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What Obama Has Wrought

Posted by WARREN MOSLER on September 10th, 2012

Looks like potentially a good MMT proponent if anyone knows him?

What Obama Has Wrought

By Glen Ford

September 5 (BAR) — The meticulously scripted spectacles of the two corporate party conventions are very poor backdrops for clear thinking – but luckily, the ordeals are almost over. What remains after the tents are folded, are the crimes of this administration and its predecessor: both horrifically evil in their own ways. History will mark Obama as the more effective evil, mainly because of the lack of opposition.

Most people don’t want to be a perceived as party-poopers – which is why the principled folks that have protested the evil antics of the corporate, imperial parties, in Tampa and Charlotte, are so much to be admired. Frankly, who wants to be the one to point out, in the middle of the festivities, that Michelle Obama was just a Chicago Daley machine hack lawyer who was rewarded with a quarter million dollar a year job of neutralizing community complaints against the omnivorous University of Chicago Hospitals? She resigned from her $50,000 seat on the board of directors of Tree-House Foods, a major Wal-Mart supplier, early in her husband’s presidential campaign. But, once in the White House, the First Lady quickly returned to flaking for Wal-Mart, praising the anti-union “death star” behemoth’s inner city groceries offensive as part of her White House healthy foods booster duties.

She also serves on the board of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs, the corporate foreign policy outfit to which her husband dutifully reported, each year, in his pucker-up to the presidency. The Obamas are a global capital-loving couple, two cynical lawyers on hire to the wealthiest and the ghastliest. They are no nicer or nastier than the Romneys and the Ryans, although the man of the house bombs babies and keeps a kill list. Yet, former “green jobs” czar Van Jones, a convention night chatterer on CNN who was fired by Obama for no good reason, chokes up when he speaks of the Black family that fronts for America – a huge act of national camouflage.

It is as useless to anchor a serious political discussion to this year’s Democratic and Republican convention speeches, as to plan the liberation of humanity during Mardi Gras. Truth is no more welcome at the former than sobriety is at the latter. So, forget the conventions and their multi-layered lies. Here are a few highlights of what Barack Obama has inflicted on the nation and the world:

Preventive Detention

George Bush could not have pulled off such an evisceration of the Bill of Rights, if only because the Democrats and an aroused street would not have allowed it. Bush knew better than to mount a full-court legislative assault on habeas corpus, and instead simply asserted that preventive detention is inherent in the powers of the presidency during times of war. It was left to Obama to pass actual legislation nullifying domestic rule of law – with no serious Democratic opposition.

Redefining War

Obama “led from behind” a 7-month Euro-American air and proxy ground war against the sovereign nation of Libya, culminating in the murder, after many attempts, of the nation’s leader. The president informed Congress that the military operation was not subject to the War Powers Act, because it had not been a “war” at all, since no Americans were known to have been killed. The doctrine was thus established – again, with little Democratic opposition – that wars are defined by the extent of U.S. casualties, no matter how many thousands of foreigners are slaughtered.

War Without Borders

Obama’s drone war policies, greatly expanded from that inherited from Bush, have vastly undermined accepted standards of international law. This president reserves the right to strike against non-state targets anywhere in the world, with whatever technical means at his disposal, without regard to the imminence of threat to the United States. The doctrine constitutes an ongoing war against peace – the highest of all crimes, now an everyday practice of the U.S.

The Merger of Banks and State

The Obama administration, with the Federal Reserve functioning as a component of the executive branch, has funneled at least $16 trillion to domestic and international banking institutions, much of it through a virtually “free money” policy that could well become permanent. This ongoing “rescue” of finance capital is unprecedented in sheer scope and in the blurring of lines between Wall Street and the State. The routine transfer of multi-billions in securities and debts and assets of all kinds between the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve and corporate accounts, has created de facto structures of governance that may be described as institutional forms of fascism.

These are world-shaking works of Obama-ism. Even Obama’s “lesser” crimes are astounding: his early calls for austerity and entitlement-axing (two weeks before his inauguration) and determined pursuit of a Grand Accommodation with the GOP (a $4 trillion deal that the Republicans rejected, in the summer of 2011) reveal a politician intent on ushering in a smoother, more rational corporate hegemony over a thoroughly pacified civil society. Part and parcel of that pacification is the de-professionalization of teaching – an ambition far beyond de-unionization.

