Happy anniversary, Obama. Thanks for the broken promises!
|January 21st, 2012, 10:59 AM||#1 (permalink)|
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Happy anniversary, Obama. Thanks for the broken promises!
The challenges, he said, were real. He called them serious and said there were many.
America had gathered because the country had “chosen hope over fear; unity of purpose over conflict and discord,” and proclaimed “an end to the petty grievances and false promises.”
But three years to the day after Barack Obama told millions of Americans that that was what had brought him to Washington — three years after he said those words in his inaugural address from the steps of the Capitol Building — the hope, the change and the abolishment of false promises remain largely something that has failed materialize.
Obama took the oath of office on January 20, 2009, a position that he earned by promising a new era of peace and accepting his role as, as he put in, aiding in the ushering in of “a new era of responsibility.”
Three years later, however, the country’s commander-in-chief has been persistently pounced on by both the press and public alike. He advertised a future built on hope, not fear, yet recently authorized the US military to indefinitely detain any American they see fit.
There was more hope back then, hope for a unity of purpose over conflict and discord, yet he continued George W Bush’s War in Iraq for more than 1,000 additional days and even sent servicemen to aid with the uprising in Libya — without asking Congress for approval or explaining why.
Three years after he addressed 1.5 million people in the US capital and spoke to billions worldwide, 365 days will bring another speech on those same steps from, according to most recent polls, the same person.
Despite opposition from his own party in addition to that from the other side of the aisle, President Obama is currently polling as the most likely candidate to win the 2012 election. After three years already of broken promises, failed policies and dangerous legislation, is America only less than half way done with Obama’s reign in the White House?
Two days into office, Obama signed Executive Order 13492, a piece of paper in which he vowed to suspend proceedings at the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba and have the facility shut down within a year.
On January 22, 2009, the new president cited that “significant concerns “ raised by the detentions at the facility, both within the United States and internationally, allowed him to insist that ending America’s program with detainees there “would further the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States and the interests of justice.”
Not even two years later, Obama approved the 2011 Defense Authorization Bill, essentially preventing the closure of the facility, and by January 2012, 171 men remain in the prison. Some have now been there for over a decade.
“The commitment that the president has to closing Guantanamo Bay is as firm today as it was during the (2008) campaign,” White House spokesman Jay Carney said earlier this year.
Yet days before that address to the media, Obama inked the updated Defense Authorization Act for 2012, allowing those same grave, torturous and inhumane conditions to be imposed on Americans. In a signing statement that accompanied the bill, the president said, “I want to clarify that my Administration will not authorize the indefinite military detention without trial of American citizens.”
That declaration, however, was given two years after his last presidential memorandum promising the closing of Guantanamo — a promise gone broken time and time again.
Until Gitmo becomes a reality for Americans (in the interim it is just a possibility), other promises waged by the president have since either gone unfulfilled or broken, those which impact more than just the few dozen men held behind bars at the facility in Cuba.
On the campaign trail, Obama endorsed the goal of having humans back on track in outer space, insisting on having missions to the moon up and running again with a Mars program being a not-so-distant goal for future generations, if not this one. Only a year into office, however, Obama told NASA to cancel its moon program.
"By the mid 2030’s,” the president said at the Kennedy Space Center in 2010, “I believe we can send humans to orbit Mars and return them safely to Earth. And a landing on Mars will follow and I expect to be around to see it."
Only a year later, NASA’s shuttle program was abolished completely.
While still running for the White House, Obama vowed to “cut wasteful and ineffective program” and “slash earmarks.” Barack Obama would vow to cut those earmarks to under $7.9 billion, or what they were before 1994 when Bill Clinton was in office. Only one year into his term, however, congressional earmarks under Obama’s watch had more than doubled that figure.
Then in July 2008, candidate Barack Obama told ABC News, "I cannot guarantee that it is going to be in the first 100 days. But what I can guarantee is that we will have in the first year an immigration bill that I strongly support and that I'm promoting. And I want to move that forward as quickly as possible."
Less than three years into his presidency though, Americans assumed to be in the country illegal can be detained, cuffed and questioned by law enforcement in Alabama, Arizona and Georgia. An swarm of immigrants have already migrated from Alabama in an exodus brought on by fear of imprisonment and other minorities say that they continue to feel prosecuted in America as anti-immigrant sentiments expand and even a decade after 9/11, Islamophobia is as rampant as ever.
For those that can legally work in America, Obama campaigned to raise the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011, insisting that full-time workers must be able to “earn a living wage that allows them to raise their families and pay for basic needs such as food, transportation and housing.”
2011 has come and gone though, and the federal minimum wage in America remains at $7.25, the same place it was in July 2009. Under the George W Bush administration, however, the then-president was successful in having the wage raised three times. For those that make substantially more, Obama had plans to eliminate those tax cuts for the wealthy that his predecessor had installed.
Three years in, they remain fully intact. He also vowed to keep major companies from extending bonuses to their executives during bankruptcy proceedings, but you don’t have to look much further than any Occupy protest across America to see that the rich are getting richer. Even after those companies that exploit the unfortunate or unable to pay their bills, CEOs and other executives on Wall Street and elsewhere continue to see skyrocketing raises at all-time highs.
In terms of government spending, Obama’s plan on the campaign trail called for ensuring that federal contracts over $25,000 would go before competitive bidding from potential contractors. Even with a budget in the billions, however, the Department of Defense in particular has ignored that promise and Obama has failed to enforce it himself.
As recently as this week RT reported that the Pentagon had extended millions of dollars worth of no-bid contracts to private security firms, including Academi (formerly Blackwater), so that the DoD could continue to encourage armed action south of the border in the War of Drugs while avoiding both liability and a paper trail.
Then were rules about lobbying. According to candidate Obama, his administration would refrain from appointing anyone to office that had lobbied elsewhere in the years before. Only three months ago, however, Obama brought aboard Broderick Johnson as a senior adviser — who previously had lobbied in favor of the Keystone XL oil pipeline that has become one of the biggest issues already in the president’s re-election campaign.
Despite insisting that the revolving door between the White House and corporate lobbying needed to be stopped, 17 lobbyists and all were appointed to his administration during his first two weeks in office alone.
Looking back on three years, the promises were indeed plentiful but sadly were matched largely by the mistakes, gaffes and lies that Obama has instead delivered. “We are ready to lead once more,” he said during that address on January 20, 2009, insisting that America’s brightest era was what was ahead during the next four years.
It might have outshined the errors that marred the Bush administration, but between ongoing wars, promises gone rescinded and America’s superiority up in the air, to many that hope was never delivered. And the change? It wasn’t for the better.
Happy anniversary, Obama. Thanks for the broken promises! — RT