Three presidential candidates offer a radical alternative
Huge payouts – from benefits and compensation to pensions and lottery wins – go unclaimed. Why do you not receive what you are entitled to?
Heavy fines for accountants, bankers, lawyers and advisers who assist tax evaders come into force.
I’m a former lifelong Democrat, stating here a clear and incontestable fact: Barack Obama is a failed President.
It’s true not just because of the sad realities such as that «Top Ex-White House Economist Admits 94 % Of All New Jobs Under Obama Were Part-Time» — or, as the economists Alan Krueger and Lawrence Katz wrote in the original of that study: «94 percent of the net employment growth in the U.S. economy from 2005 to 2015 appears to have occurred in alternative work arrangements». («Alternative work arrangements» referred there to Americans who were involuntarily working only part-time jobs — they simply couldn’t find full-time, though that’s what they wanted.) In other words: Obama’s failure isn’t just because of America’s increasingly sales-clerk, and burger-flipping, workforce.
And Obama’s failure is also not just because «Poverty Rose In 96 % Of U.S. House Districts, During Obama’s Presidency». (However, that reality turned out to be decisive in Hillary Clinton’s loss to Donald Trump on November 8th, as Nate Cohn pointed out in The New York Times on December 23rd, headlining, «How the Obama Coalition Crumbled, Leaving an Opening for Trump». Hillary was running on Obama’s poor record.)
Obama’s failure is also because of other important reasons. Among them is the uncounted thousands of people who were killed in, and the uncounted millions of people who became refugees from, the places where Obama (or else his installed regimes) bombed and caused the residents to either die or flee. George W. Bush’s destructions of Iraq and even Afghanistan were now being followed by the destructions of Libya by Obama and Sarkozy, and of Syria by Obama and Saud and Thani and Erdogan, who armed the tens of thousands of jihadists and sent them into Syria to overthrow and replace Assad — and Bush’s destructions were followed also by Obama’s keeping in power the barbaric junta-regime that replaced the democratically elected Honduran Presiden Manuel Zelaya on 28 June 2009 shortly after Obama entered the White House (and this junta-regime, in turn, caused Honduras’s murder-rate to soar 50% to become the world’s highest, which then caused hundreds of thousands of Hondurans to flee and become undocumented U.S. immigrants, against which Donald Trump campaigned).
The Obama regime has thus created far more misery outside America, than inside it. Failures such as those didn’t cost Hillary Clinton many (if any) votes (because most voters didn’t even know about these foreign-affairs matters), but those failures were actually even bigger than Obama’s failures in purely domestic U.S. policy matters (which voters do know about). Trump campaigned against ‘illegal immigrants’, but he never even called attention to those people’s fleeing the hells that the U.S. regime had created in not only Honduras but earlier in Guatemala and El Salvador — coups and U.S.-trained death squads.
In noting Obama’s failures, I’m not a Republican; I’m no one who is condemning Obama for his allegedly being a ‘Marxist' ‘Muslim’, or some other imaginary distraction from the reality (a reality which is too Republican for Republicans to be able to criticize — so, they’ve insteadignored that reality, and cited fake ‘reasons’ against him, including ‘death panels’ and other fabrications, which Republicans then forgot about after their fraudulent allegations against him became clear, to all but insane people, as being just Republican lies).
Obama is a failure not because he wasn’t sufficiently conservative or ‘Christian' (as Republicans had constantly accused him of having been), but instead because he wasn’t sufficiently progressive (nowhere close to being a progressive) — and, in many ways, he was actually far more conservative than any of his duplicitous campaign-rhetoric had pretended him to be. He’s an extraordinarily gifted liar — he was phenomenally successful at that.
And I am not blaming Obama for congressional Republicans’ having been more obsessed with making him be a failed President, than they were interested in making America be a successful nation. Republicans lie at least as much as he does, just not nearly as skillfully. (They especially can’t feign compassion as skillfully as he.) This article thus does not blame him for what the overt Republicans were doing to cripple the little good he had actually tried to achieve — such as closing Guantanamo. It’s only about Obama’s failure.
