Jul 252011

Obama Hope Poster

After listening to a talk by Glenn Greenwald and reading a post at FiredogLake, thoughts that have been floating around in my consciousness for a while sort of gelled.  A light bulb lit and I had a moment of clarity. As many of us have believed, President Obama isn’t weak on specific issues or caving to the GOP. He isn’t being conciliatory. When he offers the Republicans more than they asked for, it’s not because he’s a bad negotiator or has a distorted view of compromise. The reality is much harder to swallow.

It’s because he supports the policies. He didn’t fight or even pretend to fight extending the Bush tax cuts. He wants to cut Social Security and other entitlements. I have bad news for the people (like myself) who voted for him expecting progressive change.

Obama is not a progressive. He raised more money from Wall Street than any of his competitors (and will again). Seriously, do you really think that the financial sector would make massive campaign contributions if they had any doubts about his loyalty? Furthermore, he is a Democrat in name only, he is a Corporatist, every bit as much the Speaker of the House and most other members of congress. They dance with the one that brung ’em. He is NOT on our side.

He had a legitimate opportunity to quickly wind down the war in Afghanistan after bin Laden was killed. He would have had bi-partisan support. Besides for the continuing loss of life and the hatred we engender, he chose to continue to spend our tax dollars on the Military. This (the military spending) combined with the Bush tax cuts is a manufactured crisis and makes the contrived need for entitlement cuts more believable and sellable to the public. By the way, lest we forget “entitlement” means that we are entitled to them because we paid for them. 

Obama has continued and even expanded the unconstitutional and intrusive policies of the Bush Administration. When I still had delusions that he would reverse the Bush era assault on our fundamental rights I was dumbfounded that he extended the Patriot Act without modification. Under Obama, the government’s practice of spying on us without any judicial oversight has been firmly fixed. The government can read our email, wire tap, intercept our cell phone calls and dig through our garbage without a judge to confirm that there is probable cause. Under this administration, the FBI has aggressively investigated peaceful political activists.

The ongoing drone strikes targeting individuals for execution, regardless of civilian casualties probably constitutes war crimes. He didn’t close Guantanamo because Congress wouldn’t let him move the whole facility including the ugliness of detentions without charges to Illinois. 

The United States continues the policy of imprisoning individuals indefinitely without charges or rights. We just do it in other countries like Somalia. They don’t bring them to the United States or Guantanamo to avoid having to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling that at a minimum detainees should be afforded the right of habeas corpus. 

I had high hopes for this administration. I no longer do. You can argue this assessment by pointing out the progressive nature of doing away with Don’t Ask Don’t Tell and deciding not to defend the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). I was delighted with these victories and while it’s hugely important to a relatively small segment of the population, it can’t really compare in scope with refusing to prosecute a single person from the financial sector for criminal fraud and causing the near collapse of the world economy. Actually, we’re not out of the woods yet.

It is also telling that the decision was made not to prosecute members of the Bush administration for the unprecedented deceit and abuses (war crimes) committed or for giving the telecoms immunity for their role in illegal wire tapping. In most of the policy decisions Obama has made, is the implicit or sometimes explicit understanding of who he is fighting for. I’m very sorry to say, it’s not us.