President Obama, What Have You Done for Me Lately?

According to the Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential approval tracking poll, as of Monday February 20th 2012 26% of voters strongly approve of the Presidents performance, while 39% strongly disapprove.  That seems like quite a large margin, but the total approval rating is 49% and the total disapproval rating is 48%.  Still, this isn’t a good sign for the President going into full campaign mode in the next few months.  To keep up with the daily tracking polls by Rasmussen Reports, visit their website.

Barack Obama certainly has a credibility problem with voters of every political affiliation; however, the reasons “why?” vary greatly; the depth of thought required to truly understand the scope of issues we face is quite substantial.  The mainstream corporate political discourse is only put there to further confuse the issues and provide as much distraction for the average person as is required to appear credible yet still confuse the modern American consumer organism.  There is a distinct separation between what progressive people wanted to happen, and what has been performed by President Obama.

The promises made by candidate Obama were very specific and delivered with righteous passion.  Yet he has gone against some of his biggest promises to Americans, and has even forged ahead and expanded on policies left over from the Bush Administration.  By far, his biggest promise has been to bring affordable health care to us all; health care that also cannot discriminate against people for having a pre-existing condition.  The law we have now is a watered down version of what many of us expected; so let’s start here.

Single Payer health care was what candidate Obama was selling during the campaign, even saying that it made the most sense to him.  The public option was meant to be a counter balance to the money siphoning insurance system we currently have.  This is around the time the chants of Socialism starting ringing in the halls of Congress, as well as in the corporate media.

Single Payer health care does rely on the government to provide the issuance of health care service approvals, much like the insurance companies do now.  The Right-Wing always trumpets the argument that big government is bad and needs to stay out of our lives, and cannot be allowed to determine what health services we can and can’t have.   Let’s examine what both systems do and see how much clout this premise holds.

Before we get into the value propositions of each system, let’s focus on the Right’s line of bullshit about big government invading our lives by running the delivery of health care services.  First of all, if they were truly opposed to big government making decisions that affect our lives in such monumental ways they would end the Patriot Act, stop wiretapping and monitoring all citizen electronic communication immediately.

They don’t seem to have too much of a problem with invading our privacy and stripping us of our civil liberties; do they?  The most sweeping loss of our civil liberties came under the Bush Administration and has subsequently been continued and in some cases expanded by President Obama; more on that later.  A single payer system would have been simply an option, not a mandate, and it would have done much to level the playing field in the for profit health care industry.

The single payer option would present the opportunity to have the money we spend on health care go towards the actual health services that we receive and not the salaries of C.E.O’s.  To his credit, President Obama and his administration had managed to get a provision included in the Affordable Care Act that mandates 80% of premiums paid into the insurance program you are a part of must be used to cover actual health care services, and not administrative overhead costs like salaries.

This provision is an important part of giving Americans a system that works hard to provide them with all the best care, yet so much more could have been accomplished by including the public option.  Including it would have been a fundamental change in the way health care is provided in this country; unfortunately we never had a chance for an honest debate over its advantages.  Instead, the mainstream media on the political Right were creating monstrous lies about the bill that were created by the insurance industry to combat the potential monetary losses they would incur.

The so called “liberal media” was performing their consistent innocuous exploration of the issue relying on softball questions and keeping the narrative afloat that bill was “controversial”.  When Fox News starts throwing around the word “Socialism”, things start going to shit in the debate department.  A careful examination and well informed discourse could have been a good thing.  But what inevitably happens is the one sided coin of mainstream corporate media makes the argument circular and does not seek to make sense of the issue.

It is my opinion that Obama let the country down by instituting a mandate on buying health care coverage and taking out the public option early on in the arguments, He showed absolutely no conviction on something he campaigned on as a part of his “Hope and Change” platform; this was to give people the health care system they deserve.  In a way this was a blow-job for the insurance industry by mandating the every American to join the insurance consumer pool; which is quite like telling everyone to jump into a pool that someone has just shat in.

The medical loss ratio provision does make insurance companies spend a higher percentage on actual care, yet I have a feeling the way they will handle this is to raise rates to insure their salaries remain intact; because of course wealth = health in this country, and if you don’t have it, chances are you don’t have it.  So essentially it may not decrease premiums all that much; the public option would have done just that, and it would have been, in terms of a real “free market” system, a formidable competitor.

