Even Cheney drew the line at using active-duty troops for civilian policing inside of US borders -but that didn’t seem to stop it from happening. The Christian Science Monitor reported in August 1990 that 58 active-duty Army troops had assisted in Operation Clean Sweep, the latest marijuana eradication program in northern California, and another 225 infantry soldiers and aviators and nine UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters from Fort Lewis, Washington, helped find pot plants in Operation Ghost Dancer in Oregon.
Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America’s Police Forces by Radley Balko
New Old West: The Colorado restaurant where everyone carries a gun
By Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor, July 6, 2014
Much of the political and philosophical fight over guns in America is about appearances and perception.
Some gun owners assert their Second Amendment rights by openly (and legally) carrying their firearms in public. If the sight of someone walking around town armed with a loaded handgun, rifle, or shotgun–a civilian, not a law enforcement officer–is startling, then so be it. The point has been made.
Meanwhile, gun control advocates, stymied in their efforts to get Congress to pass stricter measures, have been pressuring major commercial establishments to ask their gun-toting patrons to leave the weaponry at home.
Target, one of the largest US retailers, is the latest to respond to a signature-gathering effort–400,000 names–organized by a group called “Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America,” which was formed in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School massacre in Connecticut.
Target thus joins Chili’s, Starbucks, Chipotle, Sonic, and Jack in the Box in asking customers to not bring firearms into their establishments.
Then there’s Shooters Grill in Rifle, Colo. At Shooters, open display of firearms is encouraged. A sign on the front door reads, “Guns are welcome on premises. Please keep all weapons holstered, unless the need arises. In such cases, judicious marksmanship is appreciated.”
Owners Lauren and Jayson Boebert carry guns on the job, as do the servers.
As the local newspaper, The Post Independent, puts it: “When waitress Ashlee Saenz takes your order at Shooters Grill in Rifle, she not only carries a pad and pen–she also packs a loaded Ruger .357 Blackhawk handgun holstered on her leg, Old West style. It’s loaded and she knows how to use it.”
There may be an Old West style to the grill’s décor and menu (half-pound Angus beef burgers are very popular) but the business plan is New West and apparently successful. So successful that on Sunday morning, the Boeberts posted this on their Facebook page:
“Alright folks!!! After having 7 deliveries in 5 days we are SOLD OUT OF FOOD!! We have breakfast items, but we cannot supply the quality of food which we normal have for lunch. We do not want anyone to be cut short on the quality/presentation of their meal. So TODAY WE CLOSING AT 11:00am!!! We will get a new delivery tomorrow at 5am. So come in hungry and we will feed you right!! Have a great day everyone!”
The restaurant also hosts concealed carry training that qualifies customers for Colorado and Utah permits. The $75 price tag includes dinner.
As she explained it to the local newspaper, Boebert said she is simply allowing customers and employees to exercise their constitutional right.
“We encourage it, and the customers love that they can come here and express their rights,” she said. “This country was founded on our freedom. People can come in carrying their gun, and they can pray over their food.”
“I consulted with my Christian friends and everyone said ‘Shooters’ sounded like a bar or a strip joint,” Ms. Boebert said. “But I thought, this is Rifle–it was founded around guns and the Old West. We called it Shooters and started throwing guns and Jesus all over the place.”
The restaurant does not serve alcohol, which makes local law enforcement officials happy.
“If it was a bar, I might be saying something different. But I have no problem with it,” Police Chief John Dyer told the Post Independent. “And besides, they make a really good burger.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt. has plenty of differences with Donald Trump, but the former Democratic presidential candidate said Thursday there are areas where he could find agreement with the president-elect in the coming year.
“Mr. Trump campaigned as a populist, campaigned as somebody who is anti-establishment, and I have zero doubt that he received the support of many working class people all across the country because of some of the positions that he took,” Sanders told reporters at a Christian Science Monitor breakfast.
Despite being on opposite ends of the political spectrum in many ways, some of those populist ideas from Trump were similar to the ones Sanders made the cornerstone of his insurgent primary campaign, particularly an outspoken opposition to trade deals such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Sanders said the two might also be able to find common ground on an increase in infrastructure projects that could create more jobs.
But Sanders added that now it was time to see whether Trump’s slogans and campaign promises were for real, and that he and other members of Congress would now hold his feet to the fire, particularly on his pledges not to slash Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.
“During the campaign he said a lot, and we will find out soon enough about whether what he said was sincere … our job is to hold him accountable and we intend to do that,” Sanders said.
And, Sanders added, that if Trump keeps his campaign promises and “has the guts” to stand up to corporate America and fight to stop countries from moving overseas, “he will have an ally with me.”
I believe art is utterly important. It is one of the things that could save us. We don’t have to rely totally on experience if we can do things in our imagination…. It’s the only way in which you can live more lives than your own. You can escape your own time, your own sensibility, your own narrowness of vision.
Senator Bernie Sanders, a former Democratic presidential candidate, said on Thursday he will help rebuild party support outside of Washington and craft a new economic message for all Americans.
Sanders, who will become outreach chair on the Senate Democrats leadership team, will try to engage Americans who feel disconnected from the political process. Sanders is an Independent from Vermont but tends to vote with Democrats.
“The real action to transform America won’t take place on Capitol Hill, it will be in the grassroots America among millions struggling economically and young people,” Sanders said at a breakfast hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.
When I first came to the United States and was struggling to learn English, people often asked me, “What language do you think in?” The question always surprised me because I wasn’t aware of language as much as the need to express myself. I usually replied, “I think in the language I’m speaking.” But I was confused afterward, wondering if that was true. It didn’t seem so, because many times I ran out of English words into silence, trying vainly to translate a word or phrase from Spanish, the only language I spoke until I was a teenager.
We migrated to the United States from Puerto Rico in 1961. My siblings and I spoke no English. There were no bilingual education programs at the time, and we had to learn the language as best we could on our own. At home our relatives spoke Spanish, but as my siblings and I became comfortable with English, we spoke both languages, changing from one to the other easily. We’d start a sentence in Spanish and midway switch to English. Sometimes we used our bilingualism to confuse adults who couldn’t keep up with the swift changes from one language to the other.
When I visit Puerto Rico I’m disoriented for a day or two and must get used to the rhythms of the language all over again. Over the five decades since I arrived in the United States I’ve remained fluent in Spanish, so it annoys me when Puerto Ricans tell me my Spanish has an accent. Years of speaking English almost exclusively means my “r’s” don’t roll with the same precision.
Often when emotion rules I’m silenced by the inability to find the right English words. I usually end these internal struggles with a mental shrug and “as we say in Spanish,” prefacing the expression. The moment I’ve said it in Spanish a loose translation comes to mind and I wonder if I’d be more articulate if I only spoke one language.
Over the years, I’ve thought about these issues, especially when I tried to raise my children to be bilingual. I learned that given a choice, children will speak only one language; that of their peers. But I insisted that my children at least feel comfortable in Spanish. It made it possible for them to get to know their maternal grandparents, aunts, and uncles, cousins. It also gave them access to a bigger world. They know that there are cultures with traditions that may differ from what they’re used to in the United States.
It’s my guess that people who are monolingual by birth or choice don’t think about these things. They don’t stop in the middle of a sentence to search through a world of cultural and linguistic expressions that will voice their feelings. They don’t worry about what their families think of their children who can’t speak the mother tongue. They don’t lose sleep over whether they’re making a mistake by insisting that their children understand a language and culture they can visit, but never belong to. But I worry about it and try to seek answers in my own experience. By retaining my Spanish and ties to the Puerto Rican community, I’ve enriched my life and the lives of the people around me.
I’ve become a hybrid; a bilingual, bicultural person able to move from one culture to the other without too much shock. Now people rarely ask me what language I think in.
But there was that night years ago, when I was kissing my four-year old boy goodnight, and Lucas whispered in my ear, “Mama, what language do you dream in?”
“Bilingual Dreamer” by Esmeralda Santiago first appeared in the Christian Science Monitor (August 20th, 1987)
Excuse my ignorance, but why do you not think president Obama is doing an okay job? It's my understanding that he tried to do everything he set out to do but he kept being voted against by the house and Senate.
You should definitely check out my Obama tag, but here are a few reasons why Obama is no friend to the working class or oppressed peoples, not here and not anywhere:
ICE has deported over a million people since 2009. Deportation rates are rising every year, and are currently approaching 400,000. (ACLU 8/18/11) Despite the fact that unauthorized immigration rates are sinking (Pew 9/1/10), Border Patrol has more agents than it’s ever had before (White House 5/2011) and ICE’s budget has risen to nearly $6 billion. Despite a stated policy of targeting high-level criminals, the majority of those deported under ICE’s “Secure Communities” program have only misdemeanor convictions or no conviction at all. (Deportation Nation 5/25/11)
The Department of Homeland Security’s has rescinded the Secure Communities agreement memos with various jurisdictions and announced that compliance with the program is mandatory, despite legislation to the contrary. (IPC 11/29/11, Restore Fairness 8/8/11)
The vast majority of ICE detainees have no access to counsel. (ABA 2/2010) Half of ICE detainees are kept in private prisons (ACLU 11/1/11); detainees in both private and public detention centers are subject to sexual abuse (ACLU), physical abuse and lack of medical care (ACLU 10/24/11), lack of access to counsel (ACLU 11/17/11, ABA 2/2010)
DHS has denied people entry into the United States due to mental illness; one Canadian was turned away at the border due to a suicide attempt five years prior. (CBC 9/9/11)
At least 5,100 children are in foster care in the United States because their parents were deported. If current deportation trends continue, this number could rise to 15,000 in the next five years. (ARC 11/2011, Frontline 11/3/11)
Despite his stated support for a two-state solution, Obama has opposed Palestine’s UN bid for statehood, and has declared that, if the issue is brought to the UN Security Council, the United States will veto it. (Guardian 9/21/11). When Palestine was given membership in UNESCO, the United States canceled UNESCO funding. (Reuters 11/2/11) Similarly, though Obama makes public statements deriding the continued advance of Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, the US vetoed a UN resolution (sponsored by 130 nations, including all other members of the Security Council) opposing the settlements. (Christian Science Monitor 2/18/11)
The Obama administration dropped its attempts to persuade Israel to halt construction of settlements in Palestinian territory and allowed the moratorium on construction to expire, a serious problem not just morally but diplomatically, as Palestinian authorities have refused to engage in direct talks as long as Israel was building on lands seized from Palestine in 1967. (Reuters via MSNBC, AP via Huffington Post, both 12/7/10)
On Military and Foreign Policy (Imperialism)
Obama’s State Department secretly directed its diplomats to spy on the United Nations, directing them to uncover computer passwords, credit card numbers, and biometric data. Similar directives ordered embassy staff in oil-rich African countries to conduct military surveillance and embassy staff in the Middle East to seek out travel plans of leaders in the Palestinian Authority. (Guardian 11/28/10)
Under the Obama administration, use of unmanned drones in military raids has severely increased—of the 309 known strikes, all but 52 took place after Obama took office. The exact number of people killed is not known (publicly at least), but the Bureau of Investigative Journalism places estimates between 2,373 and 2,997; at least 391 and possibly as many as 780 were civilians, including 175 children. These figures are based largely on media reports; in most cases, the actual identities of the victims are unknown, and as such there is the real possibility that a large number of “alleged militants” are actually civilians. (BIJ 8/10/11) The bulk of drone attacks have been in Pakistan, but the U.S. has also used the weapons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia. (Independent 7/1/11) A State Department legal adviser said it was “the considered view of this administration” that American drone attacks abroad constitute “self-defense”. (Wired 3/26/10)
