… Rendition and Human Rights Violations
When Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the US in January, President Obama soon brought the issue of human rights in China, in particular the circumstances of the 2011 Nobel peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, who was charged with suspicion of “inciting subversion” and was sentenced in December 2009 to 11 years in prison. The response from China when reprimanded on their human rights issues.. “Who are you to lecture us on such things? Look at your own country first.”
Ten months after his arrest on charges of leaking classified documents to WikiLeaks, Army Pfc. Bradley Manning is systematically being stripped of his humanity by his warders at the brig inside the Marine base at Quantico. Without a trial or conviction of crimes against the state, Private Manning is forced to endure punishment that certainly fits the definition of torture. He is being held in solitary confinement in a tiny cell 23 hours a day, allowed no exercise other than walking around dragging his ankle shackles during the 24th hour. Under surveillance, every single minute of every day, if his hands aren’t outside his blanket while sleeping, or if his head is turned toward the wall, the young soldier is awakened. This treatment certainly is not a new method created just for Private Manning. The same tactic was routinely employed by the notorious NKVD, the secret police of Lenin and Stalin, on Soviet dissidents in the basement of Moscow’s Lubyanka prison.
Hillary Clinton gives a speech in which she supported and encouraged protesters to continue asserting their rights in various countries. She lectured about freedom and condemned governments who don’t allow free expression.
During this lecture, a former CIA analyst remained standing near the front of the crowd, in silent protest against Hillary Clinton and the establishment that she represents. All he did was stand up and turn his back as she lectured. He was quickly taken down, beaten and hauled to jail. Hillary never even blinked.
The speeches that Obama gave during his campaigning were inspiring. The thoughts of voters were…”George W. Bush may have destroyed all credibility of the US in the world stage but this was our chance to go in a new direction, make things right again.” Obama words during one campaign speech..“I was clear throughout this campaign and was clear throughout this transition that under my administration the United States does not torture,” Obama said… “We will abide by the Geneva Conventions. We will uphold our highest ideals.”
When Obama gave a speech before the UN Human Rights Council in 2009… “Make no mistake, the United States will not look the other way in the face of serious human rights abuses. The truth must be told, the facts brought to light and the consequences faced”
In its first months in office, the Obama administration sought to protect Bush administration officials facing criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies that governed interrogations of detained terrorist suspects. A “confidential” April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid to the State Department—one of the 251,287 cables obtained by WikiLeaks—details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.
Meanwhile in the United States, Obama announced that he will not pursue prosecution of anyone involved from the CIA or other agencies. Politicians that publicly state they approved torture such as water-boarding and that it was routinely used, go on publicity tours and talk shows to sell books.
Less than a month after signing an executive order to close the Guantanamo Bay prison camp, President Obama has quietly agreed to keep the use of rendition and also to keep denying the right to trial for hundreds more terror suspects held at a makeshift camp in Afghanistan that human rights lawyers have dubbed “Obama’s Guantanamo.”
Far worse than Guantanamo, Bagram has approximately 600 prisoners being held in what is called only “Black Jail”, a secret prison where the Red Cross is denied access and any information requested by such groups such as the ACLU are categorically denied. In the secretive U.S. detentions process, suspects are usually nabbed in the darkness and then sent to one of a number of detention areas on military bases, often on the slightest suspicion and without the knowledge of their families. This process has become even more feared and hated in Afghanistan than coalition airstrikes. The night raids and detentions, little known or understood outside of these Pashtun villages, are slowly turning Afghans against the very forces they greeted as liberators just a few years ago.”
Even as Hillary Clinton spoke these words before the UN, the world continues to wait for the leader with the courage to act upon them.
“A commitment to human rights starts with universal standards and with holding everyone accountable to those standards, including ourselves… When injustice anywhere is ignored, justice everywhere is denied. Acknowledging and remedying mistakes does not make us weaker, it reaffirms the strengths of our principles and institutions.”
…Wall Street Reform and Culpability
President Obama pushed very hard for a financial reform bill, reached across the aisle – seemingly staking his presidency upon it. What he didn’t push very hard for, what he didn’t appear to push at all – were the actual parts of the package which might have effectively prevented another financial catastrophe.
The Brown-Kaufman amendment would have set hard size caps and hard capital requirements for banks. It lost 33-61 with 27 Democrats voting against it.
The Merkley-Levin amendment would have set capital requirements for hedge funds, banned proprietary trading and prevented the conflicts of interest that allowed banks to sell securities they knew to be toxic.It was attached to Brown-Kaufman and quietly killed.