Of course, Obama begins with the delegitimization of Black struggle, as in his 2004 Democratic Convention speech (”…there is no Black America…only the United States of America.”) To the extent that the nation’s most progressive, anti-war constituency can be neutralized, all of Obama’s corporate and military goals become more doable. The key to understanding America has always been race. With Obama, the corporate rulers have found the key that fits their needs at a time of (terminal) crisis. He is the more effective evil.

26 Responses to “What Obama Has Wrought”

  1. Dan Lynch Says:

    Glen is a radical populist, best known for being one of the few black leaders to call out Obama for being a closet conservative.

    He hasn’t talked a lot about economic theory that I recall.

    Reply

    ESM Reply:

    @Dan Lynch,

    The guy is off his rocker, but to the extent that his key insight is valid (which I believe it is), it is not that Obama is a closet conservative. Obama is as far from a conservative as you can get in the US and still retain a patina of respectability.

    No, the key insight is that a Democratic president can get away with a whole lot more than a Republican one. There is an inherent trust (ridiculously misplaced in my opinion) by the left, the media, and even the broad center in the US that a Democratic president, and particularly a very liberal one who talks a big game about civil liberties, will not abuse the vast powers granted to him. Unfortunately, the problem is that presidents are human beings, regardless of political persuasion (this truism, by the way, forms the basis of conservatism).

    The practical reality is that if you want the US president to have limited powers and be restrained by popular pressure as to how much freedom he has to reward cronies, punish political enemies, spy on citizens, kill people arbitrarily throughout the world, and launch wars, you had better hope that the president is a Republican.

    Pace Bill Clinton’s job arithmetic:

    “In the past 100 years, 630,000 Americans were killed in foreign wars. So what’s the body count? Republicans: 30,000. Democrats: 600,000.”

    A close look at the numbers reveals that, even among Democratic presidents, there is heavy skew towards the most progressive ones. I do not believe this is a coincidence.

    Reply

  2. FXTradeX6 Says:

    I don’t know about a good proponent of MMT. Maybe a bit too controversial and could draw some unwanted attention. Just my $0.02.

    Reply

  3. Ed Rombach Says:

    “The routine transfer of multi-billions in securities and debts and assets of all kinds between the U.S. Treasury, the Federal Reserve and corporate accounts, has created de facto structures of governance that may be described as institutional forms of fascism.”

    Ford is dead on in this statement. I often refer to it as financial fascism.

    “Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the merger of state and corporate power.” — Benito Mussolini

    Although in all fairness to Mussolini, there is some dispute as to whether he really made that statement.

    Reply

  4. SteveK9 Says:

    A little too pessimistic, but not far off the mark. Policy-wise Obama would have been a Republican 30 years ago. His health plan was proposed by Nixon (who once introduced price controls throughout the US … can you even imagine that now??).

    Reply

    chewitup Reply:

    @SteveK9,
    JFK would be considered considered conservative today.

    Good points from an African-American perspective. “The key to understanding America has always been race” skews the argument, but his piece is well thought out.

    Reply

  5. Karl Says:

    I actually think it’s pretty important for MMT to not be associated with these kinds of voices. Hearing MMT arguments the first time can sound pretty out there to people on the surface so it’s important for proponents to not weigh them down with any additional ‘hard to swallow’ baggage. One huge change at a time!

    Reply

    John O'Connell Reply:

    @Karl,

    Hear, hear. No matter how correct he is in some of his statements, he’s poison as an associate.

    Reply

    Chris Reply:

    @Karl, Agreed!

    Reply

  6. Monica Smith Says:

    Envy bites all kinds of people. As does the impulse to repeat what is heard, regardless of whether it makes any sense. Ford is into leadership and is frustrated that his has not been recognized.

    Reply

  7. Adam (ak) Says:

    “Obama “led from behind” a 7-month Euro-American air and proxy ground war against the sovereign nation of Libya, culminating in the murder, after many attempts, of the nation’s leader.”

    The author seems to defend a state terrorist who among many dirty deeds, mass-murdered citizens of the United States.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pan_Am_Flight_103

    If Obama doesn’t care about the international law, why did he not liquidate other leaders hostile to the West? Because Gaddafi was an outlaw. Also – he was not killed by an American soldier or a missile fired from a drone (what saved $10m or more) but pulled from a drain and lynched by the mob of his compatriots. In my opinion Gaddafi well deserved that fate.

    An enemy is an enemy not a partner in a televised debate. It is this kind of idiotic thinking demonstrated by the author of the article, blurring lines between “us” and “them” what led Neville Chamberlain to shake hands with Adolf Hitler in the vain hope of rescuing the peace. From Chamberlain to gas chambers…

    So we have to respect and love our enemies. Ah but class war and racial hatred (“Black struggle”) is OK. I heard this kind of stuff before … circa 1982 living in a communist country. If Mr Ford doesn’t like America or West he still can relocate to one of a few remaining oasis of progress and working class liberation.

    Where does this kind of appeasement which is mentioned in the article lead to? To a politically-correct, thoroughly brainwashed and emotionally castrated post-Western society. In a globalised world there is no splendid isolation, nowhere to hide.

    You can keep saying sorry… I am proud of the fact that I don’t follow a paedophile who consumed a marriage with a 9 years old child.

    https://twitter.com/Liz_Cheney/status/245641613345431552

    If MMT which is a school of economic thought is to be associated with people like Glen Ford (just check his “Black Agenda Report”) then it has zero chance to find any supporters among normal Western people.

    Reply

    ESM Reply:

    @Adam (ak),

    “If Obama doesn’t care about the international law, why did he not liquidate other leaders hostile to the West?”

    Ummm. What makes you think Obama doesn’t like leaders hostile to the West?

    “Where does this kind of appeasement which is mentioned in the article lead to? To a politically-correct, thoroughly brainwashed and emotionally castrated post-Western society.”

    Obama said this in response to the attacks on our embassy in Cairo and our consulate in Tripoli (in which 4 US personnel were killed, including the US Ambassador to Libya): “While the United States rejects efforts to denigrate the religious beliefs of others, we must all unequivocally oppose the kind of senseless violence that took the lives of these public servants.”

    Winston Churchill, he is not.

    Reply

    WARREN MOSLER Reply:

    Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2012 9:08 AM
    To: Dave Vealey
    Subject: *CHINA SAYS IT IS `REACHING OUT’ TO ESM ON POTENTIAL COOPERATION

    ESM, you’re moving up in the world!
    ;)

    Reply

    ESM Reply:

    @WARREN MOSLER,

    Yes, well, I’m not happy that the German Constitutional Court ruled I couldn’t have a banking license, but at least I’m still playing a role. I told China I’d get back to them tomorrow. Busy today – it’s my turn to drive the school carpool.

    Neil Wilson Reply:

    @ESM

    “I’m not happy that the German Constitutional Court ruled I couldn’t have a banking license, but at least I’m still playing a role.”

    You don’t need one. Your mate Draghi has the platinum one and he’s prepared to act as your wingman. You lend Spain 1EUR and Draghi will come up with the other 2 trillion.

    Sergei Reply:

    @WARREN MOSLER,

    hysterical! ESM, congrats!

    WARREN MOSLER Reply:

    How about at least going to Congress for a vote on assassinations?

    Reply

    vincent Reply:

    @WARREN MOSLER,
    Amen! Since when do we kill an American citizen with a drone strike without due process. Not the kind of reform i was hoping for, and makes me deeply sad that something so fundamentally wrong hasn’t triggered widespread outrage. At least if he were an MMTer, we could give Obama that. Not at all.

    Reply

    Gary Reply:

    @Adam (ak),

    There is nothing more manly than starting a war. Much manlier than blurring the lines between us and them…
    And manliest of all is the nuclear war, of course… That will show them…

    Reply

    Adam (ak) Reply:

    @Gary,
    I disagree. If you do nothing just blur the lines, you will be enslaved. I do not advocate waging wars against everyone like Don Quixote G. W. Bush but appeasement is just as stupid. We do not live in the world of exclusive-or alternatives, we can do better even without asking the Congress to authorise sending 50 marines to capture or kill the terrorists who murdered the American Ambassador.

