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Obama to bankers: “Just say thank you, please,”

Hosted in Houston, Texas, the recent gala featured over 1,000 guests of the Baker Institute’s 25th Anniversary Gala. The gala raised $5.4 million from a crowd of banking- and oil-industry-affiliates as well as former high-ranking government officials.

The gala was not particularly surprising except for a tidbit, or rather a few tidbits in which Obama seems to follow the trend of not pretending so much anymore whom he peddles to: “Sometimes you go to Wall Street, and folks will be grumbling about anti-business…” the former President said at the panel, “And I say, ‘Have you checked where your stocks were when I came in office, and where they are now?’ What are you talking, what are you complaining about?”

“Just say thank you, please. Because I want to raise your taxes a couple percent to make sure kids have a chance to go to school?” Obama told the bankers.

Barack Obama then turned his attention to his supposed doubters among the oil-magnates: “I know we’re in oil country, and we need American energy,” he said, “and by the way, American energy production — you wouldn’t always know it — but it went up every year I was president. And that whole, ‘Suddenly America is the biggest oil producer’ — that was me, people.”

The Baker Institute

The Baker Institute, named after James A. Baker, III, a former Secretary of State under George H. W. Bush’s presidency and former Treasury Secretary under Ronald Reagan. A glance at the institute’s publications and programmes reveals several common threads to US foreign policy: energy and the Middle East. Although, to be fair, public finance, health and biosciences, Mexico and space are also represented, though seemingly to a lesser degree.

When further looking at the Baker Institute’s board of advisors, though, oil, banking and construction are the most prolifically represented, for example: Clarence P. Cazalot Jr., former CEO, Marathon Oil Corporation; Stephen I. Chazen, Ph.D., former CEO, Occidental Petroleum Corporation; Charles W. Duncan Jr., former U.S. Secretary of Energy; Lynn Laverty Elsenhans, former CEO, Sunoco Inc.; Jeffery D. Hildebrand, executive Chairman and Founder, Hilcorp Energy Company; A.R. “Tony” Sanchez Jr., CEO, Sanchez Oil & Gas Corporation. Other members of the advisory board include Colin Powell, former chairmen of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase as well as a former US Ambassador to Syria and Israel, amongst others.

The Instute’s Center for Energy Studies, which fosters research and commingling of fellow plutocrats, boasts an energy forum advisory board filled to the brim with big oil: BP, Chevron, Exxon, Saudi Aramco, Marathon oil, Total, ConocoPhillips and Shell.

So when Obama said „Just say thank you, please,” he is speaking to a crowd he enriched directly.

Obama, as a Democratic President, has sought advice from Republican James Baker, III. There is no issue with opposing parties having issues they agree on. There is, however, a common thread of similar mindsets among the US leadership in the 1990s as in the 2000s. Afterall, as the New York Times has pointed out, prior to re-invading Iraq George W. Bush’s administration threatened Iraq in a way that “bears considerable resemblance to a private warning that Secretary of State James A. Baker III sent to Saddam Hussein.”

In 2006, James Baker and a former congressman from Indiana, Lee H. Hamilton formed the Baker-Hamilton Commission, later renamed The Iraq Study Group. The ISG’s mandate was to conduct a forward-looking, independent assessment of the current and prospective situation on the ground in Iraq, its impact on the surrounding region, and consequences for U.S. interests - in other words, how to wage war more effectively, as Ben Norton succinctly puts it.

Baker is also tightly linked to the Saudi ruling family. During his tenure in office, Baker collaborated closely with Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief who not so long ago pressed the „US to drop its objections to supplying anti-aircraft and anti-tank missiles to the JAI”.

JAI being the Jaysh al Islam, a terrorist faction, that is reported to have fired missiles on more than 10,000 civilians in Damascus, with deadly effect.

This Baker-Bandar tango is one that goes back a long way; these two power-brokers have been working on negotiations between Syria and Israel since the early 1990s: „Bandar spends much of his time as an informal member of Baker's circle of advisers on Middle East peace. One afternoon this January, while lunching in the greenhouse room of his residence perched above the Potomac River, he explained to Dennis B. Ross, a Baker aide, how hard Saudi Arabia was working to keep Syria at the negotiating table with Israel.”

We are getting into shaky territory here, but curiously enough on September 11, 2001 James Baker, III was an attendee of a conference at the New York Ritz Carlton with a member of the bin Laden family (which, admittedly is very large). In fact, as Naomi Klein points out, The New York Times determined that the potential conflicts of interest were so great that on December 12 it published an editorial calling on Baker to resign his posts at the Carlyle Group and Baker Botts (Baker’s law firm) to preserve the integrity of his envoy position.

Barack Obama and James Baker spoke for nearly an hour, and I cannot ascertain if these men are conscious of the weight of their actions. Obama talked about how in the past 60-70 years the US has done admittedly much to earn the criticisms of being "hypocritical" and "not practising what it preaches" by „supporting folks who are not Democrats” (it seems he meant democratic, as opposed to despots). However, he claims, that despite this hypocrisy, the world is better off: it is „wealthier, less violent, healthier, more tolerant, more democratic”, Obama’s words. Wouldn’t the people of Cambodia, Laos, the Congo, Somalia, Nicaragua, Honduras and any Middle Eastern nation beg to differ? It just seems to me that, at this point, Obama has as much of a problem with reality as Trump does. Although, he is more eloquent about it. 

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I take this title from the broadside of Jonathan Swift who proposed a solution to the overpopulation of the poor in Ireland to boil and roast these young children.

I say here that the Democratic Party’s platform and its positions are not only wrong but cannot be voted for. Let me take a look at the platform…

The Democratic Party proposes open borders and sanctuary cities. What this means is that illegal immigrants will be admitted en masse and not only admitted but actually protected from deportation. The Democratic Party envisions and wishes to build a system and society where lawlessness and legal anarchy govern whether the person here illegally not only gains easy entrance but takes jobs from the struggling black and Hispanic minorities which they so desperately need and may be forced into the army in their quest for employment and may be fated to die in the battlefields of Afghanistan.

Our illegal residents may and will be favored over those who have come here legally and play by the rules by reason of being paid low wages and no benefits. We live in a system of law, not legal anarchy and lawlessness. I note that recently an illegal immigrant who was deported six times has been charged with the murders of 3 homeless men This in fact if the Democratic Party is restored to office and is placed by vote in control of the Senate and House of Representatives is the system envisioned by the Democratic Party.

Just recently the governor of California allowed the issuance of licenses to illegal immigrants, an obvious attempt to permit persons illegally here to vote. Again, this is nothing more than endorsing and promoting illegality and law-breaking. I ask can we as citizens vote for a party that in some sense backs and promotes the violation of law and says it is good and charitable? More to the point, Governor Cuomo of the State of New York gave voting right to 24,000 felons on parole including murderers, rapists and pedophiles. Herman , a killer of 3 police officers in New York, was recently granted this right of reprieve, but four months later he murdered a San Francisco police officer. This was accomplished by executive order where the law was that this voting right could not be permitted until the completion of parole. The Governor bypassed the law in doing this. I would note that parole is a part of a criminal sentence and the felon is still a sentenced felon where he has obtained the right to vote.

The Democrats vehemently opposed the President's travel ban. I have no prejudice or anger of hostility to our Muslim brothers and sisters as a Christian since I know how the eternal God loves and values them. But the fact is that within certain Muslim-majority countries there is a minority that does do harm to others on an alleged religious and cultural basis. It is undeniable that for some time these attacks and murders have occurred in NY, Boston, California, Orlando, and in many European countries, including the UK, France, Germany and Belgium. The President's action in this ban was a pragmatic response to serious acts of criminality. The Democratic Party, if elected, might chose to end this ban and thereby permit these attacks and murders to continue.

I make a final note. The Democratic Party opposes the pro-life position. We Christians take this view not opposing or seeking to persecute women but because we set a value on human from inception to the grave. The value we set is the value that God places on all men and women eternal and undying. The Democratic Party may oppose pro-life yet this party of charity for the illegal well knows that the vast majority of abortions are performed on poor black and Latino children. If the Democratic Party is so concerned with separation of children at the border, where is their concern for these poor minority children whose disposable lives are tossed in a garbage can? I ask you my fellow citizens not to vote for the Democrat, whose policies I have just stated and defined have the potential to destroy the fabric of our society and bring about a system of anarchy, death, and abandon the rule of law.

If you wish to know more about me, please feel free to visit my website SchatkinShow.com, where you will see my books, blogs, and podcasts, and also feel free to join me in this movement to not merely restore our country but to prevent what could well happen to us all. My e mail address is a.schatkin48@gmail.com. I also welcome calls at (718) 229-2761.

At the present time we are barraged, if not bombarded, with what for want of a better word may be termed propaganda.