Who remembers the promise to create a more transparent government in response to the Bush Administration’s combative relationship with Congress and the public regarding the passage of laws that were highly degrading to our way of life?  Consider 2005 energy policy guided by Dick Cheney that eliminated his former company, Haliburton from being beholden to the clean air and safe drinking water acts; which they were clearly in violation of.  This allowed companies to start pin-cushioning the countryside looking for natural gas.

Candidate Obama promised unfettered transparency, saying the public would have at least 72 hours to review a bill before it would be voted on.  We saw the health care bill before it was passed, but the corporate media made damn sure the public had almost no real information concerning its actual contents. Yet the real issue of this false notion of transparency in the Obama Administration lies with the request to alter the Freedom of Information Act, by allowing the Federal government to lie to American citizens concerning the information that it holds.

Call me kooky, but this seems to put him to the right of George W. Bush. The back door dealings of his administration have expanded under President Obama.  This request to openly lie about information that the public has a right to know about is unprecedented.  Not that lying isn’t a part of the everyday business of a politician; it’s the outright slap in the face of telling us, yeah we’re going to lie to you, deal with it, you don’t deserve the truth.

Before I get off on one here let me say this: President Obama is a mixed bag of good and bad policies.  There are some promises he made that have not come to fruition because of legislative grid-lock in Congress.  Nonetheless, the list of broken promises continues.

A major issue since the rise of the Tea Party has been the Right’s seeming obsession with breaking up unions.  The now infamous, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has set the bar for outright corporate prostitution.  Worker’s rights need protection from abuse at the hands of corporate management.  Candidate Obama was a staunch supporter during his campaign of organized labor saying: “And understand this: If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as president of the United States.”

Unfortunately, during the fiasco in Wisconsin President Obama did not voice his passionate support of public sector workers keeping their right to collectively bargain.  The right-wing corporate media saturated the airwaves with piles of steaming information about the lofty salaries and benefit packages public workers enjoy; they painted the picture of an entitled public workforce that is living off the tit of our collective tax dollars.

If President Obama had spoken as strongly as he had during his campaign there would be a resounding defense of the rights of workers, instead he chose to make a few partially supportive statements in favor of the right to bargain, yet he also called for some “adjustments” to the labor agreements held by unions.  This was a far cry from the previous, impassioned remarks of his campaign.

This issue needed the booming voice of the candidate, with the rising crescendo that stirred some “hope” in your heart; we got none of that, only some limp, flaccid, low key support.  Public workers unions are one of the last vestiges of solidarity that exists in our society; Occupy has stirred resurgence in organized protest, which was heavily attended by union workers.  This is of national importance, because if workers are left unprotected they will suffer further losses in health care benefits, sick pay, guaranteed pensions, and salaries that match productivity.  Unions can take a look at some of the unintended consequences that end up protecting bad employees; if the unions can handle this issue in an effective manner it would strengthen the case for increases in my previous list.

Closing Guantanamo Bay seems like a one and done issue; he said he would close it, and he didn’t.  But this seemingly singular broken promise bleeds into the overall promise of restoring America’s rule of law and adherence to the Constitution.   Torture of detainees in U.S. military custody is at the center of this issue.  The Bush Regime had its Justice Department draft the documents necessary to legalize the torture of human beings.  Extraordinary rendition is the is the policy that was implemented to allow the C.I.A. to capture a “suspected” enemy combatant and transport them to another country with little or no laws barring torture and have their particular intelligence agency conduct the interrogations with directions coming from the C.I.A. field agents.

The rule of law has taken a beating under Obama; to get around the PR complications of continuing the practice of extraordinary rendition President Obama has chosen to kill suspected terrorists, not to brutally interrogate them in foreign countries.  He chose to keep all of the emergency powers put in place by Bush and even extends them by making things like indefinite detention legal here in America.  Are we out of our fucking minds?

The recent National Defense Authorization Act is the scariest thing to come out of Congress since the Patriot Act.  The fact that the vague war on terror is now being brought to our own soil by our own government is warning shot across our bow.  The speedy progression of authoritarian laws is shredding the ultimate rule of law, the Constitution.

What are being restored are elements of soft fascism, like we saw with the detainment of Japanese-American citizens during World War II.  Now any American who is suspected of doing something “threatening” against the U.S. government is subject to indefinite detention.  It is not clear who or how these determinations are made; combine that with the refusal to tell the truth regarding issues that may be compromising to the Federal government in these scenarios, and we’ve got ourselves a party.

The video all over progressive social media a while back was that of Rachel Maddow criticizing President Obama for giving an historic speech on the rule of law in front of the original Constitution.  It was historic for its monumental and gross contradictions concerning the right of our government to detain people, deemed by some unknown person within the government to be an imminent threat to the U.S. anywhere in the world, because it is now considered one giant battlefield   The purpose of “prolonged detention” is to prevent the suspect from committing a crime, not for having actually committed one.

As I said before, the recent NDAA law is a drastic extension of these powers right here at home; we are all now considered suspicious.  This shreds the writ of Habeus Corpus, leaving no due process, no right to an attorney, no innocent until proven guilty, nothing.

Even with all that, I find his lies about what he would do regarding corporate corruption and corporate money in politics are perhaps the most egregious.  He promised us that lobbyists would not be a part of his administration and what do you know it they were.  In fact he took it to another level and appointed executives from Monsanto and G.E. to be the Deputy Commissioner of Foods, which puts him in charge of public policy for food safety, and the Jobs Czar respectively.

Not one person in the financial industry has been investigated or prosecuted outside of Bernie Madoff.  His scandal took center stage as the public scrutiny of Wall St. slunk off like some pervert who just touched you inappropriately.  Of course Occupy has re-ignited that movement and NYS Attorney General, Eric Schneiderman, will be now be heading up an investigation in light of the attempt by Obama to quietly assist a settlement without anyone being looked at.  This is proof positive corporate prostitution; given everything that has happened to the average man, woman, and child in this country this is a giant slap in the face.

He has done nothing to combat special interest’s influence peddling in Washington; in 2008, according to

Lobbyists spent close to 3 billion dollars buying Congressmen, and that was Obama’s first year in the White House.  Since then, with the Citizens United Supreme Court decision the influence peddling, palm greasing and back scratching has reached the stratosphere.  American democracy is now as cheap and poorly constructed as our foreign made Wal-Mart products.

Lobbyists facilitate the ability of corporate CEO’s to swing back and forth from their executive position in the corporate world to the high level positions in agencies like the Department of Agriculture, and the FDA, the latter having acquired former Monsanto Vice President, Michael Taylor as its Commissioner of Foods.  His record of food safety proposals are all geared towards stifling the small family farmer.  They are making the policies that benefit their companies and no one else, the rest of us, including the planet are dealing with the consequences of these Presidential derelictions of duty.

As observed by OMB Watch, a government watchdog, Obama issued an executive order to mitigate the influence of lobbyists in Washington: The law stated any registered lobbyist organization cannot participate in the area that they previously lobbied on behalf of for two years.  This law hurts non-profit organizations in that they are often times lobbying for social issues that help people, and they seek to work within the administration; corporate lobbyists are doing just fine, they do not seek to work within government themselves, yet grease the runways for their bosses to be the one to go in.  Obama has essentially made that easier by clearing out those pesky non-profits to make more room for Goldman Sachs. The man may not be all bad, but has certainly got some shit on his face.

OK, not to get off track here, but it would only be fair and factual to talk about some of things he has done.  He did make a gesture towards the working class by putting together a jobs bill that has no chance in passing the two chambers, and he has taken down don’t ask don’t tell, yet inequality is still rampant.  Overall he is disappointing from a progressive pragmatist’s point of view.  But hopefully Obama will slide so far to the Right that he’ll come straight back around.

I honestly have no idea what he has planned for the 2nd term; I just hope we get our civil liberties restored (Not likely), our government clear of corporate influence (Yeah right), and we see a return to sanity by upholding environmental protections, passing stiff consumer protection legislation, prosecuting the financial sector for its fraudulent activities and completely restructure our tax code to benefit the middle and working class in a progressive manner increasing the burden the more one’s income increases, and once and for all BAN the influence of corporate influence in our government.

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