The Volcker Rule to ban proprietary trading by FDIC-backed depository institutions wasn’t killed, instead it has been relegated to the Financial Stability Oversight Committee, a nine member group under control of the Fed. The FSOC has been tasked with preparing a report on how a possible Volcker Rule might be used. Also in the Fed will be the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Elizabeth Warren’s brainchild. She will not be the head but will have some input into how it will be administered.
Is it possible the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill is the best Obama could have delivered? We’ll never know. Obama certainly didn’t jawbone anyone to get Brown-Kaufman passed. He did nothing to prevent attacks on Warren by Dodd and Timmy Geithner. Had the president fought the good fight against an entrenched financial sector – really fought rather than making a fatcat speech then apologizing the next day during a conference call – he might not have gotten any more than the zero Dodd-Frank provides – but we’d have known he was more concerned with effective legislation than with his legacy.
… Betrayal of Unions
As the unions collective bargaining powers were being stripped away in Wisconsin by Republican legislators, larger and larger groups of angry protesters were not just going to stand by and give up these hard earned tools that have been in place for decades. So they rallied at the Wisconsin State Capitol, day after day, trying to make their voices be heard.
Jackie Calmes reported in The New York Times: “When West Wing officials discovered that the Democratic National Committee had mobilized Mr. Obama’s national network to support the protests [in Wisconsin and Ohio], they angrily reined in the staff at the party headquarters.” The Times story goes on to say that administration officials saw the events beyond Washington as a “distraction” from the optimistic “win the future” message that the president unveiled in his State of the Union speech. He spent last Friday talking about the need to “educate and innovate” with Jeb Bush in Florida on one of the president’s begging-for-bipartisanship road shows.
That’s right – a Democratic president considers the men and women who have stood out in the cold in the Wisconsin winter to have a voice in their government a distraction from his positive message.
… Drone Attacks
Obama has initiated a policy of fighting the war in Afghanistan and into Pakistan that is increasingly relying on the use of “special forces” teams and remotely piloted drones. Growing from only 167 drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) in 2001, the U.S. Air Force now employs over 5,500 remotely piloted drones, many of which are used in Iraq and Afghanistan. The CIA, which lacks any transparency or accountability, employs their own drones for assassination missions in Pakistan. The Brookings Institute reports a 10-to-1 civilian-to-insurgent kill ratio when using drones. For every 100 civilians killed…. men, women and children, they kill 10 insurgents.
Loyola Law School professor David Glazier, a former Navy surface warfare officer, said the pilots operating the drones from afar could — in theory — be hauled into court in the countries where the attacks occur. Under this view, CIA drone pilots are liable to prosecution under the law of any jurisdiction where attacks occur for any injuries, deaths or property damage they cause,” Glazier continued. “But under the legal theories adopted by our government in prosecuting Guantanamo detainees, these CIA officers as well as any higher-level government officials who have authorized or directed their attacks are committing war crimes.”
Pure hypocrisy that the Obama administration is quick to condemn other governments for inhumane acts but contends that we have the right to do as we please and to keep our violations of international law and human decency from public view.
… Offshore Drilling and the BP Disaster
“We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch – we are going back from whence we came.” JFK
When I was 13, growing up on boats in the Caribbean basin, the Gulf of Mexico was my ‘exotic ocean’ where we would navigate mysterious places like ‘bayous’, passing beneath overhung moss on the St. Johns’ river inside of Florida. The Gulf has been my guide, the ‘red, right, returning’ of Father Ocean as it swirled and traveled down through the sea grasses of the Dry Tortugas, skimming past Key West and snaking north between Bahamas, Bermuda and the east coast of the United States. My lifelong boundary of ‘how far I could go’ … never day tripping past that unmistakable indigo depth with jeweled cobalt surfaces that you recognize as the Gulf Stream. I am tied to this holy place, this sacred Ocean … whence I came and where I will eventually return.
On April 20th at 7 am – BP cancels a recommended cement bond log test. Conducting the test would have taken 9–12 hours and $128,000. By canceling the cement test BP paid only $10,000. Crew leaves on 11:15 am flight. BP officials gather on the platform to celebrate seven years without an injury on the rig. The planned moving of the Deepwater Horizon to another location was 43 days past due and the delay had cost BP $21 million.
At 9:45 p.m. CDT – Gas, oil and concrete from the Deepwater Horizon explode up the wellbore onto the deck and then catches fire. The explosion kills 11 platform workers and injures 17 others; another 98 people survive without serious physical injury. The next day the USCG arrived to asses the damages. They ‘estimated’ that “Potential environmental threat is 700,000 gallons of diesel on board the Deepwater Horizon and estimated potential of 8,000 barrels per day of crude oil, if the well were to completely blowout.Most of the current pollution has been mitigated by the fire. There is some surface sheening extending up to 2 miles from the source.”
One month later, after shortfall estimates of the number of barrels of crude escaping daily, the USCG and President Obama proceed to do what has turned out to be ineffective and totally whitewash remedies. Per day, the guesstimate of independent oil drilling experts put the daily spoilage at anywhere between 70,000 to 100,000 barrels of crude a day. The number of barrels escaping is lawfully directly effective to the payout damages dues by big oil.
They disputed the numbers and the USCG backed their play. The USCG backed everything that BP began to cover up the damages including, on May 15th, the dispersal at source of the dangerous chemical dispersant, Corexit. The carnage of sea life, aquatic bird life continues to this day and the last victim species to reveal life threatening illness are the human residents of the Gulf basin. The EPA ordered BP to stop using Corexit on May 23rd and they ignored this with the complicity of the Oval Office in the form of the USCG allowing and working with BP to begin covering up what could be …???? They began to bury sand and keep the seas and airspace free of investigation.
Live broadcasts of the spill brought new totals of leakage that BP could not avoid and Obama was forced to make some kind of demand. This demand, forced the US Gov to accept 18,000 to 20,000 barrels a day leakage estimate. A moratorium on oil drilling in the Gulf was enforced by the White House on May 27th. The summer of 2009 was a film noir of crude encrusted shorelines, ravaged sea life and birds and the deep sea puddles of crude / corexit death that consumed countless sea mammals. The acid like effect of the corexit rolling onto the shorelines was ominous.
Republican dumbfucks run away from the science knowing it will cost BP precious profits and notably apologized to the petrochemical corporation for the congressional hearing on the event. Unbelievably outrageous! On June 15th the President addressed America on the spill with ersatz platitudes and vacant promises. By now people are beginning to show symptoms of strange rashes, bloating, dizziness, lesions and hair loss. The unacknowledged damages accruing were ignored by the MSM and the Oval Office.
The ensconced Republican dominant politico’s in the Gulf region typically used whatever issues they might for MSM time or blatantly began to support the cover ups and agenda of BP. Haley Barbour designated a ‘commission’ to disperse the BP restoration monies among Rethug ‘small’ businesses at a press conference where Linda St. Martin trounced him with indignation and facts. He let her ‘rant’ and then did exactly what he wanted to. So it has gone with small exceptions like Gov Crist’s work to clean up the panhandle beaches of Florida. Small concessions have been made, that’s it.
Watershed volunteers, Hands Across the Sands, Costal Warriors and Save the Gulf have sprung up and are consistently working to raise awareness to the ever developing spoilage and death of the environment. The University of Florida hired out a deep sea sub and grid inspected the deep / sea floor / bathos of the Gulf. The calculate 76% of bathos covered in crude and corexit. Ongoing through the whole painful endlessness of it all, President Obama ineffectually responded to the needs of the imeadiate citizens of the region.
To this day, they have been swept under the corporate rug by the White House. While there is presently talk of a law suit under the auspices of the Clean Water Act by the US Gov… it’s rings hollow. March of 2011 has seen the reopening of deepwater drilling in the dead Gulf of Mexico.
Who do you think applied for and was given the first deepwater well permit? BP!
It’s outrageous. There have been and continue to be too many incidents to list here of crude / corexit destruction and death in the Gulf basin. Deepwater Horizon could very well end up costing the United States of America it’s complete health. The careless profits of big oil, big coal, big natural gas are industrial murder sanctioned by Barack Obama. America will arrive DOA.
In the months following the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig that exploded on April 20, the Obama administration granted oil and gas companies at least 27 exemptions from doing in-depth environmental studies of oil exploration and production in the Gulf of Mexico. 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. One of them was dated Friday — the day after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he was temporarily halting offshore drilling.
… Obama the Illusion
The Obama that people voted for in 2008 is an illusion, a mirage. Just like the poor soul wandering in the desert in search of water, then suddenly seeing the oasis in the distance. A figment of the imagination, spawned by the need for hope and change.
While Obama’s performance in the White House makes the Republican Party seem redundant, it’s the mirage that continues to be what people cling to. Over and over again, they constantly make excuses for the politician that doesn’t even exist.
“He’s doing the best he can” or “No politician is perfect” or “Progressives are not being realistic”. Meanwhile the REAL Obama continues on with actions that would be screamed about as horrendous if George W. Bush were doing them.