Barack Obama’s left-liberal and self-styled radical supporters are having to contort themselves ever more bizarrely in order to maintain their faith in Barack the Hero. One writer recently claimed that Barack’s strategy in hiring such champions of the establishment as Tim Geithner, Tom Vilsack, etc., is “give ’em enough rope and they’ll hang themselves”–that there is simply too much momentum behind the failed policies so enthusiastically followed by these insiders to stop them in their tracks–we have to let them play out until it’s obvious to everyone that continuing to subsidize the Washington/Wall Street magicians who made this mess is just going to sink us deeper.
Excuse me, guys,that’s wishful thinking. Just about everybody in the world knows who the crooks and thieves are, and what they did, and what ought to be done to them by way of justice, but the US still has the biggest military in the world and the jet fuel to make it work, and as long as we have that gun pointed at their heads and as long as our creditors think there’s a prayer of getting some kind of payback on their US investments, the rest of the world will continue to be polite to us, until we’re too drowned in our own juices to put up a fight, and then the fun will begin.
Meanwhile, the Obama administration continues to favor the rich and screw the poor, on just about every issue you can name.
At the recent “health care summit” at the White House, the most popular opinion–that we need single-payer, not-for-profit, “Medicare for everyone,” was only included, at a token level, at the last minute, due to popular outcry. As with the bank mess, the government’s emphasis continues to be on ensuring the continued existence of a private, for-profit system and its governing elite than on insuring Americans. Single payer health care is off the table.
The recent “stimulus bill” spent money on rebuilding roads, but largely neglected mass transit and intercity railroads, in the face of the fact that all three American automakers are on the verge of failure. Who is going to be able to afford a new car in the future? Who are we trying to kid here? The obvious solution to the Detroit dilemma would have been for them to start building rail passenger vehicles instead of cars, but nooo….that was off the table.
The question of legalizing marijuana as a way out of the “War on Drugs” has repeatedly been thrown in Obama’s face, and he just smiles and rolls his eyes and dismisses “the online audience,” when it was the same “online audience” who gave him his big break. Well, considering that those folks backed a candidate who is now basically telling them to go BLEEP themselves, maybe marijuana use wasn’t all that good for their powers of discernment…but hey, I never trusted the guy. Like old Cheech and Chong movies, some of the people who love the herb the most can give it a bad name…but I digress..anyway, marijuana legalisation is off the table.
Of course, withdrawing US forces from the Afghani quagmire (and using all the money we’re burning there for domestic needs) is off the table.
And, speaking of war, there’s the war crimes issue…we now know why Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid always said impeaching Bush and Cheney was “off the table”: the leading Democrats were complicit in the torture, the illegality of our invasion of Iraq in the first place, and the fabrication of evidence that “justified” it, and so any investigation of the Cheney/Bush junta would inevitably point back to them. We hung Japanese soldiers who waterboarded Americans, and we hung Nazis commanders and commoners for giving orders and “only following orders,” but when Americans do that (to dark-skinned people, by the way), we may crucify a few low-level soldiers, but their superiors will go free or get a slap on the wrist, or, as Apologist-General, excuse me, I mean Attorney General, Holder said, possible disciplinary action from their Bar Associations. War crimes trials, smoking gun or no, are off the table.
And you can bet that if we’re not going to prosecute our war criminals, we’re not going to be prosecuting our financial criminals. Making Wall Street pay for screwing us, instead of paying them to keep doing it? Off the table.
So, if every solution dictated by common sense, or common decency, is “off the table,” what’s ON the table?
Just as “In nomine Patrii, Filii, et Spiritus Sanctus” was the mantra of state-sanctioned religion in ages past, so “continued economic growth” is the mantra of our current state religion, Radical Fundamental Economic Materialism. Lots of right-wing nutjobs like to claim that Obama studied at some madrassa somewhere, all the while ignoring the reality that the University of Chicago, where he did study, is an American madrassa that sheltered the dangerous religious fanatic Milton Friedman, whose fundamentalist preachments have inspired thousands of Neo-Cons and Neo-Liberals to implement policies that have cost hundreds of thousands of people their lives, and ruined millions more. These guys make the Taliban look small-time, know what I mean?
Now, Obama is no neo-con, but he is definitely showing himself to be a neo-liberal, and as such–I wish it wasn’t the case–as out-of-touch and unfit to govern as his late, much more obviously inept predecessor. We cannot have “continued economic growth” on this finite, resource-limited planet. We could have parceled out our oil for really necessary, important stuff, and had it for thousands of years, meanwhile avoiding all the pollution we have caused by burning it so fast, but no, we (or rather, our supposedly responsible “Captains of Industry”) chose to use it up as quickly as possible. “Maximum profits now, to hell with later,” has been our motto for the last couple of hundred years, and now it is later, and the maximum profits are over, and what are we going to do?
One core belief of Radical Fundamentalist Economic Materialism that bears examination is its firm commitment to “compound interest,” a notion that assumes that we will always be wealthier in the future than we have been in the past. This is turning out to be as illusory as the notion that Muslim martyrs will have twenty virgins waiting for them in Paradise….okay, we don’t know that that’s a false promise, nobody’s reported back from Paradise to confirm or deny…hey, maybe they’re too busy with all those virgins….but you get my drift.
All the obscure financial devices that have lately blown up in our faces have been attempts by devotees of Radical Fundamentalist etc. to get around the fact that there are limits to growth. They could succeed no more than the nineteenth century’s dreams of ascending to the moon in a hot-air balloon. The small-scale parallel to these big “financial instruments” is the idea that we can somehow get Americans to borrow money and be” consumers” again, and that will “get our economy moving again.” It ain’t gonna happen, folks. If it did, it would just screw up the US’s balance of payments, the world oil market, and the environment even further.
So, that’s what’s “on the table.” In a word, “baloney.” Continued support for the wealthy, continued repression of the poor and open-minded (hence the refusal to fix our crazy drug laws), and continuing to keep America’s gun held to the rest of the world’s head. What’s to do?
It’s time, and past time, to kick over the table and take the lunatic’s gun away. Not in the sense of staging a violent revolution, which is an impossible, romantic dream in a culture as vast and complex as ours, but by carefully, quietly moving from the ground up to create local networks, elect sensible local officials, and then move on to the state and national levels. There is still time to do this, but, like every other resource on the planet, that time is running out. We had better seize the day.