The Obama Dream & 30 Items From A Sold Out Reality

Policy items accomplished?  Sure, and many of them.  What has been left behind, however, is inexcusable.

Policy items accomplished? Sure, and many of them. What has been left behind, however, is inexcusable.

In the still-infant months of the Obama administration, April of 2009, the shine of hope and promise that was ushered in during the previous campaign began to see its first blemishes.  While there was the embracing of releasing Bush-era memos detailing exactly how and when captives held by the United States could be tortured, and under what legal framework would be created to protect said behavior, any hope for actual justice for such heinous acts carried out in the name of the United States were quickly snuffed from existence.

Obama stated, back then, that CIA agents right on up to members of the Bush administration would not face prosecution for orchestrating, implementing, and justifying systematic torture of prisoners.  Not now, and in theory not ever.

Within days, the enormous amount of power that was diverted to the Executive Branch during the Bush administration via the AT&T-led warrant-less wiretapping program also found a new voice of support stemming from the Obama administration.  There would be no investigation of high-level Bush administration officials that pushed for the surveillance and there would be no investigation of the American companies that took part in the American government-sponsored spying on American citizens of every walk of life.

The reaction from the vast and general public was a collective shrug of the shoulder.  The President took shelter behind approval ratings in the mid 60′s and continued to ride out the storm.  Nearly two years later, the government can also now take nearly-nude photographs of you and feel you up – for your safety, of course.

Thus highlighted what would become an extremely depressing and long line of Very Important Things that the President would either ignore, capitulate on, reverse course, and – as much as the cheesiness of the phrase makes me cringe – flip flop on.

One in the same? We are not here yet. We probably won't get here, but we are far too close to it for comfort.

One in the same? We are not here yet. We probably won't get here, but we are far too close to it for comfort.

I can not take credit for compiling this list originally, that goes to a Reddit commenter, but this is something that needs to be posted, re-posted, and then posted some more.  It is not against the values of the liberal and liberal minded in this country to stand against a President that is supposedly on their side.  It is not anti-American to stand against decisions made by the President that run afoul of what this country is supposed to be about and run against that which would benefit the American people at large.  Thus, in much the same way my opinions were against the Bush administration because of its record and policies on important decisions and events, it turns against the Obama administration for failing to change course, failing to make it all right, failing to give off the simple impression of trying.  Carrying on policies that the American people rejected outright and voted to end in 2008 was, is, and continues to be inexcusable – and needs to be treated as such.

Take your pick…

Rendition/Torture

  • Destroying evidence of torture is okay:
    Central Intelligence Agency officials will not face criminal charges for the destruction of dozens of videotapes depicting the brutal interrogation of terrorism suspects, the Justice Department said Tuesday.
  • Evidence gathered via torture is okay:
    …those watching the military commission “may choose to believe that through his plea Omar finally came clean and accepted his involvement in a firefight when he was 15 years of age,” or, conversely, that they may have concluded that “this was one final coerced confession from a victimized young man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time because his father placed him there.”
  • Killing Americans abroad is okay:
    It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing, officials said. A former senior legal official in the administration of George W. Bush said he did not know of any American who was approved for targeted killing under the former president.
  • No closing Guantanamo Bay:

    When the White House acknowledged last year that it would miss Mr. Obama’s initial January 2010 deadline for shutting the prison, it also declared that the detainees would eventually be moved to one in Illinois. But impediments to that plan have mounted in Congress, and the administration is doing little to overcome them.
  • No habeas corpus for detainees:
    Today, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the Bush/Obama position, holding that even detainees abducted outside of Afghanistan and then shipped to Bagram have no right to contest the legitimacy of their detention in a U.S. federal court…
  • No humans rights violation investigations at Guantanamo:
    The Obama administration has declined requests from U.N. human rights investigators for information on secret prisons and for private interviews with inmates at the U.S. military detention center at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, U.N. officials said, dampening their hopes of greater U.S. cooperation on human rights issues.
  • No prosecution for torture:
    What’s more, Obama administration lawyers are not arguing for dismissal purely on procedural grounds. In most cases, they’re arguing that the courts should not second-guess the president’s authority in national security matters.
  • Rendition to continue with “more oversight”:
    The Obama administration will continue the Bush administration’s practice of sending terrorism suspects to third countries for detention and interrogation, but pledges to closely monitor their treatment to ensure that they are not tortured, administration officials said Monday.
  • Some people should be held by America with no trial.  Ever:
    President Obama acknowledged publicly for the first time yesterday that some detainees at Guantanamo Bay may have to be held without trial indefinitely, siding with conservative national security advocates on one of the most contentious issues raised by the closing of the military prison in Cuba.

