutions, featuring cost-containing measures, mostly affecting working Americans, the poor, elderly, and chronically ill to make a dysfunctional system worse, under the guise of reform, the most dangerous and deceptive word in the language to take cover from when announced.
Besides enriching providers, Obamacare will force millions to pay more, get less, with millions still uninsured and left out. Employers will be able to opt out of providing coverage, but since insurance for most will be mandated, those without it will have to buy it or face hundreds of dollars in penalties, whether or not they can afford it. Even with a public option, looking less likely, insurers will get to skim off the cream, charge what they wish, profit handsomely at low risk, and leave Washington stuck with ones industry doesn't want. For providers, it's a win-win under any version being considered.
Most disturbing are planned Medicare cuts, around $400 - $570 billion, depending on which numbers are most accurate, and these are for starters, a foot in the door if enacted, toward the long-term aim ending Medicare, then Medicaid and Social Security because, at $106 trillion in unfunded liabilities, budget constraints can't sustain them.
The Congressional Budget Office's June 2009 "Long-Term Budget Outlook" suggests a nation in decline, eventual hyperinflation, possible bankruptcy because of a greater national debt than during the Great Depression and near-surpassing WW II. The administration's solution - end entitlements over 100 million Americans rely on, but it still may be too little, too late given an overstretched budget, a weakening dollar, and foreign investors looking for safer returns on their capital, so are less willing to fund Washington's excesses.
In Obama's America, the least advantaged will carry the load, not privileged elites, but don't expect congressional opposition to stop him or news reports to explain it.
Obama's Permanent War Agenda
As president, he heads an imperial enterprise presided over by a war cabinet engaged in lawless militarism, aggressive wars, the permanent occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, the planned conquest of Eurasia, and world dominance overall, with a defense budget exceeding the rest of the world combined at a time America has no enemies.
Yet, as a candidate, he opposed imperial militarism, promised limited escalation only, and pledged to remove all combat troops from Iraq by August 31, 2010. Then on February 27, he said:
"As a candidate for president, I made clear my support for a timeline of 16 months to carry out this drawdown, while pledging to consult closely with our military commanders upon taking office to ensure that we preserve the gains we've made and protect our troops. Those consultations are now complete, and I have chosen a timeline that will remove our combat brigades over the next 18 months. Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end."
Not so fast according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates who told reporters that up to 50,000 will remain, and Obama himself then suggested year end 2011 and maybe later - as always, depending on conditions on the ground to provide an out for the real agenda, permanent occupation with a reduced force if possible.
He also promised two more brigades maximum for Afghanistan, or 10,000 troops. Instead, he ordered 17,000 sent initially, then after his December 1 announcement, the number reached five-fold his original pledge, likely heading higher in the new year as political promises are made to be broken.
Besides the Afghan escalation, he's also destabilizing Pakistan to balkanize both countries, weakening them to control the Caspian Sea's oil and gas riches and their energy routes to secured ports for export. The strategy includes encircling Russia, China, and Iran, obstructing their solidarity and cohesion, defusing a feared geopolitical alliance, toppling the Iranian government, perhaps attacking its nuclear sites, eliminating Israel's main regional rival, and securing unchallenged Eurasian dominance over this resource rich part of the world that includes China, Russia, the Middle East, and Indian subcontinent.
Like his predecessor, Obama also plans more - unchallengeable global control, the strategy first revealed in the 1998 US Space Command document, Vision for 2020. Later released in 2000 as DOD Joint Vision 2020, it called for "full spectrum dominance" over all land, surface and sub-surface sea, air, space, electromagnetic spectrum and information systems with enough overwhelming power to wage and win global wars against any adversary, including preemptively with nuclear weapons.
With other means as well, including propaganda, compromised NGOs, Color Revolutions for regime change, expanding NATO eastward, and various other ways for unchallengeable control - including over resource rich parts of Africa like Nigeria, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, and Somalia on its strategic Horn adjacent to the Red Sea, Suez Canal, and vital commercial waterways. War rages there with America backing Transitional Federal Government (TFG)/African Union forces to keep the Islamist resistance from regaining power - the same forces under which Somalia had its only stability in the last two decades or more.
Closer to home, the June 28 Honduran coup deposing democratically elected Manuel Zelaya was a coordinated State Department - Pentagon project working closely with Honduran commanders and top opposition political figures to establish a de facto dictatorship. The staged November 29 presidential election was meant for closure with a new president/oligarch taking over on January 27 as Zelaya can't succeed himself.
According to Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA) Director Larry Birns, the episode represents Obama's "First Latin American Waterloo" as Washington's "solution" remains a "profound problem for much of the rest of the hemisphere, as well as for long-term ties with such major regional actors as Brazil, Argentina, and the Venezuelan-led ALBA nations." They won't recognize an illegitimately elected leader, so for now, call it stalemate with round two to come, involving a determined popular resistance against fascist coup plotters they want removed and out of power.
Obama's overall Latin American policy is just as troubling. It allocated half a billion dollars in military and related aid to Mexico's right-wing Calderon regime and to militarize the nation's border. Plan Colombia supplies more, billions for new weapons and technology on the pretext of fighting drugs trafficking and protecting regional security. Not so. It's about lawless imperialism and raw power, not drugs or other subterfuge.
During his late June White House visit, Colombian president Alvaro Uribe gave the Pentagon access to seven new military bases, plus nine others currently stationing US forces supplemented by the April 2008 Fourth Fleet reactivation after a 60 year hiatus.
Meant to militarize the continent and intimidate Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and other center-left governments, the move sparked outrage and concern with Hugo Chavez saying:
"They are surrounding Venezuela (and regional nations) with military bases (and may) soon start sending thousands of North American soldiers to Colombia. (They're) contract soldiers who are nothing more than paramilitary mercenaries and assassins. Airplanes, radar, sophisticated weapons, bombs - and, of course, they say it's to fight drug trafficking."
Given past coup attempts against Chavez and the June Honduran one, perhaps also to topple leaders not firmly in Washington's camp to give America regional dominance, not diplomatically but with raw power under a rogue leader like the others.
Travesty in Oslo - Peace Prize to a War Criminal
In choosing Obama, the Nobel Committee's October 9 announcement followed its long, ignoble tradition by anointing another war criminal, a man heading an imperial war machine, disdainful of peace, and currently escalating America's global dominance agenda, potentially threatening planetary survival.
Yet, the corporate media defended the award and practically gushed over Obama's acceptance speech. On December 10, New York Times writer Jeff Zeleny highlighted his claim that "some wars (are) necessary and just....in the fight against oppression."
The Washington Post's Eugene Robinson said "President Obama accepted the Nobel for peacemaking
by delivering an eloquent, often grim treatise on the nature and necessity of warfare (and) drew a clear distinction between the world as we would like it to be and the world as it is."
Unsurprising, the Nation magazine concurred on National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" with editor Katrina vanden Heuvel (a notorious Obama and Democrat party flack masquerading as a progressive) praising the speech's "humility and grace."
According to the magazine's political writer, John Nichols:
"The president's frankness about the controversies and concerns regarding the award of a Peace Prize to a man who just last week ordered 30,000 US new troops into the Afghanistan quagmire, and the humility he displayed....offered a glimpse of Obama at his best. As such, the speech was important and, dare we say, hopeful."
For what, more war?
In Oslo, Obama's message was clear - expect permanent wars in the wake of his Afghan escalation, widening it to Pakistan, threatening Iran, destabilizing Eurasia, militarizing South America, claiming "all responsible nations must embrace the role that militaries with a clear mandate can play to keep the peace," then saying warriors should be honored "not as makers of war, but as wagers of peace."
"War is peace," Orwell's message and why the award legitimizes wars and the leaders who wage them.
Torture as Official US Policy Under Obama
Given a year of betrayal and failure, continuing the Bush torture policy is unsurprising despite Obama's January 22 Executive Order (EO) directing the CIA to shut its secret prisons network and close Guantanamo "as soon as practicable, and no later than 1 year from the date of this order." That was then. This is now with a new president as lawless and ruthless as George Bush, and in some respects much worse.
Guantanamo is still open. "Black site" torture-prisons remain active globally, and the practice continues virulently as official US policy, despite international and US laws prohibiting it at all times, under all conditions with no allowed exceptions.
