The Pretender

As a political science major with grand ambitions at Columbia University during the early Reagan era, Barack Obama certainly studied Niccolo Machiavelli’s famous treatise on Renaissance statecraft The Prince (1532). The following passage from that slim volume surely passed his eyes: “How praiseworthy it is for a prince to keep his word and to live with integrity and not by cunning, everyone knows. Nevertheless, one sees from experience in our time that princes who have accomplished great deeds are those who have thought little about keeping faith and who have known how to cunningly manipulate men’s minds.”

By Machiavelli’s account, a successful prince had to “seem” to possess noble qualities while engaging in deception and otherwise “enter[ing] into evil when forced by necessity” (which was quite often in Machiavelli’s view). “To those seeing and hearing him, he should appear to be all mercy, all faithfulness, all integrity, all humanity, and all religion” – even while he violated each of these principles on a regular basis. “It is necessary,” Machiavelli counseled, “to know how to…be a great pretender and dissembler.”

It was all very doable, Machiavelli felt, since “Men are so simple-minded and so controlled by their immediate needs that he who deceives will always find someone who will let himself be deceived” and “ordinary people are always taken in by appearances and by the outcome of an event.” [1]



The Bush-Cheney GOP: Dropping the Machiavellian Ball

What was the problem with the George W. Bush-Dick Cheney administration and the Republican Party as far as the United States’ ruling and Machiavellian business elite and imperial establishment were concerned – a problem so great that Wall Street invested to a record-setting degree in the presidential candidacy of a supposedly liberal, left-leaning, and Black Democrat in 2007 and 2008? The main difficulty was that Bush43 had been too transparently evil in overly obvious service to the super-wealthy Few – those Bush once half-jokingly called “my base” and who would later be anointed “the 1 Percent.” Along the way, the Bush-Cheney-(Karl) Rove regime was too blatantly, too crudely, and too visibly imperialist, militarist, racist, patriarchal, and authoritarian. It became a big bad black eye for Uncle Sam – a brand spoiler at home and abroad.

The trick for a smart and savvy US president is to serve those atop the nation’s interrelated hierarchies of class, race, gender, and empire while appearing to work for democracy and the common good. Cowboy Bush43 dropped the Machiavellian ball that all US presidents carry for the US power elite. He was boorish and clumsy, too coarse to sustain the manipulative appearance of benevolent and democratic concern for “We the People” and “the General Welfare” (key phrases from the preamble to the US Constitution). He threatened to make overly plain and understandable who really ruled the “homeland’s” corporate-managed “democracy.” At the same time, his brazenly criminal, mass-murderous, racist, and unilateral, petro-imperialist invasion of Iraq on grotesquely false pretexts revolted the planet, richly confirming longstanding global perceptions of the US as a deadly and selfish rogue state.


Stealthier Service to Reigning Hierarchies

A major national re-branding was required to re-cloak American Empire and Inequality in false democratic clothes in the wake of the long Bush-Cheney-Rove nightmare. The fake-progressive and in fact “deeply conservative” [2]) and carefully establishment-vetted [3] Obama phenomenon provided a seemingly heaven-sent vehicle for Washington’s required image overhaul. It was made to order and right on time as the financial system and broader economy began to implode, necessitating a massive taxpayer bailout of the parasitic financial institutions that created the disaster in the first place. The Republicans’ long and all-too plainly plutocratic presence in the White House and the GOP’s reputation as the leading party of Big Business made it preferable for the moneyed elite that the president overseeing that populace-nauseating transfer be a supposedly liberal Democrat, not another rich white Republican. That the “liberal” Democrat who rose to instant celebrity at the 2004 Democratic National Convention was technically black was a great faux-democratic, identity-politicized neoliberal bonus[4]. “Brand Obama” held further plusses for the imperial project: the next president’s technically Muslim nomenclature and his deceptive “antiwar” credentials promised to combine with his color to promise to help the US undo some of the injury Bush43’s excessively barefaced imperialism had done to “Brand USA” in the Middle East and around the entire, mostly non-white world.[5]

Consistent with his longstanding “vacuous-to-repressive neoliberal politics” (Adolph Reed, Jr.’s description of an unnamed, freshly elected state senator Obama’s world view in January of 1996[6]) and the historic elite campaign finance and corporate media backing he received in 2008[7], the nation’s first half-white (“black but not like Jesse”) president has dedicated much of his time in the White House to picking up the Machiavellian ball of deception on behalf of the rich and powerful. He is no less beholden to or enamored with the nation’s reigning hierarchies than his blustering and buffoonish predecessor. He never was. His mission, however, has been to serve the nation’s great white capitalist and imperial masters in a less clumsy and more stealthy, cleverly deceptive fashion, consistent with Machiavelli’s counsel. It’s not mainly about him. The princes who are served by his great pretending and dissembling are the nation’s real rulers at the pinnacles of “the 1 Percent.”