    We don’t have to nuke Iran but if nothing efficient is done to stop uranium enrichment then Iran may nuke Israel. They are perfectly capable of giving a few nuclear devices to a terrorist group in order to get rid of the “Zionist entity”.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahmoud_Ahmadinejad_and_Israel
    Do you remember Hitler? He was also considered to be an insane moron when he wrote “Mein Kampf” – until he (and Stalin) murdered 6 million citizens of a certain Central European country, half of them Jews. (Disclosure: my ancestry is at least 75% Slavonic).

    Personally I will never agree that someone or something cannot be debated just because someone can be offended.

    People living in the UK cannot even publicly express critical views about Islam based on the work of a mainstream historian out of fear of being assassinated:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/2012/sep/11/channel-4-cancels-screening-islam

    What is next? MMT may also be banned as going against teachings of the Prophet in regards to usury:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_banking#Usury_in_Islam

    Do you remember the era of “samizdat” anti-communist leaflets? I distributed them several times when I was a teenager, too. This was my political initiation. That’s why I clearly distinguish between the liberal Western culture (“us”) and the rest going against the liberal Western culture (“them”).

    This does not mean that there are no serious issues of social injustice and economic mis-allocation within the Western system or that the Westerners never commit crimes against other nations or that West is not responsible for the degradation of the global environment. But we (including Mr Glen Ford who in fact hates the West – just check out his other articles) are privileged to at least debate these issues precisely because we live in liberal societies.

    That’s why the Western civilisation is worth defending.

    Reply

    Gary Reply:

    @Adam (ak),
    So who or what is US “appeasing”?
    And where do you feel that Western liberal culture is being attacked?

    In my view – the biggest threat to the Western liberalism is rising right wing fundamentalism in the west. No external threat is even close

    Adam (ak) Reply:

    Gary,

    1. Who is appeased?

    Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. The West is doing the same they did with North Korea and the result will be the same – they will eventually get the nukes and they will be able to at least blackmail the neighbours.

    Saudis financing Islamic extremists and the Pakistani Secret Service.

    China (in terms of economic policy) – what is a much more important issue than all the attacks by religious fanatics and terrorists together. Why do American politicians believe that they have to “borrow” from China? Why can’t they just slap 20% or 70% tariffs if they don’t want to run budget deficits high enough to fully utilise productive capacities of the American economy? Either way.

    2. How is the Western liberal culture being attacked?

    I would rather say how this culture decays,

    The killing of American ambassador is the most obvious example of an external threat. The effective introduction of Islamic religious censorship in some European countries in the name of “not offending the religion and avoiding provoking religious tensions” is a result of dithering and progressive political correctness. Also – drowning in the noise of rubbish corporate propaganda and useless “news” about a man biting dog any serious debate about the economy and society. Why is iPhone 5 more relevant than the unemployment rate? This is effectively the same threat.

    3. I agree that the main problems are internal not external – it is “the decay”. I don’t see right wing or religious fundamentalism as the primary threat. As in 1933 the right wing fanatism is a reaction to an attempt to deflate the global economy. At least in Europe they want to deflate the economy to force the poor to compete with the underpaid Asian workers and force the South Western Europeans to replace the migrant workers from North Africa and other Muslim regions.

    Fanaticism is a reaction to hijacking the states by a subgroup of wealthy corporate rulers.

    A democratic state should be limited in power, should operate in the interest of the majority of the population, should defend the interests of individuals and minority groups and should have transparent political processes.

    Globalisation and international integration (as in the EU) were supposed to eliminate once and forever the threat to global peace posed by nation-states acting in their own self-interest and fighting for scarce resources. Unfortunately the process has been hijacked. The interests of majority groups are no longer represented by the states. This gives rise to extremism.

    Also – some Post Keynesian economists refuse to acknowledge that the workforce when pushed into poverty may work harder – and this is exactly what the corporate rulers want. Imagine one country where 100% of the working age people are employed and everyone works 25 hours a week. In another country only 80% of the people are employed but everyone works 60 hours a week for very little money. Which country has a higher GDP (assuming the same technology)? In nominal terms the first one may fare better. However in real terms it may be the second – they export the surplus.

    This is the microeconomic explanation why socialism in Eastern Europe failed: everyone had a job and people were quite well educated but very few people ever bothered to work.

    So how do you make people work 60 hours a week to be able to compete with the Asian workers living in a large post-communist country? The rest are side-effects. (Yes I know that I will be told to re-read Bill Mitchell’s blog but I can defend my position).

