Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education

01.21 The DeVos and the Defrauded [Corruption is now banal...]

01.20 A Swelling Tide of Major Teacher Strikes Is Shifting Our Politics Against the Charter Agenda

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

01.23 Pollutionwatch: transport's true cost to the environment [If it is killing us, stop doing it.]

01.22 How Orkney leads the way for sustainable energy

01.22 Greenland's ice melting faster than scientists previously thought – study

01.22 David Attenborough tells Davos: ‘The Garden of Eden is no more’ [2:21 video]

01.21 35,000 Hit Streets of Berlin to Demand Agricultural Revolution

01.20 Doctors are frightened by climate change. Their industry is a big part of the problem.

01.18 Learning From Cuba’s ‘Medicare for All’

01.17 As Planet Heats Further, Even Davos Elite Warns Humanity Is 'Sleepwalking Into Catastrophe' [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 Could a Green New Deal Save Civilization? [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.17 New plant-focused diet would ‘transform’ planet’s future, say scientists

01.17 Studies Show Ice Melting and Ocean Warming Both Happening Much Faster Than Previously Thought

01.16 Immediate fossil fuel phaseout could arrest climate change – study [Intelligent government is desperately needed]

01.16 Our oceans broke heat records in 2018 and the consequences are catastrophic [charts]

01.15 Solar Farms Shine a Ray of Hope on Bees and Butterflies [Wonderful!]

01.15 Australia could hit 100% renewables sooner than most people think

01.15 Ion age: why the future will be battery powered

01.15 Barclays on wrong side of history with climate policy, says Greenpeace

01.15 'One fish at a time': Indonesia lands remarkable victory

01.15 Insect collapse: ‘We are destroying our life support systems’

News Media Matters

01.19 How conservative media became a “safe space”

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

01.23 This Chart Shows the Coming Death of Small-Government Conservatism [The Young have a hairball problem and want to throw-up]

01.23 It’s Still Bernie

01.23 Progressives Warn Against Democrats Pushing 'Diluted' Half-Measures as Alternative to Medicare for All

01.22 'Medicare for All and Equal Rights Aren't Trends': Ocasio-Cortez Fires Back After Aaron Sorkin Lectures Young Progressives [Morality is not a trend, it is a state of being we should all aspire to]

01.22 'Literally What Jesus Told People to Do': In Arizona, Possible Prison Time for Leaving Food and Water for Migrants

01.22 White students in MAGA gear crashed the Indigenous Peoples March and harassed participants [3:44 video; we must stop growing/programming smirking sociopaths]

01.21 Trump’s One Legislative ‘Win’ Is Actually a Failure

01.21 TRUMP 'HAS ISOLATED AMERICA AND TAKEN US BACKWARDS,' FORMER SECRETARY OF STATE KERRY SAYS

01.21 The 'exhausting' work of factcheckers who track Trump's barrage of lies

01.20 REPUBLICAN SAYS TRUMP IS 'INCAPABLE' OF ARTICULATING A PLAN TO END GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

01.20 Institute Index: The Racial Injustice of the Government Shutdown

Justice Matters

01.19 Merkley Calls for FBI Perjury Probe into Homeland Secretary Nielsen After Child Detention Memo Leaked

High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

01.23 Why Aren’t Hedge Funds Required to Fight Money Laundering?

01.23 UK has biggest fossil fuel subsidies in the EU, finds commission [Governments stupidly investing the public's money will more quickly end life on earth]

01.22 The System’s Falling Apart: Were the Dogmatic Marxists Right After All?

01.22 The shutdown has exposed the disaster that is Trumponomics

01.21 World's 26 richest people own as much as poorest 50%, says Oxfam

01.17 Trump's economy is great for billionaires, not for working people [chock-full of pesky facts that government and media ignore and distort]

International & Futurism

01.23 'Strategic Threat' To Israel - Progressives Lose Fear Of Speaking Out On Palestine

01.23 Putting Tax Rates and Billionaire 'Excess' in Moral Terms, Ocasio-Cortez Asks 'What Kind of Society Do We Want to Live In?' [4:38 video]

01.22 Labor promises to 'supercharge' hydrogen industry as green groups say 'no role for coal'

01.22 Who is more dangerous: El Chapo or Carlos Slim? [Like Drug Gangs, Mafias harm and kill the public too—but slowly and quietly like leeches]

01.22 Martin Luther King was no prophet of unity. He was a radical [He was—and We must be—passionate and pro-active for improving moral conduct in society!]

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Obama's Narrowing Window of Opportunity
Newspaper logo

OPINION:

Obama's Narrowing Window of Opportunity

by Dave Lindorff
Originally published in This Can't Be Happening earlier today, 31 August 2009

The way I see it, President Obama has a couple of months to turn his failing administration around.

The war in Afghanistan is going south, and within a couple of weeks, his General William Westmoreland, Gen. Stanley McCrystal, will be coming to him asking for more troops. Things are getting hairier in Iraq too.

