Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Gov’t Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Travel
Books, Films, Arts & Education

06.19 In Morocco’s Atlas mountains, Berber girls find the way out of rural poverty: an education

Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

06.24 UK's out vote is a 'red alert' for the environment

06.24 66 million dead trees in California could fuel 'catastrophic' wildfires, officials say

06.22 Republicans Offer a Plan to Replace Obamacare

06.22 Women Take Over the Family Farm

06.22 Our new alliance unites 600m city dwellers in fight against climate change

06.22 California's last nuclear plant to close amid longstanding earthquake concerns

06.20 Sewage effluent fights desertification in Egypt

06.20 Brexit: Cutting red tape, or weakening green laws?

06.19 How a mama bear saved a woman and her dog from the wolf stalking them

06.19 How a mama bear saved a woman and her dog from the wolf stalking them

06.19 Obama at Yosemite attacks 'lip service' to natural beauty amid climate inaction

News Media Matters

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

06.24 What It Will Take to Gain My Support in 2020

06.22 THE WOMAN CARD

06.22 How American Politics Went Insane

06.22 MAKING A KILLING

06.22 America's gun problem is so much bigger than mass shootings

06.22 Insult, provoke, repeat: how Donald Trump became America's Hugo Chávez

06.21 Con vs. Con

06.21 Clinton's Wall Street Donors Revolt After Warren Emerges as VP Contender

06.21 The Issues the Candidates Aren’t Talking About

06.20 People's Summit Offers Hope for a Movement Bigger Than Bernie

Justice Matters

06.24 Experts ask for new investigation into disappearance of 43 Mexican students

High Crimes?

06.21 THE SHADOW DOCTORS

Economics, Crony Capitalism

06.21 The Growing Case for Massive Taxes on the Rich

06.21 George Soros: EU exit risks 'black Friday'

International

06.24 More than 1,200 die of starvation and illness at Nigeria refugee camp

06.24 Beijing has fallen: China's capital sinking by 11cm a year, satellite study warns

06.24 Nicola Sturgeon prepares for second Scottish independence poll

06.24 European far right hails Britain's Brexit vote

06.24 European far right hails Britain's Brexit vote

06.24 David Cameron resigns after UK votes to leave European Union [videos]

06.22 The Netherlands' Upcoming Money-for-Nothing Experiment

06.22 Jean-Pierre Bemba sentenced to 18 years in prison by international criminal court

06.22 Israeli troops 'mistakenly' kill Palestinian teenager

06.21 Fur flies as #CatsAgainstBrexit stirs up EU debate

06.20 Anti-establishment candidates elected to lead Rome and Turin

06.20 The State Department’s Collective Madness

06.20 U.S. will seek billions more to support Afghan military efforts

06.20 A refugee in Edinburgh: 'My children don’t want to know they’re Syrian' [5:45 video]

06.20 Study: Large number of Turks in Germany put Islam above the law

06.20 Study: Large number of Turks in Germany put Islam above the law

06.20 Protesters across Germany rally against discrimination

06.20 Opinion: Out of sight, out of mind

06.20 Humanitarian crisis as tens of thousands flee Fallujah in Iraq

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: