I could be wrong. In fact, for all our sakes, I really, really hope I’m wrong. But it’s looking more and more like I’m going to be able to say, to all the social activists who shafted the Green Party again and worked and voted for Barack Obama, “Dumb-ass suckers! Nyah, nyah, ya stupid sumbitches, I told you he was just ‘Colin Powell with charisma’. You could have mobilized behind Cynthia McKinney, who is really black. Or you could have gotten behind Ralph Nader, who may not have Hussein for a middle name or Barack for a first name but is just one generation out of freaking Lebanon, for Chrissakes, but NO! You fell for a high yaller fellow who sounded so sincere, then turned out to be the DLC’s housebleep!” (That’s the “n word” that got bleeped, just in case you were wondering.)
And yes, I know how sincere, how real he can sound. When I first saw him on TV, watching with my mother, a deeply devoted Democrat who did not live quite long enough to see the neocons get thoroughly trounced in last Fall’s election, we both commented on how he did not sound like a politician. He didn’t, you might say, bloviate like most Senators and governors and other members of the blowdried set.
But it’s starting to look like it was all a front. This is not a new regime, this is Clinton III. The neocons have been replaced by the neoliberals, and Neo is just a character in a movie. There is no savior in sight. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.
In October, In These Times Magazine, a supposedly radical publication that had shilled ceaselessly for Barack, published a breathless list of all the really cool people they hoped he would appoint. Not one of them made the grade.
And what do we get from “Obama’s dream team”? While Jim Hanson warns that coal is killing the planet and anybody who can add can see hat nuclear power makes no sense, energy secretary Steven Chu insists that “coal and nuclear energy are critical parts of the nation’s energy mix” and that he will pursue clean coal, safe nuclear, and, I suppose, perpetual motion machines. Hey, they’re all equally likely, it’s just that perpetual motion doesn’t have a multi-billion dollar industrial base lobbying for it in Congress.
As I was writing this, I heard the news that Tom Vilsack’s nomination as Secretary of Agriculture “sailed through the Senate with bipartisan support,” if I remember NPR correctly. Vilsack, while he says he supports organic agriculture, is better known as a strong backer of genetically modified crops, concentrated animal feeding operations, and using corn and soybeans to make fuel, which as everybody knows by now is even more wasteful than feeding them to animals. He also pushed through a bill in Iowa that made it illegal for local communities to ban GMO crops, which threaten the possibility of organic agriculture due to pollen’s pesky tendency to spread on the wind.
At Health and Human Services, Obama tried to appoint Tom Daschle, who proposed to “reform” health care by creating a Federal Reserve-type agency to oversee our current private health care system. Hey, the Federal Reserve has done a swell job, hasn’t it? Take that, all you folks who thought you’d get a single-payer system out of Obama! And just because Daschle got shot down, don’t bet that his replacement will be any more radical. The fact that Daschle was in bed with the insurance industry seemed to be secondary to his unpaid taxes…I’m no defender of the Democrats, but why is it that Repugs can get away with just about anything, but Democrats have to be paragons of virtue? Can you say, “Double standard,” boys and girls?
Oh, this just in! Obama is considering Phil Bredesen for the post! The guy is a known health care vampire–he got rich off of other’s suffering, he “fixed” health care in Tennessee by denying it to tens of thousands of people, and he let quadraplegic Paul House languish in jail for years for a murder he didn’t commit. Heckuva job, Obrownie!
Furthermore, Obama has nominated Sanjay Gupta for US Surgeon General. Gupta is well known as a medical commentator on CNN, and also well known in some circles as the guy who lied in order to appear to successfully rebut some of the points Michael Moore made in Sicko. Hey Mike, what a great payoff for all the work you did for Obama, huh? Do you like to bend over and spread? Too bad, ’cause that’s what Obama just told you to do!
And, while Gupta has expressed limited support for medical marijuana and therapeutic uses of MDMA, he has also said
I suspect that most of the people eager to vote yes on the new ballot measures aren’t suffering from glaucoma, Alzheimer’s or chemo-induced nausea. Many of them just want to get stoned legally. That’s why I, like many other doctors, am unimpressed with the proposed legislation, which would legalize marijuana irrespective of any medical condition.
“Why do I care? As Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, puts it, “Numerous deleterious health consequences are associated with [marijuana’s] short- and long-term use, including the possibility of becoming addicted.”
So take that, all you hope fiends who made “ending the drug war” the most popular idea on Obama’s transition website. Thanks for your votes, now get lost.
There’s a lot I haven’t talked about here–the financial sector being the most glaring omission, but that’s been well covered elsewhere and I think I’ve shown enough of the pattern so that it’s obvious that what we are looking at here, overall, is not a wonderful popular revolution. We have exchanged 1984 for Brave New World, that’s all. A “kinder, gentler” fascism.
Yes, we are still in the throes of a fascist takeover in this country. The collapse is still happening, and the government will still be primarily concerned with blunting its impact, not on the people, but on the corporations that form the core of its support. To this end, we will likely see increasing regulation and corporatization of the economy, and increasing attempts to bring the informal economy–local craft workers and repair people, farmers’ markets and small farms, yard sales, Craig’s list, etc.–to heel. I think this will be balanced out by the increasing disorganization of American society and the decreasing ability of the government–at any level–to enforce its will.
And maybe I’m wrong. I hope I’m wrong. It would be great if Obama is telling all the Washington insiders he has enlisted, “OK, suckas, you got us into this mess, now all you smart-asses figure out how to get us out of it, or heads are gonna roll!” But somehow, I doubt that this is the case.
Meet the new boss, same as the old boss….
Music: The Who, “Don’t Get Fooled Again“