Most of what assaults us through and by the media is subtle, if not outright lies, and has no truth. Unfortunately, the danger exists of confusing truth with political sloganeering. For example (and I do not point to or seek an attack on any political party or leader), former President Bush said he wished to make citizens of illegal aliens, mostly Hispanic. This seems like an act of good will, and it is masked as love and charity; it also serves to undermine the American workers’ ability to earn a living and support his family at a sufficient wage. Thus the former President's apparent purpose is not to aid the many illegals in this country, who have no business here in the first place other than to provide cheap labor with no benefits, the purpose of which is to enrich corporate America's coffers.

The former Presidents, Bush and Reagan, both endorsed Supply-Side Economics. They posited that by not taxing the wealthiest sectors of society and the most profitable businesses, jobs will be created, and trickle down to the workers of America. Supply-Side Economics again, in my view, is nothing more than a political slogan and is really a lie, since its real purpose is to enrich the rich and make them richer.

Again, former President Bush offered faith-based charitable initiatives to displace government social programs by private charity. This might have been a good thing but the actual result might be to remove the government from medical care and social welfare and remove the social safety by transferring these programs to private charity, perhaps leaving the poor, aged, and disadvantaged without the basic social safety net they may desperately need. Again, I repeat the church and church-based charitable programs and initiatives could well be as or more helpful than the government bureaucracy. Again, some in both parties promote unbridled capitalism as the economic solution and talk of deregulation. Deregulation could bring greater prosperity, allowing business to function more effectively, but I do say that unbridled capitalism as an idea and philosophy is materialism which is nothing more than a system based on greed and selfishness, ruthless competition, survival of the fittest and self-aggrandizement.

In short, political propaganda and slogans have no truth in them.

Let me take a look at the policies and platform of the Democratic party. Until recently, the Democratic party claimed to be the party of the poor and the minorities. This party identified with the civil rights movement of black America. Yet well all know that America is a relatively rich industrialized country with some poor bur surely not poor in the sense that a person from South America, Asia, or Africa might be said to be. More recently, the Democratic party under the mask of charity and humanity told us that we should have open borders admitting large numbers of illegal aliens and have sanctuary cities to prevent them from deportation. In truth, this policy far from being humane and loving, serves to deprive the legal poor citizens and union members from the ability and chance to obtain positions that these unlawful and illegal individuals obtain. Illegal immigrants get lower wages and no benefit so they edge out the poor of all races and national origins from these jobs. The illegal aliens protected in the sanctuary cities touted by the Democrats get medical care, education, and even welfare that they are not legally entitled to and get them by outright manipulation.

Politics and political hype are not to be confused with truth. The truth is that as private citizens we should be charitable to our neighbors yet at the same time we all must recognize the need for the government safety net. It is also the truth that capitalism has its points in offering people incentives and opportunities but should and must be modified and controlled by social programs such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Minimum Wage and Unemployment Insurance.

The truth is that class distinctions which are the result of economic dominance and subjugation by some fortunate few are the product of human arrogance and selfishness and should be eliminated as much as possible to equalize our society. The truth is that cheap illegal labor attacks the American workers' ability to get jobs and hold them. The truth is enriching industry through deregulation is wrong, since future generations ability to enjoy our natural environment is severely compromised. It should be stressed that deregulated industry can and does provide jobs for workers. The truth is not homosexual marriage may not be such a good thing at least in the view of the church of Christ; but, on the other hand, homosexuals are citizens and are entitled to equal treatment under the law and most certainly should and cannot be discriminated against. The truth again is that Supply-Side economics may create jobs but under the guise of that terminology the wealthiest sectors pay no taxes and far from trickling down the rich hold and may hold all profits for themselves.

Keynesian economics say that government can rack unlimited deficits but all of us know in our hearts and mind that a government which is bankrupt and cannot pay its bills on current income or tax revenue and must continually borrow to continue functioning must fail and fall much as the private household or small business cannot function on that basis. The truth is that although we are told that selfishness, greed, and materialism are good things and we are told they will make us happy, we surely know that as human qualities and ideas they are not good and do not make people happy.

Where then can we find truth in a world where media is always lying? This is a hard question and the answer is equally-hard. The fact is that nothing can replace the Christian Worldview, the Bible, or the great idea in Western civilization. More important, nothing amidst this cacophony of untruths that are forced on us should compromise our ability to critically think and sort. It is only through our own reflection, in the course of our lives, along with our exposure to the great ideas of the past that we can understand our world and ourselves. We will never understand sadism, cruelty, egotism, and selfishness without understanding that men are on some level corrupt, and blackened in their souls.

