Will Obama Violate The Constitution?

This post will give all the mental midgets something to bitch about for years to come.  As soon as the Repubs realize this they will be on every talk show in a partisan way.  So much for the much coveted bi-partisanship.  I offer this political fodder for those scratching their heads.

According to the Constitution Section 6:

[2] No Senator or Representative shall, during the Time for which he was elected, be appointed to any civil Office under the Authority of the United States, which shall have been created, or the Emoluments whereof shall have been encreased during such time; and no Person holding any Office under the United States, shall be a Member of either House during his Continuance in Office.

So since the pay of the Secretary of State was increased last year and Sen. Clinton was a member of Congress at the time, then she should be unavailable to be offered or to accept the position of Secretary of State.

Question?  Was not Obama a professor of Constitutional law?  Should he know better?


Why Is The Anti-War Left Silent?

That is the question I keep asking and so far do not have an acceptable answer.  So I was not going to go there, but since few others are maybe I can help start the conversation.

Barack Obama’s vague campaign promises of “change” are rapidly evaporating as the key positions in the next administration are filled with veterans of the US political establishment. Far from ending war abroad and social reaction at home, Obama’s choices underline the essential continuity with the policies of the Bush administration.

Nothing expresses the right-wing orientation of Obama’s foreign policy more than the confirmation Tuesday that he will retain Bush’s defense secretary, Robert Gates, in his post when the new foreign policy team is formally announced after the Thanksgiving holiday. Gates, who took over from Donald Rumsfeld in late 2006, has been responsible for the continued bloody prosecution of the US wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Gates will stay on in a line-up that is stacked with proponents of US militarism. Hilary Clinton, who supported the criminal invasion of Iraq from the outset and notoriously declared that the United States should “obliterate” Iran if it attacked Israel, is to become the secretary of state.

Retired Marine General James Jones, a former NATO commander and current executive at the US Chamber of Commerce, is to be installed as national security adviser. After a 40-year military career, he served last year as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s special envoy on Middle East Security and conducted a congressional investigation into the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. His view that the war in Iraq caused the US to “take its eye off the ball” in Afghanistan is in line with Obama’s insistence that US military operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan must be intensified.

Far from bringing an end to US militarism as tens of millions of American voters hoped for, the Obama administration is preparing to consolidate a US presence in Iraq and escalate the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The prospect of a dangerous new war looms as Obama’s advisers lay out their plans for confronting Iran.

The foreign policy heavyweights who supported Obama for president clearly hope to extend this “brilliance” in duping people onto the world stage as the US continues to aggressively pursue its economic and strategic interests.

Someone needs to step forward and bring this to the attention of the people who, in good faith, voted for Obama and his anti-war agenda.

Will It Be Class Warfare?

Unlike the auto CEOs, who faced two days of scolding at congressional hearings before leaving Washington empty-handed last week, the head of Citigroup, Vikram Pandit, didn’t even have to put in an appearance, much less wait for a congressional vote. All of the terms for the bank’s bailout were negotiated behind closed doors with Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman Sachs, and other senior officials.

While the auto executives were lectured about everything from their management failures to flying to Washington in private jets-and the media shrieked outrage over the “gold-plated benefits” of auto workers-no one grilled Pandit on how he could dare ask for a taxpayer-funded bailout as head of a crisis-ridden bank that awarded him a bonus of $30 million worth of stock at the beginning of this year, on top of the $165 million it paid him for his hedge fund as part of the deal to hire him. There were no sneering comments from the cable news “pundits” about how someone living in an $18 million apartment next to New York’s Central Park could come “cup-in-hand” to the government.

And, while Obama and the Democratic leadership in Congress demanded that the auto companies submit “a plan for future viability” before they receive a dime, no such plan was forthcoming from Citigroup. All that has been released to the public is a half-page joint memo from the Treasury Department, Federal Reserve and FDIC which announces the government bailout while committing Citigroup to nothing.

How is this blatant double standard and hypocrisy to be explained? Some have suggested that the Big Three deserve to fail because of gross mismanagement. But what can one say of the management at Citibank, which managed to lose more than 90 percent of the company’s value—from $244 billion to $20.5 billion-in the space of two years? More importantly, the source of these huge losses is largely the bank’s reckless speculation in the form of subprime lending and securitization-all in pursuit of astronomical bonuses for Citigroup’s traders and senior executives.

In the impending bankruptcy of the auto companies, the ruling elite sees an opportunity to carry out a massive attack on living standards, working conditions and social benefits, thereby forcing the working class to pay for the crisis.

The aim is to make an example of the auto workers, whose compensation historically has been a benchmark for the working class as a whole. This can be achieved either through outright bankruptcy and the potential liquidation of millions of jobs, or through a so-called rescue, extended in exchange for the decimation of wages, the ripping up of health and pension benefits for those on the job and the elimination of pensions and health insurance for hundreds of thousands of retirees.

Such an assault would be used as a precedent for similar attacks against every section of working people throughout the country.

You may not agree with the premise of class warfare, but only time will prove me right or wrong.  Remember!  I will have no problem telling you. “I told you so”.

Obama And Latin America

U.S. hegemony in Latin America has been maintained historically through military and paramilitary force, economic coercion, and since the mid-1980s through the additional strategy of manipulating civil society through a complex of programs implemented under the banner of “democracy promotion.” Democracy promotion is the topic of William Robinson’s 1996 book, Promoting Polyarchy: Globalization, US Intervention, and Hegemony (Cambridge University Press).

Although the motor behind imperialism is first and foremost capitalist accumulation, public opinion requires that the government justify such violent and undemocratic actions as overthrowing and assassinating presidents and propping up dictatorships with liberal rationales; since WWII this cover has always been the defense of “freedom” from communism. However, since the USSR disappeared as an ideological enemy, the Clinton administration justified its considerable military support to Colombia as fighting the war on drugs; Clinton also escalated corporate globalization under the guise of democracy promotion. When the Bush administration decided to carry out military coups against Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez and Haitian President Jean Bertrand Aristide, it needed a more convincing justification, so it presented the narrative that both presidents had been overthrown by popular uprisings—a story that was planted in the media by the same “democracy promotion” networks that were orchestrating the coups on the ground.

Barack Obama seems to be oblivious to the sea change in Latin America, portraying the advance of the left as a threat which came about through the incompetence of the Bush administration, who allowed a “dangerous demagogue” like Hugo Chavez to rise to power.

If Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua are the bad guys, the good guys are represented by the Uribe government in Colombia, easily the biggest human rights violator in the hemisphere and the most corrupt (and for some reason embraced by the Clinton administration). Obama defended Colombia’s illegal March 1 attack on a guerrilla camp in neighboring Ecuador, where 25 people (including four Mexican students) were pulverized by aircraft artillery as they slept. His official statement: “The Colombian people have suffered for more than four decades at the hands of a brutal terrorist insurgency, and the Colombian government has every right to defend itself.” This is almost exactly what he said about Israel during its last invasion and bombing of Lebanon.

President Obama has a decision to make: either he will be on the side of the people and ecological sustainability, or on the side of transnational capital. He cannot steer a neutral course because he will be in charge of two enormous bureaucracies–the State Department and the National Security Agency–which have as their mission the removal of all obstacles to the accumulation of corporate profits. If he decides to switch sides, it will be in defiance not only of powerful economic and military interests, but of the team of advisors he has so far relied on. He will have to let them all go and bring in an entirely new group of people. The chance of that happening is next-to-none.

The New “New Deal”.

At least that is what they are trying to call the Obama plan for the economy.  Back on 9 Sept 08 I wrote when everyone was talking about the prospect of change coming to Washington,

“Sadly, history will repeat itself and change will not be coming to the political system. To answer the original question –NO CHANGE IS COMING!”  BTW, this is my way of saying, “I told you so”!

So when I hear that Obama’s plan is the New New Deal I shudder.

The present crisis is the outcome of the protracted decline of American capitalism, which is massively indebted, has seen a decades-long decimation of its manufacturing base and whose financial system has become the destructive engine of a deepening worldwide slump. There is no modern New Deal forthcoming from an Obama administration.

Moreover, the one implemented by Roosevelt more than 70 years ago failed to overcome the Depression. That was achieved only through a second world war that annihilated millions of people.

But astonishment at this turn of events, far less satisfaction at the belated acknowledgment of the state’s proper role in the market, should not lead critics of financial capitalism astray. Rather, they should argue firmly that this plan must not be a golden parachute for a small elite of people and firms paid for by the country’s already hard-pressed citizens: rather, it must become a golden opportunity to create a new model of and a new phase in the US economy itself.

The taxpayers’ money should not go to bail out a financial sector that has brought the country to the most severe crisis since 1929 – and which will have (like the great-depression era) economic and political reverberations across the world. The US has a strong banking sector, whose regulation and capital requirements have allowed it to survive the crisis of the financial sector. The fact that the two titans of Wall Street, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, have voted with their feet by joining the banking sector is another indication of a possibility of returning to a financial model centred more on banking – with more regulation, stiffer capital-reserves requirements, and fewer leveraging options.

As written in the magazine, The Nation:

What we really need is a new New Deal: a systematic approach to the financial and economic problems of the United States.

Firstly, we need relief for ordinary Americans. At the moment, four million households are behind on their mortgage payments and facing foreclosure. Some estimates suggest that an additional two million may face eviction next year.

Second, we need reform. In recent years, one federal regulatory agency after another has been handed over to the industries they were created to regulate. It should come as no surprise that during the Bush administration the US has witnessed the largest recall of contaminated beef in its history, thousands of deaths from unsafe prescription drugs, and one of our worst financial meltdowns.

Advocates of the free market must confront the fact that both the Great Depression and the current financial chaos were preceded by years of laissez-faire economic policies. Strictly enforced regulations not only protect consumers, they protect companies that behave ethically from those that don’t. The sale of tainted baby food in China demonstrates, once again, that when industries are allowed to police themselves, there’s absolutely no limit on what they’ll do for money.

Third, we need reconstruction, not only of America’s physical infrastructure, but also of its society. Today close to 50 million Americans lack health insurance. About 40 percent of the nation’s adult population is facing medical debts, or having difficulty paying medical bills. A universal health-care system would help American families, while cutting the nation’s long-term health-care costs. And a large-scale federal investment in renewable energy and public-works projects would build the foundation for a strong 21st century economy.

Contrary to the myth of the free market, direct government intervention has played a central role throughout American economic history, subsidizing the growth of the railroad, automobile, aerospace and computer industries, among others. It will take well-planned government investment to break our dependence on foreign oil and create millions of new Green jobs.

I would agree that a new New Deal is needed but I do not see anything changing as it stands today.  Obama’s choices for his economic team have proven to be acceptable to Wall Street and that means that they will pursue the continuation of Wall Street first, Main Street….maybe.

Is There No End To This Parade?

The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $3.18 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis.

When Congress approved the TARP on Oct. 3, Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson acknowledged the need for transparency and oversight. Now, as regulators commit far more money while refusing to disclose loan recipients or reveal the collateral they are taking in return, some Congress members are calling for the Fed to be reined in.

Most of the federal guarantees reduce interest rates on loans to banks and securities firms, which would create a subsidy of at least $6.6 billion annually for the financial industry, according to data compiled by Bloomberg comparing rates charged by the Fed against market interest currently paid by banks.

Not included in the calculation of pledged funds is an FDIC proposal to prevent foreclosures by guaranteeing modifications on $444 billion in mortgages at an expected cost of $24.4 billion to be paid from the TARP, according to FDIC spokesman David Barr. The Treasury Department hasn’t approved the program.