October 29, 2010


Obama hope was all hype: The US president has caved into vested interests and preserved extraordinary rendition. Not so different to his predecessor, then ( Tariq Ali, 10/28/10, guardian.co.uk)

[B]oth at home and abroad, the continuities between Obama's administration and that of Bush-Cheney far outweigh any differences.

Whenever vested interests resisted, Obama caved. On the economy, despite the advice of Robert Reich and Joseph Stiglitz, the president defended the very orthodoxy that led to the Wall Street crash. And this at a time when inequality in the US was much higher than it had been 40 years ago.

The healthcare "reforms" also saw a total capitulation to the corporations: the insurance companies, the pharmaceuticals, the for-profit hospitals and the top of the range specialists will benefit. Even the loyal Los Angeles Times felt compelled to complain: "As a candidate for president, Barack Obama lambasted drug companies and the influence they wielded in Washington. He even ran a television ad targeting the industry's chief lobbyist, former Louisiana congressman, Billy Tauzin … [for] preventing Medicare from negotiating for lower drug prices … Tauzin has morphed into the president's partner. He has been invited to the White House half a dozen times in recent months."

Vested interests resisted. Obama caved. The healthcare "reform" was actually crafted by Liz Fowler, former executive for a private health insurer and an employee of Senator Max Baucus, who presides over the Senate finance committee and is, according to John R MacArthur, the publisher of Harper's Magazine, "a beneficiary of millions of dollars in contributions from insurance and health care companies".

To dissociate politicians from capitalists is slightly disingenuous, to put it mildly. US lawmakers are competitive and auction themselves to the highest bidder via the lobby system. As a result, the story of the healthcare reforms is replicated in numerous other spheres. The "new" education policies based on privatisation and charter schools that have been a disaster in parts of the country are to be continued as managers replace educationalists. Guantánamo remains open. Obama's legal guru now embedded in the state department, Harold Koh, publicly insists the drone attacks in Pakistan that kill more civilians than "terrorists" are perfectly legal. Elena Kagan, Obama's offering to the supreme court, told Congress that she agreed with John Yoo, a Bushman who served as an assistant attorney general, that a "terrorist" captured anywhere was subject to "battlefield law". Like his Republican predecessor, the new attorney general, Eric Holder, happily invoked "state secrets" to stop a trial, while Obama's CIA boss (a former Clinton employee), Leon Panetta, was in feisty mood after he got the job, boasting that he fully intended to preserve "extraordinary rendition", that is, sending prisoners to be tortured in Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan or Pakistan.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 29, 2010 5:15 AM
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