Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

05.22 Robert Reich: Bernie Sanders could save higher education [2:55 video]

Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

05.24 Welcome to Baoding, China's most polluted city

05.24 Shell boss endorses warnings about fossil fuels and climate change [Related: Protests at Shell's annual meeting]

05.24 Cannes concludes with call-to-arms on climate change: ‘To not tackle the issue through film would be criminal’

05.24 Denton, Texas, banned fracking last year – then the frackers fought back [It's Texas, so...]

05.24 Can high-tech photosynthesis turn CO2 into fuel for your car?

05.24 California oil spill company under local, state and federal investigation [Non-public infrastructure is stupidly neglected, too]

05.24 Drought-stricken California loses 50m gallons of water as vandals target dam

05.24 Where the River Runs Dry

05.23 California accepts historic offer by farmers to cut water usage by 25%

05.23 Altering Course [long book review]

05.23 Organic farming 'benefits biodiversity' [The opposite of GMO focus on yield only]

05.23 Air Pollution Reduces Cognition, & Not Just Via The Lungs

05.23 Study Finds Possible Association Between Autism and Air Pollution

05.22 Exclusive: The CIA Is Shuttering a Secretive Climate Research Program

05.22 California’s getting desperate: Unprecedented water restrictions target previously immune farmers

05.21 California drought: What would Israel do?

05.21 'Air pollution causes 8m deaths/yr'

News Media

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

05.24 Multiple arrests in Cleveland after officer in case of 137 police shots is acquitted [Here we go again]

05.24 Elizabeth Warren is winning: How the progressive icon is remaking politics — without running for president

05.24 7 ways Bernie Sanders could transform America

05.23 'Prisonized' neighborhoods make ex-cons more likely to return to the slammer

05.23 Who held the first Memorial Day celebration?

05.23 Edward Snowden: NSA reform in the US is only the beginning [0:58 video: 'When you monitor everyone, you understand nothing']

05.22 Kansas keeps on bleeding: Sam Brownback’s tax-cut miracle still hasn’t arrived, and won’t any time soon

05.22 7 Things People Who Say They're 'Fiscally Conservative But Socially Liberal' Don't Understand

05.21 After the Waco Shootout, Texas Lawmakers Debate Gun Laws

05.21 1,000 weapons found in Waco restaurant – including one in a bag of tortilla chips

Justice Matters

05.23 Why We Let Prison Rape Go On

05.21 Columbia student protesting rape brings mattress to graduation

High Crimes?

05.23 Attacks on the last elephants and rhinos threaten entire ecosystems

05.22 Matt Taibbi: World’s Largest Banks Admit to Massive Global Financial Crimes, But Escape Jail (Again)

05.22 Gaza economy 'on verge of collapse', with world's highest unemployment

05.21 Elephant Watch

Economics, Crony Capitalism

05.23 EU dropped pesticide laws due to US pressure over TTIP, documents reveal

05.21 Seven Years Later, Wall Street Hasn't Learned Anything

05.21 Obama’s Trade War Against Warren Wounds His Party – and His Legacy

05.20 Derailing Amtrak: Tracking the Latest Disaster in the Infrastructure Crisis

International

05.24 Pentagon report predicted West’s support for Islamist rebels would create ISIS

05.23 France to force big supermarkets to give unsold food to charities

05.22 Israel should defy the world over West Bank, says new deputy foreign minister [0:30 video]

05.22 Rape is being used to terrorise the population, says DRC gynaecologist

05.22 Bin Laden documents reveal a paranoid family man fixated on the west

05.21 Jeb Bush Says His Brother Was Misled Into War by Faulty Intelligence. That's Not What Happened.

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
  Change We Can Believe In?
Newspaper logo

COMMENTARY:

Change We Can Believe In?

by Gary Olson
Originally published in This Can't Be Happening on 29 November 2009

Afghanistan, the “Graveyard of Empires,” is this administration’s most egregious failing and is now fated to define Obama’s legacy.

In the 2009 film "The Messenger," we follow two officers from the Casualty Notification Office from Fort Dix, New Jersey as they knock on doors to inform relatives of loved ones recently killed in action in Iraq. These scenes are almost unbearable to watch as we witness the reactions to this heartbreaking news. It struck me that these emotionally affecting scenes on screen are as as close as most of us get to the grim reality of war.

With Obama’s massive troop escalation (can the Nobel Peace Prize be rescinded?) he’s made Afghanistan his war, reminiscent of President Johnson’s Vietnam War escalation. At the current death rate of 500 soldiers per year, the events depicted in the film will soon become a shattering reality for many more Americans. And next year Obama will spend some $65 billion on Afghanistan, more than for the Iraq war.

Afghanistan, the “Graveyard of Empires,” is this administration’s most egregious failing and is now fated to define Obama’s legacy. Beyond Afghanistian, maintaining permanent military bases and large garrisons in Iraq, allowing Israel to evade a just two-state peace with the Palestinians, clandestine Blackwater (now Xe services) assassins roaming around Pakistan, the killing of hundreds of Pakistani civilians by CIA Predator drone attacks authorized by Obama early in his tenure, and a continuing U.S. military build-up in Colombia under the guise of a phony “war on drugs” are also on the list.

A one-year litany of domestic disappointments could be captured by a bumper sticker reading "the audacity of hopelessness." After handing over almost $3 trillion to bankers, we have a jobless "economic recovery," an official 10.2 percent unemployment rate which is actually 16.5 percent, the number of home foreclosures continues to rise and a country in which one in four children only manage to keep hunger pangs at bay because of food stamps and soup kitchens.

In the face of this situation, Obama’s first stimulus package was pitifully small, and while it did “save” some jobs it wasn’t nearly enough for serious job creation. Obama’s professed support for helping workers to unionize evaporated shortly after his inauguration. And under Obama’s watch, as noted by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, “Even as tens of millions of working Americans are struggling to hang onto their jobs and keep a roof over their families’ heads, the wise guys of Wall Street are licking their fat-cat chops over yet another round of obscene multibillion dollar bonuses—this time thanks to the bailout billions that were sent their way by Uncle Sam..." (10/20/09). The nine largest banks are distributing $32.6 billion in bonuses. But given the jobs crisis and depression-like situation confronting tens of millions of our fellow citizens, Obama found a record-breaking $664 billion for the Pentagon for fiscal 2010.

Finally, Obama and many Democrats quickly abandoned government single payer national health insurance—the only plausible solution to our healthcare crisis—caving to the predatory for-profit private health insurance lobbyists. (Note: These lobbyists gave $1.8 million to 18 key members of Congress).

For those who worked and voted for Obama, especially younger folks, all of this must be a bitter pill to swallow, a giant step backward toward disillusionment and cynicism. I prefer to interpret it as a necessary and valuable lesson in electoral illusions for those truly serious about making this a better country: Obama, a brilliant and charismatic politician, was always a conservative corporate Democrat, a self-described believer in “the free market,” and an enthusiastic accommodator to the rich and powerful. In the words of one pundit, Obama is Clinton without the sleaze.

Obama would never have been given a favorable vetting by the financial elites who chose our presidential candidates if he represented the slightest threat to their domestic interests and global empire.

He would never have been given a favorable vetting by the financial elites who chose our presidential candidates if he represented the slightest threat to their domestic interests and global empire. By the way, the latter includes 800 military bases in 130 countries.

According to historian and political analyst Paul Street, the Obama campaign set new corporate fundraising efforts, including nearly $1 million from Goldman Sachs. Street has been uncannily prescient about Obama from the start and I recommend his book, Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Paradigm, 2008). In short, aside from some crafty rhetoric, Obama was never a social justice populist, and viewing him that way always contained a massive dose of wishful thinking. In that narrow sense, Obama has been entirely consistent and didn’t really betray anyone.

More and more Americans are wise to the fact that because Democrats and Republicans are virtually indistinguishable on the issues that matter most, the “change we can believe in” will not be forthcoming from these two business parties.

More and more Americans are wise to the fact that because Democrats and Republicans are virtually indistinguishable on the issues that matter most, the “change we can believe in” will not be forthcoming from these two business parties. Short term, we need a mobilized and vocal movement from below that dramatically increases the political costs for those resisting needed reforms. Longer term, we need systemic change, change in the class structure of capitalism.

Until and unless workers who produce all the goods and services in our society participate in making the major economic policy decisions—to run the economy democratically—we will only be tinkering with a system that primarily serves those who own it. We need a new broad-based political party that actually responds to the genuine grievances and aspirations of ordinary working people and youth.


Gary Olson, Ph.D., is chair of the political science department at Moravian College in Bethlehem, PA. He's a frequent contributor to Znet and his pieces have appeared in The Baltimore Chronicle. Contact: olson@morvian.edu.



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 December 1, 2009.
 


Public Service Ads: