TRACKING THE OBAMA PRESIDENCY AFTER THE 2008 ELECTION:
Obama Predicts that Muslim Hostility Toward U.S. Will Diminish When He Is Inaugurated:
In a November 21, 2008 interview, Obama said: "I truly believe that the day I'm inaugurated, not only does the country look at itself differently but the world looks at America differently. If I'm reaching out to the Muslim world, they understand that I've lived in a Muslim country, and I may be a Christian, but I also understand their point of view.... I'm intimately concerned with what happens in these countries and the cultures and perspectives that these folks have. And those are powerful tools for us to be able to reach out to the world.... I think the world will have confidence that I am listening to them, and that our future and our security is tied up with our ability to work with other countries in the world. That will ultimately make us safer, and that's something that this [Bush] administration has failed to understand."
Some Early Administration Appointments (Hillary Clinton and Eric Holder):
On December 1, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama named U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State.
That same day, Obama nominated Eric Holder to be his Attorney General. Holder had served as Deputy Attorney General during the Bill Clinton administration, where he was, as The Washington Post explained, “the gatekeeper for presidential pardons.” Most significantly, Holder was a key figure entrusted with the task of vetting the beneficiaries of Clinton’s 176 last-minute pardons in January 2001. Those beneficiaries included such notables as former Weather Underground members Susan Rosenberg and Linda Evans.
Holder also had played a role in the presidential pardon granted to the billionaire financier Marc Rich, a fugitive oil broker who had illegally purchased oil from Iran during the American trade embargo -- and who then proceeded to hide more than $100 million in profits by using dummy transactions in off-shore corporations.
Moreover, Holder was intimately involved in President Clinton’s August 11, 1999 pardon of 16 members of the FALN, a violent, Marxist terrorist organization that had been active in the U.S. from the mid-1970s through the early 1980s.
Obama Appoints Janet Napolitano as Homeland Security Secretary (she links conservatives with potential terrorists; "terrorism" is renamed "man-caused disasters"):
Also on December 1, Obama nominated former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Four months later, Napolitano’s DHS would release a report warning that “rightwing extremists may be gaining new recruits by playing on their fears about several emergent issues” such as "the economic downturn," "the election of the first African American president," and "the possible passage of new restrictions on firearms." Particularly susceptible to recruitment, added the report, were military veterans (returning from Iraq and Afghanistan) who faced "significant challenges reintegrating into their communities." The report summarized:
"Rightwing extremism in the United States can be broadly divided into those groups, movements, and adherents that are primarily hate-oriented (based on hatred of particular religious, racial or ethnic groups), and those that are mainly antigovernment, rejecting federal authority in favor of state or local authority, or rejecting government authority entirely. It may include groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration."
From her earliest days as the head of DHS, Napolitano broke with the Department's tradition of warning the American public about potential terrorist threats. Instead, Napolitano began referring to acts of terrorism as "man-caused disasters."
On December 3, 2008, President-elect Obama nominated former New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson as Secretary of Commerce. Richardson’s most damaging political legacy was his ineffectiveness in preventing the 9/11 attacks from taking place. Had Richardson not intervened in Mideast events, the Taliban may have been wiped out as early as 1998. In April of that year, (when Richardson was a UN Ambassador), President Clinton dispatched him to Afghanistan to impose an arms embargo on the U.S.-friendly forces of the Northern Alliance, which were then locked in a civil war against the pro-bin Laden Taliban. Richardson brokered a deal in which the Northern Alliance and the Taliban agreed to lay down their arms. He then congratulated himself on having done “a good day’s work.” The ceasefire held for approximately one month, long enough for Pakistan to violate the arms embargo which the Northern Alliance had observed, and to replenish the Taliban’s arsenal. Thus the path to 9/11 was cleared, as Congressman Dana Rohrbacher explained:
“I cannot stress this more forcefully: it was a pivotal moment. The Taliban could easily have been defeated.… UN Ambassador Bill Richardson arrived on the scene to convince the anti-Taliban forces to stand back, and we thus saved this fanatical, anti-Western regime [the Taliban] from being destroyed and being defeated.”
Also during the Clinton administration, the President granted China nearly unfettered access to American nuclear technology -- and Bill Richardson’s Department of Energy was intimately involved in that process.
On January 4, 2009, Richardson would announce that he was withdrawing his name from consideration for Commerce Secretary, as a federal grand jury investigation into a state contract awarded to his political donors threatened to derail his approval by the Senate. Specifically, a California company (CDR Financial Products) that had contributed to Richardson's political activities won a $1.48 million New Mexico transportation contract.
Another Obama cabinet nominee in December 2008 was Hilda Solis, whom the President-elect tapped to be his Secretary of Labor. Solis had been an officer of the socialist-leaning Progressive Caucus in the House of Representatives. She had once sent a caseworker from her East Los Angeles office to represent her at a workers’ rights forum organized by Socialist International, which has close ties to the Democratic Socialists of America and bills itself as the worldwide organization of social democratic, socialist and labor parties. On another occasion, Solis had dispatched a representative to serve as a presenter at a major Communist Party USA event.
In early January 2009, President-elect Obama named Rahm Emanuel as his Chief of Staff. A month earlier, it had been reported that Emanuel, cognizant of the fact that the economic recession in which America was mired presented an opportunity for the Democratic Party to enact sweeping legislation under the guise of an economic recovery plan, had said the following in a candid moment: "A crisis is a terrible thing to waste."
Obama Appoints Ken Salazar as Secretary of the Interior:
On December 17, 2008, President-elect Obama announced he would nominate Ken Salazar as U.S. Secretary of the Interior. Earlier that year, then-Colorado Governor Salazar had refused to vote in favor of any new offshore oil drilling; in a Senate exchange with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kyentucky), Salazar adamantly opposed allowing any drilling on America's outer continental shelf -- even if gasoline prices were to reach $10 per gallon.
Inauguration Day, 2009:
Barack Obama was inaugurated as America’s 44th President on January 20, 2009; he was sworn in by Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts.
Rev. Joseph Lowery delivered the benediction at the inauguration ceremony. In that benediction, Lowery said:
"Lord, in the memory of all the saints who from their labors rest, and in the joy of a new beginning, we ask you to help us work for that day when black will not be asked to get in back; when brown can stick around; when the red man can get ahead, man; and when white will embrace what is right. That all those who do justice and love mercy say Amen."
Poet Elizabeth Alexander, who had been Obama's friend since the two were colleagues at the University of Chicago in the late 1990s, recited a poem for the occasion.
Suspension of Military Tribunals:
Immediately following his inauguration, Obama's first act as U.S. President was to order the suspension of all military tribunals that had been established to adjudicate the cases of terror suspects at the Guantanamo Bay detention center, which housed more than 200 al Qaeda and Taliban combatants captured by the American military during its post-9/11 wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. According to the Defense Department, such tribunals, where military officers serve as the judges and jurors, are designed to deal with offenses committed in the context of warfare. The issue of whether or not it is appropriate to try someone accused of terrorism in a military court depends upon how one answers a single overriding question: Is terrorism a matter of war, or is it a legal issue where redress should be pursued via the civilian criminal-justice system — like robbery, vandalism, or murder? Obama subscribes to the latter view.
Senate Confirmation of Steven Chu as Energy Secretary:
On January 20, 2009, the U.S. Senate unanimously confirmed Steven Chu as Secretary of Energy. Chu had frequently noted that the relatively low cost of traditional forms of energy in the U.S. threatened to encourage excessive energy use by the public and would, as a consequence, exacerbate the problem of global warming. At one point, Chu said: "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe."
More Executive Orders (Guantanamo, rendition, and enhanced interrogation techniques):
One called for the closure of the Guantanamo Bay facility within a year.
The second called for shuttering the so-called “black sites” that had been used for “rendition,” which law professor Henry Mark Holzer described as "the practice and process of sending suspected terrorists to other countries whose interrogation techniques are more robust than our own in order to extract information that may save the lives of our soldiers or our citizens here at home."
The third required all U.S. agents who interrogate high-value detainees to abide by the guidelines set forth in the Army Field Manual (AMF), whose limits on interrogation practices are much stricter than those traditionally followed by the CIA. For example, the AMF prohibits interrogators from subjecting detainees to “excessive noise,” “excessive dampness,” or “excessive or inadequate heat, light or ventilation”; it bans any program of sleep deprivation that does not permit a detainee at least four hours of sleep per night; it states that “all prisoners and detainees, regardless of status, will be treated humanely”; and it forbids interrogators from taunting detainees by such means as mocking those passages of the Koran that serve as the basis for the jihadists’ fanatical beliefs.
Chronology of Obama's Statements and Actions Regarding Guantanamo Bay, from 2007 to 2011:
Obama (August 2007, www.Salon.com): "As
President, I will close Guantanamo, reject the Military Commissions
Act and adhere to the Geneva Conventions. Our Constitution and our
Uniform Code of Military Justice provide a framework for dealing
16, 2008): "I
have said repeatedly that I will close Guantanamo, and I will follow
through on that."
(Jan. 22, 2009, www.Salon.com): Sitting
in the Oval Office, surrounded by retired military personnel,
President Obama signs an executive order to shut down the Guantanamo
detention camp as well as all secret CIA prisons overseas.
(Jan. 22, 2009, www.Salon.com): Obama signs
the order to close Guantanamo and says : "This
is me following through on not just a commitment I made during the
campaign, but I think an understanding that dates back to our
founding fathers, that we are willing to observe core standards of
conduct, not just when it's easy, but also when it's hard."
(January 23, 2009. ABC
will be closed no later than one year from now. We can abide by a
rule that says we don't torture."
(May 2009, www.Salon.com): "By
any measure, the costs of keeping it [Guantanamo] open far exceed the
complications involved in closing it. That's why I argued that it
should be closed throughout my campaign, and that is why I ordered it
closed within one year."
(January, 2010, www.Salon.com): "We
will not be transferring additional detainees back to Yemen at this
time. But make no mistake. We will close Guantanamo prison, which has
damaged our national security
interests and become a tremendous recruiting
tool for Al Qaeda."
March 2011: Obama signs an executive order to create a formal system of indefinite detention for the captives still kept at Guantanamo Bay. Releases statement through senior administration official: "The president does remain committed to closing the prison at Guantanamo Bay."
Obama said: “[A]ll too often the United States starts by dictating ... and we don’t always know all the factors that are involved. So let’s listen.”
Obama called on Israel to drop its “preconceptions” and negotiate with Hamas, the terrorist organization whose founding charter remains irrevocably committed to the permanent destruction of Israel and the mass murder of Jews.
Obama pledged to negotiate with Iran regarding that nation’s pursuit of nuclear weapons. (Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had repeatedly declared that “Israel must be wiped off the map,” and that “the annihilation of the Zionist regime will come.”) On the same day as Obama’s Al Arabiya interview was aired, an Iranian government spokesman characterized the notion that the Nazis had conducted a Holocaust seven decades earlier as “a big lie.”)
Obama invited Iran to “unclench its fist” and meet him at the negotiating table for “unconditional talks.” While noting that “Iran has acted in ways not conducive to peace and prosperity in the region,” he suggested that Tehran’s support for terrorists, though “not helpful,” was largely a problem of the past. This was untrue; Iran was still actively supplying weapons to Hamas and Hezbollah.
Obama apologized to the Muslim world for former President Bush’s use of the term “Islamic fascism.” Said Obama: “[T]he language we use matters. And what we need to understand is, is that there are extremist organizations -- whether Muslim or any other faith in the past -- that will use faith as a justification for violence. We cannot paint with a broad brush a faith as a consequence of the violence that is done in that faith’s name.”
Describing the United States as a nation of “Muslims, Christians, Jews,” and others, Obama said: “[T]he United States has a stake in the well-being of the Muslim world, [thus] the language we use has to be a language of respect…. I have Muslim members of my family. I have lived in Muslim countries.” (Obama had carefully avoided discussing his Muslim lineage during the 2008 presidential campaign.)
Pledging to defend Muslims from Americans’ negative stereotypes, Obama said: “[M]y job is to communicate to the American people that the Muslim world is filled with extraordinary people who simply want to live their lives and see their children live better lives.”
Distancing himself from the Bush administration’s “cowboy diplomacy,” Obama said the Islamic world’s ill will toward the United States was the result of American policies that had eroded Muslims’ faith in the purity of U.S. intentions. “We are looking at the region as a whole and communicating a message to the Arab world and the Muslim world,” he said, “that we are ready to initiate a new partnership based on mutual respect and mutual interest.”
Obama called for a return “to the same respect and partnership that America had with the Muslim world as recently as 20 or 30 years ago.”
“What was happening during what Obama seems to regard as the ‘golden age’ of [Jimmy] Carter's leadership? US diplomats were held hostage in Tehran and daily humiliated with mock executions. Soviet troops were annexing Afghanistan to the Evil Empire. Saddam Hussein was preparing to invade Iran, starting an eight-year war that claimed a million lives. Mecca was under siege by the ideological antecedents of Osama bin Laden. Syrian troops were preparing to march into Lebanon.
“Other features of this ‘golden age’: the seizure of power by mullahs in Tehran, the assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, the coming to power of communists in the Horn of Africa, the military coup in Turkey, the first Islamist terror attacks in Algeria, unprecedented waves of repression in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and the imposition of military rule in Pakistan.
“During the same period, and its immediate aftermath, dozens of Americans from many walks of life were seized as hostages and sometimes brutally murdered in several Muslim countries. The U.S. ambassador in Sudan was murdered; the CIA station chief in Beirut abducted, taken to Tehran and killed under torture.
“A similarly dark picture could be drawn of the situation 20 years ago, when America was arming the mujahedin in Afghanistan while Saddam Hussein was preparing to invade Kuwait.”
Iran's Response to Obama's Interview:
A few hours after President Obama's interview had aired, Iranian President Ahmadinejad announced that no diplomatic talks would be possible unless the United States first met a set of preconditions. He demanded that the U.S. issue a formal apology for its “crimes” against Iran and the Muslim world, and that it promptly withdraw all its troops from foreign soil. Five days later, Iran defiantly launched its first domestically produced satellite -- a major leap forward in its quest to develop the capability of striking any target on earth with a long-range missile.
Obama Signs the Fair Pay Act:
Nine days after his inauguration, President Obama honored one of his campaign pledges by signing the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, a law making it easier for women to sue employers for pay discrimination. Said the President:
“It is a story of women across this country still earning just 78 cents for every $1 [that] men earn, women of color even less, which means that today in the year 2009, countless women are still losing thousands of dollars in salary, income, and retirement savings over the course of a lifetime…. Equal pay is by no means just a women’s issue. It’s a family issue. It’s about parents who find themselves with less money for tuition and child care, couples who wind up with less to retire on, households where one breadwinner is paid less than she deserves. It’s the difference between affording the mortgage or not, between keeping the heat on or paying the doctor bills.”
Obama’s assertion that women are underpaid by American employers in comparison to men was demonstrably untrue. As longtime employment lawyer Warren Farrell, who served as a board member of the National Organization for Women from 1970 to 1973, explains in his book Why Men Earn More, the gender “pay gap” is not a result of gender bias or of workplace discrimination. It can be explained entirely by the fact that women as a group tend, to a much greater degree than men, to make certain employment choices which, even while suppressing incomes, afford certain lifestyle benefits that women value highly.
For example: Far more often than men, women tend to seek employment in fields that are non-technical and which do not involve the physical—as opposed to the social—sciences; fields that offer a high level of physical safety; fields that involve work that is performed indoors as opposed to outdoors (where bad weather can make working conditions poor); fields that feature a pleasant and socially dynamic working environment; fields that are characterized by lower levels of emotional strife; fields that offer desirable shifts or flexible working hours; fields that require fewer working hours per week or fewer working days per year; and fields that do not require long commutes or geographic relocation.
Moreover, women tend to compile fewer years of uninterrupted service in their jobs than men; for instance, they are far more likely than men to leave the workforce for extended periods in order to attend to family-related matters such as raising children. During the course of their overall work lives, men accumulate an extra 5 to 9 years on the job as compared to their female counterparts, and each of those additional years translates to approximately 3 or 4 percent more in annual pay.
When all of the foregoing variables are factored into the equation, the gender pay gap disappears. For a more comprehensive discussion of this issue, click here.
According to CNS News, the women who had worked on Obama’s Senate staff during 2007-2008 also earned 78 cents for every dollar his male staffers were paid (annual salaries of $44,953.21 for the women, vs. $57,425 for the men). These data, however, did not take into account such variables as job position, experience, or education -- all of which are factors that could influence pay. Thus the raw numbers did not constitute evidence that the women were being discriminated against – though by the (invalid) standard which Obama had applied to all other American employers, the numbers were indeed indicative of discrimination.
President Obama's "Czars":
Within the first few days of his presidency, Barack Obama began appointing so-called “czars” to manage various governmental responsibilities. These czars have been described as “super aides” that work across agency lines to push the President’s agendas. CBS News says they “report directly to Mr. Obama and have the power to shape national policy on their subject area.” The lines defining the boundaries of the czars’ power are unclear, however, even to many in Congress. For example, Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said:
“Who’s in charge of health care? Is it the Secretary of Health and Human Services? Or is the White House czar? Who is in charge of environmental and energy issues?”
Czars usually do not require congressional approval, as do cabinet nominees. In most cases, there are no Senate confirmation hearings, thus the czars are insulated from accountability to Congress. Critics say that such an arrangement threatens to increase the power of the President (who appoints the czars) beyond what is Constitutionally mandated. Democrat Senator Robert Byrd, for instance, said the czar system:
“can threaten the Constitutional system of checks and balances … As presidential assistants and advisers, these White House staffers are not accountable for their actions to the Congress, to cabinet officials, or to virtually anyone but the President. They rarely testify before congressional committees, and often shield the information and decision-making process behind the assertion of executive privilege.”
By mid-August 2009, President Obama would appoint at least 32 czars. For a complete list of these individuals, click here.
Carol Browner, Energy and Environment Czar:
One of the first czars whom Obama appointed (in January 2009) was his Energy and Environment Czar, Carol Browner. Browner had formerly served as a "commissioner" of the Socialist International (SI), the umbrella group for 170 "social democratic, socialist and labor parties" in 55 countries. SI's "organizing document" cites capitalism as the cause of "devastating crises," "mass unemployment," "imperialist expansion," and "colonial exploitation" worldwide. Browner worked on SI's Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which contends that "the developed world must reduce consumption and commit to binding and punitive limits on greenhouse gas emissions."
John Brennan, Terrorism Czar:
Also in January, Obama appointed Terrorism Czar John Brennan. A few months later, Brennan would openly reject the use of the term “War on Terrorism.” Elaborating, Brennan said the U.S. would not seek merely to defeat al Qaeda and its allies, but also to address ignorance, poverty, and repression, since terrorist attacks are often “the final murderous manifestation of a long process rooted in hopelessness, humiliation, and hatred.” As Matt Gurney wrote in FrontPage Magazine, “The War on Terror had become the War on Poverty.” Brennan also maintained that it was wrong to say the U.S. was fighting "jihadists," because “jihad” was “a legitimate term … meaning to purify oneself or to wage a holy struggle for a moral goal.”
Obama Strikes Down Rule that Prohibited U.S. Funding of Abortion Clinics Overseas:
On January 23, 2009 -- the day after the 36th anniversary of the famous Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision -- President Obama struck down a rule that had prohibited U.S. money from being used to fund international family-planning clinics that either promote abortion or provide referrals to abortion services. Stating that such restrictions on funding had been used as a "political wedge issue," the President said that he had "no desire to continue this stale and fruitless debate."
Tax Cheats Appointed by Obama:
By early February 2009, two high-profile Obama nominees for key administration posts had been forced to withdraw their names from consideration because of tax-law violations they had committed. One was former Clinton Treasury official Nancy Killefer, whom Obama tapped to be his “Chief Performance Officer” to oversee each federal agency’s compliance, organizational effectiveness, and waste management. Killefer had failed to pay employment taxes for 18 months and had an outstanding tax lien on her home.
More egregious were the transgressions of Health and Human Services Secretary-designee Tom Daschle, who had failed to pay longstanding back taxes totaling $146,000, including interest and penalties.
One tax cheat who did not withdraw from his assigned post with the Obama administration was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. During Geithner’s Senate confirmation hearings, it was learned that he had failed to pay $43,000 in federal self-employment taxes over a four-year period. He subsequently paid the amount in full, stating that he had been guilty only of making “careless,” “avoidable” and “unintentional” errors. (In March 2009, the Associated Press reported that Geithner would soon “unveil a series of rules and measures … to limit the ability of international companies to avoid U.S. taxes.” Also in March, Geithner told the House Ways and Means Committee that President Obama intended to propose legislation to limit the ability of American companies and high earners to shelter foreign earnings from U.S. taxes.)
Mastermind of the USS Cole Bombing Is Released:
In early February 2009, President Obama announced that all charges against Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri, mastermind of the October 2000 attack on the USS Cole (which killed 17 American servicemen), would be dropped. Nashiri, who had issued confessions under the duress of such procedures as waterboarding and mock executions, was slated to be tried by a military commission, where evidence obtained by means of those measures would have been admissible. But because Obama had now outlawed military commissions, that evidence would no longer be admissible. Thus the defendant was released.
Appointment of Charles Freeman to the National Intelligence Council:
February also saw President Obama’s appointment of Charles Freeman as chair of the National Intelligence Council (NIC). In a 2002 speech, Freeman had spoken as an apologist for Islamic terrorism while condemning the United States:
“Saudis and other Gulf Arabs were shocked by the level of ignorance and antipathy displayed by Americans toward them and toward Islam after September 11. The connection between Islam and suicide bombing is a false connection. Kamikaze pilots were not Muslims…. And what of America's lack of introspection about September 11? Instead of asking what might have caused the attack, or questioning the propriety of the national response to it, there is an ugly mood of chauvinism. Before Americans call on others to examine themselves, we should examine ourselves.”
Freeman also had been extremely critical of Israel over the years. In 2006, for instance, he lauded the publication of John Mearsheimer’s and Stephen Walt’s controversial essay, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” which claimed that American Jews had a “stranglehold” on U.S. politicians and decision-makers. (Amid much controversy, Freeman would withdraw his name from consideration for the NIC post on March 9, 2009.)
Leader of the Communist Party USA Lauds Obama:
In early February 2009, it was reported that Communist Party USA leader Sam Webb had recently delivered a major speech about President Obama, titled “Off and Running: Opportunity of a Lifetime.” Said Webb:
“We now have not simply a friend, but a people’s advocate in the White House…. An era of progressive change is within reach, no longer an idle dream. Just look at the new lay of the land: a friend of labor and its allies sits in the White House.”
“Counter-crisis spending of a bigger size and scope to invigorate and sustain a full recovery and meet human needs – something that the New Deal never accomplished”
“Strengthening of union rights”
“Trade agreements that have at their core the protection and advancement of international working class interests”
“Equality in conditions of life for racially minorities and women”
“Democratic public takeover of the energy complex as well as a readiness to consider the takeover of other basic industries whose future is problematic in private hands”
“Turning education, child care, and health care into ‘no profit’ zones”
“Rerouting investment capital from unproductive investment (military, finance and so forth) to productive investment in a green economy and public infrastructure”
“Changing direction of our nation’s foreign policy toward cooperation, disarmament, and diplomacy”
“Full-scale assault on global warming”
“Serious and sustained commitment to assisting the developing countries that are locked in poverty and misery”
Obama Says that Only Government Can Rescue Ailing Economy:
On February 6, 2009, President Obama held his first prime-time press conference, where, in reference to the economic downturn that was afflicting the U.S., he said: “It is only government that can break the vicious cycle.”
Cuts in Defense Spending:
From the earliest days of his presidency, Obama signaled his intent to slow defense spending (particularly in terms of modernizing and upgrading existing weapons systems); to cut funding for ballistic missile-defense systems; and to adopt a new arms-control deal with the Kremlin that would drastically reduce the nuclear arsenals of the U.S. and Russia alike (as a steppingstone toward Obama’s stated goal of a global ban on all such instruments of war).
Outreach to Russia:
Moreover, the Obama administration indicated its desire to swiftly ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which a majority in the U.S. Senate had rejected in 1997, and which would permanently prohibit future nuclear-weapons testing by the United States and its fellow signatories. According to Frank Gaffney, president of the Center for Security Policy:
“There are myriad problems with this initiative: As we are unsure of the actual size of Moscow’s stockpile, Russia could retain a large, covert force. Russia is modernizing its nuclear arsenal, something Team Obama refuses to do for ours. And verification of such cuts, let alone ‘Global Zero’ will be, as a practical matter, impossible.”
In February 2009, President Obama sent a “secret letter” to Russian president Dmitri Medvedev, telling the latter that the U.S. would abandon all plans to deploy anti-ballistic missiles in Poland and the Czech Republic if the Russians would “help” America in its nuclear negotiations with Iran. On March 3, Medvedev publicly and unambiguously rejected the deal.
Russia responded further to Obama’s overtures by issuing a “long list” of “brazen … provocations,” as conservative political analyst Charles Krauthammer depicted them. Krauthammer listed these provocations as follows:
“Pressuring Kyrgyzstan to shut down the U.S. air base in Manas, an absolutely crucial NATO conduit into Afghanistan”
“Announcing the formation of a ‘rapid reaction force’ with six former Soviet republics, a regional Russian-led strike force meant to reassert Russian hegemony in the Muslim belt north of Afghanistan”
“Planning to establish a Black Sea naval base in Georgia's breakaway province of Abkhazia, conquered by Moscow last summer”
“Declaring its intention to deploy offensive Iskander missiles in Kaliningrad if Poland and the Czech Republic go[es] ahead with plans to station an American (anti-Iranian) missile defense system”
The $787 Billion Stimulus Package:
In February 2009 the Democrat-led Congress, pressured by President Obama, rushed to pass a monumental $787 billion economic-stimulus bill that was 1,071 pages long, and which few, if any, legislators had read before voting on it. Obama stressed the urgency of passing this bill at the earliest possible moment, so as to forestall further harm to the U.S. economy. After the bill was passed by Congress on February 13, it sat on the President’s desk for three days before it was signed, as the Obamas were away on a family holiday.
(In the House of Representatives, the stimulus bill passed by a margin of 246 to 183; all 176 House Republicans opposed the measure, along with 7 Democrats. In the Senate, the vote was 60 to 38 in favor of the bill, with 3 Republicans and two Independents joining 55 Democrats in support of the measure.)
Hoover Institution Fellow Thomas Sowell made the following observations about the hasty manner in which the stimulus bill was passed:
“The urgency with which [the Obama administration] has rushed through a monumental spending bill, whose actual spending will not be completed even after 2010, ought to set off alarm bells among those who are not in thrall to the euphoria of Obama's presidency.
“The urgency was real, even if the reason given was phony. President Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, let slip a valuable clue when he said that a crisis should not go to waste, that a crisis is an opportunity to do things that you could not do otherwise.
“Think about the utter cynicism of that. During a crisis, a panicked public will let you get away with things you couldn't get away with otherwise.
“A corollary of that is that you had better act quickly while the crisis is at hand, without Congressional hearings or public debates about what you are doing. Above all, you must act before the economy begins to recover on its own.
“The party line is that the market has failed so disastrously that only the government can save us. It is proclaimed in Washington and echoed in the media.
“The last thing the administration can risk is delay that could allow the market to begin recovering on its own. That would undermine, if not destroy, a golden opportunity to restructure the American economy in ways that would allow politicians to micro-manage other sectors of the economy the way they have micro-managed the housing market into disaster.”
One of the stimulus bill’s most significant provisions was its repeal of the essentials of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act, the welfare-reform legislation passed by the Republican Congress and signed by President Clinton in 1996, which reduced the welfare rolls by two-thirds. Robert Rector of the Heritage Foundation, who helped write the ’96 law, said that under the Obama plan “the federal government will pay 80 percent of cost for each new family that a state enrolls in welfare.” By promising bonuses to states that put more people on welfare, the Obama plan reversed the incentives created by the 1996 legislation.
A Heritage Foundation report stated that 32 percent of the stimulus bill -- or an average of $6,700 in “new means-tested welfare spending” for every poor person in the U.S. -- was earmarked for such programs as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families; Medicaid; food stamps; the Women, Infants, and Children food program; public housing; Section 8 housing; the Community Development Block Grant; the Social Services Block Grant; Head Start; and the Earned Income Tax Credit. Said the report:
“But this welfare spending is only the tip of the iceberg. The bill sets in motion another $523 billion in new welfare spending that is hidden by budgetary gimmicks. If the bill is enacted, the total 10-year extra welfare cost is likely to be $787 billion.... In the first year after enactment of the stimulus bill, federal welfare spending will explode upward by more than 20 percent, rising from $491 billion in FY 2008 to $601 billion in FY 2009. This one-year explosion in welfare spending is, by far, the largest in U.S. history…. Once the hidden welfare spending in the bill is counted, the total 10-year fiscal burden (added to the national debt) will [be] $1.34 trillion. This amounts to $17,400 for each household paying income tax in the U.S.”
“This credit represents a fundamental shift in welfare policy. At a cost of around $23 billion per year, this credit will provide up to [$400] in cash to low income adults who pay no income taxes. For the first time, the government will give significant cash to able-bodied adults without dependent children. Since most of these individuals have little apparent need for assistance, the new credit represents ‘spreading the wealth’ for its own sake. The lack of connection between this credit and ‘economic stimulus’ is evident in the fact that the first payments under the program will not be made until April 2010.”
