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Forty-fourth President of the United States
Barack Obama

Barack Hussein Obama II (born 4 August 1961) is an American politician who served as the 44th President of the United States from 20 January 2009 to 20 January 2017. The first African American to assume the presidency, he was previously the junior United States Senator from Illinois from 2005 to 2008. Before that, he served in the Illinois State Senate from 1997 until 2004.


4 Aug 1961, Barack Hussein Obama II, in Honolulu, Hawaii


The Office of Barack and Michelle Obama
Originally, Obama's presidential campaign website, now personal website for him and his wife; includes profile page for both, contact pages, links to his social media pages and video of the final minutes of his farewell address

Web Pages

Barack Obama | The White House
Former president page; includes photo and biographical summary


Aristotle Called the 2016 Election, by Martin Cothran, 17 Nov 2016
Argues that, as per Aristotle in Rhetoric, in an election contest between a candidate with an inspiring personality (pathos) vs. another with good character (ethos) or intellect (logos), the former is more likely to win
Logos has to do with the rational strength of the message: do the speaker's words make logical sense? Are his arguments valid? Pathos has to do with the emotional state of the audience: does the speaker reach the hearts of his hearers? Does he make the audience want to believe him? ... In the 2012 election, Republican Mitt Romney focused almost exclusively on abstract economic arguments, complete with numbers and statistics. Democrat Barack Obama, on the other hand, was an inspiring speaker and the first Black president. It was Romney's logos vs. Obama's pathos. Pathos won.
Related Topics: Aristotle, Bill Clinton
The Ayatollahs' Overlooked Anti-WMD Fatwas, by Sheldon Richman, 16 Apr 2014
Additional comments on Gareth Porter's Manufactured Crisis, focusing on the Ayatollahs' position on the use of chemical and nuclear weapons, prompted by the Obama administration visa denial to the Iran ambassador to the United Nations
The visa denial seems strange considering that the Obama administration is negotiating with Iran about its nuclear-power program ... the Obama administration refuses to talk straight about Iran's nuclear intentions. For example, in 2007 and 2011, America's 16 intelligence agencies issued national-security estimates finding that any research the Iranians had been doing on nuclear weapons was terminated in 2003 ... President Barack Obama, Secretary of State John Kerry, and the mainstream media never tell the American people this. Wouldn't you think that's a critical piece of information ...?
Related Topics: Iran, Iraq
Barack Obama: Corporatist, by Sheldon Richman, 17 Apr 2012
Reviews Obama's corporate-friendly actions, particularly regarding donors and lobbyists and towards banks like Bank of America, while saying that government needs to be "responsive to the needs of people, not the needs of special interests"
Last November, President Obama ... made these remarks ... before a $17,900-a-plate fundraising dinner at the home of ... two heavy contributors to his reelection ... Welcome to Obama's new world. It looks a lot like the old. And this is not the only way it resembles politics as usual. Like his predecessors, Obama has been a good friend to big companies, especially banks ... Matt Taibbi reports that when BoA needs help, Obama is there ... Obama, who's planning to run a populist reelection campaign pitting the wealthy and well-connected against the rest of us. Hypocrisy lives — even in Obama's allegedly post-political world.
Related Topics: Banking, Corporatism, Politics
Barack Obama: The Anti Economic Growth President, by Jim Powell, 29 Feb 2012
Lists and criticizes several of Obama's policies and proposals and discusses why economic growth and progress is beneficial
Yet President Obama has backed one anti-growth policy after another. His relentless class warfare rhetoric suggests he thinks growth is bad because some people have a lot more money than others. He might deny that he's anti-growth, but his actions speak louder than words. ... He had to have known that the following policies would increase cost of operating a business ... Since Obama is a Columbia grad, a Harvard Law grad and a Nobel Prize winner, he's clearly a smart guy who knows what he's doing. It's hard to avoid the conclusion that he has pursued these policies precisely because they're anti-growth.
Big Brother, not Snowden and Greenwald, Is the Story, by Sheldon Richman, 27 Jun 2013
Examines the reaction from various media pundits and talking heads (Joe Scarborough, Mika Brzezinski, Andrea Mitchell, Chris Matthews, etc.) both progressive and conservative to the Snowden and Greenwald revelations about NSA data collection
Plenty of reporters and cable-news talking heads are playing the same role in the NSA drama. Indeed, if they spent half the time investigating Obama's Big Brother operations that they spend sneering ... Americans might demand that the government stop spying on them. But to much of the mainstream (and not-so-mainstream) media, Snowden and Greenwald—not the NSA, the Obama administration, and the supine Congress — are the story ... Snowden and Greenwald have not "aided the enemy"—unless the American people are the government's enemy. What they have done is embarrass the Obama administration by exposing criminal activity.
Big Pharma and Crony Capitalism, by Wendy McElroy, 9 Jul 2012
Examines the ways in which large pharmaceutical companies influence government agencies such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
Certainly, commentators blast individual politicians for being "in bed" with big pharma. The most recent assault is on Obama. In the article "Obama's Backroom Big Pharma Deals Exposed," Health Wire (June 13, 2012) reported on "a large amount of emails and other memos" between the Obama administration and "some of the country's biggest pharmaceutical companies." The gist of the scandal is that Obama is accused of coordinating a $150 million pro-Obamacare ad campaign with huge pharmaceutical companies in exchange for granting them policy concessions worth billions.
