Tuesday, April 07, 2009

The cardboard president

After suffering through the eight years of Feckless Leader's administration, eight years that took the incipient neo-liberal, neo-con path set out by Reagan and Clinton, pumped it full of crooks and fanatics, and let them freely lie, plunder and destroy until the nation and the world were buffeted by the financial disaster that rang his reign out, we might have hoped that the new administration would set a course that rejected those past eight years, and set out to recover the recoverable, and to create new structures when necessary.

Let us run through, quickly, some of the damaged and destroyed areas of American politics and policy:
  1. Economy and finance - the housing bubble, coupled to the 'wealth creation' magic of the derivatives market has made most of the large US banks and financial organizations insolvent. They were propped up to the end of Bush's administration with trillions from the Fed and the Treasury. The real world economy finds itself without credit, the markets have lost about 50% from their peak.
  2. Foreign policy - the dream of Cheney, control of the energy rich areas in the Middle East and Central Asia, together with the encirclement of Russia and China was clearly dead by Bush's second term. Four more years of the war run as a holding action has only weakened the US position further, especially in the AfPak region. Iraq, what's left of it at least, is mostly controlled by Iranian allies.
  3. Military - spending more than the rest of the world combined, the US military has proved unequal to the task of subduing Iraq and Afghanistan. They have obviously been misused, but the phony adulation that's been built up makes them even hungrier for more resources, now under the heading of COIN, or more colonial wars.
  4. Constitution and civil liberties - the coronation of the executive branch as supreme and lawless provider of 'security' was argued successfully in Congress, where most Democratic lawmakers joined the Republicans in abandoning their Constitutional duties and prerogatives. Bush defied Congressional subpoenas and Congresscritters sat on their hands.
  5. Health care - US health care costs more than the rest of the developed world, and the results are far worse. The costs make US industry uncompetitive, drive the ill into penury, and enrich a parasitic industry that employs 2 to 3 million people pushing paper and money around.
  6. Justice and law enforcement - 2.3 million imprisoned in a truly bi-partisan effort to destroy minority communities and keep whites working as prison guards. Since US manufacturing has been heading overseas, this, along with the military provide welfare services, such as they are, to much of the country.
Now we have a new president, Barack Obama, who has, somewhat vaguely, promised change. Let's run through the list again, and try to see where this change might be manifesting itself.
  1. No change at all, here. The Bernanke, Geithner, Summers team, apart from some cosmetic fiddling, has continued the Paulson strategy of propping up insolvent banks with government funds, with no effort to provide accountability or to give a coherent explanation of where the money goes.
  2. The holding pattern of Bush's second term has been confirmed as the new policy. The Afghanistan front is deteriorating, so more troops are necessary, but at best the situation will be stabilized. At worst, Pakistan will continue to dissolve into anarchy.
  3. A 4% increase in the proposed defense budget, before Congress gets their hot little hands on it. Methinks the increase will go up. Gates's changes, cutting off some of the more fanciful programs, while getting ready for more colonial wars is not meaningful change.
  4. Here Obama seems to be trying to outdo even Feckless Leader. Claims of 'state secret' to block trials, intimidation of allies who are questioning their part in torture, and now the new 'sovereign immunity' claim that sets out new ground in making illegal surveillance unchallengeable in the courts.
  5. Some talk of change, but only within the parameters defined by the insurance companies. There is no reason to believe that anything but the more marginal improvements are possible.
  6. No change, none at all. Democrats have always been at least as responsible for our gulags as the Republicans.
So what we have is more of the same. The more egregious thieves have hopefully been sidelined, cosmetic assurances of caring for the environment sound good to the public, but will probably have little real effect, and Obama's superstar status has the foreign press lapping up the new administrations hype without asking uncomfortable questions, yet.

But change, necessary change, is being avoided at all cost. The image that Obama presents is engaging, well spoken, and charismatic, but when you look behind the words there is nothing to see but the flailing of another apparatchik of the failed ruling class.

2 Comments:

Blogger Taru said...

I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I dont know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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