Obama Worse Than Bush

I voted for Obama in the Democratic primary, because I figured Hillary Clinton was more likely to expand the war in Afghanistan and otherwise engage in the sort of misguided military adventure favored by the shrub. Look what happened. He appointed Clinton Secretary of State, and then sent even more troops into Afghanistan than Bush Jr. would have dared consider. Don’t even get me started about his Mideast policy and spineless cave-in on Israeli settlements. Remember Guantanamo? He’s commander-in-chief, could shut this illegal abomination down whenever he wants to, instead he intends to keep it open indefinitely. Again, W would have closed the place by now and moved on. The fact that Obama was given a Nobel Peace Prize is some sort of sick joke.

On the domestic front, let’s face it: Obama has been a disaster for the country, moving it farther to the right than it has been at any time since perhaps a period of a few years sometime back in the 19th century. He has pursued policies more or less in line with those of Bush, confusing and neutering moderates and progressives (who don’t dare criticize him). Based on his inspiring speeches, they thought they had elected a community organizer, but are slowly realizing that they’ve been had, with the White House now in the hands of a Bush clone interested not in fighting powerful interests but in playing golf with them. By doing this, he has pushed the Republican opposition so far to the right that they’ve descended into lunacy, and ensured that he’ll should have no trouble winning re-election in 2012. The only threat to him is that of the rise of a populist/fascist movement, motivated by blind hatred and the (accurate) feeling that they are being driven into poverty by a ruthless Ivy-league-educated establishment with a lock on the political and financial system of the country. At the Harvard Club in midtown there’s a huge new portrait of him set in a prominent place as you enter the building. The establishment lawyers and financial types who congregate there know that he’s their man.

The military budget is now significantly higher than during the Bush years, and taxes on the wealthy even lower (taxes on large estates are lower than under Bush). While Bush expanded Medicare significantly to cover prescription drugs, Obama’s health plan was written in partnership with those responsible for the problem (high costs): doctors, insurance and pharmaceutical companies. The great innovation seems to be to expand access to medical care by forcing people who can’t afford it to buy insurance from rapacious insurance companies. Obama’s choice for Fed Chairman: same guy as the one Bush had running his Council of Economic Advisers, before moving on to the Fed and presiding over the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. If there’s any difference between Obama’s treasury secretary (Geithner) and Bush’s (Paulson), I’m unable to see it and haven’t met anyone who can. Geithner is now in charge of gutting the few minor reforms that were passed in the aftermath of the crisis, while institutionalizing a system of government backing for too-big-to-fail financial firms of sizes expanded since the Bush years. The organized looting of these firms by their employees that brought on the mess of 2008 is now back in full-swing.

Next year’s presidential campaign is predicted to cost a billion dollars, which Obama has already started raising from the financial industry and other interest groups. He faces no progressive or moderate opposition at all, with the only question to be resolved that of exactly how extreme his Republican opponent will be. I’ll be covering all this here on the blog, but on days when I don’t get around to giving you my thoughts on what is happening, two other places you might want to consult are FireDogLake and Naked Capitalism

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59 Responses to Obama Worse Than Bush

  1. jpd says:

    rhetorical question, dont bother answering

  2. Matt says:

    Because the American political system makes it far easier to fire missiles than to relocate military prisoners. There needs to be a place that agrees to take the hundreds of them in. If you’ll recall, Obama was pushing hard for several states and European countries to take them, but without much success. For a while Yemen was taking prisoners of Yemeni nationality, until the Yemeni Christmas underwear bomber fiasco made that untenable. Obama also found a place for the Uighurs.

    I’m not going to repeat my arguments again. Read my previous comments. But it’s clear Obama wants to close Gitmo, and has put much effort into doing so, no thanks to Congress or state governments or Europe. There’s no simple solution. The lesson here is not to let the GOP come to power in the first place.

    By the way, they just agreed to move Manning out of the hell hole he was in. We’ll see what happens.

  3. vorpal says:


    So Pearl Harbor was not an act of war since Japan didn’t commit ground troops?

    If Libya “just” shot missiles at Gitmo (to help protect the detainees), that would not be interpreted by the US as an initiation of war? Or do I have a profound misunderstanding of America’s political institutions?

  4. Matt says:

    I didn’t say act of war, I said declaration of war. You can drive a truck through that legal loophole.

    Putting legal issues aside, if you can’t see a moral distinction between Libya and Pearl Harbor, I’m not going to try to explain it you.

  5. Politically naive says:

    Clearly people who are not allowed to return to their home country count as refugees and thus eligible for specific treatment under treaties to which the US is a signatory? There are clear legal procedures for such an occasion.

    As for Pearl Harbor vs. Odyssey Dawn, indeed, those are very different: the first was a miscalculated military response to an economic blockade as part of the maneuvering between two imperial powers, the other is an intervention in a foreign civil war for the purpose of maintaining secure access to cheap oil.

  6. Matt says:

    What treaties to which the US is a signatory would they be covered under?

    And, oh, how original! A claim that it’s a war for oil. You’re quite a genius! Please shower us with more of your rarified wisdom.

    Such lazy thinking. Thank you for reminding me why I could never find myself at home with the Left. (If only the Right weren’t crazier…)

    Given that there’s obviously no way to prove a negative, I’ll just say that letting the genocidal madman Qaddafi crush the rebel movement would be a far cheaper and more reliable way to keep Libya’s oil flowing to the West. Turning against Qaddafi, with whom the US formerly had a stable relationship, and supporting the rebels in an indefinitely-long conflict would be the last thing you’d do if oil was the priority.

    And Obama and Bob Gates resisted getting involved for weeks, almost till it was too late. You can read plenty of in-depth reporting online that got inside the White House during the crazy time when all the deliberations were going on. It was Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power who are most responsible for US backing of the UN resolution and US intervention. (And who’s a more blood-thirsty imperialist hound for oil than Samantha Power, right?) Nobody wantes this to be another Rwanda; they were all hoping for Kosovo.

    Do some reading, and then you can speak without looking foolish.

  7. Matt says:

    And I’ll let slide your typical left-wing moral equivalency between Imperial Japan and the isolationist US in WWII.

  8. Matt says:

    You know what? There’s no point in further discussing any of this with all of you. You’ve all made up your minds already, and no amount of further evidence is going to change any of your minds.

    What I will say is that if you any of you think Obama is as bad as any of the current GOP contenders, and that your voting in 2012 is meaningless, then you’re sadly misguided.

    Obama/Biden 2012. Peace out.

  9. Politically naive says:

    As to refugees, there is
    to the Protocol of which (the version which extends outside of Europe) the US is a signatory. Under that, a refugee is defined as

    “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it..”

    If those countries refuse to accept the detainees or if there is a real fear that they will be persecuted in their countries of origin, they seem to be covered by this convention. They will not be the first or only refugees living in the US, where in most cases the US is not directly responsible for them having become refugees. That is definitely no excuse to bar them from their basic human rights.

    As for Libya, that truly sounds very noble until you look around the Middle East and note that the US does not even deign to pressure regimes with which it is in much closer contact when they butcher their civilians for protesting the government, e.g. in Yemen or Bahrain. It is clear that nobility has nothing to do with it; the danger of a civil war resulting in a conclusion that is bad for US and European oil interests in Libya seems a much likelier impetus, especially in light of other “comrades” already being deposed or removed.

    Nevertheless, I am open to other suggestions; unfortunately, you have left the stage after bombarding us with further abuse and ad hominems which are presumably based on a background respect for the humanistic tendencies of particular members of the administration, as if that mattered. Finally you conclude with a campaign sticker. Marvelous.

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