Can Iran Trust the United States?, by Sheldon Richman, 2 Oct 2013
Turns around the question of whether the United States can trust Iran, by examining the "covert and proxy war" led by former against the latter
[Iranians] have good reason to doubt the sincerity of recent conciliatory statements, especially when President Obama insists that "all options are on the table" — which logically includes a military and even nuclear attack. Obama should match the conciliatory words with action. But, some will say, Iran is building a nuclear bomb. The problem is that this is not true ... Despite the peace overtures from President Rouhani, which echo those of his predecessors, Obama is on a course for war. He should spurn the warmongers and choose peace.
Related Topics: Iran, Israel, Transportation
The Danger Is Intervention, Not "Isolation", by Sheldon Richman, 29 May 2014
Reflects on pronouncements by President Obama (at West Point) and Defense Secretary Hagel (at a Chicago foreign affairs forum) on Americans turning more "isolationist"
President Obama and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel are the latest to express concern that the American appetite for managing foreign conflicts is waning. In his West Point speech, Obama said the military is the "backbone" of American leadership, even as he claimed that force is not the first answer to every problem ... Obama says he will draw down forces in Afghanistan, and this upsets the militarists, such as Sens. ... Graham and ... McCain and the editorial boards of the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post ... Even people who are tired of Afghanistan after 13 years want Obama to intervene more directly in Syria.
The Disaster That Is U.S. Foreign Policy, by Sheldon Richman, 6 Jun 2014
Considers the effect of U.S. involvement in the Middle East in the past two decades, in view of the Bergdahl-Taliban prisoner exchange, and reflects on the practical effect of killing Osama bin Laden
An awful lot of people, led by right-wing politicians ... are angry at Barack Obama for trading five Taliban officials ... for an American soldier, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl ... Obama had the nerve to embrace — on the grounds of the White House no less — the soldier's parents ... For the right-wing, the Bergdahl matter confirmed every fear they ever had about Obama ... Obama's boosters would never have tolerated Bush flouting a requirement that he give Congress 30 days notice of some action ... Obama boasts that "bin Laden is dead." But in practical terms, what does that mean? Not very much, writes Patrick Cockburn ...
Does Obama Have the Courage to Pursue Peace with Iran?, by Sheldon Richman, 23 Oct 2013
Examines how the warmongers in the U.S. Congress as well Netanyahu's government put pressure on Barack Obama not to reach a peaceful agreement with Iran on the nuclear issue
Settling the nuclear controversy with Iran peacefully will require courage on President Obama's part. Does he have what it will take to resist those who prefer war? ... Obama has yet to stake out a promising unequivocal position ... Congress controls the sanctions regime ... this potential obstruction to peace ... Obama inflicted on himself. "During Obama's presidency," the Leveretts write,
many U.S. sanctions that started out as executive order sanctions have been written into law, with conditions for their removal that go well beyond progress on the nuclear issue ...
... Obama must stand up to Netanyahu and the war party.
Related Topics: Iran, Israel
Does Obama Want an Agreement with Iran or Not?, by Sheldon Richman, 18 Dec 2013
Ponders the sincerity of Obama and his administration's actions after negotiating an interim agreement with Iran regarding sanctions
What are President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry up to with Iran? First they boasted of a historic interim agreement with Iran regarding its civilian nuclear program ... Then they prevailed on the U.S. Senate to hold off on imposing more economic sanctions ... But ... While ostensibly defending the interim agreement before a pro-Israel audience ... Obama put the chances of a permanent agreement at only 50 percent. Why the lack of optimism, given the recent successful round of negotiations? Was he playing the Israel card ...? (Obama has repeatedly said "all options are on the table," including military force.)
Related Topic: Iran
The Economics Lesson Obama Needs to Learn, by Sheldon Richman, 25 Jul 2013
Explains economics (scarcity, the marketplace, entrepreneurship) in simple terms and contrasts government projects and "services" to those undertaken or provided subject to the market test of the consumers
President Obama is again turning his attention to the elusive economic recovery. His "pivot" will be for naught, however, as long as he continues to ignore two important points: first, government is a major squanderer of scarce resources, and second, its regulations are impediments to saving and investment ... [B]ut it's actually worse. What government does with the stolen resources typically makes it harder for us to use the remaining resources productively ... An indispensable prerequisite of economic well-being is humility on the part of politicians. How about it, President Obama?
Familiar Bedfellows, by Sheldon Richman, 19 Nov 2014
Examines Hillary Clinton's review of Henry Kissinger's World Order (2014)
If I didn’t know better, I'd suspect some pseudonymous writer of having fun with irony in this review. Behold:
President Obama explained the overarching challenge we faced in his Nobel lecture in December 2009. After World War II, he said, "America led the world in constructing an architecture to keep the peace ..."
Keep the peace — if you don't count the mass atrocity that was the Vietnam War, the U.S.-sponsored Israeli oppression of Palestinians, and various massacres carried out by U.S.-backed "leaders" in such places as Bangladesh (formerly East Pakistan), East Timor, Chile, and elsewhere.
Foreign Policy Failure Everywhere, by Sheldon Richman, 17 Feb 2015
Examines the results of several decades of American intervention in the Middle East, Europe and elsewhere
Despite President Obama's assurances that America's combat role in the unceasingly violent Afghanistan is over, we know it is not. ISIS expands under American and allied airstrikes, the best recruiting program the Islamists could want. There was no ISIS in Iraq or Syria before America invaded the former and called open season on the regime in the latter. In response, Obama seeks unlimited war power. ISIS franchises are emerging throughout the Arab and Muslim world ... Obama can't make up his mind about what his war on ISIS means for his opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who also opposes ISIS and al-Qaeda.
Getting Away with Torture, by Sheldon Richman, 17 Dec 2014
Discusses some of the responses to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence report on the CIA's Detention and Interrogation Program, declassified in Dec 2014
The U.S. military detained and tortured more people than the CIA did, and despite appearances, President Obama has not ruled that out for the future. As Jeffrey Kaye reported ...
... On 22 January 2009, President Obama released an executive order stating that any individual held by any US government agency "shall not be subjected to any interrogation technique or approach, or any treatment related to interrogation, that is not authorized by and listed in Army Field Manual 2 22.3." ...
... Obama is flouting the law by not pressing for legal action, and torture victims have been denied redress in court.
Give America a Raise?, by Sheldon Richman, 5 Feb 2014
Reflects on a remark in the 2014 State of the Union address and explains why legislating a minimum wage tends to harm those it supposedly intends to help
President Obama said something especially perplexing when he implored Congress during his State of the Union address to "Give America a raise." ... We live in a nominally private-enterprise economy, so it should strike the ear as odd to hear Obama acknowledge that it's not a private-enterprise economy at all, much less a free-enterprise economy ... Obama of course was calling on Congress to raise the minimum wage from $7.25 to $10.10 an hour. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics says that only 4.7 percent of hourly workers made the minimum wage or less in 2012, so those 3.6 million people hardly constitute "America."
Government Is the Problem, by Sheldon Richman, Future of Freedom, Aug 2013
Discusses a spring 2013 speech by Barack Obama, the facts that contradict his statements and delves into "our experiment in self-government" and the problems of representation dating even to the Founding Fathers
Last spring Barack Obama told the graduating class of Ohio State University,
Unfortunately, you've grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that's at the root of all our problems ... You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can't be trusted.
As he said this, four scandals—the Benghazi blunder and obfuscation, IRS political profiling, secret investigations of reporters, and NSA spying—were about to explode in public.
Honesty among Thieves, by Michael Tennant, 30 Jul 2008
Discusses the case of a Minnesota college student who was prosecuted for offering his vote for sale on eBay (for a $10 minimum), and comparing that to the "gigantic" monetary and benefits promises made by both candidates Obama and McCain
Democrat Barack Obama is offering up the following stolen merchandise to those who will pull the lever for him in November:
  • $50 billion in "economic stimulus" spending ...
  • $60 billion toward a "National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank." ...
  • $150 billion to "advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure." ...
  • Unspecified amounts, but surely in the hundreds of billions or even trillions, to "make available a new national health plan to all Americans" for which no applicant can be turned down and which will be comprehensive. ...
And that's just a sampling!
Related Topics: H. L. Mencken, Voting
I'd Like My Money Back, by Mary Theroux, 14 Apr 2009
Letter to President Obama, California Congresswomen, the California Governor, the Alameda County Tax Collector and the Mayor of Oakland, pleading that they return "all monies previously remitted, for non-performance of services"
[T]hough Americans were led to believe that Afghanistan was secured years ago, such turns out not to be the case: you have acknowledged, Pres. Obama, that the "Taliban is resurgent and Al-Qaeda threatens America from its safe haven along the Afghan-Pakistan border;" Pakistan has ceded one province to the Taliban, with more likely to follow. And ...: where is Osama bin Laden? Perhaps you all would have done well to heed the Independent Institute's solution, proposed in September of 2001 and in accordance with ... the U.S. Constitution, to let privateers bring bin Laden in for justice.
Related Topics: California, Iraq War, Taxation
Iran: It's Not about Nuclear Weapons, by Sheldon Richman, 26 Nov 2013
Examines the 2013 Joint Plan of Action agreement between Iran P5+1 countries and the rationales of the deal's main opponents: the governments of Saudi Arabia and Israel
As William O. Beeman points out in the Huffington Post, "There is a strange irony in President Obama's announcement of the temporary agreement. He mentioned the term "nuclear weapon" multiple times ..., implying that Iran was on a path to develop such a weapon. One wonders if he actually believes this or if his repeated implied accusation was a rhetorical device designed to placate his hard-line critics. The president must know by this time that there is no evidence that Iran has or ever had a nuclear weapons program. Every relevant intelligence agency in the world has verified this fact for more than a decade ..."
Related Topics: Iran, Israel, Saudi Arabia
Is Obama Trying to Alienate Muslim-American Youth?, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Oct 2014
Examines the Obama administration's contradictory stances on the Islamic State (ISIS) and its outreach efforts towards young American Muslims
It's unlikely that President Obama and his national-security team will consider the connection between U.S. bombings in Iraq and Syria, which have already taken civilian lives, and the alienation of young American Muslims. It's hard to read sincerity into the administration's campaign to win the loyalty of Muslim youth when ... "the White House has acknowledged for the first time that strict standards President Obama imposed last year to prevent civilian deaths from U.S. drone strikes will not apply to U.S. military operations in Syria and Iraq." ... Once again the administration is trying to have its cake and eat it too.
Related Topics: Middle East, Syria, Terrorism
Is the Foreign-Policy Elite Clueless?, by Sheldon Richman, 17 Sep 2014
Examines the policies of the Bush and Obama administrations in Iraq and Syria that led to the rise of the Islamic State
Obama, with the help of then secretary of state Hillary Clinton and British Prime Minister David Cameron, made a bad situation worse by declaring that Assad must give up power. Thus compromise would be suicidal for Assad, and al-Qaeda-type fighters from the region (such as next-door Iraq) were encouraged to flock to Syria because Assad's days were apparently numbered ... The Islamic State, a product of idiotic U.S. actions, controls large parts of Syria and Iraq ... In response, Obama wants to obliterate the Islamic State (by air) without helping Iran or Assad or alienating Sunnis. Talk about squaring the circle!
Related Topics: George W. Bush, Iran, Syria
The Lie Factory, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 7 Jun 2013
Contrasts Obama's 23 May 2013 statements regarding the continuing conflict in Afghanistan vs. an analysis by indepedent journalist Conn M. Hallinan and other reports
In his latest major address on foreign policy, President Obama said this:
So after I took office ... we pursued a new strategy in Afghanistan ... The Afghan war is coming to an end.
... Afghanistan is a hellhole ... But what about the legendary Obama surge of 2009? ... Shortly after taking office, Obama sent about 30,000 more [troops] ... The facts don't stop Obama from giving the same rosy reports while promising to have the troops out by the end of next year ... Obama apparently is looking for a way to bring home most of the troops without the place collapsing in chaos, which would be bad for his legacy.
Memorializing the Horrors of War with 10 Must-See War Films, by John W. Whitehead, 27 May 2016
Comments on the events of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and on more recent wars, then suggests ten films that focus on "the nasty business of war"; ends by contrasting Obama's and Martin Luther King's Nobel Peace Prize speeches
Nearly 71 years ago, the United States unleashed atomic bombs on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing more than 200,000 individuals, many of whom were civilians. Fast forward to the present day, and President Obama—the antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who has waged war longer than any American president and whose legacy includes targeted-drone killings and at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror—is paying lip service to the victims of America's nuclear carnage, all the while continuing to feed the war machine.
Mission Creep in Iraq, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Aug 2014
Examines how the initial Aug 2014 "humanitarian" intervention in Iraq, following the Sinjar massacre, keeps morphing into something bigger
On August 7, Barack Obama said that the U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq were to protect Americans from the Islamic State's threat to the Kurdish city of Erbil, where the U.S. government has a consulate. He also said ... airstrikes would be part of a humanitarian mission to save "thousands — perhaps tens of thousands" — of Yezidis ... On August 9 he said, "We will continue to provide military assistance and advice to the Iraqi government and Kurdish forces as they battle these terrorists, so that the terrorists cannot establish a permanent safe haven." That is much broader than the mission first outlined.
Related Topics: Iraq War, Militarism
News Coverage Misinforms Americans on the Bergdahl Swap, by Sheldon Richman, 10 Jun 2014
Discusses the distorted news about the five Taliban officials released in exchange for Bowe Bergdahl, quoting sources —including the former chief prosecutor at the Guantanamo prison— that discredit the "official" story
In the Bergdahl deal, this includes portraying the five Taliban prisoners as "hard-core jihadis responsible for 9/11." ... Over and over, the five are identified as terrorists. Facts take a back seat to drama and conflict. President Obama fed this narrative: "In terms of potential threats, the release of the Taliban who were being held in Guantánamo was conditioned on the Qataris keeping eyes on them and creating a structure in which we can monitor their activities. We will be keeping eyes on them. Is there a possibility of some of them trying to return to activities that are detrimental to us? Absolutely."
Related Topic: Afghanistan
The Noninterventionists Told You So, by Sheldon Richman, 18 Jun 2014
Analyzes the 2014 Iraqi situation from the vantage point of noninterventionism, contrasting it with those who still want the Obama administration to intervene
The discussion today is almost exclusively over how the Obama administration should intervene in Iraq, not if it should intervene ... [The go-to "authorities] have their own story, of course. It's not the 2003 invasion that has brought Iraq to disintegration, they say. It is Barack Obama's failure to leave U.S. troops in Iraq after 2011. This argument doesn't work. First, Obama (wrongly) asked Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to allow troops to remain beyond the deadline negotiated by Bush, but al-Maliki insisted that U.S. personnel who commit crimes be subject to Iraqi law, a reasonable demand. Obama would not accept that.
Related Topics: Iraq, Iraq War
Obama and Kerry Jeopardize Peace with Iran, by Sheldon Richman, 30 Jan 2014
Examines pronouncements by U.S. Secretary of State Kerry and President Obama that put in doubt their stated intentions of reaching a peace agreement with Iran
Barack Obama and John Kerry should make up their minds: Do they want war or peace with Iran? We should hope for peace, but Obama and Kerry make optimism difficult ... Obama himself told the New Yorker's David Remnick there's less than an even chance of a permanent agreement, which is worse than the odds he gave late last year. And while he reminded Americans that it was the United States that overthrew a democratic Iranian government in 1953, he called on Israel and Saudi Arabia to focus on their common bond against Iran. That doesn't sound like a man seeking peace.
Related Topics: Iran, Middle East, War
Obama Follows Bush's Iraq Playbook, by Sheldon Richman, 10 Sep 2014
Examines the validity of Obama's arguments for going to war against the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) in response to the beheadings of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff in Aug/Sep 2014
Barack Obama says his job is to protect Americans wherever they are, but he doesn't cite the source ... No such power is implied ... Obama says he can go to war against ISIS anywhere without "authorization" from Congress. (No one in government or the media uses the word declaration) ... Just because most members of Congress would hate to sign off on a years-long, offensive war less than two months before an election, that's no excuse for Obama to exercise autocratic powers ... [T]he irony of Obama's position is striking. U.S. intervention in the Middle East is what endangers Americans at home.
Obama Plays with Fire in Ukraine, by Sheldon Richman, 23 Apr 2014
Discusses Obama's decision to send troops to Poland and Baltic states in addition to sanctions on Russia over the 2014 Crimea crisis and the implications of having the continued existence and expansion of the NATO alliance
President Obama says the "military option" — war, that is — is not on the table in his effort to oppose Russia in the Ukraine crisis, but can we trust him? As pressure mounts on him from America's war hawks, what will he do when sanctions fail to persuade Russian President Vladimir Putin to acquiesce? ... Could Obama withstand the immense pressure he would face to intervene directly if open hostilities broke out? How would he handle what David Brooks of the New York Times calls Obama's "manhood problem"? (Apparently, one is manly to the extent one is willing to risk a senseless war.)
Related Topics: Baltic states, Cold War, Russia, Ukraine
Obama Should Steer Clear of Ukraine, by Sheldon Richman, 26 Feb 2014
Discusses the situation in Ukraine in early 2014, including pronouncements from Barack Obama and the effects of further potential intervention by Europe, NATO, Russia or the U.S.
President Obama insists he does not regard the conflict in Ukraine "as some Cold War chessboard in which we are in competition with Russia." He'd be more credible if he were not following his predecessors in acting as though the Cold War still exists ... The Obama administration should not only forswear direct and covert intervention, it should also shut up. American presidents must learn to mind their own business, even where Russia is concerned. The potential for a nuclear confrontation is nothing to take lightly ... In the meantime, the ... administration should steer clear of Ukraine.
Related Topics: Europe, Free trade, Russia, Ukraine
Obama's Iraqi Fairy Tale, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 28 Mar 2014
Examines, in detail, Obama's 26 March 2014 remarks about the 2003 Iraqi invasion compared to Russia's annexation of Crimea
Obama's public remarks are comprehensible only if you keep one thing in mind: he, like other politicians, thinks most people are morons. I am so appalled by what Obama said in Europe the other day ... It is hard to believe that a presidential speechwriter could manage to pack so many lies into so few sentences. But the speechwriter could only compose the sentences. Obama chose to deliver them, and for that, he should be indicted for gross deception with malice aforethought. (Need I say this is not unique to Obama? Virtually all politicians are demagogues. Obama's distinguishing trait is his smoothness.)
Obama Speaks with Forked Tongue on Surveillance, by Sheldon Richman, 11 Jun 2013
Compares contradictory claims by Obama and his administration regarding Edward Snowden's disclosures of NSA monitoring, discusses the obstacles of challenging the surveillance in court and the lack of oversight
When Obama ran for president in 2008, he said Americans shouldn't have to choose between privacy and security. Now he says that "one of the things that we're going to have to discuss and debate is how are we striking this balance between the need to keep the American people safe and our concerns about privacy? Because there are some tradeoffs involved." What do you take us for, Mr. President? Do you say whatever serves your momentary interest? It's outrageous for Obama to say he welcomes this debate—when his regime is plotting to capture and prosecute the heroic whistleblower who made it possible.
Obama Still Does a Good Imitation of Bush, by Sheldon Richman, 22 Oct 2014
Considers President Obama's continuance of the torture policies of his predecessor, in spite of having supported legislation as a Senator that confirmed U.S. obligations under the United Nations Convention Against Torture
After almost six years in office, President Obama is far more like George W. Bush in national-security matters than he led the American people to believe ... Charlie Savage reports that Obama has yet to decide whether the international ban on torture applies to U.S. government conduct outside the United States ... But ... the administration may now be on the verge of declaring that U.S. government harsh conduct toward prisoners detained outside the [U.S.] ... is not covered by the Treaty Against Torture ... Anyone who voted for Obama thinking his foreign policy would be different from Bush's should have learned a hard lesson.
Obama's Willful Foreign-Policy Blindness, by Sheldon Richman, 30 May 2013
Analyzes President Obama's 23 May 2013 speech at the National Defense University, later comments on Memorial Day and the reactions from Republicans
Why did the earlier speech set off Republicans? He acknowledged that terrorism can never be completely eliminated and that a risk-free society is impossible. He conceded that U.S. military action breeds enemies ... He even quoted James Madison: "No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." Indeed, Obama said some things that need saying, but will he do what needs doing? More precisely, will he stop doing what shouldn't be done? ... Obama says he wants to understand the roots of terrorism, but he just repeats bromides. "These threats don't arise in a vacuum," he said.
The Ominous Republican Hold on Congress, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Jan 2015
Comments on what may be expected with respect to war and foreign intervention from the Republican-controlled Senate in 2015, considering also the inconsistent policy stances of Barack Obama
Barack Obama has gone back to war in Iraq and is conducting airstrikes in Syria, while leaving thousands of military personnel in Afghanistan, continuing murder by drone war in several countries, and maintaining the prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Yet there have been a few glimmers of hope. Obama has pursued negotiations with Iran over its never-was and still-is-not nuclear-weapons program ... Obama is at best ambiguous about whether all sanctions against Iran would ever be lifted ... The congressional Republicans can also be expected to block Obama's proposal to normalize relations with Cuba.
Related Topics: Cuba, Iran, Israel, Republican Party
One Hundred Years in Iraq?, by Sheldon Richman, 4 Apr 2008
Discusses John McCain's comments, made in Jan 2008, about staying in Iraq for 100 or more years and his previous comments on Iraqi reaction to the occupation, made during an interview on Charlie Rose in Nov 2007
Since then, McCain's critics have used this statement to demonize the senator. McCain and his allies have cried foul. Are the critics out of line? I don't think so. Sen. Hillary Clinton accurately summarized McCain's position: "He said recently he could see having troops in Iraq for 100 years." Sen. Barack Obama put some spin into his summary, but was certainly in the ballpark, "Senator McCain said the other day that we might be mired for 100 years in Iraq — which is reason enough not to give him four years in the White House".
Related Topic: Iraq
Open Letter to Barack Obama, by Walter Block, 16 May 2008
Explains why foreign policy is more important than economics or civil liberties when it comes to choosing between the major presidential candidates and offers some advice to then Senator (and candidate) Obama
I favor you above the other two. Why? ... Foreign policy in my view is more important than either economics or civil liberties ... [I]n this area, you stand head and shoulders above the other two ... You are different. I discern ... that beneath your ultra-liberal (socialist) voting record, and mindless demagogic sloganeering ..., there is a real concern for people, particularly the poor ... Getting out of Iraq? Good. No, excellent! ... Learn some economics, for goodness sakes ... Of the three major candidates, you seem by far to be the one most open to alternative viewpoints.
The People Say No to War, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 13 Sep 2013
Comments on how the American people, through calls and emails to Congress and opinion polls, stopped, at least momentarily, the Obama administration from going to war with Syria
Obama, his top advisers, and many of his partisans ... insist that the president of the United States has the constitutional authority to attack another country without a declaration of war ... Nevertheless, Obama has not bombed Syria (yet). Two weeks ago he told us he had decided to do so, but then he decided to put the question to Congress. After Russia offered to help collect and destroy Syria's chemical weapons and Bashar al-Assad agreed, Obama asked Congress to delay ... Obama got the message: he was heading for sure defeat in the House of Representatives and perhaps in the Senate.
The Phony Trade-off between Privacy and Security, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 16 Aug 2013
In the wake of the Edward Snowden revelations and subsequent policy directives by Barack Obama, examines the claim that, in a dangerous world, a "balance" must be struck between privacy and security
Obama & Co. say they welcome a public debate about calibrating the trade-off between security and privacy. No, they don't. They wouldn't even be going through the motions had it not been for the heroic whistleblower Edward Snowden ... Obama's new directive creating the Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies is charged with "accounting for other policy considerations, such as the risk of unauthorized disclosure and our need to maintain the public trust." Unlike his public statement, the official directive says nothing about preventing violations of privacy and related abuses.
The Politicians Are Scaring You Again, by Sheldon Richman, 16 Oct 2014
Comments on scaremongering efforts by Obama administration as well as opposition offiicials in order to gain support for military action against the Islamic State
Administration officials leave the impression that the Islamic State (ISIS), which holds territory in Iraq and Syria, directly threatens Americans at home, although when pressed, these officials won't say this outright. In interviews President Obama says there is no "immediate intelligence" concerning a threat, but he insists the U.S. military must strike ISIS now or else ... Obama wants it both ways: to scare the people into supporting a new American war in Iraq and Syria, without creating a panic. "We will not tolerate safe havens for terrorists who threaten our people," Obama said.
