8 08 2009

I was going to write a scathing article on how little difference there is, really, between the current and former occupants of the White House, but first Bill Maher and then  David Michael Green beat me to the punch. Here is a quote from Green’s scathing essay, which appears on the website Commondreams:

(Did you know that the Bush administration)…steered hundreds of billions of bail-out dollars to the very people who drove the country into the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, required nothing of these sharks in return, and did almost nothing for ordinary Americans struggling to survive this disaster?

…opposed congressional legislation limiting financial institution incentive pay packages that put the whole global economy at risk?

…opposed legislation allowing shareholders the right to have even a non-binding say on salaries, even though executives took home billions in bonuses last year while their companies were hemorrhaging money so badly they required a trillion bucks in taxpayer bail-out?

…actually threatened Britain, America’s closest ally in the world, with withdrawal of intelligence data that could prevent terrorist attacks unless the British government blocked one of its courts from accepting documented evidence of torture at Guantánamo?

from there, Green runs through a long list of infringements of civil liberties, unreasonable extensions of executive privilege, and various flavors of bigoted behavior before ending with

..dramatically increased the influence of religion in government, directly violating the First Amendment, by lavishly spending federal dollars on “faith-based” programs, and giving religious groups massively increased power and access within the White House to shape policy questions?

…stood by silently, allowing climate legislation to be watered down to nothing, to include generous pollution allowances to coal utilities, and to undermine the EPA’s authority to control carbon emissions?

…backed health care legislation that did little for the public and actually increased wasteful federal expenditures, while continuing to enrich insurance, medical, hospital and pharmaceutical corporation vampires?

…and lots and lots more.

At this point, Green reveals that everything on his list, which he credibly attributes to the Bush junta, has in fact been done by Obama.  Talk about “kinder, gentler conservatism”…Papa Doc Bush must be laughing from his grave, or wherever it is he seeks shelter when the sun is out….

Green didn’t even mention one of the Obushma administration’s more bizarre gaffes, which occurred when Gil Kerlikowske, our new “drug czar,” proclaimed

“‘Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit.”

Uhh…didn’t Obushma’s promise that he would base decisions on science, not politics?  Promises, promises.  Made to be broken, especially if you’re a politician and the subject is marijuana….but I digress….

OK, I have to admit I no longer have that persecuted feeling that got to be second nature during the years of the Bush junta.  Obushma and Biden are not a sociopath-and-his-bitch team like Cheney and Dubya.  They are smooth operators, and in some ways that makes them more dangerous.  Obama can be cast as the triumph of Martin Luther King’s vision, even though the record reveals that he is an Uncle Tom of the first order, a slavering lap dog of Wall Street, and in general a consumate, polished defender of  the privileged classes.   Obama is almost completely unlike Martin Luther King.  If he were alive today, I believe Rev. King would be lighting a fire under President Obama, not anointing him.  Sorry, folks, Obushma is more like Colin Powell or Conoleeza Rice than MLK.  You been had.

“Well, OK, Mr. Smarty Pants…what else is there?”

Another document that crossed my desk  recently came from the Green Party, and is entitled, “The First 100 Days:  What Would A Green Administration Look Like?”  It’s actually not a single document; in typical Green fashion, there are nearly a dozen essays on the subject from Greens all over the country, advancing proposals like these:

1: Initiate a one trillion dollar community-based grant-in-aid program from the national government to local communities. These funds will be channeled though collaborative arrangements between state and local governments. They will require maximum feasible participation in governance by all parts of each local community receiving these grants. A five percent matching grant from each participating local community is also required. The purposes of the grants are for sustainable community development and community empowerment. The grants include funds for renewable energy, conservation, workforce housing, small business development coupled with apprenticeship programs to hire the unskilled, open space,P extra support for teachers and for ecologically informed education, college scholarships, food and water security, public works, public transportation, regional cooperative pro­jects, support for neighborhood policing programs, and support for the arts. This replaces the 750 billion dollar “bailout from the top” scheme initiated in late 2008 called the Troubled Asset Relief Pro­gram (TARP).

2: Direct the national Treasury Depart­­ment to shift the measurement of economic progress away from reliance on Gross Domestic Product (GDP) to reliance on Gen­uine Pro­gress Indicators (GPI). This will assist government officials, business executives, and university economists to provide, and be provided with, a critical tool to measure sustainable economic activity. We can no longer deceive ourselves that 50,000 deaths a year on our highways contributes to our well being—which by present measurements seems to be the case because all the work connected with these deaths adds to the GDP. Other sources included in the GDP include: building more prisons, piling up waste, buying more oil because our buildings leak tons of energy, waging wars for oil (adding enormously to the GDP!) instead of shifting to renewable energy. We need to measure well being, not commodity transactions of goods and services.

3: Substantially lower the income tax and combine this with a carbon tax of $250 per ton to be phased in at the rate of $25 per year from 2009 to 2020. The carbon tax would be offset with a matching reduction in income tax. This is advocated by Lester Brown of “State of the World” fame and is designed to discourage fossil fuel use and to stimulate investment (in) renewable sources of energy.

4: Extend Medicare to the entire population; in other words, a single-payer health care program for all.

Another essayist proposed

The President will instruct the EPA to place a moratorium on new permits for coal fired-power plants, and will instruct the NRC that there will be no new nuclear power plants in the future. Existing nuclear plants will be decommissioned as expeditiously as possible, starting with the oldest plants, or plants with the most consistent violations first.

The President will instruct the EPA to enact rules which will:

  1. Quickly, reduce by 90% the mercury emissions of coal-fired power plants by 2012.
  2. Make rules reducing CO2 and SO2 emissions by 80% by the year 2020.
  3. Regulate the disposal of coal-fired power plant wastes in a manner that will protect human health and the environment.

EPA will be instructed to impose a moratorium on new permits for mountain top coal removal, while the Administration works to ban the process. EPA, through rule making, will ban the dumping of mountain top removal wastes in stream beds and valleys.

In the realm of foreign policy, we find ideas like these:

If we wish to undercut support for al-Qaeda, it is imperative that we work for a just resolution in the Middle East. This requires engaging with Hamas and supporting human rights and international law in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It also requires that the U.S. negotiates with Iran, and for the U.S. to obey the Nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Under this treaty, Iran has the right to develop nuclear energy while the U.S. is supposed to make a good faith effort for nuclear disarmament. The U.S. must also end its occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan and work with the U.N., the surrounding nations including Iran, and the indigenous populations on plans to stabilize these two nations. The U.S. must also pay huge reparations to both Iraq and Afghanistan for the devastation it has caused.

It is essential for world stability that we improve relations with Russia. Instead of provoking crises with Russia through acts that do little to enhance our security, the U.S. should work to reduce tensions. Among other things, this means that the U.S. should push for the disbanding of NATO and also cancel plans for establishing tracking radars in the Czech Republic and placing missiles in Poland.

OK, so the Green Party mouse has wonderful plans for the American elephant…but the thing about this little Green Party mouse is, it can grow.  We can spread virally through the grass roots of America, start winning local, then state, then national elections, and turn this country and this world back from the brink that those who pursue privilege are pushing us over.  It is not too late, but it is almost too late.  It will take all of us doing all we can, but what else can we do?  Long ago, Joe Hill, on the eve of his state-sponsored murder, counseled his fellow IWW union members, “Don’t mourn, organize.”

We had better get organized, or there will be no one left to mourn.

music:  Paul Robeson, “Joe Hill




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