We will never understand that materialism is not the answer until we recognize that men and women have a spiritual nature, that they will live beyond the grave, and that all our lives will come to an end, perhaps sooner than we think.

We will never understand the world or be surprised by it until we recognize that men have corrupted and debased a good thing.

Politics and political propaganda and sloganeering are nothing more than artful lies serving to deceive and obfuscate true-life principles that we all must find in the course of our lives and that we may be acute enough to see and grasp as they are presented to us and offered to us.

I would now like to discuss some examples from news articles about the confusion of politics and truth. In the Bayside Times, a local community newspaper in Bayside, Queens, NYC, dated October 26 to November 1, there is a front page story entitled “NE Queens residents rally in Bayside.” Speakers including Rep. Grace Meng and State Senate candidate John Liu. The article was concerned with the detention of some 13,000 Central American Children. The article ignores a number of possible facts. First, these children obviously cannot be held in adult facilities. The danger to them is obvious. Second, they may not be the actual children of the adults seeking entrance. Third, both adults and children have no legal right to enter this country. It is likely the children are being used by the adults to gain entrance. The same thing goes for the Dreamers. Their parents came to the country illegally and the children are here illegally and have been here on that basis for decades. The presence of both using our educational system, medical facilities, and gaining employment are acts of gross manipulation. They seek sympathy and compassion when both parents and children have used and abused our system when both had full opportunity to become legal citizens. Our system and its citizens can and should not be made a fool of.

There is another column in the newspaper in which the writer, Mr. Prashad, objected to the census question asking the person's legal status. If a person is illegally here, this question is extremely relevant. A person, in this case a person who is in violation of the laws of this country, has no reason to complain of this question when he has no right to be here in the first place. We live in a country based on the rule of law, which we all must obey. The writer also targets and complains of a law that a green card can be denied if the applicant is primarily dependent on public assistance. But should an illegal immigrant be permitted to obtain public assistance and then get a green card? Is that not rewarding a person for committing an illegal act?

Finally, I would like to reference an article by Jordan Duffner in the Fall 2018 issue of America, the Jesuit Review of Faith and Culture. The article is entitled “A Fair Picture of Muslim Belief.” Let me preface this critique with the statement that I have overwhelming respect for both the Roman Catholic church and the Jesuit Order, although I am a Lutheran. The Catholic Church and the Jesuits are at the forefront of the intersection of Christ and the world. Second, I have great love and respect for our Muslim brothers and sisters and certainly entertain no prejudice knowing the overwhelming number of Muslims are peaceful, honest, and hard- working. The author raises two points. First, he asks why the Muslim community does not condemn these attacks; and second, he urges that this violence is not the true Islamic faith. I have a point of disagreement. Islam grew by conquest, first of the Jewish and Christian communities in North Africa. The battle in France about 750AD; the Conquest of Spain,; the approach to Vienna about 1550; and finally the genocide of the Armenian Christian Community after the First World War in which two million Armenian Christians were killed and tortured. I present this information while knowing full-well that Christians have been responsible for abhorrent act, such as the Holocaust and the Inquisition. Human sin and wickedness have no racial or national or religious limits. Yet the number and continuing character of Jihadist attacks cannot be ignored. Attacks in Boston, NY, California, Orlando, Germany, Belgium, the UK, France, as well as the persecution of the Coptic church in Egypt, are serious modern crimes against humanity. Moreover, in some Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia, neither Church nor bibles are allowed. Islam there is enforced by religious police. It is quite clear that to some extent this is the religious/political system in some Muslim-majority societies. The oppression may not stem from religious belief but may be traced not only to religion but to culture and the political system in those countries. Therefore I cannot conclude with the author of this article that these acts of violence are not in some sense connected to the Muslim religious/political system. The Koran is in Arabic and most probably the vast majority of Muslims do or cannot read it. The fact is that there are a fair number of passages in the Koran directing the death of infidels or unbelievers; the execution of apostates; and sections suggesting the oppression of women. The following Koranic passages urge jihad to infidels: Koran 8:65;9:5; 47;4. These verses establish the death sentence for apostates: 2:217;9;73,74;88:21;5:54;9:66. The following verses are derogatory of women and their status: 24:31;4:24;33:50. I can only say to Mr. Duffner that the issues as he presents it that Jihadism is not the real Islam I think somewhat misses the mark. The truth is that terrorism is a part of Islam, however small, and not activated by the majority of Muslims; but the solution must be that the Muslim community must recognize that reform and modification is necessary if Islam is to survive in the modern world.

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