In September, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was killed in a targeted assassination on Barack Obama’s explicit orders due to alleged al-Qaeda ties. (NYT 10/1/11) Obama’s Justice Department argued in court, after Awlaki was placed on the list but long before he was killed, that the President has the authority to order the assassination of American citizens deemed a threat without a trial or even charges, and that this authority is not subject to judicial review. (ACLU 11/8/10)
After the scheduled military pullout from Iraq at the end of the year, the State Department will continue to employ 5,000 private security contractors in the country. (ABC 10/21/11), including the controversial company DynCorp (NPR 12/27/11)
During the “limited humanitarian intervention” (Yahoo 3/23/11) in Libya, the U.S. dropped dozens of bombs on the nation, even after the rebels succeeded in taking the capital. (Wired 10/20/11) American-backed anti-Gaddafi forces have been implicated in numerous human rights abuses, including indiscriminate arrests of sub-Saharan African nationals, torture and sexual assault of detainees (Amnesty International 10/2011), and a mass execution of Gadaffi loyalists at a hotel in Sirte (Human Rights Watch 10/23/11); there are reports that black Libyans are being lynched by rebel forces. (Liberation 8/30/11) The National Transitional Council’s interim leader announced a desire to return to traditional law and repeal the nation’s divorce laws. (Radio Netherlands 10/24/11)
Obama has resumed the war in Somalia. In addition to the aforementioned drone strikes, the U.S. is giving millions of dollars to Somali troops described by reporters as “ineffective”. The U.S. is also giving support to Ugandan, Kenyan, and Ethiopian military troops to fight in Somalia. (Washington Post 11/24/11)
In 2009, the United States used a cluster bomb against an alleged al-Qaeda training camp; the attack is estimated to have killed 41 civilians. (Amnesty International 6/4/10) The United States is one of few industrialized nations not to have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. (CCM) The Obama administration has continued Bush’s refusal to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. (AP via MSNBC 11/24/09)
The Obama administration shipped arms to Saudi Arabia to quell a rebellion in North Yemen, while publicly claiming to be uninvolved. (Salon 12/9/10) When larger masses of Yemenis began protesting the long-standing rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Obama administration supported Saleh; after it became clear that the movement against Saleh was too broad, the White House became involved in the negotiations to remove Saleh peacefully (Reuters 4/4/11), all while continuing its drone war against alleged Yemeni terrorists. (NYT 6/9/11) When Saleh finally stepped down, Obama praised the transfer of power as “a new beginning” (White House 11/23/11), despite continued protests in the country against the immunity from prosecution Saleh received in the power transfer agreement. (Guardian 11/23/11)
The Obama administration revived a Rumsfeld plan to equip ICBMs with conventional warheads—a plan that even the Bush administration eventually scrapped because it was too dangerous. (NYT, Wired, 4/23/10)
In 2010, the State Department hired Xe services, better known as Blackwater, to provide security at new U.S. consulates in Afghanistan. (Washington Post 6/21/10) Nearly simultaneously, Xe was given a contract to provide security at CIA bases in Afghanistan and other undisclosed countries. (Washington Post 6/23/10)
The Department of Defense sold $60 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in 2010, including 84 F-15s, 190 helicopters, and massive amounts of bombs and missiles. (Washington Times 11/19/10)
The United States has expanded its clandestine presence in Middle East and nearby countries, friend and foe, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. This new order makes it clear that such operations are intended to be long-term. (NYT 5/24/10)
The Obama administration worked out an agreement with Afghanistan that would keep U.S. troops in the country until 2024. (Telegraph 8/19/11)
According to a CIA lawyer involved in the Bush-Obama transition, the incoming administration sought to do away with the torture program but keep virtually every other aspect of Bush’s CIA programs. (Frontline via Raw Story 9/1/11)
On Domestic Spying, Black Site Prisons, and Civil Liberties
In an interview on America’s Most Wanted, President Obama expressed support for a national database of DNA samples taken from arrestees, regardless of whether they are convicted, equivocating the practice with taking mugshots. (LA Times 4/9/10)
In a statement coinciding with the release of Bush-era memos from the Office of Legal Counsel regarding torture programs, Obama promised that agents who had been involved in torture would not be prosecuted, saying “This is a time for reflection, not retribution.” (White House 4/16/09) The administration has also declined to prosecute CIA officials who destroyed dozens of videos of agents torturing suspected terrorists. (NYT 11/9/10) When a Spanish human rights group called for Spain’s National Court to prosecute several Bush officials including Alberto Gonzales and John Yoo, Obama joined with Republican officials in secretly pressuring Spain to circumvent the Spanish legal system and drop the charges. (Mother Jones 12/1/10)
Despite campaign promises to end the Bush administration’s “extraordinary rendition” program, whereby individuals were kidnapped without charges, taken to secret locations on foreign soil, and tortured, the Obama administration has largely kept the program in place, turning prisoners over to foreign countries and relying on “assurances” from those nations that the prisoners will not be tortured. (LA Times 2/1/09, NYT 8/24/09, Pro Publica 9/6/11) The administration has consistently invoked “state secrets” privileges and national security concerns to deny rendition survivors any hope of legal justice. (ACLU 11/15/11)
Similarly, Obama’s DOJ has sought to block litigation against the NSA over warrantless wiretapping, continuing the Bush administration’s invoking of “state secrets” (a practice which Obama himself opposed on the campaign trail). Obama’s administration, however, has gone beyond Bush’s argument to a disturbing new level, with the unprecedented claim that the federal government is categorically immune from litigation regarding illegal spying. (Salon 4/6/09, EFF 4/7/09)
Obama’s DOJ has also argued to the Supreme Court that the government should be able to attach GPS devices to suspects’ cars without warrants. (Wired 6/27/11)
The Obama administration denied UN investigators access to Guantanamo prisoners and information on secret prisons. (Washington Post 7/23/09)
A terrorism strategy released by the White House recommends increasing the monitoring of “extremism” on social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter. (CNET 8/3/11) The Justice Department is seeking to require ISP’s and cell phone companies to hold on to records for significant periods of time to aid law enforcement. (Raw Story 1/25/11)
Obama’s Department of Justice has issued new guidelines on the use of Miranda warnings in interrogation of terrorism suspects, but has refused to make these guidelines public, further clouding an already murky subject. (Salon 1/19/11)
The Department of Defense released a list of names of prisoners at the Bagram prison, where allegations of torture and abuse have been raised for years. However, the list did not contain such important information as length of detention, location of capture, or national origin (BBC 1/16/10), information which the Obama administration has fought hard to keep secret. (TPR 10/26/10) The administration has opened a second prison at Bagram, referred to by former inmates as “Tor Jail” or “Black Jail”; the DoD refuses to acknowledge that this prison even exists. (BBC 4/15/10, 5/11/10)
The Pentagon has stated that it has the right to react to hackers with military force “when warranted.” (Reuters 11/15/11)
In a memo to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, President Obama personally waived portions of a Bush-era law that forbade providing military assistance to countries known to recruit child soldiers, in order to provide military aid to Chad, Sudan, Yemen, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. (Foreign Policy 10/26/10, White House 10/25/10)
President Obama refused to release photos depicting abuse against detainees in Iraq and Afghanistan in violation of a Freedom of Information Act request, claiming that doing so would inflame terrorists against the United States. (ABC 5/13/09)
Obama declared that some Guantanamo detainees would be held indefinitely without trial, claiming that such prisoners “cannot be prosecuted for past crimes, but … nonetheless pose a threat to the security of the United States.” (Washington Post 5/22/09) The following year, his Justice Department argued in court that a ruling requiring the government to give Guantanamo prisoners their habeas corpus rights did not apply to prisoners at Bagram; a District Court judge rejected this argument, but an appeals court reversed the ruling, essentially granting the DOD power to imprison people indefinitely so long as the prison is in a war zone. (Salon 5/21/10)
An FBI policy made public after an FOIA request reveals that the agency keeps people on a terrorism watch list even if they have been cleared of any charges. (NYT 9/27/11)
TSA is performing unannounced security screenings, including pat-downs, not just at airports but train stations, ferries, and bus terminals. They have begun working in tandem with ICE, predictably targeting people of color, through the “VIPR” program (Visible Intermodal Prevention and Response). (Mother Jones 6/20/11) In San Diego, a joint TSA-ICE Trolley raid led to 21 arrests, including the deportation of three teenagers on their way to school. (Union-Tribune 5/23/09)
On Law Enforcement
In 2009, the ATF began a secret program called “Operation Fast and Furious” in which illegal firearms were deliberately allowed to fall into the hands of drug cartel members in Mexico in an attempt to reach the higher members of the cartels. The program was kept secret from both the American public and the Mexican government. A gun purchased in the program killed a Border Patrol officer in late 2010. U.S. attorneys denied the rumors of the program in the announcement of a series of arrests, but it was eventually made public by a disgruntled ATF officer who went to Congress. (Washington Post 7/25/11) Attorney General Eric Holder denied knowledge of the program, but had been receiving regular briefings on the subject since at least July of 2010. (CBS 10/3/11)
The DEA is involved in laundering millions of dollars in drug cartel money to further their investigation of cartel leaders; the practice is understandably controversial, and has seen little apparent success. (NYT 12/3/11)
On Wall Street and Labor (Class Struggle)
Obama has claimed that he “understand[s] the frustration” fueling the Occupy Wall Street movement (ABC 10/10/11), and the Democratic Party has made advances toward appropriating the movement. (NYT 10/10/11) Obama’s tepid statements of not-quite-support are understandable considering that his campaign in both 2008 (Open Secret) and 2012 (LA Times 7/22/11, Washington Post 10/19/11) have received massive funding from Wall Street firms; he has received more donations from the securities and investment industry than any other candidate in the past 20 years. (Influence Explorer through Q2 2011) Any hope that he might support the movement were dashed when his Department of Homeland Security aided local governments in suppressing and evicting protesters. (Guardian 11/25/11)
Obama’s first appointed director to the National Economic Council, Larry Summers, has had a long-standing close relationship with Wall Street. In 2008 alone, Summers was paid $5.7 million for working one day a week at the hedge fund D.E. Shaw, and receivied $2.7 million in speaking fees from companies such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Lehman Brothers, and Merrill Lynch. (Washington Post 4/6/09) In 2000, when California Governor Gray Davis contacted the federal authorities with concerns that Enron was manipulating the market, Summers (who at that time was Treasury Secretary under President Clinton) joined Alan Greespan and, in one meeting, Enron CEO Ken Lay to urge Davis to deregulate California energy companies, remove caps on consumer prices, and relax environmental regulations. (The Daily Beast 11/12/08) Obama initially considered nominating Summers for Treasury Secretary, but ultimately decided to appoint him head of the NEC, which would not require Senate confirmation. (Salon 4/4/09)
When Summers stepped down from his post, Obama replaced him with Gene Sperling, who had already held the position for several years under Clinton. During this previous term as NEC director, Sperling was a chief negotiator on the Financial Modernization Act (NARA 1999), more commonly known as Gramm-Leach-Bliley. GLB repealed portions of the Glass-Steagall Act that had forbidden an institution from operating as any combination of investment bank, commercial bank, and insurance company. (LOC 11/2/99) On the campaign trail, Obama placed a great deal of the blame for the current recession on this repeal, but this rhetoric has all but disappeared from his public statements (NYT 11/12/09), and his appointment of the very negotiator responsible as his top economic adviser paints a grim picture for those who seek to have Glass-Steagall restored.
Obama’s Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner has his own host of controversies. The issues range from failure to pay $35,000 in taxes between 2001 and 2004 (Washington Times 1/14/09) to his role in the AIG bonus scandal in 2009. That year, Geithner and Larry Summers lobbied then-Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd to alter an amendment in the stimulus bill. The original amendment limited bonuses and so-called “golden parachutes” at companies receiving federal bailout money; at the request of Summers and Geithner, Dodd added a loophole exempting previously-existing bonus contracts from being affected. (CNN 3/19/09) AIG, a recipient of over $170 billion in bailout money, soon announced a plan to pay $165 million in executive bonuses. (NYT 3/14/09) Geithner himself was involved in AIG’s bailout while he was president of the New York Federal Reserve, as well as the bailout of Citigroup, both in 2008. (NYT 11/24/08)
While president of the New York Fed, Geithner discouraged the New York Attorney General from pursuing criminal action against AIG executives involved in the company’s collapse (NYT 4/14/11); that same attitude characterizes the Obama administration’s approach to prosecution. The Justice Department has declined to prosecute executives at several companies; they dropped their investigation against the former CEO of Countrywide Financial, one of the country’s biggest mortgage lenders (NYT 2/19/11), and have decided not to prosecute Washington Mutual executives for their part in the biggest bank failure in American history.(Bloomberg 8/5/11) Federal prosecution for financial institution fraud is at a 20-year low. (Huffington Post 11/15/11)
When Wisconsin governor Scott Walker attacked public sector unions in the state, seeking to strip them of their right to collective bargaining, Obama spoke out against the attacks, but made no action to help the workers, refusing to even visit Wisconsin (in contradiction to a campaign promise to “walk on that picket line” when bargaining rights came under fire). (Huffington Post 2/24/11) When the Democratic Party begin mobilizing to support the Wisconsin workers, Obama’s White House staff reined them in. (NYT 3/3/11)
Obama and the Department of Labor sat on a review of child farm labor laws for several months, well past the February 2011 deadline for review and public comment; the rules were finally made public in September. In that time, two 17-year-old boys were critically injured on a farm in Oklahoma, and two 14-year-old girls were electrocuted and killed on a Monsanto farm in Illinois. (Huffington Post 8/15/11, DOL 10/31/11)
The Obama White House was closely involved in a deal awarding solar panel manufacturer Solyndra LLC a half-billion-dollar federal loan (ABC 9/13/11), and Obama praised the company as an example of the success of his economic policies; the company filed for bankruptcy in August and laid off over a thousand workers. (AP via Syracuse Post-Standard 8/31/11) It was later revealed that Solyndra had run out of money and defaulted; the Department of Energy restructured the loan in an attempt to keep the company solvent. (Wall Street Journal 9/28/11) A decades-long Treasury official testified that he has “never seen” a loan agreement be restructured like Solyndra’s. (Washington Examiner 10/14/11) When another company given a loan under the same program received negative press, the Department of Energy altered old press releases to remove that company’s name. (CNBC 10/19/11) When it became clear in 2010 that Solyndra would lay off workers, the Obama administration asked the company to delay the announcement until after the midterm elections on November 2; the company agreed, and made the announcement on November 3. (Washington Post 11/15/11)
The administration has boasted of its foreclosure prevention program, but the foreclosure rate is still increasing. (AP via NPR 11/10/11) The foreclosure program has had little oversight and no transparency. Mortgage companies are being paid millions of dollars in taxpayer money, but audit results are not being made public, and there is evidence that the mortgage companies are performing the same abuses as always without any consequences. (Pro Publica 10/4/11) Obama’s Home Affordable Modification Program (HAMP) was based on an industry plan, and deliberately crafter its language to exlude millions of homeowners who were seen as undeserving. The administration was dismissive of proposals to allow bankruptcy judges to lower mortgage payments on primary residences a prohibition not applied to any other type of debt and which Obama himself opposed on the campaign trail. (Pro Publica 2/4/11)
Shortly after the mortgage audits were made public, the Obama administration rolled out a new plan to lower mortgage payments for homeowners in need. But the new plan would make the taxpayer liable for refinanced loans; banks would be immune to liability. Furthermore, the plan does nothing to address the fact that most of these mortgages are for significantly more money than the homes are actually worth, which experts say is the core problem in the housing crisis. (Huffington Post 10/24/11)
When some states notified the Treasury of their intention to use money from the Hardest Hit Fund (a program under TARP intended to help homeowners in the states hit worst by unemployment and the housing market crisis) on legal aid groups that help individual homeowners, the Treasury told these states that doing so would violate TARP rules—a decision they reached after consulting with a law firm that represents several large banks and lending institutions. (The Nation 12/9/10)
A 2011 audit has revealed that the Federal Reserve is “riddled” with serious conflicts of interest. A number of high-ranking Fed officials have strong ties to the financial industry, and have used the Fed to award their companies emergency loans. The Fed’s conflict of interest rules have been kept secret, as well as waivers to the rules; the information was only brought to light under a GAO audit. (Senate 10/19/11)
Wall Street is making more money under Obama than it ever did under Bush. (Washington Post 11/6/11) The government has invested with banks to the tune of billions of taxpayer dollars, while U.S. poverty rates are higher than ever. (CBS 9/13/11)
Obama signed an executive order announcing his commitment to “review” regulations on business, characterizing the current regulatory framework as “redundant” and “excessively burdensome” on businesses. (NYT, White House, both 1/18/11) Within days, OSHA began withdrawing a number of proposed rules, including a strengthening of workplace noise regulations and a rule to provide a space on employer injury and illness forms to record musculoskeletal disorders. (The Hill 1/30/11)
Obama publicly espoused rhetoric that seemed to endorse made-in-America manufacturing policies, but opposed Congressional attempts at including such policies in legislation, and worked in active opposition by pushing trade deals with South Korea, which would deal a significant blow to the American auto industry and provide material support to Korean firms with serious labor rights problems. (Alternet 8/26/10)