In their 2009 book, Catastrophe, political analysts Dick Morris and Eileen McGann provide some keen insights into the monumental significance of President Obama's $400 refundable tax credit:
"Under the guise of a stimulus package to bring the economy out of recession, the Obama administration is reworking the fundamental politics of our country, passing out checks like heroin to create a constituency addicted to public handouts, and concentrating the tax burden of paying for it all on a smaller and smaller number of Americans. A larger percentage of the American population is paying no income taxes at all and few other levies, making them unlikely to complain when taxes are raised on those who do. At the same time, they're getting checks from Washington as part of a concerted effort to build a constituency that supports big government and big handouts....
"On the day [Obama] became president, 43 million American households -- roughly a third of all households in the country -- were paying no federal income taxes at all. In fact, most of those people got checks from the government.
"But when Obama's tax program is fully implemented, a majority of Americans will be exempt from paying any federal income taxes. And, instead of a tax bill, most of them will get checks from Washington every year.
"Under the guise of cutting taxes and 'making work pay,' Obama is effectively putting a majority of Americans on welfare....
"Obama has taken the refundable tax credit one step further, giving everyone who earns less than $190,000 a tax credit of $400 (or $800 for couples). And if they don't pay enough in taxes to use up the $400 credit, they will receive a check for the balance. If they pay no taxes at all, they will receive a $400 check in the mail....
"Obama's refundable tax credit is a permanent part of the tax code, an entitlement we'll have to honor year after year....
"Obama's tax cuts [crossed a] key line in the sand: they exempted a voting majority of Americans from having to pay any federal income tax at all....
"Unfortunately, in the future, we can look forward to a majority of American voters having a vested interest in maintaining the Obama tax policies so that they continue to pay no taxes at all, while the burden on those who do pay taxes continues to grow exponentially.
"The political ramifications of this policy will be enormous. Tax eaters will strongly outnumber tax payers, and those who are paying for our government will have little or no voice in what the government does." (Catastrophe, pp. 47-51)
“This goal will be facilitated by Obama’s appointment of Arne Duncan for secretary of education, who ... made news [in 2008] with his plan to open a ‘gay-friendly’ public high school in Chicago with a curriculum teaching ‘the history of all people who have been oppressed and the civil rights movements that have led to social justice and queer studies.’ The gay-friendly school, to be called ‘Pride Campus,’ was quietly put on hold after Duncan’s appointment as secretary of education was announced.”
Before long, analysts noted that a significant amount of the stimulus bill’s disbursements would be used to pay illegal aliens working on construction projects funded by the legislation. Newsmax.com reporter David Patten explained:
“The House version of the $787 billion stimulus bill required verification of the legal residency of anyone put to work by its spending. But that provision was removed from the bill before members of Congress met to reconcile the House and Senate versions of the bill…. The estimate of 300,000 construction jobs is based on U.S. Census and other studies showing that approximately 15 percent of U.S. construction workers are illegal immigrants. Construction projects funded by the stimulus bill are expected to generate 2 million jobs. Assuming 15 percent of those workers are illegal, 300,000 illegal aliens would be employed. The actual number could be higher, however, because many of the projects are in states with high immigrant populations, such as Texas, California, and Florida.”
During the 10 months following the passage of the stimulus bill, more than 4 million additional Americans became unemployed. Yet the Obama administration stated that it had "created or saved" more than 640,000 jobs.
As time went by, Democrats contended that the stimulus package had been crucial for helping to end the recession. But in September 2010, the National Bureau of Economic Research reported that the recession actually had ended in June 2009 -- before any significant stimulus spending had begun.
Unprecedented Hikes in Welfare Spending:
A CNS News report placed President Obama's welfare-spending proposals in historical context:
"As a candidate for president, Barack Obama decried the financial toll that the Iraq war was taking on the economy ... 'Because of the Bush-McCain policies, our debt has ballooned,' then-Sen. Barack Obama [said] in March 2008. 'This is creating problems in our fragile economy. And that kind of debt also places an unfair burden on our children and grandchildren, who will have to repay it.'
"During the entire administration of George W. Bush, the Iraq war cost a total of $622 billion, according to the Congressional Research Service. President Obama’s welfare spending will reach $888 billion in a single fiscal year--2010--more than the Bush administration spent on [the] war in Iraq from the first “shock and awe” attack in 2003 until Bush left office in January .
"Obama’s spending proposals call for the largest increases in welfare benefits in U.S. history, according to a report by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. This will lead to a spending total of $10.3 trillion over the next decade on various welfare programs. These include cash payments, food, housing, Medicaid and various social services for low-income Americans and those at 200 percent of the poverty level, or $44,000 for a family of four. Among that total, $7.5 trillion will be federal money and $2.8 trillion will be federally mandated state expenditures."
According to Heritage Foundation senior research fellow Robert Rector:
“None of the $800 billion [actually $888 billion] being spent is counted as income, so the Census comes back and they say, 'Oh my goodness, we have 40 million poor people. We need to spend more money.' That is a game the taxpayer can never win.”
In a late February 2009 speech to Congress, President Obama called for the implementation of a cap-and-trade environmental plan designed to reduce carbon emissions. The cap-and-trade legislation (known officially as the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009, or the Waxman-Markey bill, in honor of its congressional sponsors) would establish an economy-wide cap on carbon emissions and then permit companies to buy or sell emission “credits” among themselves. The ultimate result would be carbon rationing that would, in the end, impose additional costs ranging from $1,870 to $6,970 per year on every American household. An MIT study placed the figure at $3,100. A U.S. Treasury Department document dated March 9, 2009 said "a cap and trade program could generate federal receipts on the order of $100 to $200 billion annually." That is the equivalent of raising personal income taxes by approximately 15 percent or $1,761 a year, per household.
Robert Murphy, author of The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism, explained the mechanism by which cap-and-trade would impose costs on the American public:
“Under a cap and trade scheme, the government sets an absolute cap on how much carbon dioxide industries can emit in the United States, and it enforces this cap by selling a limited number of allowances. All of the operations (utilities, factories, etc.) covered by the law must turn in the appropriate number of allowances based on how much carbon dioxide they release into the atmosphere each year. The government gets its revenues from auctioning off these allowances to the highest bidder. (The ‘trade’ occurs because the allowances can be bought and sold in the market based on the needs of particular firms.)
“Naturally, if businesses have a huge new cost imposed on them—they now need to spend $366 billion per year buying emission allowances from Washington—they will ultimately pass this cost onto their customers in the form of higher prices.”
Notwithstanding the publication of the Treasury Department's March 9, 2009 document, President Obama said the following at a June 25, 2009 press conference:
"In a decade, the price [of cap-and-trade] to the average American will be about the same as [the price of] a postage stamp per day."
A Heritage Foundation report stated that Waxman-Markey, if pursued unilaterally by the United States, “would moderate temperatures by only hundredths of a degree in 2050 and no more than two-tenths of a degree at the end of the century.” In other words, the bill would extract trillions of dollars out of the U.S. economy in exchange for a benefit so small as to be—even in a best-case scenario—wholly imperceptible. Said the same report:
“A multilateral approach would not fare much better. In the case of international cooperation, India, China, and the rest of the developing world would have to revert to their 2000 levels of CO2 emissions by 2050. On a per-capita basis, China would backtrack to about one-tenth of what the U.S. emitted in 2000. India and most of the developing world would have to drop to even lower levels. This scenario, in addition to being highly unlikely, would de-develop the developing world.”
Nonetheless, President Obama remained fully committed to cap-and-trade as a means of combating what he viewed as the looming crisis of global warming, which, he flatly asserted, “is real, is happening now, and is the result of human activities.”
Obama's Opposition to the Oil and Coal Industries:
In conjunction with his commitment to cap-and-trade, President Obama opposed oil and natural gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) and elsewhere in U.S. territory. Viewing the oil industry as the chief cause of global warming, he preferred to finance “alternative energy research and infrastructure.”
The President also had dark plans for the coal industry, which, as of 2008, accounted for about half of all the electricity produced in America. Said Obama during the presidential campaign of 2008:
“If somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can, It’s just that it will bankrupt them because they will be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that’s being emitted…. Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I’m capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it, whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.”
In addition, Obama showed no inclination to make quick strides with the cleanest form of energy, nuclear energy.
Adhering to his campaign pledge, Obama, from the earliest days of his presidency, consistently asserted his intent to allow the Bush tax cuts to expire in 2010, thereby causing the top marginal income tax rate to rise from 35 percent to 39.6 percent. He also was steadfast in his insistence that the capital gains tax should be hiked to 20 percent (for purposes of “fairness”), and that the estate tax should be left intact (for reasons of “morality”).
Obama also called for disallowing approximately one-third of the deductions that top earners typically take on their taxes – such as deductions for state and local taxes, charitable contributions, and mortgage interest. This change alone would result in a 20 percent increase in the taxes owed by such people.
Political analysts Dick Morris and Eileen McGann wrote that Obama was seeking “to apply the full payroll tax to all income over $250,000 a year. (Right now, the 15.3 percent Social Security tax only applies to the first $106,800 of income -- you neither pay the tax on income above that, nor accumulate added benefit.) For many taxpayers in this bracket, this hike will raise their total taxes by about half.” Morris and McGann observed further:
“These increases are politically insignificant: The top 2 percent of the nation casts only about 4 percent of the votes, barely enough to attract the notice of even the most meticulous pollsters. But they have enormous economic significance. Those who earn more than $200,000 pay almost 60 percent of America's income taxes and account for a third of its total disposable income.… Here is a president who would rather redistribute income than create wealth. He thinks it more important to grow government than to fight inflation.”
Taken together, the various facets of Obama’s tax proposals would boost the top marginal income tax rate to well over 55 percent. In some states, it would eclipse 60 percent with the inclusion of state and local taxes -- meaning that only in Hungary would the top marginal tax rate exceed Obama's proposed rate.
The $410 Billion Supplemental Appropriations Bill:
Shortly after the stimulus package was passed in February, Congress speedily put together a $410 billion supplemental appropriations bill to fund the federal government for the remainder of the year. According to the Washington Post:
"The measure would provide fiscal 2009 funding for nine federal departments, covering all government activities other than defense and homeland security-related agencies, whose funding was approved last fall. Many agencies would see big increases, in some cases 10 percent or more above fiscal 2008 levels....
"The bill represents a bonanza for federal agencies that felt a budget squeeze for much of Bush's two terms. Mass transit, public housing, the National Institutes of Health, Head Start and the Pell grant program are all among the Democratic priorities that would see new federal money flow into their coffers. The Food and Drug Administration would receive nearly $335 million more than it did in fiscal 2008. The supplemental nutrition program for women, infants and children, known as WIC, would grow by $1.2 billion, a 21 percent jump from the $5.7 billion appropriated last year."
Though Obama had pledged (during his presidential campaign) to eliminate all earmarks from legislation as a precondition for his signing any bill into law, he put his name to this appropriations bill even though it contained 9,287 earmarks that doled out $12.8 billion to special interests -- including such pet projects as cricket population control in Utah, a tattoo removal clinic in California, swine-odor and manure-management research in Iowa, a fruit fly facility and a turtle-research project in Hawaii, oyster rehabilitation in Alabama, wool-utilization research in Michigan, bus trolleys in Puerto Rico, lighthouse renovation in Maine, beaver research in Mississippi and North Carolina, and a honeybee factory in the Rio Grande Valley. (Catastrophe, pp. 21-22)
Explaining his reasons for signing a bill so heavily laden with earmarks, President Obama said: "I am signing an imperfect omnibus bill because it's necessary for the ongoing functions of government. But I also view this as a departure point for more far-reaching change." Stating that future earmarks would have to have a "legitimate and worthy public purpose," he declared, "This piece of legislation must mark an end to the old way of doing business."
How Obama's Spending Policies Set the Stage for Future Inflation:
In mid-2009, Dick Morris and Eileen McGann offered a clear, concise explanation of why massive deficit spending such as Obama's is likely to cause steep inflation:
"According to the Federal Reserve Board, from October 2008 through February 2009 the supply of money in circulation (plus that held in reserve by financial institutions) grew by 271 percent. That's right -- it almost tripled. Yet car sales didn't triple. Home sales didn't triple. Consumer spending didn't triple. In fact, they mostly dropped.
"So what happened to all that extra money? Where is it?
"It's parked on the sidelines of the economy, in the equivalent of economic parking garages, waiting to come out. Right now, the economic weather is still too bad to go out driving. With layoffs on the rise and sales on the decline, no one dares to spend what money they have. People are paying down theirdebts or putting their money into treasury bills.
"But when the sun comes out, so will their money -- and all at once....
"All those purchases [people] had deferred ... will come out at once. And too much money will be chasing too few goods, leading to huge inflation.
"The financial community clearly expects inflation. That is why long-term intrerest rates are now so much higher than short-term rates. Investors are pretty confident that inflation won't be a problem as long as the recession rages. There's more likely to be deflation. But once it ends, they can see inflation coming a mile away...." (Catastrophe, pp. 40-41)
The projected budget deficit for Barack Obama’s first year as President was $1.8 trillion, or 13 percent of the entire U.S. economy and 4 times the size of the Bush administration's last deficit. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that Obama’s deficits would add an additional $9.3 trillion to the national debt over the course of the next decade.
The "Employee Free Choice Act" and Unionization:
In February and March of 2009, President Obama spoke out in favor of the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). If enacted, this legislation would greatly expand unionization and, consequently, would increase political donations by Democrat-supporting unions. Specifically, the EFCA would authorize a federal arbitrator to render a final and binding resolution for any union negotiations that are not settled quickly, meaning that, as journalist Claire Berlinski puts it, “the federal government will gain the power to dictate the terms of a contract and to set wages, benefits, hours, and work rules.” In other words, a seemingly benign measure will vastly increase the government’s dominion over the private sector.
Moreover, the EFCA would make it easier for organizers to intimidate workers into forming new unions. As things stood without EFCA, employees could choose any of three methods for deciding whether or not to become unionized: (a) a secret ballot wherein they privately and anonymously indicated their preference; (b) a signature drive, where they publicly affirmed their wishes; or (c) a “card check” system, which unionized employees if a majority signed their names on union-authorization cards. The latter two options were far likelier than the first to expose employees to coercion or intimidation by union leaders or organizers. Under the existing system, an employer, if he or she suspected that union organizers were pressuring workers to unionize, could demand a government-supervised secret-ballot vote to settle the matter. The EFCA would eliminate that right.
Early Assessment of Obama's Presidency:
On March 16, 2009, the Heritage Foundation published this assessment of Obama’s young presidency, and the degree to which it was accelerating trends that had already begun during the Bush era:
“... Before the recession, federal spending totaled $24,000 per U.S. household. President Obama would hike it to $32,000 per household by 2019— an inflation-adjusted $8,000-per-household expansion of government….
“President Bush expanded the federal budget by a historic $700 billion through 2008. President Obama would add another $1 trillion.
“President Bush began a string of expensive financial bailouts. President Obama is accelerating that course….
“President Bush increased federal education spending 58 percent faster than inflation. President Obama would double it.
