The New York Times ran a headline immediately after the inauguration today that read “President Obama Vows Era of Responsibility.” They quoted Obama as saying that with our current economic crisis we must deal with “our collective failure to make hard choices.”
Those are code words that really mean the “entitlement programs” need to be scaled back. Particularly Social Security and Medicare. There was no language in the speech about cutting the military budget or closing down bases of the empire. In fact in one flourish, where he talked about the “sacrifices” made to destroy Nazism and Communism, Obama sent out a call to the “terrorists” I presume, declaring “you cannot outlast us, and we will defeat you.”
Nothing was uttered about making the rich and the bankers pay back the $700 billion bailout they weaseled out of the tax payers by scaring the nation into thinking they would stabilize the economy if we just handed the national treasury over to them.
Nothing about holding accountable those who violated the Constitution by falsely leading us into war. Nothing about those who broke the law by spying on us and arresting and incarcerating innocent people without legal representation or trials.
Instead we are told to look ahead, get beyond the divisive past, forget that we’ve been used and abused, that we essentially must forgive and forget.
Many in the huge crowd cheered the words from our new president. They are happy that Bush is gone and hope that the coming change will allow them to return to more normal days.
Obama has set up a new organization to help him lobby for the policies that his administration will propose. People will get regular emails instructing them to lobby Congress on this bill or that one. One of the bills will be to help further enrich the insurance companies as the Obama team ignores strong public support for a single-payer health care system. Instead, it will be “health insurance for all” which will likely turn out to be a mandate requiring everyone to buy a health insurance policy just like we are now required to purchase auto insurance. For those who can’t afford it there might be some government subsidy available. In the end the government will facilitate the “market” and health care will remain a commodity and not a human right.
For those deeply concerned about climate change and our Mother Earth’s declining health we will have nuclear energy, “clean coal” and biofuels. We’ll see more government support for corporate control of food – genetically modified crops – promoted by Monsanto’s new Secretary of Agriculture.
In Obama’s opening words he talked about the early vision of our “founding fathers”. He intends to remain loyal to the rich white men who dreamed of their own empire – one that would challenge England’s global power. An empire that would push the Native Americans from their land, ravage the Earth for its natural resources, and move overseas to terrorize and colonize people in Hawaii, the Philippines, Guam, Latin America, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, and ultimately the moon in the sky.
Days ago I read a story in the mainstream press about wealthy Americans who had repeatedly given Obama big money for his campaigns and inauguration, at every legal opportunity. The Rockefeller family was one such clan mentioned who had given hundreds of thousands of dollars.
The rich in America are proud to boast once again about the “peaceful transition of power.” Yes indeed, they have ensured that they have again successfully moved from one president to another – even one party to another – while they remain in control. That is worth a few hundred thousand dollars. It’s almost an embarrassingly cheap investment.
Alas, only in America can the rich buy a self-proclaimed progressive politician, turn him rightward, and have the adoring masses stand and cheer as the packaged new leader calls for the people to prepare to accept cuts in social spending and ready their children for another war.
Last night Mary Beth and I had an hour-long phone conversation with an activist friend from Canada who had just been physically removed from an expensive luncheon honoring a Canadian general just back from Afghanistan. The conquering general was reporting on their participation in the “right war”. Our friend attended the coronation and silently stood before the general with a sign criticizing Canada for doubling its military budget, cutting social spending, and not focusing instead on dealing with the real enemy of the people – the looming threats of climate change.
Few of our Canadian friend’s “progressive” political allies want her to be so bold. She might create the wrong image, alienate some friendly politician, turn off potential donors or supporters, instead they’d like for her to be more reserved and refined. But she has babies and she has been schooled in the reality of the future under a planet in crisis. She hears the alarms ringing in her ears and pounding in her heart. She finds it hard to turn her eyes away from the great wrecking ball. Her conscience pulls her back toward the truth and forces her out of her isolation.
It is hard to look the other way. I’ve tried and too find it awfully hard to live with myself when I do.