Current history quiz for Obama voters


Answers (with links) are below.

What Is the NDAA and who signed it into law?

Each year Congress passes a National Defense Authorization Act, which determines the budget, priorities and policies of the U.S. Department of Defense.   The 2012 NDAA contained a provision authorizing the President to detain indefinitely any person who “substantially supported” the enemies of the United States or their “associated forces,” whether or not they were American citizens or on American soil, and whether or not they were actively fighting U.S. forces.   President Obama, in signing the bill, said he did not intend to detain American citizens, but the bill gives him—and all future Presidents—that authority.  The original draft of the 2013 NDAA contained a provision limiting the President’s indefinite detention powers, but that was stripped from the bill when it reached the Senate.

Why the NDAA Is Unconstitutional (Counterpunch).


Who is Bradley Manning?

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning

Bradley Manning was a 22-year-old Army private who was one of more than 1 million Americans with access to classified information.  He was in prison for nearly three years awaiting trial, nine months of them stripped naked in solitary confinement, on charges of leaking classified information to WikiLeaks, and is scheduled tot be tried by court-martial in a few months. including State Department e-mails, information about treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan and Iraq war logs, including footage showing the killing by an Apache helicopter gun crew of unarmed civilians in Baghdad, and their would-be rescuers.   When Barack Obama ran for President in 2008, he promised to protect whistle-blowers, but in office, he has been zealous in tracking them down and enforcing secrecy.

Bradley Manning: the face of heroism (Glenn Greenwald)

The Dangerous Logic of the Bradley Manning Case (New Republic)


What do Syria, Libya, Pakistan and Yemen all have in common?

None of these countries ever attacked or threatened to attack the United States, but President Obama has authorized acts of war against them—covert war against Syria, military intervention in Libya, drone attacks on killing zones in Pakistan and Yemen.

Not Even the White House Knows the Drone Body Count (Wired)

Obama Wades Deeper Into Syria’s Morass (Counterpunch)

How Obama Ignored Congress and Misled America on Libya Intervention (Conor Friedersdorf)

The Truth About Obama’s Drone Campaign: It’s About Attrition, Not Decapitation (Huffington Post) [Added 3/7/13]

Obama’s New Year’s Resolution: More Drone Strikes (Wired)


What was Operation Fast and Furious?

Brian A. Terry

Brian A. Terry

Operation Fast and Furious was a bungled sting operation by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive during the Obama administration.   The idea was to allow Mexican drug dealers to buy guns illegally through straw men, trace the guns to their source and arrest the drug dealers.  But the ATF agents lost track of the guns, and hundreds wound up in the hands of the Mexican drug cartel.  Two of the guns were found at the scene of a shootout in which ATF agent Brian A. Terry was killed.

ATF let hundreds of guns fall into the hands of Mexican drug runners (Center for Public Integrity)

Justice Department Accused of ‘Reckless Technique’ (New York Times)


Who is Michael R. Taylor and why is he Senior Adviser to the FDA Commissioner?

Michael R. Taylor

Michael R. Taylor

Michael R. Taylor was deputy commissioner of policy for the U.S. Food and Drug Adminstration in the 1990s, then was director of public policy for Monsanto Corp., and now is deputy commissioner at the FDA’s Office of Foods.  During his former service at the FDA, he was responsible for regulations that stated genetically-modified foods should not be labeled if they were substantially the same as non-modified foods.  He sought to prevent dairies from labeling their milk as free from bovine growth hormone (rBGH) unless they stated that there was no hazard in rBGH.  Monsanto, of course, is a leading producer of genetically-modified seed and of rGBH.   During his present stint at the FDA, he has promoted crackdowns on Amish farmers who sell unpasteurized milk.

The Revolving Door: FDA and the Monsanto Corp. (IVN News)

Former Monsanto VP now Obama’s Food Safety Czar (PrisonPlanet Forum)


Who is Hank Paulson?