His signature health care initiative is foundering, with Republicans working in lockstep to see to it that it fails.

Pressure is mounting for an honest probe into the criminality of the prior administration in its authorization and promotion of torture against captives--most of them innocent--in the Bush/Cheney "war" on terror.

The stock market, which by climbing back 50% from its collapse and the bottom it hit on March 9, gave the president a breather, is showing signs of exhaustion, and is likely to start sinking again, as investors realize that there is no end in sight for the recession in the real economy.

If all this continues into December, which is after all only a couple of months away, Congress will go into recess, and when it returns, it will be an election year, with all House seats up for grabs, and a third of the Senate also facing re-election. Republicans will be in an all-out campaign to reduce the Democratic majorities in both houses, with history on their side (in almost every off-year election, the party of new presidents lose support both houses of Congress).

So, what's the president got to do?

First, he needs to announce a bold peace initiative in Afghanistan. He should reject the call for more troops, and instead call for a regional peace conference--one that would include all the neighborhing countries around Afghanistan, and most significantly, the Taliban. At such a conference, he should arrange for a new government of national unity that includes the Taliban, and then get the hell out of the country. Obama can declare victory if he wants, but the main thing is to get out. Ditto for Iraq, where the US is still viewed as an occupier and is going to be forced out eventually. There is no reason to stay another day.

Second, he should declare the disfunctional and industry-polluted health reform plans in Congress dead and simply announce that by executive order, he is lowering the age for Medicare to 55, and is switching all Medicaid patients in the country over to Medicare (with the intention of lowering that age by five years ever year until all are covered), and shutting down the Medicaid program. He should then submit a bill to Congress establishing a government-owned insurance company, open to all, with no restrictions on its ability to set pricing and reimbursement rates or to negotiate discounts from hospitals, doctors and pharmacy companies. Or alternatively, the bill could enable anyone to simply buy into Medicare. He should tell Democrats and Republicans alike that any member of Congress who votes against that bill will not see any bill with her or his name on it get his signature in his remaining years in office. The government company would be phased out once Medicare covered everyone.

Finally, the president needs to announce that he is sickened by the information he has received about the prior administration's torture program, and that he is encouraging his attorney general to fully investigate it, and to prosecute to the full extent of the law anyone, no matter how high up in the military or in government, who authorized torture or who covered it up.

Congress could be expected to howl at the use of an executive order to expand Medicare, but the president could declare a national health emergency as justification, saying the recession had thrown too many people off of health insurance, and that as well, states were in dire fiscal shape and laying off workers because of the increased Medicaid burden.

Removing older workers from employers' health insurance plans would be a huge shot in the arm for struggling companies, as they are the biggest users of health care. Lifting the $400 billion cost of Medicare from state governments would free up money to prevent the layoff of state and local employees, which is threatening to stifle economic recovery.

Republicans can be expected to denounce the president for going after the Bush/Cheney administration on torture, but most Americans at this point are becoming aware of the damage that the policy has caused to the country's international reputation, and to the soldiers in the field.

Many people would also howl about bringing the troops home from Afghanistan, and Iraq, but the truth is that the vast majority of Americans are sick of both wars and would welcome an end to them.

The key to all these moves, however, is that Obama needs to explain them not in terms of saving money, but as being the right thing to do. Health care reform has to be presented as a moral imperative, not as a money saver (even though covering everyone with Medicare would be a huge net savings for everyone in the country). Ending America's foreign wars would be a huge savings, but the real reason to do it is that the US has no business being a global cop and imperialist occupier. And prosecuting torture is essential if the US is to be a nation of laws. You wouldn't know it to listen to the jaded pundits in the corporate media, but in my experience, most Americans are basically decent people, and would like to be citizens of a country that did decent things, not just things that could be justified as making "economic sense."

I'm not expecting any of this to happen, of course. This president has shown repeatedly and convincingly that he is a creature of the Establishment, not given to any bold initiatives or to challenges to the status quo. I'm just saying that these are steps that could salvage his presidency--a presidency that is seeming increasingly doomed. The corollary is that if he doesn't do these things, he will find himself with a diminished majority in November, 2010, a reinvigorated Republican opposition, a tanked economy, an angry electorate (including a lot of pissed off former supporters), and, basically, nothing to show for his whole presidency come 2012.

And to top it off, for failing to prosecute Bush/Cheney torture, he could well find himself subject to arrest abroad should he decide to travel a bit once he is ousted from office in January 2013.


Dave Lindorff in Washington

About the author: Philadelphia journalist Dave Lindorff is a 34-year veteran, an award-winning journalist, a former New York Times contributor, a graduate of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, a two-time Journalism Fulbright Scholar, and the co-author, with Barbara Olshansky, of a well-regarded book on impeachment, The Case for Impeachment. His work is available at www.thiscantbehappening.net.



Copyright © 2009 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on August 31, 2009.
 

Public Service Ads: