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

Web Sites

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
Barack Obama: Corporatist, by Sheldon Richman, 17 Apr 2012
Reviews Obama's corporate-friendly (and hypocritical) actions, particularly towards banks like Bank of America
"Last November, President Obama ... made these remarks ... before a $17,900-a-plate fundraising dinner at the home of Dwight and Antoinette C. Bush, 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. ... 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 Topic: Corporatism
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 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 pharmaceutical companies influence government agencies like the 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."
UpdDoes 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
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
UpdNews 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
Obama Follows Bush's Iraq Playbook, by Sheldon Richman, 10 Sep 2014
Examines the validity of Obama's arguments for going to war against ISIS/ISIL based on the beheadings of two American journalists
"Barack Obama says his job is to protect Americans wherever they are, but he doesn't cite the source ... No such power is implied in [his] oath of office ... 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 ... the 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 on top of sanctions on Russia over the 2014 Crimea crisis and the implications of having the NATO alliance continue to exist and even expand eastward
"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: Russia, Ukraine
Obama's Iraqi Fairy Tale, by Sheldon Richman, 28 Mar 2014
Examines, in detail, Obama's 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 of online activity and telephone calls
"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 United States ... 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."
Related Topics: Republican Party, Terrorism
UpdOne 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. ... And, in this area, you stand head and shoulders above the other two major candidates. ... 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."
Substance, not style, by Daniel Koffler, 9 Feb 2008
Contrasts several of presidential candidate Obama's issue positions with those of Hillary Clinton and argues his approach could be called left-libertarianism
"Rather, Obama's language of personal choice and incentive is a reflection of the ideas of his lead economic advisor, Austin Goolsbee, a behavioural economist ... Perhaps it goes without saying that 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."
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) ... 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."
UpdThe 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 ..."
The Lie Factory, by Sheldon Richman, 7 Jun 2013
Contrasts Obama's 23 May 2013 statements regarding the continuing conflict in Afghanistan vs. an analysis by Conn Hallinan and other reports
"If this and the usual sycophantic news reporting is all you've heard lately about the war in Afghanistan, you might think things are going well, that "America's forces are winning." They are not ... But what about the legendary Obama surge of 2009? ... Shortly after taking office, Obama sent about 30,000 more ... 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."
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
"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
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."
The Surveillance State Lives, by Sheldon Richman, 21 Jan 2014
Examines Obama's 17 Jan 2014 "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.""
Trivial Dispute: Obama versus the Interventionists, by Sheldon Richman, 30 May 2014
Examines the scant differences between President Obama and those advocating military intervention, in arguments for continued U.S. meddling in other countries' affairs
"... in 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."
UpdUnjust 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
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."

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
"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.