Obama’s failure was all his own — it’s not because of the good things that Republicans had blocked him from doing; it is instead because of the horrible things (such as his failed TPP, TTIP and TISA trade-treaties, and his successful 2011 killing of Gaddafi, and 2014 coup in Ukraine) that were central to his actual agenda — a conservative, even reactionary, agenda, which favored the interests of the hundreds of billionaires who control U.S.-based international corporations, above the interests of the 300+ million American people, whom the U.S. President is supposed to be serving.
I voted for Barack Obama both times, because both of his opponents («Bomb bomb bomb Iran» McCain in 2008, and «#1 geopolitical foe» Romney in 2012) were clearly determined to focus America’s enormous military expenditures away from exterminating the jihadists and their Saudi funders, toward instead conquering Iran (McCain) and Russia (Romney), and also because Republicans — throughout at least the period extending from 1910 to 2010 — consistently had, in fact, produced a record of far less success with the U.S. economy, than did Democrats, and especially because neither McCain nor Romney had repudiated the very worst President in U.S. history (at least prior to Obama) and his atrocious record of lies and needless bloodshed and invasions: George W. Bush — Bush’s Party instead reaffirmed that monstrous President.
And, consequently, I never expected Barack Obama to turn out to have been, quite possibly, even a worse President than Bush. Nobody expected that — except Republicans, for whom Bush wasn’t bad enough to satisfy them (and certainly not bad enough for them to apologize for — so, they did not apologize for him).
Here, then, is Obama’s astounding record of failure:
As that last one documented, the Obama ‘Justice’ Department scored an all-time low number both of financial institution fraud prosecutions, and of white-collar-crime prosecutions. Obama came into power immediately after an economic crash that was loaded especially with financial-institution frauds. He protected the banksters. So, financial-executive-fraud prosecutions didn’t soar, like they should have; instead they plunged. Like Obama told the Wall Street bigs, near the start of his regime, on 27 March 2009, in private, inside the White House: «My administration is the only thing between you and the pitchforks. … I’m not out there to go after you. I’m protecting you… I’m going to shield you». And that’s what he did. And, on 20 September 2016, Dave Johnson of the Campaign for America’s Future, headlined «Banks Used Low Wages, Job Insecurity To Force Employees To Commit Fraud», so there was no way that the employees could keep their jobs except to do the crimes that they were being virtually forced by their bosses to do.
The criminality was actually at the very top — where Obama had promised «I’m protecting you». So, the TARP’s Inspector General urged, on 26 October 2016 (since the President was refusing to prosecute those people), «that Congress remove the insulation around Wall Street CEOs and other high-level officials by requiring the CEO, CFO and certain other senior executives to sign an annual certification that they have conducted due diligence within their organization and can certify that that there is no criminal conduct or civil fraud in their organization». The Special Inspector General of TARP, Christy Goldsmith Romero, was proposing this, as being the way to make prosecutions, of these top-level fraud-executives, so easy that the Obama Administration’s claims — that there was no top-level fraud that could be prosecuted — would be an even more blatant, absurdly false, lie, than it had been.
If this country were Ukraine, or even Russia, then Americans (trained by decades of a CIA-controlled ‘free press’) would say «Oh, of course those countries are corrupt, but America isn’t like that». But, at least under Barack Obama, ‘we’ were that. This was America — and ‘our’ President was protecting the elite fraudsters, instead of prosecuting them.
Nonetheless, anyone who would say that the American people are not better off now than they were at the end of Bush’s disastrous Presidency would be either misinformed or lying, because there’s lots of data showing that, finally, eight years after Bush, Americans are better off than they were at the end of Bush’s miserable eight years (even though not yet better off than Americans were prior to Bush’s 2007-2008 crash). And the Administration published on December 15th its record of ‘successes’ «The 2017 Economic Report of the President» which was real but not adjusted for the fact that Obama came into office at the pit of the economic crash, which means that such ‘successes’ are almost inevitable, hardly a credit to Obama. But yet, the reality stands, that the Obama economic recovery was the weakest in the entire post-World-War-II period. Plus, the federal debt doubled on his watch, even while, as that Economic Report mentioned only in passing: «The United States has seen a faster increase in inequality in recent decades than any of the major advanced economies, and despite the historic progress made over the last eight years, the level of U.S. inequality remains high». Normally, after an economic crash, economic inequality reduces; but under Obama it remained at or near its pre-crash high.
It was an economic record (and an invasion and coup record) of which any Republican President could justifiably have been proud (since conservatives favor inequality, a caste system) — but no Democrat could (except fake ones — such as Obama and the Clintons).
In the wake of the near collapse of the Dallas police and fire pension fund, a Dallas News editorial says Former Police, Fire Pension Managers Should Face Criminal Investigation.
Mayor Mike Rawlings is right to ask for a state criminal investigation into shady practices by the Dallas Police and Fire Pension System’s prior management.
The fund is on the verge of a potentially catastrophic collapse that could leave public safety workers, taxpayers and the City of Dallas on the hook for billions of dollars. And the reason stems from abuses under the former administrator Richard Tettamant, who was ousted in 2014.
The fund’s former managers bet heavily on risky investments such as luxury homes in Hawaii, a resort and vineyard in California and Dallas’ Museum Tower itself, and promised its hardworking police and fire employees unrealistic returns while enjoying lavish perks.
Those returns didn’t materialize, saddling the retirement fund’s new managers with $2 billion to $5 billion in unfunded liabilities. Frightened police officers and firefighters began a run on the fund, pulling more than $500 million out of it in recent weeks at a pace that would have drained the fund’s cash to dangerous levels.
The city of Dallas contends it is not legally responsible for the actions of the pension fund’s former managers, in part, because the city doesn’t control the fund, which was set up decades ago by the Texas Legislature. But the city is on the hook nonetheless; a failure of the fund would betray promises made to current and retired public safety workers and would make it much more difficult for the city to recruit new police officers and firefighters.
Too many people are at risk and those who put them there need to be called to account for their actions.
Criminal Witch Hunt
I am not here to defend the investment schemes of the fund managers. And I certainly take exception to alleged lavish perks. But this case is going nowhere.
If one wants to place blame, then blame rests squarely on the shoulders of the legislature that authorized the plan and established the absurd pension assumptions.
Perks did not cause the pension plan to be ridiculously underfunded. Rather, ridiculous plan assumptions steered the managers into risky assets.
In hindsight, it’s easy to say the fund should have thrown it all at Google, Apple, etc. Care to make the same case going forward?
Taxpayers on the Hook?
Taxpayers should not be on the hook for this mess. The promises were bound to fail from the get go.
The fault for this mess is squarely in the hands of politicians, not those running the fund.
Nearly every public pension plan in the nation is severely underfunded. There is nothing special about Dallas.
However, politicians will never point the finger at themselves. So the witch hunt is on.
- Dallas Police Retiring in Droves, Taking Lump Sum Pensions, Fearing the Money Isn’t There (And It Isn’t)
- Dallas Pension Showdown: Mayor Seeks to “Target Those Who Got Rich From System”
- Not Just Dallas: Fort Worth Employees’ Pension Plan in Deep Trouble
The only realistic solution to this mess is massive haircuts on pension assumptions, one of two ways: Voluntary or in bankruptcy court.
Readers of the Washington Post received some alarming news yesterday when the paper published a story alleging that those pesky “Russian hackers” were up to their no good tricks again and had managed to “penetrate the U.S. electricity grid through a utility in Vermont.” The full headline read as follows:
The opening paragraph of WaPo’s story directly linked the “hack” of the Vermont utility to the same “Russian hacking operation dubbed Grizzly Steppe” that the Obama administration has blamed for the DNC and John Podesta email hacks. Vermont’s Governor, Peter Shumlin, told WaPo that “Americans should be both alarmed and outraged” by these actions perpetrated by “one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin,” before seemingly calling for further retaliatory actions from the Obama administration.
Vermonters and all Americans should be both alarmed and outraged that one of the world’s leading thugs, Vladimir Putin, has been attempting to hack our electric grid, which we rely upon to support our quality-of-life, economy, health, and safety. This episode should highlight the urgent need for our federal government to vigorously pursue and put an end to this sort of Russian meddling.
Moreover, Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy took the rhetoric to a whole new level by asserting a diabolical Russian plot to shut down the U.S. electrical grid in the middle of winter…a move that would most certainly kill off half the state’s population in an instant.
Of course, it didn’t take long for the New York Times and ABC to latch on to the story since it fits their “2016 election hacking” narrative so perfectly.
Our Russian “friend” Putin attacked the U.S. power grid. https://t.co/iAneRgbuhF
— Brent Staples (@BrentNYT) December 31, 2016
— ABC News (@ABC) December 31, 2016
Alas, there was just one minor problem, namely that the entire article was completely fabricated. Apparently the esteemed “journalists” of the Washington Post didn’t even bother to contact the Burlington Electric Department to confirm their bogus story…and why should they…it fit the “Russian hacking” narrative so perfectly therefore it must be true, right?
Well, apparently not. The quick spread of WaPo’s “fake news” story forced the Burlington Electric Department to issue a clarifying statement assuring worried residents that, indeed, their electricity grid had not been hacked, but rather a single “laptop not connected” to the grid had been found to have a malware virus.
Which forced the embarrassed Washington Post to quickly tone down their provocative headline…
…and supplement their original article with the following “Editor’s Note” admitting the entire premise of their original story was nothing more than “fake news.”
Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Russian hackers had penetrated the U.S. electric grid. Authorities say there is no indication of that so far. The computer at Burlington Electric that was hacked was not attached to the grid.
Which drew quick reactions from twitter…
1) Not an infiltration of the power grid.
2) “Russian” malware can be purchased online by anyone.
3) See 1 & 2. https://t.co/bVIG8zQBsk
— Dell Cameron (@dellcam) December 31, 2016
Pretty amazing how badly the Post appears to have mangled this one. You didn’t call the Vermont utility regulator before publishing?
— Eric Geller (@ericgeller) December 31, 2016
…and Glenn Greenwald of The Intercept, who blasted WaPo for their “irresponsible and sensationalist tabloid behavior.”
THIS MATTERS not only because one of the nation’s major newspaper once again published a wildly misleading, fear-mongering story about Russia. It matters even more because it reflects the deeply irrational and ever-spiraling fever that is being cultivated in U.S. political discourse and culture about the threat posed by Moscow.
The Post has many excellent reporters and smart editors. They have produced many great stories this year. But this kind of blatantly irresponsible and sensationalist tabloid behavior – which tracks what they did when promoting that grotesque PropOrNot blacklist of U.S. news outlets accused of being Kremlin tools – is a by-product of the Anything Goes mentality that now shapes mainstream discussion of Russia, Putin and the Grave Threat to All Things Decent in America that they pose.
Ironically, a few weeks ago we noted that The Washington Post was all too happy to promote an anonymous website that described Zerohedge as “‘dark gray’ propaganda, systematically deceiving its civilian audiences for foreign political gain” (see “Washington Post Names Drudge, Zero Hedge, & Ron Paul As Anti-Clinton ‘Sophisticated Russian Propaganda Tools’“), all while presenting exactly zero evidence to support their preposterous claim. Perhaps it’s time for WaPo to dedicate a bit more of its time to self-reflection.
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