The Obama administration lauds the healthcare plan as a major success, but it was compromised from the start. Obama made back-room deals with the private medical industry to block the public option he claimed to support. (HuffPo 3/16/10, NYT 8/13/09)
When the anti-choice Stupak amendment was removed from the final version of the bill that was passed in 2010, President Obama effectively reinstated it, banning women covered under the high-risk insurance pool program from using that insurance to access abortion services. (ACLU 7/15/10)
An analysis by the Physicians for a National Health Program concluded that the healthcare bill as passed will leave 23 million people uninsured while hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars will be shoveled to private health insurance companies. (PNHP 3/22/10)
Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services granted waivers to thirty large, mostly private, employers, including McDonald’s and Jack in the Box, exempting them from requirements to provide coverage to their employees; the waivers leave nearly a million workers uninsured. (USA Today 10/7/10)
The Obama administration refused to release a list of health industry executives visiting the White House during negotiations over the healthcare bill, using an argument originated by George W. Bush that such documents were exempt from public disclosure laws, and contradicting campaign promises for transparency in healthcare negotiations. (LA Times 7/22/09)
During the 2011 debt ceiling negotiations, President Obama offered to inrease the Medicare eligibility age from 65 to 67 in exchange for Republican agreement to raise certain taxes. (Huffington Post 7/11/11) In addition to the obvious threat to public health this poses, it would lead to an increase in total health spending. (CBPP 8/23/11)
Obama sought to slash $300 to $500 billion in “entitlement spending”, including massive cuts to Medicare; he has said that “healthcare cuts” are required in any budget deal. (NYT 9/13/11)
The Obama administration has fought aggressively to buy a controversial smallpox drug from a company called Siga (owned by a longtime donor to the Democratic Party), despite concerns over both its necessity and its effectiveness. When Department of Health and Human Services officials balked at the company’s asking price, the government replaced the lead negotiator. When Siga was in danger of losing the contract, the government blocked other companies from bidding. The final agreement pays Siga significantly more than what government specialists considered a reasonable price. (LA Times 11/13/11)
Part of the healthcare bill required that employer-provided health insurance cover birth control. The Obama administration is seeking to allow a wide range of exemptions to this rule, allowing any religiously-affiliated employer to opt out. This would include a number of universities, hospitals, and clinics, and potentially leaving millions of women without access to birth control. (NYT 11/19/11)
Obama is joining House Republicans in seeking to modify a formula in the healthcare plan to count Social Security benefits as income, pushing a potential million Americans out of the Medicaid eligibility bracket each year. (Washington Times 11/24/11)
The Obama administration argued to the Supreme Court that hospitals and clinics cannot sue drug companies for discounts they are entitled to under federal law or for recompense after being overcharged. (NYT 1/9/11)
The administration rewrote the rules of the healthcare bill, removing coverage for end-of-life planning, apparently due to fears that an incoming Republican majority on Congress would use such language as political ammunition. (NYT ¼/11)
The Obama administration hired a former executive from WellPoint, the largest private insurance company in America, to “help implement” the new healthcare law. (Open Left 7/14/10)
Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services overruled the FDA and rejected a move to allow the morning-after pill to be sold without an age restriction. (Washington Post 12/7/11) Obama claims not to have been involved in the decision, but publicly supports it nonetheless. (NYT 12/8/11)
On the Environment
In 2010, President Obama appointed Islam Siddiqui as Chief Agriculture Negotiator. Prior to his appointment, Siddiqui was a vice president of CropLife America, a bioindustry organization representing, among others, DuPont, Monsanto, and Dow. (Huffington Post 3/18/10, CLA) Siddiqui is a staunch supporter of GMO food; during an earlier stint in the Department of Agriculture, he pushed to allow GMO products to be labeled “organic”, and has lobbied for weaking international regulations on pesticide. (GMO Journal 5/6/10)
Obama’s USDA and FDA have released a position paper opposing labeling for genetically modified foods. The paper claims that such labels are “false, misleading, or deceptive,” saying that food labels should not “suggest or imply that GM/GE foods are in any way different from other foods.” (The Atlantic 4/26/10)
The Minerals Management Service (later reorganized into the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation, and Enforcement) allowed dozens of oil companies, including BP, to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without permits or environmental assessments, and frequently overruled its own staff scientists who raised objections regarding the safety of offshore drilling both in the Gulf of Mexico and in Alaska. These fast-tracked approvals included the Deepwater Horizon rig, which exploded in 2010 and caused the largest oil spill in history. (NYT 5/14/10) The Department of the Interior was warned by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that it was dramatically underestimating the frequency of oil spills and the risk of a major spill, but the warnings were ignored and Obama announced plans to expand offshore oil drilling. (Huffington Post 7/3/10)
Charles Monnett, a high-ranking scientist with the OEMRE, published a 2006 paper documented the severe effects of climate change on Arctic polar bears and has raised awareness of the issue worldwide. When oil firms seeking to drill in the Arctic complained of environmental reviews causing delays in the permitting process, Monnett was put on suspension, silenced with a gag order, and forbidden from talking with his colleagues; Obama soon signed an order demanding that Arctic drilling permits be expedited. (Guardian 7/28/11)
This stifling of scientists’ concerns about environmental effects of government policies is wide-reaching: scientists in the Pacific Northwest were pressured to downplay the effects dams have on salmon populations, water quality experts were interfered with when studying the effects of development projects on the Everglades, biologists throughout the West have reported being pressures to ignore the effects of overgrazing, and calls for further study were ignored when the government decided to treat the Gulf oil spill with massive amounts of potentially toxic chemicals. (LA Times 7/10/10)
Obama’s Interior Department upheld a Bush-era rule that forbids use of the Endangered Species Act to combat greenhouse gas emissions. (Time 5/8/09)