“President Bush became the first President to spend 3 percent of GDP on federal antipoverty programs. President Obama has already in creased this spending by 20 percent.
“President Bush tilted the income tax burden more toward upper-income taxpayers. President Obama would continue that trend.
“President Bush ran budget deficits averaging $300 billion annually. After harshly criticizing Bush's budget deficits, President Obama proposed a budget that would run deficits averaging $600 billion even after the economy recovers and the troops return home from Iraq.
“The President's [Obama’s] tax policy is the only sharp break in economic policy. President Bush reduced taxes by approximately $2 trillion; President Obama has proposed raising taxes by $1.4 trillion. In doing so, President Obama has rejected the most successful Bush fiscal policy. In the 18 months following the 2003 tax rate cuts, economic growth rates doubled, the stock market surged 32 percent, and the economy created 1.8 million jobs, followed by 5.2 million more jobs in the next 27 months. Not until the housing bubble burst several years later did the economy finally lose steam….
“The 2009 federal spending surge is nothing short of historic. The 25 percent spending increase represents the largest non-war government expansion since the New Deal. Domestic discretionary spending (including stimulus funds) has been hiked over 80 percent over 2008 levels. As a result, Washington will run a budget deficit of 12.3 percent of GDP, by far the largest since World War II….
“In 2007, Washington spent 20 percent of GDP. President Obama would permanently elevate federal spending to nearly 23 percent of GDP by 2019—a level reached only three times since the end of World War II. Yet even that may be an underestimate.... [It may actually be] 25 percent of GDP by 2019—with annual $1.2 trillion deficits.”
Appointment of Harold Koh to the State Department:
In March 2009, President Obama appointed Harold Koh as Legal Advisor to the U.S. State Department. Koh is an advocate of transnationalism, a concept that argues in favor of "global governance" as opposed to the constitutional sovereignty of independent nation-states. This perspective holds that the world's most challenging problems -- war, terrorism, "climate change," hunger, financial and social inequalities, diseases, human rights violations, racism, sexism, and xenophobia -- are too complex and deep-rooted for any single nation-state to address effectively on its own. The solution, says Koh, would be for all members of the international community to recognize a set of supranational laws and institutions whose authority overrides that of any particular government. Koh believes that such laws should "be internalized into the domestic law of even resistant nation-states."
Outreach to the Taliban:
Also in March 2009, the Obama administration announced that it was seeking to negotiate with Taliban “moderates,” with the aim of bringing the war in Afghanistan to a close. In reply, a Taliban spokesman told the English newspaper The Guardian: “They will not be able to find such people because we are united around the aim of fighting for freedom and bringing an Islamic system to Afghanistan.”
Obama Signs Major Environmental Legislation:
That same month, President Obama signed into law a host of far-reaching land and water conservation rules, to the delight of environmental leftists. A package of more than 160 separate bills, this legislation designated some 2 million acres in nine states as new wilderness, placing the territory off-limits to oil and gas drilling and other forms of development. The areas affected were mostly in California, followed by Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Oregon, Virginia, West Virginia, New Mexico and Michigan. In a written statement, the Sierra Club said, “This is the most important lands protection legislation in decades.”
Obama Appoints Green Jobs Czar, Van Jones:
March also saw President Obama appoint one of the most controversial members of his administration, Green Jobs Czar Van Jones. An avowed Communist revolutionary and an admirer of the Black Panthers, Jones had a long track-record as a committed Marxist-Leninist-Maoist who viewed police officers as the arch-enemies of black people, and who loathed capitalism for allegedly exploiting nonwhite minorities worldwide. He blamed U.S. policies for having provoked the 9/11 attacks; he believed that the Bush administration may have been complicit in carrying out those attacks; he was an avid defender of the convicted cop-killer and Marxist agitator Mumia Abu Jamal; and he viewed the United States as an inherently racist society with a history thoroughly steeped in evil and oppression. (Jones would step down from this post amid great controversy in early September 2009.)
Obama Appoints Science Czar John Holdren:
Another czar whom Obama appointed in March was Science Czar John Holdren. Viewing capitalism as an economic system that is inherently harmful to the natural environment, Holdren had previously called for “a massive campaign … to de-develop the United States” and other Western nations in order to conserve energy and facilitate growth in underdeveloped countries. “De-development,” he said, “means bringing our economic system into line with the realities of ecology and the world resource situation.”
In an effort to minimize environmental damage, Holdren prescribed “organized evasive action: population control, limitation of material consumption, redistribution of wealth, transitions to technologies that are environmentally and socially less disruptive than today’s, and movement toward some kind of world government.”
In the October 2008 issue of Scientific American, Holdren wrote: “The ongoing disruption of the Earth's climate by man-made greenhouse gases is already well beyond dangerous and is careening toward completely unmanageable.”
Obama's Takeover of Auto Manufacturers:
Early in Obama’s presidency, he declared that money from the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) that Congress had hurriedly passed in October 2008 (near the tail end of the Bush presidency) could be used to bail out failing automakers. To understand the implications of this move, a bit of background about TARP is in order.
TARP authorized the Treasury Secretary to purchase $700 billion worth of “troubled assets” from “any financial institution" – meaning “any institution, including, but not limited to, any bank, savings association, credit union, security broker or dealer, or insurance company.” According to the legislation, the term “troubled assets” could mean either of two things: (a) “residential or commercial mortgages and any securities, obligations, or other instruments that are based on or related to such mortgages, that in each case was originated or issued on or before March 14, 2008”; or (b) “any other financial instrument that the [Treasury] Secretary, after consultation with the … Federal Reserve …, determines the purchase of which is necessary to promote financial market stability.”
Part “b” of the definition authorized the Bush administration’s Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson to use TARP funds to purchase ownership stakes in banks (which are “financial institutions”) rather than the mortgage-backed securities he initially had intended to purchase.
The law did not, however, give the Treasury Secretary the authority to buy troubled assets from any entity other than “financial institutions.” Thus when President Bush asked Congress to approve a government bailout of automakers, Congress rejected the request because automakers were not "financial institutions." But the Obama administration subsequently ignored Congress’ ruling and proceeded to earmark TARP funds to bail out members of the auto industry. At the end of March 2009, Obama announced that the U.S. government was effectively taking over General Motors and Chrysler.
Obama's Violations of Protocol:
During the early weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama violated protocol on a number of occasions when dealing with foreign leaders. In February 2009, for example, the President returned the “Winston Churchill,” a priceless bust of the greatest Englishman of the 20th Century, to the British government. Britain had loaned the bust to the Bush administration and enthusiastically offered to permit Obama to keep it for the length of his term as well – an honor which the new President refused.
During a traditional gift-exchange ceremony between Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown in March 2009, the latter was stunned to receive from Obama nothing more than a set of 25 “classic” DVDs (which were not compatible with British DVD players), after having presented the President with items of great historical significance -- including the framed commission for the HMS Resolute, a vessel that came to symbolize Anglo-US peace when it was rescued from ice packs by Americans and given to Queen Victoria.
U.S. Joins the UN Human Rights Council:
In early April 2009, President Obama announced that the U.S. would jointhe United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), which, as of that point in time, had adopted more resolutions and decisions condemning Israel than all the other 191 UN member states combined. The UNHRC's membership included numerous states infamous for their human rights abuses -- such as Algeria, Angola, Azerbaijan, Cameroon, China, Cuba, Egypt, Pakistan, Qatar, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia.
Appointment of Rosa Brooks As Undersecretary for Defense Policy:
In April 2009, Obama appointed Rosa Brooks as Undersecretary for Defense Policy. In a September 2006 L.A. Times column, Brooks had referred to President Bush as America's "torturer-in-chief," and she suggested that Islamist terror attacks against the U.S. were manifestations of a backlash against America's foreign transgressions. "Today, the chickens are coming home to roost," she said.
Appointment of Dawn Johnsen to the Justice Department:
Also in April 2009, Obama named Dawn Johnsen as Assistant Attorney General to the Office of Legal Counsel. Johnsen views the United States generally as a nation rife with all manner of injustice, including racial discrimination against nonwhites. In an April 2008 article which she penned for Slate, Johnsen lamented that "the U.S. incarcerates more of its people -- and for longer periods -- than any other nation, bar none." Most disturbing, she said, was "the devastatingly disproportionate rates of imprisonment of racial minorities." This inequity, she explained, was in large measure a result of "how we treat drugs: the crack/cocaine disparity and beyond that, the fact that African Americans face disproportionately higher rates of arrest, prosecution, and conviction and disproportionately longer sentences."
In a 2008 article, Johnsen characterized the War on Terror as an ill-advised brainstorm that President Bush had undertaken impetuously as an overreaction to a single act of terrorism (9/11).
Obama Bows to Saudi King:
At the “Group of 20” (G-20) Summit meeting in London in April 2009, Obama made headlines when he gave a deep and prolonged bow from the waist to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. According to a Washington Times editorial, “The bow was an extraordinary protocol violation. Such an act is a traditional obeisance befitting a king’s subjects, not his peer. There is no precedent for U.S. presidents bowing to Saudi or any other royals.”
Obama Criticizes His Country and His Predecessor While Overseas:
At a news conference during the same (G-20) Summit, Obama tried to distinguish his own policies from those of the Bush administration by issuing a verbal slap at his predecessor in the White House: “I just think in a world that is as complex as it is, that it is very important for us to be able to forge partnerships as opposed to simply dictating solutions.”
In an April 3rd speech in Strasbourg, France, Obama criticized his home country by saying: “In America, there’s a failure to appreciate Europe‘s leading role in the world. Instead of celebrating your dynamic union and seeking to partner with you to meet common challenges, there have been times where America has shown arrogance and been dismissive, even derisive.”
In a speech to the Turkish Parliament three days later, Obama again made reference to past American transgressions: “The United States is still working through some of our own darker periods in our history. Facing the Washington Monument that I spoke of is a memorial of Abraham Lincoln, the man who freed those who were enslaved even after Washington led our Revolution. Our country still struggles with the legacies of slavery and segregation, the past treatment of Native Americans.”
In an op-ed that Obama penned in April 2009, he said: “Too often, the United States has not pursued and sustained engagement with our neighbors. We have been too easily distracted by other priorities, and have failed to see that our own progress is tied directly to progress throughout the Americas.”
Obama Fails to Defend America against Verbal Assaults by Daniel Ortega and Hugo Chavez:
When President Obama traveled to Tobago in April 2009 to meet with Latin American leaders, he sat through a 50-minute diatribe by Nicaragua’s Communist President Daniel Ortega, who charged that the U.S. had been guilty of expansionist aggression for at least a century. In particular, Noriega condemned President John F. Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs effort to overthrow the Cuban government of Fidel Castro. When asked afterward what he thought of Ortega’s speech, Obama replied, “It was 50 minutes long. That’s what I thought.”
When Obama himself later addressed those attending the conference, he did not defend his country against Ortega’s accusations. Instead, he took the occasion to rebuke America: “While the United States has done much to promote peace and prosperity in the hemisphere, we have at times been disengaged, and at times we sought to dictate our terms.” He also said, humorously: “I’m grateful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened [the Bay of Pigs] when I was three months old.”
It bears mention that Obama’s chronology was flawed. The Bay of Pigs invasion occurred in April 1961; Obama was not born until August of that year.
Also in Tobago, Venezuela’s Communist President Hugo Chavez gifted Obama a copy of “The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of Pillage of a Continent” -- a book-length diatribe by Eduardo Galeano that described the U.S. under President Bush as “a terrorist menace” and a “machine of killing peoples” that was voraciously “devouring the world resources … each day.” Obama accepted the book politely and later said, “I think it was, it was a nice gesture to give me a book. I’m a reader.”
(Three years earlier in Iran, Chavez had said: once, on previous occasions, "Let's save the human race, let's finish off the U.S. empire. This [task] must be assumed with strength by the majority of the peoples of the world." On other recent occasions, Chavez had called the U.S. "the greatest threat looming over our planet," a nation whose "hegemonic pretensions ... are placing at risk the very survival of the human species"; he had referred to President Bush as "the Devil," an "extremist"; an aspiring "world dictator"; and the "spokesman of imperialism"; he had called Americans "cynical, hypocritical, full of this imperial hypocrisy from the need they have to control everything"; and he had asserted that "[t]he government of the United States doesn't want peace," but rather "wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war.")
Obama Releases Highly Classified "Torture" Memos:
Also in April 2009, against the protestations of former CIA director Michael Hayden, President Obama released a number of legal memos detailing the types of enhanced-interrogation techniques that U.S. authorities had used on suspected terrorists in the past. According to the declassified memos, waterboarding had been used on both Khalid Shaikh Mohammed (mastermind of the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in Africa, the 2002 Bali bombings, the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl, and the 9/11 attacks) and Abu Zubaydah (al Qaeda’s operational planner).
In an interview, Hayden said that anyone who objected to the CIA’s use of such methods was avoiding a very “inconvenient truth”:
“Most of the people who oppose these techniques want to be able to say, ‘I don’t want my nation doing this,’ which is a purely honorable position. [But] the facts of the case are that the use of these techniques against these terrorists made us safer. It really did work. The president’s speech, President Bush in September of ’06, outlined how one detainee led to another, led to another, with the use of these techniques....
At the tactical level, what we have [now] described [with the release of the memos] for our enemies in the midst of a war are the outer limits that any American would ever go to in terms of interrogating an al-Qaeda terrorist. That’s very valuable information.”
“The release of the memoranda means that we are unlikely ever again to get valuable information from terror suspects, because now our enemies know the precise lengths to which our interrogators are willing to go to coerce information, and that those limits stop well short of actually causing the terror suspect injury.”
President Obama later stated that while the "enhanced interrogation" techniques had indeed produced valuable intelligence, the same information could have been obtained in other ways -- though he did not specify how.
Eventually, in May 2009, the Obama administration announced that it would not prosecute CIA operatives who had followed the advice outlined in the memos.
Obama Announces that His Administration Might Prosecute Bush Administration Officials Who Condoned Waterboarding:
On April 21, 2009, the Obama administration announced that it would entertain the idea of prosecuting Bush administration officials who had crafted legal opinions that led to the use of methods (such as waterboarding) that Obama considered to be torture. When questioned about his new policy, Obama said: “With respect to those who formulated those legal decisions, I would say that is going to be more of a decision for the Attorney General [Eric Holder] within the parameters of various laws and I don’t want to prejudge that.”
“Our government authorized the use of torture, approved of secret electronic surveillance against American citizens, secretly detained American citizens without due process of law, denied the writ of habeas corpus to hundreds of accused enemy combatants and authorized the use of procedures that violate both international law and the United States Constitution.... We owe the American people a reckoning.”
Obama Triples the Size of AmeriCorps:
In April 2009, President Obama signed a $6 billion piece of legislation to more than triple the size of the AmeriCorps program – from 75,000 people to 250,000 people — over an eight-year period. This was most significant because Americorps, which was launched by President Clinton in 1993, serves as a recruitment tool for the political Left. Open to all U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents age 17 and older, AmeriCorps assigns each of its members to work a 10- to 12-month stint with a nonprofit group, public agency, or faith-based organization that participates in the AmeriCorps program. These members are paid workers, not volunteers. Their stipends are financed by U.S. taxpayers, whose dollars are funneled annually through AmeriCorps and into the coffers of selected nonprofit organizations, which, in turn, use that money to pay the people who register for a term of service with them.
The recipients of these AmeriCorps grants tend to be organizations whose politics fall on the left side of the spectrum, and whose efforts are focused on such projects as environmental activism, social-welfare programs, legal-aid assistance, political activism, teacher-education programs, community-organizer training, public health initiatives, childcare services, and ethnic-identity politics. Among the more notable recipients of AmeriCorps funding is the National Council of La Raza.
The tripling in size of AmeriCorps would increase the federal civilian workforce by 13 percent, and would make AmeriCorps the 14th largest employer in the United States -- an employer perfectly positioned to promote Democrat agendas with taxpayer money. Perhaps most notably, AmeriCorps has longstanding ties to ACORN, the pro-Democrat, pro-Obama “community organization.”
Obama Again Threatens to Prosecute Former Bush Administration Officials:
In a May 21, 2009 speech in Washington, DC, President Obama again took up the theme of Bush administration excesses:
“Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. I believe that many of these decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people. But I also believe that all too often our government made decisions based on fear rather than foresight, that all too often our government trimmed facts and evidence to fit ideological predispositions.”
The Guantanamo Bay detention center, Obama added, “set back the moral authority that is America’s strongest currency in the world.”
Obama Administration Announces Plan to Try Islamic Terrorist in Civilian Criminal Court:
In May 2009, the Obama administration announced that Ahmed Ghailani -- who was indicted by a federal grand jury for the 1998 bombings (which killed 224 people, including 12 Americans) of two U.S. embassies in Africa -- would be transferred from the Guantanamo Bay detention center to New York City for trial. This would make Ghailani the first Guantanamo detainee brought to the U.S. and the first to face trial in a civilian criminal court. Said Attorney General Eric Holder:
"By prosecuting Ahmed Ghailani in federal court, we will ensure that he finally answers for his alleged role in the bombing of our embassies in Tanzania and Kenya.... This administration is committed to keeping the American people safe and upholding the rule of law, and by closing Guantanamo and bringing terrorists housed there to justice we will make our nation stronger and safer."
Obama Nominates Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court:
In May 2009, President Obama called for a repeal of the Dornan Amendment. In place since the late 1980s, that Amendment banned government (both federal and local) funding for abortions performed in Washington, DC. It allowed exceptions for abortions performed on women who had been impregnated via rape or incest, or whose lives would be endangered by continuing the pregnancies.
Obama was unambiguous about his desire to delineate a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens, so as to “bring people out of the shadows” and allow them “to fully embrace our values and become full members of our democracy.” He had been a featured speaker at the annual conventions of the National Council of La Raza, an open-borders group that lobbies for racial preferences, mass immigration, and amnesty for illegals. He had praised La Raza for “strengthening America,” and for “lifting up families and transforming communities across America.” “And for that,” he said, “I honor you, I congratulate you, I thank you.”
The U.S. Border Control (USBC), a nonprofit citizens’ lobby dedicated to ending illegal immigration and securing America’s borders, reports that Obama’s immigration-related votes during his tenure in the U.S. Senate were consistent with USBC’s preferences only 8 percent of the time. By USBC’s definition, Obama’s stance on immigration qualified him as an “open borders” advocate.
Dick Morris and Eileen McGann explain the underlying motivation for President Obama's effort to pass immigration reform:
"One key to Obama's plan for a permanent liberal majority is to enfranchise large numbers of people who came to this country illegally in order to win their loyalty at the polls.
"He knows that the political support of the [rapidly growing] Latino population is the jump ball that will determine political dominance for a generation.... He understands ... that Latinos are going to be an increasingly dominant force in our politics.
"And if Obama can put the 12 to 15 million immigrants who are here illegally on a path to lawful status and then to citizenship, he can increase the Latino voting presence materially -- while winning the loyalty of Hispanic-American voters." (Catastrophe, pp. 116-117)
Obama White House Fires Americorps' Inspector General:
In June 2009, the Obama White House firedAmeriCorps inspector general Gerald Walpin. The firing occurred in response to the fact that top executives inside the Corporation for National and Community Service -- the organization that runs AmeriCorps -- were angry about Walpin’s recent probe into the misuse of AmeriCorps funds. Specifically, Walpin had discovered that the “Saint Hope” program headed by Sacramento, California mayor Kevin Johnson -- a prominent supporter of President Obama -- had failed to use AmeriCorps federal grant money for its intended purposes; in some cases, the funds had been used to pay for such things as "driving [Johnson] to personal appointments, washing his car, and running personal errands."
Based upon these findings, Walpin recommended that Johnson and Saint Hope be barred from receiving any further federal grants. Moreover, Walpin had just completed an investigation into extensive misuse of AmeriCorps money by the organization’s largest program, located at the City University of New York. Walpin’s firing was in violation of a law that is supposed to protect the inspector general from influence by political appointees and the White House.
Praise from Hugo Chavez:
In a nationally televised, June 2, 2009 speech on the "curse" of capitalism, Venezuela’s Communist President Hugo Chavez made an approving reference to Obama's recent move to nationalize General Motors. In a related remark directed to Chavez's longtime friend and ally Fidel Castro, the Venezuelan President suggested that Obama's brand of socialism was perhaps more extreme than that of any other world leader. Said Chavez: "Hey, Obama has just nationalized nothing more and nothing less than General Motors. Comrade Obama! Fidel, careful or we are going to end up to his [Obama's] right."
Obama Goes to Cairo to Address the Muslim World:
In early June 2009, President Obama went to Cairo, Egypt to deliver a much-anticipated address to the Muslim world. During that speech, the President stated that "anti-Semitism in Europe culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust." By contrast, he did not mention the Arab anti-Semitism of the World War II era (and beyond), even though he was speaking in the very nation that had made a national hero of Grand Mufti Haj Muhammed Amin al-Husseini, who spent the war years in Berlin as Hitler's guest, helping the fuehrer facilitate the Final Solution. Nor did Obama once mention the word "terrorism."
Drawing a moral equivalence between the historical experiences of the Jews and Middle Eastern Arabs, Obama said: "The Jewish people were persecuted.… [A]nti-Semitism … culminated in an unprecedented Holocaust…. Six million Jews were killed…. On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland."
Obama also made reference to the “pain” of the “dislocation” experienced by some 600,000 Arabs during the 1948 war (which began when five Arab armies united to attack Israel in an effort to destroy the nascent Jewish state on the very day of its birth), but said nothing of the 800,000 Jewish refugees who were expelled from regions all over the Arab Middle East, where they and their ancestors had lived for hundreds, even thousands, of years.
“There has been a stalemate,” Obama elaborated. “Two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history…. It's easy to point fingers — for Palestinians to point to the displacement brought about by Israel's founding, and for Israelis to point to the constant hostility and attacks."
Professor, human-rights scholar, and Hudson Institute fellow Anne Bayefsky observed:
“Calling the Israeli-Arab conflict a ‘stalemate’ represents an abysmal failure to acknowledge historical reality. The modern state of Israel emerged after an internationally approved partition plan of November 1947 that would have created two states, one Jewish and one Arab; this plan was accepted by Jews and rejected by Arabs. One people has always been prepared to live in peace, and the other has chosen war in 1948 and 1956 and 1967 and 1973 and 1982, and renewed terrorism after its every loss.”
“Obama [in the Cairo speech] analogized Palestinian ‘daily humiliations …that come with occupation’ to the ‘humiliation of segregation’ of black slaves in America and the ‘moral authority’ of ‘people from South Africa.’ His Arab audience understood that the president of the United States had just given a nod to the single most potent defamation of the Jewish state today — the allegation that Israel is a racist, apartheid state.”
In the same speech, President Obama drew a moral equivalence between the problems afflicting females in Muslim societies – where women and girls can be stoned to death for adultery, or even for being victims of rape – and women in America: "Now let me be clear, issues of women's equality are by no means simply an issue for Islam…. [T]he struggle for women's equality continues in many aspects of American life."
In addition, Obama lamented that “in the United States, [restrictive] rules on charitable giving have made it harder for Muslims to fulfill their religious obligation.” With that assertion, Obama gave the false impression that such limitations were rooted in religious discrimination and prejudice, when in fact the only restriction was against donations to charities (such as the Holy Land Foundation for Relief and Development) that served as fronts for terrorist groups.
Obama proceeded to pontificate about the alleged injustice inherent in the fact that "some countries have weapons [of mass destruction] that others do not," and he proclaimed that "any nation, including Iran, should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." As conservative author and political analyst Ann Coulter wryly observed vis à vis Obama’s assertion about “the right to peaceful nuclear power”: “Wait — how about us? If a fanatical holocaust denier with messianic delusions can have nuclear power, can't the U.S. at least build one nuclear power plant every 30 years?”
Obama’s Cairo speech was rife with historical inaccuracies. For example, he credited Muslims with such inventions as algebra, the compass, and the pen -- but these were actually developed by the ancient Babylonians and the Chinese.
Obama also told his Cairo audience that while 9/11 was a horrific crime, he understood that Muslims were legitimately embittered about the colonization they had endured in past ages. But in point of fact, America never colonized the Muslim world; Britain and France did. And as military historian and classics professor Victor Davis Hanson noted:
“[T]he great colonizers of the Middle East were the Ottoman Muslims, who for centuries ruled with an iron fist. The 20th-century movements of Baathism, Pan-Arabism and Nasserism — largely homegrown totalitarian ideologies — did far more damage over the last half-century to the Middle East than the legacy of European colonialism.”
“Obama also claimed that ‘Islam … carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe's Renaissance and Enlightenment.’ While medieval Islamic culture was impressive and ensured the survival of a few classical texts — often through the agency of Arabic-speaking Christians — it had little to do with the European rediscovery of classical Greek and Latin values. Europeans, Chinese and Hindus, not Muslims, invented most of the breakthroughs Obama credited to Islamic innovation.
“Much of the Renaissance, in fact, was more predicated on the centuries-long flight of Greek-speaking Byzantine scholars from Constantinople to Western Europe to escape the aggression of Islamic Turks. Many romantic thinkers of the Enlightenment sought to extend freedom to oppressed subjects of Muslim fundamentalist rule in eastern and southern Europe.
“Obama also insisted that ‘Islam has a proud tradition of tolerance. We see it in the history of Andalusia and Cordoba during the Inquisition.’ Yet the Spanish Inquisition began in 1478; by then Cordoba had long been re-conquered by Spanish Christians, and was governed as a staunchly Christian city.
“In reference to Iraq, President Obama promised that ‘no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.’ Is he unaware of how the United States imposed democracies after World War II?
“After the defeat of German Nazism, Italian fascism and Japanese militarism, Americans — by force — insisted that these nations adopt democratic governments, for their own sakes and the world's. Indeed, it is hard to think of too many democratic governments that did not emerge from violence — including our own….
“This list of distortions could be easily expanded. President Obama, in elegant fashion, may casually invoke the means of politically correct history for the higher ends of contemporary reconciliation. But it is a bad habit. Eloquence and good intentions exempt no one from the truth of the past — President Obama included.”
Miranda Warnings for Suspected Terrorists:
In June 2009 the Obama Justice Department, demonstrating its preference to treat terrorism as a law-enforcement issue rather than as a military matter, ordered the FBI to give Miranda warnings to enemy combatants captured at war in Afghanistan.
The Controversial Release of Four Guantanamo Detainees:
That same month, the Obama administration outraged the British government by relocating four Uighurs (members of a Turkic ethnic group hailing from eastern and central Asia) who had been detained at Guantanamo Bay for the previous seven years, to Bermuda, Britain’s oldest dependency. The Obama administration had cut a deal with the Bermudan government, without advising the British that it was going to do so.
Also in June 2009, President Obama submitted to Congress a defense budget for fiscal year 2010 that called for cutting $1.4 billion from the Missile Defense Agency's budget; limiting the number of F-22 Fighter Jets to 186, well below the 243 that Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz had recently recommended as a bare-bones minimum; and canceling the Army's Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, despite the fact that it was the only program through which the Army could replace most of its tracked vehicles -- many of which dated back to the 1970s. In Obama’s budget overall, fully 82 percent of all discretionary program terminations targeted military programs, and 55 percent of all budget cuts were for military-related items.
The cuts to missile defense were particularly significant because they exposed Poland and the Czech Republic, two U.S. allies that had taken a major political risk by supporting American plans to deploy missile defense systems on their land, to the wrath and potential reprisals of Russia, which strongly opposed the deployment of such systems in Eastern Europe.
Support from Jodie Evans of Code Pink:
Jodie Evans is a radical activist and Democratic fundraiser best known as the co-founder -- along with Diane Wilson, Global Exchange’s Medea Benjamin, and a Wiccan calling herself Starhawk -- of Code Pink for Peace. She was a big fundraiser for Obama during his presidential campaign, and has met with Obama on numerous occasions. On June 19, 2009, Evans visited the White House and met with Buffy Wicks, the deputy of Obama adviser Valerie Jarrett. That same month, Evans visited Obama at the White House residence.
Strengthening the "Community Reinvestment Act":
In the latter part of June 2009, the Obama administration sought to strengthen the Carter-era Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), a law that had long forced lenders, under threat of severe sanctions, to make subprime loans to high-risk borrowers who failed to meet traditional loan criteria – and which thus contributed to the economic crisis of 2008-09. The administration laid out its position in a Treasury Department white paper, “Financial Regulatory Reform: A New Foundation,” which called for the creation of a new super-regulator, the Consumer Financial Protection Agency (CFPA).
In July 2009, President Obama and the Democrats began to push aggressively for healthcare reform, seeking to institute a “public option” for a government-run health care plan that would quickly drive all private insurers out of business. As justification for this measure, Obama cited the “crisis” of 46 million Americans allegedly unable to obtain or afford health insurance.
But as Sally Pipes explains in her book, The Top Ten Myths of American Health Care, the "46 million" figure cited by Obama was entirely inaccurate. First, about 14 million of those uninsured were low-income Americans who were fully eligible for government-assistance programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and SCHIP—but who simply had never gotten around to enrolling in those programs. They could visit a doctor, clinic, or hospital anywhere in the country and enroll in the programs, on the spot, and receive treatment. Those 14 million people could not, by any reasonable standard, be considered “uninsured.”
Another 10 million of the uninsured were not U.S. citizens; many of them were illegal immigrants.
And some 28 million of the 46 million uninsured earned more than $50,000 annually – well above the median income nationally. Many of those 28 million were healthy young adults who were not insured by their employers and who chose not to buy insurance on their own because they preferred to use their money for other things. Indeed, Americans aged 19 to 29 represented one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the uninsured population.
