Monday, January 30, 2012
How I woke up to the untruths of Barack Obama
The President's State of the Union address was as weaselly as any politician's could be.
President Obama delivers his State of the Union address Photo: AP
By Christopher Booker7:00PM GMT 28 Jan 2012265 Comments
When I happened to wake up in the middle of the night last Wednesday and caught the BBC World Service’s live relay of President Obama’s State of the Union address to Congress, two passages had me rubbing my eyes in disbelief.
The first came when, to applause, the President spoke about the banking crash which coincided with his barnstorming 2008 election campaign. “The house of cards collapsed,” he recalled. “We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn’t afford or understand them.” He excoriated the banks which had “made huge bets and bonuses with other people’s money”, while “regulators looked the other way and didn’t have the authority to stop the bad behaviour”. This, said Obama, “was wrong. It was irresponsible. And it plunged our economy into a crisis that put millions out of work.”
I recalled a piece I wrote in this column on January 29, 2009, just after Obama took office. It was headlined: “This is the sub-prime house that Barack Obama built”. As a rising young Chicago politician in 1995, no one campaigned more actively than Mr Obama for an amendment to the US Community Reinvestment Act, legally requiring banks to lend huge sums to millions of poor, mainly black Americans, guaranteed by the two giant mortgage associations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
It was this Act, above all, which let the US housing bubble blow up, far beyond the point where it was obvious that hundreds of thousands of homeowners would be likely to default. Yet, in 2005, no one more actively opposed moves to halt these reckless guarantees than Senator Obama, who received more donations from Fannie Mae than any other US politician (although Senator Hillary Clinton ran him close).
A later passage in Obama’s speech, when he hailed the way his country’s energy future has been transformed by the miracle of shale gas, met with a storm of applause. Not only would this give the US energy security for decades, creating 600,000 jobs, but it could now go all out to exploit its gas and oil reserves (more applause). Yet this was the man who in 2008 couldn’t stop talking about the threat of global warming, and was elected on a pledge to make the US only the second country in the world, after Britain, to commit to cutting its CO2 emissions from fossil fuels by 80 per cent within 40 years.
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Even more telling than his audience’s response to this, however, was what happened when Obama referred briefly to the need to develop “clean energy on enough public land to power three million homes”. But no mention now of vast numbers of wind turbines – those props beside which he constantly chose to be filmed back in 2008. No harking back to his boast that “renewable energy” would create “four million jobs”. And even to this sole fleeting reminder of what, four years ago, was his flagship policy the response of Congress was a deafening silence.
A few months after Obama entered the White House, I suggested here that the slogan on which he was elected – “Yes we can” – seemed to have changed to “No we can’t”. It was already obvious that, having won election as an ideal Hollywood version of what “the first black President” should look and sound like, he was in reality no more than a vacuum. His speech last week was as weaselly as any politician’s performance could be, not least in its references to the sub-prime scandal.
But on no issue has this been more obvious than political America’s wholesale retreat from the great fantasy of global warming – which leaves Britain as the only country committed to the insanity of cutting “carbon emissions” by four-fifths in less than four decades. President Obama and the rest of the world have moved on.
UN envoy consigns Iranian exiles to 'prison’ in a shameful deal with Tehran
The week before Christmas, I reported on what appeared to be a fast-looming tragedy. In Iraq, 3,300 unarmed Iranian exiles, who had lived since the 1980s at Camp Ashraf, a neat town they built in the desert near the Iranian border, were being threatened with massacre on December 31.
The threat was issued by Iraq’s prime minister Nouri al-Maliki, acting in conjunction with Iran’s murderous Revolutionary Guards, who regard the People’s Mujahideen of Iran (the PMOI), part of the National Council for Resistance in Iran, as their most hated enemies. As the deadline neared, following intense diplomatic activity, not least by the US government (which gave a written guarantee of protection to each of the Ashraf residents in 2003, in return for the surrender of their arms), the UN signed an agreement with the Iraqi government, brokered by the UN’s special representative in Iraq, Martin Kolber, a former German diplomat.
The Ashraf residents would be transferred to Camp Liberty, a former US base covering 25 square miles near Baghdad, from where the UN would arrange their transfer to third countries. On Christmas Day, this was welcomed by the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
It then emerged, however, that the 3,300 exiles would only be permitted to occupy a tiny corner of Camp Liberty, barely quarter of a mile square, which had been completely looted, was without running water and around which the Iraqis were erecting a 15ft concrete wall. They would not be allowed to bring vehicles or personal belongings, or leave the camp. Far from being offered a safe haven, it seemed, they were to await their fate crammed into what the European Council last week denounced as “a prison”, watched inside and out by armed Iraqi and Iranian guards.
As scandalous as anything in the past month has been the part played by the UN’s Mr Kolber who, far from protesting at this betrayal, met in Baghdad with the Iranian ambassador, himself a senior Revolutionary Guards commander. After the meeting he announced first that 750, then 1,250, of the exiles were willing to return to Iran. There is nothing they could dread more, since they know that they would either be imprisoned or killed. But Kobler’s claim has been trumpeted by Tehran as a victory, and the deadly impasse remains.
General David Phillips, the former head of the US Military Police, who gave the Ashraf residents those personal guarantees of their safety, has expressed his anguish at these developments. He has now been joined in protesting at the betrayal by an array of distinguished international figures, including Rudy Giuliani, the former mayor of New York.
But on what authority could a UN official become party to this inhuman deal? And why does our Government appear to condone what is going on? The Foreign Office recently confirmed to me that they still regard the PMOI as terrorists, despite being told in 2008 that they must remove it from their list of proscribed terrorist organisations, when Lord Chief Justice Philips ruled that they had been unable to produce a shred of evidence to justify this. What dark game are they all playing – in our name?