The Obama administration argued in court to uphold a rule that lifted a restriction on the amount of public land a private company can use. Environmental groups had sued, saying it gave companies unlimited access to dump toxic waste on public land. (CBS 4/2/10)
When New York City and eight different states filed suit against a group of coal-burning utility companies to try to force them to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Obama’s Justice Department argued to the Supreme Court against the lawsuit, siding with the utility companies. (WSJ 8/26/10)
Obama overruled the EPA and a unanimous panel of scientific advisers and canceled a proposed EPA regulation that sought to curb smog by restricting the production of ground-level ozone. (AP via Yahoo 9/2/11)
Obama’s Department of State has worked with Trans-Canada oil lobbyists to build an environmentally questionable pipeline from Alberta to Texas. Rather than providing oversight, the State Department has given the company support, even after Trans-Canada suggested dropping their request to pump oil at higher pressures than allowed, then reapplying for a waiver after the project is approved. (NYT 10/3/11) In October, Obama hired a former Trans-Canada lobbyist as a senior advisor to his re-election campaign. (Tar Sands Action 10/24/11)
The Obama administration has continued—and stepped up—Bush’s abuse of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, turning what is supposed to be a regulatory research office into a tool for industries to lobby for looser environmental and safety rules. The Obama administration has changed 76% of rules submitted through OIRA, including a staggering 85% of EPA-related rules, for the benefit of industry. (Guardian 11/28/11)
The Obama administration is supporting genetically engineered agriculture in fifty wildlife refuges in violation of a lawsuit settlement with Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Peer calls the program a “joint effort with Monsanto … part of a White House pledge to double exports.” (Truthout 7/25/11)
Obama’s Department of the Interior has approved scores of seismic surveys and drilling operations in the Gulf of Mexico without permits required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act and the Endangered Species Act. (Center for Biological Diversity 5/14/10)
Obama’s “Race to the Top” competition for school grants continues the policies of No Child Left Behind, judging performance on test scores, pushing school closures as a viable reform method, and promoting charter schools at the expense of the public school system. (Democracy Now 3/5/10) The changes made by state school systems to compete in the program led 746 school principals in New York to sign a letter of protest against testing. (NYT 11/27/11)
On Taxes, Budget, and Social Services
Obama extended the Bush tax cuts as part of a deal with Congressional Republicans in 2010. In addition to tax cuts or freezes across the board, the deal includes a tax cut for the top 2% of earners, an estimated $120 billion over two years; and an estate tax exemption for property less than $10 million. (ABC 12/17/10)
The deal brokered by Obama and Boehner during the manufactured debt ceiling “crisis” is estimated to reduce the United States GDP by $241 billion and cost nearly two million jobs—and these estimates are for 2012 alone. (EPI 8/1/11) The President has argued that the crisis, in particular the meaningless S&P downgrade of the U.S. credit score, makes it necessary to cut funding to social security and Medicare—but not the defense budget. (Politico 8/9/11)
Obama revived a failed Bush commission on debt and packed it with officials who have made careers of trying to attack and dismantle social security. (AlterNet 3/28/10)
The White House is seeking to cut funding from a program that trains occupational nurses, doctors, and safety professionals, and researches ways to decrease job-related fatalities in the agriculture, logging, and fishing industries, where death rates range from 5 to 58 times the national average. (CPI 8/4/11)
Obama supported passage of a House bill drafted by Republicans that would eliminate a tax compliance rule for governmnent contractors and pay for it by reducing Medicaid eligibility. (TPM 10/25/11) He also supported a budget that would cut funding for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program in half, leaving millions without winter heat. (Christian Science Monitor 2/10/11)
The Obama administration supported a bill that would encourage public housing authorities to rely on private funding, and would decrease public funding with a goal of, as a National Housing Institute analysis put it, “getting the federal government out of the low-income affordable housing business.” (Washington Post 7/14/10, NHI summer 2010)
On LGBTQIA rights
President Obama spent two years in opposition to the right of same-sex couples to marry before finally stepping back its policy and declaring it would not defend DOMA challenges in court. (ACLU 2/23/11) A spokesman for Obama said in 2010 that the president “does oppose same-sex marriage, but he supports equality for gay and lesbian couples” and that same-sex marriage is “an issue for the states.” (The Hill 8/5/10) Despite its declaration that it would no longer defend DOMA, it used the act later that year to deny immigration benefits to a married gay couple, deporting a man who was the primary caregiver to his AIDS-afflicted husband. (SF Gate 8/9/11)
One of Barack Obama’s major campaign issues was transparency; it is also turning out to be one of his major betrayals. Federal agencies denied more than 70,000 Freedom of Information Act requests under the “deliberative process” exemption (which Obama claimed to oppose) during the 2009 fiscal year alone; denials under all exemptions in the same time frame approached 500,000. These numbers represent a marked increase in both number and rate of denial from previous years, even though the number of FOIA requests actuallydecreased. (Huffington Post 3/16/10)
Despite campaign promises that he would protect and strengthen whistleblowers’ rights (Change.gov), Obama’s administration prosecuted more whistleblowers and alleged leaks in his first 18 months than any other president did in their entire administration. (NYT 6/11/10) His Justice Department reissued a Bush-era subpoena demanding aNew York Timeswriter reveal his source in an article on a bungled CIA job. This revival of the Bush administration’s prosecution stands in marked contrast to Obama’s “forward-looking” hands-off approach to prosecuting Bush officials for their wrongdoing. (Salon 4/29/10)
Breanna Manning, accused of leaking hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables and documents to WikiLeaks, has been held in captivity since May of 2010; for almost a year of that time (AP via NYT 4/28/11), she was kept in solitary confinement and forced to sleep in the nude. President Obama defended her treatment (NYT 3/11/11), and the Department of Defense did not so much as set a hearing date until November, a full 18 months after Manning’s arrest. (NYT 11/21/11)[Private Manning was arrested under the name Bradley Manning; since the news reports linked here were published, however, it became known that Manning identifies as female and prefers the name Breanna.]