The Geneva Conventions Common Article 3 bans:
-- "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;
-- carrying out sentences or executions "without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples;" and
-- caring for the wounded and sick, including by an impartial body like the ICRC "offer(ing) its services to the Parties to the conflict."
At least two US laws are also explicit - the 1996 War Crimes Act and 1994 Torture Statute. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court Explanatory Memorandum calls torture a crime against humanity - a "particularly odious (offense and) a serious attack on human dignity," (the result of) government policy (or) condoned by a government or a de facto authority." For decades and under Obama, America is a serial abuser in defiance of the law and civilized human behavior.
Gutting Constitutional Cruel and Unusual Punishments Prohibition and Due Process Protection
The Fifth Amendment says no person shall "be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." The Fourteenth Amendment holds government subservient to the law and guarantees due process respect for everyone's legal right to judicial fairness on matters relating to life, liberty, or property. The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishments.
No longer after the Supreme Court in mid-December, at the behest of the Obama administration, upheld a lower court decision declaring torture an ordinary, expected consequence of military detention and directing future courts, by presidential order, to treat "suspected enemy combatant(s)" as non-persons with no rights or judicial standing.
Henceforth, torture-extracted confessions will be admissible in civil or military commission trials, despite earlier High Courts ruling them unconstitutional. In Brown v. Mississippi (February 1936), the Court ruled that:
"The rack and torture chamber may not be substituted for the witness stand" in citing Fisher v. State (November 1926) stating:
"Coercing the supposed state's criminals into confessions and using such confessions so coerced from them against them in trials has been the curse of all countries. It was the chief iniquity, the crowing infamy of the Star Chamber (the notorious 15th - 17th century English court), and the Inquisition, and other similar institutions. The Constitution recognized the evils that lay behind these practices and prohibited them in this country....wherever the court is clearly satisfied that such violations exist, it will refuse to sanction such violation and will apply the corrective."
The Constitution also affirms judicial fairness for everyone under the law. No longer after the High Court acquiesced to Obama's request to deny it to administration-declared non-persons.
Obama's War on Labor
On March 30, Obama told Detroit's auto giants: "We cannot....must not (and) will not let (this) industry vanish," then laid down a clear marker that labor, not business, must take the pain through:
-- fewer jobs;
-- less pay;
-- reduced benefits, including lost pensions and free retiree healthcare; and
-- gutted work rules, including health and safety on-the-job protections, on top of everything sacrificed in 2007 negotiations when the UAW leadership sold out to management, then muscled the rank and file to go along.
The fate of the nation's auto workers is spreading nationally as low-pay/few or no benefits jobs replace once solid manufacturing ones, increasingly offshored to low-wage countries leaving fewer opportunities for skilled workers at home.
For decades, America's organized labor has been in decline, especially since the 1980s, but the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) offers hope. After failing in the 108th, 109th, and 110th Congresses, March 2009 House and Senate bills aim to restore worker rights at a time they're seriously eroded, given that 90% of employers oppose unions with government on their side. If pressured to offer more, nearly half threaten to close plants and other work sites. Many coerce, threaten and/or bribe workers to be union-free, and around 30% illegally fire pro-union employees and get away with it.
EFCA offers hope by creating a level playing field. If enacted, it will enforce fair collective bargaining and let workers freely decide, by majority vote, whether or not to form a union, without fear of employer retribution. It's the first pro-labor bill since the 1935 Wagner Act let workers bargain on equal terms with management, and a reversal of decades of lost rights.
Thus far, House and Senate bills are stalled in committees, and despite earlier administration support, getting the required 60 Senate votes won't come without as much Obama pressure as he's applying on healthcare. His silence shows non-support and the likelihood that EFCA is dead in 2009, perhaps in the 111th Congress, and the 112th one to follow.
Targeting Public Education for Destruction - Reinventing No Child Left Behind (NCLB)
Enacted in January 2002, NCLB claimed it would close the achievement gap between inner city and rural schools and more affluent ones by setting high reading and math standards, then testing to assure they're achieved. However, the law's real aim is to commodify education, end government's responsibility for it, and make it another business profit center, thereby depriving millions of the nation's youths (mostly disadvantaged ones) of the education they deserve.