The demographic groups cited in the paragraphs above were not mutually exclusive; there was some overlap. And indeed some people did “fall through the cracks.” These were mostly people who earned less than $50,000 per year but too much to qualify for government assistance. There were approximately 8 million of these chronically uninsured, and they were indeed in need of assistance.
In other nations with socialized medicine, the healthcare systems are beset by serious problems such as rationing of care and medicines; the unavailability of cutting-edge drugs; long waiting lists; and the existence of a bureaucracy determining who merits treatment and who does not. As the Heritage Foundation explains, a socialized-medicine model would involve the creation of a Federal Health Board to “make key health care decisions, such as determining the cost-effectiveness of treatments and choosing which services public insurance programs would cover.” To decide which medical procedures should (and should not) be covered under the government plan, this Board would calculate the number of “Quality Adjusted Life Years” that those procedures could be expected to gain for patients. Older patients would necessarily be at a disadvantage, because their gains in this regard would usually be less than the gains that a younger person could be projected to make.
When the American public began to express, in ever increasing numbers, its unwillingness to adopt a government-run, “single-payer” system of socialized medicine, President Obama sought to disavow that he had ever even contemplated establishing such a system. At an August 2009 town hall gathering in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, he said:
“I have not said that I was a single-payer supporter because, frankly, we historically have had a employer-based system in this country with private insurers, and for us to transition to a system like that I believe would be too disruptive…. So what would end up happening would be, a lot of people who currently have employer-based health care would suddenly find themselves dropped, and they would have to go into an entirely new system that had not been fully set up yet and I would be concerned about the potential destructiveness of that kind of transition. All right? So I'm not promoting a single-payer plan.”
But Obama's claim was untrue. In a 2003 speech at an AFL-CIO event, Obama had stated emphatically: “I happen to be a proponent of single-payer, universal health care plan.”
In 2007, when he was a U.S. Senator running for President, Obama had lamented that from a political standpoint, a single-payer system might be impossible to pass in the immediate future, while clearly indicating that his preference was for a single-payer system. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to eliminate employer coverage immediately,” he said. “There’s going to be potentially some transition process. I can envision a decade out, or 15 years out, or 20 years out.”
In the summer of 2008, when asked by a campaign audience about single-payer healthcare, Obama had said: "If I were designing a system from scratch, I would probably go ahead with a single-payer [government-run] system ... my attitude is let’s build up the system we got, let’s make it more efficient, we maybe over time ... decide that there are other ways for us to provide care more effectively."
Even in June 2009, he had told the American Medical Association: "I'll be honest, there are countries where a single-payer system works pretty well."
Unemployment Continues to Rise:
When Barack Obama first advocated the stimulus bill early in his presidency, the unemployment rate in the U.S. was 7.5 percent. At the time, Obama, stressing the urgency of the bill in terms of how it would rescue the American economy, said that the proposed legislation would prevent unemployment from ever reaching 8 percent; without the bill, he warned, the jobless rate could go as high as 9 percent for a prolonged period of time. By mid-July 2009, the unemployment rate nationwide stood at 9.7 percent, a 26-year high. But even this figure was misleadingly low because it did not include people who had given up looking for jobs, or who had taken part-time work in desperation, even though they needed full-time employment. When those additional people were factored into the equation, the unemployment rate was actually 16.5 percent and rising.
Obama Appoints Mark Lloyd as "Diversity Chief" of the FCC:
In July 2009, President Obama appointed Mark Lloyd as Diversity Chief of the Federal Communications Commission. A great admirer of Venezuela's Communist President Hugo Chavez, Lloyd planned to use “localism” and “diversity” as justifications by which to greatly diminish, if not to eliminate altogether, the influence of conservative talk radio. Lloyd based his strategy heavily on the tactics of Saul Alinsky, the late community organizer who, in the middle decades of the 20th century, painstakingly laid out a detailed blueprint for revolutionary social change by stealth means.
The Henry Louis Gates Affair:
In the summer of 2009, President Obama became embroiled in a controversy with strong racial overtones. On July 16, Cambridge, Massachusetts police sergeant James Crowley responded to a phone call from a local woman who reported that two males -- she did not specify their race -- seemed to be trying to break into her neighbor’s house. The woman did not realize that one of the men was Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates (an African American), who was leasing that residence from Harvard; the other man (also black) was Gates’ driver. The two were having trouble gaining access to the house because the lock on the front door was jammed.
When Sergeant Crowley (who is white) arrived at the scene, Professor Gates reacted angrily and immediately accused him of racism. All attempts by Crowley (and by two fellow officers -- one black and one Hispanic -- who arrived at the scene shortly thereafter) to defuse the situation proved futile. Gates grew increasingly belligerent and ultimately was handcuffed and taken into custody.
When President Obama was later asked to comment on the incident, he acknowledged that he did not know “all the facts” about “what role race played,” but nonetheless insisted that it was “fair to say” that the Cambridge police had “acted stupidly” in arresting Gates. He further said that the arrest played into what he called the “long history in this country of African-Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.”
On previous occasions, Obama had: lamented the alleged racial “disparities in criminal sentencing”; asserted that blacks and whites “receive very different sentences … for the same crime”; and complained that “certain sentences … are based less on the kind of crime you commit than on what you look like and where you come from.” (For a review of the empirical data regarding Obama’s claims, click here.)
Attorney General Holder Announces that a Criminal Probe of Former CIA Interrogators Is Imminent:
In late August 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that he would soon launch a criminal probe of former CIA interrogators who, during the Bush administration, may have used techniques such as waterboarding, which Obama had recently banned. Former Vice President Dick Cheney reacted to Holder’s announcement as follows:
“It’s an outrageous political act that will do great damage, long-term, to our capacity to be able to have people take on difficult jobs, make difficult decisions, without having to worry about what the next administration is going to say….
“In the intelligence arena, we ask those people to do some very difficult things, sometimes, that put their own lives at risk. They do so at the direction of the President. In this case, we had specific legal authority from the Justice Department. And if they are now going to be subject to being investigated and prosecuted by the next administration, nobody’s going to sign up for those kinds of missions.
“It’s a very, very devastating, I think, effect that it has on morale inside the intelligence community.”
On September 18, 2009, seven former CIA chiefs — John Deutch, Porter Goss, Michael Hayden, James R. Schlesinger, George Tenet, William Webster and R. James Woolsey — sent a letter to President Obama urging him to call off the investigation of the agency's interrogation methods, on grounds that it would weaken the government's intelligence-gathering abilities and deter other nations from working with the United States. Said the letter:
"Success in intelligence often depends on surprise and deception and on creating uncertainty in the mind of an enemy. But, the administration must be mindful that public disclosure about past intelligence operations can only help al Qaeda elude U.S. intelligence and plan future operations….
"Those men and women who undertake difficult intelligence assignments in the aftermath of an attack such as Sept. 11 must believe there is permanence in the legal rules that govern their actions. They must be free, as the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, Sen. Lieberman, has put it: 'to do their dangerous and critical jobs without worrying that years from now a future attorney general will authorize a criminal investigation of them for behavior that a previous attorney general concluded was authorized and legal."
Obama responded by saying that he had no intention of calling off the investigation, on grounds that no one was above the law. "Ultimately," he said, "the law is the law and we don't go around picking and choosing how we approach it."
Obama Funds Brazilian Oil-Drilling Venture:
In late August 2009, President Obama agreed to lend $2 billion to Brazil’s quasi-public national oil company, Petrobras, to fund its exploration and drilling of 270 sites in the Gulf of Mexico, one of the richest oil fields in the world (where environmentalist objections had historically thwarted any drilling proposals by U.S. companies).
Petrobras has been run since 2005 by José Sergio Gabrielli, a firebrand socialist member of Brazil’s leftist Workers’ Party. Brazil’s socialist government holds 40 percent of Petrobras’ shares of stock. The Communist Chinese government – which was guaranteed a supply of 200,000 barrels of oil per day for ten years by the Brazilians in exchange for a $10 billion loan earlier in 2009 – also owns a significant stake in Petrobras. Petrobras’ largest individual shareholder, by far, is the leftist billionaire (and close Obama ally) George Soros, whose hedge fund had dramatically increased its holdings in Petrobras just prior to Obama’s loan announcement.
Brazil was not the only country preparing to drill for oil in the Gulf region. China, India, Norway, Spain, and Russia, to name a few, had also signed agreements with countries bordering the Gulf, such as Cuba and the Bahamas, authorizing them to initiate exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico.
Obama Imposes Tariff on Chinese Tire Imports:
In September 2009 President Obama, in response to a request by the United Steel Workers (USW) union, imposed a three-year tariff (starting at 35 percent, then decreasing to 30 percent and 25 percent in the second and third years) on Chinese-manufactured tires. American tire plants had been in decline (with 5,000 lost jobs) in recent years, while Chinese tire imports had tripled during the same period (from 2004 to 2008).
The Chinese government reacted swiftly and angrily to Obama’s move. Chinese Minister of Commerce Chen Deming called the President’s decision “a grave act of trade protectionism” that “sends the wrong signal to the world,” “violate[s] WTO rules,” and “contravenes commitments the U.S. government made at the G-20 financial summit.” Soon thereafter, China’s Commerce Ministry website announced that it would retaliate by launching an investigation into "unfair trade practices" by the United States, including alleged U.S. dumping of automobile and poultry products.
Obama Seeks to Expand the Community Reinvestment Act, Which Was Largely Responsible for the Housing-Market Crisis of 2008:
In September 2009, the Obama White House and Congress sought to expand the Community Reinvestment Act, which essentially compelled banks to make mortgage loans to financially underqualified minority borrowers, lest those banks' efforts to merge or expand be blocked by community activist groups such as ACORN or unions like the Service Employees International Union.
Obama Kills Plan to Deploy Missile-Defense in Eastern Europe:
On September 17, 2009 -- the 70th anniversary of the day the Soviet Union invaded Poland in 1939 -- the Obama administration, bowing to intense pressure from Russia, abandoned proposals (forged during the Bush administration) to set up a missile defense shield in Europe. CNS News reported:
"The move will resonate in Poland and the Czech Republic, where governments weathered domestic unease and Russian fury by signing agreements with the Bush administration in 2008 to host elements of the system – ten missile interceptors and a radar tracking station respectively.
"Supporters of the plans in the two former Warsaw Pact states saw it as a way to strengthen ties with Washington while countering Moscow’s regional influence, viewed as increasingly threatening after last summer’s Russian invasion of Georgia....
"The ballistic missile defense (BMD) umbrella was aimed at protecting the U.S. and its allies against potential aggression from Iran, which is pursuing both a long-range missile capability and pushing ahead with a nuclear program that the West suspects is a cover to develop nuclear weapons. But the Kremlin characterized the BMD plan as a threat to Russian security and threatened retaliatory steps.
"The Obama administration, which pledged to 'reset' its relationship with Moscow, launched a review of the proposals earlier this year, focusing on its cost and operational effectiveness.
"President Obama confirmed in March that a letter he had written to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev explained that 'obviously, to the extent that we are lessening Iran’s commitment to nuclear weapons, that reduces the pressure for, or the need for, a missile defense system.'
"The Wall Street Journal report cited current and former U.S. officials as saying the decision to shelve the BMD plan would be based 'on a determination that Iran’s long-range missile program has not progressed as rapidly as previously estimated, reducing the threat to the continental U.S. and major European capitals.'"
However, on the very day that Obama called off the missile defense deployment, senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency (the world's top atomic watchdog group) concluded, in a secret report seen by The Associated Press, that "Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead."
Heritage Foundation scholar Nile Gardner called the move "an appalling surrender to Russian demands, and the shameful appeasement of an increasingly aggressive regime that is openly flexing its muscle in an effort to intimidate ex-members of the Warsaw Pact."
Lech Walesa, the former Solidarity leader and Polish ex-president, said: "I can see what kind of policy the Obama administration is pursuing toward this part of Europe. The way we are being approached needs to change."
Former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek, whose government signed treaties with the Bush administration to build the system, said: "The Americans are not interested in this territory as they were before. It’s bad news for the Czech Republic."
Poland’s National Security Office said the change was a "defeat primarily of American long-distance thinking about the situation in this part of Europe."
The Russians, by contrast, loved the decision. President Medvedev called it a “responsible move.”
According to political analyst and retired military officer Ralph Peters, "Obama got nothing in return. No Russian commitments on Iran's nuclear program. No sovereignty guarantees for Georgia. No restrictions on arms sales to Venezuela."
The Obama administration said it had not caved to Russian pressure, but that it merely had elected to deploy a naval-based missile defense option instead, calling it a "smarter," "swifter," "stronger," and "cost-effective" alternative that was "adaptable" to an evolving security environment. But as national security expert Frank Gaffney pointed out, the naval-based systems are designed to combat "relatively short-range missiles," not long-range missiles.
Obama Calls for the Legalization of Illegal Aliens, to Make Them Eligible for Health Care:
On September 18, 2009, The Washington Timesreported:
"President Obama said this week that his health care plan won't cover illegal immigrants, but argued that's all the more reason to legalize them and ensure they eventually do get coverage.
"He also staked out a position that anyone in the country legally should be covered -- a major break with the 1996 welfare reform bill, which limited most federal public assistance programs only to citizens and longtime immigrants.
"'Even though I do not believe we can extend coverage to those who are here illegally, I also don't simply believe we can simply ignore the fact that our immigration system is broken,' Mr. Obama said Wednesday evening in a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute. 'That's why I strongly support making sure folks who are here legally have access to affordable, quality health insurance under this plan, just like everybody else.'
"Mr. Obama added, 'If anything, this debate underscores the necessity of passing comprehensive immigration reform and resolving the issue of 12 million undocumented people living and working in this country once and for all.'"
Obama Distances Himself from ACORN:
In September 2009, broadcaster Glenn Beck and the website BigGovernment.com went public with a series of undercover videos showing ACORN employees in several cities agreeing to abet plans for money laundering, tax fraud, human trafficking, and the establishment of an underage prostitution ring. As a result of this scandal, both houses of Congress quickly voted overwhelmingly to cut off all federal funding for ACORN. In a televised interview on September 20, newsman George Stephanopoulos had the following exchange with Obama:
STEPHANOPOULOS: How about the funding for ACORN?
OBAMA: You know, if — frankly, it’s not really something I’ve followed closely. I didn’t even know that ACORN was getting a whole lot of federal money.
STEPHANOPOULOS: Both the Senate and the House have voted to cut it off.
OBAMA: You know, what I know is, is that what I saw on that video was certainly inappropriate and deserves to be investigated.
STEPHANOPOULOS: So you’re not committing to — to cut off the federal funding?
OBAMA: George, this is not the biggest issue facing the country. It’s not something I’m paying a lot of attention to.
Obama Wavers on Whether to Send More Troops to Afghanistan:
On September 20, 2009, a report to President Obama from U.S. and NATO General Stanley McChrystal, the commander of forces on the ground in Afghanistan, was leaked to The Washington Post. That report, which had been sent to Obama a month earlier, stated that a "failure to gain the initiative [in Afghanistan] and reverse insurgent momentum in the near term … risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible." Without an additional 30,000 to 40,000 troops, said McChrystal, "we will be defeated in Afghanistan." Added the General:
"Failure to provide adequate resources also risks a longer conflict, greater casualties, higher overall costs, and ultimately, a critical loss of political support. Any of these risks, in turn, are likely to result in mission failure."
After the leak, President Obama, who had not yet replied to McChrystal's letter, said that while he was "considering" the General's assessment of the situation, he would be "very deliberate" in deciding whether to send more troops to Afghanistan because "my determination is to get this right."
Obama Accepts propaganda package from Jodie Evans of Code Pink:
At a San Francisco fundraiser in the fall of 2009, the radical activist and Obama supporter Jodie Evans gave the President a propaganda package compiled from her recent trip to Afghanistan, where she had met with the Taliban. The next day, Evans was given a briefing by Obama's deputy chief of staff.
Obama Demonizes and Snubs Fox News:
On September 20, 2009, President Obama gave interviews to five separate Sunday-morning TV news programs but refused to appear on Fox News Sunday (hosted by Chris Wallace). At the time, the White House explained that the snub was payback for a previous decision by the Fox Broadcast Network not to air an Obama prime-time television appearance. But by early October, White House communications director Anita Dunn had changed the story, attributing the snub to Fox News Channel's allegedly negative coverage of the administration.
"Is this why he [Obama] did not appear?" Dunn said. "The answer is yes." Added Dunn:
"What I think is fair to say about Fox -- and certainly it's the way we view it -- is that it really is more a wing of the Republican Party. They take their talking points, put them on the air; take their opposition research, put them on the air. And that's fine. But let's not pretend they're a news network the way CNN is."
At the time when Dunn made these remarks, the White House had been using its government blog to directly attack what it called "Fox lies." Around the same period, the White House informed Fox News that Obama would grant no interviews to the channel until at least 2010.
Fox News senior vice president Michael Clemente, likening his network to a newspaper with separate sections devoted to straight news and commentary, charged that White House officials were intentionally conflating opinion-show hosts like Glenn Beck and Sean Hannity with news reporters like Major Garrett. Said Clemente:
"It's astounding the White House cannot distinguish between news and opinion programming. It seems self-serving on their part."
In mid-October 2009, Fox News reported the following:
"[A] study by the Pew Research Center showed that 40 percent of Fox News stories on Obama in the last six weeks of the [2008 presidential] campaign were negative. Similarly, 40 percent of Fox News' stories on Obama's Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, were negative.
"On CNN, by contrast, there was a 22-point disparity in the percentage of negative stories on Obama (39 percent) and McCain (61 percent). The disparity was even greater at MSNBC, according to Pew, where just 14 percent of Obama stories were negative, compared to a whopping 73 percent of McCain stories -- a spread of 59 points.
In the wake of the President's aforementioned snub, Fox News reporter Chris Wallace characterized Obama White House officials as "the biggest bunch of crybabies I have dealt with in my 30 years in Washington."
Speech to the United Nations General Assembly (Obama Criticizes Bush; Advocates U.S. Disarmament; Warns of "Climate Change"; Demands End of Israeli Settlements; Calls for Massive Wealth Redistribution):
On September 23, 2009, President Obama addressed the UN General Assembly for the first time. In that speech, he made an effort to differentiate his own presidency and policies from those of his predecessor, George W. Bush:
"I took office at a time when many around the world had come to view America with skepticism and distrust. A part of this was due to misperceptions and misinformation about my country. Part of this was due to opposition to specific policies and a belief on, on certain critical issues, America had acted unilaterally without regard for the interests of others."
"On my first day in office, I prohibited without expectation or equivocation the use of torture by the United States of America."
"I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed."
"Each country will pursue a path rooted in the culture of its people and in its past traditions, and I admit that America has, too often, been selective in its promotion of democracy."
Obama also announced his desire for worldwide nuclear disarmament:
"I have outlined a comprehensive agenda to seek the goal of a world without nuclear weapons. In Moscow, the United States and Russia announced that we would pursue substantial reductions in our strategic warheads and launchers."
"We must stop the spread of nuclear weapons and seek the goal of a world without them…. America intends to keep our end of the bargain. We will pursue a new agreement with Russia to substantially reduce our strategic warheads and launchers. We will move forward with ratification of the test ban treaty and work with others to bring the treaty into force so that nuclear testing is permanently prohibited."
"We will complete a Nuclear Posture Review that opens the door to deeper cuts and reduces the role of nuclear weapons. And we will call upon countries to begin negotiations in January on a treaty to end the production of fissile material for weapons."
The President expressed his view that "climate change" was an issue of monumental importance. In the process, he again took a subtle rhetorical jab at the Bush administration, which he dubbed "a bystander" that had "dragged its feet" on climate-change issues:
"To confront climate change, we have invested $80 billion in clean energy. We have substantially increased our fuel-efficiency standards. We have provided new incentives for conservation, launched an energy partnership across the Americas, and moved from a bystander to a leader in international climate negotiations."
"The danger posed by climate change cannot be denied. Our responsibility to meet it must not be deferred. If we continue down our current course, every member of this assembly will see irreversible changes within their borders."
"Development will be devastated by drought and famine. Land that human beings have lived on for millennia will disappear. Future generations will look back and wonder why we refused to act, why we failed to pass on -- why we failed to pass on an environment that was worthy of our inheritance."
"And that is why the days when America dragged its feet on this issue are over. We will move forward with investments to transform our energy economy, while providing incentives to make clean energy the profitable kind of energy."
Regarding the Mideast conflict, the President drew a moral equivalence between suffering of the Israelis and the Palestinians. Most notably, he rejected the legitimacy of Israeli "settlements" and he referred to Israel as an "occup[ier]" of Palestinian territory:
"We continue to call on Palestinians to end incitement against Israel. And we continue to emphasize that America does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements."
"The time has come to relaunch negotiations without preconditions that address the permanent status issues, security for Israelis and Palestinians, borders, refugees and Jerusalem. The goal is clear: Two states living side by side in peace and security; a Jewish state of Israel with true security for all Israelis and a viable, independent Palestinian state with contiguous territory that ends the occupation that began in 1967 and realizes the potential of the Palestinian people."
"The United States does Israel no favors when we fail to couple an unwavering commitment to its security with an insistence that Israel respect the legitimate claims and rights of the Palestinians. And nations within this body do the Palestinians no favors when they choose vitriolic attacks against Israel over constructive willingness to recognize Israel's legitimacy and its right to exist in peace and security."
"We must remember that the greatest price of this conflict is not paid by us. It's not paid by politicians. It's paid by the Israeli girl in Sderot who closes her eyes in fear that a rocket will take her life in the middle of the night. It's paid for by the Palestinian boy in Gaza who has no clean water and no country to call his own."
Obama advocated "a global economy that advances opportunity for all people." His vision for this consisted chiefly of huge transfers of wealth from the U.S. to other nations, the ultimate goal being -- by means of redistribution on a grand scale -- "the eradication of extreme poverty in our time."
Obama Lobbies for Chicago Olympics:
In early October 2009, Obama flew to Copenhagen to personally lobby the International Olympic Committee to bring the 2016 Summer Olympics to Chicago. His bid was unsuccessful; Chicago was eliminated from consideration in the first round of voting.
Obama Declines to Meet with the Dalai Lama:
In October 2009 Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, visited Washington, DC but did not meet with President Obama – marking the first time in 18 years that he had come to the U.S. and failed to have an audience with a sitting President. The decision to forego a meeting was Obama’s, who was abiding by the sternly worded wishes of China’s Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu. Jiang had made it clear six months earlier (when the Dalai Lama had first announced his plans to travel to the United States) that the Chinese, who invaded Tibet and have ruled it with an iron fist since 1950, “firmly oppose the Dalai’s engagement in separatist activities in any country under whatever capacity and under whatever name.” “We have made representations to the United States urging the U.S. to honor its commitments and not allow the Dalai to engage in separatist activities in the United States,” Jiang Yu added.
Tibet’s prime minister-in-exile, Samdhong Rinpoche, lamented that Obama's decision was apparently made as a result of "economic interests."
Congressman Frank Wolf (R-Virginia), an outspoken critic of China’s human rights record, wondered:
“What would a Buddhist monk or Buddhist nun in Drapchi prison think when he heard that President Obama, the president of the United States, is not going to meet with the Dalai Lama? It’s against the law [in China] to even have a picture of the Dalai Lama. I can almost hear the words of the Chinese guards saying to them that nobody cares about you in the United States.”
Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize:
On October 9, 2009, the Norwegian Nobel Committee honored President Obama with its Peace Prize, for what it called "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples"; his "vision of and work for a world without nuclear weapons"; and his efforts to create a "new climate" of "multilateral diplomacy" in international relations. All Nobel Peace Prize nominations must be submitted by February 1 of the year awarded, meaning that Obama was nominated within his first twelve days in office.
Obama Fails to Get Russian Support for Sanctions against Iran:
In mid-October 2009 President Obama dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Moscow to discuss the possibility of using economic sanctions to dissuade Iran from proceeding with its quest to develop nuclear weapons. The administration hoped that, in light of its decision a few weeks earlier to cancel plans to deploy missile defense systems in Poland and Czechoslovakia, the Russians might agree to pressure the Tehran regime with the threat of sanctions. Political analyst Charles Krauthammer explains what happened:
"And what's come from Obama's single most dramatic foreign policy stroke -- the sudden abrogation of missile defense arrangements with Poland and the Czech Republic that Russia had virulently opposed? For the East Europeans it was a crushing blow, a gratuitous restoration of Russian influence over a region that thought it had regained independence under American protection.
"But maybe not gratuitous. Surely we got something in return for selling out our friends. Some brilliant secret trade-off to get strong Russian support for stopping Iran from going nuclear before it's too late? Just wait and see, said administration officials, who then gleefully played up an oblique statement by President Dmitry Medvedev a week later as vindication of the missile defense betrayal.
"The Russian statement was so equivocal that such a claim seemed a ridiculous stretch at the time. Well, Clinton went to Moscow this week to nail down the deal. What did she get?
"Russia Not Budging On Iran Sanctions: Clinton Unable to Sway Counterpart." Such was The Washington Post headline's succinct summary of the debacle.
"Note how thoroughly Clinton was rebuffed. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov declared that 'threats, sanctions and threats of pressure' are 'counterproductive.' Note: It's not just sanctions that are worse than useless, but even the threat of mere pressure.
"It gets worse. Having failed to get any movement from the Russians, Clinton herself moved -- to accommodate the Russian position! Sanctions? What sanctions? 'We are not at that point yet,' she averred. 'That is not a conclusion we have reached ... it is our preference that Iran work with the international community.'
"But wait a minute. Didn't Obama say in July that Iran had to show compliance by the G-20 summit in late September? And when that deadline passed, did he not then warn Iran that it would face 'sanctions that have bite' and that it would have to take 'a new course or face consequences'?
"Gone with the wind. It's the U.S. that's now retreating from its already flimsy position of just three weeks ago. We're not doing sanctions now, you see. We're back to engagement. Just as the Russians suggest.
"Henry Kissinger once said that the main job of Anatoly Dobrynin, the perennial Soviet ambassador to Washington, was to tell the Kremlin leadership that whenever they received a proposal from the United States that appeared disadvantageous to the United States, not to assume it was a trick.
"No need for a Dobrynin today. The Russian leadership, hardly believing its luck, needs no interpreter to understand that when the Obama team clownishly rushes in bearing gifts and 'reset' buttons, there is nothing ulterior, diabolical, clever or even serious behind it. It is amateurishness, wrapped in naivete, inside credulity."
While Mrs. Clinton was in Moscow, Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin made no effort to meet with her. Instead he traveled to Beijing, where he told reporters: "If a compromise [with Iran] is not found, and the discussions end in fiasco, then we will see [about imposing sanctions]. And if now, before making any steps [toward holding talks] we start announcing sanctions, then we won't be creating favorable conditions for talks to end positively. This is why it is premature to talk about this now." In addition, he warned "major powers" against trying to intimidate Iran into compliance.
Also while Mrs. Clinton was in Moscow, Nikolai Patrushev, Russia's chief of the Presidential Security Council, announced that his country reserved its right to carry out "a pre-emptive nuclear strike" against enemies large and small.
The Most Frequent Visitors to the Obama White House:
On November 5, 2009, U.S. Army psychiatrist Nidal Malik Hasan, armed with two handguns, went on a shooting rampage inside Fort Hood (an Army post located outside of Killeen, Texas) – killing 13 people and wounding at least 31 others. According to eyewitnesses, Hasan shouted "Allahu Akbar!" ("God is Great!") while he was shooting. (He also had a long history of making pro-jihad statements.) The following day, President Obama issued a public statement from the White House, beginning his remarks with these words:
"Please, everybody, have a seat. Let me first of all just thank Ken and the entire Department of the Interior staff for organizing just an extraordinary conference. [This was a reference to a conference which was being held that day for Native American leaders.]
"I want to thank my Cabinet members and senior administration officials who participated today. I hear that Dr. Joe Medicine Crow was around, and so I want to give a shout out to that Congressional Medal of Honor winner. It's good to see you. (APPLAUSE) [Actually,Dr. Crow had never won the Congressional Medal of Honor, which is the highest award a member of the armed services can receive for valor in action against an enemy force. Rather, he had won the Congressional Medal of Freedom, which is the nation's highest civilian honor. In fact, Obama himself had presented that award to Dr. Crow.]
"My understanding is is that you had an extremely productive conference. I want to thank all of you for coming and for your efforts, and I want to give you my solemn guarantee that this is not the end of a process, but the beginning of a process and that we are going to follow up. (APPLAUSE)
"We are going to follow up. Every single member of my team understands that this is a top priority for us. I want you to know that, as I said this morning, this -- this is not something that we just give lip service to. And we are going to keep on working with you to make sure that the first Americans get the best possible chances in life in a way that's consistent with your extraordinary traditions and culture and values.
"Now, I have to say, though, that beyond that, I had planned to make some broader remarks about the challenges that lay ahead for Native Americans as well as collaboration with our administration."
At that point, after devoting approximately two minutes to the foregoing remarks, Obama mentioned the Fort Hood shooting:
"But as some of you might have heard, there has been a tragic shooting at the Fort Hood Army base in Texas. We don't yet know all the details at this moment. We will share them as we get them."
Among Obama's comments about Fort Hood was this: “We don’t know all the answers yet, and I would caution against jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts.”
"As he flew to Asia on Saturday [November 14, 2009], President Obama told the media in Alaska that he opposes a congressional investigation into the Fort Hood massacre, saying that we must 'resist the temptation to turn this tragic event into political theater.' ...
"Obama and his handlers know that the key to building favorable ratings is to control the agenda. And the more the national discussion centers on national security and terrorism, the more Republicans gain. So the Fort Hood terror attack comes at an awful time for an administration trying to turn the nation's attention away from the terrorist threat.
"As soon as the killing spree was over, Obama hastened to call it 'an act of violence' -- obscuring the obvious fact that it was the most serious terror attack on US soil since 9/11. And, as evidence mounts that the FBI was on to Major Nidal Malik Hasan for years, the president is doing his best to stop Congress from finding out why these warnings went unheeded.
"Even as Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-Mich.), the ranking Republican on the House Intelligence Committee confirmed that the government knew of 10 to 20 e-mails between Hasan and a radical imam in Yemen -- who was urging the killing of American troops -- starting last December, Obama hastened to urge Congress to refrain from investigating why the danger signs were ignored.
"The Obama administration has a clear agenda here:
"1) Stop people from focusing in how his administration permitted the worst domestic terror attack in eight years.
"2) Avoid a national airing of how liberal policies -- restraints on the intelligence community, political correctness in the armed forces -- might have inhibited the military from reining in Hasan.
"3) Re-ignite a firestorm on the left and abroad against the aggressive anti-terror policies of the Bush administration.
"Making all this particularly important for Obama are his other political needs. As he likely decides to send more troops to Afghanistan and eyes abandoning the 'public option' to secure Senate passage of his health-care plan, Obama has to rebuild his credibility on the left. A public circus that focuses on waterboarding and interrogations could be just what he wants and needs.
Soon after the Fort Hood massacre, the Pentagon released an 86-page report on the incident. The report did not contain a single mention of Hasan's Islamist history, and emphasized that "religious fundamentalism alone is not a risk factor." Political columnist Charles Krauthammer later noted that President Obama's National Security Strategy insisted on referring to America's Islamist enemies as "a loose network of violent extremists."
Obama Opposes Israel's Plan to Build Houses in Settlement Near Jerusalem
In November 2009, Obama expressed displeasure over Israel's approval of a plan to build 900 new homes in Gilo, a settlement of 40,000 Israelis situated in a part of the West Bank that Israel had captured in 1967 and annexed to Jerusalem. While Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to limit new construction in West Bank settlements, he stated that the Jerusalem municipality would be excluded from any settlement limits sought by Washington. Said Obama: "I think that additional settlement building does not contribute to Israel's security. I think it makes it harder for them to make peace with their neighbours. I think it embitters the Palestinians in a way that could end up being very dangerous."
Decision to Try Terrorists in Civilian Court:
On November 13, 2009, the Obama administration announced that it would try five Guantanamo Bay detainees with alleged ties to the 9/11 conspiracy, in a civilian court -- the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The defendants were Ramzi Bin al-Shibh, Walid bin Attash, Ali Abdul Aziz Ali, Mustafa Ahmed al-Hawsawi, and 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. As David Horowitz noted at the time
"The decision to try the jihadists in a civilian court is also a decision which will divulge America’s security secrets to the enemy since civilian courts afford defendants the right of discovery. It is also a propaganda gift to Islamic murderers who will turn the courtroom into a media circus to promote their hatred against the Great Satan."
Obama Bows to Japanese Emperor:
On November 16, 2009, President Obama met Japanese Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo. In a manner reminiscent of his meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia seven months earlier, Obama shook the Emperor's hand and bowed at a 90-degree angle.
Administration Vows to Pursue Immigration Reform:
On November 20, 2009, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, speaking at the Center for American Progress in Washington, DC, said that the Obama administration would soon push for “immigration reform” by offering illegal aliens in the United States a “tough and fair pathway to earned legal status.” This pathway, she elaborated, would “mandate that illegal immigrants meet a number of requirements—including registering, paying a fine, passing a criminal background check, fully paying all taxes and learning English.” Napolitano said these were “substantial requirements" that would "make sure this [illegal] population gets right with the law," "help fix our broken system," and "strengthen our economy."
More Troops to Afghanistan:
In a December 1, 2009 televised address delivered from the West Point military academy in New York, President Obama announced his decision to send about 30,000 additional American troops to Afghanistan -- in compliance with NATO General Stanley McChrystal's recent request for 30,000 to 40,000 more troops. During the course of his speech, Obama said: "As a country, we are not as young – and perhaps not as innocent – as we were when [Franklin] Roosevelt was President." Obama also stated that after the initial U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001:
"... in early 2003 the decision was made to wage a second war in Iraq. The wrenching debate over the Iraq War is well-known and need not be repeated here. It is enough to say that for the next six years, the Iraq War drew the dominant share of our troops, our resources, our diplomacy, and our national attention – and that the decision to go into Iraq caused substantial rifts between America and much of the world....
"Throughout this period, our troop levels in Afghanistan remained a fraction of what they were in Iraq. When I took office, we had just over 32,000 Americans serving in Afghanistan, compared to 160,000 in Iraq at the peak of the war. Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive."
Former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld subsequently reacted to Obama's assertion by stating:
"In his speech to the nation last night, President Obama claimed that 'Commanders in Afghanistan repeatedly asked for support to deal with the reemergence of the Taliban, but these reinforcements did not arrive.' Such a bald misstatement, at least as it pertains to the period I served as Secretary of Defense, deserves a response.
"I am not aware of a single request of that nature between 2001 and 2006. If any such requests occurred, 'repeated' or not, the White House should promptly make them public. The President's assertion does a disservice to the truth and, in particular, to the thousands of men and women in uniform who have fought, served and sacrificed in Afghanistan.
"In the interest of better understanding the President's announcement last night, I suggest that the Congress review the President's assertion in the forthcoming debate and determine exactly what requests were made, who made them, and where and why in the chain of command they were denied."
ABC reporter Jake Tapper then asked White House press secretary Robert Gibbs to clarify the President's claim. Gibbs said that Obama was referring to requests (for more troops) that had been made in 2008, two-years after Rumsfeld had resigned his office. But Gibbs' explanation was inconsistent with the fact that Obama had used the phrases "for the next six years" and "a longstanding request" -- indicating that he was not speaking merely about 2008. Moreover, as Fox News observed: "[I]f Obama were referring to the 2008 period, he would ... [be] pointing the finger at his own secretary of defense, Robert Gates, who served in the same position in the previous administration."
Obama Coordinates Strategy with Jodie Evans of Code Pink:
When Obama announced his new Afghanistan strategy in November 2009, his staff coordinated with the radical activist and Obama supporter Jodie Evans on the matter of how the anti-war left's dissent against that policy should be expressed.
Delegations from 192 countries convened in early December 2009 for a two-week "Climate Summit" in Copenhagen, Denmark. Their purpose was to discuss ways of dealing with the alleged threat of global warming caused by carbon dioxide emissions. On the day the Copenhagen conference opened, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) declared carbon emissions an "endangerment" to human health; in the process, the Agency claimed jurisdiction over the regulation of those emissions. Political analyst Charles Krauthammer wrote about the significance of the EPA's action:
"Since we operate an overwhelmingly carbon-based economy, the EPA will be regulating practically everything. No institution that emits more than 250 tons of CO2 a year will fall outside EPA control. This means over a million building complexes, hospitals, plants, schools, businesses and similar enterprises. (The EPA proposes regulating emissions only above 25,000 tons, but it has no such authority.) Not since the creation of the Internal Revenue Service has a federal agency been given more intrusive power over every aspect of economic life....
"With this EPA 'endangerment' finding, we can do as we wish with carbon. Either the Senate passes cap-and-trade, or the EPA will impose even more draconian measures: all cap, no trade.
"Forget for a moment the economic effects of severe carbon chastity. There's the matter of constitutional decency. If you want to revolutionize society -- as will drastic carbon regulation and taxation in an energy economy that is 85 percent carbon-based -- you do it through Congress reflecting popular will. Not by administrative fiat of EPA bureaucrats."
Obama White House Threatens to Close a Nebraska Air Force Base if Nebraska Senator Fails to Support Health Care Reform:
On December 15, 2009, Michael Goldfarb of The Weekly Standardreported that because Nebraska Democratic Senator Ben Nelson had not yet indicated that he would vote in favor of the Democrat health care reform bill, the Obama White House was applying strong pressure on Nelson. Specifically, the senator had been critical of the bill's public option and Medicare buy-in provisions, both of which had been stripped from the proposed legislation in early December. But now Nelson was demanding that taxpayer money not be used to fund abortion under the Democrat plan. In response, according to a Senate aide, the White House threatened to place Nebraska's Offutt Air Force Base on the BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure) list if Nelson didn't fall into line.
"Offutt Air Force Base employs some 10,000 military and federal employees in Southeastern Nebraska. As our source put it, this [threat of closure] is a 'naked effort by Rahm Emanuel and the White House to extort Nelson's vote.' They are 'threatening to close a base vital to national security for what?' asked the Senate staffer."
"Twenty Republican senators have requested that the Senate Armed Services Committee launch an investigation into reports that the Obama White House threatened to close Nebraska's Offutt Air Force base unless Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson fell into line on health care.... In the letter to Senators Levin and McCain, the committee chairman and ranking member, the 20 ask that 'a hearing be held as to whether the BRAC process has been compromised.'"
Obama Announces that Some Guantanamo Prisoners Will Be Transferred to Illinois:
In mid-December 2009, the Obama administration stated that it planned to transfer dozens of Guantanamo Bay prisoners to the abandoned Thomson Correctional Center in western Illinois. Some of the prisoners were slated to face trial by military commissions, while others would remain jailed without charge.
Obama Releases 12 More Prisoners from Guantanamo:
In December 2009, President Obama released twelve more jihadists from the Guantanamo Bay detention center in Cuba: four Afghanis, two Somalis, and six Yemenis. One of the ex-prisoners, a Somali named Mohamed Saleban Bare, had ties to Al-Ittihad Al-Islamiya, a Somali Islamist movement that produced many leaders of the al Qaeda-linked Shebab terror group.
A little-discussed executive order from President Obama giving foreign cops new police powers in the United States by exempting them from ... compliance with the Freedom of Information Act is raising alarm among commentators who say INTERPOL already had most of the same privileges as diplomats. [Created in 1923, INTERPOL is the world’s largest international police organization, with 188 member countries. It facilitates cross-border police co-operation, even where diplomatic relations do not exist between particular countries.] ...
Obama's [executive order was an] expansion of President Ronald Reagan's order from 1983 that originally granted those diplomatic privileges. Reagan's order carried certain exemptions requiring that INTERPOL operations be subject to several U.S. laws such as the Freedom of Information Act. Obama, however, removed those restrictions in his Dec. 16 amendment to Executive Order 12425.
[Critics noted that as a result of Obama's executive order,] this foreign law enforcement organization [could now] operate free of an important safeguard against government and abuse. Property and assets, including the organization's records, [could not] be searched or seized. Their physical locations [would now be] immune from U.S. legal or investigative authorities....
Obama's order said he was removing the Reagan limitations on INTERPOL:....
"In light of what we know and can observe, it is our logical conclusion that President Obama's Executive Order amending President Ronald Reagans' 1983 EO 12425 and placing INTERPOL above the United States Constitution and beyond the legal reach of our own top law enforcement is a precursor to more damaging moves.
"When the paths on the road map converge – Iraq withdrawal, Guantánamo closure, perceived American image improved internationally, and an empowered INTERPOL in the United States – it is probable that President Barack Obama will once again make America a signatory to the International Criminal Court. It will be a move that surrenders American sovereignty to an international body whose INTERPOL enforcement arm has already been elevated above the Constitution and American domestic law enforcement.
"For an added and disturbing wrinkle, INTERPOL's central operations office in the United States is within our own Justice Department offices. They are American law enforcement officers working under the aegis of INTERPOL within our own Justice Department. That they now operate with full diplomatic immunity and with 'inviolable archives' from within our own buildings should send red flags soaring into the clouds.
"Ultimately, a detailed verbal explanation is due the American public from the President of the United States detailing why an international law enforcement arm assisting a court we are not a signatory to has been elevated above our Constitution upon our soil." ...
Anthony Martin at the Examiner noted the international agency now can operate in the U.S. will "full immunity" from U.S. laws and "with complete independence from oversight from the FBI."
At National Review, Andy McCarthy asked, "Why would we elevate an international police force above American law? Why would we immunize an international police force from the limitations that constrain the FBI and other American law-enforcement agencies? Why is it suddenly necessary to have, within the Justice Department, a repository for stashing government files which, therefore, will be beyond the ability of Congress, American law-enforcement, the media, and the American people to scrutinize?"
Obama's reaction to an attempted airplane bombing:
On Christmas Day of 2009, while Obama was vacationing in Hawaii, a Nigerian member of al Qaeda was permitted to board a Northwest Airlines flight (from Amsterdam to Detroit) even though his name was in a database of suspected terrorists,; he attempted to blow up the plane in mid-flight with a powerful chemical bomb. When he tried detonate the bomb (which was concealed inside his underwear), it started a small fire but failed to explode as planned; passengers and crew members rushed to subdue him.
In the aftermath of the incident, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) issued a new range of restrictions, announcing that for the last hour of any flight no passenger would be permitted to use the plane's rest room or have anything on his or her lap — not even a computer, a blanket, or a book.
"And when the president finally spoke, even making allowances for his usual detached cool, he sounded less like a commander-in-chief addressing the nation after an attempted attack than an assistant DA at a Cook County press conference announcing a drug bust: 'Here’s what we know so far. . . . As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device. . . . The suspect was immediately subdued. . . . The suspect is now in custody and has been charged.” Etc, etc, piling up one desiccated legalism on another... The president can’t tell an allegedly alleged suspect (which is what he is in Obama fantasy-land) from an enemy combatant (which is what he is in cold hard reality). But worse than the complacent cop-show jargonizing was a phrase it’s hard to read as anything other than a deliberate attempt to mislead the public: The president referred to the Knickerbomber as an 'isolated extremist.' By this time, it was already clear that [the bomber] had been radicalized by jihadist networks in London and fast-tracked to training in Yemen by terror operatives who understood the potentially high value of a Westernized Muslim with excellent English from a respectable family. Yet President Obama tried to pass him off as some sort of lone misfit who wakes up one morning and goes bananas."
In the days following the attempted bombing, the Obama administration made clear that it would treat the incident as a law-enforcement matter rather than as an act of war or terrorism. Thus the administration announced that it would offer the perpetrator a plea agreement to persuade him to reveal what he knew about al-Qaeda operations in Yemen; if such an agreement could not be worked out, the government would try him in federal court.
Obama declassifies national secrets:
On December 29, 2009, President Obama issued Executive Order 13526 which declassified the most sensitive of national secrets, including the daily presidential briefing. This Executive Order reversed the policies that the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations had followed. Political analysts Floyd and Mary Beth Brown observed:
"By divulging sensitive documents, the methods and contacts of U.S. spies become part of the public record. His decision creates an incentive for the agencies to withhold or hide information. Naturally, spies never want to years later appear on the front page of the newspaper to have their decisions critiqued by the uninformed."