During his campaign, Obama promised that lobbyists and former lobbyists would not be allowed to work for the administration, and once in office he set up rules to that effect. However, his administration has repeatedly given waivers to lobbyists, allowing them to circumvent the rule; in many cases, not even a waiver has been issued. (Obameter) At least 15 high-power fundraisers for Obama’s 2012 campaign are unregistered lobbyists, including executives from Pfizer and Comcast. (NYT 10/27/11)
Obama’s Department of Justice is pushing to allow government agencies to outright lie about the existence of sensitive records. Instead of saying it can neither confirm nor deny whether it has a given record, the new rules would give the government the ability to say the record doesn’t exist. (Pro Publica 10/24/11)
When he took office, Obama announced he would publicly release White House visitor logs in the interests of transparency, but the actual logs released have serious gaps and omissions. (CPI 4/13/11) Furthermore, the administration has taken to simply meeting with lobbyists at a coffee shop across the street from the White House in order to avoid having records of the visits. (NYT 6/24/10)
These things are really not hard to find. Situate them in the context of the struggle against white supremacist heteropatriarchal imperialist capitalism and it’s really not hard to arrive at the conclusion that Obama is firmly acting on behalf of, as part of, the oppressor class.
your opinion and mine may differ, but when i come at you with reputable, unbiased sources to back up my opinions, you sure as FUCK better not throw fox news, theblaze, or the christian science monitor conservative bullshit at me. i’m a librarian, research is my fucking JOB.
Newly sworn-in Arizona Republican Gov. Doug Ducey recently signed a bill that requires the state’s high school students to pass the U.S. naturalization test in order to graduate. According to the Christian Science Monitor, the bipartisan effort makes Arizona the first state to enact such a policy.
“The standard of living for Americans has fallen longer and more steeply over the last three years than at any time since the U.S. government began recording it five decades ago.”
- Christian Science Monitor
“Bay Area Rapid Transit Cuts Cell Phone Service To Avert A Protest.”
via The Washington Post.
“In a statement released Friday, the government-run transit company said it allowed expressive activities, protected by the First Amendment in its public areas. But in the areas accessible to paid ticket passengers, it interrupted the phone to ensure safety for its customers and employees. “BART temporarily interrupted service at select BART stations as one of many tactics to ensure the safety of everyone on the platform,” the statement reads.”
“The Christian Science Monitor reports that BART does not use jamming technology.”
This is an outright lie. Once you are within 50 feet of the ticket machines, BART’s WiFi and mobile coverage takes over. One look at their PR spokesman’s face this morning was all that anyone needed to know, and by 10am, everyone at BART was pointing fingers at everyone else.
Another dumb move by a dirty regional agency which is rife with patronage and incompetence. If you don’t want protests, don’t manhandle and kill your passengers.
The letter is brief: 48 words ending “Will the blunders ever stop?” On March 31, 1955 Donald Olyphant of Point Pleasant, Pennsylvania wrote Secretary of State John Foster Dulles protesting a proposed exchange of Russian and Iowa farmers. By studying our methods, Olyphant warned, the Russians would be able to provide better food for their soldiers. Referencing Napoleon, he added, “an army still marches on its stomach.”
Olyphant was responding to a February 10, 1955 Des Moines Register editorial inviting Russians to Iowa for the “lowdown on raising quality” hogs and cows. In turn, editorialist Lauren Soth was responding to a speech by Communist Party Secretary Nikita Khrushchev praising the U.S. corn-hog connection as a way to increase Soviet livestock feed.
Picked up by the Christian Science Monitor, Soth’s editorial soon made national news. By March 1, the Soviets had agreed to the visit. The U.S. was more wary, but on April 22 the State Department instructed the American Embassy to inform Soviets of their “favorable view” of the exchanges.
U.S. State Department records at National Archives in College Park, Maryland document the internal discussions and concerns surrounding the proposed exchange. Olyphant’s letter is one of many responses to radio and newspaper stories of the possible Soviet visit. Like Olyphant, many writers questioned the wisdom of allowing our enemy into the country. Others listed their qualifications for such an exchange and their willingness to represent the U.S.
Despite the State Department’s reservations, an exchange of Russian and American agriculturists took place in summer 1955. Twelve U.S. farmers and agricultural experts traveled 9,000 miles across the Soviet Union, visiting state and collective farms and seeing areas that had been closed to westerners since World War II. At the same time a dozen Soviet agriculture officials toured the United States; their official status a compromise given the fingerprint requirements of Soviet citizens under U.S. law.
I first learned about the delegations while working for former NBC reporter Irving R. Levine, who began his overseas network career accompanying the U.S. group on its Soviet tour. I am currently writing a book about the exchange.
Olyphant’s letter helps me understand the immediate response of many Americans to a Soviet visit. Its brevity elevates it from the crank letter status of more long-winded protestors. Olyphant exemplifies the American tradition of openly sharing views with the government.