Reauthorizing NCLB stalled in Congress for good reason. It's long on testing, school choice, and market-based reforms, but short on real achievement. It's built around rote learning, standardized test, requiring teachers to teach to the test, assessing results by Average Yearly Progress (AYP) scores, and punishing failure by firing teachers and principals, closing schools, and transforming them from public to charter or for-profit ones.
Obama plans to invent a failed policy, rename it, claim NCLB's shortcomings are fixed, and have his education secretary, Arne Duncan, do for the nation what he did to Chicago as CEO of the city's public schools - deny their students real education as repeated underperformance results showed, and no wonder. During his tenure and continuing today, privatization schemes continue, inner city schools are being closed, remaining ones are neglected and decrepit, classroom sizes are increasing, and children, as a result, are sacrificed on the alter of marketplace triumphalism.
Obama-ed promises more of the same:
-- favoring charter or for-profit schools over public ones;
-- running them by marketplace rules;
-- requiring state laws conform to federal ones, in violation of the 10th Amendment mandating "powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States, or to the people;" education isn't mentioned in the Constitution;
-- linking teacher pay to student performance as determined by standardized tests that measure rote memory, not real learning;
-- putting Washington bureaucrats in charge of undermining states, local school boards, and the right of parents to decide what's best for their children;
-- requiring federal mandates be followed to qualify for funding;
-- creating a two-tiered, class and income-based system favoring affluent school districts over inner-city ones; and
-- effectively destroying public education in Obama's America.
Promoting Dangerous Vaccines for a Non-Existent Threat
For months, Obama officials and the complicit media hyped a fake Swine Flu threat. Then on June 11, the WHO declared its highest Level 6 influenza pandemic alert followed by its Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, warning that H1N1 is "unstoppable" while admitting that most cases are mild, no different than seasonal flu, and many people recover unaided.
Many experts, including the world's foremost authority, Dr. Viera Scheibner, in her writings and on The Lendman News Hour, warn that all vaccines are ineffective, dangerous, and often cause the illnesses they're designed to prevent, and no wonder. Their harmful toxins include mercury, aluminum, formaldehyde, phenoxyethanol (antifreeze), and squalene adjuvants known to weaken the human immune system, making it vulnerable to serious auto-immune diseases like paralysis, diabetes, multiple sclerosis, ALS, severe allergies, arthritis, encephalitis, and many others.
Disturbing evidence suggests that Swine Flu vaccines were bioengineered, are extremely dangerous, potentially lethal, and must be avoided. So why did Obama declare a public health emergency in October, and why are his officials stoking fear to encourage, then perhaps mandate, that everyone take them - ones rushed to market without safety testing that are already causing troublesome problems and reported deaths.
It's no coincidence that a declared emergency coincides with an economic crisis causing millions to lose jobs, homes, savings, and better futures. Or that drug giants see a profit bonanza from the global vaccination campaign. Perhaps a diabolical depopulation scheme also, based on the flawed assumption that global economic sustainability depends on reducing world numbers drastically because available resources are inadequate for 6.8 billion people (by US Census Bureau estimates), and they're taking up space anyway so get rid of them, including millions of Americans. Obama may be heading a global cabal to do it.
Denying Budget-Strapped States Financial Help
At a time 48 of the 50 states have growing budget shortfalls, and a new Pew Center on the States (PCS) report shows 10 in fiscal peril, the Obama administration is denying needed aid, forcing them to freeze hiring, cut jobs, lower wages, and impose austerity by gutting welfare programs, education, health care for the poor, and other vital services at a time they're most needed. Ahead expect extended hard times that will impact the disadvantaged most while official Washington steps up imperial madness and more handouts to the rich.
