When presidential candidate Barack Obama promised change in 2008, no Progressive could have imagined that the change he meant would require a revamping of the Democratic Party to look more Republican than Progressive.
But now, five years later, the current Democratic administration is filled with Wall Street insiders and former Bush appointees -- people like Eric Holder, Jack Lew, and Chuck Hagel -- and many of Obama’s policies have been nothing more than a redux of G.W. Bush’s policies.
Even the Republican’s have expressed glee about the transformation:
“Drone strikes. Wiretaps. Gitmo. Renditions. Military commissions. Obama is carrying out Bush’s fourth term, yet he attacked Bush for violating the Constitution,” Ari Fleischer, George W. Bush’s press secretary, told Politico adding that Obama was “vindicating Bush.”
If there is any justice in this world, G.W. Bush’s failures will never be vindicated, but at the same time, it is disheartening to know that Obama has given new life to many of those failed policies.
And now that Obama has nominated former Bush official, James Comey, to replace Robert Mueller as FBI director – especially when viewed contextually with Eric Holder’s appointment – it brings into question the reason for the nomination.
Legal scholar, Jonathan Turley, who has called for Holder to resign, said this about the Attorney General:
His value to President Obama has been his absolute loyalty. Holder is what we call a "sin eater" inside the Beltway -- high-ranking associates who shield presidents from responsibility for their actions. Richard Nixon had H.R. Haldeman and John Ehrlichman. Ronald Reagan had Oliver North and Robert "Bud" McFarlane. George W. Bush had the ultimate sin eater: Dick Cheney, who seemed to have an insatiable appetite for sins to eat.What does that have to do with Comey?
For Obama, there has been no better sin eater than Holder. When the president promised CIA employees early in his first term that they would not be investigated for torture, it was the attorney general who shielded officials from prosecution. When the Obama administration decided it would expand secret and warrantless surveillance, it was Holder who justified it. When the president wanted the authority to kill any American he deemed a threat without charge or trial, it was Holder who went public to announce the "kill list" policy
From the ACLU:
As the second-highest ranked Justice Department official under John Ashcroft, Comey approved some of the worst abuses committed by the Bush administration. Specifically, the publicly available evidence indicates Comey signed off on enhanced interrogation techniques that constitute torture, including waterboarding. He also oversaw the indefinite detention without charge or trial of an American citizen picked up in the United States and then held for years in a military brig.By choosing Eric Holder and James Comey, Obama has effectively insulated himself from prosecution for war crimes.
And then there is Penny Pritzker.
One writer described Obama’s nomination of Penny Pritzker as “the smoking gun,” the move that pulled back the curtain, revealing the president’s true ties to Wall Street.
“Penny did not like paying $460 million. No, not one bit,” Palast writes. “What she needed was someone to give her Hope and Change. She hoped someone would change the banking regulators and the Commerce Department so she could get away with this crap.And recently, the Washington Wire reported that Obama will appoint another former Bush official to his team:
“Pritzker introduced Obama, the neophyte state senator, to the Ladies Who Lunch (that’s really what they call themselves) on Chicago’s Gold Coast. Obama got lunch, gold and better—an introduction to Robert Rubin. Rubin is a former Secretary of the Treasury, former chairman of Goldman Sachs and former co-chairman of Citibank. Even atheists recognized Rubin as the Supreme Deity of Wall Street.”
In return for Rubin’s help raising campaign money from the major banks, Obama agreed to appoint Larry Summers and Timothy Geithner to the highest economic appointments in his Cabinet, Palast notes. All three of these men had played an executive role in creating the deregulated banking industry that brought the U.S. economy to its knees in 2008.
But high-level positions for Summers and Geithner were not the only returns Obama was supposed to make for Rubin and Pritzker’s help raising campaign money, Palast writes. Pritzker was supposed to be made secretary of Commerce at the start of Obama’s first term.
White House Taps Former Bush Official for Housing Post
ByAlan Zibel May 31, 2013, 11:25 AM ET
The White House has taken an unusual tack in filling a key housing policy post, turning to a former Bush administration official who later helped design President Barack Obama’s response to the foreclosure crisis.If you were unlucky enough to have had any dealings with HAMP, Obama’s response to the foreclosure crisis, then you know that the program was a colossal failure. The National Taxpayer Union stated that HAMP has been grossly ineffective:
Seth Wheeler, a former Treasury Department official under the both Bush and Obama administrations, joined the National Economic Council earlier this month as senior adviser on housing policy, a White House spokesman said.
HAMP has proven a colossal failure that has done more to harm than help debt-laden homeowners. Having only achieved slightly more than 500,000 permanent modifications, 40% of which the Treasury expects to default, HAMP has fallen dramatically short of its goal of helping 3 to 4 million homeowners avoid foreclosure. To date, far more borrowers have dropped out of the program than successfully achieved permanent loan modification. These borrowers, along with those who later default, will often be left with larger outstanding debt, worse credit scores, and less home equity. Congress should pass legislation that eliminates the HAMP program, to put an end to these counterproductive outcomes while saving taxpayers billions of dollars.John Taylor, president of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, said this about Wheeler:
"I think he's as disappointed as everybody else that this HAMP program failed so miserably."And yet, Obama has been unable to find a more qualified Democrat to fill the position.
But the bad news doesn’t end there.
Last week Bloomberg News posted this article:
May 28 (Bloomberg) -- President Barack Obama plans to nominate Jason Furman, a White House official well-versed in staff rivalries and relationships, to replace Alan Krueger, as the head of the Council of Economic Advisers, according to two people familiar with the matter.How bad is Jason Furman?
BoldProgressive.org immediately released a statement describing Furman’s nomination this way:
Bloomberg reported late yesterday that President Obama plans to nominate Harvard economist Jason Furman as his next head of his Council of Economic Advisers.It was Furman who wrote the following statement about Progressive efforts to improve working conditions for Wal-Mart workers:
This would be very bad news for progressives because of Furman’s advocacy for right-wing policies. Here are five reasons why Furman shouldn’t be Obama’s top economic adviser:
1. He’s An Advocate Of Job-Killing “Free Trade” Deals
2. He Supports Wal-Mart’s Anti-Worker Practices
3. He Is An Advocate For A “Jobs Plan” Based On Unpaid Internships.
4. He Wants To Lower Corporate Taxes
5. He Supports The Chained CPI Benefit Cut To Social Security
“…I understand why progressives are so upset about low wages and inadequate benefits. I am also upset by the rise of inequality and the relatively slow economic progress that the bottom 80 percent of Americans have made over the last several decades. I just think Wal-Mart is the wrong place to put the blame or to expect the solution.”Obama created a roadblock for Progressives when he supported former Republican Joe Lieberman instead of championing a real Democratic candidate. Now, it appears he is set to repeat the same mistake with former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee.
As David Atkins, at Hullabaloo said:
Good progressive Democrats with real progressive economic values can and should win in Rhode Island. Lincoln Chafee is not the best of a bad bargain. He's the worst of a good bargain.Why so many Republicans? Why not Democrats?
Not surprisingly, then, the Neoliberal-in-Chief has wholeheartedly supported him even as it rankles the state Democratic establishment in Rhode Island:
Obama has returned the favor: he declined to endorse a Democrat for governor in 2010, when Chafee was running as an independent in a three-way race. And when Chafee ran TV ads featuring archival footage of the president praising him, Obama and his aides did not object.
There is very little about the present administration that resembles the Democratic Party I first embraced 51 years ago.
And perhaps it’s safe to say that the Democratic Party of today has developed an identity crisis. We have changed so much that we now resemble a moderate Republican Party -- much more than any previous Democratic administration that I’ve lived through.
And I’m not alone. Many Progressives have felt the same loss of identity.
But yet again, even now, we are suffering an intraparty fight because this administration’s NSA data mining efforts have been revealed to be more intrusive than we were told.
And for the record, there was a time when Bush’s implementation of NSA warrantless surveillance caused people on this site to come unglued:
Under public pressure, the Bush administration ceased the warrantless wiretapping program in January 2007 and returned review of surveillance to the FISA court. Subsequently, in 2008 Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which relaxed some of the original FISA court requirements.But now that Obama is in charge, many of his supporters are saying it’s no big deal. And it seems they have forgotten this little tidbit of information:
In April 2009, Department of Justice officials acknowledged that the NSA had engaged in "overcollection" of domestic communications that exceeded the FISA court's authority. The NSA claimed the acts were unintentional and were rectified.From yesterdays diary, Snowden's Own Words, by Kos member catilinus:
Rectified? Not even close.
Asked what he though about Friday's denouncement by the president while at the same time welcoming debate on security and openness--
"My immediate reaction was he was having difficulty in defending it himself. He was trying to defend the unjustifiable and he knew it."
If you haven’t noticed, Progressive morale has reached a new low, and the apathy of Party members is starting to have consequences.
According to PolitiFact, Obama only kept 37% of the 503 campaign promises that he made in 2008. And many of those programs were so watered down by Republican/corporate/lobbyist influence that they were ineffective.
And if you think the new Republican/former Bush appointees won’t make a difference, think of NAFTA. The odious trade deal that the Obama administration has negotiated – in secret - will fall under Penny Pritzker’s domain, which – if her past actions are indicative of her future actions – could prove to be a nightmare for the labor market.
More secrecy revealed by the NY Times:
WASHINGTON — THE Obama administration has often stated its commitment to open government. So why is it keeping such tight wraps on the contents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the most significant international commercial agreement since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995?For many American’s, Obama’s Hope & Change spiel – when put in action – has left little reason to hope. It has only benefited the top 1%.
The agreement, under negotiation since 2008, would set new rules for everything from food safety and financial markets to medicine prices and Internet freedom. It would include at least 12 of the countries bordering the Pacific and be open for more to join. President Obama has said he wants to sign it by October.
Although Congress has exclusive constitutional authority to set the terms of trade, so far the executive branch has managed to resist repeated requests by members of Congress to see the text of the draft agreement and has denied requests from members to attend negotiations as observers — reversing past practice.
Digby recently made this observation:
…my impression is that liberals are either bored or disillusioned right now for any number of reasons, not the least of which is the fact that a liberal majority has been effectively obstructed and the president seems to be ineffectual. (I realize that political scientists tell us that the presidency isn't very powerful, but most people don't believe that since we've extolled the office as the most powerful on earth for decades.)
We've been through a number of elections, crises, other ups and downs over the past decade but I've not seen anything like the drop in interest over the past few months. If it was just me I'd attribute it to my little project having run its course but it's happening across the liberal media spectrum. I don't (k)now what the answer is, but it isn't that there isn't a permanent audience. There was until very recently. It's that the liberal audience is tuning out and one can only assume it's because they don't like what they see in our politics.
It makes me a little bit more concerned for 2014/2016 than I otherwise would be.