Sunday, 20 June 2010

Obama worse than Bush?‏

A guest Blog from Kevin Carter

I’m not often drawn to comment on articles, but I thoroughly agree with the article on Politico by Josh Gerstein, ACLU chief 'disgusted' with Obama . After 18 months it feels like all we've had are the implied approval of Bush's war-mongering and cutting of civil liberties by not reversing those policies when Obama had the opportunity.

For example, we’ve had further expansion of activity in Afghanistan. We’ve also had no reversal of Bush's relaxation of environmental regulations on - for example - the energy industry, which helped contribute to the situation in the Gulf of Mexico with BP, who the Obama administration insist on calling British Petroleum even though the name changed in 1999 and the company is 39% US owned to 40% UK owned.

Another example is the approval of a private health insurance scheme that will do little to help the neediest in American society and merely pour yet more money into the immoral coffers of private insurance companies.

Indeed, given that Bush promised little and delivered little where as Obama promised 'change' and has delivered more of the same, there's a very good argument to make that Obama is worse than Bush. Maybe not in absolute terms, although a continuation of Bush’s policies provides plenty of argument that he’s no better either. But, taking into account our expectations, for sure we can make that case. After all, what is less forgivable: a man who refuses a friend a favour, or a man who promises a friend a favour and then doesn't follow through?

Given my liberal leanings, I desperately wanted Obama to be true to his promises (and, with it, the widely foretold prophecies of the potential cultural enlightening that electing a first African-American President of the USA might deliver) but after reading around the subject both before and immediately after his election I did warn friends that it wasn't likely to happen.

The article linked to above ACLU chief 'disgusted' with Obama includes these edited

"The top official at the American Civil Liberties Union seems to be losing patience with President Barack Obama and his administration. Speaking at a conference of liberal activists Wednesday morning, ACLU Executive Director Anthony Romero didn't mince his words about the administration's handling of civil liberties issues. "I'm going to start provocatively ... I'm disgusted with this president," Romero told the America's Future Now breakout session, according to blogger Marcy Wheeler of

In an interview with POLITICO, Romero confirmed the gist of the quote, though he emphasized it wasn't intended as an ad hominem attack. "I'm not disgusted at President Obama personally. It's President Obama's policies on civil liberties and national security issues I'm disgusted by. It's not a personal attack," Romero said. While liberals of various stripes have or had gripes with how Obama has conducted himself since taking office, civil libertarians may well be the most disillusioned at this point.

"There was a discussion this morning, and there has been generally in progressive circles, about expectations that have not been met. I made the point that expectations were high because the president set expectations very high," Romero said.

Asked why he's so animated now, Romero said: "It’s 18 months and, if not now, when? ... Guantanamo is still not closed. Military commissions are still a mess. The administration still uses state secrets to shield themselves from litigation. There's no prosecution for criminal acts of the Bush administration. Surveillance powers put in place under the Patriot Act have been renewed. If there has been change in the civil liberties context, I frankly don't see it."

Many analysts now regard it as unlikely that Guantanamo, which was supposed to close this past January under Obama's presidential order on the subject, will close this year. Romero agreed that if Sept. 11 trials proceed before military commissions at Guantanamo it's hard to see how the prison will close in the year or two after that.

"The unwillingness of the administration to stick by its guns and prosecute the Sept. 11 defendants in criminal court does not bode well for the broader civil liberties agenda," he said. "The fact they've not announced anything raises the specter of doubt that, in itself, is debilitating to the Justice Department and raises serious questions about the administration's commitment to the rule of law. Their silence speaks volumes."

Dazmando notes: It would appear that many Liberals are losing patients with the promise that Obama appeared to bring of new hope. How much is this down to who Obama is or what he believes he can get past the divided politicians and the outspoken American Right Wing is unknown. Althought if it is the latter then Obama is not taking enough risks because he would be attacked by the right anyway but does he really want to be attacked by the Centre, the Left and the Liberals as well. Obama needs to stand up and show the world what hes really made off. If Obama doesn't them everyone will lose faith with him.

Todays link is to the Norfolk Blogger who ask Just why the Green Party don't get economics


  1. That Norfolk Blogger is a bit odd, he implies the BP fiasco is the fault of the Green Party! He even gets confused between BNP and BP.

    Is it poor economics to want ethical investment? Its better long term as its more sustainable.