Growing Poverty, Hunger, Homelessness, and Numbers of Uninsured
Under Obama, like his predecessor, America helps the rich at the expense of all others, especially the least advantaged. The data are alarming and growing worse:
-- state budget deficits are in free fall due to the worst decline in tax receipts in decades, and conditions in 2010 and 2011 may get worse;
-- revised 2008 US census data show 47.4 million Americans (one in six) below the poverty line - a conservative estimate compared to others placing it much higher based on a more accurate definition of poverty;
-- USDA data show food stamp use at record highs at a time 49 million Americans (again one in six) experience hunger, including 17 million children;
-- up to three million experience homelessness, including many low-wage earners and others at risk in case of an unexpected financial burden like a missed paycheck or health emergency;
-- a 2008 OECD report on inequality and poverty ranked America highest among its 30 members, only ahead of Mexico and Turkey;
-- a 2008 Working Poor Families Project study shows these households keep getting poorer as the wealth disparity between rich and all others widens;
-- other reports show disturbing evidence of economic duress affecting growing millions of Americans while officials and media reports hail recession's end and credit Obama for achieving it - at a time the true picture is dire for a growing majority;
-- at least 50 million are uninsured; thousands more join them weekly; and
-- unemployment tops 20% with all excluded categories included.
Overall, it's America's dark side that politicians and media pundits suppress at a time Wall Street is having a party, courtesy of bailout billions, licensed fraud, manipulated markets, and Washington turning a blind eye while millions struggle to get by and many more can't.
Legislation to License Pollution, Fraud, and Unbridled Speculation
Introduced in May, HR 2454: American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009 (ACESA) lets corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits by charging consumers more for energy and fuel, yet does nothing to address environmental issues. On June 26, the House narrowly passed it, then sent it to the Senate where it remains stalled.
Ahead of the House vote, Obama lied in hailing the "historic proportions (of this) legislation that will open the door to a new, clean energy economy." Polluters love it and with good reason. So does Wall Street lobbying hard for passage.
If enacted, it will increase speculation through a new carbon trading derivatives bonanza with a potential market value of up to $10 trillion annually according to some estimates - so watch out for the mother of all bubbles Wall Street is lobbying hard to get passed.
It's a scam that, according to Catherine Austin Fitts, will "make the housing and derivatives bubbles look like target practice" as well as license pollution and fraud. More evidence of official corruption under a crime boss president, who promised UN Climate Change Conference (COP 15 Copenhagen) participants that America plans substantial greenhouse gas cuts over the next decade while concealing his real commitment and that of the conference.
Purportedly for a draft treaty replacing Kyoto's expiration in 2012, it's a power grab, according to some, including former Margaret Thatcher advisor, Lord Christopher Monckton. He warns of an unprecedented transnational government scheme under an unnamed, unelected UN body, empowered to intervene in the financial, economic, tax, and environmental affairs of all signatories and thus violate their sovereignty. He warned Americans that "unless you stop it, your president will sign your freedom, your democracy and your prosperity away forever."
It will also further a global carbon trading derivatives scheme huge enough to "make the housing and derivatives bubbles look like target practice," and be another betrayal by a president promising change.
On December 7, AP reported that:
"The Environmental Protection Agency took a major step (today) toward regulating greenhouse gases, concluding that climate changing pollution threatens the public health and the environment," and that carbon dioxide should be regulated under the Clean Air Act.
According to some, this ruling may let Obama bypass Congress, and effectively pass the cap and trade bill without the consent of the Senate. According to others, however, doing so would be a lawless impeachable act. At issue is whether he'll risk it.
The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement's (ACTA) Assault on Net Neutrality, Consumer Privacy, and Civil Liberties
Launched in October 2007, secret negotiations continue for a new intellectual property enforcement treaty that if adopted will subvert Net Neutrality, privacy, and personal freedom, and pressure all nations to comply under universally binding top-down rules overriding national sovereignty.
What's been leaked so far includes:
-- a proposed top-down enforcement regime requiring ISPs to disclose customer information;
-- mandating ISPs cooperate with right holders to remove infringing content;
-- new anti-camcording rules; and
-- network-level filtering to enforce a three-strikes-and-you're-out rule against consumers found three times to have infringed copyrighted content; the penalty - Internet connection termination.
These provisions way exceed current treaty obligations by imposing binding copyright demands requiring that:
-- ISPs police copyrighted material and deter unauthorized storage and transmission of alleged infringed content;
-- ISPs terminate Internet access of alleged repeat offenders or be liable;
-- alleged infringed material be removed;
-- digital rights management (DRM) rules be enforced relating to systems that identify, track, authorize, and restrict access to digital media - purportedly to protect and enforce copyrights, patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property forms; and
-- global Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) rules be imposed relating to intellectual property that will effectively censor online content, subvert free expression, invade privacy, deny due process, and undermine innovation.
