Hoping for Reality, for a Change

Originally published at The Benfell Blog. Please leave any comments there.

One might suppose that a “shellacking” in the November elections might compel Barack Obama to face up to reality. And I suppose in response, one would have to ask, which reality?

It’s certainly not the reality of a frightened and angry electorate. Whether you choose a hard line on the budget deficit or a Keynesian approach to the U.S. economic depression, the extension of Bush tax cuts—which predominantly benefited the rich—should be enough to make any sane—whatever that means—person cry.

The rich are not lacking for money. If giving them more is expected to reduce unemployment, one must ask just what big corporations are already doing with nearly $2 trillion in cash reserves and what has changed for small businesses that tax cuts that have already been in effect for years will suddenly spur hiring? Detractors call this strategy “pushing on a wet noodle.”

And the reality that Obama should face up to apparently doesn’t include the ongoing fiasco—though that’s far too trite a word when people are being killed—in Afghanistan. Whatever one might think of the discrepancy between the National Intelligence Estimates and the National Security Council’s claim of progress, the Washington Post‘s Eugene Robinson points out that the United States’ putative allies in the region, Afghanistan and Pakistan, are both undermining NATO efforts. His assessment?

The good news is that President Obama’s strategy in Afghanistan is “on track.” The bad news is that the track runs in a circle.

And the reality that Obama should face up to apparently doesn’t include climate change. According to Laura Carlsen at the America’s Program,

Todd Stern, U.S. representative to the [Cancun] talks, expressed his pleasure at the agreement, saying, “This result was fundamentally consistent with U.S. objectives.” The U.S. came in with a clear agenda to block any mandatory emissions controls. Responsibilities of historical polluters to pay up on the “climate debt” were successfully relegated to unspecified funds, which will likely include private market offset mechanisms and also could be offered as loans rather than grants. U.S. objectives were amply achieved in Cancun, placing the entire planet in serious jeopardy.

In other news, the U.S. government’s fury at the WikiLeaks releases means that suspected leaker Bradley Manning is being held in conditions that amount to torture in the hope that he will agree to testify against Julian Assange. As Glenn Greenwald notes, neither man has yet been convicted of any crime; Assange has yet to be charged.

Though all this sure sounds like it, this is not the George W. Bush administration. It is the Obama administration. It is a creature of the mainstream of the Democratic Party, the same mainstream of the same party that collaborated in all the abuses of the Bush administration. Everyone who voted for “hope” and for “change” was hoodwinked.

And they know it. As recently as a month ago, I was still seeing plenty of Obama bumper stickers as I drove around Sebastopol. I’m seeing a lot fewer now. Obama has embarrassed and shamed everyone who voted for him.