Back to the topic at hand. While traveling today on my way to buy groceries (OK, two side stops at my favorite second hand stores), I listened to a speaker on NPR radio by the name of Samuel Claiborne. Now, I'm not familiar with Mr. Claiborne and, since it is Friday night, I've no desire to look him up, but I'd like you to listen to what he has to say. Actually, you'll have to read it.
3/27/09: Meet the New Boss...The entire piece is here and I've gotten off my Friday Night duff and done a little Googling while you were reading. Mr. Claiborne is quite a spectacular guy and you can read all about him here.
I see that the left's honeymoon with Obama is still in full swing, despite mounting evidence that he's not going to be a very liberal president at all. I know it's early. I know we can't blame him for Republican partisan slash and burn tactics in Congress. But we can blame him for the company he keeps, and the policies he crafts, and for legacy policies that he upholds rather than repudiates.
The Justice Department announced that it would adhere to the Bush administration's position that detainees imprisoned at a U.S. air base in Afghanistan have no right to challenge their confinement in U.S. courts. Habeus Corpus loses again. Treasury Secretary Geitner was former Secretary Paulson's right-hand man during the crafting of the initial, woeful T.A.R.P. plan - the one that had no real oversight at all for how the money was spent - hence, no easing of the credit crunch, and big bonuses for execs of the bailed out companies. Geitner and Paulson are both veterans of Wall Street. Couldn't Obama have picked someone more Progressive, like Paul Krugman, or former Labor Secretary Robert Reich? Similarly, Robert Rubin, another top architect of the Obama economic plan, helped destroy Citibank while receiving a salary of over 100 million dollars annually. And Lawrence Summers, Obama's chief economic advisor, loves tax cuts and hates infrastructure. Sounds like… Bush! These people are embedded representatives of the culture of unrestrained greed and short-term gain that got us into this mess - do we really want the foxes guarding the hen house again
Obama abrogated his own promise not to hire lobbyists into his administration, citing the financial meltdown as a mitigating factor. Yes, I'm absolutely sure that there are no people outside of the power/money elite that have the skills and background to do the job.
Despite the most catastrophic economic meltdown since the 1930's, no one from the President on down through his administration has talked about our bloated, unsustainable military budget. Instead, all signs point to a heroin-like injection of even more capital into military projects, which will provide some short-term relief, and major withdrawal symptoms later on. This country has been on a permanent war-economy footing since 1939, and we simply can't sustain it. Yet Obama refuses to even speak to the issue.
This financial crisis is actually an incredible opportunity to change this country's direction and to challenge some of the basic tenets of our government and economy that have been taken for granted for years. It's an opportunity that hasn't been seen since the early days of FDR. Unlike FDR, Obama is dealing with a much more intransigent Republican faction in congress which is more intent on bloodying him and the Democratic Party than in saving working people's lives, livelihoods, and dreams. But he's not even speaking to the real problems. He's not even trying to inject new thinking into the old order. Instead, he's surrounded himself with the usual Beltway/Wall Street suspects.
And look at the Stimulus Bill, and compare it to what FDR did; very little money for boots on the ground projects, lots for bloated government apparatchiks and… I can't believe it… LOTS MORE TAX CUTS!). Sure, he needed some Republican votes. But the input from the Obama side itself had woeful little in terms of infrastructure construction and repair. The bill should have created something akin to FDR's massive work programs, targeting infrastructure. Instead, we get incremental, timid, mostly status-quo mediocrity.
No, Obama isn't Bush - don't mistake what I'm saying for that. But there is a whiff of 'meet the new boss, same as the old boss' - or at least, it's feeling a bit more like that than 'change we can believe in'. Same old crew, same old policies, polished up a bit. And the same lobbyists swimming in a stream of money, sucking on the body politic like Remoras. Far from being the most Liberal president in my lifetime Obama seems firmly embedded in the power elite, and towing the line for the Military-Industrial Complex. It's time for the left to make some noise. It's time to stop wishing, and fantasizing, and imbuing Obama with all of our hopes and dreams, and start demanding some action on the ground.