The Deporter-in-Chief

Compare Obama44’s war on immigrants with that of Bush43. Obama has managed to actually increase the number of immigrants deported from the US to record levels, forcing out 1. 6 million between 2009 and 2012 – quite a shock to civil rights activists enamored by candidate Obama’s promise of “real immigration reform”. But the new “Deporter-in-Chief” (some activists’ revealing term for the “liberal” president) has done this in a much quieter way than Bush43, (also a record-setting deporter in his day). In the final years of his administration, Bush undertook a harsh immigration crackdown replete with provocative military-style raids on US factories and farms. Candidate Obama attacked Bush’s raids for “terrorizing” Latino communities. As president, he prefers a stealthier, more behind-the-scenes approach, one that avoids high-profile armed-force assaults but yields a higher rate of family-shattering arrest and expulsion – this while he claims to favor “humane” reform and to be advancing a safe way for “Dreamers” (“illegal” immigrants who came to the US as children) to avoid expulsion.[8]


The Empire’s New Clothes

In a similar vein, Obama has dramatically expanded the number of “sovereign” nations in which US Special Forces are deployed from 60, at the end of the Bush43 administration, to 134 today. According to the antiwar journalist Nick Turse, in a passage that deserves lengthy quotation:

“This 123 percent increase during the Obama years demonstrates how, in addition to conventional wars and a CIA drone campaign, public diplomacy and extensive electronic spying, the US has engaged in still another significant and growing form of overseas power projection. Conducted largely in the shadows by America’s most elite troops, the vast majority of these missions take place far from prying eyes, media scrutiny, or any type of outside oversight, increasing the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences….”

“Although elected in 2008 by many who saw him as an antiwar candidate, President Obama has proved to be a decidedly hawkish commander-in-chief whose policies have already produced notable instances of what in CIA trade-speak has long been called blowback…the president has presided over a ramping up of the US military presence in Africa, a reinvigoration of efforts in Latin America, and tough talk about a rebalancing or ‘pivot to Asia’….”

“The White House has also overseen an exponential expansion of America’s drone war. While President Bush launched fifty-one such strikes, President Obama has presided over 330, according to research by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism. Last year, alone, the US also engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan,  LibyaPakistanSomalia, and Yemen. Recent revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden have demonstrated the tremendous breadth and global reach of US electronic surveillance during the Obama years. And deep in the shadows, Special Operations forces are now annually deployed to more than double the number of nations as at the end of Bush’s tenure.”

“In recent years, however, the unintended consequences of US military operations have helped to sow outrage and discontent, setting whole regions aflame….A more recent US military intervention to aid the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi helped send neighboring Mali, a US-supported bulwark against regional terrorism, into a downward spiral, saw a coup there carried out by a US-trained officer, ultimately led to a bloody terror attack on an Algerian gas plant, and helped to unleash nothing short of a terror diaspora in the region….And today South Sudan—a nation the US shepherded into being, has supported economically and militarily (despite its reliance on child soldiers), and has used as a hush-hush base for Special Operations forces—is being torn apart by violence and sliding toward civil war.” (emphasis added) [9]


As the Obama White House and Pentagon surely know, Washington’s arch-criminal drone campaign – in which the US “peace” president acts as personal executioner (without trial) of officially designated enemies (serious controversy arises in the “homeland” only when those executed are US citizens) – kills a large number of innocent civilians (so-called “collateral damage,” more honestly described as “bug-splat” by military insiders) and breeds terrorists in tribal societies [10]. Top-down terror from the imperial core breeds “blowback” from and across the Muslim periphery, promising more lucrative cost-plus “defense” contracts for the president’s “friends atop Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon, etc. Another large Islamist attack on the imperial “homeland” (a revealing militarist phrase Obama44 has picked up from Bush43 and run with) waits in the wings.

A “return of great power conflict” has emerged in the interim, courtesy of “antiwar” Obama. US Special Forces and military hardware are now provocatively deployed in former Soviet republics on the western border of Russia, with whom the Obama administration has sparked a potentially disastrous conflict over strategically super-significant Ukraine [11], through which Western armies have repeatedly charged into Russia with catastrophic consequences over the last two centuries. Meanwhile, Obama is menacing China, whose “containment” is the essential goal behind his much-ballyhooed “pivot to Asia.” “By 2020,” John Pilger noted last April:

“almost two-thirds of all US naval forces in the world will be transferred to the Asia-Pacific area. This is the greatest military concentration in that vast region since the Second World War….In an arc extending from Australia to Japan, China will face US missiles and nuclear-armed bombers. A strategic naval base is being built on the Korean island of Jeju less than 400 miles from the Chinese metropolis of Shanghai and the industrial heartland of the only country whose economic power is likely to surpass that of the US.  Obama’s ‘pivot’ is designed to undermine China’s influence in its region. It is as if world war has begun by other means.” [12]

In a recent saber-rattling speech at West Point, Obama said the following: “Let me repeat a principle I put forward at the outset of my presidency: The United States will use military force, unilaterally if necessary, when our core interests demand it… International opinion matters, but America should never ask permission to protect our people, our homeland or our way of life.”The left analyst Mike Whitney offers a useful and accurate translation on Counterpunch:

“In other words, the United States will do whatever the hell it wants to and if you don’t like it: ‘Too bad.’ This is the Bush Doctrine verbatim. The West Point oration proves that the new administration has simply modified the Bush credo to suit Obama’s pretentious speaking style. Strip out the visionary formulations, the grandiose bloviating, and the sweeping hand gestures and the ideas are virtually identical; unilateralism, preemption, and exceptionalism, the toxic combo that has spurred 13 years of war, occupation, regime change, black sites, extra-judicial assassinations, drone attacks, and hyperbolic state terror most of which has been directed at civilian populations whose only fault is that they occupy regions where vast petroleum reserves have been discovered or which have some fleeting strategic importance to Washington’s war planners.” [13]

By “our core interests…our people, our homeland” and “our way of life,” Obama does not mean “we the [American working class majority of] people,” whose living standards continue to deteriorate in the current US New Gilded Age of savage inequality and abject plutocracy. He means the stupendous profits and right-figure salaries of the nation’s top investors and corporate managers, whose shameful shocking fortunes are rooted in the ruthless exploitation of working people and the natural environment at home and abroad.

US military contractors got another opportunity to lick their lips when Obama recently announced in Warsaw that he will ask Congress to spend $1 billion to expand the US military presence in Eastern Europe.The Guardian reports that Obama plans “to rotate more troops in and out of Poland, to strengthen air patrols over the Baltic, and to beef up naval operations in the Black Sea off the Russian and Ukrainian coasts” (emphasis added).[14] (Dominant US mass media had nothing to say about how that $1 billion might be better spent to help some among the more than 16 million US children who scandalously live beneath the nation’s notoriously inadequate poverty level [15] – this in a nation where six Wal-Mart heirs possess between them as much total wealth as the bottom 40 percent of the population.[15A])

Obama does and says all this and more (unburdened by translations in US “mainstream”[16] media) while claiming to honor “international accurate law” to and to guard against US global “overreach.” He saves his loftiest oratorical passions for standard presidential phrases about “exceptional” and glorious America’s grand and selfless commitment to defending peace, freedom, security and justice around the world. In France for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion last week, Obama made sure to remind his audience that “the United States of America is and will remain the greatest force for freedom the world has ever known” and asked God’s continued blessing for all the US and Western troops who sacrifice and “serve today for the peace and security of our world.” [16A]

The vast US military Empire (which continues to account for nearly half the world’s military spending) is not retreating from “overreach” under Obama. It is repositioning and expanding in a stealthier way than it did under the more club-footed Dubya and his neoconservative posse of mad-dog-killers (Cheney, Wolfowitz, Rumsfeld, and Libby et al.). The “peace and security of our world” is the last thing really on the mind of the Pentagon and White House’s imperial planners in the Obama era as during the Bush43 years.

The world is no longer fooled, if it ever was to any significant degree. According to a global survey of 66,000 people conducted across 68 countries by the Worldwide Independent Network of Market Research (WINMR) and Gallup International at the end of 2013, Earth’s people see the United States as the most significant threat to peace on the planet. The U.S. was voted top threat by a wide margin, receiving 24 percent of the vote. Pakistan was a distant second with 8 percent, followed by China (6 percent). Afghanistan, Iran, Israel, and North Korea tied for 4th place at 4 percent. Among U.S.-allied countries, Greece and Turkey (45 percent each), Pakistan (44 percent) and Mexico (about 37 percent) believed the U.S. is the greatest threat to peace [16B]

At home, in the U.S. “mainstream” media bubble, however, Obama has managed to appear peaceful and anti- or at least non-imperial to many in his bamboozled “liberal,” MSNBC-watching “base” by happening to oversee (as would have a President John McCain or a President Mitt Romney) the end of Bush43’s exhausted, post-9/11 land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (after a major Obama troop surge in the second illegally invaded country). It helps sell the frankly childish illusion of Obama as a “man of peace” that he has had to make some minor adjustments in the Pentagon budget and is repeatedly and preposterously attacked by the Republicans and right-wing media for being “reluctant” and “soft” when it comes to using military force abroad.


Green[house] Obama

Climate policy is another good example. By the estimation of leading US environmental activist Bill McKibben (depressingly deferential towards Obama over the years), Obama’s “biggest climate legacy is the US passing Russia and Saudi Arabia [before the end of his second term] in oil and gas production.” This great leap forward to so-called national energy independence has been achieved largely through the eco-exterminist practice of hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”), which pollutes and exhausts the nation’s endangered water supplies in order to extract vast quantities of carbon-rich methane gas for planet-baking sale and burning at home and abroad. Obama has celebrated the homeland’s “energy revolution,” boasting of America’s prodigious new fossil fuel production in glowing terms that Noam Chomsky has rightly described as an “eloquent death knell for the species.”[17]

I’m not sure I agree with McKibben: Obama’s top contribution to the Greenhouse-Gassing of Life on Earth may still be his almost single-handed undermining of binding global carbon-emission limits at the global climate summit in Copenhagen in December of 2009 [18]. But either way, Obama’s disastrous climate record is a far cry from his campaign promises to seriously tackle the looming specter of anthropogenic global warming (AGW). Unlike the crude, oil-soaked Texan who preceded him in the oval office, however, Obama44 accepts the consensus findings of Earth science on humanity’s responsibility for climate change. He has advanced some outwardly eco-friendly fuel efficiency standards, new limits on coal plant pollution, and alternative fuel developments as part of his disastrous “all-of-the above” energy policy. This difference of eco-cidal style have permitted him to pose as an environmentalist while the United States’ still leading historical contribution to has expanded AGW thanks in no small part to his serial dissembling. Again the Machiavellian deception is enhanced by the right, which likes to portray the president as a left-liberal “tree hugger” who privileges elite environmental concerns over jobs and growth.



Wall Street Obama

Obama44 has been no less solicitous of the nation’s “unelected dictatorship of money” [19] (the US corporate and financial ruling class) and has done little more for the nation’s working class majority than his more ham-fisted predecessor. Consistent with his early staffing of key White House economic posts by top neoliberal Wall Street insiders, he has made no serious effort to regulate or prosecute, much less nationalize the nation’s reigning arch-parasitic financial institutions, whose record of pushing the US and global economy into crisis in pursuit of the endless upward distribution of fortunes is surely far from over[20]. He worked assiduously to shield the financial chieftains from richly deserved populist anger[21]while he stealthily expanded the massive Wall Street bailouts initiated by his maladroit predecessor and launched a woefully inadequate stimulus bill heavily weighted towards tax cuts for the affluent. There were no comparable bailouts for the non-affluent majority, thrown into recession through no fault of their own, by the greedy excess of the Few. The venerable liberal-left commentator William Greider put it well in a March 2009 Washington Post column titled “Obama Told Us to Speak But is He Listening?”: “People everywhere learned a blunt lesson about power, who has it and who doesn’t. They have watched Washington run to rescue the very financial interests who caused the catastrophe. They learned that government has plenty of money to spend – when the right people want it” (emphasis added). And little to spend on the rest of us, the wrong people, soon to be known as “the 99%,” left to ask “where’s my bailout? [22]

Obama’s subsequent health insurance legislation– the absurdly titled “Affordable Care Act” – was designed by the Republican Heritage Foundation. It preserved the unchallenged profit-making and price- and rate-gouging power of the nation’s leading insurance and drug companies in cold defiance of public opinion. The single-payer model long favored by most Americans was banned from serious consideration in White House “reform” deliberations, consistent with then White House chief of staff Rahm Emmanuel’s advice to the president: “ignore the progressives” [23].

Obama has never lifted a finger for the Employee Free Choice Act, upon which he campaigned in 2007 and 2008. It would have substantively re-legalized union organizing in the US. Obama offered no public support for the historic pro-union public worker and citizen uprising against Wisconsin’s hard right Koch brother-backed Governor Scott Walker in February and March of 2011. The president managed a single mild Tweet for the Wisconsin Democrats’ campaign to recall Walker the following year. And when the remarkable Occupy rebellion against the nation’s gaping class disparities and the corporate and financial elite’s domination of US politics and policy spread across the nation in the fall and early winter of 2011, the Obama administration undertook a federal campaign of surveillance, infiltration, and repression that led to the coordinated police-state dismantlement of the neo-populist encampments before the end of the year.[24]


“A Touching Ruling Class Moment”

Last December, Obama advanced some revealing reflections before some friends atop the US capitalist class at an event called The Wall Street Journal CEO Council:

“When you go to other countries [Obama mused], the political divisions are so much more stark and wider. Here in America, the difference between Democrats and Republicans–we’re fighting inside the 40-yard lines…People call me a socialist sometimes. But no, you’ve got to meet real socialists. (Laughter.) You’ll have a sense of what a socialist is. (Laughter.) I’m talking about lowering the corporate tax rate. My health care reform is based on the private marketplace. The stock market is looking pretty good last time I checked.”

As the left, actually socialist writer Danny Klatch commented, “It was a touching ruling class moment. At a time of bitter partisan warfare in Congress and frequent mudslinging by business executives, a bunch of CEOs were able to sit down with their president and realize that they really aren’t so different after all. Together, they shared a good laugh at the idea held by many ordinary people in both parties – that Obama and Corporate America are somehow on different sides” (emphasis added) [25].


How Obama Got His Fake-Populist Groove Back

Thanks to all this and more (including consistent advance of the corporatist “free trade” agreements and doctrine favored by big capital), the rich and their corporations have made out like bandits across the low-wage, high unemployment Age of Obama. Yet through it all, Obama has somehow managed to serially summon seemingly sincere pseudo-eloquence on behalf of the suffering working and middle classes. He has claimed to see excessive economic inequality as “the defining issue of our time.” He has bemoaned how the rich have “rigged the rules of the game” to destroy the “American Dream’s” promise of upward mobility and security for all who engage in hard and honest work. Crushing Occupy with one hand while appropriating some of Occupy’s rhetoric for electoral deployment against Mitt “Mr. 1%” Romney (an almost perfect aristocratic foil from central casting for the Democrats’ fake-progressive purposes), Obama was a Machiavellian master on the 2012 campaign trail.[25A]

History will judge the extent of Obama’s success in carrying the Machiavellian ruling class ball of faux-democratic deception across his two terms in the White House. He fumbled the rock to some degree during the elite-manufactured debt-ceiling crisis of 2011, helping give rise to the extraordinary and significantly Left-led Occupy movement/moment, which briefly embodied some the wisdom of the late radical US historian Howard Zinn’s maxim that “[T]he really critical thing isn’t who is sitting in the White House, but who is sitting inin the streets, in the cafeterias, in the halls of government, in the factories.” [26]

Democrats are best exposed as the other major-party “wing…of the same bird of [corporate and imperial] prey” (Upton Sinclair, 1904[27]) when they hold the nominal ruling authority conferred by elected public office. The “blunt lesson about power” (Greider) under Obama was a tutorial for a significant number of younger US adults on the bipartisan nature on the nation’s unelected and interrelated dictatorships of money, empire, white supremacy, eco-cide, patriarchy, and police state power – and on the harsh reality that life still stinks under capital’s rule when Democrats hold top elected offices.

Still, Obama deserves credit from the US oligarchy for delaying (until the late summer and Fall of 2011) as well as crushing (in the Fall and early winter of the same year) populist rebellion against neoliberal austerity with his deceptive promises of “hope” and “change” (also the leading campaign keywords of the neoliberal corporate Democrat Bill Clinton’s successful 1992 presidential campaign). “Slick Willy” (Bill) Clinton had an easier time carrying the fake-populist ball for the rich and powerful during the 1990s thanks in no small part to the fact that he enjoyed a significantly booming capitalist economy in the wake of the Cold War’s end for must of his time in the White House Somewhat less adroit than Clinton41 (a true Machiavellian maestro), Obama44 has had to carry the ball across the first true crisis of capitalism in the neoliberal era.

With some help from the blundering, arch-plutocratic Romney campaign (whose gold-plated standard bearer got caught on tape telling fellow Robber Barons that “47 percent” of the US citizenry were lazy tax-dodging welfare-moochers), Obama got some of his pseudo-egalitarian Machiavellian mojo back in 2012. More recently, the US “mainstream” media’s Orwellian portrayal of the Ukraine crisis as a result of Russia’s imperialism (not Washington’s) has joined with Obama’s drawdown in Afghanistan, his Putin-forced stand-down from the bombing of Syria last Fall (quite frustrating for Obama), some minor tweaks to the Pentagon budget, and the standard GOP/FOX News complaints about a Democratic president’s “weakness abroad” to help Obama seem like a non- and even anti-imperial president to many at home.  The right-wing noise machine’s incessant neo-McCarthyite whining about Obama’s (mythical) left-liberal and even “socialist” sentiments continues to help the deeply conservative, corporatist and imperialist Obama appear to be something he very much is not – a progressive “man of the left.” Hillary Clinton can expect much the same cloaking assistance from the right if and when she becomes the first female US president in January of 2017.

The cold depravity of it all is enough to chill the most cynical of souls, perhaps even that of a Machiavelli. The clever Florentine political adviser certainly never hoped to enable the destruction of life on Earth for all his counsel on the necessity of “depart[ing] from the good” and “enter[ing] into evil.”

Paul Street’s next book They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy can be ordered at http://www.paradigmpublishers.com/books/BookDetail.aspx?productID=367810



1. Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005 [1532]), 60-62.

2. Larissa MacFarquhar, “The Conciliator: Where is Barack Obama Coming From?” The New Yorker (May 7, 2007), http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/05/07/070507fa_fact_macfarquhar

3. Ken Silverstein, “Barack Obama, Inc.,” Harpers (November 2006), http://harpers.org/archive/2006/11/barack-obama-inc/

4. Pam Martens, “Obama’s Money Cartel,” Counterpunch (May 5, 2008), http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/05/05/obama-s-money-cartel/; Pam Martens, “The Obama Bubble Agenda,” Counterpunch (May 6, 2008), http://www.counterpunch.org/2008/05/06/the-obama-bubble-agenda/.

5. Paul Street, Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2008), xxvi-xxviii, 175-176. On the false nature of candidate Obama’s “antiwar” branding, see Chapter 4, “How ‘Antiwar’? Obama, Iraq, and the Audacity of Empire.”

6. Adolph Reed, Jr., “The Curse of Community,” Village Voice (January 16, 1996), reprinted in Reed, Class Notes: Posing as Politics and Other Thoughts on the American Scene (New York: New Press, 2000).

7. Street, Barack Obama, 13-22, 59-72.

8. Public Broadcasting System, “Obama Administration Tops its own Deportation Record,” http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/obama-administration-tops-its-own-deportation-record/; Ginger Thompson and Sarah Cohen, “More Deportations Follow Minor Crimes, Records Show,” New York Times, April 6, 2014, http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/07/us/more-deportations-follow-minor-crimes-data-shows.html?_r=1

9. Nick Turse, “America’s Secret War in 134 Countries,” Huffington Post (January 16, 2014),


10. Noam Chomsky, “Rethinking US Foreign Policy,” Chatham House, London, http://www.chathamhouse.org/events/view/198465

11. “Ukraine Crisis: US Special Forces Head to Baltic Nations,” The Telegraph (UK), May 9, 2014, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/ukraine/10818425/Ukraine-crisis-US-special-forces-head-to-Baltic-nations-for-training-exercises.html; Mike Whitney, “Why is Putin in Washington’s Crosshairs?” Counterpunch (April 28, 2014), http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/28/why-is-putin-in-washingtons-crosshairs/

12. John Pilger, “The Strangelove Effect,” JohnPilger.com, April 18, 2014.

13. Washington Post, “Full Text of Obama’s Commencement Address at West Point,” http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/full-text-of-president-obamas-commencement-address-at-west-point/2014/05/28/cfbcdcaa-e670-11e3-afc6-a1dd9407abcf_story.html; Mike Whitney, “Saber-Rattling at West Point,” Counterpunch (June 4, 2014), http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/06/03/saber-rattling-at-west-point/

14. Ian Traynor, “Obama Pledges $1bn to Boost Military in Europe in Wake of Ukraine Crisis,” The Guardian (June 3, 2014), http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/03/obama-pledge-military-europe-ukraine-crisis

15. National Center or Child Poverty, “Child Poverty 2014,” http://www.nccp.org/topics/childpoverty.html

15A. Tampa Bay Times, “Bernie Sanders Says Walmart Heirs Own More Wealth Than Bottom 40 Percent of Americans,” PolitiFact.com,July 31, 2012, www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2012/jul/31/bernie-s/sanders-says-walmart-heirs-own-more-wealth-bottom-.

16. For why I place quote marks around “mainstream” when describing US corporate “mainstream media,” see Paul Street, “Those Who Put Out the People’s Eyes,” Z Magazine (June 2014), http://zcomm.org/zmagazine/those-who-have-put-out-the-peoples-eyes/

16A. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jun/06/barack-obama-d-day-speech-full-text

16B. Sarah Lazare, “Biggest Threat to World Peace: The United States,” Common Dreams, December 31, 2013, https://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/12/31-6

17. For McKibben’s comment, see http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/obama-unveils-major-climate-change-report. For Chomsky’s, Noam Chomsky, “Prospects for Survival,” ZNet (April 2, 2014), http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/the-prospects-for-survival/

18. For details and sources, Paul Street, The Empire’s New Clothes: Barack Obama in the Real World of Power (Boulder, CO: Paradigm Publishers, 2010), 26-28.

19. Edward S. Herman and David Peterson, “Riding the ‘Green Wave,’” Electric Politics, July 22, 2009, http://www.electricpolitics.com/2009/07/riding_the_green_wave_at_the_c.html

20. Pam Martens, “Have the Mega Banks Put the US on Course for Another Crash?” Wall Street On Parade, March 31, 2014, http://wallstreetonparade.com/2014/03/have-the-mega-banks-put-the-u-s-on-course-for-another-crash-the-answer-may-reside-in-nomi-prins%E2%80%99-new-book/

21. Ron Suskind, Confidence Men: Wall Street, Washington, and the Education of a President (New York: HarperCollins, 2011), 232-242.

22. William Greider, “Obama Asked Us to Speak But is He Listening?” Washington Post,, March 22, 2009, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/03/19/AR2009031902511.html

23. Kevin Young and Michael Schwartz, “Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: How Corporate Power Shaped the Affordable Health Care Act,” New Labor Forum (May 14, 2014), http://nlf.sagepub.com/content/early/2014/03/21/1095796014527828.full; Street, The Empire’s New Clothes, Chapter 3, titled “Corporate-Managed ‘Health Reform.’” “Ignore” would be an understatement considering the depth and degree of the Obama administrations’ loathing of seriously progressive policy advocates.

24. For details and sources, see Paul Street, They Rule: The 1% v. Democracy (Boulder, CO: Paradigm, 2014), 10-20.

25. Danny Katch, “You’ve Got to Meet the Real Socialists,” Socialist Worker (December 11, 2013), http://socialistworker.org/2013/12/11/meet-the-real-socialists

25A Some background: Barack Obama, “Remarks by the President on the Economy in Osawatomie, Kansas,” December 6, 2011,www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2011/12/06/remarks-president-economy-osawatomie-kansas; Jeff Mason, “Obama Hits Republicans, Wall Street, in Populist Speech,” Reuters, December 7, 2011,http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/12/07/us-usa-campaign-obama-idUSTRE7B527620111207; Paul Street, “The Plutocrats Keep Their Shirts,” Z Magazine (January 2013), http://www.paulstreet.org/?p=879

26. http://socialistworker.org/2012/10/19/the-lunch-counter-sit-ins

27. The Appeal to Reason, no. 459, September 17, 1904, 1, reproduced in Gene DeGruson, ed., The Lost First Edition of Sinclair’s “The Jungle” (Atlanta, GA: Peachtree Press, 1988), Illustration L.

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