If ACTA is adopted, consumer Internet communications and content will be monitored, threatening privacy, civil liberties, and a free and open Internet.
Empowering Agribusiness Under the Guise of Enhancing Food Safety
In July, the House passed the 2009 Food Safety Enhancement Act (FSEA) and referred it to the Senate, where the 2009 FDA Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) is being considered. It's been passed out of committee for debate by the full body, perhaps before year end or sometime in January.
If enacted, it will empower agribusiness and adversely impact small farmers and food producers. While omitting effective food safety reforms, both House and Senate versions impose costly, burdensome regulations that will put many small growers and producers out of business for greater industry consolidation.
Included will be new standards based only on a "reason to believe" food may be adulterated, misbranded or otherwise in violation of the new law. In other words, suspicion alone, without proof, will prohibit food sales or recalls as well as force area quarantines if ordered, not applicable to food giants because their officials staff the FDA, the enforcing body they control. In addition, imprisonment and/or heavy fines may be imposed for failing to register a facility, misbranding, not conducting a hazard analysis, or failing to fill out the required paperwork - all of which greatly burdens small operators without staff enough to comply.
For effective food safety, measures should target agribusiness and imports, not the nation's safe local food system. Obama's plan does the opposite.
Obama Endorses Preventive Detention
On May 21, Obama addressed national security and civil liberties issues, including the Guantanamo detainees, military commissions, and torture. Saying his "single most important responsibility as president is to keep the American people safe," he claimed Al Qaeda "is actively planning to attack us again (and) this threat will be with us for a long time...." He then announced the following:
-- prohibiting "enhanced interrogation techniques" that continue unchanged to the present;
-- closing Guantanamo that's still open with no progress on his "order;"
-- trying "detainees who violate the laws of war (by) military commissions" that assure no possibility of due process or judicial fairness; and
-- including detainees ordered released, prevention detention of those at Guantanamo "who cannot be prosecuted yet who pose a clear danger to the American people," without seeking statutory power to institutionalize it.
These men, about four or five dozen, will be held without charges or trials indefinitely on the dubious post-9/11 power authorizing the president to use force against Al Qaeda and the Taliban.
No civilized state does this, uses military commissions in lieu of civil courts, practices torture, then uses evidence from it to convict.
Following Obama's speech, Michael Ratner, President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) said:
"The president wrapped himself in the Constitution and then proceeded to violate it by announcing he would send people before irredeemably flawed military commissions and seek to create a preventive detention scheme that only serves to move Guantanamo to a new location and give it a new name." Or perhaps keep it operating as now appears likely.
CCR's Guantanamo project Managing Attorney, Shayana Kadidal added:
"Preventive detention goes against every principle our nation was founded on. We have courts and laws in place that we respect and rely on because we have been a nation of laws for hundreds of years; we should not simply discard them when they are inconvenient.
The new president is looking a lot like the old one." The nation looks increasingly despotic, no different from history's worst under a rogue leader waging global imperial wars and destroying at home civil liberties.
Obama's Discrimination Against Haitian Immigrants
It's a familiar story for the hemisphere's poorest, least wanted, and most abused people at home and in America. Currently, about 35,000 undocumented Haitians reside in US cities, the result of deplorable conditions at home, including deep poverty and a repressive UN paramilitary Blue Helmet occupation after the Bush administration's 2004 coup d'etat against Jean-Bertrand Aristide, democratically elected and now deposed into forced exile.
For months, they've sought but not received Temporary Protected Status (TPS) after the Bush administration denied it, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officials ordered forced deportations to the worst of conditions at home.
Immigration lawyer and long-time TPS advocate, Steve Forester, represents them in South Florida for the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti. After months into the new Obama administration, he expressed surprise and anger that:
"we have not yet gotten a response to our request to at least give people the dignity of the right to work while the administration continues, month after month, to review the propriety of granting TPS, which to us and every objective observer is a no-brainer, based on the four hurricanes and storms that hit Haiti in a one-month period a year ago," and devastation from them remains.
After Congress established TPS in 1990, Washington granted 260,000 Salvadorans, 82,000 Hondurans, and 5,000 Nicaraguans protection, then extended it as deadlines expired. It grants temporary immigration status to undocumented residents unable to return home due to armed conflict, environmental disasters, or other "extraordinary temporary conditions." Nationals from numerous other nations got it, but not Haitians, most in need, least helped, and thus far scorned by America's first black president, no different than the rest.
S. 1261: Pass ID Act
Introduced in the Senate in June, now in committee awaiting debate by the full body, it's a measure to revive the enacted Real ID Act of 2005 that if enforced would mandate every US citizen and legal resident have a national identity card that in most cases will be a driver's license. It requires it to contain personal information to open a bank account, board an airplane, be able to vote, or conduct virtually any other essential business.
If embedded, as some fear, with an RFID chip, universal monitoring will be possible of everyone, everywhere at all times, a ghoulish nightmare civil libertarians stress must be avoided as well as mandating national ID cards. So do many states.
Many derailed it, some with statutes prohibiting its implementation, others from a resolution denouncing it. Now it's revived in Senate committee awaiting a full debate in 2010 under an administration seeking new police state powers beyond the many he inherited.
Obama Opposes Whisleblowers and Journalists Who Protect Their Anonymity
In February, the 2009 Free Flow of Information Act was introduced in the House and Senate. In March, the lower body overwhelmingly passed it, and it's now in Senate committee awaiting floor debate for a measure "to maintain the free flow of information to the public...."
Yet Obama worked to weaken it in opposition to strong congressional support. The House measure lets judges weigh the public's right to know against national security considerations in cases where prosecutors judicially challenge reporters to reveal their sources. Obama wants them revealed whenever the White House says national security issues are at stake and got its way in a late October compromise.
Not yet passed in the Senate, spokesman Ben LaBolt said the president expects to sign the measure in weakened form that excludes cases of leaked classified information or if the administration claims sources must be revealed to prevent or mitigate terrorism or any acts harmful to national security that can include almost anything with no substantiating corroboration.
Other Anti-Democratic Measures
Providing continuity, not progressive change, Obama also:
-- continues extraordinary renditions to hellhole prisons and torture as official US policy;
-- opposes detainee habeas lawsuits in them;
-- won't prosecute Bush administration high-level officials involved in torturing and killing detainees;
-- withholds evidence proving their culpability;
-- invoked the state secrets privilege to prevent lawsuits by victims of rendition, torture, abuse, and by those opposing warrantless wiretapping; and
-- governs with lawless police state authority as extreme, and in some cases, worse than George Bush.
After less than one year in office, Obama:
-- presides over a bogus democracy under a homeland police state apparatus;
-- embraces militarism, imperial wars, and lawlessness like his predecessor;
-- erodes human rights, civil liberties, and constitutional freedoms;
-- keeps looting the federal Treasury for Wall Street;
-- plans new global monetary measures to control the world's money;
-- targets whistleblowers, dissenters, Muslims, Latino immigrants, environmental and animal rights activists, and lawyers who defend them too vigorously;
-- illegally spies on Americans as aggressively as George Bush;
-- destroyed decades of hard won labor rights;
-- wants public education privatized as another business profit center to destroy a 375 year tradition;
-- disdains the public interest in times of growing economic duress;
-- wants everyone inoculated with dangerous, toxic vaccines for a non-existent health threat;
-- backs so-called reform that will ration care and enrich insurers, the drug cartel, and large hospital chains;
-- wants legislation passed to let corporate polluters reap huge windfall profits by raising energy costs and create a speculative bonanza with a new carbon trading derivatives scheme;
-- other legislation to empower agribusiness; and
-- a mandated national ID card for all citizens and legal residents to be able to monitor them everywhere at all times.
Obama wants to do George Bush one better by continuing the worst of his policies, enact more of his own, and destroy the middle class to turn America into Guatamala with ruling elites governing a nation of serfs. Well on his way, he's got three more years to succeed unless mass public outrage stops him.
Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to the Lendman News Hour on RepublicBroadcasting.org Monday - Friday at 10AM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on world and national issues. All programs are archived for easy listening.Link to archived Radio Shows