Running the Administration

  • Corporate-food industry gets a seat at the table:
    The Vice President for Public Policy at Monsanto Corp. from 1998 until 2001, Taylor exemplifies the revolving door between the food industry and the government agencies that regulate it. He is reviled for shaping and implementing the government’s favorable agricultural biotechnology policies during the Clinton administration.
  • More Freedom of Information Act requests denied than ever before:
    One year into its promise of greater government transparency, the Obama administration is more often citing exceptions to the nation’s open records law to withhold federal records even as the number of requests for information declines, according to a review by The Associated Press of agency audits about the Freedom of Information Act.
  • No lobbyist-free administration:
    Environmental groups are working to derail the nomination of Islam Siddiqui, vice president for science and regulatory affairs at CropLife America. Green organization’s have pointed to statements Siddiqui made as a lobbyist for CropLife, while he was the Department of Agriculture undersecretary for marketing and regulatory programs, and as a senior agricultural trade adviser in the Clinton administration…
  • Revolving door between Wall Street & Washington:
    (Treasury Secretary) Geithner did not, technically speaking, break any rules by accepting the free housing. He disclosed his living arrangement, ran it past the Treasury Department’s ethics officers—who approved it—and moved out of the house before his friend was hired back by JPMorgan. And the bank last December completed repayment of the government’s bailout money.
  • Special privileges granted for 30 companies for health care:
    Nearly a million workers won’t get a consumer protection in the U.S. health reform law meant to cap insurance costs because the government exempted their employers.
  • Whistleblowing undercut:
    A leading Republican senator maintains that President Obama is violating a campaign promise with his claim that he can bypass whistle-blower protections for executive branch officials who give certain information to Congress.
  • Wikileaks Downplayed:
    “While I’m concerned about the disclosure of sensitive information from the battlefield, that could potentially jeopardize individuals or operations, the fact is these documents don’t reveal any issues that haven’t already informed our public debate on Afghanistan. Indeed, they point to the same challenges that led me to conduct an extensive review of our policy last fall,” (Obama) added.

Individual Freedoms

  • Gone was the promise to not prosecute distributors of medical marijuana:
    The Obama administration says it wants the owner of a Central California medical marijuana dispensary to be sentenced to at least five years in prison, despite his assertion that he was following state law.
  • Mandatory DNA tests for people arrested:
    President Barack Obama’s embrace of a national database to store the DNA of people arrested but not necessarily convicted of a crime is heartening to backers of the policy but disappointing to criminal-justice reformers, who view it as an invasion of privacy.
  • More people deported now than ever before:
    In 2009, the United States deported a record 387,790 people – a 5 percent increase over 2008. Nearly two months before the end of the 2010 federal fiscal year, the deportation rate is down slightly from 2009, but the number of removals is still likely to be more than triple what it was in 2001.
  • No same sex marriage:
    President Obama remains opposed to same-sex marriage despite a federal judge’s decision to strike down a ban on such marriages, a top White House adviser said Thursday.
  • PATRIOT Act continues with no reform:
    President Obama signed a one-year extension of three sections of the USA Patriot Act on Saturday without any new limits on the measures that many liberal groups and Democrats said were necessary to safeguard American civil liberties.

Environmental Concerns

  • 27 waivers granted for deep-sea drilling oil companies after Deepwater Horizon disaster:
    The waivers were granted despite President Barack Obama’s vow that his administration would launch a “relentless response effort” to stop the leak and prevent more damage to the gulf.
  • About-face on Climate Change stance:
    The Obama administration has riled up environmental groups by siding with big utilities in a lawsuit over whether states can sue power plant operators for contributing to climate change.
  • No permits needed for oil drilling:
    The federal Minerals Management Service gave permission to BP and dozens of other oil companies to drill in the Gulf of Mexico without first getting required permits from another agency that assesses threats to endangered species — and despite strong warnings from that agency about the impact the drilling was likely to have on the gulf.

Key Policy Decisions

  • ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ defended from legal challenges:
    The Obama administration is expected to appeal as soon as Wednesday a federal judge’s ruling that halted the Defense Department from enforcing its policy that bars openly gay people from military service, according to senior administration officials familiar with the government’s plans.
  • ‘Public option’ of health care killed behind the scenes:
    Even while President Obama was saying that he thought a public option was a good idea and encouraging supporters to believe his health care plan would include one, he had promised for-profit hospital lobbyists that there would be no public option in the final bill.
  • Wall Street is bailed out (again) at taxpayers’ expense:
    Question: what happens if you lose vast amounts of other people’s money? Answer: you get a big gift from the federal government — but the president says some very harsh things about you before forking over the cash.

The Military/Industrial Complex

  • $30 billion in new weapons to Israel:
    The entire contract is paid for by an ongoing US military aid package under the auspices of the US government’s Foreign Military Sales program.
  • $60 billion for weapons to Saudi Arabia:
    If it goes ahead, the sale of some 84 new F-15 jets and dozens of helicopter will be the largest U.S. arms deal ever.
  • Pakistan & The Drone War:
    One in three “militants” killed in US Predator Drone attacks in Pakistan’s remote tribal areas is in fact a civilian, according to a report by an American think tank.

To say that we are still better off now than we might have been under, say, a McCain administration is quite probably true.  To say that this is the best we can do and this is the best we deserve is an incalculable selling-short of what the country deserves.  At the rate this administration is capitulating, it would be a miracle if this list doesn’t grow by a single item between now and 2012.  It will.