Related Topics: Politicians, Terrorism
Socialism and Medicine, Part 3, by William L. Anderson, Freedom Daily, Jul 2008
Further examination of medical care in the United States, analyzing the calls for "mandates" for universal health care
[H]ere is what [Krugman] has to say about a plan by one presidential candidate, Barack Obama, that is not fully "mandated":
... Mr. Obama claims that mandates won't work, pointing out that many people don't have car insurance despite state requirements that all drivers be insured. Um, is he saying that states shouldn't require that drivers have insurance? If not, what's his point? ... Mr. Obama accuses his rivals of not explaining how they would enforce mandates, and suggests that the mandate would require some kind of nasty, punitive enforcement ...
The State: Judge in its Own Cause, by Kevin Carson, 22 Aug 2013
Explores, with several historical examples, the United States government's role in judging itself or disregarding its laws
At a 2011 press conference President Obama, in response to a question about Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, said "We are a nation of laws. We don't let individuals make decisions about how the law operates." ... At the same press conference where he gave the quote above, Obama said: "... I have to abide by certain rules of classified information. If I were to release material I weren't allowed to, I'd be breaking the law." But Obama does that all the time. The movie "Zero Dark Thirty" is chock full of classified material leaked with the full complicity of the Obama administration.
Substance, not style, by Daniel Koffler, 9 Feb 2008
Contrasts several of presidential candidate Obama's 2008 issue positions with those of Hillary Clinton and argues his approach could be called left-libertarianism
Obama's language of personal choice and incentive is a reflection of the ideas of his lead economic advisor, Austin Goolsbee, a behavioural economist at the University of Chicago ... Obama's belief in freedom in labour markets and freedom in capital markets, sets him apart from the Republican field as well as the Democrats ... Obama's slogan, "stand for change", is ... a content-laden token of dissent from the old-style liberal orthodoxy ... Obama and Goolsbee propose something entirely different— ... a basis for crafting public policy orthogonal to the traditional liberal-conservative axis.
The Surveillance State Lives, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Jan 2014
Examines Obama's 17 Jan 2014 speech "Remarks by the President on Review of Signals Intelligence" announcing some "reforms" to surveillance programs
President Obama has some nerve. He opened his speech on NSA spying by likening his surveillance regime to Paul Revere and the Sons of Liberty. How insulting! ... As Glenn Greenwald aptly put it, Obama's "defining value to the permanent power factions that run Washington" is that he "prettifies the ugly; he drapes the banner of change over systematic status quo perpetuation; he makes Americans feel better about policies they find repellent without the need to change any of them in meaningful ways. He's not an agent of change but the soothing branding packaging for it." ... Obama's own veracity must also be questioned.
TANSTAAFL, There Ain't No Such Thing as a Free Lunch, by David R. Henderson, 3 Mar 2014
Explains the two meanings of TANSTAAFL: the scarcity of economic resources (and the need for tradeoffs) and the expectation of some kind of reciprocity when something is offered for "free"
"What do you want the government to spend less on?" ... PBS newsman Jim Lehrer [asked] ... Both candidates had agreed, just a few days earlier, to vote for some version of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) ... But both Obama and McCain seemed to take as given that the cost of the program would be very high ... Obama ... after admitting that "there are a range of things that are probably going to have to be delayed" and that "there's no doubt that we're not going to be able to do everything that I think needs to be done," gave no specifics. Indeed, he devoted the remainder of his answer to naming programs that he would not cut.
Trivial Dispute: Obama versus the Interventionists, by Sheldon Richman, The Goal Is Freedom, 30 May 2014
Examines Barack Obama's speech at the 2014 West Point graduation and points out the scant differences between him and those advocating military intervention, in arguments for continued U.S. meddling in other countries' affairs
[I]n Barack Obama's address to the West Point graduates ... as in other speeches on foreign policy, Obama tried to position himself in what he likes to portray as the reasonable center. On the one side is "isolationism" ... On the other are those he calls "the interventionists from the left and right" ... To do this he has to misrepresent what he stigmatizes as "isolationism" and create a straw man in order to place himself in opposition to the interventionists ... Except for the nod to "collective action," it is hard to see how this policy distinguishes Obama from the people he calls interventionists.
Trump’s Support and Praise of Despots Is Central to the U.S. Tradition, Not a Deviation From It, by Glenn Greenwald, 2 May 2017
Discusses recent criticism of Donald Trump that claims that his foreign policy towards known dictators and tyrants constitutes a major shift, when in fact that has been standard U.S. policy since at least the end of World War II
Obama .... repeatedly hosted Saudi despots at the White House. When the monstrous Saudi King died in 2015, Obama terminated his state visit to India in order to fly to Riyadh ... the U.S. has spent decades supporting tyrants and despots whose calling card is "extrajudicial killings" ... the central war on terror approach of the Obama presidency was exactly that. For years, Obama bombed multiple Muslim countries in order to kill people — including his own citizens — who his administration suspected, but never proved, had connections to terrorism. In other words, he killed thousands of people extrajudicially.
Unjust Immigration Law Is Not Law, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Nov 2014
Discusses President Obama's decision to defer deportation of some undocumented immigrants, although three years ago he had said he lacked such authority
So President Obama is going to defer deportation of five million people without government papers, mostly parents of children whom the government deems citizens or legal permanent residents. Under his executive order, most will get permission to work. ... Why only 5 million? The government estimates that over 11 million persons live in the United States without its "permission." Obama presumably is focusing on the 5 million because he does not want to see them forcibly separated from their children. Good for him. That's a worthy motive and objective. So why didn't he do this years ago?
Related Topics: Rule of Law, Lysander Spooner
The U.S. Government Still Tries to Subvert Cuba, by Sheldon Richman, 6 Aug 2014
Comments on the 2014 disclosure that operatives of the U.S. Agency for International Development attempted to incite opposition to the Cuban government
The AP news report said President Barack Obama and presumably then–secretary of state Hillary Clinton had plotted to incite a popular uprising — to "gin up opposition" — against the Cuban government ... Did Obama, Clinton, and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which oversaw the operation, learn nothing from the 1960s ... The program, which lasted at least two years, began shortly after Obama's inauguration ... you'd think Obama and Clinton would have learned that the best way to liberate Cuba is for the United States to normalize relations, complete with free trade and free travel.
Related Topics: Cuba, John F. Kennedy
U.S. Has No Moral Standing to Condemn Assad, by Sheldon Richman, 28 Aug 2013
Questions the propriety of the U.S. government's moral pronouncements (and potential military actions) in response to allegations that Syria's government used chemical weapons
Obama's previous intervention [in the Syrian civil war] is what has brought us to this point. Instead of steering clear of this regional conflict, he declared that Assad must go; designated the use of chemical weapons as a "red line" the crossing of which would bring a U.S. response; and armed and otherwise aided Assad's opposition, which is dominated by al-Qaeda-style jihadists who have no good feelings toward America. Once an American president does these things, further steps are almost inevitable if for no other reason than that "American credibility" will be said to be at stake.
Related Topics: Syria, War
Vote Harder: The Barack Obama Story, by Kevin Carson, 19 Aug 2013
Examines the results of progressives voting in 2008 for "the most anti-war, anti-police state Democrat in decades": Barack Obama
Progressive calls to defeat corporate power and the warfare-surveillance state through more enthusiastic engagement in electoral politics sound about equally plausible ... Obama entered ... as a challenger from Hillary Clinton's left, packaging himself as the alternative to her national security establishmentarian brand. He opposed the Iraq war, promised to shut down Gitmo and denounced warrantless domestic wiretapping by the NSA. In 2013, we see this "progressive" superstar ... presiding over the massive expansion of illegal drone warfare around the world and the largest expansion of the surveillance state in history.
We Must Not Be the World’s Policeman, by Sheldon Richman, 4 Sep 2013
Considers whether United States government actions. such as bombing, against the goverment of Syria's Bashar al-Assad are justified from moral or constitutional perspectives
Even if everything Secretary of State John Kerry says about chemical weapons in Syria were true, [it] would not prove that the U.S. government has either the moral or legal authority to commit acts of war. We have reason to be skeptical of Kerry's case—why did President Obama try to stop the UN inspection? ... Obama and Kerry have tried hard to invoke "national security" as grounds for bombing Syria, but no one believes Assad threatens Americans ... He is engulfed in a sectarian civil war. Inexcusably, Obama has taken sides in that civil war—the same side as the Syrian al-Qaeda affiliate ...
Related Topics: Middle East, Syria, United States, War
Will American Ground Troops Be Sent to Fight ISIS?, by Sheldon Richman, 25 Sep 2014
Analyzes Barack Obama's statements, made on 17 Sep 2014, regarding his anti-Islamic State strategy of (a) not sending American ground forces and (b) being merely a part of "a broad coalition"
In his speech at MacDill Air Force base on September 17, Obama said,
As your Commander-in-Chief, I will not commit you and the rest of our Armed Forces to fighting another ground war in Iraq. After a decade of massive ground deployments, it is more effective to use our unique capabilities in support of partners on the ground so they can secure their own countries' futures. And that's the only solution that will succeed over the long term.
Although Obama was at an air force base, he was probably talking more to the general public than to the assembled troops, many members of which may be disappointed ...
Related Topics: Middle East, United States

Cartoons and Comic Strips

Declaration of Thingamajig, by Mark Fiore, 22 Jun 2011
On the wars ... hostilities ... thingamajigs of the U.S. empire
Related Topics: Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Pakistan, Yemen


Penn's Obama Rant, by Penn Jillette, Penn's Sunday School, 19 May 2012
Penn talks about Obama's admission of using "marijuana and maybe a little blow"
Related Topic: War on Drugs


Military Times: Obama—contractors in security-force
Senator Obama interviewed by editorial board of the Military Times magazine (now Military History Matters), discussing the use of private military contractors like Blackwater
There is room for private contractors: work in a mess hall ..., providing basic supplies and doing some logistical work ... I am troubled by the use of private contractors when it comes to potential armed engagement ... If ... you start making decisions about armed engament based on the availability of private contractors to fill holes and gaps, that over time you are, I believe, eroding the core of our military's relationship to the nation and how accountability is structured. I think you're privatizing, something that is, what essentially sets a nation-state apart, which is the monopoly on violence ...
Related Topic: The State

The introductory paragraph uses material from the Wikipedia article "Barack Obama" as of 6 Jun 2018, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.