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Obama Scandals List at 200

I remarked recently that my Obama scandals list had evoked much less interest than my Bush scandals list. The motivation for the two is the same to help us remember in the face of so much to remember and so many attempts to distract us and cause us to forget. The audience for the Obama list is much smaller since so much of the left remains co-opted and/or in denial about Obama and the Democrats. As with my Bush scandals list, some argued that not all of them were scandals or pertained directly to Bush. My reply is that, for me, a scandal is meant to be a broad term that covers mistakes, stupidity, excesses, disasters, poor and bad choices, cynical ones, and criminality. In each and every case, there was some tie in with the President and party in power. The list is not exhaustive, and it does have some listings that I thought were important from the Obama campaign. There are a few scandals I never got around to writing up, like the attacks on ACORN and bills of attainder. Some are still in process, like the Bush tax cuts or suicides in the military. I wrote a long entry in my Bush scandals list on this but haven't gotten around to writing one for the Obama list. Items vary in quality. Some are a little disjointed as they get multiply updated.

What follows is the table of contents to the list. You can access it and the full list here. I would say enjoy but that doesn't seem appropriate given the context.

1. Reneged on pledge to filibuster FISA Amendments Act (July 2008)
2. Lobbied for $700 billion Paulson TARP bank bailout
3. Pushed for no sanctions against Lieberman despite his support for John McCain
4. Nominated healthcare company lobbyist Tom Daschle as Secretary of HHS
5. Had neoliberal Robert Rubin as his chief economics adviser
6. Then had the equally neoliberal Larry Summers assume this role
7. Chose the failing upwards Timothy Geithner to head Treasury
8. AIG bonuses and money to Goldman under Obama
9. Doubling down in Afghanistan
10. Delay and reduction of withdrawal from Iraq
11. Moving Guantanamo activities to Bagram
12. Military commissions for some detainees
13. Support for indefinite detention
14. Refusal to release torture photos under FOIA
15. Refusal to investigate and prosecute Bush era criminality
16. Geithner’s DOA economic rescue programs: the PPIP and TALF
17. Minimal help for homeowners and no cramdowns
18. Treatment of Chrysler and GM with bankrupcy compared to bank no fail “stress tests”
19. Kabuki of TARP repayment by banks while still dependent on government credit lines
20. Extra-Constitutional use of the Fed by the Executive for fiscal policy
21. Credit Card bill without usury caps and with 9 month delay for other reforms
22. Business friendly Mary Schapiro named to head SEC
23. Gary Gensler who helped deregulate derivatives named to head CFTC
24. $787 billion stimulus: too little, too late, poorly structured
25. Use of financial crisis to attack Social Security and Medicare
26. The great healthcare non-debate
27. Continued use of state secrets argument in ongoing Bush era cases
28. Use of signing statements, including one to punish whistleblowers
29. Vetting process problems, especially tax related ones
30. Leaving Dawn Johnsen's nomination to head OLC twisting in the wind
31. Eric Holder, failure to reform DOJ, not removing worst of Bush USAs
32. Failure to move against new oil bubble
33. Retention of Bush Defense team: Gates, Patraeus, and Odierno
34. Continued missile strikes inside Pakistan
35. Keeping Bush’s domestic spying programs and adding a new one, cybersecurity
36. Choice of Elena Kagan who favors expansive Presidential powers as Sollicitor General, her subsequent nomination to the Supreme Court
37. Leaving EFCA (to help counter anti-union companies) to wither in Congress
38. Welcoming Arlen Specter who brings nothing to the Democrats into the party
39. Weak ineffective proposals for financial reform
40. Obama wanted John Brennan at CIA but settled for making him his counter- terrorism adviser
41. Chas Freeman with broader Mideast perspective done in by AIPAC
42. Dennis Blair made DNI; failed to act to stop atrocities in East Timor
43. Choice of McChrystal involved in torture in Iraq to head Afghanistan command
44. Obama threat to suspend intelligence cooperation with UK over Binyam Mohamed case
45. Efforts to keep Bush and Obama White House logs secret
46. Playing games with “Don’t ask, don’t tell”
47. Filing a brief to overturn Jackson (access to lawyer) in the Montejo case
48. Not withdrawing Bush brief in Osborne DNA case
49. Egregious brief in challenge to Defense of Marriage Act
50. The Supplemental which made Iraq and Afghanistan Democratic wars
51. Choice of Rahm Emanuel as the President’s Chief of Staff
52. Choice of Dennis Ross as Iran envoy and then his move to the White House
53. Politically embarrassing processes to fill Obama and Clinton’s Senate seats
54. Choice of Bill Richardson, then Judd Gregg to head Commerce Department
55. Reneging on pledge to re-negotiate NAFTA
56. Obama's throwing his pastor Jeremiah Wright to the curb, then reaching out to religious conservative Rick Warren
57. Continued challenges to habeas corpus petitions over indefinite detention, the Janko case
58. The Obama White House website
59. Continuing an ineffective program that Iran can exploit politically
60. Going slow on climate change when there is no time to
61. Not withdrawing a Bush-era amicus brief in the Ricci v. DeStefano reverse discrimination case and supporting a rollback of Title VII
62. Appointment of a CIA General Counsel who doesn’t know if waterboarding is torture
63. Appointment of a DNI General Counsel who doesn’t know if waterboarding is torture
64. CIA delay in a FOIA request concerning torture
65. The influence of Goldman Sachs in the Obama Administration
66. Attempt to keep secret the Cheney interview on the Plame affair
67. Mountaintop removal under Obama
68. Attempt to restrict Congressional notification on intelligence matters
69. Opposition to a second stimulus
70. Another egregious attempt to fight a habeas corpus petition in the Jawad case
71. Continuing charter schools and standardized tests
72. Holder's decision to support a weak, narrow review of torture
73. Re-appointment of Ben Bernanke as Fed Chairman
74. Continuing renditions
75. Politically dubious company was used to vet reporters in Afghanistan
76. Judge vetoes a too weak SEC plea bargain with Bank of America
77. Justice’s argument for making Bagram a new Guantanamo, the al Maqaleh case
78. Defense to turn over databases to poorly controlled fusion centers
79. Obama changes but keeps Bush's Star Wars program
80. Failure to win an Israeli freeze on settlements
81. White House refuses to back its own staffer environmentalist Van Jones
82. Politicized US Attorney in the Siegelman case cleared by Office of Special Counsel
83. Criticism of Iranian nuclear program; support of Israeli nuclear weapons
84. Support for a weakened reporter's shield law
85. Use of the Zazi case to retain broad Patriot Act surveillance provisions
86. Wilner v. NSA, continuing the coverup of warrantless surveillance of communications between attorneys and detainees
87. Attempt to spike the Goldstone report on Israeli-Hamas war crimes in Gaza
88. Slowness in filling federal judgeships
89. Inadequate aid to overwhelmed state budgets
90. Attempting to dodge the Supreme Court deciding whether innocent Guantanamo detainees can be resettled in the US
91. Allowing drilling in the waters off the north coast of Alaska
92. Keeping detainee accounts of CIA torture secret
93. Current FBI manual allows for widespread domestic spying
94. Securitization invalidates most foreclosures
95. Geithner wanting unlimited powers to save large banks
96. Another state secrets defense to conceal domestic spying
97. Circuit Court dismissal of Maher Arar suit
98. Weakening Sarbanes-Oxley and calling it financial reform
99. Unemployment
100. Inspector General for Fannie and Freddie ousted for investigating fraud
101. Gaming courts to convict Guantanamo detainees
102. White House counsel removed for his principled stands on torture and Guantanamo
103. US seizes mosques claiming Iranian connection
104. Howard Dean removed as head of the DNC
105. Scientist with close ties to Monsanto put in charge of all governmental agricultural research
106. Pesticide lobbyist nominated as Chief Agricultural Negotiator for trade
107. Effort to let some government contractors avoid paying taxes
108. A bad US Attorney nomination for Northern Iowa
109. Hunger in America
110. The breast cancer recommendations fiasco
111. Ongoing confusion and disorganization in the military commissions process
112. Phillip Carter another official in closing Guantanamo resigns
113. Refusal to sign anti-land mine treaty
114. The Ghizzawi case and the legal limbo of "cleared for release"
115. Black prisons at Balad and Bagram
116. Delay in declassifying historic documents
117. Max Baucus' conflicts of interest in healthcare and with his girlfriend
118. Major security breach at a White House party and a ridiculous assertion of "executive privilege"
119. Dana "Pig Missile" Perino nominated to the Broadcasting Board of Governors
120. Cass Sunstein, an anti-regulator in a regulatory position
121. Warrantless for profit electronic surveillance by telecoms and search engines
122. The government sides with torture lawyer John Yoo and attacks Bevins actions again
123. The TSA publishes its security manual online
124. Toxic legal arguments in al Zahrani v. Rumsfeld, yet another Bevins action
125. The Nobel Peace Prize and a neocon acceptance speech
126. Blackwater's involvement in military and CIA assassination and drone programs
127. Congressional Research Service censorship in the firing of Morris Davis
128. AIG writes off $25 billion in debt and sticks taxpayers with the bill
129. The Administration plays hardball to kill an amendment that would lower drug costs
130. A poorly considered blank check to Fannie and Freddie
131. Continuing a Bush botch in the Nisoor Square massacre case
132. Jonathan Gruber, a major defender of Obamacare was also a paid consultant for it
133. A Geithner related cover up of the AIG at par payments on swaps
134. Adoption of stealth signing statements
135. al Bihani, more bad legal reasoning in another Guantanamo habeas case
136. Cutting Medicare and Social Security by deficit commission proposed
137. A 3 year non-freeze budget freeze proposed
138. NASA flights privatized
139. OPR report on Yoo and Bybee watered down and its relation to the Padilla case
140. Government targeting of US citizens for assassination
141. Abuse of informants by ICE agents
142. Obama leaves Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board empty
143. Obama backs firing of teachers in Rhode Island
144. Irish human rights advocate Edward Horgan has US visa pulled
145. Threatened veto of 2010 Intelligence Authorization Act over Congressional notifications
146. Obama Administration intimidation of whistleblowing site: wikileaks
147. Fish and Wildlife Service continues to ignore science on endangered species
148. Senate vacation more important than jobless benefits
149. Government seeks to compel turnover of emails without a warrant
150. Obama goes after an NSA whistleblower: the Thomas Drake case
151. Obama goes after a CIA whistleblower: the James Risen case
152. Weakening Miranda rights in national security cases
153. Advocating the privatizing of public housing
154. Another step in making Bagram the new Guantanamo, the al Maqaleh case, the appeals court edition
155. Massey mining disaster, 29 die because of corporate greed and poor regulation
156. Obama proposal for a line item veto
157. A military commander allowed to use military forces for intelligence operations without Presidential approval
158. Political pandering in sending 1200 National Guardsmen to the Southwest border
159. A sad record on resisting Guantanamo habeas petitions
160. Israel attacks an aid convoy for Gaza; Obama punts
161. A further erosion of Miranda: Berghius v. Thompkins
162. Naming James Clapper, a Bush appointee, to be the next DNI
163. DOJ seeks to protect Vatican in sex abuse scandal
164. Yahya Wehelie, an American exiled without charge
165. Failure to replace National Labor Relations Board members means hundreds of decisions must be reviewed
166. SCOTUS opts for overly broad definition of material support to terrorist groups
167. Speaker Pelosi backstabs Social Security
168. Complaints by government scientists of political interference at Bush era levels
169. Flip flop on free trade agreement with Colombia
170. SEC declares major victory but lets Goldman off easy
171. Private contracting of intelligence continues under Obama
172. Two Guantanamo prisoners to be deported back to Algeria against their will
173. The Shirley Sherrod affair: trumped up charges of racism and a bungled response
174. Whitewash report on Bush era US Attorney firings
175. Despite its record, Blackwater still gets big US government contracts
176. Wikileaks releases government files showing Pakistan involvement with Taliban and admission that things are going poorly in Afghanistan
177. Obama seeks to get access to everyone's web histories without a court order
178. Teacher funding sacrificed to keep Education Secretary Arne Duncan happy
179. State's top Iran hand resigns over Obama's Iran policy
180. Citizens United: validation of unlimited corporate political funding
181. Push to expand US arms sales around the world
182. Project Vigilant, Infragard and "volunteer" corporate spying for the government
183. Obama's approval hits Bush levels in Arab world
184. Effort to pre-empt state environmental lawsuits involving green house gases
185. Justice's Anti-trust division asleep at the wheel
186. Kagan's recusals render her even more ineffective on the Supreme Court
187. Poverty level highest since 1994
188. Courts run interference for corporate violators of international law
189. Warren named to set up but not to run Consumer Financial Protection Board
190. Chief economic adviser Larry Summers leaves; Obama looks for someone even more pro-business to replace him
191. DOJ IG report goes soft on Bush era surveillance against peace groups and other activists; meanwhile the Obama Administration conducts raids against similar groups
192. Move to put backdoors in the internet to facilitate spying and more requirements on banks on international money transfers of any size
193. HHS Secretary Sebelius delays for at least two years required insurance coverage for contraception
194. Americans on Medicaid increased to 48.5 million in 2009
195. Big home lenders suspend foreclosures as their documentation gets challenged in court
196. HR 3808, a bill passed by Congress, to facilitate the acceptance of false documentation by banks in foreclosure proceedings
197. ICE raids and deportations increase under Obama
198. Social Security COLA frozen for second straight year; no action taken
199. Waivers for military aid to countries with child soldiers
200. Big and deserved losses in the 2010 elections

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Submitted by libbyliberal on

by the time I got through the first hundred I was dizzy and a bit nauseous. It is a real assembly line of horrors. "Psychopathic corporate capture" of our government enabled by our President. It is chilling.

The power of media branding and bonding to fuel the apologists among us.

And his Republican opposition runs around "inventing" things about him to demonize him when they don't have to, here is the list with so many crimes against humanity, because they are lost to similar or the same "capture" enabling in their own cronied leaders.

Orwellian and surreal. I will print this out and use as a reminder. It is a good chronology of the fresh hells as they were occurring, too. Brought back painful memories and the evolving horror.

(ps. I have not been to the Obama website. Could you elaborate on that one being on your list?)

Submitted by Hugh on

Obama was hyped as this tech savvy guy. His White House site ( was similarly hyped. When I was writing my Bush scandals list or just writing on the Bush Presidency I would try to link as often as I could to the original documents, transcripts, etc. Now the Bush site wasn't great, but it did have a functional archive. If I had a reasonably good idea of where something was or what it was, I could generally find it. Not so with Obama site. It has more video but its archiving and search functions are terrible. It is really more an empty piece of glitz, a campaign ad. The White House site should be an informational tool for the public. A minimal archiving structure would have materials catalogued by month and year so that you could go in click on a month and get a listing of all of what you were looking for: press releases, conferences, speeches, or remarks, etc. for that month. It helps you zero in on what you are looking for. The Bush site had this. The Obama site doesn't. My memory is that the Bush site's search function while kind of lame was also better than the Obama one. Both could have used tags for better searching. Neither has this.

An annoying characteristic of the Obama site was that it would interrupt what you were doing to try to get you to sign up for their email. I don't know if it still does this or not, but when I first was using the site it was quite disruptive.

The main reason I linked to the White House site was that it was the source. Basic, researching 101 says cite the source if you can; the secondary stuff if you must. With this I had the expectation that while some links may come and some may go, the White House links should be there effectively forever. But at the Obama White House site, even this isn't true. I have found that some informational sheets simply disappear. The links stop functioning and even looking for them on site produces nothing. The only way I have found to resurrect them is via the WayBack Machine.

All Presidential websites present material in a way as favorable to the current occupant as possible. But they are not just vanity pages. They are also repositories of public material which should be reasonably available to the public. If I had to grade them, I would give the Bush site B-/C+ and the Obama site D-/F.

Submitted by lambert on

I turned it into a post. The disappearance of the historical record before our eyes is important...

Submitted by libbyliberal on

... devil or revelations of the devil live in the details ... and the website sounds like its own travesty and also an ongoing style not substance (and cover up) metaphor for the amoral dysfunctioning of this administration.

talesoftwokitties's picture
Submitted by talesoftwokitties on

Great list Hugh - I will bookmark it and have it handy for "friendly" discussions.

Your comments about the site kind of confuse me. I went to the "briefing room" tab and on the bottom right there are archives for each month of his presidency.

You can click on the monthly archives for:
Your Weekly Address
Speeches & Remarks
Press Briefings
Statements & Releases
White House Schedule
Presidential Actions
Executive Orders
Presidential Memoranda
Nominations & Appointments

It seems pretty organized to me. I'd give it a solid B.

Submitted by Hugh on

Thanks. I am not sure when the archive was added. It wasn't there when I wrote my scandals entry. Because it wasn't there before, I really wasn't looking for it when I revisited the site in response to libbyliberal's comment. Since I found the site so difficult to use and undependable I stopped using it for research purposes more than a year ago. But you are right there have been some changes. Even so, if you click on a month say for Speeches and Remarks, you will note that the events are not individually dated. The month I chose at random had 9 pages of entries, an improvement but still hard to use. In the post, lambert made on this I note in the comments other problems with the site.

A site like this needs to fulfill 3 basic functions. The data should be there. You should be able to find it. And you should be able to link to it with the expectation that the link will remain good.

The update to the archiving is a plus, but as to the first and third I know there are some things that should be there that aren't and I have had personal experience with links that cease to work.

SaveTomDrake's picture
Submitted by SaveTomDrake on

Thanks, Hugh, for adding NSA Whistleblower Thomas Drake to your scandals list. I couldn't agree more!

For more information about Tom's case, your invited to visit the Save Tom Drake facebook page:

You can follow @savetomdrake on twitter:

And if you agree with the Save Tom Drake cause, please sign the petition to stop the retaliatory prosecution of Thomas Drake.

Regards and again, thanks.

talesoftwokitties's picture
Submitted by talesoftwokitties on

"A site like this needs to fulfill 3 basic functions. The data should be there. You should be able to find it. And you should be able to link to it with the expectation that the link will remain good."

I'd still give it a solid B, but I understand what you are saying and I'm not doing in depth research like you are.

Thanks again for the dynamite list -

Submitted by Hugh on

Thanks again, TOTK, I will be attaching the following update to this item:

Update: As of November 2010, the site has archiving by month and year. Individual items are not always dated. The frontpage has a link to signed, pending, and vetoed legislation. Changes to pending legislation still do not appear to be updated in a timely fashion. As of this writing, it contains items whose status should have been changed two weeks to a month ago. The site has had some fact sheets, but the links to some of these disappear and remain accessible only via the WayBack Machine. Links at this site should be permanent for future reference. The site does not record all of Obama's public interactions, and it should. For instance, I could not find an October 27, 2010 meeting with bloggers although a transcript of the meeting appears on the web. The site boasts 800,000 records released of White House visitor logs. What it doesn't say is that officials with business at the White House are buried in a sea of tourists. This is hardly helpful. The site also lists 9 ethics waivers for White House personnel. The waivers are quite narrow. That only 9 White House staff have highly limited potential conflicts of interest is quite simply unbelievable.

I do this list on my own so I am always grateful for any information or corrections. Also thanks to SaveTomDrake and I wish you well in your efforts. It goes to show how upside down Obama is that he will protect torturers and prosecute whistleblowers. The Drake case is a really egregious example. It's item 150 of the list. He tried to call attention to an intelligence boondoggle and his reward is to be burned for it. It sends the message that anyone who exposes governmental wrongdoing is more likely to be punished than those engaged in the wrongdoing.