    Jose Guilherme Reply:

    @Adam (ak),

    Well, I guess it’s been defended all right, with many instruments: for instance, the alliance between the U.S. and the most fundamentalist Islamic State in the World (Saudi Arabia)inaugurated by the great FDR some 70 years ago…

    The fact (as opposed to ideologic curtains and political marketing) is that for reasons of state the U.S. has been quite comfortable with supporting fundamentalism, including its islamic version, whenever it thinks it suits its strategic needs.

    This is only natural. Great powers don’t give a damn about ideology – they pursue interests, implacably.

    Sometimes thinks go wrong as a result of said options but, hey, as Donald Rumsfeld used to say “shit happens” – right?.

    Matt Franko Reply:

    @Adam (ak), “That’s why I clearly distinguish between the liberal Western culture (“us”) and the rest going against the liberal Western culture (“them”).”

    You got that right Adam… I for sure am one of “us” too…. good stuff here. rsp,

    Gary Reply:

    @Adam (ak),
    Iran is a bad example of appeasement. If embargo and war threats are appeasement then what is not? Outright war? Public execution of leaders?

    Saudis are suppliers of critical resourse? Would you prefer if they were treated as Iraq?

    China is American sweatshop. Only strong central leadership there makes them more more than that and is probably their only hope.

    Islam is definitely more affected by Western culture than the other way around.

    Soviet satelite economies collapsed because of ideological persecution of private initiative and enterprise and not because of full employment.
    Would you say that higher inemployment countries are richer as a rule? I would disagree.

    Poor people working 60 hours a week or not at all – is not a model of succesful society

    Adam (ak) Reply:

    Gary,

    Unfortunately several points need further clarification.

    1. American policy towards Iran and the Middle East in general has been so far quite misguided and inefficient – not only Obama but more likely his predecessor are responsible. Either the direction changes dramatically or we will face the prospect of several Middle Eastern countries, possibly ruled by religious extremists, brandishing nukes in a few years time.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/22/opinion/the-bomb-and-the-bomber.html?_r=1

    2. You are saying that there is no alternative. Well this is exactly the point I am making. There is no alternative inside the space where the current logic applies. The state institutions have been hijacked and the democratic process no longer guarantees the homoeostasis of the society. The current trends can be extrapolated only in one way – in 20 years time America will lose its global superpower status regardless whether its economy is fiscally stimulated or not – unless there is a dramatic change in the direction, similar to what happened in the late 1950s and early 1960s. The era of domination of the Western civilisation will belong to the past – as predicted by the professional fatalist and godfather of the Democratic Party foreigh policy Z. Brzezinski.

    People seeking prosperity will look towards East Asia. If you think that China is a sweatshop you need to understand that they are progressing very rapidly towards building highly advanced civilisation based on modern science and technology.

    3. It is irrelevant whether Islam is affected by Western culture. The majority of religious people are moderate. Personally I am not interested in converting or de-converting anyone. The point I was making was about the well-organised fanatics who were able to successfully challenge the principles of freedom of speech in some Western European countries.

    4. I am FOR not AGAINST full employment but not in a way it was implemented in the Soviet Bloc. BTW the so-called “hydraulic Keynesianism” also did not work well in the West in the 1970s.

    Only withdrawing unemployment benefits and offering low-paid jobs to anyone (Job Guarantee) could solve both problems of unemployment and inflation at the same time.

    I did not say that there are objective benefits to the society coming from high unemployment but I do say that there are powerful political forces pushing in that direction especially in Europe. NB it is hard to define what objective benefit is.

    There was a rhymed saying in Poland “whether you stand up or lie down you’re entitled to get 5000PLZ anyway” (“czy sie stoi czy sie lezy piec tysiecy sie nalezy”). This illustrates the essence of the demoralising effects of communist employment policies on the attitude of workers. It is very sad that artificially high unemployment was used as a tool to suppress the inflation and force people to work more in Eastern Europe. The Chinese did the right thing – they left tight control of the macroeconomic processes in place and did not kill the state owned companies and farms at once – just allowed them to slowly wither and fade away. More carrots and fewer sticks.

    Anyway I think that the outcome which I outlined above can be averted. How? I don’t know but I would not trust the people who had 4 years to fix the system and managed to achieve so little.

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