Henry Paulson

Henry Paulson

Hank Paulson is a former CEO of Goldman Sachs who successfully argued for loosening of Securities and Exchange  regulations on bank “leverage”—making risky investments with borrowed money.  He was appointed Secretary of the Treasury in 2007 and engineered bailouts of Wall Street in the financial crash of 2008.  He allowed Lehman Brothers and Bear Stearns, two competitors of Goldman Sachs, to go under, but rescued the American International Group (AIG), an insurance company deeply in debt to Goldman Sachs.  He was the architect of the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) to rescue failing banks by buying out their failed investments.  While TARP was an initiative of the Bush administration, it had the support of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and Joe Biden, as well as John McCain and Sarah Palin.

Hank Paulson’s Crony Capitalism (Rolling Stone)

Inside Man (New Republic)

Hank Paulson and the Wall Street / Washington Axis of Power (Forbes)


Who was the first president to kill an American citizen (and his 16-year-old son) by drone?

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki

Abdulrahman al-Awlaki

President Obama ordered the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born radical Muslim cleric who advocated attacks on the United States and, in a separate attack, his 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki.  His administration has never given any reason for the latter.

The Lethal Presidency of Barack Obama (Esquire)

How Team Obama Justifies the Killing of a 16-year-old American (Conor Friedersdorf)


Who has had more medical marijuana dispensary raids than Bush did in his entire eight years?

Americans for Safe Access, an organization which advocates legal medical marijuana, estimated that the Bush administration carried on 200 medical marijuana raids in eight years, while the Obama administration had carried on at least 170 and as many as 200 by April of last year.

Obama’s War on Pot (Rolling Stone)

Obama Flip-Flop on Medical Marijuana (Chicago Tribune)


Who were Obama’s biggest financial contributors this election?

Jeffrey Katzenberg

Jeffrey Katzenberg

The top Obama fund-raisers were Jeffrey Katzenberg, Hollywood producer and chief executive of Dreamworks Animation ($2,566,000); Irwin Jacobs, founder and former chairman of Qualcomm ($2,122,000); Fred Eychaner, founder of Newsweb Corp., an alternative newspaper publisher ($2,066,000); Jon Stryker, a Michigan philanthropist and gay rights advocate ($2,066,000) and Steve Mostlyn, a Houston personal injury lawyer ($2,003,000).   These figures were compiled by the Associated Press in October, 2012.

The largest sources of Obama’s 2012 Presidential campaign contributions were individuals and PACs affiliated with Microsoft ($387,395), the University of California ($330,258), DLA Piper, a law firm ($306,727), Google ($271,000), Sidley Austin, a law firm ($257,296), Harvard University ($232,158), Comcast Corp. ($201,000), Stanford University $187,290), Time Warner ($178,164) and Skadden Arps, a law firm ($169,757).

Donors With Dollars: the Top Fundraisers for Barack Obama’s Re-election (Associated Press)

Obama Donors 2012: List of Top Barack Obama Campaign Contributors

Obama’s Flip-Flops on Money in Politics (Huffington Post)


Obama supporters would be able to point out correctly that none of the things on this list are unprecedented.

The George W. Bush administration claimed the right to imprison and torture people who had not been charged with any crime.  The first drone killings were ordered by Bush’s Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.   CIA assassinations go back to the Phoenix program under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations of systematically killing Vietnamese Communist leaders and to CIA involvement in the killing of Patrice Lumumba, the would-be prime minister of the Congo, in 1960.   The Nixon administration’s bombing of Cambodia was far bloodier and took more innocent lives than Obama’s drone attacks.  The war on drugs goes back to the Reagan and Nixon administrations.  The revolving door between big business and regulatory agencies goes back at least a century, and as is the dependence of political candidates on big business corporations.

But in earlier eras, liberals regarded such things as scandals.  What the Obama administration has done is to neutralize the liberals and persuade them to accept corruption and abuses of power as normal.

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One Response to “Current history quiz for Obama voters”

  1. Atticus Says:

    This is an incredible post, Phil. It’s kind of sad that people gloss over these details and mainstream media fails to give these things the spotlight they deserve. Instead we hear about which celebrities are winning awards or who’s breaking up with who.


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