Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local News & Opinion

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters
Open Letters:

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

07.04 Sunny weather sees Britain break solar power record, estimate says

07.04 People power has shut the doors on fracking in the UK

07.04 New coal plants 'most urgent' threat to the planet, warns OECD head

07.04 Solar Impulse lands in Hawaii after longest non-stop solo flight in history [1:53 video]

07.03 George Lakoff: Why Pope Francis Killed It on Addressing Climate Change

07.03 This dome in the Pacific houses tons of radioactive waste – and it's leaking

07.03 Jairam Ramesh: India can't remain on the path of further destruction

07.03 Greenpeace and utilities launch suit against Hinkley nuclear plant

07.03 New study warns of dangerous climate change risks to the Earth’s oceans [ginormous graphic]

07.03 BP set to pay largest environmental fine in US history for Gulf oil spill

07.02 Australia must cut carbon emissions by 30% by 2025, says Climate Change Authority

07.02 Germany to mothball largest coal power plants to meet climate targets

07.02 Supreme Court Decision Unlikely to Stall the Shift Away from Coal Plants

07.02 Hope for Alzheimer's treatment as researchers find licensed drugs halt brain degeneration

07.02 The Death Treatment

News Media

07.02 This despicable “O’Reilly Factor” segment exposes the fundamental ugliness of the right-wing worldview [5:24 video]

Daily FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

07.04 Major Gaps Between the Public, Scientists on Key Issues [interactive graph, click triangles...]

07.03 Elizabeth Warren Reams Private Accreditor Who Certified Corinthian College Up to Its End [6:17 video]

07.03 Economic exodus means two-thirds of Puerto Ricans may soon live in US

07.02 America’s worst governors want to be president: Jindal, Walker, Christie — can Sam Brownback be far behind

07.02 Bernie Sanders draws crowd of 10,000 at Wisconsin rally[2:59 video]

07.01 How Chris Christie trapped himself in a political quandary [A paper-of-record spreads an old Social Security lie]

07.01 KKK plans South Carolina rally as Confederate flag debate continues

07.01 How Seattle Is Reclaiming Its Waterfront From an Elevated Urban Highway

07.01 Affordable Housing Crisis Grows Across the Country as Apartment Rents Skyrocket

Justice Matters
High Crimes?
Economics, Crony Capitalism

07.04 A Revolutionary Pope Calls for Rethinking the Outdated Criteria That Rule the World

07.04 Murder, drug cartels and misery counter Argentina's claims of falling poverty [what crushing debt servitude does...]

07.03 Europe’s Many Economic Disasters

07.01 How the euro became a weapon of mass destruction

06.30 Robert Reich: America is facing an economic apartheid

06.30 Europe’s Attack on Greek Democracy

International

07.04 Why Greece and Germany just don’t get along, in 15 charts

07.04 This euro is destroying the European dream [Ref. Paul Krugman's OpEd]

07.04 What is TTIP? The controversial trade deal proposal explained

07.04 Iranian foreign minister raises prospect of joint action against Islamic State

07.04 Migrants try to storm Channel tunnel at Calais, sparking further delays

07.04 Sorry, London: you’re too uncool. And way behind New York

07.03 Boko Haram attack on Nigerian village leaves nearly 100 people dead

07.02 Nicholas Winton, Rescuer of 669 Children From Holocaust, Dies at 106

07.02 Weak Power Grids in Africa Stunt Economies and Fire Up Tempers

07.02 Greece's economic crisis: 100 Greeks give their view

07.02 Hillary Clinton emails reveal powerful families' intricate relationships

07.02 Attacks on Egyptian checkpoints signal escalation in Isis capabilities

07.02 Islamic State threatens to topple Hamas in Gaza Strip in video statement

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: